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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

Quarantine Listens Pt.1

We have a lot of time on our hands. Whether we like it or not, we are going to be stuck in the same routine for a while. Working from home, not really leaving the house, and seeing whoever you live with all day long are going to be very real circumstances for the time being (and most likely quite some time after). If you dwell on it too much, you are going to bum yourself out. Remember: it is for the greater good. The quicker we oblige to social distancing and quarantine practices, the quicker we can get out of the very funky time (hopefully). With all this free time on our hands and about a quarter of the social interactions we are used to on the daily, you need some noise to fill the gaps. Music is obviously a great choice (and that, we will be saving for pt. 2), but sometimes we need to switch it up. Ever listen to a podcast? Well, now’s the time to start. Here are some recommendations per the writers interests and biases (with duration included, as some are into short-form and others into long-form):

MUSIC

The Joe Budden Podcast (Long)

This podcast got me through transitioning from working in places that required interaction with customers to working in an office space. While I have loved all my previous and current coworkers, there are certainly times where I just need to plug in and focus to get things done. I felt often that music I was familiar with I would sing along or get easily sidetracked. Locking into a podcast of just banter was one of the best ways I could effectively get work done (at the time, this was mainly copywriting so it wouldn’t side track my word flow on docs). The Joe Budden Podcast is predominantly a music podcast, starting with roots in hip-hop but now covering most everything music related (from releases to the business to specific artists, even to Joe’s music career). The more you listen, the more you start to know about each of the characters and get the jokes that often fly under the table. In it’s evolution, they also cover current events and just about anything that makes headlines. The JBP is for sure the podcast I listen to most, and haven’t missed an episode since 217 (they are now on 334). 

Dissect (Medium)

https://open.spotify.com/show/2b025hq3gJ17tQdxS3aV43?si=jmpKwZkRTjW_MF8Wgz0sYA

This music podcast differs starkly from the JBP. It’s main contributor is Cole Cuchna, a music nerd much like myself, but he is on a completely different level. Dissect takes iconic albums and breaks them down song by song, really taking a deep dive on underlying themes and even the construction of modern music. His selection is for sure Hip-Hop based, but covers some of the most critically acclaimed albums, from KDots TPAB and DAMN to Kanye’s MBDTF. I started with the Kanye album, and by the time I was finished I would argue that MBDTF is probably the best album of the 2000s. While some of it might be a little too in depth on musical notes and history, it does feel awesome to finish a season and have a whole new understanding of an album you already loved.   

SURF

Lipped the Surfers Podcast (Short-Medium)

https://open.spotify.com/show/6QZX2yvefx8sUdIWEeDa94

The first surf podcast I really took a liking to and since I’ve I listened and enjoyed every episode. The two hosts carry the show quite well, one a more average surfer and one an ex-QS surfer turned coach. They both typically tend to have varying perspectives, but always are crushing salt lagers (beers) in unison. Whether it’s contest wrap-ups, contest previews, fantasy surf picks, or the odd guests, they have classic surf banter you and your mates have. They definitely are tapped in to surfing, and especially that coming from their homeland (Australia). It is always nice to hear from the ex-QS surfer (Cahill Bell-Warren) as he has had a wildcard spot on the CT and has grinded the QS for quite some time. Now a surf coach, it’s funny to hear him talk either ultra technical as far as surfing or aussie-slang heavy about surfs or nights out on the piss. 

L8 Night with Choccy

https://open.spotify.com/show/6zEvoIxlqCO3UUrzoz9Yfh

Guilty bias since my dad was a guest on this one (you even can here me chime in on occasion), I actually had listened to the podcast before the invite was extended. The surf world is massive, and there is a lot going on in between the CT surfers, huge corporate brands, and just the culture itself. L8 Night and Choccy do a great job highlighting the more low key but integral parts of surfing’s upbringing. Whether it’s lifelong shop owners, people who steered some of the biggest brands before buyouts, or small groups of surf-minded individuals (companies or boardrider clubs), they cover it all. Both lifelong rippers and both currently working in the industry, it doesn’t get much more core. Whether it’s surf talk, brand talk, or just about anything surrounding the sport or the industry, these guys have the inside scoop.

BONUS: The Lineup and Forerunners 

https://www.worldsurfleague.com/watch/431187/the-lineup-with-dave-prodan?playlistId=431187&s1=watch

https://www.surfline.com/series/forerunners

I really like The Lineup. For me, I am guilty of listening to them all but really only love the ones based on the guest. One thing I love about every single episode though is the lightning round: 10 questions for the guest. My favorite to hear people’s response to is best & worst person to share a session with.

Forerunners is a Surfline-powered podcast that explains wave forecasts to their perspective zones. I couldn’t put it as a favorite since it covers everywhere, and I don’t need to listen to the east coast forecast if I ain’t gonna be over there. But I do love to get the most in-depth breakdown on surf if there is a forecast that looks promising.

Perspective

YNK (Medium)

Mike Stud has always been an artist I’ve been fond of since I found him. While I do like a ton of his songs, his personality at first is what sold me. I was tipped off by a friend to check him out around sophomore/junior year of college, and then fell into the vortex of his Tourings Boring series. One of the earliest vlogs for musicians (salute Wiz Khalifa with DayToday), it follows Stud and his childhood friends in all sorts of debauchery and trouble a couple of lower to mid-20 year olds could get into. Super loose, he was a party guy. When I listened to the first episode of the pod, I realized he had definitely made a lifestyle switch. Post break-up, Mike took his time to slow down and find himself, and in the process became very spiritual. He has taken the podcast platform to interview his friend circle and beyond: fellow musicians, top-level athletes, and entrepreneurs. You can cherry pick the people who you are familiar with, watch ’em all, or listen to their friendly banter when they are sans guests and just with the Steves. 

Airplane Mode (Short) 

https://open.spotify.com/show/14Lz5tpJshLyqUV4bDSdE7

Most of the pods spotlit during this post are in the middle or on the longer side. For me, I typically like to save podcasts for longer periods of time. However, there are some bite-sized podcasts out there that really give you a bang for your buck as far as quality content in a smaller package. While one that comes to mind is the NYTimes podcast The Daily, it recently got a little too corona crazy for me to want to listen to. The GQ podcast Airplane Mode gives you easy to digest tidbits of information, coming from all sorts of different people. From trainers to artists to writers, they all cover topics that they can transfer valuable info based on experience. From 30 minutes to an hour, with the odd long form podcast in there, Airplane mode is good to just get a quick fix. And I always gotta stay true to the GQ brand. 

2 Random 1s

The Nintendads (Short-Medium)

https://open.spotify.com/show/2L0Q8ut4bEk988B7y55H9t?si=2UR80Nb_TVO8Xll7GbGa1g

Here’s some shameless self(brother)-promotion. My brother recently beat me into getting into the podcast space (more on that potential later) by starting a pod with two of his closest friends. One thing brought them together when they were younger and it’s something they all still do currently, and that one thing is their love for classic nintendo games. Enter the Nintendads, as these 3 fathers chop it up about game news, express their biases, and overall just goof around. I gotta put some respect on the brozay, as they are only getting more and more quality. While I can’t always follow the subject matter, we all grew up on nintendo games, so the nostalgia just hits home. My one beef with theirs is that there is no video to go along with (while it is understandable since they do not live near each other). Knowing how all of them are, it would be pretty good to see their facial reactions to certain topics. 

The Medium Rare Podcast (Short-Medium)

This one is my newest discovery on the podcast front. It is for sure my guilty pleasure podcast. It is no way embarrassing, but sometimes I just think to myself “why am I watching this”. It pretty much details the late-night antics and clout-driven activities between 3 close friends with money. While I am sure if me and my buddies somehow attained a nice amount of loot and a social following, we would be doing the same shit. In a nutshell, it covers girls, going out, fashion, and food. The food part is definitely what first drew me in, as it is interesting to hear their opinions about different food scenes (although it is all very high-end dining, which I won’t be partaking in anytime soon). But like I said, I got sucked in and now am playing catch up. It will act as an inspiration for when we are off quarantine and back to sending it (that’s some shit they would say). This is one I’d say is essential to watch, just because you can see how close of friends they are based on the body language and jargon between them.