Category Archives: Arts + Entertainment

Album Review: Drip Or Drown 2

by Nnamdi Chugbo

On February 22nd, 2019, Atlanta-based rapper Gunna released his debut album and first project of 2019, “Drip or Drown 2.”

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Gunna had a very strong 2018, to say the least. In February of 2018, Gunna gave fans arguably his best piece of work of all time in “Drip Season 3.” He then continued to collaborate with big-time artists such as Lil Baby, Travis Scott, Playboi Carti, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Tory Lanez, and even with Mariah Carey. His collaborative mixtape “Drip Harder” with Lil Baby was certified as RIAA gold (500,000 units sold), and it featured the 2018 hit single “Drip Too Hard, which was certified RIAA platinum (1,000,000 units sold).

Looking to further his success in the past year, Gunna delivered a 16-track album to his fans with the two lead singles “One Call” and “Speed It Up.” The album is executively produced by Wheezy and Turbo the Great, and brings in the likes of Playboi Carti, Young Thug, and Lil Baby for featuring verses on “Same Yung N*gga,” “3 Headed Snake,” and “Derrick Fisher.”

Throughout the album, Gunna smoothly sails over calming, melodic beats while rapping about expensive clothing, new cars, and the high life. Gunna holds a high reputation for consistently bringing out the best of soothing acoustic guitar beats, and he truly delivered once again on songs such as “Richie Millie Plan” and “Out The Hood.” Gunna even floats on a beat with a Chinese sample from Tong-Li on “Who You Foolin,” where he speaks about keeping his faith in God and staying focused on his work to avoid all the fake people and evil facades in his life.

While it boasts some impressive qualities, “Drip or Drown 2″ is not a perfect project, however. The album is consumed by slow paced songs, which Gunna excels in. The album completely dismisses the amazing melodic value that Gunna can bring to fast paced beats.

Overall, the album delivers a solid 16-track soundtrack of relaxed beats that Gunna complements well with his unique style of sing-rapping. “Drip or Drown 2″ brings in the firepower of some solid features while not over-saturating it with too many. As always, Gunna’s production from Wheezy and Turbo the Great is top tier, arguably the best in the game right now.

The album lacks the powerful fast paced charm of his 2018 project “Drip Season 3,” but still puts his incomparable melodic talents to display. Listeners should definitely be excited for the rest of Gunna’s work in 2019, as the young artist has much space for improvement and experimenting.

Album Review: Father Of 4

by Christian James

We see another side to Migos member Offset with his newly released album, Father Of 4.”

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Offset is a memeber of the famous rap group “Migos,” which includes fellow superstars Quavo and Takeoff. The trio mostly raps together, but in the past year all three have dropped their own solo album. With recently new solo albums “Quavo Huncho” by Quavo and “The Last Rocket” by Takeoff, Offset was up to the plate. Both of these albums had great reviews, but Offset’s new album “Father of 4” blows them out in comparison.

Offset usually raps about money, women, and his hometown of Atlanta, but in this album he does more then that. This project is a lot more personal, which makes it more meaningful for his listeners. There has been a whole lot of news – good and bad – regarding his personal life with his wife, Cardi B, and his four children. Offset reflects all of this into this album for all of his listeners to hear. Seeing this side of him, many listeners – fan or not – have been drawn to his album.

His first song on this project is “Father of 4” where he mainly addresses his struggles raising his children and his gratitude towards them individually. Offset describes the hard life he went through when he was poor and didn’t have a stable job when his daughters were initially born. He was trying anything to provide for his family, whether that meant breaking the law or not.

Being consumed by all this worry, Offset was not always there for his daughter at special times like her birthday, and he apologized for that in this song. He wanted to tell his daughters his story to show them that he really cared for them. In this song he also shows his love for his son and recently newborn daughter, Kulture. He raps about how much his son acts similar towards him and how he promises to protect Kulture from the world. He wants to redeem himself for everything he couldn’t do when he was poor.

In “Don’t Lose Me” – another track on the album – Offset explains his downfall with Cardi B and how he is truly sorry for allegedly cheating on her. He calls himself selfish for breaking their promise and that he is trying his best to be a better person. He wants another chance to treat her like a queen and shower her with diamonds like she deserves. Looking at the song “Clout” featuring no other than Cardi B herself, it seems as if she forgives him. Cardi – in this song – tells all her adversaries to stop using her and Offset’s name for fame and to back off. 

The album contains many popular features such as J.Cole, Gunna, CeeLo Green, Travis Scott, 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, and Quavo. With this album selling 77k-82k copies in the first week, Offset is gaining a reputation from his audience that his talent level has now made him the best rapper out of the “Migos.”

Album Review: Harverd Dropout

by Nick Hernandez

On February 22nd at 12:00 AM, Miami rapper Lil Pump finally released his long awaited Harverd Dropout.

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Harverd Dropout is the second album Lil Pump has dropped in his 3 years of being in the rap game. His debut album Lil Pump was released in October of 2017, eventually being certified Gold, having sold 500,000 copies. His newest project, Harverd Dropout, much like his first has an assortment of features from highly acclaimed rappers – including Kanye West, Smokepurpp, Offset, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, YG and 2 Chainz – and his tracks sponsor the boastful lifestyle of the 18-year old rapper.

The album’s titled Harverd Dropout intentionally spelled incorrectly, paying homage to the time Pump incorrectly spelled Harvard University. Even more so, it is derived from the rapper’s fanbase and the ongoing joke that Pump attended Harvard University only to drop out of school to pursue his rap career. He has addressed this multiple times in tracks outside of this album, but the song on this project that offers a glimpse into how Pump views it is “Drop Out.”

As Lil Pump puts it, “[I] dropped out, then I got rich … [I] dropped out, knowing I was going be a star.” He says this in a nonchalant manner, implying that his rise to fame was fairly simple and his career so far has been very successful.

Throughout the album, each track follows Lil Pump’s generic style involving sex, money and drugs; in his circumstance this seems to be a subject which he will not break from any time soon as – in a sense – it is what sells his music.

In addition to him continuing to talk about these profanities, it should be taken into account that Pump can still be defined by the stereotype of being very repetitive. The most popular culprit in this case is Lil Pump’s 2017 platinum record, “Gucci Gang” and in Harverd Dropout, his repetitive nature seems to be nowhere near ending. In total, of the 16 songs on Harverd Dropout, 11 feature an absurdly monotonous chorus.

The 11 songs which contain a repeating chorus are “Drop Out”, “Nu Uh”, “I Love It”, “Racks on Racks”, “Off White”, “Too Much Ice”, “Multi Millionaire”, “Vroom Vroom Vroom”, “Be Like Me”, “Stripper Name” and “Drug Addicts”, wherein the tracks replay the chorus at maximum, three times. Another detail to take note of is that from his 16 track album, seven of the songs were singles – that is – they were released prior to Harverd Dropout yet Pump still included them in the project.

One of the singles that was included in Harverd Dropout received a lot of controversy over a racial slur that Pump wrote into the song. The offender, “Butterfly Doors” released on January 4th of this year, and many of his fans noticed the blatant racial connotation when Pump in the song was quoted as saying the following, “Smoking on dope, they call me Yao Ming cause my eyes real low (Ching Chong).”

Pump is notorious for his drug-related lyrics and way of life; this verse is a nod to Pump’s love for marijuana but he didn’t consider the negative repercussions that would follow the song’s release. “Butterfly Doors” received a lot of backlash from multiple racial and ethnic communities and their reception to the song forced him to censor the line that contained the offense. Pump made a public statement through an Instagram post where he apologized for what was said and everything seemed to settle down for the rapper.

Reception of the album was particularly mixed, in that most reviews came to the consensus that although the album was not particularly good substance-wise, it is a successful “crowd pleaser.” Despite Lil Pump’s efforts to produce content with high grade lyrical quality, the album does serve its purpose with respect to who the composer is and his fanbase. Pump often creates music that entertains the younger generation’s partying lifestyle and the album he constructed fits perfectly into this class.  

 

A+E: BatFleck No More

by Nick Hernandez

As of Wednesday January 30th, Ben Affleck tweeted and has seemingly alluded to his resignation as the role of Batman.

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This news was revealed when The Hollywood Reporter stated that “Matt Reeves, [upcoming film] ‘The Batman’ [will premiere] on June 25, 2021, following a recent interview with [Reeves] about the plot, the movie’s villains, and more.” When news sources got wind of this, many twitter accounts posted about the feature film and shortly after, current Batman actor, Ben Affleck had this to say:

Affleck’s tweet implied that he would not be featured, nor be reprising his role in the film and after making this statement, many fans were shocked to hear the information that came about.

Ben released this statement after director Matt Reeves announced his plans for a Batman movie starring the Caped Crusader in his earlier days, meaning that a new actor would need to be cast and seemingly had Affleck retire from the role.  

However, while it seems that Ben would not return to portray Batman again, fans and co-workers of him alike are remaining optimistic and hope to see Affleck return to the spotlight. Ray Fisher, the current actor portraying the Justice League’s Cyborg, had this to say about the whole situation.

“It’s my understanding that it’s going to be a younger take on Batman,” Fisher says. “So that’s not to say that our older version of Batman can’t show back up.”  

Many fans are both hopeful for Affleck’s return and anxious to hear about news following the casting decision on who will premiere in the solo film, but most importantly the man set to fill the role as The Dark Knight.

 

Album Review: Pi’erre and Cardo’s Wild Adventure

by Nnamdi Chugbo

On December 26th, 2018, producer and rapper Pi’erre Bourne joined vapor trap producer CardoGotWings to surprise fans with an upbeat, 14 track mixtape to end off an insane 2018 for the two artists.

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Pi’erre Bourne is most widely known for his production and work with Atlanta-based rappers Playboi Carti and Young Nudy, however many listeners are unaware of his lyrical and rapping talents. He decided to focus on rapping in this project and left the production to Texas-based producer, CardoGotWings.

Pi’erre Bourne stuck to his usual rapping style and topics, a mix of rapping and singing with a light autotune over happy, upbeat trap beats. While Pi’erre is widely regarded to be the best trap producer in the game as of now, he chose to use exclusively CardoGotWings’ beats for this project.

He rapped about love in songs such as “Quicksand,” and heartbreak in songs like “Kevin Durant.” This song name came about due to Kevin Durant commenting his praises on a preview of the song that Pi’erre Bourne posted to his Instagram account. Pi’erre even talks about the oppression and problems that African Americans face in the tracks “My Calendar” and “Civil Rights.”

The mixtape did a great job of keeping listeners engaged due to having a consistent vibe with each track, while also making sure every song has a new feel to it. This discouraged repetition, which is often seen with many rappers. It seems that Bourne is making a great case to prove to the general public that he is more than just a producer and can in fact be great behind the microphone, too.

The project also serves as a preview and teaser for Pi’erre Bourne’s well anticipated new project, TLOP4. The Life of Pi’erre 4 is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2019 and will continue to strengthen Pi’erre’s campaign as a studio rapper and not just a producer.

Overall, Pi’erre and Cardo’s Wild Adventure was a greatly timed project for Pi’erre Bourne to build hype for his next major project, The Life of Pierre 4. Pi’erre paired great, cheery beats with smooth vocals and clever lyrics to deliver a smooth project for his fans. This ends off a strong 2018 campaign as a producer and rapper.

The sky’s the limit for this young artist, who has often been compared to a young and fresh Kanye West in terms of talent and skill when it comes to production and rapping. Pi’erre’s fanbase should be excited to see what he has in store for 2019 and beyond.

 

Album Review: XXXTENTACION Presents: Members Only, Vol 4

by Joshua Lucero

Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy – also known as XXXTentacion – was born in Florida and became a worldwide-known musician in 2017.

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Tentacion has influenced many young people with his albums that are a true touching of the inner feelings of one’s heart. XXX – in the beginning of his career – was troubled with charges of domestic violence and facing prison time. In this part of his life, there were many fans who believed he was a lost cause, but in many ways XXX proved to the world that he was changing.

Look at me, which was released on Soundcloud in December 2015, was his rising start to the top. People fell in love with the energetic Broward County rapper and watched him evolve to take on several different aspects of music.

XXX would later die on June 18th, 2018 in Florida from a horrific shooting that would shock many. During his life, XXX released many well known albums, such as Revenge released in 2017, 17 released in 2017, and ? released in 2018. After his death, we were given two more albums, one titled Skins that was later released after his death.

Most recently, we were given XXXTENTACION Presents: Members Only, Vol 4 released on January 23rd, 2019, which would have been XXX’s 21st birthday.

Members Only, Vol. 4 is filled with lesser-known talent. The project has Tentacion working with a collaboration of artists, such as Ski Mask the Slump God, Rawhool Mane, Cooliecut, Craig Xen, Kin$soul, Bass Santana and more.

This album consists of 24 songs that last for an hour and five minutes. Out of 24 songs, XXX has one solo song titled Sauce! which reminds us of who he was with the line “Huh, do not be alarmed, this is just for fun.”

XXX has four other songs that he has collaborated with other artist. We are given a reminder of who Tentacion was, rather than remembering the negative aspects surrounding his name. Our remembrance of him is of an uplifting and happy person, which is implied within these songs.

The final song in Members Only, Vol 4 is titled Rebirth (2016) which is a snippet from XXX’s many words speaking on what life is to him.

Speaking on what people do in their life, there is always a reason behind the actions that create your life story. Tentacion goes on to say “the people who struggle the most or get it the hardest will succeed in the end, I promise you.”

People like X have came from a hard beginning, but the barriers that he had encountered are obstacles that are possible to overcome. This interpretation can go further into saying to never give up no matter the situation, because life will take care of you as long as you don’t give up on yourself.

Lastly, XXX unfortunately predicts his own death with the line “And if I end up getting shot and killed for what the f**k I’m doing, it’s ’cause I deserve it” in the album. This is one part of XXX that is known for being a touching artist who did more than make music, but connected to his fans on a personal level.

Movie Review: Glass

by Nick Hernandez

Glass, released on January 19th, concluded the 19-year-long trilogy created by actor and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan.

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The movie was received very poorly and many critics went as far as saying that the finale was disappointing. Their overall consensus on Rotten Tomatoes showed a rating of 36 percent, while audience approval was much higher, receiving a 76 percent instead.

Shyamalan’s three-part series follows characters who on the outside look like the average man, but are revealed to possess superhuman abilities. From his first film ‘Unbreakable’ in 2000, Shyamalan attempted to create a narrative that relied on comic history and the looming possibility of heightened powers far surpassing man.

He went even further 17 years later when ‘Split’ debuted, showcasing a man with 24 personalities, where among them a Beast lies. This film’s ending presented the first glimpse at the Beast, a creature that is part animal and part man, all of which defy nature. Finally, ‘Glass’ unveils a mastermind with a superior intellect, and a plot, pitting the two strong men against each other.

Glass begins with a introduction into the main characters lives’ in the present day. ‘Unbreakable’ protagonist David Dunn works as a vigilante of sorts, providing justice for those would never receive it from the Law. He and his son are tasked with figuring out who has been kidnapping and murdering female high school students.

At this point, the audience is introduced to Kevin Crumb, the multi-personality star of 2017’s ‘Split.’ He has captured another group of students and awaits the Beast’s arrival for their sacrifice.

After some time, David Dunn locates the warehouse where the girls are being kept and sets them free, however this is after the Beast has emerged from Kevin and the two battle for the first time. Both use brute strength and try to overpower the other, but before a clear winner can be determined proper authorities arrive on the scene and stop the two from causing any more damage.

David and Kevin are taken to a mental institution where they are greeted by Dr. Ellie Staple. Her purpose in this movie is to convince these men that they do not have super powers, and that all they believe in is a hoax. Dr. Staple also has a third patient who she must treat, Elijah Glass who is arguably the smartest man alive. Elijah’s plan within the movie revolves around allowing the world to witness the truth about superheroes and their existence. Glass, being as smart as he is, is constantly monitored by the staff along with a multitude of cameras both within and surrounding the building. In essence it should be impossible for Elijah to carry out his plan but he still manages to do so. After two days of being in the facility, Dr. Staple hosts a meeting between all three men where she is able to bring about heavy doubt in the minds of Kevin and David as they start to believe their powers are anything but real.

That night, Elijah’s plan gears into motion when he meets with Kevin to discuss the possibility of having the Beast fight David Dunn once again. Kevin agrees and they carry on to the next day where Elijah frees Kevin from his room, and they begin to break out of the institution. Before leaving, Mr. Glass talks to David through an intercom and tells of his plan to blow up a building with thousands of people inside it. The only way for David to stop this is by breaking out of his cell, defeating the Beast and ultimately proving the existence of superheros.

In an effort to avoid spoilers, the ending and all that is revealed will be kept out, but it should be noted that what takes place at the end of film is quite interesting and deserves a visit to the theaters to see what is unveiled. In terms of the overall quality and performance of the movie, it fairs quite well. In this aspect it should have been rated much higher, however what should be taken into account is the storytelling and the plot which slowly is revealed as the movie goes on.

Looking at this from a critical perspective, there are instances in which the film might seem confusing or lackluster and without prior knowledge or having seen the other movies of the franchise it may be difficult for the viewer to understand what is taking place.

 

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