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Music Quickspins

Rich the Kid – The World Is Yours

Rich the Kid – The World Is Yours  (Interscope Records, 2018)

Rich the Kid’s debut album, The World Is Yours, is exactly what you would expect from the New York/Atlanta rapper. Considered the fourth Migos by some, Rich the Kid borrows heavily from his contemporaries, using dark uptempo trap beats, a triplet flow and dramatic ad libs. However, one thing that sets Rich the Kid apart is his ability to actually rap, which he only puts on full display during the album’s final track, “Dead Friends.” At 14 tracks and 46 minutes long, The World Is Yours doesn’t overstay its welcome. However, Rich the Kid does very little to keep the listener’s attention for that long. Many of the songs blend into one another, leaving the project a little one-dimensional. Songs like “Plug Walk” and “New Freezer” featuring Kendrick Lamar keep this project afloat, while some of the other features, like Quavo and Offset from Migos, are underwhelming.

Trial Track: “Plug Walk”

Score: 5.5/10

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Music Quickspins

Paris Louis – Deathcolors

Paris Louis – Deathcolors

Paris Louis, an artist I discovered through a local buying-and-selling sneaker group on Facebook, has released his debut mixtape, Deathcolors. The Montreal rapper is a breath of fresh air, not only because of his ability to craft songs and hooks but also because of his songs’ lengths. Unlike many rappers of his ilk, Paris Louis isn’t afraid to make three-and-a-half-minute-long songs, instead of following the two-minute song trend SoundCloud has cultivated. This allows each track to be a more satisfying listen, with more room for verses and sustained hooks. Paris Louis’s sound blends those of Travis Scott and Jay Critch, while maintaining his own unique vocals. All seven songs on this tape are catchy and feature moody, attention-keeping trap beats. With this tape, Paris Louis proves himself to be an artist to watch out for in the years to come.

Trial Track: “Apt 200”

Score: 9/10

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Music Quickspins

Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 2

Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 2 (Quality Control)

Lil Yachty’s latest mixtape is a sequel to his debut mixtape, Lil Boat. The original Lil Boat featured the autotuned crooner switching between two personas: Lil Yachty and Lil Boat. Yachty is the sensitive singing artist, while Boat focused more on rapping and was more aggressive. Lil Boat 2 deviates from this formula with more of the Boat persona shining through. On the majority of the 18 tracks, Yachty trades in bubbly beats for more ominous and cavernous trap production. His rapping has come a long way since the Lil Boat tape, with the flows being more pronounced and hard-hitting. Songs like “She Ready” and “Love Me Forever” are examples of when Yachty goes for a singing approach, but it works. Not to mention songs like “BOOM!” and “66” are certified bangers. This project’s big weak spot is its length, with over half the songs running too short and too generic.

Trial Track: “BOOM!” ft. Ugly God

Score: 6/10

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Music Quickspins

XXXTentacion – ?

XXXTentacion – ? (Capitol)

The infamous Florida rapper is back with his second full-length album, a follow-up to August’s 17. Unlike 17, which was only 27 minutes long, ? nearly doubles that with a plethora of tracks ranging in various music styles. XXXTentacion’s talent is his ability to operate within many different genres. Songs like “Moonlight” and “SAD!” are a mix between hip hop and sad emo rock, while the hilariously titled “I don’t even speak Spanish lol” is a reggaeton track that is not only rhythmic but catchy as hell. Other highlights on the album are “$$$” featuring pre-teen rap sensation Matt Ox and “SMASH!” with PnB Rock. Warning though, like all XXX albums, there are a lot of cringy emo rap tracks that will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth. ? is a huge improvement on 17, but the recent domestic violence case against XXX is definitely a turnoff. If you really want to listen to this, I suggest pirating it rather than buying it.

Trial Track: “SAD!”

Score: 7/10

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Music Quickspins

Migos – Culture 2

Migos – Culture 2 (Quality Control Music)

Culture 2, the Atlanta rap trio’s followup to the Grammy-nominated album Culture, is a bloated attempt at recreating its predecessor’s success. With 24 tracks totalling one hour and 45 minutes, there just simply aren’t enough quality jams to justify the length. With tracks like “Narcos,” the intro “Higher We Go,” “Bad Bitches Only (BBO),” “Walk It Talk It” and “Too Playa,” the album is filled with songs that either sound too much like Migos’s previous album or are just completely unfinished. For instance, the song “Open It Up” is an exact melodic rip-off of the song “Deadz” from the first Culture. Another glaring problem is that the songs are mixed poorly. For a group as big as Migos, poorly mixed tracks are a big no-no. Sure, there are some great songs to jam to, but realistically, this album would have been average at 10 tracks. At 24, this album is a chore.

Trial Track: “Narcos”

Score: 5/10

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Music Quickspins

Brockhampton – Saturation III

Brockhampton – Saturation III (Empire)

Saturation III is the conclusion to Brockhampton’s Saturation trilogy. Starting in the summer of 2017, Brockhampton burst onto the scene with the first Saturation, a mix of R&B and rap that was exciting, fresh and filled with angst. The members of the group, of which there are more than 10, don’t consider themselves a rap group, but a boy band instead. Saturation II was a return to form and another great addition to the series. Saturation III is a solid end to the trilogy, however, it seems like more of an expansion of Saturation I and II than a new album. Much of the album has the same hard-hitting, jazzy, experimental vibes as the first two, with much of the same flows and lyrical themes as well. There are definitely stand-out tracks here. The opening song, “Boogie,” is a certified banger. The crazy, siren-like instrumental and spazzy flows are exactly what you’d want from Brockhampton. However, songs like “Stains,” “Alaska” and “Team” show that, while the album is good, you’ve heard it all before.

Trial Track: “Boogie”

Score: 7.5/10

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Music Quickspins

Travis Scott & Quavo – Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho

Travis Scott & Quavo – Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho (Quality Control)

The last quarter of 2017 was dominated by trap rap collaborative albums. In October, it was Future and Young Thug’s Super Slimey. In November, it was 21 Savage, Offset and Metro Boomin’s Without Warning. Now, Migos’s leader Quavo and Travis Scott are finally here with their long-awaited collaborative project, and they came to play. Unlike the projects listed above, Scott and Quavo have genuine chemistry. On the tape’s best track, “Modern Slavery,” they both trade verses effortlessly. Their melodic voices swap in and out with ease and sometimes they even share verses and hooks. While the album isn’t filled with lyrical genius, it doesn’t have to be. Quavo and Scott make each song interesting, while the lavish trap production makes up for any lyrical shortcomings. On songs like “Moon Rock” and “Saint Laurent Mask,” the production features subtle flourishes that take on a life of their own. Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho is easily the best collaborative tape of 2017.

Trial Track: “Motorcycle Patches”

Score: 9/10

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Student Life

From the world of advertising to the classroom

Marketing professor Peter Elenakis talks about his career and teaching methods

If you’ve ever taken one of Peter Elenakis’s marketing classes, you’ll probably agree that they aren’t like your typical John Molson School of Business course. Sure, his classes have lectures, assignments, exams—but they also contain something you wouldn’t expect from a business course: improv lessons.

For Elenakis, doing things differently helps students to get out of their comfort zones and see the business world in a different way. He said he brings in someone from Montreal Improv to work with the students in his MBA class once a semester, and it allows them to think more creatively.

“A bunch of these students are professionals and are used to a corporate environment and a certain way of doing things,” Elenakis said. “Doing the improv lesson allows them to accept other people’s ideas and also become better presenters.”

As Elenakis explained, presentations are a large part of the business world, which demands that students become expert presenters when pitching an idea. One of the methods Elenakis uses to make his students better at giving talks is to bar them from using PowerPoint.

“Surprisingly, the last few semesters that I’ve been doing this, the presentations without PowerPoint are better than the ones with PowerPoint,” Elenakis said. “I had one student sitting next to me say, ‘It’s not that good with the PowerPoint. We prefer without.’”

While teaching marketing courses at Marianopolis in Montreal before his time at Concordia, Elenakis noticed students were reluctant to present freely and express their ideas comfortably. At the time, Elenakis was doing improv at Second City in Toronto and noticed that improvising improved his presentation skills and his ability to think creatively. That’s when he decided to bring those skills to the classroom and taught his CEGEP students improv, before eventually bringing improv into his classes at Concordia.

Throughout his career, Elenakis has had other experiences with improv and acting. While working in the field on various marketing campaigns, Elenakis got to be in some TV commercials.

Elenakis said he was in a Rub A535 commercial and also got to play a bartender in a Johnnie Walker Whiskey ad. When asked about how he got to star in these commercials, Elenakis’s answer was simple: “We needed an extra and couldn’t afford anybody else.”

Elenakis’ presentation and improv skills aren’t the only tools he brings to the classroom. He also brings years of experience in business, which began all the way back in his college years, when he decided he wanted to go into advertising.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

It was his love of pop culture and television shows like Bewitched that piqued his interest in the field and eventually led him to business school at McGill University.

“As I went to business school, I fell into marketing, and there was a lot of pop culture and entertainment associated with it, so I liked it,” Elenakis said.

After graduating, Elenakis took time off to travel, before looking for a job in advertising. He sent out 50 CVs and called up every company he sent one to. Instead of asking for a job, he asked if the companies had any insights they could give him about the business world.

These conversations led to interviews ,which, after a while, led him to his first job in the industry. Elenakis has worked in Montreal and Toronto at companies like J.W. Thompson, Leo Burnett, Taxi, Cossette and a small media company called Mediavation.

At the beginning of his career, Elenakis got to work on big projects with some of the world’s most recognizable brands. However, as he explained, he had more of a junior role when starting out.

“I was an assistant media planner, so my job was to get information and determine where they should be spending their money,” Elenakis said. “I was working with Kraft at the time, and I got to look at their budget and see where they could allocate funds.”

Two other big projects Elenakis worked on were with Kellogs and Nintendo. With Kellogs, he worked in the product development department. At the time, the company was trying to position itself in the world of breakfast cereal.

After doing some research, they realized people were no longer sitting down to eat a bowl of cereal in the morning, so they developed on-the-go cereal bars.

“Foods like bagels and muffins were increasing in sales, so we had to figure out how to make our product on-the-go,” Elenakis said. “That’s when we took our Special K cereal and put it into a bar format.”

With Nintendo, Elenakis was originally in charge of their games division and licenses. Before moving on from the company, Elenakis got to partake in the launch of the Nintendo 64 in 1996, a console people still play to this day.

He explained that the biggest challenge in launching the Nintendo 64 was the supply coming out of Japan. Nintendo considered Japan and the United States to be their two biggest markets, while Canada was their third-largest. This meant Elenakis and his colleagues needed to find a way to generate demand, but not too much, because there wouldn’t be enough supply to appease increased demand.

“At that point, Nintendo was the primary sponsor of the Much Music Video Awards, so we paired up with them and launched a promotional campaign,” Elenakis said. This generated the perfect amount of excitement, and the launch of the console went as planned.

Now, Elenakis focuses his attention on small to medium-sized businesses as a media consultant. These companies are typically looking for advice on how their brands should grow and what their message should be when advertising products.

As Elenakis explained, the big difference between working with large companies and small ones is budget restrictions. However, bigger budgets don’t always make the job easier.

“Bigger budgets mean you can do a lot more, but it also means the approval process takes a lot longer,” Elenakis explained. “With small companies, you have to be more resourceful, but things get done quicker because you’re dealing with the owner or president directly.”

While talking about what makes a successful marketing campaign, Elenakis explained that strong insights into a product and how it relates to the consumer’s needs and desires is a recipe for success. Elenakis cited “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign by Dos Equis as an example.

“That campaign functioned on a very simple insight,” he explained. “When guys go out to the bar, they want to seem interesting, otherwise the girl won’t talk to them.”

For Elenakis, the ad worked off a simple premise, but successfully communicated to their target demographic. This is what makes a marketing campaign work.

Elenakis helps coach JMSB students for case competitions. Photo courtesy of Peter Elenakis

In addition to teaching and working with small businesses on the side, Elenakis is also involved with JMSB case competitions as a coach. These case competitions involve a group of business students who are given a situation, whether it’s about finance, marketing or administration, and they must come up with a solution. They then present their idea to a large group where they are judged against other schools.

In these competitions, the teams have about five hours to put together their 20-minute presentation. According to Elenakis, these case competitions are a great way for students to get practical experience.

“It teaches them how to solve a problem, come up with a creative solution, put together a presentation and then present it in front of the judges,” Elenakis said. “It’s a great skill set that they end up learning.”

As a part-time professor, one of the challenges he faces that full-time teachers don’t, is that he’s not always sure if he will be given a class to teach each semester. As he explained, there is no consistency, so it’s harder for him to make a schedule and plan around the courses he teaches. For instance, last fall semester, Elenakis wasn’t given a class.

Despite this hardship, Elenakis has never had a hard time getting what he wants or needs for a class.

“Anytime I ask people for stuff, I get it. There hasn’t been any hesitation, so I’d say it’s been pretty good,” he said.

While he didn’t get to teach this past semester, Elenakis enjoys his job as a professor and watching students grow and learn. As the years have gone on, he has seen students make the jump from the classroom to the professional world.

“One of the great things about teaching is seeing your students progress and going where they want to go,” Elenakis said. “I’ve seen students who wanted to get into advertising and investment and got into it and are now successful. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing that.”

Feature photo by Alexander Cole

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Sports

Stingers moving on without their head coach

Players reflect on Mickey Donovan as he moves onto Alouettes as special teams coordinator

After serving as the Concordia Stingers head coach for four seasons, Mickey Donovan is leaving the team to join the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a special teams coordinator.

The 37-year-old coach joined the Stingers coaching staff in 2014 alongside his brother, Patrick, who is the team’s assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. In four seasons, Donovan coached the team to a 16-15 record.

Second-year linebacker and captain Samuel Brodrique, said Donovan was a large part of the team’s success over the past few years. He isn’t surprised Donovan’s making the jump to professional football.

“I talked a lot with coach Mickey and it felt like, when it came to his career, he really wanted to push it to the next level,” Brodrique said. “When I heard about where he was going, I was happy for him and I think, for him, it’s the right decision.”

Jean-Guy Rimpel, a third-year running back with the team, said Donovan’s presence in the locker room will be missed, as he was not just a leader but a motivator as well.

“We fed off his energy every game,” Rimpel said. “He’s really appreciated by the team, but we’re also happy that he has been promoted and in the CFL now.”

Brodrique, who was recruited by Donovan in 2016, echoed Rimpel’s sentiments, saying that Donovan is a coach who knows how to get the most out of his team.

Wide receivers Jarryd Taylor (left) and Vince Alessandrini (right) were both recruited by Mickey Donovan. Photo by Alex Hutchins.

“He talks well, so every time he gave a speech it was a good one,” Brodrique said. “He’s intense so the team was able to channel his intensity when it came time to play.”

Brodrique added that, while Donovan helped the team on the field, he was also the type of coach to take an interest in his players off the field.

“He wanted all of his players to do well in life, and he was the type of guy who would tell us that not everything was about football,” Brodrique said. “He cared about how you did in school and just all aspects of life.”

Patrick Donovan will be taking over as interim head coach of the Stingers while the team looks for a permanent replacement. While both Brodrique and Rimpel realize that a head coaching change will be a big adjustment for the team, they both noted that the team is filled with veterans.

“We’re a pretty mature team filled with third and fourth-year players,” Rimpel said. “If we were a bunch of rookies, it would be different, but everyone is focused on doing their work so we should be good.”

“Everything that is new is exciting,” Brodrique added. “We really like coach Pat because he’s like his brother, so it won’t be too much of a change. Everybody is excited for coach Mickey […] There are no hard feelings, we’re just happy for him.”

Main photo by Alex Hutchins

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Music Quickspins

88 Glam – 88 Glam

88 Glam – 88 Glam (2017, XO)

After recently signing to The Weeknd’s XO label, 88 Glam, a rap duo comprising Toronto artists 88 Camino and Derek Wise, released their debut project. The album is a buttery smooth mix of rap and R&B that sees Wise do the heavy lifting in terms of rap, while 88 Camino brings in the more melodic verses. The album’s breakout single, “Bali,” featuring fellow XO artist NAV, is a great party song which has a catchy-as-hell hook from 88 Camino and some pretty standout verses from Wise and NAV. However, while the album is smooth and has no real faults, none of these songs really stand out. “Ricardo” and “12,” the first two tracks on the album, reel you in. After “Bali,” the project sort of falls flat, leaving you wanting more. The dark and gloomy trap production does nothing to support Camino and Wise’s flows, making the album a little boring.

Score: 5/10

Trial Track: “Bali” ft. NAV

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Music Quickspins

Jaden Smith – Syre

Jaden Smith – Syre (2017, Roc Nation/MSFTS Music)

Social media icon and child of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Jaden Smith, released an album—and oh my God, sound the alarms, it’s actually good. The album’s epic opening, “B,” comes in with beautiful vocals sung by Princess Pia Mia, which then transition into hard-hitting vocals sung by Smith. The album is a mixed bag of trap, rock and jazzy, progressive instrumentals that appeal to every musical palette. Even Smith himself is impressive, riding each beat to perfection and delivering thought-provoking and introspective lyrics. Smith’s past antics on social media and in the public eye might turn you away from this project, but don’t let them. Syre is surprisingly one of the best rap albums released this year and shatters every expectation. While the album’s second half lacks in hard-hitting tracks compared to the first, Syre is a satisfying listen with plenty of style for everyone to enjoy.

Score: 8.5/10

Trial Track: “Batman”

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Music

Changing your opinion about an album

How reviewing albums can make you jaded towards music you actually like

When discussing our music tastes, the phrase “art is subjective” tends to come up a lot. I mean, why shouldn’t it? We all like what we like, and there is really nothing we can do to change that except open our minds to new types of art and let our tastes evolve.

Although art is subjective, when it comes to reviewing music, there is pressure to critique it from an objective perspective and explain why a piece is good or bad. However, your opinion of a song, album or artist will always differ from someone else’s. The sky is blue is an objective fact. Metallica being the best metal band of the 80s is not a fact, it’s just my opinion.

This idea of being objective brings me to how the pressure to “get it right” when reviewing albums has made me overly critical of songs and artists I actually enjoy. I realized this about myself while listening to Lil Uzi Vert’s album Luv Is Rage 2. I initially gave the album a 4/10 rating in a review I wrote for The Concordian.

At the time, I was stuck in the mindset of trying to use objective criteria to review albums. I would look at lyrical complexity, diversity of tracks and other factors that, for the most part, are actually subjective. Sure, some albums have more production value and took more time to create, but that doesn’t mean one is more enjoyable than the other—that really comes down to taste.

For example, I compared Lil Uzi Vert to Kendrick Lamar. These two artists operate in the same genre, but with completely different styles that can’t be compared. Yet, when I reviewed Luv Is Rage 2, I rated it in comparison to Lamar’s DAMN, an album I would easily give a 9/10. This method of reviewing is not only misguided, but can lead you to develop a bad first impression of an album.

As mentioned above, I recently revisited Luv Is Rage 2 because of a song Lil Uzi Vert did with The Weeknd called “Unfazed,” which I stumbled upon on YouTube. With my review of the album long gone from my memory, I thoroughly enjoyed the song and went back to the album. As I went through each track, it was as if I was listening to the album for the first time. Instead of trying to dissect it, I came away with a whole new opinion on the album. To be honest, it might be one of my top-five albums of the year.

In the last month or so, I have been making a more conscious effort to critique music on a subjective basis, something I should have been doing from the beginning. Ultimately, it has led me to enjoy more albums because I am less likely to make unwarranted criticisms. Not to mention there are a plethora of other albums I have changed my mind about.

One such example is this summer’s collaborative mixtape between Toronto producer-artist NAV and Metro Boomin’. Although I never wrote a formal review for the album, I remember hating it initially because I was looking at it as an album that just came out after DAMN. This ultimately made me critique the lyrics hardly and not appreciate it for what it was. Listening to it now, however, I like it a lot and have realized the album has a ton of content I relate to.

If it weren’t for giving the album a second chance and ridding myself of the pressure to look at music critically, I would have missed out on one of my favourite projects of the year.

The same thing can be said about DAMN, oddly enough. I loved the album when it came out. However, I was also looking at it from a critical perspective. I was trying to rate it based on criteria about what makes a “rap” album great, rather than determining whether or not I enjoyed it. While I did enjoy DAMN. and still think it’s a great piece of art, I just don’t like it as much as other albums. It’s almost as if I forced myself to give the album a good score because Lamar is such a respected artist.

I guess what I am trying to say is that, when critiquing a piece of music, just go with your gut and how it makes you feel. Don’t judge it based on some “good album” criteria that doesn’t exist. It’s cliché, but art really is subjective and, if you keep looking for objective reasons to like or dislike something, you’re taking away from your enjoyment of that art.

At the end of the day, it’s important not to be ashamed of your tastes. As listeners with individual preferences, we shouldn’t give in to the pressure of liking or disliking something just because critics do.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

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