Some have described the 2023 Super Bowl Halftime show, featuring Rihanna, as one of the best halftime shows to date. In my opinion, the show left much to be desired and was far below the expectations of viewers. It is perhaps one of the worst halftime shows that I’ve witnessed.
The show was exceptionally low in entertainment value. Rihanna performed on a levitating platform that resembled a scene from a video game. She did not move very much due to her pregnancy, and her movements did not match the energy level of her backup dancers. While the movement of the backup dancers was high tempo, Rihanna was more or less static, merely swaying from side to side. This created a huge imbalance in the aesthetics of the overall spectacle.
To provide maximum entertainment, previous Super Bowl halftime show headliners have invited other stars to complement them. However, Rihanna chose to perform solo. Performing solo meant there was no wardrobe, or elaborate stage manipulation. The only “change” was when the levitating platforms rose or fell. Thus, the show was rather flat and lacked attention grabbing activities.
To a wholesome and impressionable person, Rihanna’s show would be considered “not ready for prime time.” It is not surprising then that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received over 100 complaints that some of the dance moves were “patently offensive and completely inappropriate for children.” Some even commented that her inappropriate movements were not suitable for broadcast!
In sum, it is necessary for future Super Bowl organizers to endeavor to recruit performers who will entertain and keep the attention of the entire audience, old and young. Performers, who will not only present a varied and diverse show, but who will respect the sensibilities of the game’s diverse audience. This will keep future shows from being lackluster.
O’ Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson is one of the biggest Rap sensations to grace the music world. Coming from Compton in the inner streets of California with his mother, Doris, and his father, Hosea. Cube had a strong support system that took him away from the drugs and crime of Compton and created a strong foundation that would lead him toward a life of prosperity. In 1988, Cube graduated from the Phoenix Institute of Technology. Around this same time, Ice Cube got more involved in music.
Ice cube had been rapping since he was 16 but strayed away from that life as he drifted from Compton. After finishing college, Cube caught up with some of his old friends from South Central L.A. with the big names of Dr. Dre, Eazy E, and MC Ren to form the gangster rap group N.W.A. N.W.A is seen as a group of pioneers in the new music wave of gangster rap. The group’s heavy sounds and lyrics of the reality of inner-city neighborhoods shook the music industry as the group delivered songs about racial injustice and poverty, particularly in the African American community. The group’s popularity skyrocketed throughout the 1980s as they released hit after hit. Tours, albums, and concerts shook America, with Ice Cube spearheading the groundbreaking group making Ice Cube a pop culture name. This all changed in 1989 when Ice Cube split from N.W.A over a dispute of payment between the group.
Even though Ice Cube’s time with N.W.A had ended, but it didn’t stop the growth of Ice Cube in music. As if he had never skipped a beat, Cube released his first solo album, “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.” This groundbreaking album showed Cube could run the music world by himself. This domination continued for the next four years as from 1991 to 1994, Ice Cube would release an album every year and rock the billboard charts with albums “Death Certificate,” “The Predator,” and “War and Peace.” Ice Cube would grow as a name in the music world as his popularity grew. This empire would continue from the 90s until Ice Cube’s last album was released in 2018. Cube was on top of the music world for over a decade, leading him to grow from rags to riches.
In addition to being a household name in the rap industry, he has been a part of several movies throughout his career. A majority of the movies he is in are comedy and action movies. Some of his films include: Barbershop, Are We There Yet?, Three Kings, Friday, Boyz N The Hood, and more! In 1991, Ice cube made his cinematic debut in the role of Doughboy in the late director John Singleton’s featured film Boyz N The Hood. Ice Cube praised the director after his passing in 2019, saying: “….He loved bringing the black experience to the world.” Following that role, he starred in the legendary comedy movie Friday in 1995. Because of his brilliant and hilarious performance in the film, his acting career seriously took off. Ice Cube then became the face of the Barbershop franchise, which movies were released in 2002, 2004, and 2016, respectively. Ice Cube has appeared alongside actors such as Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 and 22 Jump Street, Charlie Day in Fist Fight, and Kevin Hart in Ride Along 1 and 2 in a swarm of well-enjoyed comedy films. Ice cube also has experience as an executive producer for the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, in which his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., plays the role of his father, Ice Cube.
Thanks to the works of Ice cube and the N.W.A, gangsta rap became mainstream. Ice Cube’s legacy is one to remember, and his joy and charisma are widely recognized and reflected in his work. Ice Cube inspires many with his lyrical genius and abilities, which makes him one of the most influential artists in our world today. In the words of Ice Cube himself, “Don’t worry about being a star; worry about doing good work and all that will come to you.”
On November 5th, 2021, rapper and artist Travis Scott held his 3rd annual Astroworld Festival featuring some of the biggest names in music, such as SZA, Tame Impala, Earth Wind and Fire, Bad Bunny, and many more. In addition to being the festival organizer, Travis Scott was also the main headliner of the festival, who would be performing last to close out the 2-day festival held at NRG Park in Houston, Texas.
As soon as the rapper hit the stage, festival officials say there was a massive push towards the front barricade, causing a giant crushing event. People started to pass out due to the lack of room in the area, which caused patrons to fall over. Patrons kept pushing forward, leaving the victims on the ground to be trampled. Ten innocent concert attendees lost their lives that night due to the incident and other problems during the festival.
Obviously, there had to be a significant change in how venues and festivals operate to ensure patron safety when attending a show or festival. Coming from someone who works in this environment, I think there was a huge change in both the venues and the artists.
I recently attended a concert at Baltimore Soundstage in Baltimore City, and the artist, Steve Lacy, took matters into his own hands. Off the bat, when I walked into the venue, I immediately noticed that the temperature was very cold in the room. I believe it was set up this way to keep everybody cool and ensure nobody would overheat.
Another initiative Lacy took to ensure the safety and well-being of his fans was a dedicated segment in the show to pass out cases of water to all of the fans. The tour had planted cases of water throughout the venue that workers would pass out about midway through the show to make sure everyone was staying hydrated throughout his set. Steve Lacy and the tour did a very good job ensuring everyone was safe and well cared for.
The bottom line is that there needed to be a significant change in concert safety and security from the minute people walk into the venue until the moment people exit the property. Venues worldwide and artists stopping at these venues have taken action to fight more events like the one seen at Astroworld.
Quinn Wells is a Junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.
Abel Tesfaye, better known as The Weeknd, had to abruptly stop the second night of his two sold-out shows at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles due to the performer losing his voice. On September 2nd, 2022, during the first song of his set, Tesfaye sang out the opening song which in the original recorded version goes, “In Vegas, I feel so alone.” Throughout the tour, Abel changes it to the city he is playing in, but fans knew something was very wrong when he sang out, “In Los Angeles, I feel so alone,” as his voice cracked terribly while singing the lyrics.
Tesfaye eventually walked off stage in the middle of his hit song, Can’t Feel My Face. Fans were left in confusion as all the lights came on and the music stopped. Tesfaye eventually walked back on stage to fill fans in on his condition. The Toronto native expressed his frustration to fans by explaining that he could not give them “the show he wanted to give them.” In addition to rescheduling the second show, fans would receive their money back from the canceled show.
The Weeknd and his crew set out on the 20-show journey in mid-July, beginning in Philadelphia and ending in what they thought would be LA. That would change due to communication problems in Toronto where the tour was originally supposed to embark, forcing Tesfaye and his crew to move the Toronto show to a later date. In addition to making up the Toronto show, The Weeknd told fans in his message on stage that he will make up the second night of the LA show, “real soon.” After expressing his grief to the crowd, the superstar walked off stage and left fans in disbelief.
As of now, there is no scheduled make-up date for the second night of the show. The tour is expected to finish with two more shows, one in Toronto, Canada, and the last one in Los Angeles at SoFi Stadium. Fans have received their money back from the show and look forward to seeing the superstar for one final show on the After Hours til Dawn tour.
Quinn Wells is a Junior member of the Multimedia Journalism Class.
Here’s why the wide-spanning genre isn’t in the American mainstream anymore.
Rock is one of the most complex and storied genres in all music, despite beginning less than a century ago. The genre contains countless subgenres with many variations, such as the present contrast between hard and soft rock. Many have associated the genre with lively drums, powerful guitars, and teenage revolutions. However, when facing 2022’s pop radios and streaming services at face value, new rock artists are barely visible. It’s near-impossible for an average adult or teen to name a newly developing rock band. Rock’s dead, at least, within the American mainstream.
Rock began in the 1950s with the rock ‘n’ roll movement: a combination of genres such as jazz and blues with new ideas mixed in. In the 70s, certain rock acts such as Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd explored their guitars to shoot rock entirely into the mainstream. More varied bands appeared in the 80s and 90s, such as the romantic U2 and the grunge-y Nirvana (the latter of which paved the way for a lot of the rock landscape nowadays). These bands had airplay on the most popular radio channels, so this adds to the question: what happened to make rock bands fall off the map?
The 1996 Telecommunications Act was the first significant change to radio regulation in America since the 1930s. The cap on the number of radio stations one group could host was altered from 40 to as many as possible. Now a select group of companies run hundreds of all the radios and manipulate what type of music they play; most of them play the same artificial pop songs on every radio. This influences the rock industry in multiple ways. For example, it is almost impossible to get airplay as a local rock band, and if companies don’t believe that rock is going to give them popularity (which it won’t), they won’t play it. But why won’t rock draw in listeners?
“I think it was the move from analog to digital; the move from album to CD; the move to snippets of manufactured songs created by demographic. [Artists] make what the corporate says will sell.”
-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen
The first, most obvious reason is that there are genres that have overshadowed rock’s draw. Rap began during the 70s, but it has steadily gained attention. The genre utilizes flows and beats to create enjoyable songs that can resonate with listeners. Other examples of newer genres that are beginning to obscure rock include EDM and indie. All of the aforementioned categories utilize electronics over the guitar, and its evident that younger listeners would rather listen to these developing genres. There’s a better chance that an average mount man could name more rappers than rockstars.
Kendrick Lamar, one of the world’s most popular rappers, preforming live in front of hundreds of fans (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
“Anything with autotune in it, you can blow that up. Real musicians play with real instruments. That’s why I love live music, because you can find out who can or can’t play it.”
-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen
The grunge band Aberdeen has recently begun with the goal to mimic the classic sound of the nineties. The young musicians have already released and thoroughly advertised multiple EPs containing intricate production and vocals, so why aren’t they popular yet? The answer is their sound was already heard decades ago from bands such as Nirvana and other alternative artists. Nothing new is present in these songs, but can the band help it? The higher-ups of the music industry know that young audiences will find the music old and unexciting, so they don’t push it out as much. Many new rock artists suffer from this dilemma every day.
The 3 members of Nirvana, who could be considered rock’s last huge band (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
In order to get an opinion from a far more mature music fan, I interviewed the Mount’s Mr. Tim Breen. Mr. Breen is a Theology teacher known to be a diehard fan of rock music. Mr. Breen expressed his strong opinion about modern music passionately: “There was just more art and aesthetic into creating an album than from beginning to end than there is with these idiotic songs of three minutes and twenty-eight seconds that are manufactured at a corporate level.” By the end of our conversation, he had driven home the point that the industry is now driven by technology, greed, algorithms, and autotune, all of which are enemies to the creativity within rock.
“There’s no comparison. [Rock] was everywhere. It was dominant. I never bought music because you didn’t need to; you always heard it on the radio or at concert.”
-Mount Theology teacher Mr. Tim Breen
No matter their attachment to it, people should acknowledge rock’s absence from mainstream music and the charts. It doesn’t stand a chance within the modern music landscape compared to newer genres that continue to grow in popularity. The artists who produce rock find it much harder to have their music heard than in the past, as the switch from analog to digital led to a chokehold being held on America’s music industry. Due to the developments within the past two decades, modern rock has suddenly morphed into a niche genre that is gaining less and less respect. I love rock music, but the genre will never reach the popularity it once did.
J Dilla’s magnum opus Donuts is the best album you have never heard of. J Dilla is regarded as one of the best Hip-Hop producers ever. Anyone who enjoys 90s Hip Hop has probably listened to a J Dilla-produced song. Donuts, unlike Dilla’s former albums, was an entirely instrumental album. Dilla’s voice is not heard during the album, yet Donuts carries a vibe that most instrumental music fails to portray.
Donuts has multiple meanings. Dilla loves donuts, something his friends would bring him during their weekly vinyl drop-off while Dilla was in the hospital. Donuts also represented the album’s flow, songs do not end, but they are only interrupted by the next song. Tracks suddenly stop once the listener gets the hang of the song. This is a perfect metaphor for how life is always bringing new challenges and exciting moments. Although the album has 31 total tracks, the album’s run time is only 43 minutes. The run time shows that life will go by quick, and you need to cherish every moment.
One of the reasons this album is so excellent is the context of Dilla’s life during the creation of Donuts. Dilla, in 2005 was diagnosed with thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura and lupus. Dilla’s family almost went bankrupt due to his medical bills and treatments he received, like dialysis. This caused Dilla to produce twenty-nine of the album’s thirty-one tracks from his hospital bed in Los Angeles in the summer of 2005. Dilla rushed to complete Donuts as he couldn’t walk and could barely speak. During the making of Donuts, Dilla’s mom, Maureen Yancey, was always beside him. She would massage his fingers when he was too weak to use a 45-rpm record player and a Boss Sp 303 Sampler. Donuts was released on February 7th, 2006, his 32nd birthday. Unfortunately, Dilla passed away three days after Donuts was released.
Despite his success later in life, Dilla came from humble beginnings. Dilla was born James Dewitt Yancey on February 7, 1974, in Detroit, Michigan. Dilla came from a music background; His mother was a singer, and his dad played piano and bass. During high school, Dilla would meet T3 and Baatin. The trio would later get together again to form the group Slum Village. Dilla, throughout the 1990s, would work with artists such as Janet Jackson, The Pharcyde, Tribe Called Quest, Q Tip, De La Soul, and Busta Rhymes. In the 2000s, Dilla started rapping, and he recorded Welcome 2 Detroit, Jay Dee Volumes 1 and 2, Rough Draft, and then a collaborative album with fellow legend, Madlib called Champion Sound.
Dilla, in these projects, showed a love for the Production Center (MPC) 3000 and sampling machines. With these projects, Dilla had asserted his soul sample-heavy, with loud percussion style. Quest Love of the Roots said about Dilla, “One of the strangest things about Dilla was he wasn’t even a musician in the classic sense, he just had a sound in his head and was able to put it onto tape flawlessly.” Kanye West called Dilla “a drum god.” Dilla in these first albums sounded very mediocre and average in terms of his rapping, but his production was outstanding.
Donuts starts very weirdly with its Outro titled by the same name. J Dilla had switched the intro and outro. Collin Robinson, a music journalist for Shoegaze, says, “it’s almost too perfect a metaphor for Dilla’s otherworldly ability to flip the utter expletive out of anything he sampled.” This twelve-second beat is by far the prettiest in the album. The album’s last song also fits perfectly into the first song, which makes a perfect transition and helps fit the album’s circular nature. Right after those twelve seconds, the album takes a dark cut with the track Workinonit. Workinonit is a homage to Dillas’ hometown as you hear the sounds of speeding cars going by. The first third of this album signifies Dilla’s early life growing up in Detroit. The fact that the outro is the intro and vice versa also shows that Dilla will die in the same setting as he was born – in a hospital surrounded by family. The album continues in this continual flow, just like a river. The only things that change throughout the album are the samples Dilla uses. These samples were given to Dilla by his friends, who would fill crates full of records weekly and give them to Dilla to listen to. Dilla, being from Detroit, had a close relationship with the soul music of Motown that is often forgotten about with people of this generation.
Through Donuts, Dilla reinvented soul music and packaged it for a modern audience to consume. Young people who listen to music now often fail to recognize that almost all their favorite rap songs are sampled from a soul song. Don’t Cry, Last Donut of the Night, Bye, Time: The Donut of the Heart, involve samples from the Jackson 5, Charles Sherrel, The Moments, Gene Chandler, Stevie Wonder, The Escorts, and The Temptations. The song Don’t Cry is dedicated to his younger brother. Donuts talks a lot about Dilla’s mortality. One For The Ghost could be interpreted as death, but also this song was made for Ghost Face Killa from Wu-Tang. One For The Ghost leads into the song Go.
Go is a message about his passing and how he has come to terms with it. The sample throughout says, “come on, baby, go, it is all right.” U Love is dedicated to fans of Dilla. Throughout the track, the listener is told that we are loved by Dilla through a sample of the Commodores. The following two songs are called Hi., and Bye. Bye. It wasn’t the last beat of the album, but it was the last beat of his illustrious career. Last Donut of the Night then hits the ears with such rhythm and beat it is hard not to dance to. Donuts’ sadder songs acknowledge how tragic and sad the present moment is only to find an optimistic tone.
The album is then wrapped up with the upbeat Welcome to the Show, all about how Dilla has accepted his death. The song he sampled was even called When I Die, where the ending of this song has a beat switch that matches perfectly with the first beat of the album. Donuts is an album all about Dilla confronting death in a way no other album can compare to. Without saying a word, Dilla, through samples and song titles displays a specific mood with each song. Donuts would even inspire new sub-genres of Hip Hop such as Lo-Fi. All the greats had great instruments for making music. Jimmi Hendrix had his guitar. Louie Armstrong had a trumpet. J Dilla had an MPC.
Andy Rossbach is a junior member of the Multimedia Journalism class.
The Student Newspaper of Mount Saint Joseph High School