LeBron James Is Done Competing With Ghosts

Let’s finally put to bed all of these debates and conversations about whether or not LeBron James is an all-time great. He is there, he is one of “them”. Who is “them”? Jordan, Magic, Kareem, Bird, Kobe; those “them”. The elites. LeBron is an all-time great, a legend, an icon.  Last season he reached the peak of his prime and he should have about 2 or 3 more years at the peak of his prime. So, we should just book him for at least 2 more fittings with a jeweler for at least 2 more NBA Championship rings.

lebron-james-game-7-pacers-595x415It pains me to have to be the one to bring the rest of the world to this realization since I am a die hard Bulls fan and not only do I hope my Bulls dethrone LeBron and the Miami Heat but I do not like the idea of LeBron (or anyone for that matter) being in the discussion of being “the greatest of all-time” with Michael Jeffrey Jordan. But LeBron is. LeBron is very much so in that discussion, he is 29 years old with 2 rings, 4 MVPs, and he’s the biggest freak of nature in American sports since Jackie Robinson.

It is silly to compare Michael Jordan and LeBron James, they play different positions, they have different styles, and they are from two completely different eras. The league was more physical in Michael Jordan’s era because he faced some of the greatest centers of all-time. LeBron’s era is faster, some of the greatest point guards of all-time are in this era.. LeBron didn’t have to worry about being met at rim by Patrick Ewing or Hakeem Olajuwon and Jordan didn’t have to worry about keeping up with Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook. LeBron’s legacy is still being written, so let’s not compare his legacy to Michael Jordan’s until the ink dries.

LeBron has come a long way and has battled through a lot of adversity in the past 3 years. He went from being somewhat immature and nonchalant to being dominant and determined. He left Cleveland to go to Miami and everyone thought he had given up pursuing all-time greatness and had gone to Miami to defer to Dwyane Wade. The first year, that is exactly what he did. He deferred to Dwyane Wade despite still having a MVP-caliber season statistically. After failing in the NBA Finals for the 2nd time in his career a switch flipped, and now 2 years and 2 championships later, here we are. It is the eve of the 2013-14 NBA season opener and the Miami Heat will receive their championship rings in front of their rival Chicago Bulls. But this season feels different. For the first time in LeBron’s career, this is his league without question.

LeBron has reached his comfort zone, he is liked by the masses once again, he’s a winner, and he “ain’t got no worries”.

NEW MUSIC – “Juvenile” by: MFnMelo

“Spark the loud and a thought at the same damn time”

MFnMelo makes the listeners take notice as he begins promoting his debut solo project, MeloDramatics, which will likely drop late-2013 or early-2014. MFnMelo is a member of the Chicago-based hip-hop collective, Pivot Gang, but on this track he proved he is capable of carrying a song on his own. I have been long awaiting a solo project from MFnMelo because of the way he stands out on songs with his playful rhyme schemes and witty punchlines.

On the song “Juvenile”, MFnMelo is talking about the slow grind that goes into getting your music heard but you cannot quit and you must be confident in your music. MFnMelo conveys determination and confidence throughout the song; he also shows signs of a possible addiction to marijuana (if that’s possible). I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from MFnMelo.

Pivot Gang is set to release their debut group project, JIMMY, in September 2013.

mfnmelo

[Contact MFnMelo on Facebook and Twitter]

‘Breaking Bad’ Returns As Strong As Ever

“Tread lightly.”

Maybe it was just me but last night was bittersweet. It was obviously sweet because we were finally able to witness the confrontation between Hank and Walt. But it was bitter because when the episode ended I immediately realized there are only 7 more episodes of this great show.

The second half of season 5 began just like the season 5 premiere with a flash-forward to a rugged, sickly, and paranoid Walter White. In the season 5 premiere Walter White is celebrating his 52nd birthday alone at a Denny’s and purchases some pretty lethal weaponry. The beginning of the second half of season 5 is set in the same flash-forward but this time Walter White arrives at his abandoned home that is covered in graffiti and has a group of kids skateboarding in the pool. He goes in the vacant home to retrieve some ricin he hid behind an outlet cover. Because of those 2 flash-forwards, I am even more excited to see where this season goes.

I am sure most of us can agree that Walter White’s death is the only way this show can end. But how? I have always thought it would be at the hands of Jesse Pinkman or cancer but now because of those flash-forwards I am beginning to think Walter White may have pissed off some people that he can not outsmart.

The finale of the first half of season 5 gave us the biggest cliffhanger in the series’ history and it was epic. So, the second half of the season was believed to be based on Hank finally finding out who Heisenberg was and that Heisenberg is his brother-in-law. I was expecting the writers to make us wait for the confrontation between Hank and Walt until closer to the end of the season but they gave it to us immediately.

The second half of season 5 kicks off with Hank not knowing how to approach this knew information and fakes sick to leave Walt’s house. Hank then has a anxiety attack while driving home and crashes his car. Hank took off of work and had all of the files he had on Heisenberg sent to his home and began searching for a way to connect Walter White to Heisenberg. Walt comes over Hank’s house to check up on him and make sure Hank is feeling alright. Hank tries to act normal towards Walt but Walt tells Hank that he found a tracking device on his car that resembles the one they put on Gus Fring’s car. Hank dropped the act and was ready to expose Walt.

Walt and Hank had one of the best confrontations in this series’ history, Hank was pissed and you could just feel how much hate he had for Walt at that moment. But my favorite part of that confrontation was Walter White being vintage Heisenberg. Although Walt knew he was caught, he was still cocky and without admitting anything he pretty much told Hank that he was untouchable.

This show is about a good guy gone bad but a part of the show that is often forgotten is the transformation of Jesse Pinkman; a troubled kid who has grown tired of crime. Jesse has gone from being some idiot who put chili powder in crystal meth to being a millionaire–thanks to Walter White–who hates everything about how he became a millionaire. Jesse has been trying to disassociate himself from Walter White for sometime now but Walter White has been like a father to him and now it seems that Jesse fears that Walt may kill him at this point if he tries to leave.

BB-S5-Walt-Jesse-Couch-760

Some possibly interesting minor developments:

  • What is going to happen with the always frantic Lydia? I don’t like her character but I am curious to see if she is always so worried for a reason.
  • Will Jesse find out the Walt indeed killed Mike?
  • How will Walt Jr. react if he finds out about his dad’s life of crime?
  • Will Skyler encourage Walt to continue cooking meth in order to build their car wash franchise?

NEW MUSIC VIDEO – “36” Chain” by: Killer Mike & El-P

In April 2013 Killer Mike and El-P formed a duo known as: Run The Jewels. “36” Chain” is my personal favorite song on the group’s great self-titled album. The album Run The Jewels was released June 26th, 2013 for free digitally. The rapping skills the exist between these two artists separately is unquestioned. But together they are even more powerful. They both very aggressive on the mic, they are socially consciousness, but what is really appealing they are really creative and are never afraid to step outside of the box. The political awareness and the intellect that both El-P and Killer Mike use in the raps separates them from most rappers in today’s hip-hop scene.

“36” Chain” was truly one of the standout songs from the the Run The Jewels album because it gave me everything I love about both artists as they go back-and-forth aggressively–almost like they are competing–while adding several witty punchlines throughout the song. This video really shows the creativity of the two as they go on a mission to rescue their kidnapped friend. This music video tells a story; something that is unfortunately become uncommon.

killer-mike-elp

The Perfect Timing of ‘Fruitvale Station’

Fruitvale Station is an independent film based on the true story behind the last day of Oscar Grant’s life. The film will be released in theaters throughout the United States on Friday (July 12th, 2013). I am anxious to see it. From just watching the trailer I get the feel of classic black films of the 1990s, such as: Menace II Society, Juice, and Boyz N The Hood. All of those films were about the everyday struggles of black youths.

The timing of Fruitvale Station‘s release in theaters nationwide seems like fate. What is the biggest news story around the country right now? The trial of George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman killed an unarmed young black boy over a year ago yet there is a thick tension in the air because there is still a strong possibility that George Zimmerman may be ruled innocent. I am hoping this film can reintroduce reality to the George Zimmerman trial because it is being presented as a soap opera.

The way the stars have aligned is kind of crazy. Trayvon Martin was a kid walking home from the store to watch the NBA All-Star game with his dad but since George Zimmerman thought he look suspicious, Trayvon is dead. Oscar Grant wanted to celebrate the New Year with his girlfriend but was killed by an irresponsible police officer who supposedly mistook his gun for his taser and took Oscar’s life. I believe Oscar Grant’s story will shine an even brighter light on Trayvon Martin’s story.

fruitvale_station_ver2_xlg

Will Jay-Z Ever Be Irrelevant?

On just rapping skills and talent, I will never waiver from believing that The Notorious B.I.G. is the greatest we will ever see. But no artists compare to Jay-Z in terms of global impact and consistently building the hip-hop culture.

In 1996 Jay-Z released one of the top 10 greatest hip-hop albums of all-time; Reasonable Doubt, and since then he has consistently evolved and remained relevant. Jay-Z has been the most significant figure in hip-hop since the deaths of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Jay-Z has been able to stay relevant longer than any artist in recent memory from growing an empire in Roc-A-Fella records, to creating a clothing line in Rocawear, to being the President of Def Jam.

the-sweet-life-of-jay-z-how-the-hottest-agent-in-sports-spends-his-475-million

Jay-Z is a work horse, he has released 15 albums in his 17 year career. But even when he takes time off he has found ways to keep his name buzzing in pop culture. I mean, name another rapper who can be hugged up with the President. He as found a way to uphold a private life while staying in a spotlight; a task that seemed impossible. My only knock on Jay-Z is him often trying to blend in with radio music as if he has forgotten that he is Jay-Z; a guy who will be forever relevant.

Jay-Z is not only a great businessman and strategist, he is also a great artist despite releasing some average and even some bad albums in his long career. Yesterday his 15th album,  Magna Carta… Holy Grail, released for retail sale. I have had it since it released digitally, and I fucking love it! Jay-Z has tried to fit in with the current sounds on the radio in the past and he has failed but this time he has made music that sounds like it can fit perfectly on today’s radio but with Jay-Z’s skills sprinkled all over. He has found a way to blend in but remain Jay-Z. I have heard critics judge this album off of Jay-Z being too braggadocios but all I can do is roll my eyes at their critiques because he has literally been bragging his entire career.

“I dabbled in crazy weight, without rap, I was crazy straight. Partna, I’m still spending money from ’88” -Jay-Z “Dead President II” Reasonable Doubt

Jay-Z-wears-Hat-Balmain-Cotton-blen-Jersey-Biker-Jacket-and-Blame-Society-T-shirt-with-Beyonce-out-in-NYC-55

Will Jay-Z ever be irrelevant? I am sure he will retire from music one day but he will still be married to Beyonce, running a record label, a clothing line, and a sports agency. So, no. I cannot see Jay-Z ever being irrelevant.

Mos Def Underwent The Guantanamo Bay Force-Feeding Procedure

This is an inhumane act used against people already protesting inhumane treatment. Yes, these are prisoners but they are humans first and deserve to be treated as so. Whatever crimes they have committed they are now serving their time and torture is not included in their prison sentence. I watched this video and cringed throughout, this treatment is unethical, it should be intolerable and reprehensible. There is no way anyone should walk away from this crime without any backlash.

Hip-Hop artist Mos Def decided to courageously display how cruel the treatment of these prisoners are by physically undergoing the procedure. Hopefully the courage of a celebrity can spark a fire under the ass of someone with the power to put an end to this treatment of Guantanamo Bay inmates. The fact that inmates are being force-fed is bad enough but there are prisoners that practice fasting during Ramadan and by force-feeding them is just adding insult to injury.

Barack Obama is supposedly the only one with the power to end this procedure, well Mr. President it is time to stop leaning on the fence and take some action.

[h/t The Guardian]

Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson: drummer, DJ, record producer, and author

Above is a lecture-style interview by Red Bull Music Academy with Questlove.

Questlove is a true hip-hop icon because he is true to himself, he is innovative, and he is influential. Questlove is one of the leaders of one of hip-hop’s greatest groups of all-time; The Roots. Questlove is one of my personal favorite public speakers–especially in hip-hop–because he speaks so intelligently, as in he is always knowledgeable of what he is speaking about and he is well-spoken. He is my generation’s Quincy Jones.

Books-Questlove_MehlComing from a musical family that believed television could be a bad influence, Questlove has said he wasn’t allowed to watch any television except Soul Train and the end of Saturday Night Live. Growing up in West Philadelphia, his parents didn’t like him being outside much. With so many restrictions, music became his only source of entertainment and luckily his father had vast music collection. His knowledge of music is incredible. He is the definition of a music nerd. He is now spreading his knowledge by teaching a class on classic albums at New York University.

Questlove is easily the hardest working man in showbiz–Ryan Seacrest may be seated. Besides teaching a class at NYU, Questlove is still making music with The Roots (The Roots still serve as the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), he still produces music for other artists, he moonlights as a DJ, and now he has written a book. His book is entitled: Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, it is a memoir in which he tells his own story while breaking down his perspective on the music world and the world around it.

Mo’ Meta Blues will be released on June 18th, 2013.

QuestloveDrums2

The Miami Heat Shouldn’t Panic Just Yet

Before this series I picked the Heat to win in 5 or 6 games because the NBA Finals is predictable in one way and that is that the team with the best player will win and I find it hard to believe that Spurs will win the series if Gary Neal or Danny Green are their best players. The Miami Heat are now down 2-1 in the 2013 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs following a 113-77 blow-out in game 3. But I see no reason for the Miami Heat to panic just yet. They only need to steal one game on San Antonio’s home court and extend this series so they can get back on their home court.

1371017531000-USP-NBA-Finals-Miami-Heat-at-San-Antonio-Spurs-005-1306120213_4_3_rx404_c534x401

One thing that I have taken away from these past 3 games is that the Miami Heat have not looked recognizable outside of the last quarter and a half of game 2 when the Heat completely pounded the Spurs. This tells means one thing, either the Heat are in a slump or the Spurs have figured out how to beat the Heat without changing their identity. If the Heat were just in a slump for these first 3 games then I have faith that they will still win this series. LeBron James won me over this year and he fought his way into my top 10 NBA players of all-time list. With that said, being the best player in the NBA means nothing if you don’t shine when it counts. This could be the 3rd Finals in LeBron’s 10 year career where he didn’t play like one of the greatest players in NBA history.

I have watched LeBron play this series closely and it doesn’t look like he’s disappearing like he did in the 2011 Finals and it doesn’t look like he’s being shutdown like he was in the 2007 Finals. LeBron is struggling in these Finals because he is thinking about game 7 in the previous series against the Pacers where he got Wade and Bosh involved early and the Heat just coasted to a victory. And it is good that LeBron is embracing a leadership role and making sure everyone is getting involved on offense but that is all negated if he forgets to get himself involved. LeBron James cannot take 2 shots in the 1st quarter. LeBron James cannot only have 4 points at halftime.

LeBron has to do something he hasn’t done throughout his entire career–be selfish! No one else on the Heat is giving you anything. Yes, Mike Miller has been lights out from 3 but if the Mike Miller’s of the world are the only help LeBron James is getting then he cannot be scoring in the teens, he needs to be averaging 30. LeBron has to be aggressive for the sake of his team and his legacy. It is for certain that if the Heat lose this series that the big 3 will be disbanded and it will be damn near impossible to compare LeBron to Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan after 3 Finals losses.

1_photo

The Parallels Between ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Wire’

The Wire is by far my favorite TV drama of all-time. David Simon’s journalistic background mashed with his incredible story-telling abilities and his knowledge of the city of Baltimore created TV perfection. The way David Simon wrote the show, it made the viewing audience unsure of who was the leading character really until the show ended. The leading character is the city of Baltimore.  David Simon touches on the corruption in the government offices, the illegal drug trade, the school system, the police department, the newspaper, and on the docks. Along the way major characters develop but there isn’t any Tony Soprano, Walter White, Don Draper type leading characters.

thewire

Now, I just started getting into Game of Thrones by binge-watching the first two season in like 3 days so I was all caught up for the season 3 premiere. I have been following the third season Sunday-by-Sunday and I am completely in love with the show. I have not read the books but I may one day in my future. Right now this show is everything because there is no predictability, I have guesses on how the third season will end tonight but I don’t have any confidence in any of them.

This show reminds me so much of The Wire because there is no clear cut hero. From the jump Ned Stark was the obvious protagonist. Ned Stark was the good, noble soldier who deserved to be king and he was probably the best man for the job–definitely better than Joffrey or Stannis. I saw a strong correlation with Ned Stark and  Maximus Decimus Meridius. But Ned got his head cut off at the end of the first season leaving me conflicted of who to root for now in this show.

crow-background-game-of-thrones-hbo-series-logo-1920x1080-hd-wallpaper

As I sped through season 2 completely cultivated in this show, I realized that I don’t care who is the protagonist anymore, this show is just great. I would be happy to see Daenerys Targaryen or Robb Stark rule the kingdom but they do not give off that hero vibe that Ned did. Whenever Ned was on screen you knew this is his show. This show has grown so much that there can be an entire episode about Bran Stark–my least favorite character by far–and I would still be satisfied because I feel guaranteed that there will be intrigue in every episode.

The Wire and Game of Thrones do great jobs of themes for seasons and episodes. The writers for both shows are not concerned with giving equal screen time to each character because the story is the star of both shows. The Wire caught flack from the public about the second season and fifth season because the show pulled away from the police and the street hustlers to expand the story-line and Game of Thrones caught flack for so many main character deaths (specifically Robb Stark and Ned Stark) but both shows still gained critical acclaim.

Both shows touch on politics so well and how everyone has to answer to somebody else. Several characters in both shows want to be in command but once they get that control they are overwhelmed by the responsibility and still never feel truly in charge. I doubt I will ever call Game of Thrones a better show than The Wire  but as of right now it is third on my all-time list behind The Wire and The Sopranos.