Headphones: Give The Kids The Music

Balmain Fall/Winter Ad campaign

Balmain Fall/Winter Ad campaign

Less than a month ago, we wrote about streaming services taking over the music industry.  In this week’s Headphones news, streaming giants Apple Music and Tidal seemingly go at it, atleast according to Kanye West

In the past few weeks, there’s been speculation that Tidal, the streaming service owned and operated by Jay-Z, was up for sale, and that the buyer was none other than Apple Music.  For those not familiar, there are more than just brand differences between the two.  In the last two years, when streaming services were sprouting up to grab at the money opportunity in front of them, artists’ rights were being decimated.  In the current music climate, with artists making no money with fans opting to illegally download their product, many were forced to take bad deals with streaming services in order to make back some return.  Then came Tidal

Jay-Z, both an artist and businessman, saw an opportunity.  While Apple, Spotify, and Soundcloud positioned themselves for a better economic return, Tidal sought to pander to both the artist and the fans.  With Jay-Z’s connections, he formed a group of shareholders made up of the industry’s biggest stars such as Beyonce, Kanye West, Jack White, Rihanna, etc.  They formed the guidelines for a company that would bring something new.  Briefly, Tidal’s services brings numerous advantages to both the fan and the musician, with artist exclusives, higher quality streaming, and most importantly, a better return for its artists.  Each artist is paid back significantly more than other streaming services.

When you hear the particulars of the deal, it sounds to good to not be a home run, but unfortunately it’s had its difficulties.  Services like Apple and Spotify launched much earlier than Tidal, and naturtally its had trouble keeping up.  Since it provides both higher quality streaming and higher pay for artists, it naturally has a higher monthly fee for its users.  These two facts alone have held it from being the frontrunner in the industry. 

This brings us to this past July, when the purchase rumor began to float around.  A few weeks after the initial rumors, more news leaked that negotiations were at a stalemate.  The center of it all, money.  Jay-Z/Tidal wanted more, Apple wanted to spend less.  Who better to bring better heads together than Kanye West

In the rant, West called on Apple Executives Jimmy Iovine, Larry Jackson, and Tim Cook to meet with Jay-Z, Drake and himself to cut a deal.  West’s tweets echoes the thoughts of many, in that the music industry shouldn’t be dictated by the dollar amount on a check.  Music is such a positive and enriching thing for the world and shouldn’t be held back by rich businessmen trying to get more bang for their buck.  In the words of Kanye, “give the kids the music.”

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Album of the Week: Travis Scott – Rodeo: This week’s Album of the Week is to get you ready for Travis Scott’s upcoming album, Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight, due out Friday August 5th.  Having said that, we look at his debut album Rodeo.

Few artists have amassed the hype Travis Scott has prior to releasing a full length album.  Prior to the release of Rodeo, he had garnered the attention of the Rap titans, Kanye and T.I, with both signing him to their labels GOOD Music and Grand Hustle.  By the time he released Rodeo, he was already selling out shows on his own headlining tours across the country.  With all the buildup and excitement, it wouldn’t take much for Scott’s label debut to be a letdown.  However, he delivers here, and then some with Rodeo.  Travis Scott’s sound is what wets him apart.  While he clearly uses his studio/production talent to aid to his voice, Scott brings a new twist to the Trap genre.  In today’s music world, any auto tuned vocals sound similar to Future, but Scott’s vocals seem refreshing in that sense.  He’s more pronounced, has more energy and his voice seems to vibrate in your headphones.  Take that and add a Man on the Moon-era Kid Cudi vibe and you have a 5/5 album that simply kicks ass.  The features on it don’t hurt either, with the star power of Kanye, The Weeknd and Future, among others.  Check out the song No Pray 4 Love and see what I mean. 

Music Videos

Pop: Fergie – M.I.L.F.$: The Big Girls Don't Cry crooner is back.  After spending a few years away from the music industry to spend time with her family, the Black Eyed Peas alum is back with this hot new single.  

Hip/Hop: Kanye West – Wolves: West dropped this surprise video, a standout song off of The Life of Pablo, last week.  The video serves as a showcase for Steven Klein's Balmain fashion line.  

EDM: The Chainsmokers – Closer: Hitmakers, that's what The Chainsmokers have proved themselves as after releasing hit after hit.  This time they recruit up and coming Halsey to provide their vocals. 

Rock: X Ambassadors – Collider: The X Ambassadors have been a favorite of this column for weeks.  Only helps their case when the add Tom Morello to an already solid single off their debut album, VHS.  

International: Rihanna – Needed Me: A native of Barbados, Rihanna checks out for our International category this week.  This song is the latest single off her 2016 album Anti.

Noteworthy:  Frank’s At It Again:  As of midnight July 31st, Frank Ocean fans were left with a familiar taste in their mouth: disappointment.  Since last year, fans have waited for the follow up album to Channel Orange with anticipation.  Many hoped that July 2016 would deliver it, waiting until midnight with hope and desperation.  When the clock struck midnight and no album was released, the outcry was loud.  But that was short lived, as Frank’s website immediately uploaded a live stream link.  The video was blank and white footage that initially depicted an empty storage room.  Soon after a man, who may or may not be Frank, went to work at a workbench cutting planks of wood. 

After hours at work, he left the screen, but fans on Reddit have seemed to figured out that he’s building a staircase, but that’s far from certain. In the famous words of Tom Waits, “What’s He Building In There?”