Because, these are my words, and I make them stick

Black Milk – Scum (Feat. Random Axe)

Posted on October 15, 2014

It’s a busy 4th quarter in Hip Hop, as many people have already claimed that this is one of the worst years for Hip Hop. I wouldn’t exactly say all that, but it was definitely a dreadful summer. The year started off with a bang, tapered off, and now it’s looking to end off on a high note going into 2015. Black Milk arguably dropped one of the bets albums in 2013 with No Poison No Paradise, and a year later, he’s looking to add to that greatness with If There’s A Hell Below. So far, he’s 3 for 3, with some great features from Bun B (Gold Piece), and re-connecting with Sean Price & Guilty Simpson to form Random Axe. Production should never be a question when it comes to Black, because he is really sound when it comes to that nature, and it’s evident here. The new album drops on October 28th, and I’ll be seeing him in concert a week prior, so that should be something. Enjoy.

Jay Rock – Parental Advisory

Posted on October 15, 2014

Do you know how long it’s been since Jay Rock dropped Follow Me Home? 3 Years. Do you know what he’s dropped since? Not a damn thing, except laying down wicked feature verses and a freestyle over Numbers on the Board. I’ve been itching for some new music from the Nickerson Gardens representative aka the beginning of TDE & Black Hippy as millions of people all know and love today. Top Dawg promised 6 albums from the label in 2014; 4 have dropped, and there are 2 left to go with as many months left in the year. Can it happen? Who knows, but this is a good start. The beat is definitely full of that West Coast appeal as he takes us back to the hood where the likes of ScHoolboy Q & YG left off with their albums of the same atmosphere surrounding them. Stay tuned for what comes next. Enjoy.

The Judge – The STiXXclusive Review

Posted on October 13, 2014

Estranged families are common in everyday life – we can’t choose our blood, it’s what we’re born into, and we have to live with that every day until we pass. ‘Dysfunction’ and ‘Family’ go hand-in-hand unless for God knows what reason, you happen to have the perfect one. I most certainly don’t, but we make it work, and where everyone may not get along, there’s always the common link of blood that will (more times than not) bring them together for a common cause. I’m not the greatest family member; between both sides of my family, I have an issue with conveying balance. Seeing both sides is a difficult task, and most of the time, I’m not really up for it, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care. When I’m focused on doing my own thing, I often stop to think about the neglect I may be putting towards my family. The worst thing (and often the most common) that happens to most families is that they go so long without constant communication, that it’s a tragedy that brings them together. There have been many books & movies based on this notion, but what happens when it escalates to another devastating life altering situation? The Judge is this movie.

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Robert Downey Jr. is famously known (well, for the newer generation) as Iron Man, but the only iron that he lays down is the iron of the law (that’s not even an expression, but whatever). As a controversial defense lawyer, you take a lot of heat, and when your life isn’t altogether, sometimes it takes a tragedy to take you out of your current surroundings and back to where it all started, as much as you wanted to get away from it. Robert Duvall; playing the respected Judge of a small town community – he’s the person who faces difficult challenges and decisions when it comes to punishing the wrongdoers, and having to live with that. There are things you get right, and things you get wrong, but it’s always about having instinct to make said decisions. Often times, decisions made within your own family work the same way in determining how a future relationship will shape up. The awkward and strenuous relationship between the Father-Son duo of Duvall & Downey Jr. would mimic a lot of relationships of everyday men that don’t have that connection to their old men or sons. I know that I definitely felt it, because my relationship with my Dad isn’t exactly held together by strong fibers.

 

 

This movie exercises a demonstration of rebuilding a connection not only with a loved one, but also with a community, in efforts to move forward with one’s life. There’s a lot of emotion because of so many contributing factors that play into the rebuilding which calls into morals, and that those on the side of law that are responsible for being fair, find themselves on the wrong side of the scale. The performances by Duvall & Downey Jr. are captivating and the sarcastic & witty charm that Downey is known for, is perfect for the role, because there’s a wide spectrum that he goes through emotionally. A good law movie is hard to come by, and with the Fourth Quarter of movies heating up a bit, it wouldn’t surprise me if some murmurs of awards fall his way. This is definitely a movie I would recommend watching, even if this isn’t necessarily a movie you’d voluntarily watch. It’s emotional, but overall enjoyable. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review

 

That’s My Word & It STiXX

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead – The STiXXclusive Review

Posted on October 10, 2014

October is going to be a serious month for music, which means that ears will be on full tilt in listening to everything and anything (okay, maybe not just anything), but one album that I’ve been looking forward to all year has been this one from Flying Lotus, and here’s why: if you haven’t heard of him before, he’s basically a lowkey mastermind when it comes to experimental production. Not experimental like EDM, but he taps into the groovy electric and blends it into the jazz & hip hop cross that make it unique besides other projects where you can tell (or not) that they were Hip Hop focused in a way as instrumentals as opposed to compositions. How he’s built his name has been collaborating with Hip Hop artists and having a distinct sound that’s grim and on the darker side of the musical spectrum. From working with Mac Miller to the more recently revealed Kendrick Lamar (who appears on this album), more people are gravitating towards his sound, which is distinct and tests an artist if they’re able to grasp it (J. Cole also did a FlyLo beat justice). Until The Quiet Comes, his previous album, was a project of Gold, and I didn’t have a lot of expectations for this current one, but it was truly because I wanted more music, that I was generally looking forward to it anyways.

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As the album started off with Theme, it doesn’t hit you as a straight up as something that’s just going to be strictly instrumentals. It sets off the album as something that’s going to be on the jazzier side, and because of the short lengths of the songs. Going into Tesla, the pace picks up and what’s even cooler (if you find the time to do so) was Flying Lotus was explaining the different ways in which he approached each song, having so many elements come together and the song is about half a minute (if that). Fkn Dead, I wish was longer because it sounded like it could be extended to a hot beat, but how it tailed off and went into Never Catch Me was wicked, so I appreciated it for that much.

 

There’s no shame in admitting that Kendrick Lamar is my favourite artist out currently, and maybe in a few years he’ll rise to be one of my favourites ever (it’s not that far off), but this song is yet another reason why I value the artistry that he brings to the table. He just seems to come up with something else to wow you even if you’ve thought you’ve heard all that you think you would have heard by now (and then he dropped ‘i’). The video brings a new life into the song, but the song itself is great on itself, not only because of the jazz ensemble, but because Kendrick’s approach mirrors the theme of the album and the intensity that builds from the start of his verse to the finish it’s such a cliffhanger, that it didn’t warrant anything else. How it switched up in the second half was dope as hell too. As stated before, if you’ve seen the video, it enhances the song more.

 

A lot of people may not know (or maybe you do, and I’m just assuming you don’t) that Flying Lotus’ rapper alter ego goes by the name of Captain Murphy (go listen to Duality), and he is slated to drop an album through said name. His rapper persona makes an appearance on Dead Man’s Tetris along with Snoop Dogg, which I thought was a bit of a surprise, because you wouldn’t think Snoop would be able to accommodate such a different style to his own. I think he did alright on it. I mean it’s good to see that he’s rapping and not pretending to be a Rastafarian, because that was just utterly tragic and offensive. Had he been left off it, that would have been fine too. I love this beat, and Tetris is one of the greatest games to come into existence, and if this beat was the one that played throughout, I think more Gameboys would be sold. Someone needs to get on that.

 

Turkey Dog Coma just adds to the name titles that are random but hilarious. But I remember a producer (Jonathan Lowell, I believe) saying that songs should be named after the beat from the producer, and some of them just happen to be random like this and have nothing to do with the song. I think that’s wicked. I can see what he was saying, but I honestly thought that this song was split in 2, because something different came about, but it still produced an up-tempo flavor that I could rock with. I mean, I was listening to this around my mom and she even asked me what it was, because she was enjoying it that much.

 

I like the story behind Stirring, because as FlyLo was live-tweeting through the album, it was dedicated to a former high school friend who passed away, and I thought that this was a nice tribute, being that it was pretty much acoustic and serene; a step away from the crash and bang of what was produced thus far on the album. It was a good moment, and then when it shifted into Coronus, The Terminator, that’s where my face started to scrunch because it’s a really dope beat (that Mac Miller originally wanted to use – marinate on that). Until he said that it was him singing on the track, I would have never guessed it, but it’s definitely a track that sounded close to something I would have heard on Until The Quiet Comes, and I was not mad about it. Besides Never Catch Me, it’s one of my favourite songs on the album. What I like a lot about how the album was designed is the flow of it from song to song. There’s never a real drop off in vibe, and although it’d be nice to have the songs stretch out for a while longer, it’s good enough to hold your attention as it moves from one to the other. That’s what good music feels like.

 

FlyLo streamed the album with an accompanying film, 24 hours before the release of the album, and the visuals really brought out the depth and meaning in the songs, because besides a couple of stand outs, you take in the album as a whole – it’s more so an experience like how 1960s Rock music or even early 90s Hip Hop draw so the same verbal praise of them being ‘experiences’ rather than just listening to an album. I find it crazy to know that Turtles almost didn’t make the album, and it sounds so good. That’s wild to me, but not as wild to not have Chance the Rapper’s verse for Ready Err Not or a 2nd Kendrick verse for Eyes Above to not be on the album (much disappointment like the FlyLo x SBQ collaborations that won’t happen). Elijah Loyd (pretty dope producer, by the way) posted the preview on Soundcloud and I was certain it was going to be on the album, but nope. Perhaps it’ll show up on Kendrick’s new one, which would be crazy.

 

If you’re not aware of who Thundercat is, he’s part of the Brainfeeder (FlyLo’s label) family and he’s a wizard on bass guitar. If you listen to the first portion of ScHoolboy Q’s Hoover Street, the latter half of Kendrick’s i (the first examples to come to mind), you’ll hear his signature mark of the strumming of strings. He’s also has a dope album out (Apocalypse) that is worth listening to. He’s all over this album, and even FlyLo said that this wouldn’t even be an album had Thunder not contributed to it in some way & fashion. I’m glad that he was involved, and as the album comes toward the end, it gradually gets darker in tone, almost evil, but could possibly be the effects of a bad drug trip in the making. It starts with Descent Into Madness and carries forward with Captain Murphy returning in a drugged out serenade of his wanting of pills on The Boys Who Died In Their Sleep. If Obligatory Cadence wasn’t a beat meant for anyone, I’m pretty sure there will be tracks on Soundcloud of people rapping over it. Shit, give me a microphone, I’ll go into the booth right now and spit flames (I’m lying). This is also something I could hear Mac Miller using, had it not been on the album already. The female vocals used on the album were dope because they didn’t have to do much, but through the eerie atmosphere of the album, the adlibs to blend in with the layers just made the songs feel complete, Your Potential/The Beyond is an example of that.

 

I loved how the album ended off on a good note with The Protest. Dope ass beat, and the meaning behind it that symbolizes our souls living on forever past our physical forms was neat as well, which I’m glad alluded to the overall theme. It’s a well-put together album that has definite replay value. It’s alternative because it doesn’t sound like strictly Hip Hop for the whole thing, but it’s a creative blend of musical flavor like mixing different flavours for a Slushie at 7-11 to create Swamp Water – except the music won’t give you a killer cavity. For something different in your every day listening, there’s definitely room for FlyLo, because his music makes you ride high. You’re Dead is some of his finest work thus war because as a collective project, there’s a consistent theme that was easy to follow, and the accompanying visual content (if you had the chance to check some) also make it what it is – a complete package, so definitely check it out when you get the chance to do so. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review

 

That’s My Word & It STiXX

The Equalizer – The STiXXclusive Review

Posted on October 5, 2014

            It’s kind of hard to dismiss Denzel Washington movies, because he’s essentially a hero for multiple generations of fans. We’ve seen him play multiple roles and are still wondering how he doesn’t have as many accolades as he should (yes, I’m still confused why he didn’t win for Malcolm X). This movie came out pretty randomly and I didn’t know a lot about it except for the fact that he was going around cleaning up messes like the good guy in old western movies. There wasn’t a lot of backstory behind it, but that’s why we watch movies, folks.

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            What this movie reminded me of was a mix of The Punisher & Man on Fire, because Denzel takes on that bodyguard role for a vulnerable young girl with mob ties around it to add that extra kick. You see him in a different light as well when it comes to the action that rivals Transporter and mix in the military influence that is the CIA (Bourne-ish?). There wasn’t a lot to focus on, because Denzel appears as a simple man trying to lead a simple life, but he still has his ear to the street in terms of who needs the help. The story turns from a simple act to having the influence of an influential mafia getting involved in a mini-war, in which Denzel plays the one-man army.

            From an entertainment standpoint, you get your money’s worth. Denzel doesn’t often disappoint (you can make your case for 2 Guns) and it surely doesn’t here. The storyline is pretty straight forward, and the complaints I saw were that it didn’t do enough to explain. I can ‘see’ what they were referring to because it moved slowly, but as things moved along, details were explained so it made sense as it progressed (I mean, it is a 2.5 hour long movie). If you need a good action movie to completely end summer (if it hasn’t been over already), then this is the one for you. But, this is my opinion, this is my review

 

That’s My Word & It STiXX

Gone Girl – The STiXXclusive Review

Posted on October 3, 2014

I find that I’ve been reading novels a lot more because of the realities of the news that have just been so depressing that the imagination and imagery of literature has taken me away from it, even if it’s temporary. Gone Girl was one of those books that I was whisked away into a dark and tormented tale of a crazy ass couple (that’s the only politically correct way to put it) that was full of more twists and turns than a rollercoaster at Wonderland or Six Flags. This was a book that I was excited to read from start to finish, and I didn’t want to put it down. I haven’t been that excited to read a book since Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and that movie turned out pretty damn good itself. When it comes to movies that are made from books (which seems to be about 90% of them), there’s always the skepticism that it won’t hold up to the standards of the pages and embrace that imagination and creativity. Well, if Harry Potter was the standard that many are forced to match in terms of ultimate book-to-movie success, people are paying attention. If you haven’t read the book, do that. Like, immediately, but this isn’t about the book, it’s about the movie.

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Marriage is something that a lot of people have a perception of being, and when it actually hits them, a lot of it changes (“that ring changes everything, man!”) and it can grow people together or push them away drastically far apart. Domestic abuse, the struggling economy, sex, infidelity, and doses upon doses of crazy were all evident in this movie, and I’m pretty sure there’s evidence of it in daily life – but not to the extreme that was presented. Nick Dunne & Amy Elliott Dunne look like the couple that everyone would want to be. They’re young, funny, ambitious, creative, and they just looked like that ‘America’s Sweetheart’ duo that people have fantasized about in TV shows over the years (Ross & Rachel, Cory & Topanga, Kim Possible & Ron Stoppable – whatever). But what people seem is nice on the outside is not always happy on the inside, which is very much the case since celebrities all over the place are marrying and divorcing every so often – not to look at celebs as role models, but simply examples. I know that ‘crazy’ is a derogatory term in many people’s eyes, but Amy Elliott Dunne is one crazy mama jama in more ways than one. Nick Dunne was the witty & naïve husband who did what wife said, and grew resentment for her controlling ways – usually the tightening of the wires get to the point of snapping, and then we have murder. Or so we think.

 

I won’t spoil anything, because that’s not my style, but what I loved about this movie besides the casting (including a surprisingly entertaining and normal Tyler Perry), plot, and storyline – it remained consistent with the book, and certain things from the book were switched around to accommodate to more realistic and present times (social media being the biggest one). The movie is entertaining (although I don’t recommend watching sex scenes with parents – there’s a bunch), and it’s raw about the realities of what goes on in regular households, although these people are pretty damn irregular. With a cast of this variety that would have (to most) sent more optimism into skepticism, it turned out really well, and I must say that it left me with the same ‘wtf face’ as the book did, and it was entertainingly exhilarating. I can understand why it was so hyped, and because of the success of the book, people may view it as ‘overhyped’, but believe me when I say that you don’t need to be Public Enemy. Believe the hype, because it’s real. If you haven’t read the book, the movie will tell you what you need to know, but I’d still recommend you do so. This is my opinion, this is my review

 

That’s My Word & It STiXX

Gary Clark Jr. Live [Album]

Posted on September 29, 2014

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Since I witnessed him perform at the inaugural Made In America Festival, in Philadelphia (2012), I’ve been a fan of Gary Clark Jr. ever since. Having had comparisons to some of the best to do it, and he’s really just breaking out now, it’s crazy. His music’s been featured in TV shows & movie trailers, he’s worked with artists likw The-Dream & Big K.R.I.T that will appeal to the non rock (and/or) roll listeners, he’s played at the Kennedy Center Honors, and even for the President of the United States. I’d say that’s a big deal, but what do I know. The man is a bad man on guitar, and if Blak & Blu isn’t evidence of that enough, then perhaps the live version of some of his work will be even more thoroughly impressive. The next time he comes up to Toronto, I have to make sure I get a chance to witness the show. I’m all for it. Definitely enjoy.

iTunes Link

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