Yo! I’m back. Let’s jump right in.
Album of the week:
To be quite honest, all of the categories are a bit weakened this week, but that’s not for lack of trying! I have listened to a few albums every day, but that doesn’t mean the quality was anywhere close to last week. I have been working exclusively on the rap project this week and most of the time, it was not particularly strong. One of the few exceptions to this is the work of one of my favorite rappers putting out work today, Ka. He released Honor Killed The Samurai not that long ago actually, and it did not disappoint. He comes from the tradition of Wu-Tang Clan – from the grittier, grimier sounding New York style of rap. The album isn’t very long and it suits it really well. Honor Killed The Samurai is somewhat of a concept album. He juxtaposes his own story against that of a samurai. Rules and the culture of samurais serve as the introduction of each song and set the tone. Ka’s flow is so intriguing. At times, he almost seems distant – not completely there – but everything he says, he says with such a conviction that I can’t help but believe him. He meanders through the wonderful beats on this record, punching through each and every line with a slow cadence and introspective lyrics. It really is a superb record. Give it a listen. Also, go back and listen to Ka’s last two albums, Days with Dr. Yen Lo and The Night’s Gambit – they are all wonderful.
Song of the week:
I considered putting a Bon Iver song here, because I keep returning to particular songs of his, but I have since decided to put one of my favorite tracks from Ka’s Honor Killed The Samurai. It’s called “Just.” What I have to say about this particular track very much mirrors what I said about the album as a whole, so I’ll just let the track speak for itself.
Television episode of the week:
Assuredly the strongest category of the week, BoJack Horseman, Cowboy Bebop, and Deadwood were all really strong this week. However, I do not think I can take the honor (heh, get it? Honor Killed The Samurai…sorry…) away from both episodes of Cowboy Bebop this week. It was a two-part episode called “Jupiter Jazz” that I watched, and it honestly may have been the peak of Cowboy Bebop so far. These episodes are roughly 20 minutes each and I am consistently astounded by how complex the storylines get without losing its way and meandering through different topics. It’s almost assuredly somewhat of an empty gesture to say this, but the show has such a poetic quality to it that I’m often taken by its beauty alone – aside from the stellar writing and captivating voice acting. When I say poetic here, I am referencing the flow of poetry. I am thinking about how softly or how harshly words come from the lips of those that read poetry. I am thinking about the pacing of each line. I am thinking about considering where to accentuate a syllable and when to just let it hang over your audience. Cowboy Bebop does this so well with each and every episode. Although the incredible music throughout the show is a big influence on this, it’s not just that. It’s also about the art in the show. Remember that scene I described last week with the guy trying to light his cigarette? It’s scenes like that that define the poetry of a show like Cowboy Bebop and stick with you far after the episode ends.
Movie of the week:
This was actually the weakest category of the week for a second week in a row. This week I started making my way through Akira Kurosawa’s filmography though! I watched his first four films (well, three of them – I am going to watch the fourth tonight). The best of the three that I watched was Sanshiro Sugata. The film follows the competition between judo and jujitsu through the journey of one man’s attempt to master judo. Kurosawa’s filming of the fight scenes was realistic and enjoyable. I do not have a ton to say about this movie as a whole. It was a solid story and it was entertainingly executed. However, it was not much more than that for me. I did notice Kurosawa’s tendency to utilize silence, which I am really excited to see more of moving forward.
Piece of writing of the week:
I unfortunately did not read much this week either. I continued with Simmons’ The Book of Basketball, which by this point I am convinced I will never finish. If I had to pick a piece of writing, I read a solid piece yesterday about Kevin Garnett and Chris Bosh by The Ringer’s Danny Chau. Chau takes a look at how KG changed the role of big men in the NBA and how Chris Bosh was poised to be “the next KG” – for lack of a better term. It’s also potentially a tragic story though, especially if Bosh never plays again – which is a very real possibility. Chau’s a good writer and effectively summarizes just how much KG changed the NBA and how much we will miss him (as well as Duncan and Kobe) now that he has retired.