Browsing: Culture

Congrats L.A. Lakers: Got Pepto For Kobe Haters

June 15th, 2009 | By

Everybody hates Kobe Bryant. Usually, I would be in this group. Since Kobe is a star, I would usually bet against him. What would’ve been the use?

Kobe Bryant is the best in the game and his fourth ring, first without Shaq, proves it. Congratulations Kobe. For all the haters, I hope you got your pepto last night. The Kobe Nausea has caused the stores shelves to run dry.

Hip Hop’s Rebirth, Nothing To Fear

June 15th, 2009 | By

In the 70’s, a new form of music took over New York City. Young men and women needed a new sound and the creative forces of their generation gave it to them. Sugar Hill Gang, Kurtis Blow, and a host of “DJ’s” carried the sound from hoods, to street corners, to clubs, and now it’s all over the world. What started as RAP, turned into the Multi-Billion dollar Hip Hop Industry.

Few Examples, Have More?

The 80’s showed the adolescence of Hip Hop. It resembled the first day of kindergarten. Everything was fresh and new and you were super excited to see what the next day held. Run DMC mixing rap with Rock n Roll, LL Cool J driving the ladies crazy, and Will Smith showing kids how to cope with everyday life.

Few examples, Have More?

The 90’s changed the game. When you started middle school, you knew the rules. Yet, you did everything to see how far you could push it. So came the birth of Gangsta Rap. The cool kids, the West Coast, basically ran the industry. Snoop’s Gin and Juice, Dre’s Let me ride, Ice Cube’s No Vaseline, and every Tupac song.

You learn a lot about yourself in middle school, just as we learned a lot about ourselves during our Gangsta Rap period. We learned the fragility of life by losing two of our biggest stars, R.I.P. Tupac and Biggie. We learned the money making ability of Hip Hop. Most importantly, we learned the power Hip Hop held over the masses.

Few Examples, Have More?

The new century brought about the bling. In high school, you did everything to fit in, that’s the Hip Hop Industry of the last 10 years. If you say you got this, I’ll say I got that. If your necklace has 50 diamonds, I’ll get 61. You think your girl is bad, I got 5 girls. A truly artificial and commercial approach to life and music.

But, as every cycle eventually does, the money bragging and one upmanship of the last decade is coming to an end. It’s replacement is not fully known yet, but we are definitely experiencing the change in the music.

The question: Will we continue the cycle and have “College Hip Hop” as the next step or will the music mirror the statistics and produce “High School Drop Out Hip Hop”?

Complicated question. I vehemently dislike the dance crazes of today. Every time I hear or see Soulja Boy, I imagine crushing his vocal box. Yet the conservative in me, the free market lover in me, can’t help but appreciate his abilities.

To take a song from the Internet, to the mainstream, and build a name and niche for yourself is worthy of praise. Whether I, as one singe person, like or dislike the finished product, I like the lesson. Before Soulja Boy was an artist, he was an entrepreneur. Before he became one of my least favorite artists, he was a young black man navigating the bumps and bruises of decision making. Before he ruined radio for me, he picked a destination and reached it.

Now, he’s worth more than a lot of artists who “sold a bunch of records and still owe dough.” Jay-Z, Imaginary Player. He is a true product of the American Dream. How can I hate on that?

Plus, how can I look past the clues to the next generation of Hip Hop. Rap started with entrepreneurs. Hip Hop started with entrepreneurs wanting to make money off the Rappers. Then the created industry took over. Rappers were no longer in control of the music they made and the music became more about the money than the art form.

With the invent of social networking, the pattern is starting to reverse itself. An artist can make the kind of music he/she wants with no outside influence. All they need is a hot beat, lyrics, and an ability to promote themselves.

I HATE to admit Soulja Boy is the spark and catalyst to this movement. Those of us who lived through the first decades of Hip Hop find this impossible to believe. We speak of Beastie Boys, Too Short, and Slick Rick and find it heartbreaking to add Soulja Boy.

I’m sure 70’s babies had squabbles with 80’s. 80’s babies had squabbles with 90’s and so forth. We don’t have to like it, but we must continue to support Hip Hop. At this stage in the game, the new genre hasn’t taken hold yet.

Will it be, “College Hip Hop”? Hip hop music that is open to new ideas, formats, and experiences. The experiment is already in progress. Kanye West and Lil Wayne creating Rap N Roll, Gospel Rap reaching into churches, and Hip Hop songs and dances gracing stage plays.

Or will it be, “High School Drop Out Hip Hop”? Hip hop music that refuses to look at itself in the mirror, so it emulates others around it. “My President’s black, My Lambo’s blue”, a love song that places a name ahead of true emotion, or beef songs because I can’t get my album to sell.

The fight for the new generation of Hip Hop is underway. Either way the wind blows, looking back at the catalyst, should bring you great hope. Self made, still in high school, big dreams, passion, and most importantly success.

Enough success, that leaders in the game are calling you out. Enough success that bloggers, like myself, take time to write about you. Enough success, that laughing at the haters comes with ease. Enough success that one ridiculous song after another, gets infinite radio play. Enough success to make true lovers of Hip Hop question the direction of the music.

Do not fear Hip Hop fans. Rejoice. Hip Hop’s constant evolution and experimentation solidifies it’s longevity and importance in America’s culture. Hip Hop’s ability to set the tread in dance, clothing, and over all style proves the power of our generations’ creativity. Hip Hop’s power to create massive followings motivates this generations ability to capture a piece of the market.

Hip Hop has made a full circle. Now the money is starting to flow back into the hands of the people that actually make the music and though the industry is mad, consumers should be happy. Creativity will make it’s way back into the music.

But we have a very important role to play. We must seek out and support the artist that are moving the music forward. The young entrepreneurs that grew up in tough conditions and made it out. The young artist desperately trying to figure out who they are, through rhyme and reason. The young sister’s forcing their way towards a true level playing field in Hip Hop.

Soulja Boy may have been the catalyst, but we can help influence the finished product. Get on Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social sites and find the music, support the artist, and have your thumbprint of the next generation of Hip Hop.

Do The Damn Thing: Howard’s Magic Surpise Cleveland

May 21st, 2009 | By

People, you know I’m the underdog lover. I go for the little dog in the fight every time. Last Night, I was happy.

The invention of Picture In Picture revolutionized the way I watch T.V. I can plant frags on Gears of War, while watching the news. I can conquer nations of Civilization, while watching the weather channel. And I love it.

Last night, it was Gears of War 2, with the Orlando vs Cleveland game on the little screen. I stopped paying attention to the game when the Cavs went up by 16. I started paying more attention to capturing the ring on King of the Hill. (Yeah, if you want it, come get it.)

Then I heard it, Orlando has it’s first lead of the game. WHAT!?!?!

How did that happen? Glad I lost, because of lag I assure you, I turned of the 360 and watched the last 9 minutes and 32 seconds of one of the best games I have ever seen.

At the 4 min 20 sec mark, Lebron James got the ball at the top of the key. He took his time and the fans in the audience began to stand. They were all expecting a King James moment. He drives to the hole and the Orlando Magic shut him down!!!!!!!!! I love it.

“Skip to my Lou”, Rafer Austin, one of my fave And1 players not scared to shot the three. Giving everything he has to never have to ride that And 1 bus again. Dwight Howard breaking the shot clock. And the undefeated, unstoppable in the playoffs Lebron James and Cleveland Cavs lost Game 1 on their home floor.

Yes, I’m taking a lil joy from the underdog winning but that’s not the main point. This playoff season has been the best in a long time. Yes, the expected teams made it, but the unexpected teams put up one hell of a fight.

Up until the very end, no one would’ve gave Orlando a shot to knock off the Celtics. No one would have expected Rookie of the Year Derek Rose to push the Celtics to a game 7 or the Yao Ming and Tracey McGrady less Houston Rockets would push the Lakers to a game 7. Kudos to Ron Artest for growing up.

There is parady and excitement in the NBA. If you only point to Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, why watch? But if at the end of the night, a three point shot from Orlando gives them game 1, I’m excited to see game 2.

I’m excited about the N.B.A. Playoffs. The stars are the underdogs that make the stars work for their status.

A Lesson Learned: Jay-Z, Decisions, and Self Growth

April 10th, 2009 | By

Wow! Where to start?

Decisions

Life is nothing more than a myriad of decisions, most with a simple yes or no answer. The person that refuses to make these decisions will find the road of life riddled with obstacles that could have been removed.

I have the funniest ways of connecting a point. Let’s take one of my favorite songs,

“You must love me” Jay-Z In my Lifetime, Vol. 1

2nd verse Lyrics

We used to fight every night
but I never would suffer
just smile my big brother’s
tryna make me tougher
As we grew fussing and fighting continued
as I plundered through ya stuff
and snuck ya clothes to school
Got intense real intense
as we got older
Never believed it would lead
to be popped in one of ya shoulda
With my rings knew you had it
’cause you took too long
as Mickey, Andy, and the girl that bought it looked on
Huffin’ and puffin’ gun in my hand
told you step outside
Hoping you said no but you hurt my pride
made our way down the steps
maybe you thought it was just a threat
or maybe ya life was just that crazy
and you was beggin’ for death
try to justify this in my young mind
but ya drillin’ it
and my ego hurt combined
drove me berzerk
Saw the devil in your eyes
high off more than weed
confused I just closed
my young eyes and squeezed
What a sound
opened my eyes just in time
to see ya stumbling to the ground
Damn what the fuck I done now
runnin’ around in a circle
thinking I’m assed out
hot gun burnin’ my waist
ran straight to Jazz’ house
Like a stranger damn I just shot my nigga
and ran off into the night as if it was not my nigga
Left the scene how could I go out that way
Still you asked to see me in the hospital ya next day

You Must Love Me

Here’s my point about making tough decisions. Both Jay-z and the brother in the story were faced with decisions. Both were forced to make decisions rapidly because they were under scrutiny of their peers. If either would back down or refuse to act, they would have faced mass criticism.

So both acted. The brother made the decision to stand his ground and Jay-z made the decision to do what the street demanded he do.

But, what did we forget?

We forgot that this was not the first time both were faced with this decision. They’ve spent years fussing and fighting but never made a life changing or relationship altering decision, until the moment the bullet left the gun.

At that moment, a permanent decision was made. Jay-Z finally realized how irrelevant all the bickering was; who cares what happened between us, your my brother. And the brother realized, if the positions were reversed, he would have done the same thing. I mean, where do you think he learned what was expected?

Sometimes, the best decisions are the one’s rapidly forced upon you. Where in a split second, you don’t overcomplicate or reason, you just answer. Most of the time, these moments feel like mistakes the instant they are made. Could you imagine if the brother had died?

But most of the time, especially if you have God leading your path, you were put in that position because a life altering, relationship changing decision had to be made and you were refusing to make it. You were stagnate and God doesn’t like it when you ask for his help, then refuse to make steps necessary to receive your blessing.

Jay-Z got lucky. There were no major ramifications for his actions. The relationship with his brother was stronger because of a rash decision.

But that’s not always the case. Sometimes those rash decisions come with hefty consequences. It all depends on how you look at it. If you are a person who never made a life altering, relationship changing decision, then you probably got a lot of those decisions ahead of you. You’ve got to see the dark clouds, before the silver lining.

If you are a person who refuses to bend on position, then it’s probably the people around you trying to get away. They are making the life altering, friendship changing decisions for you.

But, if you are the person that refuses to go to the hospital the next day, you have decided against self growth. You don’t want to deal with the consequences of your decisions. So to you I say, watch out for the speed bumps in the road. You missed the lesson learned.

———————————————————————————-

Watch For the Stupidity

Some people question my “relating life” to a song. They tell me, it’s just a song. It’s not meant to be taken with the importance you give it.

I’m beginning to think, this is the real problem with Hip Hop. We used to use song to uplift and praise. Now, if we are lucky enough to find a song with real meaning, using the lyrics to show a lesson learned is unacceptable or underappreciated.

Maybe the problem isn’t Hip Hop, maybe the problem is us.

A Win Win Situation

March 19th, 2009 | By

“I can’t help the poor if I’m one of them. So, I got rich and gave back, to me that’s the Win Win.” Jay-Z Feel My Truths, Black Album

I’m a stickler for one liners. The whole song has to be good, but the best songs always have one line that is stapled in your memory from the first time you heard it. That phrase has stuck with me since the first time I heard it.

Is only one Win enough for us? I won that fight, I lost that war T.I.

Let’s give a few scenarios:

We rail about making the rich pay higher taxes, but what is that doing directly for you?

We cry about corporate bonuses, but does that get you any closer to making the kind of money those executives make.

We yell about racism, but we do nothing about stopping the self caused destruction in our own neighborhoods.

We complain about how the government is spending money, but we continue to use credit cards and pay day loans.

When are we going to want a complete domination victory instead of excepting small wins, that in the long run have no real long term effect? Have we really gotten to the point where we are satisfied when someone else is brought down a peg or two, instead of being satisfied we have moved up a peg or two?

Do we actually win anything if you put a higher tax on oil and the price of gas goes up? Yeah, we showed that big oil company, but we also hurt the poor and under privileged trying to keep their house warm.

Create an alternative to gas, make it readily available, and then tax the oil companies. Their massive profits get cut, and the small guy has options, and the country gets a Win Win because we are no longer dependent on foreign oil.

Think about that next time you want some one successful to suffer. Who are you hurting by exuding your hate before you make a plan on first how to improve yourself?

Rhianna’s Back With Chris Brown: The Public Is Outraged

March 9th, 2009 | By

And that show’s your stupidity.

I’m sorry to be so harsh, but it’s the way it is. We are not a society that values every human life. We are giving and strong, we always want to help the victim. The aggressor is overlooked, maybe punished, but definitely overlooked. At least until it’s time to make the movie.

I talked to my niece this weekend. She was singing Chris Brown and I asked her what she thought about Chris Brown and Rhianna. She told me, “I’d take him if she didn’t want him”. So, I asked my cousin what he would do if Chris Brown hit my niece, he said nothing if Brown could hook him up with Rhianna.

I know he was joking but there are a lot of men that would answer that question the same way and be dead serious. There was a time when the men of a neighborhood would beat the crap out of a man that put his hands on a woman. Now we don’t even bring it up, unless we are talking about the woman’s choice to stay.

I have not heard one story telling about the weakness of character of Chris Brown. Not one. It is our fault, he is getting off with a plea deal and no time. We don’t care what He did or the attitude He holds, we only want to look at the victim, Rhianna.

How about this? Let’s make both of them victims. Brown is the victim because Rhianna let him hit her. If she would’ve left the first time he hit her, his career wouldn’t have been affected so much. He is also a victim of a society that teaches him “keeping your pimp hand strong” is a necessity. See how easy it is to become a victim. No matter who you are or what you did, all you need is one person to give you justification.

Now that we’ve got Chris Brown victim status, let’s start the discussion about what makes a MAN so weak he has to show his “Bravado” by beating a woman. I don’t know the answer, but I do know we need a change of focus.

Women are offered help from every direction. Well, isn’t that only natural. She got her ass beat, she needs help. Maybe the best way to help her is to offer her man some help. Like Rhianna has proven, they go back. Help her, by helping him.

We wait until men are forced into help. We don’t crucify them to the point they have no choice but to get help to fit in to society. We pay them no attention. We give them at one dirty look, then we dance to “P.I.M.P.” in the club. And you thought I was the one giving Brown justification.

Ever heard the phrase, You take one step, God will take two or God never gives you more than you can handle. O.K. We’ve taken a giant step, massive unemployment and hard times. Right on the cusp of all this hardship, we get hit with a mega news story about a man beating a woman.

Historically during difficult economic times, domestic abuse rates rise. Men lose their jobs, their ego’s are pride are hurt, and they lash out. Their significant other usually catches that blow.

I think we miss the important opportunities to help ourselves by learning from the mistakes of others. We have not given enough attention to the situation to help curve the numbers to come and that’s our fault. We shouldn’t be outraged, we should be ashamed.

Bye Bye Mr. Terrell Owens: Go Dallas Cowboys

March 9th, 2009 | By

I was mad when Jerry Jones signed T.O. I was mad when T.O. paid for Romo and Simpson’s pre-playoff trip to the Caribbean. I was livid every time a ball flew in Owens direction and he dropped it.

Now, I am celebrating. Jerry Jones signed Roy WIlliams from the Lions and got rid of Terrell Owens. He is gone.

People say, there are two kinds of people. The one’s that give you energy and the one’s that take it away. Terrell Owens took away energy. And I’m not talking about just Tony Romo, Jason Witten, or the whole Dallas Cowboy organization. He sucked the energy out of the fans.

I don’t want to see a Wide Reciever cussing out my quaterback, while he is on the field dropping balls. Don’t talk to my Tight End like that, when he catches every ball thrown in his direction. Nobody wants popcorn when we’re losing.

Nah Nah Nah Nah! Nah Nah Nah Nah! Hey Hey Hey! Goodbyeeeeeeeeeeee

Rhianna and Chris Brown: Why You Should Re-evaluate Situation

February 26th, 2009 | By

Quick story before I get to the point.

I had this friend and she liked when her boyfriend beat her. I’m not joking or making light of the situation. On more than one occasion I got into it with her significant other. I finally had to realize, that was her. It never stopped me from yelling at him though.

If she was stupid enough to let you do it, Fine. But if you aren’t Man enough to stop, then you have a serious problem. You will never convince a woman in that kind of love to leave, if she doesn’t already want to.

But you can make a dude mad enough to test you and see if he gets the same results. It works majority of the time and the dude gets to see what it’s like on the other side of the beat down. Beyond that, the situation is out of your control.

Blah! Having said that, when the news broke of Chris Brown’s alleged abuse of Rhianna, every where I looked was judgement and ridicule. Before the pictures of Rhianna were released, it was fun and games to talk about the situation. Talk show host laughing, fans criticizing, nothing but judgement.

When the pictures of Rhianna’s swollen face appear, then it’s outrage. More judgement and criticism.

We all live in glass houses. We should not be throwing stones. Not just because Jesus said, “Judge not lest ye be judged”, let’s try you miss the whole point on the conversation.

In our culture on Sex and Money, these are good conversations to have. I’m sorry it had to come at the expense of two of Hip-Hop’s up-and-coming stars, but they caused the situation. All we can do is learn from it.

A Few Lessons You Might Want To Take

We all wish for money and fame. Do we really understand the cost? Now, we are free to make mistakes with only the scrutiny of those around us. How well would you hold up if the whole world was watching?

Our Little Girls. Our precious females coming up thinking all they have to do is freak the right Musician, sports stars, or any other man with money and they will be set. Once you give control to these men, especially when you don’t have the power to match theirs: KUDOS BEYONCE, they control every thing. Why not make your own money, first.

Instead of judgement, we should all be encouraging Brown to get help. The sympathy will pour for Rhianna, I have no problem with that. But there are so many men to afraid to grow up and learn a better way to deal with women. We have a reality show about everything else, why not how to break the cycle of domestic violence that focuses on the Men. (Men being a relative term)

There is a lesson missing. Well, not so much missing as hidden by the public’s watchful eye. This will definitely cost Chris Brown. I will find it hard for him to write songs to women when they know he likes to hit females. But the majority of cowards that find comfort in beating their significant others, don’t have anything to lose. That’s why they do it.

This teaches them nothing. I’m sure they are cheering, “that’s how you handle a bitch”. I know because I’ve been around them. I’ve challenged them. I’m talking around the Thanksgiving Day Turkey.

We throw so much criticism towards Chris Brown and not the act itself. It’s O.K. to hit a female, we just didn’t expect it from Chris Brown.

I just made a promise for Lent and I’m not going to break it so soon. I personally know 6 men that beat every woman they get. I also know wonderful Men that have stepped in and offered beat downs to those same men. I have been hit by two men, one of them my brother, and both times I gave as good as I got.

And both times I pointed out the cowardice. My brother apologized and promised to never put his hands on me again, but it doesn’t stop him from putting his hands on his current girlfriend. The irony, I had to beg my apologetic brother to stop hitting the second dude that put his hands on me.

Yet, I still call him a coward every time I see the bruised face of another woman. I tell my daughter, in front of him, about the kind of man he is. She challenges him to fight every time she sees him. In addition to my annoying voice, he gets it from the face and actions of his neice. And that’s all I can do.

We need that on a massive scale. We can’t get it from Movies, songs, or any other pop culture. But we can get it from the people behind the culture. Stars are regular people, with regular problems. Learn from their mistakes.

Instead of hurling judgement, use this rectify a serious problem. While we continue to work on women and their value system, we can not allow the opportunity to pass to call out the men who see no problem in Brown’s action. The one’s that thought it was so funny before the pictures and especially the one’s who thought it was even funnier when the pictures came out.

Where is their judgement?

MTV: The Modern Day Star Trek

February 19th, 2009 | By

I am not a Trekkie. I hope I spelled that right. I have never watched Star Wars, don’t care who’s Luke’s father, but never above watching a few episodes with the Borg. Again, I hope I spelled that right.

I had a black friend in high school that was all about Star Trek. I occasionnally listen to music outside of the accepted spectrum, so I don’t judge. One day, I asked why he liked it so much. I thought it was going to be some long drawn out answer having to do with science.

To my surprise, he said it’s the greatest show for a racial integration. So, now I’m stuck wondering what he’s talking about but not really interested in hearing about Sci-Fi. I bit.

He told me each person was judged by the job they do, not their planet of origin. They all praise different Diety’s, have different moral code, and different culturual values. Yet, they manage to work together to keep the ship in the air.

Watching “G’s to Gents” on MTV yesterday, I thought about my friend, at least about what he had told me. It hit me. MTV is the modern day Star Trek.

No race, ethnicity, or sexual preference is lost on MTV. No social status, age, or preconceived notion is over-looked. Just think about the diversity of the shows.

Does it matter if the kid that want’s to make the basketball team on “Made” is black or white?

No. You want to cheer if they achieve or laugh if they fail.

Does it matter if Rev. Run is black?

No. It matters how he keeps his family together when surrounded by all our social ills.

Does it matter if the brat on “Sweet 16″ is gay or straight?

No. You just want to reach through the screen and smack their ungratful………I digress.

The point. When you are talking about real life, only the story matters. Star Trek may have been a show, but the object is to create real life situations in fantasy settings. No one cares about the race of the pilot if the spaceship is about to get crushed by a comet.

And that’s what MTV has realized. We don’t have to target a specific gender, sex, race, or anything else. We have to target problems. Every race and religion has to deal with self-identity, humility, family, money, and every thing in between. Why place any limits on who gets the message we send out?

And that’s the beauty of MTV. It’s more about the issues we all face, and less about the differences between us. We may arrive by different paths but we all wind up in the same place. Instead of a flat picture, you get 3-D and surround sound because you can look at it from so many different views. Now, that’s good T.V.

My Top 5 Shows on MTV

1. America’s Best Dance Crew—Go Beat Freaks

2. Run’s House/Daddy’s Girls

3. G’s to Gents—Who needed help more than Riff-Raff

4. Made

5. Making the Band

*-The “True life” stories are excellent. I just didn’t count them as a show.

*-“T.I.’s Road to redemption”, great show.

*-Sway gives the best interviews