“Pretty Boy” actor reveals key details about future Joji material

pretty boy - YouTube

88rising poster boy Joji released a snippet of a song titled “pretty boy” on a personal channel back in early April and the actor from the music video just revealed some new details about his future projects.

The song is accompanied by retro-looking visuals featuring an actor with heavy prosthetic makeup driving a convertible around the hills of Malibu. The description of the ambiguous video simply reads “NOT SONG.”

Naturally many fans began to speculate on what the song was for, whether it was an unauthorized single for his upcoming sophomore album Nectar or just a one-off snippet. Joji in the past has been known to shamelessly tease new tracks to his fans in rather enigmatic ways. However, the actor featured in the video who simply goes by “SHW BOY” has revealed a few details about the snippet.

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For all you Joji “Pretty Boy” fans.

A post shared by SHW BOY (@shwboy_ca) on

The actor posted a behind the scenes video featuring a close up of the prosthetic makeup he wore. In the comments to said post, he answered a few questions left by “Pretty Boy fans.”

One user asked if there would be a full release of the song and the actor confirmed there would be. Another asked if the actor would be willing to work with 88rising again to which he gave an enthusiastic “absolutely.” Finally, when asked if the actor would appear in any future 88rising/Joji projects the actor was a bit vaguer and responded, “you will soon find out :)”

While fans may not know the true nature of the pretty boy snippet there are certainly a lot of things fans don’t know yet.

It’s likely the answers will soon come when Nectar officially releases in September.

Kanye West files Statement of Organization despite talks of dropping out of the presidential race.

Kanye West announces he's running for president - ABC NewsDespite recent statements made about Kanye West dropping out of the presidential ballot, a filing in the Federal Election Commission was made Wednesday on behalf of the Atlanta-born rapper.

Monday a report by New York Magazine’s The Intelligencer revealed that Kanye West was going to drop out of the presidential ballot. Steve Kramer, a get-out-the-vote specialist, who was hired by West to help get on the ballot in two states simply told The Intelligencer, “he’s out.”

Nevertheless, today just hours after the world got word of him dropping out, a Wyoming based committee filed the first form required by the FEC. The form declares the organization of a campaign committee. However, the more important form, the Statement of Candidacy, is what legitimizes West as an actual candidate and must also be submitted.

With that being said, a form can be filed by practically anyone, and details about Andre Bodiford, the man who signed the Statement of Organization, are scarce at best. The number listed has not returned any calls.

The rapper-turned pseudo politician first announced his presidential bid on July 4.

The tweet instantly grew widespread attention and gained support from notable figures like Elon Musk who replied to Kanye West saying “You have my full support!”

In an interview with Forbes, West revealed he was going to run under an independent party he had dubbed the “birthday party” because when he won it would be “everybody’s birthday.” He also divulged in the same interview his conservative take on things like abortion and planned parenthood. Saying that the ladder had been placed in cities by “white supremacists to do the Devil’s work.”

His proposed model for an administration under his executive control was also heavily inspired by the fictional city of Wakanda from the Marvel blockbuster Black Panther.

West himself has not yet commented on him ending his bid nor the form that was submitted.

Why The Last of Us Part II fell short

How old is Ellie in The Last of Us Part 2? |Back in June of 2018 when this website was barely getting off the ground I wrote a rather longwinded article about Naughty Dogs post-apocalyptic shooter The Last of Us. Not very long after that a sequel was confirmed to be in development and was going to release sometime in 2020. Fast forward to 2020 and the world is now in shambles. America is on the brink of another civil rights movement and Donald Trump is still somehow president. To top it off the agony that came before the release of The Last of Us Part II was very fitting with the times and was equally as frustrating.

Back in 2017, Kotaku’s Jason Schreier released an article revealing a poor experience a former Naughty Dog employee had with the company. In the article, the employee explained that two years prior they had been sexually harassed by a lead at Naughty Dog and was even bribed by Sony to keep quiet about the experience. Prior to this, he was allegedly fired for speaking about his experience with Sony’s HR team.

Three years later, Jason Schreier would again write a feature on Naughty Dog employees, this time focusing on the time crunch that occurred before the release of The Last of Us Part II. Schreier wrote, “Even in an industry where overtime is ubiquitous, where it’s near-impossible to find a game that isn’t the result of weeks or months of crunch, Naughty Dog stands out.”

According to the article, some employees were pushed to their breaking point while working on finishing The Last of Us Part II. Most of them had to work twelve-hour days, on the weekends, sacrificing family, friends, and their personal lives.

If this wasn’t enough, the game also had one of the most damning leaks in gaming history, only being matched by Valve back during the development of Half-Life 2.

Due to Covid-19 the follow up to The Last of Us was initially delayed indefinitely, missing its original release date of February 21. However, things quickly became muddled after a youtube channel uploaded gameplay and cutscene footage of a near-final build of the game. The cutscenes spoiled very major plot points and twists for the game’s story. The build also included a debug menu full of level names and other data.

The internet of course got a hold of all this information and quickly began judging the game before it had even come out. The pressure from this leak subsequently caused Sony to announce a new June 19 release date for the highly-anticipated title, which was followed up with an official statement from Naughty Dog.

This was the maelstrom that led up to the very complicated official release of The Last of Us Part II. Fans waited seven years to experience the game, sat through several pushbacks, leaks all while being quarantined. And you know what? It wasn’t worth it.

For all of its strengths, The Last of Us Part II has a number of weaknesses that seem to glare at the player from beyond the screen. It’s an abundantly flawed experience with so many twists and turns that forcibly yank the player from all directions as they desperately trudge through its most decrepit depths. I know I’m making it seem like it’s horrible, but it’s not. I think the greatest disappointment with The Last of Us Part II is actually the fact that it’s so unremarkable. It’s mediocre, average, and dare I say uninspired.

I have a lot of feelings toward this game, both negative and positive. So as I’m delivering them please just think about my experience for one moment. I’m not a die-hard fan but I did have expectations. I’m not close-minded, but I did not care for some ideas. I’m neither here nor there about the game to be quite honest. And yet, I still feel the need to talk about it. Because it’s true, I wasn’t content with just a good experience. I truly wanted something greater.

The first two hours of the game were rather boring up until Joel met his demise at the hands of Abby wielding a seven iron. There were a few moments, like when Joel plays the guitar for Ellie that was great to watch. The delivery from both Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson really shines during this moment. The tension and awkwardness between the two characters can be so clearly understood, it’s amazing. This is probably where many people, including myself, said to themselves, “Yeah, this is going to be great.” Then once you’re thrown into the game the tutorial segments for Ellie and Abby are heavily marred by its poor pacing and strange character dialogue.

The dialogue, while playful at times, borders on Netflix original levels of corny. I don’t know who’s choice it was to make every character in the game the most charismatic person in the world who knew exactly what to say one hundred percent of the time, but allow me to be the first to admit; it was a bad idea. This is more noticeable on Ellie’s portion of the game but there are plenty of bad cuts from Abby’s as well. It just surprises me that every character can be so upbeat and quip with each other constantly despite being apart of the most devastating event in human history. Every character has killed and must kill to survive, some like Ellie from an incredibly young age. So how could they be so cheerful and personable all of the time? While I do understand some characters were already born into it and others have possibly gotten used to it already, you’d think during some more serious moments they’d understand when the right time to fool around is.

This wouldn’t be an issue if it was a few characters like Jesse or Dina, who due to their young age may not have become as hardened as say someone like Joel. However, it’s not and affects nearly every character in the story, even characters who have every right to be hard-boiled. This is just scratching the surface of strange out of place dialogue choices the game is littered with. I would say this is most noticeable during the first two hours of the game but I can understand Naughty Dog trying to create a certain atmosphere before deconstructing it. There are points where this does slow down but this was a feature that heavily colorized my initial thoughts on the game itself. While charming at times it just seems rather out of place and sometimes even forced. For a game so heavily reliant on character dialogue it’s incredibly disappointing seeing it done poorly here when its been so easily achieved before by Naughty Dog.

I would say the moments where dialogue really carries its weight is during some of its more indirect moments. You really get a feel for some of the characters based more on their actions and offhanded comments. For instance, after stealth killing a character you’ve subdued Ellie will carelessly drop them to the floor and often cuss at them or make some dark remark. It’s a nice touch and while depending on the playstyle one may find it annoying (she only has so many dialogue options) I liked what it revealed about her character. The same goes for how Ellie would go about opening doors and searching for items. During some sections, she would do so quietly and methodically. Other times it would be haphazard and irregular. It’s one of those things you notice over the course of the game and grow to appreciate over time.

After Joel’s death, the game launches into a three-day structure one focusing on Ellie searching for Abby in Seattle and the second focusing on Abby herself. I must admit its a compelling way to deliver a story and something not many games have explored before. With that being said the execution itself is rather sloppy.

The first day as Ellie while fun at stages ultimately amounts to almost nothing. During this day the player is meant to connect with both Ellie and Dina through their character dialogue and the moments they share together but during this point a lot of the forced conversation between the two quickly becomes apparent. Very few moments feel authentic between the two however there are a few choice bits of dialogue that do make their relationship grow, specifically Dina talking about her Jewish past and her sister.

Day one of Seattle is also what introduces the player to segments, or the main way the game is progressed. Each level is broken up into segments focusing on different set pieces based around two methods of gameplay: exploration or combat. For example, the beginning of day one sets Ellie and Dina on the outskirts of Seattle where they have to explore and solve puzzles. Once they get inside a building it launches into a sneak and combat section. The game is completed almost exclusively through this system and I must say it’s pretty enjoyable. In some ways it makes the game feel a lot less linear than it actually is and that could be really appealing to some players. In other cases, it can also just be an incredibly digestible form of storytelling. It allows the player to move at their own pace and perhaps in some cases add some artificial lengthening. Even if it admittedly doesn’t need that I would still consider it good game design.

While day one is easily the most uneventful day of Ellie’s story that’s not really saying much as there are a fair number of twists and turns it takes before we reach its end.  Toward the conclusion, there are a few choice segments that really make the player feel tense and takes full control over some of the game’s more interesting mechanics. Like during the underground segment where you can pit the clickers against the WLF members trying to hunt you down. The dynamic use of shadows also adds a lot of new interesting layers to sneaking making it much more entertaining.

The day ends in a rather somber conversation between Ellie and Dina that once again fails to make the player care about either of them. Dina, after revealing to Ellie that she is pregnant, jokingly says to Ellie, “Don’t worry, it’s not yours” as tears began welling in her eyes. It’s yet another textbook example of how the dialogue attempting to humanize these characters can really just take me out of the whole experience. I am trying to sympathize with an utterly difficult scene. Both parties feel as if they’ve been betrayed, it’s melodramatic but still dramatic. Don’t take me out of it by using some cheesy one-liner.

Another thing this scene does with or without the player knowing is set up one of the main motifs that will be showing up a lot throughout the game. The theme of duality. At the beginning of the game, Owen reveals to Abby that his partner Mel is pregnant which blindsides her. With this we now in a similar scene under a similar context where two close characters who are also romantically involved revealing that one of them is pregnant. It’s one of the most in your face moments that tries to connect Ellie to Abby. I suppose in some cases it works and in others, it really doesn’t. It’s my belief that this is an attempt to get the player to understand and emphasize with Abby more due to the fact that the player would natrually care about Ellie more since we’ve had a full game to understand her character. However, a lot of it just feels like lazy writing to me. Now keep in mind, this isn’t the only way Druckman and Gross attempt to make Abby a more humanized character. There are a number of flashback sequences that explain some of her past which may or may not be another attempt at creating a link between her and Ellie. However, as a whole duality as a way of making Abby a more fleshed out character truly fails in what it hopes to achieve.

As a way of storytelling, however, it’s not a horrible way to go about things. In many ways, it’s a decent method of driving home some of the finer points the game tries to instill in the player. Namely those about forgiveness and revenge. Does that mean any of those themes are good on their own? Not necessarily. However, the use of duality is an absorbable way of making those ideas more salient. Something I wholeheartedly understand and appreciate about the game. While these aren’t exactly obtuse concepts for the player to understand it makes sense considering the game’s tone and overall presentation. Yes, they’re in your face about it and that isn’t the worst way to go about things. While it may turn off a few video game elitists your core demographic is always going to be the ultimate judge.

Day two begins after a nice flashback sequence between Ellie and Joel. It’s a rather somber moment considering what players experienced earlier and a good example of this game doing storytelling right. I really like this sequence and Joel’s self-referential humor. The sequences afterward traveling through some commercial districts in Seattle has a lot of really nice gameplay moments. I would argue this day is the most gameplay oriented and I really like this too. While the story may fall flat on its face gameplay is truly where The Last of Us Part II shines brightly. Every improvement upon the original mechanics is beautiful. Changes to the crafting and upgrade system make combat seamless. The ability to go prone and hide in the grass makes sneaking significantly more viable than in its previous entry. AI improvements make the world feel much more fleshed out and give some of your enemies more depth. Some may try a direct approach and snuff you out. Others keep to their post to cover blind spots and exits.

Sometimes after killing an enemy another may call out them by name making the world feel much more real. It may even subconsciously cause the player to question their own actions. The game gives you a number of rather unique ways to go about taking down the WLFs and Seraphites ranging from clean and quick to downright cruel and unusual. At time’s it can get pretty ludicrous so small moments that make the player realize exactly what they’re doing are excellent methods of worldbuilding.

Day two ends in Ellie making a solo trip to a WLF hospital to kill Nora. It’s a bittersweet conclusion. Yes, Nora dies and Ellie fulfills one part of her revenge scheme but there’s not much catharsis in doing so. This is a running theme that’s going to continue throughout the rest of the game and for better, or for worse its probably the biggest idea Druckman and Gross were trying to get across. Whether it works or not is really up to the individual player but for what it’s worth I can appreciate the theme for its consistency if anything else. After killing Nora Ellie returns to the hideout bruised, bloody and uncertain. There’s one more flashback sequence before the next day which explains the strained relationship between Joel and Ellie and to be quite honest, despite the fact its well-acted, the whole thing feels incredibly rushed and out of place. The player isn’t given enough time to breathe and absorb the information that’s already been given to them. I believe it would fit much better at the end of day three.

Day three feels arguably the shortest out of all of Ellie’s story but its also packed with the most amount of information and to be honest that can be a little jarring to a lot of players. As a whole, there’s enough gameplay to space out some of the segments but there’s little climax to when Ellie kills Owen and Mel. I suppose that’s probably the point of it but this one, in particular, is meant to make the player feel somewhat guilty. The only issue is that there is really no way of feeling that. Even looking back in retrospect after playing Abby’s section I feel nothing. No, I don’t care that Mel dies with her baby inside of her I have no connection to these characters, there were honestly points where I felt like Mel was written for me not to like her.

Going back to what I said about this game and duality the parallel between Mel and Dina also really meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Dina was a character I already didn’t like and the same I have already said about Mel. And as if we couldn’t push the bar further on the topic of duality the end of Ellie’s arc leads to Abby’s.

Abby’s three-day struggle begins very similarly to Ellies. The game ingratiates the player into one of the WLF bases drawing a lot of obvious parallels between it and Jackson. For instance, both characters are given food at the beginning of their journey and go through a shooting-based tutorial. There are also a few not so subtle comparisons like how classrooms are presented differently in both sides of the story. As I mentioned previously, I like this I think in cases like these its subtle enough to where it doesn’t completely force-feed the player undeveloped themes and characters.

As a whole, I am not going to go over everything that occurs in Abby’s story because a lot that can be said about Ellie’s arc is what can also be said about Abby. However, that doesn’t mean nothing happens. In fact, Abby’s section for all of its faults is honestly the better half of The Last of Us Part II at least from a gameplay perspective. Abby boasts a better arsenal of weapons, her upgrades are a lot more useful, and the set pieces she encounters are much more memorable than Ellies. In a strange sort of way, it feels like Naughty Dog went out of their way to make you like Abby more than Ellie. Or at the very least make her segments a lot more enjoyable to play. However, in a strangely ironic sense, it also suffers a lot of the same problems that Ellie’s arc does.

In its simplest terms, Abby’s three days are spent borderline recreating the experience of the first game in the series. I know for many people that thought kind of sounds enticing in its own way since it’s a game we all know and love, but allow me to explain how that tried and true formula can be broken down and beaten into a million little pitiful pieces. Abby as a stand-in for Joel and Lev for Ellie on paper is a half-decent idea, both of them are just different enough on the first glace to seem like a compelling duo and they both have a wide range of skill sets that complement each other gameplay and story-wise. Being from rival groups there are already are a lot of tensions prebuilt behind the characters.

This odd couple has every reason not to be together and yet they are, similarly to Joel and Ellie. However, the biggest separation between them and our other odd couple is the fact we have an entire game to understand their relationship. Abby and Lev have just a couple of segments and while they are pretty amazing segments the same can’t be said about how their relationship develops. Abby already being a haphazardly written character with motivations and feelings so run-of-the-mill its sad is not a good foil for Lev. However, out of all the characters that appear in the game one of the few I actually enjoyed at times was Lev. Lev is fragile with a hard exterior, Lev has a complicated but simultaneously mysterious backstory, Lev also has a clear motivation and moral compass which is clearly defined throughout the story. It’s a nice change of pace considering the only interesting thing about Abby is that she has a fear of heights, something you notice only because it directly affects gameplay.

To me, this only makes her parallel story that much more ill-considered, for if it were more competently handled it could have lead to a much more climactic scene at the end of her three-day arc. That’s not to say that her entire story is horrible, there are a few interesting bits of dialogue between Lev and Abby that feel pretty real and don’t suffer the same issues as the conversations between Ellie, Dina, and Jesse. However, when you really break it down there also isn’t a whole lot to chew on. It’s wholly self-contained and honestly quite predictable despite the dramatic irony. The only thing that caught me off guard was this game’s Game of Thrones-like ability to kill off main characters at random times. The only difference being that most characters who die, I really couldn’t care less about.

Even when Ellie and Dina nearly die at the hands of Abby at the end of her segment I really couldn’t care what would happen to any of these characters. At that point I was so done with the game I was just going through motions to finish it. At the most climactic moment where things were actually beginning to clash, it was hard for me to even feel anything. That’s when a story truly fails and that’s probably the biggest travesty here. I knew it wasn’t supposed to be about revenge. That much was clear, but the way they spun it to be about forgiveness was equally as disingenuous. This became even more of an issue during the final moments of the game.

Both Abby and Ellie had a lot to lose over the course of their adventure. The sacrifices that were made while plentiful were never really enough to satisfy any sort of meaning. For such a colorful cast of characters, you’d think one of them would command any sort of feeling but they don’t. Ellie sacrificing her relationship with Dina didn’t matter to me because I didn’t care for it in the first place. Her trauma while relatable ultimately went unappreciated.

Santa Barbra for its nice visuals really feels the last minute and rushed. By that point, the player is so tired from being force-fed a bland story full of featureless characters they’re just trying to finish it and gain something. I knew what the ending was before I finished the game, not because I had looked at spoilers but because everything was so predictable. I can empathize with those who wanted it to go the way it didn’t. Regardless of how you feel about one character over another, there’s a clear pick of who you’d want to see fulfilled and for most players who don’t really care about a richer storyline at this point, this is all you’d really want to see after enduring a 24-hour game. On that front, I can see where a lot of the fans criticism comes from.

The Last of Us Part II is a lot of things and sadly satisfying isn’t exactly one of them. For every beautiful set piece, there’s a dreadful character meant to explore it. For every beautiful performance, there’s a piece of half-baked dialogue. For every breathtaking moment, there’s one wicked eternity. All of this balances out to form an average gaming experience. One that will leave you with your arms crossed, indifferently staring at the screen. I implore those who are fans of the series to give this one a shot regardless of what some amateur critics like myself might say.

It’s always best to judge something with your own eyes than with a set of someone else’s.

Lana Del Rey sparks controversy from recent statements about criticism.

Lana Del Rey Defends Controversial Instagram Comments: Update ...Originally written on May 26 2020 when this was relevant.

American singer/songwriter Lana Del Rey has drawn controversy from a recent Instagram post made late Wednesday night last week where she name drops Top Billboard artists like Doja Cat, Beyonce, and Nicki Minaj.

In said post, she begins with the question, “Now that Doja Cat, Ariana, Camila, Cardi B, Kehlani and Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé have had number ones with songs about being sexy, wearing no clothes, fucking, cheating, etc — can I please go back to singing about being embodied, feeling beautiful by being in love even if the relationship is not perfect, or dancing for money — or whatever I want — without being crucified or saying that I’m glamorizng abuse??????”

This is following years of criticism she’s faced over her music’s subject matter. Some fans and critics alike have scrutinized her music for glorifying unhealthy relationships and toxic tendencies. For instance, according to genius, her notorious song “Cola” details her promiscuity rather blatantly but was later heavily probed for its mention and exaggeration of a “Harvey Weinstein” like character.

Regardless, Lana believes that her music has “really paved the way for other women to stop ‘putting on a happy face’ and just be able to say whatever the hell they wanted to in their music.”

Her response ends with her announcing her new projects even though she precedes it by saying that they don’t really have “anything to do about much.”

The response to her post drew a lot of praise and disappointment from onlookers and fans. As with anything on the internet, Lana saw many people criticizing her response. Some took offense to her only naming women of color in her response even going as far as calling Lana Del Rey as “racist” and “entitled.”

The story also began trending on Twitter causing some to begin the #lanadelreyisoverparty.

Of course, all of this attention caused the 34-year-old singer to make an official four-part addendum via her comment section. In her response, she touched at the many accusations people had made toward her: “Bro. This is so sad to make it a WOC (women of color) issue when I’m talking about my favorite singers. I could’ve literally said anyone but I picked my favorite fucking people. And this is the problem with society today, not everything is about whatever you want it to be…I don’t care anymore but don’t ever ever ever ever bro- call me racist because that is bullshit.”

The only official response from any of the artists Lana publicly name-dropped came from Doja Cat who in a now-deleted comment said, “gang sunk that dunker.” The response is rather cryptic but some have said it’s a possible reference to the early wave of fans who came to the defense of these artists without reading or understanding the situation. With that being said, no official explanation has come from Doja Cat herself.

It should be noted that not long after Lana’s original post Doja Cat came under fire herself for visiting online chat rooms full of alleged alt-right members and for an unreleased song titled “Dindu Nuffin.” These allegations originated from a Twitter post who alleged the “Say So” singer was taking part in racist behavior. She has since denied any sort of racist narrative or intent on Instagram Live and said in a recent text post, “That’s not my character, and I’m determined to show that to everybody moving forward.”

If the narrative behind these stories proves anything it’s that many people aren’t ready to have a conversation about topics like this. Despite what the Grammy-nominated singer wanted many official publications have denounced the actions of Lana Del Ray stating her post is simply ploy in order to gain more relevancy. Others have come to her defense and agree with her stance on the unfair criticism she’s received since her official debut album released back in 2012.

Regardless of what others have said, Lana Del Rey has doubled-down on her previous sentiments and shows no intention of going back on her word. How this will affect the release of her forthcoming album and future collaborations however, cannot be said for sure.

missing my 2-year anniversary

So, its been two years I’ve been using this website, and I just have to say wow. To anyone that reads or even gives me a passing glance, thank you.

I started this website with the idea of sharing my opinion and building a portfolio for my future career as a journalist. However, its shaped itself into something so much more meaningful.

This place is like an archive filled to the brim with everything I love. I know I haven’t updated this website much in the past year, but trust be that hasn’t been by choice.

I’m a creative in every sense of the word, so I fill as much time as I can doing something stimulating. Sometimes that doesn’t mean I’m writing here. I’ve also been hard at work writing articles for scriberr. Everything that doesn’t get accepted there goes here. So pretty soon I’m going to be releasing a Lana article they haven’t edited.

I still love talking about music and my love for writing hasn’t dwindled at all.

This summer I’m going to focus my efforts on writing and moving toward my future. I hope to see all of you there.

Thank you and please turn off the bright lights.

How to find new music during the corona season

Study finds listening to music has negative impact on creativity ...Happy quarantine season everyone. I’m currently writing from my soft bed, listening to tunes I’ve already heard thousands of times over. So I figured now is the right time to find something new. Around this time last year, I gave everyone three tips on how to find new music in the flooded market we call the industry. Now here I am again, a year later, back for another installment of this possibly-annual series. Without further ado, let’s get started.

  • Listen to featured artists’ solo music.

Features are the backbone of many albums, more specifically Hip-Hop and Pop records, the two most popular genres out there right now. So many artists spend thousands of dollars every year to get one person on their record and typically it’s for good reason. Whether it’s a contractual agreement or something is organically grown, in most cases, features on records can make a track, that much better. This is why if you end up liking the feature you should try getting into that artist too, provided you haven’t already of course.

In my own experience, this is how I got into artists like Don Toliver and Dababy, the ladder of which has been so prolific on features its starting to become a joke in the Hip-Hop industry. However, both artists have a pretty decent selection of solo works under their belt. I know for a fact I wouldn’t have tried to get into their music if I hadn’t heard them on someone else’s track. Sometimes it’s scary to jump into someone new blindly, so think of features like a test to see if you enjoy the way a particular artist sounds.

  • Look at charts

Be honest with yourself. Have you looked past the top ten spots of the Billboard Hot 100? Well if you haven’t, I highly recommend it. I can almost guarantee that you haven’t listened to every song or artist on the entire list. Charts like these help gain insight into what many people are listening to and if so many others enjoy these artists, there’s a decent chance you might too.

But you don’t have to just look at what’s charting overall. There are thousands of charts available for every nation and genre available. The amount of music trending and being shared is at an all-time high, which rankings constantly shifting and trends consistently evolving over time.

It’s perfect for trying to get into a new genre as well. I know personally I was lacking a lot of music in the country genre, but thanks to Billboards lists I was able to find a few artists I really enjoyed.

  • Follow music Twitter or Instagram pages

This is a technique I recently started employing and it has worked wonders for me. All across the vast scope of the internet are heaps of individuals dedicated to something. Whether it is music, movies or games. Any form of media likely has someone working tirelessly to promote the experiences they create.

What I recommend is seeking those people out. On Twitter, on Instagram, or even on a blog like this one. I follow a variety of pages online that give out music recs every day and I always take the time to get through them. Some of my favorite albums have come from recommendations from these pages and I couldn’t be happier.

While it’s true the times are bleak, it’s always a good idea to sit back and smell the roses. Appreciate the finer things in life as they say. However, I know the same as anyone its hard to find them sometimes. Whatever medium you’re interested in go out and seek more of it. Step out of your comfort zone. Learn something new about yourself.

Stay safe, stay home and wear a damn mask.

An A.I. created a Travis Scott song

Image result for travis bott

(Authors Note: My company never posted this article I did back when it was relevant so I am archiving it here.)

A recent experiment conducted by digital agency, space150, was able to recreate the lyrical content and production style of Houston rapper Travis Scott using artificial intelligence with eerie accuracy, according to Adweek.

Ned Lambert, executive creative director at space150 explained to Adweek how the project began, “We were sort of fascinated with like, ‘What if we tried to make a song—like an actual good song—by using AI and basically creative directing AI?’” What emerged from this simple idea was “Jack Park Canny Dope Man” a single which comes very close to recreating Travis Scott’s sonic and lyrical sensibilities.

It was written by an A.I. which was fed Travis Scott lyrics for several weeks before it began spitting its own rhymes in a similar style to that of Scotts. The melodies and percussion were created using additional neural network programs similar to those that analyzed his lyrics.

However, that doesn’t mean it didn’t come with a few kinks. Lampert told Adweek, “The bot kept talking about food.” A characteristic that is still somewhat apparent in the final version of the single.

Be that as it may, the vast majority of lyrics from the aptly titled TravisBott are pretty nonsensical, to begin with. As annotated by Genius, the A.I. wrote lyrics such as, “I was the bitch on the plane (Straight up)” and, “I don’t really wanna fuck your party food” and finally “I can’t eat all on this money now.”

The voice rapping the absurd lyrics in the official single was not A.I. generated however it was actually provided by fellow Texan rapper So-So Topic. According to the rappers Twitter, he said, “…lil clarification: an AI bot “listened” to 60 Travis Scott songs, then reproduced a 10,000 line song in his style that was then narrowed down to a 5-min cut of illegible lyrics. I got to observe and it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever been a part of. I’m rapping the lyrics.”

Lampert explained to Adweek the company had chosen Travis Scott because, “he is just such a unique artist and he has a unique sound and everything sort of has an aesthetic to it, both audibly and visually.” Perhaps some of that initial wonder has withered since the creation of this single but one thing is clear to Lampert, “the tech is not ready to handle a creative project on its own without some heavy human supervision.”

Regardless of its shortcomings “Jack Park Canny Dope Man” is a technical marvel and opens a new world of possibilities waiting to be explored.

The single is available on most streaming platforms and an official music video featuring a glitchy deepfake version of Travis Scott is accessible on space150’s official Vimeo.

A short thesis on Joji’s newest single “Run”

Image result for joji run“Run” is the newest single from 88rising poster boy, Joji. It released following a ten day-period of teasers from the enigmatic singer/songwriter. Last Thursday morning a music video for the single was also released featuring a muted blue color palette and visuals seemingly taken from Joji’s previous music videos.

The single, on paper, seems like it’s standard fare for Joji. Its lyrical content is very similar to that of his debut record BALLADS1. It’s tinged with the same melancholic tone and delivery however, its production is far more nuanced.

Its initial guitar riff interpolates elements from a Metallica song called “Nothing Else Matters” off of their fifth studio album commonly referred to as their “Black Album”. What is most interesting about this choice is its possible implication. The Black Album was one of Metallica’s most controversial as it signaled a shift in genre for the band. Many purists weren’t receptive to the change, however, critics lauded it as their best work.

It would seem Joji is going through a similar change in style. Over time Joji has moved on from his early lo-fi hip-hop influence and bloomed into more of an alternative pop artist. Some fans have expressed their distaste for the sudden shift in tone and often make fun of his dramatic transformation from his Filthy Frank persona into the singer he is today.

“Run” is all of those feelings incarnated into a single track. It expertly blends rock and pop elements and has the Osaka-born crooners best vocal performance since “Slow Dancing in the Dark.”

Whatever this single means for Joji, one thing is very clear; it’s just the beginning.

Why Jeffery Epstein will always be a conspiracy theory.

Image result for jeffrey epsteinJeffery Epstein was an American financier with ties to President Donald Trump and former president Bill Clinton as well as a plethora of other powerful individuals. He is also a known and convicted sex offender. On Aug. 10th Epstein, while awaiting his trial for sex trafficking charges in a Manhattan jail, was found dead.

This was not his first brush with crime however, back in 2007 Epstein was indicted and later convicted of sexual assault of a minor as well as solicitation of a prostitute. However, unlike most other sex offenders in the state of Florida, where he lived at the time, Epstein was given special privileges. Instead of prison, Epstein was admitted to a private wing of the Palm Beach County stockade. If that didn’t make matters worse he rarely ever spent time in a cell and was actually allowed to work at his West Palm Beach office twelve hours a day.

By the end of it, Epstein only had to serve 13 months of an 18-month sentence before being let go on house arrest, thanks to a plea deal set by our ex-secretary of labor Alexander Acosta. Acosta claimed he had no clue of the liberal treatment Epstein was provided but records show that all federal prosecutes that were under his authority were very aware of the circumstances and demands.

What followed immediately after were a large slough of sexual assault charges levied at Epstein from his alleged previous victims. Eventually, he was arrested once again on sex trafficking charges and promptly held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City. While under investigation a considerable amount of damaging evidence of sex trafficking. He was charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex. He was also denied bail by US District Judge Richard M. Berman who posited that Epstein posed a serious danger to new victims due to his “uncontrollable” sexual fixation on young girls. He also feared  Epstein was a serious flight risk and might use it to flee prosecution.

Of course, Epstein never actually had the chance to be prosecuted, because he died in his cell at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center. It was alleged he had killed himself using nothing but a jail bedsheet. He was supposed to be checked up on regularly due to a previous attempt he made on his own life, however, the guards who were in charge had fallen asleep while making their rounds.

Jeffery Epstein will never face the trial.

This is a summary of what is currently accepted as the true story of what happened to Epstein. However, the details are shaky at best and come from a smorgasbord of sources all of which with varying levels of reputability. Of course, with there being conflicting accounts and misinformation rampant, the case of Epstein is a very difficult one. Among its many instances of foul play its given ways to one of the 2019’s hottest conspiracies. The question of whether Epstein did or did not kill himself is a point of contention for many. It’s implications even more so.

So let’s talk about conspiracy theories. Head on over to Merriam Webster and they will tell you a conspiracy theory is “a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.” This is the official definition we will be running with for the duration of this article.

The possibility of foul play or a “secret plot” surrounding the events of Epstein’s death arose not long after he was pronounced dead. The Post unveiled a story on Aug. 11 focusing on a former NYC jail inmate. In said story, the inmate said there was “no way” Epstein was able to kill himself while incarcerated. At the same time, another article this time on CNN reported that Epstein’s death would be looked into, as per the request of Attorney General William Barr.

This is essentially what lit the fuse on the whole debacle. Afterward, several new discoveries were made that all had to do with Epstein’s supposed suicide.  Medical examiners found evidence that many believed to be more consistent with strangulation rather than hanging. Regardless, medical examiners in New York City officially ruled his death as a suicide on Aug. 16. However, this answer is not sufficient for many and a private investigation is still ongoing.

So whats this investigation trying to prove? We are aware that they believe Epstein didn’t kill himself but what does that really mean? It would seem everyone has their own take on the matter. What makes this case so compelling is the number of connections Epstein made during his trudge through life. What business does a convicted sex trafficker have with President Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew?

The short answer is, we will never know, but many have used this information to support their own unfounded conclusions. Some think he was killed to be silenced, others think he was forced to kill himself and so on and so forth. The running theory or joke, depending on who you are, is that Epstein didn’t kill himself.

So let’s analyze a few pieces of “damning” evidence people have used to “prove” Epstein didn’t kill himself.

For one, the official autopsy of Epstein reported a break in the hyoid bone. A U shaped bone positioned between the skull and postcranial skeleton. Some have used this to say that there is evidence of strangulation. However, CNN makes it clear that the bone can be broken in either case, whether it’s homicidal strangulation or suicide. The fact that it is more often broken in a homicide is neither here nor there, it’s a small detail irrelevant to the manner of death.

Many often cite the lack of camera footage as proof for there being foul play regarding the death of Epstein. Reuters actually reported two cameras positioned outside Epstiens cell mysteriously malfunctioned. However, tampering is actually a common occurrence in prisons and jails among inmates aside from this one instance. Videosurveillance.com makes this very clear: “There exists a risk that inmates will attempt to tamper with a facility’s security equipment. While many prisons use tamper-resistant cameras to cope with this problem, there’s always a possibility that a camera will be damaged and lose its signal.”

Again there are pages of possible malfunctions and issues revolving around tampering listed in official documents about security cameras released by correctional facilities. Obviously, it’s a big enough issue in prisons and not uncommon for a camera to malfunction randomly due to tampering or some other form of manipulation whether Epstein was there or not.

Finally, let’s go over the most interesting piece of evidence: the security guards. Two security guards were meant to check up one Epstein every thirty minutes due to previous behaviors. However, both accidentally fell asleep while doing their rounds. During this time is when Epstein killed himself.

To debunk this allow me to take you back to seventh-grade science class. The scientific method is an empirical method of study meant to test a hypothesis. A hypothesis is based on observable phenomena and can be proven or disproven using rigorous testing. On the flip side, we have conspiracy theories that begin with a conclusion and scramble for any information to prove their idea, substantial or not. This is also a demonstration of a common cognitive bias found in people.

The confirmation bias states that people tend to listen more often to information that confirms the beliefs they already have. Through this bias, people tend to favor information that confirms their previously held beliefs. If you keep telling yourself Epstein didn’t kill himself, of course, you’re going to find information that “proves” he didn’t. This manner of thinking throws the scientific method completely out the window. Beginning with your conclusion may net you lots of evidence but you have no idea how to differentiate between that and conjecture.

I didn’t have to explain why those pieces of evidence were wrong because the whole thing was wrong from the beginning. To agree with this conspiracy, you would also have to agree with a plethora of other instances inconsistent with reality. I could have released this article back when this topic was still relevant because I purposely wanted to wait for the trend to die down. Now that it’s no longer funny to say “Epstein didn’t kill himself” I think we can all focus on the raw facts here.

So there you have it. While Epstein may be dead, the case has not been allowed to rest. With several of his alleged victims filing lawsuits toward his estate, it would seem old habits die hard.