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Pink Sweat$ “Pink Planet” Album Review

Pink Planet offers listeners one safety net after the other. It’s hard to get angry listening to this album. Thankfully, it manages to charm way more than it offends, though its length may be a turnoff for casual listeners.

Pink Sweat$ (real name David Bowden) harnesses a unique superpower: kindness. From the onset of hearing his lyrics, we know what he’s about. There’s no unnecessary mystique or pontification. He’s a regular guy who wants people to be happy. It’s refreshing and completely needed in today’s musical landscape.

The Review

“Pink City” opens up the album with classic Gospel leanings a la organs and echoing background choirs. It’s an inspiring number with lyrics, “Yeah, it’s hard in the city. Where I’m from, mm. Tryna live, gotta make it. Make it out of the slum.”

“Heaven” is guaranteed to turn even the hardest grimace into a smile with its sugar-coated honesty. One of the standout tracks, Bowden soars when given traditional R&B production. Lyrics include, “It’s more than a thrill. I’m following what’s real. And don’t get mad when they don’t understand.”

Now to my favorite track from the album. Don’t be surprised if you hear me make a cover of “Paradise.” Pink Sweat$ shows he’s versatile when it comes to different musical styles. The acoustic track breezes through all the right places, and I still find myself pressing repeat on it constantly.

Notable lyrics include, “We fell apart too many times, yeah. But we always land back hеre some way, somehow. Whеn I close my eyes, I’m feelin’ so divine. It’s like paradise, paradise.”

“Magic” feels like “Heaven Part 2.” There’s nothing new or remarkable about it. Yes, it continues the album’s central theme, but it doesn’t feel…necessary?

Notable lyrics include, “And I don’t know what you did. But every time we touch, it feels like magic. It’s like magic, oh. I don’t know where we’re goin’. But every time, a cold sweat when we’re right here. When we’re right here, oh.”

We get just a wee bit naughty with “So Sweet” and its groovy guitar and lyrics, “Lay your head upon my shoulder, yeah. And tell mе all about your dreams. Don’t want no space between еach other. I wanna feel you all over me, yeah.”

My goodness! We’re already at third base, Bowden? Slow it down, my love! Otherwise, it’s another short but ultimately inoffensive track. I forgot it as quickly as I heard it.

“Chains” is probably my least favorite song, if only for its lyrics. Otherwise, I adore the melody and stripped back production. Still, I just can’t get behind these lyrics, “‘Cause baby, I’m a slave for you (Yeah, ayy). You got me wrapped up in your chains (Yeah).”

Yeah, you lost me there, buddy.

By the time we make it past the “Interlude,” the album starts to become a blur. “Beautiful Life” and “PINK MONEY” felt like the exact same song, and by the time “At My Worst” arrived I was struggling against a wave of sugar-induced nausea. Still, it’s probably the most quintessential Pink Sweat$ song on the album, so it makes sense.

The rest of the album offers more of the same, a standout being “Not Alright,” a The Weeknd-flavored banger that arrives too late. “Honesty” brings Pink Planet to a fully-realized nap, and I honestly feel conflicted on whether or not that’s a good thing.

Final Thoughts

Pink Planet’s mission is to delight and charm, and it accomplishes both in its first half. With a shorter track list, more variety in lyricism and production, and songs long enough to make a lasting impression, this could have been a much more solid debut.

Nevertheless, it leaves plenty of room to grow, and Pink Sweat$ showcases that he’s fully capable of personal and artistic growth. You don’t need to hear every song on this album to enjoy it, but I do recommend a listen.

Find the album below:

What did you think of the album? Sound off below!

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Is It Brutal Honesty or Just Brutal?

We view brutal honesty as the ultimate honesty.

We tell our loved ones we’re “keeping it real” before we proceed to eviscerate their life choices. Then, they get defensive and rail back on us for hurt feelings. We, in turn, claim we’re just “calling it like we see it.”

But is it all even necessary?

At what point does brutal honesty become just brutality? Are we lying to ourselves about what it means to honest with others? I have a few points to consider.

Are Your Beliefs the Absolute Truth?

It’s important to distinguish fact from opinion. Just because you believe something to be true, it doesn’t mean it’s reality. Let’s consider the phrase, “I just tell it like it is.” Exactly what is it? Think about what you believe the person’s problem is versus what they’ve actually told you.

For instance, I had an interaction with a friend recently. I told them I was having a bad day. They proceeded to say “Quit complaining and do something about your life. I don’t want to hear you moan and groan anymore until you do!”

I was actually at a point in my life where things were going exceptionally well. Most of my days went swimmingly. That particular day wasn’t going great. So, where did my friend get everything else from?

Turns out, they were basing their opinion on events that happened to me several years ago. They remembered when I was at a low point in my life and for some reason hadn’t caught up since. That goes back to belief versus facts. The fact was me saying I had a bad day. The belief was my friend thinking my life was in shambles and in need of fixing.

See the difference?

Are You Helping or Hurting?

Brutal honesty usually comes across as negative. I’ve personally never heard someone say, “I’m gonna be brutally honest with you. You’re an amazing, talented person.” Instead, I’ve heard, “I’m going to tell you something you might not like…” followed by an unnecessarily harsh monologue.

Think about it. Is negativity towards someone designed to help? Doesn’t positive reinforcement work better than tearing someone down just to “toughen them up?”

Is your intent to truly help someone or simply get something off your chest? How you say something is just as important as what you say. Do you ever offer praise or encouragement? If honesty is the goal, shouldn’t those aspects also be a focus?

Consider the Relationship Dynamic

Too often, brutal honesty occurs in a relationship that is unequal (or perceived that way). A high-level exec at a company may berate a lower-level employee. Afterwards, that exec might “flower it up” by calling it tough love. However, if the tables were turned, would this be acceptable? Probably not.

If a person perceives themselves to have it “more together” than someone else, they’ll usually feel comfortable giving that person advice. However, would the person who has it “together” be okay with the other person administering tough love? Probably not.

Butal honesty too often gets rooted in a need to feel superior while belittling others. Consider how you’d feel if someone you perceived to be “less than” gave you the same advice you give others.

Why Do You Need to be Unkind?

We live in the age of social media and its perceived cancel culture. Naturally there will be those who resist what they feel is censorship. In a time where facts often get discarded in favor of opinions, we also misconstrue what counts as honesty.

Truth doesn’t have to be unkind. It doesn’t have to hurt or demolish. So, why do some of us gravitate towards the brutality of it? The world is filled with cruel words, especially on social media. We, in turn, believe that we’re helping others by feeding into that negativity by giving our unfiltered opinions.

Except, it doesn’t have to work that way, especially with people we care about. Being able to tell the truth without hurting is a sign of emotional maturity and empathy. People have feelings, and they’re allowed to protect them.

How Do We Gain Emotional Maturity?

It starts with a sense of self. In my book, Life After Low Self-Esteem, I talk about the many methods I used to overcome self-doubt and low emotional intelligence. The good news? Anyone can overcome any of the items mentioned. Check it out, and let me know what you think!

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Joyce Wrice “Overgrown” Album Review

Nostalgia continues to overpower us. Overgrown, Joyce Wrice’s debut album, clearly establishes that. Refreshingly, Overgrown consistently succeeds in exploring a theme of maturity.

Interestingly, YouTube introduced me to Joyce Wrice by chance. I wanted to find new indie R&B acts, and she was the first one I stumbled upon. “Ain’t No Need” quickly became a morning staple before work.

So now we arrive at Overgrown, an album determined to transport R&B back to its basics. I’m not mad at it. I’ll be the first to admit R&B needs to be rescued from creative bankruptcy. Joyce deserves props for taking a traditional approach amidst the Trap&B movement.

The Review

“Chandler” opens up with sweeping violins and jazzy background vocal stylings. It’s an opener I’d expect from 2000s staples like Mya, Tamia, and so much more. “Chandler” has a clear goal: transportation. It drops us into a realm meant to be filled with overture. R&B’s sparse production as of late makes it an immediate standout.

“Falling in Love” continues this idea, propelling us with a slick, video game aesthetic. Featured singer Lucky Daye’s vocals blend with Joyce’s beautifully. The lyrics, “If I’m willin’ to give you all of me. I don’t wanna stay somewhere that I’m not wanted” resonate. They further establish the album’s central theme.

The single “On One” arrives just in time for those mandatory summer evening cruises with friends (or solo). It also sets up an interesting narrative. Lyrics, “We be going back and forth. Acting like you so unsure. But everytime you’re here, it’s like I’m all yours” showcase the fragility and uncertainty that come with love.

Freddie Gibbs offers a classic “2000s featured rapper” vibe. I can’t hate on it, though. It doesn’t really take away from the song, or maybe I’m just desensitized to it by now.

“Losing” is perhaps my favorite track on the album based on its lyrics alone. “I’m loving the idea of you in my head. But that’s not the real you, you could do so much better. Now that I know the real you, I could do so much better.”

Yes ma’am! *Snaps fingers*

“You” acts as a sort of jazzy refrain to “Losing.” I’m a sucker for slowed-down, jazzy production, and this hits all the right spots. It’s criminally short, serving as a sort of interlude, but it offers just enough to still satisfy.

“Addicted” feels like typical Soundcloud fare honestly. However, the track serves to showcase Joyce’s sonic diversity. The lyrics continue the theme of “I know I should do better, but…” which I giggled at. Still, it was mostly enjoyable.

“I know by now I should be better. If I’m speaking truthfully. And honestly, I’m feelin’ kinda lonely. And I had you on my mind like a million times now.”

“Must Be Nice” sounds like it was pulled straight out of the year 2005 and remixed for today. I could have sworn I heard LeToya Luckett make something similar. That’s not a dig by any means! Masego’s vocals massage the track with lyrics like, “If we take time off, we’ll never rebuild, yeah. We cannot construct with different people, no.”

“Think About You” mostly fills up space and isn’t too memorable to me. Even the lyrics, “Take me outta my head. ‘Cause I know love. And it ain’t there. You make me feel it where my heart is,” don’t offer anything substantial. However, it’s a microscopic misstep, and I’d rather stumble in a similar fashion if I had to. The production still slaps, if nothing else.

Then we get to “So So Sick,” arguably the best track on the album. Featuring a slick, jazzy “They Don’t Know” by Jon B sample, this is Joyce Wrice at her best. Memorable lyrics include, “But when I move on and find somebody new. Give ’em all the love that you could’ve had. Had to cut you off, now you got it bad. Now you so sick, I’m with somebody new.” It serves us an updated “I Bet” by Ciara, and I love it!

“That’s On You” slows everything down as we reach the credits. Featuring a mix of Japanese and English lyrics, it’s a great song (among many) to chill and vibe out to. And as someone who’s over the “vibe music” that’s not to be taken lightly.

Finally, we reach “Overgrown,” the title track. A soft, piano-driven ballad, it serves as an understated culmination of the overarching themes of the album: growth & maturity. I was impressed with lyrics, “You will be scared, unprepared sometimes. And don’t you choose to lose your faith. You are loved, you are enough.”

Final Thoughts

Overgrown triumphs as a debut album, a departure from most R&B projects that focus on crushes and heartbreak. Joyce Wrice wants to establish boundaries and expectations from the start. It’s like we’re getting a do-over of the 2000s with all the mistakes we made back then in the back of our mind. I definitely recommend a listen.

Listen to the full project below:

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“The Ancient Magus’ Bride” Returning With New Anime

Time to get swept up by the Elias/Chise romance all over again! The Ancient Magus Bride returns to our screens September 10th.

According to the manga’s official website, we can expect an original anime disc (OAD) concerning the release. The site dubs the feature a “witch daughter-in-law” original animation trilogy. So, expect it to be in 3 parts!

The OAD will be included with the limited editions of the 16th, 17th, and 18th volumes of the manga.

The OAD’s lengthy title reads Mahō Tsukai no Yome: Nishi no Shōnen to Seiran no Kishi (The Ancient Magus’ Bride: The Boy From the West and the Knight of the Mountain Haze). Modern anime titles love making us read, don’t they?

The Ancient Magus’ Bride received widespread acclaim for its visual presentation as well as story-telling. As of writing, it holds a near-perfect score on Crunchyroll and an 8/10 cumulative score on My Anime List.

Will you be tuning in on September 10th? Which character are you most excited about seeing again? Sound off below!

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“Seven Deadly Sins” Movie Premieres July 2nd

It’s coming! The Seven Deadly Sins: Cursed By Light (Nanatsu no Taizai: Hikari ni Norowareshi Mono-tachi) premieres July 2nd.

However, that’s not all. According to a teaser released from the official website, it’s time to say goodbye to the anime. A new poster released reads, “Farewell, Seven Deadly Sins.”

Original manga author Nakaba Suzuki penned the storyline for the Cursed by Light, which features an all-new story following the events of The Seven Deadly Sins: Dragon’s Judgement.

Fans will recall Dragon’s Judgement adapts the New Holy War arc of the manga. The arc sees Elizabeth and the gang racing against time to prevent Meliodas from becoming the new demon king.

Dragon’s Judgement suffered a 3-month delay due to COVID-19, premiering January 6th instead of October 2020. Still, it looks like Seven Deadly Sins: Cursed by Light won’t have any issues. July will be here before we know it!

Are you excited about the new film? Sound off below!

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“The Devil is a Part-Timer!” Returning With Second Season

It’s official! After nearly 8 years, The Devil is a Part-Timer! will return with a second season. It certainly took them long enough. Sheesh!

This includes the main Japanese cast, though if you’re like me you watched the dub on Netflix. No word yet on the English cast returning.

The announcement came yesterday at the “Kadokawa Light Novel Expo” event.

Check out the cast list:

For those needing a refresher after the nearly-decade long wait, the synopsis reads:

“After being soundly thrashed by the hero Emilia, the Devil King and his general beat a hasty retreat to a parallel universe… only to land plop in the middle of bustling, modern-day Tokyo!

Lacking the magic necessary to return home, the two are forced to assume human identities and live average human lives until they can find a better solution.

And to make ends meet, Satan finds gainful employment at a nearby fast food joint! With his devilish mind set on working his way up the management food chain, what will become of his thirst for conquest?!”

Excited to see the return of Satan and friends? Who’s your favorite character? Sound off below!

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What to Expect from Your First Therapy Session

Any therapy session can seem daunting. Opening up to a stranger feels like a monumental task, or even downright impossible. So, having a few misgivings about the first session is normal.

Still, your first therapy session doesn’t have to be frightening. In fact, with a little prep work, you can expect a positive experience. Let’s go over what to expect and how you can ready yourself beforehand.

How to Prepare

How do you prepare for a therapy session? The answer varies for everyone. We all have have different needs and expectations.

It helps to start by identifying your emotions. What are you feeling right now? Do you have any concerns about therapy? What do you feel consistently troubles you?

You don’t have to just focus on what’s “wrong.” Think about a goal you want to accomplish after you start therapy. Where do you want to be after, say, 5 sessions?

Keep a running list and read that list out loud to yourself. Tuck it away somewhere safe for you to reference later. You’ll be needing it.

Honesty & Establishing Needs

Here’s the thing. Therapy doesn’t work without honesty. And therapy is something that you’re going to have to work at. Many people hold onto the misconception that simply attending sessions leads to improvement.

I wish I could say it was that simple. Unfortunately, it’s not. There may be times where you have to dig up some uncomfortable stuff. And it will feel EXHAUSTING. That’s part of the process.

That’s why it’s important to communicate and establish boundaries with your therapist. Express what your triggers are as soon as possible. Your therapist will work to ensure you feel comfortable enough to open up to them.

What Questions Should I Ask?

It’s expected you’ll be curious as well as cautious. In fact, any therapist worth their salt expects plenty of questions and concerns.

You may hear words or phrases you don’t quite understand. Ask for clarity and don’t be afraid to speak up. Your therapist wants to help you. You shouldn’t feel intimidated or ignored.

Refer to the list I mentioned earlier and bring it with you if you’re worried you’ll forget any concerns you might have.

What Happens After Your Therapy Session?

Hard part’s over right? You made it through your first session! So, now what?

Now, it’s time to do a mental and emotional check-in. What are you feeling? HOW are you feeling? Identify your thoughts and emotions as clearly as possible.

Consider also how you felt about your therapist. Did you feel a connection? Do you feel like they were listening to your concerns? Not every therapist will be a good match, and that’s okay. You may end up trying out several before you find someone you feel comfortable with.

Develop a Strong Foundation

Many instances of depression or anxiety can be traced back to low self-worth. A positive outlook on life can be achieved through improving self-esteem. My book, Life After Low Self-Esteem, shows how that can be accomplished.

Remember. Therapy isn’t a quick-fix, and it doesn’t have to be terrifying. With preparation and patience, you’ll succeed.

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Being Lonely Shouldn’t be Terrifying

Lonely. It’s a word few of us say out loud.

We know someone who seems lonely, and sometimes we perceive them to be miserable. After all, we’re conditioned to believe “miserable” and “loneliness” go hand-in-hand.

So, we don’t talk about how lonely we are. Instead, we push that feeling away when it materializes. We don’t want to be miserable or be perceived as such.

However, we don’t have to fear being alone. It’s possible to work through those feelings of loneliness while eventually establishing new bonds and relationships. Let’s go over a few ways to accomplish this.

People Want to Hear From You. Reach Out

As I mentioned before, shame often accompanies loneliness. We feel like we have it stamped on our forehead, so we avoid others. We retreat into our safe places, running from the idea of someone else knowing.

The truth? It’s not as bad as we think, even if someone else knows we’re lonely. In fact, it’s an opportunity to show that it’s not a big deal.

We hesitate at times to reach out because we think “If they’re not reaching out, they must not want to hear from me.” Honey, if they’re your friends/family, of course they want to hear from you. Reach out!

Break the Negative Thought Cycle

Be kind to yourself. And honest.

Sometimes, we’re going to get it wrong when it comes to emotions. We all do it. It’s normal, and it inspires growth. That’s why it’s so important to be able to identify what we’re feeling and respond appropriately. We’re able to break those negative thought patterns this way.

Sometimes, we create these self-centered views based on our negative emotions. We assume people don’t like us, which is why we’re lonely. However, if we’re honest about our situation, that’s usually not the case.

We have friends and family who love and support us. We’re just focused on the emotion that’s most intimidating. Happiness doesn’t scare us as much as loneliness does.

When we’re overcome by loneliness, it’s important to stop and identify it.

Join a Community. Help a Cause

Perhaps now you’re ready to do something about feeling lonely. So, where do you start?

Many people find benefit in volunteering or joining cause. It’s a chance for individuals to meet new people with shared interests. If you’re new to an area, for instance, it’s a great way to not only help your community but get to know it as well.

It’s also a great time to practice those social skills! Not everyone thrives on social energy, and that’s fine. Some people are more introverted than others. Some are shy and need a little time to warm up to new faces. With time and the momentum gained from interacting with like-minded individuals, it’s much easier to establish bonds and friendships.

Beyond that, volunteering combats the effects of stress, depression, anxiety, and much more. What you put into your community ends up coming back to you. That’s something to reflect on!

Remember Your Sense of Self

It all starts with knowing who you are. In my book, Life After Low Self-Esteem, I touch on practices to establish a positive self-identity. Check it out and let me know your thoughts.

And remember. Loneliness is nothing to fear.

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“WandaVision” Series Review

***Note: The following may contain spoilers for major events in the WandaVision series. Read at your own discretion***

I’ll admit. When I saw the first two episodes of WandaVision, I thought, “Pleasantville did this so much better.”

Luckily, that wasn’t really the point. While that film and this series share a few common themes, WandaVision focuses more on grief compared to Pleasantville’s commentary on personal and political oppression.

We knew walking into this series what to expect: pretty much nothing. Marvel chose to focus solely on mystery and intrigue, a major first. Each episode drew us in and slowly unraveled the central tragedy of the story.

We knew something was incredibly off with Wanda. We simply didn’t know how deep, which was thrilling! As a fan of creepypastas, I saw the symptoms. A missing frame here, an extended pause there. We were in for a treat to say the least.

Episodes 1 and 2 had a job to do. We needed to be immersed in this creepy sitcom universe. Of course Episode 2 featured much more comedy than Episode 1, but both got the job done. The dinner table scene in Episode 1, in particular, scratched my creepy itch.

Still, it was just a promise of what was to come, not necessarily a fully-realized narrative arc. Of course, the promise would be kept as time went on.

Each episode became a journey into the future as we arrived in increasingly modern sitcom realms. We learned that the outside world and SWORD knew about Westview and had their own plans for its residents.

New characters (old comics characters) showed up such as Monica Rambeau and the villainous Agatha Harkness. Agatha’s entrance, in particular, was the standout performance of the entire show.

Then there was the “Pietro” red herring, which I wasn’t a fan of. Ralph Bohner? Bohner? Evan Peters could have honestly just played himself if they were going to go that route. Looking back, we really didn’t even need him at all to progress the story.

Monica Rambeau’s insistence on making excuses for Wanda and trying to save her at all costs gave me Magical Negro vibes. Though, it wasn’t enough to completely write her off. The writers made sure to draw the connection between the two concerning grief. This, in turn, made her motivation a lot more believable.

The finale devolved into the standard Marvel fare. There’s a climactic battle, the big bad shoots out a few sarcastic one-liners, etc. I hate to call it a de-evolution as it was visually fantastic for a web series, but alas. We’d seen it before.

However, none of that takes away from the emotional ending we were “gifted” with.

Wanda’s universe wasn’t meant to last. Her children, Vision, the mental chokehold she had on the Westview residents. She could only find her way out through acceptance. We were never going to get a happy ending. The first wonky frame clued us in.

At its core, WandaVision is a show that explores the stages of grief, with almost each episode being a different stage. Grief and trauma can be unsettling and horrifying. WandaVision succeeds when it fully embraces these concepts.

Overall, the series serves as an outstanding entry into the ever-growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even outside of the MCU, there’s no show quite like it, an exploration of grief that manages to be timely in its ironic usage of old sitcoms.

What did you think of the series? Are you excited for what’s to come in future Marvel releases? Sound off below!

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Fruits Basket’s Final Season Arrives April 5th

Yes, that’s right! We have an official release date for the third season of Fruits Basket.

Dubbed Fruits Basket the Final, the anime will premiere on April 5th of this year. Funimation will stream Fruits Basket with an English dub. The main tagline reads, “The final banquet begins.”

Those familiar with the series recall new seasons typically airing in April of previous years. The first season aired in 2019, while the second aired in 2020. The second season, in particular, aired after COVID-19 delayed simuldub streaming in March of 2020.

Japanese-Chinese Boyband WARPs UP performs the opening song “Pleasure.” For the ending theme, dance vocal group GENIC closes out each episode with “Haru Urarara” (Beautiful Spring).

This season features the same cast as the previous seasons. Fans will recall series creator Natsuki Takaya famously did not call back the voice actors from the original adaptation, opting for different talent. She also serves as executive supervisor for the new series.

As a result, the anime covers the entire manga. Will you be watching? Sound off below!