How can music creators tell their own stories?
Los Angeles is one of the main epicenters for entertainment and music in the United States. As such, the creatives driving the most innovation and movement do not always have the time to pause to talk about what they are making. I worked with Shirley Ju, a triple-treat of music journalist, on-air host and A&R, to spotlight a fascinating and diverse mix of talent who are actively making or collaborating on ground-breaking music in Los Angeles, today.
“As someone who’s been writing and interviewing for over a decade, storytelling is the biggest form of expression no matter who you are or what you do! Especially when it comes to artists and musicians, everything you do, write, sing, or rap about is inspired by real life occurrences and events. Telling your story is an integral part of one’s artistry and should never be taken for granted,” offers Shirley Ju, host at mental health and music YouTube show called Shirley’s Temple.
Here are eight ways that music helps tell compelling, real stories for the artists.
1) Music is healing.
“Music helps me heal by telling my story that others can relate but may not be able to express it themselves,” says Phora, an Anaheim-based rapper who has released 11 albums, all related to his past struggles and currently releases music under the Yours Truly imprint, shared with his widely popular clothing brand.
2) Music is a diary.
3) Music has no filter.
“Music allows me to unapologetically tell my story with no filter,” says Nya Lee, former cast member of Love & Hip-Hop: New York and a rapper who runs her own label called Our Cutt Entt, named after a deep scar in her neck from being stabbed in her NYC home.
4) Music is a light.
“When I go through my darkest moments, the thought of an amazing record can change my whole attitude,” offers Derrick Milano, a prolific music industry shape-shifter who is able to fulfill multiple roles in the recording studio.
5) Music is a feeling.
”Music helps me tell stories because I’m not best at expressing my feelings, unless I hear a beat,” says Queen Key, a mesmerizing rapper and writer often described as “funny, outrageous, lyrically deft.”
6) Music is honest.
“Music allows me to use different melodies with different tones as a medium to further express the feeling I’m trying to convey. Disguising my thoughts with lyrical poeticism lets me be honest to my own experiences in a way that others can interpret based on their own lives,” says Aidan Alexander, an actor and musician focused on moody and romantic pop music.
7) Music is a connection.
“Storytelling is the essence of the art form, the connection between the people and the artist. Being able to tell a good story and invoke emotion makes you great,” offers G. Perico, a charismatic rapper with a sense of humor who once said, “You know, bad behavior is great in politics.”
8) Music is vulnerable.
“Music connects us all which makes it easier to be honest or vulnerable. All good stories tap into one’s ability to put themselves in other’s shoes, so communicating honestly in the form of a song makes us feel like all of our stories coincide. It’s a great vehicle,” says CHIKA, a Grammy-nominated rapper and entrepreneur who wants us to focus on the skills of the rapper, not the gender.
Music encompasses a variety of ways of telling vulnerable, thoughtful, uplifting and truthful stories.
Here’s an interview with Shirley Ju and Trippie Redd: