Monday, September 28, 2020

Why A Piece of Strange is a Sequel to Songs About Jane

    In 2002, Maroon 5 (formerly Kara's Flowers) released their breakthrough album Songs About Jane- a rock album themed around frontman Adam Levine's former girlfriend Jane. In 2006, CunninLynguists released their breakthrough album A Piece Of Strange- a hip hop album themed around the descent into sin and its consequences. I think. I haven't listened to it all that much yet. In fact, my first listen through was less than 4 days ago. But I have reason enough to believe that A Piece of Strange is a sequel to Songs About Jane.

    So how is this even possible? How can we assume CunninLynguists have even heard Songs About Jane?

I can't assume they have. I don't know them. I am not super familiar with the group. So why do I think they've even heard Songs About Jane? Degrees of separation.

Maroon 5 and CunninLynguists both know one very important person in our culture- Kanye West.

    Maroon 5 has worked with Kanye West on at least 2 occasions that I know of. First, Kanye West made a remix of the song This Love from Songs About Jane. Second, Adam Levine was featured on the Kanye West song Heard Em Say from Late Registration in 2005.

    CunninLynguists have opened for Kanye West on certain concert dates, although I cannot find much information on these shows.

    If they both know Kanye West, is it safe to assume that they may know each other? They very well could. Especially when taking into consideration the fact that touring musicians often travel the world and collaborate with each other, Maroon 5 and CunninLynguists may very well know each other. Even if they don't, CunninLynguists can still be inspired by Songs About Jane just as I am.

    The time frame is perfect. Songs About Jane was released in 2002, but it didn't start getting popular until late 2003, 2004. This was right after A Piece of Strange's predecessor SouthernUnderground released in April 2003. Songs About Jane was growing in popularity, Maroon 5 was touring, Maroon 5 was working with Kanye West, and a true followup to Songs About Jane had not been created yet. Wouldn't it make sense for CunninLynguists to take inspiration from this new album that's super good and super popular? NOT TO SAY THAT THEY ARE TREND CHASERS, but I would take inspiration from Songs About Jane had I been in their shoes. It makes sense to me.

    "Okay you dumb fool, knowing Kanye in some way and releasing an album in 2006 doesn't automatically mean that your record is automatically a sequel to Songs About Jane. They aren't even the same genre of music. You dumb fool. You rat bazlor. Use common sense," you may be saying to yourself. If that were true, Hip Hop is Dead would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. Food and Liquor would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. Kingdom Come would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. A Girl Like Me would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. Everything would be a sequel to Songs About Jane. And that's just absurd. But so far, we have only discussed the context surrounding the record. Now I will dive into the context of the record itself. First of all, look at the cover art for both of these releases.

Songs About Jane (2002)

A Piece of Strange (2006)

    They look mighty similar, innit? Both feature a naked young woman on the left, both covering up the dirty bits discretely, both with red hair adorned with flowers, both of them holding something red. To the right, the title of the artist and album at the top with an intricate background. That's a lot of similarities, right? I think the red apple was inside the box. But maybe the cover itself is just a reference. The music itself doesn't really talk about Jane in any way.... Except it does.

    The album's most popular song, Beautiful Girl, is often regarded as one of the best uses of sampling of the 2000s. The bars throughout the song use a lot of double entendres, taken literally as a woman in one context, or in another taken figuratively as marijuana. What name is used for this?


    Checkmate, liberals. This is 100% undeniable proof that CunninLynguists were inspired by Songs About Jane while working on A Piece of Strange. Between the cover art, the lyrics, the era, and their contacts, it is all too much to be a coincidence. Even if Kno comes out and says "I have never heard of Songs About Jane in my entire life and you guys are delusional," I won't believe him. Somebody knew what was up. Somebody knew what they were doing. Somebody was making a sequel to Songs About Jane. Knowing how It Won't Be Soon Before Long ended up for Maroon 5 and company, the true sequel to Songs About Jane is a fantastic album by CunninLynguists titled A Piece of Strange. I highly recommend both records to anyone who likes music. They are different, but in some ways the exact same. And I love them both.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Review: Timbaland - Shock Value

Shock Value as an album hits both the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Some songs on the album are great and some are poor; It’s a mix. It starts off with some good cuts. Songs like Oh Timbaland, while not lyrically great, have very lush instrumentals. One of Timbaland’s defining qualities is the ability to make a unique sound for each song while still sounding consistent. When this album is good, it does just that. Some of the best beats on this album, like Give It To Me, Kill Yourself, and Time all sound very clean and often are earworms of mine. Often these tracks are good enough to listen to without the vocals, especially Kill Yourself. On the other hand, there are some songs that just sound bad with no excuses. Bounce is the worst song on the album with a poor dirty instrumental and laughable lyrics. Some songs have a mix of good and bad. Songs like Release and One And Only start off with a promising opening, but then they go sour in one way or another. With the case of Release, it’s the repetitiveness, and with One And Only, it’s Fall Out Boy’s hook. The instrumental for Miscommunication sounds good for maybe 2 seconds, and Scream just sounds like a weaker version of what Fire by Kids See Ghosts was trying to do. But I can’t help but praise the effort put into many of these beats. There is a good amount of material on here that I would consider good. It’s just a shame the quality is so inconsistent.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Great Scott! Speedin' Bullet

Today is April 4th. If it weren't for the coronavirus pandemic, today would have been the last day of speech. In honor of that, I will now publish the speech I wrote for this year's season- Great Scott! Speedin' Bullet, also known as Speedin' Bullet 2 Nothin. This speech is an apology of the widely panned 2015 Kid Cudi album, Speedin' Bullet 2 Heaven. It's not perfect, but I like it well enough. 
Not the actual album cover. Created by u/LivingComfy on Reddit.
For many, the Kid Cudi story is simple. The platinum-selling hip hop singer Kid Cudi, who blew up in popularity in the late 2000s with hits including Day N’ Nite and Erase Me, made two of the greatest albums ever, Man On The Moon I and II. Then Cudi decided to take a little break in 2011, and he returned the following year with some of the worst music imaginable. Then after another hiatus in 2017, he made one of the greatest albums ever, Kids See Ghosts. In reality, it’s not that simple. What the average listener forgets is that many albums of different, unique sounds were released in that middle period from 2012 to 2016- WZRD, Indicud, Satellite Flight, Passion, Pain & Demon Slayin’.... Of all of these albums, the 2015 release of Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is by far the most controversial of these albums. However, I am going to argue that it’s also the most important of the bunch as well. It’s the most important album for Kid Cudi, it’s the most important album for those that relate to its ideas, and it’s the most important album for the music landscape of the years to come.

So what is Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven? For those unaware, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven was released in place of the highly anticipated Man On The Moon III, which, as Cudi stated in an interview at Billboard Winterfest earlier that year, had supposedly been in the works for a long time. This album is very different from previous Kid Cudi albums. Where most previous releases feature very atmospheric and melodic hip hop production underneath soft, sweet vocals, Cudi scraps everything and builds nearly every track with heavy guitars and near-shouting of the lyrics. Every single aspect feels much more blunt and heavy. The album is over 91 minutes in length too. Even if you aren’t that familiar with Kid Cudi, it’s not hard to see how Speedin Bullet is truly the black sheep of the collection because of this new sound.

The album was met with near universal backlash from critics and even from Kid Cudi fans. It wasn’t just because it wasn’t Man On The Moon III, either. Instead of releasing another great hip hop album, Kid Cudi had sold his fans a messy grunge rock project. Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is loud, messy, and full of crazy ideas that don’t sit right with the average listener. The guitars are obnoxious, sometimes seeming as if they were done in a single take. Cudi’s wailing voice is nearly intolerable on most songs. The drowning vocal effects on many tracks only make for a more difficult listen, since Cudi sounds like he’s in the other room while singing. The lyrics themselves are at times either much too personal or just regrettable, both of which are the case for Adventures. And why are Beavis and Butthead here between the songs? These skits are dumb, and they go on for too long. All that can be said before getting into the messy demos found on the second disc. Most people can’t even stomach this album in one session. My English teacher went so far as to comment that it made her want to kill herself. The popular music website Pitchfork gave Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven a 4/10, and Anthony Fantano of Theneedledrop gave it a rare score of 0/10. It’s something you truly have to hear yourself to understand just how flawed it is.

So if Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is so terrible, why is it so important to the Kid Cudi discography? What is there that I see in this album that nobody else sees? Who even cares about Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven?

Well, first thing’s first. Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is highly important to Kid Cudi. This project is a very personal, inward looking album. The lyrics often touch on ideas of suicide, loneliness, and misery. Cudi screams on the song CONFUSED!, “I might go losing it and drive off a cliff, fall into the void.” Kid Cudi was very unstable in 2015. Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven must be very important to Kid Cudi if he’s willing to cancel Man On The Moon III, the conclusion of a popular trilogy, in favor of it. On Twitter on November 7th of last year, Kid Cudi said that Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is his darkest album yet, even more so than Man On The Moon II, with its utter despair. Cudi howls many times on Fade 2 Red, “We are born in the dark, born into pain.” All the while you can hear the exhaustion in his voice. Kid Cudi is not only miserable, but he’s just tired from all he has to do. The sense of hopelessness he feels is very well-conveyed. 

Kid Cudi needed to make Speedin Bullet 2 Heaven. Often, one’s emotions are so powerful that he can’t focus on anything until he overcomes them. This album was his attempt to do just that. On November 7th, 2019, Kid Cudi tweeted that releasing such a project was the only way he could express how he was feeling at the time. Creating Speedin Bullet 2 Heaven was his escape. This was his self-expression. This was therapy for Kid Cudi in a time when he needed it most. According to a CNN article, Kid Cudi had checked himself into rehab for his depression and suicidal urges the following year, in 2016. While Cudi may be in a better state of mind today, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is a remnant of a darker time in his life. Kid Cudi isn’t ashamed of the album to this day. He has gone on record multiple times defending its sound and its ideas. So while the album itself is far from good, I can still respect it for what it has done for Cudi.

Kid Cudi sees Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven as a heavily respectable musical work in its own right. But so what if Kid Cudi needed to make bad music? Couldn’t he just keep it to himself? I would argue that it wouldn't be a good idea. Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is very important to those that find comfort in its sound. Like I said earlier, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is a very sad album. The 26 songs on this project are full of different emotions that people with depression or anxiety can relate to personally. That seems to be the trend among Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven apologists. Lonely people can relate to the Adventures lyric, “Inadequate, feeling so unwanted; make him want to disappear.” Those in failing relationships might feel close to the Wedding Tux lyrics, “She push & pulls, uses me for what she needs.” These lines from the album’s tenth track, “Everywhere he goes, loser little kid…. Look at you, dumb punk loser kid” might strike a nerve with those who feel like outcasts from our society and make them feel as if they aren’t alone. If you’re tired of existing, the song Embers has the lyric, “Drown in a sea of emotions taken over by fatigue.” If you just feel hopeless, the same song just may get you with its message of mortality when Kid Cudi croons, “I really don’t want to leave, I realize there’s no answers to rid me of this cancer. Still, I really gotta leave.” 

That’s just some of the different emotions on display throughout Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. These lyrics may be clumsy to you or me.. However, those that relate really found a hidden gem. From start to finish, there’s a lot of material for those that feel they aren’t valued. My point is, the biggest fans of Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven are miserable. This album was with them during a low point in their life, and now those people feel a strong affinity for it. On Metacritic’s user review board for the album, user Maul_Waul points out, “The singing that Cudi does really sends a message of pain and fear, which is what I believe Cudi wanted to show. It's easy to tell that at the moment he's at a low point and doesn't know where to go.” 

Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is truly something of its own. For many fans and apologists, there’s nothing out there as relatable and comforting as the sound it brings. These people need this album. Everyone deserves something they can truly feel in touch with. For a select few, this is it. This album is very important to those who can find the diamonds in the rough of the project and see it as a one of a kind gem.

Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is important to Kid Cudi. Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is important to those who need its message. But even if you’ve never heard of Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven before today, this album still affects you. Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is important to the musical landscape of the future. See, this album was part of a large movement in the musical landscape back when it was released. The whole world was seemingly sick of the happy songs that dominated in 2015- Trap Queen, Cheerleader, and Hotline Bling were all on the tail end of a dying sound. That year, the new sound was somber and slow. This movement was seemingly headed by The Weeknd, who grew rapidly in popularity that year with hits such as Worth It and The Hills. But it’s hard to deny that Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven certainly helped with the push forward. While it didn’t initially sell very well, the album’s infamy helped it find a fanbase which propelled it further into the music scene. Endorsements from industry giants like Andre 3000 and Erykah Badu certainly helped as well. Just a few years later, XXXTentacion surged in popularity with his sad songs of loneliness, making it big in the mainstream with his albums 17 and ?. While XXXTentacion’s music is certainly different from Kid Cudi’s music, X’s music is seemingly inspired by Kid Cudi with its lonely wailing vocals and its clearly unpolished guitars. Juice WRLD strays further from this sound, but still featured ideas of it on projects such as Goodbye & Good Riddance. All while this is happening, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is slowly but surely gaining fans. In recent years, reception to this album has been slowly growing more and more positive in the mainstream. Even with its harsh initial reaction, Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven has inspired some of the biggest and most important musicians of recent years.

Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven may have just been a big therapy session for Kid Cudi to sing about how he’s feeling. Maybe it was made for a niche crowd of people that felt there was no other music they could truly appreciate. Maybe it was made for the sad kids that would end up liking XXXTentacion, Juice WRLD, and others later on. But regardless of why it was created, it shouldn’t be hard to see now that Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven is one of the most infamous, influential, and important albums ever made. In May 2016, Kid Cudi tweeted that 5 years after release, people will finally understand the impact of Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven. Now that time has passed, we can see how correct he really was. Whether you’ll find it good or bad, it truly is something to experience for yourself.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

E3 Wishes and Predictions 2020

Wishes- for it to not be cancelled

Predictions- it's cancelled

RIP Electronic Entertainment Expo 1995-2019 Adam Koralik is fuming

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Wii U > Switch

The Wii U is a highly underrated machine, as I've stated many times in the past. The Nintendo Switch is also a great machine. I have both and I love both very much. However, I think I like the Wii U more. There are a few reasons for this, and I'll go over that here.

The Controller

The Wii U and the Nintendo Switch have comparable control schemes in 3 ways- with a big screen in front of you via the GamePad or Switch handheld mode, with a regular controller via the Wii U Pro Controller or Switch Pro Controller, and with 2 controllers via Wii Remote & Nunchuk or the Joycons. Each control scheme has its fans, but I think the Wii U has better control schemes than the Switch.

If you want a big old screen in front of you, Wii U is absolutely the way to go. The GamePad is soft in the hands and bulky enough for you to get a good grip. It doesn't feel heavy, but you can tell it has a lot of features. One thing the Wii U Gamepad does right that the Switch handheld does wrong is, the charging port is on the top of the GamePad. I understand why the Switch has the port on the bottom. However, playing while charging is much easier with the GamePad. The GamePad has a stylus as well. The Switch has a capacitive screen as opposed to a resistive screen, but I don't really mind the Wii U screen. It works really well and it seems more durable.

If you want to use a regular controller, this is where it becomes a close call. The Wii U Pro Controller and the Switch Pro Controller are both very good controllers. However, I like the Wii U controller just a bit more. The Wii U Pro Controller is what the Xbox 360 controller should have been- it has a great form factor and it fits into my hands great. The soft, yet responsive buttons are very comfortable, and the triggers feel very comfortable to hold down whereas the 360 triggers get to be painful. The Switch Pro Controller is closer in feel to the Xbox One controller. While the Xbox One controller is much better than the Xbox 360 controller, so is the Wii U Pro Controller. The controller itself is very comfortable, but it's not without its flaws. The triggers are slightly stiffer, but it's barely noticeable. The D pad on the Switch Pro Controller is not as good as it is on the Wii U Pro Controller. Pressing the center buttons on the Wii U Pro Controller is easy because of the position of the thumbsticks. However on the Switch Pro Controller, pressing the Home button becomes more difficult because the right stick is in the way. Overall both are great controllers, but the Wii U Pro Controller feels better to use.

If you're using separate controllers, it's no contest. My Joy Cons have stick drift. Need I say more? The Wii Remote and Nunchuk have the disadvantage of being tethered together by a cable, and the Joy Cons provide much more freedom with their separation. However, there are disadvantages that come along with this. Like I said earlier, the Joy Cons get stick drift eventually. The motion controls aren't as accurate, because Joy Cons use gyroscopes instead of infrared pointers. So while the sensor bar is cut out of the equation, it doesn't work as well. It's not terrible, but in a lot of games the Wii Remote Plus is better.


I  don't play too many online games, but I play a few. I've put a lot of online hours into 2 games- Splatoon on Wii U, and Mario Kart 8 on Switch. I think it's fair to assume that I've put a near equal amount of time into the online gameplay of both of these games. Back in my Mario Kart 8 online days, network errors were common. At least once an hour, I would get booted out of the lobby and I'd have to rejoin. Sometimes it didn't let me join again for some time. In Splatoon on Wii U, this is rarely a problem. I have been disconnected maybe 2 or 3 times in my time playing the game. I've never been disconnected from an online game in Super Smash Bros, and Super Mario Maker has never given me trouble. So what happened to Switch Online that made it so much more faulty? I can't tell for sure what the problem is. I know that there's a problem though. You guys should play Splatoon.


The Switch friend system can maybe be considered robust, but it dropped the ball in 2 very important areas. The Wii U does one of these correctly, and the other one is okay even though it also didn't do a great job.

Nintendo Switch, just like the 3DS, uses friend codes to add buddies to your buddy list. Why? Everyone knows how bogus this is. Why can't everyone just have a username, like every other platform that exists? Why do we need these pointless codes? Remembering "Storm9CP" is much easier than remembering whatever my friend code is.

Nintendo Switch Online voice chat is a mess. To chat online in many first party games, you must have their dedicated cell phone app. The Wii U doesn't need this app! Voice Chat on Wii U and Switch could stand to be improved. The Wii U needs an overhaul in this regard too, I'll admit. Voice chat should be based on the Wii U system, not the game. This is the system that Xbox Live uses. That way everyone can play different games and still be in the party. They could be doing whatever they want on the unit while this happens. As it is, voice chat is based on the game, so all people must be playing the same game. The Switch also needs a voice chat overhaul. They can make it part of their online service, but voice chat should be part of the system. A cell phone app shouldn't be required to run voice chat. My cell phone cannot install any apps, so I can't even use this service that would otherwise be available. Another thing that Switch needs to work on is Bluetooth headset support for docked mode. Sitting really close to the TV is not comfortable, and Bluetooth adapters aren't something I've ever seen at my local big box store. This solution would solve the problem that the smartphone app solves, but in a more graceful and convenient way. 

Nintendo eShop

The Nintendo eShop has been a great place to find some of the lesser known games for the Wii U and Nintendo Switch. However, one of these stands above the others. 

The Wii U eShop is clean, neat, and well-organized. Everything is categorized and easy to find. The homepage is well designed too. The music is dope too. The homepage does a great job of showcasing the wide variety of stuff available on Wii U. Navigation is easy, and discovery is easy.

The Nintendo Switch eShop needs a revamp. Everything is very loosely categorized, and discovery is difficult. It looks very bland and uninteresting. Discovery is very difficult as well. There's just too much stuff on the Switch eShop, and finding games of quality is very hard in the eShop's current state. Things need to be categorized better so it's easier to sort out exactly what you want.

Other online features

Some of this is Nintendo's fault, and some of it isn't. Either way, the Wii U has better online features than the Nintendo Switch. The Wii U has a web browser available from the home screen. It works pretty decently too, even though it may be a bit outdated. Switch just doesn't have a web browser, or at least not one that's reasonably easy to access.

Nintendo Switch has a strange lack of media streaming software available for it. Switch has Crunchyroll, Hulu, and YouTube. This is nothing compared to Wii U. While it no longer has access to Hulu (stupid Disney), Wii U still has access to Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Crunchyroll, Youtube, and even Napster. That's a better selection than Switch, I'd argue.

I think now would be a good time to mention Miiverse and all the other online features that have been discontinued. There's no need to go in depth here because they are not around anymore, but Miiverse was awesome while it was still around. We also have Wii U Chat (a Skype-like calling platform), and Nintendo TVii (a live TV service).

Virtual Console

I'm not going to say the Wii U has the best Virtual Console out of all Virtual Consoles. That honor would go to the Wii. I can say Wii U Virtual Console is better than Virtual Console on Nintendo Switch, though.

For some, the Switch Virtual Console is quite a good deal. Pay 20 dollars a year for a few NES and SNES games. This includes save states and online play for multiplayer. I don't like this deal though. As users have pointed out, online multiplayer for these games doesn't work well. Why is it limited to NES and SNES games? Wii U had Virtual Console games for NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Wii, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and TurboGrafx-16. No Master System, Genesis, or GameCube for some reason, but I think we had an alright selection as is on Wii U. Switch's Virtual Console library is severely lacking. Was anyone asking for Smash Tennis or Eliminator Boat Duel? Is there anyone excited to try out Eliminator Boat Duel? Wii U had save states as well, so save states are nothing special. The part I dislike most about Switch Virtual Console is that it's subscription-based. It may not be a lot of money for a subscription, but I'd rather just pay 10 bucks for Mario 64 and be done with it just like on Wii or Wii U. I hate having to pay for the same thing multiple times when I could just buy it once forever. The fact that these are only available through Switch Online is disgusting and ridiculous.

The User Interface

To some people, what the User Interface is like isn't important. As long as the games are good, then the games are good. But I like me a good UI. UI happens to be one of the biggest problems with the Xbox 360- the home page is filled with ads and garbage that could easily be removed. The Wii U has a great user interface, as I've discussed previously on this site. The Switch does not have a good user interface.

The Wii U's interface looks great. Once the home menu shows up and you're signed in, everything is neat and detailed. 20 boxes line the screen for each application. 3D models of the controller buttons float in the background. On the TV the Miiverse plaza is displayed. Everything is at a high resolution and it looks fantastic. When pressing the home button during a game, the same thing can be said- everything looks great. Everything you need during the game is organized along the bottom of the screen. The digital manual is readily available. Controller settings are easy to access.

The Nintendo Switch user interface looks awful. I don't understand our modern culture's shift towards minimalism. This has ruined many great things- the Patreon logo, the Google logo, the Cartoon Network logo.... a lot of logos. It's all so terribly boring. The Nintendo Switch is the epitome of bland. Everything is so squared off. Nothing has any gradients or borders; everything is a flat color. The Home menu, friends list, eShop, and settings all need a revamp, or at least some new themes. I understand that the menu was designed to work quickly, but couldn't it work quickly and look nice at the same time? All that can be said before bringing up how clunky it is. Only 12 games appear on the menu at a time, and you can only see 4 of them on screen before scrolling. Why can't I be shown 12 or 16 at a time? The 3DS could do it, so why can't the Switch?


I'm not going to argue that the games on either system are better or worse. That's not my call to make, because I'm not super well versed in Switch games since 2018. Based on just the consoles themselves, I stand by my opinion that the Wii U is much more fun and interesting than the Nintendo Switch. If you wanna fight, reach out to @Icystorm9 on Twitter. Goodnight.