Astronaut Troy is an 18-year-old artist from Tallahassee, Florida. His track “Ghost” was featured on our mix A Long Strange Trip in February, but his work warrants its own write-up. Troy reminds me of an MTV1987-era Kevin Abstract with his fearless execution of high-concept art, driven by a DIY mindset and an abundance of emotions. While so many internet artists seek a comfortable numb behind barred out raps and heavy use of autotune, artists like Troy and Kevin (and ‘Ye and Cudi, for that matter) set themselves apart with their embrace of raw, unfiltered emotions and their acceptance of the imperfections that come with being human. Astronaut Troy is out here teaching himself how to play guitar and piano, producing emo ballads, and challenging the idea of the modern rockstar. These moves can only be lauded, and the work he is doing now will undoubtedly help him achieve his dreams in the long run.
Kevin Abstract makes it well known that he has a lot of heroes. In attempt to emulate his heroes while also discovering his own sound, his producer Romil and he turned in the 12-track MTV1987 LP that I consider the year’s best album. So during this live interview (that you may be viewing after the fact when it’s not live), I will be talking to Kevin about his heroes, his album, and his quest of becoming the most popular artist alive, and I will be discussing in depth the making of MTV1987 with the suddenly iconic duo.
EDIT (6/2/15): Kevin Abstract’s MGMT asked for the interview to be taken down. Sorry for any inconvenience.
This is the last Tape Tuesday before school starts back up again for me. Every summer I try to make that one mix that the few of you who religiously follow my mixes will look back and say, “That music defined my summer.” I think Rare Occasions is that mix. Looking at it from a strictly musical point-of-view, you can clearly see that R&B ruled summer 2014. It’s not even a question. From my personal point-of-view, I am hoping this mix will remind me of the rowdy nights in my new apartment that I only partially remember now. I hope it will remind me of the moments I shared with the people in my life. I hope in the future I will know which moments were significant and which were insignificant because in the moment, the view can be blurred. Maybe I will listen to this assortment of songs in ten years and regret something–or feel some type of way. That’s the beauty of songs. They are like vials for your bottled up emotions that can spill over at any given time. For example, when you are at the perfect level of drunkenness and “0 to 100” comes on at your own party or when you are driving in the rain and a song comes on and you suddenly feel like you are the main character in a TV drama. In the moments when the rhythm of the music syncs up perfectly with the pace of your life, you get flooded with lost emotion and develop a true connection with a song. Those are the moments that will stay with you forever and give you perspective on the rest of stuff going on in your life. Those are the rare occasions.
For realla, baby
*Missing track 1 (“Her” by Majid Jordan) and track 3 (“On The Way” by Kilo Kish), not available on SoundCloud.
Allan Kingdom and Kevin Abstract, two Sunset Selections and leaders of the future regime of hip-hop, join forces on “Already.” The title of the song is fitting because both of these guys just dropped their own projects super recently, and they’re already in the studio making moves. The most impressive part of this collaboration is how both artists maintain their own sound, while working towards a greater, collaborative sound. The biggest challenge for young artists is finding your own sound, and these guys have done it at such a young age, which is part of the reason we are so excited to watch them flourish in their careers.
Remember that episode of The Fairly OddParents where Timmy goes inside the Internet to retrieve an embarrassing email? This album is nothing like that; although, the ingenious art direction by HK might actually mislead you a bit. Kevin Abstract‘s MTV1987 is less about technology as it is the result of technology. If you look only at the musical references on this project, you will hear the usual suspects in modern hip-hop–Outkast, Cudi, Kanye, Drake, Pharrell–but you will also hear Nirvana, Cassie, Justin Timberlake, and Michael Jackson. If you look at the words, the story is one of acute loneliness and desolation brought upon as a result of the Information Age. It’s about the millions of young people who fantasize about a different life online and struggle to maintain any semblance of a relationship IRL. And it’s not our fault; the Internet has fucked up the wiring of our brain. This album is a reflection on the youth and the struggle to feel something real in a robotic world.
It is also one of the best albums of the year. Kevin Abstract and his producer Romil beyond delivered on this project. It literally sounds like FutureSex/LoveSounds meets Man on the Moon II. Romil has to be the most improved producer in a single year since the beginning of time, and Kevin’s songwriting jumped to one of the best in all of music. Gone are the days where we are talking loosely about the “endless potential of Kevin Abstract.” He has found his sound and team of producers and engineers and can only keep improving from here. Like, I can’t stress enough: this is a real album. In the perfect world, this would win Grammys. Unfortunately, right now that world only exists online, but I have a feeling that’s going to change for Kevin very soon.
The name “Waves” came way before I found the song “Waves” by the incredible Aussie artist Japanese Wallpaper. I was reading about Jackson Sonnanfeld-Arden’s philosophy (introduced to me by Deru) about these Nine Pure Tones, or waves, that serve as the basis of all life and existence. It was a riveting read that has since been taken down from the Internet, and it was just crazy enough to sort of blow my mind and maybe influence my entire life.
You hear about how we’re the most informed generation, but how much of that information are we actually implementing in our behavior? Are we constantly having our behaviors and ideas reaffirmed by seeking comfort in niche sections of the Internet, which monitor our searches to customize the ads we see–only further reaffirming our behaviors? Or are we seeking and interpreting new ideas and incorporating them into our ever-changing social dynamics?
So these have been my thoughts and questions the past two months. You can see how “waves” could work as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of life. And the philosophy takes it like a zillion steps further by defining all science and behaviors in nine different waves. So yeah, um, that was the idea for the mixtape. Also, I just wanted to make your soundtrack for the beginning of summer.
She wears my favorite color, everyday in her eyes…
*Not including track 16 (“Berlin” by Highlands) and track 20 (“Mad at Me” by Sage The Gemini).
Who would have thought that behind the myriad of memes and twerking and Macklemore that the end of 2013 would bring actual thought-provoking, existential rap to the forefront of the Internet? Maybe projects like this one by Dom McLennon and Because the Internet by Childish Gambino are cultural responses to the movement towards a reaction-based society. Just yesterday, a false report about Miley Cyrus talking shit about Beyoncé spread like wildfire through the Internet. 80% of the people reacting did not even consider that maybe the reports weren’t true, and these people ripped the 21-year-old singer to shreds online without even stopping to think.
So, think. But don’t overthink to a point where you don’t create. That is one of the lessons behind Thesis. But even I haven’t come close to deciphering most of the project. You just need to dive into it head first, and do not look back.
I recently had a bizarre day. It was this past Saturday, and it was just bizarre from start to finish. I guess to understand the strangeness of this day you first should know that I live on a college campus and there was a football game here on Thursday night, so the weekend basically started a day early. In my eyes this Saturday was an extra day in my timeline, and I was going to use it as poorly as I possibly could. I woke up at 2 and showered and shaved. I’m not going to pretend like I shave everyday. I don’t. I should, but I don’t, so this was my weekly shave just to remove the grizzly scruff off my face so the general public would not fear me. Mid-shaving, of course, I decided that I was going to keep a mustache. It was weird, but my friends loved it. And just to make things stranger, I might have named my ‘stache “Ron” (which really just says something about my character). We went to iHop for a 3 pm lunch, which (1) we never do, and (2) is late for lunch, I think. Our waitress lured us into buying the most delicious seasonal hot chocolate, and then the next strange thing happened: we each ordered the same meal. If you have ever been to iHop, you know that it has the largest menu ever, so the chances of ordering the same thing are slim to none. As the day continued Ron, my mustache, became like a person, and my friends pretended he was part of the group (which really just says something about their personalities). At night we ended up watching The Godfather a.k.a. one of the greatest movies of all-time, which looking back makes the day seem even more bizarre as a whole.
I guess my point for telling that story is that it is okay to be weird. I mean, maybe two years ago I might have felt the urge attach how much I party to the end of the paragraph, or maybe I wouldn’t tell the story at all. This video by Kevin Abstract is weird, but he has a story to tell. And it might just be as weird as yours.
WARNING: I’m not a doctor, but I don’t think you should watch this video if you’re prone to seizures.
Sunset Selections is a curated collection of original songs written exclusively for this mixtape by our favorite breakthrough artists of 2013
A lot of people contributed to the making of Sunset Selections, so I decided to write this post as a thank you note. It feels dumb writing it, so if you feel dumb reading it, understand that that is okay. First and foremost, I would like to thank the artists who were a part of this mixtape for being so accepting of this idea and all-in with this project. You guys surpassed my expectations on that front and then met my expectations with the awesome songs you sent (my expectations were really high okay–that’s why we asked you to contribute). I would also like to thank the Sunset Fam for working their asses off for me and this idea. Without getting too sentimental, I love these people more than my own family. Just kidding. But they are cool, and it’s cool how Lydia set up a submissions page, Eric made a legendary trailer, Alicia let me use her collages, Jordan and Andy got artists on board, and they all listened to me vent about all the bullshit and awesomeness that took place while heading up this project. I really think the mixtape does its job of capturing this moment in time, but more than that, pieces of it are timeless. Oh God, that was ‘cheez‘-y. Fuck, I can’t stop. Just… let this mixtape soundtrack your 2013 and then your entire life.
Drake & “40.” Jay & Tim. Chance & Nate Fox. Kevin Abstract & Planetarian? That’s right (sorry this is cheesy); the two 17-year-olds have thrown their hats in the ring for the best rapper-producer pair of the year. On the Kevin Abstract EP Kevin waxes some deeply personal anecdotes about himself and his family, while Planetarian (under his HoraceTheGiant production moniker) provides jazzy beats featuring exotic instruments and hazy experimentation. The result is one of the best EPs of the year.
Every few months in hip-hop, there is a slight changing of the guard. Chance The Rapper is the latest artist to graduate from the blogs to mass market success. Now, there is this gap waiting to be filled and an endless army of aspiring young rappers vying for the spot. We last heard young Kevin Abstract in his feature with SITR favorite Planetarian. In celebration of his 17th birthday, the MC is releasing “As I Am,” a smooth joint featuring Chi-town rappers Alex Wiley and Wonda. Let me just tell you: with a little more work, any of these guys could take that spot.
July is a perfect month. The sun is out most of the day (clothing is basically optional), and you can spend entire evenings on the lake with freezers full of freezies and Cokes. After his dreamy, summer-doused debut album, it is no surprise that Planetarian has a track named after this auspicious month. What is a bit surprising is the seamless Kevin Abstract feature, which plays perfectly with the candid, kind of awkward nature of Planetarian tracks. Turn this one up on long drives or days out.
Hit the jump to read our exclusive interview with the young artist… Continue reading “Premiere + Interview: Planetarian – July” »