RIT’s academics are hardly the only thing that the university receives accolades for.
RIT has many student clubs and organizations that have been recognized for excellence both internally and externally. One such organization is Eight Beat Measure, RIT’s very own male A Cappella group. In April, Eight Beat Measure received the prestigious Contemporary A Cappella Society (CARA) award for best Hip Hop song, carried to glory by their 2016 album Polarized. For those of you who do not follow A Cappella closely, the CARA is the A Cappella equivalent to a Grammy.
Now, if you are asking yourself, “Wait a minute, Hip Hop album? Don’t A Cappella groups just do those silly barbershop quartet songs like in movies?”, you’ve never had the chance to see a modern A Cappella group perform. A Cappella is simply music without instrumental accompaniment. It can be any style of music from the Blues to Jazz to, yes, Hip Hop. To see Eight Beat Measure in action, check out their YouTube account. You can also listen to their music on Spotify, Google Play, and Apple music. This, of course, includes the award winning Polarized.
Polarized, released May 2016, is a collection of covers done by Eight Beat Measure. It has received a fair bit of attention, with their rendition of Usher’s single Scream has been streamed over 77,000 times on Spotify. That’s hardly their best performing song, either, with a song off of a previous release receiving over a QUARTER MILLION streams. Needless to say, the world has heard of Eight Beat Measure.
What does this album sound like, anyway?
It’s not what you may expect from an A Cappella group, especially the barbershop quartet version you may have in your head. It’s smooth, well produced, and thanks to some clever production, sounds like they’re using instruments where they use only their voices. It sounds like a hip hop or modern R&B album – not some sort of corny knock off of one. Of course, that is not to say the album is entirely formulaic, it has a style and charm all its own.
There is a strong element of vocal harmony, as is the expectation with an A Cappella group. These harmonies add rather than detract to songs originally sung by a lone vocalist, especially on tracks such as “Scream” or “Fascinated”. Even when a soloist takes care of the lyrics, the track does not seem empty so to speak. It sounds like there is a full band backing up each track, even though it is only the voices of the various members of Eight Beat Measure. This is best heard on their cover of “Uptown Funk”, which stays extremely true to the original version.
You might think that in the wake of all this success, that Eight Beat Measure would be more than happy to sit back and enjoy their success.
This could not be any further from the truth. The group is already hard at work planning what is next in the weeks and months ahead. In the short term, you can expect a new song to be coming out. Their new single “Forgiven”, originally performed by Kwabs, will be dropping soon. Further out, Eight Beat Measure plans on attending several international A Cappella festivals and competitions. Chief among these will be International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA), which will take Eight Beat Measure down to New York City. The group will be performing closer to home during the upcoming school year as well, so keep an eye out for Eight Beat Measure near campus.