Soundclouds of the Underground: Ahead of the Curve Producers Edition
These days, music truly lives online, with an infinite number of websites dedicated to hosting tunes for the laptop-wielding masses. However, the web’s bottomless pit of blogs isn’t the only place to troll for mp3 treasures—some of the newest and most exciting (Internet-friendly) artists can be sought out via Soundcloud, the online stage that allows musicians to promote and distribute their music to fans and friends across the globe. In this weekly column, expert Internet sleuth Alex Chapman goes into the depths of the music-sharing site, in hopes of shedding light on emerging acts, as well as sharing some digital diamonds in the rough.
Monitoring the trajectory of an artist via the Internet is an interesting activity; you might see them go from 6,000 to 600,000 Soundcloud followers and collaborate with sophisticated producers. We’ve selected three talented producers who’ve worked with (and helped shape) some of today’s biggest acts in their earlier stages.
Nar: “Future Mesh”
Who: A multi-talented, effortlessly cool musician, Nar is respected and revered by many for her sexy, scary sound, which has been implemented on tracks like the gritty Mykki Blanco cut “Cosmic Angel,” and the strip club heater “Stack,” one of rising star Brooke Candy’s first efforts.
The Song: Nar’s ability to switch up current sounds is distinct in its practice, as evidenced by her edit, which combines the M.E.S.H remix of producer Copout’s “Arc” with Future and Kelly Rowland’s ballad “Neva End.” The result is an eerie R&B banger that’s primed for a fogged-up dance party.
Max LeRoy: “June, July, August Girl (Featuring Evan Taubenfeld, Cherry Brown, and Kreayshawn)”
Who: A behind the scenes player who subtly makes incredible tracks, L.A.-based Max Leroy (real name Pat Lukens) made a big impact when he teamed up with TDE’s R&B starlet SZA for her S EP. Lukens had a hand in two of the most memorable cuts, “Ice Moon” and “Wings,” both of which display his ability to capture a soulful, celestial vibe over some particularly powerful drums.
The Song: Max LeRoy is a new moniker—perhaps a way for Lucens to steer left from his past work and do something entirely different such as a pop-funk album full of Prince-sounding synths and happy hooks. “June, July, August Girl” is perhaps the best example—a fun, smooth song about a girl with “looks for days” that, on its last verse, features internet phenom Kreayshawn in top form.
Current Project: Volume 1 of Lukens’ Max LeRoy series was released yesterday. You can check it out here.
Vic Mensa: “Down On My Luck (produced by Stefan Ponce)”
Who: A native of Chicago, Stefan Ponce came up with two of the city’s biggest talents, Vic Mensa and Chance The Rapper, both of whom he worked with before their meteoric rises to relevance. Ponce acted as Mensa’s DJ before touring with Childish Gambino and collaborating on tracks like “Yaphet Kotto” with the actor and artist. Ponce also helped produce the opening track to Chance’s now-iconic Acid Rap.
The Song: “Down On My Luck” is Mensa’s biggest record to date, a rather unexpected direction for the artist, who is best known for rapping circles around hip-hop beats. A clear reflection of the Mensa and Ponce’s recent tour with Disclosure, Ponce’s production is something entirely its own, a fusion of R&B house and future garage, which Mensa tackles smoothly.