Top 100 Artists of the Decade: #1 Guillermo Scott Herren
The Top 100 Artists of the Decade list will be posted over the course of 100 days. On September 23rd, we will post one artist and continue every day until we unveil our #1 artist of the decade!
Please read our introduction to learn about our nominating and ordering process.
#1 Guillermo Scott Herren
Genius. Not only is Guillermo Scott Herren a musical genius, but we here at betterPropaganda are geniuses for picking him as our numero uno artist of the decade. The man has done so much musically that thinking about his catalog makes my head spin. He melds break beats, glitchy-IDM electronic, ambient jazz and creates a true hip hop style that is all his own.
Before we get too deep here, and because I've seen the 40-Year Old Virgin too many times lately, here's a joke to kick things off. You know how I know Scott Herren's hip-hop? He's got more aliases than Jennifer Garner! You know how I know Scott Herren's an IDM-nerd? He records his music on a computer he built himself*! ZING! Well, I suppose not everyone can be as funny as Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd—but writing the spotlight of our NUMBER ONE ARTIST of the last decade is a bit stressful, so please forgive me for cracking a silly joke. (Side note—Herren actually claims to be fairly computer illiterate in terms of using it to create music.)
Now, singling out an artist from an entire decade as the top dog is no easy task. On the surface, Herren might seem like an odd choice. There's no debating he has put out some stellar releases, but what makes him more special than Boards of Canada? More influential than Radiohead? More next level than LCD Soundsystem? While cases could be made for any of those artists to be number one, Herren rises above them because he's not just a one-trick pony with a great album (Mr. Murphy—no offense), or an artist who has mastered only a single particular style (Boards of Canada), and he doesn't come across as a moody and depressed individual who hates what he does, like other artists (Radiohead). That may come across harsher than is meant, as it should be obvious that all of those artists are where they are because of those reasons, and are very good at what they do. Herren though, is more than that.
Herren's influence is vastly diverse, but awfully understated. He enjoys what he does and puts out music that is emotional and honest but also uplifting. He has mastered so many different styles of music, and also continues to challenge himself, and take his music to the next level. The man is also a workaholic—ungodly so that you would begin to wonder if he ever says no to a project, except that his work clearly doesn't suffer. He began creating music in the late '90's under the name Delarosa (+ Asora), releasing a couple albums and handful of singles full of sharp, glitchy techno-IDM tracks. Then in the late '90's/early 2000's, the Delarosa + Asora project warped into his most successful project, Prefuse 73—while he simultaneously released music with his other main alias, Savath y Savalas. Prefuse 73 is Herren's most successful outfit to date. Under the Prefuse guise Herren has released two immensely influential hip hop albums, Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives, betterPropaganda's #2 album of the decade, One Word Extinguisher and the nice collective album, Surrounded by Silence. Savath y Savalas is Herren's acoustic-Spanish influenced project with Catalan singer Eva Puyuelo, whom he met while living in Barcelona. Herren also recorded music under the name Piano Overload and Ahmad Szabo, has released numerous remix tracks and produced loads of tracks for hip hop, electronic, indie-pop artists. Although stylistically different in sound, Herren's music is always incredibly soulful.
As if he needed to prove his ambition and dedication (and perhaps lunacy) any more, Herren hasn't slowed down one bit. In the coming year alone, Warp will be releasing the seventh full-length Prefuse 73 album, Everything She Touched Turned Ampexian, as well as an EP titled, The Forest of Oversensitivity. Plus, Stones Throw will also be releasing the latest Savath y Savalas record La Llama, with an additional EP titled Masia in 2009 as well. I remember reading an interview with Herren a few years ago where he said he was going to hibernate for a long time once his son was born—well those days have come and gone but Herren has never slowed down (though its that work that puts the money in his pocket for his kid). To make things even crazier, Herren has teamed up for several new projects, including Diamond Watch Wrists, a project with Hella drummer Zach Hill. The Diamond Watch Wrists album will also see its release in 2009 on Herren's mainstay label Warp Records. While you might think that's more than one person can handle, Herren is also part of a collective project of 1,000 musicians but a foundation of 13 (including—you guessed it—Herren) called Risil, who will be releasing a number of 12" singles in the year to come. Phew!
That is our number one artist of the last decade. He's hardworking, creative, driven, positive and reflective and just a tad bit insane. Oh—and he puts out the most amazing music, in case you didn't already figure that out. We wouldn't have it any other way.
- Nicole Coxe
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