drake review

Momma’s Famous Fandometrics.

Television: Two cups of TV.

Skam jumps an honest seven spots to No. 4.
⬇︎ Shadowhunters falls seven to No. 12. Maybe someone finally told them what shadows are?

Movies: A tablespoon of film.

⬆ News of the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story alternate ending lifts the film to No. 4.
The Spongebob Squarepants Movie debuts at No. 19 thanks to a meme, because if it’s not Spongebob with you guys, it’s Bee Movie.

Music: Three dashes of music.

Drake is running through No. 6 with his woes.
Selena Gomez cops the cover of Vogue and No. 2.

Originally posted by awesomenbamoments

Celebrities: Four bunches of famous people.

⬆ Tale as old as time: Emma Watson and Dan Stevens are No. 1 and No. 6.
⬇︎ Kristen Stewart falls fourteen, barely making the list at No. 20.

Games: A smattering of games.

☆ Gotta go fast: Sonic the Hedgehog debuts at No. 14.
⬇︎ The passion for Fire Emblem Fates seems to be merely smoldering, it fell to No. 20.

Originally posted by unclenicky

Web stuff: Optional internet to taste, if desired

⬇︎ Three weeks ago he was on top of the list, but now Markiplier is No. 5.
Jacksepticeye jumps one to take No 1. Is he Tumblr’s new favorite?

Life Begets Life: Arrow 5x23 Review (Lian Yu)

“Lian Yu” a summary:

I love the journey we take on stories.  I particularly love the journey we take with television. There’s really no medium like this. The experience is over in a couple hours with a movie.  We can control how quickly we read a book (even if we have to wait for additional sequels). But television? Television is a week to week story that spans years. Or at least it is if you watch live from start to finish. Television can be a long and arduous journey. Full of ups and downs. Great episodes and horribly bad ones.  We walk the road with the characters in real time. It’s a serious time investment and the hope is the story eventually connects. That the threads the writers weave come together in the end and we can see the full picture.  "Lian Yu" is one of those rare storytelling gifts that repays all the many years of patience.  

We started this journey with Oliver Queen five years ago. We have walked each step with him. We’ve rejoiced with Oliver in his moments of triumph. 

We’ve grieved with him. 

We threw things at him with every maddening step backward.

Step by step, we’ve watched Oliver come back to life. 

It hurt and he fought it for a long time, but slowly Oliver began to learn how to live again. Instead of shutting himself off, he chose to build a life filled with purpose

honor 

teamwork

friendship

family 

and love. 

He’s clawed his way out of the dark and into the light that was always there, deep inside.  

It was all leading somewhere. A destination, a choice, Oliver had to make. No matter how far Oliver has come there is always a piece of him that remains on the island… and on the boat.  Oliver had to return to Lian Yu, one last time, so he could finally let it go. So he could finally come home.

A hero’s story is fraught with triumph and tragedy. There is both in “Lian Yu.” The great tragedy is once Oliver decides who he is, and is ready for all that entails, he’s faced with an impossible choice and loses what he’s spent years building.

Or did he? Adrian Chase is the master chess player. He was always ten moves ahead, even in the final moments, but perhaps there was a move Chase couldn’t foresee. One Oliver set in motion years ago, in a moment where he clung to the light and held to Diggle and Felicity’s faith in him. A moment where Oliver kept a promise.

Let’s dig in…

Keep reading

PLL 7x19 Review

Hello welcome back to what could be my last review, I don’t know if I will do one after next week, it all depends on if I watch live or not. OR if you guys really want me to do one last one while I cry my eyes out I can. Enough about that here are my thoughts and theories on 7x19, as always they aren’t in any order and may be confusing, but you guys have managed to watch 7 years of confusing so it should be easy to decode me.

 *Just realized this post is over 1500 words long so its under the cut.

Keep reading

Arrow 5x13 “Spectre of the Gun” Review: Bad Aim

I debated even writing up a review for this episode. I don’t really want to venture into the kind of politics this episode delved into; and mostly because this episode was just bad.

There are only two good things about the entire episode:

1)      Thea Queen’s return. I’ve missed her. Her snarky little jabs have been sorely missed. Everything that came out of her mouth was perfection. Stop leaving us.

2)      The end of the episode. Because it was finally over.

It was so sloppily mishandled that it is my fervent hope that if ever Marc Guggenheim and Arrow company ever think of venturing into a “special episode of the week” territory: THEY SIMPLY DON’T DO IT. Somebody should Taser them and lock them in a closet until they’ve properly thought about their insanity.

Going into this episode I was leery. First of all because it was centered around Wild Dog and I have yet to be invested in his character. He’s made a few tiny steps (and then lost them) forward in recent weeks but nothing that merits his own special episode. So here I was with a flashback episode about him when most of my core favorites have been sidelined all season long. I wasn’t amused. Second, I just really don’t think that Arrow is the kind of show where this discussion is best suited. Namely because Arrow throws violence around so commonly that nothing about last night’s episode stood out markedly from any other Arrow episode.

In fact, when the episode started with the gun attack, it felt so familiar that I thought we’d seen it before. And I was right. We did in 2x01. On the exact same set (then called QC), “The Hoods” opened fire on the boardroom. So I’m not entirely sure what made this episode “special” other than some characters were turned into political mouthpieces, while others were muzzled. There is nothing remotely shocking about what Edlund did—though how Quentin’s spidey sense didn’t tingle at the very suspicious dude in the elevator is beyond me.

Beyond the way Arrow uses violence regularly, this episode’s message was marred down even further by being in a season where Oliver Queen is dropping bodies again. In fact, he just killed an innocent man a few weeks ago and seems to have gotten over the guilt of that moment real quick. The return to killing this season has been a thorn in my side because it’s never once been narratively justified. They keep saying that it’s because Laurel died; but that doesn’t fly with Oliver believing her death wasn’t his fault.

Keep reading

Chance Encounter (Sam Drake x Female Reader)

Background :  It’s been about a week and half since Rafe got Sam from prison.  They are driving back to Rafe’s compound before going to search for Avery’s treasure, but because the world still needs to believe Sam is dead, their travel can’t be documented.  Rafe buys an old car with cash and they begin their road trip, stopping in small towns for the night.  While Rafe sleeps in the room, Sam goes to the nearest bars to find a cold drink and warm body. This is one such night.

Warnings : NSFW Text

Keep reading

Rachel’s Rambles - 5x21 Honor Thy Fathers

I wasn’t overly eager about tonight. I figured it would be a “filler” episode, moving towards the last two episodes which I’m greatly anticipating, and I’d figured it’d be a bit light on Olicity after that glorious episode last week. The summary didn’t really impress me. I mean, a giant cement block shows up for Oliver. Woohoo. Let’s get to the end of season showdown stuff.

Boy, was I ever wrong about this episode. And oh, did I ever enjoy it.

Keep reading

Accountable: Arrow 5x14 Review (The Sin-Eater)

As Anatoly explained, a sin-eater is someone who consumes a ritual meal to magically take on the sins of another person, thus absolving the person and saving their soul.

Christianity has another name for this person: Jesus Christ. The son of God who died for our sins. The concept that superheroes are Christ like figures is nothing new, and is certainly one I’ve written about before. However, “The Sin- Eater” is as close as Arrow has ever come to a literal comparison.  Oliver Queen has a history of taking others’ sins upon himself. Essentially, blaming himself for their wrongs. As if somehow taking responsibility for them will save them.

If Christ died for our sins, if that action of selfless love is our salvation, then why do we ever need to be held accountable for our sins? Aren’t we already forgiven?

Sorry, but that’s just not the way it works. There is nothing we can ever do that will stop God from loving us, but that does not prevent us from seeking His mercy. Yes, Christ died for our sins, but we must be held accountable for those sins. We have to seek forgiveness. We have to desire salvation in order to truly achieve it. The door to God is always open. There’s nothing we can ever do to close it, but we still must make the choice to walk through it.

So, is Oliver Queen really saving anyone by being a sin-eater? Or maybe the better question is…  is Oliver even worthy of the title?

Let’s dig in…

Keep reading

Bachata anyone? At first glance, we were thinking ‘why is Drake on this track’? But then we realized maybe this is a nice gateway drug into the R&B of the Latin world. Admittedly, Drake croons along smoothly in Spanish with Romeo Santos but it is clear that Santos is the star of the show.  Odio (‘Hate’ in English), tells the universal tale of a jealous and remorseful lover. But the real envy lies with only those who are non-Spanish speakers.

  • Bachata-Rap Fusion
  • Tropical Flavor
  • Lust & Angst
Made with SoundCloud
Arrow 5x14 “The Sin-Eater”: Everyone Makes a Choice

Note: This review was ready to go Thursday; all I had to do was type it up and format it after work. But after asking, I decided to vote Thursday afternoon—since I couldn’t do both. Then the poll reopened on Friday and there went my plans to type this up again. Unfortunately we still lost. Good job to all those who voted. That’s why this isn’t as timely as my last few have been, even if it’s been written out since Thursday morning. Oops. Oh well. Sometimes a fangirl has vote, you know? ;)  


Arrow is testing my patience. I am convinced that I am being tried so that I can enjoy all the wonderful spoils of heaven. Maybe a position of sainthood up there. I didn’t really think they’d have such a bad episode after last week’s really awful episode. I apparently need to adjust my expectations down, again.  

What’s incredibly frustrating about this is that this didn’t have to be a bad episode. We had a Thea and Felicity team up (the only good thing about this episode); we had the possibility of a good storyline with three female villains; and very importantly, this episode focused on the core of Arrow and didn’t belabor us with a ton of Recruit scenes. They existed in the periphery—where they belong. Though they could maybe hug the edges a lot closer. I’m just sayin’.

All of that sounds like a mixture for success, yes? But then let me remind you what we all forgot when we read the episode recipe: It was left in the hands of Arrow writers to cook up and s5 has been one disastrous course after another.

The problem is that the villainesses’ storyline was under baked (okay, enough of the cooking metaphor) and just really sloppy. The villainesses ran around Star City killing various people and it was all to get the money Church had hidden. That they needed to be shown where it was. So question: Why didn’t the remaining criminals just go and take the money instead of letting it collect dust in a mausoleum? Something about that felt like a plot hole. In general, their stunts felt sloppy. It was just a real miss for a villain of the week storyline.

Except that Arrow had another villain in the works this week and boy did she get her comeuppance. And the story surrounding her was the biggest disaster of all this week.

Originally posted by sourpatch-k

THE SUSAN WILLIAMS DEBACLE

I hate this character. Take away that she is a useless love interest for Oliver in an attempt to keep Olicity apart for a little longer: She is still simply awful. I haven’t liked her from the beginning and nothing at all about Carly Pope’s portrayal makes it any better. To call her one-note is frankly kind; everything about her performance is irritating. I have had the (dis)pleasure of viewing her elsewhere. Let’s just say she is not a versatile actress at all. All her characters feel the same except for a possible wardrobe change and name change.

That said, my absolute favorite part of this episode was Susan Williams being taken down by my two faves Felicity and Thea.

Originally posted by gurl

 I felt zero amount of sympathy for her. I felt all the amounts of glee and maybe wiggled in my chair with delight. Now I know that after the episode aired this storyline made some male pseudo-journalists all butthurt. I would kindly ask them to STFU and go away with their pseudo-feminism and pseudo-journalistic ethics.

Keep reading

60 Best Albums of 2015 (30-1)

30. Garden of Delete- Oneohtrix Point Never


Daniel Lopatin’s compositions are always freakishly in control, but have never brimmed with the audacity that they do on Garden of Delete. This pronounced vision serves him extremely well. The music of Oneohtrix Point Never has never struggled to commit to eye-opening tones and even more worthwhile structure, but here the songs are practically overflowing with conceptual and atmospheric presence. At first, the appeal can get lost. Out of all the auras Lopatin has worked with, this is the most digital, the trashiest, and the one brimming with the least amount of life. In fact, this listening experience can almost seem suffocatingly inorganic. Songs like ‘Ezra’ and ‘Sticky Drama’ feel excessively eager to exit their dystopian, shivering ambience, but regardless of the conventional beauty, Garden of Delete is sufficiently encompassing. You can cut the tension with a knife, a tension that reveals itself everywhere you look.

29. On Your Own Love Again- Jessica Pratt

Jessica Pratt’s voice, like Joanna Newsom’s or Björk’s, is the first thing that jumps out at you about her incredibly dense music. It is a frail, understated instrument that possesses the capacity to dominate any space it is put into, capitalizing on this ability constantly throughout Pratt’s second album On Your Own Love Again. However, it must be said that this record is much more than a vocal showcase. Pratt’s voice is stunning in the sense that it excels in the environment of its lightly plucked guitar backdrops. It is an exotic gift that casts a fleeting shadow over the album but tastefully steps back when the vibe begs for restraint. This self-control is ultimately what makes On Your Own Love Again so essential. There are not many colossal moments here, but Pratt is able to find magnitude in the oddity. Through warmth and claustrophobia, Love Again prospers.

28. The Agent Intellect- Protomartyr

The graceful rant is a hard thing to master. Gut-wrenching anecdotes and heaving mantras are littered through The Agent Intellect, the second exceptional album Protomartyr have released in about a year, and they seem to reside in a separate vessel from the music, which is emotional and occasionally elegant. Joe Casey has polished his reach as a frontman, delivering flawless vocals in the context of these ringing, deadbeat anthems. When these songs are at their most catchy and animated (‘Dope Cloud’, ‘The Devil in His Youth’), Casey crumbles into an overblown melody or a flawlessly emphasized hook as if it is nothing more than a pattern of speech. The main upgrade here is the songwriting; Protomartyr’s music appears to be more concise than it has ever been, but none of the impulsiveness is gone. The Agent Intellect is devoid of much saturation, but this bluntness plays directly into its balance.

27. PC Music, Volume 1- PC Music

PC Music, the post-bubblegum experimental record label responsible for this extremely close-knit various artists compilation, have historically put their music in the passenger seat to their image and marketing, one that is troubling in its hedonistic embrace of capitalism and simplicity, but profound in its capacity to throw itself on its back. The music on this label is sickeningly aggressive, and its best artists, like A.G. Cook and Hannah Diamond, are even less subtle than the majority of music in the Top 40. It feels kind of unfair to put this album on the list, because it is basically a greatest hits compilation. However, these excellent songs unveil a whole new dimension when placed in this context. When grouped together, PC Music’s aesthetic turns into a mission statement, ready to bask in all of its hyper-glossy glory.

26.  E•MO•TION- Carly Rae Jepsen

When listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album, it is almost impossible not to question its intentions. How could someone go from a disposable, bubblegum artist who happened to have the biggest (and catchiest) single of the year to someone who is genuinely interested in branding themselves as an indie hero, constructing one of the most charming and cohesive listens in recent pop memory? E•MO•TION comes with the pretense that it is a manufactured statement, one done with the intention of appealing to the critical masses, getting an abundance of hot producers on board (Dev Hynes, Ariel Rechtshaid) to help deliver an album that has been meticulously crafted to exist without flaw. The only reason ‘Run Away With Me’ didn’t even chart is because of its branding, and the brand is a colossal part of what Carly Rae Jepsen has become. She is an intelligent pop artist, a product of a tasteful goal. Whether or not this is off-putting for you, it is ridiculous to deny Carly Rae Jepsen’s success. E•MO•TION is absolutely brimming with surprisingly flawless pop songs, ones that blend infection seamlessly with restraint, packed with the choruses and themes to expand their reach. You can’t knock E•MO•TION for its devious intentions; it is the sleeper masterpiece of the year, one that turns Jepsen into a platform for a collective step in the right direction.

25. Frozen Niagara Falls- Prurient

Is any double album filled with metal-tinged noise music supposed to be soothing? Frozen Niagara Falls seems to answer affirmatively. The exceptionally loud trance that these tracks fall into is captivatingly beautiful even if some of its raw elements- the clanging percussion, the horrifying vocals- are borderline disgusting. Nonetheless, every single song is not only hypnotic, but shockingly entertaining, especially in its unpredictability. The sounds on here- whether those be harsh noise or spacey synths- are so filled with texture and flavor that nothing really disrupts the listener’s drive to hear the next exhibition. Frozen Niagara Falls is a technicolor parasite that disrupts your well-being but thrills you nonetheless. It is a frightening album with so many dimensions yet such a narrow commitment to putrid tension.

24. Beach Music- Alex G

Alex G’s music will spike itself into your veins with its delicacy, and Beach Music heightens his reputation for goosebump-inciting melodies and even more intimate poetry. These songs are in-touch with an extreme bittersweet melancholy, but seem a bit stranger and more polished than the music off of DSU, Alex G’s equally excellent release from last year. I didn’t like Beach Music the first time I heard it, because it slacked a little bit and appeared to be mundanely thrown together; however, with repeated listens, this messiness becomes the purest testament to its hushed splendor. The songs are dominated by a tone of spooky apprehension, but these are some of the most optimistic (‘Brite Boy’) and creepy (‘In Love’) songs to ever appear on an Alex G record. Atmospherically, you can’t ask for something more in-tune with its soul than this.

23. In Colour- Jamie xx

It would be very easy to litter a review of In Colour with lists of influences, sample sources, and terms like “future garage” while gawking at how distinctive Jamie xx makes it all sound. You could also discuss how he has come a long way since remixing Florence + the Machine and being the guy who stands in the back on the The xx’s live stage. However, In Colour is one of those albums that can be enjoyed just as much, or arguably ever more, without context. If you take it in with a blank mind, this record is untouchably pretty. However, if you are dissecting Jamie Smith’s production chops…well, it’s pretty damn impressive too. Smith has a magnificent ear for rhythm and is able to transform this skill into huge, momentous club music. He also possesses a talent for layering, blending samples of voice, saturated bass, and deep beats so smoothly that they form a larger, singular sound. This sound is entirely his own, and it makes In Colour one of the most emotional and transcendent pieces of dance music in years.

22. Painted Shut- Hop Along

The songs on Painted Shut are theatrical by nature, don’t get me wrong, but it is bizarre to consider what they would sound like taken outside of the context of the tool that delivers them. Francis Quinlan does not only have a distinctive voice, she is a distinctive vocalist. This means that her capability stems not from her tone as much as it does her patterns and delivery; the fractured, scruffy whirlwind of a voice that seamlessly transforms from a holler to soft croon. However, Painted Shut is not a vocal album. The vocals are mainly there to provide the perfect platform for the album’s urgency. And trust me, this album is urgent. Every sharp downstroke is like a stab in the heart, every lyric begs for your engagement. Painted Shut will leave you winded, but not before it lures you in with captivation.

21. In Plain Speech- Circuit Des Yeux

Haley Fohr’s voice is the first thing that will jump out at you about her music before you are completely mesmerized. A shaky, unsettling bellow, the vocals here blow everything else out of the water, becoming the only vivid ingredient in a shockingly restrained yet heaped atmosphere. Everything else about In Plain Speech, an album inspired by the struggle of, quite literally, being heard, is bent around soft-spokenly haunting buildups. But every time Fohr opens her mouth, that ground-shaking cry is always there. She has expanded her scope into the context of a full band with this new record, tackling an aesthetic that blends folk with noise and delivering it with excessive drama. The cinematic quality of In Plain Speech sounds like the product of immense concentration, and on an album so subdued, I wouldn’t doubt that this is where the majority of the power comes from.

20. Four Phantoms- Bell Witch

One of the most difficult emotions to evoke when it comes to any form of metal is penetrating sorrow. The music is often too inherently aggressive to stay faithful to its deflated doses of sadness, and gets lost in a technical and energetic whirlwind. Bell Witch do not have that problem. When Four Phantoms is on, your mood will change regardless of how you feel about the album; these four plodding, harrowing 10-20 minute pieces overwhelm you with their downcast charisma. The extremely low-tempos are spread over a winding dynamic, ranging from throat-shredding screams to empty guitar segments so frail that you can barely discern the melodies that attempt to arise. However, the volume may be dynamic but the emotions aren’t; Four Phantoms’ game is excess, and it is so committed to this, that it becomes the right kind of exhausting, one that swells up in a relative calm.

19. Divers- Joanna Newsom

For some, Divers might be a middle ground. The listeners who found the most appealing qualities of Joanna Newsom’s past work in her outlandishness might consider this a retraction, seeing as the production is beautiful in a current, conventional way, as opposed to the timelessness of Ys. However, those who couldn’t sit through all two hours of Have One on Me will be pleased to have something digestible in their hands, a record that can be admired (although not fully appreciated) at a casual glance. The depth is still there, but it plays a much less vital role. Think about it; Newsom’s weapon of choice is a harp, a niche instrument that is called upon very passively in popular music. There is no trendy context in which Newsom fits, no aesthetic that stems beyond her compositions. Therefore, it is easy to analyze a record like Divers at face value. When Newsom roamed the streets of New York City in the video for ‘Sapiokanikan’, it was the most identifiable visual to ever surface through her music. On the other hand, the song’s huge chorus and riveting build-up fosters quite a bit of appeal even if the visual art and poetry allusions are ignored. It is shallow to say that you don’t need to sit down with Divers to enjoy it, but it works as a pop album far more than her past records did, with arrangements and instrumentation swelling up for an alluring glow.

18. Valis- Mastery

Two things will hit you off guard as soon as you turn on Valis. Firstly, this album is absolutely unhinged. This is obvious from the intro to the first track, ‘V.A.L.I.S.V.E.S.S.E.L.’; a menacing ringtone from hell that lasts five seconds before launching into some technically astonishing, splintering guitar work. Valis is defined by turbulence, with the primary source of engagement being the fact that it is impossible to guess where it will go next. With only five songs (two of which are interludes), Valis plays like a sonic stream of consciousness, completely rejecting form in favor of primal, sweltering energy. Second of all, Valis exists to unnerve. There are plenty of metal albums that are ugly, brutal, and creepy, but the key feeling produced by Valis, from the grimacing vocals to the outward rejection of structure, is distress. You will feel overwhelmed. However, these unstoppable, spastic black metal pieces do not demand engagement; somehow, they just clinch it.

17. New Bermuda- Deafheaven

Deafheaven have become the metal band for deniers of metal, a group that people spend as much time disputing what they aren’t as what they are. However, all talk of classification becomes meaningless in the face of their music. Sure, Deafheaven are not traditionalists, but they do have a very familiar way of garnering impulse. They are well acquainted with the power of the crescendo. Every song on their third album New Bermuda goes through multiple movements, as if the group has a very conspicuous understanding that there is no point in building things up if you can’t knock them down. New Bermuda relies heavily on masterfully articulated bursts of fury and works best when these developments come out of nowhere or fall into the shadows as if they never existed. Take opener ‘Brought to the Water’. This track has the sky-scraping, murky fury of Deafheaven at their darkest, and although it always hints at something supremely beautiful, it keeps in touch with a hysterical aggression, allowing it to veer ever so slightly towards blackened inaccessibility. This energy persists, with levels of course, until the last minute where this music fades out and a dreamy, flowery piano comes into replace it. There is almost no attempt at a transition. In fact, this completely contrasting element is introduced in a way that could be lazy if it was done with any less purpose. The big, and almost only, transformation that looms over New Bermuda is this complete negation of subtlety. You’ll know exactly when these songs peak and exactly what emotion you are supposed to feel. However, Deafheaven owns this conspicuous maximalism. Vocalist George Clarke times his harshly toned screams impeccably, and when the music plummets towards a climax on ‘Baby Blue’ or ‘Luna’, he is right there with it. The guitars and drums slush around in a fervor, only to simmer down when peace is summoned. Deafheaven see no need to cloak any of their volume shifts or sudden rifts of tension.

16. Never Were the Way She Was- Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld

There are albums that are marvelous physical achievements for the sake of gimmickry, but the fact that the tracks on Never Were the Way She Was are single-take live recordings isn’t just impressive, its imperative. For an album so haunting and scrupulously atmospheric, the imperfections and impulse that come with this technique contribute immensely to its unworldly rawness. Colin Stetson’s avant-garde saxophones musings are often performed with a robotic energy, twisting the conventions of his instrument until his patterns practically turn into noise, an inhuman darkness that has become part of his character. Sarah Neufeld’s orchestration merely embellishes the exhausting tangents that Stetson goes on. This album is consistently celestial and very fragile, a product of the visceral creative process.

15. Guud- Ash Koosha

For Tehran-born, London-based producer Ash Koosha, sound carries an examinable behavior, something that can be tapped into in order to unearth a certain psychology. The patterns on all of Guud’s bizarre, short tracks spring off of each other and drill themselves into the sonic foreground to construct a sort of cathartic, mechanical hell. This purgatory, however, is a relentlessly engaging one, relying on a boxed, unconventional palette to formulate tracks that are jam-packed with personality and accessibility. This is very much a collection of abstract compositions, but in this case, abstraction does not translate into impenetrability. In Ash Koosha’s world, car engines can become beats and synths can be as rhythmic as they are melodic. With textures that radiate huge amounts of energy, this record recognizes no lines between the foreign and the impactful.

14. Art Angels- Grimes

With Art Angels, Grimes sacrifices a lot of the haziness that defined her three years ago to pursue a peak in production quality and creativity. Thankfully, she is extremely successful. The smothered, absolutely gorgeous synthline on ‘World Princess Part II’ or the sharp vocal melodies on ‘Flesh Without Blood’ trigger a sense of universal nostalgia, possessing uncanny perfection in terms of emotion. Art Angels gets big, like on the title track or the Janelle Monáe featuring ‘Venus Fly’, and these moments would be overdone if Boucher were not so good at what she does. In fact, Boucher’s public priority has always been to receive recognition as a producer, especially in a landscape where female producers are subject to endless condescension. With Art Angels, she has not only proven her point but made a record that bleeds artistry. It is clear now that Grimes didn’t scrap an album because she was insecure; she wanted to do something that would stand out. Art Angels epitomizes this originality.

Every other track practically defines itself by its not-so-subtle touches. This is why the first few listens of Art Angels hit you like a wildfire, with songs that revel in sugar-soaked pop to the point where it becomes confounding. It makes sense that initial exposure to tracks as melodically bright-eyed and infectious as ‘Flesh Without Blood’ and ‘California’ are usually dominated by uneasiness. These songs are an uncharacteristically poppy departure and absolutely nothing like the Grimes we got with Visions, a pathway that the majority of Art Angels sticks to. This record is packed with overblown vocals, layered production, and a saccharine pop sensibility that places Boucher way out of what was priorly perceived to be her range. However, just because Art Angels is not the project most people wanted, does not mean it is not an excellent album in its own right, as it sees Boucher expand her realm to take her talents into a far more daring territory.

13. Third Side of Tape- Lil Ugly Mane

It’s kind of a weightless, cliched thing to say at this point, but there is genuinely nothing I’ve heard in my life quite like Third Side of Tape. There is no way to navigate around this two-hour compilation except for the fact that the project is split into six movements, or “sides”. Each of these sides exhibit the same type of mysterious, fractured randomness, without a common theme to tie any of the ideas on Third Side of Tape together. Thus, it comes off like a long-winded collage, a product of mind-blowingly good curation. Lil Ugly Mane is a rapper by trade, but he is also an artist who has completely shied away from the spotlight, which gives Third Side of Tape practically no context. All this mystery multiplies its appeal. This is an exceptionally confusing listen, spreading its reach everywhere from Dilla-inspired rap to jubilant electronica to extreme metal to punk rock, but somehow manages to maintain cohesion and keep the listener entertained for over two hours. Only a master of taste could pull something like this off, but with every turn Third Side of the Tape takes, you’ll find an entirely new environment in its rapid, impenetrable, encompassing world.

12. I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside- Earl Sweatshirt

I Don’t Like Shit seemed poised to slide under the radar. Originally planned for a secret release (until iTunes fucked it up, apparently), this record is nothing like the peak of an everlong hype cycle that Doris was. This record carriers a lead single that seemed alarmingly toned down, very few big name features, and a running time that barely exceeds standard EP length. However, in some messy, thrown-together way, it is Earl’s best. This doesn’t feel like the album we have been waiting for, but the beauty of it comes with the fact that we weren’t waiting for anything. Coming out of nowhere, this record is a boost, a reminder that Earl is still there and still dope.

As if the title didn’t make it obvious enough, seclusion persists throughout I Don’t Like Shit. In fact, Earl’s whole public persona has been defined by the act of being cast away. The most prominent detail of his “story” was his exile to a therapeutic reform school in Samoa, to which he was apparently banished after his mother’s reaction to the vulgar, violent elements of his music. On ‘Faucet’, we see Earl hoping his phone breaks as he struggles to come to terms with the impact this very public absence has had on his personal life by acknowledging how weird these situations can get. This discomfort translates into unbreakable music, as shown by ‘Grief’ with coats its wretched serpentine imagery in a smear of clattering electronics. I Don’t Like Shit sees Earl turning down quite a bit, whether that be with light, volume, or speed; the atmosphere at equilibrium here is a chopped-up, hushed darkness, which allows Earl to successfully keep it subdued.

11. Sympathy- Gabi

On an album as sparsely composed as Sympathy, space practically becomes its own instrument. Influenced in equal parts by the grandiosity of opera and a-cappella, the composition on this record is intellectually straining, delving in a a rare experimental academia. This sophistication is key. There is intent and purpose in every crescendo, yet these arrangements burst with an unstoppable grip on atmosphere. Centerpieces like ‘Mud’ and ‘Falling’ sprawl back and forth until the clean, fluctuating rhythms hit a humble plateau; elsewhere, we get songs so centered around Gabrielle Herbst’s vocals that the rest of the instrumentation absorbs an organicness. These arrangements are huge but they manage to be more refreshing than overwhelming, a trait reserved for artists who have complete control of their unadulterated sonic poetry.

10. Barter 6- Young Thug

You could write an essay about the type of album Barter 6 could have been. You could talk about how Young Thug has become one of the most controversial stars in rap music ever since the success of ‘Lifestyle’ and how he is surrounded by drama regarding his sexuality, his feuds with other rappers, or his place in mainstream hip-hop. Young Thug appears to have taken the less favorable side in the Lil Wayne/Cash Money dispute, and that has given his public persona a fair bit of heat, especially considering the trips to jail and murder plots that have followed him around. I mean Barter 6 was literally going to be called Tha Carter VI before potential legal issues arose, which seems like the biggest corporate dick move in rap history, considering Thug and Wayne’s label boss Birdman has blocked the release of Wayne’s own Tha Carter V. Barter 6 could have been the centerpiece of all this ugliness, a cultural landmark and, admittedly, an even more fascinating album to listen to. But Young Thug doesn’t give a fuck. He doesn’t need to say anything because the public speaks for him, and fanning the flames of his own controversy would be completely out of character. So instead, we have an album that is gloriously minute. Scratch that, it’s not even an album, it’s a fucking retail mixtape. And, unsurprisingly, Barter 6 is a piece of lazy genius, a collection of songs that aren’t going out of their way to sound half as good as they do. However, amidst everything, it becomes clear that an album so removed from its own context is perhaps the smartest thing Young Thug could have released.

Young Thug is the poster boy for rap’s ever-expanding style over substance trend. It is a trend that is upsetting many purists, but also contributing some of the freshest, most boundary pushing hip-hop of our time. However, Young Thug has a bit more bite than the others. Sure, his songs say absolutely nothing, not even scratching the surface of tenacious concept, and arguably serving no lyrical purpose outside of exhausting already stale rap cliches. Although there is something glamorous about his stream of consciousness overindulgence, his character still lacks inherent traditional charm. making everything rely on delivery. Thankfully, to say he delivers would be an understatement. He is one of the most talented rappers out there in terms of fluent passion, taking his auto-tuned, often incoherent drawls and demolishing any emotional barriers. Everything he says is catchy and everything sound he makes demands attention.

9. Are You Alone?- Majical Cloudz

When you think of Majical Cloudz, you most likely think of their frontman, Devon Welsh. More specifically, you probably think of Devon Welsh stripped to his absolute emotional core, wide-eyed, looking you right in the face, singing without a single shroud of irony in his body. It is this intimidating closeness that has always defined their music, and songs from 2013’s Impersonator were shocking in how raw and fragile they were. They had a darkness that hit you off guard. Are You Alone? no longer approaches this, at least not as heavily. Although these songs are as sparse and intimate as ever, Welsh seems humbled, negating the opportunity to steal the show. Instead, he seems content with mere existence, putting himself on the level of Matthew Otto’s instrumentals, which present themselves here with more delicacy than ever before. The production ensures that there is a warm melodic comfort to such unavoidably sad songs, and with each track on Are You Alone?, Majical Cloudz find a simple way to hit this extremely emotional nerve.

8. Carrie & Lowell- Sufjan Stevens

Carrie & Lowell, might be the most conventionally alluring album of Sufjan Stevens’ career. It places its focus on a constant struggle; an unconventional relationship will inevitably result in unconventional grief, yet here Sufjan resides in unconditional love, recalling memories from his time spent with his mother in Oregon but unable to use them to cloak the misery. ‘No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross’ is quite explicit with this as Sufjan sings “I’ll drive that stake through the center of my heart…I’m chasing the dragon too far”. At its core, this is a Christian album and the role religion plays makes it even more interesting. ‘Shadow of the Cross’ isn’t the only track with thoughts of suicide. On ‘The Only Thing’, Sufjan is on the verge of driving his car off a cliff or cutting his arm, with the only thing stopping him being his own faith. These jarring thoughts are means of bringing himself to an afterlife, the single place where he can pursue the relationship that was so hard to preserve during his mother’s life. The themes of destruction contrast with the melancholy reminiscences to make the mental friction of Carrie & Lowell absolutely devastating.

Sufjan has stripped-back his musical appetite here but a refined focus on gut-wrenching stories and emotional portraits does more than just compensate. It grants Stevens a capacity to function with immense grace, reveling in the weight of such therapeutic lyricism and exemplifying the beauty in remorse; the jaw-dropping melodies and performances only flesh it out. ‘Death With Dignity’ and ‘Should Have Known Better’ have an unshakable elegance to their composition, with vocal crescendos you can climb and codas that are practically hypnotic. In fact, the whole album is just beautiful. Fuck, man. Sufjan did that shit. Carrie & Lowell is gonna move you, I guarantee it.

7. Platform- Holly Herndon

Holly Herndon doesn’t merely embrace the glitches in her music: she lives off them. Platform embodies a very hyper brand of modernism, a world where cyber and human are interchangeable. The electronics are the heart of these pieces, and the most mechanical corruptions in their patterns give the album some space to breathe.

Platform is an album very much in-touch with the fact that it is a product of technology. For Herndon, the laptop need not suffer from its inorganic limitations, the fact that the choppiness, textures, and editing are very much the life of the party. Pieces like ‘Chorus’ are centered around occasions where these machines break down, falling almost effortlessly into a momentous, rhythmic climax. Elsewhere, ‘Lonely at the Top’ and ‘Locker Leak’ utilize textures that are usually unheard of on an album this electronic. The voices and dialogue that tinge these tracks are hyper-pristine and hyper-realistic, creating a hallucinatory juxtaposition between the understated backgrounds on which they recline. You could fall asleep to Platform, a record that resembles pure sedation as it slips into the background. However, at its core sits a masterful grasp on a very spooky atmosphere. The way this album comes together is almost unsettling.

6. Ripe 4 Luv- Young Guv

If you think Ripe 4 Luv sounds like it is from the 80s, then you’re not wrong. Everything on the debut album from Young Guv, the new project by Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook, was run through an FX unit commonly used 30 years ago called The Chimp Box, which places it within a very vintage, lo-fi breathing space. That means this album sounds like it is coming straight from the radio in the summer of 1985. The nostalgia doesn’t end at the production. All eight songs are absolutely bombastic with their masterfully infectious refrains and joyous, playful energy. Power pop hasn’t been this syrupy since The Outfield’s ‘Your Love’, and if that doesn’t sound like a flattering comparison…well, it is. Ripe 4 Luv’s main draw is that has some of the best pop songwriting all year (Cook has written songs for Taylor Swift, if that puts it into context); it simply happens to stumble on an unprecedented sound in the process.

The emphasis on choruses here is heavy. Ripe 4 Luv is sculpted in a way where the filtered guitars/drums are constantly threatening to swallow up the vocal melodies. Thus, whenever we get to a refrain, it seems to hoist the track out of a swamp. In the case of the oddly flirtatious ‘Kelly, I’m Not a Creep’, the chorus yanks the song so hard that it turns itself inside out, being the one moment where Cook’s enchanting whine transforms into a desperate scream. ‘Crushing Sensation’ and ‘Crawling Back to You’ are pretty much all hook; when one melody sounds contagious enough to be the drawing point, the track one ups itself in ways you would never expect. Ripe 4 Luv is dense like that. It is atmospherically versatile, and some of the record’s most refreshing moments come when Cook slows it down. The lumbering ‘Aquarian’ is tactfully sandwiched between the album’s two most aggressively sweet tracks, with a laid-back magnetism that does wonders for the pacing. Even ‘Wrong Crowd’, a lax song which wears down the same groove for seven minutes before throwing a twee saxophone solo on top of it, feels necessary. When Ripe 4 Luv gets loud it is enthralling; when it stays soft it is delicate. This balance ensures durability no matter how far the album goes.

5. Summertime ‘06- Vince Staples

If you take Summertime ‘06 at face value, it’s a coming of age tale. In the real-life summertime of ‘06, Vince Staples was a 13 year old growing up in Long Beach, California, grappling with what he would call “the power of fear”. This is what he chooses to emulate on his debut record. More specifically, he wants “people to feel the fear of being 12, 13 years old when your best friend’s dad goes to jail”. Notice how he doesn’t want to “share” the fear; he wants people to “feel” it. He’s aware that many can not relate to the life he has lived. He’s also aware that he is not the only rapper discussing the things he discusses. Thankfully, this album’s vision is thoroughly sculpted. Summertime ‘06 isn’t exactly a concept album, or at least it doesn’t feel the need to shove its concept down your throat. Instead, Staples’ lyrics are observational. On these tracks, he’s listing off things he notices without placing too much emphasis on their message. He is a rare breed of the conscious rapper, seeing as he prospers without the self-appointed moral responsibility of, say, Kendrick Lamar or J. Cole. He has no interest in telling you how to think. He just wants to see how he can make you feel.

The first time most people heard of Vince Staples was when he rapped about raping and killing a girl on Earl Sweatshirt’s 2010 mixtape track ‘epaR’. Even if you don’t get anything from Summertime ‘06’s fascinating content and structure, you will at least be able to appreciate this record for its maturity. The length he’s come since the Odd Future days is mind-blowing, but the Sweatshirt connection is still an important one. Until last year’s Hell Can Wait EP helped Staples pave a path of his own, Staples had not had much exposure outside of his numerous features on Earl’s work. These appearances have been the most direct benchmarks of his development. On ‘Wool’ from this year’s Earl album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside, Staples sounded like the main act on the bill and Summertime ‘06 cements this presence. Sweatshirt himself appears on this record, not to rap but to deliver snippets of rhythmic speech on the album’s second ‘Ramona Park Legend’ interlude. The only words he says are “I’m a motherfuckin’ legend/that’s how a nigga feel” as if he is waiving his chance to assist Staples, instead opting to watch from the distance. Sure, we might not have known who Staples is without Earl’s co-sign, but on his debut album, Staples considers no perspective but his own. Seeing as he is one of the most gripping vocal presences in street-rap, he can construct a compulsively listenable album paired up with spellbinding musical taste. In fact, Summertime ‘06 sounds so good that its thought-provoking introspection into abandonment of youth actually takes the passenger seat. Lyrics being a rap album’s second priority isn’t a conventional compliment, but when you consider that Staples is one of the strongest songwriters in modern day hip-hop, it is merely a testament to this record’s strength.

4. I Love You, Honeybear- Father John Misty

Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty) has a pseudonym, affiliations (ex-percussionist of Fleet Foxes), and a look that suggests a very specific type of musician. And for a while, he was precisely that. His early albums as J. Tillman share a couple of elements with I Love You, Honeybear- most notably his powerful, golden voice- but in contrast seem rather underproduced and pedestrian. There is plenty to admire about folk music as sparse and charming as Tillman’s earlier work. However, the reason it was a tad forgettable was because it rarely played up perhaps what is now his most defining characteristic: his personality.

Honeybear, incidentally the most elegantly produced and well-written album of Tillman’s career, owes most of its charm to its lyrical charisma. In fact, taking this album at face value might suggest a focus on something completely different. Each song here is graced with impeccable instrumentation, which elevates the even stronger melodies to a platform where they are able to expand with ease. It almost makes you group Father John Misty with artists like The Walkmen, First Aid Kit, or even Fleet Foxes, who center their admittedly powerful emotional appeal around sounding “nice”. But Honeybear is not a nice album. Not even a little bit. It is easy to miss how one of the first lines on this record is “mascara, blood, ash, and cum on the Rorschach sheets where we make love” if you are being swept into its instrumental crescendo. When this album plays in the background- which it inevitably will- you might not realize that at its core sits a cynic, a narcissist, a tortured lover who graces just about every song here with some of the most passionate aggression, tenderness, or speculation in recent times. It is easy to be blown away by its conventional studio glamour (I definitely was), but Honeybear progresses into so much more as Tillman’s character is realized. With that in mind, it is the most current singer-songwriter album around, a fearless character study that puts itself out there with poise.

3. If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late- Drake

If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late is Drake’s first official “mixtape” since 2009, although such a status is put up for debate seeing as the record costs money. Aesthetically, however, the lack of any obvious radio song or mainstream pop appeal separates the tape from your typical Drake record, which is usually doused in similar emotional self-indulgence but packs a few obvious singles in there for good measure. However, this is no reason to assume that IYRTITL lacks viral charm. In fact, if Drake himself has become a cultural phenomenon, this mixtape, an hour-plus exercise in unabashed fragile narcissism, is the Drake-est thing in existence. Gone is the corniness that was such a drawback on some of his earliest material; although IYRTITL is shamelessly confident, there is no childish delusion. When Drake claims “if I die I’m a motherfucking legend”, he is not putting himself on a pedestal but merely stating what he believes and is willing to prove. Bold statements like this are woven through every end of the mixtape, but Drake stands strong as one of the few rappers who gives words like these real weight.

Even if the poise bounces at you, IYRTITL works so well because of its entertainment value. Drake has only gotten more animated with age, and songs on here see him getting the very best of his charisma through his delivery. ‘6 God’ is sheer hype at its most impulsive, rattling through its spot with a flow that is completely on edge. This level of ferocity was new for Drake as of 2013’s ‘Worst Behavior’, a song where Drake just hurled himself at you vocally. Nowadays it seems to be Drake’s most appropriate delivery method, as it shows up on many of the best tracks on this mixtape. ‘Know Yourself’ gathers an absurd amount of momentum with its beat change and ultimate launch into perhaps the most hauntingly hyped segment of Drake’s career: the already iconic “runnin’ through the six with my woes!”. Drake does not seem to be holding anything back here, and this relatively newfound expressive freedom may be the finest thing about the tape.

2. Vulnicura- Björk

Even with the historical quality control on Björk’s part, her new album, Vulnicura, is surprisingly brilliant. The two albums that came before it, Volta and Biophilia, were graced with conceptual ambition and intriguing experimentation but seemed to imply that Björk was starting to grasp at artistic straws. Comfortable is the last thing you could call an album as grating and emotionally fragile as Vulnicura, but the record certainly projects a fuller sound and thus feels more at home than Björk has felt in 14 years. At first, drawing on IDM wizards like Arca and The Haxan Cloak for production may have seemed like a smart way to fit in with the current landscape of underground electronica. Instead, it turned out to be an effort to enlist the creators of the eeriest electronic albums of the past two years to help Björk develop the haunting atmosphere she required. So, Vulnicura does not feel like a comeback record in the sense that Björk needed to reprove herself. Rather, it excels 22 years into a career that many assumed would have gone astray by now. So, the real surprise stands in how Vulnicura not only satisfies, but propels a living legend right back into her prime.

It makes sense that the most draining album of Björk’s career comes off the tail end of mammoth emotional turmoil. Following a separation from ex-husband and longtime collaborator Matthew Barney, Björk likened the construction of this album to “open-heart surgery”. The heartache and frustration that has loomed over Björk since the heartbreak is present on Vulnicura and it is a tough pill to swallow. It is evident that Björk has never made an album this personal before and such a raw exhibit of her emotions must be nerve-wracking, but the intentions are clear.Vulnicura is therapeutic. It is shattering. It deals with feelings so deep-rooted and real that listening to it almost feels invasive. On ‘Black Lake’ we get a sense of the dynamic; “You fear my limitless emotions/I am bored of your apocalyptic obsessions/did I love you too much?”. Björk paints a relationship dominated by doubt and resentment. Yet, it is something so overwhelming that it becomes inescapable. ‘Family’ reads like an obituary, where the void romance is painfully obvious but the persistence of the past exists in the form of a child. “Show some respect between the three of us”, Björk demands. “There is the mother and the child/then there is the father and the child/but no man and a woman/no triangle of love.”

In a career so legendary and filled with highlights, it is hard to determine whereVulnicura stands. On one hand it is a fresh return to sensitive form after a couple of albums that seemed to put emotion in the passenger seat. On another, it is simply a continuation of the impulse that has dominated this career; the fact that Björk never seems to know where she is going to go. However, Vulnicura evidently begins to stand up to masterworks like Homogenic and Vespertine, albums that were very unlikely to be challenged by anyone, let alone their own creator. It just goes to show that there is nobody quite like Björk. Her stamina and individuality is unmatchable, and with Vulnicura she adds yet another layer to her unique legacy.

1. To Pimp a Butterfly- Kendrick Lamar

Trying to pin To Pimp a Butterfly down is the wrong way to approach it. You could look at it as an emotional statement from a young black male at a time where discrimination is scarily prevalent. This is precisely what it is, but Lamar is not willing to take stances on these issues as much as he is eager to grow through them. It is a fresh perspective for Lamar; one that rejects clichés, doctrines, and any sort of linear progression. Instead, it serves its disjointed purpose through disjointed characters, disjointed situations, and disjointed sentiments. The spoken word snippets deliver it best. At the end of ‘i’, a song that was a bit troubling on its studio release but is completely revamped here with a live version, Lamar struggles to get the crowd’s attention, stammering “niggas ain’t trying to play victim, how many niggas we done lost?” before concluding “it shouldn’t be shit to come out here and appreciate the little bit of life we got left”. On the end of the record’s already iconic Tupac interview, the resurrected rapper claims “in this country a black man only has five years where he can exhibit maximum strength”. If there is a key theme on Butterfly, it is a celebration of black American culture, spitting vitriol at those who threaten it (‘The Blacker the Berry’) but rejecting cynicism and deflation as solutions to the problem. Butterfly is layered, and within those layers is a dense, scattered plate of passion that surfaces in many guises.

When the album starts, Kendrick is metaphorically “nutting” on the rap industry over a Flying Lotus beat, hitting just the right note. Coming off one of the most monumental breakthroughs in recent memory, it is understandable that Kendrick is conflicted by fame. ‘Wesley’s Theory’ takes the irresponsible wealth stereotype and blows it up, going as far as to have a pre-chorus that goes “we should never gave these niggas money/go back home”. We could revel over the perfect stylistic choices- opening with a sample from an old reggae song called ‘Every Nigger is a Star’, having Dr. Dre come in for a hyped guest appearance- before even getting to the nitty gritty. ‘For Free’ shows how far Kendrick is willing to veer from trite delivery, adopting a rapid-speed, unwinding slam-poetry flow over a catastrophic jazz backdrop. It is the type of thing that is so over-animated it almost seems like a throwaway, until you realize that a throwaway should not feature some of the most technically proficient rapping in recent memory.

There are no clear radio songs on Butterfly, a first for a Kendrick record, but the tracks that come closest are miraculously catchy considering their daring experimentation. For example, ‘King Kunta’ is busy as fuck. Every segment diverts from its projected path, either taking unexpected pauses, incorporating surprise melodies, or, most notably, engaging in punchy call and response (“I’m mad! (Hey Mad!)”). It is astonishing that a track with so many grooves can be this alert with all of them. Every single diversion is absolutely on point, and by the time the track ends it has expanded so much that its only option is to shatter into the somber disarray of the record’s remains. ‘Institutionalized’ sees R&B singer Bilal taking the role of Kendrick’s grandmother, preaching an ear-catching mantra of “shit don’t change until you get up and wash your ass, nigga”. For Kendrick, the community has been stuck in the mud for decades. However, it is a hunger for strength that is drilled into the record, not optimism. The most menacing moments come post-depression; on ‘Alright’, Kendrick hopes to “tell the world I know it’s too late…drown inside my vices all day”, but only over a grinning Pharrell beat and an assured hook. It is easily the most jubilant track on the record. This is emphasized since it comes after the second half of ‘u’, where Kendrick drunkenly weeps “shoulda killed your ass long time ago/shoulda felt that black revolver blast long time ago”. Hatred and insecurity dominates Butterfly, but it is always topped off by a whiff of realistic positivity. Lamar is a jarring wordsmith who knows how to let an emotion sink in (“you Facetimed the one time that’s unforgiven/you even Facetimed instead of a hospital visit”), and this ability steers his words up to the top of the music’s stunning instrumental labyrinth.

It truly is the music and delivery that makes Butterfly far more than a collection of haunting poetry. You could listen to this record without paying attention to a single word and still love it (an observation, not a suggestion) and that is all because it sounds like a spectacle at every turn. The prowess for jaw dropping moments is a constant reminder that you are listening to a intricately designed, endlessly labored-over masterpiece. For example, the moaning, seductive introduction to ‘These Walls’, the rhythmic whines on ‘For Sale’, and the gradual grittiness of Kendrick’s voice on ‘Mortal Man’ are all magnificent touches. Nevertheless, the real virtue of Butterfly is its stories, statements, characters, and allusions. Rarely do you ever get to witness an artist put such weight into every word he writes. Within the span of the record Kendrick frigidly haggles with God, interviews Tupac, and vocally embodies his mother. He simultaneously deals with hatred, bliss, and hope. He reminds you that he’s the greatest rapper around but only after he touches on politics and police brutality. He recites a poem that comes together as the album progresses, and when it is finally revealed in its full form, it feels like relief from a cliffhanger. Indeed, Kendrick Lamar has made a record even more cinematic and less obvious than its predecessor, which was incidentally one of the greatest concept albums of this generation. So grab a lyric sheet, embrace judgment, and grow. To Pimp a Butterfly is a fucking masterstroke.

Nekfeu : Prométhée et le don du ‘Feu’


Je découvre Nekfeu au début de l’année 2012, sans doute lors d’un après-midi de Février ou de Mars. Ce jour-là, exclu de mon lycée et, comme tout bon branleur, je cherchais à combler l’ennui en me perdant sur YouTube.

Bref.

De fil en aiguille, je tombe sur un clip: ‘Monsieur Sable’, un morceau élaboré par deux rappeurs (qui me sont) inconnus. La vidéo commence… Un bruit assourdissant… Celui des roues d’un skate qui gratte l’asphalte… Un gringalet qui remonte une pente, assis sur ce même skate, accompagné par des potes qui marchent à reculons… D’accord. C’est du montage, on effectue un retour vers le passé. Puis, silence. Carton. Et là… Là… j’entends le sample, le fameux ‘pom pom pom pom pom’, extrait de ‘Mister Sandman’ de The Chordettes. Je suis séduit. La production me semble brillante. Et je suis bien plus ébahi encore par l’aisance que ces types ont à magner les mots. Particulièrement le p’tit gringalet blanc à l’air arrogant.

On est si impressionnable quand on a 15 ans.

Trois ans plus tard. Nous sommes en juin. Le gringalet est devenu une des figures de proue du rap indépendant français. Lui qui évoluait dans quatre groupes différents - le S-Crew, initialement; puis P.O.S, rebaptisé ensuite 1995; L’Entourage, un collectif qui réunit différents artistes (mais surtout des rappeurs); et 5 Majeur, un crew de MCs issus des quatre coins de la France - se décide enfin à sortir son album solo ! Grande était la hype ! Ouais, parce qu’à la base, ce type est quand même le mec le plus populaire des groupes dans lesquels il apparait. Les groupies ne juraient que par sa p’tite tête de grec et les jeunes boutonneux, pas forcement habitués à écouter du rap, s’identifiaient à son attitude, plus sobre que celle des rappeurs mainstream, souvent jugés bien trop extravagants.

Je dois dire que j’attendais son album avec impatience. Pourtant, Nek’ avait bien fini par me blaser, je trouvais sa popularité injustifiée et ses pirouettes techniques ne m’impressionnaient plus. Il me fallait quelque chose en plus… Je voulais des paroles sensées, pas des amoncellements de rimes multi-syllabiques. Toutefois, je me suis ravisé.

Grâce un album.

En 2013, 5 Majeur sort son deuxième projet, intitulé ‘Variation’. La progression, déjà perceptible sur ‘Paris Sud Minute’, est désormais indéniable. Nekfeu joue déjà avec la rythmique, il accélère puis marque des temps de pause. Il s’adaptait aux productions, maintenant il se les appropries. Sa maitrise du storytelling est bien moins maladroite. Nekfeu évolue et ça se confirme ! Les quatre crew qu’il représente, aux influences et aux styles bien différents, lui auront appris à s’adapter. Le Nek’ qu’on retrouve chez 1995 (aux inspirations très éclectiques) est ainsi différent de celui du S-Crew (plutôt proche du ‘rap de la rue’ ; Scred Connexion, 113, la Mafia K’1 Fry…) qui est aussi différent de celui de 5 Majeur (souvent boom bap et toujours dans la démonstration technique) ou encore de celui de L’Entourage (là aussi, aux influences très variées) !

Le 8 juin arrive. ‘Feu’, le premier album de l’artiste originaire de Nice (representin’), sort.

Un bruit de fond ambiant, quelques notes au piano… L’atmosphère est similaire à celle d’un film d’horreur des 70s… La voix de Ken se fait entendre. Différentes références à différents animes… à un jeu vidéo aussi… Puis, l’explosion !

Une détonation artistique !

Les productions sont variées - ce qui s’explique par le nombre de producteurs différents - et flirtent avec des genres jusque là rarement abordés dans le rap français, tels que la Dream Pop. Ainsi, le morceau ‘Rêve d’avoir des rêves’ dévoile l’intérêt que Nekfeu porte au groupe britannique The XX et on notera aussi ‘Reuf’, en featuring avec Ed Sheeran, qui prend des accents de Synthpop moderne et festive, finalement rompue dans une outro en Chopped and Screwed. Des influences trap sont perceptibles dans des titres comme ‘Martin Eden’, ‘Tempête’ ou encore ‘Laisse Aller (de manière assez similaire chez Drake aussi, notamment dans sa dernière mixtape).

Mais…!

Que les pseudo-puristes se calment, l’influence old school est toutefois toujours présente sur le beat, comme dans le track ‘Point d’interrogation’ - en featuring avec Alpha Wann, véritable florilège technique, les rimes s’entrecroisent, les phases sont pertinentes - ou encore dans ‘Princesse’ qui permet au MC de placer un shout out au Doc.

La forme s’emboite finalement avec le fond, l’un repose sur l’autre, dans une harmonie dialectique. Nekfeu s’inspire de Kendrick Lamar, Drake et Eminem pour ajouter une véritable musicalité à son flow. Sa voix est tantôt grave tantôt nasale, elle s’étire lors des ego-trips (’Égérie’, ‘Martin Eden’) puis devient saccadée et part dans les aiguës lorsqu’il accélère son débit (’Nique les clones pt. II’). L’aspect rythmique, sur lequel il se concentre plus intensément depuis ‘Variations’, est maîtrisé comme jamais auparavant, chaque syllabe, chaque accent est pensé pour coller à la structure de l’instru’, le Fennek recherche la symétrie sonore. Ses phases sont travaillées avec intelligence. Les jeux de mot se multiplient, tout comme les mesures polysémiques qui, nécessitent pour certaines, plusieurs écoutes avant d’être pleinement comprises. L’écriture de cet album est le fruit d’une réflexion poussée (certaines bribes de texte remontent à quelques années en arrière et ont été repensées depuis) où l’argot se mêle au langage soutenu (’Être Humain’, ‘Martin Éden’) où le rap prend même des accents rimbaldiens (’Des astres’).

Cependant, la cohérence et l’unité se trouvent bien plus dans l’aspect thématique de l’œuvre. Ken Samaras est en plein cheminement existentiel, perdu dans ses propres contradictions. Perdu entre Nekfeu, le rappeur réfléchis, souvent pessimiste, et Nek Le Fennek, celui qui prend le dessus lors des egotrips, l’insolent, l’impertinent. Perdu entre des relations futiles, celles qui ne sont stimulées que par le désir, par les pulsions, et l’intérêt qu’il porte aux filles un peu paumées (celles de ‘Elle en avait Envie’, ‘Princesse’ ou ‘Risibles Amours’) et à certaines conquêtes qu’il ne peut oublier (‘Des astres’). Perdu entre le sentiment de révolte qui s’empare de lui lorsqu’il parle des institutions comme l’Éducation Nationale (’Nique les clones pt. II’) et le pessimisme qu’il exprime lorsqu’il décrit des destins en perdition (’Tempête’, ‘Elle en avait envie’). L’album est ainsi jonché d’oppositions, d’antithèses, de dissonances. Comme le souligne l’intéressé, son rap est une conversation.

‘Feu’ est une œuvre introspective mais sa portée est universelle. Nekfeu se cherche, se questionne, tente de trouver en lui les fils conducteurs avant de comprendre, finalement, que ‘les seules vraies réponses sont des questions’.

Cette seule maxime pourrait résumer l’idée exprimée par cette album. L’existence est une perpétuelle confusion, un amas de contradictions, mais plutôt que de chercher à expliquer la réalité, ne serait-il pas préférable de l’appréhender en la questionnant ? Ces mêmes questions ne permettent-elles pas d’obtenir un semblant de compréhension, d’élever les consciences ?

Bon, je m’arrête là, ça commence à partir en couilles, façon devoir de philo’.

youtube

PLEASE WATCH AND SHARE THIS FANTASTIC VIDEO FROM GOOGLE!

The Killing Joke: A True Batgirl fan's Honest Thoughts, Part I: PROS

Let me just start off this “review” by saying that Barbara was absolutely gorgeous in this movie, and that this review is kinda gonna be a long one, but I hope you true BG and Batman fans read through it. Anyways, I’ve been a Batgirl fan for pretty much since the early days of me beginning to be a DC fan. Something about her just clicked with me, and I didn’t need a reason at all to justify why I liked her. I just did. So pretty much, having this comic come to the screens is a dream come true for me. Not because she gets shot or is turned into Oracle, but simply because they chose to focus a little bit more on BG : show us who she is, what she does, how she acts, what her role is in the Bat family and more, which is something I’ve been looking for.

PROS
1.) The movie stuck to the comic.
The lines were straight out of the comic book, and that was meaningful because the Killing Joke has a lot of pretty memorable and vicious lines. Not only that, but the scenes were almost exact as the comic book as well. Well done animators.

2.) The 30 minute backstory on Barbara alone.
As a Batgirl fan, who wouldn’t love that? We get to see her as Batgirl, as Babs, as Barbara who works at the library, as Jim Gordon’s one and only daughter, as “Barbara Cathleen Gordon”. We also get to see her in action (lots of it), but we also get to see her upset and angry, throwing off males out of irritation (personally I enjoyed that scene), we see her showing regret. We see her enjoying the thrill of being a hero. We see Babs almost going over the edge, wanting to kill someone but immediately stops herself. We see her make mature decisions on her own, being a young woman that she is. I think it was very wise of her to contemplate on the “abyss” Batman was talking about, resigning as BG so as to stop herself from temptations. I’m just so proud of her. Honestly.

3.) It was realistic.
Yes there is nothing realistic about superheroes donning capes and cowls, but if you just look at it at a different angle, everything about superheroes, Batman and The Killing Joke is based on reality. Hear me out:

a) The scene when Batgirl was running away from Paris Franz’ uncle’s men in the mansion. The part when she clicks the elevator switch repeatedly and attempts to pull the elevator doors open. That reminded me so much of myself whenever I’m late to class, I actually laughed when it happened. Just think, usually in superhero movies everything’s just right on time, elevator doors open at the perfect time, but no, not here.
b) She has a gay friend who works with her at the library. He constantly talks to her about her lack thereof a love life, pointing out there’s a lot of fish in the sea, but she is just uninterested.
c) We see regret, disappointment and frustration towards Babs’ self. Usually in superhero movies, the protagonist falls down, decides to get up, battle the villain and triumphs. In Killing Joke, we see Barbara struggling with her inner self, spending time alone on rooftops, talking to herself. We normally talk to ourselves in times of distress or when we are confused, so great job here.
d) Batman brings her a hot drink (in their suits!!!). Cmon, I never EVER thought we’d see that caring side of Bats in any movie or show before, until this one. And in their suits, really?!
e) Batman searches around town, interrogating people from different backgrounds of the whereabouts of The Joker. Normally in a cinematic setting, we’d expect him to know where exactly The Joker is, pursue him and arrive at just the perfect moment and save Jim from the horror train. But here, we see Bats searching for him first.
f) Last but not the least, of course the main plot of TKJ, especially Joker’s views of turning reality into sanity. Let’s face it, The Joker was an ordinary chum just like us, who up until that horrible “bad day”, he lost it. How many times have we felt like we were gonna lose it? A million.

4.) Let me reiterate this again, BABS WAS ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS HERE. All of her looks are spot on: from her BG suit, her civvies, her exercise outfit, her hair up in a ponytail and then down again. With glasses, without glasses….

Let’s admit it, she is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay way hotter than Starfire. (That was for you, Dick.)

Pretty Little Liars 7x20 Review

I love series finales (that are planned). It is always such a bittersweet moment that can either make of break a show. It is your last impression of beloved characters that you’ve gotten to know over the course of years. It needs to be a hour (or more) filled with sentimental moments, promises of the future, and still hold/continue the storyline of the show. Its hard to say goodbye, but if done correctly, you can smile with happiness through the tears.

“It’s like when you finish a book and you don’t want it to end. Even though the characters are happy, you’re still sad that it’s ending.”

I thought this was a great episode for PLL to end on. Some may say that it was a reach but for the past seven years this story has taken us through crazy turns, the finale should be no different.

Bravo to Troian. I don’t really have words. I think we can all agree she was fantastic. Not that we are surprised by that. Wish we had time to see Alex more but you know… the show is over so…

Bravo to all who called a Spencer twin. I’ve read the theories for months, Ive agreed with them all (I mean really, why was Spencer changing outfits so much) but I never fully committed to the idea. The twin reveal scene (when Alex lowers her hand from her head) made me smile.

Bravo to the horse for knowing the difference between Spencer and Alex. Toby, I’m just going to give you a bra- on that.

Bravo to all the liars finally being happy. And the babies! So many liar babies in the future! The Emison proposal being so low key made me love it even more. Ezria was never my favorite couple but I have to admit that ending with their wedding was perfect. My favorite couple didn’t actually get the ending many would have hoped, but they did get a promise for the future. And honestly, I feel like Spencer and Toby need time to find there way back to each other.

BRAVO TO MONA. THE ORIGINAL A. THERE WAS NO BETTER WAY TO HAVE MONA’S STORY END.

Questions that I still need answers to:

1. how many times was Alex pretending to be Spencer? just the flash back we saw in the finale or more? Because she had different outfits a lot y'all.

2. One thing in the time line doesn’t add up for me. Alex slept with Toby and he saw her gunshot wound. That happened before the game was over and before the year jump. Alex went back to Wren in that year jump. It seemed that she got him to shoot her during this period, but shouldn’t she have already had the wound because Toby saw it? Someone needs to draw a detailed timeline for me!

Now, the not so great of the episode:

It was 2 hours long but unfortunately it still needed at least 30 minutes. The ending after Alex was “arrested” was very rushed and done in under 8 minutes. I think more time and conversation was needed. We just jumped straight to the wedding. WHY WAS EVERYONE SO CHILLED ABOUT SPENCER HAVING AN EVIL TWIN?!?!  That deserved a better conversation. Still would have liked a last Spoby conversation.

Also I HATED the last scene, the recreation of the pilot with new girls. Loved the idea of calling back to the pilot but it should have been done with the 5 original girls. Could have been them having one last sleepover in the barn where it all started. Or if it really had to be new girls, it could have been Alison winning the war with Addison in some way. I don’t know, just anything better than what it was.

After seven years this crazy show comes to an end. It took us through too many crazy twist and turns to count but we secretly all enjoyed the ride. Tuesday will be weird with the idea of never seeing Spencer, Hanna, Alison, Aria and Emily again but we should all be excited about what the actors do in the future. And honestly I’m going to miss crazy A just as much. Thank you for the years PLL.

Let’s end this with the most iconic PLL scene of all time (and also how PLL will most likely greet us again in 15 years):

“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

My Top 10 Frank Ocean Songs (Where The Album Frank)

Frank Ocean is a artist I discovered musically around 2011, he has been blessing my playlist with his beautiful voice and unique songs ever since, at least he is bringing the love back into R&B… While we patiently wait for him to drop his highly anticipated sophomore album, I figured why not do a list on some of my top songs by this dope artist!

1. Pink Matter

This song includes a dope verse from the great Andre 3000 who is known for stealing the show on any song he is featured on, of course Frankie holds his own with sexy rhythmic lyrics and a beautiful yet somewhat eerie delivery.

2. Love Crimes

Honestly one of my favorites due to the calm yet cold delivery in which he tells a story of a past relationship. With the odd yet at the same time smooth beat, this song will have you relaxing while at the same time following his story.

3. Pyramids 

From his critically acclaimed freshmen album, Channel Orange. This song gives you a true treat in the form of 2 songs in one! Telling a story about an “escort” the second part to this song exudes a sexy feel that will change any atmosphere it is played in…go ahead and fast forward to 4:27 during the song its ok, we all do!

4. Super Rich Kids

One of the more popular songs to come from Channel Orange, this song enjoyed pretty decent air play from radios and other media outlets. Frankie gets help from the lyrically gifted Earl Sweatshirt. They keep it all in the OFWGKTA Family. 

5. Songs For Women

This entry is from his much loved mixtape Nostalgia Ultra. The song talks about a man using his gift (singing) to get the opposite sex. With a sort of 80′s feel to the beat as well as a greatly smoothed out delivery from Mr. Ocean, this is one of my favorites.

6. Thinking About You

WHY IS THIS SONG SO SHORT!

7. Swim Good

“Relaxing and smooth this song is” at least that is how Yoda would put it! This song takes you to places musically so much so you almost forget the song is about suicide…

8. Sierra Leone

No this song isn’t about Rocafella Kanye West’s home, its actually a beautiful tune about reconnecting with your lover sexually. With an amazing beat that will have you feeling both sexy and relaxed, this track is a very underrated gem in his catalog. 

9. Crack Rock

Well, the song is pretty self explanatory, what does need attention though is the passion at which Frankie sings this song. The beat takes a backseat to Frank Oceans smooth voice which is something that is unusual for a track by him, his beats usually are as commendable as his performance, still this song is beautiful.

10. Novacane

As he states in this song, Frank Ocean gives us a natural high with his voice and the almost other worldly beat that we just could not waste this high it gives us and take opportunity to give it some love. Chances are this is your intro song to Frank Ocean as this was one of his first big radio songs, I know that word is usually meant in a negative way…but trust me, this song still holds up to this day!

Batman Beyond #12

  • Writer - Dan Jurgens
  • Art - Philip Tan
  • Cover - Philip Tan & Elmer Santos

“Wired for Death” Part 1

A break in at STAR labs has Tim facing off with Rewire, a tech-based bad guy that went up against Terry McGinnis in the past.  But what’s he after and who’s pulling his strings?

This was a nice straight-forward action issue after all the drama of the prolonged Brother Eye stuff.  Rewire was introduced in the Digital First series and was a character with a twisted past that I don’t think ever really reached his potential.  He’s very effective against Tim this issue, especially with the background help of his mysterious mentor.  I’m intrigued and want to see more of this story.

The issue actually opens with a flashback to Terry’s early days as Batman.  Bruce is upset with Terry, and Barbara explains the mystery of Tim Drake’s disappearance and how that has haunted Bruce through the years.  Really nice tying these elements together.  I can absolutely see the mystery of Tim’s disappearance being something that Bruce would never let go.  Nice story element.

Happy to have the Brother Eye stuff in the past, but I hope we won’t lose the whole integration of the refugees into Gotham as a subplot.  That was a really nice part of the previous arc, and it didn’t get resolved to my satisfaction.  I hope Jurgens doesn’t just drop it.

Interesting stuff that makes me want to keep reading.