KEEP IT ROTATING

Try and expand your music taste outside your normal flavors. Variety is the spice of life. This is something I really try to implement in my everyday life as much as possible. Sure, there are plenty of things I do that are incredibly regimented. For the most part, people could guess the meals I cook for myself, what I do every morning, and habits both good and bad I have absorbed overtime. But when an opportunity strikes to try something new, I am usually pretty keen on it. For me, it’s stuff like this: make a different coffee (both style and beans), pick something new off a menu, ride a different surfboard, try and surf different spots, and switch up workouts/wellness methods. You’ll never know if you are missing out on something until you try it. 

This principle/idea is ever so prevalent in something I do (and most of you probably do daily). Whether it’s working, driving, working out, or even just lounging around, you most likely have music playing. The only time I really don’t is when I am reading and when I am surfing. If I could have it playing while I surfed, I would. “What? Sorry I couldn’t hear you behind me I was bumping Savage Mode II”. Only in a dream world. 

Some may be scoffing at me talking about this, as I have always portrayed the image of a heavy rap listener. This is incredibly true. 90% of the time when you hop in the CR-V, there is some hip hop playing. For some reason, driving to rap is just something I can’t really let go. I don’t know if it’s just the best music for it, and I am sure not everyone agrees on that statement, but for me it’s just right. And if it’s not right, I don’t want to be right. Nothing pumps me up for whatever I am doing to do when I get out of the car like some of my favorite artists over hard hitting 808s and drums. 

However, when I am in the office (whether at the desk in my room or in the literal office), I typically have to keep it rotating. Even with the large amount of good music that has came out recently in the hip hop category, I still have been listening to music in shifts most of the time. An album of this, a couple hours of that, a podcast, and one last vibe to hop into before closing up shop for the day. The rotation keeps it refreshing. I have both playlists and saved albums that can easily take me from one end of the spectrum to the other. As soon as an album finishes or it’s time to flip, it’s a click away.

One main reason this is a really refreshing exercise for me is that in the hip-hop realm, I tend to stay in current times or even somewhat recent eras. Sure, every now and then I play older stuff. But not nearly enough as other genres. The way music was made ten to twenty years ago is so different it’s insane. And that is definitely half the fun for me. When I hop into my blues playlist, I hear Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, and Al green. All their music was made long before I was even born. The sonics and just feel of the music is largely different than that of the music of the 2010s. In other genres, a great deal of the material I listen to is older, and has some little nostalgia to an early time in my life. All the different sounds take me to different places.

My blues playlist is perfect for stretching and early mornings with little caffeine. My reggae playlist is a go-to for window down drives (when not bumping rap) or barbecues at home. My electronic music takes me back to my high school music taste and gets me fired up to tackle whatever in the right setting. My rock/“band” albums and playlist get me into a nostalgic era. Long story short: listen to different kinds of music. While you are at it, there’s not a better time to check out HIMOTHY BEATS, my producer alias. My catalog is growing quickly and isn’t going to stop expanding anytime soon. 

HAVING A FAVORITE SURFER

Having a favorite surfer (or athlete, in any sport) is something really cool. It’s someone to root for during contest time, study their movements, and try to figure out as much as you can about that one person. If you could do what they do even with an ounce of similarity, you’d be able to sleep great that night. While you obviously could work on layup packages similar to your favorite point guard or practice dribbling like your idol, I feel like surfing is one of the sports where you can really try to follow in the footsteps of your idols. There are enough factors to get you closer and closer to your dream. Sure, you can wear the same kicks as your favorite all star, but it won’t dramatically affect the way you play. Jump on a surfboard similar to your idols and you will be forced to draw lines that are dictated by the piece of foam. Then, you need to watch all your favorite surfers movements in hopes of imitation. If you look up to the same surfers as me, it is pretty obvious we will never replicate their form, as they are of the highest caliber of surfing. But we can try! Here are 4 guys I’d love to surf like (and sometimes try my best to do it): 

ETHAN EWING: HOW TO SURF

In 2020, Ethan Ewing is the surfer I would most want to imitate. With immaculate railwork, massive spray, and a relaxed style reminiscent of the surfer below, he embodies what my surfing goals that will never be. I’ve backed EE for some time now, and he is finally getting the recognition he deserves. (Mick ain’t too bad to watch either). 

ANDY: THE ONE

Andy was one of the only surfers that could consistently give Kelly Slater a run for his money during his heyday. Never backing down from a section and charging massive waves Andy had no fear. Next time I shy away from a section I’ll think how Andy will surf it and go full commitment on the next. 

BOBBY: BACKHAND ATTACK

One of the best backhands surfing has ever seen and one of the standout surfers from a wave that shaped my surfing (Rincon), Bobby Martinez surfs so tack sharp and is loyal to the rail. Jamming in 2-3 turns where most could fit one, Bobby surfs incredibly light, powerfully. 

MEDINA: THE FLY BOY

While Ethan is my surfing goals, it sure would be cool to be able to surf like Medina. One of the best tube riders in the sport, highest flyers, and has a razor sharp forehand and backhand. While people hate Medina for his out of the water antics and competition tactics, denying his ability would be pretty kooky. 

MY NEW FRIEND LARRY

So I might have a new favorite rapper. If this was a youtube video, the title would for sure be clickbait. I don’t think I’ll ever have a favorite rapper other than A$AP Rocky. But I do constantly have a rotation of new and old acts alike flowing through the airwaves. Sometimes I might listen to a ton of more artists than Rocky, but I just know he has lasted the test of time and always will be. But finding a new sound that you really mesh with is something special.

I have a pretty funny music group DM that fires on all cylinders just about everyday (I am apart of the problem). There is constantly someone dropping something in there that almost everyone scopes and has an opinion on. I can definitely say I’ve been put on to a slew of good music from the people in the chat. Anyway, if someone really is giving someone high praise and is ten toes down with an artist, I feel obliged to give it a go. I had someone who definitely meshes with most of the sounds I like (shoutout Tom) mention a guy by the name “Larry June.” He was claiming Larry was his best friend.

I was so confused, but had a little drive queued up so I took a playlist he made me and let it rip front to back. If I really am interested, it’s not hard to lock in and listen. And I usually give it a solid go if I am going to bother. I was about to listen to the whole 40 song playlist, no skips. By the time I was 5 songs in I was on it. This dude was sliding over the crispiest beats. I was so floored. This was going to be easy and enjoyable. As time went on, I figured out details that made sense why his sounds appealed to me so much and needed to call Tom to profess my love for Mr. June. 

There are two aspects of his music that REALLY make me ride with Larry June. And this is the first one: lyrical content. The things Larry raps about are things both so similar yet so distant to me that it is almost comical. Definitely a street dude that is rapping about cars, watches, money, and so on, there is a whole other side to his lyrics. Larry is pretty much a health coach to some extent. Adlibs like “Good Job Larry” or You’re Doing Great” are positive affirmations he is telling himself, something no rapper would be so vulnerable about. You also can gas yourself up off them as well. To double down, he raps about more literal health. Green juices, all organic, and smoothies often grace his beats. Going back to him rapping about money, Larry completes the wellness triangle with the third health: finances. Larry raps about how important having a good credit score is. He raps about owning property and business. He raps about worrying about making money rather than spending it frivolously. Larry is your health coach with some twang. He tells it to you in a language we understand and digest so easily: music. 

The second aspect are his beat selections. Larry has roots from both ATL and SF, two hip-hop areas of dominance. That’s the mix of beats and delivery that sounds so good paired with his bars. The producers he works with are some of my favorites. To sidestep, I grew up on Wiz Khalifa, so around the second listen of Larry I looked at the credits and it made sense. Cardo, Sledgren, and Harry Fraud. It’s been a while since I heard wiz on a beat by some of them, and I think it’s because Larry has been swooping them up. The songs sound so good in the car, as I am sure Larry made this a point as he loves cruising around. The beats also lend heavily to his features. It’s not uncommon to find fellow west coaster Dom Kennedy or equally-as-chill Curren$y on the track. 

Speaking of chill, the way Larry lays the bars over the beat is so chilled out and easy to listen to. Never is Larry rushing through the bars or losing the pocket of the beat. It sounds almost too easy to him. He really lets the beat breath. I think a way he can pull this off also are his array of awesome adlibs. After a couple songs you get the ad libs stuck in your head, and in the funny delivery in which Larry sends them to you. Larry loves to eat good. Larry loves mojitos. Larry loves to take girls to Benihannas. Larry loves Tito’s Vodka. And I love Larry. After listening to him for the whole forty songs, I knew exactly what Tom was talking about. Larry is also one of my best friends now. I think our friendship is meant to last. 

Meet Your Next Surfboard

Besides Asher Pacey, this is the benchmark for high performance fish surfing (Asher’s boards have a lot more high-performance attributes to them, whereas Burch rides more traditional fishes, what I am trying to get you on).

To keep something fresh, sometimes changes need to be made. Mindset, environment, etc. The list goes on and on. Some people might fear change. This is definitely a problem, considering no man or woman has achieved greatness by staying stagnant or true to their routine for too long. Sure, having something dialed feels good and if they are good habits and routines keep them going. But the old saying goes “variety is the spice of life”, so incorporating things outside of your comfort zone is essential for development. 

Hard cut. 

Everyone should own a fish. And no, not a gold or beta fish. A surfboard fish. It can be a twin fin or a quad fin fish. Ideally, start with a twinnie. If you happen to be my friend and ever talk about what board you want next, you’ve heard of this spiel. Unless you have a concrete image of the board you want, I always recommend a fish. A fish is classic. A fish has truly lasted throughout the test of time, and are having a huge resurgence. You probably see just as many fishes as shortboards in the lineup of recent (especially back home, where waves are tiny and weak).

There are two main reasons I recommend someone starts riding a fish. The first one is that it gets you in the water when the waves don’t look that fun. Personally, I think fishes tend to almost work best on medium to bigger canvases. It’s hard to fit such a wide and voluminous board in such small curvers. But having a short, wide, chunky twin fin fish can get you out there when it’s two-feet-and-firing. The glide these boards give you is unlike any other. The fish can help get you in the water when it is tiny. Take off and instantly you get a burst of speed. Catching waves is also a breeze, and you have to catch small waves first before you can surf them. Also in the bad wave spectrum, super fat reform waves are also the bread and butter for a fish. Generating speed easily and having the float and glide to get back to the power source or hop to another power source on the same wave are how the fish fries fat waves. A low rocker and middle to front of the board wide point help you catch waves and glide effortlessly. 

Now on the other hand, owning a fish and riding it in both good waves and bigger waves can really open a new realm to your surfing. Riding different boards forces you to draw different lines. And the line you can draw on a fish is a fast one. Whether it is highlining a section instead of going low or getting in front of the wave before burning speed going back to the lip are things a fish is more conducive to rather than your standard shortie. Since the board isn’t as sleek as your regular shortboard, having a bigger more slopey than steep wave really grants you a blank canvas to paint upon. Riding a fish in these waves makes it really hard to get back on a regular board afterwards. And I know I am not the only one who feels this way. 

The lines you learn to draw on your twinnie can really open up new routes and ways to plane when you hop back on a shortboard. Also in this same realm, getting the feel of the twinnie and then hopping to a quad fish will just elevate the ability to rip the same lines. Currently, I am stuck on quads. The amount of speed you can generate is incredible, and works quite well at walled beach breaks or gutless reforms (unfortunately the bulk of what I surf). Surfing your shortboards with the same flow and routine you might on your twinnie will eliminate extra pumps and help you draw cleaner, smoother lines. You will learn how to ride the contour of the wave for speed instead of hopping around pumping. In surfing, speed is your best friend. So gaining it effortlessly is always an added bonus. 

If you don’t have a fish yet in your quiver, get on it. This is for my friends on both the east and west coasts. Getting those sneaky fun sessions when no one is out (almost impossible in California but very apparent in New Jersey) really keeps the stoke high. The days when you don’t expect a surf and end up scoring a fun little 30 minutes or hour are when you leave the water with the biggest smile (only tied with when the waves are absolutely cooking). I know, surfboards aren’t the cheapest things in the world. But next time you are looking to grab a freshie, looks towards the fun twin finned fish to round out your quiver.

This is more realistic: smaller waves with no push featuring Mr. Burch.

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.