Fresh Music Roundup (#26) – Friday 27th October 2017

This week’s Fresh Music Roundup is an eclectic mix of sounds and genres. It features music from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign and AJ Tracey. It also features UK band, Everywhere, who have been featured on BBC Introducing and have supported Kaiser Chiefs, as well as music from Johnny, a Brooklyn based Singer/Producer. Check it out below, and don’t forget to leave a comment about what songs you’re listening to this month!

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Telly Talk #3 – 19th Oct 2017

I’m back again with another instalment of Telly Talk. This time I will be sharing my thoughts on the following shows; The Good Place, Bojack Horseman, Rick & Morty and Big Mouth.

Big Mouth

I’ll start with Big Mouth. The word crass springs to mind immediately. The animated adult comedy’s whole premise revolves around sophomoric humour, making light of the angst and terror that comes with puberty. Some of the comedy includes a teenage boy’s hormonal state personified as a monstrous tempter, as well as parents who have a tendency to overshare about their bedroom activities. I don’t feel like I laughed once for the duration of the single episode that I watched, and I have not been intrigued enough to want to watch another. I do however remember cringing a great deal. Oh, and rolling my eyes a lot too. There were quite a few sighs as well.

The Good Place

This sitcom is right up my street, corner and alleyway. After I first discovered it I had caught up with the show in about 2 weeks. It had me hooked and dangling from the edge of my seat. Not only is it funny, but the story progresses in each episode substantially and you actually feel as though you’ve got your time’s worth. That is rare for a 21-minute comedy, but it works. The episodes are short and sweet. Cliff-hangers are picked up from seconds after they were left in the next episode which makes for great binge-watching, as well as when it comes to trying to remember what happened in the previous episode. All in all, it is a great watch; the characters all compliment each other well, there are lots of twists and turns that keep you on your toes, and as I already mentioned, it’s very funny. I love the concept of the show which takes place in the afterlife and explores what would happen if someone was mistakingly sent to the ‘good’ place if they were not a particularly model citizen (or does it 😉)

Bojack Horseman

On paper, this show shouldn’t work. Trust me, I’ve tried to recommend it to several people and they usually end up looking at me like this:

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But somehow it does. Somehow you find yourself relating to a washed-up, self-absorbed, depressed TV star from the 90s, who also happens to be a horse. And the show also features interspecies relationships, including a labrador and a human woman. It sounds ridiculous but it is a great show. I love the sarcastic humour, the exploration of negative emotions and how being depressed can affect those around you. It explores the ups and downs of fame, politics, society as well as relationships between family, friends and lovers. It honestly is a fantastic show and I’m gutted that I am all caught up and have to wait until next year for more Bojack!

Rick and Morty

I’m 5 episodes in and I am still yet to see what all the fuss is about for this show? I don’t find it funny, the characters are not likeable, and worst of all both of the main characters’ voices are SUPER annoying. Rick is always burping and slurping and dribbling and just sounding and looking like a mess. While Morty is always whinging and stuttering and whining. The show is basically Family Guy meets Back to the Future and I might give it one more episode before I call it a day. I also don’t like the way the characters are drawn – especially the pupils of the eyes for some reason. I would rather they were just plain black circles as opposed to whatever scribbly shape they are.

That concludes this instalment of Telly Talk. I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and check out the shows for yourself! Remember to follow me on Twitter as well @ChrisCultureUK

Telly Talk (#2) – 8th Sept 2017

As I’m sure I have mentioned in the past, I have a very short attention span so I can’t really copiously consume episodes of TV shows like we are encouraged to do in today’s society. Well, not unless I am extremely invested in a show, and that is rare. However, I have been watching a couple shows since the last time I made a Telly Talk post; these are: That 70’s Show, Suits, Game of Thrones and Insecure.

That 70’s Show

I had always heard about this show growing up but I had never really been drawn to it. It was recently recommended to me and I gave it a try. I am only around 5 episodes in, and while I’m not exactly blown away, I do think it’s an enjoyable show. It’s ironic as it was intended to be a throwback to the 70’s when it began airing in the 90s, and now two decades later I’m watching it. The show is character-driven rather than plot-driven which is typical of a sitcom, and while the characters are still being developed in these initial episodes, I’m not particularly drawn to any one character, and I’m still yet to get a belly laugh moment from the show. But it is still early days, and I do think it has the potential to make me laugh out loud so I’ll stick with it a little while longer.

Suits

I have a funny relationship with this show. I started it around this time last year as you can see from this post. But I haven’t got very far with it. This is not because I do not enjoy the show, as I really do. I find it very gripping and entertaining; especially an episode I watched recently in which Harvey and Mike bonded and let their hair down together, something which was unexpected but 100% necessary at that point and time in the series. I am just not a fan of 45 minute long episodes as I can’t bear stay watching for that long. However, I do make exceptions if the episode was particularly interesting. For that reason. I tend to watch the show in bursts, and I can go away for months and come back. But, pitifully, I am only now just coming to the end of Season 2, and I have 6 more to go. Wish me luck! At this rate, I should be caught up by the year 2020!

Game of Thrones

I succumbed to the mainstream and started watching Game of Thrones a couple of months ago. I do enjoy it and it is gripping and unlike any show I’ve watched, however, once again the episodes are very long. Though, in the show’s defense a lot of the time I find myself so engrossed that when I find myself at the end of an episode I’m shocked that an hour has passed. So much happens in a single episode that you feel like you got your time’s worth. This is what I need to be happening if I’m going to spend an hour watching a show. I don’t want suspense suspense suspense only for nothing to happen! The show can be gory at times, but it doesn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the show. Although I can already tell it will take me forever to catch up. 😩

Insecure

I’m a fan of this show. I can gladly say that I am up to date! Probably because, while it isn’t a sitcom, the episodes are only half an hour long. Now that’s what I’m talking about! The show is definitely more explicit both in language and sexual content in its current second season, and the choices that the characters are making this time around are very sketchy and questionable, but makes for an intersesting storyline. However, with only one episode left, I am very interested to see how the writers will tie all of the loose ends together as there are plenty of questions I have that need answering. The most important being what kind of miracle will it take to bring Issa and Lawrence together again? Because right now they seem very irreconcilable!

 

Fresh Music Roundup (#24) – Friday 8th September 2017

It’s that time again. Lately, I’ve been trying to find some alternative artists to listen to as I’m not really feeling what is currently popular and on the radio. I’ve included songs by artists such as Steve Lacy, Princess Nokia and German fem-cee Ace Tee. I look forward to hearing what these artists come out with next! Enjoy 🙂

Fresh Music Roundup (#23) – Sun 30th July 2017

Hello, I know it’s been a while, (nine months to be exact), since I’ve done a Fresh Music Roundup and that is inexcusable, so I’m going to show you some of the songs that I have discovered/been listening to the most during the past month. The playlist includes music from the likes of J Hus, Rihanna and Kali Uchis. I hope you enjoy!

Telly Talk (#1) – 30th July 2017

I am dipping my toe into new waters and I’m going to try something different. Hopefully, I can keep up with it, but I plan to regularly group together shows that I have been watching once a month and give them a short review/recommendation. This month includes; Broad City, Star Wars Rebels, Modern Family and Friends from College.

Broad City:

I had heard about this show previously and planned to watch it, but it wasn’t readily available and I couldn’t be bothered to search for it. But low and behold, one day it appeared in the box sets section of my Sky box and I took it as a sign to give the show a try. And I was not disappointed. The show boasts moments of extreme wackiness, endearment and cringeworthiness. Ingredients of a fantastic comedy. I love the contrast between Ilana’s free-spiritedness and Abbi’s bashfulness.  I managed to speed through the shows three seasons in a matter of days and I’m currently suffering from withdrawal symptoms. However, my suffering won’t be long as the show is coming back soon!

Star Wars Rebels:

A year ago, if you told me I would become a Star Wars fan, I would have laughed. But after watching all of the movies (in order to get some pop cultural awareness) I found myself hungry for more Star Wars related content. Now I’m an avid player of the Battlefront game on Xbox one, and I discovered the Rebels series. Yes, for you die hard fans I know it’s sacrilegious to watch Rebels before Clone Wars, so sue me (I’ve started it now). I have thoroughly enjoyed the series, although it took me a while to get through the first season. I love how the show explores the wider Star Wars universe by bringing back characters from past movies and shows, as well as exploring the contrasting morality between the Jedi and the Sith. I’m sad the show is ending next season, but I appreciate the show and I’m sure there will be a new Star Wars series released soon, or so my prowling around the internet has informed me.

Modern Family:

When I would see this show advertised when it first came out I thought it would be another corny sitcom that I wouldn’t find funny in the slightest. Fast forward four seasons and here I am still finding myself laughing. The show is just the kind of humour that I like; dry. I love the contrast of the sarcastic Pritchetts versus their partners and I think the show is one of the more realistic portrayals of family life that I have seen on television since as long as I can remember, even if it does become hyperbolic occasionally. I have grown to love the dynamic of the cast and I can’t wait to see where the show will go in the remaining series that I have to catch up with.

Friends from College:

I stumbled across this show on the home page of Netflix and I thought I would give it a try. It was interesting at first; we had an affair going on between a two married people who were part of a recently revived group of now grown up college friends. I got through five of the eight episodes before I felt like the show was losing its steam. I wanted to enjoy what I was watching but I don’t think the show blended the humour with the drama effectively. When it chose to be only dramatic, it was great and vice-versa with the comedy. But both elements did seem to clash at times, especially in the last episode I watched when they all got drunk at the vineyard. I think a lot of the characters in the friendship group were too similar and so they didn’t contrast each other well. Maybe I will give the show a chance and watch the remaining episodes just to give it the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not in a hurry to.

Choosing the Happy pill

Sometimes it feels like life has you on the misery train, or in an economy seat on Dreary Airlines flying over the Gulf of Despair. But sometimes you have to shake yourself out of it, take a happy pill, and keep on moving. Just to be clear, we are talking theoretically, I am in no way condoning drugs. That being said, I am now going to share how I overcame feeling perpetually overcast, and how a change of perspective helped me to see things more positively.

Recently I got to a point in life where everything just seemed to be stressing me out. I would hear myself talking to other people and realised that most of the time I was moaning, or complaining or criticising, or generally being miserable and cynical. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been a realist and a bit of a cynic, but it was becoming excessive.

After a few people pointed this out to me, and I introspectively examined myself, I noticed the trend in my behaviour, and I made the connection to why it was I always seemed to have a grey cloud over my head. It was because I was getting caught up in the monotony of everyday life and I was using a lot of energy to focus on the negative aspects rather than the positives. For example, I felt as though I was being treated unfairly at work, I felt like I was falling behind at university, I was always unpunctual and I wasn’t using any of my time to do anything fulfilling, or generally fun. And when you add those aspects together, it makes an ugly concoction.

Upon realising this, I tried to work out how I could improve my outlook on life and become more pleasant, positive and productive. In doing so, I came to the conclusion that I had the power to change most of these things by changing the way I saw them. The key was to look at things from a different angle. When it came to being mistreated at work, I examined from a new perspective. I thought, maybe I could try to work a little bit harder, faster and more efficiently, as well as being more proactive. And, at the end of the day, if I knew in my own mind that I was making an effort to work well, then if anybody had a problem with the way I worked, it wasn’t my fault. And just like that, a weight was lifted from my shoulders and I didn’t find going to work so stressful. I found myself smiling more and feeling lively and friendlier. This didn’t always change the coarseness that some colleagues addressed me with, but it bothered me less.

If you have a leader, be it a teacher or a boss, who you feel treats you unfairly, my best advice is to make sure you are doing everything in your power to be the best you can be, so as not to give them any ammunition to use against you. In a way, it can be motivating to have someone aggravating you, as in wanting to prove them wrong, you are improving yourself at the same time. This ties in to my problem with punctuality.

In all honesty, up to this point in time, my punctuality wasn’t that awful, if I ever was late, it was never more than five minutes, however, on one occasion, I was only a minute late and I got in trouble with my boss. At the time I found this outrageous and put it down to several things, I even went to the extremity of suggesting it could be racially aggravated targeting in the workplace. Whether or not that was the case, or just my brain being extra, the fact of the matter was, be it one minute or an hour, I was late. My manager made the point that I should be arriving with ten minutes to spare for my shifts. Which was fair. But try telling me that at the time.

In the weeks following this, out of (retrospectively silly and juvenile) spite, I would leave my house sometimes two hours early, arriving at work with an hour to spare, just so I could saunter past my manager looking smug. But funnily enough, for the next two following weeks he was nowhere to be seen, and my newly found spectacular timekeeping was going unnoticed. As you could probably guess by now, the thought that he was avoiding me out of shame embarrassingly did cross my mind. But at the end of the day, this experience has instilled in me the importance of being on time, and being on time has endless benefits; you don’t have to rush, you have time to relax and to be more observant. It also gives you time to mentally prepare yourself for the day. You are less flustered, more energised and it does contribute to helping you become more positive. I do still grimace a little bit every time he greets me, but I’m working on it and it takes time 😂.

As for the falling behind with my work, I haven’t completely solved this yet, but I have improved greatly, simply by setting myself small goals. For example, if I have a book to finish for the week, I will separate the book into sections and read a section a day until I finish it. And as for my life feeling monotonous, I have been trying to branch out and try new things lately; for example, I’ve been trying new foods and have been trying to eat healthier, I have been going on more walks, I have been trying to be more social and I am considering joining the gym, although I’ve been “considering” this since the beginning of the year. But to be fair, I have actually researched the prices now! Although the freezing cold winter weather has been putting me off. But I digress.

In throwing these things into the mix, I have livened up my life a little bit and a week doesn’t necessarily look the same as the next anymore, which is what I needed. All in all, I am feeling lighter, freer (free-er?) and happier, and it shows in my conversations, my attitude and my general mood. So, I would definitely go as far as to saying that this intervention was a success, and would absolutely recommend it to anyone who was feeling similar to how I was before it. And I think I finally understand what people mean when they say that happiness is a choice.

As always, don’t hesitate to leave a comment, and feel free to follow me on Twitter for updates: @ChrisCultureUK.

Would Total Honesty Make The World a Better Place?

It could be argued that a more honest world would be utopian, because “honesty is the best policy”. It could also be argued that a world with no lies could create dystopia as “the truth hurts”. Either way, it would be interesting to see how different our world would be if the ability to lie or be dishonest was taken away. Let’s explore some of the potential pros and cons of this theoretical world.

First of all, although it may be obvious, I think I should clarify and outline what I mean when I refer to honesty and dishonesty. In the context of this blog post, honesty pertains to telling the truth despite the consequences, while dishonesty relates to implicitly or explicitly withholding information that is true and correct.

That being clarified, let’s get back to business. I will start with the pros of living in a world with no lies:

I think the biggest advantage to complete honesty is that you would always know where you stand with people. This would make life a whole lot easier as you would be able, without overthinking it, to tell the people you love how you feel about them, you could make your feelings known to that special person and instantly get an “I feel the same way” or an “I don’t see you that way”, without all the guess work and mind games. You could also have the confidence to let people know when they have upset you, without feeling guilty.

In addition to this, in a hashtag no filter world, people would be more straightforward, and as a result we would always know what was going on, we would see what needs to be improved, and be able to be more efficient. For example, if you didn’t get the job after an interview, the interviewer would be able tell you what exactly it is you did wrong and were lacking, so that the next time you could be more equipped. Therefore it would give us opportunities to better ourselves and increase our strengths.

Going back to the points about being confident enough to tell people when they have upset you, and telling people how you really feel, I think this has the potential to be very beneficial as it could repair broken relationships. A lot of the time people hold grudges because of how they view a certain situation, when in actual fact, they have misinterpreted the whole thing. Given the opportunity to be honest and say what we really think, the truth would come out and people could be given the chance to see things in another way. It could give insight behind peoples’ actions and help to explain or justify why they have behaved the way they have. For instance, a bully could be able to recount a traumatic experience which has troubled them and has caused them to act out in a negative way. As a result we would be able to learn more about each other and appreciate people with a greater understanding of them.

On the flip side, living in a world free of lies also has the potential to be very dark and dangerous. In the world we live in now, I would like to think that most of the time, we think about how the other person will react before we share our thoughts. Oftentimes, this results in us slightly altering what we actually want to say so as not to offend the other person. However, with the power to tell people how you really feel, it could create a culture of negativity and targeting; people may be more blunt and mean. Without having to vet your thoughts before letting them out of your mind, you have the power to let rip into people and destroy them, highlighting every flaw you have found in them and every little niggling thing they do that annoys you, or worse, they could do the same to you!

Total honesty could, and would very likely, reveal the ugly side to people, and the world in general. Perhaps there is a reason why we have the ability to think before we speak and why our brains are considerably larger than our mouths. Although, in an ideal world, the benefits of having the ability to tell people how we really feel would outweigh the disadvantages, in reality I think it would be the other way around. I think we would spend more time nagging and bickering than complimenting each other, as I guess it is just human nature. Also, it wouldn’t always be nice to know what people think of you as it may be the complete opposite to the vibe they give to you, or what you may have initially believed. It could also reveal that people who you thought were pleasant, are actually quite rotten; it could expose negative attributes such as racism, prejudice, ageism, sexism, homophobia etc.

Additionally, if you happened to be considered an unpleasant or unfavourable person and were constantly reminded of this by people, it would be disheartening, as well as damaging to morale and self worth. This could result in depression, self loathing and may even lead to an increase in suicide rates. It could ruin relationships, cause people to be more closed, shy and unsure of themselves, and could create a hostile and volatile environment.

So to answer the question ‘Would total honesty make the world a better place?’, objectively I would have to say no. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning lying in any way, but, as outlined, things can get ugly very quickly once the floor is opened to share how we really feel. Sorry just wouldn’t cut it once the damage of complete and utter honesty sets in. We have to have the ability to cushion and mould, depending on the person, because at the end of the day we all have different levels of sensitivity. No two people will react the same to a certain situation. We have to package the way we say things to people depending on their personalities because as humans we are all unique and different. That is what sets us apart and makes us who we are. Therefore, the world we live in now trumps (sorry America) a world where complete honesty would be eradicated.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @ChrisCultureUK. 🙂

Should you forgive when people continue to do you wrong?

It is fair to say that we have all been disappointed by another person at least once in our lives; if you haven’t already, then rest assured, you will at some point in your life, guaranteed. You may even be disappointed by someone’s actions towards you more than once in life, which bears the question; should you forgive when people continue to do you wrong?

I’m sure you’ve heard the sayings ‘Forgive and forget’ and ‘Turn the other cheek’, but to what extent are these philosophies useful when it comes to repeat offenders? Are we expected to continually make allowances for people who have no regard for the feelings of others? I, for one, have been on the receiving end of being let down on numerous occasions by the same people, and from experience, I can say that it can be disheartening and frustrating. But it has opened my eyes to how people can be, and given me insight into the way forgiveness can and should be shown.

It all depends on the situation and the person at hand. This covers several fields; the relationship you have with said person, their integrity, and the act that they continue to carry out, or to omit from doing. In addition to this, what also comes into play is to what extent their actions affect you, how you have responded in the past, and what they have subsequently done thereafter.

A mistake is defined as; an act or judgement that is misguided or wrong. As humans, we are allowed to make mistakes because it gives us the opportunity to learn from the experience and do better in the future. However, as the saying goes, ‘We are what we repeatedly do’, so if a person continues to make the same mistake it shows a lack of care, growth, and a personal choice to continue to behave this way. A personal choice to make the wrong decision in a situation, which is the point where I would say, they begin to take liberties. And once people begin to take liberties, in my opinion, they show themselves to be presumptuous, impertinent and audacious. In other words, they lack respect, and have no problem in showing it. This goes for relationships at any level; be it associates, colleagues, acquaintances, friends or family members.

The worst part about people who let us down repeatedly, is that a lot of the time, on the other hand, they can be lovely people. They can be caring, funny, considerate and great to be around. However, a person who repeatedly lets you down, repeatedly makes you feel bad about yourself, repeatedly is not there for you, and repeatedly says or does things to you which you have made clear you do not like, do not approve of, do not want, or do not appreciate, is undependable, unreliable and fickle. There is only so many times you can make allowances for someone. You shouldn’t have to feel exhausted and tired of making excuses for the same person over and over again; there has to be a point where you say ‘No more. Enough is enough.’

I definitely believe that if we ever find ourselves in situations like these, we have the right to put a stop to it. Be that, with of without the knowledge of the other person. Oftentimes it can be better if the other person does not know you have decided not to grant them anymore chances, as they can be known to wear you down or talk you out of it. But sometimes, it is good to give people a piece of your mind, and let them know just how they have made you feel. It can be humbling and eye opening for them. However, it is up to you to discern how the person will react and whether this method will be effective in your personal situation. Nevertheless, the option still stands for you to take action on your own terms, without the other person knowing. You can make a personal decision to distance yourself from the situation. This doesn’t have to mean cutting yourself off from the person completely, but perhaps just lowering your expectations of them and choosing not to continue to put yourself in a place where you can allow them to do what they usually do.

For example, if you constantly invite someone to your birthday party each year and they constantly make excuses as to why they can’t make it; don’t invite them any more. It doesn’t mean you have to stop being friends with them; it just means you are saving yourself from unnecessary stress and aggravation. Another example; if you are constantly left out from group activities, don’t expect to be invited, and then you will find that you won’t care. Let me clarify what I mean by this; by accepting this fact, you are simply accepting that you are not doing anything wrong on your part, but it is the other person who is being bitter, which is unflattering and juvenile. You will often find that petty behaviour like the aforementioned can be quite humorous once you see it for what it really is; childish. In saying this, I am not discrediting the act of forgiveness; on the contrary. You may have heard the saying ‘Forgive and forget’, well I think we should ‘forgive and accept’.

To forgive is to ‘simply stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake’, and to accept is to ‘take what is offered.’ Therefore in doing this, you are deciding not to waste time and energy on the negativity that people present you with.

To reiterate this, here is a video of Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama discussing forgiveness, which more or less follows what I’m saying:

At the end of the day, we all have our flaws, and none of us are perfect, however, I believe we should all strive to better ourselves and learn from our experiences in order to grow. And to grow, sometimes we need to let go of certain things that may be holding us back. At the end of the day, we all grow and different speeds, and life has a funny way of showing us this, so don’t be disheartened if you have to distance yourself from certain people, as not only are you bettering yourself, but you are setting an example for others. Whether or not they choose to accept that is their choice. But it is important to remember that your priority should be your own happiness and you shouldn’t let other people take it away.

Let’s Talk About…(#13) – Solange’s ‘A Seat at the Table’

A definite contender for Album of the Year, A Seat at the Tableis gracious, smooth, subtle, bold and daring. The album is undeniably ‘black’, with several songs scattered with positive affirmations to uplift the black community, including Weary; (Be leery about your place in the world), Mad; (I ran into this girl, I said “I’m tired of explaining.”/I’m not feeling allowed to be mad), and, Don’t Touch My Hair.

solange_cover-1475240092-1000x1000The album could not have come at a better time with all of the racial tension going on in the United States, as well as a collective sense of confusion and anxiety over the upcoming elections in November where the fate of the country will be decided.

What also adds to the album’s greatness, are the interludes by Solange’s parents, Tina and Matthew, as well as legendary rapper and entrepreneur, Master P, who each recount their personal experiences growing up and generally living and working in America while black. We hear about childhood experiences and Master P’s inspirational story about earning enough money from his black-owned, independent record label, that he could afford to buy the whole white-owned block that his mother was then living in.

Sonically, the album is solid; it is authentic in its sound partially due to the use of real instruments, production from the likes of Raphael Saadiq, Q-Tip and Solange herself, who also, incidentally, wrote the majority of the project as well. This makes for a more personal and relatable feel to the songs. The way she uses her voice is very nice as well, the harmonies are beautiful, especially with additional vocals from the likes of Tweet, Sampha and Dev Hynes.

Personally, my favourite tracks from the album are; Where Do We Go From Here, Mad, Cranes in the Sky, Don’t Touch My Hair, F.U.B.U and Junie. I know it’s basically the whole album, but the project as a whole is objectively amazing and it’s hard to select stand out songs. I have literally had it on repeat since it was released. I am proud of Solange, and was interested to see what headspace she would be in since the release of her True EP four years ago. I couldn’t have asked for a better album. I would definitely give it 5/5.