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By James Pavel

No rapper in hip hop embodies the quintessential modern-day word smith like Aubrey Drake Graham.

Drake is less gun play more word play.

He proves that in the modern era, one exerts more swag by wearing a well-tailored suit on the cover of GQ rather than throwing up esoteric gang signs on the cover of XXL or The Source Magazine. Drake’s upcoming album ‘Views from the 6’ is the most hyped album of the year by a titanic size. Drake’s stake with the Toronto Raptors features a role that rappers a mere 15 years ago openly fantasized about without a notion that it would one day be possible for an MC from Canada.

It is too early to deliver a verdict on ‘Views from the 6’ but the fact that it has become such a centerpiece of music conversation for such a lengthy period of time speaks to the influence that Drake controls. Yes, Kanye West’s new album has gained plenty of attention but partially because Kanye is such a desirable centre of ridicule. West admitted that 2014 was the year of Drake and not of Mr. West. The problem for ‘Ye’ is that he has yet to reclaim the throne from the Canadian MC. Jay-Z jumping on a track every time a Drake album drops places a clear stamp of approval on Drake’s Toronto forehead regardless of how differently Drizzy nay-sayers or even Kanye, may feel.

Along with Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan, Drake is the face of the Toronto Raptors. Yet as you obviously know, Drake does NOT play for the Raptors. Think about that. He has actually made a Raptor hat more famous than a Raptor can. Drake sits court side because he can afford it but mainly because he is the official ambassador of the Toronto Raptors. Sure, he slaps hands with Steph Curry and Lebron James when they are in town because who the hell wouldn’t?

Drake reigns supreme because he’s reppin’ a city that never has been repped outside of Canada. And folks, he’s not just rapping about it. He’s singing, he’s crooning and he’s dancing inside glowing fluorescent cubes without a care in the 6.


By James Pavel

Don’t blame Paulina Gretzky for the squabbling over the recent cover of Golf Digest. No no, the blame for the consistent sexualization of women’s sports lies squarely on the broad shoulders of men.

Sex, sex, sex. That’s right. For at least fifteen hours a day, men have naked women dressed as nurses and French maids marching circles around their membrane while they pretend to be productive. Sure, we make time for a job and plus we’ve evolved slightly over the past 15 years. Improvements in cooking, attire and the elimination of undesirable hair downstairs have become proud badges of the modern man. But don’t give us too much credit.

And definitely don’t blame Paulina Gretzky. It’s not just beating a dead horse. It’s beating an entire horsey cemetery.

The perverted and sexually repulsive brain of a man will make a woman wearing a turtleneck and long johns morph into a Victoria Secret angel.

There is nothing wrong with women’s sport. The 2014 Olympic hockey final between USA and Canada was one of the most dramatic  endings you’ll ever witness. Women’s World Cup soccer is seat-of-your-pants action these days.

Poor Paulina isn’t adding any injury to women’s sport that did not already exist. Men can cheer for the female red team or the ladies in blue. And we will do it sincerely and loudly. But you have to forgive us. At some point, sexual thoughts will infiltrate our brain like a snake’s venom and temporarily leave us determining what Halloween costume would look the best on number seven in blue.

It’s not women’s sport. It’s the psyche of the majority of heterosexual men. Paulina Gretzky is well aware of this. No, she is not a star athlete. But she is getting married to a professional golfer and every man that loves a bag of clubs and hot blondes would love to see them paired together.

That’s what Golf Digest has done. It’s for the money. It’s for the readership. But it’s mainly because men still and always will have primal instincts that cry for the sexualization of anything of age and with curves.

Let’s also not forget that Gretzky Jr. has a rack that possesses the magic of thirty wizards and a stomach flatter than Saskatchewan. She is stunning. And she probably likes golf. So she did what she does best (look pretty) and posed on the front of a magazine that is right now the hottest cover on the shelves.

Women’s sport deserves better. On behalf of men, I want to say sorry, but it’s an empty apology.

When Julia Roberts asked Clive Owen why sex is so important in the film “Closer,” he responds with an animalistic yell, “Because I’m a fucking caveman!”

Although he was speaking in character, he could easily have been answering the question as to why men will always attempt to inject sex into women’s sports.

By James Pavel

5. Saturday Night – Whigfield

It was catchier than H1N1 bird flu and was everything Saturday night dreams are made of. All the kids who grew up watching Saturday morning cartoons in the 90s had this song as inspiration for the day they were old enough to shoot tequila and behave outrageously.  It’s similar to EDM of today except has a melody, chorus and is an actual song that relates to humans and not cyborgs.

4. Saturday Come Slow – Massive Attack

The anticipation for a weekend can be overwhelming, but perhaps a tad painful if the results continue to be the same. Another weekend gone by without the expected fireworks and midnight magic that only a boozy weekend can supply is what Massive Attack appear to be alluding to. They might just be pleasure delayers, but maybe they are sick of counting down the days until Saturday night only to wake up in the same cold and empty bed.


3. Saturday Night Fever – The Bee Gees

In some circles, to dislike the BeeGees is akin to defacing The Queen’s face while urinating on a tombstone. The BeeGees are disco angels, particularly Barry Gibb, who has the voice that could make the girl with the dragon tattoo weep like a sissy. There is an unmistakable mood that accompanies a Saturday, as if any sort of debauchery is possible. It’s not a sickness, nor is it madness, just a misery-free fever.


2. Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting) – Elton John

Elton John is at his most brash and biligerent, traits that seem to only emerge for many when Saturday night rolls into town. “Saturday Night” is as rough and tough as an alley street fight and its this sheer danger that makes this song as notorious as one of Elton John’s outlandish outfits.

1. S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night – Bay City Rollers

Bay City Rollers merge high school cheerleading with a boozy campfire to form Saturday night’s greatest anthem. It’s that twinkle in the eye of a handsome stranger across the camp fire. It’s a group of pissed up lads howling at the moon like a pack of wolves. It’s the strawberry blonde finally giving it up to the town cowboy. The song encompasses everything a Saturday night could be and ought to be. Bay City Rollers are grinning from ear to ear and it’s not just from another swig of the moonshine. It’s Saturday night, the night when work shoes are replaced by high heels, suits are left on the bedroom floor in favour of leather jackets and pretty girls look just a bit prettier. You haven’t smoked since last Saturday, you haven’t allowed work to escape your brain, but everything changed the minute you realized it was the freakin’ weekend.


By James Pavel

Family quartet Kings of Leon lit Calgary’s ScotiaBank Saddledome and Edmonton’s Rexall Place on fire this past Tuesday and Wednesday while promoting their latest album, Mechanical Bull.

KOL focused heavily on their current recordings, which blended in perfectly with their earlier material much like a fine Tennessee Whiskey. “SuperSoaker,” “Temple,” “Wait for me,” were three of the stand-out new tracks on the block while classics such as “On Call” and “The Bucket” sounded meatier than ever.

Predictably, the loudest pop from the Calgary crowd came via “Use Somebody,” and later “Sex on Fire,” which remain their two most popular singles off their most successful album, “Only by the Night.” Although the boys don’t seem to as passionate about playing the two monster hits as say more obscure material, they still seem to appreciate that the two songs alone have afforded them a lifetime of luxury.

What is special about watching a band as talented as the Kings evolve is how they have laid out a foundation of what appears to be what they consider their strongest material, regardless of whether the songs were ever released as singles. “The Immortals,” “Back Down South,” and arguably their masterpiece and strongest contribution to rock n’ roll, “Cold Desert” have become pillars of the KOL stadium kingdom.

The crowds were on a much smaller scale than what the boys have become accustomed to, but their demeanour on stage has improved significantly since the tour prior to their tumultuous and temporary breakup. The Kings of Leon, and particularly lead singer Caleb Followill are roaring loudly again, and appear thirsty for another run at the throne of rock n’ roll.


By James Pavel

5. Love on Top

She’s tipsy off bubbly in the hot tub of her personal limousine with 80s’ pop blaring through New York City. OK none of that happened, but there is something about “Love on Top” that sounds like a love child between Prince and Tina Turner.

4. Bootylicious

Am I partial to this track because I am a sucker for anything Fleetwood Mac related? Probably. Nonetheless, this remains one of the sexiest songs of all time. The key term being sexy, and not scandalous or borderline pirate-hookerish, like say, “Dirrty” by X-tina, or “Slave 4 U” by Britney. “Bootylicious” was dance floor mania that gave all the women sporting extra jelly the courage to finally shake what not just their mama, but an entire family tree gave them to make rumble like a Japanese earthquake.

3. Irreplaceable

Even when present in a nasty breakup, Knowles still has majestic rhythm. Men are created equal, which means when B shows you the door, there is a lineup of clones awaiting outside her million-dollar fortress. This track is the last of her truly venomous shots of anguish at cheating men as her later material seems to hint at happier times.

2. If I Were a Boy

If she was a boy, fearful and ashamed men would no longer have a problem welcoming a transvestite into their bedroom. B is merely weighing the options and in doing so, breaks down how easy it is for a man, and how difficult life in general is for a woman. The song highlights B’s notable use of the acoustic guitar in her career, an intriguing advancement that none of her peers have really attempted. The song’s concept and the use of the guitar demonstrate her method of again thinking outside hip-hop/RnB’s narrow and shallow square box and converting a predictable shape into a beautiful diamond.

1. XO

B isn’t just a cheerleader of love, but one of its glowing champions. She isn’t done shaking her booty or boasting her independence. No, she remains as strong as a prized ox, but she doesn’t shy away from allowing herself to become completely consumed with pure and unfiltered hugs and kisses. She demands relentless and pertinacious affection, till the lights go out in fact, and anything less will not satisfy the Queen B.


By James Pavel

“Monster” by Eminem and Rihanna will roar hourly on every pop radio station from now until probably late April. It is a painfully generic duet featuring a half-hearted, mailed-in chorus from Rihanna, and an annoyingly redundant, bitter, and whiny Eminem.

It is one of the lower points of Eminem’s artistic career and another blindingly glaring example of why Eminem needs to finally hang it up.

The Real Slim Shady died after the release of The Eminem Show and has only appeared as a ghost of his former self over his past four albums. Slim Shady is a washed up rapper who now relies completely on pop fans and pop radio to keep him relevant.

When Eminem was in his prime, he had two verses from the track “Til’ I Collapse” that went: “Til’ I collapse I’m spilling these raps as long as you feel ‘em,”and “So while you’re in it try to get as much shit as you can, and when your run is over just admit when it’s at its end.” Why can’t he exercise some humility and heed to his own advice?

Slim is unquestionably one of the most successful artists of the past 20 years and is likely one of the top five hip-hop artists ever. His first three albums are all classic, a feat few others can declare. He has been able to relate to millions by embracing his trailer-park roots and sharing tales of his whirlwind childhood many before him never had the ability to unravel into such epic poetry.

The climax of Marshall Mathers’ career was the 8 Mile soundtrack that contained the bombastic single, “Loose Yourself.” The song was a blazing semi-truck containing all of the violent emphasis and intense momentum stemming from the carnaged venom felt throughout the first three masterpieces (Slim Shady LP, Marshall Mathers, The Eminem Show.) It was Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” meets Tupac’s “Hit em’ Up.” Such velocity. Such brilliance. And then came the album, Encore.

Encore showcased Slim at his most childish and silly. He had returned to his filthy drug habits. He sounded desperate for a first single to market the album. Worst of all, he had adopted a half-baked East-Indian accent on a third of the tracks, a change to the usual Eminem program that even die-hard fans had difficulty accepting. Encore was the beginning of the end. And this was in 2004.

Slim has now released three more albums, all of poor standing when compared with the original trio. His previously fluid and empathetic tirades regarding his mother and on/off wife Kim were once honest and ripe with emotion. But he now sounds like a hypocritical schizophrenic. His emotional mood swings through hist latest material has fans unsure of whether they are supposed to forgive, forget, embrace or hate Eminem’s mother and wife/ex-wife/fiancee/soon-to-be-ex-wife etc.

Eminem isn’t just past his prime. He has driven so far past his original peak that he has practically discovered a new persona dedicated strictly to mediocrity. The Real Slim Shady needs to retire before his original material becomes so concealed in dust that it becomes forgotten in place of his unmistakably weaker and weathered material.


By James Pavel 

 I blame it on Game of Thrones. Ever since I completed season three of this HBO masterpiece, my expectations for mid-evil, soldier/knight productions is sky-high. And due to this elevated sense of what holds an audiences breath when watching warriors do battle, this sequel dies an unworthy death. 

 What remains one of the most intriguing aspects of the 300 premise is the background of the GodKing, Xerxes. We do learn how he became Zeus-like, but then he is again left on the sidelines of a film that could desperately have used his seemingly impenetrable abilities. 

 It isn’t that Artemisia, played by Eva Green, isn’t captivating. It’s that her vengeance against Greece is  a trite storyline, despite its merit, and she is a character that although appears strong, is clearly beatable despite the odds. 

 When someone pays $15-$20 to see a film in 3-D, they expect everything. If 300 wants to leave out the most intriguing character, Xerxes, for a delayed installment then convert the show into a mini-series, not a full-length film. The movie obviously left the plot open for yet another unnecessary installment, a disappointing method to garner more undeserving cash from an audience that was once thrilled with the original and what we thought only installment, the first 300

 What remains the strongest aspect of the 300 idea is that an incredibly small fleet of Spartans went to battle against an entire army. The second movie is so dry on fresh ideas that one of their sub-plots completely replicates one of the original story lines. A father and son go to battle together, making one another glow with pride. One of them fall during battle, putting the survivor into a violent rage and motivating him to slaughter at an even more violent rate than before.

 The movie is average because the first one was extraordinary.

It’s another example of a production team failing to recognize that this film did not require a sequel. We will now suffer through yet another 300 film nobody asked for, and squabble about how nothing will ever touch the first edition.