Editorial

Watch the Throne II

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According to multiple sources and people who have analyzed every single lyric on 4:44, there is a rift between Jay Z and Kanye West. In the first track on Jay’s 13th studio album he says:

But you got hurt because you did cool by ‘Ye
You gave him 20 million without blinkin’
He gave you 20 minutes on stage, fuck was he thinkin’?
“Fuck wrong with everybody?” is what you sayin’
But if everybody’s crazy, you’re the one that’s insane

Jay is probably referencing one of Kanye’s many on stage rants last year right before West hospitalized himself.

From the perspective of someone who is a Kanye West apologist and defends him to people who call him a sell out or crazy, the deterioration of this once great partnership hurts.

Selfishly, I want a Watch the Throne II and another Watch the Throne tour. I want Kanye to run to the studio to put together another Takeover if its needed. I want another This Cant Be Life. Ideally, I want them to understand that the art they create together is inspiring to their fans and needs to be shared with the masses. However, it seems like the wounds are too deep for both to heal. When you really think about it, were they a good match to begin with.

Kanye eccentricities and Jay’s laid back demeanor were bound to clash. Regardless of their chemistry in the studio, Dame Dash is the guy that always championed the talent of Kanye while Jay was always hesitant to put his full support behind Ye. Until the Rocafella empire fell and Kanye decided to go with what he perceived to be the winning team. Seven albums into his decision to ride with Jay, Kanye is considered a trendsetter for artists who chose to incorporate relevant topics and social issues into their music. Ye has also gotten super personal in a lot of songs, something Jay did in his most expressive form in 4:44.

Kanye has been attacked for his inability to fully grasp the lost of his mom, who he has chosen to marry, where he has chosen to live and now for seemingly being ungrateful for all Jay has done for him. Ye seems like he really wanted to be best friends with Jay, without realizing their differences were too big for that to ever happen. In the midst of all these Kanye attacks, the guy he wrote Big Brother about piled on.

Jay is my favorite rapper ever and he wouldn’t be that without the production and support of the all time great Kanye. I just want them to get along again, make some great music and cut the top off of another luxury vehicle.

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A Coalition of Mediocre Negroes

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Since election night in November, President elect Donald Trump has held meetings with a number of black public figures. The latest has been talk show host/comedian Steve Harvey. Harvey and Trump met at Trump Tower last Friday to discuss ways that Harvey could help Dr. Ben Carson run the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Harvey has not expressed any specific ways in which he can support Dr. Carson and emphasized that the meeting with Trump was very informal. Harvey deflected questions about Trump’s controversial comments and potential policies by simply stating that it is important to start a conversation to address issues that he was concerned about.

Harvey is not the first celebrity to meet with Trump. Shortly after Trump won the election he took meetings with NFL greats Jim Brown and Ray Lewis. Trump has also met with rapper Kanye West. The meetings with West, Lewis and Brown have received scrutiny because of Trump’s perceived lack of support for America’s minority population.

Trump’s most recent controversial tweet was aimed in the direction of congressman John Lewis. Trump tweeted that Lewis should focus on his “crime invested” district instead of focusing on the legitimacy of our most recent presidential election. Trump also said that Lewis was a man who is all talk and no action even though Lewis was on the front lines of the fight for civil rights in the 1960s. Either Trump was not aware of Lewis’ history and accomplishments or just does not care.

The question has to be asked, what are we supposed to think of these prominent black public figures who have accepted invites from our president elect.

Lewis, Brown, Harvey and West all mentioned that the meetings were informal where no in-depth plans for America’s marginalized population were mentioned. All also emphasized the need for dialogue between Trump and the community that has questions about his character and motives as president.

Trump may be initiating these meetings to appeal more to a group of Americans who did not vote for him. The public figures he is meeting with may be accepting these invitations to make headlines. However, neither of these reasons seem like they will benefit the minority population of America.

The only true sign of change in some of Trump’s rhetoric would be meetings with people like congressman John Lewis who are working directly with the public. A meeting with Kanye West could only be beneficial if the two discussed a way for West to rap like it was 2004 again.

Harvey and rest of the Trump meeting roster have received backlash for their perceived meetings with the enemy. Rapper T.I. believes Trump is using a divide and conquer theory when it comes to the select black public figures he meets with. T.I. also believes that black celebrities should not be meeting with Trump unless they are accompanied by someone like congressman Lewis.

Journalist Marc Lamont Hill went so far to say that Trump is having meetings with “mediocre negroes” who are not experts at anything. Hill also believes that these meetings should not happen without the presence of an individual who has a history creating policies and working towards empowering the disenfranchised.

The Trump meetings so far have produced no relevant dialogue or insight into Trump’s plans for our nation. The only thing the meetings have produced are photo opportunities and headlines for both Trump and his party invites. Going forward each invitee should actually come into the meeting with a formal plan that we can read or see or touch. Without that, we’ve just got to assume that Ray Lewis, Kanye West, Jim Brown and Steve Harvey are all trying out for a new season of the Apprentice.

 

 

No Explanation Needed

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Over the past 18 months Americans and citizens around the world have gotten a chance to see just how divided the United States is on certain issues. The knockdown, drag out 2016 presidential election between Hillary Clinton and the victor Donald Trump inspired some scary rhetoric from some scary places. One public figure that hopped on the Trump train after he secured the Republican nomination for president was conservative commentator Tomi Lahren.

Lahren’s online show on TheBlaze has gone viral because of her inflammatory quotes on current social issues. Lahren has compared the Black Lives Matter movement to the Klu Klux Klan. During NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s in game protests of societal injustices, Lahren recommended that Kaepernick go somewhere else if he is not satisfied with America. Lahren has also suggested that Beyonce hates police after her most recent Super Bowl performance, criticized actor Jesse Williams for his outrage at the murder of unarmed black men and repeatedly denounced President Obama’s handling of national security issues.

Those are only a few of the misinformed and irresponsible things Lahren has said on her non-televised online show. However, now Lahren’s ideals have been spread to the masses through her appearance on Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and a meeting she had with The Breakfast Club host Charlemagne Tha God. Even though Noah and Charlemagne do not agree with any of Lahren’s views, the question must be asked if it is even worth the time and exposure to have a conversation with her.

Jay Z once stated, “a wise man told me don’t argue with fools, cause people from a distance can’t tell who is who”. Lahren is the fool is this instance. Charlemagne and Noah are the ones we are confused about.

Lahren has no plans to retract statements that encourage divisiveness and offend the marginalized population of this country. The idea that conversation is necessary to understand different view points to spark unity does not apply in this case.

Having a conversation with Lahren about the plight of black and brown people in America is like trying to figure out why Lil Kim had all that plastic surgery. You will get the details from the doctor, but never fully understand why.

The worst part of this Lahren exposure is that it has been on her terms. After Lahren’s appearance on The Daily Show she was scheduled to appear on The Breakfast Club with Charlamagne but canceled and opted for an off air meeting. Even after Charlamagne appeared on her internet show through a horrible Skype connection a few months ago.

For some people and some viewpoints, there is no conversation that can be had that will lead to a positive outcome. Noah and Charlamagne may be genuinely attempting to understand her motivation for saying the things that she does or they may be trying to pop in her Google searches and expand their brand. In any case, it is borderline irresponsible to legitimize the opinions of anyone who profits from the division of American citizens.

Drowning in Drake

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Turn on your local hip hop radio station right now and its very likely that there is a Drake song playing. Stations have Pop StyleHotline BlingToo Good, Controlla, Childs Play and One Dance to choose from and that does not even include the remixes. All of these chart topping singles are from Drake’s fourth studio album, Views, which was released earlier this year.

This past Sunday night Drake announced on his Beats 1 show that he will be releasing another collection of music in December called More Life. During this announcement Drake also played four new singles from the upcoming mixtape and made two of them available to stream on Spotify and Apple Music (Fake Love and Sneakin).

Drake is without a doubt the hottest rapper in this universe and the next. However, the amount of music he has put out and plans to release real soon has to have one considering if this is too much Drake. Is it possible for a rapper who is hotter than July to over saturate the market with his product?

There are two ways to think about Drake’s history releasing music.

The first, quality over quantity, which means having the best or perceived best of something rather than a lot of cheap or less valuable versions. Since 2013, Drake has released Nothing Was the Same, If You’re Reading This Its Too Late, What a Time to be Alive and Views. Each album/mixtape had an average of about 5 singles that were on consistent rotation on every hip hop station in the world.

The flood of music and the frequency of its release makes music critics question the time, energy and detail put into each track.

Also, since Drake is hotter than the sun, radio stations have to play about two or three songs each hour. There are 24 hours in a day. That is a lot of Drake. Getting some sun at the beach is great, but too much will turn you into a crispy slice of bacon.

The second way to approach the tidal wave of music that we get from Drake is to be grateful for it.

Hip hop fans can always count on Drake to put out music. The knock against a lot of hip hop artists is that they just do not put out music. After the legendary hip hop producer/artist Dr. Dre released The Chronic in 1992, his second studio album did not drop until 1999 when he released 2001. And its does not seem like we will get The Detox until we walk on Mars. The great Lauryn Hill had no credible follow up the classic The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, released way back in 1998.

Even current hip hop artists that we love have had trouble provided content to their fans. Jay Electronica and Andre 3000 are great examples. Andre 3000 ranks very high when considering hip hop’s all time great lyricists. However, we have not had packaged music from him since 2003. The few and far between verses that he has had pop up on other artists albums is not enough. Hip hop fans want 20 songs of pure Andre 3000 creation that he has been unable to provide for them.

Drake lets you consistently bounce it like whoa, while making you feel like you won the grammy. Regardless of anyone’s opinion on the quality or quantity of Drake’s music, he always seems to give the people what they want.

Kobe’s Depth & Drama

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Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times

 

Last night is the only time in history when 60 will be worth much more than 73. Kobe Bean Bryant ended his 20 year NBA career last night scoring 60 points while hitting multiple clutch jump shots in a 101-96 victory over the Utah Jazz. A few minutes before that, the Golden State Warriors earned their record 73rd regular season win against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Kobe scoring 60 points is nothing new, he has done it 5 times. Kobe taking 50 shots is a career high but totally not out of character, he has missed the most shots in NBA history. During Kobe’s last season we did experience something new though. The depth, compassion and respect we saw from Kobe during his farewell season totally obliterates all the things we thought he was.

Kobe made his name as a cold hearted competitor. There are tons of stories from teammates and even a book from his former head coach Phil Jackson which paint Kobe as a win at all costs type of player. Championships meant more to Bryant than the relationships he had in the locker room. However, without a realistic shot at any team success the past three seasons in LA, Kobe has had to find other motivation to fuel his game.

Throughout this season, it seems as if that motivation has come in the form in coaching his super young teammates and solidifying relationships with his peers around the league. At the end of each game this season Kobe gave out more hugs than Barney. In numerous interviews he praised the superstars of our era and openly offered his wisdom to all who needed it. All this from a guy who once said:

“Smush Parker was the worst. He shouldn’t have been in the NBA but we were too cheap to pay for a point guard. … I was shooting 45 times a game [in 2007]. What was I supposed to do? Pass it into Chris Mihm and Kwame Brown?”

And this:

“There’s certain players that I’ve made cry. If I can make you cry by being sarcastic, then I really don’t want to play with you in the playoffs.”

Even though this seems like a new Kobe, he has had no issue being open in the past. Probably too open. During his time with Shaquille O’Neal in LA, the two would frequently communicate through the media. Kobe always thought Shaq was lazy in practice, and Shaq thought Kobe took too many shots. The worst of it came when the jabs at each other became personal. During Kobe’s sexual assault trial, for some reason he suggested that Shaq had paid off women that he had extra marital relations with:

Eventually, Kobe grew up and two have made up. Through Kobe’s jovial farewell season, he has made these minor missteps seem irrelevant. Our first thoughts will always go to his precise movements and  planned actions on the basketball court that made him an all time great.

The last stand of Kobe Bryant is something I’ll definitely tell my future kids about as they watch the final games of Steph Curry or Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis. The Kobe that smile, hugs and scored 60 in his final game, is what will resonate for years to come. But the drama, mistakes and overall hatred for his should by opposing fans is what made him more interesting than the average superstar. Probably even more interesting than MJ.

Mamba Out…

 

Iverson Brings Hip Hop to the Hall

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Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

 

The Basketball Hall of Fame last night announced that Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming and Allen Iverson will each be inducted as part of the 2016 hall class. While there are hundreds of all time greats who have been inducted into the hall for the past 57 years, these three stand out as individuals who appealed to groups that had not been represented in any professional sport before. Yao introduced NBA basketball to billions of Chinese citizens and made the game global. Shaq was a dominant big man in the mold of Wilt and Kareem but could run the floor, sell rap records and be marginally funny. Iverson was the one who broke the mold though.

Although Allen Iverson is being inducted into the hall based on his ability to dominate on the basketball court and his jaw dropping statistics, his impact as a cultural icon is what will keep his name in the minds of his fans forever. Iverson was unapologetic when it came to his love for and expression of hip hop culture.

Iverson’s style was his own. He arrived at arenas looking more Method Man than Michael Jordan. The long white tees, baggy jeans, throwback jerseys and durags were something that the casual NBA fan in 1996 was not used to seeing on a budding superstar. The genesis of the Iverson era also coincided with the release of some of hip hop’s most creative/innovative albums  in 1996. All Eyez on Me (2Pac), It Was Written (Nas), The Score (The Fugees), ATLiens (OutKast) and Reasonable Doubt (Jay Z) all dropped in 1996.

While Iverson’s rookie year was an introduction for most to what a professional athlete who loves hip hop culture looks like, he was still on a team that only won 22 games. Also, in the middle of the Michael Jordan era, everything else can seem small. It was not until the second MJ retirement and the development of a winning organization did attention turn to Iverson and his different approach to everything.

By 1999, the Sixers were a playoff team with a credible coach, Larry Brown. At this point, Iverson is on a national stage and stays there for the next ten years. He ultimately becomes league MVP in 2001 and steps over the Cavs coach later that season in the NBA Finals.

However, even though Iverson’s star is rising, his hip hop style becomes an issue for owners and NBA commissioner David Stern. In 2005, the NBA instituted a league wide dress code which basically ruled out everything in Iverson’s closet. The impact Iverson had on NBA style was seen a threat to the brand and profitably of the NBA. Even though his talent and leave it on the floor mentality was selling out arenas around the country.

After 2005, Iverson did not win much as a member of the Nuggets, Pistons, Grizzlies and one final stint with the Sixers. However, his legacy remained intact. Current NBA superstars like Stephen Curry and LeBron James all look to Iverson as a reason to play as hard as you can each game. Iverson’s willingness to express himself make it easy for Melo, KD and Russ to openly express their love for hip hop music and culture. This is something that MJ, Scottie or Chuck could never relate to.

The induction of Allen Iverson into the Basketball Hall of Fame equates to the induction of hip hop into the hall. Cant wait for his speech.

Speaking of Jordan…

 

 

Love & Hip Hop: Relevant Edition

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I admit it, I’m a fan of ratchet reality. The first step in fixing a problem is admitting you have one. I am well aware of the drama and negative images that ratchet reality displays. But its just so damn entertaining!!!

Lately though, the plot lines and drama have become a little monotonous. The champagne throwing, hair pulling, parking lot fighting and unfaithful men/women in relationships can only stimulate my college educated mind for so long. The best cure for this fading reality show formula is to put people in these shows who are actually relevant.

The Love & Hip Hop: Relevant Edition (LHHRE) cast should include:

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 20: Beyonce (L) and Jay-Z attend the New Jersey Nets vs New York Knicks game at Madison Square Garden on February 20, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by James Devaney/FilmMagic)
(Photo by James Devaney/FilmMagic)

Jay Z & Beyonce: The most accomplished married couple in the history of hip hop should definitely be cast in the most relevant edition of ratchet reality. Cameras will follow around Jay and Bey as they sit at home and watch awards shows they are too good to attend. Also as we get a sneak peak into their home life, we get to find out how Blue Ivy really feels about the fact that her hair has never been combed. Finally, we get to see the conflict between Jay and Bey as Memphis Bleek spends one too many nights sleeping on the couch. Bleek tries to make it up to the Carters by making his famous Memphis meatloaf and babysitting Blue Ivy as Jay and Bey dance on a random beach.

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Drake: The hottest artist in the industry lets us follow him around as his hotline bling’s and he coats his bread with truffle butter. Drake’s main story line will include his new goal of trying to bench press more than Serena Williams. Their relationship takes a turn for the worst when Serena catches Drake working out with Ronda Rousey as Worst Behavior plays in the background. The fight that ensues between Serena and Ronda rivals that of Iron Man and the Hulk. The ground shakes and buildings collapse. Drake tries to break up the fight but ends up with a horrible spinal injury that confines him to a wheel chair (sound familiar).

Rappers Fetty Wap poses on arrival for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards on April 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. AFP PHOTO / FREDERIC J. BROWN (Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Fetty Wap: The New Jersey native with the permanent wink, lets us follow is meteoric rise in the hip hop industry. Fetty lets cast mate Beyonce help him find his Trap Queen after a lifetime of casual dating. On one of Fetty’s first blind dates (couldn’t help it) he is set up with Taylor Swift. Fetty and Swift connect instantly. Trap Luv ensues as the couple playfully argues over who’s song was number one on iTunes the longest. Unfortunately, like many ratchet reality relationships, Swift leaves Fetty when she finds out his eye has been wandering. Swift pops up unexpectedly at 1738 Trap Avenue and finds Fetty in bed with one of the girls from the Hotline Bling video.

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Dej Loaf: The female version of Big Sean rounds out our cast. Dej will let us into her remarkable ability to rap off beat and still sell records. Deja is introduced to Lil Kim by Jay Z to help her find her way in the industry as a rising female star. The relationship sours when Dej spends the night drinking Hennessy and mistakes Kim for a human size cat like alien creature. Dej is brought back to reality by being shown pictures of Kim from 1996.

(Meek Mill and Nicki Minaj did not return phone calls to join the show once they discovered Drake had already been cast)