Album Review – “Revenge” by XXXtentacion

Travis Scott, Lil Pump, Smokepurrp, Robb Banks, Ugly God. Among others, they are driving a new wave of hip-hop which is characterized by lo-fi bass with aggressive lyrics and vocals. One of the leading names in this sub-genre of lo-fi is rapper XXXTENTACION.

Hailing from Broward County, Florida, he shook the game with his hit single “Look at Me.” For that song, many tried to pigeonhole XXX into being nothing but a lo-fi bass artist. His new release, Revenge, demonstrates otherwise. Revenge features many tracks that were previously released through his SoundCloud, but are now compiled into a commercial release. Songs such as “King” and “Looking for a Star” show quite a contrast to the style we’ve come to expect. Yet, “YuNg BrAtZ” and “RIP Roach” still show that xxx isn’t afraid to go hard.

XXXTENTACION opens Revenge with “Look at Me”, which, to fans, is to be expected. It’s his leading single and works well as an attention-grabber, but also serves as a way to show contrast to the following tracks. The first of which, entitled “I Don’t Wanna Do This Anymore,” immediately shows this opposing sound. It’s still lo-fi, but the autotune shows XXX’s softer side presented in the form of a hybrid garage-style produced 808’s & Heartbreak and cloud rap.

Continuing to throw the listener through hoops, “Looking for a Star” features a distinctly dark yet tropical back beat produced by none other than EDM megastar, Diplo. Auto-tuned as well, but not over the top and cheesy, his vocals fit well with the song and its Jamaican-ish vibes. 

Moving on, we continue with this leaned out, almost lethargic feeling with “Valentine.” XXX almost seems to be taking notes from early Travis Scott or Yung Lean as he channels his inner sadboy and questions whether or not to continue down his current path, or stop everything and become a better person. The answer presents itself quite clearly on “King,” which starts out very similar to the previous track, dark and airy. This, however, does not last. In almost a hat tip towards his punk rock and heavy metal roots, distorted guitars and thundering drums accompany his screams of “HEY! YOU!” coming seemingly out of nowhere and marks a change in tone for the rest of the album.

However, the next track “Slipknot” continues the running theme of XXX wanting to show his audience that he isn’t a one-trick pony when it comes to rapping. Undoubtedly the most lyrical track on the album, it’s definitely his best attempt towards creating an old school hip-hop sound with piano runs and hooks similar to that of UGK and Outkast. XXX is out to prove that he can not only sing and scream, but also spit bars. It’s also the first track on the album to feature other artists, Kin$oul (who’s featured on the track) and Killstation (who sings the end hook).

Revenge returns to the sound of “Look at Me” with “YuNg BrAtZ,” and marks the return of the XXX we’ve come to know and love; Loud, aggressive, and ignorant toward the feelings of others to ultimately bring the album full circle. Not much can be said other than it’s definitely a crowd pleaser meant to whip the audience into a blood-thirsty frenzy.

The last track, “R.I.P Roach,” features fellow Members Only founder $ki Mask, The Slump God who more or less raps over the beat, as opposed to XXXTENTACION‘s hype shouts. Like “Look at Me” and the previous track, it carries XXX’s signature sound of distorted bass and screamed vocals. It also holds our objectively favorite line on the album with XXX essentially calling his haters “rice krispies.”

From top to bottom, Revenge proves that XXXTENTACION is not a one trick pony. As his first major commercial project, the album sets out to demonstrate his versatility and diversity. Only time will tell which direction he will continue, but as far as our opinion goes, we see X continuing his reign of bending genres, generating insane amounts of hype, and blowing out subwoofers worldwide.

“Baywatch” washes up like so much beach trash

Blame it on 21 Jump Street (the movie)’s success. After the failed revivals of ‘classic’ television shows like Ben Stiller’s Starsky & Hutch and Nicole Kidman’s Bewitched, these commercial and critical failures seemed to ruin the niche of popular television comedy to movie formula. But 21 Jump Street (and it’s subsequent sequel) proved to be cheeky and self-referential enough to garner the success the other adaptations couldn’t find. So now Baywatch has washed up on the cinematic beach starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, and Alexandra Daddario and a cast of unfortunately forgettable others.

To say that Baywatch has a plot would be only a disservice to the actual concept of narrative. Dwayne Johnson as Mitch and Zach Efron as Brody et al. operate as team of lifeguards. The first half of the film is team building and the constant ‘unwanted mentor’ role of Mitch to Brody. Soon, a generic drug dealing plot is revealed as being a reason to sustain a film for an unneeded two hours. Action ensues, jokes are told, and the plot meanders through Mitch’s platitudes of teamwork and responsibility as he constantly justifies he and his team’s vigilante actions.

Baywatch’s first and most glaring problem is on display from the get go. While at one point trying to be meta in the same vein as 21 Jump Street, it opts instead for complacent juvenile humor. During the first half hour, the punchline of every joke is accentuated by a seeming high school writer’s gleeful exuberance of the ‘f-word’ as a comedic tool. The jokes seem too stale to be formed by someone with Johnson’s charisma and natural comedic ability. The same can be said for Efron’s lines as most of the script seems to rely too heavily on their presence and not so much comedic chops (which Efron has showcased in other, better comedies). The other characters have little else to do than to be there for comedic effect without much discernible personality between them. For a film trying so desperately to make itself relevant, the actual humor in this comedy steadily keeps dragging through its self made drudgery of so-called comedic situations.

Although Baywatch tries so hard to not be, the often homophobic and misogynistic script (four screenwriters and a director thought a man touching another man’s genitals is cause for laughs?) offers little recourse. The inherent idea of bodies being the main focus of the television show and the now film is caustic to any idea of progressiveness. Even star Priyanka Chopra has said the film is a “feminist movie”, and yes, both male and female bodies are objectified but that should not be an excuse to still be objectifying, especially in this way and in this format. Other films can tackle these ideas in this platform of sardonic comedy, but Baywatch is neither competent nor interesting enough to offer any subtle meanings. It is unfortunate that the film so often misses the mark when it could have used these dated tropes of body-types-as-entertainment to show how ridiculous these constructions are. Yes, there is a male character with a so- called ‘dad-bod’, but that isn’t to offer any new commentary, only flat jokes. Baywatch seems terribly dated in its social commentary (or lack thereof).

Baywatch being an action-comedy could have at least offered some inspired action scenes, but director Seth Gordon keeps the same easy, generic scenes that hindered his other films. As a director, he has been given casts with enormous potential (like Jason Bateman and Mellissa McCarthy in Identity Thief) but he squanders their talent on the most juvenile of humor and uninteresting plots. Throughout Baywatch, there is a severe lack of fun from the cast and script and it hinders what could have been a basically fun summer film. Go talk with a lifeguard for two hours at a pool; it’ll be far more fun and relevant.

Grade – D

A Letter to Our Community

Entertainment Media is a fascinating subject. It’s very different from the brand of journalism created by our friends at The Chronicle. Many people would argue that it’s far more frivolous, that it doesn’t have the same social responsibility. That with all of the calamities and important stories going on there are better things to discuss than sports or music. I’ve often wondered, with so much work that needs to be done in our world, am I really choosing to make a difference by making entertainment?

I believe, though, that creating entertainment requires just as much social responsibility as journalism. It certainly has just as much social impact, if not more. And I realized this as I sought out my own reason for loving this industry so much. I used to say it was the intersection of art and technology that drove me to entertainment, and that’s still true. But in my time working at K-UTE Radio and attending this university, I’ve realized that’s not the whole story. The big “Why” for my love of entertainment is that entertainment spawns community.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to put this into words. A community surrounding entertainment is literally the definition of a fandom, something we know a lot about at The Geekwave. It’s been a goal of K-UTE Radio and The Geekwave for as long as I’ve been around. It’s the goal of any entertainment creator; although they may use more sterile terms like “growing audience” or “encourage engagement”. But at its core, it’s something very personal that you’re creating: a community of people that are brought together over a common love. And it’s powerful. Reddit is full of stories of people coming to the aid of strangers in their fandom. People who are literally connected by the entertainment they enjoy.

In my four years participating in and leading K-UTE Radio and The Geekwave, I’ve seen amazing things happen. We got to reach out to local artists and give them venues to showcase their work. We’ve had local business owners champion our cause and help us make connections in the community. We’ve offered our skills to the University and other student groups to create great experiences on campus. We assisted with the first Crimson Gaming events, an organization that would pave the way for the U’s Varsity Esports. We were a sponsor and organizer for the charity event Respawn Ready. We’ve given people and organizations trying to make a difference a place where they could speak to the world. We started out as a loosely joined group of shows trying to build our own small communities. We became to two large teams of people working together to support and build the communities that were already there.

But there’s one community that we created that I think may be the most powerful: The Student Media Team. I will never forget the passionate students that found a home here. I’ll never forget watching nervous freshmen who thought radio might be fun become creators and leaders. I’ll never forget watching students of different backgrounds become friends and teammates over their desire to work hard and make something together. We have had students come in with a story to tell or a message to convey and we’ve given them a microphone and a podcast. We’ve had geeks who love to gush about their favorite things and we’ve taught them to put their passion on paper. We’ve built brands, we’ve built websites, we’ve built makeshift studios and publishing schedules and individual portfolios and leaders. But most of all, we’ve built a family.

I’ll consider myself a part of this family for the rest of my life, and I know that I’ll always be welcome back at University of Utah Student Media. Thank you to every person who made these four years the greatest experience of my life. And good luck to Gustavo Cordeiro, Geoff Sutyak, and Lee Neuschwander as they lead our Entertainment Media into the future.

Keep Dreaming.

Jarom “Solar” Norris has been the Station Manager for K-UTE Radio for the past two years. He also was the Executive Producer of The Geekwave since he started it three years ago. If you’d like to keep following Solar and his projects, check him out on Twitter or at his website http://jarom.solar

K-UTE Wins National Student Production Award

It was only in August of 2015 that K-UTE Radio completely redid our website and began a rebranding to build a University of Utah podcasting platform. We knew that our audience wanted our talk entertainment content on-demand, and that by building a place where we could publish a variety of different topic shows, we’d be able to give them that and leave ourselves with room to grow. That means that we’ve only officially been publishing podcasts since then, with The Geekwave: Episode 0 releasing on August 20, 2015, and the first episode of The Rostrum on August 25.

And so, it’s with great pride that we accept the 3rd Place National Student Production Award for Best Podcast.

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The podcast in question is an episode of The Vet Set, recorded by Andrea Bryant and produced by Keith Blanc. In it, Andrea talks to University of Utah student Cory about his experiences in the Navy. You can listen to the episode here:

Thank you to the College Broadcasters Inc. for bestowing this award. We’re very happy to be able to take something home our first year of entering the awards. K-UTE will continue to improve our standard of quality, especially with our new forms of web entertainment content. So watch out for next year, when we’re going to bring home a 1st place prize!

~ Jarom “Solar” Norris, K-UTE Radio Manager

The Future of The Geekwave

It was almost two years ago that, after a summer of planning, Claire Heman and I launched our very first live broadcast of The Geekwave Talk Show, along with a Facebook page, a Minecraft server, and several club outreach initiatives. Our goal then was simple: To create a radio show about the things we were passionate about, to have fun doing it, and to bring the geek communities on campus closer together through variety entertainment. Sure, we had some big dreams then, we got involved with as many things as possible, we showed up at as many big club events as possible, we threw a Super Smash Bros. release party, we created the Geek Madness bracket and The Geekwave Blog, we even hosted the U’s first Hearthstone Fireside Gathering.

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The summer after we created The Geekwave I was hired to be the manager over all of K-UTE Radio. Alex Wiles, the manager before me, told me “Keep doing your show.” So I did, and as I laid forth K-UTE’s plans for the future, I realized that I was going to have to cut The Geekwave from the air and put it on our website as a podcast. A year ago today I did that, having no co-hosts (Claire and Kelby had graduated) and no idea how I was going to keep it up. But with support from great club leaders like Sam Wasson and Ri Hansen, I was determined to make it succeed. Luckily after pulling club leaders to be co-hosts for several weeks, we hired Logan “Ollie” Erickson on as my co-host. He started out as a wild-eyed freshman from Wisconsin, and has since grown incredibly to be a reliable and passionate producer on the show. Lee Neuschwander rounded out the team a few weeks later, and the third generation of The Geekwave was born.

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Near the end of Spring semester, Logan and I started laying out our dreams for how to make The Geekwave better and better. Lee had helped me revive The Geekwave Blog and turn it into a regular feature, Logan made some great contacts when he got into CES, and the Student Media Video Team, especially Stephanie Rudzik and Reed Petersen, helped us experiment with more video content. We had so many dreams, and we realized that if we wanted to accomplish them, we were going to need to hire more passionate creators. This summer we hired Kimmy Workman to join our podcast, Izzy Perrino to help with various content creation, Kyler Alvey to run our new Geeks Play series, and Chris Swensen as a full-time geek blogger. We had become the biggest single team on K-UTE Radio, and the largest online content producer by far.

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So today, one year from the day we officially switched from a Radio Show to a Podcast, we’re changing again, from a podcast to a full-on multimedia platform with it’s own website separate from K-UTE Radio. This will allow us as a Geek-focused team to provide our audience with a more streamlined experience of content they care about, and allow K-UTE to go back to a music-first site and not get overrun with our antics. K-UTE Radio still owns The Geekwave, and The Geekwave will continue to be part of our department and team, because it still projects K-UTE’s core value: To use entertainment media to bring the university community closer together. But now it stands as a separate content vertical of Student Media, along with K-UTE Radio, The Daily Utah Chronicle, and Wasatch Magazine.

So check us out at thegeekwave.com, and also check out our brand-new YouTube channel at youtube.com/c/thegeekwave. And to all current fans of The Geekwave, let me take this moment to say I can’t thank you enough. It’s the support of our audience that drives us each and every day to put so much of our thoughts and our time into this project. Thank you so much.

 

~~ Jarom “Solar” Norris, K-UTE Broadcast Manager and Executive Producer of The Geekwave

K-UTE’s New Look

You may have noticed some changes in our website, particularly on the top menu that hangs out on every page. Or you may have seen a fancy new image show up at the beginning of our lastest video. As part of K-UTE’s fresh new look for 2015, we’ve finally gotten around to changing our logo! Let me tell you a little bit about our thoughts going into making this logo:

  • The swirls are gone! In a way, I’ll kind of miss them. K-UTE’s logo has included swirls for as long as I’ve been here. But for those of you who work in design, you can probably guess that the swirls were a massive pain. Plus, they muddled up the area around the logo and made it awkward to try and put on a dark background. This new logo was designed to be clean and streamlined.
  • We kept the dark charcoal color (#272727) from before. We really like this dark grey, and feel like it gives the logo an edge that a regular black just couldn’t. And that edge was important to us – K-UTE’s style has always been a little rough and colorful, even as it’s tried to be modern and innovative. We think the combination of Charcoal and Red does a good job portraying this. And we’ve added a softer grey (#E9E9E9) to our palette, for use as a background or to fill in lighter letters.
  • The Block U is no longer the most prominant part of our Logo. The big reason for this is to make us more distinguishable from all of the other organizations at the U, to call more attention to the K-UTE Brand. The Block U is still a part of our logo though – situated right on the microphone, to symbolize that we’re still the voice of University Students. We’ve also switched to using Utah Red to further emphasize our ties to the University Community.

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We’ll be releasing a style guide soon for press and partners who need to use our logo.

But let’s give a big thanks to the Talent that went into this logo design: first to our Sales Graphics Designer Alyssa Jorgensen, who laid the groundwork for the design direction, then to our own EJ Orschel, who came up with the design structure we liked, and finally to the amazing Cooper Ferrario, for doing the final polishing and making the logo exactly how it looks now. (Fun fact: On Cooper’s Website you can currently see one of the logo designs we didn’t go with. It’s still really good!)

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Let us know what you think of the new logo, either in the comments section below or on our Facebook page!

 

~~ The K-UTE Radio Directors Team

K-UTE Radio: Fall 2015

Hello Beautiful Listeners.

This summer has felt much longer than it actually was, as I had the chance to watch K-UTE Radio grow within a changing Student Media. Many days have been spent sitting around our conference tables, in our offices, and even in the studio, discussing and debating what the best move is for K-UTE. First we had to decide why we were looking for the best move in the first place. Luckily that was easy – It’s for our listeners and our team. Everything we do is for our listeners and our team.

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I’m very happy to be writing to you from our brand new website. It’s much sleeker and more organized than our old one, and our team has put a lot of care into its design. This website is especially great because it allows us to add a brand new part of K-UTE Radio: a platform for Campus Podcasting. Right now we have four great shows to listen to: The Sports Saloon (our Utah Sports show), The Geekwave (our Geek-themed talk show), Brunch with U (a News Commentary show), and The Rostrum (a new show where we interview a different person of interest every week). Be sure to check them out, you can find their full episode lists at any time by clicking their art on the home page or under the “Shows” menu at the top of our website. We’re still working out the kinks on this podcasting thing, so that should be fun for a while. We’ve also tried to set up our website to become a great place to host content that is produced outside of Student Media. If you or your organization is already producing a podcast, send us a message through our fancy new Contact Us page.

We’ll also be bringing you a host of new blog and video content over the next semester, which we’re super excited about. And our Schedule is brand new too! With shows led by a host of excited producers, hosts, and DJs, we really hope that these shows we’ve created will last a long time, so you’ll know that you can listen to Local Music on Crimson Venue everyday from 3-5 for the rest of your time here at the University, and hopefully beyond! And with brand new shows dedicated to Country, Jazz, Latin, and even Broadway Showtunes, we think there’s something for everyone, whether they be DJs with their own taste in music, or listeners with the vast array of tastes that we have on campus.

K-UTE 2015 Schedule

Now is the best time to get involved with K-UTE. With so many things growing and changing, we want energetic students to get involved in helping us make lasting decisions. If you’ve ever thought it would be fun to DJ your own show, create a podcast about something you’re passionate about, or get experience in the Media Industry, now is your chance. Just hit the “Join Our Team” button on the front page. We look forward to hearing you on air.

Everything we do here at K-UTE, we do with people in mind. We want to tell the stories of this campus, through music, talk, blog, and video. We want to give our staff the opportunities to build something they’ll be proud of. And basically, we want to give the people what they want, as much as we can. Please send us feedback if you have any, and continue to rock out. Go Utes!

 

~~ Jarom “Solar” Norris, Broadcast Manager

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