Rock and Roll is revenge, Rock and Roll is your enemy.
Many hip-hop experts and pundits alike have been remarkably puzzled at the overnight success of “Soundcloud rappers” incredible grip and popularity amongst the youth. Rappers and old-heads both have largely hated and diminished the artistic and musical value of this new viral sound, and the parallels this style shares with the punk scene that exploded years ago are widespread and obvious once you search for them.
The music itself is not a lyrical marvel, but a masterpiece of instrumentation and like no other style it has the ability to capture emotion and captivate audiences purely off energy. To see this look no further than the explosion of Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols in the ’60s. Modern rap has taken this same path, and any kid who doesn’t fit in, battles anxiety, or lives to party can find solace and like-mindedness through this style.
Kurt Cobain once even remarked, “Rap is the only vital form of music since Punk Rock,” and I have to agree wholeheartedly.
Big Youth is one of my favorite Nashville artists. His melodies can compete with those of any signed or viral artist, and his music is consistently enthralling to listeners. His new mixtape “PunkMix Vol. 1” not only continues to showcase Youth’s remarkable ability to construct melodies and switch lanes from flow to flow, but also is somewhat of a marvel conceptually.
The constant motif through the project is Rock and Roll, and specifically this punk explosion pioneered by Sid Vicious and continued throughout the ’90s and early 2000s. The first track, “My Way, Sid’s Life,” is in fact a tribute to the rocker, and his most known song, a twisted, awry cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” The emotion both of these styles evoke is staggeringly similar. Both are giant Fuck You’s to authority and the system, and are a perfect synecdoche for the sentiments of young people who are either disadvantaged or downright fuck-ups, but all find a common-ground through the music.
The album is exclusively produced by Nashville up-and-comer Evan G. Over a variety of distorted and hypnotic beats, Big Youth casts his melodies and anger towards society and the establishment with a miscellaneous cast of ad-libs and variation between trancey chants and boom-bap jaunts strikingly similar to the music he made a few years ago.
Potential sums up this project best. The album is chocked full of catchy and entrancing hooks that leave the listener fascinated by the performer and hanging at every bar Youth exudes.
From Percocets to authority, this tape encompasses every problem and issue adolescents take and make for themselves in America today, and this is best encapsulated as Youth chants “Drop out screaming Fuck the School, I’m an educated college major with and emphasis in saying Fuck You.”
Big Youth makes mood music, and for all the angsty teens and confused, misled young adults out there, he has captured the sentiments of all. Big Youth is criminally slept on, and made one of the most surprisingly well mapped out and substantive projects out of Nashville in recent memory.
One listen, and you too, will be a fan of Big Youth.
Remember his name.
You can stream the album here: