As is probably apparent through this column (or maybe not), I’ve a penchant for pop music, particularly of the unconventional variety. I literally just stumbled across this week’s Artist of the Week approximately 30 minutes ago, but I already know that I’m going to be a long time fan. Kero Kero Bonito combines everything I like in a good bop: maximalist and punchy pop beats, sickly sweet vocals, and bleeps and bloops that sound as if they were lifted directly from a 90s video game.
Azealia Banks. Where do I even begin? You might all know her as the rapper who released “212” waaaaaay back in the day (read: 2011). You might know her as the artist who dominated the blogosphere with the aforementioned song: brash, flagrant, but oh-so catchy. Everyone from Slate to the New York Times to the ever-omnipresent Pitchfork was talking about her. Then what happened? For the sake of keeping a very long story short (we’re all #blessed with Google these days. Feel free to further explore as you will.), I’m going to give you all the abbreviated version of her story, as I understand it. She was signed to a record label. She dropped the record label. There was loads of Twitter beef in there somewhere? Add a hearty sprinkling of announcements about the release of her debut album, which kept getting pushed back to the point of it being a joke that it would ever be released, a mixtape and a stellar EP, a few artist collaborations that never came to fruition, and here we are today. It is the Year of our Lord 2014 and Miss Banks has released Broke With Expensive Taste.
Technically, this week’s AOTW isn’t a singular artist, but rather a group of artists who’ve come together to form the collective known as Barf Troop. They’re a bunch of badass girls making rap tracks and they all have pretty clever stage names: Babe Field, Justin Baber, Babeo Baggins, Baberella Fox, and Babenstein. They hail from all over the United States, but met each other through Tumblr and subsequently began making music together. That’s pretty cool, if you ask me. Barf Troop is pure girl power — they doing what they love, no matter what anyone else may tell them. In “The World Is Yours,” there’s a line that says, “it’s time for something new and we’re doing it; we’re breaking all the rules, we’re still schooling them.” HELL YEAH.
I’ve been a fan of the group ever since I heard their Summerslime mixtape a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back since. Barf Troop’s music is creative, clever, relatable, and even pretty funny at times. Rapping over generic beats found on the internet, to math rock tracks, to covers of folk songs, these girls know how to put their signature flair on any and all tracks made. On one of my personal favorite tracks, “Mafamatics,” Babeo Baggins raps over a beat from a Vine video. Really.
Image Courtesy of Hannah Diamond
Believe me when I say that I’ve spent a very long time trying to figure out what genre Hannah Diamond (and her fellow PC Music cohorts) falls into. She’s pop, but not quite pop. Edgier? More saccharine? Definitely electronic, but almost exclusively so. Her music seems like it was made entirely using computers, no instruments. The list could go on and on, but the point of this is that Hannah Diamond is virtually impossible to lump into only one genre, if at all. In today’s world, everyone is scrambling to smack labels on whatever new music comes out, leading to (sometimes) ridiculous and obscure names in an attempt to explain whatever song / artist you’re listening to. If I were to come up with a genre, it would be something along the lines of sparklewave or ringtonecore. (I’ve even heard the phrase “glitter trap” thrown around.) Disgusting, right?