4 Bands That Lend Themselves to Binging

A serious peril faces the American citizen, one I’d never noticed so plainly until I drunkenly slumped into the confines of my couch and flipped on the television one fateful night. I’d had a beer or two or seven that evening, which always serves to heighten my already scornful attitude towards the state of modern television, but tonight something felt more…sinister.

 

The cheery attitude of whichever nondescript blonde girl that’s currently the On Demand menu highlights always reeks of insincerity, but on this night her tone took on a certain quality usually reserved for movie villains struggling not to reveal their plot to some captured protagonist. It was immediately obvious to me that something nefarious was rumbling deep in the belly of the Comcast corporation, and this reporter knew it firsthand. She couldn’t keep a certain quaver out of her voice. I was nearing a state of pity for the girl, she was after all simply a victim of her circumstances, when she uttered two fateful words I can never forget:

happy binging.

 

Suddenly, I was filled with a violent disgust for this reporter; she had conclusively proven to me that not only had she not only witnessed the beginning of a world in which watching television for hours on end was encouraged, but she had actively chosen to further this effort to best of her abilities. I had mistaken this woman for a victim of her circumstances, when in reality, she was simply the face of a movement in which we’ve all taken part. In the recent past, humans tentatively traded tales of a dystopian future ruled by screens, in which mind control or some other whimsical use of force kept the public glued to their tubes. Of course, this was not the mechanism through which that future came. It came instead under the guise of the trend, ‘binging’. It came through the veins of social media, on the heels of the internet. It came in the form of hashtags.

Binging

It’s enough to make any man sick, and I could feel the footings of fury building in my veins, when suddenly I was struck with a rather disturbing idea: television is not the only medium in which binging is encouraged. Perhaps as a result of the increased access to media the internet brought along, binging has infiltrated just about every medium available, including music. Yes, readers, even my beloved medium, the art form I’ve championed for years, is infected by binging.

This phenomena seems to manifest itself more strongly in certain acts than others, a curiosity which served as the impetus to write this article. We’ll explore which bands are most prone to binging, and perhaps even attempt to explain the reasoning behind the perverse behavior.

So without further ado, the four acts that most lend themselves to binging.

4. Cloud Nothings

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Formed in Cleveland back in 2009, the three-piece Cloud Nothings plays a straightforward rock sound rarely seen in today’s music industry. At surface level, the uncomplicated nature of their tunes may explain the tendency for fans to listen to Cloud Nothings for hours on end. While this superficial analysis is enough to satisfy the masses, I refuse to allow readers to stop their thinking there. Together we can dig deeper.

Now, there’s likely a number of reasons why Cloud Nothings pique the interest of the binging instinct lurking inside our brains. Perhaps it does have something to do with the almost minimalistic nature of their tunes; after all, a well-written yet simple melody tends to hold a certain sway over the brain, often in the form of the infernal earworm. However, the scene is littered with simple musicians writing simple tunes, none of whom have that certain jena se qua that so distinguishes Cloud Nothings.

But to what can we attribute that certain swagger the group holds? How is it that, even in the earlier years when frontman Dylan Baldi’s voice wasn’t quite as developed to a professional level, the group managed to cultivate a loyal following?

For me, whatever this unnamed characteristic is, it’s without a doubt the reasoning behind the tendency for myself and others to binge listen Cloud Nothings. I suspect most of you readers aren’t exposed to much literary material in which the author cannot express his opinion on the subject matter, and yet it is for precisely that reason fans continue to explore their music. There’s an intangible, indescribable magnetism to all of their releases (particularly Attack on Memory) that feels just barely out of reach, no matter how familiar one becomes with their music.

Imagine speaking with a friend, and attempting to express a profound idea, only to find your words tied up at the tip of your tongue. It’s certainly frustrating, but the idea you wish to convey is essential, and for that reason you’ll attempt again and again to express this idea. It can even become addicting. It’s this same phenomena, the recognition of something special but utter inability to actual define what that actually is, that draws fans to Cloud Nothings and keeps them listening for hours on end.

3. Nas

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Whereas the inability to express what’s so attractive about Cloud Nothings is precisely what makes them attractive, our next entry, rapper Nas, falls entirely on the other side of that spectrum. The New Yorker draws fans and bingers with one clearly defined trait: his lyricism. Nas was one of the first rappers to really utilize the medium as a lens for examining the life of the American working class, particularly the early 90’s black community in New York City.

The man’s lyrics, especially during Illmatic and the next couple releases, tell poignant and emotionally stirring stories of the plight of the lower class. This approach to rap has become a popular subgenera, cultivating the likes of Atmosphere and Aesop Rock. However, even these legends don’t have the spunk Nas does. This is because Nas uses hip-hop to achieve an entirely unique purpose. His lyrics are pointed, prodding at the raw nerves of society, but done so in the same way comedians like Stephen Colbert operate. This allows Nas to spit socially conscious rhymes while still appealing to a mainstream, commercial audience.

This duality offers listeners the choice of a light-hearted or heavy-handed approach to his tunes. In a party scenario, Nas is a perfectly acceptable choice, and yet most of his tracks are equally faultless when one finds themselves alone, late at night, fathoming the complexities of being alive. Because of the mastery with which his lyrics were written, Nas has created a product whose use reflects the state of the listener.

This universal appeal across all scenarios definitely explains the bulk of the reasoning behind most fan’s Nas binges. It’s not surprising that an artist who can act as the soundtrack to any situation easily subjects himself to heavy listening. Of course, this isn’t the only reason that fans binge to Nas, but we’ll get into that with our next entry.

2. Nirvana

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Much like Nas, grunge legends Nirvana find themselves subjected to binge listening purely for memory’s sake. Likely because of Cobain’s timely death, Nirvana fans tend to associate the band with a certain period of their lives, typically the early 90’s. Despite their massive popularity, the trio only released three albums, meaning fans have been limited to the same fifty or so tracks for the last twenty years. As one can imagine, the relative dearth of tunes adds to emotional value of each track; many fans have particular memories associated with specific tracks.

In the twisted realm of binging, emotions and memories are quite dangerous to toy with. It is a bizarre plight of humanity that events always seemed better looking back upon; this is referred to as the ‘rose-colored glasses’ effect in psychological circles. For years the debate has raged on why exactly this characteristic exists in nearly all humans, but one thing is certain: spending too much time in the past, no matter how pleasant the memories, can be addicting. Many minds find themselves consumed with the past, actively wishing the ability to relive long ago moments of glory.

For some people, listening to certain songs makes them feel ever so slightly closer to these moments; these individuals are the most at risk of binging for memory’s sake. Their insistence on listening to the same albums over and over comes directly from their addiction to mentally reliving the past.

It should be noted, by the way, that just about every older group is affected by this situation, including Nas. Nirvana was simply a particularly compelling example.

1. Fat Freddy’s Drop

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Our final entry on this list has the distinct honor of being the most innocent of provoking binge listeners. The New Zealand reggae act, Fat Freddy’s Drop, simply makes remarkably intelligent music that sounds absolutely unlike any other act to have ever existed. Fans of Fat Freddy’s Drop binge listen, sure, but they have no other alternatives. There are no close substitutions for this band, but the music is so well-written, fans have no trouble listening to tracks again and again without tiring.

Much like the previous entry, Fat Freddy’s Drop isn’t the only act to receive this treatment, but simply an example that readily jumped to the mind of your humble author. Every music fan has been guilty of this type of binge listening, simply out of necessity. Imagine the vast realm of music as a wild, untamed forest, entirely impassable to humans. When one first begins to develop their musical tastes, he or she finds themselves in the large clearing, the only clearing in the forest.

Each time you take interest in a new band, that group removes a few feet of the woodland, just enough to take one step into the woods. Then, another band comes along that’s in the same vein as the first band, and they too help to blaze another couple of feet into the wilderness. This process repeats with every new act that influences a listener. You may have various routes from which to leave the clearing, but once you’ve followed any particular path for long enough, you’ll reach a point where there is no next band, or at least not one that yet exists.

At this point, you’ve reached the ‘state of the art’. There is nowhere to progress from here. So you must wait, listening over and over to that last step you took, patiently biding your time until the next comes along. This behavior appears to the untrained eye as binge listening, and is the exact scenario fans of Fat Freddy’s Drop have found themselves in for almost a decade.

If the recent state of events is any indication, binge listening and watching won’t go away any time soon, which is why I urge the reader to consider the reasoning behind their pursuit of this particular vice. While there are no doubt worse threats to today’s world, the uninformed binge is still a peril that at the very least leads to a massive waste of time.

While consuming your favorite acts or television shows in large quantities has its appeal, the intelligent members of society know to at least question why they act as such. I can only hope that my readers can live a life with that same level of inquisition.

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Follow Our Instagram For Rare LA Street Art Treasures and Finds!

The only thing use our Instagram account for really is to capture rare LA street art we come across. We’re usually lurking in back alleys and grimey locations around town and come across a lot of great art. If you’re into street art, graffiti and wheatpasting then you’ll want to follow us. You can find us at http://instagram.com/toobbox

Here are some recent treasures:

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3 Misconceptions The Public Holds About Rap

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My fellow Americans and readers from elsewhere, I am displeased to tell you that today, there are a number of misconception surrounding the state of rap. Perhaps as a result of its status as the “popular genre” in recent years, a grotesque mound of misinformation has seeped into the public eye.

This disease is largely propagated by a number of out-of-touch celebrities, politicians, and power-holders and appears targeted specifically towards the panicked white middle class. These fabrications typically arise from some twisted realm halfway between reality and fiction, which gives them the deceptive advantage of a truthful footing on which to erect their unfounded opinions.

My dear friends and readers, this is simply not acceptable to me. As a fan of the genre, I despise to see it so unjustly smeared, but this is not the only impetus which drives me. As a journalist I hold the explicit duty to expose what truths I can and aid the public in coming to a realistic, balanced understanding of the state of things. For this reason, we’ll spend this piece examining some of the most commonly held misbeliefs about the state and impact of rap music, begin with one of the most derogatory…

#3. Rap Devalues Black America

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While a tad bit of verity does exist, as a whole, the claim that rap devalues the modern black American should do nothing but tell you the individual you’ve just wasted your time listening to has ignored the duty of backing up their opinion with actual fact. This opinion may then be deemed worthless.

To be fair, most individuals who hold the opinion that rap devalues the black community here in America may simply be ignorant of most of the benefits hip-hop has brought over the years. Even ignoring the fact that hip-hop’s status as the popular genre in recent years has brought some money into otherwise impoverished black areas that might need it, the genre has allowed two entire generations of youth to express honestly about their lives.

What’s that? The person you’ve talked to is trying to point out that “all rap is about guns and bitches and drugs” argument? It’s inevitable my friend, an tactic you simply cannot avoid. However, that does not mean you cannot defuse this claim. Begin by naming a few MC’s that really thrive in earnest lyricism. To really drive the argument home, don’t try and name guys like Atmosphere or Common. Everyone knows these artists for their lyricism, and it’s therefore expected that their verses feature some insane rhymes about deeper subjects. Instead, point out tracks by rappers that often do rhyme about the rap lifestyle, but on occasion drop a really incredible verse. Think RA the Rugged Man’s unstoppable flow on “Uncommon Valor”.

#2. Rap Has Sold Out

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This complaint seems to always arise from the same type of individual: he’s at all the parties, doesn’t realize how superficial his knowledge of the subject is, and always ready to drop some obscure act to show you how awesomely developed his opinion must be, as if number of fans was really a meter on which to judge an act’s musical worth. If this were the indie rock community, this man would be your classic hipster, but here in the world of hip-hop, we’re contented with the label “asshole.”

Anyways, if you come across this claim, there’s really only two routes one could go. To fall on all fours and wallow in the filth with this boar of a human being, try to name an act that’s even more obscure than what he said. This cyclical behavior may not be the most honorable, but you have to admit there’s a certain allure in trying to out-hipster a hipster.

#1. All the songs sound the same

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Frankly, this claim has a partially realistic backing, which makes it quite difficult for us to find a suitable point of attack. After all, hip-hop is an umbrella to many, many different subgenres, each with their own quirks, lyrical patterns, sources for samples material, and messages to convey, but within those genres, there are some very similar songs. To suggest they all sound the same is nothing but an indication that this person has not listened to much of a specific subgenre of rap, and what they have become familiar with is likely whatever is currently popular. After all, most of the Top 100 Billboard rap does sound annoyingly similar.

All you need to do to resolve this claim is play this individual something besides the bland allowance of hip-hop the major labels deem worthy of public consumption. There’s a ton of really interesting, edgy projects insisting on surfacing at the fringes of rap, and with the advent of the internet, it takes very little effort to locate some truly inspiring artists.

Remember when introducing this person to hip-hop beyond the charts, be gentle. Don’t start with Death Grips, choose a beginner level rapper. You know the ones I’m talking about; they’re the ones you got into when you first fell in love with the genre. Spread that love to others, and you’ll no doubt be rewarded with satisfaction of spawning a new fan. After all, that spirit of sharing is how rap to got to the state it’s in today, and if I could state my direct opinion, it’s a damn good state.

Photo credits:

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The 5 Most Insane MC’s That Ever Lived

the 5 most insane rapper mcs ever

There’s a certain allure to the medium of rap that draws those on the fringes of insanity, and you know exactly what I’m talking about. Somehow a well constructed back beat appeals to some deeply buried department of the brain responsible for our raw animal instincts.
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What Does A Gummy Bear Dream?

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Crummy Gummy is a street artist, gummy sculpturer, and an unknowing cult leader. You can visit his site at crummygummy.com. Today we thoroughly interrogate him with a tortuous line of questioning that only an amorphous creature can withstand.
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