The Life of Pablo – The Album That Could Save Kanye

By Tyler Valentine

Kanye West. Very influential. Very controversial character in the media, is back at it again. After going under the radar in the music world since his album Yeezus, West has released what may be the best album of the year. He has named the album “The Life Of Pablo”, Pablo being Pablo Picasso, the most famous artist of the 20th century. Kanye got the inspiration to name it after one of the greatest artist of all times because he views himself to be similar to Picasso. A song in the album “No more Parties in L.A.” West says “I feel like Pablo when I’m making these shoes”, meaning he feels like he is creating great art when he designs shoes, which he is.

Before The Life Of Pablo, or TLOP, West was known for his harsh lyrics, and strong beats to go along with them. With TLOP, Kanye raps his same Kanye lyrics, but rather than overwhelming beat in the background, West decided to go with a more gospel feel, to reflect on his faith in God.

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S.P.A.C.E. Club

Student musicians put on stellar February show, look forward to May extravaganza
By Kurtis Hansen

From covers of Panic! at the Disco and the Beastie Boys to originals by Matt Owen, Molly Wing and Colfox, the February 19th S.P.A.C.E concert was a dazzling portrayal of the diverse musical talents in Dexter High School. After attending a S.P.A.C.E show, one might have a difficult time believing the stereotype that describes the club as predominantly metal and country.

To those who have never heard of the club, much less the stereotypes: S.P.A.C.E has absolutely nothing to do astronomy, NASA, or Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny. S.P.A.C.E (Student Produced Artistic Collaborative Events) is an opportunity for students and teachers to play whatever music they’d like to alongside their friends and other musicians.

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3D has a first

After hours and hours of outlining, writing, composing and brainstorming, senior James Fischer completed the largest project of his life, “Control, Alt., Delete” a musical he spent the better part of a year working on, despite the fact that the idea for the play came to him quickly.

“Once I got the main concept of the play, the rest was just putting the pieces together,” Fischer said.

Last spring Fischer began the process of hammering out the first student-written, directed and composed musical in Dexter Drama Directing Series, or 3D, history.

Four years ago, eight upperclassmen taking Erin Palmer’s drama class realized they wanted to do more than perform three plays each year.  The class wanted to write its own plays, thus creating the 3D series which has produced a variety of original and unusual work including “Scrubs: The Musical.”

Although each year Copeland auditorium fills its 150-200 seats for the series, this is the first year for a student-directed musical.

And although Fischer’s play is indeed a musical, he said he considers his play a drama with a little comedy.

“There’s isolation, and it shows how a human can connect with something that is not human,” Fischer said.

The musical involves the state of Alaska, a doctor, a penguin and a robot, contains 10 songs and spans about an hour.  Seniors Harrison Kane and Natalie Burdick are the only characters in the musical.

As for inspiration, Fischer said composer Stephen Sondheim played a motivating role.

“When I listen to him, I just wanna write,” Fischer said.  “Heís my hero.”

Regardless of who he admires, Palmer said the best part of working with Fischer, is his talent combined with his character.

“He has a gift, really, whether it’s singing it, playing it, designing it.  Plus he’s very dedicated and humble about it,”  she said.

And while his is the only original musical being produced, senior Havah Roussel created the other original piece being performed, “Etta,” a one-act drama.

Roussel said she got the idea by following Palmer’s advice of “writing what you know,” and created a production of an elderly woman learning how to use an iPhone.

Such experiences allow students to gain valuable leadership skills and experience from directing their own production, Palmer said.  In addition, she said there are many benefit to having students run their own productions.

“It’s not about me.  What’s important is that the students get to run their own auditions, their own rehearsals, and really take a leadership role,” she said.

“Control. Alt. Delete” premieres March 6 and March 8, and Fischer said he’s ready for the performance, the largest undertaking he’s been involved with.

He said, “This is probably the biggest project I’ve even done in my entire life to be honest.”

'Gravity' proves to be more than just a realistic science-fiction drama

This past October the movie “Gravity” was released.  It’s a science-fiction drama featuring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney and directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the same director behind “Children of Men,” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

I’m not a huge fan of science-fiction because it seems to be notoriously corny, but this movie is done in such a realistic way that I wasn’t bothered.  The movie starts off slowly in terms of plot, but every scene is so visually breathtaking that again, I wasn’t bothered. It’s enough to just enjoy the cinematography if nothing else.

However that doesn’t mean there wasn’t more to love.  Being that there are only two characters in this story, the movie’s cast is an all-star lineup.  The acting is phenomenal.  Especially from Bullock, who (spoiler alert) early on becomes the sole character in the story.

This definitely isn’t a light-hearted movie.  It is a drama after all, and it will have you feeling things undoubtedly.  You will go from inspired to stressed, to relieved and then stressed again.  As the story progresses you spiral out of control from one tragic event to another.

As you watch Astronaut Ryan Stone (Bullock) near her breaking point as she is stranded hopelessly in open space,  It doesn’t make you want to be an astronaut. But I think it’s admirable that a science-fiction movie has finally been made with an improved level of realism.  But for anyone not thinking about being an astronaut, it’s a great movie.  I give it a 4.3 out of 5 stars.

Childish Gambino's 'Because the Internet' not as good as his first effort

Donald Glover has established himself as a comedian, writer, actor and rapper. He has writeen for such shows and “30 Rock” and acted in the show “Community” in addition to a handful of stand up routines.

Despite all of the other titles, Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino, may be most widely known for his rapping. With four mixtapes and a overly successful debut album, “Camp,” under his belt, it looks like his second album, “Because the Internet,” doesn’t live up to “Camp.”

The album is split into two and a half spectacular tracks and songs that aren’t really songs. It starts with a four-second intro which rides into a catchy track, “Crawl.” The chorus includes a women with a voice like Rihanna, and you can’t go wrong when Childish takes care of business.

From there the album rolls into a song that got my blood boiling, “Worldstar.” Gambino goes hard with rhymes on point, until he is interrupted by a call from what seems to be a friend telling him to check out a video of a fight. It ruins the song, but the first half is so good that I can deal with it.

After the first of many skits there are five consecutive songs, “The Worst Guys” featuring Chance the Rapper, “Shadows,” “Telegraph Ave.,” Sweatpants” and “3005.” Despite Chance the Rapper not having a verse, all three songs are different but effective. But if Chance gets a verse on a Justin Bieber song, then I believe he should get one here, just saying.

My personal favorite track, however, is “Telegraph Ave.” It takes me back to the Childish Gambino that I could listen to for hours. A close second is the first single “3005,” a love song that says that he will his girl until 3005. Genius.

After “3005” the album takes a hard left turn, and never really takes a turn back, with four tracks in a row that aren’t much at all. Three skits and a song with a funky beat lost me. In fact, this funky beat, which sounds like it would blow out the speakers in my car or my headphones, is a consistant on the second half of the album. With almost every song starting off sounding like it will be raw rhyming with a banging beat but turning into something that is hard to listen to, I found myself annoyed.

I see what Gambino is trying to do, and I enjoyed parts of the album. But people listening to him for this first time won’t get it. To them, he is going to come across as weird and talentless. But that’s not true. Gambino has a lot of talent,he just doesn’t effectively showcase it here.

I would give this album a 7/10. He provided a handful of songs I will listen to for awhile, but otherwise I have come to expect more from Childish Gambino.

Arcade Fire's newly-released album is anything but ordinary

The sounds of Arcade Fire’s fourth and latest album, “Reflektor,” are anything but ordinary.  As usual the band has pushed the limits of meshing genres, unique soundscapes and raw emotion.

The album leads with the driving title track, “Reflektor.”  The song immediately sets the mood for the majority of the album.  It has a strong ‘70s disco-era influence, while retaining dark overtones that give it an interesting quality.  The music is easily danceable but captivating enough that it’s hard to do anything but listen.

Arcade Fire as a band travels and tours a lot.  It definitely comes through in their music. Progressing through the album the listener gets to experience a whole range of different sounds from different parts of the world that all convey different a range of emotions from the happy vibe in “Reflektor” contrasted to the extremely dark tones in “Joan of Arc.

You can be swept from futuristic soundscapes and droning synthesizers, directly into tribal Haitian drum beats, but the production is smooth enough that it all sounds right.  The band recently spent some time in Haiti while creating this album, and the influence definitely comes through in some of the drum beats and almost child-like melodies.  This can be heard in the track “Flashbulb eyes”.

Even with these obscure influences, the songs on this album are still undoubtedly Arcade Fire.  Their unique sound cuts through it all.  The same dark themes in lyrical imagery come through as they did on all of their previous albums.

I would give this album a 4.2 out of 5 and recommend it to anyone who likes alternative/psychedelic rock.  Being an Arcade Fire album, it’s already bound to be great, but I think that they really pushed their limits and stepped their game up to something new.