Friday, January 16, 2015

Action Bronson Spits Mean Freestyle on Funkmaster Flex

Action Bronson paid a visit to Funkmaster Flex on Hot.97 where he kicked a monster freestyle to one of my favorite rap songs/instrumentals of all time, Prodigy's "Keep it Thoro" (prod. by The Alchemist). 

Bronson's friend Big Body Bes was there to talk his shit before the verse ("I feel like speaking Puerto Rican") while Bronson dropped some gems like ("if I die change my suit four times at the wake") and ("I'm just trying to be the next George Foreman/invent a new grill so Jadakiss can cook the bass on it".) 

After he finished Funk Flex crowned him "nicest in the game right now" and it's hard to disagree. His new album, Mr. Wonderful, is expected to be out in March. Check out his latest single here

Friday, January 9, 2015

'Taken' Series Finally Gets an Honest Trailer

Since the first Taken movie, Liam Neeson has been proving to be one hell of an action star and audiences have been paying to see his "particular set of skills" on screen. With Taken 3 coming out in theaters today, Screen Junkies' Honest Trailers series break down the European stereotypes, anti-tourism and jugular destruction that make up the action series. 

Check it out below.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Redman - My 2nd Lighter (Music Video)

Funk Doctor Spock is back with a great idea for a track in "My 2nd Lighter" about finding whoever snatched your lighter, one of the biggest pet peeves in smoke circles. I'm surprised the concept hasn't been done already, and no the cotton candy pop record "Lighters" from Bad Meets Evil and Bruno Mars doesn't count. I've written previously about Red's animated personality and humor and his ability to take simple ideas and make dope records from them. Tracks like "How to Roll a Blunt", "How High" and "Can't Wait" have some of his best imagery to show his outlandish behavior  and of course his love for smoking buddha, whether it's "on a train" or in the back-row of a movie theater. 

With my "2nd Lighter" (directed by DJ Scoob Doo) Reggie Noble found inspiration on the funky bass-driven beat DJ Premier produced for Nas on a song called "2nd Childhood". "2nd Lighter" is not as serious, but lighter theft is a nuisance to Redman who is on "high alert" and is trusting nobody. The scratches in the chorus are a nice touch brought from the original song and Red spits some of the funniest lines of the year (who else wants an app in their phone called "find my lighter"?). Check out the video below.

The sampled boom-bap sound is Preemo's trademark and songs like "Smoke Buddah" and "Tonight's Da Night" show the Doc is comfortable with the smoother beats. Red is busy working on Muddy Waters 2 the sequel to what most consider his best album, but before that he will release The Preload EP.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Fox News Airs One of The Worst Interviews of All Time (Video)

Fox News is not known for their objective opinions and journalistic integrity but they really outdid themselves this time. In a recent interview with religion scholar Reza Aslan, who was trying to promote his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of NazarethFox News correspondent Lauren Green attacked him with baffling and irrelevant questions about his faith saying, "you're a Muslim, so why did you write a book about the founding father of Christianity?". Aslan, probably used to people questioning his faith (he's a Christian turned Muslim), patiently listed his qualifications. He's a PhD, "a scholar of religions with four degrees" and "has been studying the origins of christianity for two decades who also just happens to be Muslim", but that answer wasn't good enough for Fox News' go-to religious "expert" Lauren Green who continued to reiterate the question several more times during the interview.

He slowly tries to break it down for her a second time emphasizing he's "a professor of religion" and that's what he "does for a living actually" as if trying to teach a child how to color. After the embarrassing first questions, Green then proceeds to read off misinformed quotes bashing his book and trying to belittle Aslan as a muslim pushing his agenda rather than a historian. I have a lot of respect for Aslan for being so patient during the assault of prejudice he put up with for being muslim during his interview, I don't know if I could have done the same but he kept his composure. 

The TV train wreck proceeded for 10 minutes with Aslan becoming frustrated with the persistent assertions. Green asked one question about the book, and that is his position about Jesus which she would have known if she read it, but after that she quotes yet another blinded attack on his faith. The quote read "your book is written with clear bias and you're trying to say it's academic? That's like having a democrat writing a book about why Reagan wasn't a good republican, it just doesn't work". *facepalm* I doubt that Green knows that someone can be heterosexual and write about homosexuality, American and write about middle-eastern culture, and intelligent and write about Fox news (pow!). Clearly Green and the writers at Fox hadn't read the book but I've heard better questions from middle school newspapers. 

I doubt working for Fox requires any type of education but questioning someone's expertise based on their religion is quite insulting, and Fox is the first network to get offended over the slightest critique of their extreme christian conservative beliefs. That being said, two days after the interview, his book shot up to number 1 on Amazon from it's previous spot at number 8 and is being praised for it's portrayal of the man Jesus of Nazareth and what he stood for. Watch the shameful video below if you dare.

If you want to watch a more insightful interview with Reza Aslan go to this one from The Daily Show and if you want to cringe at more Fox interviews check out this list I found (Bill O'Reilly accounts for half of them). 

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Conjuring (Movie Review)

James Wan is one of the most talented directors in modern horror. Starting with his low-budget bone-cutting debut film, Saw (2004), he and his writing partner Leigh Whannell shocked audiences with their gory introduction to Jigsaw. More recently  he toned down the blood and went with a more traditional approach for scares with films like Dead Silence (2007) and Insidious (2010); the latter was a spooky yet uneven ghost tale (with a sequel in the works). 

Now we have The Conjuring which was met with favorable reviews from critics and audiences alike and it is another take on the tired possession story, but not to worry, Wan is a student of horror and proves why this movie stands out from the rest of the pack. The movie opens with Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) and her husband Ed (Patrick Wilson) attempting to help two women who are being stalked by a creepy doll that puts the ones from Dead Silence to shame. Lorraine is gifted—or cursed depending on how you look at it—with the ability to see these evil spirits that her and her husband hunt down and her and Ed have invested their lives into helping people who face evil manifestations. The audience is told that the Warren's are in fact real life demonologists who worked on the Amityville Horror case and many others in their long careers which is shown in vintage photos.

The set up is pretty standard, Carolyn (Lili Taylor) and Roger (Ron Livingston) Perron move into a rustic farmhouse with their five daughters and their dog and immediately something isn't right. The dog won't step foot in the house, and during a game of hide and clap the daughters discover a hidden cellar full of random junk from the past owner. The youngest daughter finds a really creepy wind up clown toy which she says lets her see a new friend, Carolyn starts getting dark bruises on her body and random noises start disturbing the family late at night. The buildup is paced with incredible patience from Wan, who makes the most intense experience possible with most basic tricks. Things like ominous knocks and slammed doors which get drowned out by gore in most modern horror movies (Evil Dead), displace the audiences comfort and effectively raise their heart rate. Some of the best scenes come early when Carolyn plays hide and clap (with a blindfold) and realizes she's chasing the wrong claps.

Wan shows his diversity as a director by going back to the drawing board of early horror films and gives homage to scary movies like The Poltergeist, The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror. Ed Warren goes over the three stages of possession which will be seen throughout the film which are infestation, oppression and possession respectively. The spirits in the house start out taunting and it takes a toll on the family, Cindy (Mackenzie Foy) starts sleepwalking (particularly to a wardrobe) and Christine (Joey King) gets pulled by someone in her sleep and slowly the spirits become more aggressive with an impressively frightening scene with the mother trapped in the cellar, they oppress the family until it's not even safe to sleep alone. 

Once the Perrons reach out to the Warrens for help, the spirits don't get any calmer and manifest further with the Warrens investigative presence in the house. Once Carolyn sees the history behinds the house, she knows what kind of danger they're in and that's when all hell breaks loose and the audience is left in their seats tortured by the anticipation. The performances are very convincing especially from Vera Farmiga who seems determined in her role as a broken mother trying to help the family and also from Lili Taylor who makes it hard to watch the closing sequence with her physically and emotionally intense performance. Wan purposely shot the film with a 70s feel in mind—the actual case was in 1971—and he stays authentic to the time with camera techniques and imagery but he also blends some effects that weren't available back then.

The Conjuring is not meant to make you believe in malevolent spirits but unlike many other movies which claim to be true this one makes these characters a real family and who would want this pain inflicted on someone close to them? This movie is rated r for disturbing violence and terror and practically no gore so that should be a hint at how genuinely terrifying this movie is. It is up there with The Exorcist in terms of shocking terror and I doubt another movie will match its horrific genius anytime soon. 

Side Note: There will be a sequel to The Conjuring which was announced before it was released and it is rumored to be about The Amityville Case. 

My Rating:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Earl Sweatshirt - Hive (Official Music Video)

Earl Sweatshirt has released his third single and music video from his upcoming album Doris. "Hive" also features guest appearances from OFWGKTA affiliate Casey Veggies and Vince Staples. The gloomy beat is familiar ground for Earl's internal rhyming and run-on flow and it's easy to see why he's one of the top rappers from Odd Future's roster (impressive considering he's only 19-years-old!). Many people struggle to comprehend Earl's lyrics and many casual rap fans are not really into the darkly toned style he has built himself on, but his wild imagination and creative flows set him apart. Not many rappers possess the extensive diction Sweatshirt has, let alone make the multi-syllable words rhyme for more than two bars. 

His first single "Chum" came out last year and the song is more introspective than fans were used to hearing, but the heavy bass and chilling piano let him showcase what he's capable of. The music video is black and white and eerie but he still managed to poke fun at himself ("too black for the white kids and too white for the blacks"). Next came "Whoa" featuring Tyler, The Creator which was a reminder to devout fans that he can still rhyme bizarre words ridiculously well like he did on "Earl". 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Takeover, The Break's Over...Jay-Z Finally Gives Sequel to Dead Presidents II

It's been over a month since I updated my blog, partly due to vacation, but now I'm back and I thought what better way to mark my return then to write about a rap legend who has also made his return to music. I'm referring of course to Jay-Z and his new album Magna Carta Holy Grail which was released last week.  

I'm currently going through his discography before I review the album, but Jay-Z gave fans a gem by letting Young Guru release "Dead Presidents III", an unreleased track produced and recorded by Young Guru during Jay-Z's post-retirement period. The song was first previewed on DJ Green Lantern's Presidential Invasion mixtape with one verse, the final version has two verses but most of the second verse was used in the song "Moment of Clarity" on The Black Album

The dated references (flew into the building like 100 Osamas) might be the reason why he decided not to put it on an album, but Young Guru blessed the beat with a glossy piano loop and Jay's wordplay (yesterday I was "kneading" this dough) and flow are reminiscent of his style on Reasonable Doubt (arguably his best album). Listen and download.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Hangover (Movie Review)

By now you've heard the story. Three friends go to Las Vegas to throw a bachelor party for their friend in his last night of freedom and wake up with a missing groom and no memory of the previous night. This is the film which skyrocketed the careers of both Zach Galifianakis and Bradley Cooper (now an Academy Award Nominee) who are both taking over Hollywood in lead roles. 

The main reason this movie works is because of it's characters. The script takes its time in setting them apart from the beginning, so by the time things get out of hand you know their personalities. Doug (Justin Bartha) is the groom who is forced to take his brother-in-law Alan (Zach Galifianakis), who is the immature kid trapped inside of a very fat and hairy man's body. Alan has the most one-liners in the movie and Galifianakis' stand-up comedy is delivered in much of the same manner. Hollywood has since typecast him for eccentric characters who are all clones of Alan. 

Phil (Bradley Cooper) is the young teacher who's bored with life and treats the trip as an escape route, and Stu (Ed Helms) is the whipped boyfriend trying to escape from his controlling girlfriend (he doesn't mention their plan to crash in sin city). Todd Philips put these realistic characters in a city which is like an amusement park for adults, and gives them an excuse to go wild. 

None of the night is filmed, which was a good move by Phillips who resisted the urge to make the movie another boring raunchfest, instead he cuts to the next morning when they are all passed out in their ravaged hotel room filled with wild animals, and a baby—which Alan names Carlos. While the film does have it's raunchy moments it doesn't solely rely on them for laughs. Together they try and account for the night but none of them can remember anything, so they use clues to recount the night and locate their friend. From that point they run in with cops, a stripper, a crazed Chinese gangster named Mr. Chow (hilariously played by Ken Jeong) and a famous athlete who likes Phil Collins.

There are people who don't find much to like about this movie and others who call it one of the best comedies of all time and I don't agree with either of them. I think it's successful in it's goal of making likable characters go through crazy situations but it is overrated compared the massive hype people gave it during it's release but I don't blame them. Comedies were at an all time low and fans who gave it a chance made it the highest grossing rated-R movie up to that point (later beat by Ted). 

The big reveal at the end will leave some cheering for them and leave others feeling underwhelmed, but altogether the movie is pieced together well and filled with many types of comedy so that all of the characters share moments of humor and vulnerability.  The movie is best the first time but even after repeated viewings, the movie doesn't lose it's charm; the setups are original and so are the situations as the "wolf pack" recklessly pushes through them. Director Todd Philips made another film about a group of guys reliving their younger days in Old School, and once again he manages to bring together a talented cast and a hilarious script, and does it even better this time around. 

My Rating:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cube (Movie Review)

Cube (1997) is the second film by Canadian writer/director Vincenzo Natali (who went on to make Splice), and it literally takes horror to another dimension with a darkly imaginative script and ambitious filmmaking.

The story begins with five strangers in a large room together with no memory of how they arrived and no clue why they are there. Quentin is a cop; Holloway, a "free" doctor; Rennes, an infamous escape artist; Worth, a nihilist and Leaven just goes to school. The characters don't exactly know what their function is but they assume they serve a purpose. (Trivia fact: all of the characters are named after famous prisons).

As they struggle for survival, the audience witnesses the several stages of their personality during their imprisonment. They ask all of the logical questions. Who is doing this to them? Holloway blames the conspiracy on the government or aliens. Quentin thinks it is "some rich psycho's entertainment". As they look around the room there's doors on each side leading to another room like an endless maze, so they decide to move together in a straight line until they reach an exit, because it has to end right? Rennes isn't interested in the groups questions and explains that their journey won't be so easy because the rooms are booby trapped with lethal technology (one man in the beginning gets cubed). He uses his boot as a precaution, but their fate relies on the rooms as they await in agony for anything to happen.

Their minds and bodies are tested beyond their limits, and in true Lord of the Flies fashion a survivalist group forms with a hero and a weak link. They are forced to work together even though the group is unlikely to talk to each other in the real world, but the cube brings an alternate world that plays like an episode of Twilight Zone. With no sense of direction, starvation and desperation take over the group's will and trust and they conspire against one another. They use clues from the passages to try and find their way out but as they reach dead ends it's easy to become hopeless, and the movie takes a violent turn. The true horror of the movie is in the characters and one of the key quotes from the movie comes from Rennes where he says "you've gotta save yourselves from yourselves". 

The time frame is not revealed and the mystery is not fully answered, but as the mastermind, Natali understands that by doing this the audience is forced in the cube with them with the same paranoia. He uses many closeup shots on the actors' faces to further push the effect of claustrophobia and his use of color in the rooms sets the rooms apart even though the design is the same (only one set room was used during filming). What's great about Cube is that it can't be broken down to one genre, there are some horror scenes (the sound room is my favorite), some sci-fi and the rest is a psychological thriller. As the prisoners starve and reach their boiling points they turn on each other in search of an answer and some reach hopelessness while others do whatever it takes to survive which is a reflection of our brain's "fight or flight" response.

The acting is probably the movies biggest downfall, there are no standout performances, but these are demanding roles. Quentin who plays good cop/bad cop (the main character) is the most believable and plays best alongside Worth but Holloway's constant pestering and laughable dialogue—at one point she refers to Quentin as a Nazi—grows tiring. The effects still hold up pretty good given that it was made over 15 years ago on such a low budget. The subpar acting and plot holes are more than made up for in the movie's mental terror and stylish approach. 

The conclusion is powerful and nihilistic in nature and makes the characters more evil than the cube itself. The film also has some pretty direct feelings towards the world outside of the cube, and creates a conceptual metaphor for humanity and the evil all humans hold inside. This is a low budget film powered by it's script and imagination; Natali managed to think outside of the box but trapped us all in it at the same time.

My Rating:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Juicy J - Boss Nigga (Music Video)

Shortly after it's release, Juicy J gives his newest track "Boss Nigga" some visuals. The video is what you'd expect, one of the first shots has him downing an entire bottle of Xanax and on stage with two bottles in his hand. While I'm not a fan of his "trippy" brand, I have to admit this is more entertaining than most songs I've heard from him. 

He sounds better with a sped up flow (to make up for some of his lyrics) and the beat is not his usual strip club sound but more of something I'd expect Young Jeezy or T.I. to spit some hard shit over. Juicy J does a pretty good job with the tough talk while still keeping his signature comedy. This line from the song sums up Juicy J's entire style, "my Benz got a whole in the top like a dolphin/I'm on this codeine cuz this weed got me coughin" and others are just as funny like "Pull out them toasters, turn you to a pop tart". His album Stay Trippy is set to be out July 2nd. 

Check out the video below. 

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