Intermission: 60 Days
No new issue this week, just some really good ambient rap
As I am writing these lines, I am preparing for a four-day silent retreat, hosted by a Buddhist center in the mountains of Switzerland. Our days will consist of long units of meditation, interrupted only by lectures and meal breaks. I am doing this at least once a year.
There’s some rules to a silent retreat. First of all, you don’t talk. You don’t use your phone. And this is the hardest one for me: You don’t listen to music. The retreat is designed as a distraction-less time-out from the constant overload of our senses, creating a space for us to look towards the within.
This is why there will be no new Zen Sounds issue this week and I will leave you with something else instead – a link to a hip-hop video.
Some of you know that I dedicated the first ten years of my music writing career to covering hip-hop. Sometimes I get asked if I still listen to rap music at all – the answer is yes, I do listen to copious amounts of it, but steer clear of anything even remotely resembling the dominant mainstream aesthetics. In other words, I haven’t listened to a Drake record in years, but I’m always ready to dissect metaphors on the last billy woods album.
Los Angeles based producer The Alchemist has established himself as a fixture in the alternative rap scene over the past decade, constantly refining his sample-based, hazy and psychedelic sound, experimenting with drumless loops and working with non-conformist rappers like Earl Sweatshirt, Roc Marciano or Armand Hammer.
He also produced one record on rising Bay Area rapper Larry June’s last album, and now the first single from their upcoming collaboration project »The Great Escape« has dropped. It’s called »60 Days«, it features a rare rap part from The Alchemist, and it’s been on constant repeat here this week. June exhibits his signature laid-back flow over an airy, floating instrumental constructed out of a sped-up Jerry Butler/Jerry Peters soundtrack loop. Just the right kind of ambient rap to get us through the last days of winter.
Back to business as usual next week.
© 2023 Stephan Kunze