378 SURFS

THE PHOTO THAT MARKED SESSION 366.

It was the tail end of December of 2019 as I was chopping it up with my fellow Catch Surf Sales Associates at the Laguna Store. I could be found here one day on the weekend (typically Saturdays) stamping sticks and selling softies. I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions, as it always just seemed like another year with a different 4 digit number attached. On top of this, I never thought I didn’t already surf a bunch. Ask most of my friends and they have no problem vouching for my froth: subpar conditions can’t stop me if I want to go surf or have excess time to do so in the day. It’s just been ingrained in me that a surf at some point during the day makes the day a whole lot better. So as I was shooting the shit with one of my coworkers, I had somehow come up with the idea to try to surf everyday as a New Year’s challenge of sorts. Plenty of people surf everyday, believe it or not. I wouldn’t say a lot, but you hear stories of people surfing consecutively for years. Inspiring shit. And me typically surfing when I can didn’t seem like a tall task to try everyday.

I had leaked my resolution to others and a common problem was brought up: I like to do things that might not be close to an ocean. I immediately remembered I would not be surfing Coachella weekend, and other events that could pop up during the year could derail me from this goal. On top of this, I anticipated going back east at some point, and there are not always waves in NJ. So we settled for the next best thing: surfing 365 sessions (it was a leap year, so this became 366 funnily enough).

The stage was set. I had to surf most likely every day and more common than not twice some days to achieve this goal. Now mind you, if the waves were good and I had the time I was no stranger to putting up three sessions in one day. But as I become older and gain more responsibility at work and with life in general, these were less frequent than you would think. But still prevalent, especially in the summer with fun south swells and warm water temps. I would catalog my sessions in a google doc, eager to compile the data at the end of the year. To also up the ante, I decided to track “good” surfs and “bad surfs”. This is the data that has the grayest area. What is a good surf? I definitely know what a bad surf is-everyone does. But what metric would we hold accountable for this. And what counts as a session? Let’s break it down real quick.

A session was pretty simple- 3 waves or 10 minutes. I had a couple of these, but the bulk of my sessions were 30 minutes at least. On top of this, if I had been out of the water for close to a half an hour before going back in, this would count as two. To some this might sound strange. But let me paint a picture: you are surfing Lowers, packed some snacks, maybe two boards, and a lot of water. For me, many times I find myself peaking early or late, having a great start or great ending on my Lowers sessions. I split sessions up because if I did two 1.5-2 hour shifts on the cobbles, one would most likely be better than the other. Often I would be switching boards as well, so that clearly must be another session. I would say the bulk of these split up sessions come from Lowers or an all-day beach day in Newport that involved a couple quick dips.

Now for the “good” vs “bad” surfs. First, we need to consider the conditions (something which I stupidly thought did not need to be logged in my spreadsheet). A good surf in subpar conditions might be below average in really good surf. As a surfer who spends a lot of time in the water, you know what feels good versus what doesn’t. So here’s how I logged it: if the waves were below average, a good wave could be one good turn or a tube or an air. When I say below average, think of gutter surf. Really bad waves. The bar is incredibly low. As waves got better, the same still applied for the most part. As long as it was deemed a tube, a tube gave any session gave it a mark to enter the “good pile”. Not every session you luck into a barrel. For me, airs were the same although I know the difference between a shitty low air and just a low air. For turns, one hammer turn or a two turn combo would suffice, and if I could rattle off 3 decent turns on a wave the deed was done.

Now that the details are ironed out, let’s talk about the end product and what I learned. I ended this crusade on December 15th. I was unsure if I would finish early. At my best, I was 20 surfs ahead of schedule. At my worst, about 15 surfs behind. Digging out of that hole was a grind. But you can essentially match up your session number with the literal number of the date. December 15th was 350. I always knew I would get to 366. Even if I had to do triple sessions over the weekends and sacrifice surfing fun and good waves. I am glad I didn’t have to. While at some moments it was rather tiresome, we got there. Here are the takeaways I got from a year spent in the salt.

DO USE THE CAMS-DON’T TRUST THEM

In the digital world we inhabit, there are so many resources at our disposal to make getting a fun surf easy. The most obvious are the Surfline cams. When I wake up, the first thing I do is check surfline. I roll over post-alarm and pull up Surfline and start cam surfing. Where I live, there are 25 surfline cameras within a 5-10 minute drive of my house. Now when I say DO use the cams, this is to see some factors that would help you decide on whether or not you want to surf. Wind and tide are the easiest two. Too high? Wait. Wind up? Sleep in a little and surf when it’s more sunny. We wake up early to catch glassy conditions- if the winds up the session already has a damper on it. Unfortunately, I surfed many onshore mornings and sometimes they are fun, most times they are not. DON’T trust the cams. There have been so many sessions where the cam looked average to below-average and it ended up really fun. There are tons of blind spots for the cameras so if you surfed yesterday and the report is similar, trust your knowledge over the stream. 

A SURF TO START THE DAY JUST FEELS RIGHT

No matter how bad the waves were, how cold the waves were, how crowded the lineup was, it always feels good to get wet. When there is swell on tap and you have been surfing a bit, the allure of a shitty session has a little less power. But if you’ve been out of the water for a while or just are a little stressed, getting a rinse in is essential. If you work all day, wake up early and get on it. Start work early and can’t get the dawnie? Go out for the last hour and watch the sunset from the water. I know most surfers can back me up on this one.

HAVE A DIVERSE QUIVER-SURF DIFFERENT WAVES

Now, I know not everyone has a quiver of boards. But hear me out: there are essentials boards to have to make surfing more frequently way less of a chore. Obviously, when the waves are good, you need a proper shortboard (if that’s your style). But in most cases, the waves are more often poor than pumping. So, you’ll need some boards that inspire you when the waves look pretty shitty. A fish can do wonders for your surfing. I once wrote about how a fish can help your surfing (read here). But as far as getting out when the waves aren’t looking too hot, the fish is the go-to route. Something flatter, with more foam, and less fins typically is the formula for fun when the waves are dribbly. Another good addition to the quiver is a soft top. Riding soft tops is just more fun. I don’t know what it is about it, but it is not hard to go soft. Whether it’s packing walled closeouts or just cruising, softies bring a smile to your face. Surf different waves on different boards. Nothing gets more tiresome than surfing the same kind of wave. Hunt some tubes. Cook some turns. Try to launch some airs. Keep it spicy. You have to if you want to put up numbers. When you get tired of a board, try it at a different wave. When you get tired of a wave, try a different board.

THE BEST WAY TO BECOME A BETTER SURFER IS TO SURF

You can workout, study surf clips, or do whatever you might think will improve your surfing. But when it comes down to it: the only way to get better at surfing is to surf. I think a lot of skill just comes from comfort standing up on the board. And every surf you’ll at least stand up. I’d be gassing you up a little if I said you could progress your surfing by surfing shit waves. You can, but it’s hard to work on open face carves when it’s 2 foot and walled. You can learn a lot just from drawing different lines and different boards and conditions. But surfing when the waves are fair to good is definitely when you get the best return on investment. But like I said- surfing in general will excel your ability on the board.

SURF WITH FRIENDS BUT ALSO SURF ALONE

Surfing with friends is almost always more fun than surfing alone. Having someone to talk to in the lineup, split waves with, and can see your sick ones is what surfing is all about. I am lucky to have a ton of friends that surf and live within very close proximity, so it isn’t that hard to link up with some friends for a surf. It is a little tougher with my early bird schedule and before work surfs, but when it’s warm and the waves are good almost everyone is on board. However, sometimes the solo session is warranted. There is nothing quite like scoring waves by yourself. As this doesn’t happen often in California, there are still pockets of time that you can sneak out for a session of fun wedges with just your lonesome self. Surfing alone gives you a lot of time to think, which can be good and bad. But sometimes I really like just waking up and enjoying a quiet morning of surf. Don’t worry- if I don’t know you I’ll still talk to you in the lineup. But sometimes silence is golden.

That’s it. There’s probably more, but I will spare you the time I have already made you lose. I encouraged anyone who would like to surf as much as they can in 2021 to do it.

A Year in the Review: 54 Posts Later

rear-view-mirror-drawing-32

I’ve done a couple of these introspective and reflective pieces since the inception of this site. It might have been on New Years, my birthday, or just a time where I’ve been able to think a lot. With our current situation, everyone has a lot of time to think. And it’s not the worst thing. Sure, sometimes you get lost in a rabbit hole of reminiscing (for both positive and negative events). But overall it’s a great time to work on yourself and really get to know yourself if you are at the proper age to do so (not saying there IS a definite age in which this is attainable, but you’ll know if you are at this point in your life). On with the show.

—————————————————————————————————

I started this site in the first place down and out. Unemployed and looking for jobs, I kept seeing a portfolio of work as an alternative to years of working for a copywriting firm for a lot of writing positions. That was the birth of the site. I added a work history/resume section and the writing section where all the posts would live. I wrote a handful of posts and then found myself at a promising retail position for a company I believed in (Catch Surf). Writing had then taken the backseat. Here are the quick stats: from the birth of the site to my full-time employment at Hurley (OCT18-JAN19) I wrote three posts. I clearly had just forgotten about the site and was just wrapped up enjoying the lack of stress for finally being partially employed to then fully employed. 

As I got more and more accustomed to my position at Hurley, I started taking on writing tasks to help out a coworker in the building. Writing global product copy and email marketing copy meant I was writing a lot during my typical 40 hour work week. I knew the only way to sharpen the pencil was to use a pencil sharpener. So I started writing again. Even though writing copy for NIKE and then blabbing on about going out on the town and surfing are completely different, it’s still writing.

Hell-bent on grinding out work, Sundays would be the day I decided. I would work Mon-Fri at Hurley, Saturdays at Catch Surf, and write on Sundays. But this took a little while to stick. My next post, post-employment, was February 3rd (before that was January 8th) and then radio silence until March 11th. A lot of things most likely stood in the way: laziness, hangovers, travels, good surf, you get the picture by now. 

So on April 10th, 2019, I wrote the excerpt “Return to Form.” Here’s a little blurb from it 

“I will be jotting down words and phrases on Sunday and will try to keep it as consistent as possible. I woke up before the sun came up to pen this peasant piece, sipping a nice cup of joe on my left with a bowl of oats on my right. It feels good to be back.”

Did it feel good to be back to writing? In the moment probably not. If it was a Sunday, there’s a good chance I was nursing a hangover with a coffee or had just gotten back from an AM surf. I hadn’t really found the joy back then in putting pen to paper (in reality fingers to keys). I still sometimes go in and out of it now, with just about everything I like to do. But this was the oath. I was going to write a piece a week. Of course I warned my large audience (lol) there would be no post next week because of Coachella (in the most cringy way possible [No post 4/21- I will be in the desert dancing.] I want to barf). But the roadmap was there: post something every week for a year straight.

There were mishaps. I could have told you that early on Actually just forgetting to write something (mostly due to travel or an event). Not having an idea by Sunday. Surfing all day and then just being so fried that no amount of coffee could get my brain working. That just meant 2 next week. Have no clue what to write about? Find something to draw inspo out of. Sometimes this was a hell of a lot easier than others. I won’t lie, I had some help along the way. Sometimes if a friend suggested a good idea, I ran with it. I even used some old academic papers and recycled them onto this blog. I don’t feel bad about this since if I was ever going to use this portfolio to try and score a gig, I’d want some of my Chapman Writing minor classes present (some I was actually quite proud of upon re-read). But you get the jist at this point. 52 posts in a year span. I actually ended on 54 (bonus points).

In coming full circle, there definitely were a couple of takeaways from this yearlong hajj. Obviously there’s the dedication factor. Too many Sundays I found myself either toasted from a long work week and weekend or just didn’t have the creative juices flowing. But I had to write something! That’s when I started writing when it felt right. From there I got even more lazy and just posted whenever, as long as it was in the right week window, although a handful of times I found myself posting two in one week to make up for a missed week. There’s also the styles I tried to emulate and the topics I tried to cover. While some things flowed smoothly, others were a lot more jarring and required more focus (something most times I lack a ton of). I learned what I like to write about, and how I like to write about it. Hopefully you liked it too! 

Do I think my writing has improved? Of course! You can only get better at something by practicing. Ironically enough, by the time my writing duties had waned off at work, I was more excited and fired up to write that I just kept going as a side project. I spent a little more time working on my weekly posts, drafting them and then editing them. As life always seems to work in weird ways, I find myself full circle again, with a new job title that requires quite a bit of wordsmithing. While this style of writing is far from what I write at work, writing is writing. And I find myself with more creative reigns than ever before. The only way to sharpen the pencil is with the pencil sharpener. My pencil as of late is feeling extra sharp. But now I find myself at a crossroads.

I’ve always wanted a creative platform to express different things. This site has really gone all sorts of angles and directions as far as topic and execution. One week I could be talking about how to cure a hangover and the next I could be personally reflecting on (somewhat) serious topics. From surfing to coffee to recommending music and everywhere in between, it’s a little too scattered for my liking. While I never really wanted to hone in on one single idea or style (since I wanted to flex all areas of my writing), I think now is the time to get it dialed and figure out what’s next. While I don’t see myself completely stopping writing on this platform,  I know it’s not going to be as frequent. And that’s fine. If you’ve kept up, you know probably more about me than I’d like. I tried to let people in but not expose too much. I do like to use this as a place to vent sometimes, but it’s boring when it’s all about me. So moving forward, I am going to take a stab and go and sit on the ledge, looking down at the future. Next post on this site is going to expand upon that.

2018: A Dynamic Year for Hip-hop Music

Screenshot 2018-12-08 08.53.27.png

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)