Entertainment news and musings from a pop culture geek

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Watch the Throne Tour: Illest Motherfuckers Alive

The show starts with that trippy, recurring interlude music from the album. Has anyone even figured out where that's from yet? The Sting? Some trippy, classical French ish? No one knows, but it's provocative. And it's an awesomely obvious, obviously awesome way to get a super fan like me hyped after waiting ninety minutes for The Throne to take stage. Oh, and the rest of the thousands of fans that herded into the East Rutherford IZOD center.

Under cover of darkness, both members of rap's most high profile supergroup appear seemingly out of thin air. But they're not together. Mr. West is on the stage all by himself. It takes the crowd .07 seconds to realize King Hov is on the mid-arena platform that we'd all been staring curiously at during the waiting time. "Oh shit yo, they're gonna perform the whole show on separate stages! They really do have beef now!" No, simple Page Six reader, they don't. Two songs and one "Otis" performance later they were right next to each other, comfortably rapping their hearts out in front of the now signature Givenchy-ied out flag. But those separate platforms though? Best gimmick of the night. As soon as the interlude music cut, the intro to "HAM" started up and during Jay's verse...those shits rose. As in elevated each dude about forty feet in the fucking air. You are now watching the thrones. Literally. And if that wasn't enough, the cubes were fitted with screens on all four sides playing accompanying images. Watching the Greatest Rapper of All Time and one of the Best Rappers Alive volleying bars, over and across the crowd, over titanic beats like "HAM" and "Who Gon Stop Me," while 2D great white sharks swim underneath them: easily the most theatrical, enjoyable part of the whole 2 1/2 hour show.

From then on it was stadium-ready hit after hit after hit, new classic and old. With absolutely no intermissions, Jay and Ye effortlessly bobbed and weaved through past and present jams - sometimes sharing the stage, other times ceding the show to the other for a mini solo-set - with Reasonable Doubt,  Blueprint 2, Kingdom Come and American Gangster the only projects not represented. (The least energetic moment was probably when Kanye briefly went into the 808s vault with "Heartless" though.) Of Throne's 12 tracks, the only songs left out were "Made in America" and "Murder to Excellence" although apparently these are sometimes included on random nights. "HAM" was the only deluxe edition track performed.

The show, like the album, was a perfect blend of both artists different styles. The lights that Kanye presented back in "Glow in the Dark" paled in comparison to the epilepsy-inducing laser show that was on display here. Meanwhile Jay continues to fuck with the video screen with correlating images per song, although it sometimes got a little corny. Watching lions ferociously devour deer during "Welcome to the Jungle" was acceptable. "National Geographic-esque close-ups of a soaring eagle during "Touch the Sky" were not. By the way, I know a lot of you have pegged "Jungle" as your least favorite track. Well, that shit banged on the arena speakers and was the fourth or fifth song in the setlist. I suggest revisiting it with your best sound system and a tab opened to rapgenius.com.

The showmanship wasn't only evident in the physical effects though. The raw, personal songs like "Hard Knock Life" and "New Day" were rapped side-by-side sitting down, as if the stage were a Brooklyn stoop. For the privately personal, subliminal but you-know-who-you-are "Why I Love You" the duo retreated from the foreground, Jay's blacked out Don C snapback brim down over his eyes. "What a Wonderful World" played ironically against a slideshow depicting poverty, decay, and crime. (Curiously this segued into "No Church in the Wild" instead of the assumed "Murder to Excellence.") And of course, Martin Louis the Fashionisto changed three times, each shirt trendily flowing down to his kneecaps, including the infamous Givenchy shirt as kilt that he probably wears on laundry day. And towards the end, the setlist hilariously, intentionally segued from "Big Pimpin" to "Gold Digger" to "99 Problems." Get it?

So who murdered who? As with most Jay facts that I state, it will probably be written off as Stan bias when I say he has the better stage presence. Kanye was far from terrible and for the most part kept up with Big Bro's energetic standard. But Jigga's come a long way since that travesty of a Showtime concert that had him Beans, Freeway and Dame laboring around the stage like a bunch of fat cats. He can rouse a crowd in his sleep, and he's got a litany of hits to make, and keep, an audience on their feet and losing their voice. Proof: when "Big Pimpin" dropped the water guy said fuck all and diddy bopped his heart out in the aisle. Truth. Plus dropping the beat and flowing acappella live to "Nigga What, Nigga Who" (and now his show-stopping "Who Gon Stop Me" closer) will always be cooler than Kanye's autotune warbling about Amber and love. Sorry.

This was probably one of few concerts where I never even considered sitting down once. Two and a half hours sounds like a long ass time to be standing but I never looked at my watch or yawned. Shit was like the live tour version of The Dark Knight. Funniest part is, they even missed some songs. A shit  load in fact. I don't know about you, but after the epic three-time but not one time too many encore of "Niggas in Paris" I could've stayed to watch them tear through "Primetime," "IMA," "So Appalled," "Hate," "The Bounce" for sentimentality's sake (their first collaboration) and "Never Let Me Down" (one of their most powerful collaborations). Was it better than Fade to Black, which I was fortunate to have attended? No, and not because my seats were closer for that show. But if there was ever vindication that Jay has the illest catalog out, that Ye is gunning for Top 5 status and that the album itself is a damn near if not classic, this was it.

Watch the Throne tour. Exactly what the fuck you'd think.

Friday, September 30, 2011

In Defense of "Ghetto Techno"

There's a story floating around that places Jay-Z, Kanye West, No I.D., Timbaland, and Don Cannon* in the studio. The year is 2009 and they are debating arguing how Jay should unroll the Blueprint 3 machine. Timbaland, typically [post 2007], is in favor of the Jigga man putting out a poppy, radio-friendly Z-100, tween suburban-girl ready song to hook the masses. One can only imagine Kanye, the living embodiment of one of Hov's most reliable creative inspirations, calling this the dumbest fucking idea possible. During it all No I.D. is in the corner, silently and humbly working on a beat, which Ye instructs him to play. It is hard hitting and sounds decidedly nothing like what the radio currently has to offer. Kanye outlines that a song over this beat should be against everything that's wack in hip-hop right now. And we all know how the story finishes: Jay takes the beat home, comes in the next day with what is now known as "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-tune)," shocking even Kanye with his denouncements. "That's too far nigga!"**

*Random I know, but come to think of it Hov on a Don Cannon beat could be gold. See: "Go Crazy"*

**Kanye's response to the second verse line "you niggas' jeans too tight/your colors too bright, your voice too light" over the intercom while Jay was laying the verse was hilariously kept in as an ad-lib.**

Later, during the suspicious flurry of Timbaland-only BP3 leaks, one song that got a lot of [negative] attention was the leftover "Ghetto Techno." The track was panned on the internet by Hov haters and Stans alike, as pop-pandering bullshit and an example of why the game needed to put Timbaland on sabbatical, including yours truly Mr. Rex. I recount the story above to say this: "Ghetto Techno" was without a doubt the song Timbaland was pushing Jay to use as his first single. And you know what? It's actually not as demonic as you thought it was on first listen. When I first heard "Techno" I despised it. These days the song has taken up permanent residence in my sprawling Recently Played playlist.

Don't get me wrong, I don't wish the song was the first single--I'm not even sure I ever want to see it grace an official tracklist. The first single from a returning artist (Hov was 18 months removed from his last album around the time) should be reassuring, not a complete departure from one's signature sound. The legion of Hov haters and Illuminati conspiracy theorists would've pounced on it mercilessly and the hype for BP3 would have been nil. But as a simple, insignificant throwaway? The track is fun as hell. You can't tell me that you wouldn't sing along without a care if it were Pitbull cleverly instructing you to "survive more shots than Pac had" on the hook instead of Jigga. The beat bangs. And my God is the patented Jay-Z wordplay intact. "...in the club getting bucket after bucket like Kobe," but the real highlight is @S_C_'s genius Twitter flip:

Honey's white but she dance black
had to ask the lil broad how she dance like that
But me? I'm doing me just goin hard
got a table full-a Ace like a deck of cards
fiends roll the green up
we got 1 Oak lookin like a lil Wilhelmina
but I ain't doing nothing that can get back
cuz I know half the club wanna twitter that
Tweet tweet--I smell a bird--and a rat

"Ghetto Techno" isn't what we want to hear from Jay-Z. But it's quite far from his worst song. See for yourself:

Tell me how much a Stan I am in the comments:

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Week in DMX

Your man DMX is a free man (for now) and he of erratic exclamations and random dog barks is ready to entertain again. Fresh out of the pen for a couple months now, Earl has been keeping busy the past few weeks as we head into the final quarter of the year. Whether catching up on the zeitgeist, braving social media, or releasing new music, the Dark Man X has been, to say the least, quite hilarious these past few days:

DMX learns about Lil B
Saving the best for first. On some real shit I must have watched this near ten times already, and each time has resulted in tears. I won't spoil for you, just sit back and enjoy. Needless to say, Earl is not based, but need I remind you this is the same man who said "suck my dick/and all you niggas that been to jail before know, it's about to get thick."

DMX joins Twitter
We could put this up for debate, but it'd be pointless: DMX has delivered the best (celebrity, rapper, what have you) Twitter name ever with the ingenious handle "DizarkMizanIzex." Don't waste one more second not following dude. He is either going to never use it OR take aim for the most hilarious tweets in the rap game. Pray for the latter.

The Last Hope

If this is "The Last Hope" then be afraid. Jacking Drake beats from '07 is what's hot in the streets these days X? Is the gospel album still on tap? Really though, after all the known drug usage the barks and yells aren't so cool anymore. Between this and the Based God video dude looks like he's either back on the bad stuff or fiending HARD. Someone pry Swizz Beatz away from Alicia and lock him and X in the studio together. He's the only real hope DMX has of ever reclaiming his glory days. The real question is...can X's bark come back and steal the thunder from Ross's grunt? Discuss.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Watcher: Sons of Anarchy

There are a handful of new shows worth checking out this coming season, but fall TV is all about returning favorites. The one I'm checking for the most, without a doubt? The season four premiere of Sons of Anarchy. If you're not up on this show now is the time to get familiar with seasons 1-3 on DVD, trust, you'll get through them quickly. The show in one sentence: Hamlet on Harley's, with a lot of introspection and heart amidst tons of bullets and disturbing violence that you can't tear your eyes away from no matter how much you'd like to. For those who've been waiting impatiently along with me since season three bowed last November, you'll remember Anarchy ended (minor spoilers) with the Sons getting ready for a skid bid after settling some family business. When we return, 14 months will have passed and Charming has changed into a town with little patience for the gang's usual ways of running things. A new, no-nonsense sheriff, Clay's determination to go out with as much money as possible, and old family secrets coming to light are sure to make for an explosive season. Can't wait.

Sons of Anarchy's fourth season premieres with a special 90 minute episode, Tuesday Sept. 6.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The 10 New Shows to Check For In the 2011-2012 TV Season

You're already hyped for your favorite show to return, but it may also be time to inject a little new blood into the DVR/Hulu queue/torrent tracker. Here are the ten most promising shows of the new TV season:

10. Ringer (CW) - Is there a reason CBS passed on this pilot? Or do they just not know a good show when it comes on their desk? Seeing as how infamous bad-show bait network the CW picked it up one might think it was the former, but if you've read: this then you know the Connoisseuraus isn't oblivious to the fact that the CW actually has one or two real gems. This could be another. Either way the lead is former star of one of the Top 20 Shows of All-Time, so I was always in.
Premise: Sarah Michelle Gellar, of vampire slaying and C-list horror movie fame, plays twins, one with a shitty life who is in danger of getting whacked after wet snitching some mobster tpyes. Naturally, the other sister is filthy rich, and when she disappears, Sister 1 takes over her life because conveniently Sister 2 kept her embarrassment twin a secret from everyone in her life. And of course, Sister 2 has her own secrets and danger...
Sounds Good But: That's a lot of suspension of disbelief. And how many seasons is this expected to last, exactly? Cause right now it sounds like...half of one.
Premieres: Sept 13

9. Charlie's Angels (ABC) - I love TV remakes, even though they end up not loving me (when was the last good one?). I love to turn my mind off and watch these movies whenever they're always on HBO. I love plots that involve hot women kicking ass. I love Minka Kelly.
Premise: I don't really have to write that out, do I?
Sounds Good But: Like I said, TV remakes never do well, recently spy shows have been just as shitty. Plus, Fake Vincent Chase Ramon Rodriguez as Bosley? I fucking hate that guy! Minka and the other two weren't sexy enough, they had to make Bosley young and attractive for...what? Female viewers?! Pfft, strike #1.
Premieres: Sept 22, 35th anniversary of the original

8. Person of Interest (CBS) - It stars Benjamin Linus Michael Emerson. It's a J.J. Abrams vehicle. The creative team also boasts one Jonathan Nolan...yea, that's the guy with the famous director brother, who co-scripted that movie called The Dark Knight. I was always in.
Premise: A billionaire develops a software that can predict crimes or victims, and hires an ex-CIA guy with a shady past to help him prevent crime in the Rotten Apple. Said guy played by Jim Caviziel, whom you might remember played Jesus a few years back. So it's like Charlie's Angels, but without anyone attractive. (Taraji P. Henson's name is attached, but as you can see she's absent from the footage so far.)
Sounds Good But: Is this going to feel more J.J-ey or more CBS-ey? I'm worried about the latter, seeing as how I've not-hated only one, maybe two shows on that network in all my years. It could just be a generic CBS-brand procedural with a J.J.-Nolan spin that barely registers. And the plot could be unbearably hokey as well: predicting crimes but it's not sci-fi? And he keeps this to himself why? Because he watched Minority Report?
Premieres: Sept 22

7. Life's Too Short (HBO) - Name a movie that requires some kind of dwarf, elf, goblin or simply a midget and you can bet the awesome Warwick Davis stepped in to play it (he played not one but two major roles in the Harry Potter franchise). With that hustle on lock (I guess Verne Troyer is content with that Mini-Me money) he's now looking to play a fictionalized version of himself on cable and he went to Ricky Gervais, someone that knows a thing or two about Hollywood satire. So basically, Curb with dwarfism instead of baldness? Sounds great.

Premise: Hollywood behind-the-scenes drama from the perspective of showbiz dwarfism. TV Warwick will have bills on bills on bills thanks to a nasty divorce, and no morality in his movements as he tries to get back in the Hollywood winner's circle.
Sounds Good But: I guess there's always the chance that it comes off like a bland, uninteresing inside joke like many shows of this genre can at times, but really there's too little information to call it yet. Plus, it's HBO, which after Game of Thrones has officially reached the give-anything-they-air-a-chance level. I will say that if you're the rare, unfortunate HBO viewer that's miffed by all the Curb hype, you probably won't like this either.
Premieres: 2012

6. Hell on Wheeles (AMC) - The AMC Law of Averages. One show I stayed away from because I could smell the imminent cancellation, even though it got good reviews and had a little cult following [Rubicon]. One show started strong, ended horribly, with a creator that sounds like a delusional, arrogant asshole, which they went on to...renew [The Killing]? And two contenders for Top 10 or 20 Best TV Shows of all-time in Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Either way, if you're a TV connoisseur, you have to at least watch the pilot. Or...stay away if you smell imminent cancellation.

Premise: At the beginning of the Reconstruction era, an ex-Confederate tracks the Union soldiers who murdered his wife to a railroad construction town. For added flavor there's a plot line involving Cheyenne tribes out to derail the construction.
Sounds Good But: There are like, thirty-seven Western-ish shows in development right now. Will this one be the standout or AMC's second loss? But a series where the Confederate's the protagonist and Union boys are the bad guys? Whoa.
Premieres: Nov 6

5. The River (ABC) - It's actually surprising it took recent horror movie favorite Oren Peli, of Paranormal Activity fame this long to look to TV for his next windfall. Hopefully this is not as low-key as his film franchise; the movies are cool (2 took way too long to get going) but the jungle is the place for scares wilder than spooky bumps and ouija boards.

Premise: The host of a wildlife TV show goes missing in the Amazon; six months later his wife and son get a mysterious beacon that implies he may be alive, prompting them to assemble a documentary crew and embark on a rescue mission. (Why they're interested in exploiting dude's rescue for television is anyone's guess.)
Sounds Good But: The reason why there hasn't been any good horor shows for awhile? Most of 'em suck. Also, I really hope this is not shot like the Paranormal movies, that's tiring for a series.
Premieres: Mid-season

4. American Horror Story (FX) - Not much is known about this show except that Ryan Murhpy is behind it. Ryan Murphy, in case you didn't know, is the TV auteur behind Nip/Tuck and Glee, two shows that I couldn't possibly care any less for. But the title is awesome and it's on my favorite network, and as aforementioned horror is an untapped well on TV these days.
Premise: So there's a creepy house, and a couple moves into it, and um, scary shit happens. Hey at least the title wasn't a play-on-words for a satire about like, the mundane-ness of suburbia or something. That would've sucked.
Sounds Good But: As I said, he created Nip/Tuck and Glee, two shows that are too much for me, for different reasons.
Premieres: Oct 5

3. Terra Nova (FOX) - You know that big-budget summer blockbuster, that has a lot of cool big names attached, promises eye-popping special effects and spectacle, yet for some reason doesn't meet the sum of its parts and ends up as one big multi-million dollar joyless shit show? Yea, that's what this could end up being.

Premise: In the year 2149 overpopulation and diminishing air quality is signaling the end of days for planet Earth, so scientists develop a time travel device to take settlers back to prehistoric times to save the human race. I can name at least ten different reasons why that's a bad idea but, OK sure. So it's like any other drama (the lead is a cop), just with dinosaurs in the background.
Sounds Good But: In addition to what I said above, the behind-the-scenes goings on of this show are rife with delays, budget problems, and a whole lotta script doctoring. Three bad signs.
Premieres: Sept 26 

2. Alcatraz (FOX) - Everybody fucks up, even someone with a pedigree like J.J. Abrams. So yea, Undercovers was so boring and bland that it's failure isn't even worthy of the word fiasco. So what? The best super-producers just dust it off, and come back next year bigger and better. While Person of Interest reeks of stale CBS product sprayed with J.J. scented cologne to cover it up, this right here seems like the grade-A Bad Robot product we've come to know, love, and expect. 

Premise: Fifty years ago, 302 wardens and prisoners on Alcatraz island mysteriously disappeared. Now they are randomly reappearing, with villainous intentions and it's up to a detective, and a geek  expert on all things Alcatraz to find out why. 
Sounds Good But: Mythology is unpredictable. After three great years Alias cracked under the weight of it, meanwhile in it's third year Fringe rose to the occasion and blossomed because of it. Obviously there has to be a grand plan behind the disappearance and sudden reappearance's, but I want this show to keep the plots fun and exciting in the early goings, while building to it slowly but very surely like Alias did. But what do I know, I haven't even seen the thing yet. I'm just glad to have J.J. (and Hugo!) back. Bonus points for giving the lead role to Sarah Jones, of Sons of Anarchy fame (Zobelle's daughter). She's way too hot to not be working.
Premieres: Mid-season

1. Awake (NBC) - Can someone tell me why the most exciting, interesting shows are not premiering until mid-season?! Simply put, this looks amazing and if the pilot lives up to the trailer it will be one of the most innovative shows network TV has given us in a long while. There really isn't much more I can say, just click Play. Trust, it's worth the four minute running time.

Premise: Bear with me: a detective wakes up from a car crash involving his family to find that his wife has died. However, when he goes to sleep he wakes up in a reality where his son died instead of his wife. He continues to move between both realities, visiting a different therapist in each world that tells him the other is a fake product of the trauma. Meanwhile the cases he investigates in one world begin to affect the cases in the other. Trippy stuff.
Sounds Good But: We've all seen fantastic trailers that ended up being better than the actual product. Not to mention this story doesn't easily give way to the long-form execution that TV demands. And finally, creator Kyle Killen had an exciting, bold concept show just last year...and it ended up tanking embarrassingly the first week and becoming the season's first casualty by episode two. Maybe he should've gone cable this time?
Premieres: Mid-season

Which show are you interested in the most? Any I missed? And please remember, writing in long form is quite hard. Only the amateur TV watcher judges a show on one episode alone. If anything in the pilot grabs you, then weeks 2 and 3 are must-watches before your final decision.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bridget Kelly

Profile: You may have seen her filling in for Alicia Keys whenever Jay-Z performed "Empire State of Mind" (which was 90% of the time) but now the Roc Nation songstress is getting ready for her debut. You heard her awesome Frank Ocean penned song "Thinking About Forever" a couple weeks ago and she's following that with an EP before dropping her first album some time next year. (Who wants to bet she drops both before Jay Electronica?) Oh yea and she's kind of gorgeous. Pictures and "Thinking About Forever" video below:


Lil B and Kreayshawn Respond to Game Diss

Did you know The Game's fourth LP, The R.E.D. Album is coming out this Tuesday? Do you care? Those answers are most likely no and NO and since he knows this, Game has taken to his time-honored tradition of cooking up as much false beef as he can to make himself relevant again. Not only does that involve his annual "I-Hate-Jay-Z-Even-Though-I-Said-I Loved-Him-Last-Week-Campaign" (#fucktakingbipolarmeds, yea!) but this year he also chose to send some shots towards Hip-Hop 2011's lovable court jesters Kreayshawn (warning her against using 'nigga') and Lil B, whom he crowned  'Wackest Rapper Alive' after hearing him for the first time on Wayne's "Grove St. Party" freestyle (Clearly Game doesn't read Connoisseuraus Rex). Jay may be too big to respond but the Bay area spitters are not, and they fired back hilariously:

Kreayshawn later deleted this subliminal but by then everybody had seen it:

Meanwhile the Based God had a few quick words for Game while leaving a performance:

*Dead* at both. Game - 0.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Amazing Spider-Man Teaser Trailer

This comes out three weeks before The Dark Knight Rises and yet 2:30 worth of brand spanking new footage...#ImJustSaying. While I have no doubt whatsoever about which movie I'll dig more, I am impressed by the teaser and it may even make me forget the abominable Spider-Man 3 was only FOUR years ago.

If you're still rattled about a reboot so close to the original series, key differences include:
-a love interest not named Mary Jane
-a villain yet to be featured on the big screen [The Lizard]
-focus on Peter's birth parents
-weird, over-indulgent first-person POV shots that make it look like a video game instead of a blockbuster. *shrug*

July 3, 2012

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises: Teaser Poster

Sadly, the pop culture event the Connoisseuraus is anticipating most - yes, even more than the release of Watch the Throne - is still over a year away. Which means, it's time for the promo team to start torturing us with teasers: posters that don't show the Dark Knight himself nor the buzzed about new villains, trailers that offer scraps worth of visuals and sound bites (one is rumored to be attached to Harry Potter). The media campaign begins with the just released image you see below. Quite foreboding for a movie with such an optimistic title, no? The blink-and-you'll-miss-it Bat signal is cool though.

The final installment of the trilogy hits theaters July 20, 2012.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hidden Treasures or The Art of Being a Fanatic

"How you say 'my love' in Spanish?"

I'm gonna break my usual attempts at prose and go full-on 1st person: this used to be my shit! If you live in the tri-state area and are a real hip-hop fan - ie an alumnus, not finishing up your 4-years or worse, just beginning - then you were a fan before the internet got big and are thus properly acquainted with the great staple in rap radio that is Hot 97.1 And one of the objects of my 11 year-old affection was 97 personality Angie Martinez, who back in 2000 randomly decided to release a rap album and called in her whole rolodex of industry connects to help out. My favorite song, of course: the bi-lingual hood rom-com back-and-forth dialog between her and Young Hov. Nothing short of classic. It was on the radio way before the album dropped, and again this was before downloading and iTunes. Talk about agony. Fortune favors the patient though. Ended up getting a signed album and other shit through Dad's connects. Enjoy:

"Love having my cake plus eating it too/Shit, I got cake, what the fuck I'm 'sposed to do?"

"Mi Amor" Angie Martinez & Jay-Z

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Last Real Niggas Alive?

*If you haven't seen Game of Thrones 1st season in full turn around. Massive Spoilers ahead*

If you're like me, and immediately got sucked into HBO's latest TV tour de force Game of Thrones, but never read the source book series, A Song of Ice & Fire, then the season probably didn't play out how you expected it to. The inevitable showdown between the show's two coolest characters, standup-guy-surrounded-by-unscrupulous assholes Lord Ned Stark and ultimate badass conqueror Khal Drogo they teased all season long? Welp, by the time the finale came around, Ned had been beheaded in what will go down in TV history as one of the most unexpected deaths of all time, and Drogo had been rendered a vegetable and euthanized by his hot underaged wife. The madness of mercy indeed. Apparently fans of the show but not the books have abandoned ship, whining that they identified Ned as the protagonist and now that he's gone there's no point to watch, which is fucking stupid; this is a series full of rich and interesting worlds and characters. But that did make me sit realize...everybody left standing for season 2 is a dickhead! Amidst all the back-stabbers, schemers, and otherwise unpleasant people, who can I even root for? Here are the remaining "real" dudes I can get down with when we return next year:

Tyrion Lanister - He may be on Team Lannister Douchebag, but the imp was always the most interesting character. I can at least count on him to have the line of the episode and keep the bitchass-ness of his family in check, particularly that little fuck King Prince Joffrey. Just peep the clip above where he stands trial and confesses his "sins."

Bronn - Just like the rest of us Bronn was won over by the little Lord during his monologue above and has since served as his personal bodyguard. The title for best one-liner of the night is usually fought between these two. Plus he's probably the illest dude alive with a sword at this point.

Arya - Unlike her stupid older sister, Ned's youngest daughter and tomboy always knew the Lannisters were bitch-made and was always down to ride for her family. Her sword game is crazy too; after witnessing her pop's beheading I'm counting on her above her five siblings to be the one to get revenge.

Jon Snow - Always a cool character but his storyline at the Wall was my least favorite all season. That Rangers are a buncha fake ass Green Lanterns if you ask me. Hopefully next year gives him something more interesting to do than be a bored badass and befriend fat people.

Daenerys - This says it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0u3U6M9HpPM#t=3m37s

Direwolves - They prevented not one but two assassination attempts on their masters. Best. Pets. Ever.

Runners Up: Robb Stark for transforming from punk entitled kid to worthy successor of his father; Jorah Mormount for at least having an allegiance on a show packed with duplicitous people.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Shanell - How to Love

This is the year of R&B freestyles remixes. Now that the whole industry practically ran a train on the "Marvin's Room" beat, is this song next? YMCMB hottie (oh, and singer) Shanell lead's the pack with her own version of boss Wayne's latest single "How to Love." This is quite honestly the best her voice has ever sounded. If I sound harsh, go skim through We Are Young Money and you'll see what I mean. She does the beat so much more service than Weezy that one wonders if he was wrong not to gift it to her in the first place. Probably would've cleared up that whole obscurity problem. See for yourself:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Did you ever think you'd be this excited for a fourth Mission: Impossible? I didn't. The genius of J.J. Abrams combined with director Brad Bird, making his first live-action film (he directed The Incredibles) gives us Ghost Protocol. Whereas the last one was positively low-key, this looks like it's taking the series back to it's over-the-top basics. In a good way. Co-starring the great Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Sawyer Josh Holloway, Paula Patton, and Ving Rhames, of course. Trailer below:

Action sequences filmed with IMAX cameras. Coming to a theater near you this Christmas.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Eminem: Space Bound

Talk about better late than never. Peep the much delayed but still welcome video for the 4th single from Slim's triple platinum 6th album Recovery, starring porn queen Sasha Grey, below:

Cool concept, great visuals. This was always one of my favorite songs on the album, delayed or not this should help push the Recovery sales to even bigger heights, by 2011 standards at least (to date it's scanned 3.9 million copies and maintained a spot in the Billboard Top 100 for a full year). On an unrelated note, Hollywood's loving Sasha these days, huh?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Three Reasons the Based God is Winning

Unsigned rappers take note: the Based God is stylin' on you. That's right, that Wonton Soup nigga you laughed off last year is now laughing slowly but surely to the bank - and to fame infamy. Here are the top three reasons why Lil Brandon isn't going away any time soon:

He's Keeping His Name in Your Mouth

Did you hear about Lil B's album title?! Of course you did. Titling your album something as incendiary and divisive as I'm Gay is about as attention whore as you can get. It's a bold move, and while he's lost some fans as a result, he also may have even more eyes watching him now. (More on that later.) Plus, he's staying on his current events grind:

He's Gaining Big Supporters

Sometimes rap is like politics: you're only as legit as the people backing you. Some way, some how, the Black Ken's co-signs are growing at the same pace of his buzz. First there was a song with non-mainstream but still highly respected rappers Phonte and Jean Grae. Then GLAAD came through to support the album title (of course they did). Since then Brandon's got a dizzying, mystifying list of collabs and co-signs in the pipeline:

- beats from Just Blaze and 9th Wonder
- a collaborative EP with Jay Electronica (Watch the Throne indeed)
- a feature on the upcoming Weezy mixtape
- performing at festivals like Bamboozle, Coachella and SXSW
- cameos for and from Puffy
- a touring deal with Live Nation

Meanwhile, disses from the likes of Rhymefest and Freddie Gibbs just get brushed off. When CyHi Da Prynce jokes about the G.O.O.D. team cooking during studio downtime and Justin Bieber randomly yells "Swag!" on the Grammy's red carpet, you know you're doing something right.

He Continues to Prove That He's Actually, y'know, Intelligent

Allow me to take credit for calling early on that Young Based, despite songs like this, is actually smart as hell. Knowing full well that this is his moment, Brandon is displaying more and more intelligence with each interview. Dude got on CNN Radio for Christ's sake! Peep that interview plus his guest spot on Rapfix for his suprisingly intellectual take on his album title, what it means, and why he's doing it.

Update: Lil B's debut album cover


Thoughts? Agree or Disagree? Is Based God here to stay or will he be gone way before the Mayans predicted?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hidden Treasures or The Art of Being a Fanatic

The simplicity behind a lot of The Bawse's hooks on Self Made (the compilation album released to showcase the starting five of Maybach Music Group) has for some reason given people short-term memory loss, instilling doubt in the former C.O.'s lyrical ability. "Devil in a New Dress" was only seven months ago people. As a reminder of why Ricky Rozay is one of the hottest rappers out today, here's a song that went under the radar a few months ago. Released as a part of Swizz Beatz's weekly, now defunct #MonsterMondays fake ass G.O.O.D. Friday free music initiative, this is "The Transporter," complete with a random but still awesome Biggie intro, no hook, and more dialog from foreign, hot sounding chicks:

Did Swizz Beatz really produce this? It doesn't sound like a typical Swizzy beat (which is the highest compliment).

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Best R&B Artist Out?

If it weren't for the cohesive fumbles of his good but not great last two albums, The-Dream would already have been hailed as this generation's Prince. This first taste from his forthcoming fourth effort Love IV (Diary of a Mad Man) is a step in the right direction, to say the least. It's 10 minutes but you won't notice.

Dream's also the man behind the pen of current Queen B hits "Run the World (Girls)" and "1+1," not to mention her biggest hit, "Single Ladies." In case you didn't know.

Chloe Riley

Profile: Recently seen in Young Khalifa's "Black & Yellow [G-Mix]" video, San Diego's own Chloe Riley, 19, could be the next Cassie: so sexy that no one even cares about her music skills or debatable lack thereof. She raps too, apparently:

Her new mixtape is called Free PxxxY. Sooooo yea... hit the link for the trailer. Trust me, you want to.

Update: Peep the video for "Vibe Out," a track off Free Pxxxy below:


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hidden Treasures or The Art of Being a Fanatic

The past two years have seen the reemergence of crews in hip-hop, with each of today's rap titans carving out their own lane to dominate and co-exist at the same time. Rick Ross and the Maybach Music Group currently own the rights to bass shattering street music, Kanye and G.O.O.D. Music are taking over the game with their quality but non-gangster style (I guess Pusha T is their Beanie Sigel), Roc Nation is...random but seems to be working. And then we have Young Money, who, along with boasting about how they're the new shit, are slowly establishing themselves with naughty, overt, mainstream hits all about well...fucking. Just look at the chorus to both their hit singles. So far it's working, but with Drake and Nicki's careers up in the stratosphere it's not likely we'll see another YMCMB group album anytime soon. Still if they want to try and keep it up, they might as well stick to the formula. Which brings us to this pre-Drake era unfinished song below. It's deliciously crude and raunchy and radio be damned, if they re-do this, mix & master it, and add an "In the Morning" type 16 from Drizzy this will join the ranks of "Every Girl" and "Bedrock." C'mon, any song where Gudda Gudda of all people has the best verse has got to be a keeper.

"Thinking to Myself" Lil Wayne, Gudda Gudda, Mack Maine & Nicki Minaj

Peep the pre-crazy voices Nicki (also before she started censoring herself for her younger audiences).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Missing Greatness: LOST

For the first May in years there is no two-hour night of supremely mind-bending twists and expertly delivered action that ends with me yelling at the screen because the thought of waiting months for more is too much to bear. LOST has ended. In honor of one of the Top 10 Best Shows of All Time, (and the one year anniversary of the series finale) which had some of the most game-changing, water-cooler, forum fueling finales of all time, here are the LOST finales rated from "that's all?" weakest to "holy jacob!" best. *Spoilers follow, obviously*

6. "There's No Place Like Home," S4 - This show has had its missteps. It never stumbled when it was finale time though. But after the previous year's finale (more on that later) this one had a lot to live up to. The whole flash-forward thing was awesome, but when we caught up with the present, the stakes were slightly lowered by knowing who would make it. But of course the mystery and suspense lies in why it was those six right? Nope. The grand reason it was only the Oceanic 6 was because of plot mechanics? Too much weight on the helicopter. Really?? Then the island moved, which simultaneously earned an 'oh cool' and a deadpan 'ok.' Still this finale had a lot to enjoy and get excited about. Sayid gave Keamy the business!
Holy Jacob!: The coffin reveal, obviously, the main redeemer of this episode. Thought for sure it was gonna be Desmond.
That's All?: Just a wheel moves the island? Ehhh. Don't get me started on that gotdamn helicopter plot device either. Also, "The Constant" got me hype for a way more "Titanic"-esque Desmond-Penny reunion than we got.
Best Use of that Incredibly Emotional Score: The Oceanic 6's arrival. Heartwarming stuff.

5. "Live Together, Die Alone," S2 - This was one of the strongest season-enders out during the '05-'06 TV season but when compared in-show, this exciting, intensely suspenseful episode is only the fifth best conclusion that LOST has to offer. Still, it's quite good, featuring the return of Desmond (back when he wasn't a ubiquitous regular), the exposure of Michael's rat-bastardness (be honest though, if you had to shoot two people you've only known for two months to get your son back from some Devils Rejects' dressing people, you would t00), and my personal favorite, the Hurley-bird. Oh and something popped off involving a hatch too.
Holy Jacob!: Did I mention the hatch shit?!?! "I was wrong" is now an infamous series quote. Plus, one of the final shots was our three main heroes getting bags over their heads and kidnapped. Also the first appearance of the four toed statue that would drive fans crazy for another three years.
That's All?: Libby-Desmond seemed like a supreme stretch of the 6 degrees of separation conceit used in a lot of the flashbacks. Especially since they never found the time to get to her backstory. Fans groaned, but it really must not have been that important, am I right? And retrospectively speaking, why the fuck were those Portugese dudes in the Arctic in the final scene?

4. "The Incident," S5 - Comparing these grade A finales against each other (but let's be honest, s4 is more like a B+) was tough, and the toughest was easily deciding where to place this. Because what an episode, from instant classic opening scene to what-the-fuck climax. Leave it to LOST to be the show that fades to white instead of black for one of it's most maddening cliffhangers, maddening because there's a shitload of days between May and February. The Locke twist remains a top 10 coolest moment on the series for me. Yea I said it, top 10. Jacob's "visit" scenes were fantastic. And the reveal contextualization that this whole series was about ordinary, very flawed and small human beings caught in the middle of a very huge age old war between gods was fucking awesome. And if you think that should've been revealed earlier, allow me to disagree with you. 
Holy Jacob!: Holy Man in Black!
That's All?: Juliet is suddenly cool with Jack setting off a HYDROGEN BOMB because Sawyer's still simping over Kate??? Come the fuck on! Miles and Dr. Pierre Marvin Mark Edgar Candle Wickmund Halliwax Chang's reunion was a little undercooked.
Best Use of that Incredibly Intense Score: There's no way your adrenaline isn't pumping during that final scene at the Swan.

3. "The End," S6 - A fitting end to the season, and consequently the series. The Desmond plot device got a little hokey. Maybe you were disappointed with the final scene. Or even the whole episode. I'm amongst the team that most definitely was not. All those character reunions are the stuff series finales are made of, and if the final shot didn't move you then maybe you weren't as into this series as you thought. Bandwagoner.
Holy Jacob!: I was wayyyyy off with my Sideways world guesses. I still have conversations with people who don't really get the whole absence of time thing though.
That's All?: I'm down with Sideways, but the sunken island in "LA X" was still extremely misleading. And really, what the fuck was the Man in Black gonna do with himself once he got to the real world? Appear as Barack Obama? Justin Bieber?? Last but not least, Sayid + Shannon still = GROAN a full four seasons later.
Best Use of that Incredibly Emotional Score: The end, obviously.

2. "Exodus," S1 - The deftly executed one-two punch in which we peer down the hatch and Walt is kidnapped. That, folks, is how you wrap up a season and ensure that 20 million people will come back in three months for more. RIP Dr. Artz.
Holy Jacob!: "We're gonna need to take the boy."
That's All?: That's all nothing. Retrospectively, the first scene of the season 2 premiere more than makes up for the decision to cut before we saw anything hatch-wise.
Best Use of that Incredibly Emotional Score: I think the raft cast-off set the tone for what this show's score was made of. Word to Michael Giacchino.

1. "Through the Looking Glass," S3 - Here it is. The best finale of LOST and one of the best season finales of all time. Season three is when the doubters started piling on: the flashbacks were getting extraneous, the endless twists empty, and the story directionless. So the writers responded with a near flawless second half of the season, culminating in two hours of sheer perfection. And no it's not just because of the final twist, the episode was engaging from beginning to end, on a plot level, but more importantly, character too. Who ever thought we'd end up caring about Charlie again?
Holy Jacob!: I think this goes without saying. But in case it doesn't: WE HAVE TO GO BACK!! 
That's All?: The next season runs with no repeats, that's awesome. Wait...it starts when? January?!?
Best Use of that Incredibly Emotional Score: NOT PENNY'S BOAT.

Thoughts? What's your favorite season finale of LOST? Would you have rated them differently?