For those that are unaware, Salt Lake City has a pretty poppin’ underground hip hop scene. It is filled to the brim with dope upcoming artists that drop new music on the regular. One of these artists that drops a lot of quality music is Agustist King.
King dropped his latest project Blow Lake City on December 24th. The project contains 14 tracks and spans 36 minutes. Upon release of the project, King also published a new music video on YouTube for the track “Gold Medals”. King also plans on dropping more music videos to go with the tracks on this project, so be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel to watch those when they arrive.
According to Agustist King himself, this project took him about a month to complete. He worked with producers such as Rob Blo, Geno Beats, Jal Main, Joseph Hernandez, and Wesley Thompson. He believes that this project showcases his versatility as an artist and puts him on a versatile platform moving forward with his career. You can listen to the project via iTunes, Spotify, and purchase it from independent music source cdbaby.com.
If you have yet to listen to K-UTE Radio’s Hip Hop Drip interview from October with Agustist King, be sure to check that out and listen to this new project. The interview is chock full of interesting conversation with Agustist including the reasons why he loves making music, his takes on the current music industry, and much more.
Where to find Agustist
Follow King on Instagram at “agustistking” and visit his website at agustistking.com for more links to his music and merch. Find his music on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Music by searching “Agustist King”. Keep it locked on K-UTE Radio’s Hip Hop Drip show from 4-7pm weekdays to hear his music live on air.
From “The Christmas Shoes” to “Dominic, The Italian Christmas Donkey”, many of us have the misfortune of hearing cloying Christmas music on the clock at work or while out and about Thanksgiving onward. To spread a little holiday cheer, and maybe save some of you from the ledge you might throw yourself off of if you hear “I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas” one more time, I’ve compiled a playlist of Christmas alternatives.
From Joan Jett to Julian Casablancas, you likely won’t hear these songs piped through any shopping centers anytime soon (the Lana Del Rey cover of “Santa Baby”, for instance, was ripped from an Instagram video and has never been officially released). Nevertheless, many of these tracks have become seasonal essentials in my household, and I’d like to pass some of my favorites along. Enjoy, and happy holidays!
I’ve filed through the best new releases for December across all major streaming platforms, so that you don’t have to excavate through them yourself. Enjoy!
Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson in Sorry To Bother You (2018)
Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Now streaming on Hulu
One of the best from the most recent Sundance Film Festival, this whip-smart satire is set in Oakland in the not-too-distant future. The film opens with Cassius Green (Lakeith Stanfield) interviewing for an entry-level position doing outbound sales at a call center. The film goes absolutely off the rails from there, and explores values dissonance in the modern age in ways that are shocking, subversive, and laugh-out-loud funny. Tessa Thompson’s statement earrings (in more than one sense of the word) are worth the price of admission alone.
Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (1989)
When Harry Met Sally… (1989)
Now streaming on Showtime
Let’s be honest: most of the holiday movie streaming options this year are abysmal. While I might be tempted to watch some made-for-TV Hallmark movie, or Love Actually for the umpteenth time, or even the Michael Shannon furry movie, I’m leaning towards New Year’s offerings this time around. hen Harry Met Sally… a staple for alternative NYE plans, packed with Nora Ephron’s signature sharp dialogue. As we also approach the anniversary of Carrie Fisher’s passing, now is also a good time to appreciate some of her underrated roles, including her turn as Sally’s close friend and confidant Marie.
A dog who sounds an awful lot like Jeff Goldblum in Isle of Dogs (2018)
Isle of Dogs (2018)
Available December22 on HBO Now
At this point in Wes Anderson’s career, you either find him charming or cloying. I definitely lead towards charming, especially with something like Isle of Dogs. I personally love stop motion animation, films set in Japan, and every dog I have ever met in my entire life, but what really makes the film stand out is its usage of language. Aside from the dogs, and select scenes with American exchange student Tracy (Greta Gerwig) and an English interpretor (Frances McDormand), all dialogue is in Japanese without subtitles. This leave us as an audience to both question the reliability of the relayed information from our translators, how subjective an “accurate” translation can be when certain words may not capture the precise emotions or ideas when shifting roots and alphabets. We are also made more aware that Atari’s (Koyu Rankin) experiences and feelings in adolescence are something more universal.
Heather Graham in Boogie Nights (1997)
Boogie Nights (1997)
Now streaming on Amazon Prime
After playing ping-pong from one streaming platform to another this past year, one of my go-to film recommendations returns to Prime. Boasting in insane ensemble cast (Julianne Moore? John C. Reilly?? Don Cheadle??? Philip Seymour Hoffman????) and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Boogie Nights follows the rise and fall of a young porn star in the San Fernando Valley. A classic found family story set in the backdrop of 70s glamour and 80s excess, Boogie Nights remains an essential contemporary cult classic, and will forever change the way that you listen to Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl”.
On December 11th Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” tour finally hit Oracle Arena in Oakland, California after numerous delays. According to him this is his last headlining tour, so tickets were a hot commodity come the day of the show. Luckily for you I was able to experience this show and I have a full recap here.
The opening act for this show was Tupelo, Mississippi’s own Rae Sremmurd. If you’re unsure of who Rae Sremmurd is, they are a duo composed of brothers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee. The show was scheduled to begin at 7:30pm, and the Sremmurd brothers arrived right on time. When I heard about the show originally and saw that Rae Sremmurd would be opening, I wasn’t too sure that they would be a good fit since their music differs drastically from Gambino’s.
To start their set off, the Sremm boys performed their hit single “No Type” off of their debut album Sremmlife. This was the perfect party starter because every hip hop fan should at least be familiar with the track. It got some energy pumping into the crowd immediately that was sustained during their entire set.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was wrong about my assumption that Rae Sremmurd wouldn’t fit a Childish Gambino show. Rae Sremmurd did a great job opening for Gambino because they kept the crowd interested with a mix of turn-up tracks and more chill ones. They are more well-suited for smaller venues so that the crowd can be involved, but they did a surprisingly great job in an arena setting.
Gambino finally appears in Oakland
After taking a 30 minute breather from the hype that Rae Sremmurd brought, the crowd was ready to see their beloved Childish Gambino in the flesh. As the clock struck 9pm, the arena went black and the beat began to build. He was finally here, for real this time.
Gambino came out to “Algorythm”, which is a yet-to-be-released track that was only sent to those who bought tickets to the show, and the arena went absolutely nuts. No one could believe that Gambino was finally performing in Oakland again after being forced to cancel his previous couple shows that were scheduled there.
After performing “Algorythm”, he addressed the Oakland crowd of 17,000+ and then performed one of his latest singles “Summertime Magic”. He then jumped right into classic tracks “The Worst Guys” and “Worldstar” from his sophomore album Because The Internet. These tracks were amazing to see in person and the lighting and dancing that accompanied them was spectacular. It was moments like this that made fans grateful that Gambino decided to postpone some of the tour dates after he broke his foot in October.
And he vanishes…
Following the Because The Internet songs, he suddenly vanished. As fans looked around in confusion, a monitor next to the stage lit up and showed him walking through the lower level concourse and into the crowd to perform a powerful rendition of “Stand Tall”. The next stretch of the show was filled with more cuts off his 2016 album Awaken, My Love! including “Have Some Love”, “Boogieman”, “Riot”, and “Terrified”.
Next up was a fan-favorite performance of “This Is America” that had the whole place rocking and singing along. He left the stage after this track and then ended up coming out for the best encore that I’ve seen yet in all my years of going to concerts.
Encore tracks included “Sober”, “3005”, “Sweatpants”, and the track named after the city he performed in, “Telegraph Ave. (Oakland by Lloyd)”. It was the first time in years that Gambino performed “Oakland”, and it was by far the best moment of the night for me. It was simply beautiful and something that I won’t be forgetting any time soon.
During the course of my life thus far, I’ve experienced many different concerts in a variety of cities and types of venues. Anywhere from small and intimate venues to sold-out arena shows, you name it and I’ve been to one. But this show was truly special for so many reasons.
First of all, as great as the music is when played through simple headphones or car speakers, it is so much better in an arena setting with thousands of fans screaming every word and jumping with joy. Seeing the passion on Gambino’s face as he bared his soul and shared his music with the crowd shows just what a great performer he is.
Second of all, the lighting and visuals were something to behold in their own right. Gambino utilized everything he possibly could of in order to create a beautiful experience.
Overall, this concert was fantastic. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more, and I implore you to catch Childish Gambino in concert if he somehow tours again in the future. It is worth it in the truest sense.
In 2017, Netflix put out the show Atypical. A show that hit in a way that most people wouldn’t expect. Atypical follows 18-year-old Sam Gardner. Sam is on the autism spectrum and is trying to figure out how to live in the 21st century.
He goes to therapy, tries to understand love, and deals with the hard times of being a teenager. Sam has a younger sister Casey, who really tries to guide him as an older sister would.
Casey, who is 16 when the show starts, acts as a bigger sister to Sam, who is 18. She looks out for him and is one of the people he calms down too. She loves to tease him, and prank him, even if he is on the spectrum.
Sam is much more sensitive to little things and communicating with him can be a little harder; Casey has been his rock. Even his parents want him and Casey together at all times so Sam is constantly taken care of.
All is fair in love and war…right?
Love is a big topic in the show and how people with autism deal with it. People who are on the spectrum understand things differently than someone who is not on the spectrum. You have to communicate more clearly and be specific for them to understand.
Certain things will really freak a person out with autism such as really loud music; it could really get them to have a panic attack.
Sam becomes “smitten” for Paige Hardaway, well he doesn’t know he is smitten for her at first. Paige is merely helping Sam and looking out for him. She is the one to make the first move on him and basically ask him out.
Sam goes to therapy for help on love and the therapists gives him advice such as to buy gifts, write notes, etc
Sam and Paige are very real and the display of love and dating in this show for someone on the spectrum is accurate.
To be a civil human being to a person on the spectrum you should know there are three levels to Autism.
High-functioning autism: needs support, patients social and communicative skills and repetitive behaviors are only noticeable without support.
Autism: needs substantial support, patients social and communication skills and repetitive behaviors are still obvious to the casual observers even with support.
Severe autism: needs a lot of substantial support, patience, social, and communication skills and repetitive behaviors that severely impair daily life.
Poster-child for autism
The actor who plays Sam, does not have autism and he portrayed the role of Sam very well, and it seems as if the show Atypical itself is the poster version of autism. I would highly recommend this show.
Travis Scott’s Astroworld Tour hit Denver, Colorado’s Pepsi Center on December 12th as one of the final 10 stops on the first leg of the tour. The show was certainly one to behold, being as it’s Scott’s first headlining arena tour after his massively successful 2018 campaign. But does Scott fair well as a headlining act? That is one of the questions I set out to answer when I attended his concert in Denver, along with having fun and enjoying the music of course.
The first opening act for the show was Harlem’s own Sheck Wes. If you are unfamiliar with Sheck, he’s a newly-signed Cactus Jack Records artist that has a top 10 Billboard Hot 100 single under his belt in “Mo Bamba”. Wes came out shortly after 7:30, which was much appreciated by the crowd. Immediately upon entering the stage, he blasted “Mo Bamba” and raised the hype level of the crowd instantly.
Shortly after Sheck Wes exited the stage, Gunna entered and began his performance. The first track he performed was “Pedestrian” off of his 2018 mixtape Drip Season 3. The crowd was clearly excited for Gunna and showed it as he kept his set rolling. He performed tracks off of his Drip Harder, collab album with Lil Baby, including “Style Stealer”, “Never Recover”, and the fan favorite “Drip Too Hard”. The whole building was rocking by the end of his set, eager with anticipation for Travis Scott to show up.
Honestly, Sheck Wes and Gunna were the perfect openers for a Travis Scott show. Their musical styles are somewhat similar and they have a lot of mutual fans. They both were able to hype up the crowd for La Flame and created a good atmosphere as well.
La Flame makes his entrance
While I was gazing at the intricate roller coaster-centric stage design that Travis Scott had created for our viewing pleasure, the arena suddenly went dark.
On the giant circular centerpiece screen was a video that depicted childhood joys such as roller coasters, cotton candy, and the like. The video then stopped and the beat to Astroworld intro track “Stargazing” began with an insanely loud roar of approval from the crowd. Travis Scott appeared from beneath the second part of his stage, complete with a looping roller coaster track, rapping every word of the song. The lighting was spectacular and the pyrotechnics were astounding as the magic is just beginning.
Possibly the best thing about Travis’ set as a whole was the energy level of the whole building for every song. There was a stretch of the show that included six straight Astroworld songs, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard an arena as loud as that one was. Fans screamed every word and jumped up and down as the beautiful lights flashed in front of them.
Later on in the show, Scott finally hopped on the roller coaster that was part of the stage design to perform “Can’t Say”. The coaster elevated La Flame above the crowd and slowly rode him throughout the arena. When he got to the other platform, he introduced Houston artist Don Toliver and rode the coaster back to the main stage as Toliver performed his portion of the track. This was an amazing moment and my personal favorite of the entire evening.
To finish off the show, Scott played “Antidote”, “Goosebumps”, and “Sicko Mode”, the three biggest tracks of his career thus far. Each of the songs got a roaring reception from the crowd and everyone seem quite happy with how the show turned out as they were leaving.
In case you didn’t know, Travis Scott has a reputation for being one of the best live performers and always having a wild crowd. That reputation will be upheld based on what I experienced at this show. Even though I wasn’t in the general admission floor section right next to the stage, it was definitely a night to remember for everyone in the standard seats.
The atmosphere of the show wasn’t the only thing that was perfect; the setlist, lighting, and visual effects were also top notch. The first leg of the tour raps up in Portland on December 22nd, but a second leg is supposed to be announced soon. If you are able to attend a show on the second leg, I would definitely recommend it. It was a 10/10 experience and exactly what I was hoping for.
If you’re like me, today’s political and social climates may have made you feel angry, resigned, or wishing to rise above and become better. You’ve gone to protests. You tried to find truth and reason in the news as to why U.S. citizens have done what they have, and instead come back with more questions. You’ve looked inside and found that because these feelings are so new, you need to develop new ways to cope. Music can be a great help here. In discovering new music, we can find new perspectives on old thoughts or find inspiration and encouragement when we need it most. Through my friends and my own curiosity I’ve found these bands whose music does for me all of these things. I present to you StayWild, Wicked Bears, and Uvluv.
Art by Stay Wild
Stay Wild is a hardcore/punk band with a strong, progressive message. Their most recent single, “Stay Pissed“, embodies the need to continue to fight for change in our world. The song reminds us why we fight, what makes us mad and why we are justified in this feeling. Stay Wild also actively promotes social causes, including advocating for a feminist viewpoint through their lyrics on other E.P.s, and offering charitable merchandise to give profits to the Rainbow Railroad to grant relief to LGBTQ+ people persecuted in Chechnya.
Photo by John Barkiple
Wicked Bears is maybe the most existential music I’ve heard. Lyrics from their songs present a sort of optimistic nihilism. Their song “2049” offers the view that, while in the large scale of things our problems are insignificant, they matter to us. It offers a nice solution to the chaos and seeming lack of reason or morality we see so blatantly today: nothing actually means anything, so we just have ourselves and what entertains us (like death metal).
Photo by Uvluv
Uvluv, a local progressive rock band with soulful elements, presents instrumentals that keep your attention in their variance while the lyrics offer encouragement and paths of thought for reflection and self-improvement. “Rise In Love“, for example, tells you that pain from heartbreak can be turned into ultimately finding yourself. The vocals are wonderful purely in how they sound and the comforting lyrics are a bonus. They recently released a new album, Afterglow, which capitalizes on their progressive sound, and focuses on the difficult emotions that come from the passing of a loved one. It’s a fantastic representation of emotional intelligence, shattering the notion that we should ever repress emotion.
Music can provide outlets for a wide range of emotions, and it’s good to keep a variety stocked in your listening libraries. Hopefully you find this new music as cathartic as I have. Enjoy!
In early October, first reactions from critics to Bohemian Rhapsody began to surface on social media. Rami Malek’s performance as iconic Queen frontman Freddie Mercury received nearly universal praise, while the film itself was described by one such early viewer as a “glorified Wikipedia entry“.
Upon wide release and a strong box office performance, Rhapsody straddled the line between a 59% “rotten” and 60% “fresh” score (which it currently holds) on Rotten Tomatoes. It also holds a mixed-to-negative score of 49 out of 100 on Metacritic, another popular review aggregator. Meanwhile, the film has a 95% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, an 8.2/10 user score on Metacritic, an average 5/5 star fan review on Fandango, an 8.4/10 on IMDb, and a 3.7/5 average from the notoriously discerning Letterboxd community.
The main issue that many seem to take is that Rhapsody fits into many common tropes associated with musical biopics. However, the same can be said for more well-regarded films, such as 2015’s Love & Mercy (90% on Rotten Tomatoes, 80/100 on Metacritic). This is also to suggest that tropes are not present in all consumed media, as they serve as nothing more than tools within the plot and visuals to more easily convey the story or message to an audience. And it’s not like we didn’t just see a fourth iteration of A Star is Born either.
AIDS on the Silver Screen
Another review from The Economist criticizes Rhapsody’s portrayal of Mercury’s struggle and inevitable death due to AIDS-related complications. “[The film] robs Mr. Malek of the chance to portray his subject’s most poignant years,” writes ‘J.T.’, “it might prevent an excellent performance from being a prize-winning one, of the sort that earned Oscars for Tom Hanks in Philadelphia (1993) and Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (2013).”
Tom Hanks in “Philadelphia”, 1993
While Mercury’s experiences living with the AIDS virus are addressed, shown, and portrayed as “no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise” as he croons in “We Are The Champions”, the film ends on a celebratory note with Queen’s legendary Live Aid performance. Some pre-credit onscreen text addresses Mercury’s cause of death and the efforts of the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity organized by the remaining members of Queen to assist in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS. Philadelphia famously ends with Hanks’ Beckett lying in his hospital bed, telling his partner that he is ready to greet death. In Dallas Buyer’s Club, Leto’s Rayon–a trans woman portrayed by a cis male actor, no less–dies tragically in the hospital as well.
This is not the first time that we have seen critics respond negatively to more upbeat fair with a queer voice. In fact, beloved pieces of LGBTQ cinema have often been disregarded or torn apart by the film community.
Take the films of John Waters, for instance. Waters is one of the most prominent figures in the world of gay filmmakers, known for his creative partnership with beloved drag queen Divine. One of the most iconic Waters-Divine collaborations is Pink Flamingos, a gleefully offensive black comedy about the filthiest woman alive, and an essential cult classic in its own right. Roger Ebert famously refused to give Flamingos a star rating, and wrote of its 25th anniversary restoration that “with any luck at all […] I won’t have to see it again for another 25 years.” The original trailer for the film itself is a compilation of audience and critical reactions, several of which are negative.
Indie darlings featuring queer voices have also met initial critical resistance. But I’m a Cheerleader, a teen romantic comedy set inside of a conversion therapy camp, screened at Sundance and the Toronto International Film Festival during the 1999-2000 festival season. It was also panned before finding a cult following.
Support for Marginalized Communities
Even acclaimed films following characters with queer identities are often overlooked for recognition during awards season unless they are tinged with sorrow. Todd Haynes’ 2015 film Carol was famously passed over for a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. Despite six nominations in other major categories including Best Actress for Cate Blanchett, Best Supporting Actress for Rooney Mara, Best Cinematography, and Best Adapted Screenplay, many were left to speculate if the Academy (whose panel was 77% men at the time) was not willing to embrace a lesbian love story with a predominantly-women cast to match. 2017’s ceremony saw a historic win for Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight. Compared to the preceding and following award seasons, this seems to be an exception to the rule.
Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in “Carol”, 2015
Now more than ever, it is important to support films that give voices to marginalized communities that have been underrepresented on the big screen. While films with negative reviews can and do bring in audiences (I’m looking at you, Suicide Squad), critical reviews can make or break pretty much anything that isn’t backed by a major comic book franchise. I felt a deep connection to Mercury’s story, and was refreshed by the film’s portrayal of both his bisexuality and his Parsi heritage. If we aren’t seeing the same reception from critics, the least we can do is give these important films word of mouth.