Posts in Culture
The Looking Glass #18 - "Excelsior Bitches"
Random Acts of Podcast - No Nut To Dead Pornstars November (w/ @banksnorest)

On this week’s episode of RAOP while Devin is locked up in jail we bring on first time guest @banksnorest and we chop it up about the City Girls potentially getting cancelled, Florida Man vs California Man, King of Diamonds getting shutdown, Nia Jax being an unsafe worker and a ton more other topics. Remember to send in your listener questions to email us at MAIL@RAOPodcast.com or call 424-260-RAOP to leave a voicemail

Smino is ready to put St. Louis back on the map for good

As a person who has lived in the Tri-State area for the past 26 years, it pains me to say that the East Coast hasn't been the epicenter of hip-hop lately. We've maintained relevancy for three straight summers with anthems like OOOUUU, Unforgettable, Bodak Yellow, and Mo Bamba; but for a while now, the East hasn't strong-armed the game on a national level like the days of Wu-Tang, Bad Boy, and Roc-A-Fella.

What led me to take inventory of the power rankings for the four major regions was the sublime dominance of the Midwest in 2018. The overwhelming talent pouring out of Chicago featuring the poetic wordsmith Noname, the multisyllabic raconteur Saba, and the bombastically versatile Joey Purp to name a few, will assert the city as chief of the region. Freddie Gibbs, from nearby Gary, Indiana, and Detroit’s Payroll Giovanni, Sada Baby and Black Milk further strengthen the Midwest's claim with new material worthy of end-of-the-year list consideration.

Just south of the Chi is St. Louis: a metropolis heralded for its Cardinals and its Gateway Arch. Here to place its hip-hop scene back on the map for 2018 and beyond is the eclectic presence of Smino.

From North St. Louis, Christopher Smith Jr. has an artistry as vibrant as autumn's foliage. His multi-faceted talent was on full display throughout NOIR, the follow-up project to the 27-year-old rapper official debut blkswn from 2017. Painting Smino's style with a few broad strokes or simply typecasting him "avant-garde" would be an unfair glance. At a run-time just under an hour, NOIR is a genre-blending effort deep-rooted with hip-hop, neo-soul, funk, and RnB traditions that are remixed with an exotic twist. Although he's fairly new to public consciousness among music fans, Smino has been harnessing his craft since elementary school. "'In first grade, I wrote my first rap on my homework. I got in trouble because I was talking about robbing people and stuff—I was 7 or 8 years old,' he remembered, laughing."

Growing up in a household surrounded by music only furthered his early development. "I'm a musician. I'm into everything. My mama sang and my dad played piano—Sunday morning you can catch them still doing that at church." With hymnals and instrumentation embedded in the Smith lineage, it's no mystery how Smino became drawn to his current profession. What separates himself from many of his peers is the unique presentation of complex lines coupled with melodies that effortlessly toggle between sung and rapped. One can tell such dense and layered music is a result of years exposure to sound and dedicated practice. A novice's attempt would only create disjointed confusion; on NOIR, the listener is taken on a techni-colored journey that "neatly" explores the boundaries of audio recordings.

"My ability to just hear a harmony or sing a melody to invoke a feeling...that comes from church."

Lead singles are often mission statements to new and old fans alike. Lyrically, visually, and sonically, L.M.F. is an introduction to the unconventional world of this project:

Said she Rafiki, you a lion, Mufasa
Baby ain't nothing ’bout me PG, rated X for extraordinary

The Mary got me merry, now I'm singing like Mary Mary
The coupe going stupid, call it Cupid it's February
Lil boo got them juices, heal me up with the elderberry
Typhoon in that Poom Poom, taste better when it’s vegetarian
I milk the game like moo-moo-moo, bitch get out the way
A St. Louis nigga give you Jason Voorhees or Jayson Tatum

The Afrobeat-inspired production, handled by a familiar Sango, sounds like a cut that could easily wind up in the live-action remake of The Lion King. The fun and light-hearted bounce allow a canvas for Smino to create an authentic painting, one that's outlined with wordplay and colored in with a lively vocal performance. It may seem chaotic at first, but the infectious nature of the song will draw you back for multiple plays and a deeper dive into the music. The rest of NOIR operates in a similar fashion. The duality of this album is a strength in and of itself, which lends to the high replay value. It's great for passive listening as the soulful and smooth production from long-time confidant Monte Booker, paired with the variety of flows and melodies by Smino, makes for something to chill and vibe to. Pay closer attention to the coded lyrics and you'll grinning at his cleverness.

Active listeners will get rewarded with gems like the string of bars from the album opener KOVERT:

I ain't seen my mama in a minute
On my heart, just like a pendant
I hate thinkin' 'bout that shit, it's like a domino
Black spots up in my memory
I white out all the pain with green
That's the only color that ain't done me wrong
Damn, how I'm harming these niggas
With these harmonies, nigga
Is you a R&B nigga? Something I gotta know

Vibin' to the bop on the first couple spins then all of a sudden, that hidden coded language becomes untangled. Curious thoughts of "what else did I miss?" will lead an active listener to question every line no matter how insignificant it may seem. Highlights from NOIR include the heavy dub-infused TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD, the mellow yet active groove of FENTY SEX featuring a breezy, dominant Dreezy, and, in light of recent news, the transition from BAMx2 to the 808 thudding, strip club anthem, KRUSHED ICE featuring Valee serves as a perfect eulogy to King of Diamonds. Above all, PIZANO may be the fan favorite because of Smino's spastic flow as he spits a metaphor-filled 16 bar stanza before he melodically dips for the last five on the dismount.

However, one of the most poignant verses on NOIR is one of his most straightforward.

On HOOPTI, he raps:

I come from the north side, St. Louis, let me tell you 'bout it
Mama always worried about her baby when he leave the house
22s on the Monte Carlo, Remy in the cupholder
With the semi in the stroller, baby seat
And the back this for safety he just holdin' trivia
You never know who might be lurking over shoulders
Man I thank the Lord every time I see my niggas
Not being dramatic, life cinematic

 

Listen to “NOIR” by Smino

 

In his interview with The FADER, Smino recalls spending a lot of time in Ferguson County, where he experienced harassment from law enforcement while growing up. Before finalizing his move to Chicago to focus on music in August 2014, he returned to St. Louis for a short stay. He saw the blood-stained ground just hours after Michael Brown was killed. He was there at the first protest that sparked a national movement. He truly witnessed Ferguson firsthand. The bolded line above holds more weight with this additional context.

From the same interview:

What happened was sad, but it started a whole movement, and woke up the whole country — the world,” Smino told me. “My city did that.

“We kind of got our own planet on this planet, and in this country.” Though Smino wants his music to have a more-than-mighty impact on the universe at large, St. Louis and his people remain his first priority. “Black people only make up 13 percent of the U.S., but I’d rather satisfy that than any other percentile. If something happens to me, I know who goin’ rally behind me,” he says. “I’ve seen it.

Like a majority of the contorted lines throughout the entire album, the word NOIR has a double meaning; 1. the color "Black" in French, and; 2. a genre of crime film or fiction characterized by cynicism, fatalism, and moral ambiguity.  Across his 18-track project, Smino combines the aforementioned double meaning to create a detailed snapshot experience of Black life in modern America. It's bleak. It's joyful. It's painful. It's beautiful. It's complex, layered and sometimes, certain aspects it won't be completely understood by outsiders. No matter how difficult the circumstances get, being alive gives cause to celebrate in a creative and stylish fashion. Smino's music shares the same characteristics that helped the Midwest affirm a seat on top of the game: bold and ambitious with a subtle confidence devoid of conformities.

From a May 2017 interview with Billboard:

The shooting, Smino says, made him decide to push harder to use his voice for good. ‘It made me feel like, s—t, I’m actually feeling like I ain’t been helpful just being out here,’ he relates. ‘That’s kind of how I got to where I’m at — pushing so hard [to do] something better for the city.’

As his trajectory rises to the heights of the Gateway to the West, Smino understands the importance of his influence. By using music to express Black Excellence with this increased platform, he’ll continue to use his voice to promote the values of his heritage and culture, one melodic expression at a time. Nearly two decades earlier, Nelly was the city's trailblazer who shocked the world with his Country Grammar album. Inspired by the same unique and cryptic language laid before him, Smino has the chance to put on for The Lou not just musically, but with a social, civic duty in a way that'll have a lasting impact for years to come.

“A lot of these industry people think I’m stupid. I’m a young black male; you can’t finesse me. We’ve been getting finessed our whole lives. We get that shit! Being a black man in America feels like you’re on damn Jupiter sometimes,” he says with a laugh. “It isn’t familiar. The music industry doesn’t feel familiar. People go through feeling that all the time, you know? Cultural alienation."

Ball Don't Lie - "Shanghai Melo"

It's the final Ball Don't Lie before the Thanksgiving holiday! Pierce is back with Joe and Scott to talk the latest news in the Association and the NFL.

Topics:
Bears-Vikings preview
Golden State Warriors drama
Jimmy Butler to the Sixers
Is Melo's NBA career done?
The new look Duke Blue Devils
Aaron Donald's not for the ray tay
Panthers not a top tier NFC team
Steelers byke
The "Is the Pats dynasty over" narrative is back
What's wrong with the Eagles?
A Gruden is not to be trusted
Sound byte of the week
Cooper Kupp tears ACL
Dez tears Achilles
Loudpack Leveon missing the 2018 season
Week 11 predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

Grab your official Barber's Chair merch as well!
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Joe: @Flowsandolini

The Looking Glass #17 - "Disnease"
Hulk Hogan is bragging about his python again... and shading The New Day at the same time?

When will Terry Bollea learn that bragging about the size of your pythons only gets you in trouble?

So Terry has me blocked on Twitter, which is a shame because he can’t see how awesome my Twitter name/combo is.

IMG_0984.jpg

Alas, Terry Bollea, star of the hit Pornhub video “I Guess We’re All a Little Racist”, was welcomed back to WWE this summer after a three-year exile, to the dismay of many. Terry’s given fake apologies to anyone that cares to hear them in an effort to fix his shattered reputation. One group of people who weren’t hearing it were the black delegation of wrestlers inside the Federation, of which Titus O’Neill and The New Day have been vocal about their feelings on Terry.

Terry made his first appearance in a WWE ring in three years at last week’s Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia, already a clusterfuck of a show in itself considering Vince McMahon’s refusal to pull out of the event after the country admitted that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed inside a Saudi consolate in Turkey in October.

Still, Vince paid Terry - one of many decaying wrestlers on the show - to “host” Crown Jewel, which basically means “go out there, open the show and say ‘Brother’ a few times to make people forget you’re a racist for five minutes.” Terry did his thing and couldn’t wait to get back home to the states to tweet about it.

First, the obvious… Terry is a leathery 65-year-old man. No one except your oversized ego believes you can hang with anyone on the WWE roster, probably not even Noam Dar, who is shaped like a Wheat Thin. You should’ve stopped bragging about your pythons 20 years ago, but clearly you don’t learn from your mistakes.

Second… is he specifically throwing shade at The New Day? Because fam…. I don’t think you want smoke with Big E, Xavier and Kofi. They’re undefeated in this game. Neva lost. Tuesday should be another great promo from ya boys - the New Day.

Back to Terry… the Federation was perfectly fine without you, and it still will be once you’re in the ground. Your presence is unneeded… go tour the country, sign some t-shirts and fade into obscurity. The wrestling world won’t miss you as much as you think.

Ball Don't Lie - "I'd rather be playing Red Dead than doing this shit"

Joe is trick-or-treating as Arthur, leaving Pierce alone while Scott shakes his fist like an old man at people dressed up for Halloween. Don't trip though; the show may be under an hour long but the same amount of fun exists.

Topics:
Bears/Jets
What's the next step in Trubisky's progress
NFL trade deadline
News around the NFL
Midseason playoff predictions
Week 9 predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

Grab your official Barber's Chair merch as well!
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Joe: @Flowsandolini

Random Acts of Podcast EP 202 - Real Spooky Hours

On this week’s episode of RAOP, Amp and Devin bring on the homie @RyRyDaDeala to chop it up about the smelly Jacksonville Jaguars, white people in black face on Halloween, old "work" trying to get back into your life and a ton more other topics.

Also we answer questions from the listeners. Remember to send in your listener questions to email us at MAIL@RAOPodcast.com or call 424-260-RAOP to leave a voicemail

The Looking Glass #15 - "They ran me for my pelt"
Random Acts of Podcast EP201: #CrownRoyalWaterBreak

WE BACK! On this week’s episode of RAOP Amp and Devin bring back @MalcJax and go over all the stuff they missed while on hiatus, what men mean when they ask women for pics, supporting your homie’s porn careers, married men living through their single friends and more! Plus we answer questions from the listeners. Remember to send in your listener questions to email us at MAIL@RAOPodcast.com or call 424-260-RAOP to leave a voicemail.

Follow Amp: @Ampaveli
Follow Devin: @DevinDavinci
Follow Random Acts of Podcast: @raopodcast

Back to the 80s Playlist
Ball Don't Lie - "Jimmy Butler = Buddy Ass"

The three-man crew is back together for a preview of the new NBA season, a recap of week 6 and to chat about the continued back-and-forth between Drake and Pusha T.

Topics:

Sound-off
NBA opening night
Things we’re looking forward to this season
Jimmy Butler/T’Wolves drama
Week 6 NFL review
Brady/Rodgers performance
Heated Saquon Barkley v. QB debate
Do you believe in Mahomes & the Chiefs?
Are the Jags D overrated?
Week 7 predictions
Drake/Pusha T interviews
Goofy Mog of the Week
Shoutouts

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

Grab your official Barber's Chair merch as well!
teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Joe: @Flowsandolini

Ball Don't Lie - I Ain't Scared of You Mothafuckas

Pierce & Scott are back while Joe is already a third of the way to meeting our over/under of shows he'll miss this first half of the season. Alas.... we got a soundboard! So just know this show was shenanigans.

Topics:

Sound-Off
Smug media members
Derrick Rose getting his jersey retired in Chicago
Favorite games/stadiums to go to
KD potentially leaving Golden State after 2018-19
Conor McGregor-Khabib UFC madness
Jordan Howard trade rumors
Bears upcoming schedule
NFL week 5 recap
Blake Bortles still trash
Laughing at the NFC East
More Julio Jones slander!
Drew Brees touchdown record
Patrick Mahomes performance vs. Jaguars
Yankees-Red Sox watch party
Pierce rants on the disappointing Cubs season
Top 5 QBs of all-time
LCS preview
Week 6 NFL predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week
Shoutouts

Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair when it becomes available!
patreon.com/barberschairnet

Grab your official Barber's Chair merch as well!
https://teespring.com/stores/the-barbers-chair

Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH
Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega

The Looking Glass EP 12
Ball Don't Lie - Jameis Winston built like Big Worm
Insecure S3E8 - I See You Issa! *Lawrence Voice*

Ghost Like, the season finale of Insecure, directed by Regina King, kicks off with Issa (Issa Rae) struggling to plan her block party. Abandoning the idea for now, Issa shares with Molly (Yvonne Orji) that she blocked Nathan (Kendrick Sampson), shifting her energy to celebrating her 30th birthday and focusing on beginning a new career. Issa finally gathered the confidence to apply for work at The Beat Crew, seeks new professional acquaintances and steps into her own light.

“I just want to be drama free and happy”
— Issa

Issa’s longing to be drama free will be a little difficult considering her best friend is Molly.

With ever growing work problems, Molly tries her best to remain resilient. After going behind Taurean’s (Leonard Robinson) back and presenting their work on her own, the energy between them has been off. She attributes her professional struggles to being a woman, which can account for some of the double standards, placing Molly in less than happy situations. Yet in typical Molly fashion, she has yet to own up to her own gripes.

Although Taurean was not so impressed with Molly’s takeover, the partners at the law firm were. The two were named co-leads on the important case and Taurean claims Molly’s aggressiveness will suit them well, a description in which she visually disapproves. Later on, Taurean leaves Molly to lead on her own. During a movie screening where the ladies celebrate Issa’s 30th birthday, Molly runs into Jared, and wrongfully assuming his sexuality, ending up looking shamefully embarrassed in front of his new girlfriend, Issa and Kelli. Molly’s only saving grace is apologizing to Andrew (Alexander Hodge) after an episode of shenanigans and being read for filth by Issa.

Nathan finally comes back after going full Danny Phantom for a month, but to his surprise, Molly stepped up and blocked his seemingly swift return. Showing up with flowers hoping to speak with Issa, Molly let’s him know that “nah, it’s her birthday and she happy. You not ‘bout to fuck it up.”

A move that many on Twitter disagreed with, Molly had her friend’s best wishes at heart. Knowing Issa wanted a fun, drama-free celebration of thirty years of life, Molly made the executive decision to not allow Nathan to pop up and ultimately turn the party upside down. Issa literally lost her mind while he disappeared, so why should he be allowed to surprise visit on a landmark birthday?

Lawrence continues to infiltrate season three as we meet his father, who drops some gems on his young and dumb son. Lawrence tries to convince his father that although he and Issa are talking, they are “done done” but follows it up with stories of failed dates. His father, Marcus Walker, an elder who is true to the game takes the time to explain why no successful relationship is as easy as meeting, falling in love and walking down the aisle.

“Your mama and me had matching luggage then. We put in work.” says Mr. Walker, referring to Lawrence’s unrealistic request of a woman without baggage. The encouraging speech of creating your own happy ending hopefully did not fall on deaf ears.

For Issa’s birthday, Molly and Kelli (Natasha Rothwell) orchestrate a day together, meeting at the graveyard for a screening of The Last Dragon. Lawrence, Chad and the gang are also at the very public event. With her typical punch lines, Kelli shares that Tiffany decided to have her be the godmother of her light-skinned baby. High on good news, with the clink of champagne flutes, Issa’s thirtieth birthday officially begins, with her gazing at Lawrence from a distance.

“Look at us. Thirty. Single. Black. Out here thriving. Looking like all three Jennifer Hudson’s”
— Kelli

Lawrence meets up with the guys and sees Chad, caressing a Balmain purse, learning that his fiance took him back despite the cheating. Once again, hearing how much work it took to resolve and maintain a happy relationship, the gears in Lawrence’s brain continue to shift. Could he be having second thoughts about forgiving Issa? As the night passes, Lawrence makes his way to join Issa on bringing her a box of raisinets to wish her a happy birthday so maybe, but then again maybe not.

After the event, Issa speaks with the event planner, an acquaintance of Tiffany’s she met at the baby shower. Getting the encouragement she needs to take another shot at planning her block party. Excited to share this information with Molly following the movie night, her best friend is not as supportive as she may have thought. Despite the blowback from Molly, Issa meets with her new colleague, aiming to bring her block party dreams to fruition. After an afternoon of planning Issa leaves to talk to Nathan while her new friend rushes out to her date with…..Lawrence.

*PLOT TWIST*

All of the messages Lawrence received about dating and relationships, despite foreshadowing a reconciliation, pushed him towards hopefully officially closing the Issa chapter.

Team Issa

Issa meets up at Nathan for an unnecessary but deserved explanation for his disappearance. Sharing with Issa that he went back to Houston, Nathan appeals to everyone who is also dealing with a lot of shit. Nathan describes how every so often, he enters a prolonged, down state of mind and not wanting to put Issa through his negativity, he decided its best to shut her, and the world, off.

“So you ghosted me and left LA ‘cuz you were in a bad mood?”
— Issa

After his apology, Issa decides she needs some time to figure out what she wants; a glimmer of hope that Ms. Dee is finally reaching her full form. She rolls up her sleeves and begins to unpack her new apartment, although residing there for a month. Unsettled in her discomfort, Issa finally makes strides to satisfy herself. Adding the final touches to her new home, Issa sits by herself, on her own couch, on her own place, gleaming with gratitude, a 180 from how she began this season.

Season three as a whole felt anti-climatic. Although enjoyable, somehow everything happened and yet nothing happened simultaneously. However we did get to learn more about the characters, and introduced (and dropped) some key names. The series explored workplace microaggressions, mental health, ghosting, relocating and just about every other issue millennials face today. Hopefully season four continues the glow-up. While I expect more Lawrence and Nathan, I hope we also get more happy Issa, conquering her thirties.

Ball Don't Lie - "WTF is going on?"

Joe misses his first of an expected six episodes this season, but don't fret. Scott & Pierce hold it down for you on this TWO-HOUR edition of Ball Don't Lie.

Topics:
Sound Off
Jimmy Butler/KAT/Wiggins/Timberwolves Drama
NBA Media Day
Why ‘Kyrie to the Knicks’ makes no sense
Ending the ‘Everyone wants to be a Laker’ narrative
Expectations for the NBA season
NFL Week 3 recap
Jimmy G torn ACL
Rams injuries
Saints-Falcons
Carson Wentz return in Philly
Lions-Patriots
Patrick Mahomes & the Chiefs are 3-0
Can the Jags win the Super Bowl with Blake Bortles playing like mid?
NFL Week 4 predictions
First impressions of 'The Joker'
Can the DCEU, X-Men right the ship?
Mini-35th and Addison
The Cubs folding down the stretch
Grading the 2018 Chicago White Sox
The return of 'Red Shirt Tiger' sundays
Shoutouts
Goofy Mog of the Week

Follow Pierce: @HennyOmega
Follow Scott: @Scott_CEOofSUH

Random Acts of Podcast EP 200: Live from Miami

On the 200th episode of RAOP, Amp and Devin take the show on the road for the first time in front of a live audience at FilmGate Miami. We chat about why are fine women so annoying, why Space Jam was garage and other questions from the audience, who also share why they love RAOP, plus a whole lot more!

Thanks once again to everyone that came out to our live show; it meant a ton to us. And thanks to all the supporters that weren't there who held us down. WE LOVE YOU ALL!

The Looking Glass - Is it oochie-wally or One Mic?