Tuning in live every Friday night on platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, viewers are met by a welcoming smile, luscious beard, and unashamed sneaker-head, O’Brian Martinez, otherwise known as OB (OnBeatMusic) — the host of Critique Fridays.
The Critique Fridays show is designed to showcase artist’s talent and to get immediate feedback from both OB and the audience. Songs are rated on a ten-point scale. The goal of the night is to find the best track that possesses the highest qualities of writing, recording, engineering, and playlist appeal. Whichever song meets this criteria is declared “Song of the Night.”
Every show has a limited number of slots, and it sells out almost every week as more and more artists see it as a valuable platform to get their music heard and commented on. Across social media platforms, the show attracts upwards of several hundred viewers, and sometimes highly acclaimed artists make an appearance.
While Rapzilla has spent years finding and promoting CHH artists, they are now producing some of the best and brightest up-and-coming artists through Critique Fridays. I recently spoke with OB — seasoned producer, music expert, and face and moderator of Critique Fridays — to understand the history, community, and aim of these weekly music gatherings.
According to OB, Critique Fridays first appeared in August of 2018. But OB had already tested the waters of live critiques prior to his partnership with Rapzilla, “I was already hosting live critiques on my Facebook page for a year or year and a half before we started Critique Fridays.” OB’s own show attracted a decent turnout, but when it went live with Rapzilla, the numbers were surprising.
“I did not expect that many people to enter the show,” OB stated. “That first day, there were at least two hundred emails in my inbox.” And while OB intently listened through as many songs as time allowed, the majority of viewers stayed on with him. This commitment is consistent for the online community every week.
“People stay on the whole time from 8:00 pm to 3:00 am,” OB shared. The audience presence is outstanding, and many artists find the experience rewarding.
According to OB, several artists have either enhanced or entirely made a music career from their interaction with Critique Fridays. Artists like Swaizy, NuTone, Corey Wise, JP KILLED IT, Miles Minnick, and others substantially increased their music’s quality, playability, and fan interaction on account of the show.
In part, artists are making better music because Critique Fridays is raising the bar for newer artists. As OB explained, “As Christians, we need to do things with excellence, and that is our motto. We want to challenge artists to grow, develop, and be more creative.”
OB went on to express that “we need to go back to when Christians were the art influencers. I feel like we went away from that for a while. We were looking to other influencers to inspire us to make art. But I almost want people to be steeling our model, our ideas, our excellence.”
He further articulated that “the world should be looking to us.” And this is precisely why OB is investing in the next generation of Christian rap artists through Critique Fridays.
In addition to Critique Fridays’ demand for excellence, it also has developed into a closely-knit community. What started as a show to get music heard has now turned into a weekly gathering of fans and artists all with a similar goal — make quality music. Any consistent viewer will notice the familiar faces that enter the live stream every week. And these same artists are sharing resources, suggestions, and encouragement. This comradery etched into the community is partly due to OB’s leading example.
As he shared, “I always encourage new artists to connect with other people on the show. We have producers, engineers, and writers that are all part of Critique Fridays.” In a sense, everything an artist needs to make quality music is found in the Critique Fridays community. From what OB has witnessed over the past several years, “People are working together, and we are seeing these artists grow, mature, and do big things.”
When asked about the value of Critique Fridays, OB pointed to the importance of artist development. “With the advent of social media, people rarely think about artist development. It’s all about the streams. Go viral. But that won’t happen on our show, because everyone in the chat is honest with you. They tell you where you might be weak, and they point to how you can grow.” He went on to say that “although it’s tough, it helps mold the artist, develop the artist, and helps distill who the artist really is.”
While Critique Fridays has provided a unique space for new Christian hip-hop artists to develop their talents, it has given its faithful host the ability to learn, reflect, and grow.
According to OB, “I am learning from this younger generation, and it is helping me become a better artist and producer.” He explained that he learns things, applies them, and then takes his success back to the community to help them grow and get better. While OB is the face of Critique Friday, he is invested to the same degree, if not more, than all who join.
Critique Fridays is a resource for new artists to stage their music to a live audience, and it is a space of a lasting, charitable, Christian community that strives for excellence. And it seems to have a place for everyone. Whether you’re a producer, engineer, graphic designer, or writer like me, Critique Friday might be the place for you. Besides, it’s always thrilling to witness and watch the untapped potential every week. So why not join us?
Tune into Critique Fridays live every Friday at 8PM EST on Rapzilla’s Instagram, Facebook, YouTube & Twitter. To submit a song to be reviewed, send your song MP3 to RapzillaLiveSubmit@gmail.com and read the reply email for instructions on how to get your song critiqued.
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