ON MUSIC + CULTURE
WHAT MOVES US
This is where we share news and explore topics that magnify the Boss Sounds culture. It’s a way to connect the dots within our community and express what inspires and motivates us — most of all music, the original fire-starter.
October 19, 2020
Name, Image, and Likeness
The building at the corner of Spring & Bowery is significant not only because it set a record NYC private real estate deal selling for $55 million in 2015, but also because it belonged to photographer Jay Maisel. Known for his striking street photography, Maisel bought the six-story 72-room bank building at 190 Bowery in 1966 and it became his home and studio—a cabinet of curiosities that housed his massive, ever-growing collection of found objects. Today the tenant occupying the ground floor is retailer Supreme, and this is where our story arrives at the intersection of art and commerce.
In Spring of 1959, Miles Davis recorded what would become (and still is) the best-selling jazz album of all time: Kind of Blue. The cover art shows the trumpeter in a photographic image taken by Maisel. When SONY Music hired Boss Sounds to head up global marketing for the Kind of Blue 50th anniversary campaign, we began a commercial partnership with Supreme in a deal for a bespoke Miles Davis product line involving a trio of Limited Edition album re-releases including Kind of Blue, Nefertiti, and On the Corner, plus corresponding tees. In the process of navigating clearance for the iconic Columbia Records cover art, it came to light that Maisel was in possession of his contract for that 1959 photoshoot, and in fact retained copyright for any use outside of commercial music releases.
So, working closely with the Davis family and the Supreme team, the decision was made to use the photo featured on the back of the Kind of Blue LP jacket instead… and that’s why the collectible tee shows this alternate photo of Miles, in the studio and contemplative—an understatement that’s in step with the music so loved around the world. The result was a capsule collection that achieved both commercial and cultural success.
Fans can watch an 8-minute mini-doc featuring Miles Davis in performance with John Coltrane and the rest of his 1959 all-star band, along with interviews with Herbie Hancock, Q-Tip, Ron Carter, and more by clicking here.
June 30, 2020
2020 Hindsight, 2020 Vision
The first half of our year was framed by two letters written nearly 60 years ago by towering figures in American history and our American story.
Originally published in the August 1963 issue of The Atlantic Monthly under the title “The Negro Is Your Brother,” Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ resurfaced on January 20, 2020 in honor of his birthday and our national holiday—before the world’s population became subject to extreme conditions due to a global pandemic.
MLK Jr. wrote his 7000-word letter from jail (in the margins of newspapers for his lawyer to smuggle out) after being arrested for “civil disobedience” while leading a peaceful protest in 1963 Birmingham. In it, his assertions about nonviolent direct action gave us and continue to give us guidance to realize his dream:
“Actually, we who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.”
The New Yorker originally published James Baldwin’s ‘Letter from a Region in My Mind’ in the November 17, 1962 issue, and circulated it again on May 31, 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and those of countless others, in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests.
Throughout his life, Baldwin examined the root causes of systemic racism and articulated their effects in words that cannot be denied: “Color is not a human or a personal reality; it is a political reality.” He also wrote, “In short, we, the black and the white, deeply need each other here if we are really to become a nation—if we are really, that is, to achieve our identity, our maturity, as men and women.”
Here before our very eyes we have two black and white images of these men alongside their words, in black and white of course—written nearly 60 years ago, and revealing all their humanity—while we as a nation remain face-to-face with the very same black and white issue.
Once again we are being called on to unite. Because the reality is that we are either both winning, or both losing.
“The revolution will be live.” -Gil Scott-Heron
New York, New York
Whatever your style, we hope you’re staying in the groove. To kick off Memorial Day Weekend we’re sharing some ‘pre-pause’ snaps that we’ve accessorized, showcasing some cool fashion-spotting moments on the NYC subway. The soundtrack? We’ll go old school with #1 & 2, and pair them with The Five Stairsteps “O-o-h Child” followed by Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd St Rhythm Band “Express Yourself,” respectively. And then for #3 we’ll bring it forward to today with SAINt JHN’s “Roses” – Imanbek remix…
Hopefully this puts some spring in your step and reminds us all that we can brighten someone’s day simply through style and music. Check out Boss Sounds on Spotify and dig it! New Yorkers ride TOGETHER! #ridewithus #staygroovy #bosssounds #subwayculture
Until we can all ride together again, we want to send a huge shout out to the entire MTA staff transporting our essential workers each and everyday, and express our thanks for their tireless efforts throughout these challenging days, weeks, and months.
April 16, 2020
In 2017 we pitched Lizzo as our leading choice for a brand campaign at the world’s largest cosmetics and beauty company, when they could have partnered with her for a song. They passed… and went with an established artist instead, missing a bold opportunity to be ahead of trends.
Check out our presentation screenshot to see Lizzo’s social media following then, vs today.
Instagram – 68K vs 8.6M
YouTube – 26K vs 1.8M
Twitter – 27K vs 1.5M
Facebook – 45K vs 460K
Here’s why we liked her then and love her still!
“This Minneapolis-based bundle of energy – who hosts MTV’s music-first show Wonderland – has been performing since she was in middle school and her time in Detroit and Houston has inspired her singular take on soul. Her music video “Good As Hell” with opening lyrics “I do my hair toss / Check my nails / Baby how you feelin’? / Feeling good as hell” has 2M+views, and her Atlantic Records EP Coconut Oil is getting lots of attention. Her songs are filled with messages of female empowerment.”
How can we help you find the next emerging superstar for your upcoming brand campaign? Let’s connect. Tap our team >
March 31, 2020
This entry writes itself: Dance to the Music. I Want to Take You Higher. You Can Make It If You Try. Sing a Simple Song. Everyday People. Are You Ready? Stand! If there’s one artist that defines America in the late ‘60s-early ‘70s — before the brief years of integrated pop radio drew to a close — it’s Sly Stone.
Even in times of isolation, we can all still unite through the universal language of music. Like so many of you, we are missing the live concert experience. So we’ve been digging in the crates and decided to compile a list of live shows that we got to experience, and turn those setlists into playlists for YOU to experience.
Introducing our Setlist Series. We’ll kick it off with Sly and The Family Stone dating back to a rare appearance at B.B. King’s in NYC, November 2007. The revamped version of the band you see here includes the original saxophonist, Jerry Martini; the singer and daughter of “Sister Rose” Stone, Lisa Stone; and the original trumpeter, Cynthia Robinson. While the show actually ran under an hour and ended with “Family Affair,” we’ve added tracks that we deem essential listening, especially these days. And now a shoutout to Sly in Vallejo CA… we caught you smilin’.
February 27, 2020
Rihanna As Muse
Absolutely everything about this image jumped out at us as appealing. It appeared in Billboard magazine’s 2018 GRAMMY preview, when Rihanna’s album Anti was riding high. And what an undeniable album it is, coming from an artist who can entertain and get a song across like nobody’s business. Here she sits atop the mainstream Top 40 airplay list dominating its 25-year chart history. We simply had to tear the page out (yay for print!), and file it away in a folder labeled ‘things we like’.
Then after reading a fantastic article by Interbrand titled ‘Design as a force of integration‘, we understood how powerful design can be in unifying a brand’s experience. So we went back to that folder and re-discovered a fresh schematic. We certainly derived inspiration from this image in its entirety — the look, feel, color palette, wardrobe, style, players, and just the overall vibe. All of it informed our imagination. And what got us amped most of all is the musician front and center, along with her music. In short, Rihanna rules.
January 31, 2020
‘Going All City’
The NYC subway not only moves millions of people everyday, it moves culture, and it even creates a culture of its own. It unites us in ways we wouldn’t find anywhere else. It’s where we see people from all walks of life and discover bold fashion statements, popular trends, and individual style. It’s got its own blend of entertainers and musicians that play all kinds of music. It offers its challenges but the subway also offers us the opportunity to help a perfect stranger, or have a chance encounter that might last a lifetime if only in memory. And of course it’s the perfect place to keep pace with the ever-present advertising that surrounds us!
That’s why we chose it as a touchstone to communicate what Boss Sounds is about. It means navigating a universal, underground network that’s built to last, pumping the lifeblood throughout the hearts of every neighborhood in the city, and getting you from point A to point B faster, better, cheaper, safer.
We hope you dig the fresh Boss Sounds look…we’re ‘Going All City’.