What up world. This Earl and I’m back with another edition of The Blog About Nothing. Music and me go hand in hand and if you’re a regular reader of this space then you know I always tell you what I’m listening to. Today, I’m bumping Brooklyn’s young gun Joey Bada$$ studio debut B4.Da.$$ (Before Da Money). I’ve supported this kid since I knew that the 20 year old comes from my neighborhood in Brooklyn, and also attended my old high school. I’m a fan of his old school style. For a young man born in 1995, he’s got a real love of the 90’s era hip hop that I grew up on and I have nothing but respect for young Joey Bad.
Joey’s album is very strong. If you like 90’s boom bap beats that were synonymous with New York City in the early and mid 1990’s then this is your album. Kid is lyrical for sure, and he definitely studied at the feet of DeLaSoul, a Tribe Called Quest, the Wu-Tang Clan, and a young Jay Z. He clearly was someone with many influences, and he married it to that melodic boom bap style of 90’s New York hip-hop. I praise him, but I also caution that he’s young. He’s only 20. There’s clearly room for growth but tracks like Paper Trail$, Christ Conscious, and my personal favorites Black Beetles, O.C.B., and Curry Chicken offer a tremendous starting point. He’s a rookie that’s sounding like he’s a vet already.
Joey’s album isn’t the only album I’ve been listening to. Before joining this website, I used to blog on a fan site that encouraged participation by it’s members, before dying an ugly death. I won’t name it. No need to. Anyway, I was an early member (and I guess you can say co-founder) of something called the Hip-Hop Fan Group. You see, I love music. Music is literally life. Without music, life would be boring in my humble opinion. In the group I and a few of my fellow hip hop heads would tout the virtues of one Wasalu Muhammad Jaco better known as Lupe Fiasco. Lupe’s raps do go over the head, but it’s hard to ignore his lyrical gifts. If you’re a fan of a rapper just rapping his ass off then he is your guy.
This week he released his fifth studio album Tetsuo & Youth. I have to say this is the best album I’ve heard in years. Years. It’s definitely Lupe’s best album since The Cool (released in 2007) and unfortunately due to the B.S. that is the music industry it’ll likely go unheard by the masses. Lupe made an album for rap fans. There are no radio cuts, no dumbing down for the masses. It’s just lyrics so complex that you’ll need the Encyclopedia Brittanica just to decipher it. So, for those who want to declare hip hop is dead, just listen to a track like Mural or Madonna (my personal favorite is Adoration of the Magi) and see that it is very much alive. Thanks Lupe. I appreciate your work even if most don’t.
Music is my first love. My second love is sports, and that is something I do discuss in this space so let me get into something I don’t really care about: DeflateGate. First off congrats to the New England Patriots. I predicted they’d make the Super Bowl and they made it. They beat the Indianapolis Colts in what was a no-contest of a game. The final score was 45-7. The only meaningful thing that comes out of that game is this whole DeflateGate thing. You see the New England Patriots were caught using footballs that were deflated to a point there were 2 pounds per square inch below NFL standards. 11 out of 12 balls the Patriots used were about 2 psi below normal.
Since it’s the Patriots, a franchise that has been caught cheating in the past (look up SpyGate if you don’t remember that), the media has been running wild with what should be the punishment for head coach Bill Belichick and company. However, the reason why I don’t care about DeflateGate is that NFL quarterbacks have been messing with the ball for years. Quarterbacks do whatever they can to make a football suitable to how they want it. It’s something that is well known and accepted by insiders so I don’t really give a shit that the Patriots have been caught.
In the “Eek a Penis” episode of the television show South Park, which aired in September 2008 (in the show’s 12th season), Eric Cartman impersonates a Latino teacher in the “hood” and teaches his students white people are able to succeed by cheating. His example? Bill Belichick. As long as you succeed, no one will care. No one will care at all as long as you win, is what Cartman preached, and what I ultimately think of DeflateGate. Belichick has his rings, he’ll be in the Hall of Fame one day as will his quarterback Tom Brady. The faux outrage will fade away, as SpyGate once did, and only a few diehards will hold onto this the day both men enter the NFL Hall of Fame. So spare me. I don’t care.
The Seattle Seahawks will face off against the New England Patiots on February 1. I don’t know who’ll win Super Bowl 49 and I don’t really have a prediction at this moment in time, but I have to admit I didn’t see the NFC Title Game being that close. I also didn’t see Seattle’s comeback from being down 19-7 to win 28-22. You see, I fell asleep. I wasn’t feeling so great Sunday, and at halftime I closed my eyes and took what I hoped would be a quick nap. I figured the Packers were winning, and Russell Wilson was literally throwing the ball away, so I might as well take a little nap. I woke up just in time to see Russell lifting the trophy and the blue and green confetti falling on the field.
After I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming, I kicked myself for falling asleep. However, this wasn’t the first time I fell asleep on something that I thought was over. I fell asleep years ago on the USC-Texas College Football National Championship Game only to wake up to see Texas came back and beat the Trojans. I was happy for Vince Young. Mad at myself. Years later I fell asleep during the Super Bowl blackout in New Orleans. The game was over I thought. The Ravens had it in the bag. Well, the 49ers came back and I woke up just in time to see the final play. Kicked myself yet again. So, I guess me falling asleep is a good luck charm since it was fortunate for Texas (who I was rooting for in that game) and Seattle (who I predicted would win last week). Maybe I should fall asleep on teams more often.
It’s funny that I consider music and sports loves. I didn’t play sports growing up. Well, I did bowl and I was quite good at it. I got introduced to it by a friend when I was 5 years old. He bowled and his mother, suggested to my mother that I’d like it. Bowling was something I did competitively from the ages of 5 through 17. I bowled in leagues, and tournaments and had a lot of trophies by the time I was done. College eventually got in the way, and something I did for sport eventually became something I do for leisure but as far as sports goes that’s as close as I got to playing it. My love for sports purely comes from a voyeur’s point of view. I watch it on television, I read up on it and analyze it but I have no athletic talent to speak of.
I have slightly better singing talents however, which is where the love of music comes from. Well actually it comes from my Dad. My Dad loves music, and he loves playing it loudly. I’ve been hearing music since in the womb. Now, my Dad’s taste and my taste differ. Being a first generation American, of Trinidadian parentage I grew up listening to Calypso, and Soca music but being born and raised in Brooklyn in the early 1980’s, I naturally gravitated towards rap music. I love rap. Can’t rap for shit. I used to write rhymes in composition notebooks (along with some poetry). They were no good.
The singing? Slightly better. Despite singing in school choruses from the age of 7 through 16, I say I can carry note but I’m no singer. Trust me I never thought of trying out for American Idol, but I love music. My love for it defines so much about me, and I guess if I had to have a passion for something in life that would be it.
You know what else I love? Bad television. I consider myself a smart guy, and I guess I am to some extent, but I love nothing more than to watch trashy television shows. I live for shows like Love & Hip-Hop or the Real Housewives Of Atlanta. The trashier the better as far as I see it but sometimes it just goes too far. Case in point: Fox’s Empire. The show has gotten off to a great start, and has done very well with the key 18-49 age demographic. The show which is built around the Lyon family, is basically King Lear and the Lion In Winter but shrouded and retold in hip-hop form. Starring Terrance Howard as Lucious Lyon, and Taraji P. Henson as his ex-wife Cookie Lyon, the show tells of a family’s struggle for control of a successful record label as a father plays his son’s against each other as to who will rule his Empire after he’s gone.
Not to give too much away, for those who haven’t seen the show (it airs Wednesday nights on Fox) but I basically hate it. I’ve watched all three episodes, and I’ll likely keep watching, but I find Lee Daniels’ (he of The Butler) show goes too far. It feels like Empire has taken every bad stereotype possible and shoehorned it into an hour long program. It feels like I’m watching an episode of Dallas but on steroids, crack and angel dust. It goes way too far. Way too far.
I’m not writing a review. I’m just pointing out that this is a show I recently started watching, and I guess I’m typing this out because I don’t understand why I’d keep watching something I hate. I hate the language of the show, the unnecessary shots it takes just to be sensational, and I feel at the base there really is a great concept but it’s being lost because the creators of the show feel the need to be sensational just to be sensational.
Hip-Hop has infiltrated American culture, and a television drama based on the genre is something refreshing. I think that aspect of the show alone would have drawn viewers but then to go over the top, with the language, with the references, and shock value just for the case of shock value will eventually kill something that could have been great. It’s a shame really.
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