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Album Review: Tee Grizzley & Lil Durk Bloodas

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Rappers Tee Grizzley and Lil Durk just dropped another collab project to add to a stream of collaboration albums and mixtapes that have dropped this year. Going into this project I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, as I was familiar with a few of Tee Grizzley’s singles (primarily the song “First Day Out”) and was indifferent on them for the most part. I saw Grizzley as a rapper who had potential but was unsure if it would ever be reached. I had not heard anything by Lil Durk, as I hardly recognized his name.

When I began listening to this album I was instantly surprised. The beats hit hard and Grizzley brought a huge amount of energy to the tracks. The production was good as well. Nothing special as much of it fit the mainstream trap wave. The only beats I felt were a little flat were some of the later cuts on the project, primarily the song “Melody” which features some R&B influence and sounds very cliche in my opinion.

The lyrics on this album aren’t great, but they are serviceable. Neither Grizzley nor Durk said anything I recall being wack or corny. The hooks, lyrically, are catchy enough and serve their purpose well.

The main gripe I have with this album is Lil Durk. His voice is extremely annoying to me. He sounds like a cheap version of Nav (who is really a cheap version of the Weeknd/Quavo). His verses and hooks completely ruin this project for me. I found myself enjoying tracks until Lil Durk made his appearance, which would often turn me off from the entire song. If you enjoy, or can at least deal with, Lil Durk’s voice and inflection, you probably enjoyed this project much more than I did.

Coming away from this project I look forward to Tee Grizzley’s next solo venture as he seems to be progressing as a rapper. On this project, he brought more aggression than I had heard on his other material. His flow also improved, as he sounds a little off beat on some of his older stuff (an example would be “From the D to the A”with Lil Yatchy”). I will probably never listen to a solo Lil Durk project, as I feel that his music is just not for me.

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Album Review: Big Sean & Metro Boomin Double or Nothing

double-or-nothing

Detroit MC Big Sean and Atlanta based trap producer Metro Boomin recently dropped a surprise collab-album called Double or Nothing. This is Sean’s second release of the year following his recent album release I Decided that dropped in early 2017. Metro has stayed busy as well dropping his recent well-received collab-tape with Offset and 21 Savage titled Without Warning.

I thought I Decided was a decent album, with strong songs here and there but it didn’t come together well for me, which seems to be a constant issue for Sean. Although I didn’t love I Decided, I did enjoy Sean’s single he dropped prior to the album “Living Single,” which features Jeremih and Chance the Rapper. I’m also a big proponent of Big Sean’s mixtape Detroit which dropped back in 2012.

 

I’m a pretty big fan of Metro Boomin and I find him to be one of the more skilled and unique trap producers in the game. I really enjoyed his work on the Without Warning tape and tend to enjoy most of his beats.

Metro is by far the star of Double or Nothing. Sean, while his flow is great, his lyrics are consistently corny and at times even cringe-worthy. Like in the track “Big Bidness” when he makes a reference to fidget spinners saying, “Yeah, what goes around comes around, faster than fidgets.” Or on the intro track “Go Legend” when he raps “In my castle like Mario, I gave this s*** my heart and soul.”

I enjoyed most of the beats on this album, especially on “Pull Up N Wreck” and “Savage Time.” “Pull Up N Wreck” features these deep and dark choir vocals. The hook is catchy as well and Sean does well on the track. I also enjoyed 21 Savage’s verse on the song. I also really liked the beat for “In Tune.” The Lori Perri sample on this track is dope and I liked to see Metro change it up and use samples more often than normal on this project.

There are a few beats I wasn’t a fan of. For instance, the horns sampled on the track “Reason” sound goofy. Swae Lee, who is featured on the track, also sounds out of place. Most of the features on this album, outside of 21 Savage, were pretty run-of-the-mill and didn’t offer anything special to me.

Metro Bommin channels DJ Mustard on the track “So Good.” The beat, which is a little too drum and bass heavy and lacks a strong melody, is a nice change of pace. But the song itself is not very enjoyable, at least for me personally. I’m not sure if it’s the content or Big Sean’s lyrics, but something about the song just totally turns me off.

While I liked the piano melody sampled on “No Hearts, No Love,” I wasn’t a big fan of the baseline. The track “Even the Odds” has a nice beat but I felt the track would’ve benefited if the tempo was a bit faster to fit the feel of the song.

Overall, I was pretty mixed on this album. I was indifferent on most of the songs while I enjoyed others. The project really suffers from Sean’s lyrics and the lack of compelling features. Add the fact that a few of beats weren’t all the way there and you have a pretty average mainstream rap album in 2017.

The hype online for this project may have affected my judgment a bit as I was hoping to see Sean finally get his writing together and was expecting a bit more from Metro Boomin as well.

Guilt is the Enemy of Growth

guilt

 

When we make a mistake we like to make ourselves feel guilty. There’s some kind of paradoxical pleasure that we get when we pity ourselves. It’s as if we are satisfied by putting ourselves down because we think we are getting what we deserve.

For me, this often happens after I binge on junk food or catch myself spending too much time on social media. I sit there and feel guilty telling myself that I messed up. I repeat negative thoughts in my head and get lost in the feeling of immense disappointment. I know in my mind that this type of thinking isn’t helpful and that it only makes things worse, yet I do it almost every time that I make a mistake.

This type of thinking is obviously detrimental. Not only does guilt make us feel bad, it is also a waste of time and leads to apathy. Guilt is a terrible motivator. It does not lead to change, almost ever.

In order to change this mindset we need to convince ourselves of a few things:

A. Our performance does not determine our value

In our culture, we like to correlate the value of a person with their performance at certain tasks. This makes sense in an economic sense. You are only “worth” the money you help generate for your company or for the economy. When it comes to our personal lives, however, this type of thinking is very destructive.

Our value as a human being is intrinsic. Our dignity as people cannot be taken away by anyone, even ourselves. Even if we mess up, we are still valuable because we are still human. As human beings, we matter not because of what we do but because of who we are.

B. Your thoughts lie

We often get trapped in negative thought patterns. We are not always in full control of our thoughts and our mind can sometimes torture us. One way to avoid these patterns is to realize that your mind is not always right.

Your mind lies to you. It tells you things that are logically false. It is important that you become aware of when this is happening and that you do not believe the lies your mind tells you.

You do not need to fight these thoughts, rather you need to accept that your flow of thoughts is going in a certain direction. You should accept that you are thinking these thoughts but you should not believe these thoughts.

C. You are worthy of compassion

Most of us are nice people. We care about others and wish the best for them. But why don’t we extend this same compassion to ourselves?

You are I are just as worthy of compassion and forgiveness as anyone else we come in contact with. We should strive to treat ourselves the same way we treat our best friends and our favorite family members. We should be gentle with ourselves and have patience with ourselves even when we continue to make the same mistakes.

D. We are all flawed

Every single person you know has made mistakes. Think of the person you look up to the most. Even they have made embarrassing mistakes or struggled with bad habits.

When we make a mistake ourselves, it is important that we remember that others do the same. When we look at someone we are only seeing their success but behind their success sits a constant struggle with failure and a slow growing discipline.


With these things in mind, we can slowly shift our perspective of our mistakes. Yes, we mess up, but feeling overwhelming guilt will not change the situation. We must strive to learn from our failures rather than letting them pull us down further.

Not Knowing is Okay.

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“Brilliance in a scientist does not consist in being right more often but in being wrong about more interesting topics.”

We love to be right. And we all think we’re right, all the time. You can see this in Facebook comments and endless Twitter debates. People on the Internet will argue for days about politics, religion, or anything and everything else.

These online conversations seem to expose something about the human condition: we don’t like to be wrong. Someone telling us we are wrong about something is taken as a personal attack rather than just part of a conversation. 

There are plenty of reasons why we love to be right. It makes us feel good. It makes us feel like we’ve won or like we’re better than someone else intellectually.

Being right feeds our ego. And our ego never has an empty stomach so we just keep feeding it.

Being wrong, on the other hand, can make us feel insecure. Uncertainty is scary. Not knowing can make us feel lost or confused.

But what if being right isn’t all that? What if being wrong sometimes is okay? What if being wrong is actually a good thing?

Let’s do our best to look at being right from an objective standpoint. Let’s say you’re in a meeting and you’re discussing your company’s plans for a new hotel. You have the idea to build the hotel on a certain street, but one of your colleagues argues that that particular area of the city is not in high demand for a new hotel. You continue to go back and forth about the matter until you all come to an agreement.

What really matters in this situation? Does it matter whose idea is the right one? No, it matters which location would most benefit the company.

Point being: it’s okay to be wrong or to not know. It’s okay to submit and say “yeah, maybe you can do it better”or “you’re right your idea might be more effective.”

Being right is not important. Having the answer it not important. Doing the thing that is right (whether a moral decision or a practical one) is the most important thing.

Yes, being right feels good, but objectively it just doesn’t matter in most situations. Your goal should not be to be right, rather it should be to find out the best way to do a task and use those means in doing so.

Growing up going to Christian school I was taught to believe certain things. I was not to question these beliefs or ask questions, I was to simply believe. I was taught to have faith. During chapel services the pastor would often ask “if you died today do you know for sure that’s you’d go to heaven?”

While I tried to convince myself that my answer to his question was yes, I always had this thought process going on. How am I supposed to know for sure? Is God supposed to reveal it to me or appear in a dream or a bush on fire or something? 

As I was thinking about this I’d look around the room, wondering if anyone else felt the same way. While I never had the guts to ask, my assumption is that many of the kids in the room felt the exact same way, they, like myself, we’re just scared to admit it. They, like me, felt uncertain, yet we all acted like we knew our soul’s destination.

We all fear the unknown. We love to pretend like we have the answers. Having the answers is comfy and makes us feel good. Doubt feels nasty and annoying. But what if not knowing for sure was okay too? What if asking questions and not having answers was just another part of life?

This applies to all areas of the human experience, not just religious belief. Doubt is a virtue. Not knowing is powerful. If we never have doubts or ask questions, we will never learn or grow. Change begins with doubt. Change begins when we ask if there’s a better way to do something. If we never doubt, or never think we are wrong about something, we will never improve.

If we want to be successful at anything, we must be a student first. A student does not go into a class already knowing the material, a student goes into a class with humility knowing that the teacher is superior to them in the subject matter. For us to improve in life we must admit that we are not gods, there are things we must take the time to learn. There are things we don’t know or understand. When we learn to think in this way, to walk in humility and curious doubt, we can then begin to change and become the best versions of ourselves.

Stop Trying to be Remembered

“The biggest challenge after success is shutting up about it.”
Criss Jami

We all want to be somebody. We all want the cool job title. When someone asks us what we do for a career we want to say: I’m a writer, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m the head of a Fortune 500 Company, I’m [fill in the blank].

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be somebody, but when wanting to be somebody i.e. (wanting recognition and praise) becomes more important than the actual work we do, there is a terrible problem. When our personal reputation is more important to us than our work itself, our work will suffer.

If we let out reputation take a front seat, everything we do will become a sort of image control. We’ll stop caring so much about how our work impacts others or makes the world better, and start to only care about the way it makes us look.

So many of us want the attention, the recognition, or the fame but we care little about the work itself. We just want to feel important but we don’t really want our work to be important.

We all have a choice. We can choose to chase fame, wanting to be noticed and given attention, or we can choose to be influential, where the things we do, whether we get acknowledgment for them or not, actually make an impact on society.

This choice does not only apply to those who are in the public light. It is not only for politicians and professional musicians. It applies to all of us. No matter how public our life is or how important our work is, we all have the same choice to make.

Fame or influence

Being or doing

Recognition or impact

When I was young I attended church fairly often. There we many occasions when the pastor would ask the question “what do you want to be remembered for?” At the time I thought it was a good question. But now I’m having second thoughts.

The intention behind the question is good. It is meant to make you reconsider the way you are living in light of how people will remember you when you are dead and gone. But what if we could as the same type of question, but in a better more useful way?

How about… what kind of influence do you want to have in your life?

This question may seem the same on the surface but it is really quite different. The question the pastor asked was very self-centered, what do you want people to remember you for? It is essentially a question about reputation.

My question, on the other hand, is a question based on action and accomplishment. What kind of influence do you want to have? How will your actions impact your community?

It doesn’t matter what people remember you for, you’re going to be dead anyways. What matters is doing something that changes people. Doing something that will make the world better, even if it’s something that seems small and insignificant.

This desire to be influential should not be driven by ego either. You shouldn’t want to do things that have a positive influence because it will make you seem important, you should do so because the work is important.

Are you willing to risk your reputation for the sake of your work? Are you willing to stop chasing fame so that you can be truly influential?

If so, let’s keep the conversation going in the comments!

Little Things are Big Things

It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important. 

~ Arthur Conan DoyleThe Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes, #4)

When we talk about being successful we like to talk about our big goals and our dreams. Things like publishing a book, getting that promotion or making a certain amount of money. This type of thinking is not bad in and of itself, but it often makes us feel like the small things we do are worthless.

This is simply not true.

The little things are equally, if not more, important than the big things.

If we do not do the little things correctly our whole project will likely fall apart. For example, if you’re writing a book, taking time to edit every chapter may seem like a chore. It may even feel like a waste of time. It’s not really helping you make money and it might even be pushing back your release date.

In the long run, however, having a well-edited book will help you be more successful. If your book is full of errors, you will lose trust with you readers and they will likely not purchase the next book that you write. As an author, the trust of your readers is one of your greatest assets, if you lose their trust it will be hard to get it back.

The little things, like editing a book, are often boring and tiresome. They can even seem pointless. But in the end game, they may be the difference between your project being a success or a failure.

Let’s look at another example.

I’m an avid fan of hip hop music. I even occasionally make beats on my laptop.

If you were to sit down and talk to any popular music producer like Mike Dean or Noah “40” Shebib, they would likely stress how important the little things are when producing music. Music producers take great pride in their craft and pay great attention to the littlest of details.

If you only listen to music on iPhone headphones you may not have experienced this as much as the rest of us. Try listening to music on a good pair of studio headphones. There’s so much more to a musical piece than what you might be hearing.

Producers spend so much time perfecting every bass line and making sure the timing of every snare is on point. We should do the same for our respective crafts.

Everything you do that has to do with your craft should be taken seriously. You should never look at part of a project as just some simple or menial task. Every little thing is important. The little things are the big things.

Do not allow yourself to fall into the trap of carelessness. Do not get to the point where you are treating your work like a chore. Everything you do is important to your success.

Strive for excellence in all things that you do even some aspects seem pointless. Take your work seriously, even the parts of it that annoy you or stress you out. Care about your craft, care about every detail.

Do your best work, even if you’re not making an abundance of money or getting notoriety. Have the humility and awareness to treat your work as more important than your reputation. Do the things that will go unnoticed with the same care as the things you do on stage. Only then will your work flourish.

Care about the little things. Care about the nuisances. Care about details.

Because, in the end, little things are big things.

The Path Towards Authenticity and Finding my Artistic Voice

For the bulk of my blogging “career” I’ve found myself writing the type of articles I think other people want to read. I’ve been writing the sorts of blog posts that seem to get good amounts of traffic.

I have stolen (in an artistic sense) from other articles and writers that I respect or emulate. That is part of the writing process, gathering information and using the work of others to inspire yours. But I am at a point where I want to do this less. Now I want to find my own voice.

I’ve found myself trying so hard to be like other self-improvement writers. I just wanted to “make it.” Desiring to get a certain amount of views on my website or get a certain amount of shares on social media. Now I’ve realized that “making it” is pointless if you do so in an inauthentic way.

Allow me to explain myself.

I consider writing, even of the non-fiction genre, to be an art. Just as much of an art as painting, sculpting, or poetry.

Art is best done in an authentic and free flowing way, as an extension of the artist. Art is at its worst when it is mended based on market value or the attention-seeking of the artist.

Much of my writing in the last year or so has, in my current opinion, been driven by ego and/or insecurity.

I wanted to see my name on websites. 

I wanted to get click bait shares on social media.

I wanted to feel and look successful.

My writing was coming from this place of ego and validation-seeking, rather than a place of honest creativity and advice-giving.

This is probably a result of my maturity when it comes to blogging. I am still very new to the craft and have not yet found my artistic voice. I don’t really know who I am as a writer.

Despite this fact, the direction of this blog is going to change. I will be spending more time really finding topics that are more engaging and helpful. I’m going to put in the time and effort necessary to create a good product.

I ,in no way, regret anything I have written over the last few months, I do, however, feel like I’m in a new place as a person. I no longer think that an article about “5 Apps for College Students” is really helpful or needed on the internet anymore. If you want to find articles about helpful apps, just Google it, don’t waste your time on this site.

I’m no longer going to force content onto this blog. I probably won’t be posting every week anymore. I’ll only be posting when I write something I think is actually constructive.

If I’m honest, I’m not sure if I’m even qualified to give any of the advice I give. I still live with my parents, I don’t have a job, I’m in college (but my parents are paying for it), and I’m by no standard successful.

At the same time, I’ve experienced things most people my age have not. I’ve been to eight countries, I’ve read a good amount of books about a wide range of subjects, and I’ve experienced and worked through depression and anxiety for the bulk of my young life.

I’m not a self-help guru, a millionaire, or even a college graduate, I’m just some kid trying to find his way through life. Trying to find himself in a world that never fails to be baffling, for both good and bad reasons.

So, my dear reader, how is this article helpful to you at all?

Well, maybe it isn’t. Or maybe it is. I’m not going to let my insecurity about whether or not you like what I write to control me.

Maybe it would be helpful to ask yourself, as I have, am I being authentic in what I create? Am I doing what I do (blogging, business, school, etc.) because I want to or because I’m seeking some sort of validation?

Let’s, for a moment,  shift this conversation about authenticity out of the blogging world and into something more relatable.

I’ve been going to the gym off and on for about a year. When I do go, it’s often because I feel social pressure.

All my friends go to the gym.  

If I go I’ll be considered cool.

If someone asks if I work out, I can actually say yes. That should earn me some points, right?

If I decided that I wanted to go to the gym because I actually wanted to get in shape because I care about my health I’d probably go more consistently.

Point being: anything done for the sake of validation or attention is often done badly or falls apart when you fail to feel validated or receive attention from doing said thing.

Validation is vain. It is only when you begin to get it that you realize how empty it is.

People might like what you’re doing, people might praise you for what you’ve done, but if your heart and soul are not into what you’re doing you won’t feel good about it, at least not for a very long.

Validation works at first. Your ego grows and you begin to feel good about yourself. But eventually, you will realize that the good words of others don’t mean as much as you thought they did. You will come to a place where your conscious will tear apart everything that you do.

When you’re living in a non-authentic way, you often know it but you seldom admit it.

Admittance is the first step, and probably the hardest one. It hurts to admit your faultiness. To admit that you might not be doing things for the right reasons.

If you’re still struggling with this idea that authenticity might not be for you, let’s look at a few more examples.

When someone who is gay and decides to come out of the closet, they say that they feel free. They feel free because they can be who they are. They don’t have to hide or wear a mask anymore.

The same is to be said about people who come out about their mental illness. I have social anxiety. Although I haven’t explained it to my parents, I have had conversations about it with a friend and written about it on the Internet.

The more I’m open about my internal struggle with anxiety and depression, the more liberated I feel.

The more open and authentic we are, the easier it is for us to grow. Authenticity brings progress, in business and in relationships.

In recent memory, businesses have begun to become more transparent and public about their finances and business interactions in general.

Why?

Generally, it is because it makes companies more trustworthy. Customers can actually see where their money is going and what it is being used for.

Transparency always allows for a great level of trust. This is why I have written this blog post, I want to give my readers more trust towards me. I want to show them that I am doing what I think is right and that I will continue to write this way.

Maybe this blog post isn’t helpful to you. Maybe what I’m saying doesn’t really make any sense. And I’m totally okay with that.

My goal is to write well and write righteously. By that, I mean that I wish to write in a way that is both well formulated and with a backbone. Writing that comes from both my mind of mind’s and my soul of soul’s.

I’m on a mission to find my authentic voice. I am not there yet, and that’s fine. I don’t know what kind of writer I want to be, and I’m okay with that, and I hope you are too.

My hope is that this article was helpful to you. If it was, please keep the discussion going in the comments.

Thanks for reading.