State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Author - Eric Dowling

Kid Ink Interview



Los Angeles rapper, Kid Ink dropped by Penn State a few weeks ago, and State In the Real got to take a few moments and pick the brain of raps hottest stars at the moment. I got to sit down with Kid Ink and talk about his musical influences, being named XXL’s freshman class of 2012, being put in the same category as Iggy Azalea and Macklemore. Check out the interview below, and also pick up your copy of Kid Ink’s new album Full Speed, in store and online today, February 2.



Album Review: Bob Dylan Shadows in the Night


Bob Dylan, what more can I say about the man, the myth, the legend. Nearing 75 years in age, Dylan has become ubiquitous with music and the rise of rock music in America. That being said, what I am about to say about this “New” album might be considered sacrilegious, or even blasphemous. But Bob Dylan really needs to stop making music. He has more than enough music to rest on and not worry about making people happy. For example, I have about 280 songs from the man, and not once in the last five years have I said to myself “Man, I am really jonesing for a new Bob Dylan record.” That being said, this new album kind of came out in a whirlwind. Two weeks ago, Dylan’s interview, his first in almost two years, with AARP magazine; yes, thats right the magazine  for retired folks, came out and in it he talked about his new album. This album is just served on a silver platter for the geriatric community, it is a collection of covers ranging from Frank Sinatra to Dizzy Gillespie, the album is boring and self serving at best.



Now to get on with the bulk of this album, the actual covers. First off I am currently listening to Bob Dylan “Croon” “Stay With Me” a song sung by Frank Sinatra, I cannot help but laugh literally out loud at his mush mouth. You can barely understand anything that he says when he is talking, and it only gets slightly better when he is singing. Kids drugs are a bad thing.The album is too slow, but maybe this is why he is catering to the AARP demographic, She & Him’s Classics album was slow, but I didn’t feel like I was watching a PBS documentary about the Vietnam War while I was watching it. This album is painful to sit through. Every song feels the same, Dylan sound emotionless. There is very little in terms of positive in this album, what I can say is that it is impressive that he is still so actively making music, and that he is full aware of who his target audience is, that I do commend him for that.



Shadows In the Night was a bear to sit through, I love Bob Dylan, but would be happier hearing more unreleased things from before the times when his body took the tolls of age and drugs. I do not care to hear the now marbled-mouth singer cover songs from before I was even a thought of a thought. Its boring and not worth your time, unless you love intelligible songs from Bob Dylan.

Album Review: George Ezra Wanted On Voyage


George Ezra, a name that might not be the most recognizable name in music right now. But he should definitely be a name that you do not forget. Voted one of Rolling Stone magazine’s artists to watch, Ezra is definitely a throwback to soul and folk music of the 60s and 70s. Citing his influences as Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, and on the first song you hear the folksy influences in his songs. With his breakout album Wanted On Voyage, Ezra shows everyone his vocal prowess and his incredibly rich song writing skills. Each song on the album is such a breathe of fresh air. It is a modern throwback. The album is something that I have been looking forward to hearing for quite some time. Ezra has been hyped up by many different publications as one of the biggest artists on the rise. And you can hear it in this album. Also I must say that already this album are is competing for best of the year. It is just so well crafted. It is like a “Where’s Waldo” page or even like a super hipster “Sargent Peppers Lonely Heart Clubs Band.” The attention to detail, and the use of color makes the album art just amazing.


On the very first second of the album, you are caught off guard. I knew, very kind of, the type of music George Ezra fit into. But I never would have paired his vocals to how he looks. Nothing is coming off the top of my head, but his voice is just so deep and folksy for a kid that looks more like an employee of Urban Outfitters. But I found that more of a pleasant surprise than anything else. The first notes and the first seconds of Ezra’s vocals, I was hooked. It is a song to bob your head and tap your foot to it. The song is just infectious. It is modern folk. It is everything that should be made into a good non mainstream folk song. It doesn’t seem over-produced like some of the songs on an album like, Hozier’s, this album strips down to the bare bones and leaves Ezra’s vocals to be the main focus. The mellowness of the album is why I found myself instantly in love with it. From “Blame It On Me” to “Cassy O’” the album vibes together in a seamless way. Adding another level of craft to his work, Ezra wrote every song on the album, and this is impressive, because the songs are raw and emotional in both happy and sad ways that show the range in Ezra as a song writer.


I don’t really know what else to say about this album but that you need to be listening to it now. The hooks on the songs will leave you singing it at all hours of the day, and the production leaves us wanting more from the incredibly talented Ezra. It is a very well crafted album, and keep George Ezra’s name on your list, cause you will see it many times before the year is done.

Kevin Hart is Coming to the BJC



Set your calendars now, Kevin Hart is coming to the BJC on Sunday March 29, at 7:30.


Tickets are $47.50 and go on-sale this Friday at 10am at the Bryce Jordan Center, Eisenhower Auditorium, Penn State Downtown Theatre, Altoona Campus Ticket Outlet, online at, or by calling 800-745-3000.  VIP tickets are also available.

UNIVERSITY PARK STUDENTS – A special UPAC presale will begin this Wednesday, January 28 at Noon at the HUB Lounge, Bryce Jordan Center, Eisenhower Auditorium, Penn State Downtown Theatre, and online at  A limited amount of tickets will be priced at $19.50 courtesy of UPAC. Regular student pricing will be $34.50



If there’s one thing KEVIN HART can do, it’s sell shoes.  If there’s one thing Kevin Hart can do better than sell shoes, it’s explode into one of the foremost comedians and entertainers in the industry today.


Hart has continued to work non-stop and 2015 is no exception.  Kevin will be seen in three comedies – Screen Gem’s The Wedding Ringer was just released January 16, Get Hard, opposite Will Farrell will be released March 27, and Ride Along 2, the sequel to last year’s one-hundred-million-dollar blockbuster hit of the same name will be released later this year.  The consummate worker, Hart is a force in television too, Executive Producing the show, Real Husbands of Hollywood which premiered its third season last September.  He also recently hosted Saturday Night Live on NBC.  With his passion for stand-up and entertainment Kevin also continues to tour his live stand-up to sold-out audiences around the country.


Kevin Hart began his career sizing men and women for footwear, when a chance, electrifying performance at amateur night in a Philadelphia comedy club changed his life.  Kevin quit his shoe salesman job and began performing full time at such venues as The Boston Comedy Club, Caroline’s, Stand-Up NY, The Laugh Factory, and The Comedy Store in Los Angeles.  However, it was his first appearance at the “Montreal Just for Laughs Comedy Festival” that led Kevin into roles in feature films such as Paper Soldiers, Scary Movie 3, and Along Came Polly opposite Ben Stiller and Jennifer Aniston.


In 2012, Hart was tapped to host the 2012 MTV VMA’s, garnering much industry praise for his appearance, before his next comedy tour, “Let Me Explain” took him to 90 American cities along with Europe and Africa.  Records have not withstood under his LME tour either, as Kevin became only the second American in history to sell out London’s O2 Arena. Kevin spent the fall of 2012 filming two movies back to back: Screen Gem’s re-make of Sexual Perversity titled About Last Night, and Universal’s buddy cop movie Ride Along, opposite Ice Cube.  Kevin continued his incredible run with a starring role in Screen Gem’s Think Like A Man, a comedy based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book, which grossed $95 Million worldwide, and had a supporting role in the Universal, Nick Stoller comedy, Five Year Engagement, produced by Judd Apatow.


In September, 2011 Hart released “Laugh At My Pain,” the feature film version of his comedy tour (under the same name).   The movie grossed over $7 million, and was 2011’s most successful film of those released in less than 300 theaters.  The LAMP tour was so successful, it catapulted Hart to 2011’s number one comedian on Ticketmaster, and in February, 2011, he sold out the Nokia Theater for two nights in a row, breaking the record previously set by Eddie Murphy. This lead to the LAMP DVD hitting double platinum in February 2012, after being on sale for only a month.


In 2009, Hart’s one-hour Comedy Central special I’m A Grown Little Man became one of the highest rated specials for the network, and in 2010, Hart’s DVD Seriously…Funny was one of the fastest selling DVDs, going triple Platinum, aided by and the Comedy Central special of the same name, which was the highest rated comedy special of 2010.



Album Review: Mikky Ekko Time



It has been quite awhile since I have heard an honest to goodness new artist make an alternative rock album. I really cannot tell you the last time I picked up a copy of an album from someone new in the alternative music genre. With the album Time Mikky Ekko breaks out onto the scene and really seems to make a name for himself. Much in the vein of Hozier, Ekko is really good at making likable music, for everyone to enjoy. Growing up in Louisiana, Mikky Ekko (real name John Sudduth) took on many influences from the South; from gospel to bluegrass, to rock, you hear all of these influences in the album. But where things take a turn for Ekko, is when he started to move into the world of Hip-Hop, working with the man behind A$AP Rocky’s early beats, Clams Casino, Ekko started to make his way into mainstream music. With Time Ekko, is really showing the world why we need to be listening to him. He worked with some of the best pop and alternative producers for this record as well as collaborating with some of the biggest names in alternative music.


Ekko and Clams Casio


As far as the album goes, it has a very large scope to it. Combing so many different sounds in every song, Ekko shows his range in every song. He is kind of like Sam Smith in that way, in his ability to stretch his vocal range. But the album has such a wide variety of sound to it, that there is at least one song that should appeal to anyone. Like I have already said, the album is very grand in feel. It has a large epic feel to it, whereas most other albums have a personal feel, as if the artist was talking directly to you, this album is like a giant blockbuster and just has this epic scope to it. The epic scope is almost 100% credited to Clams Casino, a man whose beats made A$AP Rocky the mega star that he is, and besides anyone that can have A$AP Ferg saying “All I ever wanted was a Clams Casino beat to talk about oppression that’s repressing my peeps.” For one of the best rappers around right now to be pining for a beat from Clams Casino, you know that he is a great producer. Where this album shines is on the song “U” once again it is a song where you can hear Ekko’s influences, from the gospel to Hip-Hop, you can hear every little influence in the song. It is just a really good song, and it will make you want to come back for more. Think about “U” as the appetizer to the salad to the main course. It is a good song, but you know that it is setting up something more. Finally, it is worth noting the major single on the record; “Pull Me Down.” This song is fantastic, you can hear right away Clams Casino’s fingerprints on the track. It is catchy, and just an amazing song. It combines all of the things that I enjoy in a song; a simple but artistic beat, meaningful lyrics and vocals that show emotion. Ekko puts it all on this track, and this is absolutely the highlight of the record. The whole thing is a fantastic ride, and one that needs to be taken more than once to fully appreciate its potential.



Mikky Ekko’s breakout album Time will leave you wanting more. It is truly an innovative album, it combines so many different elements from music in such a genuine way that doesn’t feel gimmicky or forced. The real advantage that Ekko has on the record is the production of Clams Casino, the hip-hop producer makes the album feel larger than life and epic in a spacey, distant way. It is worth checking out if you are looking for some new music. Also he should be on your radar, because he is going to be huge in a few months if not sooner.

Album Review: Meghan Trainor- Title



“Its all about that bass, that bass, no treble.” Meghan Trainor’s hit single “All About That Bass” seemed to be unescapable, even becoming so big as to have Jimmy Fallon cover it with elementary school items. With her first album, Trainor explodes onto the pop market scene with one of the best and most upbeat albums I have heard in a long time. Taking note of what the current atmosphere is of the music industry combining both rap and pop into a music style that is one of my personal favorites, reminiscent of Karmin and Kay Perry. Her singing and the way that she delivers the songs is great, it is just so fun. Trainor really brings up some great points about body image and dating. The whole albums brings a good energy, and a nice message that is something really positive for young girls.



With Title Meghan Trainor starts off the album in a strong way with her mega single being the first song on the album. Each song after that Trainor talks about how she is not a size 0 and how she may not be the most perfect girl, with each song she talks about calling a guy at 3 in the morning and what she wants in a guy. Trainor brings a sense of lightheartedness to these issues. The album is a lot of fun and just a good album to put on while you are going around doing things. There are a few songs that really show that Trainor is a force to be reckoned with in the pop music scene. The first of those being “3am” on a surface level, this is a fun song about finding that guy to call late at night for a nice “hug” but when you really start looking deeper into this song, you realize that Trainor really kind of hates this style of life. The song is almost entirely tongue in cheek, with her talking about after a long night partying she just wants to call her special guy friend and crash for the night. To continue this theme of hating the relationship world that we are living in is “Walkashame” Trainor sings about the culture of the “Walk of Shame” we have all seen it, driving or walking around almost any city early in the morning you will see girls or guys walking back home in the clothes that they wore the night before, and we all know what they were doing. The thing Trainor does in her song is ask the question, “What is wrong with this?” we have all been there, and doing a “Walk of Shame” does not make you a bad person or even a “slut” it is kind of an anthem for the new generation. We are not afraid to hide our sexuality, you see it on TV so much, but we all judge those making the walk. The album really takes what has come to be taboo subjects for this generation and faces them head on. She is unabashed in how she looks, the choices she makes, and even what she is looking for in a partner.



Trainor is proving that she is someone to not be ignored. Her freshman album is fun, but serious at the same time. Almost every song takes a taboo issue, or something that we all deal with in life, and brings them into a modern context and screams that having flaws is fine. The most impressive part of this entire album is that Trainor wrote every song herself, further showing how talented this young girl is. So put the album on and dance till your feet are sore, and remember “Its all ’bout that bass, ’bout that bass, no treble.”