This mix is inspired by the wonderful Netflix original series Stranger Things and my growing concern that we might be living in its Upside Down World in light of the domestic shootings, international terrorism, and triumphs of Donald Trump in recent months. The mix also features my favorite songs of the past month, so naturally, it leans toward the more optimistic side–more DNC than RNC, if you will.
There are a few political tracks in the beginning. Then, it dips back into the epic love story consistent with most of my mixes (and most music, for that matter). In Stranger Things terms, the first half is fighting the Demogorgon. The second half is the Jonathan-Nancy storyline.
Spoiler alert: Who else was upset that Nancy got back with Steve? Smh, Steve is a tool.
What you gon’ do now that the summer’s over?
Candor is a concept emphasized in Creativity, Inc., a fascinating book written by Pixar co-founder and president Ed Catmull where he dissects the standards and practices that make Pixar a creatively rich work environment. Catmull posits that candor is “the key to collaborating effectively.” One way of ensuring candor from collaborators is by taking the power to enact change on a project completely away from the one doing the constructive criticizing. In other words, the people offering advice on your project have no say over what changes are implemented. The original content creator maintains full creative control over their work. Candor also requires an openness from the person receiving the criticism. Remember: they are critiquing the work, not you as a person. Ideally, the people offering their candid suggestions are creative problem solvers whom you respect.
Expanding this idea, I would argue that relationships are a form of collaboration, and therefore, candor is essential in any healthy relationship (romantic or platonic). This requires an openness from both people. The problem is that we don’t talk to each other’s faces anymore. We talk to our phones. It is often much easier to chuck your phone in disgust and never respond to someone than actually face an unsavory text head-on. The artists on this tape do not mince their words. It begins with Kelechi offering sage advice on “Advice,” works its way into some mysterious singer feeling sexual on NEIKED‘s “Sexual,” and finally, Brad Bonds avoids getting too involved on “Too Involved.”
Girl you crazy like Harley Quinn, I’m just joking babe, you a ten
Note: This is basically a Tape Tuesday, which is a feature I ended two months ago. The main distinction is that there is no “free download” option, out of consideration for the artists. That is something that wasn’t sitting right with me and felt unfair to the mostly independent musicians being showcased. More generally, music consumerism is shifting away from downloads and ownership into the exciting (and scary!) realm of cloud streaming services. Also, now I have the surprisingly liberating freedom of putting out SoundCloud playlists on any day of the week — not just Tuesdays.
J∆YLIEN (a.k.a. Jaylien Wesley) is an LA-based artist originally from St. Louis, Missouri. Early in his career as a way to support his daughter, he worked behind-the-scenes, songwriting and producing for major artists like Akon, LL Cool J, and Chris Brown. Given the opportunity, however, he always wanted to start his own thing. In 2013, he partnered with director Stephen Garnett to create the imprint BlessAndSee and actually developed recent G.O.O.D. Music signee Kacy Hill. Finally last year, Wesley kicked off his solo career and scored looks from major music publications.
I first heard J∆YLIEN’s music in February of this year. I really liked “We Fcuk” and “Little Bit of You” (posted below), but his most recent single “All My Friends” pushed me over the edge. Maybe it’s because the track reminds me of Nostalgia, ULTRA-era Frank Ocean. Or maybe I can just relate to the annual FOMO felt during Coachella — especially this year when A$AP Rocky brought out Kanye as mentioned in the song. Either way with three solid solo tracks under his belt, J∆YLIEN is an artist to watch in 2016.
All my friends are at Coachella and I wish that I was there too