Friday, December 10, 2010

Curren$y - Pilot Talk II (Album Review)

While the roach was still burning from Pilot Talk, Curren$y dropped Pilot Talk II four short months later on November 22nd.  One of the most refreshing and creative emcees in hip hop, Curren$y has also proved to be one of the hardest working; churning out music at a sickening volume with 10 mixtapes and 4 albums released since 2008.

From a conventional perspective, Curren$y’s creativity is paradoxical.  Every song is essentially about the same thing; potent weed, cuckoldry, and his affinity for jets and muscle cars.  However, his smooth, stream of conscience flow is so crafty that the limited subject matter never loses its novelty.  Referring to cops as “Carl Winslows” and dope songs as “crack lacerations” is what makes Curren$y truly unique.

It takes a very astute ear to catch of all of Curren$y’s punchlines as they are not thrown in your face, but rather insinuated through his effortlessly calm southern drawl.  Rhymes like “scribblin’ fire on the street car named desire” pays homage to both the classic film A Street Car Named Desire starring Marlon Brando and New Orleans; the setting of the film as well as Curren$y’s hometown. 

And at the risk of condescension, I will say that only a true rap aficionado can fully appreciate Curren$y.  On one of my favorite tracks on the album, “Fashionably Late,” he starts his verse with “New Orleans, the narcotics draped in metal and fiber optics/ ‘cause dog bitches attracted to shiny objects/but I guess y’all can kick it/Phife Dog, Q-Tip it/we all Souls of Mischief.”    The first line being a sampled rhyme from the Black Star classic, “Respiration,” which is also the same song that's playing at the beginning of the “King Kong” music video ( the first single off Pilot Talk).  The second being a pun on Phife Dog and Q-Tip’s (collectively known as A Tribe Called Quest) song, “Can I Kick It?”  And finally a tribute to underground Oakland hip hop group, Souls of Mischief.  Consistent with his goal to deliver quality hip-hop, Curren$y is always honoring the legends of the genre. 

In the original Pilot Talk, Curren$y worked almost exclusively with New York veteran Ski Beatz behind the boards and this time is no different.  To avoid sample clearance issues, Ski employed his band, “The Senseis” to simply rework the samples and tailor it to his vision.  The end result is 12 tracks of beautifully rendered live instrumentation that leaves one with lingering daze of an easy afternoon.  Chill nirvana.  The sounds are more aqueous; smoother and funkier than PT1 which fits Curren$y perfectly.  

A few features were left out (most notably, Erykah Badu and Jay Electronica) in order for the album to meet its release date, but even still Pilot Talk II will be one of the best projects of this year.  Early on Curren$y vows to “kill these beats humane fashion, painless,” to which he gets a resounding round of applause.  Mission accomplished.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Album Review)

If you locked John Nash in a recording studio with an MPC drum machine, a symphony ensemble, and 5 milligrams of epinephrine, you would get Kanye’s latest and greatest offering- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. 

One thing that Nash and West have in common is an almost crippling perspicacity.  Just as Nash would see the world in fragmented geometric equations, West has an ability to imagine and successfully construct such bold, far-reaching records that it almost defies logic.  And in many ways this album does unequivocally exclaim a resounding, “F%$K YOU” to convention and precept.  A daring triumph that encompasses several genres and over a half-century of inspiration, MBDTF is Mr. West’s Moby Dick; his masterpiece.

To describe the enormity of the sounds and melodies, I hesitate to use the word "epic" (our generation's most bastardized term) but there really is no better adjective.  Whether it's the incredible 2-minute breakdown in between verses on "Devil In a New Dress" or the violin-piano duet before "All of the Lights," every cut on this album is larger than life.  

Behind the boards, West swiftly departs from the soulful, throwback sounds of The College Dropout and instead utilizes more dark, refined electric accents; a unifying sound that allows him to address multiple themes.  This is West's, dare I say, genius.  His ability to connect ostensibly different sounds (the funky 70's guitar riff in "Gorgeous" vs. the gritty synth on "Hell of a Life") and produce a cohesive, thematic production.  These sounds paired together would look absurd on paper, but it absolutely works on wax.  

Lyrically, the album is almost as multi-faceted as the production.  For every "can I talk my shit again?" punchline (Lamborghinis, high fashion, Learjets), West delivers many more conscious, thoughtful bars that remind us that the New York Times does, indeed, deliver to Mt. Olympus.  "Lost In the World" samples the rap Godfather himself, Gil Scott Heron (see: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised) whose influential catalog has clearly inspired Kanye's socially critical rhymes in "Gorgeous":
Face it, Jerome get more time than Brandon / And at the airport, they check all through my bag and tell me it’s random... This the real world, homie, school finished / They done stole your dreams, you don’t know who did it / I treat the cash like the government treats AIDS, I won’t be satisfied till all my niggas get it, get it?
Other subjects range from marrying a porn star, quantifying his greatness, and of course acknowledging his mistakes- as there have been many over his last decade under the limelight.  Overall, reminding us that perhaps the biggest star and one most creative people on the planet is, at the end of the day, human-- a truth that we can all identify with.   

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Friday, September 17, 2010

For those of you who still give a shit...

Allow me to confirm what you've probably already assumed... Your Favorite Blog is no more.  That is, unless Andrew North or Davey P decide to carry the torch, which is about as likely as that mosque being successfully built at Ground Zero.

Too soon?  Sorry.  Anyway, Jerk Magazine, a student-run magazine on campus, has called upon me to share my words and wisdom on their online blog.  This was an opportunity I couldn't refuse.  I can include this on my resume and still write in the same sarcastic, incendiary prose that has become my writing style.  You can bookmark the hyperlink above to stay updated on my writing for Jerk (my first article should be up sometime this weekend).

Thanks to everyone who read and supported Your Favorite Blog, and you're welcome for my two cents.  Keep the change, you filthy animals.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Raytheon's Ship-Mounted Laser Weapon Incinerates a UAV in Flight (Video)

Raytheon revealed its next-gen directed energy weapon at the Farnborough Air Show today.  The video shows its Laser Weapons System (LaWS) -- a six-laser weapon that focuses on a single target -- engaging and then ROASTING an unmanned aerial vehicle from the deck of a Navy vessel at sea.

There are couple reason why this new weapon is awesome:

1) It's a solid-state laser, rather than a chemical laser, so it's not as hazardous to handle and it requires less energy to use.

2) It's smaller, which makes it more feasible to pack onto a naval vessel.

3) Raytheon demonstrated that a laser integrated into the Navy's Phalanx anti-missile defense system (a weapons system already mounted on many naval vessels ) can hit a moving target from the deck of a ship, which itself is moving and rolling along with the ocean.

Check out the destruction...


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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Watch the Apollo 11 Landing With New Audio and Multiple Cameras

41 years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon.  Millions watched the grainy video and listened to the noisy sound from space.  Now, Stephen Slater and Footagevault have joined multiple camera feeds with restored audio:

The result is a new view of the amazing events that took place on July 20, 1969, and a perfect excuse to watch it again.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

This Week in Review-- College Cocktails Vol. 3 (The Skidmore Bonus)

In addition to the thrill of acting like a hooligan and a suicide-inducing hangover, my recent excursion to Skidmore College also produced the most deadly College Cocktail to date.  More vile even than the Willie Horton

COLLEGE COCKTAIL -- Bundy Beer (Beer + 1-2 shots of Ethanol)

Bundy Beer will murder and defile your esophagus like it was Caryn Campbell in 1975 (Bundy's 14th victim).  Your gag reflex will try to halt Bundy Beer's descent into your stomach but, just like the cunning and ruthless serial killer it is named after, Bundy Beer will prevail.  As the putrid taste of grain alcohol mixed poorly with cheap beer lingers in your mouth, Bundy Beer is busy overtaxing your liver and eroding your stomach lining.  It shows no mercy.  Drink Bundy Beer if it's your wish to seriously harm yourself.  Or right before a Justin Bieber concert.  Whichever.

Rating: Full Gnar

BACKSTORY:  Bundy Beer was actually consumed by myself and Johan Von Reves (if you're cool, you know who this is) this past weekend at Skidmore.  Johan's house mate went to the World Cup this summer and brought back a vuvuzela, which was impromtu converted into a drinking funnel on Saturday night. 

We still had a little bit of Everclear left over from last night's festivities so Johan dared me to pour two shots in my full cup of Keystone and funnel it through the vuvuzela.  Of course I abided, much to the dismay of my kidneys and liver.

In admiration of my own shameless feat, I triumphantly bellowed out of the vuvuzela and handed it to Johan.  He followed in kind only to vomit everything in his stomach as soon as he removed the horn from his lips.  Everyone cheered.

The description I typed up above is not an exaggeration at all.  For lack of a better metaphor, Bundy Beer tastes like a bile-flavored wine cooler.  If nothing else, Bundy Beer represents the unrepentant bad behavior that is induced by the mythical atmosphere of Skidmore College.  I blame the institution.

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Sunday, July 4, 2010

Mel Gibson strikes again

In addition to being a talented actor and director, Mel Gibson is also a horrible, horrible person.  This is not news (the entirety of his 2006 anti-Semitic tirade was captured on audiotape by the L.A. County Sheriff Department), but the public has a sort of chronic amnesia when it comes to celebrity faux pas.  Case in point, Charlie Sheen is still the highest paid actor on network television.

Anyway, Mel's girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, has secretly recorded 30-minutes of his abhorrent ranting.  Here are some of the highlights:

"You’re an embarrassment to me.  You look like a fucking pig in heat, and if you get raped by a pack of niggers, it will be your fault."

"How dare you act like such a bitch when I have been so fucking nice."

...and the highlight...

"I am going to come and burn the fucking house down… but you will blow me first."

Is doesn't really get any better/worse than that.  Now everyone say goodbye to Mel Gibson.

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