Sophistafunk Spins Conscious Rhymes With Heady Vibes On New Album “Real Vibration” [Review]

first_imgOn Valentine’s Day, Syracuse-based hip-hop band Sophistafunk released Real Vibration, their newest collection of material, featuring seven high-quality cuts as well as their seven corresponding instrumentals. The trio, made up of keyboardist/bassist Adam Gold, drummer Emanuel Washington, and MC Jack Brown, have made a name for themselves in a live music scene that appreciates–though often doesn’t heavily feature–hip-hop by taking an eclectic approach to their music. Explains Brown, “Our style blends funk, soul, and jam music with East Coast hip-hop flows, which are known for wordplay, rhyme schemes, and lyricism.  The music is about similar themes as Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Talib Kweli, and Rage Against the Machine, among others, and hopefully it inpires more people to get down with the message of peace and unity.”The group has kept busy over the past few years touring with funk and jam bands like The Motet, Orgone, EOTO and Dumpstaphunk, among others, helping cement themselves as a sort of “hip-hop band for the jam fan.” As Brown explains, “You know, back in the day on the northeast scene, you always had hip hop artists collaborating with the jam bands and funky musicians of the era. I think it’s because the positive, conscious message of underground hip hop has always resonated with the psychedelic music community. For example, there were groups like Granola Funk Express that spawned on the festival circuit and carried the torch for both movements. [Adam Gold] was a teenager going to the Wetlands in NYC around this time. Through the years over there you’d have The Roots playing downstairs, or Soulive, and so many others laying the foundation for what we now consider ‘jam,’ ‘live EDM,’ and ‘neo-soul’. Remember, the so-called ‘genres’ that people buy on the internet are not born independently. This was all happening at the same time, often in the same rooms, on the live music scene, which was – and still is – a living, breathing organism.”Real Vibration perfectly embodies Brown’s assessment of Sophistafunk’s unique sound, featuring seven tracks worth of blunt-ride beats and Internet-age paranoia and resistance. Funky protest track “Translucent” offers itself as a “musical solution to mass pollution,” with Brown delivering biting bars that evoke the style of heady underground MCs like Atmosphere‘s Slug. “This Life” sees Brown shine some light on the outfit’s musical DNA–part funk and jam, part beats and bars–as he proclaims “I love live music” over a 90s-style back beat.The socially conscious “No More War” dips into the chaotic paranoia of our social media society, as sparse funk interspersed with digital fills mirrors the chaos of today’s world, before well-placed horns bolster the song’s “we gotta love each other” refrain.“Make Em Clap” continues on the album’s conscious themes, as Brown proclaims, “I’m not a rapper, I’m an activist”–though lines like “esoteric eloquence/Still I stay relevant” show that there’s room for him to be a bit of both.“Duke of Errl” tells the saga of “dabs,” sampling sound bytes of TV news PSA’s warning parents about the perils of marijuana concentrates. Toking-up is far from an unusual topic in hip-hop, but few artists have hit the relatively new wax trend head-on like Sophistafunk does on this track. They approach the topic with equal parts enjoyment for its pros and restrained caution for its cons, with extra pep added by layered horn fills courtesy of Andy Frasco & The U.N.‘s Ernie Chang. Brown even earns extra “heady points” shouting out The Lot (“You can find me on Shakedown Street”).The album rounds out with title track “Real Vibration,” a slow jam laden with enthrallingly spacey synths. It serves as an appropriate coda for the LP: laid-back vibes, mindful rhymes, and THC-infused good times. Take a dab and press play. This is one session you definitely want to get down on.last_img read more

International Students may be forced out of the US if Universities opt to go online

first_imgAccording to Immigration and Customs Enforcement international students who are taking courses in the US may be at risk of deportation if their University opts to transition into online classes only.The agency made the announcement on Monday stating that students with certain visas “may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States,” adding that, “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.”The move may affect thousands of foreign students who have come to the US to take courses through universities, colleges, and those participating in training programs.Harvard, which has decided to offer strictly online courses until the pandemic subsides, spoke out about the announcement saying it undermines their efforts to keep students safe by keeping them off campus:“we are deeply concerned that the guidance issued today by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement imposes a blunt, one-size-fits-all approach to a complex problem giving international students, particularly those in online programs, few options beyond leaving the country or transferring schools,” Harvard University President Larry Bacow said Monday in a statement.The agency says international students who want to remain in the US should consider other measures like transferring to  a school that is still offering in-person instruction or to one that offers a hybrid of both online and in-person classes.Harvard says it will “work closely with other colleges and universities around the country to chart a path forward.”While students do have the opt to transfer schools, many colleges and universities have opted to transition from in-person to online courses making in-person courses more difficult to come by. Some colleges and universities have also opted to shorten their semesters.last_img read more

(Updated 6 p.m., Friday) Spencer Weikal enters guilty plea to second degree murder

first_imgby Tracy McCue, Sumner Newscow — Spencer Weikal, 25, of Wellington pled no contest which was essentially a guilty plea to second degree murder of 2-year-old Larrissa Foster at Sumner County District Court today.The guilty plea comes nearly two years after the death of Foster, who died at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita stemming from alleged abuse on Nov. 29, 2011.The motion resulted from a plea agreement between prosecuting attorney Lee Davidson of the Kansas Attorney’s General office and Weikal’s attorney Christopher Williams of Kansas City. Weikal could spend anywhere from 147 months to 653 months in prison for the second degree murder charge.Sumner County District Judge Scott McQuin has set Weikal’s sentencing date for Jan. 9, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.Officially, Weikal has pled no contest to three counts:•The alternative felony charge of second degree murder — “the unintentional but reckless under circumstances, and manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life.” That charge as mentioned above could result in Weikal being in prison for as little as 12.25 years or as long as 54.42 years.•The alternative felony charge of abuse of a child could result in 31 to 34 months of prison time.•The felony charge of endangering a child could result from 5 to 7 months of prison time.At the sentencing, McQuin will decide whether to make these charges consecutive – time served for each charge separately; or concurrently meaning that the three charges will be served at the same time.Weikal also must pay all court costs and medical expenses to the victim’s family. McQuin also raised the bond for Weikal from $250,000 to $500,000 at the hearing.Weikal was scheduled to go to a jury trial on Dec. 3, before a plea bargain agreement was reached. Davidson said afterwards this is not unusual. The original charge of first degree murder was reduced to second degree as part of the plea agreement.Friday’s court hearing was an emotional one for both families, who were in attendance. Weikal, who was wearing a gray jumpsuit with a black bead neckless, was stoic at the beginning of the hearing. But as McQuin asked him several questions about the understanding of the court pleas he was about to make, he became visibly more upset.Afterwards, Williams — his lawyer — would not say why his client pleaded no contest to the three charges instead of taking it to a jury trial – citing attorney-client privileges.Weikal’s family was unavailable for comment after the proceeding.Debbie Murphy the grandmother of Larrissa, expressed sorrow afterwards.“I’m not happy about sending a young man to prison,” Murphy said. “I’m OK with the prison time he will receive.”She said it was time for the family to heal.The court hearing did bring out some new details that had not been presented earlier in the preliminary hearings or in court documents.Davidson described the actions of Weikal during the night in question to the court to be inconsistent.According to earlier court documents submitted by Davidson, Weikal was the live-in boyfriend of Kayla Murphy, mother of Larrissa Foster. On Nov. 29, 2011, Murphy and Weikal spent most of the day together at his uncle Brian Brown’s house. In the late afternoon, Weikal drove Foster and Murphy to the Oak Tree Inn where Murphy was scheduled to work the evening shift. Weikal and Foster allegedly returned to Brown’s home. Murphy then talked to Foster on the phone at about 8 p.m.“It was the last time she would speak to her daughter,” the document said.Allegedly, at 10 p.m. the defendant drove Foster back to the Oak Tree Inn and had a co-worker find Murphy because Foster was having trouble breathing, according to the court document.On Friday in court, Davidson added that Weikal was angry with Larrissa around 9 p.m. and that was when the alleged abuse occurred. He said his cousin, Nick Weikal, had arrived at the house at 10 p.m. to see that Foster was not breathing correctly and moving in and out of consciousness. Yet, Davidson said, Weikal was sitting on a couch smoking a cigarette.“There is no guarantee that Larrissa would have survived,” Davidson said. “Yet there was no sense of urgency from Weikal. Perhaps, things could have been different had he sought immediate medical attention.”According to earlier testimony, Weikal and Murphy took the toddler to Sumner Regional Medical Center where the staff found the child to be unresponsive and in cardiopulmonary arrest at 10:51 p.m. The medical staff intubated the child and readied her for transport to Wesley.According to the document, Weikal and Murphy returned to the Oak Tree Inn to borrow money for gasoline for the trip to Wichita. After fueling up their vehicle, the two drove to Wichita and eventually located Wesley.At Wesley, medical workers questioned the two about Foster’s injuries and eventually called law enforcement. Before the Wichita Police officers could question him, Weikal allegedly left the hospital without telling Murphy. He returned to Wellington.Meanwhile, Sumner County E911 broadcasted a “be on the lookout” alert for Weikal, who reportedly was driving Murphy’s red Toyota Corolla.According to the document, Sumner County Sheriff Deputy Lee Patterson was parked in the SRMC parking lot visiting with Wellington police officer Kurt Vogel. He spotted the Corolla traveling southbound on A Street at a high rate of speed. By the time Patterson was at the corner of 15th and B Street, the car was traveling south on B Street just crossing 10th Street, still at a high rate of speed.Patterson tried to catch up to the vehicle as it turned east onto Lincoln Street then south on Ash Street then east on First Street then south onto Cherry Street where Weikal ran the stop sign and turned east on Mill Street before coming to a stop at 901 S. Cherry Street, the Brown residence.Weikal then, allegedly, fled the Corolla and hid near a parked vehicle. Patterson found him hiding a short time later and placed him under arrest. Patterson had E911 search for Weikal’s driving record and learned that his license was suspended.Patterson read Weikal his Miranda Rights and briefly questioned him at the scene, according to the document. In the process, Patterson recounted Weikal’s driving violations. Patterson then transported Weikal to the Wellington Police Department for further questioning.Later that morning, Wellington Police Department Detective John Defore and Sumner County Sheriff’s Detective Frances Stevenson interviewed Weikal. They asked him about his departure and he explained he was traveling to Wellington to pick up his mother for emotional support and getting some clothes before returning to Wesley.Davidson told the court Friday that his interviews with law enforcement about the circumstances of the evening had changed throughout the questioning, and in the end was inconsistent with the injuries Foster incurred.Davidson told Judge McQuin because of Weikal’s actions throughout the evening that a guilty plea is justified. Close Forgot password? Please put in your email: Send me my password! Close message Login This blog post All blog posts Subscribe to this blog post’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Subscribe to this blog’s comments through… RSS Feed Subscribe via email Subscribe Follow the discussion Comments (15) Logging you in… Close Login to IntenseDebate Or create an account Username or Email: Password: Forgot login? Cancel Login Close Username or Email: Password: Lost your password? Cancel Login Dashboard | Edit profile | Logout Logged in as Admin Options Disable comments for this page Save Settings Sort by: Date Rating Last Activity Loading comments… Commenting Disabled Further commenting on this page has been disabled by the blog admin. You are about to flag this comment as being inappropriate. Please explain why you are flagging this comment in the text box below and submit your report. The blog admin will be notified. Thank you for your input. +19 Vote up Vote down mom2mykids · 350 weeks ago He will never serve enough time, to make up for the loss of such a precious lil girl…who was put through such horrible pain. I believe an eye for an eye…sorry for his family but never did a innocent child deserve this kind of treatment. If it was my grandbaby…he would of never made it to jail…just saying… Report Reply 1 reply · active 350 weeks ago -20 Vote up Vote down Effyou · 350 weeks ago Actually you didnt evem TRY to speak to the Weikal family. I was there. You were trying to take pictures of spencer with your phone and got told no pics were allowed to be taken in the courtroom. Also he did not say weikal had no urgency to get here there. He said it was unlikely that she would have made it had he sought immediate medical attention but that her chances would have been higher. Report Reply 1 reply · active 350 weeks ago +11 Vote up Vote down good by spencer · 350 weeks ago throw away the key when the door slams shut Report Reply 0 replies · active 350 weeks ago -7 Vote up Vote down Nosleeptilbrooklyn · 350 weeks ago I do feel bad for the guy though. It is just an unfortunate event that occured. The mom should get some sort of punishment in my opinion as well. Who is to say she wasn’t abusing her child or that she made a bad decision to leave her daughter with him. She is just as at fault in my opinion as he is. Report Reply 0 replies · active 350 weeks ago +7 Vote up Vote down AngerManagement · 350 weeks ago There has been very good coverage here, that I have appreciated. I wouldn’t blame Tracy if he did skip asking you for an interview. All you’ve done since this began is spew hatred and profess Spencer’s innocence. Not sure what the point of the pricey attorney was, maybe he finally talked sense into you all. Spencer told the police he was angry, he told the police he banged the girls head on the wall “pretty hard” then dropped her the rest of the way down the stairs. I don’t know that there’s much left for you folks to say. Report Reply 0 replies · active 350 weeks ago +9 Vote up Vote down big papi · 350 weeks ago Effyou…your using deflection to try and take away the fact that a human life was lost. Why because of tbe gross negligent actions of one person. You can try and blame a reporter for doing his job. But this story is not about the reporter or weikals family. This story is about guilt and a life lost.. no amount of time can change that. So effyou please set your anger aside. He took a plea. That means his attorney knew he could not win. Report Reply 0 replies · active 350 weeks ago -6 Vote up Vote down friend · 350 weeks ago I know both families sorry for what they are going thur but where is kayla where does she come in on all this the little girl was staying with aunt uncle why did they let her go back.they knew what was going on with abuse everybody wants to point a finger at spencer why not point else where.i don’t think spencer would hurt anybody.Lets get everyone that knew abuse was going on iy start way berfore that right I wont mention names at this time but they all know who iam talking about bring piuters out you have while she was with her mother Report Reply 0 replies · active 350 weeks ago +7 Vote up Vote down Clyde J · 350 weeks ago I hope that both families can gain some closure with the plea. I will have to give Spencer a little credit because now both families don’t have to go through the pain of a trial. Remember our prayers are with everybody. Report Reply 0 replies · active 350 weeks ago +12 Vote up Vote down CueballSumnernewscow 94p · 350 weeks ago OK, I’m going to clamp down on this pretty quick. No more back and forth between the families. If you want to yell at me or write about the trial itself, I’ll allow that. Effyou I tried to get hold of you afterwards. I did get hold of your lawyer but you were gone. If you want to talk, I’ll let you have your say. You can call me at 620-326-0717 if you promise not to be mean. Report Reply 0 replies · active 350 weeks ago +6 Vote up Vote down concerned aunt · 350 weeks ago I think everyone should remember that a little girls life was lost in this situation and that Weikal caused this tragedy. He should pay for this loss of life. I can’t imagine what this little girl went thru and I don’t want to know. Yes he should be put behind bars and it is no ones fault but his OWN!!! No I don’t and won’t feel sorry for him. Glad he is behind bars and he needs to STAY there!!!! Report Reply 0 replies · active 350 weeks ago 12Next » Post a new comment Enter text right here! Comment as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new comments Comments by IntenseDebate Enter text right here! Reply as a Guest, or login: Login to IntenseDebate Login to Login to Twitter Go back Tweet this comment Connected as (Logout) Email (optional) Not displayed publicly. Name Email Website (optional) Displayed next to your comments. Not displayed publicly. If you have a website, link to it here. Posting anonymously. Tweet this comment Cancel Submit Comment Subscribe to None Replies All new commentslast_img read more