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. 

Use this time wisely

As I penned the opening bit to my last piece, I was dwelling on the fact that 2020 was the start of a new decade and one that was often romanticized about as “the future”. I lightly touched upon “…a virus spreading…” just as a casual reference to something that has clearly blown up since I originally mentioned it. Never would I think the next couple days would play out the way they have. With the cancellation of all and any events and asking people to gather in groups no larger than 10, it seems like a quarantined world is looming eerily upon us and for our own good there isn’t much we can do about it. With how rapidly this virus has spread and the media hyping it up more and more, it seems like following the “social distancing” protocol isn’t a terrible idea. Many things will take hits while others might be able to blossom. I think the outlook we need to have on this situation is one of untapped potential rather than forced confinement. Some of the things that might take a toll: social life, sanity lost due to being confined to your house for both work and leisure, and much, much, more. While many will view this confinement as extremely negative (in reality, it is, as no one should shield themselves from the outside world and not engage in social norms [also, the situation with the actual virus is extremely negative]). But let’s shine light on some of the positives we can establish from this. This is a great time to work on yourself. Whether that is expanding your taste in certain areas, gaining more knowledge (from any outlet you may find), picking up things you don’t do nearly as often or have never done before, or just critical thinking about your past, present, or future. Now is a great time for reflection. Try not to dwell on the negative too much. Keep it positive and inspirational, rather than dismal and down. Also try not to be down thinking about the things you could be doing if you were not on quarantine. There is no way around it, and disregarding what is seen as best policy puts you and also others at an extreme risk. And you should be thinking about others more than yourself. Most of the people reading this are not the ones worrying. As age grows, so does concern and wariness. While improving on yourself, you should stimulate your mind and social skills while reaching out to people you might not speak to as much. Your social circle is going to be small and repetitive for quite some time, so reaching out to friendly faces far and wide will help cope with the stress and current state of affairs. Talk more with your roommates. Learn more about the people you care about. With technology, we have communication at our fingertips. Use it (just not in over abundance, and if you need tips on how to reduce screen time, check this out [TLDR: read, write, practice something analog, exercise])! Although we will be inside a lot more than typical, get outside. Sit on a deck (if you have one), go for a morning or sunset walk, surf (which cannot be stopped, and I am pretty stoked to just surf a shit ton while on quarantine), or even just sitting outdoors and in the sun will feel a lot better than inside walls. Take this post as just tips and tricks to stay sane in this wild and erratic time. People will spin it many ways, some truthful and others far from it. Thinking in a positive and rational mindset will give you the most success and clarity. It is a strange time in all of our lives, young and old. But it will all work out. It always does.

A Great Way To Spend A Sunday: Feasting

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The end of the weekend was upon us. The impending Monday was looming it’s ugly head over the group of us. It was Sunday, and the sun had set. Some had worked. Some had surfed. Some were feeling great. Most were in rough shape. As we all sat in a semi-circle on a vintage couch, it was only destiny that all of us share one last supper with each other before the first full work week of 2020 slapped us in the face. After this pow wow we would split, and potentially not reconvene until the Friday that was miles away.  I already had an idea as to which meal was coming down the pipeline. All of us in need of something that is truly a treat for our taste buds. It was a meal my roommate and I typically used as a crutch to seal off the weekend in a delicious and flavorful way. It was off the beaten path, and required a short trip in a vehicle to get to. But the fruits of the labor would be worth it. 

As we crowded around the coffee table and mapped our orders, I knew calling it in would be a real treat for the lucky friend that would pick up the phone and dial. With all sorts of unorthodox names coupled with the person on the other line may not hear you clearly, sometimes it could be a challenge. We would dread calling it in. We decided on a trade-off system in which whoever called it in would not have to go pick it up. When push came to shove, someone had finally stepped up. Luckily, he was able to pronounce all the dishes correctly and just like that our order was put in. 20 minutes, said the lady on the other side of the line. It’s on. Looking back, calling it in was an easy task. But couple being tired and hungover and any small task can feel like a Herculean effort. We would play a couple more rounds of COD before we departed for the promised land. I would join my pal as copilot to steer him in the direction of deliciousness. 

I’ve done this pickup route many times. It takes at most 10 minutes to get there, usually is just a 5 minute pickup, and then another 10 to get back. A fraction of time to get to the source of the yums and enjoy a tasty dinner. This time was a little different. Nothing was looking out of the ordinary at first. We would make it to the restaurant in the usual amount of time. No clogging on the freeway and an easy exit lead us there in no time. Upon parking and entering,I noticed there was a family sitting down and eating inside. Typically, I have never seen more than 1 family inside eating in, and this is no different. The food is so damn good, but I can’t say we don’t think it is a little weird that out of the ~10 times we have picked up food here, we have never seen more than 5 humans inside. But I digress. All I cared about was the grab and go of the dishes we ordered. 

What went sideways was the wait for the food. We would enter the restaurant, and only see the family dining. No one greeting us at the door. No one in the kitchen. It was quiet. This isn’t particularly atypical, but usually someone would hear the door and emerge from the kitchen. When no one emerged from the kitchen, we would begin to hear some noise in the kitchen. It just sounded like the chef preparing the takeout meals. Surely someone would come out to check on the table eating in a reasonable time, I assured myself. A couple minutes go by and nothing. At this point the young boy at the table was having a ball watching me take different angles to look into the kitchen and see who was there to help us. I couldn’t see anyone, and wasn’t really feeling like walking back in the kitchen, so we waited. 

By the time someone had finally came out to greet us, we had shuffled through 3 of the bizarre songs accustomed to the restaurant, I became friends with the toddler at the table eating, and the smell of spices was starting to stick to my clothes. We had never had to wait this long, but also never placed such a large order. I joked with my buddies that we should eat in, but after sitting in there I am pretty happy that someone talked us out of sitting down. Something in there just isn’t right, and it only took me sitting in there for longer than 5 minutes to notice that. Finally, the food would arrive wrapped up and plenty hot. We would pay and carefully carry the bag out from the bottom. It was a ton of food, but everyone was pretty hungry. Back onto the freeway we went and in a moments time we were back to the comfort of my home. Before we could eat, I had to retell the story of the delay and the strange intricacies of the restaurant to those who have never been. But it was time to each. 

Chicken Korma. Chicken Vindaloo. Two Tikka Masalas. Two Garlic Naans. Tons of rice. It was time for the boys to feast. A quick 10 minutes of silence would go by as we all fiercely munched down on our meals. Everyone was clearly feeling better after eating, as we all were pretty laggy and unenthusiastic the whole time leading up to this moment. Sometimes all you need is a good meal. And sometimes all you need is good company. I challenge everyone to at least once a week host a slew of your pals in one place and chow down on some good eats. Doing it on the weekend sometimes ensures comical stories from the nights on the town or days sans work. Laughs will be had, stories shared, and bellies filled. A grand end to the first weekend of 2020. 


*I couldn’t get the Spotify sharing, so we are Sans HITR remix and Gatti

I’ve always been a fan of Travis Scott. Early on, I was hesitant to admit it, because for some weird reason you couldn’t be an A$AP Rocky fan AND a Travis Scott fan. They had some weird beef and people claimed Travis jacked his sound and rode away with it. Nonetheless, I would be lying if I said Travis Scott was not in my top 5 artists. I feel as though he kind of filled the void of A$AP Rocky music when he was quiet from 2013 to 2018. With Days Before Rodeo in 2014, Rodeo in 2015, and Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight in 2016, there was a lot of music to unpack in those times. Both of them have a similar sound, and really tend to go outside the box as far as beat selection and melodies. Plenty of artists passed on the Goosebumps beat, but Travis took it and ran. Recently, as we are gearing up for a new Travis album following his grammy nominated Astrowolrd, Travis teased a new “pack” featuring artists he has been putting on and have signed to his label cactus Jack. It is himself, his DJ Chase B, Sheck Wes, Don Toliver. It happened to drop over the Holiday weekend, and I was listening to it in the headphones and while driving. Here goes a song-by-song breakdown of the 7-song pack.

Highest in the Room Remix (feat. Rosalia and Lil Baby)

I’m going to keep it a buck: I probably won’t be bumping this remix more than the original. I really liked the second verse from Travis on the original. And as much as I love Lil Baby, he really didn’t fit the song. Having someone a little more vibey (this is a cringe worthy adjective) like a Cudi or Quavo or even keeping it in the label with Don Toliver would be a better fit in my eyes. The Rosalia feature also does not do much for me. We all have heard this song so I won’t beat a dead horse.

Jack Boys (Intro/Instrumental)

It’s an instrumental. I don’t want to dive too deep into something so short and simple. But it does provide a ~vibe~ that is felt throughout the project. Kind of ominous and anxious. Definitely a little bit of a bummer though, since this is one of the 7 songs on the tape. It is really a 6-song pack. It does blend well into Gang Gang.

Gang Gang (The Posse Cut)

I am not the biggest fan of Sheck Wes. Something tells me I’m not the only one that feels this way, so a song in which he sings the chorus could be a little painful to get through. However, this posse-cut-esque song that features all the JACKBOYS jumping in and is really the core of this project. Just some guys vibing off each other and sound excited to be apart of the same team. Going back in forth with no warning and going off each others flows.

Had Enough (feat. Quavo and Offset)

Don Toliver is definitely my standout on the whole pack. He was first really thrown into the scene with his feature on CAN’T SAY off of Astroworld. Sounding reminiscent of a new age T-Pain, he can sing with the best of them and also bar out. We hear him deliver the chorus on this song, and then spit some lines to flex the versatility. The beat is a nice touch, just as bit casual as catchy. Quavo and Offset come in and offer their star-studded features to give the song a nice twist. Both are similar to the flow of Don, and all 3 compliment each other, auto-tune and all.

Out West (feat. Young Thug)

This is for sure the standout track on the tape. And if it wasn’t we would for sure have a problem on hands. Travis and Thug together don’t really miss. Think of Pick Up the Phone or even more recently the HOT Remix just for evidence. The beat has a heavy bass and features Thugger on the hook. Add in a verse from Travis and Thug and it’s a hit. No more than 3 minutes long, it is the high point of the tape but goes by quite quickly.

What To Do (feat. Don Toliver)

Don comes in again on this song, with Travis as company. Travis sings the first part of the chorus, offering a drug-induced cry for help, while Don piggybacks off of this. This beat is similar to Had Enough, and compliments Don nicely. Travis can do it all, as he offers a slower paced verse similar to Stop Trying to be God or Skeletons. These two mesh together well with their tones and flows throughout this song in conjunction with the beat. This song much like CAN’T SAY is one people will surely enjoy and come back to.

Gatti (feat. Pop Smoke)

I am a big fan of Pop Smoke at the moment. From his hit Dior to his whole album Meet the Woo, I really like his voice and bars. They are very gritty and gruesome, much like his delivery on his songs. This song features a hard-hitting beat that you typically find Pop Smoke delivering verses over. We then get a Travis verse over this style of beat, and it sounds great. To me this was definitely more of a Pop Smoke song with a Travis feature. I am stoked he is getting some recognition, and surely will gain a couple more fans from this track.





My Five Favorite Albums of 2019

2019 in comparison to 2018 was definitely a lot less jam-packed. We saw plenty of artists go quiet in 2019, whether it was very little features or not a peep from them at all. Towards the end of the year, more and more people started teasing singles and projects slated for 2020. While a lot less albums were put out in 2019, some artists still dropped projects that were very pleasing to the ear. We saw many notable artists secure their first number one album slot upon release, debut albums that shook up the charts, and sophomore albums that slapped. I thought I would put out a top 5 list of the albums I found myself jamming out to a ton or were just overall easy and enjoyable to listen to. So here goes nothing:

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DaBaby- Baby on Baby

Fav 4: Carpet Burn, Celebrate, Best Friend, Walker Texas Ranger

This definitely would become a classic for my 2019 and also for a ton of others who I would show the tape to. DaBaby was relatively unknown for a little while, but this tape had minimal flaws. Add in the chart topping Suge and DaBaby has blown up so much you can find him on tracks with Camilla Cabello or J.Cole. Probably the feature king of 2019, on Baby on Baby we hear the first inkling of his easily recognizable flow and pronunciation. I honestly first listened because the album cover as so hard, and then heard praise from multiple sources. It would become the new artist for me to slap in 2019, and also grow with as I watched him go from the bottom to the top.

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Freddie Gibbs & Madlib- Bandana

Fav 4: Half Manne Half Cocaine, Crime Pays, Palmolive, Cataracts

Freddie Gibbs always delivers. For the hip-hop fan like myself, nothing disappoints with just straight bars. The only way it can get better is if the brutal bars are over big beats. Couple together Gangster Gibbs and Madlib and there you have it. The highlights would be all over ESGN. Freddie just talks his shit in the way he knows best, while Madlib lays beats that couple well with the braggadocios coke raps. We saw the chemistry on Piñata, and then had the two solidified themselves as a power duo on Bandana. I am very pleased because A) this albums is getting recognized as album of the year from some reputable sources, giving Freddie the shine he deserves and B) we are going to get served Bandana 2 sometime in 2020. 

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Benny the Butcher- Plugs I Met

Fav 4: Sunday School, Crown For Kings, 18 wheeler, 5 to 50

I maybe intended to leave only one slot of my Top 5 for bone crushing bars and great beats, but since it’s my top 5 I can do what I want so The Plugs I Met was definitely going to get its spot. Being put onto Benny after Mal from the Joe Budden Podcast gave high praise, this short 7-song pack was easy to listen to and sounded superb. Benny paints the picture he is rapping, as I easily could see the situation being depicted in his raw raps. Featuring legends Jadakiss, Black Thought, and Pusha T, the people who join Benny on the tracks compliment him perfectly. We then are given 3 songs with just Benny rapping, and it really lets the star in him shine. He and Griselda has been busy in 2019, so expect them to come in hot for the new decade.

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Young Thug- So Much Fun

Fav 4: Ecstasy, Surf, Circle of Bosses, Mannequin Challenge

Thug has always been one of my favorite acts to follow for his sheer talent in sounding different and employing sometimes almost non-comprehendible voices. While this definitely isn’t my favorite Thugger album to date (Barter 6 takes the cake on that one), it was nice to see Thug put together an album full of heat features and also see him clock his long overdue #1 album debut. While some songs are more tailored to be radio smashes, there are plenty of classic thug rhythms over hard hitting beats. Add in a Gunna and Quavo feature and you get a handful of songs in my Spotify top 50 for 2019.

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Roddy Rich- Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial

Fav 4: The Box, Perfect Time, Moonwalkin, Peta

This Roddy Rich album came in late in the fourth quarter of the year, but quickly caught my attention. I had been bumping Feed The Streets 2 a bit beforehand, and since it came out around the time I was playing him a bunch I immediately went in for a listen. Roddy has the ability to change his flow and tone in many different ways, sometimes even on the same song. He switches it up a lot, and actually can sing a hook very well while also serving bars about the grind and growing up in an impoverished neighborhood. While he has plenty of relevant features, a ton of my favorites have him alone on the track. I highly suggest checking this out and also Feed the Streets 2, as it features just Roddy on all the tracks.

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Rookie mentions: YBN Cordae- The Lost Boy + Pop Smoke- Meet the Woo

These two are my two favorite debut albums from two starkly different artists. On one hand, we have YBN Cordae, one of the youngest and most lyrically talented young guns in the game. This album, The Lost Boy would get him a grammy nod, as well as a cult following of fans that love the likes Pusha T and Kendrick, but were looking for a younger version. He overall seems like a humble fellow who is just taking in all the fruits of being a successful artist. On the other end of the spectrum, we have Pop Smokes debut album Meet the Woo. The Traphouse Mob delivers ridiculous hard and bass driven beats atop Pop Smoke talking about all things gangster. If you step on his Diors, you better have your gun. Pop Smoke takes no time before flaunting and bragging about his dangerous and in-the-streets lifestyle. Dior and Welcome to the Party would be anthems for the NYC rap scene and for those who are really outside. We seem him gaining steam at the end of 2019, being featured with Travis Scott on Gatti.

So there you have it, 2019s best projects and songs based on my humble opinion. I’d say keep an eye on these artists for 2020, as most have garnered a ton of steam from these projects. Whether it is a good time slot at Coachella, award nominations, or more projects and features from these artists, it’s safe to say they aren’t going anywhere in 2020. Check em out!