Vince Staples & Buddy at The Observatory North Park

Born in Compton & raised in Long Beach, Vince Staples has risen to be one of the leading artists of west coast, new wave rap.

On April 2nd, he performed at The Observatory North Park along with up-and-coming artist Buddy (famous for tracks such as “Black” ft. A$AP Ferg, “Trouble on Central”, and “Trippin’” ft. Khalid). Similar to Vince Staples, Buddy was born in Compton and went to highschool in Long Beach, CA. Throughout their “Smile You’re on Camera” Tour, they have consistently sold out shows (including the one in San Diego), and made good money selling stylish merchandise at venues.

The Observatory North Park served as a fantastic host site for the event.

Considering that the venue is one of the best in SD, it helped that their was a large enough space to hold a huge rap-loving crowd. For those over 21, the venue includes a bar that serves drinks throughout the night. Additionally, security consistently ensured their was no underage or irresponsible drinking

As the crowd slowly poured in more and more, spaces were condensed and mosh pits were formed. Vince Staples’ entrance was as grand as his latest album and immediately made an impact, causing hype throughout the crowd. His presence fueled the energy of the fans and consistently maintained an open environment for those screaming the lyrics they had memorized

As a Vince Staples fan who has been listening for years…

I was ecstatic each time an old song was performed. Vince Staples recognizes crowd favorites and catered to those long-time fans. In addition to his new album, he performed songs from every single one of his albums and even some long forgotten mixtapes.

The visuals and lighting used for this show were extremely well done and added to the grandeur of things. Smoke was used to create an ambience that filled the stage as the lights created a silhouette of Vince Staples. The live video playing in the background features low-res footage shot with slow shutter to make it seem as if Vince Staples were moving in slow motion, but in real time. All in all, it was very impressive.

When concluding his show, he walked off and let his friend take the stage in a special way. They played a video of Mac Miller performing an NPR Tiny Desk concert; to add to the mood/sentiment, it was shown in widescreen format as well as black-and-white. Seeing as Mac Miller has passed and I never got to see him live, I truly appreciated the deed; it was as if Vince Staples was touring with him and it felt so authentic as if he was really there; they used audio from a live performance where he thanked fans for coming and was speaking from the heart. It was heartwarming to see that 90% of the audience stayed for the entirety of Mac Miller’s “performance” as it was just a video that was not advertised/warned.

What San Diego received was an overall great show with great stage presence from both performers and a hyped crowd that fell more in love with the artists/music. As they continue their tour, we in San Diego can only appreciate the good time that they carried in with their arrival that night.

Written/Photographed by: Eduardo Orozco

Taylor Swift’s Reputation is Not Getting Any Better

On March 11, Taylor Swift released her new music video of her song Delicate. As thrilled as people were to see it, the video was nothing new that we haven’t seen already. We’ve seen a corky girl dancing, we’ve heard people complain about being famous, and we’ve heard songs about boys. I was hoping her entire new album be about her, but I guess I was wrong.

The song itself wasn’t bad, but the elements in the video were. Taylor Swift is popular for her corky dance, but in this video she looked like a poor imitation of Maddie Ziegler, the popular dancer featured in Sia’s videos. Her dancing was made a mock off such that people made her into a meme. Some overriding Swift’s song with Spanish singer’s, Melody, song El Baile del Gorila, where it appears that she is dancing to that song instead of Delicate. This is not the only comparison that Swift’s video is being compared to. There is also a controversy relating to the similarities that Delicate has with Kenzo’s perfume ad, calling Swift’s video a “copy with worst dancing.”

If there is anything more annoying than her dancing is the autotune she has started to incorporate into her new songs. This robotic special effect is making her no good, and she should stay away from it. The girl sings good, and she should not try to fix what is not brocken. She along with her team need to understand that her fans would rather hear her voice than a machine. I had to watch the video with captions in order to understand what she was singing. The captions helped, and the more I listened to it the more I enjoyed it, but if I can’t understand the song without captions then there is no point in listening to it. The special effects used on her singing does not work for me.

Having a good beat, and a catchy phrase makes a good song, but not a good music video. And let’s leave the crazy emotional dancing to Ziegler.

A Review of RAY BLK’s “Durt” Mini-Album

There’s thousands of lyrically straightforward pop and R&B songs saturating the roster of today’s new music, but it’s not exactly easy finding candid pop and R&B with good lyrics. Abstractions are frequently the direction that skilled songwriters prefer to lean into – they’re more interpretive, and therefore less susceptible to criticism – but at times, metaphors and symbolic imagery aren’t of any immediate use. At times, what we’re looking for are answers or content that resonates with us, plain and simple. But as history’s most horribly-written music has demonstrated, not all songwriters can balance poetry with straightforwardness, and it’s that lyrical disparity that makes us cringe and say “even I can do better,” as we’re driving alone in our cars, for once concentrating on a song’s words.

Thankfully, we have artists like RAY BLK, whose mini-album (aka a longish EP) Durt is a 25-minute representation of creative candor. Hailing from south London, RAY BLK got an early start on songwriting – she began at 14 – and today, the 23-year-old R&B singer is offering us what could be labeled as raw, artful ‘big sister’ storytelling, comparable to other young Londoners on the rise, like the soulful Jorija Smith. Those familiar with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill will notice the thematic similarities between Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and Ray’s short, yet clever “Hunny,” while the album’s title track, “Durt” is a lyrically grimmer, sexier version of Kandi’s “Don’t Think I’m Not.” In collaborations with UK-based producer SG Lewis and English rapper Wretch 32, Ray explores ended relationships from positions of both melancholy and shamelessness, making for a diverse listening experience.

Durt was released on October 28, also available for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. RAY BLK can be found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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The Sounds of State-Michael Maverick

Thursday night before Spring Break I traveled to the KCR studio to meet up with Michael Maverick. It was a couple minutes before 10 o’ clock, which is when he had his show. We said hi and chatted for a short while and once it was time for him to hit the air, Michael let his mix fly and we were able to sit down and have our interview.

Cameron Satterlee: Alright so I’m sitting down in the KCR studio with Michael Maverick, thanks for sitting down with me, man.

Michael Maverick: No problem.

CS: Alright so, easy question for you here, tell us your radio slot.

MM: Ten to eleven p.m. every Thursday.

CS: Every Thursday, and you said earlier Thursday nights are Thirsty Thursday?

MM: Thirsty Thursday mix, that’s right.

CS: Alright, and so what do you play for the Thirsty Thursday mix?

MM: I do Top 40, EDM, try to mix it up a little bit. Every now and then, throw in a little of that Throwback Thursday. Just mix it up, keep it fresh.

CS: And so how long have you been with KCR?

MM: I was here last semester and now this semester so I’m going for one year, two semesters.

CS: Alright cool. Well welcome, it’s always great to have I guess sort of new DJ’s. You’ve had a semester under your belt so you know all the trick so far.

MM: Yeah.

CS: So I guess, it’s sort of popular music with the top 40, but with the throwbacks and the electronic music, EDM, you got this whole kinda scene behind that. What makes you want to play music from this group of genres?

MM: Sort of mixing it up?

CS: Yeah.

MM: It’s just this evolution of music. Electronic music is really going into the mainstream. Not in a bad way, but in a way that it’s a mixture. A lot of hip hop is picking up EDM and a lot of EDM is picking up hip hop and it’s kinda fusing. So it’s only right to pay due diligence and say “okay they comes with this background and hip hop comes with this background” so when you play it you know what’s going on.

CS: Oh yeah totally. I think you hit the nail right on the head there. EDM and hip hop are fusing to form this really popular music right now. But with your throwbacks, what do you play for that? Any other genres?

MM: I can go from R&B to super old 80’s roller blading songs like that kinda old. I don’t think I would go beyond the 80’s. Yeah 80’s or 90’s.

CS: Yeah so you’re basically sticking to the roots of EDM and hip hop.

MM: Yeah.

CS: Well that’s a good theme I guess.

MM: Foundation.

CS: Yeah foundation for the current music, you’re right. So this is a more out there question, so I want to know why this music is important to you. Why did you get into it? Why do you think “this is the music I need to play on KCR?”

MM: It’s just how I grew up. My community, every day, friends, family. Hip hop is a culture and it is the culture that embraced me, you know? And EDM is kinda just barely getting into it cause at the club you could only play hip hop so much. You gotta play the EDM too, you gotta dance. So it’s kinda that give and take of both genres. But as for getting into it, it’s just environment. Environment and content, how back in the day it was really about having a voice and rap music did that and allowed people to express themselves when they didn’t have that opportunity to do so and that’s what made it attractive.

CS: Alright cool, well thanks that was a great answer. So as a Top 40, EDM, rap guy, you got your ear to the ground. You know what’s hot right now, I guess more than most of the people I interview. So what is the big hot song right now that you’ve been just really wanting to play lately?

MM: There is this song that I’m pretty sure is gonna be a summer hit. The song is by Eric Bellinger and I think it’s called Focused On You. It’s a sample of an older song and it’s got Two Chainz on it. And I think in the summer if it get a lot of play on the radio it’s gonna be a hit.

CS: It’s gonna be a big club party jam or something?

MM: Yeah yeah.

CS: Alright, so last question. I always like to end on this one, it’s a fun one. So you’ve got your one hour of Thirsty Thursday, how would your perfect show go?

MM: My perfect show. Mix it all up. If I could get a good amount of hip hop, a good amount of EDM, and a good amount of throwback and rap, and fresh songs that just came out and kinda put them out there and make someone say “hey I never heard that song before and I like it” then I did a good job.

CS: A little old, a little new, but all good?

MM: But all good.

CS: Alright, well thanks, man.

MM: Yeah.

And with that I left Michael to do his show. It’s great to hear our DJ’s be so passionate about the music they love, for Michael it goes back to his roots. He’s jamming out past dark on Thirsty Thursday, like a true college radio DJ. Make sure to tune in to his show, 10-11 p.m. only on KCR Radio, the Sound of State.