4 recommended reads from my 2021 reading list

The ever-growing collection: if you can’t see the title I haven’t read it yet. With only one left, I’m gonna need some more books soon.

If you happened to read my last post (shame on you if you have not), you’ll remember me referencing reading quite a bit. This cannibalizes my writing time, but to hone your craft of combining words, reading is the tried and true practice. Read all sorts of different books. Read all sorts of writing styles. Fiction. Non-fiction. First person. Third person. You get the idea. 

I like to think I might have some books on the shelf that those who read this blog might enjoy. Some recommendations from friends. Some I found on my own. All sorts of literature crammed together spine to spine. I decided to tee up a couple books you might want to consider opening: 

RAW by LAMONT HAWKINS

(https://www.amazon.com/Raw-My-Journey-into-Wu-Tang/dp/1250191173/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=raw+lamont&qid=1628609529&sr=8-1)

For my rap fans and biography junkies. This tells the tale of Lamont “U God” Hawkins, a kid growing up in Staten Island that would help create one of the most famous rap groups in history: the Wu Tang Clan. It’s just one of those books once you pick it up it is hard to put down. Also, you might feel a little extra fortunate about your upbringing-not having to deal with some of the same struggles Lamont dealt with.

(ALSO READ: LENNY KRAVITZ LET LOVE RULE– A similar tale of a star’s rise to success.)

THE ART OF RESILIENCE by ROSS EDGLEY

(https://www.amazon.com/Art-Resilience-Strategies-Unbreakable-Mind/dp/0008356939/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=ross+edgley&qid=1628609711&sr=8-2)

I picked this book up after hearing Ross talk on a podcast during one of my workdays. Here’s the skinny- the guy swam around Great Britain. You can only imagine the amount of problems one can run into while swimming 1780 miles at sea. A great story about never giving up and doing the unthinkable.

(ALSO READ: DAVID GOGGINS CAN’T HURT ME– Another strong minded individual [and much more known than Edgley].)

EGO IS THE ENEMY by RYAN HOLIDAY

(https://www.amazon.com/Ego-Enemy-Ryan-Holiday/dp/1591847818/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=ego+is+the+enemy&qid=1628609782&sr=8-1)

Everyone’s head inflates a little at some point in their life. Ryan explains the many benefits of putting hard-headedness to the side and embracing the underdog role. There’s a big difference between ego and confidence-and this book helps draw the line. 

(ALSO READ: RYAN HOLIDAY THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY– Kinda the sequel to ego is the enemy, it again hones in on perspective and the best way to embrace challenges.)

7 SPIRITUAL LAWS by DEEPAK CHOPRA

(https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Spiritual-Laws-Success-Fulfillment/dp/1878424114/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=7+spiritual+laws+deepak&qid=1628609841&sr=8-3)

One of my favorite books on my bookshelf. A quick, easy read that you can tailor to whatever situation in life you may find yourself. Read it quickly-read it often.

(ALSO READ: DEEPAK CHOPRA 7 SPIRITUAL LAWS AGAIN- It’s one of those books worth revisiting after a little time has gone by.)

A GREAT WAY TO SPEND A SATURDAY: BREAKING ROUTINE

In the normal 9-5 world, the weekend is the holy grail. Sundays turn into Mondays, and after Monday we are already wondering where the weekend is. Saturday and Sunday’s offer most an open slate for whatever they wish to do. Whether that be have some fun, better yourself, socialize, or have some me time, there is an infinite amount of choices you can make to spend your weekend. At least for me, they are pretty predictable in a sense: there will most likely be surfing each morning, potentially a workout and a run, and the nights of recent have been hanging out with my roommates and other acquaintances. Soon enough, the nights will be occupied with debauchery and suds. I can’t tell you how long this has been my routine. Sure, throughout my career work has been on the weekends in my retail days. But this really didn’t alter my schedule. It was everything I said above, all for the most part in my local neighborhood, and any open space was consumed with some of my activities I liked- reading, writing, making beats, watching videos, sunbathing etc. 

Sometimes we need to switch it up though. It might seem hard to believe, but sometimes I don’t want to surf. I do it every morning so you could see how some days I just want to do something different (obviously this is when the waves are small or look less desirable, because my fomo for waves is still strong as ever). Take some time off and start the day a different way. You see, I think everyone needs to practice this. We often get stuck in such a rut of monotony that we don’t even notice. And a lot of times it’s not really a bad thing to be stuck in a routine. Sometimes it feels good to have that familiarity. But oftentimes I believe you gotta switch it up sooner or later. Somethings gotta go different, even if you are seriously invested in whatever you are doing. Everyone needs a break.

First thing you can do is change the activity list. It’s always nice to try something new or do something you don’t do as often as before. Whether this activity is taxing or not is up to you. Don’t read a ton? Take a morning to eat some words before breakfast. Haven’t worked out in a while? Get the body moving and see if you get hooked again. Always eat out? Try and cook every meal for fun. Just try and shock your body and mind with something you don’t do often. This is really easy and doesn’t require much effort. You can also change the setting of where you are. Spend some time with yourself and keep it low for a weekend. It’s a pretty good way to reset and feel fresh if you have been taxed. I feel like I have spoken to this subject before, but just breaking routine is a great way to spend a day off. It might be not as comfortable or regular as your normal routine, but that’s the best part. The shock. Kind of like the first dip of an ice bath. 

Whatever, wherever, or however you plan to spend that weekend: don’t’ fret. There are plenty more in the year, and it’s not like they really go away. If you spend the weekend how you usually do that’s just fine. But at least acknowledge the idea of something new.

THE RAGER RETURNS: MOTM3

If you have been a fan of hip hop for the past decade or so, the name Kid Cudi does not strike you as a new gen rapper or a new face on the scene. Albeit he has “Kid” in his name and could easily be confused with another “Lil”, he is far from that. His first project, “A Kid Named Cudi” features some classic Cudder cuts that introduce you to his style and was an initial mark that Cudi would be a breath of fresh air in the rap/hip-hop genre. Following this project is what most would call his magnum opus: “Man on the Moon”. This would feature platinum hits like Day N Nite as well as Pursuit of Happiness. Cudi had arrived and been here to stay since this release in 2009.

Fast-forward to 2020 and we’ve heard a lot from Cudi (maybe almost too much), most recently was the Kanye-collaborated Kids See Ghosts, which received much acclaim. In between, Cudi had released Man on the Moon II in the early 2010s, delivering the classic Cudi sound we have come to know and love. But since then, it’s been peaks and valleys for most Cudi fans. WZRD, Satellite Flight, Indicud, etc.. share eclectic sounds and not your classic Man on the Moon Cudi. Some loved it, most hated it. Cudi was expanding his sound and trying new things, something most great artists do at some point during their career.

But with 2020 being a lock from quarantine and Scott having some extra time on his hands, he got to work. In the middle of the year we were teased with the trilogy to the Man on the Moon saga, and on December 11th we were blessed with a new Cudi project. Safe to say everyone was uber excited. Most didn’t know what to expect- since the only times they had heard Cudi recently were on the Kanye collab tape and on his #1 single this year The Scotts which featured the help of Travis Scott. So what would we get from Kid Cudi for Man on the Moon 3? All we could do is wait and hope.

Exactly what we were anticipating is what arrived in December. See the thing is, Man on the Moon 1 & 2 have the distinct Cudi sound- catchy hooks, half happy half sad, hum assisted, sneaky-bar-filled music we have come to love from Cudder. The intro of MOTM3 features a sound from the second man on the Moon album, and it feels like there wasn’t a 10 year gap that had starved the fans of the series. One of my favorite cuts, Tequila shots, plays next, and boy did I get excited when this song started. Cudi is back. I don’t want to deep dive into every track, as I want you to hear it for yourself. When I finished the album, I was very happy and content with Cudi. It made me revisit his old work, which is also still very pleasurable to listen to. He has truly lasted the test of time and has left his mark on the music scene in many genres.

But let’s focus on the new, and not dwell in the past. There are for sure some pretty classic sounding Cudi tracks, as well as some that feature more of Scott proving his rap chops. The main thing that I believe sets apart this project from the past 2 is just how much modern influence is involved in it. Enlisting his normal producers, he also tapped upon Take A Day Trip to help with production, who has made songs with everyone from Lil Nas X to Big Sean to Dua Lipa and so on. You can tell that the songs feature the classic Cudi sounds but often have modern takes like hard hitting bass and hi-hats. Also, this is the first time we really hear Cudi ad-lib on some tracks, a staple in modern hip-hop. But I think this is enough words and thoughts- if you haven’t listened yet, I suggest running it top to bottom, no skips, no shuffle. If that seems out of your wheelhouse, check out my favorites below. You won’t be disappointed. 

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.