I had been having trouble concentrating at work this past month cus our damn phones keep telling us a nonstop stream of news from back home, seeing our friends in civil disobedience, getting gassed & locked up by the National Guard, but when we were in that studio, nothing else existedRead More
by Brandon Boone
Besides people asking me “how do you afford to travel so much?” I often get asked, “why do you travel so much?” I usually give a generic answer like “because I want to see the world” or “because it frees my mind.” Although both of those statements are true, there is also a deeper explanation.
I travel because it opens my mind to new experiences, gives me the opportunity to learn about new cultures, and connects me to humans that I never dreamed of meeting and connecting with. These are the three influential reasons on why I travel. I also believe you will find great influence in my reasoning as well. Let’s take a closer look.
Opens my mind to new experiences
The joy that traveling brings is endless. You create memories that will last a lifetime. You will also step outside your comfort zone, I can almost guarantee it. The more you travel, the more your mind opens up. I know I may sound like a character from Doctor Strange, but it's the truth.
Since I started traveling, I'm doing things I never thought I would do. Horseback riding in foreign countries, swimming in dark caves, or riding a cable car 10,341 feet up a mountain in Colombia are just a few activities I never dreamed of doing. But look at me now. Even my appetite changed since I have been traveling. I use to only eat American food like hamburgers and pizza, but now I'll try just about anything.
Learn new cultures
Experiencing different cultures first hand will definitely change a person and make them more diverse. We live in one of the more diverse countries in the world, yet many of us are not very diverse individuals. Growing up in Louisiana was like binge watching the same season over and over again. I love Louisiana to death, but I didn't understand the true meaning of diversity until I moved to Austin and started traveling.
Diversity is also the key to creativity. As stated by Jeffrey Baumgartner, “Living in a new culture, learning new ways of doing things and, in short, diversifying your life makes you more creative.” Believe it or not, creativity is very important to the human life. Boosting your confidence or giving you new ways to express yourself are just a couple of ways on why creativity is so essential.
Connecting to humans
This is absolutely one of my favorite aspects of traveling. Connecting to humans across the globe is life changing. It provides growth and maturity. It changes the way you see the world. Connecting with a human you never met before who grew up completely different from you will turn you into a better person.
The best part about it is that the connection does not always produce the best outcome. That makes the experience even more valuable. Call me crazy, but you'll understand it once you experience it. For example, my friends and I got hustled out in Cuba. Were we upset? Yes. Was Cuba one of our best experiences yet? Yes! We gained so much insight into Cuba’s culture and learned so much from that experience.
So why do I travel so much?
By now, you should know the answer to that question. Traveling has evolved me and made me into the person I am today. I can only continue to elevate. There are so many more places to see and humans to connect with. The possibilities of growth are endless!
Bio: Brandon Boone is a digital marketer, blogger, creative, travel hacker, community organizer, donut lover, and a University of Louisiana-Monroe Graduate C’12. He is also the founder of the lifestyle brand, The Great Ones. Brandon strives to inspire millennials to become greater people through his website, community outreach, and service projects.
by Joseph Bonney
The King of the Teens has dropped his long awaited Teenage Emotions Album. Lil Boat is known for making fun party tracks as well as the poster child for the new wave of mumble rap. I tried my best to go into this album without a biased view. Listening to this album is like taking a glimpse into Yachty’s soul.
The project opens up with an intro from an uncle of Yachty’s to welcome you to this album. But after a while he comes in with the usual auto-tuned whaling he is known for. The “DN freestyle” takes an unexpected turn into a rapid incoherent rap. He doesn’t let rhymes dictate his thought process, it’s a burst of thoughts spilling onto a song. “Peek A Boo” is the first track that feels planned, if that makes sense. It follows the traditional chorus, verse, chorus that you hear on the radio. The “Blow my dick like a cello” line, which Yachty has addressed, as ridiculous as it sounds doesn’t take away too much considering the track is a euphemism for playing with female genitalia (though not one of Yachty’s people recognizing that a cello isn’t blown is quite disturbing).
The next stand out track of the album “All Around Me”, is something I can see none Yachty fans listening to. It’s catchy, fun and not as absurd as his other tracks. Kamaiyah and YG’s addition to the track also give the track direction and the radio flare we’re looking for. The following four tracks center around his newfound fame at a young age: “Say My Name” wants people to chant for him while in the next track Yachty asks about the lack of attention he gets. After that, the next songs are about living life to the fullest, enjoying oneself, and being free. He dips into a dancehall vibe with “Better”, reminiscent of Drake’s recent sound.
“Running with a Ghost” is the song that hit me the strongest out of the whole album because it’s a generic pop rap track, which isn’t bad at all. I’m not sure how receptive the masses will be to the tune, but this song has heavy potential to blow up. Grace sultry vocals serenading the hook on a bubblegum trap beat with Yachty at the forefront is an algorithm for a hit. Tracks like ”Lady in the Yellow” and “X Men” are straight to the point but they take different directions. Lady in the Yellow is Yachty crooning about a woman he loves, while “X Men” is the the cliche money, cars, clothes, women track. It’s a confident entertaining track.
The last two tracks are a decrescendo to this album. “Made of Glass” discusses unrequited love and being seen through or non existent to his love one. The outro is the closure of his world with the assistance of his mother, who lists how much she loves her son. A sweet touch. It ties up the raw emotion and angst that Yachty feels, as if to say, all over the place. But you’ve done a lot and everything will be okay.
This album isn’t going to convert you into a Yachty fan. This album is like Flo-Rida or Pitbull when they drop an album. It has the radio songs that do what they’re suppose to do; generate a song that people will play at almost every club or house party. But at the end of the day, most are not fiending for this album. You won’t see facebook statuses from your friends claiming how excited or ‘fire’ the album is. Which is fine. This album represents a moment in time, a phase our society is at right now. Boat will gain momentum off this album, but it will really take his future music to decide how to feel about him. Otherwise don’t go into this album expecting to be swayed. Yachty’s entire persona is the basis of this album, what you see is what you get.
Joseph Bonney is a writer, artist, hip-hop enthusiast, and gamer currently living in San Marcos,Texas. A recent English graduate with an Art/Design minor, when he's not working, he's usually doing 1 of the 4, or eating. You can find his Instagram page here.
by Joseph Bonney
“Lollipop” was the first Lil Wayne song that I heard, it was also the first hip-hop song that engraved my love for hip-hop. It captured me in a way that no other song had done before. It had this dirty south/grimey vibe mixed with a pop club sound that resonated with me in a different way than most songs. Since then, Wayne has gone from hip-hop rockstar, to the new underdog: Getting Platinum records and pushing his artist like Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Tyga (who has left the label); to going to prison, having many episodic seizures, and the continous legal battle between former ally Birdman. But as of late I keep asking myself how will Wayne be remembered? Does he deserve more respect then he gets?
“Lil Wayne is still my favorite rapper” Says Chance the Rapper in a tweet to a fan. You can hear Wayne’s influence in most rappers flow, lyricism, style, etc. “ Wayne is still fun.” ASAP Rocky states in an interview, “are we forgetting that Wayne made everybody switch their flow up and start using the E’s and R’s, and ‘I’m ir-regul-ar, seg-ular’? Like, c’mon, are we forgetting that Wayne changed hip-hop, too?”. Wayne is a wordplay juggernaut that put some of the best rappers to shame, and he made it sound fun at the same time. I’ll tell friends about a new Wayne song or verse, and the consensus is usually the same, “he’s was better during Tha Carter 3”, “I can’t get into Wayne”, “*Insert conscious rapper* is way better than Wayne!”. I will admit as a lyricist Wayne is great, but he is not the storytelling, activist that other rappers like Kendrick Lamar and J.Cole are . But Wayne was never that. On songs like “Shooter” off Tha Carter 2 he will share a glimpse of his disgust toward radio stations treatment southern rappers “And to the radio stations/ I'm tired of being patient/ Stop being rapper racists, region-haters”, yet he didn’t dwell on it. He wasn’t a philosopher, he is a wordsmith who knows how choose the right words in the right place which makes him fun!
Though at the same time, Wayne can be irresponsible with his image. There’s the obvious: the eight month jail stint he served in Rikers Island on gun charges, for example, something that many fans championed him for being a true “gangster”. He famously rapped a line about Emmett Till on a Future song that brought so much bad media attention his way, that he lost his sponsorship with Mountain Dew. Even recently (November 2nd 2016) in an interview with CNN he stated “I don't feel connected to a damn thing that ain't got nothin' to do with me” in reference to the Black Lives Matters movement. I have personal qualms with aspects of Black Lives Matter, but to disregard a movement because it doesn’t touch you personally is disrespectful to his own race. I know he didn’t mean it in a malicious sense, but he could’ve handled his response better. Plus, Wayne is trying to be an entrepreneur like his idol Jay-Z, and has started different business ventures like Trukfit clothing, Young Money Sports, and even a mobile game called “Sqvad Up”. He needs to know how to protect his image and brand.
Now back to today, Lil Wayne is having legal troubles with Bryan “Birdman” Williams, CEO of Cash Money Records and a former father figure. Birdman discovered Wayne when he was a child struggling to have a sufficient life with his single mother. Birdman started Cash Money Records in 1991 with his brother Ronald “Slim” Williams. Though they started the label with native New Orleans artists, Lil Wayne took Cash Money Records to new heights. Wayne stayed on when other popular artists, like Juvenile, left Cash Money, and brought it to an unforeseen height with his record Tha Carter 3 (2008).
That album - with songs like “A Milli”, “Got Money”, and “Mrs. Officer” - revived the label like a phoenix and led to the birth of a new era. Things were smooth until 2015, when it came time to drop Wayne’s next album, Tha Carter V. Universal Records and Birdman refused to drop the album, and Wayne never received the advance for the album. In the two years since, things have not improved. Wayne filed a court order against Birdman and Universal Records and severed his connection with his former mentor and Cash Money.
The drawback to this is Wayne has lost funding from his parent label. This has led to dropping mixtapes and touring at festivals and nightclubs instead of the large stadiums, like Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, that he played at the height of his career. It has people wondering if this is it for Wayne. Rick Ross stated “Us seeing Lil Wayne’s [situation] and suffering from that, I think we kind of all got used to it. I think the culture has fucking accepted that Wayne would not put out another album. And that’s not the way the game [should be]. That’s not the way we designed this. That’s not the way this is supposed to be.”
As a fan of Wayne, I agree with Rozay, Tha Carter V has become the new Detox, but not in a good way. Millions of Wayne’s fans are waiting for a gladiator-style return, when he drops an album that annihilates every other fighter in the arena. For now, however, we get endless features, the occasional project (like Sorry 4 the Wait 2, Dedication 5, and the T-Pain leaked T-Wayne), and endless promises that something will come out soon. Birdman has gone on record multiple times stating that Tha Carter V is coming out at the end of 2017. I would like to think this isn’t the end, and hope he’s able to make the comeback he deserves.
Joseph Bonney is a writer, artist, hip-hop enthusiast, and gamer currently living in San Marcos,Texas. A recent English graduate with an Art/Design minor, when he's not working, he's usually doing 1 of the 4, or eating. Follow him on Instagram: @joebonesart
by James Stratton
When SXSW started back in 1987, the wristband for the weekend cost $10; 2017’s walk-up rate for the music wristband—the lowest cost if you missed the September 9th deadline—came in at $1325. This growth in cost shows not only how large the festival has become but who attends. SXSW has become an event to see and to be seen at. After all, if Barack Obama can come and give a keynote, the focus isn’t on the place where the keynote is hosted.
Austin became a backdrop; its walls house the festival, but it isn’t a home. During these past two weeks the city was a playground of big-label musicians, Silicon Valley cash, and cinematographic celebrities. These forces hover over Austin and threaten to diminish the funky vibes that brought this festival here.
SXSW in and of itself is not a bad actor. Its massive presence, however, overwhelms. It comes as no surprise, then, that there are Austinites pushing back. Over the past week I met some of them: They include Roxanne Zech, the organizer of “That’s What She Said”, a showcase for female and non-binary artists. I also got to know Amber Harris, founder of Aheadintheherd, along with Vero Hermosa and Christine Gonzales, her two partners at the organization.
Altogether, these four are working in the shadow of SXSW to provide a space for artists and grow the next generation of funky, groovy culture in Austin.
"That's What She Said Showcase"
According to the Austin Musician Census of 2015, only 20% of working musicians in the city are female. Roxanne Zech, the organizer of the “That’s What She Said” showcase at the French House Co-Op cited this fact as the inspiration for the event. This small number, she said, denies representation and risks denying inspiration and role models for aspiring female artists and the larger Austin community.
James: Hi Roxanne, what’s the goal of the “That’s What She Said Showcase’?
Roxanne: ‘That’s What She Said’ is an unofficial showcase for female and non-binary artists. We’re providing a place for them during SXSW.
J: Why is this a needed space?
R: Well, first, the 2015 Austin Music Census reported that only 20% of working musicians in Austin were female. We also want to give a space that we feel the scene has not provided. There are just not enough spaces that value what we value as women. There’s also a perception that female = vocalist. Guitar is considered a ‘technical’ skill. So people will tell a female artist when she plays guitar: ‘Wow, you play good. You must practice guitar a lot!’ It’s like, duh, of course she does.
J: What is the role of the Co-Ops in developing a better scene?
R: Our venue is our home. This allows us to connect to our community, and we don’t have to beg venues to meet our needs. And having the co-op as a venue separates us from the craziness of SXSW.
Roxanne had to tend to her responsibilities at the door, so we ended our chat there. I entered into the backyard, the stage for the evening. Lanky punks, tatted queers, all the alternative sort milled around. The kinds that would bring curious glances and ritual gasps of ‘Wow! Keep Austin Weird, amiright?’ from the Downtown SXSW crowd.
I stood by Supermoon - a pop-punk quartet composed of Adrienne LaBelle, Selina Crammond, Alie Lynch, and Katie Gravestock - out of Vancouver, Canada. We had spoken earlier outside of French House . As they waited for soundcheck I decided to ask them about their experiences, with SXSW and with the importance of the “That’s What She Said” showcase.
James: Welcome down from Canada. How’s Austin? Is this y’all’s first time at SXSW?
Adrienne: Everyone’s super nice here. This is our first time in Austin!
J: How did you here about this event?
A: They contacted us.
Katie: We are super-stoked to play!
J: What’s the importance of this event? Do you see the same problem (the 20% rate in Austin) in Canada?
Supermoon: Oh yeah. That’s why we appreciate this show. It’s a place that specifically welcomes you, and no dude will tell you what to do.
K: Yeah, no one asks you if you are a groupie (the rest of the band groans in sympathy)
A: It’s way more relaxing to know that this space exists. Little pockets like this that are life-affirming, you know? It’s so nice to have a reprieve from the festival and a safe space amid all that’s going on in the outside world.
LOCAL AND VOCAL
While I was dancing along with Supermoon, my mind returned to Local and Vocal, a show I attended the day before. It was another showcase, hosted by Aheadintheherd (one word), this time for highlighting local Austin acts. Zen Fit Studios was transformed into an intimate venue - soft lights, welcoming shadows, low ceilings - to showcase local talent.
I met up with Amber Harris, Vero Hermosa, and Christine Gonzalez, the show’s organizers. Harris started the organization this past January. Its mission is to curate music from Austin-based bands and connect people through concerts and sharing good tunes. We met a few days after the to chat about the inspiration for the show and for starting Aheadintheherd.
The following has been edited for length and clarity. Listen to the full interview here.
James: Hi, Amber.
J: How did Aheadintheherd (AH) come about?
A: I went on that trip to LA and I saw everyone around me doing the thing they wanted to do
J: What do you mean by that?
A: Like they were pursuing their creative endeavors, which was really inspiring, and you know, I’m 25, which isn’t old but it isn’t… young. And If I’m going to start doing the thing I love to do, I need to do it now, because, why not now?
J: And what is that thing you want to do?
A: So, thats the thing I had to ask myself, and it’s always been music but in what form? Because I’ve been in bands and I write music occasionally and I enjoy it! But I don’t know if that’s what I’m best at. And when I really thought about it, I thought observing music and being a consumer of music is something I love and often times I’ll give people suggestions and a lot of the people I know the music that they hear comes from me sometimes and I’m always searching for, I always want to find something new.
J: So it would be fair to say that you are a connector of music?
A: Yes. Yeah, and it’s kind of how the website became a review site because I feel like that music makes me feel a lot and I wanted to write about how I feel because other people might have the same experiences where they listen to an album and… it just makes them think! It changes their perspective. It changes their lifestyle. And so I feel like there’s so much people out there that people don’t know just because they don’t have time to look for it and I’m one of those people obsessed with looking for new music and I just want those bands that are good and want recognition to come to the forefront so that people can find out about them. There’s so much good music out there, just because it is not mainstream or marketable it just falls to the wayside.
J: You had mentioned earlier that you were part of a band here in Austin. And you’re from Austin, so how does AH find this new music to show to other people?
A: Well, I’ve always searched for music, I used to go to Barnes and Nobles and sit there for hours and look at stuff. Then, going to shows in town. I have friends who are musicians and they post their music all the time. So I always try to listen to that. But I while I think that AH is focused on local music, there is a focus on music, in general, and how it affects our lives. So, finding music is something I do anyways, so I’m doing it for people, theoretically.
J: What challenges have you met in making this website a reality? Making this community of music a thing?
A: Honestly, a lot of the technical things, setting up the website, has been really challenging…
At this point, Vero and Christine arrive and sit with Amber and me at the booth:
JR: I think your friends are here. Hello friends! Hi, I’m James. Squeeze on in. We’re just talking with Amber, about she… y’all created AH. What you are all about. [To Vero] How did you come to be with AH?
Vero: We’ve all known each other for quite a long time. Seven years with Amber. [Points to Christine] Her, I lived with since I was eighteen.
Christine: We’re it in the long-haul!
V: So, pretty much, all of our friends, we’ve known each other through music…
J: That’s what Amber was saying.
V: That’s always been the forefront of our friendship. It was always wanting to go to shows, we have other people who are interested in the same things that we are.
J: I was talking with Amber about how the site operates, so I want to hear from y’all. [To Christine] You mentioned you were in the content curation, how do you find that next hit Austin band or music video?
C: I think it has a lot to do with our friend group. bringing that all together, discussing it, and being open to something new with an interesting sound. Like I said, music has been the focal point of our friendships, so we’re always going out to shows anyway, SXSW has been an amazing opportunity… but content gets provided and we generate a whole list. It’s really up to the reviewers and writers what they want to submit. Because that is the whole point: providing a personal anecdote to music that we like.
J: I want to ask y’all about SXSW… To me, it seems that there is a big split between the official and the ‘unofficial’ shows. So, where do you see AH in relation to SXSW?
A: I think we need to have showcases. Bring people to the up to the front. We were talking about how there’s a big disconnect. The corporate shows and then our show is so local and so raw in a sense that I think we need to keep bring that element in to it. Really focusing on what’s happening here more.
V: We’re from here. We were all born and raised here. We want to keep the culture alive. We want to keep it for the artists who are the only reason why we come together. So, they deserve it.
C: I think it’s important for Southby, because there are so many people coming from all over the place, to showcase what Austin has to offer. Whether the official or the unofficial I love it either way. The environment. There’s so much talent in town. So you might as well take advantage.
V: I personally don’t have anything against the official stuff. I always volunteer. So, we’re in it. We’re in the thick of it either way. Whether it be an official showcase or an unofficial one, it’s for the love of music, you know? That we can appreciate it in any context we can.
J: What’s the future hold for AH?
V: Good stuff [laughs] I hope good stuff! Everyone has said good things about the show. That’s what we want. People having fun, hanging out, and enjoying music.
C: More reviews, definitely. More events. With this being the launch party. We would have enjoyed it either way. So just as I said, continue sharing music and showcasing all the talent in Austin.
A: I also want AH to be a site that people go to because they trust the recommendations: ‘If AH is putting their stamp on it, I want to check it out. That’s going to be good.’ I think a part of it is curating something for people to consume and that we believe in and we thing are good and putting it up there for people to see. Because as I said, it’s kinda hard because people don’t always want to put in the work to find new stuff. So, I think that we are going to put in the work for ‘em.
V: Once you find a trusted source, you go back to them. So, to create that, that would be cool.
Behind our booth a band started its set. A showcase at Spiderhouse. For smaller bands who couldn’t play the big SXSW gigs. Fast, heavy beats. Guitar. Synth. Those sounds took me back to the shows that I had seen earlier in the week.
For the rest of the day, the weather is great. Pleasant heat. Moderate clouds. Just a touch of wind. If I were a superstitious man, I’d read this the sky as a good omen. After talking with Roxanne, Supermoon, and Aheadintheherd, though, I’m willing to believe in the signs. These are people who care about the culture in their city. Though it is going through growing pains, I have no doubt that the future of local Austin music rests in good hands. Small-batch creativity is here to stay and will co-exist and thrive alongside the boisterousness of SXSW for years to come.
The Austin Musician Census: austintexas.gov/sites/default/files/files/Austin_Music_Census_Interactive_PDF_53115.pdf
SXSW growth over the years: reportingtexas.com/sxsw-gets-bigger-richer-hipper-and-evermore-pricey/
Southby statistics: sxsw.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/2016-SXSW-Statistics.pdf
James Stratton (@jrwrite1) is Human Influence's Digital Content Editor.
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