I wrote something new but it isn’t here.

As some of you may know Evan “Burning the Celluloid” Ambrose and I are pretty good friends. His website primarily focuses on critiquing the film industry. While I focus on analyzing music and other forms of media.

For a while now, we’ve wanted to write something together. Evan proposed a so-called duo-review. While I still don’t consider myself a reviewer, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk about BROCKHAMPTON’s newest album. Evan and I have such differing views on music and different approaches to writing so I believe the article has a lot to offer for people on all sides of the viewing spectrum.

The review is up on Evan’s website and I will leave a link to it below. There’s a lot of hot takes and fun banter throughout the review. I had a blast creating it with Evan.

Aside from that, I have a few articles and interviews that are set to come out in the near future. I’m already working on my top albums of the year list too. Stay tuned.

The Review.

Disney Vs Sony: The harm of public opinion

spiderman far from home box officeIt was recently announced by Deadline that, beloved Marvel character, Spider-Man would no longer be present in the MCU due to legal issues with Sony. Since the Sam Raimi trilogy of Spider-Man films back in the mid-2000s Sony has owned all film rights for the usage of the Spider-Man character. However, in order to include Spider-Man in the MCU, Disney, who owns Marvel Studios, made an agreement with Sony. Up until now that agreement had long stood and carried them into Spider-Man: Far From Home.

The deal was simple and went something like this: Marvel would only attain 5 percent of first-dollar gross. So that initial box office day Sony receives an overwhelming amount of that. It seems like a bad deal until you realize that their agreement also meant that Disney would get one hundred percent of all merchandise sales. Which if Frozen was any indicator means that Disney would receive adequate compensation for the usage of the Spider-Man property.

Now after the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home and the announcement of the fourth phase of the MCU, Disney came back for a new deal which ultimately shook their creative ties with Sony. Disney’s new deal entailed a fifty-fifty co-financing arrangement between the studios. However, seeing that Spider-Man: Far From Home had just become Sony’s highest-grossing film of all time, they obviously declined the offer entirely. So now it would seem that all future MCU endeavors would have to continue without Spider-Man and any film using that IP would no longer include Kevin Feige as the lead producer.

However, this isn’t the only messy part of the story. Sony Pictures took to twitter to tie up a few loose ends and explain their thoughts on the matter specifically about Feige. The internet wasn’t ecstatic about it, to say the least. The hashtag “SaveSpidey” is now trending on twitter guided by a large group of people that have no idea what they’re actually talking about. Many are quick to villanize Sony for their apparent lack of understanding but simply just taking a step back to analyze the situation further will make the situation more clear.

Firstly, its about money for both sides. Many are claiming Sony is greedy simply because they didn’t want to extend the deal toward Disney more than they already were but one has to understand that this deal has stood for as long as Spider-Man has been in the MCU. That’s a three-year deal Disney was trying to completely flip on its head right after Spider-Man: Far From Home became Sony’s top-grossing film since Skyfall back in 2012. It’s astonishingly obvious why Sony would be hesitant about sharing their most valuable property.

Secondly, Sony has always owned Spider-Man. The Sam Raimi trilogy of Spider-Man films is essentially what kicked off the superhero film craze that has since become an industry standard. They got to the property first and did it playing square. It is their property which they are licensing out to another company. What they’re doing isn’t slimy or corrupt, it’s business.

Thirdly, it was Disney’s decision not to continue the deal and Feige’s to leave. There were plenty of negotiations that could have been met but Disney was simply not interested in that. It was reported in the Deadline exclusive that, Sony representatives did attempt to make configurations to their original deal, likely ones that would have accommodated their already established agreement. However, those were declined as well. So they reached an impasse and Disney ultimately dropped out and Feige severed ties with Sony himself. All due to the fact that they couldn’t take half of a property they never owned, to begin with.

It’s incredibly easy to shift the blame on to an unpopular company. Sony, who completely failed with their Spider-Man reboot back in 2012 and 2014, hasn’t received the best press since and isn’t the only offender in this situation. I implore everyone to look at the finer details before judging the two companies. Is Sony the lazy money-hungry entity trying to take credit for another company work or are they simply trying to take control of a property they own from an industry powerhouse that already owns many others? Well, that’s really up for you to decide, because with great power comes great responsibility.

Euphoria and its characters analyzed by a former high schooler.

Image result for euphoriaEuphoria is another one of those, teenage centric, celebrity produced, originals that, in the same vein as 13 Reasons Why, attempts to capture the true wonder and mystery of adolescence. Over the span of a few months, its garnered a very large fanbase and many are calling it one of the most brutally honest depictions of teenage life on television. While I beg to differ since this show was created by a man who hasn’t been in high school in 16 years, beneath all the dramatization there are a few painful truths that lie beneath.

Based on an Israeli series of the same name, Euphoria was created by Samuel Levinson, an American actor, screenwriter, and director.  Much of the show was based on the original series as it prominently features teens struggling with a life that mainly consists of drugs use and sex. However, Levinson’s personal struggles with drug abuse during his formative years also served as inspiration for those sections. That is the main crux of the story. The drug abuse, the misery that is bound to come with it, the struggles of attempting to quit, and the despair of failing several times.

When asked by an ATX representative about what separates Euphoria from the ongoing slew of dark, teenage melodramas, Levinson gave a non-commital answer saying he believed it was up to the audience to find their own answer. While this isn’t necessarily false it’s definitely unsatisfactory. So in an effort to defend a show I genuinely enjoyed, I will attempt to answer this question as well as how it holds up against actual contemporary highschool.

Firstly no, Euphoria is not the most realistic depiction of teenage life. It nails some things, completely misfires on others, and at some points just barely misses its mark. I will always maintain that the most realistic depiction of teen life is one that will actually cast teens as its lead actors. However, what Euphoria manages to ger right are typically what matters most to its central plot. Let’s discuss that first.

The drug addiction elements are right. The main character, Rue, throughout the show faces the ongoing challenge of substance abuse. The pain her family, friends and fellow NA members feel are very much indicative of how their real-life counterparts feel. Most people around me ended up falling into drugs during my high school life and along with them, I was forced to suffer the consequences. It’s the most gripping part of the story and therefore is most informed by real-life experience. I was never stupid enough to fall into such tendencies so my experience was very similar to Maude Apatow’s character Lexi Howard.

Lexi is a bystander, silently watching, and sometimes subject to the antics her drug-crazed, hormone influenced friends and family often find themselves getting into. She’s the one with the least amount of issues on the show and is also my favorite character. One may call her lazily written but there are a lot more Lexi’s out there than one would think. In the last episode, her character starts to get deconstructed which is all too real. She is mainly seen interacting with Rue despite the fact that her older sister, Cassie, is another prominent character in the show.

Cassies struggle has to do with her reputation and how her life is affected by it, which is another pretty realistic part of the show. During the show, she dates another character Mckay who just so happens to be in college. This is pretty common in high school but the most faithful facet of it has to do with how Cassie is typecast. She has to deal with the “slut” stereotype and because of that, she is treated differently by most men in the show. It’s somewhat painful watching this character interpreted. The only other couple on the show is Nate and Maddy which encapsulates the on again off again abusive couple. From their relationship derives the internal struggles between both of them characters which are pretty real in themselves.

I suppose if there was one thing that the show really struggled with it was with its writing. Toward the last stretch of episodes, the writing really begins to unravel and reveal awkward plot elements and holes. What Euphoria fights with the most is a classic case of “people don’t talk like that” or in this case “teenagers don’t talk like that.” While it may sound like I’m generalizing a lot here there really are some moments where the kids don’t really talk like kids.

I understand that there are some liberties that have to be taken as an adult writing for youths. However, some moments are utterly uncharacteristic. I do like that each character has their own level articulation, in the sense that some are very clearly more eloquent than others. However, in some cases, this has put Levinson into a corner and at times he’s had to make some characters more rational than they should be. Personally, I think Rue shouldn’t be as intelligent as she is in the show. She’s a drug-addicted teenager who as far as I know never excelled in school. While that doesn’t necessarily inform social ability as far as I’m concerned she should be grunting to communicate. It’s especially annoying during her moments of narration, she speaks like she’s reading off a script and not like she’s coming up with these thoughts herself.

I understand the initial question I posed was what made Euphoria stand out among its contemporaries however I wanted to explain those things before I answered it. I think what sets Euphoria apart from other shows like it, is that unlike them it doesn’t feel like a product. 13 Reasons Why has a commercial purpose, it attempted to jackpot off the current trivialized view of depression society has. On the other hand, Euphoria is very much a story personally tied with Samuel Levinson. Yes, it’s based off another show but Levinson purposely parallelled his life to it in order not to muddle its artistic integrity.

Euphoria isn’t a cautionary tale about drug abuse, although one could certainly take it that way. It’s more so telling the story that’s gripped its creator since their childhood. Look at the artistic choices in the show, its cinematography and focus on spectacle rather than the message. Even the last episode, despite being structurally faulty, the very final scene is so stylishly flared that its impossible to not recognize the passion and heart behind it. Euphoria is this surreal package that is just as confusing as the point of your life that it focuses on. It’s a good illustration of the simple fact that for as long as time continues to tick, the mystery of adolescence remains a mystery.

YBN Cordae releases much-anticipated debut album The Lost Boy

Image result for the lost boyAfter being inducted into this year’s XXL Freshman list Cordae has been riding off his newfound popularity and finally released a full-length album. Cordae has been trying to set himself apart from the current scape of contemporary rappers and focuses on introspective existential, lyrical music. In his XXL interview, he cited New York rapper, Big L as one of his greatest influences due to the fact his wordplay was so advanced. Just from the few singles, he had released before the album it was already clear he was quickly mastering this lyrical style of rapping.

While rappers like Earl Sweatshirt, Joyner Lucas, and Milo have come to define the contemporary form of lyrical rapping YBN Cordae finds himself sitting comfortably between them while still maintaining his unique charm. His rhyme schemes are complex but not impossible to follow. He can tell a deep story without seeming preachy. His punchlines are anticipated but never overstay their welcome. He harkens back to a time in hip-hop that many have expressed desires to return to.

Even when accompanied by well-established artists like Chance the Rapper and Pusha T Cordae still holds his own and never loses control of his song. He understands fully that this is his album and above all else, he is the focus. This point is very noticeable when you get down to the theme’s Cordae introduces throughout the album.

He doesn’t hesitate to get personal on this record, he frequently mentions his late grandmother and on “Family Matters” tells the many intricate yet depressing tales of his family. Once again in his XXL interview, he reveals that being a freshman was part of his vision and for a year he worked to achieve it. This record is the fruits of his labor and a testament to his longevity as an artist.

The Lost Boy is the best way to do a debut record. It’s unrelenting, personal, and most of all it’s a clear depiction of the creative direction he’s moving in as an artist.

The Lost Boy is available on Apple Music, Spotify, and most other music platforms.

Donald Trump vows to free A$AP Rocky

Image result for donald trump and asap rockyIn an unorthodox turn of events, President Donald Trump recently announced on social media his plans to help exonerate rapper A$AP Rocky from Swedish authorities. It all started earlier this month on July 3rd when he was arrested on suspicion of assault. He has been held in Swedish prison for over two weeks and now prosecutors have until the 25th to decide whether they want to charge him or not. If things go array the New York rapper could be looking at a long sentence.

This news shook the internet and caused forces from all over the country banded together to vindicate Rocky. One notable celebrity Kim Kardashian used her white house connections and on July 18th tweeted “Thank you @realDonaldTrump, @SecPompeo, Jared Kushner & everyone involved with the efforts to Free ASAP Rocky & his two friends. Your commitment to justice reform is so appreciated.”

The story continued to spiral and just today President Trump from his official twitter said, “Just spoke to @KanyeWest about his friend A$AP Rocky’s incarceration. I will be calling the very talented Prime Minister of Sweden to see what we can do about helping A$AP Rocky. So many people would like to see this quickly resolved!”

So it would seem this event will be coming to a close soon. With so many powerful forces at play its only natural, this dispute will be solved momentarily. Just hope that guys headphones were worth it.

UPDATE: JULY 25th

The deadline for the prosecutors has been reached and A$AP Rocky has been charged with assault and could be facing up to two years in Swedish prison. The trial date has not been set but is likely going to be happening very soon.

Donald Trump returned to Twitter to lash out at Swedish authorities. In a short series of tweets, Trump wrote, “Very disappointed in Prime Minister Stefan Löfven for being unable to act. Sweden has let our African American Community down in the United States. I watched the tapes of A$AP Rocky, and he was being followed and harassed by troublemakers. Treat Americans fairly! #FreeRocky.” The tread continues, “Give A$AP Rocky his FREEDOM. We do so much for Sweden but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Sweden should focus on its real crime problem! #FreeRocky.”

Following this thread, some people have started to put A$AP in their twitter handles in support of A$AP Rocky. This is truly an unfortunate turn of events.

UPDATE: AUGUST 2nd

As of today, A$AP Rocky has been released from Swedish prison.

Forbes video reveals hundreds of new Yeezy samples

Today the popular American business magazine: Forbes released an article and video detailing the process behind the creation of Kanye West’s Yeezy line. In said video, hundreds of Yeezy samples were shown in the classic sneaker wheel format. Among them were some unreleased Yeezys yet to be officially announced and or released.

Yeezy 350 V3
Yeezy 451
Yeezy Basketball

Aside from that, the video is incredibly interesting. Kanye West is an incredibly fascinating artist who’s known for his vibrant and sometimes off-kilter personality. However, the video itself doesn’t focus much on him but his creations. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual publicity he’s been known to receive to the past. While some of his quirks still manage to rear its way into his interactions with the interviewer it’s equally as easy to pick up on the passion he speaks with as he reminisces about the Yeezy line.

Once again, Kanye thanks the popular anime film Akira for inspiring the creation of the Yeezy brand but he also cites the Lamborgini as another big influence. He even goes as far as to call the Yeezy “the Lamborgini of shoes.” When asked about numbers Kanye responded with “I’m not a numbers guy” and then launched into a long-winded speech about how you cant calculate the love you feel when creating something by using a complicated metaphor about the interviewer’s grandmother.

The article and video are strangely entertaining and getting to new Yeezy’s up close and personal are very exciting. Hopefully, the world will get to see these models relatively soon. We are running on Kanye time after all.

The full article can be found here: Kanye’s Second Coming: Inside The Billion-Dollar Yeezy Empire

Ari Aster returns with folk horror film: Midsommar

midsommar_header.jpgInspired by a recent breakup Ari Aster has unveiled the follow up to his directorial debut film; Hereditary with an equally disturbing cult horror film simply titled: Midsommar. The film treads slightly different ground from his previous focusing entirely on an unsettling cult hidden deep within the Swedish forest. It’s in a similar vein to the cult seen at the end of Hereditary except they’re much more gruesome and frightening.

The film tackles themes of grief and the many struggles associated with a relationship. The film itself is very much as Aster describes it, “a breakup movie.” Whereas Hereditary focused on the horrors associated with family Midsommar takes a much more personal approach and focuses on two characters who are dating.

Once again, much like Hereditary Aster uses these dynamics in order to deconstruct them as a whole and for a second time, every young character seems to be really into drugs.

Throughout the film, the main couple, Dani and Christian, struggle with their intrinsic differences. The audience watches as their relationship slowly unravels before them all culminating into an astonishing climax and ending.

It’s everything you’d expect from a cult horror film but much more. Ari Aster’s cinematography and writing sensibilities seem to only get better with everything he sets his mind to. Lucky for cinema his time of filmmaking has only begun.

Midsommar is playing in theaters right now.

Daniel Caesar releases surprise album CASE STUDY 01

daniel-caesar-case-study-01-1200x642.jpegSince the release of his debut album, Freudian, Daniel Caesar has remained relatively quiet. Back in October of 2018, he released the single “Who Hurt You” featuring T-Pain which confirmed his improving sound and longevity within the music industry. The very same month, he was also featured very prominently on The Free Nationals single; “Beauty and Essex.” While these tracks were good indicators of Caesar’s growth as a singer and as a songwriter there were no leads as to when a new project from the Canadian singer would release.

Then, with no prior warning, on June 24th, 2019 Caesar announced on Twitter a special show in Los Angeles limited to the first 200 guests that arrived. In the days following, Caesar would then announce the title along with the release date of his new project. Attached was a cryptic video of a man in what appears to be a space suit walking in the desert with an audio excerpt of an interview with physician J. Robert Oppenheimer discussing the very first nuclear device. This same audio snippet appears at the beginning of the opening track of CASE STUDY 01 simply titled, “ENTROPY.”

The album itself marks a much more mature and calculated interpretation of existentialist and sexual themes. Daniel Caesar still uses jazz-infused hip-hop to carry his stellar vocals but he experiments a little more on this album with some lo-fi influenced elements and singer-songwriter guitar leads. Caesar also uses several scientific terms in order to set the thematic basis for numerous tracks on this record. For instance, one track is titled “SUPERPOSITION” which is a scientific principle where when two waves interact they have the chance to combine to make each other bigger, cancel each other out, or most commonly both. He uses this concept in the song as a way of explaining his own reason for living and by extent life itself. One could say the central idea of this record is that Caesar is using his life and experiences as a case study for these scientific phenomena and his songs are simply the conclusions of his analysis.

Daniel Caesar’s exponential development as a musician reverberates heavily throughout this record and cements Caesar as one of the most significant players in the RnB music scene. CASE STUDY 01 is available on Apple Music, Spotify, and most other music platforms.

Death Grips returns to their roots with an enigmatic new EP

After their latest album Year of the Snitch released back in June of 2018 the iconic experimental hip-hop trio: Death Grips has finally released some new music fans can sink their teeth into. It all started when they were announced as special guests on Warp Record’s new music event”WXAXRXP.” This lead fans to speculate that the California-based group would finally be unveiling something brand new after the success that was Year of the Snitch. The album was praised for being truly experimental and uncompromising and after its success fans were eager to see how the group would reinvent themselves once again.

It would seem good things really do come to those who wait because on June 21st Death Grips debut 30-Minutes of unreleased music on NTS Radio as part of their special guest appearance. It was labeled as a special show interestingly titled Gmail and The Restraining Orders. This is previously unheard of content and for many, it seems to house some of Death Grips’ most notable work to date.

One commenter by the name of “King Nothing” on youtube noted the EP’s nostalgic appeal and remarked, “I feel like I’m listening to Death grips for the first time again” much to the agreement of several others. A few others claimed that the trio also seemed to use samples from a lot of the cuts off of one of their previous albums Fashion Week and also Government Plates. However, one of the most fascinating statements that were made was one by a commenter named “olive” which merely said, “I have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ll be hearing from death grips this year.”

One can only hope, but for now, you can listen to this masterpiece of an EP on youtube.