We, in an era of depleted harmonic angles and reused melodic motifs, have underwent a recent revitalization of musical brilliance in mainstream genres across the board. From the utilization of interesting harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic ideas across genres, artists such as Bilal, Kendrick Lamar, D’Angelo, Robert Glasper, Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Marcus Strickland, Hiatus Kaiyote, and a slew of similar minded artists are valuing the artisanal aspects of music and it is producing an unprecedented result; audiences are demanding sophistication.
A way to measure the accuracy of this hypothesis is very simple; one must only open their eyes to the facts of this movement. It is clearly observed that records by the aforementioned artists are being pushed into mainstream by massive underground followings that are resulting in inevitable attention from larger audiences. Spotify and YouTube are reporting massive numbers of plays and views for these artists, as well as physical manifestations of this support via outstanding sold out live shows. While these acts draw immensely large audiences on their own, AFROPUNK festival — a largely boutique effort of handpicked music from this specific movement — had not only an absurd turn out in all of its locations but major press coverage from worldwide outlets like Vogue, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Rolling Stone.
This notion, which was largely exhibited in the critically acclaimed masterpiece of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, shows artisan efforts are massively rewarded with not only the usual benefits of a successful record but also that of grandiose social implications. From groups of protestors chanting the lyrics to “Alright” amidst heated political tensions to Kendrick himself being called to be a performer and lecturer at a school in recognition of his poetic omnipotence, the impact of intelligent artisanship has the power to invoke change. Kendrick has also assembled a tour with the National Symphony Orchestra for shows resulting in indescribable spectacles of brilliance.
Bilal has completed a record of all new music with multi-instrumentalist and producer Adrian Younge which exhibits raw musicality and texture, as well as a mass of his own live shows featuring the best multi-genre musicians in New York City. It was recently announced with great anticipation that Thundercat and Flying Lotus were working on all new music with Herbie Hancock, a further sign of elegance and it’s penetration into the largest music markets in the world.
It is not dissimilar to any other age of prosperity in music; a veritable renaissance if you will. We see the erosion of spoon-fed musical formulas cooked up in the board room and more with each passing day and one can only be left to surmise a single conclusion; intelligent music is in very high demand.