Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Throwback Thursday: Ice Cube - It Was A Good Day (1992)

"Just waking up in the morning, gotta thank God/ I don't know, but today seems kinda odd..."
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than to commemorate the song that described the perfect day?

I like this song. It's real mellow and smooth; it kinda reminds me of a calm Saturday afternoon, one of those days where you just sit back, chill, bump some music and be lazy. The Isley Brothers sample really does the trick here.

I know it's a holiday, so I won't exasperate you all with the usual history lesson that I tend to give on Throwback Thursdays. However, there is something that must get mentioned.

When you think of old-school Ice Cube, you're reminded of records like this, and more specifically, his AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted album, which solidified his spot in hip-hop history. As if being a part of the first commercially publicized gangsta rap group wasn't enough, he completely turned the tables with his debut solo album by laying down effective, politically-charged lyrics about the struggles of being black in America.

When you look at Ice Cube today, you almost forget about that guy. Nowadays, he's popularized himself as the B-list actor who makes movies like Are We There Yet? So please, somebody explain to me, how can anyone ever possibly go from this to this?? I'll never understand.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving, Trickin' & Strippers

The above video inspired the following question: Is it really trickin' if you've got it??

Also, some pre-holiday conversation, an analysis of The Stripper Debate, and a tribute to "Meast". R.I.P. Sean Taylor.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Throwback Thursdays: DMX - Ruff Ryders Anthem (1998)

Another email request from an RLGL listener. Keep the emails coming.

This song is so classic. It's very representative of the NY rap scene at the time, actually. I remember when I was in middle school, the two biggest rappers at the time were DMX and Jay-Z. Of course, that meant the two biggest labels were Ruff Ryders and Roc-A-Fella. (It sounds almost foolish to say this now, but I'm pretty sure from 1998 to about 2000, DMX was actually better than Hov. Blueprint changed all that, but I'm just sayin'.) This record was not only a breakout hit on X's debut album, it also established his entire clique by way of the song's title.

Now, prior to his first album coming out, DMX created a buzz for himself by appearing on records such as this and this. His gritty, aggressive flow was a unique and welcome difference to some of the other music that was popular at the time. Dude had bars, but he also had a history of creating both excessive ("I got blood on my d*ck, cuz I f*cked a corpse") and borderline homo ("You hold my d*ck while he suckin' it") lyrics. 1998 was a good year for hip-hop, though, as expressed in this article.

If you look closely enough, you'll see Eve, Drag-On and all three members of the L.O.X. in the video. They were a pretty dope tandem of rappers, and it's a shame that they aren't all still together. They actually went on a huge tour with Roc-A-Fella back in 1998 called the Hard Knock Life Tour, which, I assume, is where this legendary battle cypher took place.

X started his career off real strong, with his first three albums going four, three and six times platinum, respectively. Things started to go downhill for the Dark Man with his fourth album, which still managed to go platinum, but just wasn't as good as his first three. After he dropped his fifth album, he said he was going to retire, and there were rumors buzzing around that he was planning on pursuing a career as a preacher. While preaching would be a direct contrast to his rap persona, it remained somewhat believable, considering that he used to rap a prayer at the end of every album.

He didn't retire or become a preacher, instead opting to drop a sixth solo album three years later. All the while, he had been starring in bad movies and getting arrested. Nowadays, he's always in the news for some sort of felony or misdemeanor. I can't tell you the last time he put out a record, but it seems that he manages to get arrested at least once a month. Speeding, DUIs, cocaine name it, he's done it. The funniest, in my opinion, is when he stole a car at an airport and pretended to be a federal agent. You really can't make this stuff up.

It's safe to say that drugs ruined what was once a very successful rap career. To think that he and Jay-Z were actually comparable at one point, it's sad to see how far apart they are now. This is still a great song, though.

Holidays, Insiders & Jail Sex

Despite his apparel, this guy actually isn't a basketball player.

Still, he's close enough. This man's actions have qualified him for Bonehead Athlete of the Week. Also, some discussion on the commercialization of American holidays and the wild capers that were taking place in an Indiana jail.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Overtime, TRL & Nigga Films

If you don't see anything wrong with this picture, I pray to God you're not black.

This Monday post of RLGL discusses yesterday's strange overtime ending in the NFL, the end of a classic top 10 countdown show, and my personal motion to end the production of nigga films. (If you click the link, you'll understand.)

P.S. Conan's late night show replacement will be Jimmy Fallon, not Jimmy Kimmel. Honest mistake, but I guess that's what I get for skimming. My reporting professors would be proud.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Throwback Thursdays: Snoop Doggy Dogg - Gin And Juice (1993)

Am I the only one who thinks of this song every time they hear anyone reference gin? And furthermore, who drinks gin??

In any event, I felt that I had been giving East Coast rappers all the shine on Throwback Thursdays. So, I figured it would only be right to give props to one of the West Coast's legends, Mr. Cordozar Broadus (yes, that's actually his name).

Snoop got his start by being heavily featured on Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" album, which is widely regarded as a hip-hop classic. It was a good look for the Dogg, especially considering that he ethered Dre on most of his own records. Of course, that was followed by Snoop signing with Death Row Records and dropping a classic of his own, "Doggystyle". Classy title. According to the good people at Wikipedia, the album went four times platinum.

While recording the album, Snoop was indicted for his involvement in a gang shootout and murder. He hired Johnnie Cochran, so you already know he beat the charge. He dropped one more album with Death Row before their inevitable breakup. He claimed that Suge Knight was jerkin' him out of his money, seeing as how Suge held ownership to every record Snoop made until his contract expired (think Puff Daddy vs. L.O.X.). He refused to make any more records with Death Row, and then signed with No Limit Records.

After switching labels, he shortened his name from Snoop Doggy Dogg to just Snoop Dogg. I'm still not sure why, but No Limit was pretty popular in the late '90s (HOODY HOO!). Snoop rolled with them for a while and tried the whole rap supergroup thing, which never really works out well. He dropped three different albums under their helm before parting ways with Percy. He then dropped an album in 2002 that featured this gem, which is a song I consider to be among one of the best singles of his career. Them Brazilian chicks in the video weren't half-bad, either.

After he left No Limit is when things started to get a little ridiculous. He put out "Drop It Like It's Hot", which is the first new song I remember hearing my freshman year of college (is that Lauren London in the video? She could get work). This was a good song (or a good beat, at least), but we really started to see Snoop's skills diminish at this point. It was like watching Patrick Ewing limping up and down the court for the Orlando Magic. Or watching Greg Oden as a rookie. Just pathetic.

It seems at this point in his career, he doesn't really expect anyone to take him seriously. Honestly, I think he stopped taking himself seriously. What makes songs like "Gin And Juice" so memorable is that he no longer raps like that anymore. Nobody considers Snoop to be among the best rappers in any category, and he's been in the game for 15 years. It's almost as if he's allowed himself to become a hip-hop caricature, highlighting everything stereotypical and nonsensical within the culture.

You knew it was over for Snoop when he started making videos like this one and starring in "nigga films" such as these. The real icing on the cake, though, came when he decided to make a country song as a tribute to Johnny Cash. If you click no other link in this post, be sure to click that one. You're guaranteed to either laugh out loud or shake your head in shame. Maybe even both.

Suffice it to say, I can no longer in good conscience cosign Snoop Dogg. I think comparing this video to the music he makes today will make it crystal clear how far he's fallen off. R.I.P. to Cordozar's career.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Juries, California & No Homo

I'm convinced. I never want jury duty.

Discussion (and criticism) of the criminal justice system, my thoughts on the passing of Proposition 8, and my public vote to ban "no homo".

Here are the links I promised, by the way. You know I always give my people what they want. Pause.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Buzzer-Beaters, Basketball & The No Fun League

And just like that, the NBA season is upon us.

This Friday edition of RLGL touches on the basketball game shown above, previews the NBA season, and crowns another Bonehead Athlete of the Week. Also, some discussion on the NFL's strange double standards.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Throwback Thursdays: Eminem - My Name Is (1999)

I remember the first time I heard this song. I was probably...well, in 1999, I musta been in the 7th grade. I thought the song was funny, and just assumed that the rapper was making his voice sound funny for comical reasons. Little did I know that he only sounded like that cuz he was white. I had no idea who he was, though, and someone told me his name was Eminem. Naturally, I thought they were talking about M&Ms. It sounds ridiculous now, but it wasn't that far-fetched at the time, considering that those little bastards were putting out commercials every other week.

Turns out Mr. Mathers was much more than just a goofball. Truth be told, he was probably one of the best lyricists of the past 10 years. He's most likely in the top 5 of anyone's list of rappers from the past decade. His delivery is impeccable, and the way he puts words together is pretty amazing. I think what makes him stand out is the way he seemingly pays attention to every single syllable in every single word. Sometimes, he even manages to match words that don't even rhyme.

I believe that his decision to introduce himself to hip-hop as a clown was a wise one. Let's be completely honest with ourselves; had he come out with some real records, he would have been ridiculed simply because he's white. No one would have ever taken him seriously, and we'd all be comparing him to this guy. By making fun of himself before we got a chance to do it, he entered a "safe" zone within the hip-hop community. That allowed him to make more serious records in the future.

Now, I could post link after link after link of gems from Eminem, but the one song of his that stands out the most to me is this one. In my humble opinion, it's his best song. I think what sets it apart is not only the usual lyricism, but the fact that he was willing to just say how he felt without sugarcoating it. He exposed himself, and allowed the fans to take a glimpse into his mind. It was something that you didn't see very often at the time, and you barely see it that much today, either.

After putting out a movie that was based loosely on his life, Eminem dropped "Encore" in 2004, which was easily his worst album to date. That weed plate was a complete bust, and people began to question whether or not he lost his skill. He then released a plethora of songs about his daughter Hailie before supposedly disappearing off the face of the earth. Since '04, he's been chillin' at home, taking care of his kids and getting fat. Then, out of nowhere, rumors started to swirl around that he would be releasing an album called "Relapse" either late this year or early in 2009. He even dropped a freestyle to prove that he still got it. Hopefully this album actually comes out, unlike "Detox", which was supposed to have come out each of the last six years. We'd love to see you come back, Marshall.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barack, Black Folks & The Slope

The 44th President of the United States of America is a black man. I just know Dr. King is somewhere smiling right now.