I'll be the judge of that.

DOPE Digest vol. 21 – Star Wars, Taylor Swift, Drake and MORE

Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens Trailer

syvo: OK everyone, don’t eeeeeven front. This trailer had you pumped. Even if you think the “broadsword” lightsaber design is stupid (well, it kinda is), even if you’re one of those people with nothing to say about J.J. Abrams other than “lens-flare,” even if you were put off by the soccer-ball droid, and even if you feel your personal integrity and intelligence were insulted by Episodes I-III,

…then surely the Millennium Falcon got to you.


BK: Just when I think I’m finally over the obnoxious, ubiquitous, unoriginal slew of Hollywood blockbusters, with their repeated characters, stories, settings, and general lack of ambition and imagination, they go and do something like this…

And totally redeem themselves!

I was a pretty big fan of the original Star Wars trilogy, and I even dug up my VHS copies during Thanksgiving last week (now to find someone with a VCR), but I was nervous for this reboot-of-the-reboot, even if I have a lot of respect for the work J.J. Abrams does. This trailer alleviates some of that worry, because I’m sold on both the soccer droid AND the Millennium Falcom. Plus, my boy Oscar Isaac makes a glorious appearance.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still a bit gun-shy after the Spiderman 3 debacle (great trailer, terrible movie), but this gives me hope that this version of Star Wars won’t ruin my memories of the classic original.

Taylor Swift – “Blank Space” Video

syvo: The music video to the all-purpose best track on 1989 is just fantastic. Directed by video music veteran Joseph Kahn, I totally love how everything is shot and edited. But what I love even more here is Taylor herself, as she pairs genteel feminine pretense with energetically hysterical eruption; she does streaked mascara and golfclub-swinging with a flavor of knowing grace that only she could pull off. Contrary to the lyrics, Taylor no longer needs a long list of ex-lovers to tell us she’s insane; now, she’s happy to do it herself.

BK: I’m a pretty big fan of all the animal guest stars in this video. Cats, deer, horses, dogs? Sign me up. If she could have found a way to chase her man down the driveway on a Giraffe at the end, I would have given her the Oscar now.

Anyway, this is a really solid song off of a surprisingly strong album. Taylor continues to evolve as an artist without sacrificing any of the catchiness that is required to get huge plays on the radio. I would personally like to see her go back to her country roots sometime down the line, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Fortunately, we have plenty of singles to come from 1989 in the meantime (I’m rooting for “Wonderland”… But I think that is literally just me.)

Lana Del Rey – “Big Eyes”

syvo: Hmm. Even as a longstanding member of the Lana Del Rey Overappreciation Society, I’m not sure this song is good enough to absolve it of the ignominy of being the title track to Tim Burton’s latest bore. Like everything in the last fifteen-odd years of the fading form-of-art-student’s career, this pairing has a distinct look of the “too obvious.” That said, I like that Lana is continuing her side career as the best soundrack artist around, following stand-out work on movies like Maleficent (2014) and The Great Gatsby (2013).

BK:  I’m not the Lana Del Rey fanboy you are, syvo, but even a layman like me could appreciate her last album. This track is definitely NOT up to that level, and frankly kind of the worst. I’m going to assume that the post-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory disease which has infected both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp and made them both intolerable has creeped over into Lana for this track. Hopefully she can stay clear of those two and do some more work with Angelina Jolie. That track was dope.

Charli XCX – “Breaking Up” Video

syvo: This isn’t the strongest single off Sucker so far, but it is pretty good. I enjoy the verses a lot, as well as the “over it” attitude Charli displays throughout the video. I’m counting this as the last small tease before Sucker drops on December 15.

BK: I feel like we have been listening to tracks from Sucker forever, but I’m still not sick of them which bodes well for the album. I am loving the concept for the video, and I think it matches pretty well with the ‘Joan Jett-meets-early-Beach Boys’ sound of the song.

If Charli is ever going to break out, now is the time, but I’m starting to hope she doesn’t. She should keep writing hit songs for lesser-artists and being featured on lucrative singles and then just do Charli – whatever that is.

Purity Ring – “push pull”

syvo: Woah! Look who’s back. And here I was worried that CHVRCHES had just completely usurped their position as a relevant “slightly dark electropop outfit.” But I couldn’t be happier that Purity Ring is back! This song is really great, and has me believing they’re going to be clawing back some of the spooky bleep-bloop market share from CHVRCHES in 2015. That faceoff is going to be intense.

BK: The ‘spooky bleep-bloop’ market is pretty cutthroat (ask this guy, he’s been getting chased around by ghosts for years), but this track is an excellent entry into the foray. Lead singer Megan James has a certain subtlety in her vocals that is really appealing, and even though the music is all electronic the track doesn’t feel weighted down by the production. I’m way on board with this one. My only question is the name: why Purity Ring? Maybe you can explain that to me one day, syvo.

Drake – 6 God (Prod. by Boi-1da & Sky Sense)

BK: I know this track dropped over a month ago, but one of the benefits of slacking off for a while is that we have a lot of material to cover (so there). Couple that with the fact that this track is completely, utterly, and totally excellent, and I didn’t see anyway we could avoid putting it on here.

‘6 God’ follows the now-predictable Drake tradition of putting out some of his best material, especially the best rap tracks, as singles that leak prior to his albums release. There is almost no chance that we’ll see this track on his upcoming album given that it hasn’t received tons of radio play either. I’m coming to terms with the fact that Drake’s albums will most likely continue to be polished, professional, top-notch productions that lack some of the heart of Thank Me Later or Comeback Season, but I do appreciate the regular reminder that he can put out a great rap music with the best of them (probably better than anyone but Kanye, but that’s a different discussion).


DOPE Digest Throwback: The Fugees – Fu-Gee-La

BK: I can never stay away from The Fugees for too long. The Score is an album that I first ingested through osmosis when it debuted in 1996 and I wasn’t old enough to quite understand what they were talking about, only that the rapping sounded cool and that there was a girl in the group (and she’s the best one).

I revisit this album at least once a year and for some reason it’s usually in the winter (maybe its because Wyclef is always Gone ‘Til November, amiright?! Ok, sorry). Every single song is a classic, but I always loved Fu-Gee-La because it has a certain energetic quality that isn’t always present in Fugees songs. I certainly recommend going back and listening to the whole album, but if you don’t have the time then at least bump this one on your commute home.

Happy Friday.


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