Jordan Lawrence - 2016 Top 10 Albums

Photography: Adela Locsin 

Photography: Adela Locsin 

In no particular order, Jordan Lawrence, Co-Founder, Black Lodge Management (Bay Faction, Hiding Out, Vertigo), gives The Hook his top 10 albums of 2016!

1. Kanye West - The Life Of Pablo
Kanye's most frustrating work, but also his most brilliant. The energy on this record, the samples, and the features all make it hard to beat. The press and release mess around it made it all the more irresistible to enjoy and really take in. 

2. Frank Ocean - Blonde
A beautiful follow-up to Channel Orange, Frank's vocals over minimal yet lush guitar arrangements put you in his place in the driver's seat. Well worth the hype. 

3. The Weeknd - Starboy
Not a single bad song on this record. Perhaps his most commercial release yet while still maintaining his character. 

4. Chance The Rapper - Coloring Book
The brightness we needed in a fairly dark year. Between the optimism of the record itself and the incredible marketing done around it, Chance is a true indie staple in a major label-run industry. 

5. Drake - Views
While this record is longer than it needs to be and has a good few filler tracks, it also has some of my favorite Drake songs. Just solid. 

6. Bad Suns - Disappear Here
The band expanded on what they did with their debut in terms of songwriting, along with adding more of a rock edge to it. 

7. Joseph - I’m Alone, No You’re Not
Beautifully written songs and vocal arrangements from these three sisters, whose familial ties give the record all he more unity. 

8. Maren Morris - Hero
I'm normally hesitant with country, but these songs just scream pop records. Maren's performance and the diversity here set her up for a long, unique career. 

9. AURORA - All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend
Perhaps one of the most intriguing releases of the year for me. A singer-songwriter from Norway, singing honestly in English over tracks that perfectly blend sounds of nature and electronic minimalism. 

10. Pinegrove - Cardinal
A step in a different direction for a label and scene that tend to do the same stale things over and over again. Some great, dynamic, honest songs here with instruments and timbres not normally heard from bands on Run For Cover and similar labels.

Baltimore DJ & Producer To Follow - DJ Sun

Photographer: Anna Cordova

Photographer: Anna Cordova

A little less than a week ago, I had the opportunity to have a conversation with virtuoso, producer, and scratch DJ, Jason Nobel, also known as DJ Sun!

The first time I saw DJ Sun was in passing. A few of my friends were on their way to a party, and I suck at social gatherings, but loud music, discomfort, and displacement are my idea of a good time, so I tagged along. We flocked to the basement where all of the excitement was, and it was so congested that we had to form a chain to travel through the crowd. We huddled up against a wall that was either white or concrete colored, but couldn’t tell because of how dark it was. Our bodies swayed a little bit, but not too much because we were too cool to dance.

I could see DJ Sun in my peripheral, standing behind a table in a clustered corner, and even then - being a dot in a scattered plot point graph of a section, something about him stood out. Maybe he illuminated simply because he’s DJ Sun (I saw the opportunity to use his name as a metaphor and I took it). Perhaps, it was because he had crowd control. He’d drop a song and suddenly the entire basement would explode with a boisterous uproar, followed by dancing, or in my case, head bopping, at the most two-stepping.

In that moment, people who may have never connected outside of that basement made an incorporeal relation with each other.

However, parties aren’t the pinnacle of DJ Sun's turn-tabling career. He performs a few times a month with The Vagabondz, a backpack culture collective that he joined in the beginning of his freshman year at the University of the Arts. The group originated in Harlem, New York, and is managed by expert lyricist, DaZay. He also does sets on Truwave, a Philadelphia based online radio station that primarily focuses on EDM and alternative sounds. The channel allows local, high profile DJs, most who produce their own music, to spin their records or mixes for a few hours. They then make it sharable by a link that can either be distributed via email, text message, or social media!

Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland for most of his life, DJ Sun immersed himself into the industry by developing his craft through classical music. Having a background with the harp (for fourteen years), it became his gateway to both music production and DJ’ing. In fact, he says that he treats DJ’ing as a type of instrument, waking up in the morning and practicing for a few hours before doing anything else. If that doesn’t prove him to be the epitome of dedication, perhaps, his prolificacy does.

Currently, he’s producing instrumentals and working on Eps and mix-tapes for/with an array of artists including one of his good friends and primarily EDM-trap producer, GoodBoy, who is co-producing his EP. He’s also working on singles with artists such as the multifaceted videographer, rapper, and designer, Rae Paradiso, as well as rapper, singer/songwriter, Joshua Tree.
DJ Sun also harbors a huge desire to connect and give artists he’s worked with the opportunity to network and collaborate with each other. He curated those with stylistic similarities and invited them to what he titled, Cypher Sunday’s, a studio session where rappers come together and freestyle on a series of instrumentals selected by himself and a few of his friends, who are also genius producers, making Cypher Sunday’s a plethora of promotion for everyone. Check it out below!

He also assembled & coordinated an event, along with DaZay, the Music Business Entrepreneurship & Technology major at the University of the Arts, Kyle Barret, and photographer, Anna Cordova, called The Beastcoast Bondz Bash. An epic concert that I went to, another event held in a dark room (because everyone knows that being around a lot of people at once is more enjoyable when you can barely see them.) The lineup was filled with raw talent, all matured artists using their musical abilities as strings to guide the response of the audience. The performers included Joshua Tree, BIA, Malik Ninety Five, Apollo, Watch Gang, Excursions, and The Vagabondz. 

Photographer: Kyle Barrett

Photographer: Kyle Barrett

Music brings interconnectedness that has a laser effect of being a narrow beam of light, finding listeners and attaching them to others either. I was first struck at the party, not only by DJ Sun, but by so many others just like us, with racing hearts when they hear their favorite song; whose skin tingles, blanketed with goosebumps when a rapper or singer delivers a spine-chilling verse.

Perhaps, the connection is bigger than basement parties, derived from something not so concrete or specific. It isn’t the love of the same music that brings people together, but simply the love of music in general. So, here I am, writing about a DJ who I’ve only gotten close enough to see from side-eye view at a party. It was as simple as both of us loving music enough to talk to each other. That’s what motivates me to write about music, and what motivates DJ Sun to make and mix it.

He states, “DJ’ing is my favorite thing in the world. When I drop a beat and everyone starts bopping their heads and there’s twenty thousand people, that’s a connection that everyone’s making at the same moment. You can’t beat that.” 

It is obvious that because of DJ Sun's solid work ethic, his career flourish and will take him well beyond the stars and back. Being only a freshman in college and already peddling down the road to success, The Hook will be following him for as long as possible. I already can’t wait for our follow up interview with him - our discussion focusing on the outcome of the projects afore-mentioned in the article. 

For more information on DJ Sun, or simply for the love of social media stalking (we all do it for one reason or another), check out his links below!

DJ Sun: Facebook // Instagram // Youtube // Soundcloud