Tuesday, January 17, 2017

He Showed Us The Way

He showed us what grace under fire looks like.
He showed us what true love looks like.
He showed us that both swagger and humility could co-exist.
He showed us that you could be the leader of the free world AND have a wicked jumpshot.
He showed us how to look cool in a pair of shades, under the glare of white hot lights.
He moved us with his intellect. He dazzled us with his elegance.
He challenged us with his audacity. He inspired us with his optimism.
But most of all, he served. He represented. He got in the arena. And he fought.
Someday, I hope to tell stories to my grandchildren about this great man.
I hope they will marvel at my seemingly tall tales and find it remarkable that I got to see him in his prime.  As if I was alive when dinosaurs walked the earth.
Next to a framed poster of him beside Dr. King and Malcolm X, I’ll talk about the awesome speeches he gave. Like the way we reminisce about Jordan’s Flu Game and AI’s crossover.
Like that time at the DNC in ’04 when he said “in no other country on earth is my story even possible” and a nation started to believe.
Like that time in Philadelphia in ’08 where he gave a speech on race, saying “out of many, we are truly one” and a nation began to understand.
Or that time in 2015 at a Eulogy in South Carolina when he said “out of this unspeakable tragedy, God has visited Grace upon us. For he has allowed us to see where we’ve been blind”. And then he sang “Amazing Grace” and an entire nation smiled through its tears.
He always said that he was an imperfect messenger. A flawed human who would do his best, but would occasionally make mistakes and sometimes let us down.
He warned us that the change we wanted to see in the world would have to come from us, not him.
As usual, he was right. And that is why his imperfections made him perfect.

In his farewell address, Barack Obama said “my fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you”. Well I say, right back at you sir, it has been the honor of my life to call you my President.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Three Generations Of 2016 Top 10 Hip Hop Albums Lists


As an interesting exercise in looking at the year in music, I asked Evan and Reese to complete their 2016 top 10 Hip Hop Album's lists in order to compare them to mine. Evan (22) represents Gen Y and Reese (13) reps Gen Z. Below are their lists alongside mine, and some analysis on what I think this says about the state of contemporary hip hop and its future.

THE TOP 10 HIP HOP ALBUMS OF 2016


Lamont
Generation X
Evan
Generation Y
Reese
Generation Z
1
A Tribe Called Quest
We Got It From Here
Kanye West
The Life Of Pablo
Chance The Rapper
Coloring Book
2
Chance The Rapper
Coloring Book
Kendrick Lamar
untitled unmastered
Drake
Views
3
Kanye West
The Life Of Pablo
ScHoolboy Q
Blank Face LP
Future
Evol
4
ScHoolboy Q
Blank Face LP
Curren$y & Alchemist
The Carrollton Heist
Lil Yachty
Lil Boat
5
Drake
Views
Chance The Rapper
Coloring Book
Kanye West
The Life Of Pablo
6
Pusha T
Darkest Before Dawn
Isaiah Rashad
The Sun’s Tirade
21 Savage
Savage Mode
7
J Cole
4 Your Eyez Only
Travis Scott
Birds In The Trap
Travis Scott
Birds In The Trap
8
Travis Scott
Birds In The Trap
Drake
Views
Lil Uzi Vert
The Perfect Luv Tape
9
Curren$y & Alchemist
The Carrollton Heist
Pusha T
Darkest Before Dawn
Ralo
Diary Of The Streets
10
Royce 5’9”
Layers
Kodak Black
Lil B.I.G. Pac
J Cole
4 Your Eyez Only

What We Agree On:
Chance, Drake, Travis Scott and Kanye – Conventional wisdom says that our age gap, combined with the incredibly fractured digital music age we live in, would lead to very little overlap in our top 10 selections. But it turns out that's not the case at all. Sure, my #1 pick, A Tribe Called Quest's We Got It From Here.. didn't even crack Evan or Reese's top 10, but otherwise we found quite a bit to agree on. Aside from maybe Travis Scott, the 4 albums that made each of our Top 10s were all massive pop hits in 2016. They are all no-brainer records that showed up on pretty much everybody’s lists, proving there was something on each of those albums for all of us to love.


Additional Gen X And Gen Y Overlap:
Pusha T, Curren$y And ScHoolboy Q – Clearly Evan and I have similar tastes in music. With the addition of these 3 albums, we shared 7 of the same top 10 albums for the year. This either proves that the generation gap between X and Y is not as prevalent as one might think, or simply that our preferences tend to rub off on each other.

Additional Gen X And Gen Z Overlap:
J Cole - In addition to the Big 4, Reese and I agreed on J Cole. We're both long time fans, so this is not a surprise at all.

Additional Gen Y And Gen Z Overlap:
None - This is somewhat surprising, you would think that since Reese and Evan are closer in age, they would find more to agree on. Perhaps this is where fragmentation starts to come into play.

No Overlap: These are the albums that made only one of our lists, respectively:
  • Gen X (Lamont) A Tribe Called Quest and Royce Da 5'9" - Both of these albums are from rappers who are on the older side (either close to or over 40 years old)
  • Gen Y (Evan) Kendrick, Isaiah Rashad and Kodak Black - Kendrick and Isaiah both made 2016 albums that I liked a lot, but I couldn't get into 19 year old Kodak Black, who's southern slang seemed indistinguishable from every other dirty south tough guy.
  • Gen Z (Reese) Ralo, Lil Uzi Vert, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty and Future - Here is where the generation gap reared its ugly head. Compared to Evan and I, Reese has a much stronger preference for brooding, futuristic beats and youthful frontmen (with tons of swagger) who aggressively reject rap's conventional trappings. As a general rule, these guys place an emphasis on melody, phrasing and emoting over, you know, actual rapping. These albums were all massively popular among the Gen Z crowd, while most guys my age either never heard of them or failed to comprehend the appeal of this "mumble rap". The moral of the story: as fans (and artists) get younger, hip hop moves further away from it's traditional sound.