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:

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