Underground Spotlight: Chelsea Reject by Elijah Powell

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Nothing makes me happier than seeing a female hip hop artist who doesn’t need to pose half naked on the world stage in order to get famous for whatever else they do. People’s perception of Hip Hop is seriously misconstrued because of what major labels promote through their leashed rappers who do not in the least bit represent Hip Hop culture. This is why I was happy to stumble across a little known project by the talented Chelsea Reject, titled Radi-8. The project is Hip Hop in its purest form: authentic and creative with the soulfully gritty sound real Hip Hop purists love.

 

I discovered the young college student emcee through another artist I wanted to review, T’nah Apex, who I believe has equal appetency to create true Hip Hop. Because Apex has not released a full project yet, I looked to see if her partner in crime, Chelsea Reject, did, and I was blessed by the music gods upon coming in contact with such an auditory gem. Radi-8 is a project centered around Chelsea’s life, an emotionally treacherous coming of age story of a female artist coming up in a world that aims to put females in particular in a small box. The journey the project takes listeners on describes concepts like relationship issues, being overlooked, lonely, and generally unnoticed, and rebellion against the status quo set by society. She exhibits lyricism in the process of telling these tales based on real life experiences she endured, making for a beautiful work of musical art.

 

Radi-8’s fourteen tracks each sound distinct, with different production on every song except “Nostalgia” and “Fin(Outro)” which were both produced by El R. My favorite cut off the project is “Jumpy”, produced by Black Milk. The beat’s pithy snares and gritty bass compliments the piano sample and provide the perfect platform for Chelsea and the song’s feature, Keemie, to demonstrate why real Hip hop will always be in demand. The song comes down on the music industry that alienates underground artists who create timeless art rather than temporary entertainment, like when Chelsea raps, “Lil’ me, stranger to this industry/ Hey mister Def Jam-he wasn’t feelin’ me”. While the song does maintain this concept, it still comes off as a Hip Hop song that encompasses the desire to present great lyricism simply for the sake of letting others know how good of an emcee you are, gripped by an overall confrontational feel.

 

I reached out to Chelsea to see if she would answer a few questions concerning herself as an artist, and she was much obliged.

 

  • What do you think of the outcome of Radi-8?

 

Radi-8’s outcome was more than I thought it would be. Though it was slow at first many people began finding out about me through it. I gained a lot of fans and that was a blessing.

 

  • What life occurrences specifically provided the most inspiration for the project?

 

I recorded Radi-8 in my college dorm at SUNY Purchase. At the time I was going through a lot of life changes and self-doubt and really learning what it’s like to be on your own. I began recording as an outlet and a way to get my feelings out in a positive way. I picked all of the beats and I recorded myself with a makeshift studio my father bought me right before I left for college. Music saved my life and gave me a creative way to speak to people and relate to them.

 

  • What is your favorite track off the project?

 

My favorite track on the tape is “Good Mourning” because it is probably the most personal thing I’ve ever recorded. I lost my aunt who was very instrumental to my life and growth. For years it ate me up inside. I needed some type of closure. This track gave me that closure. I even cried while writing it. However, the song ends on a hopeful note at the end. I did that because I needed that hope for myself and it helped.

 

  • What is your age?(If you don’t mind me asking)

I’m 21 years old.

 

  • Where are you from?

I’ve lived in Brooklyn my whole life. I went from Park Slope to Flatbush to Crown Heights (where I currently reside). I have a Caribbean-American background (St. Lucian and Jamaican).

  • What do you represent as an artist?

I feel like I represent originality and self-acceptance as an artist. Every song I’ve created was derived from real life situations. I really am who I claim to be. I created the name Chelsea Reject when I was a spoken word poet (before the music). At first I called myself a Reject because I wasn’t very popular in school and I was that weird kid who always had headphones on. But as I got older I realized the Reject stands for accepting all your flaws and rejecting what society wants you to be. It’s about being yourself and learning to love and accept you.

 

  • How was the creative process for Radi-8? Was it a smooth or rugged journey?

Radi-8 was a struggle tape. Very difficult. A lot of producers and artists fronted on me because I didn’t have a following as of yet. All of the featured artists were friends of mine who also did music in the under-underground. They encouraged me to keep writing despite my lack of attention to my work. Honestly the entire mixtape was like a therapy session for me.

 

  • What are your future plans for your music career?

You can’t really plan for life. I’ve been learning this more and more each day. My plan is just to keep being myself, creating music that not only others can relate to but that I can relate to. I want to give back to the community, especially the youth. My plan is to inspire and help make a difference.

 

  • Any new music projects coming up in the near future?

I’ve got a new mixtape coming out early 2015. It’s titled CMPLX and it features Pro Era members. I won’t give too much away but this project is different from Radi-8. It’s a lot about my life experiences and growing in music as a whole.

The project is a great listen that rekindles hope in real Hip Hop during a time when most overlook the underground’s creativity, dedication to the craft, and overall greatness. I give Radi-8 an 8.5 out of 10.

You can download it for free here:

http://www.datpiff.com/mixtapes-search.php?criteria=chelsea%20reject

 

Or stream it here:

https://soundcloud.com/chelsea-reject/sets/radi-8

 

Let Hip Hop’s rays radiate upon your soul.

Peace.

Underground Spotlight: Dreb by Elijah Powell

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No matter what you rap about, all I ask is that you can actually rap. You wanna talk about politics? Fine. You wanna make love ballads? Cool. You wanna talk about the horrors of the ghetto? Do it. Just make sure you can properly execute lyricism on full songs that sound distinct from each other that each touch upon the various components of whatever subject matter you choose to rap about. That is the key to a good rap project.

 

Dreb, one-half of the rap group OTO (Out of The Ordinary), is an emcee hailing from Englewood, New Jersey. The duo’s latest release, Dead Weight 2, is a mixtape project that exploits well known beats and combines them with lyricism that brings the beats new life. It’s also amazing that they go harder on the beats than the actual artists who originally used the beats for their copyrighted songs. It shows skill when you take someone else’s work and do it better. DW2 is an example of that skill on all eight songs.

 

If you’ve ever heard Troy Ave’s All About The Money track, produced by Roofeeo, you’d probably agree that its a lyrically underwhelming song that had potential to be a smash hit record. OTO took the beat and saved the day: “Before these people even utter out a word, I’m bound to press em’/ Run down, put this forty to work like a Drake session/ My recreation, my territory no playground/ Like a lullaby, my forty be singing until he lay down”. Dreb connects Drake’s producer, Noah Forty Shebib, to his glock forty firearm, and connects the action of firing it to “singing” until his enemy dies, or lays down. If you want to talk about murder, thats the way to do it.

 

In an interview  with Dreb I listened to what the young emcee had to say:

 

What is your age?

 

I’m 19.

 

What inspires you to make music?

 

What inspires me to make music was the feeling of helping people get through things…So many people deal with different things everyday and I figured why not help the next person’s day become better? No matter what genre.

 

How long did it take to complete the mixtape?

 

It took us about 2 months to create Dead Weight 2. We had this idea of bringing back that raw lyricism that the game is kind of lacking right now and snap on every single [track].

 

How was the creative process for you?

 

The creative process was actually rough because at one point so much was going on that we lost focus but we bounced back strong and were able to come together and complete the tape.

 

What do you see for your future as a musician?

 

My future will consist of constant dedication and love of the game…Don’t get me wrong, yeah the money, cars, and clothes are great things that come along with it, but there’s nothing like having passion for the game. I want to be known as not only one of the greatest artists to ever touch the mic but I want to be remembered as the most impactful.

 

In a way the mixtape is a musical embodiment of classic gangster films: well written and to the point. Its been a long time since I’ve been drawn into such a well crafted explicit release. I give it a 6.9 out of ten. It’s not for everybody, but if you appreciate raw lyricism with no filter, you’ll enjoy OTO’s Dead Weight.

 

You can download or stream the mixtape for free here.

 

Peace.

 

Time For Some Action by Elijah Powell

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Maybe when you were younger you watched cartoons on television that centered around action: climbing, swinging, jumping, and fighting. Maybe in your younger days you watched those cartoons specifically for that action. Maybe it entertained you for the moment as a child and that is the end of your memory. Or maybe you not only took in the action from the show, but also the reasons for the actions performed, the reasons for such dramatic and heavy subject matter of such shows, and the morals embedded.

 

If you are like me, then you enjoyed those shows because of that extra substance, aside from the thrill of watching the fight scenes. I remember the feelings my heart had when a character passed away, achieved something, or stood up for what he or she felt was right during action cartoon series such as Sailor Moon, Justice League Unlimited, and Naruto. Most of these actions shows taught me life lessons that other comedic cartoons that seem easier for children these days to comprehend always lacked.

 

I was conscious to these lessons taught because many times they related directly to situations that were taking place in my life at the time, but maybe you watched for the entertainment aspect but still unknowingly clung to the lessons, enacting them when conflict arose in your life. Because of this I make the case that action cartoons are more than just relevant, but have been essential to the development of children of Generation Y, and unfortunately as time continues to pass, it pains my soul to witness the classic genre of cartoons slowly die.

 

You may ask why action cartoons are relevant to yourself or critical to the lives of average American children. You can answer that question yourself, by analyzing what shows you seriously got into as a kid. If the shows didn’t affect you directly while in elementary school, I’m sure it at least affected some of your male peers of the time. I remember when Dragon Ball Z got extremely popular and every kid on the playground was doing kamhameha’s at each other nonstop. The impact was crazy. At my school, many bigger students who bullied those smaller than them were being taken on more often by their usual victims. Shows like Dragon Ball Z influenced the bully’s daily prey to stand up to anyone bothering them rather than just backing down again. Anyone watching the show would much rather be the one that stands up for

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Krillin (L), and Goku (R)

 

themselves and for what they feel is right, like the show’s protagonist Goku, rather than running and hiding in the face of danger like Goku’s cowardly sidekick Krillin sometimes did.

 

Most action cartoons from the end of the twentieth century into the early twenty-first century describe the same principles concerning the assertion of self which may warrant self defense, and the decision of whether or not action, usually violent, should be taken. A show that aired on Cartoon Network on March 6, 2000 titled Gundam Wing discussed deeper topics like imperialism and the rebellious tactics used to fight against it, letting young viewers see how the powers that be can sway the masses’ perspectives in their favor, through conspiracy involvement and slandering freedom fighters opposing their oppressive rule.

 

Batman Beyond, an old favorite of mine, had episodes in which corrupt companies got away with secretly creating illegal chemical weapons, showing the corruption of government when in close ties with corporations.

 

On the other side of the social issues spectrum, action shows like the Powerpuff Girls taught me to never underestimate the power of females and not to see them as lesser beings. I’m sure the show planted the same seed in its many young female viewers, letting them know that action should not always be left up to the boys and that they, too, can make a difference in the world. All of these messages and more flooded my mind, and as I grew older and did more research on history, I began to understand why these plots were chosen for what many write off as simply children’s cartoons: the subject matter is a direct reflection of real life. The shows displayed the issues and gave ways to solve them, diving deep into the darker side of villainy as well as the adversity faced by those associated with heroism.

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(Main character Heero Yuy, with his Gundam behind him)

 

I presume that since shows like the ones mentioned have partially influenced many in Generation Y to grow up and use the newfound power of social media to enact change, the corporations that now own many of these cartoon channels (like Time Warner which owns Cartoon Network) would rather not air such programs, even if they are in demand. However, there are primarily two direct factual reasons as to why cartoons centered around action, adventure, and long driven plotlines are disappearing: Low ratings, and parental concern.

 

Regardless of the artistic masterpieces that many of the cartoons are, they are expensive to create and if the network sees that the show isn’t producing enough profit from either its ratings or accompanying toy lines based on the show, they will choose to cancel it’s run. While many of these action shows are actually toned down for the American audience with networks editing out blood and frightening imagery, some parents were still concerned about the amount of violence in action cartoons, specifically from the early two-thousands and onward. Because of this many shows were switched to different time slots for airings, usually weekend nights rather than weekday afternoons, contributing to the decrease in action cartoon ratings.

 

This is sad to me not because I love many of these shows that were cancelled, but because what is replacing those shows are dumbed down slapstick comedy programs that do not spark imagination or provoke thought with the newer generation of youngsters. The only promising action cartoon airing currently is Nickelodeon’s The Legend of Korra series that emcopasses a world at war, the show being a spin off series from the Avatar: The Last Airbender saga which owes much of its success to timing (the animation style of the show is heavily influenced by Japanese anime and the first episode aired in 2005, when anime had peaked in popularity within the United States).

 

Despite this, the show is overshadowed by an onslaught of new shows that are either cheaply produced or have weak plots that clearly lack depth (or both), such as Fan Boy & Chum Chum created by Eric Robles, which is about two friends going around their town doing immature activities and annoying neighbors, and Sanjay & Craig created by Jim Dirschberger, Andreas Trolf, and Jay Howell, which is pretty much about the same thing.

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(Chum Chum on the left, and Fanboy on the right)

 

I don’t hate satirical cartoons, but even the best cartoons based on humor also had messages and morals involved in episodes. This is what made shows like Spongebob Squarepants, created by Stephen Hillenburg, originally so popular, having a Mr. Krabs as a greedy businessman, Squidward as a self-centered and pretentious artist, and Spongebob as a hard-working but oblivious character who often gets taken advantage of by those characters that he calls his friends. This is a reflection of real life! Many long time fans of the show despise its current seasons that undoubtedly lack that real life aspect that made the cartoon such a success back in its early years.

 

Unfortunately, most people have come to a consensus that satirical cartoons are not to be taken seriously because the same thing that happened to Spongebob has happened to almost all other humorous cartoons, with the exception of Clarence, created by Skylar Page (which is rumored to be cancelled soon due to a case of sexual assault that Page was accused of inciting), that showcases children dealing with adult issues the adults in the show have trouble dealing with themselves, in childlike ways, such as divorce, the education system, and loneliness.

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(The lovable Clarence)


Since children do not take cartoons like that as serious material from which knowledge of life can be gained, action cartoons are the last hope for the moistening of the youth’s imagination that is currently drying up. They are needed in today’s new reality where the children, and people in general, are so very disconnected from it. Children’s programming networks are no longer teaching the youth, but pacifying it, and while there is a time and a place for everything, I think that now more than ever that its time for some action.

Jake Miller Mini Tour Review and Experience

Jake Miller performing Me and You November 12th at iPlay America
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Jake Miller finished his mini tour on Monday. The 10-city tour started Oct. 28 in San Francisco, CA and ended Nov. 17 in Cleveland, OH.

I attended the Nov. 12 show at iPlay America in Freehold. I was waiting for the concert for months which felt like an eternity, so the day of the concert I was so excited and nervous, I couldn’t believe it finally arrived. The opening acts were Sam James and Justin Johnes which I really did not enjoy.

The concert was all general admission so we wanted to make sure we got there in plenty of time to get up close. We got to the venue at 11 a.m. for the 7 p.m. show. When we arrived we were the 13th, 14th and 15th people in line and were told by security we’d be guaranteed first row. Since the doors didn’t open until 6 p.m. we waited outside cuddled up in blankets all day.

When the doors opened, we went inside and went to our front row spots. The show started at 7 p.m. with opening act, Sam James. He performed until 7:30 p.m. and then at 7:45 p.m. the second act, Justin Johnes came on until 8:15 p.m.

After the opening acts were done with, I started becoming even more excited and nervous. At 8:30 p.m. the crowd went crazy as Jake Miller came out with “Collide”. Everyone was singing, screaming, dancing and jumping (including myself) throughout the show.

Miller’s performance was amazing and getting to experience it first row was even more surreal. It was probably my favorite Jake Miller concert out of the 3 I’ve been to. It was an experience I will never forget.

Track List:

Collide

High Life

Hollywood

Me and You

A Million Lives

Party in the Penthouse

Ghost

Glow

Dazed and Confused

Like Me

First Flight Home

Stress of School

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What comes to mind when you think of school? Teachers? Friends? Classmates? Homework? Tests? Projects? For most people, it would be a combination of all of these things. Of course, when you face all of these basically every day for almost seven hours a day, five days a week for ten months, that would pretty much be what you would think of when it comes to school. But there’s also something that comes to mind when you add all of this together. What is it? One word: stress.

With the amount of work being piled onto you every day for months, it’s not impossible to imagine the stress that is being brought upon you. For those that strive to do the best in school, they have work that is continuously piled onto them. As for those that struggle during the year, it’s also a load of stress. Think about it. Not being able to keep up with the work. Worrying about your grades slipping. Thinking it’s the wrong class for you. You can’t help being stuck in this spiraling tornado while wondering if you’re going to survive to see the light of another day. That’s an exaggeration but still, you really don’t know how to handle it.

What can you do to help relieve it? Is there anything that can be helped so you feel less stressed? Well first, take a deep breath. When you do, you get a clearer mind and understand what’s going on.

After you’ve calmed yourself down from all of that studying for a test you think you’re going to fail, stop thinking about it. The more you think of it, the more stressed out you’re going to be. And trust me, no one wants to see a kid pulling out their hair over a test during lunch when it was announced last week and you procrastinated because you were “busy” watching TV.

After your huge studying frenzy during lunch, walk into your test feeling confident about knowing the material and do your best. Knowing this, it may relieve the tension you feel about having to get a perfect grade on the test.

When the forty-eight minutes are up, hand it in and walk away knowing that you did your best. Don’t walk out of the room counting how many answers you know you got wrong. If you do, you’ll add to the stress that you already feel because of the test.

Stress is something everyone will feel no matter what you’re doing. But if you can find ways to control it and relax, you’ll feel ten times better, whether you’re in school or outside in the real world.

FOUR Review

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One Direction’s newest album, FOUR, is unlike anything they’ve done before. Prior albums have included mostly pop songs that stick in the listener’s head, but they lacked meaningful lyrics. Midnight Memories, their last album, showed signs of their growth. But it seems everything has fallen into place on this album.

FOUR includes songs that are heartfelt and meaningful. The members, Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, and Niall Horan, all wrote songs on the album. In a world where artists usually remix songs from other people, it’s refreshing for One Direction to have original pieces. And I think the originality really helps the album. The songs are from personal experiences, ones that fans, or even someone who just hears the song on the radio, can relate to.

With this album, I feel like they can escape their image. And by that, I mean people won’t just disregard them because “they’re just a boy band”. It shows another side of them, a side people who aren’t fans will like. I’m sure people will be surprised when they find out the new song they like that’s playing on the radio is sung by One Direction.

Tracklist:

  1. Steal My Girl

2. Ready To Run

3. Where Do Broken Hearts Go

4. 18

5. Girl Almighty

6. Fool’s Gold

7. Night Changes

8. No Control

9. Fireproof

10. Spaces

11. Stockholm Syndrome

12. Clouds

 

Exclusive Bonus Tracks:

13. Change Your Ticket

14. Illusion

15. Once in a Lifetime

16. Act My Age

Taylor Swift’s New Album Confesses Old Feelings For Harry Styles

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Taylor Swift’s new album, 1989, has just recently been released. Of course, it has caused a frenzy of people giving their opinion on her “new style”. The famous red-lipstick-wearing singer has abandoned her country flair (even though that happened a long time ago), and switched to full on pop. Like every other album, Swift mostly sings about her many ex-boyfriends.  She even confirms that in the second track on the album, “Blank Space” : “Got a long list of ex-lovers they’ll tell you I’m insane.”  Well, if you said it, Taylor!

But this album seems like it’s focused on one ex in  particular. One ex that’s in a band that contains the word “one”. Of course I’m referring to One Direction member and teenage heartthrob, Harry Styles. The clues that aim towards Styles are evident once you listen to the songs and look at the lyrics.

We’ll start with the song “Style”. I’m not kidding, the name of the song is actually Style. Swift talks about a “long hair, slicked back, white t-shirt” ex in the song. For some reason ‘hair’ comes up a lot in the album, such as in the single “Shake It Off” where she calls over a “fella over there with the hella good hair”. Well, Styles does have good hair. But, back to “Style”, it’s about Swift talking to her boy about cheating on her. At one point she screams “Take me home / Just take me home, yeah. Just take me home”. Hm, that’s funny, I think I’ve heard that before. Oh yeah, “Take Me Home” was the name of One Direction’s second album which was released in Nov. 2012, shortly before “Haylor” was official. Another poke at Styles, or just a coincidence?

But “Out of the Woods” might be the song most clearly about Styles. It talks about wanting to know if her relationship is official and if they can be seen together. She actually asks, “Are we out of the woods yet?” over 60 times. Even saying, “Looking at it now, last December we were built to fall apart, then fall back together.” Haylor’s first public outing was in Dec. 2012 in Central Park. And interestingly enough, Swift has a song called “Welcome To New York’ on the album, of course where Central Park is located. Somehow that song now qualifies her to be the new ambassador of NYC.  “Out Of The Woods” is most definitely about her at one point secret relationship with Styles.

But not every single song is about Harry. “Bad Blood” isn’t about an ex-boyfriend, but rather an ex-friend. Rumors have been flying that the song is about fellow female popstar, Katy Perry.

Swift told Rolling Stone this about Perry, “’Oh, we’re just straight-up enemies. And it wasn’t even about a guy! It had to do with business. She basically tried to sabotage an entire arena tour. She tried to hire a bunch of people out from under me. And I’m surprisingly non-confrontational – you would not believe how much I hate conflict. So now I have to avoid her. It’s awkward, and I don’t like it.”

Even though Swift claims her feud with Perry has nothing to do with a guy, it may have something to do with it. Perry was seen with Styles at Nobu restaurant in Malibu back in Sept. Could “Bad Blood” be a form of revenge? For some reason, everything always links back to Styles.

Although investigating and looking into the lyrics of 1989 is fun, the album isn’t a masterpiece. It does deliver songs that are catchy and will stick in your head for days, weeks, even months. But Swift always creates songs like that. If you’re a Taylor Swift fan you’ll love it, and if you’re a One Direction fan you’ll love laughing at it.