Hear Me Out: What You Should be Listening to This Month (December Edition)

December is a big month for hip-hop releases. While the weather drops and the snow beings to fall, our favourite artists are releasing some fire music. If you are having trouble finding a Christmas gift for a loved one or hip-hop head, there is something for everyone on this list.

War & Leisure – Miguel (Dec. 1)

I’m not gonna lie, I have a huge crush on Miguel. How can you not? His sultry tones can sing me right to sleep – preferably in his arms. War & Leisure dropped at the top of this month which gives us the perfect closure for 2017. Miguel describes War & Leisure as amindful celebration” that plays upon the relationship between music and politics.

Rubba Band Business: The Album – Juicy J (Dec. 8th)

Juicy J is about to drop his forthcoming album, Rubba Band Business: The Album with a star-studded line-up. Artists such as A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa, Ty Dolla $ign, Offset, Travis Scott, Denzel Curry, are featured on this anticipated album.

Double Or Nothing – Big Sean & Metro Boomin (Dec. 8th)

Metro Boomin has another album worth celebrating under his belt with Double Or Nothing. This collab with Big Sean has us on our toes, with the only track released thus far is Pull Up N Wreck with 21 Savage. The album is said to feature artists like Future, Eminem and Jeremih.

No_One Ever Really Dies – N.E.R.D – (Dec. 15th)

Lemon is one of my top 3 favourite songs from 2017. Rihanna raps and that’s all I need to say. We can only imagine the features that Pharrell has cooked up for this album, we already know of Kendrick Lamar having his turn on a song called “Don’t Don’t Do It.” This album is going to be one for the ages, so you better get your wallet ready.

Revival – Eminem (Dec. 15th)

Eminem’s ninth studio album, Revival drops this month and dropped his single, Walk on Water, with Beyoncé at the helm. Along with Queen B, there are a lot of pop stars featured on the album such as, Ed Sheeran, Kehlani, Alicia Keys, and Skylar Grey.

The Beautiful & Damned – G-Eazy (Dec. 15th)

The Beautiful & Damned will be released along with a short film. The album is said to be about the two sides of G-Eazy’s life – a double album displaying both sides. Like most of G-Eazy’s albums, relevant themes are sex, drugs, & rock n’ roll.

Saturation III – Brockhampton (Dec. 15th)

Saturation III will be the third album the Brockhampton releases this year. This boyband is on a whirl after releasing multiple albums, their American Boyband show on Viceland and selling out multiple merch launches of quality clothing. I can’t wait to see what they get up to in 2018 after taking 2017 as their own.

King Capital – Capital STEEZ (Dec. 23rd)

Back in July, Joey Bada$$ revealed that King Capital, Capital STEEZ posthumous album will be released this month. Capital STEEZ took his own life back in 2012 and the album will be released five years after his death. Click here to learn more about the rapper and his story.

SPECIAL MENTIONS

A lot of music has been teased to have a release date by the end of this year by some pretty major artists. Although we don’t have any specific dates to push you towards, here are some of the examples of work that may drop without warning before 2018:

  1. Travis Scott and Quavo collaborative album: Quavo has teased about the release of this project recently with Montreality. The rapper mentions that he has a lot of work under his belt with this project but he doesn’t have a confirmed release date to share with the fans.

  2. A$AP Rocky: The follow up to At.Long.Last.A$AP is addressed as “coming soon.” A$AP Rocky revealed the news to GQ Style back in October.

  3. Lil Yachty – Lil Boat 2: Back in August, Yachty posted an IG video hinting at a sequel to his most popular mixtape.

  4. Kid Cudi (prod. by Kanye West): It has been reported by Cudi that he is working on an album that will exclusively be produced by Kanye West. Following their brief turmoil the past year, the two have seemingly rekindled and are cooking up something magical in the studio. No word on when that release will be as its rumoured to be dropped without warning.

Continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Holiday Playlist Suggestions to Make Sure Your Party Doesn’t Totally Suck

The Holidays are stressful. Did you get the right presents for your extended family and all their annoying children? Will Diana from Accounting like the scarf you got her for Secret Santa? Is your new boo going to bail before your family Christmas party even though they promised they’re coming? We hear you, and we understand.

If it’s your turn to DJ the office holiday party, or if you are deciding to throw a festive bash, you’ve come to the right place. While you stress about decorations, drinks, and food, we’ve got your back with some playlist suggestions to keep you Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.

Mariah Carey – All I Want For Christmas Is You

I couldn’t start off this list without putting the Queen of Christmas herself at the top. I’ve heard a rumour that Mariah Carey disappears for most of the year until we reach the Holidays, when she emerges stronger than ever, whistle tones and all.

The Jackson 5 – Christmas Album

Add a little Motown into your playlist with The Jackson 5 holiday album. This album plays all the classics that we know and love with flair.

Ariana Grande – Christmas & Chill Album

Queen of pop, Ariana Grande, brings us perhaps the most lit Christmas album ever. This album is so good that you can listen to it all year round but it will especially have your party guests throwing it back on the dance floor during the holidays.

*NSYNC – Home For Christmas

Let’s take it back to the ’90s. If you miss JT’s ramen noodle looking hair as much as I do, then you’re going to want to revisit *NSYNC’S Home For Christmas album. This album is certified platinum and will have everybody up on their feet.

TLC – Sleigh Ride

There’s nothing quite like ’90s Christmas R&B. TLC is iconic and of course we are going to do all we can to include it in this list. This tune is an underrated Christmas classic.

Sia – Everyday Is Christmas

Sia has released her first Christmas album and it shouldn’t go unnoticed. This album includes some fun, up-tempo songs, and a few savoury ballads that will be the perfect background noise.

 

Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas

I do whatever I can to include Destiny’s Child into many areas of my life. This throwback album will be the perfect start to your Christmas season.

RUN-DMC – Christmas In Hollis

This song is a Christmas classic. It would be impossible to create a holiday party playlist without including RUN-DMC.

Continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

A Conversation with Geoff Pevere on Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival

The scope of conversations on mental health and mental wellness is widening. I’m thankful for that. It’s hard to find an outlet where one can share their experiences safely and be met with understanding. A real understanding, not just an apologetic comment along the lines of ‘sorry you’re having a rough time right now. Understanding from people who have firsthand experiences to match your own.

The Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival is the first mental health film festival of its kind with the largest reach in the world. This is something Toronto can be proud of. We had the opportunity to chat with Geoff Pevere, the festival programmer, to get a glimpse of what to expect in this years line-up.

Kimberley Drapack: You are celebrating 25 years. What can we expect from this year’s festival?

Geoff Pevere: We’re sticking to the formula that has worked for us over the years which is presenting films from around the world that provide an opportunity for people to talk about their own experience or people that they know and to approach the subject of mental health, recovery and addiction from as many different angles as possible. It’s really important that the films are not just shown on their own but as an opportunity for people to discuss their own experience.

We have a number of different discussions and events taking place which hopefully will only enhance people’s appreciation of the films we’re showing.

K: Rendezvous is the first and largest mental health film festival in the world. Tell us more about that.

GP: The festival began 25 years ago and it was the iniative of Workman Arts, which is 30 years old. It was founded by two nurses two were working CAMH at the time. When they witnessed people, who had mental health issues, and when they had the opportunity to be as creative as they wanted to be and in the way they wanted to be, it was something that was meaningful and helpful to them. It helped them to express themselves. The idea came up to start the film festival and we gathered films across the world, documentaries, short film that document mental health issues. It was the first event of its kind. It is the oldest event of its kind.

It’s something that Toronto should be way prouder of, given the fact that the mental health conversation is wider as it’s ever been, you think they would credit that we were there first. Rendezvous is a terrific festival. Unlike any of the other film festivals that take place in Toronto because it has such a tight focus and it can have such a personal impact.

K: I think often people find it difficult to speak about mental illness. But I think we’re doing a lot better now in opening up conversations so that people can share their experiences.

GP: Almost all mental health issues share a feeling on the part of the person who is experience it that they are alone. That nobody understands them and that they are isolated. The most important thing you can do to open up conversation and make people feel comfortable talking about the films and to those who are close to them.

We show terrific films, but most importantly, we give people the opportunity of taking the experience of watching the film and applying it to their own lives. We hope they leave there with a stronger sense that there are other people going through what they are around the world, everyday.

K: It brings a community aspect to it that they wouldn’t necessarily find at most places.

GP: What a lot of film festivals do is focus on the films, which is understandable, but a lot of them are very specific in terms of their audience and their outreach. For example, you have indigenous film festivals, LGBT film festivals, etc. This is one that is different because the focus is on these conversations and the films are important because they provide the opportunity. These are films that are designed to stimulate conversation, and that is what gives Rendezvous its distinction.

It’s sometimes challenging to make your presence and your identity known in a city that is crowded with events and film festivals. Getting the message out about what we’re doing and why it’s different is hard. There are people who will roll their eyes or turn away, simply because of the words, “mental health.” They think it’s going to be heavy, they think it’s going to be dark, and yes, some are, but I would argue that they all provide a compelling experience that will allow people to reflect on their own and share it with people that are there.

K: How do you stay true to the story without over-sensationalizing the plot?

GP: We try to reflect as many perspectives as possible, but if I’m looking at something which I feel is simply taking advantage of someone’s mental health, either for the occasion of comedy, or horror, and people are not being treated in a way that helps us understand them, then we are looking at an over sensationalizing of the plot.

Our films do not exploit their subjects, but are curious about their subjects and they allow their subjects to be considered as objectively as possible. We try to steer clear of the sensationalizing because as great as these movies have been about opening up our understanding of mental health issues, in many cases, what they have done is reinforce a stigma. The idea that crazy people should be locked away, and psychotic people are all serial killers – all those things are absolutely incorrect and unfortunately, they are presumptions you see still a lot in film.

K: What criteria are you looking for when choosing a film for the festival?

GP: The process begins by going to the major festivals early in the year and seeing what they’re showing. Festivals like Sundance, Berlin, and South by Southwest, is usually where we begin to look for things. We also have contacts with a lot of distributors around the world who we have worked with, and we send out notifications to them that we are looking for things.

We also have an open submission policy. In the last two years, I’d say that we’ve had 250 films that were submitted from around the world. We try to watch as many as we can, but we don’t watch everything because if it is in the category of pure sensationalism, we’re not interested, or if it’s not something that looks like it will generate a terribly interesting conversation.

I’m looking for films that, when you put them all together in the context of a single festival, provide the most opportunity to see the way the world is thinking about mental health at the moment.

You will find films in our festival from Bulgaria, England, Turkey, Iran, Australia. I’m looking for a balanced program, something that is well represented, and films that people are going to react to and want to discuss afterwards.

K: You have a really wide scope. Is there a short time period in which you need to produce your line-up?

GP: We arrive at the first draft of the line-up in late July. From April to July I am mostly just looking at images of mental health issues. I’m laughing because people always ask me, “do you worry about what the effects of might be on you?”

The fact is, it’s a good question, but I can get so excited and stimulated by something I recognize as saying something that either hasn’t been said before or is being said in an interesting way. That to me is really thrilling to see. That, contributing to my own stability, which is precarious at the best of times, but mostly, I’m looking for things that are challenging and that are exciting.

The impact on me watching these films makes me think: maybe I’m crazy, but it makes me want to see more.

K: Tell us about the opening film, Mad to be Normal. Why was this given the top spot?

GP: I was curious when I saw Mad to be Normal because it is a portrait of a few years in the life of the guy who was known as the head of the “anti-psychiatry” movement in the 1960’s. His name was R.D. Lang, and was really well known. He was notorious in London for a facility he ran which was a combination of a psychiatric hospital and commune. He mostly kept patients there who were suffering from schizophrenia. He refused to medicate them and restrict what they were doing and encouraged them to practice art. As a result of this he became extremely controversial and shut out by the psychiatric community. The interesting thing is, that a lot of what R.D. Lang was trying to point out about schizophrenia, which is not a disease that is manifested the same way in any two patients, and that you simply can’t medicate people because in many cases it means that people are verging on catatonic.

R.D. Lang is played in the film by David Tennant, a Scottish actor known from Jessica Jones and Dr. Who. It’s interesting because it’s a portrait of psychiatric practice in the past that was considered radical that now looks extremely compelling and keys in with the ways people are thinking today about mental illnesses like schizophrenia.

It has some big movie stars, David Tennant and Elizabeth Moss, and for our opening night, it feels like the perfect opportunity. The film maker, Robert Mullen, who knew R.D. Lang, is going to be joining us for a conversation.

K: What is your criteria for what shows will open and close the festival? Is there a harder slot to fill?

GP: With both opening and closing night, you tend to get more people who are not normally going to the festival and seeing other films, not exclusively. These events tend to bring people out because they are opening and closing night events. We try to present films that are accessible and interesting to general audiences as possible.

The closing night film this year is a really touching personal movement by a film maker who knew a young man who committed suicide when he was in high school because he was suffering from schizophrenia. He felt alone and didn’t know what to do. Any attempts to integrate him or make him feel belonging in society we’re not something that worked for this child. The connection is with the film maker who knew him and the story will suggest to people a lot of their own personal experiences from the past.

The film, Holden On, stimulates discussion and conversation but is extremely compelling and is the kind of movie that doesn’t require a ton of preparation or experience to understand or enjoy it.

K: There is a strong presence of female filmmakers in the program. Is that important to you when you’re trying to diversify the lineup?

GP: We of course are looking for films that represent perspectives and points of view that are underrepresented. Having said that, it wasn’t a plan for the films to have as many women directors or as many women subjects as we found this particular year. It just seems to be that there is a surge in filmmaking activity made by women, dealing with mental health issues. This is really interesting and shows that the conversation is opening up. For years and years, a woman’s mental health experience was exclusively talked about largely by the psychiatric community by male doctors, and largely influenced by Sigmund Freud.

All of these things are now up for grabs and changing and it’s so exciting to see these films. I’m proud to say that it’s not something we went looking for, but there just happened to be so many that were so good.

K: What can we expect from the short films within the line-up?

GP: Either shorts will work as an introduction to features, or in some cases, you see a collection of short films all dealing with the same subject and you realize that if you put these films together, they themselves will make an interesting program.

We have a program that is called Women on the Verge, which is 5 different films about women and made by women that deal with mental health experience. There is another program called Frontiers, which are documentaries from different countries that are all exploring the idea of alternative treatments.

If the short films seem to lend themselves to a designated program, we will do so accordingly. Another thing we’re doing this year, before most of the films, is were going to be showing films made by the individuals of Workman Arts, which is an organization that consists of people with mental health experience creating art. We’re proud to show those short films throughout the festival as part of the 30th anniversary.

It’s frustrating, but it’s also a good problem to have, that the last 3 years I have been doing this, I have more films that I want to show then I have room to show. This is one of the most exciting areas of filmmaking right now.

K: Is there anything you’d like me to include that we haven’t touched on yet?

GP: I would encourage people to go to the website, www.rendezvouswithmadness.ca, take a look at the program and please come down to 651 Dufferin and take it in. If you are curious about any of this or are looking for good films, or if you suspect there is something in the film that pertains to your own experience, or trying to understand something, by all means, come down. We probably have something for you.

Hear me out: What You Should Be Listening to this Month

We’re now into November. I know, I can’t believe it either. Love to my Sagittarius babies, but what is the point of this month? Anyway, we press on.

I know you babies have been waiting patiently for something to listen to. I’m here to help out. I compiled a list of some pretty dope albums coming out this month that I’m and, therefore, you should also be, excited for! All jokes aside, the artists listed below have some great discographies, so you’re gonna wanna see what they’re working on now.

SAM SMITH — THE THRILL OF IT ALL (NOV, 3 2017)

Prepare your tissues and set a lock on your phone to make sure you are unable to text your exes. Sam Smith’s sophomore album is set to put us all in our November blues, but everyone needs a good cry now and then. It’s been 3 years since Smith’s debut, In the Lonely Hour, which sold over 24 million copies worldwide. Smith gave us a sneak-peak of what to expect with this album in his Billboard interview:

“I went through, like, this vortex, came out, I feel like I’ve rebuilt myself as a stronger thing and I’m just gonna go into the vortex again,” he says in a preview that features a montage of studio sessions. “I wasn’t trying to make a big pop record when I made this album. I was actually just trying to make something personal and like a diary.”

YUNG LEAN — STRANGER (NOV, 10 2017)

Stranger will be Yung Lean’s third official album since his first mixtape in 2013. This Swedish rapper has his stories to share in his relatively short lifetime. Read more in his interview with the Fader. Along with his new album, Yung Lean will head out on a European tour. You can find the details here. 

T-PAIN — OBLIVION (NOV, 17 2017)

T-Pain hasn’t released an official album since his 2011 RevolverOf course, I can’t forget the legendary mixtape, T-Wayne that T-Pain dropped on Soundcloud this year featuring Lil Wayne, as it was a throwback from their collaborative efforts in 2009. This release had everyone nostalgic for that era of rap music and excited to be hearing more from T-Pain in general. Judging from this hilarious exchange between T-Pain and a passenger on an airplane, he has to have something pretty great cooking if he’s going that hard in his airline seat:

TALIB KWELI — RADIO SILENCE (NOV, 17 2017)

Talib Kweli’s latest project, Radio Silence, is set to come out in a few short weeks and we’re so excited. Kweli collaborated with some really great producers like Kaytranada and The Alchemist. Not only is this album stacked with these noteworthy producers, it also has some amazing features such as Anderson .Paak, Jay Electronica, and BJ The Chicago Kid. This will be Kweli’s eighth studio album with a release party at the Brooklyn Bowl on November 16th.

CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG — REST (NOV, 17 2017)

Charlotte Gainsbourg is set to release her first album in seven years. Rest features the collaborative efforts of some pretty prominent household names such as Paul McCartney, Owen Pallett, Connan Mockasin, and Daft Punk’s Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Gainsbourg has never wrote her own lyrics before, and this album marks the first time she has completed that task.

Continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Toronto Exhibitions to Check Out

As an individual who is avidly pursuing the most recent exhibitions Toronto has to offer, I rarely fall short of galleries to check out. Toronto’s art scene is bustling and vibrant with vivid histories and biographies for audiences to discover. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend that’s a little different than heading to your local watering hole, take a peek around the city and you’d be surprised at what you can find.

We put together a little list to get you on the right track. Scroll down to see what’s going on in your city.

Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters 

On now – January 7, 2018 — Who wouldn’t want to get into the mind of Guillermo del Toro and peer into his “cabinet of curiosities?” On now at the AGO, At Home gives the viewer an insight to the creative process behind his most menacing characters. The exhibit is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Art.

“To find beauty in the profane. To elevate the banal. To be moved by genre. These things are vital for my storytelling,” says Guillermo del Toro. “This exhibition presents a small fraction of the things that have moved me, inspired me, and consoled me as I transit through life.”

Cindy Crawford by Marco Glaviano

On now – November 2, 2017 — Located in the heart of Toronto’s trendy Yorkville district, Izzy Gallery is once again ready to impress with their current exhibit. The beautiful Cindy Crawford appears almost life-like through Marco Glaviano’s extraordinary shots. In the 1980’s, Glaviano played a role in developing and supporting the supermodel phenomenon, photographing many swimsuit calendars of these famous ladies.

The Faraway Nearby: Photographs of Canada from The New York Times Photo Archive

Ryerson Image Centre/ ryersonimagecentre.ca

On now – December 10, 2017 — On now in the Main Gallery at the Ryerson Image Centre, The Faraway Nearby features photographs of Canadian subject matter from the New York Times Photo Archive.  This exhibition features the diverse landscapes across Canada with a spotlight on sports heroes, important Canadian figures, while providing an overview of our national experience. The exhibit was made by Chris Bratty in celebration of Canada’s 150.

Standing Tall: The Curious History of Men in Heels

Bata Shoe Museum/ thebatashoemuseum.ca

On now – November 21, 2017 — The Bata Shoe Museum brings forward an interesting history that challenges our preconceived notions of who wears high heels. From the 1600’s, until today, Standing Tall brings forward an interesting timeline of men’s heeled footwear.

Amalia Pica: Ears to Speak Of   

The Power Plant/ thepowerplant.org

On now – December 31, 2017 — Located at Toronto’s Harbourfront, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery features a Amalia Pica’s Ears to Speak Of, a new installation that “continues her engagement with the failures and impossibilities of communication and obsolete technologies.” The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication, co-produced by The Power Plant and the IMA Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, where Amalia Pica will present a solo exhibition from 18 November 2017—10 March 2018.

Continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.