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Weekly Roundup Episode 71; The Larry Hoover Benefit Concert

Welcome to another edition of Weekly Roundup!

On December 9th 2021, Kanye West held a live concert event at LA Memorial Coliseum. This wasn’t just any regular everyday concert, this live concert event was in all support for freeing Larry Hoover as this was a benefit concert on his behalf. If you’re not familiar with Larry Hoover as a person or why he’s in prison in the first place, I suggest doing your own research or watch Kanye’s second video for Drink Champs podcast, as he and Larry Hoover’s son talk about the matter on the podcast.

This live event for Kanye felt like a huge deal for him, as it was more than just doing a show, as there was a meaningful purpose behind it. So meaningful: He squashed the beef he had with recording artist Drake, as their long run of beefing with each other ended as Kanye requested Drake to put on a show along with him in this matter. Drake agreed to do the show, as now Kanye and Drake we’re all set to not only put on a show in front of 70,000+ people, but to also spread awareness for Larry Hoover. The people whom attended this show we’re not the only ones who got to see the show, Amazon Prime and Twitch were streaming the live event as millions of homes were able to watch it at home, there were also IMAX theatrical screenings showing this event as well. I would’ve gone to a theater to see this show at my local IMAX theater, however considering I live on the East Coast and I had work the next day… I would have to consider seeing it in the comfort of my home instead.

The Free Larry Hoover benefit concert event had a very simply set design, featuring countless amount of stairs and one giant ring in the center, as when the performers were on stage smoke surrounded the ring as they were performing. The concert event also featured Free Larry Hoover merchandise, as the clothing material was mainly Light Blue with words saying Free Hoover or Free The Man Dem… If you’re unfamiliar with Drake, you won’t understand what the hell that shirt even means, I’m not sure why that was a shirt option to be honest, I can see a handful of phone calls made to the police if one wears that shirt.

So I should’ve learned my lesson from the past Kanye listening events: When there is a scheduled time posted in one of these shin gigs, it never goes on time ever as yet again… We’re hit with another delay. What was already a late showing of this event at 11:00 P.M. EST, it didn’t start till at least 12:40 A.M. Est… So I was already determined I wasn’t going to get enough sleep for work the following day, but thankfully it was Friday and those work days are short.

After a lovely twenty to thirty minute session by Kanye’s Sunday Service choir, performing the gospel or even Adele’s “Easy on Me”, it started off the show on a solid note. The choir sounded very lovely indeed, Kanye and the composer have done a really grand job bringing this choir together as they’ve delivered consistently over the years. Kanye and Drake finally took the stage, as the fans in attendance and all over social media we’re all fired up to see this duo once again in which a lot of us never thought this would ever be possible.

Kanye takes the stage first, as he starts off with “Praise God” featuring Baby Keem and Travis Scott. What originally thought Kanye was going to perform all songs from his latest Grammy Nominated Album Donda, as it was originally advertised this event was a celebration of Donda and Drake’s Certified Lover Boy… Kanye instead took it another direction, as he told the DJ to cut off “Praise God” a little early. Kanye then tells the crowd “Let’s Take it Back”, as he then performs his first career hit song back in the early 2000's ``Jesus Walks”. From “Jesus Walks”, Kanye setlist from then on would only feature the Classics from his own career, hits after hits from all his albums. Kanye per usual was in as the kids would say “In His Bag”, his discography when it comes to songs feels like Kanye West can perform for HOURS, that’s how legendary Kanye West is to the genre of Rap and even music in general.

Kanye West at the end of his set performs his hit from My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy album “Runaway”. Normally Kanye West would bring out a Piano Beat Making instrument for this song when performing this song, it’s an iconic song featuring an iconic machine as it’s one of the coolest experiences ever, but this time around Kanye ditches it completely and even ditches autotune as well.

As Kanye wraps up “Runaway”, he then sings out a different kind of Outro, begging a woman to run right back to him, singing in his own words “More Specifically Kimberly” which refers to Kanye’s now ex-wife Kim Kardashian. Now I don’t care about celebrity relationships at all, I think people who do care, worry, and judge celebrities' relationships have severe issues, we’ll talk all about this on another day. To me, Kanye's gesture in this matter was… Ight? The dude misses his wife he loves ever so deeply… That’s pretty normal, not sure why this is a headline or people actually clowning him for this, dude is just a regular person doing a regular thing… I don’t get why this is news or why people care, just let the man be and mind your own business, I’m pretty sure y’all got relationships to work on yourselves.

Now Drake takes the stage, as it’ll be quite a challenge for Drake to follow up from a performance filled with classic hits. Drake is well known for many timeless classic hits that date all the way back to 2009 with his mixtape So Far Gone, so surely Drake has enough hits to go around. Drake starts off strong with a cover of “24” which is from Kanye’s album Donda. Drake’s vocals on this song were sung quite beautifully, my only issue would be to lose the autotune, however it was done beautifully I must say.

After “24” as everyone is anticipating Drake to now go through his catalog… Drake instead goes on a whole different direction, as he performs recent songs of his, more preferably from his latest album Certified Lover Boy. I believe those who attended the event were having a good time during Drake’s set, people at home however… Not so much. People were heavily disappointed that Drake did not follow up with old school classics of his own, as people we’re incredibly ticked off that Drake would perform songs on an album which is not really Drake’s best work of his career.

Drake’s performance was pretty standard to me, I didn't hate it, however didn’t love it. Of course the setlist was a major issue to me, I found it very boring and to be honest it left me regretting staying up late at night to be honest. The way Drake performs is much better suited in person, when you watch at home it doesn’t feel the same, especially when Drake’s performing style is often too repetitive as he doesn’t switch up how he performs… I’ve seen him six times and every time his performing style is exactly the same, only with new songs. Of course not being there is a huge factor, but also since I didn’t care for Certified Lover Boy… Maybe that’s why I’m so underwhelmed with this performance, I know what I’m expecting from him and since I have no desire in seeing any of these songs performed live, it just leaves me not interested at all.

Kanye gets back on stage to perform a couple hits, followed by a couple songs off Donda including “Hurricane” and my favorite song off the record “Come to Life”. Then Drake returns on stage with Kanye, as they both performed “Forever” together as that’s the end of the show!

So as a live event as a whole I found it to be fine for the most part. Kanye delivered a pretty good entertaining live performance, however I wouldn’t say it’s great and there is a reason for that. Kanye stumbled on a few songs, where he would forget lyrics from time to time, especially on his cover on Drake’s “Find Your Love” which Kanye did wrote that song. It’s kind of excusable for Kanye’s stumbling moments, you see Kanye hasn’t performed in this magnitude since maybe Camp Flog Gnaw with Kids See Ghosts?! Kanye since then has been performing very casually with the Sunday Service choir at church services and casually at Coachella, he’s been away from that high energy performing style we often see from him for a couple years now, so it’s no surprise he’s fighting off some cobwebs here and there. Plus Kanye has never performed “Find Your Love”, I’m not sure how often he hears that song he wrote about a decade ago, so I can understand why that wasn’t his strong moment. Despite Kanye stumbling: He at least made it up delivering a really good performance, he’s still got it.

Drake on the other hand as mentioned earlier… Not so much. The fact Kanye performed more Drake classic hits than Drake himself was extremely disappointing, I don’t think this was the night to preview what a Drake Certified Lover Boy tour is going to look like in 2022… With this performance Drake may have left potential concert goers fleeing away from seeing his show, it wasn’t a terrible performance but it’s a performance in which is not going to lure people into buying tickets in the future.

The whole Free Larry Hoover Benefit concert itself… I’m quite confused by this whole spectacle. When it comes to a concert event that is supposedly supposed to spread awareness to a subject matter or support a cause… Not only should the show entertain, but the show should also educate or inform on the matter itself. Larry Hoover was discussed briefly by a random woman before the show started, as Amazon cut her off completely. Meanwhile the headliners who organized this event, mainly Kanye West who put it all together… The name Larry Hoover was brought up only Once by just Drake which felt like a shout out when mentioning his name. This event did not fulfill it’s moral purpose of informing or educating anyone on this subject matter, so I found that extremely embarrassing if we’re being honest.

When it comes to this subject matter: There’s a whole lot of different opinions, believe it or not. Some people are informed and want Larry Hoover free, some people are informed and feel Larry Hoover should still be in prison, some people are shouting out Free Larry Hoover because Kanye and social media says it’s cool without knowing anything at all, and some people are unfamiliar with this subject matter as they don’t have an opinion on it. What this live event was supposed to do was pretty much appoint every single side on this matter, as they thoroughly explain why this subject matter is important, why people should care, and why people should consider or reconsider their stance into becoming a supporter of this matter.

Not only Kanye and Drake didn’t do any of that, but you tend to question how a couple hour live concert show is going to help, inform, or educate upon this subject matter?! I’m not sure how you can organize a benefit live concert event like this and not have an actual plan into fulfilling the whole entire purpose of this show, Kanye or whomever organized this event should actually be ashamed of themselves. I know Kanye has done a fair amount for Hoover in the past, but I’m just questioning why nothing was done in this grand spectacle where millions of people can be informed or educated on this subject matter?! What was even the point in this event?! Why wasn’t “Jesus Lord” performed where that would’ve been a perfect opportunity for Kanye to inform people about this matter or bring out Larry Hoover’s son to inform people on this matter?!

There’s nobody going to question it because everyone got what they wanted: A Kanye and Drake concert, I truly believe everyone who attended or viewed this event at home could care less about who it was for, you can scrap Larry Hoover’s name and nobody would notice.

There’s a lot of conspiracies in which what was the real purpose of this event, including Kanye setting Drake up to embarrass him with a grand Versuz battle on a grand spectacle that Drake wasn’t prepared for. Knowing Kanye as a person… I wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case, Kanye is full of surprises despite at times he has good intentions, however he’s a bit inconsistent in that area. I guess I view it as a cash grab for buying tickets, buying expensive merch, and of course cashing on theater ticket sales and streams… I just don’t get why Larry Hoover’s name was on any of this, it should’ve just been called “Da Family Reunion”. Overall experience: I give it a 4/10, Drake’s performance and the problematic of the entire thing really left me disappointed, as I was better off going to sleep instead. I guess it’s time to talk about movies now!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Grade: C

I was honestly pretty excited for this reboot of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, solely because it was animated as I felt it was better suited animated than live action.

I believe the animation is honestly the best part of this entire film, as it looks pretty great and most certainly colorful. I enjoy the attention to detail within the character design especially, it truly feels like I’m participating in what could be drawn by actual young adult whom is getting the hang of drawing and hasn’t quite master his work yet. I will say there are some moments where I was having a fun time, I mostly enjoyed the whole Halloween sequence… That was kind of fun.

I was kind of surprised this film had a running time that was less than an hour, as I soon realized why that is… It feels incomplete and most certainly rushed. This film is equivalent to Cliff Notes: You get a basic summary on what it’s all about, but they don’t make any time to develop anything. Other than Greg (Brady Noon) and Rowley (Ethan William Childress) not a single other character is properly developed in this entire film, which is oddly disappointed even though I’m not a fan of the live action films, at least those films actually developed their supporting characters. Like considering Greg’s older brother Rodrick (Hunter Dillon) whom is so valuable to this book series, gets only one freaking scene this entire movie… I mean come on man.

Sure I have this film graded better than the original film, however I find the original film more memorable than this film. At least there are moments in the original I still vividly remember in my head whether good or bad, with this film… It’s pretty much forgotten once it cuts to black, it’s so disposable and honestly it doesn’t respect the property at all. Sure the animation looks good, however not enough time was ever developed in the story to where they genuinely care about what they were making, which I was honestly very disappointed with. This will briefly entertain children but for adults or fans of the book… Eh not so much.

Overall, Diary of a Wimpy Kid was ok. I honestly would pass on this, I liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid Dog Days so watch that.

Single All the Way Grade: D

Single All the Way was brought to my attention by the trending film category on Netflix, plus Jennifer Coolidge was in it and I liked her in the past as far as comedies go.

Single All the Way is a Hallmark Holiday style film, however it’s one in which you had no idea what you were walking into. I will say if you’re a fan of Hallmark Holiday films: This one is for you, it’s truly Hallmarky to the Max. I will say this film does have a few funny moments, at one point I said this wasn’t half bad since the humor did hit a few times.

After I said this wasn’t half bad… It then turned bad, as this was one ridiculous holiday film that doesn’t really feel like a film. Let’s start by the acting: Other than Michael Urie, Philemon Chambers, and Luke Macfarlane every single performance felt like someone is pointing a gun at their head while they were delivering their lines. Whether it be the dialogue they were displaying or their mannerisms, like none of it felt natural at all as it felt these actors were all held at gun point as they were forced by their will to deliver these lines… It felt extremely awkward as almost every moment was just bizarre, I haven’t experience something like this other than truly terrible films before.

We can discuss how the story is filled with so many cliches and a story run by a typical formula, however how the story is presented… There is so much screaming to the audience what should be happening, than actually telling the story. Like every single character screams at the top of their lungs, how Peter (Michael Urie) and Nick (Philemon Chambers) are perfect for each other and need to be together because they’re awesome together from start to finish, however as the audience we never feel that at all, we’re told about a thousand times until it finally happens because the film told us a thousand times it has to happen… It’s so freaking lazy and way too predictable, like God forbid why I am watching this if I already know by ten minutes what’s going to happen at the end?!

Overall, Single All the Way is a bad film. I don’t recommend this film, this only preferable to those whom like Hallmark Holiday films only.

Hood River Grade: C+

Hood River is a documentary film centered around a high school soccer team in Oregon by the name of Hood River. Here we go through the season and also get a closer look behind the players and what they go through on the field and off the field.

This documentary felt pretty standard to me, kept my interest with the sport and also one particular athlete t’was interesting to explore as far as his personal life situation. I felt how the team rally behind that kid whom was on interest for my viewing was pretty cool and heartwarming, it’s amazing how once we give effort to someone whom is a bit antisocial, you can surely impact their life for the better.

I say visually it left me unimpressed, felt more like a student film project if anything. There are also sequences in which can feel a bit too fast forward, as an important playoff game ends as we felt we fast forward the time line a bit further than expected. I felt underwhelmed with the finale, didn’t think we get enough exciting coverage of the Championship game so that was a bummer. At least this film was somewhat watchable and had my interest.

Overall, Hood River was an average film. I recommend checking it out if you like sports, if you don’t like sports I say skip it.

Love Hard Grade: B

Love Hard is another holiday romantic comedy film coming from Netflix. Single All the Way may have left me a bit hesitate to try another holiday film from Netflix, however… Love Hard was a bit of a surprise, as I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

The comedy aspect of this film kind of stunned me, I wasn’t expecting to be laughing multiple times as the comedy material was hitting in this film. Got a ton of laugh out moments, even when it’s poking at sensitive territory perhaps whining about “Baby It’s Cold Outside”… The film creates a very charming funny moment following the main character’s discomfort of that song, as I really enjoyed the whole remix of the song to where it wasn’t tasteless at all.

The narrative can come across to people as being silly since it involves a Catfish situation, however I thought the story was fairly written. The romantic aspect works well along with the comedy aspect, as surprisingly enough it does deliver a very important message how we’re looking at the wrong places for love. One of the reasons why love often times fails in our favor is because we care way too much about outside appearance rather than on the inside. Sure what Josh (Jimmy O. Yang) did was wrong, however he proved his point as no one would dare to match on his profile if he didn’t use a handsome guys pic instead. It also teaches us a valuable lesson that we should be more comfortable with ourselves as we shouldn’t feel embarrassed of who we are, build up on your confidence as you shall receive great rewards.

Some flaws with this film come with typical cliche issues, I also was quite confused how Natalie’s (Nina Dobrev) personal business got out to her boss, like how did he know where she was in the first place?! I was surprised with this one, it brought the feels and laughs needed for this holiday season.

Overall, Love Hard is a solid film. I recommend checking this one out, can be found on Netflix.

Mixtape Grade: B

Back in the day I was destined to drop a Mixtape called MitchTape… The streets would’ve gone berserk if that tape ever dropped, I guess we’ll never know.

Mixtape is a sweet simply told story of a young girl named Beverly (Gemma Brooke Allen) whom is searching up songs that was left behind of her parents whom passed away when she was just two years old. The experience was cute for the most part, watching this young girl going around about at the record store, getting help from her friend Ellen (Audrey Hsieh) thanks to the computer, or getting help from a bully in school… It was enjoyable to see one have so much excitement on what the songs her parents put in this mixtape sounded like.

There were quite a few genuine and sweet moments in this film, I really enjoyed the odd relationship Beverly had with the record store owner Anti (Nick Thune) and of course the finale with her grandmother Gail (Julie Bowen). Sure we may not understand what Beverly means by as she felt her parents were leaving her a message behind with the mixtape ordeal, however it’s really sweet one wants to know about the music taste her parents enjoyed especially searching really deep for songs that were out of print as well. I believe Beverly gotten the message she rightfully deserves from her parents, as it deliver a very tear jerking moment.

I do have my flaws with Mixtape. I found it pretty odd that Ellen’s mom was pretty strict of her daughter hanging out with other people, yet she seems so shallot as Ellen can be seen out for a long period of time while also being out late at one moment as well, without the mother never really taking notice. I’m not sure why Gail kept things away from Beverly that includes her mother, like if the child is demanding she wants to know more of her mother, why keep it away from her?! I get the whole protecting your grand daughter ordeal to not be like her mother, however I don’t see the problem with her knowing more about her mother whom she barely knew of, seems kind of cruel. The whole Mascot sub plot… That seem a bit random as it lead to nowhere, would’ve just kept it out.

Overall, Mixtape was a cute film. I recommend checking this one out, I can see this bringing up tears for a mother/daughter night. -Mitch Smietana

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