Peep This Joint: Top 5 Rap/RnB Albums of the Year

As the year winds down, it’s time to look back at all the outstanding albums that released this year!

Reflecting on the 2019 year’s lineup, it’s clear to see the lineup is stacked. From memorable debuts such as YBN Cordae’s The Lost Boy to disappointing releases like Chance’s The Big Day and Kanye’s Jesus is King.

Nevertheless, a wide range of artists from all sides of the rap spectrum released music this year as we’ve seen with the dynamic Atlanta duo EarthGang releasing their debut, Mirrorland to the surprising posthumous project, One Of The Best Yet by legendary rap group Gangstarr. 

With not only the year but the decade coming to a close, I felt that it was right to go over what I personally think are the top releases this year for rap and R&B. It was a hard decision to whittle down my favorites to only five, but these are the albums I felt deserve some noise:

YBN Cordae – The Lost Boy

Cover from: Stereogum

This album is a phenomenal debut for the young, up-and-coming rapper hailing from Maryland. He initially blew up through a remix of J-Cole’s “1985” that circulated the web and moved its way to the charts. From then on, things have only been going up for the young rapper as shown with his song “RNP,” featuring Anderson .Paak being produced and co-written by J-Cole himself just a year later. The lyrics and production in this project are nothing but top-tier so this definitely deserves to be in the top five of the year.

Tyler, the Creator – IGOR

Cover from: Twitter

Many wondered what direction Tyler would take for his album after the release of Flower Boy, which received both widespread critical and public acclaim. What resulted was the release of IGOR, which Tyler proudly proclaims is all self-written, produced and arranged. The rave reviews of Flower Boy led Tyler to tap into his creativity to create a unique album that sonically differs from his past discography. Exploring the journey of a love triangle, Tyler paints the emotional struggles experienced throughout the album. If you ask me, this project would be the number one release of the year.

Summer Walker – Over It

Cover from: Hypebae

Another stellar debut project that dropped this year was Over It by R&B singer Summer Walker. Dropping in October, this album proved to be a hit as it broke records by becoming the most-streamed album by an R&B female artist ever during its first week. After getting her song, “Girls Need Love” remixed by Drake, her popularity instantly skyrocketed. Her sultry vocals paired with the slow-groove production made this album a top contender for best R&B album of the year. 

Anderson .Paak – Ventura

Cover from: Consequence of Sound

Anderson .Paak came through this year with the release of his album, Ventura. This album came out just a year after the release of his fourth album Oxnard, which received some criticism for his rap-centric approach. It didn’t seem to bother him though as he came out strong this year with Ventura just 5 months after Oxnard’s release. Returning back to the soulful roots with this album, Paak recovered gracefully with this “return to form” album.

Gangstarr – One Of The Best Yet

Cover from: HipHopDx

One Of The Best Yet marks the end of the 16 year hiatus of legendary rap duo Gangstarr, which consists of rapper Guru and producer DJ Premier. The death of Guru back in 2006 resulted in DJ Premier losing access to all of his old verses until recently through legal action. Fortunately, once DJ Premier recovered his partner’s forgotten and unreleased material, he was able to make magic and produce beats that ultimately culminated into the album. One of my favorite aspects of this album was the fact that Guru’s verses have a timeless element since they are very relevant in today’s rap climate. Overall, this is a classic sounding album reminiscent of the 90s that sounds like a treat for backpackers. If you’re a fan of hard-hitting lyrics, this is the top release of the year for that category. 

With so many hard-hitting releases this year, there’s a lot of content to listen to in order to keep up. Hopefully, this list gives you some ideas or suggestions on what projects to catch up on. Peep these joints out!

Written by: Johann Oribello

21 Questions: Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez

Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez Man with glasses smiling in front of tree

21 Questions is a fun way to get to know students, faculty, and staff. This week is Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez. He is the current Assistant Director of New Student and Parent Programs here at SDSU.

How do you feel about the question, “Tell us about yourself?”

“It is really open ended, but it is great, people can express themselves in regard to who they are, because often times we are told who we are, instead of us being able to share who we are.”

So, tell me about yourself?

“There are so many ways you can take this question! My name is Francisco Guadalupe Velazquez, but I also go by Frankie Velazquez. I am a SoCal native from Valley Center, North County San Diego, proud SDSU alum, and an Aztec for life. I like this question, but it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly to say. “

What is something that people usually get wrong about you?

“People think that I take myself too seriously, but it depends on the environment that I am in. At work people tend to think I am quiet, because I do not tend to speak up, but it depends on the context. But if I feel like it is a safe, brave space where I can do that, I am more likely to speak up.”

Is there anything you want people to know about you?

“It is important for people that I identify within the LGBTQ+ community. As a QPOC (queer person of color) it is important for to have faculty and staff identify in this community to represent this population. The intersectionality that does not happen as often where you see queer people in a position of power. As an assistant director I recognize I have authority to effect change in the community.”

Are you a “people person”?

“I don’t think so, but I can turn it on if needed. I know I need time to myself sometimes, so I would say I am an ambivert.”

Are you family oriented?

“That’s an interesting question, I think the idea of family I do like, but that does not always mean blood family I think you create your family so in that sense yes, I am family oriented.”

What’s on your mind today?

“At the moment work and vacation! I recently booked a vacation to Riviera Maya, Mexico, so that is my motivation.”

What brought you back to San Diego? 

“SDSU that is what really made my family. Being a student, grad student and then leaving, I knew I wanted to come back, because the connections I made. I was part of the SDSU Ambassadors and Residential Education, so those played a part in decision as well as my personal and professional growth.”

Do you have an idea of where you will be at the end of this year? 

“I have a vision of where I would like to be. 2019 has been a huge year of personal and professional growth, I hope that I am in a place of gratitude and being thankful for the journey I have been on and thankful for what I have. I am looking forward to traveling, I love to travel and travel with my partner. Our next goal is to travel somewhere whether it is a cruise or exploring Europe. I know he wants to go to Germany, so that might be on the list.”

Do you believe that struggles make you stronger?

“Yes, absolutely I think there needs to be somewhat of a struggle, because when you get to your goal or you are successful, it is so much sweeter. That is how you grow and how you become the person you ultimate want to be.”

Who are you listening to right now?

“I am listening to… let me pull up my Spotify. I listen to a lot of Spanish music reggaeton and pop — Danna Paola, Carlos Rivera, and Taylor Swift. My first concert was when I was five years old, it was a Latin pop group called Garibaldi. Some of my favorite concerts have been Ricky Martin, Lady Gaga was amazing, Mariah Carey, Demi Lovato, and Justin Timberlake.”

Do you have anyone to thank for where you are now?

“I do. So many people, I don’t know where to start. So often we go about our lives without acknowledging the team of people that support you. These are just a few people, but my advisor when I was an ambassadors Janet Castro, Kara Bauer, Dr. Avery, Randy Timm, and Christy Samarkos.” 

If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?

“You matter, because it is important to hear.”
– Frankie Velazquez
Written by: Jasmine Alexander
Photo by: Jasmine Alexander

Stirring the Pot: Stayin’ Studious Without Losing a Screw

Trying to survive in college is stressful in and of itself; add exams, lack of sleep, and anxiety to the mix and you’re in for a rough time. Here are some helpful tips to stay sane yet studious.

Typically, I like to do investigative pieces — this is a bit of a deviation from my normal style but I found it quite fitting as we’re finishing off midterms and on the cusp of finals season. Yep, the exams and deadlines are here and we’re all in a frenzy of stress, anxiety, and a lack of sleep (which we all know we desperately need). The eyebags are forming, and so is the long, expensive list of Venti Starbucks Nitro Cold Brews, Monsters, and Guayaki Yerba Mates. But to be honest, I just hope you’re all doing okay. Or at least surviving. Anyways, I just thought I’d share some ways to not go completely batshit crazy from all the damn stress you’re probably facing right now. (And trust me, I’m  quite knowledgeable on the subject, as I’m a literal human ball of worry.)

ORGANIZE!

I know this isn’t a fresh, new idea, but it’s honestly the best way to assure you don’t feel as if you’re literally drowning in an ocean of papers, projects, and deadlines. And it’s a lot simpler than it seems — you don’t need to buy an expensive planner or be a bullet journaling master to tackle time management. Simply get a piece of paper (or use your phone notes app if you prefer) and just write out everything that’s stressing you out — all the things you have to do, and when they need to be done by. Literally just spill your brains out onto the page.

By releasing everything from your head to a documented place allows your mind to be relieved from all the pressure of remembering these tasks. Then plug them into your calendar! Plan out the week day-by-day and suddenly your tasks will seem much less daunting: as long as they’re spread out into time chunks — cramming is not the move! 

PRIORITIZE YOURSELF!

Assure you’re keeping your best interests in mind when making decisions. If you know you have a fat paper to write in TWO days that you have yet to start, then it’s probably in your best interest to take up your friend’s last-minute, yet extremely enticing offer to go to that party. Let yourself have enough time to complete your task without the pressure of the deadline waving over your head — pulling an all-nighter while chugging two sour apple reigns from the 7-eleven across the street is not the best situation to be in (coming from personal experience!). Not only can this lead to a mental breakdown (guilty), but it means you’re not doing your best work. But I know you’re still going to procrastinate, so to assure your all-night cram/work session won’t completely destroy your health, make sure you’re taking short breaks in which you leave your workspace and take a stretch or stroll. If you’re going to consume high quantities of caffeine, make sure to balance your water intake with the caffeine (not only will hydrating keep your mind sharp, but it will make the caffeine much more effective and long-lasting). Also, assure you’re eating healthy snacks — some of these could include nuts, berries, granola bars, or yogurt. NO TAKIS. PLEASE.

SLEEP!

Sleep is a precious gift. I know us college kids cherish (and I mean CHERISH) our sleep despite sacrificing it constantly. I know all the doctors tell us we need roughly 8 hours of sleep but honestly, I know I’m not getting it and it’s completely MY FAULT. Sleep is extremely crucial if we want our mental health to be in tip-top shape — one way to combat the lack of sleep I know we all have is by taking power naps. No, not four-hour naps that send us into another dimension of time, I’m talking about 15-20 minute naps in between classes. This short bit of sleep can give you the power to push through the day and be productive when you’re feeling like you can’t keep goin’ anymore. But make sure to be self-disciplined: don’t keep hitting snooze, but give yourself an incentive to get up, such as a good ol’ cuppa joe.

BALANCE YOUR TIME!

One of the most important tips I can give you is to just be self-aware of your productivity. If you know you’re overworking yourself, make sure to give yourself time to relax, let loose, and have fun! Reward yourself for your hard work when you know you deserve it. Make plans with friends or just let yourself sit back and veg on the couch! But this goes both ways: if you know you’ve been slacking a bit and you’re stressed from your lack of productivity in the face of a million daunting tasks, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Beating yourself up and calling yourself a failure isn’t going to do you any good. Remind yourself that you are capable of doing great things, pull your bootstraps on, and get your shit done! Take it little by little, assuring you’re not trying to get too much done in a short period of time. Honestly, the hardest part of doing anything is just starting. Type out that title page, start that outline, pull out that textbook, and break out those highlighters. Tell yourself that the task is NOT bigger than you and that you can take it.

Make sure to stay focused though — as I said before: if you know you haven’t been too productive lately, make sure to be intentional about how you’re spending your time. Don’t lay in bed for six hours if you know you have things to do, even if they’re stressing you out. In the end, your lack of productivity will make yourself feel MORE stressed in the end, and can affect the way you view yourself, which has a direct correlation to the quality of your mental health!

LOVE YOURSELF!

I hope some of these tips help you out. But honestly, give yourself a damn break. You’ve got this! You’re doing great. I know all these things are easier said than done, but just make sure you’re taking it all little by little. It’s not the end of the world if you mess up. We all do it – none of us are perfect students – or perfect people at that. Just try your best, plan as much as you can, and make sure you’re doing everything that’s in your best interest. You’ve made it this far, and honestly, that’s a huge achievement in itself! And as I’m sure you don’t hear this enough, I’m proud of you.

Written by: Olivia Flores
Featured Image: Prescence.io

Electronic House Music: A Concept

In this week’s blog, I am going to focus on my favorite sub-genre of Electronic Dance Music: House Music.

Most of you know of house music from parties, clubs, or festivals. It has a catchy beat that you can’t help bobbing your head or moving your arms to. Others know how to shuffle to this music (I am still learning but I am impressed with everyone who can break out in shuffle).

House music originated in Chicago at a club called The Warehouse in 1977. Frankie Knuckles, who opened The Warehouse, mixed old disco classics and new Eurobeat pop together. Many of these music experiments took place there, and House became the first descendant of disco.

House music is funny to me because there’s usually a couple of words in the song followed by a beat to dance to. It is repetitive, but that’s what makes it fun. It is usually in a range of 115-130 bpm (beats per minute). I know whenever I hear house music in public places, I can’t help but dance to it.

My featured image for this post shows my favorite house DJ, Tchami, during his back to back set with ZHU. This happened this summer at Hard Summer Music Festival. I was in the crowd for this set and it was a huge moment. ZHU and Tchami had never shared the stage before so everyone got to hear their iconic sounds combined.

Tchami usually shares the stage with Malaa, who I saw at EDC Las Vegas last year. I first saw Tchami in 2017 at the Brooklyn Bowl in Las Vegas — I fell in love with house music and I hope to see him five thousand more times.

In this post, I’m going to highlight some of the different types of house music. I will name some artists associated with the each type and some song suggestions to listen to.

Some different types that I am familiar with are Deep House, Bass House, Big Room House, Tech House and Future House.

For some popular house music titles, most of you probably know of these artists and their songs:

Deep House

This type of house music tends to have a lower bpm (around 120 bpm) and has greater influences from soul, jazz, and funk. I intertwine Deep House with Progressive House because they are both very similar. They are closely related to Trance music, as it has long accelerating peaks and troughs that progress throughout the track.

Bass House

Bass house has more baseline while also containing house music elements. It goes much “harder” because of the bass, and is usually around 145-150 bpm.

Big Room House

This is the more mainstream House music. It has lengthy build-ups and releases.

Tech House

This form of house music combines techno styles with house. It has more techno sounding beats with the rhythm of house music. I don’t listen to much tech house but here are some examples I came up with.

Future House

Future house emerged in the United Kingdom around 2010. It fuses deep house, garage house and other elements of electronic music into it. Garage house is known to have pitch-shifted and time-shifted vocals.

These are just a small amount of the many types of House music. This shows how vast the electronic music genre is. I’m still constantly learning about each one and I love to hear the differences. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Written by: Alexandra Gex