Image for post
Image for post

Like the corner cypher on the New York corner that birthed his rhymes in the first place, Kota the Friend’s Lyrics to GO series is a timeless exploration of rap at its most innate self. There is nothing going on but jazz-oriented beats, dynamic bars, and relatable storytelling that come in tow with his freestyle sessions, turned YouTube playlist, eventually turned blooming EP series; and there never needs to be anything added to the mix. It’s rap perfection from one of rap’s most lyrically gifted modern names. …


Image for post
Image for post

2020 was a lot of things. But fuck all of the negativity. So much of the good in 2020 belonged to Nashville. A cultural renaissance in the Music City revolving around a few arenas of art and music turned the Ville into the world’s emerging creative capital to watch. Hip-hop, Neo-Soul and R&B — all of which have strong roots not only in the South, but in Nashville, too — paved the way for their orbiting cultural spheres — fashion, videography, photography, and social statement — to likewise thrive at a communal scale. …


Image for post
Image for post

Prior to this year, there was a certain expectation that came with a lot of things in music: that you could go to a concert just for fun on a whim; that good music didn’t really require a strong underlying meaning; and that Trinidad James put out absolute bangers. One of those things is still true, but Trinidad James, alongside the rest of music is evolving — and evolving for the better and more well-rounded (even if he’s still dropping party anthems left and right). …


Image for post
Image for post

2020 was a year of challenges: a pandemic, racial reckoning, protests, and isolation. But, it was also a year of response to those challenges. Music, as it always is, was there through it all — there to reflect but also to push for change and growth. The best projects of 2020 pushed boundaries musically and socially. Some even reinvented the construct of crafting an album during times of quarantined isolation. And all of the year’s best projects helped define what 2020 ultimately was — a year of coming to terms with our realities; a year of overcoming. This list is…


Image for post
Image for post

2020 was tough. It was hard-fought on multiple fronts from the Covid-19 pandemic to the protests surrounding systemic racism and police brutality; from the isolation of quarantine to overbearing crowds. It was a year of challenges and overcoming the challenges; a year of finding new ways to go about what turned into a new normal. It was simply a hard, albeit ultimately necessary reminder that humanity can change, that it can overcome, and that at the hands of art, music, and culture at large, incredible feats of community and creativity are possible even in the face of more adversity than…


Image for post
Image for post

2020. What else is there to say? From an artistic standpoint, creatives had to find new ways — new ways to make their craft, new ways to reach their audience, new ways to make their points, new ways to reach one another, and new ways to make a difference. And they did. When all else seemed to fail, the artists that we look to for music, for emotional release, for love ballads, for hype anthems, and ultimately for escape, prevailed in the face of adversity. …


Image for post
Image for post

In recent years — with new generations of creatives — there has been a lot of pride in being unique. At a time in history when anyone can make music thanks to studio-quality technology having become affordable, intricate and unique sounds are being crafted from home. At a time in history when anyone can share music thanks to streaming platforms and social media, a crafty emerging artist can develop an entire album from their phone and use the same phone to get others on board. And with so many people so suddenly throwing their work into the hands of a…


Image for post
Image for post

For many, the irregularity of 2020 ensured that a few massive changes made the ideal of ‘new’ something to shy away from. A new pandemic, new quarantine orders, a new way of life without so many of the novelties that charm a usual day-to-day. But for music, ‘new’ found new ways to exist in a year that offered more time and more pain to feel passionate about and inspired by. There were a slew of new projects and albums from young artists and veterans. There continues to be a renaissance of socially motivated music and music culture orbiting the Black…


Image for post
Image for post

Much of this year felt like the end of days. In a calendar fueled by a battle against the pandemic, police brutality, climate change, and ultimately a reckoning with mortality and morality, there was more than an air of apocalyptic undertone fueling the day-to-day life of just about everyone on this planet. And yet, much of the response in the good fights against the bad brought to light a failing of a daze — a lack of clarity — that so many fortunate people had been under for too long. There was no longer any hiding beneath a veil of…


Image for post
Image for post

There was a lot to take in in 2020. A lot of hardship, a lot of pressing social movements, a lot of art, a lot of music, and a lot of their grandiose coalescence in the form of music videos. From far and wide, even under the constraints of quarantine and social distancing, artists continued a renaissance in the music video circuit, weaving dramatic, cinematic work onto the screen to bolster and reinforce their messages and their creative breadth. From the hometown block party anthem, to the ultimate reflection on the difficulty that this year brought into all our lives…

RINGLEADER Magazine

RNGLDR Magazine is a small, independent online blog focusing on the creative worlds of music, fashion, art, design, and photography. For more: www.rngldr.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store