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.
Since introducing Sloan Evans on the site a year ago, he has caught the attention of some important ears. He is now the first artist managed by VLONE, the lifestyle brand and label of A$AP Bari, and yesterday, he released his first single “One Thing.” The song is deceptively complex with its catchy hook and pulsating beat. It shares a close kinship to Post Malone‘s best work. Stay tuned for more from Sloan. I doubt he will wait another year to drop the next single.
Young Thug has long been a divisive character in hip-hop. People complain that he sounds funny, he acts funny, and he dresses funny. We are now a good 2 years (and hundreds of songs) into his meteoric ascension to mainstream consciousness. I felt it was fitting, especially before his rumored name change to No, My Name is Jeffery, to put together the Young Thug ‘Greatest Hits’ so far. Something to finally explain to the Young Thug doubters, who have somehow blissfully ignored all evidence of Thug’s greatness up to this point, definitively why the Atlanta native is rap royalty. Unfortunately, I was not the guy who could adequately put this together. To create the mix and write about what Young Thug means to him, I employed the talents of Sun-Ui Yum, a rising junior at Harvard and an expert on all things Young Thug.
Written by Sun-Ui Yum. Follow him on Twitter here.
I think the first rap song I ever cared about was “Stronger.” The first rap album I ever listened to was My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and the first rap artist whose every move I followed in as uniquely comprehensively as Twitter push notifications allows for is certainly Kanye West. Watch the Throne is the first album I ever stayed up all night in bed to listen to, and Yeezus is the first album for which I scoured YouTube for live videos of live DJ performances of unreleased songs. I think I knew every word to “New Slaves” months before the album. I’m not sure when that singular fixation shifted away from Kanye West for me, but the moment I realized it came earlier this year, when I couldn’t listen to The Life of Pablo without thinking of Slime Season 3.
I don’t really think it’s fair to make any sort of argument that Young Thug is a better artist than Kanye West – I’m sure there is one somewhere, and almost certainly one that I could formulate, but not one that I could comfortably write and get behind and stay behind, especially as I look at the list of Billboard Hot 100 singles under Kanye West on Wikipedia. What I do know is that Young Thug songs have logged significantly more plays than Kanye West songs in my iTunes, that Young Thug is the reference point around which all other artists rotate for me, and when the rare moment strikes that whatever music I’m listening to doesn’t click and I would almost prefer to be in silence, Young Thug drags me out of the pit without fail.
It has always been a pretty definitive fact that Young Thug can rap circles around people (just listen to how he winds up, then unravels on “Mine”), but it is increasingly clear that he has legitimate, legitimate hits in the arsenal. Kanye West knows, Travi$ Scott knows, Gucci Mane always knew – so does T.I., Usher, and Tinashe. It has also always been pretty clear that Thug has pushed the boundary, and everyone has followed – but we didn’t know that he was pushing those boundaries in 2016 with music that was recorded in 2013. At some point, his new project Jeffery is going to drop under some name. It will likely be the newest music Young Thug has ever recorded and released under a project. While it is clear that Thug is only moving up, it is impossible to predict in which direction he will veer. Will he be a full-blown pop star? A Travi$ Scott that simmers just under the radio radar? A cult hero? That is why this is the most important milestone of Young Thug’s career, a clear demarcation with a before-and-after. Who knows what it will be exactly? You just know it will be good.
Original image by Harley Weir
We have been big supporters of Herrick & Hooley ever since last year’s eclectic debut Herrick & Hooley’s Famous Honey. Today, I am proud to share another stunning debut. MM & HH is the debut project from Mallory Merk, a singer-songwriter and model based in New York. The EP, produced by Hunter Lewis of HH, is basically the audio equivalent of melted butter. On each track of the EP, Merk finds the right pocket and attacks it with eloquence and purpose, gliding over the instrumentals with a certain smoothness that can only be analogized to butter. Her sound falls at the intersection of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B. It’s Lana del Rey embracing a trap flow. It’s Mallory Merk creating what she calls “trap-jazz.” I recommend you play these six songs at high volume in your apartment now.
Syd has had quite the year with The Internet (hello to their first Grammy nomination!) and it’s a wonder how any of these young artists could keep the fire going, but they are not stopping. Syd is clearly not taking a break and is cooking up some goods for us while we wait for another album from The Internet (please, hook us up soon). “Amazing” is a smooth r&b love track, produced by the equally soulful Dornik. It’s impossible to not feel every tender word Syd is serenading us with and it has us feeling some type of way (if we do say so ourselves). Dornik brings it that extra bit of flavor and makes this a match made in heaven. (Dornik and Syd collaboration album, anyone?). Check out the love song team-up below and get in your feelings.
Newcomer Ezkiel has a brooding and deliberate pulse to his music. Equal parts mysterious and vulnerable, the Chicago-native’s production style is reminiscent of early The Weeknd, pairing eerie synths with hip-hop percussion. “Just need you to focus,” he urges his muse on the chorus with a seductive croon. We’ll most definitely be paying closer attention to Ezkiel whenever his next record arrives.
Stream Ezkiel’s “Focus” below and let us know what you think in the comments.