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Rodriguez – Hate Street Dialogue (GingerAle Remix)

The concept of friends is one that changes with age.

As a kid, I had my little pack who would run the playground with me. My crew consisted of mostly boys who wanted to play Jurassic Park and would let me be the scientist lady as we ran around like a literal pack of wild animals, or dinosaurs. Since all kids are weird and have no concept of money yet really, the barriers of friendship are low where we could slink in with being funny or crafty or have the ability to host sleepovers. Those raptors/friends became extinct in time. I picked up one of my ride-or-die people soon after moving schools and knowing no one, seeing her dressed in overalls and sitting with a funny accent on the side of the playground. I asked her if she wanted to be my friend and she obliged. 18 years ago.

As a young adult, I  remember my friends who developed first rose to the top of cool group with their bras reflecting the GPAs they left behind on the path to being more popular than the rest of us. As we experimented with bad make-up choices and kissing boys and girls for the first time, my friends and I would duck through the halls to avoid being detected by others until high school. We passed notes back and forth through the halls.

As a teen, it is really the first time I saw the shift in friend groups, in the mindsets of where we could end up and who would come along when we could finally pack up and leave that town. We got cooler only because we got slightly more comfortable with ourselves. Grew in to our noses and personalities. Grew a sense of self and a determination to keep following it. I see some of them still from time to time. Late night in the local bars when I go home. A quick picture of their new baby or the wedding I missed. I see another ride or die close to never but every time I need to talk to someone she is still the person I call. I know when she answers the phone it will be like we just hung out, sitting in her parked car with the windows down, letting the hot air come in as we talked about where we were going.

As a young adult, I met my absolute ride or die, soul mate of a friend. I think everyone has to have this person. She is the one who is literally my other half. I get sad if I think she is sad. I can ask her to be the logical part of the brain when I can’t be. And I know she expects the same of me. She is truthful, always, unless she can see I need someone to just be nice and give a well polished white lie.

As an adul(tish), I feel like I am actually at a place I can reflect on the friendships that have come and gone. I can identify the ones that stuck and contemplate those that didn’t. It is after the faulty friendships you can see the masks some have one. I started to recognise the friends that seem like good friends, but realise you didn’t really like them. Those people who somehow creep in to your life and linger, and it is isn’t until something happens when you get the moment like “Dude, you are not that nice. I don’t feel better being around you.” At this point in life you actually have to schedule time in to see people you want to. Precious time. I feel guilt for myself for wasting so much time on so many people who I wouldn’t have as my ride or die. I only have time for the ride or dies now. That is all I want. I take down notes on things I want to my best friend about if I can’t get ahold of her. I cannot wait to hear her opinion. I cannot wait to be around her and feel like the coolest, smartest best me. And that is what a ride or die can do.

Do you have this person? If not, I suggest finding them. You can try asking the stranger on the playground (or adult equivalent, so bar?)  if they want to be friends. You can try meeting them through a series of unfortunate events. You may already know them. I challenge you all to sit and think about your roster, your friends, your ride or dies. Who makes you feel like the best version of you? Keep them. Who doesn’t? Fucking lose those numbers then. I think we have forgotten after years of collecting friends and likes the value of a real friend you actually like.

A good friend has the power to save|change|make|expand your life.

J-Rocc x Mobb Deep “The Infamous Tribute” Mix

I don’t even know what to say to you man. You’re telling me you’ve never heard The Infamous album? I don’t even who you are.

There are times in history when culture is ahead of everything. It’s ahead of corny business man trying to capitalize on it. It’s ahead of the law because it’s doing something so new there’s no precedent for it. In the 90s, Hip Hop culture was that. Producers were using music through sampling in ways that copyright law just couldn’t account for. It was limitless because there was no expectation that than to compete for the crown. The culture was so raw and edgy that the mainstream couldn’t handle it. What a wonderful way for music to grow.

The Infamous embodies all that. The production turns incredible jazz samples into dark, hypnotic head bangers. J-Rocc does the homework for you and masterfully blends the originals with the recreations in a way any hip hop nerd will go crazy for. You have it real good fam. Just press play and take a listen.

Being Sad Is A Disease

The average person these days has access to more information on their smart phone than the President of the United States did in 1990. Right now, for a fair cost most of you can use that same phone to request a private driver to come to your doorstep within minutes. That driver can take you to a food store that has spices from India, fruits from Latin America, local milk and just about anything your heart desires.

Kings and Queens of lore didn’t have what most of us have at our disposal these days. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that many of us, simply because of what’s accessible to us, are in fact better off than the richest people in the past. Don’t just read that, go walk around and think about that for a second.

Just about everything essential to survival has been figured out for us. Water distribution, food harvesting, shelter, clothing, travel, entertainment. Even social and romantic relationships are being facilitated by progress.

I know it’s not like that every where in the world, but in most places in the US it is. And what did we have to do to get it? Nothing. We were born royal, with the world at our finger tips.

Why then is everyone so sad?

The answer to that question probably has something to do with marketing, fabricated desires, Disney and all the usual social engineering suspects. Those may be in effect but I’m starting to identify this severe lack of perspective as a bonafide disease. How else do you explain the general gloom and melancholy some people have toward their blessed lives? Few are exceptions here, it took me a long time realize this myself. We have to be careful to weigh the cost of our desires. Often the things we desire have nothing to do with our personal quest for fulfillment…

He did not reflect how burdensome were the objects which he was bent upon attaining, even if they were not superfluous.

Therefore, with regard to the objects which we pursue, and for which we strive with great effort, we should note this truth; either there is nothing desirable in them, or the undesirable is preponderant. Some objects are superfluous; others are not worth the price we pay for them. But we do not see this clearly, and we regard things as free gifts when they really cost us very dear. Our stupidity may be clearly proved by the fact that we hold that “buying” refers only to the objects for which we pay cash, and we regard as free gifts the things for which we spend our very selves. These we should refuse to buy, if we were compelled to give in payment for them our houses or some attractive and profitable estate; but we are eager to attain them at the cost of anxiety, of danger, and of lost honor, personal freedom, and time; so true it is that each man regards nothing as cheaper than himself.” – Seneca

Again, Kings and Queens didn’t have access to the things we take for granted today. This disease is making us blind to reality, to progress and most importantly to our appreciation of the moment.

Soundtrack: Oyster Kids – Lips (from EMPT Radio: Indie Rock)

Dougie F – Billions

My life is nothing short of a dream. So much so that even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty damn good. I grew up in the projects of Uptown NYC, 135th and Broadway. Outside, all day and everyday there were drug dealers, hustlers, addicts, families, kids. The full spectrum. I would go from that world to performing with Paul McCartney. From Harlem to churches in Haarlem. That back and forth from one world to world is the biggest blessings of my life. My perspective when it comes to culture is completely molded by it. My appreciation for where I’m at, my gratefulness is at an all time high simply because of where I come from.

I don’t wanna talk hell naw fuck ya’ll feelings, I’m just tryina make sure my squad in the building…”

The one thing I don’t like about my past and present is that it’s usually just me. I don’t get to share this magical life with my family. When I’m at a Cathedral in Haarlem, they’re not with me. When I shook hands with Mandela they weren’t there. When I’m off in Cuixmala partying with David Grutman they’re not in the building. My life has been a series of exponential leaps and I finally realize why – necessity. Leaps are the only way to escape the trap. Now I’m realizing that to get my family in the building I’m going to have to make an even greater leap…

I don’t wanna talk hell naw fuck ya’ll feelings, I’m just tryina make sure my squad in the building…”

Those lyrics replay in my head day and day out. My pride and ego have disappeared. I mean they still creep in here and there but trust me daddy, killing OZA is happening everyday. The only thing that matters is moving forward. Anything that stops progress is a waste of time. A total disrespect to the limited time we have on earth.

Dougie F’s Block Party mixtape/album came out 7 months ago but remains one of my favorite hip hop projects. We posted another highlight from the album back then, peep here. I held out on Billions because I needed the message to sink in…

Money is a complete illusion. It’s literally a piece of paper whose value is totally dependent on our faith. In other words, it’s totally worthless. I say that for all the people who don’t appreciate metaphor. This song is not about money, it’s about doing what you have to do for your family.

I’m running like a million miles per hour…

What are willing to do for that? Enjoy.

LABS – Down

The feedback for the new EMPT Radio list has been awesome. Good looks to everyone whose checking it out, there will be new music added to that daily so stay with it.

One of my favorite jams in the current mix is a track by a band called LABS. They’re awesome guy. The track is a minimalist piece of art. It has this driving bass/synth thing that’s way too loud, so in your face but in the boldest most beautiful way. It reminds me of how MGMT approached the mixes and sound of Oracle Spectacular. I like when not playing it safe works out, in music and everything else.

I get this feeling that I’m sinking like a stone, in the pit of my stomach like I’m being thrown overboard.

Some say it happens when your heart gets so full from the heaviness weighing on the freedom of your soul.”

Speaking about heavy, damn it man those are some lyrics if I ever heard ’em. I think every single freedom reducing decision I ever made flashed before my eyes the first time I heard Lindsay sing that. Everybody’s been there, to the point of no return. This song is romantic realism, it recognizes a moment most of us aren’t willing to face. The hardest thing to do when you’re in a bad situation is to step away and fully understand just how bad things are.

Down, straight to the bottom it goes down. I try to stop it, it goes down. Before I know it it’s gone.

I like how this is an anthem for reality. Contrary to popular opinion humans are pretty optimistic. We can romanticize just about anything, especially things not good for us. Of course love comes first and you should always try to see the positive. But sometimes you have to recognize when things are on their way out. Letting it go, letting it fall is what needs to happen and trying to stop it will only make it worse. Sometimes things need to transform from one thing to the other. You might be surprised that the outcome is better than whatever you we’re foolishly trying to control. You gotta leave room for magic. Sometimes the way that happens is by letting things go… Down. Enjoy.