Hey look, a music review! – Mizzter J – BreadCrumbz

So for those who still don’t have a clue why this blog exists, it’s for yours truly to write reviews. But not just any reviews. I’m actually reviewing stuff that interests me (movies, music and whatever else comes to mind). Hell, if I wanted to, I’d do a review about the Project Runway season that just ended, and where Trinidad’s own Anya Ayoung-Chee became the winner! But I’d do that if I gave a crap about the entire series, and if I had time….and I don’t have either. This is the reason why my last review was written about three weeks ago. Lots of shit to do, lots of stuff to see and so little time. Sigh…..

Which brings me to my very first music review. Or should I say mixtape review. For those who’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, and for those who absolutely don’t know jack shit about rap music, a mixtape is a compilation of songs made either by a DJ or a DJ/rapper duo or a rapper or a rap group. They’re not expensive to acquire like ORIGINAL CDs and could be found online for free download. Sometimes,  a rapper who has a little too much time on his hands (Lil Wayne, Fabolous, among others) releases a mixtape. But more than likely, a mixtape is made by a DJ who wants to show off his skill or an up-and-coming rapper who just wants the world to hear his voice.

Which brings me to Jonathan Alleyne a.k.a. Mizzter J. Born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Jonathan and his family moved to San Fernando, Trinidad, whe he was only 5 years old. At age 8, he started rapping. He pursued information technology at COSTAATT (College of Science, Technology and Applied Arts of Trinidad and Tobago) where, at the same time, he met ….that’s right…. yours truly! Ever since then, we’ve been great friends. We both left COSTAATT with Associate Degrees. But while I pursued film in the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, Jonathan flew back to the U.S. in 2008 to help support his brother, who was pursuing aerospace engineering. At age 21, he joined the U.S. Army. At age 24, his current age, he started his master’s degree in Information Security.

But what does all this have to do with rap music, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you! While in basic army training, Jonathan took part in rap battles. Last year, he made the decision to seriously pursue a career in rap. He started with a mixtape called the “Tabanca Mixtape” and followed that with “Fantasy Island”. “BreadCrumbz” makes it his third mixtape in his career so far, and I was fortunate enough to get a copy of it from Mizzter J himself! YAY ME!

Now keep in mind, folks… this is MY review. This is in no way bashing Mizzter J or any of his affiliates, nor is it my way of telling you NOT to listen to this mixtape. I personally asked him if I could review the mixtape, and he agreed. So please don’t think that this is an attempt to write a bunch of bullshit and call it a review. Besides, I can’t rap to save my own fucking life!

Anyhoo, on to the review…at last! I’ll try to be as concise as possible.

1. SOMEDAY (ft. David Ray & Lil Scoot)

The mixtape begins, as most albums do, where the lead rapper talks about his road to success. After a few sound bytes from the late great West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur, we are treated to an inspirational R&B chorus from David Ray . After the chorus, Mizzter J comes in strong. The guest rapper, Lil Scoot, delivers a good second verse. Overall, the track served its purpose, but a third verse from Mizzter J wouldn’t have hurt.

2. CALM DOWN

And now, Mizzter J talks about the state of affairs in Trinidad, from unguided youth to crime and vagrancy. For a social commentary track, this song WORKS! If rap ever becomes taken fucking seriously in Trinidad, this is the kind of shit that local rappers should be talking about. Well done!

3. BREADCRUMBZ

The title track of the mixtape. By the piano and hard drums on the beat, and Mizzter J’s hard lyricism, you would think that this song was about living the thug life or some generic shit like that. It sounds that serious! But it’s actually about J trying to find his way through the bullshit of life, while keeping in mind where he came from. Hence, breadcrumbs. It’s a metaphor, people! COME ON! Decent track by the way.

4. LYRIC SLAVIN’ (ft. Datboy & POP)

Just when you think this album was going to be entirely depressing, we get a CLUB SONG! Finally! Something happy and fun to listen to! The beat had my head bopping throughout, and the chorus was catchy enough. Also, Mizzter J was nice enough to have his guests rap before him. Now isn’t that considerate?

5. CROOKS

Mizzter J takes his first stab in the album at an old school beat. The beat of choice is the FUCKING AWESOME “Crooklyn” beat produced by (rapper/producer/member of the greatest rap group that ever existed a.k.a. A Tribe Called Quest) Q-Tip. Lyrically, J slices and dices the shit out of this beat!  Here, he spits arguably the best lyrics the album has to offer so far. Or maybe it’s because anyone can sound dope over that beat. Any which way you take it, this was a damn impressive track! Well done!

6. FREEDOM REIGNS

A beef song?! WTF?! J’s target is Soulja Boy, the embodiment of everything that hip hop heads like yours truly hate about hip hop. This song is based on a comment that Soulja said about the U.S. Army, and J, who was in the Army himself, kicks the shit out of him. He uses Lil Wayne’s “I am not a Human Being” beat well enough to get his point across. I love the line “You wanna be Superman….dodge some bullets”. That shit had me laughing!

7. THE VALLEY (Interlude)

I like the use of the Ennio Morricone-inspired beat from Jay-Z’s song “Blueprint 2” for this  interlude, but I found myself reminiscing of the days when I foolishly thought that the “Blueprint 2” album was actually the shit – instead of what it really is. The lyrics are aight, but they didn’t stand out to me for some reason. I guess it’s the beat. Ah well, you can’t win them all. On to the next track…

8. PLAYER WAYZ

Which begins with a nice piano solo…. and then some hard-hitting R&B drums…. and then lyrics by Mizzter J about the ups and downs of maintaining a relationship with a girl that he may, or may not, have feelings for. He makes it even more personal by singing the chorus, which is okay in terms of the song. This is the first of his songs dedicated to the opposite sex, and for what it’s worth, it works.  The beat saves it from being forgettable. Speaking of beat…

9. I WISH

Notorious B.I.G.’s “Sky’s the Limit” …. SPED UP?! WTF?! This was the first thought that came to my mind when I heard this track. The original, and FUCKING AWESOME, slow-paced beat is sped up in Mizzter J’s simple-lyric love song to a girl. He also sings the chorus for this song, and in its simplicity, it’s not bad. Whether it was just someone playing with Virtual DJ or not, the sped-up Biggie beat works well with the vibe of the song. Not bad, Johnny! Not bad at all!

10. MAKE IT YOURS

Yet another love song by Mizzter J. Here, he raps over a 80s synthesizer-like beat. The beat itself is REALLY GOOD, and J flows well over the beat. What takes the track down a couple of notches though is a bit of skipping that takes place near the end of the song.

11.  NEVER LET IT OUT OF MY MIND (ft. D. Nicol)

Enough with the love shit….now for some hardcore lyrics! Just playing. But honestly, this is another track where Mizzter J delivers some BRILLIANT lyricism.  My favourite line has to be “I fuck with your mind, I got a degree in common sense”. His guest is the white rapper D. Nicol, who delivers some great lyrics. Together, they make this track one of the best on the album. They should really do a collabo album one day. I’m just saying.

12. TWISTED LOVE

Now this is a track that Lil Wayne would sound comfortable in. And speaking of which, Mizzter J’s lyrics work good with the rap rock beat, but his rhyme pattern is somewhat familiar to Weezy’s lyrical style. Or maybe I was thinking too much about Weezy while listening to this beat. Too much Weezy is really bad for your health, I guess!

13. ROGER THAT (ft. Ladyflexx & POP)

Finally, a female rapper steps in the album. In this track, which is exactly what you expected – a version of Young Money’s smash hit “Roger That”, Ladyflexx takes the position of Nicki Minaj. Luckily, she’s no Nicki….and really, who needs another Nicki in the rap game? Her lyrics, as well as everyone else, is okay. POP sounds like he was having a helluva time while recording this track though.

14. INCREDIBLE

Admittedly, I heard Mizzter J’s freestyle over Trae’s “Incredible” before, but I never really felt it. Yeah, he took shots at the haters, but I really wasn’t feeling this track….UNTIL NOW! I never fancied the beat, but J flows so well on the beat that I actually like it now. Oh, and the track? Yeah, it’s fucking great! Another point for J!

15. I’M IN THA HOOD

Hard-hitting beats….check! Simplistic chorus….check!But the lyrics don’t match with the song’s title though. Not to say J’s bragging lyrics aren’t good, but I felt that he should have stuck with the “hood” aspect, which is what the title suggests. Not a bad effort The beat fucking KNOCKS, by the way!

16. DON’T STRAY (ft. Fre$h)

Ah yes! “The Food”.. one of my favourite beats from Kanye West. J and his guest go back to the theme of the first track about life’s struggles and seeking a better way. This was a really good way to wind down tonight’s proceedings. The third stanza gets points in my book!

17. YEAR OF THE J

The soul beat in this track reminds me of something that Outkast would rap over. The hand claps and saxophone makes you feel as if you’re in a juke joint in the 1930s – if you know about stuff like that. The song itself isn’t as depressing that I thought it would be as a final track. Actually, it was a really fun track. Great way to end the album, J.

Except….

18. (BONUS TRACK) READY, SET, GO (ft. MDP)

We get a bonus track. Darn it! Just when I was getting ready to leave. Anyhoo, this is another club track where J sings the simple, yet catchy chorus. The beat is really good, and the guests try their hardest to get the girls “down to da floe”. J spits the most in this track, and just like in “Lyric Slavin”, he waits till the third verse to spit his bars.

MY THOUGHTS: Mizzter J does a damn good job with his latest mixtape. His lyricism has improved considerably since “Fantasy Island” and his writing has developed a great deal. But what makes “BreadCrumbz” truly work is its consistency. The tracks are arranged well, and apart from the interlude (which was aight but questionable in terms of its presence in the album’s playlist), nothing seems out of place. The beats are well-selected and they work with J’s various lyrical deliveries. Also, I have to give the man credit for singing his own choruses. Mizzter still has a long way to go in the rap game, but for now, this mixtape works as a declaration that he is DEFINITELY in the building, and he does have something to say.

SHOULD I LISTEN TO THIS ALBUM?: I recommend that you give this album a listen. And not because I’m J’s friend. It’s a really decent album, regardless of what I say about it. And to the haters, some of these tracks on this mixtape are already on YouTube and iTunes right now as I type. So stop hating and start supporting up-and-coming rappers. When Weezy gets too old, stops rapping and starts wheezing, you’re going to be looking for the next big thing. The ones that you’re dissing right now could be on top very soon. You never know.  The rap game is that crazy.

Here’s my link to the “BreadCrumbz” album, just in case you were wondering where you can get it. Give it a listen, and leave a comment if you like. You can also check Mizzter J’s page on Facebook as well.

http://www.mediafire.com/?64wdf8hrc28e8fp

MY RATING: 4 out of 5 stars – Worth listening to.

– Matthew

See this movie before you die – “The Lion King” (1994)

Long, long time ago, before the beginning of time…. actually, back in 1937, Walt Disney Animated Studios released their first feature-length animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”.  I could imagine families viewing it for the first time in 1937, and being swept away by the colours, the characters, the story, the music and the all-round experience of the film. Which reminds me of the first time I saw 1994’s “The Lion King”.

I was a wee little lad, no younger than 10 years old, when I first saw this film. I was in primary school at that time, and my class was taken to the cinema to see it. Schoolchildren were jumping up and down, waiting for the film to start. And when it did….and we heard the opening for “Circle of Life”, we were glued to the screen. We were attentive (and a lot more attentive than we were in class) with what took place in the film. We were swept away with the colours, the characters, the story, the music and the SHEER AWESOMENESS that was “The Lion King”. Our lives were changed forever.

During the 90s, Disney was “king” (Get it? King? Ha ha. Oh. Okay.) of summer and Christmas movies. A summer movie-going experience wasn’t complete without a Disney movie, especially an animated one. “Beauty and the Beast”….”Aladdin”…. as a kid, you couldn’t wait for the next Disney animated film to come out. But it was “The Lion King” that truly made Disney a juggernaut when it came to family films. If you’re like me, you can remember the first time you saw the film, and the emotions you felt while you watched it …..or if you slept through the film or not. The movie was so huge that it won 2 Oscars, spawned a successful franchise, 2 sequels, a TV series based on two popular side characters and a Broadway play.

Admittedly, I haven’t watched “The Lion King” in YEARS. The last time I saw it was back in 1994. Believe it or not. SHAME ON ME! Long story short, it’s 2011 and the movie is re-released in 3D. I haven’t had the privilege of experiencing the film in 3D, but that didn’t stop me from reminding myself what the big deal was about “The Lion King”.

PLOT

I’ll try to keep this brief, since everybody and their great, great, grandmother saw “The Lion King” already. For everyone else who really haven’t seen the film, here goes. Mufasa the lion rules Pride Rock and the animals that live there. Mufasa and his wife Sarabi have a son called Simba, who is obviously destined to be king. But after Mufasa is murdered by his evil brother Scar, Simba runs away. He meets a meerkat (Timon) and a warthog (Pumbaa) and together, they travel the land. One day, an older Simba confronts Nala, a lioness and potential love interest for our hero. She convinces Simba to return to Pride Rock to reclaim the throne from Scar, who have reduced the once joyous kingdom into one of darkness and despair.

CHARACTERS

Simba –  Matthew Broderick (he’ll always be Ferris Bueller to me)

Mufasa – James Earl Jones (a.k.a. DARTH VADER)

Scar – Jeremy Irons (if they offered an Academy Award for best voice in an animated feature in 1994, he would get it….. I’m just saying!)

Nala – Moira Kelly (she plays Karen Roe in “One Tree Hill” –  a TV series that I WON’T WATCH BEFORE I DIE….I’m just saying!)

Timon – Nathan Lane (a Broadway favourite)

Pumbaa – Ernie Sabella (I guess he did some other stuff, but I still see him as the guy who played Pumbaa)

MY THOUGHTS: From the sunrise that opens the film, and the opening refrain of “Circle of Life”, I felt myself transported back to that cinema 17 years ago  Amazingly, the film still feels as vibrant as it was when I first saw it, and it doesn’t feel old or dated. The visuals are still spectacular, the animation is still impressive by today’s standards and of course, the music…. my God, the music…. is still powerful. What I forgot however was the fact that though it is a 2D animated film, there was still elements of 3D in it ( I realized this when I saw the wildebeest stampede scene by the way). The characters of the film are still appealing. You cheer for Simba, you laugh at Timon and Pumbaa (who had their own TV show just in case you were wondering) and you boo at Scar. And speaking of Scar,  as I mentioned above, if there was an Academy Award category for “Best Voice in an animated feature” in 1994, Jeremy Irons would have won it! With his wry British accent, Jeremy embodies the sarcasm, craftiness and fiendishly villainy of Scar perfectly. Yes, James Earl Jones was a great voice actor for Musafa, but for my money, Jeremy was better! And since the film is a musical, I must say that the songs, from “Hakuna Matata” to the Oscar-winning “Can you Feel the Love Tonight” still sound great today.

SHOULD I SEE THIS FILM?  6 words – SEE THIS MOVIE BEFORE YOU DIE! If you haven’t seen it, go and see it! If you’ve seen it once like me, go see it again! If you’ve seen it a lot, then you should at least experience it in 3D. “The Lion King” represents the marriage of animation and the Broadway musical, it represents the universal power of animation and it represents the height of animated films in general. And dare I say, it is the last great Disney 2D animated movie that was ever made! Not to say that their other 2D animated films weren’t great, but come on…. do you remember the song from “Pocahontas?”. No? It was called “Colours of the Wind”, it was sung by Vanessa Williams, and it won an Academy Award. Still not ringing any bells? Okay, do you remember the songs from “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” or “Hercules”? Were there any songs in “Hercules”? Does anybody remember what those films were about? I rest my case.

Now go take your place in the circle of life. It moves us all.

MY RATING – 5 out of 5 stars (“See this movie before you die”)

– Matthew

Definitely see this movie – “Drive” (2011)

2011 – the year of the car movie. This year, we have had not one, but FOUR movies dedicated to cars:- Nicolas Cage’s “Drive Angry 3D” which apparently SUCK3D BALLS; the HIGHLY ENTERTAINING “Fast Five” which literally jump started the old car that is the Fast and Furious franchise; “Cars 2” which was a notch down from the awesomeness of Pixar animated movies, and now this….

Drive

“Drive” -the new film from Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn that’s already generating a lot of buzz from critics and viewers alike. It stars  Ryan Gosling (a.k.a. “everybody’s favourite pretty boy”),  Ron Perlman (a.k.a. “Hellboy”), Bryan Cranston (a.k.a. Walter White from “Breaking Bad”, one of the BEST shows on TV right now) and Albert Brooks (a.k.a. the guy who did the voice of Marlin in “Finding Nemo”). At first glance, “Drive” appears to be your standard heist-gone-wrong/double-crossing/out-for-revenge type of action thrillers. But believe me, it’s much more than that.

What “Drive” actually does is take that same formula which has been used before in many other crime films, and envision it in an ‘arthouse’ style. For those not knowledgeable of the term, ‘arthouse’ refers to the ‘art film’ or ‘art cinema’, which refer to films which stray away from mainstream Hollywood movie conventions. This type of film requires you to use your BRAIN, which is always suggested that you “leave at the door” before you watch certain movies (“Fast Five”, anyone?). There’s a lot of thought put into these films, and there is always a deeper meaning to what is being shown.

Obviously, I’m a huge fan of arthouse cinema. I love films that challenge my mind and my perception of what I’m watching. (You should be taking notes at this point) Whether it’s the vision of futuristic youths gone bad in “A Clockwork Orange”, or an android’s quest for more life in “Blade Runner”, or white-collar workers gone anarchist in “Fight Club” or the reverse chronological narrative of “Memento”, these films have something to offer on an intellectual level. And in a sense, they represent “Anti-Hollywood”, which when you think about it, is pretty much self-explanatory.

So, will “Drive” become a arthouse cinema classic or is it just another film that made us think too much about cars…..and Ryan Gosling? Let’s see, shall we?

PLOT

He’s a stunt driver in a movie set. He’s a getaway driver for robberies. He never works for the same people twice. And his identity is unknown. They call him ‘Driver’ (BUM BUM BUMMMMMM!!!). Sounds like the intro of an 80s TV show, doesn’t it? Speaking of 80s….matter of fact, I’ll get to that later. Anyhoo, ‘Driver’ works in a garage owned by a guy named Shannon. Shannon has just become partners with a mobster named Bernie Rose and a Jewish mobster named Nino. ‘Driver’ is a quiet, moody individual who lives alone in an apartment. This all changes when he starts communicating with his neighbour Irene, the mother of a little boy named Benicio.

One day, Irene’s husband Standard returns home from prison. He owes protection money to a shady character named Cook. Cook threatens Standard to do a job (i.e. heist) for him which, if he refuses, will result in his family being killed. ‘Driver’, concerned for the well-being of Irene and Benicio, offers to play wheelman for the job. However, the job goes wrong and ‘Driver’ realizes that he was double crossed. ‘Driver’ does what every stunt/getaway driver does when he’s double crossed – find the fuckers who betrayed him and MAKE THEM PAY (BUM BUM BUMMMMMM!!!). However, the real person(s) pulling the strings put(s) out a contract on ‘Driver’s’ head. With Irene’s family as a target, and with his own life on the line, ‘Driver’ must uncover the truth before his time runs out (BUM BUM BUMMMMMM!!!).

CHARACTERS

‘Driver’  – Ryan Gosling

Irene – Carey Mulligan

Shannon – Bryan Cranston

Bernie Rose – Albert Brooks

Nino – Ron Perlman

Standard – Oscar Ross

Benicio – Kaden Leos

Cook – James Biberi

MY THOUGHTS: From the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City-font opening credits and the 80s retro-synthesizer music, you know you’re going to experience something special. After the AWESOME opening sequence, the film slows down, and we get to see the development of the characters involved in the story. This is the dramatic section of the film and I must honestly admit that it does take a good while before it picks up speed. And just when you’re wondering what direction the film is going, BOOM! The robbery goes wrong, and all hell breaks loose! The story switches from the glimpse into the life of the main character, to the main character TAKING OTHER PEOPLE’S LIVES! The performances in this film are well-done, but the stand-out performance, of course, goes to Ryan Gosling. He starts off as quiet, always to himself, not talking much. When he meets Carey Mulligan’s character, he opens up and smiles a little bit more. When her family, and his life, is threatened, he unleashes his BADASSERY (yes, I know, that’s not a real word….yet)! He is indeed a character that you do not want to fuck with, and Ryan plays him perfectly. The music is well-done, the cinematography is SUPERB and the car chases, though not many, are still brilliantly shot.

Oh yeah, I’ve GOT to mention this. And don’t worry, I’m not going to reveal all the details. There’s one scene involving Ryan, Carey and a HITMAN, which will go down in history as one of the GREATEST MOVIE SCENES OF 2011! When it begins, you’re like “Holy shit! What’s going to happen next?”. Then it turns to a “MTV Best Kiss” between Ryan and Carey which will, undoubtedly, have ALL THE WOMEN in the audience sighing with pleasure. But the end of the sequence, which does not involve Carey, will have ALL THE GUYS in the audience going BATSHIT CRAZY! If you haven’t fainted after the kiss, then you’d probably faint after what happens after it. So you see, “Drive” is much more than a standard revenge movie. It’s a DATE MOVIE! 😀

SHOULD I SEE THIS FILM? HELL YES! I said it after I watched it, and I’m saying it again. “Drive” is now in my top 10 best movies list of 2011! (And just so you know, “Fast Five” is up there too. I can’t help it – it was really decent! ) But be warned, this is a film of acquired taste. Though the title of the film is “Drive, don’t expect a lot of insane car chases and dangerous car stunts like “Fast Five”. Though it’s an action film, although more of a thriller than anything else, don’t expect a lot of gun battles and explosions. Though it’s a Ryan Gosling movie, don’t expect to see him shirtless like in “Crazy, Stupid Love”. And this is one reason why I really enjoyed this film. Ryan proved once again that he has more to him than looks. The dude can ACT! The film itself is rather violent, but only when it needs to be, so don’t let the blood stop you from enjoying it. “Drive” is a well-made, well-shot and well-acted movie that will eventually become an arthouse cinema classic. Arthouse cinema fans should definitely see it. If you’re curious about arthouse cinema, you should give this film a look. If you know right off the bat that this isn’t your cup of tea, then watch “Fast Five”….for the FIFTEENTH TIME! When you’re finally fed up of Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, go watch “Drive”.

MY RATING – 4 1/2 out of 5 stars (“Definitely see this movie”)

– Matthew