Tiggy, “Two Year Stand”

The last decade has seen a new wave of so-called ‘bedroom  producers’ thanks to technology become more accessible and affordable. This term used to conjure up an image of a sweaty teenage computer nerd eating chips and making beats until 3AM. Fast forward to 2020 and we have exalted bedroom producers to a high ranking in the music community (come to think of it, maybe our symbolic sweaty teenager just grew up and those hours and hours of practising are now a commodity the equivalent of gold?) We have the pleasure of introducing you to one of those valuable bedroom producers named Tiggy.

Tiggy

Tiggy’s single “Two Year Stand” from her upcoming EP Diplomat’s Daughter has an 80’s inspired sound with synth-layers and overdubbed, soaking wet vocals.

The artist is a former cellist, opera singer and now songwriter and producer (why are all the Tonemillers always such multi-talents?) The opera training is evident – Tiggy sings with a truly unique and beautiful voice, performing the track in a breathy and effortless way from start to finish in that gorgeous, dark and mature tone. Perhaps this is what makes the track stand out – the mature tone combined with a playful production – there is an undeniable depth under a forward moving and seriously catchy melody. Your Tonemamas opened our mouths as wide as possible to chant along, “I-I-iiiiiii-i-iiii-iiiii liiii-iiieeed” with our hands in the air (because at this point, we don’t care). The momentous drive and tempo wonderfully emphasize the lyrics of moving on after a two year relationship. It’s always appreciated when an artist manages to give listeners options in how to interpret the song – in this case there’s a surface level of simply vibing along, or a deeper level of commiserating with a fellow broken heart. 

Tiggy, “Two Year Stand”

We cannot wait for the full EP to hear Tiggy’s songs about her life as a diplomat’s daughter, always on the move resulting in childhood stretched over five different countries. We’re glad she’s chosen NYC as her home for now, and will be bringing our masks to the next live show she does!

Best listened to: While commuting. This song is all about motion (literally and metaphorically). Put the song on while you’re walking, bussing, driving or training to get lost in Tiggy’s story. 


Listen for: 3:00- when you think she’s hit peak energy Tiggy introduces a super rhythmic bridge that really pushes the song forward.

Check out Tiggy here

Taylor Pearlstein, “Fool”

The Tonemamas like to think of themselves as independent women and if you liked it you should have put a ring on it (switch to footage of the Tonemamas dancing poorly but confidently to “Single Ladies”).  But listening to Taylor Pearlstein’s indie -pop track “Fool” we had to take a look in the mirror and remove the black leotard and instead admit that we have once (or twice) been the very fool Pearlstein is singing about.

Who is the fool who stars in this song? She is the woman who subscribes to the delusion that her partner has only eyes for her. She is the woman who would rather try and keep herself in the dark than shed light on her partner’s infidelity. She is the woman who tries to make peace with the invisible ‘other’ woman. Pearlstein is astonishingly honest with her transparent lyrics and doesn’t skirt around anything.

Taylor Pearlstein

“Fool” opens with a sultry and sensual beat, and the warmth of the track is further deepened by Pearlstein’s own silky vocals. The song moves surprisingly slow and is not shy in comfortably establishing its own pace. This feels unusual but highly appreciated – Pearlstein is not looking to satisfy the majority of today’s inattentive listeners who lose interest if a hook hasn’t been established by the first 30 seconds. Instead the track feels like a letter written to the collective of women who have once been a “fool”. Each section is taking its sweet time resulting in an unconventional 5 minute duration. It has a meditative effect and consequently serves like a musical endorser to not rush through feelings of conflict. And if you need more incentive to listen to the end – there is a glorious vocal layering that is worth waiting for!

Taylor Pearlstein

Take a listen Tonemillers, and walk with us in the journey of forgiving our inner fools.

Best listened to: Reminiscing about the fool you were in a previous life and discarding anything you’ve kept of the ex who made you a fool (he should have put a ring on it…)

Listen for: 3:23 the aforementioned vocal layering that is hauntingly beautiful and the emotional peak of the song

Follow Taylor Pearlstein here

Comfort Cat ,“I am Married to the Rain”

It’s time for us to get in that long unorganized queue (if you can even call it that) and catch a free ride with the Staten Island ferry to visit Comfort Cat the hooman and Jack, her cat (what can we say, we’re always down for a slice of quirkiness!)

Comfort Cat is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who embodies a comfortable sound and crafts stingy lyrics. The artist’s latest single “I am Married to the Rain” is part of her upcoming album (due to be released in 2021).  And Tonemillers, you know those rare occasions when you get to hear true genuinity? Well, this is a time like that. The combination of vulnerable nakedness mixed with an earnest strength is a formula that doesn’t do well for our little hearts (i.e. it’s molto espressivo)

The phrase “I am married to the rain” is repeated numerous times – first there’s a lovable artistic insanity to it, but then it transforms into a mantra and it all makes sense. It’s meditative – like the sound of rain.

It’s interesting how Comfort Cat plays with dynamics in this recording. She accompanies herself with what she calls a guitarlele (or a six-string tenor ukulele), and a small string ensemble. But even with this small ensemble, she really plays with the volume. She goes between almost whispering to belting out in frustration with her magnificent voice. She sings with such flexibility and heartfeltness, it seems as if her voice rises from endless depths to land like a dust particle in our eye that we wipe away (i.e it’s molto MOLTO espressivo)

Best listened to: Early in the morning when you’re just waking up and you still have one foot in dreamworld. 

Listen for: 1:20 the wonderful, unexpected change of mood in this 2nd verse.

Check out Comfort Cat here

Eternal Sunshine of a Storyteller’s Mind: Michael J. Payton’s Success Story

Our protagonist is Michael J. Payton – an artist, social entrepreneur and filmmaker from Oakland, California. Our hero is Irv Gotti. Our plot is centered around a passion project-turned-major-music-documentary-deal. In 2018 Payton released an unauthorized self-made mini documentary chronicling the fascinating story of Gotti and his rise from nothing into founding the multi-million dollar record label Murder Inc. (producing legends like Ashanti and Ja Rule). And then an insane twist of fate – while Payton is rushing to California to bury his beloved mother his phone blows up hours after the funeral with an influx of texts and calls from friends saying, “Irv saw your documentary – he’s looking for you.”

Michael J. Payton (Founder of CSUITEMUSIC)

The story is so remarkable, we invite you to imagine it fully. Imagine yourself putting something proudly into the world  just as something is taken away from your world. Then imagine soon after that devastation of unimaginable proportions, the hero you’ve just made a story about calls you and says: “I saw what you made about me and I want you to work with me.” Can you imagine a day where the ship of your life simultaneously crashes and sinks only to be pulled out of the wreckage and cast into the most unexpected heights of enviable success?

It’s the kind of story that makes you shake your head in wonder at the highs and lows that are thrown into the unsuspecting lives of humans. It’s also the kind of story that Payton himself likes to tell. CSUITEMUSIC, the digital media agency and production company Payton founded, focuses on telling stories that look to empower the Black community and specifically at how “hip-hop culture has transcended beyond the community and leveraged from cultural power into corporate power,” as Payton himself clarifies.

 One particular story that always struck Payton was of the record executive Irv Gotti. Payton was enamored by the rags-to-riches story of Gotti: “He started with nothing and turned passion into an almost billion-dollar business that shifted the way the music industry looks at hip-hop”, Payton tells us, the respect evident in his voice.
“I was fascinated by how they took the street aesthetic and made it into a corporate multi-million-dollar business. One of my dreams was to do the actual official documentary of this story.”

But Payton doesn’t subscribe to the notion of waiting for dreams to happen. With nothing but an intense interest and public resources, he read every book and watched every interview of Irv Gotti and Murder Inc. Piece by piece he started threading a story together, and after three years he released the documentary on his company’s YouTube channel in 2018.

He was at the time completing his graduate studies at NYU and working on numerous other projects. Yet, once something is dropped into the digital ocean of the internet, it’s potential reach becomes immeasurable. You never know whose story will wash up on the right shore of just the right person at the right time. As Payton had to drop everything mid-semester to fly home in order to be with his family at the time of his mother’s passing, his documentary had found its way into the hands of Gotti who was struck by this articulate and beautiful expression of his life’s work by an unknown filmmaker. Gotti was sold – “Whoever knows Michael Payton. Let him know to reach out to me. Cause I am gonna let him be part of the Big Official Documentary,” Gotti announces to the world on an Instagram post after watching the documentary. This is the announcement that changed everything for Payton in a second. 

The Instagram post that changed everything

“What is it about this documentary that you think struck Gotti?” we ask Payton.
“I’m a pretty positive guy, I go off things that inspire me,” Payton muses. “I think he was touched by the fact that someone he didn’t know, who is also a fan – would care so much to tell the story in a careful way.”

Murder Inc. and Gotti have had their fair share of bad press with rumors of money laundering that ended up in a full-scale IRS investigation. However Payton wasn’t looking to dwell on the negativity that usually descends into ‘shockumentaries’ as they’re accurately described. 
“I’m not inspired by negativity or gossip,” Payton says. “I’m like, how can we pull out the goodness of a story. I just wanted to tell this amazing story about these Black kids from the hood in New York.  They had nothing, they literally just had their raw talent that turned into a multimillion dollar thing and literally shifted our culture as we know it.”

Soon after Gotti’s Instagram post, Payton found himself strolling the halls of Atlantic Records with the label’s president and Gotti himself – the kind of company young creators can only dream of. Gotti handed full creative control over to Payton, who is currently now the director, executive producer and writer for the official Murder Inc documentary pending release.

Payton’s talent for crafting stories about the intersection between music, society and politics is undeniable but more than that – he is a sincerely hopeful human. The genuine positivity that seems to run through his veins is nothing short of inspiring, and so your Tonemamas finished the interview by asking what his secret was for sustaining that positivity in a world that seems to prefer speaking the language of pessimists. 
“You literally have a choice,” Payton laughs. “You can choose how to look at things and that’s storytelling – we give things significance in how we choose to tell the story.”

Your Tonemamas have heard some astonishing stories in their lifetime but this is one we would truly like to buy the film rights of (Michael, hit us up when you’re ready to make a documentary about your life, we’re ready for you! #tonemamasgointofilm)

Follow Michael J. Payton here

Ximone, “Jelly Shooter”

Tonemillers, pour yourself a little somethin’ somethin’ because we’re about to take you into the glorious universe of being very much not sober. 24-year old NYC-based Ximone has crafted a boozy guitar ballad (“Jello Shooter”) which feels like a serenade, but instead of Prince Charming waiting below the balcony it’s a jello shot (a much-appreciated rewriting of that old fairytale some may argue.)

Ximone

This alternative pop and R&B artist has an education in audio engineering, and yet the track is left unmastered and raw (a choice we love). The track comes from an accumulation of demo tapes compiled into a second EP called Ximone + Rejects, and if “Jello Shooter’ is a reject, then we can’t even begin to imagine what the non-rejects sound like!

The lazy, reverb-laden guitar has only the echo of the strikes serving as a breezy rhythmic accompaniment. Ximone’s vocals float effortlessly over the guitar providing a delightful mix of huskiness and velvetness. The minimal arrangement is perfection. It is reminiscent of an Amy Winehouse-esque feeling where the style is both old-school and modern with a layer of cheekiness.

The feeling of the track situates the listener right at the end of a long cocktail-filled night where the liver is rather exhausted. The narrator begs for the alcohol to take one final shot to the head pushing them into irreversible drunkenness (hey, quarantine has been tough…#wecanrelate).

Ximone

Best listened to: Wasted in an Uber at 2AM while stuffing down something greasy and reminiscing about a glorious night out (…the Uber driver is not impressed by the stuffing-down-something-greasy and asks you to wait and eat until you’re home. You do not wait. Your rating goes down. You don’t care.)

Listen for: The very end where Ximone layers her vocals and you’ll find your little inebriated head nodding along in tipsy enjoyment.

Follow Ximone here

J and the 9s, “Don’t Think About It”

This is a Romeo and Juliet story set in the underground New York City rock scene. Yes, we know -it sounds like yet another cheesy Shakespeare-set-in-a-modern-day-context by just another highly inspired amateur theater director…but it’s actually true! About five years ago, bandleader/singer/instrumentalist J9 and drummer Chris Beatz were in rivaling rock bands, both trying to own and dominate the NYC scene. And then as in any good movie, the rivaling turned into romance which turned into marriage subsequently establishing what they’re now known as: J and the 9s (and Jack, their recent  newborn addition…say it with us now: “aaaaw”).

You may have noticed that the Tonemamas rarely feature straight up rock n’ roll music (we even call it rock n’ roll because we have no idea what the cool rock kids call it these days…#tonegrannies) But when we heard J and the 9s latest single “Don’t Think About it”, we just couldn’t help ourselves! How can anyone help themselves when listening to this pumping, high energy track with such motivating lyrics empowering listeners to stay out of your own head and live beyond the restrictions of our thoughts. 

The distorted and messy production really underlines the message of not giving a sh*t. You’ll hear similarities to Heart as well as Alanis Morrisette. As you’re rocking away your ears will suddenly be shocked into uttering a “Whaaaat???” because out of nowhere J and the 9’s throw a flute solo in the mix! A flute solo! In a hard hitting rock track! What a way to upset our expectations and mix genres in such creative fashion! We are on board

Listen for: 0:35 as they transition into the chorus and J9s voice goes into full overdrive mode – these guys don’t hold back! 

Best listened to: When there’s something you really want to do, but you’re being held back by fear and you need that extra push!

Check out to J and the 9s HERE!

Mon Repos, “Spiral”

It’s a Tonemill first! Today we’re featuring a purely instrumental track written by intuitive guitarist, Mon Repos called “Spiral”. Originally hailing from Trinidad and Tobago and now based in Brooklyn, this artist creates guitar-based wavey soundscape that ebbs into hip-hop, jazz and reggae and flooows out of soul, afrobeat and jungle. That’s quite a genre-diverse ocean we’ve got there! Who wants to go swimming?

Mon Repos

This track is all about mood and your Tonemamas (and their never-ending imagination) heard the lead guitar as a character. This character is twenty-something wearing loose, brightly patterned clothing that waft in the summer breeze. This character, let’s call them “Dash”, goes with the flow, sees the beauty in all things, doesn’t try to catch life and trap it in a bottle but rather puts the “chill” in “chillax” (yes Tonemillers, we know that word is so 2000 but we’re the Tonemamas and if you roll your eyes at us again we’re grounding you.)

Mon Repos

The repetitive lounge-track goes perfect with a beachy cocktail on a warm summer evening. Maybe it’ll make you feel hopeful, relaxed, effortless and most (and best) of all; cool. So, be inspired by fictional Dash, blast “Spiral” by the nonfictional Mon Repos, and manifest some positive vibes for your 2020 summer!

Best listened to: On a balcony overlooking the New York City skyline while watching the sun set. If you don’t have a balcony, buy one on Amazon.

Listen for this moment: 2:24 the echo of a gliding guitar gets us all excited and gooey (like warm but a melted warm? Anyone? No?….)

Listen here

Ess See – “Overdrive”

Tonemillers, brace yourselves… You’re about to discover your new favorite artist! Allow us to kindly introduce you to Ess See…a Brooklyn-based producer, singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, video-editor, you know – a super-duper-multi-talented queen of all trades (no Jacks in the house here).

 

Ess See

About a month ago Ess See released her first fully self-produced song “Overdrive” (can we get an applause for self-produced!) Ess See describes the song as a love song for anyone who knows deep heartache. And if you don’t know deep heartache, the song will make you deeply familiar with it (in the best possible way). With a voice sounding like Cyndi Lauper-meet- Lana Del Rey, Ess See performs a perfect mix of vulnerability and passion. The performance is of such genuine realness that your Tonemamas felt their little tone hearts get moved to tears while also simultaneously wanting to break out in deeply expressive contemporary dance (we have a lot of feelings, okay?!?!)

With shows like Stranger Things, the world has undergone a global #throwback to the 80’s with synth soundscapes. Ess See takes this a little further by also treating her voice and drums with heavy reverb, and placing the track in a big-sounding room with a lot of echo. It works. The production progresses fantastically, all the musical elements deliberately placed with artistic precision in order to drive the song’s dynamic forward and keep that passion alive for the entire duration of the track. And Tonemillers… how about how damn CATCHY that hook is?! We happily award Ess See with an A+  for this  marvellous first self-produced glorious hit!

Best listened to: When you’re suddenly in a movie-collage passionately running back/away from/ to a former lover (it’s your life, pick what’s appropriate!)

Listen for: 2:56, such a great chorus!

Check out Ess See here

Beatboxing: The Fifth Element of Hip-Hop with AirLoom Beats

Happy Wednesday Tonemilers! Today we want to tell you about last week, when your Tonemamas sat down in front of a computer to meet up with Arabelle – the Jersey-girl with a big interest in musical theater who somehow ended up becoming a working, living, breathing beatboxer!

AirLoom Beats

We are sitting with upright postures like two students ready to absorb everything and to get a peak into a community we know little about. How does one get into beatboxing? At what point in her life did she choose this as her instrument? We ask the artist to set the scene and explain how she went from Arabelle to AirLoom Beats. 
“I had no idea I was gonna become a beatboxer. In highschool I loved to sing and I loved the theater so I spent my time participating in plays and chorus. When I graduated I decided to go to college for liberal arts instead of the conservatory, I wanted to keep my choices open. I knew that at Rutgers University’s liberal arts program I could participate in plays and do all the things I love simultaneously.”

She goes on to tell us that it was actually in the acapella scene that her life took a turn and she discovered beatboxing. She explains she auditioned for four of the acapella groups on campus. She was hoping to get into the mixed gender groups, but had only been accepted by an all-female group called Shockwave. She describes this as a serious blessing:
“You know how things happen in your life and they don’t happen the way you want them to? Well in that moment I really wanted to be in the superstar groups, they had the best arrangements and it sounded so great! But they already had really strong male beatboxers, so had I gotten in there I would’ve never started beatboxing! In the female acapella group there was a need for a beatboxer.” 

Destiny is a sneaky bitch isn’t she Tonemillers? AirLoom goes on to tell us that as a singer in the acapella groups she had projected too loudly (she is a theater gal after all) and eventually the musical director at the time (Asami) had suggested she could be the beatboxer. (Don’t we just love the Asami’s in life?) 
“ I tried it, and ever since that moment, I was hooked.”
She says that this particular acapella group was making an effort to play edgy music, they wanted to push themselves to do something that wasn’t traditionally girly. 
“And by the way beatboxing is not ‘girly’ at all, there’s a lot of mouth sounds that are not ladylike,” AirLoom laughs. “A lot of saliva going around….But that’s the fun part of beatboxing! You can be super silly, you can create  whatever flow that just manifests and just wants to appear in whatever moment you’re existing in, it’s freedom!”

A little surprised and moved by this sudden change of depth we start to understand that beatboxing to AirLoom means a lot more than just some cool, impressive fast mouth-sounds (not that that’s how we saw beatboxing before this interview…)


AirLoom Beats

“Had I gone to the conservatory I would’ve never known there was a thing like beatboxing and that I was REALLY GOOD AT IT!!!” she says super excited.
But hold on a minute, how did she actually learn to beatbox? In addition to listening to a lot of drums and trying to emulate the sounds she also got expert education:
“When I got assigned the part I got a literal ten minute lesson with the senior beatboxer, here I’ll give it to you.” So yes ‘millers, your Tonemama’s have had their first beatboxing lesson and we can proudly recite that the three basic sounds are all contained in the sentence “BooTs and Cats”. She continues: “From here it is wherever you take it, it’s the most beautiful thing about beatboxing. What represents me culturally is different from you! When you hear a beatboxer from Bulgaria she’s gonna sound much different than the beatboxer that’s from India or Japan”  

“A lot of beautiful relationships happen within this global community, and within the national community because it starts on a local level and I’m really fortunate to be here in New! York! City!  Which is not only the birthplace of beatboxing as we know it! It’s also the birthplace of hip-hop (!!!) and I get to be here and I get to participate in the beatboxing culture that exists here in NYC but also the larger hip hop community that lives here which is  a growing thriving community that came from the Bronx and Harlem – in fact happy birthday to hip-hop that was August 11th!”

What do you mean hip-hop has a birthday? How is a genre born? (Except cool jazz of course, we all know the birth of the cool.. But not the birth of the hippity hop?)

Arabelle takes a deep breath and takes us through the history of hip-hop in an energetic and passionate way. We know our Tonemillers are busy people so let us give you the condensed version of her condensed version. (And by the way, in case you’re on this blog looking for sources for your history school paper about the Bronx in the 70’s, don’t use this as your only source – be an internet explorer!) 

“Early 70s New York City.. it’s a smokey somber scene in a black and white movie. Time Square was not all tourists and Broadway shows. In the Bronx they’re experiencing a lot of men going away to prison. If the women aren’t participating in drugs they’re working double to support their family. The result is a whole bunch of lost boys and girls that don’t have anybody to pay attention to them or guide them. They’re basically figuring it out on their own in the streets of New York City.” Arabelle takes a dramatic pause (Yes…she definitely has a theater background!) 

“There was a gang called the Ace of Spades. Eventually some leaders of the gang begin to realize that the lifestyle has to end, either you die or you end up in prison, it makes no sense. All of the lost boys and girls are having their own gang wars and long story short a whole bunch of 13 year olds start killing each other,” she says bluntly. 
“But then,” she continues with hope in her voice, “then the gang leaders realized that if we come together and talk about our issues and listen and if we get the community involved perhaps we can find solutions and come to understandings rather than killing each other. They decided they needed gatherings so people on the block could know and support each other so they would throw parties where they would mix in the Jamaican MC culture. So 11th of August, 1973 DJ Kool Herc threw a back-to-school jam at 1520 Sedwick Avenue in the Bronx and that, ladies and gentlemen, is when hip-hop was born.”

She goes on explaining that they would throw rap battles as an environment for people to voice their issues with other people. “It was about problem solving! Communication! Not just about being the best – though of course for a lot of people it was about that as well!” she laughs. 
This was at the same time when the Kung Fu movies were huge and that Bruce Lee is actually credited as one of the major influencers of breakdancing. (Mind blown!)

The interview has now turned into a lesson in hip hop and your Tonemamas can’t help but roll with it because we are so happy for all this valuable information! So when AirLoom goes on to tell us about the five elements of hip-hop we are still sitting as the eager students we were an hour ago.

“You have: 1. The MC who is the rapper, 2. Breaking, i.e. the dance form, 3. The DJ, 4. Graffiti and 5. The Beatboxer. Beatboxing was basically created in the spirit of the show must go on,” Arabelle laughs. “If the DJ were having tech issues the beatboxer could step in. But beatboxing also managed to take hip-hop to the street! 

AirLoom continues:
“In addition to these four elements, KRS-one, a real woke and amazing rapper listed the four principles of hip-hop: Love, Peace, Unity and Having Fun! I’m a little radical for thinking this, but I believe that if it’s not at least one of these things it’s not hip-hop.”
This fascinating lesson goes on with her explaining that to be hip means to be in the know and hop means a jump forward:
“Hip-hop is the conscious movement forward. If your music is not consciously moving the community forward it cannot be considered hip-hop.”

We ask her how she is implementing this statement in her own music. How is she moving the community forward? 
“I’m trying to represent a female voice in beatboxing. Beatboxing really connects you to you. To your body. Your steadiness, Your own drum. It makes me genuinely happy. It’s like a self-soother. I can make myself endlessly happy by making a reggaeton beat. I create something within me that I appreciate so much and it’s like a feeling of self-love. And not a single person can take it away from me.”

Follow AirLoom Beats here!

Young Lyonne, “Black Boy Joy”

Queens, we keep coming back to you. Last week we featured Andrew Lane, and today we want to showcase another gem from this royal borough of New York City: Young Lyonne, presenting, “Black Boy Joy”.

The track opens with a light and summery feel while Young Lyonne conceptualizes “black boy joy” to us over an easy melody. What is “black boy joy”? In the effortlessly smooth and memorable hook, Young Lyonne seems to suggest it consists of a multitude of things including: the confrontation of choice(“I got a choice to be like/ I ain’t got no choice”), mental health (“self-employed by my inner voice”), and identifying and eliminating threats to that joy by not messing with “Becky” (“Becky” – a name the internet has collectively decided to use as a trademark for the product of problematic whiteness). There is a lot of substance from the get go, and it’s easy to miss the gravity of the lyrics over the production which bops along in a friendly manner. 

Young Lyonne

However, the gravity becomes more difficult to ignore in the verse. Young Lyonne crafts undeniably compelling lyrics that cleverly weave in and out of word plays while lamenting what it means to be Black in the United States, “Vacay in AmeriKKK got overrated when I was nearly killed in LA/ Oh my what a shame”. And yet that merry backtrack continues. As the listener settles into the song it seems to be very intentional – there is a conflict between the depth of the lyrics and the frivolity of the production. In a way, the production acts like a hastily put together band-aid to symbolize how the ugly truths about racism in America are covered up. 

Young Lyonne

Inherent in those societal conflicts are the competing narratives for creating one’s own definition of “black boy joy”. Young Lyonne speaks about the desire to make his own rules for himself: “Writin poems in high school/ To me that was cool/ Cuz I wrote the rules”, and immediately countering that with the oppressive narrative that makes autonomous rule-making impossible: “Whoops! Doesn’t matter these they rules,”. And the rules leave no space for joy or any ability to design one’s sense of joy.

Again, the depth and devastation of the lyrics over the bouncy melody line and plucked guitar strings is paradoxical, seeming to ask the listener: what are you going to hear? What do you want to hear?

And then at the 3:30 timestamp, Young Lyonne drastically shifts the entire tone of the song and tells you exactly what he wants you to hear. The jovial and happy-go-lucky backtrack is replaced by a hard-hitting, cutting, sharp-edges production, and Young Lyonne has the last word, which for all the power and theatrical drama evident in the track, your Tonemamas will leave fully for you here below, so that the choice of what to hear is made for you:

“Listen,
Rest in peace to all of the fallen
I’m alive gotta do what i can and
Just wanna take one lil moment
Let racists know that my quarantine was good
Held a meetin’ wit the kings of the hood
Quarantine has been about self empowerment
Taught myself how to daytrade (yall not smart)
Told myself gon figure it out today (yall quitters)
Everyday take ten minutes just to pray (yall satanic)
Back in the day thats how they stopped the rain (you don’t know)”

Best listened to: with zero distraction so as not to miss the hundreds of details in this tightly-packed song

Listen for this moment: 3:30 at the totally unexpected shift in tone/music/drama

Follow Young Lyonne here