Imogen Heap & The Generational Stars She Inspired

todaySeptember 27, 2021 32 2

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By Anna Keyser
Music Journalist

You may not have heard of Imogen Heap. However, you have probably already heard her music through other major artists. She has been considered the pioneer of pop, electro-pop, and samplings of her music has said to be influential in the cloud-rap scene.

Imogen Heap is an English singer, songwriter, producer and audio engineer. Heap was born in 1977 and was named after famous composer Imogen Holst.

This is quite fitting considering she can play over several instruments, composed Christmas carols for her elementary school choir at the age of ten, and started writing her own music and recording over it at the age of 13. She is the only female artist to have won a Grammy for engineering and even created a blockchain music database, called Mycelia, for other artists to share their work and enforce proper-pay contracts using cryptocurrency.

Heap has created music that touches genres from alternative, electronica, synth-pop, ambient and more. This is prevalent in the other artists that have been inspired by Heap, such as Ellie Goulding, Kacey Musgraves, Pentatonix, Mac Miller, Chloe Bailey and many more.

Among the most iconic samplings of her music are in Jason Derulo’s 2009 hit, “Whatcha Say,” and in Ariana Grande’s 2018 song “Goodnight N Go.” 

There was some controversy over Derulo’s version, and his meaning compared to Heap’s original message. However, there is no denying that the song was a major success, and Heap has also thanked Derulo and allowed the song “to take a life of its own.”  Ariana Grande had a viral YouTube video in 2013 covering Heap’s “Just For Now” and this initially led to a friendship between the two.

Other samplings of her work have also been widely influential in the cloud rap genre which comes from the genres southern rap and trap music. These genres both have characteristics of lo-fi and hazy beats. Creditors say that rapper Lil B and producer Clams Casino are the original creators. And popular artist, A$AP Rocky, also incorporated styles of cloud rap in some of his earlier work. To add on top of this, all of these artists have sampled Heap’s music in their work.

Heap is never done working and creating. In 2020, she released an app where she can communicate with fans and other local or smaller musicians to access demos, working ideas and other unreleased music. This project of hers during the COVID-19 lockdown reminded her of the most fulfilling things in her career which are writing and performing music.  

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Written by: allisonschroeder13

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