In an interview with Forbes.com, Cole Cuchna discussed his hit new podcast Dissect, which breaks down popular rap albums.
Cuchna is the creator and sole producer of Dissect Podcast. The first season focused on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, with the second season analyzing Kanye West’s magnum opus, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
“When I graduated college, Dissect was a way for me to bridge my more classical analytic skills with contemporary music that I was playing in bands.”
Cuchna graduated with a degree in Music Composition and Theory from California State University in Sacramento. Cuchna wanted to give the hip-hop and rap he loved the same care and attention given to classical music, so he created Dissect.
“I always respected hip-hop. It’s a very valid art form. But I also know it didn’t get a very academic analysis,” says Cuchna. “I think that’s changing but I wanted to see if it could stand up to a more classical based approach of music analysis.”
After two seasons of Dissect, the answer is yes, and if you have not had a chance to listen, you should stop what you’re doing and start right now.
Each season of Dissect investigates the cultural and social implications of the time period of the album, assiduously examining every lyric of every song in serialized episodes.
“It has to have enough meat. It’s about selecting an album that’s going to be able to stand up to this kind of scrutiny.”
Since season two dropped in August of 2017, the podcast has been exponentially growing. Cuchna has had to consider the value of the podcast, which has grown over 450% since the release of the second season. There is an option for listeners to donate to Dissect’s Patreon account, chosen in lieu of advertising on the podcast.
“I could very easily have had advertising on the show but I thought the value of keeping it ad-free outweighed the money,” says Cuchna. “But now I’m at that point where there’s some real value to be had from it.”
Cuchna spends about 20 hours on each episode, since he researches, writes, records, edits, mixes and masters every episode by himself. With donations as the only form of income from this venture, he is considering partnering with a podcast company to help curb some of the costs.
But right now, he’s got a dedicated listenership that tweets at him with anticipation before each episode. He has partnered with visual artists like Hannah Sellers to see his words come to life in maps and pictures. And during each season, Dissect has collected donations to benefit charities like Compton’s Centennial High School music program.
“No one really seems to know a clear path to success,” says Cuchna. “Everyone realizes that it’s a future medium, but how exactly that looks long term, no one really knows what that is.”