RadioTrain Ep4: A Reflective Account

RadioTrain Ep4 was (re)uploaded on Sunday 17th September.  Below is a reflective account on the themes, production, and presentation of the show.  Advisory: explicit content.

   Productivity may require an increase in energy in order to ‘Turn Me Up’ in order to utilise such time efficiently.  The song by Ab-Soul speaks with determination, representing the speaker's home town and striving to achieve a better lifestyle through a hungry work ethic.  This is paired with a decisive claim by Kendrick Lamar: "I just gotta be heard which may give the listener some pause for thought on a rewarding activity that is not simply pleasurable but involves putting in great energy in order to get something beneficial out of it.  This is not only speculation if we consider Newton’s third law of thermodynamics:For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  This means that if you want an accolade it has to be earned so “live long and prosper” but by what means?  The next song by Kendrick Lamar offers a sharp contrast between the title of the song ‘HUMBLE.’ and its incredibly champion-esque subject matter and this gasconaded mindset may transfer into a motivation for progression.  This ‘pep in your step’ may likewise be rather useful for growth and maintaining confidence in one’s actions.


Ayy, I remember syrup sandwiches and crime allowancesFinesse a nigga with some counterfeits, but now I’m countin' this / Parmesan where my accountant lives - Kendrick Lamar (HUMBLE.).

   Motivation to work may also be derived from the idea that every moment you live is a defining moment.  For example imagine a person who gets angry at someone for spilling coffee on them in a cafe then, to an honest observer, that is who they are: simply a person who is upset about a fresh stain on their trousers.  This is why a ‘baller’ mentality as advocated in much hip-hop music is useful as it may inspire the listener to behave effectively so as to be a functional figure according to an external point of view.  This application may be derived from the next song ‘Big Fish’ by Vince staples that continues on a vibe similar to Kendrick’s song, not only in tone but also sonically due to both artists each coming out of Los Angeles, California; their respective sounds responding to their shared environment.  As the title may suggest, the speaker is clearly a force to be reckoned with, rapping: Bag back, let me make my bands, got plans / If you hatin' don't shake my hand.  This shows an assurance of being successful and simultaneously disregarding those who may get in the way with negative and counterproductive judgement.  This comparison between poles exemplifies each opposite mindset (creative vs. destructive) by Henry Garlick’s focus on being “hit bad[ly]" by hay fever but not letting that obstruct the course of the show.


"I was up late night balling / So far from my past misfortune- Vince Staples (Big Fish).

   As this current ‘trunk-bumper’ ends, the flat-line-like beeping of ‘RAF’ by the A$AP Mob induces further excitement in respect to constructive artwork but it is also simply an accolade of wealth.  Although it may take a vast amount of effort to succumb to heavy duty cash, the gratification of such a feat may not necessarily lie in its celebration.  Does money matter if you can’t show it off?  If a tree falls…  If you would like to keep your heating on then money certainly is crucial but why do some artists feel the need to constantly tell us about their wealth accumulation?  Is it because they truly make a lot of money or could it perhaps be because people like to hear about it?  Now we are veering into the realms of speculation and it may be argued that listening to music about fulfilling lavish expenses offers a sense of hope to those who are not in the same position due to a lack of preparation and opportunity.  With that in mind, the next song ‘Met Gala’ by Gucci Mane is similarly boastful, individualistically displaying such honours as jewelry, women, and prestige.  So why not pursue such a lifestyle with hard work?


"Parka pockets full of mint leave / Guap is smelling like it brush teeth" - Frank Ocean (RAF)

   A possible argument against this would be that one would miss out on other perhaps more easily accessible pleasures, playing into hands of the never-ending cycle of consumerism.  This activity may be prolonged over a lifetime with little to show for it by the end and therefore being a waste of time.  This is in support for building a skill through innovation and lots of practice rather than being a passive recipient of other's efforts.  However, a profit from productivity is not guaranteed as the universe doesn’t owe you anything and if you’re just pushing a boulder up a hill just to do the same again tomorrow then this may suggest a principle for change.  This means that we ought to choose carefully how we spend our time and ensure that we don’t deviate far from the appreciation of artistry.  How we manage our business may involve being true to oneself as exemplified in ‘SunnyDay’ by Bones: “They swear that they're something different / It's time to hold up the mirror”.  Although this may be referencing those who try to appear to be successful in the music industry by hiring suits for business, booking, etceterathe same may be applied to our surroundings by understanding one’s limitations and challenging one’s own perspective.

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"They were screamin', "Free Gucci", but now that Guwop's free / Blue cheese, no ranch, hunduns on me" - Gucci Mane (Perfect Pint).

   An inclination towards overcoming one’s personal shortcomings is a valid part of producing a sound body of work.  At this point in RadioTrain Ep4, prevailing over drug use may be such an accomplishment and this takes the form of ‘Perfect Pint’ by Mike Will Made-It, which includes the topic of triumphing over opiate addiction.  Although such narcotic use is romanticised by Swae Lee’s slurred vocals Gucci Mane offers a glimpse into the speaker’s own success, defeating stoned idleness: “Now I'm back on top like I'm 'posed to be / But I done poured so many pints that shit got old to me”, nonchalantly dismissing such an achievement as if it were simply boring.  This form of victory is contrasted by the glorification of drug use in the song by Travis Scott as indicated by the pressuring title ‘Drugs You Should Try It’.  The track compares drugs with love, offering a romantic appraisal for each part.  Although it is an effective ballad by its proposal of emotional value, the notion that the speaker is “up all night, from dawn to dusk” suggests that there is little time for getting work done and this therefore contradicts the theme of this weeks review.


The scent of dollars like some crispy garlic golden brown / Addicted but ain't nothing prescripted - Action Bronson (The Rockers)

   Stoicism in the face of what one must do may be essential to progressing readily and this attitude may be summarised by Action Bronson’s self-assured statement of “Problems getting dealt with, never pop shit” in ‘The Rockers’.  In other words doing jobs without complaining is a vital aspect of productivity.  This can even involve a break from skill-based activities and doing mundane tasks like washing up so as to maintain a healthy balance in passages of thinking.  Placing order upon a messy environment may be therapeutic as it allows us to relax and refocus on what matters.  However, in equity to this is the practice of embracing chaos which may also be useful in improving productivity in order to keep the working environment from becoming stale and this may involve socialising after a hard days work for example.  But why do this? What’s the point in not enjoying a pint of lean and working hard when you could also berate your dopamine transmitters and diminish your drive?  The trick may be to maintain a balance between fulfilling both meaningful and meaningless tasks and harmonising this with being friendly at gatherings and unwinding.


"I gotta close the window before I record / ‘Cause New York don't know how to be quiet- A$AP Ferg (Work Remix).

   There seems to be no getting around the fact that putting in hard work is an essential part to developing a transferable skill set. This means that should one want to develop an expertise then they ought to Put in work and not waste time about it; as shown by A$AP Ferg’s ‘Work Remix’.  The track carries an egotistical tone with a ‘star-studded’ list of features who all appear to be highly professional in their approach to both music as well as other forms of getting money.  Some artists exemplify an ability to function while also exploring various dug induced pleasures, like Shippin' units; Captain Kirk / Takin' xannies, poppin' percs, as well as a cavalier style towards firearms: Drivin' by, poppin' nines, Pakistan, Columbine.  A sense of pride in one’s work is also useful for getting it done as shown in ‘Mixtape’ by Chance The Rapper: Am I the only nigga still care [...]”, which also shows a possible frustration towards other people who may complain about working hard.  Such dynamic action most likely comes from a source of motivation as demonstrated by Rae Sremmurd’s ‘Look Alive’.  The track may serve as a tool for the listener to 'wake up and smell the roses' by its upbeat mood and a total commitment to living in the moment.


"We hit the mall and ball, hit the club and spend it all / Now I'm back to Square A with them squares to get off" - Danny Brown (Side B [Dope Song]) {Photography by Brandon Artis}.

   Another track with a similarly sanguine atmosphere is ‘Side B (Dope Song)’ by Danny Brown, featuring ratcheting production and an explicit approach to drugs, sex and partying. A track with a more flattering approach to the ladies is Ab-Soul’s ‘Womanogamy’ which celebrates a love for all women by pairing the imagery of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and sensuality, with the paradoxical subject matter of being faithful to all women.  Both tracks represent a backing for the reward as a result of hard work so one may be free to smell the sage burning as long as the time has been reaped.  The differing concepts of love in these two tracks may be summarised by the contrast This thing called love real hard for me / This thing called love is a God to me in Vince Staple’s ‘745’, ultimately showing that such fanciful discourse is quite distracting.  It may even be the case that both earning money and loving women can be self-deprecating as referenced in Black Hippy’s ‘Vice City’ Big money, big booty bitches / Man, that shit gon' be death of me. This suggests that one ought to practice a resistance to temptation by honing their self-discipline when confronted with manifestations of greed and lust, increasing significant output.  Also a distinction ought to be made here which is that the term ‘bitches’ in this case does not refer to all women but a particular type of women, as summarised by Ab-Soul in ‘Bohemian Grove’: One time for the women /Two times for the ladies / Three times for the bitches”, which praises all of the varying natures of females.


"‘Cause I like girls that like girls that's in love with me / Just promise me you'll remain anonymous / She said am I faithful, I said I'm womanogamous- Ab-Soul (Womanogamy).

   How hard we work may sometimes depend on our environment and class seems to have a large impact on the rappers who tend to speak of their wealth.  This may be due to the idea that it is more difficult to make money if you start in a poorer financial situation and many of these artists discuss a ‘rags to riches’ story.  This means that gaining wealth despite the odds being against them is a recognisable feat and an appraisal of one’s unlikely success is therefore justified and also represents a symbol of hope for those who are yet to make it.  According to Kendrick Lamar in ‘The Heart Part 4’, the discrepancy between rich and poor is due to increase which may result in violence: "The richer the poorer, the bigger the picture / The more blood pours".  This may inspire a sense of urgency in a listener who would like to be similarly fortunate by a compulsion to avoid becoming swallowed up by an unforgiving economy.  It seems as if an accumulation of finances has a correlation with a sense of freedom and more money seems to have a positive impact in an ability to do whatever one pleases.  This in itself may also be an effective source of motivation by avoiding the possibility of failure and aspiring to a greater level of well-being.  In aiming to achievediamonds on [your] bank account you may find that you may not necessarily reach the same level as many of the artists in this playlist despite having done a similar amount of work. This may be due to a lack of luck but regardless you are more likely to be in an improved situation than one that is without hard work.  Hopefully, one day you can look back on such a valuable time and say that I came, I saw, I conqueredinstead of having squandered each moment.  Good luck.

Henry Garlick