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 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