I’ve been listening to J Cole and Kendricks discography the past few days to refresh my memory... 

I’ve been listening to J Cole and Kendricks discography the past few days to refresh my memory etc. Few thoughts.

Cole improved a lot the past few albums as a lyricist. Between Born Sinner and KOD, I think he was trying to figure out how to make ‘commercial music’, so the sing songy stuff and more flow focus over lyricism, which lost me as I was a fan before he got signed when I saw the Who Dat video, he had a fire and raw energy and upon getting signed its like he was trying to figure out how to fit in the industry and make hit music. And I just felt Drake and Big Sean was doing that so much better. Then Kendrick did the conscious thing so much better so Cole was trying to figure out where he fit in and he even acknowledged that in recent tracks and this latest Kendrick diss (which was cool). But he’s found his stride as of recent years.

The Off Season is really good, he’s really spittin on there. Might be his best work so far?
Cole said TPAB was boring. I listen to that album occasionally but I went back to it this morning. J Cole has never had an album as layered and cohesive as this. As well produced, written and musical. I can see how it can be boring to people that only listen to hiphop and r&b, but if you have any depth to your musical taste, TPAB is in the top 50 hiphop albums ever. There’s nothing to compare it to in modern rap. It changed the game in the same ways every bonafide classic did before it and no hiphop album has since.
J Cole knows he’s been playing catch up and admits that. If 'bars’ is what you’re looking for, then I’d say Cole has definitely been giving us solid bars more consistently! He’s also given general hiphop fans more vibes as of late, Cole can fit in on playlists with a lot of contemporary rappers moreso than Kendrick rn. He’s been busier for sure bc again he’s playing catch up.
I just don’t think Cole is as good an overall hiphop artist and songwriter as Kendrick. I’ve yet to hear a song as well written and iconic as 'Alright’, or 'Money Trees’ or Backseat Freestyle’ or 'Swimming Pools’, or emotionally resonant as 'Sing About Me’ 'The Heart Part 5’ or Bitch Dont Kill My Vibe, or just flat out vibes or bangers like 'Loyalty’, Element, DNA, etc.
I really just think people have recency bias, Kendrick went quiet a bit and didn’t make any radio singles on his last project and went away from the industry in silent protest and some people forgot how impactful he was and how much of a game changer his art is. But that’s hip-hop and social media age for ya. It’s looking like Kendrick is going to remind people this year.

What’s Up With This Generation? 

Don’t let these new beliefs, movements, pop culture, social media, etc fool you, many  young adults are depressed, battling anxiety, addictions, etc just coping through websites and streaming services. Hanging on with incredible strength. What you may see as weird behavior are defense mechanisms as what was purported to protect them, provide them peace, happiness and meaning failed. Yet none of their elders want to admit that.  They don’t need judgement, they need patience, willingness to understand and love. They inherited a world nobody really took good care of, that was hoisted up by half truths and wishful thinking,  they breathe industrial age air, maneuver through space age waste and become paralyzed by information age options. They bear the trauma of every generation before them. They don’t need anyone to bash them, they need the older generations  to say we’re sorry, and we’re listening, because everything hinges upon what this generation does. 

All Critics Matter 

Often when i criticize something people take it as me saying it’s ‘bad’ or shouldn’t be liked/enjoyed/etc. People don’t read fully what I’m saying. A popular saying nowadays is “let people enjoy things”. I and agree with that but I never criticize anything that I don’t find any redeeming qualities or interest in–that I don’t enjoy or was looking to enjoy. I’m just being thorough in my analysis of it. You can use sports as an example, I may like Lamelo Ball as a player, but I’m not going to put him in the same category as Steph Curry or Lebron or even Trae Young or Luka at this point. Part of my fandom is acknowledging his flaws and weaknesses with the hopes that he will work on them and get even better.  A lot of people as of late like something because it personally entertains them, then overrate  it, or overlook its flaws.  This kind of culture is why it seems were flooded with mediocre and/or shallow content nowadays and lack very many truly great masterpieces in the mainstream. To get masterpieces you  need a really rigorous refining process and a high standard. If most people just take anything as long as they have something to occasionally look up at from their phones or play in the background, just something to keep them distracted in between other distractions, not something to attract them to a greater appreciation  or understanding of art, craft,  beauty, virtues, knowledge, and humanity  we’re not building or cultivating anything special as a culture or society, we’re just pointlessly existing. It’s not about bringing anyone or their art down, it’s about bringing all of us up. Excellence. 

Local Music Scene Dos and Donts 

DO make music. Don’t just talk about making music (and make do’s and don’t lists) on facebook posts, subtweet other artists, promoters, etc and make instagram posts about how this year is going to be your year. Write some mf songs and record them bitches. Then upload them shits to your digital streaming platform of choice. Keep doing that. Damn. 

DO enjoy yourself. Complaining about the local scene or lack of support, etc all the time just gets stale really fast. Have fun. sell a few shirts. Make some memories. 

DON’T let the bad experiences and people who DO all the DONT’s on this list get you burnt out and jaded about being an artist/creative. 

DON’T think you’re better than the local music scene then expect support from the local music scene. LOL come on 

DO support other local artists. 

DON’T be fake and support art you don’t like just to get support back or be seen as ‘supportive’. You’ll just end up asking a guy “whats your name again?” at his album release show.

DO be inclusive. You don’t want to clique your way out of having more fans. Or maybe you do. But why not welcome everyone with your art. The only real opp is poverty caused by corrupt capitalism and *Youtube ad interrupts*


DON’T expect everyone to be cool and be friends. There’s always going to be the competitive angle to art. But find ways to turn that tension into fair skill sharpening competition or collaboration. Likewise there will also be people and aspects of culture that aren’t as compatible with others. Sometimes there’s  touchy history or politics or personal conflict. Be mindful of that when planning events, booking acts, reaching out to collaborate, separation isn’t always bad, just be thorough in knowing the vibes and finding the points where people can connect, there’s usually some point at which they can. 

DO go out to see other local talent (if you don’t have kids, or have a cool ass baby mama/daddy)

DON’T say you’re going to put the city or scene on the map. Unless you’re actually going to fucking do it, and even then i highly recommend to just wait until you do it to be safe. 

DO support genres outside your own. A healthy music scene isn’t just one thriving genre. 

Its ok to look to bigger city scenes or the mainstream industry for inspiration but DO think of ways to highlight the uniqueness of your city and its sounds. 

DON’T shit on the local scene. You live here, its yours, be real about the issues, but not dismissive. 

To be continued…maybe

Do You Need Expensive Music Gear? 

you don’t need expensive music gear to make great music. The only reason many pros have expensive gear is so they can work faster and more efficiently for business purposes. I can dial in a good attack and release setting for a drum sound with stock Logic or Ableton or Pro Tools plugins but something like Transient Master by NI shaves off a few extra minutes and in the context of a session or mix that can keep everything moving smoothly. The expensive stuff is mostly for quality of life stuff, you can use 12 stock plugins or 1 one really good 3rd party plugin. Spend hours tweaking a software synth and adding saturation etc to make it sound more analog or just having an alanog synth that just sounds like what you want already with the twist of a few knobs.  A focusrite and a universal audio interface don’t really sound all that much different,  especially if the source youre recording is great, the UAD interface is just made better so if you’re with a special client, you don’t want to have something that craps out on you or doesn’t have enough I/O or a cheap headphone jack or no alternate outputs, or latency issues, or a faulty usb jack, etc. In most cases you get what you pay for, and that doesn’t necessarily mean in terms of sound, just quality of parts and functionality. So whether or not you should invest in high end gear depends on what you’re doing. If you’re working alone and only working on your own music or a few friends/collaborators, use what you have. But if you’re running a business and want to keep things moving, invest in gear you can depend on that is versatile and handle many different sources well, with good quality components, from reputable companies with great customer service that stand by their name and products. 

Why I’m a Christian But Not Really 

I used to feel I couldn’t consider myself a Christian because I didn’t fully agree with any of the major denominations and there were/are so many connotations when it comes to calling one a ‘Christian’. So for a while I just told people I was atheist or agnostic. But I pray. I like reading the bible at times. I like a lot of what smart and thoughtful Christians like C.S. Lewis has to say. Being raised Christian, there are aspects of it that are a part of me, who I am. Many say you can’t “pick and choose which scriptures you like”, but thats essentially what the founders of the denominations did. So much of theology and church practice, etc evolved over the centuries.  None of them fully agree with each other. Are Catholics Christians? Black Hebrew Israelites? Oneness Pentecostals?  Many consider others heretical for allowing women as pastors. Many say you must pay tithes or God won’t bless you, others say tithes is not required. Some say you must take everything in the bible literally, so they believe the earth is 6,000 years old, others say its all allegorical. And when people take issue with all these various contradictions amongst Christianity, what do they do? They start a new church! It starts out rejected by the other denominations but as it grows and more people join, it may eventually become recognized as at least within the ‘Apostles Creed’. Or not, they may still be rejected by the ‘orthodoxy’ (which is just a fancy word for popular, dominant, politically influential Christian denominations) then those people would consider themselves the ‘true Christians’. Then this church itself begins to have its own issues tying its various interpretations together.  I’d just rather practice what makes sense to me and leave the church thing alone though I do see the value in it for others (who don’t feel pressured to go out of a belief that they’re going to hell or outside of God’s will if they don’t). Its just not for me. But for a few reasons, I still like considering myself a Christian these days. When you were raised Christian, it can be awkward at gatherings during the prayer or spiritual conversations for people who aren’t ‘in the fold’, so I’d like to redefine what that means. Its about tradition, culture and not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Its my love for people and accepting of who I am why I desire to be called a Christian and be amongst those broadening what that means. I don’t the like the militant atheist or snarky agnostic approach to handling philosophical differences.  I think we can all agree there’s a huge aspect of our lives that just looms over us, the unknown, its very humble to acknowledge it and try to find some connection to it or explanation of it, and even work our way through explanations of it enough to figure out what our next steps should be. I think we can still love each other while having different methods and ‘revelations’ in regards to the unknown. I think one can be respectful of the bible and specific religious practices as it pertains to those who value them deeply while also rejecting the aspects we find harmful, nonsensical, or arbitrary. 

Lil Nas X Is The Most Gangsta Rapper in 2021 

A lot of  dudes in hiphop culture don’t have a problem with lil Nas X—until they get around the homies, or the barbershop or on the block, nobody wants to show any sign of weakness or vulnerability. Its not even homophobia for real (though homophobia is part of it), because hiphop has always accepted gay women from queen latifah,to snoop from The Wire, girl on girl porn, etc dudes always either liked the sight of two women together or accepted women that act just like the men. Its really the concept of masculinity and what a man is supposed to be and HAS to be in society. You come off as too soft in the wrong crowds and you can get robbed, killed, etc. Or to a lesser extent, not respected or given a voice. You are seen as weak. It likely won’t change anytime soon because most women don’t want a man that can be seen as weak, submissive or carries feminine traits. So you really have a lot of dudes that are softer and more open minded inside but have to pretend to be ignorant and hard for survival. The irony is, that the hardest and most brave dudes are gay men like Lil Nas X that aren’t afraid of challenging all of that. 

Space Jam Too Much 

Its ok to like space jam 2.
Its ok to criticize it.
I think many have this idea that because something is a “kids movie” it should be critic proof and I don’t understand it because it was made by adults, who are professionals. If it was made by kids I’d understand that logic. But for a movie with Game of Thrones and The Matrix references, I think its safe to say they knew kids wouldn’t be watching it alone.
My issue with Space Jam 2 is I notice something unfortunate happening in the entertainment industry (been happening for decades but now REALLY getting out of hand) where big media corporations are investing much more into owning legacy IPs and marketing than actual writing and creative talent for new ideas, stories and characters. Putting a Matrix sequence in Space Jam 2  isn’t great writing, (like it was in Shrek 20 years ago before every other movie started doing it ) its stunt referencing  brand recognition marketing posing as a sight gag. Super Bowl commercial stuff. 
Many critics criticized Ready Player One for that however I feel they overlooked the good storytelling and action setpieces in that film that earned, say, its  King Kong cameo. The King Kong appearance in Space Jam 2 felt forced and thats before it evoked Denzel’s infamous rant in Training Day.
It just all felt like none of these references made any sense outside of the fact that there are new Matrix movies on the horizon, new Game of Thrones spin-offs, and perhaps more King Kong blockbusters awaiting us as well as an overall streaming service where we can catch all the ‘classics’ referenced for only  $15 a month!  
Now to be fair, you can say Space Jam 2 itself was inherently predestined to be a feature length commercial  being a reboot sequel of what amounted to the unofficial original “most ambitious crossover event in film history” decades before the MCU’s Infinity War. However I think it crosses a line of replacing coherent storytelling with the spectacle of brand recognition in ways the original Space Jam nor the  Marvel films  never approached. 
The final basketball game in A new Legacy is a great example of that. Whereas in the original film, the writers used basic pacing, banter between the characters and the mechanics of basketball (like any good sports film would) to build some tension and stakes. In the sequel there’s just random introductions of some new familiar character or icon or using existing characters to reference something else in pop culture (Porky Pig is the Notorious PIG, because kids would get that) to push the action of the game along. it’s all supposed to be funny or entertaining because, well, you know, we ‘get that reference’.  It drags on with this seemingly for twice as long as the game in the original. It doesn’t help that the game is much further away in space from actual basketball than computer processors in 1996 could handle. It all amounts to a narrative mess, that admittedly does keep attention spans due to the sheer amount of things happening at once. Multi-core processors being pushed to the max for the multi-tasking generation who will be watching with a phone and tablet in their lap with multiple tabs open. 
Its not without its charms however. Lebron is amiable, playing a somewhat more serious version of his persona he employs for Nike ads. His acting is about on par with Michael Jordan’s, thought this script would’ve exposed Michael Jordans lack of real acting talent as well. The cgi is beautiful to watch throughout, though one can expect that from any blockbuster nowadays, but it does help that they had the tried and true character designs of the Looney Tunes to prop up the overall aesthetics. Kids will definitely enjoy  this movie for the most part, however that should be no excuse to overlook its glaring flaws, as kids aren’t hard to please. These entertainment juggernauts know that, which is why it seems they are working overtime to keep us as indiscriminate  and wide eyed about all our favorite characters (and icons) and brands as children. 

Some Random Thoughts on Friendship 

A great way to tell if someone is truly a friend is pay attention to how they respond when you share some good news with them. A true friend won’t immediately think about what the news means for them or your relationship with them. A true friend won’t immediately downplay something you’re excited about even if they feel it’s not that great. They will trust your judgement–if they don’t trust your judgement, its likely because they have predatory intentions with you and rely on what they perceive as your lack of judgement to manipulate you. A true friend wouldn’t be your friend if they felt they couldn’t trust your decision-making enough to be excited with you during such a moment.  A true friend is someone that will do what they can to help you win and not be afraid to take an L with you. 

Some Random Thoughts on Friendship 

A great way to tell if someone is truly a friend is pay attention to how they respond when you share some good news with them. A true friend won’t immediately think about what the news means for them or your relationship with them. A true friend won’t immediately downplay something you’re excited about even if they feel it’s not that great. They will trust your judgement–if they don’t trust your judgement, its likely because they have predatory intentions with you and rely on what they perceive as your lack of judgement to manipulate you. A true friend wouldn’t be your friend if they felt they couldn’t trust your decision-making.  A true friend is someone that will do what they can to help you win and not be afraid to take an L with you.