Anomaly: A Review

Anomaly: A Review

Introduction

This album came out in 2014 and earned Lecrae many nominations, including three Grammys in the categories of “Best Gospel Song,” “Best CCM Performance,” and “Best Rap Performance”. He won two of three, losing Rap to Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright”. That doesn’t negate the brilliance of this rap album. As a performer, Lecrae ranks among the very best. His catalog is remarkable, including albums such as Rebel, Rehab, & Gravity and his Church Clothes mixtape trilogy. Anomaly proves to be a very different flavor for Lecrae and maybe his best album yet. The album features the least amount of other artists, resulting in a lot of time with Lecrae and his thoughts.

1. Outsiders

The opening track sets a style for the album’s production that sounds very sleek and professional. The song sets the tone in terms of subject matter and immediately tells listeners that Lecrae has somethings to say and he is unashamed of his thoughts. The song talks about how he never really fit in as a child and still doesn’t fit in to this day and that doesn’t bug him. As he says, Lecrae would rather be an outsider than sacrifice his integrity. The song gradually builds while maintaining an ominous tone, hyping listeners up for big things to come. It works extremely well as an intro song.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

2. Welcome to America

The song that many would assume to be a patriotic welcome song will pleasantly surprise. The song exposes stereotypes of America’s colored culture and pulls the layers back on the negative jobs and acts that inner citizens are forced to perform to survive. It tears down the fake portrait that we put up for ourselves and other nations. There is a verse as well that sheds a light on the mistreatment of veterans and soldiers of our nation as well. The final verse exposes the positive dreams of immigrants who want to live here and trying to pitch why they want to live there. Lecrae rides the beat well and the production is very solid.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

3. Say I Won’t (feat. Andy Mineo)

The third track is a change of tone from the previous two heavy songs and gives listeners something fun to jam to. Andy Mineo and Lecrae go crazy with fast verses and displays of lyricism common from Andy’s catalog. The beat is fun and these two play off each other with excellent chemistry. The song is an anthem for overcoming doubt and being proud of being different, piggybacking off of themes from “Outsiders”.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

4. Nuthin

Lecrae displays his talents as a hip-hop vocalist as well as a skilled rapper in this jam that is a must for any hype playlist. The song compares what Lecrae deems is important and what he talks about in contrast to the rest of the rap genre, which he claims don’t talk about anything of importance. The song has a fun beat and great vocals. This is a necessity for any DJ who thinks they make fire playlists.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

5. Fear

At this point, Lecrae slows things down a little bit to examine the virtue of bravery. He shines a light on his insecurity and private fears and he confesses his worries over the top of an impressive beat with another display of impressive vocals from Lecrae. This song is raw and real. He lyrically samples Psalm 21 for his intro and it works wonderfully. This song is brilliant and an under-appreciated gem in his catalog.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

6. Anomaly

This funky beat that takes cues from reggae and jazz creates a smooth and fun beat that is sure to make heads nod. Lecrae examines how “the system didn’t plan for this” and brings back his outcast theme that is prevalent throughout this album. The song is a wonderful song that really examines abnormality from the social norms.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

7. Timepiece

This song switches the album pacing and slows thing down in a good way. This song has a catchy hook and amazing production. The lyricism in this one song alone demonstrates Lecrae’s uniqueness and importance to the rap industry. The song deals with the concept of time and how we don’t have much. Time is a commodity that we are running out of.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

8. Dirty Water

At this point, we make an aggressive change with a hard beat and hard lyrics that highlight social fakes and the need for social change and faith. The song is really fun tom listen to and has very good production.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

9. Wish

The song talks about wishing and regrets and how to deal with change and things we wish we could change. The song is pretty and the sentiment is really touching. We’ve all been where Lecrae is at this point on the album and it really hits home. The choppy production is a stylistic choice that pays off excellently. This song is a great one that briefly highlights the theme of fleeting time again.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

10. Runners

This song is another fun jam, speeding things up again as Lecrae examines the theme of loyalty in relationships and how to avoid the temptation of lust and the struggles of cheating. The song wouldn’t nearly be as good without the comedically and realistic skits that start, bridge, and end the song. The bass-heavy production is some of the best of the album and backs Lecrae as he highlights his own temptations as he admits his faults and his own imperfections while advising from experience.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

11. All I Need Is You

The lead single from the album is the best from the project. The medium paced track features great vocals and solid lyricism from Lecrae. The song talks about how Lecrae’s relate ship with God is all he needs and lists all the things that he needs help with while comparing the relationship to being an anchor for his life. It’s an addictive song that really does affect the listener.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

12. Give In (feat. Crystal Nicole)

The production of this one is the best of the album. The song is based 99% off of acapella recordings done by Lecrae and Crystal. It sounds so good and the message of the track is really sweet. The song serves as a love song and lists all the ways he gives in to his love.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

13. Good, Bad, Ugly

The album slows down a bit here as things get real and personal again for Lecrae. The song detailing the story of how he was sexually abused when he was eight by his seventeen year old babysitter and a later story about how he and his girlfriend got an abortion and regretted it. The song also talks about how he found healing with the bad and ugly parts of his life and how people don’t always want to listen to or help with the ugly parts. He asks God to take his good, bad, and ugly parts. The song is really tragic and beautiful. It’s my personal favorite from the album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

14. Broken (feat. Kari Jobe)

This song is also beautifully tragic and deals in similar themes on a bigger scale. Telling the story of how everyone is broken by sin and how we chase anything to feel better, when the answer is the grace and restoration we get when we accept Christ into our lives. The song features gorgeous vocals from Kari Jobe and wonderful metaphors backed by sleek production involving strings. He details his brokenness as including sexual abuse, fatherlessness, and insecurity. The song is a beautiful tribute to the hurting.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

15. Messengers (feat. for KING & COUNTRY)

The final song is a excellently produced call to action, encouraging Christians to spread the good news of The Bible and features the style of music and perfect vocals of for KING & COUNTRY. The wonderful arrangement of alternative and bolstering music just uplifts and inspires change in all areas of life. It’s an excellent closer to the best album of 2014 and Lecrae’s best work.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion:

Lecrae is a prolific rapper and songwriter. The production of this album is some of the best work done by any artist in any genre. The album inspires, encourages, and entertains to levels that is not seen much in any genre. Lecrae carries the bulk of the album on his back, balancing the themes and tones brilliantly and shares the spotlight wonderfully with acts that compliment his style perfectly. The album is a masterpiece of music and creative expression if their ever was one. The project reaches out and offers help to the hurting, inspires change for the revolutionaries and leaders, and sympathizes with the broken, highlighting his own struggles and past. This album is a necessity of not just rap music, but music in general.

Album Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

Billboard Awards 2017: My Picks

Billboard Awards 2017: My Picks

I enjoyed picking my own winners on the Oscars so much I decided to apply the same formula for music. These are the official nominations and I will not be predicting what I think will win, but my choice. Below in bold are my choices, by category, for the 2017 Billboard Awards.

Top Artist:

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  • Adele
  • Beyoncé
  • Justin Bieber
  • The Chainsmokers
  • Drake
  • Ariana Grande
  • Shawn Mendes
  • Rihanna
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • The Weeknd

Top New Artist:cover_0

  • Alessia Cara
  • Desiigner
  • Lil Uzi Vert
  • Lukas Graham
  • Zayn

Billboard Chart Achievement:lukebryan

  • Luke Bryan
  • Nicki Minaj
  • The Chainsmokers
  • The Weeknd
  • Twenty One Pilots

Top Male Artist:maxresdefault1

  • Justin Bieber
  • Drake
  • Future
  • Shawn Mendes
  • The Weeknd

Top Female Artist:ariana-grande-11-billboard-2014-650x430

  • Adele
  • Beyoncé
  • Ariana Grande
  • Rihanna
  • Sia

Top Duo/Group:the_chainsmokers_0-1366x800

  • The Chainsmokers
  • Coldplay
  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Twenty One Pilots

Top Billboard 200 Artist:beyonce-super-bowl-50

  • Beyoncé
  • Drake
  • Prince
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • The Weeknd

Top Hot 100 Artist:160502_music_drake-6-crop-promo-xlarge2

  • The Chainsmokers
  • Drake
  • Rihanna
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • The Weeknd

Top Song Sales Artist:justin-timberlake-2013-justintimberlake-background-hd-wallpaper

  • The Chainsmokers
  • Drake
  • Prince
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Twenty One Pilots

Top Radio Songs Artist:justin_bieber

  • Justin Bieber
  • The Chainsmokers
  • Drake
  • Rihanna
  • Twenty One Pilots

Top Streaming Songs Artist:

  • The Chainsmokers
  • Desiigner
  • Drake
  • Rihanna
  • Twenty One Pilots

Top Social Artist:abc37b37b8b32ba0d3eb874cae44f005

  • Justin Bieber
  • BTS
  • Selena Gomez
  • Ariana Grande
  • Shawn Mendes

Top Touring Artist:promoted-media-optimized_5658eff54962e

  • Justin Bieber
  • Beyoncé
  • Coldplay
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Top R&B Artist:frank-ocean-new-orleans-jazz-fest-2013-billboard-1548

  • Beyoncé
  • Bruno Mars
  • Frank Ocean
  • Rihanna
  • The Weeknd

Top R&B Tour:lionel-richie

  • Beyoncé
  • Lionel Richie
  • Rihanna

Top Rap Artist:BALLY's 'Off the Grid' New York premiere

  • J. Cole
  • Desiigner
  • Drake
  • Future
  • Rae Sremmurd

Top Rap Tour:kanye-west-fan

  • Drake
  • Future
  • Kanye West

Top Country Artist:fgl_dirt1-e1406516652291-1940x1090

  • Florida Georgia Line
  • Blake Shelton
  • Keith Urban
  • Chris Stapleton
  • Jason Aldean

Top Country Tour:12dixiechicks-master768

  • Luke Bryan
  • Kenny Chesney
  • Dixie Chicks

Top Rock Artist:coldplay-songs-playlist-top-15-coldplay-songs-videos980-1479376597_980x457

  • Coldplay
  • The Lumineers
  • Metallica
  • Twenty One Pilots
  • X Ambassadors

Top Rock Tour:bruce-springsteen-performance-feb-2016-billboard-650

  • Coldplay
  • Guns N’ Roses
  • Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Top Latin Artist:maluma-2015-red-carpet-billboard-1548

  • J Balvin
  • Juan Gabriel
  • Los Plebes Del Rancho De Ariel Camacho
  • Maluma
  • Nicky Jam

Top Dance/Electronic Artist:calvin-harris

  • The Chainsmokers
  • Calvin Harris
  • Major Lazer
  • DJ Snake
  • Lindsey Stirling

Top Christian Artist:cnafnyzusaahsea

  • Lauren Daigle
  • Hillsong Worship
  • Hillary Scott & the Family
  • Skillet
  • Chris Tomlin

Top Gospel Artist:d6afb4e72bcc823636751690b37e8e53

  • Jekalyn Carr
  • Kirk Franklin
  • Travis Greene
  • Tamela Mann
  • Hezekiah Walker

Top Billboard 200 Album: maxresdefault

  • Beyoncé, Lemonade
  • Drake, Views
  • Rihanna, Anti
  • Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface
  • The Weeknd, Starboy

Top Soundtrack/Cast Album:hamilton

  • Hamilton: An American Musical
  • Moana
  • Purple Rain
  • Suicide Squad: The Album
  • Trolls

Top R&B Album:rihanna-ft-belvoir-jpeg2-1280x960

  • Beyoncé, Lemonade
  • Bruno Mars, 24K Magic
  • Frank Ocean, Blonde
  • Rihanna, Anti
  • The Weeknd, Starboy

Top Rap Album:

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  • J. Cole, 4 Your Eyez Only
  • Drake, Views
  • Kevin Gates, Isla
  • DJ Khaled, Major Key
  • A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here…Thank You For Your Service

Top Country Album:chris_stapleton2

  • Jason Aldean, They Don’t Know
  • Florida Georgia Line, Dig Your Roots
  • Blake Shelton, If I’m Honest
  • Chris Stapleton, Traveller
  • Keith Urban, Ripcord

Top Rock Album:thelumineers_1200x628

  • The Lumineers, Cleopatra
  • Metallica, Hardwired…To Self Destruct
  • Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Getaway
  • Twenty One Pilots, Blurryface

Top Latin Album:image13

  • J Balvin, Energia
  • CNCO, Primera Cita
  • Juan Gabriel, Los Duo 2
  • Juan Gabriel, Vestido De Etiqueta: Por Eduardo Magallanes 
  • Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho, Recuerden Mi Estilo

Top Dance/Electronic Album:d75cfc6f23c09400c2f8f8cb82ee00f2

  • The Chainsmokers, Bouquet
  • The Chainsmokers, Collage
  • Flume, Skin
  • Kygo, Cloud Nine
  • Lindsey Stirling, Brave Enough

Top Christian Album:6468178

  • Casting Crowns, The Very Next Thing
  • Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be
  • Joey + Rory, Hymns
  • Hillary Scott & the Family, Love Remains
  • Skillet, Unleashed

Top Gospel Album:tamela-mann-2016

  • Tamela Mann, One Way
  • Kirk Franklin, Losing My Religion
  • Travis Greene, The Hill
  • Tasha Cobbs, One Place: Live
  • Hezekiah Walker, Better: Azusa – The Next Generation 2

Top Hot 100 Song:official-og-image

  • The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, “Closer”
  • The Chainsmokers featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
  • Drake featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
  • Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”
  • Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Selling Song:2madlwj

  • The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, “Closer”
  • The Chainsmokers featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
  • Drake featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
  • Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”
  • Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Radio Song:mobile-bg1-720

  • The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, “Closer”
  • The Chainsmokers featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
  • Drake featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
  • Sia featuring Sean Paul, “Cheap Thrills”
  • Justin Timberlake, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”

Top Streaming Song (Audio):dram-2015-quentin-felder-billboard-650

  • The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, “Closer”
  • Drake featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
  • D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
  • Rihanna, “Needed Me”
  • The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top Streaming Song (Video):05-desiigner-bb16-beat-opener-2016-billboard-crop-1548

  • The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, “Closer”
  • Desiigner, “Panda”
  • Zay Hilfigerr & Zayion McCall, “JuJu On That Beat (TZ Anthem)”
  • Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”
  • Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”

Top Collaboration:6360480141881070091188683523_the-weeknd-4

  • The Chainsmokers featuring Halsey, “Closer”
  • The Chainsmokers featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
  • Drake featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
  • Sia Featuring Sean Paul, “Cheap Thrills”
  • The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top R&B Song:20162f102f072fb02f8704cf736534405389fc931cb4efa0fd-68af2

  • Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
  • Bruno Mars, “24K Magic”
  • Rihanna, “Needed Me”
  • Rihanna Featuring Drake, “Work”
  • The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top R&B Collaboration:rs-pnd-01-e30e5a49-6caa-44ea-93c6-2c1a3ff962aa

  • Drake Featuring WizKid & Kyla, “One Dance”
  • PARTYNEXTDOOR Featuring Drake, “Come And See Me”
  • Rihanna Featuring Drake, “Work”
  • The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk “I Feel It Coming”
  • The Weeknd Featuring Daft Punk, “Starboy”

Top Rap Song:rs-migos-7c3562e7-2a2d-41e8-aa4b-2fab924e1ede

  • Desiigner, “Panda”
  • Drake, “Fake Love”
  • D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
  • Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad And Boujee”
  • Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”

Top Rap Collaboration:juju-youtube

  • D.R.A.M. Featuring Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”
  • Zay Hilfigerr & Zayion McCall, “JuJu On That Beat (TZ Anthem)”
  • Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello, “Bad Things”
  • Migos Featuring Lil Uzi Vert, “Bad and Boujee”
  • Rae Sremmurd Featuring Gucci Mane, “Black Beatles”

Top Country Song:131024_ai13_ku_silk_034rev1

  • Kenny Chesney Featuring Pink, “Setting The World On Fire”
  • Florida Georgia Line, “H.O.L.Y.”
  • Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw, “May We All”
  • Little Big Town, “Better Man”
  • Keith Urban, “Blue Ain’t Your Color”

Top Country Collaboration:eric-church

  • Dierks Bentley Featuring Elle King, “Different For Girls”
  • Kenny Chesney Featuring Pink, “Setting The World On Fire”
  • Eric Church Featuring Rhiannon Giddens, “Kill A Word”
  • Florida Georgia Line Featuring Tim McGraw, “May We All”
  • Chris Young Featuring Vince Gill, “Sober Saturday Night”

Top Rock Song:maxresdefault1

  • Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa & Imagine Dragons with Logic & Ty Dolla $ign Featuring X Ambassadors, “Sucker For Pain”
  • Twenty One Pilots, “Heathens”
  • Twenty One Pilots, “Ride”
  • Twenty One Pilots, “Stressed Out”
  • X Ambassadors, “Unsteady”

Top Latin Song:enriqueiglesiaswallpaperblackbackgroundthesinger

  • Daddy Yankee, “Shaky Shaky”
  • Enrique Iglesias Featuring Wisin, “Duele El Corazon”
  • Nicky Jam, “Hasta El Amanecer”
  • Shakira Featuring Maluma, “Chantaje”
  • Carlos Vives & Shakira, “La Bicicleta”

Top Dance/Electronic Song:dj-snake-bw-billboard-1548

  • The Chainsmokers Featuring Halsey, “Closer”
  • The Chainsmokers Featuring Daya, “Don’t Let Me Down”
  • Calvin Harris Featuring Rihanna, “This Is What You Came For”
  • Major Lazer Featuring Justin Bieber & MO, “Cold Water”
  • DJ Snake Featuring Justin Bieber, “Let Me Love You”

Top Christian Song:hillaryscottfam2097_hires_print-c9b1092a-79bd-4dbd-8b58-f9ef1e9f3c1f

  • Lauren Daigle, “Trust In You”
  • Hillary Scott & The Family, “Thy Will”
  • Skillet, “Feel Invincible”
  • Ryan Stevenson Featuring GabeReal, “Eye Of The Storm”
  • Zach Williams, “Chain Breaker”

Top Gospel Song:hezekiah-walker-2

  • Jekalyn Carr, “You’re Bigger”
  • Tasha Cobbs, Featuring Kierra Sheard “Put A Praise On It”
  • Kirk Franklin, “Wanna Be Happy??”
  • Travis Greene, “Made A Way”
  • Hezekiah Walker, “Better”

 

 

 

Nobody But Me: A Review

Nobody But Me: A Review

Michael Bublé released an album late last year that went very under the radar. Bublé’s self-produced ninth studio album dropped and it is a collection of underrated gems in Bublé’s catalog. Today I will be analyzing Nobody But Me track by track.

1. I Believe In You

This song is an inspirational acoustic piece that stirs the listener and reaffirms and reassures them. The song builds and touches all at once. The chorus is catchy and inspiring, making this song a promising start to a great album. The production is solid and very acoustic. I Believe In You is a gentle and stirring song that immediately makes you forget that this album is self-produced and surprised me. I was instantly sold on music producer Michael Bublé after this song.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

2. My Kind of Girl

Michael Bublé is a crooner. His style is one that has not been approached and attempted for ages before Bublé appeared on the scene in 2003. He has gracefully adapted, remade, and created songs that resurrected the dormant swing music genre years after the greats like Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett had passed and retired. This song reaffirms his ability to control massive swing bands and croon into the hearts of listeners. This is Bublé at his most expert and comfortable. This fits right into his catalog with exceptional ease.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

3. Nobody But Me

The title track of the album removes the swing and returns to the pop style we were introduced to on his previous album To Be Loved. Using fun and upbeat pianos and percussion, Bublé sings about how he wants to be the only one to love his girl. The song also incorporates hip-hop influences and features an upbeat rap by Black Thought of The Roots who owns his sixteen bars. Bublé’s vocals are solid and strong here as well.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A+

4. On An Evening in Roma (Sott’er Celo de Roma)

This English-Italian hybrid slows things down beautifully and demonstrates Bublé’s crooning vocals perfectly in a new arena. The playful mystique works perfectly with the strings reminiscent of a classic Bing Crosby love song. A very well produced song that is an absolute must for any date or love song playlist.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

5. Today Is Yesterday’s Tomorrow

This song adds harmonicas and bluegrass with his normal brass band and jazz-pop. This upbeat, inspirational tune features Bublé’s best-written song yet and debuts his ability to sudo-rap. This funky pop song is insanely catchy and fun and is a must for any playlist.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

6. The Very Thought of You

Slowing things back down is a great change of pace and allows the listener to catch their breath after the previous jamboree. Utilizing classic strings and harps once more to emulate a classic mystique of lounge music that was perpetuated mainly by Bing Crosby. The crooning vocals are accompanied by acoustic guitars, lounge pianos and jazz drums. It’s an easy listen and a great addition for any relaxation, date, or work playlist.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade A-

7. I Wanna Be Around

Bublé brings his big jazz band back for another lounge song in the vein of Sinatra’s love songs. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before from Bublé’s catalog. It fits right into his repertoire, but I wouldn’t expect to hear him perform this one on his next tour.

Track Rating: 7/10

Grade: A-

8. Someday (feat. Meghan Trainor)

This song is very pretty and modern. The sudden change of pace and style is much welcomed and is sure to be another hit for the crooner. This duet with pop darling Meghan Trainor is perfect. Their vocals blend beautifully. Meghan is a great duetist, which we knew after her stellar duet with John Legend. The song about desired love is gorgeous and realistic. Utilizing a ukulele for the rhythm was a stroke of genius, working expertly into this bright, beautiful love song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

9. My Baby Just Cares

We get another jazz lounge song that’s more upbeat and is another safe bet on Bublé’s part. With his swinging brass band and strings meshing together in a fun love song about how his lover cares only for him. Bublé is clearly at home and having fun on this track, presenting himself and his band like Frank Sinatra. A great jazz song that has a nice place on this album. It doesn’t really pop, but it’s perfect for Bublé and his album.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

10. This Love of Mine

Slowing things down again is good after the medium paced swinger we just heard. This string led song is pretty and brings back the 40s love song feel. Bublé carries himself with such bravado as Bennett and Sinatra, and even Elvis in his love songs. A beautiful track for Bublé to croon on. I wouldn’t expect to see this one on tour, however.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

11. Nobody But Me (Alternate w/ Trumpets Version)

This song isn’t enhanced or really affected in any significant way with this alternate version. The trumpet section gets an awkward solo in place of Black Thought’s rap, which I honestly prefer as the better choice than the screechy trumpets. It just sounds like the original version with some altered percussion and louder trumpets in some spots.

Track Rating: 4/10

Grade: C

12. Take You Away

This song is fun and poppy. The song utilizes road trip sounds and fun guitars. This song is a treat and worth the deluxe edition alone. The song features fun trumpets and is perfect for your road trip playlists. It’s a treat to listen to.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A+

13. God Only Knows

The original ending to the single version of the album, God Only Knows ends things on a somber note, like Ed Sheeran’s ÷. This slow and pretty song serves as a tragic breakup ballad. The song doesn’t even demonstrate Bublé’s crooning abilities, it just ends things sadly for the sake of sympathy. It’s not an impressive song. It’s not provocative. It builds slightly in the bridge, but ends up falling flat. The otherwise well-paced album ends, on both accounts, very flatly with this song and leaves the listener wanting more from Bublé.

Track Rating: 6/10

Grade: B-

Conclusion

Michael Bublé’s ninth studio album is a solid addition to his catalog. It’s certainly not his best album, but it features some gems that are sure to be classics on his resume. Where does Nobody But Me fall in the rankings of his albums? I’ll show you.

  1. Crazy Love
  2. It’s Time
  3. Christmas
  4. Call Me Irresponsible
  5. Nobody But Me
  6. To Be Loved
  7. Michael Bublé
  8. Come Fly With Me
  9. Totally Bublé

 

The Day The Earth Stood Still

The Day The Earth Stood Still

I don’t have much of a memory of that day. Bits. Pieces. I remember Mom wasn’t home and Dad was at work. Grandma was watching the news while I sat at her feet playing with my bricks. I didn’t understand why she was crying. I remember that after that, I wasn’t allowed to watch TV for the rest of the week. I could only watch my VHS tapes of Thomas The Tank Engine and VeggieTales. I remember my dad coming home quickly to check on me and to call my mom. I know now that my mom was in Arizona and was supposed to fly back that day. I also found out later in life that a colleague of hers drove her back to North Dakota, because all of the planes had been shut down before her flight. Those are my only memories. When I was 13, we learned about in class, my teacher demanding none of us had an recollection of that day. “We were too young.” While we may have been to young to comprehend what was going on, we weren’t too young to understand what was going on. 

As the years go by, I start to comprehend the severity of that day. I just grew up in the new world order, I didn’t truly know any other way of life. It took me 15 year to fully comprehend that awful day. What it was. What implications it had. The loss of life. Those were families. Fathers. Mothers. Brothers. Sisters. Gone. 

But we did not roll over. We did not give up. We did not go quietly into the night. We rebuilt. We mourned. We survived. And we came back. We grew stronger. We became one nation under God again. We became a patriotic force against terrorism. We woke up too late to the acts of terrorism that were rising, but we acted swiftly. We attacked. We avenged. We won. So while the loss of lives is heartbreaking. No. Devastating. We can take comfort in God and in the fact that after all of that death and destruction, we rose from the ashes a stronger, unified nation. A nation who won. A nation who wins. A nation who will not go quietly into the night, but will put up a fight. We became the United States of America once again. 

RKO: The Story of the Forgotten Studio

RKO: The Story of the Forgotten Studio

Introduction

Prefacing this now, this is a long post that is basically my research findings on an old Hollywood studio and is followed by my own personal introspection on what could have been. If movie spec and stats or movie history isn’t your interest, then I would move along.

The Story of RKO

So today I had some movie super sleuthing fun. I was looking at the box office numbers and stuff (cuz i’m a nerd and i love that stuff) and I was looking at inflation numbers and noticed a studio name I had never seen before…RKO Radio Productions. So I went to look up the big six (movie studios that were the originals) when I noticed there were actually eight major studios in the beginning, RKO being one of them, along with Paramount, MGM, 20th Century Fox, Columbia (Sony), Warner Bros, and Universal. The other two were United Artists and RKO. United Artists was merged into MGM and RKO went defunct in the late 1950’s leading into the 60’s, before going away entirely in a movie studio sense in the 1990’s. This led me to wonder what caused this and what movies were they famous for making. I did my research. RKO started in 1930 and in 1935 struck a distribution deal with a new young animator named Walt Disney. Walt Disney Pictures was merely a production company at the time and did not have the legs to stand up on its own or to distribute its own movies to the reaches of which major studios could. RKO secured the distribution rights and would slap their names on Disney products and ship them off. This was a normal occurrence for RKO, who distributed films by Samuel Goodwyn Productions and others. RKO would release about 30 movies per year and only 15 would be actually produced in house. These films did not succeed well against competitors like MGM or Paramount. The most successful film they produced in house was Citizen Kane, which failed at the box office. Disney was their only reliable source of revenue. After about twenty years of distributing Disney films, Walt decided he had accumulated enough money and popularity to open up Walt Disney Studios, including Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures. Disney left mainly because RKO was failing. The studio was bought out in shares by Howard Hughes in 1954, after a plethora of lawsuits ruined the company in 1953. The company suffered its biggest blow when Disney left in 1953, though RKO fought to keep them, but lost. They could not make back the money they were spending on production, leading to them shutting down production and rely solely on distribution deals. In 1955, they distributed Oklahoma! which saved them temporarily. In 1957, they effectively went defunct, releasing the remainder of their films between 1958 and 1960, leaving distribution to be handled by Universal International. In 1959, RKO dissolved, but was reconstituted in 1978 by RKO General, its parent company. In the 1980’s, they were rebranded RKO Pictures Inc, and dealt mainly in remakes of their old films. In 1989, RKO was sold in its entirety to Pavillion Communications, which renamed it RKO Pictures, LLC. In 1990, they began production on original films, however, they had lost all popularity and pull in Hollywood. After 1991, it took them five years to get distribution aid for their next three films: a documentary, a co-produced film, and a TV movie. After 1998, they began dealing in TV movies and would often seek co-production. They released a 2002 TV Movie, a 2006 direct-to-cable film, and a 2003 TV movie. In 2006, they released their first feature length film in over ten years, Laura Smiles. In 2007, they remade on of their classic films, getting distribution and production aid from Revolution Studios, Cube Vision, and Columbia Pictures (Sony). The film was called Are We There Yet?. It took them five years to release another film, in co-production with Entertainment One, called A Late Quartet. In 2015, they released their first totally independent film with wide release, Barely Lethal, starring Hailee Steinfeld. This is last bit of information I could find on RKO. Currently, RKO is an independent film company, but was formerly known as one of the “Big 8” of Hollywood Studios, thanks to Walt Disney Pictures.

Summary

I find it interesting that RKO didn’t lock down the rights to Disney and their films after the first few movies made them serious bank. If they had, RKO would most likely still own Disney, be a top seven studio, and have the name recognition that Disney has today. If they had made the same business moves as Disney, you would be seeing “RKO’s Captain America: Civil War” or “RKO’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens”. I believe that RKO’s business missteps are what led Disney to make the smart decisions they do today, in buying the rights to Marvel, Lucasarts, and Pixar, knowing that if RKO had done that to them, they would still be a dominant company.
I don’t know, I thought this was just fun to find. Do you have any ideas on movie studios or film-related search topics to find? Let me know in the comments below.

Wake Up America!: An Open Letter

Wake Up America!: An Open Letter

Dear America,

Wake Up! Racism exits. Hatred exists. What are we doing about it? Nothing. Alton was just a man minding his own business, mistakenly accused of a misdemeanor he didn’t commit, and was shot 3 times in cold blood for. It sickens and saddens me that we just haven’t woken up to the hatred yet. Please America, DO SOMETHING! Our men and our children are being murdered in such a continuous matter that it is becoming common place. When did it become commonplace to murder men, children, & babies. Stop being quiet & making excuses. We try to make excuses to justify our indifference when, in reality, there is no excuse. Nothing can justify sitting on the side and watching families be destroyed. We can all do something but we are choosing not to. Look at Alton’s poor family. His poor fifteen year old son, who was crying on TV, begging for his daddy back. It just kills me. This is a nightmare… And it’s on our streets. It’s in our cities. It’s in our own backyard. The real problem with America is not the racism or the discrimination of people of faith or of a different race or sex, but the real problem in America is me. It’s you. It’s all of us who have been sitting quietly and watching it all happen. The fact that we have been indifferent to our own friends & neighbors being shot makes us responsible as well. Our skin maybe different shades, but we all bleed the same color. We are all human beings. Wether you are gay, black, Hispanic, straight, white, Native, Muslim, Christian, Athiest, or whatever it is you are, we need to embrace love and not hate. In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says that the second greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. And I know that there has been blood shed on both sides. I don’t want this letter to sound like I’m assigning blame to the police department. They put their life on the line for our safety every day and I thank them for that. However, there are some in the force that are cold blooded killers, and the Police need to step up and nog only address this, but to take responsibility for the actions of the officers who have murdered without justifiable cause. This is a heart issue that needs to be cured. The cure is dropping the barriers & embracing love over hate. Why people hate each other over the silliest things such a skin, sexual orientation, or religion is beyond me. We must embrace the same love that Jesus show again and again. What I am calling for is to stop the fighting. Stop the hatred. Stop the indifference! Indifference is what caused 6 million Jews to die in the holocaust, countless people to be hurt & abused over their skin in the 60’s and that indifference is what’s causing the deaths of innocent men and women of different races, sexual orientations, & religions. Alton is the last straw, and I believe that now is the time to start caring and to stop being neutral. Indifference kills, and when we’re indifferent, we are the killers. Now is the time to replace racism with unity and hate with love. 

Sincerely,

Kaleb Koho

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.