Art has long held a place in capturing civil unrest and the public mindset. It is often said that in order for real change to take effect, the movements must be present within artistic communities and cultural mediums. With the civil unrest and protests that have gripped the nation following George Floyd’s death, this has been profoundly true.
The Black Lives Matter movement has gained momentum like never before, and that momentum has been fueled by responses from artists. This has included murals of George Floyd, and Breanna Taylor. Their portraits, along with other victims, have been shared thousands of times on social media. Their images and visual art inspired by the movement has heightened social awareness and social empathy to the movement.
But it isn’t just within the visual arts community where a cultural response can be found. Musicians are responding and reacting to the civil unrest throughout their craft, too. Cue Abel Meri who considers himself to be a conscious rapper. Born in Ethiopia, and shaped by the DMV (the DC, Maryland, and Virginia) area, Abel Meri is a rapper who gains inspiration from politics, social inequities, and the voices and concerns of marginalized groups.
Abel believes that artists have a unique platform and opportunity to responsibly contribute to civil unrest and social movements. He says that his objective as an artist is to provoke thought, edify, entertain and hopefully inspire my audience.” This mindset is seen within his latest EP #BLM.” The song “Black Lives Matter” drew direct inspiration from George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement. It provides his unique perspective to the events, presented in a fresh way. He crafts his songs that are clearly introspective, and are his personal reflections to the current social climate and events.
The power of “#BLM” lies within Abel’s artistic vision of focusing on the lyrics. This vision isn’t within the style of contemporary rap, or Trap era rap, however. Trap era rap emphasizes the rhythm of the music, and focuses on auto-tune before and above anything else. For Trap era rap, melodies are king. But there are a group of rap artists that do not follow this trend. The artists Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole focus their art on the lyrics, which oftentimes acts as a voice for marginalized groups.
Abel Meri is within the same ilk. He carefully crafts his lyrics, which are commonly responses to ongoing social events. Perhaps being raised in the DMV area has had something to do with Abel’s inclination to put out music that is concerned with forgotten demographics. Abel’s “#BLM” isn’t his only work that is inspired by his social environment. Just this year, Abel has released the EPs “TNSZ – The No Skip Zone,” “Smooth” and several singles including “Salute,” and the aptly named “COVID.” As with any responsible and conscious artist, Abel understands his unique platform and ability to not only inform, but to inspire and spark activism. This is especially true within the rap and hip-hop genres. They are the most powerful and popular genres of music, especially amongst younger listeners. As a conscious rapper, Abel obviously acknowledges this through his powerful lyrics.
Milian Beatz: The Multi-Instrumentalist Producer Surging in Los Angeles
“Everything I am doing is for a purpose. I want my music to last forever.” Milian Beatz, also known as Maximilian Rostopora, has been working in Los Angeles as a producer since 2015, and he is prepping for a big 2021 after having successful years in both 2019 and 2020. After landing production credits with many rising rappers over the last two years, Milian Beatz is proving he is an artist who should be taken seriously, and he has the proper motivation and dedication to put him in a position to succeed.
Milian Beatz was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, and his family lived between there and Los Angeles in his younger years before settling back in Kyiv. His love for music was formed at a young age by way of his multi-instrumentalist father. By age 12, Rostopora was already playing guitar, keys, and drums – putting him in a position to succeed at an early age. However, Rostopora’s life took an unexpected turn when his father passed away in 2012. “He taught me how to play a few chords and I have not stopped playing ever since,” Milian Beatz said of his father. When he moved back to Los Angeles with his mother, Rostopora took his father’s influence and the motivation from their shared love of music to pursue his career as a producer.
After years of attempting to break into the music scene in LA, Milian Beatz began networking at various studios around the city, eventually landing himself representation with talent agent Barry Rosenblum. This gave him the time and energy he needed to share his art with as many people as possible. Since 2012, Milian Beatz has landed production credits for artists like Lil Cobaine, Skippa da Flippa, and Papithbk. Referred to as the “King of Kyiv”, Milian Beatz is focusing on more collaborations for the coming year, including a full-length project with the previously mentioned Skippa da Flippa. “I want people to know that I am hungry every single time they hear my tag on a beat.” With that said, the following tag is one you should get used to hearing: “Milian bouta go plat!”
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