Fighter: Lupe Fiasco Trainer (Gym): Charles “Chilly” Patton (1st & 15th Entertainment, Atlantic Records) Cut Men: Lupe Fiasco, DJ Dahi, The Buchanans, S1, Vohn Beatz, DJ Simonsayz, MoeZ’art, M-Phazes, Blood Diamonds, JackLNDN, Marcus Stephens Weight Class: Lyrical Heavyweight/Conscious Rap Notable Fire: Deliver, Mural, They.Resurrect.Over.New Feat. Ab-Soul, Prisoner 1 & 2 Feat. Ayesha Jaco Notable Trash: Madonna Feat. Nikki Jean, No Scratches
The Preseason Podcast of the Year is back on St. Paddy’s Day to examine Kendrick Lamar’s highly anticipated new album To Pimp A Butterfly! What makes this LP different? And break out your brackets, because we pick a winner for every single NCAA Men’s Tournament game! You know HHSR has been hot with the predictions! Will Kentucky go undefeated? HHSR
Read these lyrics carefully: Let’s talk about how I’m killin everything I touches/ Or how I walked in this game with no crutches/ No Diddy, No Dupri, No Dr. Dre/ No Cash Money from Baby and no Rocs from Jay/ And I’m still here (still here), we still here (still here)… His hand was forced. Fabolous had to go the
The home of the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks was once known as “The Highlight Factory”, but these days any number of teams could rightfully hold that popular moniker. Move over Larry Wilmore— the NBA is a nightly show with eye popping must-Vine performances that literally stay on loop. Sadly, a looming lockout could ruin it all. Now we at
Lots of thoughts on the NBA MVP race— what better place to get them off than a good ole’ fashion Hot 16?! 1) The Contenders, the Second Tier and Everybody Else- We basically have four legitimate MVP candidates. As of this weekend, everyone’s fake ballot has Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, LeBron James and James Harden in some order at the
Fighter: Lupe Fiasco
Trainer (Gym): Charles “Chilly” Patton (1st & 15th Entertainment, Atlantic Records)
Cut Men: Lupe Fiasco, DJ Dahi, The Buchanans, S1, Vohn Beatz, DJ Simonsayz, MoeZ’art, M-Phazes, Blood Diamonds, JackLNDN, Marcus Stephens
Weight Class: Lyrical Heavyweight/Conscious Rap
Notable Trash: Madonna Feat. Nikki Jean, No Scratches Feat. Nikki Jean
Tale of the Tape: “The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.”— John Locke
If you’ve never written an album review before, understand it’s a pretty daunting task. Forget being charged with the duty of attempting to place a definitive measurement of quality on art — who is anybody to do that, really — simply comprehending everything an artist is attempting to convey to the listener without misinterpretation is basically an exercise in futility. In rap especially, artists are admired (at least they used to be) for their capacity to explore complex metaphors, double entendres and an overall cunning wit when piecing their rhymes together. If word is bond, wordplay is reverence.
Then there is Lupe Fiasco.
For all his Midwestern sensibilities and overall do-goodedness, Lupe’s raps come off to many as unnecessarily draped in sanctimony. Whether or not this criticism is warranted is up for debate, but for now, this is Lupe’s plight. He aggressively doubled-down on this criticism, through a deliberately convoluted theme, on his fifth LP Tetsuo & Youth.
The Preseason Podcast of the Year is back on St. Paddy’s Day to examine Kendrick Lamar’s highly anticipated new album To Pimp A Butterfly! What makes this LP different? And break out your brackets, because we pick a winner for every single NCAA Men’s Tournament game! You know HHSR has been hot with the predictions! Will Kentucky go undefeated?
Read these lyrics carefully:
Let’s talk about how I’m killin everything I touches/ Or how I walked in this game with no crutches/ No Diddy, No Dupri, No Dr. Dre/ No Cash Money from Baby and no Rocs from Jay/ And I’m still here (still here), we still here (still here)…
His hand was forced.
Fabolous had to go the direct route to articulate his career when he penned the above lyrics for the intro of his 2009 album Loso’s Way. It was about the only way to bring attention to a career that has, in this era anyway, defied logic. He wasn’t afforded the luxury of breaking in on Bad Boy, Cash Money, Aftermath or Roc-A-Fella, like so many of rap’s elite from the early 2000s through today can say. Although he did come in with a cosign from DJ Clue, where has Clue been the last several years? Each of those other music moguls he mentioned are still extremely relevant in 2015, except Jermaine Dupri.
Sidebar: No disrespect to Clue or JD, just saying.
Where would Kanye West be without Jay Z? Still getting jerked by Capitol Records? Where would Eminem & 50 Cent be without Dre? Possibly still battle rapping and fake robbing MCs. Where would Wayne be without Birdman (recent events aside)? Each of these entrepreneurs, like legendary coach Paul Brown did for football, are not only responsible for a few highly successful MCs, but an entire tree of successful rap artists.
Sidebar: HHSR— the only place on the internet you’ll find a Paul Brown reference in an article about Fabolous!
Fab had none of that. In fact, he dropped his debut album the same day Jay dropped the legendary record The Blueprint— September 11, 2001. How’s that for an introduction to the hip-hop world? Fab managed to overcome this, and a misspelled stage name that was already a peculiar choice to begin with, to author a career nearly 15 years in the making. To call this a rarity in hip-hop would be quite the understatement; it didn’t hurt that he managed to drop a gem or two along the way. Read more
The home of the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks was once known as “The Highlight Factory”, but these days any number of teams could rightfully hold that popular moniker. Move over Larry Wilmore— the NBA is a nightly show with eye popping must-Vine performances that literally stay on loop. Sadly, a looming lockout could ruin it all.
Now we at HHSR can’t fix every issue between labor and ownership (yet) but we have found answer to one key topic in dispute: the NBA Draft age limit.
In 2006 the NBA created what became known as the “One and Done” rule, which dictated that one must be at least 19 years old and one year removed from their high school graduation to be eligible to be drafted. The NBA wanted to raise the age limit to 20 or 21 but gave into the National Basketball Players Association’s objections after the NBPA took everything but the kitchen sink in the negotiations following the 16 game lockout of 2011.
Fortunately, we have found a compromise that should appease everyone including the owners, players, the NCAA and most importantly the fans (we do it for the people at HHSR). Read more
The expansion continues!
The Preseason Podcast of the Year, also known as The Hip-Hop Sport Report Podcast, is now available on Stitcher and the Stitcher App! The radio on demand site has joined the likes of iTunes and Podbay.fm on the growing list of the enlightened who made the shrewd decision to include our unique blend of sports and hip-hop audio culture into their operation.
We salute you, Stitcher! And if you’re old skool about yours, you can always access the podcast the old fashion way!
Lots of thoughts on the NBA MVP race— what better place to get them off than a good ole’ fashion Hot 16?!
1) The Contenders, the Second Tier and Everybody Else- We basically have four legitimate MVP candidates. As of this weekend, everyone’s fake ballot has Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry, LeBron James and James Harden in some order at the top. Beyond this foursome, Anthony Davis, Chris Paul and Marc Gasol probably deserve some consideration. The rest of the NBA’s 393 some odd players are pretty much tied for eighth place.
2) The Case For Westbrook- In the spirit of keeping our readers informed with HHSR’s streak of hot fiya predictions, we did call Russell Westbrook a dark horse MVP candidate at the start of the year. With Kevin Durant being sidelined due to injury, the stage was set for Westbrook to, well, be Westbrook. More importantly, to be Westbrook without fear of retribution. With KD out, Westbrook has been astounding. After posting a comical 31.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 10.3 assists per contest over 12 games and winning the All-Star Game MVP (for what that’s worth), the NAACP should consider renaming February “Russell Westbrook History Month”. Read more
Football is commonly known as “the ultimate team game”, which makes sense. With only 10 total guys on the court at a time, one player can have a significant impact in basketball. In baseball, a pitcher touches the ball on every play, and in some cases can even take a few cuts in the batters box to better his chance at winning. But football requires 11 guys on the field for each team at all times (53 guys per roster), and EVERYBODY must “do their job” successfully to have a positive impact on a given play. String together about 70 of those and you might win a football game.
Knowing this, it seems ironic the general football community would collectively excommunicate one position from relevancy, especially one that usually touches the ball around 30 times a game for each team. Somehow, this is what has become of the running back position in the NFL.
Running backs, tailbacks, halfbacks, fullbacks, H-backs— they’re all a thing of the past, at least that’s what we’re led to believe. Isn’t that what Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles said this week by dealing their two-time First Team All-Pro ball-carrier LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills? Kelly couldn’t even wait until the official start of the new league year to ship Shady out of town, and the overwhelming explanation? The lack of value of currently held by the star running back. In fact, running the football has been de-emphasized altogether by media. Every talking head on every network has moved this from the opinion side to the fact side of the ledger. But is the state of the running back position really as dire as everyone makes it out to be? Or could this be a simple case of death by entertainment value? Read more
It’s that time of year again when the NFL hype machine prepares new storylines for the upcoming pro-day and draft portion of the offseason— the Scouting Combine has officially come and gone, ladies and gents!
As always, the event was held in Indianapolis and players from all across the country performed various athletic tasks highlighted by the 40-yard dash and the bench press. Players were asked to jump (in ways they’ll never need to in a real game), squat, run and they had their measurements taken. As a result, there will be risers and fallers, athletic freaks and big man teats, and in the end, all of it means…
NOTHING THAT WE DIDN’T ALREADY KNOW!
Fighter: J. Cole
Trainer (Gym): Mark Pitts (Dreamville, Roc Nation, Columbia)
Cut Men: J. Cole, !llmind, Phonix Beats, Vinylz, Willie B, Pop Wansel, Ron Gilmore, Jproof, Nick Paradise, Dre Charles, Cardiak, CritaCal
Weight Class: Rap Superstar, Lyrical Heavyweight
Notable Trash: None
Tale of the Tape: How do you know you’ve reached “the next level”?
In hip-hop, there’s many ways gauge the plateau a rapper has attained. Radio spins is one way; record sales/app steams/iTunes purchases is another. Peer recognition, awards/accolades are others, and these days, just releasing three albums on a major means you’ve had quite the successful tenure as an emcee.
By just about any measure, J. Cole has reached “the next level”. It’s time he be judged as such.
Cole even dropped his latest project, 2014 Forest Hill Dr. Drive, with just two weeks notice with no promotion, lead singles or marketing— a bold move for an artist who was undoubtedly popular, but not necessarily of A-list stature (Cole even refers to himself as a “B-list celebrity” on the album). The bold move paid immediate dividends for the 30-year-old, who not only set Spotify records, but also notched the third #1 album of his career (the second to debut at #1).
Interestingly, the success of Cole World: The Sideline Story and Born Sinner set the stage for sky high expectations for FHD, yet the lack of build-up, or even as much as a single, left fans in the dark about what type of album to expect. All we knew was the title was the address for a home he purchased and the cover art showed an afro’ed Cole sitting atop (ostensibly) said home. While Cole World depicted a struggling artist yearning for his breakthrough and Born Sinner unveiled a man grappling with fame and his commitment to women, Forest Hill Drive illustrates Cole’s quest for freedom and fulfillment. Read more
Part Rasheed Wallace, part Tim Duncan; DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins is being talked about by some as one of the 10 best players in the NBA, and that was before being selected for his first All-Star appearance.
The four-year pro is averaging 24 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block per game, to accompany a PER of 24.43, which is top 10 overall. This, all while carrying a franchise and possibly a city on his massive shoulders. Defensively, Boogie is far from the slouch that basketball talking heads will tell you; the Kings are 19.5/100 possessions better with Cousins on the court….that’s an insane ratio!
But then there’s this.
The problem with Cousins — and with a lot of athletes — is when he does something that confirms a negative perception of him, it goes viral regardless of any other information. Cousins has been labeled a coach killer, malcontent, loose cannon who will never reach his full potential…or worse.
While few take shots at his talent, Boogie’s detractors point to his team’s harrowing win loss record as proof he is a classic, “good stats on a bad team guy”, à la T’Wolves era Kevin Love. The Kings are an abysmal 120-243 in Cousins’ career— if Boogie is to ascend to the pantheon of NBA greats and the return the Kings franchise to their former luster of the early 2000s, he’ll need help. It’s a fact because his individual performance has been dazzling. Read more