Don’t Cling to Something Non-static

Everybody finds their inner peace and joy from certain things. When all has gone wrong, we can depend on this activity or thing to bring us happiness when we need it most. It seemed like in 2020 people needed this more than ever. Like stated in the idea above, there are two different types of these security blankets that we can lean on in a time of need. The first (and what we will not be talking about) is a thing. Things might be one of the broadest terms in the english language, but think of something tangible or I suppose even intangible. That was a bad preface, but these are the things (sorry for using the word again) that don’t require much effort and you can jump in from almost anywhere. This includes talking to friends, listening to that song or album, eating that certain food type or food spot, etcetera. These “things” can brighten up your mood quite easily, and are on one end of the spectrum of things that can bring you up. You might even have these at home or on the go with you, making them ideal for a quick fix or pick me up.

The second is something a little more complex. This is more of an activity- it typically is an activity that you have done all your life and once had to lean on to get out of a rut or to turn that frown upside down. The things we are really like to do, that have required putting in work overtime to achieve your status or skill level or level of comfortability doing it. It’s almost like breathing: second nature. Or something that even if you are not that skilled at, still brings a smile to your face (this almost falls into the “thing” category a little better). Now that this is getting written out, let’s preface this real quick: technically not everyone will have this. This is speaking to those who have sacrificed to be at the spot they are at today. The activity in which we are speaking of you couldn’t imagine life without it. Unfortunately, however, there is a certain disease that travels along with this activity. 

As you get better and better at something or even do something more and more, the expectations get higher. From both the outside and from the inside. It’s inescapable. Here’s a really base level example. You are a straight A student in school and you bomb a test (let’s just say it wasn’t an important one, as that makes the example even better). For you, you might be bummed out. How did I do so bad? What did I do wrong? Maybe it just wasn’t my day. Oh well, you remember it doesn’t do much in the long run as it really didn’t matter for your overall grade. However, now you may have to catch scrutiny from classmates gawking at the fact that YOU, mister straight A, failed it with flying colors. Then, if your parents find out, you have even more explaining to do. This was an interesting example to pen, but I think it gets the basic point across.

Back to your activity. The scenario above was to paint the picture of expectations. When you reach a certain level of anything in life, you start to set higher and higher goals and aspirations in which you would like to achieve. Which is great, why would you not want to get better and better as time goes on? No one would want to stay the same for years and years, still doing the same thing daily but not seeing any progress. That would surely drive one nuts. But, sometimes a step back needs to be taken. To experience the pure joy this activity gives you, you need to think about it in a static sense. Be thankful you can do X, Y, or Z. Enjoy the moment while you are doing what you love, and don’t worry about the performance. Just enjoy your ability to do what you have done all your life. Think about when you first started, and smile a little that as many years as it is later, you find yourself doing the same thing just as often with the same drive. Or think of those unable to do things that you can do for circumstances they couldn’t control.

Now you may think this breeds stagnant growth in the field. Sure, you don’t need to do this all the time. Sometimes, we want to see how good we can go or how our current skill set stacks up to the ability you have always dreamed of. There are times and places for this. It should be understood that if you are a little down, it might not be the best idea to put a lot of pressure on performance. On the chance you underperform, the two negatives will not make a positive. On the other hand, if you smash it your mood could be uplifted. It is a gamble, a toss up riding all on your shoulders. But back to the point: clinging to your favorite hobby or something you do quite often in a static sense leads to the most happiness. It is good to get used to envisioning it this way, as if you ever have an accident or something that pries you from previous ability or frequency in which you can perform it, you will surely be happy to just be doing it rather than not.

HIMOTHYS DISCOGRAPHY

Shameless self promotion for my budding music career. Well, it’s not really budding, but that’s not going to stop me from having fun with it! If you haven’t figured it out, when quarantine first hit I picked up the new hobby of making chunes. I first thought I also could pick up rapping, but was sadly mistaken. But the beat making definitely stuck. A 90-day trial turned into a 180 day trial (thank you Ableton for randomly extending my trial) turned into a 100 dollar purchase. I am locked in now. It definitely took up the bulk of my idle time early in quarantine when writing was a little bland and it has been so fun to learn and practice. Over time I like to think I’ve learned a decent amount and my most recent beats sound better than the older ones. Some time was spent looking for good sounds, some playing around in Ableton, and lots learning from others. I’ve talked about how fun it is here. It has led to some fun nights with buddies just coming over to vibe and try to lay bars over tracks. Or cook up a beat with himothy himself (Himothy & Friends tape in the works). I’ve actually put out a decent amount of music that I like. By the time I post this, I would have dropped a little EP every Friday of October for my birthday. And then a 7 track album of HITS right after. Give me some dap.

I just want to break down the discography since I’ve been making a bunch and they all have a little unique sound. What’s the point of making them if I ain’t proud of them and not marketing them? It would be pretty cool to somehow luck into a placement of ANY rapper. Or have more than 10 plays per song on soundcloud. This is highly unlikely (for now). So for the time being, just enjoy the sounds and to try to run up those plays because they are way too low. 

(The playlist below features picks from all my projects in a playlist, because posting all projects would make this post require too much scrolling.)

HHV1

The first pack of hits. This has my earliest beats that I thought were pretty good and wanted to put out there. Typically artists don’t start with a greatest hits album, but I did.

SPACE N SYNTH

The first experiment. This one just has a crazy ass sound like we are speaking to robots. If we lived in a simulation, this might be the soundtrack.Typically, you wait until you are solidified before you make your first experimental album. I did not. 

PERC 4 PACK

No melodies, just drums. This one hits pretty hard with big kicks and loud 808s. It was one of the easiest to make, a sometimes the simpler the better. 

HHV2

The second pack of hits. You can hear a little bit of improvement in comparison to HHV1. I try to use a ton of different loop styles to keep it fresh and diverse. 

CORONA COMPILATION

Some of my best work from locking in during a weekend. It has some of my all time favorites(for now). I actually cooked up more than 10, but these 10 were the cream of the crop. Others will trickle into different projects with some revisits. 

WEST COAST SOUND 

My best take at some west coast hip hop. The best track couldn’t make it because of copyright, which is a bummer. But it’s rap beats from the state I currently live in.

SENEGAL SOUNDS

An EP revolved around a splice exclusive pack. It features unique instruments and a unique sound native to the African country Senegal. It was one that I just ended up with 4 without noticing they were all from the same pack and added 2.

HEADS WILL ROLL

This is some early 2000s shit. The pack I used most was by Breathe Carolina, which you may be familiar with. This is so far the most off-beat music I’ve made (in terms of being away from hip-hop).

FLAVA

Warm vinyl sounds and the 90s. This is some boom bap Himothy style. My friend asked me to make one and I ended up liking the construction of the beats, so I made 5 more. 3 were unable to post due to copyright, so this was a small pack. 

SATIN SHEETS

My birthday wish was to have an R&B tape. It contained my first feature by my pal Jacob. R&B and hip hop are close in relation to beats, but the vibe is completely different. It also turned out a little bit more reggae. 

HHV3 

And now back to the hits. Like I’ve drilled into your head: different sounding beats and styles but the cream of the crop. The most recent himothy hits are always my best work. 

Far from a Sophomore Slump

Gunna Reveals Tracklist and Cover Art for New Album 'WUNNA' | Complex

New music has been coming out. A ton of it. I can’t say I’ve been super on top of it. Lately I’ve been heavy on the pods. But thanks to a couple friends with similar taste we always end up hearing about all the different albums and giving them a sampling. If there’s one positive to come out of quarantine, it’s that artists are not holding back as far as putting out music and interacting with fans. Whether it’s hosting live sets, playing unreleased music, or putting out smaller projects to hold you over until the next album drops, our ears are definitely getting a little spoiled. Honestly, a ton of huge names have put out some really good albums. Some have definitely put out some mid with hits mixed in. And others might have flopped a little. Overall, it’s all been pretty fun to listen to. If we are saying quarantine started in the middle of march, here are some artists that have put out albums you might want to check out: Drake, Future, Polo G, Buddy, Westside Gunn, Tory Lanez, and it goes on and on. But while some of these albums have been in heavy rotation, one has stuck out amongst all the rest.

Now I know this is extremely premature, but this new Gunna tape is that shit. As far as a little backstory on my personal following of Gunna (because no matter what music will always be subjective to someones taste and opinions): aside from songs he had been featured on, Drip Harder (his collaboration tape with Lil Baby) was the first time I was consistently hitting play on Gunna tracks. Fast forward to his “debut album” Drip or Drown 2 and to me it was a flop. The only song I paid attention to was 3 Headed Snake, one for the Thugger feature but also because it was charting at the time. While I know he has a ton of hits from mixtapes, we just aren’t talking about that right now. Sure, I loved his features that came out in between but it just seemed like too much of the same sound (I felt this about his tapes too, it had a *new* but similar sound and flow). I probably missed out on some good songs in between on that album, but it just wasn’t doing it for me. I tried to go front to back but couldn’t. But with Wunna, it really is just a whole different vibe. I took a small chunk of time Friday night to listen, and immediately thought some tracks were hot. Next morning I ran it front to back and my initial hunch was right: this album was hitting. Hard. 

While I’ve always liked Gunna, he has been way more of a feature artist for me. Add a verse from him over beats with a certain type of vibe and it’s a smash. Team him up with Baby or Thug and it’s a home run. He has a pretty good ability to match the flow of the beat, fast or slow, and can deliver catchy bars even if sometimes it takes multiple listens to actually decipher what he’s saying. On that first listen Friday night, I got through the first 5 songs in order, actually stopping in the middle of the 5th track (which was somewhat sacrilegious, as it was in the middle thug featuring on the track). I quickly couldn’t believe what I had just heard: four solid songs that featured Gunna on his own. I hadn’t looked up from what I was doing while listening, so I had to go back to find the 2 where I was really floored. Argentina and Feigning were the two tracks that really caught my attention, and I probably play them both once-to-twice a day as of recent (this has held true to the day this was posted: Wednesday). To me, the tracks where Gunna is solo on the beat are the ones that I really enjoyed for this project. And I think those first four songs are the hardest string of songs on the album. Other no-feature songs that are also getting a ton of playtime are Skybox, Met Gala, Rockstar Bikers and Chains, and Do Better.  

Gunna’s rise to fame was with a ton of his peers who are currently sitting with him on the upper tier of the rap game currently. I first heard both Wheezy and Turbo on Gunna and Lil Baby’s tracks. Along with Tay Kieth (think Yes Indeed), this crew has been budding for the past couple of years and now are go-to producers for artists both young and old. The same can be said about a Gunna or Baby feature. While some of their beats sound similar and always incorporate sounds they are famous for, the beats on this tape really are “outta here”. From crazy trappy robotic beats to beautifully constructed string samples, the beats selected by Gunna and his team really are next level. Along with this Mount Rushmore of globally recognized producers, we get a couple beats from a relatively less known Taurus,who has chefed up beats for Gunna and Thugger plenty of times. One of my favorite beats on the album Skybox was cooked by Taurus. Bottom line: some of my favorite beats of 2020 so far have been on this album. 

And to top off this album analysis, we must lastly give credit to Gunna again. First, for selecting features that really compliment him. Obviously we knew that Thug and Baby were going to pull up on a song or two. Travis and Roddy both also work well with Gunna and you can feel each of them feed off the energy of the other. Gunna on this album really finds different flows and cadences for his raps, and I think that is something that shines the brightest of all the stars in this album. He raps in fast paced pockets we aren’t used to hearing. Whether he is matching and going along with his feature, or completely going to the beat of the drums, Gunna is proving that he isn’t a one trick pony. Before this album I thought Gunna for me was purely a feature artist. I thought I would only toss Gunna on if I was vibing that auto-tuned style and barely-legible lyrics. Boy was I wrong! I have now been listening through WUNNA close to once a day front to back. And haven’t gotten tired of it (yet). Let’s see how long it’ll last. 

Morning Glory

No matter what could be going on in the world, no matter how thrown off or distant our normality may seem, no matter what day-to-day routine may be in store for us, one thing will always remain constant for some: coffee. The fuel for your engine. The love for the joe can definitely be set to varying levels. Wake up, turn on the Keurig, press a button, walk away, come back and BAM! Coffee ready for consumption. Everyones guilty of it, whether it was ignorance early on, ease of use, or finding it the only brew method at work. Maybe you were so hungover you just needed a quick fix (but if you are THAT hungover, it’s probably not going to do much). Some may take it to the next level with a method that requires multiple steps (french press, pour over, Moka pot, Aeropress, etc..). Some may buy pre-ground beans from Starbucks. Some may buy whole bean from the grocery and grind there. Some may scour to local and smaller coffee companies and buy beans from them. Grind all at once. Grind morning of. It doesn’t matter (but it kind of does). The thing that ties all this together is the love of coffee. Some see it as necessity. Some see it as luxury. Some see it as both. 1 cup. 2 cups (hopefully is the limit per day). Red cups (but we ain’t talking about sinking piss). Blue cups. For some, thinking of the cup of coffee the next morning brings a smile to their face (some may see this as concerning, but ignore that). 

We find ourselves in a strange time. It does become rather tiresome to keep talking about this mess our world has entangled itself in, but it is too real and too present to ignore. For a while, peoples normal routines and passions will be neglected. Better hope you can do what you love inside, or you might need a new hobby. Those who have not been completely confined to limited resources are blessed. But it seems as though at one point it will be a level playing field. Sure, you will always be able to go walk around or get outside, but activities might start to get limited. You have the control to keep it spicy. Last week, music was the center of the discussion for switching things up. No matter what, we will always be able to listen to music. This week it’s coffee. In order from least to most difficult (in terms of time, money, effort, and an open mindset), here are some ways to expand your taste and preference for coffee, and really tap into all the aspects of the brew.

Bean Variety (the spice of life) 

How to Buy the Best Coffee Beans | Bon Appétit

This is the beginning of the journey to coffee enlightenment. There are hundreds of thousands of different coffee beans waiting to get brewed into your morning cup. From different sourcing locations, to flavor notes, to brands, etcetera, the amount of options are endless. This is the very first way you can switch up your morning brew and try something new. At this point, at least in more populated areas, your local grocery store will have an array of options, from giants in the coffee game, artisan roasters, and even locally sourced beans (if you are lucky). With minimal time and effort (just grab em during your routine grocery run), this is a good start to expanding your coffee taste. Price depends on the beans you pick, but put it this way: most of the time, the more expensive it is the better it’s going to taste. This may seem foreign at first, but if you expand your taste you can tell the difference between a normal bean and a single origin. One last thing: flavor notes. It’s best to keep 2 styles in rotation, a tried and true and a wacky one. Your coffee will never literally taste like stone fruits or green apple candy, but the more exotic the flavor notes, the more exciting the first sip. 

Method of Brew 

8-coffee-brewing-methods-icons-set-different-ways-vector-5457824

How you brew your coffee is always going to come down to a personal preference in the long run. You are always going to have the way that you find is the easiest but still yields the results you have come to yearn for every morning. For some it might be a french press. Others a Keurig. Some run it old school and brew it by the pot. There are a handful of different ways to brew a cup of joe, with varying levels of dedication and time. While some may claim one way superior to others, this all comes down to personal preference. However, some brew different styles of coffee, so while taste may be preference, you can’t argue that a different style might be worth trying. While pour overs and Aeropresses might scare people based on the super precise method to the madness, one great switch up is brewing “espresso”. This is said lightly, as you would need to break the bank to make actual espresso. But something like a Moka pot is a cheap and easy way to get espresso-style coffee cheaply. It isn’t very expensive, and brews a stronger, smaller batch of coffee. Take it like a shot (RIP going out on the weekends) or water it down with hot or cold water for an Americano. Just be careful: drink too much and this might give you the shakes. This is just one way to switch up the process. French presses are also a cost-effective alternative to brewing, giving a similar style to a regular cup of joe from the pot or Keurig. 

Out Here Grinding 

Coarse Grind Vs Fine Grind Coffee - Espresso Gal's How To Guide To ...

People would believe you might take your coffee a little too seriously if you are grinding your beans freshly. But if they knew the cup it would produce, they would be believers too. The two easiest ways to level up your morning cup is buying higher quality beans and grinding them yourself. For this, you first would need to acquire a grinder. Electric or manual, it all does the same thing. It isn’t the worst coffee instrument to invest in, as you start to get higher quality and more tasty coffee, it is going to come in whole-bean form only. Sure you can get it ground at the location of purchase (hopefully), but this then puts a ticking clock on the freshness of the coffee (this is for sure some coffee snob thinking, but the facts are there). Grinding at home also lets you adjust the coarseness of the grind per batch. Certain methods require a certain coarseness. More coarse for a french press, medium for pot and pour overs, fine for Moka pots, and so on. Being able to give the process the required grind will again increase the quality and taste of the batch. And nothing’s more fun than hand grinding beans first thing in the morning. 

Mixology & Garnishes

What's the difference between the milk types? | PhillyVoice

At this point, if you have been drinking coffee for a handful of years, you most likely have how you like your coffee dialed. Maybe it’s black with a pinch of sugar. Maybe it’s a lot creamer. Maybe it’s a mix of both or neither. While you shouldn’t go too far away from what YOU like the most, there are plenty of options in which you can spice up your coffee without deriving too far from the original formula. Let’s say you are a classic coffee with a splash of cream type. In our current age, there are tons of different kinds of milks/creamers to choose from. Artisan creamers, almond milk, oat milk, macadamia milk (a personal favorite). Each has its own properties that transform your cup, but still keep it tasting familiar enough. Maybe you are about black coffee with sugar. There are so many different sweeteners and ways to spice up a black cup, that you might as well play around with alternatives to your go to. Even if you end up back to your traditional cup, you can’t say you didn’t try. Become a coffee mixologist and play around with different ways to transform that familiar cup to something of a cousin to its original flavor. 

Resourceful Rationing

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee in a French Press | GROSCHE

We’ve talked about getting creative, and let’s just throw a couple more in there before we go into the next idea. Cinnamon in hot or cold coffee can add a little flavor to a normal cup. Maybe warm up a chocolate chip or two and add that and let it dissolve. Simple and easy ways to add flavor to your cup (without super sugary simple syrup). But enough of this, let’s talk about being resourceful. This is sort of restricted to those with multiple brewing mechanisms, but can make sure you are never coffee-less or needing to leave the house to go get a cup. If you have a large french press, pour your first cup of hot coffee into your morning mug, and then place the remainder into the fridge. Boom, you have a supply of chilled coffee that kind of gets stronger and stronger the longer you leave it. Then go ahead to brew into your smaller french press to keep those morning cups piping hot. Have a Moka pot that makes a little too much for one sitting? Make your morning shot or Americano, and then later in the day make that iced Americano for the 2 o’clock kick. If you want to get crazy, add that leftover shot to your iced coffee supply to blastoff for the next 3-4 hours. If you make your coffee, you should try not to pour out what’s leftover. When you start buying nicer coffee, you are definitely going to want to get as much out of the bag before you buy another.

Artisan drinks Odd-ball Shit

The Strangest, Weirdest, and Downright Oddest Coffee That People ...

This is the end all be all for the purist coffee drinker. On one end is normal and on the other end is somewhat sacrilegious for some. Let’s start with the normal. Artisan drinks are what we treat ourselves to when we go out for a cup (at least I do). The go-to might be a cappuccino, a latte, or a flat white. Dirty chai, iced lavender, and the list goes on and on. There is a high chance if you try to craft these, they are not going to taste nearly as good as the coffee shop. But hey, that’s why they are a coffee shop. It’s what they do. But if you find yourself unable to support your local cup creators and want to play around in the kitchen, trying to imitate these sought-after sips could prove to be fruitful. Who knows, you maybe were a barista ad just never knew it. Now the weird stuff. There are ways to brew coffee that will have your family, roommates, and even yourself just saying “what am I doing.” Making coffee with a whole egg, adding cheese to your coffee, and the highly touted bulletproof coffee are all ways to really go into left field with your morning fix. If you aren’t someone with a super picky palate, you might as well try a couple just to add that level of uncertainty to your morning. The more you look into these wacky methods, the more you question your morning cup. However, don’t knock it until you try it. (Personal story time: I had tried a coffee soda recently [half tonic water, half coffee, a quarter of a lemon squeezed in] and it actually tasted great]). While some methods may just seem sacrilegious to coffee purists, if there is any time to sin it’s now.

 

Quarantine Quintuplets

Can ya believe it? Still locked down and cooped up. How quickly could the world absolutely be turned upside down. When this was first coming on, I never would have anticipated the extremes in which it has gotten to. Never in my lifetime have we had such strange and turbulent times. Where seeing friends and meeting strangers is a bad move. Going into public is frowned upon.  We are spending a lot of time with our house. Or an apartment. You might be spending time with family. Or your roommates. Or total isolation. Either way you splice it, every one of us is having our social sanity taken away, and we are unsure when it will come back (for good reason, I am no way against social distancing and quarantining). This time alone is going to grow stale quicker than it came on in the first place. Whether it’s working from home or just cruising around the crib, you might as well take some time to try new things. Yesterday, I tried this thing called “Coffee Soda”, in which I mixed cold brew with tonic water and squeezed a quarter of a lemon into it. You would surely only do that if you had been locked inside your house for 2 weeks. It actually tasted really good. As a coffee snob and coffee purist, I thought there was no way I’d like it. And that’s the point. We should be trying new things we never thought we would do in this quarantine time, simply to pass the time and maybe find new things to adore. 

Now is a good time to listen to good music. If your life were a movie (and not like IG clout-chasers saying “Yo, last night was a movie”), the pictures associated with it would grow tiresome quickly. But maybe if you put a fire soundtrack behind the monotony it could be slightly more tolerable. I imagine walking to the kettle to turn on the hot water for coffee as an example. If I sequenced that to Al Green, you would think it’s another mellow early morning. But maybe if I put it to some wild techno or heavy bass rap, you would think something different was going to happen afterwards. No matter what, the next thing that was going to happen was the grinding of the beans. But the music could make you think otherwise.

We all have our go to sounds and the music we bump on the daily, pandemic or no pandemic.  However, you might get tired of your normal wheelhouse of tunes, and be looking for something new to spice up the rotation during these quarantine times. So here is a small gift for all social distancing: I’m going to call it a 5×5. A pentagon. 5 genres and 5 songs from each genre. Maybe you’ll discover a new song you like. Maybe after listening to 5 songs, you might have a changed mind about the certain sound. Maybe you’ll still hate rap music. While there are tons of sub-genres and all that jazz (no pun intended), the 5 in this rotation are to the writers preferences: Hip-hop, Rock, Electronic, Reggae, and Blues. Hit play. Shuffling them is up to you. 

(If I can’t get the embedded player to work, here’s a list of the 25 tracks):

[Peso-A$AP Rocky, Cabin Fever-Wiz Khalifa, Murder To Excellence- Jay-Z & Kanye West, Gatti-Popsmoke & Travis Scott, Soundtrack 2 My Life-Kid Cudi, Call It What You Want-Foster The People, Up All Night-The War On Drugs, Easy Tiger-Portugal, The Man, The Longest Wave-Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lost In Yesterday-Tame Impala, Land Of Promise-Nas & Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Sorry-SOJA, Reelin-Iration, Stone Love-Pepper, True To Myself-Ziggy Marley, Wall Fuck-Flume, Runaway (U&I)-Galantis, Happy Violence-Dada Life, The Half-DJ Snake, The City(with QuinnXCII)-Louis The Child), I’m Still in Love with You-Al Green, Cigarettes and Coffee-Otis Redding, What’s Going On-Marvin Gaye, Pusherman-Curtis Mayfield, Changes-Charles Bradley]