Posts by Arjun
Sturla Atlas is an Icelandic hip-hop/pop artist, who, with his 101 Boys crew*, has been making waves in the forward-looking corners of Western digital media. Well, he and the 101 Boys are some of my favorite artists, and simply put, they deserve more shine. Since 2015, Sturla has released 4 projects: Love Hurts (2015), These Days (2015), Season2 (2016), and 101 Nights (2017). Each of these projects contains hits, but understandably, that is a daunting collection for new fans to sift through.
To make things easier on the listener, I have created and sorted a compilation of Sturla’s best songs to date. Stream it on Spotify below, or by clicking here.
*The 101 Boys are Joey Christ, Logi Pedro, and Young Nazareth. I have seen Joey Christ listed as part of Sturla Atlas, but “Sturla Atlas” is literally the name of the lead vocalist, Sigurbjartur Sturla Atlason. I’m confused.
They say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, and that is the crux of “Conundrum,” the latest single from British singer-songwriter Hak Baker. Over mellow guitar plucks, Baker fondly reminisces on his perfectly imperfect upbringing in east London. What makes this song particularly special is the level of detail offered by Baker, as he effortlessly paints vivid scenes of selling weed (“to make your pocket money bigger”), running from police (“no, we don’t trust them”), and leaving his mom’s place (“I was tired of the beatings”), among other things. It’s a strange type of song that will either have you shedding tears on your keyboard or smiling stupidly to yourself as you remember your own degenerate youth.
Many moons ago, a wise prophet named Patricia Benatar proclaimed that love is a battlefield. Jumping off that sage conceit, I named this mix, War Games, after the tactical exercises the military conducts to test strategy without real combat (read about them here). So, if love is an actual battlefield/the real shit/total war, then what I’m saying is that everything prior to love is war games, and that’s what this mix is about: the infatuation, lust, and general stickiness that happens prior to love. Does that make sense? Should I have not used the word “stickiness”? Well, I hope it makes sense, and there’s nothing I can do now about the use of that word. Forget I said it! And listen to this playlist of immensely talented, largely undiscovered artists below.
P.S. Lydia, I am so sorry about the butt that is now on the homepage of this website you created. I feel like it’s probably unfair to you that there is a butt on your site’s main screen, but I like butts and this one looks particularly cool. Maybe we agree on this; maybe we don’t. Nevertheless, I’m sorry.
Wherever you are, no matter how far, no matter who you’re hanging out with, I hope you’re having fun
You might remember Prelow from their 2014 hit, “Mistakes Like This,” and their subsequent EP, Why Does Everything Happen So Much. Since then, the NYC duo has taken time to experience new things as they develop their follow-up project, and today, we are excited to premiere Prelow’s latest single, “I Don’t Wanna End The Night” — out for the first time in its final form after the demo circulated a few years back.
This is one of those songs that is so specific and rooted in detail that it speaks a universal truth, as it elucidates the empty feeling one is left with after the fun is over. Its intimate portrayal of carefree debauchery and 4 a.m. companionship will likely restore your own incomplete memories from similar nights out. With their fingers so steadily on the pulse of the city dwelling, twenty-something experience, Prelow is probably the closest thing we have to a modern-day version of The Strokes.
Listen to “I Don’t Wanna End The Night” below, and while you’re at it, also check out “Guitar Beat” which was released last month.
So I say, “Let’s get a drink at the bar downstairs”/ She said, “Hey, I’ll get a drink almost anywhere”
If you have been following this website for a while now, then you know just how special this artist is. We have been avid fans of Mikey Mike since his Chainsaw Love days in 2012. Now, almost exactly five years removed from that EP, he has returned with a new single, “Doin’ Me”, produced by none other than the legendary Rick Rubin. The song features everything we have grown to expect from a Mikey Mike release; it is cheeky, inspiring, rebellious, irreverent, and incredibly profound — full of the daily contradictions that make the human experience an interesting and challenging thing. Listen to the music below, and be thankful that artists like Mikey Mike fight to be heard because we need them now more than ever.
January is the first month of the year. It, quite reliably, presents the opportunity for change — a new year and a new you. Only, this year is a bit different, because, at the tail end of what was a particularly bleak year, we, collectively, lost faith. We lost faith in the system, in each other, and in the ability of new ideas to propagate change. I named the mix We Lost Faith (following the lead of ATL guru Nessly) to elucidate this fact. After all, we can’t combat a problem unless we know what it is. Our generation is one deeply affected by 9/11 and other random acts of terror, the Great Recession, and the most contentious presidential election in the past hundred years. A fundamental lack of faith in institutions is built into our DNA, yet this is clearly a losing point-of-view. We have to regain control of our collective destiny. Thankfully, we live in an era where it is easier than ever to communicate with one another and activate the fellow disenfranchised. So, yes, we lost faith. For a blip on the timeline, we fucked around and elected a megalomaniac into the most powerful office in the world. That… was not the answer, but I am confident we can contain the damage and begin rebuilding our faith.
I’m tryna tell you how it all restarted ’cause of Reagan / You walk out and the cops tryna shoot you like Cary Fagan
NOTE: Original image by Alessandro Ruggieri. Edit and design by Arjun Grover.
It is always exciting when a new president is elected in the United States. Between election day and inauguration day, speculation runs rampant, as the President-elect decides who will run the government with him or her for the next four years. During this time of great intrigue, people begin to get a feel for what their country will look like under this person’s leadership.
Earlier this month, Donald Trump was elected to the highest office in the land. Most people who voted for him did so in the hope that he will institute laws that will work better for them and their family. However, so far, during this transition period before taking office, Trump has put questionable people in positions of power, while tweeting thoughtless lies and failing to properly address the global conflicts of interest caused by his company (He has also suddenly reversed his position on many issues, making it seem like he previously never learned the details of, say, climate change.). Right now, the way his first days as President-elect have gone, it seems like Donald Trump will not work for the people who voted for him or for “all Americans,” as he claims; it seems like he will work only for Donald Trump.
That’s why I named this mix No Mans Land. It is a really, really dumb way of saying that I don’t think Trump is going to be a good president.
These lights sparkle but they might hurt you
NOTE: Original cover image by Natasha Jen.
I recently finished Ashlee Vance’s authorized biography of Elon Musk, CEO/founder of Tesla and SpaceX. The book paints a detailed portrait of an extremely smart and determined man, who cares less about making money and more about impacting the world in a positive way. His driving motivator, the one that causes him to work most hours of the day, is to make humankind a multi-planetary species and to give us the tools to shift our energy consumption to clean energy. The idea of working toward a larger goal, such as Elon’s, is fascinating to me: not working to live, not working to make as much money as possible, but, rather, working to improve the universe. And it is not about winning some make-believe competition of who can be the noblest lad in all the land; there’s a fundamentality to it.
We have “x” number of years to live and reproduce →
Our planet has a laundry list of unresolved problems, and our species is confined to it →
So, let’s improve Earth for future generations, while reducing our dependence on Earth (for future generations).
Ironically, I also learned that, with hard work and proper execution, big money often follows such ambitious purpose. There is not a shortage of big thinkers, there is not a shortage of money, but there is a shortage of people willing to assume large risk for an abstract but basic idea.
NOTE: The SoundCloud mix is missing track 12 (“O&D” by Louis Val). Original image by Spencer Tunick.
When he released “Favors” toward the end of last year, Nick Gray joined the scores of Boston rappers on the come up, including but not limited to Cousin Stizz, Michael Christmas, Cam Meekins, OG Swaggerdick, Vintage Lee, and Big Leano. The song blew up and did for Nick Gray what “Shoutout” did for Cousin Stizz: it gave him an audience. From there, Gray took on the role of a rap scientist, experimenting with sounds, releasing songs, and analyzing how they were received.
Eventually, he crafted an album, and “Playless” is the best song on the album. The track finds Gray breaking away from raps about dealing drugs and into much more personal territory. To me, it is the centerpiece of the project, which also hosts highlights like “Today” and Northside,” and it puts on display Gray’s purpose as a rapper, which, in conjunction with the occasional drug rap, is to paint a picture of his anxieties from his unique perspective.
Listen to the rest of Nick Gray’s debut album Northside HERE.
There have been a lot of weird, laughable moments in 2016 — a lot of overreactions over tweets and the like. A root cause of these reactions is people taking themselves way too seriously. The world is full of big problems, and little things seem to irritate people and consume their daily thoughts. In music, too, you feel people driving themselves crazy with their own seriousness. The reason so many people get into music is, of course, for self-expression, but also to entertain. It is easy to forget that, and important to remind yourself. It’s not that serious. You might want it to be, but it’s really not. Just have fun with it while it lasts.
NOTE: The SoundCloud mix is missing track 4 (“Moon II” by Louis Val) and track 16 (“Movie Screens” by Rory Fresco). Original image by Damon Casarez for NYT.
MAKA is a singer and producer from Cambridge, MA, who has been on my radar for quite some time. His new track “Better,” produced by rising Boston rapper and producer Haasan Barclay, is the full realization of the MAKA sound. His voice, as always, is the star of the show.
In any given moment, MAKA has a seemingly limitless number of ways to attack a beat with his dynamic voice. The trick is to pick the correct lane for his vocals, and on “Better,” he picks the right moments and pockets to show off that Makonnen-esque deep, undulating voice. I fully believe MAKA is a star in the making. He has undeniable originality, a solid team of collaborators, and an opportunity to make a dent in this industry.
I have been reading Walter Isaacson’s authorized biography Steve Jobs, and in it he describes Jobs’ “reality distortion field,” in which Jobs appropriated reality to fit his own singular focus. It is a tool Jobs used to speak things into fruition and to empower his employees to make the impossible possible. His colleagues often despised his rigorous, borderline irrational demands, but in the end, these high expectations often benefited the final product, and for that, the surviving workers thanked him.
I think anyone with unconventional goals needs to occasionally bend reality to fit his or her vision. You can’t lose grip on reality, but a blind faith supported by hard work seems like a tried and true recipe for success.
This mix is the soundtrack heard upon entering your own reality distortion field. It touches on spirituality and features dancehall sounds with some obvious sounds of digital distortion — just to remind you that you are momentarily dissociated from reality.
Are you working or just wasting your time? Did I mention that you’re still on my mind?
NOTE: This mix was meant to include “Somewhere in Australia” by Louis Val as track 6, but the track was removed from Soundcloud.