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March 2021: Every Review I Wrote

April 4, 2021

Movies – I got back to “normal” life during the last week of March, re-activating my AMC A-list membership and returning to the movie theaters. I also got back to doing my day job: playing poker. I still watched an absurd amount of movies in March, but with getting back to the poker grind last week and doing all my fantasy baseball drafts (five of them!) the week before that, I didn’t review most of the movies I watched. I’m guess that’s how it will be going forward. I’ll probably still watch 2-4 movies a week, but I won’t have much time to write about them. If I wind up reviewing a movie that I haven’t yet, I’ll just post the link in next month’s post like this. I’ll say this much: Anthony Hopkins in The Father is my favorite performance of 2020.

Movies I watched, but didn’t review (ratings out of 10):

  • Nobody (2021) – 7/10
  • The White Tiger (Netflix, 2021) – Nominated for Best Original Screenplay – 7/10
  • What Would Sophia Loren Do? (Netflix, 2021) – On shortlist for Best Documentary Short Subject – 6/10
  • Better Days (2020) – Nominated for Best International Feature – 7/10
  • A Love Song for Latasha (Netflix, 2020) – Nominated for Best Documentary Short Subject – 6/10
  • If Anything Happens I Love You (Netflix, 2020) – Nominated for Best Animated Short – 8/10
  • News of the World (2020) – Nominated for 4 Oscars – 6/10
  • Quo Vadis, Aida? (2020) – Nominated for Best International Feature – 8/10
  • The Father (2020) – Nominated for 6 Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Adapted Screenplay – 8/10
  • The Midnight Sky (Netflix, 2020) – Nominated for Best Visual Effects – 5/10
  • To: Gerard (Peacock, 2020) – On the shortlist for Best Animated Short – 6/10
  • Just Mercy (2019) – 8/10
  • Phantasm 2 (1988) – 6/10
  • Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) – 6/10
  • Friday the 13th Part 3 (1982) – 5/10
  • Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981) – 6/10
  • Friday the 13th (1980) – 7/10

2021 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2021 through March
2020 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2020 through March
2020 Best Documentaries/Docu-Series: My top documentary style films of the year
2020/2021 Oscar Watch: My list of favorites for the major Oscar categories
Focused Watchlist: A list of 30 movies that are at the top of my watchlist with a breakdown of how I formulate my picks
April 2021 – New to Theaters and Streaming: Ranking new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming or theaters this month

I also went crazy and made a best films of the year list for every year from 2020 to 1982, the year I was born. I ranked 25 films for 2000 and later and 10 films for 1999 to 1982. I started fizzling out on my lists in the early 90s as I just haven’t seen most of the important films from those early years when I was a kid. I have all the lists on my blog here. Enjoy!

T.V. Shows (Ratings out of 5)

  • WandaVision – Season 1 (2021) – Disney+ – 2.5
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 2 (2016) – Netflix – 4.5
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 3 (2017) – Netflix – 4
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 4 (2018) – Netflix – 4.5
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 5 (2019) – Netflix – 4.5

Music

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March 2021 Music Ratings

April 1, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Benny the Butcher & Harry Fraud – The Plugs I Met 2


Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in March (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021. I’ll include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

*indicates February 2021 release

  1. The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (1997) – 9+ [unranked]
  2. Jadakiss – Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001) – 6+ [unranked]
  3. *Benny the Butcher – The Plugs I Met 2 – 7+
  4. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die (1994) – 9+ [unranked]
  5. *Ghetts – Conflict of Interest – 6+
  6. *Lana Del Rey – Chemtrails Over the Country Club – 6+
  7. The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You – 6+ [unranked]
  8. Mos Def – Black On Both Sides (1999) – 8+ [unranked]
  9. *Pink Sweat$ – Pink Planet – 6+
  10. Marlon Craft – How We Intended – 6+ [6]
  11. *Rod Wave – SoulFly
  12. Toby Ganger – Free Machine (Unreleased) – 8+ [20]
  13. JAY-Z – 4:44 (2017) – 8+ [unranked]
  14. *KOTA The Friend – To Kill A Sunrise
  15. Madison Beer – Life Support [11]
  16. *Robin Thicke – On Earth, and in Heaven
  17. Tash Sultana – Terra Firma – 7+ [1]
  18. Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket – 8+ [unranked]
  19. Courtney Bell – Poverty Stricken – 7+ [4]
  20. Sheek Louch – Beast Mode, Vol. 4 [unranked]
  21. *slowthai – TYRON

The 25 Artists I’ve Listened To The Most In 2021

Notes: Last month I listened to a ton of Biggie. I haven’t been posting many album reviews, but I got them coming for both of Biggie’s albums. I have also been a long time Jadakiss nonbeliever and I’ll probably be giving him some extra attention in the near future because I either wanna prove myself right or start loving someone I’ve never given enough credit to. I pretty much have his first album reviewed – I just need to post it. I started playing live poker again this past week and that is going to drastically increase the amount of time I spend listening to music. Yesterday I listened to Scarface my whole session and that was good enough to almost get him into my top 10 for the year.

  1. The Notorious B.I.G. [unranked]
  2. Eminem [2]
  3. MC Eiht [1]
  4. MF DOOM [3]
  5. Benny the Butcher [unranked]
  6. Kid Cudi [4]
  7. Courtney Bell [6]
  8. Tash Sultana [13]
  9. Boldy James [5]
  10. Nyck Caution [11]
  11. Scarface [unranked]
  12. Tyrone’s Jacket [17]
  13. Dua Lipa [7]
  14. Sa-Roc [16]
  15. KOTA The Friend [unranked]
  16. Jadakiss [unranked]
  17. Toby Ganger [unranked]
  18. Lana Del Rey [unranked]
  19. Pharoahe Monch [19]
  20. Chris Stapleton [unranked]
  21. Marlon Craft [unranked]
  22. SZA [9]
  23. Kali Uchis [unranked]
  24. Freddie Gibbs [unranked]
  25. Mac Miller [14]

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

38 Spesh (feat. Benny the Butcher), “Stash Box”
Benny the Butcher (feat. 2 Chainz), “Plug Talk”
Courtney Bell, “Celebrate”
Elcamino (feat. Benny the Butcher), “Immunity”
Gukie, “Make It a Double”
KOTA the Friend, “Wolves”
Lil Tjay & 6LACK, “Calling My Phone”
Lucky Daye (feat. Mahalia), “My Window”
Masego (feat. JID & Rapsody), “Somethin’ Ain’t Right”
Nyck Caution (feat. KOTA the Friend & Erick the Architect), “Product Of My Environment”
Nyck Caution (feat. Joey Bada$$), “How You Live It”



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The Dark Knight Returns: a 2021 Poker Blog!

March 31, 2021

My poker blog was kind of on its way out anyways, but the Covid pandemic officially killed it. I was still playing regularly during the first two weeks of March, but the day that the NBA decided to suspend their season indefinitely is the same day that I decided it was time for me to take this thing seriously as well. I quit my session early and I didn’t go back again until late August. I did make a two day trip to La Center in southern Washington in late January where I had a couple of dream sessions and booked a +$9k trip and that was pretty much the extent of my poker success in 2020. Even when I was back to playing in the fall, we were in a tent, I was wearing gloves 100% of the time, and it just never felt like I was really back. I couldn’t get into it. When Covid started spreading around the local casinos in late October, I decided that I wasn’t going to play again until I got vaccinated.

I have to say this whole thing could have been a lot worse for my poker career. Just because I can’t work anymore doesn’t mean that I don’t have to pay bills and when you can’t pad your bankroll, well, it can only disappear. I was probably two months into the pandemic before it dawned on me that I should look into filing for unemployment. As a professional poker player, it just didn’t occur to me that that could be a thing for me. On the other hand, I pay my taxes and these were unusual circumstances. I was surprised how easy it was for me to get paid after hearing so many horror stories of people having trouble and how impossible it was to talk to anybody about it. Within a week, they paid me, and not just for that week, but all the weeks dating back to the middle of March. I stopped filing when I started playing again, but after deciding it wasn’t worth the risk, I got a doctor’s note (because I’m a Type I Diabetic) and started collecting unemployment again. Needless to say, there’s no way I would have been able to continue playing for a living if I wasn’t able to file for unemployment so that was an extremely pleasant surprise. I’d like to say it wasn’t as good as playing would have been, but uh, not like I was really crushing in 2019 or last year when I did play.

There is a bright side to this whole thing for me. I got way better at studying poker. I started using solvers, looking at GTO charts, and going over hand histories with accomplished online players. It’s not like I could do much of anything else. Also, I’ve been so reluctant to make the transition from limit games to spread and no limit games, but almost all of my studying during the past year has been focused on no limit strategies so there’s no excuse for me to hold off on it any longer. I will be playing plenty of no limit cash going forward and my tournament schedules will include a lot more no limit Hold’em events. I’ve always felt like I’ve been able to mostly hold my own in NLHE, but I think I’ve leveled up big time and I’m excited to see what kind of results I can produce.

It’s good timing because since I’ve been away, Palace has started spreading no limit cash games. On any given day, there are probably two 1/3 NL games going and I’ve even seen 3/5 games going a few times on the weekend. This was not a thing a year ago and that only contributed to me not really feeling like I needed to focus on strengthening that muscle. I’m still not entirely sure that I can make a better hourly playing 1/3 than 8/16 limit, but I do know that my skill edge comes into play more and I can utilize exploits way more effectively. I won’t go as far as to say that limit Hold’em is Bingo, but you’re usually going to have to show down the best hand and my biggest edges in those games are patience and not tilting because I’ve lost a couple pots. If I can make ten big blinds per hour in 1/3 though, I should definitely be playing that over 8/16. I don’t know if that’s a reasonable win rate, but it seems like it could be doable.

I started my first day back in 4/8 limit and finished a small loser in about an hour before heading to a 1/3 game around 6 PM. I was pretty disappointed with the game when I sat down in it. Everyone was playing pretty tight and passive and the average pot was really small. I was definitely thinking I’d be better off in 8/16. But there was only one game and the list was super long and the floor didn’t seem keen on starting a second one. So I stuck it out.

In my first couple hour or so, I was startled by the passivity in my game. Here’s a list of things that shocked me:

-My first big pot I straddled the button with 73o, some players called and we saw a J43 flop. It checked to me and I decided to bet on the larger side and got one caller from middle position. The turn gave me two pair and he check-called another chunky bet. The river was a king and I was thinking I was going to put him all-in, but he donked into for about half his stack and I just didn’t see any value in raising so I called and he showed me… JJ? Imagine seeing a $6 button straddle, followed by both blinds calling, looking down at JJ and being like, “I guess I’ll just call.”

-A different player ended up showing AQo in a pot I straddled on the button with no other preflop raising.

-A different player open-limped the cutoff and called my button raise and ended up showing… QQ.

-The same player that had AQ earlier called my MP open to $10 with AQ again, despite only having $40 behind.

-A different player flatted my MP open of $10 with less than $100 and ended up showing AK.

All of those hands are insane to me. It reminds me of when I used to prop 3/6 games where no one raises anything preflop. It’s just weird. It can be really easy to value town yourself when people are playing huge hands so passively.

Fortunately the game got really good as the night progressed. By midnight I saw someone opening to $30 and probably not even looking at his hand. I saw that same player open huge and then call off a $200 shove with 43o.

Which brings me to an interesting hand. I already know this guy is a certifiable maniac. Not a maniac with any rhyme or reason, but a total punter. So he opens to $20 and it folds to me in the big blind and I defend with 66. The flop is T32 rainbow. I check to him and he bets $50 into $33. I actually hate all of my options. This is a dude that I am not entirely sure wouldn’t punt-shove it all in here with KJ and it’s not like I want to get $280 in on the flop, so raising seems extremely high variance. Calling seems like a good play, but I don’t expect this dude to slow down and I think he’s usually going to be triple barrel all-in on the river, so if I call flop, I think I have to know I’m calling down for stacks and I can’t imagine many runouts where I’d talk myself into a fold vs. this player. So fold now? Seems absurd, but I just think I can find a better spot to stack this guy. The only issue is that he might punt to someone else first. I decided to wait and find a better spot and, sure enough, he blasted off $500 to me over the next 30 minutes.

I had some good connections that probably never should have happened. The guy that had a set of jacks against my 73 earlier straddled to $9 on his button and I made it $32 from the big blind with my own pair of jacks. He was my only caller and we saw a J83 flop. I down bet $15 and he called. The turn paired the 8 and I down bet again to $30. I figured he might attack that sizing if he had a draw or air, but he wasn’t going to fold anything good and he was going to raise trips anyway. He did make it $90 and I just called. The river was a blank and I check-jammed on him and got called by 87o, a hand that should have clearly folded pre.

Later, there were a couple limpers and the cutoff made it $13 and I had KQo on the button. I’d 3-bet here a lot of the time, but I hadn’t seen this guy do much raising, so I just took a flop in position and four of us saw a JT3 flop. One of the blinds led out for $10, a limper called, and the PFR made it $30. I’m not going anywhere against this action so I call and so do the other two players. The turn is a blank and the PFR bets $60 when it checks to him. Another simple just call and one other calls. The river is an ace and the PFR bets almost half his stack. As soon as I start thinking, he tells me how much he has behind like he can’t wait to put the rest of it in. So I oblige him. The other player folds and he says, “aces are good, ” before calling and flipping over his set of jacks. KQ wasn’t even on his radar and when he saw it, he pretty much blew a gasket. “How could you call with that? I guess I should have just gone all-in preflop.” I confirmed I would have folded if he did that. His reaction to my hand is hilarious and makes me really excited to be playing no limit with the local player pool.

I started off my night kind of rough. I was $800 within the first couple hours, but by the end of the night I had $2000 in front of me and ended up booking a $1200 win on my first day back.

I’ve now played three 1/3 sessions at Palace (I played twice in the fall) and I’ve won over $1000 all three times. Obviously, that’s not a realistic expectation going forward, but it’s certainly a nice start in my transition to big bet games.

I haven’t really ironed out my poker goals for 2021, but my current schedule has me playing about 34 hours a week and I’ll probably be playing mostly 1/3 with some 8/16 and 20/40 sprinkled in.

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Che Noir – After 12 (2020)

March 17, 2021

Genre: Rap

Release Date: December 4th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

  1. Foxy’s Intro – N/A
  2. Cruise Control (feat. The Musalini) – 4
  3. Hunger Games (feat. Ransom & 38 Spesh) – 4.5
  4. Reasons (feat. Jynx) – 3.5
  5. Divine Knowledge – 3.75
  6. Moment in the Sun (feat. Rj Payne & Sa-Roc) – 4.5
  7. Grace (feat. Amber Simone) – 3.75

Spin Rate:
Average Song Rating: 4/5
3.5+ Percentage: 100%
Skip Factor: 0%
Bangers: 3

Thoughts: This was Che’s third extremely high quality project of 2020 and her album with Apollo Brown was a legit Album of the Year contender. I’d say all that makes her a legit candidate for hip-hop’s MVP award last year. As you can see above, this is a short project, but she still has multiple mega-bangers and gets one of the highest average song ratings of any project I’ve ever reviewed. Che has a knack for getting elite production and features (I love seeing her collab with Sa-Roc here), plus she has a tremendous amount of talent herself. I don’t mind someone releasing this much music if it’s this good. If you been sleeping on Che Noir, it’s well past time to wake up.

Verdict: 8/10 (Great)

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February 2021 Music Ratings

March 7, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Tash Sultana – Terra Firma


Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in February (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021. I’ll include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

*indicates February 2021 release

  1. *Tash Sultana – Terra Firma – 7+
  2. Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By – Side B [15]
  3. SZA – Ctrl (2017) – 9
  4. Courtney Bell – Poverty Stricken – 7+
  5. MC Eiht – LESSONS [1]
  6. *Marlon Craft – How We Intended
  7. Pharoahe Monch & th1rt3en – A Magnificent Day For an Exorcism – 6+
  8. *Devin the Dude – Soulful Distance – 6+
  9. *Lucky Daye – Table For Two
  10. Sa-Roc – The Sharecropper’s Daughter – review coming soon
  11. *Madison Beer – Life Support
  12. Brother Ali – The Undisputed Truth (2007) – 9
  13. *Dorian Whyte – Truth Be Told
  14. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon III: The Chosen [5] – 6
  15. Breeze Brewin – Hindsight
  16. Che Noir – After 12 – review coming soon
  17. Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom (2017) – 8+
  18. Mac Ayres – Magic 8ball
  19. Nyck Caution – Anywhere But Here [14]
  20. Toby Ganger – Free Machine – 8+
  21. *VanJess – Homegrown
  22. Your Old Droog – It Wasn’t Even Close

The 20 Artists I’ve Listened To The Most In 2021

Notes: I spread my listening out a lot more this past month and spent very little time focusing on brand new releases since there were very few I was interested in. I created a playlist of artists and albums I feel I’ve overlooked and want to get more familiar with and listened to that. I was actually inspired to do this when I heard MF DOOM had passed away and realized how little of his catalog I had listened to. I also split time between my Brand New, All-Time Favorites, and Best of 2020 playlists.

  1. MC Eiht
  2. Eminem
  3. MF DOOM
  4. Kid Cudi
  5. Boldy James
  6. Courtney Bell
  7. Dua Lipa
  8. Chris Stapleton
  9. SZA
  10. Joji
  11. Nyck Caution
  12. Roc Marciano
  13. Tash Sultana
  14. Mac Miller
  15. Playboi Carti
  16. Sa-Roc
  17. Tyrone’s Jacket
  18. Jessie Ware
  19. Pharoahe Monch
  20. Rina Sawayama

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

Courtney Bell (feat. Dcmbr), “Hold You Down (Super Woman)”
Courtney Bell, “25 Hours”
Freddie Gibbs (feat. ScHoolboy Q), “Gang Signs”
Gukie, “Make It a Double”
Nipsey Hussle & JAY-Z, “What It Feels Like”
Tash Sultana, “Pretty Lady”
WESTSIDE BOOGIE & Joey Bada$$, “Outside”



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February 2021: Every Review I Wrote

March 1, 2021

Movies – I went crazy again in February and watched a movie almost every day. I will probably do something similar in March, but by the start of April, I will be fully vaxxed and cleared for takeoff (back to my day job of playing poker) and my days of watching 25 movies a month will be coming to an end. Still, I have the expectation that I can watch every feature film, documentary, and international film that gets an Oscar nomination before the Oscars air in late April and that’s something I’ve never done before.

Movies I watched, but didn’t review:

  • Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (2020) – 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)
  • Tinker Tailor Solider Spy (2011) – did not rate cause I had a hard time following it
  • In the Mood for Love (2000) – 8/10 (Great/Must See)
  • Re-Animator (1985) – 7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

2020 Best Feature Films: My top 25 of 2020 through February
2020 Best Documentaries/Docu-Series: My top documentary style films of the year
2020/2021 Oscar Watch: My list of favorites for the major Oscar categories
Focused Watchlist: A list of 30 movies that are at the top of my watchlist with a breakdown of how I formulate my picks
March 2021 – New to Streaming Ranking of new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming this month

I also went crazy and made a best films of the year list for every year from 2020 to 1982, the year I was born. I ranked 25 films for 2000 and later and 10 films for 1999 to 1982. I started fizzling out on my lists in the early 90s as I just haven’t seen most of the important films from those early years when I was a kid. I have all the lists on my blog here. Enjoy!

T.V. Shows

  • Succession – Season 2 (2019) – HBO Max – 5/5
  • Succession – Season 1 (2018) – HBO Max – 5/5
  • Pen15 – Season 2 (2020) – Hulu – 3/5
  • Schitt’s Creek – Season 1 (2015) – Netflix – 4/5

Music

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Eminem – Music To Be Murdered By – Side B (2020)

February 19, 2021

Genre: Rap

Release Date: December 18th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

  1. Alfred (Intro) – N/A
  2. Black Magic (feat. Skylar Grey) – 3
  3. Alfred’s Theme – 3.75
  4. Tone Deaf – 3.5
  5. Book of Rhymes (feat. DJ Premier) – 3.25
  6. Favorite Bitch (feat. Ty Dolla $ign) – 3
  7. Guns Blazing (feat. Dr. Dre & Sly Pyper) – 3
  8. Gnat – 3.75
  9. Higher – 3.75
  10. These Demons (feat. MAJ) – 3.5
  11. Key (Skit) – N/A
  12. She Loves Me – 3.5
  13. Killer – 3.75
  14. Zeus (feat. White Gold) – 4
  15. Thus Far (Interlude) – N/A
  16. Discombobulated – 3.75

Spin Rate: 7+
Average Song Rating: 3.5/5
3.5+ Percentage: 69%
Skip Factor: 11.5%
Bangers: 1

Thoughts: Eminem has kind of become a master at making incomplete songs. At least for me. This album is a clinic in making music that is mostly pretty decent but almost every song has an aspect to it that I don’t like. In “Book of Rhymes” the beat is horrendous. How are you going to have a song that says it features DJ Premier and he’s not even producing it? I was really looking forward to this collaboration and it’s not even a thing. “Favorite Bitch” features Ty Dolla $ign, one of the top hook makers in the hip-hop world right now, and his hook is TERRIBLE. “Guns Blazing” has a Dr. Dre verse and a hook that I just can’t get into. Even the songs that I like a lot tend to feature a beat or flow switch that doesn’t really work for me. The rapping on this album is pretty good, but that’s not much of a surprise – Eminem can still rap his ass off. He can also drop some ultra corny bars, but I’d say that his cleverness and rhyming ability still far outweigh these eyeroll-inducing lines.

I like Side A substantially more than Side B, but if you look at both of my reviews you’ll notice Side B has a higher average song rating. That’s because the highs on Side A are much higher than they are here, but the lows are also much lower (it’s also because this is the first album I started using .25 and .75 when I can’t decide between two ratings). Side B doesn’t have any pure skips, but it also only has one true banger. “Zeus” is a really good song, but I think it’s the only track where Eminem really puts it all together on this album. I’ll take whatever I can get from Eminem (well, not Revival), but I also feel like he’s just going to keep stringing together technically proficient verses while not making all that great of music.

Verdict: 6/10 (Recommended)

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MC Eiht – Lessons (2020)

February 4, 2021

Genre: Rap

Release Date: September 18th, 2020

Song Rating Scale

  1. Get Money Man (feat. B-Real) – 3.5
  2. That’s Perfect (feat. Tha Chill) – 4
  3. Honcho (feat. Conway the Machine) – 4
  4. Bluue Wave – 3.5
  5. Can’t Nobody (feat. Kokane) – 4
  6. U Kno – 4
  7. Ambition – 3.5
  8. Lessons – 4.5
  9. U Not Me – 4
  10. That 83 (feat. That Chill & Diamond Rich) – 3.5
  11. Courted In (feat. Dave East & Tha Chill) – 3.5
  12. Things We Go Through (feat. Cherell Terri) – 4
  13. Past Mistakes (feat. Talib Kweli) – 4
  14. I Got U – 3.5
  15. Whut U Really On – 3.5
  16. On the Real Tho (feat. Yukmouth & Tha Chill) – 3.5
  17. Stand Up (feat. Mitchy Slick & Tha Chill) – 3.5
  18. Neighborhood Looks (feat. Havoc & Kurupt) – 4.5
  19. Magic (feat. Young Noble & Tha Chill) – 4.5
  20. We Got – 4

Spin Rate: 9
Average Song Rating: 3.85/5
3.5+ Percentage: 100%
Pure Skips: 0
Bangers: 11

Thoughts: No album in 2020 took me by surprise more than this gem from Compon’s MC Eiht. When I saw it in the new releases section the weekend it came out, I didn’t even give it a skim. I just don’t expect much from an old school gangsta rap artist in 2020 and it’s not like I’ve ever been much of a fan anyway. But then I saw a thread about it on a hip-hop message board I’ve been posting on since 1999 (LOL) and people I have similar taste as were saying it was nice.

Well, Lessons is insanely good. I actually had to re-think what a 3.5 and a 4 song is to me because so many tracks on this album blur the line between what I think is a good song and what I think is an absolute banger. MC Eiht isn’t an amazing rapper, lyrically or vocally, but the production and song-writing on Lessons are so good that the whole project is elevated to a pretty elite level. I enjoy the beat, hook, and vibe of every track on here. It’s not like MC Eiht is weak on the mic either. He has a very smooth delivery and while his lyrics and rhymes schemes are relatively simple, he is adept at painting a picture of the stories he is telling. It’s a pretty remarkable feat to put out an album with 20 songs and zero skips – and honestly, nothing is even close to a skip – plus I think over half the album is pure fire.

Lessons is one of two albums from 2020 (the other being Che Noir & Apollo Brown’s As God Intended) that feel like immediate hip-hop classics. This album is straight heat from top to bottom. An absolute must listen and one of the best rap albums from last year. Don’t sleep.

Verdict: 9/10 (Amazing)

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January 2021 Music Ratings

February 2, 2021

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

MC Eiht – LESSONS

Notes: January was a super slow month for new music. I only added a handful of new albums and only two 2021 releases cracked the top 20 albums I listened to the most over the past month. Because of this, I cheated and gave Album of the Month to something that came out over four months ago… and why not? I listened to MC Eiht’s <i>LESSONS</i> more than any other album last month. It’s incredible. I have a review coming for it soon, so I won’t say much else now, but if you’ve been sleeping, it’s time to wake up. I’ll go ahead and include a rough rating for each album to make my feelings on each project clearer.  The more I’ve listened to an album, the more accurate my rating is. Any rating that has a + symbol means that I’ve found my floor, but I could rate it higher. I won’t leave a rating for anything I don’t have a good feel for yet.

Rating Scale

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Amazing
8 – Great
7 – Highly Enjoyable
6 – Recommended/Good
5 – Decent/Cool
4 – Lackluster
3 – Bad
2 – Horrible
1 – Torture Material

Top 20 Albums in January (all ratings are out of 10)

Note: These albums are NOT ranked in order of preference; they are ranked in order of number of songs listened to (scrobbles) over the past month. Previous ranking in brackets. Year of release in parentheses if it’s not 2020 or 2021.

*indicates January 2021 release

  1. MC Eiht – LESSONS – 8+
  2. MF DOOM & Madlib – Madvillainy (2004) – 7+
  3. Chris Stapleton – Starting Over – 7+
  4. Joji – Nectar – 7
  5. Kid Cudi – Man on the Moon III: The Chosen [4] – 6
  6. Playboi Carti – Whole Lotta Red [12] – 3
  7. Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure? [8] – 9
  8. Rina Sawayama – SAWAYAMA – 6+
  9. Dua Lipa – Dua Lipa (2017) – 7+
  10. Boldy James & Sterling Toles – Manger on McNichols – 6+
  11. Roc Marciano – Reasonable Drought – 7+
  12. Taylor Swift – evermore [16] – 7+
  13. KRS-One – Between Da Protests – 6+
  14. *Nyck Caution – Anywhere But Here – 6+
  15. Eminem – Murder To Be Murdered By – Side B [2] – 6
  16. Tyrone’s Jacket – Tyrone’s Jacket [3] – 8+
  17. Flee Lord – In The Name Of Prodigy
  18. Lianne La Havas – Lianne La Havas
  19. Isaiah Rashad – Cilvia Demo (2014) – 8+
  20. *KOTA The Friend – Lyrics to GO, Vol. 2 – 6+

The 20 Artists I Listened To The Most In January

Notes: I spread my listening out a lot more this past month and spent very little time focusing on brand new releases since there were very few I was interested in. I created a playlist of artists and albums I feel I’ve overlooked and want to get more familiar with and listened to that. I was actually inspired to do this when I heard MF DOOM had passed away and realized how little of his catalog I had listened to. I also split time between my Brand New, All-Time Favorites, and Best of 2020 playlists.

  1. MF DOOM
  2. MC Eiht
  3. Boldy James
  4. Kid Cudi
  5. Chris Stapleton
  6. Eminem
  7. Joji
  8. Playboi Carti
  9. Jessie Ware
  10. Mac Miller
  11. Dua Lipa
  12. Rina Sawayama
  13. Roc Marciano
  14. Taylor Swift
  15. KRS-One
  16. Nyck Caution
  17. Nipsey Hussle
  18. Sam Cooke
  19. Tyrone’s Jacket
  20. A Tribe Called Quest

Bangerz Playlist Additions – Follow me on Apple Music @DarkKnight1717 to add my playlists
2020 Bangers Playlist
2021 Bangers Playlist

38 Spesh (feat. Ransom & Klass Murda), “Toll Booth”
38 Spesh, “Road Back”
Che Noir (feat. The Musalini), “Cruise Control”
Chris Stapleton, “Joy of My Life”
Flip Huston (feat. Jim Jones), “Outta My Mind”
Flip Huston (feat. Dame D.O.L.L.A.), “Momma I Made It”
Flip Huston, “You Know The Vibes”
Jessie Ware, “Spotlight”
Jessie Ware, “What’s Your Pleasure?”
Jessie Ware, “Ooh La La”
Jessie Ware, “In Your Eyes”
Jessie Ware, “The Kill”
Joji, “Your Man”
Kid Cudi (feat. Phoebe Bridgers), “Lovin’ Me”
Kid Cudi, “The Void”
MC Eiht (feat. Young Noble & Tha Chill), “Magic”
Nyck Caution, “Dirt On Your Name”


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January 2021: All My Movie/T.V. Show/Album Reviews for the Month

February 1, 2021

Movies – I went kind of crazy this past month and watched a movie almost every day. I continued to put a dent in my 2020 watchlist and when I wasn’t watching new releases I was catching up on some horror movies I’ve missed over the years or wanted to re-watch. I post these reviews on Letterboxd and Facebook/Twitter as I write them, but I figure I should make a post at the end of each month with links to all the reviews I posted. Somehow, I watched 50 movies over the past two months and none of them were directed by Martin Scorsese, the director I’ve been focusing on over the past year. Ah well. I’ll be looking to correct that in February.

2020/2021 Oscar Watch: My list of favorites for the major Oscar categories
2021 Releases Watchlist: Ranking of 2021 releases I want to see including January, February, and Sundance releases
2020 Releases Watchlist: Ranking of 2020 releases I still want to see
February 2021 – New to Streaming Watchlist: Ranking of new and old movies I want to see coming to streaming this month

T.V. Shows – I completely revamped my T.V. rating page. I have also sorted all the shows by season and the year their first episode aired.

  • Cobra Kai – Season 3 (2021) – 3
  • The Crown – Season 4 (2020) – 4
  • Harley Quinn – Season 2 (2020) – 3.5
  • The Mandolorian – Season 2 (2020) – 4.5
  • Stargirl – Season 1 (2020) – 3
  • What We Do in the Shadows – Season 2 (2020) – 4
  • Pen15 – Season 1 (2019) – 4

Music – I didn’t review much music this past month, but I’ve been rating songs in my Brand New playlist all month, so I should have more albums to talk about next month even though (as you will see) January was a slow month for new music.