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Podcast: Quest Soul on His Music and Hip Hop

Airick Smith is a hip hop artist in Los Angeles. Smith, who records using the name Quest Soul  reached out to me through Twitter, probably after seeing The Daily Music Break.

We communicated over Twitter, spoke and decided to do a podcast. I had a certain amount of unease about it. Not only am I decades older than Airick, but his music tells a life story that, to say the least, I haven’t experienced.

Just introducing him as an up-and-coming hip-hop artist without dealing with the larger issues the gulf between us seemed silly. And it certainly wouldn’t have been consistent with the reason I started this website, which is to put some context around different musical genres.questsoul

My goal for the interview therefore was to go beyond asking Airick about his music. I wanted to touch on hip-hop’s place in the broader American culture. It logically follows that race had to be part of the conversation.

That’s not completely comfortable. But, generally, the difficult conversations are the most important and ultimately the most rewarding ones to have. I enjoyed it and learned a lot. (Airick’s tweets here.)

The other reason that I am interested in hip hop is that it is contemporary. There is a lot of brilliant music around. A lot of it is at this site. In almost all cases, it is music from the past. Hip hop is commentary on what is happening now. Whatever it says — both musically and culturally — is current. That alone makes it important.

Quest Soul on his music and hip hop:


The introductory music — Quest Soul’s “Lose My Life” — runs longer than a typical introduction. The interview starts at about the two minute mark.

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Here’s What’s Here

The Daily Music Break explores every genre of music, from hip hop to opera. It's simple: Boundaries are dumb. It's all good. Here is more about the site and here is our index:

--A Tribe Called Quest to The Dick Hyman Trio (In other words, A to H)

--Indigo Girls to Queen Ida (I to Q)

--Radiohead to ZZ Top (R to Z)

Reading Music

The stories of the great bands and musicians are fascinating. Musicians as a group are brilliant, but often troubled. The combination of creativity and drama makes for great reading.

Here are some books to check out.

Duke Ellington brought class, sophistication and style to jazz which, until that point, was proudly unpolished and raucous. His story is profound. The author, Terry Teachout, also wrote "Pops," the acclaimed bio of Louis Armstrong. Click here or on the image.


What else is there to say? Here is the story behind every song written by The Beatles. Click here or on the image.


The Grateful Dead don't get enough credit for the profound nature of its lyrics. Many of the band's songs are driven by a deep and literate Americana ("I'm Uncle Sam/That's who I am/Been hidin' out/In a rock and roll band" and "Majordomo Billy Bojangles/Sit down and have a drink with me/What's this about Alabama/Keeps comin' back to me?").

David Dodd's exhaustive study tells the story, song by song. Click here or on the image.

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