As it nears that time of the year when sundresses and bikinis run wild in my immediate line of sight, I’ve begun thinking of some of the best and worst songs to vibe to during these late-spring/early-summer months. But, then I remembered something. “Best Of” lists are as boring as watching a two-hour long adult film  never all that fun. So, pardon the cliche, but let’s go through the best of the worst. As always, this is just my opinion. I can be wrong…but I’m pretty sure I’m not on most of these.

Sisqo – “Thong Song” (not to be confused with this “Thong Song”)

(I’m sure you may’ve tried to block the video out of your memories, but it’s somewhat NSFW. I mean, it’s a video and song about thongs…)

It’s ok, guys. I’ve sung along to this song and thanked it in middle school for creating awkward “freak dancing” moments being a song people wanted to dance to. But, let’s face it. It sucked. The beat, an interpolation of Wes Montgomery’s jazz cover of “Eleanor Rigby,” a Beatles song, was overly dramatic (but introduced me to the sampled track, below, some years later).

Plus, it gives me a reason to post a YouTube link to this slightly absurd Beatles cartoon.

Now, back to Sisqo. The lyrics were simplistic, even by today’s standards of catchiness (“Dumps like a truck, truck, truck…baby move ya butt, butt, butt” isn’t exactly avante-garde lyricism). And the premise of the song and video make it seem like Sisqo’s some sort of omnipotent, platinum-haired pervert. Granted, the video also showcased Sisqo crowd-surfing /walking on people all Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style, which was a thing for Sisqo. But overall? This song deserves to be locked away in a room and never let out. NEVER unleash the dragon again, Sisqo. Even though this song was (technically) released Y2K Eve (December 31, 1999), it managed to linger for about two years-plus after that. Now, it pained me to list a Sisqo song because Dru Hill. But, yeah…no.

LFO – “Summer Girls”

Now, first and foremost, let me pay my respects to the lead singer of this group, Rich Cronin, who passed in 2010 from leukemia-related complications. But, this song did one of these two things. Either it:

1) made it possible for hipsters and suburban America to accept Lil’ Wayne’s stream-of-consciousness lyricism when it was at its lowest point(s) or…
2) It was a free-form homage to a romance that was catchy as all hell but still neglected to make much sense. “Chinese Food makes me sick” had absolutely nothing to do with anything with this song. At all. Ever. But, for whatever reason, this non-sequitur filled-song became one of the biggest summer songs in 1999. It even got a few spins on 92Q Jams in Baltimore–and not even as a joke. Eminem, as he tends to do, lampooned this song in a couplet from “Marshall Mathers.”

Chingy – “Right Thurr”

Practically for the same reasons as Sisqo’s “Thong Song,” even if Chingy actually put more thought into the lyrics. Maybe. “Gimme what you got fo’ a pork chop” raises a few eyebrows, along with “she should pose for Sports Illustrated,” considering women of Chingy’s description tend to be ignored by mainstream media and chastised. But, maybe that’s just my biased male gaze talking. Anyhow, the track also gets points off for having a chick orgasmicly moan during the chorus. It adds nothing except some uncomfortable vibes when listening to this track.

Trina – “Look Back At Me” and Khia – “My Neck, My Back”

Speaking about uncomfortable vibes, how either of these tracks got radio play is beyond me. Now, I’m all for empowered women, sexuality, and all that fun stuff. But, the lyrics to both these tracks make me giggle and shake my head more than they make me want to engage in not-safe-for-work activities. Also, goofy, demented voices telling me to do not-safe-for-work things isn’t a turn-on. And, no…I won’t post the videos here. You want to hear the songs, you seek them out. Just make sure your headphones are in–or you’re in a very liberal place in terms of gratuitous sexual content, like a strip club or the comfort of your own home. Or, you know, not at all. Ever.

Trey Songz – “Dive In” “2 Reasons”

Plus, this cover screams "alcoholic."

Plus, this cover screams “alcoholic.”

You’ll notice I chin-checked “Dive In” out of this spot because it wasn’t that bad. And the way it led into (now, my least-favorite Trigga song) “Panty Wetter” was pretty cool. “2 Reasons” gets the spot because it was completely unneeded. In 2012, every rapper, singer, producer, baby mama and so on had a “let’s get messed up and get into some stuff” track.This track replayed “Say Ah” and “Bottoms Up” with a bit more bluntness. Plus, the album version of the track, for (I guess) “maturity’s” sake, replaced “ladies and the drinks” with “the female dog word.” I’m not chastising him for his kind of off-color choice of words, but more so that, like the song itself, it wasn’t needed. Chapter V, however, was a decent album.

Mariah Carey – “We Belong Together”

Now this one, it’s more of a personal choice (my sixteen-year-old self says “Hi Treeka”) it isn’t a bad song by any means. In fact, it’s possibly one of my favorite Mariah Carey songs. However, a breakup/pining-for-your-ex/the-person-you-can’t-have song plopped right down during the onset of spring isn’t the best song to play at a barbecue in August. But it was–and immediately sucked the life out of everyone. It’s the equivalent of playing “Man in the Mirror” at a bar/club after last call. Anyone who’s ever been to R.J. Bentley’s in College Park during the years 2006 through 2012, you know what I’m talking about.

Mariah Carey – “Thirsty (feat. Rich Homie Quan and solo version)”

meandmariah

You’ll notice that, as with the “Dive In”/”2 Reasons” situation, Mariah’s newest song usurped another track. I’m going to be as nice as possible. Mariah Carey is awesome. Rich Homie Quan is cool. Hit-Boy makes epic beats (“Backseat Freestyle” was one of my favorite GKMC tracks). But, for whatever reason, putting them all on one track came up way short. The song is literally “N****s in Paris” rehashed for Mariah to trot out one of the most overused slang-originated terms this side of “thot.”

It seems that everyone’s learned the error of their ways, as the RHQ version has been all but replaced with Mariah making it all her own. Neither version does it for me, though. It comes off as almost parodic the way Mariah’s talking about some guy who’s thirsty (Mariah either has stalkers out the wazoo, or she’s one of the most conceited artists alive. This is a woman who’s had a song called “Obsessed,” which was basically “Thirsty” sans possibly lifted chorus and with Eminem sneak disses). But no doubt about it, this song will be trotted out (see what I’m doing here? No? Ah well…) as the “curve” anthem of Summer 2014. And I, for one, will be turning the channel/station/downing several shots at the club/bar when this song comes on.

At least her track with Wale is cool.

Reason number one for why you should see this installment of the Transformers series: Who wouldn’t want to see Optimus Prime riding a fire-breathing Dinobot as it rampages through war-torn city streets in an attempt to save humanity? Reason number two: Explosions! Reason number three: Mark Wahlberg. Reason number four: Because you want to see if Michael Bay takes the whole Transformers story-line any further from the cartoon and deeper into “WTF?!” territory. Reason number six: You just have to hear Optimus yell, “Audobots! Roll Out!” one more time. Well, no matter your reason, check out the trailer below and if it gives you another reason to watch, be sure to check it out in theaters on June 27th, 2014.

An automobile mechanic and his daughter make a discovery that brings down the Autobots and Decepticons – and a paranoid government official – on them.” [IMDB]

Capture

E-Mail Recipients and Smart Phone Users may view the trailer by clicking the image above

In Christopher Nolan’s latest film Matthew McConaughey gets the opportunity to save humanity by travelling Interstellar. Not too much is given up about the plot of the film in this trailer, which to me is a good thing. But, I am curious to know just how much screen time will be given to McConaughey’s interstellar journey versus time spent on character and plot development. Lest we forget about Contact, another space travel film starring McConaughey alongside Jodie Foster, that spent all of about 5-10 minutes in actual space. Needless to say, no matter the extra-planetary duration, I am highly intrigued by the sole premise that, “Mankind was born on earth. It was never meant to die here.” Interstellar premieres in theaters November 7, 2014. Check out the trailer below.

“A group of explorers make use of a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage.” [IMDB]

E-Mail Recipients and Smart Phone Users may view the trailer by clicking the image above

Live from Bethesda, Maryland. It’s This Week in Hip-Hop, hosted by The No-Fi King K.I.N.G., Speed on the Beat!!!

 

Ok, so let’s get this show on the road. I can’t believe that I missed this one, but 2 Chainz dropped a new album/mixtape (the words are so interchangeable these days, so shrug it), Freebase, recently. The above track, “Trap Back,” shows what you can expect from this collection. Unfortunately for my working people, I couldn’t embed the MTV edit of the track. So bask in its uncut glory–with headphones on, of course. Chainz dropping bars over somewhat oddity-laced beats in a way that some consider more “experimental” than before. “Trap Back” also showcases a more lax 2 Chainz than what we’ve seen in recent times. The bite’s still there, but the bark’s subdued and lends itself to more of a “let’s go get messed up and do dumb things” type of vibe. In other words, the track and most of the tape is what we’ve considered “Happy Ignorance.” While the rest of the tape is more “typical” Chainz, it’s not a bad thing.

Rick Gonzalez-Between The Stars-hnhh

In other news, rapper-turned-actor-turned-rapper Rick Gonzalez dropped a new collection (note: In lieu of the words “mixtape” and “album,” I’m going to start referring to them as “collections”) Between the Stars. It’s like a combination of Blu and J. Cole with some grimy beats. He’s got some dope bars and an ear for beats, but his flow is stilted at times. That’s a problem that I’ll always have with a lot of these non-“mainstream” rappers. They’ve got it all down pat, but the flows can be cures for insomnia. But, I mean, not everyone has to be 2 Chainz. Check it out at the link below.

Rick Gonzalez – Between The Stars

Hip-Hop Fail(s) of the Week (So Far)

In light of “that video,” I’ve decided to bring back my TWIHH Fail of the Week award. We’ve got a few to pass out this week. First, in case you haven’t heard, will.i.am got kicked out of first class on a United Airlines flight (kinda) and then ended up having a pilot request a selfie. For that, I’ve got to give a joint FotW to will.i.am and United. Why? Well, United attempted to brush the whole thing under the rug with a press release, referring to will.i.am as just “the customer.”

Our second FotW goes to Jim Jones and his “2 On” remix. Now, I rock with Jim Jones at times, but he’s showing much rust in his once-impregnable armor. I’ma let you finish, Jim, but OB OBrien and Drake have the best “2 On” remix of (possibly) all-time (at the moment). Mercifully, Jim’s remix clocks in at just under a minute.

Until next time, guys. Stay tuned for my “Worst Summer Songs” list coming soon.

SqueezeDontTease

Click Artwork Above for Full Event Details

Mark your calendars folks!

Delegation Music and Electric Squeeze join forces for a live Hip-Hop and EDM party that’s sure to keep the DMV moving ’til 2AM.

SATURDAY, JUNE 7th (9:30PM – 2:00AM)

ZEBA BAR (3423 14th St Northwest, DC)

21+|FREE

Yogi Nando, DJ DimLit (of Sounduo) and The Delegation Music Collective

Presented by Electric Squeeze

Artwork and design by LoveTagLA

Our friend R.K. Gold (Published author and all around creative being) is calling all talented poets out there in the webiverse (Web + Universe…clever huh?) to submit an original poem of their choice written by them (the submitter) for a chance to have it featured on rkgoldcreations.com. All interested poets just need to visit RKGoldCreations.com and fill in the appropriate information in the corresponding spaces.

Guidelines: All poems must be original and if published anywhere else the author must say where.

Prize: There is a weekly winner selected and the winner gets their poem featured on R.K. Gold’s website for a week (free promo opportunity folks!). Check out previous featured poems here and start submitting your talented works to get your creative writing recognized.

Become a fan of R.K. Gold on Facebook!

Photo Courtesy of RKGoldCreations.com

I’m going a different route this week. My normal “TWIHH” will return next week.

Let it be known, first and foremost, that I love lyrical music. I love being able to think on a bar or a verse and come up with several annotations on it. I enjoy learning something with the lyrics I hear. And, obviously, I love to impart wisdom through my own bars. It’s partly why I love sites like RapGenius. But, A few years ago, Waka Flocka (Flame)–now of Love and Hip-Hop Atlanta (see, it’s still kind of related to current events)–said that “nobody wanna hear that damn dictionary rap.” This interview may be a bit NSFW, so viewer discretion is advised.

 

But is he right? Do we, as artists and fans, want to hear more simplistic lyrics or something that sounds like it’s taken from a graduate school-level philosophy textbook? Do we want “smart rap” or “dumb rap?”

It’s a question I’ve thought of a lot as an artist. Let’s dissect a bit. Some of these so-called “dictionary rappers” will spit bars that are mechanically impressive, but stunted. Why? They get so wrapped up in proving their knowledge, they start to lose the audience (“intellectual” or otherwise). I’ll probably get a lot of flack for this, but a prime example of this is Canibus. While he pulls references to Greek mythology, space-time, and so on out of thin air, he doesn’t really say or do much with it outside of a simple simile–or rattle off alliterative lyrics for the sheer fact that he can. Case in point: his 2010 track “Pine Cone Poem” from C of Tranquility.

 

All in all, the song refers to an elevated state of mind, but that sometimes gets lost in his tangents. This sort of “anti-‘mainstream'” lyricism has created some great lyricists. ‘Bus, even with his flaws, is head and shoulders above some of his contemporaries. When he’s making sense with his lyrics, of course. Inversely, because so many so-called “underground” artists are quick to embrace “anti-mainstream” philosophies and approaches, we get a bunch of artists that feel that this sort of thing will get them noticed.

They’ll rattle off alliterative, multi-syllabic lyrics such as this (and these are real bars I’ve heard):

“My animalistic atrocities, rock these ‘metamorphosized’ philosophies/
Like the eye of Horus, explore this, man-made camaraderie.”

Again, it’s a nice couplet, in terms of thinking outside the box. It’s dope in regards to the wordplay and the twisting of words. But, intellectually, it doesn’t make much sense. It’s fundamentally flawed.

The Eye of Horus is representative of the “third eye,” if you believe that sort of thing. If you’re elevated mentally, you’ll not have animalistic tendencies, much less commit animalistic atrocities. Also, the belief of the Eye of Horus being representative of the “third eye” is, in itself, a man-made philosophy. It’s derived from “metamorphosized” thoughts, new age wisdom and healing, and anti-“Illuminati”/pro-awakened mind teachings and thought processes (also presented in the above Canibus song). Hell, try spitting that in a verse. You’ll possibly outrap the beat and sound incompetent. You’ll force it out and it’ll sound unnatural, flow-wise.

In other words, if you really think about some of these dictionary bars, they’re worse than a rapper that spits “ignorance.” Even if it’s not elevated or “smart”, something like: “I rock the boat…Aaliyah/Mess with me, I got the Eagle on ‘heat seaker'”still makes sense on a fundamental level.

So is “dictionary rap” or “super smart rap” bad?

Simply put, no. It’s fun and impressive to think of new, outside-the-box ways to speak your thoughts. But, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. If you sacrifice common sense for squeezing a million tangent-worthy microthoughts into a verse, you’re performing a disservice to hip-hop. If you’re focusing more on your rhyme schemes than what you want to say, you’re performing a disservice to hip-hop. If you’re an artist and you want to get on/get noticed, be sure you know the basics before you start rattling off so-called “smart rap.” If you don’t, you’ll look dumb.

As artists, we always want to make ourselves better than the people out there. But, if you lose focus of the fundamentals, you’re screwed and destined to be clowned for it. Don’t dumb down, but don’t try to be overly smart and just sound like a jacka** when it’s all said and done. It’s all about balance, people. You can be “smart” and not alienate, just like a person could spit “dumb” rap and have it so lyrically impressive.

Not too many artists have this, though. But, as always, that’s just my opinion.

Greetings, all.

Monday, I was informed by my handler over on Boi-1da.net, the lovely Erin Ashley, that Jay Z dropped a DJ Khaled song (and that we were prohibited from posting about it because of the Drake barbs, which makes absolute sense. It’d be like me posting a True God diss track on my page). But, I decided to listen to it myself. I mean, it couldn’t be that bad, right? It’s new Hov! New Hov always disgraces everything!

“They Don’t Love You No More,” featuring Jay, Meek Mill, Rick Ross, and an auto-tuned French Montana, is, to put it lightly, a cluster****.

On this one, Jay? You may need to take that L back for a little.

On this one, Jay? You may need to take that L back for a little.

I like the artists featured. Meek and Rozay usually hit on all cylinders. And many of Jay’s “dumbed down” bars usually trump what’s hot on the radio. But, the track just comes off as an attempt to recapture the catchiness and anthem nature of “Started from the Bottom.” Perhaps that’s because of the topics covered in this epic. Or, maybe it’s the fact that “SFTB” and “TDLYNM” both feature production from OVO signee and affiliate Mike Zombie.

Jay’s verse in particular stands out to me. Granted, Jay can probably end my career thrice over with the push of a button, but that doesn’t mean he gets excused for lazy couplets. Examples of such include “Got hella options, like a college team/Hit these bootleg n***** with the Heisman.” It ain’t “rocket science” Hov that we’ve grown used to, which brings me to my question.

Even though he’s still doing big things, has Jay lost (lyrically)?

Listening back to some of his latest projects, especially MCHG, he still has moments of greatness. The title track of that album still gives me goosebumps, even when I skip over Justin Timberlake’s chorus(es). But, it seems that Jay’s gotten comfortable in his crowned spot, rehashing what we’ve grown accustomed to from him (gun talk, richness, his taste in fine art, et cetera). There’s limited growth at this point, perhaps because he’s pretty much done it all.

You know how a one-hit wonder continuously tries to recapture that glory? Jay’s beginning to come off that way. But from some, he’ll forever receive a pass due to the legacy he’s created. This is kind of like the man Jay’s often compared to, Michael Jordan.

But even MJ knew when to walk away, even if he still had the fundamentals down pat.

I have all the respect in the world for Shawn Carter as a businessman and an artist. But it may be close to the time for him to walk away from the mic. But, that’s just my opinion. And like mics these days, everyone has one. 

Turk Drops a New Mixtape

Well, that’s something I didn’t think I’d say again. But, in 2014, we’ve got a new collection of tracks from Turk, The Da Real Thugga From what I’ve heard (I’ve only given it a once-through), Turk’s still got it. It is, however, kind of weird that the EP has the radio edits on it as well as the uncut versions. Be sure to check out my brother True God and the rest of #TeamDAR interview Turk over on TeamDAR Radio (accessible by clicking the logo below; interview considered NSFW). In it, he clears up the rumors of Turk dissing Young Thug among other questions.

#TeamDAR Radio Interviews Turk

#TeamDAR Radio Interviews Turk

Lil’ Jon Lives!

Lil’ Jon, your favorite crunked-out DJ/rapper/hypeman has found new life as, well, a DJ/rapper/hypeman (this time, with more of a trap-hop dubstep-influenced feel). His newest track, the “Turn Down For What?” remix, is, as a good friend of mine said, “happy ignorance.” It makes you want to just, you know, do wild and crazy stuff, but not kill everything within a ten-block radius. We need more “happy ignorance” in rap. Can we get a new album, Lil’ Jon? The streets world needs one more crunked-out tape. (Track has some NSFW lyrics, especially French Montana’s verse)

K.R.I.T. Iz Here (to climb “Mt. Olympus”)

As long-time followers of me know, I’m a big Big K.R.I.T. fan. Heck, his music inspired me to do tracks such as “Death of The King,” the title track from the upcoming Death of The King album (double shameless plug alert; NSFW as well).


So, when I heard his newest track, “Mt. Olympus,” my eyes legitimately lit up and I had the screw face on the whole time. The first single from Krizzle’s Cadillactica album, “Mt. Olympus” goes hard. And when I say it goes hard, I mean it goes hard. Considering he pretty much eviscerates “Control’s” impact on him and rap in a few bars, it’s safe to say K.R.I.T.’s not playing around. I think that these few bars sum up the feeling of the track, one where The King Remembered in Time is making sure we remember him, in spite of some listeners downplaying so-called “country rap.”:

“God could physically come down and say ‘he the greatest/
My favorite, y’all should listen, he have potential/
To outlive the heatwave I’ma send through this mother[…]/
And rebuild for a whole ‘nother other culture’/
And that wouldn’t be enough…”

(NSFW track)

Man, it’s been a busy week in hip-hop. And I didn’t even get to Lord Jamar talking about blacks and the need to buy the Clippers from Donald Sterling. Since I’m sure Mr. Sterling’s remarks will still be in the news, perhaps I can save that for next week.

 

Picture used from nbaplayoffsbracket.com

The NBA Playoffs have begun so it is time to look at the rundown of the results and what that means for the future of each series. I just want to start this post by saying the referees are terrible. They need to let the old school NBA players referee the game so it can be the playoff basketball that we love to see. The calls that were made last weekend were a mess unlike anything I have ever witnessed before. I just wanted to throw something at my TV. But let’s get to the real point of this post.

The Clippers and the Warriors played last weekend. They solidified what I wrote, that they would be best for the NBA and game one really showed why. As soon as the game started David Lee got into it with Blake Griffin. This game magnified Chris Paul’s struggle on offense and defense, and because of it I really don’t see the Clippers winning the series. Yes, Blake Griffin only played 19 minutes the entire game, but let’s be real. He is not the entire offense. They still have Jamal Crawford, JJ Redick and CP3 on the team. Free throws did not hurt them because Deandre Jordan even hit his clutch free throw. I do have to reiterate CP3 is a liability on defense. He can’t check Klay Thompson, who had him in the post the entire game. He can’t check Stephen Curry because he has to save his energy for offense. Curry ran him the entire game like he was the second coming of Reggie Miller and Richard Hamilton. If CP3 can’t get it together, the Warriors definitely have the weapons to win in seven games.

After watching the Pacers versus the Hawks I realized the Indiana Pacers are the worst team in basketball. They just didn’t want to be in the playoffs. How do you become the number one seed, let Atlanta come into your house, and easily make you look like a high school team? Roy Hibbert shot 1-4 in the first half and didn’t even show up in the second half until there were 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter. How many times do I have to sit and watch Lance Stephenson look like he does not want to play team ball anymore? How many times do I have to watch David West look passive and not shoot the ball? I saw a team that does not care and it’s sad. Coach Frank Vogul showed no passion and anger toward his team and the problems they were having. I can’t believe that he did not take his star players out of the game when they played like straight garbage. Atlanta came into Indiana like they were playing at home. I swear Jeff Teague looked unstoppable on the court. If the Pacers don’t get right on the court, they will get put out in five games. They still have to go to Atlanta and they are not that good of a road team.

The Toronto Raptors versus the Brooklyn Nets was a very interesting game. It was probably the funniest game I have ever witnessed in all my years of watching basketball. The Raptors GM yelled “F*** the Brooklyn Nets!” at the crowd outside of the game, then retracted his statement. My advice: Man, it’s the playoffs so say what you feel. The Toronto Sun’s backpage read “Raptors vs. The Dinosaurs.” I mean it just cracked me up. Paul Pierce didn’t have a great game, but oh man, did he show up in the 4th quarter and display the skills that led Shaq to start calling him, “The Truth.” He showed that they were determined to win and they want to see Miami in the playoffs. I’m not saying that the Raptors are not going to make it a good series, but the Nets are just too experienced with the veterans they have on their squad. Toronto will be a good team for years to come but they will not beat Brooklyn in this series. Brooklyn will win in six games.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BljgMAOCAAAt9R_.jpg

The Spurs versus Mavericks series is going to be great because watching Tim Duncan versus Dirk Nowitzki is always a great matchup. I can honestly say Duncan looked like he had some youth juice because he was up and down the court like he hasn’t been in the league for 15 seasons. Thank you Popovich for making sure that Duncan looked good on the court. Tony Parker got to the lane with ease the entire game and could not be stopped. He scored 16 of his 17 points in the first quarter inside the paint. Monta Ellis looked nervous and it showed. He could hardly make a bucket. He shot 4-14. Dirk was not hitting his jumpers, only scoring 14 points and Vince Carter just doesn’t look like he even cares to win. In the end the Spurs will win the series in five games.

Another great series is the Wizards versus Bulls. The passion surrounding that game is awesome. I love the way Joakim Noah played because he makes you want to scream with him. Even though Noah has intensity, he cannot check Nene. Tahj Gibson was a great player in game one grabbing offensive rebounds. The Bulls will not beat the Wizards just because John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Nene did a great job playing against that tough defense. However, Boozer does not play any defense at all so that will hurt them in the series. DJ Augustin and Kirk Hinrich tried their best to D-Up but those boys were just too big and quick for them. I believe the Bulls will lose this series in six games.

After watching the Trailblazers versus Rockets all I have to say is the Trailblazers will win this series and it will be a great run. Lamarcus Aldridge scored 46 points and Damion Lillard scored 31. That is 77 points between the both of them, and that’s not even adding in Wesley Matthews and Batum. But let’s put it out there – no one on the Rockets can check Aldridge and that’s all they need. James Harden shot 8-28 and still acted like he actually contributed to the team. Yeah, I watched Dwight Howard put up 27 points, 15 rebounds, but I also saw him shrink when they needed him. He cried the entire game because Robin Lopez stayed on him. It was great to see Robin Lopez play tight defense and get on Dwight’s nerves the whole game. I especially loved how Wesley Johnson got in James Harden’s head and made him overshoot the entire game. It will come down to the wire, but the Trailblazers will win the series in seven games and show the NBA that they should be considered contenders.

The Thunder versus Grizzles has to be the weakest series that will be on TV. Durant and Westbrook just went to work and dominated the entire time. It makes me not want to watch. Ibaka was just on a mission blocking everything in sight. He got in players faces and challenged shots. I really don’t have that much to say because the Grizzles cannot score on them. It’s Kevin Durant, what more do I have to say?

I really don’t want to talk about the Heat versus Bobcats because it is basically a waste of time. I’m not saying a waste of time like the Heat will just dominate the series. I’m saying a waste of time because everyone and they mama is a Heat fan and the NBA wants the Heat to win because it’s a business. Most of the Heat fans weren’t fans until LeBron went to the team anyway. Band-wagoners are just what they are. A true fan of the sport can see the off-things that happen, especially with the referees. The Bobcats started a run, were up 10, but the refs started with the bogus whistle blowing to get Miami back in the game like they always do. There were four straight calls that weren’t even fouls, but it sent LeBron to the line and took the momentum away from the Bobcats and everything changed from that point on. It was ok for LeBron and company to run and dip their shoulders into the defender to get the foul. AMAZING! They might as well just put Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals and let everyone else fight to get there.

The Playoffs this year will make for some good entertainment, with the exception of a few series’. We will see the referees tame down some of the points in the games that can be great momentum changes. I look forward to seeing who will make it to the Finals this NBA season. We have just barely scratched the surface thus far.

Image  —  Posted: April 25, 2014 by authorjcopeland in Sports
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Greetings, all.

So, after last week’s WCW-influenced cluster-you-know-what, let’s switch some gears here.

August Alsina’s proper debut Testimony dropped this week. To be honest, I’d somewhat forgotten about Alsina’s ghetto gospel-tinged tracks since “I Luv This S***” didn’t get as much play as I thought it would thought that his style was a bit too gritty for R&B. I mean, Tha Product 2 was a beautiful mix of real life themes and hip-hop-based bravado. It’s like someone took The Weeknd’s honesty, took the “fun” from it and added in the story of, for instance, a Yo Gotti (who Alsina worked with, coincidentally enough, on Testimony). So, I put Alsina on the back-burner, because as much as I looked forward to his full-length debut, I feared it. Why? Well, tell me the last time an R&B album that wasn’t really a traditional R&B album, but instead steeped in hip-hop, came out as well as it should have.

And no, Kiss Land doesn’t count. That album was on another level. Plus, it wasn’t exactly “steeped in hip-hop.”

Testimony begins with “Testify,” an atonement of sorts. It sets the mood for the album (so-called real n**** s***” sung over strip-club-friendly production) and acts as Alsina’s “Dreams and Nightmares” intro. But, after lofty expectations from the intro, the album stays in neutral for a lot of the sixty-one-or-so minutes it exists. It doesn’t steer too far from familiar topics and doesn’t really offer that much more insight into this young man’s life. Essentially, if you’ve heard Tha Product or its sequel you’ll have heard this album. That’s not to say it’s not worth a listen. It’s a solid full-length debut and he’s improving in his songwriting…and not relying on four-letter-words to get his point across all the time. Just don’t expect anything “brand new.” I still recommend you check it out though, especially the Pusha T-assisted “FML.”

(Album stream is the edited deluxe version on Spotify.)

 

On another note, of course, it’s the 20-year-anniversary of Illmatic, the GAWD CD. I’ve nothing to say about this except, if you’ve never heard this CD and call yourself a rap fan, I feel ashamed for you and your family. The XX edition features some remixes of the original album (mainly three remixes of “It Ain’t Hard To Tell”) and is pretty cool to see this CD hasn’t exactly aged horribly, as even the boombap feel has started to come back (thank you Joey Bada$$ and more). I think it’s safe to say that Nas has not–and will not–lose with this one. If you put out an album that’s still heralded as a classic twenty years later–and still inspires artists to drop some bars (shameless plug), you win.

(Album stream below is NSFW; edited version not available on Spotify at the moment)

 

To stream Future’s new album Honest courtesy of MTV.com simply click the album cover art below. Unfortunately it is unsafe for listening on your office speakers, so you may want to plug those headphones in if you’re at work. The album is surprisingly good. Although, as with Alsina’s album there isn’t much new ground broken, but it keeps you intrigued. I mentioned this on Twitter, but Future’s Dungeon Family heritage is starting to shine through with this one, as it’s a great mix between turn-up anthems, lover-man Auto-Tune rap-sung songs (although “I Won” is a bit too pandering for my taste) and hood stories. In some ways, it complements Alsina’s Testimony perfectly, as one tells the story of the young man trying to make it (Testimony), the other tells the story of the older man who’s already made it, but still sees the world as ripe for the picking (Honest).

vibe-future-honest-cover

Wow, three thumbs up in one week. Either I’m losing my touch or music’s starting to just get better.

Until next time.

-Speed on the Beat