Best of 2014: Music – Best New Artist

Another year is in the books, and we here at Hush Comics couldn’t pass at the chance to rank our favorites of this year’s releases in all types of mediums. Some of the winners will surprise you; heck, some of the results surprised  us. The results are completely subjective, and therefore were chosen with infallible logic. We would love to hear your opinions on what we have chosen, or if you thought we missed anything. This should be a fun review before we gear up for 2015.

hush best of 2014
Click on the link to take you to the “Best of 2014” homepage.

Best New Artist

  • Charli XCX
  • Jhene Aiko
  • Kiesza
  • Sam Smith
  • Sia

WINNER – Sam Smith

SAM SMITH IS MY SPIRIT ANIMAL!!! After initially hearing Sam Smith for the first time with his breakout hit, “Stay With Me,” I had several thoughts. Who is this sad, sad man? How come I haven’t listened to this song 100 times by now? And, why am I crying in the shower with all my clothes on? Sam Smith brings something to the table other artists do not. Although it is more than common to sing of love, loss, and heartbreak, Sam Smith does it in the clearest most honest way I’ve heard in a long time. When hearing him sing, I don’t think to myself, “these are celebrity famous people problems,” rather these are the problems of the common man. Sam Smith brings a voice and a melody to those individuals facing the same problems, yet have no idea how to articulate it. 2014 was a little more enjoyable due to Sam Smith, let’s hope he 2015 comes with the same shine. – Evan

Second Place – Jhene Aiko

This soulful songstress first made her way into my aural cavities was on Childish Gambino’s “Pretty Toes” last year. I instantly fell in love with her voice. R&B is a barren wasteland these days. I mean sure, you have your Frank Oceans and your Janelle Monaes, but Jhene Aiko is reminiscent of when R&B was just… sexy. Though her voice is unique, I am instantly reminded of a softer version of Cassie and Amerie. Just ten years ago, a style like that was a dime a dozen, but now it is a breath of fresh air on these tired ears. – Sherif

Third Place – Kiesza

Let’s face it, guys, aside from a slew of respectable one-hit wonders, 2014 has been a pretty crappy year for new music. As I went through and listed by favorite songs of the year, I came across the music video for Kiesza’s (I’m still unsure how to pronounce the name) “Hideaway,” and I was blown away. Further into the YouTube rabbit hole we go, I found a magical journey of continual aural pleasure. This album will take you back to the early 90’s, where house music and rhythmic dance reigned supreme. It’s rare to see an artist who looks like they enjoy what they do as much as I enjoy listening it, and I hope we get to enjoy her for years more to come. Fun Fact: Kiesza has a cover of Hozier’s “Take Me To Church” that is pretty darn great. – Sherif

RUNNER UP – Sia

It wasn’t until  stood in our dining room with a 30 lb light fixture in my hands that I really appreciated Sia. As I struggled to match the pitch of “Chandelier,” or as I was wailing, “Shan-de-leh-heeeeeer,” I realized what a talented singer she was. Now, calling her a “new” artist is nothing short of a lie; the Aussie singer has been around for over a decade, morphing her style from a jazzy R&B to the popular sound that has made her an international sensation. – Sherif

RUNNER UP – Charli XCX

Charli XCX is just plain fun! I listen to “Boom Clap” nearly every morning on my way to class and that British accent is to die for. Charli XCX makes me want to dance around my room all day and the fact that she’s only two years older than I am (she’s 22)  is pretty damn impressive. With an early Madonna feel mixed with her own spooky, modern jam tone, Charli XCX’s name started to get big with her feature on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” She really blew up when she lent her song “Boom Clap” to The Fault in Our Stars‘ Soundtrack. “Boom Clap” is a fan favorite for Fault Fanatics and Nerdfighters worldwide. Released as the album’s first single, it peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also charted as number 6 on the UK Singles Chart. One thing that I found particularly interesting about Charli XCX is that she has synesthesia, meaning that she sees music in different colors. “I love music that’s black, pink, purple or red – but I hate music that’s green, yellow or brown.” Whatever color her music is, I absolutely love it. – Charlotte

Next Category: Album of the Year

Best of 2014: Music – Best Movie Soundtrack

Another year is in the books, and we here at Hush Comics couldn’t pass at the chance to rank our favorites of this year’s releases in all types of mediums. Some of the winners will surprise you; heck, some of the results surprised  us. The results are completely subjective, and therefore were chosen with infallible logic. We would love to hear your opinions on what we have chosen, or if you thought we missed anything. This should be a fun review before we gear up for 2015.

hush best of 2014
Click on the link to take you to the “Best of 2014” homepage.

Best Movie Soundtrack

  • Chef
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
  • Wish I Was Here

WINNER – Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol 1

Guardians of the Galaxy definitely had the best soundtrack of the year, and the best part of that is that it didn’t include a single song that was produced or released in 2014. All of the songs on Star Lord’s Awesome Mix: Volume 1 gave so much more life to the movie (not that it really needed it) and the fact that it’s only the first volume of what must be a series is hilarious, AND that it’s comprised of music that seemingly was made a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is just awesome. If anything, the Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack did its part for pop culture this year by hopefully introducing an entire generation of One Direction fans to the glories of classic rock. Oh how I long for the days when the sounds that came out of the radio qualified as music… – Keriann

Second Place – Chef

Nothing has made me happier and more inspired in 2014 than this soundtrack. Every time I am in a bit of a rut creatively, I throw on this album, and I am instantly productive. Like in the film, the music reflects the happiness that Chef Casper feels throughout the film as he does what he loves. It’s also incredibly diverse, as the flavor (haaa) of each genre in the soundtrack is the reflection of whichever city they are traveling to, form the LA progressive version of Wu Tang’s “C.R.E.A.M.” to the Latin-inspired “A Message to You, Rudy” to my personal favorite, the New Orleans brass band rendition of Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing.” There’s something for everybody here in this variety platter of child (and old person)-friendly soundtrack that is every bit as upbeat as the movie. – Sherif

Third Place –The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

At first, this seemed to be like any other action film soundtrack (purpose being to blend into the background a tad while still enhancing the tone of each scene of the film). It wasn’t at all special up until the part with the “Hanging Tree” song. The entire sound to the movie began to revolve around that simple, yet catchy song. Instantly, each scene that played it or any variations of it became instantly personal to the viewer. Later I began to hum it to myself consistently, making me look back to the emotion wrenching scenes took place at the start of that score. That what a good soundtrack should do, enrich the film and make it even more memorable than it was. I loved it, and might buy the soundtrack for myself. – Jojo

RUNNER UP – The Fault in Our Stars

I am constantly listening to this soundtrack. It seems to have a song for every occasion on it. Need to get pumped? Play “Bomfalleralla” immediately. Need a minute to just cry? Play “All of the Stars,” lay out in the backyard and gaze up at the stars. Wanna dance around your apartment in your underwear? Put on “Boom Clap” and go to town! And for you fellow writers out there, TFIOS has great music that won’t interrupt your thoughts as you type out the next great American Novel. This soundtrack doesn’t include score from the film, but seeing as most of The Fault in Our Stars is not score, you’re not missing anything by them not having it on there. Like I said in my review of the album back in June, “This album is definitely one you want in your music library… whether or not you’ve seen the movie. It is full of songs either to soothe your broken heart or get you jamming on a bright Summer day.” – Charlotte

RUNNER UP – Wish I Was Here

Zach Braff’s crowd-funded indy film, Wish I Was Here, was just as every bit beautiful and reflective as his first film, Garden State. This was one of the only indy films I can remember with an all-original soundtrack – and most of the tracks are used at one point or another in the film, driving home that extra dose of feels that the movie sent you home with. If indy music like The Shins, Bon Iver and “a whole bunch of other bands I’ve never heard of” are your thing, then you may want to give Wish I Was Here a listen. – Sherif

Next Category: Best New Artist

Welcome to Night Vale Presents “The Librarian” at Denver Paramount Theatre

Note: There are a few references made in this article and they are starred so as to not confuse you, dear listeners.*

Podcasts and Radio Dramas are, at least typically, an audio experience. Yes, there are pictures of the cast online and a few videos here and there of them speaking at panels, but for the most part, what you hear is what you get. Welcome to Night Vale, once again, breaks this mold. They are currently on their third tour, presenting their live show “The Librarian” to fans across Canada and the U.S. . I was one such lucky fan this weekend to see what I had only ever heard, come to life.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a “Respect My Craft” article on the company that puts on Welcome to Night Vale, Commonplace Books. If you have never heard of Welcome to Night Vale before, you read a detailed explanation of what exactly this bizarre show is all about there. I suggest you do, or the article that follows will make very little sense to you… It is likely this article will still make very little sense to you, but there is much in Night Vale that makes no sense anyway. That’s half the fun of it.

The night started off with hundreds of fans lined up outside the venue, many of which were cosplaying as their favorite characters, myself included. Meeting other “Night Vale Citizens” was half the fun of the night. Photos were taken, skits were acted out, and as a Glow Cloud cosplayer walked down the line, a large chanting of “ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD”* broke out. Waiting in line wasn’t something of displeasure. Many fans had actually been looking forward to it because it gave them the opportunity to talk about the podcast with others who love it, something we don’t get to do very often. Welcome to Night Vale is very successful, but it still has somewhat of a cult following.

When allowed into the theatre, fan communication continued. All of us were giddy at the thought of seeing our idols and putting living, breathing faces to the voices we were so in awe of. Fans lingered in the lobby of the Paramount Theatre to chat and take photos before filing into the theatre and taking their assigned seats, many of us bouncing where we sat out of excitement.

The show began with Meg Bashwiner thanking us for coming and laying down a few ground rules for the performance. She did this with a great amount of wit and poise. Firstly, she invited us to take as many photos of the performance as we wished, but asked that we not record audio or video. She explained that the cast and crew wanted everyone on the tour to experience the show in the same way we would. Meg went on to say that the live show would be released later online for purchase, as the last live shows had been. Meg also asked us to silence our cellphones and to not take photos in a way that would hinder the performers as well as the audience. If any of us were to do this, the audience would “think unkind but not untrue thoughts about you,” Meg told us. That being said, she invited musical guest Eliza Rickman to the stage.

Welcome to Night Vale Presents “The Librarian” at Denver Paramount Theatre

Eliza walked out in a stunning, light pink dress and took a seat in front of her toy piano on which she began her set with “Devil’s Flesh and Bone.” There were a variety of instruments used during Eliza’s set such as a metronome, a miniature xylophone, an autoharp, and a wind up music player. Her sound is haunting and reminiscent of the Victorian Era as well as the modern Steampunk genre. Eliza was absolutely wonderful to watch and listen to. She was sweet, funny, and whimsical as she performed and talked to us. Eliza invited us to take video of her performance only, as she wanted more videos of her performing on the internet. Other songs played included previous weather song “Pretty Little Head”, “Start With Goodbye, End With Hello” and “Foot Soldiers” featuring Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor, Meg Bashwiner, and Marisa Blankier on noisemakers. She later returned to the stage during The Weather and played “Fools Rush In.” I bought her album afterwards and have since been listening to it nonstop.

She also promoted her Kickstarter for her new double album release, which you can find and donate to here. If fully funded, she will be releasing not only her second album, but a much requested cover song album. As of July 22nd, she is 74% funded with $16,325 of her $22,000 goal. Her Kickstarter ends on July 30th and there are a lot of great perks to those who donate. I myself donated $20, which will get me access to a live streaming event, a digital download of both the second album and covers album, and exclusive backer tracks including the insanely popular B-side “Foot Soldiers”. Unfortunately, Eliza will only get money to make her album if she reaches her goal in time, so donate today! After Eliza’s set, Meg Bashwiner returned to the stage to introduce Cecil Baldwin. The screams that followed were deafening. For a brief moment, I could not tell whether I was at a theatrical performance or a rock concert. Cecil opened the show in the same way he does the podcast with a quirky statement followed by “Welcome to Night Vale,” at which point more screams filled the air. Welcome to Night Vale Presents “The Librarian” at Denver Paramount Theatre

 

Without spoiling too much, I can tell you that the live show took place before Episode 46 Parade Day and included Cecil Baldwin as Cecil Palmer, Meg Bashwiner as Deb and herself i.e. The Proverb Lady, Hal Lubin as Steve Carlsberg, Dylan Marron as Carlos, and Symphony Sanders as Tamika Flynn. While the performance included scripts, the actors were far from just standing there and reading. They seemed to be leap from the stage, larger somehow and thrilling to watch. More was revealed about the Night Vale library and it’s librarians which are vicious and not to be approached.* The show also had a great deal of audience participation such as screaming when directed and sharing eye contact for several uninterrupted seconds with those who did not accompany us. The writers definitely wrote this particular show with the fans in mind. Anyone who ships Cecilos (Cecil Palmer and Carlos) will be very happy with this performance.

Dylan Marron and Cecil Baldwin had great chemistry on stage together and made me laugh harder than I have in a long time. Hal Lubin was hysterical as Steve and played extremely well off of Cecil Palmer’s distaste for him. Symphony Sanders was inspiring as the avid-reader and revolutionary leading Tamika Flynn, who made the point that books are powerful and also heavy.* Each cast member brought their own key parts to the performance that had me completely transfixed. There was no set or even a backdrop, but watching them I was plopped right down in Night Vale, the radio station’s tower blinking on and off in the distance.

Listening to a typical Welcome to Night Vale episode is a very solitary activity. When I listen, I lay in bed and stare at the stationary WTNV poster on my wall. The only one laughing or trembling with fear, is myself. “The Librarian” was a very different experience. Sharing it with others made every reaction I had to the story that much bigger and I felt at home with my fellow “Night Vale Citizens.” I knew Cecil Baldwin was an amazing actor, but I was not fully prepared to see him play my favorite character in real life. He is extremely expressive while he performs. Where once there was just a voice, suddenly there were emphatic expressions and movements. The switch from stoic radio host, to giddy boyfriend, to terrified citizen is so much more drastic on stage than over my iPhone speakers, and it was pretty drastic to begin with. It was frankly bizarre (in the best possible, Night Valean way) that I knew the voice I was hearing so well but had never actually seen the actor behind it perform. It was like reuniting with an old friend who I’d never actually met.

Those who stuck around after the show had the opportunity to meet and take pictures with the cast and writers. Everyone was extremely courteous, talking with fans and staying until the last audience members left the venue. Being able to meet them was very special for me, personally. About a year ago, I nearly gave up on my writing. I was too afraid of failing to continue studying it. A friend of mine introduced me to “Welcome to Night Vale” and the weird, little desert town inspired me. Here were people who dealt with the terrifying on a day to day basis, yet they lived their lives as if these things were mundane. They pushed on. If Night Vale could face death and carnage as periodically as they did on the show, I could take on the frightening things in my own life. I told both writers Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor that if it weren’t for Welcome to Night Vale, I probably would have given into my fear and abandoned my writing; that Welcome to Night Vale inspired me to embrace what scares me. In response Joseph told me, “I had a lot of artists do that for me, so I’m glad we could do that for you.”

Welcome to Night Vale’s last stop on their tour is San Diego Comic Con July 24th-27th. For those of you who will be attending the convention, Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor and Cecil Baldwin will be signing autographs Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 2:30pm to 5:30pm and Sunday from 1:30pm to 3:00 at autograph area booth 12.   On Thursday, July 24th at 12pm they will have a panel at The Geek and Sundry Lounge (located at Jolt’n Joes, 379 4th Avenue, Gaslamp District). This is a no badge required event so if you’re in the area that weekend, this is a panel you definitely want to check out. It will be moderated by Meg Bashwiner and will include Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor, Cecil Baldwin, Dylan Marron, Jasika Nicole (Dana), and Hal Lubin. Welcome to Night Vale will also be performing a crossover show with The Thrilling Adventure Hour on Saturday, July 26th at 8pm at he Spreckels Theatre in San Diego. This also does not require a convention badge and promises to be an amazing performance. Tickets are on sale now.

Welcome to Night Vale also just announced that they will be going on a European Tour starting October 17th in Dublin and ending November 6th in Berlin. Tickets for those shows are on sale now.

*Today’s proverb: Ask not what your country can do for you, but where you will hide when your country eventually decides what it’s going to do to you.

Above: Fans chant as Kevin cosplayer tries to promote Strexcorp in the background.

Photos and videos courtesy of Charlotte Renken.

Batman Day – Best Batman Theme Songs

DC Comics has dubbed today Batman Day. The Dark Knight has been fighting crime and serving justice for his 75th year since the 1939 debut of Detective Comics #27. Batman has been a big part of our lives, and was responsible for making us into the comic book fanatics we are today, whether it be through comic books and toys or television and movies. To show our appreciation for the man, the myth and the legend, we have compiled a plethora of Bat-themed lists. We hope that we can inspire you to read more about Batman and his legacy, or even give us some feedback if you agree or disagree with the lists. Sound off below! And click on the picture below to take you to all of our Batman Day articles.

batman day logo

 

Top 10 Batman Theme Songs

You can usually tell a person’s age depending on the Batman theme song they identify most. The tunes may have altered throughout the year, but the spirit of them is still the same. You could be at at your daughter’s recital, or giving a presentation to your boss, when that Batman ringtone goes off, people smile. Aside from Superman and a few Marvel characters, Batman is part of a select few that have gotten even one theme song, let alone enough to do a top ten. So rejoice in the sound of the Bat, and let us know which ones you liked the best.

 

10.) Batman Forever

This theme, composed by Elliot Goldenthal, was a distinct departure from the Danny Elfman-produced themes of the Tim Burton films. It’s one of the few good things to come out of Batman Forever. We wish we could count Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose” on here, because that would have instantly shot this up the charts. The use of big, brass instruments gives the theme that epic Batman feeling.

 

9.) Batman Begins/The Dark Knight, “Molossus”

Composed by Hans Zimmer, this theme was actually slightly introduced towards the end of Batman Begins, and expanded upon in The Dark Knight. The harsh drums and cello is the call to action Batman deserves. In fact, the entire scores to Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are worth a listen if you need to get pumped up for that job interview or test.

 

8.) Batman: The Brave and the Bold

When The Brave and the Bold first aired in 2008, I was skeptical. All I needed to see was the opening credits to know that this was going to be a clear homage to the Adam West days with a modern twist to it. The upbeat and very short theme song got its point across without much variation or flare, but it was all Batman.

 

7.) Adam West’s Batman series

Speaking of Adam West, the classic theme from the TV series, which was also used in the Hanna Barbera animated version, is full of butt-kicking goodness, punching sound effects strewn within. The shrill “Batman!” cry heard throughout is the work of an eight-member chorus. It’s the reason the we all sing “Na na na na na na na na…. Batman!” – a true classic theme song in American history.

 

6.) Arkham City

The 2011 video game, which is heralded as the best Batman game yet, had its own score and “Music Inspired By” soundtrack, headlined by this main theme. It was a blend of Zimmer’s The Dark Knight and Elfman’s whimsical woodwinds, creating a truly awesome mixture for us to glide through Gotham to. Good job by Nick Arundel in using the best elements from two of the greatest theme songs in Bat-history to create something new and exciting.

 

5.) The Dark Knight Rises

When Christopher Nolan closed out his trilogy, he left us with a lot of questions – and a lot more unexplainable plot holes. That wasn’t the case for Hans Zimmer, who gave audiences the definitive theme song worthy of ending the epic journey. The theme goes through multiple uplifting phases of the heroes journey. Like The Dark Knight before it, Zimmer’s score is a complete package, one that you can listen to the whole way through, with enough variation to feel like a complete experience.

 

4.) Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Mask of the Phantasm was a 1993 animated film about Batman’s tangle with a villain who took justice into their own hands, often leading to death for their targets. The theme has a more dynamic feel than the usual animated series theme song, using gospel themes, and more prominent orchestral tones. It may have been a bit too dramatic to be the best theme, but Shirley Walker’s theme fit this film perfectly.

 

3.) Batman Beyond

Ushering in a new generation, the theme song to Batman Beyond was just as futuristic as Terry McGinnis himself. It’s a far departure from the theme used in Batman: The Animated Series, and that’s what made it work so well. Most people can’t even tell that this Kristopher Carter track is Batman-related at all, but fans raised on the series instantly jam out to the theme. This was certainly not their father’s Batman; he belonged to them.

 

2.) Batman Returns

The year was 1992 and Danny Elfman was beginning to make a name for himself in the film score circles with great work on movies like Dick Tracy and Beetlejuice. Elfman’s sound was distinctly gothic, fitting the terrifying story of Batman Returns to a tee. As the opening credits roll, we are treated to a look at the sad journey of Oswald Cobblepot that Burton had created for us, amplified by the frantic pace of the theme song in the background. Since then, Elfman’s has reproduced the same style in almost every theme song he’s done, turning it into more of a cliché over the years, but after twenty years, his Batman theme is still practically untouchable.

 

1.) Batman: The Animated Series

The famous theme song, accompanied by one of the best introduction sequences of all time, of Batman: The Animated Series takes the title of Best Batman Theme Song. Taking clear inspiration from the aforementioned Burton films, TAS theme song was created by Shirley Walker – who, coincidentally enough was Burton’s conductor for the films. The student definitely became the master, and together, the two perfected the Burton theme. The brass is more pronounced, and the subtleties of the film theme were lost in favor of a more crisp overall sound.

Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers “Tour Because Awesome” Denver Show

The chanting seemed to come from nowhere as the lights dimmed at the Summit Music Hall Wednesday, July 9th. “DFTBA! DFTBA! DFTBA!”* Crossed Vulcan salutes were raised to the heavens as the crowd screamed their favorite initialism into the air, all in wait for one man— one incredible nerd— to emerge from behind the stage. Dawning various geek attire, over 800 fans crowded the venue to see Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers live, myself included. But we weren’t just there for Hank. Along with him was Rob Scallon, Andrew Huang, Harry and the Potters, and Driftless Pony Club, all of whom played wonderfully, often venturing out into the crowd for high fives and dancing. In the spirit of vlogging, as so many of these performers thrive on, I’ve included short clips (or rather one long clip spliced into several segments) of the concert as well as photos.

Hank Green does seemingly everything. He’s a vlogger, entrepreneur, writer, scientist, teacher, VidCon organizer, blogger, owner of DFTBA Records, charity organizer, and long time musician just to name a few titles. Above all things, Hank Green is a massive, self-proclaimed nerd. January 1st of 2007, Hank and brother John Green launched their video project Brotherhood 2.0 under the YouTube Channel The Vlogbrothers in an attempt to stay in better contact with each other. Seven years later, the two brothers and their videos have a massive following called “The Nerdfighters” with over two million members.

The show began like most. Everyone who had lined up outside the venue pilled into the building and made their way to the front of the stage. While waiting for the show to start, however, the space felt more communal than other concerts I’ve been to. Most of the audience were Nerdfighters and there is a strange phenomenon that occurs whenever Nerdfighters get together “IRL”; we all become instant friends. Nerdfighteria is a large community, but it still remains very close knit because we all generally like the same things. The majority of us also tend to be socially awkward. When you mix these two things, you get a very laid back group of people who understand each other extremely well without even knowing anyone’s name. Thus, while waiting for the concert to begin, the venue was abuzz with conversation between practical strangers.

With most concerts, the opening acts are either announced by someone who works for the venue or by the act themselves and are often ignored by the main performer. “Tour Because Awesome” was an entirely different story. When the house lights dimmed, it was not a venue worker or the first act who walked onstage to welcome us to the show. Hank himself came out, camera in hand, and thanked us for coming. He told us that not only had we chanted more than any other show on tour, but that Denver had the biggest turnout and that he was happy that we were there. He then introduced opening act Rob Scallon and proceeded to introduce every act after him. This is a testament to how much Hank really cares about the musicians that joined him on tour. They are not only some of his favorite musicians, but also closest friends.

 

Rob Scallon only played three songs on his own (he would later come on to drum), but each one them had me absolutely entranced. This guy doesn’t just play guitar. The instrument practically breathes in his hands. With a combination of finger picking, licks, and hammer on technique, it was hard to believe there was only one instrument on stage. As Hank put it, his music “makes your ears feel real good.” My ears felt so good in fact, that I ran to the merch booth the moment he got off stage and bought his album. Lucky for me, he ran just as quickly and not only gave me a free t-shirt but signed the album as well.

 

After Rob Scallon, Andrew Huang took the stage. This guy is hilarious and incredibly talented. He writes songs in a vast number of genres and frequently takes challenges from his fans of what songs to create. He also only played a few songs but joined Hank and the Perfect Strangers later on.

Andrew Huang is extremely creative. One of his songs (video below) had me swaying my hands back and forth, thinking of my past relationships, until I remembered it was actually written about his nipple ring that had grown out. He purposely wrote the song to be vague enough that it could be about any relationship, yet when given the context, it becomes incredibly funny. He also played fan favorite “Show Me Where Your Noms At” which he collaborated with Youtuber Hannah Hart of My Drunk Kitchen to make. This song shows not just how great of a singer and guitarist he is, but also highlights his rapping abilities. He had the entire audience singing along.

 

Next on stage was Harry and the Potters, who led us in a pledge that we would have a good time at the show and use our voices to create positive change in the world. Harry and the Potters are considered the founders of the Wizard Rock genre. They are made up of brothers Paul (newly appointed as Executive Director of The Harry Potter Alliance) and Joe DeGeorge but onstage are known as Harry Potter Year Seven and Harry Potter Year Four, having used Hermione’s time turner to go back in time and start a rock band with themselves.

Harry and the Potters are probably the most exuberant band I’ve ever seen. Their banter with the audience is priceless and they seem to have a limitless amount of energy when it comes to performing, dancing and jumping up and down with each song. Both brothers even jumped into the audience, Joe jumping out twice and asking audience members to sing into the mic. Confetti was tossed into the air several times using a hollow wand and by the end of their act, everyone in the venue was screaming, “HAR-RY! POT-TER! HAR-RY! POT-TER!”

 

After Harry and the Potters finished their set, Driftless Pony Club took the stage. I’ve seen this band twice and they never fail to impress me. Their sound is energizing, fun to jump around to, and closely resembles Modest Mouse. Lead vocalist and guitarist Craig Benzine, like most of the musicians on the tour, has his own YouTube Channel WheezyWaiter. The band often makes funny videos with Craig.

Like always, they had the entire venue buzzing with excitement. At one point, bassist Sam Grant climbed over the barricade and into the audience where he danced along with us while he played. My friend Luke and I sang along to every song, bouncing on the balls of our feet and banging our heads to the beat. I’m a heavy metal fan, but nothing makes me happily light headed like dancing to Driftless Pony Club.

 

Finally the act we had all be waiting for was just moments away. I can’t convey to you the amount of excitement that was bouncing off the walls in that room. Every few moments you could hear someone squeal “Oh my god” or watch as another made a few little jumps of excitement. Everyone was grinning. Members of Hank Green and the Perfect Strangers (Paul DeGeorge on guitar, Joe DeGeorge on keyboard and saxophone, Andrew Huang on lead guitar, and Rob Scallon on the drums) made their way onto the stage and began to play ambient music. Suddenly, the beginning of “Perfect Strangers” began and Hank ran onto the stage to sing. Everyone in the venue went nuts and rushed to the front of the stage, screaming, dancing and singing along.

 

Of course no Nerdfighteria event would be complete without some sort of charity element. Before the show started, Hank informed us that their bass drum had broken. Instead of throwing it away, they decided all the musicians would sign it and raffle it off for one dollar per ticket. We had until the beginning of Hank’s set to buy as many raffle tickets as we wished. When the time came to choose a winning ticket, the audience had raised over $500 for the Foundation to Decrease World Suck, Nerdfighteria’s chief charity organization.

Hank played a ton of songs, mostly off his new album Incongruent with a few older songs thrown in here and there. Some fan favorites included “I Fucking Love Science”, “Video Game Books”, “A Song About an Anglerfish” and possibly his most famous “Accio Deathly Hallows”. He also talked with us about touring and his fellow bandmates and joked that Denver needed to fix our air shortage. During Accio Deathly Hallows, he handed a girl his mic while he climbed over the barricade so that he could join us in the audience. After many high fives and lots of dancing, he climbed back on stage and played a few more songs before ending the show. However, we weren’t ready to let him go quite yet. After much chanting, he and the band came back out and played a few encores for us, including the theme from Friends.

“Tour Because Awesome” was an truly spectacular show. Every single musician was on point and had the audience completely thrilled to be there. They also all came out afterwards for autographs, photos, and hugs, despite being absolutely exhausted from the four hour show. I was able to meet Sam Grant after the concert and we talked for a while about how cool online communities such as Nerdfighteria are. We both agreed they are a very unique, kind, and caring group of people that we are very glad to be a part of.

 

 

*DFTBA stands for Don’t Forget to Be Awesome and is the slogan of Nerdfighteria.

Videos courtesy of Lara Griffith and Andrew Huang. Bandcamp music courtesy of Jon Scallon.

Diggin’ Through the Crates: RZA “We Pop”

Song: “We Pop”

Artist: RZA Ft. Division & Ol’ Dirty Bastard

AlbumBirth of a Prince (2003)

Lyric: “I cock arm, pass the bomb, like Troy Aikman/Play the basement like Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.”

 

Character Reference/Meaning:

Welcome back DTCers! Hope you all had a fantastic 4th of July. Over at Hush headquarters, we celebrated the great Red, White, and Nerd! Let’s keep it going, shall we? This week’s DTC features a repeat rapper, the one, the only, the RZA. This track comes off of his 3rd solo studio album and brings with it not only a powerful message, but some supreme nerdiness as well. Like all rap artists, RZA strives for success (he already found it if y’all didn’t know), and in order to be successful you have to make it happen. If you are to become one of the greats and have little boys and girls listening to your hits when you are long past, you have to do one thing. Work. If you don’t put in the work, and have no dedication to your craft, then no one will respect it. That is exactly what RZA expressed in this so skillfully executed nerdy comic reference.

Since 1989, or even before, RZA has been dedicated to his craft. He has put in the work from day one and look at all it has gotten him: multiple albums, countless soundtrack features, tons of features on albums and has been named one of the top music producers according to Vibe, NME, and The Source. RZA has also showed us his acting and directing chops in various films. If you people out there don’t think RZA is neither a star nor a nerd, just Google “RZA” and “Afro Samurai” together, and let all your doubts fade way with your embarrassment for being so foolish. It’s easy to see that RZA is a nerd simply based on this lyric. He doesn’t say “Batman and Robin;” he uses their secret identities. If you know secret identities, then you may be a nerd – congratulations.

RZA understands the importance of having a solid work ethic. Regardless of what you do, if you don’t do it with conviction and dedication, someone who is putting in the work will pass you any day now. Regardless if you are writing the next big comic book, or starting to write your first rhyme, you should strive to be hall of fame quality. You need to be Troy Aikman in a sense, and put everything you have into that one pass. Give your heart and soul into your work, and the work will speak for itself. As you all know RZA goes hard in the paint and truly shows off his craft by using a skillful comic book reference. Most rappers starting out, or even today find their basement to be the base of operations. With eggshell cartons lining the wall, and pantyhose over the microphone, the basement becomes a true recording studio. For aspiring artists on the come up, that basement is the Batcave. In Gotham, if there was no Batcave, would there be a Batman and Robin? If the answer is yes, would they be as effective as they are? Every person, despite the craft, needs a place to make the greatness happen. Batman and Robin have the Batcave, Superman has the Fortress of Solitude, Iron Man has the Stark Tower, and RZA has the recording studio. Similar to the Batcave, the infamous basement recording studio is both out of sight, and underground… I see what you did there RZA, I see it. If you aren’t working hard when you are out of sight and out of mind, then dedication isn’t part of your skill set. Because if you do work hard, who knows, you could be the next RZA, you could be the next Bruce Wayne, you could be the next Dick Grayson. Work hard, do what you do, and make the basement proud!

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Organized Konfusion “Bring It On”

Song: “Bring It On”

Artist: Organized Konfusion

AlbumStress: The Extinction Agenda (1994)

Lyric: “Rippin shit up at prime time, I’m Optimus Prime-time material/Imperial wizard of vocabularic havoc, I eat MC’s like cereal!”

 

Character Reference/Meaning:

DTCers, ROLL OUT! After a bit of a hiatus that I was on for grad school, we’re back at it again, ready to bring you all another ridiculously nerdy lyric that’ll probably make you want to transform into a rapper AND a nerd. Wait, that doesn’t make sense, because in Prince Poetry’s case, they are the same thing, AND I’VE BEEN SAYING IT SINCE DAY ONE!

Organized Konfusion, the dynamic rap duo out of Queens combines the awesome power of Prince Poetry, and DTC hall of famer, Pharoahe Monch. You would think that Pharoahe’s multiple appearances on DTC mean that he’s due for another spotlight, but today the honor goes to his counter part, Prince Poetry! These two individuals have ON (Original Nerd) status, seeing that they’ve been pushing bars since 1987. Need proof? Look no further than their 1994 hit, “Bring It On.”

With Transformers: Age of Extinction currently in theaters, it seems only right that we pay homage to two leaders of their respective packs – Prince Poetry and Optimus Prime. Shall we check the resumés? Prince Poetry a.k.a Prince Po has been rapping since before I was born, and is the founder of Nasty Habits Entertainment. He has four solo albums and EP’s apiece, in addition to the three Organized Konfusion alums. Impressive stats from an underground rapper. Now onto Optimus Prime. Prime is the leader of the Autobots, originates from the planet of Cybertron, sword enemy of the Decepticons, has saved planet Earth several times, while headlining countless cartoon episodes, movies and comic books. If you ask me, they’re pretty much one in the same.

On this DTC track, Prince Po is, without a doubt, letting you know this. Po is at the top of his game, and all the others dragging behind him, either need to figure out how to keep up, or learn how to step off. What he is saying is that if the rap game was planet Earth, and all the other rappers in the world were Autobots, he is pretty much Optimus Prime in comparison. After hearing his verse on this track, it’s kind of hard to refute that statement. Don’t believe me? Check the play on words. “I’m Optimus Prime-time material.” He is Optimus Prime and Prime Time, the nickname of Leon Sandcastle (That joke is funny). This lyrical ability demonstrates a great transformation in itself. Often times, young black men growing up in disadvantaged neighborhoods are seen as useless, and unable to contribute to anything productive in society. Knowing that one in three black men eventually end up in prison, it’s hard to keep the faith. However, Transformers is given the same treatment. To the untrained eye, that hunk of junk truck that’s always sitting in that lot across the street is completely useless. It’s rusted, run down, and it only belongs in a scrapyard somewhere. What if I told you that piece of junk was a Transformer? Does your perspective change? All it takes is one fluid move, and all of the sudden, that uselessness turns into something extraordinary. See, these young black kids growing up trying to be rappers, or even rappers today may seem like pieces of junk to the outside world, but to those who are paying attention, they are greatness. Hip-hop is more than just music to some, it is a way of life, it creates change inside of us that is unstoppable. So, that kid on the corner may seem like a piece of junk now, but who knows when he will transform into something powerful beyond measure.

Basically, Po is nothing short of hall of fame material. When he goes hard on tracks like this one, all the Decepticons suddenly have something to worry about. See, Optimus and hip-hop have many things in common. Probably one of the biggest factors the two share is the their influence on the youth of the 80s and 90s. Growing up in the hood, black community, or any community where hip-hop was a way of life, being an MC’s with dope lyrics was something to strive for. Having a lyrical ability was somethings people admired, it gave you status and an overall sense of purpose despite your upbringing. Growing up in the hood, you are given more opportunities to fail rather than succeed, and it’s much easier to stay up, than to try and climb your way out. Optimus could be viewed in the same light. Despite Optimus being the very last prime, his commitment to his cause and craft never wavered. To the audience, Optimus made it cool to be a good guy. Similar to Captain Planet and G.I. Joe, his courage and willingness to sacrifice everything for what he believed in was admirable. Hip-hop and Optimus are strong, righteous, and dedicated to what matters in life. For Optimus, that meant saving Earth through the way of the sword, maintaining what was honorable and good. Hip-hop does the same thing for planet Earth, only rather than the sword, hip-hop uses the mind and the spirit. Both fight evil, and both create a better way of life, both inspire hope.

Po dropped a transformers reference back in 1994, when hip-hop, nerds, rappers and transformers were all prime indicators of greatness. Knowing that transformers originated as a popular toy line only 10 years earlier, and then expanded into a cartoon television show, and then blew up to what we know it as today, it’s obvious the product hasn’t lost traction. When the toy line dropped, right off the bat, Optimus was the one to have. Little kids on the block were saving up what they have, folding bills in their socks, and begging their parents to go down to the toy store. If you were one of the lucky ones, and actually got that money, or that ride, if you left with anything other than Optimus Prime it just didn’t feel right. If you aren’t Optimus Prime, you might as well be a Decepticon.

FUN FACT: Optimus Prime was created by Denny O’Neil, legendary Batman writer who had a long career alongside artist Neal Adams.

 

 

The Fault in Our Stars Soundtrack Review

Album Specs

Tracks/Length: 16 tracks, 61 minutes

Notable Guest Appearances: Birdy, Ed Sheeran

Album Genre/Tone: Soundtrack to the film. Think Summer love, loss, and freedom – with one Swedish rap song thrown in.

Lead Single:  “All of the Stars”by Ed Sheeran

 

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Pretty much the best eargasm you’ve ever experienced. This is the album you will be listening to when you are sixty and your grandchildren will be judging you for.

A: All you need to appreciate this album is two ears connected to a heart. Whether it’s the deeper message, the prolific beats or memorable lyrics, everybody should be listening to this record.

B: If you like the genre, then you will love this album. You might keep it on repeat for a month, but it will eventually find itself in the bowels of your shuffle list. Hardcore fans of the artist will disagree with this rating, but it can be considered more niche than universally enjoyable.

C: There are a solid tracks, but it’s really only worth a few rotations as a complete package. Those not into the genre probably shouldn’t even bother. It’s the musical equivalent of a sad handjob.

DThis album fails, in most aspects, to make a good or lasting impression. However, some out there might find joy in it, if even for only a few songs. 

F: The only thing this album is good for is to make your ears bleed. You should steal every copy of this album and throw them all into a fire for a sacrifice ceremony meant to disband the demons living in the CD. And I say steal because it is obviously not worth the money. Or it would make a great gift for your enemies.

 

History Behind the Album

Based on the New York Times Best Selling novel, so far the film The Fault in Our Stars has gained wild success, earning $48,200,000 as of June 8th and $26.1 million opening day, beating out Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow ($10.7 million) and even fellow Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort’s Divergent ($22.8 million). Rolling Stone Magazine called it “a fresh, lively love story, brimming with humor and heartbreak”. The soundtrack to the film has had similar success. As of June 8th, it has the number one spot on iTunes with “Boom Clap” by Charli XCX landing at number seven on the Top Singles list.

If you’re interested in seeing the movie, check out my review here.

What You’re in For

Compiled mostly of singer-song writer and alternative pop tracks, this album sings Summer, a tone which is appropriate given the film’s June release date, and bounces back and forth between feel good and somber. The album contains fifteen tracks plus a bonus track by Birdy and Jaymes Young. Speaking of Birdy, she is all over this album with three songs “Tee Shirt,” “Not About Angels,” and “Best Shot.” She was also asked to perform for the film’s pre-debut showing “The Night Before Our Stars,” where she played “Not About Angels” solo on piano.

While I’ve been playing all of these songs on repeat since the album was released, my favorite has got to be “Bomfelleralla” by Afasi & Filthy. The Swedish odd one out of the album, it’s upbeat, take-on-the-world feel has gotten me out of many-a-funk. The song feels out of place until you see the film and realize it is played by the character Van Houten during a conversation with Hazel and Augustus.

One of the few critiques I have of the album is that a few songs were left out of it. One thing that is particularly surprising is that it doesn’t include the score of the film, which is sparse but just as good. OneRepublic’s “If That’s What You Wanted” can be heard in the trailer, but is nowhere on the album nor in the film. There is one song sung by Issac (or rather screamed by Issac) whilst in an emotional meltdown, “Rules” by Nat & Alex Wolff, that I also would have liked to see in the soundtrack; however, the song was not released until after the soundtrack dropped.

I also wish Hank Green, who is author John Green’s brother, had been somehow included on the album. Hank is a singer-songwriter who primarily write songs about Harry Potter and nerd culture. He is one half of the YouTube channel “The Vlogbrothers” whose fans have been a huge part of “The Fault in Our Stars” since the before its publication. Having Hank on this album might not have fit the tone quite as much, but seeing as he was so much a part of the culture that grew around the book, it seemed appropriate. You can check out Hank’s music here.

 

Songs On Repeat

“Long Way Down” by Tom Odell

Lyrics to Go: ” Walking on the rooftops/Talking of times/With our eyes a glowing/Like the city lights/She stands on the ledge/She says, ‘it looks so high

When it comes to the film, this song expresses not only the love story between Hazel and Augustus but also explains a lot of the other themes and relationships in the film. Cancer, love, pain, life; it’s a long, hard journey. You need the people you love and connect with most to get through it. The problem is Hazel and Augustus’time in this world is precarious. Losing either of them would make their loved ones feel like the world has dropped out from under them and they’d fall a long time before being able to get up again.

This can also be seen in the relationship between Hazel and her parents. At one point *SPOILER* Hazel’s mother painfully expresses that if her daughter were to die, she wouldn’t be a mother anymore and it is something that lays heavily on Hazel heart throughout the novel.

 

“Boom Clap” by Charli XCX

Lyrics to Go: ” You’re picture perfect blue/Sunbathing on the moon/Stars shining as your bones illuminate/First kiss just like a drug/Under your influence/ You take me over you’re the magic in my veins/ This must be love”    

This song is just genuinely good to jam to. I’ll admit to jumping around my bedroom dancing with this blaring in the background. It’s definitely the happiest track on the album and juxtaposes nicely against the singer-songwriter tunes. It celebrates the giddiness the comes with love and is paired well with a scene in which Hazel and Gus’s plane touches down in Amsterdam. They’re incredibly excited, hearts beating fast as the song suggests. Having this new place to explore and meet their idol in makes them feel alive; something they haven’t felt in a long time.

 

“Bomfalleralla” by Afasi & Filthy

Lyrics to Go:  (Translated from Swedish) “I expose my chest, must you have time to gore me/ So come on and fight back before you change your mind/ Chew through the aorta/ That transports oxygen for the whole worlds god damn reality TV”

As Van Houten points out during the film, not knowing Swedish shouldn’t keep you from enjoying this song. It’s got a great beat and while it sticks out from the rest of the songs on the album, it’s just as good. It’s the only rap song in the mix as well as the only song not in English. It can be loosely connected to Hazel’s feeling of being a grenade. One day she will die and it will be like a bomb exploded, making her feel like it’s her responsibility to minimize the casualties.

 

“Not About Angels” by Birdy

Lyrics to Go:  “We know full well there’s just time/So is it wrong to toss this line?/If your heart was full of love/Could you give it up?/’Cause what about, what about angels?/They will come, they will go, make us special”

 

To me, this is Hazel’s song. She refuses to romanticize her illness. She understands that she is dying and there is very little she can do about it. She is frustrated that this is the life she has to live, but she is very much a realist. The last line in this song, “It’s not about angels,”really sums up Hazel’s feelings and how people treat both her and her cancer. She’s tired of everyone trying to find a way around it and the only reason she even continues treatment is to make her parents happy. Her disease is not something to be fluffed up with prayers and false ideals of how long her life will be. It’s cancer. It hurts. She only has so much time left and she wishes people would accept that.

This song is hauntingly beautiful. It’s perfect for a rainy day and is able to make me both sad and certain. Birdy performed “Not About Angels”at “The Night Before Our Stars”the day before the film was released. Upon completion, Shailene Woodley (Hazel) could not answer questions for several minutes because she was so overcome with tears.

 

The Quick and Dirty

Grade: A

This album is definitely one you want in your music library this Summer whether or not you’ve seen the movie. It is full of songs either to soothe your broken heart or get you jamming on a bright Summer day. It costs $11.99 on iTunes and is available everywhere CD’s are sold. It should be noted that only several songs are not available on iTunes unless you buy the whole album, which is totally worth it.

 

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Ras Kass “Whut Part of the Game”

Song: “Whut Part of the Game”

Artist: Ras Kass (featured on Killah Priest’s song)

Album: View from Masada (2000)

Lyric: “I’m live evil, I know live people/Anxious to bang ya with heavy metal like Magneto”

 

Character Reference/Meaning:

You would think that Magneto would be a reference that you’d see a lot more of in Hip-Hop. After all, in the grand scheme of the Mutant Civil Rights debate, Magneto is often referred to as the X-Men version of Malcolm X. Both believed that their people should not be bowing down to the populous and assimilate, but rather that their people should be proud of their differences. However, the militant mindset of both leaders led them to conflict with their peaceful counterparts who would rather integrate themselves into the current way of life (Malcolm X with MLK Jr. and Magneto with Professor X). Magneto even calls his band of outcasts the Brotherhood, a reflection of Malcolm X’s famous quote, “I believe in the brotherhood of man, all men, but I don’t believe in brotherhood with anybody who doesn’t want brotherhood with me.” Throughout the years, Magneto ended up fighting against his good friend, Charles Xavier – something that both hate doing and ultimately made them ineffective against the ill will and violence created. Unfortunately, because these were the 60’s and every story needed a clear-cut protagonist and antagonist, the Brotherhood were always painted as the bad guys. It took until the late 1980s to early 1990’s for Magneto to really develop as a complex character.

He stopped mutant experimentations, destroyed Sentinel research (find more on their Hip-Hop relevance here) and even tried segregating them from humans on Utopia. Erik Lehnsherr, as he’s often referred to, isn’t even his real name; it’s one he adopted after escaping a concentration camp. Where Professor X grew up in a loving environment, whereas Max Eisenhardt (read X-Men: The Magneto Testament for that crazy story) grew up in Nazi Germany, where he was forced into a concentration camp and his family was murdered. It’s no wonder why he is willing to win the war for mutants’ rights, “by any means necessary.” The community can go back and forth on this debate, but there’s no nobody that can debate just how monstrously powerful Magneto is.

Word to Ras Kass for recognizing one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel U. His ability to control metal has been crafted to brutal perfection. Along with using metal objects small and large to murder his enemies, he has accomplished far beyond that. To date, Magneto has: turned invisible by wrapping light around his body (Vision and the Scarlet Witch #4), teleported himself through a wormhole he created (Excalibur #8), telepathically resisted Professor X and Emma Frost (Uncanny X-Men #521), and even stopped time itself when he froze the X-Men in place by controlling the body’s electrochemistry (Uncanny X-Men #304). Most devastatingly, Magneto got so pissed off at Wolverine that he ripped the adamantium straight off his skeleton. You do not want to piss this guy off.

You may have seen X-Men and you may have seen X-Men: First Class, but you don’t know Magneto. Forget Michael Fassbender. Forget Ian McKellen. Magneto is the baddest, most powerful mutant of all time. 20th Century Fox may have spent millions to show his prowess, but nothing is doing a better job of that then the new series, written by Cullen Bunn and drawn by Gabriel Hernandez Walta. Currently on issue #5, Magneto has been a non-stop rampage to emancipate his people from being experimented on. Wiping out hordes of humans with everyday, household items on the regular, you shouldn’t get in Magneto’s way.

Diggin’ Through the Crates: Talib Kweli “Distractions”

Song: “Distractions”

Artist: Talib Kweli

AlbumPrisoners of Conscious (2013) 

Lyric: “How you keeping up with my rapping?/ You barely keeping up with Kardashians/You caught up in distraction/It’s the living proof-you try to make the truth elastic as Mr. Fantastic.”

Character Reference/Meaning:

What? What was that DTCers? You ready for another dope ass lyric that drops truth bombs and creates nerdy fallout? We got that! Our main man on the mic this week, Talib Kweli, is bringing it to your front door. If you are looking for some socially conscious rap that not only brings a message but an incredible rhyme scheme with it, then you not need look any further. In this 2013 hit, Talib Kwali dropped this song as a commentary on the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. What he is saying in this song is, “Who the hell is paying attention?” There are social issues happening all around us and none of them are going to change by sitting around waiting for the next big gossip. Who is sleeping with who? Who badmouthed which other idiot today? That is why when people stand up and take charge of their own lives, it is viewed as something special. Talib Kweli once said, “Anytime people are willing to take their future into their own hands and attempt something, I think it’s brave.” DARN TOOTIN’ IT’S BRAVE!! But the problem is, so many of us are still distracted, and Kweli notices it all. We may be willing to protest on our street corner for something local, but it seems that no one takes action for causes like the events in Darfur, or are even aware of the Arab Spring movement (Google it).

In this song alone, he tackles such subjects and even points out the flawed history and thinking of this country. From the very beginning with the treatment of Native American’s, we still have missiles (like kill people missiles. Like BOOM missiles) that are named “Tomahawks.” And then we dress up our mascots and name our sports teams after their culture for entertainment. Who’s paying attention and who’s distracted? He even touches on what I perceive to be politics in our chosen lyric of today. Now before I go on and say some possibly hurtful stuff about the Kardashians, congratulations to Kim and Kanye on their wedding. I didn’t get my invite but I’ll let that slide for now. One of the biggest phenomena of the past couple years has been societies infatuation with the Kardashian family. Now I can’t say much about it because I have never seen an episode, but it has consumed many lives and many attention spans. What some may classify as empty media or nonsense television has gained a bigger interest and a larger following than political failings, religious wars, and natural disaster relief efforts. And all the while politicians are out there spitting game at us and very few people check the facts. That is why so many of them can say elastic truths and make them stretch to fit who ever they have their eyes on next.

I know, I sound like I’m preaching and saying, “Yeah I’m good, I know whats up. While everybody else wondering what Ryan Gosling is thinking about, I’m about to go save some third world children.” That’s not the case; I am part of the masses too, but I want to be brave, I want to pay attention, I don’t want to be distracted by shiny objects and blush worthy gossip. Talib Kweli just wants us all to open our minds and see past the bullshit. Even at times when we think we are paying attention, it was just a fake out and we once again are distracted by something that doesn’t matter. Kweli says this perfectly when talking about President Obama addressing his whole “flag pin” issue back in 2008 (Google it). But the president responded by saying, “I have never said that I don’t wear flag pins or refuse to wear flag pins…This is the kind of manufactured issues that our politics has become obsessed with and, once again, distracts us from what should be my job when I’m commander-in-chief…” OH SNAP!! That’s exactly the point. We can so easily get caught up in things that don’t matter. Things that one way or another truly have no effect over our lives or anybodies lives. And the things we should be paying attention to slip right by us because we are distracted.

Alright, that was all pretty heavy. Let’s calm down and pay attention to some nerdy stuff briefly before I end this. Nerdy stuff like the Fantastic Four! In case you all haven’t heard, the Fantastic Four franchise will be getting a reboot that has been defined as “grounded, real, gritty.” According to Kinberg, this film has the same feelings as Batman, Iron Man, X-Men, and more. It will not be goofy like the first films, rather this will be a true drama sprinkled with bit of humor that come from character. Also we will officially be having an African-American Human Torch! I can hear all the critics heads exploding now. However I am very excited by this news especially because Michael B. Jordan will FLAME ON!!! “STRING, WHERE’S WALLACE? WHERE’S WALLACE STRING?” (Google it). Well Wallace is in the Marvel Universe doing badass things with badass powers. And for all you haters, know that Stan Lee is on board with the idea, Kinberg also said, “We knew casting an African-American Human Torch would be news, but I can tell you it’s something that Stan Lee loves, and I can tell you that having been on set and seeing Michael bring him to life, he’s really spectacular.” I don’t know how the story will change due to this, but I love the idea and I cannot wait. If you want more information on Michael B. Jordan being the Human Torch, Google it. If you want more information on Talib Kweli visit his website at http://www.talibkweli.com. So in closing, pay attentions, don’t get distracted so often, and FLAME ON!!!