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Review: Kendrick Lamar’s “good kid, m.A.A.d. city”

I’m really into rap right now, probably a little too much. After last month’s A$AP Rocky concert, I can’t stop listening. It got to the point that my friends had to sit me down and remind me there is more music to be heard than solely Danny Brown. I realized I had to broaden my pallet; there is such a thing as overplaying an artist. But while staying within the confines of my beloved rap genre, I began to expand, listening to various other artists. In my expansion, I began listening to Kendrick Lamar. As his 2010 album, Section 80, was critically acclaimed, immense hype surrounded his latest release, good kid, m.A.A.d. city. I had to give it a listen. And though I can’t call it groundbreaking, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” is nonetheless a great album.

Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)

Although I don’t agree that “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” is the instant classic it has been deemed by various music publications, it still is ultimately a success. The production is varied, encompassing pseudo- electronica and hard guttural beats, with Lamar effectively
navigating his way lyrically through each song. The lyrical content on the album is varied, and while contained mostly in today’s usual rap themes of women, money, poverty, there is creativity in all he says. The sole problem I have with “good Kid, m.A.A.d. city” is that it forces the listener to ask, is Kendrick Lamar really that good or is hip-hop today just that bad? Rappers are often given too much credit; if an artist manages to say something mildly creative or original they are excessively praised. Kendrick Lamar embodies this to an extent. Although in “good kid, m.A.A.d. city,” Kendrick is able to avoid the Lil Wayne pitfall of rhyming “hoes” with “hoes”, overall he struggles to say something new. His lyrics are indeed good, but occasionally formulaic: while Kendrick strives for so-called “intellectual hip-hop,” lines like “I pray my dick get big as the Eiffel tower/so I can f*ck the world for 72 hours” don’t help his cause.

With my “Lil Wayne is killing hip-hop” rant aside, I need to emphasize that, while I don’t view “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” as wildly original, it still is to me the best rap album of the year.
I have no clue what that says about the hip-hop genre as a whole, but regardless, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” is definitely worth a listen.

-Robert Cornell

Radio Diversity Day: December 5


Think radio programming should be more diverse?
Want to hear more local DJs across the country on the airwaves?
Want to see more local acts on the air?

Well so we do.
And so does the podcast group Soundtrack of the Week, who have initiated what they are calling
Radio Diversity Day.

The idea was inspired by the movie Corporate FM as a way for radio listeners to demand more diversity in radio broadcasting, both freeform and commercial. Essentially, SOTW proposes that on December 5th, 2012 radio listeners call into their local radio station to demand improvements to public radio, including broader programming, increased local participation in the form of “live, local DJs and local programing to serve the public interest”. Listeners should also call their local congressmen and elected officials to demand legislative action to defend and improve public radio. The radio is public property! Don’t let it slip away!

For more information on this event and how to get involved, check out this page. And be sure to get involved and call your local radio stations and legislators this December 5th!

Featured: We Are the Catalyst // Crash Symbols

We Are the Catalyst and Crash Symbols in partnership with WOBC present:

“Dope Mountain Sound”
–a mix tape featuring a cross section of old, new, and unreleased music from the Crash Symbols catalog.

Crash Symbols is a casette label with headquarters in West Virginia and North Carolina. Founders Jheri Evans and Dwight and Liz Pavlovic efforts have gained the attention of publications such as WIRED Magazine, NBC, Altered Zones, Rebel Magazine and many more. Their extensive catalog features recording artists such as Blackbird Blackbird, Beggars in a New Land, SPORTS, Born Gold, Honeydrum, and MillionYoung.

We Are the Catalyst is an emerging network and publication with content generated entirely by and about young artists. The We Are the Catalyst website launches December 5th. Until then catch Catalyst Radio on the air, Thursdays 11am-12pm on WOBC 91.5 FM and check out the We Are the Catalyst Facebook page for media and information about these rising artists.


My Search for New Music: 50s and 60s Country

School is great, Oberlin is fun, but it’s easy to get sick of everything. I spent about two weeks in a hazy, caffeinated state in a corner of Mudd preparing for finals and writing papers, effectively listening solely to either Girls’ Father, Son, Holy Ghost, James Blake, or Ariel Pink’s Before Today. After finals ended, I started summer with a tired, college-sucks mentality, and above all, I was completely sick of my music library. In trying to relax and de-stress, I went to a lot of movies, laughed a lot, and heard some intriguing soundtracks. Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson’s latest film, particularly helped me in my search for new music, by essentially delving into music of old.

Although Hank Williams is considered the “father of country,” I had never heard his music. As I finished watching Moonrise Kingdom, the two Hank William songs featured in the film, sparked my curiosity; I essentially spent my entire summer listening to 1950’s and 1960’s country. The songs are simple, stripped down, but have meaning and purpose, whether it be the insatiable urge to “hit the road,” or the cliché of finding lost love. This music seems so natural, so pure, and there wasn’t a synthesizer or drum machine to be found, which I found too appealing. I got so enveloped in 1950’s and 1960’s country that I now have a radio show on WOBC solely dedicated to this genre. It’s on at 6am on Wednesday. Below is some good music from the time period, somethings you might hear on my show.

Hank Williams Ramblin’ Man

Lefty Frizzell Saginaw, Michigan

Glen Campbell Wichita Lineman

Marty Robbins El Paso

Why Does Joseph Gordon-Levitt Look Like Bruce Willis? A Film Review

The Apollo is now open. It has spent a long year in remodeling, but now students in Oberlin can go to the movies without needing a car. Although small, the theatre, in my opinion, has succeeded in its selection of films. Last week it was Looper and Hotel Transylvania, this week it is The Master and Arbitrage. As I found solace knowing that Taken 2 was not showing, I entered the Apollo for the first time last week. Looper and Hotel Transylvania were screening, allowing me the choice between a time- travel, action movie starring Joseph Gordon- Levitt and Bruce Willis, or a child- friendly animation headed by Adam Sandler as Dracula. I decided upon Looper, primarily because of its intriguing premise and the general positive reception surrounding the film. In its enveloping storyline, efficiently developed plot, and general excitability, Looper was all the success it was proclaimed to be.
Looper primarily focuses on the dichotomy between present and future, with time travel serving as a bridge. Joe, played by Gordon- Levitt, is a present-day Looper, responsible for killing those sent back to his time to be “erased” by futuristic criminal organizations. The profession has its perks, with good pay and a lavish lifestyle, yet ultimately proves problematic for Joe upon his realization that his latest target is actually his older self. As Bruce Willis enters the fold, playing “Old Joe,” the film evolves from time- travel action movie, to an actual pure, emotionally driven film. In this sense, the movies sole means of success no longer clings on appealing action sequences or the fluidity in its occasionally convoluted plot; it hinges on its characters and the length they are willing to carry Looper.

Throughout the films progression, Gordon-Levitt and Willis are able to convey a profound humaneness upon Looper, juxtaposed to the bleakness of the distant utopia that now resembles the world. While neither character truly personifies moral integrity, each character has his own redeemable cause, allowing the viewer to sympathize with “the Joe’s” motives. In particular, “Young Joe” dominates the film upon encountering Sara, played by Emily Blunt, and her son Cid. The scenes when these three are together provide hope to the film, effectively depicting “Young Joe’s” growth from Looper to person. As Looper reaches climax, “Young Joe’s” newfound selflessness manifests, and it is in his sacrifice that vague promise concludes the film.


Homeboy Sandman is a rapper from New York City who is signed to the holy grail of all hip hop labels– Stones Throw, home to Madlib, Dilla, Doom, and a veritable treasure chest of other hip hop luminaries. Sandman’s latest release, First of a Living Breed, is his most refined release to date, and should hopefully give this earnest hip hop revivalist the recognition he deserves.

The keyword with Homeboy Sandman, and what sets him apart from other rappers, is grassroots. Through interviews, live shows, and ciphers, he has displayed an earnestness and clarity of purpose that is a breath of fresh air in a hip hop culture where the hype outweighs the substance a million to one. This grassroots ethic is embodied in his latest video, where Homeboy Sandman walks down a New York City Street in a single take, getting dap from fans and admirers, throwing down in an impromptu cipher, and signing records– all while rapping the lyrics to his ode to things staying the same. “People ask me if my life changed. Here’s what I might say: Not really.” These days, hip hop is high on excess, escapism and fantasy. Homebody Sandman brings it back to the source, by rapping straight from the heart about his experiences with a distinct lack of excess and frills. This music isn’t underground or mainstream– it’s just hip hop, plain and simple. This, for me, is what makes Homeboy Sandman an important hip hop artist.

Not Really – Homeboy Sandman

Here’s an excerpt from an article Homeboy Sandman wrote for Huffington Post:

“I’ve had the honor of becoming friends with Crazy Legs of Rocksteady Crew, the legendary breakdancing crew that was featured so prominently in early hip hop movies like Style Wars and Wild Style. A conversation that I had with him about hip hop’s birth (which he was there for in person in the 70s in the South Bronx) helped me formulate my theory about why hip hop has become the most popular musical genre among youth in the entire world, to where Rio de Janiero is denser with graffiti than Queens, and kids in the Czech Republic wear baseball caps and call each other n******. It’s because somehow all those broke South Bronx kids captured the essence of cool. The spirit of it. Couldn’t be cool because of money, everyone was broke. Couldn’t be cool because of where you lived, everyone was in the slums. Couldn’t feel good about yourself because of your school because schools were a nightmare, or even because of your family as families in the South Bronx in the 1970 were plagued with every societal ill that society has to offer. But if you were an athlete, you could be a bboy. If you had some charisma, you could be an emcee. If you were artistic, you could be a graffiti writer. This was the inception of hip hop. Being cool without anything. Without being any certain type of person. Being cool only because of your talent.”

Underground System Afrobeat at the Sco, 10/11

On Thursday, October 11 at 10 pm, Underground System Afrobeat will bring their Brooklyn-ized stamp on the classic afrobeat style to the ‘Sco. An 11-piece ensemble led by trilingual frontwoman Domenica Fossati (vocals, flute, percussion), the band packs a ton of energy into their performances and is sure to turn the Sco into an all-around get-down. The show is free and open to the public.