Saturday, October 31, 2009

Not a Fiasco - Lupe's Almost Got it All

I'm sitting at the Daily Titan at Cal State Fullerton with my friend, keeping her company as she's doing a project. It's only a few hours added to my long day that included watching a blowout of a football game (final score 76-14 or as someone said to me, a bad basketball score). But for her, it's worth it - ladies shouldn't have to sit alone all night in an office in these times.

On Thursday, I listened to two of Lupe Fiasco's newest freestyles over "All The Way Turnt Up" (originally a terrible song that made my ears bleed) and "Say Something". Just hearing him casually ride each beat with a punchy flow reminded me why I loved his mixtapes in 05-06.

He took that first song and used a simple flow but packed it with so much density that there's no excuse now why these rappers can't do better on synth beats. I played it twice before I went to Sylvan and nearly freaked out.

Then I relistened to another freestyle my girl Daze posted earlier over Jimi Hendrix "Fire" and I heard a hunger that usually you don't hear from rappers on their 3rd album. His wordplay on that made up for a laidback flow that bordered on just tooo easy.

He said that he was upset he got snubbed from the MTV Hottest MC's list and wanted to earn his spot next year by ripping every beat he gets on. So far he has and yt made me wonder. Is Lupe the most complete MC of this era? Granted the bar is so low the past 4 years but just consider the evidence for Lupe.

Content: Nobody can criticize him for not being substantial. "American Terrorist" "Little Weapon" "Fighters" - the "Cool" Album was almost a critical analysis of being cool. Like any good writer, he doesn't waste words and he uses them with a purpose.

Wordplay: Few MC's can match the verbal wizardry of "Theme Music to a Drive By", "Gotta Eat" "Dumb It Down." He uses similes, metaphors, theme and variation.

Storytellling: "He Said, She Said", "The Cool" song, sheesh the whole "Cool" album was an extended metaphor of the life of someone chasing the street dreams until they died trying.

Flow: Tighter than a ball of wax yet adaptable to any beat. Nobody can listen to him and tell me he hasn't mastered it. This is what separates him from the pack in my opinion.

Great Verses: "Hurt Me Soul" Verse 3, "Gold Watch" Verse 2, "The Instrumental" Verse 1...just to name three that standout.

He packs more in a single verse than most do in an entire song. He can do it all. You can argue he doesn't make a club song well but to be honest, if you made a hit out of "Superstar" that's better than most. Just look at his last two albums.

"The Cool" was an extended metaphor that you had to listen to several times to fully get how the story works. It's still one of the most inventive albums I've heard in recent years from hip hop."Food and Liquor" was one of the best debuts in recent memory and showed off his storytelling, wordplay, tight flow. And he did it all without chasing hot producers for everything...still relying mainly his in-house fam.

That's probably my favorite thing about him. He's content with being an individual, not a clone. Just check his We are L.A.S.E.R.S. manifesto - I have no problem saying that I feel like dude is a comet we won't appreciate fully until he stops rapping.

There's no debate that Lupe is the most well-rounded rapper to hit mainstream since Eminem. The only question in my mind is where he'll end up on the greatest of all time list. If this is going to be his last album like he planned, he's already showing off the hunger to make it another phenomenal piece of music.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Epilogue for Pedro + NBA Opening Week hits

Cliff Lee set the tone for the Phillies in Game 1 with his masterful effort along with Chase Utley going yard twice. Now entering the stage to-NIGHT! The reinvented and rejuvenated Pedro Martinez coming back to Yankee Stadium.

I got so amped on Twitter that I posted it would be his first postseason start in NY since the infamous Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Thanks to baseball-reference, I forgot he pitched Game 2 of the 2004 ALCS. But either way, it's a perfect coda to a battle that has been epic for baseball.

I already talked about Pedro's return and I was prophetic in how he came back to Dodger Stadium and locked us up in Game 2 of the NLCS. It's hard to imagine he won't do the same against his most famous foe outside of Tampa Bay.

He pitched one of the greatest games at the old Yankee Stadium (1 hit, 17 K's). Outdueled Roger Clemens at Fenway in 1999. And who can forget the 2003 fight he started with Karim Garcia and Don Zimmer in the ALCS - something he apologized for and spoke about yesterday

But I'm excited for tomorrow's game. I'll be at Universal Studios but I'll be checking from the phone all night.

Oh yeah, the NBA is BACK!!!!! The Lakers got their rings and it's time to start the journey for the repeat. I couldn't tell if they looked that good or the Clippers were that bad with all those easy turnovers but it's gonna be a great start with most of the games at home.

And I hate to say it, but Boston looks scary. Marquis Daniels might be the steal of the offseason off the bench and Rasheed Wallace looks like he fits in perfectly. I hate them but I love how they play. They made Charlotte look like a JV HS team tonight.

Cleveland won't do much not because Shaq clogs up the middle. They won't because their bench players still don't show up consistently.

I'm watching Denver's Ty Lawson tear up the Utah Jazz. Did people really think he couldn't play in the league because he was short? He's fast, gets to the rim, has a decent jumper and he's strong. Most of all, he's smart and won't make too many mistakes. The perfect heir to Billups IMO.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Living Dead

The world has gone to hell when you read a story like what came out of Richmond, CA. For two hours, a 15 y.o. girl was gang raped at her homecoming while 20 people watched. I wish I could tell you more or link it, but I don't have the heart or stomach to read this story without being ill.

What kid in their right mind could watch this? What kid in their right mind could stand numbly, be entertained and not feel for this girl? Please tell me no girls watched this because then I'd grieve that could not feel for her.

I know we joke a lot about the state of mainstream hip-hop not boding well for the future. But this right here is a clear reason why our youth need all the guidance they can get. This is our future and in poorer areas, we are seeing child zombies just act and react with little to no thought.

I call them the living dead because they walk with no purpose. Aimless and going through the motions they see through entertainment. Soulless creatures that TS Eliot would no doubt put in his "Wasteland", his epic poem about the decay of society.

These kids should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And the witnesses ought to be expelled for not doing anything. Zombies watching their kind feed should be treated like criminals. So sad and yes my blood boils and heart aches at the same time.

Monday, October 26, 2009

VSR: Mark McGwire - A Hitting Coach??? I Got A Better Idea

So Big Mac has come out of hiding since the Congressional steroid hearings the St. Louis Cardinals' hitting instructor. Now explain to me how this makes sense? As far as I could recall, McGwire was NEVER a great hitter - perhaps the most one-dimensional star of the 90's. In true Tim Russert fashion, let's go to the evidence courtesy of (i LOVE this site)

Only once did McGwire hit over .300 in one year (1996) and technically he hit .305 in 89 games in 2000. He hit .299 in that "magical" 1998 year. But take one look at his career batting average - a whopping .263. Does that scream hitting instructor? He's a great slugger (.588 slugging percentage is 9th best all time) but someone who can teach hitting?

Put it in perspective. Albert Pujols has a batting average nearly 70 points higher. What possibly could Big Mac teach him about hitting except to improve his power? And plate discipline? Dude averaged 130 strikeouts a season (over 100 times for 10 seasons). C'mon son.

I saw McGwire as a slugger when he played. A great power stroke but not exactly a great hitter. There's a difference between sending a ball to the bleachers and hitting a bunch of pop flies than knowing how to hit a ball and where to place it. Forget the steroid suspicion, the guy was one-dimensional before 1998 and even moreso afterwards. He got the job pure and simple because Tony La Russa is the manager and he's looking out for his former player.

Now if you want a guy who'd make a fine hitting instructor, I have a candidate. He batted over .300 11 times in his career with a .302 batting average during the 1990's (In all but one year, he batted better than .291). His career batting average is .298.

He also struck out fewer than 100 times every year in his career except his rookie year. All during his career, he was praised for his great batting eye. And now I present my best candidate to be a team hitting instructor.

Surprised? All of those numbers I mentioned belong to this guy. And for the ugly steroid argument, I threw in his 1990's totals when he along with Ken Griffey Jr. were the best players of the decade. Say what you want about him being a cheater, the guy could flat out hit and is better qualified to be a hitting instructor than McGwire.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Electric Relaxation: "I Believe" by Blessid Union of Souls

This has always been one of my favorite songs and after I read the wikipedia entry on it, it made me love it more. First, I'm a sucker for piano music and for a song driven by it, it's soft but it has a force that overwhelms you.

I love the structure of it and it just hit me how this is just great writing about love. The first verse is 3rd person telling someone to trust their heart involving the writer's feelings and take a chance. The second takes the theme to a universal level, touching on homelessness, drug abuse, violence. And the third just sees the writer bare their soul about being denied a relationship because he's Black and hoping her father sees him as a human.

It's great writing because Eliot Sloan turns the spotlight from his love interest to the world at large and then back to himself. And then his voice just glides over the piano with the right amount of pain and emotion to convey his passion without sounding sappy.

I tried to learn this song on the piano by ear and it's a dream of mine to play it. It's beautiful and it's timeless in my opinion. I actually tried to learn the melody of the verses but it's tough. I'd rather listen and just love it.

Great songs draw the listener in by shared experience. I learned in an English class that the best writers appealed to universal themes by drawing upon incidents in their own life. My favorite writer James Baldwin did this to perfection. This song does this too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Guitar Heroes of the 90's and Beyond

I really hate sometimes how people look down on music since 1980. Every great music poll is heavy on music from the 60's and 70's and sometimes I feel like the last 30 years isn't getting its due.

Guitar gods are only 60-70's legends. Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Ritchie Blackmore, Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page, etc...well I say you better add these geniuses from the 1990's and beyond carrying on tradition. I might do one for the 80's too just to include Stevie Ray, Slash, Kendall from Fishbone, Vernon Reid, etc...

Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine) - SOUL Power with the fury of activism in each note. Some of the most inventive guitar playing I've ever heard. - see "Bulls on Parade" "Know Your Enemy" "Guerilla Radio"

Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) - an underrated harmonizing vocalist and just plays with a dark, beautiful angst. See "Man in a Box" "Them Bones" "Would"

Dimebag Darrell (Pantera/Damageplan) - Rest in Peace to a metal legend. I'm glad I got turned on to Pantera late last year and moreso this year. See "Cemetery Gates" "Floods" and "Walk"

Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) - "Rusty Cage" "Jesus Christ Pose" "Black Hole Sun"....if this guy isnt the most underrated guitarist of the decade, I dare you to school me. MIA since the band broke up.

Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead) - I've said for years that I can't get into Radiohead but this year might change. Listen to "Paranoid Android" and that stormtrooper noise on "Creep" and realize that dude is a genius. Should've won an Oscar for There Will Be Blood's score but rules kept him from it.

Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins/Zwan) - Yeah he's a better songwriter/vocalist than actual instrumentalist. But listen to "Geek USA", "Cherub Rock" "Zero" and tell me he's not a decent shredder too.

Jack White (White Stripes/Raconteurs) - A combo of Detroit fury, Southern blues and old-fashioned rock makes all that WS sound. Rolling Stone ranked him too high in their poll but he's a guitar genius in training. "Seven Nation Army," "Icky Thump" prove it to me.

Mike Einziger (Incubus) - He's underrated as well because Incubus got a few female fans off Brandon's looks. But his guitar playing is creative and can cross genres, giving Incubus a diverse sound that makes them one of the most unique bands of the late 90's-early 00's.

Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) - In the mold of hard rock legends before, McCready gives that 70's arena rock flair to a great band. The whole 10 album says he's a great player (Black and Alive) and he's still killin it on songs.

John Frusicante (Red Hot Chili Peppers) - The last guy I'm mentioning. My 2nd favorite guitarist of all time - Melody, psychedelia, hard rock, Hendrix-like. Too many solos to name, too many great songs to peep. A teen prodigy who blossomed into one of the most technically sound guitarists of my lifetime.

So I more to name. Actually I'll just show his pic and let y'all bug out

WTF???? Have I lost my Black mind calling this pretty boy a guitar hero. Heck yeah I did and for good reason.

John Mayer deserves to be on this list. Don't let the small voice and simple lyrics fool you, he can PLAY. After watching "Human Nature" at Michael Jackson's funeral and seeing him perform live, dude is bringing the blues alive in that soul of his.

I'm not putting him in Stevie Ray Vaughan's shoes. But I am saying that his skill is underrated and he surprises people with the soul and richness he brings to his craft.

Shedding the Ghosts of Octobers Past

If there's a been a story this postseason bigger than Alex Rodriguez shedding his postseason label of choker - you gotta convince me. And no, Ryan Howard showing why I dubbed him the "Black Beast" against my Dodgers doesnt count.

A-Rod has gone from being the poster boy of baseball purity to the poster boy of steroids earlier this year and now one of the big reasons postseason ratings are through the roof. All from a guy who has traditionally choked in the postseason. Peep his statline this year after Game 4 tonight (.407 BA, 5 HR's, 11 RBI's, including one in every game.)

I've been saying it on Twitter, he's acting like Barry Bonds did in 2002. Bonds was a notorious October goat, but in 2002, Bonds carried the Giants to the World Series with his bat (a playoff-record 8 home runs). Rodriguez is doing the same thing now.

CC Sabathia is another player haunted by October failures.'s Howard Bryant made a great, yet ignoble comparison in calling him the best regular season pitcher since Dodgers legend Don Newcombe to fail in the postseason. He famously lost in Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS when a win would've sent Cleveland to the World Series.

He's also my favorite pitcher. Strong, dominant, workhorse, mechanically sound - the best Black starting pitcher the game has seen in years. Not since Dave Stewart and Dwight Gooden has there been a Black ace consistently this good. Three straight years in the Cy Young Top 5 counting this one

So far after tonight, he's 3-0 with only three earned runs in 20.2 innings. Something about those Yankee pinstripes helped him and A-Rod exorcise those demons of Octobers past.

I went to Game 4 tonight expecting the Yankees to win. The last time I saw Sabathia pitch, he was with Cleveland and was masterful on the mound and with his bat (a towering HR). I guess karma couldn't hurt - especially when he was on 3 days rest.

What I saw was Sabathia cruise through four innings like smooth jazz. I saw him get tough in the fifth and sixth innings when the Angels rallied like a furious trumpet solo. Then he finish them off with raw power in 7 and 8 like Iggy Pop's old band.

Angels in the Outfield? They barely hit any balls outside of the infield. It was power pitching at its finest and when the maestro was done, he threw 101 pitches. The last was a hard fastball (95 mph) meekly grounded back for an easy out. Short rest be darned - this was a must win in October baseball and he got it.

8 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 5 strikouts = The W

Then you have Mr. Rodriguez. The green-eyed target for all the haters. I had never seen him play before live so this was a treat. And I saw all of his talent just in this game.

1st at bat - walk and a stolen base (the Angels forgot he has wheels and left second base wide open). 2nd at bat - he singled and two men later, he scored on a low slide to avoid a high throw. A smart play/perfect technique. Next inning - he powers a ball to left field for a home run. And just for good measure, he ends the 9th inning with a double and then scores on a fielding error.

3-4, 3 runs scored, a triple short of the cycle. A stolen base. A-Rod in a nutshell.

I saw his speed, his smarts, his power and his great hitting eye. He's no steroid creation folks, they only enhanced the natural talents he had. And when he's in a zone, few do it better in the game today.

Both of them are the reasons why the Yankees are favored to win the World Series assuming they hold this lead. October is where reputations are made, just ask the last guy I passed in the Yankees locker room tonight, Reggie Jackson. It was almost fitting Mr. October himself was there to see two former goats come up clutch in a must-win.

This postseason has been about exorcism. The Angels beating the Red Sox for the first time after 23 years of heartbreak. The Dodgers beating the Cardinals for the first time in October. The Yankees finally maybe beating the Angels this decade, the Dodgers.....ummmm yeah nevermind about that.

A-Rod and CC sent a few more ghosts to the October sky to evaporate and by next week, they could send them away for good in the World Series. Call it Anti-Halloween.

Monday, October 19, 2009

VSR: Game 4 Heartbreak (Deja Vu All Over Again)

Ill to my stomach barely describes it. That deep cavernous Citizens Bank Park is a house of horrors in the postseason. And now we have another year of Game 4 heartbreak.

That pic says it all. Jonathan Broxton walking off the mound and Carlos Ruiz scoring the winning run before Philly mobs him. Different city, same sinking feeling after Game 4....

Last year, I watched at the office when Cory Wade gave up his first runs in the season to Shane Victorino a two-run home run, followed by Broxton giving up a pinch-hit two run bomb to Matt Stairs. I was pissed that night in the office and pretty much wrote a story of optimism saying this Dodgers team was young and the loss didn't overshadow the talent they had.

Well I was right and wrong. They rebounded to have the best record in the National League even with Manny Ramirez missing 50 games. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp rose up to carry the team, Clayton Kershaw showed he's an ace in training and Chad Billingsley had a great first half.

And yet, here we are again. Game 4. A late lead gone in one pitch. Broxton's once again the goat and I'm figuring out what I'm gonna write this year. One out away from tying the series and Jimmy Rollins has killed it in one swing. *takes another swig of this Aquafina bottle*

Last year was youth. This year was about being out-managed and outplayed. The Young Prince in Game 1? Backfire. Starting Hiroki Kuroda in Game 3? MAJOR MISTAKE. Leaving Jon Garland and Jeff Weaver off the NLCS roster? TERRIBLE!

*and I didn't know Philly's park was so huge. Victorino got a long triple down the foul line and J-Roll's game winner went deeeeeep as Ruiz scored from first.*

Last year was about Manny carrying this team. This year was about Ethier and Kemp and only one of them doing it consistently in the postseason. I'm not sure what to think about the team next year except they will get better. But as I get ready for Game 5 on Wednesday, all we can do is hope Vicente Padilla brings the series back home.

Bad loss indeed. Two years in a row? Too much.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back from the Dark Ages to Report in the Present

Apologies to my loyal readers. The last week has been absolutely hectic - the biggest thing is finally moving into our new house. After two months in a hotel, we're finally in our own beds, under a solid roof and parking our cars in a garage.

We moved in Thursday and kept moving stuff in the last few days. Unfortunately the internet hasn't arrived yet but it should be in tomorrow so I'll be able to do all those things I miss - tweet, blog, go live on blog TV, Net Surfin.

My phone has literally been my lifeline to the outside world, thank Blackberry for that. But the house is beautiful and all I can do is thank God for it because Mom followed a LOT of faith in the process and it's a blessing for her. I'll try to take pictures and post for y'all.

The whole process was humbling, a bit claustrophobic but interesting. I still have a key card from the hotel to remind me of it all and when I look out and see the view from our deck, I'm in awe of what God blessed us with.

Oh yeah, I got my baby back! My dog had to stay in a kennel for 2 months and she's back trying to get used to freedom. It's an adjustment but I'm giving her more of my time to let her feel some love.

Alritey, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lessons Learned from Copenhagen

(I thought this was gonna run in the paper this week but it didn't so goodies for y'all. Advice for our president after the events of last week. And I apologize for it being so formal, I expected it to run in a newspaper, not my personal blog.)

A week after watching Chicago lose in their bid for the 2016 Olympics, the outcry over President Obama’s role in the city’s bid has died down.

Quick recap. Pundits, critics and anybody with a voice saw it as a huge blow to his image, one that some said he’d never recover from. They called him a failure as he was solely responsible for the city receiving the fewest votes.

I don’t see blame being passed around to Oprah Winfrey or First Lady Michelle Obama. I guess nobody wants to criticize it as a sign of Oprah not being a big deal anywhere else besides America and Africa.

To me, both takes are an exaggeration – there’s truth in both statements but not as much as you think.

The real discussion shouldn’t focus on who’s fault it was Chicago didn’t get the 2016 Olympics – Rio de Janeiro had the better presentation – but should the President have been there to begin with?

One criticism of Mr. Obama is that he is trying to tackle too much all at once. If he felt the need to send a delegation led by the First Lady, so be it. But with his plate full as it is, a quick business trip to Copenhagen was not necessary.

If anything it proved that former Secretary of State Colin Powell might have been right in his criticism that Mr. Obama is spreading himself too thin by tackling too many issues.

Also it was not a good week for Chicago. The tragic murder of 16-year-old Derrion Albert highlighted the cycle of violence plaguing the city in recent years and all we heard from the White House was a brief statement.

It would have been enough had not the city’s most famous resident left the country to appeal for it being a suitable host for the world’s biggest competition.

The timing could not have been worse. To residents, it was more important to promote Chicago’s attractive qualities instead of addressing a more pressing issue.

Some news stations highlighted Mr. Obama’s trip right before showing the footage of Albert’s murder. Extreme? Perhaps, but it showed where the pulse of the country was.

His statement on the issue was enough but his actions afterwards left some feeling there was mixed messages.

One of the principles of being a leader is knowing how and when to delegate. Another is knowing when to pick your battles. With health care raging in Congress and military leaders expressing their questions about Afghanistan, the Olympics were and should have been lower on his personal radar.

But going to Copenhagen wasn’t a significant failure. It wasn’t a political hit that stained his term. It was a gamble that fell short – a last-minute appeal would not have swayed the International Olympic Committee who operate on their own volition.

It’s a gamble that perhaps should not have been taken and while more will be taken, one hopes that Mr. Obama – and the country – will understand if he sends others to play his hand.

This lesson may have been learned as he delegated Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Eric Holder to Chicago yesterday to discuss how the administration will seek to combat youth violence.

Despite all of this, the country is going to have accept one thing. Barack Obama is a President, not a miracle worker. He serves America, not just Black America. He cannot and should not be everywhere.

Everything he touches will not succeed and some things he leaves alone, others can solve them better.

That ultimately is the lesson that the President will learn from Chicago’s failed Olympic bid.

VSR: Winning May Be Ugly, But I'll Take It

If you look back at the NLDS Game 1, it was an ugly, long game that somehow turned in the Dodgers' favor. Ugly but the bright spots were valuable.

Matt Kemp? 1-5, only hit was a two-run blast in the first inning that gave the Dodgers the lead they never relinquished.

Randy Wolf? Didn't get out of the 4th inning after being the Dodgers' best pitcher over the 2nd half.

A combined 52 men left on base? Way more than any of the other games Thursday combined. It was uuuuuuuugly (c) hyenas from Lion King.

Only consistent bright spot was Rafael Furcal (3 hits and a Run). Everytime he plays well, the Dodgers get the W because he sets the tone at the plate. But this game was about the brilliance of Joe Torre picking his spots and the Dodger bullpen giving up 5 hits in 5 1/3 innings

It was about a simple game plan - play by the moment and go on instinct. Make the Cardinals beat you without Albert Pujols by walking him twice. Bring in Jeff Weaver to get out of a bases-loaded jam? Strange but Weaver did just that. Torre's skill won this game just as much as the bullpen and timely hitting.

On Facebook, a friend's status was telling. It's the first time the Dodgers have won games in back-to-back postseasons since doing it in 1985 and 1988. Getting wins in the postseason are no longer cause for celebration like we did in 2004, we're here and it's time to get to business.

The Lakers started their preseason tonight with the biggest story being Shannon Brown's tea party on Mikki Moore. But as much as I love my Lakers, it's time to focus on getting a World Series back here. Tonight was the first step and although it was hard to watch, it ended the way Dodgers fans liked.

By the way, watching them win the NL West on Saturday at the Stadium? Priceless!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

VSR: Torero Pride in Tampa Bay

This right here is why today was a great day. For the first time ever, a player from my alma mater started an NFL game as University of San Diego's finest Josh Johnson suited up for Tampa Bay. And what better start than him throwing a TD on his first pass of the game.

Johnson played at USD from 2004-2008 and I was there for the first two years. I remember watching him as a freshman knowing he had the potential to do something great (one time he even returned a kickoff, why I dunno?). His first year as a starter (2005-06), he beat Yale on my 21st birthday, the first time anyone from the Pioneer League had beaten an Ivy League.

No better authority than Jim Harbaugh coached him those first three years and he developed from a great running QB to one who looked to pass 1st, run 2nd. He ran the West Coast offense well in those last 3 years and left as the most decorated player in school history (leading the nation in total offense in 2007).

He ended up finishing 3rd for the Walter Payton Award (D 1-AA Heisman) as a senior after throwing 43 TD's with only 1 INT. Better yet, he added muscle to his frame by the time he got drafted in the 5th round (a bad throwing combine dropped him down from 3rd round projections despite his 4.5 speed).

Oh yeah, he suffered a leg injury after his freshman year. I remember showing up to a dance on crutches, still finding a way to have a good time. I knew him in passing but he was a cool dude on campus at least while I was there.

We knew he had potential back then. If Jim Harbaugh says you're an NFL QB, you're ready. He had a decent day (13-22, 106 yards with a TD and pick --- 41 rushing yards on 7 carries) and it's hopefully the start of more things to come.

Congrats JJ. You represent all of us down there.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Real Talk from Nas (For Derrion Albert)

On her site, my friend Daisy posted this open letter to the kids of Chicago from Nas in lieu of the senseless murder of Derrion Albert. Please take the time to read it because instead of just decrying the tragedy, we need to talk to the kids and let them to know to find other avenues.

For people who want to blame hip-hop so much even when it's irrelevant, here's my rebuttal. Props to him and anyone else looking to stop this trend of violence among our youth.

Dear Young Warriors fighting the wrong wars! Killing each other is definitely played out. Being hurt from the lost of a love one was never cool.

Dear Young Warriors fighting the wrong war! I know that feeling, that frustration with life and needing to take it out on someone, any one. But....

We chose the dumbest things to go the hardest for. I remember seeing deaths over 8 ball jackets, Fila sneakers, and name plate chains. Deaths over "he say, she say"!!!!! "I'm from this block or I'm from that block", or "my moms n pops is f*cked up now the whole world gotta pay"!!!

I remember feeling like I was the hardest "n*gga" breathing. And I couldn't wait to prove it. But let's think. What are we really proving?? And proving what to who?? Everybody knows Chicago breeds the strongest of the strong but I just feel, me, being ya brother from another state feels your pain as if I grew up with you in ya very own household.

You have the ability and mindpower to change they way we are looked at. Look who's watching us young warriors, look who's throwing us in jail constantly, look at the ignorance in the world. Look at the racist dogs who love to see us down. Loving to bury us in the ground or in jail where we continue this worthless war on one another.

Young warriors.... We are WASTING more and more time. We gotta get on our jobs and take over the world. Cuz this movie left the theaters years ago, Juice, Menace, Boys n the Hood , Blood n Blood Out, Belly!

When we see each other why do we see hatred? Why were we born in a storm, born soldiers, WARRIORS....and instead of building each other up we are at war with each other.. May the soul of this young person find peace with the almighty. I'm with you young warriors. You're me and I'm you. But trust me! you are fighting the wrong war.

This sh*t sucks !!


*UPDATE*Your fight should to be about becoming bigger and better. To have your own businesses. Real businesses Not Hustles. To have careers not jobs. Not selling mixtapes. You have the resources to do anything you want. There's no excuses. We have no one to blame but ourselves.. We have so much great work to do!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009


Just like I promised Wednesday, here's the links to my story on Stafon Johnson - he's doing well and now active on Twitter (@stafon13) but this will give you a better sense of why the community has embraced him for years.

Enjoy your weekend everyone. I'll be watching my usual Friday Night Lights game of the week and Saturday I'll be at Chavez Ravine hoping the Dodgers don't have a victory party (I want it Friday but I'll take it if I'm there)