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Replication vs. Innovation

innovation

Contributed by Jon Gore of Re-Education Camp. Their album Psyop’s Boomboxis available on iTunes.

innovationYou might not know this, but many of the musicians with Bad Apple Records used to be in bands together before they became what they are today. One example of this was the band Brick House Blend, which consisted of Zack and myself (currently Re-Education Camp), Derek Price (currently Sempervivi) and two other musicians, Carl Wilson and Ande Fee, who are also currently in other bands.

Like many band experiences with multiple artists, we had moments when we all agreed on what to do and moments when we disagreed about the band’s direction and sound. For the most part, we agreed on what our sound would be (which ended up being quite varied, possibly to appease everyone’s tastes).

One of the times when we disagreed, however, was when it came to the topic of performing cover songs. Some of the members of the band (myself included) were generally opposed to cover songs. Whenever I would see a cover band with several talented musicians, my first reaction was always, “Oh, that’s a shame.” I thought that it was a shame that these wonderfully talented musicians weren’t able to come up with something original that they could call their own. The other side of the debate was that cover songs were ways that we could connect to the audience and re-energize them to stay with us during our lengthy sets (I think we topped out at 4 hours at one point).

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The Art of Sampling

sampling

Contributed by Jon Gore of Re-Education Camp. Their album Psyop’s Boombox is available on iTunes.

SamplingI remember it very well when the Notorious B.I.G. (aka. Biggie Smalls) was shot and killed while riding in a car after an awards show. In hip hop, that day (March 9) is remembered well and honored by many. Whether people liked him or not, it was definitely a defining moment in the music’s history and perhaps showed how far off track it had become.

Another noteworthy follow-up to that incident was a tribute song by P. Diddy (known then as Puff Daddy), who was Biggie’s producer and manager. The song, ghost-written by label artist Mase, was a tribute to the legendary MC using a significant portion sampled and interpolated (see the chorus) from the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Now, I might say that I love the Police more than Biggie (yep, I said it). I grew up with older siblings who watched MTV during its early days, and I vividly remember Sting and crew’s unique song style. So, when I heard this sample, I thought that it was a blatant disregard for the original. Many agreed with me while others took it a step further and said it was no different than any other song that sampled another. Well, who was right?

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Invention… the Mother of Music

Contributed by Jon Gore (frontman for Re-Education Camp). Their latest release, PsyOp’s Boombox, is available on iTunes. Watch their music video for “Lesson Four: Five Enemies” at the bottom of the page! You can also listen to their recent interview on The Bad Apple Records Podcast.

Throwing down some vocals for a new LP, Challenge the League!
Throwing down some vocals for a new LP, Challenge the League!

I still remember it well. My friends and I would quickly eat our lunches in the middle school cafeteria. I would gobble down my PB&J and slug my juice box while my buddies polished off their square pizza slices, milk cartons, and tater tots. We were growing boys, so we had to eat fast, but we had other things in mind than our development. As soon as we were finished, we would start banging out a rhythm with our empty food containers and trays, including a “boom, boom, slap” with our hands on the top of the rollaway lunch tables. We were trying to get the same feel we got when we blasted our music at home after school and on the weekends. Little did we know that we were just continuing a musical tradition that has gone on for centuries and perhaps eons.

Turning everyday objects into musical instruments was actually the trigger behind most of the American musical styles that emerged in the 20th century. In poor black communities, especially, West African musical traditions paired with segregated schools barring musical education or the availability of instruments made people go for the DIY route instead. This is certainly not something unique to West African cultures. It’s clear that humans all over the world are at least three things: social, cultural, and musical. Bluegrass would never exist if not for the Scots-Irish.

Many of us were able to locate, save up, and buy the many instruments that we enjoy playing. We also have the ability to learn most musical styles fairly easily and cheaply. This was not the case, however, for the musicians in poor black communities during the 20th century. Little did they know that they would be starting a set of American musical styles that have gone on to dominate music worldwide. Continue reading Invention… the Mother of Music

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Being True School

Contributed by Jon Gore (frontman for Re-Education Camp). Their latest release, PsyOp’s Boombox, is available on iTunes. Watch their music video for “Lesson Four: Five Enemies” at the bottom of the page!

Re-Education Camp Logo
Re-Education Camp Logo

Something old, something new, something true… It’s a little strange being the only representative of a genre on a record label. In many ways, I feel surrounded by my contemporaries and friends, who are singer-songwriters, indie rock and folk artists. In other ways, it’s a bit of a “black sheep” identity to call myself the hip hop artist of Bad Apple Records. This is mostly because hip hop is definitely not recognized as well as the aforementioned genres as a respectable art form, or even “real music” at all. Luckily, I have not encountered this sentiment by anyone at Bad Apple. Maybe because we’re all misfits in our own way, hence the name of the label, right?

Instead of hostility or disgust, there’s been more of a cautious curiosity with what Zack and I bring with Re-Education Camp, and it’s understandable. As the most popular genre on the planet, hip hop takes a variety of forms and they aren’t always creative or well done. When someone tells me they “rap” or “do hip hop,” I’m cautiously curious, too. Sometimes I’m very pleasantly surprised and sometimes I’m horrified. It’s difficult to know who will represent the genre well, so let Doc clear up a few things to help you categorize some of the things you hear from me and others. Continue reading Being True School