This album means a lot to me. First full length solo instrumental/beat album. Damn. It's been in the making officially for 7 months, unofficially since I was 16. I spent hours in that beat lab in the storage closet in the music wing. To Cole, Jake, and Mike thanks for giving me the confidence to continue by rapping on my shitty beats. To everyone who was ever in the lab, really.
I don't like to write sappy things but if Take Care-era Drake taught me anything, it's worth giving an album a backstory and thanking those who helped you make it. I hope it doesn't come across as egotistical or delusional, or that I think it's perfect or anything. It's just been a long time coming and I always appreciated learning more about my favorite producers' work flow and inspiration via the pdf pamphlets that came with the project. I also believe one must fake it 'till you make it.
I officially started this project in the summer before my senior year in college. A lot of shit was happening. The album is a culmination of how I felt at the time, or how I've felt for a while. I wanted to make an intimate album. One that directly connected me to the listener. I think it's hard for an artist to directly connect to listeners because there is a lot of bureaucracy in music, blocking the personal process and removing the 'human' element. As an unsigned artist making music in my bedroom, I have a rare opportunity to directly connect with listeners. I hope the tone and visual aesthetics of the project convey some of the raw emotion that went into making it. There are no middle men yet, or advertisements. Streaming services, unwanted third party influence, PR reps, promoters, agents. I still control my soundcloud and twitter. There are no standards I have to live up to except for the ones that I create for myself.
For now, it's just me. And what I've felt these past few months: the fear of not getting a job, the guilt I feel for basically failing my parents after they paid for my education, the want to let go and just pursue music instead of getting a legitimate job in anything not music related. The fear of dying alone. The loneliness of not being loved by someone. The want to be liked by people. The want to be listened to on commutes to work or to be listened to at parties. The want to be famous and recognized (to a certain degree). And of course other things inspired this album: anime (Akame ga Kill, Deadman Wonderland, W Dimension), Japan, lofi hip hop (bsd.u, swum, lord apex), nujabes, knxwledge, J Dilla, Flying Lotus, Dev Hynes, The Life of Pablo by Kanye West, Rodeo by Travis Scott, 90's/2000's R&B (Joe, Donnell Jones, Floetry, Goapele), Motown (Brass Construction, The Manhattans), jazz (Robert Glasper, John Coltrane, Ramsey Lewis, Pharaoh Sanders), Janet Jackson, Ten City, Jodeci, Yuji Ohno, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jean Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Suehiro Maruo, and hundreds of other things that have filtered their way into my music one way or the other. The album cover is a drawing by Suehiro Maruo that I edited, and thought it reflected the album nicely.
I don't know what the overall mood of the project is. There are some happy songs in there too. Most of all I just want people to enjoy it and vibe to it with friends. I want people to listen to it when they are happy, sad, in love, nostalgic, partying, skating, or anything in between. Music affects all of us differently and that's what I love about it. Just because a song may be sad or nostalgic for me, it may make someone else incredibly happy. This album was made to reflect how I feel. How I've felt since I broke up with my ex 4 years ago - alone. But also to connect to anyone who has ever felt alone too. Each song marks a moment that meant something to me (more of this in the other pdf). And I can't front. My family is incredibly supportive. The pressure of getting a real job sucks, but they love my music. My friends are also very supportive. And the fans I have are amazing. Slowly but surely, I'll affect everyone. I want to become the best.
Finally, I made the entirety of this album in my dorm room in college. I produced it, mixed it, created the visuals for my live shows, edited the artwork, sent it out to press etc. etc. Don't limit yourself. Pursue your passion, and learn everything you can about it. It should be an active pursuit. Don't wait for inspiration, search for it constantly. And to anyone feeling alone — just know that you're not. "Everybody is something to somebody" and if not, you're somebody to me. Thank you to everyone who supports me and helped make this album, especially Tim Cross, Hassan El Hobo, Justah Phase, and Burger for providing dope verses. Shout out to bsd.u for including me in the first lofi.hiphop forum compilation, and finally, thank you if you're reading this letter. I hope you like it.
1. wish U were here Contains elements of “Wish You Were Here“ by Donnell Jones
Notes: The first song I made. I love 90s R&B, it has a way of expressing sincere emotion through silky smooth music. The song was inspired by my college sophomore/junior year crush. She was abroad this fall semester. I guess the lyrics protrays how I felt at the time: "I've got this longing for you / Even when I call your name / How I wish you were here / A never-ending story of loneliness and pain / Oh, how I wish you were here"
2. 💍 (diamond ring emoji) Contains elements of “School Me” by Ten City
Notes: The second song I made. I liked the melody of this song a lot. The whole late 80's Chicago house scene is trill. Ten City's No House Big Enough is great. I sampled a video of Rihanna behind the scenes so naturally I chose the diamond ring emoji. I also always wanted to use an actual emoji as a song title. What a time to be alive.
P.S. The emoji itself probably won't show up on old ipods and zunes and things like that, so feel free to rename it whatever you want.
3. bae Contains elements of “The Love Scene” by Joe - Excerpts from "The Notebook" by Nick Cassavetes
Notes: The sixth song I made. The Notebook is the only Nicholas Sparks movie I respect so I sampled it. I think Ryan Gosling's line is poignant: "Will you just stay with me?" It also features another 90s R&B sample. Joe is the man, and All That I Am is a masterpiece. The actual song is a complete baby maker. He says the words "exotic fantasies", "bedroom eyes", "honey", "Chardonnay", all in the first two stanzas of the song. He also mentions jumping into his SL6 and refers to his erogenous zone as his "fountain of love". This song is erotic, beautiful, soulful, basically everything you need in a good 90s R&B song. The ending lyrics are also incredible: "'69 was a very good year / if you know what I mean my dear"
4. me vs. frieza vs. king cold Contains elements of “Overture of Foxy Brown” by Willie Hutch and "Blunt After Blunt" by Danny Brown
Notes: The third song I made. I'm a big fan of Willie Hutch and I think both Foxy Brown and The Mack's soundtracks are amazing. I tried to make this track pretty lit and I think it's pretty fun. Also a very big fan of Danny Brown and his care-free attitude. I named it "me vs. frieza vs. king cold" because I love Dragonball Z and the fight between Future Trunks and Frieza is one of my favorite in the series.
5. echelon Contains elements of “Why I Came to California” by Leon Ware and "Throw Some D's" by Rich Boy
Notes: The fourth song I made. Leon Ware is a boss, and the song "Why I Came to California" is very groovy. I wanted to sample more of the song than just the chords, but I couldn't seem to fit any of the other parts into the beat. Anyway,"Throw Some D's" by Rich Boy was iconic in 2007. I've always wanted to remix it, and I still remember hearing that beat drop for the first time when I was 13. It's a quintessential piece of mid-to-late 2000s rap, and it's amazing how much the "dirty South" sound had complete reign over rap during this period. I named it echelon because it has an upper tier vibe/kind of a 'IDGAF' attitude, and all I imagined while making the song was the motorcycle chase scene in Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo.
6. lost in parad[i]se Contains elements of “The Great Solitude" by Yuji Ohno and "It's About Time" by Asheru & Blue Black - Excerpts by "Gone Girl - Amy Monologue" from CR Actor
Notes: The eleventh song I made. I actually made this song for bsd.u's lofi.hiphop forum compilation, and when I found out he chose it I was beyond ecstatic because "French Inhale" inspired me to go make lofi hiphop. So shout out to bsd.u for that. Also Yuji Ohno is a legend who did the soundtrack to Lupin III which I just started watching. I included the monologue from Gone Girl at the end of the song as a satire because I thought it was dope and it sort of explores an abusive relationship. It also makes me think how cold the word "bitch" really is and how frequently society attributes steretypes to it - "psycho bitch" "dumb bitch". Maybe I'll stop using it.
7. higherr _ mine Contains elements of “Closer” by Goapele - Excerpts by The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Notes: The fourteenth song I made. Early 2000's R&B is awesome. Love Goapele. Got a bunch of upcoming beat ideas that sample her. "Closer" is a classic. I also think Drake remixed it on Comeback Season. The second part, "Mine" is inspired by the beat switch up at the end of Drake's "Preach". pnx is a big inspiration for me. I included the scene from "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky because I've been there before. Trying to get a beautiful girl to notice and to love me. Trying to get her to see that we're alike and that she's really beautiful. I wanted to be there for her more than anything.. but she didn't feel the same way.
8. (≧д≦ヾ) [confused emoticon] Contains elements of “NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert” by T-Pain/NPR - Excerpts by Earl Sweatshirt and Vince Staples
Notes: The eighth song I made. Had to make a pure lofi hiphop track, and when I came across T-Pain's NPR performance where he was only backed by an electric piano, I knew I had to sample it. The Internet was shocked that he was a good singer. I thought that was funny. I think "Buy U A Drank" was the first song I grinded to so shout out to T-Pain. Big fan of Earl and Vince. Both of those guys are the voices of their/our generation. Summertime '06 is a classic and watching anything with Earl and seeing how he works is so interesting, I respect his opinion a lot. I love that one line he has on "Sunday" with Frank: My momma raised me a prophet. Growing up in my mom's house, that line resonated with me. Shout out to all the moms (and dads).
9. 1-800-IMISSYOU Contains elements of “Rever's Edge” by Shinkichi Mitsumune
Notes: The seventh song I made. FLCL is on the list of anime I need to watch. This track was inspired by lofi producer BZKT who is dope. I think the vocals are from an Ashanti acapella. The title fits in with the cell phone/hotline bling trend. Kind of like "we're so connected now yet so distant" theme. I guess I was just missing being in love at the moment. It kind of reminds me of those nights where you're out late and then you return to your room alone and you immediately think of your ex for some reason. And your cell phone is right there. It's frightening how easy it is. I actually changed her name in my contacts to "DON'T TEXT HER".
10. never b4 Contains elements of “Wake Up” by Brass Construction Excerpts by Cam'ron
Notes: The thirteenth song I made. I love this sample, the Brass Construction are awesome. Chopping this was super fun. The hats are inspired by knxwledge. The vocals are pulled from a killa cam interview. One day I want to show up to the grammys in an all pink fur outfit. That'd be trill.
11. about U Contains elements of “I'll Always Dream About You” by Ramsey Lewis
Notes: The fifteenth song I made. Originally not on the album. I was going to save this for my next EP, but I think it fit the sound pretty well. The sample also grew on me, and I had to include Ramsey Lewis on the project. The lyrics are on point, it's just "I'll always, always, always dream about you" repeated over and over again. Similar to "1-800-IMISSYOU", this song is about nostalgia. Thinking about the past and viewing it through rose tinted glasses.
12. let U go Contains elements of “Getting Late” by Floetry
Notes: The twelfth song I made. Floetry is underrated. The quote resonated with the song well: "I don't love you anymore". That's Natalie Portman in Closer. This song was originally called "Kit, You're All I Think About". Same girl I talked about in "Higherr_Mine". The part where Floetry sing "Baby" over and over again is so beautiful and it reminds me of begging someone to love them or not to leave or not to hurt them, etc. and that's how I felt with this girl. I wanted to talk to her all the time, to show her how much she meant to me, but I realized how pathetic I was because she didn't like me like that and it was almost like me begging for a chance. It broke my heart. So I renamed it. I had to let her go. The last thing I wrote for her was this haiku: Asking why it rains / or why the birds migrate south / thinking about you
13. ♡♡♡♡ Contains elements of “Just As Long As I Have You” by The Manhattans and "Poppin' Them Thangs" by G-Unit
Notes: The fifth song I made. Another motown sample and it's very soulful. I like the lyrics that I sampled in the song: Loving you for the rest of my days / Just as long as I have you. I wanted to juxtapose the sentimental content of the sample with the lyrics that 50 was saying: Now take a look at how my lifestyle changed up / I done came up. Kind of reflecting how people change and how certain lifestyles may drive people apart.
14. perfume Contains elements of “How Soon" by Joe and "Love U Like I Do" by Tiara Thomas
Notes: The last song I made. I was chilling and drinking with my roommate Jake and we were listening to my ipod on these huge speakers I blew out DJ'ing at a local bar when "How Soon" by Joe came on. I could barely hear any of the treble but I recognized the sample and thought the chorus was money. The next day I went to Bixler library and whipped this song up. The last part is a preview to my upcoming electronica/lovetrap project. I'll probably play end my live sets with the song so stay tuned.
15. All My Luv (f. Janet Jackson) Contains elements of “That's the Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson
Notes: The tenth song I made. Obviously very different than the rest of the album. Janet Jackson is a queen and another example of great early 90s R&B music. The lyrics also reflect a hopeful tone at the end: I'm going to give you all my love. Because even though I've been heart broken, I can/will love again. I also wanted to show my versatility and end the album on a happy note because you're never really alone.
16. luv U 4ever (Secret Track) Contains elements of “NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert” by Robert Glasper Experiment/NPR
Notes: Haha! The last track was merely a ruse. This is actually the last track, but it's secret so technically they're both kind of the last track. Anyway, I made this song when I was home during winter break and I was poring through NPR's Tiny Desk Concerts (see confused emoticon song above). Marsha Ambrosius killed it live and the whole Robert Glasper Experiment are geniuses. The lyrics also reflect my trust issues: I need your trust, I need your love / I want to feel you in my arms / Put me back together and mend my heart. I always liked the concept of secret tracks..I'll incorporate more in the future.
Bonus Tracks America, 2016 (f. Burger) Contains elements of “Mystery of Love" by Mr. Fingers and "Winter in America" by Gil Scott Heron
Notes: Inspired by Kanye West's "Fade". Ode to the Life of Pablo but also to the harsh reality of police brutality and the whole Black Lives Matter movement. I think the last part "Winter in America" by Gil Scott Heron is very relevant today. 21st century civil rights movement.
Deja Vu (f. Tim Cross, Hassan El Hobo & Justah Phase) Contains elements of “Who Can I Run To" by The Jones Girls
Notes: The beat was inspired by Kanye West's "Devil In A New Dress". Got the homies Tim Cross, Hassan El Hobo, and Justah Phase to bless the track. Justah Phase's verse came a few days before I sent the album out to press so I'm incredibly grateful for that and for both Tim and Hassan agreeing to hop on it. I think it came together really nicely. Big things are ahead of us. NO.VIEWS
Closer Contains elements of “Kehlani's Freestyle" by PARTYNEXTDOOR
Notes: PARTYNEXTDOOR is a big inspiration for me. I named it "Closer" after the movie starring Natalie Portman and Jude Law. It also fits well with the rest of the album: Who did you love that I gotta shake hands with? / Who did you love that I gotta make plans with? It's cool cause you can really hear him progress and I hope it'll be the same with me. I also just wanted to revamp this track.