Posts Tagged ‘A.J. Allen’

In 1987, when Will Smith and his partner, DJ Jazzy Jeff, stepped on to the scene with their debut album “Rock the House,” no one could have predicted what would follow. Will Smith has risen through the ranks and has become an incredibly powerful celebrity known for both his rapping and his acting. Although heavily criticized, he has come out on top and expects the same of both all his children.

Willow Smith, the youngest of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s children, has launched a music career that has put her in the public eye, and she is well on her way to replicating her father’s career. Will Smith’s hip hop career was frequently poked fun at because of his clean rap, but there are different reasons why I foresee a dark future in the music industry for Willow Smith. With the recent release of her new single, “Fireball,” it is time to remind music fans why pop music is so drastically deteriorating.

I don’t know what Will did for Jay-Z in order to get his daughter signed to Roc Nation, but there is no way that it could have possibly been worth it. In “Whip My Hair” Willow’s screeching, obnoxious voice made Rebecca Black sound like Adele–and her songs haven’t gotten any better. Willow’s first mistake in “Fireball” was drafting Nicki Minaj. Minaj has never helped anyone’s case and this song is no exception.

It’s not to say that the son or daughter of a former music star can’t be successful, but it is rare. Diggy Simmons, son of Rev Run of Run DMC fame, has generated a well-deserved buzz and a pretty substantial fan base. Willow Smith shouldn’t rush but rather enjoy her childhood, play with dolls, learn to ride a bike and try to develop her singing skills.

-A.J. Allen

For its 121st year, Carnegie Hall will host its first solo hip hop artist headliner. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter will once again make history by performing at the historical music venue during his benefit concert to raise money for both the United Way and the Shawn Carter Scholarship Foundation.

With the release of his most recent solo studio album “The Blueprint 3,” Jay-Z now holds the record for the solo act with the most No. 1 albums in Billboard history and the second-most No. 1 albums altogether. The only thing stopping Jay-Z from holding the record for the most No. 1 albums are The Beatles.

The Jay-Z and The Beatles comparisons have always been discussed, and this historic event will only perpetuate them. Although not the first rock band to perform at Carnegie Hall, The Beatles did change the culture of the venue. Historically, Carnegie Hall was a venue for classical music and, as time progressed, it evolved. Classic jazz artists such as Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and even Count Basie began to perform at the Manhattan concert hall. When The Beatles performed at Carnegie Hall during their first trip to the U.S., those in charge began to diversify the styles and genres of the artists that they booked, and allow underrepresented genres more frequent acts than they had previously hosted.

Despite debates over who is better or who will be the most timeless popular music icon(s), this is a perfect example of how the music industry should and can be a cooperative effort between artists even if they represent different genres or different time periods entirely.

-A.J. Allen

Wheelchair Jimmy from “Degrassi” is all grown up. On Nov. 15, Drake released his highly anticipated sophomore album “Take Care.” After postponing the album from its original Oct. 24 release date, it has finally become available for all the world to hear.

The tone of the album reflects Drake’s debut release, “Thank me Later.” The majority of the tracks are very R&B oriented and many of the songs are about his relationships with women. However, when Drake does rap, it is extremely well-executed and shows great progress from the already extraordinary “Thank Me Later.” The album’s weakest qualities are the extraneous artists that have features on Drake’s songs. Lil’ Wayne, Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj add nothing to the album, and all of the songs that they are featured on could have benefited from an additional Drake verse.

A perfect example of an unnecessary feature is “HYFR” with Lil’ Wayne. Lil’ Wayne is so prominent on this track that the song may have been better off on “Tha Carter IV.” “Weezy’s wheezy voice does nothing but take away from the album’s previously established tranquility.

On the contrary, “Look What You’ve Done” is the album’s most emotionally driven song. It focuses on Drake’s love-hate relationship with his mother and the problems that they have endured. The piano complements his voice perfectly and sets the mood for the song as one that is both reminiscent and celebratory.
Listen to this album, and I guarantee that it will become a staple for any late-night car ride.

-A.J. Allen

Mind the Gap are anything but your typical alternative rock band. Alex Yang, Ruwanga Samath, Ozzy Doniz and Greg Cahn are taking the states by storm with their innovative sound. The diversity of the band’s composition brings musical versatility to the forefront. The group blends smooth vocals and melodic acoustics with futuristic synthpop that keeps the listener guessing from track to track.

The unique qualities of each song are engaging and command the audience’s full attention. The band recently released their debut album “The Good Fight,” and have begun to receive widespread recognition. In celebration of the band’s recent nomination for the 2012 All Indie Music Awards, JERK caught up with band members Greg and Alex to further delve into the complexities of their music.


Ever since the release of his mixtape “The Eleven One Eleven Theory,” Wale fans have been patiently waiting for Nov. 1, 2011 and the consequential release of Wale’s second studio album, “Ambition.” Fans should be pleased and relieved to hear that the feature-heavy sophomore album does not disappoint.

The album opens with the arrogant artist’s premature mandate “Don’t Hold Your Applause.” Before the album even has a change to begin, Wale highlights why his prior accomplishments are worthy of joyous praise, attempting to qualify his statements with the line, “I know I’m kind of vain, but what ill n***a isn’t.” The initial tone that Wale establishes at the beginning of the album prevails throughout the entirety of the album, with a few exceptional humble tracks.


With the temperature getting so cold you can see your breath and Thanksgiving being so close you can taste it, we reminisce about the summer days spent with our friends from home. This song is great for both nostalgic moments and premature celebrations about the imminent reunion that will come with winter break.

-A.J. Allen

Pop/R&B star Justin Bieber has won upwards of 40 awards for his accomplishments as a singer, including: eight Teen Choice Awards, two Kids’ Choice Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards and three American Music Awards. Although already established as every 13-year-old girl’s idol, Bieber is clearly not content and has decided to try his luck at rapping. On Nov. 2, Bieber appeared on L.A. radio station Power 106 to show America his rhyming skills in a freestyle over Kanye West’s and Jay-Z’s “Watch the Throne” hit “Otis.”

Surprisingly, this is not the first time Bieber has shown interest in rapping. Ever since his release of “Baby,” these types of videos have been floating around the web. Bieber has even been featured as a rapper on Chris Brown’s latest mixtape, “Boy in Detention,” in the “Look At Me Now” sample-inspired track “Ladies Love Me.” Shawty Mane, Bieber’s rap alter ego, even released a music video via Twitter called “Speaking in Tongues” about a year ago.

Perhaps, it was the Ludacris verse on Bieber’s hit “Baby” that inspired the Canadian-born vocalist to test his abilities in the Hip-Hop realm. Or, maybe this freestyle was just a publicity stunt so that Bieber could have something in the news other than his baby mama drama and influence people to purchase his new holiday album, “Under the Mistletoe.” Either way, this freestyle is sure to make Bieber critics more skeptical of the teen’s abilities and Bieber fans more enthusiastic about his talent.

-A.J. Allen

The city of Syracuse from the perspective of the infamous College of Law steps.

-A.J. Allen

It was February of this year when I first witnessed Childish Gambino. At that time he was just Donald Glover, a hilarious comic starring in the NBC sitcom “Community.” Not too much later, my friend posted a music video of Glover rapping on my Facebook wall in a song entitled, “Freaks and Geeks.”

Since the success of that single, the rapper/actor/singer has released five projects: “Sick Boi,” “Poindexter,” “I Am Just a Rapper,” “I am Just a Rapper 2,” “Culdesac” and EP”. Gambino is now signed to Glassnote Records and plans to release his first studio album titled “Camp,” on November 15

To preview his album, Gambino recently released the single “All the Shine.” The single highlights all of the criticism that Gambino has received and is almost a break in character from Gambino’s typical vulgar and superficial lyrics.

Although this track does show a new side of the multi-talented artist, it does not justify Gambino’s shortcomings as an artist. Gambino is simply not a rapper, but instead a very clever writer, as anyone would expect from someone with a degree in dramatic writing from NYU. The great comedian should keep his punch lines and one-liners on the television screen rather than infesting my otherwise immaculate Pandora stations.

-A.J. Allen

Most MTV viewers can say that they’ve heard that obnoxious “Gucci Gucci” song one too many times in between episodes of their favorite reality shows. Well, get excited, SU students, because on Tuesday, Nov. 1 the Schine Student Center will welcome Kreayshawn along with opening act Neon Indian.

Kreayshawn has never ceased to amuse me with her unintelligible lyrics, laziness and lack of talent, yet her songs are so terrible that I want to keep listening in hopes that a few more seconds will yield a few more laughs. Maybe this is why she was selected to be MTV’s PUSH music artist of the week over the summer. So, if you’re looking to have a good time this Tuesday, grab your wallet and a friend and go watch Kreayshawn make a fool of herself while you either laugh or jam out in the crowd.

-A.J. Allen