Happy Sunlighter Sunday! If you’re unfamiliar with this week’s title, here’s your lesson for the week: “Chopped and screwed” is a hip-hop subgenre pioneered by Houston DJ, DJ Screw, in the 1990s, known for its slow tempo and record scratching. After DJ Screw’s death, DJs Michael Watts and Ron C would go on to popularize the sound, and later, co-found the record label, Swishahouse, home to artists including Slim Thug, Mike Jones, Paul Wall, and Chamillionaire.
Rating Rationale: Cole Bennett’s Lyrical Lemonade has truly transcended into a full-fledged music multi-media company with the release of their hip-hop compilation album, All Is Yellow. It’s an amazing feat for a Chicago high schooler turned college dropout - transforming an internet blog into hip-hop authority by way of shooting music videos, and now, releasing hip-hop music. From first listen, production prowess and maintaining the essential artistic style of each featured artist is most striking. We appreciate the diversity of sound and the unexpected samples, like “Hello There” (sampled from Blink-182’s “I Miss You”) and “Doomsday (sampled from Eminem’s “Role Model”), but there’s something to be said about quality over quantity here. “This My Life” is a must-listen.
Justin Timberlake returns to music
This week, the music industry cleared the way for Justin Timberlake to announce his comeback to music. Not only did he release a John Lennon-inspired single, “Selfish” (his first single in 5 years), he also revealed that he will be releasing an upcoming album, Everything I Thought It Was, on March 15th and kicking off a world tour that begins on April 29th. We mentioned it earlier this year - we expect pop to see a resurgence.
Lovers & Friends, Bourbon & Beyond, Lightning in a Bottle, and more lineups
We’re in full-swing festival lineup announcement season, and understandably, there’s a lot to keep track. Unlike Coachella, which has seen its slowest sales in 10 years (we’re not surprised due to its music discovery angle this year), other music festival competitors are seeing much more excitement. We’ll be covering any notable festivals to attend - all other updates will be on our music calendar.
Here are festivals that released lineups this week:
Upcoming artists, Brittney Spencer and Chase McDaniel, ink label deals
We know “country” can be a very polarizing genre for music listeners but in recent years, it has become one of the most popular and fluid genres in the music industry. We expect the fluidity of sound to continue, not just through cross-genre mobility but also through the diverse backgrounds of artists impacting the sound.
In early January, Brittney Spencer signed with Warner Chappell Music in, what is coincidentally, her 10th year of living in Nashville. A week later, she released her debut album, My Stupid Life. Also earlier this month, Kentucky native, Chase McDaniel, signed with Big Machine Records on the heels of his successful 2022 single “Project.” We expect both artists to continue their upward trajectory.
Primer: They say everything’s bigger in Texas (we can confirm). That’s especially true for BigX who has rapidly ascended in his hip-hop career, invigorated by a bricolage of genre influences that range from gospel to chopped and screwed. Growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, BigX diverted much of his time away from school to pursue a football career, leading him to Minnesota for college. However, after struggling with his grades and selling drugs to fellow students, he was eventually kicked out of college and forced to settle back in Austin. Disgruntled and desperate, he committed multiple robberies to provide for his infant son, though it caused him to miss his son’s first birthday. BigX eventually landed in solitary confinement but ironically with a renewed purpose - to write music.
Influences: DJ Screw, Isley Brothers
Current Label: Independent, distributed through UnitedMasters
Audience: ~9,175,000 monthly listeners on Spotify
What’s Next: After releasing his debut album AMAR (a nod to his son’s name) early last year and following up with his album, THE BIGGEST, we’re excited by the prospect of Texas rappers, led by BigX and fellow peer That Mexican OT, to help revive the hip-hop industry’s sound, and at the very least, develop a fresh regional sound. We’re also big fans of his funk-inspired sampling:
🍎 Apple Music Updates: Apple released several updates this week:
Apple Music is willing to pay artists up to 10% additional royalty for songs produced with higher-quality spatial audio
Apple Music allows users to create collaborative playlists (finally).
If you have your headphones connected, Shazam will now assist with identifying music.
☁️ SoundCloud Tooling: SoundCloud announced three new partnerships to improve their suite of creator tools, allowing users to create mash-ups and remixes, leverage royalty-free, studio-quality background music, and transform vocal stems using generative AI.
🌐 Web3 Updates: Warner Music and Polygon Labs have revealed the first two startups that will partake in their partnered web3 music accelerator: Mith and Muus Collective.
🦒 Above the Canopy: Warner Music has partnered with Pakistani music label, Giraffe, to deepen their association with music programs that have grown popular in Pakistani music culture, especially Coke Studio. With Pakistani artists successfully gaining recognition through these music programs, other music programs over the years have emerged, including NESCAFÉ Basement and Red Bull Music Sound Clash.
💻 UMusicLift: That’s the name of Universal Music Group’s newly launched online hub to connect music-related startups and entrepreneurs.
🌎 Warner Music Global: Warner Music launched a new creative hub in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a signal showing commitment towards expanding their Latin music footprint.
💰 Securing the Bag: This week, Santa Anna Label Group, owned by Sony Music, announced an investment in Drake’s OVO Sound, including a partnership on A&R support and marketing services.
21 Savage’s American Dream at #1, Kali Uchis’ Orquideas at #2
📈 After debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 and having all 14 of his eligible songs from american dream chart on the Hot 100, 21 Savage now has a total of 103 Billboard chart hits, only the 16th artist to achieve 100+ entries since the Billboard charts began in 1940. Kali Uchis achieves her highest Billboard debut in her career.
New albums to be released this Spring
📅 For upcoming albums, tours, and festivals access our comprehensive music calendar here.
📣 Album Announcements: Tierra Whack will be dropping WORLD WIDE WHACK. LE SSERAFIM announced their third mini-album, Easy. Justice announced the release date for Hyperdrama. Empress Of will be releasing For Your Consideration in March. Blu DeTiger will be releasing her debut album in March.
⏩ Here are album releases to look out for this week:
The Last Dinner Party, Prelude to Ecstasy
Brittany Howard, What Now
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