Takeaways from ATL

Howdy. I write to you from the Bay after having spent an energizing last week in Atlanta for A3C. 

I am fortunate to have been able to visit for the first time and connect with all sorts of creative, hard-working people within the music community. 

Shoutout to sound engineer and rapper JRich who was the plug for this first trip to Atlanta for me.

Earlier in the year, he randomly stopped by the SoundCloud NYC office. I happened to be visiting NYC for a team offsite when I was informed that “Lil Yachty’s engineer” was in the building. 

We had never had any prior communication, but I count that as a fateful day. He opened the doors for me to learn more about the current music scene in Atlanta. He introduced me to many talented up-and-coming Atlanta-based artists, and I subsequently helped them make the most of SoundCloud. He also introduced me to the A3C organizers which led to my opportunity to participate in this year's EPK Mentor Session.

Overall, my first visit to Atlanta was fun and inspiring to say the least. It was great to meet artists I had been in touch with through email like Digital Nas; build new friendships with artists like Brian Brown and his crew (shoutout DJ GBKimuLucas); meet and hear the stories of producers like JowinPark Ave.Dolan Beatz and Ducko McFli; catch a bunch of live shows from emerging artists like BrownKelechiTre Capital and Hefna Gwap to legends like Cam’ron, Mystikal and Too Short; meet photographers and videographers like Quincy Brooks; and learn even more about the rich history of hip hop in Atlanta and the South. I’m missing more details, but you’ll hear more things that bubbled up from my time in Atlanta down the road.

For now, here are my main takeaways from the trip: 

  1. Trusting the process and taking time to create quality music or work is important. 

    A recurring theme from discussions with different people was how important it was not to fall for "flash in the pan" success. I admire all those whom I met who are working hard to develop their own craft, not rush the creative journey and practice patience daily.
  2. Truly understand who you are and what you’re about.

    The Internet has enabled people to create and release music easily which in turn makes the pool saturated with a lot of artists. Don’t try to copy a sound or fit into something because it’s trending temporarily. Take the time to understand what you care about and what you need to nurture or let go of to continue progressing forward. Know your worth. I feel this is an important thing to keep in mind for any aspect of life in general for anyone. It hits on a lot of the points made in Essentialism. If it’s not a clear yes to you, it’s a clear no. I plan to share more notes from this book in my next post.
  3.  Relationships are the cornerstone of everything.

    As shared in the introduction of this post, existing relationships brought me to Atlanta. Fostering great relationships leads to more new, great relationships with others to emerge. Achieving success takes more than individual strength; it also takes support from others. 


Learned a lot at A3C and grateful to have participated this year.

Learned a lot at A3C and grateful to have participated this year.

Brian Brown in "church" aka  Nolan 's studio.

Brian Brown in "church" aka Nolan's studio.

Cam'ron in the flesh.

Cam'ron in the flesh.

Waffle House fix.

Waffle House fix.

First thing I saw in the bathroom stall at Music Room on first night of A3C.

First thing I saw in the bathroom stall at Music Room on first night of A3C.

Without a doubt, I’ll be back in Atlanta.

More soon,

Fall Feels Full

"Levitated Mass" at LACMA.

"Levitated Mass" at LACMA.

Happy Saturday. Can you believe it’s already nearing October? It’s officially fall, yet the sun’s been still beating down here in LA. I’m not complaining; I finally get to bust out my sandals. 

My aunt (one of my mom’s six sisters) and uncle from Korea have been visiting so I’ve been busy gallivanting around town with them. The whole family went to Disneyland last weekend. My parents hadn’t been to the park in over 20 years. It was fun to be a kid with them again and nosh on churros and Dole whip

Beyond spending lots of time with family, I recently got a chance to meet up with Seattle-based rapper Sol in Downtown LA. I found a cafe called GiorgiPorgi which is an absolute gem. It’s a clean, minimal shop with a moss-covered ceiling and slate grey concrete throughout.

The owner, Giorgi who’s originally from Milan, opened up the cafe about seven months ago. You know when you meet someone for the first time and you instantly click? She’s stellar. She introduced me to the other cafe patrons who all seemed to be regulars and allowed me to be the cafe DJ for a bit. I threw on tunes from Chattanooga-based producer KEEM THE CIPHER. If you find yourself in Downtown LA, go to this cafe, not only for the ambience, but for the drinks too. They use the highest quality beans and teas sourced from Flying Goat Coffee in Healdsburg (Bay Areaaa!).

Anyway, it was the perfect place to meet Sol in-person and catch up. Sol and I first connected through SoundCloud. He’s traveled all over the world and has been creating nonstop for the past few years. We talked about progression, Morning Pages and how Berlin’s nightlife is a trip. 

I also met Giorgi’s neighbor Lionel and his crew who stopped by for a drink. They run a venue space next door to host music events. Lionel introduced me to DC-based singer Opal D, and we exchanged contact info in hopes to collaborate in the future. I appreciate how LA can be serendipitous like that. 

Atlanta + A3C

The next few weeks are looking stacked. I’m headed to Atlanta to attend A3C for the first time. A3C is the largest hip hop conference and festival in the US that aims to empower, inspire and educate those that shape hip hop culture. 

I’m looking forward to being part of the EPK audit mentor session to help aspiring artists ensure their digital profiles and press kits are looking up to par. 

If you know any folks in music who’ll also be attending A3C or live in Atlanta, please let me know. I'll be there for a week from Oct 3-10, and I’d love to connect with them.

Speaking of Atlanta, have you been watching the show on FX? I love this NPR story about Donald Glover's motivation to make people feel a certain kind of way when watching the show.

We always kind of just talk about the surreal nature of just the human experience. And it’s a really strange thing,” Glover says about conversations he had in planning the show. “Most things lie in the gray area. But I think because of the Internet, and like, social media — things get cut into zeroes and ones really quickly. So we were like, ‘Let’s just play around in the gray areas.
— Donald Glover

I've been listening to Isaiah Rashad’s The Sun’s Tirade non-stop since its release on September 2. It's a testament to how far he's come and how far he'll go since his last release Cilvia Demo more than two years ago. He also has his crew of talented producers like D.Sanders he's started with since day one on the project. The writing, rapping and production all make for an excellent package worth listening to from start to finish. I can't wait to bump this at full volume once I finally get my first car (next on my to-do list). 

Enjoy your weekend. You deserve it.

More soon,