Music News and Interviews

Interview with the creators of “8NIGHTS,” a Hanukkah love song: Dafna and Cameron Desnoes

Around a week ago, I was scrolling through the endless void that is TikTok, and came across a video where a girl said she recorded a Hanukkah song with a random guy who direct-messaged her on Instagram. She pleaded “Please blow it up so my mom doesn’t get mad at me for hanging out with strangers I meet on the internet.” The song playing was “8NIGHTS” by Dafna and Cameron Desnoes. I promptly opened my Spotify and streamed it and immediately fell in love. This Hanukkah love song had stolen my heart, and I wanted to interview the creators. I messaged Dafna on Instagram and 24 hours later, Cameron, Dafna, and I were on a Zoom call.

Where are you guys from?

Dafna: I’m from Boulder, Colorado.

Cameron: I’m from Indian Wells, California.

How did you guys meet?

Cameron: Um, so basically I heard one of Dafna’s songs on TikTok and I was like “Oh my god, this is so good. This is amazing.” So I immediately looked for her Instagram in the TikTok bio and I DMed her and I was like “Dude, your music’s so good like blah blah blah,” and she was like giving generic responses and I was like “Hey you know, like if you’re ever… if you ever want to collab sometime here’s my SoundCloud, give it a listen.” And then she listened and then we just started talking about funny things and then long story short found out that she vacations in Palm Desert and she was going to be there when I was there, and that’s like five minutes from me and then it all worked out.

Oh that’s so cool, it’s like the circle of life because I found out about this song from TikTok.

Dafna: TikTok is just bringing us all together, y’know?

What was the inspiration/ where did you get the idea for 8NIGHTS?

Dafna: So, I have always kind of wanted to write a Hanukkah song that wasn’t about like dreidels or something stupid. Because I feel like most Hanukkah songs that I know are always just like… no one really listens to it unless it’s as a joke. So I wanted to make one that was actually something that more people would want to listen to because it’s a song, not just because it’s a funny Hanukkah song. And I think holiday songs are always better as duets which is why I asked Cameron to sing it with me. 

What are you guys’ favorite holiday traditions? 

Dafna: I guess just like being with family. Hanukkah is eight nights, it’s always hard to have all of us there, I have a pretty big family, there’s seven of us, so it’s hard to have all of us there every single night. But having at least one night where we’re all there eating dinner, lighting candles, and then like, that’s pretty much it.

Cameron: Um, kind of similarly, I really love my family, I love being back. I’m the youngest of four and everyone was gone to college and stuff, so especially when I was little it was great to just see everyone all together. And we do stupid events like family olympics where we make up little games or we’d play game nights after dinner and that along with just the idea of the holidays. We’re not the most religious family ever but I love the traditions we have and the presents we give, and getting matching pajamas and stuff like that, that’s what I love. 

Who are your biggest musical inspirations/role models?

Cameron: That’s pretty tough, but I would say I definitely find inspiration from a lot of different types of music. I’d say my favorite artist, and just one that I’ve always loved because of his passion is Bradley Nowell who was the lead singer of Sublime. I really like him, but I don’t know, I… come back to me for my second one, give me a second.

Dafna: I’d have to say Vulfpeck, they’re just my favorite band and I always listen to their music. Their music is fun and it always puts me in a good mood, so probably them. Or Phony Ppl, I just started listening to them too, and they’re more R&B-ish, and I really like them too.

Cameron: Yeah, I’m gonna stick with my first answer.

Do you have any party tricks or weird talents?

Dafna: I can like, creepily close one eye at a time. 

Cameron: My go-to nowadays is a mean stanky leg. I always pretend like I’m cooking up the pot, and I’m like “What’s that smell? What’s that smell? Oh, it’s stank.” Throw out the stanky leg on them every time. 

How did you each get into making music?

Dafna: My parents put me in piano lessons when I was like four, so that kind of like forced the whole music thing on me, but then I really liked it so I just kept doing it.

Cameron: I also was forced to do piano when I was younger but everyone in my family quit. Then I got into a little bit of musical theater and then a capella. And I just loved music so much, I was like “I have to do it,” and my senior project my senior year, was creating a band. Since then I’ve always wanted to be better at making music, which I’m not, which is why it was awesome to collaborate with Dafna because she is a great producer. 

Cameron, from looking at your Spotify this appears to be your first song, is this your first time working on a song, or just the first one you’ve released?

Cameron: So like I was saying, my senior project was a band and I was the head producer and I was definitely not qualified but, I tried to do some stuff and it sounded okay but I wasn’t confident enough to go through the effort of putting it on Spotify so I threw it on SoundCloud. I’ve always tried, the entire summer this summer, I really worked hard on trying to do my own stuff, but I wasn’t yet proficient enough in Logic that I could express what I wanted to sound like. So I guess the only reason why I was able to release this one was because Dafna is very comfortable with that and so I knew that if I was collaborating with someone who was very comfortable with producing, it would be awesome. 

What’s your favorite song right now?

Dafna: The Taylor Swift album that just came out, I’ve been bumping that, and listening to it like every day, it’s so good.

Cameron: “Hell N Back” by Bakar, if you know who that is.

Dafna: There’s also that one song from TikTok, that Cameron, you were talking about yesterday.

Cameron: “Sensitive”?

Dafna: Yeah, that one.

Cameron: *Plays “Sensitive” by Serena Isioma*

Is there anything else you’re working on/ want to promote?

Dafna: I have an EP that’s coming out in late February or early March, the release is not decided yet.

Cameron: Y’know… I’m a loose cannon so get ready.

If you don’t want to wait until February or March to stream Dafna’s other music, you can check out her Spotify. She has two albums out titled “Submerge” and “I LOVE YOU.” Don’t forget to stream “8NIGHTS” which you can find on Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and iTunes. Finally, be sure to keep an eye out for Cameron, he’s a loose cannon after all.



Band/Artist Profile Music News and Interviews

An Interview with Dropping Plates

Dropping Plates (from left to right): Ben Burrows, Forest Britt, Aaron Huntley, and Jake Fain.

Dropping Plates is one of the newest local bands on the scene in Boone, NC. I had the opportunity to have a delightful interview with them this week! Made up of bassist Aaron Huntley, drummer Forest Britt, lead singer/guitarist Jake Fain, and guitarist Ben Burrows, they bring a unique funk-rock sound to the table. Here’s what they have to say:

Q: Tell me about how Dropping Plates started.

Aaron: Me and Forest were roommates last year at App State. I was on Facebook, and I saw that Ben had posted this ad for a drummer and bass player to create a band. I’ve known Ben because I met him through a mutual friend, and we’d jammed in the past before. I recognized him and so I just hit him up and then we jammed. It was perfect.

Q: How would you describe the music you make?

Jake: A mix between Grateful Dead and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Aaron: I know that we like to vibe, we like to jam.

Forest: We like to jam a lot. There’s a lot of instrumental influence, especially guitar solos in all of our music. A lot of our music is from different fields. We’ll have a more rock-like niche feel that’s heavier, but then we’ll also have a lighter poppy feel. We also have songs that are slow and like, just chill. So it kind of depends, but I think ultimately each song does have our individual instrumental influences which ultimately make the band Dropping Plates.

Q: What’s the story behind the name “Dropping Plates?”

Jake: So basically we were all in a group chat and we were just throwing out names, like we probably had 150 names. I was going through and I picked my top three out or whatever and I sent them to my mom. She’s like a very good outside judge of those things to see, you know, what would draw other people’s attention the most. One of them was Dropping Plates and she picked that one.

Forest: And with the name Dropping Plates, when you hear the sound of a plate dropping and crashing you know what that sound is, right? We feel like that compares to our music. We’re hoping that when you hear our band you know it’s Dropping Plates.

Ben: We were also going to be Dino Trip at first, Dino Trip or Dinosaur Party. And then we were like…”No, Dropping Plates.”

Q: Tell me a little bit about your creative process. How do you guys make music? Where do you draw inspiration from?

Forest: Really, it’s different for every song. They write music on their instruments, and then bring it to the band. Then, when we come together after we work on the songs. Everyone kind of puts their own touch into that song. It just builds until it’s a complete piece. But there’s a lot of times when it’s already a complete thing, but we’re just adding our influences into it and our sounds. For the song “Spun”, I felt like Jake kind of had that song already finished for his guitar part. We all came together and Jake started playing the song, Aaron starts coming up with a baseline, and I’m listening to Aaron play his baseline and I’ll do my drum part. Then we’ll come up with melodic lines over Jake’s guitar part. Jake will just sing, and then we’ll be like, f*** yeah. Maybe we’ll tweak it a little bit for a few songs. There’s a song on our upcoming album called “Wave” and it used to be actually a really fast song that Ben wrote but then we decided to just pull it back and play it slow. Now it’s this really beautiful, slow piece that’s closing the album.

Ben: Yeah, I think all of us have different influences for music, which I think is really cool because then it adds to a melting pot of sorts. Aaron is a lot more into jazz and methodical playing and I’m a lot more feel and rustic type of deal. Jake is like the nice mixture of the two and more Grateful Dead oriented on that point as well. And then Forest, he’s just the feel master of it all. The idea that he has what he has just in his mind I think is very cool. We’re all able to bring our own identities to our music, which is so sick.

Q: Who are your biggest musical role models?

Ben: John Mayer and the Grateful Dead for me are my top two most influential artists.

Forest: For me Hiatus Kaiyote, and specifically the drummer. His drum stuff really influences what I’m doing.

Jake: I’d definitely say just a combination of Jerry Garcia and Trey Anastasio. So, Dead and Phish, just the combination of the two is my biggest inspiration for sure.

Aaron: I listen to a lot of jazz. This guy, Christian Scott, he just has this, like blaring music and it’s really cool. And Flea, obviously, from Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Q: What’s the most useless talent you have?

Forest: I do parkour. Throughout middle school I was really into it and throughout high school I taught parkour classes at a gym. I would say it taught me a lot about working with kids working on yourself physically, but like, ultimately, I can do a backflip. I don’t know how useful that is.

Ben: I work for a conservation group. That’s pretty useful though. I have a really fancy tool that helps me measure water quality and dissolved oxygen and all this stuff. So I basically just put it in the water and I take the data. I can also do a really mean Scooby-Doo impression.

Jake: Oh yeah, we’re also really good at Catan.

Aaron: Super Smash Brothers too, we’re also really good at that. I know a lot of random stuff about animals too. I can play bass and drums at the same time. I use my feet on the drums and I use my hands on the bass.

Jake: I know a dumb amount of random Grateful Dead and Phish facts that I can just impose upon people.

Ben: It’s the most useless skill ever. He’ll just say some s*** that’ll blow your mind and you’re just like, why do you even know that?

Q: Have you guys played any live shows?

Jake: We’ve played four actual shows and then we played a bunch of times for an open mic.

Ben: Our favorite gig was a State though. I actually went to State my first two years. I was in a band, they’re called Friendly Reminder, they’re pretty sick. Check them out. My friends asked me if we wanted to come down and play at some philanthropy thing for their fraternity. We got to do it and it was really, really, really sick. We just played really well. It was a big crowd, but that wasn’t even what made it great. We all felt just felt connected and it was really cool. Which is why we’re sad. We had 15 shows lined up for the last month and a half before COVID, like one to three a week.

Jake: Ultimately, I’d say that we’re like gearing towards trying to become a live band. We still want to do studio stuff, because I actually really enjoyed that more than I thought I would.

Ben: We want to play. This is what we want to do with our lives. We’ll go to any means necessary to do that and get a really cool following. The goal would be to have a cult following that’s super religious to us. I’d like to see the same 50 people at our shows every time.

Q: What are you working on right now? What does the future look like for the band?

Aaron: We got a single coming out soon. We also just dropped our second music video today, “Padlock.”

Forest: And then our album, which has these singles we’ve dropped like “Spun,’ “Padlock,” and this next single, they’re all going to be a part of an album, which I think we’re gonna drop in February. We’re actually also in the process of recording another album too that’ll be released in the summer.

Q: Anything else you want to world to know about Dropping Plates?

Ben: Follow us on Facebook. Subscribe to our YouTube channel. Check out our Spotify. And just come hang. Whenever all the social distancing stuff is over, we’re happy to hang out. We want to meet people and do cool things with music. We already have a community. We’re talking to a lot of other bands right now about playing shows together, and these are bands that are way better than us. It’s cool to recognize that people see our music as a promising thing and that they like our sound. It’s cool to finally realize that all of our hard work is being noticed.

Below is a link to their new music video to “Padlock,” along with their Spotify, Instagram, and Youtube channel. Check ’em out!

Tune in!

– DJ Butter

Music News and Interviews

Edward “Eddie” Lodewijk Van Halen

January 26, 1955 – October 6, 2020

The Colossus of Rhodes was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was a huge statue, measuring 108 feet tall, erected on the Greek island of Rhodes in 280 BC. The actual location of the original statue is disputed today, but one of the opinions on the matter is that the statue straddled the opening to the harbor of Rhodes, a foot on each side. 

I grew up listening to Van Halen with my parents. I have told the story, many times, of riding to kindergarten with my dad, and asking him to play “Little Dreamer,” my favorite at the time. Hearing Eddie play at that young age, helped bring a familiarity to all music that I would hear from then on. The sound of screaming solos and chugging riffs has always been an inviting and welcoming sound to me. In the era in which Eddie played, there were great guitarists. But he turned it up! And turned Rock on its head!

Eddie was born in Amsterdam, Netherlands. His family moved to California and in 1972, he and his brother Alex, founded Van Halen with original bassist Mark Stone and singer David Lee Roth. He may not have invented the “tap style” technique of guitar playing, but he sure did perfect it! More than that, though, he was the perfect expression of one’s instrument becoming an extension of one’s self. With a perpetual grin, Eddie did amazing things, both in the studio and on the stage. 

1974 – 1985: Eddie, Alex, David, and Michael Anthony (bass) delivered raw emotion and talent on Van Halen’s first 5 records, all of which have since been certified multi-platinum – Van Halen, Van Halen II, Women and Children First, Fair Warning, and Diver Down. The sixth record, 1984, was far more commercial than the previous records, but Eddie kept on with the kick ass riffs. 

In 1985 Roth went solo and The Red Rocker, Sammy Hagar, stepped in to vocals and as a second guitarist. The band became even more successful, producing four U.S. number-one, multi-platinum records – 5150 in 1986, OU812 in 1988, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge in 1991, and Balance in 1995. Eddie introduced keyboards on the 1984 album, and carried that through this era as well. These records had a more pop-rock sound, but Eddie kept dealing out the killer guitars. 

1996, Hager leaves the band and Gary Cherone (Extreme) takes vocals for Van Halen III in 1998. He leaves the band in 1999. 

2003, Hagar rejoins for a worldwide tour in 2004, and leaves again in 2005. 

2006, Roth rejoins and Wolfgang Van Halen (Eddies son) takes over on bass. 

2012 sees the release of A Different Kind of Truth and, you guessed it, Eddie kept delivering the guitar mastery. 

The Colossus of Rhodes is the perfect imagery to me, when imagining Eddie within the larger guitar community. He stood like a Colossus with one foot in Rock-n-roll and the other in what would come to be known as Metal. He stood in welcome of travelers journeying to this new form of energy. He was the bridge between the old and the new. There are giants in the land of guitarists. There are metal-gods and titans that traverse here, too. But Eddie was a Colossus that changed the art of shredding forever. With a grin and a swagger, this Colossus stands forever. Rest In Rock, sir. 

Stay Metal,


Music News and Interviews

The Tierra Whack Cinematic Universe

Tierra Whack’s 2018 album Whack World is something of a sample platter: that is, it gives you a taste of everything but leaves you hungry for more. The project is composed of 15 one-minute tracks, each with their own distinct flavor. Of course, the enjoyment of any dish relies on its visual presentation as well, which is why Whack World is best enjoyed while viewing the video that goes with it.

In just 15 minutes Tierra Whack invites the viewer into a bizarre world of cable repairmen (“Cable Guy”), puppet cemeteries (“Pet Cemetery”), 80s fitness trends (“Fruit Salad”) and so much more. Tierra Whack’s visual storytelling is on par with her lyrical storytelling: vibrant colors and set designs are paired with eccentric tales about relationships, loss, and self love. Songs like “Hungry Hippo”, and “Pretty Ugly” showcase her knack for catchy, off-the-wall vocal inflections, while “Sore Loser” reminds us that she is a capable emcee in her own right. My favorite song has got to be “F*ck Off”, which finds Miss Whack singing with a cartoonish affectation: “I hope your a– breaks out in a rash/You remind me of my deadbeat dad.”

I think Tierra Whack’s decision to make each song one minute was very clever – just as you are drawn into the world of one track, it abruptly ends and you are thrust into the next. This is what keeps me coming back to this project time and time again, and why you should check it out for yourself!

Favorite tracks: Cable Guy, Hungry Hippo, Pet Cemetery, Fuck Off, Pretty Ugly

– DJ Mango 

Music News and Interviews

Layers of the Earth Described by Albums

Recently my friends and I had a conversation about what layers of the earth we thought we would be. So, I thought it would be fun to pass on the idea, but with music. So here are five albums that I feel truly represent the layers of the earth. 

Kids by Mac Miller: Crust
First up we have K.I.D.S. by Mac Miller. This album is totally the crust. It’s light, upbeat and like the mountainous terrain of the crust has a wide range of melodies throughout the album. It’s god-tier Mac Miller music, of course, but it also talks a good deal about growing up and changing all while keep a light and upbeat tone throughout the album. 

Play With Fire by L.A. Witch: Asthenosphere 
The asthenosphere is the layer that rests right below the crust and is made basically of magma. It’s hot, but because the magma needs to reach the crust it flows a lot. Just like magma, Play With Fire is hot (I mean they even titled the first song Fire Starter) but it also has some great flow to the songs on the album. What I’m trying to say is, I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw L.A. Witch standing on a piece of cooled magma playing Play With Fire as they rode down the side of a volcano in a river of lava. It’d just be fitting. 

By and By by Caamp: Mantle
The mantle is the largest layer of the earth. It’s incredibly wide and I imagine travelling through it would be comparable to a mid-July day in North Carolina. Hot, humid, and nowhere to go. That’s why I think it’s so fitting that By and By by Caamp would be perfect for this layer. When I think of this album, it reminds me of hot summer nights with friends, sitting outside around a fire with nothing in particular to do but let the time pass by. 

Goosebumps by Boyscott: Outer Core
Honestly this might be my favorite album of all time. Every song on this album is a Certified Bop, and with its dreamlike guitar and echoey lyrics it’s able to have a deeper tone while somehow still staying rather upbeat. In fact, the whole album makes you feel like you’ve astrally projected right into the center up the outer core. 

French Exit by TV Girl: Inner Core 
This is another great album. There is hardly a bad song on here and it’s actually quite similar-sounding to Goosebumps by Boyscott. However, French Exit brings in an older feel for its musical style, with 80s-style synths and movie dialogue throughout the album. In my mind, it is undoubtedly the inner core. 

See you guys next time! <3

-DJ Chippypants 

Music News and Interviews

Vince Staples and the Vicarious Life of the Hip-Hop Fan

With the proliferation of cameras, satellites and other technologies that collect biometric data, it is easier than ever to track the location and behavioral patterns of individuals. The internet has made it possible for millions of people to spy on each other at will through social media and applications like Google Earth. This is the premise for the music video by rapper Vince Staples.

This video was produced as though we are watching through Google Street view, with some shots being stills and others containing movement. It takes place in “Norfy”, California, which is Vince’s nickname for his hometown of northern Long Beach. The camera follows Vince as he passes by other residents who are seen doing a variety of activities. In the end of the video, it is revealed that a teenager identified as “Lucas” has been watching these events unfold from his computer screen – when his name is called, he quickly closes his laptop and leaves the frame.

There are some details about Lucas that shed some light on the intersection of race, class, and the vicarious life of the hip-hop fan. Lucas is portrayed as a teenage white male; based on his room we might assume he is somewhere in the upper-middle class, and based on the “Free Kodak” poster on his wall we can deduce he is a hip-hop fan. Vince Staples knows his audience quite well – though hip-hop is one of the most diverse genres of music, people like Lucas make up a considerable chunk of its demographic. When a genre of music that is rooted in the struggle of an oppressed people is consumed by those who have not experienced that struggle, it becomes commodified as entertainment.

There is an irony in us watching someone watch someone else. To this end, I think “FUN!” serves as a criticism of not only Lucas, but the viewers themselves. After all, are we not spying on Vince as well?

– DJ Mango

Music News and Interviews

My Concert Experiences

Before COVID, one of my favorite activities was seeing bands live. Now that I’m quarantining at home, I’m reflecting on my previous concert experiences. I made this TikTok to rate my different show experiences. I’ve also included a little bit more detail below in case you’re curious.

Mitski: 7/10

I gave this concert a 7/10 because the concert was incredibly cool. Mitski had just put out her third album, “Bury Me At Makeout Creek.” The songs she performed were emotional and it was a great show.

Mac Demarco: 3/10

This show was pretty decent, but while crowd-surfing, Mac Demarco kicked my Dad in the face and knocked off his glasses, which was not great.

Wavves: 1/10

This show was definitely not my favorite, the sound was really off and the band sounded a lot different live. I still enjoy their music but probably wouldn’t see the band live again.

Neutral Milk Hotel: 9/10

This show was part of NMH’s last tour. I really love the band, and their album “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” is a quintessential indie favorite. A truly unforgettable experience.

Cults: 10/10

This was one of my first concerts and one of my best. It was at a venue in Charlotte during Halloween and I was lucky enough to be able to meet the band afterward.

Hope you enjoyed my video and description, let me know if you want to see a part two!

– Miranda

*Disclaimer: these are my own views and experiences, and don’t reflect the views of the WKNC station as a whole.*

Music News and Interviews

DJ Mango’s Vinyl Collection

Hey everyone! Between quarantine keeping everyone at home and moving into a new apartment, I’ve quite a lot of time to arrange my personal space. With so many records gathering dust in the corner of my room, I figured I would put some of my favorites on display! 

Nonagon Infinity by King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

Touted as the world’s first “infinitely looping” album, Nonagon Infinity consists of 9 tracks that seamlessly transition into each other, with the last looping into the first. On top of that it’s a fantastic, proggy psych-rock album with a metal twist. Plus, it’s got a really neat green and black pressing!

Plastic Beach by Gorillaz

This project finds the fictional members of Gorillaz on a tiny island made of plastic, the furthest point from any other landmass in the world, where Murdoc produced the album. It also features some of their best hits like “Stylo”, “On Melancholy Hill” and “Some Kind of Nature”.

Reign in Blood by Slayer

Celebrated as one of the most influential thrash metal albums of all time, Slayer laid the groundwork for generations to come with Reign in Blood. The first Slayer song I ever heard was “Raining Blood” when I played Guitar Hero 3 when I was 12.

What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye

A true classic in every sense of the word. In some ways, I think the times we live in are similar to the times Marvin lived through, such as the Vietnam War and the Watts Riots of 1965. The message of universal love in the face of injustice is just as important today as it was in 1971, when this album was released.

In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel

After hearing this album for the first time, I was shocked to find it was released in 1998. To my ears, its sound is indicative of the 2000’s indie scene, only it came out the decade before. The album’s surreal lyrics and unique aesthetics lead to the immense cult following it now has.

Madvillainy by Madvillain

2004’s Madvillainy found emcee MF DOOM and producer Madlib at the height of their both creativity and evil powers. The result was one of the most unique and influential alternative hip-hop albums of all time.

Back to Black by Amy Winehouse

This album marked a tonal shift for Amy Winehouse: she traded the jazz/neo-soul sensibilities of 2003’s Frank for the doo-wop and classic soul found on Back to Black. It received praise for its dark portrayal of heartbreak and it is always in my rotation.

An Awesome Wave by Alt-J

Alt-J’s 2012 debut is an album that has defined my life since it was released. It’s a project that I find myself coming back to time and time again. Favorites include “Tessellate”, “Breezeblocks” and “Taro”.

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill by Lauryn Hill

This album is considered one of the greatest albums of all time by some, and for good reason. It effortlessly blends hip-hop, neo-soul, reggae, R&B, and soul while exploring themes of love, loss and faith. If you haven’t heard it yet (you’ve had 22 years to do so), please do yourself a favor and put it on. Fans of any genre can find something to love in this album.

That’s all! Do you collect vinyl? If so, what are some favorites from your collection?

– DJ Mango

Music News and Interviews

JPEGMAFIA, Abdu Ali and Gender Nonconformity in Hip-Hop

JPEGMAFIA on the cover of his 2019 release All My Heroes Are Cornballs
Abdu Ali on the cover of their album Fiyah!!!

It is no secret that hip-hop values masculinity. The most popular rappers – even those who are not men – display traditionally masculine traits such as self-reliance, power, and aggressiveness (note I am not saying these traits are necessarily masculine, however, in a historical sense they have been presented as such). However, where there is an established norm there will undoubtedly be resistance to that norm. In this post, I will be exploring two artists who challenge the established norms of gender within the hip-hop genre.

Since his rise to popularity after the release of Veteran in 2018, JPEGMAFIA has become a favorite for hip-hop bloggers (whom he has no shortage of choice words for). People like to praise his experimental production choices and confrontational lyrics, but I don’t see many talking about the defiance of gender norms within his music. Nowhere is this more apparent than his 2019 release All My Heroes Are Cornballs. Though he makes some of the most aggressive music I’ve ever heard, Peggy appears notably vulnerable on this album. From wearing flowy silk clothing on the album’s cover to adopting a feminine persona in songs like “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot” and “Thot Tactics”, JPEGMAFIA has shown he is unconcerned with traditional constructions of masculinity.

JPEGMAFIA collaborator Abdu Ali is similarly unconcerned with gender conventions. As an unapologetically black and queer artist, they embody the masculine and feminine in a way that is both captivating and memorable. I had the privilege of seeing them live when they opened for Peggy at his 2019 A Tribute to Buttermilk Jesus show in New York. Their stage presence was unmatched – at one point, I remember they entered the crowd and had us all sit down before screaming at the top of our lungs. It was a truly visceral experience.

There you have it. This was by no means an exhaustive list of artists defying gender norms in hip-hop, only a few that I find the most exciting. The fact that even mainstream artists – such as Tyler, the Creator, Young Thug, Princess Nokia, and Lil Uzi Vert – are exploring these themes seems indicative of a shift in the culture, and who knows? Maybe one day we will see the dismantling of gender norms in hip-hop once and for all.

– DJ Mango

Music News and Interviews

Chip’s Guide to Surf Music

King of the Surf Guitar

Quarantine crazies got you down? Do you need a break? A getaway from the humdrum of everyday, normal life? Well here at WKNC we can’t offer you that, but we can offer some great music for when you finally do.

Surf music has always had a special place in my heart. It first arose in California in the early 60s, pioneered by Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. Their music was mostly instrumental with heavily reverbed guitar riffs, made to mimic the sounds of waves crashing on the beach. It is truly a visually descriptive style of music, perfect for transporting your mind to memories of summer. No matter where I am or what time of year it is, those upbeat melodies take me back to visions of cruising down a beach road. Top down, sun in my eyes, the wind rolls through my hair as I hear the waves crash onto white sand beaches. This is a feeling that comes with only a few artists, and I would like to share them here in an attempt to give you the same feeling that I hold so dear.

Miserlou, King of the Surf Guitar, Let’s Go Trippin’ by Dick Dale
Starting off the list hot and heavy, we have the three best songs ever made by Dick Dale. The fast paced intro to Miserlou emulates the chaos felt when a wave takes control of your surfboard as you first drop down. However, the next two songs are much more lighthearted. The female background chorus in King of the Surf Guitar chimes in perfectly with the strong riffs of guitar made throughout the song. Finally, the bouncy melody of Let’s Go Trippin’ is a perfect representative of the fun, upbeat style of Dick Dale’s music style.

Catamaran, Sandy, Ferus Gallery, Don’t You Forget It by Allah-Las
Allah-Las is a fairly old band that’s been producing pretty solid beach music for a while now. Theirs is much more relaxing and laid back than that of the early 60s style while still bringing that same summer feeling. Ferus Gallery is completely instrumental and probably the most reflective of their style of music, however the background harmonies on Catamaran and Sandy are unmatched.

Sol Del Sur (EP) by Surf Room
This EP by the band Surf Room represents a good transition of the surf music genre to surf rock, which is a little heavier but still captures the same energy given off by surf music. Sol Del Sur has a great rhythm and is by far my favorite song on the EP, however Summer’s Here is another great representation of the lighthearted, fun kind of music that makes up surf rock. 

Other great honorable mentions: Surf Rider (LP Version) by The Lively Ones, California Sun by The Rivieras, He’s a Doll by The Honey’s, Golden Earrings by The Hunters, and Bustin’ Surfboards by The Tornadoes.