T-Hanes
Aug 27, 2017

We Miss the Old Kanye

0 comments

 

 

 

My first time seeing Kanye West perform was in 2004 at North Carolina A&T’s Homecoming concert.  At that time, he was performing at various college campuses while promoting his new album: The College Dropout.  During his performance, it was easy to see how much he wanted to be successful.  He had the eye of the tiger.  When he addressed the crowd, it was not to brag about being a genius, or to talk about clothing designers whom his audience had probably never heard of.  If I remember correctly, he was wearing a Ralph Lauren shirt, and a pair of jeans.  He was relatable to the college crowd because his choice of topics reflected his background.  He talked about working in retail stores; he talked about fraternities and sororities; he talked about relationships with women; he complained about student loans (the bane of my existence); and other topics many college-educated students could relate to.  Not only did he talk the part, but he looked the part of a student because he wore clothes that many students could afford or kind of afford(one time for those refund checks). Kanye seemed very genuine, which I think won over masses of fans.   

 

It always seems that with any great rise to fame, there is a story of a fall from glory.  This has happened to many great musicians (Bobby Brown, Jodeci, and many others).  For Kanye, I believe his descent began after his mother passed away even though he was able to mask it from the public for quite some time. I would be willing to bet the people who were close to him witnessed a change well before the public saw destructive signs.

 

From 2004-2011, Kanye released four certified classic albums: The College Dropout;Late Registration; Graduation; and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  During this six-year run, he was on top of his game as a producer and musician.  I guess I should have known that his reign on top would not last forever.  After all, most athletes and musicians have a prime that usually does not last longer than ten years.  I do not know if this is determined by an audience who grows tired of hearing the same voice, or by a person’s lack of hunger once he or she reaches a certain level of success.  Either way, as the law of gravity dictates: what goes up must eventually come down.  Unfortunately for Kanye, his descent from the top of the game has been very painful to watch because he has literally been making statements that seem to be completely illogical.  I obviously do not know who he has in his circle, but it would seem that someone would be trying to reel him in before he goes too far off the deep end.   

 

I believe Kanye’s issues began rising to the surface sometime after his mother passed away in November 2007.  Based on interviews, and songs he made about her prior to her death, it was clear that she was very important to him.  In 2008, less than a year after her death, he made probably his darkest album: 808 and Heatbreaks.  Art is often a reflection of reality; after listening to this album, it was clear to me that he was in a lot of pain.  Unfortunately for him, his pain did not translate into a great project like Mary J. Blige.  She seems to make her best music when she is going through an issue with her love interest. His 2008 release is his only album between 2004 and 2011 that I did not particularly care for.  In 2010 when he released My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I thought Kanye was back.  Boy was I wrong.

 

Sometime after 2011, I believe his behavior became noticeably erratic.  I remember hearing stories about him arriving to award shows clearly intoxicated.  He started proclaiming more and more about his greatness and how much a genius he is.  He also started disrespecting respected members of the media, e.g. Sway “You Ain’t Got the Answers” Calloway.  I must digress for just a moment to briefly discuss that infamous interview.  Kanye completely went off on Sway and you could tell that Sway was trying to remain calm.  Yet, you could also tell that the RN inside him was thinking “I will slap the s**t out of this midget if he does not stop disrespecting me on my damn show.”  Although that interview was funny, it showed just how far Kanye was out of touch with reality.  This was certainly not the first time he said something controversial, however, it was the first time I remember feeling like he had no reasonable basis for his behavior.  

 

2016 has been a terrible year for Kanye—one of the great producers in music history.  He seems desperate to reclaim the spotlight that he used to have because of his musical gifts.  He is married to a Khardashian, a family that is synonymous with controversy.  Didn’t Kanye see what happened to Lamar Odom?  In all fairness to Kanye, I think he is suffering from some sort of diagnosable mental disorder. I have even talked to friends who are mental health experts and they too believe that he has a mental illness.  As one of my Facebook friends posted the other week, Kanye West is on the verge of being the subject of an Unsung episode.  For the sake of the hip hop community, I hope he can bounce back from this set back because We Miss The Old Kanye.

 

Peace

 

New Posts
  • T-Hanes
    Aug 27, 2017

    As of August 13, 2017, Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed. What a surprise!  Many people saw this coming just as soon as he bucked the system that is the NFL.  Some have called Kaepernick a modern day martyr because he has courageously stood up for his beliefs in the face of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate: The NFL.  Although this situation is unfortunate, it is certainly not a new issue. Black athletes have stood in opposition to oppression for many years.  And when those athletes ruffled enough feathers, they were blackballed. Kaepernick is very intelligent, so I believe he knew what he would face by going against the system.      Kaepernick's Peaceful Protest For just a moment, let us examine Kaepernick’s action that has offended so many “patriots.”  For those who do not know, Kaepernick, a former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, decided to sit during the singing of the national anthem.  To be clear: Kaepernick did not defile a flag, or perform any illegal act.  Instead, he exercised his freedom of speech.  The U.S. Constitution provides certain rights to citizens of the U.S.—but like most things—there are limits. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. But I'm Protected by the First Amendment! The First Amendment is applicable to governmental actors, such as local, state and federal employers.  The National Football League, however, is a private employer.  That said, an employee of a private employer does not have the right to claim First Amendment freedom of speech while at work. Kaerpernick was an employee of the 49ers, so although they could not force him to stand, they were able to take other actions against him that any other private employer could take against its employees. To help illustrate that point, let us assume that Employer X is a media company.  John Employee works as a news anchor for the company.  Employer X has a longstanding company policy providing that news anchors cannot have visible tattoos.  John Employee, after working for Employer X for 9 years, decides that he wants to tattoo the Bill of Rights across his forearms, neck and forehead.  John believed he was exercising his First Amendment Right to free speech.  However, because Employer X was a private employer, its policy prohibiting visible tattoos trumped John’s freedom of speech while he was at work.  As a result, John Employee was terminated.  This hypothetical situation should be considered only to illustrate how an employee’s First Amendment rights are not absolute.  Post-Racial America Some people believe we live in a post-racial society.  This is not true, however.  Race is still a major factor in a lot of the events that happen in this country.  To suggest that race does not play a role in Kaepernick’s inability to find a new NFL team is either recklessly naive, or intentionally evasive.  My parents have always told me that you can tell a person’s true feelings for you during times of adversity.  It is very easy to be friends with someone when things are smooth.  In the case of the NFL owners, it is also very easy to support a player who helps add value to the NFL brand, which is already worth more than $62 billion.  Prior to Kaepernick’s decision to kneel, to my knowledge, he did not have any issues finding work.  He was a very successful quarterback. He was well-positioned to continue receiving seven-figure paychecks for years to come.  However, the moment he went against the grain, the NFL turned its collective back on him.      Peaceful Protest is Not Akin to Criminal Acts The sad part about this case is that certain people have compared Kaepernick’s decision to  peacefully protest to illegal acts committed by other NFL players.  However, it is not at all surprising.  It is eerily similar to how the media often chooses to label black victims as criminals even when they are in fact victims.  Here, members of the media have tried to assassinate Kaepernick’s character by comparing him to athletes who were charged with committing criminal acts.  For the uniformed, this makes it much easier to see Kaepernick as an antagonist instead of a law abiding citizen exercising his rights.  This, again, is a typical media trick.  Do not be fooled. The Road Ahead Will Be Rough and Rocky The road ahead for Kaepernick will be rocky.  I do not think he will ever play for another NFL franchise.  Further, I do not think he will ever have the chance to work for the NFL in any capacity.  I believe the endorsement deals he once received will never return.  Kaepernick is fighting against a system of oppression that has been crushing Black men for hundreds of years.  It started with slavery.  Then, after Blacks began to make progress during Reconstruction, those efforts were thwarted with the system of oppression known as Jim Crow.  Once the Jim Crow laws were abolished, mass incarceration reared its ugly head.  Sometimes an unfortunate situation can push a person towards what they were put on this planet to do.  In this case, maybe Kaepernick was placed on this planet to join the fight against oppression. Maybe that will be his legacy. Maybe football will only be a small part of who he is as a man and ultimately what his legacy will be.  Only time will tell. Peace
  • T-Hanes
    Aug 27, 2017

    Sidney Minter, Blogger The other day, as I was riding in my car listening to music, I started thinking about my two favorite topics—basketball and hip hop.  I usually think about one or the other, but rarely does my mind race about both.  Are there any connections between the two?  If so, what are the connections?  My internal conversation caused me to flashback to a hip hop album, The Lost Boyz’ Love Peace & Nappiness.  On that album the group played a clip of Allen Iverson talking about his rookie season in the NBA.  That skit reminded me that Allen Iverson was one of the first guys to usher in the hip hop era into the NBA.  Although that is true, the infusion of the hip hop culture and basketball started before Iverson. Let me take a moment and point out some of the connections between hip hop and basketball.  Some of the greatest basketball players and hip hop artists were raised in urban environments.  Think about it: Allen Iverson, Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony were all raised in urban environments.  On the hip hop side, T.I., Nas, B.I.G., Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg were all raised in urban environments.  Hip hop was born out of struggle, defiance and a way for young people to express themselves.  Basketball was not born out of struggle, but to many inner city youth, it symbolizes an opportunity for a better life for their families; in that respect, basketball epitomizes struggle and expression.  Hip hop artists are exploited by record owners and guess what, so are basketball players.  Hip hop is dominated by young 20-something year old African American males and so is basketball.  Ironically, the biggest consumers of both hip hop music and basketball are non-African Americans.  The two are inextricably intertwined. Sometimes people discuss hip hop or rap as a genre of music.  Those individuals underestimate the impact of the hip hip culture.  It embodies language, fashion, attitude, and music.  In the NBA, although Michael Jordan is not considered a representative of the culture, his decision to wear longer, baggy shorts and to wear an ear ring was a by-product of the defiance of the hip hop culture.  In the college game, in the early 1990’s, Michigan’s Fab Five started a trend of wearing long, baggy shorts with black shoes and socks.  They proclaimed to the world that they loved hip hop.  They also expressed the ugly reality of exploitation of basketball players.  In the mid 1990’s Allen Iverson entered the NBA.  At that time, he represented the perfect storm between hip hop and basketball. He was young, rebellious and talented.  He was born and raised in an urban environment, but was able to overcome significant obstacles on his way to super stardom.  He wore his hair in corn rows, his arms were filled with tattoos (not initially), his shorts were baggy, he infamously wore fitted hats and platinum chains to press conferences.  He said that he wanted to do things his way and he did.  The NBA profited off of the hip hop culture.  During half time shows, you could often hear hip hop music being played over PA systems, or hear commentators making hip hop references.  David Stern and the other “powers-that-be” used the hip hop culture to market to a more urban demographic.  Many players during that time wore clothes that were comfortable for them and not necessarily business professional or even business casual attire.  Although David Stern benefited from the hip hop culture, he yearned to control it.  Therefore, it was no surprise to me that he passed a set of rules which require players to dress professionally when sitting on the bench. Now, if you look at the NBA players on the sidelines, they usually have on a suit or at the very least, a sports jacket.  That was his way of minimizing hip hop’s impact. Although David Stern attempted to stamp out or at least minimize the impact of hip hop, it is still alive and well.  Players still wear diamond earrings, and bracelets.  The only difference is that those are now accessories that go with Tom Ford tailored suits.  Lebron James is a huge hip hop fan and he expresses himself before games by listening to the music on his headphones, or blasting the music in the locker room.  Hip hop is also seen in the ownership ranks of the NBA with Jay-Z being a minority owner of the Brooklyn Nets.  Hip hop is displayed at All-Star weekend.  Many hip hop artists perform and/or attend events during one of the NBA’s biggest weekends.  Their appearances help drive even more people to the festivities and consequently contribute to the NBA’s profit margin.  You see, the marriage between hip hop and basketball cannot be eradicated.  The two are forever intertwined. Peace
  • T-Hanes
    Aug 27, 2017

    Sid Minter, Blogger If you know me, you know two interrelated facts: (1) I love the game of basketball; and (2) I love playing the game. I will never forget my introduction to the game. I was in the fifth grade at Moore Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Some of my friends were on the basketball courts playing, so I decided to join them (At the time—believe it or not—I was a football player). To say that my introduction to the game was rocky would be a gross understatement. My friends laughed at me and told me that I was terrible (this was no lie). But, after this embarrassing introduction, I was determined to learn how to play the game. Soon, my passion for football would make way for my true first love: basketball. This past weekend, I was at a bar watching a few college games when I started to think about some of my favorite collegiate basketball players of all time. More specifically, I started thinking about my favorite guards of the last 25 years (1992 to present). When I thought about this question, a few names came to mind. However, I wanted to gather different perspectives from my friends, so I conducted a poll on Facebook. I also did a little research online to see what other basketball-lovers had to say. To be fair, I wanted to judge the players on very specific qualities. I decided to exclude the respective players pro careers; I only wanted to focus on their college careers. Also, I decided that my list could include players 6’2” or shorter. Allen Iverson The first name to come to mind was Allen Iverson who is my favorite basketball player of all time. Iverson played two seasons at Georgetown from 1994-1996. During his tenure, he averaged 23 points per game, 4.6 assists per game, and 3.2 steals per game. He shot 44% from the field and 68% from the free throw line. In terms of impact, there is probably no one (small) player in the history of the game who changed the game the way he did. He was instrumental in players wearing longer shorts, black socks (along with the Fab Five) and black shoes. He also possessed one of the most unstoppable moves in the history of the game: the crossover (ask Michael Jordan). Jay Williams Let me say this: I am most certainly NOT a Duke fan. However, when I think about all-time great guards, Jayson Williams’s name belongs in the conversation. Williams dominated the ACC from 1999-2002. During his career, he averaged 19.3 points per game, 6 assists per game, 2.2 steals per game, all while shooting 45% from the field and 67% from the free throw line. As talented as Williams was, he was equally, if not more so, intelligent. Although he could dominate a game physically, he mastered the game of outthinking his opponent. Steph Curry Steph Curry had a great career at Davidson College. The funny thing about Steph is that not many people recruited him out of high school. This explains why he ended up playing his college career at Davidson College instead of a high major program. Steph played at Davidson from 2006 to 2009. During this period, he averaged 25.3 points per game, 3.7 assists per game, and 2.1 steals per game. He shot 46.7 percent from the field, and 87.6% from the free throw line. Steph Curry is the best shooter the game has ever seen (on any level). His shooting changed the way guards prepared for games, and the way coaches recruited. He was also an underdog, who was told that he was too skinny, or not athletic enough to play high-major basketball. Kemba Walker Kemba had one of the most storied careers of any player on this list. He literally carried his team to the National Championship in 2011. He played with heart and swag that not many players before, or after him, have displayed. During his career at UCONN, from 2008-2011, he averaged 16.1 points per game, 4.4 assists per game, and 1.7 steals per game. In addition, he shot 43 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free throw line. I watched a lot of players play, but I have never seen anyone with a step-back move like Kemba. Talk about shifty. He was a throw back New York City guard in the same vein as Kenny Anderson, and Stephon Marbury. Chris Paul Last but not least: Chris Paul. He played every game with a chip on his shoulder. This does not surprise me because I remember when he played ball at the YMCA in Winston-Salem. He was younger than us, and much shorter, but he always played with passion and aggressiveness. On the defensive end, he defended with a tenacious spirit like a smaller version of Gary Payton. During his career at Wake Forest, from 2003-2005, he averaged 15 points per game, 6.3 assists per game, and 2.5 steals per game. He shot 47% from the field, and 84% from the free throw line. Chris’ biggest impact on the game was his ability to dominate a game without being a volume shooter. There are very few players in the history of the game who could dominate a game without shooting 20 times per game. CP3 is that rare player who mastered this skill. This list does not include the one-and-done players. Who would you add or remove from your personal list? Peace
  • SoundCloud Social Icon
  • White Twitter Icon
  • White Facebook Icon