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I have this strange love/hate relationship with LeBron. Let me clarify, it’s not a relationship because I don’t know him personally.

But you know what I’m saying…

LeBron is the best player of his generation (there may be some debate of where his generation begins). Saying he’s one of the best players to ever grace the hardwood is like saying water is wet. My problem with LeBron is that everything seems so fabricated. That could be the pessimism of living in this artificial social media culture that is tempering my opinion. There are very few moments that feels honest, in a basketball context. His comradery with his teammates all seems posed and corny.

Then there is philanthropist LeBron…

This is a side of LeBron that he is making more public in recent years. He has begun to speak out on social issues and he not only gives money but gives his time to endeavors that he’s passionate about. He is the ultimate feel-good story. His calling “45” a bum was easily one of the best sports moments in 2017. He carried that momentum in 2018 by serving Laura Ingraham an L during All-Star Weekend. He has taken the mantle of being socially conscious in a world that would rather spend time creating a perfect Instagram life than fighting for actual change. This same world has been fragmented by race and class while we live in a created social media world. Instead of being the next Jordan in that aspect, he chose to be the next Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Then the trade deadline happened…

A team that was pretty much overhauled in the offseason. The mini banana boat crew didn’t work in Cleveland because well – D. Wade is old, hurt, and has lost a step. He often seemed lost in the offense and LBJ wanted Batman and Robin but instead, he got Art and Ben (old guys from Cocoon). Unfortunately, this isn’t a movie so there wasn’t a fountain of youth to be found. He never seems to be happy with his team unless they win a championship.

He continually holds franchises hostage with the refusal to sign a long-term contract which makes him a never-ending sports story. There is a LeBron will sign with ____ story daily on every sports outlet. I can’t be the only person tired of the “Where is the LeBron going “ topics.

It’s annoying. Actually, it’s obnoxious. It’s a self-centered desire to drive sports news.  That’s not to say that sports media isn’t complicit in this.

LeBron is a player whose talent is undeniable but he has an insatiable yearning to be liked and loved. I imagine when you’ve always been “the man” you are probably forever searching for that “real love”. That search is what motivates him to curate his manicured image where even candid moments seem to be a part of the LBJ Reality Show. He has led a scandal-free career and I’m sure that is not by accident. His biggest pox is the fact that he held a television special to announce where he is going in Free Agency.

Overall I love his game. He’s Scottie Pippen 2.0 — bigger, stronger, faster and way more gifted. I was always a huge Pippen fan. He sees the floor like a new generation Magic Johnson. He is a force with the rock whenever he feels like it — like a Wilt in his prime. LBJ makes other players seem small. I’ll never forget the last 2 minutes of Game 5 in the playoffs where he shut down then MVP Derrick Rose. Who can forget the Finals block on Steph or the run-down block of Iggy. He can be so dominant at points that we internally wonder if we can adjust the sliders to make the game a little more difficult for him.

That’s probably why it annoys most of us his about his yearly whining about needing new teammates or incessant flopping.

LeBron is on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA Greats. He’s also one of the most annoying diva personalities to ever grace the hardwood floor. I’m just over his player antics – from the flopping to his fear of commitment to an NBA team. He’s not Jordan or Kobe as he shouldn’t be – but man how great would it be if the LBJ stories were actually just about his basketball and philanthropy?

I want to love him like I love other players’ game I admire. But I can’t. It like being served Chinese food by a white person. It looks good, it may even smell right, but it’s not right – something isn’t right. When all is said done, you eat it, but you walk away feeling unfulfilled.

 

Kelis’ interview with Hollywood Unlocked mixed with Kanye’s political meltdown on twitter is bringing us to the precipice our rap heroes self-destruction before our eyes. In the age of social media, we have been privy to our rapper’s idiosyncrasies and demons. As we open that door, it’s a scary sight. These are things that were hidden and revealed long after an artists relevance or even lifetime. We’ve always been obsessed with celebrity, and now our ugly obsession is becoming a mirror to our equally ugly inner voyeur. How did we get to this point where two of our conscious personalities are an alleged domestic abuser and an avid supporter of white supremacy?

Kanye has garnered the most attention because of his ‘fire’ tweets in support of MAGA and #45. There is some granular level of truth to what he’s saying. We need more free thinkers. We need more people to challenge the status quo of what we think is right or even real. I interpret that as what’s he’s trying to illustrate. Because Kanye loves to be cryptic and loves the news cycle to be about him – he won’t clarify and gives us any type of explanation. He’ll speak in news bytes and think it makes perfect sense. Aligning himself with any of Donald Trump policies is idiotic – for anyone that is not white and/or rich. Yeezy being a Republican makes sense. He’s rich; he wants lower taxes. That’s often where the Republicans plant their flag.

This seems to be apart of a larger vision for him. He views Trump as a disrupter and through that lens he is correct For all intents and purposes 45 has disrupted our normal politics and brought a sense of chaos and negativity that hasn’t been seen in generations. While past presidents have worn their racism on their collars behind closed doors, Trump and his acolytes prefer to wear them out in the open. In an interview with Charlamagne the God, he said he views himself as a Trump and Bernie Sanders hybrid. He views both through that prism. In a most simplistic and nascent ideal – he’s partly right. Just getting a slightly macro view the difference between these people are night and day, and even that is being too generous. This is the problem with Kanye. He extrapolates the smallest of similarities into these grandiose ideas which have no concrete meaning behind them. He slaps a label of “free thinking” onto it. I can think 2+2=5 but the reality is it equals 4 and no amount of ‘free thinking’ can get me around that principle.

The Nas thing is one of the most disheartening discoveries. It brings me to the hypocrisy of my thoughts.

Harvey Weinstein. Bill Cosby. Russell Simmons. Louis CK.

No questions asked.

But Nas. Not Nasir. Not Mr. Black Girl Lost. How Sway? How can someone so invested in the upliftment of not just the black community but black women be an abuser? You have to ask yourself, how could he not be? He comes from a broken home in an underserved community from education to mental health. He became famous and wealthy at the age of 19 and was anointed the Savior of rap since.

How can we expect him to have any real awareness of anything? It’s not an excuse, its a statement of fact. At the same time — it’s up to him to emotionally grow from his upbringing. The fact that we are now just really hearing about this is more remarkable than anything. Kelis is such a credible witness I have a hard time suspending reality and saying she’s making this up. There is the custody battle that is brewing in the background which sets this interview up. She not only called him a domestic abuser she added the cherry on top of being a deadbeat dad. How can I reconcile the fact that the man who made “Illmatic,” the most important musical event in my life, is at the same time the type of person I detest.

It’s painful. It’s like that moment you find out Santa isn’t real.

The music is still timeless and important, but the man is flawed. While some will go as far as to say he is irredeemable, I don’t believe that. Mistakes can be made, but there needs to be an effort of correction, empathy, an apology. He doesn’t owe that to me. He owes that to his ex-wife and his son if these rumors are true. I don’t need him to go on an apology tour; I just want the man to get better so in turn, the music will continue to evolve.

Our heroes continue to fail us. Here’s to hoping their failures inspire true dialogue and betterment of mankind.

“They would rep but our heroes got their hands full” – Nas

Luke Cage and Black Panther are symbolic in how both heroes hope to achieve a new level of black freedom in different ways. While Luke Cage represents the every man trying to carve his niche in an American society that is rife with white nationalism and systemic racism; Black Panther represents the advent of Marcus Garvey’s dream.

A Black nation, ruled by black people that has far surpassed anything that is found outside of its walls. These two different ideologies are what represents the self-appointed “woke” and the everyday person who recognizes the system we are in and understands that the stakes are high; and a revolution won’t happen in the blink of an eye.

The “woke” think Wakanda is a real place. They think that this Wakanda is an achievable dream within the next few years if we just get on TV enough, write enough books, stop buying Jordans (of course), and stomp our feet just loud enough. For them, revolution is an eyelash away. Disregard the lack of organization, military power, and just flat out effective basic strategy to achieve this. They hang their hats on the Haitian revolution and think it was done once.

The fact is – black and brown people have a 1-40k record against “colonizers”. It makes this obvious when “Wakanda” is now synonymous with Freedom. Let’s just ignore the fact that the “woke” are just getting hip to a black superhero that is almost 50 years old.

Meanwhile the everyday man, the Luke Cage styled revolutionary is doing it in his own way. He is the one weaving his culture into his corporate job. He is slyly practicing known workplace politics (nepotism) by building up his brothers and sisters and preparing them for their next steps…simultaneously extending his/her own network and creating more power. This is the person who quietly is being a good parent and supporting their child’s dreams and not limiting them to what is known. They are exposing the next generation to aspects of the world that were denied to them in their youth.

This is the underappreciated revolutionary. But this person is the core of every movement that has ever existed on this planet.

The problem with Black Americans is that we won’t embrace the fact that we are not a monolithic group of people. We have painted ourselves into a corner that there is only one way to be woke. There is only one way to fight for black progress. Diversity is our strength as there are different shades of us but are still considered black; we have varying idea for progress that will still have positive results in our advancement as a people. The “woke” criticize Black Christianity as this was the same tool that was used by our slave masters. They also ignore that this tool has been used by us as people to give hope, joy, and encouragement.

While Christianity has its own problems – I’m not about to criticize anyone that practices if it is helping them become a productive member of society in the name of “wokeness”.

Who am I or they to say to whom you pray ain’t right
That’s who got you doing right and got you this far
Whether you say “in Jesus name” or “Hum do Allah”
Long as you know it’s a bein’ that’s supreme to you
You let that show towards others in the things you do
– Common

There is room for both methods but there isn’t room for this pissing contest of “who is the wokest?”. There are more Luke Cage’s in the world than T’Challa’s and we have to embrace Luke Cage and the Misty Knight’s of the world. They don’t get enough credit for doing a hard job and taking the arrows of everyday life while still trying to be a part of the movement.

We all can’t be DeRay or Angela Rye, where being “woke” is not only a passion, but a job in which you are receiving a king’s ransom. Not that there is anything wrong with profiteering off a movement – but for every star in the spotlight, there are 10s of thousands in the shadows pushing a similar agenda for our ultimate end result in becoming a stronger people surviving the painful oppression of systematic racism.

 

Yeah, Ben is…just good. Truth hurts sometimes. You remember when Lebron was in Miami and he would try to hit game winners by shooting a jumper? People kept begging him to drive to the lane, be more aggressive, get closer take a better shot. Well, it looks like someone was listening, it just wasn’t Lebron.

It was Ben Simmons.

Ben Simmons plays like he believes his athleticism will allow him to get whatever shot he wants on the floor. On most nights in the regular season, he’s right. He gained confidence by playing a diminished Miami team that managed to win a game with Dwayne Wade’s half rotten carcass making big plays.

Now he’s in the second round and he notices that the lane is clogged. He can’t play bully ball against someone like Marcus Morris because of his size and strength. Passing lanes are diminished because everyone in the arena knows Simmons’ worst kept secret.

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The first draft of my first script has been completed.

Wait, let me catch you all up.

I’ve had an idea of doing a TV Show or movie about my life growing up. I’ve always thought that my growing up wasn’t unique but Dame Dash said something in an interview that got my mind moving. He said something to the effect that everyone’s life is exciting but it’s how we tell that story. I realized there aren’t any stories about being black and growing up in a rural area in the south.

I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been on a train.

In my day ‘gangs’ were loosely affiliated by neighborhoods. Colors didn’t matter.

My upbrings was has never been seen on screen. So there was my spark. My inspiration as always is my family.

I started writing this script at the beginning of March. I had no idea really what I wanted to write but it started to take shape slowly. I made a promise to myself to write every day for a month. Some days were more productive than others but everyday words hit the screen. The result of that – the first draft of my script.
Exhale.

So now what’s next? I just had someone look over my draft and I have (numerous) corrections. Its fine, its ok – it’s what I need to get better. So let’s get to correct. I’m not sure what my next move will be. Shop it? Film it myself? We will see…

I’m excited to see where this goes.

Meek Mill is the most important rapper since 2Pac. There have been many people who have claimed this title and they all have been wrong. Meek’s fight against the injustice system became a dinner table conversation. People that are removed from the street life Meek Mill portrays understands how absurd his sentencing is. This isn’t just about the 2 years he was sentenced, this is about the 10 years of probation that he had to endure.

If you weren’t sure – Meek Mill did not murder or rape anyone.

Not only is he the most important person in rap music now, he is the New Pac. Yeah, this case is that important. He is the revolutionary that this generation needs. It’s up to Meek to wield this power for good. If you listened to him speak during his last album promotion run, he was starting to be aware of his place in the world. He freely admits his problem with addiction and realizes the impacts on his life. He realizes that he is a role model.

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….and America rejoices. I’m tired of writing about it, thinking about it and even dealing with it. I don’t know how not to normalize without driving myself insane. I read about it, I hear the pain from the family’s voice after they lose another member and justice as always isn’t served. I’m just tired. I’ve had many words that I wanted to write but at this point I’m not even sure if it matters. So…I’ll just let Philandro Castile’s mom say it. Because she expressed my anger and disappointment better than I can right now.

 

Every July 16 and September 13th I take time to celebrate the life Tupac Amaru Shakur because he was a larger than life figure in my childhood. I have this complex love hate relationship with Pac (Mostly because his fans are the equivalent to Cowboy fans: Annoying AF). His legacy depending on who you are talking to portrays him to be a larger than life figure or the next Malcolm X that got gunned down before he could achieve his space in the pantheon of Black Activists. My memories of him as a fan is that of a bipolar top tier rapper who could not decide if he was the activist we needed or the gangster his friends/bosses wanted him to be. The genius thing is neither one of those characters are wrong or bad in anyway.

If anything 2Pac represented our truest self. The battle that rests inside of all of us. The war of fighting our inner demons but still wanting to have strength enough to leave a positive mark in the world. His actions were bipolar because the same rapper that penned “Brenda’s Got A Baby” also penned “I Get Around” and the ode to video groupies “”All About U”. Do you expect anything less from a 20 year old savant with money to burn? He is the same rapper that threatened to pillage a whole coast but still during his last days sought to rebuild bridges and relationships that his scorched earth policy destroyed. He is the essence of America, killing ants with sledgehammers and after seeing the damage realizing that we used the wrong tool.

Personally he’s the rebel of my adolescence years. He was my bridge between the positivity of Chuck D and the misogyny of Snoop Doggy Dogg. On one song he was teaching me how about the prison industrial complex on “Trapped” and then on the next album I’m dying to join him at a West Coast pool party like “I Get Around”. The flipside to the fun came via a sodomy charge and the infamous shooting at Baseline Studios in New York. While some saw this as strengthening his almost mythical presence for me it made a teenager have to evaluate his loyalties. While Pac spoke to my pint size revolutionary spirit, Puffy and Biggie represented the fly lifestyle that I aspired to have.  Let’s be honest, as a 16 year old, I wasn’t ready to save the world. I wanted to “fuck bitches, get money”.

2Pac isn’t my goat and depending on my mood he may not even be Top 5. But his impact on rap music and my life is undeniable. “Me Against the World” is the 2Pac I loved – this was the erratic writing Pac that I loved. He was angry, he was social, he was positive, he reminisced, and he checked every box and did it in a classic fashion. While “All Eyez on Me” was uneven because of its length, “Me Against The World” capitalized on brevity and quality.

He’s a convicted sex offender, philanderer, drug user and misanthrope. He’s also a creative savant who knew how to use his voice to get the most effect. He’s your drunk uncle. The one who gives you sage advice in between chugging 2 40oz of Colt 45. He’s the perfect slice of Americana, the conflicted hero. It’s hard to separate the wisdom of his words from the vileness of his actions. We have done that with many of our heroes and it makes no sense why he is no different. 2Pac is bigger than Elvis – in every sense.  He is the music of Marvin Gaye mixed with the militancy of Huey Newton. If anything – Pac is Black America at its finest and lowest.

I love America. Kinda. I mean I love what America is supposed to represent. I don’t like real unedited America. The problem with America is its full of shit. It’s so full of shit – it doesn’t even recognize it. The United States are the Kardashians of the World Stage. On the outside we look glamorous and when the edits and lighting hits us right we look amazing. If you look a bit closer – we’re average like pre-surgery Kylie. Not the ugly duckling but definitely not the belle of the ball like our other older and more attractive sisters. We looked ourselves in the mirror and asked “WWKJD” (What Would Kris Jenner Do) and the mirror responded: fake it.

In 2004 America went to the booth and received a nose job, face lift and most importantly new boobs all called Barack Obama. At that moment – that was the time for America to drop the most epic sextape of all time. And it did – an African American president with charisma, who was smart and not the scary black man that would scare people in Iowa. There was liberal and centrist splooge from coast to coast. We could not get enough of this ‘well-spoken African American’ (because you know they are rare). But like the Kardashian’s people hated him just for the fact he existed (I see you alt-right). Unlike that California Clan he actually earned his spot in the spotlight.

As time passed we became once again the shining beacon in the world. Granted Israel didn’t really like him because he asked questions and didn’t shuck and jive like they expected Negroes to do. We all know Putin didn’t like him because he’s smart. Usually dumb bullies hate the smart kids. Except in this case, President Obama had ‘tons o guns’ so Putin had to play his position.  President Obama kept the façade up of American Exceptionalism abroad while countless African Americans were being murdered in the streets by police officers. But hey we still had an African American president so things can’t be that bad, Right?

The luster and shine began to wear off on President Obama. He wasn’t doing enough for black people. He wasn’t doing enough for the far left. No one was quite happy with him. The reality of the lack of American Exceptionalism started to show through the cracks of the façade. Police officers started murdering black people at a record rate. African American unemployment rose. This post-racial America that was promised was falling apart day by day. Like all shows that are jumping the shark, what’s a producer to do? Introduce a new character that is diametrically opposite to the main character.

Enter Kylie Jenner Donald Trump

The United States didn’t want the smart guy if he was Black.  It didn’t really want the better politician if she was a woman. The United States wanted a star – they wanted Kim. But Kim was busy so they settled for Kylie. America went to work on President Orange he was their person. He was pure white, a celebrity, and most importantly a man. He didn’t have any particular intelligence or any talent. His talent was his white maleness. They cleaned him up, tailored his suits a bit better, toned down his orange tan, strutted him out with his family and voila – he’s presidential. The core of who he is still remains – a very small, insecure man with who has no idea how to do his job. The problem with this is our president is all flash and no substance. In between chants of “fake news”, early morning tweets and many policy failures — he’s doing what most spoiled rich white men excel at, being mediocre. At least Kylie is good at being famous. Maybe she should run for president next.

Coward. Punk. Front Runner. “Can’t beat em, join em”

These are all the things Kevin Durant heard last summer. People went as far as questioning his competitive spirit and even his manhood. Why would KD do something like that? It’s something so Anti-Jordan, it’s so, so, LeBron. The fact of the matter is KD saw the landscape of the NBA. In order for OKC to be competitive in the upcoming years after him and Russ signing extension is that they need one more player. Preferably a stretch 4 or a real 2 Guard. Neither of those types of players were coming to that market. Could they convince Paul George to come OKC, not likely. Could they make a move for DeMarcus Cousins? They really didn’t have the pieces to pull a trade like that off. If you step back and look at the Thunder, they are who they are for the foreseeable future. The roster as designed cannot beat the Warriors and would not be able to beat the Cavs in a 7-game series. 

If you want to win what do you do? You go someplace where you can win. Using that as qualification there are only a couple teams that are seriously competing for championship: Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio, Clippers. Everyone else are pretenders or more than one player away. If he is seriously about winning a championship where else can he go? The choices were limited. Either he wants to win or he wants to look like he wants to. So, he leaves and is in The NBA Finals for the 2nd Time in career and is playing out of his mind. 

As great as players as Steph and Kyrie are there is a huge gap between them and KD and LeBron. It’s like watching Superman and Darkseid battle in the air while Batman is solving The Ridder’s puzzles in Gotham City. There is just a chasm of greatness separating those two sets of players. While both sets have played great  (kyrie not really…yet) — KD and LeBron are in another stratosphere. As of this posting Golden State is up 2-0 and Cleveland is looking completely overmatched. But to the Cavs defense — we’ve heard this song before, twice actually. 

The series doesn’t begin until the home team loses. It’s cliché but it’s true. This Finals series is about Legacy for LeBron, Steph and especially Kevin Durant.  While he is known as a scorer his defense has been what’s been on center stage this series. He finished Game 2 with 5 blocks and had to play the 4 and 5 during the 2nd half because of Draymond Green’s foul trouble. While he struggles with cool nicknames (The Servant bruh, glad that one didn’t stick) he is not struggling with the lights of competing for a championship. While there will be, naysayers — his Finals performance is proving he is right where he belongs; On the big stage, with the biggest name, competing for the biggest prize.