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Music

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Inspiration Information

Just having fun, just laughing smiling having fun…”

Here I am sitting by the beach curating the music for a steakhouse in the 49ers stadium. My dad came from the smallest of small towns in the Dominican Republic, I mean small like they just got a full electrical system a decade ago man. The Playlist Generation has  software that can run on WiFi so I can take my Air and do my job from anywhere in the world. My dads town didn’t even have a phone man. When they finally got a line, we use to have to schedule phone calls with my grandmother in advance because there was only one person in the town with a line. Ask my sister, our Grandmother had to be there at exactly that time for us to speak with her.

Now I’m sitting by the beach in California using wireless software on a computer the size of an envelope curating music for the world, helping one of my best friends build a company. Do you know what that means to me? I swear man, it makes me cry sometimes. I’m thankful for my grandparents, dad, my mom, for Dr. Walter Turnbull and for Michael Smith…

You, making me happier,
Now I am snappier while I’m with you.”

Saying that we’ve come along way doesn’t do it justice. I hope anyone around me understands why I don’t wanna ill or have little sympathy for first world problems. Ask my little brother, when we first moved to New York we lived in a studio apartment for like a year before we got a proper place. Thankfully we we’re little midgets back then, that was 3 kids to one bed. I sung for Nelson Mandela when I was 13, I sung Blackbird with a Beatle man. I could go to Paris tomorrow, curate amazing list and bring my mom with me if I feel like it. Do you know what that means to me? Don’t talk to me about nonsense man, talk to me about lovely things.

My perspective is deep-rooted and I’m thankful for those who came before me, your lives are what make mine and I’ll do everything I can to show how much I appreciate it. Everything you tell me, everything you’ve done is my Inspiration Information. I’ll never disrespect that progress by taking it for granted or being unappreciative or indulging in any wackness.

Jumping, laughing, smiling, having fun.
Laughing, smiling, loving, get on down.
Smiling, laughing, loving, get on down.

Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – Inspiration Information

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Music

CHVRCHES – Now Is Not The Time

No matter what happens you can’t stop moving forward. If you’re in a trap the best thing you can do is set your eyes on the next thing. The nature of the universe is that nothing is permanent, not in the same form at least. The world around us is in constant flux but humans are gifted and cursed with nostalgia, memories and a strong affection for the past. Who can blame us, reminiscing is like heroin in the way that the very thing that takes the pain away causes it at the same time.

The same thing that make you laugh make you cry,
The same game the make you math could make you die. – Jay-Z

That’s a hard concept to grasp, I don’t fully understand it yet but man there’s so much going on in my life right now that I’m being forced to figure that shit out fast.

For those of you who don’t know, since starting EMPT I’ve become the Creative Director for a company called The Playlist Generation. There’s like 4 people in the world who have my job, I’m a lucky guy and I know it. When Michael (the CEO of TPG) snatched my bagel eating, uptown ranking, Tribeca living, Noctambule party throwing ass from NYC and convinced me to move to LA the company was doing really well. But right now we’re experiencing growth at a level I’ve never personally been a part of and it’s changing everything man. It’s so exciting but with that comes a level of responsibility that’s requiring a complete overhaul in the way I look at everything. Life changes when so many people depend on you, when you need to hit home runs every single day, when you can’t miss a beat, when you’re simply past the age of mistakes and learning without practice.

There’s no such thing as total control but you realize that you need to have your shit together, everything needs to be real, you need to be dependable and everyone around you the same.

I don’t deal with the snakes and fakes, I don’t make mistakes. – Styles P

Music has always been timely for me and if I wasn’t from the Space Age I might have found that too mystical and creepy. Now Is Not The Time by CHVRCHES is no exception, I mean holy shit is this song on the money right now.

Live in fear I cannot be your savior
There is no violence in your heart
Warriors are both time and patience
But you and I are worlds apart…”

The only tattoo I have is on my wrist and it says Fear Nothing. “Live in fear I cannot be your savior” – I’ve spent so much time trying to understand fear that when I see it my body has the most intense reaction to just man up and do what I need to do to get it away from me.

If you pay close attention to the events in your life you can see road signs, everything is connected and if you’re hearts in the right place you know how to move. Our company is dealing with this massive growth challenging times like this expose people more than I ever knew. You quickly see who’s riding with you, who’s really in it for the count, ready to sacrifice for the greater good and stick it through. What’s the cliche saying Pressure makes diamonds? I’ve never appreciated that one more. It becomes less about you and more about the collective, you learn to work and grow together or you fail. There’s no room for fear, there’s no room for excuses of any kind.

Life is short man, you live and you love but when you realize that you can’t stop, you also realize that you can’t wait.

Nothing now can ever come between us
As we hide and watch the city burn
There is much that I still want to tell you
But now is not the time to speak of love”

There’s so much on my mind that I could write a book right now but I have to listen to the music, take my own advice and march to the beat. The whole world is hot under me right now but now is not the time to stop, now is not the time to fear. Enjoy.

CHVRCHES – Now Is Not The Time

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Music

NaS – Back When

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You love to hear the story, how it all got started…”

Something about this verse hit me hard today. I grew up in Harlem during the 90’s, during Giuliani which means it wasn’t the prettiest of times but it wasn’t the 80s. NYC was tough if you were a sucker, but for most people in the hoods if you were familiar and minded your business it was fine. My adolescence however was a HUGE duality. It was all due to my freak of nature experience as a member of the Boys Choir of Harlem. An experience that provided layer upon layer of privelege to some very lucky kids from the hood. My father took care of the finances but the choir raised me, RIP to my second father, Walter J. Turnbull.

Our lives were crazy growing up man, one day we’re uptown drinking quarter waters, playing basketball in makeshift parks with broken backboards, opening up the fire hydrants in the summer, cars blasting the latest Big, Pac, Mob Deep, Jay & Nas record, getting into fights and the next day we we’re shaking hands with Nelson Mandela, in Holland 2 months later or singing Blackbird with Paul McCartny. That juxtaposition has left a severe impact in my life and till this day has offered me a unique vantage point and perspective that I wouldn’t change for the world. As I look back to the day when the choir came to P.S. 125 and auditioned my 1st grade class, how after not making the initial cut I was asked to re-audition before they left and then I got that letter to come to the choir that summer.

You love to hear the story, how it all got started…”

That moment could have sent my life in an entirely different direction but here I am – from the Choir to Skidmore to Roc-a-Fella, EMPT & The Playlist Generation with sooo much more to do, so much further to go. You love to hear the story…

The ill reminisce and think about the fly days
Nothing like them 80’s 90’s summer NY days
Hop on the MB5 M101 days
Mopeds, Pro Keds, city split five ways
How it all started, fifth twelfth floor apartment
A jigsaw puzzle aerial view of the projects
A kid saw struggle, buried a few of his partners
Now I chill in resorts, enjoying massages

Check out the oracle bred from city housing
Nas Hec, I arise the dead by thousands
I remember seeing Shan 75 chilling near his Audi
Hollis Brian had Run and them but I proudly
Put a poster up of Shan Pac and Marley Biggie, that was art kid
You love to hear the story how it started
The bubbly I’m pouring wasn’t popped yet

BEFORE THERE WAS AN AUDIENCE TO WATCH US
I ASSURE YOU, IT WAS A PROCESS…”

NaS – Back When

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Music

The Playlist Generation’s December Minimix

Music bombards us from so many angles through so many different forms of media that it’s become difficult to stop, listen, and absorb an entire song–let alone a full album. The evolution and beauty of streaming music means we have the sonic world at our fingertips. This omnipresent access allows for unheard of listening flexibility. But sometimes, it’s a bit overwhelming.

The one arena that’s vastly changed the way we listen to music over the past few years is, of course, SoundCloud, and in large part due to the comeback of the “Mixtape.” While the cassette tape recently, quietly faded into oblivion, we’re confident that the “Mixtape” will continue to flourish as it stills offers an unparalleled (and often unexpected) continuous listening experience. If you really love music, it’s important to take some time out of your day–whether that’s 5, 10, or 100 minutes–t0 detach yourself from the machine and soak your ears with sound.

At The Playlist Generation, we intake a myriad of songs, artists and genres by the minute. When we can go home, open a book, and throw on our favorite album or a producer’s SoundCloud mix–this is a time we certainly cherish. We realize the value and demand on one’s ears, and when you hear our work in the field, we hope we’re connecting with you and that you’re not rushing onto the next song.  Since we know how precious time is, we condensed the “Mixtape” format into a “Minimix,” combing through our library and unleashing 15 minutes that can allow you to stop and listen.

Click here for the Tracklist.

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Music

EMPT Presents: The Playlist Generation – Breathing Life

Perfection is a dubious goal that I’m convinced no one can fully (or perpetually) obtain. Michael Jordan had off nights, and Monet made some ordinary paintings. If you’re mortal, it’s impossible to always be on your game–and it’s also impossible to please everyone with your work. I just finished watching Jiro: Dreams of Sushi for the second time, and that’s actually reinforced this belief. There’s probably not too many people alive with a combination of better work ethic, sheer focus, drive and yes, talent, on this planet. And yet he still finds and picks at his personal flaws, three Michelin Stars and all.

Likewise, even if you master your art, there is simply no way to always please everyone with your art–people on the internet will say Jiro’s sushi is overrated. Within music, I keep coming back to Diplo (the Jiro of EDM?) as the best proof of this theory. He refuses to settle, constantly evolves, and always puts out innovative material. His motto is “express yourself” and that means you try different things, you feel what works and what doesn’t work through trial and error, and you roll with it. Because when you keep waking up every day and grinding and attempting to master your craft, you will continue to get better, to reach more people and to please even more people. You can apply this to any aspect of your life you’re attempting to either master or simply improve.

Or sculpting sonic identities. When you curate music and make playlists that reach millions of people a day, the thought “what if someone hates this song–what if it doesn’t work?” frequently arises internally. While a playlist may be more of a collage than a visceral piece of art, it does have a very real impact and affect on people–one that can trigger an array of emotions that in turn trigger a hopefully positive response. At The Playlist Generation, we’re constantly trying to trigger the highest positive response and figuring out which combination of tracks will work best for each setting.

Our philosophy to shaping a sound maintains that every song matters and thus, only the fittest songs for their intended environment survive. The music we hear throughout our lives shapes our impressions, molds our thoughts, and creates memories. It’s our job and passion to choose the right songs for the right settings to help shape this journey. The following mix illustrates a slice of the thought process and track selection that goes into the process.

Michael Smith, founder and CEO of The Playlist Generation and a renowned DJ, lays it down smooth with this exclusive offering. The mix, apropos to this post, kicks off the mix with Diplo’s “About That Life” and jives into several eclectic directions from there, hitting you with every genre fit for ears. It’s a smooth, balanced mix layered with songs that demonstrate why The Playlist Generation’s musical tastes have been adapted by many worldwide brands, ranging from Jaguar to Le Bernadin to Standard Hotels to Coffee Bean and many more.

The Breathing Life mix helps tell this story better than words can, as it embodies the diverse, refined, and exceptional sound we aim to achieve. Sweet and savory, subtle and bold, there’s something for hopefully everyone in this mix–while it may not be perfect, these are songs that will start your weekend off on the right chord.

Tracklist:

Diplo (Feat. Jahan Lennon) – About That Life
Capital Cities Ft. Tupac – Breathe (Pink Floyd Cover)
Led Zeppelin vs. Gramatik – Stairway To Hip-Hop Haven (Gramatik Remix)
Craig David – Walking Away (Drop Out Orchestra Remix)
Machinedrum Feat. Melo X – Let It (Traveler Remix)
Theophilus London – Dance Hall Days (TL Cover)
Junior Byron – Dance To The Music (Gigamesh Version)
Ultimate Kaos – Casanova (Mickey Re-Work)
Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Soulwax Remix)
Razorlight – Englishman in New York
The Beatles – Don’t Let Me Down (Gramatik Remix)
Alabama Shakes – Hold On
Nick Waterhouse – If You Want Trouble
Quantic Feat. Conjunto Los Miticos Del Ritmo – Nuthin’ But A G Thing (Dre En Cumbia)
Brassroots – Good Life
Cassius – Toop Toop
Calvin Harris – Vegas
Foster The People – Don’t Stop (TheFatRat Remix)
Imagine Dragons – It’s Time (Famties Remix)
Nervo Feat. Afrojack & Steve Aoki – We’re All No One
The Velvet Underground – Rock & Roll (Gigamesh Edit)
Theophilus London – I Stand Alone (Gigamesh Moonlight Remix)
Santigold – Disparate Youth
Fleetwood Mac vs. Massive Attack – Rihannon vs. Teardrop (Brat Mashup)
Capital Cities – Nothing Compares 2 U (Prince Cover)

If you like what you hear, then like The Playlist Generation and stay in touch to gain access to more taste-making tunes and sonic insights.

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Music

Asaf Avidan & The Mojos – One Day / Reckoning Song (Wankelmut Remix)

“This is one of those stunning, haunting songs that makes you reevaluate everything.” – Michael Smith

The author of that chilling quote, Mr. Smith, is shockingly not an editor at Rolling Stone. He’s the CEO of The Playlist Generation and an accomplished DJ. Music seeps through his veins (and ours), as we constantly strive to answer a simple but impossible question: what’s the right song? And to answer that question, we listen to a lot of songs every day–like, anywhere from 1,000-3,000 on any given day. Naturally, as music sommeliers/doctors/junkies, this means we often must skim through songs simultaneously judging its genre, vibe, energy, and quality. This insane sound consumption also means we can’t possibly let every song grasp us–and that at times we have 10 different songs playing in our mind.

All of these songs are, in their own way, “good”–as any finished artistic achievement is. Some songs work best at a poolside club in Vegas (see: the Cosmo) while others function best in a quaint coffee shop (see: Coffee Bean). It’s our job (and privilege) to comb through all sorts of different styles from all sorts of artists and place them in the right setting for the right clients.

Sometimes, though, we do stumble across one of “those songs” that forces us to stop, remove our hands from our mice, sit back, close our eyes, and take it all in. If you really love music–if it serves as your medicine, your adrenaline, and your best friend–then you know this feeling.

This is one of those songs that makes you realize music has an inherent, psychological impact. Whether you hear this song on a plane or in a doctor’s office, it will hit you. Because one day, we’ll all be old and cranky, but at least we’ll still have our favorite playlists.

Asaf Avidan & The Mojos – One Day / Reckoning Song (Wankelmut Remix)

If you like this song, then keep up with us on the Facebook, where we’ll be sharing some fresh Spotify playlists, music news, and other collaborative efforts.

 

Categories
Music

The Playlist Generation

I haven’t spoken much about my move to LA because I’ve been trying to settle into the new lifestyle, meeting all the music heads out here, just getting my stuff together. I’m finally at that point and for the sake of those who’ve emailed me about it, here’s an update.

I moved myself and EMPT out west to become the Creative Director for a company called The Playlist Generation. You may not have heard of us yet but you’ve certainly heard us. Most of the worlds top brands, high end hotels, restaurants and retailers hire us to create unique sonic identities for their brands. So if you walk into an Intermix in Miami and hear something awesome you never thought a store would play or you’re strolling through the Cosmopolitan lobby in Vegas and you hear Theophilus London and Edward Sharpe instead of the typical Rat Pack show tunes, that’s us.

I started EMPT with the sole purpose of bringing light to undervalued styles of music and art and it’s doing pretty well. The Playlist Generation is that concept on crack. Long story short, the dude who brought me out here, Michael Smith, is a guy who pretty much single handily bought good taste to many of our favorite hang outs. I like to surround myself around rebels and to have success by offering something different in a world ruled by the Top 40 hit making machine is as rebellious as it gets. Not to knock Top 40, I love the fact that so many people can enjoy something together but the way some of these acts make music these days it might as well be an algorithm. In fact, I would probably appreciate it more if I knew a robot had made it, then at least I would know it was sincere. Not just that but there’s more to life, expression and art than “hits.” Like many of my role models, Michael offered more when everyone else was simply trying to get away with giving as little as possible…

Apples problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers. – Joseph Graziano

That’s the “problem” anyone who loves and cares about what they do has. The mentally of people like Joseph Graziano is why crap gets made, in the words of Kendrick Lamar –

Naw-uh f$*k dat…”

I grew up an entertainer under one of the most demanding instructors a kid could have. It sounds tough but it was great and it made me have a deep love and appreciation for giving something unique. Life keeps putting me in a positions that allow me to do that on bigger and bigger scales and for that I’m so thankful. Sometimes my ambition and unwillingness to compromise gets in the way of execution but now I feel like I’m finding a balance. No matter what though, my desire for this only matures so there’s no stopping and…

To make you feel what I feel, I’m gon’ try my best
And if you real like I’m real, you could provide the rest
Everything left out, you could blame it on the brain not the heart, I’m playing my part…” – Memphis Bleek
I’m not sure what the future holds for this company but once I get to the point where I can be creative with what we offer it’s going to be exiting. To anyone else trying to do this that’s cool with offering cheese and crackers – “get ready cause here I come…”

Blood Diamonds – Heart

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Music

When Saints Go Machine – Fail Forever

As many of you know I’ve been spending a lot of time out in Cali lately. I’ve been linking up with a company out there called The Playlist Generation that selects music for all your favorite brands, restaurants, TV shows etc. That might sound familiar to you because it’s exactly what my company does. However, these dudes have years of experience and amazing taste  so for about a year I’ve been going back and forth with them about working together.

EMPT needs to go to the next level and you can’t win a championship by yourself and for once I’ve found some people that are really doing it in the music game. This is sure to lead to some very cool stuff for the army so stay tuned. In the meantime go grab some free.99 music at playlistgen.com, they put all these tracks into playlists that you can put on for a cocktail party, by the beach or at a dance party. I just grabbed this post from there to give you a taste, enjoy…

When Saints Go Machine isn’t exactly on the radar yet in the United States but they’ve been heating up stages in Denmark since way back in 2007.

The four-piece group are childhood friends from the same neighborhood in Copenhagen and grew up practicing wildly different musical styles. Keyboardist Jonas Kenton and drummer Silas Moldenhawer are best acquainted with club and house music, working together on tech-house side project, Kenton Slash Demon. Meanwhile keyboardist Simon Muschinsky’s primary focus is blending jazz and neo-soul. Throw in vocalist Nikolaj Manuel Vonsild’s experience with electronic music and love for The Slits and you have a genre-bending group like no other. When Saints Go Machine are a group that sounds like few others today.

When Saints Go Machine started out playing fast-paced dance music but quickly shifted their focus to more accurately fit their influences. The easiest way to describe the band is to say that they sound like an electronic band with all of the emotion of a folk singer. Their sophomore album Konkylie sounds like if Fleet Foxes were given a Moog synthesizer, a vocoder and told to go wild. The 11-song album, two years in the making, is up-tempo industrial dream-pop at its very finest.”

When Saints Go Machine – Fail Forever

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