Monday, February 28, 2011

Dear Black History Month


Today's the 28th of February, which only means one thing: Spring Break!!! No... Sadly, the end of February evokes one of my favorite times: your end, Black History Month. I know you're wondering: 'What's wrong with this fool?' and 'Why would he want me to end?'. Just consider this, BHM. At the beginning of the month, you were the number 3 Trending Topic on Twitter (#blackhistorymonth). Today, you were nowhere to be found in the top ten, and after extensive Googling, I found you were somewhere among the 50s. Now, that's not to say that Twitter's fickle, ever-changing palate is indicative of the direction that your celebration is taking. Yet, one can't help but think that after, let's say Valentine's Day, the amount of attention that's paid to you decreases exponentially.

BHM, the reason I find you so lame is because, quite frankly, I don't believe we need you. In my 22 years on this planet, I've been witness to year after year of school productions, TV specials, random periodicals, store promotions, and now even sneakers all 'commemorating' your legacy. Since when has the recognition of a race's accomplishments in western world come standard Nike-trademarked footwear? It's even funnier that those sneakers did come out, considering the stereotype about black people and kicks. I'm surprised there isn't a at this point, with how much of a ploy you've become.

I think you've become a platform for everyone to slop on an extra helping of ethnocentric semantics over a plate of already-known facts. Seriously, BHM. Do we need you to remind us of our accomplishments? Shouldn't we lament these facts and pride points and people every day? Why take the shortest month, add your name to it, and for 28 16 (prorated for bad memory, All-Star Weekend and Valentine,s Day) days have everyone piously pledge allegiance to 'Blackness', when we all know on March 1st, everything is going straight back to normal. I realize that's a very cynical view, but with all of these fools quoting the same lines from the 'I Have a Dream' speech (the Letter from the Birmingham Jail was better, anyway), I can't help but give you the side-eye.

BHM, you've given us a pass to be all about peace and black love and Afrocentricity for a month, without realizing that the people we celebrate today struggled 365 days, 24 hours and 7 days a week... AND they didn't have you to rile them up every 11 months. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and the 3 other black historical figures my grade school history books talked about didn't do all that good stuff (along with a lot of bad; check MLK's rap sheet, seriously) because they knew they'd have a month of people quoting them and talking about them. They did it so that people could advance without the same fight. They didn't want you to be a celebratory 'month'. They wanted black history in the everyday little things, not just for a month. That's what King was talking about in the 'I Have a Dream' speech: his kids playing in the front yard, not a military coup or weeklong sit-in where everyone is singing 'Wade in the Water', donning dashikis and eating bean pies.

BHM, I won't sit here and say I'm on the frontlines in Libya dodging bullets for freedom, or in court still trying to litigate on Sean Bell's behalf, but I surely am trying to make something of myself. Your celebration shouldn't be a catalyst for our awareness and recognition of the 'struggle'. It should be a high point, if anything. We should be striving to make those legacies we hear about worth something every day. That's why I'm happy you're over. Now, we can get back to work. Now, we don't have your shadow over us to make EVERYTHING black. I can disagree with my black brethren without getting the 'self-hating black man' speech. We can just drop the 'month' and get down to making #blackhistory...

Kanye West & Mos Def - Blue Note Jazz Club Freestyle


Kanye West & Mos Def - Blue Note Jazz Club Freestyle

No Freestyle Friday this past week. Sue me. Apparently, Kanye and Mos blessed the Blue Note Jazz Club in NYC on Saturday by crashing Lupe's show. The Robert Glasper Experiment backed them up with a soulful, acoustic Dilla beat. Kanye goes off the dome and speaks on why he hasn't begun touring yet, his ties to Illuminati and random vices that have held him back. Mos more just flexed his lyrical muscle and shouted out the crowd. All in all, that would've been a nice way to end any Saturday night. I really wish there was video footage of this, but the audio does the trick just fine. Check out some GOOD Music...

Dear Detroit Pistons

These four might as well not see the court again... No bailout needed

In the wake of this ridiculous spending and fear filled marathon, otherwise known as the trade deadline, the NBA season has picked up A LOT. Carmelo finally did what everyone knew he was going to do, Deron Williams was burned at the stake by the Mormons Jazz, and Jeff Green is now that kid in your neighborhood that moved away. Not even Baron Davis or Mo Williams were safe. To say it was a panicked trade deadline would be tame. It's funny that the team that stayed pat is still worse off that most squads.

If it isn't closing public schools, or boasting in car commercials, it's keeping your team the way it was at the beginning of the season, allowing what was a respectable franchise last decade to turn into a laughingstock. Detroit, for the past four years, I don't think I've seen a team fall so far from grace. You've been in the middle of 'rebuilding' since 2008 when you shipped out Chauncey Billups for Allen 'Turkey' Iverson (double entendre, don't even ask me how). Rodney Stuckey has been decent at best, Tayshaun Prince has been little more than the big fish in a small, moldy pond and long gone are the days when two men named Wallace were the pillars of the Motor City. That said, you've seen better days, but none worse than last Friday when half of your team staged a 'player protest'.

What's funny about the protest is that between Tracy McGrady, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, and Chris Wilcox none of these guys have played extensively enough or well enough to warrant any loyalty. Your team has tried to commit to a tenet of keeping around veterans, when it's clear that these players couldn't hack it if they had arms made of axes. Sure McGrady's had a few good games, but what else can you expect from a former scoring champ? The Ben Gordon experiment has proven that combo guards don't work in the Motor City, and Charlie Villanueva has barely showed flashes of brilliance, mostly in meaningless games. To put it shortly, your rebuilding process has NOT gone well.

Ironically, some good has come out of your laconic season. Austin Daye is proving that he wasn't just a no-name WCC player with a highlight tape and Greg Monroe is playing incredibly, making double-doubles look easy. If anyone is worth keeping, it's those two guys. Will Bynum? Expendable. DaJuan Summers? He peaked at Georgetown. Jason Maxiell? He's the poor man's Milsap with no jumper. The rest aren't worth a line. Except for one other person: your coach, John Kuester. Kuester has proven that trying to turn a bunch of former somebodies into 20 minute per game rotation players will NOT work. He's completely mismanaged your team and you know it. Joe Dumars might as well coach this team himself. I'm sure he could help what good pieces you do have grow some cojones before the rest of the East becomes a whirlpool of talent again.

The trade deadline came and went, and you guys stayed pat with a mediocre team. Even though the CBA is hanging by a thread, Detroit, you still have a chance to bring this team back to relevance. A) You need to drop John Kuester immediately. Everything about that man screams pushover in the locker room and it's obvious with how erratically you play on the court. B) Get rid of the old, dead weight. That includes Hamilton, T-Mac, Prince and Wilcox. You can't start rebuilding for the next dynasty if you have leftovers from the first one. C) Make sure you keep Austin Daye and Greg Monroe. Those two look like a dynamic duo in the making, just waiting for Austin Rivers a great point guard to take the reigns. No, it won't be easy. No, it won't be quick. But it's better than believing you can recreate another Bad Boys replica with a bunch of Grumpy Old Men, especially ones that call sitting out of practice for a day 'protest'. Long live the car industry, because basketball isn't happening for a while...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Cool Kids - Bundle Up


The Cool Kids - Bundle Up

I guess February and March are when every hip-hop artist on the planet plans on releasing all of their music. I'm not complaining though. Fresh off their release from their previous record contract, and news that they'd FINALLY be releasing 'When Fish Ride Bicycles' on Mountain Dew's Green Label Sound imprint, Chuck and Mikey let this loosie go. All you Cool Kids fans will be happy that it falls right in line with their trademark sound, complete with sub-woofer blowout-level bass and minimal snares. Of course the Midwest duo brings the lyrics, too, telling everyone to bundle up for what's looking like a cold (good cold) Cool Kids album. All in all, if you like the Cool Kids, you'll be bumping this all the way into the summer. Check Chuck and Mikey's latest offering...

Outasight - It's Like That (prod. Cook Classics)


Outasight - It's Like That (prod. Cook Classics)

For someone who doesn't classify himself as a 'rapper', Outasight does a really good job of rapping. Give the man a good beat, and he'll rip it 9 for 10. That's exactly what he does here over this Cook Classics-produced instrumental. 'It's Like That' is a jumpy riff-raff cut where Mr. Andrews thumbs his nose at his naysayers, the people who've left him by the wayside and his struggles to find balance between being an artist and an 'actual person'. Altogether it's a pretty endearing track to bump. Clearly Outasight does what he wants, and it's like that. Check the track out...

Raekwon - Molasses (ft. Ghostface Killah & Rick Ross)


Raekwon - Molasses (ft. Ghostface Killah & Rick Ross)

What happens when you mix two of the greats of drug raps with whom many consider the best rapper out right now? Molasses... Yes, that's right. The Chef, The Bawse and The Wallabee Champ do some heavy lifting on this midtempo, horn-laced riff, and it seems like each is trying to outdo the other. Can you really ask for much more on a hip-hop song? If this, and the previous leak 'Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang' are any indication of where the Chef's head is at, then the album should be beyond pifftastic. Can you feel the good music just building up? *sets alarms for March 8th*

Neighborhood Newsletter (2/23)

Pretty good advice, if you ask me...

1 in 4 US Counties Report More Deaths than Births

The Six-Legged Meat of the Future

Where Have The Good Men Gone?

Solar Storms Could Produce 'Global Katrina'

Obama Threatens to Veto Just Approved $61B House Spending Cut Vote

Walmart Suffering Biggest-Ever Slump

How 'Washington' Became America's 'Blackest Name'

Planet Could Be 'Unrecognizable' in 40 Years

Shocking Photos and Video from Libya (NSFW!!!)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Greetings From: Detroit, MI

Robocop's coming back to Detroit. Check the story here

via CNN Money:
In an effort to close a yawning budget deficit, Michigan has approved a proposal to drastically shrink Detroit's troubled school system over the next few years.

The plan calls for the closure of 70 schools, which would cut the number of schools in the district in half by 2014, leaving only 72 public schools in Detroit. The closures would be on top of the 59 that were shuttered last year. As a result, high school class sizes would jump to 60 students each over the next few years.

The goal is to eliminate the school system's current $327 million budget deficit, according to the plan's author, Robert Bobb, who was named emergency financial manager of the 87,000-student Detroit Public Schools in 2009.
Hey friends!!! It's another edition of 'Greetings From'. This time we're hailing from Detroit, Michigan where it's apparent that people are wayyyyyyyyy too obsessed with the city's regal past than what's shaping up to be an extremely bleak future. In the wake of a massive budget deficit with the auto industry still struggling to get back on its feet after numerous government bailouts, Detroit is set to close half of its public high schools. That is in stark contrast to a $50,000 bid to erect a statue of none other than Robocop in downtown Detroit. Now, I love Robocop just as much as the next sci-fi fan, but where does this fit into the budget that funding for schools doesn't?

My beef with the typical American city's mindset, is that rather than use funds to educate young people so we can have a future generation of thinkers, governments are quick to halt spending. Governments would rather cut spending under the guise of 'saving' and turn a blind eye to frivolities than use money on things that improve cities like infrastructure, education and innovation. The sad part is, that Detroit is an exact microcosm of the economic reality of the United States as a whole. If one wants to figure out the US's budget problem, they need look no further than Detroit and how it staked its financial well-being on outmoded technologies, irresponsible borrowing and sports teams. You couldn't pay me to live in Detroit, and now that Robocop is going to be one of their main attractions, I'm sensing a future even more depressing than the one in the movie. No worries, though. [sarcasm]I'm sure those Eminem commercials will boost the economy...[/sarcasm]

Lupe Fiasco - All Black Everything

March 8th!! Have you pre-ordered yet?

Lupe Fiasco - All Black Everything

There's something to be said about when a rapper makes what would be called a 'deep' track. Whereas most 'conscious rap' gets compartmentalized because it talks about the same things with the same condescending, 'I hate you n*ggas!' mentality, Lupe tends to not get boring. He finds new and innovative ways to bring light to the ills of the world, and it's most evident in the concepts of his tracks. Lupe called this one of the best tracks he's ever penned, with good reason. 'All Black Everything' is a song that speaks on its namesake, recounting the fallacies, inconsistencies and little tidbits of misconstrued logic that pervade our understanding of Black history. That it's hitting the interwebs in the middle of Black History Month is perfect timing, and Lupe seems to drop more historical gems per bar than most of this year's XXL Freshmen. Whether you love or hate Wasalu, you can't debate that the man's got a good head on his shoulders. Check the rhymes...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Crisis in Egypt

Source:http://www.onlineclasses.netEgyptian Revolution
Click on the graphic to

What's this? Another infographic? Yes indeed, friends. More infographics than you can shake a leg at today. Excuse the ridiculous size of this one (HTML and I are sworn enemies today), but pay close attention to what it's dealing with. The political crisis in Egypt has taken the world by storm by juxtaposing the political and economic ideologies of the West with the religious cultural shift going on in Middle Eastern countries as of late. The above infographic is not only a timeline of the conflict in Egypt, but also an analysis of Mubarak's tenure as the President of Egypt. While this graphic cannot display every minute detail of the crisis, it's helpful to get a generalized view of the situation. Lord knows this is the most objective information that most Americans will ever get on the situation...

The Political Reach of Sarah Palin

Source: Online CollegesOnline Colleges - Sarah Palin

One of the best things to come out of this 'social media era' is the rise of celebrities born of this era. One such 'celebrity' (clearly I'm using the term loosely) is the probable Republican candidate for the 2012 Presidential Election, Sarah Palin. Now, we won't get into how much I loathe that woman, or hope she would fall into an Alaska-sized ravine of broken glass and AIDS needles. That would be profane and distasteful. Instead, we're going to take an objective look at the political reach of Ms. Palin, how she's gotten that reach, and who is included in that reach. The above infographic gives a history of Palin's life, who she's endorsed politically, and even her most used words. I can admit, I didn't even know some of these things about her. If you need some fodder for your budding Sarah Palin hatred complex, look no further...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Real Life Mario Kart

I've been waiting for this since my Nintendo 64 broke in 2001. Mario Kart is an all-time great game and a personal favorite of mine simply because of how addicting and how extensive of a game it is. Videographer Freddie Wong decided to take his video game addiction a step further and make a real-life version of Mario Kart, complete with those pesky turtle shells, the stars, speed arrows and that annoying ghost that would take forever to put you back on the track after you were knocked off. Thanks to some good video editing and CGI, it's actually a pretty nice video. Now if only we could get the same thing going for Sonic the Hedgehog... *dream clouds appear*

Freestyle Friday (2/18)

Happy Friday, people! Whoever and wherever you are, I'm sure some ciphers will start your day off right, and we've got a few good ones today. The first one is by the Ohio representer Stalley on Toca Tuesdays. After dropping his 'Intelligent Trunk Music' mixtape last week, he swung by Tony Touch's studio and did a quick 2-minute verse with some nice background vocals. The second one is from none other than the Money Making Jam Boys, also on Tony Toca's show. The cipher is over 8 minutes long, with all 5 of the Philly rap collective spitting some vicious writtens over Big L instrumentals in remembrance of Harlem's Problem Child. If you didn't get their mixtape, you've loafed in the worst way. The third freestyle is by Lupe over 'H.A.M.' on Tim Westwood's radio show. I'm not sold on the beat for H.A.M., but somehow Lupe does wonders with it, crafting the most intricate of rhymes off the dome. It wasn't nearly his best, but the fact that he did a true 'freestyle' makes it impressive. Check out all three ciphers and keep it locked to Dear Whoever...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jadakiss - Lil' Bruh


Jadakiss - Lil' Bruh

One of the things I notice about hip-hop is the lack of a connect between the older generation and the younger generation. While tweeners who've jumped into the game at the right time might be able to bridge that divide, 'old-heads' (who ironically, I've grown up with) have mostly kept to themselves. That said, a freestyle like this from Al-Quaeda Jada does wonders. Jada goes over N.E.R.D.'s 'God Bless us All,' waxing prophetic to an imaginary (or real... anybody know Jason's family?) little brother about the pitfals of not only the game, but life in general. I love hearing rappers drop gems, and Jadakiss is no different on this freestyle. Check the rhymes and make sure you're taking notes when Uncle Jada talks...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (2/16)

No caption needed.

Our Post-Materialist Economy

NASA Telescope Reveals New Planet in Solar System, Tyche

U.S. Debt now equals total U.S. economy

Wal-Mart Fires 4 Employees Who Disarmed Gunman

2020: Are We Only 9 Years Away from an Artificial Human Brain?

Imagine Playing Monopoly With No Money

Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war

The US bank and the secret plan to destroy WikiLeaks

Huge Meteor Misses East Coast

Food prices at dangerous levels, says World Bank

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Singing Telegram: Big L - I Don't Understand It


Happy Tuesday, people!! Yesterday was a day of love by most accounts, and I love hip-hop, so today's Singing Telegram is a song that applies just as much today as it did in 1995 when it appeared on Big L's 'Lifestylez ov da Poor and Dangerous'. 'I Don't Understand It' is a tribute to the MC's in the game that switch up their styles in the hopes of a greater paycheck, and/or profess to be the hoodedest of rappers.

That said, L was ahead of his time in writing this. He was in the midst of a changing of the guards in hip-hop. The Golden Era of hip-hop was slowly hitting it's peak, the South hadn't taken over as yet and the Shiny-Suit era was about to take flight. L regaled his hip-hop compatriots to stay true to what they knew. That's not to say he was against experimentation or evolving with time. In Big L's two albums (one posthumous), the listener sees the same hunger and ravenous rhymes, all while getting better. L said it himself: "I'm older and smarter, this is me at my best."

It's a shame that today, rather than listening to L's 3rd or 4th album, we're mourning the death of Lamont Coleman. Hip-hop heads will list L as a GOAT, but the mainstream might never laud his greatness adequately (listen to Hot 97's Throwback at Noon and tell me if you've ever heard a Big L track). That said, as a hip-hop fan, it's impossible to not see the Harlem native for what he was: an amazing MC. That L could write a song that holds true and stands the test of time is a testament to that. Rest in peace to Harlem's Problem Child...

Dear Carmelo Anthony

God help the team that gets you...

For the past month, there are a few topics that have been beaten to death and cremated in the sports world. But one stands above them all, Carmelo. The continued drama of where you'll end up is starting to put me to sleep. Every time you turn around, there's a new rumor. 2 weeks ago it was the Nets, this week it could've been the Knicks, and now it's the Lakers. What gives? I feel like you should say something to clear this up, especially since your team isn't really backing you up. I suppose that's what happens when the spotlight is on you... You clam up.

I can't help but be reminded of all of the times you choked under pressure, or failed to show up. Your teams have always been good, and you've been considered a superstar, but this year it seems like you're not even in the game. Earlier in the season, with Chauncey Billups hobbled by a broken wrist, the Nuggets seemed flat. Although you were able to get to a record of 31-25 coming into the All-Star Break, that's only good enough for 4th in the Northwest Division and 8th in the West. Okay, so the West is stacked... So what? Aren't you a superstar?

It pains me to see all of this speculation of you making the move to New York because teaming up with Stoudemire might screw both of you up. It would be the joining of two unstoppable but unimportant forces in the NBA. Both you and A'Mare are defensive liabilities. You never guard the best player on the other team, much less make defensive plays when your team needs it (see: Paul Pierce in NY). When Kobe comes to town, why's Aaron Afflalo guarding him? When you guys take a trip to Miami, should Gary Forbes be tasked with guarding LeBron? These are questions that've plagued you through your career, even with the Playoff runs and your development of a masterful offensive game.

Speaking of offense, you and A'Mare are considered two of the best offensive players in the league, but never seem to score when it matters. A week or so ago, you scored an NBA season high of 50 against the Rockets, which is incredible if you completely ignore the fact that you lost! You managed to drop 50 points and lose, Melo. Come on, son. You didn't even have any assists. That, oh Brooklyn native, is the definition of a meaningless scorer. Yes, you came out and dropped 42 2 games later in a win, but you weren't even in the game to hit the game winner, having fouled out. The superstar doesn't do that. The superstar is the guy everyone is scared of with the game on the line. I certainly wouldn't be afraid of you if I were another NBA defender. It just goes to show you that no matter how good of a player you are, if you don't have that x-factor, that umph, that extra push, it doesn't matter.

Melo, you probably will end up a Knick, if not by the end of the week then by the end of July (*crosses fingers for CBA revision*). While it's exciting from a fantastical standpoint, basketball wise, it will be business as usual for you. Yet no one talks about that. The media is hyped up in the formation of another multiple-headed monster in the league, and rightfully so. It will probably be that same media that crucifies you if and/or when you and A'Mare choke inevitably. It's okay though. You can always take solace that you're from Brooklyn. No one can take where you came from away from you. Only YOU can destroy your own legacy, though. Hopefully you don't bring the Knicks down with you too...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dear Valentine's Day

I couldn't resist putting this flick up!

So, before you sit there and say to yourself, 'Sheesh, here's another heartbroken, bitter tirade against me by some hopeless romantic without someone to spend my day with,' you should know this, Valentine's Day: Yes, I am a hopeless romantic. Yes, my heart's been broken more times than I can count. Yes, I am bitter. However, V-Day, there is no hate coming from my side this year.

Eros, or erotic love as we know it, has made you into a day for lovers, and that concept has been eaten alive by the media, card companies and by the saps good people who believe yours is the day of love. Yet, I've come up with a rebuttal for your tantalizing hold on our hearts, Valentine's Day: When your not in love with someone else, it's time to love yourself. That said, I've prepared a list of things that make life worth loving. Rather than pine over lost loves and recount the 'what-ifs' constantly circling my mind, your day will be spent doing and experiencing self love (get all the masturbation jokes out now.. *waits*) and the beauty of remembering that oneself is enough. On your day I will:

- Be listening to the most ignorant, asinine, non-erotic music known to man. Whether Waka Flaka Flame, Gucci, Wayne, 50, Old Jay-Z, Big L, Linkin Park (#shoutout to Hybrid Theory for being my high school soundtrack), The LOX (not D-Block), Cam'Ron and Dip Set. Not only will that be some good old fashioned n*ggadry floating in the air, any thoughts of romance will be vanquished by that of guns, money and utter testosterone. V-Day, I don't need your R&B playlist to have a good day.

- Be wearing a neutral color. There are two types of people during your day: The saps great people who are decked out in red and whatever regalia of your day, and the Debbie Downers rocking black as a 'protest' to your rosy air. Neutral colors will give off the atmosphere of a regular day, not one marked by foolish affections. Rather than fall victim to either love or hatred of you, it's better to stay in the middle.

- Do inordinate amounts of homework, job searching, and (hopefully) blogging. Maybe I'll even work out. Anything.. Something that'll benefit me. One of the things that we abandon while searching for 'that one' and running around like decapitated lovebirds is an appreciation for getting things done. People use you as an excuse to take the day off 'in the name of love'. Valentine's Day, you're a Monday! As far as I'm concerned, it should be business as usual and will stay that way.

- Hang with the people that will always love me: my friends. People get so caught up in you, and being 'boo'ed up' that they forget they have friends... Friends that share stories and ideas, and have smart conversations about stupid things, and insult you mercilessly, and make those 'single life' moments all the more memorable. Who needs a Valentine for your day, when you've got friends?

- Get a good night's sleep. One thing I always notice on February 15th is how tired everyone is. Whether from an evening full of 'activities', to an all-night argument, to sitting up pining, people come in to work or school looking more famished than the Israelites traveling the desert. Rather than bother myself staying up (and I'm a night-owl to the core), I'll be asleep at a reasonable hour and wake up at such an hour. That's better than living nocturnal for one night, then taking the entire week to catch up on sleep. When the lovebirds are falling asleep at the wheel or making depression-caliber financial mistakes while dozing off on the trading floor, I'll be completely coherent and ready to rock on the 15th.

Valentine's Day, it's not that I hate you or that I'm trying to distract myself from thinking about you. It's that I'd rather live and love the other 364 days of the year, than try and have a 'memorable' day with you. It's not that I wouldn't like a significant other. It's that I'd rather focus on being the best me for the day that woman walks into my life. If I'm focused on you, I'm missing out on every other day that I could be pulling out all the stops for ME, not a likeness of romance that you've injected into everyone else's head.

V-Day, I appreciate your recognition and the 'wonders' (subjective) that you've done for the expression of love worldwide. That doesn't mean I'm going to be another love-blind drone spewing my heart out all day. To boot, eschewing your idiocy will most definitely be showing some SERIOUS love to my wallet. At the end of the day, not only will I be well on the road to being the best me possible, you'll mean that much more in the event that next year I'm not spending it single. So, V-Day, I say live and let live. You do your thing, I'll do mine, and maybe we can talk in another 365...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

X-Men: First Class (2011)

Prequels always make me nervous. Not because I'm afraid the directors will fudge up the story, because they always do. Not because I don't like having to rewind my cinematic memory of the story, because that's half of the fun. Prequels suck because you have to try and envision the characters at a different state of mind, something that the casual movie fan doesn't actually think about. The prequel in the X-Men movie series, 'First Class' shows how Professor X and Magneto went from best friends to sworn enemies based on their reaction to the world's stance on mutants during the Cold War. I'm really excited to see how each character develops, especially as a young adult, and to see who else is in the movie. From the trailer, you can see Mystique, Beast and maybe Nightcrawler (I'm not sure), but the rest seems up in the air. I hope they blow this one out of the water, because X-Men has been the best comic book movie series since Spiderman went loony on us. Check the trailer...

Pusha T - My God


Pusha T - My God

Pusha deemed this leak off 'Fear of God' a classic. Does that mean it is? Absolutely not. Does that keep it from being a #dopetrack? Far from it, friends. The younger Thornton brother linked up with Hit Boy for another (yes, another) ode to cocaine wishes and dirty white b*tches. One thing I'm worried about is whether T will eventually run out of content. I know the man is the hood equivalent of a Rhodes scholar and can paint a bajillion-color picture out of white (see what I did there? Maybe I should become a coke rapper too...), but at what point do we start asking for more? ... I'm not sure either, especially when the status quo is doing just fine and has me hitting rewind. Hopefully you feel the same way. Check this out and always have the 'Fear of God' in you... *takes wordplay hat off*

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Neighborhood Newsletter (2/9)

The secret to life...

'Never Missed a Super Bowl' Guy Missed the Super Bowl

Sudan's President Certifies South's Secession

China Hoarding Rare Earth Metals

AOL Is Buying The Huffington Post

A Tour of Chernobyl as it Exists Today

Florida Man Stabbed for Being Muslim

The FBI Is Investigating Scientology for Human Trafficking

Coming Soon: Universal Flu Vaccine

Cockfighting Rooster Stabs, Kills Man

Toyota Accused of Hiding Evidence in Rollover Case

Einstein was right - honey bee collapse threatens global food security

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Dear Money Making Jam Boys


DOWNLOAD: 10.DEEP Presents THE PRESTIGE: Jam Boy Magic (Mixed by Mick Boogie & Terry Urban)


So, I haven't written an album review letter this year. The reason why is simple: EVERYTHING SUCKS right now. So much of hip-hop has been watered down into this chasm, this abyss of similarity and imitation. I would blame it on the blogging industry, but they've introduced so many good MCs that you've got to respect game. There is a drawback, though. That drawback is that there is a blueprint now. There is a signed, sealed, certified and hermetically-sealed process and 'way' of giving your music exposure that anyone can follow, given they have an inkling of talent and a grasp of the internet. Rather than an organic rise to the top, all you need is one hit again, rather than a solid body of work to catapult you to stardom.

That said, there is hope. Some rappers are breaking that mold. Whether it's Kanye completely flooding the market, CuDi falling back altogether, J. Cole being as selective as Harvard with his releases or Drake and Wayne doing incessant features, certain rappers can circumvent this huge backlog of heads trying to get into the same club. Even with them, there's an avenue that has yet to be explored in this blog era. And that, is the posse. The posse cut is damn near a lost art in hip-hop. Though I talked about their resurgence with YM, GOOD Music and Roc Nation, those are nowhere near as organic as you.

Black Thought, STS, PORN, Dice Raw and Truck North, aka the Money Making Jam Boys, (abbreviated MMJB from henceforth) you guys have singlehandedly restored my faith in the idea of the posse. The idea that there is strength in numbers holds true in street fights, capture the flag games and hip-hop. In hip-hop, though, you're only as strong as your strongest link. If one of the MCs in the group can captivate the listener, then the rest of the MCs are that much more bearable (think the Wayne or Drake verse on any Young Money record). That said, Black Thought you took the cake here. On the track 'Tear it Up', your flow was incredible. You've got to be one of the best at fitting multiple syllables in a verse, if not one of them. As the de facto 'leader' of MMJB, you did damage on the mic without being too 'in your face'. So many times, the 'best' person in a group takes up so much shine that the other group members just shrink. That wasn't the case here, though you're clearly the captain of this team.

You other four guys... What to do with you? Dice Raw, STS, Truck North and PORN I've heard of all of you at one point or another, all with Roots-affiliated projects. Because of that and Black Thought's prominence, it's difficult to single you each out. As 'protege's' of The Roots, you guys are at their artistic tree trunks. As much as this is a MMJB mixtape, Black Thought is the featured artist here. I had trouble differentiating between the four of you (see 2nd-to-last paragraph), but together you all were audio dope. I loved how you guys kept attacking lyrically. Unlike a lot of groups, there were no let-ups on this mixtape. The tracks 'Friday Night Street Fever' and 'Coming Out Hard' were probably the strongest track on the mixtape, because there was pure piffery on either side of Black Thought's verses (think the 1997 Chicago Bulls with Pip on one side and Rodman on the other). That's what the posse cut is all about: a gang of rappers all trying to outdo each other out of respect for one another. Everyone comes correct. Everyone brings their heat. There aren't throwaway verses or 'skippers' (tracks that automatically get nexted), which makes the listener want to keep listening.

Production-wise, this is about as good as a mixtape can get. In addition to the trademark acoustics that accompany any Roots-affiliated production, this mixtape was mixed by Mick Boogie and Terry Urban. That means a lot of DJ-quality rewinds, quick dialogues before abrupt introductions, and flawless sound. You guys all sounded in syncopation with the beats, not too loud or soft. Hell, it sounds like you guys were all in the same studio at the same time doing these records. In short, this mixtape sounds carefully and tastefully delivered, not e-mailed and tweeted.

The one thing I would fix about this mixtape is how many verses there were. I say that not because I'm suddenly against having to rewind my tracks (I actually take pleasure in that). It's because to the untrained or un-whetted (made that word up) ear, the only MC that most would recognize is Black Thought. You guys are all good enough rappers where you should have a track to shine. Rather than include EVERYONE on EVERY track, or 4 MCs with short verses, it would've been smart to have 5 or 6 songs that only featured two of you. It not only would've given you guys a better chance to showcase yourselves individually, but would make the listening experience a lot easier. The best songs on the mixtape were the ones with less, rather than more MCs (see 'Philadelphia Zoo'). I suppose there is no 'I' in team, but when the listener has to keep rewinding to figure out who's spitting, there's a problem.

In closing, MMJB, this was a masterful effort in the mixtape department. Rather than butcher the idea of the posse cut by getting a bunch of cats who've never worked together, you guys kept it all in the family, and it's obvious while listening. You all work well together, rap like you have some brain cells and just engage in tomfoolery on the mic. There's not much more that a rap fan can ask for... Seriously. In fact, I think I'm just going to end this letter here and go listen again. MMJB, I truly and honestly hope that this isn't the last offering you guy put up as a group, though I know individually you'll continue to thrive. Keep making money and 'Jam Boy Magic' and I guarantee I'll keep listening.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Freestyle Friday (2/4)

Dear Dear Whoever readers, I apologize. There has been a dire lack of freestyles on the blog for a few weeks. Blame either my academic obligations or my incessant job search for graduation. Even so, we've got two freestyle verses this week for your listening pleasure. The first one is by Fabolous. As he prepares to drop a new mixtape, he released this freestyle to Kanye's 'Devil in a New Dress', and RIPPED it. Fab shows us here why he gets so much play: his wordplay. If only John Jackson could put that formula together for an ALBUM, there'd be little competition, as he'd be ACTUALLY killing them. Regardless, it's a nice verse. 'The SOUL Tape' is slated to drop this month. The second freestyle is by Jim Jones, and isn't completely a freestyle. After his near-death experience in a car crash last week, Jones quickly released a 'Crash' freestyle detailing the event. The video below is not only a trailer for the upcoming video for 'Crash', but an impromptu performance of his take on Kanye's 'Runaway' (so I'm guessing Ye's beats are the standard again?). Check out both freestyles and have a happy Friday people!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The 'Skin Gun'

Jumping. Jehosephat. When we talk about 'the Future', THIS is what we are referring to: using knowledge that we've had for decades and using it to contribute to the betterment of medicine. This National Geographic video shows the 'Skin Gun', a practically brand new invention that uses healthy stem cells grafted from a healthy part of a patient's skin to 'spray paint' over damaged or burned skin. The result is a healing process that is almost less than a week elapsed. Inventions like this are exciting because they show the extent of our handle on technology, but disappoint me because this kind of innovation has definitely been around for a while. The whole 'stem cell debate' has been drawn out too long at the expense of scientific discovery and medial breakthroughs. Now that the regulations on stem cell research have loosened up a bit, I'm anxious to see where all this research goes. If we get anything comparable to the 'skin gun', then 'the Future' should be a lot brighter.

Neighborhood Newsletter (2/3)

Scientists convert skin cells to beating heart cells

WikiLeaks Nominated for Nobel

The Internet Runs Out of Spare Room This Week

14% of Americans Use Food Stamps

South Carolina scientist works to grow meat in lab

US Still Home to 11.2M Illegal Immigrants

Google Way Outspends Rivals in Lobbying

South Dakota Bill: Every Adult Must Own a Gun

Brain Scan Can Tell if You'll Quit Smoking

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dear Big Sean

Anyone ever see the movie 'Boys Don't Cry' with Hilary Swank? For those of you less cinematically-inclined readers, the film is about a non-operative transgender woman in Nebraska who takes on the persona of a man, and later gets beaten and raped. Vicious imagery aside, the title is what I have to take away. Boys don't cry. And they damn sure don't cry if they're rappers, do they? Rap is supposed to be all about machismo and being a braggadocious male. You can't show emotion in hip-hop if it isn't anger, misogyny or hopelessness! Real rappers don't cry! You can't shed a tear unless either A) your mother, B) your child, or C) one of your homies dies. The opposite, the increasing vulnerability of rappers (let's leave Drake out of this) why the above video is so huge to me, Sean.

I'll admit it, Sean. Your music, while vapid and repetitive at times, is catchy and easy to listen to. That explains why you have so many fans. I get that. What I didn't know is how ingratiated you were to your fans' whims in that video. No rapper over the past few years has been comfortable enough with the supposed masculinity that comes standard with hip-hop, to display their emotions so openly. Rappers are so focused on their egos that they forget how easily they can be destroyed. Sean, take a look at all of the rappers you've known. *waits* How many of those SOB's are either working at Safeway, trapping, or putting out their 15th mixtape to 15 downloads (14 of which were family)? How many rappers have had a hit record, only to be back in the soup kitchen months later? How many rappers have you seen here today and gone tomorrow, without a bat of an eyelash? *waits* My guess is that you lost count before I even finished the question.

Sean, the point here is that you clearly have reached a level of stardom that belies your talent, AND you haven't let it turn you into a Heartless (word to Kingdom Hearts). That you can be vulnerable with your fans shows just how much you appreciate the fame that has fallen in your lap. Regardless of your content, you're in hip-hop for the right reasons. Forget being cool! If every rapper had could show this type of emotion, I shudder to think how powerful hip-hop as a collective would be. Sean, you've made this tour of stardom your own personal party, and you can cry if you want to. Just don't go all DMX on us and... Yeah, let's not get on that either...

Lupe Fiasco - Words I Never Said (ft. Skylar Grey)


Lupe Fiasco - Words I Never Said (ft. Skylar Grey)

There's something that can be said about the idea of holding one's tongue. Sometimes it's for the best, with one's (possibly) hurtful observations being held from the right people. Other times, it's for the worst, keeping people in a lap of beautifully-veiled ignorance. In Lupe's case, it's been the latter for years. Lu's label situation has held a lot of great music back and kept him from saying a lot, hence the title of this next track off LASERS. Quite honestly, if these are the things that Lupe's held back, then imagine what the man's still got cooped up in his noggin. Check the next single and make sure you're not holding any words back today...

Raekwon - Sweep Week Freestyle

Someone tell me Rae doesn't have some of the meanest promo pics

Raekwon - Sweep Week Freestyle

When's the last time you've heard a straight shot of lyrics? No chorus, no bullshit 'swag' talking during the track, not even an intro... Just a stream of lyrical consciousness? That's right... It's been a minute. Never fear, though. Uncle Chef is here to save the day with a hefty helping of BARS over a smooth interpolation of Mary J's 'All Night Long'. In anticipation of some more new Wu on the horizon, this is exactly what my ears need: great production and lyrics to go. Rae makes a convincing case for one of the GOATs with a bunch of quotables, which I can't say about 99% of the game right now. Doesn't matter if you're an old head or just getting on the Wu. Check out what hip-hop greatness means...