Vic Mensa - 'Heathens' (Freestyle)

Suicide Squad was one of the biggest films of 2016, but the soundtrack proved to be even more massive. Several songs (as well as the soundtrack itself) has been nominated for GRAMMYs, including the twenty one pilots hit 'Heathens.' The song is now the backbeat of Vic Mensa's new freestyle.

Vic Mensa is known for being direct. This freestyle is all about the struggles of living in the ghetto, but with a badass, threatening vibe to it. It may seem pretty clichéd at this point, but Vic Mensa kills it in his freestyle. The song is introduced by Tyler Joseph's iconic hook (the chorus of 'Heathens'), Mensa kicking into his verse full force. His lyrics all have a sense of fear to them, in one form or the other. The first lines reference his dark upbringing, Mensa claiming "Grew up around heathens, the streets made us Tarzans... Number two can puncture you, better wear a vest / We packing like a Lunchable, we live in constant threat... They killed my brother dead, wonder why I'd be faded."

Vic Mensa's 'Heathens' freestyle isn't just about the struggles of his beginnings, but also how his success now makes it all worth it. He had to earn that, too. His lyrics are never over-glorifying, though some are pretty grandiose in their descriptions: "I be with heathens but I've earned my stripes / Keep a SIG, I'm too pretty for fist fights / Until these niggas kill me I just wanna live life / Cop a palace in the city, buy a little ice / But y'all know me, I don't rock diamonds / Only the Roc diamonds, that's how I'm shining." The song seamlessly transitions between the two subjects, connecting them. He even changes the flow up at the end to accentuate his swagger, making the freestyle even more threatening.

Vic Mensa killed it on this freestyle. 'Heathens' provides a haunting backdrop to his dark freestyle. His past made him who he is today, and he owns it. That's the impression that leaves you after you're through with this track.

Rating: 85 / 100

Dungen - Häxan

The world of psychedelic rock is an odd one. It does have its moments, though. Swedish psych band Dungen makes some of those magical moments come to life in their new album, Häxan.

Häxan isn't the traditional psychedelic record. It's an homage and a soundtrack of sorts; it's following a recent trend of artists going back and making their own soundtracks for past films. Häxan is an original score for The Adventures Of Prince Achmed, the world's oldest surviving animated piece. Thus, this record is full of different moods and different levels of excitement.

Being a score, this album has plenty of filler tracks. Certain movements are slow and dreamy, such as 'Aladdins Flykt Över Havet' and 'Achmed Och Peri Banu.' Some songs also prove to be groovier and jazzier, setting a more sensual tone: see 'Trollkarlen Och Fågeldräkten' and 'Achmed Flyger,' the latter of which sounds like it could be from a video game soundtrack with its adventurous vibe. 

This album is peaceful and not overly flashy, as is meant for a score. What's great about it is that you don't need the film playing next to it to understand the record, or the movements of the film. The emotions are set very clearly, the tone doing all the talking. You can tell when climax and events occur, tracks like 'Wak-Wak's Portar' and its distorted guitar and flutes ringing with urgency and without regard for time. The same is true for the closing track, 'Andarnas King,' a jam conclusion with a Lightning Bolt flair.

Häxan is an interesting record. It's a score, but it stands on its own as an interesting record full of events. It does what a score should do best - tell the story independently from the film through sonic interpretation. If anything, it makes you want to see the film in order to understand the tale of the record. Dungen's brilliance shines bright on this record. 

Favorite Track: Trollkarlen Och Fågeldräkten

Least Favorite Tracks: Grottan, Den Fattige Aladdin, Aladdin Och Lampan

Rating: 70 / 100

Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - 'A Minute To Breathe'

Climate change is a long discussed issue, and there are still those with power who don't believe it or see its impact. Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens are joining forces to help shed light on the issue in their new documentary Before The Flood, challenging the question of just how much the climate has been affected by human interference and how authorities around the world are tackling the problem.

A powerful documentary can't be as effective without a supporting soundtrack to go with it, though. This film won't have to worry much about that, though; they've got the likes of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross tackling it, with Mogwai and Gustavo Santaolalla in the mix, too. Basically, they have the pinnacles of vivd music working together to create the documentary's soundtrack.

The team has released a song from the soundtrack, entitled 'A Minute To Breathe'. It's a very barebones track. The majority of it it Reznor singing in his signature hopeful yet defeated timbre, the song slowly but surely resonating with the deep, cavernous piano chords somberly backing his vocals. A few spiraling synths make an appearance later in the song to add some dimension to the track, setting the scene in an icy Antarctic field - fitting for the film's and the song's message.

The song's message is what really builds the song. The lyrics are, appropriately, a summation of the climate change crisis around the world. The first verse ends with the lines "We try / Deny / To believe to believe / We can't believe / In anything" to express the lack of acceptance of the issue, the first half of the verse claiming we will only see our faults when it is too late: "We wait / We pray for the rain / For the rain / For a rain / To wash away." The song's chorus hauntingly pleas "I don't want to say goodbye / Stars falling from the sky / We will all be judged / By what we leave behind," hoping that the curse of our own legacies will serve as justification to finally provide a reason to help combat climate change. The song ends in a beautiful building of sound, the world ending in a hurricane of noise (or, if climate change continues, a literal hurricane) as Reznor cries "I just need a minute to breath."

We are destroying our own world, and many refuse to believe so. The new documentary Before The Flood hopes to squash any lasting doubts of climate change, and aims to show how some of the world's leaders are attempting to put an end to it. The film is out worldwide in theaters on October 21. The soundtrack sends much the same message, and four of the greatest artists in film scores and music have come together to create it. We can determine what the fate of the world is - but what will that legacy be?

Rating: 87 / 100

Ariana Grande - 'They Don't Know'

Ariana Grande has been in absolute control of the pop world over the last year. Her album Dangerous Woman - see our review here - smashed all expectations and was a confident, fun, and all-around enjoyable pop experience. Her new song 'They Don't Know' is on the Trolls OST, and it's a really sweet track.

A lot of Dangerous Woman had a more serious vibe to it, or at least not deliberately silly. 'They Don't Know' is the perfect amount of sweetness and fun for a children's movie and a successful pop hit. The song is brought in my beatboxing provided by Justin Timberlake, who's track 'Can't Stop The Feeling!' from the soundtrack made big splashes upon its release. The instrumental is pretty understated, the bassline being the most prominent element of it. Snaps and a programmed beat make up the beat, while a few dinky synths come in for the pre-chorus, funky guitars brightening and fattening up the chorus. The production feels really tight here, too - it's perfectly mixed to be a pop sensation.

The song exudes love. Grande is singing about everything great about being in love. Her sweet, flowing melodies dance through a sunny sky and across rainbows while she sings "They don't know, they don't know, they don't know about us... They don't know about what we do, and it's true..." in such happy way. This song, as MTV put it, is what "putting rainbows, fireworks, and candy into a blender and pouring it into your headphones" sounds like. She becomes a little more serious and powerful in the bridge, which exudes a hip-hop flair, but it immediately kicks back in to the cheerful ode to love. 

Ariana Grande knows how to make a good pop song. All of her singles are popular for a reason - not because she has a giant fanbase following her (well, that's part of it), but because she can make poppy, fun, and catchy tracks like it's no one's business. This song really shows that. If it was still summer, 'They Don't Know' would be blasting on everyone's car stereos. I guess we'll have to start taking autumn beach visits just so we can jam out to this track on the ride there.

Rating: 87 / 100