Categories
Music

Artist to watch in 2021: redveil

Redveil, a Twitter sensation in 2020, showed us exactly why he’s a star in the making.

At only 16 years old, Maryland rapper redveil is already showing glimpses of greatness by borrowing a lo-fi aesthetic, and improving with every single and project he puts out.

He stands out from all his peers with mature and introspective lyricism, a somber and depressing delivery while flowing over a lot of chopped up sample based beats with tons of layers. 

He has drawn plenty of comparisons with former Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt. Despite not being as dark, depressing and deep as Earl lyrically, they both rap with this monotonous and cold voice that makes you shiver to the depths of your being. Redveil also surfs over more laid back and moody instrumentals than Earl does.

His last project Niagara, released in 2020, received a lot of praise in the underground rap scene and helped put his name on the map. The first two songs on the album, “Campbell” and “Weight,” are close to having two million streams each. On Niagara, redveil is in a rather celebratory mood throughout much of the album affirming that he has made it. He also raps about his dreams, ambitions and money for another large portion of the record. He does it while producing the majority of the album, combining two sounds he is most comfortable with:  looped samples like on “Badnews” and “Grass,” the latter sampling “You Don’t Know My Name” by Alicia Keys, and the chill and lowkey trap-flavoured instrumentals as seen on “5500” and “Drown.”

One of his recent follow-up singles, “how 2 find hope,” released in December 2020, sees redveil in a rare form, unquestionably showcasing why he has so much hype around his name. He jumps on a beautiful sample combining looped horns, drums and vocals. He flows on the verses and sings on the chorus, aggravating a deep feeling of desperately searching for hope.

Fans should expect a project from the rapper in 2021 as he has dropped a project every year since he started in 2019.

At 16, redveil is young and has a lot of time to refine his sound and to experiment with it, but his talent is undeniable and he is certainly heading in the right direction. Be on the lookout for this rapper because he has the potential to be the next big thing in hip hop.

 

Categories
Music

What do women think about Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP”?

We looked at what some women on Twitter are saying about the controversial “WAP” song that’s taken the world by storm.

“WAP” (Wet Ass Pussy) is a song by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion that has been gaining popularity, and it hasn’t stopped since its release date Aug. 7. Both the lyrics and music video have caused many discussions on social media. “WAP” discusses women’s genitalia and sexuality, in a way that many see as controversial. What are women saying about this song and the impact it has on women in society?

In response to the song, former Republican congressional candidate for California DeAnna Lorraine Tweeted the following: “Cardi B & Megan Thee Stallion just set the entire female gender back by 100 years with their disgusting & vile “WAP” song.” This Tweet highlights a view that suggests this song is not about female empowerment.

There was a lot of interaction with this Tweet, and most of the women were countering what Lorraine said. A Twitter user by the name of highendtheori said “white women have us in the stone ages love, what’s another century?” 

The mention of race relating to Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion is an important thing to call attention to because often, women of colour — especially black women — are held to a different standard than white women. Would this song have the same reception if it were done by white women? The basic answer to this question is no. It seems that white women get more free passes than women of colour, even if their work is explicit. Take a song like “Bon Appetit” by Katy Perry, which is about her essentially being a buffet for any man who wants a bite. There was not nearly as much backlash on that song as there is with “WAP.”

A different Twitter user agreed with Lorraine. MaeDay811 tweeted “Women trying to be promiscuous like men, are not proud females, they are self hating females that want to be men. How is it empowering to women to chase what men do? That’s like a lioness always thinking it needs to swim in order to be strong as a shark.”

I interviewed two women, Michelle Malnasi and Desirae Dawn, and asked how they felt about the tweet and other elements pertaining to the lyrics and video of “WAP.” 

Desirae, when asked about the tweet, said “Sex and sexuality [are] nothing to be ashamed of … what is liberating for one may not be for another. Megan and Cardi are often talking about sexuality and wearing more revealing clothing … Women are allowed to express their sexuality and body as they please with greater freedom than before, they didn’t set anything back, they are just a blip in the evolution.”

The lyrics and the music video are both quite sexually explicit. The video has both women in various outfits that show off a lot of cleavage and other parts of their bodies. There are also statues of women’s busts that have water squirting out of their nipples.

The female body is the focal point of the music video. Michelle was asked how she felt this song and video either helped or hindered the way we see the female body. She said “I’m conflicted about it. While I do see how our cultural climate is constantly objectifying women, she should have the right to talk about her body in any matter that she wants.”

During the interviews, each of the women were asked, on a scale of one to five, with one being not empowering, and five being the most empowering, how empowering they thought the lyrics were. Both women said 4/5. When asked about how empowering they found the music video to be, they both said 3/5. 

Desirae and Michelle were asked if they thought this song was a feminist anthem. Michelle said that she thinks it is a feminist anthem “Because it empowers women and normalizes that we have sexual needs too and that we should be able to sing/talk about it like men do. Yet at the same time if someone else doesn’t see it as feminist I’m not here to say what’s right or wrong.”

Desirae, on the other hand, does not think it is a feminist anthem. She said, “Music is subjective. What may be a feminist anthem for some may not empower or feel relatable to another, however, I do understand how some music [can] become powerful anthems… and [can be] accepted widely by one community.”

Having watched the video a few times, I was able to come to my conclusions about the lyrics and visuals. One of the things that irked me was that the line “There’s some whores in this house” was stated by a man. During Desirae’s interview, when asked about this line she said that she didn’t mind it all that much. Personally, it would have been better if a woman said that instead. I have no issues with the word “whore,” but when repeated by a man, it bothered me. Typically when a man uses the word “whore” it is derogatory and feeds into a negative narrative about women and their bodies. Also, it seems so out of place given how the rest of the song plays out and how female focused the music video is.

Going back to Lorraine’s Tweet, which suggested that “WAP” is actually setting women back one hundred years… overall, I think her message was not well articulated. I believe that she is trying to state that she is uncomfortable with the video, and doesn’t see its empowering nature. In many ways, I can see why a woman might feel that way. However, in using hyperbole, it loses the actual impact it may have had. For me, the video was an embracement of the female body, in a way that I do not see as empowering. I prefer modesty as a means of female empowerment. However, I can see why and understand how women do see this as liberating, and that is great.

Initially, I was able to watch the explicit version of the video on YouTube, but recently I went to try and find it and I was told there was a regional block. However, there was no regional block on the “clean” version. The major difference between the two versions is not using the word pussy, the “clean” version of the song switched “pussy” to “wet and gushy” instead. In a lot of ways, “wet and gushy” sounds much worse to the ear than “wet-ass pussy.” Yet, the explicit images in the video are the same. This bothered me because it seems that the only issue is the reference to female genitalia, and I wonder if we will get to a place where we can talk more openly about the female body.

 

Graphic by @the.beta.lab

Categories
Opinions

Banning and suspending users is problematic

Twitter is wrongly censoring certain swear words in order to prevent potential abuse

Twitter helps disseminate an idea quickly and provides users with a large audience to convey their messages to, no matter how many followers or important figures follow them. Although this is great when it comes to promoting an event or a social cause close to your heart, it can also have negative outcomes. As we have seen, social media platforms can lead to abuse and the spread of hateful messages. It might be easier to share your well-intentioned ideas, but it’s also easier to share ill-intentioned ones.

Twitter has been criticized by the public for inefficiently dealing with “trolls”—people who spread hateful comments to start fights. But lately, Twitter is using a new system. According to the Washington Post, instead of reviewing content that was signalled as abusive, Twitter detects certain keywords that, if used, will cause the platform to mute users for 12 hours. Muting is not the same as banning. You can still use your account, but if you mention someone who doesn’t follow you, the mentioned account won’t be notified about the tweet. And if someone retweets from the punished account, only those following the punished account will be able to see the retweet.

While this mute feature is not as drastic as a ban, I still find it highly problematic. What exactly is considered abusive speech? Twitter is a bit vague about this. The message Twitter issues when an account gets muted is: “We’ve temporarily limited some of your account features […] We’ve detected some potentially abusive behaviour from your account, so only your followers can see your activity on Twitter for the amount of time shown below.”

One user, Victoria Fierce, was recently muted for tweeting: “Fuck you, I gotta piss, and you’re putting me—an American—in danger of assault by your white supremacist brothers,’’ to Vice President Mike Pence. Twitter didn’t give a specific explanation for why she was muted—it might have been her use of the F-word or even the phrase “white supremacist.” It’s incredibly ambiguous. I’m assuming she was muted because of her swearing. While it’s not the most elegant way to speak, swearing has its purpose when trying to show outrage or convey emotion toward a certain topic. In my opinion, swearing, while being shocking, is a useful tool and should not be censored just to prevent potential harassment.

Using algorithms to punish users, rather than a human who can understand context, is problematic. Everything has context, and words that generally shouldn’t be used might be acceptable depending on the user’s intention. For example, how does a bot designed to oversee abusive tweets detect sarcasm, which is all about context? In its attempt to prevent abuse, Twitter may be silencing people who shouldn’t be silenced. That is terrifying, and we should be careful not to confuse “preventing hate speech” with “preventing people from using certain keywords.” I also find the 12-hour mute policy problematic. Since it’s done automatically, your ability to communicate with a larger audience is being restricted without understanding exactly what you did wrong. Twelve hours in today’s intense information-sharing cycle is a long time.

Some Twitter users have also pointed out that it seems the ban is mostly being used against people who tweet at a verified account. If this is actually the case, it causes another problem. Twitter is protecting public figures who can rely on a strong community of followers to help them fight the abuse. Meanwhile, small users with few followers or little influence become victims of abuse and are not prioritized by this new preventative system.

Since Twitter is its own entity, one could argue the platform has the right to put all the restrictions it wants on users. Yet as a major communication tool, I think it’s Twitter’s responsibility to make sure users’ right to free speech is being respected. I don’t wish for anyone to be the target of abuse on social media, but I think preventing innocent people from using certain words can fall into the category of censorship—which is a whole other serious action that cannot be accepted.

Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth

Categories
Opinions

A world dominated by selfies and stories

How the new social media stories option is fueling our self-centered lives

Facebook recently added “stories” to its mobile app, similar to the Snapchat and Instagram story features, further pushing us into a narcissistic world. Here we are, in 2017, and almost everybody on the planet now has access to this feature on one social media platform or another.

The stories features on all three of these platforms are guiding us into a world where everyone has an “all about me” attitude. Honestly, I’m all for technology—and I know I may sound like a low-tech old man when I write this—but our world is being defined by selfies and 24-hour time limits.

Every day, people from all around the world feel the need to share their lives with their friends. It started in 2014, when Snapchat released the revolutionary Live Stories feature. Immediately, people started sharing pictures ranging from their Starbucks cups to their bubble baths to personal rants. Then there’s my personal favourite: driving. Yes, users can show the world they’re putting their life at risk in real time.

Although people shared those types of pictures long before stories came out, the stories feature gave an opportunity to share a series of pictures at once, with viewers simply needing to tap to cycle through them.

This social media feature didn’t impact the whole social media world immediately because Snapchat only has 122 million users, according to Statista, a statistics-gathering website. In August 2016, Instagram launched its own “stories” feature, almost exactly like the one on Snapchat. According to Statista, Instagram had over 600 million monthly active users in December 2016.

Most recently, Facebook copied Snapchat and Instagram—two companies it also owns—by releasing a stories feature on its mobile app. Facebook claims they had 1.86 billion monthly active users as of December 2016. From Snapchat to Instagram to Facebook, just like that, the majority of social media users could use a stories feature on some sort of social media app.

The problem with these stories is people think they’re celebrities and their friends want to know about their life. Everyday people watch reality shows about celebrities who have a camera crew following them around for a TV show, and they’re inspired to do the same. Their phone is their camera crew, and these apps are the TV channels.

An article published in the January 31 issue of The Concordian  said social media use could
lead to depression and anxiety in young adults. In my opinion, the stories feature is the root of it all. By choosing glamorous moments of their lives, people only share the happy moments, and the people who see these stories think their own lives are not as perfect in comparison. We used to think celebrities had perfect lives because of what we saw from their reality shows—when in fact they don’t—and now we think our friends have perfect lives because of social media stories.

I also notice a lot of people posting stories of their night outs partying or at a club. I didn’t think much of it until I started going out myself. What I saw shocked me—so many people are on their phones taking selfie videos of them dancing or having a drink. It’s pure narcissism, and it just ruins the night. You’re out with your friends, leave your virtual friends alone and in your pocket.

Like everything else on social media, stories are useful. Sports teams can show fans behind-the-scenes action. Companies have an opportunity to advertise. Snapchat’s Discover, which features stories from news media, companies and live events, has changed the way news is dispersed. But there are just too many negatives to the stories feature—the biggest being its contribution to our ever-growing narcissistic society.

Graphic by Florence Y

Categories
Arts

‘he never came on my stomach/also he was afraid of elevators’

Accidental social media poets gaining credibility in the arts scene

Social media: the beast without a conscience, a filter, or any real artistic relevance. In fact, its use normally invokes a sense of mindlessness, of inane commentaries or agenda-pushing statuses. But for 22-year-old Los Angelean and creative prodigy Mira Gonzalez, Twitter became a creative vehicle, a prompt to produce a collection of succinct, self-aware poems that would become part of a movement that I’ll refer to as “Twitterature.”

In her own words: “hell hath no fury like a woman on social media.”

Gonzalez writes with a bald, almost vile honesty about topics like drugs, sex, loneliness, self-loathing and recklessness. Most are anecdotal, based off of her own experiments with prescription drugs, loneliness and sexual trysts with unconventional men. Her Twitter feed is a collection of pithy and darkly humorous updates, which she amassed into an anthology, i will never be beautiful enough to make us beautiful together, published by Sorry House in 2013. However, after Lena Dunham instagrammed a photo of the book earlier this year, Gonzalez became more visible—and distinguishable—among her literary peers.

Her publisher’s description of her work states that she is “brutally honest to the point of appearing unhinged or wildly fantastic,” and a who’s-who of readers have come forward to acclaim her brazen and nervy approach to daily activities and thoughts. Blake Butler, writer and editor of HTML Giant, said it straight in his review of the anthology: “It’s messed up and feels honest, open, like lying naked on the floor with your arms chopped off.”

More established poets denounce this form of self-expression, claiming that it glorifies and beautifies depression and self-damaging, self-deprecating habits. They are also ruffled by the non-exclusivity of this type of movement. Twitterature, for the most part, threatens those people who write heavily veiled, heavily nuanced pieces of work. The simplicity of Gonzalez’s poems cause some to question their depth. Her lack of formal education also brings her talent and understanding of literature into question.

Also, they’re readily available to reject stanzas like “he said ‘I’m gonna come on your stomach’ 15 to 20 times while/ breathing heavily and putting his penis on different parts of my stomach/ every time I attempted to touch his penis he moved my hand away/eventually I gave up on trying to interact with his penis/ he never came on my stomach/also he was afraid of elevators.”

But aside from style and overall pretension, Gonzalez and other Twitterature figures are distinguished by their openness and honesty. In an interview with Vice, she stated that hiding the truth about her drug use would be hiding a part of who she is. Twitterature is less involved, less focused on the overall impact or analysis of the work, rather than putting the poetry into the public domain in a non-exclusive, somewhat ubiquitous way. The “club” or “venture” itself isn’t discriminatory. Gonzalez tweeted, quite candidly, that “being a poet is cool if you like being poor and unhappy.” The emphasis of her work is honesty and impact.

Gonzalez also warns us, and her publishers, to look out for her next manuscript: “a piece of paper that says ‘can i have money’ written in my own blood.”

Categories
News

#Occupy McGill

Unlike the picket signs and loudly-chanted slogans that accompany most protests, the majority of the dialogue on the student occupation at McGill took place online.

Under the Twitter handle “@6partylive,” the dozen or so students who occupied McGill’s James Administration building tweeted their demands to the university, updated the world on their food situation and set up interviews with major Montreal media outlets.

Clashes between those for and against the occupation were numerous on Twitter, accessible to the world via the hashtags “#6party” and “#occupymcgill.”

“I decided to use Twitter because it is a relatively safe space in which to remain anonymous,” wrote one individual who tweets under the handle of @OccupyMcGill. Going by the name “James McGill,” he composed over 500 tweets last week rebuking the occupiers and replying to those supporting the sit-in online.

“My opposition to the methods and motivations of the protesters is based firmly on principle. The group of protesters are behaving in an ineffective and extremely childish manner,” he told The Concordian last week.

Concordia undergraduate senator and Mob Squad member Gene Morrow replied to many of @OccupyMcGill’s tweets, describing the volume and frequency of @OccupyMcGill’s tweets as “just weird.”

“He was tweeting one after another by himself regardless whether or not anyone else was tweeting, just repeating the same messages over and over again,” said Morrow. @OccupyMcGill maintained, both in interview and on Twitter, that he was one person tweeting of his own volition.

Debate crossed over to Facebook in the form of an event called “The James 6th Floor occupiers do NOT represent me.” With over 2,000 people listed as “attending,” the event claimed to represent McGill’s “silent majority.”

Beni Fisch and Diego Laguna, two of the event’s creators, said in an interview that they were amazed by the response and rewarded to discover that others felt the same way they did about the occupation.

“This is not against their message, it’s against their tactics,” said Fisch, stating that the CKUT/QPIRG referendum question is not their focus. Instead, the event came as a result of their ongoing frustration with the political discourse at McGill, which he and Laguna say has been monopolized by a radical minority. According to the event’s page, the aim is to create “positive change at McGill without the use of confrontational tactics.”

“It’s not slacktivism,” said Laguna, addressing those who have criticized the Facebook event as an empty gesture. Laguna and Fisch say the group is the beginning of a much larger mobilization that plans on taking action sometime within the next week.

Exit mobile version