missing my 2-year anniversary

So, its been two years I’ve been using this website, and I just have to say wow. To anyone that reads or even gives me a passing glance, thank you.

I started this website with the idea of sharing my opinion and building a portfolio for my future career as a journalist. However, its shaped itself into something so much more meaningful.

This place is like an archive filled to the brim with everything I love. I know I haven’t updated this website much in the past year, but trust be that hasn’t been by choice.

I’m a creative in every sense of the word, so I fill as much time as I can doing something stimulating. Sometimes that doesn’t mean I’m writing here. I’ve also been hard at work writing articles for scriberr. Everything that doesn’t get accepted there goes here. So pretty soon I’m going to be releasing a Lana article they haven’t edited.

I still love talking about music and my love for writing hasn’t dwindled at all.

This summer I’m going to focus my efforts on writing and moving toward my future. I hope to see all of you there.

Thank you and please turn off the bright lights.

How to find new music during the corona season

Study finds listening to music has negative impact on creativity ...Happy quarantine season everyone. I’m currently writing from my soft bed, listening to tunes I’ve already heard thousands of times over. So I figured now is the right time to find something new. Around this time last year, I gave everyone three tips on how to find new music in the flooded market we call the industry. Now here I am again, a year later, back for another installment of this possibly-annual series. Without further ado, let’s get started.

  • Listen to featured artists’ solo music.

Features are the backbone of many albums, more specifically Hip-Hop and Pop records, the two most popular genres out there right now. So many artists spend thousands of dollars every year to get one person on their record and typically it’s for good reason. Whether it’s a contractual agreement or something is organically grown, in most cases, features on records can make a track, that much better. This is why if you end up liking the feature you should try getting into that artist too, provided you haven’t already of course.

In my own experience, this is how I got into artists like Don Toliver and Dababy, the ladder of which has been so prolific on features its starting to become a joke in the Hip-Hop industry. However, both artists have a pretty decent selection of solo works under their belt. I know for a fact I wouldn’t have tried to get into their music if I hadn’t heard them on someone else’s track. Sometimes it’s scary to jump into someone new blindly, so think of features like a test to see if you enjoy the way a particular artist sounds.

  • Look at charts

Be honest with yourself. Have you looked past the top ten spots of the Billboard Hot 100? Well if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. I can almost guarantee that you haven’t listened to every song or artist on the entire list. Charts like these help gain insight into what many people are listening to and if so many others enjoy these artists, there’s a decent chance you might too.

But you don’t have to just look at what’s charting overall. There are thousands of charts available for every nation and genre available. The amount of music trending and being shared is at an all-time high, which rankings constantly shifting and trends consistently evolving over time.

It’s perfect for trying to get into a new genre as well. I know personally I was lacking a lot of music in the country genre, but thanks to Billboards lists I was able to find a few artists I really enjoyed.

  • Follow music Twitter or Instagram pages

This is a technique I recently started employing and it has worked wonders for me. All across the vast scope of the internet are heaps of individuals dedicated to something. Whether it is music, movies or games. Any form of media likely has someone working tirelessly to promote the experiences of its creates.

What I recommend is seeking those people out. On Twitter, on Instagram, or even on a blog like this one. I follow a variety of pages online that give out music recs every day and I always take the time to get through them. Some of my favorite albums have come from recommendations from these pages and I couldn’t be happier.

While it’s true the times are bleak, it’s always a good idea to sit back and smell the roses. Appreciate the finer things in life as they say. However, I know the same as anyone its hard to find them sometimes. Whatever medium you’re interested in go out and seek more of it. Step out of your comfort zone. Learn something new about yourself.

Stay safe and stay home.

An A.I. created a Travis Scott song

Image result for travis bott

(Authors Note: My company never posted this article I did back when it was relevant so I am archiving it here.)

A recent experiment conducted by digital agency, space150, was able to recreate the lyrical content and production style of Houston rapper Travis Scott using artificial intelligence with eerie accuracy, according to Adweek.

Ned Lambert, executive creative director at space150 explained to Adweek how the project began, “We were sort of fascinated with like, ‘What if we tried to make a song—like an actual good song—by using AI and basically creative directing AI?’” What emerged from this simple idea was “Jack Park Canny Dope Man” a single which comes very close to recreating Travis Scott’s sonic and lyrical sensibilities.

It was written by an A.I. which was fed Travis Scott lyrics for several weeks before it began spitting its own rhymes in a similar style to that of Scotts. The melodies and percussion were created using additional neural network programs similar to those that analyzed his lyrics.

However, that doesn’t mean it didn’t come with a few kinks. Lampert told Adweek, “The bot kept talking about food.” A characteristic that is still somewhat apparent in the final version of the single.

Be that as it may, the vast majority of lyrics from the aptly titled TravisBott are pretty nonsensical, to begin with. As annotated by Genius, the A.I. wrote lyrics such as, “I was the bitch on the plane (Straight up)” and, “I don’t really wanna fuck your party food” and finally “I can’t eat all on this money now.”

The voice rapping the absurd lyrics in the official single was not A.I. generated however it was actually provided by fellow Texan rapper So-So Topic. According to the rappers Twitter, he said, “…lil clarification: an AI bot “listened” to 60 Travis Scott songs, then reproduced a 10,000 line song in his style that was then narrowed down to a 5-min cut of illegible lyrics. I got to observe and it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever been a part of. I’m rapping the lyrics.”

Lampert explained to Adweek the company had chosen Travis Scott because, “he is just such a unique artist and he has a unique sound and everything sort of has an aesthetic to it, both audibly and visually.” Perhaps some of that initial wonder has withered since the creation of this single but one thing is clear to Lampert, “the tech is not ready to handle a creative project on its own without some heavy human supervision.”

Regardless of its shortcomings “Jack Park Canny Dope Man” is a technical marvel and opens a new world of possibilities waiting to be explored.

The single is available on most streaming platforms and an official music video featuring a glitchy deepfake version of Travis Scott is accessible on space150’s official Vimeo.

A short thesis on Joji’s newest single “Run”

Image result for joji run“Run” is the newest single from 88rising poster boy, Joji. It released following a ten day-period of teasers from the enigmatic singer/songwriter. Last Thursday morning a music video for the single was also released featuring a muted blue color palette and visuals seemingly taken from Joji’s previous music videos.

The single, on paper, seems like it’s standard fare for Joji. Its lyrical content is very similar to that of his debut record BALLADS1. It’s tinged with the same melancholic tone and delivery however, its production is far more nuanced.

Its initial guitar riff interpolates elements from a Metallica song called “Nothing Else Matters” off of their fifth studio album commonly referred to as their “Black Album”. What is most interesting about this choice is its possible implication. The Black Album was one of Metallica’s most controversial as it signaled a shift in genre for the band. Many purists weren’t receptive to the change, however, critics lauded it as their best work.

It would seem Joji is going through a similar change in style. Over time Joji has moved on from his early lo-fi hip-hop influence and bloomed into more of an alternative pop artist. Some fans have expressed their distaste for the sudden shift in tone and often make fun of his dramatic transformation from his Filthy Frank persona into the singer he is today.

“Run” is all of those feelings incarnated into a single track. It expertly blends rock and pop elements and has the Osaka-born crooners best vocal performance since “Slow Dancing in the Dark.”

Whatever this single means for Joji, one thing is very clear; it’s just the beginning.

Why Jeffery Epstein will always be a conspiracy theory.

Image result for jeffrey epsteinJeffery Epstein was an American financier with ties to President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton as well as a plethora of other powerful individuals. He is also a known and convicted sex offender. On Aug. 10th Epstein, while awaiting his trial for sex trafficking charges in a Manhattan jail, was found dead.

This was not his first brush with crime however, back in 2007 Epstein was indicted and later convicted of sexual assault of a minor as well as solicitation of a prostitute. However, unlike most other sex offenders in the state of Florida, where he lived at the time, Epstein was given special privileges. Instead of prison, Epstein was admitted to a private wing of the Palm Beach County stockade. If that didn’t make matters worse he rarely ever spent time in a cell and was actually allowed to work at his West Palm Beach office twelve hours a day.

By the end of it, Epstein only had to serve 13 months of an 18-month sentence before being let go on house arrest, thanks to a plea deal set by our ex-secretary of labor Alexander Acosta. Acosta claimed he had no clue of the liberal treatment Epstein was provided but records show that all federal prosecutes that were under his authority were very aware of the circumstances and demands.

What followed immediately after were a large slough of sexual assault charges levied at Epstein from his alleged previous victims. Eventually, he was arrested once again on sex trafficking charges and promptly held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. While under investigation a considerable amount of damaging evidence of sex trafficking. He was charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex. He was also denied bail by US District Judge Richard M. Berman who posited that Epstein posed a serious danger to new victims due to his “uncontrollable” sexual fixation on young girls. He also feared  Epstein was a serious flight risk and might use it to flee prosecution.

Of course, Epstein never actually had the chance to be prosecuted, because he died in his cell at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center. It was alleged he had killed himself using nothing but a jail bedsheet. He was supposed to be checked up on regularly due to a previous attempt he made on his own life, however, the guards who were in charge had fallen asleep while making their rounds.

Jeffery Epstein will never face the trial.

This is a summary of what is currently accepted as the true story of what happened to Epstein. However, the details are shaky at best and come from a smorgasbord of sources all of which with varying levels of reputability. Of course, with there being conflicting accounts and misinformation rampant, the case of Epstein is a very difficult one. Among its many instances of foul play its given ways to one of the 2019’s hottest conspiracies. The question of whether Epstein did or did not kill himself is a point of contention for many. It’s implications even more so.

So let’s talk about conspiracy theories. Head on over to Merriam Webster and they will tell you a conspiracy theory is “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.” This is the official definition we will be running with for the duration of this article.

The possibility of foul play or a “secret plot” surrounding the events of Epstein’s death arose not long after he was pronounced dead. The Post unveiled a story on Aug. 11 focusing on a former NYC jail inmate. In said story, the inmate said there was “no way” Epstein was able to kill himself while incarcerated. At the same time, another article this time on CNN reported that Epstein’s death would be looked into, as per the request of Attorney General William Barr.

This is essentially what lit the fuse on the whole debacle. Afterward, several new discoveries were made that all had to do with Epstein’s supposed suicide.  Medical examiners found evidence that many believed to be more consistent with strangulation rather than hanging. Regardless, medical examiners in New York City officially ruled his death as a suicide on Aug. 16. However, this answer is not sufficient for many and a private investigation is still ongoing.

So whats this investigation trying to prove? We are aware that they believe Epstein didn’t kill himself but what does that really mean? It would seem everyone has their own take on the matter. What makes this case so compelling is the number of connections Epstein made during his trudge through life. What business does a convicted sex trafficker have with President Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew?

The short answer is, we will never know, but many have used this information to support their own unfounded conclusions. Some think he was killed to be silenced, others think he was forced to kill himself and so on and so forth. The running theory or joke, depending on who you are, is that Epstein didn’t kill himself.

So let’s analyze a few pieces of “damning” evidence people have used to “prove” Epstein didn’t kill himself.

For one, the official autopsy of Epstein reported a break in the hyoid bone. A U shaped bone positioned between the skull and postcranial skeleton. Some have used this to say that there is evidence of strangulation. However, CNN makes it clear that the bone can be broken in either case, whether it’s homicidal strangulation or suicide. The fact that it is more often broken in a homicide is neither here nor there, it’s a small detail irrelevant to the manner of death.

Many often cite the lack of camera footage as proof for there being foul play regarding the death of Epstein. Reuters actually reported two cameras positioned outside Epstiens cell mysteriously malfunctioned. However, tampering is actually a common occurrence in prisons and jails among inmates aside from this one instance. Videosurveillance.com makes this very clear: “There exists a risk that inmates will attempt to tamper with a facility’s security equipment. While many prisons use tamper-resistant cameras to cope with this problem, there’s always a possibility that a camera will be damaged and lose its signal.”

Again there are pages of possible malfunctions and issues revolving around tampering listed in official documents about security cameras released by correctional facilities. Obviously, it’s a big enough issue in prisons and not uncommon for a camera to malfunction randomly due to tampering or some other form of manipulation whether Epstein was there or not.

Finally, let’s go over the most interesting piece of evidence: the security guards. Two security guards were meant to check up one Epstein every thirty minutes due to previous behaviors. However, both accidentally fell asleep while doing their rounds. During this time is when Epstein killed himself.

To debunk this allow me to take you back to seventh-grade science class. The scientific method is an empirical method of study meant to test a hypothesis. A hypothesis is based on observable phenomena and can be proven or disproven using rigorous testing. On the flip side, we have conspiracy theories that begin with a conclusion and scramble for any information to prove their idea, substantial or not. This is also a demonstration of a common cognitive bias found in people.

The confirmation bias states that people tend to listen more often to information that confirms the beliefs they already have. Through this bias, people tend to favor information that confirms their previously held beliefs. If you keep telling yourself Epstein didn’t kill himself, of course, you’re going to find information that “proves” he didn’t. This manner of thinking throws the scientific method completely out the window. Beginning with your conclusion may net you lots of evidence but you have no idea how to differentiate between that and conjecture.

I didn’t have to explain why those pieces of evidence were wrong because the whole thing was wrong from the beginning. To agree with this conspiracy, you would also have to agree with a plethora of other instances inconsistent with reality. I could have released this article back when this topic was still relevant because I purposely wanted to wait for the trend to die down. Now that it’s no longer funny to say “Epstein didn’t kill himself” I think we can all focus on the raw facts here.

So there you have it. While Epstein may be dead, the case has not been allowed to rest. With several of his alleged victims filing lawsuits toward his estate, it would seem old habits die hard.

 

I joined a start-up company!

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I’ve kept this quiet for some time now, but now I think its time I talk about something new in my life. I was recently accepted to work at an amazing start-up company based in California. The Company is called Scriberr.

Scriberr is a news media site focused on delivering free speech media that represents all views accurately even if it disagrees with them. The people here have been especially kind to my writing process and schedule so from now on I am going to be writing for them.

What does this mean for this website? Well sadly my work on here is going to be slowed, yet again. However, that doesn’t mean I’m through with this place. There are ideas I have for articles that may work here but won’t work on Scriberr. That is essentially what this website is going to be used for from now on.

Things like my lists, music opinions and personal stories about artists will likely be kept here as well as a few Op-eds.

I’d like to thank all of you for sticking with me and supporting my thoughts and opinions. This website has served its purpose for now but I am happy to keep it going as its own little publication.

As an incentive, there is a brand new article up featuring an interview with an artist I’ve been a fan of for some time now! Go check it out on Scriberr.

Understanding the artist behind streetwear’s most creative pieces.

 

My top 50 albums of the year

BeFunky-collage.jpgI listened to a lot of music this year. Over 2500 hours to be precise. In case you’re wondering that’s over 150,000 minutes of music in just one year. That’s not bragging, by the way, I just wanted to really sell the fact that I listened to a lot of music this year.

Anywho, because of this, I’m not doing a top ten this year. No, I am doing a top 50 instead! Keep in mind these are only the albums I found worth talking about. I listened to way more than just this, but these were the best that came out this year. In my opinion, of course. The descriptions will begin as vague and short but as the list narrows trust me they get a lot more long-winded.

Now, with no honorable mentions needed, let’s get into the list.


50. Arizona Baby – Kevin Abstract (Hip-Hop/Pop/Alt R&B)

Image result for arizona babyBumpy at times but incredibly bold for Abstract to be so vulnerable.

49. The Fall of Hobo Johnson – Hobo Johnson (Spoken Word/Hip-Hop)

Image result for the fall of hobo johnsonHobo Johnson repackages the sound he’s worked to pioneer and it sounds pretty good.

48. Sonic Citadel – Lightning Bolt (Noise Rock)

Image result for sonic citadel lightning boltChaotic, high-octane, and every other adjective that can possibly mean neurotic.

47. Brandon Banks – Maxo Kream (Hip-Hop/Trap)

Image result for brandon banks album coverA little forgettable but nothing short of unique.

46. Heaven Surrounds You – Surf Curse (Indie Rock)

Image result for heaven surrounds you album coverSurf Curse has progressively gotten more introspective and this record really shows that.

45. JACKBOYS – JACKBOYS (Trap)

Image result for jackboys cover artA fun tape further exacerbating the chaotic Cactus Jack persona.

44. 1000 gecs – 100 gecs (Pop/Nightcore/Experimental)

Image result for 1000 gecsStrangely genius, taking every pop convention, turning it on its head and then smashing it with a hammer.

43. A Quiet Farewell, 2016-2018 – Slauson Malone (Experimental Hip-Hop)

Image result for a quiet farewellUnsympathetic and a little too obsessed with itself to be considered greater. No matter what it’s still a fine record and deserves a close inspection.

42. Life After – Palace (Indie Rock)

Image result for life after palaceAn absolutly beautiful record with lush production and vocals. Can never go wrong with Palace.

41. Flamagara – Flying Lotus (Hip-Hop)

Image result for flamagraThis has David Lynch in it. Need I say more? Flying Lotus is a genius producer.

40. Guns – Quelle Chris (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for guns quelle chrisAn incredibly blunt message about the use of guns in America disguised as a commercial rap album.

39. The Decalogue – Sufjan Stevens & Timo Andres (Piano)

Image result for the decalogue sufjan stevensThis record which consists of only piano music and no vocals said more than most other records did this year.

38. Ginger – BROCKHAMPTON (Pop/Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for ginger brockhamptonBROCKHAMPTON finally came out with a good record after the failure of iridescence. Thanks guys!

37. Deceiver – DIIV (Shoegaze)

Image result for diiv deceiver album coverThis album is deceivingly great. I’m so sorry. Just go listen do it.

36. Hi, This is Flume – Flume (Electronic/Wonky)

Image result for hi this is flume album coverFlume proves once again he’s one of the most creative producers living.

35. HAN – Berhana (R&B)

Image result for han berhanaA flight through the creative mind of Berhana. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and I applaud that.

34. The Lost Boy – YBN Cordae (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for the lost boy album coverAmazingly strong debut record. I cannot wait for what’s next. YBN Cordae is the lyrical rap revivalist we needed.

33. ZUU – Denzel Curry (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for zuu album coverZUU felt like an album of strange b-sides and it was still amazing. Denzel Curry never ceases to impress.

32. Cuz I Love You – Lizzo (Pop Soul)

Image result for lizzo cuz i love you album coverSome of the strongest vocal performances came from Lizzo this year. While I do find this record a little preachy at times I think it fits well.

31. Shea Butter Baby – Ari Lennox (R&B)

Image result for ari lennox shea butter baby album coverAri Lennox blends a delicate story of womanhood with her smooth vocals and charismatic instrumentals. Easily one of the smoothest records of 2019.

30. MIRRORLAND – Earthgang (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for earthgang mirrorland album coverEarthgang is one of the best Hip-Hop duos in the industry right now. The record never loses its charm and sticks to what the gang knows best.

29. IGOR – Tyler, the Creator (Hip-Hop/Neo-Soul)

Image result for igor tyler the creator album coverTyler’s newest effort didn’t resonate with me as much as it did with the masses but I still think its a very well made record with some standout tracks to boot.

28. Three Originals – Tobe Nwigwe (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for tobe nwigwe three originalsSkip the 40-minute podcast at the end and you’ve got the quintessential rap record.

27. The Sailor – Rich Brian (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for the sailor rich brianOne of the best showcases of personal growth ever put to music. Incredibly mature (except when it’s not).

26. May The Lord Watch – Little Brother (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for may the lord watchThe Hip-Hop duo return after a long hiatus to drop a record that reminds everyone of Hip-Hop’s more chill side. Some of the interludes are a bit heavy-handed but it’s a fine record.

25. Jesus is Born – Sunday Service Choir (Gospel)

Image result for jesus is born sunday service albumExceptionally raw and unrelenting in its message. This record truly surprised me with how far it really went to make its point.

24. Anger Management – Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for anger management ricoRico Nasty likes to scream. Screaming is coincidentally one the things she does best! Without a doubt one of the best female rappers in the game right now.

23. It’s a Whimsical Afterlife – Avenade (Experimental/Noise Rock)

This record is experimental, hard-hitting, and absolutely chaotic. It’s an indescribable ride of guitar hits and percussion slaps all couped into one cohesive collection of songs that all bleed into each other.

22. Breathe In/Out – Lysistrata (Punk/Rock/Alternative)

Image result for breathe in breathe out lysistrataLysistrata brings out the best from the early 2000’s punk rock that saturated the music market at the time. It’s an absolute delight to hear it perfected down to what feels like science to them.

21. Netflix and Deal – 03 Greedo & Kenny Beats (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for netflix and dealFrom beyond prison bars, 03 Greedo released a mixtape inspired by films he watched while dealing drugs. I think Kenny’s production is what sold this record for me. Some of the more concise work between two collaborators this year.

20. We Are Not Your Kind – Slipknot (Metal)

Image result for slipknot we are not your kind album coverTo be honest, this was Slipknot but tamer. However, that’s not a bad thing. I think WAYNK has a lot going for it and I’d be heart-pressed not to put it here. Corey Taylor as always steals the show with his colorful vocals.

19. Duster – Duster (Alternative/Indie)

Image result for duster duster album coverEverything Duster releases puts me to sleep, but like, in a good way. Their self-titled record can move from soundscape to soundscape with ease. If this wasn’t going to be on my list their compilation album would have.

18. uknowhatimsayin¿ – Danny Brown (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for danny brown uknowhatimsayin album coverIt’s genuinely difficult to describe the appeal of Danny Brown without using words that all mean crazy. His new record is polarizing and honestly kind of beautiful. As per most Danny Brown projects, it’s not for the faint of heart.

17. CASE STUDY 01 – Daniel Caesar (R&B/Soul)

Image result for daniel caesar case study 01 album coverFor some time Daniel Caesar was an artist who only impressed me on singles. However, his surprise album made me think differently. CASE STUDY 01 is a deep look into his own character and brings new meaning to introspection.

16. Fine Line – Harry Styles (Pop/Rock)

Related imageHarry Styles reminds me on this record of why I fell in love with his first studio release. The former One Direction frontman is one part heartthrob and all parts talented. Boys, don’t let toxic masculinity keep you from listening to this one. Okay?

15. All My Heroes Are Cornballs – JPEGMafia (Experimental Hip-Hop)

Image result for jpegmafia all my heroes are cornballs album coverAMHAC is JPEGMafia stepping way out of his comfort zone. Whereas Veteran was his breakout hit, his newest effort is a victory lap taking the scenic route. It’s more innovative and character-driven. No holds barred.

14. Bandanna – Freddie Gibbs & Madlib (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for bandana freddie gibbsMadlib collaborates with another rapper and makes a groundbreaking album again! Freddie Gibbs is one of the most talented rappers in the game right now and this album is indisputable proof of that. It’s focused but free-form. Unique but homely.

13. Un – Scott James (Alternative)

spliff.jpgScott James quietly released one of the most beautiful records of 2019 this year. The record feels like a brief walk through an empty meadow of flowers. It can be a little harsh at times but the whole experience is pretty.

12. Circuits – Chris Potter (Jazz)

Image result for circuits chris potterChris Potter is a master of Jazz. Everything on this record feels so deliberate and alive. Circuits feel so technical and rhythmic its the epitome of a modern-day jazz record. A must listen for anyone looking to get into jazz.

11. Chon – Chon (Math Rock)

Image result for chon chon album“Wow” was the first word I uttered when listening to Chon’s self-titled effort. I don’t understand how humans were able to play like this. It’s genuinely beyond me. 1000 percent effort was exerted onto this record and the music speaks for itself. Math Rock will never die so long as Chon continues to play.

10. Nothing Happens – Wallows (Indie Rock/Alternative)

Image result for nothing happensWallows are what every indie band should try to sound like. They have a sound that is simultaneously the true essence of the indie rock genre itself and yet wholly original. Do not even think about sleeping on this record. Something definitely happens here.

9. Everyday Life – Coldplay (Pop/Alternative)

Image result for everyday life coldplayColdplay has been in the business for some time now with a plethora of hits under their star-studded belt. Yet with every record, they only seem to push the envelope further. They’re relevant, topical and somehow capture the quintessence of pop itself.

8. i,i – Bon Iver (Experimental/Pop)

Image result for i i bon iverI don’t know how Bon Iver makes music often time’s it feels like they were just handed the perfect blend of experimental art-pop and like everything else. This record is impossibly made. It’s not only a record but a marvel of sound itself. By all accounts, we shouldn’t have been able to make this, and yet they found a way.

7. K-12 – Melanie Martinez (Pop)

Image result for k-12 album coverThe follow-up to her previous record Crybaby could not have been more well crafted. It’s the perfect continuation while remaining its own record. There are a lot of fun moments on this album that makes the listener go through a wave of different emotions. Another great pop record to add to the hefty list.

6. ANIMA – Thom Yorke (Soundtrack)

Image result for anima thom yorke album coverThom Yorke has rarely disappointed me. It seems like every piece of work he’s done for a film is bound to be blessed by God himself. It’s in the same style of something from a Radiohead record but with Yorke’s very personal touch and sensibilities. Experiencing the record is like watching a film in itself.

5. Blood – Kelsey Lu (Pop/R&B/Soul)

Related imageKelsey Lu innovates the pop genre at large by infusing so many different ideas and motifs into her debut record. We had a lot of good pop albums released this year and this one is no exception. It’s everything you want and much much more. This record is absolutely worth your time. I am very excited to hear what the cellist has next up her sleeve.

4. Is He Real? – IDK (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for is he real?Is He Real? is another album that grapples with the existence of God and the banality of the human experience. However this time it’s set to some of the most hard-hitting beats I’ve heard this year and narrated by IDK. It is blunt, introspective, and most of all original. There are some hot takes and truly deep moments on the record. It doesn’t always take one side over the other but it also isn’t necessarily neutral either. It’s complicated much like the concept of God itself. Fitting, to say the least.

3. Revenge of the Dreamers III – Dreamville (Hip-Hop/Rap)

Image result for revenge of the dreamers 3 album coverI’ve always wondered what an album of only bangers would sound like. Many others have tried and failed to accomplish that difficult task. However, this year my wish was granted. Somehow J. Cole was able to grant over 50 artists with a grammy nomination this year thanks to the release of this monster of a record. Every song feels like an explosion in your face, even the slow ones! I genuinely don’t understand how this record was made in only ten days. It is truly a modern-day miracle and a bonafide work of art.

2. Suga – Kyle Dion (R&B/Funk)

Image result for kyle dion sugaKyle Dion’s debut record blew me away this year with its soulful melodies and retro-inspired sonic elements. Listening to it for the first time felt a lot like when I listened to Prince for the first time as a young boy. It takes you back to a simpler time where music was much simpler. Suga is Kyle Dion’s alter ego of sorts and takes the helm of the record. Much like the final album on the list, the production of the record is complimented well by the lush vocals from the crooner. There isn’t much else to say. I love this record and you should definitely give it a listen.

1. When I Get Home – Solange (Neo-Soul/R&B)

Image result for when i get home album coverI feel like I wrote a pretty comprehensive thesis on this record back in February but for the sake of this list, I am going to reiterate. Nothing this year has blown me away quite as much as this masterpiece. Even the interludes on this record are interesting and worth listening to. You know interludes? Those things where their only purpose is to break up the album and make the tracklist seem more deliberate? Everything about this record screams Houston. I’ve already written an article about this record way back in February but it seems like with every listen I just find something new. Solange without a doubt has one of the most unique and inspired musical styles of our generation. When I Get Home is a true testament to that fact and an album I believe everyone deserves to hear. If not for the wonderful performance by Knowles herself or the incredible production hear it because it’s a piece of history that is likely to never be forgotten.


Thank you all for following me through another year of this website. See you all in the next decade!

 

Duncan Hunter responds to my scathing letter.

Image result for duncan hunterThis article is going to a tad personal so please bear with me.

When I was in Highschool taking my useless AP Government class one of our projects required getting involved in politics itself. Our class had a lot of leeway on what we could do and one of the more easy options was emailing a letter to your congressman.

I live in California and our U.S. Representative for the 50th congressional district is none other than Duncan Hunter. I probably don’t have to do much to explain why that name should send a cold chill down your spine but in case, here’s a little refresher.

Last year Duncan Hunter and his wife were indicted on twelve criminal charges including wire fraud and campaign finance crimes. The prosecutors allege that they used over 250,000 dollars to fund their family activities like personal trips to Italy, buying school lunches and, my personal favorite, fly a relative’s pet rabbit to Washington.

So I sent an email to Duncan Hunter and absolutely tore him to pieces. I don’t have the original letter anymore and neglected to make a copy, so sadly I can’t show you everything I said. However, I vividly remember the main idea of it. Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the letter.

  1. I listed every crime he committed and then blatantly called him a criminal
  2. I said, “I worry for our great state.”
  3. I sad I had no faith in him as a representative
  4. I asked what he planned to do as our representative.
  5. I commented on how it was possible he’d be sent to prison while in office.

I sent the letter back in December 2018 and just last week I finally got my response from good old Duncan Hunter. I was surprised, to say the least.

Dear Fabian:

Thanks for contacting me regarding your views. I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Like many in California’s 50th District, I believe it is crucial to maintain a strong military, rebuild America’s manufacturing base and create economic opportunity for all Americans.  It is important to remember the original intent of our founders to build a nation of liberty, common defense, and domestic tranquility.  In order to maintain that vision, we need to adhere to principles that do not trample on the rights of states and, most importantly, the rights of individuals.

Please be assured that I will continue to fight for these principles with your specific thoughts firmly in mind.  In the meantime, if I can be of any future assistance, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Part of me wished for a more unprofessional response from Hunter but I was well aware that it was unlikely. To be honest, I didn’t even expect a response at all. I’m just glad he had to sift through my inflammatory message. If there’s anything I can take away from this, I’m glad no matter how small my voice is, I can still be heard.

Guess I can scratch this one off the bucket list.

 

Year in Hip-Hop retrospective

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2019 has been anything but an underwhelming year. We saw hundreds of genre-defining projects released this year and it only implies a greater turnaround in the next decade. With so many different projects and artists to follow I thought it would be apt to sort through some of the most important things that occurred this year. Specifically within the rap industry. I’m going to do my best in keeping this in chronological order. However, I may jump around a bit.

21 Savage arrested by ICE

Image result for 21 savage iceThe year began with a very strange turn of events. On Feb 4th,  thought-to-be Atlanta-based rapper; 21 Savage was detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The agency revealed, against his fan’s preconceptions, that he was, in fact, a U.K. born resident in America on an expired Visa. This lead to a plethora of individuals asking themselves the same question, “21 Savage is European?”

According to his lawyer, he spent a week in detention after his arrest. However, many feared the possibility of deportation for the 27-year-old rapper. This raised a much-needed conversation about deportation under the Trump administration and gained the attention of many influential figures in the industry. Its ramifications are still relatively unknown.

Nipsey Hustle dies at 33

Image result for death of nipsey hussleMarch brought with it the death of a very important figure in Hip-hop: Nipsey Hustle. He was reportedly shot in front of his own store, Marathon Clothing, in LA. He was one of three victims in the shooting. He was a Grammy nominee and a very prominent figure in LA.  A memorial service was held at the Staples Center on April 11th free of charge.

DJ Khaled temper tantrum

Image result for dj khaled and tylerRelated imageDuring the Summer DJ Khaled expressed his distaste for Tyler, the Creators album IGOR beating his own record: Father of Asahd on the billboard top 100. He threw a “temper tantrum” at his label and further criticized Billboard’s methods for calculating album sales. This apparent tantrum was so loud Tyler, the creator, in a rare moment of transparency, actually addressed Khaled’s grievances.

In an interview with Zane Howe, Tyler said: “No disrespect to Khaled or anyone… I’m on album five and six. And it’s work. It’s effort. It’s work. This is fucking whether n***as like it or not, bro, it’s so much work and detail put into this shit like—I’m so proud of myself.” Many considered this rap beef but it would seem neither party wanted any sort of trouble from this ordeal.

A$AP Rocky held in Swedish prison

Related imageA$AP Rocky was arrested on assault charges and held in Swedish prison for a month and later released only having to pay damages. This was one of the most unorthodox international cases the world has ever seen with interventions from big names like Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, and President Donald Trump.

While US intervention reportedly had no bearing on A$AP Rocky’s release it was still a monumental case. He later returned to Sweden three months later despite his previous statements claiming he wouldn’t.

6ix9ine snitches

Image result for 69 snitchingGoing back to February, Rapper 6ix9ine was made the butt of many jokes for “snitching” on many public figures including TREYWAY, Cardi B, and Jim Jones for being apart of the Nine Trey and Bloods gangs. I’m only including this here due to the fact main videos on the matter publically surfaced around September. Also, the memes surrounding it were pretty hilarious in my opinion.

Ye is born again

Image result for kanye west 2019Since early 2019 Kanye West had been publically holding “Sunday Services” for local residents in various areas in America. Following this was incredibly interesting behavior from Ye and the announcement of his newest studio effort Jesus is King.

West had effectively been “born again” and was now professing his allegiance to Christ. Many off-the-cuff statements were made. He said none of his music going forward would include any cuss-words and how rap was “the devil’s music.” Studio rules for his upcoming album also included West urging his collaborators not to have premarital sex while working on the record.

Jesus is King released at the end of October.

Nicki Minaj announces her retirement from music

Image result for nicki minaj quitting musicIn September Nicki Minaj in a surprise tweet revealed her intentions to quit music to start a family. The tweet read, “I’ve decided to retire & have my family. I know you guys are happy now. To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me, in the box- cuz ain’t nobody checkin me” Many were unaware of what do do with this information and quickly disregarded the tweet as a joke due to the fact knowledge of a fifth studio album by Minaj was confirmed.

The tweet was later taken down and clarified. She apologized for its abrupt nature. The jury is still out on what her intentions are.

Frank Ocean releases two new singles

Image result for frank ocean prepIn early November Frank Ocean previewed many songs and released two new singles for what many believe to be an upcoming project. “DHL” and “In My Room” were given official vinyl releases along with limited-edition merch. In an interesting side note, a tweet by user MONTE VERCETTI revealed an overpriced listing on Grailed for an iPhone with Frank Oceans singles on it following its temporary removal from Apple Music.

Drake booed at Camp Flog Gnaw festival

Image result for drake booed off stageTyler, the Creator’s annual Camp Flog Gnaw festival was met with some controversy in mid-November due to its mystery guest not being who fans had initially thought. The mystery guest had been teased since its initial promotional line-up was revealed and many fans speculated it was indeed Frank Ocean who would be making a special appearance.

However, the narrative fans had created in their minds could not have been farther from the truth. What fans got instead were sets from A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, and Drake. Fans were displeased at Drakes’s surprise appearance and made their disapproval quite evident. After performing a few songs and telling the crowd “I got just one more song” each time after Drake was finally booed off the stage effectively ending the festival early.

Drake took it in stride and later made fun of the ordeal on his Instagram. In said post, Drake made the mistake of claiming Tyler, the Creator fans were all twenty, which we all know could not be farther from the truth.

XXXTentacion’s final release

Image result for xxxtentacionAt the end of November, late rapper XXXTentacion released what is now his final post-humorous project: Bad Vibes Forever. His death in 2018 sent a shockwave through the Hip-Hop community and it would seem like his influence if far from over. The subject of releases from late artists has been a hotly debated topic for some time now with X spearheading most arguments. It hasn’t received the most favorable reviews as of late so perhaps this may work against future releases.

03 Greedo releases a new mixtape from prison

Image result for netflix and dealA documentary on 03 Greedo and Kenny Beats’ most recent mixtape Netflix and Deal, was released in November detailing the process behind the album and its hectic production. Back in May 2018, 03 Greedo was sentenced to twenty years in prison on drug and gun possession charges. During this time, Greedo and Kenny were working nonstop to try and release the project before he would be sent to prison and it would seem all that hard work paid off.

Netflix and Deal is one of the more high-profile releases of this year and that’s likely due to the subject matter behind it. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and has a star-studded list of features.

Goldlink’s strange tribute post to Mac Miller

Image result for goldlinkRapper Goldlink released a poor-taste Instagram post in supposed tribute to the late Mac Miller in late November. Many Mac Miller fans were displeased with his message, due to the fact that he seemed to diss Miller more than pay homage. Among these people was fellow collaborator Anderson .Paak who made a since-deleted response firing back at Goldlink.

In said response, Paak said, “Mac brought your a** on tour and opened up his fan base to you when you had nothing and this the type of appreciation you give.” Not long after Goldlink added to his sentiments stating that Miller was his “best friend.”

Juice WRLD dies at 21

Image result for juice worldEnding the year off on a sour note was the unfortunate passing of Juice WRLD. He suffered from a seizure after landing at Chicago’s Midway airport and later died at the hospital he was taken to. He was only 21.

Many fans found his death tragically ironic as he had previously rapped about dying at 21 on one of his singles about another late rapper XXXTentacion. Many fans posted tribute photos online and shared their condolences.

It’s been a very interesting year with many different twists and turns. While we are ending 2019 on a very sad note we are simultaneously left with a plethora of standout records that came out this year. My next article will be my top albums of the year, stay tuned!

Updating my top ten list from 2018

I’m a firm believer in the idea that opinions can change. For better or for worse. This year the list of my top albums is going to be well over 10. This wild leap from last year is mainly due to the fact my love of music has deepened immensely since then. I’ve made it a point to listen to more albums than singles and it’s really paid off. Last year my list was lackluster and made no sense in some cases. I’ve also listened to more from that year and my opinions have changed deeply. So I’m updating it and also adding a few extra. Hope you enjoy. My 2019 list will be out next month!

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16. Twin Fantasy – Car Seat Headrest (remaster)

Yes, I’m aware this album already came out but I genuinely feel the remaster is the ideal way to experience this album. It takes what was already great about the original and makes it that much better.

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15. Suspiria – Thom Yorke

Not much else to say, I still love this soundtrack.

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14. ye – Kanye West

I hate being a Kanye fan. It’s awesome.

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13. Ballads 1 – Joji

This album aged really badly for me. Still, a really good first half but some tracks don’t hit as well as others.

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12. Electricity is on Our Side – Busdriver

A genuinely electrifying experience. Absolutely captivating production and an insane rapping performance from Busdriver.

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11. Safe in the Hands of Love – Yves Tumor

It’s hard to describe the intricacies of this album without sounding like I’m relaying a vivid fever dream. To be honest, I think that’s what I love about it. Some tracks flow cohesively and others don’t. It’s a gamble but one I’m glad I took.

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10. Die Lit – Playboi Carti

This is such a rapid departure from his previous efforts, I am so pleased with his growth. This is one of the few XXL 2017 freshmen that truly rose to their potential afterward. I cannot wait to see what he has in store after.

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9. Daytona – Pusha T

What happens when you cross a cocaine-addicted rapper, Kanye West, and an $85,000 dollar album cover? The answer is simple. A disturbingly good album. Yeah, that’s the only bit I had for this one.

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8. Tha Carter V – Lil Wayne

I hold much of the same reservations about this album that I did last year. Some tracks are a bit spotty but I believe the charm is still there.

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7. KIDS SEE GHOSTS – KIDS SEE GHOSTS

I needed a few more listens to really appreciate this one.

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6. I hate my life and I really wish people would stop telling me not to – $ilkMoney

I don’t know why Tyler, The Creator is on this record so heavily but I am not complaining. $ilkMoney has a voice unmatched by most in the industry today. His songs are very reminiscent of the 90’s gangster rap scene while maintaining a heavy grip on the contemporary industry. My only gripe is that the record is too short. Other than that, call it a classic.

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5. TA1300 – Denzel Curry

Introspective, dark, and unbelievably well-produced are the only words I can use to describe Denzel Curry’s magnum opus. Really upset I didn’t give this one a chance sooner.

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4. Veteran – JPEGMafia

JPEGMafias politically charged, incredibly solid album really resonated with me since my first listen in early 2019. It’s an abrasive take on Hip-hop reminiscent of a lot of the early work of Death Grips. However, it manages to stand out and bloom into a piece of art all its own. Each track has it’s own lucid experience to offer.

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3. Year of the Snitch – Death Grips

Yep still great.

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2. You Won’t Get What You Want – Daughters

I don’t know what to say about this record Fantano hasn’t already. I could give this record an oral lavishing for hours and it wouldn’t even capture a modicum of what it truly has to offer. Easily one of the most standout albums of this decade. So much passion and thought has been bled into this record it practically emanates raw talent. Don’t even think about sleeping on this. You will be missing out on a truly enthralling experience.

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1. Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino – Arctic Monkeys

After all these years this record is STILL the king.