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“The Mission” video by Tory Lanez

Tory Lanez is an emerging hip-hop artist out of Toronto, Canada. With striking similarities to his Canadian brethren at OVO (Drake and PartyNextDoor), the 22-year old is definitely a promising artist to watch for. Not only can he spit hard bars on the mic, he can also hold a note when crooning the ladies, too. He has a smooth r&b driven sound but levels it out with his hardcore rapping style.

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With the video of Drake airballing being shopped around everywhere like the name of it was Superhead, people are wondering if this means his credibility has diminished. Has it? I wouldn’t go that far to say that he lost his street cred but it did hurt a little bit.

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I recently sought out to purchase a brand new pair of headphones, since I let my mother keep my two other headphones. Best Buy had the Sony MDR X10 series headphones on sale for $100 bucks but since they didn’t have any in stock, I looked toward Skullcandy’s Skull Crushers; I never had a problem with Skullcandy before. I’m not an audiophile so Skullcandy works just fine for me. The Skull Crushers have a feature to amplify bass in songs to literally shake, rattle, and roll your head into frenzy. But why is bass so important?

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Rap More Words

Generally speaking, skits are annoying. They always seem to come up on shuffle, they’re frequently gross (I’m looking at you, Big Sean… why would you ever think people would want to listen to what you put on “Freaky?”) and they aren’t usually pleasant to listen to. Unless the album is a concept album with a story that progresses because of the skits—as is the case in “Good Kid, M.A.A.D City”—or if you have Tracy Morgan cracking jokes, like he does on “Wu-Massacre”then I’d usually say they only hurt an album.

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summerWhen you think of summer you think of beaches, pool parties and loud music. Though summer is home to major movie blockbusters, summer is also the home for the newest hip-hop and R&B releases. Everyone lives on a soundtrack that’s playing in their head to get them through the day. Music is life and influential and it’s the reason why we [the writers] contribute to Here are five of my most anticipated summer releases.

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ft hood shooting 2014
Of course not but it’s blamed for so many other things, I thought I’ll catch your attention.

In response to the Ft. Hood shooting, Butler Shaffer wrote a short blog post (here) noting what has long been true about the military. Despite military members being “trained to destroy the ‘enemies,’ the cost to this “militaristic thinking and behavior” often results in the “dispirited destruction of the inner life—the psyche and soul of the individual—which often generates mental illness and a propensity for suicide by those unable to live with what they have done with their lives.”

I haven’t seen the shooter’s, Ivan Lopez, counseling report to confirm this particular shooting is exemplary but as time passes, more information will be available to make a judgment. To my knowledge, the only thing certain as of yet is that he was diagnosed with PTSD, which we can almost say with certainty he was prescribed psych drugs.

The “dispirited destruction of the inner life” is a recurring theme in Hip Hop that’s connected to the torment from selling drugs, committing murder and engaging in other violent, illegal acts–in short, living the gangster lifestyle.

Going back as far as my musical memory allows me, what comes to mind is the song “Feel Like I’m the One Who’s Doing Dope,” by Pimp C of UGK on their Too Hard to Swallow album in 1992. In the song, Pimp C narrates the life of a delusional, violent fiend who repeatedly blacks out and whose only focus is his next fix. At the end of the song, the fiend is being pursued in a police chase for the rapes and murders he’s committed when Pimp C reveals to the listener the surreal experience was only a dream.

“Mind Playing Tricks On Me” by the Geto Boys is a more popular song and their single released just a year before and, perhaps, was the inspiration for the UGK song which samples a bar of Scarface’s verse for the chorus, “Day by day it’s more impossible to cope/I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope.” Rap Genius, a lyrical interpretation site, describes the song, correctly in my opinion, as “Hip Hop’s most famous paranoia anthem that inspired a whole generation of rappers to rap about the mental stress of the gangsta lifestyle.”

For my baby readers, perhaps you have heard the Jay Z song “Fallin’” when he says “The irony of drugs is sort of like you using it/Guess it’s to sides to what substance is/Can’t stop, won’t stop, addicted to this new shit.” Jay z’s verses is a bit more nuanced than the previous two which deal with being tormented as a result of an act or lifestyle vs. the dealer, too, being addicted to the consequences, i.e., money, material wealth, and the “high,” so to speak, of the said lifestyle.

This condition isn’t exclusively for military members, veterans and rappers, of course, and can be applied to everyday life when we commit knowingly wrong acts and suffer from guilt, conscious, etc. as a result.

According to the bit of Senate Armed Services Committee hearing I saw held today in Capitol Hill, Lopez saw no combat in Iraq. But this doesn’t matter, as the officers who testified should know. I’m not sure why the media keeps repeating this line. Regardless if Lopez was a truck driver who saw no combat, the mere fear and paranoia of being in a war theater (do you know what happens during war?) is sufficient enough to warrant extreme stress, anxiety, paranoia and other symptoms associated with combat veterans. As a Marine myself, I know non-combat Marines who are on medication to deal with the aforementioned symptoms. In fact, I know a few truck drivers, more correctly, Motor Transport (MOS: 35XX) who “saw no combat” and nearly lost their life during a driving route.

Lastly, the best way to deal with PTSD is to avoid war in general, and considering there should have never been an Iraq Invasion in the first place, all of this could have been avoided.

My condolences go out to the bereaved.

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Grand Theft Auto V is the biggest video of all-time, selling over $1 billion dollars in the three days after its release. While the violence in the game didn’t stagnate sales, it isn’t too far removed from the controversy it garners. Replicating a satirical version of Los Angeles and Hollywood, GTA V takes place in Los Santos where the people worry about the latest phone, fashion and talent shows. When you get the chance to cruise around LS, you may get to hear familiar artists playing on one of the 17 in-game radio stations. There is over 250 songs to listen to and I’ve haven’t heard fifty since I started playing that Tuesday it came out. However, sifting through the music, here are the top ten songs to listen for while playing GTA V.

2 Chainz is a rapper you don’t really pay much time to. He has some great records but he’s not the rapper you look to produce a good album with lyrical content. B.O.A.T.S. II: Me Time, the sequel to his debut studio album Based On A T.R.U. Story, can be compared to French Montana’s Excuse My French more so than J. Cole’s Born Sinner or Mac Miller’s Watching Movies With The Sound Off. B.O.A.T.S. II isn’t going to reinvent the hip-hop genre or push it forward into something we’ve never been before, it’s going to be that album you break out when driving in your car, lounging around the house, or blast when you have some friends over. It may not be one of the best albums of the year, but it’s an honorable mention.


Fork opens up the album with 2 Chainz yelling at his mother, questioning her about his disappearing money. The opening lyrics go: I had a dream/that rap wouldn’t work/ I woke up on the block/had to heat it with the fork.  Taken at face value, this seems to be another rap about trapping and how glorious it is to sell drug on the corner because he has so much money on him it won’t even fold! Though the name of the album is Based On A T.R.U. Story, the opening song talks about if his rap career fell in shambles, he would have to resort to, or rather, stay in the drug game.

Pusha T and No Malice perform. Photo by Ben Sisto

Photo by Ben Sisto

Pusha Ton, better known as Pusha T and one half of the rap group Clipse is releasing a solo later this year. My Name is My Name is set to come out in August and many people are excited. It’s his official studio solo debut, besides his EP release a couple of years ago. At 36, he signed with Kanye West’s GOOD Music two years ago and he’s well on way to a successful solo career. Here are ten facts that you need to know about Pusha T.






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The Gifted, the third album from D.C. rapper Wale, is good.  I had the chance to listen to his previous studio efforts before diving headfirst.  Attention Deficit and Ambition played on my iPhone days before I was able to download his third effort, The Gifted.  Wale is a very gifted wordsmith and rapper, combining his knowledge with his love of music.  His songs deal with mature subject material while other songs from his, his ‘club hits’ for example, aren’t dumbed down to be enjoyed.  It’s something that is carried over onto his third album, which is a bigger improvement of Ambition.