Skip to content

RKCB – Lights Low

I remember years ago I had this friend who used to always talk about his “secret girlfriend.” He would talk about how she’d booty call him, she’d only come around at night, she’d leave before he woke up in the morning, etc. It sounded like heaven and the stories were always pretty captivating, though calling her “secret” always struck me as ironic considering he talked about her incessantly, but that’s not either here nor there. Usually she’d be wasted when she’d call him at like 2am when the bars closed, and she’d come over and have her way with him. Or sometimes she’d come over before she went out to party, complaining to my buddy about how annoying her friends are, or bragging to him about how many dudes hit on her when she went out the night before. The thing was, she was super hot, so she could easily get away with all the vapid one-way conversations. She could get away with toying with dudes non-stop, and I’m sure my buddy wasn’t the only one she was toying with at that moment. But, again, she was super hot.

It was all fun and games until he fell in love with her, and then he started to wonder and worry about why they couldn’t take this “relationship” further than some late night calls and drunken (at least she was) romps in the sheets (“with the bedposts watching” as singer Casey Barth so eloquently croons). As the situation started to wear on him more, he took inventory of their hang-outs, and realized he had never once seen her in the daylight. The only time she ever made an appearance was after the sun had set, with the “lights low.” In his head he replayed the conversations they had and realized she never once asked him a thing about his life. She just talked and talked and bragged and talked and smoked a cig and talked some more. I remember talking to him while he had this realization, and it felt just like that scene in “High Fidelity” when Jon Cusak’s character realizes that Catherine Zeta-Jones’s character is a rude, mean, awful person without much to offer. But, she was super hot, so…

But as we discussed all the ways she had wronged my buddy, we realized that the way she acted is pretty much the way most guys act with women in general, so all of a sudden he didn’t feel so bad anymore. Maybe it’s good to have the tables turned on you every now and then, it keeps you on your toes.

That said, I feel for Riley Knapp and Casey Barth (RKCB y’all). I’ve seen firsthand how a “secret girlfriend” reduced my buddy to a confused mess of a man. But, again, she was super hot…

BLUFRANK – Feelings Installed

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 7.34.29 PM

It’s funny that when I heard this track I instantly pictured dark New York City Winter nights with a lot of fast driving thru Manhattan streets and aves. Take last year, this day. I just left Engine Room’s Holiday Party downtown in FiDi and was headed up the west side highway to Vinateria on the corner of 119th & Frederick to meet Lauren. We were going to my apartment in Harlem afterwards to do what adults do, and then I had to head all the way back down to my friend’s party in the West Village, which ended in Chinatown right after that to see another friend spin. When I relive that night all I see are flashes of NYC traffic and us speeding through the avenues to get by. Now that I think of that night again, we may even have hit up AVENUE as well.

Anyway, The producer of this one: BLUFRANK, claims that the inspiration for this ride your about to listen to comes from:

too many hours spent on Cairo’s Highways! specially the Ring Road.”

I can’t wait to see NYC again. If it’s this winter, then I can’t wait to be in ubers zipping through the city. The holiday lights over 5th Ave, the wet snow on the streets, the cheesy colored food trucks on 6th Ave with lines of smartphones screens down to 7th. The way 57th St. looks coming down off of The West Side Highway, frozen cobblestone streets in Dumbo, candlelit dinners and much-too-dark-to-drink-in wine bars. Big windows peering towards empty Tribeca roads, warming up with fine spirits underneath Pell St., towing our own bottles of Brunello to pizzerias in C. Gardens.

Another little palette-cleanser for your ears. From the highways of Cairo to the streets of New York.

Brika – Sorry

I know you know that I made those mistakes maybe once or twice
By once or twice I mean maybe a couple a hundred times”

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about today. I woke up feeling like a large part of me was missing, or like I was missing a large part of me. I went to lunch with Jordan and even tried to justify that particular feeling as some scientific hum that only a big city like New York could have. You know, something like: “the natural pulse that all big cities across the world produce”. The sound that emanates from the bowel of those very streets that in itself encapsulates every other sound that occurs. The vibrations of the train tunnels caused by all the people, pipes, steel and other noises down there mixed with all the ambient music playing outside. Cars passing one another over the Brooklyn Bridge heading East and West. The laughter, yells, cries and giggles of all the people just living life. The brisk whistles of the frigid wind over the Hudson and onto desolate Battery Park piers. Sure, I miss all of that, but the only thing missing from me today isn’t here because I’m on my millionth fuck up, somehow…

I like Brika. There’s a part of her vocals that pulls me in close and makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like everything is going to be ok. Like there’s hope. In fact, that’s probably why I love her vocals, because I can hear the hope in them. The part of us all that truly believes that our dreams are going to happen and that our wishes will come true. It’s just familiar to me—like home.

There’s a part of me that’s really sad today without the way my life was, not more than two weeks ago. It wasn’t roses and rainbows all day, but it was still a beautiful one. Who would have thought that closing one door behind me would change my life so drastically in just a couple of weeks? I certainly didn’t.

I waited all day to see if something would happen that would spark something inside of me to write today. Here I am on Jordan’s balcony in North Hollywood, facing beautiful kitchens in the shadows of the night sky. Below me a baby blue pool and jacuzzi, above me heaven with all its brightest stars. Just sitting, thinking—wondering if maybe I will have that old life back again someday. Wondering if those things that feel like tiny fragments of sand escaping my fingertips right now will ever be solid states at the grasp of my will, again.

If I could only have seen the future, somehow, I would have never left that morning. I would have stayed behind with what matters to me the most. And then, right now, I wouldn’t be sitting on this balcony by myself in the dark wondering if I will get that imperfectly beautiful life back.

Is it too late to say that I’m sorry?”

D.Corr – Radio Café

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 12.53.31 PM

It was a cold night in LES. Sometime last year during one of the more brutal winters I have ever experienced in NYC. I stood on the street outside of Rochelle’s waiting for a taxi to head back to Harlem. It was raining, so I was under my umbrella. Rain boots, long dark peacoat, black cashmere hat, black wool gloves. It was frigid, and so to pass the time I began doing that thing we do when it’s cold out. You know, where you start thinking of warm places and things to see if your mind is capable of tricking your body. I began thinking of that time we were in Fiji, you and I. As I recalled the first night we spend there, my body began heating up. I couldn’t believe that it was actually working.

My taxi showed up and as it drove me back Uptown I decided to continue to stay in those memories. I remembered going down the giant pool slide together, off of the yacht and into the ocean. I remember the way you looked back at me with that flawless smile. A gorgeous reflection of the sky in your aviators. Your lips magnified in this memory as they approached mine and then we landed underwater—lips still locked, hands all over one another.

It was the actual photo by Remington Long (see above) that inspired this one. The music is the bonus.

I love the Lo-fi sound of D.Corr‘s vocals on this. It’s what brought on the actual memory above of me remembering that memory. I guess it’s the same Lo-fi sound from my childhood. The way really old songs sounded coming out of car radios and Diner jukeboxes that instantly retracted my mind into the past. It’s beautiful how sounds and scents can take us back in time so seamlessly like that.

Radio Café is a tune built on awesome energy that traverses over any possible language barrier because it’s all about vibe instead. Enjoy it.

a Weekend Playlist

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 1.23.21 PM

I can’t be responsible for your happiness when I have no idea what makes you sad. Even still, I don’t want to be responsible for your happiness because right now I have my own to worry about.

I know that sounds like a selfish thing to say, but I say it because I can. And I can say it because I have my own shit that I’m going through. Just because I don’t brood around about it all day and show you my sourpuss face, does not mean that I don’t have negative things happening in my life. So like I just said, ‘I, don’t want to be responsible for YOUR happiness, right now.’ 

A large part of existing in this life is measured by moments, but it’s those moments that you are out there living in-the-now that mean anything. It is those moments that are actually being lived, never relived. See, if you are reliving a moment then you are only watching a recording of a previous moment, and are doing absolutely nothing else, in the now.

Stay focused.

If you need your time to sulk, brood, cry, then that’s what you should do. Don’t go out and do it in front of others. It isn’t fair to their moments; to their time and energy.

Here’s a little weekend mix to help you do whatever it is you want do today. Maybe you do just want to sit at home in bed with your laptop and just stay connected all day. Maybe you’re heading out to brunch with the crew and hit this as you get dressed. Maybe you’re headed out for a run in Central Park or at Runyon. And maybe, you hit play just because.

Joni Payne – Contemporary Love

Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 3.09.08 PM

Moments without breath won’t leave. Seconds of despair that feel like days won’t disappear. In between, we will be surprised and blessed with flashes of real love. We will experience moments of light and moments with too much oxygen. We will live through hope, and then the sun will go down in order for it to come back tomorrow.

Moments of sadness might embrace you as if they will never let you go. So tight; so abrupt. Seconds of grim thoughts will inundate your mind, clogging your dreams, but in between life will give you what you ask of it. It will give you laughter from genuine tears like a sunshower, and it will give you hours of warm embraces made to feel like home.

We will trade one love for another. We will learn how to truly love during that process. We will eventually love something other than ourselves unconditionally, even though most of us genuinely believe that we already have because we have experienced that despair and those short breaths I just spoke about, while being in love. We will learn to let go of the past. We will learn to trim the fat around us.

My son was born on the same exact day as my ex wife. He became the best escape from that past for me. It was like God gave me a whole new love to replace the one that was taken. As if to let me know that he will always give me what I need even when I don’t think that there is anything else I could, need.

Life will somehow correct itself, so don’t worry. The most exciting parts are the ones we least expect. That’s why it is so important to go out and do things you have never done. Meet people you have never seen. Listen to stories you have never heard. Life corrects itself, somehow, so it is important to live it full throttle, even when your heart is struggling to keep apace.

HONNE – Gone Are The Days

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 2.06.46 PM

I’ve been slowly making the transition to lossless audio. Flac, Lossless compression or whatever else you want to refer to it as. In order to do that I’ve had to upgrade all the hardware that I’m listening to my music on, as well as devices. I’m finding out the hard way that even with all of these modifications they mean nothing if the music isn’t available in great quality.

If you listen to something on the Tidal streaming service like Jadakiss‘s latest album: “Top 5 Dead Or Alive”, it’s a sonic mess. Every song is mastered differently, so there’s zero cohesiveness in sound levels and vibe. The mixes are mediocre, at best, and the better sounds only really shine on the track titled Jason. I would have preferred 10 solidly produced and mixed songs over 18 mixtape-quality tracks. It would have made my listening experience better and the production might have commanded better sounds all around, and better mixes.

Chief music critic for the LA Times, Mark Swed says: 

The justification for MP3 compression is that the ear can be tricked through psycho-acoustics. I can attest to that. As a student, I had a friend who was an organist, and I would walk by the chapel on campus and listen for the organ to see if she was there. Time and again, I thought I heard the sound of organ pipes faintly in the distance, but when I peeked in, the organ loft would be empty. It turned out that a nearby hissing steam generator produced white noise containing all frequencies and that my ear picked out the organ frequencies I had been listening for.

Something similar occurs when you compare the newly remastered recordings on MP3 and hi-res. There is too little there with severe compression. Missing is the palpable sonic presence to draw a listener in. Suitable for background, the shallow MP3 encourages grazing and has undoubtedly contributed to the shortening of musical attention spans.

Mark uses Qobuz to get his HiFi sound. I, as of today, am using Tidal. Either way that experience is pointless without better quality from the artists.

And then I go through the submissions pile of music we get sent, and I find a great tune like “Gone Are The Days” by HONNE. The vibe, the groove and the energy of it are all awesome. They are perfect in all the various facets and categories that one could come up with. I only wish that I could listen to something that sounded as if I were sitting right in front of them during a rehearsal rather than feel like I’m listening it through a radio station from a boom box back in the early 90’s. I want those transients blowing passed my shoulders rather than being skimped of them all around. Compression is a motherfucker.

Still, “Gone Are The Days” is a smash hit. It’s good music that features beautiful vocals and great composition. The catchiness of the bassline, the melody, it’s harmonies and the most repetitive set of lyrics found in the song make it gold. If only it had the production value that all the new Adele music has behind it, it would make it timeless.

free your mind,
help you lose control.”

BASECAMP – Emmanual (Stwo Remix)

I guess I never asked you to come with me.”

I was talking to my Dad last night about moving back to America and he was reminding me of the freedom I have with my situation. No kids. Not scared to move to new places. Ability to fund myself. At a place where I don’t call for money, I can now call for insights and advice from my parents. No furniture other than the IKEA stuff that I can leave behind. No kids.

But, I have been with someone for a long time. I met him three weeks after moving to LA years ago and then made it a goal to finally move to London where we met, and I wanted to be since I was 11. It was a relationship built on what we were willing to sacrifice to be with the other. 2AM Skype calls. Expensive tickets. Loopholes in the system to stay bits longer. Align business travel with rendezvous as often as we can. It was a a relationship held together by simple twists of fate.

Midstep, mind changed
Heart hurt and chest pains
Mouth moved, but no sound
We’d gave up our ground
Caught it too late now
We’re moving on
The cards have been laid down
We’re moving”

How long do you keep fighting? Keep doing whatever you can? Something Dad said hit me. “When do you stop fighting for it and get to enjoy it?” I couldn’t answer that question. I have always been fighting for it. The familiar feeling of anxiety when we separated. Like my lungs couldn’t get enough oxygen until I saw him again. Like my vision turned to black and the only thing that made me calm again was seeing him, even if just at our rendezvous somewhere, anywhere for two days. I would plan our next meeting each last day we had.

And I try to hold back
The hundreds of things I have wanted to ask
And I want it so bad (so bad, so bad)
Yeah, I want it so bad”

When I realised I needed to go back, this whole experience now feels like my life was on pause, like I was prolonging the inevitable. Perhaps it was idealistic to think this was anything more than it was. It was a riptide from under our feet, the pulls of reality, of our aspirations – realising that perhaps we were only meant to run perpendicular, no parallel, that our lives wouldn’t allow for anything else.

Chin up, chest out
Feet set, no doubts
You came and you went
Our time was so ill spent”

Perhaps there comes a point when fighting to keep something from falling apart is time we should have spent building something new. Perhaps I should have asked you to come with me and see if you were willing to fight like I did.

This track, the instrumental at the end, all of this makes so much sense to me. The music transcends you in to a feeling euphoria and acceptance. The lyrics reminiscent of the few seconds after you said what you need, but before you turn to walk away.

Model Man – Autumn Thieves

Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 3.39.31 PM

I’m sitting here at a Starbuck’s in sunny California, fresh from getting a new haircut and sad because I had to leave my son behind today. Life’s got me on-the-go yet again—something I guess I’m still not used to. There’s a feeling whenever uncertainty lurks on the shorelines nearby of hopelessness that lingers. At times, that feeling takes over my complete being for a few seconds. It’s almost like that scene in The Matrix where Neo is being taken over by liquid metal, after taking the pill, and is almost drowned by it. Lucky for me, just like in the film, it only lasts mere seconds, and then all hope and positivity come bouncing back into my entire body, and life is beautiful yet again.

But it’s those few seconds of despair that have the biggest impact on me these days. They make me stronger rather than weaker, and they show me that I still have a lot of growth and repairing to do within me if I want to be the best dad ever.

I want to give my son what I didn’t have. I don’t want him going to school feeling sad or getting bullied about not having a dope dad, or not having a dad at all. I want the very best for him, so it was that struggle right there that had me compromising parts of me that I know did not need any help because I had already taken the time out to fix those. Still, I compromised and moved with his mom out here against my better judgement. When two people can be explosive around and towards one another as just friends, imagine what happens when you toss a baby in the mix and decide to cohabit together… Yea. Fire fucking works, to say the least. And then comes the period of reflection where I ask myself how I even got into another explosive bout with her, and that’s when it kicks in that I still have all this growth to do because had I been where I need to be with myself, then I wouldn’t have allowed her words or actions or jabs bother me in the least. I would have and should have brushed it all off as just more noise, especially if I’m trying to teach my son to be the best version of me and her, and the best human he could possibly be.

Leading by example is the only way to redemption. I know now that her and I don’t have to share a bedroom or a roof to be great parents. She’s a really awesome mom. I only hope that she looks at me as a really awesome dad, but even if she doesn’t today, her and him will because the only way to being dope is to, be, dope.

Autumn Thieves by Model Man is apparently a good tune for a Monday reflection session. It’s something you can throw on and work your problems away through. Maybe it’s those piano strokes or just the overall mood of it. Who knows? All I know is that the road ahead of me is somewhat paved, meaning that I know exactly what I have to do and who I have to become. I’m getting there. I am definitely getting there.

AMTRAC – Darkest Sound

Screen Shot 2015-11-22 at 12.37.44 PM

Most of the time our darkest hours are the ones we spend our days and nights anticipating. We forget that we have all the control over the courses of our lives and our futures. Rather than project positivity we brood in all the negative shit that’s happening in our lives, ultimately creating our problems by making them a reality. We do this when we’re not happy about the way something has turned out, but rather than pinpoint all the positive things that surround us we begin embracing and amplifying the negative. It’s like we make a quick list in our heads and immediately just start jotting down all the bad stuff, completely forgetting the good. We also seem to forget that there is bad in almost everything, if you look for it.

That cold or flu that you just got out of nowhere this weekend—you brought that on yourself, believe it or not. It was your mind taking the exhaustions of the negative listings in some other aspect of your life that left itself open for something else to come in and take it over. One mention of a cold or a flu by someone near you or even just on TV, and your mind began working away at creating it. Don’t fail to remember that a cold can’t be caught by running in the rain all day because it is after all a virus, right? Or is it?

My point today is to start changing the way your mind works. Start listing all the good, positive and beautiful things in your life from the moment you wake up in the morning tomorrow even if you do happen to be sick at home with a cold or a flu. The less attention you give that cold or flu the less it will affect you. Haven’t you ever noticed that while you’re eating or having sex the symptoms to these things are nowhere to be found?

Am I saying that we can actually avoid getting sick this winter season? Yes. I am also saying that we can avoid everything negative from now on simply by learning where to point our minds to. With practice, it becomes seamless, like breathing. Start with small things and small lists and jot down only the positive. I mean, you know all the negative shit that’s there and exists already, so why continue to relive it anyway?

Play this AMTRAC tune and start living positively.