Get Refreshed: February ‘22

“Get Refreshed” is a monthly column by Billy Bugara covering all things digital in the music world.

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ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh yung lean tik tok

Okay so, usually (usually) I try and stay out of discourse like this. I did write a pretty lengthy piece nearly a year ago now on the topic of “gatekeeping” for Gum’s Halcyon.txt zine – which should be out sometime soon believe it or not. It sums up my thoughts about the matter pretty abstractly, but I wanted the article to highlight why gatekeeping occurs in the first place, which circumstances its occurrences are valid in, and most centrally here, the ways we can navigate around it. I’m only bringing this up now to say that… honestly… that’s as O P I N I O N A T E D as you’re gonna see me get for a while. And that was a year ago, even; I’ve become even more jaded towards the idea of participating in these types of discussions in any public sphere since then. 

That being said, when it comes to the most formative artist of my life, I feel like I HAVE to say something. I recently tweeted out a response to the crowd of people who were mad about Yung Lean’s seminal track “Ginseng Strip 2002” resurfacing as a trend on Tik Tok nearly 10 entire years after its release. In said response, I called them the “worst kind of people” for being mad at this. Let me just be straight (lol): I might’ve jumped the gun. Why? Well… it’s not as though I don’t still hold that opinion to some extent – I honestly still believe that there’s almost nothing wrong with Lean’s iconic early work being introduced to thousands, even millions of new listeners. But therein lies the “almost”. I didn’t think about the “almost”.

Sure, people might be gatekeeping for the simple fact that “THERE CAN BE NO YUNG LEAN FANS EXCEPT FOR THE TRUE OGs” – those people are still, in fact, the worst kinds of people. But there is another side to this social media fiasco that I just simply failed to even consider. And to be honest, I’m really stupid for not thinking about it at the time, because it’s the central point of concern in that very same upcoming article for Halcyon.txt that I mentioned before. That notion goes as follows: when cultural artifacts like this reemerge for younger generations, our heightened levels of Internet-infused laziness start to reveal themselves more and more. We might see something we haven’t heard of arise as a new trend, and instead of doing research on what exactly that item is, we take it for what it is in that same moment and leave it at that. In that article, I focus on our immense misunderstanding of the history of dance music: its POC roots, the nuances of its various styles and genres alike, and much more. There also exists a new misunderstanding of Lean’s extensive, exceptionally important history now that this trend is happening. 

That sucks. It does. But it’s not any of our faults? Again, I still think that the more Lean’s work gets spread around and lands on more young ears, the more chances there are for these people to actually DO the brief research and further understand who this artist is and why they’re as loved as they are. The problem, though, is that practically no one seems to do this. As I just stated, that’s a pressing issue on the Web today – for both young and old generations, honestly. More so young than old, but you get my point; we’re too accustomed to living in the moment and accepting art and culture as mere blips in history that can be recycled and reformed whenever they want. That’s almost frightening to think about, yet we’re seeing it happen day by day, trend after trend, Tik Tok after Tik Tok. It’s not even just Tik Tok, but to say this platform has become the poster-child for this behavior is almost too obvious to point out. 

So let me end by just saying this: I understand the need for gatekeeping in this respect. I really, really do. However, it has always been a core incentive of mine to educate in the quest for change rather than hide knowledge. The latter action accomplishes nothing in the long term, as far as we’re aware of to this point. The former has, and always will do so if given the right amount of extensive effort from a mass amount of passionate individuals. I think I’ll always hold that belief, and it stands true in the case of Lean here. Be upset if you want, I totally get it. But just remember that a world full of people turning up to his music with at least some surface-level knowledge of him is better than no one listening at all. Or maybe it’s not for some of you. In that case… idk I guess you’re just kinda built like that.


kyenn: “boosterpack”

I almost totaled my car the first time I heard kyenn. I can’t exactly remember who first sent their work to me, I just know it was either Zeke or Dolly – two of their most frequent collaborators, fittingly enough. Regardless, I can recall driving to the store in awful Boston traffic on that fateful day, my naive self just thinking this private link would contain some sort of “normal” experience. But the minute I heard kyenn’s irreplicable delivery – its thunderous energy, its appetite for carnage – I turned into an entirely different person. What was supposed to be a relaxing Sunday Drive turned into Talledega, and I almost paid the price for it. Honestly though, who could say it wouldn’t have been worth it? 

PlanetZero’s bringer of chaos just dropped their first mixtape of 2022. TL;DR, it makes me want to crash not only my own car, but every single motorized vehicle located in the Greater Boston area. I just don’t know how to eloquently state how much I love what Kyenn has been able to do up to this point in their career. It’s just astounding to me… their style on the mic takes a wrecking ball to normalcy, even in regards to mainstream hip-hop’s increasingly outlandish state as it stands today. Yet despite their flow being thrown about and spread all over, it still holds structure, and it hones that structure for something so much greater. It becomes that much more captivating and downright memorable for that reason, and this tape benefits from that more so than anything else it has to offer. 

That isn’t to say its complementary elements fail to live up to Kyenn’s own theatrics. Its production is spotless, but the furthest thing from “clean.” These beats are rugged and filthy in all the best ways imaginable; they take what past collaborators like dltzk and d0llywood1 were able to craft out for kyenn and build upon their collective precedents. Of those two, only Dolly is featured here, but all the new faces on this tracklist go above and beyond in the quest to cement Kyenn’s one-of-a-kind beat selection. All of these facets combine to create an exhilarating experience… nothing more and nothing less. If 2022 wants to favor the next step of chaotic hip-hop moving forward, then this project sets Kyenn up for a remarkable year to come.


Chao Gardem Is Here To Stay

Chao Gardem (yes, spelled with an “m”) is a revolution waiting to happen. Or, maybe it’s just the embodiment of a revolution that’s already happening – a dance (dance) revolution, if you will. MANAPOOL and Dani Rev’s newfound collective is a one-stop hub for the resurgence of contemporary dance as we have come to observe it. And just because the collective itself is fairly new, that does not mean said researgence began yesterday or something, not in the slightest. The re-emergence of styles like trance, jungle, house, and a whole host of others has been occurring for quite a long time now via the Internet, and the acts that have been featured on this page are just a few of its progenitors. If you’re not looking in the direction of prominent faces of this movement like Dirty Bird and Dazegxd, for example, you’re probably looking in their direction  and for good reason. 

Multiple volumes of their “TRANCE TUESDAYS” and “JUNGLE SUNDAYS” compilations have already served as ideal examples of all that I’ve been saying here. But just take a look at their recent 25-minute trance mix by Virtual Dating 101 in itself; it tells the whole tale in one fell swoop. “ ” is a collection of trance offerings spanning from Web icons like DV-i and VOLANT to ETERNAL CLASSICS like “Castles In The Sky” and “I Kiss Your Lips.” Following suit with those aforementioned subgenre compilations, it acts as this crystal clear declaration that these styles have been on a steady rise for some time now, and are not stopping any time soon. That’s why Chao Gardem is so important, for one, and just amazing all the same.


GOOP HOUSE VOLUME SIX

Let’s talk about this idea of “putting people on” through the sheer power of the World Wide Web and its ties to modern music. Maybe you’d do that by starting a collective and featuring as many different collaborative acts as you can; maybe you just overtly co-sign a lot of people on platforms like Twitter and what not; maybe you just pull a Dani Kiyoko and repost literally every single good song that exists on SoundCloud each and every day. Whichever way you go, your efforts will pale in comparison to noted Niche Internet Mi- (not finishing that) Shirin’s GOOP HOUSE community and their now 6-Volume compilation series. 

GOOP HOUSE is a Discord community aimed to function as an equal-parts art/music hub as a place for people to interact with each other and foster friendships and potential collaborations alike. It’s not just some server that people go to with the goal of fucking around all day (although there is a lot of Fucking Around happening nonetheless) – it’s so much more than that. Shirin was able to develop a community with a future-sighted incentive about them; this is a place that features artists from all levels of musical and artistic prominence all coming together to collaborate, learn from each other, and just have so much fun in the process. It just so happens that many of these acts are paving the way for the next era of Internet music to come. 

Their latest and greatest compilation project tells this story through 116 tracks spanning nearly 6 hours. Again… it doesn’t matter what you do to “put people on,” Shirin has you beat here. I really don’t know how he was able to conceptualize and carry out 6 entire projects of this stature. Like, it was hard enough for me to even manage my d*riacore compilation last year, and that was just a fraction of what these comps have in store. It’s beyond impressive, and so too is the music itself. You have acts as big as SEBii and gupi sharing the stage with a cavalcade of artists you’ll more than likely know of within the coming year or so. It’s just the best thing ever, this GOOP HOUSE… and we all owe it to Shirin for being a remarkable example of how community always comes first when crafting the subsequent vision of music to come.


ericdoa: “sad4whattt”

Yeah… this one is gonna get a little sappy. But come on, a single by eric fucking doa debuting in the hottest show on streaming today is downright incredible. It’s incredible for so, so many reasons – literally way too many to list off in a moment’s notice. I’ll let others continue to dive deep into those very reasons as they are; this track means something so different to me than I think anyone else does. 

Eric has forever been an artist who I’ve had the utmost faith in, but really didn’t need to at all. People who hold as much strong will as they do are meant to reach the highest mantles of success one could imagine. Their choice of success just happened to be pop music – and I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, there is NOBODY at Eric’s current level who better embodies the essence of a tried and true “popstar” than them. Nobody. So in that respect, this track’s placement on Euphoria is unsurprising, yet still outstanding all the same. 

But it’s how the track sounds that puts my admiration for Eric over the moon. In an age of pop conformity – once-wholly original acts shifting their styles to fit a certain trend/movement – Eric continues to carry the same mantle he began all the way back in 2018. I personally don’t see many issues with pop conformity at all, by the way. As long as it’s not done in an insincere and/or appropriated manner. That being said, seeing Eric land on the social world’s most popular show right now with a style of pop so firmly ingrained in the roots of 2019-2020 SoundCloud is just… insane. It’s just so amazing, I couldn’t be more proud of them for reinforcing what has always made them special on such an immense scale. That spirit made them special in 2018, it makes them special now, and it will continue to make them as special as any other pop act working moving into the future.


S/O TTN MUSIC AND GIVE JERSEY CLUB MUSIC THE RESPECT IT DESERVES

Words by @billdifferen

If you’re on the internet in 2022 (I mean how you are reading this….on a stone tablet?), there’s a very likely chance your ears have been graced by at least one Jersey Club tune somewhere. This mammoth of a regional genre has gone hand-in-hand with internet virality ever since the days of Vine and Musical.ly, where tunes were just blowing up on a regular basis, giving outsiders a glimpse into the iconic club culture that was started in Newark around 20 years ago (Even goes further back as well into the late 80s!). Since then, the sound from Newark has spread across the US to a few distinct places. Whether they’re shakin that shii in Philly (Shout out the DollarBoyz!),  stickin’ from the 954, or clutchin’ in the 305, the unique club sound from Jersey has had great influence on other cities. Today, TikTok’s influence on club music is astronomical, where it seems like there’s a new song getting popular on there daily. In the past year, emerging club producers like rrodney, Mcvertt, and RetroJ, among many others, have run rampant on the popular app. While the Tiktoks containing those songs get 10s of thousands of likes, I always feel like the producers themselves don’t get enough love for their tunes.

One thing about Jersey and its culture that I find so beautiful is the sense of community in these spaces. Since its infancy,  producer/dancer crews have played such an important role in the advancement of club music, where groups of like-minded artists have fed off each other’s energies for decades now. Dating back to club pioneers DJ Tameil, DJ Tim Dolla, and Mike V forming one of the first crews, the iconic Brick Bandits, crews have stayed being a unique part of the culture. While the Jersey genius has always remained present, the original party-filled sound has morphed into a bassier, faster, and more chaotic version of itself in the last couple of years, ushering in a new generation of Jersey Club. Today, there’s so many groups in Jersey doing their part here, making club music one of the most compelling music scenes in the entire WORLD: you got folks like Maijin Krew, HBK, 6GvDz, Anthem Gxdz, Lab Sisterz,  Lab Brothers, and many more blessing the planet daily with some of the most insane music you can hear today.  But, out of everyone in the club scene, I think the one crew who encapsulates how forward-thinking and future-sounding club music is today is the mighty TTN Music. 

TTN (Team To Nice) Music was founded in the mid 2010s by Jersey club veteran JDUB, among a few others, but made a huge resurgence in 2020 with its current lineup, where today, I see it as the Jersey Club All-Star Team! Going off of their IG page, you have CEO’s JDUB, HazeGuzmxn, Bxngz, and ReeOnaBeat, all experienced figures of the scene, leading the group. From there, you have other incredible producers like SteezTheProducer, Mg_Burto, ca1eb, qua, vondtb, Vivid the Producer, and KeemTheProducer rounding out the rest of the crew. If you’re in the know, that’s a damn good lineup of producers who are making some of the best tunes today. Out of everyone in TTN, the 3-headed monster of Steez, Haze, and Bxngz has been pushing Jersey Club into new and uncharted territories these past few years. Before I even explain myself, I will just tell you to first listen to these 2 collabs between the 3 called “Let’s Fight” and “All About The Benjamins Baby.” If your face isn’t melted or rearranged after those, then you either didn’t have it loud enough or you need to clean your ears, because THIS is what I love about modern club music: producers are making shit that you can barely even fathom – it’s mindblowing. That hazy, in-your-face production style, riddled with numerous drowned-out samples that feels like a scavenger hunt to decipher their origin, has been one of the biggest distinguishing qualities of these young virtuosos lately. 

Starting with Steez, I believe that this dude is the G.O.A.T of all club music right now, and it has been that way since he dropped Sounds of Majin back in 2019. He’s really one of the main movers of modern club music, as whatever Steez does, a majority of the scene follows – I could go on and on for hours about he’s one of the greatest ever, but all I can tell you now is to seriously go through all 207 tracks of his incredible library, as this should be required listening for anyone trying to learn about club music. He’s even already put out the album of the year so far with ’22 Album, an experience that gets better and better the more you listen to it; like seriously, I’ll put it on, and hear something new every single listen. The level of intricacy in his music is insane. I was just listening to his last released song, which is this ridiculous flip of the Zoey 101 theme that is just as absurd as the concept sounds, and I saw this comment that said “we be tuned into steez like he a mainstream artist,”and that is so true. Steez is such a popular and prominent force in this current club world that everyone loves, and it’s very clear that he’s not stopping anytime soon – put respect on his name.

As for Haze, there are some days that I think he’s not of this planet. It’s always a toss-up between him and Steez, when people ask me who my favorite club producer is. Haze takes that hazy (hehe) sound and turns it to 11, to the point where it’s almost suffocating at times – look at something like “Kim Possible” or “San Andreas”: It’s like he grabbed a copy of Fruity Loops or Acid Pro off of a spaceship or something. Out of everyone in the club scene, Haze is absolutely the most inventive and ahead-of-the-curve right now. He’s moving club music into the far beyond, as his music seriously breaks my brain sometimes but in the coolest way possible. You just have to listen to it. My descriptions can’t even do it justice. He’s seriously one of the best. Lastly, of those 3, I feel like Bxngz does not get enough love. Despite being more well-known for the “HE’S VALIDDDD” Tiktok dance trend using his “wish you well” remix, Bxngz makes some of the craziest and most left-field club music out of anyone today. That sound is perfectly shown in his last tape commemorating his birthday back in December, where he makes some of the most unique club music I have ever heard here. That mysteriously hazy style is prevalent, but there are these uniquely complex textures in Bxngz’s tunes that are absolutely mesmerizing. Take something like the Weezy flip “Fire Man” or “Fighters Ready 2”: Bxngz’s sound always feels like you’re being swallowed up by a thick cloud of smoke that is constantly evolving, where you can’t even get a moment to breathe.Couple that with bass that makes your ceiling violently collapse on you, and you have another genius making otherworldly club music. These guys are really making sounds ahead of our time, and it’s incredible to witness.

I always wanted to give that hazily aggressive style of Jersey Club a different name, but a few days ago on an IG live, Majin Krew CEO Ayoo Lyve described Steez and others’ music perfectly by calling it “Heavy Metal Club Music,” and man…. Lyve is a genius (also another producer you should check out!). Obviously Steez, Haze, and Bxngz’s influence is apparent in the scene right now, as former disciples and TTN members Burto, qua, and ca1eb are now making names for themselves, adding more calamity into the club world, and my god is it so good… First off, Burto is THE ONE to watch this year in all of club music. One of the breakout producers of 2021, the Miami native has the total package: chops for days, comedy skits, insanely absurd sampling, and absolute unbridled chaos. Every song of his feels like Godzilla ravishing through your entire town – it’s so aggressive and loud, and you just want more and more of it. He keeps getting absurdly better with each upload, and just thinking of what Burto will sound like at the end of 2022 terrifies me, and I can’t wait! With his incredible work ethic and confident attitude, this year is Burto’s to lose. Also a Miami native and Burto’s cousin, ca1eb is another agent of chaos in this aggressive club landscape. His growth in 2021 was another marvel to witness throughout the year, as they kept putting out tunes better than the last. Whether it’s putting Big L through the wringer or making this alien-like song, sampling the Wayans classic White Girls, ca1eb’s talent is very very apparent, and he looks like he won’t be slowing down this year. He’s a young producer with incredible loads of potential – keep a lookout for this kid. Lastly, qua…… my god…. Ever since he put out his Black Attire EP in November, qua has just been on a ROLL. He creates some of the most disorienting and dreamy melodies I have ever heard in club music – it seriously feels like looking into the future. On top of the insane melodies, qua’s sample use is ridiculous! He’ll take clips from the intro of Avatar The Last Airbender, random voice snippets from Rockstar’s Bully, or even SZA’s beautiful voice and make it sound like it’s being played from another dimension. It’s INSANE. Like there is seriously nothing like this on Earth right now, and these kids are just getting better and better. Beethoven would faint out of pure fear if he was in a room with these geniuses. Some other TTN essentials that I didn’t want to leave out are Vivid The Producer’s 2021 Album 444, which is a crazy collection of tunes from the Newark native and one of the most underrated producers around, this recent, but absolutely insane Gaga flip from JDUB and KeemTheProducer that I can’t stop thinking about, and lastly, the TTN Music SC page ran by JDUB, where you can get a great look at how the club sound has evolved in the last 5-6 years. On top of that, I feel like my words can’t do it justice with how deep and incredible TTN Music has been, so I made an essential playlist on my SoundCloud showcasing its incredible evolution. You HAVE to go through this; I don’t make the rules here at Lyrical Lemonade – Cole Bennett does I think… (editor’s note from bill… yes he does).

But in all seriousness, Jersey Club music and culture is so unique and deserves so so so so so so so much more respect nowadays. Just because you can throw some bed squeaks and that triplet drum pattern around, doesn’t mean you can just go out and make club music. An appreciation and respect of its history and culture should be a prerequisite before anything. We really don’t need any more Diplos in this world! Seriously, TTN Music is one of the many groups of visionaries contributing to this constantly flourishing culture. Club music is seriously moving in so many different avenues right now, making 2022 potentially the biggest year in Jersey Club’s history, and I am so grateful to be living in this current time to witness it all go down. JerseyClub4Life.