Thursday, December 22, 2011

College life vs. NFL millions

A developing trend has been taking place in big time college football lately. Highly touted NFL ready quarterbacks are actually taking the term "student athlete", seriously. For the second consecutive year, a signal caller from the Left Coast has decided to return to school for his final year of eligibility. Stanford's Andrew Luck shocked nearly everyone last season by announcing he was returning for his senior season. Although he didn't achieve his personal goals of a PAC-10 championship, potential National Championship, and the coveted Heisman Trophy, Luck still had an outstanding season. This year, he finished the regular season with 3,170 yards passing, 35 TD's to just nine interceptions and completed 70% of his passes. He made several All-American teams and for the second consecutive year finished as the runner-up for the Heisman. Most scouts and analysts have him pegged as the No. 1 overall player and think he'll more than likely be the No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft. USC's Matt Barkley looks to duplicate the success of Luck... or perhaps top it next season, as he announced today that he'd be returning for his final season with the Trojans. This surprised many, as Barkley actually bested Luck's number this season, passing for 3,528 yards and 39 touchdowns and could've entered the draft, himself. He gained a lot of attention from the professional ranks during a head-to-head duel vs. Luck, as his Trojans battled Stanford in one of the most exciting games of the year. They fell just short, losing 56-48 in three overtimes vs. Stanford. Even with the loss, Barkley showed great poise and provided a glimpe of what USC could be in the future. The future began today with his decision to remain in school. The Trojans will definitely be ranked as one of the top five teams in the country and Barkley might be the front runner for the Heisman. All of these potential accomplishments sound wonderful. But what sounded better to me was how he spoke with confidence during his press conference. He spoke of the "unfinished business" his team had to take care of, as USC will be bowl eligible for the first time next season in three years. He also spoke of graduating, something he mentioned would take place even if he did declare his entry in the draft. You couldn't help but walk away impressed by the young man and his commitment to his education, his school, and his team. He frequently speaks to youth about the importance of academics and is a devout Christian. He also went on a trip with friends and family during one Christmas holiday to help run an orphanage in South Africa. Clearly the kid gets it. He realizes that there's things more important in life than football. Not only does he enjoy being an athlete but he also enjoys being a student and a leader in his community and beyond. And who said young people can't be responsible?

Friday, December 16, 2011

David Stern is a Genius!

Like most of you reading this, I was in absolute shock about the Chris Paul trade that never was to the LA Lakers. Although I'm not a Lakers fan, I pictured in my head how Kobe Bryant would function with a top tier point guard. Simply put, it would've been unfair. Naturally, the Jordan comparisons popped in my head. Remember, Jordan never played with a dominant center or a high quality point guard... although it could be argued that Jordan and Pippen were the "true" point guards for the Chicago Bulls. Taking nothing away from Kobe AT ALL but for many years, he had a dominant force in Shaquille O'Neal at center. And if the Paul trade to the Lakers went down, he would've had arguably the current best point guard in the game in the backcourt with him. Scary, especially considering the Lakers were aggressively pursuing Dwight Howard, as well. The potential Howard trade faded away but at the forefront stood the Chris Paul trade in big, bold purple and gold letters. I was sucked in. I mean, how could you not be? Several NBA team owners (mostly of the small market variety) complained. Of course, the ringleader was Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. Gilbert, who's clearly still bitter about LeBron James bolting Cleveland for Miami (picture that) during last year's free agent sweepstakes. He even sent NBA commissioner David Stern an email saying, "It would be a travesty to allow the Lakers to acquire Chris Paul in the apparent trade being discussed." After the trade appeared to go through, it was rejected just a couple of hours later to this dismay of Lakers fans... and probably many fans of the NBA, period. Stern was destroyed in the press and some even called for his resignation. While fans and press worldwide continue to voice their displeasure, emerging out of the shadows were... the Los Angeles Clippers. WHAT??? You mean the "other" team that plays in the Staples Center? After nearly gang assaulting the Clippers for what seemed like their entire roster, a deal was finally reached. CP3 was headed to Los Angeles... just not in the uniform we expected. At first, I was confused like many of you were. But then... I SAW THE LIGHT! DAVID STERN DID THIS SH** ON PURPOSE! This was his way of saying screw you owners, screw you players, screw you fans and anybody else in the way. Think about it... Stern, who's now overseen four NBA lockouts during his 27-year tenure as commissioner, was fed up. He was tired of owners complaining about players wanting too much money. He was tired of players complaining owners make too much money. Everyone knows he's been drunk off power for years. But despite his many detractors, Stern has done tremendous things to advance his league on a global level. The NBA has 11 offices OUTSIDE of the United States. Games are televised in 215 countries across the world and 43 languages. And 28 new NBA arenas have been built since he became commissioner. The NBA is literally a multi-billion dollar industry. In other words, this isn't exactly Stern's first rodeo. So instead of letting Paul go to one of the most successful ran organizations in the history of sports, he decided to let Paul go to perhaps the worse organization of all time in any sport. Crazy, right? But guess what... The Clippers are building a TEAM. You throw Chris Paul in the mix with a budding superstar in Blake Griffin, free agent Caron Butler, and 2004 NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups and you have a pretty solid nucleus. Like it or not, they're instantly a championship contender. I'm not saying they're gonna win it this year but anything's possible in this lockout shortened 66 game regular season. Remember the lockout shortened 50 game season from 1999? The now defunct Seattle SuperSonics missed the playoffs that year after winning 61 games and a Pacific Division title the season before. That same season, the eighth seeded New York Knicks shocked the No. 1 seed Miami Heat in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs and eventually advanced to the NBA Finals. You can almost expect several key injuries and a few surprise teams throughout the league this season with 66 games being played in 120 days so conditioning will be key. But Paul becoming a Clipper makes a natural rivalry with the Lakers, as the mere thought of that reigning true had been an absolute joke for years. It generates more interest and optimism in an already basketball crazed town and perhaps steals some headlines from that "other" team that shares a lease with them in the Staples Center. In my opinion, Stern can sit back and put his feet up on his desk, spark up a Cuban cigar, and pour a couple of shots of Grey Goose. By allowing Paul to go the Lakers and NOT the Clippers, Stern may have made one of his best decisions in years. This will be one of the most exciting seasons in recent NBA history. Even a biased football fan like me will have to pay attention now.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Media vs. Real Journalism

Recently, one of my very talented writer friends expressed her waning interest in writing. She always goes back and forth on her decision but she's a hip hop writer so... I can understand. Scratch that.. I sympathize. Writing about hip hop is one thing but being a female hip hop writer is another. Obviously, I'm a male. But women have to work three times as hard as a male in a male-dominated industry, especially since their "knowledge of the classics" is constantly questioned. In my opinion, that's the least of her problems. The double-edged sword that keeps stabbin' her in the back... SHE ACTUALLY HAS FRICKIN' INTEGRITY! WHAT! Automatically, she's disqualified. Who does she think she is? Writing about things that actually have substance and not sucking up to some new artist that's adored by millions.... REALLY? Writers like that have no business in this... business. You wanna know why? Its not worth it. Being concerned about integrity, being involved in the media is not the place for you. Its corrupt, political, biased, irresponsible, one-sided, jaded, and soaked in piss. Sensationalism. Exploitation. All of the above. And this is why I always say there's a distinct difference between the media and real journalism. The aforementioned things represent a spitting image of the media, basically a cash cow that leaks sour milk to its adoring public... and they dumb asses willingly drink it! Naturally, its a big business. The money involved is endless so the brainwashing will continue. Meanwhile, the real journalists and reporters of the world are swallowed whole by over-zealous editors and so-called news organizations. In a way, I can't blame the media because they're in a business to make money. But what's lost in all of the madness is they fail to realize that they actually contribute to existing problems instead of changing them. Or maybe they do realize it and are content on making a profit. Or managing to break even. Of course, we all want to put food on the table. There's no denying that. But I seriously feel that reporters and real journalists have the ability to reshape and restructure the world. The power of words is amazing. And the power of true investigative reporting amazes even more. Some of it may be difficult to swallow but its informative, eye-opening, and educational. If done correctly and consistently, it can also prove lucrative. It should come from detailed research not a Twitter post or misguided blog. Questions have to be raised and answers need to be given. If not, I'm wondering if the very talented hip hop writer I spoke of and some of my other writer friends will eventually waive the white flag and surrender. I hope not. The world actually needs people like you. So please, create your own lanes and stick to them. Then, I guess I'll allow you to all have your precious integrity lol.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Holidays... More like the Holidaze!

I must admit... I'm not a big holiday guy. But this isn't anything new. When I was a kid, I loved all of the holidays. Even George Washington's birthday. But that's because we had early dismissal. Once I neared my teens I began to care less and less about the holidays... except for New Year's Day. But that was because all the major college bowl games came on, starting with the Citrus Bowl at 11:30 am and concluding with the Sugar Bowl, which usually ended a little after midnight. However, some formula that incorporates numerous polls, a computer that seems a bit outdated, and many corporate sponsors ruined that day for me. It is fun to pig out on Thanksgiving and watch football, though. Ok... back to the point I was getting at, which is the holidays. The day after Thanksgiving, the holiday shopping madness officially begins. We know that day to be "Black Friday". Personally, I think its a bunch of bullshit. I can remember going out on one "Black Friday" and watching two women tug, pull, and damn near fight over a toy. Here's what happened.... Woman 1: (picks up toy of shelf). Woman 2: "Bitch, I seen it first!". Woman 1: "But I grabbed it!" Enter security. Can you believe they had to break them up? You would've thought the World's last food stamp was at stake or something. But all of this was over a toy. Is this what the Holidays turns people into? Grown women fighting over a toy? I just walked away and continued my shopping, purchasing some pajamas for my son. When Christmas day arrived, he tore up the packaging like a seasoned pro. His eyes lit up when he saw the Ben 10, Spider-Man, and other cartoon characters on his pajamas. I bought him some other things but those were the gifts he seemed to remember the most. I didn't have a camera but the look on his face was one I'll never forget. You see, that's the joy I get out of Christmas and the holiday season, in general... the look on his face and his sister's face as they open their gifts. Its not about the amount of gifts you receive or the dollar amount. Its the thought that counts. And its amazing how the simplest gift can provide so much joy. There's no need for holiday shoppers to get caught up in the stress the season can provide. And the funny thing is the same stress triggers occur every year: lots of shopping and preparation, large crowds, and end-of-the-year responsibilities. With so much already going on in one's personal life, the search for "the perfect gift", the attitude of a salesperson that's been working for 10 hours straight, and the five people that bumped into you but didn't bother to say excuse me add even more frustration. And what do you expect when you wait 'til so late to begin your shopping? The best thing to do is be reasonable. Shop within your budget. And if you're really irritated by certain family members... don't even go around them. No need to be fake about it. If you are one of those people that just HAS TO get those "wonderful gifts", shop throughout the year, like WAY before Thanksgiving. If you want to pick up "stocking stuffers", grab those later because you can get them anytime (Stores like Walgreen's has all kinds of things... and the lines are virtually non-existent). If you're someone that likes to entertain a large group of people during the holidays, hire a cleaning company. That way, you don't have to yell at the kids or your spouse for not vacuuming the living room at a 360 degree angle or washing the dishes left-handed with one eye closed. Planning ahead is the most important thing. No need to be discouraged over things you don't have or can't afford. Be thankful for the most important gift of all... life.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Will Penn State football ever be relevant again?

The Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions are one of the most storied college football programs in the country. In November 2008, they became just the sixth school to register 800 wins, after a victory against Michigan State. However, recent child molestation allegations against former assistant Jerry Sandusky have rocked the program and the school, resulting in the most significant loss in school history... a loss that had nothing to do with a result on the field. By now, anyone with a television or a computer knows the name Jerry Sandusky. He was an assistant for 30-plus years under long-time head coach and Pennsylvania icon, Joe Paterno. Sandusky resigned in 1999 after PSU's 24-0 win over Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl. He was carried off the field by the players and treated as a hero. His resignation seemed a bit mysterious and pre-mature. After all, Paterno was aging and many university officials had grown tired of the team's struggles. Penn State was still winning but not with its usual dominance. Sandusky seemed like a likely successor but that never happened and Paterno continued to remain as head coach. Flash forward to the present day, where the former assistant finds himself facing 40 counts of sexual abuse over a 15-year period. Although Sandusky has yet to go to trial, several university officials and coaches have been either jailed, fired, or placed under intense scrutiny for not properly addressing the situation and virtually covering up a scandal in fear of hurting the nearly pristine image of the university and its football program. Pretty disgusting if you ask me. With all of the controversy and flat out incompetence, the university had no choice but to fire Paterno, despite the fact he'd been coaching their for 45 years. But as they say, the show must go on. And there's no way a school with 827 wins and two National Championships is gonna stop playing football. Talks of suspending the program for a couple of years have surfaced but right now... its only talk. Whatever they decide, I have a solution that would help not only the Nittany Lions football team but the school and the entire community of Happy Valley, as a whole. Hire Herman Edwards as the next football coach. If you follow football, you know that Edwards is an energetic and passionate football analyst seen frequently on ESPN. Edwards played in the NFL from 1977-1986 for three teams, most notably the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was active for 135 consecutive games. After his playing days he moved into the coaching ranks, eventually landing head coaching gigs with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs. But if you know Edwards, football doesn't tell the complete story. His father was an African American WWII and his mother was German. He graduated from San Diego State with a degree in Criminal Justice. Upon graduation, he helped out a great deal in Monterey County (CA) promoting the Special Olympics, helping to educate the local area on disabled athletics. Edwards is a visionary and an exceptional leader. That's the type of commitment and dedication needed at Penn State. He's also a motivational speaker and the kind of person an incoming recruit would instantly gravitate to. More importantly, he'd make a great impression on a recruit's parents and make them feel as if they could trust not only Edwards but the university again. Although his playing days are long over, he still commits himself to working out in the gym at 5 am, six days a week. And during his coaching days, he didn't wear gymshoes on the sideline... he wore dress shoes, polishing them before each game. That's the kind of dedication Penn State could be proud of. The university is also known for stellar academics exceptional student athletes, as the football team posted the highest graduation rate (89%) of any team in the AP Top 25 poll. His "firm but fair" attitude and work ethic would help maintain that tradition. The hiring of Edwards might not be the best long-term solution. It might not even be an immediate solution, at least in terms of wins and losses. However, Edwards outstanding character would be a tremendous step in the right direction. His hiring would prove to be much more than a game on the field. It would be more reflective on the game of life, which when you really think about it... it isn't a game at all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Walk away, bro... She's too young!

One day about 10 years ago, I was walking to the store with one of the homies from the ‘hood. It was an extremely hot Summer day, which probably meant that since the weather was hot, the girls would be “dressin’ less”. Yup, assumption correct. About a block from the store, I see a young lady that was extremely “thick”. But when she turned around and said, “Hey Corey”, I immediately knew that she was my homegirl’s sister. She was 13 and had the smallest shorts on I’d ever seen in my life. Immediately upon hearing her voice and seeing her face, any potential thoughts in my head were erased. I’m glad I reserved my complete judgment of the situation before she even turned around and spoke, otherwise I would’ve done the unthinkable. Enter my homie. As soon as she said, “Hey Corey”, my homie says, “Damn, bro”. “I need that in my life, tonight”. I say to him, “Man, can’t you tell how young she is”? He says, “Well, today is her lucky today. I’m givin’ young girls a chance”. The young lady’s age… 13. He didn’t believe me when I told him. In fact, he tried to pursue her, even after she told him how old she was. “Girl, you don’t have no ass like a 13 year old”, he said. He finally left her alone and we continued to the store to get the beer… And not surprisingly, he called me a “hater” and a “cock blocker”. But all the time, I’m wondering how many other guys have tried to run that same ol’ game on this young lady. I’m also wondering where her sister was and why she wasn’t saying anything to her about her attire. A few years later, she ended up pregnant by a guy in me and my homies age bracket and with an STD. She dropped out of school and her sperm donor ended up going to jail. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Well, here’s another one…. A few years later, a somewhat similar situation happened that involved me. I’m with another one of the homies. I’d just gotten off work and he asked me to come through and have some drinks. He also mentioned that it was two girls over there. I agreed. I get over there and I see the young ladies… I knew who they were. Pissed! I didn’t know how old they were but I knew they were younger than me. I also knew my homie was at least FIVE years OLDER than me. Since I walked all the way over there, I decided to have a couple of cups of beer before I left. Before I get ready to leave, I went to the bathroom. When I come out the bathroom, I notice that the three of them weren’t in the living room anymore. I heard laughter coming from the bedroom… I thought they were drunk and playing hide and seek or s’thing silly. Boy was I wrong! Eventually, I hear a voice say; “Come in here, bro. Can you bring me my cup, too”? I agreed. When I walk in, my homie is in bed with both girls. The girls are topless. The two ages of the girls combined barely equaled his age. I announce that I’m about to leave. He says, “Man, what’s wrong… are you scared of pussy”? I looked at him and said, “In this situation… YES!” I was happy to get out of there because I was feeling really guilty for sitting down and having drinks in the first place. When I walked through the door, I should’ve known better. I never knew what happened to those girls because I didn’t see much of them after that night… But I brought up these two stories because I can’t understand why guys would lower their standards so low that they’d talk to girls in middle/high school. Girls that are many times half their age. You can tell from a person’s face and from their conversation how old they are. Well, at least I can. Apparently, some people don’t care anymore. “We” can’t keep acting like that. Some of these girls nowadays are outta control and some of these brothas are equally outta control. Regardless of what your friends may think of you, please say something. If not, they’ll be sleeping with your sister, neice, cousin, etc. And if you see your boy behaving like this, walk away or call him out. That’s pedophile activity and many people are doing this without any sort of remorse. That lack of accountability is an eye sore in communities worldwide. It adds to teen pregnancy, STD’s, and in many cases, rape. You might be called a “hater” like I was. Regardless, its your civic duty to respond. If not, you’re as guilty as the person doing it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Casey Anthony verdict was... correct

Like many Americans, and perhaps citizens of other countries, as well, I have a problem with trusting our government. Anything that extends past the community level seems to be corrupt, and even then you have to question the motivation of the parties involved. I trust the judicial system even less than actual government, which is partially why I don’t ever want to be involved in jury duty. The result in the Casey Anthony trial earlier this week further extends my belief as why. By now, we all know that Anthony was acquitted on charges of first-degree murder of her two year old daughter, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child. However, she was found guilty of lying to the police on four separate occasions as to her knowledge on the whereabouts of her daughter. Despite this obstruction of justice, lying to the police is a misdemeanor. That’s the loophole the defense managed to escape through, leading to the acquittal of in my opinion, a murderer. But that’s the difference between me, you, and the jury. Their job is to examine the facts and reach an unbiased, objective decision on the facts presented during the case. Not what media says and not public outcry. With that being said, they did exactly what they were asked…. They did their job. That’s the kind of job that I want no part of. There’s no way I’d be able to make a clear decision on what happened. A child was murdered and the blood of that child is clearly on the hands of the mother. Unfortunately, the prosecution had a very weak case, depending mainly on the lies Anthony told the police and a theory that chloroform was used to make her daughter unconscious, allowing duct tape to be place over her mouth and nose afterwards. The defense claimed the death happened in an accidental drowning, also a weak argument since no evidence is there to support that, either. But despite the lies and presence of duct tape found in her daughter’s hair, it still was not enough evidence to support first-degree murder, according to the law. But a little girl is dead. Her mother is a liar. Those areas are black and white. But its those gray areas make me steer clear from jury duty. I’m an emotional person. I’m a passionate person. Being a father that loves his son more than the world itself, there’s no way I’d be able to give an objective opinion on what happened. I don’t even want to take that chance… because if it were up to me, that woman would be going to jail. I wouldn’t even want her to receive the death penalty. I’d want her to sit there the rest of her life with that guilt hanging over her head. But the decision isn’t up to me and we the public are not the jury. The best thing we can do is not support the book and movie deal that will come when this woman gets out of jail, which will probably be in less than a month of her acquittal. And no matter what you and I think of the situation, she’ll never go to jail for the murder because you can’t appeal an acquittal. Even if she has a pay-per-view special and admits to doing it, she won’t go to jail for murder. But you can bet the spirit of that little girl will haunt Casey Anthony forever. She’ll never have peace and I wouldn’t be surprised if she does something stupid and ends up in jail in a separate case, anyway. I’m not interested in watching the train wreck… that’s why I steered clear of Nancy Grace and the rest of the media coverage surrounding the event. Do yourselves a favor and do the same. If you don’t, this story won’t go anywhere.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011



Flat out... if I hear that word one more time, I'm going to bite somebody face off!

When I think of that word, I always equate it to sports. For instance, when the Miami Hurricanes football team was a powerhouse in the late 80’s-early-90’s, I heard several announcers refer to their "swagger." When the bad boy Pistons, also from the late 80’s-early-90’s, were kicking the NBA's ass (before Jordan got his rings), the announcers used to talk about their swag; it had nothing to do with the way they dressed. It was the intensity, demeanor and their intestinal fortitude... the do whatever it takes approach to win the game; the idea that no matter what the situation or what the score was; “We still think we're going to win.”

Now I'm not saying that swagger has to only apply to sports but at least it’s applicable. What the fuck does my haircut, new outfit and gym-shoes have to do with my swag? "Oooh, she like my swag".... PLEASE, SHUT THE HELL UP! That’s just like in the 90’s when everyone was saying, "I gotta represent." I understood what Nas was talking about when he said it ... but remember when that group had the song "boy you ain't never gonna find another love like this... so you betta represent." Represent what? That song was wack as hell. And don't forget about "keep it real." It seemed like in 95’, about 293 people had a song called keep it real. And in the last few years, it’s been everyone with "that's what's up". I've heard another 391 people with a song of that title and all of them owe Slum Village a percentage of their royalties because they stole it from them as far as I'm concerned (that includes you too, Floetry).

I know catch phrases are popular.... just stop biting and be creative because this swag madness has got to stop. I just heard a ten-year old girl today talking about, "Girl, I think Marcus like my swag!" She then proceeds to give all her girls a high-five and I walked away in disgust. I wanted to go and get a dictionary so she could read the definition because swagger is defined as "conducting oneself in an arrogant or superciliously pompous manner” or "to walk with an air of overbearing self-confidence." Or how about "arrogant or conceitedly self-behavior." If that's the case, you can have yo’ swag…I'm cool. Catch me in the corner or up near the speaker with my Sam Adams chilling… now that's some swag!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

RIP MySpace?

In 2005, my career as an independent recording artist/entertainer/emcee completely changed. It was due to the creation and emergence of a website that I’d never heard of. Only in my dreams had I envisioned something so wonderful could happen. It all started on a chill day in the first quarter of ’05. I was over Tasherre D’Enajetic’s apartment, as we were working on a song called “Mutiny”. It featured Term, Asylum 7, Metasyons and Finale, along with me and Tasherre, and DJ Primeminister on cuts and production. The homie Zo! was present, as well, as he was there for moral support and random shit talking (sometimes you need that element, too). After we went over the song a few times, Tasherre turned on his computer and logs into something called MySpace. I’d never heard of this site before. He already had his own page, music on there, people leaving favorable comments… and a really pretty girl with really large breasts. After seeing all of that, I decided I needed a page, ASAP! As he continued through his page, I saw several people I recognized. But that’s not what got my attention. What got my attention is seeing several people I DIDN’T recognize. I had to ask… “I want a page. What’s the catch”? He said, “None. Its free”. At that point, I wanted to start slam dancing like I was at an Onyx/Wu-Tang/Nirvana concert. I decided against that when I saw how close I was to his apartment window. Days later, I finally had my own page and wasted little time reaching out to people. Once I had music on there, I was ready to go. Instead of doing the normal routine of becoming friends with as many people from Detroit as I could, I looked for people in places like Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and Maine. Then I thought… LET’S LOOK OVERSEAS! I reached out to people in Norway, Germany, Spain, Italy, France, etc… it was easier than I thought. I couldn’t believe how many people loved Detroit music. MySpace provided me with an opportunity I NEVER had. I was able to get my music out to thousands of people worldwide without even hitting a button. There was an option to leave your music available for free download so I did that. Some mornings I’d wake up and see that I’d have thousands of plays and numerous downloads. It didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t getting paid for it. This was free promotion. And the way I looked at it, if people were so positive to receive something for free, they’d be more than willing to return the favor and buy some material later. The site also opened the door for me to communicate with artists I’ve admired for years and hope to one day record or do a show with. It even gave me the opportunity to make money, as I met several artists that wanted to compensate me for work and several promoters that wanted to book me for shows out of town. ME? I was truly honored. As the years went by, MySpace began to lose much of its popularity, as many similar sites that were organized better began to emerge. The site was purchased by billionaire Rupert Murdoch for $580 million and many changes took place. Several people tried to get me to “convert” to the other sites. I was totally against it because I was still making money so it didn’t make a difference to me. I wasn’t happy with the changes but I was still able to reach a large amount of people simultaneously. But after awhile, those changes were starting to affect my business. The option to download an artist’s music was no longer available (thank Jay-Z for that one) and the site was beginning to venture away from the importance of the independent artist. More mainstream artists were beginning to receive the attention, pretty much pushing out cats like me out the door. I VERY reluctantly moved to Facebook in 2009, almost kicking and screaming. I’d check the MySpace page every now and then, trying to recapture memories of recent past. Now I check it maybe once or twice a month… which is once or twice more a month more than nearly everyone I know! Sad. But surprisingly, megastar Justin Timberlake joined forces with Specific Media recently, as they purchased the site for $35 million (it was initially stated the site wouldn’t be sold for less than $100 million). Timberlake is reportedly extremely excited about this opportunity, as he shares the vision Specific Media has to help other artists and allow people a chance to express themselves. However, that’s an extremely broad vision. I’d like to see what specific goals they have for the site. One thing’s for sure, many people will now be out of work, as nearly half of the 400 staffers will be let go. Perhaps this is a sign of simplifying things again and making the most out of its resources. But if MySpace does not go back to the approach of helping out the independent artist, the decline will continue, even with a figure like Justin Timberlake watching closely. Stay tuned…

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Metta World Peace

Flagrant fouls. A basket-brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills versus fans of a division rival. Admitting to drinking alcohol on occasion BEFORE games. These are some of the lowlights of Ron Artest’s NBA career. Moments that will forever be attached and linked to his name. But after a recent life-changing decision, he’ll be remembered for much more than that. Artest has decided to change his name to Metta World Peace, a word derived from the Buddhist language. Many fans and sports analysts scoffed at the idea, questioning the motivation and dismissed it as a publicity stunt. What they failed to realize is the significance of the name, as the word means “friendliness” or “benevolence”, words that fit nicely in the description of an athlete that found himself mired in controversy earlier this decade. Forgotten in all of this scrutiny is the fact that the brawl at The Palace took place 6 ½ years ago and that he’s actually had a pretty good career. He’s a former Defensive Player of the Year, an all-star, a two-time First Team member of the All-NBA Defensive team, and perhaps his most significant individual award, the 2011 J. Walker Kennedy Citizenship award, culminating a remarkable comeback from a tumultuous childhood and early adult life. Artest (he has a court date on August 26 to see if the name change petition has been approved) grew up in the projects Queens, New York, where he lived with five other siblings and two cousins, sharing two bedrooms. He witnessed his father abuse his mother, his parents eventually divorce, and lost his baby sister to SID’s among several other things that would shape his personality over time. His upbringing wasn’t unlike many kids his age growing up and was the genesis of his of his anger and frustration. Basketball would serve as somewhat of a calming influence to Artest but the inner demons he ignored would surface several times throughout his career. However, the last few seasons have birthed an individual that understands his role and responsibility… to help others. Its been no secret that he’s been receiving professional help as he’s openly talked about it on air, even thanking his psychiatrist on live television, as his current team, the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2010 NBA Title. I laughed like many others when I heard him say it. Not just because of the timing of the announcement but because you could clearly see a sensitive young man, ready to take on the world, hoping for acceptance while speaking in the most sincere form. He had arrived. Later on, he would make two decisions that nearly brought tears to my eyes. He decided to donate nearly his entire NBA Salary for the upcoming season to a charity for mental awareness. Also, he decided to have a charity raffle for his championship ring on his website, raising nearly $500,000. These noble efforts are not those of an “attention whore”, as some have unfairly labeled him. They are the efforts of a man who had the courage to face a personal issue and use his influence to help others. Regardless if he never wins another championship ring again, the mission has been accomplished. His story is one that can be viewed as inspirational and uplifting. He may not be World B. Free. Or Muhammad Ali. Or Bono. But he is a man. Thank you, Metta World Peace. Rock on….

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Yeah, I said it.  I put asteriks in there but the message still remains the same.  The anger and disappointment remains the same.  And it didn't start with tonight's annual BET Awards, either, because.... I refused to watch.  So again, its F**K BET.  The so-called network has been masquerading as a community and family vessel of hope and outreach for quite some time now. The awards show is simply a microcosm of what regular viewers should expect day-to-d ay: unintelligent, uninformative, saturated, copycat images, transmitted to you worldwide.  Ignorance at its finest, presented to you in high definition.... and you don't even need all the extra bells in whistles from your cable provider OR the store you purchased your idiot box from.  Why?  Because the answer is not in gray.  Its in black and white.  In my opinion, BET was a once a network that stood on principles that were valid and genuine.  It wasn't perfect, but it was a network that made me proud of my race. It was owned by US.  Owned by us not for just an hour on Saturday’s but 24/7/365, we owned it, too.  In addition to great video shows like Video Soul, Video LP, Caribbean Rhythms, and Rap City (before it later became Rap Shitty), Ed Gordon and Tavis Smiley had informative news and human interest programming.  Teen Summit came on Saturdays and discussed issues that teenagers face daily, from sex, peer pressure, pregnancy, STD’s, violence… you name it.  And they had dope musical guests every week.  But none of this exists anymore.  I knew the day would end when I saw that God-awful, “Cita’s World”.  The one thing the network had managed to avoid and now you succumb to it… stereotyping your own race.  I mean, I’m not that old-fashioned that I can’t laugh at my race or my own self, for that matter.  But this was sad.  Sad because the role she played has been accepted in our community for so long that it was clearly time to move on.  This made it really easy for others to observe, over-analyze, and be amused. Now, we flash forward to 2000.  Viacom purchases BET for $3 billion dollars.  Robert Johnson is a business man so I can’t be mad at that sale.  But honestly, he probably would’ve made more had that sale not taken place considering how much has been stolen from our culture in the first place.  By saying no, he would’ve forced others hand to submit to his brand of marketing and television and try to duplicate what he was producing.  Instead, he fell for the “banana in the tailpipe” and Viacom turned BET into a traveling circus of coonery for everyone to see.  No creative television, either.  Every BET reality show was a direct bite off one on MTV.  I mean, its not that reality shows have any educational value.  It was just frustrating to see a network that continuously set trends were now being forced into mediocrity’s vacuum, ridding the world of all intelligence for simple currency exchange.  And now, the main event:  TONIGHT’S AWARD SHOW!  UMMMM…. I TOLD YALL I DIDN’T WATCH IT!  You guys will have to fill me in on what happened (actually, don’t fill me in.  I’m good).  I’m pretty sure the show will be filled with cursing, gyrating, etc… followed by a couple of gospel music arrangements.  But that’s how BET gets down.  Remember, this is the same network that pride’s themselves in being a family network and uplifting family.  The same network that promotes safe sex and “wrap it up”… but the same network that allow several artists that talk about how “they bang hoes daily” to perform… but yet the promote a “wrap it up” campaign?  They tell you ALL DAY to “get tested” but most of the people performing aren’t getting tested.  They’re only promoting even more sex with multiple partners.  So keep your award shows.  Keep your network, period.  I tried to AT LEAST give yall a little support when you showed repeats of “The Wire”.  But once you took that off the air, you lost me.  After all, you can’t expect me to be watching a network that shows “Pain in Full” and “State Property” at least two weekends out the month.  And you can’t expect to me to tune in to a network that had the nerve to say Little Brother, Beatnuts, and De La Soul are “too intelligent for their listening audience”.  No thanks, yall.  Remote in hand and I’m now watching SportsCenter.  Peace

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm cheating on music

Sometimes, I feel like a dumb ass rapper.  All I do is rhyme.  I don't make beats or play instruments.  I'm not saying everyone should feel as extreme as I do about this but honestly... I think all emcees should learn how to play at least one instrument.  Music shouldn't be confined strictly by the genre you participate in.  Music should be progressive.  The reason why many artists of the past 10 years will be forgotten in the next 10-15 years (or less) is because they decided to remain stagnant.  They chose to take the advance money the label gave them and spend it on worldly possessions, leaving they're soul exposed for everyone to see.  Think about the music (especially rap) that is no longer relevant.  Many artists fall in that proverbial big label trap, only to receive a few dollars... and half of it goes to taxes at the end of the year.  The rest of it goes back to the label.  So what did you really make?  Nothing.  You just have a piece of meaningless jewelry.  All that time when you were buying things that you couldn't really afford, you could've been learning you're craft and creating a new one at the same time.  Basically, expanding your horizons way beyond the means of financial gain and a love affair with the corporate world and all of its greed and evil. Now its cool to splurge... a little... every once in awhile.  But while you're out there splurging, learn the business and learn a craft.  I've fallen victim to this... I can't tell you how long I've been saying I need to learn how to play an instrument.  And honestly, I have no excuse because jazz is BY FAR my favorite music.  Join me on the mission to cultivate and build, yall.  The music is dying.  And if we continue to let it suffer, those that come after us will kill it even more.  Let's do something about this so our ancestors can be proud of us.  Peace

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

St. Andrew's and beyond

Once long ago, there was a proud hip hop scene that existed in Detroit.  I was kind of a late bloomer, as I didn't appear on the scene until 94-95.  I just didn't think it was other people in my city listening to Wu-Tang, A Tribe Called Quest, and Souls of Mischief like I was.  When I discovered there were SEVERAL others listening to the same thing, I was amazed.  My hopes of a growing hip hop scene grew exponentially.  That's why I used to catch the bus to the Hip Hop Shop on 7 Mile.  Five Elements (later 5ELA) worked there... all three members: Mudd, Thyme, and Proof (RIP).  DJ Head would be in the store spinnin' tunes and I was just in awe.  Soon after I discovered "The Shop", my good friend Julia took me to a record store called Street Corner Music and introduced me to some guy she referred to as "White Mike".  He seemed okay, rather quiet.  Well later that night, Julia took me down to some club I'd never heard of... St. Andrew's.  To my surprise, "White Mike", aka DJ Houseshoes was spinnin'... and this fool actually had on his houseshoes when he spun!  He played all kinds of incredible joints, including the one that made me lose my mind... Audio Two "Top Billin".  This was June 1995.  I would go to that club damn near every Friday for a few years and ended up having some of the best times of my life.  'Shoes, DJ Q, DJ Head, Jewelz, Slym Fas, Head, Tony Tone, Dez, O Love... so many different DJ's... there's a few more I can't remember right now... but they all played records that sent the crowd in a frenzy.  Jay Dee (RIP) would walk in and hand a "white label"  to Shoes and all of a sudden you see about 30 dudes with locks simultaneously shakin' locks in a frenzy while the rest of the club would look befuddled... then all of a sudden, we're shakin' our heads, too.  Those Friday nites, I'd be freestylin' with Bugz (RIP), Freak, Beej, eLZhi, Britus, etc... watchin Cool E spit various Rakim verses, losin' my mind with Wingo and Mo when we'd hear "Proceed No. 5" or "Soul on Ice", watchin Quest Love do the "Cabbage Patch", seeing Pete Rock go crazy when DJ Q spun "Fantastic"... so many memories of that place.  Yeah, I know.... things change.  We move on.  We get older.  But that place had so many good times.  In fact, it probably kept me out of trouble.  It felt like a safe haven.  A rehabilitation center.  A place to vent.  A place to live, laugh, build, love, and vibe.  In fact, that's how the whole scene felt to me, no matter where we were.  Even if it was a cipher on the corner.  What happened to that love?  See back then, people went to shows.  And they didn't just go because you were opening up for a big name from out-of-town.  They came because if they didn't, s'thing felt wrong with the air they breathed.  They HAD to have it because they loved it.  Some graduated from the scene to do things that none of us have ever imagined.  Did they forget about us?  I'm not sure.  They weren't obligated to come "rescue us".  After all, they had their own lives, careers, vices, addictions, or whatever the case may have been.  Every now and then, I'd wonder if some of the cats that made it past St. Andrew's ever cared about building the scene or just themself.  As I get older, I grew to care less.  Like I said before, they weren't obligated.  Unfortunately, this goes well past St. Andrew's or any other club around the way... regardless if you live in Detroit or London.  I know it will never be another era like that again.  But for my city, I'm hoping that this Royce and Eminem album opens some eyes and brings about change.  Not necessarily because the album is dope (I haven't heard it), but because these two guys are recording with each other again.  That goes way beyond screaming Detroit in an interview or doing ad's with a car company.  I'm hoping that record brings about unity, education, healing, and understanding.  As of now, those things don't exist in my city.  I'm not putting the blame on any individual or group.  I'm just hoping Royce and Em realize the power they have to evoke change... change that can help our community, city, and culture grow.  Hope to see y'all cats soon.  Much respect from a fellow Hip Hop Shop and St. Andrew's alum.  Peace and prosperity.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Motown, Motown... Big city of dreams

As a kid, I remember riding down Dexter Avenue with my father. Seemed as if it were a Saturday ritual. He would point out the abandoned houses and dilapidated buildings, telling me how beautiful things used to look. Even though I could never imagine beauty gracing this and other areas we'd encounter, I couldn't help but recognize the hint of nostalgia and sense of pride in my father's voice. His words painted the picture for me at age 12 as we rolled down the city streets of my hometown... Detroit.  The John Coltrane playing in the tape deck served as the perfect background music. It probably aroused my curiosity even more. And as was the case everytime we took this route, the inner tour guide in him led us downtown. Once there, it felt as if I were in a third-world country. Many emotions ran through my head. Nervous. Anger. Confusion. Even betrayal.
How could the city that most know worldwide as Motown and/or the car capital of America appear to be so desolate? Did anyone care or was everyone just comfortable with the pasttime paradise of the glorius 60's?
I asked my father this question. Not in those exact words but fairly similiar. He told me that the riots in 1967 killed Detroit and recovery time was unknown. That was 20 years ago. Sadly, Hitsville USA still remains in a state of uncertainty.Why? Because many of those same buildings and abandoned houses still exist, serving as rat infested trap houses for children to be abducted and raped. They decrease the value of other homes in neighborhoods across the city, making Detroit an easy target for the national media. Having a mayor that has constantly lied in court, to his family and the city as a whole does not help the situation.
A recent study in Forbes magazine ranked Detroit near the bottom out of 100 cities profiled in job growth, unemployment, median household income and income growth. Public transportation is poor. The city council is corrupt. Numerous schools have closed. Wayne County is over $20 million in debt a month. And the city's population is dwindling daily. True enough, Detroit has experienced some good times. Casinos. Twin stadiums for major league baseball's Tigers and the NFL Lions. Revitilization on Woodward Avenue and other streets downtown. All isn't bad. But most of that good is just used to disguise the city (and eventually the state's) weaknesses. Even with all this going on, I still live in Northwest Detroit. I have a lot of love for the city. But much like anybody who has that one aunt in the family that gets on your nerves, I don't like the city right now. Usually, most problems start at the top. You cut off the head and hope the problem becomes non-existent. Its time to destroy and rebuild. See you in 20 years.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Why I truly miss '95....

Peace world.  Its amazing how a single year can completely switch your focus and change your opinions.  On family, music, the government, on... life.  1995, the year AFTER I graduated from high school, probably remains the most significant year in my life, in terms of personal growth.  No, I didn't convert to Islam, rescue three children from a burning building, or release a platinum single on Bad Boy.  But I was discovering myself.  Music had a large part to do with it and really... the discovery actually began in '94.  But in 1995, my eyes REALLY opened.  Raekwon, 2 PAC, Smif-N-Wessun, Dogg Pound, Mobb Deep, Pharcyde, and the GZA had a lot to do with it.  Not only did I think those albums (and many other releases) were incredible, but many of the songs on those albums became the soundtrack of my day, culminating with Friday nites at St. Andrew's... easily some of the best days of my life.  Freestylin' in the neighborhood, the parkin lot and sidewalk outside the club, inside the club, in the car... all of this taking place while funny cigarettes were being lit and passed around, making me really hungry after they were gone.  Catching the bus.  Walking to the store.  Relationships with females.  Meeting new people.  Going to festivals downtown.  Drinking and smoking... so many other things that may seem simple to some but were responsible for making me the person I'd eventually become.  Do I still do some of those things?  Sure.  Do I still enjoy some of those things?  Sure.  But for some reason, none of them FEEL the same anymore.  Not because I'm not interested but because I feel out of place.  Almost as if I've become a creature of habit.  Or if this is some sort of weird sensory dislocation.  Every now and then, nostalgia creeps in and I begin to reminisce.  I'm not sure if I'm getting older and wiser or stubborn and not willing to change.  But why should I have to? Why can't things be the way they used to in '95?  Things were a lot simpler.  We weren't slaves to technology.  Now, technology has its advantages... I'll admit that.  But honestly, I know some things just aren't for me.  So excuse me if I continue to live in the past.  '95, '85... anything but this current year we live in.  Advance with the times... what if I don't want to?  I wanna remember things the way they were when I was content and at peace.  At peace musically, physically, spiritually, and mentally.  That was my perfect balance.  So if I don't fit in your universe, I'm not mad at that.  And you shouldn't be, either.  I haven't given up on one day co-existing and sharing ideas on how we can make things comfortable for future generations.  But its gotta start from within all of us.  Perhaps one day I'll see you in the future.  We can sit back and play ATARI 2600, Super Nintendo, or Genesis.  We can actually have a conversation instead of texting each other IN THE SAME HOUSE.  We can actually say what we feel and give constructive criticism instead of being labeled a "hater".  We can think progressively, hoping to somehow align the present and the future, without ignoring the past.  But if you aren't ready, I can't make you.  I can only tell you how I feel.  We used to be able to do that, ya know.  When you're ready, let me know.  Until then, I'll have on my headphones.  Out....