“Men Are Trash” – a Rant

Three words, three syllables, and an unlimited amount of butthurt. Men. Are. Trash.

As common as it is for men to be told by other men to "man up" and/or ridiculed for being "sensitive" (the hypermasculine nigga's battle cry), it would seem the only time it's socially acceptable for men to embrace their sensitivity is when women are holding us accountable for being pieces of shit. Funny how that works.

Now, I do NOT like the phrase "men are trash." However, I understand why it is used. Much like how transgender model Munroe Bergdorf's recent statement that all white people are racist is a critique of the systems that perpetuate racism and socialize white people to be racist, as opposed to an individual, "men are trash" is not a direct attack toward any of us niggas! Instead, it's a critique of the patriarchal society we live in. It's a critique of the behaviors that those of us who benefit from this male-centric society see no problem with, even as we blame rape survivors for their own trauma and justify the murder of transwomen. Men are socialized to be sexist! If you actually listen to women when they discuss their experiences, you already know this. Unfortunately, it's far too common for men to simply dismiss and deflect, rather than understand and empathize.

prime example as to why men are trash

Despite the pressing concern that one in three women worldwide has experienced either physical or sexual violence, men cry out bullshit they don't really care about, like "what about male victims of abuse?" Well, A recent Twitter rant just goes to show that men aren't nearly as committed to showing their concern with real action as they are with trolling women about their trauma. Deflections like these are used on the daily to silence women. However, they're not reserved for women alone. Men who live and breathe toxic masculinity have a habit of dismissing other men on the subject as well. Any attempt to defend women online or champion their causes will surely be met with blatant homophobia and the accusation that you're "simping." To me, this is very telling.

There is a large group of men who genuinely believe that a man respecting women and not wanting to see them abused by other men is only doing so with an ulterior motive, or is homosexual. Men are so used to feigning respect for women in order to get some pussy that they don't even know what the genuine thing looks like and even conflate the act with some sort of homosexual display. Absolutely ridiculous, right? Yet, this same group of men gets offended when the very behavior they are so used to, the very behavior they weaponize against other men, gets exposed for being the trash it is, especially by women.

There are plenty more points to make, but the main point of this rant is that most men don't give a single fuck about the self-serving bullshit that comes out of their mouths in the pathetic attempts at defending their trash behaviors and ideologies. Niggas don't even listen to women when they to attempt to shine a light on these legitimate concerns. They just cry about how three little words hurt their feelings, while women try to cope with the fact that there is no place where they are 100% safe from violence. So, in conclusion, and since men love being trash, if you hate being called trash, the only way to end it is to STOP BEING TRASH. The correlation is so simple and yet......nvm.

If you can't stop being trash, at least take your own advice and stop being so sensitive. It's only three little words.

AO’s OST Presents: Captivating Cult Classics

Alliteration is dope.

JSRF: Jet Set Radio Future

A re-imagining of Jet Grind Radio, Jet Set Radio Future depicts a version of Tokyo in which a mega enterprise corporation known as the Rokkaku Group oppresses the city's inhabitants by taking away the freedom of speech and expression. The setting of developer Smilebit's cult classic enhances every aspect of the game by making each component a tool of resistance! From the incredible cel-shaded art style to the gameplay itself that has you painting graffiti and knocking over police, everything you see and do in Tokyo-to is full of expression. Of course, this also applies to everything you hear. Take "Birthday Cake" by Cibo Matto:

(Fun fact: Cibo Matto founding member Miho Hatori provided the voice of Noodle for the virtual band Gorillaz)

Widely acclaimed for its unique music style, the soundtrack of Jet Set Radio Future features a number of unusual artists not often heard in the mainstream, including BS 2000 and The Latch Brothers, the respective side projects of Beastie Boys members Adrock and Mike D. Moreover, by combining the musical genres of Rock, Funk, Hip Hop, EDM, Jazz, and J-Pop, the soundtrack manages to be an eclectic, energetic, and multicultural display of defiance and revolution. Of the full 30 tracks heard in-game, a handful are remixes of composer Hideki Naganuma's original songs found on Jet Grind Radio. By re-imagining songs like "Let Mom Sleep" and "Humming the Bassline," much like the game itself, the quality of this soundtrack is further enhanced by breathing new life into old fan favorites.

The majority of songs on the soundtrack have minimalistic lyrics, but this proves not to be a detriment. Tracks like "I Love Love You (Love Love Super Dimension Mix)" and "The Concept of Love" are easily some of the best songs from Jet Set Radio Future and, along with tracks like "Aisle 10 (Hello Allison)" and "Funky Dealer," among the most recognizable. This game comes highly recommended, especially since a number of songs don't appear on the official soundtrack CD. One such example and a personal favorite is "Rockin' The Mic (The Latch Brothers Remix)" by The Prunes:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=AJgba9Chb1o

 

Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 4

Persona is the largest and most popular spin-off from the Shin Megami Tensei series and, while both have spawned multiple cult classics, Persona 4 is one of the top ranked games of the entire franchise. Taking place in the fictional Japanese countryside of Inaba, and inspired by the work of mystery novelists, developer Atlus' fifth installment of this series revolves around a group of students trying to investigate a series of murders related to the rumored "Midnight Channel." The soundtrack worked on simultaneously with the development of the game's story and spoken dialogue, features an impressive range of emotion and descriptive lyrics. The theme song "Pursuing My True Self" is meant to reflect the characters' internal conflicts:

Guitarist Shoji Meguro primarily composed, arranged, and produced the original score of Persona 4, with lyrics written by Reiko Tanaka and vocals by Shihoko Hirata. According to him, songs like "Reach Out to the Truth" were intentionally used during battle sequences to emphasize the characters' inner strengths and ability to overcome their struggles. A "Reincarnation" album featuring full-length cuts of the game's vocal tracks and extended mixes of instrumentals made it to the top of Billboard's Japan Top Albums chart! While familiar songs like "Heartbeat, Heartbreak" and "Your Affection" get absolutely breathtaking remixes, "Aria of the Soul," a recurring tune throughout the series, has remained virtually unchanged. This is because Meguro believes "the shape of the song had been well-defined."

The music of this series is so popular that an annual "Persona Music Live" concert has been held each year since the release of Persona 4 in 2008. There's just something about a live performance that is just as good if not better than the recorded track that makes you appreciate the art and music that much more. To me, it sounds just like this aptly named track. "Heaven:"

AO’s OST Presents: The Iconic Sound of 90s Video Games

Let's get right to it.

Donkey Kong Country

Known as Super Donkey Kong in Japan, Donkey Kong Country was published by Nintendo in 1994 for the SNES and re-released on 6 other consoles over a span of 22 years. Owing more than a modicum of its success to composer David Wise, developer Rare's redesign of creator Shigeru Miyamoto's original character is the third best-selling SNES game of all time.

The sounds of natural environments like jungles, oceans, caves, and other areas that appear in the game, mixed with the rhythmic support of percussions, combine to form the atmospheric music that this game is famous for. "Cave Dweller Concert," a somber tune, really takes advantage of this technique by using something as simple as the sound of water droplets hitting the floor and the echoes they make to create an auditory experience that enhances your immersion. Moreover, the melodic track "Aquatic Ambiance" sounds like something you'd hear during a radio station's Quiet Storm format, and is my favorite track on the OST next to the Donkey Kong Country theme itself! However, should you want one song that encompasses all the creative genius of this soundtrack, look no further than "DK Island Swing":

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Sonic the Hedgehog has been a household name since the early 90s. This bestselling Sega franchise has spawned a plethora of video games, with its latest release being as recent as last year. Many well-known musicians, from Bowling for Soup to Megadeth and even the King of Pop himself, have contributed to the series' musical composition. However, my favorite soundtrack in the franchise comes courtesy of a J-Pop record producer named Masato Nakamura!

The music of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was designed from the atmosphere and images of the game's stages and treated like a film score. Nakamura believes that his freedom over the creation of the soundtrack is what allowed him to create "such melodic tunes and unusual rhythm patterns." One such example and a perfect one if you ask me is the music of the "Mystic Cave Zone." Moreover, Sonic the Hedgehog 2 included multiplayer gameplay that came with alternate music for some of the playable zones. The second version of "Mystic Cave Zone" is both alike and completely different from the first. Still, both tracks are absolutely brilliant! While I think the more dynamic songs at the end of the game are best, starting with the calming confidence of the "Sky Chase Zone" and continuing until the end of the game, one of the most recognizable songs of the entire franchise comes from the "Chemical Plant Zone" early on:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?list=PL25231EEC685914C9&v=B-OGGxJPlU0

PaRappa the Rapper

Who could forget the mid-90s rhythm game, published by Sony, that defined an entire genre? If we're gonna talk music in video games, one game has certainly earned its place in the discussion. Taking off the rose-tinted glasses, PaRappa the Rapper still manages to be a video game icon despite being a bad game, all thanks to the music.

The full soundtrack is 44 tracks long. However, most people know it for the songs featured throughout each of the game's six stages. Each song being a mixture of two or more genres: Hip Hop, Pop, R&B, and Jazz. Undoubtedly, the most famous of these being "Chop Chop Master Onion's RAP." Yet, despite being called a rap, a Pop musician turned Game Developer, Masaya Matsuura says that only the music of the final stage, titled "Live Rap w/ MC. King Kong Mushi," is close to being considered Rap. The catchiness of this soundtrack can not be overstated, and that's certainly not a bad thing when you find yourself failing repeatedly on a stage and having to play it over again. I'm, surprisingly, still not sick of "Prince Fleaswallow's Rap." There are even a couple full-length songs not included in the main six stages. If fans of PaRappa the Rapper aren't familiar with the song "Funny Love," please listen to it and discover a new reason to love a classic:

Dark Souls: Praise The Sun

“A soul of water,
A soul of stone.
A soul by name,
A soul unknown.

The hours unmake
Our flesh, our bone.
The soul is all;
And all alone.”

When I first read this poem in Clive Barker’s Abarat, the first game in the Dark Souls trilogy was almost a decade away from being made. Yet, it seems so appropriate for summing up the theme of the series.

The Furtive Pygmy discovers the Dark Soul

In the Age of Ancients, when the world was unformed and shrouded by gray fog, Fire came and brought disparity. Then, from the Dark, They rose and found the Souls of Lords within the Flame. Nito, First of the Undead claimed the Soul of Death. The Witch of Izalith, eventual Mother of Demons, claimed the Soul of Life. Gwyn, Lord of Sunlight, claimed the Soul of Light and challenged the everlasting dragons who ruled the land. Thus, when the dragons were no more, began the Age of Fire.

As the embers fade, as all Fire must, Man bears the Curse of the Undead. Descendants of the Furtive Pygmy, the First Human who claimed the Dark Soul, are fated to resurrect upon death. Branded with the Darksign, symbol of the curse, amongst them are those tasked with the Linking of the First Flame and extending the Age of Fire; the Age of the Gods. For the living will rot and turn Hollow if their life loses its purpose; a fate worse than death. However, should the Chosen Undead abandon the First Flame or take it for himself, an Age of Dark will be ushered in and this will all play out again. The cycle of Light and Dark will forever repeat itself. For, as the world ends, time is convoluted and all lands converge upon themselves. All that can remain is the power of Souls. Continue Reading

You Are What You Eat: Raphael Wright

If you follow enough people from the city then you’ve probably heard about Raphael Wright and his attempts to open a Black-owned grocery store on Detroit’s Eastside. In case you haven’t, this entrepreneur, author, and founder of Urban Plug L3C has a passion for rejuvenating our community by tackling social issues and incorporating group investment models that you’ll definitely want to take notice of!

I decided to reach out and learn a bit more about his drive for this project and the change he hopes to bring.

Can you tell us a bit about Urban Plug L3C?

“We founded Urban Plug in July 2016. Our first project was a youth entrepreneurship program called Boss Academy, in which we went over entrepreneurial principles with a group of teenagers. We’ve also provided information on stocks, investing, and real estate to smaller groups. This is the biggest project we’ve worked on so far.”

Can you give us an outline of your current project?

“The plan is to start with one store, learn the game, learn the perfect model to run a successful market and, once that’s covered, introduce the platform for people to pool their money and buy into the enterprise. We’d sell half the store to the community and use the profits from that to start again in another place.”

Does that mean you’re seeking to expand this business model to cities other than Detroit?

“I would love to, but I can’t really say ‘yeah.’ We want to focus on Detroit because that’s where we’re from. We do want to serve as an example that this model can work and for every inner city community to take it on, but right now we’re keeping it in the city.” Continue Reading

Do You Watch “Anime?”

Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and Dragonball Z! Chances are that if you grew up in the 90s then you’ve watched at least one of these shows. Whichever one that may have been was probably your introduction to anime. However, like most kids, you likely didn’t realize this at the time. I wouldn’t realize it myself until sometime in the early 2000s, after Cartoon Network started airing Tenchi Universe on it’s Toonami block and Yu Yu Hakusho premiered on Adult Swim. Since then, I’ve recognized and viewed anime as a product of Japanese animation. That is, until Avatar: The Last Airbender began to air. Since then, and with the addition of similar shows that blur the line of what is and isn’t anime, I’ve had my doubts as to whether or not my simplistic definition was sufficient. So, I began searching for a better definition by acknowledging some of anime’s key characteristics.

Typical flatness and huge eyes aside, the techniques used in Japanese animation are just as distinctive as they are diverse! The variety of artistic elements, such as the use of color and lighting, and the character designs, like the spiked hair of a shonen protagonist and the soft fluffiness of a shojo MC, are testament to the sheer amount of distinguishing art styles that exist within the medium. It’s production tends to center itself around creating as realistic a setting as possible while utilizing camera effects to combine cinematography with hand-drawn art. Moreover, since anime focuses on realism in both movement and image, environments are produced in which audiences can become easily immersed. A great use of this technique can be found in the works of Satoshi Kon, director of Paranoia Agent and Paprika.

Gif of Satoshi Kon's Paprika to illustrate cinematography's use in anime to create realistic movement

Furthermore, the story-telling mechanism of these shows are easily distinguishable. While most American cartoons are intended for children, the themes of anime are multifaceted and complex. In fact, there are five basic types of anime. Each one is focused on a specific target demographic, with content that ranges from imaginative children’s stories intended to teach morals and principles to tales of a violent, psychological, or even pornographic nature about revenge, addiction, and love. Continue Reading

Picking up..Shy Girls

While his stage name sounds like a tag that may appear at the bottom of an article in Cosmopolitan, singer-songwriter, and producer Dan Vidmar is anything but shy. His debut album Salt is full of the same intimacy and seduction as his 2013 EP Timeshare, but with noticeably more confidence in his vocal abilities. This is immediately made clear, giving listeners a hint of what’s to come, with the melodious humming on ‘Intro’ and later, on full view, with a wailing falsetto that brings ‘I Am Only A Man’ to a fantastic finish.

A mixture of Pop, R&B, and Electronic, this album has something for everybody. Songs like ‘Trivial Motion’ and ‘Say You Will’ have distinct pop influences. While both songs are catchy and just the right amount of fun, they aren’t anything spectacular that we haven’t heard from the genre before. On the other hand, ‘What If I Can’ is an energetic mix of electronic and R&B with sultry lyrics on top. However, Vidmar also knows how to slow it down with songs like ‘Time (Hell Won’t Wait for Us)‘ and ‘You Like The Pain Too’. The former is a somewhat nihilistic song that focuses on the theme of time and its fleeting nature, while the latter is an earnest love song about the ways we hurt one another to keep our dying relationships alive.

As for debuts, Salt is pretty solid. Of course, there could be some improvements. At least two of the ten songs, while not bad to listen to, are repetitive and the album doesn’t seem to climax at any point. However, the beautiful piano verses, dramatic synths, moody atmosphere, and Shy Girls’ delivery creates a comprehensive 33-minute album that sounds more like a long poem that can be listened to over and over. It’s an honest and revealing piece of art that’s indicative of a promising future for Shy Girls.

Listen to it for yourself on Spotify.