Music Quickspins


The ASTROWORLD follow-up is filled with psychedelic hip-hop that is ambitious, eclectic, and exciting.

UTOPIA’s opener “HYAENA” begins with a robotic vocal sample that is both inviting and confusing. What follows is Travis Scott dominating over a knocking drum break and an addictive harpsichord loop, making for a song that is frantic yet exciting. The track is unlike most of Scott’s existing catalogue, and even sticks out from what follows on the album.

UTOPIA stands out due to its unique instrumental palette, one that spans different subgenres, sounds, and moods. You can find standard hip-hop/trap production on cuts like “MELTDOWN,” “I KNOW ?,” and “TOPIA TWINS.” “SIRENS” contains triumphant drums reminiscent of Brazilian funk, while “DELRESTO (ECHOES),” “LOOOVE,” and “K-POP” are danceable tracks influenced by house music, dancehall, and Afrobeats. 

The production on the album also features synth passages (courtesy of Mike Dean), beat switches, and melodic intricacies that elevate the tracks and allow them to evolve as they progress. Key examples are the beat switch-up on “THANK GOD” and the glimmering synths after the hook on “FE!N.” 

Kanye West’s influence is another instrumental force behind the album’s sound. Scott’s flows on “MODERN JAM” are reminiscent of Yeezus cuts “On Sight” and “I Am a God,” whereas the instrumental and delivery on “CIRCUS MAXIMUS” are similar to “Black Skinhead.” Meanwhile, “THANK GOD,” “GOD’S COUNTRY,” and “TELEKINESIS” are finished versions of demos recorded during the 2020-21 sessions for Ye’s Donda album. 

UTOPIA also features noteworthy tracks characterized by an ambient and mellow sound like “TELEKINESIS” and “MY EYES.”. The latter is a standout that begins with a slow, lullaby-like tune before accelerating into a starry trap beat so ethereal it could be the Rainbow Road theme. The track also showcases Scott’s ability to give captivating performances, as he croons softly in the first half and raps with a nonstop, speedy delivery for over a minute once the beat switches. 

For most of his rapping on the album, Scott finds pockets within the instrumentals that complement the beats and sticks to them, resulting in verses and hooks that are engaging and easy to follow. “I KNOW ?” and “TOPIA TWINS” are a back-to-back offering of catchy, earworm choruses—some of the record’s best.

Much like its predecessors, UTOPIA has a hefty list of features. Standouts include Playboi Carti debuting a new deep voice on “FE!N,” Teezo Touchdown’s bold and eccentric belting on “MODERN JAM,” and SZA’s angelic entrance onto the already heavenly “TELEKINESIS.” 

Travis Scott has brought on everyone from A-listers to newcomers and underground legends, including the likes of Drake, Beyoncé, The Weeknd, 21 Savage, Bad Bunny, Future, Westside Gunn, Rob49, Yung Lean, and more into one lineup. With all the features hidden before release, the first listen comes as a pleasant surprise. 

With UTOPIA, Travis Scott defies the expectations of what this ideal reality can be, delivering an album filled with dark, varied production, stylistic switch-ups, and high-profile surprise guests hiding around every corner. It is fitting that the outro “TILL FURTHER NOTICE” is a perfect marriage of these elements: verses from Travis Scott and 21 Savage, a dark Metro Boomin beat, and a haunting James Blake feature creating a beautifully eerie, atmospheric, and star-studded track.

Trial Track: “MY EYES”

Score: 8/10

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: The Great Escape – Larry June & The Alchemist

Veteran producer The Alchemist teams up with friend Larry June to bless our ears in time for Easter.

American record producer, DJ, rapper and songwriter The Alchemist released his latest collaboration album on March 31, this time with San Francisco rapper and affiliate Larry June. It was only a matter of time before the release of this project, since The Alchemist has been on a collab album streak. 

The legendary producer dropped The Elephant Man’s Bones in August 2022 with Roc Marciano, as well as Continuance with Curren$y in February of the same year, the latter of which features rapper Larry June. 

Curren$y also appears on The Great Escape, teaming up with Joey Bada$$ to feature on the penultimate song “Barragán Lighting” — a personal favourite on the 15-track project.

The Great Escape is already in the top five of the year for me. Some people may say that Larry June has a lazy monotone flow and lacklustre pen game. Real ones, including myself, know that his voice, bars and flow are perfectly homogeneous with the smooth soul loops that The Alchemist concocted. 

The album paints a perfect picture of what Larry June is doing after his success. It’s exactly what is displayed on the album cover: driving around California’s bay area in a classy expensive car. It feels like a victory lap around the hills in a Porsche 911, and The Alchemist is piecing everything together in the passenger seat.

The Alchemist’s curation for lyrical talent is always outstanding, grabbing artists that are forever slept on like Boldy James, Jay Worthy, and Curren$y. It always makes my week whenever I see Action Bronson create anything, especially when he teams up with The Alchemist, and this time it’s for his feature on “Solid Plan”, and it’s as if his best bud made the beat for him. The strange ’80s synth had the loop sounding like it could be found on a hypothetical deluxe version of Blue Chips 7000

This kicks off a three-banger streak. The following song, “Palisades, CA” is just gross, easily the best song on the record. It keeps the same uniform vibe of the album, feeling bright yet mysterious and dangerous. Big Sean, who I usually find corny and think of as someone who does too much, absolutely popped off. The Detroit rapper uses a crazy triplet flow while talking about his new luscious long hair and how he tells the truth “like a polygraph in a booth.” A true masterpiece. 

The third elite song in the streak, “Summer Reign,” makes me want to reminisce on the beach with the wind in my hair, maybe with a tear rolling down my cheek. And it’s all because of the wawa-guitar loop paired with the God-given voice of Ty Dolla $ign.

All in all, there is not one skip on this album. No song is lower than a 7.5/10. That being said, The Alchemist will forever be on the hip-hop producer Mount Rushmore, and this album definitely deserves a listen.

Trial Track: “Palisades, CA”

Score: 8.5/10

Concert Reviews Music

Concert Review: MIKE at Bar Le Ritz PDB

Underground hip hop champion MIKE played for his first Montreal audience at Bar Le Ritz on March 10, accompanied by Florida-based rappers 454 and Niontay

The crowd was small but dedicated outside of Parc Extension’s Bar Le Ritz PDB, where MIKE made his Montreal debut. Illuminated by the chandelier store opposite from the bar, the line slowly trickled through the door where they were met with a relatively small venue. 

With no DJ, Niontay was the first to play on stage. Hailing from Orlando, Florida, he’s been putting out singles for a few years and his first project, Dontay’s Inferno, releases April 7. His set sounded like The Black Eyed Peas mixed with 

Even though the crowd didn’t know him, that hardly stopped them from enjoying his performance. They quickly took his cues for when to shout and by the end there was enough energy to make him say his Montreal performance was more fun that his most recent show in Boston. 

454 was up next, and since he was born in Florida but lives in New York he acted as a sort of bridge between Niontay and MIKE. He’s been putting out projects since 2021 and it was clear that most of the people there had already heard of him, which makes sense considering his presence on Denzel Curry’s latest album. 

His music had some similarities to Niontay’s, but with more of a trap/drill influence, including gliding 808s and plug-esque video game sounds. His set was more energetic than the first, prompting even a few short mosh pits during the most well-known songs. He did a good job getting the audience warmed up and for a decent amount of MIKE’s set, he was dancing in the audience.

The venue had been crowded from the jump, but at this point it was fully packed and the sweat was pouring. Thankfully MIKE took the stage after a short wait, and after giving some daps to the front row he jumped into a set that was energetic, intimate, and memorable. The highlight was definitely when someone tossed a bag of weed on stage and he stopped the show. “Y’all are gonna see my first ever live zaza review,” he said, before performing his song “Aww (ZaZa).” This prompted a large portion of the crowd to light joints, adding a thick layer of smoke to the room. After trying a few spliffs from the audience, he announced a winner. 

Another highlight was when he acknowledged his mother as the source of his creativity, and a resounding applause was dedicated to her. Near the end of his set, his backing track started skipping, but because of the chopped up samples he typically uses and how rhythmic the skips were, it just sounded like alternate or remixed versions of the songs. 

Unsurprisingly, most of the set was dedicated to his newest album, Beware of the Monkey. This is his 10th studio album in just six years, and it strays more melodic and poppy than his previous efforts. That’s not to say it’s a completely new sound; the reverb-laden sample loops are still there, but now they feel more grounded, even simplified a bit. The result is an album that’s more accessible to a general audience, but also doesn’t alienate the people he already won over. 

Overall, he put on a great show which was only boosted by the small size of the venue. His energy was potent but concentrated, influencing a smaller number of people more deeply. If it had been a larger space, it might have felt more watered down, like it was favouring the quantity of people over the quality of the experience.

Concert Reviews Music

Concert Review: JID X Smino at MTELUS

JID and Smino both showcased why they’re on the map

It was in the packed MTELUS venue that hip hop enthusiasts gathered to witness two of the most promising figures of the “alternative rap” scene: JID and Smino. Both had released acclaimed albums in 2022 and it was only right for them to collaborate on a North American tour.

Before hitting the stage, they sent another hot name coming from that scene to warm up the crowd: St. Louis rapper Jordan Ward. He only played for 20 minutes, but he didn’t waste a single second and made the most out of it while hyping the crowd, singing and dancing. He definitely left a mark on Montrealers and brought an energy that matched JID’s and Smino’s.

Smino was next up, and surprisingly played with a band instead of a DJ, which isn’t something you see often at rap concerts. Smino gave a great performance, but unfortunately for him, had some things going against him. 

First, the sound was pretty bad, not only for Smino, but throughout the entire concert. The bass and drums were so loud that it was difficult to distinguish the different instrumentals and melodies. All you could hear was Smino rapping over loud bass and the drummer.

Second, even though it was a joint tour between Smino and JID, people were clearly there for the latter. Because of that, a lot of them weren’t familiar with the lyrics to Smino’s songs and weren’t as invested in his performance compared to JID’s set. Even though Smino brought the energy and was singing and rapping well, the crowd wasn’t reciprocating what he was showing them. I’ve been following Smino closely since 2018 and I even had problems recognizing the songs. 

He still delivered an hour-long set where he alternated between some of his most popular songs, with tracks from his latest record Luv 4 Rent.

Now time for JID. He was undoubtedly the star of the show. The singing was great, but the rapping was even better. He started off with the song that put him on the map: “NEVER,” and people were immediately hooked.. He then followed with a long run of songs from his 2022 album The Forever Story

JID was incredibly impressive to watch. During shows, most rappers need backtracks to perform and rap over them, but not JID. He was rapping almost every single word and rarely taking breaks. He is well known for having some of the most intricate and unique flows in the rap game, and to see him execute them to perfection during his performance was phenomenal. Songs like “Off Deez,” “151 Rum,” and “Raydar” really showcased JID’s rapping talent. 

He finished his set with fan favourites from his other records, and ended with the high-energy “Stick,” resulting in the crowd forming a massive mosh pit. While his set lasted an hour, I could have easily stayed for an hour more. He was that good.

Overall, despite some issues, JID and Smino still came together and more than satisfied the rap fans who were present. It was a fun night overall.


 Hip-hop: a genre of music or society’s scapegoat for gun violence?

Another rapper has been killed in the United States as a result of the gun violence epidemic

On Nov. 1, American rapper Takeoff from the hip-hop group Migos was shot and killed in Houston, Texas. The 28-year-old rapper was outside of 810 Billiards and Bowling Houston when an argument broke out that led to the shooting. 

The news of Takeoff’s death spread rapidly and left many in disbelief because it seemed that he died over nothing. There were no drugs, weapons, or anything criminal found on him, which left many wondering why this happened.

It seems that every year, at least one rapper gets shot and killed and then their death eventually becomes another statistic.

Sadly, Takeoff was the latest victim in this ongoing crisis. 

According to a summary of the statistics by CNN, in 2018, XXXTentacion was robbed and gunned down in Florida. In 2019, Nipsey Hussle was shot over 10 times while helping out his community in Los Angeles. In 2020, Pop Smoke was shot during a home invasion in California. King Von was also shot and killed in 2020 during a dispute in a parking lot outside of a hookah lounge. Lastly, in 2021, Young Dolph was fatally shot while buying cookies in Memphis.

However, not everyone feels pity for these rappers. There is crime committed in all communities but when it comes to this genre of music, it’s reported differently towards the public. 

Ben Shapiro is a US political commentator known for his controversial opinions. In 2019, he interviewed a rapper named Zuby and discussed how hip-hop negatively impacts people. “From the outside, when I listen to hip-hop, I don’t hear a bunch of family-oriented messages. In fact, I hear a lot of messages that are degrading to women, I hear messages that push violence, that are disparaging to the police.” 

It seems as though people who blame hip-hop for the violence in Black communities can’t separate fiction from fact. 

Hip-hop and rapping is a form of storytelling and rappers are often talking about their own life experiences and problems, with some exaggeration to make it entertaining.   

Shéyaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, also known as 21 Savage, is a famous rapper who’s respected in the culture. On his 21st birthday, he was shot six times but survived to tell the story. This year in August, he sent out a tweet that was faced with instant backlash. “Atlanta we have to do better, put the f****** guns down!!!!!” the tweet read. 

21 Savage was called a hypocrite because his lyrics depict him shooting, killing and robbing people. He responded back and informed the public about how his music is a narration of his life. “I ain’t never promoted violence. I just rap about what I’ve been through, or what I’ve heard about, what I’ve saw. That ain’t me promoting violence,” the rapper said on Instagram. 

While there are many who advocate against gun violence, the number of rappers who have been killed this year only seems to be growing. 

In 2022, Trouble, Snootie Wild, Tdott Woo, Wavy Navy Pooh, Goonew, Lil Devin, Archie Eversole, JayDaYoungan, FBG Cash, Rollie Bands, Young Slo-Be, Earl Swavey, Money Gang Vontae, PnB Rock, Desto and now Takeoff all are dead due to gun violence. 

Although these rappers were senselessly shot dead, it seems as though because of who they were, how they looked and the fact that they rapped, they were expected to die. In reality, there is a gun control problem in the United States which is constantly left unaddressed when someone passes away in the hip-hop community.

Graphic by James Fay @jamesfaydraws

Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Drake and 21 Savage – Her Loss

 Despite being a collaborative album, this most certainly did not feel like one

After only five months since his more house-oriented project Honestly, Nevermind, Drake is back for more with Her Loss. On this new one, Drizzy is teaming up with Atlanta rapper 21 Savage for their new collaborative effort. 

After seeing massive success with previous cooperations in the past, such as “Knife Talk,” and Jimmy Cooks,” both becoming some of Drake’s biggest hits of the 2020s, it was only natural for the two MCs to unite for a whole album as they are now used to creating fireworks together.

To classify Her Loss as a joint effort between Drake and 21 Savage would feel like a crime, as it feels very much more like a Drake album featuring his sidekick 21 Savage than an equal partnership between the two. In fact, Drake accounts for 66 per cent of all words said on the record, while 21 Savage raps 26 per cent of them. The other 8 per cent is from guest appearances, such as Travis Scott on the excellent “Pussy & Millions.” Drake also has four songs alone on the album compared to 21 Savage, who only has one.

Despite not being labelled properly, this is definitely an improvement on Drake’s last two records. He sounds way more cutthroat than he usually does and even though 21 Savage isn’t on the album as much as I would have wanted, he’s still helping Drake bring out his more aggressive side with the help of some more ominous trap beat selection. Drake even goes in with some reckless disses, calling out Megan Thee Stallion, Soulja Boy, and Serena Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian.

Her Loss contains a lot of fun moments, and you can definitely feel their chemistry. Songs such as the opener “Rich Flex” with its various beat switches, the ruthless “On BS,” and “Broke Boys” with its phenomenal second half are all infectious yet very hard-hitting. 

Regardless, it does have some misses, like the way-too-long “Hours In Silence,” the uneventful “Spin Bout U,” and the forgettable “Jumbotron Shit Poppin.” Oh, and don’t get me started on “Circo Loco,” which is another instance of an older hit being sampled to gain more traction. This time, it’s “One More Time” by Daft Punk that is victim of this awful trend.

Drake also has a couple of corny one-liners, like on the closer “I Guess It’s Fuck Me,” where he says “If bein’ real was a crime, I’d be doin’ life,” like come on man. But honestly, he might be one of the only artists that can get away with saying things like that. He makes up for it with “Middle of the Ocean,” which is another classic laid-back Drake cut that sees him get in his bag over a beautiful instrumental.

Yes it’s not perfect, and yes it’s a shame that 21 Savage isn’t on the album as much, but overall, Her Loss is one of the more fun Drake records to have come out in a hot minute.

Trial track: Middle of the Ocean



“The class of life”: Concordia’s new Kanye West course

The university is offering a first-of-its-kind course examining the life and work of Kanye West

Concordia has never had a shortage of unconventional classes: Video Games and/as Literature, Science Fiction, The Movie Soundtrack, and Sexual Representation in Cinema are all examples of unique courses available to Concordia students that aim to put an academic lens to the world of art and pop culture. Concordia is hardly the first or only university to host classes such as these — the University of Victoria at one point offered The Science of Batman and The Created Medieval History of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth — but one of Concordia’s newest courses may truly be the first of its kind.

Kanye vs. Ye: Genius by Design will be offered at Concordia in the fall of 2022, in the faculty of interdisciplinary studies in fine arts. The course was designed and will likely be taught by Yassin “Narcy” Alsalman, a rapper himself, who has long taught courses centered around hip hop at Concordia such as Hip Hop: Beats, Rhymes and Life.

This is not the first time that Alsalman has centered a course around one particular artist, having taught classes on Lauryn Hill and A Tribe Called Quest in the past.

“I’ve always taught my hip hop courses using artists or albums as a central theme and seeing how much influence Ye had on so many of my students throughout the years — I felt this could be a compelling, interesting examination of one of the greatest artists of our generation,” said Alsalman.

Classes like this are Aslaman’s way of giving back to a culture that shaped who he is today.

“Hip hop is the most important culture of our generation. It requires to be studied and understood and respected. This is my way of giving back to a culture that birthed my entire way of being and sustenance,” said Alsaman.

The course will centre around much grander themes than just West’s own music and personal online hijinks.

“America and race, industry vs. artists, truth and consequence, media representation of the intellectual,” said Alsalman when asked about the course’s themes.

With a figure as controversial as West, the course is likely to elicit a multitude of reactions. This is something that Dr. Eldad Tsabary, the coordinator for Concordia’s electroacoustics department and unit head for the faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies in Fine Arts, is well aware of.

“As an academic course, I’m sure it’s going to be difficult sometimes and I’m sure it’s going to be emotional sometimes. But I think that’s also part of what Fine Arts is good at. You know, I like to study science. Arts is a really good vessel for exploring and studying topics that do have a multi-layered kind of nature to them,” said Tsabary, who played a role in approving the course to be taught at Concordia.

West is both loved and loathed by many, but Tsabary and Alsalman have both made it clear that this course is not about singing his praises, or tabloid drama.

“You can study any topic of interest from the point of view of curiosity and discussion, right? And there’s a lot to discuss. You know, it’s not about putting Kanye on a pedestal,” said Tsabary.

While he is a fan of West’s work, Alsalman is also aware of his problematic nature. However, he has said it is not something that worries him when teaching this course.

“I don’t listen to the noise. As a cultural practitioner and professor, I have to look at things in totality and not do the internet skip rope around narrative. I am also well aware of American media manipulation. That being said, there has always been problematic public moments with Ye and we will talk about those in a critical lens, as opposed to taking sides or blaming. I want to see why, not what,” said Alsalman.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done around hip hop culture and representation of Black and Brown communities in our schools and I want to chip away at that at Concordia and help build the presence more and more through my work.”

Ava Weinstein-Wright is a third-year student at Concordia in Honours Sociology and Anthropology, who is signed up and is excited to take the course this fall.

“I think that music or TV shows or just even clothing and fashion can be a great gateway into further analysis such as political analysis, gender analysis, class analysis, like it’s really important.”

Even though she is excited to take the course, Weinstein-Wright has some concerns about it.

“My concern with this course is that people aren’t going to take it seriously considering the height and clout that it’s gotten considering it’s reached national news.”

The university has received a lot of media attention with magazines like Complex talking about the course – something that its future professor predicted, although not this early. “I thought this would happen while I was teaching but this was a pleasant boost and surprise,” said Alsalman.

When asked why students should take this course, Alsalman had one simple response, in a written statement to The Concordian.

“Because it’s the class of life (Kanye voice).”

Graphic by Lily Cowper


Kanye West and the mental illness of the rich and famous

How should we support someone struggling as the world’s watching


Over the past two weeks, Ye’s (born Kanye West) activity on social media — particularly the direct and indirect intimidation of his ex-wife Kim Kardashian and her new boyfriend Pete Davidson, which has culminated in Ye kidnapping and assaulting a caricature reminiscent of Davidsons in his latest Eazy music video  — has garnered a tremendous amount of attention from the public and the media alike.

While public discourse on the situation has fixated on Ye’s manipulative behaviour towards Kim Kardashian, the lack of coverage surrounding Kanye’s mental state during this period neglects a key aspect in understanding the situation.

In no way, shape or form do I condone Ye’s behaviour towards the Kardashians or Davidson, which is real harassment, but whatever the motivations and intentions are behind his actions are independent of the fact that clearly Ye’s mental health is deteriorating at an alarming rate.

I want to clarify that I have no academic or professional qualifications in psychology, and that this article should not be interpreted as a professional diagnosis.

Ye’s actions are eerily similar to the actions of those close to me that have had similar mental health problems. His use of cropped photographs, entirely capitalized text, and the lack of consistent timing between his posts are all things I have witnessed my loved ones do in similar situations.

The only difference is that Ye is one of, if not the, most public examples of an artist struggling with mental health issues.

It often goes without question that those who thrust themselves into the public eye do so at the mercy of the public — a public eager to strip you from privacy. But in any parasocial relationship, the extent to which we as the public feel entitled to private information and the ethical responsibility that comes with our access to Ye’s psyche has yet to be defined.

The fact that Ye has shared these details of his own volition complicates the issue, but this only shifts the ethical responsibility onto our individual and collective response. Ye has decided to make this situation public, but we have decided to make it a spectacle.

I noticed scrolling through Ye’s Instagram feed that the same people are commenting the same things on every new post. “Amen pastor Ye,” “Ye helping people more than the president. Ye 2024,” “Ye the GOAT no CAP!” Beyond these consistent “Kanye stans,” most commenters have been far less empathetic to Ye. The one sentiment that these Ye stans and Ye haters share is the lack of concern for Ye himself.

Maybe the Ye memes and “shit-posts” are reflective of the larger sentiment that those in positions of privilege and wealth are less deserving of our collective empathy. But if anything, Ye’s sporadic behaviour reveals that no amount of money can provide a substitute for a healthy support system.

On Thursday, Feb. 17, Ye posted a clip to his Instagram from a 2018 episode of Saturday Night Live, in which Davidson made the assertion addressed to Ye that “Being mentally ill is not an excuse to act like a jackass.” Responding to the controversy, Ye claimed that his latest actions on social media activity was payback for Davidson’s comment.

While I agree with Davidson’s sentiment to a degree, it begs several important questions: is support for someone struggling with mental illness contingent upon their perceived moral integrity? Does the movement to end the stigmatisation of mental illness apply to all, or to the select few deemed worthy?

I’m surprised that the videos of paparazzi provoking Ye to violence in the early 2010’s haven’t been re-examined in our current social climate, especially with the knowledge of his previously undiagnosed mental illness. Even today, headlines like “Kanye Off His Meds and Off His Rocker On Instagram” which are being published in the same era of the “Free Britney” movement, receive mainstream recognition.

It involves a tremendous amount of cognitive dissonance not to connect the two.  Both musicians’ struggles with their mental illness have been exacerbated by media coverage, but where Spears has received a sort of moral reckoning, Ye’s struggles are still seen as appropriate topics of gossip and scandal.

In hindsight, how much can the public’s perception of Ye as a primadonna figure be discerned from misconceptions and prejudices surrounding mental illness?


Visuals by James Fay


Concert Review: Tyler, The Creator: Call Me If You Get Lost tour, Place Bell, Laval

Tyler, The Creator performing at Place Bell in Montreal last week. GUILLAUME LABERGE

Tyler, The Creator lit up the Place Bell on Wednesday

After Montreal have been deprived of large arena concerts for the better half of three years, Tyler, The Creator and friends made up for lost time with an electrifying performance at Place Bell on March 9 for the Call Me If You Get Lost tour. Fresh off the release of his massively successful 2021 record of the same name, it was only right for Tyler to go around the world to perform his beloved hits.

Before seeing Tyler play his set, fans were lucky enough to have three opening acts, courtesy of Teezo Touchdown, Vince Staples, and Kali Uchis. As the first of four acts, Teezo really set the bar high for the performing artists to come with an energetic and highly interactive performance centered around a construction theme decor. Following him was Vince Staples, who despite having a catalogue to deliver an interesting performance, had next to no stage presence. While the songs themselves made up for the lackluster performance, he was still the least interesting act of the concert. Last opening act but not least Kali Uchis was magnificent. She gave a sensual rendition of her material that saw her go back and forth between her biggest hits and her most recent Spanish cuts, all of which were executed graciously in both languages.

Now up to the showstopper. The stage was set to fit the luxurious vibe of Call Me If You Get Lost, fitted with a manor and balcony, a teal Rolls-Royce and even a boat which was fixed to the floor. Tyler was using the props in really interesting ways, navigating to the other smaller stage with the various means of transportation. The Californian rapper began his set with a couple of tracks from Call Me If You Get Lost like “SIR BEAUDELAIRE,” “CORSO” and “LEMONHEAD.” He followed by touching every studio album in his discography, performing at least one song from each of them, delivering some of the strongest material from his 15 year career.

A thing that makes Tyler stand out from others is his flashy personality. It is a well known fact at this point that he is one of the funniest rappers in the industry. Whether he is cracking jokes, interacting with his fans, or even getting booed at, which is something he likes, he always manages to be entertaining even when he isn’t performing. His stage presence is on another level and his good energy and solid dance moves play a significant role in why this man is such a captivating individual.

Tyler kept fans engaged from start to finish and the crowd’s passion and ardor were at peak form. It was definitely special to see live music again and Tyler was the perfect candidate to remind us how great concerts are. 

Photo by Guillaume Laberge


Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show: Dr. Dre’s family reunion on home ground was a spectacular one

 This star-studded halftime show was one for the ages

Whether you are a football fan or not, Super Bowl Sunday is always a night you circle in your calendar. Some might use this yearly event as an occasion to appreciate one of the most-watched sporting events of the year, others use it as an excuse to gather round with friends and family to drink cold brews and eat an unreasonable amount of chicken wings. One thing is for sure though, everyone enjoys the halftime show. From 15 to 20 minutes packed with performances from legendary artists to the likes of Prince, Beyonce and Paul McCartney creates one of the most talked about music events of the year — propelling superstars into legendary status. 

The LVI Super Bowl made no exceptions by spoiling hip hop fans with the invitation of Dr. Dre and friends to headline this year’s show. And by friends, I mean four of the greatest MCs the legendary producer has ever worked with: Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and Mary J. Blige.

With the Super Bowl taking place in the Golden State, it was only natural to name the Compton native Dre as a headliner. The show started off with Dre and Snoop appearing on top of small white houses, to perform their hit “The Next Episode,” followed by 2Pac’s “California Love,” where Snoop rapped the late East Coast rapper’s verse. Following another track from the two, both Blige and Lamar performed two songs of their own while Eminem jumped on the chorus of “Forget about Dre” before performing his own “Lose Yourself.” An upside-down 50 Cent made a surprise appearance on the set to rap his hit song “In Da Club.”

While far from being the most visually stunning or creative halftime show, the music more than made up for it with hit after hit being played. This concert saw six of the most influential hip hop artists of the millennial generation, one being arguably the greatest rapper of the 2010s perform their best work. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg without a doubt stole the show, showcasing that Cali connection and looking like the coolest fifty-somethings out there. Lamar’s theatrical performance was also a highlight, with the Compton artist performing what might be his most important song “Alright” — especially during Black History Month. And while I could have gone without Mary J. Blige’s or Eminem’s performances to let the three West Coast rappers sing more songs, I get their inclusion to this lineup and they still did their thing.

All and all, this year’s halftime show was a memorable one and Dr. Dre orchestrated what might be the best hip hop-focused Super Bowl halftime show of all time.




Hip hop and pop culture: What is pushing “🅿️ ”?

Some things won’t ever change. Like how the sun eventually set tonight or how the potholes won’t ever be fixed, there will always be a new hip hop trend for you to get into. 

As hip hop has grown and evolved from the 20th century onwards, it has undeniably become one of the world’s leading pop culture influences. Originating in the Bronx borough of New York, the combination of flashy fashion and catchy hooks has drawn millions of fans from all around the world and rocketed many rappers to superstardom. Nowadays, you can’t even walk into a party without seeing somebody in Yeezys or people adding “skrr” to every adlib possible. 

Earworms are nothing new in hip hop. Soulja Boy’s 2007 dance craze “Crank Dat” and Lil Pump’s 2017 hit “Gucci Gang” have changed the music industry and society as a whole. An earworm is basically a melody or tune that easily gets stuck in your mind for a while after you have heard it.

The most recent example of this is Atlanta rapper Gunna’s single, “pushin P.” The blue 🅿️  emoji has been plaguing the comment section of every Instagram post and every TikTok comment — almost all words that have the letter “P” in it have been respelled to include the now infamous icon. So what is pushing P? What isn’t P? And how do we start using the slang correctly? 

In a series of tweets posted by Gunna via Twitter promoting his newest album DS4EVER, he mysteriously began using the P emoji in tweets, even asking his fans “B4 I tell u….What u think Pushing mean ????” Gunna later went on to clarify and gave examples of what is and isn’t P. 

On Twitter, he said, “Risking your life to feed your family is P,” and “Being a real n***a off the Internet is P.” On the contrary, what isn’t P would be “Jumpin n a person beef or situation when u dk wats goin on Not P.”

Gunna went on Instagram Live to reiterate what he means by P. “If you see a lady at the door and you hold the door for the lady, that’s P. We pushing P” he said. “If you’re tryna act richer than your partner like, that aint P”.

Pushing P and the 🅿️  emoji can basically be used synonymously with the phrase keeping it one hundred, or the “100” emoji. It involves doing something positive, being respectful and chasing your goals. In other words, doing something that in most people’s eyes would be considered a nice deed. Pushing P means you’re doing something good such as hyping up your friend for a test. If you’re discouraging their efforts, that isn’t P. It’s all about the vibes. 

There have also been misconceptions about the meaning of Pushing P. Gunna’s song “P Power” featuring Drake had many people and fans wondering if P was another way of saying p***y. With lines such as “That p***y got power, that p***y got power” followed by “Get play as a player (we player), that P get devoured (P),” it’s easy to see where this misconception came from. But this has been refuted by Gunna himself. 

By now, you should get the memo but if you still have questions about what pushing P is, Urban Dictionary has got your back. On Jan. 17, an anonymous user posted what is currently the most widely agreed upon definition of P, with over 2000 likes. “It’s more then (sic) a couple words or ‘applying pressure.’ Pushin 🅿️  is a lifestyle, a whole way of living.” Essentially, it’s a positive way of living.

Gunna is simply going to milk this wave. On Feb. 5, he announced on his Instagram page that he will soon be releasing a children’s book called 6 Things I do to be Pushing P. The book is authored by Brian “Bwritous” Wright and features illustrations by Lavan Wright. Based on the Instagram video, the short story will be completely pink and most likely based on tweets Gunna made earlier. “Be loyal” and “boss your chick up” are just some early examples shown of what this book may contain.

In the end, it’s really up to you if you want to hop on the trend or not. Like most pop culture references or overly memed slang, pushing P will most likely die off. Until then,  it’s ok to not use P. However, to hate on the trend or hate someone else for saying P is most definitely the opposite of what Gunna first meant when he coined the phrase. 


Graphic by James Fay


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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Earl Sweatshirt – SICK!

 A dormant Earl returns to the rap scene with new life stories to tell

Thebe Neruda Kgositsile, also known as Earl Sweatshirt, has finally dropped his new album, SICK! While only clocking in at about 24 minutes, the MC makes up for short tracks with abstract yet packed bars and verses. Listeners will surely be revisiting for hours to catch all the little details in his storytelling.

SICK! treads similar ground of abstract hip hop and jazz rap of Earl`s back catalogue. Past albums have dealt with Earl’s grief from the loss of a loved one and tackling substance abuse. However, on this project it’s clear that the rapper has grown from these traumatic events, even if he hasn’t recovered from them completely. He seems to have grown within his own frame of mind. 

As an album, SICK! is front-loaded and less thematic than his earlier album, Some Rap Songs. This album does not feel like a complete canvas where all the parts fit together; instead, it feels like many different ideas packed with mixed results. 

The record also has more collaborations than past albums. Zelooperz and Armand Hammer both make appearances, and the production is handled most notably by The Alchemist and Navy Blue, the latter of which having also worked on Some Rap Songs.

The best songs sample beautiful piano arrangements, ‘70s afro beats and jazz. “Tabula Rasa” is a notable example of this sampling with its hypnotic piano melody. It features the group Armand Hammer and is my favorite track on the record. The duo is composed of rappers Billy Woods and Elucid. Woods in particular has been an inspiration to Earl`s music.

The opening track “Old Friend” kicks off with a synth beat. Earl’s rapping is in top form and less dejected than his performance on Some Rap Songs.The track references the feeling of cabin fever given the state of the world with COVID and Earl using drugs as an escape from the pandemic

“Fever in the cabin

I knew where we was headed (…)

Blinkin’ for some feasible mеthods to free yourself

Split it with my hand like cigarill’s

Slick oil in a fish’ gill”

SICK! also treads on themes of the past, such as the song “2010.” It’s clear Earl still finds himself living in the shadow of his early persona and rap career in Odd Future, where he, Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean made their names. The passing of his father also dwells on his mind, while some songs dive into the issues of systemic racism and police brutality. These themes are quite far from Earl’s edgy persona from his early career — he seems more mature and politically conscious nowadays. A lot of tracks in the album reference class struggle and current economic issues such as the housing crisis in L.A. and income inequality on the Track “Vision”:

“Singular current event, everything we in the midst of

How long you waiving the rent? 

Moratorium extendo, I’m just evading the pit

Ain’t no parade in the tent”

On the title track for example, Earl references the song “Expensive Shit” by Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer and ’70s political activist Fela Kuti. As the track ends, the beat transitions to a clip of Kuti speaking about his views on music. Earl links his passion and current view on his music to this quote. Through the words of Kuti, music is an act of resistance and a political tool for the masses via revolution.

Tracks such as “Lye” also quote directly from Malcom X, illustrating Earl’s more radical shift in his world view and politics. One quote is directly taken from The Autobiography of Malcolm X

The weaker songs tend to be the more trap-influenced beats like the title track and “Titanic.” They stick out a bit as a sore thumb when mixed with the moodier jazz rap and afrobeat compositions on the project. They are also some of the shortest tracks on the record, barely stretching past the one minute mark. On a 24-minute album, it also seems odd to include an interlude track like “Lobby (Int).”

Overall, while not as thematic and well rounded as Some Rap Songs, SICK! is a decent package that has some of Earl’s more thoughtful rapping. It’s a tad short and not all the tracks carry the same weight as others, but the project is worth it on its lyricism alone. 


Score: 7/10

Trial track: “Tabula Rasa”

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