Vibe with Damon issue #11

These issues are a collection of my recently favorited songs within the Lofi Hip Hop & Chillhop scenes. The issue opens with ten incredible tracks, followed by personal & label updates, and occasionally other art content. I frequently post music on my personal IG stories, give me a follow and check it out!



//Music

1. "Krusty" by Civin came to me at just the right time. I rebranded our Lofi Hip Hop playlist this week to be a bit more raw & rough, and this beat fit that sound nicely with the groove and composition. Well done!




2. "Edge of Reality" by Chicago based artists Meraki99, Karma Kush is another beat with a super dope Lofi Hip Hop groove, yet it also blends heavy synthwork in the mix. I'm a big fan of ambience in groovy music and this one nails that.




3. "Contemplatin'" by Texas based artist Nocatchphraze is an uptempo and funky Chillhop joint. It has a contagious drumline and synthwork.




4. "Woodland Nights" by New York based artist sftspkn is a downtempo vibe. I really dig those synth pads over the calm but hard-hitting drumline. Everything is spaced out nicely in this one.




5. IWISHIWAS by Kunde is super groovy and funky. I'm also loving the synth bass that glides around the ever-evolving melodies. This is golden quality stuff here.




6. "i need a cashcow" by daychillaz has a classic Lofi style. It's nice and simple, dusty, and stays fresh without demanding too much attention.



7. "Wind" by Prism is a Jazz-Fusion masterpiece. I discovered Prism and their work when I began to search through Youtube for new music, for the more underground stuff. Prism is a Japanese band that started in the mid 70's, and their entire catalog is a colorful journey of Rock / Jazz / Electronic heaven.




8. "Poetry" by The RH Factor was recommended to me by my friend Theo, and I immediately fell in love with the entire album. Featuring greats like Erykah Badu, Common, Q-Tip, this is a high quality blend of Hip Hop, R&B, and funky instrumentals.




9. "Un Sueño" by Eyesoh, Naomy Morena is passionate, smooth, yet also dusty and evolving. A very nice guitar plays through it, with synth arps and and horns towards the middle/end. Fantastic work!




10. This track was created by Japan based Yasuhisa Inoue for the OST of Gran Turismo, a game I personally loved as a kid, particularly for the Jazzy music it featured and the proper love shown to the car culture. This song is a beautiful fusion of electronic, Jazz and ambient. The evolution in it is my favorite thing. (Wait till the bells come in later). Whoever is in charge of curating for Gran Turismo projects has top tier taste. They've literally never let me down.




//Personal thoughts


Lately I've been thinking deeply about gentrification.

As the Lofi Hip Hop scene continues to be popularized, the representatives of these African-American cultural activities are rapidly being replaced by overseas businessmen. The core sound of Hip Hop was rough, raw, in-your-face and anti-establishment. It was experimental and echoed the real life struggle of adaptation. Yet a lot of what we hear today is smooth, sleepy, predictable, lacking context.


The style of music is not the issue though, we're all free to do what we want, and to be clear, I'm not criticizing production methods. In my opinion, the issue is that there is a massive lack of minority-run platforms and curators to preserve roots & authenticity. The ones calling the shots are the ones most removed from the movement. I think it's because of this, that many of the beats emerging in recent years from the big Lofi labels have been stripped of their 'flavor'. It's an entirely new genre now, and should not be referred to as Lofi Hip Hop. (IMO)


When asking myself where the 'flavor' went, I was curious about how Adult Swim was able to contribute to and inspire such a great scene of music in the Early 00's. For a more comprehensive read on the Adult Swim aspect, check this article out. In short though, I think it's dope how Adult Swim leveraged their music catalog with their shows & visual universe to create something unique, while still including and pushing forward African American culture. A quote from the above article reads: "The network became involved in the production of music records in 2005 for the collaboration between MF DOOM and Danger Mouse called The Mouse and the Mask. Danger produced the beats from sampled music from various Adult Swim shows, and included quotes from different characters, in a sense, immersing the listener in Adult Swim’s world"


Something I noticed in these projects from Adult Swim was the heavy reliance on sampling, and including a concept of 'time and place'. Hip Hop probably wouldn't be what it was if location and lifestyle wasn't such a big part of its influence. Today I feel we have largely stopped using this "time and place" concept, probably because of the rise of internet-based labels and an ability to curate every aspect of a movement. Things aren't raw anymore. We create beats for labels, playlists, vibes, but we neglect to communicate our true lifestyle & history in our work. It almost feels as if music has been separated from the artist. Again though, this is just my opinion. I'd like to begin focusing more on this 'time & place' idea in our labels and my personal work going forward. I want to try and inspire a wave of authenticity in our work; Representation of our places, people, and history. Rather than merely siphoning the vibes and aesthetic from it to benefit our label.


Below are some really cool tracks that I stumbled on while thinking about these things, and its a starting point for those who don't know much about the history of our niche or how it used to sound. These tracks below are part of an album series named "Chrome Children", a collaborative project featuring g.o.a.t artists like Madlib, J Dilla, Oh No etc. And was released by Stones Throw Records & Adult Swim in 2006. There was a sequel released a year later in 2007 (also really dope). The project glides through Hip Hop, Funk and Soul, even including off-the-wall styles for an incredibly fresh and explorative vibe all throughout. I highly recommend you check it out and take note of the experimentation.







At the end of the day, I don't want to be genre police, or hate on what other people do. I can only be real to myself and those I work with. Gentrification is very real in our music and in our cities, and it's something I deal with constantly in San Jose, California; a tech & finance capital of the world. Not speaking up would fill me with guilt and further shade. I want to do my part by being more conscious of who & what we feature, while still pushing a movement of positivity. Thanks to all my friends, clients, peers who have been walking this journey with me. It's been incredibly eye-opening and has helped me find pride in my Californian culture. If anyone has thoughts, suggestions, feedback, I'm always open for chatting. Thanks again for reading!




//Ending

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and I hope you heard / saw something that made you vibe. If you'd like to help me out, you can donate here, or you can just support our music label by following & streaming our playlists (below).


58 views