COURTESY OF PENGUIN BOOKS

Upward Spiral: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

If I closed my eyes, I could picture vividly the last time I read a book by John Green. I was high school sophomore then, and had the luxury to spend entire afternoons reading non-academic books. The book I picked that day was The Fault in Our Stars, and it made me stay in the same armchair for hours. Fast-forward four years, and there are some things that haven’t changed all that much. The heroine of John Green’s new novel Turtles All the Way Down is much like Hazel Grace as she’s a quirky, nerdy sixteen-year-old girl who embarks on an adventure and encounters friendship and love along the way, all the while battling a chronic illness that stands between her and happiness.

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JONES | Where Eminem, Finally, Draws the Line

A lot of words have already been written about Eminem’s BET cypher last week, in which he attacked the president. There’s been a good deal of praise, some measured and some fawning. Colin Kaepernick tweeted his appreciation of Eminem’s declaration of allegiance with Kaepernick, for the protests that have (arguably) prevented him from signing onto a new football team. There’s a Politico Magazine feature responding to the cypher with an analysis of Macomb County, the area that both Eminem and rapper-turned-Senate candidate Kid Rock hail from. There’s also been criticism, notably a Noisey article by Lawrence Burney that argues that Eminem has received unearned praise simply because people are impressed by a white rapper declaring solidarity with a black athlete.

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Brahman/i: Hindu Gods Meet Standup Comedy

More often than not, when the words “religion” and “gender identity” appear together, conflict ensues. But that’s not what happens in the Kitchen Theatre Company’s production of Brahman/i: A One Hijra Comedy Show. Written by the award winning playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil as the first part of her Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy, Brahman/i takes the form of a standup comedy show performed by the intersex main character “B,” and sheds light on the often overlooked experience of the I in LGBTQIA+. Through personal anecdotes, some hilarious and some deeply moving, B narrates a unique journey of self-discovery as an Indian-American navigating the rocky landscape of growing up as a Hijra, an individual born with traits of both sexes. Through B’s monologues, other characters come to life; An unpredictable but wise aunt, loving parents, annoying cousins and classmates, and the Hindu creator god Brahma, in a way audiences have not seen before.

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TEST SPIN: Wu-Tang Clan — The Saga Continues

If you’re not a huge hip hop oldhead, it’s easy to overlook a lot of new releases from 90s rap groups these days. Most think that their music usually sounds pretty dated, and that many once ferocious MC’s have understandably lost a little bit of steam on the mic. However, people skeptical about the reemergence of 90s hip hop have really been proved wrong over the last year or so, after the impressive 2016 releases of A Tribe Called Quest’s Thank u 4 Your Service and De La Soul’s And the Anonymous Nobody. While Tribe and De La Soul (two New York rap groups who are members of the hip hop collective the Native Tongues) have shown that they can still bring it in 2017, many oldheads have been itching for a similar resurgence from another New York hip hop group, the Wu-Tang Clan. Wu-Tang’s most recent album release, The Saga Continues, is once again a reminder that not only does Wu-Tang’s saga continue, but so does the vintage 90s hip hop sound that has been so overshadowed in recent years.

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TEST SPIN: dvsn — Morning After

It seems like it was just yesterday when dvsn, the Toronto-based joint project between vocalist Daniel Daley and producer extraordinaire Nineteen85, debuted in 2015. In the brief time since their inception, dvsn has garnered 150 million streams and, arguably, landed the largest gig that any aspiring artist could land. In 2016 dvsn opened up for the Drake and Future on the notorious Summer Sixteen Tour, and with this brought their smooth, 90s R&B to the masses. While although only debuting their music to the public within the past few years, dvsn has been involved in the music business for much of the last decade. In the early years, dvsn leaned heavily toward rap because, as Daley says in a recent Rolling Stone article, it wasn’t really the “coolest thing to say ‘Yo, I sing – have you heard that Boyz II Men record, that new Usher or Ginuwine?’” However, once 85 heard the remarkable voice of Daley, he knew that the talent couldn’t be ignored.

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TEST SPIN | Rostam — Half-Light

Don’t act like you weren’t even just a little bit sad when Rostam Batmanglij announced over twitter in 2016 that he was leaving Vampire Weekend.  The New York based indie band who had brought hits like “A-Punk” and “Holiday,” as well as released one of the most compelling coming of age albums of the 21st century, Modern Vampires of the City, had lost their production mastermind, and to us fans who knew how critical his talents were on tracks like “Diane Young,” perhaps they had lost their essence, too. I was devastated, to say the least. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLr6glYSzgcG2_GS0spAV9zvJiOSZx9N7F

Lucky for us though, not only has the frontman Ezra Koenig been gracing us with consistent social media updates for a new Vampire Weekend LP — working title Mitsubishi Macchiato — but Rostam Batmanglij is also confirmed to be collaborating with Koenig on parts of the new album. What’s more, Rostam has found enough free time to release an effort of his own: Half-Light, his first solo record.

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Blade Runner 2049 Might Just Be A Masterpiece

It’s not often that a recently released movie can possibly be considered a “masterpiece.” The term carries a lot of weight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCcx85zbxz4

Yet, many have already declared Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic Blade Runner, a masterpiece. 2049 extends Scott’s visionary world, in which near-human robots called “replicants” are second-class citizens, and those who stray from their slave status are hunted down by cops called blade runners (don’t ask why they’re called “blade runners”… it sounds cool). The original film followed a blade runner named Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), and this installment continues Deckard’s story but focuses on another blade runner, Officer K (Ryan Gosling), whose job is to kill outdated, less obedient models of replicants, as he uncovers a puzzle that could alter the division between humans and replicants.

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Rebel in the Rye Epitomizes Holden Caulfield’s Favorite Word

As a fan of Salinger’s works, and someone who generally enjoys biopics about writers and creative people, Rebel in the Rye seemed to be right up my alley, but unfortunately fell flat in many places. I felt that Rebel in the Rye did not reveal or add much to what many fans already know about Salinger’s life.

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TEST SPIN | Lecrae — All Things Work Together

Lecrae has always been an artist who does not like boxes, and those who attempt to categorize him into one would be hard-pressed to try. Bringing the gospel to hip-hop long before Chance came to the scene, Lecrae’s ability to maneuver between disparate, non-interacting circles served as both his greatest strength and weakness. Being a two-time Grammy Award winner and having performed on Jimmy Fallon and Sway in the Morning, he has achieved a level of success unseen by Christian artists. His diverse catalogue defies categorization and yet for all these pioneering advancements, it seemed that what he gained came at the cost of personal piety. Beginning in 2012 with Church Clothes, its subsequent sequels and his chart-topping 2014 LP Anomaly, he introduced listeners to a more socially-minded Lecrae; the bona-fide rapper was still spitting fierce rhymes, but in his razor-sharp criticism of social injustice he seemed to have lost the vibrancy and passion of articulating his faith, which was a staple of his earlier works.

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GOULDTHORPE | My Little Pony: The Movie Is Pretty Much What I’d Expected

Now, I want to make something very clear before I proceed: I am not, nor have I ever been, a “brony.” That is, I have never been a fan of the My Little Pony series. Those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll give a little refresher. In 2010, Hasbro released the newest iteration of its My Little Pony franchise with a show on the Hub (now Discovery Family). The show, spearheaded by Lauren Faust, become wildly popular… but not just with its target audience or young girls. A group of older viewers, especially male teens and young adults, joined the fanbase of the show and inflated its status into a cultural phenomenon, complete with their own conventions.