I just finished my second to last semester of college, and it was a really frustrating semester. Let me preface this by saying that I am not going into the same industry as my major post-graduation, which right off the bat is frustrating. As you would expect, senior bioengineering courses are massively time consuming and detail-oriented. I could not even pretend to give a little bit of a shit about cell biology. My schoolwork suffered, and I could not do the things I wanted to with music. It was suffocating. I think I grew a beard just to feel control over part of my life (even the beard is kind of out of control).
When I came across the phrase “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out,” popularized in the ’60s by psychologist Timothy Leary, I could relate to the sentiment. In college, it is so easy to get wired in and lose sight of what is important. Per usual, music dragged me out of this rut, and I got really inspired by Kevin Abstract and Tyler Mitchell‘s “Echo” music video and The Internet‘s recent album Ego Death (in fact, the mix includes two tracks by their guitarist Steve Lacy).
This mixtape is a direct result of the light extracted from those projects during a dark time in the life of Arjun Grover.
I remember nights in November, last year I was stressin’ out, yeah / I remember nights in December still stressin’ ’bout Novemeber, oh yeah
NOTE: The SoundCloud mix is missing track 4 (“Meredith” by Dorian Concept) and track 17 (“Melting” by Kid Cudi).
I have a weird confession. I had not heard the “LA Girl” part of “Robocop” until I saw clips of Kanye’s recent live performance of 808s & Heartbreak on YouTube. I don’t know how this happened. I must have downloaded an unfinished version of “Robocop” from LimeWire when it leaked and never replaced it with the finished version! For years I have been unaware of one of the most beautiful album interludes of all time by my favorite artist of all time.
To make up for it and way overcompensate for that prior gap in knowledge, I made a mixtape inspired by “LA Girl.” It continues to highlight the recent upward trend of California-inspired art à la Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto, The Weeknd’s “The Hills,” and this past July’s Tape Tuesday The Hills Have Eyes.
Goin’ up in L.A., girl I know what you’re used to / Don’t worry ’bout a thing, we can just keep it simple
NOTE: The SoundCloud mix is missing track 13 (“Daddy Issues” by The Neighbourhood).
1234 Creations‘s very own Johnny Yukon continues to put out extremely well-written pop R&B joints. Last month, I said he makes the type of music Justin Timberlake would make if he grew up on Migos. “2it” features shades of Justin Bieber and PartyNextDoor but more than anything it shows a young songwriter flexing his massive potential. The songs Yukon has put out are “crossover hits” (shitty term, I apologize) that belong on the pop charts. This is the shit that would get you excited to turn on mainstream radio, instead of holing up with your own meticulously arranged, hyperspecific playlists every… single… day.
I think I am going to need to prelude this writeup by saying that I do not pop xannies and do not condone the abuse of prescription medication. The purpose of this tape is simply to highlight a growing trend in rap music. It is not surprising that the effects of the 21st century prescription drug culture has trickled into the rap scene, and I would argue that much like Wiz Khalifa makes certifiably dank weed rap, artists like Lucki Eck$ and Jimmy Prime (formerly Jimmy Johnson) make “xanny rap.” As you will notice, the mix is not all rap music. I tried to space out the journey and the rewards of hearing some of the trippiest rap music being made (Also, “Lilly” by Toro y Moi is a wave). If you’re an impatient bastard, tracks 11 through 14 show the heart of the phenomena.
When I’m off all these bars I should be behind some bars
*SoundCloud mix is missing track 6 (“Lilly” by toro y moi)
In March we were introduced to Johnny Yukon via his gorgeous tune “Don’t Play,” which has held a permanent residence in my most played songs of 2015. Now part of the 1234 Creations collective, the singer-songwriter has released a follow-up single. “Rounds / Sleep” is a sprawling, hybrid of a song. The first half gives me shades of Justin Timberlake. The second half sounds heavily inspired by Drake.
Overall, this sounds like the type of music Justin Timberlake would have made if he grew up listening to Migos, Drake, and Jaden Smith, and honestly it’s incredible.
Based on probability alone, most people are bad for you. The problem is my generation is so antisocial that they cling to any semblance of familiarity. Familiarity, oftentimes, is also bad for you. This mixtape documents that internal struggle between the comfort of familiarity and the drab of routine. I miss new feelings. In order to experience newness, you first have to acknowledge how damn easy it is to be sucked into unhealthy but familiar tendencies, and then you have to fight those urges. Progress comes from the fight for novelty.
On a different note, “Vic Mensa sang beautifully on a Kanye West song” is not a thought I ever imagined I’d have. But on “Wolves” Vic croons, “I’m just bad (bad, bad) for you,” and it’s the most affecting part of the song (along with the haunting sounds that follow his verse). This mixtape is in part an ode to the perfection of that song. It’s my attempt to channel the same energy of “Wolves” into an entire mixtape that doesn’t include the song itself.
And I was only trying to make it
*SoundCloud mix missing track 7 (“Home” by Heems), track 8 (“The Death, The Funeral” by Sean Leon), and track 19 (“Stay Down” by Big Sean) — so basically, download the entire thing below.
“Don’t Play” by Johnny Yukon was love at first listen for me. You should go ahead and click the play button if you haven’t yet. The song is perfect. The lyrics are straight-forward without being obvious. The sounds are ones that are very frustrating to write about because I have to use words like “summery” and “sunny” and like those aren’t sounds so it’s confusing. It reminds me of an uptempo version of “Brooklyn” by Samuel, which is one of my favorite songs ever.