Digital Artefact Pitch: Eject Music

My Digital Artefact will exist on Instagram and Eject Music‘s website where I write Hip-Hop reviews, features and album analysis’. Wix is used to publish my pieces and Instagram is utilised to engage with my audience through a feedback-based loop of frequent content releases and discussions through the comment section and polls on stories.

This DA incorporates my passion/knowledge of music and journalism, similarly to my BCM112 DA. I hope to allow others and myself to immerse deeper into the Hip-Hop community and strengthen the relationship between a writer and readers. While this project is currently not monetised, I see it as a long term investment with Eject Music having the potential to grow as a company as well this work contributing to my journalism portfolio that will allow for future employment.

If you’d like to support my Digital Artefact, you can follow my Instagram or visit Eject Music for more, and consider following my blog!

Frank Tremain.

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How Global Are You?

For the first week of BCM111, we were asked to reintroduce ourselves with the question in mind of: How Global Are You? Though initially I considered myself as Australian as the next bloke, the more I thought about it and researched what it means to be global, the more I was wrong. Sure, I love an Indian curry and enjoy watching the occasional Studio Ghibli film but the idea of being global is much bigger than that, and can seem daunting at first.

In Ron Israel’s ‘What does it mean to be a global citizen?’, he believes a global citizen refers to someone who is a part of an “emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community’s values and practices.” Furthermore, he states that this growing global identity is made possible through modern information, communication and transportation technologies. With this in mind, I think we can all attest to being somewhat of a global citizen. Through transportation technologies, I’ve had the opportunities to travel to Fiji, England, Germany, France, Portugal and my mother’s home country, Holland. These travels have opened my eyes in appreciation as I’ve been exposed to a variety of amazing cultures, some of which like the Dutch have played an important role in my upbringing. While I don’t believe travelling is an essential part of being a global citizen, I think it enriches your empathy and understanding of the world around you.

With modern information and communication technologies, a large portion of my identity has been formed through my tastes in entertainment. In music, for example, my favourite genre being Hip-Hop originally started in New York during the 1960’s, and historically has been used for African-Americans to voice their struggles of oppression. So how could someone so far removed from these events be so shaped by the product that it’s created? In a video from Duke Students, students claimed that being global means being educated on global affairs and listening to others. Through forms of entertainment such as Hip-Hop, I’m actively listening and being educated on global affairs. The globalisation of such a genre has allowed other artists to actively listen and use this medium to voice their own stories, creating a back and forth conversation of global issues for an international community to hear.

In Martin Shaw’s ‘Global Society & International Relations: Sociological & Political Perspectives’, he discusses the necessity of global responsibility. This global responsibility calls upon all of us and requires a civil society to move forward as one. You might feel like an individual’s responsibility won’t influence the global responsibility but it will, and it does. Your efforts of awareness and acceptance will help create the ideal global community. In summary, we must all strive to be Mr. Worldwide.

Frank Tremain.

References:

Duke Global 2017, Being Global Means…, Duke Global, viewed on 8 August 2019, <https://global.duke.edu/being-global-means&gt;.

Ron Israel 2013, What does it mean to be a global citizen?, openDemocracy, viewed on 8 August 2019, <https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/what-does-it-mean-to-be-global-citizen/&gt;.

Shaw, M. 2000, Global Society and International Relations: Sociological Concepts and Political Perspectives, e-book, accessed 8 August 2019, <http://users.sussex.ac.uk/~hafa3/global7.htm&gt;.

Algorithmic Control III: Privacy, Surveillance & The Price of Content

Being absent from my first BCM112 lecture, I thought it would be hard for me to understand this week’s topic. However, after examining the lecture slides and undertaking my own research, I realised that the topic of privacy, surveillance and the price of content is something that we can all too well relate to. While some companies such as Facebook and Google have denied claims that they’re always listening, there has been plenty of evidence to argue otherwise such as the video embedded below.

While I have adblocker on, I’m not affected by this sort of surveillance however just by being on the internet, my information is being collected, categorised and potentially sold. Regardless whether you’ve deleted or unliked your embarrassing Facebook posts from year 7, your data trace lives on and that information has circulated to a range of different companies and organisations. Even if you haven’t posted anything at all, your devices are always listening…

And it doesn’t matter what you think about it, because at this stage it’s likely you’ve already agreed to the terms of conditions.

Frank Tremain.

Injury Reserve – Injury Reserve

Written by Jarvis Regan.

Injury Reserve Album Cover.

RATING: 7.5/10

Must Listens:

  • Best Spot in the House
  • Jawbreaker (feat. Rico Nasty & Pro Teens)
  • Koruna & Lime

Phoenix trio Injury Reserve have spent six years dropping mixtapes and EP’s in the lead up to their self-titled debut album, but has the album proved to be the crescendo in their discography that they wished for?

Injury Reserve are comprised of producer Parker Corey and rappers Ritchie With a T and Stepa J. Groggs. An unusual trio with an even more unusual discography, Injury Reserve are aiming for a coveted and barely-attainable position within musical artistic qualification, the position where an artist or group can create experimental music with a pop appeal. So far over their existence, the group has proved they’ve got the versatility to achieve this status. Starting with the jazzy alt-rap that defined their breakout mixtape Live From The Dentist Office (2015), to  aggressive and defiant cuts like Oh Shit!!! and Girl With the Gold Wrist off Floss (2016) and finally to the emotionally charged Drive It Like It’s Stolen (2017) that features the heartbreaking North Pole, Injury Reserve have covered most bases in their pursuit of rap notoriety. The question is however, what does the album Injury Reserve do for both progressing the groups sound simultaneously into the experimental and pop fields?

Koruna & Lime opens the album with its infectious yet unpredictable beat that entices the listener to instantly broaden their expectations for the rest of the album. There are some heavy features on the album, with some placed right at the beginning. Rico Nasty absolutely cuts through the twinkling beat of Jawbreaker, whilst JPEGMAFIA’s dominating hook on GTFU makes the song as aggressive as the title suggests. Sadly these features appear to have been detrimental to Ritchie and Stepa’s status in the tracks as they are overshadowed by their contributing peers. It’s not just the JPEG and Rico features this applies to, with the two Injury Reserve boys struggling to compare to Aminé and Freddie Gibbs who appear later on the album.

However, it’s impossible to totally discredit Ritchie and Stepa as they really appear to come out of their shell and shine on some tracks. On What a Year It’s Been, Stepa offers an introspective and unique take on his own battle with depression and self-doubt. Then Ritchie brings one of the most moving verses on the album on Best Spot in the House, lamenting about the death of a friend and his own selfishness for rapping about the tragedy when he didn’t even attend the funeral: “How was I too cowardly to go to your f**king funeral? Yet somehow think rapping about your death was f**king suitable.”

Lyrical content aside, Parker’s production carries the conversation of progression within this album. Hailing from white suburbia, the first Hip-Hop album Parker listened through in full was Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. But Parker’s ingenuity and imagination shines through on this record. Obscure sampling, such as the beautiful Silver Mt. Zion sample on What a Year It’s Been and even tweaking Teriyaki Boyz’ infamous Tokyo Drift for Jailbreak the Tesla. This, merged with innovative drum beats and synths, creates a feeling of progression and something completely new to Hip-Hop. Parker even experiments with song structure in an unseen way, creating a step by step guide in Rap Song Tutorial that is actually surprisingly satisfying when watching the song build itself up from individual drum beats step by step. Nevertheless, the aforementioned feeling of progression carries the album in the absence of more traditional hooks and melodies.

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Beast Coast – Escape From New York

Escape From New York Album Cover.

RATING: 8.5/10

Must Listens:

  • Coast/Clear
  • Far Away
  • Last Choir

New York’s arsenal of its finest superstars have come together as Beast Coast, to release their highly anticipated Escape From New York. The impressive collective is comprised of Pro Era, Flatbush Zombies and The Underachievers. Though Escape From New York marks their first official release, the Beast Coast movement and collaborations have been around for years.

Each member of Beast Coast are spread across 13-tracks, starting with It Ain’t Easy, It Ain’t Easy. Immediately from the first track, my initial concern that Joey Bada$$ would outshine some of the other members was proved wrong. In fact, Joey doesn’t even feature on the first song and really takes a back seat for this album, something I really enjoyed. It proves that Beast Coast does not have a leader and they each are capable of holding their own. Nevertheless, his familiar voice was pleasing to hear throughout and served as a teaser to his return with a new album set to release this year. It Ain’t Easy, It Ain’t Easy was a strong start with notably incredible verses from Kirk Knight and AKTHESAVIOR. Next up on the track list was the collectives first single, Left Hand. I originally gave it a score of 7/10 when it was first released however the song has since grown on me, particularly after their performance of it on Jimmy Fallon.

The album continues strongly with Problemz and Far Away, that both feature impressive melodies. I feel as though collaborative works can be too verse driven and focus heavily on individual talent but Beast Coast’s clear chemistry prevents this, working in their favour to create some great hooks and complete songs. Beast Coast explore their boundaries, taking influence of R&B in Far Away and Reggae in Snow In The Stadium. Reminiscent of Distant Relatives from New York legend Nas, Snow In The Stadium features a range of themes from humble origins to their current wealth and the journey of everything in between. Kirk took to Instagram before the song’s release, claiming his part to be his “most emotional verse ever recorded.”

The middle of the album lacks in ambition though we still see some stellar verses such as Meechy Darko on Rubberband and Erick The Architect and AKTHESAVIOR on Puke. However, the album ends even stronger than it starts with One More Round, an honest track about alcoholism with everyone’s verse capable of being the songs hook. Erick The Architect is definitely in contention (with Kirk Knight) for the MVP of this project. A super underrated artist and I was satisfied to hear him playing a large role in a lot of these cuts.

That being said I think most of Beast Coast are criminally underrated for their talents. Coast/Clear is a huge example of this and is my pick for track of the year thus far featuring my favourite verse of the whole project from Meechy Darko. Coast/Clear is a perfect showcase of Beast Coast’s chemistry and that despite their unique individual voices, they’re all able to create cohesive tracks where no member flies under the radar. The albums last cut Last Choir, ends a powerful line from Meechy Darko: “Grateful to this day, blessed to be in this game.” This album is more than a collaboration of artists. It’s a collaboration of friends and family who have taken their talents from boroughs of Brooklyn to international stages.

Though I would’ve liked to have heard more from the Underachievers and Nyck Caution, their moments are still fantastic highlights of the overall project. Despite the disappointment from tracks 6-9, the production work of Powers Pleasant and individual ability of each artist make Escape From New York an enjoyable and essential listen for 2019, setting the bar higher for collaborative projects.

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Algorithmic Control II: Open & Closed Source

Open source allows modification from its original design free of charge while the source code of a closed source is not shared with the public. For most of us, this doesn’t overly impact however it is another example of Apple controlling its users. With its closed source and lack of compatibility with non-Apple devices, it begs the question:

Personally, almost every technology product I own are apple related and I love them all. Apple have such a strong eco-system across devices and I’ve become so accustom to their user friendly products, but at what price?

I think it’s becoming increasingly rare for Apple users to own only one of the developers device. So while an iPhone may be over $1,500, that’s not the price you’re paying. You’re paying for a lack of freedom and an ongoing battle of compatibility. Whether you’re someone who would take advantage of an open source or not, it’s important to be aware of the differences and know why Apple choose to be closed source.

Frank Tremain.

Fake News: An Ethical Explainer

WHAT IS FAKE NEWS?

The term fake news originated in mid-west America throughout the 1890s but has recently received an infamous revival during the 2016 US Presidential Election. The contemporary use of fake news can be defined as a range of “disinformation and misinformation circulating online and in the media.” Prior to the internet, the distribution of information was expensive and building a platform of trust took years, but social media has removed these boundaries, allowing anyone to be able to create and disseminate fake news.

Fake news can be grouped into four broad categories including:

1. Clickbait.

2. Parody/Satire.

3. Bias News.

4. Propaganda.

WHAT INFLUENCE DOES FAKE NEWS HAVE?

While confirmation bias could explain the public belief of fake news, this fails to explore how this deception and fakery influences nonpartisan issues. A better explanation could be the relative inattention to a sources credibility and the manipulation of facts for fake news stories. Its recent influence is undeniable, with Oxford and Macquarie Dictionary naming fake news the term of 2016, followed by Collins Dictionary in 2017, who stated that the usage of the term in one year had increased by 365%.

The 2016 US Presidential Election is one of the most notorious examples of contemporary fake news. President Donald Trump discredited numerous media outlets, such as CNN and The New York Times, by labelling them as fake news. Additionally, it is argued that fake news played a large role in the election, with the most popular Facebook fake news stories recorded to have been more than widely shared than the most popular mainstream news stories. The Buzzfeed News database shares that 115 pro-Trump fake stories were shared on Facebook over 30 million times, compared to the 41 pro-Clinton fake stories that were shared 7.6 million times. This suggests Trump was heavily favoured and indicates the contribution that fake news made to the election.

Communications lecturer James Meese, from the University of Technology Sydney, believed that on a geopolitical standpoint, the risk of influence is arguably lower in Australia. Compulsory voting may factor into this, as it provides less motivation to distribute fake news in influencing public opinion on politics. However, Australian politics have recently been impacted by fake news ahead of the 2019 Federal Election. A media release from impersonators of the left-aligned research firm Essential Media claimed that the Labor Party would introduce a 40% death tax. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten denied this, referring to these claims as “low-rent, American-style fake news which is actually a lie.” Despite this, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson made a video to further spread this fakery.

https://www.facebook.com/PaulineHansonAu/videos/352580012043571/

WHAT DO PROFESSIONAL CODES SAY ABOUT FAKE NEWS?

Code of ethics refers to a set of principles designed to ensure professionals conduct their work with honestly and integrity. Breaking code of ethics can result in termination from the organisation however it is up to them to enforce this. While the US Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) codes differ slightly to the Australian Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) Journalist Code of Ethics, they both disapprove of fake news.

Their first code of ethics details to “take responsibility for the accuracy of their work” and “report and interpret honestly”. The use of fake news in modern media opposes this and inherently infringes upon other code of ethics. In the SPJ Code of Ethics, fake news can violate codes such as “take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify a story” and “never deliberately distort facts.”

The MEAA Code of Ethics better highlights the importance of honest journalism, with codes such as “do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy”, and “do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors.”

While code of ethics have provided guidelines that journalists are expected to follow, governments have now started to enforce laws to prevent the spread of fake news. Singapore, like Russia and Vietnam, have passed the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill that seeks to eliminate the online spread of fake news. However, this has been criticised to be reminiscent of Orwellian governmental features such as the ‘ministry of truth’. The legality of fake news is an evolving international issue that highlights the ethical importance of the role of journalists and news consumers.

HOW CAN NEWS CONSUMERS SPOT FAKE NEWS?

In 2017, Channel 4 News conducted their own survey that revealed only 4% of participants could identify all the true and fake stories that were shown to them. Out of all participants, 49% said they were worried about fake news with 57% of these answers coming from people under the age of 25. However, a Generation X participant answered no, stating “people have a duty to research their own information.”

While this is true, it does not mean that people will research their own information. In the digital age, media consumption is quicker and easier than ever before and consumers have become less likely to sift through information to accurately determine what is fact, and what is fake. Everybody is prone to fake news and even though certain types can target generational cohorts, anyone can be influenced by it. A 2018 Stanford study supports this, as it discovered that students struggled to distinguish what types of online material were paid, fake or legitimate.

It is important for news consumers to be aware of how to spot fake news. Facebook, who have been criticised to be a platform for spreading such content, have released Tips to Spot False News. To summarise, Facebook suggests that readers should pay close attention to news stories and be able to differentiate what is satire, what is true and what is intentionally false. It is our ethical responsibility to actively consume news from a range of sources to make our own educated conclusion.

WHAT CAN JOURNALISTS DO TO PREVENT FAKE NEWS?

Fake news has eroded journalism’s credibility and integrity. In a recent Twitter poll, 67% of participants responded that fake news has negatively influenced their perception of journalism and contributed to the distrust between media and the public. In a 2006 study, it highlighted that local journalists are often the only journalists that most people will meet and therefore play a significant role in how the wider profession is perceived.

Digital age journalism is often light on context and heavy on speculation which starkly contrasts the traditional values of measured, verifiable and objective reporting. In the context of today’s media, it is a journalists ethical duty to pay closer attention to the news they gather and disseminate, and to report in the public interest instead of information which may interest some of public.

Frank Tremain.

Tyler, The Creator – IGOR

IGOR Album Cover.

RATING: 7/10

Must Listens:

  • WHAT’S GOOD
  • GONE, GONE / THANK YOU
  • EARFQUAKE

From being banned of entering the UK and Australia to writing the soundtrack for The Grinch, Tyler, The Creator has come a long way since founding Odd Future in 2007.

Returning after his traditional 2-year absence, Tyler continues to experiment his sound across 12 tracks on his sixth album, IGOR. The Californian includes features like Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Solange – just to name a few.

The album starts with the distorted and heavy vinyl crackling of IGOR’S THEME. The ominous opener features vocal support from Lil Uzi Vert and Solange and I could definitely see it being used for some sort of horror film. From the start, Tyler blends the sounds of Cherry Bomb and themes of Flower Boy; and continues to do so throughout the project. The album follows Tyler falling in love, starting and ending a relationship and attempting to remain friends.

EARFQUAKE is a clear example of Tyler falling in love, featuring backup vocals from Charlie Wilson and a short but sweet verse from Playboi Carti. The song encapsulates the exciting and anxious feelings of gaining emotions for someone however already hints to relationship problems. I THINK builds upon this feeling and hints to the effect his significant other has on his mental health. The track gives off a strong Kanye West vibe by interpolating Stronger. Like West, Tyler’s production is always something to be commended, matching the incredible work of Flower Boy while reintroducing sounds reminiscent of Cherry Bomb. However, each song as I went through it got more and more boring, becoming repetitive and not offering the excitement I hoped for.

The short spoken word EXACTLY WHAT YOU RUN FROM YOU END UP CHASING foreshadows the later emotions of the album and the toxicity that love can bring to you. RUNNING OUT OF TIME continues to play into the topic of running and alludes to the often inevitable and ominous ending of a relationship. Tyler’s use of back up vocals and amazing production work really gave me a sense of falling, whether into love or into peril. The project starts to become more clearly Tyler’s with songs like NEW MAGIC WAND, A BOY IS A GUN and PUPPET. This leads to a large issue throughout the album, that it doesn’t feel like his own. He doesn’t allow himself to shine as bright as I think he could but perhaps that could be the creative direction the artist is heading, focusing more of curating and production.

WHAT’S GOOD is one of the more aggressive cuts on the album and personally I really liked it. Split into two parts, with the later featuring UK’s slowthai, Tyler gives one of my favourite verses on the album with lines like “I ain’t have nobody to cheat on, I cheat death. New album, no repeat, I reset.” He then lightens it up with GONE, GONE / THANK YOU, following the multi-part structure that all of his tenth tracks have followed since Bastard. Coming to terms with falling out of love, the song features King Krule and Mild High Club. This is my favourite feature on the album, and one of my favourite cuts on the whole project. He ends the album with the anti-climatic ARE WE STILL FRIENDS? featuring Pharrell Williams that leaves us with the unanswered question “Are we still friends?”. Ending the same way it started, with us on the edge of our seats excited to hear more.

Tyler’s voice struggles to shine through past his production until the back half of the album, but even when it does, the themes explored seem repeated from Flower Boy. Nevertheless, Tyler has added another beautiful album to his discography that fits its narrative. I think people are harsh to quickly criticise IGOR in fear that it won’t live up to his previous work. While I do agree this isn’t his best, its an album with amazing curation and production work that hints to the continual growth of Tyler as an artist.

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Algorithmic Control I: Intellectual Property

Sampling in Hip-Hop is an integral part of the sound of Hip-Hop. Artists like Kanye West have built their career off of samples and their creative manipulation of them. However, this can be a dangerous game and raises the question, at what point does a sample become its own sound?

Some samples can be distorted to such an extent that it’s almost unrecognisable, such as J. Cole’s Neighbours, where he reverses an older song of his called Forbidden Fruit. The original sampled used is by Ronnie Foster in his 1972 song Mystic Brew, but Cole reversed, slowed and pitched down the sample, creating something that sounds far different.

Producers and artists manipulation of samples questions the ‘rules’ of intellectual property entirely. For more examples, take a look at a series by YouTuber nosbo 2007 who collates Hip-Hop songs and their original samples.

In an original piece of my own, I sample Blink 182’s What’s My Age Again? in the intro and bridge. The original sample is slightly sped and pitched up so I would be interested to hear if you would have recognised this sample without me telling you. Let me know in the comments below some of the craziest and most unrecognisable samples you’ve heard!

Frank Tremain.

Kota the Friend – FOTO

FOTO Album Cover.

RATING: 7.5/10

Must Listens:

  • Hollywood
  • Solar Return (feat. Saba)
  • Chicago Diner

After multiple singles and months of waiting, Brooklyn MC Kota the Friend has released his debut album, FOTO. The album is 19 tracks long with features from Saba, Lizzy Ashliegh, Hello Oshay, Isa Reyes and Richard Parker.

Kota’s music has always showcased a nostalgic blend of New York boom bap and Chicago styled type beats (the production work of Youtuber/Producer Origami no doubt contributed to this). FOTO is no different and is a smooth project with plenty of wordplay and an overarching message of conquering adversities to reach mental clarity.

Right away Kota sets up this journey with Richard Parker’s intro, hinting to the albums title saying “Make sure you taking some photos, man.” In his verse, he nicely introduces himself and sets up the neighbourhood that raised him and played an important role helping his garden reach Full Bloom. Church explores one of the key lyrical themes of Kota with many biblical references over a bass and hi-hat heavy track. One of the more energetic songs, it fits well overall but I wonder if it could’ve been more exciting with a bigger build up and better execution of the chorus.

Birdie is the first single we are reintroduced to but Kota added an extra layer of saxophone that definitely gives it a grander feel to this lazy love song perfect for a Sunday. Hollywood is another great song, probably my favourite on the album based on the beat alone. Not sure if its the same sample from the song Tribe by Bas featuring J. Cole, but either way I enjoy Hollywood in the same I loved Tribe. Then follows Alkaline, another highlight of the album, however its one of the first that reuses a lot of other song elements, and was the first hint of the albums repetition.

Sedona hints to this also, and presents one of my biggest fears going into the album. Kota has near mastered his style – the laid back sunny vibe is something he owns – but eventually it starts to seem recycled. Though its not necessarily anything bad, I still loved Sedona and Chicago Diner but for an album experience it personally hindered the journey. Same can be said about the four interludes that while they added to the storytelling aspect, I’m personally not a huge fan of skits in albums. However, in between an interlude sandwich, Kota welcomes one of Chicago’s best up and comers, Saba, to join him on Solar Return. Keeping Kota’s ability for catchy hooks, Saba’s feature maintains the albums themes but brings a much-needed refreshing voice.

KOALA has a harder hitting beat and a more Trap styled flow and reminds me that Kota is capable of versatility, something he should explore more to ensure his brand does not become stagnant. The album ends on a high note with For Coloured Boys, Good To Be Home and FOTO (feat. Hello Oshay), and really hones in on Kota’s journey to clarity. It’s on FOTO’s upbeat call and response chorus, that we realise how Kota’s music has helped us on our own journey. His music is warm, optimistic and essential for relaxing and taking time for yourself.

Kota The Friend hinted to my worries of repetition with the long track list and interludes, but in the end FOTO proves to be a fantastically smooth album for easy listening, showing us how Kota The Friend has overcome his adversity and inherently helped us do the same.

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