Unit 11: Exploration of Specialist Study and Context Task 2

My Big Final Major Project Pitch

I have an exciting project that I am going to make, it is a dance music video for a track that is experimental and consists of a blend of Afro and House music. My track is called ‘Fall in Love’ it is about bringing cultures together and breaking boundaries to fall in love and celebrate cultural diversity. By creating a dance craze by the dancers I am in contact with, this would also bring cultures together.

Influences

– M.I.A.

Born as Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, she goes by the name of M.I.A. She is a British rapper, singer-songwriter and record producer who styles out with Hip-Hop, Grime, Reggae, Rap Ballad, Alternative rock and Asian Folk. She experiments with various genres of Hip-Hop, Electro and traditional world music with influences from her background culture from Sri Lanka.

M.I.A.’s name is an acronym for “Missing In Action” but back then she branded as “Missing In Acton” . That refers to her cousin as well as “so many of my cousins are missing in action in Sri Lanka.” Her song ‘Galang’ is an example of experimental music with Dancehall, Electronica and Worldbeat which was recorded with a Roland TR 505 drum machine and a four-track recorder. M.I.A was introduced to the 505 from Peaches who she did a documentary about her life after she tried to put pieces together an documentary about her life in political repression and violence she been through. Since after Peaches introduced the 505 to M.I.A., she began experimenting hip-hop with electronic clash sounds as while she was in Bequia, Caribbean with a friend to get away from the hard times. She commented when she was recording that she “was bored and tried to write a song”. This is where it lead the evolution of making experimental songs like ‘Galang’ for instance.

She originally wanted someone to provide vocals on her track but she provided her vocals instead after getting rejected by many of people who turned her down. The song title ‘Galang’ came from the Jamaican slang for ‘go on.’

That’s where British DJs were into that song and it got the attention of record labels wanted to sign M.I.A. In the end, XL Recordings won the bidding war to sign her to the house hold famous icons like Prodigy, Badly Drawn Boy and The White Stripes in 2004.

Her music continues to expand into more experimental music, with the likes of ‘Bad Girls’ (the song I liked) is an example of experimenting hip-hop with Bollywood themed fusion. The lyrics were primarily more on sexual empowerment and feminism. It was described as “irresistibly sassy” (Digital Spy) and “surprisingly melancholy” (The Rolling Stones).

M.I.A. has come across as an artist whose ambitions to deliver her experimental songs, as it was like a poetry of her life in response to the hard times in Sri Lanka and trying to get a clear message in empowerment of her views as an artist. I do agree with her as an music producer in experimentation of her songs she produce crossing over hip-hop, Asian and electronic music. As well as writing about her political views about Sri Lanka, her feminism empowerment and her herself as “being human” who is “a freak, a nutty, creative person who’s thoughtful.” I presumably guess that she is a very open minded artist with creativity of experimenting genres that she feels comfortable with.

– Fuse ODG

Born as Nana Richard Abiona, but better known by his stage name of Fuse ODG, Fuse is a Ghanaian born English rapper, singer and songwriter who was responsible for bringing the Afro Beat genre to the UK with songs like ‘Antenna’, ‘Azonto’, ‘Dangerous Love’ (feat. Sean Paul) and ‘Million Pound Girl (Badder Than Bad)’.

His stage name came about as a ‘fusion’ of musical creativity and ODG is short for “Off Da Ground” (as you may heard in some of his songs). Fuse is another example of combining Afro Beat with dance, dancehall, hip-hop, R&B and funk music while styling rap, singing and dance moves like ‘Azonto’ (same name as the song).

Fuse is destined to build a platform for the masses through music to deliver African music and dance moves to the UK after he had been visiting his homeland and other Nations in Africa. There he met new people and saw the habits, lifestyles and parts of Africa that most of the world has never seen before. This has led Fuse to create the movement he founded as TINA which stands for This Is New Africa. The purpose of TINA is to urge Africans to revive a new chapter of his country to the communities of the world, to build a platform to teach people in the world about Africa.

I like how Fuse wanted to build a platform to show and teach the world about the brighter side of Africa than showing the negative media biased news. The negativity went on so much, Fuse wanted to showcase TINA through music to teach people from around the world about the other side of Africa, while urging African people to revive its chapter in the 21st century. I can understand why Fuse wanted to do this for so long and I agree with him as an artist. The reason why I agree with him is because he doesn’t believe media biased adverts, news and charities like Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’. Which all of those are not true and it can lead to some people to believe what media biased said than seeing the good side of Africa they haven’t saw or seen it today or previously.

– Tropical House

Tropical House aka Trop house is a subgenre of deep house which is a subgenre of house music. The name of the genre was first mentioned as a joke from Australian DJ Thomas Jack, but back in mid and late 2000’s, Bob Sinclair and Yves Larock made song hits which were the prelude to tropical house.

In 2012, Unicorn Kid had made a tropical rave which is a faster form of the genre which would later become known as Tropical house. It was not until in 2013, Klangkarussell’s ‘Sun Don’t Shine’ was a bigger hit in the UK at No.3 while the emergence of producers like Kygo and Robin Schulz later came into the genre that became a music trend.

In 2015, Tropical house came into the mainstream when Justin Bieber’s album Purpose contains some Tropical house including his biggest hits like ‘What Do You Mean?’ and ‘Sorry’. The difference between Tropical house and Deep house is that two genres are very different and complete opposite. Tropical house sounds much lighter and relaxing while Deep house sounds much darker. Tropical’s BPM is 110 to 115 BPM, much slower than Deep house 120 to 124 BPM. The instrumentation of Tropical takes from Reggae and Dancehall music like for example, steel drums and marimba (bigger version of xylophone).

Tropical House has established into the mainstream chart in 2010’s. It’s very unusual for an experimental genre of Deep House and Tropical Caribbean fusions of dancehall and reggae to come as successful from the likes of Robin Schulz, Felix Jaehn and Sam Fedlt etc. I like how it smooths the characteristics of the composition in Tropical House to sound like it’s a lounge session or in a club where it eases the tensions of the tensity to feel relax and calm. My only slight criticism is that in today’s pop music, Tropical House has now been classified as mainstream pop because of the attention of artists like the DJs/remixers as mentioned above, Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran, Clean Bandit and Major Lazer etc, have made it mainstream, thanks to their global recognition. I felt that it can be annoying and I think it’s comepletly too much how it became mainstream pop more in terms of chart success than House music. Only reasoning is because the music scene has changed so much, it can drive away its original sound and purpose than being classified mainstream.

– Afrobeat

Afrobeat is a musical genre that was created by Fela Kulti, who was a Nigerian multi-instrumentalist and bandleader. Fela gave its name in 1963 and released his music, but did not achieve its recognition of his recordings until the 1970’s when he released his classic recordings.

When Kulti was recording Afrobeat songs, he was trying to distinguish himself from American soul music artists such as James Brown. He wanted to create a genre that would represent himself and his nationality, not make it as comparable to American music. Afrobeat consists of highlife, yoruba, percussion with American funk and jazz and the chanted, call-and-response vocals and complex interacting rhythms. Kulti established a club called ‘Afrika Shrine’ which his band called Africa ’70 maintained a five-year residency between 1970 and 1975 while keeping Nigerian youth thrived and happy.

Kulti expressed his political messages through the genre that he helped create. He tried to show social criticism of the time back then in Africa, showing what happened after corrupt colonial governments had affected the lives and culture of Africa. Kulti and the other founding fathers of Afrobeat, expressed their social criticism in the hope of effecting social changes. He showed the fiery and confrontational attitude in his political criticism through Afrobeat as a platform.

Afrobeat was at the heart of dance music during that time, Kulti’s performances had hardly allowed his targeted audiences to fall into the grooves. This was because of the challenges of his choreography of his band and backup singers, the songs were long and out of time and his frequent political lyrics that was aimed at creating international debate.

In the recent years, Afrobeat grew slowly to mainstream thanks to artists like Fuse ODG who brought the genre to London for his movement called #TINA (This Is New Africa) as Fuse explains the “movement will shed the light on Africa in the positive way and focus on how we can improve Africa.” Afrobeat has now reached international limelight thanks to Drake‘s song ‘One Dance’ featuring Nigerian artist WizKid and British singer Kyla. The song consists of Dancehall and Afrobeat genres and it reached number one in 15 different countries including Canada, United Kingdom and United States.

I really find this research very interesting and intriguing because of his momentum of creating Afrobeat was meant to separate himself from the American soul and jazz music as he wanted himself to be not associated with the American music scene and not compare himself to those artists like James Brown . His political messages he comes across is his method through Afrobeat to deliver his criticism to his selected target audiences. I understand how in the past Africa was under the corruption by the colonial governments, Fela wanted to express his views to connect to his peers but he had found it difficult to allow his audiences to fall into the groove of his performances.

Crossover (music)

Classic Crossover music is a genre that crosses parts of classical and popular music, blending the work of performers who want to appeal to different types of audiences. Classically trained performers are trained in the operatic style to sing popular songs, folk music, show tunes or holiday songs.

Even though it may reference pop stars singing classical repertoire, Crossover applies to the work of performers, vocal or instrumentation to create a synthesis between classical and pop styles. In terms of Crossover, it can have a negative impact and be associated with cultural appropriation, implying the dilution of a music’s qualities in favour of the tastes of the masses. For instance, in the early days of rock ‘n’ roll, some songs were written and originally recorded by African-American artists but were re-recorded by white artists for the likes of Pat Boone in different styles of tone and with lyrics changed, but lacking on the edginess of the originals. The covers by white musicians were hugely successful with a broader audience ever since.

Shakira recorded the official 2010 World Cup song ‘Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)’ in collaboration with South African group called Freshlyground. The lyrics of the song encourages people to achieve their goals like a player on the field. The song is sampled from the 1986 song ‘Zangléwa’ by the Cameroonian makossa group Golden Sounds. When the song was released, it received much controversy from African people, mainly based on FIFA‘s decision on Shakira recording a song about Africa which should have been recorded by an African/African-born artist. However, one group member of Freshlyground named Kyla-Rose Smith defended FIFA’s choice to select the song as the official song for 2010 World Cup. As she explained “I think that the World Cup is a global event but it’s also a business, a huge marketing exercise. FIFA requires a musician of a certain global reach to appeal to all the different kinds of people who are involved and witness and watch the World Cup. So I understand the choice of someone like Shakira.”

Crossover music can be useful to blend two parts of genres that I can experiment to find something interesting and exciting so I can carry on doing more experimental fusions of genres from two separate sides. That’s what I what to achieve to explore different sounds to mix and experiment two or more genres to find out if it’s useful to carry on or leave as it be. We can experiment different fusions of any genres from around the world and as a music producer like myself, we got to be very careful to the selected target audiences when releasing a experimental song to the world. Sometimes they either like it or they opposed to that song. The reason why we have to be careful is because we don’t want to be the wrong end of the stick if the targeted audience felt we’re imitating their original song. For example, like I explained about Shakira recorded ‘Waka Waka’ for 2010 World Cup and every African people criticised Fifa’s decision for not selecting an African artist to sing about Africa. That can be a good idea to select an born African artist or two to record a song about their native country but how is it going to attract the world to buy that song from a lesser-known artist(s)? This is why they selected Shakira because she’s a global recognition that everyone would buy the song if it has Shakira involved. Sometimes whenever we make an crossover song or two, we have a choice to experiment any sounds from various different backgrounds of cultures or music genres to release it to the wider range of different audiences to hear the outcome or do we not risk it in case we do not want to imitate their sounds.

The Black Eyed Peas – ‘Where is the Love?’

Where Is the Love? is a 2003 pop song by The Black Eyed Peas from their album Elephunk. The song is about things not being in the right order, accepting people for what they are, not who you think they are and the way they live their lives and love everyone.

The lyrics in the song describe a sad troubled world and ask why is the world like this and why we can’t live together.

“People killing, people dying,
Children hurt and you hear them crying,
Can you practice what you preach,
Or would you turn the other cheek.”

The first line explains people kill other people and somebody has to take responsibility because vulnerable people suffer as in the second line. The third and the fourth lines talk about your reaction to violence as a question, do you take action or do you turn the other check?

“Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids want to act like what they see in the cinemas.”

The first line talks about the media, like newspapers, news on TV and online tabloids, and portrays the stereotypical stories presented by the media in the wrong way, grabbing the public’s attention with stereotypes. For example, the media portrays ethnic minorities, LGBT, those with disabilities and gang crime in one way, without asking these groups how they see themselves.

The second line explains the images were negatively shown like for instance, in some newspapers are the main criteria. For example, the stories of Stephen Lawrence murder in some newspapers borrowed the image of Lawrence and darken the photo in the journalists’ vision while the one of the murders’ photo was lighten in the newspaper as a racial stereotype.

The third and fourth lines talks about the children who are younger, are most likely to be affected by the stereotypes faster than bacteria. Eventually they will grow up and see some of these stereotypes like they saw in cinemas. Children will learn that what they saw is an illusion, a mirror of the reality they never saw for real.

The reviews of the song have positive sides citing the lyrics, the message and the singing from the group and Justin Timberlake.

The fans have cited this as a “national song of the world” as it’s “very vague ‘anti-war’ message has certainly struck a chord” and “absolutely superb single.”

However, there is a harsh negative side, in that some people used to like this song but found the lyrics were “forced”, the rapping was “awkward” as if they were “reading, stumbling and placing accents at the wrong places” and it was almost “kinda the ‘Jesus Walks’ of The Black Eyed Peas.”

I known this song since I was little kid and I love this song as it’s one of my favourite songs of the 2000’s. I think that people who are against wars that happened in the past should consider this song as a world peace letter to ask myself, yourself and themselves “Where Is the Love?”. That’s what everyone asked when wars and terrorists’ attacks happened in the past, however in today’s world, there are some countries currently living in peace more or less while other countries are either still in war or previously and recently being attacked. It’s a tricky catch 22 scenario that in reality, there can’t always be peace everywhere in the world. We have to be careful around us what’s happening right now because we only say “we’re safe” if dangers and/or terror attacks aren’t near us but not always.

Village People – ‘Y.M.C.A.’

‘Y.M.C.A.’ is a 1978 song by the Village People from their album Cruisin’, the only single to be released from that album. The song refers to the organization of the same name, and has traditionally been seen as a celebration of the reputation the YMCA has within the gay community as a cruising and hookup spot, especially for younger men to whom the song was addressed.

However, Victor Willis (the Cop character) who wrote the song has stated that YMCA was not about the gay community but a reflection on young black urban youth having fun at the YMCA and doing activities such as basketball and swimming etc.

Bello and Jacques Morali (creators of the Village People) had intended this song to attract disco’s gay audience by featuring gay fantasies. Even though other members are heterosexual but still enjoyed the disco sound.

The lyrics: I’m going to explain what each line means so you can understand.

“Young man, there’s no need to feel down
I said, young man, pick yourself off the ground
I said, young man, ’cause you’re in a new town
There’s no need to be unhappy.”

The first line talked about telling a young man there is no need to be feeling down if he finds life a bit hard, to mingle with other people who might not agree with him as a gay person. The second, third and fourth lines explain he needs to get off the ground as he is new in town so there is no need to be sad about it. People who disapprove of him as gay would treat him differently and make him unwelcome in the town he had never been to before.

“Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, what do you want to be?
I said, young man, you can make real your dreams
But you got to know this one thing
No man does it all by himself
I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf
And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A
I’m sure they can help you today.”

The first and second lines talked about a young man listening to the question someone asked him, what does he want to do in the future? A young person who wants to grow up to become a teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a driver and/or entrepreneur etc. The third line explains in order to land a dream job, he can to make it happen if he ignores doubts from other people, but in the fourth line he’s got to know this one thing. The fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth lines talk about him not doing this by himself, by putting his pride aside and go to Y.M.C.A. so they can help anytime today.

“Young man, I was once in your shoes
I said, I was down and out with the blues
I felt no man cared if I were alive
I felt the whole world was so jive
That’s when someone came up to me
And said, young man, take a walk up the street
There’s a place there called the Y.M.C.A
They can start you back on your way.”

The third verse explained to the young man who the person who is guiding him was once in his shoes, that he was down and out with depression, felt no-one cared if he was dead or alive and felt the world was full of jive. Later he explained someone taught him a similar thing. What this person is explaining to the young man is that he told him to take a walk on the street and that’s where he found this place called Y.M.C.A. and they helped him to get himself back on his way to feeling joyful.

The reviews of Y.M.C.A. has received positively mainly on its meanings of gay community, the music and the song itself.

The fans (who are gay or not) has cited in their reviews on YMCA as “silly, fun, kinda gay, but enjoyable”, “solid” and “pleasant” and some find it as “good” as “aspiring art.”

One reviewer called ‘vauxhall1964’ has experssed positively as stated:

“How on earth did they get away with it? Easy. In the Seventies the media wouldn’t ask, the artists wouldn’t tell and the masses were none the wiser. Joe Public was oblivious to gay men’s appropriation of the iconography of American masculinity, looking instead for the age old (and reassuring) ‘cissy’. But Village People soon became embedded in the popular consciousness as archetypes of male homosexuality, stereotypes still trotted out decades after real life ‘homosexualists’ abandoned moustaches and chaps. But in 1978 such was the general public’s naivety that this group could be marketed to children and considered as potential recruiting sergents for the US armed forces. This is cultural subversion that tops anything masterminded by Malcolm McLaren for his Sex Pistols. A global number one that’s been passed down the generations, “YMCA” is a snapshot in time of the tension between post-Stonewall visibility and acceptance by the commercial mainstream. Song and video say as much about the sexual politics of the Seventies (and of today) as any doctoral thesis. Its blatant defiance is more ‘rock’n’roll’ than a thousand wannabe guitar-toting ‘rebels’; and it sure flushes out the homophobes. One of the truly great American singles.”

However, there are negative reviews that some people may find it “uninteresting and directionless”, some said it’s “flojo” (that’s Spanish for loose or weak), some said it “has soul but isn’t a soldier” and some said it’s “good” but they “don’t like it” but it’s “worth skipping.”

Even though I’m not a massive fan of this song but I do accept its lyrics that represent positive sides of gay community and it’s a good message for any gay people who would feel they are not alone in their own ways. It should be considered as a disco happy song as it’s a song to cheer ourselves and go with the flow with anyone who’s dancing. My criticism of this song is this can get overplayed too much if I’m in a night club or any other events. In general, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea who may or may not like this song depending on the type of crowd audience if it’s me or anyone playing this song.

Viral Video

A viral video is a tool shared through online social networking sites that can be used to share any type of videos such as dance, comedy, music and drama etc.

Before the existence of YouTube, there were videos in the 1990’s that were considered as internet’s early viral videos of the decade. In 1992, Trey Parker and Matt Stone were students at the University of Colorado who created a short movie called The Spirit of Christmas which was made using construction paper, glue and an 8mm film camera. The short movie got the attention from Fox executive Brian Garden who offered Parker and Stone a chance to make another short film that he could share as a Christmas video card. The 1995 remake titled Jesus vs. Santa was circulated on VHS tapes and the internet for a couple of months before getting the attention of Comedy Central. This film later became the creation of South Park. In Autumn 1996, ‘Dancing Baby’ was released as an experimental testing data of a baby dancing a cha-cha style of dance. It was created by 3D Studio Max with seven animator developers using Kinetix/Autodesk’s software ‘Character Studio’. This was shared quickly on web sites, emails, demo videos, featured in commercials and appeared on television.

In 2005, Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim who were the previous PayPal employees founded YouTube on February 14th and co-founder Jawed Karim uploaded the first ever video on 23rd April titled as ‘Me at the zoo’. It is currently still on YouTube with 11,542,637 views. In July 2006, 65,000 videos were uploaded daily and it was receiving by that time 100 million views a day. In other words, YouTube itself was branded as a viral sensation at the same time. In November 2006 Google purchased YouTube, a year after it first opened to the public. It exhibited an outstanding, unique video sharing platform. Since then, YouTube has uploaded more videos which have gone viral and have attracted more viewers every single day.

Based on this video I took inspiration from (inserted below), it is the craze dance move (the dab) that made it viral, increasing its popularity during 2015. The video by Eugy and Mr. Eazi called Dance For Me has got my attention because of the choreography, the shots of dancers either in groups and/or by themselves, and the colours and lighting of the video. It stands out as being very colourful and exciting.

In my opinion, the research I have found about viral videos shows that it can be very challenging to attract people’s attention and interests of what’s going on YouTube. To make it the centre of attention, I would share it onto Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat etc. It literally depends on if people are going to look at the video if it has a strong message, the content must be of a high quality, and it must have an introduction of no more than one minute. My only slight criticism I would think is if someone keeps on talking and showing or mimicking a viral video, it gets annoying and I would find it boring. If I was one of those people that I don’t mind everyone talks, watches and/or mimicking a viral video, it can only run a short time and after a while, no one will mention a viral video again. Take an example of PSY’s Gangnam Style music video was so viral, it reached one billion views on YouTube in 2012 making it a most viewed video in YouTube’s history. No one back then can’t stop talking about it because of the “horse dance” that no one can’t stop dancing to and finally, people were singing non-stop. After over a year since Gangnam Style went viral, no one was talking about that video craze ever since because people were already moved onto another viral video they find it interesting and exciting of 2013. Same goes for any viral videos that can be like a cycle except no on mentions the old viral instead replace it with another. In this case, if someone was carrying on doing Gangnam Style over and over, people would find it annoying as some would think that it’s old news.

Summary of my main influences

In summary, my main influences were chosen based on knowledge, skills and understanding of the social, political and cultural impact of each artist(s), songs and their importance.

M.I.A. – I’m not a huge fan of this artist but I understood what she did in the beginning of her career was interesting because she was experimenting with different genres in order to find her sound. Her song ‘Galang’ is full of electronica created with the Roland 505 drum machine before moving on to recording using different methods such as Logic Pro etc. Before she recorded the song, M.I.A. was rejected by many singers who refused to record vocals on her track, this led to her recording her own voice instead. She is known for her provocative style and for being outspoken about Sri Lankan politics. Her willingness to combine a mix of genres is something that I was inspired to do, hopefully this comes across in my music.

Fuse ODG – This artist is known for creating catchy, light-hearted rhythms that incorporate African music. Fuse ODG uses his music to promote TINA (This Is New Africa) which is something that is very important to him, because he wants the world to see a different side of Africa. He was also influenced by British music specificially Grime because he grew up both in Ghana and London. His style of Afrobeats has definitely influenced my music especially in my song ‘Fall in Love’.

Village People – Y.M.C.A. – This disco classic was a catchy late 70’s hit that allowed a group which had several gay members to gain mainstream attention. The message in this song is one of positivity and resilience, which is something I want to get across in my music. The group had trademark outfits which were based on fantasies of the gay community. This has become iconic.

Black Eyed Peas – Where Is the Love? – This early Noughties R&B song was a worldwide hit. The song promotes world peace and the catchy lyrics and associated logos and symbols catapulted the group to global recognition and was No. 1 in many countries. The song features singing and rapping that describes contemporary issues in America and the world. I was influenced by this song because I want to promote global unity in my own songs.

Crossover music – Crossover music still continues to grow, with artists known for particular styles of music featuring on tracks with artists from completely different genres. I looked at Shakira’s recent crossover work she did for the Official FIFA 2010 World Cup. That song featured traditional African influences as well as high tempo pop beat. Music like this influences me because I also want to combine genres of music with my songs.

Reference:

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Wikipedia, Bad Girls (M.I.A. song) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bad_Girls_(M.I.A._song) (accessed on 04/01/2017)

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