Editorial

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)

Is “The Thirst” making dating more difficult?

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Whenever a guy or girl is into someone, is that considered being “thirsty”? When a guy calls a girl instead of texting her, is that considered being “thirsty”? When a girl says good morning to a guy, is that considered being “thirsty”?

Being thirsty has transformed from a term used to indicate a lack of hydration to a measuring stick determining how much someone wants something or someone. The Urban Dictionary defines thirst as desperately wanting something or someone “really bad”. We all know that desperation is not an attractive quality, but where do we draw the line between thirst and simply trying to get to know someone?

A lot of younger women look at men who try really hard to get and keep their attention as thirsty. But isn’t that how the process is supposed to begin? Some ladies are so into this whole thirst thing that holding the door open for them or stopping your car when they are crossing the street is an indication of thirst. Also liking Facebook photos that they posted for everyone they accepted as a friend to see can also be considered a sign of thirst.

Men measure thirst by keeping track of how far a woman is willing to go for us while we sit back and enjoy the show. A thirsty woman might take two trains, a bus and ferry to come see a man every other day while the he never moves away from his XBOX. A man may detect thirst in a woman who goes out of her way to be where he hangs out. Places like the weight room in a gym while she’s never lifted anything that weighs more than a makeup case or outside of a journalism classroom while she’s a math major. The thirst men detect is a lot easier to explain  than the thirst a woman sees. In any instance of thirst, a man knows he is getting all this attention without reciprocating an ounce of it.

The rate at which a lot of younger women call out thirst is alarming. At times it seems as if they do not want a man to do anything to show they are interested. The worse part  is that a woman might display a glimmer of interest and force a man to have a Marvin’s Room moment.   The thirst should only apply if the woman expresses her disinterest in the thirsty young man. In that context the thirsty man becomes a stalker and borderline sex offender.

The moral of the story is to restrict your instant labeling of interest as thirst. And if you’ve got an admirer out there that wont take no for an answer, don’t go get him/her some water, call the police.

How Should We Remember Whitney Houston?

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Yesterday the Associated Press reported the tragic death of R&B/Pop star Whitney Houston. Houston was only 48 years old and the cause of her seemingly untimely death has yet to be determined. While her body of work and overall talent has never been questioned, Houston ran into some personal problems that included a tumultuous marriage to R&B singer Bobby Brown and a struggle with addiction that was well documented in the early 2000s.

One of the early signs of Houston’s decline was in 2000 when her mentor Clive Davis was being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Houston was scheduled to perform but failed to show up. Another low point for Houston came when she was fired from a scheduled Academy Awards performance in 2000. Then came the ABC Diane Sawyer when she admitted to some substance abuse but proclaimed that “crack is wack”.

Many Houston fans blamed her substance abuse and decline on her over the top husband and believed that the church girl from Newark had been corrupted.

While the emphasis this weekend has been placed on Houston’s accomplishments and the inspiration she is some of the most successful singers out right now, it is impossible to ignore the personal turmoil she experienced. The blind eye we are turning to her tough times this weekend is probably the blind eye we turned to her troubles as they were developing. All too often industry heads are more concerned with the product and not the person. Which is why it is important that we focus on the whole person this weekend.

Even though Houston was an international superstar she was also a human with flaws like all of us. So while we play her music and honor her at the Grammy’s tonight let’s remember that she was no different than any of us and we ever go through any of same trials that there someone around to make we do not fall too far.