By: Fred Moody
Eighteen years ago Bill Clinton was President, the iMac just came out, Titanic set a box-office record at the theaters, Windows 98 was unveiled, and ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ released their album “The Love Movement”—thought to be their last. At least that’s what the music world concluded until a few weeks ago on October 27 when the group announced via social media three pictures of a handwritten letter addressed “To All The Good People Worldwide” that they would now be releasing their final Tribe album. With appearances from Tribesmen Consequence and Busta Rhymes, the album also includes notable features from Kendrick Lamar, Andre 3000, Anderson. Paak, and Talib Kweli; none of whom disappointed. This announcement was received with elation from fans of the group all over the world. However, it was not met without skepticism as earlier this year on March 22 the leader of the group and Hip-Hop legend Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor passed away at the age of 45 from complications relating to diabetes. Even through both Phife’s death and an abnormally long hiatus, the group came together to release what should be considered one of the best albums of the year. Generally, when a group fades away for 18 years they are regarded as irrelevant when they return, yet the exact opposite is true with Tribe. Their music from the past had great staying power and is still appreciated today, but this latest release could not be more in tune with the current divided climate in America. The group that was always praised for making socially conscious albums you could still dance to definitely didn’t forget their roots. “We Got It from Here” could have easily been produced to be a walk down memory lane, and include unreleased verses from Phife and Q-Tip from years ago. However, sticking to their roots, they made new music for today and not 18 years ago.
“We Got It from Here,” is not the same sonically Afro-centric boom-bap Hip-Hop the Queens natives made in the 90’s. With production from Q-Tip, the album includes some of the obscure samples that he–a huge record collector–has always been known for. However, lyrically the group still spits poignant rhymes over beats that could kick out of any speaker. On this album especially it seems as though what they rap about carries even more weight, maybe because it’s post Phife’s death or maybe because of how it amplifies the current political climate. The social commentary on the album is very prevalent, most notably so on the tracks: “The Space Program,” “We The People….,” and “The Killing Season.”
The lead song on the album “The Space Program” carries extremely deep meaning and is produced at a level that is taken for granted far too often in new music. You can hear the hard work put into the song in the perfectly placed samples and the carefully crafted verses that too many rappers no longer care about. The song is a metaphor to describe that African-Americans, poor individuals and other minorities are being left behind in America. It alludes to disenfranchised groups suffering disproportionately in the Prison-Industrial Complex, while the affluent simply ignore the problem altogether–heard in the lyric, “Rather see we in a three-by-three structure with many bars/Leave us where we are so they can play among the stars.” Delving deeper into the meaning behind the song’s title, it could be linked to Martin Luther King Jr.’s sentiments back in the 1960’s about the U.S. spending billions of dollars to put a man on the moon and all but disregarding the economic inequality present on their own terrestrial ground. By putting a politically charged song at the start of such a highly anticipated album you could tell that they were not about let their voices go unheard.
This is followed up by the hit song, “We The People....” which discusses the extreme prejudices in our country today. This is the quintessential lead single for an album filled with protest songs and to understand the significance and true weight this song carries, you only need to pay close attention to the chorus, “All you Black folks, you must go/All you Mexicans, you must go/And all you poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy, we hate your ways/So all you bad folks, you must go.” What ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ has done here is directly call out the injustices that are currently dividing our nation, especially after the election of Donald Trump as President. Q-Tip also examines the gentrification of neighborhoods which in his home-state of New York are becoming more and more common. Phife on the other hand, takes this opportunity to address the injustice in music appreciation and the fact that Top-40 songs are often the catchiest but have no deeper meaning to them. He alludes to this by saying these “popular” tracks are not representative of “real” music, but get mistaken as such by the general public and that the Tribe does in fact make “real” music. The iconic Chuck D has been quoted as saying that Hip-Hop music is kind of like “CNN for the African-American community” and Tribe really puts that on display throughout many songs on this album.
Their political commentary is not limited to the first half of the album. It continues into the latter half of the album on the song “The Killing Season” which features Talib Kweli, Consequence, and Kanye West. Talib Kweli has been a very outspoken rapper when it comes to politics and the oppression of African-Americans, so the inclusion of him on this song made perfect sense. Kweli discusses the ongoing fight for freedom in America through the use of references to war and the military. Consequence touches on the incident in McKinney, Texas where a group of black teenagers were wrongly mistreated for having a pool party that a neighbor thought “looked suspicious.” The talk of police, military and the militarization of police is not light in any way, and these topics are cemented further in the chorus by Kanye. The lyrics read, “They sold ya, sold ya, sold ya,” and are repeated 16 times over the course of the song. They are simple at the surface but if you listen earnestly you will recognize the near homophones sold, soul, and soldier–thus making the chorus sound like Kanye is saying “They sold ya soul, ya soldier” which hammers home the overall theme of ignorance, and the ongoing race war in America where both citizens and police are acting as soldiers.
Even though most Hip-Hop fans would have wished for a new album from ‘A Tribe Called Quest’ years ago, their re-emergence could not have come at a more advantageous time. “We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service” makes it obvious that even though 18 years passed by right before our eyes, the group that forever changed Hip-Hop’s lexicon continues to do just that.
MLB Offseason: Names to watch, positions to keep an eye on, and teams to keep an eye on and see who scoops up who
MLB Offseason: Names to watch, positions to keep an eye on, and teams to keep an eye on and see who scoops up who
With the exciting 2016 baseball season over, this winter is going to hold another offseason filled with plenty of executive scanning the free agent market to try and make their clubs contenders. Although this free agent class is not as strong as the 2014 free agents class that had studs like Jon Lester and David Price switch teams, some interesting names will be popping up next winter.
To start, if you’re an executive looking to load up your bullpen, this is the winter to do so. The importance of a solid bullpen was put in the spotlight this post-season, highlighted by Indians closer Andrew Miller receiving the ALCS MVP, and the San Francisco Giants bullpen blowing a 3-run lead in the top of the ninth inning in game 4 of the NLDS against the Chicago Cubs, which allowed them to advance to the NLCS. Standing a top of the reliever market are Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen, possibly two of the best closers in baseball. Chapman’s future with the Cubs is not a certain one, and many executives and baseball writers think the Cubs acquisition of Chapman was for a half season rental. The odds Jansen leaves LA are not great, but the Dodgers did allow Zach Greinke to leave last off-season, so it’s no guarantee he stays in Hollywood. It is definitely rare for a 100 mile per hour cannon (Chapman) and a cut fast ball expert (Jansen) to be on the free agent market, so plenty of teams will emerge as suitors. For one, the Giants will definitely throw their name into the hat for one of these two. Santiago Casilla was tied for the major league record with nine blown saves, and throughout the second half of the season, manager Bruce Bochy never had a go-to guy in the ninth inning, and was forced to mix and match frequently, which hurt the Giants more than it helped. Another team to watch for would be the Chicago White Sox, a team always looking to buy some immediate help in the offseason. Nate Jones was tied with Casilla for nine blown saves, and 2014 free agent acquisition David Robertson blew seven saves as well. It was not just those two either. Matt Albers and Chris Beck also posted ERA’s of 6.57 and 6.39, with a combined 13 home runs allowed, 10 only by Albers. It remains to be seen if Jansen stays in LA or the Sox take a risk with Chapman and his past history of domestic violence, but if they decide not to, Travis Wood, Mark Melancon, Jason Grilli, Joe Blanton and Marc Rzepczynski remain intriguing options for a White Sox team that cannot get much worse as a bullpen. Other teams to watch out for on the reliever market are the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays, and New York Yankees.
Although the reliever market will dominate this upcoming baseball offseason, teams looking for a first baseman may be in some luck. Edwin Encarnacion is the big fish in this first base free agent market. Toronto will make a huge push to re-sign their slugger, who hit 42 home runs and 127 RBI’s. However, a team like the Yankees would LOVE to have Encarnacion in their hitter friendly ball park 81 games a year, and with Mark Teixeira finally coming off the books and retiring, expect those two teams to vie for the slugger. Expect teams like the the Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, and Washington Nationals to maybe through their names into the Encarnacion discussion, but likely be priced out and have to look for alternatives. Mike Napoli had a resurgence with the Indians this year, who will likely be forced to choose between re-signing Napoli, or picking up Carlos Santana’s team option. Mitch Moreland and Adam Lind are not world beaters at the first base positions, but are easy plug and play guys that will guarantee you 20 HR’s and at least a .715 OPS without costing a fortune like Encarnacion. Those two are more temporary options for a team looking for any sort of production at the spot.
Although the infield market is likely going to be a quiet one, there are some intriguing names on the list that will garner attention. Alcides Escobar has had a solid six year career with the Kansas City Royals, which includes one trip to the all-star game, a gold glove, and a world series ring all in 2015. Teams looking for a guy who can play 162 games a year, play great defense, and bat an easy .260 will find Escobar an attractive commodity at shortstop, especially in a league short on great shortstops. Rueben Tejada is a name that won’t excite many front offices, but he’s a guy in the past who’s consistently gotten on base and would fit nicely at the seven or eight spot in the lineup, while playing solid defense up the middle. He is still just 27 years old, which is not something that the baseball free agent market sees very much. Somebody will at least take a chance on him maybe finding his 2015 form with the Mets. Justin Turner definitely stands out as the best third baseman on the market, as he has consistently gotten better in his time with the Dodgers, who will have free agent focuses on trying to bring back Kenley Jansen.
The outfield market consists of a few big names in Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Bautista, Carlos Gomez, and Dexter Fowler. All are likely to find themselves on new teams, but Bautista is aging and had a down 2016 season, Gomez had a terrible year with the Astros, and Cespedes always seems to find a new team every year. Fowler is probably the most consistent out of all of these guys, but he has never been a difference maker in the lineup like Cespedes and Bautista have been in the past. Buyer’s in this market have to beware the risk, as these free agents point to many signs of them not working out.
For more MLB offseason talk, tune in to WLTL’s sports shows, every Tuesday night from 7-8 pm, Thursday 8-10 pm, and the third Wednesday of every month from 7-8 pm.
In early October a friend and I went to the Aragon Ballroom to see the Head and the Heart for the second time. I haven't been to a concert since last year, so I should have been excited. I wasn't. The best part about going to a concert is belting out the lyrics to the song that you fell in love with, and I kind of hated the Head and the Hearts new, third album, Signs of Light.
I was drawn to THATH (The Head And The Heart) because of their
folksy acoustics and touching lyrics--their new album was touched up, shallow,
and too upbeat. I refused to listen to it more than twice through, and only
knew the words to the hit song “All We Ever Knew” as well as “Library Magic”: the one
song that slightly resembles the old, untouched Head and the Heart. However, I
knew that seeing live music in the city with a good friend would be a fun
night, no matter the bands blunder, so I was willing to be optimistic. I walk
into the Aragon Ballroom, which is the coolest concert venue in the city in my opinion—it looks
like it was extracted straight from the movie Aladdin—but I digress. It was
opened by Declan McKenna, who has the indie pop hit “Brazil”. During his set I
was slightly creeped out by how dead the crowd was. Everyone was silent. An
hour passes and all of his songs seemed like one painfully long song.
When the Head and the Heart came out at nine, I was tired, my feet were sore, and I was
dreading standing there without a clue what the lyrics were to the songs about
to be played. They wasted no time to get to the first song, which was “All We
Ever Knew”. I thought it was bold for them to start out with their hit, most
concerts I have attended hold out on the crowd favorite until the end. I was a
little relieved because I could follow along to that one. The next song played
was “Ghosts”. This is a lesser known song from their second album and it
energized me because I figured that other old songs were going to be played
that night. They played around three songs from their new album and the rest
were hits from their old, better albums. Such as “Lets Be Still”, “Another
Story”, and my favorite THATH song of all time “Lost in My Mind”, arguably
their most iconic song. I was thrilled with the lineup--and I wasn't alone.
There was an obvious change in mood when they went from “Down in the Valley” to
“Library Magic” because all swaying and singing ceased. Another time there were
obvious—and hilarious—changes in the mood is whenever Charity Thielen did anything.
She is the only female in the band and the evident crowd favorite. The crowd
would drown out the lead singers if they saw her pick up her violin.
Moreover, I think that the band members must know that Signs
of Light fell short and I commend them for sacrificing exposure and
promotion for the sake of fans experience. Lead singer, Josiah Johnson paused
between songs to give thanks to the Chicago fan base. Josiah truly did have
reasons to be grateful for his fans. I have been to dozens of concerts and no
concert I have ever been too—even the previous Head and the Heart concert—had been that peaceful: no crazy drunk people, fighting, or even just shoving. It really shouldn’t have been noticeable, but
when you go to a lot of concerts, you learn to appreciate when there isn’t someone’s
sweaty arm touching your own equally gross body. He said he was impressed
that the crown effortlessly belted out lyrics to every single song, even though
they are not prominent on radio stations. Meaning that to know those lyrics, fans went
out of their way. Why wouldn’t I? It’s good music. I made a mental note to
bother Zoe and Tim to add more THATH to our system, because the two songs we
have “Cats and Dogs” and “Coeur D’Alene” don’t do justice to the band. He also
revealed that it is a challenge to keep both the audience, and the band members
entertained throughout their tour, which is why they do not strictly stick to
Signs of Light, or any other album. This is something I had never considered—and
trust me, I spend a lot of time thinking about what my life would be like as a
Another way the band was good to the fans that night was during the
encore. When I go to concerts, the band ends abruptly without saying anything
and I am left in the dark with a hundred people screaming and stomping for at
least ten minutes before they come back out. The Head and the Heart took a
three minute maximum break and were back out there for three more hits. The
last song of the night was “Rivers and Roads” which is an emotional and bare song
from their debut album; I attached a video to the song at the bottom of this
post. To get a little personal, I am a senior, so I am preoccupied with all
this college stuff and big decisions not far down the road. Rivers and Roads
starts out with “a year from now we’ll all be gone, all my friends will move
away” and wow if that doesn’t sum up my senior anxiety in a lyric I don’t think
anything could. For me ending with this song was touching and the perfect way
to end my second concert with the Head and The Heart. I feel bad criticizing
Signs of Light because I know how genuinely they care about how their fans
feel, and it’s not often you get artists as flexible and humble as the Head and
the Heart. I cannot wait to support them in concert for their next album,
hopefully a regression to their acoustic roots.
I’ll be frank. Politics has always been something that bores me. I’m not a middle aged adult with a family and a mortgage, so most of the economic changes that have come within the past few political cycles have gone mostly unnoticed by me. I was just a kid when 9/11 happened, so I haven’t noticed any change in the military presence in my life (unless you include the long waits at airports to get through security, which I don’t. It’s always been the norm for me). Even social issues, like the legalization of gay marriage, have had pretty minor impacts in my life, for the simple reason that I’m (in almost every sense of the word) still a kid. Although I’ve technically been considered an adult ever since my 18th birthday two months ago, I haven’t ever really felt that I’ve earned this title. That is, until my voter registration card came in the mail a week ago. I picked it up, turned it over, and thought to myself, “Holy crap. I’m voting. I’m a voter. I am voting in the presidential election.” Once the initial shock of this passed, I realized that this was a massive responsibility. There are many mantras out there, and people who will constantly state, “You’re vote doesn’t matter. Why should I care who wins the election? They’re both terrible.” Anytime I hear anyone say this, I get confused. I understand the first part; in a country with millions upon millions of voters, it can seem like your vote will be lost. But the second part? The idea that you’re going to neglect to vote simply because your upset with your choices? That’s the part that gets me.
If you talk to anyone who has voted before, they’ll all tell you the same thing: this is not a normal election. Candidates from both sides are spewing hate, the media is consuming every new scandal like it’s a twelve piece nugget from McDonalds, and the public is divided, more divided than ever in recent history. We fight, and we bicker, and we argue about issues that are pertinent to our society today. Racism, sexism, and bigotry are splayed in front of our faces constantly, and we are affronted by problem after problem without end. This argument and debate is nothing new; it’s called politics. But this new type of politics, the one where it’s OK to spew racism, and to ignore the illegality of past actions, is something not seen before. But for new voters, people who just turned 18 (aka me, and millions of teenagers like me), it’s all we’ve ever known. This is how we view politics in this day and age. This is what we think is normal. How messed up is that?
In a world that is already difficult enough to live in, we’re presented with a ballot and asked to make a choice that will effect the future of our homes, of our towns, of our cities, of our states, of our country, and of our world. We’re asked, with one simple flick of a pen or push of a button, to determine who we think the best person to lead our country is. And our options aren’t that impressive.
A COMPREHENSIVE* LOOK AT THE CANDIDATES:
(*not comprehensive in the slightest)
How did we get to this point? I understand that elections are divisive, but really? Can we ever truly claim to be the best country in the world when, in one of the most crucial elections in recent history, we find ourselves incapable of making such an important choice?
My answer: yes, we can.
To anyone with any knowledge of the world around us, it is easy (alarmingly so) to determine that the United States is not the best country in the world anymore. I’m not unpatriotic; don’t make that judgement of me so soon. But the United States has fallen behind drastically in educational standards, in environmental protection, in support for mental health issues, and now in political stability. These aren’t speculations: these are facts. But as a young person in this country, I can say, without a moments hesitation, that I will be voting. In fact, ask anyone below the age of twenty if they’re voting. You may be expecting a speedy no, but what I’ve found most often is that the answer is yes. We want to vote! We want to make a difference in this election, and in our country! And yet, amidst one of the most emotionally charged elections of all time, we are surrounded by people who spew hate and refuse to vote, simply because this one is more complicated than ones in the past. Let me tell you something that has taken me, and millions of young voters like me, only a few short months to realize: elections are not supposed to be easy. They’re supposed to hard! They’re supposed to make you think about what you want for your country, and specifically, who you want running it.
Look, I get it. This election is tough. Really tough. Like, nearly impossible, tough. But that doesn’t make it any less OK for you not to vote. Voting is not only your constitutional right; it is your constitutional obligation. People die everyday in the pursuit of what we have in the United States, and yet, we squander the responsibilities and the opportunities that are presented to us on a day to day basis, simply because they’re “too hard to deal with”. Think about it this way: you wouldn’t just suddenly not exercise your right to the freedom of speech. The very idea of it probably seems ludicrous to you.
So then ask yourself this: why should you squander your right to vote?
Who Are We?
We are the management staff of WLTL. These are our stories.