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Goldchain – No Sleeping Now

I’ve been listening to a Josh Waitzkin interview recently that’s pretty much changed my entire culture. It’s about as deep and loaded as it gets but one of the main themes in it is the cultivation of quality and creating empty space as a way of life.

Think about how you spend your time right now. Think about how at almost every single moment most of us are taking in some sort of input. Tumbler, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Netflix. Pick your poison, the point is we’re always doing something. Always feeding ourselves information and occupying every second of our lives.

But what are we neglecting in the process? When your mind is always occupied, always seeing and hearing something. When there’s always noise, what can’t you hear? Yourself.

Once I heard that I immediately went on a consumption diet. Choosing to reflect on my own thoughts instead of the habitual internet time killer. What I’m finding has me a bit uneasy.

I was laying down in bed yesterday, in my mind. Finally listening to my internal voice and paying attention. During my reflection I had a vision that my own mind had become a ghost town. All the store fronts and homes represented neglected ideas. Once a bustling town, now abandoned and forgotten. I was walking around seeing questions I no longer asked, dreams I haven’t seen in years. Then I remembered myself playing as a child, I remember when this place was thriving. Man, I I haven’t been present in my own mind.

I’ve been taking in too much information and not creating enough empty space to sit and process it all. Uploading all my thoughts to computers. Sharing would be visions with Snapchat instead if my own mind.

In the dream, I sat down on a bench with my hands to my face asked – where have I been? Where is my mind? Like most of us, I’ve been living in corporate cyber ghettos and completely consumed by work. Culture is in constant go mode, the expectations of our jobs are intense. Little in our culture tells us to stop and reflect. It’s all reactive, no wonder it’s all so much harder than it needs to be.

So I realized that with so much noise coming in I haven’t been able to hear my mind. That realization hit me hard at about 3am last night. I couldn’t sleep. Being a fully immersed in culture is my job. It’s a hard realization when that takes you away from yourself. Enjoy.

F&%k it, the same thing make you laugh make you cry
That’s right, the same game that make you math could make you die…” – Jay-Z

From EMPT Radio: March 2016


Vokes – Value

The 80/20 Principle in brief means that 20% of your actions, inputs, or products or services will create 80% of what you want – whatever you want that to be.” – Tim Ferriss

That might sound like business jargon but it applies to just about anything. It’s the difference between all the things you have and the things you use. The difference between your friends and the people who show up when you need them.

Put simply, it means that there’s a huge disproportion between what we spend most of our energy on and the return we get from it. Honing in on this allows you to cut the fat and make the most out of your time, money, relationships and life in general.

The larger issue at hand here is value and consequently appreciation. For me, that’s what it comes down to these days. Consumerism has us so twisted that we don’t understand just how amazing some of the most basic things we have are. If you want water, all you have to do is lift a handle. Did you have to create an entire water system to make that possible? The answer is no.

Your car, be it a run down Honda or a Zonda can get you from point A to point B. You sit inside a machine and it takes you where ever there are roads. Did you have to invent the combustible engine? The answer is no. These are some of the things that fall in that 20% category that add 80% of value to your life.

Now think about some of the things you stress about that don’t fall in this category. If it makes up 80%, it’s most of those things. You might be working your ass off for a lot that adds very little to your life. That’s no way to live.


RIP Phife Dawg


The five-foot assassin made it all ok for me. He single-handedly sorted out all of my confusion, and boy was there a lot. I was a 14 year old jewish kid living in Boulder, Colorado trying to make sense of my raging obsession with hiphop. I knew I loved the beats, I knew I loved the rhyming and the flows, but none of the topics or content resonated with me at all. I couldn’t relate to Public Enemy’s need to fight the power, though their passion and talent spoke to my soul. Like Two Live Crew, I too wanted some pu$$y, but I was years away from that fun stuff. Easy-E’s voice was really cool, but his album, and NWA’s scared the shit out of me, and honestly I never found the beats/production/west coast vibe all that hot.

But then Phife came to the rescue. He was short, like me. He was a Jets fan, like me. He felt insecure around girls, like me. He loved hanging out with his friends and talking shit, like me. He was simply a cool ass kid that rapped in a way that was so clear and pure it was impossible not to relate to him. Q-Tip always got most of the props because he was way more outgoing and had incredible producer chops to go along with his lyrical talents, but I’ve always believed the soul of A Tribe Called Quest was Phife. He kept it low-key on “People’s Instinctive Travels” while Hippie Q-Tip took front and center, and that worked perfectly for them at the time. But you could tell there was a lot more to Phife than his background guy role on that debut album. Thank goodness that Tip allowed Phife to take on a bigger role for “Low End Theory” because he morphed into an absolute beast on that record. He reeled Q-Tip in from hippie-town and ATQC became the poster children for swagged out east coast hiphop. Plain and simple, there was nothing cooler in music. The beats, the flows, the every-man lyrics, the fashion, their crew (Native Tongues), it all came together with these guys like no group before them, or possibly after them. I truly believe that “Low End Theory” and “Midnight Marauders” are and always will be the backbone of what we know as hiphop, but frankly thats a redundant statement at this point.

My point is, it was Phife that tied it all together, like the rug in Big Lebowski. His simple but wise words allowed anyone and everyone to become a listener of hiphop. I remember playing Phife’s verses for my parents when trying to convince them that hiphop was a real form of music. If you’re reading this and don’t know what “Microphone check 1-2, what is this, the five-foot assassin with the ruff neck business” means or where it comes from, go back through ATCQ’s catalog immediately and absorb the greatness of a sorely underrated MC that inspired a generation of kids not only get into hiphop, but to start rapping themselves (me included). He provided us kids – white, black and every other race – a true connection to hiphop by simply talking about life in general. Most of us couldn’t relate to a story about a drive by shooting or a drug deal gone bad, but we sure could relate to taking our nephew down to Kay-Bee toy store or getting benched by the high school basketball coach cause our jump shot sucked. RIP Phife! But let’s not be too sad, instead let’s be grateful that he’s given us yet another reason to revisit his legendary music.


EMPT Radio: March 2016

If you haven’t been following this months list here it is. Back at it again.


Danny Seth – I Arise Because (Prod. Ducko Mcfli & Jgramm)

“You’re lucky.”

A conversation with an old friend from an old town landed here. We were talking about what we had been up to for ten years since we last saw each other. He was living in the same town as a new firefighter. He had the same smile and a new address in town.

He asked me what I had been doing and we started talking about where we went to school and what jobs we did after. I left for New York and worked on Wall Street, then midtown, to LA then London. I had always talked about how I would end up here. He stayed in town. He worked different jobs and was happy and tanned  from the Florida sun and didn’t see the big deal about signing up to save lives for living. It was “an easy fit” he humbly noted. I told him what I do in film and travelling and his eyebrows raised. “You’re lucky.”

I would have left then if he didn’t have the same smile. Accomplishment and luck are different things. If you are lucky, you didn’t accomplish it, you were given it. When you talk to someone and say “You’re lucky” to whatever they accomplished, well fuck you. It is saying late nights, working over the weekend, turning down vacations, putting things like a serious relationship and kids on hold so you can accomplish what you wanted- was an act of luck. 

Would you ever say “You’re lucky!” To a veterinarian? Or a doctor? No. You think, “Fuck, this person went to school forever and is doing something to help others.” And out loud, “Wow, good for you!” Look, I love my job. I am hungry it every day I walk in, which I would say I am lucky to have found that. I don’t save lives with by using doctor tools, but I make people laugh, think escape through my job in being creative. I also work hard. I stay late. The “I don’t know how she does it” idea is a pedestal that is given to people when they don’t want to think about how you did it all. It was staying late. Not going out as much. Taking night classes. It is the new Benjamin’s to keep up with. It is the idea that we should be somewhere by some time, like an appointment we were born into. I blurt out “I didn’t get lucky. I worked really hard everyday for the last ten years.”

Ahem. This is not about modesty. It is about keeping realistic visions of ourselves and what we want in perspective. And that effects others.  

I understood, what he meant. It was good to see someone from a lifetime ago. I remember his bowl cut from elementary school as he goes on about where he went fishing recently down the coast as we keep talking.

The next day my sister said she heard me say that and that she had never heard someone say it was hard work, not luck or offer a coy smile. This is why I love hip-hop. Many songs talk about where the artist came from. The adversity they faced. The emotion in it. It is like the Ode to a Better Life. Shouldn’t we be taking this mentality when we talk about what we accomplished? 

Danny Seth sings about this in his track I Arise. He made it. He did it on his own, too.

Listen to this on the EMPT Hiphop Playlist.

EMPT, Etm