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Updated: 2 hours 57 min ago

Young Voters Divided on Impeaching Trump

May 2, 2019 - 12:36pm

With the Mueller report out and some leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates calling for impeachment, young people remain mixed on whether to remove President Donald Trump from office.

Many progressives are still set on impeaching the president.

“Impeachment is most definitely justifiable,” Devon Bradley, who serves as vice president of the D.C. College Democrats, told YR Media.

Bradley points to Trump’s initial reaction to the probe as evidence of the president’s guilt.

“Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m fucked,” Trump said when he learned Mueller had been appointed to investigate him.

“Not a single innocent soul would ever utter these words,” Bradley says, adding, “It is imperative for Congress to pursue impeachment.”

Trump backers largely remain opposed.

“The Democrats need to accept defeat and start working for their constituents rather than trying to delegitimize the President,” Manny Jones, the co-chairman of the Pennsylvania Federation of College Republicans, said. “This investigation has gone on for far too long.” 

Manny’s views echo what conservatives of all ages have been thinking for some time. An NPR/PBS/Marist poll from December 2018 found that 71 percent of Republicans saw the Mueller probe as a “witch hunt.”

Many students, on the left and the right, aren’t so sure what to do or think.

“I have so many conflicting thoughts about what they should do,” said Jasmeen Pooni, a junior at UCLA.

On one hand, she likes the no-nonsense standard that impeachment proceedings would set. But on the flip side, she doesn’t know if it’s worth it at this point.

“I feel like Trump has already served almost three years and we haven’t been able to get him out of office,” Pooni said. “Maybe we should focus on getting him out of the office in the 2020 election.”

That’s also what Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard is saying. The U.S. Representative from Hawaii told Fox News in an April 21 interview that she does not support impeachment.

“I think it’s really important for us, in this country, to come together and have the American people vote to take Donald Trump out of office in 2020,” she said.

A lot of the frontrunners in the 2020 presidential race, however, are giving the go-ahead on impeachment. Elizabeth Warren was the first to advocate impeachment proceedings, and others are following.

Kamala Harris, in her CNN town hall on April 22, came out in favor of impeachment. Pete Buttigieg says he thinks the president “deserves to be impeached.” And Julián Castro recently also announced his support for impeachment proceedings.

But some young voters are saying there just isn’t enough evidence for impeachment right now.

“The obstruction case isn’t strong enough,” Azam Janmohamed, a student at Stanford University who identifies as left-leaning, said. “Even if the House draws up the articles of impeachment, it’ll be portrayed as a partisan circus that will only serve to undermine what is already low public faith in our political institutions.”

Kevin Xiao, a Republican but not a Trump backer, doesn’t believe there’s “legal basis for impeaching the president” based on the report. But he also doesn’t take issue with further investigation.

“I don’t see any problem with the House and Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees continuing their investigations into the 2016 election, as long as the scope of their investigation remains within reason instead of a political wild goose chase,” Xiao told YR Media.

He emphasized that these investigations shouldn’t be a priority for the legislature. “I don’t think that the investigations should take center stage in any way politically; Congress has the ability to do multiple things at once,” he said.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has signaled opposition to impeachment at this moment. But even if the House does choose to begin impeachment proceedings, young people have made it clear that the Mueller report is not the biggest issue for them in 2020.

The post Young Voters Divided on Impeaching Trump appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

What You Should Know About Julian Assange

May 1, 2019 - 2:10pm

This week WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who spent almost seven years in London’s Ecuadorian embassy under political asylum, will face an extradition hearing that could send him from England to the United States.

(In case you are wondering, that case is separate from the one resulting in Assange’s 50-week jail sentence for skipping bail.)

Just who is Assange? What charges does he face? Why is he hated by many and seen as a hero by others?

Who Is Julian Assange?

Assange got his start as a hacker, a background which almost certainly plays into the charges he’s being brought up on, and had a career that has seen him doing everything from developing open source software to helping police hunt child pornographers. But he’s best known as being a thorn in the side of governments, particularly the U.S. government, thanks to WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks and Why It Matters

Pretty much since its start, Assange has been the face of WikiLeaks, a website that began as clearinghouse for documents leaked by anonymous sources. WikiLeaks has been the distribution point for a number of significant document leaks over the years.

The site first rose to prominence with the video which became known as “Collateral Murder,” depicting unarmed men being killed by U.S. military forces in Iraq, and related material allegedly leaked to the site by Chelsea Manning. The scandal that followed made Assange and WikiLeaks the target of the U.S. government’s ire. The material itself altered the discussions around the war.

Assange: Hero or Villain?

After the “Collateral Murder” video leaked, and in the wake of WikiLeaks’ aiding of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden — who revealed the depths of government surveillance programs — Assange was viewed as a champion of transparency by some and a dangerous radical element by others.

His personal credibility came under fire in 2010 after allegations of sexual assault and rape emerged in Sweden. Assange contended at the time that the allegations were an attempt to make him vulnerable to extradition to the United States. He sought and was granted asylum by Ecuador in 2012 seeking to avoid extradition to Sweden on the rape charges. The charges were later dropped.

In 2016, WikiLeaks became part of firestorm of the U.S. presidential campaign when it released emails from the Democratic National Committee. In a bit of irony, Assange’s own communications with Donald Trump Jr. and others were leaked, wherein it can be seen that Assange was seeking to curry favor with the future President’s son. There are those in the American intelligence community that hold that WikiLeaks was used as a pawn by the Russian government during the election.

While Assange and the American intelligence community have never been friendly, the twists and turns in his story have led him to be alternately vilified and praised by those on the left and right in the United States.

Assange’s April Arrest

Let’s clear something up: Assange was forcefully expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London once they revoked his asylum. It’s reported that tensions were high between the embassy staff and Assange. The President of Ecuador referred to the WikiLeaks frontman as “discourteous and aggressive” and cited hostile declarations by WikiLeaks as part of the cause for expelling him in a video address. President Lenín Moreno also noted that Assange violated the terms of his asylum by “interfering in internal affairs of other states.”

Upon expulsion, Assange was arrested in London on April 11th for jumping bail on the assault charges, for which he has now been sentenced to 50 weeks in jail. But the charges Assange faces related to his extradition hearing on May 2 have nothing to do with those charges or the 2016 campaign.

The Charges & What They Mean for Journalism

The United States is looking to extradite Assange on hacking charges related to the Collateral Murder/Chelsea Manning leak. The claim is that Assange encouraged Manning to go further than she would have otherwise, and that Assange essentially assisted in accessing the materials, and didn’t just play a passive role as receiver of the leaks.

In a statement the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit that concerns itself with freedom of speech issues involving the internet says:

“While the indictment of Julian Assange centers on an alleged attempt to break a password — an attempt that was not apparently successful — it is still, at root, an attack on the publication of leaked material and the most recent act in an almost decade-long effort to punish a whistleblower and the publisher of her leaked material.”

If Assange is extradited to the United States and the government were to win its case in court, there’s a very good chance that such a judgement would have a chilling effect on whistleblowers in this country. The fear is that a ruling against Assange on these charges would set a precedent that could then be used as a weapon against the press.

The post What You Should Know About Julian Assange appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Ryan Turner: From Drug Dealer to Community Healer

April 30, 2019 - 11:27am

By Asani Shakur

This story was originally published on Richmond Pulse.

When I read Robert Greene’s book “48 Laws of Power” and his Law 25 (re-create yourself), it reminded me of my childhood friend Ryan Turner.

We both grew up in South Richmond. Although we were from opposite sides of the tracks, we still managed to foster a friendship through school and sports. Growing up, Turner and I both played basketball, and sometimes I would kick it at Turner’s house before games.

My first time at his house, I remember being in his living room and noticing a picture of him and then-Michigan State star Mateen Cleaves. Seeing the two of them together in a picture, both in basketball attire, I instantly wondered how he got Cleaves to train him and realized I was going to have to work harder to improve my own basketball skills.

Turner came around the corner, looking at me with a smile as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge, nodding his head as if he heard my thoughts.

So like many young black men growing up in the inner city, we had dreams of making it to the NBA. The dream of “balling” in the NBA, however, was soon replaced with the dream of “balling” in the streets by selling drugs.

Unfortunately, the dream of street-balling for Turner came to end in 2009, when the FBI arrested him on drug charges. Around this same time, I too was in federal prison. When guys who came from the prison Turner was in came into the yard of the prison I was in, they would provide me with information on how he was doing. He was focused on bettering himself by conditioning his mind through reading, along with staying physically healthy.

“Being from the Rich, I witnessed the tearing down of our (city recreational gyms), which lead to an increase in violence,” Turner said. “In prison, I learned how chronic illness has taken more lives than black-on-black violence.”

As Turner began to formulate his plans for success after prison, he asked himself, “In what ways can I help strengthen the very same community I had once weakened, using what I already know?”

Being a former athlete, for him, the solution was simple: becoming a physical fitness trainer. But Turner did not want to be the average trainer working in a commercial chain gym, nor a social media fitness model. He felt compelled to provide something more authentic to his community.

“My vision was to place a gym in the community that can become disease and violence-free, with the hopes of my gym becoming the pillar to the community for positive and healthy living,” Turner said.

Turner discovered that people of color face higher rates of Type 2 diabetes — 77 percent for African Americans and 66 percent for Latinos — obesity, stroke, heart disease and cancer than white and Asian Americans. He noticed that living in poverty manifested into an unhealthy community plagued by chronic illness.

Richmond has long been associated with violence, poor education and poverty. And its poor reputation doesn’t stop there. The city is also known as a “food desert,” which the U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies as a low-income community that is more than a mile away from a major grocery store. About one-third of Richmond residents fall into that category. Making matters worse, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, where community residents could access health and wellness resources, closed in 2010.

After being released from federal prison in 2012, Turner returned home to Richmond. He wasted no time in developing his mission.

In 2015, after earning his personal trainer’s certification, Turner started Authentic Fitness with the goal of providing affordable rates to low-income residents. He started with a small 650-square-foot gym in El Sobrante, later transforming the historic 2,500-square-foot Road Runners building into a health and wellness facility located in South Richmond.

Upon one of my many visits to the gym, a client said she had been diagnosed with hypertension. After not getting the results she needed from her medication and having a sister who had a stroke at the age of 40, she felt the need to make a change with her health. She heard about Turner and Authentic Fitness through word of mouth and decided to give it try. She has now been a member for six months.

The woman said what she enjoys most about working with Turner is “his patience and level of encouragement.” She also said, “He is a natural teacher and is flexible by working around my work hours.”

Turner has worked with other clients who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, to name a few. He also specializes in strength and conditioning, and fitness programs such as dance, boxing, and core and toning classes.

Along with the health benefits Authentic Fitness offers, it also provides a safe space and positive energy to its members. Its street-art painted walls include sayings such as, “If you knew better, you do better” to remind its members to keep pushing towards a healthier lifestyle.

“Hard work, dedication, and perseverance, can take you anywhere you want to be in life,” Turner said. “This is also to show the youth that whatever you want to do, you can be successful at it and it doesn’t have to be in the same direction as everyone else.”

He says the reward comes when he knows he’s saving someone’s life.

“When I can train the kids of our friends who have died and I can see the tears of joy from my clients when we reverse their hypertension and no longer have high blood pressure or dismantling obesity, [that] all really brings me a warm feeling at heart.”

Turner left the community a drug dealer and returned home as a community healer.

The post Ryan Turner: From Drug Dealer to Community Healer appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

5 Albums You Need to Listen to This Week

April 29, 2019 - 4:19pm

There’s nothing like getting to listen to new releases from some of our favorite artists. If you want to go to all the parties with a playlist that is fully stocked with new music to show off to your friends — look no further. Last Friday we got new releases from the likes of Rico Nasty, Hannah Cohen and The Internet’s Matt Martians. With such a wide range, we’re confident that you’ll find something you’ll love on this list.

Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats – Anger Management

If you’re getting ready to rage at a party, Rico Nasty’s “Anger Management” is the project you’ll want to listen too. “Anger Management” marks Rico’s second release under her deal with Atlantic Records and is wholly produced by Kenny Beats. The project comes in at a short 18 minutes, with features from Baauer, EarthGang, and Splurge, how could you NOT rage? KENNNNNNNYY!!!!

Song to Check Out: Rico Nasty & Kenny Beats ft. Splurge – Mood

Hannah Cohen – Welcome Home

The Bay Area native, Hannah Cohen, is back to releasing music. Hannah has been quiet since her last album, “Pleasure Boy,” which was released in 2015. This record comes at the right time for those needing to escape. Hannah’s lush vocals and sweet melodies are sure to take you away to that dream-like world.

Song to Check Out: Hannah Cohen – This Is Your Life

Kevin Abstract – ARIZONA BABY

At the beginning of April, Kevin Abstract tweeted that he wanted to release as much music as possible, and he delivered. After dropping a string of EPs, “ARIZONA baby” and “Ghettobaby,” Kevin dropped the full album under the name of “ARIZONA BABY” that contains both “Ghettobaby” and “ARIZONA Baby,” plus six additional songs. Kevin makes a statement with witty-yet-introspective lyrics, and themes ranging from sexuality and self-awareness. If you want to take a joyride to self-discovery, then “ARIZONA BABY” is right up your alley.

Song to Check Out: Kevin Abstract – Peach

Matt Martians – The Last Party

The last time anyone heard from Matt Martians was in 2018 when he released “Hive Mind” as part of The Internet. However, as a solo artist, the last time we heard from him was in 2016, with his debut album, “The Drum Chord Theory.” Seeing that The Internet has taken a drastically different turn in their music, it’s going to be interesting to see what Matt Martians has in store for his solo work, and from the sound of the album’s single, “Knock Knock,” “The Last Party” seems like it’s sure to delight.

Song to Check Out: Matt Martians – Pony Fly

ScHoolboy Q – CrasH Talk

If you feel like you’ve been waiting for ScHoolboy Q to drop another album, you’re not alone. The rapper has been missing from action since 2016, ensuring that this next project is going to be something special. CrasH Talk is chock-full of artists like Travis Scott and Boi1da, and introspective lyrics, ensuring this album has a spot on everyone’s shuffle this week.

Song to Check Out: ScHoolboy Q – CrasH

Also, honorable mention, our queen (Beyonce) put Lemonade on all major streaming platforms. 

The post 5 Albums You Need to Listen to This Week appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

5 Things You Missed in Music Business News

April 29, 2019 - 2:56pm

Things are constantly changing in the landscape of the music industry and it’s important to stay on top of trends and news updates, especially as an independent artist. We’ve got you covered with a weekly recap of the top stories you need to know.

New Bieber Music OTW

After a two-year hiatus from any performances, Justin Bieber hit the stage with Ariana Grande during her Coachella set. He also announced that he’s working on a new album. New Bieber coming soon for the Beliebers!

YNW Melly Facing Death Penalty

Melly originally made his way into the mainstream with the release of his top tracks “Murder On My Mind” and “Mixed Personalities,” which featured Kanye West. But recently the 19-year-old rapper has been atop headlines since news dropped that he was allegedly involved in the double murder of two of his friends. It has been reported that the young artist is facing the death penalty for his actions.

Nicki Minaj Linking Up with Chris Brown for Summer Tour

They’re baaaaack. Nicki Minaj and Chris Brown are kicking off summer 19’ with a tour! Chris Brown confirmed the announcement with an IG story post. The Queen of Rap and the King of R&B paired together live should be interesting. We’re all here for it.

Jonas Brothers Back on Top!!!

The Jonas Brothers are back!!! Who would’ve thought the pop trio would make a comeback? They now hold the #1 spot on Top 40 radio for their single “Sucker.” The single is also in the Top 10 on iTunes and Spotify’s global charts.

Hulu, Netflix, and More on the Hook for Fyre Fest Documentaries

Hulu, Netflix, Stubhub, and more have been hit with subpoenas for using uncleared “insider” footage for their Fyre Fest documentaries. Although they are pending, the subpoenas are in the $10 million range and rising.

The post 5 Things You Missed in Music Business News appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Advice from a Freshman with Autism on Making Friends in College

April 29, 2019 - 2:11pm

I’m on the autistic spectrum, and I’m about to finish my first year of college. College is difficult for everyone, but especially for people whose brains work a little differently than everyone else.

Most of my classmates are neurotypical folks. Meanwhile, I have Asperger’s, a relatively minor version of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Throughout my life, I’ve also had the benefit of a lot of professional help overcoming my challenges. Even so, I entered college with the knowledge that making friends would be my most difficult task outside of academics. But I knew that in order to be happy in my new environment, I needed to form meaningful friendships. Here’s what I learned about making friends in school:

1. Join clubs that pique your interest

Clubs and organized activities provide a structure. Also, because clubs bring together students who share a common interest, the people who you have absolutely nothing in common with are filtered out. And while approaching people is always a daunting task, knowing that you share a common interest means that the two of you will have something to talk about. Clubs have another great advantage: often they have recurring activities. Meaning, even if you are unable to exchange contact information the first time you click with someone, you will be able to see them on a regular basis.

This is a great opportunity to try new things, as well as meet people. For example, I joined a Dungeons and Dragons campaign this year. I had never played DND before. It gave me the chance to try something that I had been curious about for a long time.

2. Embrace the differences between you and other people

Your friends don’t need to be other people with ASD for you to get along. Having friends with different life experiences, perspectives and cultures is a wonderful way for you to learn about both yourself and the world. They probably have a different perspective on life, and it will be fun for the two of you to compare and contrast your respective experiences and ideas. If you enjoy someone’s company, then you should not discount them simply because you have differing temperaments. Having neurotypical friends also forces you to use and practice your social skills.

3. Understand your limits

Socializing requires a lot of work for folks with Asperger’s, because we tend to fixate on aspects that others find intuitive. I encourage those of you with ASD to stay true to the introvert you are and give yourself plenty of time to unwind when you feel you need it.

College is even exhausting for neurotypical people (although both the academic and social systems are built for them) — so you can imagine how that gets magnified if you have ASD. It is important to maintain your friendships, but remember that academics and your mental health come first. It is perfectly fine to occasionally skip an outing because you feel drained or have too much homework. If you are forcing yourself to socialize when you are extremely strained, you will not be the best version of yourself. You need to find a balance between challenging yourself to socialize, and giving yourself a break.

4. Be authentic

Do not attempt to be someone you are not for the sake of fitting in better. You only have one life and your goal should be to live the best life possible. If you do not make friends as your authentic self, but as some persona you created in your head, you will eventually feel as if you’re living a lie. This is stressful, and it will not bring you relationships which nurture you or bring you happiness.

If people do not like you for who you are, then there is no reason you should have them around. This is different from friends who will point out when you need to improve, which is often the marker of a good friend. But keep in mind that this world is full of judgmental people who do not accept differences. I have found that the best way to avoid such people is to be my authentic self and speak my mind.

The post Advice from a Freshman with Autism on Making Friends in College appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

I Want Move Out for College but My Parents Are Reluctant

April 28, 2019 - 8:00am

My parents taught me that family comes first. Family sticks together. But it’s hard to hold onto these values as I get ready for college.

I come from a large, traditional Latino family. Family unity is ingrained in our culture. We’re expected to live with our parents until we get married. No exceptions. Relatives who step away from these traditions are seen as selfish.

I’m looking at local colleges, and I plan on living on campus. When I told my parents that I want to move out, they were upset. “No. Are you crazy?” They said. They even bought me a car to get to and from school, in attempt to keep me at home longer.

I love my parents and I appreciate the values they have taught me. I realize that moving out at age 19 is an American value. But it’s one I want to embrace. I see it as a part of growing up and becoming independent. Moving out won’t mean that I love them any less or that I’ll stop visiting.

I hope they can see this move as me taking initiative in my education and not as a selfish gesture.

The post I Want Move Out for College but My Parents Are Reluctant appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Five Things You Should Know About the Flint Water Crisis

April 26, 2019 - 11:57am

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the Flint water crisis and many residents still don’t trust that they have clean water.

In case you don’t remember the details, here’s a quick recap: in April 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan switched its water supply from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department to the Flint River and there have been problems ever since. Residents complained about the taste, smell and discolored appearance of the water.

It was later discovered that lead began seeping from pipes after the city made the switch to the Flint River for drinking water without properly treating it to minimize corrosion. With more than 100,000 people exposed to tainted water, a federal emergency was declared in 2016.

But if you don’t live in Michigan like I do, here are some facts you need to know about the Flint water crisis.

Many Flint residents still don’t trust the water

While the city has replaced water lines after lead was discovered in 2015, many residents still don’t trust the drinking water.

As government officials say that lead levels are lower than ever, citizens still complain about discolored water, hair loss, rashes and physical illness due to lead exposure. Many still rely primarily on bottled water.

New water projects

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently awarded Flint $77 million for infrastructure improvements. The money will fund a secondary water source pipeline and a water quality monitoring panel, among other things that government officials say will enhance the city’s water distribution system.

Water movement led by local residents

LeeAnne Walters was one of the first activists to start investigating the lead levels after the city tested the water supply in 2015. Later that year, Walters collected over 800 water samples and found lead levels more than twice the level the EPA classifies as hazardous waste.

After presenting her findings, Gov. Rick Snyder signed legislation to reconnect Flint back to Detroit’s water supply. Walters continues her advocacy through the organization she founded Water You Fighting For?

There are also young activists, like Mari Copeny, known as “Little Miss Flint,” on the front lines on the Flint water crisis. The 11-year-old gained national attention in 2016 when she wrote a letter to then President Barack Obama encouraging him to visit Flint. Obama replied and visited Flint and later signed off on $100 million in funding to assist Flint.

Copeny, who considers herself as a clean water activist, is also the founder of Dear Flint Kids, a project encouraging people to send positive letters of encouragement to Flint kids.

 Flint residents sue the EPA

A federal judge recently ruled a lawsuit filed by Flint residents against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can move forward.

In the lawsuit, Flint residents contend that EPA officials and employees “negligently responded to the water crisis,” including not warning residents of the health risks posed by the hazardous water.

The ruling opens the door for thousands of Flint residents to receive compensation after being exposed to water contaminated with lead and bacteria.

Celebrity response

It’s something that is not said a lot, but here in Michigan we’ve noticed a lot of celebrities getting in their photo ops while trying to help the Flint community. The publicity and support are much appreciated, with Cher tweeting about it in 2016, that same year my fellow Traverse City local Michael Moore showed up to a town hall rally.

Most recently, Jaden Smith partnered with a Flint church to deploy The Water Box, a mobile water filtration system that reduces lead and other hazardous contaminants. While not as many celebrities are paying attention to Flint five years later, for local residents the water crisis is far from over.

The post Five Things You Should Know About the Flint Water Crisis appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

DJ Shruggs Shows Us What It Means to Be a True Individual

April 25, 2019 - 3:55pm

Skyler “Shruggs” Strickland-King is no stranger to the DJ booth inside YR Media’s sprawling three-story building in Downtown Oakland. It’s where Shruggs, a YR alum, learned a myriad of media skills. Nowadays, he DJs on behalf of Left-N-Right Records, a label Shruggs co-founded with longtime friend Wallah Umoja.

Although Shruggs finds himself walking in and out of the building as a DJ on a weekly basis, not much is found online about the Richmond native. In doing research for this interview, I came to find that information on him was scarce, so when it was time for me to sit down with him, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I soon realized there wasn’t any purpose in having predetermined expectations of him, as Shruggs doesn’t seek to be figured out. He doesn’t take on the task of defining himself but lets his music, and his interactions with others, speak for him. His easy-going, relaxed nature set the tone for our conversation, and the invasiveness and formality of a typical interview disappeared. It quickly became just a discussion between two people regarding music, individuality, and diverging from the cliché.

In an era where most promising musicians and artists are desperate to be seen, DJ Shruggs is indifferent towards the idea of fame, and that’s the reason it makes him stand out amongst the crowd. He doesn’t care about how many followers he has or how much his music gets played. He isn’t even worried about how other people perceive and interpret him or his artistry. Shruggs possesses a refreshing candor when compared to his peers, and it’s his casual demeanor that outlines who he is, as both a DJ and a human being.

Where did your love of music first come from and how did it begin to translate to DJing?

One of my first memories with music was trying to play two CDs at once in one stereo at my mom’s house. I had a Janet Jackson CD and “Dangerous” by Michael Jackson, trying to put them together and play “Scream” because I saw the video and I was hella juiced. I broke the stereo, so that was that. I think that’s one of the only memories I have that correlates to me DJing. After that, it’s been just being on the internet and watching old videos of Daft Punk and a lot of old house DJs. That’s been mainly how I got into it in the first place.

How did it lead to producing?

Just about the same. Just watching them [music producers] press buttons and do a whole bunch of stuff and dance and be crazy in like, 1996. It all just came together because of what I’ve seen them do. So I always like to study things. Before that though, I was playing guitar and drums, and going through all the instruments. I had a whole little rocker phase when I wanted to be Korn and be in a little cover band with my cousin. It just came in different phases.

Photo: Wallah Umoja

How did you come up with your DJ name?

[My friends and I] were on BART and I was working for All Day Play at the time; we were all trying to figure out what to call each other because there were two Skylers. It was me and there was a white guy named Skyler, and we didn’t want to call me Black Skyler because that’s kind of bad. So they were like, we’re just gonna call you Shruggs because you’re always indifferent with everything and I accepted it. I didn’t care for it but here it is, it stuck.

What are some of your influences?

Just listening to everything. At first, it was listening to the radio and listening to KMEL back in the day and watching MTV all day as a kid. That was pretty much how I got into everything.

Are there any specific artists as well?

It was Ed Banger, Dim Mak Records (before the whole cake thing Steve Aoki does), and Boysnoize Records. I basically got my chops off watching the whole electro wave right when David Guetta popped off internationally. Besides that, it’s been Three 6 Mafia and whatever music I remember hearing as a kid.

How would you describe your sound?

Noise. It’s just noise. I don’t really take time to describe what I do, I just let others describe it because that’s how I really get that definition, I guess.

I’ve noticed you’re pretty nonchalant about your music. Most people promote their stuff but you’re kind of just like, ‘Here, it’s out.’

I mean, it’s cause I see everybody putting on a whole fake thing and going, ‘Yo, check this out! Look at this, look at my fit!’ and all that other stuff. I’m just like, ‘Here, you’ll look at it. It’s gonna pop up eventually.’ I’m not trying to gather your attention all at once, you’ll find it eventually. That’s how I am with just, life in general.

Photo: Wallah Umoja

What does your creative process look like?

A whole bunch of downloads from SoundCloud. Just a whole bunch of internet surfing and figuring out different tempos and which songs I could fit into other instrumentals. Or whatever song I could try to blend in. It’s always been about bending genres and mixing everything up.

Do you like to take genres that people think won’t normally mesh well together and then try to make it fit?


What example of that can you give?

I play a lot of grime beats and mix it with whatever ratchet trap music I can find. Honestly, that has pretty much been my whole thing for the past couple years. Before that, it was trying to mix in electronic music or house music with whatever fits that tempo. For me, it’s always about keeping that same consistent energy throughout the whole mix.

When listening to your SoundCloud, I noticed it was predominantly remixes. Do you have a preference when creating music?

I like producing my own songs. In fact, most of my remixes are my own songs, I just throw an acapella over it, just cause. I like making my own stuff, I really have a lot of fun doing that. Once you have your mind set on making a remix it’s like, ‘Alright, I have to make it this type of way.’

How important is it to interact with a crowd when you’re playing a set?

It’s really important, honestly. You have to at least take note of it. That’s something I kind of cat off on a lot because I like having fun. Usually, even if I do pay attention and try to interact with them, I just talk sh*t and cuss them out because that’s what they know me for. Just being the guy that doesn’t care, just being me.

After a show, what are you hoping the audience leaves with?

I never really think of that. I just be like, ‘Yo, I’m off? Cool.’ I’ll see everybody in the crowd and we’ll talk, or whatever. Don’t get me wrong, I like having people come up to me like, ‘Yo, your set was good,’ and all that stuff. It’s pretty fun, it’s pretty nice to feel that way. I don’t really like having any expectations for it. I just do what I do and just live.

So you’re not seeking to invoke a feeling of any kind?

In a way, yeah. At the same time I know, for the most part, people come in for their own different reasons. I would like to respect those reasons. Because I ain’t trying to steal the show, I’m just trying to kick it.

What is a special quality that you have as a DJ that you think highlights your individuality?

The main one is that I love the music that I play. It’s that and also that I’m really selfish about what I play too. Like you’re not gonna get me to play anything you want me to play. Maybe if you get me a drink but, even at that I just do what I want, really. I think that’s like, my whole thing. Just doing what I want.

Because you care about your craft.

Pretty much. You gotta care for it somehow. You gotta get personal with the stuff. With playing music and rocking crowds, you gotta get personal with it. You gotta take things and take it to heart. For me, it’s always to be the same person that I was in the house, when I hear this music and just translating that wherever I go. It’s to always translate who you are when you’re by yourself in your own space, to wherever you go and whichever venue you would like to display that.

The post DJ Shruggs Shows Us What It Means to Be a True Individual appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Everything You Need to Know About Credit

April 25, 2019 - 2:39pm

What exactly is credit? And why is it so important to start building it NOW? Mr. Build Wealth breaks it down.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Credit appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Social Media Blackouts: How & Why They Happen

April 25, 2019 - 2:15pm

This past Sunday’s bombing attacks in Sri Lanka that left at least 250 dead, as of the latest reporting, was followed by the government taking a step we sometimes see in the wake of tragedy: blocking social media services like Facebook and WhatsApp.

Why and how governments around the world take these steps is a question for anyone concerned with freedom of the press and freedom of speech. As it turns out, it’s not that hard of an action to take, even if it isn’t as effective as those who want to control the flow of information would like.

Why They Do It

There are lots of reasons why a government might want to cut off the free flow of information, and it’s not uncommon around the world to see people’s access to all kinds of sites be restricted. In some countries it isn’t even possible to access Facebook in the first place.

Information, after all, is power. And so too is disinformation. In the wake of a terrorist attack or natural disaster, a lack of confirmed facts leaves the door open for people to fill the gaps in bad faith. It’s not unusual to see out-of-context photos or footage circulating in the minutes and hours after events unfold.

Sometimes people jump to conclusions before they have all the facts, putting others in danger. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, Reddit infamously got to sleuthing, with users of the site thinking they could use online tools to vigilante ends. Suffice it to say, they got the facts wrong, and caused some people some truly unnecessary grief. In Sri Lanka, the Guardian reports that some residents saw reports on WhatsApp identifying two suicide bombers. Whether or not those reports were remotely accurate, those kinds of unverified rumors have led to vigilante killings in the past.

In essence, the post-event reason to block social media is to stop a panic and curb disinformation. With disinformation being in the eyes of the beholder, the potential for abuse is immense.

How They Do It

This part is simple: by blocking the addresses of the services in question. That could be the URLs, DNS and/or IP addresses. While it is more complicated than blocking someone’s phone number — at least in the sense of what is required — the basic idea is the same. The government in question turns to internet service providers and asks/orders them to keep traffic from those addresses from getting through.

This is pretty much what happens with a work/college firewall when the IT department blocks Netflix, YouTube, or… um, other video sites from being viewed. Only on a national scale.

Now there can be ways to get around this, like using a VPN. That stands for virtual private network. A VPN works by connecting a user’s computer to a virtual network instead of their local one, but VPNs can be blocked if a provider knows those addresses. How far a government is willing to go determines how effective a block is.

Something You Don’t See, Something You Do

In the United States we haven’t seen government-level blocks because of the First Amendment.

What we do see is social media companies — like Facebook, whose products are often at the center of these firestorms — taking active steps to combat misinformation on their own platforms. The idea there is that the health of a social network depends in large part on trustworthy information. If users can’t trust what they see in their feeds, they won’t rely on the network. Which means engagement goes down. Which leads to financial impacts.

So Facebook shuts down accounts which it deems “inauthentic” and that has political consequences as those who benefitted from those “inauthentic” accounts cry foul. Or Twitter cleans out bots and suddenly the President of the United States reportedly is complaining about having a lower follower count to the CEO of Twitter in a closed-door Oval Office meeting. Because everything is normal.

The thing is: trust in social media services do matter for these companies’ bottom lines, but for some, trust is a matter of sticking to the story they want to be told, and others just want the facts no matter how ugly.

The Common Thread

The common thread between these stories is us: the end users of news and information. It turns out that as a whole, we’re pretty gullible. Our knack for taking what we’re told at face value — that benevolent trust we have in other people — is super exploitable. It is a trait that can be hacked over and over again. Even as tech companies try to come up with solutions to flag questionable content, this aspect of human nature might be too much to overcome.

The post Social Media Blackouts: How & Why They Happen appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

She’s Legally Blind but Don’t Underestimate This El Paso Artist

April 24, 2019 - 2:34pm

Martha Guerra puts pencil to paper as her form of subsistence and expression. When she was a baby, Guerra was diagnosed with astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer. The cancer affected her motor skills and left her legally blind. Now, the 18-year-old El Paso native creates artworks that have garnered attention and collaboration across the globe in places like Europe. 

Her work traverses mediums, working with color pencils, graphite pencils, acrylic painting, pastels, and charcoals. Even though she is legally blind, she can see enough to distinguish colors apart. 

A framed work of Guerra’s from her collection.

When Guerra was a student in special ed classes, one of her best friends suggested she should quit her art, and that she would not make it far. But her response to those comments was the same she gives to any other obstacle she meets: drawing.

“I just don’t limit myself,” Guerra said. “Because everyone is thinking, ‘Oh well, you’re legally blind. You can’t draw.’ I say ‘No. It’s just like everything else,’” Her drawing — and all of her art — started off as a coping mechanism, dealing with bullying in school and people doubting her. But her art has now transformed into her life’s passion.

Guerra holds up her large portfolio, where she keeps sketches, and final framed pieces.

Guerra’s work has been getting attention on social media in places like France and Italy. She credits her former high school for introducing her to artists from those countries. She says her art has introduced her to cultures beyond her hometown of El Paso.

“[Art] opened up a lot of doors… and then meeting these people [diverse artists from other places], opened up my horizons.”

A final piece of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, by Guerra.

Guerra’s work has been exhibited at El Paso Community College, where she’s also a student. But she has bigger ambitions for the future.

“I want to go [at my art] full time. I really do. Why not? Because the stigma in El Paso is like, ‘You can’t do it. You have to be a lawyer. You have to be all that stuff.’ When in reality, they’re just following tradition. I want to be the one that breaks that norm. Why not do it with my art?” she asks.

Her final advice to all those she meets is, “Don’t limit yourself.” 

The post She’s Legally Blind but Don’t Underestimate This El Paso Artist appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

5 Things You Missed in Music Business News

April 22, 2019 - 5:14pm

Things are constantly changing in the landscape of the music industry and it’s important to stay on top of trends and news updates, especially as an independent artist. We’ve got you covered with a weekly recap of the top stories you need to know.

Apple vs. Spotify

Although Spotify recently announced its partnership with Hulu (offering a new bundled subscription to both services through a single Spotify account), Apple Music has been making major moves as of late. Apple has now passed Spotify with 28 million U.S. subscribers compared to Spotify’s 26 million.

Lil Nas X Surpasses Drake’s One Week Streaming Record

“Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X has officially passed Drake’s record for most streams in a single week. “Old Town Road” topped Drake’s “In My Feelings” with 143 million streams, compared to 116.2 million for “In My Feelings.”

BTS Hits 5 Billion Streams on Spotify

BTS, the biggest Korean pop group in the world, just hit five billion streams on Spotify. Not only are they the first K-Pop group to achieve this milestone, but they also became the first Asian artists to do so.

Music Choice Gets Sued by SoundExchange

SoundExchange just sued the media company Music Choice (provider of music programming and music-related content for digital cable television, mobile phone and cable modem users). Music Choice was sued for undercutting royalties owed to SoundExchange.

HBO Taps Columbia Records for “Game of Thrones” Original Soundtrack

HBO is partnering with a major label for the first time in history. They reached out to Columbia Records to produce an all-original soundtrack for the series “Game of Thrones.” The project is set to drop in April featuring artists like Maren Morris, The Lumineers and The Weeknd.

The post 5 Things You Missed in Music Business News appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Turning Your Love for Coffee into a Business

April 22, 2019 - 2:15pm

The age of entrepreneurs is getting younger. At just 21-years-old, Kylie Jenner became the youngest self-made billionaire ever, according to Forbes.

And many are following in her footsteps.

On a much smaller scale, Reid Burford is a 17-year-old entrepreneur from Benicia, California who has been running his coffee business out of his parents’ home since middle school.

Burford started his coffee roasting company, Howling Hounds Coffee Roasters in 2016. But his coffee interest started much younger than that. “It all really started when I was 12 years old,” he said. “I would purchase coffee and I’d watch the baristas make various coffees…that’s when I started to become intrigued by the process of making it.”

YR Media’s Chris Weldon visited Burford at his home, where his shop is located, to talk about the process of owning a business while being a high school student, his achievements so far and coffee roasting.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Chris Weldon: What motivated you to open your business?

Reid Burford: I had thoughts about how cool it would be to open a coffee shop someday. Then one Christmas, I got a coffee roaster. A very small one that didn’t have a lot of capacity but it made me realize, “Why wait? I really enjoy roasting my own coffee, I could start a small business now.” It’s named after my two basset hounds. I love them and their fun attitude; their howls are especially unique. I thought it would be a perfect name for my business because it’s distinctive and different, just like my hounds.

Reid Burford preps coffee beans at his shop inside his family’s garage in Benicia, California. (Photo: Chris Weldon)

CW: What does Howling Hounds Coffee Roasters aim to provide its customers?

RB: Howling Hounds is currently a fully online business. My customers can go online and pick out the type of coffee they’d like shipped to them. Once they order, I roast, package and ship. One day I do hope to open a storefront.

CW: Where do you get your coffee from?

RB: I have a few different sources. There’s a distributor down in Orange County that I order a lot from. Port of Oakland gets a ton of coffee and so I have outlets there and I also get some from a company out of Vallejo, California, as well. Right now I have 10 different kinds available to order on my website all ranging from different origins, a couple of which are decaf options.

Reid Burford getting a coffee bag ready for shipping. (Photo: Chris Weldon)

CW: What kinds of support do you have?

RB: Most of the operation is done completely by me. I receive and fulfill all of the orders from the website. I order coffee and manage the money. I get assistance from my parents on financial stuff and getting licenses because you need to be 18 to have legal rights in a company. I have support from them whenever I need it.

CW: How has owning your own company changed your life?

RB: It definitely has kept me busy and out of trouble. I do have a very busy schedule because of it. There will be days where I get three orders and I’ll rush to fulfill those and deliver them. So it’s kept me busy; it’s kept me with a clear path and showed me what I want to do in the future. I enjoy running the company so much, that’s probably what I’m going to end up doing.

CW: What kinds of challenges do you face as a young entrepreneur?

RB: A lot of people don’t expect a coffee roasting company to be completely run by a 17-year-old. Sometimes I’ll get phone calls in the middle of the school day from interested customers who have questions and sometimes I’ll have to step out of class to take the call. There’s also definitely a limit to running a business out of high school. You don’t have a ton of money like larger businesses do and so you’re more limited to how big you can grow.

CW: Where do you see yourself and your company over the next 10 years?

RB: I plan on going to college in the Pacific Northwest. My top choice is Oregon State University. I plan to study business management and probably finance as well.  I hope to settle down in Oregon. I could really see myself living there and bringing my company to that area.

Reid Burford making coffee inside his shop in Benicia, California. (Photo: Chris Weldon)

CW: What advice would you give to young people interested in starting their own entrepreneurial journey?

RB: You know, they definitely have to be committed to it. It takes a lot of time to start up. It took me about six to eight months before actually launching my website. There’s a lot of preparation that had to go into it. I had to get a lot of equipment. I had to get business licenses and approval. So there’s definitely a lot of work and a lot of consideration they have to do.

The post Turning Your Love for Coffee into a Business appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Young Californians Talk Climate Change in Their Communities

April 22, 2019 - 10:13am

Editors note: An earlier version of this article was published on Sept. 10, 2018, following a series of wildfires that ravaged California. Young people in California reflect on their own experiences with a changing climate. The following is a collection of short essays from across the state. 

I’m saving droplets

Coming from the San Francisco Bay Area, I grew up worrying about the drought. My second-grade teacher was the first person to teach me about water conservation. I started to save water in a bucket while I waited for my shower water to warm up, and reuse it for watering plants. Then, when I was in middle school, California entered the worst drought in recorded history so saving water seemed even more urgent — and routine.

Like the drought, Northern California wildfires have also become a disturbingly routine part of my life. It feels too common now to wake up to orange, smoky skies. In July, I watched ash falling outside my window at work.

When it comes to climate change, there’s so much out of my control, but I try to make a difference anyway.

If I have to hold myself accountable for my water consumption, what are our politicians doing to hold corporate farms accountable for theirs? I’m literally saving droplets of water, but I can’t change how big agriculture operates. As I get older, I start to think: Is this climate change the new normal? This is more than just bad weather, and it’s all I’ve ever known. 

Emiliano Villa is a writer for YR Media in Oakland.

8 things you can do 

Growing up in the heart of California’s Central Valley, I learned to appreciate the agricultural workers who work tirelessly to feed the nation, but living in Fresno also gave me another souvenir: severe acute asthma. I have been hospitalized more times than I can count for sudden onset exasperations. Especially during the California fires, it’s not abnormal for me to feel as though I’m breathing through a thin red coffee straw. 

Despite countless scientific studies that prove climate change is happening all around the globe, there are still those who refuse to believe humans cause it, or that it even exists.

Climate change, global warming, impending doom — call it what you like. But it’s real, it’s happening and it’s all our fault. There are things we can do, however. Recycle. Ride a bike or walk more. Plant trees. Buy local food. Eat less meat — go vegan. Support environmental acts and activists. Run for office! Educate yourself and others.

Valeria Pedroza is a writer for The kNOw Youth Media in Fresno.

More to the story

I remember my mom in the ER with pneumonia a few years ago. Doctors provided my parents with a remedy they couldn’t afford: Stop working in the fields to prevent exposure to pesticides. But there’s no escaping the fields — we’re surrounded by them. These same toxins that are inescapable in my Coachella Valley community have been fed to the Salton Sea for years. Now that the sea is drying and has become a widely known environmental hazard, I know the impact is deadly. 

But there’s more to the story.

This area is the ancestral home of Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians and hardly anyone talks about their ongoing efforts to protect their home.

I’m tired of hearing plans that just talk about the bird and fish habitats. What about our homes and our lives? I’m tired of politicians hosting meetings on the environmental crisis in English when our community is predominantly Spanish speaking.

While the Salton Sea continues to shrink, I can promise that our voices won’t.

When officials meet in San Francisco to debate climate change this week, I hope they don’t forget the experiences of the people who live with the issue every day in the eastern Coachella Valley.

Olivia Rodriguez is a writer for Coachella Unincorporated in Thermal (Riverside County).

Living on the front lines

Someone like me, who grew up in Richmond, can’t enjoy a casual day without having to drop what I’m doing and listen closely to unusual sounds or sirens, or take a moment to question the air I breathe when it starts to smell like rotten eggs; a smell close enough to compare to the smell of sulfur. Every so often, I step on a high pedestal to check up on the Chevron refinery to make sure the “steam” that is being released into the air isn’t a huge black cloud. 

There have been many times when I thought the Blue Angels were flying above or an emergency helicopter was landing at Kaiser Hospital late at night, but each time I was wrong. Those loud hissing sounds were coming from the refinery just 2 miles away from my house.

Big Oil, bought-out politicians and climate deniers should not be the ones who make decisions about our health and our climate. Programs like cap-and-trade or refinery and oil/gas well expansions are false solutions that increase climate problems like wildfires and droughts happening everywhere. Those of us who live on the front lines of our fossil-fuel economy, and our family members or friends who work within these polluting industries, are being impacted every single day.

I will be standing with many of them this week in the streets of San Francisco, mobilizing for our state to transition away from fossil fuels and uplift renewable and sustainable energies that will lead us toward a healthy and vibrant future for the generations to come.

I don’t want policymakers and greedy industries putting our own lives and our health on the market.

Isabella Zizi is a writer for Richmond Pulse in Richmond.

Think about our health

I was born and raised in Sacramento, so I know the air quality is bad here. Sometimes there is so much smoke in the air, you can’t even see that far. And it can get really bad for your health — you definitely notice when you’re coughing a lot more. And since Sacramento is in a valley, and shaped like a bowl, smoky air can stay there for a very long period of time. 

Even now, there is smoke clearly visible in the air.

Climate change in California is starting to be a lot more concerning, especially in recent years. Every year, there are more and more fires, which means more and more smoke. 

As a young person, I don’t feel like I have many options to solve the issue, but I hope our elected leaders will think about the future generations when passing laws that can help clean the air.

Arthur Kunert is a writer for Access Sacramento in Sacramento.

Practice creative reuse

I often hear phrases like “reducing our carbon footprints” or “counteracting climate change,” but I didn’t realize how big of a role environmental sustainability has in my life until recently. I realized that we all have our own part in ensuring sustainability.

One of my favorite ways to practice eco-friendly living is by thrifting and up-cycling, that is, making new products from unwanted materials. I found this the perfect way to marry a love for fashion with a frugal budget and a moral responsibility to abstain from environmentally negligent fast-fashion. I love the process of up-cycling so much that I decided to collaborate with my friend to create an up-cycling brand called “Freshcycle.” As our brand grows, we hope to integrate an educational program where other youth can learn to up-cycle as well, thus creating an outlet for creativity that promotes a greener, cleaner world.

Endiya Griffin is a writer for The AjA Project in San Diego.

Thanks to our collaborators at Coachella Unincorporated, Richmond Pulse, The kNOw Youth Media, Access Sacramento, and The AjA Project.

The post Young Californians Talk Climate Change in Their Communities appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

My Mom’s Immigrant Story Is Not Mine, but I Learn from It

April 21, 2019 - 8:00am

I’m a first generation Eritrean immigrant. My parents survived a revolution in their youth. It’s often difficult to figure out how my life experience compares to theirs.

When my parents were teenagers, they fled a war in Eritrea. I was born in California, and have had a peaceful upbringing.

My mom often tells me stories about her childhood in relation to mine. When she was 16, she was crossing a desert to save her life. When I was 16, I was worried about my next midterms and when I could hang out with my friends.

It’s sometimes hard to ask my parents for what I want. More time with friends, more freedom. Because my desires feel inadequate compared to theirs when they were teens.

As each year passes, I learn more about my mom’s life. I realize that her experiences are unique and important, but so are mine, even though I didn’t go through the same struggles. That’s when I started looking at our stories side by side, rather than comparing them against each other.

By shifting my perspective, I’ve learned to honor my mom’s brave — almost unimaginable — journey. She gave me this life I have now.

The post My Mom’s Immigrant Story Is Not Mine, but I Learn from It appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Autistic Man Shot By Police

April 21, 2019 - 1:06am

Mentally ill people are 16 times more likely to be killed by police. After the latest death, we want to talk about why these tragedies occur.

The post Autistic Man Shot By Police appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Anderson .Paak Returns to His Roots with ‘Ventura’

April 19, 2019 - 6:39pm

Released only a brief five months after his album “Oxnard,” Anderson .Paak’s “Ventura” is the ambitious sequel we didn’t even know we needed. Although both albums were created and executively produced simultaneously with Dr. Dre, “Ventura” showcases a softer and more soulful sound than its predecessor, “Oxnard,” while still extracting nostalgic funk and R&B sounds. During an interview with Esquire, Anderson revealed that Dr. Dre gave him more creative freedom on this album, and listeners everywhere will appreciate the casual richness birthed from that freedom, along with Anderson seeming more comfortable and sure of himself. The album features big names in hip hop and R&B from both today and yesterday, with André 3000, Smokey Robinson, and Jazmine Sullivan included as some of the highlights. Here are five of our favorites from “Ventura.”

Come Home (feat. André 3000)

The first track on an album has the burden of setting both the tone and feel of the project while also being compelling enough to make listeners want to stay for the rest of the album. “Come Home” plays this role perfectly and introduces “Ventura” in the best way. On this track, Anderson .Paak creates a dream-like state for funk, crooning for a former love to come back to him while melodious background vocals accent each verse. André 3000 adds elaborate variety to the track, with his quick-fire verse contrasting with Anderson’s soulful singing.

Make It Better (feat. Smokey Robinson)

Released as the album’s second single, “Make It Better” embraces the elemental sounds of both Motown and hip-hop. This track is sweet in its nature, making it stand out as the most mellifluous song on the album. Here, Anderson sings about the ups and downs of a relationship while pleading to his love to help mend the situation, so that they could again share the love they use to have. Smokey Robinson only offers background vocals for a handful of lines at the end, yet creates an impression that makes the song feel complete while still letting Anderson’s expressive vocals shine.

Reachin’ 2 Much (feat. Lalah Hathaway)

“Ventura” is the quintessential Anderson we know and love. This time around Anderson teams up with Lalah Hathaway over vintage-like production. “Reachin’ 2 Much” starts off as a groovy track with a funky bassline, then a minute-thirty in, the song switches up to a two-steppable track. Anytime Anderson uses his raspy voice to sing, hum, or rap about relationship woes, I’m in.

Good Heels (feat. Jazmine Sullivan)

“Good Heels” is the shortest song on the album and probably the most simplistic, but a gem nonetheless and proves the saying that less can be more. Jazmine Sullivan lends her raspy, sultry voice and plays the role as Anderson’s “girl on the side” while the two trade verses of their perspective of their short-lived affair.


On “Twilight”, .Paak teaches us to look up when we’re upset. The song serves as one of many life lessons on Ventura. The track echos that, without clear directions, it can become hard to focus. True to Anderson .Paak’s style, he plays the lesson off cool with a light-hearted thumping beat that lifts you up into the groovy atmosphere. Pharrell shares space on the song as the producer too, adding his own polyrhythmic twist to the song by pairing claves and a dreamy trumpet that stays true to the song’s uplifting nature.

Due to the laid back style of the record, “Twilight” could easily fade into the tracklisting of his previous albums, “Malibu” and “Venice.” From this, .Paak shows us that he is still everyone’s soul-influenced rapper. However, “Twilight” still shines through, acting as a guiding light to inspire: “You’re my twilight when it’s awfully dark and I lost my way / ‘Cause when my life feels off the mark, you put me back in place.” Looking deeper, you’ll find that “Twilight” is actually an ode to his wife, Jae Lin, that has been with him through thick and thin. The song sets the scene that hopefully, one day, we will look up and find our own twilight during tough times.

The post Anderson .Paak Returns to His Roots with ‘Ventura’ appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Meet Abby Imperial, a Young DJ Who’s Using Music to Find Herself

April 18, 2019 - 6:33pm

Abby Imperial is keen to share parts of herself with the world through music. But amongst it all, like everyone else, DJ Imperial is finding herself. Free-spirited and relatable, she’s constantly searching for new music; constantly evolving with each new discovery. It’s through the collection of her diverse music that DJ Imperial shares her voice.

Since first learning how to DJ under DJ Fuze at YR Media, Abby Imperial has produced her own show, “Plant Bass,” with All Day Play, and frequently gigs throughout Oakland and the Bay Area. From her laid-back sense of style to her taste in music and love for searching for the perfect vinyl record, it’s clear that Abby Imperial is unapologetically herself.

In our interview, Abby and I discussed how discovering new music leads to personal growth, how DJing became an outlet for her own personal expression, and how she uses music to communicate and connect with others.

You’ve been DJing for about 4 years now, how has DJing impacted your life?

Socially, I’ve found more friends when it comes to DJing. It has impacted me having a voice and sounds that I can share with others, which I really appreciate. Another thing that it’s impacted-definitely just meeting new people, connecting with others through music.

You mentioned having a voice through DJing — what does that mean to you?

I think it means to express myself through music, just to like play all of my favorite songs and just share it with a whole crowd is one of the best feelings ever. When people ask me, ‘Oh, what song are you playing?’ I’m super open to just let them know.

Tell us about the time you came up with your show, ‘Plant Bass.’ What was that moment like?

The name ‘Plant Bass’ is from the term ‘Plant-Based.’ Instead of spelling it ‘based’ it’s spelled ‘bass’ because I like heavy bass. I’m really into drum and bass and jungle music. Last year, I did try to become vegan, so I combined the two with plant bass. Later on, I kind of fell off with the plant-based diet, so [now] I’m more focused on plants. I love plants, anything green.

What was the process of coming up with your DJ name like?

I was stuck on what to name myself as a DJ. I went with my last name, Imperial, which represents royalty and high power. I wanted to represent my family and where I’m from; I feel like Imperial just suits well for me. I’m pretty lucky, I don’t think anyone has that as a last name.

How does the music that you grew up listening to influence your current music taste?

I had a bunch of phases with various music genres, however, as I get older, I love discovering new and interesting genres. I’ll absorb it and note how long it takes until I get tired of it. I grew up listening to a bunch of underground hip hop, bay area rap music, and R&B. Lately, I’ve been digging into more underground or unheard of genres like “Dang, how come I haven’t heard of this song yet? How come I haven’t heard of this artist?”

Listening to your DJ mixes, you clearly have a very eclectic taste. What’s your process of discovering new music?

I love to dig on YouTube, it’s the easiest way for me to discover music digitally, you can find a lot of rare music on the internet. I also go to record stores and search for vinyl, CDs, and cassettes. I really love the feeling of digging through the crates. I’ll look at a cover and I’m like ‘This one kind of appeals to me.’ If there’s a blank cover and I don’t know what it is, I’ll give it a listen and test it out. If it sounds good to me I’m like ‘Okay this is the one.’

On your Instagram, you frequently share photos of tapes and CDs. Do you prefer using records and cassettes over digital music in your sets?

I don’t limit myself. I try to go for vinyl and CDs rather than MP3 because I feel like the quality sounds good. I also do love having a physical copy of my favorite music. Sometimes I’ll do a vinyl set and then I’ll do a Serato DJ set. I like to do a little bit of both, be more versatile. 

How do you curate your live sets?

When I’m using Serato on my computer, I go back and listen to all the music that I have. Depending on the event, I’ll choose a theme, throw some songs that sound right for the event. Sometimes I like to throw in a wild card and play something random just to see how the crowd feels.

So you feel like you’re always trying to find new music and new genres?

Right, whatever sounds good. Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot of 90s R&B. That’s just my go-to at the moment.

Is your creative process different when you DJ for fun versus when you play for a party?

I don’t think there’s that much of a difference. Whenever I’m doing a live set, I go up there and just have fun, and that goes the same for just jamming out at home.

You don’t get nervous?

No, I got over that, as long as I’m having fun I think that’s all that matters. Most of the time it goes both ways, where the crowd is feeling it and I’m feeling it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a really bad gig.

I see that you perform at a lot of parties, do you have a favorite place to perform?

I really love Smartbomb, because that’s my community. They have supported me a lot through the years, ever since I’ve been here in Oakland. I feel at home with Smartbomb. Their lineups are really good because they bring in local artists and also people from other cities who are a little more well known. I guess I have to say Smartbomb, for sure.

What’s one thing you’ve learned through DJing?

Communication is really big and also learning that I can’t always please everyone in the crowd, being open and responsive to event coordinators. When people request songs, I get a little offended, but I feel like that’s pretty common for DJs. Let me just do my thing, I got this.

Any last thoughts or experiences that you want to share?

I’m really thankful for YR Media. This is where it all started.

The post Meet Abby Imperial, a Young DJ Who’s Using Music to Find Herself appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog

Big Robots, Bigger Hearts: Anime Streaming Is Big Bucks

April 18, 2019 - 2:16pm

You might have noticed that we’re in a golden age of television. One that’s only threatened by the sheer volume of content that’s out there.

Streaming services are stockpiling shows left and right, with platforms like Netflix putting so many series out so fast it’s hard to keep up. They probably dropped a new series while you read that sentence.

And yet, the rules of the marketplace seem to demand that *even more*  shows make it onto every available screen. The same way that there is a seemingly endless variety of laundry detergents on store shelves.

To bulk up on content, Netflix has turned in recent years to anime (that’s Japanese animated series for any Baby Boomers who are lurking) — and in the past two years they made big investments, funding 30 series as part of their $8 billion push for original content.

Yet Netflix is far from the go-to name in watching anime online. In so many ways they are late to the party. While they’ve committed to new versions of classic series like “Ultraman” (using CG animation) and “Cowboy Bebop” (live-action adaptation) and have acquired the streaming rights to “Neo Genesis Evangelion,” the heart of anime streaming lay elsewhere.

For starters, there are a seemingly endless supply of websites where users can stream anime for free. Anime fans have always been resourceful when it comes to spreading the gospel, and in the streaming era lists persist of sites that provide ad-supported and, um, other means of acquiring their fix. You can even find some classics buried in the depths of YouTube with questionable levels of legality.

That obviously hasn’t stopped major subscription services from emerging.

We’ll start with Crunchyroll, which has been around for more than a decade. They recently raised their prices (by a whole $1.04, oh no!) for the first time since they started up in 2006. Crunchyroll is home to a mountain of anime offered up primarily in subtitled form. That’s the preferred format for anime purists, and also happens to be less expensive to produce for American audiences.

What Crunchyroll is to subbed anime, Funimation is to dubbed anime. The two used to be partners, but Funimation — which is owned by Sony Pictures Television — skipped out with their library last year. They took some gems along with them, including the aforementioned “Cowboy Bebop.” For fans who prefer dubs to subs, Funimation has long been a critical player in the anime scene.

Both Funimation and Crunchyroll are in the simulcast business. In broadcasting, that means when content is sent out simultaneously on different channels. In anime streaming, it indicates that when a show goes up in Japan, it also hits other parts of the world. For Crunchyroll that means shows hitting in subtitled form, for Funimation it means in dubbed form. Some dubs on Funimation go up the same day as the broadcast in Japan. Given that fans used to have to wait years for official translations, or for other fans to do the work on unofficial versions, simulcasts are an attractive feature.

You’ll also find simulcasts at HiDive, which launched in 2017. HiDive’s catalog is a lot smaller than the two services we’ve already mentioned, and if you’re looking to maximize bang for buck, it is part of the bundle at VRV.

VRV is a bundle of channels that is run by Crunchyroll. The company doesn’t own all the channels, but it has partnered with channels who share its core audience. For the anime curious, it’s a pretty sweet deal (I say this as someone who is subscribing to VRV after switching off his Netflix account until “Stranger Things” comes back.) VRV gets you access to all of Crunchyroll, then puts in HiDive, Boomerang (which has a bunch of “Looney Tunes” and other Warner Bros. favorites), Rooster Teeth (makers of the anime-styled “Gen:Lock” produced by and starring Michael B. Jordan), and nerd culture channels like Geek and Sundry. This “thin bundle” strategy is what’s likely to dominate the whole of the streaming industry — anime or not — in the years ahead. For the moment, VRV costs $9.99 — just two bucks more than Crunchyroll on its own.

Of course, bundling anime and cartoon channels together might not be enough to survive in a world where the streaming giants’ goal seems to be total market domination.

Netflix has a CGI “Ultraman” series which they have locked down as an exclusive. Vibes of “Iron Man” here.

Netflix is spending all that money, and is locking down exclusives as they always do. Its only weakness seems to be the service’s unwillingness to stick with any series for too long — which has a lot to do with how content deals are structured. Usually the longer many series go on, the more a studio has to pay everyone involved.

And then there’s Hulu, which has a cache of anime itself. That’s in large part due to a relationship with Funimation, so Hulu subscribers can find “Cowboy Bebop” and “Attack on Titan” there. They recently signed a first-look deal for distributing Funimation series, including simulcast series. For the anime curious, jumping in on a Hulu subscription (or remembering that you already have one) isn’t a bad option at all.

What’s interesting from a business standpoint is that streaming services remain a bit of a “black box” when it comes to what’s actually driving success. The business leaders at companies like Netflix appear to be betting on just having so much content that there will be something for everyone. Yet when it comes to the cultural conversations, we collectively still seem to gather around a few key shows. Since Netflix and their competitors don’t like to share their viewership numbers, it’s hard for all of us to know if entertainment is still a hit-based business, or if we really have entered an era where big winners are no longer the big story.

The post Big Robots, Bigger Hearts: Anime Streaming Is Big Bucks appeared first on YR Media.

Categories: Blog