Listening to my old music library, you know, when we still downloaded music and what not- All kinds of classic shit came on and I went on a nostalgic trip. For example, a little underground Tyga came through and I found myself singing along as my young self again (don’t judge). It occurred to me that there is a lack of damn classic-ness to music these days. Names are now interchangeable and I don’t remember a lot of artists, let alone their lyrics.
Now it’s all about repeat value, which is cool yeah, but is it a repeat until the end of time type thing? Some of us still really want music that is just so classy we have to sing every word regardless of who is next to us. Classics often get confused with originals, but to me they are not just ones who have come before us. Classics are also artists and songs that have created a sound that vibes with people hard. They’re songs that pull us back repeatedly not just this week but this lifetime! You feel me? It’s a matter of the heart. Don’t you want your music to exist beyond a playlist somewhere?
Here’s what ingredients would make the most classic of songs.
Be aware of trends, use them to guide you, but not to influence your entire style.
It’s important to know what is trending so you can relate to people as things are currently. It can help create some familiarity for your listeners and the industry. Honestly though, trends expire so quickly now it’s wasted energy for you to try and keep up and duplicate. Besides, the things we find most classic in culture over the decades are rare or original. So yeah, just be rare or original (weird even). Instant classic.
Lyrics need levels.
Be honest with them, be real, be intentional with your words. It will connect you with the right audiences too, the ones who will always think you’re classic. That’s love.
Don’t be afraid to sample something already classic and make it your own.
Please do not make covers of shit where you used the Youtube karaoke version to back you up. Delivering a creative reinterpretation will show that you are able to make something already dope, equally dope or even better than the original. Ballsy and classy one time!
Happy accidents are key.
How many times have you been working on stuff and burned yourself out and the music reflected that sound? There is no reason at this stage in the game you can’t just play around and have fun with it. Experiment with your production, your vocal chords, all of it. Sometimes the roads we take by chance end up being the right ones.
Move it, shake it, change it up: practice multi-genre blending.
Musical genre blending used to be a fairly taboo thing in the music world. It’s not now! I listen to hella artists where I’m like “ya bruh, it’s kind of like a folksie-rap-classic-jazz type group, I have no clue”. Personally I love this blending of worlds because it appeals to multiple parts of me. Mix some rap with death metal shredz and I’ll head bang myself into a coma! Plus, you’ll catch more fan’s ears because you’re appealing to multiple musical tastes. If you appeal to more musical tastes, then more people will hear and vibe, and then remember you.
Be raw. Freestyle. Be live.
These type of songs are what the deep underground fans will pulse to themselves many years after the album dropped. This it the heart and soul performances that you could never edit because they were recorded live. Freestyle because those are the words spoken in the moment as you felt them. Be raw because the ones that keep your songs classic will feel the same rawness as you and carry it with them. That’s how we’ll recognize true classics when we hear it.
If you don’t believe me, believe Jay-Z: “I spend a lot of time fighting myself to stay out of the way of a great song. It’s hard for me to leave a song alone, in its natural state. I want it to have that mass appeal, but once I start trying to push it too far, you can feel that something isn’t right. When you can hear what a writer is trying to do, it’s like watching a dancer and seeing him counting his steps. Music is emotional — if you’re singing that you’re in love with somebody but it doesn’t really feel like you are, people can tell.”
Real recognize real.