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La Roux – Uptight Downtown

Sometimes I sit down to write about certain songs and the writing just comes out of my brain. There’s a certain process to writing, that I don’t want to talk about right now. I haven’t fallen this hard for a sound and pop-funk in a while, so I figured I may as well have some fun today while writing about it.

I used to work downtown. Like down, downtown in the Financial District of this fantastic city. People used to ask me what it was like. If you know me in real life (and virtually, I’d hope that my writing is some indicator of my personality), you’ll know that I rarely wear dresses, I live for the spontaneity of an unplanned experience, and rarely say no. (This mode of life was inspired by the Jim Carrey film, “Yes Man” — one that I think often goes overlooked among his works.) So working downtown was interesting. It was a change of pace. Quite literally — every time I got off the subway, I shuffled with the other shufflers. It was always really interesting to me because I never once felt like “a part of the crowd” moving all at once in one cohesive manner. Strangely. But no matter what, I was still an ant in a skyscraper, built for the purpose of funneling workers in and out, daily.

Streets are lined with people, people who want to move, move, move.

This was last summer by the way. I never spent so much time pondering my physical location on this planet, as I did during the summer. I’d take the elevator up 36 flights, sit in a room with my esteemed colleagues, and enter a different brain world. Every once in a while, I’d step outside the building in the middle of the day to make a phone call or catch a breath of fresh air (that high up, you realize, there’s no actual “fresh” air entering your lungs anymore, just recycled) and take note of the surroundings. I’d sit on the stoop of an old historical building nearby, and watch the amount of stress that people carried in their furrowed brows and lips.

I don’t think La Roux had my experience in mind necessarily when this song was conceived. But I think that’s why I love this song so much. On one hand, there’s a literal interpretation. The association that we have with “working downtown” and how it is potentially a place for only a specific type of personality. A certain mold that one fits into. Not always true, but still. I recently used this song in a playlist that I put together, and left it as the ending song. The playlist, themed after the trials and tribulations of love/relationships, ended with this song because I thought despite its fun and catchy sound, the word “uptight” in the title, really stuck out like a sore thumb. And it spoke to so many different types of people. We use it to describe people that we can’t necessarily connect with sometimes, I know I have. Or, within the context of my playlist, the way a person might transform after the demise of a relationship. An unknowing, difficult to associate with human who you once knew in one context, suffering from the shake-ups of an equilibrium, now quaked.

I hope when you dance to this song, that you let it get into your bones. Allow it to permeate the cobwebs of areas once forgotten in your mind, blindly dancing into the night with a new consciousness for that which you may not necessarily relate to. Unwind.

La Roux – Uptight Downtown

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Zeds Dead – Lost You (ft. Twin Shadow & D’Angelo Lacy)


There was a time, not so long ago, when dubstep was a novel and exciting new rhythmic frontier. Born from the musical traditions of reggae (dub), jungle, d&b, and garage, dubstep began in the late 90’s, early aughts in England (always ahead of the curve). The term was literally coined by Ammunition Promotions, a company that promoted the ongoing Forward>> club night (now at the Shoreditch hot spot Plastic People).

The “Forward>> Sound,” it was said, would “make your chest cavity shudder.” It was all bass, all the time, but utilized space and ambient elements to cast a patently evil, lurking impression. The sound had its own radio show, hosted by genre pioneer Kode9, which featured many early pioneers, from Plastician and Digital Mystikz to Skream and Benga, who were arguably the first crossover acts.

Skream’s “Midnight Request Line” was the nascent genre’s first radio hit, and led to influential Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs dedicating an entire show to dubstep. Though the acts were barely known outside of underground circles, the Hobbes show was the start of dubstep’s global march. Within a year, Burial (who was still anonymous and totally unknown to 99.99% of global audiences) was appearing on “Best Of 2006” critics lists and dominating the soundtrack to Alfonso Cuaron’s hit film, “Children of Men” (One of this writer’s all time favorite films).

Over the next three years, audiences grew (via torrent, for the most part) in the USA and beyond, and artists like Joker and Coki gained name recognition. Labels sprang up to capitalize on the new sound’s (though it was almost a decade old already) popularity.

And then it happened.

Britney Spears, of all people, was one of the first pop acts to feature dubstep elements (though I’m sure it wasn’t her choice, but rather the tuned-in producers she worked with). But the blogosphere, which itself was still finding footing in ’07, finally caught on when La Roux released Skream’s remix of “In for the Kill.” Truly, that track was the first international mainstream dubstep success.

We all know what followed. Every pop artist under the sun, from Snoop to Rihanna jumped on the bandwagon, and suddenly top-40 stations sounded an awful lot like a dank warehouse at 3am, except bombastic and recycled, rather than rebellious and grimy.

And soon, tragically, brostep was born. Skrillex is the obvious poster boy for what I describe not as music, but as “Transformers f*cking.” Frat bros all of a sudden “loved raving.” People who would have never listened to metal were, well, listening to metal, albeit in electronic format. Rusko, who had been a legitimate dubstep pioneer, should shoulder some of the blame for this trend, but his dedication to reggae roots gains him some forgiveness. Once Korn got involved, fans of “real” dubstep knew that the genre’s epitaph had been carved.

Zeds Dead emerged as a genre powerhouse in ’09, with the backing of influential producers Kissy Sell Out and Skream. The Canadian duo took a brief step towards brostep, but thankfully stayed out of the truly offensive fray and instead charted a different path focused more on glitch and hip-hop stylings. Their remix of The Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” remains one of the best dubstep remixes ever, and their aggressive collabs (“Undah Yuh Skirt”, for example) with modern reggae greats like Mavado give them a serious street credibility.

I’m no longer the dub-head I once was, and had basically lost track of Zeds Dead until recently. I’m glad to report that “Lost You,” their latest release featuring Twin Shadow and D’Angelo Lacy is a brilliant showcase of their ability to blend genres without alienating fans on either side. This is a track that can drop in a top-40 club or an underground warehouse party without breaking the mood. Twin Shadow’s disco vocals fit perfectly with Zeds’ garage beat, and of course, the drop is dubby as f*ck, but with a “slappa da bass” pop that keeps it from veering into bro-territory.

Zeds Dead – Lost You (ft. Twin Shadow & D’Angelo Lacy)

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Stylo G – Move Back (Grant Nelson Remix)

London, man. Some of the house coming out of there makes me want to pack up my drum machines, leave it all behind and hit the streets. Anyone who remembers the Noctambule parties will also remember our affinity for dirty dance music. It’s not that I don’t like Top 40 when I’m partying, I just like the way darker records can make the environment mysterious, dangerous, sexual and exciting. That feeling you get when you hear something new, that challenges you and is extremely dope at the same time. I know not everybody is on the constant hunt for something new but you don’t really get that feeling when “Happy” comes on, you know. 

This remix by house legend Grant Nelson is exactly what I’m talking about. Those 909 drums and that classic Jackin House bass line makes you move, there’s nothing else to it. For those of you not familiar with Grant Nelson, his productions during the early-mid 90′s literally created Garage. He’s one of the most influential figures in the UK house scene period. It’s no secret that all those new guys you love (i.e. Disclosure, Gorgon City and the likes), take huge influence from this dance music OG. Those Monday blues can’t handle bangers like this.

Stylo G – Move Back (Grant Nelson Remix)


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Bleachers – I Wanna Get Better (RAC Remix)

This mix doesn’t differ very drastically from the original, but RAC tones it down by adding a catchy upbeat guitar and bass. It’s interesting to hear layers manipulated and moved to different parts of the song. You’ll notice the elements of the initial 5 seconds were moved from the background of the first verse of the original. I’ve been a fan of RAC (Remix Artist Collective) for a few years, and have vivid memories of riding my bike around campus jamming to their remix of “Carrie” by SPEAK and “Boy” by Ra Ra Riot. Coincidentally these are two of the first bands I’ve seen live. Luckily I went to a college (Hook ‘em Horns) in a city that prides itself on being the “Music Capital of the World”. It turned me onto music in the best possible way. I suddenly had access to countless concerts, from $5 backyard shows, to huge music fests like Austin City Limits; I was in music heaven. My eyes were opened to the wonderful world of live music- music in its natural state.

After listening to this song a few times, it was stuck. Not the whole song though.. just one line: “I wanna get better!” I even found myself singing it aloud as I was waiting for the elevator at the end of the work day. It was somewhat uncontrollable, and only after the words left my mouth did I realize my actions. Catchy! But it also made me think.. What makes us better? How long can we stay stagnant before realizing it’s time for change? I grew up with a childhood of constant change. We moved around a lot, so I had to get used to being uprooted. Now that i’m independent, and in a stable environment, it’s on me to motivate myself to change, to get better, and evolve as a human being. Learning about other cultures is valuable to me, and it’s one way I’m getting better at living in this crazily diverse world. What motivates you to get better?

Bleachers is made up of the lead guitarist from Fun., and you’ll recognize those prevalent happy beats. “I Wanna Get Better” should be perfect for summer road trips, you singing loudly with your best friends…or not. In which case you can blast this through your headphones and drown out your fellow passengers. RAC does a great job of turning any track into a danceable jam you’re bouncing on your heels along to.

Bleachers – I Wanna Get Better (RAC Remix)

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Et Musique Pour Tous Presents: Les Auteurs — Ashley Hefnawy

We love the trials and tribulations of relationships. If you’re a regular reader of EMPT, you probably already know that. We love love. It’s a complex, difficult, struggling aspect of life, and yet, it’s so easy to rant about. I personally appreciate it because I am not currently in love. Because of that, I geekily analyze every song that even mentions love. All of it is intriguing to me, the beginning, the plot line, the plateau, and the eventual decline. In some rare instances, we find ourselves in situations of “everlasting love.” If you’re in one of those situations at the moment, then you have that extra level of faith that it will continue for you, and you know that it will never falter, no matter your circumstances. I believe I’ve experienced a love like that with people in my life, not necessarily intimate, and I cherish that.

So when Indie Shuffle came to us and asked us to build a themed playlist, I relished the notion of creating a themed playlist that could be about anything I wanted. For the record, every fabulous EMPT writer will have the chance to put together and publish a playlist using Indie Shuffle’s “collections” — which is basically, internet technology that allows you to make playlists and share them with others on your blogs. It’s a beautiful thing.

In this first edition, you’ll notice that the song titles are particularly specific to certain levels of a relationship. The beginning, for me at least, is the friendship that you don’t realize, is turning into something more. It’s the surprise, the moment you go to one of your friends and question, “Is it possible that he likes me? He’s been hitting me up a lot more than usual lately, I honestly thought we were just friends…But he’s so sweet.” Without even realizing, things begin to fall into your lap, and all of a sudden, you’re in blissful love. You stare at each other in parks as if there’s no one around; you know every fleck of brown and orange and yellow in their green/blue eyes. Your heart is on the verge of heart attack every time an intimate moment occurs. It’s easyOne day you wake up and your world is dictated by someone else — how did this happen? You’re so New York City independent, you foxy woman, you. You have your own life, your own friends, and your own weekend plans — but all of a sudden, you don’t. You want to know what they’re doing before you even know what you’re doing. And that scares the shit out of you, causing to look at life with a fearful eye — you’re afraid. And you tell them. But they respond with fear, too, and you both embrace it. If you’re going to fall into this hole, you’re going to fall down together. So you bask in this lavish glory, one of you treats the other like a precious diamond and you go out to expensive dinners and wear expensive shoes. Your life is suddenly wild and you have no idea how it happened.

And then one day you wake up next to this person and you don’t even know who they are. Life’s caught up to you and you’re disgusted by yourself. Or, alternatively, they have that realization about you. Either way, you just wish things could stay like they were before. You want to go back to the park on the water, where you both admitted fear and love all at once. Where you cried because it was overwhelming. You want them to stay. And like that, you’re attempting to move on. It’s over and you’re trying to heal your heart, trying to heal the universe that’s been built around you. You want to get better, but you don’t know how. So you numb the pain. And it turns you into this uptight alternate version of yourself. Or sometimes, it doesn’t. Sometimes, it just makes you into this seemingly carefree human, devoid of emotion, wanting to “experience it all.” You’re trying to embody the idea of a twenty-something.

But deep deep down, you know the environment in which your heart belongs. You just don’t know who should hold it.

This mix is for the love-missers. Hell, I know I miss it. Yeah, I love different people in my life. I allow that emotion to embody different moments of my days, and sometimes, I’m so overwhelmed by it, that I cry. But I never cry in the way that I do when I’m in love with just one person in just one way. And that’s what I miss. I think we all miss that.

Without further ado, please enjoy this first edition of Les Auteurs. And thank you, Indie Shuffle, for giving us this awesome opportunity to tell a story with a playlist.

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It Isn’t Always About The Music

I was visiting one of my best friends in Isla Vista, California on May 23, 2014. His film was accepted into a UC Santa Barbara festival, and I drove up from LA, with a bunch of buddies, to support him. We were looking forward to a fun, wild night (if you’ve ever been to UCSB, you know what I’m talking about).

Almost a week later, I still haven’t processed it fully. I ate pizza next door to IV Deli, the scene of Christopher Martinez’s murder, that afternoon. The BMW crashed to a final halt just a few doors down from where I was staying. Six strangers lost their lives and an idyll was shattered.

Every day, across the world, people are murdered. This time, by random chance, it happened to happen in my geographic vicinity. That’s how I rationalized the night of and morning after. I awoke to my car within the police cordon zone, and was told I couldn’t leave. That occupied my thoughts more than anything else.

I was only able to cry and truly feel a few days later, when the victims’ identities were revealed.

They were all us. They were neighbors, sisters, nephews, best friends, sons, daughters. They were artists, students, lovers, humans. Who knows how many of us passed them in the night, sometime long in the past, or just a week ago, skipping in the sun.

When the police told me I couldn’t leave IV, they said it was because they needed to gather all evidence to make sure they could determine what had happened. This idea seemed insane to me. We know what happened.

The obsession with detail and the transformation of tragedy into some sort of political tool has always made me extremely uncomfortable. Yes, I am a supporter of strict legislative regulation of weapons: You can’t buy a grenade, why can you buy an automatic assault rifle? They aren’t that different. And yes, misogyny, xenophobia and other types of bigotry exist and should be continually fought against in public and private discourse. But these are everyday facts of life, and we should not, as individuals or a nation, need any sort of prompting to face them and fight the perverse special interests that exist to propagate fear in the name of private financial profit.

There is no silver lining. Tragedies will continue, regardless of legislation. Human nature leads some to commit evil – always has, always will. That these instances still make news is heartening; in many parts of the world, murder is so commonplace that, though communities and generations are shattered and left behind, the greater population barely blinks.

As we grasp for meaning and rally behind hashtagged slogans, remember one thing: care. Care for your fellow humans, no matter their relationship to you. Hug your friends, forgive your enemies, grieve for those who have suffered such terrible loss. In a world of antipathy and a news cycle that forgets far too soon, only love and caring on a personal level can bring us together and open the door to a better tomorrow.

Today’s song – “Blackbelt,” by John Grant – holds no relevance to this post, other than that I believe music can be a healing salve in desperate moments. I like it, and I hope you do too.

John Grant – Blackbelt


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EMPT Exclusive: Interview with Betty Who

Betty Who is someone you cannot help but be captivated by. Upon walking in to a café just next door to her looming sound check, I spotted her and her team sitting in a little table in the back, her signature blonde pompadour a giveaway from across the room. Although busy with finishing her first album in LA, she was able to make some time during her brief stint in the UK for her first London show to answer some questions on her music, while providing insight on her upcoming UK release of her EP, World’s Apart.

You have put out two EPs at this point and noted you don’t want “filler songs” — do you plan to release what would be considered a full album or continue with shorter format albums?

I am making an album right now. I am finishing up writing and recording all of it right now in LA and will go back on Thursday and continue doing that for a week until I go on tour again. I have been writing it for four months, it is kind of like a compilation of what I have come to write and create in the last three years. Four songs from the EP and more all new materials will be on it. We are looking to release this sometime in September/October.

How would you measure success as a musician? At this point you already have two EPs. What would be the point where you will say, ‘this is it!’?

I think that will be the moment I hear myself on the radio. Because I get a lot of internet radio play, but I am now working on being on the actual radio so that will probably be that moment for me.

And how would you celebrate that?

Probably with a huge bottle of champagne. And I would want my friends to be there. I think the worst way to hear your song on the radio would be in your car by yourself. I am hoping that it will be when I am with people that I love.

And have champagne on the ready.

And have champagne prepared for that moment.

Preferably shaken and ready to go ‘Nascar winner style’.

Absolutely. Just pop it.

You have a long tour coming up in venues ranging from intimate stages, festivals, and pride parades. Do you have a preference as a performer on the venue?

I like playing in venues that you are able to stand in. I am playing a couple venues that have seats in them and it will be interesting to see how that translates as that is not really my style. But it might be awesome. I’m very much excited to play [somewhere like] the pride parades. They are going to be amazing. Playing where people are coming together to celebrate self-love and a cause you believe in, it’s going to be very cool to be a part of.

Many of your songs focus on love or heartbreak, why do you find these topics most inspiring? What other personal experiences do you pull from when writing?

I not only take experiences from my own heartbreak but I also think about what has happened to my friends and what has happened in relationships with them. I was writing a song about one of my best friends and he had broken up with his girlfriend. I wrote about him thinking about her all the time, but not wanting to be with her, but now it’s in this kind of awkward part where he really wants to talk to her, they don’t know how to be friends. And never will be. So it’s more like, how do you come out of a relationship healthfully? And the answer is you don’t, probably, for a long time. So I wrote this song called Just Like Me which is going to be on the album. It’s the moment where you want to call and say, ‘I am heartbroken and upset but we are both totally fine.’ So I wrote that song about him and what that meant and what I knew about it. It is a tough subject and tough feeling, which is why I wanted to write the song and it is one of my favourites.

Most of your songs are about love. How many relationships do you pull from personally for this? Is there a ratio for the amount of songs per relationship you use?

There kind of is. There are two men in my life, who are probably waiting for me to stop writing songs about them. There are two relationships that really fuelled most of my breakup songs and heartbreak songs on my EPs. Then there is kind of a forbidden love that is on my album, a ‘this will never happen but we want it to happen.’ A lot of the songs on the album were written about this one man and the taboo of that relationship. And also my current relationship. There is a song called Missing You on my new album and even though the lyrics are sad, the song itself is purely a love song. There are four relationships that were through all of the albums.

My second EP was a lot like that. It was really about one person and then another person came into my life because of the other person in a way. There is a flow between my relationships. There’s a reason for every song that has everything to do with the relationships I have been in and that were challenging to me. I don’t think I have ever written a song about love being easy. Love is hard. Maybe that’s what I’ll call the album, Love Is Hard. That is the through line, through all of my music.

I recently wrote on a theory called the “Tommy Effect”, referring to the scene in the movie Almost Famous where the lead character has his first profound experience with music. Can you tell when that moment was for you and what you were listening to?

Wow. I have had different Tommy Effects in different sectors of my musicianship. My version of that for writing would be a A Case of You by Joni Mitchell. Like ‘this is a perfect song. This is music as it should be.’ And then as a performer, I just went to go see The 1975. I am usually dancing upfront, but I got there late and the front was packed so I hung around the back and watched and experienced it as a spectacle rather than an experience. And as I was watching it, I thought ‘oh my God, this is what I want to do forever.’ You see the power you have over a room if you are good at what you do. Which these boys are.

Pop is your clear genre of choice and expertise. Would you explore other genres?

At heart, I am a singer/songwriter. The way I see my career trajectory is that I make pop music until I am at a point where I feel I cannot do it better than this and then put out a singer/songwriter album. I want to do this until I reach a point where I can say I have done what I came here to do.  Once you are at that point, you need to take a break and explore something else. I am also really into R&B and am influenced by R&B. I take in themes from music all over.

If you could work with someone in that genre, who would you like to collaborate with?

I think that it is so far out that I am not sure. If I was to do R&B, I think Timbaland. I want to write with Miguel more than anything in the world. But that is even for my pop stuff. I think there is a lot to explore in both genres for me.

Since Timbaland is also a producer, would you want him to produce the tracks as well?

Yes, for sure. I think “Maneater” is the coolest song. The stuff he does for women is really cool. The song “Break Your Back”, is the fiercest song. I think he has a way of making women sound really awesome and sexy. I love that.

You have mentioned multiple inspirations for your music and style. What do you hope to inspire in others?

I am not afraid to wear clothes that I want to wear. I am not really tiny. I am not really short. I am not really thin. To me, wearing what you want to wear because you feel good in it really is all that matters. So I have had a couple people, say, ‘You are tall and awesome. Don’t try to hide it.’ Why would you?? You wear what makes you feel awesome and cool. You get to be yourself in the most real and honest way and not care what people think about it.

Which women, outside of Pop, inspire you? Like Joan Jett.

I was literally just about to say Joan Jett or Pat Benatar! It’s funny you said that. Blondie is a bad-ass, she scares me a bit.But in the good and challenging way.

What is the best post break-up song?

To feel it and just cry your eyes out, maybe “re:Stacks” by Bon Iver. That is my devastating-go-to-everything-is-wrong-song. If it was like the break-up where you are like ‘I hate this guy and I need to go out’, “I’m Out” by Ciara.

The songs I have written for the sad-want-to-soak-in-it sort of feeling are either Silas or Giving It Away on my second EP. Silas is really about looking for someone else, but really not believing there is someone else. And Giving It Away is when you are at the point where you just have nothing left to give. ‘I can’t even walk home because I have given you so much energy.’ I have trouble singing Giving Me Away at times because I still get emotional. It’s such an emotionally challenging song to sing.

What is the best love song?

Maybe “Teenage Dream” by Katy [Perry]. It’s so innocent, but it’s kind of in my generation of growing up and listening to love songs that have come out in my time. There’s a little grit to it but it also is what being a teenager is like. ‘I’m confused but totally in love and would give you anything.’


The singer is working on her first album and has two EPs currently available. If this didn’t make you an instant fan of the rising dance, pop star, then a listen to one of her tunes will surely do the trick. Be sure to check when you can see her live on her tour this summer.

Betty Who – You’re In Love

You can stream her album Slow Dancing, here.

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Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine (Lido remix)


Leave it to up-and-coming Norwegian producer Lido to execute such pure, unadulterated magic. His rework of Bill Wither’s classic is synth-punchin’ / trap slappin’ / symbol crashin’ thunderous bliss. It takes some balls to attempt a remix of such a timeless soul classic… Lido’s got balls and creativity to boot — this is the freshest, dopest remix of one of the most enduring (43 years old) anthems of the 20th century. New school meets old school, this is the future: fierce, elegant, and totally bangin’.

Here’s a bit of backstory: Lido’s unofficial remix of Disclosure’s hit single Latch was so fly that Universal pulled it from Soundcloud less than 24 hours of its inception on the interwebz. Lido retaliated by making more music, and this is it. Ain’t No Sunshine is jammy enough to tide us over until his forthcoming album’s release on Pelican Fly Records (June 9th, yeeee!!).

This track exudes the kind of fearless brilliance that fuels the current tides of change in the music industry. Producers and musicians who embody this vision are an inspiration to all of us— true innovation and balls to the wall creativity are not a thing of the past, nor will they ever be.

Moral of the story: when in doubt (or not), make more music.

And I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know, I know…

Bill Withers – Ain’t No Sunshine (Lido Remix)

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Vic Mensa — Down On My Luck


At first listen, Down On My Luck by Hip Hop recording artist Vic Mensa takes me back to Hollywood. Being a native New Yorker my life has always been full of fast-paced hustling and bustling no matter where I go. A few years ago I took that attitude and energy to California and had the most memorable 4 years of my life. Parties in the Hills, running around from club to club in speeding Ferraris and Maseratis, make-out sessions with beautiful chicks, walk-of-shame mornings straight to brunch with the crew, dance parties in supermarket parking lots, bonfires on private beaches, and frequent road-trips to 3-day parties in Vegas and San Diego. I can say that I made the most out of this life I have, and that if my life in Hollywood was counted as an entirely different one, then I made the most out of that one as well. It’s exactly that fast-paced flow of Down On My Luck that brings me back there, and it’s exactly what kept me listening and wondering more about who Vic Mensa is.

When I get down on my luck I hide behind my eyes in Hollywood”

Hollywood is a place that can quickly get lonely much like NYC if you don’t know the right people. I’ve heard people say this in NYC and LA, and it has taken me some time to understand why. But, more important than anything else, Hollywood is a place where people go to become part of “Hollywood”, aka where they go to become famous. Somewhat like the music industry, the allure of Hollywood seems mythical to most unless they can tap into the right crowd. By “right crowd” we mean the crowd that is in the know and can make moves, or at least get you five steps closer to who you need to be, within those six degrees of separation that elude almost everyone.

They say ain’t what you know but who you know
You need to know someone to know no one”

But, it seems, from watching the video for this tune that Vic is figuring it all out for himself as time goes on. If you catch the video you can see how the same scene plays out and progresses over and over as he figures out what to avoid and how to make headway in a room full of people doing their own thing, with their own agendas. It’s the struggle that many artists face with most giving up and the select few making it through.

Down On My Luck is a song about making it through the obstacles of the life and lifestyle that you want to live. It’s pieced together with lyrics that illustrate one specific individuals journey, and production that makes everyone else watching around it, dance. The actor on stage being Vic Mensa, and the audience watching and dancing underneath being us with the assistance of producer Stefan Ponce.

Cause they told you to, why you listen to ‘em?
Hands up, middle finger to ‘em
Fuck that, get down”

Enjoy! #MDW

Vic Mensa — Down On My Luck

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2Pac – Old School (Cookin Soul Remix)

“What more can I say? I wouldn’t be here today if the old school didn’t pave the way.”

Original hip-hop always seemed to pay respect to those who influenced them. Calling tributes and references to those who came before, the people who they looked up to or the people who were always there along the way. It is interesting — you generally don’t see that in any other genre of music. Influences are usually noted in style rather than a literal call out. Even with so many forms of connection now, there is a growing distance between people and more of an internal focus it seems. But that’s what’s special about the old school hip-hop. They always had time for a call.

An argument was made recently that hip-hop, which used samples from older tracks like doo-wop or classic jazz, was able to bridge that divide that some people first had with the rap. The roughness of it, was once thought of as something that most people couldn’t relate to. But those little snip-its in tracks or a familiar sound backing up even the roughest of vocals, in this case jazz to 2Pac, somehow creates that connection.

This track from 2Pac, remixed by Cookin Soul is a power song. The jazzy beat by Cookin Soul is inspiring. The Spanish DJs have been producing tracks since 2005, but this (and there is also a great one they did with Guru‘s Lifesaver) has to be one of the best productions like this for a hip-hop track. Starting with the horns and punchy percussions, they have somehow made the original jam even sexier.

The verse that comes up around 2:28 is it for me. The opening as well. But at that moment in the track, the vocals are rough. You feel the passion. It is like the original power ballad. And when it seeps in through your headphones, you feel energised.

At this moment, I would like to make a call out to good productions. This is the kind of must that inspires me and keeps me hungry for it. I would rap that if I could.

2Pac – Old School (Cookin Soul Remix)

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