“It was all good just a week ago...”
This is my first post in over ten days because I was out of town, however the events of the last week leave me with one burning question: What the hell happened? I want to take an in-depth look at some of the events of the last seven days and try to make sense of them.
Monday 11/24/2008: Kanye West releases “808’s & Heartbreak” to mixed reviews
I’m not going to argue this is my favorite Kanye record (“The College Dropout” and “Graduation” are way more my style), or that there is a single song on here as hot as “Slow Jams” or “Gold Digger.” But the hate this album is getting from critics, fans and posters on message boards is absolutely unwarranted. Kanye takes two very personal issues (the loss of his mother and the ending of his relationship with his fiance) and expresses pain, loss, sorrow and “Heartbreak” as he sees fit, in the way those emotions moved HIM. The fact that just about everybody has lost a loved one and/or ended a relationship means that just about everybody should be willing to check this out and be open to how Kanye articulates those feelings.
However, instead of being applauded for taking chances and making deeply personal and profoundly original music, he is being ridiculed for not maintaining the status quo by having a club banger featuring Lil’ Wayne as the first single. The people that are unwilling to listen to this are the same ones that complain that all of DMX’s songs sound the same (even though they will not support any deviation from his proven formula) and then turn around and claim that “Outkast fell off when they got involved in all that spaced out S$%#.” Commercially successful rap artists (like West) are held to a standard that is impossible to live up to: evolve musically and alienate your core audience or stagnate and watch your core fans move on to the next rapper that you influenced. It’s a paradox that only a few (LL, Jay-Z, and possibly Kanye) have truly mastered.
This album also brings me back to a question I have been asking for over a decade and have yet to find a satisfactory answer: Why do the best rappers decide to sing, but the bad ones never stop rhyming? How is it possible that Lauren Hill, Andre 3000 and now Kanye West abandon rapping for singing while Chingy, Shorty Lo and Bow Wow keep spitting?
Thursday 11/27/2008: Stephan Marbury and Allen Iverson engage in unprecedented (even for them) acts of buffoonery.
Fresh off bankrupting Steve & Barry’s with his line of $15 basketball shoes (Don’t all kids want sneakers that are marketed as cheap, low quality, knock-offs of other shoes? I have no idea how his venture ever failed!) Marbury refuses to play for the Knicks, claims his teammates abandoned him and then gets like a $20M buyout to stay away from the team. I would like to call this guy a loser, but he just got PAID to stay away from his job, I’d say he’s the big winner in this one.
Allen Iverson chose not to practice on Thanksgiving day, gave no explanation and will be suiting up and getting paid again after some slap-on-the-tatted-wrist. I think this is awesome, the best way for him to endear himself to the Piston’s players and fans is to blow off events no one wants to be at in the first place. He should not stop this at holiday practices, he should extend this action to training camp, Meet & Greets and the entire regular season unless they are playing the Lakers or Cavs.
“Black” Friday 11/28/2008: People wait outside stores to buy products they don’t need and eventually kill a man while bum-rushing a Wal-Mart for 30% off flat screen televisions.
I have never succumbed to the hype of “Black Friday,” the idea of getting up at like three in the morning to buy asinine products like DVD’s of mass marketed crap, electronics that will be obsolete in less then a year and assorted kitchen gadgets does not appeal to me. Because I have never been in one of these lines, waiting in the freezing cold for some poor SOB to open the doors so I can stomp through the store, throw bows at anyone that gets in my way and get my hands on a Nintendo Wii, I can only imagine there is a lot of talk about “Dancing with the Stars,” Fantasy Football and a lot of custom ringtones going off (these lines are populated with people that can’t figure out if they want “Fergalicious” or “I Got Money” for the holiday weekend).
This orgy of consumer culture idiocy hit a new low this year when people outside a Long Island (by far the worst island associated with the US, it should secede, and we should not try to stop them) Wal-Mart rushed in and killed an employee and injured a pregnant woman. First of all, a lot of media outlets and people I talk with are stating that the woman did not have a miscarriage and the whole thing is being blown out of proportion...WHAT? It’s good she kept the baby, that’s inarguably a positive aspect of this otherwise incredibly sad story, however she was injured and hospitalized and the fact that the baby appears to be unharmed does not negate the fact that these people trampled a pregnant women in order to get their kid a “Tickle Me Elmo” or whatever this year’s hottest toy happens to be. Secondly, a man died because he tried to do his job and keep the crowd of barbaric bargain hunters from killing each other on their way to the electronics department.
I am not on some anti-capitalism nonsense either, I love sales and I have hunted rare pairs of sneakers for weeks, but never once did the idea of hurting or killing someone to get a discounted DVD player cross my mind.
Friday 11/28/2008: Plaxico Burress “Cheddar Bobs” Himself
Heres a good idea: Let’s walk into a crowded nightclub with a loaded handgun in your pants-pocket, have a few cocktails and see what develops.
Sunday 11/30/2008: The entire country (including myself) watch Brittany Spears be further embarrassed by MTV.
Everybody wants Brittany to be “better”...nope, still crazy.