Prints in Spring/Summer ’15 Looks

Just like the early 90s, with neon and African inspired prints being the rage; this season is seeing a return of prints in many designer lines. Polo Ralph Lauren has brought some southwestern and nautical themed all over print shirts, pants and jackets for this year, and I’ve seen some pieces from Tommy as well. Just like everything, fashion is cyclical…so what goes around, comes around.

 

All over print shirts are easy to match up with just about anything, but can be dressed down to go with jeans, chinos, or shorts and some sneakers. If you work in an office, all over print shirts can easily be paired with a pair of dress pants and a wild pair of socks to set it off. Easy to rock, easy to look at, and they make you stand out in a crowd of bland single color shirts.

There’s always a clean selection of vintage all over prints in our shop, in numerous sizes, check the slideshow above for some choices we have available. But, if you wanted to buy new, you now have some options at your local department store as well.

Review: Smuttynose Barleywine Ale

smuttynose-barelywine-ale

Smuttynose has some interesting brews, as well as very nice, sometimes hilarious labels, so in the neighborhood craft brew bodega they definitely stand out from the pack. Barleywine style ales are usually a heavy variety of beer, high ABV, malty flavor; hints of caramels maybe even dryness like a dark chocolate bar in certain varieties.

When poured, dark amber in color, with nice, thick, and creamy foam head (that’s not suggestive). Caramel malts are smelled before the first sip. Once that first sip hits the tongue it’s pretty damn impressive, holds true to the “Big Beer” series moniker attached. The front is a big blast of malt, but at the end of the taste, there is a distinct bitterness from the hops. I like the drastic taste differences with this combination of malt and hops flavors, it’s like pouring salt on watermelon; either you like it or you don’t. The combo of hops/malt works better here than in the last Barleywine I reviewed, as in the case of Smuttynose, their hops addition is just used to add a bite at the back of the flavor but not overpowering like the Stone Old Guardian.

Initially, I thought the alcohol flavor was not hidden well in the beer though, but then I read that it is suggested to age a bit, so the alcohol “mellows out”….man. So, I’m going to rate the beer, but let’s just say the jury is still out for a month or so, as I’m going to age a bottle and revisit this.

The Facts:
Beer: Barleywine Ale
Brewer: Smuttynose Brewing Company
Brewed in: Hampton, New Hampshire, USA
ABV: 11.6%
Rating: 7.25 of 10
Price: $6.99 per 22oz bottle

Vintage #WCW Alyssa Milano

#WCW Alyssa Milano



Ms. Milano was fire since “Who’s the Boss” days, but she’s still got it. Some of the young cats may know her from “Charmed,” (no wait, no one watched that) but either way she’s been a dream since the 80s, check the slideshow above for more.

NCAA Hoops Beef

The NCAA gets a lot of praise during March. Frankly, I am not going to help give them a handjob, I’ll leave that to ESPN and Turner. Between recruiting violations, recruiting 12 year olds, and the series of “one and done” players, NCAA Basketball is so damn hard to watch. When most of the action occurs off the court, there’s a problem.

2015 NCAA Mens Basketball Tournament

Watching the “I Hate Christian Laettner” documentary, I was reminded that we no longer will have a dynasty like the Fab5 in college hoops again. With players jumping into programs for just one season, it’s hard to get behind a team anymore. Of course we will always have the fans who LOVE their local team (because places like Kansas, Arkansas, and many other rural states without a big city have ZERO pro team in any sport, so what the hell else will they watch?) and alumni who support their particular schools, but I think these examples are the minority. People are now following a player they like, and after one season in college, that player is in the NBA, and eligible to be on a “fantasy team.” If the NCAA and NBA don’t come together to figure out a better way to develop these players, the NBA D-league is going to have to add expansion teams, because there are going to be a lot of shitty players out there.

You now have players turning to Europe to gain some polish, instead of spending time in college. Granted, Euro teams pay these kids and colleges don’t pay, so I don’t blame them for going abroad, but that just shows how flawed this system is. Furthermore, the news ticker has more lowlights than highlights; all we see about college ball anymore is recruiting violations, Lebron’s young son being recruited before high school, or some sort of booster paying players with the occasional arrest of a player. I don’t recall seeing any awesome dunks, big plays or anything like that on Sportscenter, really the only highlights are the lucky buzzer beaters that catapult a team into the next round of the tourney.

Basically, the game is watered down like a mother fucker. Players are leaving the college ranks underdeveloped and eventually that’s going to totally kill interest in the college game other than during March. This is going to have a carryover into the NBA, so these two organizations need to get together and change the rules about when you can go pro. If there was a 2 year rule as opposed to a one year rule, these players may gain some extra experience, and end up being NBA ready by draft time, instead of some back of the bench turd for 3 years. Something needs to be done before NCAA Basketball is viewed like the WNBA in this country.

Review: Big Sean – Dark Sky Paradise

Big Sean Dark Sky Paradise

Release Date: Feb
Rating: 78*

Dark Sky Paradise. Yeah, pretty apt title considering the general sound of Big Sean’s 3rd studio release. More on that in a minute but first lets start with some background on the Detroit native. Big Sean, at least in my mind, solidified his presence in the hip hop mainstream in 2010 on the Bet Awards Cypher segment. Sharing the mic with Kanye, Common, Pusha T, and CyHi the Prince, Big Sean was arguably the best part of that track. (Unless you’re a Ye dickrider, then Big Sean was 2nd) Before that though, Sean made his presence known in mixtape circles hooking up with Mick Boogie on UNKNOWBIGSEAN. In 2011, the release of Finally Famous, featured some heavyweight talent on the production and vocal sides of the album. A tried and true method in the music business, it’s no question that having that kind of backing would lead to future success. His first two albums achieved top 3 spots on the Billboard 100 while Dark Sky Paradise debuted at 1. So far so good, the dudes definitely got a solid foundation to build a lasting career in the rap game.

As I mentioned in the opening, the sound of this album is definitely dark and serious. Not serious in some kind of political, enlightining, going to learn from this shit-type serious. But more mature. I wasn’t expecting it with the relase of “I Don’t Fuck With You” before the album. I actually went into it thinking that the album was going to be bubblegum and radio friendly. I was pleasantly surprised it wasn’t. The album opens up with Dark Sky, which thankfully wasn’t an intro of some irrelevant dialogue I could do without. This track was a nice solid opening and set the tone for the rest of album… dark, gritty, in your face. There’s also a lot of reflection in the album, reflecting on the fame, relationships, friendships, and the kind of clche shit you’d expect 3 albums in. Track production features the likes of Mike Will Made It, Boi-1da, and DJ Mustard. Additional firepower on the vocal side is brought to you by Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Drake, and John Legend. Again, with talent like that all over the album you’d have to try real hard to fuck up.

I had a hard time picking a track that, I would say, was the best on the album. Most of them were equally enjoyable to listen to. The only real exception would be “Play No Games” feat. Chris Brown and Ty Dolla Sign. I don’t know, I just wasn’t feelin it I guess. Otherwise, the whole album is solid, not 5 star, “holy shit this is unbeliveable ground breaking stuff,” but just consistintaly good throughout; musically and lyrically. Honestly, I prefer an album like that, in constrast to something that has three or four amazing songs punctuated with a bunch of b-side filler and interludes. For the sake of consistency and tradition… my favorite track was Dark Sky. The track did something you don’t see too often. It was really a nice intro-type track that clearly set the tone for the whole album. It served it’s purpose 100%. Coupled with the fact it had 2 nice extended verses done in Big Sean’s signature speed switching flow. For a the best verse though I’ve got to jump to a different track, “All Your Fault” feat. Kanye West. The third verse is a back and forth between Sean and Ye that flows nicely.

Big Sean (Kanye West)
Ho you gotta move quick
(World in my hands, I ain’t gotta loose grip
I don’t like loose pussy or loose lips)
And I done did the impossible a few times, Tom Cruise shit
Ho and I ain’t satisfied bein’ on that top 5 list
(I ain’t satisfied until I’m on that all-time list)
Til everything I spit is all timeless
(My girl on that all fine list)
My life a little luck, a lot of grind
Bitch no maybe ho I gotta make it
(Fuck your nomination, man fuck the world)
I’m repopulatin’, wrap my roley round my waist, yeah time’s a wastin’
(Ni**as want the comma comma combination)
Long as I’m around, it’s gon’ be dot dot dot a lot of waitin’
Got my pinky on her brain while I’m gettin’ brain plottin’ world domination
(People ask me how to make it)
I’m just like “man if you want the crown, bitch you gotta take it”
Straight up

I gotta say that in conclusion I would highly recommend this album. It’s consistant in quality start to finish. It’s a nice progression in the evolution of one of the best MCs out there. It’s packed with A-grade production and aritists. It’s not too deep, but not too simple and bland either. All in all it’s definitely a winner.

*Author’s note: In order to more acurately rate albums, I’m switching to a 100-point scale. I’d argue that it’s more clear and that there can be fractional differences in an albums quality. From production to lyrics, there’s a lot of things that could go right or wrong in 60 or so minutes.

Review: Stone Brewing 2015 Old Guardian Barley Wine Extra Hoppy

A couple notes to start. It is advised to age this beer before drinking, however, my local liquor store had it in a fridge, and I do not like to let a beer get to room temp if it has already been chilled. Second, there is regular version without the “extra hoppy” moniker, and I probably should’ve done a side by side review (which I still may do sometime soon). Anyhow, this is a limited release selection from Stone in their “Odd Year” release series. Usually the odd year releases are a rehashed version of a previously limited beer.

Stone Brewing Old Guardian Barley Wine Extra Hoppy

With a barley wine brew, I’m fully expecting a heavy malted caramel flavor, almost sweet and thick. Indeed, the first sniff after the pour reveals some of that heavy fruit scent you get with a barley wine, however there is a citrus scent from the rarely used Azacca hops; actually a dwarf variety of hops that packs quite a punch. The color is a smooth brown with a super creamy head. Tasting the beer reveals a sweat taste at first, with a dry bitterness at the end from the Azacca no doubt. While I do give Stone credit for branching out and trying something a little weird, I don’t really think this works. I mean, reading about it from their website got me excited to try it, but the hops just shouldn’t be in a barley wine brew, it’s just too out there. I feel like it would be weird to say “try my IPA Smoked Porter,” some things weren’t meant to mix, and barley wine heavy malt type beers with a strong flavored hops just doesn’t mesh well with my palate at least. What’s weird is, the color, the smell, the taste…everything is good until the bite of the hops, and it just doesn’t fly in this type of beer.

This, and the regular Old Guardian Barley Wine (without the extra hops) were released on 2/9/15, so check your local vendors for availability. I’d say either are worth trying, but you be the judge of the crazy that is the Extra Hoppy version. It’s a melding of styles in one bottle, while I commend Stone on always pushing the limits of what beer should be, I just don’t think this one works.

The Facts:
Beer: Old Guardian Barley Wine Extra Hoppy: Odd Year series
Brewer: Stone Brewing Co
Brewed In: Escondido, California, USA
ABV: 11%
Price: $8.69+tax for 22oz Bottle
Rating: 6 of 10

Tarantino Top 5

quentin-terantino-actor-movies

There are many great directors in Hollywood right now. Quentin Tarantino is basically legendary, and in film classes at universities across the country, he and his films will be studied for decades to come. Of any directors that have come about since the early 90s, Tarantino has such a unique and throwback style, that he has mass appeal across generational gaps, I mean I watched Pulp Fiction for the first time as a teen with my stepdad. The characters are verbose, the cinematography is awesome, and the fights/gun fight scenes are violent, bloody, and sometimes so radical they are funny. The following list is my top 5 picks of films that Tarantino has directed, so films he wrote or produced will not be on this list unless he was listed as the director. If you haven’t seen these flicks already, I’d highly recommend all of them.

5: Jackie Brown: Tarantino’s third successful film in the 90s, was basically a neo noir twist on 70s blaxploitation film. Heavily influenced by “Foxy Brown,” Tarantino even casted Pam Grier and Sid Haag from the 70s film to be in Jackie Brown. It’s a heist movie, with Tarantino deep dialogue, featuring: drugs, guns, crooked cops, girls, and of course a double cross.

4: Sin City: The only movie on this list NOT written by Quentin. Sin City started a whole new style in films, basically bringing comics to life and really making the movie feel like you’re reading the comic book. “300” and movies in this style have come since, and that’s thanks to the innovation of Tarantino. The movie itself is a noir drama with a super hero’ish twist. Very little color was used in the film except to accentuate violence. Great flick, solid story, and unique in style, the violence and gore just makes it that much better in my opinion.

3: Kill Bill 1 & 2: Kill Bill saga counts as one movie, that’s how it was originally intended to be released anyway. This is just an awesome revenge drama, done with some SICK fight scenes. This film has the “Crouching Tiger” feel in the fight scenes, but the classic Tarantino writing and character development; the dude can really do no wrong when he’s in the director’s chair. These films exposed a whole new generation to classic Japanese and Chinese films involving the protagonist fighting his/her way to the top to extract a great revenge.

2: Pulp Fiction: I mean….if you need me to say something about this movie, you probably shouldn’t be reading this.

1: Reservoir Dogs: This film put Tarantino on the map, and made him a household name. Heist film, ensemble cast, heavy and sometimes hilarious dialogue, incredible violence, and the propensity to use the word “FUCK” a lot. If you haven’t seen this movie, I won’t give anything away, but shame on you. I still can’t hear “Stuck in The Middle” without thinking about an ear being cut off by Michael Madsen…..oh shit….. late on the spoiler alert.

Review: Bell’s Winter White Ale

Well to be completely honest, Bell’s really haven’t done much for me in the past. I try to be open to different brews from a given company, even if I was not pleased with a past product I may have tried, so with that in mind, time to see what’s up. Since winter is juuuust about done, I figured I could review one more seasonal. I’m expecting a light, and easy to drink beer with “Winter White Ale”, and upon pouring the light amber color and foamy head appear. In reading about this beer, I learned that it was NOT spiced; the scents and flavors are simply from the grain/hops and yeast used.

bells-winter-ale

When poured, there is a citrus smell, even a clove type scent. The beer is cloudy, but according to Bell’s it’s supposed to be that way. Honestly, the pairing of Kush that I had went great with the flavor of this beer, it made for a very fruity flavor. If you’re a smoker I’d advise to try it, the beer some how brings out the green’s flavor on my tongue. Bell’s Winter Ale on its own is a pretty good seasonal brew; there is a hefeweizen like banana after taste that I enjoyed and the clove scent was present in taste as well. The downside on the flavor; I did purchase this in a 16oz can, and there was a pretty persistent iron taste throughout. I wasn’t sure if that was Michigan water they used or the can causing the iron taste, but it was too much, definitely ruined the overall taste.

Overall, this is the best beer I’ve had from Bell’s. I’ve had “Two Hearted Ale” and a stout from them in the past, they just don’t whet my whistle as a whole, but I WOULD recommend “Winter White Ale” to a friend no doubt, especially for a long drinking night as it is a light, pilsnerish type brew. Goes down smooth, and a pretty good overall flavor.

The Facts:
Beer: Winter White Ale
Brewer: Bell’s Brewery
Brewed in: Michigan, USA
ABV: 5.0%
Rating: 6.75 of 10
Price: $1.89 per 16oz Can (Sale)

#Kicksplorer: Tag those kick pics

I started the #Kicksplorer tag a little over a year ago. I hated dealing with the online ordering on sneaker releases, so basically, I drove all over the Midwest to grab my kicks, and therefore I was a Kicksplorer. I never have asked anyone to use the tag until today, I looked at it more of a tip of the cap so to speak, use my tag, and I’ll use yours. Well now that I have a website to showcase friends and fam on, why not do shoutouts this way? #Kicksplorer is now about 7k strong in tags on instagram, lets make it 20k before the end of 2015, so tag your sneaker pics and I’ll make sure to post a s/o at least once a month!

@weselaye chillin’ in aj12s
@weselaye chillin’ in aj12s
@sneakere rocking zoom flight 95’s aka jkidd’s
@sneakere rocking zoom flight 95’s aka jkidd’s
@mudville_sole in the bred aj4
@mudville_sole in the bred aj4
@mariolsj in Motorsport aj6s, this guy was one of my first people I followed on IG, SICK collection!
@mariolsj in Motorsport aj6s, this guy was one of my first people I followed on IG, SICK collection!
@kingxroc in my personal favorite of the lab series, 3lab5
@kingxroc in my personal favorite of the lab series, 3lab5
@hpazzio in Olympic aj6s, one of my first “taggers” from way back!
@hpazzio in Olympic aj6s, one of my first “taggers” from way back!
@fukyokixpix in the kobe8 looking clean.
@fukyokixpix in the kobe8 looking clean.
@aplusarab schoolin’ in the columbia aj11
@aplusarab schoolin’ in the columbia aj11

Everyone, thanks for tagging, keep on tagging, and tell friends to start tagging!

Review: Drake – If Youre Reading This Its Too Late

Drake If you're reading this its too late album art
“Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” 

Release Date: February 13th, 2015

Fire Factor:  fire-rating  fire-rating  fire-rating

Is it REALLY a mixtape? No. It’s a studio album billed as a mixtape. Why did Drake initially bill it as a mixtape? I don’t know for sure. There’s a lot of rumors out there about his desire to release it as mixtape but Cash Money Records wanted to generate some revenue of it. Regardless of the politics, his last few “official mixtapes” have definitely been on par with a studio album. This album (or mixtape) follows suit. Pretty good overall from start to finish. To be totally fair though, I’ve always been a fan of Drake’s hip hop style, just not so much the r&b stuff. The best part of this album is that it is a little more hip hop than the r&b stuff Drake usually splits his time with. What hurts the album though is Drake’s predictability though, more on that in just a sec…
The album opens up with Legend. Legend is another self-affirmation Drake track. Let’s face it, Drake does this shit all the time. Every single album has at least a couple of those tracks. I don’t have anything against it, it’s the backbone of a lot of hip hop. Drake also has a tendency to reminisce a lot. Again, that is evident in most of the tracks on the album, at least in a bar or two. Musically, his harmonization is still the same and redundant throughout the album. Nothing against that either, but dudes style is a little predictable at this point.

The second song on the album, Energy, is my favorite. I have no idea why the second song on every album I reviewed so far always seems to be the strongest… but yup, here too. Energy, beginning to end, is a banger. The beat is very nice and the lyrics, first to last, are great.

I got people talkin’ down, man, like I give a fuck
I bought this one a purse, I bought this one a truck
I bought this one a house, I bought this one a mall
I keep buyin’ shit just make sure you keep track of it all
I got bitches askin’ me about the code for the wifi
So they can talk about they timeline
And show me pictures of they friends
Just to tell me they ain’t really friends
Ex-girl she the female version of me
I got strippers in my life, but they virgins to me
I hear everybody talkin’ ’bout what they gonna be
I got high hopes for you ni**as, we gon’ see
I got money in the courts so all my niggas are free
‘Bout to call your ass a Uber, I got somewhere to be
I hear fairy tales ‘bout how they gon’ run up on me
Well, run up when you see me then and we gon’ see
Source: genius.com

The next track, 10 Bands, jumps in effortlessly. I love when producers do that; when the next song almost continues on the last. Boi-1da and the rest of the production team at OVO are in my opinion, equal in talent to the lyricists/artists. Energy, No Tellin, 6 God, and Used To are the best tracks on the album and in that order. I wouldn’t skip over any of those songs, but I would skip over just about everything else. The latter half of the album is just ok and honestly that’s probably why I didn’t hit the album with a 3.5 grade. I mean it closes out ok with 6pm in New York, with a pretty unique beat but between Used To and that song it’s choked full of mediocre r&b.

Is it a must cop? Maybe for the fan, not for the passive listener. There’s 4 or 5 songs that are, or will, be on heavy rotation on the radio in the next couple of weeks. Honestly, Nothing Was The Same, felt a little better put together. If you were on the fence with that maybe just give the album a preview with a few tracks and decide. If you’re a die hard fan then you’re going to cop it anyway, I’m sure. At the end of the day, it’s still a nice piece of work just not great.