Friday, April 27, 2012

Pop Culture Love: Young Sim and Ryan Innes

There isn't much I like about Utah.

Sorry to all of you who love beautiful Arches national park, close proximity to LDS historical sites, or access to the best snow on Earth. Those things have never really done it for me. I am living here because my husband works here—period, end of story.

But can we talk for a second about the music coming out of Utah right now? And no, I'm not referring to David Archuleta (though his longevity in the industry thus far has impressed me).

My two favorite Utah artists represent my favorite kinds of music. I have two musical passions that I've always kept separate: hip hop and soul music. Though, the more I think about it, they are actually two sides of the same coin.

Young Sim was first introduced to me through Sean Curran, a.k.a. Definit; they collaborate on hip hop records often, most notably on the song "Teach Me How to Jimmer," a song about then-BYU basketball player Jimmer Fredette. My three-year-old son can sing several verses of that song, if that is any indication of how catchy it is.

His music is outrageously conscious. I say outrageously because so many popular hip hop tracks focus on luxury, partying, or violence; Sim's honest, down-to-earth lyrics seem to fly in the face of that opulence. On his website, his biography states:

In his efforts to bring something new and tasteful to the world Young Sim decided to promote and make music with integrity. Have his life match his lips. Believing that music should be a reflection of self and that artist should hold themselves accountable for the power and influence they can have, Young Sim encourages artist to put more thought and emotion into the music they make.

I recently tweeted about Sim, having been moved by his assertion that he stuck with a job he hated (but needed) because "...that's what a Man does." I have dated and known so many guys who stayed jobless because they were "overqualified" for the jobs available, which frustrated me to the hilt. My tweet came straight from the heart:

Young Sim just released a new (free! downloadable!) mix tape, Honest Flows is All I Know Vol. 3; I listened to it every time I worked out this week, and I recommend the tracks "Unthinkable" and "Mama, I'm On One." I wish I could find the ultimate words to recommend him, because his music is fantastic. If you're a fan of hip hop, please try this song on for size.

On the soul tip, I have my husband's particular musical taste to thank for my introduction to Utah soul. And no, Caleb can not be found listening to soul music. He just likes music that soul singers open for.

Ryan Innes is a soul singer with a beard for miles. And not literally a miles-long beard, but a beard that he uses to his advantage—I look at pictures of him and just melt.

Photo by Nathaniel Ray Photography
His ReverbNation biography (written by Ashleigh Lohner) describes him:

If Michael Buble and Joni Mitchell had a love child raised by Jimi Hendrix and babysat by Norah Jones, that child would be Ryan Innes. His self-titled EP tastes like dark chocolate, smells like musk, and feels like silk. Ryan’s voice will dig deep into your memories and help you release emotions long repressed in a way that is new and inspiring. Not only is his skill as a vocalist impeccable, but his ability to express emotion is the difference he brings to the table—then serves with a side of pie.

When Ryan opened for the band Colors on September 11th a couple years ago, I instantly fell in love. His sincerity in performing is palpable, as is the honesty in his lyrics. He recently tweeted at @ryaninnes that one epic heartbreak has written all of his sad music. And you can feel that depth of emotion when you listen to his songs.

Soul music is often marginalized in popular culture, especially because of its origins in "the black experience in America." I have often felt that I was weird because I connected to it so hardcore; my musical background finds its roots in Boyz II Men b-sides and Motown classics, which you probably wouldn't guess by looking at me.

But Ryan Innes is a white dude, and he gets to the heart of soul music. That makes me feel like I'm maybe not so weird after all. His MySpace page has tons of stirring tracks, but here's his newest song to chew on.

Do you have any local-to-you musicians that I need to know?
Let me know in the comments!

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