Publix Premium Peanut Butter Pie Ice Cream

Publix Premium Peanut Butter Pie Ice Cream

The problem with this Peanut Butter ice cream, a Limited Edition Publix Premium brand, is that it doesn’t really taste like peanut butter. Perhaps the “Pie” bit should’ve clued me in. The taste is inundated with milk chocolate and an unfamiliar, slightly off-putting cookie ribbon flavor that, based on the description on the carton, seems to have originated on Michigan’s Mackinac Island.

my rating = 3 of 5

Hot And Spicy Cinnamon Oreo cookies

Hot And Spicy Cinnamon Oreo cookies

The words “Hot” and “Spicy” are a major turn-off for me when it comes to food, especially snacks, but these Oreos; “real” cocoa cookies filled with “artificial” cinnamon candy flavor creme, taste better than expected. They’re not good; imagine normal Oreos with a mild hint of Hot Tamales; but okay enough to eat more than a few at a time.

my rating = 3 of 5

audio review : Nasir ( album ) … Nas

audio review : Nasir ( album ) ... Nas

The first song has Nas sounding like a young KRS-One. “Edgar Hoover was black; Willie Lynch is a myth,” he affirms, “Columbians created crack; the government made stacks.” It’s that first part about Edgar Hoover that represents the rapper’s state of mind. He, like too many Americans, is obsessively focused on race and racism; only the white on black type, of course; to the point of going on to claim, hopefully metaphorically, that his first mansion was haunted by white racist ghosts.

But as a rapper, Nas is better than most. Listen to the baby vaccine bit earlier in that same (Everything) song. He has a knack for conjuring thought-provoking imagery to make a social or political point. That he’s rapping to boom-bap beats, often laced with elegant chords, on songs with; and what a surprise this is; melodic hooks is what makes this not only one of his best albums but the best yet of Kanye West’s seven-song Good Music album series. Unlike the others, Nasir is actually good music.

my rating = 4 of 5

2018

audio review : Everything Is Love ( album ) … The Carters

audio review : Everything Is Love ( album ) ... The Carters

I don’t have much to say about Beyoncé and Jay-Z as a couple aside from the former being a pretty, and stunningly sexy, woman who probably wouldn’t be romantically involved with the latter if he weren’t a virtual billionaire. He seemed to acknowledge that with a satirical line about being “ugly” on his last album. This one, a duet pompously credited to The Carters, serves as a follow-up. “Yeah, we had marital problems in the past,” the message seems to go, “but we still in love.”

With that, the title would be better flipped around. Love Is Everything or at least the main theme of this set, which happens to include the same amount of songs as Thriller. “Billie Jean in his prime,” Jigga raps, making no sense, “For the thousandth time, the kid ain’t mine.” If he’s referring to Rymir Satterthwaite, it’s a clever bit. But while his wife might be comparable to Michael Jackson as far as popularity goes, the couple are nowhere near when it comes to the quality of the music.

I like Friends. It’s the one song with a catchy hook. The others represent the type of mediocrity I’ve come to expect from two of the most overrated song artists in the world, though I was (am) a fan of Destiny’s Child. Beyoncé, who now raps, has gotten ratchet and annoying over the years. The Summer starter, co-produced by Cool And Dre, sets the tone for the season; the beats are easily the best thing going here; but The Carters aren’t as Nice as they apparently think they are.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Kids See Ghosts ( album ) … Kids See Ghosts

audio review : Kids See Ghosts ( album ) ... Kids See Ghosts

Kids See Ghosts is a fine album title, but I don’t see the point of using it as a group name. It seems unnecessary, silly even, to use one at all. Kanye West did an album with Jay-Z, and Jay-Z did two with R Kelly, without any pseudonyms. That this set, one of what will reportedly become several seven-song releases from West’s Good Music label, begins with a verse by Pusha T is even more confusing.

It’s the quality of the music that should matter most, of course, and there it’s mostly a middling affair. The beats, which sound like lo-fi hip-hop experiments, do sound good, but they’re too often met with vastly inferior, sometimes downright annoying, vocals. Freeee and Feel The Love both contain grating examples of the latter. It isn’t until the end, literally the final song, that a memorable chorus arises.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

video review : Anderson Silva versus Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night

video review : Anderson Silva versus Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night

There are two leg strikes that should’ve knocked Michael Bisping clean out in this fight. One, a flying knee to the nose, comes at the end of the third round when Silva takes advantage of Bisping foolishly distracting himself over a missing mouthguard. The second comes in the fifth when Silva, backed against the fence, lands the same front kick to the face he knocked Vitor Belfort out with. The fact that Michael Bisping regains composure and continues to pressure his opponent after taking such damage, albeit looking a bloody mess, is a testament to his toughness.

That resilience is ultimately what wins him the bout. That and Silva’s frustrating fighting style, which has him playing “fun games” or standing idle when he should be in attack mode. The former champion seems to overwhelm Bisping whenever he pushes forward, but he doesn’t do so often enough. The beginning of Round 4 is particularly confusing as that’s probably the best chance he has to finish Bisping, still hurt from the jumping knee. Perhaps Silva was fatigued from celebrating his false victory. Whatever the case, I agree with the judges decision.

my rating = 4 of 5

2016

audio review : Ye ( album ) … Kanye West

audio review : Ye ( album ) ... Kanye West

“I love myself way more than I love you,” Kanye West declares, presumably to the general listening public, but surely he could’ve come up with a better title for this… I guess it’s an album, albeit a short one; a mere seven songs, though No Mistakes sounds more like an interlude. It’s better than both Yeezus and Life Of Pablo though, for what that’s worth; and while it’s not quite the old Kanye, it gets close.

Ghost Town, the one song with no rapping, sounds like the karaoke version of an age-old gospel hymn. 070 Shake’s bit is a bit much; they should’ve left the chorus to Kid Cudi; but the song is an easy favorite. All Mine is another, but guest Valee’s falsetto will work your nerves. Like swapping an enchanting synth loop for a basic drum beat at the end of Killing You, it’s the odd artistic decisions that flaw Ye.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Book Of Ryan ( album ) … Royce Da 5-9

audio review : Book Of Ryan ( album ) ... Royce Da 5-9

While an early Eminem feature stands as a major highlight; Royce can never seem to outshine his Bad Meets Evil partner; the album’s magnum opus is a Christmas narrative entitled Power and Royce seems to know it. It’s the only song allowed to go long as the rapper sings the title bit like a career crooner.

The rest of the Book follows the same theme; Royce reminiscing à la Masta Ace on his last two albums; but he’s best when free to rap without conceptual restrictions. He’s worst when he’s just talking, as on the Skits, because his bravado gets annoying when it isn’t encased in clever rhyme schemes.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : The Sex Tape ( album ) … Too Short

audio review : The Sex Tape ( album ) ... Too Short

Sex tapes, the secret video type, are an effective defense against women who engage in consentual sex acts with rich men only to allege rape months, sometimes years, later. Too Short recently found himself in the news on said charges and who better to target than a pimp who’s made a decades-long career on misogynist raps? But the drama isn’t addressed here. This, album number twenty, is business as usual, except it’s one of his best.

Short Dog sounds stylistically rejuvenated as he spits his signature pimp/player shit over an impressive array of hood bumpers. Feelin Somethin and Pull Yo Trophies Out, while no slouches in terms of quality, should’ve been swapped for different songs because they have little to do with Sex, and what sounds like a beat tag just nine seconds into the album is somewhat disconcerting, but the set is surprisingly satisfying on the whole.

my rating = 4 of 5

2018

audio review : Dirty Computer ( album ) … Janelle Monáe

audio review : Dirty Computer ( album ) ... Janelle Monáe

Janelle Monáe refers to sex a lot. It seems to take precedence over romance. She is bisexual, after all, as I suspect most women are. The difference is that she embraces it to the point of celebration. So Take A Byte is a double entendre and Pynk is about vaginas. Why that “y”? Why not? Why not put one of The Beach Boys on the album while you’re at it?

The intro sounds better than most of the actual songs, but Dirty Computer is better than The Electric Lady… if only by a pussy hair. Make Me Feel and Classic Life channel peak Prince; he reportedly contributed to the demo sessions of this album; while Django Jane establishes Janelle Monáe as a force to be reckoned with in the rap world.

my rating = 3 of 5

2018

audio review : Throne Of Game ( album ) … Spice 1

audio review : Throne Of Game ( album ) ... Spice 1

The title is a play on Game Of Thrones, but the cover photo brings to mind E-40’s Hall Of Game; an album released the year 2Pac died that feautures both him and Spice 1. That’s a relevant mention because Spice 1 makes several references to his dead homie here. There’s also a 2017 version of Welcome To The Ghetto and lyrical interpolations of other old Spice 1 songs. Perhaps the rapper; who, with exception of a few verses that have him spitting like the “BG” rappers of today, hasn’t changed much after all these years; is sort of stuck in the past.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing for longtime fans. The nostalgia is as thick as the weed smoke. And most of these beats do bang. When the hooks are left to singers with actual talent in that department; the crown goes to D Perry, though the track he’s on sounds more like what should’ve been the outro than an actual song; the album sounds surprisingly good. With that, aside from a more careful mastering job, Throne Of Game would be better if it were edited down to, say, the best twelve cuts. The “Fuckboy” Flex diss, for example, is mixtape filler.

my rating = 3 of 5

2017