The definition of 'quality music' is constantly changing, and maybe it's time we start changing with it. | Dylan Sun/Mustang News

Annie Vainshtein and Steven Pardo
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Song recommendation: “Swerve … the reeping of all that is worthwhile” by Shabazz Palaces.

As we tread into our third quarter as DJs and second year of college, Steven and I have come to a scary but ultimately incredible realization: quality is dead.

As young, angsty teens, we ourselves dabbled in the dark arts world of experimental beat production via Garage Band. We both yearned to be the Ratatat of our squad. Clearly, it didn’t work out.

The sad truth about the future of electronic music and most rap music is that the barrier to entry is incredibly low — a toddler with an iPad could hurdle it. As such, we now live vicariously through ketamine-taking, Arizona-Iced-Tea-slurping trap producers, most of them born in a millennium distinctly different from our own.

We’ve thought a lot about this and have come to the understanding that the industry has shifted. Circa 2012, the empire fell and the Great Wall of Lil Wayne crumbled to its foundation. And from its ashes emerged a phoenix — one of sick drops and floppy-fitting bucket hats. As Kanye became mainstream, the underground filled with soot and people like Kreashawyn, Lil Debbie, Riff Raff, Danny Brown and Migos — basically all the “artists” you hear playing off of someone’s iHome at their parents’ house during a high school party you begrudgingly attend when you’re home for break — rose to the top.

It’s not about quality anymore; because anyone can have it. It’s about personality and lifestyle. Have you listened to a Mos Def interview? Probably not. The yuppies want spunk. The yuppies want edge. We want poorly produced EPs from guys who live in their mom’s basement in Fresno. We want them to be all about Dairy Queen blizzards, pre-looped samples, 2001 video games and Supreme Box logo hoodies.

Just as the modernist painters did in the past, these musicians are pushing the barriers of art. They force us to question our preconceived notions of beauty, lyrical prowess and aesthetics.

In 2014, Annie joyously attended a Yung Lean concert. In that same year, Steven voluntarily went to a Riff Raff concert in an effort to immerse himself in the underground music world of Los Angeles. Upon his arrival, he realized that what he perceived to be the cutting edge of art was none more than a get-together of young Pac Sun loving teens from Orange County — teens who didn’t care to do much more than drink Four Lokos and grind upon scantily clad members of the opposite gender.

We went to these concerts expecting more than a Tumblr meetup and were disappointed to find that even that was a bit grand in expectation. In reality, what we perceived to be the cutting edge was little more than fitter fotter for trash.

But that trash is gold. Because in the end, the fact that we don’t fit in is exactly why we love it. And why we’ll continue to go. Being a misfit isn’t necessarily bad; it forces you to reevaluate what you consider good and creative. In a world where all music sounds alike, these artists are expanding our cultural and musical horizons and encouraging all of us to take ourselves a little less seriously.

This is what makes it so human. Through it, we discover ourselves and realize that most, if not all, of our pretension is unfounded — that art isn’t about what you think you like, or what you think is good. It’s about pushing the limits of what you perceive and teaching you to be open to new things.

Keep your Versace eyeslits open.


Steven and Annie (Dude-Fil-A and Dunkers, show every Monday from 12-2 p.m.)

Correction: “Ketamine-popping” was changed to “ketamine-taking.”

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