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]

On Playlists: Different ways to carve out a sound.

A playlist is a special thing. It is a type of thing that can change your mood. Something that when paired with the right setting just feels too right. Crafting a good playlist is like striking gold. The less skips you have while a playlist flows speaks to how good of a medley of songs it is.

On Genres.

One way to categorize the sound you are trying to capture is by genre. For a lot (including myself), a certain type of music can set you in trance depending on the situation. A relaxed reggae or rock playlist helps ease into mornings and nights when needed. Guaranteed my Hip-hop and EDM playlists gets the amp up. Playlist that live in genres can sometimes get stale, when you are looking for a certain mindset across multiple genres.

On Locations/Feelings.

In a similar sense to above, for example would be songs to get you excited, across all genres. Some R&B songs can give you the same sense of a classic rock song. There are all different ways to pair genres and artists, like fine wine and cheese. This playlist in contrast to the genre playlist requires more curating. If you have filer based on loosely the vibe of the playlist or just add too much of some artists, it too can start sounding like a broken record.

On Driving.

Some songs just sound different in the whip. Whether you got some knocking speakers or just having windows down blasting with the sun roof ajar, it’s just a whole different intake. This playlist typically needs to be a medley of genres, also with a good ratio of bangers and cruisers. This paragraph is super bro-ey, but for kind of for a reason. There’s really nothing more obnoxious than playing music really loud, but sometimes it is necessary.

On Concerts.

A playlist consisting of concerts upcoming and already over can really bring back the classic sounds of live music. Even when not literally the live rendition, hearing those songs after a festival or concert can jog the memory bank to replay in your head, but the live version. If prior to the concert, it just makes you imagine how songs will sounds live, either to be blown or away or disappointed. Some people say you should listen to these playlists the days of concerts. That’s a hot take.

On Memories.

One of the coolest things about being a Spotify user is your year in songs: the top 100 songs of your year. There’s a good chance the songs you played the most will reenact certain memories, since you always had those tracks banging. Almost promised to have zero skips, this is an incredibly consist playlist to put you in a good mood while reliving the old memories and creating new ones.

On Artists.

Everyone has that one artist that makes the hair on his or her skin stick up. The one who can’t put out any bad music, and is played daily. This playlist is the one that doesn’t get old, and really makes a statement about the music you love. Play it on repeat and enjoy the sounds.

Random Thoughts Roundup: The Beginning of May Gray

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/June_Gloom

California has an interesting take on the beginning of summer. Back east, May signifies lots of neoprene shed, the slowing down of surf, and the warming up of the land. This was one of my favorite times to be home, since it was beautiful and far less crowded than summer (I sound like a grumpy loc). While it isn’t on the cook like winter can be, we still get plenty of surf. In contrast to this, May and June in California signify May Gray and June Gloom. Weirdly cloudy and colorless days fill up more than half the seven days of the week. While we do get closer to my favorite surf season out here (south swell season = lined up barreling lefts), there is still even a funk in the ocean. Often there is morning sickness that takes forever to go away, and most of the first south swells tend to be more walled than lined up. May 1st is this Wednesday, so it is right around the corner and we are slowly inching closer to summer. Closing out the month, I thought it appropriate to touch upon the last 2 weekends to regurgitate some random happenings and thoughts around my brain. I swear after this post, there will be more structure and thought put into them (still fuzzy from Coachella). Speaking of that lets enter rambling number 1:

Coachella reminds me how fun festivals are.

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My pal Noah feeding into the festival vibes.

Whether it is the actual festival itself or the company you surround yourself with during the weekend, it really is hard to match the kind of carefree attitude and sounds of a good festival. The sheer amount of good music and people all in one place makes it almost a dream. If my amount of Instagram posts doesn’t tell you enough, let me literally say it: I had a great time. With artists across all genres, awesome guest appearances, and the morning recaps (and rallies) before entering day 2 and 3, it truly is an experience I long to replicate literally one day after it is over. I sound pretty basic, but why isn’t there a weekend 3?

Bells ran in massive surf; goofy footers showed up.

I am really bad at fantasy surf. I currently am in 2 leagues, but refuse to pay for both purely because my passion picks always end up not working out. I had surfers I like on for Snapper, then took them off and put a more realistic bunch in for Snapper. All of my passion picks from snapper did well at Bells. After I took them off. While I ended up doing ok this contest, I was stoked with the sheer surfing done, specifically by my screw footed brethren. By the quarters, it was equally 4:4 regular to goofy foots. Ryan Callinan smashed lips smoothly while Medina and Italo surfed with speed and poise. I am going to save my finger dexterity by not going into detail on my opinion on the interference call. That rule needs to change. Anywho, the vertical angle Ryan was achieving and the backhand floaters that Medina was tagging sections with made me a proud goofy footer. While we didn’t see back-to-back goofy wins (Italo won last year), John and Filipe were looking in form the whole event. And plus, an all Hurley final should make the office on Monday buzzing with stoke.

Tons of new music.

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Current lineup: I have already played through CrasH Talk a bunch, hence the song playing.

On top of gaining new music to listen to from visiting Coachella, there have been quite a few notable album drops in the past 2 weeks. One major one that might not be my cup of tea is the Beyoncé live album and Lemonade making Spotify one of its new homes. The beehive is definitely buzzing after this one, and you’d have to think there could potentially be a new album coming with this type of rollout. On my side of things, we have new projects from two vets in the game. ScHoolboy Q has returned from a 3 year hiatus with CrasH Talk, and it is sounding like a good rap album. Just lots of rapping. And I love that. Other notable favorites from me include a new Wiz Khalifa album and Blackbear album. The couple I have not got around to listening to yet are Pivot Gang’s You Can’t Sit With Us and Hit-Boy/SOBXRBE Family Not A Group.

Boardie season is upon us.

As the season begins to change, so does the water. The times of no wetsuit tans and nipple rash (sorry for that image) are upon us. This one I will keep short sweet and to the point: nothing feels better than scoring (or just surfing in general) in boardies.

That about wraps up all the ramblings I have in stored in the membrane. I noticed some people checking out the site today, in hopes of a new post, yet I am lagging on this one thanks to last night. In the future, let’s shoot for 1PM PST for a new post to be live. I know the anticipation just kills.

2018: A Dynamic Year for Hip-hop Music

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The Good, Bad, and Ugly for Hip-hop Fans this Year.

Note: Lots of hyperlinks in this piece, so feel free to click away if you find yourself wondering what I’m talking about or want some more info on a certain drop.

Note 2.0: Here is a link to my Top 100 played songs playlist 

2018 might go down as one of the most eventful years for hip-hop in recent memory. From the beefs to legends reentering the game and the genre taking over the billboard charts, hip-hop is at a peak currently and is at the apex of mainstream popularity. Whether this is for better or worse is still up for discussion, but hip hop music and its stars have been in the spotlight for the majority of 2018. From Instagram famous face tattoo MCs to artists having large cultural impacts or giving back in huge ways, a hip-hop artist is always in the latest headlines. With a slew of new tunes coming out weekly and fresh releases for just about every style of listener, lets dive into the ups, downs, and bumps along the way of 2018.

Good

Big name drops

2018 would see some of the most hyped up releases from artists who are on the top of their game. The long awaited third studio album from Travis Scott Astroworld ended up dropping in august after being teased for what felt like an eternity. And it definitely did not disappoint. ASAP Rocky would also release a teased album in May, and while it might not be for everyone, TESTING definitely pleases listeners with its unique sounds and non-radio ballads. We would see Drake drop his 5th album, Scorpion, along with an A and B-side. At this point the only album left that had been almost an afterthought since its been rumored for so long is Tha Carter 5. Five years in the making, Lil Wayne would drop Tha Carter 5 and return to the upper echelon of rap. Just 2 weeks ago we received a Diplomats album (Diplomatic Ties), featuring 9 songs that sounded vintage and current all at the same time. Gucci Mane is dropping a project in December, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some industry giants had a surprise in store for us during the last month of the year.

Surprise drops

This year we gained lots of music that wasn’t necessarily advertised until the very last second. In the last week of May and the whole month of June, Kanye would produce albums for a slew of G.O.O.D Music artists, including him. Every Friday, we would be blessed with a 7-track album that usually ran about 20-25 minutes. The brevity of the projects played in their favor, and Pusha Ts Daytona is definitely in contention for AOTY among many. Many think the albums dropped around Drakes Album date of June 15, but we will get into that later. Along with these unexpected EPs, we received a joint Beyoncé and Jay Z album out of nowhere. Everything is Love especially excited listeners of streaming platforms, since Jay Z is not available on Spotify or Apple music. These are just a sampling of albums that came without any warning. Check new releases every Friday and it is guaranteed you’ll see something that comes as a surprise or had only a weeklong rollout.

New stars

While OGs had released a ton of new music in 2018, large figures in the rap game didn’t stop there. We saw the entrance of many new acts in 2018, most of which came from cosigns of larger artists. We can look to drake for putting on BlocBoy JB and Lil Baby. We can thank Young Thug for getting flows and cadences similar to him out of rising star Gunna. We also saw a rise of internet rap, specifically Soundcloud rap. Stars like XXXtentacion, Trippie Redd, Sheck Wes and Smokepurpp all came from a viral use of the music-sharing site. We saw crews who came together because of the Internet (YBN crew), and also artists who blew up thanks to their Instagram antics (6ix9ine). Like it or not, these guys are here to stay, and the internet as a whole has made it very easy to have your music heard.

Bad

Beef

This is a tough idea to dance around. While to a rap purist, beefs are apart of the game. And while I almost put this under the good, overall I think it can put a sour taste in the mouth prior to the altercations. While the Pusha T Drake mess was fun to watch, things just got a little too personal, with both rappers at fault. Another thing that didn’t sit well with most was drake claiming he could end King Push’s career with the track he had in the vault. Is there really a track in the vault? Few will ever know. This was corny, as Drake should of either dropped said track or just held the L for the rest of the year. Another form of beef that was frowned upon in 2018 was the social media beef that were often started for no reason. Majority of beefing in 2018 had no music or disses involved, and were just people talking trash on the gram and twitter. While this is still under the bad, I feel as though competitive sparing (that at first would seem to be beef but just a friendly competition) was inspired by the Pusha/Drake and MGK/Em disses. In November we saw Tory Lanez and Joyner Lucas go blow for blow. With 4 tracks and a pretty unanimous tie between the two, everyone enjoyed the MCs testing their flows and punch lines in the exchanges.

Sensory overload 

Having multiple albums to listen to every Thursday night at 9PM (west coast time) isn’t a bad thing, right? Overall you’d be a little silly to think this. The massive drops and large flux of music this year has been great for hip hop as a genre and has put on many artists. However, as a listener, it has almost started to become a tedious job. There are so many marque album drops a week that you are guaranteed to at least have 3 majorly anticipated drops to comb through. At first, it seemed like a blessing. Alas, it has turned into somewhat of a curse. If an album has more than 15 tracks it becomes more of a chore to listen to. One major drawback as well with all these drops is the longevity of some of the projects. We see some artist being shadowed by others (Mac Millers Swimming not getting the credit it deserved to due Astroworld being lined up on the same date). There are so many big name albums that we are always changing to a new soundtrack weekly. While personal favorites stick, people could be missing out on phenomenal albums due to listening to a release only once or twice and not really letting it age due to the anticipation of the project next week.

Ugly

Drug glorification/ Untimely deaths

Drug glorification isn’t anything new in the year 2018. However, this year certain drugs have risen to fame and continue to get shout outs in song lyrics steering people the wrong way. Xanax and lean have had a big year in 2018, even after taking the lives of some or spiraling the careers of others. While these will not disappear, you’d think people would maybe stop giving them the light they do in songs. It is nice to know in 2018 some artists are rallying against the movement. Sadly, in 2018 we saw 26 deaths in hip-hop, most notably XXXtentacion and Mac Miller (a longtime favorite of mine).

A Numbers Game

While we look at all the new releases of 2018 and multiple artists dropping more than project in the year, we can’t help but look at the labels and the numbers game that has really taken over the genre with the use of streaming. While getting all this music in one year is awesome and always having something fresh to listen to is a blessing, it can’t help but feel like there is a fine line of quality control being blurred. Personally, I don’t think you can really put out more than 2 albums in a year and think they are all equal bodies of work. We see artists take 2-3 years to put out one, and even then it still cannot live up to the hype. The music labels and musicians themselves are playing a numbers game. We find artists putting hits they might only be featured on to boost numbers, along with inflating the track list to help get to the top of the charts. We can look at a prime example of this in Scorpion. This album didn’t really sit well with me, because anything with a run time that long is hard to digest. On top of this, there seemed to be a lot of filler in between the tracks with substance. The Joe Budden Podcast touched on this in a recent episode, and brought up if it was cut down it could be the #1 album of the year. At first this is laughable, but if you take 12 or 13 out of the 2-disc album, you’d have a very strong body of work.

2018 has set up hip-hop for an interesting 2019. One must wonder if we are going to get projects shoved down our throat every week or it will go back to a less saturated genre just from the fact that anyone who is anyone has released a project this year. I believe people who typically take longer on albums and have a little more of an artistic approach (A$AP, Travis, Joey Badass, etc) will continue to space out projects, regardless of numbers or label tactics. However, a lot of the new talent I think is so accustomed to the workload and overproduction they will continue to put out project after project, giving their previous projects limited time to breath and really blossom. Whatever happens, plan to keep those ears open for the rest of the year as we await projects from 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, Offset, XXXtentacion, Ice Cube, Kodak Black, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, Method Man, and many many more.

 

Bonus: Take a look at these lists detailing 2018 hip-hop hits/albums

Complex top 50 albums (not exclusively hip hop)

HotNewHipHop top 30 (take a look at the comments, not many agree with the standings)

Billboard Year end Top Hip-Hop/R&B (Purely based off of numbers)