I'm Cole Cuchna - creator/host of serialized music podcast Dissect, which breaks down one album per season and one song per episode. This season, I'm going deep on DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar. AMA!
Cole Cuchna - creator/host of serialized music podcast Dissect on Spotify, which breaks down one album per season and one song per episode. Today I launched a new season dissecting DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar, which won a Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2018.
In past seasons, I dissected My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West, Blonde by Frank Ocean, Miseducation by Lauryn Hill, Flower Boy by Tyler The Creator, and To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar.
Listen to Episode 1 of Season 5 here: https://spoti.fi/2nuIuK3
Though I've primarily focused on hip hop, I'm a classically trained composer and enjoy all genres of music, from Radiohead to Shostakovich to Bob Dylan.
Update: Had so much fun answering all your questions. I have to go now, but thanks to all who participated, looking forward to doing another one of these in the future!
Great question. You know, off the top of my head, no. If there was, it would be hard to match the way Kendrick changed the single version of "i" to a pivotal skit that concludes the album and represents the end of journey on the album. That amount of foresight and thoughtful and creative risk is what makes Kendrick one of the greatest living artists we have. I'll give this some more thought and let you know if I can think of any other example.
I'm no Cole but I can think of Backseat Freestyle. Without context its just some random bragadocious that dont really sound like Kendrick, but when you listen to the album you know he's performing as his young self freestyling in the backseat of a car and trying to impress his friends.
Great point. My mind went to other artists aside from Kendrick. But this is great.
When are you planning on dissecting Die Lit?
Haha, don't get your hopes up : )
Hey, Cole! I have a couple of questions if that’s alright!
One of my favorite moments from last season is when you revealed that IGOR resolved with the first note of the first song, making it an endless loop. How do you discover such obscure things?
Is Dissect going to be rap/hip hop only? I’m more than okay with this, since I don’t think enough people are diving into the genre the way you are because of the stigma, but it is a curiosity of mine.
If you could take apart one Eminem album, what would it be? (Or is that spoilers? How far ahead do you plan?)
Thanks for your time! Have a good day, can’t wait for the rest of the season!
Q1: Typically discover things just by listening carefully. In the case of IGOR, I first noticed that the album ended and began with the same instrument. That caught my attention. Then I noticed how the story doesn't really resolve because Tyler wants to remain friends. Then I compared the ending note and the beginning note and discovered it tonally creates a closed loop. Then I thought, well, that HAD to be intentional, and it fit perfectly with the narrative and theme.
Q2: Answered above!
Q3: Definitely his third album Eminem Show.
Why do you think DAMN hasn't received the ubiquitous acclaim from fans that TPAB and GKMC have?
Great question. If I had to guess, it's because it sounds more commercial and doesn't contain skits. But this is the absolute brilliance of this album, in my opinion. The way Kendrick was able to package an EXTREMELY complex, powerful, and thematically dense album into a commercially appealing album that did huge numbers. It's one of the hardest things to do, find that balance between density and appeal. It's an incredible accomplishment and I hope our season enlightens those who fail to see this album's truly important message.
What are your favorite albums besides the ones you have covered on DIssect?
Kid A and In Rainbows by Radiohead are up there.
The Beatles Revolver and Rubber Soul have special significance, as these were albums my dad played very loud in our house when I was a kid, and is probably my earliest memory.
Though not an album, Beethoven's symphonies (especially 3, 5, 7, and 9) changed the way I listened to music, as did the music of Shostakovich, particularly his string quartets.
Are you going to do the reverse album concept analysis?
Of course. We won't get to that until the end of the season, but we will definitely be talking about how the reverse order changes the story (or does it?)
Hey Cole, recently discovered Dissect and it has given me such a greater appreciation for musical analysis beyond the surface.
Can you describe your process when dissecting an album from preparation to production?
Starts with lots of initial research. Reading/watching interviews, looking over lyrics, listening a lot to the album. That takes a few weeks. Once I get to writing, it gets pretty straightforward: I literally just go through line by line and write my thoughts and draw connections based on my research. Once the script is complete, I record in my bedroom. I used to edit the audio myself, but now I have help with that, which is great! After a couple proof listens, it's ready!
Have you ever started a preliminary deep dive into a prospective album, only to realize the subject matter is far more shallow than you originally thought?
No, because I do pretty extensive research and listening before I really dive in. I would say in the case of Frank Ocean, I found the sparseness of words in some of the songs an issue, in terms of trying to fill a 30 minute episode. That lead me to think creatively and I ended up opening up personally more on that season, as I saw it as reflection of what his music is: vulnerable and personal.
Have you ever considered doing a Childish Gambino Because The Internet season?
See above : )
Will you dissect other genres in the future?
Yes, though I'm not sure when. I've chosen to focus on hip hop now because I feel like it's generally underserved in approaching it academically. I want to contribute to the elevation of hip hop as art and help others hear the profound truths in these works. Also, I'm extremely interested in art as a culturural representation of history, and hip hop is the genre of music that we will look back on 100 years from now to inform us of what was going on in society at the time.
I see people in your comments all the time requesting albums that just don’t have the meat to truly dissect over 14/15 hours of content. I believe this is why we might see repeat seasons of Artists, there’s only so many that put enough thematic juice into the work to wring out a full season. Can you speak to that?
Yes and no. There were many reasons why I chose to repeat Kendrick, and it wasn't for a lack of other albums, though admittedly very little compare with the amount of complexity he puts into his albums. Mostly I wanted to get this season out before Kendrick's next work and before the 2020 election, as I believe Kendrick is speaking to RIGHT NOW on DAMN.
I also found a co-writer Femi whose existing work on DAMN. impressed me so much that hired him to help me write this season. Aside from his extremely valuable contributions, having help writing seasons with people I trust allows me to increase my content output, which means more episodes and less breaks between seasons!
Hey Cole love the show, big fan, do you think it would be a good idea to give the guy who does the recreations 10 minutes at the top of every episode to tell funny jokes? Jw
Is this your favorite Kendrick Lamar album?
Hmmm. Very hard to say. To Pimp a Butterfly changed my life in more ways than one, so I would have to say that's my favorite. But if we're saying "favorite" as in "best", one could easily argue DAMN. is his best.
Cheers Cole! Love seeing how much you and Dissect have grown since S1!!! Quick question - have you had any sort of contact with any of the artists yet? I believe Tyler acknowledged S4 and you had some interactions with him on twitter I think related to IGOR. Any other artist communications? A sit-down interview between you and any of them would be a dream! Thanks Cole - Can't wait for the deep dive into DAMN.
I've heard various things through the grapevine, but I haven't spoken directly to any artist to date. We always try, but I tend to pick reclusive artists that don't do many interviews. Tyler was our best shot, but he stopped doing interviews too, aside from his sit down with Zane Lowe.
Hi Cole! I'm assuming that you must be passionate about all the albums you cover on Dissect. Are there any albums you feel passionate about that just wouldn't work for the format of Dissect, but you'd encourage us to go dive deep on ourselves?
Yeah, so many! There's a lot of great music that wouldn't really lend itself to this format, unfortunately. I love James Blake, Daniel Caesar, Jon Hopkins, Bob Dylan (he would probably make a great season), older Muse, Fiona Apple, Robert Johnson, any Beethoven or Shostakovich. So many!
What do you think of Kanye's recent non-releasing albums?
Not really surprising, he's been doing this since streaming became dominant. I didn't have much expectation with JIK releasing on time given that his last two albums were late. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...
Hey, Cole! Love the podcast man. I've always been curious. With season 5 coming up...how much time goes into these deep analysis of hip hop albums? It seems it would take me years to do all that you do. Can't wait to dive into season 5!
Usually, somewhere around 20-25 hours an episode. Plus the initial research phase at the beginning, which is around two weeks.
This season, I worked with my first co-writer, who helped write A LOT of the scripts this season. His name is Femi. Perhaps he can give you insight on how long each script took him this season.
Thoughts on a season of Bon Iver? You could call it the seasons to cover all 4 albums
Love Bon Iver!
Hi Cole, I'm a huge fan; have been since the first season.
Do you think you'll ever dissect albums outside of hip-hop?
I would die for an Earl Sweatshirt season btw, complete the OF "holy trinity" (Frank, Tyler and Earl)
Thanks for an amazing podcast that I look forward to every episode.
Yeah, definitely at some point! Not sure when though. I'll know when the time is right.
Hey Cole, been a listener to Dissect since TPAB, absolutely love your work and the approach you take to understanding themes behind music. I've got two questions:
- Given how spiritually rich some of the music you've dug into is (especially Kendrick and Ye), do you feel like dissecting on this deep level has had a significant impact on your own views of spirituality and religion?
- You've mentioned frequently your love for Radiohead through tweets and IG stories (as well as even here in your AMA intro), and RH are my favorite band of all time. If you were to do a series on Radiohead, what would that look like? Would you dive into a particular project (OKC, Kid A or AMSP for example), or would you take a more holistic approach to how they've changed the music industry through their whole discography (like two eps covering an album and so on)?
Keep up the good work man, so excited to go through DAMN. Appreciate you.
1) This season has had a pretty profound impact, mostly due to my co-writer this season Femi and his immense knowledge about the Bible. He has broken down some of the ideas in scripture in a way that I understand and can relate to. I've been reading the Bible for the first time this season and have really enjoyed some of the ideas presented in there. I'm agnostic but I love ideas and am very passionate about ways we can be living and treating each other better. I've come to understand God more conceptually as the ultimate ideal, the ultimate father figure, someone or something that gives you an upward aim and pushes you to live better on a daily basis. We all serve something, whether we know it or not, and I've found that the idea of serving God provides many people with a structure and discipline that helps them live as best as they can. That's really powerful to me.
I encourage my co-writer Femi to chime in here, as he could also address how Kendrick shape his views on spirituality.
2) Love Radiohead. Would likely need to do a lot of music theory and music analysis as many of the later albums have sparse lyrics that are sometimes non-sensical on purpose (especially Kid A)
Hi Cole, I love the podcast - when are you going to cover "Get Low" by lil jon?
Keep up da good work x
He wants you to get low. There, done. : )
Do you ever feel pressure from fans to dissect a specific album? There seemed to be a little bit of a divide among your fans for the first time around the album you were going to dissect. Once people started catching onto the clues surrounding DAMN., some were for it, some were not. I certainly am! What was your motivation for choosing Kendrick for the second time? Thank you!
I'm going to use this question as an opportunity to explain why I chose to repeat an artist. There are several reasons:
1) It's a phenomenal album. Period.
2) I found a co-writer, Femi Oulutade, who shared with me his existing analysis of DAMN and I was completely blown away. I knew I had to work with him. His knowledge of the Bible is incredible, and he's really helped drawing out ideas in Kendrick's music I would never be able to on my own.
3) Having a co-writer means more content at a faster rate, which allows for more episodes and less breaks between seasons. Meaning I will get to do more albums and make everyone happy : )
4) I am not happy with Season 1 and I don't feel like I did Kendrick's music justice. It was my first at bat doing Dissect and I was figuring a lot of stuff out on the fly. This season is redemption for me, personally.
5) TPAB connects directly into DAMN. I felt like we were leaving the story unfinished, untold. Part of me needed to complete the story.
6) Timing was extremely critical to me. I wanted to release this season before Kendrick's next album and before the 2020 election. I feel like he's talking to us TODAY, RIGHT NOW. He called the album "urgent" and I agree. It needs to be discussed at this moment in history.
7) I would be lying if I didn't say that some of the slander against this album influenced my decision. I'm hoping this season can put to rest an accusations of it being not as complex or intricate as his past work.
So, that's why I chose to repeat an artist so soon, to all those wondering.
Is Kendrick Lamar your favorite rapper ever?
Have you listened to the experimental hip hop trio clipping.? I’m very confident their 2016 album would make a great dissect season. And their new one coming out this month will most likely be deserving as well.
Have not. Will def check out!
Thank you Cole - Dissect is amazing, and I have recommended it to many of my friends.
How long does it take you to put together one episode? They are all so intricate.
PS. I would love it if you did an Outkast album (Aquemini is my favorite)
20-25 hours per episode!
Thanks for Dissect and this AMA. Looking forward to the S5 journey.
What knowledge/skill is essential when writing music essay/analysis pieces?
Greatest joy of being a father?
I think it's mostly just LISTENING and really trying to understand what the artist is trying to say, not just your opinion of the music.
Greatest joy of fatherhood...just seeing them happy and succeeding at things they try. It's amazing.
Hey Cole do you think you will ever do a season on Graduation by Kanye west?
Hm, probably not. I find his later work more interesting for Dissect, though I love Graduation.
Hey Cole! Everyone is asking you to dissect other genre's but I think you are choosing culture shifting albums that we aren't exploring deeply. Thanks for that.
What are your favorite art and creative podcasts? Who is inspiring you to do the work that you do?
I mostly listen to NBA and comedy pods, actually. Serial had a big impact on me when it came out. Dr. Robert Greenberg's The Great Courses music classes really influenced Dissect. I would recommend that highly. Mostly inspired by the music, honestly.
Hey Cole. If you and Antony Fantano were to record a jazz-hop concept album in the bathtub, who would sit at the faucet end?
Depends on who's playing the tuba part.
hi Cole! This question probably won't be as profound as other offerings, but it's one that means a lot to me. What are your thoughts on Lupe Fiasco? If you're a fan, what's your favorite album of his? His music seems like it would be ripe for a dissection. Thank you for the great content over the years, I can't wait to hear more from Dissect!
Love Lupe. Incredible lyricist. Though my only personal conflict with his music is that he's not the best songwriter, despite his virtuosic penmanship. That is, I respect him highly, but I find that I don't listen to his music a lot because I don't enjoy as much on a sonic level. If that makes sense.
What music podcasts do you listen to?
Switched on Pop, Popcast, Joe Budden (kinda music), Broken Record occasionally, Watching the Throne, Disgraceland. But I mostly listen to NBA pods : )
What have you been listening to recently?
Aside from that, lots of YBN Cordae, James Blake, Daniel Caesar, JID, Bon Iver, JPEGMAFIA, Rapsody.
Thanks for doing this AMA and thank you for all the work you put into your podcast! I really loved your seasons on Flower Boy and Blonde especially and your commentary beyond just the analysis of lyrics and composition is always thought provoking.
A question I have for you would be what your thoughts on the increased availability and accessibility of music is doing for the musical landscape as a whole. Do you think the increased "competition" of artists trying to make a presence is encouraging originality and higher quality? Or do you often find it hard to filter through a lot of "noise" of people throwing their hats in the ring to try and get their five minutes of fame?
I think every era presents challenges. For instance, there's no barrier of entry now, which means more music and less restrictions. I think that leads to more artists getting a chance to prove themselves to the world without record labels acting as gateways. But that also means it's harder to establish yourself since there's so much content now. But the cream always rises to the top in all generations.
Kia ora from New Zealand, Cole! I'm a big fan of everything you've done with Dissect so far.
My question is this: do you have a favourite "guilty pleasure" song, album or artist - something that you unironically love, doesn't reflect your usual music taste and are embarrassed to admit you enjoy?
(Mine is Miley's Party in the USA)
Any possibility of an MF Doom season in the future?
Hm. Love Doom. Never say never, but he's not top of list.
Hey Cole! I’ve been a fan of Dissect since late 2017, and it’s really inspiring to see someone put in the effort to try to understand the music that we all love. Keep up the amazing work!!
I know that it must be hard to try and remain objective given the politically charged subject matter of this season, but how have you kept your own personal thoughts out of every analysis? Also, Because the Internet for season 6?!
I always prioritize the artist's intention first. Understand what THEY are saying and communicate that. It's impossible to keep yourself totally out of it, but I do my best.
Cole, your work is the best! I find that the pod is like taking a class on all the albums I love. Like a class, I find you introducing me to new interpretations and ideas while helping my own thoughts coalesce into a better understanding of the album. Do you have some sort of education/working experience that helped you get so good at teaching in what’s practically an English class on Hip-Hop?
I loved college. Like LOVED it. I went for like 8 years in total, and the first four years or so I was just taking classes I liked without the intention of getting a degree. I was also a fan of The Great Courses, which are downloadable college level courses taught by famous professors. I structured Dissect after those Great Courses lectures, so it makes sense that it feels like a college course.
Hey Cole, I just started listening to the Dissect podcast and I'm really loving it so far. I'm curious, how would you rank the Kanye albums from your favorite to least favorite?
FAVORITES only, NOT best...to be clear : )
Yeezus, MBDTF, 808s, College Dropout, TLOP, Graduation, Late Registration, ye
What does music mean to you and how has it impacted your life?
Music, quite literally, is my life. Aside from family, it has been the driving force of everything I do since I was 13.
What equipment did you use when you first started your podcast?
MacBook Pro, Logic, and a ATB2020 $100 microphone!
Throughout your researching songs, artists, and general background for dissect, what has been the most surprising or mind blowing discovery you’ve made?
The 2pac connections in S1 were pretty mind blowing. As was some of the harmonic connections on MBDTF. The beat switch in Nights and some of the secret stuff in Futura Free was also a great discovery. Every season has these moments, and I love it every time it happens!
Not to look past the season that hasn't even come out yet, but have you considered dissecting a female artist's album? Noname feels like a -- ahem -- no brainier.
I'll see myself out.
Haha. No Name is great. I've got a few females on the list...
How was it different covering an artist you had already covered in a prior season?
Should listeners listen to the first season before this one?
You've come a long way since IIRC you self-produced that entire season
You don't have to listen to S1 to listen to S5, as we're covering the main points of TPAB in E2 of S5. But it would give you much more context if you wanted to take the time to listen as DAMN. picks up right where TPAB left off narratively.
Repeating an artist has been great. I feel like I know much more about his thoughts and views of the world going in, and we are using his past work to inform his present, especially since they are all connected thematically.
favorite bob dylan record?
Depends on the day. Favorites are Blood on the Tracks, Blonde on Blonde, Highway 66 Revisited, and that live album where he performs all acoustic before playing electric for one of the first times. I think it was released with that documentary like 13 or so years ago.
Besides the Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, the rest of the seasons have centered around contemporary albums/artists, would you choose to dissect an older classic hip-hop album? For example, Illmatic, Life After Death, etc.
I'm curious to know your view, because it seems like there is a lot to unpack in those albums, as well as the storytelling being far ahead of its time, changes in production, etc.
Thank you and your podcast has changed the way I view music as a whole and some of my favorite albums and artists!
The audience just isn't there for older album, unfortunately. Maybe I'll try again one day.
You’ve inspired me to actually pay attention to all music and have really allowed me to appreciate a good artist. Couple questions:
What song “surprised” you the most when you broke it down?
Do you still have ties to Temple Coffee? That was my go to study place as a student when one opened in Davis.
yo! answered your first q above, but as for Temple, yes! I go there almost every day and still talk to the owner and GM regularly.
Hello Cole! With a background in Classical Music, how do you feel about the glorification of past composers in Classical Music?
Long time fan and excited for S5!
If I'm understanding your first question right, you're asking why old composers get more attention than new? I think it's because those composers were composing when classical music was its most relevant and impactful, the genre of music most were listening to at that time. Despite a lot of really talented composers still working today, they will never transcend the older composers because, for better or for worse, the audience for classical music is just too small now.
Hey Cole! I’m a Music Industry Student, and believe it or not, you’re one of the many people/things that influenced me to pursue this field of education partly because you’ve talked about how you made it into music school without being a “classically trained” musician in the traditional sense. Do you have any advice for someone trying to pursue a career in the music industry without actually being a musician?
Awesome! Hmm...as a musician myself, it's hard to have expertise as a non-musician in the industry. Perhaps management or the biz side of things. I would say be passionate, friendly, and work your ass off.
Is Kendrick Lamar the best lyricist of all time or at least the most complex lyricist of all time?
Hmmm. I don't think so. Kendrick's biggest strength is his conceptual ability. He's high up there on best lyricists list, but he's #1 at album creation and execution. In my opinion.
Hey Cole! love your work,
- In your personal opinion what are the best to worst albums you have reviewed?
Also best to worst album in terms of musical enjoyment for you!
- Favourite artist/ favourite song(s)?
thanks a lot!
I can't really rank albums in that way, because they are all phenomenal in their own way. I would say I still have the deepest connection to TPAB, only because it changed my life in more ways than one and was the original inspiration behind Dissect.
Hey Cole! How were you able to balance this and your day job? I recall in one of the early seasons you explained how you were doing Dissect almost as a side project. I’m sure you spent countless hours working on it while also working full-time and having a family. I just began working full time and eventually would like to be able to try some sort of side-project that’ll at some point grow into a full-time gig. What was that like? Any tips to survive those long days?
Can’t wait to listen to S5 on Apple Music!
Just grind it out, man. It's not always pretty, but if there's a will, there's a way.
What are a few of your favorite film scores of all-time?
Eyes Wide Shut, Phantom Thread, There Will Be Blood...so many.
Hey Cole, any artists in the rock/alternative/indie scene you hope to one day cover?
Why do you think you’re so drawn to Rap/HipHop albums for Dissect?
Hip hop is most reflective of our time right now.
Big fan of the podcast and love the deep dives and light that you shine on the background of making the music and all the extra influences that listeners normally wouldn't be aware of. I've just got 2/3 questions:
1.) Why isn't this season about Lemonade, and when will there be a season about Lemonade?
2.) Do you think there are any contemporary white artists making albums worth dissecting?
Again, love the podcast and looking forward to Season 5!!
1) Lemonade was just released on Spotify recently. Until then it was kind of off-limits as it doesn't make sense to do an album that's not on the platform I work for. I've had S4 and S5 locked in for some time now.
2) Yes, definitely. I don't really choose artists with race, gender, or any other factor like that in mind. The music interests me most and will always remain top of list.
Is this the most complex rap album you've ever listened to?
Hmmm. Definitely up there for sure.
Is this your favorite season of Dissect yet?
Hey Cole! Your podcast is amazing, it actually got me through training for a marathon.
What was the most difficult musical concept for you to simplify for us lay-people?
Also, have you considered venturing outside of rap for your podcast?
The music theory stuff is always the most difficult, or requires the most thought. Rhythm people grasp easily, but when you start talking about key signatures and chord progressions, that's when I feel I could lose people. Hopefully most understand though!
Hi Cole! New fan of the podcast, you gave me a whole new appreciation for every album you’ve dissected. What’s your process when working with Birocratic to make the theme music for each season? They’re always so sonically on point (the Flower Boy theme sounds like it could’ve been on the album) and I find some of the instrumentals getting stuck in my head on a regular basis
Great question! We've been working together since the very start. In the first two seasons, I used pre-existing songs as I didn't have the money to commission original pieces. When I joined Spotify in Season 3, we started creating original music that relates sonically to the album. I give him all freedom, but he listens to the album and draws inspiration in various ways. For S4, he chose the descending progression and fun instrumentation a la Tyler. For S5, he used reversed sound sources that is influenced by all the reverse sounds on DAMN.
Seeing how you were a Creative Director for a coffeehouse prior to pursuing Dissect full-time, I can imagine that your passion for coffee is just as strong as your passion for music/research. So Cole, how do you take your coffee?
Black, of course.
Hey Cole! Just wanted to say how much I appreciate your hard work with all of the seasons that you've done! I've done my first listen of S5 and I have to say I love how you pulled his older music into the storyline of DAMN, specifically Sing About Me. I like how you're already hinting to the cursed people snippet in FEAR.
What are some other albums that you think are as complex as DAMN?
Keep up the awesome work!!!
Thanks for noticing that. That was my co-writer Femi's doing. He's brilliant at finding those connections between all the records.
Hard to find other albums as complex aside from Kendrick's other work. He's just so gifted at narrative.
Cole if you had to pick 3 albums that haven’t been covered that you believe deserve it, what would they be?
I see what you're trying to do here...not tricking me!!!
Why is dissect not on spotify brazil? It'd be great to have easier access to your podcast over here and/or other places in the world.
Reasons beyond my control unfortunately.
Where do you typically go to research specific references from songs? I am mesmerized by how you present backstories of lyrics/musical compositions of songs you cover.
I do visit Genius from time to time. That's a great way to discover references. WhoSampled.com is also a great resource as it gives you all samples used in a song with excerpts. Other than that, just lots of Google searching!
Hi Cole. Thanks for the awesome podcast (loved tylers, frank’s, and kendrick’s seasons, hype for DAMN.) if you could time travel to a concert/festival from the past, what would it be?
Hm...seeing Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock would be pretty amazing. The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. Beethoven's first performance of his 9th Symphony...yeah, that's the one.
What is the best hip hop album you've ever listened to?
I don't really claim things the best, it's too complicated of a question to me. I'd say my favorite is TPAB, for very personal reasons.
Hi Cole! If you were to Dissect a non Hip-Hop album, which album would it be? Why that album?
Radiohead, most likely.
How do you feel about Fall Out Boy’s evolution as a band? (If you listen to them, reckon you might)
I never really got into them
Hi Cole, I actually just started listening a few weeks ago, so how lucky am I that I'm getting a new season this soon?
A few questions:
You've probably got this a lot since the announcement, but what was the decision to do another Kendrick album? (Apologies if you cover this in the episode as I haven't got a chance to listen yet)
I know this season just started, but do you plan to keep the show primarily hip hop centric, or do you think you'd expand to other genres in the future?
Are the episodes pre-recorded or do you record them weekly?
I really like these and hope you keep it up. The amount of detail you go into is incredible and you have me learning new things about songs I've listened to 1000 times. Who knew Pink + White was in 6/8? Not me! Apparently you! Congrats on the new season and I hope to see many more.
Hey! Answered your first two questions above. As for 3, I pre-record most of the episodes before launching. For instance, I'm currently recording episode 17 of Season 5 this week
As a huge fan of the podcast, and a huge fan of the Odd Future collective, who would you say is your favorite creative from the crew and why? I loved listening to you dissect the evolution of Tyler's persona and music, and the passion of Frank. Would love to hear your opinion on Earl as well, and the dynamic of other members such as sid and Domo.
Frank, Tyler, Earl. In that order.
Of all the Radiohead albums, which would you most likely take on for a season of Dissect?
Kid A or In Rainbows. Or OK Computer.
What's your favorite non-hip hop album you would like to dissect?
Hmm. A radiohead one, not sure what one tho
Have you ever thought about doing a season dedicated to Lupe Fiasco or OutKast?
Outkast, yeah. Or a mini series on Andre.
How do you decide what album you are going to Dissect - - - do you take into account the popularity of the album/artist and would you ever do a Dissect season on a lesser known album or artist?
Described this above, but in terms of popularity, yes, I do take that into account. Perhaps one day I'll do an obscure artist, but I'm very interested in albums that have significant culture impact, which means that typically have a large audience.
Hey Cole! Only discovered Dissect last year and I love it. I've never appreciated Frank Ocean as much. On average, how much research do you put in, per episode? Thanks , and really looking forward to season 5, EP 01 was great!
About 20-25 hours per episode total!
Hey Cole ! Big fan of Dissect, have been listening since day one ! My question is: when you are dissecting an album, and diving into it, what is your process like? What steps do you take to analyze and understand the art presented to you as a listener ? If you get around to seeing this, thanks in advance for your time !!
Hey! I answered this in depth above. Thanks!
Hey Cole, have you heard the unreleased Frank snippets and songs from YouTube?
No, I don't do leaks : )
What is your response to the people who have criticized your decision to devote another season to Kendrick Lamar?
Not much of a response. I made peace with that criticism long ago, when I decided to do the album earlier this year. I explained my reasons above, and if they can't understand or don't agree, all good. It's a free podcast, no one's forcing anyone to listen lol
Would you likely ever do a season on Yeezus or TLOP?
Yeezus is on the list someday.
Hey Cole! You have floated the idea of doing a mini series on individual songs from different artists. It seems like a great chance to dive into artists that are worth dissecting but do not have the cohesive story telling album that you like to focus on. Do you have any songs that come to mind when you think of this?
What can we expect in the future of the Dissect Podcast in terms of direction and potential mini series?
I'm thinking of ways to diversify the episode format. I'd also like to do more mini-series that don't focus on one artist, but rather a general theme that I can use multiple artists and songs to explore.
Hey cole, love the podcast. What albums by women would you consider dissecting in the future, as you said you’re working on it on Twitter?
Can’t wait for S5!
You know how secretive I am with this! Nice try tho. : )
Hey Cole! I was wondering if you had heard of the experimental rap band Death Grips? I feel like they would be a really interesting band for you to explore on your podcast as they explore a wildly unique form of music and have super interesting and dark concepts in their music
Yup! They live in Sacramento, where I live. I see the singer riding his bike somewhat regularly.
I was wondering why you didn’t talk about how the gender of the phone / voicemail operator changes from male to female in Flower Boy?
I just saw it as a technical thing that didn't have much thematic significance.
Are “BLOOD.” and “How Much A Dollar Cost” related? 😏
Hmmmm....I'll have my co-writer Femi respond to this one. Femi, don't give too much away! : )
Hi Cole! I was wondering about your thoughts on the state of classical music today, and whether it has stagnated at all in the last couple of decades. Side note: Have you heard of Alon Mor? A classically trained guy who's doing some wild stuff.
I think it's objectively declined not in artistry but in relevance. For better or worse, not many people listen to contemporary classical and its mostly reserved to academia. I think people could do a better job making it more accessible to more people. Academics tend to not be the most savvy when it comes to diversifying the ways they get their ideas out there. I would love to see more people doing YouTube videos and podcasts and recontexualizing classical music. We need to provide entry points for music people don't understand intuitively.
Hey Cole, How important do you think album art is to the way a listener perceives the album/song? What kind of effects do you think album art has on a listener? What is some of your favourite album art, and why?
You know, every artist I've covered put a lot of thought into their album art, and it usually, by design, lends insight into the record. It's not a coincidence these thoughtful artists are the same ones making the most thematically rich music today. They think about every detail in a way that most do not or cannot.
Some of my favorite art....DAMN, TPAB, GKMC, Section 80, Yeezus, Bon Iver, TLOP, Sgt. Pepper, Pink Floyd, all Radiohead albums (stanley donwood), so many!
Hi Cole, do you have any intentions of covering older, non black albums or sticking to recent albums that cover current issues?
Going back too far doesn't interest me that much. I'm pretty focused on recent history. And I think hip hop is most reflective of our time right now.
Thanks for doing this AMA, and for doing the podcast as well, TPAB, MBDTF, and Flower Boy are my favorite albums you’ve covered. It’s nice that the art gets this sort of recognition and respect that you deliver on your podcast.
Are there any albums or pieces of work you choose not to dissect and deeply analyze? And are there any projects that you’ve considered but didn’t go through with because it was too complex or there were too many open interpretations of it?
Thank you again brother, digging the new Season as well!
Thanks! I haven't, it's usually the opposite (not enough there to talk about for 30 minutes an episode). I would say with DAMN., we're leaving out a lot, only because there are so many religious themes that you could do centuries of backstory on.
Cole! "Kiss". Marry. Kill ---> DAMN., good kid, mA.A.d city, & To Pimp A Butterfly. If you have to choose, what do you do?
Haha...okay, I dislike this game but here you go!
Kiss good kid, Marry TPAB, and kill DAMN, but only because Kenny gets killed on the opening track. Thematic loop hole!
Around what age did you really get into music, particularly hip hop? Would you say your music interest was inspired by friends or family?
I've been listening to hip hop forever. My first CD was MC Hammer I think. Kind of hip hop lol. Family had a big influence in beginning. My dad would play Beatles and my mom would play Motown. A great mix.
Hey Cole! Love your work.
What is your favorite episode of Dissect? Would love to hear which one inspired/impacted you the most because I’m sure we all have our favorites. Personally, I’d say my favorites were Garden Shed and How Much A Dollar Cost.
Oh, good question. Let's see, I'll choose one from every season.
S1: u (though I admittedly haven't listened to this season since it released) S2: Runway Pt 2 or Power S3: White Ferrari S4: Garden Shed S5: XXX Pt 2 or Fear Pts 1 and 2
Hey Cole - huge fan of Dissect and think DAMN is an incredible choice. How do you go about selecting which album you'll focus on each season? Are there specific criteria or opinions you consider or is it more of a personal choice?
It's a mix between thematic density, cultural impact and relevance, and personal passion.
Hi Cole! In the incredible “i” episode from season one, you talk about the different ways in which the song was received as a single and as a conclusion to TPAB. Can you think of any other examples where a hit single from a concept album was understood differently, when viewed in the context of the album’s narrative?
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