AFC Foes Pats, Chiefs Face Off In A Battle Of East Versus West Monday Night On ESPN

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

This Monday night on ESPN, Alex Smith and the struggling Kansas City Chiefs host Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a battle of East versus West in the AFC.  Monday night’s edition of Monday Night Football on ESPN will be an important one for the Chiefs who are currently winless at home. The Pats on the other hand, are even at 1 – 1 on the road.  Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski said this week that he is looking forward to taking on a more active role with the Pats. So fans can potentially expect to see him in a much more active role Monday night when New England comes to Arrowhead Stadium. And that means the possibility of an even more tough fight for the Chiefs Monday night.

Looking at things on an even deeper level, the Chiefs and Pats are almost even in terms of total points scored so far this season and total yardage, too. And Tom Brady has the second-highest winning percentage on Monday Night Football, with a record of 13 – 5.  That is second only to Payton Manning, whose MNF record sits at 13 – 4.  The Patriots have scored more points than the Chiefs so far this season.  But the Chiefs have outperformed the Patriots in terms of Passing Yards, Rushing Yards, and total yardage overall.  But that lead is minimal at best. Taking all of this into consideration, Monday night’s edition of Monday Night Footabll on ESPN could prove to be a close one for both teams in this battle of the AFC East and AFC West.

Mike Tirico will have the call for Monday night’s game.  He will be joined by Jon Gruden in the booth and Lisa Salters on the sidelines for additional commentary.  Before kickoff of Monday night’s game, the Monday Night Countdown crew will recap all of the action from Sunday’s games.  Suzy Kolber will host the broadcast, which will come live from Arrowhead Stadium.  She will be joined by NFL analysts Trent Dilfer, Ray Lewis, and Steve Young.  Chris Berman will join the broadcast live from ESPN’s headquarters alongside ESPN NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, and Keyshawn Johnson and ESPN NFL Insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.  It all starts at 6pm ET.  Kickoff is scheduled for 8:15pm ET.

The topics slated for Monday night’s edition of Monday Night Countdown are listed below.

  • Gruden’s Grill Session with Alex Smith: Super Bowl-winning coach and MNFanalyst Jon Gruden visits with Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.
  • Rick Reilly – Drew Bledsoe: If not for an injury to then-Patriots starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe in 2001, the Tom Brady era in New England may never have happened.  In his weekly feature, Countdown’sRick Reilly looks at where Bledsoe is now, 13 years after losing his starting job to Brady and eight years since retiring from the NFL.
  • Soundtracks – Best of Brady and Gronk: As the Patriots look to get their offense turned around, Countdownlooks back at the best of in-game audio between quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski in Soundtracks.

Monday Night Football is available to all Spanish-speaking audiences on ESPN Deportes.  And anyone that can’t be near a television Monday night can still catch the game online via WatchESPN.

More information on ESPN’s Monday Night Football is available online at:

Website: http://espn.go.com/nfl.mnf

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MNF

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

NYPD Blue’s Seventh Season Is The Series’ Best So Far

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory

Courtesy: Shout! Factory

Shout! Factory will release the seventh season of ABC’s former hit crime drama NYPD: Blue next Tuesday, September 30th.  The series’ complete seventh season is one more example of just why it remained so popular for so many years.  Regardless of whether one is new to the series or is more familiar with it, all audiences will agree in watching these episodes that the main reason it remained so popular in its seventh season is its writing.  Unlike Dick Wolf’s now mostly defunct Law & Order franchise, the writers behind NYPD: Blue continued to craft wholly original stories that didn’t have to be “ripped from the headlines.”  At the same time, the series’ writers managed to balance that with continued focus on character development and storylines within the department.  And in this season, there are most definitely some interesting developments among the show’s characters.  The ability of the show’s writers to balance these aspects so expertly is key to its continued success in its seventh season.  Just as important to the series’ success in its seventh season is its trademark look.  Even years after it started, audiences will see that it still maintained a certain gritty look that helped to set it apart from its counterpart over on NBC.  Where the season’s writing left off, that look picked up and continued to make suspension of disbelief even easier and in turn the show’s enjoyment all the greater.  The series’ writing and its look both play pivotal roles in the success of NYPD: Blue’s seventh season.  Last but hardly least worth noting is the show’s camera work.  That, too is something that had been established early on in the series’ run.  And much like the writing and look of the series, it too continued to set the series apart from the likes of Law & Order and other crime dramas.  All these factors taken into consideration, NYPD: Blue’s seventh season is one more must have for any fan of this modern classic crime drama.

The seventh season of NYPD: Blue has what proves to be some of the best writing that the series had seen up to this point.  That writing is the core of what makes NYPD Blue just as successful at this point as when the series kicked off so many years ago.  The stories presented throughout the series’ seventh season continued to separate NYPD: Blue apart from its crime drama counterpart on NBC as it didn’t use stories “ripped right from the headlines.”  Rather the stories continued to be wholly original.  Ironically enough, as original as the stories prove to be, the fact that they weren’t just adapted from actual headlines makes them all the more believable.  Case in point is the season premiere episode, “Loogie Nights.”  This episode sees Sipowicz and Sorenson handling a case of a fatal police beating.  Considering recent headlines and the focus today on criminal cops, it’s proof positive as to why the series’ writers didn’t need to take stories from the news and adapt them for their “own” works.  There is also a case of a young woman being gang-raped in another episode.  And a close examination of this season also reveals that while the series’ writers continued to craft wholly original and gripping stories in each episode, it also reflected the real world as there seemed to be more focus on and acceptance of the gay community throughout this season.  That is just this critic’s thought.  But it seems to be more prevalent than in previous seasons of the series.  That in itself is a starting point in another discussion, proving once more just how important the writing is to this series.

The work put into the episodes that make up Season Seven is by itself a major reason for the show’s continued success.  The stories themselves though are just part of what makes the writing work so well.  Audiences that are familiar with this series see even more development among the characters both by themselves and within their daily interactions.  Audiences will especially enjoy seeing Sipowicz’s personal growth as a father and a person after his wife’s death in the series’ sixth season.  He hasn’t lost any of his edge while on the job.  But while spending time with his son, he exhibits so much humanity.  He encourages his son and actually acts like a father should.  It’s enough to make even the hardest person smile and tear up.  Sipowicz’s personal relationship with Sorenson matures, too.  While their working relationship continues to appear as dysfunctional as ever, those that know Sipowicz’s history and personality know that things have actually gotten between the two detectives.  Even more impressive about this is that the writers didn’t let either of these character development factors overtake the rest of the show.  They balanced the character developments expertly with the stories with the end result being another group of stories that by themselves prove once more why the writing by itself makes Season Seven well NYPD: Blue’s best season yet.

The work of the writers behind NYPD: Blue shows exactly why this crime drama remained a hit among viewers even well into its seventh season.  Their work was just part of why the series continued to be so successful seven seasons in.  The work of those responsible for the show’s look deserve their own applause, too in this season.  The gritty, more realistic look of NYPD: Blue established early on in the series’ run is maintained even here in its seventh season.  Much like the show’s writing, that look helped to maintain the series’ separate identity from the other crime dramas that were on television at the time; more specifically from NBC’s Law & Order franchise.  It’s one more element that continued to help maintain suspension of disbelief, and in turn, enjoyment of the series.  It’s one more way in which the series continued to shine even in its seventh season.

The writing behind Season Seven’s episodes goes a long way toward making this season another hit for the series’ fans.  The continued realistic, gritty look and feel of the show also helps in its own way.  Last but not least of all is the series’ camera work.  To some, camera work is something minor.  But those that are more production minded will take note of the show’s short, fast paced shots throughout each episode.  Again, this is something that other crime dramas on TV at the time were not doing.  Such use of the cameras helped to heighten the tension within each episode.   It also helped with the scene transitions, too. Those scene transitions set NYPD: Blue apart from its counterparts just as much as the series writing and its look.  The fact that the series’ heads and those behind the cameras maintained this aspect of the series, too only serves to make Season Seven all the richer and more enjoyable for audiences.  Together with the noted writing and gritty look, it makes Season Seven just as much of a must have for fans of the show as the show’s previous full season sets.

The camera work incorporated into the seventh season of NYPD: Blue is one aspect of the show that had been there from the series’ first season.  It’s nice to see this element of the show maintained so far into the show’s run. The same can be said of the show’s gritty look.  The two elements, along with the wholly original stories and character development come together in this season to make it another collection that any fan of the series will welcome in their collections just as much as the series’ previous season sets.  NYPD: Blue Season Seven will be available next Tuesday, September 30th on DVD.  It can be ordered online via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/tv/crime/nypd-blue-season-seven.  More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Motown 25 Is A Musical Diamond In The Rough

Courtesy:  StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Courtesy: StarVista Entertainment/Time Life Entertainment

Television in America possesses a rich history in its modern era.  The moon landing, JFK’s assassination, The Korean and Vietnam wars, presidential elections, 9/11 and so many other events fill the history of television in its modern era.  While it would seem that many of the most important events broadcast on television in its modern history are memorable because they are tragic, there are positive events recorded in television’s modern history, too.  Some of the most memorable of those more positive events are concerts that have brought people together from all walks of life.  Live Aid, The Concert For New York, and the Beatles’ first ever live performance on American television each make the list of television’s top live broadcast draws.  Next Tuesday, September 30th, Time Life Entertainment and StarVista Entertainment will add another concert to that list of television’s greatest live concerts when they release Motown 25Yesterday-Today-Forever.  Motown 25: Yesterday-Today-Forever was originally broadcast on NBC on May 16th, 1983.  This new three-disc DVD presentation marks the first time since its original VHS release in 1983 that the concert has seen the light of day.  Being that this is the first time in just over three decades that it has been released to the public, this edition of Motown 25YesterdayToday.-Forever is well worth the price and the watch.  The central reason for that is the sheer magnitude of material included in the overall presentation.  Audiences don’t just get the original broadcast.  They get to hear from the concert’s original heads and some of the artists that performed on that night.  Audiences also get a brief yet still insightful history on the famed “Hitsville USA” as a bonus.  Another reason that audiences will enjoy this recording is the overall audio and video mix.  The painstaking efforts undertaken by those charged with restoring the concert’s footage paid off in spades.  Both the audio and video presented here sound and look just as good as the concert’s original broadcast if not better.  Completing the set is its companion booklet.  The booklet includes a brief yet thorough history on the concert and its lasting impact by author Nelson George and Motown 25 EP Suzanne De Passe.  Also included in the companion booklet is a complete guide to the concert’s lineup and bonus material along with full credits listing those behind the show.  The booklet is the final touch to a package that any old school r&b fan and lover of music and music history will appreciate.

Motown 25Yesterday-Today-Forever is one of the most enjoyable live recorded concerts in the modern history of television.  As enjoyable as it proves to be even today, it sadly is not one that most people think of when they think of major broadcast concerts.  That view will hopefully change though, after watching this presentation.  The amount of material included in this three-disc set alone is more than enough reason for viewers to change their view of Motown 25Yesterday-Today-Forever.  That vast amount of material includes not just the original concert recording, but a number of bonuses to go along with it.  Those bonuses include roundtable interviews with both the show’s heads and some of the performers, a brief but still thorough history of Hitsville, USA, and even an in-depth look at the very creation of the concert from pre-production to the finished product.  Audiences will be moved to hear the emotion as the show’s heads discuss their favorite memories from the concert.  There are plenty of laughs along the way.  And there are some tears, too.  The history lesson on Hitsville, USA is especially enjoyable for those that might not be so familiar with the history of the label that started it all for so many legends.  And the insight into the concert’s creation will interest anyone with any interest in television production.  Collectively, those bonuses along with the concert itself more than make Motown 25Yesterday-Today-Forever worth the watch whether one is a lover of old school lover of r&B, a music lover in general or even an individual with a love for music history.  And it is just part of what makes the collection worth the watch, too.  There is far more worth nothing that audiences will appreciate and enjoy just as much.  Another aspect worth noting is the overall quality of the concert’s footage (I.E. its audio and video mix).

The vast amount of material that makes up the body of Motown 25 is by itself more than enough reason for every lover of music.  It is just one part of the whole that makes the viewing experience a joy for audiences within this presentation.  The presentation’s collective audio and video mix adds to the presentation’s enjoyment.  StarVista Entertainment and Time Life Entertainment included a disclaimer before Motown 25’s central concert presentation begins stating the footage may have some minor discrepancies at various points throughout the concert.  But audiences will see that if there are any such discrepancies, they are too minute to see with the naked eye.  Those charged with restoring the footage for its presentation in this set are to be commended for their painstaking efforts as they paid off in spades.  That applies both to the audio and video mix.  Every note comes through crystal clear as does every single camera shot.  Again, kudos go out to those responsible for bringing the footage back to life as it most definitely looks and sounds as good as it must have in its original broadcast.

The work that went into restoring the footage from the Motown 25 concert and the amount of material included in the new upcoming box set collectively makes it such an enjoyable experience for anyone that has any love for the classics and for music history in general.  As enjoyable as they make the experience together, the people at Star Vista and Time Life didn’t stop there.  They also included a companion booklet with the set that adds even more depth to the presentation.  The companion booklet included with this three-disc set features its own look back at the Motown 25 concert from the show’s EP, Suzanne De Passe as well as one from author Nelson George, who wrote The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Dance and Style.  Their shared insights offer a look at the concert that echoes the sentiments shared in the round table discussions that were included as bonus features.  Along with the additional insight and background on the concert, the set’s companion booklet also includes a complete song-by-song guide to the concert and bonus features.  And closing it out is a full listing of the names of those responsible for both the original concert and its re-working for its presentation here.  It finishes off a set that is arguably one more of this year’s best new archived live recordings.

Motown 25: Yesterday-Today-Forever is a diamond in the rough. With its full concert experience, bonus interviews and retrospective roundtable discussions, it offers audiences a concert experience unlike most others released so far this year.  The painstaking efforts on the part of those charged with re-mastering the concert’s original footage make the concert even more enjoyable for audiences.  And the bonus booklet added as a companion to the concert adds even more depth and insight to the show and its importance to the history of both r&b and the music world in whole.  All three factors together make Motown 25: Yesterday-Today-Forever one of this year’s best new archived live recordings and one that every lover of music will enjoy.  It will be available next Tuesday, September 30th and can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Motown-25-Yesterday-Today-Forever/dp/B00L9OPA56/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1411671053&sr=1-1&keywords=motown+25th+anniversary+television+special.  A special limited edition six-disc set and an expanded limited edition six-DVD/eight-CD set online via the Time Life online store at http://timelife.com/products/motown-25-yesterday-today-forever.  More information on these and other releases from Time Life and StarVista is available online at

Website: http://timelife.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TimeLifeUS

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Tesla’s Tenth Album More Than Lives Up To Its Title

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Veteran rock band Tesla has maintained its place in the pantheon of rock for nearly three decades. Throughout the course of that time, so many other bands have come and gone leaving little to no mark on the world.  Tesla meanwhile has continued to create memorable songs on its own terms with each one of its albums, increasing its fan base with each album thanks to that continued display of talent and ingenuity on each record.  The band’s latest album, Simplicity, proves that continued ingenuity once again, providing listeners with songs that perfectly match the album’s title both in terms of its music and its lyrics from start to finish.  The album’s opener, ‘MP3′ is proof of that.  The song uses the seemingly endless stream of technological advances seen each year as the basis for a commentary about how technology has done more harm than good for the world.  The equally socially conscious powerhouse rocker ‘Time Bomb’ proves that this band can still hold its own with today’s younger bands and do so with ease for that matter.  Those that might want something softer but still holding some substance need look no further than the moving but still thought provoking ‘Life is a River.’  It’s one more example of how Simplicity more than lives up to its title with its mix of gentle music and inspiring lyrics.  Each one of the songs noted here proves in its own way why Simplicity lives up to its title.  Each one also proves why Simplicity could be a contender for a spot on this critic’s list of the year’s top new rock records.  And that isn’t to discount the album’s other songs, either.  Every song on this record proves those arguments, too.  Together with the songs that are noted, this album proves to be very much a sleeper hit of a record.

Tesla’s new record Simplicity–its tenth overall full length studio effort–is a sleeper hit of a work.  The album mixes deep and thought provoking lyrics in every one of its fourteen total tracks with music that will have fans both on their feet rocking along at some points, and almost shedding tears of joy in others.  The album’s opener, ‘MP3′ is one example of that balance of substance in its lyrics and music together.  Front man Jeff Keith sings in this socially conscious song, “Reachin’ out to a friend in need/Is more important than a text from a cell phone screen/All these sounds of complication/In the cloud communication/Oh my god it’s taking me/From the phonograph record to the MP3/All the world is overrun with technology/Oh my God it seems to me/We gotta get back to simplicity/It’s plain to see/Rewind now!”  Keith makes no bones here about the topic being raised.  He is saying that technology has done more harm to the world than good.  He isn’t necessarily trying to preach and say technology is bad.  Don’t misinterpret that.  What he is saying is that humans have allowed technology to control their lives and the end result being a drastic depersonalization of people’s relationships on every level.  That Keith would present such a deep concept in such a simple (there’s that word again) makes the song the perfect choice to open this album.  The song’s equally simple and accessible musical backing adds to that argument, too.  Both aspects together make ‘MP3′ just part of the argument as to why Simplicity is an aptly titled release and also one of this year’s sleeper hit records.

Tesla’s members–Jeff Keith (vocals), Frank Hannon (guitar, vocals, piano, bass), Dave Rude (guitar, vocals, bass), Brian Wheat (bass, piano, vocals), and Troy Lucketta (drums and percussion)–prove right from the beginning of this record why it more than lives up to its title and why it is one of the year’s sleeper hits, thanks to ‘MP3.’  The combination of the song’s simple to understand yet still deep lyrics alongside its equally simple, accessible musical backing make it the perfect first statement from the band on this record.  Just as strong of an argument in support of Simplicity is ‘Time Bomb.’  This hard rocker is one part social statement and one part call to arms.  Keith sings in this song, “It’s like the lights are on but nobody’s home/There’s no other choice/Just one solution/So load up your guns/Cause freedom is won/It’s time we’ve begun a revolution/We’re ready to fight to save our lives/And willing to die/Oh no.”  He goes on to sing along with his band mates in the song’s chorus, “Let’s go deep into the fire/Screamin’ hell no we ain’t gonna run/Let’s go united all together/Cuz I know divided we’re done.”  He comes across as saying that Americans have got to put all of this political and other turmoil aside; that there are much more important things that unless we band together, will most certainly take us all down thanks to our division.  Just as with ‘MP3,’ that lyrical and musical simplicity serves once again to prove how much Simplicity lives up to its name in more ways than one.  Even more, it proves once more why this record is one of the year’s sleeper hits within the rock world.

Tesla proves throughout the course of Simplicity’s fourteen total tracks just why it lives up to its name with plenty of hard and hard-hitting songs.  That’s evident in the songs already noted and in the likes of the equally socially conscious ‘Flip Side!’   For all of that heavy lyrical and musical content, Simplicity proves that it can be hard and hard-hitting without actually being hard, too.  Case in point is the moving inspirational song ‘Life is a River.’  This song epitomizes the statement made years ago by Black Label Society front man Zakk Wylde when he noted that a song can be heavy without actually being heavy in terms of its music.  It presents the message that just because someone sees something one way doesn’t necessarily make it so.  As he notes in the song’s second verse, “What you think is just a dog/Is one of my best friends/What you see as sawed up logs/Is the house that I live in/What you call a pile of stones/Is the foundation of my home/And we all know there’s nothing sweet as home sweet home.”  He is saying that everything in life is a matter of perception.  And that one’s perception is never the same as another’s.  From there, he gets to the core of the song, telling those listeners that might be suffering emotionally for whatever reason, their perception of life being worthless is their own perception and that life is so much more beautiful than they think.  He sings, “You’ve been left out once again/Standing in the rain/Now you feel you’ve reached the end/And you just can’t stand the pain/Even though you still remain/You’re God’s creation/This I know/Cuz’ life can be so beautiful.”  The ballad-style song perfectly builds up to that conclusion, making the song’s lyrical content so hard hitting even in its simplicity.  Once again, there is the argument as to Simplicity more than living up to its title.  The lyrics are simple to understand. And the music is so powerful in its own simplicity.  The two elements together make for one more outstanding statement from Tesla on this sleeper hit of a record.  Together with the previously noted songs (and those not noted directly), Tesla’s members have shown that they still have plenty of fire and that they, too have one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable rock records.

Simplicity shows from start to finish just why it more than lives up to its name.  The lyrics and music that make up each of the album’s fourteen tracks are simple in terms of understanding them and understanding what message they are conveying.  Each of the songs on this record are just as enjoyable thanks to their simple yet wonderfully entertaining music.  That combination makes for so much depth and substance.  That’s something that one can rarely say about albums churned out by today’s younger bands and artists.  Keeping that in mind, it proves Simplicity to be one of the year’s most surprisingly enjoyable records and potentially one of the year’s best new rock records.  Simplicity is available in stores and online now. The band currently is scheduled to perform as part of the Monsters of Rock Cruise Miami next spring from April 18th – 22nd.  While fans wait for spring to return, they can keep up with all of the latest tour updates and news from Tesla online at http://www.TESLAtheBand.com.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

 

Hip-Hop Veterans’ Debut Collaboration Makes Its Mark As One Of 2014’s Best

Courtesy:  Delicious Vinyl

Courtesy: Delicious Vinyl

Veteran hip-hop artists Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark released their first ever full-length collaboration earlier this month.  The self-titled release comes three years after the duo released its debut EP Another Day, Another Dollar.  Regardless of whether or not the pair decides to re-issue that EP anytime soon, audiences have in its debut full length studio effort a record that any hip-hop fan will agree is one of this year’s best new hip-hop and rap albums.  The album’s opener ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural) is a solid first impression for audiences.  The album’s lead single ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ is just as impressive with its mix of hip-hop and r&b style.  And then there’s the deeply thought-provoking penultimate piece ‘Godzilla or Gamera.’  Between its simple musical side and its seeming social commentary, it’s one of the album’s true standout points.  Taken alongside the other songs noted here Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark’s debut full length shows that should their primary groups—The Pharcyde and Jurassic 5—not release another album (J5 recently reunited for a tour with Dilated peoples, but not much else seems planned past that) the two artists could easily have a bright future making their own music together.

Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark open their self-titled album solidly with what is a solid first impression in the form of ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural).’  The song comes across as an introduction for Tre and Nu-mark as their own artists.  The pair writes about growing up with music and being focused solely on that one thing.  The song’s musical style makes the song even more enjoyable.  That’s because there are so few hip-hop and rap acts that stylistically do today what Nu-mark and Slimkid3 do musically.  Audiences can hear this same style from the duo’s primary groups and from the likes of Dilated Peoples.  But by and large, it seems that so many rap and hip-hop acts today rely more on pop music and electronica as the basis for the songs that make up their albums.  So hearing this old school style (for lack of better wording) as opposed to so much other material out there makes this song all the more a positive first impression for fans whether or not they are familiar with the work of both artists.

Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-mark make a solid mark with ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural).’  Just as positive a piece is the album’s lead single ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo).’  The song mixes the duo’s well-established hip-hop style with a more r&b style.  The two styles are expertly balanced against the song’s story of a man trying to his best to make his woman happy, but just can’t.  The duo writes in this song, “Listen/Now each and every day/I gave a little bit more/Cause in the game of love/I had the high score/From the dinners and the movies to the things that didn’t do it/But sacrifice is what life is for/She had the big screen/Had that/The diamond ring/Had that…So we kept living like we was on the Cadillac/I wasn’t trippin’ though/I’d never take it back.” This is a man that has tried everything.  But as the chorus states, it was no avail.  The men write, “And I know/And I know/And I wait/And I wait/And she won’t/And she won’t/To this day/To this day/And I know/And I know/And I wait/And I wait.”  The sample from Darondo asks “Didn’t I try” in an almost pleading sense. Listeners can just see a man asking his woman, what can he do, didn’t he do enough, didn’t he try? It’s a solid song that if mainstream r&b and pop stations haven’t picked up on by now, they really should. That’s because it is another great addition to this album.

Both ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural)’ and ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ exemplify the talent of both DJ Nu-mark and Slimkid3 and what makes this album well worth the listen by any purist fan of the hip-hop and rap genres. One more piece that can be used as an example of that talent and ease of listening comes in the album’s penultimate track ‘Godzilla or Gamera.’ There seems to be a certain social commentary in this piece. The song comes across as making a statement about the violence that is destroying so many communities today. That thought is raised as Nu-Mark and Slimkid3 write in this song, “I cocked the hammer but there was nothing glamorous/Caught up in the AM in pajamas like the amateur…we’re in a dark place so let one spark/First one to shoot/Shoulda left that mark/They scatter like a cockroach/I scramble a little close to find the evidence to make us ghosts.” He goes on to make note of thoughts of pallbearers and limousines and people shooting guns. There’s even mention of “the young ones doing crimes for fun” with a certain cynical tone that makes the song’s statement even more clear. It’s good to hear such a socially conscious song especially from a genre that is so known more for objectification of women and glorification of drugs and violence. And set against the strains of the keyboard line and beat, it hits even harder, leading it to stand out even more as one of the album’s key moments. It proves to be one more song that along with ‘Work Hard (ft. K-Natural)’ and ‘I Know I Didn’t (ft. Darondo)’ makes Slimkid3 & DJ Nu-Mark an album that every rap and hip-hop fan should hear at least once.

Slimkid3 and DJ Nu-Mark have crafted an album their self-titled release that stands well above so much of the rap and hip-hop crowd. The trio of songs noted here, alongside those not noted, prove in the end that it is an easy contender for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new hip-hop and rap albums. Its beats mixed in with lyrics that hit on a variety of topics make it a solid work from start to finish. And regardless of whether or not Jurassic 5 or The Pharcyde decide to ever put out another album (somehow odds seem to be against that), one thing is certain—this album proves without a shadow of a doubt that should those groups not release another album, the future is bright for this duo. SLimkid3 & DJ Mu-Mark is available now in stores and online. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Finishes Off Saban’s Original Power Rangers Franchise Next Month

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/Fox/Saban/Saban Brands

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/Fox/Saban/Saban Brands

Shout! Factory and Saban will finish off Saban’s original Power Rangers franchise next month when it releases Power Rangers in Space: Volume Two.

Power Rangers in Space: Volume Two will be released Tuesday, October 7th. The upcoming box set is the end of Saban’s original Power Rangers franchise. It is in this box set that audiences see Zordon, who created the very first team of Power Rangers, sacrifices himself in order to put an end to all of the evil forces that have faced the various incarnations of the Power Rangers throughout the franchise’s previous seasons. The season that would follow—Power Rangers Lost Galaxy—would be set in the same universe as the original Power Rangers franchise. However, its story line keeps the Rangers in space as humans search out a new world where humans can live. Also in this final chapter of the Power Rangers’ original Zordon era, a surprising secret is revealed to the Rangers. It is a secret that plays a big role in the final outcome of this long-running franchise. That and much more is in Power Rangers in Space: Volume Two.

Power Rangers in Space: Volume Two will retail for MSRP of $12.99. It can be ordered online via the Shout Factory online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-action-adventure/power-rangers-in-space-vol-2. Prices will vary from one store to another. More information on this and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at:

Website: http://www.shoutfactory.com

Facebook: http://ww.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Shout! Factory Resurrecting CBS Saturday Morning Classic Next Month

Shout! Factory is resurrecting one of the most talked about children’s shows of the 20th Century next month.

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/CBS

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/CBS

Shout! Factory will release Pee-Wees Playhouse: The Complete Series Tuesday, October 21st. The complete series box set will be released alongside another box set containing the first two seasons of the cult favorite Saturday morning series. The complete series box set will contain all forty-five episodes of the original series, which ran on CBS’ Saturday morning programming lineup from 1986 to 1990. The box set containing the series’ first two seasons also includes five exclusive featurettes that were taken from all-new interviews with twenty-five members of the series’ cast and crew. The full series box set will also feature its own share of bonus material along with the series’ full run.

Pee-Wees Playhouse: The Complete Series will retail for MSRP of $149.99. Pee-Wees Playhouse: Seasons 1 & 2 will retail for MSRP of $29.93. The full series set can be ordered online via Shout! Factory’s online store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-comedy/pee-wee-s-playhouse-the-complete-series. The Season 1/Season 2 box set can be ordered online via the Shout! Factory store at https://www.shoutfactory.com/kids/kids-comedy/pee-wee-s-playhouse-seasons-one-two-special-edition.

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/CBS

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/CBS

Pee-Wees Playhouse earned a total of twenty-two Emmy awards over the course of its original five-season run on CBS.  More information on these and other releases from Shout! Factory is available online at http://www.shoutfactory.com and http://www.facebook.com/shoutfactoryofficial.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.