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Creative Media

4/4 | December

Today  I want to share with you a few of my favourites from the fourth quarter of the year. Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year when it comes. I’ll see you in February! 

LISTEN:

Slam Poetry

Slam is dub poetry minus the African drum beat. I think slam is what poetry was meant to be until paper got in the way. Porsha O. introduced me to the art form with the genius piece that is,  ‘Angry Black Woman’ and ‘Damn Right’ (Damn right I pay eighty thousand dollars for a education and still walk around stupid…); I keep a printout of ‘How To Cure a Feminist’ by Kait Rokowski on my bedroom door as the last thing I see before I walk into the world, it helps me to  cope with just trying to be a woman; when I saw some pictures from Davianne Tucker’s series this month, her words reminded me of Dominique Christina’s, ‘The Period Poem’; Edwin Bodney’s ‘When a Boy Tells You He Loves You’ will always come to me before love itself…

What I’m saying is this:

I dare you to listen to slam and not feel your blood rushing to your skull a new, I dare you to listen to slam and not think differently about your world, your art and why you aren’t doing more in both areas, I dare you to listen to slam and not feel a little bit more wiser, a little bit more complete and sadly a little bit more stony… the truth tends to do these things to us.

Songs

Banana Clip’ and ‘Told You So’ by Miguel

Taken from his fourth studio album, War & Leisure, these songs prove that Miguel has found the formula. Every, single, song on the album is perfect but these two are a stand out for me. The video for ‘I Told You So’ features some political images, like clips from Trump protests, and Miguel mentions protecting his girl in ‘Banana Clip’ (There’s a war on love/ Just look around you/It’s hard to know who to trust) these things make the album socially and politically conscious without losing the Rn’B power. I feel like that is so rare for modern artistes. I think that this shows the maturity in Miguel’s songwriting and I guess this is why the album is so great to me. He’s not trying as hard with digital funk beats and overt sexuality like he did before, he just lets the dreaminess and the truth of the music happen. Miguel’s  truly the amalgamation of M.J. and Prince for our generation, the only (distant) competitor to the throne is The Weeknd.

Express Yourself’ by Markus Guentner

Equals-film-poster-(2015)

Equals film poster (2015).

To find this piece anywhere is a b!tch, mostly because it’s a part of the soundtrack to the 2015 futuristic romance film, Equals, that came out to a limited release. The film itself is really very pretty and heartfelt, but it’s this piece that I want you to focus on. This music genre I found out is called, Atmospheric Electronica/ Ambient Pop, it’s soothing and freeing so much so that when I wake up and listen to ‘Express Yourself’ with headphones on my mind becomes instantly clear. It’s like I’m being washed by rain on a quiet night on the first day of autumn every time I listen to this. Which is everyday.

Honourable Mentions

The song, Saved’ by Khalid from his debut album, American Teen, for capturing the sad torture that is heartbreak (the whole album is like this, honestly) for Millennials which is kind of scary for a dude who just graduated high school last year– he’s 19 now– and is already up for five grammys next year. Like, what am I doing with my life?

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Erykah Badu and D.R.A.M. perform, ‘WIFi’ at the 2016 Soul Train Awards (image source: Mindy Small/ FilmMagic).

The song, ‘WiFi’ by D.R.A.M. ft. Erykah Badu for being the funniest and weirdest love song I’ve ever heard in my entire life. D.R.A.M opens with the seductive Rn’B whisper, “Do you got Wi-Fi?” and by the time Ms. Badu answers, “Boy I got Wi-Fi!” You’d think she said “Of course!” after D.R.A.M  asked her to marry him. In a way the song perfectly sums up what the Wi-Fi password status in modern relationships mean, it’s more than a hallmark of love, exchanging the Wi-Fi password says, “This a new level, I trust you now.”

The song,Hold Me’ by Janine and The Mixtape taken from her 2014 EP, Dark Mind, for giving me a haunting, distant yet emotional sound about the fear of strong love fading. I call Janine the softer version of Jessie J.

WATCH:
YouTube

Vox and The Verge

I have this vision of creating the Jamaican version of these two channels in the near future. I am obsessed with the content quality from the both of them. This is what news should look like, Vox particularly uses wonderful graphic design to illustrate and simplify complicated news stories and The Verge is practically the benchmark for quick and brutal tech. reviews in my opinion (runner-up: MrMobile). These two channels to me represent the YouTube future that Jamaica should pursue.

Honourable Mentions

Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk for its style and ambition only. The manipulation of time seen from the air (1 hour), the sea (1 day) and the land (1 week) is the star of the film. There is this old fashion sentimentality that you feel whilst watching it,  it’s less about blood and gore and the horrors of war and more about one man’s will to survive. That was really refreshing to see. However, the trade-off is that by the end of the film when they return home I didn’t celebrate with them because they never entered war so catharsis never occurred for me therefore any kind of celebration felt half-baked. 

Bad-Genius-(2017).

A scene from the film Bad Genius (source: Cinema Scope / DCP, 2017).

The Thai film, Bad Genius for giving a face to what The West translates as horror stories about the seriousness of Asian school examinations. Some years ago I remember this picture circulating on Twitter and I remember thinking, if parents would do this, nothing is far-fetched. In Bad Genius a young girl cheats in her exams for those who can pay. The story is entertaining and poignant because after the thriller element thaws you realize that the poor will always be bottom feeders because a lot of times money can always trump hustle and academic brilliance.   

The documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work [watch it here] for showing that aging in Hollywood is a really death sentence but that comedy is one of the few professions that gives you a thicker backbone as you age. Joan says half way through the film:

“It’s such a hard business… this is the one business in the world it is total rejection. I’m 75 and I’m still rejected. In this business you are mud your whole life.”

This was released in 2010 but I wasn’t interested in Ms. Rivers then but, I dunno, I was watching an old interview with her the other day and it surprised me because I felt like she wasn’t dead and so I went looking for her. She’s one of those people who puts up a front for everybody but she’s a real one, and her soul really shines through in this documentary. God rest her soul.

READ:

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

I suggest you read The Anatomy of Story [read a chapter by chapter synopsis here] if you are an aspiring writer who wants to start your journey to actually sounding like a real one. Truby is a teacher and screenwriter so the book gives an exhaustive map of story structure through character and plot. The first 7 steps fleshes out your characters with things like ‘weakness and need’ and ‘desire’ and towards the end the book Truby zooms in on the intricacies of plot focusing on things like ‘theme line’ and ‘moral argument.’ You get homework too as The Godfather, Casablanca and Tootsie are the main examples used to drive home the points.

Disclaimer: read this with a grain of salt. Don’t swat the rules else your writing will become stiff, but don’t forget them entirely else your writing may lose or lack momentum which is something that has to be learned. I am no expert, trust me, more anything after reading this I realized how difficult writing really is.   

Honourable Mention
Obama-and-Trump-during-inauguration-2017

Barack Obama and Donald Trump during the inauguration. (image source: Damon Winter. The New York Times, 2017).

The New York Times’ ‘The Year in Pictures 2017′ for showing that the world is bigger and more troubled than we can ever imagine but that through the timelessness of photography every issue has a voice and every issue has beauty in it. — Bless. 

[cover art by: Shevon Johnson]

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Creative Media

2/4 | June

This is my final article for the month of June. Thank you for reading and I will see you in August!

Today I want to share with you some of my favourites from the second quarter of the year.
Listen

Songs:

Do You…” by Miguel

I believe that Miguel is a needed  presence in the evolving Rn’B scene. He keeps his sound identifiable and dreamy, there is no darkness or insecurity, like what I hear in modern Rn’B crowd. This maturity is especially evident in his 2012 album,  Kaleidoscope Dream. This was the record that introduced Jamaicans to, “Adorn” but my  personal standout is, “Do You…,” a guitar led love song that uses whispered notes and falsettos to express sincerity and need. Lines like, “What about matinee movies/ Pointless secrets/ Midnight summer swim, private beaches/ Rock, paper, scissors/ Wait! best outta three!” feel so euphoric and innocent yet there is a serious intimacy there too. And, yea, Miguel may very well be the Prince of our generation but his success is always somehow undercut by poor promotion. 

Miss Your Sex” by Raheem DeVaughn

Taken from his his fifth album, Love Sex Passion, the album is a collection that marked 15 plus years since DeVaughn has been an Rn’B artiste. From the record, “Miss Your Sex” is the most special to me because behind the lascivious lyrics there  is a layer of passion and heartbreak backed by these grand instrumentals that soar towards the middle of the song… it is just awesome. Two other favourites are: “All I Know (My Heart)” that has the type of slow narrative I grew up with– and miss– from Rn’B artistes like Jaheim (Won’t you sit ya self down and take a seat/ And let me ease ya mind girl) and Maxwell. Immediately following that is, “Terms of Endearment,” a soft ballad that creates a beautiful atmosphere with Boyz II Men like harmonies backing up DeVaughn who glides on notes about how it feels to realize that you are in love and that you are loved in return. It is honestly the most perfect wedding song, ever. The whole album brings back a kind of nostalgia that goes back and forth between true soul and true Rn’B in a way that makes me feel like I have been reintroduced to the genres.

Album:

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Just to begin: Ms. Hill conceived the album at 22 years old. 22. She was also single and pregnant with her firstborn, Zion. I Listened to Miseducation for the first time in full this month and I get now. I really do. Her album is not just a supernova inspiring and promoting blackness and fierce independence and self-expression, it is a symbol of Hip-Hop culture in a decade.

Miseducation is defined by its heavier themes like learning to cope with personal pain (“When it Hurt so Bad,” “I Used to Love Him” and “Ex Factor”) and intense observations of the world (“Forgive them Father,” “Every City, Every Ghetto,” “Doo Wap,” “FInal Hour” and “Superstar”) but my favourite section is the last third of the album that is dedicated to self-love. It is guided by a theme of reverence and as such is deeper than personal, it is spiritual.

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Lauryn Hill made history by becoming the first Rap/Hip-Hop artiste to win Album Of The Year also becoming the first female solo artiste to win five Grammy awards in one night. (photo credit: Steve Granitz).

In my favourite song, the titilar track, (if you want to make me cry just play this) Ms. Hill belts lyrics on self actualisation backed by a church organ. A church organ on a Rap album. Lit. She also asks the Higher Power for humility and strength on, “Tell Him” (… Make me unselfish/Without being blind/Though I may suffer/I’ll envieth not) and inspires on, “Everything is Everything.” John Legend, who played piano on this track whilst in college said of the record, “Lauryn had that blend of toughness and soulfulness, melody and swagger. She did it better than anybody still has done it. People are still trying to capture that moment.” I have never seen Hip-Hop/Rap and Soul and Reggae and Gospel dovetail in such an organic way on a record. This album has my heart, ENTIRELY.

Watch

Films:

Train To Busan

Think, the claustrophobia of Snowpiercer meeting the horror and hysteria of 24 Days Later served with  a fun side of class conflict.  A South Korean family, a father and his daughter, are caught in the middle of a zombie epidemic which they find out about whilst leaving Seoul on the final train to Busan. The set up is not bloat heavy, so 15 minutes in, the action begins and I respect that. I also liked that unlike Hollywood films, Train To Busan has a moral struggle as well as several mini heros giving the plot some heft, and the action is also oh so sweet. As far as zombie movies go you won’t find anything exceptional in this film but it does everything exceptionally well and while watching it I kinda saw why Train to Busan became the highest-grossing South-Korean film in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore last year alone. It doesn’t miss a beat.

Captain Fantastic

This is an indie film detailing the lives of a family who chooses to abandon society for an eco-friendly lifestyle. The drama comes when the wife leaves and the father and his six kids have to reenter society, providing for some very humorous circumstances.  Can I tell you how inspired I was by this movie? Like, I want to raise my children like this. Swear. But what I really liked was that Captain Fantastic not only served to highlight how inadequate society is in terms social issues like, health care (“Why ar they all so… fat?”) and how it fails to help our children to think critically but it also shows us the disasters, albeit funny, that can happen when any lifestyle is taken to the extreme. Yo, parenting has never looked as interesting to me.

Television:

Fleabag

This is a six-part BBC Amazon sponsored series that is similar to Lena Dunham Girls, in that it is provocative and observant comedy about a sexually active woman whose personal life is in a tailspin, but Fleabag is more crude and more unorthodoxed than Girls. The star of, Fleabag is completely loveable; she breaks the fourth wall often to reassure us– her friends– of what will happen after she messes up but it is her step-mother who takes the series for me. She gives the word bitch new meaning by being sweet and demeaning while still managing to appear completely innocent and charming. You feel sorry for the title character until you understand how terrible of a person she is, but somehow you understand. She is self-destructive and selfish and full of self-hate because she is in pain and because she is lonely {sigh}. Fleabag is brilliant black comedy.

bbc-fleabag-season-1-Phoebe-Waller-Bridge

Fleabag (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and her sister, Claire (Sian Clifford) in a scene from the comedy series, Fleabag, 2016 (photo credit: BBCThree)

The Bullsh!t Award

So, the Cosby case in a sentence: more than 60+ women came forward to say that they were drugged and raped by Cosby; the defense in court said that never happened, if any sexual relations happened it was consensual and then the jury pretty much set him free.

Whether you want to attack the Bill Cosby case from the point of view of, what is consensual sex, or from the view of the power of celebrity, is your issue I am not here to take sides but The Bullsh!t Award for this quarter goes to the jury in the Bill Cosby trial who deliberated for over 52-hours and because they couldn’t make a decision, allowed Cosby to walk. Where is the justice in that? Feel like this is an O.J. Simpson situation enuh… Cosby will go free for this but they will catch him for something else hella petty in the long run.  I can feel it in my bones.


Honourable Mentions

The song, “Biggest Fan” by Lila Iké for being a budding female Chronixx in the making.

The song, “Body” by Syd for being the finest single on her debut LP, Fin. It is a simple, sultry, smooth sex jam that incorporates lyrics about sensual predation typically used by male artists like R. Kelly only this time it is seen from the female perspective and that is something that I can really appreciate.

The French film, Elle for taking a complete opposite route on how it handles the subject of rape. Elle, a wealthy woman with an infamous past, in trying to learn the identity of her rapist, engages them both in a cat and mouse game that has a marvelous end. The film is deliberate and quiet in how it explores relationships like most foreign films I have watched and there are some grimy scenes that aren’t for everybody but if you can get through that you will see the amazing way in which a taboo subject finds precise and icy revenge that is just fresh and fearless to me.

[cover art by: Dan Bunea]


 

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