Symptoms of Systems (2020)

For much of 2019, I was working on an album that was a much more straight forward hip-hop album than Origins was. By the time 2020 came around, I had all of the beats made, all of the lyrics written, and the only thing I needed to figure out was how to record the vocals. I no longer had a place to record at work so I resorted to experimenting with a dynamic microphone in the 175 sf studio apartment I was living in. This whole process (and album) was derailed, however, when the Coronavirus Pandemic hit. 


In early March, I had just finished recording a song in my apartment when my throat started feeling scratchy. This escalated to a dry cough the next day, which escalated to a really bad headache a couple days later, which eventually escalated to extreme fatigue and me basically being bed ridden for over a week. I'm pretty sure I had coronavirus, especially since my apartment did not have a kitchen and I had to eat out for every single one of my meals leading up to this pandemic (we will never know for sure though since the archaic U.S. healthcare system did not have any tests available at that time). I eventually recovered but even then, I could not leave my tiny ass apartment due to a) the need for me to self quarantine from everyone else and b) the fact that literally everything had shutdown. The only fun thing I could do during this period of time is sit on my bed and make beats.

When I started making these beats, I had no intention of releasing them and their sole purpose was to help me cope with being trapped in a dark kitchenless walk-in closet with no human contact for almost two months. Because of this, I embraced a DAW-less, sampler-based workflow over the complicated, detailed-oriented, and often stress-inducing computer workflow that I used on previous projects. This resulted in me making beats so frequently that I unintentionally documented my entire lock-down experience in the form of music. By the time I moved to a new place in Long Beach in May, I decided that I was going to release an instrumental album consisting of these quarantine beats in lieu of the album I had started in 2019. This is largely because of the influence that J-Dilla's Donuts had on me while I was sick and quarantined in my old "apartment." I continued making beats in Long Beach until the Black Lives Matter protests took off in late May. Due to the effect that these protests had on my mindset and priorities, I decided that it was a good time to bring this album to a close and turn my attention to other projects.

Even though this is an instrumental album with relatively short tracks, I think it's just as worthy of a listen as Origins. All of the songs are in chronological order so the sonic narrative has been naturally constructed by what I was witnessing or experiencing over that three month time period. I did not use a computer to make any of these songs, they were all made with an SP-404a, SP-202, and sometimes a Korg Volca FM.

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