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ART: Cesar Santos’ Masterfully Remixed Paintings

Artist Cesar Santos’ paintings seemingly bring the works of masters – from the Renaissance to the nineteenth century to Modernism – together, juxtaposing their styles one on top of the other.

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Love these. Great idea.

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"Under The Skin" (2013) | Rating: 3.5/5

A mysterious woman seduces lonely men in the evening hours in Scotland. Events lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.

This was an odd little film. A coworker suggested that I watch it + I’m glad I did. Nice to see Scarjo getting back to her indie roots. Worth a watch. You’ll come away going, “Hmm.” 

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Youtube | Mariah Carey ”Vanishing” (1990 SNL Rehearsal) 

When people ask me why I don’t support Mariah anymore or any of her new music, I direct them to this link. 

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When I could sorta kinda stand Kanye.

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Every fairytale needs a good old-fashioned villain. You need me, or you’re nothing.”

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Song of the Day | “Let Me Down Gently” La Roux

Can’t describe how happy I am these guys are coming back this year. May go see them in Williamsburg in June. 

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Zoom #Weekend finds: #FortGreene street art. Why can’t my stoop look this cool? | #Brooklyn #NYC #Art  (at Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

#Weekend finds: #FortGreene street art. Why can’t my stoop look this cool? | #Brooklyn #NYC #Art (at Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

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Song of the Day | HAIM “Forever”

Feel good song (although the lyrics say something completely opposite). Hello Spring. 

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#latergram: World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial Site Video 🇺🇸 (at World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial Site, New York City)

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Trailer | Lucy (Aug 2014)

An involuntary drug mule, with a surgically implanted cargo, is assaulted causing the package to leak. This leads to her slowly ramping up the percentage of her brain she can use, resulting in abilities people dream about.

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Trailer | Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Aug 2014)

I see Megan Fox + Michael Bay made up. I thought this was going to look horrible but it’s not too bad. I’m glad Leonardo (my fav) is featured a lot. Cowabunga?

03.27.14 0

An Ode To Ashanti

Album Review | “Braveheart” - Ashanti | 3.5/5

It’s been 6 years since Ashanti’s last album and the singer has been hard at work crafting her latest release, “Braveheart.” The project has been 100% funded by Ashanti herself. She’s also produced the album on her own independent record label, Written Entertainment. According to the singer, this era is about being brave and being more open with the public about her life. It’s also about her indie record label (the Scotts) going up against the major record labels (the Brits) on the charts and coming out on top, hence the title inspiration from the 1995 Mel Gibson film of the same name.

After a few listens, I’ve concluded this: Overall, the album is a solid effort but there hasn’t been much growth in 6 years. At least not shown or chosen for this cd. For me, “Braveheart” is on par with her 2008 effort, “The Declaration.” It’s not bad, it’s not great. It’s just okay. The cd has a little bit of everything for everyone but because of this, it feels disjointed and incomplete. And once it starts to get good, it’s over. There are, however, a few stand out tracks:

Braveheart" - Ashanti’s voice soars with confidence and vigor on this L.T. Hutton produced opening track. This is a great mid-tempo ballad that really shows that long gone are her days of simply cooing alongside rappers hardcore beats. She can handle her own now and this is definitely an excellent way to open up the album.

Count" - This is the most radio/club friendly track on the album. It’s in the same vein as Rihanna’s "Birthday Cake" but better, in my opinion. Here, she challenges so-called "ballers" in the club by asserting on the bridge, "Don’t make me count that money, if you’re spending like you’re saying then lay it out in front of me!" Her swagger on this track is incredible and I can see this being a big crossover hit with the right promotion.

Scars" - Ashanti is her most vulnerable here and she should be since the song is about her 10 year on-again, off-again relationship with rapper, Nelly, and his infidelity/commitment issues. She goes from being angry and vindictive with lyrics like, "And I’ma make sure I’m drop dead gorgeous every time he sees me so he want it more" to ultimately heartbroken with confessions like, "Thought we were going to build, thought what we had was real, thought we were going to live in a house on the hills, maybe 3 or 4 kids, Bentley’s and drop Benz’s, we were supposed to ride out and be best friends!" This is Ashanti at her best: raw and relatable. 

I Got It" (Feat. Rick Ross) - The first "official" single off of the album, this is a great comeback track produced once again by L.T. Hutton, her collaborator of choice. The beat is infectious and the lyrics are catchy. The video is just as good but a lack of promotion/performances on TV coupled with a lack of radio play has snubbed it’s success, which is truly a shame.

In conclusion, If you’re a dedicated fan of Ashanti, her past music or solid r&b in general, get the album. You won’t be disappointed. However, if you are a fan who, like me, was hoping for something a little more gritty and emotional, skip buying the complete album and purchase the tracks you enjoy. Ashanti claims to be more open on this cd, but truthfully she still seems hesitant about putting her heart out there entirely for the public to see.


Let me end my review on a more personal note. I’ve been a fan of Ashanti since 2001. Everyone has one or two artists that they go crazy over as a teen and one of mine was Ashanti. What drew me to her vs. her peers like Beyonce is that she seemed more real and reachable. She writes her own music, writes about a variety of subjects (love, domestic violence, death, etc.) and has more of a personality. However, there are three major things setting her back. 

1) Performance: This has been always been her weak point. What bothers me is, in my mind, this is an easy fix. She’s talented but she needs to refine her skills through a vocal coach and a better choreographer (Brice Vick’s choreography has always been terrible). She’s grown over time but she should be at the top of her game at this age and after 13 years officially on the music scene.

2) Management: She needs new management and a new team all around. Her mom and dad did a great job in the beginning of her career but now that Ashanti is a “seasoned” veteran and her fan base is waning, she needs a to hire a new team if she wants to regain the spotlight. I know there are a bunch of sharks in the industry and this is why she’s trusted her family with this part of her career but there ARE companies out there doing right by their artists. 

3) Writing: I respect and love that Ashanti writes her own songs and hence gets more money for her hits but she needs to allow others to write songs for her and/or co-write with her. Her style of writing has become predictable after 13 years and a pair of fresh eyes or a new way of approaching tracks would help tremendously. 

That’s the end of my rant. I truly want her to do well but if she doesn’t change a few her ways, her career is going to continue to go down hill from here. If she’s ok with not reigning on the charts, trying other ventures (TV, Movies, etc.) and collecting her many royalty checks from writing hits for herself and others, I can understand that. However, I know music is her passion and to get back in the game is going to take a major but very possible overhaul. 

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