Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Ctrl (2017) by Sza delivers a musical confession

Lily Kate Harpham

Contributing Writer

 

Solána Imani Rowe, known as Sza, released her first studio album on June 9, 2017. Ctrl, released through the label Top Dawg Entertainment (home to artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q) earned critical acclaim and debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200. Ranked as the best album of 2017 by Time Magazine, Ctrl was also nominated for four Grammy Awards, which led to Sza earning a nomination for Best New Artist.

With 14 tracks, Ctrl features multiple chart-topping artists including Travis Scott and labelmate Kendrick Lamar. What is notable throughout the entire album is the echoing vocals on every song that give the album an ethereal feeling. Many of Sza’s songs feel confessional, almost like the ranting diary entries of a woman coming into her own.

Opening with the song “Supermodel,” Sza sings about her insecurities and a former boyfriend who left her on Valentine’s Day. The chorus features the line “Leave me lonely for prettier women … you know you wrong for shit like that /I could be your supermodel if you believe … why I can’t stay alone just by myself?” This is a common theme throughout the album: Sza singing about her insecurities and failed relationships. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sza said that this song is how she revealed to her ex-boyfriend that she slept with his best friend after he dumped her.

The second track on the album is “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott. Certified 4x Platinum in the United States, “Love Galore” is perhaps the most recognizable Sza song, after “The Weekend.” “Love Galore” is about relationship regrets and yearning for past lovers. “Personally, I’m surprised you called me after the things I said … Acting like we wasn’t more than a summer fling / I said farewell, you took it well (true) / Promise I won’t cry over spilled milk.” Sza and Travis Scott sing to each other about the loss of a relationship, no matter how fleeting the relationship was, because it was good. In an interview with Genius about “Love Galore,” Sza said she was a Scorpio with a mean streak, and this song is incredibly reflective of that and her anger towards former partners.

Described by Rolling Stone as a “side-chick manifesto,” “The Weekend” is a song of not two, but three women all being juggled by the same man, and one woman decides that she simply doesn’t care. “You say you got a girl / Yeah, how you want me? / How you want me when you got a girl?” “The Weekend” is an anthem intended to empower women to “opt out” of the idea that men must be the center of a woman’s life.

Following the much-anticipated release of “Hit Different” featuring The Neptunes, Pharrell Williams and Ty Dolla $ign, I revisited Ctrl and was immediately thrown back to 2017 a much simpler time. That is just the beauty of Sza’s music: no matter when you are listening to it, it resonates with some aspect of your own life experience.

 https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3nVQ3lTU0ecaGGyCEAY2Jf?si=uS9-7_5SSFC4GDnzRZTidg

Wooster’s Fall Dance Concert moves offstage

Holly Engel

Arts and Entertainment Editor

 

Dance is a collaborative art relying on motion and touch; this physicality is enhanced by lighting and sound when performed on stage. Now that most dancers in the Wooster Dance Company can no longer rehearse in groups due to stricter COVID-19 regulations, creativity is essential to maintaining that collaboration. This semester, it is such creativity that allows dancers to continue practicing and preparing to perform.

Emily Baird, visiting assistant professor of theatre and dance and director of the upcoming Fall Dance Concert, says that the Department of Theatre & Dance has changed its operations significantly to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. “[Before classes went remote] my Modern Dance class was in-person only, which was … so I could ensure students were practicing proper technique and not causing injury,” she said. “I now livestream all three classes over Zoom, which is particularly challenging for the type of work we do in this discipline.”

Despite the difficulties that come with remote dance classes, Baird is impressed with how the classes have turned out. “I feel that the students in all my classes have been able to grasp the material and grow as movers even though they’re not able to do any physical touching,” she commented. “It really becomes an opportunity to be more creative … this semester just doesn’t look exactly like any that we’ve experienced, and that’s okay.”

The dance company is still planning on holding a Fall Dance Concert this year, though those interested in attending should expect a performance different from past years in its medium but not in its quality. As Baird puts it, the event is more of a “dance film festival” than a concert. Instead of a live performance, individual dances will be combined in a video compilation, with some pieces filmed outside and others edited together by more technologically savvy choreographers. There is no set release date yet for the video, but the department hopes to make the video accessible for a couple of weeks after it is released.   

Rehearsals for the dance concert are running similarly to the dance classes, with small groups of no more than three or four students practicing outside in person and many other students interacting over video calls. Sarah Renaker ’21 has been a part of the dance company since her first year at Wooster and will be performing in this concert. Though she mentioned the difficulties of working remotely with choreographers, some of which are in different time zones or countries, she expressed her excitement at participating in an unconventional performance. “We’re getting a different side of dance than we normally do,” she explained. “We can’t put on a regular performance [in the theatre], but I like that we’ve been able to continue dancing in a way that’s more modern and technologically interactive and not just onstage.” 

Baird, like Renaker, is excited for the virtual performance and stresses the lasting importance of the performing arts, especially during a pandemic. “I would encourage everyone in the Wooster community to watch the productions this semester, not only because everyone is working incredibly hard on them but also because they will be genuinely good,” she said. “Even in the midst of a global pandemic, we are finding ways to dance, create and share our art.”

“Lovecraft Country” reveals the horrors of racism

Salem Nega

Contributing Writer

 

It’s halfway through the semester, and it’s been a rough couple weeks for everyone. Since we’re likely hitting the wall due to exhaustion, stress and lockdown regulations, starting an addictive series to get your mind off schoolwork and to relax might be an appealing idea. If so, “Lovecraft Country” is going to be right up your alley. 

“Lovecraft Country” is a ten-episode show on HBO whose genre ranges from horror and fantasy to drama and historical fiction. Set in the 1950s Jim Crow era  United States, the series is made up of a killer cast including Emmy award winning actor Courtney B. Vance, Michael K. Morris (who is known for his role as Omar Little in the HBO hit “The Wire”), Jurnee Smollett and newcomer Johnathan Majors. The show aired on HBO Max as an original series by the creator of “Underground” and “Heroes,” Misha Green, and executive produced by Jordan Peele, whose critically acclaimed movies “Get Out” and “Us” have made him a household name due to their thematic vision of blending race relations into classic horror.

Based on the book of the same name by Mark Ruff, the series follows main characters Atticus Black, a veteran returning from the Korean War, and his childhood best friend Leitha Dandridge as they embark on a mission to find Atticus’s missing father and  unlock some long-hidden family secrets that date back to the infamously detrimental Jim Crow era. Throughout this journey, viewers will see these characters transform from fledging to well-developed and complex with intriguing backstories. Interestingly, those backstories visibly define the different ways Black and Dandridge choose to engage with a world filled with ghosts and demons, white supremacy and Black identity, contemporary life and historical fiction. Suffice to say, the writers took a lot of creative liberty when writing this masterpiece, so whatever your interests are, this show has likely got it.

This, of course, barely scratches the surface of what this show truly offers, since spoiler alerts must be avoided at all costs. However, it is not an overstatement to assert that each episode carries a very distinct and unique nature of film and shines a special light on the differing perspectives that are often present when determining who would be the antagonist and the protagonist.

Despite the show going at a very smooth, relaxed pace since its season premiere this past summer, it should be noted that the series aired at a time in American history filled with police brutality, racism and other ongoing injustices faced by Black people in America. So, the series does a great job of keeping you on your toes while solemnly reflecting on how moments in the past, as well as their effects, can still be similarly situated in our contemporary world.

Again, if you’re looking for a way to take your mind off the collective stress that has been felt across campus the last two weeks, then a brief transportation into a different world with adventure, action and drama is definitely the right choice of action. Overall, “Lovecraft Country” does an incredible job of entertaining us with an intersection of different genres while demonstrating the horrors of racism in the 1950s and relating it to everything that is currently happening in the United States.

Savage Mode II

Jackson Lovchuk

Contributing Writer

 

On Oct. 2, 2020, hip-hop artist 21 Savage, alongside producer Metro Boomin, released Savage Mode II. This studio album is the long-anticipated sequel to the original Savage Mode mixtape, which was released over four years ago. To add even more credibility and anticipation to the album, the dynamic duo of 21 Savage and Metro Boomin enlisted the aid of the legendary actor Morgan Freeman, who provides narration throughout the album. With all the big names involved in this project, Savage Mode II easily captured the number one spot on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 171,000 units in its first week. However, commercial success does not always translate to overall quality. At the end of the second track, “Runnin,” Freeman poses the very important question, “Are things better or worse the second time around? Can we really do anything more than once?” In the case of Savage Mode II, the answer is a resounding yes!

The album begins with the intro track where Freeman details the many times that great men have found themselves in the same place at the same time during the course of history to work as one on important projects. Savage Mode II is said to be one of these important projects as two great men, 21 Savage and Metro Boomin, join forces to give the world this highly anticipated album. 

The feature song of the album, “Runnin,” is up next. Both artists are clearly in their comfort zone with this track. Metro Boomin produces a beat with his signature use of drums and bass. In the background he loops a sample of Diana Ross from her song, “I Thought It Took a Little Time.” This sample sets the pace for the track and helps 21 Savage seamlessly rap in between the loops of Ross. Two tracks later Metro Boomin completely changes gears to utilize an R&B type beat as Drake joins the duo on the track “Mr. Right Now.” This track is enjoyable and highlights the versatility of 21 Savage’s cadence and delivery as well as Metro Boomin’s flexibility with his beats. 

The following track, “Rich N***a Sh*t,” is arguably the best track on the album. This song continues the R&B-like delivery and beat established on the previous track while also featuring Young Thug. The hook on this track is one of the strongest on the album, the beat is melodic and works extremely well with the R&B tone of the track and Young Thug delivers easily the best feature on the album. Everything comes together so perfectly on this track and makes it an obvious standout on the album. 

The remainder of the album is solid and supplies enjoyable content for fans of these artists. On the back-half of the album, songs like “Many Men” and “My Dawg” are entertaining, but there are other tracks such as “Snitches & Rats” and “RIP Luv” that are somewhat derivative of the artists’ previous works and don’t offer anything new and worthwhile to experienced listeners. On the final track “Said N Done,” Freeman concludes the album by stating, “Until next time, stay in Savage Mode”.

Overall, this album was an enjoyable listen for both 21 Savage and Metro Boomin fans. Although I don’t believe Savage Mode II surpasses any of the artists’ previous projects in quality, it certainly does hold its own. This album has plenty of replayable tracks for listeners to come back to. Listening to Morgan Freeman talk about the difference between Snitches and Rats should be reason enough for anyone on the fence about listening to this album to give it a chance. Until next time, stay in Savage Mode. 

Top 5 Halloween Movies

 Lillian Beach

Staff Writer

 

I’ve always loved anything scary and was fascinated with ghost stories and horror movies as a kid. I’ve carried that fascination with me into college. Having watched my fair share of horror movies, I ranked my top five favorites!

  1. “Coraline”

As a kid, this was one of the only scary movies that really terrified me. The Other Mother and her button eyes were enough to give me nightmares. I absolutely love the stop-motion style of this film; it totally helps create a spooky ambiance. I’ve always thought of this movie as a kind of anti-Narnia, where Coraline finds the entrance to a disturbing and off-kilter world instead of an enchanting one. I watch this movie again and again to find myself wrapped up in its horrifying, yet somehow charming, world.

  1. “The Conjuring”

I’ve seen this movie a couple of times and always enjoy it. The story follows a family who moves into a haunted house and hires a husband-wife team of demonologists, the Warrens, to investigate the paranormal occurrences within the house. This reminds me of “The Haunting of Hill House” as a movie. It’s the only movie in “The Conjuring” series I have seen, but I plan on watching more! I’d say this is a classic horror movie, great for watching with friends. 

  1. “Super Dark Times”

This movie is a thriller and one of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a dark coming of age story that follows two young boys who are best friends and who one day experience a traumatizing accident. The boys try to cover up what has happened, but things get more unhinged as the film goes on. The deterioration of their mental states progresses until it reaches a peak. The whole film is also shot in a way that makes the viewer feel uneasy. The ending leaves you thinking, though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look up the explanation five minutes after the film ended. I wouldn’t recommend this movie for people who are uneasy with blood, but I think it’s definitely worth a watch.

  1. “The Shining”

I am a huge Stephen King fan and, having read the book, I wanted to see the movie. This movie is great, the cinematography is amazing and Jack Nicholson does a fantastic job at playing Jack Torrance. This film does a good job at building up suspense and uses that to its advantage. This is another classic horror movie and one I would recommend to watch if you haven’t already.

  1. “IT

Again, huge Stephen King fan. “IT” might be my favorite book, so naturally I had to see the 2016 movie. Something about a horror/coming of age movie combines everything I enjoy watching. The kids’ naivety and innocence coupled with the very adult themes of murder and fear make for a unique viewing experience. Pennywise is horrifying and the perfect monster. This movie had everything for me, and I would consider it my favorite horror film so far!

Beyond fabric: Kindness through fiber arts

Allison Ringold

Staff Writer

 

In an age when machines are the norm, it’s not uncommon to think of the fiber arts as old-fashioned. Although the practices of knitting, crocheting, basket weaving, etc. have been around for centuries, they are more relevant now than ever.

While many are suffering because of the current global pandemic, Knot Another Fiber Arts Society (KAFAS) is continuously finding ways to help those in need. According to Community Service Coordinator Maud Bulman ’23, KAFAS is “currently crafting items to be donated to a church downtown, who will see that our items make it to those who need warm items such as Afghans, hats, scarves and mittens. We are also collaborating with International Student Services to provide handmade hats, scarfs, mittens, etc. to the Winter Coat Drive this year.” Additionally, Bulman noted that “all collected items are to be quarantined in a bag from three days to a week, and all items will be washed prior to donation” in order to keep recipients safe.

KAFAS isn’t new to community service. “As community service coordinator I look for projects where our work can benefit other people, rather than only creating things for ourselves. Fiber arts has everything to do with community service because as artists, we have the ability to create things that benefit other people,” explained Bulman.

However, the fiber arts are about more than just community service. KAFAS President Diane Tierney ’21 is a seasoned fiber arts creator. “My introduction to fiber arts was my mother’s attempt to make her only child stop driving her crazy on a rainy weekend in third grade. She sat me down in the living room and taught me how to knit, with a library cassette tape audiobook playing in the background,” she remembered. “Recently in the past couple of years, I have begun to broaden my scope to needlepoint, crochet, basketry, spinning and weaving.”

As demonstrated by Tierney and Bulman, KAFAS has proven to be as modern as the current pandemic. In a world in which most goods are mass-produced by machines, KAFAS teaches the campus community what some handmade art and a little kindness can really do.