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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.

The Derrick Rose Dilemma

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New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose and a group of friends were recently found not guilty in a highly publicized civil rape case. Rose and two friends were accused by an ex-girlfriend of Rose’s of taking advantage of her while she was intoxicated. According to court documents, the woman invited Rose over to her apartment a few weeks after Rose had ended their relationship with a text message. A few hours later Rose and his two friends arrived and engaged in sexual activity with the woman.

The woman, who chose to remain anonymous, contends that she was too intoxicated (and may have been drugged) to consent to sex with all three. In this civil trail, the woman and her attorneys were seeking $20 million in damages.

Like in many rape cases, the details and accusations are very disturbing. However, the most disturbing comments and ideology may have come from Rose himself. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, Rose’s idea of sexual consent needs to be re-examined.

This all seems a bit fishy when you consider that when asked in his deposition if he had an understanding of the word “consent,” Rose replied “No, but can you tell me?” – Complex.com

During the trial Rose defended himself by stating that the racy texts he exchanged with his ex-girlfriend confirmed sexual consent. He also believes that the woman’s sexual history confirmed sexual consent. A lot of the testimony discrediting the plaintiff  amounts to victim shaming.

Rose’s obvious ignorance when it comes to the definition of consent is scary. Also, his verbiage during the course of this civil trial makes it really hard to root for him this NBA season. Sports fans have had to wrestle with their morals a lot in the past year.

Last NFL season, football fans had to watch Greg Hardy suit up on Sundays with some horrible accusations hanging over his head. An ex-girlfriend of Hardy’s accused him of choking her, throwing her onto a couch of loaded assault rifles and threatening to kill her if she told the media about it.

After serving a lengthy NFL suspension, Hardy suited up for the Dallas Cowboys last year. Cowboys fans were torn between their love for their hometown team and their hate for the alleged actions of Hardy. Hardy’s baggage and diminished skills have him employed this season.

Another example playing out this NFL season includes New York Giants kicker Josh Brown. Brown:

Giants kicker Josh Brown admitted to physically and emotionally abusing his wife and called himself a sex-addicted “deviant” who viewed himself as “God” and his wife as “my slave”, according to entries in his own journals, emails to his wife, and a letter he wrote to friends, which were obtained by SNY – Sny.tv

The New York Giants have not commented on these discoveries from Brown’s journal. The next logical step would be to release Brown so that he can get the counseling and help he needs.

Although all three cases are very different, Rose, Hardy and Brown call into question whether or not an athletes treatment of women should affect their ability to earn such a lucrative living on a public platform. Also, as fans, how do we separate the athlete/team from the man.

In particular, Rose is in his first season playing for a Knicks team desperate to improve from last season’s 32-50 record. Rose’s ability to help a team win has never been in question (while healthy). However, each time he takes the court this season, his judgment and character will be.

 

Insulting My Intelligence, Trump v. Clinton 2016

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There is a Forbes.com article that was published today which states that 57% of the voting public are frustrated with the 2016 presidential election. Considering the social media outcry after last nights debate, that figure seems a little low.

The second presidential debate featuring Hilary “30,000 emails” Clinton and Donald “grab her by the pussy” Trump helped solidify the fact that we have never seen an election like this in history. The moderators, Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz , did their best to ask questions that voters need answers to. However, questions about universal healthcare, refugees seeking asylum from war torn countries and taxes were met with vague to nonsensical responses from both candidates.

The vague responses and lack of detailed information regarding anyone’s policy during the most recent debate made me feel like I was watching two kids refusing to confess to spilling milk on the kitchen floor.

The toughest part of all of this is realizing that Donald J. Trump is still in the running to lead the most powerful country in the world. While, he urges Americans to ban Muslims, build a wall on the border of Mexico and affectionately grab random women by the pussy.

As equally insulting as Trumps existence in this race is Clinton’s need to consistently discredit a man with no credibility. Clinton should be using her 30 years in public service to create and express policy that leads this country into the future. Most enlightened Americans would live to hear that.

However, this is America. Katy Perry, Selena Gomez and Kim K all have more followers on twitter than Trump and Clinton combined. Americans are drawn to the sensational Trump comments and sometimes can’t wait to hear what he will say next. Like waiting for the next episode of his horrendous reality show. All I ask is that the next debate does not devolve into an episode of the Maury Povich show and that Americns can get a better idea of what each of these candidates can do to lead this country effectively.

Iverson Brings Hip Hop to the Hall

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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…

 

 

Bad NBA contract alert

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The Memphis Grizzlies have signed point guard Mike Conley Jr. to a five year, $45 million dollar contract extension. Although Conley is averaging 15 points, 8 assists and 4 steals per game, his overall performance since being drafted 4th overall in 2007 has been disappointing. Last season Conley averaged 12 points and 5 assists a game. His lack of size and moderate speed make him a liability on defense. Conley is now making top ten point guard money, and may not be good enough to crack the top 20 as the season progresses.

Phoenix Suns swing-man Jared Dudley and Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford also signed contract extensions this week. Dudley signed a five year, $23 million extension and Horford signed a five year $60 million extension. Dudley does a great job of hustling and knocking down threes for the Suns and has worked hard to improve his defense. Horford is one of the best centers in the league. His size and skill help the Atlanta Hawks dominate their eastern conference competition.

King James Takes His Crown to South Beach

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Cleveland Cavaliers free agent forward LeBron James has decided to play with the Miami Heat next season. James says his heart remains in the Cleveland area and noted how much he appreciated the love and support they showed him for seven years. James also mentioned that is was time for a change and that the opportunity to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh is a great one. The opportunity to win a championship with two other All-Star talents is something that was worth more than the extra money James could have received if he stayed with the Cavs.

James broke the news on ESPN during his hour-long special titled, “The Decision”. Leading up to the show, ESPN Insider Chris Broussard reported that most of his sources had James joining the Heat. The show also brought James a lot of criticism regarding the attention he was seeking by drawing out his decision and making it into a dramatic movie.

When James joins Bosh and Wade in Miami, his scoring and overall dominance will have to take a hit to keep the other stars happy. The max contracts that the all three demand will make it difficult for the organization to fill the Heat roster with capable NBA players. However, the Miami Heat will be the super-team of the NBA. James feels he, Bosh and Wade’s talents could lift each other up and eventually lead them to multiple championships.

The verdict is still out on whether or not the Heat will be championship contenders this upcoming season. The mental toughness of James and Bosh in long and tough playoff series is still up in the air. However, what we all should do is applaud James’ commitment to winning which obviously out weighed his desire to “get paid”. Also, James never compared himself to Kobe Bryant or Micheal Jordan, we did that. James joining the Heat is a reflection on his commitment to winning, which is something we can use to compare him to MJ and Kobe.

As an NBA fan, I am excited to see what the three All-Stars can do. As a die-hard Knicks fan, I AM UPPPPP-SETTTT!!!!

Kobe Bryant Haters

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On June 17th Kobe Bryant won his fifth NBA championship ring by leading the Los Angeles Lakers to an 89 – 73 game seven victory over the Boston Celtics. With his fifth championship, discussions have started about Kobe’s place in basketball and Laker history. Does this championship make Kobe a greater Laker than Earvin “Magic” Johnson? Does this championship put Kobe one ring away from being as good as Michael Jordan? These questions have many answers that can be supported by statistics, history, and highlight reels, however there are a group of people who choose to ignore all the evidence and on court history. These people are called Kobe Haters.

Kobe Haters are individuals who possess an enormous amount of disdain for No. 24. Some hate Kobe because of his shoot first mentality. Some hate Kobe because of his arrogance and the childish attitude that broke up a Laker dynasty, and some hate Kobe for what happened in Colorado.

The biggest reason people seem to hate Kobe Bryant is because of the similarities to the movements and mannerisms of Michael Jordan. Ever since Kobe entered the NBA in 1996 Kobe haters have scolded him for trying to be like Mike. However, since Micheal Jordan has retired Kobe Bryant has been the best basketball player on the planet.

The post-Jordan NBA was hungry for another fierce competitor with an immeasurable will to win. The stand outs of the post-Jordan NBA were champions like the quiet Tim Duncan and the jovial Shaquille O’Neal. Although Kobe and Shaq won championships together, Shaq was the dominant force in their three peat from 2000 – 2002. In 2004, when Kobe attempted to lead the Lakers to another championship against the Detroit Pistons, his teammates did not follow. The team full of veterans led by Shaq and coaching great, Phil Jackson, were not happy with the “selfish” actions of the young star.

After the 2004 finals, Kobe haters all let out a collective “I told you so”. The following season, Kobe and the Lakers did not qualify for the playoffs, and spent the next two seasons being eliminated in the first round. However, what Kobe haters do not realize is that during this down time, Kobe was humbled by his team’s failure. In 2006, Kobe was forced to watch his old teammate/rival, Shaq, win a fourth championship with an up and coming (humble) superstar shooting guard in Dwyane Wade. The early playoff exits and off court troubles led to a Kobe transformation.

During the 2007-08 season, Kobe’s game changed. He still remained the main scorer for the Lakers, but was passing the ball more, and encouraging his teammates to contribute more. This new attitude, plus a new bag of offensive tricks Kobe picked up in the off-season, led the Lakers into the finals against the Celtics.

During the finals, the NBA and the fans finally got to see the competitive fire that made MJ so popular, in Kobe Bryant. Although the Lakers lost, Kobe’s passion was on full display with no sound bites from Shaq to drown it out.

Kobe Bryant has a will to win that is unmatched in pro sports. Even though Kobe is on the wrong side of 30, he approaches every season with a new tool to take the stress off of a body that has millions of basketball miles on it. Most importantly Kobe is on a team full of (young) veterans that now follow his lead.

So Kobe haters, stop your hating and appreciate a quality of basketball we may never see again.