The south is strange and everyone’s always known it. Maybe that’s why some of the best music has always bubbled up from it. People have their own ways of dealing with things, which isn’t exclusive to the south of course, but southern people don’t like change, as the cliché goes. As music generally does, southern music takes on a lot of the characteristics of the environment it’s created in. Think of the twang of old country, the sparse emptiness that can stand in for anything from countryside desolation to sheer heartbreak. Screwed and chopped rap, pitched to the point where every lazy bass rattle thumps with its own measured certainty. The unabashed euphoria of D4L, of New Orleans bounce music, of Soulja Boy and the great tradition of the barbecue. There’s a reason NYC rappers shunned melody in rap for so long while Future and Young Thug practically warbled their way into other dimensions. The south is aware of its strangeness, and it doesn’t make amends of concessions for it.
Every semester on the WRVU DJ application we are asked, “What’s your favorite album that no one knows about?” For the last four semesters I have declared that The Samuel Jackson Five’s Easily Misunderstood is, in fact, that album. I realize that there are probably some of you who have heard it, but I hope after reading this that some of you will scroll down to the embedded Spotify link and experience the post-rock mastery.
If you haven’t heard of Grace Potter, you must be living under a rock. This Vermont native has been the frontwoman of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals since 2002. Together they’ve released four successful studio albums, most recently The Lion The Beast The Beat (2012). Potter is particularly praised for her powerhouse vocals and high-energy performances (which I experienced myself two summers ago – it was a blast).
Grace Potter is also recognized for her diverse solo projects. Disney fans may know her from “Something That I Want”, the song from the closing credits of Tangled. She has collaborated with big name country singers such as Kenny Chesney, rock legends like The Rolling Stones and Grammy award-winning producer T Bone Burnett. In addition to singing, Potter plays guitar, piano, keyboards, organ and the tambourine. Thirteen years in the music business and this multi-instrumentalist shows no signs of slowing down.
*Check out this video of “Empty Heart” (posted just last August)
In a twitter blur, the world became aware of an approaching collaborative album between Future and Drake, two rappers who have been collectively running this year. Now, it’s important to note the considerable difference in each rapper’s dominance this year. Future has put in a decidedly inhuman season of being literally the best rapper today whose not named Jeffrey Williams. Seriously if you don’t know by now, you need to listen to the canon (56 Nights, DS2, Beast Mode, Monster). Drake has also been doing well in his own lane, releasing an album (IYRTITL), questionably silencing ghostwriter allegations, and a few songs and remixes here and there. I’m going to come clean though, I haven’t paid much attention to Drake of late, simply because Future and Young Thug exist. But, regardless, Drake, well he’s out here.