The Grammy’s 2019: Cardi B had no business winning best rap album

Sophia Guerrier – Anchor Staff

This past weekend Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy” won Best Rap Album at the 61st Grammy Awards Show. Yes, you heard me — Cardi B won. The same one who sang “I don’t dance now, I make money moves.” Before I express my utter disappointment for this very sad news in Hip Hop, I am aware that the Grammys has a long history of getting the rap category wrong, but it never fails to amaze me every time that they do.

Drake stole the night with his unforgettable speech after winning Best Rap Song for “God’s Plan,” (which should not have won either), and he stated the bitter truth. He said, “We’re playing in an opinion based sport … it’s up to people that may not understand …” and stated that artists do not need a Grammy to validate their music.

I am not saying that Drake was referring to Cardi B in his speech, but he was referring to the fact that Rap still remains a category that has been repeatedly disrespected by the Recording Academy.

This year the highest honor of music told the music industry and rap fans around the world that “Invasion of Privacy” was better than nominees “Daytona,” “Swimming,” “Victory Lap” and “Astroworld.” This is outrageous considering that “Invasion of Privacy” contained more elements of pop than it did rap or hip-hop.

Rap is a genre of competition. Since the birth of rap, aspects like flow, lyricism, and MC impact during a live performance have always been championed. In 2019, these elements may have been lost along the way, but they are certainly not dead.

I could go on forever about how every other nominated album was better than “Invasion of Privacybut to keep it short, Cardi’s album did not contain any of those elements that were previously mentioned. There was no sophisticated lyricism. No complexity or innovation in production, and versatility in her skills as rapper was non existent. There should be an investigation on who is actually voting in the category because Cardi’s album does not reflect the true essence of rap.

Cardi B is the first female rapper to win Best Rap Album which is also a tragedy to many female rappers now and before.

“Room 21” by NoName was the highest critically acclaimed rap album of 2018, female or male, and she received no nominations. Rappers before Cardi B like Eve, Foxy Brown and Lady of Rage were all more deserving to be the first female to win the Best Rap Album accolade in their era.

It is a true shame that the Grammys continue to not acknowledge how significant the rap categories are, and need to revise the criteria for voting in them. If not, the Rap category will never reflect its original culture of high quality, unapologetic, black, substance-filled music.

Palentine’s Day at Rhode Island College

Abigail Nilsson – Anchor Staff

For Valentine’s Day, the Programming Event Board, Sojourn Collegiate Ministry, and Residential Student Association at RIC joined forces and threw an event in the Student Union Ballroom. There was not much advertisement for this event, so I decided to do some investigating to check out was labeled a “Palentine’s Day Event.”

The Ballroom had pink and red decor for Valentine’s Day, several activity stations, and a dessert table complete with hot chocolate and whipped cream. The activities were simple, creative and fun, and you got splendid take-home treats.

The first table taught you how to make your own essential oil sugar scrub. The scents included vanilla, lavender, mint, eucalyptus, and more. You could mix and match to make your own aromatherapy scrub to relieve stress from the first round of exams of the semester.

One of the most popular crafts was a build-a-stuffed animal station. You could choose from either a rainbow teddy or a zebra to assemble and dress in its own Programming Event Board t-shirt. After your stuffed animal was complete and ready to go home, you could slide down to the next station which was a create your own button. Next, there was a card making station followed by bouquet crafting. The main attraction was the psychics in the back to predict your future.

This event was super laid-back, fun, and a nice escape from the stress of exams, projects, and other life pressures. Everyone was mingling with each other, enjoying themselves and making crafts. When life seems to be spiraling out of control, it is nice to take a step back and have a fun, pressure-free activity to fall back onto.

The Programming Event Board hosts an event almost every week. The next event is Open Mic Night in the Student Union Café Thursday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m.

Netflix’s Kakegurui: the dark sides of gambling

Sh-Ron Almeida – Anchor Contributor

Enter Hyakkao Private Academy of the anime “Kakegurui,” a high school where the wealthiest of boys and girls hone their skills in reading their enemies through gambling. The academy runs on a “survival of the fittest” system, where the winners live it up like royalty and the losers are treated as low class nobodies and slaves.

The show’s main character is Yumeko Jabami, a new student who shakes things up and raises some hell like the high-stake compulsive gambler she is. Despite lacking character development in the first season, Yumeko carried an air of charisma and intrigue from the first episode alone, and I am looking forward to seeing more of what she can bring to the table once season two arrives.

Graphic courtesy of My Hot Posters

I recently got into Netflix this past November, and “Kakegurui” was the first anime I watched. While the animation is decent enough, what really stood out to me were the seriously creepy facial expressions during the gambling showdowns. I couldn’t help but shrink back in fear a few times because of these characters. In this psychological thriller, gambling is displayed in two ways: a sensationally pleasurable experience and a dark spiral of destruction, which showcases both extremes of the characters.

The first season is unsettling, aggressive, absurd, and cringe-worthy in a few places, but overall, “Kakegurui” entertains its viewers.

Kakegurui is currently streaming on Netflix, with subtitles and an English dub. The second season titled “Kakegurui XX” is currently airing in Japan.

Activision: a gaming titan that can’t escape controversy

Alison Darmetko – Anchor Contributor

In spite of its current performance on the market, the gaming company Activision Blizzard continues to stir up more and more controversy with each day. In recent years, the company has been responsible for big titles such as “Call of Duty,” “Diablo, and “Overwatch.” However, the company has been facing its fair share of criticisms despite how well its games have generally been performing.

These criticisms range from the questionable choice of remastering the popular game, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare,” yet making it only accessible through purchasing the newer installment, to the company’s decision to shut down the entire E-sports league for the Blizzard title “Heroes of the Storm.”

Activision’s newest controversy deals with how the company has been working to streamline and reduce costs and increase profits. Their solution: microtransactions and reducing the number of active employees for both companies. Microtransactions are the practice of adding additional content to games that can be purchased with real world money or in-game currency. They are nothing new to the gaming world or Activision, but the extent that they are being used has become questionable.

The issue that caught most people’s attention was Activision Blizzard’s decision this past Tuesday, to reduce their workforce of approximately 9,600 employees by eight percent. That number, which comes to roughly 800 employees, is not an insignificant figure. Among those leaving the company were some junior employees, who were recent hires by the publisher, with others being veteran members of either company for the past 15 years or longer.

This decision, which was made by the company’s chief executive officer Bobby Kotick, comes following the release of the company’s performance report of the 2018 fiscal year. The company, in its fourth-quarter earnings report, made $7.6 billion in sales, be it digital or physical, compared to the $7.16 billion made in 2017. However, according to Kotick, this did not reach the company’s expectations for the fiscal year despite being noted as the company’s most profitable year in its history.

On the subject with investors, Kotick said “while our financial results for 2018 were the best in our history, we didn’t realize our full potential.” Despite the concerns of not meeting expectations and reducing the workforce, the company reported that it has plans to improve the development teams on the company’s key games such as “Call of Duty” and “Overwatch” by 20 percent. The funding for such expansions will reportedly come from reducing non-administrative and non-development costs across the entire company while eliminating “non-core positions” to free up resources.

Given that the company reportedly gave its newest chief financial officer, Dennis Durkin, a sign-on bonus of $15 million in stock and funds in addition to his already substantial $900,000 salary, some people watching the company’s actions are skeptical that reducing the workforce will make a dent in spending compared to what they offered their new CFO.

An interview with local singer Brenda Bennett, former member of Prince’s girl group

Esther Watrous – Anchor Contributor

Rhode Island artist, Brenda Bennett, was a member of the girl trio, Vanity 6. The group was formed by the artist, Prince, in 1982. Earlier in her career, Bennett toured with the British band, Queen, as a member of the group, Ken Lyon and Tombstone. She now resides in Jamestown, RI.

Photo courtesy of Joshua Pickering

The Anchor: What was it like being Prince’s Wardrobe Mistress for his “Controversy” tour in 1981?

Brenda Bennett: For me, it was a job. At the time he was not as big and popular as he became. He was working his way up to it, and it was fun being out on the road, but, you know, I treated it like a job. It was difficult because I  had to find a place in that town every single morning where I was going to be able to get everything cleaned because [the costumes] had to be cleaned every day. So it was a challenge, but I was up for the challenge.

The Anchor: Did you ever think you’d be opening for Prince in his “1999” tour?

Brenda Bennett:  No, not at all. I had no idea that that was going to happen.

The Anchor: So what was your reaction when he asked you to join the Vanity 6 project?

Brenda Bennett: I was very pleased that he asked because I wanted to get back to an original situation. What I mean by that, is being in a group that wrote their own music. When Prince offered for me to become a part of Vanity 6 it was just what I was looking for.   

The Anchor: What was it like touring with your group? Did you all get along?

Brenda Bennett: It was a lot of fun. It was very unusual because at the time we were fighting against the establishment. We were very innovative with the type of music that we were doing, and wearing lingerie to perform in on stage. Nobody did that. It was difficult to try to break those barriers down and we managed to do that. There were a lot of girl groups that came after us, and we kind of paved the way for them to be able to be more free in their opinions and their dress and stuff.

The Anchor: I read from you bio that the song “Bite The Beat” was your first time as the lead vocalist on an international released single. What was it like having your voice showcased internationally?

Brenda Bennett: It was almost like a vindication that what we were doing and what were were oftering was being accepted. To hear myself on a single that was released worldwide, when I look back on it, I still find it hard to believe.

The Anchor: How did you feel when Vanity decided to leave the group?

Brenda Bennett: It happened so quickly and it seemed to come out of the blue from nowhere. In a way, we weren’t surprised because she kinda always held herself separate from the group. I have to say it was a little devastating because we had gotten to a point where we had worked so hard at being accepted for who we were and what we were all about. Nobody else had done what we did and had the effect that we had.  

The Anchor: After you took a break from music to raise your son, you represented Tombstone for Paul Dichiara’s memorial concert. What was it like finally performing on stage and singing folk and blues music again?

Brenda Bennett: Well most of it was like getting on a bicycle again and riding it after not riding a bicycle for such a long time. There was a difference. When I gave up, I really gave up. I didn’t even listen to music, but coming out and doing that show, it felt good to be singing.

The Anchor: Your second solo album, “Once Again” seems reminiscent of your Vanity 6 era of songwriting. Did your memories of Prince and his passing inspire you during the writing and recording process of the album?

Brenda Bennett: Some of it did. Prince was going to produce a solo album of just me. My project kept getting put behind. Down through the years, ever so often when we would talk, he would always bring it up saying, “do you still wanna do this?” And I would always say, “yes, I’m ready any time you want.” The last time that happened was in February of 2016 when I had seen him at Vanity’s funeral. The last time we talked about it, he pretty much said, I’ll be in touch. And then three days later, he died. So the album is dedicated to him.

The Anchor: You’ve sung in  multiple styles of music. What’s the genre that you gravitate to the most?

Brenda Bennett: It’s kinda a cross between folk, country, and Americana. It’s hard to say because I write what comes from my heart. I write what catches my ear and whatever comes out, comes out. I like a good song.

The Anchor: What was it like seeing your name on the 61st Annual Grammy Awards ballot?

Brenda Bennett: Unbelievable. It was an accomplishment. You’re up against a lot of competition. I did not get [a nomination] this time around, so whether it will happen to me or not in the future remains to be seen.

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Todd Borgerding

Thomas Yakey Jr -. Anchor Staff

Born and raised in Minnesota, Assistant Professor Todd Borgerding is a second year Assistant Professor of Music, concentrating his teaching in theory and musicology.  He received his bachelor’s degree in music education from Minnesota State University when it was called Mankato State University, with trombone as his primary instrument.  Then, he attended University of Minnesota for his Master’s degree in Musicology. Lastly, he went to University of Michigan for his Doctoral degree in musicology. Borgerding demonstrates his humbleness as he does not think it is necessary to go by Doctor because he considers Medical Doctors to  have the rights to that title, despite all of his hard work in studying Musicology. In addition, his main wish for the RIC music department is more full-time instructors, specifically private instructors, to allow more time and one on one interactions with students particularly for their main instrument.

His music career flourished in fourth grade when he wanted to play flute, but his mom encouraged him to play trombone instead.  Despite practicing trombone nearly daily, he still had time to practice piano first before moving onto organ. On a train going to Vienna talking to a musical conductor, he realized trombone playing was not going to be fulfilling in his life.

Dr. Borgerding has had a long career before Rhode Island College; he has taught in many different schools like SUNY Stony Brook which is a massive school. He also taught at a public institution in Wisconsin similar to RIC. Dr. Borgerding has even taught in Maine at Colby College, an exclusive private liberal-arts school, but “The whole time [he] was there, [he] thought [he] was getting paid a lot more, but [he] does not feel like this is very meaningful work for [him].”  In Wisconsin, and now at RIC, he feels he is doing something more meaningful and making more of a difference in the lives of his students. Being closer to his husband was a major added benefit. His first professional experience at RIC was playing Viola de Gamba with the concert choir under Dr. Teresa Coffman’s direction. After that, he started teaching a music history class and then was hired part time last year.

Professionally, he has played trombone in symphony orchestras like the Mankato Symphony, and been an organist in a few churches.  Despite this, his favorite instrument is the Viola De Gamba but dislikes the Saxophone despite their similar sounds.

He claims to teach humorously because “If you don’t laugh you’re going to cry” especially when dealing with music theory.  He finds that with each new class, and individual student, there are many different personalities which make teaching difficult. This is because everyone needs different attention and have different things to get them excited for music theory.  Despite this difficulty, when he last taught a class he was “happy.” In particular, he thinks music “is really powerful stuff and because it’s so powerful, we need to figure out how it works. Anything that powerful, we should know as much as we can about it.”  This explains why he enjoyed music theory and history as well as just studying music in general since it has changed to much overtime and means something different in each foreign place.

When he is not teaching he “sleeps,” and enjoys sailing.  He also loves to garden and has flowers all around his house, and asserts that his husband is better than him.  Borgerding’s favorite piece to listen to varies from time to time, but he says Opera Medea by Charpentier and any version of MacArthur Park are typically the favorites.

He says his biggest influencer in his life was his mother, who gave him his first piano lessons, and music is still one of his biggest motivators in his motivators in life only falling short to his family.  His first memory of music was turning off all the organ stops for his mother who was the organist for their church. This really shows how family is a major part of his life.

He wishes everyone attending RIC knew that the music department has many fantastic students and how great the faculty is.

When asked in three words, he says he would describe himself as tall, interested, and open-minded, but when his coworkers and students were interviewed they had responses ranging from good-natured, to highly intelligent and wise.

Little Witch Academia – an enchanting treat

Sh-Ron Almeida – Anchor Contributor

The Japanese animation studio “Trigger,” has made quite the name for itself over the past seven years. Ever since their smash hit, the relentlessly action packed “Kill La Kill,” the studio has been a force to be reckoned with. With their upcoming original movie “Promare” scheduled to be released in theaters later this year, the future of “Trigger” is looking up.

Graphic courtesy of Play-Asia

That being said, my favorite series from them so far is “Little Witch Academia” which is a show about teenage girls attending a magical school to become witches. The main character, Atsuko Kagari, is determined to follow in the footsteps of her idol, a witch named Shiny Chariot. Out of all the bland, mediocre protagonists in recent years, I am pleased to say that Akko remarkably stands out as an endearing and charming girl with brains and heart. Other notable mentions who also piqued my interest were the mischievous, gothic Sucy and the tomboyish slacker Amanda.  

The show has everything from humor, to comedy, to drama, and even hints of romance and action. The series also delivers a positive message about pursuing your dreams, even when the odds are stacked against you. Akko has to learn to master magic spells through hard work, and the payoff is satisfying to see on screen.

I also appreciate that the show does not oversexualize the female cast. The creators of this show don’t have to rely on “beach episodes” or other eye candy shots just to grab a viewer’s attention. Instead, the visuals are very striking and beautifully animated as a whole. The characters are fun, diverse and vibrant in personality. It brought me back to the simpler times in anime, when “Dragon Ball Z” and “Sailor Moon” were all the rage in the 1990s.

For those of you who are hungry for a fantasy anime or have grown tired with a boring protagonist surrounded by a bunch of girls pining for him, “Little Witch Academia” is a show worth your time.

“Little Witch Academia” is currently streaming on Netflix, with subtitles and an English dub.   

Artist Spotlight: Abigail Walsh

Samantha Malley – Art Director

Earning her bachelor’s in Fine Arts, Abigail Walsh will be graduating this May. However, it was just a few years ago that Abby found her passion for art.

Four years ago, Abby started as a business major but knew something wasn’t right. Encouraged by her mom to do something that she enjoyed, Abby changed majors. “I knew I liked being creative and working with my hands and as I continued in the program, I found myself loving and enjoying art more and more,” said Abby. Eventually, she found herself concentrating in the sculpture program knowing that she liked creating something that a viewer could hold, touch, and even interact with.

Her past work deals with pieces of metal interacting with craft materials such as yarn and patterned scrapbook paper. Drawing inspiration from flowers and geometric profiles, Abby brought up the craft versus fine art argument. After that, she began to use more craft materials to bring in some humor.

Photos provided by Abigial Walsh

Pictured is the world of Abylonia: brightly colored, fun filled, environment for these unique creatures Abby designed. Each creature has their own name and attributes connecting them to one another like a real ecosystem. For example, the ‘Furvles’ are small mammals that survive in a group containing at least 15 members. Abby explained, “the males can be identified by their thick manes and large tails whereas the females have larger ears to help scavenge for food.” Another example is of a ‘Skoonta’ which is a “small carnivorous hunter that has a long body topped with spikes along its spine.” The Skoonta then slithers around stalking its prey which is no other than a Furvle!

This semester, she plans on creating a more interactive installation allowing the viewer to step into this crazy craft world: “I have a whole new set of creatures in mind and plan on bringing them to life in a new bright environment.”

Choir’s spring semester

Thomas Yakey Jr. – Anchor Staff

The Rhode Island College Concert Chorus is up to a lot this time of year. This spring, in addition to their two regular concerts, two guest groups are coming, and the chorus is starting to gear up for their bi-annual international concert tour.

Both of the RIC choral concerts, the Spring Choral Concert on Friday, March 8, and the Bon Voyage Choral Concert on Friday, April 26 are at 7:30 p.m. in Sapinsley Hall.  They are sure to be unbelievable concerts featuring the work of many great Western composers. The March concert is programmed with many A cappella pieces to help the students learn, as well as challenge them.

The choral director, Dr. Teresa Coffman, said she is excited for these pieces because they all sound different every time they’re performed.  She thinks that the choir this semester may finally be a well-balanced choir which will create a wonderful sound. Having a truly mixed choir and allowing no person to stand next to someone of the same voice, creates a more uniform sound and helps the students be more in tune.  The singers will sing more freely and have less tension in their voices.

Dr. Coffman insisted that everyone know, “It’s a privilege for me to work with our students, but it’s also a privilege for the students to make music together as a family.  Rhode Island College is a special place.”

A few weeks ago, Room Full of Teeth, a revolutionary group of eight singers who have toured the country, made a stop at Rhode Island College.  They held a small clinic with the choir offering different tips to add musicality to pieces and then performed a concert that night. From yodeling, to classing singing, to throat singing, the group could do it all.  They have since even been featured in the New Yorker.

Coming up in March, a group called Young @ Heart will also be visiting RIC.  This group consists of both men and women over seventy-five years old who come together to sing.  They have toured internationally, have their own documentary, and have even performed on Ellen. Their music videos can be found on YouTube. On March 19 at 7:30 p.m., they will perform at RIC and accompany the RIC chorus for a couple of songs.  Please note that each RIC student can get two free tickets with their student ID for this event, so there is no reason to miss out!Along with these events, the choir is starting to gear up for their international tour in May of 2020.  This is the choir’s tenth stop on the international concert tour as they head to France for the first time.  They have been to places ranging from Ireland to Spain, and Austria to Slovenia. Members who attend always learn so much about other cultures, and do their best to represent RIC and the U.S. abroad.  The choir’s last performance will take place in Paris, at the Notre Dame.

StyleWeek Northeast: a recap of season 16

Abigail Nilsson – Anchor Contributor

Fashion on the runway has taken an interesting turn from glamorous gowns to bold and unconventional couture. StyleWeek Northeast returned to the Providence Convention Center for season 16, with a look into new styles that are making their mark on the runway. Each designer expressed meaning, culture, and talent within their fashion to leave the crowd in awe.

Mikayla Frick’s collection portrayed a sense of being on Tatooine with the Tusken Raiders consisting of nude tones and chunky fabrics that protect you with a sense of style from a variety of elements.

Delayne Dixon’s styles took a totally different turn and rocked down the runway to AC/DC wearing gowns with dark tones and metallics. This line was bold, and shouted both elegance and party in each article of clothing. Dark makeup and fierce expressions complimented the the gowns’ party statement. Rock on Dixon!

Lalla bee, on the other hand, had a very distinct style of bright floral patterns on many of the dresses, with colors that jumped out and made a beautiful, bold glimmering statement. The dresses were elegantly crafted with a “Great Gatsby” flare.

Tallulah & Poppy had a conventional style using timeless dresses with colors and textures that brought attention to the silhouette of the model. The bold makeup on the models exaggerated the different materials used in the composition of the dresses demonstrating that they will not go out of style.

Amy Page Deblasio had street style clothing that spoke to comfort. Her fashion ranged from kimonos and camo, to torn jeans and leggings. The models added a flare of break-dancing down the runway to demonstrate the diversity of the styles.

Though “StyleWeek Northeast” came to a close for the season, that does not mean that the fashion did. For more information on the designers of StyleWeek Northeast you can visit www.styleweeknortheast.com.