Shit We Like

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Malibu | Anderson .Paak | Steel Wool/OBE/Art Club/EMPIRE

I didn’t know who Anderson .Paak was until he showed up on a third of of the songs on Dr. Dre’s Compton last year.  Even his slick, and cool appearances alongside the disparate likes of Kendrick Lamar, Jill Scott, Eminem, and Dre, himself, weren’t enough to prepare me for the technical marvel that is Malibu. At times delivering slick, sweet soul, as on opening track “The Bird,” summery R & B, as on “Put Me Thru,” or funky grooves as on “Room in Here,” . Paak’s debut LP is a warm, hopeful set of songs. While it’s tempting, as others have done, to hear Malibu as the first true post-To Pimp a Butterfly album, that is, much of the album’s production feels as if its directly descended from Kendrick Lamar’s instant classic, such a comparison does a disservice by placing Malibu in that album’s shadow. Malibu doesn’t deserve to be in any other album’s shadow—this is a fresh, and engaging set of songs that deserves to stand on its own. –James Brubaker

“Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” | The X-Files, Season 10, Episode 3

This episode of The X-Files revival was supposed to air second this season, but ended up airing third. Coming off the lackluster premiere, which found Fox Mulder losing his faith in his life’s work, “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster” would have made a bit more sense, as it tells the story of Mulder grappling with notions of truth and mystery and, ultimately, returning to his old self. But Fox is gonna Fox, and somehow this became the new season’s third episode, which kind of breaks Mulder’s character arc for the season, but who really cares? Written by Darrin Morgan (who wrote all-time classic episodes “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” “Humbug,” and “Jose Chung’s From Outerspace”), and featuring brilliant guest turns from Rhys Darby and Kumail Nanjiani, this is is a smart, funny episode that is about as close to a classic as we could possibly hope to get out of a show that’s been dormant for more than a decade, and had more than a little rust to shake off.  So, how good is “Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster”? Good enough that if the other five new episodes all sucked (and we know there’s at least one other pretty good episode in the mix, as last week’s “Founder’s Mutation” was, well, pretty good), the new season would be worth it just for this episode. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson both turn in wonderfully warm and funny performances here, as questions of personal agency, identity, and truth are explored with the playfulness and wit we came to expect from the mind of Darrin Morgan, all those years ago. –James Brubaker

 

New Songs | Earl Sweatshirt |Self-Released

Coming off of a successful 2015 campaign the brooding and sometimes enigmatic rapper Earl Sweatshirt opened up his 2016 by unexpectedly dropping three new tracks much to the delight of “Sweatyman” fan boys (me included) and girls everywhere. Two of the three songs are “instrumentals,” the first of which is named “SKRT SKRT” and includes faint vocals sampled from  up-and-coming “trap rap” artist 21 Savage’s song “Skirt Skirt.” Outside of the ambient vocals of 21 Savage, the track  incorporates indistinct horns, claps, and bass hits resulting in a  unique, and gritty mix. The second “instrumental” is titled “Bary,” and features slowed down, chopped-and-screwed vocals from the one and only Kanye West. Borrowing West’s vocals from  “Barry Bonds,”  off West’s iconic 2008 album Graduation, Sweatshirt’s take gives that song a totally different feel by setting it atop his own eerie and intense beat. While the two instrumentals were a nice gift for fans, the real surprise  came from Sweatshirt’s new song “Wind In My Sails,” which showcases the young artist’s new and self-determined attitude that we first got to see last year on his sophomore album I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside. For anyone who may still be unsure if Earl Sweatshirt has completely moved past his juvenile 2009 Odd Future style of music, his lyrics on “Wind in The Sails” make it very clear that he does not give a single fuck about that. Here, Sweatshirt has come into his own and this new and mature sound proves it, as he raps about manning up, getting high, and dealing with life’s constant carousel of personal issues, all over a smooth beat that includes a FlyLo/Madlib sample. I for one am very excited about the future of Earl Sweatshirt’s sound and cannot wait to hear more of it in 2016. –Marrell Jones

 

EA SPORTS UFC 2 BETA | Electronic Arts

With the popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) growing due to antics of Featherweight champion and superstar Conor McGregor, the only thing that could top watching the Irish native trash talk his way to 13 second victories is by reliving it through a video game. Luckily for us, that opportunity is coming soon with the release of EA Sports UFC 2. Having purchased the first installment of the series, I was given an exclusive opportunity to play the Beta version this past weekend on Playstation 4, and in case you were wondering if EA Sports actually decided to step it up  after their, at times, cringe-worthy first attempt at a UFC game, the answer is….kind of-sort of. The game’s design and graphics are beautiful, but still kind of glitchy; I quickly learned this after Rory McDonald did a full fledged backflip when I hit him with a mean, Robbie Lawler uppercut. In addition to that miraculous gravity-defying feat, the game’s designers failed to incorporate all of the UFC rules into this year’s edition of the game, which I noticed when I knocked out an online opponent by continuously hitting him in the back of the head. Other than a few additional mechanical issues, which will probably be fixed before the release, the game has introduced an all new submission and grappling system which is sure to result in headaches if you don’t have the patience to learn it. On the up side, the game shows loads of potential with the new Ultimate Team mode, which we’ve seen in other EA Sports titles, except, in the UFC version, you create your team of fighters from scratch and battle online opponents for attribute boosts and championship gold. I also the enjoyed the addition of the new Reebok fight kit for fighters, but since it is only a Beta version I did not get to experience every game mode and was limited to just the welterweight division (no destroying Jose Aldo with Conor McGregor, yet).  But so far, so good for EA Sports UFC 2, especially from a visual standpoint, and I cannot wait for access to the full version. You can get your hands on EA Sports UFC 2 on March 15th in North America, and on March 17th in Europe. –Marrell Jones

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