My Advice

I wrote this a while back, but I thought it was worth sharing. Some words to live by.

There are a few luxuries in life: coffee, wine, food, cigars and whiskey; indulge in them from time to time. Do what you love regardless of what others may think. Make mistakes, but learn from them. Drink a lot of water. Be confident, not arrogant. Practice yoga. Take deep breath’s; they clear the mind. Cost does not matter, but wear nice clothes; when you look good, you feel good and when you feel good you perform at your best. Whatever it is that you do with your time, do it with conviction. Realize that some people you can’t live without can live without you. Stay busy; retirement is the leading cause of death. Educate yourself and others. Learn to let go of the things you can’t control. Love is the single greatest feeling one can experience; cherish and cultivate it. It’s okay to cry. Ask for advice. Inspiration is a fickle thing; take advantage of it when it strikes. Exercise. Anything worth doing is going to be challenging; embrace it. Be patient. Learn to do things on your own. Make sure your relationships are never codependent. Surround yourself with others that inspire and push you to be your best. Don’t settle. Be active. Make jokes. Have thick skin. Wipe front to back. Happiness is a choice. Life is a long road; you should expect potholes and speed bumps. Tell the truth; it’s always easier to remember. Pay attention to the flaws and mistakes of others and make sure you don’t repeat them. Support local business. Make sure to sweat daily. Learn that there is a time for sex and there is a time to make love.  When you love, make sure to do it with all of your heart. Reflect back on the hardships of life to remind you of your perseverance, fortitude and resiliency. Surround yourself with people that build you up, not break you down. Realize that you cannot control the feelings or actions of others. Life is unfair; react accordingly. Shower. Go on walks; they allow you time to reflect. Make sure to make time for yourself. Meditate. Reassure yourself with positive thoughts and words. Give hugs. You are your best friend. Help yourself first; you can’t help others if you aren’t right. Be genuine. Loyalty comes at a premium; stick by those who stick by you. Learn to think for yourself; don’t just believe what others tell you. Question everything; the truth will always have an answer. Work hard. In hard times, remind yourself that it won’t always be this way. Read. Brush and floss your teeth. Make sure to get enough sleep. At the same time, realize that sometimes sleep must be sacrificed in order to accomplish goals. Love animals. Give yourself playtime. Write things down. Stay organized. Get to know someone through the seasons before you marry them. Talk your issues out; never sweep them under the rug, they always resurface. Learn to forgive. Donate your time to a cause. Money is a necessity, but it’s not the only thing. Laugh daily. Allow others to help you in your time of need. It’s okay to be vulnerable. Find an outlet in order to deal with your problems in a healthy way. Spend time in nature. Never underestimate the power of positivity. Love is fragile; make sure to handle it with care. Learn to cook. Experience new things. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone. Pay attention to the world around you. Ignorance is not bliss; it is a disease. Pay back your debts. Be honest, it’s easier to remember the truth. When you have someone’s trust, do everything you can to not lose it. No one is going to agree with you all the time; learn to accept that. Be happy for what others accomplish. Celebrate the little things. Learn to listen before you speak.  Seek to understand. Humility is a rare trait, but is nonetheless admirable. Travel the world. Realize other people have just as unique and amazing stories as you. Remember, everything in moderation. Never miss an opportunity to tell someone you love them. Show your love through actions. Keep a journal. Take pictures everywhere you go. Surround yourself with art. Know when to end a relationship. Don’t burn bridges. Be tough. Anger is toxic and poisons your entire life. Find a passion. Realize if you want to change something, you have to do it yourself. Take care of your possessions. Allow yourself to vent. Smile. Never intentionally hurt someone else, whether it is physically or emotionally. Have the integrity to apologize. Surround yourself with music. Take time to appreciate the beauty around you. Do not allow your past to control or define you. Never hold others to a higher standard than the one you hold for yourself. Don’t give up; your character truly shows during moments of difficulty. Every day is a gift; take advantage of it. Never miss an opportunity to do something amazing. Learn to live without regrets. Think before you act or talk. Take other people’s emotions into consideration. People are always going to judge you; how you react is what you can control. Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Sincerity makes the very least person to be of more value than the most talented hypocrite. Accept that perfection is unachievable. Practice what you preach. Recycle. Always remember who you are and what it is you stand for. There’s a reason it’s called the golden rule; live by it. Be kind.

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RIP To The Real Kony: Biggie Smalls

The King of New York.  Rest in peace to one of the greatest to ever do it.  Ready To Die will be on repeat throughout the day.   A project kid from Brooklyn, with a cassette tape demo without no song structure ended up changed hip-hop forever.  15 years ago today; let this be a lesson that senseless violence only leads to tragedy and heartache.

 

Jeremy Evans in the Dunk Contest.

Much to my delight and due to Knicks rookie Iman Shumpert dropping out, the world will finally be introduced to Utah Jazz second year man Jeremy Evans.  As a die-hard Utah Jazz fan, I have seen the brilliance of Evans (although in insultingly small doses) over the past two seasons.  Dare I say that Jeremy Evans has as much bounce as any player in the league (yes that includes Lebron and Blake Griffin.)  He is an absolute athletic freak!  Jeremy’s field goal percentage is off the charts because all the kid does is DUNK – Whether it be on a lob, a break, drive through the lane or straight over the defender, he elevates and detonates on a regular basis.

I doubt that Evans will actually win the dunk competition, because over the years it has increasingly become a popularity contest.  However, mark my words; the world will know who Jeremy Evans is by the end of the night.  I know it’s wishful thinking, but I hope that Jeremy Evan’s new found popularity will transfer into more minutes on the floor.   I’m really hoping that he is creative, but that is what it’s going to take for him to be successful.   Otherwise, I see him getting the same treatment Demar Derozan received a year ago.

Hats off to both Matt Harpring and Utah Jazz nation, as they’re pleading is a huge reason as to why he is competing.  The #letjeremydunk campaign on Facebook and Twitter definitely paid off.   My money is still on Paul George though.

On a side note, shout out to both Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors for their respective performance in the Rising Stars game last night.  Both had great outings and represented the Jazz well.  The future is bright with both of those kids.  Also, the Jazz were snubbed in the All-Star Game, both Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson were eligible candidates and one of them should have been lacing up to play on Sunday.

Here’s a Jeremy Evans mix that should give you all a preview of what to expect tonight.  I do apologize for the corny editing and sound.

Here’s a mix of Jeremy at the Impact Summer league during the NBA lockout.  Check out some of these put backs!  This kid is a monster!

New Music: Dean Risko Trouble EP + Video

I met Dean Risko a few years ago through some mutual friends and became instantly impressed by him as a person.  He’s intelligent, quick-witted and genuinely one of the nicest guys I have ever come in contact with.   The Johannesburg, South Africa born, Salt Lake City, Utah raised and now Echo Park, Los Angeles residing has released his “Trouble” EP.  Throughout the three songs, Dean weaves together soulful, quasi electro-pop melodies with clever and on point lyricism.  The result is like Motown Records being involved in a head on crash with Def Jam.

One thing that has always resonated with me about Dean is his undeniable hunger for the masses to hear and enjoy his music.   His talent resides in his balance.  Dean is able to stabilize the sing-songy flow without making it sound corny (I’m looking at you Flo-rida, Nelly and Drake) while staying on topic and remaining captivating.

If I had to compare Dean to other artists, it would be a blend of Andre 3000 (circa The Love Below), Justin Timberlake and Mike Posner (only with a better persona and emcee skills).  Plus, he has fantastic taste in production which only helps to elevate his music (the whole EP has a jazzy, electro bounce feel to it)- making it that much more commercially viable.

The first two songs off the Trouble EP were produced by Wesley Thompson (twitter.com/wesismore), another good friend of mine, and a production genius in the making.  I was talking to Wes the other day at a Wale show and he was explaining to me how they spent the better part of a year perfecting this project.  This type of meticulous dedication and hard work has certainly paid off.

Dean’s best attribute is that he has found his own style and voice – an accomplishment 99% of musicians never achieve.  His songwriting is top notch and he has the “it” factor in regards to being able to create a hit song.  Trouble is filled with stories of love, heartbreak, and the roller coaster that is relationships and the chase of that desired woman.  With his aforementioned hunger to succeed and an incredible EP under his belt, it’s only a matter of time until Dean Risko makes that happen.

I’m proud to be able to call Dean my friend; few things make me happier than seeing my friends succeed.

Here is the video for Dean’s lead single “Trouble.”

You can download the Trouble EP at http://deanrisko.bandcamp.com/

Follow Dean Risko on Twitter:  https://twitter.com/#!/DeanRisko

Dean Risko on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/DeanRisko

The Airplane Theory – Help Yourself, First.

A few years ago, I went through a complete life remodeling.  I was in the middle of a divorce with my wife and throughout the breakup, had lost the majority of my possessions.  I was in my last semester of college and was working for the family business while desperately looking for employment in my line of study.   Due to the economy being in the toilet and my lack of experience, I wasn’t having any success.  My emotions were running the gamut from fear and anxiety to depression and self-loathing.   I wasn’t sleeping more than a few hours a night and was becoming increasingly less healthy.  I couldn’t focus on any particular thing and was constantly feeling overwhelmed due to the myriad of emotions and trials I was facing.  I was stuck and had nothing in regards to an exit strategy.

This was of course, until I met my best friend (who has been my girlfriend of over two years), and she shared with me a premise that changed my life.  We call it “The Airplane Theory.”

Now, most of us have been on an airplane.  Before the flight takes off, there is usually a short instructional movie or a presentation given by the flight attendants that explains basic airplane protocol, acceptable behavior and what to do in the event of an emergency.  One of the topics covered in the presentation is what to do if there is a change in cabin pressure – an oxygen mask will drop from the overhead panel.   It is always encouraged to make sure to secure your own mask before trying to help anyone else with there’s.  This same practice is applicable in life.

As a human being it is nearly impossible to help others when your own life is in disorder.  If this is the case, it is imperative to take the necessary time to get yourself healthy and well.  This is not a selfish act; in fact, it’s the best thing that you can do for yourself.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with allowing yourself to become stable once again.  A problem in our society these days is that we spread ourselves too thin and don’t allow for the necessary time to completely recover.  It is important to love and care for yourself and to remember that regardless of everything else, you have to put yourself first.

Coachella 2012.

Last year was my first Coachella experience, and needless to say, it was mind blowing.  Regardless of the heat, being able to immerse myself with friends and that much musical talent was incredible.  The result were some of the best memories of my adult life.  Since I left the Polo Grounds in Indio, California last year, I have been anxiously wanting to go back.

 

A few days ago the 2012 Coachella lineup was announced, there are a lot of bands I have never heard of, but one of the great things about this festival is being able to discover new music.  I’m excited to be able to find out who these bands are, and if there are any suggestions any of you have in regards to bands I should check out that are on the bill, I’d love to hear them.

Bands/emcees/dj’s I’m excited to see: The Black Keys (I saw them last year and was disappointed.  Here’s hoping they put on a better show), Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, LA Riots, R3hab, Afrojack, Swedish House Mafia, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, A$AP Rocky, Santigold, Manchester Orchestra, Miike Snow, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Company Flow, araabMUZIK, DJ Shadow, The Hives, Calvin Harris, Florence and the Machine, At the Drive In, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg (I’ve seen both years ago at the Up in Smoke Tour, but this will be epic.  Hopefully this will be some sort of prequel to an actual Detox album).

The festival is full of surprises, and with this kind of bill, I’m anticipating a few.

There are a few surprises in regards to people I thought would be on the bill – The Beastie Boys, MIA, Danny Brown, Kid Cudi, Lana Del Ray, Bloc Party, Jay-Z and Kanye (especially with both emcees headlining the festival the last two years), Sleigh Bells, The Killers, Chromeo, Ratatat, Tyler the Creator, Skylar Grey, Major Lazer, Little Dragon, Slaughterhouse and Queens of the Stone Age.

Here’s hoping for another mind blowing experience.

Now Reading: “Root for the Villian:” Rap, Bull$hit, and a Celebration of Failure. By: J-Zone

If you were a fan of the East Coast’s Underground Hip-Hop scene in the late 90’s to early 2000’s then you know who J-Zone is. While growing up he immersed himself in funk records, interned for Large Professor and Greg Nice, while praising the misogyny and overall ridiculousness of rappers like Suga Free and Too $hort. His albums (released independently on his Old Maid Enertainment label)  were chock-full of insults, braggadocios rhymes and stories that encapsulated his over the top persona.

In his prime, J-Zone was a sarcastic curmudgeon/American iconoclast as well as a brilliant sample-based producer and hilariously witty emcee.  His style could never be categorized but J-Zone always stayed true to himself regardless of outsiders opinion. His book Root For the Villain: Rap, Bull$hit, and a Celebration of Failure serves as a memoir of his life and times as a hip-hop obsessed kid growing up in Queens, New York and the tale of a producer/emcee who never achieved the level of fame and fortune he desired.

Having left the rap game for over five years, J-Zone has filled his time by writing stories as a sports journalist, teaching and blogging for Ego Trip (a multimedia website that deals mainly with satire, race and hip-hop).   All of which are equally entertaining and hilarious as his music.  Root for the Villain is equal parts a love letter to hip-hop and angry diatribe of the music industry.  The combination makes for an enthralling and spirited read for any hip-hop fan.  I highly recommend picking up a copy.