About The Cold Cut...

The musings of a teenage audiophile. Indie, Rock, Hip-Hop, Rap, Dance, Dubstep, Garage, Metal... music crosses all boundaries. The Cold Cut is devoted to giving you a taste of what's going on in music at the moment.

About Me

A 17 year old taking his first tentative steps into the world of blogging. In my first year, its been up and down, from the slow first months to a busy time around the one year anniversary.

Writing A Song, Lesson 1: 'Featuring'

A few of the best 'ft.' tracks on rotation in my iTunes:
Richard Ashcroft ft. Coldplay- Bittersweet Symphony
Kanye West ft. Dwele- Flashing Lights
Talib Kweli ft. Kanye West, Mos Def & Jay-Z- Get By (Remix)
Sway ft. Pyrelli- Up Your Speed
Nas ft. will.i.am- Hip Hop Is Dead

In the age of Timbalands, Chris Browns and Kanye Wests, songs are no longer a demonstration of an artist's respective talent, rather a closely fought game of who can get the best names to 'feature' on their track. I challenge you: take a look at your iTunes library and count how many 'ft.'s are present. I wouldn't be surprised if a good 10 to 15 percent of your library was made up of songs with the 'ft.' suffix attached to them.

As weird as this trend is, it hasn't always been this way... whereas in past days guest artists might appear on 1 of the 10+ tracks on a album, now they dominate, with almost half of every hip-hop/RnB album devoted to guest artists and producers. Take a look at Kanye West's 'Graduation' for example, where 5 of the tracks feature guest artists. And, further to this, Kanye has the audacity to leave some contributors unmentioned, such as Daft Punk on the hit-single 'Stronger'. It seems stupid for West to claim that he wrote the 'Harder Better Faster Stronger' sample, don't you think? So in actuality a large proportion of 'Graduation' includes some significant contribution from an outside party.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of this? On the positive side, you could argue that more variety is never a bad thing, and this is evident in a few of the current crop of 'ft.' songs, such as 'Umbrella' and 'Stronger'. However, for the most part, the implications of this new tendency are negative. Just to name a few of the major disadvantages to this developing bias: as the saying goes, 'having too much of something stops it being special'. Well, unsurprisingly, the same thing applies to music: where once guest artists were special, they are now becoming the norm. The success of songs and albums now depends on name-dropping/connections, and some artists are noticeably on autopilot (Chris Brown, for example), relying on the strength of their guest artist/producer to ferry them through each track. And don't even mention Timbaland... 'Shock Value', his latest offering -whilst mostly good- is 17 tracks long, and Timba is only alone for the opening song.


I wasn't too aware of this until albums like 'Shock Value' started cropping up all over the place. It saddens me to say that nowadays when you buy a hip-hop album you rarely get to hear the artist by themselves. Hopefully the genre can obtain a more reasonable balance before albums like 'Shock Value' become commonplace.

I am, however, only one person in a world of billions. So what do you think? Are you aware of this, or do you just take the music for what it is?

5 comments:

  1. Tom said...
     

    I agree-but Kanye has been perpetrating this for awhile. A good example is "Touch The Sky"-ok, it does feature Lupe Fiasco, but the whole beat is a sped-up version of Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up", with an altered bass drum loop. Ok, Mayfield is credited in the album notes, but he makes this song...more so than Fiasco

  2. Anonymous said...
     

    West is a sample producer. Look it up. He never claimed to have written "Harder Better Faster Stronger". He payed Daft Punk to use the sample. Learn something about music.

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