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Trails and Ways ft. Harriet Brown – Downright (Falcon Punch Remix)

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As I was half-watching Roger Federer dissect Andy Murray this weekend, one word came to my mind: finesse. It’s why Federer is the best to ever play tennis. It’s why LeBron James will never be Michael Jordan. It’s why John Stockton was better than Gary Payton. It’s why I prefer Pink Floyd to The Rolling Stones.

The ability to finesse and massage your talents and view things from not just a liner, physical line but from a more preternatural, unique way can make all the difference.

My boy Falcon Punch is no John Stockton, but the kid’s got finesse, and it’s a finesse you won’t find on generic EDM house bangaz or some recycled tropical house.

It’s why Falcon Punch is lush. The budding producer’s latest twist is another smooth, balearic one. Yes, it’s how he’s moving (give us more disco), but it’s a proper, nuanced formula with real thought and emotion.

And it’s one that continues to win:


The Code — Electronica

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Last night I caught the new AMY documentary. Last night the silent war between true art and art posers got even realer. Through the documentary you are able to feel and see where real art comes from; it makes itself so obvious. Tony Bennett mentioned that Amy Winehouse was a true Jazz singer, and that Jazz singers don’t like to perform for 50,000 people, it’s just not part of their DNA. This was one of the many complicated factors that constantly always played into Amy’s psyche as a true artist—she didn’t care for it.

Amy had also had other demons that stemmed from bad traumatic memories which she could not let go of. It was that very inability to let go of or learn to let go of those profound memories that led her to constantly seek some form of phantom balance in half-assed men, finding regular escape only in the mind-numbing effects of drugs and alcohol. But without that concoction of factors, could those true and pure works of art that came from her emotions ever even have existed?

This morning I was watching the news and they were chatting with Mr. Brainwash about his new exhibit in the Meatpacking District, and the whole time I am thinking to myself, ‘what a crock of shit’. Here you have an LA real estate mogul who has hired a team of graphic designers and publicists to get his “art” out to the masses, and successfully managed to commercialize himself and his works. Fine, I’m no hater when it comes to entrepreneurs smashing it in capitalists societies because that’s what capitalism is about, but I do have a problem when someone claims that the bullshit they fabricate is art. Call it something else, call it wannabe art for all I care, but don’t sit there and pretend that you know where art even comes from when you don’t have one original creation that your hands were involved with. And that goes the same for writers and musicians, poets and even photographers. Art comes from experience and it is those personal experiences released as bundles of emotion in whatever art form you chose to take up that create true art in its purest form.

Today is slightly grey in NYC, and this song just felt different and appropriate for what I was feeling. I’m generally always happy, but from time to time I have to roll my eyes at all the frauds out there who swear they make art and consider themselves artists. If you don’t sing everyday, you are not a singer. If you don’t write everyday, you are not a writer. Could I too have hired da Vinci to paint me the Mona Lisa and then taken all the credit for it because I paid for it, and then considered myself one of the greatest artists of all time?

“Electronica” by The Code is what I’m banging to right now. Maybe it’s because like Amy, it feels real and not just looks the part.


Thundercat – Them Changes

Pressed play on this sexy baby upon leaving my crib this morning and it just put a bounce in my step immediately, so much so that some fine gentlemen commented on my energy sayin’, “Girl, this Monday is all yours.”  Frankly I am pretty sure they were staring at my ass which has become incredibly fine due to being pregnant and the obsessive amount of working out I do. But hey never pass up a great compliment, right, no harm no foul.  Yup that’s right this EMPT ride or die is bringing in a new member of the family and she is gonna bring some heat, watch out!

This beat tho, I mean all I want on a sunny Monday morning on my way to the subway is some funky Marvin Gaye pickin’ me up but..WHoooo this tickled me even better.  So leave it to the man Thundercat (dude did some amazing contribution to Kendricks latest album), to start your week off with that energy you oh so crave after a spicy Summer weekend.

Seriously tho I need to live vicariously through you all these days since I have a bun in the oven.  This mama still knows how to kick it, except now I am just the Designated Driver, security of your wallet and phone, and the one who will make sure you don’t accidentally wake up the next morning looking at the person next to you saying “What the f*&c!”  Yes ya’ll..Your Welcome!

I love life so much right now, I love Mondays, I love what the future holds, and I want you all to have the same attitude and don’t let the haters mess up that bounce in your step.  Press play and you’ll see what I mean, enjoy the week!


Hot Chip — Need You Now (Moonlight Matters Remix)

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Saturday:

Wake up, eat breakfast, daily routine of morning reads. Jump in the bath and write, do some work. Lunch at Forrest Point in Bushwick with wifi. Wedding going on in the middle of the day inside Forrest Point, have to sit outside. Ordered a mezcal and cider combination, their famous quinoa salad and some tuna tartare tacos. Drive back home.

7pm I jump on the train to Columbus Circle and head to a preview of Park View Lounge inside the Time Warner Building on the 4th floor next to Per Se. Drinks with a view only seen here in this magical town. The sun sets and it makes the buildings over on 5th Avenue look crimson; I’m on my second glass of Herradura Añejo. I stare at the empty balconies along 59th street and wonder how there is a whole world of people living in NYC that would never leave those balconies empty in that way. Sometimes we take the most beautiful things right in front of us for granted. The tall eastern european waitress asks me if I want another glass of the añejo, I decline. Cesar pops in from LA as I am just about to make my way downtown to meet the fellas. He’s staying at the Hudson Hotel a block away so it only makes sense. I hop into a cab and say: ‘Mulberry and Grand, please’.

The sky is a thick black as I happen to look up as I exit the cab, so I know the night has just begun.

I walk down a pair of steps and in through a discreet door in to Mulberry Project and meet Troy and Mike there. Passed the bar heading to the back and passed the kitchen there is a set of stairs that goes up into a backyard. We sit in the pit right in the middle of the patio where we can see everything and everybody. The DJ is playing something that makes me want to dance even though there is no dance floor. I settle for bopping in my seat and order a Christy Mack. We take in the scene and then decide to make moves somewhere more intimate.

As we turn the corner onto Kenmare we see Siam at the door, he let’s us down into La Esquina and we pass by the people trying to refresh his memory of where they once met or how they supposedly know each other, he never recalls. Another DJ spinning more music that my feet want to dance to, we hit the bar. Never once do we check our watches or pull out our phones because the conversations never dry up and whenever they do we pull strangers into them and continue the banter.

12:01AM. Sunday. The night is still young.


Bitcoin & The Arts: An Interview w/ Artist & Composer Zoe Keating

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As music lovers and artists alike I think it is so important to understand the transparencies surrounding us.  It’s important to expand our minds to the unknown, to the unfamiliar, to the things we don’t understand.  With that said I don’t want to say too much because this is a long article that speaks for itself.  The following is an article written by George Howard, an amazing entrepreneurial professor at Berklee School of Music interviewing Zoe Keating…

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Be curious. Read. Seek out interesting people who are experts on things you know nothing about and then just enjoy each others company. That’s my whole approach to life in general.”

I’ve now written two columns focusing on crypto currency (dominantly Bitcoin) and its potential utilization in the arts generally, and music specifically, to engender better tracking and transparency.

These articles have generated conversation, but I’m left with a strong sense that – while many people (a lot of whom profess to be experts) have very strong ideas and opinions about the relative merits and possibilities of crypto currency – there are depressingly few direct examples of the utilization of this technology affecting change with respect to transparency or accounting in art/music.

What compounds the difficulty in terms of pinpointing use cases is that – unlike other emergent technologies (Virtual Reality, etc.), crypto currencies (mostly Bitcoin) are aggressively traded. As such, many thoughts put forward with respect to usages (current or imagined) must be viewed skeptically. One must wonder, for instance, if the person who champions a particular currency-related use case is doing so because he stands to financially benefit; i.e. they might be holding a lot of Bitcoins.

All caveats aside, my enthusiasm for crypto currency remains high, even while specifics around use cases in the arts is cloudy. I thought it wise therefore to bring in another voice — a voice I know to be transparent and trustworthy – to the conversation to discuss this topic.

Zoe Keating is not only a fine musicians/composers (“Into The Trees“, Ms. Keating’s SoundCloud postings), but also an artist who has embraced transparency around her music more so than any artist I know. For example, Ms. Keating frequently posts detailed royalty statements that allow people to see unvarnished accountings.

I imagine it’s this combination of musical brilliance and the embracing of technology/transparency that led Ms. Keating to being invited to The Blockchain Summit held at Richard Branson’s Necker Island that just ended (here is a video of the Blockchain Summit, with Ms. Keating’s music as the score).

I asked Ms. Keating some questions about this experience, and her thoughts on crypto generally, and her responses (edited only for grammar and clarity) are below. I urge you to read the entirety of Ms. Keating’s responses; they are the most clearly articulated on this topic I’ve yet to see.

In the interest of disclosure, I have known Zoe for a number of years, and we did work together on one project several years ago with the composer Mark Isham.

George Howard: What were your overall impressions of the event?

Zoe Keating: My fly-on-the-wall impression was of a passionately engaged group of people – entrepreneurs, investors and thinkers – brought together to explore the potential of the blockchain for the betterment of the world. Yes, they also had a cracking good time on a private island.

I certainly picked the brains of everyone who would tolerate me and the topics were broad. Everything from encoding personal identity and property rights into the blockchain to making elections transparent.

Hernando de Soto was a standout. His book The Mystery of Capital was most talked about. Bill Tai loaned me his copy to read on the beach while I was there.

GH: You’ve been a massive proponent of transparency – going so far as to post your royalty statements. Why do you do this, and what impact has it had?

ZK: I think because I am outside the music industry, much of the way it operates seems absurd to me, so I talk about it. I just always want to make things better and I don’t know if I’ve had any impact, but I do it because I just feel obligated to help.

I just believe in transparency in everything and I’ve put my career outside the mainstream so that I can operate on my own terms. I’ve managed to avoid working with record labels for my entire career.

I initially published my digital music earnings because the dominant story in the press on artist earnings did not reflect my reality, nor that of musical friends I talked to. None of us were concerned about file sharing/piracy, we seemed to sell plenty of music directly to listeners via pay-what-you-want services while at the same time earn very little from streaming.

Since artists under record contracts might be prohibited from publishing their earnings, or might not even know them, I felt obliged to raise my hand and describe my reality. I thought, how can we build a future ecosystem without knowing how the current one actually works?

I expected other unaffiliated artists in my position would do the same, and we could help forward the discussion. However, I found that just like record labels, unaffiliated artists don’t always want transparency either. Why? Because, across the board, from the bottom to the top, the music industry is built on people pretending to be bigger than they really are.

At the same time, other than hit songs, it is near impossible to know what the real popularity of a piece of music is. Nielsen recognized this and added streams to SoundScan rankings, but the internet is far more interesting than that.

What about popularity by “use?” To use myself as an example again, there are to date 15,000 videos on YouTube with my music in them, none of them by me. The videos are other people’s unlicensed dance performances, commercial films, TV shows, student films, experimental films, art projects, soundtracks to gaming session, etc. But currently there is no way to leverage that kind of enthusiasm. Only YouTube knows how popular my music is for unauthorized soundtracks.

I’m interested in using the blockchain to track derivative works. What if you could know the actual reach of something? It Seems like there are entire ecosystems not being leveraged or monetized.

Copyright metadata is just a way to identify who should be paid, and today that is the songwriter and the publisher. It can be surprisingly hard to find out who owns a song, let alone get permission to use it for anything.

If there was a distributed ledger of music metadata, it could keep track not only who created what, but who else was materially involved, from the producer, to the side musicians, to the people who promote it, to the samples taken from another song.

I can imagine a ledger of all that information and an ecosystem of killer apps to visualize usage and relationships. I can imagine a music exchange where the real value of a song could be calculated on the fly. I can imagine instant, frictionless micropayments and the ability to pay collaborators and investors in future earnings without it being an accounting nightmare, and without having to divert money through blackbox entities like ASCAP or the AFM.

Old school record contracts are essentially a way to pay all those entities upfront because there is no easy way to calculate and pay micropayments into the distant future.

We’ve come far in dismantling that system, but have yet to replace it with anything, and that, I think, is where the pain and suffering of artists lies. Right now we have a diminished record label investment engine, yet limited ways to compensate all the parties involved in making something.

I can imagine all this. I’ve been imagining it. I’m sure other people imagine it. But it’s still a dream. I don’t know who can do it or if anyone is doing it and yeah, the technical details are a fucking bitch. But so what? I just think there hasn’t been enough incentive in the music industry, everyone is busy fighting to keep what they already have and what initiative there is has been embarrassingly misguided (TIDAL??? WTF?!).

GH: Do you know of (either from this event or from your own experiences) of examples of artists (in any medium) utilizing crypto? if so, please describe. if not, why not?

ZK: I know Imogen Heap is trying to figure out how to make derivative works (i.e. sampling) and covers both easier to manage, paperwork-wise for her and her fans, and how to share in the success of those works. Last I talked to her last month she was investigating the idea of a music blockchain and/or a new file format.

GH: Do you have a vision for how crypto might impact the artistic realms moving forward? Will you be embracing it if you’re not now.

ZK: I tend to get excited about anything that has potential to put money and power back into the hands of individuals rather than institutions. I’m interested in enabling the musical middle class, just like I’m interested in the fortunes of the middle class at large. I don’t believe that rich vs. poor has to be the only outcome in the music industry.

Like you’ve already written about, the corporate music establishment – i.e. record labels – have no interest in the transparency offered by blockchain.

GH: You are an artist who has handled all of your business affairs. What guidance do you have either to other artists/business people or business people in the arts with respect to crypto/transparency, etc.

ZK: Be curious. Read. Seek out interesting people who are experts on things you know nothing about and then just enjoy each others company. That’s my whole approach to life in general.

…Now that your mind has expanded go enjoy those weekend cocktails and have an extra on me!

~MM

 


BECOME x XYLO – Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

If you haven’t read 1984 by now you’re an asshole.

I was recently watching Tom Ford talk about his artistic relationship with Carine Roitfeld and how well they work together because they’re both highly passionate students of the game who have the same reference points, immediately understand each others inspirations and constantly tap into the well of historical knowledge. That’s beautiful because it allows you to make incredibly informed decisions and have a universal perspective as you tackle something nuanced and culturally complex like art and fashion. Imagine a normal person talking to Carine about fashion and having a strong opinion because they started reading Hypebeast last month. It would never happen but if it did I’d imagine the universe would say something like…

Shut the f&%k up when you talk to me cause I’ll embarrass you.” – Kanye West

Many of you are long-term readers who have grown with me as I’ve grown with you and you have no idea what that means to me but if we’re not all equally hungry for knowledge and learning, constantly seeking expansion and accumulating information we’re going to fall off and turn into old people who only know what they know. That type of shit doesn’t fly in the Space Age. 1984 is a masterpiece, one of the most significant novels of the 20th century and it’s essential reading in this hyper charged BS politically correct climate because it shows you how absolute power works. It frames so much of what we see happening now, you think this is all happening at once because people are suddenly enlightened?

A bill was recently introduced to ban the words “Husband” and “Wife” because they can be considered anti-gay. Jerry Seinfeld’s said something about his daughter that captured it perfectly:

My daughter’s 14. My wife says to her, ‘Well, you know, in the next couple years, I think maybe you’re going to want to be hanging around the city more on the weekends, so you can see boys.’ You know what my daughter says? She says, ‘That’s sexist.’ They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist'; ‘That’s sexist'; ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t know what they’re talking about.”

People who haven’t done homework, who have no reference points are literally regugitating words they hear without understanding what they’re saying or why they’re saying it. I’ll put it this way, there are more pawns than kings. The internet aka dummy megaphone allows for an intelligent player to have the pawns do his bidding by programming them with an agenda and ideas. It’s much better than having a king do the convincing because it’s on the ground and hence seems to be coming from the people. What something like Bruce Jenner represents is so niche that my mind can’t give it attention, thank god, but feed it to media and then populace and it’s the biggest problem on earth. Have you taken a moment to notice how things are presented as absolute now? They put it on a magazine cover, you accept it, there is no other option. Homes, comedians can’t even make jokes right now. Take a moment, a day or two to think about that.

We live in perhaps the most exciting and dynamic time in history and let me tell you something you won’t like, all the divide and conquer war games are a distraction from that. You create as many micro-divisions as possible to have everyone feel separate and on edge. Why? Because the fabricated, often orchestrated issues that are fed to us are not what’s really at play. Just like Trump is a ringer for Jeb and Jeb is a ringer for Hillary, you’re watching a show with the illusion of interactivity. You think it’s because the world is that enlightened all of a sudden that all this shit is popping up? This is a blueprint. I think it was Mark Twain that said, history does not repeat itself but it does rhyme.

We’re being reprogrammed right now, our conversations are being dictated and lines clearly drawn. Now more than ever we have to think for ourselves. The choices they give us are too limited – the devil will kill you and the deep blue sea will drown you. I love this remix but you won’t find me in between either. You’re a limitless human who can make tools, make your own path, fuck all this other noise.


Kyoto — Subterranean

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I feel like that short time period between Memorial Day and July 4th is always madness. Between figuring out what parties to hit up and destinations to take off to, life becomes shorter as our days get faster. It’s always after July 4th that I feel like I can finally lay back and breathe on a pool chair with a good book and just me, the sun and the cool summer breeze. That’s what today’s tune represents to me, and hopefully you will find it just as cool, in the most summer way.

Subterranean” by Kyoto is a chill-house musical composition that is all too perfect for this weekend that has just begun. If you’re heading east to The Hamptons or Montauk and want something smooth to enjoy the ride then definitely add this to your weekend playlist. As a matter of fact, you can add this to your poolside playlists, your boating playlist or just about any other playlist(s) that you have prepared for this weekend because sunny vibes and relaxing energies with a pulse that still leaves a little room for some dancing is exactly what you will get.

Enjoy the first weekend in the Summer where you can actually take some time to breathe the summer in properly, as it is meant to be inhaled, and make the days last longer than yours normally do. Take it in, get golden and chiiiiill.


Hold On To Me

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Yesterday I had a flashback reach out to me. It was the one where I found myself frequenting gatherings with good friends while making certain to keep my eyes wide-open for girls with exceptional smiles. The same flashback that found her very own self with her ears keenly aware for boys of fracturing intelligence. And the same flashback where I mesmerized her with metrics and dazzled her with data while she kept right up with her sharp wit and her beautiful banter. It is always a welcomed flashback, but one that makes us wonder if living these two lives worlds apart that we are living is how it’s even all supposed to be.

and it’s hard to breathe when your lungs are hollow”

Maybe she was reaching out to me to ask me to hold on to her, and maybe my mental response was my way of telling her to “Hold On To Me”, too. I sit her and wonder if I know anything at all. Just when I think I have found the most logical answers to complex situations, those complex situations turn back to becoming simple scenarios where just the complex answers I can only speculate about seem to make any actual sense.

See I got blues now, got sorrow
Feed you news, it’s hard to swallow
She won’t move, but she won’t follow”

Sample Answer’s sweet serenade: “Hold On To Me”, is a fistful of soul wrapped around it with carefully crafted brass knuckles that pack an intense jab straight into your heart alongside its sentimental strings. The beauty of the song comes in the heartbreaking mood the guitar and Sample Answer’s introductory vocals put you into while then creating the feeling of overcoming a breakup and finding strength in a beautiful brass section that’s topped off by anthemic vocals and fit perfectly into one another like the rhythmic lovemaking of intertwining DNAs. It’s the oxymoron of sounds and love that make it so good to listen to, and it’s on repeat for a while this morning as I reflect on that flashback long gone.

And it’s hard to see when the lights are shadow”


Holy ’57 — Island Kids

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Growing up in NYC I can only imagine what growing up on a beach must have been like. There were times when I was much younger that I would have traded our brutal New York City winters for a life laid out on hot sands and crystal blue beaches. “Island Kids” is what I imagine a day in that life to be: waking up to another picture perfect sunrise, rushing to the coastline with your friends and floating the beautiful mid-morning to early-afternoons away staring up at the skies, living somewhere between heaven and reality.

My NYC summers were the complete opposite. They were early mornings full of some cartoons and a lot of imagination, late afternoons found playing stoopball or skellies on the streets between the cars and public buses zooming by, and just about the only water we got to see outside of our apartments were sprinkler caps attached to fire hydrants (johnny pump) that someone’s older brother or dad would set up until the Fire Department came and shut them off. It wasn’t quite the blissful vibe you are able to grasp by listening to this Holy ’57 jam, but it had its moments.

Anyway, for those of you like me that can’t escape the concrete jungle, or don’t have the luxury of waking up and chilling at the beach on this Monday, turn this on and let it play and take you away to those places for the next few minutes. What you will get is an entire day at the beach without any worries wrapped up into four minutes plus of peaceful bliss.

Enjoy.


Fekky — Way Too Much (feat. Skepta)

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I think the UK rap scene has finally broken through into the American Hip Hop culture and it’s in form of Fekky Skepta. These two rap MC’s have recently seen more and more success in their own individual careers throughout The Kingdom and with some of the U.S.A’s highest musical influencers. Fekky popping up late last year in 2014 on California rapper The Game‘s UK tour, and Skepta performing a Kanye collab with Kanye at his secret show at Koko in Camden a few months back. Since then the world has taken more notice of British rappers in general, and two authentic MC’s like Fekky and Skepta only help to solidify what up until now only a few other rap purists knew—that the UK Rap is much too fresh.

With a sound that exudes the fun party-like feel of 80’s rap, the harder cored lyrics of the 90’s when rappers had to rap and actually be good at it, and the new wave sounds of trap music, Fekky Skepta‘s latest collab: “Way Too Much” does a lot for British rap in just one song.

Catchy hook in hand, boisterous flows and some killer production, this song has anthem potential and fits perfectly into any DJ rap sets at any party. Even just playing an instrumental version of the first set of sounds (synth) that play in a 6,3 pattern will get your juices flowing at any party that you would least expect this tune to play. And surely, for anyone who knows it well Way Too Much will make them go crazy as everyone else watches, wondering what those few with their hands in-the-air stomping their feet hard onto the ground know and what they themselves are missing out on.

Too add to an already really dope song on its own, the collaborators have also dropped a video (seen here) that is sure to amp up the song for you even more and understand why these two British representers are the face of the British Rap scene for us over here at EMPT, right now. The video shows influences from Fabolous‘s “Lituation”  video featuring some really fire graffiti artwork, classic throwback fashion pieces and even a smooth nod its lyrics:

Might catch me in the BM with your BM” — Fekky

I got your BM in my BM nigga.” — Fabolous

It seems only right that as we celebrate our Independence from those cheeky Brits here in the states, they celebrate their own independence in the rap world with rap that is consistently only getting stronger.

Cheers.