Sunday, 27 May 2012

A Geeky White Boys Guide to Rap.

My Favourite Rappers

People assume two things. The first is that I probably listen to Indie rock and like Muse. I don't really know what Indie rock is and I have only ever liked one Muse song (Bliss). The second is that rap music is a bunch of idiots going on about guns and arses. Well, if you have only listened to 50 Cent I can forgive you for thinking that. Here are a few rappers that are amazing lyricists, have incredible technical ability and will maybe broaden your musical horizons just a little bit.

#1 - Akala

My favourite rapper of all time. Listening to one Akala song will educate you more than the whole discography of Metallica. He is incredibly politically and socially conscious and addresses a huge range of issues in his music.

#2 - Logic

Similar to Akala but which much simpler lyrics and a very different technical style (slower). He also tends to address political issues in his music and I like him because there is something very humble about him. He doesn't really try that hard to be clever, he just gives the simple facts as he sees them.

#3 - Stubborn

Hasn't released that much material but his SB.TV freestyle is definitely one of my favourites. His lyrics really strike a cord with me and you can tell that he really means everything he says. His voice can be slightly annoying but I find that the impact of his music makes up for this.

#4 - Elro

This guy breaks every bloody stereotype in the book. He is a chubby white guy with a double chin and a posh accent who raps about completely random/inane topics. His lyrics are actually very clever though due to his incredible word play. "Rick Rosstrich."

#5 - English Frank

If I saw this guy walking towards me I would probably shit my pants. However, the more you analyse his lyrics the more you realise he is promoting peace, love and kindness. He is the rap equivalent of the kind of people you see in Guy Ritchie films.

There are many more I could reference; Benny Banks, Hopsin, Lowkey, Giggs, Kreayshawn, Split Prophets etc.  I wont though.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dystopian Fiction.

Dystopian Fiction 

I love dystopian fiction and with books like 'The Hunger Games' becoming large franchises it is starting to experience something of a resurgence. These are my personal favourite dystopian novels.

#1 - Brave New world - Aldous Huxley.

I read this novel when I was sixteen and it was the first book that got me into 'serious reading'. Before reading this my small interest in literature was heavily shadowed by rock music and video games, how quickly this changed. Brave New World is what I view as the most accurate depiction of the way that western society is going. It was first published in 1932 and Huxley was amazingly accurate with many of his predictions. One of these is the concept of designer children. Huxley created a world where people are engineered to fit whichever role they are going to fulfil in life. Nobody feels the need to escape from this scientifically engineered caste system because they have all been bred to to want nothing more than what they have. As a sixteen year old (and still now) I viewed this as a much more realistic depiction of population control than 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' in which people are scared and monitored into submission. However, both have their truths, of course.

#2 - The Road - Cormac McCarthy.

This novel focuses less on it's dystopian elements and more on a story of survival, both mental and physical, of a father and son amidst a dystopian backdrop. It doesn't make any assumptions about the relationship between father and son, it just puts them into an extreme situation and allows the reader to view and make their own decision about it. I love this novel because it gives us a beautiful depiction of this type of relationship without being at all sentimental. However, I know people who have got completely different things out of the novel. The dystopian aspects are left completely unanswered and for this story it works.

#3 - The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood.

Atwood is a master of her art but writes with a completely humble style. She is one of those writers you can enjoy whether you are completely wordy and into literature or if you barely read at all. This is because it works on different levels. I do find that some of the dystopian aspects of this novel have become somewhat dated but I enjoyed seeing it from the viewpoint of a female character and a female writer. The most I got from this novel is the personal story of survival of the main character 'Offred'. Like Atwood's writing style, she is a humble character that we can all relate to. It also looks a the dangers that can come of repressing female sexuality, something Atwood (a feminist herself) opposed of many feminist groups at the time.

#4 - Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell.

Of course I had to include this in the list. Although I do not consider this the religiously accepted leader of dystopian fiction as many do it is still a great novel. You can link many of the novels themes to things going on right now such as the rise in multiple types of surveillance on the general public and the supposed 'war on terror'. This is your bread and butter of dystopian fiction and should be read by anyone interested in literature because it makes you think and question the world you live in. However, as I said previously, Huxley did it better.

#5 - Watchmen - Alan Moore.

I don't read many graphic novels because most I have looked at are fairly badly written. However, Alan Moore is of a different class and 'Watchmen' deserves all the attention it gets. Also, Rorschach is definitely one of my icons. 

How can you not love this guy?

Monday, 7 May 2012

The Working Weekend.

The Working Weekend

This bank holiday weekend I have been working hard. No, really. I had a huge mountain of work that has only seemed potentially manageable this past hour. My relief from work has consisted of the gym. I had a long session on Saturday and another on Sunday. Unusually for me, these were both with friends. I usually go to the gym by myself but I have found recently that going with someone actually makes me work a lot harder. I can feel the benefits of these sessions today because for the first time in a while I have that wonderful ache that shows you have been working hard. 

The other thing that makes working hard bearable is nice food. I always have a collection of snacks available for these sit-ins. Currently in my cupboard are Wispa bars, vanilla doughnuts,  crisps, Muller corners, Scotch pancakes and Braeburn apples (the best). You have to give yourself these little pleasures or realising that you have a backlog of work that is close to being impossible on the time-scale you have left would probably drive you a little insane. Keeping a sense of humour and reminding yourself of your own inadequacy in the Universe also helps. 

When I went to the gym on Sunday with my friend Ollie we did decline bench presses. I have never done these before. It involves putting the front of the bench on some sort of step so when you bench press (dumbbells in our case) your legs are higher than your head. It is more difficult than a traditional bench press and is supposedly good for your lower chest. On my first attempt at doing this I let myself slide down so my head was dangling over the end of the bench. I dropped the weights and tried to sit up but couldn't. After asking Ollie to help me up he tried pushing my shoulders which resulted in my sliding up the bench but still unable to sit up. I ended up just having to roll off like an awkward fish. Needless to say, I looked a bit of a twat. 

I have spent a lot of my time this weekend sat on the exact same spot of my living room floor. I have my laptop in front of me, my printer/scanner to one side and I am surrounded by various folders and bits of paper. You can't help but reflect on things a bit when you are stuck in the same place by yourself for a while. When I look back on University I largely think 'there were a lot of good times' and 'why did I spend so much of it wearing shit clothes'?

Not always as bad as Noel though.