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There are those who can listen to music, or watch television, or tune in to podcasts when they write. Normally, I’m not one of those people. I suck at multitasking and I’m easily distracted by anything louder than the button clicks coming from my keyboard. But when I need noise to drown out other noises, here’s what I listen to:
1. Waka Flocka Flame’s Big Homie Flocka (2018)
Big Homie Flocka is a mixtape meant to tide us over until Flockaveli 2 drops. It’s pretty minimalist and not meant for radio play, and I’ve never been into mixtapes, but I’ve been hungering for more and more synth bass in my rap and this delivers. Lyrically, Big Homie Flocka isn’t anything spectacular, but I can’t recall a Flocka verse I like more than “Shoutout to that fuck nigga, tried to rob me at the Wal-Mart; ran up on his car, had him eating shells like Mario Go-Kart” off 2010’s Flockaveli. The mixtape’s also clearly meant to feature other members of Flocka’s crew just as prominently; whether they be long-time collaborators or new voices, I’m not invested enough to know. Look out for the dude that sounds like Kermit the Frog.
2. Epica’s The Holographic Principle (2016)
During an afternoon drive, I decided to play The Holographic Principle after finding most of Nightwish’s music a little too tame for my symphonic metal fix. I was familiar with “Never Enough,” Epica’s 2007 hit, and I’m glad they’ve sustained that goosebump-inducing harmony of drums, guitar and chorus. The question I often ask myself while listening to The Holographic Principle is, “Can music ever be too epic?” With every replay, I remember the answer to that question is, “Of course not. Do people complain about too many orgasms?” There’s a level of layering and complexity that keeps their music from getting boring. And Simone Simons’s voice is pretty close to angelic.
3. Machine Head’s The Blackening (2007)
I’ve been listening to this album for eleven years now? And I still love it. The average track length is seven and a half minutes, which allows Machine Head to establish the same musical complexity as a band like Epica, but with far more urgency and anger. I don’t listen to a lot of heavy metal other than Metallica, but I think the melodic journey I get in The Blackening wins me over compared to most other albums in the genre. In summary, give it a whirl.