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How Obama Won GW rushes the White House The Issue of HIV/ AIDS in the Caribbean Kanye’s 808’s & Heartbreak: A whole album of auto tune? Nov- Dec 2008
Vol.1, Issue 3
CONTENTS Editor’s Note EDITORIAL……….....………..…..2 Dear Reader,
Conservatives on the Run……..………….………4
On behalf of the entire staff, I would like to thank you for your continuous support for The Ace. This issue is a commemoration of one of the greatest events in American history: the election of our nation’s first African—American President, Mr. Barack Obama. It is never too late to celebrate and as your continue to revel in history, read this issue and learn more about what made his campaign successful and what we can expect from his presidency. In addition, we’ve added additional articles from your peers to enjoy. Take a copy with you during your break and enjoy some good reading.
How Did Obama Win? .…………………….………5
- Samuel Collins, Jr.
BUSINESS…………………………….…3 Big Three Bailout………………………….…..3
The Path to Victory……………………...…….…….6 Healthcare Reform.………………………...…….…7 Captain Obama….……………………….………...…9
The Ace Editorial Staff
On the Radio that Night ………………...……..10
MUSIC………...…....………………..11 In The Booth……..…………………………………...11 Album Reviews…………………………………......13 Top 10……………………………………...…….…….16
WRITER’S BLOCK…………….…19 Ole Talk—HIV/AIDS……………………………..…19 A Regular Day……………………………...……...…20
ON YOUR CAMPUS……………..23
EDITOR IN CHIEF Samuel Collins, Jr. ASSISTANT EDITOR IN CHIEF Kwasi Agyeman LAYOUT EDITORS Kerry Watson Tiana Ottley POLITICS EDITOR Andrew Cooper BUSINESS EDITOR Joshua Joseph MUSIC EDITOR Jamie Benson HEALTH EDITOR Amanda Holder SPORTS COMMENTATOR Adam L. Layne PHOTO EDITOR Ebele Okonkwo
REP YOUR CITY! Chicago is often highly regarded for its ability to be the fine medium between overpopulated and industrious cities such as LA and New York. It has some of the best schools in the nation including Northwestern and University of Chicago. The best place to shop is downtown Michigan Avenue, also known as the magnificent mile. And one cannot leave Chicago without trying Giodarno’s pizza, Harold’s Chicken or Rodney’s Steakhouse. Yet, when is the best time to come to Chicago? Summer Time! For those who love the winter and the wind, the best advice you can receive from a Chicagoan is to buy your winter coat for Chicago in Chicago, but for those who know they cannot handle it, Chicago takes full advantage of our three months of summer sunshine with daily festivals including the African fest, jazz fest, Caribbean fest, gospel fest and several others in Grant Park and Washington Park. Also be sure to hang out in Millenium park, and go to see a movie in the park with a friend. Chicago also has 29 beaches to offer as the entire east side of Chicago is Lake Michigan. Most importantly, the one event that every Chicagoan can identify with is the annual Taste of Chicago. A week - long event that brings hundreds of food vendors, a number of celebrity performers topped off with fireworks to downtown Chicago for a city wide celebration! However, it must be said that Chicago is not all glitz and glam. Though Chicago is considered too have one of the most balanced economies, Chicago public schools is one of the least funded school systems in the country. Chicago continues to struggle with increasing crime rates, issues of poverty and gentrification. Additionally, Chicago artists tend to have a more difficult time breaking into the music industry than those coming from large cities such as LA and NY because of Chicago’s Midwest location. Nonetheless, Chicago is a diamond in the rough. Only the strong can survive the below zero winds year round. Only the brightest can make it from Chicago Public schools to the top universities in the country. Only the best writers can come from the Midwest to the mainstream and only the true leaders can come from affecting their local communities to impacting the world. Clearly, it’s just something about Chicago.
REP YOUR CITY.…………………..25
REP YOUR CITY!
So Many Responsibilities So Little Time Samuel Collins, Jr. Editor – in – Chief
Rep your city: Chicago
By Sally Nuamah HICAGO! The third largest city in the U.S, but the first to make a difference. Also known as, “ the windy city” and “Chi-town,” it is the diamond of the Midwest. Chicago’s south side houses the young man who became the only African American senator in the 110th congress and who is now the first African American president
elect, Barack Obama. But before Barack, there was Jesse Jackson, Harold Washington and a slew of other world changers’. Oprah Winfrey ignited her show’s success in Chicago. Michael Jordan’s 25became a house hold name only after joining the Chicago Bulls. Furthermore, the best lyricists in the hip hop industry such as Common, Kanye West and Lupe fiasco are all full bred Chicagoans.
ho knew that being a student leader would come with its challenges? Around this time last year, I enjoyed a certain level of anonymity as a freshman who was just finding his way around campus and learning new things on a daily basis. My first glimpse of responsibility was an article I wrote about never forgetting one’s roots and helping your community. This year, I have taken on what I see as ultimate responsibility as one – ninth of the Black Men’s Initiative Leadership Board, a member of the Black Student Union Executive Board as well as the Editor – in – Chief of this fine publication. Many from the outside see the fruits of the labor and think of the job only in that context but there a greater responsibility comes with being a student leader on this campus; something that I have come to appreciate at the recent Black Leadership Dinner at the GW Williams House. As one of the few voices of my peers, I was quickly encouraged to keep working in their favor and ensuring that our interests are represented. No time in history is this more important than now. With Barack Obama’s election as President, many look to see how he will address the several challenges that affect Americans. A recent CNN poll shows that a majority of Americans approve of the job he is doing so far in choosing members of his cabinet and giving special attention to specific issues such as the economy and health care. It’s hard to think that at a politically active campus such as the George Washington University that some members of the community are apathetic about life and their ability to make change despite the fact that we elected the first African – American President in the history of the United States. Unfortunately, sometimes that may be the case. A slogan that many of us yelled the night of Obama’s victory and into the next day was “Yes we did!” Despite this momentous victory, we have yet to do anything and there is work to be done in the next four years, two of them I will spend as an undergraduate student. Not to make the victory sound trivial, but it’s important to not forget how we came to this moment in history. By losing that apathy for government and raising our voice, we influenced a very important decision and must continue to influence many more. The Now What Forum was one of many events were people congregated to answer the question of where we go as a nation after this victory. How will you contribute to progress? What will you tell your children about your college years? While they are very good questions, they are not calls for you to become a president of an organization if you do not want to. Instead, it is a call to do your best to ensure that you do your part to make the world a better place and exhibit some form of selflessness. No regrets ever go through my mind for taking on this responsibility even as I juggle several papers and exams. Next month, I will participate in the 2 day of service for Martin Luther King Day and probably be involved in other community activities. Please do not be afraid to join me and the other leaders in this campus because just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a group of dedicated people to make something as delicate as this university work for us. Do your part and the positive results quickly show; something you will not regret.
ON YOUR CAMPUS
The Big Three Bailout Josh Joseph
t’s one thing to bail out Wall Street because it affects almost every aspect of the economy, but now the government is talking about bailing out three large car companies industry? The auto industry employs millions of people in the United States; about one in ten people have auto related jobs. Some economists dispute the numbers, but it is estimated that if any of the Big Three carmakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) failed, three million jobs in the United States would be lost within the first year alone. This would devastate the economy and definitely instigate a U.S. depression, and because of globalization, a certain world-wide depression. That is why the CEO’s of the Big Three are pleading for financial support from the government in order to recapitalize their companies. They believe this to be the only way to save the jobs of millions of workers. But the bigger question is, should the government use billions of taxpayer’s dollars to bail out these companies and temporarily save their balance sheets, or should we allow the natural flow of a free and open market to work itself out?
Winner, Maritza Barcelona and second runner-up, Arielle Maugé happily accept their cash prizes.
Many people argue that a government bailout would be of no benefit for the U.S. economy. Anthony Mirhaydari in his article “Why bailout won’t save Detroit” in MSN Money states that “we simply have too many vehicles to sustain the Big 3's current production capacity. The United States now has 981 cars for every 1,000 people of driving age compared to 613 in the United Kingdom and just 24 in China. As a result, no amount of government aid will stop the factory closures and layoffs.” Thus, Mirhaydari argues that a massive layoff of workers is inevitable, and the Big Three should concentrate on international markets, where the demand for cars per family is still high in demand. Similarly, other economists and free market supporters argue that in a competitive market, it is immoral to intervene in individual companies that represent only one sector of the economy, regardless of the size. They argue that if one, two, or all three fail in the United States, other companies would quickly take their place. Therefore, they argue that this situation may be beneficial in that maybe these companies will merge or be acquired by others in order to save their company name. This would also allow the companies to invest in more fuel-efficient cars which would result in cheaper and more environmental friendly automobiles, and thus raise the demand for U.S. automobiles once again. A third perspective states that the Big Three should come up with their own future plans of sustaining the company’s revenues and profits, and then present their information to the government. After each proposal has been analyzed by experts, the government would choose which one to bail out and let the other two fail. This will guarantee that the company who is bailed out will not fail in the future. Millions of jobs will still be lost in the auto industry, but if the government bails out all three, the taxpay3 ers will definitely lose a big chunk of their income, considering they are already bailing out Wall Street! Only time will tell what the government decides to do with the Big Three.
24 The Caribbean Student Association hosted a wonderful event, the annual Holiday Dinner. The event not only spotlighted the traditional delicacies of Caribbean foods, it also featured a rendition of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Followed by a dance set, by Bacchanal. Last but not least were the beautiful ladies that brought the carnival atmosphere to the Marvin Grand Ballroom. Thanks Ladies!
ON YOUR CAMPUS
Freshman Pageant 2008: And the winner is… Adam Layne
aritza Barcelona took the 1st place prize and crown at the 7th Annual Miss Freshman Pageant on Sunday, November 9th. Second and third place were awarded to Imani Camp and Arielle Maugé respectively. Barcelona received a $1000 scholarship, Camp received $500 and Maugé received $250. Asia Stewart and Lauren French of the Mu Delta Chapter worked together to coordinate the pageant. “It was my first time coordinating a major event,” said Stewart. “I really learned a lot about putting on an event, especially within the school.” Lauren French stated that it was also her first time coordinating a major event. “We started coordinating in the summer which meant setting deadlines and meeting with event planners. We really learned the importance of a schedule, timeline, and task list.” The AKA’s began promoting the event in September and were constantly on the search for potential contestants. With great enthusiasm, French, Stewart, and many other AKA members scouted these young ladies and pitched the idea of becoming the next Miss Freshman pageant winner. Once the girls decided to participate in the Miss Freshman Pageant, the hard work began. “We started out by having weekly rehearsals, but as the show approached we held practices three times a week,” said Stewart. The girls had to practice their talents, coordinate and perform a group dance, and venture out into the community in fundraising efforts. The young ladies came to a consensus that the toughest part for them about the pageant may have been fundraising. In addition to the pageant specifics and fundraising efforts, the contestants also attended a number of events hosted by the AKA These events allowed the women to better connect with the ladies of the Mu Delta chapter outside of the practice setting. “I loved being around the AKA’s. Each one is different. They all have their different personalities and they’re so funny,” said Barcelona. The girls described the AKA’s as mentors as well as friends. The 7th Annual Miss Freshman Pageant took place in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom. Seats were filled with GW students, faculty, and administrators as well as Greeks, friends, families present to support the pageant contestants. The night started off with a group dance followed by the introductions of the contestants. In total, there were nine participants and each of these unique freshmen displayed their various talents, their knowledge, and their beauty at the pageant in their pursuit of the Miss Freshman 2008 title. The judges graded the women in three main areas throughout the night. These areas included the talent segment of the evening, the evening wear segment, and randomly selected questions each contestant answered. The ladies demonstrated a great deal of style, good humor, and especially courage as they performed on stage for such a large crowd, a feat that deserves a great deal of respect and acclamation. The night of elegance concluded with the award presentations. In addition to the main prizes, the Mu Delta Chapter also awarded prizes to Rachel Sullivan for Miss Congeniality and to Ashley Walker as the pageant’s Top Fundraiser. Though production was now complete, there was a realization that they were going to miss practicing and having fun with the girls as they did in the past weeks. No one knew this better than Lauren French who just a year ago was in a similar position as the young women. This year in a different spotlight, Lauren said "It was great to be able to run the show especially since everything went so smoothly. After participating in the pageant last year, I was able to identify little things that I wanted to get rid of, or magnify. Each year the pageant grows and changes for the better. Already we are looking for ways to make next year's pageant even better than this one!" For future freshman looking to participate in the pageant next year, the present winners encourage anyone interested seriously consider it. French gave her input on why she feels the Miss Freshman Pageant was a great experience for her “The first semester of college molds you as an individual and maps out the rest of your experience. 23 These girls have the opportunity to go to these workshops and learn a lot which helps with the transition into college. It’s also a great way for freshman to meet upperclassmen in the GW community and now these girls know that they can come to any of us AKA’s in the future.”
Conservatives on the Run
ow that the 2008 Presidential election is over, it is time to look back and figure out why things came out the way they did. It comes as no surprise that Republicans lost badly. All the polls leading up to Election Day indicated an outright Democratic win with a severe rout in Republican strongholds. I suppose Obama’s 364 electoral votes compared to McCain’s 174 constitutes a severe rout. States like North Carolina, Indiana, and Virginia went for the Democrat, while swing states like Colorado, Florida, and Nevada also indicate bad trends for the GOP. In the post - op evaluation of the 2008 election there are glaring problems that I along with other conservative colleagues, some of whom voted for Obama like I did and others who stuck with McCain, uniformly agree hurt the Republican ticket. When summed, these problems became so costly that they sunk the Republican ship. The first mistake conservatives made this election season was allowing Democrats to win the Hispanic minority more than 2-1. CNN national exit polls revealed that 67% of all Hispanics voted for the Democrat over the Republican. Democrats won all ethnic groups except whites. They carried Asians by 62%, Latinos by 67%, African Americans by 95%, and all other ethnic groups combined by 66%. In other words, Democrats, if given the same coalition every election would be able to carry the White House every time while carrying little more than one – third of the white vote. So why single out Hispanics? Because conservatives have historically done well with this voting bloc in modern American politics. The second mistake the conservative party made was a refusal to stand up to George W. Bush when he sought to do ‘non-conservative’ things like refusing to set time tables in Iraq and ignoring themes of conservative philosophy such as responsibility, accountability, and transparency in management. By refusing to make Iraqis gradually responsible for their own security, accountable to strictly applied performance standards in given time constraints, and making the war funding process as transparent as possible, the conservative party lost touch with an American public yearning for the very management they profess to epitomize. The last and most significant mistake conservatives made in the 2008 election is the most obvious yet most contentious. She goes by the name Sarah Palin. To put it simply, Governor Palin’s election should have never happened. Sarah Palin does not hold a candle to Barack Obama and it was a complete disgrace for her to have been compared to the President-elect. Her nomination was a ploy to grab women’s votes. Obama and Joe Biden never had to attack her. She imploded. Not being able to say what types of materials she reads shows a clear lack of intellectual curiosity and her inarticulate verbosity demonstrated that she was not capable of being in the national spot light. At present, the GOP looks dated, elitist, and Confederate. The reason I voted for Obama, even as a conservative, lies in part with the fact that I cannot identify with conservative leaders through more than just words. Conservatives must acknowledge that America is not the same place that it was and that our coalition, resides a robust and growing minority. We must recollect the pieces of this debacle and the answer lies not in selling out of our principles nor does it mean returning to the days of Ronald10 Reagan. We must be more than the party of Lincoln. We must expand our reach above the Mason-Dixon and beyond the Mississippi.
The Road to VictoryWRITERS’ BLOCK How Did Obama Win? Ben Cole
*** “Hey how old are you kid?” “Eighteen.” “That’s the age. You got your whole life ahead of you. Do you know what you want to do, son?” “No.” “Well, that’s okay really. You’re still young. You still have time. Just as long you remember to play it
merica has just elected its first black president. In just a few weeks, a Democrat will enter office after an eight-year Republican regime, becoming the fifth youngest president ever. Naturally, in the wake of such a momentous election, there’s been a lot of discussion about which factors contributed most to Barack Obama’s win. I will break down what all the consensus among punditry into the three main reasons that Obama, and not John McCain, is now the president-elect. First is the big one, the economy. The race was running tight, according to polls, right up to September 15th, when the collapse of the financial firm Lehman Brothers began a devastating series of blows to the stock market. Democrats are traditionally considered better at handling economic issues than Republicans and this race was no different. Obama led in polls as to who voters trusted more on the economy throughout the entire race, but widened his lead considerably after the financial panic started to set in. The second reason Obama won was the resonance of his message. After eight years of a Bush administration that was widely scorned among both parties, it seems Americans were truly receptive to the idea of “Change We Can Believe In.” Obama’s personal qualifications as a transformative political figure as well as his refreshing take on issues such as foreign relations and healthcare set him up as the ideal candidate for voters who wanted their government to take a different direction. McCain along with his partner Sarah Palin played up his “maverick” resume in retort, but ultimately his “Country First” theme did not nearly match the energy around Obama’s campaign. Finally, Obama’s approach to the electoral map was superior to McCain’s. Obama used Howard Dean’s “50 State Strategy,” which considered no state too red or too blue to receive campaign attention. Voters in states like Indiana and North Carolina, which common wisdom said were very unlikely to vote Democrat, were targeted early and often and contributed to a landslide win for Obama. McCain’s electoral strategy was unimaginative and frankly weak in comparison. His plan was to play defense in all the states Bush had won in 2004 and hopefully squeeze out a long-shot victory in Pennsylvania. Although Bush’s unpopularity and the poor economy definitely changed Obama’s fate in traditionally-red swing states, an insightful campaign strategy put him in position to capitalize on shifting opinions. 9 This generalized list is not comprehensive. Specific campaign moments, VP picks, shifts in voting patterns and turnout among Latinos, African-Americans, and suburbanites and many other factors certainly played a role. But the three categories above are sufficient to give a pithy account of the causes for this pivotal moment in American history.
“It’s really not like that Nick. I’m just trying to help you. Events like the one you went through can damage people emotionally, especially young people…you know…like you”, she whispered in a heartfelt manner. “Hmmm”, he expelled doubtfully. “Are you ready to tell me about that day, now”, she ventured. “Fine. Whatever…like I said it was a regular day. I was just sitting there on the bus two seats behind this guy in a blue-stripped gray suit. He looked like a business guy, a stockbroker or something. I was looking out the window at the cloudy sky when he spoke to me. I never saw him switch seats and sit next to me. I guess I was too into the sky or something. Anyway that’s when he talked to me.
“It was quiet and I just looked at him. Then he just started talking again.” “I wish I had played it smart, listened to my instincts. I used to be just like you, outgoing and full of life. *** “I don’t know what he saw, but it wasn’t me. I’ve never been outgoing. My father used to say ‘People who are outgoing are only trying to hide their many faults in a barrage of words’. What do you think about that? Huh? Tell me, what does that say about him”, Nick asked. “I don’t know”, she said. “All I know is that I’m here for you, not your father or your mother, no one but you.” “Hmm…After he said all that stuff about being outgoing and stuff, I wrote him off as a blowhard and just tuned him out. I mean I was polite. I kept nodding and stuff. I just wasn’t listening. Everything went in one ear and out the other. I don’t even know when he realized I wasn’t listening anymore or even if ever did. All I know is that one minute I was thinking about what I was going to eat for dinner and the next minute I was looking at the barrel of a gun. I thought I was dead for sure. But I wasn’t scared and I’m not just saying that either. It was like a flip switched and I couldn’t feel anything. I mean anything. That’s right when it happened too. He just turned the gun on himself and pulled the trigger. Everybody started screaming and yelling. The driver started swerving the bus and stuff and I just sat there. I didn’t do anything. There was blood all over me. I just looked at the guy and sat there.” “Did you feel anything when you looked at him”, she asked expectantly. “Nope”, he said lightly. “Not even an itsy bitsy thing. Even after the news reports and the police questions, I still didn’t feel a thing. I remember sitting in front of the TV later that night after watching the news story about it. They were talking ‘bout that guy’s life. I guess he was a rich guy who got bankrupt or something. Anyway, all I can remember thinking is today’s been pretty regular. It’s like had forgotten the whole thing. Nick laughed. “Isn’t that funny”, he asked. “Nick”, she said hesitantly. “That’s weird.” “Really? Well…I still can’t bring myself to care.”
The Road to Victory
A Regular Day Leandra Karikari “You can start now”, she prompted. “It was a regular day; at least it started that way. I woke up, brushed my teeth, got dressed and caught the metro bus to my school. It was my twelfth public bus ride. I was counting the days until it was my last public bus ride. I hadn’t quite come up with enough money to get my car out of the shop and pay for all the repairs, but I was close. You know, at first, I had asked my parents for help but they said no. No big surprise there. They’re real big believers in independence and being self-reliant. If they ever bothered to ask me I would tell them that I already am self-reliant...but of course they never do. I’d have to be self-reliant to live in that house. They never ask me about anything. They don’t ask about school, my friends, my girlfriend, nothing. All they do is come home, eat dinner, watch the news, and go to sleep.” “Tell me more about the accident”, she asked, straightening her bifocal glasses. “It wasn’t an accident and I don’t feel like it anymore”, he said slouching in the flower print couch. “You need to talk about it, Nick. I know it was a traumatic thing to see. Things like that can be hard to deal with. Talking is the first step toward healing”, she wheedled. “Look, lady. I said no!” he repeated. “Okay. We’ll take our time and come back to it, ok? Tell me about your home atmosphere”. “What’s to tell? No one smiles in our house or really talks at all. Not like at my at my friends’ houses”, he mumbled. “You mean since…?” “No” he interrupted sharply. “If it was up to me I’d always go to my friends’ houses. Can you believe that they like my house better. They all think my parents are “ultra liberal” or something. I just think they’re cold. That’s why I think it’s so funny that I’m the one talking to you. If you ask me I’d say it should be them talking to a shrink not me. But of course you don’t ask me. Why would you? No one else does.” “Is that really what you think, that you have no control over your life”, she inquired softly. “Yes. What else am I supposed to think”, he questioned. “I…Nick, I…,” she stuttered and then there was a moment of silence. “Tell me more about yourself and how you felt before that day”, she ordered when she managed to regroup. “It’s scary, but sometimes I think I act like them.” “Who”, she asked exasperated. “My parents,” he responded impatiently. “Sometimes I see myself all alone and disconnected from everything. It’s even worse since that day and…I …I just can’t seem to care. Whenever I notice it, this21change in myself, it’s weird. But its okay I guess. No big deal. It never lasts long and then I forget about it. Sometimes I care and sometimes I don’t. No big deal, right?” “Well, it really dep..”, she tried to interject. “Most times I don’t though…care. Is that weird,” he questioned tentatively. But before she could respond, he quickly scoffed and said, “Oh sorry. I forgot you don’t answer questions like that. You’re just here to listen.”
The Path to Obama’s Victory Shaunda Lewis It is hard to believe that almost two years ago a junior senator from Illinois and a former first lady announced their run for the White House. Let us take a look back on the process that launched President - Elect Barack Obama into the White House. On January 20, 2007 Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced her run for the White House on her website. Exactly one month and three days later, Senator Barack Obama did the same in front of a crowded audience in Springfield, Illinois. Before we knew it a full fledged presidential election. On January 7, 2008 in a discussion with undecided voters in New Hampshire, Clinton became a little choked up while answering questions on her reasons for running. The press ran with this expression from Clinton after criticizing her for being “too harsh” and “not feminine enough.” Many critics believed her show of emotion was planned in order to boost her showing in the polls. By early March, McCain became the Republican presidential candidate. The month of March placed the spotlight on the Democrats; especially Obama. As a member of Trinity United Church of Christ, which is a Black church headed by Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Some of the controversial sermons of Jeremiah Wright leaked out to the press and all of a sudden one of the front runners in the Democratic presidential race and his minister were being accused of being anti-American. On March 18,Obama took this matter into his own hands and decided to explain to the American people in a speech named “A More Perfect Union” . In the speech he separated himself from Reverend Wright. In July, Obama and Hillary continued to battle it out throughout the spring. Obama won the battle. The Republicans started releasing attack ads. John McCain’s campaign began calling Obama “the biggest celebrity in the world”. On August 28, Obama was officially announced the Democratic presidential candidate. The 2008 DNC was groundbreaking in history. Obama gave a powerful and emotional filled speech accepting his nomination at Mile High Stadium in front of an audience of 84,000. On August 29, the day after Senator Obama’s presidential speech, McCain announced his running mate, the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, the second woman to be chosen on a major party ticket after Geraldine Ferrero. That decision did not come without controversy. Palin’s seventeen year old daughter was pregnant by her high school boyfriend. Many questioned her qualifications and McCain’s judgment in choosing Palin. On November 3, Obama’s grandmother who was ill with cancer passed away, he pushed through. On Tuesday November 4, 2008 he beat Senator John McCain 349 electoral votes to 162. A lot of “firsts” were set that day. Barack Obama became the first Black president. He became the first sitting senator to be elected as president since John F. Kennedy, while Joe Biden became the first Roman Catholic to become Vice - President.
POLITICS Change in 2008: Barack’s plan to mend our fractured healthcare system Ally Petrila
n an average day, most college students don’t give a whole lot of thought to their health insur-
For the most part, we are all still covered by a family plan, so when something comes up all we need to do is show a health insurance card and things are taken care of through our third-party payment system. The problem is that our system is very messy. It should hardly be called a “system” at all. The United States spends over 16% of the GDP on healthcare costs, but we lag behind other developed countries in health outcomes—that is, the general health and wellness of our people. How can this be? Shouldn’t $5,700 per person per year buy us good health?? There are many factors that affect the health of Americans, and our insurance system is one of them. In the 2008 elections, healthcare was one of the major topics for the candidates, and now that Barack Obama has been elected President, there is a lot to look forward to in the reshaping of our crumbling healthcare system. Before I get into Obama’s plan, bear with me as I explain a little bit about our current healthcare system. In a general sense, health insurance works like this: if you have enough money, you can shop around private insurers (e.g., Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Aetna) for a plan that fits your risk level. Every month, you have to pay a certain amount to be “covered,” this coverage is called a premium. In addition, every year you are also responsible for paying a certain amount of medical costs out-of-pocket before the insurer picks up the tab. This is your deductible, and it can include prescriptions, doctor visits, therapies, etc. It really depends on your plan, but paying premiums and deductibles for an individual can be a thousand dollars or more annually. Prices are higher for people who have previous health problems, dangerous jobs, or risky behaviors such as cigarette smoking. In addition, it is really, really hard as an individual to find an insurance plan versus finding an insurance plan for a family. Luckily, we also have employer-based health insurance, which is provided by most jobs these days. The payment is the same, but you are in a group pool with other employees and you all share costs and risks. Seems simple enough, right? The problem is that not everybody is wealthy enough to buy an insurance plan nor does everyone work at a job that offers coverage for employees. For these people, we have Medicaid, a federally- and state-funded insurance program for eligible populations (low-income children, pregnant women, and disabled persons). But even though Medicaid has been a good attempt at providing healthcare to the uninsured, there are a few big problems with the program. For one, not all healthcare providers participate because their reimbursement is very low, so the actual number of doctors available to people on Medicaid is limited. Secondly, there are a lot of hurdles (read: paperwork) to enrolling in Medicaid. 5 And finally, there are significant gaps in coverage for certain populations—namely recent college grads and adult males. All in all, about 45 million Americans are still left uninsured.
WRITERS’ BLOCK say a guy [in Trinidad] is having sex with a guy but having a sexual relationship with a woman. He may not be able to come out and say it because his family is totally against it, his community is totally against it— you know in Trinidad sodomy is against the lawso his behaviour is kept very underground and when things are underground there is less access to condom use so he may contract the disease and pass it onto the woman. Also, you know the culture in Trinidad is “one man have so much woman; one woman have so much man.” We have a very loose culture even though we have a very conservative mindset. We have a Carnival culture. We have Carnival babies, [babies conceived around the time of Carnival festivities] etcetera. But we have a conservative, religious mindset so we’re in denial about the fact that we have sex. It seems to me that a lot of my peers in Trinidad- young, educated people-are not consistently using condoms. Why do you think that is? We’re in denial. Think about school. Did you learn anything about sex, periods, reproduction around the time of puberty? I didn’t. They don’t teach those things in school unless you’re in biology. What about at home? I was fortunate enough that my mother talked to me about sex but there are so many parents who are uncomfortable having those conversations. These young people’s bodies are going through these changes and they may not know what’s going on. There’s no conversation at school or at home. So where do kids get the information? They get it from older peers or people their own age who might be misinformed. There’s no forum for kids to get the right information. In the Caribbean we treat kids as if their brains are less than adults’ and so we fail to remember that when we were kids we were having sexual feelings.
I know when I was in school kids were having sex. We have all these kids having sex without understanding the complications or the implications [of it]. I don’t think our society will progress beyond that. I mean, the Ministry of health is implementing a Family Health Curriculum across the board so we’ll see. It’s a good start. What modes of HIV/AIDS prevention work/ don’t work? Are you hopeful about advances in prevention and treatment? I’m extremely hopeful! People living with HIV today may never know what it means to be ill because medicines are such that they could keep your viral loads so low that you never experience sickness. I think what works with prevention is open dialogue and open education. People need to learn about prevention. Testing is not prevention... If someone tests negative they can either go back and do the same behaviour or they may change their behaviour to prevent disease. But prevention is not just testing. People who have been tested are people who have put themselves at risk through unprotected sex or sharing needles. [People need to] start the conversations [about prevention] prerisk so they know what prevention and what sex is. We need to invest more in the general population and meeting people where they’re at. We have to acknowledge that people have sex. We have programs that teach abstinence only .What happens when someone does get married or does decide to have sex? They need to learn how to protect themselves.
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Ole Talk Daria Ann Martineau Abby Charles Speaks
ur generation has seen so much incredible history. However, we “80’s babies” have also seen a darker side to the human condition. We are the first generation to grow up in the time of HIV/AIDS and many of us hail from regions that have been especially affected by this virus. The Caribbean is one such region and it has produced many concerned citizens. Abby Charles is one example. You may have seen her face caricaturized on the walls of the Hippodrome. After coming from Trinidad to study, Abby has earned both a Bachelor’s of Science and a Master’s from the George Washington University. With her Master’s in Public Health, Abby has gone on to work for The Women’s Collective, a local foundation that provides HIV care management and HIV prevention services to women. She sat down with me recently to discuss her work. What drew you to this type of work? Did it 19have anything to do with where you come from or being a woman?
corridor. But there wasn’t really any conversation around sex or HIV in school. Then at GW I took a course about refugee health and in that class you learn about the risk people are at-- migrants especially, women especially. Women are at a more vulnerable place in society and so from that class I got interested in Public Health. But GW did not have a public health program until my junior year so I did environmental science. Then I got my masters in Global Health because I had wanted to do it for undergrad. When you study that the main topic is HIV because it is such a pandemic. So my interest was piqued there. After graduation I had a lot of options and one of my friends was working at The Women’s Collective where I work now. So I did the interviews and got the job and it increased my understanding and awareness of HIV. What is different about the spread of HIV/ AIDS in DC as opposed to the Caribbean? I don’t know really....I don’t really think it’s that different to be honest. There’s always stigma, misconceptions and that drives the epidemic. We’re in denial about the epidemic and we’re in denial about behaviours we do to contract it. We think only certain populations get it. DC is sort of like a developing country in terms of access to healthcare. Access to healthcare is more difficult for women globally. Domestic violence occurs everywhere and victims of that are more at risk. They are less likely to have partners that use protection or to ask their partners if they’ve been tested. There is also gender inequality. Women are sort of viewed as sexual beings and have less power in the bedroom. What are the differences? Homosexuality is less stigmatized in DC. In the Caribbean it is more underground...
So that brings us to our point of change. Barack Obama’s goal for healthcare is to achieve near-universal coverage by building on the existing system. Instead of wiping out everything we have built (which is not only extremely difficult logistically, but would also be largely resisted socially), Obama wants to expand our current programs and improve records and communication between insurance entities and healthcare providers. He will require large employers to provide coverage, provide tax credits for small employers to help them provide coverage, and expand Medicaid to include more people. In addition, Obama plans to create another, larger public program through the National Health Insurance Exchange that would provide enrollees with benefits similar to what federal employees get. Our system will still be a mélange of private and public insurance, but the difference is that it will be more accessible, which translates into fewer uninsured Americans. An important detail in Obama’s plan is that he will prohibit private insurers from discriminating based on medical history or pre-existing conditions. He also wants to focus on wellness and prevention where we have traditionally used medicine as treatment and reaction to illness. The change will not only be political but social and cultural as well. So what does all of this mean to the average college student? Undergrads, you’re probably still in the clear. In addition to your parent’s insurance plan, GW offers a decent array of services at Student Health. You can get STI tests (including HIV), immunizations, emergency contraception, and even psychiatric evaluations all at reduced costs. For those of us about to graduate, though, we are in a different boat; if you continue on to grad school or get a good job with health benefits, you’ll be okay. But if you still don’t have anything lined up and are about to get booted off of your parent’s plan, I have some advice: DON’T RISK IT. Don’t go without insurance. There are “catastrophic” insurance plans that will cover you if you get into a car accident or something terrible happens, and they are available at a relatively low cost. Although limited, catastrophic plans can keep you from going bankrupt due to outrageous medical bills. Until Obama’s plan takes full effect, with the sky-high costs of healthcare these days, you don’t want to be left without some form of insurance.
GW Celebrates Obama’s Victory
regrettably, about 13 local venues serve the same greasy foods, burgers and fries. While these monotonous choices may be the most appealing (for some), do not neglect the other choices on the menus. Healthier options are available; you’ll just have to actively find them. For example, although many of us deny it, we eat at Wendy’s far more often than we’d like to admit. Now of course, my first piece of advice would be to steer clear from that fast food joint because of its greasy food and its occasional unmannerly workers. Nevertheless we all know that we will eat there anyway, so I’ll briskly move on to the second recommendation. Instead of ordering Wendy’s burgers and fries, order a salad. Apparently, the Mandarin Chicken Salad is one of the best selling salads in the fast food industry. Surprisingly, the salad won’t cost much more than your usual meal, so you might as well give it a try. If salad is not your thing, then try trading in your side order of fries for a chili or baked potato. The average order of medium fries will cost you $1.49 and will contain 400-500 calories while for the same cost, you can eat chili which is high in fiber or a baked potato which is not only less characteristic of fast food, but also much less saturated with fat. Now if you must buy a burger, don’t feel too bad about your choice. By no means am I encouraging students to make a daily purchase of the Cowboy burger at Ivory’s Gallery Place, but relatively speaking, when taken in moderation burgers are a balanced meal. With lettuce, bread, meat and fruit (tomato) burgers can be very nutritious. In order to save a little money and avoid lots of calories opt not to get cheese or French fries with the order. Remember that healthy eating is your obligation. Keep yourself healthy by staying active and eating right. These precautions will leave you less susceptible to seasonal illnesses and more likely to attentive and focused in your academics. I’ll leave you with a departing rule: “If you think that you should not eat it, then don’t eat too much of it.”
Students pose as reporters across the nation gather for first-hand view of this event. Ryan Mitchell and Brian Herman proudly wear Obama shirts.
BSU celebrates with a party, backed with recent win of Obama.
“ Students from George Washington flooded in front of the White House gates as Barack Obama was announced the winner of the 2008 presidential election”
Now, we’re not saying he’s some sort of superhero (sources says Barack is known to go an “office” whenever there is a political crisis) but for a supposedly average guy he has his own THEME SONGS!
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A Milli Obama Obama Remix - (1,611,234) views on YouTube This song started it all, not only was Lil’ Wayne on his way to platinum success, but this anthem brought those million CD buyers into the political world. “Tell the Clintons HAHA, couldn't catch him, couldn’t stop him ….. Man Obama so ill” I Got a Crush…...On Obama - ( 12,260,352) views on YouTube If you haven’t it seen yet, definitely check it out. Obama’s #1 fan, pours her heart out over the man she been crushing on since 2004, now that’s dedication. Plus is super catchy, the staff is still singing the chorus. “You tell the truth unlike the right, you can love but you can fight, You can Ba-rock me tonight” (It’s posted on the blog, checkout the comments)
“Shoutout to the E-board of the Multicultural Business Student Association (MBSA) for a good semester of programming and hard work, also to our members that attend our events” - Emmanuelle Renelique ‘09 –President of MBSA
My President is Black- (629,926) views on YouTube 8 This song was not only a facebook status favorite it was one of the movements that powered the inner cities. Not only does rapper Young Jeezy speak about the problems of a recession he gives Obama a historic rap line. “My president is black, my lambo’s blue and I’ll be cot damn, if my rims ain’t too”
“Shoutout to all my Haitians and Uptown!!! See ya’ll next semester”—Pierre Doriscat ‘12 9
HEALTH EATING HEALTHY
On the Radio that Night
By Amanda Holder Jamie Benson This month, our music editor recaps a very historic night at WRGW Radio and collects some thoughts on what an Obama victory means for hip hop.
inally I get to say it: I was there on November 4th. No, not “there” as in the nation’s capital in general – I’m talking…in the midst of it all. On election night, the hip hop department and myself pulled off a feat that seemed impossible to a large community of people here in the District. For years now, it’s been a struggle in order to gather the DC/MD/VA area’s best hip hop talent in one place. In fact, they even came up with a name for it a few years ago: hate is the new love. I couldn’t stand it; I had to make things change. Oops, I used that word.
Change is fitting word for the outcome of this year’s presidential election, but I’d use the term unity to describe The Political Report, a five-hour in-studio special with some of the biggest names from the local hip hop scene. Everyone was there (except Wale, but there’s a perfectly valid reason); even the older artists who are on the brink of emerging national careers. They freestyled, I discussed the election, and we all erupted into a wild celebration when Barack Obama was elected the 44th president of the United States. I never imagined that I’d spend my 2008 election night with such an eclectic group of characters, but I am incredibly thankful that I did. I could discuss my differing skin color from the majority of those forty or fifty people in the studio that night, but I think we covered that in the last issue of this publication. No matter what race, the buzz word that night was not just change, it was also unification. I’ll leave you with a special note I wrote immediately following the election for a blogger friend of mine…
he general consensus around campus, especially for upperclassmen, is “times are hard.” With a shrinking if not non-existent balance on G-World and a growing fear of an overdraft on your bank account, many students are compromising their health in order to save the remaining dollars in their wallet. Not to say that these sacrifices are not sensible decisions, but in the long run you’ll regret cutting corners on healthy eating. Besides, no one wants to gain the freshman 15 four years in a row. Now don’t worry I won’t give yet another trans-fat spiel, but do remember that money is precious, so you might as well spend it wisely. So here are a few tips on how to eat healthy without depleting your funds. Being the financially savvy college students that we are, many students find it most beneficial to satisfy their hunger by taking a trip to Safeway and buying a six-pack of Ramen for about $1.50 and a gallon of generic brand grape drink for about $1.50. This approximate $3.00 purchase can provide about six meals for the average person. Unfortunately, the Styrofoam textured Ramen noodles have enough sodium to make your doctor diagnose you with high blood pressure and hypertension after 6 consecutive servings. Even more, the sugars, artificial coloring and artificial flavoring of the grape drink can’t be too nutritious either. Although it would cost you more than $3, you many consider spending your money more 17 productively. To save money, try not to dine out more than twice a day. Buy groceries and keep healthy snacks in your room so that you not only save money, but so that you vary the types of foods that you eat. Remember not to stock up on snacks like Pringles or Krispy Kreme doughnuts for obvious reasons. A better choice may include bananas, which studies prove to positively impact memory and cognition.
"Two weeks before the election, I asked my program director here at GWU's campus radio station what she had planned for the evening of November 4th. I figured they'd want the news team to stay on-air until the election was called, but to my surprise I was granted five full hours from 7pm to midnight. I immediately began brainstorming how I could incorporate my progressive hip hop show with the political themes surrounding such an historic night. A week later, I had over 15 artists from the DC/MD/VA area signed on to provide their unique perspectives on the most important election of my lifetime. Fast forward to Tuesday night and the euphoric celebration that erupted among nearly forty people; artists and friends of multiple races packed into our small basement studio. Immediately I cut off all the microphones and threw on Nas' "Black President" as fists raised in the air and folks stood triumphantly on the seats of chairs. Words cannot describe how magical and emotional that particular moment in time was...though I'm quite sure I'll never forget it. For those who have just read my words: thank you; thank you for voting for Barack Obama and thank you to the artists and friends who agreed to spend their night on the radio. Even if we somehow book Jay-Z for a future studio appearance, I don't think he'll be able to top the incredible feelings of election night here 7 at WRGW Radio.”
MUSIC Perhaps you’re from DC and you’ve known about them for years, or maybe you live outside the area and just recently picked up their name via Wale’s success. Regardless of your familiarity with UCB (a.k.a.The Uncalled 4 Experience), one of the most legendary go-go bands in the nation’s capital, they’ve been an overwhelming presence in the city’s music scene for over thirteen years. In this exclusive interview with band members Tre and Slump you’ll get the full history behind the band, exclusive info regarding their new projects, and their opinion on go-go in the mainstream market.
MUSIC TOP 10: The Greatest Producers By Justin Alexander Usually the first thing we notice about a track is the way it sounds. Producers are responsible for creating that tick-tick followed by that bump. (Producers are numbered 1-10 for list purposes only; this is just a collection of ten producers in no particular order) 10. DJ Premier: The Michael Jordan of production, Premier has worked with everyone from the Notorious B.I.G., Jay-Z, and Nas in addition to being the force behind Gang Starr and Jeru the Damaja. 9. Rick Rubin: Monumental to Def Jam during the embryonic stages of hip hop. Played a key role in the development of artists such as LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, and Run-DMC. 8. RZA: Most significant piece in one of the most significant groups, the RZA not only transformed the Wu-Tang Clan but made solo careers out of members such as Raekwon, GZA, and Ghostface.
In the Booth with... UCB http://myspace.com/theuncalled4experience Presented by WRGW Radio’s Funkadelic Freestyles & elitaste.com Words by Jamie Benson
7. Dr. Dre: A vital part of the west coast hip hop movement. Producer of legendary albums such as The Chronic, Doggystyle, and No One Does It Better.
6. Pete Rock: Perfected the fusion of jazz and hip hop. Who can forget “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” or “The World Is Yours”? 5. Marley Marl: Head of the Juice Crew and a Queensbridge legend, he practically handcrafted the careers of Big
We really needed a definitive UCB interview and here y’all finally are. Introduce yourselves for the people.
Daddy Kane and Biz Markie along with MC Shan.
4. Bomb Squad: One of the most unique production groups ever, they had the ability to utilize more than a dozen
Tre: This is your boy Treasure a.k.a. Tre; ladies, you know what it is. I’m the lead vocalist. Slump: This is your boy Slump – I got alotta names but lately they’ve been calling me Juice. I’m on percussion. Tre: For the members that aren’t here tonight; we have Eazy on the drums, Godfather on the keys, Mack on the keys, Stan on the guitar, Rashad on the bass, Rock Mikey on the vocals, GMoney, Bo, and Myra on the vocals. What’s the difference between the UnCalled 4 Experience and UCB? Tre: Our original name back in ’95 or ’96 was The UnCalled for Band. We started using UCB as a simple acronym and people started to take to UCB more than they did UnCalled 4. We started to get a lot of negative press for the stuff they associate with go-go over the years and we had a 11 stigma with us. In 2002 or 2003, we started using the name The Uncalled 4 Experience because we started to play at 21 plus spots and we had changed up our format for those venues. It was more like R&B, top 40, and mid-tempo grooves so we weren’t really playing raw, high-intensity grooves that we had made our name for. The Uncalled 4 Experience was a name for the intimate spots that we play in DC. When we’re on the road at colleges and at all-ages shows, the moniker is UCB.
samples on a track. All of their beats were so distinctive and innovative thar nobody else could claim it as their own.
3. Prince Paul: Even if his production credits were limited to De La Soul’s De La Soul Is Dead, Paul would still have a pretty good shot at making it on anyone’s top ten list. See for yourself.
2. 9th Wonder: Unlike any other producer, some of the most soulful sounds are created by 9th Wonder. 9th can find the most soothing vocals and link it to a banging beat. 1. Kanye West: As arrogant as he may be, his beats might be enough to silence the critics. West should solidify
What you think? Messsage your opinions on Sam or Kwasi’s Facebook wall. It will posted be in the next issue. http://thenewace.blogspot.com
MUSIC ALBUM PREVIEWS
Common – Universal Mind Control Geffen/G.O.O.D. Music Drops: December 9th When we last heard from Common, it was on his 2007 album Finding Forever, a record that left people with exactly what they expected from Common: excellence. The critically acclaimed release was the perfect follow up to its predecessor Be. Predicting what to expect from Common on his upcoming album, Universal Mind Control, might be a bit more difficult. The lead single which is also titled, “Universal Mind Control” features a sound similar to Common’s arguably disappointing experimental album Electric Circus. Although Electric Circus left most fans and critics scratching their heads, this new sound from Common is much more enjoyable, as The Neptunes lay down the beats which echo the work of Afrika Bambaataa. Maybe Common has learned from his previous experiments and will show what he has learned on his upcoming release. ~JA
Jadakiss – The Last Kiss Def Jam Drops: December 16th The Last Kiss is not, as some could be lead to believe, the final chapter in Jadakiss’ vital career. While it may be the ending installment in his “Kiss” themed album titles collection, it happens to be his first release on Def Jam as a new member of the Roc-A-Fella family. Jay-Z invited him to tryouts last year, and he’s down quite well since then – appearing at concerts with Beanie Sigel and Shawn Carter himself. However, it took Jada more than a minute to drop a single for The Last Kiss, but he can now breathe deeply with the Ne-Yo-assisted “By My Side.” As far as the rest of the album goes; well, there’s no telling just yet. Def Jam has kept the other records – including collaborations with Faith Evans, Lil Wayne, and Styles P – on authoritative lockdown. ~JB
When the name UCB is mentioned, it is often preceded by the word “legendary.” Tell us the history behind one of the greatest go-go bands ever. Tre: It’s been about thirteen years that we’ve been in existence. The majority of the band hails from uptown Northwest DC – we were in the streets for a minute and then we took a step into the real music business. You can see what we’re doing now. Slump: After being in it for a while and working the city circuit, we had to get outside of the area. Tre: I can say that we will represent this city as best we can; we’ve always been an original group. We have five original albums, we released three or four singles, and we’ve even got a Christmas single that came a few years ago. Right now we’re focused on taking our sound outside of the beltway and supporting Wale with his album and his shows. Are you guys looking at getting a major label deal? Tre: There’s a lot of talking, but we’re still creating that buzz. At the end of the day it’s always about the music so that’s what we like to focus on in the band. That’s why we’ve got a team to handle all the rest of the stuff outside of the music. Something may definitely happen in 09. Slump: He’s saying definitely – all I’m saying is that I hope it do. Even if it don’t, I’m still hoping. What are you working on right now for projects? Tre: We’ve got a new single out called “You Go Girl.” We’re working on an EP right now – it’s gonna be a UCB x Wale project. It’s gonna be like three to five hot songs and we’re gonna showcase them while we’re on the road with Wale. Our set is probably gonna be longer because everyday Wale is increasing his catalog with his album coming out in March, plus we’ll have more of our own stuff to play on his set. FOR THE FULL INTERVIEW: http://elitaste.com/blog/2008/11/12/elitaste-interviews-tre-and-slump-from-ucb/
Eminem – Relapse Aftermath Drops: Late December/Early 2009 What a difference five years can make. Remember Aftermath back in the early 2000’s? Dr. Dre’s 2001 came out and revolutionized hip hop’s sound, 50 Cent was introduced to the world, and Eminem had 13 year-old girls singing his lyrics. Now its 2008 and it has been five years since En15was dropped to critical disappointment, though those five years have made us realize that core we really do miss the man named Marshall Mathers. The new album has been dubbed Relapse; and expect guests to include Bishop Lamont, 50 Cent, Cashis, DMX, and more. DJ Premier announced he has a track on the album named “Keys To The City”, bringing back the “old Eminem.” Though nothing has been leaked or released, save a mediocre freestyle, Relapse is expected to drop in either December or early 2009. ~AK
MUSIC 808’s & Heartbreak — Kanye West Def Jam
Tronic — Black Milk Fat Beats With the music industry feeling the effects of the recession, major label noise has been pretty quiet for a while now. The same cannot be said of the underground market, with labels like Rhymesayers, Duck Down, and Def Jux pumping out quality material. Michigan’s Fatbeats is no exception; with Detroit being a mecca of underground hip hop. Black Milk returns with his Motown sound on his sophomore disc, Tronic. He shows off his dexterity as a producer by leaving behind the soulful sampling of Popular Demand and incorporating live and analog synth elements to his chops and hard-as-hell drums. The album kicks off with the mesmerizing “Long Story Short,” re-introducing himself to any new fans over the grimiest, dirtiest drums you’ve ever heard. Even Dwele comes in to showcase his trumpet playing. Lead singles “Give The Drummer Sum” and “The Matrix” are quality tracks, the former featuring some nice live drum playing and the latter containing dope verses from Pharoahe Monch and past collaborator Sean Price with DJ Premier cutting on the hooks. “Without U” features Colin Munroe as a reminiscent track about past flings over a feel good synth beat. The menacing-sounding “Hell Yeah” and dramatic “Overdose” successfully switch up the feel of the album and are production gems. His lyrics don’t really go past typical braggadocio raps and some insightful rhymes, but they are good enough to get by, like on “Give The Drummer Sum:” “Got a hotter flow than most of these monotone emcees/simply kick a better hymn, please/get a breath in, just breathe/spotlights, pop life, I’m the next thing.” The real star of the album is the production - and he packs enough high-profile features for 13 listeners, though Black usually trips up when trying to keep up with his guests. A good example of such is on the 80’s rock sampling “Losing Out,” featuring fellow Detroit brethren Royce Da 5’9”. Tronic is a solid album that successfully continues Black Milk’s style while following a different sound. ~Akhil Kalepu LISTEN: The Matrix (feat. Pharoahe Monch, Sean Price, & DJ Premier) OVERALL: B+
In anticipation of Kanye West’s fourth studio album, the stakes were too high. 808’s & Heartbreak, advertised with the signature drum pattern and recorded in Hawaii with the obligatory zip code, was supposed to be an example of an artist skillfully stepping out of the box. Instead, it’s simply a failed experiment – featuring an overabundance of auto tune - in a genre called hip hop where now it seems like anything is acceptable. The term acceptable begs for clarification in the context of this review. We have entered an age in which the most ridiculous sounding rap song can pass as a hit record on commercial radio. With 808’s & Heartbreaks, we can at least note that Mr. West is advancing his production skills. In fact, “Welcome To Heartbreak” featuring the new G.O.O.D. Music prodigy Kid Cudi, is so stunning in its instrumentation that the heavily-filtered vocals can almost be ignored all together. Unfortunately for Kanye, hip hop was born from spoken word and any critic will jump right to an artist’s lyrical talent before they examine the beats. Remember the numerous hurdles Kanye had to endure before signing an album deal with Roc-A-Fella Records? Jay-Z had been impressed by the Chicagoan’s production, but was far from convinced he’d be able to release an album as a rapper. If time worked backwards and 808’s & Heartbreak happened to be Kanye West’s first release, he would be chided for poor lyrical content and lack of inspiration. It just so happens now that he’s a superstar, and his fans will accept almost anything he puts out – which brings us back to the commercial radio comment. 808’s & Heartbreaks is an album full of new age radio hits, including the tolerable “Heartless.” It’s a single that will bode extremely well in clubs and at high school dances, but for those true hip hop heads still out there – it’s an embarrassment. “Tell Everybody That You Know,” featuring Lil’ Wayne, sounds similar to two kindergartners experimenting with a toy stereo. Mr. West had reasons for making this album – his mother died a tragic death and he split with his girlfriend this year – but in all honesty, he should have kept this project for the “lost tapes.” However, Kanye has indicated that his next release could appear as soon as June 2009, presumably without all the unnecessary frills and unhealthy coatings of auto tune. ~ Jaime Benson LISTEN: “Welcome To Heartbreak (feat. Kid Cudi)” OVERALL: C
SINGLES to listen to off of BLACK MILK Long Story Short Give the Drummer Sum The Matrix Without U Hell Yeah Overdose
SINGLES To listen to off of 808’S & HEARTBREAKS
Welcome to Heartbreak Heartless Tell Everybody that you know