Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

Faiyaz’s new EP is a testimony to pain and love

Kamal Morgan

Contributing Writer

I have yet to be disappointed by a Brent Faiyaz project, especially his new EP that dropped Feb. 7. “Fuck the World” is Faiyaz’s first project since his last EP, “Lost,” in 2018. “Lost” allowed his audience a look into his daily struggles of being a black man in the United States. He looks at black men’s portrayal in the media, self-reliance, loyalty, addiction and trust. Fai- yaz’s new EP continues with these ideas but concentrates on building a relationship with himself and others. He tries to be vulnerable with his love in- terests by tearing out his heart and exposing his insecurities, emotions and mental health.

The first track “Skyline” opens up with Faiyaz asking, “Do you know what makes this world go ‘round?” He is trying to figure out why things happen the way they do, do we have control of our lives and what do we hope to live for. Faiyaz is focusing on the energy we channel through us and how it affects everyone, not just ourselves. We must be willing to be aware of our actions because ignorance of our emotions will harm not only us but those who we cherish. He wants to have positive energy even in a loveless world because he has seen the despair in the face of men who could not deal with their emotions constructively and let it crush them.

“Clouded” and “Been Away” are painful reflections into his current mental state and having international fame. He imagines a world without him and how those around him will be affected by this loss. He parties, meets celebrities and lives his life to the fullest, but he always has an out-of-body experience where he questions if all of this is truly worth it as he sings, “Now I’m at the turn up, lookin’ lonely.” Will this fame and money have any true value if he still feels alone with his thoughts? Question- ing his value continues into “Been Away” where he wants a woman to wait for him while he is making money and im- proving his life. The chorus echoes his plea: “I’m just tryna get my paper straight, girl/ Don’t give my shit away” for the woman to not forget about him and their past and to wait for him to grow up.

This EP would be incomplete without stopping to em- brace the power self-love has within each person, which he explores in “Let Me Know.” Love has power that binds people together and trumps evil lurking in the shadows. It allows for people to believe in themselves and have trust in one another and most importantly provide intimacy. Faiyaz sings, “Could somebody else know you, if you don’t know you, you’re searchin.’” He is transparent and truthful because we can not rely on others to give us hope and assurance on ourselves. We must find that in our hearts, find the love that is buried in the dark and let it out for the world to see.

Faiyaz transitions from being a lost black man in America to accepting the good with the bad. He has embraced that life will bring its stumbles, but if he pushes forward with self- love in his heart then nothing can stop him in his journey to enlightenment.

“2017-2019” is a success as a follow-up album

January and February are normally a bit of a dry season when it comes to new releases, be it movies, albums or what have you, so I usually find myself waiting until the year’s halfway through to find things that I enjoy. That’s why I found myself pleasantly surprised when electronic musician, Nicolas Jaar, put out his second release under the stage name Against All Logic, the fantastic “2017-2019.”

The title, similar to his previous release “2012-2017,” leads one to think that these Against All Logic records are meant to function as compilations of music Jaar’s composed throughout the year rather than a project with a singular focus, but — like the best compilations — it’s strong all the way through and it always feels cohesive. It acts as a sort of spiritual successor to his previous release under this name, but while that project generally stayed within the confines of the deep house genre, “2017- 2019” dabbles in just about every electronic genre you can think of. In this regard, the album really does feel like a spiritual sequel that shows more than enough growth to merit its status as a follow-up to a beloved original work. Just looking at the title, I could see how someone might think that this release must be more rushed than its predecessor — something which spans five years instead of two — but the quality of this project is a testament to Jaar’s talent.

The opener, “Fantasy,” is a schmorgasbord of incredible sounds, with a propelling, glitchy rhythm that revolves around a heavily manipulated Beyoncé sample in addition to fantastic keyboard melodies and a vinyl-like crackle and pop that permeates throughout the five-minute track. Another highlight, “With an Addict,” features frantic breakbeats that are occasionally washed in pulsating, reverb-heavy synths, not un- like what music playing at a party sounds like in the bathroom. Except, the breakbeats are no less dominating. It’s like the first chorus of Frank Ocean’s “Nights” if the drumbeat were hellbent on bludgeoning you to death. It’s an experiment in gratuitous repetition that completely pays off. “If You Can’t Do It Good, Do It Hard” features vocals by the legendary no-wave singer Lydia Lunch on what must be the most abrasive song under the Against All Logic name, while songs like “If Loving You Is Wrong” and “Penny” add IDM elements to compositions that would feel right at home on “2012-2017.” No tracks overstay their welcome or are flat out bad or mediocre, and even at its weakest, this is still far more captivating than the average album.

Over the last decade, Jaar has established himself as one of the most prolific and creative electronic artists working today, and “2017- 2019” shows that he’s clearly not done adding to his already impres- sive legacy. I’m beyond excited to see where Jaar takes his sound next, and as this album shows, whatever direction he takes won’t be easy to predict or contain within predetermined expectations. It just has to be experienced, which I think is the most exciting feeling you can possibly have when delving into a contemporary artist’s catalogue.

This year’s Oscars provided a unique experience

Colin Tobin

Contributing Writer

The 92nd Academy Awards came with many surprises. The big winner of the night was Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite,” taking home four awards. Other films with multiple wins included “1917” with three, and “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” “Joker” and “Ford v Ferrari” each with two. Just like last year, the show went hostless.

Janelle Monáe opened the show with a performance of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and “I’m Still Standing” while finding a way to reference the past year in film through cos- tumes. I found it ironic that the majority of the costumes that the performance used were from films that were complete- ly snubbed from any nomina- tions. Some of them included the Tethered from “Us,” color-ful suits from “Dolemite is My Name” and the flower dress from “Midsommar.”

The acting categories were pretty predictable this year with Brad Pitt, Laura Dern, Renée Zellweger and Joaquin Phoenix winning for their respective performances. The biggest surprises of the night all took place in other major categories: Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Picture, all of which went to Bong Joon-ho and the talented team behind “Parasite.” Bong Joon-ho gave the best speech of the night as he accepted his award for Best Director. He cited Martin Scorsese as being one of his main influences and thanked Quen- tin Tarantino for featuring his films on his “must watch” lists in the past to get his name out there. His shock in winning was genuine, as most predicted that Sam Mendes would take the award for “1917.” He concluded two of his speeches saying that he was “ready to drink” but, sadly for him, they just kept giving him awards. It’s impossible to dislike the man. With his wins, Joon-ho tied Walt Disney with most Oscars won in a single night with four and broke the record for most Oscars won for a single film for one person. “Para- site” became the first South Korean film to win for Best International Feature Film as well as the first film not in the English language to win Best Picture.

One of my favorite moments of the night came from the montage tribute to original music from the past. At the end of the montage, all the music cut out and a silhouetted fig- ure rose out of the stage to a familiar-sounding melody. The lights flashed on and it was Eminem performing his Oscar- winning song “Lose Yourself.” There was absolutely no reason for him to be there performing this song 18 years after it came out, but it was still really cool to watch everyone’s reactions, especially Martin Scorsese sitting with his eyes closed.

Without a host, most of the focus of the ceremony was placed on the presenters. Easily the funniest, most entertaining presentation was for Best Visual Effects which featured James Corden and Rebel Wilson in cat costumes. They noted their expertise in the subject due to their involvement in the film adaptation of “Cats.” Also, history was made with one of this year’s presenters. Actor Zack Gottsagen became the first person with Down syndrome to present an Academy Award.

Hopefully this year’s results will urge the public to seek out and watch “Parasite” as well as other foreign films. I can’t remember an awards season that featured a film with this amount of universal praise surrounding it. For once, the internet didn’t go into a frenzy after the Best Picture announcement; instead, it was a celebration. If you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend it enough. For once the Academy chose the most deserving film, and creative team, to win.

Lil Wayne’s “Funeral” ultimately falls flat

Jackson Lovchuk

Contributing Writer

On Jan. 1, 2020 Hip Hop artist Lil Wayne released his thirteenth studio album “Funeral.” Shortly after, on Jan. 9, 2020, “Funeral” became Lil Wayne’s fifth studio album to reach number one on the billboard charts. Many artists struggle to maintain relevance and popularity as their careers age and new artists arrive on the music scene, but Lil Wayne has managed to remain a large part of the culture and his streaming numbers are certainly a reflection of this. However, despite the commercial success of “Funeral” it is one of Lil Wayne’s lowest quality albums produced to date and is a definite regression from his previous album, “Tha Carter V,” which was released towards the end of 2018.

Lil Wayne is known for producing long albums filled with plenty of songs for his fans. In the past, this length has not been a problem, but for “Funeral,” it certainly stands out as the album’s biggest weakness. The project contains 24 songs and lasts one hour and 16 minutes. If Lil Wayne decided to cut out some of the weaker tracks in the album like “Get Outta My Head”, “Bastard” and “Bing James,” the album would have been much more fluid and a better listen for fans. In addition, the hooks for the majority of the tracks were very weak and forgettable. Once again, cutting out tracks would have solved a lot of the hook problems that Lil Wayne’s tracks posed throughout the album.

An additional solution would have included Lil Wayne bringing in more guest features or samples oriented around providing the hook for the track. Two of the stronger tracks on the album “I Do It (ft. Big Sean, Lil Baby)” and “Trust Nobody (ft. Adam Levine)” included features providing a hook, allowing Lil Wayne to focus on his plethora of strengths which include his famous ad lib verses, vocal inflections and transitions throughout a song. Despite the flaws, these strengths are utilized a good amount of times on the album, producing tracks reminiscent of prime Lil Wayne as a result.

Managing expectations is the biggest factor in the enjoyment one will receive listening to Lil Wayne’s latest album “Funeral.” If a fan goes in expecting to hear prime Lil Wayne and 24 high- quality tracks, that person will certainly be disappointed with the project. However, if one goes in understanding that this is the fourth different decade that Lil Wayne has dropped an album and not every song is going to be amazing, that person will certainly enjoy this album and easily be able to find tracks worthy of adding to their playlist.

Overall, after lowering my expectations for the album I found it was more enjoyable than I initially thought. There are a few tracks that I really enjoyed and will listen to on repeat over the coming weeks. My favorite moment on the album was the touch- ing 24-second silence that Lil Wayne added to the eighth track on the album to honor the late Kobe Bryant. The two were close friends and it was amazing to see Lil Wayne use his platform to pay homage to Kobe in his own special and meaningful way.

Mrs. Maisel breaks hearts

Saralee Renick

While other students crammed and studied for finals, two of my friends and I were busy watching season three of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.” I regret nothing. In a small study room in Ruth Williams, we cried, we laughed, we kvetched.

This season is the third in a series that follows Miriam (Midge) Maisel, a Jewish housewife turned stand-up comedian. She first discovers her talent in season one during a drunken club performance on the night Joel, her ex-husband, leaves her. There, she meets Susie, who later becomes her manager. With Susie’s encouragement, Midge begins to pursue comedy professionally. In season two, she and her family vacation to the Catskills, a popular Jewish local eat the time. While vacationing, she meets the handsome doctor Benjamin, who proposes and wins her father’s approval at the end of season two.

The first episode of season three picks up where season two left off, in the midst of heartbreak and betrayal as Midgere turns to her cheating scumbag of an ex- husband. My Jewish heart broke when she abandoned Benjamin.

In season three, Midge’s mother, Rose, tries to repair the damage done to both Benjamin’s heart and mine by acting as a matchmaker for him.This eventually backfires because Benjamin thinks that Midge is involved in this matchmaking. My friend Rachel and I could not stand it when he confronts Midge in a deli and leaves her life for good. After watching that scene, Rachel and I carry the pain of disappointment Jewish mothers across the country carry everyday.

Fortunately, Midge is reunited with Lenny Bruce, a fellow comedian, while she is on tour. They shared a lovely afternoon together that ended too soon and left us with more heart- break. In addition to Midge’s love life, other things did happen during season three. Her father, Abe, gets swept up in a young liberal movement that attempts to teach viewers about the complexities of politics during the mid-20th century. Abe’s unemployment forces him and his wife to move in with Joel’s parents, Moishe and Shirley. Considering they spawned Joel, you can imagine what living with Moishe and Shirley is like. This sets off a plot line as Rose, specifically, struggles to cope.

During this time, Susie is juggling trying to manage both Midge and Sophie Lennon, Midge’s nemesis. Susie claims she needs the extra cash, but actually has a gambling addiction. This puts a strain on her relationship with Midge, leaving viewers tense. At one point, Joel opens a club, but that is not important. Meanwhile, Midge is on tour with Shy Baldwin, an African-American gay singer. She opens each of his performances with a short stand-up routine that lacks some of the Jewish spirit we saw in season one. Through her charm and ruach, she befriends Shy’s band. Eventually she must learn about the rac- ism and homophobia that pervaded the mid-20th century. She struggles to understand this due to her privileged upbringing in New York City.

The show does a good job of presenting an overview of the bigotry in the mid-20th century, but fails to dive deeply into the issue. Midge’s naivety and just a little too much chutzpah is her downfall at the end of season three when she makes a move that upsets Shy and his manager, Reggie, while performing in Shy’s home- town. Although it was not as good as seasons one and two, season three still had us on the edge of our seats, schvitzing. I am excited to see what season four, which will be released in late 2020, will bring us. It will likely leave us asking, as all the seasons have done, “Where are her kids?!”

“Night of One-Acts” cast member reflects on experience

Left to right: Hayden Lane-Davies ’21 as Father Michael and Gerald Dryden as Joey (Photo courtesy Brian Luck ’22).

Teresa Ascencio

Contributing Writer

On Thursday, Feb. 6 and Friday, Feb. 7, the Theatre and Dance Department held their “Night of One-Acts,” a night of thrilling performances and an opportunity to witness the many facets of student talent — particularly in the arts — through both performance and directing. The two plays performed, “Within The Shadows” by Scott Shallenbarger and“Show” by Victor Bumbalo, are not only incredible contemporary dramas, but also touch on deep topics showcased beautifully through both the performers’ hard work and the student directors’ visions.

It was particularly an incredible experience for me, as it was my first time acting on stage for the College of Wooster. Furthermore, I experienced the rapid pace of performance production at the College, and I learned a lot about myself as an actress and performer. Overall, the two nights were filled with incredible performances that truly showcase the many talents present on the Wooster campus—beyond more commonly known aspects of our school, such as our talented athletic performances and well-known leadership programs.

“Within the Shadows,” a one-act play written by Scott Shallenbarger, takes place in a small apartment in New York, where two best friends — Sandra and Steven — catch up and recall memories after not seeing one another for an entire year. Sean, Sandra’s fiancé and Steven’s closest friend, has taken his own life while Steven was abroad in Europe. Combining both comedy and drama, the play explores the deep emotions both Sandra and Steven feel regarding the loss of their closest friend, Sean. This dynamic story explores the societal pressures regarding grief and the consequences of suppressing one’s deep emotions.

The one-act play “Show,” directed by Brian Luck ’22, encapsulates the struggle of Father Michael, a man “looking for God” and facing the adversary of his own self-identity. The story ventures through Michael’s time in a rest home as he receives visits from an orderly who he believes to be his lover. It further discusses the struggle of self-identity, specifically due to the effects of a confined space under a strong religious influence.

Being a part of the “Night of One Acts” was an incredible experience. I first heard about the opportunity to be cast in the show through student director Seth Green ’20, who was looking for an actress to play the role of Sandra in “Within The Shadows.” I can honestly say that I have never experienced such a fast turn-around after auditioning for a show. The process was so fast because we only had a short amount of time before our performance dates.

Overall, my castmate Gerald Dryden ’21 and I, along with the rest of the production team, had a total of nine days and 24 hours of rehearsal before we were to put on the show. So, one can imagine how quickly we had to put things together. This was also the first time I have performed within the Theatre and Dance Department at Wooster, which made the experience all the more interesting. While we had a limited amount of time before the performance dates, it made the experience all the more exciting and intriguing. I cannot wait to further discover myself as an actress and performer at the College of Wooster, and I look forward to going through the process of acting for the Wooster stage in the future.

Having the opportunity for students to both perform and direct through student-lead events enables student leadership within the arts and facilitates community growth. It is an incredible aspect of the Theatre and Dance Department at Wooster that is arguably undervalued by many students on campus. I encourage students to stretch beyond what they are comfortable with — whether that be school-run events or sports games — and also explore events run by students in the visual and performing arts here at Wooster. By doing so, students can support their fellow classmates while expanding the ways in which we think about performance around us. It is deeply significant to explore all aspects of student life on campus! After all, we are all at a liberal arts school for a reason, right?