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By Osama King Rahman

There is a misconception which still addles the mind of a quite a few fans of the rap genre. It seems a certain group of people are still mired in the conspiracies of yesteryears, hence deluding themselves to believe that a certain West Coast versus East Coast battle is still raging on, even though it clearly is not and hasn't been since 1997. This misconception has led to under-rating some of the hip-hop world's actual talents, specifically those who are not busy representing a war which ended more than a decade ago.

The East Side versus West Side debate really kicked off in the late 1995's. The legendary Tupac Shakur's personal 'beef' with the shamelessly gifted Notorious B.I.G spilled over onto the streets of Brooklyn, Compton, Harlem and New York to name but a few. 2pac's infamous attack on Biggie, titled 'Hit 'Em Up' can easily be pointed out as the one song that really heated things up. 2pac noisily claimed to having his album stolen by B.I.G and then being set up for the armed robbery which resulted in 2pac being shot 5 times but still living to tell the tale.

The story finally culminated in the death of both the rappers, with many claiming that it was Biggie's gun which was used for shooting 'Pac while Biggie's death was put down in the history books as simple retaliation. The hip-hop world hence lost two of its brightest talents for a beef that neither of them considered as being more than personal. 2pac was even quoted as vehemently denying that this was something to do with the East against the West as opposed to it being just 2pac against Biggie and a few other people who chose to 'run their mouths.' In a span of over five months, the landscape of hip-hop forever changed and the most infamous lyrical war finally came to end, concluding the so-called east vs. west debate with it.

However, it seems many chose to forget that the war ended. Careers of talentless artists took off as they attached themselves to this non-existent war and these careers were prolonged to the point of exceeding over-saturation. In the mix the really talented artists were overlooked and the likes of 50 Cent rose through the ashes, despite the lack of any semblance of lyrical talent. 50 Cent's boast of living through five shots was firmly put down by one of hip-hop's best names, Jadakiss, when the latter asked, 'Since when has it become cool to get shot and not shoot back?' putting down Curtis Jackson's albums as a 'bunch of love songs, 100% pure garbage.' This was indeed not far from the truth. As shown by numerous artists, gangster rap completely lost its gloss, owing quite a bit to Sean 'Puffy' Combs, the head honcho of Bad Boy Records, when he also started pretending to be gangster, forgetting his choir-boy history. These wannabe gangsters are killing the game as we know it.

As people still debated about who won the coast to coast war, numerous footages revealed an attempt at re-conciliation by the people who really mattered. But then there are tons others hell-bent on reviving the war, if only to serve their purpose. Realistically speaking, half of the gangster rappers today aren't really gangsters at all, with their most heinous offence usually amounting to jaywalking. And then not even getting pounced. It is hence time, to really accept that the war ended like sensible people and drop the whole disco-ish braggadocio form of saturated hip-hop and listen to real gems. Artists, such as Lupe Fiasco, Self Scientific, Talib Kewli, Immortal Technique, B.o.B, J. Cole, Bun B and Jay Electronica should be given a chance in the Bangladeshi mainstream scene instead of R&B artists who claim to be hip-hop. And for those with a fetish for all that's gangster, stick to the one's who know the business like DMX, The Game and Kurupt to name a few. The war ended and anyone who believes otherwise to inflate his/her bank account should thus be shown the door before they lead hip-hop to its death.

By Ero Senin


Yours truly sometimes happens to wonder how it would be like inside the head of Jason Bourne or Al Tair or any of the ruthless assassins. How do they see the world and its inhabitants with their cold, dead, lonely eyes? Maybe the world itself looks like the bull's eye waiting for a bullet or the dagger. They must be terribly insecure people. “And they lived happily ever after”- sweet as it may sound; this fairy tale ending will never be a reality for them. Because crime doesn't go unpunished.

Our unlucky main character Reiji stumbles upon one of the many assassinations in the mafia-trodden underworld of America: the wave primarily egged on by the mysterious group called Inferno. Reiji witnesses the masterful silent murder (ironic, isn't it?) committed by the best assassin of the group: Phantom. He unwittingly exposes his identity and though witnesses are usually killed but Reiji is kidnapped. He is taken to Inferno, his memories are erased and he is brain washed and then trained as a master assassin himself.

The story starts with our new assassin, now named Zwei training under Ein. The two go on many missions for this organisation, and kill a lot of people. There's a particularly well done scene here that pretty much depicts, in anime form, the loss of one's soul. But this only lasts for a few episodes before Zwei gains his memory back, at which point the first of many dramatic twists occurs.

Instead of returning home, or trying to get revenge on the organisation, like every other normal character, Zwei stays, and works his way up the organisation. He becomes one of the best assassins on the planet and gets a theme song that is best described as “Crowning Music of Awesomeness” as said in TvTropes.

And that was just the start of the series. Betrayals, conspiracies, hidden agendas, violence and complex emotions add fuel to the fire and it evolves into a dark, seedy and deadly serious suspense-thriller ride to the core of mafia activity. Trust us; we haven't given away anything in the previous paragraph.

The good, the bad and the ugly:

I liked the art in this anime. The characters are designed the classic way. Bee Train, the studio, did a good job with the animation, making the atmosphere communicate some way or another with the assassins. But the best thing about Phantom is the music. It never feels out of place.

There are two time skips in the anime: one after episode 11 and the next after episode 19. These are very well timed and exert some extra torque on the twisty nature of the series. But the behaviour of the characters feels anachronistic and confuses the viewers about the age of them.

As for the ugly part, we have to mention Code Geass. We hated it for one reason: the way Lelouch waved his hands and cape and displayed those awful moods. There are similar things in Phantom.

Inevitably viewers would compare it with Darker than Black or even Baccano! at first glance, and that is logical. But as the story progresses Phantom sets itself apart from the more epic and supernatural DtB and the non-linear and sometimes confusing Baccano!. This series is truly one of the better suspense-thrillers out there, and great for any fan of the gun-fighting genre. It won't be disappointing.

(Thanks to AniMatsuri, Prede)


By Decay

Dragon Age II, the much awaited sequel of Dragon Age-Origins was released by BioWare on 7th March.

In the dark underground of Kirkwall a dwarf by the name of Varric is being interrogated by Cassandra Pentaghast, a seeker of Thedas' hyper religious Chantry. The world is on the brink of war and Hawke (this is you) is as usual the ONLY one who can help. Varric recounts the story of the legendary “Champion of Kirkwall” and his/her rise to power.

Hawke can be male or female and you can choose his/her class - mage, rogue and warrior. Alas, unlike the first game, your freedom ends here as you are restricted to the human species (so all you elven fanatics will be disappointed). In the beginning you are escaping from the clutches of the dark-spawn as they terrorise your village of Lothering. You flee with your mother, sister and your pain-in-the-backside brother, from Fereldan to the area known as the Free Marches in the state of Kirkwall. You begin as a lowly refugee residing in Lowtown, the poor area of Kirkwall with your brother/sister, mother and your uncle with the serious gambling problem.

The games combat system is even better than the first. In fact, when this gamer first played it she nearly fainted at the pure awesomeness that oozed out of her monitor. It is lightning fast and awe inducing. There are a variety of skills and you are given the opportunity to further strengthen and upgrade your abilities.

BioWare adds the dialogue wheel from Mass Effect and features a fully voiced main character. The dialogue wheel is far more realistic than the monotonous speech options in the first game. Plus it's fun to click on the sarcastic option and see everyone's reactions.

Another brilliant aspect of the game is the companions and the characters in general. My personal favourite is Isabela, the laid back pirate who is hell bent on pouncing on just about everyone within walking distance of her, and not just in battle. The characters are unique, not to mention downright hilarious (especially Merril). Also each companion has their special set class so they all have their share of mind numbing moves. Carver, your brother, is the only letdown in your family of dysfunctional heroes. At one point this gamer was about to freeze his irritating posterior only to be stopped by game restrictions. You are also able to romance just about everyone in your party.

The game could have been longer but I guess 50 hours of endless gore will do. The combat is too easy at times but it can be solved by upping the difficulty to nightmare mode. The story, while a bit predictable is nevertheless engaging.

Dragon Age-II is even better than expected. It's splendid and I loved every moment of the game. BioWare has done it again. Now if you excuse me I must finish my 6th play through.


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