Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My personal Opinion: Kanye West's 808's and Heartbreak is gourmet BASURA.

I like Kanye West. I think he ushered in a period of heavy soul sampling production and homage to past legends in hip hop. For the most part, I have liked his music. I enjoyed College Dropout. I felt it was a groundbreaking album that gave balance to the Universe, especially with 50 Cent at that point carrying the flag for the Gangsta side of Rap. Kanye "kept it real." Didn't claim to be a tough guy, didn't rhyme every other song about gun talk or his latest Sexual conquest. Instead, he had songs about family (Family business)  overcoming adversity (I'll fly away and Through the Wire) and even found some time to put a little religion into it (Jesus Walks). Those songs were just on his first Album!! I have a hard time recalling another debut album since 2000 which has had the type of impact and buzz that the College Dropout did. Following up with Late Registration (sense a theme here?) he broke the Sophomore jinx with monster hits like Touch the Sky, Gold Digger, Hey Mama (especially poingnant now) celebration, and Bring me down. My personal favorite (and the song I feel is him baring his soul) from this album would definitely have to be Diamonds from Sierra Leone. Before this song I had minimal knowledge of the blood diamond trade and the evil being done to African People in Diamond Mining regions. To keep this blog from becoming a book, I'll skip his next album, Graduation, which I also love and also went platinum, just like his previous 2, and get to my major issue with Mr. Kanye to the (West's) Musical catalogue. 808's and Heartbreak. While I understand the general premise behind the album, (messy and painful break up from his fiance) his method of production and delivery has left me scratching my head. First of all, the worst decision Kanye West could have ever made was to blatantly copy someone else's style or grab onto a current (and fast expiring, hopefully) trend. Yet he somehow managed to do BOTH! He basically became K-Payne and did the entire frickin album using Auto-Tune. The entire album. And if that wasn't bad enough, he doesn't rap on the album. At all. Instead? HE SINGS. Kanye West should not sing. Kanye West should produce and rap. For this reason, whenever someone asks me if I heard Kanye's new Rap CD,I have to quickly correct them and let them know that Kanye West's new album is pop. Not even R&B, but pop. The ONLY person who has gotten away with doing an album of this nature was most notably, Andre 3000 with The Love Below (Fantastic!!) and Lauryn Hill with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (Top 15 all time album). And even with these notable exceptions, both artists rhymed on these albums. I firmly believe that Kanye West was taken aback and felt personally threatened by this tidal wave movement of Auto Tune in Rap. Almost everyone of note has used it, from Lil'Wayne to Snoop Dogg (Keep fighting the urge, Jay-z!!). The fact that this artist who has prided himself on being original would fall into this trap is depressing and irritating for me, the faithful listener. It's not like his old ways weren't being awarded commercially or artistically (He's one ten Grammy Awards®!!). This musical blunder  now forces me to place this album in the same file folder as Rocky V, which never happened. I can only hope that Kanye gets back on track and produces good Hip Hop.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I beg to differ! Sort of...

In reading the blog post of my contemporary, Mr. LaiHing, I was presented with many valid points, and agreed with much of what I read.

1. Stephon Marbury, statistically, IS one of the greatest point guards of all time. Yup, it's true...but statistically, ok? Don't think I'm crazy.

2. I fall somewhere between the media and Steven on this one. While he isn't the villain he has been portrayed to be... well, he still said this:

"'From what I've seen, he allowed Steve Nash to dribble the ball for 22 seconds,' Marbury said. ‘He allows guys to shoot coming down on the break, one-on-three. For me, I like that style of basketball.'"

 Again, I agree that the media has blown him up to be this big-time cancer, when in reality he is one semi-drunk talk show appearance and one playoff run from being a healthier version of...Baron Davis.

3. NO WAY should he give the Knicks money back. Even if Steph isn't the smartest, classiest guy, the Knicks organization definitely hasn't taken the high road in this matter either. If you are throwing a guy away after your disgust eventually became mutual, that still is not grounds for him to take a pay cut, especially considering he has cleaned up his act and behaved as you would have wanted.

4. Ok, I'm talking too long. I totally agree--D'antoni gave Marbury NO opportunity to play, even though he was poised to have a great season because of his preparation and physical condition. Oh well...

5. Aaaaaaaand let the disagreeing begin! LOL

Marbury has done a good thing with his Starbury line, and he did do well to maintain a low profile off the court for many years...but come on. COME ON! He's a known headcase, and his behavior has in 2 particular instances been in conjunction with the worst opinions thought of the NBA.

In Minnesota, even at a young age, he let his envy of Kevin Garnett's big paycheck push him out of town. He wounded a franchise, not for aspiration of championships, or even substantially bigger paychecks--but just for pride. Sometimes NBA players are seen as overpaid and self-absorbed, and for the most part wholly unfairly. But Steph was one of the players (along with Latrell "I gotta feed my kids" Sprewell, lol) who helped perpetuate that myth.

And of course, in the Anucha Brown-Sanders case... let's just not discuss any details. Again, off-the-court Steph was NOT leaving the public with the best image of the NBA.

I didn't really google around and see if any other situations had arisen, and that's really not my goal. I'm not trying to bury the man. And I don't think he deserves being punished in this riduculous way this season either. I just know that he has definitely had and caused issues on a number of his teams...which explains why he made it to team #4, the Knicks, anyway.

6. I believe that Marbury will NOT have an instant impact...UNLESS...he signs with the New Orleans Hornets. Seriously. No other team either needs the skills he can offer, or afford the let-down in chemistry. Spurs? He'd be in the way of solid rookie George Hill. Mavs? Two words: Jason-Terry. Suns? Barbosa. Out east? The Nets, Cavs, Celtics, Magic, and Pistons all have scoring off the bench. The Raptors should just avoid messing up chemistry...they have enough problems to deal with already (We'll miss you, Sam!).

The Hornets need scoring off of their bench in the worst way, and Marbury is, at worst, better than Jannero Pargo (their 6th man last year). So he should go there, or...be square.

So I do agree with the better part of what Steven was saying. I think we mainly disagree on who Stephon is as a person and how valuable he is as a player right now. I don't think he's a model citizen, but that's why I actually do applaud him for handling this situation as best he can. I understand his desire to keep his entire paycheck, and I don't see any reason for him to fight for anything less. Heck, if I went through the last few seasons he has experienced as a New York Knickerbocker, I might've tried to sue for double.

But honestly, I had a different view of this entire situation until yesterday, when I heard an ESPN analyst discussing Plaxico Burress. Plaxico is potentially headed to serve 3 1/2 - 15 years in prison for a felony gun charge. The media has done everything but place a dunce cap on his head and label him with politically incorrect characterizations. They've at least stayed politically correct with their insults.

Apparently, from ESPN analyst's belief, Plaxico has not been the same since the loss of his mother in 2002. His loss doesn't excuse his behavior, but it does help remind us that the guy IS human, and that no person should be treated like scum for their decisions.

In a way, Steph should be grateful for where he is--in a league with guaranteed money. And the Knicks should be equally grateful--at least the player they're eventually gonna lost isn't one they had hoped to keep.

Enough with this foolishness...Let's try looking at Stephon Marbury without clouded vision.

Ok, after reading as much coverage as I could about Marbury's debacle with the Knicks, I would like to put in my viewpoint. Many things have been said about Stephon Marbury, and, I am sure the assertions I am about to make will be directly confronted and disagreed with by a sizable amount of basketball fans. I don't really care. I truly believe that:

1)Stephon Marbury is a good basketball player with historic statistics over his career.

2)He is not the selfish me-first player the press keep pushing. (8 assists over your career does not point to a gunslinger shoot happy player. See Bryant, Kobe, and Iverson, Allen.)

3)He should get every penny of his contract whether he plays or not.

4)Coach D'antoni never gave him a real chance at contributing in the offense and being a part of the team.

5)He has, after 12 years in the NBA, kept himself completely free of law enforcement and giving the league a bad name through his off court behavior. On the contrary, I think he has done more through his business decisions for his community then any modern NBA player except Manute Bol and Dikembe Mutumbo, and Shaquille O'Neal.

6) He will sign with a new team and will make an instant impact, as well as getting his first playoff series win, further leaving Tracy McGrady by himself as an elite player who has not gotten out of the first round of the Playoffs.

Now are these views popular right now? Absolutely not. He is, according to most, an idiot who happens to play basketball (and not very well) who doesn't realize what he has and should be banished somewhere. Foolishness. I applaud Stephon Marbury playing hardball with the Knicks. This is a lucrative business, and I have seen to many good hearted, loyal players get stabbed and shot in the back from their teams. I say it's a two way street. The Knicks signed the contract, making Stephon a franchise player. It's a business. Nobody said the Knicks and Marbury had to be bosom buddies. He has played and contributed greatly, as a team leader in several categories. He took them to the playoffs. He made All-Star teams. Now that the new coach comes in, who has previous history with him, he doesn't play? Now I do not condone his attitude or comments, but at some point I believe these never-ending attacks become less about his actions and more about tearing him down. How do you bench the best player on your team? Makes no sense to me. Anyways, here are his regular season stats, do with them what you wish. I would love to read your comments about this...