New sounds: Coloring Book by Chance The Rapper

From the moment the first trumpet slices though the silence and leads us into the soulful rhythmic chant…”And we back…”, Chicago MC Chance the Rapper has your ear. And he doesn’t give it back until nearly an hour (57 minutes) later.

Chancelor Bennet’s follow-up to 2013’s Acid Rap starts off like any other Kanye West produced CD opener – with a grandiose orchestra and the Chicago Children’s Choir. Chance’s Gospel influenced crooner-rap works well against the sound of horns. It’s a versatile style that allows him sing-rap on tracks on like “No Problems” with Lil Wayne and Two Chainz. The second track on Chance’chance-the-rapper-chance-3-new-album-download-free-stream-640x640s third mixtape. The single released a [month ago] and it definitely painted an appropriate preview of what to expect with this tape. This is feel good music.

“If one more label try to stop me, it’s gon be some dread head niggas in the lobby,” Chance screams into the mic.

This can be looked at as a reference some of the difficulties Chance faces as an independent artist. In a recent AMA on Reddit the hip hop artist acknowledged rumors that he record labels give him a hard time recording with their artists due to his independent status. The artist refuses to sell his music to a label, saying in the same AMA that “this is the future” and that one day “all artists will be free”. Continue reading

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How To Make it in America: As an E-sports Broadcaster

casting3This is an excerpt from a magazine feature I created on Justin and the E-Sports scene in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metro area.

In November of 2014, Justin Varghese made a decision that would change the trajectory of his life forever. He sat down behind the counter at the Plano, TX based FX Game Exchange and watched contestants in a Super Smash Brothers tournament duke it out. He sat down next to a few guys he didn’t know that well and narrated the frantic happenings onscreen while critiquing the player movements. Justin did this all on camera. And he loved every minute it.

Since then, the University of Texas at Dallas graduate  traded in his keyboard and mouse for a controller and a headset. Varghese is now the Head of Strategic Partnerships at Tourney Locator LLC. (TLOC), the very company for which he stepped onto the mic for. Varghese and his on-air partner, Nabil Pervez, operate as the main two faces of TLOC, a DFW company that organizes and stream video game tournaments via their Twitch channel. The duo broadcast weekly as JV and Nebtune. Along with a weekly series at the Exchange, TLOC sets up yearly and monthly tournaments, at times sponsoring players and traveling throughout the region.

Prior to joining TLOC and signing a Major League Gaming contract, Justin had extensive video game experience but no broadcasting or recording experience. It all happened kind of fast for Justin, so I asked him to break it down for me.

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Entering Viceland.

It’s been a little over a month since the news organization Vice launched its own network of original programming and the results already look promising. By pulling together the brands resources from its web series and documentary features, Vice managed to fill up an entire TV lineup with personalities like Ellen Page, Eddie Huang and Action Bronson. While the HBO Vice Series is aimed at objective documentary, Viceland television programs generally lean toward the bias of the various hosts. I’ve got my take on the current offerings below. All of these shows are available online with your cable login at viceland.com.

 

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Ranking Kanye West Releases after TLOP

Kanye West once again set the hip-hop world ablaze on the day of St. Valentine, 2016. When The Life of Pablo dropped listeners could only enjoy it through Tidal’s music service, leading many to ignore the album until it agreed to terms with Spotify and Apple Music this past week.

Kanye-West-Yeezy-Season-3Lo and behold, Hip-Hop’s savior has returned with TLOP. For those of you who waited until it’s release this week, congratulations. You missed out on all of the unfinished drama circulating and jumped straight to the good part.

Now that some time has passed and we’ve had time to digest the music, let’s go ahead and compare The Life of Pablo to some of Kanye’s other works: starting from his lowest ranked LP to his best work.

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Gundam

(This is an entry on my hobbies, one of which is assembling model kits from the Japanese Animated series, Gundam.)

Japanese animation comes in so many different genres and styles that a room full of average fans could all have different tastes. One of the oldest and most popular forms of anime is mecha anime, which often depicts humans operating robots of various size in combat situations. This can be divided further into Super Robots and Real Robots. If you’d like an easy way to remember the difference, think of Super Robots like Power Rangers or Voltron – super heroes piloting unrealistic flying super machines. Real Robot anime normally feature smaller, more industrialized machines often portrayed in military conflict.
Today, we look at one of the pioneers of mecha anime, a Real Robot classic that has remained ahead of the curve for nearly 40 years.

mobile-suit-gundam

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Chasing The Pigskin

On the far west end of UT- Arlington’s campus lies a mostly unused gridiron. It’s meticulously curated grass stalks unbothered by by fans an players of the university for which it stands, save the occasional high school game and band competition. But before you  get misty eyed and begin to look up the fight song and alma mater (Forever Arlington!), let’s take a closer look at why we don’t have football and why it won’t likely happen anytime soon.

In general, college sports are expensive, but that is an understatement as far as football is concerned.

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Tier One.

The biggest obstacle that obstructs the University of Texas at Arlington on it’s path to Tier One status is it’s preoccupation for such a title to begin with.

To begin, let’s go over the prerequisites for being a Tier One University.


What it Takes

“Tier One” refers to a specific designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Until recently, the Carnegie Foundation used to group and rank universities based on the highest level of education they endow and the amount of research they participate in. Going even further, universities who graduate doctoral candidates are held to strict guidelines that include:

  • Research dollars spent on science and engineering.
  • Research dollars spent on non-science and engineering fields
  • Science and Engineering research staff, include post-doctoral appointees.

So if a university spends money on research, graduates and retains doctoral candidates in STEM ( science, tech, engineering and math) subjects and humanities subjects ( arts, business, public policy and social work), they will be placed on a chart and grouped anywhere from R1 to R3. This is where Tier One comes in, officially known as: R1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity.

Now these are the baseline requirements. Each university has their own idea of what it needs to do along with aspects the committee examines like graduation and retention rates.

t1
There are about 9 more confusing graphs like this that make up a composite on about every U.S. university.

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