Interview with Brian Lovin(@brian_lovin)

It seems that the long haul of Junior year is finally coming to a close. As the year comes to a close my final AP test is behind me.

Tonight's interview is with Brian Lovin. Brian is a product designer at Buffer, a founder at Mvsic, and a podcaster for Design Details among other amazing things. Brian graciously agreed to answer some questions for me.

If you could speak with you 16 year old self, what would you say to him?

Don’t be so worried about what people think of you. Try not to overthink everything. Have fun and enjoy new experiences.

What is good design? How does one go about making it?

Overall, good design solves problems for people. I’d keep going, but I think Dieter Rams sums all this up better than I ever could:

What does your workspace look like?

It changes a bit every day - I find myself mostly working from coffeeshops or from our office here in SF! At our office we have glass tables for dry-erase markers which has been so helpful for quickly sketching ideas or brainstorming with other people. I generally enjoy working in quieter environments, sometimes with music.

How/why/when did you get into design?

Design has been an unscratchable itch in my life for the last 7 years or so, since I was a sophomore in high school. No matter what I was working on I found myself drawn towards the product creation process, creating useful  experiences and making things look visually attractive (as best as I could, anyways!). The work I’ve done over the years has evolved, but at the core of it all is the product design side which serves as a continual source of energy.

What can we expect from you in the future?

It would be amazing to look back and say that I’ve worked with great people, helped others along their journey, shipped products that improved people’s lives and in some small way or another made someone out there happier than they would have been otherwise.

What is your opinion on the college process? Where did you go to school, if anywhere?

I went to school at Baylor U. in Texas. Overall I think college is a good thing - there’s a lot of debate going on right now about the merits of higher ed and I can definitely empathize with both sides of the table. For me it was a way to get exposure to new people and new ideas that I wouldn’t have otherwise had, and that’s been invaluable.

I think that college is what you make of it. Some people take different paths at school, and none of them are inherently bad. I chose for myself to work a lot and miss out some of the social aspects of college. I had my fair share of fun, but overall I’d say my experience revolved a lot around work, side projects and learning new things.

Interview with Mark Gurman(@markgurman)

Although my efforts to get an interview with Chance the Rapper failed me I still have had some luck! Today we have an interview with an amazing tech-blogger. Mark Gurman is a highly accomplished journalist and writes for

Those who follow Apple know that Mark is on another level. I don't know if it's magic, or super intelligence but he really knows his stuff.

Here are my five questions with Mr. Mark Gurman...

How did you get into writing? And specifically tech writing?

I have always been interesting in technology and Apple specifically. In fall 2009, I located a domain name indicating Apple was working on a tablet. This was a few weeks before the original iPad was announced. After this discovery, I began writing about Apple. 

When did you start working at 9 to 5?

I started around the announcement of the first iPad. 

Apple watch...absolute flop or wild success?

Eventually a wild success, never a flop, nothing runaway on the first generation. 

If you could go back in time and talk to your 16 year old self, what would you say to him?

Do what's best for you. 

And what can we expect from you in the future?

I'm working on some startup businesses, but I feel I always still be connected to the news world in some fashion. We'll see. 


Thanks so much for your time Mark!

Chance the Rapper: disruption's influence and interview with Nathan Goldenberg

This is the last post of my three-week-long piece covering Chance the Rapper. Its been fun learning about and listening to this interesting artist, as well as working with Brendan Kirk on the second part of the piece. So now it is time to wrap it all up.

In conclusion...

Last weekend while I was taking the SAT, one of my reading sections covered creativity and the possibility of making requirements in order to better discern who or what is truly creative.

The general thesis of the passage was that something or someone can only be creative if it is recognized as such. Thus, Emily Dickinson was not creative when she first published her poems because it took years and years for her to be recognized for her work.

So, by these terms certainly Chance is creative. He has garnered serious acclaim for his music in the past years and is appreciated, even idolized by many. He is inspiring a new era of rappers  - hopeful young men and women looking to mimic and build upon his new sound.

How do I know? Well on of such inspired young rappers attends my school. Nathan Goldenberg, or Natey G is a hip-hop artist in my grade who says his biggest influence is Chance. Why? 

"Chances integration of a wide variety of musical elements makes chance different from other rappers. Not only is chance a dope rapper but he has a great voice which fits perfectly with his funky style. Chances partner ship with donny trumpet also pushes chance past most rappers today. Donny's brass is always a pleasant surprise on a chance track. Finaly chance just has the dopest addlib in the game and thats a fact. Aigh!"

Natey G recently released his single April Showers, a really catchy song with the same kind of "old-time" influence as Chance. Instead of the soul music Chano employs Natey G opts for a remixed version of March Winds and April Showers, a song popularized during the 1920s. 

Just to keep with my interviewing roots I decided to interview Nathan to get a better perspective on his rapping and how Chance has factored into his experience.

How did you get into rapping?

I started rapping with a child hood friend of mine at age 11. Although I wasn't that committed I still loved putting down the shittiest bars you will ever hear. I really started to pick things up sophomore year when I was granted access to a professional studio. Being able to learn the ins and outs of recording with top of the line equipment drove me to put out more content and really get things rolling.

What do you find special about rap as a genre?

The special part about rap is the ability to develop your own unique style. When a friend runs a rap song I can easily identify the artist because each artist has there own flow, tone, and style. Developing this lyrical identity is the coolest thing about rap because you can take it any direction you want to go, the possibilities are endless.

What rappers do you look up to? Why?

Chance the Rapper is my favorite rapper out there right now. His style is so new and sets him aside from anyone in the game. I love his incorporation of vocals on his tracks and the live instruments he spits over. A lot of people get hung up on his voice, but I think it's fly as fuck. Chance is my main inspiration when it comes to rapping and I've learned a lot just from running his shit.

Let's say, you meet up with Natey G seven years from now. What's he going to be up to?

In 7 years Natey G is gonna be doing big things. I dont know if it will be music, but I know its gonna be big, I can feel it.

Are you attending college?

I plan on attending college because education is the key to success. If you have the funds to go... why not? Sure you can make a living without going to college but a college education will go a lot further opening up endless job opportunities. If all else fails, music, college, life... I'll be in California running my own farm. Peace.

Nathan is an example of a new generation of rappers learning and getting inspired by artists like Chance the Rapper. So is he creative? Is he inspirational? I would say yes.

(Before we continue please check out Nathan's Soundcloud and Youtube Channel.)

The second, and possibly more concrete reason why I believe Chance the Rapper is important is his disruptive tendencies in terms of how he treats music as a career.

First things first Chance makes no money off his music. All downloads are free and he never puts his own albums or mixtape on iTunes or Google Play, or Amazon. Although other artists do the same with mixtape and singles, Chance completely runs with the "free" concept. 

In the same way that apps are often offered for free with in app-purchases driving profits, Chance makes his money after his listeners are hooked.

How? Performances, tours, merchandising. It's certainly a risky concept, making music your career without selling music but Chance's wild success is creating a lot of conversation regarding the necessity of paid music or record labels.

So that's why he is important. Chance is illustrating to Nathan Goldenberg and other young musicians like him that a record label or an iTunes account, it means nothing. Make good music and you can make it work.

According to Chance is worth a million bucks as of 2015.

Everyone can learn from that. Perfect your craft and let the Xs and Os come later. 

Chance is a creative, original, disruptive artist succeeding by flipping the music industry on its head. That's pretty cool. 

Even though I have yet to get my chance to interview Chance, I encourage all of you to listen to his music and check out this interview here. Not only is Chance a fantastic musician but also an extremely thoughtful human, concerned with lives other than his own.

Chance the Rapper: the gift of suspension

As I continued to research Chancelor Bennett, his musical I.Q. and performing prowess, it became clear to me that I was not the most adept at commenting on this side of Chance. I am a big fan of good music and do believe myself to have a "good ear." However, Brendan Kirk, my fellow Weston High School student, surpasses me in understanding of Rap and Chance the Rapper as a subject.

When I asked Brendan to write a guest post about Chance, he  simply replied: 

I love Chance.

So for this post I turn it over to him...

It was obvious: everyone loved him; he loveD everyone; he worked hard; and he loooved to perfom.

Chancelor Bennett is arguably the most exciting and popular artist to come out of Chicago since Kanye West. He is the first artist from Chicago in several years to truly make such an impact on the world of hip-hop. The only reason I use the word "arguably" here is because I believe fellow SaveMoney affiliate, and high school peer Victor Mensah (a.k.a. Vic Mensa) makes a strong case as well.

A brief aside on Vic...


Due to Vic's start in the hip-hop/blues/jazz collective Kids These Days, it's not a surprise that many of Vic's tracks are heavily infused with musical artistry and diversity. He frequently brings new things to the table, as does Chance, which creates a very innovative discography between the two of them.

Back to Chance.

Chance started the same as everyone else. Born Chancelor Bennett (but you might know him as Chance or Chano) on April 16, 1993, he is a mere 21 years old. To put that into perspective, both David and I could have ridden the bus to school with Chance every day if we had lived in Chicago and gone to the same school. From a young age, he showed plenty of interest in music, but kept his taste strictly to soul and jazz. By the time he turned double-digits, however, a brand new artist came onto the scene in his hometown cityKanye West. It was Kanye's first album, The College Dropout that marked the beginning of Chance's interest in rap.

In middle school, he participated in poetry programs at YOUmedia after begging the Lead Mentor, Mike Hawkins, to allow him to perform his rap songs instead of poetry. Later, Harold Washington Library put on a citywide contest with a simple topic: write a song for Chicago. Chano jumped on this opportunity, and submitted Beddy Bye.  Although it was never officially released, Chance got the opportunity to perform the song for important Chi-Towners, including the mayor, after placing second in the contest.

However, every great mind has an Achilles heel. For Chance, the only issue he had with his rapping was remembering his own lyrics. After Hawkins insisted he would not be able to captivate crowds if he continued forgetting his songs, Chance never failed to finish a track. Not long after, he experienced another roadblock. But great minds make the best out of hard timesin early 2011, Chance was suspended from school for two school weeks, ten days.

He was walking into school one day when he remembered he had a blunt in his pocket. As he recalls it, he said, "swoop," and proceeded to walk out the door. He then walked a few blocks down the street and ran into his friends smoking in an alleyway. Chance took out his pot to smoke it, and next thing he knew, he was cuffed by a police officer and brought to the school administration.

This unfortunate suspension turned out to be the luckiest thing to happen to Bennett. Thankfully for us listeners, he spent the two weeks working hard on new songs, wasting no time. In December of 2011, Chano released Windows as a public announcement of his new project, titled 10Day.

10Day was released four months later, on April 3, 2012 on DatPiff. It has since been downloaded 323,755 times, on DatPiff alone. After the release of 10Day, Chano was featured on Childish Gambino's ROYALTY Mixtape, which debuted on Independence Day of 2012. Chance joined Gambino on tour the same summer.

Just over a year after 10DayAcid Rap was released. It was Chance's second full-length piece and it blew 10Day out of the water in terms of downloads. Downloaded over 900,000 times on DatPiff, it became a DatPiff double-platinum tape.

It was after Acid Rap that Chance started to gather widespread acclaim as a rising star. In August 2013, he performed at Lollapalooza, and began his Social Experiment tour on October 25, ending on December 19. He continued to play shows for his adoring fans, and in June 2014 he played a fantastic set at Governor's Ball Musical Festival, where he debuted his masterful rendition of the Arthur theme David discussed earlier.

I should know - I was there, front and center. He rocked Gotham Tent for the full hour he was allotted and it was at this point that I knew he was going to explode even more than he had already. It was obvious: everyone loved him; he loved everyone; he worked hard; and he loooved to perform.

What's next for Chance? Well, he has a new mixtape looming with The Social Experiment and Donnie Trumpet, but as of now there is no official date set. All I have gathered is that Chance the Rapper, 21 years old, out of Chicago, will not disappoint.


Key tracks


14,400 Minutes

This song explains the story of Chance’s suspension and what happened afterwards with his academics. Cleverly titled, fourteen thousand four hundred equals 10 (days) times 60 (minutes in an hour) times 24 (hours in a day).

It’s a fun song to listen to, with light concepts, and cool instrumentation.


Windows was the first and only single released for Chance’s first project. Undoubtedly the most upbeat song on the mixtape, it’s a song about living life, and having a good time while doing it. Great summertime tune.

Hey Ma

To end 10Day, Chance drops a slow jam, thanking his mom for everything she’s done for him. He uses his classic Chanish style, resulting in a great song with a great subject matter. As the song closes, he lists off a handful of moms of the people that have helped him along the way, because according to him, without the mothers, there would be no 10Day, and no Chance The Rapper.


Acid Rap

Good Ass Intro

If you were to click play on an album and notice the first track is an intro, would you have any expectation that it would become one of your favorite songs? Would you expect that it took seven months to create the introduction on Chance’s follow-up project to 10Day?

The answer to both of these questions should invariably be no, but it did, in fact, take seven months, and many people have it ranked as their #1 Chano song. Chance himself calls it "the thesis of the tape," so I suggest you see for yourself why it really is a good-ass intro.

Pusha Man / Paranoia

The first song on this track, Pusha Man, displays Chance’s ultra-confidence in his talent as a musician, and as a rapper, among other things. The unique flow makes for 140 seconds that you don’t want to miss.

At the 2:48 mark, the hidden song, Paranoia, begins. This song is certainly Chance’s most powerful and emotional one. It’s also my favorite song of his. The title itself refers to the paranoia people from the Chi experience on a day-to-day basis. It covers the lack of coverage in the media about Chicago’s extreme violence. The song starts out strong with an excellent double entendre:

    “Move to the neighborhood; I bet they don’t stay for good, watch.
    Somebody’ll steal daddy’s Rollie, call it the neighborhood watch.”

Paranoia is deep, gritty, well done, and well worth multiple listens.

Interlude (That’s Love)

Typical Chance. Who else would make a two-plus minute interlude promoting love following a song about acknowledging self-worth? That’s Love won’t fail to bring a smile to your face, and if the lyrics are in front of you, prepare for a substantial helping of goosebumps.

Acid Rain

According to iTunes, I’ve listened to Acid Rain one hundred six times. If you’re unfamiliar with the iTunes play-counter, plays are measured by completion of a song. Because of this, mixed with the fact that my friends play the song on their phones a lot means that I’ve listened to that songs quite a few more times than just 106. It’s just too spectacular not to play it when I come across it.

In basic terms, without the intricate lyrics and Chanish wordplay, the song is a complex look at Chance’s life. He takes a look back, while on acid, reflecting on many things, including people he’s associated with, especially all the “spineless bitches in backless dresses.” Interesting flow, mixed with a great beat, adds up to endless replay value (and at least 106 plays!).

Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)

This project comes to a close in a deliberately similar way to that of 10Day. This time, Chance thanks his father in a phone conversation for always being there, rather than his mother like in the last mixtape.

Chano drops a few bars, in a very positive tone, discussing his up and downs, ultimately coming to the conclusion that everything’s good.

Once the vocals stop, there’s one more minute of beauty to be experienced. Chance takes elements from many of the songs on the mixtape, including Juice, Good Ass Intro, NaNa, and Favorite Song, to perfectly sum up the album.


The Social Experiment

Sunday Candy

The first single for SoX’s upcoming album, Surf, is an interesting one. Filled to the brim with horns and piano, Chance and friends detail Chance’s grandmother and her deep roots in Catholicism. Chano views the holy bread at his weekly communion as his “Sunday candy.”

No Better Blues

SoX and Chance deliver a song unlike anything I’ve ever heard with No Better Blues. All of Chance’s vocals consist of him listing things he “hates.” In reality, he doesn’t hate the things he talks about. Instead, he’s mocking all the people he encounters that live their lives negatively in an extremely bold way.

ACID RAP vs. 10day

While 10Day and Acid Rap are both great mixtapes in my opinion, they each have their own strengths, themes, topics, flows, musical value, etc.

10Day’s concepts are much less thoughtful than those that make up Acid Rap. In the former, the young artist spends a lot of time discussing his cigarette/pot-smoking interests, along with countless references to how many days he was suspended for. There is also a lot less musicality involved with 10Day than with his second tape. Make no mistake; I’m a big fan of 10Day. However, it is his first solo piece of work, so one shouldn’t expect the most mature mixtape, especially from a 19 year old.

Acid Rap is a very personal mixtape. Chano takes the listener on a trip with him through his life, and many songs are reflections on past decisions. This all culminates with Acid Rain, when Chance really explores himself with a microphone in his hand.

Lyricism isn’t the only thing that develops from mixtape to mixtape. Acid Rap also features much more instrumentation that adds to the layers of this work.


As David said previously, rap is theoretically nothing buy rhythm and poetry. But, for quite some time now, rap and hip-hop have been dominated by emcees like Dr. Dre, Jay-Z, Game, and Drake, who, while talented, tend to rap about concepts that Chance doesn’t really touch upon. I’m a big fan of Jay, and Dre, and I like Game, and I refuse to say they stick to rapping about “money, clothes, and hoes,” because that’s simply not true. I will say, however, that you won’t hear Chance rapping about it being a cold day in Miami before snitching on the hood, or that “bitches ain’t shit.”

  • Is Chance a rapper?

    • Yes, technically.

  • Does he fit in with rap culture?

    • Not always.

  • Does he bring something new to the game?

    • Absolutely.

Because of this, I feel that while Chance is talented, he isn’t quite a rapper in the everyday meaning of the word. Yeah, he fits the Oxford definition of “rapper,” but not every dictionary definition captures the true meaning of the word in common language. Meanings chance, and I personally believe that at this point in time, Chance isn’t simply a rapper. He’s more than that.

He’s a musician. A talented one.


Part 3 Next Week: The take away.

Chance the Rapper: the startup minded, Chicago-bred, kid wonder

Disclosure: I am not, and do not claim to be a music critic. I like music, I play the trumpet and that's about it. 


Like most good things, I found this on the internet...

For those of you who can't quite make it out, this is an incredible, genius, complex interpretation of the Arthur theme song. Arthur is a show that was started back in 1996 on PBS. It's your classic "family animated sitcom" that delivers life lessons through a family of aardvarks and their surrounding animal community. 

For kids of my generation it is a classic in its own right, and its theme song is just as synonymous with our childhood as the show itself. When I heard this rendition of the song, "Believe in Yourself," originally created by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, I was taken aback. It is, in my mind, just perfect. It sounds like it should be the closing act  at the Grammy's or even the Oscars. It's anthemic, it's powerful, it's full, it's perfect. And if you haven't listened to it at this point, please do.

The artist behind this piece is Chancelor Bennett, better known by his stage name Chance the Rapper. For our purposes, we'll stick with Chance. This guy, is the real deal.

There are a number reasons why I, and many other people, believe Chance is different and important. First, and probably most important is his music.

Although just a taste, these five tracks, mainly dominated by Chance's Acid Rap mixtape, elucidate the fact that: this is complex, creative music.

It's music for any age: enjoyable flow partnered with unusual melodies. More on that later...

And now for most of you reading this. Techies, designers, or anyone in between. Why is Chance important? Why is his story important? Because he, and the way in which he goes about "the rap game," is different. He has a perspective that mimics the same disruptive nature that tech companies such as Apple or Tesla have.

 Chance is rapping, making money, and living his life in an image resembling Steve Jobs. Ruthless, creative, passionate, disruptive, and at times a little high.


Part 2 next week: The gift of suspension

Interview with Matt Richman(@MattRichman)

I am a huge basketball fan. Unfortunately my "hometown" team, the Knicks, are awful -- the worst in fact. However, I'm still a fan of the game and the NBA as a league. So, I thought I would share one of the cooler plays I have seen in a while(Mike Dunleavy of the Bulls makes some volleyball magic in a basketball game).

Tonight's interview is with a "young gun" of sorts in the tech-blogging world. Matt Richman, according to his blog, is "a sophomore at Temple University" and is "looking for a summer internship" (so if you, Silicon Valley exec are, for some reason,seeing this, give this guy a job!). Matt is also an extremely smart and savvy blogger who has been linked to, or mentioned by, everyone from Dalrymple, to Gruber, to Dediu(kind of my holy trinity).

The best part of it all? He's in college! Just goes to show, age is really just a number. Here are my five questions with Matt:

How did you get into tech blogging/writing?

I’ve always been interested in technology and I’ve been reading about it for as long as I can remember. In early 2011, I thought, “Hey, all these people I’m reading — it’s just their opinions, and I have opinions too!” So I started publishing them.

You go to Temple University. What is your opinion on the university system? As a Junior in high school, what is your advice for me: college or skip it?

America’s university system is unjust and deeply flawed, but unless you have extraordinary circumstances — good or bad — I think it’s best to go.

What is going to be the biggest product of this year? (Doesn't have to be announced yet)

I think Apple Watch will be bigger than many pundits expect it to be.

What is your favorite blog, other than your own?

It depends on the day. I’m a big fan of Tech.pinions, Monday Note, Daring Fireball, Stratechery, and many others.

If you could speak to your 16 year old self, what would you say to him?

Your parents are awesome. Appreciate them more than you do.

Interview with Brent Christy(@brentchristy)

Junior year of high school. Like nothing else. Between school work and running 8+ miles a day, I haven't had much time to post any interviews. But with the new year upon us I am trying to do better.

So here's the first interview of 2015:

Brent Christy is a cinematographer and member of the production company, Caravan.

For those interested, according to a short Google search, a cinematographer is:

The cinematographer or director of photography (DP) is the person in charge of actually shooting the film. He is the head of the camera and lighting departments, and as such he has a big role in the making of any movie.

I stumbled upon Brent after seeing his name on the Two Minutes With TGD website. After a little more surfing and research I found Brent's personal site and realized that this guy was seriously talented. Thus far, my favorite video Brent has worked on is Grape Soda. It's an awesome short film.

If Brent had to described himself with three inanimate objects they would be:

Kooshy stressball, wind chime, and spork


How did you get into making videos?

It's all thanks to a community college television course, my friend Brandon getting me an internship that turned into a job at a cable access television station, and some divine intervention.  

If you could speak with your 16 year old self, what would you say to him?

I'd keep the words minimal. No spoilers.  I'd just want him to have hope knowing we'd at least make it this far. And I'd give him a long hug. We both like hugs. 

Who has been your biggest role model?

My family, both by blood and by life circumstance. It's important to have people outside of your career who love you just because you exist, whose paths of life diverged with yours at the right time. 

What has been your favorite or one of your favorite videos?

I've always been inspired by the comedic. When you add production value to that equation, it's masterful. I'll always be thankful for The Lonely Island and Spike Jonze. Both entities created a beautiful wonder inside of me concerning the power of video. 

Fast forward 10 years. What are you doing, Monday afternoon

I'm holding my wife's hand. We're watching "I Love You, Man" for the 400th time. We're crying laughing. Our son is building a pirate ship out of Legos on the floor. I then get into my cryotube and sleep for 15 minutes, equivalent to 8 hours in 10 years prior sleep time. I eat my meal cube for nutrients. I then hop on my hover skateboard to get back to work after the kind of lunch break I really needed.