So many wonderful things happen in pop culture each week, but only the best of the best make it into our weekly DOPE Digest. Syvology-approved goodness from wherever we find it.
Little Pain – “Suicide Watch”
syvo: I’m always on the lookout for dark, semi-avant-garde hip hop, so Brooklyn rapper Little Pain caught my attention immediately. I’ve had the track above on repeat all week. His high-pitched, frantic flow reminds me a lot of early Cage, as do his clinically depressive themes. Of course, neither rapper was the first to confront Albert Camus’s ultimate question over high-hats and snares; lest we forget, BIG’s dark meditations on “Suicidal Thoughts” or even Pac’s highly rhetorical query, “Is life worth living, should I blast myself?” But I think Little Pain is the first rapper to make an entire mixtape about crying. You can download When Thugs Cry HERE for free.
House of Cards, Season 2 – Trailer
syvo: Ooooooooohhhh snap!! Who’s ready for this?!? Although I was as hopelessly addicted to the first season of House of Cards as anyone, I ultimately came to view it as a little bit too sleek and cool and competent for its own good. Like, the show was almost too confident in its ability to suck the viewer in and dominate it synapses for its own good. But ridiculous performances all around – Kevin Spacey’s glum assertiveness, Kate Mara’s pluck, and Robin Wright’s icy gaze and protruding collarbone -made this show special. Don’t bother trying to get me to do anything come February 14th.
BK: I’m convinced that the second and final season is going to be even better than the first, and I too loved the first season. I’m pretty much with you on all of this, except how you callously canceled our Valentine’s Day plans in front of the whole internet. NOT cool.
Chromeo – Over Your Shoulder
BK: I’m late to this bandwagon, but I have been loving the latest offering from Canadian neo-funk duo Chromeo (nobody knows funk like the fine folks of Montreal, Quebec know funk) . Their new track ‘Over Your Shoulder’ offers the same type of smile-inducing guitar/bass riff that made Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ the biggest record of the summer. It also has a catchy-enough chorus to make me believe that it could be played on mainstream radio, but I guess they aren’t quite as bankable as Pharrell. Yet.
Transcendence (2014) Trailer
BK: I know it doesn’t look that good. And yes, I realize that Johnny Depp hasn’t made a good movie in years. With this one, however, we may have reason to be excited. This is the debut film for director Wally Pfister, the Director of Photography on every great Christopher Nolan film you can name (even Memento. Do you remember how good Memento is!?). Transcendence features Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, and one of my all-time favorites, Cillian Murphy. The concept of a computer taking over the world is nothing new, but it still scares the crap out of me. In the right hands, it has the potential to be great. I’m just hoping that we get the good Depp back and hopefully a solid new director in Pfister.
syvo: It’s a well-documented and highly publicized fact that in college I had a life-sized poster of Johnny Depp from Crybaby on my wall. That’s a reality, folks. But that doesn’t mean I forgive him for most of his recent career moves. So as this trailer opened, I was already rolling my eyes. But by the end, I was intrigued. The timing of the film’s subject matter couldn’t be better, considering Ray Kurzweil, a director of engineering at Google, declared last June that we’d have the ability to upload human consciousness within thirty years.
Transcendence appears to focus on the ethical considerations associated with such a move. But what really gives me futurism-anxiety is the metaphysical inquiry, since digitalizing human consciousness would alter fundamentally the essential condition of humanity: our mortality. It’s always been the province of science fiction to give us a chance to think about the future before we actually have to live through it. Let’s hope this film does that.
The Other Woman (2014) Trailer
BK: I know, it doesn’t look that good. But when a movie is the debut of not one but TWO pop culture figures as ubiquitous as Nicki Minaj and Kate Upton, Syvology takes notice. Maybe they will both surprise us and be great actresses, but based on the footage we see here I’m not counting on it. It looks like the kind of late-winter movie that makes me really appreciate Oscar season, but without the B-side schmaltz the A-side stuff isn’t nearly as good.
syvo: First of all, I’m a huge supporter of anything that involves Cameron Diaz. She is quite easily the most underrated female actor the contemporary Hollywood B-list has to offer. After her absolutely sublime (yet widely misunderstood) performance in The Counselor, I hope we continue to see more and more of her. I’m also quite intrigued by the comedic potential in Nicki Minaj and Kate Upton. I think they both have a lot of laughs in them. Lastly…JAIME LANNISTER?!?! That’s it. I’ve seen enough. Sign me up.
Superman vs. Hulk!
syvo: I’ve always considered it an apostasy to mix Marvel and DC characters. Call me closed-minded, but something about seeing Spider-Man and Batman hang out together gives me the willies. It’s just not right. But I must say, the above video is very awesome. It’s the first in a four-part series by animator Michael Habjan. Apparently he made these in his spare time, purely for the love of the game. You can literally see him refining his own skills with each entry, as the action becomes more violently kinetic and nuanced. The other three installments can be found here, here, and here.
DOPE Digest Throwback: Steely Dan – Dirty Work (1972)
BK: Steely Dan is an incredible band. This track is from their debut album album Can’t Buy a Thrill, a surprise 1972 hit from Walter Becker and Donald Fagen. This album is pretty poppy but Steely Dan standards, but any group ambitious enough to fuse jazz and rock deserves a ton of credit. Since I have no other place to give them such credit, I’ll do it here. Excellent work, gents. This track (and the rest) all hold up.
syvo: I’m not as familiar with Steely Dan as many of my friends and family members, and jazz usually confounds my essentially callow understanding of music. But any group named after a dildo in William S. Burrough’s classic transgressive novel Naked Lunch is more than alright in my book.