American Vandal (2017)
The basic image Netflix’s original series, “American Vandal,” presents in its absurd and disgusting premise – that I will not spoil for the sake of surprise – is one of juvenile humor. While the show is indeed a parody with a ton of laughs, it’s far more clever than its cover leads on.
That’s the whole point of the show.
It’s an oddly authentic look at high school students, and how human beings view each other and form opinions without getting to know one another.
“American Vandal” is a brilliant true crime mockumentary.
There’s the perfect mixture of comedy, mystery, and an oddly gripping message, topped off with such a short runtime, which makes it a breeze to binge watch, and one of Netflix’s most rewatchable original series.
Both seasons tell different tales, but each one shares a unique perspective for new laughs and new meanings, all told behind that embarrassing high school lens that most if not all of us will surely recall.
The Lighthouse (2019)
Arts & Features Editor
“The Lighthouse” is not only one of the best films of the decade, but has a narrative so shocking that it would have American writers such as Edgar Allen Poe holding their breath.
“The Lighthouse” is a 2019 horror film written by Roger Eggers, and stars Robert Pattinson as Ephraim Winslow and Willem Dafoe as Thomas Wake. The two start as friendly accomplices tending to a lighthouse off the coast of New England. Thomas is in charge and orders Ephraim to do chores around the island.
Quickly, the audience starts to realize there is something strange happening – Thomas seems awfully fond of the light, and actively tries to keep people away. Ephraim is potentially seeing things that aren’t there, and the relationship between the two men starts to morph into an interesting power dynamic.
While there’s much to take away from this film, I found there were some incredibly well-crafted themes about men, their expectations in life, and the reality of what they want.
Sometimes, the best media Hollywood can make is a film that messes with your mind and leaves you with more questions than answers.
In 2010, writer and director Christopher Nolan did just that with his film “Inception.”
The film, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur, and Ellen Page as Ariadne, takes a common human experience – dreaming – and makes it, for lack of a better term, terrifying.
“Inception” centers around Cobb, a thief who uses the concept of inception to steal information from the subconscious minds of those he targets.
Cobb, Arthur, and Ariadne are tasked with using inception to implant an idea into the subconscious of Robert Fischer – the son, and heir-apparent to a billion-dollar company in order to dissolve his father’s empire.
The best part of this film is the complexity of it and how Nolan executed it in such a seamless way. He makes it a point to confuse you, so you can’t help but watch the movie over and over again until you understand it.
But, just when you think you’ve got the plot of the movie down, the last 30 seconds throw a curveball which leaves you questioning your own life.
The R.E.D. Album
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
Since his 2005 debut, The Game has been a controversial, polarizing figure in the hip-hop world. Unfortunately, due to multiple publicity stunts, legal issues, rap beefs, and his frequent tendency to name drop – anyone from John Wilkes Booth to LeBron James’ mother – The Game’s consistency and raw talent are often overshadowed by superfluous drama.
2011’s “The R.E.D. Album” seemed like the start of a new beginning for Game. His first three albums felt like introductions that merely nicked the surface of his personal life – leaving fans to question who The Game really was beyond his tough-talking persona.
Over the course of 21 tracks, Jayceon Taylor spits his autobiography over masterful production, beginning with his unstable upbringing and detailing gang life, party days, an abusive father, a near-fatal shooting in 2001, and then gracefully ending with the birth of his daughter – a turning point for the Compton native.
With narration from Dr. Dre, a track list that reads more like a Coachella lineup, and production from the likes of Cool & Dre, Boi-1da, Pharrell, and DJ Khalil, it’s hard to find fault with The Game’s fourth studio album.
Some highlights from the project include “Drug Test,” a fast-paced club anthem with a Nate Dogg-esque hook, “Ricky,” an account of The Game’s shooting over soulful saxophones and violins, “All I Know,” showcasing his lyrical dexterity, and “Born in the Trap,” a classic sounding boom-bap record courtesy of DJ Premier.
But perhaps most importantly, “The City” served as many rap fans’ (including mine’s) introduction to Kendrick Lamar, who delivers a feverish hook accompanied by a scathing, rapid-fire acapella verse to properly close out five minutes of fierce lyricism, proving he could keep up with rap’s heavyweights.
Nearly nine years later, “The R.E.D. Album” is quite possibly The Game’s magnum opus.
You find yourself lost in a grassy, pixelated plain and standing before you is a tall, blocky tree.
You punch it.
“Minecraft” is unique. Having entered the decade as a small indie project led by a team of one, it left holding the title of the most sold video game of all time.
Pretty good for something made entirely out of squares, blocks, and 90-degree angles.
But just as we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, the same applies to video games.
While “Minecraft” may look simple compared to last decade’s triple A titles which pushed the boundaries of reality, good graphics don’t make the game – good gameplay does. And “Minecraft” has a lot of it.
In fact, there’s an endless amount of gameplay thanks to its procedurally generated worlds. That grassy plain you found yourself in? You were the first person to ever travel it.
Every cave you explore, diamond you find, and pit of lava you unfortunately fall into while mining it are all unique to you. And all experienced based on your own choices.
While other games simply tell you what to do and where to go to advance their stories, “Minecraft” lets you decide how that happens.
That tree you punched down earlier? Perhaps you’ll build a house from it on the plains, or maybe you’ll craft a boat out of it to sail off to new lands. The choice is entirely up to you.
Victory Lap (2018)
Asst. Arts & Features Editor
Often, an artist’s first album ends up being regarded as some of their best work. This holds true with Nipsey Hussle’s debut studio album “Victory Lap” – the first and only album he was able to give us.
The title track, “Victory Lap,” starts the project off on a high note as Nipsey passionately raps over a triumphant beat tailored to him. Stacy Barthe provides a beautifully sung hook and backing vocals, giving Nipsey the perfect canvas to begin painting his picture.
“Young N***a” features ad-libs from Diddy and an incredibly contagious instrumental that sounds best played at full volume. With a pronunciation and flow so meticulous and clean, it seems as if Nipsey’s words are bouncing off the beat – making it one of the most alluring tracks on the album.
My favorite cut on the project is “Right Hand 2 God,” a bonus track Nipsey later confirmed had been recorded in 2013. Almost seven years later, the song sounds like it only came out yesterday, attesting to how timeless Nipsey’s music is.
With lyrics so moving, motivational, and immaculately polished, it’s not surprising the album received a Grammy nomination in 2019. You can hear the time, effort, and thought put into the project – after all, it was Nipsey’s first commercial release following an impressive 13-year mixtape run.
An effort as strong as “Victory Lap” makes it hard not to wonder if we’ll ever get a posthumous Nipsey Hussle album.
Picture it: the year is 2009. You have to go home after work to change before your yoga sesh.
Fortunately, as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s, the ball drops in Times Square as well as the knowledge clothing can be simultaneously stylish and comfortable. Behold the legging: the best thing that’s ever happened to you and your wardrobe. Dress them up with your favorite sweater and pair of booties, then throw on a T-shirt and hit the gym – all in the same day.
There were plenty of great fashion moments in the past 10 years, from Lady Gaga arriving at the 2011 Grammys in an egg to JLo bringing back her iconic jungle dress.
For life off the red carpet, yoga pants, and your favorite Adidas sneakers, take the cake as the trend that hopefully carries through to the 2020s.
Killer Instinct (2013)
Robert Johnson Jr.
Arts & Features Editor
I don’t know about you, but when I think of the words “high school,” my mind immediately goes to a laughter-filled, hectic after school session of “Killer Instinct” at a Microsoft Store in downtown Boston.
This 2013 reboot, originally spearheaded by Amazon-owned Double Helix Studios – now developed by Iron Galaxy – is one of the finest fighting games, not just of the past decade, but all the way to this very day. With smooth controls, addicting combo mechanics, lots of character variety, and a dedicated scene that wants you to “#PlayKI,” “Killer Instinct” has it all for the modern-day fighting game player.
While the game was originally released for an unorthodox console found in the Xbox One, at least for games of that particular genre, it has also managed to creep its way onto computer storefronts, notably the Windows Store and Steam, with crossplay functionality across all three platforms. If you ever find “Killer Instinct” on sale and you have $10 itching to COMBO BREAK out your pocket, you need to join everyone else and #PlayKI.