Hot and Cold: Week of 4/9

johnchoposters

Want to know what I think about the “Queen of Katwe” trailer, Becky with the good hair, Justin Bieber and more? Of course you do! My opinions are just like Kevin Hart movies — the world doesn’t necessarily need them, but they’re at least mildly entertaining. Or so I hope. 


 

HOT

 

1. #StarringJohnCho

So y’all know that the lack of Asian-American representation is a big issue for me (and should be, for everyone), so of course I was ecstatic to hear about William Yu’s campaign to raise awareness about the lack of diversity in film today. Yu noticed that so many films and their posters often only showed white people, so instead he decided to replace actor John Cho, of “Harold and Kumar” and “Stark Trek” fame on posters for films like “The Martian” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

He says that he wanted to show people evidence that “having an Asian-American star in a leader role wasn’t quite so crazy or outrageous,” and I think he did a damn good job of that. Cho is relatively well-known, attractive, a good actor — why wouldn’t it be fitting for him to play a leading role? I’m tired of seeing Asians not represented, or only shown as stereotypical characters, so this whole campaign gets a two thumbs-up from me.

It’s got me thinking though, what other famous films could we see with Cho substituted in? “Charlie and the CHOcolate Factory”? “CHOcolat”? “The Truman CHO”? The possibilities are endless.

 

2. “Queen of Katwe” trailer

The trailer for the upcoming Disney film, “Queen of Katwe,” came out on Tuesday, and I started crying 30 seconds into it. Going by that sign, I think my tear ducts will be permanently emptied by the end of the actual film. It’s awesome to see a story about black people that isn’t about slavery or child soldiers (not that there aren’t great films about those subjects), and is about black kids seeing the power in themselves and taking initiative to make their goals happen, without the help of the Nice White People that we so often see. Also, Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyelowo are in it, so it should be a great time.

queenofkatwe

3. Rachel Roy and Rachael Ray have each other’s backs

I can’t believe this is an actual thing that exists in the world. This entire situation is so messy, I have to break it down step-by-step to convey how hilarious the whole ordeal is.

Phase 1. Beyoncé implies Jay cheated on her with “Becky with the good hair” in one of her songs from “Lemonade.”

Phase 2. Rumors spread that Rachel Roy is Becky. 

Phase 3. Some people mistake Rachael Ray for Roy, because obviously they are the same person.

Phase 4. People start attacking Ray on her Instagram.

Phase 5. Rachel Roy sends Rachael Ray flowers and Ray gifts Roy with “a big bottle of wine and a straw.” 

Phase 5. Rachel Yang is confused as hell. But good for them, girls lookin’ out for girls. 

 

COLD

1. Justin bieber’s new face tattoo

When I first saw the Instagram picture of him with the new tattoo he got this week, I spent about 3 minutes trying to locate exactly where it was since it’s so small it might as well be a smudge. Look Justin, if you’re trying to convey that you’re a badass who doesn’t give a fuck, instead of a Canadian pop sensation who got famous from YouTube, make the tattoo at least bigger than an atom. Go big or go home, Justin. When Gucci Mane’s ice-cream tattoo is more intimidating, there’s a problem.

 

biebstattoo

Not to pull a Perez Hilton or anything, but come on Justin, really?

2. Azealia Banks’ Twitter tirade 

Where to begin? Azealia Banks’ Rant of Terror on Twitter was almost impressive in the breadth it covered — in just one day, she managed to sling derogatory statements about Zayn Malik, Skai Jackson, the Desi community, the LGBT community and women in general. Her account was (rightfully) suspended and she was pulled from the Born & Bred music festival, but these actions have spurred even more conversation about the fact that while her account was suspended, others who are spewing hate on Twitter have gone unpunished. That’s definitely a dialogue that should be happening, but for now, I’m glad to be free of Azealia Banks-related news.


 

Catch you later!

 

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Rachel Reviews: French Montana’s ‘Figure it Out’ ft. Kanye West, Nas

figureitout

 

Although the announcement of the song neither surprised nor excited me, I was pleasantly surprised after watching the music video for French Montana’s “Figure it Out,” which just dropped today.

Here are some of my random thoughts while watching it:

  • hate to say it, but Kanye’s auto-tuned singing is kinda the best part of the song
  • enjoying the motocross x private jet aesthetic
  • I can’t stop laughing at the unsubtle Ciroc product placement in the background
  • why is French wearing all white while being surrounded by bikers driving around in dirt??
  • French still remains my least favorite rapper, although his verse here is a huge improvement from his part in A$AP Ferg’s “Work (Remix)” (which includes lines like “Her ass fat, you could park ten Tahoes on it”)
  • Kanye is only a featured artist, but it’s basically Ye’s song at this point
  • the entire vibe changes when Nas comes in and reminds everyone who’s the real rapper here

 

 

figureitoutplane

 

Overall, the song is pretty catchy but slightly forgettable. I also really wish Nas’ part was longer .

Rating: 7.5

 

BREAKING: Is this Chance the Rapper’s album cover for ‘Chance 3’?

chance3

 

On April 30, Chance the Rapper tweeted a picture of what seemed like an album cover, as well as a link to his site where fans could buy the poster version of the picture.

The cover features an illustration of Chance, wearing a baseball cap, in front of a hazy, orange-reddish celestial backdrop. Since it resembles the style of artwork from his acclaimed mixtape, “Acid Rap,” it had the likes of Vibe writer Jessica McKinney wondering if we’re due for “Chance 3,” the Chicagoland rapper’s next project.

 

acidrap

 

For me, “SURF” was an eclectic and unique album, but nothing can top Chance’s 2013 mixtape, so if “Chance 3” is anything like “Acid Rap,” I’ll be a happy camper. For now, the only thing to do is wait … and listen to “Acid Rain,” for the umpteenth time.


 

 

Rachel Reviews: Drake’s ‘VIEWS’

Drake-Views-Album-Cover

 

I know, it seems strange to review Drake’s “VIEWS” first, which came out after Beyoncé dropped “Lemonade,” but I was sent zip files of both albums by people (who shall remain unnamed) on the same day, and “VIEWS” just happened to load first. That’s pretty much the extent of my reasoning. I’ll try and put out a review for “Lemonade” (as if you haven’t heard enough about it yet) soon, but for now, read on to see what I think of Drake’s new album. Thanks for visiting!


 

There are 20 songs on “VIEWS,” so I won’t do what I did with Kendrick’s “untitled unmastered” and review each track individually — instead, I’ll mention a few overarching themes, as well as my picks for the best and worst songs from Drake’s fourth studio album.

 

MAIN TAKEAWAYS

 

1. “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and Drake — Drake took the one more traveled by”

I guess this is my pretentious way of saying that I think Drake is rehashing the same topics and personas he’s tackled before on his previous albums. There’s the paranoid, untrusting Drake from “Energy” that pops up again in “Keep the Family Close” and “U With Me?”. We also have the braggadocious, “I’m better than everyone,” 6-God figure we’ve heard in “Started from the Bottom,” and now hear in “Hype,” Grammys” and “Pop Style.” And of course, the unlucky-in-love and pining Drake reappears in “Redemption,” “Faithful,” “Too Good,” “Fire & Desire” and most famously, his 2015 hit “Hotline Bling.” There really aren’t any new topics he’s bringing up here, which is a little disappointing and which keeps “VIEWS” from reaching Classic Album status to me. But granted, some of these songs are catchy as hell, so I’ll let him slide a bit.

 

drakecrying

2. The production is on-point, almost too on-point …  

Longtime Drake collaborator and friend Noah “40” Shebib produced the majority of the album’s songs, so you know it’s going to be good. However, there were times when it felt like the production was so great it overshadowed what Drake was trying to get across. A prime example is on “9,” the second song on the album. It starts off cool and dream-trance-y, but Drake fails to say anything important or memorable for me, except convey a general sense of “I’m coming for you, bitch,” which isn’t anything fresh from him, although the phrase “turn the six upside down, it’s a nine now” makes me laugh.

“Feel No Ways,” the fourth track, has some really cool retro sounds going on, thanks to production by Jordan Ullman, one half of OVO-signed duo Majid Jordan. The group’s known for its smooth and ultra nostalgia beats (Frank Ocean reference, anyone?) so I totally dug the vibe, but again, I didn’t really care about Drake’s lyrics. He’s done at least five other songs (probably more) about how he can’t move on from a relationship, so what else is there to say?

Moreover, while the production of each song was generally solid, there were times when the sound felt discordant. I get it’s supposed to reflect the changes in Toronto’s seasons, but each season/section of the album didn’t really seem to connect to the other. It jumps from orchestral and big-band reminiscent on “Keep the Family Close,” to retro on “Feel No Ways,” classic R&B with “Weston Road Flows,” then dancehall and afrobeat on “One Dance.” They’re all cool sounds on their own, but together it feels a little messy.

3. What’s Hot

There are some great tracks on the album, the first being “Hype,” which as I mentioned, is standard Drake bragging (“They wan’ be on TV right next to me / You cannot be right here next to me”), but it’s seriously intense and probably one of the hardest-hitting songs on the entire album.

Next is “Redemption,” which is Drake crooning at its finest. I loved the lines “Aw, please give me time / Cause I’m searchin’ for these words to say to you,” which was accompanied with a kind of sincerity that makes me slightly less annoyed that he keeps doing these same kind of lovelorn songs.

Another of my favorites was “Faithful,” the ninth track on “VIEWS,” and dvsn’s verse completely stole the show for me. The album has contributions from the likes of Future and Rihanna, but without a doubt my favorite feature was from the lesser-known act dvsn (or is it Dvsn?), the other Canadian R&B group signed to OVO besides Majid Jordan.¹ It was actually breathtaking to hear Daniel Daley’s² lush vocals, accompanied by the chorus — and when he hits those high notes … 

damndaniel

Sorry, I had to.

Other highlights include “One Dance” and the song everyone and their mother know, “Hotline Bling.” They were released before “VIEWS” came out, so I don’t have too much to add that hasn’t been said already. The latter is insanely catchy, but also condescending when you really examine the lyrics (why is Drake trying to stop this girl from being independent and having a good time??), so take it with a grain of salt.

4. What’s Cold

There wasn’t any song I hated on the album, but tracks like “Weston Road Flows” fell a little flat for me, especially with the way Mary J. Blige’s song, “Mary’s Joint” was used. Was it just me or did it sound like someone was playing that track twice at the same time? It just seemed messy and disjointed to me, although there were some great throwback references in the song, from TLC to T-Minus to Hpnotiq.

I also found both “Child’s Play” and “Pop Style” to be quite dumb, although the latter is slightly catchier. The former is pretty patronizing and basically says to the girl in question that if she doesn’t act the way Drake wants her, he’ll “give [her] back to the hood.” Also, lines like “she rode that dick like a soldier” won’t be putting him into the lyrical Hall of Fame any time soon.

Furthermore, while “Pop Style” is fun, I feel like the line, “Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum,” compels me to hate it on principle. I expect that from someone like 2 Chainz (it certainly would make more sense given his moniker), not Drake. That’s probably one of the dumbest things I’ve heard thus far in the year, and that’s taking into account the fact that I found out they’re making Angry Birds into a goddamn movie.

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

Like I said, “VIEWS” is far from a classic album, but it still has some really great tracks. There are slow jams for those inclined to sit and reflect while sullenly nursing a glass of red wine, but for people who want to get up and move, the album provides tracks for livelier scenarios as well.

Overall, I see “VIEWS” as more of a bridge to cross before getting to the really good stuff, and it makes me look forward to what Drake has to offer in the future. Apparently he’ll be coming out with more stuff in the summer, so stay tuned for that.


 

Scale: 1 (frozen) – 10 (boiling)

Rating: 8, or the attractiveness of white Chrises.

There are so many Chrises, I kind of forget who’s who. There’s Evans, Pine, Hemsworth, Pratt — the list goes on. They’re all attractive and probably really nice, but no Chris really sticks out to me since they all have that superhero-playing-suburban-dad-who-barbecues thing going on. Drake’s album is comparable: it’s catchy and agreeable, but not really that different from “Take Care” or “Nothing Was the Same.”

See you soon for Beyonce’s “Lemonade”!


Footnotes, because I’m fancy

1. What is it with Canada these days? They’re killing it on the R&B front: There’s The Weeknd, PARTYNEXTDOOR, Majid Jordan, Tory Lanez, dvsn, etc.
2. Disclaimer: I’m not 100 percent sure if it actually is Daniel Daley on the vocals. Besides producer Nineteen85, it’s still unclear who’s exactly in the group, although there are rumors Daley is also part of dvsn. So for now, I’m assuming it’s Daley singing in “Faithful,” otherwise my meme-ing doesn’t work at all here.