indieland's 30 Days of Christmas - Day 11 - Musicians We Lost in 2018
We unfortunately lost a good number of important and influential artists in 2018. This is our tribute to those that passed away this year.
Mac Miller (1992-2018)
Mac's influence on countless hip hop artists of all types was felt immediately after news of his passing spread in September. Fresh off of the release of his excellent new album "Swimming", Mac's sudden overdose left the music world in mourning. Its truly difficult to fully grasp Mac Miller's influence and place in the hip hop world. From his incredible rise (his debut album was the first independent hip hop album to debut at number one on the charts in 16 years), to his consistent growth with each and every album, Mac held our attention for almost a decade. Its quite difficult to realize that we won't get to see how he would have followed up "Swimming", because knowing Mac, it wouldn't have been anything we would expect.
His growth from his early days was beautiful to watch. I admittedly wasn't a fan until his psychedelic turn on 2013's "Watching Movies with the Sound Off", and especially his gorgeous 2016 effort "The Divine Feminine". It was evident that he lived and breathed music, notoriously logging countless hours in the studio honing his craft.
Mac Miller was truly unique in that he had the respect of countless artists across all of hip hop and beyond. Artists as diverse as the Internet, Vince Staples, John Mayer, Thundercat, J.I.D, Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, and so many others, were gutted by the news of his passing. It seemed that everybody he came into contact with was a fan of his genuine nature. Mac Miller was a true musician, and he will be sorely missed.
Roy Hargrove (1969-2018)
Roy Hargrove came bursting onto the jazz scene in the early 90's and never looked back. From his early hard bop work on albums like "Diamond in the Rough" to his classic latin jazz inspired "Habana", he was a jazz musician who wasn't afraid to grow and spread his wings.
Personally, I took the news of Roy Hargrove's passing hard because I grew up listening to him. His 2000 ballads album "Moment to Moment" was one of my favorite jazz records of the last 20 years, and he performed extensively on my favorite album of all time - D'Angelo's "Voodoo", adding key moody flourishes and a jazz flavor that helped push "Voodoo" into the heavens. His work as RH Factor, where he pushed the boundaries of jazz with hip hop artists such as Common and Q-Tip, certainly demands mention as well.
Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)
What more can be said about Aretha Franklin that hasn't already been said? We can start with her gorgeous voice, as soulful and iconic as we've heard. We can analyze her stunning career, from her unprecedented late 60's run with Atlantic to her mesmerizing take on Nessun Dorma in 1998. We can simply focus on her music, and there are dozens of classics.
My go to Aretha album is 1970's "Spirit in the Dark". While there aren't any popular singles on it, its a great moody album from start to finish. It may also be one of the best starting points for new fans and those looking to jump into her catalog beyond the big hits. They don't make them like Aretha anymore, but then again, they never did - she was one of a kind.
Hugh Masekela (1939-2018)
Hugh Masekela was an influential trumpeter from South Africa. He played an important role in creating anti-apartheid protest music, something that he was greatly impacted by in his home country. Hugh even reached United States audiences with his number one hit in 1968 "Grazing in the Grass".
The spirit and soul he performed with is easy to hear in his music, and he is one of the most important musicians of the last 50 years.