🐶🐶🐶 (at 🎋🎋🎋)

🐶🐶🐶 (at 🎋🎋🎋)

📱📱📱 (at 🌅🌅🌅)

📱📱📱 (at 🌅🌅🌅)

new video coming soon! (at 🎶 nikbates.com 🎶)

new video coming soon! (at 🎶 nikbates.com 🎶)

roseandrebellion:

nikbates.com nikbates.com nikbates.com

roseandrebellion:

nikbates.com nikbates.com nikbates.com

sneek:

My favorite rapper, producer and person Nik Bates dropped his new mixtape It’s a Beautiful Thing today! This tape is recommended if you like aged boom-bap with strings, Roc Marciano, Spongebob punchlines and healthy dose of nostalgia.

I’ve experienced this thing get built since last summer, from the guy showing me all the then-new beats he made out of the weird samples he found to all the different childhood references he hid in his verses. So I’m really happy this thing finally gets to be heard by the public. This is biased, obviously, but I think this is the best thing the guy has done by far.

You should listen to this on his cool website because the cassette widget player is pretty damn awesome. You can also say hi to him on Twitter. If you wanted to listen to some cool rap music today, here it is.

After over a year of work, I released new music. It’s A Beautiful Thing

http://www.nikbates.com for the cassette player! (at 🎶 nikbates.com 🎶)

After over a year of work, I released new music. It’s A Beautiful Thing

http://www.nikbates.com for the cassette player! (at 🎶 nikbates.com 🎶)

Get ready, potential album cover for my next project, “It’s A Beautiful Thing”

cc: @amcsucks for helping me shoot it, @josepoops and @_sneek for holding it down (at 🎶  09/30/14  🎶)

Get ready, potential album cover for my next project, “It’s A Beautiful Thing”

cc: @amcsucks for helping me shoot it, @josepoops and @_sneek for holding it down (at 🎶 09/30/14 🎶)

Do It Yourself: Long Beach Musicians on Creating a Scene

By Nik Bates

LONG BEACH, Calif.—The next generation of young, aspiring musicians in Long Beach are becoming more resourceful when it comes to live performances. Trying to stay within the lines of the city’s noise and entertainment regulations, they are organizing shows and benefits closer to community events than concerts.

“Even if you don’t know anybody there, you’re guaranteed to make five new friends,” said Brandon Kent, bass guitarist of the punk rock band Tough Stuff. On March 22, Tough Stuff played a show at The GreenHouse Café in Long Beach, along with Struckout, Olivias and Roman Candles.

Everyone greets each other with hugs and handshakes. They catch up and update each other with future plans for school, music or even just the next weekend. For those attempting to build a career off their music, however, the circumstances could be better. Opposed to a city like Los Angeles, where there are numerous venues for artists of all genres to perform, Long Beach does not have as many regular gigs.

“Everything is built against us,” said Daniel Speer. He is a member of the band Struckout and one of the creators of the Underground Music Society at Cal State Long Beach. “Long Beach is a weird little bubble for shows,” he elaborated. “There aren’t a lot of venues that do all ages shows.”

Many musicians in Long Beach are left to organize, set up and host their own shows. In the punk rock scene, they call these events “DIY shows,” in reference to the do-it-yourself nature of the set up. A majority of these shows take place in houses, but sometimes occur in coffee shop or small club venues when the chance presents itself.

“That’s the nature of DIY places, it’s like whack-a-mole,” said Speer. “Once one goes down, another comes up.” He is referring to the constant shut down of these places due to things such as noise regulations, proper licensing or even the ability to stay afloat through making profits.

The City of Long Beach Noise Control Office offers a list of viable reasons for contacting the police department about the issue of noise. These include music from nightclubs, construction, parking lot sweepers, air conditioners and even loud talking. In order to circumvent the rules, many bands plan for their shows to end at 9 p.m.

“I’m more of an acoustic artist, so my sessions don’t get all that rowdy,” said musician Kathleen Santiago. But even acoustic shows can get shut down. Both Kent and Speer spoke about folk punk singer Paul Baribeau’s performance in Long Beach and how it nearly got shut down by the police.

Venues for these artists rarely stay in business for more than two years, according to Kent. The issues involve compliance with entertainment, business or fire department licensing, the topic of alcohol and noise regulations.

image

Tough Stuff at the Greenhouse Cafe, March 22nd. Photo by Nik Bates.

“Alcohol is one of the biggest no-no’s,” said Kent. “That’ll for sure get you shut down.” These artists push for sober shows, in order to attract a lager fan base and keep their venues safe from fines, closing or police investigations.

Moreover, this leaves artists to venture outside of the Long Beach for shows.

“We’ve done extensive touring,” recalled Kent. “We’ve done west coast tours that go all the way up to Vancouver and back.” He also explained that Tough Stuff’s most recent tour took them as far as Akron, Ohio eastwards, and Decatur, Alabama toward the south.

“It’s really simple,” explained Kent. “We just exploit social media platforms.” He messages people who run venues across the country, asking them if they would like to have Tough Stuff perform there. They will either respond with a yes or connect them to a venue better suited. “We might ask for Seattle, but we’ll end up in a city two hours south of it,” said Kent.

As far as alternatives in California, many popular places that these local artists go to are VLHS in Pomona, Bridgetown DIY in La Puente, The Dial in Murrieta, and Ché Café on campus at UCSD. This leads to travel expenses and boarding fees that often come out of the pockets of the artists.

A safe and consistent place for these people to play music would allow for a thriving music scene to develop here in Long Beach. The difficulty is trying to keep a venue open that can make a profit without forcing the artists to dish out pre-sale tickets, hurting the artists in the end. Most pre-sale agreements state that if you don’t sell all of your tickets, you still must furnish the money for the total number. That means struggling musicians are left to purchase their own tickets.

In the world of music, this is known as “pay-to-play.”

image

Friends gather around the musician’s gear outside of the Greenhouse Cafe to chat and catch up with each other. Photo by Nik Bates.

“Overall, your goal is to get your music out there and that’s difficult when you have to pay to play everywhere,” said Santiago.  Yet, the small concert business model seems to thrive the most off this tactic. It guarantees them the money regardless of actual physical attendance the day of the show.

“Long Beach shows, being as frugal as they are, will reel in people because of that,” explained Kent. But it’s hard to make a business believe you can guarantee attendance if you aren’t an already established act in the music industry.

“My goal is to start a DIY venue, here in Long Beach,” said Speer. “I think if there’s going to be one person who can do it, it’s him,” Kent explained when talking about Daniel Speer’s aspirations. This is the biggest way these artists can take control of their careers in Long Beach.

There isn’t a lack of shows, but a lack of organized places to play. For artists like Santiago, the events are a bit more palpable. She is a part of a group of artists that have built followings on YouTube and are using their music to help out the society around them. The charity concerts and benefits that she plays take place all over California.

It’s reassuring to know that someone across the universe can actually relate to your music,” said Santiago. Connecting with fans and other artists is what drives these musicians to play live shows. “I’m playing shows with similar bands, and I’m bumping into the same people over and over again,” said Speer. “We’re starting to be friends. It feels like a genuine connection.”

That connection is what drives these artists everyday to pursue what they love, which is performing their music, no matter the circumstances.

###

CONNECT

Struckout @ Bandcamp

Tough Stuff @Bandcamp

Kathleen Santiago @YouTube

Here is the full, unedited version of last week’s album review/release party recap for Asher Roth’s RetroHash, from DIG Magazine here at CSULB.
ASHER ROTH FINDS INDEPENDENCE WITH RETROHASH
By Nik Bates
RATING: 7.2/10 

Since he broke out into the hip-hop scene as a member of the 2009 XXL Freshman Class along with Kid Cudi, Curren$y, and B.o.B. among others, Asher Roth had been caught in a major label standstill following the release of his debut album Asleep In The Bread Aisle. A 2012 article by Clash Magazine asked: “Why don’t you go indie, Ash?” In 2014, Asher Roth has finally answered his fans.
After four years, three mixtapes, two tentative album titles and an EP, in December of 2013 Asher Roth announced the title for his upcoming album. RetroHash was released April 22nd, accompanied by an album release party that same night at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.
Music duo Blended Babies handle the production for this album. Roth describes RetroHash—an anagram of his name—as an offshoot of his 2011 mixtape Pabst & Jazz. A cohesive body of work, this album finds Roth lyrically weaving his way through 10 hazy, alternative and psychedelic rock inspired tracks.
His verse on “Pull It” is proof that Asher Roth hasn’t lost a step when it comes to flowing on a beat. The Curren$y assisted “Dude” is another stand out track, a nonsensical wordsmith’s dream, tribute to Jeff Lebowski and possibly the only conventionally hip-hop track on the album.
Tracks like “Fast Life” featuring Chicagoan Vic Mensa and “Be Right” sound like updated versions of “Be By Myself” or “La Di Da” from Bread Aisle, but more indicative of where Asher Roth is at in his career today. These feel good songs straddle the line of pop rock crossover appeal, but Asher spills enough wisdom about leaving behind the major label dreams in return for artistic freedom to bring these tracks back down to Earth.
The album isn’t without a few lulls. At times, the drums sound like they were distorted and made to appear gritty, versus actually being lifted from vinyl records or recorded with older equipment. Blended Babies’ signature basslines are brooding and deep, but sometimes clash with the rest of the instruments rhythmically and stand out too much (“Last of the Flohicans”), or end up sounding unchanging and lifeless (“Something for Nothing”). However, tracks like “Dude” and “Pot of Gold” pull off the drum and bass mix well.
The singsong hooks and verses sometimes become repetitive. “Keep Smoking” features more halfway sung verses, and a lackluster attempt by boom bap beat mastermind Chuck Inglish to fit in with the RetroHash aesthetic. Thus, it ends up being a weak closer for the album. Throughout, it becomes apparent that Asher Roth is not a singer, but a rapper who decided to sing on his own tracks. Save for the harmonized falsetto of “Tangerine Girl” or catchiness of “Fast Life,” the singing is usually blurred and lacking dynamism. Amidst all of this, the singing still fits in with the mellow vibe and honesty of the album.
It is apparent that Asher has placed more of an emphasis on songwriting and making music opposed to strictly writing raps. The extended bridges and gritty instrumentation lends itself tremendously to Asher’s live shows.
LA underground rapper and singer Doja Cat opened up at the Troubadour with a smoked out, vibrant and wavy set. Chuck Inglish followed, playing some of his heaviest solo tracks before bringing out Sir Michael Rocks to perform some of their songs as The Cool Kids. Afterwards, Asher Roth was on stage backed by a live band and DJ Wreckineyez.
With Blended Babies in the audience, Asher ran through a medley of tracks like “In The Kitchen,” “Common Knowledge” and “Pearly Gates” as well as new material. The show felt more like a rock performance thanks to his backing band. Many of the songs featured instrumental breaks with bass, drum and keyboard vocoder solos, as well as Asher head banging or dancing around the stage. Eventually, it all ended with an encore of “I Love College,” for old times sake, Asher explained.

Complete with stage diving, a Soul Train dance line, crowd surfing grandma, handshakes and smiles all around, Asher reveled on stage in his moment of closure with the music industry in exchange for independence. The release of RetroHash and the Troubadour show marked the beginning of a new chapter for this eclectic rapper.
###

Here is the full, unedited version of last week’s album review/release party recap for Asher Roth’s RetroHash, from DIG Magazine here at CSULB.

ASHER ROTH FINDS INDEPENDENCE WITH RETROHASH

By Nik Bates

RATING: 7.2/10 

Since he broke out into the hip-hop scene as a member of the 2009 XXL Freshman Class along with Kid Cudi, Curren$y, and B.o.B. among others, Asher Roth had been caught in a major label standstill following the release of his debut album Asleep In The Bread Aisle. A 2012 article by Clash Magazine asked: “Why don’t you go indie, Ash?” In 2014, Asher Roth has finally answered his fans.

After four years, three mixtapes, two tentative album titles and an EP, in December of 2013 Asher Roth announced the title for his upcoming album. RetroHash was released April 22nd, accompanied by an album release party that same night at the Troubadour in Los Angeles.

Music duo Blended Babies handle the production for this album. Roth describes RetroHash—an anagram of his name—as an offshoot of his 2011 mixtape Pabst & Jazz. A cohesive body of work, this album finds Roth lyrically weaving his way through 10 hazy, alternative and psychedelic rock inspired tracks.

His verse on “Pull It” is proof that Asher Roth hasn’t lost a step when it comes to flowing on a beat. The Curren$y assisted “Dude” is another stand out track, a nonsensical wordsmith’s dream, tribute to Jeff Lebowski and possibly the only conventionally hip-hop track on the album.

Tracks like “Fast Life” featuring Chicagoan Vic Mensa and “Be Right” sound like updated versions of “Be By Myself” or “La Di Da” from Bread Aisle, but more indicative of where Asher Roth is at in his career today. These feel good songs straddle the line of pop rock crossover appeal, but Asher spills enough wisdom about leaving behind the major label dreams in return for artistic freedom to bring these tracks back down to Earth.

The album isn’t without a few lulls. At times, the drums sound like they were distorted and made to appear gritty, versus actually being lifted from vinyl records or recorded with older equipment. Blended Babies’ signature basslines are brooding and deep, but sometimes clash with the rest of the instruments rhythmically and stand out too much (“Last of the Flohicans”), or end up sounding unchanging and lifeless (“Something for Nothing”). However, tracks like “Dude” and “Pot of Gold” pull off the drum and bass mix well.

The singsong hooks and verses sometimes become repetitive. “Keep Smoking” features more halfway sung verses, and a lackluster attempt by boom bap beat mastermind Chuck Inglish to fit in with the RetroHash aesthetic. Thus, it ends up being a weak closer for the album. Throughout, it becomes apparent that Asher Roth is not a singer, but a rapper who decided to sing on his own tracks. Save for the harmonized falsetto of “Tangerine Girl” or catchiness of “Fast Life,” the singing is usually blurred and lacking dynamism. Amidst all of this, the singing still fits in with the mellow vibe and honesty of the album.

It is apparent that Asher has placed more of an emphasis on songwriting and making music opposed to strictly writing raps. The extended bridges and gritty instrumentation lends itself tremendously to Asher’s live shows.

LA underground rapper and singer Doja Cat opened up at the Troubadour with a smoked out, vibrant and wavy set. Chuck Inglish followed, playing some of his heaviest solo tracks before bringing out Sir Michael Rocks to perform some of their songs as The Cool Kids. Afterwards, Asher Roth was on stage backed by a live band and DJ Wreckineyez.

With Blended Babies in the audience, Asher ran through a medley of tracks like “In The Kitchen,” “Common Knowledge” and “Pearly Gates” as well as new material. The show felt more like a rock performance thanks to his backing band. Many of the songs featured instrumental breaks with bass, drum and keyboard vocoder solos, as well as Asher head banging or dancing around the stage. Eventually, it all ended with an encore of “I Love College,” for old times sake, Asher explained.

Complete with stage diving, a Soul Train dance line, crowd surfing grandma, handshakes and smiles all around, Asher reveled on stage in his moment of closure with the music industry in exchange for independence. The release of RetroHash and the Troubadour show marked the beginning of a new chapter for this eclectic rapper.

###

Shatter Your -Isms

Response to New York Times piece “The Pernicious Rise of Poptimism” by Saul Austerlitz

A writing response where I take down the notion of “poptimism,” arguing not only that pop music is worthy of educated critique but of how the ideas of poptimism, ageism and classism among others do nothing but the hurt music as a whole.

SHATTER YOUR -ISMS

By Nik Bates

Most “-isms” in music writing value and call attention to a specific segment, niche or genre of music. While that is understandably known as “preference,” the rigid and untraveled dichotomy these attitudes create on the other side is troubling. An “-ism” also looks to call forth to war two seemingly opposing sides in music, bringing attention and praise to just one side of the battle of good versus evil. In “The Pernicious Rise of Poptimism” from The New York Times,  Saul Austerlitz shuffles off music critics who praise pop music to one side of the room, and in the process brings up many conversation points that beg questioning.

This article makes many agreeable notions concerning the topic. Proponents of poptimism assert that pop artists are now being praised for the very things they were previously criticized about. In that instance, it is odd to think that we need a music laureate to remind us of what the Billboard 200 or Hot 100 can already tell us about the popularity of albums and singles. These are two different realms of judging music, as the charts tell us what has sold the most units and reviews dive deeper into the realm artistic merit and authenticity. Music critics have also collectively taken on the role as a voice for the voiceless, like Austerlitz refers to. He acknowledges that one of the goals of a music writer is to help new and unknown artists gain exposure, rather than “cheering the winners.”

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