This past year I’ve recorded more music than I ever have, but released the least amount ever due to some weird kink in my over-analytical mind. The majority of it is made in my DIY bedroom studio set up in a closet turned poorly isolated vocal booth. While tracking vocal takes over and over from my closet, I have my intern turned ace homie Chidi click record and set up punch-ins at moments of mistake. This kid has sat through countless recordings, assisting my entire process with his honest opinions and efficiency. I’m proud to say that he’s helped progress everything I do as an artist with his patience and insider’s glimpse at my neurotic music-making process.
A huge part of my process is spending time with creatives I respect and look up to. Brick Stowell and Russell Lee are my close homies with opinions I hold above the majority that come my way. They recognize what I am and what I’m about and are quick to keep my creativity in check with what my permanent intentions are. Whatever contributions they have to my artistry usually exist with sessions of weed smoke, good food, and aimlessly driving around the neighborhoods of Los Angeles.
I got a friend named Doug who I like to visit to discuss the current state of rap music. He’s got an impressive knowledge of the genre and understands the hows and whys of the culture’s changes. I get to smoke cigarettes inside his crib while he makes actual mixtapes on cassette and creates homemade prop bombs for films he’s working on. I’ve also borrowed a handful of books from him that took me too long to return (read).
Last month I went to the Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival thrown by Odd Future and politicked with all my rapper peers in the awkward manner that any backstage might summon. In between egos, handshakes, and blunts I got to enjoy the sets of much that is relevant in rap right now.
At the Carnival I crossed paths with the fam Jason Goldwatch and 13th Witness. Together they are WATCH X WITNESS and provide exciting visual stimuli of underground culture via their film and photography. They’re two of the few people that have endeavored to put money in my pocket with my music production and contributions to their WATCH X WITNESS video series.
With all the glory that is Los Angeles’ Highland Park, I’ve been blessed with a humble neighborhood to create music and art without the distractions of the fluff that is Hollywood.
Just like everything else in this world, I’ve watched DTLA’s Grand Central Market slowly transform into a hipster foodie’s haven from its original plethora of cheaply priced establishments catering to the working class of LA. While living downtown, I used to venture to the market for quick and cheap food options as a reprieve from the cabin fever hours I clocked in at my home studio. The free parking and quick lunch items were perfect for my fragile creative process with inspiration that might fade at any given moment.
The $3 lunch specials are being replaced by $12 bagel sandwiches and $6 ice cream scoops. The lines are longer and filled with expensive suits. Business is booming and now I can barely afford to enjoy it.
I recently ventured back home to the Bay Area for Thanksgiving. Aside from the turkey and pie, I got to enjoy spending time with old friends and visiting old loitering spots.
Much of this past year has had me in a confused state of figuring out what direction to continue my pursuits in music. A grip of obstacles have been met every time I’ve been conflicted with what’s relevant against what I am and stand for. Revisiting the places and people that know me best has helped ground and ease my whole perspective on who I am and what I endeavor to create in this world. Even with some of the heartbreaking changes and gentrification taking place amongst my favorite aspects of the Bay Area; there still remains the idiosyncratic essence that I’m forever inspired by. While the tech yuppies of the world take over San Francisco, I still smoke weed and sip brown bagged tall cans in the middle of the street without being bothered by anybody… and I still fuckin’ love that.
The year is almost over and I still can’t quite put my finger on how to sum it up into a blog post for you readers. I’ve been scrolling through this year’s photo gems and stories trying to decipher what it’s all meant and more importantly where it’s all gonna lead to.
While the web gets flooded with these end of the year lists and opinionated think pieces on the happenings in pop culture; I’ll continue soaking up inspiration from the gems that exist within my own life instead of the glories portrayed on all these glowing screens we’re surrounded by. There’s still time to make your 2014 mean something more than photoshopped asses breaking the internet.