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Sunday, July 10, 2011

SpinTunes #3: Round 3 Challenge

Top That - Write a rap. For anyone who has any experience rapping, you get the added challenge of making your rap about a work romance. That added challenge doesn't apply to those who have never rapped up until this point. (2 minute minimum) (your submission is due July 17th 11:59PM)

Many of you know I tried to get this approved as a challenge in SpinTunes #1 & #2. I was overruled in both cases by the judges. This time...a couple others actually agreed with me. (bout time) I know many of you just felt your stomachs hit the floor, but part of being challenged is getting out of comfort zones. (this should do the trick for most of you) I thought about trying to define "rap" myself so people don't try to wiggle out of the actual challenge, but you know what's being asked of you. We're not asking for a song about gift wrapping, and how head on you take this challenge could very well effect your rankings. So...wiggle at your own risk. If you need a definition, I guess we can use this:

"Rapping refers to "spoken rhyming lyrics". The art form can be broken down into different components, as in the book How to Rap where it is separated into “content”, “flow” (rhythm and rhyme), and “delivery”. Rapping is distinct from spoken word poetry in that it is performed in time to a beat. Stylistically, rap occupies a gray area among speech, prose, poetry, and song."

Those who want to be a finalist this year, will have to attempt to write the next "Bo Fo' Sho'" & hope they don't end up more like "Top That". (I answered some questions about the challenge in the comments...might want to read them.)

Mike Lombardo's Thoughts On A Rap Challenge:
I interviewed Mike last year on YouTube, and he gave his reasons for wanting to see a rap challenge in "Masters Of Song Fu".

(Spintown Interviews...Mike Lombardo)

I'll be listening to lots of MC Frontalot, Young MC & Fresh Prince this week...just to get in the mood for an all rap listening party.

Submitting Entries:

- Entries must be received by the given deadline. Otherwise it'll be posted as a shadow. Received means that it has to appear in my e-mail inbox by the given deadline. I will be going by the time stamp on the e-mail in my inbox. PLEASE do not wait until the last hour to send me something. If there is a blackout in your area, your computer crashes, or your dog actually eats your thumb drive...I will not care. You are allowed to send in a draft of your song early just in case something horrible happens & you miss the deadline. Then you can add polish to your song & send in a better version closer to the deadline. 1 minute late is still late people.

- Send your file in a format that Bandcamp accepts. (.aiff, .wav or .flac) (at least 16-bit/44.1kHz) You can find the specific requirements for Bandcamp files HERE. You do not have to send in MP3's.

- Name your file the song's title, but without spaces & punctuation.

- Title of the e-mail should be the title of the Challenge & your band's name.

- Include the song lyrics in the body of the e-mail. (If your song doesn't have lyrics...consider yourself eliminated. Instrumentals can be pretty, but SpinTunes does require lyrics.)

- Include information on anyone that needs credited if you collabed with someone.

- File sharing options if you need them: YouSendIt, Sound Cloud, Drop Box, RapidShare, ZShare & MediaFire. Please send an e-mail as I already stated, but with the download link if you need one of these services. Please follow directions so your file doesn't wind up in my spam or trash folder accidentally.

- If you have a BandCamp account, you can just send me a link to your song on BandCamp if you include all the info I mentioned above. Make sure you have it set as a free download, and have it set so that I don't have to put in an e-mail to download it if you pick this option. THIS IS THE BEST FILE SHARING OPTION!

Side Notes:

- PLEASE do your best to send in submissions that BandCamp will allow me to upload. Details about what BandCamp allows are only a mouse click away.

- Remember that you are allowed to send in a little background about your song. Some people don't like to do that, and you don't have to, but if you want to write a couple sentences about your song I'll post it on the BandCamp page for people to see. Some judges will look at the lyrics & this extra info, but they aren't required to.

- If you didn't sign-up in time to compete in SpinTunes #3, you can still complete the challenge & send in a song. It'll be uploaded with the other entries as a "Shadow Song". Check the FAQ if you don't know what that means. You can even complete past challenges from previous contests.

- If you didn't sign-up you can also do a song for "Single Rainbow Across The Internet". You're song would be played during the LP as well.

- The only other way to get your music played at the LP is to cover "Today's The Day" by Inverse T. Clown. This project was started in our little community of friends long before SpinTunes even started.

- Feel free to leave any questions in the comments.


  1. Also, I want to remind people that I'm inviting all SpinTunes contestants, past and present, who identify as geeks (I'll leave that definition up to you, meaning you could be a music geek, gaming geek, science fiction geek, tech geek, sports geek, the list goes on) to be guests on the Geeky Pleasures Radio Show on August 5, 2011.

    It will be a live on-air interview, beginning at 7 pm PT/ 10 pm ET and will end whenever we run out of things to talk about.

    So far, I've a few people say they want to do this. The more, the merrier. If this interests you and you want more information, please email me at jules@thelook247.com

  2. What standard would you like us to apply in determini g whether we have "any experience rapping"?

  3. If you have wrote & performed a rap song, you have experience rapping. Even if it's just 1. If you have a more specific example or question, just e-mail me. I'll get to it before bed...which seems soooo far away still tonight.

  4. Few questions were e-mailed to me, so I'll answer them here as well:

    "Is it a rap if it's a rap during the verses and sung during the choruses?"

    You can sing during the chorus, and background vocals are ok.

    "Is it a rap if it's a rap during the choruses and sung during the verses?"

    Since the chorus is generally just repetition, I'm saying no. If you did that there wouldn't be much rap in the song. It would be like Glen's Round 1 song with 1 breakdown in it....just repeated over & over.

    "What will be the grounds for DQ-ing a rap-that-the-judges-don't-think-is-really-a-rap? Will they allow SOME singing? If so -- how MUCH singing? Will it be a ratio? Will it be based on which sections are sung and which are rapped? Will it be based on how MANY sections are or are not sung? Will it be based on whether or not sections are "new" or "repeated" throughout the song?"

    Rapping during the verses & singing during the chorus is a pretty good way to gage how much rap is enough. Unless you make a song of all chorus...which means you're an ass. :p You know we're looking for a rap, so you might figure most of the lyrics should be idk...a rap.

    Automatic DQ's this round will be difficult. I'm obviously not a musician, and this is a technical challenge. Which means I'm more useless than even normal. It'll probably be left open to the individual judges to decide if you wiggled too much, and then rank you accordingly. I will make sure to mention they should knock people they think skirted the challenge too much.

    "And -- what about "experience" with rap? Will the standards be the same, or different?"

    If you have written & recorded a rap song...you have experience. A quick bridge or verse on a larger song that is not a rap...will not count. If anyone has questions about their own experience they can ask.

  5. Spin and Mike talk almost exclusively about technical, formal elements of rap. Except for Mike's mentioning white nerdy kids, there's pretty much nothing said about the fact that pretty much everyone, songwriter or otherwise, equates rap with not just technical and formal things but, also, with an Urban stylistic treatment, involving particular kinds of phrasing, rhythm, delivery and vocabulary. Yet even the little bit Mike said was an afterthought side comment and was, in any case, not part of the actual description of the challenge anyway.

    So say you have even 100% rap, no singing. How much are the judges going to count the stylistic beyond the technical? Is this challenge actually asking for something that could get play on an Urban format radio station, is that part of this challenge's definition of rap? Or is this challenge totally happy to have rhyme and rhythm and phrasing of non-sung words performed to a beat and all the other technical, formal elements of rap, but with otherwise any kind of stylistic treatment at all?

  6. "So say you have even 100% rap, no singing. How much are the judges going to count the stylistic beyond the technical?"

    That'll be up to the individual judge. As long as they feel you met the challenge everything else is totally subjective as usual.

    "Is this challenge actually asking for something that could get play on an Urban format radio station, is that part of this challenge's definition of rap?"

    No. If you want to write something like that fine, but it's not required.

  7. Ok, one more. Lots of rap/hip reference and/or sample other material. What is your position on that for this round, given copyright law and the rules of the contest as a whole. Would public domain works be okay for this?

  8. I understand Mark's comment, and am really curious about a more definitive answer before somebody goes off and invests a bunch of time in lyrics that just won't work.

    For instance, I'm of the opinion that something like "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" by Ray Stevens is RAP, though it's in a rural setting and in Country style.

    If a judge doesn't agree, then it's not the difference between a 10 or a 7 on a sliding scale... it's the difference between a score and no score at all, as we saw with Edric last round.

    If YOU expect us to do our best effort, and we ask these questions in an attempt to do that, then it seems only fair that WE are allowed to get a ruling in advance rather than just say "it's up to the individual judge".

    Alternately, the judges should be instructed to rank the songs ON THEIR MERIT once a song as been deemed to meed the challenge. (i.e. no judges going off on their own and saying, "This song doesn't meet the challenge, so I'm shit-canning it in the rankings).

  9. What is Spintunes' take on using samples? Since these are getting published on Bandcamp, should we avoid using unlicensed samples for legal reasons?

  10. I'm not against using samples, but I would avoid anything that could possibly cause any copyright issues. Public domain stuff would be fine, or sampling anything that uses CC & crediting the appropriate artists.

  11. I really hope to hear a storytelling piece or two, as we heard from the Charlie Daniels Band so many times - of course, people know them from The Devil Went Down To Georgia, but I prefer Uneasy Rider for the rap story and its bluegrassy feel.

    Good luck, remaining contestants! It's sad to see people giving up so soon...