Editor’s note: As part of CMN’s ongoing music journalism program, we asked our team of music writers to choose a single episode of a podcast about music to review . The choices were electric and interesting. Check out all the podcast reviews by browsing our music section.
Since August 2016, Cole Cuchna’s music podcast, Dissect, has, well, dissected some of the most iconic albums in hip hop.
Those albums include Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and Frank Ocean’s Blonde. Using his background in music theory, Cuchna examines and expands upon the music, just as historians and musical obsessives breakdown Beethoven and Mozart. He uses each epsiode to detail the background, meaning, and impact of an album.
I recently listened to an episode on of the most iconic female MC’s, Lauryn Hill. Cuchna focused on her most influential album, The Miseducation of Ms. Lauryn Hill. At first I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to connect with the album — being that it was about a woman — but he used a third person perspective.
Instead of opinion, he began with information: about Hill’s techniques, lyrics, and adhesive connection to the Bible. Beginning with the opening song, “Lost Ones,” he detailed the meaning behind the track name, the reason behind the song, and when and where the song came to fruition.
The podcast is not only insightful, but it makes it clear that there is a deeper meaning, as Chucna examines every verse and every beat.
I have been listening to Lauryn Hill for years and I learned so much about her in a 45 minute span. It was eye opening to realize that — even though this album came out in 1998 — twenty years later I could still learn that she used religious and scientific research to create her music. And that she was influenced by Wu Tang Clan debut album, Gladys Knight and the Pips, and Barbra Streisand to create her hit song, “Ex-Factor,” which played a big part in her success.
Cuchna manifests a story line for each song within an album in each episode of Dissect. He gives you time to digest all of the information during his break, and then gets you excited to listen to the analysis of the next song.
Even though Cuchna is a force to be reckoned with in the music podcasting world, he has to be careful with losing the listener. He has a very mellow, monotone voice that can become distracting. At times I didn’t feel inclined to pay close attention.
I also wish that he would branch out in other genres. To have the first four seasons of Dissect dedicated to hip hop is fantastic, but it would be great to have him expand to other music. Finally, I wish that he would include his personal connection to the music. He spends hours researching the artist and the music, and the album itself, but his personal interpretation would be insightful.
But ultimately, I have learned the perspective of the artist from Cuchna. I get to know the inspiration, the ideas, and the amount of work put into each song. He also taught me that there is much more to a song than a beat and lyrics, as well the strategy behind it.
I am a huge fan of his podcast and I will be an active listener in the future.
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