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Rising Artist Spotlight: SZA

In: Music, Nic
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The American singer-songwriter known as SZA has been making waves on the indie charts for a while with her unique combination of soulful and chill beats. Now currently writing her fourth EP, SZA has released a new video from her latest EP entitled Z and is showing a different side.

You could expect an artist who cites her influences as everything from Wu-Tang to Billie Holiday to have a wide variety to draw from, and none is more true than SZA showing a bit of her down-lo Pop side on her newest track “Julia“. I’ve enjoyed every beautifully shot music video SZA has released but something more ethereal and lighthearted is involved in the Julia video and it works for her.

Hitting the scene in 2012 with her self-released EP See.SZA.Run, the album got favourable reviews comparing her minimalist R&B sound to artists like The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. Following that up with her next EP S,  in 2013, SZA continued her streak of great reviews. Her latest EP Z though, released earlier this year, has found the most commercial success, breaking into both the UK and Billboard markets.

At the tail end of the “Julia” video when the sun goes down, we get a snippet of a new song called “Tender,” something more true to what we’ve heard from her previously, which makes me anxious for her next album, released in hard copy (a first for the artist) as well as digital download.

SZA definitely has the artistry and chops for a long career. Marking her as a Rising Artist is an understatement. I think SZA is already a star.

watch video after the jump

Ian Thorpe Comes Out As Gay

In: Nic, Totally GAY!
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Aussie swimmer Ian Thorpe has finally revealed he is gay, and seems to be coming out during an interview with Sir Michael Parkinson set to air on Australian TV this Sunday.

The 31 year old retired from swimming in 2012 after winning 3 Gold and 2 Olympic Silvers, 11 World titles, and 11 Commonwealth Games medals. Even living in Australia for years I know first hand that the subject of Thorpe’s sexuality was always a hot topic of discussion despite his denial. The hot hetero topic a few years back was his “relationship” with Olympic swimmer Amanda Beard, which Beard all but denied. That’s right, I said it: Thorpe’s “Beard” denied his breast stroke.

watch video after the jump

camp-out

The Haus of Jaja is throwing another fantastic charity event in TO here this month and you should be there!

Valentines Day showed the premiere of Jaja’s charity chops, and the event was a raging success raising thousands for the LGBT Youth line. This time Camp OUT is once again being held at the Pilot Tavern and this time is supporting LGBT youth in going to camp this Summer.

PFLAG Durham Region’s Youth Leadership camp is in jeopardy due to last minute funding cuts. But with your support, we can give these kids the chance they deserve to regroup, recharge, and thrive!

The event is an early one from 5pm to 9pm and promises a good time, with great music, a fun dance floor, special guests, and draws and raffles. This time I will not be covered in balloons in my underwear, but I will be there to show these guys, doing great things for our community and surrounding communities, my support. Come down on June 19th for a smore, some bug juice punch, and a lot of fun. It’ll be a gooder.

For more info, head over to the Facebook event.

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Play Review: Queer Bathroom Stories

In: Nic, The Arts, Totally GAY!
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Buddies In Bad Times Theatre with Libido Productions premiered a new piece on Tuesday night as an introduction to the Pride season. Queer Bathroom Stories, written by Sheila Cavanagh, is a compilation of over 100 interviews and an adaptation of Cavanagh’s book Queering Bathrooms: Gender, Sexuality and the Hygienic Imagination. The play tells several stories over the course of a little over an hour of the secret life of Bathrooms in the LGBTQ community.

Sexual escapades aside, and hitting on the most important subject matter of the play, the production shows how the trans community responds to the stick figures on bathroom doors, and the reactions to something possibly taken for granted by others. This was truly the bread and butter of Queer Bathroom Stories. Sure, the “cruising” aspects of the play were impossible to avoid when discussing what the play is about, but came across as misplaced compared to the flow and importance of the gender issues.

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Lily Allen Wants To Be “Sheezus”

In: Music, Nic
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Lily Allen has been killing it with every new track she’s come out with.  Right from “Hard Out Here“, to the super catchy “Air Balloon” that’s incessantly stuck in my head, I’ve been welcoming the return of Queen Lil with open arms.

Allen’s new track is a name dropping treasure paying homage to all the top female pop stars of our time letting us know that “second best” isn’t where it’s at as a female singer, and that she won’t settle for anything less than “Sheezus”.

RiRi isn’t scared of Katy Perry’s roaring
Queen B’s going back to the drawing
Lorde smells blood, yeah, she’s about to slay you
Kid ain’t one to fuck with when she’s only on her debut
We’re all watching Gaga, L-O-L-O, ah-ha
Dying for the art so, really, she’s a martyr

This happy little boppy track is accompanied by a semi possessed video drawn over to show the good and the evil side of Lily as she ascends to Sheezus-dom. The brit star has not had an album since 2009, and this new track will be on Allen’s new and upcoming album of same name next month.

Who else is p double umped?

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Unreleased Gaga Track “Brooklyn Nights” Leaks

In: Music, Nic
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A track originally slated for Artpop that didn’t make the cut has hit the internet.

Last September Gaga had tweeted about “Brooklyn Nights,” saying it was “melancholy and personal”, and then nothing more was heard of it until now. Paying tribute to Gaga’s roots, the nostalgic ode to NYC  seems to be about young love, but then again you never really know with Mother Monster.

As one would probably expect, there’s a few other tracks that didn’t make the cut for the album either, and maybe we’ll be seeing more of this kind of thing surfacing.

Brooklyn Nights” sounds fine, but a little out of place for the rest of the Artpop album IMHO and I can understand why it didn’t place. It’s cute and sweet and fine.

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toronto-night-life

Although we all (mostly all) hold a place dear in our hearts for the Village here in TO, sometimes a little variety is just what the homosexual doctor ordered. Even though I can walk into any Church bar on most nights and down a few drink specials, I’m finding more and more that all these fantastically diverse monthly parties around the city are what I look forward to.

If you find yourself wandering West or East from the nightly “grind”, here’s a couple tips on where I like to frequent for a great night out.

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HUVr Board: Is It For Real?

In: Gadgets & Tech, Nic
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Apparently the future has arrived, and a la Back to the Future, the Huvr Board is finally not just science fiction, but ready to be marketed by the end of 2014.

The internet has blown up today trying to decipher whether or not the video and website and company are even real. With celebrities like Tony Hawk and Moby demonstrating “the best day” of their lives, flying through the air on what seems to be a hover board, many including myself are left scratching their heads wondering whether this is an elaborate hoax, or a legitimate hover board.

The website says:

What began as a summer project in 2010 at the MIT Physics Graduate Program has evolved into one of the most exciting independent products to be developed out of MIT since the high-powered lithium-ion batteries developed by Yet-Ming Chiang in 2001. Our team consists of materials science, electricity & magnetism experts who’ve solved an important part of one of science’s mysteries: the key to antigravity.

Marketing itself as an efficient mode of transportation and with a four and a half minute demonstration video, only time will tell us whether you too can be Marty McFly by December, or just the butt end of a big joke.

watch the video after the jump

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