Cars: Does It Hold Up?

Cars: Does It Hold Up?

It has been ten years since Pixar released their seventh feature film. I was six years old and I remember going to see the film, Cars. The film was just a cool sort of movie to me at the time, but the more and more I watched it as I grew up, the more I realized how much this film speaks to me. Hailing from a small town in one of the smallest states in America, I loved Cars. I still do. Seeing as Cars is now ten years old, I decided to go back and rematch it yet again, this time with more critical eyes and see if this movie holds up.

1. The Premise

The story of a cocky, young race car who takes life too fast and finds himself lost in small town America, where he is forced to take life slow and start living life for more than just himself. This premise is sturdy and the film delivers what it promises in spades.

2. The Cast & Characters

Cars features some of Pixar’s best and most recognizable characters yet in the form of Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and Mater (voiced by Larry The Cable Guy). The cast is stacked with talent featuring performances by Michael Keaton (as the primary antagonist Chick Hicks), Paul Newman (as mentor Doc Hudson), Bonnie Hunt (as love interest Sally Carrera), Tony Shalhoub (as Italian tire shop owner Luigi), & Cheech Marin (as body shop owner Ramone). Additional cast members include: Jeremy Piven, Richard Petty, Joe Ranft, & John Ratzenberger. The cast delivers excellent performances and fully embody their roles. Pixar alumni Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Billy Crystal, John Goodman, & Dave Foley all return in car versions of their previous Pixar roles. These performances wholly reflect small town America in every aspect of the small cities you see.

3. The Story *SPOILERS*

The story follows rookie race car Lightning McQueen and his personal journey. Lightning is on his way to the final race for the Piston Cup when he gets lost on the interstate and finds himself lost in the small town of Radiator Springs along Route 66. After tearing up their town and flipping everything on its head, Lightning is tasked with fixing the road before he is allowed to leave. In an attempt to win his freedom, he races Doc Hudson, the town judge & doctor, who he discovers is the legendary racer, the Hudson Hornet. After a while, Lightning starts to fall for the town and helps fix it up, only to rescued by Mack and the media, who were tipped off by Doc. He is taken California where he races The King & Chick Hicks for the Piston Cup. After struggling to perform at usual capacity, Lightning discovers his new pic crew to be his friends from Radiator Springs, who cheer him on to victory. Tragedy strikes as The King is taken out of the race by Chick Hicks in a similar manner to the crash that ended Doc’s career. He gives up his win to Chick in order to help The King finish his last race. Lightning is offered the position as the new face of Dinoco, however, McQueen turns him down in order to stay with the group who gave him his big break. With his new found respect in the racing world and his own personal growth, Lightning McQueen returns of Radiator Springs where he builds his own new racing HQ.

The story of Cars is one that I find to be timeless. The progression,themes, and deeper ideals conveyed in the film are ones that would lead me to believe that Cars, I would dare say, is shakespearian. There are two deeper meanings found within Cars. The first being a message of slowing down and taking time to enjoy life.

“No need to watch where I’m going, just need to know where I been. – Mater, Cars

The second is one of progress versus tradition. This theme is conveyed through the story of Sally and Radiator Springs as a whole. Cars is brilliant.

4. The Production

The production value of Cars is excellent. The behind the scenes documentary reveals the special meanings and inspirations to Cars. The animation is beautiful and the colors are bright. The direction is great and overall the production is spectacular.

5. Conclusion

As I find myself becoming a Junior in high school, I look back at my favorite childhood film and realize that life is blowing by and the best way to make the most of it is to remember to slow down. Cars is a movie that will forever hold up and be relevant. Cars is a masterpiece and a very underrated Pixar film. I’d give the film an A+.

The Heartland Tour: A Show Recap

The Heartland Tour: A Show Recap

The morning of June 11, couldn’t have come any quicker. I had been waiting for this since Beth bought the tickets back April. The Heartland Tour with Lecrae & Switchfoot. Now, I wasn’t much of a Switchfoot before the show, but Lecrae is one my favorite performers. I had seen him once before at CHIC in Knoxville, Tennessee last summer, but this time was different. It was me & my friends in an outdoor amphitheater in Moorhead, Minnesota rather than at a large youth conference in Tennessee. We all loaded up into Beth’s car and made the one hour trek south to Fargo, where we killed time looking for Lecrae at the mall and eating at Chilli’s. When the time came for us to head to the show, we were all eager to find our seats and enjoy the show. I bought my 116 hat and forgiven wristband and took my seat in Row S in seat 116.

The show began with the introduction of a new band, The New Respects, who started the show off with 4 blues rock songs. The band was fresh and new and brought a great sound that fit in with the atmosphere and venue. They took the stage like pros and owned the stage. Their debut single “Hey!” is available now on iTunes and Spotify.

After they warmed the crowd up, Switchfoot took the stage, with lead singer Jon Foreman in tow. They started the show off with their rocking single, “Needle & Haystack Life”. They brought such a fun, rock show atmosphere to the stage with me. Jon Foreman wasn’t afraid to interact with the audience, everywhere from thanking the audience for inspiring ten albums to Foreman leaping from the stage to perform from the aisles. After performing their new single “Float,” Jon Foreman dedicated their performance of “Only Hope” to the recently deceased Christina Grimmie, who covered the song on her YouTube channel. The band closed their set out with a show-stopping performance of “Dare You To Move”. Switchfoot’s new album, Where The Light Shines Through, is available for pre-sale and will be released on July 10th.

There was then an intermission where the host of the event cam out and spoke, encouraging those in attendance to consider sponsoring a child in Africa and about the importance of water in their lives. After this, Lecrae took to the stage.

Opening with fan favorite “Timepiece,” Lecrae performed a large selection of songs from his last album, Anomaly, including “Dirty Water,” “Welcome to America” & “All I Need Is You”. Using a large, usually shaped light board, Lecrae stole the show with his energy and ability to get the crowd moving. He asked fans if he could perform some “Old School Lecrae,” to which the audience responded with cheers. He made good on his request and performed “Jesus Muzik” from After The Music Stops, “Background” from Rehab, & “Tell The World” from Gravity. He also performed “Uno Uno Seis” from Andy Mineo’s Heroes For Sale & “Manolo” from Trip Lee’s Rise. After closing the show, he quickly returned to introduce his DJ & drummer before again leaving. The crowd responded with cries for an encore, to which Lecrae responded with a performance of his song, “Say I Won’t”. Lecrae’s mixtape Church Clothes 3 is available now on iTunes & Spotify. Overall, the Heartland Tour ranks as one of the top ten concerts I’ve been to in my life. The music overall was great and the performances and stage presences were stellar.

The Complete Starter Guide to Christian Music

The Complete Starter Guide to Christian Music

This here is a comprehensive guide to which artists to listen to in each genre of music, these you could consider as the best in each genre. Please enjoy.

Alternative:

Alternative: for King & Country

Art Punk: Stellar Kart

Alternative Rock: Switchfoot

College Rock: FM Static

Cossover Thrash: Demon Hunter

Crust Punk: Manic Drive

Experimental Rock: Relient K

Folk Punk: Leeland

Goth: Red

Grunge: Thousand Foot Krutch

Hardcore Punk: Underoath

Hard Rock: POD

Indie Rock: Mewithoutyou

Lo-fi: Neutral Milk Hotel

New Wave: Slide

Progressive Rock: Navigator

Punk: Hawk Nelson

Shoegaze: Starflyer 59

Steampunk: Abney Park

Blues:

Blues: Blind Willie Johnson

Acoustic Blues: John Ball

Chicago Blues: Glenn Kaiser

Classic Blues: Son House

Contemporary Blues: Skip James

Country Blues: Larry Norman

Delta Blues: Doug Burr

Electric Blues: John Davis

Ragtime Blues: Waterdeep

Classical:

Classical: Strauss

Comedy:

Novelty: Ken Davis

Standup Comedy: Tim Hawkins

Vaudeville: Bob Stromberg

Country:

Country: Carrie Underwood

Alternative Country: David Eugene Edwards

Americana: Jars of Clay

Bluegrass: Canaan’s Crossing

Contemporary Bluegrass: Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad

Contemporary Country: Kim Hill

Country Gospel: Jamey Johnson

Country Pop: Paul Overstreet

Honky Tonk: Tim McGraw

Outlaw Country: Johnny Cash

Traditional Bluegrass: The Alpha Band

Traditional Country: Glen Campbell

Urban Cowboy: The Way

Dance:

Dance: Capital Kings

Club Dance: Family Force 5

EDM: Owl City

Electro Pop: Hillsong Young & Free

Hip Hop/Rap:

Alternative Rap: Derek Minor

Bounce: Flame

Dirty South: Whosoever South

East Coast Rap: Andy Mineo

Gangsta Rap: Tedashii

Hardcore Rap: NF

Hip-Hop: KB

Old School Rap: Grits

Rap: Lecrae

Underground Rap: Canon

West Coast Rap: Trip Lee

Indie Pop:

Indie Pop: Casey Darnell

Jazz:

Jazz: Christian Jazz Artists Network

Latin:

Latin: Ana Paula Valadão

Pop:

Adult Contemporary: Aaron Keyes

Britpop: Fono

Bubblegum Pop: Britt Nicole

Dance Pop: Press Play

Pop: TobyMac

Soft Rock: 7eventh Time Down

Teen Pop: Jamie Grace

R&B/Soul:

Contemporary R&B: Royal Tailor

Doo Wop: Take 6

Funk: Tonex

Gospel: Kirk Franklin

Soul: Mary Mary

Reggae:

Dancehall: St. Matthew

Dub: Ram1

Reggae: Israel Houghton

Roots Reggae: Sherwin Gardner

Ska: The O.C. Supertones

Rock:

Afro Punk: BarlowGirl

Adult Alternative: Flyleaf

 

British Invasion: The Byrds

Hard Rock: Disciple

Metal: August Burns Red

Jam Bands: Children 18:3

Rock: Skillet

Rock & Roll: Anberlin

Southern Rock: Petra

Singer/Songwriter:

Alternative Folk: Rend Collective

Contemporary Folk: Phil Whickam

Contemporary Singer/Songwriter: Brandon Heath

Indie Folk: Burlap to Cashmere

Folk-Rock: Kari Jobe

Love Song: Amy Grant

New Acoustic: Leeland

Traditional Folk: Michael W. Smith

Singer/Songwriter: Matthew West

Spoken Word:

Spoken Word: Propaganda

Vocal:

A cappella: Anthem Lights

Worship:

Worship: Hillsong United

CCM:

Newsboys

Audio Adrenaline

DC Talk

Francesca Battistelli

Natalie Grant

Plumb

Danny Gokey

 

I hope this helped you find an entry point into Christian music, a genre that is much bigger and much better than many give it credit for.

 

 

 

Flip The Premise: Now You See Me

Flip The Premise: Now You See Me

SPOILERS AHEAD FOR BOTH NOW YOU SEE ME & NOW YOU SEE ME 2

Ever since Thaddeus Bradley was a little kid, he’s loved magic. In his teens, he became a magician and was taken in to train with a man named Lionel Shrike, a world class magician. Lionel was obsessed with this idea of a secret cabal of magicians called the Eye and Thaddeus became enthralled in getting into the organization as well. Lionel betrays Thaddeus in order to enter this group, opening Thaddeus’s eyes to the corruption of the magician and that industry. Thaddeus begins to clean up the industry by exposing the tricks of these eye agents who have overrun and are stealing from the world. He even exposes Lionel, resulting in Lionel’s death by the eye attempting to prove himself and stay within the Eye. Thaddeus discovers the Eye is actually an illuminati that has been controlling basically everything. Thaddeus continues cleaning the industry until the Eye sends their “four horsemen” group to win over audiences and destroy Thaddeus as he is ruining everything the Eye has planned for total global control, by using mass media “magicians” to enchant the audience and world into thinking there’s nothing wrong. As the horseman J. Daniel Atlas says and Thaddeus discovers, “Look closer, because the more you think you see, the easier it will be to fool you.” Thaddeus begins working with Dylan Rhodes, an FBI agent who is hunting the horsemen for the crimes they’re committing for the Eye (bank robberies, fraud, etc.) Thaddeus discovers the plan and begins trying to stop them. Just as Thaddeus is about to stop the horsemen, he is betrayed by Rhodes, Lionel’s son and member of the Eye, and they frame him. Rhodes blames Braddley for his father’s death. The Eye has silenced Thaddeus Bradley and the world is theirs for the taking.. or is it?

18 months later, the Eye reinitiates the Horsemen and sets them up with a new show and plot. Thaddeus has been searching up on them and gaining as much information as he possibly can to be able to clear his name and stop the Eye. He receives a call from Arthur Tressler, a businessman screwed over by the Horsemen and a former cohort of Bradley. Arthur recruits Bradley to join him, his son, and the twin  brother of one of the Horsemen in getting revenge and taking a computer chip that has the ability to expose not just the Horsemen, but the Eye. The Horsemen, however, are already trying to steal it. Bradley works with their plan, which is to disrupt their act and expose Dylan Rhodes, who has been controlling the FBI’s Horsemen manhunt, as the fifth horsemen & that Jack Wilder is alive. The FBI are now on the hunt to catch Rhodes, and Bradley’s team separate Rhodes from the horsemen. The Horsemen hear about Walter Tressler’s plan to get the chip before them and proceed to steal the chip. Rhodes breaks Bradley, after he unveils he was involved,out of jail in the hopes that Bradley will reveal who took the Horsemen and where are they. Bradley proceeds to take him to Macau, where the chip is and the plan falls into apparent place. Bradley has captured Rhodes, blinded by his emotions, and sends him to Tressler, who attempts to kill him in the same way his father died. Bradley, however, saves Rhodes by supplying him with a watch that is actually a lock pick. Bradley has become a wild card, diverting the FBI and helping the Horsemen in the darkest hour. Why? Because the truth is that Bradley and Lionel Shrike were partners, best friends, and it was all an act gone wrong. Both were members of the Eye, and Bradley would separate possible agents from the fakes. Thaddeus Bradley had goated Lionel in order to make him bigger and the competition smaller. After Shrike’s death, he’s been exposing magicians in both guilt & to find the truly worthy agents. Braddley betrays Tressler and reveals everything to Rhodes, who is Lionel Shrike’s son. Braddley has been the leader of the Eye for decades and now, after helping the horsemen take down Tressler, and keeping the chip, which was already in the possession of the Eye. Braddley reveals all to the Horsemen and gives them the keys to all they need in the Eye. He also make Rhodes the new head of the Eye and quietly retires.

Lecrae: A Biographical Essay

Lecrae: A Biographical Essay

Introduction

Lecrae is one the biggest rappers in the industry, who just so happens to be a Christian, and has been on a major rise in the rap genre. Lecrae is also the president, co-owner, and co-founder of Reach Records. His story is one that isn’t told enough but deserves to be known.

Early Life

Lecrae Moore was on October 9, 1979, in Houston, Texas and was raised his single mother. He moved often, living in places like San Diego & Dallas. His only church experiences would come from going with his grandmother, writing it off as “for old people” and “not for me”. He never knew his father, who became a drug addict. When he was 8, Lecrae was sexually molested by a female babysitter, which he believes affected his views on sexuality in a negative way and influenced his promiscuous lifestyle. He experienced abuse and neglect throughout his childhood and would use his above average rap abilities as a source of significance. Lecrae wasn’t allowed to watch rap videos on TV, but he would sneak them in, looking up to them as role models. According to him, “There were no Martin Luther Kings or Malcolm Xs, they had all passed away so I had Tupac.” He also began looking up to gangsters after being shown a gun by his uncle and turned to a life of crime. He remembers taking a BB gun and standing in the street pointing it to a car, frightening the female driver, simply for fun. When Lecrae was 16 years old, he began taking drugs and fighting and was arrested for stealing. He eventually ended up on a gang list. According to him, Lecrae has tried just about every drug there is except heroin and crack cocaine. According to CNN, he became a drug dealer and used his grandmother’s bible as a good luck charm. After being arrested for drug possession, the officer saw the Bible and let Lecrae go on a promise that he would agree to live by it. He eventually turned from drugs to alcohol consumption and a party lifestyle and became a “misfit of a person.” He has described himself during this period as a thrill-seeker, he would pull stunts such as jumping from a third-story building, and gained the nickname “Crazy ‘Crae”. (Wikipedia) His mother urged him to read the Bible and he remembers tearing pages out and throwing them on the floor because he couldn’t wrap his brain around it. I rejected it a second time. He began drinking, smoking, and sleeping around more in hopes of finding happiness. When he was just 17, Lecrae found himself in a dead end, struggling personally, financially, and relationally. He decided to do what he considered the mature thing and attended church, at both his own desires and his grandmother’s wishes. A girl in his class attended the same church and invited him to a Bible study in which he realized the attendees were people like him. There he met his future wife, Darragh. At age 19, Lecrae Moore accepted Christ into his life and decided to live for Him.

“It wasn’t overnight; [I] spent a lot of time making bad decisions.” – Lecrae Moore

Walking The Walk

While attending a youth conference, Lecrae was wowed by a band named The Cross Movement.

“[I saw] guys who had been shot from being in gangs, girls who were extremely promiscuous in the past, I see rappers, dancers and singers; I see people who came from the same background I came from, and they still embodied who they were culturally, but they were all in love with Jesus and I had never seen that before.”

He listened to speaker Pastor James White, who spoke on the Crucifixion and how Christians are bought with a price by God. Lecrae was instantly rocked to his core by the message. Later, Lecrae was driving on a highway when he turned too quickly and his car went into a roll. He had no seatbelt and the roof and windshield of the car caved in, his glasses were molded into the frame of the car, but he survived completely uninjured. He cites this incident as the one which convinced him to commit his life to Christ. He returned to his college, University of North Texas, with a printed testimony to hand out. He began performing at juvenile centers and realized it was what he wanted to do, receiving compliments that his music had “hope and encouragement”. In 2002, Lecrae accidentally impregnated his then-girlfriend and they decided to abort the baby rather than face a scandal. Lecrae deeply regrets the decision to this day.

Real Talk After The Music Stops

5 years after he became a Christian, Lecrae co-founded Reach Records with his friend Ben Washer. At age 25, he released his debut album, Real Talk, in 2005. A year later, it was re-released by Cross Movement Records and reached No. 29 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart and stayed there for 12 weeks. Real Talk was also nominated for 2007 Stellar Award. He was also one of the founding members of the rap group 116 Clique, who released their debut album, The Compilation Album, in 2005. In 2006, Lecrae released his second studio album, After The Music Stops, which debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart, No. 7 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart, and No. 16 on Billboards Heatseeker Album chart. He also received a Dove award nomination for the album and his song “Jesus Muzik” featuring Trip Lee. In 2007, the 116 Clique released their second album, 13 Letters, which reached No. 10 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart and No. 29 on the Christian Albums chart. 116 Clique also released a remix EP entitled Amped, which peaked at No. 24 on the Gospels Album chart.

Rebel

In 2008, Lecrae dropped his third studio effort, Rebel, and entered the Billboard charts at No. 60 with 9,800 units sold. He held the top spot on the Christian Music Albums chart for two straight weeks, a record for hip-hop albums. Rebel also charted No. 2 on the Christian Albums chart and No. 15 on the on the Top Independent Albums chart. In 2009, he received a nomination at the 40th Dove awards, as did “Joyful Noise” by Flame, a son featuring Lecrae. He also made his film debut in OHTV’s documentary Uprise Presents: Word from the Street.

The Rehab Series

In 2010, Lecrae released his tribute single to the 2010 Haiti earthquake survivors, “Far Away,” followed by “Amp It Up”. Upon its release, Lecrae’s 4th studio album, Rehab, hit No. 16 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it one of the highest selling Christian albums of all time. In 2011, Lecrae released the sequel to RehabRehab: The Overdose, his fifth album. The album featured other rappers such as Swoope and Thi’sl. The album debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard 200. In the fall of 2011, Lecrae released Rehab: Deluxe Edition. This concluded the Rehab Series. On the same day, 116 Clique released their fourth album, Man Up.

The Church Clothes Trilogy

In 2012, Lecrae released his first mixtape, Church Clothes, later released on iTunes as an EP. His music video for the title track featured cameos from Kendrick Lamar and DJ Premier. In 2013, he released the sequel, Church Clothes Vol. 2, which featured rappers such as Propaganda, Andy Mineo, Novel, Tedashii, & Derek Minor. Both of these mixtape were successes on multiple Billboard charts. In January 2016, Lecrae released the previously unannounced third installment of his mixtape series, Church Clothes 3. The mixtape featured PropagandaN’dambi, E-40, KB.

Gravity

In 2012, Lecrae released his sixth studio album, Gravity, which featured artists ranging from Andy Mineo Derek Minor to Tenth Avenue North Mali Music. Gravity debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, with 72,000 units sold.The album also debuted at No. 1 on the Christian, Gospel, Independent, and Rap Album charts, No. 3 on the Digital Albums chart, and 24 on the Canadian Albums Chart. After the iTunes deluxe version of the album hit No. 1 on that vendors charts, and the regular version at number No. 2, Time wrote an article about Lecrae and his success with the album.

Anomaly & Current Status

In 2014, Lecrae released his seventh studio album, Anomaly, which featured Andy Mineo, Crystal Nicole, Kari Jobe, for King & Country. t debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with over 88,000 copies sold through the first week. It is the first time an album tops both the Billboard 200 and the Gospel Albums chart. Lecrae also became the fifth artist following Chris Tomlin (2013), TobyMac (2012), LeAnn Rimes (1997) and Bob Carlisle(1997) to score a number one album on both Christian Albums and the Billboard 200. Anomaly also marks the sixth time that Lecrae topped the Gospel Albums chart and the fifth time he topped the Christian Albums chart. In its second week of sales, the album sold 31,000 copies, bringing the total to 120,000 copies sold. In its third week of sales, the album sold another 17,000 copies, bringing the total to 137,000 copies. As a reward to fans for their support in helping his album go No. 1 on Billboard, Lecrae released a new song, “Non-Fiction”, as a free download on September 17. The song was subsequently released on October 21, 2014 in the iTunes store. In 2016, Lecrae released a memoir titled Unashamed. Currently, Lecrae remains the President of Reach Records, which currently has a roster of rappers made up of Andy Mineo, Gawvi, KB, Tedashii, & Trip Lee, as well as himself. In May 2016, Lecrae signed with Columbia Records, which will release records in conjunction with Reach. He is currently on tour with Switchfoot and I will be attending their Moorhead, Minnesota, concert this Saturday.

Conclusion

Lecrae is one of the most elite rappers in the game today and ranks up in the likes of Eminem & Kendrick Lamar. He is unashamed to proclaim his faith and speaks at conferences across the country. In terms of rappers, and role models in general, he is one of the highest among them. He has been speeding up increasingly and shows no signs of stopping.