March 30, 2015

I’mma Let You Finish But… It Was Ours First

By Jenifer Valmon


Photo Courtesy of Instagram Iggy Azealea

Photo Courtesy of Instagram
Iggy Azealea

There has been an increasing interest in the topic of cultural appropriation lately, especially when it comes to Hip Hop/Black culture and style.

Cultural appropriation has been used to describe artists like Miley Cyrus, taking a culture such as Hip Hop and exploiting it for it’s monetary value, without regard to it’s history or significance.

“White America” has been accused of “stealing” black culture, starting before Elvis Presley’s hip-thrusting Rock and Roll and beyond Madonna’s gold fronts phase.

Accusers often claim to be offended by the imitations of Hip Hop/Black culture and regard it as ridicule and or exploitation. One of the most notorious accusers is the always-controversial Hip Hop artist and Harlem native, Azealia Banks, who is more famous for her numerous twitter battles (her most memorable, the feud with Iggy Azalea fueled by the same topic) than for her music.

Banks was interviewed by the Ebro on the Morning Show on New York’s Hot 97, Hip Hop radio station on Dec. 18, 2014.

“It’s like a cultural smudging, it’s what I see, They’re [the media] trying to erase us,” said Banks regarding the white washing of Hip Hop by the mainstream media.

Banks was also discontent about Iggy Azalea being nominated for a Grammy for best Hip Hop album of the year, reasoning that there are plenty of Black female artists who deserved the honors more.

She has also been criticized for her interpretation of Hip Hop style as the bottom heavy, stereotypical, voluptuous woman; aka Nicki Minaj.

“She is trying to bring things we do in our culture everyday […] like the barrettes and even the attire that were conceived as ghetto and make it popular,” said Howard D. Borden, president of John Jay College Radio about Azalea.

Grammy nominations for Azalea did not sit well with other Hip Hop lovers. They accuse Azalea of making a mockery of what is truly Hip Hop with her Popish songs and her unauthentic southern accent.

Not everyone agrees that White, or non-Black artists, adopting Hip Hop culture is the problem. It could be the lack of support coming from the same community claiming to be victimized.

Photo Courtesy of Instagram Nicki Minaj

Photo Courtesy of Instagram
Nicki Minaj

“Show me the last Hip Hop album you bought,” said DJ Super Agent Dre, radio personality for Extreme 104 FM.

Dre believes that those complaining about cultural appropriation are often not supporting the artist they believe should be recognized. He argues that Black Hip Hop artists are the most listened to but their record sales do not reflect this fact.

This issue is not exclusive to Hip Hop culture. Dove started the “Love Your Curls Campaign” this month with the launch of their new hair care products aimed at women with curly hair.

The campaign is supposed to help girls with curly hair raise their self-esteem and love their curls but Kinsey Clarke’s piece, “The Problem with Dove’s ‘Love Your Curls” Campaign”, posted on on Feb. 16, says Dove is failing.

“It is appropriating so much of the black women’s natural hair movement, without placing black women at the center of the campaign,” stated Clarke. “This wouldn’t be an issue if the commercials didn’t focus primarily on white and mixed-race black girls, who already possess socially accepted curl textures,”

Clarke also accuses Dove of “stealing” the hair care practices that Black women have created to maintain their natural hair, to turn a profit from the natural hair movement.

“In appropriating the hair care practices black women have created for ourselves, we are being told by corporations that our methods are brilliant, but that we are not – and as an extension, our hair is not either […] again we are excluded from the market that steals its ideas from us”, stated Clarke.

It seems like capitalism plays a large part in the appropriation of other cultures by the masses. This can be seen in the translation of fashion trends every season. Perhaps one of the most memorable examples is the Timberland (a highly Hip Hop affiliated shoe company) inspired Manolo Blahnik work boot (valued at $1050 in 2011), worn by JLo in her Jenny From the Block video.

Other methods are the reinterpretations of Navajo and African prints on mass-produced clothing with no reverence to their origin.

John McWhorter, writer of “You Can’t ‘Steal’ a Culture: In Defense of Cultural Appropriation”, believes, “the concept of cultural appropriation has morphed into a parody of the original idea. We are now to get angry simply when whites happily imitate something that minorities do.”

In his article posted on, on July 15, 2014, McWhorter argues to the fact that the world is a melting pot of appropriations that created the culture we live in now.

“The very faculty of language is, to a large extent, a matter of imitation. The idea that when we imitate something we are seeking to replace it rather than join it is weak. Think about it: Does that even make sense?” stated McWhorter.

Ultimately, cultural appropriation is never going to stop, according to McWhorter. If it will ever stop being appropriation and just be American culture is yet to be seen but Dre is correct about Hip Hop, in that “it’s a multicultural thing.”

El Superhero

Graphic Novel Debates Latinos in Comics

By Richard Felipe

Contributing Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons Latino Spiderman in Marvel's new Spiderman comic.

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons
Latino Spiderman in Marvel’s new Spiderman

On Sept. 17, a John Jay lecture room was packed for the Graphic Novel Club’s debate on the trend of Latino comic book characters. The roundtable debate was very lively with students and club members having to sit on the floor due to the lack of seating. Latino representations in terms of comic book characters have been spotty or nonexistent until now. Some characters ethnicities have been ignored completely by the Hollywood craze.

Edwinson Matias is a junior and member of John Jay’s Graphic Novel’s Club. Matias feels that well written Latino characters can and do exist without the need of removing character race traits. “If you think about it, comic books were made by white people for white people for years. It’s only now that we’re getting this representation”, said Matias.

Characters like Bane from Batman had his Latino roots either ignored or not portrayed in the 2012’s Dark Knight Rises. It is only mentioned that Bane is from a foreign prison yet, his Latino heritage in the comics is never touched. The actor Tom Hardy, who portrayed Bane was also not of Latino descent. “I think there are aspects that white writers don’t want to cover because of their background,” said Michael Martinez, a 24-year-old student.

The discussion presented at the roundtable debate uncovered new Latino characters that the leaders felt deserved more exposure like Michael (Miles) Morales, a recent Spiderman iteration. Characters like Miles Morales, a Black Hispanic from Brooklyn, have been given the opportunity to take up the mantle of Spiderman.

Other characters include Kyle Rayner, a Mexican-American that has donned the ring and has become one of DC comic’s most notable heroes, the Green Lantern. Tariq Sims, a non-Latino from the Bronx, 20, said “I see the few gems [Bane] in the bunch, I know that it is possible to have these amazing characters.”

The meeting also considered characters from various anime and manga such as Bleach and Black Lagoon and the probable Japanese viewpoint towards Latino characters. The exposure has leaked into Japanese culture as well.

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons Yasutora Sado, a character in the anime "Bleach".

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons
Yasutora Sado, a character in the anime “Bleach”.

Characters like Yasutora Sado, a Japanese-Mexican in the popular anime Bleach, are a part of the team in the main protagonists story. These also include antagonists such as Rosarita Cisneros, aka Roberta, a Cuban assassin disguised as a maid in the hit anime Black Lagoon.

Students walked away from the meeting with better knowledge of Latino characters. The viewpoint of writers and the lack of covering Latino or foreign comic characters was a major focal point during the debate. According to one student, the reason that different renditions of a comic series may cast white characters in place of Hispanics, or change their roots to better suit the plot is, “I think there are aspects or things white writers don’t want to cover because they feel they don’t have the right to due to their race,” said Martinez.



The Legend of the Killer High Heels

By Darren Harris

Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Since the 1600’s the creation of high heels continues to be an ever evolving trend for men and women. There are different kinds of healed shoes such as the cone, kitten, prism, puppy, spool/Louis, stiletto, and the wedge heel, to name a few.

In the history of high heels, the trend has come and gone throughout the years. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that high heels started making a comeback in fashion and in everyday wear.

Jameka Johnson, a sophomore student says, “Not only am I in love with wearing a stiletto, but any type of high heel for that matter, and knowing that the high heel has been around for so long shows that it will continue to stand the test of time.”

To honor the history and many styles of the high heel, the Brooklyn Museum opened an exhibit to display the legacy and many styles of the high heels known as “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe.”

Maria, one of the customer service representatives of the Museum states, “this exhibit pays tribute to the history of the high heel, and the contributions it has made to society, and educating people on the legacy behind the heel.”

The art exhibits features over 160 different historical and contemporary heels, that were donated by Chanel, Manolo Blahnik, Alexander McQueen, Prada, Pietro Yantorny, and Christian Louboutin.

In addition to the displays there are six short films, that served as a tribute to the high heel. The films were created by filmmakers Ghada Amer, Nick Knight, Rashaad Newsome, Marilyn Minter and more.

The high heel is typically one and a half to four inches tall, but at the exhibit there are some heels that are close to six inches. Those were specifically designed for the exhibit. In some cases the height of the heel can cause serious cons. For example, the higher the heel, the more likley it will cause lower back pain, foot and tender pain, stress on the knee, and an unbalanced gait.

While some of the pros to wearing high heels is that it gives off this tall look of about five to six inches being the maximum in height

The high heel creates a stylish look for women in their appearance especially when wearing an evening gown, or skirt to a girls night out.

Despite the high heel sometimes causing an unbalance in the way wearers walk, in the same sense it creates good body posture that helps to straighten the length of the back to produce proper airflow. Heels also build confidence in presence and appearance.

“I believe, that depending on the heel, it can determine the women’s confidence,” said Evelyn Fair, a sophomore. “I absolutely believe that women should wear high heels once in a while, because it does boost their confidence and allows them to feel sexy and good about themselves.”

The high heel has been around for many centuries and will continue to inspire and be reinvented as designers find elevating ways to keep high heels trendy.

“Every women should have a fabulous pair of high heels,” said Fair.

To learn more about the pros and cons about the history of high heel, visit The Brooklyn Museums “Killer Heels: The Art of the High-Heeled Shoe” that will continue to run until Feb.15, 2015, located on the 1st floor of the Robert E. Blum Gallery.


The Criminalization of Style

The History and Effects of Sagging

By Jenifer Valmon

Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

From the oversize baggy pants of the 90’s to the legging like, slim legs of the last decade, sagging pants have become a permanent fixture in Hip Hop as well as American popular culture. With mega stars such as Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber adopting the style, sagging pants are a part of the urban youth’s uniform, including John Jay students.

Fashions adopted by urban youths have been met with opposition throughout history. Gene Demby’s Sept. 11 post on the Code Switch blog, denotes the way in which urban street styles have been one of the main characteristics used to accuse certain individuals of being suspicious and criminal.

Demby draws parallels between the ways that the “zoot suits” of the Jazz era were synonymous with young Black and Mexican American delinquency in the 1930’s. And how saggy pants are responsible for labeling delinquency in the same group of individuals in the 90’s and today.

There has been a wave of backlash against the controversial fashion for decades with the most recent being the most forceful strike against this street style.

An unanimous vote was cast on the law against sagging pants, on July 15, in the city of Ocala, Florida. Council Woman, Mary Sue Rich, headed the vote.

Sagging your pants two inches below your waist in Ocala would have earned you up to $500 in fines and up to 60 days in jail.

“Everyone’s saying I’m targeting young black men. I’m black. I’ve been black for a long time, why would I be targeting black men? I would just like to ask one of these men, ‘What is the advantage of pulling your pants down so far?’” said Rich, on July 22, to Genevieve Shaw Brown of Good Morning America.

The decision was later overturned due to legal threat from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, claiming racial profiling of young black men and calling the law “clearly discriminatory” according to Catherine Mejia’s article on

Nelson Arroyo, 25, a senior at John Jay, admits to sagging his pants in the past. It portrayed him as “not caring about his appearance,” Arroyo said. Arroyo believes the look sells the “bad boy” persona, popular in mainstream media and attracts a negative kind of attention.

In 2010, New York Senator Eric Adams launched a campaign against sagging in NYC. In the campaign, he urged young men to drop the trend using billboards around urban areas, depicting enlarged pictures of the ill-fitting attire.

Adam’s went as far as asking School Chancellor Dennis Walcott to take the initiative to ban sagging in NYC classrooms, in his New York Post article on March 11, 2012.

“I sag my pants because I wanted to emulate the older men in my neighborhood, after I got to college it became clear that I would have to assimilate a little to adapt here at John Jay, but I didn’t necessarily abandon the idea because it’s all about a sense of style,” said Manuel Castillo, 19, John Jay sophomore and Urban Male initiative (UMI) mentee.

UMI is a campus based peer advocate-mentoring program. The program’s mission aims at helping students transcend obstacles usually attributed to being part of a minority, regardless of race or gender, but focuses on Black and Latino men. Black and Latino men have a lower graduation rate than any other group. The program provides social, academic, and personal support, as well as networking opportunities on campus.

Castillo has been a member of UMI since his freshman year and has found it to be a place to connect to his professors and to “overall better yourself.”

The fight against the popular style of dress has even reached popular television shows and social media outlets. One of the most memorable is the then 62-year-old Larry Platt’s audition on American Idol for the show’s ninth season. Platt preformed his original song “Pants On The Ground.”

“Pants on the ground, pants on the ground. Looking like a fool with your pants on the ground,” begins Platt’s song.

The more recent being, the “pull your pants up challenge,” famed by Malik S. King’s YouTube video, posted on Aug. 29.

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

Photo Courtesy of Wikicommons

In his video, similar to the ice bucket challenge, King challenges a number of friends to pull their pants up. He also claims that conversations in black communities should move away from racial profiling and he says, focus more on what we are doing to contribute to the problem by re-evaluating the way we present ourselves.

King’s comments prompted a discussion on CNN’s show “The News Room,” two days later. The commentators included political commentator Marc Lamont Hill and Tara Setmayer.

In their discussion Setmayer agreed with King’s notion that the sagging pants contribute to racial profiling by saying “in the real world presentation matters.”

Hill, on the other hand believes that there is no connection between sagging your pants and black people being criminalized. He also debunks the jail origins of the fashion as urban legend.

“The truth is before black people pulled their pants down they were still getting locked up. My concern is, that if we continue to tell young black men that they can’t behave or dress or otherwise demonstrate their way out of police oppressing, then we’re blaming the victim here,” said Hill.

Florida is not the first or only state to legally attack this style of dress. New Jersey also passed a law that banned the fashion at Wildwood boardwalks with fines ranging from $25 to $200.

In this land of the free, women seem to be more free to choose what they would like to adopt as their style . Although many women’s fashions carry specific stereotypes, none are punishable by law at this moment.

“It’s ludicrous to me. Society has this view of what the average person should look like and anything that does not match that look is demonized by society. I’m a person that enjoys expressing who he is and if someone decides to do that [sag], that’s their choice,” said Castillo.


Get Your Zen On

By: Aimee Estrada

Staff Writer

Club meetings, guest speakers, lunch, socializing, studying, and special events like karaoke; community hour is jammed with competing events. However, every week a few dozen students take to the mat instead. Yoga Wednesdays are back, and this semester yoga classes are being offered on Thursdays as well.

Rachel Shanken, a counselor in the Counseling Department, teaches Wednesday classes in the combative room (T300).  Jessica Greenfield, a Women’s Center counselor/gender-based violence prevention and Response Advocate, teaches Thursday classes in the dance studio on the C-Level of the T-Building.

So, why yoga? “What AREN’T the benefits of yoga?” Greenfield asked, “There are emotional; decreased anxiety, decreased depression, lowered stress, increased concentration, improved memory, etc, and physical; strength, flexibility, stamina, heart heath, increased lung capacity, etc. benefits.”

According to the American Osteopathic Association, “The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome,” Natalie Nevins, DO, a board-certified osteopathic family physician and certified Kundalini Yoga instructor in Hollywood, California, explained.

Additionally, Dr. Nevins said, “regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness, increases body awareness, relieves chronic stress patterns, relaxes the mind, centers attention, and sharpens concentration.”

“My first impressions were how friendly and welcoming the yoga instructors were as well as the ‘yogis,’” Icaro Soares said, a Sophomore and Forensic Psychology major who is new to yoga, “it was a non-judgmental environment which made me feel comfortable.”

Soares was part of the first class, which had a turnout of about 24 students. According to Shanken, turnout is normally around 30 students, however they were competing with karaoke that day. The students were a mix of beginners and more experiences yogis.

For those new to yoga, they can expect “to focus on breathing, moving your body, stretching, and getting your Zen on,” Shanken said. Her advice is to “wear comfortable clothing and come with and open mind.”

“Yoga was more intense than I expected but at the same time very relaxing and I felt encouraged by the instructor to keep going,” said Soares. “I’ve been going every Wednesday and I don’t plan on missing any class.”

The Women’s Center created the yoga program in the winter of 2012.  According to Greenfield, they thought, “yoga would be a great complimentary support for students dealing with some of the issues that are central to our mission.” However, at the time there were no trained yoga instructors on staff, but Greenfield said, “we were fortunate that we were able to find a registered yoga teacher who was willing to volunteer to come to John Jay and teach the class on a weekly basis.”

In May 2013, Shanken became certified as a yoga teacher and the yoga program became a joint initiative between the Women’s Center and the Counseling Department. Greenfield became certified in May 2014 and this semester classes are offered on Thursdays as well.

“I would definitely recommend friends since yoga is something that anyone can practice and it is free here at John Jay,” Soares said. “it’s been really relaxing and helping me keep focus on my studies.”

Which is the point, as Greenfield said, “Our hope is simply that our classes inspire students to take what they learn about themselves on their mats and bring it with them into their lives.”

Fashion Faux Pas

By: Darren Harris

Staff Writer

Summer is almost over and the season is beginning to change to fall, and along with the change of season, fashion seems to follow right along.

The summer fashions have seen a tremendous outburst of color such as violet tulip, freesia, white, placid blue, sand and dazzling blue in
jeans, shorts, blouses, shoes, and accessories.

So, what are the fashion mistakes to steer clear from when transitioning your wardrobe from summer to fall?

According to, one of the biggest mistakes women make during the fall season is “mixing prints,” where “florals don’t complement plaid, and paisley doesn’t work with polka dots.”

This column is not saying not to wear prints, but instead, ensure that you’re going to wear a solid color that will complement the print blouse of your choice.

Priscilla Sanchez, a John Jay student, said “every girl should have a cute print top, but they shouldn’t overdue it, and that seems to be the issue i have noticed a lot on campus is the print can sometimes overpower the entire outfit.”

Another fashion mistake during the fall season according to www.gurl. com/fashion-mistakes-faus-paux is “not layering properly,” and the importance of layers for the morning, afternoon, and evening outfits.

New Yorkers tend to experience the emotions of the weather changes, and it’s important that they layer properly through the day.

Barrie Nulman, a John Jay student, said “I always try to wear a good amount of layering during the fall season, because I know that the weather can change during the day, and it’s essential that I wear layers that not only complement my style but also the New York weather.”

What about snow or rain boots? Should you bring an extra pair of shoes to change into once you reach your destination? During the fall season, New York City can experience large amounts of rain and snow that can often kill even the most pre- pared fashionista. Rain or snow boots can conflict with the style of an outfit if they aren’t form fitting to add to the appearance. In a recent poll at John Jay, 85 percent of students voted that it is easier to keep their rain or snow boots on throughout the day instead of changing into shoes. Students, such as Denise C. Taylor, hassle with keeping on wet boots. “Although it is easier to just keep the boots on, they become difficult to walk in, and really kill the look on a girl’s outfit,” said Taylor. In this case, looks come over comfort. According to John Jay student Marcela Nash, “style outweighs comfort any day and it’s just a fashion nightmare to wear rain boots that do not compliment someone’s outfit.”

If a person decides to wear rain or snow boots, then try to choose a neutral color that can be worn with multiple outfits. Fashion is always evolving and changing, and it’s important that fashionista’s stay on top of their wardrobe to ensure that they don’t become fashion victims during a season that often demands you to choose between comfort or style. Looking at the trends that are perfect for the fall and winter seasons, such as robe coats and dresses over pants, one must be

careful with these looks as they can make or break an outfit. There are statement making trends this fall season, and if

you’re selective yet fashion forward with your style, you’ll be making heads turn.

Men’s Do’s and Don’ts

By: Jenifer Valmon

Contributing Writer

For those of you who enjoyed the hot days of summer, withdrawals are likely on the way. No need to break out the box of tissues or shed tears for your favorite summer shorts, because fall is around the corner, and I’ve got just the right tips that can help revamp your wardrobe.

Nick Carvell, from the UK GQ magazine, reviewed the fall trends of 2014 in London.

According to Carvell, biker jackets and mankets (yes, mankets) are going to be this fall’s male trend. Mankets are the scarf/cape hybrid worn by Paul Galvin, an Irish soccer player and fashion columnist for the Irish Independent News- paper, as a sort of overcoat.

Corey Stokes, of, noticed trends in New York to be sweater layering and “techy, fleece outer wear.” Both Carvell and Stokes were able to agree that “scarfs that weigh as much as three babies,” also known as mankets, are going to be big for the fall.

But the question is: Who is wearing a manket in the “move or get run over” city of New York? If you need to stop the doors from closing when you’re about to miss your train, mankets can be the perfect accessory for the fashionable subway surfer.

If you live anywhere within the five boroughs and commute to class, biker jackets are the right pick for you. They are versatile and more practical for the active John Jay men.
Biker jackets can be worn as a casual piece with a pair of sneakers,denim pants and a white t-shirt, or it can be used to bring a little edge to a pair of slim trousers and a button down shirt. Either way, little effort is needed to put together a stylish outfit.

Black is always a safe color to choose but if you want go for other colors try to keep it neutral. Look for dark indigos, dustybrowns, and shades of hunter green. These colors will allow you to mix and match when creating the rest of your look. It will also make it easier to find the right layering pieces when the temperature drops.

Leather is ideal for longevity, since it wears very well and usually looks better with time, but nylon or cotton blends will do the job while being gentle to your budget.

Whether John Jay men will wear mankets or biker jackets, only time will tell. Whatever you choose, remember to make it work for you, regardless of your style. Don’t kill yourself to follow the trends and end up fashion road kill.

Souled Out Or Sold Out

By: Ryan Durning

Staff Writer

Jhené Aiko’s debut album “Souled Out” was released on Sept. 9th. The Def Jam signed songbird has slowly brought attention to this project through a mixtape, guest appearances, and last year’s “Sail Out” EP.

Thankfully, Aiko doesn’t disappoint her fans, bringing introspective songwriting to this album in spades.

The West Coast singer is not known for having a particularly strong voice or a wide range of notes she can hit. Instead, she offers interesting takes on R&B’s well-tread subject matter through wordplay to keep listeners engaged.

Aiko usually presents lyrics that differ from the standard mainstream fare; quite often her songs convey a message or take on a deeper meaning.

The song titled “Limbo Limbo Limbo” kicks the album off with an immediate strong start, as it sets the tone for the serious nature of her LP.

“She was born in limbo / With the need to be as simple / As her makers and the made up things she dreamed” describes Jhene’s abstract style.

The distortion effects used in the last verse take away from the track but overall it’s a solid introduction to what she brings to the table as both a songwriter and singer.

The second track is one of the best songs on the album, titled “W.A.Y.S,” which is an acronym for why aren’t you

smiling. The song has an uptempo flow matched with a hypnotic beat and personal lyrics that draw on two of her biggest inspirations, her daughter Namiko and brother Miyagi.

She displays an impressive use of alliteration on the hook, singing “Life can get wild when you’re caught in a whirlwind / Lost in the world when you’re chasing the wind.”
The next couple songs are two of the

three singles released off the album, “To Live and Die” featuring Cocaine 80s and “Spotless Mind.” These songs include some of the strongest production and lyrics on the album as a whole.

The only problem is “Souled Out” doesn’t feature too much variety in terms

of sound. Heartfelt lyrics and solid technique are wonderful to have but when some of the beats start to blend together, it can quickly take away from the enjoy- ability of the song.

As the album marches on, the centerpiece “Wading” is the weakest song. “As good as it gets / I’ll have one regret / You’re something I cannot miss” doesn’t

strike the mind as memorable and Jhene’s vocal range don’t help either.

Some of her music on this album suffers from sequencing, it seems. For exam- ple “Wading” and “Eternal Sunshine” suffer from being placed right before better songs such as “The Pressure.”

“Promises” is a song about her pledges to both her deceased brother, Miyagi and

her adolescent daughter Namiko. Lyrics dedicated to her daughter like “I’ve been coming home late night / I’ve been sleeping past day light /I’m waking up you’re not by my side / Baby that ain’t right” are intimate and touching. A song that is both heartbreaking and profound, Ms. Aiko tugs at the heartstrings one last time.

Closing out the album is “Pretty Bird (Freestyle),” a spoken word/song hybrid with some unflattering vocals. Chicago rapper Common has the last verse and some uplifting wordplay to balance out Jhene’s sulky verses.

Souled Out is an impressive album in the sense that it features almost no other voice except Jhene herself. While this is increasingly rare for a major label debut, it also places all of her strengths and weak- nesses front and center. Thankfully her writing and honest approach overpowers her underpowered voice and occasionally bland beat choice.

Jeezy Spits Fire

By: Ryan Durning

Staff Writer

Jeezy has been through a lot in the music industry in the decade since his first album, including a recent arrest for gun possession after a man was killed backstage at one of his concerts.

On his latest LP, “Seen It All: The Autobiography,” he’s more concerned with his place in the rap game as a pioneer of Atlanta Trap music. Released on Sept. 9th, this is his 7th album, a feat most rappers don’t often reach.

Never a great lyricist, Jeezy gets by through perseverance and an uncanny ability to pick beats that perfectly fit his gruff voice. No one could ever accuse him of making profound, deep music that raises hard questions about the mysteries of life. Jeezy makes anthems that motivate, songs that you can work out to.

On “Seen It All”, it’s not always great that Jeezy balances his newfound need to remind us of his achievements with hisprevious ability to make bangers about drugs, women, and money. “You know I like to turn up at the spot / Act a fool with the money / G told me keep it low-key” from “4 Zones” stands out as something he has said a million times before.

“They say great minds think alike, Know what I’m thinkin? /A great grind will change your life” is an example of Jeezy hitting the right note between the two divisive styles. The title track, “Seen It All” featuring frequent collaborator Jay Z has an hauntingly looped sample and a rich layered instrumental that pairs well with both artists’ reminiscent verses.

Other times, like on “Black Eskimo” and “Beautiful”, Jeezy’s persona just isn’t enough to make up for songs we’ve heard from him 25 times on 6 previous LP’s. “I gota condo up in the sky/‘Fore I fake it, I’d die / Foreign b****, no lie /Man, that b**** beautiful” just doesn’t pass as good music anymore for such an experienced artist.

The album does have a couple bangers though, “1/4th block”, “What You Say”, and “Beez Like” all feature Jeezy at the top of his game. The Atlanta rapper excels when he is trying to push others to new heights, and these songs embody that spirit. Tracks that focus on his seedy past like “Holy Ghost” and “Win Is A Win” excel because he is able to vividly paint pictures that his charisma helps sell.

The album closes on the introspective “How I Did It (Perfection)”, which in the same vein as the title track, shows that Jeezy’s haunting past and drugs to riches

story is much more interesting than when he raps “first to tell you m********* ‘trap or die’ that’s me ok”.

Jeezy’s main problem is telling people how great and novel you are only works when you make music that isn’t generic, which is sometimes the case. Reminding everyone of the trail that he blazed working for Jay Z, when he started worrying about his legacy as he first retired. All it does for Jeezy is sound whiny and that’s the last thing we want to hear from the man who has made millions off motivating the streets.

Know Thy Selfie

By:  Jose Oropeza


If you have an Instagram or Facebook account, chances are you’ve seen one. Sometimes with more than one person, and often with a “#” symbol in the caption.

The selfie, a trend that took social media by storm, rose to hashtag status shortly after the introduction of smartphones – specifically the iPhone 4, which was released in 2010 and came with a front-facing camera.

In 2013, “selfie” was made ‘word of the year’ by Oxford Dictionaries, and is defined as “A photograph that one has taken of oneself and…uploaded to a social media website.” Researchers at Oxford found recorded uses of the word “selfie” rose from less than 500 per billion instances in January to more than 5000 per billion instances in October.

Although the concept of the selfie is by no means new, recent events like Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the 2014 Oscar’s ceremony caused a record breaking, re-tweeted selfie, that crash Twitter. The 2014 EDM song “Let Me Take A Selfie” has given the term new levels of popularity.

Judith Naeignacio, a John Jay sophomore, shared her outlook about selfie content: “These people do the duck face, their tongues sticking out like Miley Cyrus. Trying to look silly and cute, sucking in their stomachs and pouting. Some people are narcissistic.”

Two years after its first 2002 online appearance in Australia, social media outlets like Tumblr have been using “selfie” as a hashtag. Since then, users having been referring to self-taken pictures as such.

Younger people post more selfies on Instagram than older users. In New York City, the average age of people that post selfies is 25.3, a study conducted by the CUNY Graduate Center found.

The Mental Health Association is buzzing about Selfie addiction dominating places like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Even astronaut Steven R. Swanson got in on the fun. While in orbit, he one-upped his peers by being the first to Instagram a selfie from space.

Selfies are 38% more likely to receive a ‘like,’ and 32% more likely to receive comments when compared to snapshots of places, a Georgia Institute of Technology study found.

Women were found to be more likely to take selfies than men, according to the GIT study. They are also 150% more likely to tilt their head in the selfie.

Women who base their self-worth on their appearance are more likely to post selfies and maintain a large following on social media sites, a SUNY Buffalo study found.

Nikita Shurygin, a freshman at John Jay, doesn’t find the study hard to believe. “I think people who take a lot of selfies are trying to draw attention to themselves.  Maybe they have self-image issues,” he said.

And self-image issues can lead to greater problems. Danny Bowman, a 19-year-old from Britain, spent 10 hours taking selfies on one occasion.  He skipped school, lost his friends, and attempted to take his own life after not being satisfied with the quality of his seflies, The Independent reported.

“People take this selfie stuff way too seriously,” Shurygin said shaking his head. “It seems like selfies on Instagram and the ‘likes’ they receive socially rank people.”

But selfies are not to blame, some experts say.

“Clearly there’s something more going on. Selfies were just a medium [Bowman] was using. It’s not the selfie that’s the problem,” Deborah Miller, a certified school psychologist, said.

“He sounds like he has obsession, and clearly, self esteem issues. His suicide is not connected with selfies, nor are selfies a cause of what occurred.,” Miller said.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a treatment offered to combat this trend of socially handicapped individuals. According to the Beck Institute, CBT “helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral change.”

Regardless of emerging statistical evidence concerning selfies, they might be helpful to individuals.

“Young adults in college are typically very concerned with their appearance, and when they can take photos of themselves when they look their very best – that’s important,” Miller said.

Selfies can boost a person’s self-esteem, Miller argues. “Individuals are able to stage how they look, and post photos that they find to be most attractive. It’s a quick fix for issues concerning self-confidence, and self-esteem.”

Well, thank goodness for selfies. #winning 

Marcela Sanchez contributed to this article. 

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