Watch DJ Gilles Peterson record the soundtrack to the Rio Olympic Games

Originally recorded in 2014 during the World Cup, DJ Gilles Peterson went down to Rio to make a documentary on Brazilian music and to record an album entitled Sonzeira which paired old and new Brazilian superstars like Elza Soares and Seu Jorge.

He also visits the birthplace of samba in the Rio favelas and goes crate-digging in local record shops, on the hunt for a copy of Jose Pirates “Tam Tam Tam” (stream it below).

If you’re interested more of Gilles’ projects, check out his Rumba project in Cuba and his extensive discography as well.

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Finding your long lost twin

doppelganger
‘I’M NOT A LOOK-ALIKE!’ by Francois Brunelle

There are lookalikes, and then there’s doppelgängers. It is strangely pleasing when you see your replica — it is like looking into the mirror. However, it is odd when you mistake a stranger’s face for someone you know. Tim, is that you?

“it’s when you see someone and you think it’s the other person. It’s the way of being, the sum of the parts.”

Of course, when you put two lookalikes side by side you start to notice the subtle differences in their hair shape, eyes, mouth, teeth, and nose. Our brains process faces like we do maps.

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“the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. If you compare it to finding a country on a map, this is like checking it has a border with France and a coast.”

Naturally, many people look the same because they share common traits. According to the article, 55% of the world’s population has brown eyes. There’s an abundance of ‘average faces.’

But there’s only so many genes to pass around. So what are the chances your twin is out there amongst 7.4 billion people, waiting to be found? It’s unlikely. The population has to be around 150 million to statistically stand a chance.

“It is entirely possible for two people with similar facial features to have DNA that is no more similar than that of two random people.”

Cargo shorts, practical but uncool?

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cargo shorts
Cargo shorts, too ugly to be cool.
Unlike technological innovations, fashion is cyclical — what’s uncool now will be fresh again decades from now.

The latest victim to fall into the uncool category of clothing are cargo shorts. The US and British military created cargo pants in the 1940s to hold more ammunition. Front-pocket cargos are perfect for the gadget-obsessed world we live in today. But practicality can be ugly. Even the GOAT got called out. From the Wall Street Journal article:

In 2012, Michael Jordan was playing golf in cargo shorts at a Miami country club when he was asked to change his pants. He reportedly refused and left.

I grew up in the 90s and just threw my last pair away this year because the pockets ripped. My wife was happy to see them go.

“Men want to be like James Bond. Bond never wears cargo shorts.”

I don’t want to be like Bond — I’m just ‘a dude’ in search of a one-stop shop to help carry all my pocket gear. Can slim jeans do that? But hey, if Jason Bourne wears cargo shorts how out of date can they be?

The ephemerality of new music

 

frank ocean
Frank Ocean’s new album ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ is due out on Friday

We consume faster than we produce. Such rapidity is disproportionate to the time it takes to craft a new record or book. We live in a mobile-first feed-based culture where smart algorithms intend to save us time by lifting the most popular stuff to the top.

Why do we so much emphasis on what our friends or influencers are engaging with the most when we can make judgements on our own?

When we get lost in a book or album, the rest of the world disappears. Creators often talk about their flow state– a state of unbreakable focus and productivity. The audience can also get into a fluid state of consumption. We can absorb a book on a deeper level with sustained concentration, which is known to add years on to our life.

“One of the ways we deal is through categorization: mentally swiping left on the things we don’t want to pay attention to, and bookmarking the rest for later. It means that everything is graded the instant it comes out. Consumed, and then promptly forgotten.” – Writer Jenna Wortham in Fader Mag

We should listen and read more carefully the things we enjoy, ignoring the temptation to skip or fast-forward on to the next thing. The artist busts their ass just to make us think, cry, or smile. Give them the proper time and attention they deserve.

Patterns in musician mortality

musician mortality by genre

The Conversation explores the patterns in musician mortality within specific genres. Below are some of the takeaways.

  • Blues, jazz, gospel, and country musicians live “on average, similar lifespans as those from the US population with the same year of birth and gender.”
  • Pop, rock, metal, electronic, hip-hop, and rap artists die younger with “lower life expectancies compared with the US population.”

But because the newer genres — hip-hop, rap, electronic, rock — haven’t existed as long as the older styles, we have to go deeper into the data and look at how these musicians die.

  • Accidental death by car accident or drug overdose is highest among males, specifically in the rock and metal genres
  • Gospel musicians have the lowest rate of suicide while metal musicians have the highest
  • More than 50% of hip hop and rap artists die from murder
  • Those dying from cancer or heart-related conditions tend to be folk and jazz musicians

The study suspects that style of music predicts human lifespan, with “mortality rates were between two and three times higher for popular musicians than matched population data.” However, the study also cautions that punk, metal, rock, electronic, hip-hop and rap musicians “appear unlikely to live long enough to acquire the illnesses of middle and old age.”

Only time will tell if the initial results from the newer genres remain valid.

The dilemma of unlocking Dilla Dog’s Vault

When J Dilla died in 2006, he left thousands of hours of unreleased music. Most of it remained unfinished, never to leave his vault. But now his music in the hands of his estate, which includes his mom and his manager.

One of Dilla’s earliest albums Rough Draft came to symbolize the way he produced music – live. His voice crackles on the album: “sounds like it’s straight from the motherfuckin’ cassette.”

But does his improvisational approach justify the release of his unpublished work?

“In this drawer we found a few pages, at this desk we found a few pages — scattered all over the house,” Cooley says. “Some overlap between things. Things are named strangely. It was a lot of detective work to figure out, okay, which version is the ultimate version that was supposed to end up on The Diary.”

Dilla recorded “The Sickness” in 2001. Nas rapped over the song this year before it got a posthumous release.

No one – not even Madlib – knows what edits Dilla would’ve made to the track. Would Dilla have added a snare or a horn somewhere? Would even want Nas to rap over it?

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Piecing together and repackaging an artist’s work after they die is a sensitive issue. Dilla’s mom claims to make decisions in the eyes of her son. But how can she and the rest of the members of the estate do anything without looking greedy? After Prince died, 15 of his albums appeared on streaming site Tidal.

On the flip side, opening up the vault is a treasure trove for fans. They don’t seem to care if the songs sound polished or not. Dilla fans go crazy for anything he touched, even if it’s a half-baked loop.

Most work is practice. It’s hard to say when we finish any project. As Dilla’s life demonstrates, our work evolves even after we die.

Walking is hard

Walking didn’t use to be this hard because we didn’t think much about it. But now we’re all walking zombies, staring down into our mobile screens. We use our ears and narrow field of view to warn us of impending danger.

Thankfully, designers are creating smart powered pedestrian pavement to save our lives from distraction and tunnel vision.

Walking used to be a sensory experience, a way of thinking with our steps. Now, we just walk for the steps, leaning on Fitbit to validate our activity levels. We replay snaps and photos when we get home to remind us the things we “noticed” on our journey.

“Methinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.” – Henry David Thoreau

We used to walk with books and dream into the blue skies. But now those things are primarily viewed through our digital screens. We’ve sacrificed daydreams for an enhanced reality.

Jack White launches the first record to play in space

Impossible is nothing. Jack White’s record label Third Man Records successfully launched the first played record in space, 94 feet above the Earth before it burst. White originally discussed the idea with Neil De Grasse Tyson in 2012.

For the entire hour and twenty minutes of ascension, the Icarus turntable faithfully played Carl Sagan’s “A Glorious Dawn” (from “Cosmos” by Symphony of Science composer John Boswell) on repeat, using an impressively sturdy phono cartridge and stylus as well as an onboard flight computer programmed with a few different actions to keep the record playing while it was safe to do so.

Well done Jack and team. You even beat Daft Punk to space. Next on the list: DJing all the way to Mars.

‘A rejected cartoon isn’t a dead cartoon’: New Yorker cartoonists explain how they come up with ideas

One way to generate good ideas is to produce a lot of bad ones first. Focus on quantity rather than quality so you have a lot to play with.

New Yorker’s cartoon editor Bob Mankoff says coming up with good ideas starts with asking yourself “what if?

‘Ideas breed ideas’..He’s always amazed by the people who tell him they have a single great cartoon idea. One idea is never enough, and it’s rarely good. “The way you get good ideas is to get a lot of ideas,” says Mankoff“

Part of being a creator is learning to cope with failure. Not everyone is going to like your stuff. Mankoff sent the New Yorker thousands of cartoons before the magazine bought one.

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No art gets wasted, though. Some cartoonists like Carolita Johnson recycle rejected cartoons. She’s a tweaker, combining ideas to see what else works and then she resubmits. She tries not to overthink it. The New Yorker bought one of her cartoons because it was more clever than funny.

“A rejected cartoon isn’t a dead cartoon.”

Creativity works like a muscle. If you want to strengthen it, you have to practice your craft every day. As Maya Angelou says, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” Discipline is how cartoonist Matt Diffee skips inspiration and gets to work.

“The idea being blocked is the norm.” To get the juices flowing, he begins his weekly two-hour idea brainstorming sessions with a full pot of coffee and a blank sheet of paper.“As I empty the coffee, I fill up the paper,” he says.

It took Matt thinking over 40 unique concepts before he landed on the one to represent writer’s block.

©MatthewDiffee/The New Yorker Magazine/cartoonbank.com

There are no hacks to the creative process other than putting in the work and learning from your mistakes. The willingness to accept feedback is a lesson in disguise. As an artist, you have to enjoy your craft and be crazy enough to keep going even when no one believes in you.

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