If you’ve ever been listening to a song and suddenly noticed a physical reaction, you may be one of many people who experience a phenomenon called frisson, (pronounced free-sawn), a French term meaning “aesthetic chills,” and it feels like waves of pleasure running all over your skin. Simply described as goosebumps or more casually as a skin orgasm, it’s the result of your brain’s interpretation of certain sounds.
Musical passages that include unexpected harmonies, sudden changes in volume or the moving entrance of a soloist are particularly common triggers for frisson because they violate listeners’ expectations in a positive way. The number of people who report this sensation varies quite a bit, with researchers estimating that between 55 and 86 percent are more prone to chills.
For some, the frisson experience seems so normal that it’s a surprise to learn that others don’t have the same physical response. Individuals who have never felt goosebumps from listening to music probably think those that do are a little crazy, but recently, experts starting digging into what exactly happens in the brains of people who get frisson.
And while the results aren’t 100 percent conclusive, they do provide some insight into this interesting occurrence.
Music Blends with Science
Published in 2016 in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, a group performed a range of tests to see how frisson affected everyday people. Over 200 individuals in the Boston area were asked to complete a series of questions to determine their emotional responses to music and then were divided into subgroups based on those answers.
After being exposed to music that was more likely to induce chills than others, the participant’s reactions were measured. Not only did some experience goosebumps, but other physical changes including increased pulse, crying, or a sense of losing time were also recorded. While personality traits were factored into this study as well, it was clear that ongoing research was needed to really uncover the roots of frisson.
Your Brain Matters
Another study was conducted by a team of individuals from both Harvard and Wesleyan University in an effort to really see what’s going on in the brains of people who react so strongly to music.
Groups of individuals who reported having frisson before, as well as those who had never encountered the phenomenon, were assessed using a diffusion tensor imaging machine. This equipment gives researchers a visual representation of just how each person’s brain is wired, so to speak.
The results were fascinating; those with frisson had more nerve fibers connecting their auditory cortex to their anterior insular cortex — essentially, the link between how they process sound and how they process emotions is much stronger than in others.
It’s still unclear if these nerve endings developed over time, potentially demonstrating that frisson is a learned behavior, or if some people are just born this way.
Additionally, other studies have connected this concept with something called Openness to Experience. It delves deeper into personality traits and hypothesizes whether the chills caused by music are really due to an emotional reaction, or if the sounds are processed in a more intellectual way. Some experts think that the desire to predict where a song will go, in terms of melody or utilizing mental imagery, leads to the feeling of chills once their expectations were realized.
Ultimately, individuals who, as some might say, “get off” to music are a lucky bunch. It isn’t every day that you can put on a song, have some chills, and feel like you’re transported to another place.
As more research is conducted, perhaps it will be uncovered that frisson is a learned trait, and soon everyone can start feeling their music as much as they can hear it.
A$AP Rocky Officially Charged With Assault in Sweden
When rapper A$AP Rocky went to Europe to start his Injured Generation tour, few expected it would end with him being accused of assault in Sweden and detained, facing up to two years of jail time if found guilty.
After an altercation between Rocky — real name is Rakim Mayers — his bodyguard, two performers from his show and two men surfaced on TMZ in late June. News quickly spread that “the rapper voluntarily went to the police” for questioning and was immediately taken into custody on July 3 — where he has been since.
Despite the Grammy-nominated rapper claiming they acted in self-defense, even posting video taken of the altercation, the Swedish High Court rejected an appeal arguing he was a flight risk.
Swedish prosecutors have now said in the Stockholm District Court documents that Rocky pushed the man, identified as Mustafa Jafari, to the ground.
Sources say that the rapper is being held in solitary confinement and that conditions in the jail were called “inhumane,” saying that “walking into that place was like walking into a toilet.” Those same sources claimed he was being held in a cell next to a mentally ill inmate known for throwing feces and sleeping on a yoga mat instead of an actual bed.
Swedish law enforcement even raided the hotel room of long-time manager John Ehmann, allegedly confiscating his cell phone and demanding the password to go through the contents. This is an incredibly odd and aggressive move considering Ehmann has nothing to do with the alleged assault.
“[Ehmann] was completely taken aback,” a source said. “[He] had no idea what this was about […] He never saw it coming.”
Hip hop artists and high-profile celebrities alike have expressed their support for A$AP Rocky ever way they could.
Fellow A$AP Mob label mate A$AP Ferg took to Instagram to express support, Tyler the Creator, ScHoolboy Q and Tyga have all either canceled planned shows or sworn to never play a venue in Sweden and stars like Nicki Minaj, Post Malone, Justin Beiber, Diddy, T.I., 2 Chainz, Lil Yatchy, G-Eazy, Juicy J, Kid Cudi, Tory Lanez, Machine Gun Kelly and Miguel have all gotten behind the #JusticeForRocky hashtag.
Joining in the #JusticeForRocky hashtag were big names like Shawn Mendes, Kris Jenner, actress Cara Delevingne, former NFL wide receiver Chad Johnson, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Naomi Campbell.
Now, even U.S. politicians have gotten involved. President Donald Trump has tweeted on behalf of the jailed rapper, calling on the Swedish prime minister to “treat Americans fairly.”
Very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act. Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States. I watched the tapes of A$AP Rocky, and he was being followed and harassed by troublemakers. Treat Americans fairly! #FreeRocky
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2019
The State Department raised concerns about the arrest and detention, urging the Swedish government to treat him fairly via a statement.
“There are certainly some facts about the arrest and detention that raise concerns,” the State Department spokesperson said. “We expect all governments, including Sweden, to treat American citizens fairly and with respect. … We hope to see ASAP Rocky and his colleagues back on tour and reunited with friends and family soon.”
Even New York Democrat Representative Adriano Espaillat has responded to the Change.org petition, telling the Associated Press via a statement that he would push to get the rapper home.
“I will continue fighting until A$AP Rocky is released from Swedish prison and brought back,” Rep. Espaillat said.
As of the writing of this article, the Change.org petition had just over 600,000 signatures and counting with a goal of 1 million.
Music, Cannabis and the Hollywood Walk of Fame
First conceived in 1953 and completed in 1961 on both Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, Hollywood’s Walk of Fame is one of the world’s most recognizable and visited tourist attractions.
Initially only awarded to stars of the silver screen, in recent years the Walk of Fame has opened up to other entertainment industry caveats, including musicians.
Cypress Hill and the Walk of Fame
In April this year, legendary rap group Cypress Hill received their star, making history yet again as the first Latino-American hip-hip group to be given a star. The multi-platinum selling group is the 2,660th star on the Walk of Fame.
The Southern-California band — B-Real, Sen Dog, DJ Muggs and Eric Bobo — have been at it for more than 30 years now and are still going strong with the release of their ninth studio album “Elephants on Acid” in September 2018.
“We are proud to honor the first Latino American hip-hop recording group,” Ana Martinez, producer of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, told ABC7.com. “They have been successful as a group for three decades and we know they will continue their success for many years to come.”
The group has long been linked with cannabis and have talked openly about their use and affinity towards it. The three-time Grammy-winning group with smoking anthems like “Hits From the Bong,” “I Want to Get High,” and “Dr. Greenthumb” go as far as to thank cannabis for their success.
“We love the star. It could have been a gold leaf, though, a gold weed leaf. That would have been good too,” said frontman B-Real. “This is going to be an altar for all stoners, for all cannabis culture right here. Come light your candles, dump your blunts, dump your joints, dump your bongs right here, pray for a great harvest. Thank you very fucking very much.”
He told Variety cannabis use plays a big role in their longevity and health over the years.
“We’re medicating,” explained B-Real. “We’re eating clean. We stay in the gym. We never did party too excessively. We party, but it’s not every night and we’re not drunk and sloppy. Weed was the answer for us.”
“Being away from friends and family and the comforts of home is tough. Sure, we’ve had our disagreements like brothers do. Every band goes through it,” said B-Real continued. “Clearly, cannabis has been a big factor in keeping us together.”
Cypress Hill’s cannabis advocacy isn’t just for relaxing after a show. They’ve translated that support for cannabis into the incredibly successful LA-based Dr. Greenthumb dispensary where the group sells their own brand of specially designed Cypress Hill Bhang (CHB) line of cannabis products.
— Cypress Hill ™ (@cypresshill) April 20, 2019
Celebrities like Xzibit and George Lopez both turned out to the reveal of the star on April 18 and got on stage to congratulate the rap collective on their accomplishment.
“Their accomplishments and accolades reach deep in the roots and history books of hip-hop, and today is another chapter in that saga,” Xzibit said. “Yo, B-Real, Sen Dog, Muggs, Bobo: You are our Rolling Stones, Ungrateful Dead, you are the West Coast Public Enemy.”
“There’s a lot of actors, there’s a lot of comedians, there’s a lot of entertainers who are on [the Walk of Fame]. But there’s only one Cypress Hill, the first Latino hip-hop group. But to everyone who lives the American dream, not the last Latino hip-hop group to ever be on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.” Lopez added.
Cannabis-Loving Musicians Who Have Received Stars
Cypress Hill is the latest cannabis-loving singers to earn a star of their own. Huge names in the game like Snoop Dogg and Melissa Etheridge all have their own stars on the Walk of Fame.
Melissa Etheridge is a cannabis advocate who might fly under the radar for many. In fact, many were shocked when she was arrested for possession on the U.S./Canada border.
For Etheridge, her start with cannabis came after she was diagnosed with breast cancer more than a decade ago. Ever since she’s been a strong supporter of medical cannabis.
Now in her 40s, Etheridge has advocated politically and invested in the cannabis industry, using her voice to fight for patient access to medical cannabis.
You know what’s weird? Willie Nelson doesn’t have a Walk of Fame star.
Has the Woodstock 50th Anniversary Festival Been Canned?
The fate of the summer’s most hyped festival remains unclear after Woodstock 50 investors announced their decision to pull funding for the summer music event — and cancel it.
More than 100,000 people were expected to attend the event scheduled to take place at the original site at the Watkins Glen International Speedway in New York from August 16-18th.
The investors, the Dentsu Aegis Network, reported site readiness, capacity, and permit issues as reasons for the cancellation.
In a statement sent to Billboard on April 29th, the Network explained that, “despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and commitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees.”
As a result, the statement continues, “Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, a partner of Woodstock 50, has decided to cancel the festival. As difficult as it is, we believe this is the most prudent decision for all parties involved.”
According to the same Billboard report, more than $30 million had already been spent on the event, which includes payments to artists on the line-up. Whether those artists are still contractually required to perform remains to be seen.
Michael Lang, Woodstock co-founder, and promoter, told CNN that the Network’s decision to cancel the event undermines the festival’s organizers.
“It is one thing to decide for oneself that it is best to move on, but it is entirely another thing to try and close the door on us,” he asserted, adding, “Woodstock never belonged to Dentsu, so they don’t have a right to cancel it.”
Lang publicly expressed interest in finding the remaining funding needed to move forward with Woodstock 50. However, since Dentsu announced it would pull the plug on the festival, Woodstock organizers filed a suit in the New York Supreme Court on May 8.
According to Rolling Stone, Lang “[…] and other organizers requested an injunction that would, among other things, force Dentsu to hand over $17.8 million in disputed funds and continue work on the festival.” A hearing is scheduled to take place in New York on Monday, the site added.
The lineup was announced in early March and features headlining acts from both the Woodstock and modern eras.
The Killers, Jay-Z, Miley Cyrus, the Black Keys, and Halsey were just some of the artist set to perform alongside original Woodstock 1969 performers: John Fogerty, Santana, and Dead and Company.
Tickets for the three-day festival were set to go on sale on April 22. As of now, the Woodstock 50 official website reports that tickets will go on sale “soon.”
In the meantime, festival organizers remain hopeful: “Our intention holds firm. To deliver a world-class, once-in-a-lifetime festival to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. To honor a cultural icon that changed the way we think about music and togetherness… and will do so again,” according to Woodstock.com.
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