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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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“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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VanJess “Homegrown” EP Review

If ChloeXHalle had a younger set of sisters, it would be Nigerian R&B duo VanJess. The pair certainly started out in a similar fashion, though VanJess is in a musical lane of their own.

Enter their latest project, Homegrown. As the name suggests, thematically the album centers around the duo’s journey from home recordings to being signed to label RCA.

For such a short record, Homegrown is so full of depth you’ll feel satisfied by the end of it all. The duo still has room to grow, but the arena is theirs for the taking.

A fun note about the album artwork: VanJess used inspiration from 1970s Nigeria.

This is where we come from,” they said in a recent interview regarding the album’s title. “This is our essence, this is our soul, but we’re not going to exploit it. When we were coming up with our album artwork, we were inspired by the idea of what it would be like to be quarantined in the 1970s in Nigeria.

“Come Over” certainly does a fantastic job of conveying the latter theme. The song makes its entrance as an immaculate blending of 70s disco (especially the groovy bassline) and 90s vocal stylings. Specifically, I heard so much of T-Boz of TLC that I had to check and make sure they weren’t featured on the track.

We then slip into “Slow Down” with the “Darkest Night” by Lafayette Afro Rock Band sample, also famously used by Wreckx-N-Effect on “Rump Shaker.” The ladies are at their best here, their vocals in near-perfect sync throughout the entire song.

I particularly enjoyed the lyrics, “I like it when you’re simple. Treat me like a lady. Do things with a purpose. Do things with intention.” You better let these dudes know!

From there, we slide into “Roses,” which serves a more dancehall mood. It’s not their most sonically cohesive track, and much of their message gets a little muddled and difficult to understand at first listen.

However, I do appreciate the shift from “You better come correct” to “I can be vulnerable if you’re ready.”

The chorus, in particular, further illustrates this with, “You got to be sensitive with roses. Fragile but open if you want this. Never been lost in someone this fast. Gimme love, all of me is yours to take.”

“Curious” is an obvious standout and finds the duo in their “Trap&B” bag, musing about an encounter with two presumably shy men. This track is appropriately feature-heavy, with the duo joined by Grammy-nominated R&B singer GARREN and Hip Hop artist Jimi Tents. I’m a huge Destiny’s Child fan, so I immediately caught the “No, No, No” similarities.

Still, I wasn’t a huge fan of the lyrics on this one, which included: “You just my type. Definitely in my mind. Passed me by again. And you looking right. We thinking the same thing. So why you acting shy? It’d be better if youJust come up and say hi, hi, hi.”

“Dysfunctional” steeps us into a more groovy electronic vibe with the duo returning to the “respect my love and my time” theme. This was also a return to a more cohesive sound that was easy to digest.

The rejection of toxic love rings true with lyrics, “I don’t wanna play, yeah, no games. I’m just tryna stay, yeah, yeah, yeah. Don’t say “Hey” in the light, but you’ll pull up Wednesday night. It’s like this every time.”

“High & Dry” featuring KAYTRANADA gives us more of the same sonically with the Trap&B aesthetic. I’m not a fan of their vocal stylings on these kinds of tracks, but overall “High & Dry” pleases way more than it offends.

Lyrics such as, “Something in the water, that’s why you can’t wait to taste it. Tip-toe in the garden of my Nubian oasis,” offer clear picture of the duo’s desire for sexual liberation, which is a nice change of pace.

Oddly, though not my favorite track, it has the best lyrics on the entire album.

“Caught Up” sees a return to another groovy alternative wave, reminiscent of many early 80s hits.

With the lyrics, “Heavy breathing, as I’m sinking. Know what it means. In too deep and suffocating. You’ve captured me. I’m in misery without your company,” I notice a trend for VanJess to jump back and forth between similar ideas and themes.

It’s not too much of a distraction, but it does become a little redundant after a while. Still, it doesn’t completely deflate my enjoyment of this particular track.

“Boo Thang” sends us back to the early 2000s with its pop leanings. Devin Morrison’s vocal stylings are right at home with the production. I could instantly picture myself as a teen at the skating rink, waiting for my crush to cruise on by.

The lyrics, especially, remind me of my adolescence with, “I think about you in the morning. I think about when I’m yawning. They think I’m phony, all of your homies. Tell you I’m playing but they don’t even know me, uh.”

Lastly, we arrive at “Part II” with “Come Over Again.” We get a much more slowed-down, baby-making rendition this time around. Once again, it’s trap heavy, but this is the first instance where I feel everything fits perfectly. It’s a great finisher to wrap everything up neatly.

Listen to the full project below:

Final Thoughts

VanJess shows incredible depth and promise as an R&B act. Few seasoned artists offer as much potential as they do, which is highlighted on Homegrown.

Though it has its fair share of lyrical missteps and strange sonic quirks, overall Homegrown serves its purpose. It proves VanJess has plenty of potential.

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The Mandalorian S2 Ep5 Review

It’s the moment we’ve been waiting for. Was it worth the wait?

We got a lot of info dumping this episode, which was inevitable given Ahsoka’s grand entrance. We learned a LOT about Baby Yoda’s past (including his name). Furthermore, an important Imperial antagonist still lives and may make a future appearance.

“Chapter 13” functions as a traditional western and samurai mashup. Mando arrives on Corvus in a newly repaired Razor Crest ready to meet Ahsoka. He stumbles upon Calodan, a city run by tyrranical Imperial magistrate Morgan Elsbeth.

However, Ahsoka’s been busy fighting off the magistrate’s band of soldiers. This made for a cool lone samurai reference, especially with a character like Ahsoka.

Ahsoka and Din’s paths cross, and we learn just who Baby Yoda actually is. Then, we quickly move on to this week’s mission.

Ahsoka’s fight scenes drew me in immediately. It was obvious a lot of time, effort, and attention to detail went into the choreography. Every moment was carefully curated.

Even the cinematography flourished in all the right places. When the reveals happened, the setting allowed them to settle. Corvus appears as a bleak and lifeless place at first glance, much like Ahsoka’s hope for Baby Yoda’s Jedi training.

All in all, it was impressive return for Ahsoka. We may not see her again for a while, but it works. We now have a new objective: find the Jedi Temple. And with Moff Gideon not far behind, I’m sure we’re heading into the best this season has to offer.

The Moff Gideon showdown is coming.

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The Mandalorian S2 Ep4 Review

I wasn’t expecting that, and that’s a good thing.

Okay, I finally conceded to the Mission of the Week format. It’s obviously staying. The showrunners made that clear at this point. Luckily, our favorite duo’s side quest packed plenty of action and foreshadowing.

We find ourselves back in Nevarro (where all the interesting stuff happens anyway) to repair the Razor Crest. Of course, Din gets swooped into another mission because he’s Din. And what is this mission? Destroy some more Imperials, of course!

Except, that’s when the new plot developments start rolling in.

The gang learns that Moff Gideon is, in fact, alive. They also learn via Dr. Pershing (as a hologram) why the Imperials need baby Yoda. My guess? Girl, they trying to make a clone Sith army.

And honestly, if that’s truly the plan, I’m REALLY going to side eye the First Order still using Storm Troopers. Like what is their purpose besides selling new toys? Okay never mind. I’ll stop being cynical.

Back to “Chapter 12.” We end our side quest with a high speed chase and a scene with Gideon revealing he’s placed a tracking device on Mando’s ship. So, expect a showdown in the season finale at least.

We lost some of the momentum from last week’s episode, but I’m okay with it. There were still plenty of important plot beats to move things forward. Now, with the Razor Crest repaired, it’s time to complete our quest.

Ahsoka Tano is coming!

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The Mandalorian S2 Ep3 Review

Now we’re getting somewhere! Quite literally.

In my earlier reviews, I lamented at the lack of clear plot progression. “Chapter 12” succeeded in knocking my opinions flat on their backs. We not only meet other, native-born Mandalorians. A crucial detail about our protagonist materializes: he’s been indoctrinated.

Fans have long speculated Din was adopted by the Death Watch during the Clone Wars. Now, we have our confirmation, which gives Din MUCH more depth and opens him up for quite a few character moments.

There’s still the Mission of the Week format, but it works here. Clearly, the showrunners want to fold overarching plot developments into each mission. We just get a little bit more each episode. Viewers like some level of routine, so I can appreciate that that.

We learn the Imperial outcasts have quite a bit of firepower left, led by the incredibly capable Moff Gideon. We also learn the whereabouts of Ahsoka Tano, which is really what we’ve all been waiting for.

“Chapter 12” displays a near-perfect blend of humor, tension, and world-building all in its 30-minute run time. It didn’t feel like a short episode, as there was a lot to process. So, with that being said, maybe I should just trust that the showrunners and their decision to slow-burn us to death.

Clearly, they know when and how to quickly bring us up to speed.

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Megan Thee Stallion “Good News” Review

Megan Thee Stallion’s album Good News has arrived, and problematic men need not apply.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a year for everyone’s favorite Houstonian, but we won’t cover all of that in this post. One, there’s too much to go over. Two, you’re probably already up to speed anyway.

Instead, I want to offer an objective point of view with regards to my album review, one that isn’t clouded by the shenanigans proceeding it. Curious to know my thoughts? I’d hope so since you’re already here. Keep scrolling for more.

I’m Always Here for Dragging Arrogant, Trash Men

Let’s start on the high points. Our girl wastes no time galloping up and down the backs of trash rappers and the clout chasers who support them on the opening track, “Shots Fired.” For so long, I’ve wanted more female artists to call out the male-identified fuckery that dominates hip hop.

It was refreshing to hear her directly address the drama between herself and Tory Lanez, even though everyone’s still talking in circles about wHaT rEaLlY hApPeNeD at this point.

And from here on, the stans are going to drag me for all eternity.

The Filler Disappoints…And Honestly Makes No Sense

I’m going to be honest. Most of the tracks with featured artists sound like outdated filler tracks from early 2000s rap albums. They offer nothing of substance to the record except having the names attached to them.

In fact, the only track that truly sticks out is perhaps “Freaky Girls” with SZA, but it’s hard to go wrong with an SZA feature. Perhaps, after a few listens, they’ll begin to click, but as it stands I’m not impressed.

The Artists & Tracks Seem to Collide With Each Other

Meg has a very distinct flow that, unlike other artists, doesn’t mesh well with certain types of instrumentals. Part of being a rapper is recognizing when your flow isn’t marrying the beat. It’s what separates the pros from the amateurs.

We know Meg can slay it down on a beat when she has the proper setup. There was no reason for the delivery to come across as rushed and thrown together as it did on the majority of the album.

Ultimately a Disappointment

I honestly wasn’t expecting much from Hot Girl Meg, but I wasn’t expecting the bar to be set so low either. For an artist with so much potential, Good News should have been a much stronger effort than what we ended up with.

Hopefully, the sophomore outing will feature more cohesion, less noise, and more compatibility between the artist and the music. Notably, her fans and most of social media seem to like it, so my opinion won’t matter much anyway. Perhaps, that is the “good news.”

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The Mandalorian S2 Ep2 Review

Yup, it’s another dungeon quest and Boss battle.

I’ll give kudos to this episode for trying something different (or for not forcing us to look at sand anymore). “Chapter 10” offers a subtlety in the place of clear plot momentum.

We still have the main objective: find the Jedi. However, as I mentioned in the previous review, we’re still gonna have some sidequests along the way. Thankfully, this side quest manages to shed light on an important dynamic for our protagonist: parenthood.

From the first episode of the series, we knew Mando was going to be conflicted with his feelings about taking Baby Yoda under his care. Heck, it’s a strong possibility he’ll be quite reluctant to part with the adorable blob once he meets the Jedi.

So what role does the Mandalorian want to fill for his charge? We’ll need a few more episodes for that question to be completely answered, but “Chapter 10” succeeds in foreshadowing what will surely be a critical character moment.

Nevertheless, “Chapter 10” still feels like an unnecessary episode, but it’s at least better than “Chapter 9” and its return to the Wild West schtick. With only 6 chapters left to go, this needs to be the final episode where we get no new developments.

I’m sure Disney+ wants to keep the “I only subscribed for Mandalorian” numbers up, so here’s to hoping we there’s a narrative shift next episode. We’ve had enough side quests. It’s time to continue with the main storyline.

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The Mandalorian S2 Ep1 Review

Are there other important planets besides Tatooine?

The Mandalorian kicked off its season premiere with more of the same and came across as more of a retread of earlier story elements.

After a fantastic season finale, many fans were expecting a narrative shift that would more directly follow the reveals and outcomes of the season 1 finale. However, it seems season 2 wants to take the slow approach, which is fine. I’m all for subverting fan expectations, ESPECIALLY Star Wars fans. We’re annoying.

Still, it would have been nice to see some sort of nod or tease thrown in the mix. Where is Moff Gideon? Where did Cara Dune end up? Is Greef Karga planning a new way to double-cross someone? It would have been nice to see what they’ve been up to (and plotting).

An episode like “Chapter 9” wouldn’t be so glaringly tedious if not for the fact that we’re only getting 8 episodes this season. Did we need to get sidetracked in Mos Eisley yet again? Did we need another Boba Fett tease? Just wheel the guy out already!

Not every episode needs to be a mind-bending, plot twisting, explosions and cool poses extravaganza, but more of the same won’t cut it this season. There are other, more creative ways to make us wait for our questions to get answered.

All in all, this season still holds plenty of promise. The “go find Jedis” mission rings very much like an RPG video game objective. However, from the looks of “Chapter 9,” we’re going to be going on a lot of side quests until things get interesting.

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David Tribble “Thrown” Review

Sometimes, we have to find the royalty within ourselves, a task David Tribble knows can elude us. Luckily, Thrown won’t just try to inspire you to find it. Its mission is to reveal you in the process.

The title Thrown is filled with double-meaning. It’s meant to invoke the feeling of being “thrown” into disarray while doubling as a word play on “throne,” represented in the title image. As an artist who balances his faith with his music, the musical content strives to find the perfect equilibrium between the two. For the most part, it’s charming.

Production-wise, Thrown isn’t a challenging record to take in. Most tracks feature only an acoustic guitar with Tribble’s non-threatening vocals to lead the way. “Feathers,” the first track on the album, gently seeps into our spirit with its Sunday devotional-style lyrics “I won’t grow weary. I won’t grow thin, and I fly like the eagle flies.” Right away, you’re aware of what you’re in for. What follows is more of the same.

“Wife and Daughter” dives a bit more into the storytelling angle as Tribble slowly takes his time to allow the scenes of the song to play out. “Headed down to Texas, west on the interstate, ended up on my front door knocking with his head. He was holding a picture of my wife and daughter, carried the cross of my Lord and savior.”

Soon, we’re lead to the title track, “Thrown.” Fittingly, it encapsulates the true meaning of the album as a whole.

“I’m down here on this basement floor. All I wanted was a glance and nothing more. But now I’m crawling in the dark looking for a light to bring me home. Cuz everything else’s been thrown.”

“Ready to Go Then” puts an echo-y acoustic spin on a very familiar subject: heartbreak. One of the standout tracks, “Ready to Go Then” captures the lingering, free-falling feeling of watching someone you love walk out of your life.  “I don’t want to let to you go, but I know that you are ready to go then.”

“Bible on Tap” eventually brings everything full circle with a more obvious approach to merging Tribble’s religious background into the forefront.

“What if the Bible was on tap, and we all started drinking, drinking it down, catching a buzz on what it teaches about love and hope and forgiving our enemies?”

Where Thrown succeeds is its ability to appeal to the casual listener as well as the religiously disciplined. There are songs dedicated to the Christian faith, but there are also tunes that are appropriate for any occasion. Tribble’s latest work has a catchy duality factor to it, both welcoming and heartbreaking. Strangely enough, it fits together competently.

Check out more from David Tribble here!