The Best Albums Of 2017 So Far

2016 blessed us with incredible new music. From Kanye’s The Life Of Pablo, to Chance The Rapper’s Coloring Book, and to in my opinion, the greatest album to have ever been produced, Frank Ocean’s Blonde, it was just a great year for music.

We’re three months into 2017, and the new music is starting to pour in. The year is still young, but here are some of the best new albums that have been released so far:

American Teen – Khalid 


Khalid’s debut album, American Teen, is just the very beginning to the successful music career glowing in front of him. At only 18 years old, Khalid has made huge waves with his single, ‘Location,’ which can be found on American Teen. This album is emotionally crafted with soulful 90’s vibes and smooth vocals. American Teen is one of those rare albums that you can listen to from start to finish, without skipping any songs, and you’ll never get tired of hearing it. Highlights include: ‘Saved’, ‘Location’, and ‘Shot Down’

Mansionz – Mansionz


Mansionz is a new duo featuring singer-songwriter, Mike Posner, and singer-producer, Blackbear. The self-entitled album consists of electronic-based hip-hop and R&B pop. It’s a unique combination that deserves more attention. The transitions from each song are flawless, and blends perfectly. Highlights include: ‘The Life Of A Troubadour’, ‘I’m thinking about horses’, ‘nobody knows’, and ‘My Beloved’

CollXtion II: Unsolved – Allie X


Canadian singer-songwriter, Allie X, has been working on her second studio album, and it’s for sure a bop. Her sound can be described as edgy electronic pop, and it’s just different than anything else. Highlights include: ‘That’s So Us’ and ‘Too Much To Dream’

I See You – The xx


I See You is The xx’s junior album, and in my opinion, their best. The xx have always been known for their calming and soothing vocals, and they lived up to expectations yet again. The production of their third album has been a step up from their past work, and it’s honestly beautiful. Highlights include: ‘Lips’, ‘Brave For You’, and ‘Performance’

Process – Sampha


Heavy emotions can be found in Sampha’s debut LP. Process contains R&B roots, and vocals that sound almost haunting. Sampha rediscovers himself through his work, and you can hear the vulnerability in his LP.  Highlights include: ‘What Shouldn’t I Be?’, ‘Plastic 100ºC’, and ‘Take Me Inside’

I can’t wait to hear what else is yet to come in 2017, and I do have high expectations

Why You’re Sick Right Now

I’m currently coming off of yet another flu. In my 7 months of college, it seems like I’ve been sick for at least 65% of it.There isn’t a point in recent memory when I didn’t have some level of symptom. I don’t know if I’m more confused or concerned. I sleep and eat decently, relegate drug use to the weekends and even take vitamins. For someone my age, my habits are gold-standard. The worst part is, I’m beginning to realize my influenza-ridden experience isn’t even unique – everyone seems to be sick. I’m writing this article today not only to ask god why I have an awful immune system, but to run down the reasons that you might, too.



  1. College Campuses are Death Traps

Enrollment at UIC is just short of 30,000 people. Even without faculty, that is an insane number of people to cram into a couple square blocks. As much as I love urban living, I have no problem admitting that humans were just not intended for this level of density. You might say that UIC isn’t as bad because it’s a commuter school, but I would say that there’s just a bigger variety of germs people bring in from their backwood suburbs. I was in a lecture hall the other day and could barely hear the professor because someone different was coughing every couple minutes. It’s pretty obvious that most of us are immunization non-compliant.

Continue reading Why You’re Sick Right Now

That Time Bruce Released Two New Albums On The Same Day

Bruce Springsteen had released a double album before, 1980’s “The River”, pictured here.  So it wasn’t a foreign concept to the man.  25 year ago this week in 1992, in an almost unprecedented move, he released two new single albums, “Human Touch” and “Lucky Town”.  I say “almost unprecedented” because Guns N’ Roses had released two new albums, “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II” on the same day the previous year.  In Springsteen’s defense, his two albums were recorded almost a year apart, with “Human Touch” done in 1989-1991 and “Lucky Town” recorded later in 1991 into 1992.  So, unlike GNR, it wasn’t a way to make more money by selling two LP’s instead of a double album.  The original plan was to record an extra song for “Human Touch” so it could be released in 1991.  Instead, Springsteen ended up recording ten more songs, so he had a new album.  It had been almost four and a half years since his previous album, “Tunnel Of Love”, so his fans were hungry for new product.  It might not have been the best idea, but he released both albums on March 31, 1992.  Sales were not great, by his standards, and certainly not in the league of he GNR albums (both were certified 7x platium by the RIAA).  Of the two, “Human Touch” sold better, but “Lucky Town” was more popular with the critics.  A friend once told me the story of going to the record store when the albums were released with his Dad, who was a rabid Springsteen fan.  Even as a kid, he could tell how disappointed his Father was when they played the albums that day in the car.  That being said, there are good songs on both of them, so I will be featuring them on my show Monday, 12-4 PM CST at for their 25th anniversary this week.  I hope you can join me and I hope you will find some songs from the albums that you enjoy.SPRINGSTEEN_RIVER_5X5_site-500x500

My K-Pop Awakening Update: K-Dramas Are Ruining My Life

안녕하세요! UIC Radio 소니아 입니다.

Hey there! It’s UIC Radio’s Sonia!

If you’re reading this blog, you may know a little bit about my emergence into the world of k-pop, but if you don’t, be sure to check out my previous k-pop blog My K-Pop Awakening! In this series of my K-Pop Awakening, I hope to enlighten you in my discovery of K-Dramas and how they quickly took over my life, thoughts, and emotions, as well as recommend some really good (and some questionable) dramas for you to check out!

The ever-evolving k-pop void consumes me once again.

When we last spoke on this subject, I told you all about the ~*cultural awakening*~ I experienced back in mid-September, in which I discovered my now favorite k-pop group, EXO. I briefly mentioned my discovery of a K-Drama titled Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, which lead to my k-pop expert/friend/roommate Pearl to point out which actor is in EXO. What I didn’t mention was that I actually got into the show, and actively kept up with it until its completion.

And man, was it a wild ride.

When I found the initial 6-minute trailer for Scarlet Heart, I immediately knew it was going to be over the top and super dramatic (hence the key term “drama”). But my incessant need to lovingly troll my roommate fueled me to pursue the drama further and actually invest time into watching it.

For some context, as Pearl Girl explained to me upon my discovery of this trailer, Korean dramas were “unoriginal, over-dramatic TV crap with terrible casting and acting.” Naturally, this ignited the incessant troll in me and I couldn’t help but try to bug her more by watching the first episode and annotating each scene as she tried to hide *evil laugh*.

Somehow I managed to talk her into watching some of the episodes with me and, luckily, I dragged her down with me as all my free time became devoted to obsessively waiting for another new episode to post on my new best friend Drama Fever, a free online service where you can stream literally hundreds of dramas.

While it was my first official drama and holds a place in my heart, Scarlet Heart turned into a hot mess halfway through the series. The story was hard to keep up with, the main characters were doing inexplicable things that were beyond any comprehension, and I was immediately salty at the screenwriters following the death of my favorite character (who was arguably one of the best characters, if not the only one).

Was it trash? Yes. Did I love it? Heck yes. Do I hate myself for loving it? Slightly. Would I binge all the episodes in one go to get the nostalgia out of my system? Absolutely.

Since the finale of my first ever drama, I like to think my K-Drama palette has since improved. With that being said, here are a few more recommendations of some of my favorite dramas I’ve seen so far:

Continue reading My K-Pop Awakening Update: K-Dramas Are Ruining My Life


March is National Nutrition Month®,  a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The theme for 2017 is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, which acts as a reminder that each bite counts. Making just small shifts in our food choices, can add up over time. Click here to visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website, where you can find a wealth of information to help you and the people you care for make good choices!

Sometimes there are environmental or socioeconomic issues that can limit the amount of good food options available to us. On the next Dr. Paula Show, Dr. Allen-Meares will be speaking with Nicole Robinson, VP of Community Impact for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, which is working to provide solutions to these issues. The show will air on Tuesday, March 28th at 11 AM. Nicole will be sharing her thoughts on the goals and activities of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, importance of food insecurity in Metro Chicago and what the Food Depository does in addressing issues related to health literacy and health disparities.

Nicole Robinson, VP of Community Impact for the Greater Chicago Food Depository.Born in Chicago and a product of Chicago Public Schools,  Nicole now leads the Food Depository’s partnerships with community organizations to address the root causes of hunger and provide nutritious food for people in need across Cook County.
Prior to joining the Food Depository, Nicole served as head of the Mondelēz pronounced mohn-dah-LEEZ’) International Foundation funding community programs designed to promote good nutrition and healthy lifestyles. She has worked with the United Nations World Food Program and a variety of multinational NGOs, including CARE, Save the Children and INMED Partnerships for Children.

Do you have an idea for a Dr. Paula Show topic? Is there someone you would like to hear interviewed on the topic of health literacy? Share you suggestions with us! Contact Brienne Lowry at

Kevin Coval Gives Chicago’s History Back To The People


This year’s anniversary of Chicago’s incorporation as a city landed on a Saturday. That same day hundreds of people were lined up around two blocks in the heart of the city for an unusual celebration. Confounded passersby wondered out loud what particular event had enticed all these individuals to gather on State Street in early March and the answer was met with even more bemusement. That night, outside the Harold Washington Library, there was no sold-out show or movie premiere to be shown, but rather the release of a new book.

Kevin Coval is a poet, teacher, and a passionate advocate for Chicago’s arts programs. His love for the city and the creatives that inhabit it inspired him to write A People’s History of Chicago, a compilation of poems that celebrate its history from the perspective of those whose stories often go unheard of yet have left a profound impact on its shaping.

“With all the education work I’m able to do, I really wanted to provide something for the classrooms, CPS, and colleges that would be this counter-narrative to the dominant tropes of history.”Kevin Coval

Now, a few days removed from the book launch, Coval is having coffee at a local cafe in
Wicker Park while candidly speaking. “I was surprised” he recalls of the weekend’s success, “there are almost 400 seats in that space, and to ‘sell-out’ a book launch is great.”

This is Coval’s seventh book, but it’s accompanied by one of his most ambitious roll-out plans to date. In addition to the packed event held at Harold Washington, he also expects to do “180 readings in 365 days –at least one reading in every neighborhood–and build an archive that is incorporating voices of the people’s history of Chicago” from those who attend these readings.

The tour is a daunting task by itself. To say Coval is a busy man would be an understatement taking into consideration that he is also the director of the Young Chicago Authors program and the co-founder of Louder Than A Bomb, the largest youth festival in America. He attributes his ability to manage all these events to the “great team YCA is building,” expanding later on “everybody in the organization is doing, especially in this month of March, so much to make this space open and what it is to young people, their parents, teachers, and siblings from across the city.”

March has been an increasingly hectic month for Coval ever since Louder Than A Bomb was founded in 2000. As the festival has grown, its finals have moved to bigger venues and held around the beginning of spring. Nonetheless, as he explains how LTAB inspires his writing, it is abundantly clear that he relishes helping give the youth a platform that wouldn’t necessarily be there for them otherwise and greatly admires them.

“In a lot of ways, when I’m writing, I’m thinking about them as my audience. I feel that if it works with young people in Louder Than A Bomb it’s going to work with everybody because they have the best ear and are also the best critics at sussing out bullshit. They will let you know, if it’s not hot, they will let you know.”

He also credits his “non-traditional teachers” for the singular approach to his work. Mentioning public figures such as KRS-One, Haki R. Madhubuti, and Bill Ayers as mentors, alongside family members and Mr. Clay (his one “good high school teacher), even before he was able to meet them. He’s a perpetual student and is proud to claim “I’ve learned from people who I have not met.” One of those people was Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks,  who passed away the same year LTAB was conceived. The legendary poet is now the inspiration behind the current festival’s competition and also featured in A People’s History of Chicago in a poem as well as one of the illustrations done by Hebru Brantley, Paul Branton, Runsy and Max Sansing exclusively for the book.

Illustration by Runsy.


The book relates in chronological order the stories of crucial Chicagoans –whose efforts have been minimized or completely erased from regular textbooks–in a passionate yet ambiguous manner that incites the reader to look up and find out more about these characters. This is by design. “The book is at one time a mirror as well as it is a portal,” Coval explains. “The same way hip-hop sent me to the library to begin to research, [the book’s purpose is to] propel you forward to your own interests into your own interests, into your own experience.”

Being a self-described student of hip-hop, the book also touches on the rich history the genre has had in Chicago and its importance as “it continues to unveil these incredibly important truths about how we should interact with one another, sets up counter social engagement strategies and be in a community.”

Common, Kanye West, King Louie and Chief Keef all symbolically represent their respective global movements rooted in the city within the pages of the book and Chance The Rapper, a former student of Coval’s, volunteered to write a personal foreword. It’s through hip-hop that Coval was able to realize that “we are the best documentaries of our own experience” and A People’s History of Chicago is driven by that very ethos.
Shortly after finishing his coffee, Coval heads to the YCA offices located a block away, running past blinking pedestrian stop signs in order to return to his work as quickly as possible during an extremely windy day that only a city like Chicago could produce. A unique environment that raised the Gwendolyn Brooks of the past, the Kevin Covals of the present and the Chance The Rappers of the future.

I Traced Chance The Rapper’s Musical Lineage To Scott Joplin


Chance the Rapper has been the focus of many different conversations, whether it is about his music to funding public education. One thing that I like to do with popular mainstream artists, is research their musical lineage. I decided to do that with Chance and was quite intrigued with the results.

I began my research by reading an article from Complex Magazine where Chance was asked about some of his favorite artists and he provided the magazine with a list of 25 of his favorite albums that influenced his career. Out of those 25 albums, I picked three artists that he mentioned:

Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson – Bad





Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt





Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill





From there, I begin to trace their influential roots using the All Music Guide. It can be such an eye-opening experiencing listening to the different artists via one’s musical lineage. If you are an open-minded music fan, then you may discover some hidden treasures.

For Lauryn Hill and Michael Jackson, they shared some similar musical influences, one of those influences being the lovely:

Diana Ross

Diana Ross








For Jay-Z, one of his cited influences is:LL Cool J

LL Cool J –

Diana Ross and Jay-Z do not share any musical influences (to no one’s surprise).






One of Diana Ross’ cited musical influences is:


Billie Holiday





The Sugarhill GangAs for LL Cool J, it is:

The Sugarhill Gang

As we continue to trace their musical influences, The Sugarhill Gang cites Curtis Mayfield as a musical influence:




Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield






For Billie Holiday, one of her cited influences was the Godmother of Rock & Roll:


Sister Rosetta Tharpe –







Nat King Cole

Next, we look at one of Curtis Mayfield’s musical influences, Mr. Unforgettable himself:

Nat King Cole –






As for the Godmother of Rock and Roll, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, one of her cited influences was the Queen of Gospel Music:

mahalia-jacksonMahalia Jackson –






Fats Waller


For Nat King Cole, one of his major musical influences was legendary pianist:

Fats Waller –






As for the Original Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson, one of her cited musical influences is:

Bessie SmithBessie Smith –





Fats Waller was influenced by a man who may be best known for a melody used by many ice cream trucks across the country, Famous Ragtime Pianist:


Scott Joplin





It should be noted that if I had chosen some of Chance’s other musical influences, the results would have been a bit different. For instance, if I had chosen James Brown as one of Michael Jackson’s influences, we may have ended up with Robert Johnson being one of the roots of Chance’s musical lineage.  Trace the musical lineage of your favorite artist and share the results with us!



Brother Jacob

“Host of Blues and News with Brother Jacob” every Sunday, from 6 pm – 8 pm on UIC Radio.

Generic Is The New Basic

Trumpcare/Ryancare making you nauseated? Me too.

A short one this week, as (let’s be real) we gear up to take on more hours at work next week. That’s how we spring-break UIC style. This means I write about something I’m fascinated by, and don’t need to research, as I usually would. My main game is healthcare, so my odd interest this week is drug policy, e.g. the laws that govern our prescription drugs.

Ready for that nausea to lurch to full-on heaving? Let’s get to it.

-A drug patent in the US lasts ten years. The company of origin has a decade to market the absolute hell out of it before the recipe (ingredients AND quantity) are released. This is how generic drugs exist, usually comprised entirely of the active ingredient of the “designer drug.”
For example, Tylenol’s active ingredient is acetaminophen. You can buy Tylenol for 15$ a bottle, or get much larger bottle of just acetaminophen for about 6$ at Jewel or CVS. Benadryl’s active ingredient is diphenhydramine. It’s a mouthful, but you can just buy a generic “allergy relief” box of pills for $4, with the only ingredient being diphenhydramine–it’ll serve the exact same purpose with the same quality. Read your labels!

-“I did read the labels! And the drug I saw on TV has more ingredients, not just the active ingredient! That makes it better than its generic version!”
This accusation is half-right. Brands put more things in their pills, but these ingredients are usually inactive. It’s essentially to make people believe that their drug is more comprehensive.

-“Then why do branded drugs cost so much more?” Because they can. And because they spend billions of dollars on marketing. The US and New Zealand are the only developed countries that allow direct-to-consumer marketing by pharmaceutical companies. Those wacky ads featuring 60-year-old white couples fishing and going to a ball game? They’re illegal practically everywhere else, because they divert pharmaceutic money away from research and development, and the ads are often misleading. Just think of the super-fast disclaimer at the end.

But back to the “because they can” part. Ahem. IT IS ILLEGAL IN THE US FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO EVEN TRY TO NEGOTIATE DRUG PRICES WITH PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES. Not difficult; not uncommon; illegal. That’s why epi-pen prices were allowed to rocket to hundreds of dollars a year ago. Because the CEOs had no opposition. And big surprise! People with life-threatening allergies need eip-pens to live, so they’ll pay whatever the cost.

-“OH GOD, why can’t we stop this?” Because designer drug brands make lots of money this way. The more money they make, the more powerful their lobby is in DC. I’m sure you’ve heard of “Big Pharma.” They’ve got more lobbyists, more cash, and more power than the National Rifle Association.
It took one meeting with Big Pharma lobbyists to turn Donald Trump’s view from “hey people should be able to afford their drugs” to “more money for Pharma means more innovation and more jobs or something.”

Oh man, here I said that’d be short, and yet here we are. Next time you’re in CVS looking for allergy meds, headache relief, or researching a new birth control pill, look at the ingredients. Then find the generic that boasts the brand-name’s active ingredient on its box. If you’re curious about all the other ingredients, you’ve got a smart phone. Look ’em up! If the generic’s package says “Compare with [Brand Name Drug]” that means it’s identical, except the pills might be a different shade of blue, or come in a bottle rather than a box.

The only difference is marketing. Be an educated consumer. The only way these kind of lobbyists will back off is if we stop feeding them.

Have a Scien-tastic Day!


Forget It Dog, Life’s A Risk

Forget It Dog, Life’s A Risk.



The California band consists of (from left to right): Max Kuehn (drums), Brandon Schwartzel (back vocals and bass), Elvis Kuehn (vocals and guitar), and Zac Carper (lead vocals and guitar).


I first heard of this band a couple months ago when I got into SWMRS. I found out SWMRS was opening for Fidlar in Chicago. I rushed to buy tickets only a week before the concert and to my disappointment they were sold out. I was only interested in the concert because of SWMRS, what the…. Is Fidlar? I thought. But soon, thanks to YouTube’s suggestions, I watched the music video for “Leave Me Alone” by Fidlar.

I had never seen lyrics written out on toilet paper so nicely and appealing before that described me oh so perfectly, so I thought I NEED to hear more of this band’s music. Who’s Fidlar and why are they describing me so perfectly? YouTube went on to suggest songs like “I Just Wanna Die”, “40oz On Repeat” which is an awesome song but even cooler music video. The video’s basically a parody of other artists’ music videos. Including Eminem, Britney Spears, Green Day, the Beastie Boys. I’ll let you see what I’m talking about though…

I’d like to mention that I was letting myself fall in love with this band while I was supposed to be studying for midterms, mainly because I wanted anything to distract me from how much homework and studying I had. But I’m not even mad that I spent my time media stalking this band, I don’t regret it because forget it dog, life’s a risk. Little Fidlar joke there.

Fidlar sounds like what my body feels like on coffee and redbull, that’s the best way I can describe it. After listening to their albums on repeat for a good three times, that feeling kicked in and I finished my homework (and passed my midterms – yay).

Also, if you’ve been following this band longer than I have, which is only a couple months, and you’re reading this like, “dude I’ve known this band was awesome for a while” WELL LUCKY YOU. I tend to discover awesome bands super late.

ANYWAYS, I just wanted to share my small obsession with this band because I feel like they deserve some recognition.

Their first album, Fidlar (2013) was produced by the lead singer, Zac Carper.

The album is nothing but loud, catchy three chord and three minute songs like “Wait For The Man” there’s also a 90’s punk feel to this band. SWMRS has the same feel to me but yet both bands have their own sound and manage to sound like music from this century (but better).

Lead singer Zac mainly sings about doing nothing but getting high, drinking beer, being broke and hanging out with his friends, you’d think every song would sound the same and you’d get tired real fast but holy sh… each song is better than the last.

Here’s the video to one of my favorite songs on the album, “Max can’t surf” which features drummer, Max Kuehn, acting as his band mates right down to the outfits and tattoos.

Some of my favorite songs on the album: No Waves, Max Can’t Surf, Wake Bake Skate, and Wait For The Man.

Their second album titled, Too, was released in 2015.


The second album was a bit more mature, with songs focusing more on dealing with staying sober and Zach’s struggle with addiction to drugs. Also featuring more songs written and sung by guitarist, Elvis. There are more serious, soft songs like “Overdose”, “Bad Habits,” and “Stupid Decisions”.

Favorite songs on the album: West Coast, Bad Habits, Sober, and Stupid Decisions.

Apart from these two amazing albums, you can find Fidlar songs that never made it on an album including “No Money No Honey,” which is sadder than it sounds.

Lead singer Zac also went on to produce SWMRS’ debut album, Drive North (2016) and The Frights’ second album, You Are Going To Hate This (2016).

Here I am months later from when I saw that toilet paper music video, still upset that I missed what was probably the coolest concert ever last year – FIDLAR AND SWMRS AND THE FRIGHTS?!

I’m also completely disappointed in myself for being at lollapalooza last summer waiting around for J.Cole when I COULD HAVE BEEN WATCHING FIDLAR. DAMMIITTTTT.

UIC Radio’s Fourth Annual Battle Of The Bands!

This past Friday, UIC Radio held its fourth annual Battle of the Bands at The Bar 10 Doors on Taylor Street. The lineup included UIC bands August Hotel, Lettucehead, Brian Sees Stars, The Red Flag Boys, Turbulence, and The Land Lines.

After an energetic set from all the bands, the top 3 winners included: 1. LETTUCEHEAD, 2. Turbulence, and 3. August Hotel.

UIC Radio sincerely thanks all the bands for their hard work and dedication to performing, and helping create a night full of music and fun for all who attended!

photos by Pearl Shin