“Usually, when I tell people that I make music, I don’t reference Primary Colors,” says the polite, affable sophomore. “Instead I say, ‘Check me out on Soundcloud.’” Sitting in front of me with his work neatly put aside to accommodate this impromptu interview is Paul Russell, who is an opinion columnist for The Sun and is otherwise known by the name ‘Paulitics’ under which he raps, sings and writes music. We’re sitting at a table in Temple of Zeus on Friday afternoon, the last day of class before Spring Break. Over the course of this winter break, I grew familiar with Paul’s work, after he granted me permission to use some of his songs in a feature-length film I was co-directing. Naturally, this level of familiarity with his work made me want to learn more about the artist behind the music I was so generously given access to; Hence this interview.
There are few things more complex and engaging than a virtual band in the era of technology and the internet. British virtual band Gorillaz, created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett, has been around since 1998. Since then, the band and technology have been pushing forward rapidly. The four members — 2D, Murdoc, Noodle and Russel — are not meant to be a normal band. They have an unusual dynamic, and as Russel described in a recent Skype interview, their “history is a dirty, shallow lake, clogged up with grievances, grudges, decomposing bodies.” Indeed, for 2010 album Plastic Beach, Murdoc kidnapped 2D and forced him to make the album with him.
I started writing this column two years ago, and then again a year ago. No, really it’s in my iPhone notes. I’m a preemptively nostalgic sort of person, it’s not cute. At those times, my own personal zeitgeist must have seemed clear to me. Self-satisfied and obnoxious as these shriveled up column introductions read to me now — written bathed in the smug, warm glow of a coherent sense of self — their existence indicates to me that even within them, I knew these moments wouldn’t last.
The Canadian rock band Barenaked Ladies played at Ithaca’s State Theatre Sunday night and delivered an incredibly upbeat and engaging performance. The group is known best for singles like “One Week,” “It’s All Been Done” and “If I Had $1000000,” but every song they played was filled with passion. Alan Doyle and his band, who blend folk and rock, opened for the group. Doyle was an excellent frontman who engaged the audience, even though most did not know the lyrics to his songs. Singer and fiddler Kendel Carson was an especially impressive member of the band, dancing around the stage while playing flawlessly.
Race has long been a salient topic in the United States, but the production of Baltimore by the Department of Performing and Media Arts and the Ithaca Civic Ensemble demonstrates why it is so important to talk about right now. The play touches on crucial concepts such as police brutality, the black-white binary, intersectionality and jokes that go too far, all on a college campus. An African-American student and RA named Shelby (Edem Dzodzomenyo ’20) goes to interview her university’s new dean, Dean Hernandez (Irving Torres ’18) for the newspaper, and they argue about his convocation speech and the issue of race on campus, which Shelby prefers to ignore. She leaves frustrated about his views on race and goes to vent about the encounter with her best friend, Grace (Sabrina Liu ’20). During their conversation, Grace receives a message and informs Shelby that someone has drawn a caricature of a black woman on the door of Shelby’s resident, Alyssa, who is black.
This is my last column. It’s the last time I’ll spill out a series of opinions about musicians that I’m unjustifiably obsessed with, the last time I’ll claim any sort of authority on the arts. When I stumbled into the Arts and Entertainment section, I was a struggling sophomore, trying to find a space to write outside of my courses. My dad was eager for me to join The Cornell Daily Sun, having heard of the many successful alumni that started their writing careers at The Sun. I took his word for it, and started writing test spins and single reviews, enjoying my newfound freedom to spell out my opinions on quarter-page sections of the paper.
Hari Kunzru’s new novel White Tears takes the reader on a historical rollercoaster that weaves between the real and the surreal. A novel that comments on various dimensions of the race problem in America, White Tears transports both the novel’s protagonist, Seth, and its audience between contemporary New York City and Southern states under the oppression of Jim Crow. Kunzru skillfully navigates a complex novel with a plot that is not simply entertaining, but one that also carries an important message about the notions of culture and “post-racial America.”
The Wall Street Journal claims that “Kunzru can rival…any current novelist with the strength of his prose and imaginative blondness,” and indeed his latest novel proves this statement true. A Brooklyn native, Kunzru does an incredible job of painting the city in vivid shades of grit and romance. The first half of the novel, carried by the New York City setting, portrays a tangible realism that depicts the protagonists’ specious “struggling artist” identities.
On a normal Thursday night it is no surprise to see Milstein Hall bustling with energy. But, on Thursday last week the scene at Milstein was not the typical AAP students with coffees, drawing plot plans or working around the clock to meet deadlines. The Milstein Dome was transformed into a gallery space for RAW Expo III, an annual exhibition of achievements and creative endeavors by Cornell’s student organizations. “Creative process across disciplines” was the official theme, intended to bring Cornell’s creative community together in one space over a period of just two hours. The event was organized by Medium Design Collective and fits within the greater objective of the club to promote interdisciplinarity and bring various creative communities out of their bubble via design and dialogue.
Imagine, for a moment, that you have somewhere between $1,000 and $4,000 to spend on a weekend getaway. Naturally, Instagram posts of your sort-of-friend’s Coachella experience inspire you to invest it all in tickets to the 21st century’s definitive live music event: Fyre Festival. Organized, in part, by Ashanti backup singer Ja Rule, the event promises a “luxurious” take on festival culture, complete with fine dining and the presence of at least one Hadid sister. In anticipation, you spend the subsequent months bragging to coworkers about your sure-to-be-great weekend of moshing to blink-182 in the Bahamas. You tell them to check out “this guy called Skepta,” who might rap with a funny accent but can put together a great song.
Cool Teen is the new project of Shay Collins ’18, Arts and Entertainment Editor emeritus and Pop Punk obsessor. According to Shay, the project “is the result of wanting to make music and perform and, for a long time, refusing to put anything out if it wasn’t exactly perfect. After awhile, I just decided to go for it.” That ethos bleeds through on his most recent (and as yet only) album: With Aliens, brimming with the type of plain-faced, nostalgic, punk-strong music that hurls his deepest-downs in an pure, exposed lump of plucked strings and plaintive vocals at his feet in front of him. For his Sun Session, Shay decided to give us “16,” a song of “mostly half-remembered thoughts and feelings from when I was in high school and trying to figure myself out.