video review : Hush

video review : Hush

Hush, about a masked murderer intruding the home of a deaf/mute woman, is relatively uneventful until about twelve minutes in. That’s when the tension takes hold and never really lets go. It’s a balance between thrills and realism, trills tipping the scale more often than not, as the two protagonists play a night game of cat and mouse for the sake of the plot. The killer’s mask should’ve stayed on till the end though as it only adds to the creep factor in a movie built upon a premise that is genuinely scary.

my rating = 4 of 5

2016

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audio review : 12 Nights Of Christmas ( album ) … R Kelly

audio review : 12 Nights Of Christmas ( album ) ... R Kelly

This is 12 Play, the Christmas edition. I’ll give R credit for not including any covers. The problem with these new original songs is that they lack the magic of a typical holiday carol. The vibes are smooth and soulful in the style of the Love Letter and Write Me Back albums; there’s even a song called Letters with eggnog drip snares; but 12 Nights is nothing to write home about. It’s rather music to play softly in the background while Christmas Lovin under the mistletoe.

my rating = 3 of 5

2016

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video review : Creepshow 2

video review : Creepshow 2

There are only three stories this time, but perhaps that’s a good thing because this show is much better than the first. The Old Chief bit is dumb, but The Raft; a cross between The Blob, Jaws and Stephen King’s Cujo; is interesting enough. It has four college partiers stranded in a lake, on a raft, at the mercy of killer slime. The best story is the final one, about a woman who accidentally kills a Hitchhiker on her way home from having sex with someone other than her husband. It’s the one tale that is truly creepy.

my rating = 3 of 5

1987

video review : Creepshow 1

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audio review : Filthy America [ It’s Beautiful ] ( album ) … The Lox

audio review : Filthy America [ It's Beautiful ] ( album ) ... The Lox

This is the first official Lox album since 2000. Yes, it’s been that long. The Trininty set was just EPs and a mixtape. Perhaps Filthy America should’ve been another one. The album, which would time-in at a mere thirty-something minutes if not for two skip-worthy interludes, sounds more like a mixtape than the long-awaited follow-up to We Are The Streets. Ryde Or Die Bitch remains my favorite Lox song. Nothing here comes close, though The Agreement, which has a similar concept, is a notable highlight.

my rating = 3 of 5

2016

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video review : The Omen

video review : The Omen

Baby Damien seems normal enough, at least as far as his adoptive parents are concerned, but as he grows older, strange things start happening around him. This is a horror movie based on Christian theology, so the monster is an unseen force known as The Devil and Damien is its son.

With that, The Omen might be a real scare for Bible believers. To me, it’s sort of silly. The Nanny should’ve been the lead villian. There’s some interesting tension happening between her and the parents early on. Damien and his evil antics, which, to his credit, are inadvertent, are comparatively dull.

my rating = 3 of 5

1976

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audio review : Edutainment ( album ) … Boogie Down Productions

audio review : Edutainment ( album ) ... Boogie Down Productions

Boogie Down Productions isn’t about making you dance. It’s about providing knowledge, the kind that centers around uplifting the black race. It’s stuff you must learn, no matter what color you are, but you won’t learn about it in that boring history class with the old white teacher, so it’s up to KRS-One; a “Teacha” in his own right; to put the equivalent of a book in your head. He does that with rap music, which, as the title cleverly suggests, educates and entertains.

The album is enveloped around a college lecture. “Black people have created every music you hear out here in the street today,” he claims. Even if you don’t subscribe to his ideology, which would border racism itself if not for a song that explains he’s not just a “black man speaking out of ignorance”, you can’t deny the quality of the music. The rhymes are thoughtful and the beats; the Breath Control sequel, a reggae joint, being the best among them; are funky-fresh all the way.

my rating = 4 of 5

1990

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audio review : The D-Boy Diary [ 1 + 2 ] ( album set ) … E-40

audio review : The D-Boy Diary [ 1 + 2 ] ( album set ) ... E-40 audio review : The D-Boy Diary [ 1 + 2 ] ( album set ) ... E-40

E-40 showed us his Ghetto Report Card, Ball Street Journal and Block Brochure, so why not his D-Boy Diary? It’s an interesting read if you focus on the verses; he’s still a charismatic rapper; but you’ll have a hard time finding a good song among the 42 presented here. Too Many dumb hooks over cookie–cutter trap beats, the latter being much more tolerable than the former.

my rating = 2 of 5

2016

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audio review : We Got It From Here [ Thank You 4 Your Service ] ( album ) … A Tribe Called Quest

audio review : We Got It From Here [ Thank You 4 Your Service ] ( album ) ... A Tribe Called Quest

Fans of A Tribe Called Quest, a rap group from the 1990s, should be relatively happy. This new album, as far as beats and rhymes go, sounds a lot like their old ones. In fact, listening to Q-Tip’s voice, you’d think it was. It’s as if he hasn’t aged. Phife Dawg died earlier this year, which means a major part of the album, which is reportedly titled by him, was recorded before he died. It was also reportedly recorded not long before, as a new project, as opposed to stale leftovers from previous albums.

The best parts are the aforementioned beats, one of which I wish backed guest verses from De La Soul or The Jungle Brothers, Black Sheep even. Enough, Q-Tip’s charismatic rap of which is my favorite part of the album, could’ve been a sequel to La Menage. But that’s nostalgia talking. Busta Rhymes is featured. Andre 3000, Kanye West, Anderson Paak; they only manage to annoy. This final Quest album is ultimately decent, though it is off-putting how it comes so long after the others.

my rating = 3 of 5

2016

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audio review : Joanne ( album ) … Lady Gaga

audio review : Joanne ( album ) ... Lady Gaga

Fans expecting Lady Gaga to return to her electro-synth roots after that ill-conceived jazz album she made with Tony Bennett will be disappointed. There are hints of nostalgia; Dancin In Circles and Perfect Illusion are vintage Gaga; but Joanne is ultimately another detour, this time on the back of a horse thru the world of contemporary country music. Left behind are the pulsating club beats that have always generally been the best part of a Lady Gaga song.

Those beats are what almost made Artpop, her previous solo album, good. Even its worst songs; Donatella and Swine; are laced with innovative production. Joanne, while not bad, is comparatively mundane. So its worst; the sappy Million Reasons; is a chore to get thru. The dreamy coda of Angel Down is enchanting though; it’s a shame the whole song doesn’t sound like that; and Joanne, the song, has some interesting vocal melodies happening on the chorus.

my rating = 3 of 5

2016

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audio review : Say Thank You ( song ) … Jill Scott

“I used to be stuck,” Jill Scott declares, “inside a lie that… ain’t nowhere near the absolute truth.” She’s also stuck in the past, which “ain’t” nowhere near a bad thing. It’s the early 1970s and the genre is psychedelic soul. At least that’s what the music, passionately produced by Andre Harris, suggests. There’s no singing here, just a poetic monologue presented as if Scott is standing on stage in a dank after hours jazz lounge with only a few tipsy people listening.

my rating = 4 of 5

2015

audio review : Woman ( album ) ... Jill Scott

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White Castle Cheeseburgers

White Castle Cheeseburgers

This grocery store version of White Castle cheeseburgers; the best tasting fast-food burgers I ever had; doesn’t match-up to a fresh batch from the actual restaurant, but it’s not far behind. The trick is to let the sliders, kept frozen, thaw in the refrigerator before “use”, as the back of the box instructs. That way they have a chance to cook (heat-up) thoroughly, outside and inside, when you zap them in the microwave oven or, if you’re really feeling yourself, steam them on the stove. Add crinkled pickle slices for maximum deliciousness.

my rating = 5 of 5

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audio review : Braver Than We Are ( album ) … Meat Loaf

audio review : Braver Than We Are ( album ) ... Meat Loaf

Bat Out Of Hell 3 came a decade too early. This should be it. The first two Bat albums consisted of Jim Steinman songs. The third broke that tradition; half of the songs were composed by other people; but this album, the title of which comes from a track I’ll get to shortly, takes it back. Every song is composed by Steinman, though they’re not really new. Most were released or performed years ago by other singers, the oldest going back to the 1970s. That makes this a Meat Loaf cover set.

Listen for a nearly-twelve-minute epic entitled Going All The Way Is Just The Start, a quote of which also titles the album. It’s one of the best songs, if not the best song, Meat Loaf has ever sang and Jim Steinman has ever composed, an operatic classic. Why it doesn’t “start” the set, like the similarly majestic Anything For Love did on Bat 2, is a mystery to me. Godz, a quirky military anthem, is fun, but Going All The Way is in a class by itself. Everything else here pales in comparison.

my rating = 3 of 5

2016

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