Thursday, April 11, 2013

Roger Ebert Dead at 70 Years Old

You don't have to be a film critic or fanatic to know who Roger Ebert is and the impact he's had on the industry. In over 40 years of writing for the Chicago Sun-Times he's reviewed an average of 200 films a year and there was nothing he loved more. In 2002 he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and has been battling ever since,  but in 2013 his cancer returned and ended his life last Thursday at 70 years old.

"I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state ... I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting" 
- Roger Ebert

If you're not familiar with Roger Ebert, he was the creator of the "thumbs up/thumbs down" rating system with his partner Gene Siskel. In 1975 his work earned him a Pulitzer Prize—the first movie critic to do so—and that's when the show Sneak Previews debuted with another Chicago critic, Gene Siskel. Their "thumbs up" rating system was an instant trademark and in 1986 they made the popular TV show Siskel and Ebert and The Movies, later shortened to Siskel and Ebert. The show aired from 1986-1999 when Gene Siskel died from a brain tumor. 

Here's a classic clip of the two reviewing The Crow (1994):

Ebert continued the show with Richard Roeper  until 2006 when the cancer spread to his salivary glands and took away his voice and ability to eat. I'm not a fan of Roeper's style of reviewing but the two did have some memorable disagreements like the clip below.

Last week Ebert worried many with an article he posted called "A Leave of Presence". In it he says that last year he wrote 306 movie reviews, the most of his career and stating that "he must slow down". He also announced that his cancer has returned but that he would still be doing selective reviews but leaving the rest to other critics he trusts and "admires". The note seemed like a farewell of sorts with the last line reading, "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies." 

Gene Siskel (left) and Roger Ebert (Right) "At The Movies".
Ebert's battle with cancer (including multiple surgeries) took away his ability to eat, drink or speak. His spirit never faltered in years of good and bad movies. His wife Chaz supported him tremendously throughout his many surgeries, including the major one in 2006 which removed his lower jaw and his ability to eat or speak. Aside from Esquire's great editorial about him, titled Roger Ebert: The Essential Man in 2010, Oprah did an in-depth interview with him and his wife Chaz the same year about their much secluded life. (Check out both parts here and here)

"Nobody's perfect, we have to find peace with the way we look and get on with life" 
- Roger Ebert

The best part of those interviews was Ebert's ability to communicate with his computer and a software that replicated his voice and his wife's tearful reaction. Ebert's spirit in the midst of his circumstances is truly inspiring. Although he was physically handicapped many movie lovers like myself rejoiced in the fact that his voice was still very much alive in his reviews (Check out his re-launched website here).

Thank you Roger for teaching a generation about movies, nothing can stop my appreciation for your work and the work of good movies and to continue in the underrated tradition of criticism. I'll see you at the movies Roger. 

Listen & Download: Big K.R.I.T. - King Remembered In Time

Download K.R.I.T.'s new mixtape King Remembered in Time is a title derived from his name and is his first release of 2013. I generally think K.R.I.T. sounds better on mixtapes, my favorite being ReturnOf4Eva, but K.R.I.T. Wuz Here is also some of his best work. King Remembered in Time is the followup to his album Live From the Underground which was an average debut but not nearly as good as his mixtapes. 

Listen and download to his new mixtape below.

Action Bronson - Live From Kissena Boulevard (prod. by Statik Selektah)

Funkmaster Flex is making his comeback in the mixtape  game by dropping a project next week Wednesday (April 17th) entitled Who You Mad At? Me Or Yourself?. Yesterday he previewed the first song from it called "Live From Kissena Boulevard" by Action Bronson and it's all about his hometown of Flushing Queens. Listen and download below.

The mixtape will be two parts long and features music from The Lox, Fabolous, Vado, A$AP Rocky, Slaughterhouse, Busta Rhymes, Childish Gambino, Cam'ron, Schoolboy Q and Raekwon just to name a few. The mixtape will only be available on the DJ Funk Flex App on the iTunes store or Google play.

Proph - Winner (Prod. by Hart Gunther)

Milwaukee-native Proph releases the first track from his new album Eat Alone coming out in May. The track is produced by Hart Gunther who uses a simple melody with heavy bass along the same lines as Started From The Bottom by Drake or something Meek Mill would yell over.

Proph offers an energetic yet simplistic chorus that is perfect for a club setting or live performance and his verses stay humble to his roots while being confident in his accomplishments at the same time.

If you haven't yet, listen and download to Proph's last album Wool Over My Eyes. (Listen/Download)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ghostface Killah Performs On Late Night With Jimmy Fallon

Original Wu member Tone Starks, with Adrain Younge, Killah Priest, Masta Ace and The Roots performed "I Declare War" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon yesterday. The song is off of his new album Twelve Reasons to Die—entirely produced/composed by Adrian Younge—which hits stores next Tuesday. Pre-order here. Check out the album stream (courtesy of NPR) below the video to hear it. 

Here's the official tracklist: 
01. Beware Of The Stare
02. Rise Of The Black Suits
03. I Declare War
04. Blood On The Cobblestones (feat. U-God & Inspectah Deck)
05. The Center Of Attraction
06. Enemies All Around Me
07. An Unexpected Call (The Set Up)
08. The Rise Of The Ghostface Killah 

WTF Moments of the Week

1. Ray J's new song "Hit it First" is real
Brandi's irrelevant and desperate brother Ray J made a new song called "Hit it First" this week. The song takes obvious shots at Kim Kardashian's current relationship with Kanye West and ex-fiance Chris Humphries. The act didn't only reaffirm his status as a petty playa hater but it's just childish that during her pregnancy she has to hear this awful song about who "hit it first".

After their public sex tape, Ray J is trying to get some props that he is responsible for her career and it's pretty shameful. I'm not even a supporter of Kim or any of the other Kardashians for that matter for the simple fact they are famous for being talentless idiots, but I don't hold Ray J to any higher value and obviously this is his attempt to get back into the spotlight. Kanye West shouldn't even bother responding but he's never really been good at holding back his tongue and Ray J threw obvious shots at him ("I had her head going north and her ass going south/But now baby chose to go West") so I'm sure we'll hear something soon. 

Making matters worse, Ray J called in to Hot.97 with Peter Rosenberg, K Foxx and Old Man Ebro to defend himself. During the call he says it's a "concept" and people are going too "deep" with it. Umm...the song is called "Hit it First" and the cover is a blurred photo of Kim Kardashian. He later said the song wasn't even about her. Listen to the hilarious and sad life of Ray J below.

2. LL Cool J and Brad Praisley have a song called "Accidental Racist" 
(Yes, it's worse than it sounds)

After Nelly and Tim Mcgraw tried to team up with their country rap ballad "Over Again" back in '04 it was pretty clear that the two genres don't mix well and should stay as far away as possible from each other. It is 2013 and not only is another horrible attempt to mix the two genres together, it also tries to debunk racism in the worst parody way possible. Brad Paisley is wearing a confederate flag shirt at a starbucks claiming to be from the south but he is actually from West Virginia.

LL Cool J has been on the biggest L streak of his career but this is a new low. Part of LL Cool J's rap "if you don't judge my gold chains/I'll forget the iron chains" or how about "R.I.P. Robert E Lee, but I gotta thank Abraham Lincoln for freeing me...know what I mean". I can't make this 3rd grade reading rainbow history lesson up but I hope people don't take anything away from this misguided mess of a song.

Listen (if you dare) below: 

3. Kevin Ware

It's been longer than a week but the mental scarring Kevin Ware's compound fracture gave to the world on national television will take a while to forget. Follow the link to watch how it happend, I'm still baffled, even though I've seen it many times, at the severity of the injury. It remains one of the most brutal injuries in sports ever. It's not all bad news though because Louisville ended up winning the title and Kevin Ware got to cut down the net. MARCH MADNESS at it's finest.
Yes that is a BONE sticking out!!
See the footage of the injury with his teams reaction.

Louisville Defeats Michigan to Win National Championship

Well my bracket was ruined after Indiana and Miami lost in the Sweet 16 but I did choose the number one seed Louisville to win and they did just that after they defeated Michigan in an 82-76 victory. Much like their win against Wichita State they trailed in the first half, but they came back in the last couple of minutes to take the lead.

Coach Rick Pitino made history by being the first coach to win two titles at different schools and a lot of the credit goes to Luke Hancock, who led Louisville with 22 points and made two clutch free throws with 29.8 seconds left to stretch the lead to 80-74. Kevin Ware, who suffered a horrifying compound fracture in the final four game was given the honor of cutting down the net and many believe his presence on the bench helped Louisville win the tournament. See the video below.

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