Why We Still Pay Tribute to Nujabes Five Years Later

 

For avid beat listeners near and far, February is no longer just about expressing love on Valentine’s Day. Instead, it’s grown to be a time to remember and honor two of music’s greatest sound influencers. Here in the Western hemisphere, we were given James “J Dilla” Yancey, the Detroit-born DJ who would come to change the sound of Hip Hop. Meanwhile in Tokyo, the man who would be underground’s most impactful DJ, Jun “Nujabes” Seba, would take his very first breath on the same day. Isn’t it amazing to think that two of Hip Hop’s most inspiring creatives were birthed the same day on opposite sides of the planet? However, fate proved to be a double edged sword.

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Photo courtesy of glarbinator.deviantart.com

Today marks 5 years since we received the heart-stopping news of the fatal car crash that ended Nujabes’ life. But even if his physical presence is no longer with us, his music will continue to immortalize his name. Nujabes was known for his implementation of jazz-lamented hip hop beats, and molding each track into a ethereal sound that became a distinct “Nujabes” style.

Today we play the last installment in the “Luv(sic)” series that started out as a 3 part series between Nujabes and his good friend Shing02. After receiving news of the Nujabes’ death, Shing02 took it upon himself to finish what they started. He took to the studio to create parts 4, 5 and 6 to give closure, not only to the series, but to all listeners out there.

“Gotta finish what we started,”Shing02 said. “So I cut the tape as our records will stay on rotate.” You will be forever missed, Jun “Nujabes” Seba, but never forgotten.

 

 

Video of the Day: Prateek Kuhad Releases Soulful Music Video Full of Love and Stringy Lights

 

Emerging artist Prateek Kuhad released a must-see music video for his second single “Oh Love.” If you enjoy crooning-indie vibes reminiscent of Mumford and Sons, Ben Howard, or Nick Drake, you’ll absolutely love this.

Kuhad grew up in the city of Jaipur in India, but by 2008, he found himself at NYU majoring in mathematics and economics. In New York, he started gaining access to the ocean of music and expression that had before been unimaginable, citing Elliot Smith as an artist phase he went through in expanding his taste.

His album, set to release January 21, is called In Tokens & Charms and is filled with love songs and a warm, light-hearted medley of a new artist.

Accompanying this album is this music video for the single.

The mission of the video was to complement the song, rather than enhance or take away from it. In that sense, it fuses the lyrics and the audio experience with a visual one. In the simplicity of the goal, the video (produced by Jamun, New Delhi filmmakers) used few resources and took only one day to shoot.

The video starts with Kuhad and drummer Nikhil Vasudevan in an old-school Dilli black and yellow cab, leading to a trail with fairy lights and firecrackers. This dreamy landscape eventually brings us to Kuhad and Vasudevan performing for friends. It’s a song and music video that can elicit college nostalgia with a spot of giddiness.


Facebook page of Prateek Kuhad (https://www.facebook.com/prateekkuhadmusic/photos/a.143638475688686.53029.143617089024158/600681409984388/?type=3&theater)

Photo courtesy of Prateek Kuhad’s official Facebook page.

“I really enjoy writing in both languages. All my songwriting is very instinctive, so sometimes the words come through in English, and sometimes in Hindi – it just depends on what I’m feeling at the time. We’ve all grown up speaking and thinking, watching films and listening to music in both languages – it’s who we are,” Kuhad tells ARTINFO.

The album is available for pre-order on iTunes, and Kuhad has a website and Facebook page for further information (and a SoundCloud to explore on one of those lazy afternoons).

Who Says Frying Pans Aren’t Musical? Andrew Huang Uses Household Objects to Play Top Songs of 2014

 

Plenty of YouTube artists have made covers of the top songs of 2014, but we’re going to go ahead and bet that you’ve never seen a mash up quite like this one.

Andrew Huang is back with even more incredible ways to use random objects and create unbelievable music. When we wrote about Huang back in September, his official YouTube channel had about 160,000 subscribers. In just a few short months, Huang has raised this number to over 200,000 and we can see why.

So far, we’ve watched Huang use everything from water to balloons and even the famous rock-paper-scissors trio to create incredible music. This time, he’s put together one of the best 2014 mashups we’ve heard, covering everything from Taylor Swift to Pharrell Williams.


So what items does he use this time?

Anything he could get his hands on. Seriously. Huang points out in the video description that he used any household item he could find while staying at a friend’s house. This left him with items like a beer bottle, a frying pan, a rubber band, a spray bottle, a salt shaker, and even the zipper to his pants.

Don’t believe he could make an awesome cover using these things? Check out the video below. The video was uploaded less than two weeks ago, but it has already gathered well over 800,000 views.

 

 

Want to see more of Andrew Huang’s creative music? Check out the videos below.

 

 

 

 

 

Feature image courtesy of www.smosh.com


This Man Makes Unbelievable Music Out of Sushi, Cats and Chicken Nuggets

 

We’ve often heard that music can be made with anything, but usually we don’t take that literally. My guess is that you’ve never imagined using sushi, cactuses, cats and chicken nuggets to create music. Well, Mark Redito, better known as Spazzkid, proved that it can be done in an experimental video he posted on YouTube a few days ago.

Photo courtesy of http://www.buzzfeed.com/

The music in the video is produced by a machine called The Makey Makey, which allows any object to become a keyboard to make a melody. Watch Spazzkid’s track, “Lovers,” played in the video through some of his favorite food, pets and objects:

Spazzkid is an LA-based chillwave artist in the genre of electronic pop (a.k.a. electropop) music. His debut album “Desire” was released in 2013 and includes a mixture of contemporary Japanese music throughout some tracks. Up until summer, he was busy spending his time releasing several extended plays (EP). The recording contains more than just a single song, but not quite as much to create a full-length album.

Photo courtesy of http://spazzkid.bandcamp.com/

 

 

Japanese Artist Crystal Kay Is Ready For Her International Debut

 

Born and raised in Yokohama, Japan, to an African American military father and a third-generation ethnically Korean singer mother, Crystal Kay was constantly surrounded by music. She started singing commercial jingles at the tender age of 4 (“My mom’s friend who owned an advertisement production company would borrow me when they needed a child’s voice,” says Kay) and released her first single, “Eternal Memories,” at 13. Fifteen years and 11 albums later, Kay, 28, is looking forward to branching outside of her Japanese fanbase and introducing her unique sound to American audiences.


 

Audrey Magazine: What kind of music did your parents introduce you to when you were growing up?

Crystal Kay: My parents listened to all of the great music of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, from Earth, Wind & Fire, Maze and Luther [Vandross] to Celine Dion and Bon Jovi. My favorites were Michael and Janet Jackson. Watching their videos and shows really inspired me to become an entertainer. My parents’ eclectic taste in music definitely influenced mine in a great way because I love to incorporate different styles to make borderless music of my own.

 

AM: You started in the industry so young. What do you think of when you revisit songs, like “Eternal Memories,” that you performed when you were barely a teenager?

CK: I think, “Damn! I was such a baby!” [Laughs] But I love that song, and I think it captured my innocence and pureness, visually and musically, in a perfect way. It’s also fun to reflect on how much I’ve changed and grown both as an artist and a woman. I’m very proud of my earlier albums and videos.

 

AM: You are a cool and unique mix of cultures. Can you talk about what you’ve taken from growing up in Japan, in addition to the influences of an African American father and a Korean mother?

CK: Thanks! Growing up in Japan has helped me understand unique Japanese traditions and culture. It’s a culture that’s very polite and courteous — sometimes a little too courteous [laughs] — but it’s a nice trait to have, and it makes me different when I’m in a foreign country.

My African American influence is definitely in my sense of music and rhythm. I love to dance, and people always tell me my soulfulness and the way I feel the beat is definitely my black side. I never lived in Korea, but one thing I’ve learned is that Koreans are passionate people. They love to sing and dance, and I love how they are proud of their musical history. I feel I have the best of both worlds musically, and I’m very thankful for that.

 

AM: As a trailblazing mixed-race artist in Japan, has it ever been difficult to express or explain your identity in the public eye?

CK: Moving to New York, I’m finally starting to become more comfortable defining and explaining who I am. In Japan, I never had to really explain myself often, because it was rarely asked. I think that was probably because many people in Japan were just not used to multiracial people like they are in the U.S. And also, I was the first black and Korean singer in Japan, so I was a rare breed. [Laughs]

 

AM: How has the music landscape changed in the last 15 years since you first started?

CK: It’s definitely changing for the better. You can see the growth in number and popularity of mixed-raced artists in the entertainment industry throughout the years. It’s nice to see this change because it helps the youth to be open-minded and see people for who they are, whether they are mixed or not.

 

AM: What prompted your desire to debut in the U.S., and what can we look forward to?

CK: I’ve always wanted to share my music with the world. When I first debuted at 13, I thought, “Oh yay, I have a single out, so I’m automatically worldwide!” I always thought, naturally, that music is universal. When I realized I was a “Japanese singer,” my drive to become an international star became stronger, and it was always just a matter of when.

I have over 50 [songs] as of now, and I hope to release an EP very soon. Then I want to start performing so I can finally start spreading my music and create a following.

 

AM: One of your goals is to bring Japanese youth culture to an American audience. Can you elaborate on what Americans are missing out on that you want to share?

CK: Because I’m a multicultural Japanese girl, I want to show a side of Japanese girls that hasn’t really been shown to the world. Let’s reset that stereotype that is often misunderstood as bubblegum cute. There are a lot of sexy, powerful and real women and girls that take charge of their lives. They have their own powerful expression.

 

AM: What do you think about international artists like Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry and Avril Lavigne who incorporate Japanese culture into their music? Is there a way to do it well versus a way that is questionable?

CK: I think it’s really cool how Gwen Stefani played with the Harajuku girl concept, because she really made it her own by creating her version of the Harajuku culture and paying tribute to it in her own way. I also think it’s cute that Katy wears a lot of Japan-themed costumes. You can see that they both adore the culture and appreciate its uniqueness and are not mocking it. Because of them, I’m sure a lot more people became interested in Japan and its pop culture.

It really bothers me when people overuse the neon signs, wrong kanji and geisha girls in white faces and incorrectly worn kimonos in their videos just to be “different.” I remember seeing something similar to that in this R&B singer’s video — I won’t mention any names. [Laughs]

But I want to introduce a cooler and more authentic side of Japan that, at the moment, only I can. I want to show a really unique Japanese subculture that the world doesn’t really know about.

 

AM: And lastly, since we’re talking about crossing cultures, which other international stars would you love to work with?

CK: I would love to work with Calvin Harris. I love his style of dance music, and he has great melodies. I think we can be a killer combo

 

 

To get a taste of Crystal Kay’s new music, click here

 

 

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All photos courtesy of Alli Nakamura
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here

MC JIN Discusses Upcoming Album Release & His Role in “Revenge Of The Green Dragons”

 

His family and friends know him as Jin Au-Yeung, but you probably know him as MC Jin, former Ruff Ryder and Park Freestyle Friday legend.

Jin already has quite a number of accomplishments under his belt. He released his debut album The Rest is History back in 2004 and began his acting career in 2 Fast 2 Furious. The artist then took his talent to Asia where he captivated the music industry and starred in a number of Chinese films and television spots.

Well now Jin is back in the US and in a big way. His first full length album in the U.S. titled XIV:LIX will be released on October 19th (check out the first single off XIV:LIX titled “Chinese New Year” below) and Jin also has a role in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film Revenge Of The Green Dragons.

Luckily for us, MC Jin took some time out of his busy schedule to talk to us and tell us more about what’s to come:


 

 

Audrey Magazine: So you began rapping in Middle school. Can you tell us more about that and what inspired you?
MC JIN: Initially, I was spending most of my time emulating the rappers I admired. Looking in the mirror, using a comb as a microphone rapping along line for line, I envisioned myself as LL Cool J. Then when I heard of two young guys named Kriss Kross, it dawned on me that kids could do this too. At that point, I started crafting my own lyrics and next thing you know I found myself engaging in rap cyphers at school.


AM: As a young rapper, what were the sort of things you discussed in your music?
MCJ: I would say the subject matter was pretty standard for the typical mind of a pre-teen. The lyrics didn’t stray too far from things like how boring I thought school was or the girl I had a crush on. For the most part, it mostly revolved around how great of a rapper I was, or thought I was.


AM:  What gave you the idea to include Cantonese words in your freestyle verses?
MCJ: That wasn’t something that happened until way later in my journey. When I did start doing it, it was more out of fun then to make a statement of any sort. It is interesting to note that from early on, it never crossed my mind what it would look like to actually write and perform in Cantonese. Who would’ve known that at some point down the line, I’d be doing both in Hong Kong on a scale beyond my imagination.

AM:  Did your family and friends always support your career choice?
MCJ: From the moment I made it know that this was my passion and career path choice, it was safe to say that no one was supportive. In the earliest stages, it did feel like I was the only one who believed in this dream. Eventually, both family and my circle of friends came around but to this day, it still feels like a dream. All I can say is, I’ve been extremely blessed to be able to do what I’m passionate about for a living this past decade plus.


AM:  What’s the difference between performing in the U.S and in Asia? Which do you prefer?
MCJ: I don’t really have a preference. Wherever I have an opportunity to share my story and do what I love on stage, I am grateful. As for differences, there are the obvious such as language and certain cultural elements. The more I think about it though, we are more similar than anything else.


AM:  Tell us how you got into acting.
MCJ: My first big screen experience that people would have knowledge of would probably be the second Fast & Furious film. This was over 10 years ago mind you. It’s encouraging to know people still remember that..
As for how that came about, you can say it was just being in the right place at the right time. The record label that I was signed with made a few calls and got me a casting audition with the director. I went and ended up getting the role. The few years that I spent in Hong Kong definitely opened my eyes to the craft and art of acting, through the tv and film projects that I had the opportunity to partake in.


AM:  Do you have a preference between acting or rapping?
MCJ: Both platforms allow me to express myself in unique ways and I find that I still have lots to learn and grow in regarding both.

AM:  Tell us about the single “Chinese New Year.” What’s the message and what inspired you to create this song?
MCJ: At the core of it, “Chinese New Year” is about acknowledging our cultural differences however celebrating together, in the fact that we are really all the same in the bigger picture. In that sense, everyday is Chinese New Year.

AM:  What’s the overall feel of XIV:LIX?
MCJ: It is definitely my most authentic, sincere and heartfelt album of all the projects I’ve released in the past decade. More than great music, what I hope listeners take away from the album is a true insight into the heart and soul of Jin Au-Yeung.

AM:  Can you tell us a bit more about your role in the Martin Scorsese film Revenge Of The Green Dragons?
MCJ: I play a young detective named Tang trying to take down the Green Dragons. It’s a minor role but I am super grateful for the opportunity, as it was an extreme learning experience. To be challenged and stretched is always a great thing.

AM:  What can we expect from you in the future?
MCJ: Depending on how the XIV:LIX album does, you might either see me making more music touring the world.. or I might be making you a soy latte at your local Starbucks.

 

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YouTube Artist Andrew Huang Creates Unbelievable Music With Random Objects

 

When you think of popular instruments, you probably think of the guitar, the piano or maybe even the violin. I’m going to go ahead and guess that you don’t think of rocks, balloons and scissors. Well, YouTube artist Andrew Huang is here to change your mind about that.

Huang’s YouTube channel has over 160,000 subscribers, and for good reason! His channel’s description says he makes “music in every genre” and he certainly isn’t kidding about that.

On his channel, you can find everything from hip hop and r&b to rock. Most interesting of all, there appears to be an unusual genre in which he takes random objects and creates incredible music with it. In one video, he creates music entirely out of the sound of water. He pours the water, splashes it around, and even uses the sound of water drops to create his impressive song.

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In another video, the beat is made exclusively using sounds from rocks, papers and scissors. The beat is so intricate that many people didn’t believe the melodic sounds could come from such random objects. Huang had to create a follow up video just to show that he was actually capable of creating the sounds.

Recently, Huang released a cover of the popular song 99 Red Balloons. Of course he decided to create the music using (you guessed it) red balloons. The video was only uploaded to YouTube yesterday, but it has already gathered over 200,000 views.

Check out his unbelievable music here:

 

 

Why Everyone is Falling in Love With This Talented Taiwanese Drummer

 

Step aside Ringo Starr and Travis Barker, we have a new favorite drummer in town. From the looks of things, she intends to keep her spot as a favorite.

Known to us by her English name, S. White, this Taiwanese jazz drummer and street performer has been turning heads and catching quite a bit of attention. In fact, her official Facebook fan page has nearly 200,000 likes. Now don’t let her youth and petite size fool you– White packs a punch in her performances.

She is often seeing laughing, singing along and bobbing her head while rocking out to everything from Crayon Pop to Lady Gaga. Many media sites have praised her on being such a “cute and pretty” drummer, but the reason she’s on our list of favorites is her undeniable talent and charm. Simply put, she has so much fun during her performances that we can’t help but smile along.

Check out some of our favorite S. White performances below.

 

MUST SEE: Filipino Girl Group Perform Breathtaking “Let it Go” Cover on Korean Show

 

I know, I know. You’re tired of “Let it Go” covers and I don’t blame you. In fact, when this video popped up on my newsfeed, I let out an exasperated sigh with an eye roll on the side. Again? 

But what stopped me from scrolling on was the incredible amount of attention this video was receiving. Koreaboo, a K-Pop entertainment website, posted the video on their Facebook and within 4 hours, the video gained a incredible 30,000 likes and nearly 20,000 shares.  Clearly, there was something different about this cover.

As it turns out, the video features four Pinays who were on Superstar K, a South Korean television talent show series. Trust me when I say this cover blew me away, and I’ve seen quite a handful of “Let it Go” covers.

Go ahead and check it out for yourself. I promise, it’s worth it.

 

Not tired of the Frozen mania? Check out some of our favorite Youtube Covers of “Let it Go” featuring Asian artists!


Add To Your Rotation: The Music of Japan-based R&B/Pop Musician Crystal Kay

 

Already a star in her native Japan, the super cool R&B/pop singer Crystal Kay, who is of Korean and African American descent, is mounting her international attack with a brand new video for her song “Dum Ditty Dumb.” Find out more about Kay and how she’s ready to bring a different side of Japanese pop culture to the world in our Fall 2014 issue, coming soon.
Here, check out her music while she tells us about the inspirations behind some of her recently released English-language songs (including a teaser video with her collaboration with Far East Movement!).

 

“Dum Ditty Dumb”
“That is a very fun and crazy song that was inspired by the dope track my producer Jon Jon made. The energy had all of us coming up with these mad ideas, like throwing in Japanese and tribal-like rhythms with Japanese shamisens in the background. The beat drop felt crazy but sexy at the same time, so I wanted to write and sing something that was aggressive but sexy in a confident way.
“[Music video director Tani Ikeda] got my concept of “Yokohama Ratchet Pop” and how I really wanted to introduce and rep my Yokohama culture. She was able to incorporate that in such a cool and playful way by mixing 2D and animation, which was something that hasn’t been done before.”

 

Check out the behind-the-scenes video, as well as the final result, below.

 

 

 

 

“Busy Doing Nothing”
“I wanted to turn it into a loser boyfriend anthem — something we can all relate to, in a fun and playful way. The melody is so catchy. People would be singing along to it after hearing it just once.”

 

 

“Rule Your World”
“I’ve never really done a very sexy and dominant song. I’m coming to that stage as an artist, exploring and experimenting with my new sound.”

 

 

Far East Movement “Where The Wild Things Are,” featuring Crystal Kay
“We are label mates in Japan in the Universal International label, and we wanted to see what would happen if we worked together. I was already a fan before I met them. After we met, we all just clicked! I love how we’re all Asian which made it feel even more like family.”

 

Check out the teaser video below.