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Saruman1719 Blog

The VHS Horror Film Collecting Has Begun

Besides the fact that my last blog was a year and a half ago, the topic I wanted to approach was a blog I wrote over two years ago where I waxed on fondly about my nostalgia and love for horror films of yesteryear on VHS and how I was thinking about collecting them. Personally, though I have loved ones to tell me anyways, I probably have a bit of a problem because I also love Blu-ray and seeing all my favorites like never before. I will continue to buy them, but every now and then, I get this urge to just sit back with some beers and good food and watch a sh*tty quality horror film on VHS. Until yesterday afternoon, I hadn't accomplished any of the dream I set down over two years.

I had gone to some thrift stores over the past couple of weekends, but they didn't have anything I had in mind, though there were plenty of VHS tapes overall. Then I went to a flea market yesterday and browsed around and while they are not amazing finds, since they are fairly common films, one vendor had Halloween, Halloween 5, The Thing (1982), Night of the Living Dead (1968 ), The Phantom of the Opera (1925), and The House On Haunted Hill (1959). Besides Halloween 5, these are all favorites of mine and the kind of films I wanted to watch and fondly pretend I was a young kid again with. Each movie was a buck apiece.

After grabbing a VCR and 27 inch SDTV (nice and lightweight, not like the old behemoth Sony Trinitron I finally got rid of earlier this year) for a grand total of $25 at a Goodwill, I mused on the way home that I must indeed be getting eccentric at the ripe old age of 26. I cleaned the player and TV which are in very good condition, plugged them in, adjusted the language that was set to French back to English, and popped in a VHS tape for the first time in 9 years: none other than Halloween of course. I sat there, listening to slight buzzing of the TV, the tape loading into the machine, all the little noises that come from watching a VHS. Halloween begins playing and I'm instantly transported back to the times I would watch it as a young maybe 10 or 11 year old.

This particular copy of it wasn't that great, true. It had lines going up vertically and until I tried another tape, I thought it might have been the TV at first. So yeah, even I kind of forgot just how bad the picture quality and detail is compared to DVD and to a far greater extent, Blu-ray of course. But that's kind of the point, isn't it? I don't know about a kid who grows up with only HD content, I'm sure there's the odd one here and there, but I don't think you can endure watching a VHS unless you have very fond memories and experiences firsthand with the format growing up. All the things I mentioned last time have helped mold this sick fascination, nostalgia, and straight up blind love I have for VHS. I don't think I could watch non-horror again on it, other than family videos, but there's something really romantic in a way about viewing a genre like horror on such a outdated and dead format. Horror is the one genre that can get away with the crappy quality because it adds something to the grimy nature of the movie. I know on VHS that it's not the correct aspect ratio in most cases, it looks like sh*t, the picture pops and skips sometimes, but when you grow up with it and that's how you got into movies, you just can't help but be fond of it. If you're deranged like me that is lol.

Of course, if anyone is familar with something like the Video Nasties of the 80's, they would know that horror and VHS has always had a special relationship with each other. If there's something I love about the horror genre, it is its rich history and sense of discovery.People can scoff and thumb their nose down at it, but horror is special and I maintain that it has the most passionate, well-informed, understanding and forgiving fans.

Back to the actual VHS watching. So after Halloween, I watched another Carpenter favorite that ranks very very high on my list, The Thing. This was actually a pretty good copy of the film and I enjoyed watching it again on VHS. I'll probably end up following asleep because it's late, but after this blog, I'm going to watch Night of the Living Dead or House on Haunted Hill.

So, as mentioned, obviously I'm still buying and enjoying DVD's and Blu-ray's, and pulling out the VCR will be something special I do maybe on a weekend each month or whenever I happen to find some of the films I really want to get on VHS. It's just nice to reminisce and even though I'm not old yet, I find myself doing it more and more. I still live my life in the present, it's not like I'm holed up in a room with my childhood things alone with no girlfriend, no job, etc, so I think it is ok to do things like this. Anyone relate at all?

Birthday And Other Occurences

Well, today I hit the big 25 in age. Quarter of a century. Now I'm finally as old as my girl, so I've temporarily lost the "you're so much older than me baby girl" card :P Actually, until she turns 26 at least, I'll miss her saying that I'm so young. If LordelX reads this, he might remember me writing a blog late last year where I bitterly mentioned something about my girl and how upset she gets about her age, and he said something like, don't worry, there is life after 25, that made me laugh man haha. Times are much better now.

So, I had some ice cream cake and Chinese food, probably my two favorite foods ever. My mom got me a Guitar Hero bundle for the 360 since I was busy jamming on the one she got my sister for Christmas. Plus, I think she's buying me a new bed frame once I get settled in my new place in less than two weeks. Less than two weeks! Very pumped. It's been a long time coming.

Let's see, what else. Still gaming like crazy on the PS3. I have basically all my stuff packed, but I left the PS3 plugged in for now. Dragon Age has been really fun. This past weekend, I logged 19 I haven't done that much gaming on a weekend since high school. Overall, my file has about 32 hours. It's really good, but I think I'm getting a little burned out on it and I want to move onto something else. I think I'm 80% or so through the main storyline, so I'll probably clock around 40 hours. I'm telling you though...there is so much more to do in this game and stuff, but Bioware can't top Knights of the Old Republic for me. Then again, maybe I'm just too fond of lightsabers and Bastila :P

Other than that, not much going on. Pretty happy with my personal life in all areas and just doing some of the things I love doing.

Finally some PS3 loving going on

A couple of months back, I wrote how I felt about this generation of consoles so far. I gave the PS3 a grade of F, a combination of having the thing die on me and also having few games that interest me. However, as I expected, with little more than a month to go, the lure of playing Final Fantasy XIII on its proper console and of course, God of War III, proved to be too strong. I went out last week and bought the 120 GB PS3 Slim, along with Metal Gear Solid 4, God of War Collection, and Uncharted: Drake's Fortune. Naturally, whenever I buy something, it goes on sale or drops in price immediately. I need to go back to Best Buy sometime during the week and get all three games price adjusted, since the God of War Collection dropped to $30 and the other two are Greatest Hits that can be had for 2 for $50 this week. The trick will be to leave the store with nothing haha.

Anyway, I spent most of this weekend putting in a decent amount of hours, something I haven't done in awhile. I've mostly played the God of War Collection. I can't help but play those games over and over throughout the years. Both would reside in any top 50 list I would make. I beat the first and I'm about 60-70% through Part II from what I remember. I've also put a little time into Uncharted. I love the Tomb Raider games and this is in the same vein, and possibly better. As for Metal Gear Solid...well...I've barely played the series and like Grand Theft Auto, I just can't help but buy the games even though I spend little time on them. I actually got the Metal Gear Solid: Essential Collection for the PS2 from Amazon during the week, so maybe I should try starting with the first one again. Or should I dive right into 4? I forget which series I did this with, but it took the latest and greatest one to draw me in before going back to the past, so it could happen with this.

So yeah, I'm addicted to the PS3 right now. Trophies are just as good as achievements, if not better, since they actually make more sense. I like the leveling up, the different levels of trophies, and then you still have your cumulative amount to look at. I can't wait for FFXIII and God of War III and I'm happy knowing I will be able to play them on day one.

In other news, I signed the lease for my first apartment yesterday. I've been looking for about two weeks and I've seen a couple of dumps, one I liked a lot that was basically stolen from me, and then the one I picked whichI like a lot and daydream about what my new daily life is going to be like while living there. I've never lived on my own, so I'm very excited to get some much needed personal space and doing things my way. On top of the $800 for the rent which includes heat and water, I have to pay for only the electricity, so once I get internet, I expect to be paying around $950 in rent each month. It will probably be less than I'm estimating for the electric bill, but it doesn't hurt to overestimate. I've been paying $250-300 for the past 8 months or so at home since graduating, so it's a bit of a jump, but I do work two jobs and I've saved up a bit the past 4-5 months, plus I'm not a complete idiot,so I should do ok. I move in March 1 :) Now hopefully I can get a hold of a friend so her mother can try and get me an in on a financial job in Boston.

For now though, I'm just fired up about the new place. Maybe I'll hear a mixture of the trophy/achievement sound when I officially leave on the 1st of March 8)

Opinion On How Gaming Has Been This Generation

I own the 3 major consoles. I'm going to briefly talk about each one and how they've treated me this generation. I will say that there is a clear cut winner for me. I could easily have been satisfied with owning just one of these consoles at this point. Let's see which one I'm talking about.

Obviously, it's all opinion, so if anyone feels butthurt about their favorite console getting a bad grade, don't. I understand there are games I just don't have for whatever reason.

Wii- I bought the Wii at launch, lured in by Twilight Princess and the overall supposed revolution the system promised to offer. Like with every new gaming console, the excitement was there and it started off well. Twilight Princess was a great game. Over the next year and a half, RE4: Wii Edition (any excuse to replay this game for the 20th time was fine with me), Metroid Prime 3, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl came out. They were pretty evenly spaced out, with some other decent games here and there to fill the gaps. I ended up playing Brawl for about 2 months straight and that's been it for the Wii for me. I'm sure I turned on the system once or twice since then for some reason, but I haven't bought or played a game for it in over a year and a half. It has the five gems that I listed that are among my favorite games ever, but not much else to me and I see little that excites me in the future, other than the new Zelda, Metroid, and Mario usual. Current Grade: D+

360- Easily the system I've spent the most time with. At least 90% of my gaming this gen has been done on this console. I bought it in May 2006 with Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and put in over a hundred hours into that game and never looked back since. Once Gears of War came out that fall, it seems like there hasn't been a month since that I wasn't interested in at least one game. My collection is sitting at about 30 retail games for the console and I've purchased many XBLA games, my favorites being the two Geometry Wars games. I just like the set up of the whole system. I like achievements, I like how easy it is to browse the marketplace, and my friends have the system as well so it is good to game with them. To be fair to the PS3, I own a lot of games that are multiplatform titles so maybe if the PS3 arrived first, I would be snapping up all those games for it instead. I doubt it, but either way, I feel the system has better exclusives or at the very least, it had the games I like first (Oblivion, Lost Planet, etc). Yes, I eventually got the red ring after 2 1/2 years of owning the system, but sending it back cost nothing and I ended up getting a newer model in less than two weeks. Hard to argue with that kind of service. Current Grade: A

PS3- This system has been a complete failure for me. I got it as a Christmas present in 2006. I feel bad that I don't game like crazy on it because it was obviously an expensive gift. If it wasn't given to me, I can safely say I still wouldn't own the system at this point 3 years later. It would have taken the once exclusive Final Fantasy XIII or God of War III to make me finally take the plunge. I own 2 games for it. The first Resistance game and Ninja Gaiden Sigma. That's it. Granted, there are a good 8 games or so that are out that I'm interested in getting at some point, examples being Metal Gear Solid 4 and the Uncharted games, but there hasn't been that one game that demanded my attention yet. It doesn't help that so many games are also on the 360. I always go for the 360 version when deciding, mainly due to the familiarity, the controller, etc. Like the Wii, I have virtually no desire to game on this machine for some bizarre reason. Plus, my system got the yellow light of death a few months ago after I updated it, so I've been out of at least a Blu-ray player. I need to figure out what to do, because God of War III is approaching at least. Current Grade: F

2 Most Anticipated QuarterOne Games:

Final Fantasy XIII: Like many gamers, this is one of my favorite series and each new release is a colossal event for me. Outside of not even purchasing the online XI, when I got into this series in sometime around 1999, I proceeded to play and beat every game in the series. I briefly played VIII and eventually started with IX, then going to VIII and VII, before completing Parts 1-6 over time. When X came out, I borrowed my friends PS2, rented the game, and put in like 40 hours in a sole weekend. I didn't beat it, but a couple of months later, I bought my own PS2 and a copy of the game, started over, and devoured the game. I found XII very engrossing as well, I think I ended up with around 55 hours on my file before moving onto Twilight Princess which came out a few weeks after it. As for the upcoming XIII, I'm not losing sleep over getting my hands on it, but it's Final Fantasy and I'm confident it will take up most of my free time. The big decision is which system to get it for. Since Part VII onwards has been on a Playstation console, I'd feel at home getting it on the PS3. Of course, my system is dead so I would have to get it repaired. Or I could get it for the 360, which I do all my gaming on and not worry about getting the PS3 repaired.

God of War III: Then we have this game which comes out just 3 weeks later and screws up my plan to not have the PS3 repaired. The God of War games were both probably in my top 10-15 games of the previous generation and this one looks just as great. If there is any game that will make me invest myself in the PS3, it would be this game. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

God I Hate This Site Sometimes

I just typed up a long ass blog, went to post it, and I get an error page saying I needed to be signed in to post a blog. Which I obviously was if I was typing in my blog. So that all went down the toilet since it was gone when I clicked back. Arghhh!!!!

So here's the empty, short version that sucks. Maybe I'll revise it when I'm less pissed off.

1.) Set a goal to finally get my own place in 6 months. I want to save enough for my first/last/sec and have 3 months worth of bill/rent money in reserve. Now that I'm out of college and in a rut of sorts, it is really time for me to get out on my own.

2.) Still reading Wheel of Time. Near the end of The Shadow Rising, so the going is slow. The Great Hunt is my new favorite book in the series.

3.) Playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic lately. One of my favorite games ever that I've gone through at least a handful of times, yet I play it virtually the same way every time. I'm always on the dark side, I always woo Bastila cuz she's my girl, I always trash Carth at any given opportunity, and I always save the Korriban planet for last so I can have Bastila by my awesome, dark Jedi self side for as long as possible. And I always turn her back to my side. The game cracks me up so much. I pick virtually the same dialogue every freaking time and I laugh every time. The game truly brings back my evil, yet charming personality I supposedly had as a kid. If I do the same sh*t every time and it still entertains me, this game is going to remain timeless for me quite easily.

4.) Been rediscovering my passion for heavy metal as of late, plus some c.l.a.s.s.i.c. rock like Led Zeppelin. I've gotten into hip-hop so much over the past few years that I forgot just how much I used to love bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Megadeth. If my profile contained my whole life's listening and not just the past 2-3 years that I've been using iTunes, those bands would probably have a very large lead in plays over my current #1 Nas, who has about 3,000 plays for me. Either way, I'm just enjoying some killer bands lately and remembering when I first got into them. I've also forgotten just how much fun air guitar and drums are too...and how retarded I must look LOL.

5.) Don't you hate it when someone types a blog and then either deletes it or sets it to private a day later, making the reader wonder what is going in that person's head? Oh, and when fools who can't come to grips that they are 25 pretend they are 19 or 22. I know I do.

Like I said, I'm kind of in a rut, but I have another goal to work towards so maybe it's not so bad. I can think of one thing that would make life a million times better, but that will never happen. And I don't mean winning the lottery. Sorry for the progressively bitter and depressing tone. Watching a tiny video from my trip to California a few months back is about to make me hit the bottle. "Gotta stop drinking that Henny, I know that sh*t is poison"- Blaq Poet, Voices

The Wheel of Time Series (Thoughts, One Very Vague Spoiler At Best)

So, I'm re-reading The Wheel of Time series again in anticipation of the new one, Gathering Storms, that comes out at the end of October. There's no way I'll get through the 11 books before it comes out, unless I do what I usually do: get bored after the seventh book, A Crown of Swords. It arguably starts getting bogged down even before that book, but it's a common complaint for WoT fans who are not completely blind. It is one of my favorite series, but it is hardly perfect. Something I notice with every re-read. I used to think the first 6 books were untouchable. I remember the last time reading these that my opinion dwindled to the first four. 5 and 6 are still very good, but I wonder how I'll feel about them this time around.

I'm currently about 70 pages into the third book, The Dragon Reborn, and it already has one of the things hate about this series: the prologues. They are usually centered around characters I don't care all that much about or ones who are very unfamilar. I don't know about anyone else, but I'd rather jump right in some of the better characters. Far too little time is spent with the main character in this series, Rand, especially with the later books in the series. In this book, I suffered through the relatively boring first 30 pages to get to something good. It seems like this happens in almost every book from that point on. I'm not a fan of skipping anything, just in case, but man, I'm skimming these things from now if they don't pull me in within the first few pages.

Prior to this, I enjoyed the first two like I always do. The Eye of the World has that c.l.a.s.s.i.c. Lord of the Rings feel to it, with enough new/retooled ideas to make it interesting and engaging. It's the first book and it got me into this mess of a series, so I'm going to be overly fond of it for that alone. The second book, The Great Hunt, is probably even better. The pacing is tighter, Rand really starts developing into what he will become, and the world feels more complex and diverse. You get to see some of the inner workings of the White Tower and the Aes Sedai. In general, the book is very interesting and gets things going. If you didn't know how many books were in the series, I'm sure you'd imagine that there are only 3 books left at most. It's funny though, when Robert Jordan was cranking these out once a year, the books tended to be better. When he started spending 2+ years on each one, the quality suffered. Strange.

As for The New Spring novel, that really marks the time I've been a fan of this series. I can't believe that book is approaching 6 years old! I got into the series after graduating high school in 2003 (another timeframe that makes my head spin a bit), so this prequel to the series was the first one I got at release. I didn't imagine that almost 6 years later, only one other book would have come out. Then again, I'm sure those who started this series in 1990, almost 20 years ago, didn't think it wouldn't be completed until roughly 2011. New Spring was the first of three prequels, so I wonder what will happen to the final two with Jordan's death. I especially liked it though because Moiraine Damodred is my favorite character and it was enjoyable learning more about her time as a novice. Her absence has been another reason why the later books are tough to get through.

I love the series, there's so much awesomeness in it, unfortunately, there's plenty wrong with it too. By the time it is all over, it will be close to 10,000 pages long. If we're going to be honest with ourselves, it could have been done in probably 5,000-6,000 and 7-8 books max. The story would have had better pacing and there would have been no trash to slog through. It's a shame Jordan had to die before finishing it himself, but it seems like it is in good hands with Sanderson and Jordan's wife overseeing everything. Plus Jordan left many audio tapes detailing much of what he wanted for the last book, Memory of Light. What's crazy is that it turned into about 2000 pages so it got split into 3 books because how are you going to stock a 2000 page behemoth. Plus, they get to charge the fans three more times, instead of once...

The series is deep, no question, and the world is huge with many characters, interesting ideas and concepts, and many exciting things happening, even if they aretoo far between. However, I think a more focused approach would have made for stronger results. It is a c.l.a.s.s.i.c. in the fantasy genre, but the second half of the series is just so weak. So little happens over the course of hundreds of pages at times. I still like it overall though and I'm going to try and continue reading the whole thing to get to Gathering Storms, even though it will probably take me until the end of the year.

Favorite Book in the series: The Shadow Rising (again, this could change when I get to it again, from what I remember though, this was excellent)

Favorite Characters:

1A.) Moiraine- Introduced as very mysterious and intelligent. I was drawn to her immediately. Amazing feat after amazing feat in my opinion, going toe to toe with a Forsaken is enough to be the dopest character in the series, but she does it with two! Being in only 5 books at this point hurts the series. Great character.

1B.) Rand- What can be said about this dude? You follow him from the beginning and you root for him the whole way, for the most part. His parts of the story are usually the most interesting and I love the early parts of the story where lords/kings/people in power, etc try to take advantage of him and he is so bad ass with them, thanks in heavy part to the guidance of Moiraine.

The rest:

Nynaeve- Yea, she tugs her hair too much but she does some dope sh*t throughout the series.

Mat- Funny and bad ass.

Aviendha- I actually don't remember what I liked about her but I'm sure I will when I get to her.

Cadsuane- More like, I love to hate her; seeing her and Rand butt heads is hilarious.

Egwene- Initially, I greatly disliked her character, but she really develops and comes into her own over the course of the series.

Back to The Dragon Reborn!

This Perfect Life (2009) - Charles Hamilton

Yea, the Charles Hamilton blog train keeps rolling. This blog is going to be pretty short just because I've talked about him so much recently.

So I've had a chance to listen to his new album, This Perfect Life, a number of times over the last two days and I have to say that it is very good.

Time and time again, Hamilton shows how strong he is in all facets of the game. He keeps getting better with each release, be it album or mixtape. His production is always stellar and it is no different here. The kid always seems to sample stuff I don't expect like "Tom's Diner" by Susan Vega for his song "Ghosts". Lyrically great with good subject matter, great flow, great beats...can there be anything else? Even his two guests, Crooked I, and Hamilton usual mainstay, Show TuFli are great on each of their tracks. To be honest, Crooked I is more than great, he's straight up nasty with his verse on "Tears of Fire". In general, kid does everything right.

It's no The Pink Lavalamp, I could tell that from the start. As any who have glanced at my blogs know, that album is just a part of me at this point and is a top 3 contender for album of the decade. I say that a lot, and I don't think I've mentioned them, so maybe some people are like, what the hell are the other two albums?? Below the Heavens by Blu and Food & Liquor by Lupe Fiasco.

Anyway, this album stands on its own merits and is among my favorites of 2009.

Best Songs:

4. Barbara Walters

3. Tears of Fire

2. Reminder

1. Long Socks

Final Grade: 49/55= 89.1%

One Reason Why I Despise The Mainstream

This isn't just a generic, "Oh I hate what everyone else likes and only like what few like" rant. This is something that is akin to a personal wound being inflicted on me, as stupid as that sounds.

Great Rapper Gets Cut, Yet Garbage Remains

Well, I guess it was only a matter of time. I mentioned a couple of blogs ago about how Charles Hamilton has basically disappeared from the net for the last few months and that certain things probably played huge roles in this. These things probably factored in heavily in Interscope Records' decision to sever ties with him. The dude caught so much heat for saying that he felt that he was spiritually guided by the great late J Dilla in the making of his album, This Perfect Life (finally up for download today; not as good as The Pink Lavalamp but dope as always). Everyone says they are inspired by Dilla, this dude takes it a little further and everyone lose their sh*t and says he is a disrespectful punk. Even Dilla's mom made lame comments about him.

Getting punched by an ex-girlfriend. The video is posted at the end of that article. Again, what was he supposed to do? Hit her back? She basically challenges him to a battle rap...yea, he puts some of their business out there, but anything goes, that's what you unofficially agree to by stepping into the circle. Dirty little hood rat. 50 Cent mentions something like "if dude hit her back, he would get his ass beat by a bunch of ninjas"(censored lawl). Wow, listen to this kid's music. He makes comments and stuff, but in general, this dude loves women. Oh well, what else can you expect from a mainstream tool like 50 Cent...

Soulja Boy. Who the hell wants to be compared to Soulja Boy? I would take greater offense than Charles did. Wow, they're label mates. Seriously Interscope, who gives a f*ck? Keep appealing to the young morons. Forget about promoting actual good, creative music. Poor Soulja Boy, who Charles absolutely killed on a track called Harlem. I swear, if I was on the Board of Directors at Interscope Records, I would get my ass canned in protest of this move or resign in fury.

I'm a dude, but I literally love Charles Hamilton. For realz. Call me gay but I'm that passionate about hip-hop and it bothers the hell out of me that a tremendous talent like this isn't going to get the exposure he deserves, when so much garbage succeeds mainstream wise. I was pissed but really wasn't into making this blog until I started reading the comments under that article. I have no problem with people who try some of his music and say it's not for them. I have a problem with fools who don't listen to him or say who is CH and that he is wack for no reason. Which was a lot of the comments. Apparently, he is way more underrated and underappreciated than I thought.

I hope this fuels his fire even more and that he succeeds independently. I need more CH music. You'll never read this ish, but never change your Keep making true hip-hop bro, there's always going to be a more intelligent crowd copping whatever you put out.

I'm out. I'll leave you with another great Hamilton track that is pretty appropriate at this moment: Stay On Your Level

"I gotta watch what I say about this n*gga, cuz you afraid of this b*tch n*gga"

An Experimental Fusion Of Hip-Hop And Live Jazz

So states the opening to the rapper Guru's first Jazzmatazz album. Since actually listening to the first 2 albums of this current four part series after buying them last week, I've listened to little else (always some Hamilton though haha).

Hip-hop has its roots in jazz, so the project seems only natural. Guru is among my top 5 emcees ever; he is so underrated that it's not even funny. That was the main reason I got these, along with being interested to hear him over some jazz. I'm not familar with jazz itself at all, but the popular opinion about the artists appearing on this album seems to be that they are some extremely credible jazz musicians that give people who are into jazz a reason to look at the titled quote and not snort in disbelief.

Both records are very soulful and moving. Guru is always on point lyrically and unlike other people, I find his smooth and laid back voice appealing, expecially over these jazz beats. To put it simply, the saxophones, trumpets, flutes, piano, etc are incredible to listen to. In general, I get really excited all the time about lots of new hip-hop I listen to, but I have to stress that my mind was truly blown listening to these albums. I listened to the first one first obviously and bumped it for a few days before trying the second...which is somehow even better! I really don't know what else to say since I'm a complete noob when it comes to jazz. I just know that these albums could have opened the gate for me to start exploring the genre.

At the moment, I'm definitely leaning towards volume 2 making an appearance somewhere in my favorites list.

Top 5 Favorite Songs (both albums). It took longer to whittle this list down to a handful than it did making the whole damn blog.

5. Transit Ride

4. Sights In The City

3. For You

2. Skit B (Alot On My Mind)/Revelation

1. Insert B (The Real Deal)/Nobody Knows

Final Grades (points earned out of 5/total points possible *total tracks times 5 stars*)

Jazzmatazz, Vol. 1- 55/60= 91.7%

Jazzmatazz, Vol. 2: The New Reality- 94/100= 94.0%

True hip-hop.

The Blueprint 3 (2009) - Jay-Z

Ok, first off, this site is beyond annoying when trying to post a picture. I have a problem every time, but I just gave up with this one. Not to mention when I post it, a ton of words are suddenly merged together so I have to edit the hell out of the thing. On to the blog:

I'm not the biggest Jay-Z fan in the world. I only own about half of his albums and only three are either c.l.a.s.s.i.c. or excellent to me (Reasonable Doubt, The Blueprint, and The Black Album). I think he is great and when he is on, he is obviously one of the greats. He puts out consistently entertaining music, but on the whole, I don't tend to bump his stuff all the time. I wasn't too interested in The Blueprint 3. I vividly remember hearing the first single, "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)", but that was more due to laying in bed with that ex-special someone...anyway, the song had a decent beat, but I was pretty underwhelmed. I somehow ignored the other single, "Run This Town", until the actual album.

When I went to Newbury Comics for the sole intention of getting the third season of the Batman animated series, I did my natural perusing of the hip-hop section. Much to my delight, the first two Jazzmatazz albums by Guru were in stock so I copped those. My eyes fell on The Blueprint 3 and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. I was going to hold off because I could have gotten them from a friend, but curiosity overcame me, so I added those two to the mix, especially since they didn't have Batman.

Overall, the album is suprisingly solid. I had an awful feeling it was going to be garbage, but I was wrong. I really wasn't expecting this. Seeing as how I've barely listened to American Gangster since that came out, bumping this album for the last few days is a big step up for Jay-Z in my eyes. I don't think BP3 has any bad songs, but on the flip side, it also doesn't have a c.l.a.s.s.i.c. track anywhere on it. This can change over time, I'm known to do this. But even the highly touted "Empire State Of Mind" isn't a five star track in my eyes. Very good, but just not on that level. What seems to be the usual case, the album starts off pretty good, but loses a bit of steam near the end before recovering with the final track, "Forever Young", which has Jay sampling Alphaville's "Forever Young". "Run This Town" is actually quite good, I like it a lot, Jay and Kayne both come great on this track and Rihanna's beautiful vocals arefar from the irritating screech that some have said, more like perfect in my opinion. Yes, I like a mainstream single. The world has ended, lol. But as I said, the overall album is solid, very listenable, and has Jay-Z showcasing his talents as always.

Favorite Songs:

4. Run This Town

3. Forever Young

2. Empire State Of Mind

1. Already Home

I was thinking of a new way to grade albums. Since I rate everything I listen to in iTunes, I figured why not add up how many stars I gave to the songs and divide by the number of tracks. BP3's 15 songs scored 54 points which is a 3.6/5 or 7.2/10 which is a C-. For this album at least, it seems about right. Nothing horrible, nothing amazing. Enjoyable and enough there to make it worth it. I can be pretty forgiving with albums over time though. The more I listen, the more I seem to like it. I wouldn't be suprised to see my score move up a whole grade if I keep revisiting particular tracks in the future.

Where does this rank in the Blueprint trilogy? It's a tough call. The first is obviously the best, c.l.a.s.s.i.c. album in my opinion. The second, if Jay cut half of the material and didn't release it as a double album, that would have been superb. But it wasn't. BP2 has a handful of legitimate favorites of mine like "Hovi Baby", "The Watcher 2", "I Did It My Way", and "Blueprint 2" just to name a few. But so much of the album is bogged down by extremely average garbage. Blueprint 3 is way more consistent. All the songs I listed for BP2 are songs I like more than anything on BP3, but I can actually listen to all of I guess I got to put it in the middle of the trilogy.

Final Grade: C-