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AbJo tells PHLOTE why curating music in web 3.0 is important

Recently, Team PHLOTE welcomed producer, DJ, and Soulection member AbJo to to discuss his evolution as an artist and opinions on the future of web 3.0 and music streaming.

AbJo grew up in the city of San Diego throughout the beginning of the beat scene, which is where he first got his start in music at the early age of nine years old.

When asked about his immediate influences he opts to cite names within the classical and jazz genres such as Bach, Beethoven, Quincy Jones, and Robert Glasper. As he says,

“I don’t just make beats, I make music.”

– AbJo of Soulection

His calling card, as he says, is what he can do with sampling. AbJo grew up in the club scene at a very young age with an uncle that worked as a hip hop club promoter – he saw big names such as Busta Rhymes, The Lady of Rage, Slum Village, and Exile, in San Diego, long before they made it big.

He would run through records picking up samples and became comfortable with the artistic practice early in his career.

Before getting into web 3.0, there was a certain formula to AbJo’s music releases – produce content, put it on web 2.0 and Spotify, promote, do shows, and hope the right people would find it and want to use it. He never prioritized streams or album sales to gain revenue.

By entering the crypto world, he found a whole new dynamic to promotion that benefits everyone involved for simply being in the space. He explains,

“If somebody decides they wanna place a bid on something I put up, that could potentially end up funding my way to make them more content.”

– AbJo of Soulection

Web 3.0 gives a whole new outlet for communicating and building relationships with fans. Abjo admits, “I don’t think I’ve ever been super interested in connecting with my audience in any way other than musically.”

Now, with the web 3.0 space, he can mint his content, provide his fans with something of value and sentiment, as they both make money off of it at the same time.

On the topic of streaming, AbJo explains that he has been successfully collaborating with Audius for the past year – one of the only web 3.0 affiliated streaming services that are no longer in beta.

The streaming quality and user interface looked promising, along with the fact that he would be making dividends, and a year later he can see that they were not lying.

Many people, like AbJo, were skeptical at first about decentralization, but soon recognized the freedom it provides.

“We can literally write our own tickets, see that value and share that value with other people.”

– AbJo of Soulection

On the other hand, services such as Spotify are beginning to be seen as more of a utility – it allows people access to music, but many artists are beginning to realize that they can’t expect to make the majority of their income off of it.

AbJo’s main goal with NFTs is to give fans access to unreleased content. He plans to do a Mirror crowdfund for his next project and develop a coin that provides access to a dropbox of unreleased content and sneak previews, as well as inside information such as being the first to know about an upcoming gig.

The Soulection member summarizes this as a strategy of utilizing and incentivizing your biggest fans – a fan can obtain value in the real world and in the digital world through this coin, get their desired use out of it, and then proceed to sell it to the next fan.

Overall, this would provide a direct connection to an artist and their music for a large number of their fans.

Music and gentrification: 5 raptivists find power in their craft

The influence of a music artist can extend far beyond the reaches of art itself. Oftentimes the artists turned raptivists we look up to will make the empowered decision to utilize their platforms to advocate for change, like gentrification.

What does advocating against gentrification in the music industry look like?

Gentrification is a capitalistic phenomenon that plagues many communities today, including ones that our favorite music artists have grown up and developed their sounds in.

Nipsey Hussle, Wale, Cardi B, Jay-Z, and Noname have all been known to speak up about and fight against gentrification’s impacts in their own communities

1. Nipsey Hussle bought back the block

Before the late rapper’s untimely death, Nipsey Hussle had been proudly advocating against gentrification within his own community. The Crenshaw District in Los Angeles has seen a large increase in the median house cost, which has actively pushed out Black residents and Hussle found many ways to combat this issue.

For instance, he invested in many properties and created jobs within the community through Marathon Clothing. He also took action on a political level by planning on using a tax incentive to support his neighborhood and met with Senator Tim Scott to propose an investment fund.

2. Jay-Z flips the definition of gentrification

In April of 2019, Jay-Z performed a freestyle honoring the late Nipsey Hussle and his work against gentrification. His lyrics stated “Gentrify your own hood before these people do it. Claim eminent domain and have your people move in. That’s a small glimpse into what Nipsey was doing.

For anybody still confused as to what he was doing.” These lyrics didn’t sit well for a number of fans because of the strong negative connotation towards the word “gentrify” – many felt that Jay-Z shouldn’t have used the word “gentrify” because it is strictly defined as marketing neighborhoods to more affluent classes.

Ultimately, Jay-Z’s message was to clean up your own communities for the good of the people already living there, as opposed to the government doing so while displacing current residents. Through the music, he refers to how Hussle would combat gentrification while improving his community by creating jobs and investing in properties.

3. Wale remains the outspoken voice of the unheard

Similarly, Wale is very outspoken against gentrification, especially within his own music and DC neighborhood.

One notable incident that he has publicly spoken out against on Twitter involved a Metro PCS vendor being forced to stop playing the go-go music that he had been playing in that very spot for decades, because of a noise complaint from a luxury apartment building nearby – Wale says “This is wild to me. U knew what u signed up for.”

He emphasizes that gentrification is an issue of entitlement from the part of white Americans that target Black Americans by acting as if they don’t have as much right to ownership of land in this country.

4. Music artist Cardi B hit Twitter with the truth about gentrification

Another instance of a celebrity speaking out against gentrification through social media involves Cardi B – she says “The gentrification in Harlem and Washington Heights makes me so sad. It truly breaks my heart.”

This began an active conversation on Twitter in which many decided to give their input on the issue and what they feel celebrities like Cardi should do.

Twitter user @JHart04 says “buy property and give it back to the families. That’s the only way. Many families try to work hard but find the fine line in making too much to keep their benefits and homes. That’s what needs to be fixed.”

5. NoName reminds us of the void we need to fill

Noname touches on the topic of gentrification often in her music album Room 25. She opens Prayer Song with the lyrics “Gentrify all my people, there’s emptiness on the table,” before continuing by addressing more political issues such as police brutality.

Additionally, Noname has started a book club as well as opened Radical Hood Library within the Jefferson Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. While many question the library’s true intentions in terms of gentrification,

Noname clarifies “we don’t own the building and our landlord has been on dirt with us ever since we got there lol. it’s crazy cause we have been afraid of him kicking us out to have some white folks come in and replace us with a cafe or something.”

Honorable Mention — Ted Hearne and Saul Williams

Ted Hearne and Saul Williams dropped their project PLACE to capture the erratic changes taking place in our neighborhoods by highlighting gentrification through music and poetry.

The poet Williams writes in one selection, “A Thought,” recited in back-and-forth syncopation by him and the singer Ayanna Woods:

Gentrification is a generational conversation that has gone by many names. We should not discuss what brings you back to the city without acknowledging why you left. White flight. White flight. White flight. Now that winter is over, you’re flying back. Will you bring your old viruses with you? Will you push us away? Are you capable of playing and living with others? Or will you find reasons, very sane and honorable reasons, for pricing us out, for placing us in camps, prisons, squats…. eraaaaaaaaaasure.

Watch the whole body of work by clicking here.

Music producer Satin Sage tells PHLOTE how he defined his own journey

On Monday, September 20, our team had the pleasure of inviting self-made music producer Satin Sage to the PHLOTE stage on to discuss his journey as an artist and his contributions to the genre of Lofi Hip-Hop and Future Funk.

Stay in the loop and join PHLOTE today (click here).

He told us more about his recent projects, the journey to becoming the artist he is today, and what he has coming up.

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Creative journey as a music producer

Satin Sage began his creative journey around the age of 19, beginning with learning the basics of FL Studio – the same program that is credited for Soulja Boy’s “Crank Dat” and Kanye’s “Flashing Lights”. His time experimenting with the software involved working with a myriad of genres from dubstep to grime to pop music.

He cites producers such as Han Solo and Lido to illustrate the point that all artists take years to grow into their sound, and he himself was no exception.

Around seven years into the growth of his music career, Sage says,

“I’m just now coming into the music I wanna put out there. I desire to make funk. There’s no resistance holding me back.”

– Satin Sage

Who is Satin Sage?

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We asked the music producer to share a little more about the origin of the moniker that he feels accurately describes his artistry as a whole.

He says that he resonates with the word “sage” as the true act of being a sage is a process that involves constantly growing and learning – “all art and much of life, in general, is constantly something that you don’t know and if you’re wise you’d want to learn more about it…the cycle repeats over and over again so you constantly see what you don’t know and it keeps opening up more and more.”

The word “satin” came about as he searched for satin pillowcases for the material’s protective quality towards hair. He happened to come across some pillowcases that displayed the words “satin sage” and it clicked for him immediately, as satin has the potential to be transformed into an extravagant piece of art.

Advice for young creatives

When it comes to sharing advice, Sage has some gems for young creatives that are in the same position as he once was. Above all else, he stresses to be honest with yourself:

“A lot of times we strive for success as opposed to fulfillment and the only way to be fulfilled in the things you’re doing is if you just be honest with yourself.”

– Satin Sage

According to Sage, you should always give yourself the room to create what may deviate far from the art that inspired you in the first place. Avoid only measuring success in terms of milestones such as playing big festivals or having your music available on certain platforms – do what you love, and the fulfillment will guarantee a sense of success.

Run, Run, Run, Digital Girl, and Ain’t Stopping Me

Sage never planned on using samples in his music until he discovered that one of his biggest influences, Kaytranada, has proudly never made anything from scratch – he simply makes every project his own.

When his dad introduced him to the upbeat side of Roy Ayers’ music, he knew he had to sample and flip his album into what we now know as the track Run, Run, Run. The Lofi/Future Funk song is available for streaming on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

Some time after the music producer became comfortable with sampling and gained the confidence in his skillset, he came out with Digital Girl – a remix of the classic Jamie Foxx hit – which is his absolute favorite track he’s ever put out.

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Creating the track allowed him to be honest with himself and what he wanted to pursue – he recalls staying up until 3 am working on the track while he had to wake up for work the next day.

Ain’t Stopping Me, a project consisting of lofi beats and dance music was made by Sage in quarantine as what he says was an “exercise of being in the music industry.”

The title came from a bold lyric within the project that he believed encapsulated its spirit: “that C-O-V-I-D ain’t stopping me.” Sage’s creative process was cemented through the creation of this project: finding a sample, making the drums, the bass, the chords, and the arrangement.

Get more Satin Sage below…

What’s next for Satin Sage?

Satin Sage has much left in store for us in the near future, including a new clothing brand in the works!

One of the designs he’s most excited for features the statement “I’d rather create” – a tribute to the fact that he’d always gravitated towards the more creative path in life – along with a bible verse that represents the profound phrase “all anyone wants to do is enjoy while they toil.”

We can expect the brand to be out sometime before thanksgiving. In terms of music, Sage says “I enjoy DJing but I don’t enjoy being a DJ” – he tells us that his biggest goal is to compose a set that consists of 100% his own music.

Above all else, Satin Sage hopes to be recognized as what he truly is and has grown throughout these years to be – a creative.

Stay tuned for the next PHLOTE Stage event, join their discord, or if you’re an artist submit and get your song minted

Does DONDA still religiously slap, one month later?

With his latest project promised in late July, Kanye kept us on our toes for the entirety of August DONDA was finally released on all streaming services on August 29th, 2021.

Was DONDA worth the wait? As more visuals from the album drop today for the song ’24’

The album begins with “Donda Chant”, a haunting and wistful tribute to the artists’ late mother, that fans theorize is truly bursting with symbolism.

Some suggest the possibility that the rhythm in which “Donda” is repeated represents a heartbeat – that of Kanye’s late mother as she took her last breaths, or possibly of the artist himself as he processed his grief.

Nonetheless, Kanye chooses to begin DONDA on a nostalgic note in appreciation of his primary muse for what’s to come. As we continue to experience this new project, Kanye introduces us to powerful instrumentals and impactful lyrics that define a new era of his contribution to hip-hop music.

Kanye uses this project as a palette to arrange and combine genres upon. Most notably, he stays true to his hip-hop forte while including influences from pop, gospel, rock, and many other elements of music.

Kanye West – Come to Life (Official Video)

He utilizes these genres through a strategic combination of powerful ballads and heavy trap beats. “Jail”, which immediately follows “Donda”, adds to the intensity of the album’s beginning through its powerful guitar chords.

Immediately following this track is the bass-heavy “God Breathed”, which is then followed by “Off the Grid” which features a trap-esque beat.

Next comes “Hurricane” an instrumentally minimalistic ballad that heavily highlights the powerful vocals delivered by Kanye and his well-selected features of The Weeknd and Lil Baby. As we can clearly see through the first few minutes of the project, Kanye plans to keep us on our toes all throughout.

On a lyrical level, Kanye employs the motif of religion while touching on many other crucial themes along the way. For example, the chorus in “Jonah” features Vory touching on religion while simultaneously acknowledging his own mental health as he says “I hope you’re here when I need the demons to be gone.”

You pull up to the listening party in Chicago?

The spiritual motif continues with Vory’s verse, such as when he relates his religious beliefs to the grief of losing loved ones as he says “hope they got headphones up in heaven.”

Another track on the project, “Ok Ok”, is centered around the idea of there being acquaintances in Kanye’s life that he would describe as being fake because they “only show up when we cut the cake.”

While this song touches on the importance of having genuine people in your inner circle, Kanye concludes it with the powerful lyric “find God ‘fore it’s too late” to relate it back to the concept of religion serving as salvation.

Overall, Kanye continues to communicate these concepts and experiences through the lens of religion throughout DONDA in an insightful way that allows the lyrics to be universally impactful.

Were these 5 trending internet challenges really that important?

It seems Americans are always wrapped up in the latest trending internet challenges. But what other problems were we ignoring as we engaged in these “not really” fun vibes?

We’ve compiled a list of five trending internet challenges that have hit the web over the last two decades that have distracted us from real-world problems.

1. The infamous Crate Challenge trend

One of the most prominent viral trends of the Summer of 2021 is known as the Crate Challenge and involves forming a makeshift staircase from milk crates and attempting to climb them.

As one can imagine, this action has proven time and time again to be contributable to nothing but injuries to those who attempt it.

This challenge found itself to become viral at a time when our focus and support should primarily be directed to the civilians of Afghanistan, who are once again suffering the consequences of the Taliban’s control of power.

2. We’ll always remember the Tide pod Challenge… SMFH

The infamous Tide Pod challenge was at its peak in early 2018 as children were being dared to consume pods filled with toxic laundry detergent. This can lead to incredibly dangerous consequences, such as breathing difficulties, vomiting, loss of consciousness, seizures, or potentially even fatality.

While the younger demographic of America were pressured to gamble with their health, many others around the world were exposed against their will to life-threatening situations.

Some notable political occurrences that stood in stark contrast to the consensual nature of the Tide Pod challenge include the American immigration crisis, the ongoing conflict in Syria, and the #MeToo movement.

3. Are plumper lips really that important?

The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge was attempted in high volume around 2015 for the purpose of altering one’s lips to resemble Jenner’s by becoming plumper after sucking the air out of a shot glass.

Not only was this challenge harmful to the self-esteem of all young children who were exposed to it and subsequently attempted it, but the challenge posed many physical risks as well.

For instance, the shot glass is placed under immense pressure and may break, exposing those who are affected to broken glass. Regardless of the materials used to attempt this challenge, one would be vulnerable to bruising and swelling that could potentially lead to unwanted permanent results.

4. Why did dry heaving on cinnamon changed the world?

The Cinnamon Challenge is yet another internet trend that poses more harm than good to all those who attempt it.

The challenge has been in circulation as early as 2001 and involves swallowing an entire spoonful of cinnamon at once, which can lead to health risks such as choking or accidental inhalation.

The challenge found itself at maximum popularity around January 2012, which was around the same time as current events that should have been given more news exposure, such as intensified protests in Syria following a recent attack on the capital.

5. The Chubby Bunny Challenge, tho?

The Chubby Bunny challenge was at the height of its popularity in early 2012. The trending internet challenge involves attempting to place as many marshmallows as possible in one’s mouth.

Not only is this game dangerous as it leads to choking hazards, but it is in bad taste when one considers the amount of food that is wasted in its attempts as there are and have been many struggling to obtain food all around the globe.

This again was given much attention at a time when Syria should have been at the forefront of our media.

Meet the creatives responsible for all the DONDA hype

DONDA, the most anticipated album of the year, after all the hype, is finally accessible on all streaming services after a long ordeal of potentially leaked snippets and pushing back release dates – and it does not disappoint.

Through the months, many creatives of all mediums found inspiration within the concept of Donda and produced content that continued to build up suspense for all of us.

From photography to comedy, Kanye has and continues to set off a chain reaction of artistry at the simple mention of his then-future project. Meet the creatives that kept us on our toes as we waited for Donda!

Jeff Cole blesses the Gram with DONDA hype mock-ups

Through the medium of graphic design, Cole shows us his take on Kanye’s likelihood. He depicts Kanye in his monochromatic fits consisting of spikes and leather, notably from an upwards angle, translating his influence in the music industry into his powerful stance.

Cole is a co-founder of Ikonick, a digital art company that translates his artwork among others into large interior pieces. You can find many music industry-inspired projects in the collection, such as portraits of other well-known artists.

Some of his best-sellers include nostalgic cassette tapes that display profound advice as it relates to both music and life: “Pause if you must, but don’t stop,” as well as “Life has no rewind. Enjoy every moment.”

Gunner Stahl gives us an inside look

Gunner Stahl is a young film photographer from Atlanta, Georgia that captures well-known musical artists, and Kanye is no exception.

Stahl attended the Donda listening party and left with flicks that reflect just how spiritual of an event it proved to be. The photoset he shared on Instagram included six-film shots, each with their own appreciation of Kanye’s presence at different notable moments.

The first picture is a portrait that communicates West’s philosophy as a musical artist: as we see him in a full face mask as he encourages us to remove his own persona from the artwork he creates.

The pictures further explore this concept as we see a humanizing flick of Kanye simply speaking into his phone while donning extravagant clothing, as well as him hanging from a wire as if he’s being lifted to the heavens before the audience as they can all witness and revel in his humanity.

Nevertheless, there is no shortage of shots that reflect Kanye’s major influence within the music industry as we can see him from behind while he majestically stands before a packed venue.

Druski reminds to laugh at Kanye, again

Druski, known by his social media handle Druski2Funny, is an internet comedian that often finds himself collaborating within the music industry.

Druski attended the Donda listening party and through his Instagram posts and stories, brought a lighthearted and enjoyable perspective to the event. On his Instagram, he posts a set of media that includes a picture of him at the event as well as a short humorous video in which he wonders out loud if Kanye is looking at him specifically.

He is active on all social media and has produced content with other well-known figures such as Jack Harlow and Drake.

Team Kanye kept us hype as we waited for DONDA, as always

The hype around Donda has further reminded us that creativity comes available at our fingertips in this day and age – people all over the world have been utilizing social media to build their own platform in which they share their artwork.

Kanye’s album drop has inspired a large wave of such art – check out some beautiful examples below!