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What’s the Music Streaming Service for Playlisters

Plus the next step in how we playlist, featuring our best soul songs

Back in 2014 Trent Reznor put out a video envisioning Beats Music, now Apple Music, as the game changer in deciding what song comes next. It sure as hell inspired me and helped to get where music discovery is today, but Spotify is leading that now, most famously with RapCaviar.

Tuma Basa – creator of RapCaviar, now at YouTube Music – recently talked at DJ Jazzy Jeff’s Playlist Retreat about how we need to recognize curation as a form of art. Too many music services are hung up on breaking the next big thing. Let the playlisters, djs, and other curators figure that out. Figure out the curators first.

SoundCloud has been my pick for playlisting music ever since they introduced the feature, but they’ve been losing listeners, so I thought it was about time to spread my efforts elsewhere. Spotify’s doing it right when it comes to their product and promotion. They’ve got all the major label music and seem to be winning with playlisting & discovery. But it turns out half the music I love isn’t on Spotify, so it’s gonna have to take more than just that to replace SoundCloud, if at all.

YouTube Music doesn’t have every song SoundCloud has, but I’m sure they have much more. They haven’t quite established themselves yet, but with Lyor Cohen, Tuma Basa, and all the other talent I’ll follow when I find them, my (subscription) money is on YouTube Music. And Spotify too for now.

Apple Music has the same problem as Spotify with catalog, but their potential is in live with retail stores in the most highly trafficked places around the world. Initiatives like “Today at Apple” that are bringing people together around creativity & entrepreneurship can be the game changer Apple Music needs to differentiate themselves from Spotify & YouTube Music. Especially if they utilize a platform like Beats 1 to democratize the global spotlight for all kinds of artists, including playlisters, online and off.

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Outside Lands 2018: Women Rocked It

But Durand ruled the hottest, yet coldest day of the festival

Outside Lands hasn’t had a woman headline in its eleven-year existence, until 2018. They must have felt especially bad because two dominated this year. First with Florence on Saturday and last with Janet closing out Sunday. Over the last few years, Sundays seem to be the day. They’ve stacked it well, probably because they’re never as fun as Fridays & Saturdays – you gotta be a little more responsible.

For the last two years, I’ve started off Sunday early. I go the whole day. Doing it all three days is probably a challenge not worth taking, but I recommend going all day at least once. It’s a lot warmer, Golden Gate Park is perpetually cold. There’s less dust flying around, because of the best thing yet, no crowds! There’s nothing better at a festival than going up to the main stage and being able to dance with some space to a great soul band. And boy was there one each year!

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Channel Tres with the funk flare

from DUCKWRTH to his self-titled EP

Channel Tres has hits, mostly with DUCKWRTH. I’ve seen both live a few times and they’re charming as hell on and off stage. Ask my girlfriend. But Channel Tres just came out with his self-titled EP and it’s unexpected & good. My favorite combination.

I may not love it like I love his work with DUCKWRTH, but it’s hard for any artist to top what made them so special to you in the first place. The follow up is a big step, but like all great things, give it time. Tres’s production is my favorite in funk with some synth flare. He changes it up enough from DUCKWRTH to his own voice to keep it fresh. Definitely wasn’t expected.

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You can tell it’s Smino from the start

Whether he sounds like Mac Miller, Outkast, or Danny Brown

I hate PR people. Or at least people who bulk email me about an artist’s latest single. I didn’t ask for that. I don’t want this. I can find it on my own. I’ve been so scarred by it that I don’t trust most people with recommendations, but that’s exactly how I found out about Smino.

I went to Blurry Vision, a first year Oakland hip hop festival, where Smino was supposed to play. A coworker said that I should see him. That was the only reason she was going, along with NxWorries’ first festival show. Smino didn’t end up showing, it happens, but I did listen to him all the way through on SoundCloud. Now he’s my #1 person to see live. Well, behind Bill Withers and a few others.

He has some serious amount of music. He reminds me of a few different rappers from a few different songs. Mac Miller on “Ruby Red”, Outkast vibes on a few, and even Danny Brown in “Home Invaders.” Whatever he sounds like, like Dre said about Anderson .Paak, you can tell it’s him from his first word on a song.

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Coachella’s 2018 lineup felt like a personal best

Beyonce, SZA, and Kali Uchis were the best, but not the only

It didn’t have Frank Ocean, but Coachella 2018 may have beat out 2017’s FYF fest for best festival lineup I’ve ever been to. Beyonce, SZA, Jacob Banks, THEY., Kali Uchis, Daniel Caesar, Tom Misch, Jorja Smith, ODESZA, Vince Staples, Jessie Ware, Miguel, Kamasi Washington. That’s not even half of who I loved, so here’s most the rest.

Let’s start with Friday because chronology. It also had my favorite performance at Coachella, Kali Uchis.

I love how Kali works the stage. She’s among my favorite performers, including Jacob Banks, Anderson .Paak, Tom Misch, and DUCKWRTH. I’ve seen Kali at The New Parish and The Fox in Oakland, but she had a lot more competition this time at Coachella.

Most loved Beyonce most, but Kali Uchis had the moment for me. She always does. Every time I’ve seen her I’m always caught up in her singing and stage presence. She keeps me the whole time. That barely happens ever for me. Too much on my mind.

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Anderson .Paak is the nicest guy

And his 'Bubblin' is bangin

Anderson .Paak is probably the nicest musician I’ve met. I got the chance back in 2015 at Hieroglyphics’ annual Hiero Day. I’m pretty awkward with most people, let alone ones I look up to, but he took it in stride. Others haven’t been so kind and that’s why I support him as much as I do. Well, more so because he’s one of the best musicians active right now, and my favorite performer to see live. I think I have eight times now.

He’s been playing ‘Bubblin’ live at his shows, and it sure as hell prepped me for the release. When it dropped it felt like it was another one of his classic bangers. Maybe it will be.

.Paak also released a music video, which always distorts my view of the song, but thankfully in a positive way with ‘Bubblin.’ The man can do no wrong right now.

Make sure to check the rest of his catalogue (before Malibu), especially his song ‘Get Along’ with EOM & Blu.

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Galimatias has a sound

Beautiful and not typical

A lot of producers try to create a signature sound, but not many pull it off, let alone keep it up. I usually criticize producers for sticking with what originally made them popular, but Galimatias changes it up enough in his latest round of releases. Plus the vocalists are always well picked.

His ‘Ocean Floor Kisses’ came out at the end of 2014 and I’ve been going back to it since. It’s one of the most relaxing beats – on the top list of all time – and best sums up his beautiful & laid back, off the beat music. Fun and quirky at times.

His work with Alina Baraz just before that is even more interesting to talk about. How he mixes her voice in ‘Pretty Thoughts’ with what I’m assuming is her pitched down vocals is one of the best plays between two voices. It finishes sentences better than most couples in love.

He hasn’t made much in the last few years, but some new stuff has sprouted up. ‘Blowback’ isn’t the redefining sound I heard with ‘Ocean Floor Kisses,’ but it’s as different enough as it is good. Taking on that 50’s doo wop (shoo bop) throwback.

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Lion Babe’s Mane Thang

The venue is as important as the act

1015 Folsom is the worst venue in San Francisco. Well, it’s probably not the worst, but considering the caliber of talent it gets compared to how poorly it’s set up for live performances, it’s the worst. The sound is shit and you can barely fit in for decent viewing. It should be remodeled or turned back into a nightclub, exclusively.

In mid April, my girlfriend decided to drag me to the Lion Babe show at 1015. I would’ve wanted to go if it wasn’t for the venue. I did love hearing her voice live. The way she uses it with her producer, Lucas Goodman, makes for some timeless music. It’s AlunaGeorge consistent. But everything else at the show, from the sound to the setup, felt shoddy. Although as my girlfriend pointed out, the costume changes and dance numbers made for a fun performance.

Lion Babe played Coachella the next weekend, but I decided to see THEY instead. They had given a great show at South by in 2017, but I kinda wish I saw Lion Babe instead. It is the main thing that sets musicians apart, besides the actual music. And she’s got plenty, almost as much as THEY.

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SXSW 2018: DJ’s are for Dancing

Joey Dosik, Billie Eilish & Skratch Bastid are all amazingly different

Getting to the airport is always a headache. I ran into quite a few large ones with my flight to Austin, including some asshole pulling a switchblade on a homeless guy, but one thing I realized is if you don’t like the position you’re in, change it. Especially if it’s an asshole pulling a knife on you.

Unlike getting to the airport, getting to the first show in Austin was almost magical. Landing in Austin around 4:30, I had an hour to get to the Airbnb to drop off my stuff, Uber to the Austin Convention Center to get a music badge, and walk to Banger’s to catch Joey Dosik’s show. I never thought I would make it, especially given the trouble getting to the airport, but I did just in time.

I ended up seeing Dosik three times that weekend. I’ve fallen for a few of his tracks over the years, but seeing someone live is the other half of making a musician. Not only did his voice carry just as well live, but he had stage presence. His demeanor opened up his personality, and love for basketball. It showed a person behind the voice. Making the experience all the more personal.

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Jacob Banks Makes Louis The Child Sound Good

One of the most surprising collaborations of the year

I rarely post a single anymore. Usually I save it for a playlist, but if I dive into the artist’s music and come up with a handful then it’s worth featuring alone.

I’ve already featured Jacob Banks when I saw him at Outside Lands – which was one of the best performances of the year, as well as his show at The Independent – but his single with Louis The Child is one of his best and unexpected at that.

Not from Banks, I expect his music to get better with time, but Louis The Child. Not only have they never worked with a singer so good, but they’ve got his sound down. Better than I’ve ever seen it before.

I swear I’ve heard ‘Ditty Bop’ at a Jacob Banks show, but something that sounds so familiar from the start is a good indicator of a track’s longevity.

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