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Alex Da Kid Has Unexpected Collaborator on New Song, ‘Not Easy’

Content provided by Rolling Stone and IBM

You have probably heard Alex Da Kid’s “Not Easy” by now – if you have not, take a listen below.

The song came out on Friday, and whether you’re an X Ambassadors, Elle King or Wiz Khalifa fan (or even if you’re not), you’ll probably soon have it on repeat. While you may or may not recognize the name Alex Da Kid, you may already be a fan of songs he has produced, co-produced or composed in the past. Given his track record for making hits, it’s not surprising that his latest song – and the first one on which he is a credited artist – is a catchy, emotion-filled earworm. What is surprising is that one of his collaborators was Watson.

“Normally, I start my creative process just like conversations ­– asking people really personal questions. Watson enabled me to do that on a massive scale.”

That’s right, Watson. You may remember Watson from his 2011 Jeopardy! appearance. In the last few years, IBM’s technology platform has come a long way, exploring cognitive creativity in fashion, food, movies and more. His collaboration with Alex Da Kid on “Not Easy” is his first collaboration with a music producer on an original song; he’s even credited as a collaborator. You might be wondering how Alex was able to work with a non-human on a project so personal – because what’s more human than a song about heartbreak?

Watson helped Alex understand the emotional landscape of our world today. He presented five years of analyzed cultural data in a way that meant something to Alex: through colors, patterns, textures and words, Alex was able to read the data in a customized way – a data visualization made up of colors, words, patterns and textures – that moved him. The visualization inspired him to think about heartbreak and emotion in new ways: “Not Easy” is the product.

“Normally, I start my creative process just like conversations – asking people really personal questions,” Alex explained. “Watson enabled me to do that on a massive scale. He’s looking at tons of cultural [themes] and social media and understanding tons of conversations and then providing it in a way where I could understand it. So kind of looking at that data and then going from there was an inspiration point.”

While making the song, Alex was given Watson BEAT, a cognitive technology that understands music theory, song structure and emotions in songs. He was able to experiment with this tool to explore emotional layers as he tried out different ideas.

If you think about it, Watson is a natural creative assistant for composers and producers like Alex. He was able to illuminate what was going on in culture, what music people like, what they’re talking about, how they’re feeling. The result is a song beautifully complex yet uplifting in its simple refrain and consistent, solid beat – a song we can all relate to. 

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