Melody, Molly, Manhood: A Chris Webby Interview (Part II)
[Exclusive] Hip-hop star Chris Webby and TGNR’s Paul K. DiCostanzo sat down for an extended, in-depth, three part interview; where in part 2 Webby shares major change.
In the second installment of TGNR’s interview with Hip-Hop artist Chris Webby: he discusses the personal changes and strides he has made in his lifestyle and career to better focus on his music, and aspirations. Webby’s newest mixtape, Webster’s Laboratory II, is available for download.
TGNR Paul K. DiCostanzo: Changing gears some, when do you know you’ve heard a number one?
Chris Webby: In this day and age you can’t call it. There’s a lot of factors beyond the musicality of a song.
TGNR PKD: I am talking on an intuitive basis, a feeling.
CW: What I hear on the radio is not the best stuff out there, especially in Hip-Hop radio. I think all music now is suffering creatively more than ever.
There are some good Hip-Hop artists, and sometimes those songs do cut through on the radio. But the majority of the time its a bunch of stuff that I personally don’t want to listen to. I don’t think it’s very musical. I don’t think its very lyrically stimulating. I don’t think there’s very much to it at all. Yet for whatever reason that seems to be what the people want.
I have always been an artist that drops more solid projects. I would rather give someone a solid body of work than put all my eggs into the basket of one song.
TGNR PKD: You almost sound like a music conceptual artist…
CW: Yeah, I would rather make a good project than a single good song.
But a lot of artists nowadays will just keep making songs searching for that number one. They will make it sound like what’s going on right now. I almost don’t even listen to what’s going on right now, I am so unplugged from new music.
I listen to a lot of Classic Rock, old Reggae, Hip-Hop from the mid to late 90’s until the mid 2000’s. That’s about it. There just isn’t much coming out there right now that I’m a huge fan of.
TGNR PKD: When do you know you’re doing your best work?
CW: Part of being an artist is believing you’re always doing your best work. It’s about hearing it from those certain people in your life that you know will give you the God’s honest truth.
TGNR PKD: Who are those people to you?
CW: I have a few friends that I have known for a very long time. Some of which really understand Hip-Hop on a deep level. They understand who I am on a deep level, and they have a broad understanding of what I should be doing.
Those people I have known for long enough that they won’t sugarcoat it, and they will tell me exactly what they think. Sometimes I agree with them, and sometimes I don’t. But I want to get their honest opinion.
If you have a bunch of yes-men around you, you might think you’re making the best music ever, and you might not be. You want someone who is going to call you out there, or you will end up putting out some shitty music.
You have to have people around you who will keep it very real. Even on a larger scale than that, it’s beyond the music. If you have nothing but yes-men around you then you can turn into a monster. They will allow you to do anything. You’ve got to have people who will keep you tied down to reality.
Now my career has managed to keep me tied down to reality. Because each time we take a step forward, I am constantly being humbled by not being the biggest rapper in the world. As much as I have accomplished, I still have my own problems. That keeps me tied into reality.
I feel like I have worked so hard and for so long, if everything did just turn around tomorrow and I became the biggest rapper in the game, I don’t think it would go to my head in the same fashion that it would for someone who had been working for a much shorter period of time.
I think those overnight artists are the one’s that let it go to their head. They think they’re God’s gift, and their fall from grace is always a lot tougher because everyone is sure to kick them on the way down.
TGNR PKD: Speaking of the people around you, you have made some moves to the Chris Webby team. Tell me about the changes you have made.
CW: I have made some changes, I have split with my long-time manager. It has allowed me to change the course of my ship on both a music and business level. I want to get back behind the helm. Its time for me to wake up and grow up, which I have been spending the last eight months really focusing on.
I was always working on music. I was touring. I was always doing my job. I always made the music. I have never missed a show. I have been on stage with laryngitis and a 103 fever. I always do my end of the work, but I feel its important to be on top of everything. I can’t just disconnect from the business side and everything else that’s going on just because I am doing all the other stuff.
Its hard, but I have to be on top of shit. I can’t be in the studio doing drugs and completely oblivious to everything else that’s going on. I realized that I’d come to a certain point in life where I had to cut certain drugs out of my life as well.
TGNR PKD: Like what?
CW: You can hear about it in the song “Chemical Romance.” I single out Molly, Coke, and Xanax.
Now none of these drugs have I had a full blown problem with. I have never had to go to rehab. I’ve never had that sort of personality.
TGNR PKD: Its well established that you’re prescribed Adderall for ADD, and you’ve taken it since you were a child. When do you feel a prescribed medication with an established therapeutic value becomes recreational and detrimental to the user?
CW: Good question, I will get to Adderall in a second.
With these one’s I don’t have a full-blown addictive personality. I have known people with a full-blown addictive personality, and I don’t have that. If I did I would not be where I am today.
TGNR PKD: You can only serve one master.
CW: Exactly. Now these are also drugs that I’ve done a lot, and I crumble under peer pressure frequently. I just like to have a good time, and it got to the point where I was relying on certain drugs to feel certain ways. I think it got to a point where I was becoming a little foggy.
Like I said none of these things sent me to rehab. But I was doing them long enough where I just wasn’t mentally on point compared to where I should be. Not on point enough to be able to run my business to full capacity. They were only distracting me and holding me back, and I think its really important for me to try and not do these drugs.
I have had my fun, and I have been doing these things for a long time. I am just a grown man now. I am 27. I can’t be partying on the same level and there is that aspect of it as well.
As the addiction thing goes: I will play around with something until I feel it begins to interfere with what I want to do with my life, rap.
Rap has always been number one. As much as I like drugs, if they’re going to interfere with number one they have to go. I kept it up for a long time, and I’m not going to say they didn’t interfere at times, but I was able to do what I had to do.
Now I want to do more and some things have to go. I’m not saying I’m going to stop smoking weed. I’m not saying I’m going to stop taking Adderall, a prescription at this point I borderline need to function. Because not only do I have ADD, I have been on it since the seventh grade.
So to cut something out that has been in your system for that length of time… I mean my brain chemistry has probably changed because of it. I honestly don’t know if it can change back. I would assume so, but I also assume that it would be a long road. But at the end of it I would still have ADD.
I have a lot of things to stay on top of. So to cut something out that helps me get this stuff done seems counter-productive. I wish I didn’t have to take it. I am not in college anymore. I don’t need to take it to study, I don’t have to take tests, do homework, and it sucks that I still have to take Adderall. You never want to feel like music has gotten to the homework level, but sometimes there are things that just need to get done.
Writing also doesn’t come as easily as it used to. I have put out 12 projects, and well over 150 songs. It’s not as easy to write a song as it was. I have said a lot, covered a lot of bases, a lot of topics. I try not to be redundant and sometimes people will say, ‘that’s just another party/weed song.’ Alright. I could do a lot of ‘just another’ songs, but I talk about my life. I don’t talk about things I don’t know.
I also need to learn to start story telling from another persons perspective as well. There are new techniques that I am going to have to learn because I can’t just keep doing the same thing.
TGNR PKD: Though back to the original question. Based on everything you have observed, where is the line between legal and therapeutic turning into recreational and damaging?
CW: I take 10 mg of Adderall a day. 20 if its a long day in the studio, or something else that requires extended attention. At 160 pounds that’s not abusing it by any means. I used to be on far more when I was in middle school and high school.
I think it becomes abuse when you start taking it for things it wasn’t prescribed for. If I was taking it to stay up and party all night, that would be abusing Adderall. If I take it when I get up in the morning so I can make calls and focus on what I need to do, that’s what the doctor prescribed it for.
I have seen a lot of people do things, and I have too. I used to have a Xanax prescription, and an Ambien prescription.
Ambien is another thing I have more or less cut out unless I really can’t sleep and really have to. Because I have always had trouble sleeping. I was always that kid whose awake and his mind is racing all night. Sometimes the mind needs to go to sleep so I can wake up and do what I need to do.
But Ambien was something I was taking almost every night, even just little bits. But then there would be sometimes where I would take it, stay up, and get a little weird. So to take it frequently for that purpose – not a good thing.
Again, just taking that to sleep every night, and to rely upon it was making me foggy. Xanax makes you foggy. Xanax is becoming almost as much an epidemic as pain killers. There are a lot of people who misunderstand Xanax and think taking it is not a big deal, but it is serious. I feel like Xanax is the little brother.
I have taken it plenty of times in my life. Will I take it again? I’m sure. Though not like I used to.
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TGNR PKD: One of the biggest reason’s that compelled me to do this interview with you is the incident at Hofstra. For all intents and purposes, you have come back from a place not many people come back from.
What was it within you that allowed you to pick yourself up, and build an entirely new life? Moreover, what piece of advice would you give the young man sitting in jail at the mercy of the unknown?
CW: When I got kicked out of school and arrested, a lot of the potential options I had in life were instantly taken off the table. I knew at that point that if I didn’t make this Hip-Hop career work, I didn’t have much else going for me. I didn’t have any trade skills, and it just showed me that this was what I am supposed to do. Like I said, I always wanted to be a rapper.
I was in school for long enough. Not everyone is cut out for college, not everybody needs college. I am a big supporter of school, I think learning is very important. But there is a level in my opinion where you’ve learned enough from other people.
I continue to learn everyday, I am always reading stuff and absorbing new information. But there is a certain point where the institutional education system may no longer be for you. All I had left were a lot of math and science courses, and I was never going to apply that to anything I did. I think I had truly learned enough, and I think my being at college was probably going to do more damage than good.
It was going to run up my student debt. It would probably have lead me down a more drug induced path than the one I ended up on. But being around that atmosphere was probably not going to be a good thing for me.
In the end it gave me the one option left that I am still pursuing today. It basically shoved this in front of my face and said, ‘this is what you need to do.’ I knew it was going to be either sink or swim.
It was a certain hunger in me then, and I would love to get that back. I have been feeling it a bit lately because I am still not set. I really need to kick things into gear, and I want to get things to where they need to be. It’s come back in a sense.
But that hunger I had back then where I was back working a seven dollar an hour job. Where I was going to court, probation, and thinking I might even go to jail. There was just this sense of hunger in me after realizing that this was all I had. If I didn’t make it happen I wasn’t going to be happy.
TGNR PKD: What about the advice you would give that young man today, knowing what you do now?
CW: I would tell him there is more to it than just the rapping.
Focus on your business, pay attention to those around you, and make sure you only have people that you wholeheartedly trust doing the things that you need. Make sure you pick the right people for the right slots. Because not doing that has hindered me at times – several times – throughout the course of my life.
But I learn, I learn every time. I always knew about the music, I always knew how to rap, that was never the question. I would never have tell myself to focus more on rapping. That’s all I did. I would tell myself to focus more on the other stuff: branding, making sure you have the image together, because I was kind of all over the place at first. Which is almost what some people loved from me, ‘this kid is out of his mind!’ I am still out of my mind for sure.
But you have to be cohesive. You have to have all your stuff together. You’ve got to have your business together. Because once you start bringing in money, and if you have a disorganized system together, that’s only going to come and bite you in the ass later on.
Write to Paul K. DiCostanzo at email@example.com
Follow Paul on Quartz!
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The death of Filmstruck is the latest symptom of our rapidly devolving film culture: This is a look at what we’ve lost, and what lies ahead.
The demise of Filmstruck is a major loss to the world of cinema. If you were to log on to film Twittertm – that specialist ghetto of cinephiles (“or what you’d call film buffs” as Matthew remarks early in the late Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers) you would realize that many of us are in mourning for a rapidly depleting film culture.
Across the country, most Americans do not have access to an art house theater, and it’s even less likely that they would have access to a repertory theater. Those in New York City can pick their poison between the Metrograph and Film Forum and Village Quad Cinema. Heck they’ve even got the NiteHawk in Williamsburg. Those in LA have the New Beverly. Most of us, however, are just plain out of luck.
Two years ago Filmstruck seemed like the solution. A collaboration between Warner Brothers and the Criterion Collection, Filmstruck was a hand-curated outfit that seemed like film school on a Roku. From Rohmer to Ozu, Sembene to Akerman – world cinema was at your fingertips. You want to spend 83 minutes with Alma from Persona? Sure can. You could check in with Guido Anselmi or Sam Spade or Mabel Longhetti or any of several versions of Orpheus by just pressing a button…and now it’s gone.
A Half Remembered Dream Factory
Every day we seem to forget more of our history. Hollywood is no exception. Often they seem to be leading the way. Hollywood has always been America’s dream factory, and there are some real talented and nice people out there – people who care desperately about movies.
Yet, because of the vagaries of corporate America, and the rush to the all-mighty dollar that capitalism surely compels, Hollywood has become a system that is ruled by puffed-up Harvard MBA’s in slick two-button suits looking for ten percent profit on the next remake.
Now, I don’t really have anything against these people, it’s just that many of them don’t really know or give a lick about the classic days of the industry, the history of world cinema, or even current world cinema beyond their own distribution pacts. They only worry whether their new one hundred million dollar piece of content is going to be allowed to play in China, and whether it will allay some its substantial budget with international pre-sales.
In turn, we have the creation of these monster conglomerates through very big mergers such as Disney buying Fox, or in our case AT&T buying Time Warner, which has led directly to AT&T shutting down Filmstruck.
See, they want to invest only in core businesses that will generate substantial return. This makes complete sense from a business perspective. Except, in the olden days of Hollywood the guys that ran the place, like Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg, saw the picture business as more than just a profit machine. They understood they were creating a product that was intangible – a motion picture, not a widget.
Sure, they were interested in making money, they damn well weren’t commies, but at the same time they were making something near Art and they were passionate about it.
There was a time when it felt like cinema could change the world. In his review of The Dreamers (to circle back), Roger Ebert reminisces that back in ’68, Chicagoans were lined up on the sidewalk in the rain to see Godard’s Weekend. Imagine that now? Wouldn’t happen.
AT&T closed Filmstruck because they believed it was niche. Great cinema like Casablanca and King Kong, The Seven Samurai and Weekend, which all those people lined up for all those years ago, is now just niche content.
What’s the use of going to a movie theater if movies are just content no different from a YouTube video? Hollywood has forgotten its heroes. Cinema seems to have forgotten what cinema is all about – stories that move us or elucidate the world around us – or even sometimes elucidate feelings or emotions so deep-seated they would never stir without that silver-screen mirror.
The last three movies I watched on Filmstruck were the creepy Japanese ghost story Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan (1959), the vibrantly alive magical realist bossa nova-driven romance Black Orpheus (1959), and Mikio Naruse’s masterful Floating Clouds (1955). Maybe my feeling towards Filmstruck and cinema itself is like Naruse’s lovers’ warmer brighter past in French Indochina – a deeply romantic paradise to which we can never return.
I certainly hope that’s not the case. I hope the future of cinema and the future of repertory streaming services spreads out before us like a mighty bounty.
To ensure this, we all have do our part. Watch movies. Buy movies. All movies. Become cine-literate in everything. Especially the classics.
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Preservation in the Post-Filmstruck Era
What’s next? The terrific physical media company The Criterion Collection is starting their own streaming channel. Will it succeed? Only if enough of us are interested in preserving our globe’s sometimes shared, sometimes divergent cultural heritage.
Films are doorways into past and future worlds. These stories have shaped us, and allowed a plethora of fascinating cultures to share their preoccupations, hopes, and fears with other, sometimes very different people, in every far-flung nook and cranny of this astonishing world. These dreams, stories, and feelings are too important to be allowed to just fade away.
Please preserve them.
Write to David B. Sporn at firstname.lastname@example.org
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The Man in the High Castle Universe: How the Axis Won WW2
Exactly what the hell went so wrong to create the High Castle dystopia? Second World War historian Paul K. DiCostanzo examines the possibilities.
With the interminable wait for season three of Amazon Prime’s portrayal of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle concluding on October 5th, we pose the singular question underlying the series thus far: How could the Axis powers have defeated the United States and its Allies in The Man in the High Castle Universe? The following interpretation is one possible “universe” of Man in the High Castle. One in which we explore the biggest question for most viewers: How the Axis won WW2, or more specifically, “How did the US lose World War II?”
As the show straddles the genres of Alternate History and Science Fiction, the world of High Castle is based on counter-factual history. That being said, the scenario below is projected from historical events that could explain the tragic collapse of the Allies and ultimate rise of the Axis powers.
The Man in the High Castle Universe: What went wrong?
(A stark contrast in the two above maps that mark the conclusion of the historical and fictional WW2)
For an American living in the 21st Century, the victory in the Second World War is even more fundamental to their worldview than even the American Revolution of 1776. It is, after all, the founding story of the modern United States and the rest of the world as we know it.
The concept of the Allies losing to the satanic enemy of Nazi Germany and its Axis collaborators hits home in primordial fashion. It is a concept so deeply disturbing that the dystopia such a defeat would create is generally unthinkable. Yet in the High Castle universe, that is exactly what happened. So, what exactly went wrong in the High Castle timeline?
How the Axis won WW2: The Man in the High Castle Universe Historical Contradiction
In the High Castle universe, many well known events of the Second World War have outcomes clearly contrary to the viewer’s universe. In both the series and the classic novel, details are scarce as to exactly how the Axis managed victory over the Allies.
Putting aside the little information divulged by the show so far – including Nazi Germany’s clear development of the first strategic nuclear weapon – what happened to the Allied nations that allowed this disaster to occur? While there are several distinct possibilities, one must start with the life of one Sir Winston Spencer Churchill.
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10 Things Star Trek: Discovery Season 2 Must Do to Avoid Epic Failure
Season 2 of Star Trek: Discovery is the swing season for the series. These are several directives to ensure this newest season gets it just right.
Over the past two months new information about the greater Star Trek franchise have hit fans at warp speed. Between the announcement of a new series featuring Patrick Stewart and the contractual standstill leading perhaps to the fourth film in the Kelvin timeline’s demise – there has been no lack of blockbluster headlines. However, the project which will shortly eclipse all the rest is the upcoming sophomore season of Star Trek: Discovery with viewers paying particular attention to where the showrunners wish to take the series. Not to be left out, the following are ten guidelines – directives as it were – to ensure Star Trek: Discovery season 2 will not fall on its face. We begin with the introduction of a new-familiar face: Mr. Spock.
1. A Tale of Two Spock’s: The Delicate Introduction of Ethan Peck in Discovery Season 2
I fully concede the pragmatic reality of the entertainment industry, and that Zachery Quinto was very unlikely to assume the role of the prime universe Spock in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 – but I cannot help stopping and thinking, “What the crap?”
With the announcement that Ethan Peck will play Spock in Star Trek: Discovery season 2, there are now two actors, in the prime of their career, portraying effectively the same character at the same time: Quinto on the big screen and Peck on my iPhone. Lets all be honest with ourselves, that’s really friggin’ weird.
Though Alex Kurtzman and the current Star Trek braintrust were nothing less than effusive in praise for the talented Peck, there are greater factors at play by having more than one Spock.
“We searched for months for an actor who would, like them, bring his own interpretation to the role. An actor who would, like them, effortlessly embody Spock’s greatest qualities, beyond obvious logic: empathy, intuition, compassion, confusion and yearning. Ethan Peck walked into the room inhabiting all of these qualities, aware of his daunting responsibility to Leonard, Zack and the fans, and ready to confront the challenge in the service of protecting and expanding on Spock’s legacy. In that spirit, we’re thrilled to welcome him to the family.” – Alex Kurtzman, Star Trek: Discovery Executive Producer
The Reality of Dueling Spock’s
To be fair there has been a Spock duo before, however those were very different circumstances. It was clear for those who have eyes to see that it was a passing of the torch. The beloved Leonard Nimoy, in the best of Star Trek tradition, played the role of a venerated character sanctifying the newest Trek foray with his saintly presence. What Trek fans are dealing with now, whether they yet realize it or not, is a competition that is at best irksome.
Depending on their performance, as well as their dictated place in the narratives they inherit, one of them will ultimately be accepted as THE Spock while the other will be relegated to “Other Spock,” a second class citizen in Trek canon. Not only will this be unfair to the actors who portray him, it is a profound disservice to the character himself to assume this baggage.
The best one can hope for under these circumstances is that Peck will knock this role in Star Trek: Discovery season 2 out of the park. In the end that is always what will matter most and that each “Spock” can be appreciated in there respective spheres.
Speaking of troublesome duplicates…
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Amazon Releases “The Man in the High Castle” Season 3 Date; New Trailer at SDCC
Fans of Amazon’s “The Man in the High Castle” see light at the end of their tunnel, as the two year wait for season 3 is coming to a confirmed end.
San Diego, CA – This weekend at San Diego Comic Con (SDCC), after a seemingly interminable wait, fans of Amazon’s hit series The Man in the High Castle finally have the answer to their biggest question: when is the show coming back? To the audience’s delight, Amazon confirmed that season three will premiere on October 5th, 2018.
To further whet their fans’ appetites, the series’ showrunners also released a new trailer for the upcoming season during their panel at SDCC.
SDCC 2018 & The Longer than Expected Road to High Castle Season 3
Season two of the show debuted in December 2016, after which there had very few indicators of when season three would see the light of day.
In February of 2017 Amazon Prime renewed High Castle for its third season, and filming began in late June of last year.
Additionally first reported by Deadline, Amazon publicly released their order to renew the series for its fourth season as well. No date for its release has yet been revealed.
At this weekend’s San Diego Comic Con, The Man in the High Castle announced not only the answer to the most burning question – thats is, when season 3 will debut – but also shared its first substantive trailer regarding season three since October 2017.
Though only a minute in length, the powerful sneak peak will further stoke the flames for the show’s ravenous fans.
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New High Castle Trailer: Further Exploration into Science Fiction, and a Mobilizing Resistance
This newest trailer for High Castle season three covers an exceptional amount of ground and leaves the audience with little question as to what the newest installment will focus upon.
The clip depicts further collaboration between Juliana Crain and Hawthorne Abendsen – the so-called “Man in the High Castle.”
Specifically, they are working to combat the Greater German Reich’s experimental weapon which allows them by means of technology to traverse the series’ multiverse; all courtesy of Nazi R&D. This marks the shows most forward foray into The Man in the High Castle‘s science-fiction origin up to this point.
Moreover, it depicts a revitalization of the American resistance against the respective occupying Axis powers Germany and Imperial Japan.
The Man in the High Castle is one of Amazon Prime’s most watched series, based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same title published in 1962.
The series is set in the United States, in a fictional 1962 in which the Axis won WWII – and occupying a defeated US.
To enjoy the sneak peek, click at the top to watch the newest trailer for High Castle season 3!
The Man in the High Castle is exclusively available for streaming on Amazon Prime
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Solo: A Star Wars Story REVIEW
In this newest incarnation of Disney-era Star Wars films, Solo: A Star Wars Story adds to the questionable new legacy.
Solo: A Star Wars Story is out, and since its release the film has proven to be as polarizing as other Disney-era LucasFilm installments for the franchise.
For Star Wars fans of every generation, the back story of the series favorite smuggler and scoundrel has possessed a certain mystery. Within the scope of the live-action film adaptation of the iconic saga, the audience has only been given minor snippets of Han’s past.
Solo: A Star Wars Story – The Down Low
Solo: A Star Wars Story begins to shed light on his epic brotherhood with Chewbacca, the genesis of the Millennium Falcon, and his early exploits with one Lando Calrissian. With so much on the line presenting his personal history front and center, could it possibly live up to the hype?
Also by popular demand, some have inquired how I think about and analyze movies when I review them. For those interested, these are my insights into how my reviews are created.
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As with every adaptation of Star Wars, no one fan is ever lacking an opinion regarding every detail – major or minor alike. What did you think of Solo: A Star Wars Story? What did you love? What would you have changed? Would you have made the movie at all? Is Disney/Lucas Film saturating the market with four feature films in the last three years? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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