The Arrow: A Review

The Arrow: A Review

Introduction

Andy Mineo is one of the most successful rappers on Reach Records’ roster. He was active for ten years prior to signing with Reach however. He joined rap group Fat Camp after graduating college. The group and Andy were signed to Marshall Street Records after winning a song contest. They opened for acts such as Common and The Roots and released their album The Food, before Andy stepped away to join T.R.U.C.E. with Alex Medina. Andy’s departure led to the closure of Marshall Street Records. Andy toured with TRUCE and released his first mixtape Sin is Wack. While touring with Da’ TRUTH, he met Lecrae and was featured on his song “Background,” as well as Tedashii’s song “Reverse”. After his singing feature, he was sought after as a singer, causing him to split personas, using his real name for singing and C-Lite as his rap moniker. In 2010, Andy was signed to the label as a rapper and Andy dropped the C-Lite moniker. After being signed by Lecrae and company, Andy hit the ground running, releasing his mixtape Formerly Known. In 2011, Andy released his debut album Heroes For Sale. He followed that up with his EP Never Land in 2014, which features “You Can’t Stop Me,” which went gold. In 2015, Andy released his album Uncomfortable, produced by !llmind. He took 2016 off to reflect and work on new music. He filled the gap with Candy Rain, a single. In 2017, Andy formed a rap duo with friend Wordsplayed called Magic & Bird and the duo released their collaborative mixtape Magic & Bird the same year. Now, Andy finally returns with the music he’s been working on since 2016 with Chapter 1: The Arrow. Will the first chapter of his year long project live up to the hype? Find out here on this special edition of #MusicMonday.

1. I’ve Been…

The lyricism is solid and his production really solid. This intro is an honest and well made track. Andy explains to us that he’s been lost in a bad place. How’d he get there and what was it like? We’re about to find out.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

2. Clarity

Transitioning right into the next track, Andy keeps the lyricism at 100 and delivers his own “44 Bars” of truth and honesty. His vocals are solid and the production is really solid. This is a very personal project for the artist who has been missing for three years. The speed changes as Andy gets more and more into his head. He deconstructs his life and faith and rebuilds all in the course of 4 minutes. The spoken word samples are a perfect addition.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

3. Family Photo

The production is more laid back, but the honesty doesn’t change. The picture he paints of his wedding day and his family drama is absolutely captivating and heartbreaking. This is his therapy session and we’re all just listening in. This is an absolutely incredible song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

4. Anxiety

This is one flowing story that is a sobering window into a man’s soul and mind. This transitional song perfectly captures what it’s like to try and make it through an anxiety attack. However, it’s not a track I’ll revisit often.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: B+

5. I Ain’t Done

This is the celebration song here! Andy produces a banger that is truly honest in its sentiments and completely uplifting. The song shows what’s it like to overcome anxiety and depression. It samples rock to make a truly courageous song about beating the demons. This is the best song off the album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

6. …Lost

And now we return to the beginning. We’ve seen what Andy was going through the last two years and now he’s giving us the closing statements. He explains that he was lost and hit a rough patch but he’s back now. It’s a triumphant and gorgeous finale that really ties everything together. Andy’s talking at the end was amazing and completely concludes the first chapter on a huge, perfect note.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion

Andy just told one of the best stories of the year in six songs. It’s very cinematic and personal. This is only the beginning to what he’s got planned for this year. Chapter 1 was a great start. I’m excited for the rest of them. Andy Mineo is back and he’s got more to say. I can’t wait for the rest. It’s very beautiful, personal, raw, emotional, and theatrical. This is Andy’s best EP and it’s shaping up to be a truly revolutionary set of music.

EP Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

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GEMINI: A Review

GEMINI: A Review

Introduction

Macklemore debuted on the scene originally in 2000 as a solo act with his mixtape Open Your Eyes, followed by his debut album The Language of My World in 2005. In 2008, he entered rehab for alcoholism and released his final mixtape The Unplanned Mixtape in 2009. In 2009, he and his producer and friend Ryan Lewis formed the duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and released their EP The Vs. EP, followed by The Vs. Redux in 2010. The pair officially debuted in 2012 with The Heist, which featured hit singles “Thrift Shop,” “Can’t Hold Us,” and “Same Love,” and was nominated for five Grammys, including Song of the Year and Best New Artist, and won three. The pair followed up their hit debut with the single “Irish Celebration” in 2014 and their second album This Unruly Mess I’ve Made in 2016. Macklemore returned to his solo career in 2016, releasing his single “Drug Dealer”. Now, he’s released his first solo album in twelve years. Can the so-called “joke rapper” stand apart without Ryan Lewis officially credited as his partner?

1. Ain’t Gonna Die Tonight (ft. Eric Nally)

Eric Nally’s vocals are a great mix with the production. The lyricism is solid, taking shots at the immigrant debate as well as his hiatus. Macklemore’s performance is very fresh and new. It’s a bright song and a fun listen. It’s a very triumphant opening to what promises to be a very different Macklemore album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

2. Glorious (ft. Skylar Grey)

This song continues the bright feeling while grounding it as classic Macklemore. It feels a lot like “Can’t Hold Us” and helps establish his talent. His performance is very strong and his lyricism is solid. Skylar’s vocals are a really nice fit with this piano-driven anthem. It really builds on the bright and triumphant feel of this album. It’s very fresh.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

3. Marmalade (ft. Lil Yachty)

This song is the definition of sunshine on a summer day. The pianos are just so happy and the trap beat is groovy. Macklemore holds his own on this song. It’s lot a lyrical song, but the production is what shines. I do not like Lil Yachty. He does somewhat fit in on the track, but he’s still an unwelcome addition to what is otherwise a fun song.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

4. Willy Wonka (ft. Offset)

Things take a turn with this one, deviating into a bass heavy beat. The lyricism and performance take a bit of a dive with this one. The beat is clearly to accommodate Offset, who’s name is fitting as the song offsets the tone and narrative being formed thus far. It’s meant to go hard, but it doesn’t event really do that. It’s the worst on the album so far.

Track Rating: 4/10

Grade: D

5. Intentions (ft. Dan Caplen)

This song couldn’t possible be worse than what came before. The tone returns to normal with this one. The electric guitars are really great. Macklemore goes back to the summer vibe the album has had thus far and manages to weave in a really honest list of desires that are really noble. Dan’s vocals are very complimentary and really good. The horns are so smooth. This song is really honest and well-made. The lyricism is very good, second only to the outstanding production.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

6. Good Old Days (ft. Kesha)

Here’s the best song of 2018. The nostalgic look back at youth and high school is incredibly sobering and well-written. The lyricism and production go hand in hand in creating a very beautiful song that is sure to be chart-topper. Kesha’s vocals are incredible. Every vocal sample and piano key played is unbelievable. This is a spectacular song. The song also mentions Minnesota, it hits home.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

7. Levitate (ft. Otieno Terry)

The beat keeps that summer vibe while also merging with The Heist Macklemore. Otieno Terry brings a Bruno Mars vibe to the song and it fits the style of the album very well. Overall, the lyricism is disappointing coming of the genius of “Good Old Days” but it’s still fun. It works, but it’s not one I’ll revisit often.

Track Record: 7/10

Grade: B

8. Firebreather (ft. Reignwolf)

The guitars are awesome in this opening. This track is different and veers away from the summer vibe, but it works really well. The rock feel is really cool and reminds me of a 80s rock anthem, which Reignwolf’s vocals contribute too in large part. It’s got a very AC/DC and works better than expected. Macklemore uses this to flex his lyrical abilities and prove why he’s actually one of the best rappers working today. It’s his fight-out-of-the-corner song and man does it hit hard.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

9. How to Play the Flute (ft. King Draino)

Of course there’s a flute sample. The joke in the beginning is kinda funny and the beat is very indicative of what Macklemore wants to be. The lyricism isn’t as strong as the last song and his performance is fine. He shares the stage with King Draino this time and he fits in well on the song. The song is really funny and isn’t to be taken too seriously. You should’ve got the hint from the sneeze samples. Macklemore is having fun, but it’s not one I’ll revisit.

Track Rating: 6/10

Grade: B-

10. Ten Million

In case you haven’t noticed, this is the first (and only) song where Mack doesn’t bring in any features. I don’t think that’s because he relies on other’s talent to sell songs; I think it’s because he knows how he wants things to sound and which people are the best to get to make it how he wants it to sound. This solo song is a jam and Mack shows that he can work on his own. His performance is really solid and his lyricism is good. The production isn’t anything special, but the focus is on Macklemore’s performance and he delivers. It’s a solid track and ranks in the top ten off this album. This would be really fun to see live.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

11. Over It (ft. Donna Missal)

Oh, I didn’t realize we had strayed away from the sunny day production. But while this keeps funky guitars, the strings and production create an intense, claustrophobic feeling. Macklemore’s performance is outstanding and he got a good Feature in Donna Missal. This song is outstanding, stuffed full of great production, fantastic performances, raw emotion, and strong lyricism. Every emotion that Mack wants you to feel lands like a bomb. This is a really strong album and is a truly remarkable song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

12. Zara (ft. Abir)

We’re really back in the summer feel after that fake out and Mack really vibes in this groove. It’s a really groovy love song with strong production and lyricism. While this song is static in some aspects, it still fits in nicely. Macklemore’s newest album is really impressive thus far.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: A-

13. Corner Store (ft. Dave B & Travis Thompson)

The production is bright again and has a “Downtown” vibe to it. Dave B and Travis contribute solid vocals to this joint, while Mack surfs on the beach bop. It’s another strong entry on what’s been an unbelievable album.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

14. Miracle (ft. Dan Caplen)

The production on this one is the definition of a summer evening. The acoustic guitars and the strings paint the picture of a sunset. Mack and Dan are a really strong duo. Dan’s vocals are insane and Mack’s vision are so complimentary. Another love story, this one is so beautiful. Mack’s storytelling is very vivid and clear. It’s another successful song for a near-perfect album.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

15. Church (ft. Xperience)

The penultimate song of a stellar album, Ryan Lewis tackles a Sunday morning in summer as his next beat and nails it. Every song could be played in pure instrumental and tell the story Mack wants. His lyricism is really strong as he tackles fame and family head on as the topic for his next song. His daughter is a focal point for a few songs, but it’s this one that he helps us visualize his vision of fatherhood. It’s such a honest and beautiful song. Xperience’s vocals are a sweet fit with Ryan Lewis’s outstanding production.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

16. Excavate (ft. Saint Claire)

The finale of Macklemore’s latest album decides to take a true cinematic feel. The choral and orchestral music blend into an extension of what the last song wanted. Mack decides to wrap this album up with a discussion of legacy and impact, as well as mortality. I’m not sure what Macklemore has been through recently, but he’s allowed it to help he craft a masterpiece of humanity. Saint Claire’s vocals are incredibly suiting. This finale is the most genuine, honest song I’ve heard in a long time, especially from the “joke rapper”. Very sweet ending.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion:

Macklemore has returned in an incredible way. This album is absolutely splendid. Ryan Lewis’s production is outstanding and the man tells a story just within the music he’s composed. Ryan should score movies. Macklemore himself has upped his own game on a lyrical and performance level. He has tackled bigger issues and ideas than the surface level rap stuff, which he used to rap about in his previous albums. This album is one of the best I’ve ever heard and he deserves awards. It was a full emotional experience that focuses on bigger themes and ideas. Only two songs on this album feel out of place, but it doesn’t hurt the final product. This is a triumphant return for Macklemore, who has a bright future ahead of him if he continues making music like this.

Album Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

Movie Fights MasterList

Movie Fights MasterList

Singles

  • Champion: Cucumber (1-0)
  1. Ed Greer (3-0)
  2. Dan Murrell (3-1)*
  3. DJ Wooldridge (2-0)
  4. Marc Bernardin (1-1)
  5. Danielle Radford (1-1)
  6. Marc Andreyko (1-1)
  7. Jay Washington (1-1)
  8. Brianne Chandler (1-1)
  9. Scott Mantz (1-1)
  10. Mark Ellis (1-1)

Unranked:

  • Emma Fyffe (1-1)
  • Ify Nwadiwe (1-1)
  • Coy Jandreau (1-2)
  • Joe Starr (1-2)
  • Clarke Wolfe (1-0)
  • Roth Cornet (1-0)
  • Perri Nemiroff (1-0)
  • William Bibbiani (1-0)
  • Leonard Maltin (1-0)
  • Spencer Gilbert (1-3)**
  • Samm Levine (0-1)
  • Chunk (0-1)
  • Jacqueline Coley (0-1)
  • John Rocha (0-1)
  • Amy Dallen (0-1)
  • Wendy Lee Szanee (0-1)
  • Matt Key (0-1)
  • Alicia Malone (0-1)
  • Erika Ishii (0-1)
  • Tony Revolori (0-1)
  • Amy Cassandra Martinez (0-1)
  • Erika Ishii (0-1)
  • Josh Macuga (0-1)
  • JTE (0-1)
  • Stacy Howard (0-1)
  • Jenny Nicholson (0-1)
  • Rachel Cushing (0-1)
  • Riley Silverman (0-1)
  • Yael Tiegel (0-1)
  • Amy Nicholson (0-1)
  • Lon Harris (0-2)
  • Markeia McCarty (0-2)
  • Ken Napzok (0-2)
  • Mike Carlson (0-3)

*First Champion **Second Champion

*Note – All records were reset November 2017 when the show was rebooted, but Murrell is still considered the original champion, as Gilbert won the belt in July 2017, prior to the reboot, but still considered canon.

Hosts:

  • Hal Rudnick – Primary
  • Doug Benson
  • Roxy Striar – TV Fights
  • Mat Black – Gamer Fights
  • Sasha Perl-Raver – Guest
  • Grae Drake – Guest

Fact Checkers:

  • Dan Murrell – Primary
  • Lon Harris
  • Joe Starr
  • Ken Napzok – TV Fights Guest
  • Kristian Harloff – Collider Guest
  • Nikole Z – Gamer Fights Guest
  • Jen Yamato – WIF Guest

Voice of the People:

  • Danielle Radford – Primary
  • Roth Cornet
  • Wendy Lee Szanee – Collider Guest
  • Billy Patterson – TV Fights Guest
  • Spencer Gilbert – Gamer Fights Guest