Basement Dwelling: “Some Rap Songs” by Earl Sweatshirt

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On my first listen of Earl Sweatshirt’s third album, Some Rap Songs, I thought a lot about that title. Some Rap Songs. It struck me as sort of commentary on how so many people consume music in 2018. Here’s this rapper that has been buzzed about for years. Here’s his album. Listen to it, get it or don’t, and move on to the next thing. What was it? Some rap songs. It’s a notion portrayed in the cover art too; a blurry, borderline frightening image of Earl is front and center — an image that renders the creator of this album nearly faceless. In my mind, it all fits, being brilliantly calculated and serving a specific purpose; an analogy for this record as a whole.

This was not a record meant to be released in this time, but couldn’t have come out at a better one. If you think the intention was to just deliverer “some rap songs,” you’d be mistaken. No. instead what’s been presented here is a masterclass in album making, Earl Sweatshirt’s finest work to date. and one of the most forward-thinking and boundary-pushing rap records of this decade.

You probably know the story already: Earl, a near mythological figure in rap already at only 24 years of age, has been in the spotlight since his early teens. Born Thebe Kgositsile, Earl made his start in the Tyler, The Creator-founded hip-hop coalition, Odd Future. He was sent away to a boarding school in Samoa for at-risk teens right after the release of his first mixtape, only then to make a triumphant return with his first proper record, Doris, in 2013, and following that up with the brilliant, now cult classic I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside in 2015. I Don’t Like Shit marked the signs of a significant stylistic shift and the start of a new era for Earl.

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Meet the Editors: Jakob Kagay

Jakob Kagay

It’s time to introduce the final editor for this semester, an editor who has already made presence on the JFR blog with hisFrom Fact to Film”, which looks at historical fact compared to historical films. This week we are introducing Jakob Kagay, Asst. Nonfiction Editor; Asst. Fiction Editor. Please take a look at his blog here: From Fact to Film 

Jakob is a senior at Lewis University who is majoring in History with a concentration in Public History and minoring in Professional Writing and Business Administration. On campus, he works at the front desk of the Library and interns at the Adelmann Collection on the second floor. During his free time he enjoys playing video games and being the Game Master for a Dungeons and Dragons game he plays with a group of online friends. He also enjoys learning history whenever possible, reading history books and watching documentaries or historical films whenever possible.

Below is our Q&A with Jakob Kagay:

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Meet the Editors: Kasia Wolny

Kasia Wolny

It’s time to introduce another new editor, an editor who has been making a presence through Open Mic Nights at Lockport’s Port Noir with Zach Klozik. She has already made a presence on the JFR blog with her “The Canon—Close Encounters “, which have essays observing canonical literature. This week we are introducing Kasia Wolny, Asst. Art & Design; Asst. Fiction Editor; Copy Editor. Please take a look at her blog here: The Canon—Close Encounters

Kasia is a senior at Lewis University, where she enjoys her studies in English literature and creative writing. In addition, she works at the Writing Center where she is a Fellow in the ELL program. Kasia loves to read literature from around the world and across genres; some of her favorites are Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Khaled Hosseini, Wojciech Kuczok, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Diana Gabaldon. In her writing, she likes to focus on short story and essay composition, and on Polish-English translation of poetry. Kasia is a mom of two teenagers who, being bilingual, regularly poke fun at her for mispronouncing English words. In her free time, she likes to hike, cook, tend to her garden, visit art museums, and drink tea with friends.

Below is our Q&A with Kasia Wolny:

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Meet the Editors: Zachary Klozik

Zachary Klozik

It’s time to introduce another new editor through our Meet the Editors series, an editor who has been making a presence through Open Mic Nights at Lockport’s Port Noir. This week we are introducing Zachary Klozik, our Asst. Poetry Editor and Asst. Fiction Editor.

 Zachary is a junior at Lewis University, majoring in English Creative and Professional Writing. On campus, he also works as a tutor for the Writing Center. Zachary especially enjoys reading and writing poetry. His favorite author is Jhonen Vasquez and that is why one of his favorite television shows is Invader Zim. He also loves Vasquez’s graphic novel Johnny the Homicidal Maniac. Zachary likes to spend a lot of his free time listening to music and watching movies. His favorite genre is science fiction which is why some of his favorite movies are Donnie Darko and A Scanner Darkly.

Below is our Q&A with Zachary Klozik:

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Moriarty is a Hypnotist? A Mysterious Analysis

After recently renewing my Netflix subscription, I thought I’d explore Netflix’s mystery genre, see what gems I could exhume. As far as Netflix mysteries go, I usually stick to Sherlock and Psych, even X-Files (which is no longer on the streaming platform, for shame Netflix!), but this time, I branched out to international films. When I saw 2014 Chinese film, The Great Hypnotist (also known as Cui mian da shi) and its premise, I was immediately drawn in. The film is an international drama, thriller, and psycho-mystery directed by Leste Chen and written by Peng Ren and Leste Chen that follows hypnotherapist Dr. Xu’s treatment with a puzzling patient. I’ve always been fascinated by the concept and treatment of hypnotherapy, of how the mind can be convinced to eat less, smoke less, be less anxious. While I was trying to vicariously live through his patients to understand this hypnotherapy experience, I found myself approached by a psycho-mystery with a plot and characters that appeared to be inspired by detective fiction formats.

The entirety of the film revolves around the practice of hypnotherapist Dr. Xu; the first minutes of the movie taking viewers through his hypnotherapy session with a woman who’s being mentally haunted by a young woman—whose styling was very similar to the TV-ghost-girl in The Ring—a young woman she believes is trying to steal her child from her. Actually, the whole movie begins quite horrifically as the opening shot shows the young woman looking through the glass of a door, trying to break in. She’s trapped by this door’s frame, giving the audience this sense of entrapment and claustrophobia. As we watch further, we realize that the young woman following the older woman and the child through dark and deserted buildings was all part of a trance of Dr. Xu’s patient. The silence and the empty, open spaces in these starting scenes assist in building a thrilling experience for the viewer. We get a sense that these patients who visit Dr. Xu feel haunted by their experiences and wrongdoings and that Dr. Xu, as their hypnotherapist, is meant to exorcise their inner demons.
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Artist’s Portfolio: Shannon Washburn

Found below is a collection of exceptional charcoal portraits and close-up by Shannon Washburn, a Lewis University student that we’re excited to feature here. We’ve included Washburn’s bio, reflection, and eight unique pieces in this post. See for yourself the dedication and artistry of this talented individual.

Shannon Washburn

Shannon Washburn’s Bio:

Shannon Washburn, currently a senior at Lewis University, is pursuing a career in art therapy, a specialization within the realm of counseling. Double majoring in both General Studio Art and Psychology, alongside a minor in Spanish Language and Culture, she has a background identifying and interpreting human expression outside of the studio.

“LOVE” Model: Shannon Washburn

Washburn has gained experience working and/or volunteering at several organizations serving a variety of populations, including children, teens, and adults with various intellectual and developmental disabilities, in addition to older adults diagnosed with dementia. 

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Putting Tracks on the Map with Trish: Mac Ayres

Mac Ayres, a 21-year-old New York native, is an upcoming R&B artist that has shaped his music from legends Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, and J Dilla. His contemporary take on the elements seen in his inspirations’ work is reflected in his EP, Drive Slow, and album, Something to Feel.

Interestingly enough, Ayres originally wanted to create music similar to John Mayer upon entering Berklee College of Music. After being exposed to multiple genres of music, Ayres strayed away from his original desire to produce Blues-Rock music and gravitated towards soul and R&B. Because of this shift, Ayres dropped out of Berklee to discover his own musical identity.

Ayres first gained recognition on his debut single “Easy,” with the help of Joe Jonas providing a platform for the song on his social media. “Easy” garnered the attention of Fête Records, and with this label, Ayres was able to produce the nine track EP, Drive Slow. The recurring car themes of Drive Slow is a “metaphor for life” according to Ayres. This collection is based on Ayres’ thoughts about how “too many people are rushing through life, and it’s important to remember to appreciate where you’re at in any stage of it.”

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