The Internet is an Omnipotent Force of Creative Influence
Evan Dale // June 11, 2021
The Internet is an omnipotent force of creative influence. Truthfully, this article could have ended after the first sentence – could have ended after the title – and it would achieve the same outcome as continuing on any further. We’re not talking about the internet, though its influence on the world, too, is monumental and historic. But, unlike, the internet, The Internet boast something unattainable even in comparison to the most dynamic human invention of all time. And that something is pure timelessness. The Internet are, for lack of what could be a better, or frankly more necessary term, a band from Los Angeles. They are also, frankly, one of the best bands of all time. By talent, by measure of influence on a modern scene and a future permanently tethered to their timeless present, The Internet have exploded from their humble roots into a genre-defying monolith of musical genius, social necessity.
An early detour from Tyler, the Creator led Odd Future’s roots, Syd – an impeccably crystalline soulstress and songwriter – and Matt Martians – a productive and percussive wizard often behind the curtain, act as the band’s bookends. And between them have also emerged only icons. Guitarist, Steve Lacy. Bassist, Patrick Paige II. Percussionist and mixer, Christopher Smith who himself is the only member not to have (yet) carved out deep notoriety as a solo act. Together the five – sometimes six when keyboardist, Jameel Bruner: younger brother to psychedelic six-stringer, Thundercat, is in the picture – are The Internet; together and occasionally alone, they tend to break the underground, instrumentally obsessive blog corners of the thing for which they are named, every time they make a splash.
And they do so often. As a collective, The Internet have racked up four full-length projects since debut album, Purple Naked Ladies first shined a light on their transcendent R&B, Neo-Soul, Neo-Funk grey area exploration in 2011. Feel Good came in 2013; the Grammy-nominated Ego Death in 2015; and in 2018, the psychedelically sunshiny Hivemind became an anthemic auditory exhibition of the warm-weather and lighthearted aesthetic.
Without any of the aforementioned four albums, R&B, Neo-Soul, and modern Funk music wouldn’t be what they are today. Frankly, hip-hop and electronica wouldn’t either per The Internet’s deep-seeded collaborative ongoing-ness with many of the most elite and transcendent names in their respective musical spectrums. KAYTRANADA is a consistent friend of The Internet, as are names ranging from Tyler and Vic Mensa to the late Mac Miller. Each and every one of them, a keystone influence across more than simply their respective stylistic fields, but also – like The Internet and the stylistic positions that each of their members represent – influentially transcendent in the fluid realm of post-genre.
At moments when taking into account the new Golden Era kind of renaissance that R&B is experiencing and has been experiencing for the last half-decade, it’s surprising that Syd has only released one solo album. 2017’s Fin was and is to this day one of the most musically dynamic and socially forceful albums to imprint itself on the identity of R&B as more than just the sultriest and sexiest of stylistic lanes, but also one of the most necessarily experimental and socially motivated in the early years of an R&B reinvention towards being exactly that. Brutal honesty and at times rain-drenched love stories have made the sound more relatable, and Syd is at the forefront of that. As a result, she’s also at the forefront of R&B at large, seemingly working towards something else for herself, and always working with other influential names across R&B and beyond – including, of course, The Internet.
As one of the more underrated names in the realm of largest influences on a modern musical soundscape, Odd Future founder and fellow founder of The Internet, Matt Martians has seen his experimental, funk-laced keyboard composition and programmed productions bleed into the ears of the mainstream from hip-hop and West Coast rap to global Neo-Soul and all of the grey are in between. A trio of groovy, psychedelically influenced projects stretching back to acclaimed 2017 debut, The Drum Chord Theory, have left him a cornerstone figure of timeless Funk and Soul fusion.
With his guitar, his voice, and his addicting adherence to not only a sound, but ultimately a personality that could have also allowed him to thrive as a 70’s flower child, The Internet’s guitarist, Steve Lacy is already a star in his own right. 2019’s Apollo XXI opened the door for him to explore the wide-range of musicality, stepping in a new direction from that of his work within The Internet, and harboring a more old-school nuanced, retro aesthetic than any of his fellow bandmates. 2020’s surprise collection, The Lo-Fis again put on exhibition an impossibly young yet impossibly refined artiste never settled in his sound, instead existing still fluidly inventing it as he goes.
Most recently to release their own solo project is bassist, Patrick Paige II, who again sidesteps the dominating soft-spoken and understated Neo-Soul blendaline of The Internet, and even of his debut album, 2018’s Letters of Irrelevence. Instead, with the aeronautical themed, If I Fail Are We Still Cool? Patrick Paige II delivers a thought-provoking and poetically-written hip-hop album – the most rap-oriented and unexpected, yet welcome album to come from any members of the group in solo. A raw lyrical performance, Paige II’s sophomore album is a microcosmic glimpse into the range of The Internet’s members at large, who now boast one of the most promising names in hip-hop as their bassist.
And in so many ways, the Internet is ultimately microcosmic of so much about the younger generations of creatives changing the creative and social dynamics across music, art, and culture at large. Genre is fluid, so is sexuality. Style is what you make of it. Black culture is finally rendered transcendent, rather than the generations of pigeon-holing it’s faced. Singers rap, bassists rap even harder producers sing, guitarists beckon of classic rock, and we’re just talking about the members of The Internet that have released solo work to this point. Even more of their slash-generation stylistic and social embracing fluidity will certainly come into focus as the years push forward. And as those years push forward, one thing is for sure: the unexpected is permanently expected across the timeless stylistic cloth that The internet influences with omnipotence.