Thursday, July 31, 2014

The 80's

As you will learn, if you haven't already, I have an affinity for history. Within that I'm always curious of not only what happened but why it happened which tells us why the present is the way it is. In all of the history classes I've taken, I was most focused when it came to more modern times, namely the 80's and 90's.

I can rant on and on about that so let's just cut to the chase.

I wanted to do something, and since this is my blog, I'm entitled to do whatever I want, correct? I wanted to take you guys through the 1980's, one of the more influential decades of the modern era.

No, I'm not an '80's baby', in fact I wasn't born until the mid-90's, between a MJ retirement, the establishment of the World Trade Organization, and.....the OKC Bombings. By the way, me and my parents stayed a little over an hour away from where they took place, just a little fact.

The 80's paved the way for things like sneaker commercials, modern fashion, the internet, modern space shuttles, economic prosperity, and landmark changes in the music industry. The 1980's is also notoriously known for it's war with drugs.

Okay, I don't want to tell too much, but what I will tell you is this:

Over the next few days, I'll be giving you a look into the 1980's ranging from pop culture, to drug use, to Reaganomics, sports, fashion and entertainment, and whatever else I think will pick my interest and yours alike.

If time permits, I'll probably shell out multiple topics a day, which is something I'd like to do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Creatures of Habit, we hate Change

Humans, as we've been for x amount of years have shown that we are creatures of habit. We humans find it comfortable for something such as our daily routines to never change, if we can help it. We find comfort in regularity. Unordinary happenings seem foreign to us, once they happen we're shaken up, scratching our heads while subconsciously wondering what to do next. 

Humans do not like change, it's simple. Change is inconvenient for us. Inevitably though, change is ever-constant. Honestly, change is the only constant force. We usually find it tough to embrace something that throws our whole mindsets off.

Change is dangerous. 

Change is scary.

Change is really uncertain.

Humans are autonomous creatures, and change throws off our autonomous way of life. Change makes us feel like there is a chance we can lose control over our territories. 

Change=Something different (duh). The fact that it is something different doesn't agree with the fact that we are as said, creatures of habit. When you are used to a routine way of doing something, the actions in which you take to execute that routine becomes automatic. The routine I used to get ready for school before college was always constant. Every one has hopefully been to school at some point in your lives, right? If so, you should feel me. Anyway, when I got to college, my schedule was different, and it took some major adjusting. Everything basically had to be done quicker, well that's probably because I slept for as long as possible (those twin sized beds start to feel good). So maybe I can throw out that example. Anyway, you feel where I'm coming from.

Our environments tend to hold us back as well. One can't truly be a positive person routinely hanging out with negative people, correct? 

People tend to have a preference for things that have been around longer, thus increasing its reliability and who doesn't love reliability? 

I see you trying to find something or someone who you deem as unreliable, stop. It isn't that deep.

When the longevity of your routine, or habit outweighs any alternatives, why alternate, right? If it's not broken, why break it? Right?

We're too scared of change, we're a bunch of Courage the Cowardly Dogs.

The real problem is that we don't know how to change WITH change. We're so obsessed with doing something that works that stepping into a realm of unfamiliarity just seems like instant failure.

To me, to accept change, it's more to it than embracing it. It's also about wanting to try something new and unfamiliar. We are so not versatile. 


We are all victims.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The State of Hip-Hop x @CamStizzy

As you can see in one of my older post, I made it clear that I have a love for hip hop (although I said rap).

Anyway...

Me and my brother, Cam decided to share our thoughts on the state of Hip-Hop a very influential subculture and genre of music.

When I say influential, I mean...influential. Hip-Hop is more than music. Like I said, Hip-Hop is really a 'culture'. HIP-HOP HAS DEFINITELY UPLIFTED AMERICA. Hip Hop has provided a platform for MCs and rappers to express their opinions about society, the government and the treatment of African Americans in America for decades, mostly the rappers synonymous to the community itself.

Lately though, I feel as though hip-hop has been watered down by artists who simply appeal to the masses with "dope beats" and no substance.

Amid of all that, hip-hop is still (as I said), the most influential genre of music. It's artists are sometimes the center of attention in the entertainment realm of the world. Hip-hop isn't what it used to be and it's artists aren't on par with artists of yesterday.

Let me tell you now, I love 80s & 90s Hip-Hop! The varying styles, the dope lyrics, the rap beef, everything. The culture back then was so fresh and vibrant.

Rappers in groups such as A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, De La Soul, & NWA added their own individual flavor to records.

Artists nowadays have became.......derivative. Originality has gone lacking.

Well..somewhat.

Don't get me wrong, there are guys with unique styles.

Listen to a Danny Brown tape. Listen to a Chance the Rapper tape.

Odd Future's style? It's fresh, original, it's also weird honestly. I appreciate it though.

Kendrick Lamar can switch his flow as needed.

& Kanye West is by far the most unpredictable artist of them all.

So there has been innovation, and the standard of what lyricism is--is increasing.

There has always been an influx of "wack rappers", and I feel as though there will always be. Fans must understand that.

Speaking of fans, as Cam will later tell you. Well, i'll let him tell you about the fans (lol). Too many closed minded fans in my opinion. But like I said, Cam got you guys with that!

What i'm really trying to say is: The current state and future of Hip-Hop looks.........iffy to me. There are definitely some things to take into consideration and be proud about if you're an avid fan of the subculture.

This isn't a new Golden Age, like the 80s and 90s.

But Hip-Hop is under a cultural renaissance, if you will.

Hip-Hop is more versatile than ever. The newfound versatility of the culture is what interests more people. You cannot disagree with that.

Everything suffers an evolution, fans cannot expect what they liked about the past to be around today. The genre, the subculture, it isn't meant to be static.

-Caslee





For a long time, I hated the state of hip-hop. Only in the last 3-4 years have I really seen any change I’ve wanted to see. In the last 2 years, the things I look for in hip-hop (quality lyricism, innovation, collaboration, competition, varied production styles) have really come back to the scene like I hoped. So, I guess you could say I’m somewhat happy with the current state of hip-hop. It’s not perfect. It’s actually very, very far from perfect. But you have to realize something: hip-hop has never been perfect.

There’s always been good and bad sides of hip-hop. I don’t care what anyone tells you. Do your research fam, lol. I promise you, back in the 80s and 90s there were terrible rappers. When you turned on the radio, you heard DMX. You heard Rakim. You heard Nas. You heard RZA, GZA, Raekwon The Chef, Method Man, Ol’ Dirty, and the rest of The Wu. At the same time, you heard trash rappers like Northern State, Rappin’ Duke, and Dee Dee King. You know why they’re not remembered? Because they sucked. Simple as that. The only difference with today is that trash rappers have been popular for so long now it’s the norm. So many people have never heard quality hip-hop they don’t know what quality is. They don’t care about lyrics. All they care about is having something with a “good” beat that they can dance to, which is what’s wrong with hip-hop.

Casual fans? I understand them not caring about the craft of hip-hop. At the end of the day, it doesn’t mean that much to them. But legit hip-hop fans? Self proclaimed hip-hop heads? Nah, that’s a problem. How can you attach yourself to and consider yourself a representation of this culture and not care about the qualities that make it what it is? So I guess you could say fans of hip-hop have played a large role in the way hip-hop has changed. For better and worse. While a lot of trash is still very prevalent, fans of artists that make good quality hip-hop have definitely grinded to get their favorite artist’s music to the masses. Artists like J. Cole and his Dreamville crew, Kendrick Lamar, Ab-Soul, and everybody at TDE, Big K.R.I.T., Chance The Rapper, Drake (in the beginning of his career), and many other artists have gained much popularity due to their fans doing everything possible to get their name out there.

I love the fact that hip-hop isn’t as regionalized anymore. I love that I can listen to a track and not exactly know from the jump where the artist or producer is from. Sure, you can hear little things in the production, or an artist has an accent or uses certain slang or jargon that lets you know where they’re from, but other than that, its not jarringly obvious anymore. At least not in my eyes.

The sole gripe I have with hip-hop today is the fact that very few rappers genuinely love this culture and love the art of rapping. Even with so many legit ARTISTS, so many others do it just for the money, or the fame, or whatever else they can get out of it. Nobody cares about the culture. Nobody cares about the craft. I hate that. But luckily, those artists are slowly being weeded out of limelight, and those that care are getting shine.

Like I stated earlier, hip-hop is in a far better place than it’s been in a while. For that, I am grateful. It could be worse. It’ll never be perfect, and I’m fine with that. Up until the last decade or so, there’s always been a happy medium. Maybe one day we’ll reach that point soon. Some say due to the influx of quality rappers a new Golden Age is upon us. Now that? I don’t know. It’s possible, but we’re years from that. With the way were going, we’ll get there eventually.

-Cam

Look out for other upcoming collabs from us. Check out his blog right here.

New Music: Big K.R.I.T. - Pay Attention (feat. Rico Love)

Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T came through and released the debut single entitled “Pay Attention” from his sophomore album. K.R.I.T. is set to release the album, “Cadillactica” August 25th. I’m pumped for it! Listen to it here, featuring a smooth hook from singer Rico Love.


Big K.R.I.T. – Pay Attention (feat. Rico Love)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Rap Songs That Taught us Valuable Lessons

I love and appreciate my iTunes library.

I especially appreciate my rap collection.

It ranges from Run DMC to Eric B. & Rakim to Eminem to Jay-Z to Nas to Kanye West to Kendrick Lamar and others to name a snippet. I also appreciate the lesser known artists that house tons of talent.

My parents used to get on me about my hardcore songs that I still to this day play loud enough so that the whole house can vibe to if they wanted. They no longer heckle me about my music choices, though. In fact, I feel as though they've developed an appreciation for this new age rap that they especially aren't used to.

Rap music isn't just about killing, stealing, disrespecting women, and doing other illegal things. Rap music can teach us lessons, whether you've taken their advice or not, it's there. Rap is much more than a scapegoat. Don't believe me? Here's just a few songs that tried to teach us various things about life.

Outkast's collaboration with Goodie Mob in Git Up, Get Out taught us exactly what Cee-Lo was conveying in the chorus. We all need to get up, get out and do something with our lives, if not the days will pass us by, especially if we don't try. Life isn't smoking weed all day.

Eminem's Stan taught us not to stress over unread or tardily read mail. Don't kill yourself over something simple as that. It's not that deep.

Big L told us in Street Struck about what us young folks, including himself could be and would rather do than be successful and get a life because we're simply infatuated with the streets. "Cause being street struck'll get you nothin' but a bullet and jail time".

NWA, explicitly Ice Cube taught....well, tried to teach us men to not let a female get the best of us, especially for our money in I Ain't The One. Don't get juiced, word to Ice Cube.

Gang Starr taught us that being a criminal isn't gonna make you feel cool in the end in Just to Get a Rep. Guru said "Basically, it’s just a description of real life. It goes on everywhere, out here and back on the East Coast. It’s a situation where the young people are living for today: gotta get money, gotta get material things right now. You know, scheming on one another. So we just painted a picture and tried to make it as real as possible. And the listener can make his own conclusions from the picture we’ve painted".

Snoop Dogg taught us in It Ain't No Fun, that it's simply no fun if the homies can't have none, listen to the song, the lesson is in the chorus. I don't condone this type of behavior, but hey, Snoop and crew tried to tell us how to do so!

Love's Gonna Get'Cha (Material Love) by Boogie Down Productions taught us about the dangers of materialism.

Snoop Dogg's Gin and Juice taught us that there's always someone that wants something, but never wants to chip in to get it! I hate that! Freeloaders man!

Nas' One Mic taught us, along with a few more things that you only need one of something, one quality piece of everything. Less is more. Quality over quantity. 

Biggie had everybody trying to rap his first verse of Juicy, but the message was simple, dream you can do it, and it can be done. 

Biggie also taught us that Mo Money just brings us Mo Problems. No matter what though, never change. 

2Pac taught us that chivalry isn't dead (men just scared) in How Do You Want It?

Dre and Snoop tried to tell us to never sleep on anyone; don't put anything past anyone in Nuttin' But A G Thang. Do what it takes to stay on top or else you'll be dethroned.

Cam'ron and others let us know that making up words mid-song was totally acceptable. 

Lil Wayne honestly taught us everything imaginable, how to make it "Wayne", and he taught us that the letter the "F" in his moniker could really stand for anything. I could make a whole post on the teachings of Lil Wayne. 

But at the end of the day, in Dear Mama 2Pac reiterated that if no one has your back unconditionally, your mom will forever be there. I know my mom will do anything in her power for me, even if I didn't deserve it. I'm forever indebted.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NFL: Power Rankings to Start Training Camp



The 95th season for the National Football League will kickoff Sept. 4th as the defending Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks will face Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers.

However, training camp is about to be in full swing so I think it's time to throw my "a little early" NFL Power Rankings out there.

I'm not a biased NFL fan as my team is the New England Patriots. I'll be fair with you guys even though I think they'll perform well this season. 

Here we go!


Rank
                 Team
               Description
          Move

1


     
Seattle Seahawks
It's only right that the defending champs are number one, right? There's no reason why anyone else should top this list. 
(-)

2

San Francisco 49ers
The pressure is on Colin Kaepernick to live up to his mega deal. Recent similar deals to fellow QBs haven't paid much dividends (I see you Flacco, Romo). The 9ers have improved on both sides of the ball, but if Aldon Smith can't stay out of trouble coupled with fellow All-Pro Linebacker Navarro Bowman's ACL injury, the defense may be looking for people to step up very early. This team still is the biggest challenge to the Seahawks for Kings of the NFC West and the conference as a whole. 
(-)

3

Denver Broncos
The Broncos will always be competitive with reigning MVP Peyton Manning at the helm. Their defense has improved with additions such as DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, and TJ Ward. I feel as though the defensive side of the ball needed that injection of veteran talent to balance the firepower of a Manning lead offense. OMAHA!
(-)

4

New England Patriots
Winners of the last 10 of 11 division crowns, the Patriots train will continue to move steadily. Who says QB Tom Brady has lost a step? The top 10 defense of a year ago is back and better than ever with key additions of All-Pro CB Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. A constant threat to win the Super Bowl, Brady will still play at an elite level, hopefully he'll have a bit more help.
(-)

5

New Orleans Saints
Though they were dethroned at the top of the NFC South this past season, this team, lead by QB Drew Brees always finds a way to contend for a championship. The Saints will once again be dangerous. I'm going on a limb and saying that they will reclaim their division title. 
(-)

6

Green Bay Packers
The Packers offense will be fine. Aaron Rodgers is at quarterback and that's all that matters. The question is, how will the defense that ranked near the bottom in total yards allowed perform after minor improvements outside of the addition of Julius Peppers were made? 
(-)

7

Kansas City Chiefs
From worst to...2nd? A 9 game improvement for the Chiefs under Andy Reid wasn't a fluke. Or was it? The Chiefs defense will be great again, and an offense lead by Jamaal Charles will be exciting to watch. Hopefully that bad taste of their 28 point meltdown in last year's Wildcard round has disappeared. C'mon, you let Andrew Luck pick up a fumble on the goal line?  
(-)

8

Chicago Bears
Jay Cutler has the luxury of throwing the ball to the best WR duo in the league (Marshall and Jeffery) and Matt Forte will continue to produce at an elite level. The question is, how will the defense play? Questioning the abilities of the defense is something rarely done when mentioning the Bears. The departure of Julius Peppers will hurt them the most.             
(-)

9

Cincinnati Bengals
Andy Dalton cannot be mediocre again if the Bengals want to succeed. Marvin Lewis has to find a way to shake the monkey of playoff woes off of his back. New offensive coordinator Hue Jackson has to put Dalton and co. in position to produce, especially if the Bengals are looking to give Dalton that Colin Kaepernick money. The defense is primed to perform well again lead by guys like Vontaze Burfict and Leon Hall.   
(-)

10

Philadelphia Eagles
The Chip Kelly experiment was a successful one. Nick Foles is at the helm for his first full season at quarterback, but the departure of WR DeSean Jackson will force some unproven wideout to perform at a sufficient level. Will the Eagles duplicate their top 5 offense -- or better? 
(-)

11

San Diego Chargers
QB Phillip Rivers found the fountain of youth last season and got back to an elite level of football after what turned out to be a rough last couple years of his career. The Chargers secondary was heavily revamped with additions of Pro Bowl CB Brandon Flowers, and rookie Jason Verrett. Watch out for the Chargers this season.                            
(-)

12

Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are faced with proving that a 10-6 season in the brutal NFC West was not a fluke. The Cardinals are young and deep and I feel as though they go as far as their young talent takes them. Surprising I didn't say Larry Fitzgerald huh? Well that's because Fitz is going to be Fitz, regardless.  
(-)

13

Baltimore Ravens
How will former Super Bowl winning QB Joe Flacco respond to new Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's system? Will the Ravens offense let Ray Rice show that he hasn't lost a step? 
(-)

14

Indianapolis Colts
Quarterback Andrew Luck hides a lot of issues that this team has on the defensive side of the ball. It's going to be interesting how the loss of Robert Mathis (4-game suspension) will affect the Colts. 
(-)

15

Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers have been up and down since they last captured the Lombardi trophy a few seasons ago. They are forever riddled with injuries and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger takes a beating every season. If Roethlisberger is afforded more time to at least breathe in the pocket, the Steelers offense will be fine. Key departures on defense give us something to keep an eye on.   
(-)

16

Detroit Lions
The Lions will definitely put points on the board but their porous secondary has to help keep opposing offenses off of the board as well.  
(-)

17

St. Louis Rams
WOW! Every team in the NFC West cracking the top 20? The division's last place team finished a game under .500. The defense will be fine. This also could be Sam Bradford's last chance to prove he's a viable option at quarterback for the Rams.                            
(-)

18

Carolina Panthers
The Panthers definitely will compete again this year. What the Panthers will not be, though, is 12-4. The loss of Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell gives the Panthers tons of questions on offense.  
(-)

19

New York Giants
This offseason marked a major roster overhaul for the Giants. Eli Manning will be playing in a new system this year and he has to cut down on turnovers for the Giants to be successful. 
(-)

20

Washington Redskins
Offense is new Head Coach Jay Gruden's area of expertise. They added WR DeSean Jackson who is coming off a career year and Alfred Morris is still carrying the rock. The Redskins are looking forward to third-year quarterback Robert Griffin III to give them the successes his rookie season brought them -- or more. With all of that said, hopefully the Redskins can be explosive and fun to watch on offense. The defense once again may be problematic, though.                                     
(-)

21

Dallas Cowboys
A healthy Tony Romo should be enough for Dallas to compete, right? Wrong. Their defense is nearly decimated and the Cowboys have to hope DeMarco Murray stays healthy to take pressure off of the Romo and the passing game. 
(-)

22

Atlanta Falcons
Don't be phased by the injury riddled 4-12 season for the Atlanta Falcons. Matt Ryan will have most of his weapons back this season, minus future Hall of Fame TE Tony Gonzalez. The defense, however, will be faced with many questions.                       
(-)

23

New York Jets
The Jets defense will always keep them as a team to watch. They have a few questions on offense, though. Is Geno Smith the answer at quarterback, or might it be Michael Vick? Will Chris Johnson be productive? Amid these questions, Rex Ryan still thinks his team is playoff ready.       
(-)

24

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New regimes usually mean new quarterbacks. New Head Coach Lovie Smith has brought in QB Josh McCown who many think will overtake incumbent Mike Glennon's job. I'm sure Glennon has something to say about that. The Bucs are looking more impressive every season, they are loaded with young talent and they've added a few nice pieces to give them a chance to compete in the NFC South.   
(-)

25

Tennessee Titans
New Head Coach Ken Wisenhunt knows a thing or two about what it takes to be successful. He took his old team, the Arizona Cardinals to the Super Bowl a few years ago. Wisenhunt loves quarterback Jake Locker. Who knows how good a fully healthy Jake Locker can be in Wisenhunt's offense, who by the way has one of the better offensive minds in the league.             
(-)

26

Miami Dolphins
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill is becoming stagnant in progress, and he could be in for another tough year. The offensive line was problematic for the Dolphins last season and they are probably going to lose star Center Mike Pouncey for the season due to injury. The defense will turn a few heads; they are still a solid unit. Too many question marks have the Dolphins opening up training camp near the bottom of these rankings.                                    
(-)

27

Minnesota Vikings
Hey Mike Zimmer (new Head Coach), my question is how long will it take you guys to stick rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater under center; into the fire?                    
(-)

28

Houston Texans
Another team, another quarterback issue. Many people were shocked that it took the team until the fourth round to select a signal-caller. The Texans defense will be a solid unit but there are way too many question for this Texans offense. Hopefully new Head Coach Bill O'Brien will prove some people wrong.    
(-)

29

Cleveland Browns
This season will be about when Johnny Manziel gets on the field. Since he's unproven and loaded with talent like past Cleveland Browns quarterbacks, there's no telling if he'll end up just like the rest of them, failures. I'm hoping not.                      
(-)

30

Buffalo Bills
The Bills have made strides to compete in the AFC, and quarterback EJ Manuel has a new toy in his yard to play with, WR Sammy Watkins. The defense will make the Bills competitive and able to pull out a few games when their offense goes lacking. Still yet, that isn't the makings of a playoff team.     
(-)

31

Oakland Raiders
A lot of roster turnover for the Oakland Raiders this offseason on both sides of the ball. How will new quarterback Matt Schaub perform? The defense added some nice veteran pieces but the Raiders are a team who I think is playing for 2015 with the mindset of "whatever happens, happens", because honestly, the Raiders can surprise many a people.      
(-)

32

Jacksonville Jaguars
Dear Jacksonville Jaguars, 

Please Jacksonville, don't throw Blake Bortles into the fire with this squad, play for 2015. Please let Chad Henne be a bridge quarterback. 

P.S. When will Justin Blackmon play a whole season?

Signed,

All those Jacksonville Jaguars fans.  
(-)