Catch up on what’s going on in pop culture this week.
No genre, no rules. Songs we love that we think you will too.
“Nuggets” / Mura Masa ft. Bonzai: Following releases with A$AP Rocky and Desiigner, Mura Masa is back again with another groovy hit. Bonzai floats atop a caribbean influenced beat, telling us over and over again “I got, I got nuggets.” Not sure what she means, but I guess we agree.
“Thug Life” / 21 Savage: Issa Album brings a melodic and vibrant sound that is quite foreign to the old 21 Savage- however, we can’t complain. “Thug Life” is a catchy, slow tune you need to bump.
“Labyrinth” / Toro y Moi: Toro y Moi is exceptionally good at creating minimalist music that fills up space. Labyrinth is a bouncy track off the recently release Boo Boo, a song that can complement any mood.
“Love is Only a Feeling” / Joey Bada$$: Following an extremely successful release in ALL-AMERIKKKAN BADA$$, Joey Bada$$ brings a smooth, melodic feel in his most recent track. The low-fi sample rings “Love is only a feeling,” as the New York rapper talks of and easygoing way of love.
“Lambo” / Cousin Stizz: Boston based rapper Cousin Stizz is back with a heater. “Lambo” and Stizz’s last track “Headlock,” which featured Offset, have been his most recent work since the 2016 project Monda.
“Did You See” - French Montana (remix): French Montana has been on a roll as of late, and this J HUS remix is nothing different. This collab brings about a PARTYNEXTDOOR / dancehall sound that is sure to make you move.
“Backboard” - Meek Mill ft. Young Thug: “Backboard” is a standout track on Meek Mill’s most recent package release, MEEKEND MU$IC. We get a taste of the old, incomprehensible Young Thug, contrary to a good portion of his latest album.
“Lit” / Steve Aoki ft. Yellow Claw, Gucci Mane, & T-Pain: So T-Pain, Gucci Mane, Steve Aoki, and Yellow Claw walk into a studio together…we’re not sure where this collab came from, but the four veterans made a certified banger. T-Payne kills the hook, which leads to a drop that is clearly influenced by Yellow Claw’s background in dubstep.
“Fake Denim” / Quinn XCII: The always-vibey Quinn XCII is back with a catchy Summer jam in “Fake Denim.” Quinn takes his classic light hearted approach to describe the ‘gold digger’ that dates Quinn for his fame rather than his fortune. The LA based artist exclaims, “No trust fund here / million plays no millionaire / But when you’re drunk and in despair, I’m the one to take out the venom.”
Kendrick’s Visuals: “ELEMENT”
On June 27th, Kendrick Lamar released yet another music video from his album, DAMN. While simultaneously portraying themes of poverty and violence, the video for “ELEMENT” humanizes each scene in a non-exploitative way. In other words, the video portrays scenes of violence as the inevitable, disadvantageous, and inescapable events they are. With over eight million views in less than 48 hours, the visual serves as a “photo-essay,” which references the work of Gordon Parks—a photojournalist, photographer, musician, and director that devoted his life to supporting the civil rights movement. In this, the majority of the imagery within Kendrick’s video is almost identical to photographs taken by Parks. Shortly after the DAMN. visual was released, the Gordon Parks Foundation responded, saying they were “pleased to see Kendrick Lamar recognize Gordon Parks’ important photography while working at life magazine and honoring his legacy.” See Kendrick’s video, as well as some of the frame-by-frame similarities to Gordon Parks’ photographs, below.
Stars Depart Hawaii Five-0
Hawaii Five-0 stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park—also known as their characters Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua—have left the CBS program and will not return for the upcoming eighth season of the series. Prior to their departure, both Kim and Park had been pushing for pay equality with their white co-stars Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin. Variety reports that Park and Kim “were unable to reach satisfactory deals” with CBS studios. Not only do Caan and O’Loughlin make 10-15% more in salary, but they also have back-end deals with CBS that issue them percentage points based on grosses for each episode of the show. CBS released the following statement regarding the stars’ departure: “We are so appreciative of Daniel and Grace’s enormous talents, professional excellence and the aloha spirit they brought to each and every one of our 168 episodes. They’ve helped us build an exciting new Hawaii Five-0, and we wish them all the best and much success in their next chapters. Mahalo and a hui hou…” Though this specific dispute surrounds CBS Television Studios, it is part of a bigger conflict surrounding all of Hollywood today: pay gaps. Email leaks released by Wikileaks revealed huge pay gaps between men and women, and last year, Variety’s salary report disclosed large pay gaps between white and minority entertainers.
SoundCloud Cuts Costs
On Thursday, SoundCloud announced that the company would be laying off 173 of their 420 employees—slightly more than 40% of its staff. On top of laying off staff, the Berlin-based music-streaming platform announced that it would be closing two of their four offices: London and San Francisco. SoundCloud offices in Berlin and New York will stay open. Shortly after the cost cuts, co-founder Alex Ljun released a statement explaining the company’s reasoning, “...we need to ensure our path to long-term, independent success. And in order to do this, it requires cost cutting… By reducing our costs and continuing our revenue growth, we’re on our path to profitability and in control of SoundCloud’s independent future.” About a year ago, Spotify was reportedly attempting to purchase the Berlin-based company, and, this past week, the New York Post indicated that Apple, Google, and Deezer—a France-based streaming service—are all looking into buying SoundCloud. Ljun ended his statement on Thursday stating, “I look forward to sharing more about our future plans in the weeks and months ahead.”
Dacre Montgomery: Stranger Things
According to i-D, 22-year-old Dacre Montgomery is “Netflix’s next big thing.” The young Australian actor is the star of the second season of one of Netflix’s most successful shows—Stranger Things. Like most people, Montgomery binge-watched the first season of Stranger Things last year and was immediately engulfed in the series. When directors Matt and Ross Duffer advertised a new role in the series, Montgomery jumped at the opportunity, and after a skype call with the directors, Montgomery was instantly given the part. In an interview with i-D, Montgomery explained his process: “When the audition came up, I was like 'holy shit' because I was such a fan of the show… But I didn't have any work out, so I couldn't show them anything. I knew I had to blow them away so I ended up making a short film. There was no script so I had to improvise, I even made title credits and put music under it." While the filming of the second season is still under way, Montgomery says he is confident and claims that it all “feels right.” Montgomery’s character, Billy, is based off the idea of creating a human monster that is scarier than the fictitious creature from Stranger Things’ first season.
Uber’s First Ride in Syracuse
In case you haven’t already heard, Uber and Lyft have officially arrived in Syracuse, NY. After both Uber and Lyft were legalized in the New York state budget in April, the apps officially launched in Upstate New York on June 29th. Only six minutes after its launch, Uber received its first ride-request in Syracuse, and, according to the company, the passenger took the Uber from their home to the Blarney Stone—a bar in Tipp Hill. Though syracuse.com states that “the purpose of the trip [was] not released,” it seems only fitting that Uber’s first ride in Syracuse was a one-mile trip to a bar.
by Sabrina Ghantous
Songs we love that we think you will too.
Louis Vuitton x Supreme Pop-Up
You might remember images of red cross-body bags on Louis Vuitton’s runway from Paris Men’s Fashion Week in January. This marked the beginning of the collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme. However, in May, the two luxury brands hit a big roadblock while trying to launch their collaboration—Manhattan’s Community Board denied their request for a pop-up shop on Bond Street in New York City. After Bond Street residents and businesses expressed their concern at a public hearing, the Community Board of 32 members said that Supreme didn’t offer an appropriate management plan for the two-day event. Despite their troubles, the location and date of the world’s first Louis Vuitton x Supreme pop-up shop was released this past Wednesday. Opening tomorrow at 10AM, the pop-up store will be located at 95 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia. The store will remain open until July 13th. According to local sources, there have been people lined up outside the location since the location was revealed on Wednesday.
Review: Baby Driver
Earning a current 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, the Edgar Wright film “Baby Driver” has been described as a compelling, rowdy film featuring a young getaway driver named Baby—played by Ansel Elgort—that works for a kingpin known as Doc (Kevin Spacey). In the film, music plays an integral role in portraying the character and personality of Baby. Suffering from tinnitus from an incident when he was a child, Baby uses music in attempt to ignore the constant ringing in his ears. With his headphones constantly in, he uses a range of iPods depending on his current mood. Not only does the music serve to down Baby’s tinnitus, but also it provides him with the inspiration and motivation he needs to serve as Doc’s getaway driver. As the movie progresses, we see Baby start to fall for a waitress at the diner that his now deceased mother used to work at. The action-meets-romance film also stars Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Eiza Gonzalez. Watch the movie trailer below.
Tyler, the Creator’s Countdown
Earlier this year, fans were discouraged after Tyler, the Creator denied a rumored new album. Tyler’s last album, Cherry Bomb, was released in 2015 with an Illegal Civilization documentary following shortly after. More recently, approximately one week ago, the designer and artist tweeted a picture of a bee with a speech bubble above it reading “7 days boy!”, leaving fans curious and on-edge. Exactly seven days later, Viceland released a trailer for Tyler’s new show—Nuts + Bolts. The show is described by Tyler as “a show describing how everything I that think is awesome, is made.” With the new series airing on August 3rd, some of the things featured will be go-karts, donuts, time travel, and mustard. Although the Nuts + Bolts trailer was released on the day Tyler had been counting down to, it wasn’t the cause for his countdown. Six hours after the Nuts + Bolts trailer was released, Tyler released his first new music since Cherry Bomb: “Who Dat Boy,” featuring A$AP Rocky, and “911/Mr.Lonely,” featuring Frank Ocean. The new track called “Who Dat Boy” was released with a visually-led, self-directed video that can be somewhat disturbing at times. Watch the wild video below.
On Tuesday, the subject and cover of the most recent issue of Vanity Fair was revealed—Serena Williams and her pregnancy. Williams announced her pregnancy in April and, according to Vanity Fair, knew of her pregnancy just prior to the Australian Open. (Williams still competed in and won the elite event). When Vanity Fair unveiled the cover on Tuesday, Williams tweeted asking her followers a question, “what do you guys think, boy or girl? I’m waiting to find out but would love to hear your thoughts.” The 23 grand-slam title athlete will be having the baby with her fiance, Alexis Ohanian. Though Serena is disappointed she cannot compete in Wimbledon this year, she told Vanity Fair that she couldn’t be happier with her pregnancy and soon-to-come baby. See the Vanity Fair cover below.
by Sabrina Ghantous
Songs we love, that we think you will too.
“All Eyez on Me”
Though Tupac’s biographical film brought a good amount of revenue to box offices across the country, “All Eyez on Me” was heavily criticized by the mainstream media for a number of historical flaws included in the film. Along with more obvious inaccuracies—such as the use of an iPhone 7 in a time where the technology did not yet exist—Tupac’s close friend who was portrayed in the film, Jada Pinkett Smith, spoke out on Twitter pointing out more inaccuracies. In a series of tweets, Smith claimed, “Pac never read me that poem. I didn't know that poem existed until it was printed in his book,” “Pac never said goodbye to me before leaving for LA. He had to leave abruptly and it wasn't to pursue his career,” and, lastly, “The reimagining of my relationship to Pac has been deeply hurtful." While the known friend of Tupac was deeply disturbed by the film and its faults, 50 Cent criticised the overall quality of the film, calling it “trash” and a “Lifetime TV movie.” Despite the faulty inaccuracies, other sources claim that there is something interesting to take away from the film—the environment that Tupac Shakur lived in: a space that craved pride, control, and power. Overall, the film is described as messy and inaccurate, yet captivating. See Smith's series of tweets below.
Jay-Z, TIDAL, 4:44
Since last week’s pop culture review, new developments have surfaced regarding TIDAL’s partnership with Sprint and their joint efforts in advertising “4:44.” Initially, the 4:44 campaign, featuring billboards across NYC and a movie-like trailer, strongly alluded to a film featuring Mahershala Ali, Danny Glover, and Lupia Nyong’o. However, on Monday, Jay-Z announced his new upcoming album will be released on June 30th: 4:44. According to a statement from TIDAL, Jay-Z’s new album will be available solely to Sprint and TIDAL customers. As of now, the connection between the movie trailer and Jay-Z’s album remains unclear. While most people anxiously await the release of the new album, some have began to question the exclusivity of the release and the potential decline of TIDAL. As Jay-Z holds a significant share of TIDAL, it is evident that he is supporting his streaming service by releasing his album exclusively on the music platform. Additionally, according to TIDAL’s last figures in March 2016, the streaming service was reported to have only three million subscribers while competition such as Spotify has over 50 million paying subscribers. These two insights have led followers to wonder if Jay-Z’s exclusive release is an attempt to save his own streaming service from failure.
With the hype surrounding the release and acclaim of The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story in 2016, O.J. Simpson’s name and story became a topic of conversation once again. Back in 2007, O.J. Simpson—the murder suspect and football superstar—was found guilty on 12 accounts, including assault, kidnapping, and armed robbery. At the time, Simpson was prepared to spend his life in prison; however, on Tuesday, the Nevada Board of Parole Commissioners confirmed that the rumored parole hearing for O.J. Simpson will be taking place on July 20th. According to a source from the Los Angeles Times, Simpson has been consistently showing good behavior in prison, which subsequently helps his case for parole. Many people believe that Simpson’s chances of being released from prison are very high, but ultimately the decision is up to the parole board. If four out of seven members on the parole board vote for his release, Simpson can be released from prison as early as October. The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story is a 10-episode series that received 22 Emmy nominations in the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards; the show also won a Golden Globe for Best Television Film in 2016. The praised series is available to watch now on Netflix.
Louis Vuitton & Drake
On Thursday, June 22nd, Louis Vuitton’s Spring-Summer 2018 collection hit the runway during Paris Fashion week, and a new song “Signs” from Drake came with it. Though most of the focus has been on Drake’s new song, Kim Jones—Louis Vuitton’s artistic director—stated that the song was inspired by the Spring-Summer collection. Jones posted on instagram the day before with the caption reading, “We are very proud to announce that Drake @champagnepapi will be premiering a brand new song inspired by our #louisvuitton #pfwSS18 collection.” In his new song, Drake uses similar influences to project a mellow, melodic, and rhythmic vibe which in many ways reflects Louis Vuitton’s 2018 collection. Along with Drake’s new song, the fashion show’s entire soundtrack was composed of all new music from OVO. You can watch the runway video below, with Drake’s new song commencing at 5:54.
Directed by Patty Jenkins, “Wonder Woman” hit the movie theaters as the first female-led superhero film since “Catwoman” was released in 2004. Unlike most blockbuster movies, “Wonder Woman” conveys a compelling story that isn’t extremely predictable. The New York Times highlights its unique, fresh nature in their review of the movie, “Its earnest insouciance recalls the ‘Superman’ movies of the ’70s and ’80s more than the mock-Wagnerian spectacles of our own day, and like those predigital Man of Steel adventures, it gestures knowingly but reverently back to the jaunty, truth-and-justice spirit of an even older Hollywood tradition.” Another factor that set the newly released film apart is the emphasis and praise of the superhero’s feminine characteristics. Her greatest trait isn’t her armour, fighting skills, or superpowers, but her ability to feel for others. In this, her overarching goal isn’t to solve some internal conflict of her own, but instead to have the freedom to help others and be respected for it. Overall, the feature film generated a number of positive responses from consumers, describing the movie as “fun” and “a gloriously badass breath of fresh air.”
By Sabrina Ghantous
No genre, no rules. Songs we love that we think you will too.
“Cool” / Zach Villere: If you haven’t heard of Zach Villere just yet, keep an eye on him. The 21-year old L.A. native is making a name for himself with his abstract, quirky yet contagious aesthetic and sound. “Cool” is a lonely, friendly song, as Zach shamelessly explains to listeners, “I just want to be cool.”
“You Said” / Young Thug: Of course, we need to throw a Thugger track on this list. His recently released project Beautiful Thugger Girls is nearly as exciting and diverse as Thug himself. On “You Said,” Thug channels his classic Atlanta flow over a guitar-infused, slower trap beat.
“That Far” / 6LACK: Fresh off tour with The Weeknd and Nav, 6LACK shows that he’s taking no breaks, and playing no games with his new song “That Far.” The Atlanta native doesn’t hold back on the first record since his 2016 debut, FREE 6LACK. Ready to come for the top, he sings “Cause I’m too busy focused on my own sh*t, // I’m on that ‘Who the f*ck came for the throne’ sh*t.”
“Wild Thoughts” / DJ Khaled (feat. Rihanna, Bryson Tiller): Khaled is back at it again, with another summer jam in “Wild Thoughts.” Featured artists Rihanna and Tiller can both do no wrong, as they lead the song with infectious melodies over a Latin influenced guitar hook.
“Love N Hennessy” / A.CHAL: Up and coming urban artist A.CHAL has been making a lot of noise in the hip-hop community with the release of his second album, ON GAZ. “Love N Hennessy” serves as A.CHAL’s way of showing his versatility as an artist, bringing down the tempo and providing listeners with a great track for a night ride.
“GOLD” / BROCKHAMPTON: A lead single off their new album Saturation, “GOLD” serves as the collectives’ hottest track to date. The infectious hook led by Kevin Abstract rings, “Keep a gold chain ‘round my neck, fly as a jet // Boy, better treat me with respect.” This tune is a weekend necessity.
“BabyWipe” / Ski Mask the Slump God: With a personality as big as his tracks, Ski Mask the Slump God hits listeners with a new Summer banger in “BabyWipe.” The heavy 808’s and classic Southeast triplet flow are sure signs of a track to turn up to. Shouting out Post Malone and exclaiming how ‘fantastic’ he feels, the Slump God will definitely be playing on repeat this Summer.
“Blue Cheese” / 2 Chainz (feat. Migos): “Blue Cheese” serves as an undeniable jam, coming off of 2 Chainz recent album Pretty Girls Like Trap Music. Is there anything better than the veteran 16-spitter bringing along Quavo for the hook and partnering up with the rest of Migos to provide us with yet another Summer hit?
“Feels” / Calvin Harris (feat. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, & Big Sean): Calvin Harris’s upcoming project Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1 might just be the summer album to end all summer albums. Following up hit singles “Slide,” “Rollin,” and “Heat Stroke,” “Feels” embodies a familiar summer vibe layered over a catchy, Caribbean-influenced guitar.
“Supercut” / Lorde: “Supercut” stands alongside “Green Light” and a handful of other tracks that fuel Lorde’s crossover to pop radio. With the release of her album Melodrama, Lorde’s transition seems like it will mirror that of close-friend’s Taylor Swift’s journey from country to pop. Lower the windows and blast this 80’s influenced jam on every highway cruise this summer.
“13” / Lany: A trio from Los Angeles, Lany has been releasing music since 2015. Following a string of thoughtful singles, “13” is a mournful yet catchy song about losing love. If you’re having tough time in your relationship, this just might be the track for you.
“Strange Things” / B. Lewis: “Strange Things” takes the most anthemic slow jam on this list. After hearing the first few seconds and chord hits, it’s hard not to be sucked in for the entire track.
“Doves in the Wind” / SZA: SZA’s recent debut album Ctrl has been making waves among the music community since its release just over a week ago. Among the standout songs is the perfectly melo “Doves in the Wind,” featuring a verse by Kendrick Lamar. The two blend perfectly on top of a slow, chill instrumental.
“Fool’s Errand” / Fleet Foxes: Veteran Americana band Fleet Foxes has made a return with their long awaited album Crack-Up. Standout song “Fool’s Errand” acts as a soft, lonely jam, as expected from the Seattle crooners.
View the playlist here:
By PJ Walshe
TIDAL’s 4:44 Ads
First thought to be signaling a new album from Jay Z, TIDAL’s inexplicable 4:44 advertisements have been causing a stir in several major cities and the mainstream media. TIDAL—Jay Z’s multifaceted streaming service—planted advertisements both online and throughout New York City, as well as securing a spot during the NBA finals for a television ad. The TV spot appears to be promoting a new boxing movie, featuring Mahershala Ali, Danny Glover, and Lupia Nyong’o. The final frame of the one-minute clip discloses a partnership between TIDAL and Sprint. Days later, Sprint’s CEO released news that Sprint customers can receive a free 6-month trial of TIDAL’s streaming services with appropriate registration. Below is Sprint’s new 30-second advertisement, featuring Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia.”
Game of Thrones, The Coming Seasons
As the HBO show Game of Thrones returns to television on July 16th for its seventh season, conversation has started regarding the eighth and final season. With the shorter, six-episode seventh season, fans wondered how many episodes the final season would contain, as well as when the eighth and final season would be released. It appears as though we now have answers to these pending questions. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have long stated that the final season would only consist of six episodes, confirmed by Entertainment Weekly. The supposed reason for a shorter season is HBO’s ability to increase the budget and quality on each individual episode. In regards to the release date of the eighth season, HBO’s programming president, Casey Bloys, confirmed in an interview that the final season wouldn’t air until late 2018 or early 2019. This places a full year between the seventh and eighth season, leaving fans with time to deliberate the upcoming seventh season.
Biggie & Tupac Documentaries To Come
A&E is giving the fans of original hip-hop a gift in late June: documentaries of the Notorious B.I.G and Tupac Shakur. The Notorious B.I.G. documentary, titled Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G., will launch in two parts on June 28th-29th and will highlight interviews from the rapper’s mother and widow. Audio recordings and footage from film archives will be included as well. Along with Biggie’s biography, A&E will be launching a six-part series—also on June 29th—on the life and death of Tupac Shakur, titled Who Killed Tupac?. While the Biggie documentary will focus on the life of the Notorious B.I.G., the Tupac Shakur documentary will focus more heavily on the investigation behind Tupac’s murder in 1996. A&E plans to tell more biographical stories on rappers in a series-like format. Pitchfork, The Fader, and Rolling Stone note that future shows include biographies on Kanye West and Chance the Rapper.
Rihanna & Education Advocacy
After being named Humanitarian of the Year in February by Harvard University, Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty has been continuing her education advocacy efforts with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Following her founding of the Clara Lionel Foundation in 2012, Rihanna and the organization partnered with the international group Global Citizen and GPE to push for a quality education in even the world’s poorest countries. As the Global Ambassador for GPE, Rihanna strives to encourage leaders and lawmakers to increase their support for global education. More recently, Global Citizen has released a 10-minute documentary titled Inside Rihanna’s Trip to Malawi for Education. The film itself touches on the struggles that local students, activists, and politicians encounter including poverty, hunger, women’s rights, lack of resources—and many more. As the film progresses, it becomes evident as to why Rihanna continues to adamantly push for educational resources in impoverished countries, specifically Malawi. Watch the short documentary below.
Frank Ocean Takes the Stage
After cancelling festival performances at Primavera, Sasquatch, and Hangout due to “production delays beyond his control,” fans began to wonder if Frank Ocean would—again—retreat from the mainstream. Relieving the panic of his fans, Frank Ocean returned to the stage at NorthSide Festival in Aarhus, Denmark, and again—days later—at Parklife Festival in Manchester, England after three quiet years. Along with the return of the man himself, new ‘Blonded’ merchandise came overseas with Ocean. Later in the summer, Ocean still has planned appearances at FYF Fest in Los Angeles and NYC’s Panorama Music Festival. Whether Ocean will cancel these performances is a mystery. Regardless, fans remain pleased with his most recent performances in Denmark and England. Consequently, these recent events leave us with one question: Is Frank Ocean here to stay?
by Sabrina Ghantous
This past weekend marked the seventh annual Governors Ball at Randall’s Island Park. Known as New York City’s home festival before Panorama and Meadows came to town, Gov Ball is made up of great music, New York culture, and maybe too many amped up high schoolers. Here are the three performers that stole the show.
Childish Gambino never ceases to amaze- and his performance on Saturday was no exception. The multi-genre, multi-platinum artist took the stage wearing all white, backed by an electric band and vocal group. Just a few minutes in, he confirmed two things: yes, this was his only show of 2017; and yes, he insisted that it be in New York City. Performing the best of “Awaken! My Love” and classic hits such as “Sober” and “3005”, Gambino exuded both the intensity of a ‘70’s rockstar and the soul of a preacher. The performance exhibited sounds and aesthetics that spanned several styles of music and performance, and acted as a statement of Afrofuturism. Closing with an eccentric version of crowd favorite “Redbone,” Glover left us with a final cliffhanger: “I’ll see you for the last Gambino album.”
Perhaps the most energized crowd on Day 3 of Governor’s Ball was found moshing to U.K. grime rapper Skepta mid-day at the smallest stage in the festival. While the genre has not fully made its way across the pond just yet, performances by the grime gatekeeper and past collaborator Stormzy proved to solidify its’ presence in the United States. Taking the stage in all black, Skepta lit up the audience by opening with the title track of his most recent album, Konnichiwa. Fans packed the Bacardi tent, rapping along to the most prominent tracks of Skepta’s catalog. Fellow grime artist Shorty joined Skepta on stage, and acted both as a hype man and supporting rapper for several songs in the latter half of the performance. Approaching the end of his time on stage with “Man” and “Shutdown,” Skepta finished his set by playing Playboi Carti’s hit “Magnolia,” as a sign of respect to the New York City crowd.
Cage the Elephant
An intense performance by Nashville natives Cage the Elephant left viewers with one question: was that Matt Shultz or Mick Jagger? Taking the Governors Ball main stage in front of thousands of fans, the lead singer told the crowd, “Let’s throw a party”... and that they did. Cage brought a veteran level of showmanship that was fueled by a young fire and intensity, with ripping guitar solos and charismatic movement on stage. Crowd favorites like “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked” and “Shake Me Down” had fans shamelessly singing along, while the quintet seemed to enjoy every minute they played. At the end of their performance, frontman Matt Shultz paid respects to recent events in Manchester and London, offering the simple bid to fans: “Let’s celebrate love.” After finishing their set with “Teeth,” Shultz jumped into the audience and somehow managed to crowd surf hundreds of feet, over the entire crowd all the way to the back of the audience. It was incredible.
By Pj Walshe
This past weekend at the annual Mayfest celebration, I sat down with rising DJ trio Cheat Codes. Hailing from Los Angeles, California, Cheat Codes has been surely making power moves in the music industry from collaborations with Miguel and David Guetta to a nationwide upcoming tour. Last Friday we got a full taste of what these west coast natives were really about. Check out the exclusive interview below:
What about playing a show on a college campus is so appealing?
College kids go hard. We just love to play shows where the crowd goes the hardest, and we find that colleges are that place. Also we didn’t go to college so by playing at them it gives us that college experience we never really had.
How did you guys break into the music scene?
We just spent every day making music to be honest. We just thought this is what we want to do and we all had the same mindset to go after it and not waste time. We kept releasing music consistently and eventually we had a song called “Sex” that just really took off. Since then it kind of had a snowball effect and we just kept working at it.
Who are some of your biggest influences in music?
Growing up it was a lot of Beatles and Bob Dylan but as we got a little older it was more Blink 182 and pop punk music. But honestly, there is influence for a little bit of everything; Drake, Jay Z, Metallica and Sugar Ray.
What made you want to sign with 300 Entertainment?
The fact that we were the first pop EDM artists to sign with them let us know we were going to be a priority. When we went into the meeting to talk to them we automatically knew they had the same thoughts and visions as us. They understood how important certain aspects of our career was, in addition to streaming; they understood the importance of that. We were super clear on what we wanted and they understood that and believed in us.
What’s your advice for aspiring artists?
Just make music everyday honestly. If your creating every day you are going to make something unique and personal to you and people will latch onto that. Don’t try to be like someone else, create a brand, be unique. Know what you want and go for it. Don’t give in.
What was it like collaborating with Demi Lovato on your newest single “No Promises”?
It was awesome. We performed with her a couple months ago at our biggest performance in Brazil and afterwards her fans kept tweeting us that we needed to collab. Later when we had “No Promises” we just thought, “Man, Demi would be perfect on this”. We sent the song over to her team and we were happy that they loved it. We went down to the studio with her and banged out the vocals; she absolutely killed it. She’s super professional and cool so she really nailed it.
What can we expect from you guys in the following months of 2017?
It’s going to be a big year for sure. The song with Demi was the first step to our new chapter musically. So we are going to be releasing a bunch of stuff. We will be doing an EP this year and a few other singles coming out really soon, alongside the “No Promises” tour and festivals. There’s a lot of stuff that we are looking forward to sharing.
By Gabrielle LaMarco
An introduction to Mayfest's artists:
Victor Kwesi Mensah, better known by his stage name Vic Mensa, is a Grammy-nominated American rapper from Chicago, Illinois. He is currently signed to Roc Nation and was a member of the rock/rap group Kids These Days, which broke up in May 2013. Vicis also founder of the inpenetrable Chicago hip-hop collective SAVEMONEY which includes frequent collaborator and friend, Chance the Rapper. His debut single "Down on My Luck" was released in June 2014 and he’s been taking off since. On February 12, 2016, Kanye West debuted a track, titled "Wolves" from his upcoming album, The Life of Pablo. The song featured Vic, along with other well-known artist Sia. Most recently on June 3, 2016, Vic released a 7-track EP entitled There's A Lot Going On. This EP serves as a prelude to his debut album. Vic is most known to craft well-rounded stage shows, tackling issues of racism, inequality, violence, and mental health with deliberate care and artistry. Vic Mensa will definitely leave a large impression on Mayfest this year. We’ve been waiting on this one.
Cheat Codes is an American electronic music DJ trio consisting of original members Trevor Dahl, Kevin Ford, and Matthew Russell, out of Los Angeles, California. Their name was inspired by Ford's brother who told him that he had found the "cheat code" to getting anything he wanted in life and that they embody the idea that anything is possible. The group is notable for their 2016 single "Sex", which samples the chorus from "Let's Talk About Sex" by Salt-N-Pepa. As well as "Let Me Hold You (Turn Me On)" with Dante Klein, which samples Kevin Lyttle's song "Turn Me On.” However, most recently after being signed to 300 Entertainment, the trio collaborated with pop superstar Demi Lovato on their newest single titled “No Promises.”
Between Vic and the Cheatcodes, and even a very special guest, Mayfest 2017 is sure to an amazing time!
By Gabrielle LaMarco
This Friday, I got the opportunity to sit down with Michael Uslan, producer, writer, and professor. Uslan has produced every Batman film since Tim Burton’s 1989 film, and has produced a number of other projects as well. Uslan’s passion for his profession is electrifying- and it spread through the room as he took the time to speak and have a Q& A with SU Students after the screening of the new Lego Batman movie. Uslan taught the first world credited comic book course based on folklore at Indiana University and teaches two other courses on the business of film production. It was a pleasure to sit down with him, as we discussed his impressive career, Batman’s impact around the world, and any advice he has for future students going into the film industry.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today. I think it’s really amazing that you followed your dreams and passion into your professional career. What advice do you have for the people who want to turn their passion into their job?
It’s one of the most important things in life. Once you get beyond family, you really need to try and explore what your passion is. I work typically, 15-16 hours a day. My Saturday’s and Sunday’s are not different than my Tuesday’s and Wednesdays. I’m on planes an ridiculous amount of time and sometimes I think, if I didn’t love what I do…you’d find me in a stray jacket in a dark corner in the room somewhere. So I think it’s very essential if you’re lucky enough and if you make that one of your goals in life to pursue, it’s just the greatest thing.
What has been your favorite part about producing the Batman films? What is most rewarding to you at the end of the day?
That’s an interesting question that nobody has ever asked me before, ever. I think it starts with when you have a vision for something, and you envision something grand and long-term and then you are… I can’t say the word luck because I don’t believe in luck. Luck occurs when you knock on every door you can, and when it slams in your face you knock again, and again. And at some point, your timing will work out, and that really is luck. It’s the idea of having a creative vision or something and then being able to beginning to ensemble the pieces that can execute that vision and ultimately watch it to get fruition. And it’s funny, a lot of people ask me well you never envisioned that Batman would be this big…but I did. I absolutely did. For 10 years I was the only one who did. So I’ve always believed in this vision, where it hits me the most is moments in time when I realize that this is not about success at a box office. This is about something that has had a cultural impact worldwide. It transcends not only borders, but cultures. The summer our first batman opened when the Berlin wall was coming down. I was watching CNN, and I see this ten year old coming through the wall wearing a bat man hat. When you see things like that, it is so gratifying to know that you’ve had an impact.
As a producer, what is the importance of a great script versus star power?
There are ten critically important things to make a successful movie. Number one is story, number 2 is story, number 3 is story, and number 4, 5, and 6 are story. Number 7, 8, and 9 are character…and number 10 is story. The biggest failing of movies today, and I’m catching a wide net here. When younger film makers come aboard with a fascination with the latest special effects, like showing off the new toy…and in a lot of movies like that, lots of stuff gets blown up…but so do the stories. The stories dissolve, either they’re not there or they are so convoluted. It impacts character development, and it is too great a sacrifice too long to endure. Everything is about the story, and if you’re working in China, or South Korea, or in Europe or Australia, it keeps coming down to the same thing; it all comes down to the story.
I love to hear that, that’s very important to me when I go see a film. Each Batman film I saw, stayed true to the story line which I think is amazing.
The greatest example of that is the genius Christopher Nolan and his Dark Night Trilogy. And the Dark Night Trilogy which I do not break into three movies, i one movie told in three acts. It was real, Bruce Wayne was real, Gotham City was real, the technology was real, and for god’s sake the Joker felt real. That was an amazing accomplishment. Chris was not going for tons of CGI, if the truck was going to flip in Chicago, that truck really flipped… it wasn’t computerized. When batman is standing on top of a spire overlooking a city, there is a guy in a suit up there. It’s not CGI. It really worked, it made it feel real and that was truly amazing.
I see that you were the first professor to teach the first worlds credited comic book class at Indiana University. You also teach two courses at Indiana about the Business of Production Motion Pictures and Live from LA: Pros Make Movies…. are there any skills from teaching that have helped you in other areas of your career?
It works both ways. A lot of what I do as a producer and a writer, I bring to the classroom. When you are teaching students whether it’s 100 students, or 10 students…they will sniff out BS in two seconds. You’ve got to be honest, you’ve got to be passionate about what you’re doing and communicate that passion because that’s the only way you can impact people and try to inspire them. I’ve had incidents where I went in to pitch a TV show.. and the lady asked me if I would mind if the interns could be in the room when you come into pitch. When I went in the next day there were 10 interns in the room. I tried to be passionate and communicate my enthusiasm to them, because it’s like a virus; it spreads. I’ve got to be a great story teller in order to sell a movie. I apply that to the seminars that I teach. I used to be a consulter at a day camp and had very young boys from ages 4-5. After lunch I had to keep them seated and behaved. I started to tell Batman stories. I learned the difference between telling a story, and making an interactive story. If I saw a child drafting away, I would bring them back by engaging them in the story. And that’s what I do when I go into pitch.
I’m so excited to see the new Lego Batman film tonight. What thoughts do you have on the global impact of the Lego franchise?
The Lego franchise is amazing. When you see little kids working with it, and hopefully parents and grandparents and working with their little kids to help them create by using their imagination is a great process. So, the field of animation continues to evolve. You go from 2d animation, and then you got 3d animation, and then 3d Imax animation, and now Lego animation. New techniques and new technologies impact animation. The key is to have the most brilliant writers who can be inspired by this new animation, and not use it to sell products, but use it to tell an effective story. If you can do that- you can achieve great success. The whole concept of Lego is terrific. One of the keys is to make it equally or if not more so enjoyable for adults. Of course x number of years from now the next animation will come along – and we will continue to play in this giant sandbox.
What is the most pivotal moment of your career?
Interesting choice of words… pivotal. The most pivotal moment occurred in 1989 when Tim Burton had completed the first Batman movie. My partner, Ben Melner, and I were about to go into this theater. It was about be shown to us and executives for the first time. To give you some perspective, Ben is my dad’s age. He’s always been like a second father to me. He put together movies like Ben Hur, 2001 Space Odessey and many others- legend in the film industry. Just as we were about to go into the movie, and to get into the theater and I remember there were these very heavy black curtains to go throug. Ben said, “Michael, you are going to walk through these curtains, and two hours from now you’re going to walk out through these curtains, and your life is going to change”. He was right, everything changed. That was the moment. There are many other important moments like when they hired Jack Nicolson to play the Joker. One day after the movie opened, my wife and I were on this Alaskan cruise to get away from it all. And on this cruise, I had an epiphany, I thought, it’s not about being on the top of the mountain, it’s about the climb. It’s all about the journey, because once you’re at the peak; that elation & nirvana lasts two weeks-three weeks, so it’s all about the journey.
What advice do you have for young students who want to be in the film industry?
Run. Flee. Don’t do it for god’s sake, don’t do it. I told both of my kids this, and they are both in Hollywood working. Here’s the deal; this is sexy and alluring, and people have stars in their eyes. In fact, it is one of the most competitive areas of work you can be in. One of the things that unnerve me is that back in the 80s and 90s, people would say I want to be an actor. In the last ten years, I hear I want to be a star. Big difference. You have the best singers and dancers from every high school and college from around the world that go to Hollywood or New York. So you’re entering the most competitive pool. It is not quick, a lot of young people want it quickly these days. It is never going to happen if they stick by their unwarranted sense of entitlement that the world owes them something. It’s the 10% who get up off the couch and make it happen. Those are the ones who will have the best success. That is an important part of the whole industry. If you’re not passionate about it, if your heart and soul are not in it, if it doesn’t course through the blood in your veins, you’re going to have a hard time. Trying to make a successful career in this is not like a war where you fight a big battle and that’s it. It’s a siege and a lot of people don’t understand that.
By Josie Strick
As the highly-anticipated Block Party Line up was announced, it only makes sense to familiarize yourself with all the TOP notch talent rolling through Cuselandia. Travis Scott, Zhu, and AlunaGeorge are the powerhouse artists who will soon grace us with their presence. GUYS, it all makes sense because of Zhu and AlunaGeorge’s history of collaborations. If they don’t play “Automatic”, I’m sure my 2-hour pre-preprepartion to snag floor tickets will be in vain; just kidding, Travis Scott could carry this concert on one half of a tattooed shoulder. No shade.
But why don’t we get to know the artists on an individual basis. Here is a list of the Ear Essentials for each artist with SoundCloud/YouTube links attached.
If you already know these ‘cause Travis Scott is your baby daddy, or think of a better more all-encompassing list for AlunaGeorge…hit me up or let me know!
1. The Hooch
2. Goosebumps ft. Kendrick Lamar
3. 3500 ft. Future & 2 Chainz
4. Sweet Sweet
5. Oh my dis side
2. Faded-Odesza Remix
3. Working For It-Bonus Track
5. Hold Up, Wait a Minute
1. You Know You Like It
2. Mean What I Mean
3. Not About Love
By Georgie Olmeda
Travis Scott, an American hip hop/rap recording artist and record producer from Houston Texas, has had a steady rise to fame since the release of his first mixtape titled Owl Pharaoh in May of 2013. Later in August of 2014, he released a second mixtape titled Days before Rodeo. Following the success of both tapes, Travis released his debut album Rodeo on September 4th 2015 and most recently his sophomore album Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight in early 2016. Signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D music, Travis’s musical influences range from Kanye himself to Bon Iver. These artistic influences are intertwined and heard within his music, which can be described as influential and experimental trap. As one Syracuse University student stated, “There are people who are wordsmiths and people who are composers. Travis is a master at both.” With popular songs such as “Goosebumps,” “Pick Up the Phone,” “Through the Late Night” and an upcoming third album titled AstroWorld, set to be released some time in 2017, Travis is definitely not one to miss at Block Party this year.
SoundCloud: Travis Scott
ZHU is a Chinese American electronic musician and singer who has been on the map since early 2014, initially choosing to release his music anonymously. Since then, ZHU has done everything from releasing hits including his Grammy nominated track “Faded”. He has also collaborated with other well-known electronic artists such as Skrillex and THEY on a song called “Working for It.” In 2016, ZHU finally released his debut album titled Generationwhy, performing the singles from the album at the popular music festival Coachella. From there, he received extreme amounts of praise from critics universally.
AlunaGeorge is the English electronic Duo from London, who met in June of 2009 and consists of vocalist/songwriter Aluna Francis and producer/instrumentalist George Reid. Aluna’s vocals can be described as “sugar sweet” and combines sounds from bass, garage, and dub step. The production by Reid can be best described as “futuristic pop” with the use of advanced minimalistic polyrhythmic beats. One of their most popular songs, “You Know You Like It”, shot up on the American Charts when remixed by popular artist DJ Snake. He track was featured in the movie “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.” The power duo has also done collaborations with other Block Party artist ZHU on two tracks called “My Blood” and “Automatic.”
By Gabrielle LaMarco
Last Friday, University Union held a Q&A with Insecure’s Issa Rae, conducted by Emmy Award Winning host, Zuri Hall. To begin the night, we conducted an interview with E! News’ Zuri Hall. She spoke about the difficulty in conducting a story and turning it into something that the audience could care about in the matter of 20 seconds. She said that as a young black woman, she has not had to push herself into airtime. She credited E! with trusting her and spoke about being worthy “of the one spot they are going to give to a person of color”. Seeing how outlets of expression and creating video content are two things that are prominent on this campus, I asked Zuri what advice she would give to students on the campus of Syracuse University. This is what she said: “Start now. I regret that I didn’t dive in as quickly as you guys have. Now that everyone can create content, you have to do it. It doesn’t matter that there are a million voices in the conversation. Put yours in it and develop your perspective. You have to figure out how what you say or how you say it, is different from everyone else. If they love the way you tell them the news, that’s why they watch. That’s how you stand out. Now on campus, you can find out what works. By the time you get out f the university, you’ll be prepared to pitch and sell your own voice at the channels and networks.”
Zuri then continued to speak about how she got into journalism by claiming that simply put, she just likes to talk. Growing up in theater, her mom and dad wanted her to have a plan B. She wanted to do something that allowed her to talk to large audiences and spread messages. Before the show began, she did explain that it is rather hard to feel like her voice is being heard in a big conversation. She left us by saying that “you have to keep pushing and trust that what you’re doing, you’re doing for the right reason, even when other sources may be telling you something else.”
Over the years, Issa’s ability to connect with others and exemplify raw emotions and reactions has allowed for her to gain over 23 million views and over 200,000 subscribers on Youtube. As eager students sat in anticipation, all aspects of curiosity were suddenly filled in just over an hours’ worth of time. She began speaking about The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl and the lessons she was taught while producing the show. That lead her into speaking about how she used to promote her show, saying she got access to the college listserv and was able to gain an audience from sending her content out among a large group of people. One of the most valuable lessons she learned was how to be comfortable being broke. She quickly transitioned into speaking about getting an offer from HBO to have her show picked up, and how that made her realize that when creating, you may not always have the resources or outlets for expansion that you may immediately desire. Being broke challenges us as youth to find other ways to find what you really want and need. She also explained how she felt like signing with HBO felt like her one shot not to mess up so at first, she felt a lot of pressure.
Issa also spoke about keeping her heart throughout the process of making Insecure. In order for the show to be successful, she had to make sure that she stayed true to what she really wanted to create versus what they, as overseeing producers, wanted her to make. All in all, she explained how she was happy that she got to highlight L.A. with Insecure. She said it challenged her to tell a story in advance and gave her creative freedom seeing how she wasn’t limited with budgeting. Zuri then challenged Issa to speak about growing up and the complexities of her childhood. Issa spoke how she was a thirsty middle schooler who would chat with people and send fake pics online to make more friends because in person, she did not have many real friends. Lastly, she followed up by speaking upon Drake, the inability to go days without eating popcorn, and wearing Chuck’s on dates. As weird as it may sound, she was exactly who fans expected her to be; personable and amiable.
As spring is upon us, University Union has many exciting events coming up. One of these exciting events include the amazing Issa Rae, star of Insecure, coming to campus tomorrow, joined by Entertainment Weekly’s on-air correspondent, Zuri Hall. Issa has used her powerful voice to speak about the many racial issues that affect our every daily life. She highlights the many stereotypes about African American women in Hollywood, and she is ready to make a change. She decided to use her humor and talent to start conversations about the experiences and issues that African Americans face. Issa became determined to broadcast these experiences to the mainstream media in an unapologetic, inspiring way. With a jaw dropping 20 million views and over 200,000 YouTube subscribers, Issa is not someone to miss out on!
Issa’s first web series, Awkward Black Girl premiered on YouTube in 2011. It was instantly a hit through the exposure on blogs and social media. She is unafraid to speak about the many issues she has faced, and thousands are appreciative of her honest approach to discussing racial injustice in our society. As she steadily rose to success, Issa published a novel called The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, which became a New York Times best seller. This was a novel based on her life, and she discusses her personal battle of not fitting in, and her journey to accepting and being confident about her race. Shortly after, she began creating a show that is loosely based off Awkward Black Girl. Eventually, it was given the name Insecure and it premiered exclusively on HBO in the fall of 2016. Issa wrote, produced, and acted in the series. Since then, she was nominated at the Golden Globes for her acting in Insecure and has been given international praise for her creativity. Issa shows no signs of slowing down, and she is someone I am so excited to see grow and reach all the success she deserves. Issa will be speaking on campus tomorrow, March 31st from 8:00 to 9:00 pm at Goldstein Auditorium. Don’t miss out!
By Josie Strick
"My name is Caitlin Russell. I am a Senior at Syracuse and I love being involved in University Union. Being involved in UU has been a crucial part of my time at Syracuse. I've learned so much and have made so many lifelong friends. I love what we do and that we get to bring all these great experiences to the student body. It has been such a rewarding 4 years."
- Caitlin Russell, Public Relations Director, University Union
"Hi. My name is Peter Menaker. I came to Syracuse University barely knowing anybody but luckily, quickly found a group of friends. Although everything was working out, my mom constantly bugged me to join an organization so I can put it on my resume. After a lot of procrastination, one of my friends suggested that I joined this club called University Union. During my second semester with the organization, I started coming to the UU offices and talked to tons of new people. I quickly realized how many students enjoy and benefit from the free movies that we show every weekend. I gained a passion for UU cinemas and believed that it was my responsibility that all our movies went off without a flaw while ensuring that all students had a positive and enjoyable experience. I currently am the Director of Cinemas and without a doubt, University Union was the best decision I made in college."
- Peter Menaker, Cinemas Director, University Union
"I do social media for UU which is so much fun but so much pressure. I have nightmares about posting an important UU announcement on my personal Instagram or even worse posting a finsta on the UU insta."
- Anna Simone, Social Media Team, University Union
"Before coming to Syracuse, I was exposed to a lot of experiences that undoubtedly propelled creativity and work ethic but never had an opportunity to see my ideas in motion. Recently my co-director and I booked Russ, MadeinTYO, and student opener, ye., for the Bandersnatch Concert Series in Goldstein Auditorium. It was a pretty insane experience and seemed like everyone in attendance had a good time. It was pretty crazy experiencing that on a Friday and then having to come back to reality for an exam on Monday."
- Gavin Blasier, Bandersnatch Co-Director, University Union
"Syracuse has given me a new place to call home. UU has given me another. My friends know that UU is calling when I say I'm "heading to the office," but I'll always be happy to answer that call. I'm constantly surrounded by people from all walks of life who are all so different - and so much cooler than me - but all share a passion for one thing: entertainment. As Social Media Marketing Director, with the help of an amazing team, I do my best to inform people about all things UU. I also have anxiety about posting personal things on UU accounts, so I'm crossing my fingers that doesn't happen. That would be pretty awkward."
- Samantha Sarno, Social Media Marketing Co-Director, University Union
"My name is Andrew Idarraga, and I’m a member of the marketing team this semester. I study in the Bandier program and wanted to do something fun that applied to my major. I found UU, and in it, I found a great group of people from all different walks of life with totally different interests."
- Andrew Idarraga, Marketing Team, University Union
"Hi! My name is Alyssa Goldberg and I’m a sophomore Television, Radio, and Film major. I’ve grown up around the entertainment industry in my hometown of LA and have loved performing and had a passion for music and film since I was very young. I am currently part of the marketing team for UU and love the new opportunities and experiences that come from the organization, not to mention the incredible and inspiring people I get to work beside each day!"
"My name is Eva Baldo and I'm currently a sophomore in the Bandier program. I've been performing since I was four, whether it was dance or singing. But coming to Syracuse university I have learned to become more involved in organizations like DanceWorks and University Union. I'm currently a part of the Social Media team for UU and it's been an amazing experience with a team I'm very lucky to have. I get to learn from everyone in this organization every day and it will definitely benefit me in the future as I venture into the music and entertainment world!"
- Alyssa Goldberg, Marketing Team, and Eva Baldo, Social Media Team, University Union
"I learned about UU the summer before my freshman year at Syracuse, and knew it was something I wanted to become a part of. After joining fall semester I was asked to work my first show: TwentyOne Pilots with opener, Travis Scott in Goldstein Auditorium. It was the coolest experience watching the show unfold and meeting the artists afterwards. Since then, I have worked over 20 different UU events leading up to and during the shows as our Marketing Director. Joining University Union was definitely the best decision I've made in college. It has helped me grow both personally and professionally and kept me off the streets of Syracuse. UU has also connected me with the most dedicated, collaborative, and fun people I know-- My closest friends and #UUCuties. In the words of @Drake, "I got a really big team."
- Kelsey Ross, Marketing Co-Director, University Union
“We had never met before until we had to collaborate for our co-director position. We came into University Union with no real prior experience with coordinating events on such a large scale and for the whole student body. But we already knew coming into it that we wanted to diversify the UU platform to be able to reach an eclectic student demographic. We also wanted to have different content discussed in our events than from past shows, and I think we accomplished that from bringing people like James Franco, to our upcoming show with Brandon Stanton. Fun fact we are both from LA. Ibi is the Ferg to my Rocky, we're jiggy, and so grateful to have had this amazing experience in bringing different acts to Syracuse University thus far. We have one more show that will be later in March, be on the lookout for the announce. Peace and good vibes.”
- Ibi Lagundoye and Selina Mohr, Performing Arts Co-Directors, University Union
As unpredictable as it is, 2017 is inevitably a year to look forward to for new artist. As barriers are being broken down and norms are being challenged, us music heads are finding our ears in different directions. The most successful way of spreading music is simply passing the aux cord and introduces those who we've come to hold dear to our hearts as fans. These are our writer's picks for new artists to rotate.
When Rita Ekwere, better known as her stage name Ray BLK won the BBC Sound of 2017 awards, I knew I had some investigating to do on the up and coming artist. Ray was born in Nigeria, but moved to London at the age of 4. When Ray turned 13, she formed a music group called “New Found Content” with her friend, who is also a well-known song writer and artist MNEK. Ray’s debut EP Havisham debuted in 2015, and she also started her own music label to avoid singing a deal that she did not feel comfortable with. In 2016, Ray self-released her debut mini album Durt. Durt, which really captures the true realities of inner-city life, and the struggles she has faced as a woman with a new, interesting twist on hip-hop. Ray decided to put “BLK” in her stage name, because it stands for Building, Living, and Knowing. It seems that this strong and independent artist is about to take the world by storm while staying honest to her true values, and she is definitely an artist to keep your eye on in 2017.
Favorite Track: My Hood
By Josie Strick
Dua Lipa is an English singer, songwriter, and model. She began her musical career at the early age of 14 and was inspired by artists such as Christina Aguilera and Nelly Furtado. Dua Lipa signed to Warner Brother Records in 2015, and is currently planning to release her debut album in the early summer of 2017. She is known for her previous hits such as “Thinking ‘bout You” and her most recent collaboration with Martin Garriex on a track called “Scared to Be Lonely.” Dua’s sound can be described as sultry and sleek pop, which most definitely puts her on the map to becoming pops new “it-girl” artist of 2017.
Favorite Track: Scared To Be Lonely
By Gabrielle LaMarco
Kiah Victoria made me sing in the shower again. One of her standout and most notable songs is called “Hollow,” off of her EP Everybody, released in the summer of 2016. Her music serves as jazzy R&B production reminiscent of a cross between Australian artist Kimbra and the late Amy Winehouse. Her refined runs and penchant for uplifting lyricism makes her the ideal candidate for a casual listen or even intense cry session. Having worked with electronic/hip-hop phenom Kaytranada and Alex Vargas, Maryland native Kiah Victoria is sure to cross your ears on the large scale in due time.
Favorite Track: Hollow
By Georgie Olmeda
Last Friday, University Union held its first Bandersnatch show of the spring semester featuring headliners MadeInTYO and Russ. With two of Atlanta’s rising stars, it was inevitable that a huge crowd would be attracted to whatever venue served as home court. From the usual Schine Underground, this semester’s Bandersnatch show was held in a much needed and bigger area. As Goldstein Auditorium filled with students and residents of the university and city, the speakers thumped as heavy as our hearts did with the adrenaline and hype provided from set to set. Syracuse native Ye set the fire off with gasoline, going through a playlist of nothing but unpredictable drops and calm entrancing vibes. Named as one of Run the Trap’s 25 Artist to Watch 2017, this should be a big year for Ye as he prepares to perform at this year’s SXSW Trap Nation Showcase.
Following Ye was rising star MadeInTYO. Most people know his name and sound from his platinum record called “Uber Everywhere”, but that song was just the beginning. As he explained to me how he’s lived in multiple places such as Hawaii, Virginia, Tokyo, and San Diego, he credited the rise of his music to Atlanta. He further explained to me that in his 6 years in Tokyo, he found himself, allowing for him to find his sound. His energy on stage had the crowd rocking from foot to foot with heavy smiles and head nods. His vibe was so strong that even as a spectator, you felt as if you were performing right along with him. He brought us back to debut EP You Are Forgiven before covering a few more songs from Thank You, Mr. Tokyo. By the time “Skateboard P” came into rotation, everyone’s mood was already at its peak. At this point, there was no coming down.
Russ was undoubtedly one of the fastest growing artists of 2016. Although he has been writing, mixing, and producing his own music for over 10 years, it wasn’t until 2014 when his Soundcloud suddenly hit 40 million plays. Just a couple of years later, he received a well-deserved contract from Columbia Records, marketing his name and brand further across the country in the year 2016. Already hype from Ye and MadeInTYO, Russ came out in his orange Syracuse jersey and served as the perfect main event due to his versatile and fluid set. Watching the audience react made me truly witness the impact of his music; it turned adults into kids. For an hour I watched people jump and scream, even those diesel men who never try to smile. The floor opened up and as he performed, people were literally dancing everywhere He ended with his first Billboard Hot 100 hit, “What They Want,” and from then, Friday night had officially began.
By K. High