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.

 

5 Current Clips to Froth On

Can you believe it? Being quarantined? It seems like there are varying circumstances all over the United States, but this eerie cloud of isolation and just a weird feeling in the air is ever prevalent. We could be hanging inside for a while, so time might start to move in slow motion. A lot of us are in the same realm that getting exercise and being active every day is a day well spent. While being cooped up, we can use this spare time we find ourselves with finding new love for things we do daily and get new drive that you might not have had. One of the things that people could lose sometime soon is surfing, and while this sounds trivial to some others hold it in high regard. Obviously it is a tad bit selfish to tote an activity so highly, but a lot of people find solace in the sea. A ton of us long for our time spent in the ocean, and with building stress and lack of other things to do this is something we look forward to doing. 

Nothing gets you excited about surfing like a good surf clip. The crux of this though: most surf films can get us chomping at the bit to enter the oceans vortex, try and get as low to the water as possible, or as high above the lip as we can. A proper surf clip is something you typically don’t want to watch if you can’t surf. However, why not just build up all this froth and excitement, so when you get back to surfing you are absolutely tweaking to get back into the water. It could be tomorrow (watch any SoCal cam and it looks like business as usual) or a month away. Start getting excited, sooner or later we will be able to get back the thing that brings a smile to our face even on our darkest days.

So here they are, 5 relatively short clips that will surely get you licking your lips for some water time. While most are hi-fi performance hammers (guilty, as that is always what gets me the most psyched), it touches all facets of surfing, from tubes to turns to tail-high punts. 

2019. from Ryan Callinan on Vimeo.

Ryan Callinan is one of the most fun surfers to watch on the CT currently, and is madly underrated. From a polished and powerful backhand to the things he’s done on the forehand that are hard to comprehend, this clip showcases Ryan does have the complete package. Filmed over a year and in all different locations, this should get you excited to just surf. Sure, we all won’t look like Ryan, but we all can try. 

For What It’s Worth from Layne Stratton on Vimeo.

Cam Richards grew up in South Carolina and has quickly became a household name. With a crazy WOTW entry on a board shaped by his pops (that was well over 7’ tall), Cam has been touted as a pipe specialist. What some may not have known, is that Cam also has a crazy air game, from stylish straight airs to oops to backside spinny things. It’s always nice to watch someone that might have grown up surfing conditions you may have. Anything is possible with determination. Getting that wave that Cam got last winter and making every section, however, might take longer than you’d like (it’d most likely never happen). 

Everyone needs a little spice here and there to reignite the fire. While most will not be able to surf a 4’10” as fluidly as Asher, it may trigger some curiosity as to riding alternative shapes. Watch enough Asher, Ryan Burch, or Bryce Young, and you might just pull the trigger on a fish or an asymmetrical or something even weirder. New boards make you draw new lines, and while we all don’t live by fabled point breaks and all don’t get consistently fun peaky waves, there’s no harm in trying something new. You never know, maybe you were born to ride a 4’10” twin fin. 

Parker Coffin has a great Instagram if you want micro-doses of form and high flying airs to live in your feed. From a tack sharp backside that found it’s stride from surfing the Queen of the Coast to huge laybacks, Parker surfs fast. If you are a goofy foot, nothing is more fun than watching Parker tee off on a roping Rincon right, carefully cutting back and placing powerful punches. Parker gathered the clips  and deemed it as a “surf bender”, something which just about everyone wishes they could be on the path to. Nothing is better than consistently surfing, because on one hand it keeps you happy, and on the other hand you get to sharpen your craft. 

No matter what boards you like to surf, or who your favorite surfer is, you’d most likely be labeled as a kook if you had beef with JJFs rail game (or any aspect of his surfing). Rewind back to his Margies performance or watch some clips of him at rock piles and Haleiwa and you’ll understand. John draws unique lines and holds his turns much longer than most, giving pleasurable viewing and often (attempted) replicas of his surfing. You’ll need a big canvas if you want to draw the lines anything remotely similar to johns, so you might need to keep this one on ice until the waves get bigger than you are tall.