How To Write A Music Review:

As I’m sure is pretty apparent to most of you already, music is probably the most important thing in my life. No, I can’t actually make music – but I sure can consume it.

Over on my original website, Redleafgoldteeth, we’ve been covering everything you need know about music for a little over 2 years now (with over 220,000 views as a co-sign), so fittingly the news of a new Kendrick Lamar album had us rolling with excitement. Now, even though I’ve never been a huge fan of Kendrick personally, something about the singles stood out to me and I got really excited for the release date to arrive – thankfully the wait was relatively short. And when it finally got here, I was not let down one bit.

I won’t say too much about it here, but check out some excerpts from my comprehensive first-listen (oxymoron?) review of DAMN. below, where I tell you exactly what I liked, my favourite songs, the missteps, and even attempt to unpack a few references.


Here is how to write a music review:

You can see it in his eyes.

Kendrick Lamar is tired. He’s tired of being “humble” – he’s tired of being the good guy. The 29-year-old Compton wordsmith is tired of America – and all of the bullsh*t that comes with it. Being that dude is exhausting, whether that means being that dude that raps good, or that dude from the hood. On DAMN., Kendrick Lamar let’s this be known.

The intro story, “BLOOD.”, is great. A strong duality is exampled, and I’m not sure if triality is a real word, but if it is, this is definitely an example of it even more so. Lamar, in the same weary tone, weaves together a tale of wickedness v. weakness, and the hypocritical, withered, pointing finger of the USA.

“DNA” is possibly the hardest track on the project, with a heavy Mike Will instrumental. To be Kendrick, or Drake, or Kanye, sifting through filing cabinets of the coldest beats ever created must be an amazing feeling. The production quality of the project alone is enough to start it off at a 6/10 without having to vocalize a single lyric. “Imma make it look sexy” Lamar then exclaims on “ELEMENT.”, another standout cut/ Instagrammable caption generator…

CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL REVIEW!

How to Watch The Sunset

There are few natural feats in life that deliver as much sheer beauty as a sunset.

You might have or favourite spot, or maybe you’re a chaser wherever you are. Maybe you like to go by yourself, or maybe you have a special sunset buddy. Regardless, there is something special about that transition from golden hour to moonlit dusk.

But what is the best way to perfectly indulge in the sunset? Just follow these pointers.

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Here is How To Watch The Sunset:

“Bondi Sunset” – “5:38”, google replies. 5:14, you take flight off the main doorstep.

I don’t know why, but you’ll ALWAYS be late, so plan ahead. Try to time it so that you arrive at your spot at least 15-20 minutes before the sun is scheduled to start setting. And remember, even if you’re early, you’re still late. So don’t worry too much.

Tucked in the hills of North, Bondi in Sydney, Australia, a magical spot presides. It’s not the most secluded, or the least known, but it’s perfect. It’s a mere meetup for the non-existent sun-setters club, and you’ve just gained membership. You have only a handful of minutes until it’s time, and the bus is pulling up as close as it’ll go, each stop beforehand playing Jenga with your angst. At this point, with your nose pressed against the window, the billowy clouds over the bay will start to seem closer than science should allow. You’ll hop off the bus as cumulus destiny seems to summon you. You’ll want to stop and set up camp right then and there, but you haven’t quite made it to your spot yet – snap out of it. You will start the playlist.

 – – – – –

“Clouds Never Get Old”; Bas harkens the sky with a bouncy ode as you stroll to your spot, gazing up at the sky as if it was your first time seeing it. “Palm Trees” will play as you settle in. Relaxed and taking in the beauty, you’ll seek out the perfect vantage point. A few minutes will pass, and as the sun struggles to peek out over the skyline the cotton candy clouds will 2-step as Frank Ocean’s intro begins. “Pink+White” takes over your soul – green, your body.  Hearing Frank naturally makes you want to hear more Frank.

The beginning of the 2nd half of “Nights” marks the end of another day to most, or the beginning of another for a creative, as you peer out and finally seem to understand the color navy. (Not an ocean blue, but it’s not quite purple either. It’s underneath the clouds, yet never eclipses the horizon. As sure as you’ve ever been of anything).

Sampha’s hymns a background for your truest admirations. You’ll embrace the beauty of the sky, the day, maybe the person you are with (I’m not too sure), and finally exactly where you are at this very moment in life, and realize that even if you never think of this moment ever again, you’ll never forget it. “4422”. The actualizations set in and the energy of your surroundings and everything in reach resurface as the harsh vibrations of “Foreign Fields”. Maybe it’s the lack of sun, but you have chills.

Quiñ’s voice haunts you, and you free-fall back to earth with cinder blocks of emotion bound to your ankles. Gerald gives you something(/someone) relatable(/regrettable) to think about, and you feel it. (I’m not sure what that something is, it’s ineffable, but you’ll know it when you feel it). The quintessential nighttime song, nothing else man-made has ever made you feel that way.

 – – – – –

The sunset is now over and so is the playlist, and you’ve already started trying to re-materialize the fading ink. One by one the stars start to appear, and you start to attempt to rationalize the last 28 minutes.

You can’t because there isn’t anything to rationalize. It was just another perfect sunset.


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This was the sunset tonight. I really wasn’t lying. It’s really hard to write about, or even remember these type of evenings after the fact.

I wrote this piece by hand during an early April sunset in Bondi, my first after another bout with a creative block. All together I spent about a month piecing together the ideas for this, starting venturing to a bunch of ideal spots, experimenting with the right songs for the playlist, and finally getting out and testing it out for myself. The block coming via an abundance of overwhelming news, I think this is exactly the piece I was hoping for, and needed.

Again, the listenable playlist is here, in case you missed it (I would’ve embedded it, but 8tracks’ WordPress add-on looks horrendous, and Frank isn’t on Soundcloud). Try it out at your next sunset, and let me know if it works for you too.

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Lord knows I haven’t seen the sunrise is almost 3 years, but I don’t think there is anything I love more than a good sunset. Maybe that is just the night-person in me.

a how-to,

by hospey.

follow my adventures on the gram @hxspey, or on twitter @hospey

Throwaways: Byron Bay

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Byron Bay was the quintessential beach town vacation spot. As a newly formed clique, we swiftly made the transition from 2 European’s & a couple of Canadian FOB’s to a set of slightly less functional, fully less productive hippies. Nearly every meal was consumed on a curb in front the establishment that we overpaid for it at, and footwear was always optional. The beach was less of a pit-stop and more of an assumed starting point. We were all ‘locals’ for the week.

Starting off as a trek to what I figured would be just another beach town that was well over-hyped (it seemed to be on everybody’s recommendation list) soon turned into an iconicized adventure straight out of an old movie, with an equally iconic strip of 35mm to accompany it. My first time shooting in black & white was admittedly nerve-racking considering disposable cameras don’t always give you much to work with, and without a sample to play off of I was merely an amateur with a white cane.

Although some of my l8 night shots came out completely black, I’m pretty happy with what I ended up with and I definitely ended up with more usable shots than my first roll (+ my new favourite shot of all time – guess which one hint: it involves a confectionary smile). I think I’m going to play around with black & white some more.

Next time someone oversells Byron Bay (or a black & white disposable camera) to you… just take their word for it.

-Hospey.

follow my adventures on the gram @hxspey, or on twitter @hospey

Interlude: I’m Thinking About Horses

 

I’m not much of a poet, and I don’t know my 5-7-5’s from my 5-7-5-7-7’s. I’ve got friends that write poems, and I’ve been interested in the craft for a while, but I’ve never pursued any deeper interest in it. Mike Posner of all people (yes, the “Cooler Than Me” guy), might’ve just changed that for me.

I’ve been spending a lot of time by myself which has its shortcomings, but also its benefits – one of which is getting a lot more time to listen to new music or projects that I’ve been meaning to check out. Although it was less of a wait this time around, I finally got around to listening to the edgy self-titled debut from Mansionz (composed of veteran underground all-stars Mike Posner & Blackbear). Besides the fact that I’m a closeted Blackbear stan and that they tapped Dennis Rodman for a feature verse, the production quality alone between the pair made this a probable project to enjoy.

I listened to a few singles beforehand but after hearing nothing that really excited me, it was put it on the back-burner with Drake & Goldlink dropping projects in the same time frame. It wasn’t until I decided to embark on an 18K walk to catch up on music that the blaring background music from the Batman bad-guy lookalikes started to make an impact.

Sonically, Mansionz is near perfection. The aforementioned production & pairing abilities of both men are unparalleled – they blend the beginning and end of each track to create the feeling of one continuous flow and the execution is flawless. A bevy of two-parters become whole; incognito bump bops two-step with passionate cries of teenaged frustration… even though both men are in their late 20’s. Even the cringeworthy lyrics seem intentional. The seemingly dull singles that turned me away originally now fit like sharp pieces into a little emo puzzle.

Starting with “I’m Thinking About Horses”, the climax of the project is properly placed in the center of the album with a quartet of #sadboi songs that complete the aesthetic. Familiar collaborator G-Eazy even checks in for a surprisingly decent verse to finish it off.

The talents of each artist are showcased and highlighted in a few different parts throughout, though Posner’s solo spoken-word is absolutely on another level. His locution seems perfect, both in realistic relatability and harsh semantics:

I’m thinking about God. I’m thinking about sex
I’ve been holy all day and acted in ways that deserve adjectives like “honorable,” “good,” and “straight”.
But it’s after 10PM now and I’m bored
I watched a movie on the internet alone and now it’s over
I pick up my phone and text every female I know within a 15 mile radius.
It’s a terrible thing that deserves adjectives like “chauvinistic,” “objectifying,” and “asshole-ish” .
I made that up just for myself

Posner thinks about god, sex, his dad, death, and of course, horses. He wonders how such powerful, majestic creatures allow humans to objectify them for a meal ticket; he wonders why we do the same.

Without getting too much deeper, I suggest you check out the poem (above) a couple of times for yourself and try to make sense of it. As a noted before, I don’t know much about this stuff either, but something about it just seems perfect at the moment. To be honest, the dude makes me want to start toying around poetry.

Check out Mike Posner’s recently released book of poetry, teardrops & balloons, here.


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Interlude: I’m Thinking About Horses

As noted I’ve been spending a lot more time on this trip by myself, just thinking about my next moves. Perhaps it’s better this way; my constraints stay limited, and my efforts are now focused planning out my next act of spontaneity (that’s an oxymoron, right?). Anyways, the playlist is probably a little different this time around, as my tastes usually mirror my circumstances in the moment.

I’ve included 2 tracks off of Mansionz (look up any of the previewed songs on YouTube), a creepily cool track from Lil Uzi Vert (something about the double entendre in the ‘all my friends are dead’ hook is so damn dope to me), another Bas feature, the soulful Sampha cut off of More Life, and some new Jarreau Vandal to finish it off.

So, ya. Enjoy. Go think about some horses, or something. (This sh*t kind of feels like a book club – listen to my playlist and we’ll discuss next week, haha.)

Postscript:  Another benefit of alone time? I’ve been writing A LOT more. I’ve even challenged myself to write every day, in fact. What good is a writer that doesn’t write? A good man one told me “perfect practice makes perfect”, so I figure that still applies. Not everything will be suited for here or RLGT, but I promise I’m working on some new stuff for y’all. (All 4 of you).

A new how-to & a new edition of Throwaways coming at y’all soon.

HHT Interlude: Vol 2

Throwaways: Brisbane

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Throwaways is something that I have been conceptualizing for a very long time. The premise is quite simple: go to a cool place. take photos in said place with a disposable camera. post the photos, here – untouched& unaltered (untitled & unmastered as well, word to Kendrick Lamar). Something about a disposable film picture just has that perfectly timeless appeal to it.

Basically, I saw my good friend (and AMAZING photographer) Thomas Kempster do something similar with his website a few years ago in Hong Kong, and as someone with very minimal photography experience, I figured this watered down version of the project would be ideal for my travels. Besides the fact that I don’t know the first thing about a camera, and that I am more than broke, the real reason for this series was that I thought ‘throwaways’ was such an amazing pun for photos taken on a ‘disposable’ that I had to do it.


Brisbane was quite an experience to say the least. It was our first Australian city, but we were blessed with not only having Madi as a recognizable face & tour-guide right off of the plane, but we also stayed in an amazing (/air conditioned… basically the only criteria for ‘amazing’) hostel, made our first few friends and acquaintances in fellow travelers, and had our first few good times.

Beers, friends, and dance battles quickly became the theme of the tour. I wouldn’t change a second of it. (Oh, and I even got my the 2nd sunburn of my entire life! Wouldn’t change that, either.)

-Hospey.

follow my adventures on the gram @hxspey, or on twitter @hospey

How To Live Comfortably While Travelling:

Perhaps the scariest thing about backpacking, or even moving to a new country is wondering how you will be able to maintain your regular, everyday lifestyle. To avoid shock in a new country, just follow these tips.

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Here is How To Live Comfortably While Travelling:

As with everything in life, preparation is key. Do some research, give yourself a head start. No matter what you read, you probably know best so you’ll ignore all hints and bring the necessities of home. For me, this meant clothing. Lots of clothing. Oh, and shoes. (“So, I’m heading to Australia in the middle of summertime? Yea, better bring 5 different jackets. And 5 pairs of Vans. Just in case they don’t sell these super necessary things down there”).

Packing is key. No one wants to be under-packed, so over-pack instead. People can live off 60L bags for months? Nah, you’re no peasant. Bring 2 suitcases worth of stuff, after-all you’re no back-packer­, you’re a ‘traveler’.

It’ll be alright for the first few weeks, a little bit of discomfort is expected… right? Ubering everywhere (like my name was Madeintyo) because the amount of luggage you will have is more than a little difficult to get from hostel to hostel with. Whatever, finding a house is the next step anyways; THEN you will be glad I have all of this stuff.

Turns out, it’s not that easy to find a place in a market that you have no idea about. It’ll take a few attempts. You’ll buzz an older couple on the 7th floor for a showing. They’re nice. Weird, but nice(ish). The gentleman would offer you a beer if he wasn’t on his last one already. The compromise seems strained, but in the end it doesn’t work out anyways.

Back to the hostel.

The rooms are crammed, the bathroom is dirty, and for some reason the simple task of making friends is more and more difficult with each move. It’s kind of like that one time your family moved cross country and you had to make all new friends in the 5th grade… except you’re 20-something and you’re just moving down the street or to a new room, but there’s no playground this time – only booze.

You’ll finally luck out on a house – It’s a little out of your price range, you’ll be sharing with 10 other people that you haven’t met yet, and you pray that your roommate isn’t too strange; he’s cool and everyone is nice, but for some reason you feel like it’s taking some time to fit in. You’re alone most of the day, and you’re fine with that because….


You know what? Fuck this article. This is NOT why I started doing this.

I started writing this piece last week while I was feeling down on my luck. I’d been in the county for exactly 1 month, with what seemed like very little to show for it. I was sleeping on a bed without sheets, without a job nor enough money to pay for the 2nd week in my new house, all in a city where I knew virtually no one. The honeymooner-vacation phase was over and real life was crashing down on me. Hard.

To be honest, I can’t recall how upset I actually was or if I just felt like some sob-story views would make me feel better. But what I can say with certainty is that I made this website to share my stories and experiences, and always keep it 100% real. I did that, and at the time, I couldn’t even finish this post. That was my reality – and most likely will be the reality for every traveler at some point. Travelling isn’t always what Instagram makes it to be; There isn’t always cold drinks and beautiful people at hand, and the sun definitely isn’t always shining. You’re in a new place for a reason: TO LEARN. Though learning often means absorbing something from every great encounter that you have, sometimes it also means understanding what can be taught from the hardest times in your life as well.

Today, my reality is nothing like it was at this very same time last week, so in an effort to keep these stories of my adventures 100% real (okay, I might have to embellish sometimes… but what kind of storyteller would I be if I didn’t?) I cannot finish that post the way it was going. What I can do is tell you about some of my more recent experiences, and finish explaining ‘how to be comfortable while travelling’ – it all comes back to the same point I was trying to make, anyways.

I may get into more details a little later (most likely later this week on my other website, RLGTcanada.com), but so far this week I have: Got a well-paying job, had some amazing conversations with my roommates from around the world, caught up with some old friends & made 1 or 2 new ones, went to my first concert in Australia, got to meet an artist I’ve been listening too since I was 19, redesigned this website, and done the most writing that I’ve done in months. I’m not sure if it was the natural energy of being back in a music environment, or the paycheck (it really is amazing how $400 dollars can make you feel like a king) – but whatever it is, my creative side hasn’t been this invigorated since I started RLGT 2 years ago.

I feel full of energy, confident, and interested – but not comfortable.

But maybe that’s the beauty of this whole thing. Going back to the Bas article that I published a few days ago, this lifestyle will always be one big lesson in culture. It’s not about being comfortable or feeling like I’m at home. It’s about being attentive & adaptive to the world around you… and possibly seeing some cool shit every now and again. Travelling is fun, but it’s not easy. And part of me thinks that is the way is supposed to me.

-A how-to, by Hospey.

follow my adventures on the gram @hxspey, or on twitter @hospey

Interlude: FIENDS In Tokyo

Music has always been my saving grace. No matter what I’ve been doing, where I’ve been, how I’ve been feeling, or what I’ve been creating, music has always been the one thing that can pluck me out of my feelings and drop me anywhere I need to be. 

Aside from my How-To’s, I will be launching another 2 (for now) re-occurring segments on this website; 1 which I will launch a little later, and 1 called Interlude. The Interlude will serve as random intermissions in my regularly scheduled postings to talk a bit about music in some form, and how it is affecting me on my travels. This might be some tunes that I’ve been listening to a lot (compiled into a playlist for y’all), or some insights from some of my favorite artists, or something else completely. We’ll keep working at it.

Welcome to The Interlude.


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Interlude: FIENDS In Tokyo

One of my favourite artists, who made one of my favourite albums of last year recently made the journey to Japan to film a few new music videos (and hopefully work on some new music as well – I can only assume the constant cultural saturation of a place like Japan must to wonders for the creative process). That artist, Bas, joined by his FIENDS crew, teamed up with videographer Scott Lazer to create the new mini-documentary “FIENDS in Tokyo”.

Serving as another look into the mind of the late-blooming 29 year old Queens-based rapper (he only started rhyming 5-6 years ago), the doc follows Bas, Cozz, and co. while they explore the city, speaking on the culture, the love they receive, and the importance of travel – with a few quirky moments along the way. All in all, it’s an easy 9-minute watch with some stunning visuals.

For me, what really got caught my attention was a certain voice of at the end by the aforementioned Dreamville artist Cozz on the significance of travel. He says:

I know I’ve been fed a lot of lies about the world growing up, and every time I travel I get to see for myself… what it’s really about, and what there is to learn about other people and other cultures, and what there is to respect about ’em and try to incorporate to your own. And at the end of the day, travel is the best form of education because you can get to the real.

In Mass Appeal’s premiere for the doc, they say down with Bas and he continued on the notion:

I think we have to just get out of the bubble. All these bubbles that keep people apart are really just built off of misinformation and propaganda, and all types of ways that people’s thinking is manipulated. When you actually have the experiences for yourself, or give someone else that experience that they’ve never had, you’re shattering all those stereotypes and breaking people out of their bubble. Everyone should at least attempt to do that for your own growth, and of course for the next man… I’ve never in life regretted spending on travel. You never do. You’ll have those experiences that really help shape who you are, who you’ll become, and the way you view the world.

As you can probably tell, Bas is an incredibly bright man, and I’d urge you to check out the rest of that article, here, where he talks more about his fascination with Toyko, the Trump travel ban, and his upcoming work.

For me, something about Bas and his personality & thoughts has an innate effect on me. Hell, before I even began my travels, one of his lyrics became a permanent reminder to myself to go out and explore. I got the words “clouds never get old” tattooed, and I knew immediately that the line was special to me even before I understood what he meant by it. When I finally got the fortunate chance to ask Bas about to line during a Genius Q&A on Twitter he explained, “I fly often on road, but somehow that moment when you break the clouds and come up over them just never gets old.” That was all I needed to hear.

Now, no matter which city I wake up in, or which coastline I’m watching the cotton candy clouds as the sun goes down, I always remember that there is so much more to see.

Go check out the 2 videos that Bas shot while in Japan, including one for possibly my favourite off of the tape in “Live For“, and also for the introspective “Penthouse“, live on Vevo now.

HHT Interlude: Vol. 1