Winter Music Conference: A Mecca for New EDM Sounds

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Words by Chelsea Whitaker

Winter Music Conference (WMC) has become the official Spring Break of the EDM community, bringing together DJ’s, artists, and music industry professionals together in sunny South Beach, Florida. Workshops, album premieres, and of course parties, were all on the agenda. There was not a quiet spot in Miami all week, and various EDM beats constantly filled the air along Ocean Drive.

One of the highlights was an exclusive listening party for Afrojack‘s anticipated new album, “Forget the World”. This will be the first full length studio album for the Dutch DJ, who has made his mark by remixing the likes of Madonna and Beyonce while also co-producing and writing hits such as “Titanium”. The album is a musical journey across genres, touching on deep house and even trap with a song featuring Snoop Dogg. The album will no doubt connect to core EDM fans, as well as gain radio traction across the country.

Along with listening events, club takeovers acted as live showcases for top label talent. The Brooklyn based Fool’s Gold – headed by DJ A-Trak, threw some of the wildest and most talent-packed events. Top DJs including Loudpvck, Gladiator, High Klassified and Nick Catchdubs, hit various stages over 2 nights of parties, all hosted by A-Trak. The label set itself a part from the EDM madness with a Rap Party featuring Just Blaze. The packed event mixed songs by A$AP Ferg with classic Duck Sauce tracks, blending two worlds which are destined to collide in a big way this year.

Smaller parties acted as showcases for upcoming talent. Fresh from his Ultra set, DJ Max Gold, set himself apart from the mix by not only being the youngest guy at the Shore Club Red Room (he’s 16), but by bringing a unique sound of tribal-meets-trap to the turntables.

Overall, WMC is a talent showcase and a networking party, rolled into one. Every mic, and every party was a chance to become the next club star. A random rapper hopped on the mic, spitting over EDM beats on the top of the Cleavelander at 2am while the ocean wind blew the entire crowd into frenzy. This epitomized WMC 2014 in one moment – genres mixing, random talent and, of course, Miami.

Giant Step Logo Named Amongst ’22 Most Iconic’ by RBMA

 

Having just wrapped last week, the Red Bull Music Academy has amassed tons of interesting memories and content to dig into.

Earlier in May, we shared the story on Giant Step’s logo in the RBMA Daily Note; Today, the Daily Note has compiled 22 different stories on iconic logos and Giant Step’s logo is once again featured on the site.

Also featured are logos from Public Enemy, Fool’s Gold, Fania, Studio54, Def Jam, Wu Tang, and Run DMC, amongst others. Check out the stories on the RBMA website.

Giant Step’s Resident 24: Rich Medina, Q-Tip, The Martinez Brothers, Santogold, Diplo and More

Photo of The Martinez Brothers © Phillip Angert
View photos here. Archive link here.

By Mawuse Ziegbe

Bless Rich Medina and Q-Tip for giving this city something reliable to do on Friday nights with their body-rockin’ weekly at Santos’ Party House. It’s still in its infancy (only a few weeks old) so it’s still all innocent and chill (although Solange, the underrated Knowles, and actress Jurnee Smollett did sprinkle a little stardust on the joint last week). It’s exactly how you expect it to sound if you kidnapped ‘Tip and Medina and forced them to play your favorite disco, hip hop, house and soul records – and they were into it. With tracks like MSFB’s “Love Is The Message,” Tribe’s “Find A Way,” and Shaun Escoffery “Days Like This” It was one of those, “I gotta leave but this is my JAM” type of nights. Come 4 AM and I was stumbling around Chinatown with soulful disco house still buzzing my ears. Word of advice: things don’t get jumpin’ till after 1 AM.

Speaking of Rich, The Studio Museum of Harlem nearly crumbled under the chunky Afrobeat and soul rhythms at the Kehinde Wiley opening. I was batty about his portraits of African youth but it was the subtle three-dimensionality of the backdrop that put a crease my pants. Very impressive.

And no groove was safe from my friend-in-my-head James Pants’ heady set at Studio B with Peanut Butter Wolf. It was the age of buggin’ out as Pants put the needle to everything from Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” to Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to Smokey Robinson and The Miracles‘ “Tears Of A Clown.” The place wasn’t packed but we were shearing some rugs, honey. Then Pants jumped off the turntables and ended his set with a dance that looked like Napoleon Dynamite got the holy ghost. Lordy.

Shaking things up at Giant Step’s Hudson Hotel jump-off were the LP-loving zygotes The Martinez Brothers. At 16 and 19 years of age, they must have picked up taste for spinning in utero and favor the chunky thump of house gems older than themselves. They volleyed DJ responsibilities throughout the night and were as wiry as the classic house selections pumping through the systems speakers. And that kept a steady stream of taut bouncy beats they kept the feets moving like DJs old enough to vote and buy porn. I wasn’t mad at them at all.

I was, however, hopping mad at the Mad Fools Summerstage show featuring Santogold, Kid Cudi, Diplo and A-Trak aka The Seventh Circle of Hell. Too much of New York was there in the acute heat and the endless wait for Santogold. I guess the first two hours were supposed to be a big outdoor shindig with Mad Decent and Fools Gold DJs taking turns as lives of the party. But watching people do the Electric Slide on stage when you have no room to snap in a circle three times is infuriating. And watching it for two hours is Chinese water torture. By the time Santogold came I was fresh out shits to give. But here’s why she deserves the hype. She came out with her militant booty-poppin’ back-up singers to “Find A Way” all smiley, extra sweet and dropping a corny joke or two. Then launched into “L.E.S. Artistes” and “Shuv It.” She has weaknesses but knows how to patch them up (hence the fly-ass back-up dancers) and she’s just cool enough, breezy, but definitely in control. The suffering of the previous two hours melted away and I managed a sincere booty wiggle or two. She ended the show with the electric buzz of “Creator” and in her sweet-as-pie way told us she wasn’t doing an encore so please don’t ask. All praise be to Santogold who understands when the party is over.

Giant Step’s Resident: The City, The Sounds, The Soul Part 2

Photo of Kid Sister © NickyDigital.com

By Mawuse Ziegbe

Last month, The Natural History Museum hosted a gang of Chicago-bred, genre-blending upstarts from the Fools Gold label. It was a Flavorpill production that turned the site of numerous ennui-inducing school field trips, into an electro-hop playground. Hip hop tag team The Cool Kids, known for their musical-head-nod-to-the-old-school single, “Gold And A Pager,” busted on stage with their reliable bag of rowdy tricks. Then Kid Sister, in a shimmery disco-flapper ensemble, doused the crowd with super sass, performing body-rockin’ numbers like “Let Me Bang.” But the skinny jeans really hit the fan when Kanye West hit the stage with a surprise performance and dropped his verse from Kid Sister’s single, “Pro Nails.” Mr. West then put on a mini-concert with tracks from his latest album including “Good Life” and “Stronger.” The party made a few headlines which mostly gushed about Kanye’s impromptu performance. But the real story is the hip, young artists who made the party possible. Kid Sister and The Cool Kids have the swagger to pack hundreds into a sprawling planetarium on the upper west side and are tossing out online releases met with bubbling critical buzz. Even with delighted critics and rapturous fans, including Grammy-winning rappers, some kids, through no fault of their own aren’t going to hit big. So, instead of list of artists who will hit big in the ’08, I’ve compiled a list of kids who should get gobbled up by the masses but are simply too cool for mainstream consumption (Also, while reading these predictions, please take note of the tongue in my cheek).


Photo of Santogold © Mel D. Cole.

Santogold
Santogold, the dub/rock/electro project fronted by A&R turned rock-star Santi White, has been popping up on “Next Big Thing” lists from the BBC to Rolling Stone to The Fader. She’s showstoppingly adorable. She sits comfortably at the popular kids table, collaborating with artists like M.I.A., Mark Ronson and Spank Rock. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s wicked talented. She had a hand in the production of singer Res‘ debut album 2001 How I Do. Her latest music is laced with the same dubby, wafty tones and rockin’ urgency as the Res’ project. Producer Switch is helming her full-length.
Why She Might Go Bust:
Her esoteric lyrics and genre-averse sound might make it hard to brand her for the Wal-Mart crowd.
Why She Might Go Big:
Homegirl’s music is downright loveable! Angsty but with the most feathery vocals. Refreshing combo and with the proper co-signs by her friends in fly places (M.I.A. Mark, et al), she could be a contender.

Kid Sister
The aforementioned Kid Sister is bringing back sass in a big way. Her style is reminiscent of legendary b-girls Salt-N-Pepa and she counts ‘90s girl groups like Xscape and Total amongst her influences. On wax, her delivery is punchy and her rhymes are real – she goes off on everything from horny guys (“Telephone”) to hooked-up nails (“Pro-Nails”). While she definitely bring the girl powah, what really sets her apart is her refreshing humility. In her live performances she genuinely seems happy to be there. There’s a lot of, “thank you guuuuys!!” and kissy-faces to her boyfriend/DJ A-Trak (bless them for taking the Ashford & Simpson approach to hitmaking).
Why She Might Go Bust:
Her sound is fun and “serious” and “significant” stars aren’t supposed to be fun. She’s gotta pick up some pesky drug addiction or make electro-driven funereal music to turn the tide.
Why She Might Go Big:
She’s got swagger like Kanye, off and on the mic, but her ego is considerably more manageable. In a sense, the anti-Kanye.

Wale
DC has a soul history but not many hip hop stars boast a Chocolate City pedigree. Wale could potentially make his city pop his nimble lyrical action. I guess you could peg him as an East coast Lupe Fiasco in terms of skill level but he takes himself a lot less seriously. And thankfully too because that means droppin’ rhymes over anything that’s kicky from J.U.S.T.I.C.E.’s tinkling disco gem “D.A.N.C.E.” to Mark Ronson’s velvety instrumentals (he’s signed to the producer’s Allido label). He brandishes his envy-inducing rhymes skills with a swaggerlicious ease that pop music could use right now.
Why He Might Go Bust:
There are only so many songs you can make about your footwear (Meh, at least the kid has a hobby).
Why He Might Go Big:
He’s intellectual without being depressing. And he’s got that innate hipness that the masses flock to Pharrell for. More a tastemaker than a taste-chaser.
Whether or not these artists and many more like them lock down endorsement deals and receive gilded mini phonographs this year is fairly irrelevant. Pop success isn’t even all that appealing anymore since scandals and psych wards are what seems to keep people in the news these days. In a perfect world, we’d be making it rain on stars like the aforementioned up-and-comers. But since we live in the real world, perhaps the least we can do is give these artists little green pieces of paper in exchange for a few minutes of fun.