RocketMan is the perfect movie to celebrate Pride Month

I left my viewing of “Rocketman” smiling ear to ear.

For the last few months Ive been watching many amazing movies; old and new. But I had come realize over the last few weeks, that a great number of them were either incredibly DARK or ended on slightly nihilistic note. Theres nothing at all wrong with a film that deals with morally bankrupt charterers, in fact some of my favorite films include : Reservoir Dogs, American Beauty, The Master, etc.

But to be blunt. Some of the best films Ive ever seen, are kinda downers.

Rocketman changes that tune ( pun intended), by being great biopic that, while not shying away from the darkest parts of Sir Elton Johns early life ( sex,drugs and Rock n Roll), it doesn’t wallow in darkness or cynicism. Instead it chooses to focus on a story of perseverance, neglectful childhoods , and most importantly, finding self-worth in a truly toxic environment.

The film opens with Elton John (played by Taron Egort) dressed in a bright orange devil suit storming down a corridor. As the song “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” plays, we come to find out that Elton is not rushing to perform to adoring fans, but instead has come to rehab center to seek help and explain the events of his life that have led to this very moment. As Elton tells his story, he also physically relives it, with the musical number “The Bitch is Back” taking him back to his childhood.

From there we experience the fantasy-like odyssey that is Elton’s life. Beginning with him discovering his close-to-genius talent with the piano, while dealing with his callous and unloving parents, who seem to see him as an annoyance. Then we go onto his start into pop stardom; meeting his longtime collaborator and friend Bernie Taupin, being discovered by a label and impressing American audiences with his voice and showmanship. Things seem to be going well for Elton.

However with all this success is going on, we truly see and feel how lonely Elton is through all of this. Struggling with sexual identity, afraid to open himself to anyone except his friend Bernie, who is immeadiatly accepting of his friends struggles. Coupled with the baggage of having horrible parents and only feeling genuine from a very small group of people, the film portrays Elton John as figure constantly seeking approval and love, while also becoming more and more flamboyant with his costumes. As his success increases, so does his insecurity and reliance on drugs and alcohol. This is all further stressed by the arrival of John Reid, who becomes Elton’s manager and lover. On the service John is suave and intelligent, but as time goes on we see how truly manipulative and emotionally damaging he really is.

Remember when I said this movie wasn’t depressing?

However through all these trials and traumatic emotional episodes, Rocketman tells a story of redemption and self-care. The classic theme that “all that glitters is not gold”, is used exceptionally well here and that before seeking love and approval from other people, one must first love themselves. All of this beautifully told through great musical numbers, my favorites being “Honkey Cat” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road“. All of actors seem to be loving their roles and play their parts with humor and emotional weight.

The film isn’t perfect though. Some of the writing is VERY corny ,a little too on the nose , and it doesn’t help the story starts to drag near the end. Also, while the movie doesn’t shy away from the problematic parts of Elton Johns personality, It still felt like some punches were pulled in reference to Elton infamous anger issues and temper tantrums. If the film was any more hokey, it might feel like a vanity project.

But what truly makes Rocketman special is its never-say-die attitude and optimism, combined with breathtaking cinematography and documentary-level eye for detail; with all of Elton’s famous stage costumes and mannerisms captured on screen.

I had a blast watching Rocketman. This biopic is a hyperactive musical that’s brimming with life and tongue-in-cheek creativity, that also doesn’t try to look away from or censor some of the darker and explicit aspects of the aging Pop-stars life.

7.5 out 10

Album Review: ZUU – Denzel Curry

ZUU is a bumping summer album that’s chock full of bangers and future party anthems. Its not as conceptual or polished as his instant classic album: TABOO, but still leaves me excited for more to come.

For those of you not familiar with Denzel Curry aka Denny Cascade aka The black metal terrorist, Denzel Curry is an American rapper, singer and songwriter, from Carol City, Florida. An MC who has quickly positioned himself to be one of the most charismatic , as well as sonically versatile rappers currently in the game. Calling Curry a one trick pony or even “boring” would probably deserve a slap in the face, with influences ranging from nu metal and punks band like Rage Against The Machine and Nirvana, to old school Outkast-esqe vibes. This all sprinkled with touches of trap beats and reverb drums, and of course Curry’s signature blunt but wildly distinguishable voice.

This time around the focus on his upbringing and representation of South Florida takes center stage on this new project, coming off more braggadocios and confident than ever before.

The titular track “ZUU” serves as a tone setter and immediately distinguishes itself from his previous album, filled trap drums and echoing bass, complete with a howling melodic chorus. In contrast TABOO kicked off somber, increasing with angst through each catchy yet darkly comedic song. It dripped with melancholy , paranoia, and bouts of manic euphoria.

ZUU comes off confident, ready to fight all comers. This tone is perfectly captured in the second song on the track list, RICKY, which was also one of the two singles that supported the promotion of the album. RICKY is a hard hitting track, that explores Curry’s childhood life lessons he learned from his parents and environment(the title and cover of the track being Curry’s father). Its clear to see why this was chosen as the promotional track. THE SONG JUST DESERVES REPLAY, held up by its punchy motivational chorus and Curry’s effortless energetic flow.

Another Highlight on the album being the track “SPEEDBOAT”, which on first listen I thought “meh, its just another generic-ass song about money”. But on the second listen, I realized just how somber and passionate some of lyrics are, inferring that even though the money Curry’s acquired has provided him more security, at the same time it has made him more of a target than ever before. One of the lines even referencing the death of the late XXXTENTACION; “My dawg didn’t make it to twenty-one, so I gotta make it past twenty-four.”

My personal favorites on the album being the insanely fun and the insanely aggressive tracks: “SHAKE 88” and “P.A.T”, respectfully. Just the way Curry manipulates his voice and tone, you cant help getting hype right with him. It is my hope that “SHAKE 88” becomes one the more circulated songs party anthems this summer. If don’t hear it in multiple clubs and bars this summer, Ima be stressed.

While most of album is great, there are some low points. The song BIRDZ featuring Rick Ross didn’t really do much for me, and Ross’s verse I almost immeadiatly forgot. BUSHY B INTERLUDE sounding like a dime a dozen trap track that’s so short and echoing, that it almost sounds unfinished, and was just thrown on the album as an afterthought. The sketch right after “BUSHY B”, “YO”, is hilarious and pokes fun at the south Florida slang and was more entertaining then I was expecting, just wish there more of it.

And as stunning and full of attitude ZUU is, it still doesn’t manage to achieve over the legacy of TABOO, which was such an ambitious album, brimming with storytelling, a dark atmosphere, and back to back songs that to this day I’m still not tired of. But that doesn’t mean ZUU falters either. ZUU is Curry’s most accessible project to date, perfect for anyone who may have been put off by the bleakness of TABOO, and want something more a bit more positive with a theme of overcoming adversity while also never forgetting your roots.

ZUU is an ode to all lessons and struggles that comes with success, it is Denzel Curry’s victory lap back to his home of Carol City, Florida.

7.8/10

Favorite Tracks: RICKY, SHAKE 88, P.A.T, ZUU, SPEEDBOAT

Least Favorite: BUSHY B INTERLUDE, AUTOMATIC, BIRDZ

Track List:

  1. ZUU
  2. RICKY
  3. WISH (Feat. Kiddo Marv)
  4. BIRDZ – (Feat. Rick Ross )
  5. AUTOMATIC
  6. SPEEDBOAT
  7. BUSHY B INTERLUDE
  8. YOO – (SKETCH)
  9. CAROLMART – (Feat. Ice Billion Berg)
  10. SHAKE 88 – (Feat. Sam Sneak)
  11. BLACKLAND 66.6
  12. P.A.T – (Feat. PlaythatBoiZay)

Tyler the creator- “IGOR” Album Review

IGOR Pink Album Cover
Lets get right to the point, IGOR is a great album that portrays heartache, growth, anger and love.

But most importantly, it just shows just how much effort and passion Tyler has put into evolving as an musical artist, producer and writer.

Basically: ITS A BANGER!!!!!

The album starts with the track “IGOR’S THEME”, which F@#KING SETS THE TONE OF ALBUM PERFECTLY. I could honestly imagine this song playing in the background of a future Jordan Peele movie. Its very eerie yet funky, with foreboding lyrics, letting you know:

IGOR AINT MESSING AROUND WIT YA

Right after that track, were brought into possibly the most hyped song of the album: “EARFQUAKE”
A surprisingly earnest yet sharply produced song about what else: Heart Ache

On first listen, I didn’t think much of it. Yet since the album dropped, I’ve found my Black Ass humming “YoU my make Earfquake!!” to myself almost everyday. You know the song is fire when you cant even control yourself from singing it. A surprisingly good appearance by PLAYBOI CARTI of all people elevates the track as well.

From that track on the album tells a story of what I would call a strong yet toxic relationship.
A relationship that almost sounds doomed to fail, yet it doesn’t make it any less sad or heartfelt.I would hesitate to call this even call this a rap album, even though Tyler does spit a few HOT lyrics on some the tracks. But Tyler’s singing and Synth-funk beats are the star of the show. My absolute favorite track being “New Magic Wand”.

YO. SON. I. LOVE. THIS. SONG! Some fire emojis would be very appropriate here.
A track that has a grimy yet slick beat with some cold blooded lyrics. Seriously if you were only to listen to one track from this project. “New magic Wand” is hands down the one to check out.

Its hard to believe that just a decade ago, Tyler The Creator released his debut Album BASTARD.
A moody, conceptual, BORDERLINE horrorcore rap album that was both brilliant and slightly disturbing. If you were to listen to BASTARD first and then listen to IGOR, you would see just how MUCH Tyler has grown and matured.

I give this album a “fire emoji” out of 10

-James

FAVORITE TRACKS:
NEW MAGIC WAND
A BOY IS GUN
EARDQUAKE
WHATS GOOD
PUPPET