Frank Swider

OK, you all know by now how I feel about local music. Wichita is fully capable of making music just as well as anybody on either coast. The music of Kirk Rundstrom is a case in point and should not be forgotten.

Public Domain (Def Jam Recordings)

Dark and desperate, Summertime ‘06 is the new double-disc release from Compton rapper Vince Staples.

It’s a study in American dystopia. The tone of the record is steeped in classic gangsta rap tropes—street crime, drugs and bravado—but Staples manages to use these well worn ideas as a way to support an elegant narrative that avoids the typical cartoonish depiction of the gangsta rap artist. / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Film director Wes Anderson announced last year that he wants to create an amusement park. He says that it would have "hundreds of animatronic characters and creatures, rides through vast invented landscapes and buildings, extensive galleries of textiles and sculptures, plus an ongoing original music score piped in everywhere," and he wants the whole thing to be designed by a musician named Mark Mothersbaugh.

Youngking11 / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

A common critique of hip hop music is to point out the violence and vulgarity in the lyrics as a sign of its lack of quality. I’ve always found this puzzling. Americans are connoisseurs of violence. We are tastemakers in this aesthetic, and we know what and where we like each particular violence.

nico7martin / Flickr / Creative Commons

Crowdfunding Music

Jul 21, 2015
Bizking2u / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

Selling records has historically been a capital-intensive undertaking. This has always been a problem for new music, and record companies are less likely than ever to risk money on new artists in the post-Napster era.

generationbass / Flickr / Creative Commons

Our American identities are largely formed around the concept of work, both the noun and the verb, and as our national music, hip hop is no different.

So, I tried Plink the other day.

Plink is a free online multiplayer game that lets you make music in real time with other people. Pressing the “Start” button puts the player into an environment with two or three other players-- strangers-- and a four-on-the- floor bass drum pattern. All one does is cooperate with the others to make music.

Tacinsk / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. / Wikimedia Commons

Hip hop’s early appeal had to do partly with its hyper-localism—the lyrics and musical tastes were originating from particular neighborhoods in New York City, each vying to produce sounds and styles distinct from each other.

As American hip hop grew and commercialized, this organic differentiation mellowed, and as the culture spread across oceans, hip hop was reborn in much the same way as it started: block by block, hood by hood. / Creative Commons / Google Images


Advertising has become embedded into our digital lives--I suppose if people aren’t willing to pay for music anymore, then having ads interrupt your Spotify playlist is a unavoidable. But recently, some lines have been crossed, and I worry that it’s affecting the experience.