this is heavy

In memoriam: Six of the best from the undisputed H.N.I.C.

I put my lifetime in-between the paper’s lines.

Prodigy, among New York’s hardcore rap forefathers and one of the genre’s lyrical heavyweights, passed away Tuesday morning following a lifelong battle with sickle cell anemia. He was 42 years young.

Born Albert Johnson, Prodigy was one-half of seminal rap group Mobb Deep. Known for his raw, almost cinematic lyricism, Prodigy lended cold, calculated weight to Havoc’s hellish soundscapes. Together, the duo crafted some of rap’s grimiest – and best – songs.

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Film Review: Eggers creates art-house horror classic with The Witch

To no surprise, niche horror continues to be met with antipathy from the mainstream.

The Witch earned Robert Eggers best director at Sundance more than a year ago, and reactions to advanced screenings of the film were such that A24 made the bold decision to give the independent horror a broad theatrical release in the United States. It made sense; championed by critics and bloggers alike and blessed with a superb marketing campaign, The Witch appeared to be the rare horror film that could draw audiences both young and old.

the witch 2

And draw it did, taking in just over $8 million during its first week in mid-February. An exceptional return considering the movie’s $3.5 million budget, sure, but far from the $16 million it tracked for following strong Thursday screening numbers.

So, what happened? Expectation and tradition, unfortunately.

Audiences tend to revolt against films that subvert expectation, that confound logic and invest in the ambient and emotional rather than the graphic. The Witch is no gore fest, and it shares little with its independent horror brethren. As such, casual movie-goers failed to connect with Eggers’ grim folktale (to put it nicely).

This, of course, is a shame because The Witch is one of the finest horror films of recent memory. Continue reading

SotM: Back to the Future Remix

We have reached the future. I repeat, we have reached the future.

Back in the 80s, as a child you were obsessed with Back to the Future. You just were. Then Back to the Future Part II came out, and you were obsessed with self-lacing sneakers and, of course, hoverboards.

At the time – winter 1989 to be exact – 2015 was so far away. Flying cars seemed plausible. So, too, did roughly 75 Jaws films. We all longed for 2015. Continue reading

Throwback: My ’06 review of the Clipse masterpiece, Hell Hath No Fury

I used to write hip-hop album reviews. I know, doesn’t seem that far-fetched at all.

From late 2006 into early 2008, I slammed the likes of Styles P and Sa-Ra (album is kind of dope now – what the hell did I know?) for HipHopSite.com. This was pretty major  for me, a young journalist at the time searching for as many writing avenues as I could find. Perhaps more significantly, HipHopSite was the first website on the Internet to cater to rap in a way that spoke to me, and it unquestionably help to cultivate and refine my appreciation of the genre.

This was the place where I first heard Skew It On The Bar-B and Nas Is Like. I remember the goosebumps that accompanied the opening drums of the latter like it was yesterday. As such, HipHopSite will always hold a significant place in my life.

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SotD: The Internet – Girl

This one somehow slipped past me when it dropped a month or so ago. Thankfully the Internet is here to remedy the situation.

Kaytranada hit BBC 1 in January to unleash this syrupy beauty from The Internet, entitled Girl. Just waves and waves of lushness here – it’s a gorgeous piece of music.

VotD: Nas at Coachella ’14

OutKast’s much-ballyhooed reunion may not have quite lived up to the hype, but this year’s Coachella music festival still managed to spawn some memorable hip-hop performances. At the top of that list was clearly a peerless set from Nas, which you can view in full below.

As we approach the 20th anniversary of Nasir’s seminal debut LP Illmatic (tomorrow to be exact), the rapper paid homage by performing the entire album, along with various choice cuts from the rest of his catalog. It makes for quality viewing.

That said, where was AZ?

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The Case for Captain America

Cap is back, and apparently America – indeed the globe – is happy to see him. Captain America: The Winter Soldier took in more than $300 million worldwide in its debut weekend, a number that nearly matches the entire run of Steve Rogers’ first standalone foray into theaters, 2011’s First Avenger which grossed $371 million worldwide.

The numbers are well deserved. Winter Soldier is superb, a film that transforms the series – and indeed the Marvel cinematic universe – by thrusting Captain American into modern day espionage. It’s an action-intense throwback to 70s political thrillers that, despite its grand ambition, remains surprisingly grounded – that is, as long as you approach the over-the-top action sequences (which are supremely constructed, mind you) with some sense of playfulness.

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Too Good to be True: McAdoo bails for NBA

BEST NEWS EVER.

Well, not the best news ever, but undoubtedly the best news that has come across my desk this week.

james-mcadooNorth Carolina hybrid big man James Michael McAdoo announced Thursday that he will forego his senior year of eligibility and enter this June’s NBA Draft. I’m sure Roy Williams is devastated by the news.

Why McAdoo, who is projected to be a late first-round to early second-round selection, made this decision is unknown – his professional stock couldn’t be much lower – and I don’t really care. I’m just happy that Chapel Hill has finally rid itself of one of the most overrated recruits in Tar Heel history.

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Date Night: Ian Darke gets saucy in ESPN World Cup ad

‘Do you own books?’

Real-time meltdowns: World Cup edition

Get this, people: I like football. I know, crazy, right? Well, you’ll be surprised to know that many of my friends share this sentiment.

One of these friends, a not-so-happy soul we’ll refer to in this space as Fan, had himself a merry little meltdown during last week’s draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. So incensed was Fan that he unleashed a torrent of emails to me – and assorted brethren – denouncing Sepp Blatter & Co. in the most viciously entertaining fashion. Taste it, Sepp.

Enough with the backstory then. Without any further ado, I present to you the email chain in all of its unabashed splendor. The vitriol is strong with this one.

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