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7/17

The NBA Soap Opera- All My Players 

I go over the current state of the NBA as of July team by team, but I do it my way.

Lakers and Warriors 

Well, here we are. The Toronto Raptors are NBA Champions. What a season, Lebron and the Lakers flopped, Anthony Davis said “eh I don’t really feel like doing that any more” when he realized he would have to play basketball in New Orleans for another year after this one, and Magic Johnson said the same when he came to terms with the perspective reality that he actually has to effect positive change and make smart decisions consistently instead of just hoping to sign super stars. The Warriors seemed to implode internally for the better part of a regular season in which they finished as the one seed in true disappointing Golden State Warrior fashion. I personally find it hilarious when teams get so good that no matter the success, they still end up hating each other. I’m from the Jersey Shore, Monmouth County to be exact, and here when we have a really good thing that always works, theres always that one person that decides they don’t want it anymore, or that it’s getting old, and they mess everything up. Thats the Warriors, that really fun Bar, or event that is just amazing every year, and I can’t quite pin-point who is the player that decided this year would be the year to ruin everything, but now I don’t have to. Just like the aforementioned Toronto Raptors I was bailed out by the plethora of injuries that hampered the Warriors on the back half of the post season. I will prematurely say it even though the only ginormous loss the Warriors suffered was really Kevin Durant (big, but the team that excited before him went 73-9). This has been a long time coming, we watched the lovable “We believe” Warriors morph into an underdog up-and-coming squad with a light-skinned baby face bucket getter named Wardell Stephen Curry. Quickly, after the termination of Mark Jackson, and the subsequent entrance of Steve “roll me a backwood” Kerr (cc: Nick Young), the Warriors were a true contender. They added Kevin Durant after the GOAT, Lebron James, sent the Dubs retreating for reinforcements. The Kevin Durant addition brought the Warriors two more titles. All in all the Warriors dynasty clocked in at a 3/5 with a repeat, and what could be perceived as a three-peat if father time and the universal powers that be did not step in and stop the fight. It is with reluctant pleasure that I say to the 2020-2021 Golden State Warriors WAY TOO SOON; Kevin Durant is not walking through that door, Sean Livingston is not walking through that door, Quinn Cook is not walking through that door, Andre Iguadola is not walking through that door, and for at least a half season Klay “probably better than Steph but less marketable” Thompson is not walking through that door. However, D’angelo Russel and Willy Cully-Stein are so… I, nay, we could be blowing our load way too soon, but the Warriors are dead, banished to the purgatory that is the 5 seed in the western conference, RIP to a great dynasty and have fun in limbo until Steph retires. The Lakers got AD and skinny Boogie along side a new gang shooters and vets that can help gel the team quicker than most others, its their turn to have tons of success in the midst of an inordinate amount of petty turmoil (lets see how long Taco Tuesdays last when you’re 5 games back of the Jazz at the break Lebron).

Toronto Raptors Boston Celtics OKC and Houston 

I digress however, and continue the drama filled dialogue on what has been possibly one of the best off seasons in recent memory. Best is too broad of a word, I would refer to this off season as “eventful” and nothing more, but also nothing short of. The poor Toronto Raptors became the poster child for why it may not be a great idea to do the whole “rent-a-star” idea. Kawhi left! And the only thing he left them was the first NBA Title in franchise history; tragic, selfish, and all together deceitful. Wait a minute I may have had my Skip Bayless autocorrect feature on. Thank God no other team in the NBA tried to rent a star and had it blow up in their face. Anyways, we could not wait for the Celtics to suck again, but obviously after a calendar year where only 2 out of the 4 major Boston area teams won the championship, the sports gods rewarded the much maligned and beat down Boston fans with Kemba Walker, and most likely another 3 NBA seasons with the playoffs coming to town and gangle of opportunities to remain relevant in any sports conversation ever. Moreover, I was ready to roast the Houston Rockets, but as any AWL of Pardon My Take would reiterate, I will simply say this of the Rockets offseason thus far, this league. In all seriousness Russ and James Harden together on a team is so hard to fathom. There is only one ball, imagine a team smart enough to draft both of them, and make it work. They would make the finals easily with one other star, preferably a big man that can shoot, but I will get my head out of the clouds and stop playing fantasy basketball and focus on the Rockets for now. They bring back essentially the same team outside of Chris Paul, which is not necessarily a bad thing at all. Speaking of bad things, OKC sucks again, or perhaps for the first time. The sports gods always prevail as they punish OKC with a Buffalo Bill-esque generation. 3 MVPS 2 other all stars, and a handful of solid roll players, and what do they have to show for it? Well, I just said it. The thought I had about the Thunder is they had so many great individuals, and while basketball is a great individual sport it is teams that win championships, players win MVPs, hence the sentence prior to this. Sam Presti is definitely on the hot seat, hopefully that AAU rosters worth of future first round picks he acquired can come through in the clutch, right after 3rd period conceptual science class. 

Heat Sixers Spurs

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Speaking of Heat, Jimmy Butler is there now. I won’t pretend to be a pro at the basketball analysis game, I just call it how I see it. Every spring since Bron left the heat are about to make the post season, whether they do or don’t does not really matter because the season will end shortly after that either way. I’m not exactly sure why J-Butt left Philly, I thought what they had going there could be good, and he finally found a city that cared as much as he did, but again what do I know. If you payed me 100 Million plus to live and hoop in Miami, I would not ask much questions other than when the next flight out is. I’m going to take a quick break from talking basketball to speak about chess. Not sure what the Spurs did, but I expect they’ll be in the playoffs as long as I’m living and breathing on this Earth. Plus Demar Derozan is the mid range god Okay, back to Philly. This town has loads of camaraderie every major sports stadium  is literally in the same complex and as an Eagles fan I find that so cool. I’ve grown quite the affinity to the Sixers even though I am a Knicks fan mostly because I like to see Philly fans happy, I also feel safer even though we ate poop and flipped cars after our first Super Bowl victory. The Sixers added Al Horford so Joel Embiid can sleep at night, as well as Josh Richardson who is good enough to market now, I guess, and they brought back Tobias Harris, hopefully the magic didn’t lay within the Bobi/Tobi connection and he can have the same success now that he’s stupid rich. The Sixers are the ultimate “potential starting line up eye emoji team.” A bunch of good players, some players that you only feel are good because others tell you they were good, and a star. Truth is we don’t know what the Sixers will be, but their saving grace is that they’re in the eastern conference so they can mail in a 3 or 4 seed and figure it out then. Hopefully the three point line doesn’t kill them before that time. 

Knicks Clippers Bucks

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Speaking of killing things, the Knicks! The Knicks deserve jail time. Why essentially promise us a superstar instead of just saying, hey we are going to try. We traded Kristaps in hopes for KD, and Kyrie, and it did not work. Mills and Perry actually went to work. This hurts to say, but with a young promising player that was dumped by LA, and a group of young players that have showed promise, the Knicks look a lot like the Nets did last year. Don’t look me in the eye and tell me you thought Caris Lavert would be Caris Lavert, and Jarrett Allen would be Jarrett Allen. Okay, so with that said enter Alonzo Tirer and Mitchell Robinson. Kevin Knox also showed good range in summer league RJ Barrett averaged like 15 and 8, and guys like Bobby Portis, Marcus Morris, and Reggie Bullock fill the holes with enough effort and talent mixed in to get to the (dare I say) 8 seed. here_we_go_joker_.gif. Speaking of unexpected teams the Clippers are relevant again for the first time since Lob City. If you believe rumors than you also believe that Doc Rivers and Paul George have some stuff to figure out, but thanks to Pat Bev and Lou Will the Clips held down the fort until Kawhi and PG-13 came home, now they’ll probably be the best defensive team in the league with the quietest in house locker room chemistry. It is often said that Kawhi restored balance to the NBA, but where one threat is defeated a larger one looms. I give it 2 seasons before everyone hates how good the Clippers are (if everyone stays healthy). Not much to say about the Bucks. They’re good. Giannis feels like a Dame or a D-book type player that wouldn’t even think of leaving his franchise for a bigger market or a team up else where. The Knicks fan in me sees the bevy of team options that postures us up to make a run at the Greek Freak, but I know better than to get my hopes up for two things, my romantic life, and the New York Knicks. For the Bucks however, they bring back everyone besides Malcolm Brogdon who’s foot is apparently supposed to explode at some point. nonetheless 84 Mil to hold down the for until Dipo gets back isn’t a bad gig for Brogdon, but also not a monumental loss for the Bucks, because, well, Giannis. 

Nets Bulls Cavs

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The only thing I like about Chicago is the music. I’ll never get over the video of D Rose when he realized his hometown team traded him to the Knicks. I can’t un-hear that crackly broken “you lyin’” Rose let out when he realized his career was only trending down after that. The Bulls haven’t been relevant since Rose. I’m not really sure if Baby Dirk Lauri Markkanen is actually that great, but Zach Lavine is trending up. Colby White is a great pick just because he has supplied me with enough tweet reaction responses to last me the rest of the year, good luck to the Bulls, I wish I knew more about you. Onto more interesting things we have the Brooklyn Nets. The ultimate last laugh for any dwarfed franchise is being all around better than the bigger, richer, and more well known franchise. So here are the Nets. For the time being Nets fans you win, you for KD, and you got Kyrie. You lost DLo, but you keep Allen, Dinwiddie, Lavert, and many other players that helped you to shock the NBA world last season and force teams to put more respect on your names. 2020 may not be the final product, but 2021 should be. In the illustrious words of Micheal Scott “this had better be terrible.” From a realistic, not at all biased stand point however, if I were a Nets fan I would be scared. You went from a quiet yet commanding, docile yet passionate playmaking point guard, to another point guard with the personality of an angsty teenager off that mid-pack. Rumor has it that Jaylen Brown actually hated Kyrie Irving because he felt he as fake deep. I’m not sure how that equates to basketball, and far be it from me to assume I know any of these men personally, but take that how you will. My message to BK fans is to not be too surprised if you look up Christmas day and you’re the biggest question mark in the NBA due to underachieving and Kyrie is one bad game away from saying something passive aggressive to the New York media. Also KD, tore his achilles and although he is amazing, and in the conversation has an all time player I feel like we forgot what that injury does to people. KD is in his 30’s now. I hope I’m wrong about the Slim Reaper, but unless something with this injury has changed over the last few months I’m probably not wrong. The next team on my list is the Cavs, but like…no

Mavs Pelicans Blazers

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The Dallas Mavericks are such an anomaly. I’m not exactly sure what they will be next year. They should theoretically make the playoffs but the Magavricks led by Luka and Kristaps are very unproven. Can they be led by a 2nd year player and an injury prone big? I’m not quite sure. They added Boban and Seth Curry so just like their additions and their stars I imagine they’ll be pretty average. Another average team is the Pelicans. I think the NBA and sports media felt bad for the Pelicans fans after they were spurned by Anthony Davis or maybe they felt sympathy New Orleans fans in general after their sports year so the New Orleans baksetball off season has been hyped up and heralded as top notch. They stumbled upon the number one overall pick, that obviously turned into Zion “Chonk” Williamson. The players and assets they got for AD obviously weren’t bad, and Jaxson Hayes is apparently just another light-skin NBA player that can jump really really high (cc: Aaron Gordon and Zach Levine). They added JJ Reddick, as well and before you know its the Pels have a nice litter squad. Except for the fact that Anthony Davis is GONE. They finally added some nice pieces to put around the star, all it took was trading away their star… wait thats not right. They aren’t to blame however AD asked to be traded so obviously they have to trade him, thats the rules I’m pretty sure. I bet New Orleans wishes they were more like Portland. The Blazers are doing something right out there, because to actually have stars that want to stay in the pit of mediocracy in hopes to soon depart from it is very rare. Damian Lillard is a gamer. I won’t be one of those people that says he’s underrated because if you don’t know how good Dame is then your just stupid. The underrated tag goes to CJ Mccollum he just about saved Dame from a night of slander form irrelevant twitter trolls at the end of the Denver series. Adding Hassan Whiteside is interesting, and also don’t forget Jusef Nurkic who is one of the ultimate “also don’t forget about” players right up there with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Malcolm Brogden and pretty much the rest of the Pacers roster along with half of the Heat’s and most of the Utah Jazz. 

Jazz Pistons Nuggets + everyone else 

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The Utah Jazz are actually going to be really good. Mike Conley deserves to win, he quietly has hooped majority of his career so for him to enter the locker room of an already solid squad will be good for him. The Utah Jazz feel like a very obviously good 3 seed. Adam Silver will ultimately make the call though when it comes down to it the NBA doesn’t need the finals in Utah. I’m firing on all pistons right now at almost 3 thousands words so if you’ve made it this far, you’re either my parents, or you really like basketball. The Detroit Pistons probably will be a playoff team because Blake Griffin is a stud but the thing I really want to see is the revival of D rose. I will be a closet Pistons fan all year until it is between them and the Knicks in a slobber knocker race for the 8 seed. The Nuggets backed up the brinks truck for Jamal Murray and Jokic should probably be MVP barring a spectacular season from anyone else, I feel like he’s next on the hierarchy of valuable players. The Nuggets are running it back, and rightfully so. T wolves, Suns, Kings, yeah. I like Swipa Fox, I feel like he can break out, but I’m not sure what that Harrison Barnes thing was about, but we must pay true homage to a finesse king. T wolves are exactly who we think think they are as the late great Denny Green would say. The Suns aren’t getting better in 7 seconds or less, so I won’t waste my time. Prove me wrong Devin Booker. The Hornets lowballed the best player their franchise has ever seen in conceivably the stingiest offer to a super max player ever. They deserve everything they get out of this season. The Pacers will manage to manufacture a 45-50 win season, the Grizzlies are in Memphis to the extent of my knowledge, it is going to be interesting to see if the Magic making the playoffs was an anomaly or a legit thing, but it feels like they should reach out to a team with players that could be a nice addition, maybe Chris Paul. The Atlanta Hawks are either a dark horse 6 seed, or a huge flop, no in between, and the Wizards I honestly just feel bad for. John Wall needs to get healthy, and Washington needs to free Bradley Beal, starting over isn’t always bad. 

I am Trevon James, and I am from Howell, New Jersey. Currently, I am a student at Monmouth University. I founded Shore Life Lyrics in the fall of 2017. In its genesis, Shore Life Lyrics was nothing more than an assignment for a Social Media/PR class. It was an assignment that was designed to create a portfolio of journalism and public relations works that would have been accrued over the course of the semester. Shore Life Lyrics was just a small blog. I interviewed various artists over the course of the semester and would create a feature story about them as well as their work, I would write short stories that popped into my head from time to time, all on the basis of art, and I would provide reaction to things going on in the world of pop culture, particularly music.

 

At a certain point during that semester I started to realize that a certain life style was prominent in this area. Every person, young and old, lives their lives uniquely and differently, but all at the same time the people in this area live in such a fluid way that I could not ignore. I fell in love with music in 2013 when I used writing as a coping mechanism in high school. I noticed during that semester in 2017 that my case is similar to that of a lot of young people in the Jersey Shore area. Here is where the life style becomes OURS; instead of having everyone just make music about nonsense and create art for nothing I noticed that everyone does it in such a way where the personality of this area is laced within his or her creations. The lifestyle we live, by the beach, by the boardwalk, and down the shore is tucked so smoothly behind all of the art in this area. My plan is to make it shine.

 

I started by trying to develop exactly what I wanted to do. I decided that music was too narrow, so I expanded to photography, and eventually all art. I featured people on my website and I stated that Shore Life Lyrics was no longer a blog, but an entire lifestyle; “Shore Life.” This is where Pat Walsh came in. The 20-year-old from Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey has helped me with everything tangible for Shore Life that you see today. He was instrumental in making my visions reality, taking the lifestyle off of the website I made, and spreading it around. Pat and I worked like absolute dogs for so long developing a name and trying to get people to buy in and eventually they did, the first of whom was his brother Ian Walsh. Enter, Dan Lodrago. He gave Pat and I the ability to take the music we were making to new levels. His connections allowed our social media following to grow, and it they are still growing today. We added Anthony Cinko not too long after that. Cinko has been amazing and his connections and efforts are what allowed us to book places like the Asbury Park Music Foundation for our first ever Listening Party.

 

Almost a year later the Shore Life Lyrics team that now consists of its founder Trevon James, Patrick Walsh, Ian Walsh, Dan Lodrago, and Anthony Cinko, has advocated for artists across this area, and now plans on hosting their very first event. It went from a class assignment, to a blog, to advocacy for a certain lifestyle, and now it has the potential to be an amazing start up that will hopefully give the Jersey Shore art scene the shine it deserves, starting with this listening party on July 7th at the Asbury Park Music Foundation. At this event there will be 20 vendors and performers in attendance, all from the Shore Area, and it will hopefully be just the beginning of an even more massive adventure.

The Back Story

I sat on my phone on a steamy summer morning and skimmed through my direct messages on Instagram. I must admit before I go on, that there are multiple users that run the Shore Life Lyrics account. I came across a conversation that another Shore Life Lyrics board member had started. It was with Soire Records affiliate, Darion Harris. I became interested with the idea of learning more about Harris, and about Soire Records. We talked for a bit getting to know each other’s music interests and styles. Eventually we scheduled a phone call for the subsequent day. I had to think about what I would ask Harris, mainly because I wanted to extract from him the most unique factoids about his music along with the rest of Soire Records.

Our conversation started as an interview soon broke into an open conversation about diversity of music. Harris answered questions as if he had been doing it for years. Although he was soft spoken, his confidence grew with every answer. We talked for about 20 minutes before we parted ways. After the conversation ended I thought about the best way to express to you the creativity that Soire Records has on it’s hands.

The First Fire Quote

We talked about the direction of his music and as my pen blazed across the page Harris let out one of the most important pearls that artistry has to offer. “Every artist has their own direction,” said the New York native, “I’m a producer first.”

Harris The Ever Growing Artist

Darion Harris entered the world of artistry as a neophyte. At just 16 years old Harris started making his first tunes. His main influences are Donald Glover, Pharell, and Tame Impala writer, Kevin Parker. The main genres that Harris sticks to are EDM, R&B, and Hip Hop. Harris however did talk about the fact that there is no boundary on what Soire records music comes with; their discography seemingly comes with an endless range of genres and styles.

Answers Directly From the Source

How many artists are on this lable?

We have been expanding we started off with two artist, but we have 5 artist right now. Their names are Junius Karr, Darion Harris, Must Come Down, Absent Nabi, nd Gosha Guppy.  Then we have people who don’t make music who are big a part of what we do. Blake who has been a DJ for us at all our shows is an example of that. Nate who has been doing our artwork for years and Jordan who’s helping get stuff moving the backend are also important parts of this label.  We honestly move like a family over here.

How did it start? 

The anti-label label. In 2016, Darion  founded Soire Records; a label where artists get the support they need to launch without having to relinquish creative freedom. While the vision sounds like a politically-correct statement that Universal or WB Music Execs could cough up at any second, it is through Darion’s experience that brings meat to this statement. “I was producing behind the scenes for people when I was sixteen and I was able to observe other artists. Many of them didn’t have control over their own ideas and branding. From watching this, it created a fear of not being able to express myself as an artist. That’s how my label came about.”

What is the main focal point the branding you are going for?

Honestly, the main focus is trying to put out authentic content and quality content. We take our time with our music until its ready for the world to hear what we are doing. Everything that’s out feels like its dressed up nice and packaged well, but the product itself isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Whats Next?

Stay up to date with all of Darion Harris’ music HERE

Soire Records Music can also be found on spotify here:

GOSHA GUPPY

Absent Nabi

Junius Karr

For Darion Harris and Soire Records next up is the release of his single on August 21st. Here is was the Soire Team had to say about that.

After a year long hiatus following the release of Soire his explosive joint mixtape with label mate Absent Nabi, and garnering support from rising stars in the music industry like Smooky MarGielaa and his mentor Melo-X, Darion Harris is ready to step back into the spotlight with his new single “W.U.L.A.” The track is a message to all those that doubt Harris and are obsessed with questioning his lifestyle. He lets them know that if they can’t accept his individuality, they should “take a pic” and keep it moving. Drawing inspiration from Rae Sremmurd and Pharrell, “W.U.L.A.” is a light and bouncy self-love anthem that demands engagement from the listener.

Darion’s Pearl Of Wisdon

I guess my advice to anyone trying to create is to know your worth. Each thing you create is a product of yourself and it should be treated that way.

keep up with Soire Records at

Soire-records.com

I caught up with the talented shore artist Ella Ross. We covered an abundance of topics some short questions. Here is your chance to dive deeper into what can become one of your favorite artists from this area. Enjoy!

1. At what point in your life did you realize music was important to you, and at what point did you want to pursue it. 
For my whole life I was really drawn to music, as most people are. I love that a song can remind you of a specific place or time in your life. Songs can have different personal meanings to different people. Music truly is the universal language. I started doing vocal lessons when I was 11. Right before I was about to go to college in Nashville, I realized there was a lot more to learn and I took advantage of my surroundings, Asbury Park! I was around 18 when I started writing and taking music more seriously. I released my first EP in the summer of 2017.
2. Who are your main inspirations as artists in this industry?
It changes a lot, at the moment I’m really inspired by Billie Eilish, Lorde, Radiohead, and Wolf Alice. I think Lorde’s writing style is really unique, her voice is truly her instrument. I think Billie Eilish is really cool. She’s super young, but is already so successful and I think it comes from being herself. Her melodies are simple and beautiful.
ELLAROSS (44 of 45)
photo by Ciara Perone
3. Do any other genres besides your own influence you?
I listen to all genres and I am definitely inspired by so many different genres. I listen to a lot of Dolly Parton even though country is not my genre.
4. Who pushed you to pursue music?
I really pushed myself. My family completely supports me along this journey as well.
5. At what point will you be able to say youve made it?
I don’t really like to set goals that will cause too much pressure on myself, but there are definitely certain venues I’d love to play at and certain people I’d love to play with.
6. What is your pearl of wisom, or advice you would give to your younger self or other artists?
First, Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and be yourself. Take advice from people, but your own opinion matters the most. 
7. Whats the next big thing for you?
I have a new EP coming out June 29th with a release show that night at The Saint. Special guests include We’re Ghosts Now, Lauren Patti, and Ernest. I’m really excited about these new songs and I’m genuinely proud of them.
You can follow all of Ella Ross’ music, and so on through the various links:

The Lambert Top 15: Los Angeles (Vol. 2)

By Andrew Lambert

Photo via Flickr

These lists are based off of my own personal opinion. I do not take into account commercial or critical success, and these lists may differ from your own opinions or appear biased.

Los Angeles has become arguably the best place for a rapper to come from. The impact the city had in the 90’s with artists like Tupac, N.W.A., Snoop Dogg, and many more, has forever changed the game. It’s Californicated paradise sound, heavily influenced by the weather and marijuana, creates relaxing vibes, while keeping in touch with the ghettos of Compton and enormous gang presence, creating some of the hardest gangster rappers we’ve ever seen. L.A. is an artist’s paradise, and I am going to explore 15 of my personal favorite albums created by Los Angeles rappers.

15- “Goblin” – Tyler, the Creator (2010

I am sure we all can remember seeing the edgy music video for “Yonkers” for the first time. Rap had not had its own personal dark psychopath since Eminem. Tyler’s debut enraged many, but inspired even more. He wasn’t a gangster, but he surely was not innocent, as he rapped about committing violent crimes, rebellion, and some questionable ideas. Songs like “She” and “Radicals” stand out to me as two songs on this project where Tyler made it clear he was here to stay. His odd style of production in collaboration with his aggressively rugged voice makes for a one of a kind sound.

14- “Black Sunday” – Cypress Hill (1993)

Cypress Hill is an interesting group, and at the time, were pushing boundaries to places nobody thought they should go. From “When The Sh– Goes Down”, to “Insane in the Brain”, to “Hits From the Bong”, the madness that is Cypress Hill is evident, while remaining a classic L.A. rap group and keeping in touch with their roots production-wise. Cypress Hill is an important piece to what Los Angeles rap has become today.

13- “Doggystyle” – Snoop Dogg (1993)

Although I went against the grain and did not pay homage to Los Angeles greats like Tupac and N.W.A. in this article, I enjoy Snoop Dogg’s debut all too much to not include it. As a superstar and television personality today, people forget how gangster and reckless Uncle Snoop was back in the day. While songs like “Gin and Juice” give a glimpse of the chilled out Snoop that he would so famously become, songs like “Murder Was The Case” shows how in touch with the hard streets of Compton Snoop Dogg was. All in all, this album is a classic.

12- “Earl” – Earl Sweatshirt (2010)

Tyler’s little brother, the genius producer who goes by Randomblackdude, or “that motherfucker Earl”, whatever you call him, Earl made a name for himself with his debut album back in 2010. Still a very young man at the time, only 16 years old, Earl was rapping way beyond his years and creating some of the most unique instrumentals we’ve heard at that time. From “Couch” to “Earl”, Earl makes his ability to spit mad-mouthed rhymes very clear, on top of his boundary pushing lyrics. While initially angering parents due to his lyrical content involving crimes and darkness, he became one of the first rappers to touch on mental health as a teenager.

11- “Oxymoron” – ScHoolboy Q (2014)

Kendrick’s right hand man should not be known as just that, and he proves so on his album. ScHoolboy Q has created a distinct image for himself as the aggressive MC druggie with the bucket hat. He keeps Los Angeles, particularly Compton, close to his heart, and embraces it’s style to a full extent. While showcasing his gangsta rap abilities on songs like “Man of the Year” and “Gangsta”, he does not hold back, and creates some unique melodies while displaying his fondness of partying and substances in songs like “Collard Greens” and “Hell of a Night”.

10- “To Pimp A Butterfly” – Kendrick Lamar (2015)

Almost everybody claims to love Kendrick, but not many people really listen to what he has to say, or listen past his monster commercial hits. While songs like “King Kunta” and “i” have become radio staples, it is songs like “These Walls”, “Alright”, and “The Blacker the Berry” that really made me fall in love with this project. The symbolism behind the cover art which shows a shirtless squad of minorities on the White House lawn, is so perfect because it intimidates all that corrupt politicians stand for. Kendrick challenges the ideas so blindly accepted by society, and reads a poem throughout the album. The story this album tells will break your heart and make you smile at the same time, and on top of all of this, will send an extremely important message.

9- “November” – SiR (2018)

Don’t let its recent release date confuse you, because SiR has a sound so jazzy and soulful, it will take you back to the 90’s. His soul and soft voice accompanied by a west coast vibe create for some eloquent masterpieces to take you to a different planet. Songs like “Something New” and “Dreaming of Me” display his softer side and his ability to sing, while his newfound T.D.E. associates helped incorporate that west coast sound on songs like “D’Evils” and “Something Foreign”.

8- “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside” – Earl Sweatshirt (2015)

Earl Sweatshirt has made a name for himself as a unique lyricist, but only some knew of his skills on the production side. This project puts his versatility on display as he gets extremely experimental. Although it may sound odd at first, the completely unique style of Earl is almost genreless, and he creates a complex array of sounds on each track. My personal favorite track, “Mantra”, not only showcases a different style of production never before heard, but also includes some of Earl’s best bars. The album might be an acquired taste, but it is definitely worth the time.
7- “Blank Face” – ScHoolboy Q (2016

ScHoolboy is without a doubt a gangster, and he embraces that hippy gangster image on this creative project. While he touches on the modern style with songs like “By Any Means” and “THat Part”, ScHoolboy Q makes it clear he will never lose his ghetto roots with hood anthems like “Dope Dealer” and “Groovy Tony / Eddie Kane”. Although and gangsta rap legend in the making, ScHoolboy Q proves himself as a true artist with long story telling ballads and interesting production.

6- “Summertime ‘06” – Vince Staples (2015)

Known for his breathtaking music videos that include creative imagery, Vince made it clear he is just as much an artist as a visionary. His boundary pushing lyrics tell stories of violence, heartbreak, and political concepts told from someone who has seen the worst of it on the streets of Long Beach, and is also a former member of the Crips. “Norf Norf” and “Senorita” depict so vividly life on the streets, while songs like “Jump Off the Roof” give us a taste of Vince’s artistry and musicianship. This album is an instant classic, and its sharp imagery will live on for years to come.

5- “Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City” – Kendrick Lamar (2012)

I’m not too sure what I can say about this album that practically everybody doesn’t already know. This is the album that made Kendrick Lamar who he is today. This is the album that dug a message into listener’s minds of not only what Compton is like, but made us remember the name. It will go down as one of the best rap albums of all time most likely, and while hard hits like “m.a.a.d. City” are timeless bops, the most memorable track for me is “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst”, as Kendrick tells a heartbreaking story involving death and legacies.

4- “Do What Thou Wilt.” – Ab-Soul (2016)

Ab-Soul had already become a lyrical madman by the time he released his 2016 album, in which the title is the tattoo across Ab-Soul’s shoulders. Different from the other releases from Ab-Soul, he gives us a deeper look into who he is as a person. By far the darkest of his projects, songs like “D.R.U.G.S.” and “Huey Knew THEN”, really give us a view of his inner demons. His choice of production also differed in a good way, as he created a fusion of traditional west coast elements with darker, more abstract, elements. This album as very easy to relate to personally, and is Ab-Soul’s most creative work.

3- “Flower Boy” – Tyler, the Creator (2017)

I think it was unfair that this album got so much attention for the sole reason that it made people question Tyler’s sexuality. In my opinion, I don’t care if you’re attracted to boys, girls, turtles, or dolphins. I just want a good project that is honest, personal, and obviously sounds good. Tyler does exactly that on this album, and gave haters everything they said he couldn’t do. His previous projects showed us how ridiculous Tyler can be, as he almost made his last projects as laughable as possible. On this album, however, he gets personal. Songs like “911 / Mr. Lonely”, “November”, and “See You Again”, we see Tyler’s emotions for the first time. He vividly depicts that behind the colorful anarchy, he is still a person, and is most likely lonelier and sadder than we think. On top of that, just when critics thought he couldn’t rap or have the ability to deliver bars, he gives us “Who Dat Boy” and “I Ain’t Got Time!”, in which he, excuse my French, raps his fucking ass off. His musicianship is, as always, enjoyable to listen to, as he is a master of his production craft. Tyler’s best project yet will be remembered for a very long time as most likely the project that took Tyler to another level.

2- “DAMN.” – Kendrick Lamar (2017)

As I said before, there is not much to say about Kendrick that we all don’t already know. This album is, in my opinion, his best project yet, and when you look at his catalog, that was very difficult to do for Kendrick. His flow has evolved substantially, moving from traditional bars to intricate and creative flows, while not losing his lyrical mastery. He also has become a skillful producer and musician, incorporating some of the most creative use of instruments I’ve ever heard in rap music. As expected, he gets political, but to my surprise, he somehow delivers an expected message in a very unexpected way. He also touches on his personal life and experiences with romance, creating for a journey that will make you just say “damn” at the end of every masterpiece of a song.

1- “Doris” – Earl Sweatshirt (2013)

Aside from the fact that Earl is one of my favorite rappers ever, I put this album as number one on this list because I feel like it goes underappreciated. Earl’s lyrical madness is on full display, and his skills as a producer are not held back in any way. From a dirty street anthem like “Hive”, to a ballad to marijuana on “Sunday”, to a darker personal view into Earl’s troubled life on “Chum”, to a typical circus of a song that Earl has delivered time and time again on “WHOA”, this album has it all. Earl establishes himself as a true artist on this one of a kind project, which is clear is the most in touch with who Earl really is.

A note from the editor:

Welcome to the Lambert 15. This will become everyone’s most debated volume series this site will have to offer. I encourage you all to reach out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, or directly on this site and voice your opinon. Andrew Lambert is going city by city, state by state, and week by week he will tell you his top 15 projects from that city. Enjoy each volume and take it for what it is; a debateable topic.

The Lambert Top 15: New York City (Vol. 1)

By Andrew Lambert

Photo via: Fine art america

A note from the author:

These lists are based off of my own personal opinion. I do not take into account commercial or critical success, and these lists may differ from your own opinions or appear biased.

New York City was the birthplace if hip hop music. When Sugarhill Gang release “Rapper’s Delight” in September of 1979, music was changed forever. As a result, and to no surprise, there has been a plethora of talented artists. In this list, I will explore fifteen of my favorite albums delivered by a New York City artist. There may be some projects that will come out of left field, and there may be some projects that you’ll be just as hyped as me about… deadass b.

15- “Disguise the Limit” – Nyck Caution (2016)

Pro Era stormed into the rap scene in 2012 when two rappers dropped revolutionary projects, but the other artists in their crew don’t get enough credit. Nyck Caution is a mad-mouthed MC who can deliver classic New York punchlines, and has an unmatched flow. His raspy voice somehow seems smooth, and makes for great additions on Pro Era’s unique style of production. “Disguise the Limit” features a number of classic rap songs, including “What’s Understood” which was produced by Metro Boomin and features no other than Joey Bada$$. It also includes a tribute to his late friend, Capital STEEZ, on a track called “Out of Reach”

14- “Vacation in Hell” – Flatbush Zombies (2018)

The first time I heard Flatbush Zombies I was a freshman in high school (2012), and “Thug Waffle” came on. I honestly thought it was a joke, until I started exploring more of their music. Although Meechy Darko’s voice was an acquired taste their unique style and border-line psychedelic rap is nothing short of ear candy. “Big Fish” and “Leather Symphony” are just two tracks of the many that stand out on their first studio album, and as a producer, I marvel at Erick the Architect’s abilities to create, and was surprised at how little samples he uses.

13- “Amerikkkan Korruption” – Capital STEEZ (2012)

There is a lot that can be said about Capital STEEZ, and after his mysterious suicide in 2012, the enigma of the crazy lyricist only become more vast. STEEZ had a lot of mental health issues, including schizophrenia. These complications mixed with his heavy use of shrooms and LSD lead to his unfortunate demise. He believed he was a god, an indigo child, and thought the world was going to end in 2047 in which he will come down and reveal himself as god. He became obsessed with the number 47, and even released this project on April 7th (04/07). The number 47 is visible in a lot of STEEZ’s artwork, as well. His extremely wild mind did make for some amazing music, however, and when I first saw the music video for Free the Robots, I was instantly hooked. Long live STEEZ!

12- “LONG.LIVE.A$AP.” – A$AP Rocky (2013)

A$AP Rocky, in my humble opinion, is an unbelievable artist. He has managed to prove himself in almost every rap genre, including trap, east coast rap, experimental, grime, and more recently collaborating with new wave Soundcloud rappers. His undeniable swagger and touch of psychedelics make for an interesting mix, and his debut studio album delivered all of the above. From “P.M.W.” to “Fashion Killa”, it is clear of how diverse Rocky can be, and there are plenty of bars where Rocky flexes his ability to spit.

11- “All-Amerikkkan Bada$$” – Joey Bada$$ (2017)

I know, it is pretty clear of how much I enjoy music by Pro Era. Joey Bada$$ has proved himself to be one of the best lyricists in the game, and although this project gets some hate by fans, I happened to enjoy it greatly. Songs like “For My People” and “Temptation” really showcase Joey’s soul, as well as his ability to provide something different than aggressive New York rhyming. His flow and tenacity are still evident, and he shows so on “Rockabye Baby”, a collab with ScHoolboy Q that is nothing short of a Pro Era and TDE classic.

10- “Evermore: The Art of Duality” – The Underachievers (2014)

If you haven’t heard of The Underachievers yet, you better get yourself acquainted. The duo from Flatbush is, in every way, one of a kind. Their projects feature a blend of New York MCing with a vibrant style and taste for psychedelics and separate universes. Their song “Allusions” is a timeless display of their rapping abilities, while “Rain Dance” puts their creativity on the forefront.

9- “12” – A$AP Twelvyy (2017)

When someone from the A$AP Mob dropped a project, and it wasn’t Ferg or Rocky, I did not know how to feel at first. I wasn’t sure if it would be any good. It was summertime, so I said why not and threw it on while I was painting. A$AP Twelvyy is as New York as it gets. His intense flow tells stories that take you to the streets of New York City, and make you feel like the shooter Twelvyy once was. “Strapped” and “Periodic Table” show just how in touch with his concrete jungle roots he is, while “Diamonds” and “Ea$tSideGho$t” display how creative he can really be and make a name for himself in the new age of rap. The album even features a wild collaboration with Flatbush Zombies on a track called “A Glorious Death”, and the switch in that song will leave you speechless.

 

8- “Illmatic” – Nas (1994)

You can’t talk about New York City and not mention the legend, Nas. If you played the video game Saints Row 2 back in the day, “N.Y. State of Mind” would be immediately recognizable. There was something so badass about driving around in gang wars while listening to Nasty Nas spit heat. Nas’ project features hard N.Y. bars, and even soulful flare in songs like “The World Is Yours”. This classic is a must have in your music library.

7- “1999” – Joey Bada$$ (2012)

It is amazing to think that Joey Bada$$ released his legendary debut mixtape at only 17 years old. What’s even more impressive is the nostalgic sound he produced as a teenager, and his ability to create some of the most exhilarating punch lines. Joey’s debut mixtape will take you to the 90’s while keeping you grounded here today. It is a classic mixtape that features some of the most iconic Pro Era songs that helped their rise to stardom, including his epic collab with Capital STEEZ, titled “Survival Tactics”.

6- “The Black Album” – Jay Z (2003)

When I saw Jay Z live, he played about 30 songs. Whenever the legend, who some argue is the greatest rapper of all time, performed anything off his 2003 album, the arena went haywire. It is hard to pick which Jay Z albums are my favorite because he has so many. Jay Z’s distinct voice and slick flow, matched with his expert ear for good production has helped this project become a staple in music libraries. From “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”, to “99 Problems”, it is clear Jay Z may have 99 problems, but this album certainly isn’t one.

5- “4:44” – Jay Z (2017)

I may get some flack for including this album and not some other Jay Z classics like “Reasonable Doubt” and “The Blueprint”, but there is something special about being alive when a legend like Jay Z drops something and being able to experience it. The first time I heard the instrumental for the title track off this album, I was immediately inspired. The music video for “The Story of O.J.” is not only a classic vibe and showcases Jay Z’s creativity, but it is something that was needed for the time. Jay Z is as honest and open as he ever was on this album, and it made for some emotionally incredible music.

4- “Cozy Tapes, Vol. 1: Friends” – A$AP Mob (2016)

While I did not enjoy the second edition of the Mob’s “Cozy Tapes”, Volume 1 is a journey and a half. Every song sounds completely different, from production to flow, and really shows how well A$AP Rocky in particular can work with other artists. The album features hard New York flow on songs like “Money Man” and “Crazy Brazy”, a touch of grime on “London Town” and “Put That On My Set”, and even some more experimental and psychedelic anthems like “Way Hii” and “Telephone Calls”. The visuals for the album took my breath away, as evident from the visually stunning music video for “Yamborghini High”, which is the most popular song on the project. A$AP Rocky put his creativity and acting skills on display as well, with a short film for the album with “Put That On My Set” and “Money Man”.

 

3- “B4.DA.$$.” – Joey Bada$$ (2014)

Before the money… badass. Aside from the cool title, this album is in my opinion Joey’s best work. He fused classic New York style MCing and production with ideally modern elements. Joey flexes how talented he is on the mic on songs like “Christ Conscious” and “Big Dusty”, while showing his creative side and his ability to send a message on songs like “Paper Trail$” and “Hazeus View”. This project is as New York as they come, and there isn’t a single song on it that you can’t bump with the volume all the way up.

2- “Too High To Riot” – Bas (2016)

While J. Cole is clearly the ruler of Dreamville, Bas is slept on too heavily. This project is something I can’t even put into words. The production is not like anything I’ve ever heard, and he almost fuses modern-style trap with nostalgic vibes and a jazzy touch. Bas is clearly a man on a mission, and the album sends a message. As creative as the subliminal undertones are, it is really the unique flow and wild production that blows me away on this album. His soft side and emotions are on display on songs like “Live For” and “Penthouses”, while he narrates his bad experience with drugs on “Methylone”, and just in case you forget how talented of an MC he is while getting lost in the creativity, Bas makes sure to remind you on songs like “Night Job” and “Housewives”.

1- “AT.LONG.LAST.A$AP.” – A$AP Rocky (2015)

I’m a sucker for Rocky, I know. But come on, it is impossible to deny how creative he is. There is not a stone Rocky left unturned on this project, and while some argue his debut album is his best work, I disagree. From slow moving, jazzy instrumental rap songs like “Holy Ghost” and “Jukebox Joints”, to psychedelic masterpieces like “L$D” and “Fine Whine”, and to new age bass fueled on songs like “M’$” and “Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye”, Rocky covers all aspects. I think he best displays how creative he can get while still keeping it G and delivering top notch bars on songs like “Canal St”, “Electric Body”, and “Max B”. This album, best when listened to start to finish, is a peak into the mind of a gangster turned artistic genius in A$AP Rocky, and if you choose to take a look, you will be delighted with what you find.

One of the Shore’s best young talents has provided us with some insight on his music! Meet $tandard, and see what he has to say about his orgins of music, his influences, what motivates him, and whats next to come for the spitter out of the Jersey Shore.

At what point did you find yourself interested in music? What was the “break out” or realization moment.

As long as I can remember, growing up I’ve been around Music. Between my dad who plays the guitar and my older brother who plays the drums it was impossible for me not to wanna learn how to do something so captivating. To me it always seemed like art. To create something so meaningful to yourself and at the same time effect the life’s of others gives a irreplaceable feeling. When I was younger I would always sing and hum melody’s but I knew I didn’t wanna actually sing. Even with all the rock n roll that was playin in my house, hip hop was something I was always in love with. Something about the way rappers  could tell such detailed story’s and make it seem so effortless amazed me. I never thought I wanted to try it myself though until I went to my first concert in 2012. It was my freshman year of highschool, I went to see asap rocky and Joey badass at the pnc art center. Me and the people I went with all got there early and we were sitting on the stage while Joey was preforming. Seeing them up there made me get a uncontrollable feeling of needing to be up there myself one day. That same night I wrote my first rap down in one my school note pads. Still one of my dreams is to preform at pnc.

Who are your top 3 influences and how do you see yourself in them?

Being someone who loves every last thing about hip hop you could imagine all the sub genres within that i listen to. It could be from the 90’s or present day, so much music influences me on a day to day basis. My number one influencer and my favorite artist of all time is 50 cent. Reciting every single word to all his albums straight through, skilled me in finding my rapping flow. He created body’s of work that are timeless and will always be appreciated through the generations, something I strive to be able to do one day. Another one of my top influencers would be young thug. Being a newer rapper it’s hard to be looked at as legendary but I think that’s exactly what he is. I think he personally opened doors for hip hop and made it universally okay to be yourself. He freestyles everything he does and he’s a big reason why I do the same thing myself. I always wondered what it would be like to be on that level. My last influencer but my backbone with everything I do musically would be my producer lord Baha. Me and him started out together and if I ever felt like giving up he’d be there to slap sense back into me. Not only him producing the music for the majority of my songs but being my closet friend helps everything run smooth as can be.

What keeps you motivated, what pushes you through the hard times as an independent artist. What advice would you give someone who’s just starting 

I always try to remain super confident with my approach to music. At the same time you have to be humble enough to accept criticism so you can learn. When times seem foggy I have great people around me working reminding me what it is we have to get done and what we’ve already accomplished. If you just starting out you need to be open to working with everyone and obtain as much as you can from them. LISTEN carefully to the people who know what they’re doing. Don’t focus on the bigger picture right now focus on what’s in front of you and how you can be the best in that situation. I think will smith said it best don’t worry about building a house, worry about laying down that first piece of brick so perfectly it couldn’t be done any better. Work your way up.

Rumor on the streets is that you’ve been talking to some management. Is Standard about to blow up in NJ? Any secret debut projects we should be looking out for? 

I have a lot of people helping me with the business sides of things. I’m currently not in contract with anyone for management but as my career progresses someone will fill the roll. I have a lot of people on my team right now shooting for the same goal as me so I know very soon you’ll be seeing a lot more of everything. Music, videos, interviews, etc.

Soon I’ll release a project on all platforms composed of my favorite songs I’ve released so far. Currently I’ve been releasing singles every week on my SoundCloud and plan to for many more to come.

What is music to you ?At what point would you feel you made it. 

It’s my number one priority, I feel like if i can do good in it then I can put everyone on. Even if it sounds clichè it feels like music gives my life purpose. Its a powerful thing, I was fortunate enough to realize at a early age. When I make it big I’ll know It’s real when everyone around is set up in a position to be successful. Than I’ll be pretty content with what music brought me. Getting signed to a major label one day is something i would like to do as well. The big shows, the big checks, i want all that.

You can catch $tandard Tuesday, May 22nd at Starland Ballroom with 21 Savage and Bloc Boy JB. 

Follow $tandard on Instagram and check out his music below:

 

By: Pat Walsh

At what point did you find yourself interested in music? What was the “break out” or realization moment.

” Music played a huge role in my life before I ever actually started making it myself. I’m not one of those artists that can say “I started writing songs when I was 4 years old” and yada yada. But, music had a huge impact on me as a kid. It was this magical and powerful outlet that had the ability to change my mood, my perspective, and attitude towards life in general almost instantaneously. Hip-hop in particular grabbed my heart from a young age and I it has been the soundtrack to my life ever since. As far as making music myself, that did not really start until I was 16 years old. In my sophomore year of high school I would get stoned and freestyle with my friends. One day someone was like “Yo you are actually pretty good you should try and write and record!” And that is where my love affair with making music myself began. I had a USB desktop microphone that I would record in my closet with into Garage Band.   Within a month or two I linked with Indy and soon after started recording with my engineer Marco at Shorefire Recording Studios. I just kept going and going and growing as an artist with Marco’s help. It has now been 6 years and I haven’t looked back since.”

Who are your top 3 influences and how do you see your self in them?

“I always find this question to be the most difficult to answer as an artist, for a few reasons. My musical influences change from week to week, and I honestly never can really tell which artists are influencing me and leaking into my sound. When I was young it was Lil Wayne, T.I., Jurassic 5, 50 Cent, and all the OG’s you always hear in typical answers. (I don’t feel the need to write the OBVIOUS Biggie and Pac, you should already know.) As I made my way into high school I was definitely getting more into the young stoner rap, listening to Wiz a lot and Mac Miller religiously. I was also diving deep into Kendrick and Cole and Big Krit as they grew. I will say the artists I listen to that kill my writer’s block and inspire me to write are Frank Ocean, Lil Peep, Future Islands, Tame Impala, BROCKHAMPTON, and a bunch of different artists that do not put themselves in any sort of box from a creative standpoint. Writing can start to feel repetitive if you don’t challenge yourself to explore new sounds and use your voice in different ways. Also thinking beyond the idea of labeling myself as a rapper/singer and detaching from the idea of genres in general helps me to remain creative and grow as a writer. That’s what keeps it fresh for me. I don’t know if I answered the question lol but take from it what you will.”

How does your connection to Sony benefit your career as an artist and in 5 years do you see your self independent or signed to a major? 

” I signed with an indie label called Black 17, who is distributed through Sony/The Orchard. It has been a huge benefit to my career in many ways. First and foremost, 5 years into my career finally having the cosign of a label with a dedicated team that shares my vision has been game changing and reassuring to say the least. Being that they work out of the Sony offices in Manhattan has been incredible, bumping shoulders with artists and managers and really getting a behind the scenes look into the game has taught me a lot. I pinch myself every time I leave a label meeting and it helps me be grateful for how far I’ve come. I can’t say whether 5 years from now I will be independent or signed to a major. I think that there is a lot of stigma attached to signing with a major and a little naivety when it comes to remaining independent. I think a lot of artists close themselves off from potential opportunities by being totally anti-label. If the deal sucks, don’t sign. Keep working, and grinding independently and growing as an artist! If the deal is good for both parties, find a lawyer to guide you through the bullshit paperwork so you don’t get fucked over and move forward with it. There are a million stories of major labels starving artists, and I am not ignorant of the downside major labels can have on a career. But there is also a lot of stress involved with doing things independently, and for someone like myself who only wants to think about the music, having a team is super beneficial.

At what point in your career would you feel you’ve made it ?

“It was always to pay the bills from music and not have to work a shitty job. I am getting closer to that becoming a reality every month, but honestly once I have that I made it. After that we can start dreaming of plaques, but one thing at a time.”

 What is your biggest motivation that keeps your pushing through the hard times as an artist. How do you overcome the struggle and keep the fire fueling? 

“When I’m going through a rough patch, losing faith in the grind and feeling uninterested in writing, I take a step away from it for a week or two and clear my mind. I just live life. I try not to think about music at all. Sometimes, being a hungry artist, you put every second of thought and energy into trying to get to that next level and you burn yourself out. I also detach from the results of what I am doing and try and get back into the place of why I started making music in the first place: For the love of it. It is my therapy. It is my place to go and express myself without judgment, from myself or others. It is my one true love. When I can remember that, and remember that as a career or not, I will be making music for the rest of my life, I can relax and breathe. So pour some coffee, roll up whatever you prefer, and get lost in the music.”

Spotify / Apple Music / SoundCloud : CØNSEPT

 

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Social Media : @conseptofficial

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