Thursday, April 28, 2011
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
This started as a joke between my friends and I a while back, trying to match baseball teams to bands. I got through about 14 teams before I said “screw it, I’m sick of pretending like the Washington Nationals and Flaming Lips have anything in common.” Clearly, they don’t. But, I did find this exercise was a ton more fun when I swapped out “bands” for hip-hop acts. Sometimes, the artist reps the city from which the team hails, sometimes they don’t. Ladies and gentlemen, The Source proudly presents: Baseball teams as rappers.
Baltimore Orioles (P-Diddy) – Man, if only it were 1997 again. Does this make the Jeffrey Maier catch the baseball equivalent of when Biggie got shot? I mean, the Orioles could have built an empire, but another legend in the same vein emerged to dominate the East Coast rap landscape in years to come.
Boston Red Sox (Eminem) – Disproportionate percentage of female and white fans. Extremely loud and overbearing, but often with skills and budget to match. Was, at one point, the most outsized and recognizable face in the industry, now settling uneasily back into past-its-prime adequacy.
New York Yankees (Jay-Z) - The Ruler. The HOVA. Bazillions of platinum albums. Media empire. Mogul. Riches. Beyonce. Single after hit single. Empire State of Mind. Emerged in the late 90s to dominate the game for the next decade.
Tampa Bay Rays (Drake) – In the vein of Lil Wayne (see: Twins, Minnesota), protege finds crossover niche with some Young Money. Small market, but big breakout success in 2008.
Toronto Blue Jays (K-Os) – Eclectic skills mixing throwback sensibilities with futuristic production. Canada’s lone recognizable entity, but could leave, relocate, re-distribute and would be infinitely moreso (and, more successful, one would think).
Chicago White Sox (Lil Jon) - Loud, crunk, circus-like atmosphere creates a cacophonous mess of a cottage industry which, despite only ruling the city for a brief period, cranks out hits, though one always gets the feeling the gravy train will end soon. (Ahem, Ozzie.)
Cleveland Indians (Cypress Hill) - Stormed the scene in the early-to-mid-90s with manic, fast energy and quality skills. Since then has vanished in a cloud of smoke.
Detroit Tigers (LL Cool J) - Decent skill, big budget, but still impossible to be taken seriously.
Kansas City Royals (KRS-One) - Awesome in the 80s. Completely irrelevant since.
Minnesota Twins (Lil Wayne) – Critically acclaimed, Minnesota slowly built a staggering, slow-burning empire and became a model for other similarly-styled franchises (see: Rays, Tampa Bay).
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (Snoop Dogg) - Gradually overtook LA from Dre (see: Dodgers, Los Angeles), as the lil’ brother eventually became the ruling body. Relaxed pace, quiet excellence, chill as all hell, still delivering the goods year after year.
Oakland Athletics (Common) – So cerebral, sometimes the ambition out-thinks the talent. Small levels of success most of the time, but consistently retooling the sound.
Seattle Mariners (Jurassic 5) - 2001 was a hell of a year, and showed a lot of promise. Team’s been trying the same thing since, and that recipe’s helped them fade into oblivion.
Texas Rangers (Talib Kweli) - Hyped every year as a great force “on paper”, often undone by glaring inconsistencies, distraction or gaping holes in production. Then, last year, they dropped their most consistent and praised work to date, teaming once again with an old friend (DJ Hi-Tek / Nolan Ryan).
Atlanta Braves (Wu-Tang Clan) - At one point in the 90s, was the greatest collection of fire-spittin’ talent the world had yet seen, with three hall-of-famers and several others who’d go on to carve out solid careers. That said, only one incredible peak (Enter the 36 Chambers / 1995 World Series) leads one to label them “underachievers.”
Florida Marlins (Pitbull) – Predominantly Hispanic fan base. By the time most hear the tracks, though, nobody’s really sure who dropped ‘em or when they came out, because every 3-4 years or so, the sound overhauls itself.
New York Mets (Nas) – Jay-Z rules New York. Nas is a distant second, and hasn’t done jack worth writing home about in forever. Still riding cache off one crowning moment (1986 World Series, Illmatic).
Philadelphia Phillies (Kanye West) – Absolutely ruled the last half of the 2000′s, and this year riding a surge in notoriety, following an unthinkable mash-up of skills and craftsmanship that bent the rules of the game, and could wind up changing it forever.
Washington Nationals (Master P and the No Limit All-Stars) - Incredibly, there was once a time when it appeared this team would soar to great heights (1994 strike-shortened year), and then all the talent went elsewhere and the label folded and nobody even remembers them now.
Chicago Cubs (Ludacris) – The de-facto face of the city, and a long-time staple of it. Showed promise at the turn of the millennium, Peaked in 2003 by nearly reaching the very top of the game, but then dissolved and in ill-fated attempts to patch together hasty re-creations of that magic, fans seem to romanticize the idea of each more than either giving the fans something worth savoring.
Cincinnati Reds (Public Enemy) - The OG franchise (baseball’s longest-running current act.) 1990 was an incredible year. Early on in the game, they brought the noise. Then the noise left. Experiencing a current resurgence in popularity (on a smaller scale) by a new generation nostalgic for good ol’ days.
Houston Astros (Mike Jones) - There was once a time a while back when you could say “Mike who?” And everyone knew you meant “The ‘Stros!” Now, there’s simply silence after “Who?”
Milwaukee Brewers (Xzibit) - Had to give it up to the MC who brought us more hot tracks about drinking than anyone, repping the team named after those specialize in making it.
Pittsburgh Pirates (Easy-E) - Both have been dead for the past 17 years.
St. Louis Cardinals (Nelly) - Like Ludacris and ATL, Nelly is the defacto face of STL. Both peaked around the same time, and sustained excellence in the first half of this decade. And, like the Cardinals, nobody really HATES Nelly. This is the team you’d even let your mama like. Even Luda fans, despite the stark contrast between the two MCs, give props in a polite fashion.
Arizona Diamondbacks (DMX) – In jail? Still making records? Still playing? Still traveling the country? Nobody can answer this. But, for one brief shining moment around the turn of the millennium, this was the gold standard. How far the mighty have fallen.
Colorado Rockies (Outkast) – Always a fun place to turn when you want entertainment value, it wasn’t until recently, when the more eccentric aspects of the group (Andre 3000 / BALLS FLYING OUT OF THE PARK ALL THE TIME) were tapered or eliminated, by departure or by humidor, that we realized we longed for them to return and took them for granted.
Los Angeles Dodgers (Dr. Dre) – At one point, the definitive king of the West Coast. Still waiting for that next follow-up to The Chronic, or that 1988 World Series title. Doesn’t look good.
San Diego Padres (Mos Def) – In 1998-99, there was little bigger than “Black on Both Sides” or the Padres wrestling the non-commercial crown away from Wu-Tang and standing nearly equal with Jay-Z. But, long periods of inactivity caused the fans to drift. And, although they’re still respected, there’s just more active, shiny new objects out there to devote attention. Like, you know, the coast.
San Francisco Giants (The Roots) - Hyped group, adored by white people, that did things its own way and was quite successful in their “experimental” phase (Phrenology / 2002 World Series when Bonds, ahem, “experimented” with Steroids), but has quietly settled into a night-in, night-out groove and in 2007 moved from Bonds to Fallon. Last year, with little expected of them, they achieved a new pinnacle of success.
Monday, April 18, 2011
In Combs’s own words, referencing his financial success, “I take pride in [building] something as a black man that’s worth that much . . . It shows the power of hip hop.” Indeed, Combs’s achievements are truly a testament to the staying power and broad global and corporate appeal of hip hop.
Diddy and Jay-Z are seeking to join Tiger Woods in the rarefied air of the billionaire. Woods was the first athlete in history to reach this milestone, based primarily on endorsements and prize winnings. Woods' accomplishment as the first billionaire athlete occurred prior to the scandals that have beset him of late.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Sunday, April 3, 2011
Conference (April 13): Roots and Reality II: Hip Hop, Law, and Social Justice Organizing at Washington College of Law at American University
10:00-10:05 WCL Founders' Celebration and RRII Welcome RRII Student Planning Committee Member
10:10-10:20 Opening Address
Professor of Law, West Virginia University College of Law
Editor, Evolution of Street Knowledge: Hip Hop Law Anthology
10:25-10:45 Presentations 'All of the Lights': Life and Law in the DMV Slam! Winners *
Presenter: Dennis Williams, H.B.O. Corporate Responsibility and Slam! MC,
Skim, hip hop artist, Def Poetry Jam poet, activist and artist
10:45-11:40 Town Hall Meeting: Law(lessness) and (In)Justice in Hip Hop Music and the Hip Hop Nation
Moderator: Rosa Clemente, Hip Hop Activist, Former Candidate for Vice President (GP 08).
11:45-11:50 Performance – 'All of the Lights': Life and Law in the DMV Slam! 3rd Place Winner*
11:55-12:20 Address and Presentation
Paul Butler, Dean and Professor of Law, George Washington Law
Film Screening and Discussion
2:00-2:05 Performance – 'All of the Lights': Life and Law in the DMV Slam! 2nd Place Winner*
2:20-3:30 Hip Hop Legal Theory Panel: Hip Hop Nation in the Law School Classroom
Camille Nelson, Dean, Suffolk University Law School
Anthony Farley, James Campbell Matthews Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence, Albany Law School
3:35-3:40 Performance 'All of the Lights' 1st Place Winner*
3:45-5:00 “On to the Next” Roundtable
Topic: Hip Hop in the Grassroots: Art, Politics Organizing and Activism
Rosa Clemente, Hip Hop Activist Former Vice Presidential Candidate (Invited)
Mazi Mutafa, Executive Director, Words Beats and Life 'All of the Lights': Life and Law in the DMV 1st place winner*
Skim, hip hop/spoken word artist, activist
Head Roc, hip hop artist, activist, advocate for DC Statehood/Green Party and DC City Paper Columnist
Part III Symposium Dinner and Keynote Address
5:10-6:30 Roots and Reality II Symposium Dinner: Social Justice Organizing and Mentoring in the Juvenile Justice System
R. Dwayne Betts, Keynote Address
National Spokesperson for Campaign for Youth
2010 Soros Justice Fellow
Cave Canem Fellow
2010 Winner of NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Debut for his memoir, A Question of Freedom