Friday, September 30, 2011
20 years later The Low End Theory, the second album from A Tribe Called Quest, still stands the test of time, reborn for a new generation by actor Michael Rappaport's documentary Beats, Rhymes and Life. No one before Tribe fused jazz music with Hip Hop so deftly, so flawlessly. It made me wanna learn how to play bass guitar. Although many believe the follow-up Midnight Marauders is Tribe's magnum opus, though a close second, I beg to differ. Low End broke barriers, set trends, took chances creatively when rappers weren't worried about record sales and label executives weren't pressuring rappers to conform to what was hot.
You heard Q-Tip laughing on track, stumbling over words in the intro to "Verses" and it was all there. You felt like you were in the studio with Tribe when they were cutting their records and that authenticity made them more down to earth.
Low End paved the way for Guru's Jazzmatazz series, songs like "Props Over Here" by the Beatnuts and groups like The Roots and their Do You Want More album. Hopefully the group can get back together and deliver that final album they owe Jive Records. The game needs a legitimate throwback.
What tiga What tiga What tiga What tiga What tiga What tiga What tiga WHAT?!?!
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Hold on..... the baseball season is over? Is it really? Despite the popularity of the NFL and the NBA coming off an amazing past season, baseball is my fvorite sport. It is also a sport I played as a youngster in an actual league. So I go hard following the games (even watching it on television - which many claim is boring). This year, however, I was so caught up in the aforementioned NBA season of LeBron taking his talents to South Beach that by the time that was over it was already July and I had no idea who was leading the divisions in the Major Leagues (more importantly where the Mets were in the standings). I figured the baseball All-Star break would get me into the groove. No dice.
What I did know was how horribly both the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox began their respective seasons and how everyone immediately knocked them out of the playoffs in April. If I know anything about baseball, it is that the season is far too long to kill a team after an 0-6 start. That being said, both the Rays and the Red Sox respective season came down to the final regular season game.
Boston in the midst of a monumental collapse the entire month of September blew a 9th inning lead for the first time in 77 such situations (previously 76-0) in losing to the Baltimore Orioles 4-3. Just three minutes later Evan Longoria completed a seven-run comeback against the Yankees with a 12th inning homerun. The Atlanta Braves lost to the Phillies in extra innings while the St. Louis Cardinals, down by 10 games in the Wild Card Standings entering September, took care of Houston Astros 8-0 to complete their improbable comeback.
The Braves tied a National League record for the length of a lead blown to lose a chance to go to the postseason (81/2 games), also in horrific fashion. I must say this only satisfies me because they have nothing to say to the Mets who blew a nearly similar lead in 2007 to the Phillies and, because I am a Mets fan, the fact that it was the Braves that screwed up will always put a smile on my face.
So I arrived for the baseball season in time to see what is being called the greatest regular season day in baseball history. Wow.
Better late than never.
Won't happen again next year I promise MLB :)
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
When Peyton Manning had neck surgery in the offseason it was thought that he would be back under center in time for the start of the regular season. Now a setback in his recovery has prompted a third surgery to fuse ligaments in his neck. Because of this, the word is Manning could miss the entire season.
Actually he could practice in December, but the way the Colts have started the season with Kerry Collins at QB (0-3) it would not make any sense for Manning to get back on the field.
How about the people who picked Manning in their fantasy football league getting upset that Manning is not playing.
This is real life. The neck is nothing to play with. Get well soon, Peyton.
Monday, September 26, 2011
The last few weeks walking through Times Square in New York City I have been in earshot of young White men who either refer to other White friends in their presence as the "N" word or other people as such in conversation. I passed a group of guys that had a Black person in their midst and the word flew loose and free amongst them. I looked at the Black guy and through the smile on his face I saw someone who was clearly uncomfortable hearing the word, but not angry enough to call them out on it.
Welcome to the 21st century and generation Y. I know the history of the use of the "N" word and the negative connotations that it represented. Some of these kids grew up on Hip Hop as it is currently constituted and don't have, dare I say, become immune to the use of the "N" word. The use of the word in Hip Hop has been critiqued ad nauseam with some of the more popular Hip Hop artists reasoning that they have taken the negativity out of the word by using it regularly to address themselves, sort of like a term of endearment.
Me, personally, when I used the word in my lyrics back in the day I was using it as a negative about another person (as in ignorant Black man - not knowing how nice I am as an artist or not acting intelligently in public). I never called myself the "N" word because I felt I was an educated Black man, but when another Black person addressed me as such I did not take offense because it was usually in jest (i.e. you crazy, n****? or "n****, you musta lost your mind).
Lord knows what White people still say about Black folks in the comfort and privacy of their own home, but when I hear 20-something year old Italian guys calling each other the "N" word like it's part of their natural vocabulary, I realize that Hip Hop did this. If the artists are fine calling themselves the "N" word why can't every other race do it? It's cool, right?
Is this what Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash, Run-DMC and other pioneers envisioned when trying to get Hip Hop its proper respect?
KRS-One said it in a rhyme years ago, but now White folks calling themselves n***** is a pandemic.
Hip Hop has gone global in popularity, but is Hip Hop really winning?
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Troy Davis, accused and convicted of killing police officer Mark MacPhail in 1989, maintained his innocence to the end as he was put to death late Wednesday night in Georgia. The case recently gained worldwide attention because many believe that mounting evidence (witnesses retracting testimony, FBI and corrections officers making statements professing Davis' innocence) shows that the wrong man was put to death.
Davis refused a last meal and calmly held his head up while strapped to a gurney and asked that his family continue to fight to find the true killer. Heartbreaking stuff when you think of how many innocent lives are lost in the penal system, not necessarily due to death, but in just years wasted away in a cell just to have DNA evidence vindicate them over 20 years later.
Speaking of DNA, none of Davis' was found at the scene of the MacPhail crime and no murder weapon was recovered. "#Too much doubt" was the theme of the last few days for people protesting the use of the death penalty. Davis who had his death sentence delayed twice before made a last ditch attempt with the Supreme Court to stop the execution. I am not sure how the legal process works, but from the outside looking in the court system seemed to be satisfied that they got their man and would not listen to reason, even denying Davis' request to take a lie detector test.
Why would you deny a man a lie detector test to prove his innocence? That did not sit well with me. While Davis was given the opportunity to prove his innocence in court in 2010 (the first time that had been offered to a death row inmate in over 50 years), witnesses who testified that Davis was not the trigger man was blown off as "smoke and mirrors".
With Davis' execution the criticism over the United States' use of the death penalty reverberated abroad in the U.K. With the U.S. so invested in how the world views the country, it is safe to say the nation's justice system took a big hit in the eyes of our international brethren. According to Amnesty International an estimated 139 countries have abolished the death penalty.
In lighter death penalty news, Texas (the most visible supporter of execution) got it right executing one of the white supremacists that took part in the dragging death of African-American James Byrd, Jr. in 1998.
There's no death penalty in Colorado, so what is going to happen to Shawn McCormack the pervert who raped an 11 month-old baby boy in a hotel room on Sunday (Sept. 18th)?
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Being that he was shot before two years earlier and survived, I had no reason to believe he wouldn't make it through this time. When I saw the news on BET that Friday night I was stunned. This didn't have to happen to this guy. I wished he and B.I.G could have made peace.
Then, ofcourse, the conspiracy theories blew up:
1 - How could Suge Knight be in the driver's seat and only get grazed in the head?
2 - There was no funeral, so Tupac wasn't really dead he was somewhere in Cuba (this really took off when his Makavelli Don Killuminati: 7 Day Theory came out that November - named after the man who faked his own death centuries ago)
3 - When the autopsy photo leaked, it wasn't really Tupac because the head was turned to the side and the photo was only from the chest up showing none of his tattoos.
and the kicker:
4 - Suge Knight set Pac up to get shot by allegedly telling him to take his bulletproof vest off before going after Orlando Washington in the Vegas casino brawl because 'Pac had met his commitment to Death Row and was ready to leave the label to start his own.
I was right there with everyone else just hoping the man who "survived five shots" was still out there somewhere waiting to return after seven years (another theory that was debunked after 2003 came and went with no sign of Pac).
I never thought he was a great lyricist, but Tupac never held his tongue which led to a lot of real music with substance which is more than can be said for the stuff that's getting played on the radio.
Rest In Peace.
Can't say I am surprised at this one. Seeing how Swizz left his now ex-wife Mashonda while they were still married to start an affair with Alicia Keys, shorly after a woman in another country gave birth to his love child, many people who criticized Keys predicted he would do the same to her. Recently married and with their son Egypt not even a year old, rumors persist (according to Bossip.com) that Swizz was has been sending seedy text messages back and forth with a 23 year-old named Christina Elizabeth whom he has offered to fly to one of his tour dates to "f--- the s--- out of asap."
Spin control came fast and furious from Keys and Swizz via twitter both claiming these allegations are bull manure.
Monday, September 12, 2011
It is safe to say that Serena Williams has made it all the way back from a tumultuous, injury-plagued, and health troubled 2010. Unfortunately she brought her mouth with her.The same one that got her a record $82,500 fine for threatening the line judge. This tirade was far less malicious than that epic meltdown, still everyone seemed to make a big deal about it. Serena never cursed at the judge, it was more like a tongue lashing that kept going on and on, every few seconds something else, sort of like "and another thing".
It was like when you got beat as a kid and your mom would just keep talking about the nerve you have hours after the whooping.... maybe that's just me.
Anyhoo, I don't see what all the fuss is about THIS show of emotion by Serena. John McEnroe yelled at the line judges seemingly every match, yet his tirades have made him as legendary as his play. He has even made commercials poking fun at how he loses his cool. Why is it okay for McEnroe to be emotional, but not Serena?
I would pull the race card, but that is too easy....
Can you imagine if baseball managers Lou Pinella, Billy Martin (R.I.P), or any fill-in-the-blank manager who got tossed from the game by an umpire wore a microphone? You would hear a lot worse than what Serena said.
Sunday, September 11, 2011
It was an emotional day in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania as the victims of the horrific terrorist attack on our country ten years ago were memorialized. For the first time grieving families in New York were able to see the completed memorial. Two waterfalls made in the imprint of the two world Trade Center Towers at the exact place where they fell surrounded by bronze with the names of every single person that perished in 2001 and in 1993 engraved in it.
For the over 1000 families who were never able to recover any remains of their loved ones, seeing the names immortalized in stone gives some sort of closure. The ceremony, which brought President Barack Obama and George Bush together at Ground Zero for the first time ever, might be the last time all the victims will be honored by having their names read aloud.
I, for one, flipped back and forth to MSNBC where they replayed NBC's minute-by-minute coverage of the events of that Tuesday morning after the first Tower was hit. Being on a train oblivious to what was happening at the time I wanted to see how it was being reported on T.V.
Blessings go to those who lost their lives at the Pentagon, in Pennsylvania and on the hijacked airliners. Watching it unfold today brought it all back. The stunned firefighters at the Trade Center site after both Towers had fallen, the humongous dust cloud that looked like a monster chasing people through the streets of the financial district, the normally composed news anchors falling victim to very human emotions on-air.... it was a surreal experience.
Where were you when America was attacked on 9/11?
Saturday, September 10, 2011
It's crazy to think 10 years have passed since the most deadliest attack on U.S. soil. Still I remember where I was, what I was doing, where I was going and how I eventually got home on that Tuesday. I was supposed to be off from work at The Wiz Electronics store that day and I switched with another co-worker. I worked in Brooklyn, but I had to go to another store in Queens to help clean up. The day was like any other, the sun was out, not a cloud in the sky. I took the train to Queens and when the train emerged from the underground tunnel outdoors I noticed people on the roof of buildings looking towards the city. I thought nothing of it, just some people gazing at the picturesque skyline of Manhattan. I kept listening to my CD player unaware that the Twin Towers were burning.
When I got off of the train and stepped out of the station, people were crowding the streets. I looked up at the sky and saw smoke. I just thought a nearby store was on fire. When I walked into the Wiz store everyone was surrounding the big screen TV's on display. They were all tuned to CNN and had the image of both Towers with smoke billowing out of it.
I thought it was a movie. I saw my manager with tears in his eyes. I had to ask someone if it was real. I stared at the screen in disbelief for a few minutes and left the store. I could not go back in the train station. Every bus that passed was packed. Luckily I remembered how to get back to Brooklyn on the bus from my bowling days at Van Wyck lanes.
I tried to call my loved ones and the lines were dead. Everyone was thinking the same thing. I walked for blocks away from the chaos until I finally found a bus stop where I could get on the bus.
How did this happen? People had transistor radios tuned to 1010WINS and other news stations trying to learn more about what was going on.
To think I just walked through the ground floor of the Towers on the way to the subway 10 days earlier on my birthday with my future wife. It was the end of a nice dinner and walk through Battery Park. I had seen the Towers up close only once before during a field trip with my Art class a year earlier when I was attending L.I.U. My class stood in the plaza between the two buildings and I made the mistake of trying to look up at how tall the Towers were. I almost fell backwards. As I saw it the Towers were colossal. It was hard to believe buildings this tall and powerful could be felled by terrorists.
Who knew that stroll would be the last time I saw the inside of the Towers?
I will never forget that day, nor will i forget the people who died and those who died trying to save lives. If I would have been off that day I probably would have did what I did once I finally got home: popped a tape in the VCR and record the news coverage. I can't remember if YouTube existed then, but click the link below to see news footage from different networks of that fateful morning.
God Bless America!
Friday, September 9, 2011
Beyonce is pregnant, just not as far along as initially believed. According to Mediatakeout.com "King B" used a prosthetic baby bump for dramatic effect in her big VMA reveal.
Hindsight being 20/20 the notoriously private Beyonce was going out of her way to show off her belly, telling paparazzi "I have a surprise for y'all" before posing for the above photo on the red carpet.
Allegedly the mommy-to-be is only 8 weeks along meaning she is still in first trimester.
However, the Daily News posted a pic of Beyonce in a bikini showing her bump. You be the judge.
I am dumfounded about how Dick Cheney's book "In My Time" can even be called a memoir. The former Vice President (the real President if you ask some) criticizes all the key players in the Bush administration except himself. He conveniently skirts around the issue of Scooter Libby, facts that show intelligence was manipulated to justify the War on Terror, even how much alcohol he consumed the day he shot his close friend in his face during a hunting trip.
Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice are among the many who have fired back at Bene-Dick Arnold's version of events saying "he missed the runway."
How this book is one of the top five on USA Today bestseller list has to be based on curiousity. Who is taking this guy seriously nowadays?
He showed his character when he refused to stand to acknowledge President Obama during the oath of office.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Despite being disqualified from the 100 meters due to a false start over the weekend, Usain Bolt rebounded to set a meet record in the 200 meters and anchor the Jamaicans to a new world record in the 4x100 meter relay at the world championships in Daegu yesterday (September 4th).
The USA did not finish after being tripped up by Great Britain during the final baton exchange. The USA women were victorious in their 4x100 relay as Carmelita Jeter held off Jamaica's Veronica Campbell-Brown down the stretch.