Peep This Joint: Saba – Care for Me Album Review

Filled with an overwhelming sense of grief and emptiness, Chicago rapper Saba unveils the candid experience of losing a best friend over a senseless murder in his sophomore effort, Care for Me.

The album released last year on April 5 and highlights Saba’s emotions over the death of his cousin, Walter Long Jr.

In a time where mental health awareness is higher than it’s ever been historically, Care for Me provides a refreshing and therapeutic musical experience for those who’ve been through similar grief. 

The project begins with Saba singing, “I’m so alone” on the two-part track “BUSY/SIRENS” featuring R&B singer, theMIND. Lamenting over the loneliness of losing his right-hand man, the rawness of the track is palpable as Saba raps, “Jesus got killed for our sins, Walter got killed for a coat / I’m tryna cope, but it’s a part of me gone / In this packed room I’m alone.” 

Saba’s personal grief intimately captures and processes the darker side of mental health issues that individuals worldwide experience and can relate to. Tracks such as “BROKEN GIRLS,” “GREY,” and “LOGOUT” featuring Chance the Rapper explore notions of heartbreak, loneliness, and insecurities over social media.

Tracklist cover from: Genius

Despite these overarching somber themes, Saba skillfully structures and balances the tracklist with moments of light-hearted nostalgia. One track that exemplifies this is the track “SMILE” which recounts Saba’s childhood experience living with his grandmother. In it he expresses his desire to escape the confines of Chicago that remind him of his gloomier days, “All that I am is my family these days / Moment of madness I can’t seem to evade,” and “Our parents’ parents are from the South / And if I make a million dollars / I’ll vacation in the South.” Songs such as these help even out bleak nature of the album.

The most compelling record overall though is the penultimate track, “PROM/KING” which runs a lengthy seven-and-a-half minutes long. Despite the long runtime, the album reaches a climax with Saba at his most intimate and rawest form as he goes from recounting the details of his prom night where he first met Walter to describing his last interactions with him before receiving the news of his untimely death. 

Saba opens up the first part of the song harkening back to his earlier days as a young high school student rapping, “This remind me of before we had insomnia / Sleepin’ peacefully, never needed a pile of drugs.” Over piano keys and minimal drums, Saba flows effortlessly as he gives listeners the rundown on what happened during prom night. The production then switches as Saba turns the subject matter towards reminiscing on Walter’s final days. In the final bars of the song, Saba paints a vivid picture that reveals how he found out the news of his cousin’s death:

“Ten minutes into the session, I got a call from a number/ 

That I don’t got saved, but I answer anyways/

She says, ‘Hello, Malik, have you or Squeak/ 

Talked to my son today? He was just on the train’/

We got in the car but we didn’t know where to drive to

Fuck it, wherever you are my n–a, we’ll come and find you…”

As Saba spits the final verse, the drums on the beat speed up in an anxiety-inducing pace to convey the same anxiety Saba felt in his chest as Walter’s mother reveals to him that Walter is missing. 

Picture taken from: Genius

Overall, I consider this album to be a perfect 10/10 in my books. Through this album, Saba was able to put words into the same feelings and emotions of depression and anxiety that I’ve been struggling to deal with. In doing so, the Chicago rapper was able to produce a body of work that resonates not only with me, but countless other individuals going through times of grief and depression. If you’ve asked what my top rap album of 2018 was, Care for Me takes the spot.

For the love of hip-hop, please peep this joint if you haven’t already!

Rating: 10/10

Written by: Johann Oribello

Last Dinosaurs: Yumeno Garden Album Review

On October 5, 2018, Last Dinosaurs released their new album, Yumeno Garden, which is a ten-track record with a completely revamped, refreshing sound. Each track is different yet embodies the mix of pop-synth and indie rock that Last Dinosaurs is known for.

The band has only recently started touring around the United States among other countries but has made big hits all over the globe — showcasing their talent at many major cities. They recently played in Chile, Brazil, Peru, and Mexico and are now on a tour around the United States. The band made an appearance in San Diego last month at SOMA, on October 29. This will be their first time in San Diego!

Yumeno Garden was the Brisbane trio’s first release since Wellness, their second album, in 2015. It was anticipated by fans all around the world and definitely has a different but great shift in sound. This new record is a lot more punchy, in the face, and clean but in the best way. The band definitely mixed things up when putting these new songs together. There is an experimental feel to it, yet still maintains the backbone of sound that Last Dinosaurs established in their first two albums.

After their first two, successful albums, In A Million Years and Wellness, the band established themselves in the music community, especially in the indie rock and pop areas. Old tracks such as “Zoom” and “Honolulu” are well known among indie listeners. The last two albums were guitar and synth riff-centered, their new music sounds very full and more lively. The drums, bass, and overall production is boosted and shows a growth within the bands sound and a newly developed sense of maturity. It is a lot less indie rock and a bit more psychedelic and progressive.

Last Dinosaurs via Instagram
Photograph by Nicole J. Stephens

I would best describe the genres of this album as a mix of indie rock, disco and a bit of psychedelic pop. There is definitely more synth and a grittier sound with more distortion on the guitar and vocals than before. Each track has its own unique progression and solo with great lyrical hooks and meanings. Yumeno Garden is a positive and catchy album and is one I never get sick of listening to it.

The album starts out more upbeat, with “Eleven,” “Dominoes,” “Bass God,” and “Sense.” These songs evoke an indie rock tribute, being primarily catchy electric guitar and synth riffs with a faster-paced rhythm section behind them. The second half of the LP sounds more 80s inspired, with slower yet groovy tempos and feelings.

One of my favorite tracks has to be “Shallow Boy.” The song is built up to the choruses, which are distinctive and melancholy with different synth leads overpowering each other and various stops. The verses in this song sound like they are riding a wave accompanied by funky guitar strums and hard hi-hat and snare hits.

The band has recently released a new single, “FMU,” an upbeat funk indie-pop song that has great build-ups made by catchy guitar chord progressions and descending melody line. The bridge slows down and gradually brings the song back into place through great drum fills and bass lines that move so smoothly they’re hardly audible. We can see from this new single that Last Dinosaurs is definitely headed in a new direction, adopting changes around their previously rooted sound. I, for one, am excited to see where they are headed next.

Written by: Jesse Miller

Choker at the House of Blues

On October 28th, 2019, up and coming artist, Choker graced the stage at the House of Blues San Diego to deliver an intimate and beautiful performance. His mix of R&B, Indie, and Rap created a mix of emotions and ultimately left his crowd wanting more.

After hearing about Choker from one of my close friends we decided to go see him live at the House of Blues. Fast forward to Monday night, we made it to the House of Blues and waited in line to enter the Voodoo Room. I had never been to the House of Blues before, so it was interesting to have the Voodoo Room as my first experience. It was a very intimate room composed of paintings that, I am assuming, have something to do with voodoo culture. I noticed that Choker pulls a variety of fans, individuals mainly interested in R&B and Rap and a few Indie fans.

To my surprise, the opener for Choker was bLAck pARty. He is also an up and coming artist, that fuses R&B, electronic sounds, and Rap. He started off with “No Complaints” which created a mellow vibe where you could find yourself swaying. Next, he performed “Bloom” which picked up the energy and got the crowd moving and grooving. Throughout his performance, he mentioned how grateful he was to be on stage. Something I admired about bLAck pARty was his passion for each song. His passion was noticeable and made the crowd appreciate every word that was sung to them. After his performance, he hung out in the crowd as we waited for Choker.

Around 8:40 PM, Choker arrived on stage and immediately started his set with “Brown Steel” from his debut album, PEAK. After performing “Brown Steel” he shook everyone’s hands that stood in the front of the crowd. He captivated his crowd and manifested for all of his fans to be present at the moment.

Choker continued his set with a few slower songs from his PEAK and Honeybloom album. He decided to pick up the energy with “Suzuki Peaches” and got the crowd jumping with him. Keeping the energy up he delivers two more songs “Gradient” and “Petrol Bliss,” which successfully kept the crowd singing and moving.

After leveling the energy with slower songs like “El Dorado,” “Juno,” and “Lucky” he decided to go into the middle of the crowd to perform “Starfruit NYC.” When the beat dropped everyone started jumping and screaming, “S.D IS AN AIRPORT WITH NO WALLS.” After jumping and getting push around, he returned to the stage to wrap up his performance. As the show neared its end, Choker thanked everyone for coming out and said to meet him at the merchandise table.

We asked Choker if he had any advice to people that want to farther their music career and he said,

“Remember to be passionate and genuine about the music you make, the moment you lose your passion others will notice.”

Choker is as honest and genuine as his music. Check out his music here! If you are going to Camp Flog Gnaw this year he will be performing on Saturday at 3:35pm!

Written by: Jasmine Alexander
Photos by: Jasmine Alexander

They Did What? – Miley Cyrus

They Did What? is a series dedicated to what the media does not broadcast about your favorite musical artists. I present to you, Miley Cyrus.

“Everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.” If you do not know where this quote is from then you have come to the right place. Who could have possibly said this? Well, it is Hannah Montana, a childhood icon from this generation, who happened to be played by Miley Cyrus herself.

If you do not know, Miley Cyrus was a childhood star who starred in her own Disney show, Hannah Montana, that started in 2006 when she was only 13 years old. The show revolved around a girl who was living a double life of being a famous pop star and living a regular life of going to school. This quote is one of her songs from the show called “Nobody’s Perfect.” If you listen to this song, the lyrics are actually a great lesson to teach everyone. Hannah Montana was obviously directed towards young children but this is a lesson that I think many people need to learn today. This song to me mirrors the life Miley has lived, yet it came out years ago before her career flourished. One lesson I took is that you learn from everything in life, even your mistakes and you can see that with Miley’s life.

Nobody’s Perfect.

Many people know Miley from her Disney days, her rebellious days, or know her for being in a long term relationship with Liam Hemsworth that recently ended. These are the things the media focuses on but there is more to Miley than what people may think. 

You may remember a time where Miley was twerking on stage at the 2013 VMAs and making lots of music about partying. People change and go through phases. Miley says, in “Carpool Karaoke” with James Corden, that who she was in the 2013 VMAs made her who she is today. It made her realize that if that many people will talk about her then she needs to bring good to the world so people will talk about that. Miley said that the VMA experience led her to become an activist. She does not think she would have even started her own foundation, which I will explain later on. She has learned to embrace her past because it is a part of her instead of running from her past like she was trying to do with this performance.

“I think when you are a teenager, young adult, you’re trying so hard to be cool or to prove something or to be something away from who you’ve been as a kid. And I guess as I’ve gotten older — even though it’s not who I am now, I’m not afraid of who I used to be.”

Miley Cyrus

The following year after her infamous 2013 VMA performance, Miley did something that touched the hearts of many. Instead of taking in all the praise and basking in the spotlight, Miley allowed for a formerly homeless man to accept the award she won for her song “Wrecking Ball.” The speech put into perspective how much money the music industry makes, yet there are so many homeless people right down the street, especially youth and young adults. Miley was making a statement to the world that we need to help those around us. Miley not accepting her own award shows her unselfish character and how big her heart is for others.

Being a Disney star comes with certain expectations and if someone acts “out of the ordinary” it will receive the attention that would not have happened if they weren’t a Disney star. In order to prove yourself, you have to step out of that box. Being Hannah Montana was the only way people knew Miley. Being this clean-cut teenage girl next door character. The minute she broke that stereotype, the world blew up. How can one expect someone to be the same their whole life or career? People change, people grow up just some people do it differently. Miley had to break the boundary of being just a Disney girl to being a singer, an artist who can make it in the industry.

There is more to Miley than the Disney star.

Miley Cyrus has a giving heart and truly cares for others. If you are not aware there were deadly fires in California this past year that took Miley’s house and many others Miley donated $500,000 to help other wildfire victims and asked for her fans and friends to donate to the Red Cross to help others. Miley could have put all her money into building or buying a new multi-million dollar home for herself. Instead, she was more concerned with helping others first. She knew that she had the money to buy a new home but some of these other people lost everything they had and may not be able to live in a real home for a while.

In 2014 she started her own foundation named Happy Hippie that is dedicated to helping the homeless youth of our country. She is dedicated to helping the homeless because her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, was homeless before he had his big break in the music. According to the website, The Happy Hippie foundation has a mission to rally young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBTQ youth and other vulnerable populations.

“It is essential to our lives to do good for others! The only way we can truly be happy is if we are making others happy! That is this Hippie’s goal!”

Miley Cyrus

According to Happy Hippie, “1.6 million youth are homeless each year.” Furthermore, “40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, and family rejection is the most common reason LGBTQ youth experience homelessness.” To make matters worse, about one in every three homeless LBGTQ face rejection at homeless shelters solely because of their orientation. Miley wants acceptance in this world. Being apart of the LGBTQ community herself this is an important issue that Miley wants to fight. Miley has been criticized for being a part of the LGBTQ community. She likes to think of herself as pansexual, which means you are simply attracted to people no matter who they identify as. You like someone because of who they are not their identity.

People will hate you for being different but what you make of that hate is up to you. Miley has pushed past that and embraces who she is. As human beings, we like to put things in a box and give order to everything because that is how we make sense of our world. It is hard for us to understand that there needs to be no labels. Labels come with implications that you may not fit into. There are people in the world who are not just one thing but multiple. In reality, we may all fit into multiple boxes. The acceptance in this world of the LGBTQ world is something Miley is trying to normalize.

Miley explains that her perspective on life has grown since her young adult days. In her cover interview for Elle magazine this year Miley said,

“After the fire, I thought about how we helped more than 120 families who lost their homes. We’ve served nearly 1,300 homeless kids in Hollywood every year since 2014. And last year, we helped 270 kids find housing and provided 32,000 meals. That won’t burn down. That helped me become much more disconnected from things.”

Not only has Miley helped the world around her but she never forgets to advocate to be true to who you are.

Miley has made it a point that she does not care what people think of her but when someone comes after her character she will speak out. As you can see on her Instagram post below. People accused Miley of cheating on Liam when they do not even know what is going on with their lives or know anything of that matter. When there has been a couple like Liam Hemsworth and Miley Cyrus that America has fallen in love with for almost a decade, it is hard for people to wrap their heads around on why anything like this would happen. Especially because not long after they got married is when they decided to split. People are so invested in the lives of celebrities but not in who they are as a person. How can you accuse someone of something if you don’t know who they are? The media is what prompted Miley to even have to write something to the world in the first place. There were false rumors being broadcasted that needed to be set straight.

Click here for Miley’s Instagram

While being in the spotlight Miley turns her hate into positive messages which I think is hard to do. Miley knows people have criticized her for her actions but she doesn’t really care much about herself. She uses that negativity to preach to the world that people need to put this negative energy into something good instead of criticizing her for things that don’t matter. In an NPR interview, Miley says,

“I’m doing what I need to do. I’m working in my community. I’m changing the way people view sexuality. I’m working with suicide prevention programs. I’m feeding people that don’t have food to eat. I’m doing my part as a human. You better go do your part if you’re gonna even have one little opinion about what I do. You better be doing some great things for your community.”

People only talk negatively about Miley because she is different than your mainstream artist. She is not afraid to show her true self to the world.  You have to remember that Miley grew up in the spotlight. Imagine all of the pressure that puts on a little girl. As you grow you are going to make mistakes but that is part of growing up. The whole world knew what Miley was doing and that is what is different from you to her.

Everyone needs to learn something from Miley. Being yourself is the most important thing you can do. If people put hate on you it’s only because they have insecurities about themselves. Do not let people tell you who you are or what to do. That is your own decision. If people are more accepting of others and their differences, our world could truly become a better place. Change is a good thing in which no one can be the same person their whole lives. Remember that “everybody makes mistakes, everybody has those days.” No one is perfect and what you do with what you learn in life is up to you. If you spread positivity to the world as Miley has, you can help change this world for the better.

Written By: Adrienne Murdock