Raury, east Atlanta, singer, rapper, songwriter, producer, really does everything. He has recently found a lot of success with his music. He’s gotten backing from big names such as Outkast, Mac MIller, and Kanye West. I first heard about Raury through my job at Urban Outfitters; he performed at one of their locations for free. The first comment I heard about Raury from one of my coworkers was “He is opening for Outkast.” It piqued my interest but unfortunately this project doesn’t really give me a clear idea as to why he has had the success he’s had. His debut project “Indigo Child” has a mild, spacey, and really chill atmosphere. The opening track “War (Part One)” starts with some really hard drums that just bang. I really vibe with the frame of mind the beat puts you in. It fills you with energy and gets you moving. It reminds of a war cry, which probably alludes the title alludes to. But even so, the track seems kind of corny to me. The idea of standing together as youth is very empowering; however when Raury says it, it does not come across that way to me. The next track “God’s Whisper” may be his most famous song, and perhaps my favorite song. Raury uses tribal drums that just resonate with me, along with hand claps and an acoustic guitar. I really just love it. The vocals on this track are wonderful. I also like his chanting chorus, it’s sort of kumbuyaish. I do like the lyrics also; they are really positive and uplifting. I just don’t like way he delivers his verses. I don’t think his delivery does the lyrics justice; however that does not stop this song from being really enojoyable. Another noteworthy song was “Superfly.” I enjoyed the delivery of his lyrics on this track. I think I still like “God’s Whisper” better but the delivery was much smoother on this track. The melody is really easy-going and just beautiful to listen to. Raury’s change of pace for this verse was nice also. Even though “Superfly” is a little more lovey dovey than the music I usually listen to I still enjoyed it very much. The song “Chariots of Fire” was really interesting. It’s so out of place on this album. I had to check and make sure I had not clicked on another link by mistake. He makes it very apparent that he draws inspiration from Michael Jackson on this song, which is not a bad thing, but it is rather blatant. The chorus reminds me of the song “Beat It” by Michael Jackson for some reason. It isn’t a bad song by any means; it’s just oddly placed. The track “Woodcrest Manor” shows Raury’s lack of experience when it comes to storytelling. The beat sets a nice vibe for the song. The atmosphere of the song is the only highlight of this track unfortunately. The story that Raury tells, or rather, tries to tell, is not really compelling. It doesn’t really pull me in the way I would have liked it to. Finally we have the closing track “Seven Suns”. I heard Raury say in an interview that this was this was his favorite song on his entire project. I felt the exact opposite. In my opinion it was the most mundane of experiences. I don’t really have anything positive to say about this song; it was too long and not nearly as interesting as he wanted it to be. Overall, this felt like a middle of the road project. It’s obvious that he’s not very experienced and has room to grow. His delivery needs a lot of work; on a lot of his songs he came off as very uninteresting. That really vexed me because the themes on this project seemed to be really positive, complex, and intriguing. After listening to this project, I’m more interested to just sit down and have a conversation with the young artist rather than listen to his music. He is a talented artist but his debut project did not showcase that talent very well. I’m looking forward to the growth of the young Atlanta artist very much so. I expect a lot from him just based on the complex themes he was able to present on this project.
I had never heard of Raury before I saw two of my friends posing with him on Instagram, congratulating him on his success. And I didn’t decide to listen to him until Kamal recommended him for our blog. I’m shocked that I hadn’t heard more about him. When I searched for his latest tape “Indigo Child” on Google, he comes up on the NME and Complex sites. He could be on the cusp of stardom. But, about Indigo Child. It’s a mellow, introspective project. Four of the tracks are clips of Raury arguing with his mother. The two of them struggle with the idea of Raury devoting himself entirely to his music. Lost love is also a prominent theme. But, true to its name, Indigo Child addresses lost love from a spiritual perspective. Raury names the universe itself as an influence on he and his lover(s). Raury also takes sonic cues from the universe, trying to align his energy with that of mother nature. The tape seems less about lyricism and more about an overall vibe. The parts during which Raury provides vocals are brief and unfocused at times. I thought Raury was a rapper. He is not. That didn’t disappoint me though. I was very entertained by the tape. However, I would prefer to just have the beats. I could do without the vocals (from Raury and guests). That is a personal preference, not a shot at Raury’s musicality. I think he is a talented musician. His sound is very, very unique, especially considering he’s from Atlanta. “Chariots of Fire” is a standout because of its more aggressive rock sound. The final track “Seven Suns” is a dramatic, arena-rock denouement that was very appropriate for a moody, indigo EP such as this. “Woodcrest Manor” is my favorite though. The beat is just lovely: light, airy, relaxing. The tape’s themes don’t speak to me but that’s okay. I can definitely say I enjoyed it and I will continue to listen to Raury. I’m interested in how he will evolve as a musician.
"Output Intake" was a lot better than I expected. I am glad to hear some entertaining music from upcoming Atlanta artists. Kap G delivers a good enough pair of verses; this is probably one of the better songs I’ve heard him featured on. However, Scott Varsity outshines him on this track and rightfully so, since it is Scott’s song. Scotty V had a couple of witty lines that made me laugh. The last part of the song where it goes into this slowed distorted sound was not needed at all though. Other than that, I enjoyed the song and look forward to music from Scott Varsity.
Scott Varsity’s big release “Output Intake” is not an impressive track by any means. But it’s not bad. Kap G’s flow managed to entertain. Varsity himself is, at the very least, energetic and in touch with his fellow local upandcomers. The beat is simple, but smooth. I’d be willing to listen to more of Varsity in the future.
This is the second project I’ve listened to from Curtis Williams, the first being “Half Forgotten Dreams.” He has definitely improved since then in my opinion. The most potent skill that shines through on this project from Curtis is his flow. It seems like he is able to ride the beat seamlessly. So even when he does not come through with hard hitting lyrics, the pace of his lyrics makes up for it. Like on the track “Watch,” the vocals are intertwined really well throughout the entire track. Curtis also proves he is able to rap about more than just doing drugs even if it’s only briefly. He comes through with a few interesting bars about how he is not caught up in money because he knows his success is coming and so money is not as important. Overall, it is a really solid track. Then you have the song “NothinLikeUs” which is another one of the better tracks in my opinion. Again, I have to applaud him on his ability to deliver a verse that fits the beat quite perfectly. His Two9 counterpart Key! also comes though with an interesting verse, but for different reasons. The inflection in his voice is what catches my attention; it’s deep and weezy sounding, not particularly bad, just different. Danny Seth finishes the track. His British accent doesn’t hold him back on this verse, and he is able to come through with a solid feature on this project. The album’s titular track “Danco James” is one of the few songs where I find myself really enjoying the hook, not that the other hooks are so bad, they just aren’t really as catchy as this one and that of the song “Cheech & Chong”, which is perhaps my favorite song. I think this feature was perfect for Juicy J. Curtis comes through with one of his most entertaining verses on this project. Project Pat even delivers a decent verse, despite my dislike for southern accents. Curtis also performs well on the track “Little Bit”. He diverges from the druggy rap again briefly to talk about how he is still the same person even with the success he is having and, how he made a life for himself with the little he had growing up. The track really is a breath of fresh air, just to hear a topic a little different even though I already knew what the main theme was based on the title of the project. The most notable feature Curtis has is from Wiz Khalifa. He comes through with an ok hook; I don’t really ever expect much from Wiz. However, Jace really delivered a nice opening verse. I had not heard anything from him prior to this song, so I did not have high expectations. Overall I think this project was really solid and an improvement from his last tape. I enjoyed more than half of the project which was huge plus. I’m excited to hear more from the young Atlanta MC as he continues to get better.
I listened to Curtis Williams of Two9 for the first time. He’s an entertaining MC. He’s not an incredible lyricist or storyteller, nor does he pretend to be. He has an engrossing, enjoyable flow and a good ear for production. The production on his tape “Danco James” is definitely its most interesting characteristic. For example, the track “Cheech and Chong” would’ve been a favorite were it not for the annoying chorus performed by Juicy J. But the beat is very nice. Things get a little strange for me after the “Bong Interlude” but nearly all the tracks before that are likeable. “NothinLikeUs” is the favorite. Fellow Two9 MC Key! has a unique inflection that contributes nicely to the track. Normally, British rap is difficult to listen to because of the accents, but Danny Seth is tolerable on this one. Overall, I liked Danco James. It was a good tape to introduce me to Curtis Williams. I’ll be listening to the rest of his discography as well as that of Key!
We finally got around to what’s going to be the best part about this blog: art and artists from our hometown! We listened to the latest projects from Atlanta natives (from top) Raury, Curtis Williams, and Scott Varsity. Reactions to each are in separate posts. Read, react, and tell us what you think! email@example.com
Kill Your Darlings
John Krokidas’ 2013 biographical drama Kill Your Darlings stars Dane DeHaan, Daniel Radcliffe, Michael C. Hall, Ben Foster, and Jack Huston, among others. It’s a stylish production. The costumes, with the exception of Lucian’s (DeHaan) boot cut, flare, boyfriend jeans, are sharp. Some of the music has the flavor and soul of old Harlem.
The film tells the story of the birth of Allen Ginsburg (Radcliffe) as we know him. Ginsburg attends Columbia University and meets Lucien Carr, who introduces him to New York’s learned and cultured, yet rebellious, anti-establishment scene. Two other young men who inhabit this scene are William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Kerouac (Huston). Ginsburg, Burroughs, and Kerouac become pioneers of the counterculture beatnik movement of the 1940s and 50s.
The film’s most important theme is the hedonistic and self-destructive influence of some of the values that would shape the beatnik movement.
Each of the five main characters has his demons, who he indulges in different ways. David Kammerer (Michael C. Hall) is obsessed with Lucian, to the point that he is willing to follow him across the country, and the rest of the world as well, it seems. David’s love, quite literally, circles back to destroy him. Lucian is young and in love and confused. He’s in love with the New Vision, with David, with Allen, but he can’t, or won’t, access these things the way he truly wants. He cannot confront these internal conflicts. They roil and clash inside of him and come to a head in the form of his murder of David. Allen falls into this fascinating new world that Lucian presents to him, but then Lucian’s instability destroys it for everyone. Bill, Allen, and Jack don’t let the New Vision escape them though. Soon after, they would all manifest it in their writings, becoming the most successful and revered beatnik writers. Perhaps the greatest irony of the film is that its most passionate character, who started led, and most embodied the New Vision, is the one who nearly destroys it for the others and is nearly destroyed by it. Lucian, and David as well, failed to find a balance, to counter passion with reason.
Game of Thrones Season 4
Season 4 of Game of Thrones, HBO’s adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s high fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire set off at a slower pace than the previous three seasons, but at no cost to our enjoyment of the series. Season 4 introduced drastic and important developments in the lives of some the marquee residents of Westeros, including Arya, Tyrion, Jon Snow, The Hound, and many others. We’re going to revisit some of our favorite moments from the season.
The first, most important event in the season is the Purple Wedding. Joffrey, everyone’s least favorite character, was killed off in the second episode of the season, to my great surprise. Kamal wasn’t surprised though. We both wanted Joffrey to die a long and painful death though. The ever-conniving Petyr Baelish and Olenna Tyrell killed Joffrey. That wasn’t surprising. Tyrion is blamed for the murder, setting up the most important story arc of the season. Oberyn Martell is introduced as an integral part of this arc. He proved to be a fascinating and charismatic character, well-liked from his introduction until his tragic death. Though highborn, he is not at all like the other nobles in King’s Landing. Most notably, he is uninterested in (but not unwise to) court intrigue. He is also a very sexual being, and is quite overt about it.
At the end of the season, before Tyrion is spirited away with the help of Varys and Jaime, he kills his former lover Shay and his father Tywin. The latter is the most consequential death since Ned Stark’s. Tywin was a favorite character of mine, but aside from that, the most powerful man in Westeros is dead. The new king, Tommen, will lose Tywin’s brilliant mentorship and instead will receive that of his vicious, incestuous, cruel, envious mother. The Tyrell-Lannister alliance will crumble. The Iron Throne is now more susceptible than ever to outside threats. As for Shay, many people were saying that her murder was unnecessary and particularly brutal, and therefore misogynist. Kamal and I both disagreed. Firstly, Shay tried to kill Tyrion first. His murder of her was partially in self-defense. And the entire show is brutal, at all times. Tyrion generally doesn’t kill people. He was pushed into a fit of murderous rage by Shay’s betrayal and his father’s hatred. I don’t see a reason for that moment to have been singled out.
Kamal grew to like the Hound. I never could. I admire the fear he instilled in other men, and his prowess as a combatant. But I couldn’t bring myself to like him. Kamal began to like him initially when he said “fuck the king.” He was a very skilled combatant. Also, he felt that Arya began to grow fond of the Hound, and that caused him to like the Hound as well. The dynamic between the Hound and Arya was one of the most entertaining of the series. The Hound is the corrupting, but hardening and protective power of Westeros personified.
“The Watchers on the Wall” was one of the best episodes of the series. For the most part, it was only epic action, but it was absolutely beautifully done. A giant destroyed an entire archer’s balcony with his bow and arrow. An anchor cascaded across the wall, crushing Wildlings to paste. More importantly, Ygritte died. She was a beautiful character. She was red-headed and FIERCE and of course she coined the undying phrase “you know nothing Jon Snow.” As murderous as she became in her scorn, she still couldn’t loose the arrow to kill Jon Snow when she saw him inside Castle Black. Ollie shoots and mortally wounds Ygritte with an arrow. Jon Snow runs over and embraces her, and they share one final “you know nothing Jon Snow.” As textbook as the moment was, I thought it was beautiful. Ollie killing Ygritte was such a shock, if they foreshadowed her death somehow, I was completely unaware. After the wildlings were defeated on the first night, the one true king of Westeros rides in and defeats the wildling army. Mance Rayder surrenders. So, Stannis isn’t a little bitty shrimp dip anymore.
Ramsay is one helluva character. His penchant for cruelty and violence is second perhaps only to the Mountain. He broke the bitch-made traitor Theon Greyjoy and turned him into a reeking sausage biscuit thrall. I like Lord Bolton. He’s cold, ruthless, and cunning like Tywin Lannister. I also like House Bolton’s history of flaying their enemies. And the name of their castle, the Dreadfort. Kamal doesn’t like him because he betrayed House Stark, his favorite great house. I tried to sympathize with Theon at first. He is a Greyjoy. But Ned Stark raised him like his own son, never once being cruel or unfair. Theon came up short in everything thereafter: as a leader, as a warrior, as a fucksman (his stroke weak).
Daenerys Stormborn, the Unburnt, heir to the Targrayen throne, and everyone’s second-favorite character, took a number of blows to her regime this season. The most important of which is the loss of Jorah Mormont, her earliest and most trusted advisor. Originally, Jorah was spying on Khaleesi for Varys in exchange for being pardoned for slave trading. He abandoned that charge after falling in love with YungGaryen. However, DuhDuh is not willing to forgive him. She discharges him from her camp. Is there any way Jorah could have softened the blow of that revelation? Telling her himself would have been better. But would there have been an optimal time? It seemed to be a lose-lose situation either way. Jorah was a vital strength of hers. He was wise, skilled, and loyal. His loss could prove to be a downfall in seasons to come.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the sequel to 2011’s sci-fi blockbuster Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring James Franco and directed by Rupert Wyatt. Dawn brings an entirely new director (Matt Reeves) and cast (Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, etc.), with the exception of Andy Serkis, who returned to play Caesar. Despite shaking things up so, the film maintained the compelling themes and emotional depth of its predecessor. It wasn’t short on blow-em-up, shoot-em-up type shit either.
A distant cousin of ours proposed the devolution (of sorts) of species due to intelligence. The apes’ gaining intelligence and forming a structured society is accompanied by the ills that plague human societies: mainly the inevitability of war and the corrupting influence of power. Issues related to that inevitability and that influence form what is perhaps the film’s most important set of themes.
The film delves more into the human race’s penchant for war and hatred, even when faced with the possibility of extinction. We see some of humanity’s worst downfalls reflected in both the human and ape camps. Koba and Carver are examples of figures who’ve occurred throughout history, fueled and blinded by hatred. So much so, that they were unable to let it go even for the benefit of those they care about. Koba is a product of human conditioning though. His violent and vengeful behavior is rooted in his torture at the hands of humans, and then exacerbated by his newfound power. Koba broke the most important tenet of Ape Land: apes don’t kill apes. He threw another ape off of a balcony for defying him by refusing to kill a human. The ape-to-be-killed cited what Caesar would’ve wanted for the human prisoners: mercy. Despite the apes’ insistence on being different from humans, on abstaining from the hatred and violence that cripples humanity, Koba drags them down to that level, becoming very much like those who he so hated.
In many people, there’s a degree of inherent disgust with the apes because they’re the only species whose intelligence can rival our own. Humans feel threatened by the apes who are already physically dominant. Now they have the mental capacity to augment that strength. That feeling of being threatened is understandable to a degree, but it shouldn’t get in the way of reason or compassion.
The film sets out to remind us of two very important lessons that have gotten pushed far into the back of our minds since the end of World War II. War hasn’t been waged on a global scale in well over half a century. But it is still devastating in ways that are difficult to even conceive. And In the modern age, with our understanding of science and technology increasing ever more rapidly, putting that understanding to use for the wrong reasons (i.e., as a tool of war or for profit without thought of the consequences) can have world-ending ramifications.
The film is dark in tone. There are few happy moments. And those are overshadowed by darker ones that follow. In the end, the humans and apes are unable to reach peace. Caesar says goodbye to Malcolm and receives his primate subjects, his expression weighted with the thought of the war to come.
The latest installment of Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise is the lowest, most kitsch example of the “typical” summer blockbuster. Even the action, which was the sole purpose of the film, was overblown and ridiculous at times. Even more so than in previous installments, Michael Bay’s penchant for explosions emerging from hammerspace was the most important set piece of the film, after the Transformers themselves. Speaking of, Bay continued the unfortunate practice of getting rid of cool-looking robots from previous films without cause or explanation. He brought in a gung-ho army sergeant type robot named Hound who was tolerable. Drift, whose inexplicable Japanese voice was annoying, was very cool-looking in both robot and vehicle mode. Crosshairs wasn’t particularly likeable. Mark Wahlberg’s character Cade Yaeger wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as Shia LaBeouf’s portrayal of Sam Witwicky. He was forgettable, in my opinion. Kamal felt that he didn’t necessarily do a bad job, but that in comparison to Sam Witwicky, he paled a great deal. But I feel that he was poorly written and weakly acted period. The new eye-candy wasn’t as hot as Rosie Huntington-Whiteley or Megan Fox. She was boring. Her boyfriend’s Scottish accent wasn’t cool. Kamal didn’t like him. I could tolerate him. The film was RIFE with plot holes, like Optimus magically healing himself in the beginning, when he was supposed to be near death, requiring Yaeger’s assistance to survive. Also, at the end of the film, he acquired jets on the bottoms of his feet. Where did they come from? Who installed them? Who are the “creators”? Will y’all niggas become Perfect Cell? The plot surrounding the movie’s most important new introductions, the Dinobots, was poorly executed. At the end, Optimus Prime informs them that they’re “free” and then the run off into the sunset to crush innocent people and do other dinosaur things. The single best element of the entire film, and actually the coolest villain in the entire series, was Lockdown. His assassin-Lamborghini-holier-than-thou persona was intimidating and very enjoyable. But of course, he wasn’t enough to redeem the film. Overall, it was awful. The worst entry in the series by far.
We do not own this image or the rights thereto. It was taken from AlphaCoders.com at this URL: http://images7.alphacoders.com/512/512470.jpg