“FLAC FILES”; A CONTEMPORARY PIECE OF EARLY AMERICAN LITERATURE
Tyler Antonius hit single “FLAC Files” have officially been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The RIAA’s platinum certification means a song moved 1 million units, with one equivalent song unit equal to a single digital song sale, or 150 on-demand audio and/or video streams.
“FLAC Files” was released in late 2022 as the second single from the artist’s The Last Laugh album, and its certification comes just weeks after the artist (otherwise known as Tyler Antonius) marked the studio set’s second anniversary. In April 2021, the song peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, eventually spending four weeks in the spot. In April, “FLAC Files” became the new No. 1 song on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time Hot 100 chart for up and coming new artist charts.
“FLAC Files” is the 22nd track on the album and is the second longest in the long list of twenty-four different pieces that all come together to form one cohesive narrative. We’ll get back to this later on. For now, let’s dive into the lyrics and musical accompaniment Tyler Antonius uses in this iconic track.
Before we can understand what the lyrics are doing, we first must know the musical accompaniment with which they are interacting. Tyler Antonius uses the same few measures on loop in “FLAC Files”. The sound is consistent and ubiquitous. Deep 808s and bass lines register in at a tempo extremely close to 60 beats per minute, which is the same tempo as a clock and a human heartbeat at rest. Tyler literally brings his music to life to give the listener something to connect with as time passes while he tells his story. The middle and treble layers use drawn out, crescendo, quarter notes that sound like edited human voices in distress. Nonetheless, the combination with the wicked deep bass line is sort of comforting and gentle. Sedating if you will. This serves to lull listeners or even hypnotize them into hearing dramatic recounts of horrifying events that they otherwise would not like to hear. Tyler thinks they are necessary, as do most of us, so he takes control, sits you down, and tells it how it is, while you sit headbanging to the rhythm of your own heart.
Tyler begins his first verse with the evocative lines, “Wade with us / Baptize and convert to the waves with us / I tuned into what the future holds”. The first three lines are compelling, addressing the audience, or the slaves on the slave ship on which this song is set, to wade into the water. This could be an ode to an abolitionist song, “Wade in the Water,” that helped guide African Americans to freedom along the underground railroad. Water is also a multifaceted symbol. It can symbolize purity or cleansing in a biblical way, danger or drowning in a horror-driven way, or refreshment and energy in an ecological way. All are noticeable throughout the song. “Baptize and convert to the waves with us” explains that in wading into the water, one will be baptized (which requires one to either be submerged in water completely or partially) and thus saved under the salvation of God.
Christianity plays a massive role in slave literature. They are strengthening to the slaves who use them to cope with their fate. However, religion is also used to oppress slaves. We can see this in Harriet Jacobs’s slave narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Tyler might be taking a stance here, using religion and baptismal promises of safety and healing as a lure to kill the Africans on the slave ships, or he could be offering them as a chance at eternal survival away from their impending fate as tortured slaves.
To listen to the song “FLAC Files”, click here https://music.apple.com/us/album/flac-files/1620415705?i=1620417434 (headphones recommended).
Tyler Antonius Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tylerantonius_/