"What about black on black crime..."

From time to time, when I bring up matters of police brutality on social media, I’ll receive a comment like, "What about black on black crime?” A question I've come to ignore on the basis that it does nothing to actually advance the conversation about police misconduct. 

What makes police brutality of greater concern and different than civilian (non-police) criminality is power, a power afforded to a select group within our society. When it is abused relationships breakdown. It is betrayed trust. Citizens who murder other citizens are not acting from positions of power and authority within a community. They are caught, arrested, tried and incarcerated for their crimes. Justice is served. There is a sense of powerlessness that is felt when those who have authority over you exploit their power and abuse rather than do good. When agents of the state continually abuse their power without consequence that is a cause for outrage. Law enforcement is there to enforce the law fairly and without partiality. They have branded themselves as those who "serve and protect" but the question is, serve and protect whom? The public or the shield? The public’s taxes pays their salary. In addition, we (the public)  pay millions of dollars every year in police misconduct settlements and court judgments. 

Within a social structure an officer shooting an unarmed black man is not the same as a black man shooting another black man. Death is horrific. Existentially, yes both are horrendous as both situations involves the perishing of people bearing God’s imprint. But systemically they have different effects. Particularly within the context of a country with a long arch of systematic racism and racial injustice towards black and brown people of color.

We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. — Martin Luther King Jr. I Have a Dream, delivered 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

New Music

New Music: Andy Mineo, LEVV, and Marty

Some friends dropped new music today. Make sure you pick up these records! Good music is worth it.

Andy Mineo drops this 3rd single off of his Sophomore album Uncomfortable, produced by Black Knight and !llmind.

iTunes: New Single: Andy Mineo - Know That's Right

 

LEVV is a new collective but seasoned artists. Half of LEVV is the amazingly talented singer-songwriter Audrey Assad.

iTunes: New EP: LEVV — Strange Fire

One half of Social Club drops his new EP produced by the boy Wit. HEAT.

iTunes: New EP: Marty — Marty for President

Lecrae x Tori Kelly x Give In

Nashville, TN. June 16th, 2015. Where I Belong tour.

As a music producer, you work endless hours crafting and perfecting your sound with very little expectations  as to where the song will go. At the moment, it is just you and an audio form. It's about a groove and feel. You're entire being is locked into that precise moment of creation. I remember the excitement surrounding Lecrae's new album. I had submitted a ton of tracks and he had recorded to a couple. This process can be very draining as you work through the uncertainty of whether your song will ever see the light of day.

One night I walked into the studio and joined a symphony of producers knocking out tracks for Anomaly. My good friend and fellow producer, Gawvi asked me if could work on the drums for this track he had begun. I felt the pressure. I needed to knock it out of the park. I wanted to be on the album. Gawvi played me what he had worked on and 10 seconds into it I knew where I needed to take it. The foundation he laid was masterful. It was the perfect alley-oop. I just needed to finish the play. He e-mailed the track and I walked over to a secluded area, put my headphones on, opened up FL Studio, and went to work. Not much has changed since I began making beats in my parents home at 17. Wav after wav, kick after kick, I searched for the right sounds. 35 minutes later, I had it! I called over Gawvi, played him what I had worked on and he loved it. Slam dunk.

Fast forward to the video above...Watching Tori Kelly, who is arguably the biggest new artist in the music industry, sing a record you produced is quite an amazing feeling. Tori has been a fan of the 116 movement for quite some time now. It was dope to go to her show and hear music I've produced play all throughout her pre-show and transitions. Many times the journey is uncertain, you never know what life your work will take on or where it will go, but you keep working for the love it, just because. Providentially many amazing moments have happened throughout my career as a producer, but each moment is brand new. Each moment feels like I am back at my parents place framing the first check I ever received for making a beat. I hope I never get used to this  and that it never gets old.

Waves & Tanks

A day in Santa Monica with photographer-friend, Ray Spears, produced some new tanks for 116. 

I was standing on the boardwalk people watching and capturing some shots with my iPhone 6 when I looked over to see a kid take on an upcoming wave with no one around him. It was such a striking moment. The anticipation. The moment of tension before the crash, an abandonment of all reservations because there's no where else to go. It's not about being fearless but rather embracing the fear and in that fear finding safety. 

Here is the original and unedited shot: 

Shot by Alex Medina on iPhone 6

Final edited shot: 

Shot by Alex Medina on iPhone 6 

This is my favorite tank. 

Photography by Ray Spears

I also designed this Unashamed mark for the collection.

Find these tanks and more at the Reach Records Storefront.

Made with Sound Library One

There are so many talented people out there. Love that social media is way for us to connect. I have been overwhelmed by the response from producers to Sound Library One. I am glad it can help elevate their production. Many have already sent over what they have made using the kit. Here are some examples:

 

Produced by Nick Terlizzi

 

Produced by  Evan Stepper

 

Here's a track I started using the kit to show off it's sounds! 


More info on Sound Library One:

Sound Library One c/o Alex Medina (Drum Kit)

Sound Library One c/o Alex Medina is the beginning.

100 .WAV sounds consisting of 808s, Drum Loops, Hi Hat Loops, Kicks, Percussion, Snares, Synths, and Custom Vocal Samples. Here are the tools, now let's make new things. 

File Size: 163MB

Add to Cart

Photography

Google Photos is the best free solution to manage your photos

Google released, Photos, an app to help you manage and store all of your photos for free. I've been using it and it's been pretty great thus far. It has automatically created stories of different trips and also combines relative photos to create gifs. I love me some gifs. 

Took these shots of Andy Mineo, Gawvi and pup while we were working on new music with Andy. Google Photos put them together to create this gif. 

Took these shots of Andy Mineo, Gawvi and pup while we were working on new music with Andy. Google Photos put them together to create this gif. 

Google Photos will save a unlimited hi-res version of your photos. They can save original photos but that will cost you space and money. I take a lot of pictures and I've tons of services and this is by far the best solution. 

Check out Google Photos.


The Content of a Christian’s Art

For almost 10 years I’ve been deeply involved, as an artist/producer/designer, in an amazing movement of Christians who create Hip-Hop and Rap music. Due to recent success many within the movement have feared that some are shrinking back from the original mission. But I see a bigger issue at hand. Those who have been instrumental in shaping the foundation of Christians who create and/or produce rap music, have not been helpful from the beginning of the movement in laying a proper whole life theology of art. Out of our zeal we have only given merit and value to things that are evangelistic or seeking to communicate Christian doctrine. Only then have we labeled it to be “Christian” when in reality Christianity is “not just involved with ‘salvation’ but with the total man in the total world,” as Francis Schaeffer would say. In writing this I seek to help fellow Christian’s think biblically, balanced and clearly about this issue.

God is a creator-God, so as image bearers of God, we create. From the beginning of time we see that not all of God’s creations were what we would consider “religious” in nature. Genesis 2:9 tells us, “And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food.” God created trees not just for utilitarian purposes but also for pleasure and aesthetic enjoyment. God did not feel the need to justify his creation by making it into the shape of a cross. Trees have the function of providing food and also providing beauty. The first poem we read in Scripture is found in Genesis 2:23, when the first man, Adam says to Eve, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Adam created this poem prior to the fall, prior to sin entering the world and contaminating everything. In humanity’s purist state until this point, what we get is a love song. The book Song of Solomon, is romantic poetry and sexual in nature written to express love within a covenant relationship. Although many will see this book as an allegory it still reads the way it reads. “Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle” (7:3). This poem is very Christian even without explicitly pointing to redemptive history and the Messiah. In our present framework this would not be considered a Christian art or get played on “Christian” radio station, but in all reality this is very Christian. If a Christian were to make an entire album in the same vein as the Song of Solomon, we should be able to enjoy and glorify God with our wives for it.

An issue I have seen is the equating of rap to a pastor’s preaching ministry or a Christians task of evangelizing. I recently spoke to Sho Baraka on the issue and he shared, “The problem is that we have created a theological truth from cultural and systematic preferences. So now hip hop is an office in the church and not a vocation or art. We first must start here before we can move forward. Its something we’ve all been guilty of implying in one way or another.” Seeing rap as the office of preaching and evangelism is inconsistent and creates unfortunate problems when a Christian desires to make music that’s less revealing.

In his book Art and The Bible Francis Schaeffer shares, “A Christian should use these arts to the glory of God, not just as tracts, mind you, but as things of beauty to the praise of God. An art work can be a doxology in itself…The Christian message begins with the existence of God forever, and then with creation. It does not begin with salvation. We must be thankful for salvation, but the Christian message is more than that. Man has a value because he is made in the image of God.” One thing we do not want to do in this conversation is pass personal preferences and methods as Biblical demands. There is a wide spectrum as to how a Christian is to approach the arts. My desire in this is to provide a balanced and what I see to be a more Biblical perspective of a Christian’s approach to the arts that does not lay a law or burden on fellow brothers because their music is not evangelistic. Art can still be Christian and it not be evangelistic.

When we only recognize art as being distinctly Christian when it is preaching the gospel, a Christian who is not looking for selfish-gain and desires to make music that is less explicit is seen as shrinking back from their faith. A Christian who desires to make an entire album about nature, beauty, and social justice is not being unfaithful to the Gospel of Christ. They need no justification to create art. They are free to create art about anything and everything that belongs to their God, which is everything.

In saying all of this, I am not saying that Gospel intentionality in your music is not valuable or the old way of approaching rap. What I am saying is that not only music that explicitly shares the gospel is Christian. For those who’s desire to do music to teach Biblical doctrine and share how man is to be saved, continue to do so! For those who desire to make metaphorical art deriving from God’s created order, trust the Holy Spirt, write good music and don’t lose sleep. The goal is mutual appreciation for distinct approaches and philosophies. We need Christians artist writing about special revelation and general revelation. Songs about the misfortunes of life, the genocides in Africa, love, and the human experience can all be helpful in pricking the conscious of the listener and making them ask greater questions. Also, simply the enjoyment of humanity at large. Creating honest work, truthful work, beautiful work is not anti-Gospel but springs from the Gospel message of Christ reconciling the world back to himself through his life, death, and resurrection.

To close, the scriptures do not lay a demand on what art you are to make but they do on the content of your life and heart, which is an even greater demand. So anything done for selfish gain or sinful motive, whether that is speaking ill of someone in order to get a promotion, or changing your music solely for the acceptance of people and accolades that is not living out of a new regenerated heart. Ultimately, the Christian’s life is tethered by love (Luke 10:27, Galatians 5:14) , one cannot sin against God, neighbor or conscious. A Christian should also be plugged into a local body of believers and seeking to make disciples as Christ has commanded but has freedom under the leading of the Holy Spirit and God’s word to create as they may see fit. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).”