His word is his bond – Negan shows who is boss

Like many of the other comments on The Walking Dead’s seventh season opening episode, I too found it the most shocking. For me this episode showcased one of the best things that the writers do – take what you think you know and turn it around.

The drawing out of the big reveal set out by last season’s finale was left just the right length for me. Not only did it keep me on the edge of my seat, anxious, it also succeeded in putting me into as close to Rick’s frame of mind as it could. I don’t think I’ve ever been as anxious and upset and angry during one episode ever before. Of any TV show. The base of my spine was aching by the end from being that anxious while watching.

I’ve seen people writing about how the show was “too much” or that it had “jumped the shark”. What a load of bull. Negan is an evil bastard and will do anything to ensure his followers do exactly what he commands. He takes no shit and leads by example. The world of the Walking Dead has always been a brutal one and I think some people have become too comfortable in Rick leading the way and being the big boss man. I’m so glad a character like Negan has come into it to truly push our heroes to their emotional and physical limits.

Day out at Sea Life Centre Birmingham

Tip: Check your cereal boxes for “Buy One Get One Free” offers.

My good lady and I had a great day out at the Sea Life Centre Birmingham yesterday. It had been at least a couple of years since we’d last been and so it made a nice change. Plus we had a “buy one get one free” voucher from a cereal box, which is always nice.

Stood behind the family in front I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Dad. He was forking out ┬ú71.80 for himself, his wife and his two or three kids. I almost tapped him on the shoulder to advise him to go next door and buy two boxes of Frosties. Thereby getting two adult entries for the cost of two cereal boxes. But I figured the Sea Life Centre could do some good with the extra.

I was impressed with the array of sea creatures throughout the building, with the underwater tunnel at the end being of particular stand out. All of the talks we saw, including the Oceanic Adventures; Asian Short-clawed otters; and the behind the scenes tour were all great and very informative.

This was also the first time I’d seen Gentoo penguins up close. They were very cool and very inquisitive with the human faces pushed up against the glass.

The route throughout the Sea Life Centre was just right – not too long and not too short. I think we got there at about 1pm and left and about 4:45pm after the last talk. So you could easily do this in a morning or an afternoon. It pretty much moves around the building in one direction with many rooms containing multiple displays. Of course you can always go back through to look at any creatures again – we did, multiple times.

The only draw back was the lack of a cafe in the building, but that isn’t really a deal-breaker for me.

If you’re in Birmingham and have a morning or afternoon free, do consider the Sea Life Centre.

Some Facts I Remember Learning

The difference between Sharks and Rays is that Sharks have gills on the side of their head; Rays’ are on the bottom of their body.

The Mantis Shrimp’s hit is so strong, that if humans had the equivalent power, we could hit a ball into space.

Some breeds of fish can change sex, for instance when one of a breeding pair is removed.

Integrity by JME

Two years ago, If you’d have told me that one of my favourite ever albums would end up being a rap album, i’d have probably laughed. However that is just what Integrity by JME has become.

I should mention early on that I don’t really have any knowledge of rap music in general; only what I’ve picked up over my past 12 months or so of listening to it. But it really has grown on me, and JME’s latest album was a real gateway drug.

Some of the cleverest lyrics I’ve ever heard

The first thing that stood out to me about JME was his interesting ways of writing and forming rhymes. He has a real talent for writing with clever, and sometimes even humorous, lines. The album’s second track, “96 Fuckries” has one of my favourite verses in:

I roll with Aaron and Aaron
Frequently I get stopped by the gammon
Because my whip looks like it should be owned by Jeremy Clarkson or Richard Hammond
Feds pull me like I’m a drug baron
Chatting bare shit, can’t understand ’em
In the stereo I got Krept & Konan
In the boot I got my creps and my Canon
I don’t own a BlackBerry
Ask for my pin and get slapped heavy
Call me a rude kid or a maniac but beats?
I ain’t sharing ’em like Teddy

from 96 Fuckries by JME

Just to point out one of the cleverest parts of that song above, specifically in the last two lines: “Call me a rude kid or a maniac but beats? I ain’t sharing ’em like Teddy”. A mate at work explained to me: Teddy Sheringham is a football player (I aint “Sheringham” liked Teddy). Get it? Such clever word play and the album Integrity is littered with clever word play like that.

For example, in one of the album’s later songs “Don’t @ Me”, featured guest – and JME’s brother – Skepta raps the following:

Hi hater
Why you wanna diss man online then say “hi” later
I already said don’t waste my time
Now I’ve gotta tell ’em don’t waste my data
I don’t wanna write a diss track for an MC
Nah, I don’t wanna waste my paper

from Don’t @ Me

In fact every line on this album is expertly written and performed by both JME and the guests featured throughout.

Wide range of talented guest artists

“Integrity” also has featured a host of other great rappers from the same grime scene. Jammer; D Double E; Big Narstie; Skepta and Giggs to name a few.

Arguably the album’s biggest song was the one that Giggs features on – “Man Don’t Care“. I say featured, but I think the split is pretty much 50/50 between the two of them. I actually heard JME speak in an interview recently about how “Man Don’t Care” came to be finished. I find it interesting hearing about how great songs and albums came to be.

Skepta, as mentioned before, is actually featured on two of the album’s songs, “Don’t @ me”, as mentioned above, and “Amen”. And he kills it on both.

Big Narstie is always great to listen to, whether giving advice as Uncle Pain or killing it on Fire in the booth. On “Integrity” he features on the track “Break You Down” and he doesn’t disappoint. He gives it the gusto that any fan of Narstie’s would expect from him.

I can lip-sync Integrity

The closing song, which is also the title track, “Integrity” is my favourite song on the album. This song is as great an introduction as any to JME’s music – you’ll be introduced to his skill as a writer, rapper, producer and his ability to weave his sense of humour through his lyrics. The guy absolutely nails it on every song I hear him on and I’ve heard the song “Integrity” so many times now that I can almost lip-sync it perfectly.

Everlasting Road by LOCK

About a month ago I shared an awesome song by LOCK called “Click”. I have been listening to this song quite a lot and had become a big LOCK fan based on it. So when I heard about their new E.P. “Everlasting Road“, I was well up for it.

The title song opens with a seductive, twangy, reverbed electric guitar. The vocals are just as seductive and leads into the explosive wall of sound that is the chorus. I can’t tell you how much this song rocks. The second song on this two-track E.P. is just as great, but with a slower tempo and calmer delivery.

Because I’d listened to “Click” over and over again, I kind of expected a similar sound with their E.P. When I heard it, I was taken back, and it has only got me more excited about their debut album. Each of their initial releases have had such an interesting diversity, and have been so expertly done, that for me it only points to a great debut album to come.

You can buy Everlasting Road on iTunes now.