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Dexter – Episode 12 “This is the Way the World Ends” Recap and Review

December 19, 2011

Be brave, it's almost over.

While we’ve had five seasons that built up to a satisfying climax of murdering an end boss to satiate our dark passengers, the end of season six is a mercy killing. Coming off back-to-back absolute worst episodes of the series, we get a finale that felt much more like a recap show for an entire half-season of television we didn’t watch. It is out of a sense of responsibility and duty I bring you “This is the Way the World Ends.”

Tonight’s episode was written by longtime series writers Scott Buck (this season’s premiere) and Wendy West (by far the best writing talent on the show who did “Hungry Man” in season four and “Everything is Illuminated” last year which was the turning point at which season five stopped sucking) and directed by John Dahl (this season’s “Just Let Go” and “A Horse of a Different Color”). I’ve sang the praises of Wendy West before on this site and I’m sure the staff must know how important she is to the franchise. She’s brought in when the show’s been at its most convoluted worst and somehow made sense of it into entertainment. She had her work cut out for her tonight and the fact that we got a slightly below average episode is a testament to how screwed up this season got.

All-in-all, “This is the Way the World Ends” felt like an episode of Supermarket Sweep with plot points. For a show whose pacing has been mind-numbingly bad for the past four episodes, the unsatisfying rush with which everything fell together today was just awful. Sure, I can buy that Dex was rescued by a boat of illegal immigrants, but Travis stealing Harrison from a room full of people and then later being surprised Dex is alive is among the biggest reaches the show has ever made. Dexter is no longer where you have to momentarily suspend your disbelief, rather just accept convient idiocy and the promise of ever present deus-ex-machinas. Bless Wendy’s heart for trying, but I was so checked out of any interest in Travis by this point that even the threat of killing a toddler couldn’t drum up any tension.

Elsewhere we had Quinn “getting help” to get out of being transferred as possibly the laziest blowoff in a season of lazy blowoffs, no word on Matthews (which may indicate he’s gone for good), the hint that Masuka’s uninteresting assistant will be around for some of next season (in the show’s most uninteresting Masuka scene), and the single most non-sensical moment in the show’s entire season. On the roof we had LaGuerta, a character who we’ve spent six seasons as the embodiment of the bad at her job but ruthlessly politicking bureaucrat bitch, give a serious heart-to-heart with the one character who has actually developed this season, telling her she’s done a good job. Every word we’ve gotten from LaGuerta for the past six years has been an outright lie, so why should we trust her to validate that Deb is good at her job? I blame that one on Buck. I have no evidence that it was specifically him, but I just don’t feel like Wendy would do me like that. Oh, I’m sorry, was that last sentence completely sloppy and not with the tone of the rest of this post? GOOD! So is this show!

BIG MOMENT! Oh wait, I don't care.

The big moment we have at the end is Deb walking in on her brother as he kills Travis. Of all the concluding kill scenes we’ve had on the show, this one has to be the worst. Instead of Dex’s final thoughts wrapping the season up in at least an adequate way, we got a religious discussion of the college freshmen stoner buddies caliber concluding with Deb catching Dex in the act, followed by an almost too glib “Oh God.” For all the flak the end of season five took with Deb finding the silhouettes of Dexter and Lumen, at least we had Steve Shill’s masterful directing giving us a certain open-ended suspense. Here, Dahl drew out all the wrong parts of the scene. All the focusing on Dexter’s “I knew real men of God talk” did was remind us how far this season had fallen in such a short time. Realistically speaking, we do have the show playing the “caught” card now (which they may have meant to play last season as the show was originally supposed to end with season six) as well as Deb proving she’s an apt-enough detective to catch her brother, but while I really didn’t mind the “incest” angle last week (it was the only thing different on a show obsessed with maintaining the status quo) this conclusion makes it feel like an unnecessary saddlebag to the scene. It’s Trinity’s estranged daughter levels of cheap. While tonight did fall far short of a satisfying ending, Dexter has never really had a strong season finale. The best thing I can say about “This is the Way the World Ends” is that it’s only the fourth or fifth worst thing we’ve see this season.

We give This is the Way the World Ends a Two Out of Five.

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

Childish Gambino – Early Beginnings, Rapping in a Dorm Room Basement

November 9, 2011

Childish Gambino & Chaz Kangas 9/8/11 . Photo courtesy of Amy Desauguste, used with permission.

Hi, I’m Chaz Kangas, some of you visiting this site for the first time might remember me as the second verse on Childish Gambino’s “My Hoodie” off of his 2008 album Sick Boi. Next week sees the release of Gambino’s highly anticipated album Camp. Seeing that this is the internet, I’m sure you’re already well aware that you can stream the album now or catch him on tour as much as you know that you can download MY FREE album featuring Mac Lethal, Stones Throw’s Homeboy Sandman, Alaska of Hangar 18 and J57 of the Brown Bag All Stars.

NYU's Goddard Hall dorm. Photo courtesy New York University, used without permission.

So, instead, I’ll be bringing you this two part look back at my history with Donald, as well as this footage of us freestyling together for the first time. To give it some context, my freshman year at New York University was beginning and I had moved into Goddard Hall about a week prior. All of Goddard’s floors had themes, I was on the 4th floor (Music) while Donald was the RA on the 7th (Writing?). During that first week of college when you meet everyone and you condense yourself into a soundbite, I felt most comfortable with “I’m Chaz, I’m a Cinema Studies major and I rap.” Soon I was noticing more and more “Have you met Donald? He’s on the 7th floor and he raps too” responses. We finally met in really quick passing between classes and had one of those “You like rap? I like rap too! I like MadVillain. You like Madvillain too?! Let’s rap sometime!” rapidfire dialogues that happen in the hustle and bustle of college life. Later that night, during my dorm’s nightly “Basement Jam” sessions where all the musicians would just play and everyone hung out in-between loads of laundry and games of Donkey Kong, someone noticed Donald and I were both in the same place and invited us to rap together. Some of the guys playing weren’t too familiar with Hip-Hop beats, so we asked if they knew “Back in Black.” They did, and so this happened:

Truth be told, this is only a three-minute excerpt from 15 minutes in to a 21 minute freestyle*. Afterwords we dapped up, I gave him a copy of my high school album Notes From the Underground, and we proceeded to have a year of hip-hop shop-talkin’. I was pretty bummed to leave Goddard Hall at the end of the year, but as I was saying goodbyes that May morning, Donald gave me a copy of his newly finished album called The Younger I Get

TO BE CONTINUED! (friday.)

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!
*Which, if you would like, I could upload at a later date. Shouts to Katie Warzak for the footage.

Dexter – Episode 4 “Horse of a Different Color” Recap and Review

October 24, 2011

Google image search is killer.

 

Season six of Dexter continued tonight with “Horse of a Different Color,” and while nothing particularly Earth shattering happened, nothing outrageously bad did either. While it certainly served its purpose as a linking episode more than anything, there was a tinge of a signal from the writers’ room early on stating that they know what potential this show has and are going to finally make Dexter as truly great as it deserves to be. Let’s saddle-up and ride.

Tonight’s episode was written by Lauren Gussis (a writer for the show since the beginning, usually at the helm of character building episodes like season one’s “Shrink Wrap” and season four’s “If I Had a Hammer”) and directed by John Dahl (this season’s premiere, last season’s “Hello Bandit”) both longtime players on team Dexter which makes for the show’s overall logic being as strong as ever. As seen in the above clip, there’s a moment when Dexter is about mention the Ice Truck Killer when Deb cuts him off and reminds us (for perhaps the first time in five seasons) that she knows the Ice Truck Killer was Dexter’s brother. Finally, the show’s stopped ignoring Deb’s awareness of Dex’s ITK connection, which bodes well for the show’s history finally taking itself seriously. Later, between Deb not falling on her face after LaGuerta’s suggestion for the press conference actually worked, Masuka’s intern being well aware of the show’s two previous main Miami Metro investigations and Deb hearing suggestions but keeping her new subordinate in order, I’m convinced that the show is finally really paying attention to its own history as a means to both enhance the experience for longtime viewers and keep us going in directions we didn’t expect.

While it was a slower episode, “Horse of a Different Color” seemed to build a bridge made of solid character growth. “That Ishy” Quinn (as my Mother calls him, Happy Birthday Mom!) smoking a joint with Batista allowed for a certain release between the show’s two most frustrated characters, and them having no consequences for getting high on the job was a nice touch. Brother Sam (now credited as Mos Def, Mos, yasiin bey) coming to the hospital to pray with Dex during Harrison’s appendectomy and revealing he had a similar death-related childhood trauma hammered home he’s one of the good(-ish) guys. Travis Marshall’s apocalyptic advisor Professor James Gellar was given an interesting background as a college professor who is an end-of-times nut and actually stole a weapon believed to be owned by John the Revealer who wrote the book of the Bible he’s obsessed with recreating. While there is sufficient evidence from the show that says he actually exists now (along with the backstory, the difference in Marshall’s crude bludgeons and his meticulous crime scenes), it wouldn’t surprise me if Gellar somehow was Marshall’s dark passenger. Speaking of surprises, as sad as it is to see Masuka’s intern go, I’m glad her red herring-ness only lasted two episodes. The auction was a satisfactory blowoff and gave us some Masuka with backbone.

Who ordered the wings?

Two little things I noticed tonight: 1) Masuka eating Deb’s Girl Scout Cookies while Quinn and Batista had the munchies and 2) was that Masuka’s intern in a commercial for a jar opener behind Dexter in the hospital? Those nuggets aside, tonight was largely about exposition but was handled much smoother than the season’s opener. The Green House kill was brutal and I’m guessing they’re slowly building a subplot about Deb needing to attend therapy for the trauma she’s been witnessing. Colin Hanks is doing a great job as Marshall, and while I found Dexter’s “bargaining with God” to be a tad cartoony for my tastes, the eventual showdown at the end of the season should be great.

We give “Horse of a Different Color”  a Three Out of Five

So until next time…let’s agree to agree!

The Top Rap Songs of 2011 Thus Far…(that aren’t on ‘Watch The Throne’)

August 12, 2011

So there I was, sitting at Red Lobster with my earbuds and my picture of ‘Just Say’ Julie Brown. A waitress approached, and after I told her I would like to order the Fisherman’s Platter, she rolled her eyes and said “Sir, you disgust me.” Taken aback, I asked “Why? Is it because eating the Fisherman’s Platter would put more sodium in my body than if I had drown to death in the same salty waters that the seafood in question were poached from?” “No,” she replied, “it’s because it’s been over two months and you haven’t updated ‘Popular Opinions with Chaz Kangas’ without so much as a note that you were taking the summer off!” I knew in my heart of hearts, she was right. Thus, I got up from the table, took the 6 train home and…

OH MY GOD, WE'RE BACK A-GAI-NAH!

So here we are, two months later. For those of you joining us for the first time, I’m your party host Chaz Kangas. I write for the New York Times, Complex, Spectrum Culture, SYFFAL, Funny or Die and am something of an indierap semi-star. You may have heard of my NEW FREE album A PERSONAL REFERENCE that features appearances from MAC LETHAL, ALASKA of HANGAR 18, STONES THROW’s HOMEBOY SANDMAN, COCO DAME and J57 of the BROWN BAG ALLSTARS, entirely produced by GOOD GOOSE of MENYA. That album is UP FOR FREE DOWNLOAD by visiting http://chazkangas.bandcamp.com or clicking HERE.

The aforementioned album, available for FREE DOWNLOAD by clicking the link in the preceding sentence, has been pretty successful, thanks in no small part to continued attentive support from viewers like you. So, to express my gratitude, I’ve assembled this collection of the year’s BEST RAP MUSIC so far. Now, there are a few rules considering how we do compilations here, and they are as followed.

All God's critters got a place in the choir AND in the paint!

THE RULES OF THE MIX:

1) All are songs that have been officially released between January 1st 1011 and July 15th 2011.

2) Only ONE SONG PER ARTIST, which explains the lack of “Yonkers.”

3) Only RAP MUSIC is featured. The sole exception is Frank Ocean’s “Novacane” because it’s undeniable.

So you can get it for FREE by DOWNLOADING HERE –

(EDIT: Link removed by vague request)

As you can see, I listen to Rap music from all over the great American Hip-Hop landscape. There’s so much great stuff happening all over, and the diversity in this collection is a testament to that. Even if you aren’t a fan of one or two artists on this tracklisting, rest assured the majority of the tracks will sound completely different. Who knows, you might like a song from an artist you never thought you would. So without any further Depardu, here’s what’s on tap!

TRACKLISTING –

1 ) Max B. – “Model of Entropy (f/ Young Riot)”

2 ) Pimp C. – “Watch the Reaction (f/ Lil Keke & Killa Kyleon)

3 ) Killer Mike – “Ric Flair”

4 ) DJ Quik – “Flow For Sale (f/ Kurupt)”

5 ) YC the Cynic – “More and More (f/ Soul Khan, Von Pea & Sene)

6 ) E40 – “Drugs (f/ B-Legit)”

7 ) Atmosphere – “She’s Enough”

8 ) Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire – “Huzzah!”

9 ) Nyle – “Dyno-Dog”

10 ) Gorilla Warfare Tactics – “Rewind Rhyme”

11 ) Action Bronson – “Amuse Bouche”

12 ) Frank Ocean – “Novacane”

13 ) Mac Lethal – “Citrus”

14 ) Pusha T – “Trouble On My Mind (f/ Tyler, The Creator)”

15 ) Tedy – “The Bi Polar Rapper”

16 ) Grieves – “Bloody Poetry”

17 ) Good Hair (NezBeat & Joe Good) – “Goody Goody”

18 ) 151 Feva Gang – “Kush Groove”

19 ) Beastie Boys – “The Larry Routine”

20 ) Hail Mary Mallon – “Breakdance Beach”

21 ) Waka Flocka Flame – “Stereo Type”

22 ) Jesse Abraham – “Always and Forever (f/ Homeboy Sandman)”

23 ) Lil B – “1 Time”

24 ) Doomstarks (MF Doom & Ghostface Killah) – “Victory Laps (Madvillain Remix)”

So there you go. I hope you enjoy this mix as much as I liked putting it together. Of course, as soon as I finished it we saw the release of the Step Brothers mixtape, Dollar Coffee’s ‘Nice Things,’ ‘Watch the Throne’ and a grip more solid releases, so consider this collection a quick catch-up as the rest of 2011 finishes strong!

Like this or something.

So until next time… let’s agree to agree!

We return next week back to our regular schedule…

May 27, 2011

…get excited!

RIP Randy Savage.

May 20, 2011

I’ll do a proper tribute later. For now –

CHAZ’S TOP TEN RAP ALBUMS OF THE DECADE NOT NAMED “SUPREME CLIENTELE!” (C.A.T.T.L.E.)

January 30, 2010

RAP MUSIC!

It’s a little known fact that everybody knows and agrees on “SUPREME CLIENTELE” by Ghostface Killah being the absolute best rap album of the decade. It came out within the first quarter of the first year and stood for the entire stretch without being topped. You’ve had ten years to listen to it and chances are if you’re reading this you’re either nodding and going “Why yes, I agree with this statement” or you’re buying the album off Amazon.com for $6.99 here or you’re a lame. Regardless, putting this album at the top of another list is masturbatory at best and auto-erotically asphyxiating at worst. So, how about we talk about the ten best rap albums that aren’t this album, eh? Alright, let’s make with the rap-rap!

Also, I’ve deliberately chosen to share songs that weren’t singles because #1 these entire albums are awesome and #2 I’m awesome.

10) Turf Talk – “West Coast Vaccine” (2007)
The magnum opus of the exciting, innovating and defiantly ‘Hip-Hop’ Hyphy movement, Turf Talk and producer Rick Rock teamed up for record that, even after multiple listens, surprises and stuns while keeping the party moving. An acquired taste if there ever was one, “West Coast Vaccine” stands the pinnacle of a moment that ended before its time.

9) Non-Prophets – “Hope” (2003)
While the latter half of the decade featured rappers attempting to make music that sounded like eras they were born too late to be a part of, Sage Francis and producer Joe Beats beat them to the punchline by making a traditionalist boom-bap record that plays more like historical fiction than a love letter. By using subtlety where others used nostalgia, Sage and Joey made what was once old new again and, dare I say, fresh!

8 ) Cannibal Ox – “The Cold Vein” (2001)
Following the fallout of his group Company Flow, El-P channeled his cold outlook on life in New York City through the warmth of his ASR-10 for his label’s landmark album “The Cold Vein.” More than a beatmaker, El-P showed what makes him a truly great producer by using MCs Vast Aire and Vordul Mega as tools in his soundscape, accentuating their positives and hiding their negatives for an experience countless others have failed to duplicate since.


7) M.O.P. – “Warriorz” (2000)

While M.O.P. spent most of the decade in record label limbo, they remained on the Hip-Hop audience’s radar for nine years with what CBRap’s Andrew Noz refers to as “the last boom bap record.” A brutal swan song for Loud Records, “Warriorz” features Brownsville’s finest cracking skulls and snapping necks with such fervor that you can’t help but yell along with them.

6) TI – “King” (2006)
While you could make the argument that he was a better rapper on “Trap Muzik” or had better production on “I’m Serious,” the soundscape TI created on his 2006 masterpiece “King” is as complete a statement as albums get. The only rap album released that year that went platinum, TI represented the genre at its all-time lowpoint with not only a fantastic performance all his own, but defining a sound by bringing the best out of his in-house production team* and getting the likes of B.G. and Common to drop their best verses of the decade on their cameos.

5) Clipse – “Lord Willin” (2002)
In the post-9/11 post-shiny suit era, the Neptunes’ minimalist production on “Grindin” by the Clipse proved sometimes skeletons cast the largest shadows. While the album frequently faced the “they only rhyme about coke” critique, Pusha T and Malice didn’t use the subject as a crutch, rather a launching pad for how intertwined and trickled-down the hustlers’ profession affected their lives as well as a unifying theme that made it an incredibly entertaining and cohesive album.

4) Brother Ali – “Shadows on the Sun” (2003)
Some lives are so eventful, their memoirs read like textbooks. In the case of Brother Ali’s 2003 debut “Shadows on the Sun,” sometimes they’re just as enlightening. Ali’s brutal honestly and bombastic delivery makes his vulnerable juggernaut persona one of rap’s most compelling characters, and with producer Ant at the helm he was guided to start his career off with a masterpiece.

3) Sean Price – “Monkey Bars” (2005)
The buzz surrounding the man once known as “the other half of Heltah Skeltah” has been arguably the most surprising comeback of the past ten years. Reinventing himself as “the brokest rapper you know,” Sean Price let his charisma stream-of-consciously wander through his apathy over a hodgepodge of beats ranging from the Boot Camp aggression of “Boom Bye Yeah” to the 9th Wonder-laced “Heartburn” bringing new meaning to the term ‘hopeless romantic.’ Price’s ridiculously subtle and complex writing catches both the listeners who appreciate the face value thug tales, as well as rewards repeat listeners who catch the numerous double and triple entendres.

2) Masta Ace – “Disposable Arts” (2001)
The Juice Crew’s Masta Ace returned to the rap world with “Disposable Arts,” alerting an entire generation of backpackers that #1 ‘this is how it should be done’ and #2 ‘Masta Ace is lightyears ahead of you.’ The first honest documentation of a long-silent Golden Age rapper in the twilight of his career, Ace’s “Disposable Arts” was both life-affirming and effortlessly relevant. The number of rap concept albums that actually work is very low** but Ace pulls it off with this required listening for every rapper, listener, or person with even a passing interest in the genre.


1) Scarface – “The Fix” (2002)

Wow, where to begin. It’s daunting to even think about how much Scarface accomplishes over this 47:16 running time. From the best ‘back in the day’ song ever recorded (“On My Block”) to outshining two frequently argued ‘greatests of all time’ without breaking a sweat (Jay-Z on “Guess Who’s Back” and Nas on “In Between Us” who both still turn in two of their all-time best performances) all the way through “Heaven” a track that explains Face’s relationship with God foresaking heavy-handedness in favor of testifying with more genuine sincerity than the entire genre of “Christian rap” it is without peer. In a genre where most careers end after two albums***, Scarface’s seventh solo album stands as a shining example of what happens when an artist grows with their audience. Incredible.

So those are my favorite favorites.**** Pretty good decade for rap. Remember, these albums are all available at your nearest internet collection.

Drake (rapper)

(RUNNER UP BUTTERCUPS:
UGK – “Underground Kingz”
Madvillain – “Madvillainy”
El-P – “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead”
semi.oFFICIAL – “The Anti-Album”
Big Moe – “City of Syrup”
Atmosphere – “Strictly Leakage”
Paul Wall & Chamillionaire – “Get Ya Mind Correct”
Murs & 9th Wonder – “Murray’s Revenge”
Three-6 Mafia – “Most Known Unknowns”
Z-Ro – “Let the Truth Be Told”)

*Grand Hustle: The World’s Most Talented Weed-Carriers.

**A whopping ‘one.’

***if that.

****To be honest, I’ve probably listened to The Outsidaz “The Nightlife EP” more than anything else this decade, but alas it’s an EP so it’s disqualified. Fear not my boy, it will be a treasured subject for another day.

Until next time let’s agree to agree!