Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Jason Bay-Please Don't Suck.

The 2009 New York Mets put on an embarrassing display of baseball playing this past season. Marred by injuries, adjusting to a new stadium, poor coaching, etc... all lead to one of the worst seasons I have ever seen as a Met fan. In fact, it was so bad that when my room mate encouraged me to root for the Yankees, I became a fair weather fan for the season...and they won the World Series. Why this can't happen to a team I actually care about, in any sport (minus Giants 2007), is beyond me, but that's neither here nor there. However, the beauty of all sports is the old saying "there's always next year" and this is what keeps me coming back year after year.

After the Yankees won the World Series and effectively and thankfully, ended the 2009 baseball season, I was looking forward to the free agent signing period more so than in the past, hoping the Mets would make some sort of splash and pick up a key player. And what did they go out and do? Signed Kelvim Escobar. Just like many other baseball fans, my first reaction was, who the hell is Kelvim Escobar? So after doing so some research I learned that Kelvim Escobar has made one start in two seasons, so my second reaction was, why the hell did we sign Kelvim Escobar? It got me truly thinking that David Wright would be the last great white Mets player, and that Omar Minaya was truly turning the New York Mets into Los Mets, which is fine with me as long as they win, but Kelvim Escobar? C'MON MAN.

Anyway, I woke up today with a bangin hangover on an unfamiliar couch in an unfamiliar apartment. After recollecting my thoughts, and finding my pants, I made my way out of the room to see my boy Andrew, which is usually great. But today was a "Bad Look Tuesday", where everything was going wrong. Couldn't find the batteries for the controller, 360 was unplayable, and we were stuck watching Jaws II, which all would have been fine if we hadn't been drinking tequila all night (Continental on the Lower East Side, 5 shots for 10 bucks of anything you it out.) What does all this have to do with Mets and baseball you may ask? Well, while driving through midtown I checked and the very first thing I saw was a picture of Jason Bay superimposed with the New York Mets logo. I immediately let out an emphatic "HELL YEAH", nearly causing Andrew to crash, and got on the phone with my son, who really didn't sound all that excited to talk to me-what's good with that?

With Jason Bay, the Mets added one of the top-two available players in baseball, a tremendous hitter who just came off a year where he hit .267 with 36 home runs, 119 RBIs and 94 walks in the toughest division in baseball. I still have a looming fear that he will turn out like so many other stars who came to New York only to fold under the immense pressure of the New York media and fans (Randy Johnson, Jason Giambi, Pedro Martinez, plus countless others). But the optimist in me truly believes that Bay will be very productive for the Mets, and be a solid outfielder for years to come. Yes, the Mets undoubtedly need to do more work and sign more players, but if Jason Bay proves to be the player he is capable of I will forever remember "Bad Look Tuesday" as the day the Mets' luck turned for the better. So, Jason Bay in the unlikely event that you are reading this awesome blog, welcome to New York, please don't suck...or we will run your ass out of town.

This has nothing to do with this article, this is just an awesome song....

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Classic Cuts


Rap and hip-hop (yes, there is a huge difference) are definitely my favorite types of music, but I’m sometimes embarrassed to admit this due to the terrible state of the music today. Believe it or not, rap music used to be good. Really good. Nas’ debut album has been consistently in my rotation since the first time I listened to it about 10 years ago. Not only is this arguably the best hip-hop album of all time, but one of the best albums of all time, regardless of genre. The influence this album has had on hip-hop music is unprecedented, and it’s a shame nothing of this caliber will ever be released again. Nas put the east-coast on the map with this album, and here’s a track by track synopsis.

The Genesis (album intro)- a lot of listeners usually skip over the intro, however, on this album the intro tells us everything we need to know about Nas. The album kicks off with the sound of an elevated train with dialouge from the film “Wild Style” over the train, which represents New York and hip-hop culture, then goes into Nas’ legendary verse from Main Source’s “Live at the BBQ” (“Streets Disciple my raps is trifle...) The rest of the intro is Nas and his crew bulshitting over a grimy, simple beat produced by Irv Gotti (yes, that Irv Gotti), that sets the tone for the rest of the album.

New York State of Mind- Arguably the best hip-hop song ever made, and one of my personal favorites. My favorite story about this song is told by DJ Premier, who produced the song. According to Premier, Nas had no idea how to start the song and was having trouble catching the beat and figuring out how to rhyme over it. Eventually he just went in, and did the whole song in one take, which is unbelievable considering the complex rhyme schemes and story telling taking place in the song. “New York State of Mind” offers a haunting view of New York through the eyes of a 20 year old ghetto kid during the early ‘90s. Nas raps about robberies, drug use, and shootouts with acute imagery, and makes them sound poetic.
“I never sleep ‘cuz sleep is the cousin of death. Beyond the walls of intelligence, life is defined, I think of crime when I’m in a New York state of mind.”

Life’s a Bitch- One of the realest songs on the album, featuring a very young and still underrated AZ. The song is extremely dark, and retraces their roots and struggles growing up in one of the many ghettoes of America. Nas and AZ have a chemistry that is unparalleled, and they still continue to rock it whenever they got on a track together. After dropping a verse each, that should be envied by every rapper to get on the mic, the song closes with a beautiful trumpet solo from Nas’ father. A very interesting song, and one that I find myself listening to with my jaw at the floor.
“I switched my motto, instead of saying fuck tomorrow, that buck that bought the bottle could’ve struck the lotto.”

The World is Yours- My favorite transition on the album, Nas goes from an extremely dark, somewhat depressing song in Life’s a Bitch to an uplifting, optimistic song with The World is Yours. Nas raps about the troubles facing him, but how he keeps attempting to overcome adversity and eventually making something of himself. He talks about his son and daughter, and how he finds strength in them when his back is against the wall, and his hope that they will lead a better life than the one he chose. A beautiful and uplifiting track, and one of my favorites of all time.
“Whether cruisin in a Sikh’s cab, or Montero Jeep, I can’t call it the beats make me fallin asleep. I keep fallin, but never fallin six feet deep. I’m out for presidents to represent me.”

Halftime- when a true lyricist absolutely kills a track, you know that your listening to something special. That’s exactly how I feel every time i hear Halftime, from the very get go (Nasty Nas in your area, about to cause mass hysteria) you know shit is about to get serious. He raps with great confidence, his ability to pick up women during the afternoon and hit the matinee at night, and his refusal to get a girl pregnant because it would force him to spend money on kids instead of Philly blunts and weed.
“In ya, stereo sets, Nas’ll catch wreck. I used to hustle- now all I do is relax and strive, when I was young I was a fan of the Jackson 5. I drop jewels, wear jewels, hope to never run it, with more kicks than a baby in a mother’s stomach.”

Memory Lane (Sittin’ in the Park)- a nostalgic track where Nas raps about his life growing up in the projects of Queensbridge. The song represents the changing face and landscape in Hip-Hop during the early ‘90s. It marks the transition from the party and dance songs from the late ‘80s to the grittiness, and realism of lyrics during the ‘90s. Nothing more to say here, the song speaks for itself.

One Love- one of the coolest songs I’ve ever heard. Nas raps letters he wrote to his incarcerated friend about everything that is going on in his life, and around his neighborhood. For fans of the movie Belly, the scene at the end of the movie when Nas is smoking a blunt with the little kid with the gun is taken straight from this song- which just goes to show few can tell a story like Nas can. “One Love” offers brilliant imagery, and can really put the listener right on the corner of his neighborhood seeing everything that he is seeing and living.
“Sometimes I sit back with a buddha sack mind’s in another world thinking how we can exist through the facts written in school text books, bibles, etcetera. Fuck a school lecture, the lies get me vexed. So I be ghost from my projects, I take my pen and pad for the week hittin L’s while I’m sleepin. A two day stay, you may say I need the time alone to relax my dome, no phone, left the 9 at home.”

One Time 4 Your Mind- I always have mixed feelings when it comes to this song; sometimes I absolutely love it, and sometimes it feels like my ears are being poisoned. But I feel like that’s exactly how he wanted the song to be like, to really flip people’s minds to show that he controls the album and knows exactly what he wants the listener to feel when he’s listening. Lyrically, the song is decent, but probably the weakest on the album with no real substance, but rather just braggadocio rhymes about how great a lyricist he is (but we already know that from listening to the rest of the album.)
“The parlayer, I’ll make ya heads bop Pah, I shine a light on perpetrators like a cop’s car. From day to night, I play the mic and you’ll thank God. I wreck shit so much, the microphone’ll need a paint job.”

Represent- the most aggressive song on the album. Nas raps about his transformation as a young child committing petty crimes, such as breaking into the candy store, to carrying a gun and committing robberies with his crew. “Represent” is a shout out to all the people living below the poverty line in New York City, who have to commit crimes just to get by.
“Cold be walkin with a bop and my hat turned back, love committin sins and my friends sell crack. This nigga raps with a razor, keep it under my tongue- the school dropout, never liked that shit from day one. ‘Cause life ain’t shit but stress, fake niggaz, and crab stunts, so I guzzle my Hennessy while pullin on mad blunts. The brutalizer, crew de-sizer, accelerator, the type of nigga who be pissin in your elevator.”

It Ain’t Hard to Tell- just when I thought Nas had already used up all his best lines on the previous 9 tracks, the album closes with a song so quotable that it almost puts the rest of the album to shame. Every time I listen to this song, my face gets completely blown away; in fact I’m listening to it right now and my ears, nose, eyes, and mouth are now scattered throughout the room. Few albums end on a better high note, and even though my favorite song changes almost daily, “It Ain’t Hard to Tell” will always hold a special place in my heart.
“I exhale the yellow smoke of buddha through righteous steps. Deep like the Shining, sparkle like a diamond, sneak a uzi on the island in my army jacket linin. HIt the Earth like a comet, invasion, Nas is like the Afrocentric Asian, Half-man, Half-amazing.”


Even though I have listened to his entire album thousands of times, I never get sick of it, and like a great movie, I notice something new every time I listen to it. It’s important to pass along this album to every one, before it gets forgotten in the shit storm that is auto-tune, Hip-Pop, and all the other horrific music coming out these days. So please, do yourself a favor, sit back, light something up, and listen to this album....often.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas from The 2manweave


Happy Holidays from us to you and yours.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jimmy Cliff-Boss of all Bosses

Before Bob Marley became an iconic international superstar, reggae music was synonymous with one man: Jimmy Cliff. Cliff’s remarkable career has spawned decades; he has released twenty-eight studio albums, and was the central figure in one of the most significant events in the entire history of Jamaican music, the release of the movie The Harder They Come. Cliff was one of the first Jamaican artists become an international sensation, and has been one of the most successful, and iconoclastic reggae artists of all time. Although Cliff may have never reached the fame and influence of Bob Marley, he paved the way for Marley and other reggae superstars to spread their music and their message worldwide.

There have only been a handful of films that can truly say they have changed the world, and Perry Henzell’s The Harder They Come, can be lumped into this small company. The story was loosely based on the life of Ivanhoe “Rhygin” Martin, the quintessential rude boy whose 1940s escapades captured and thrilled the populace. Henzell took Martin’s story of his reign of terror around Kingston, updated it, set it to an infectious reggae soundtrack, and casted Jimmy Cliff as Ivan, an aspiring musician inextricably involved in both the Jamaica’s music world, as well as its dark underworld. According to authors Roger Steffens and Peter Simon, The Harder They Come, “…was a stark evocation of ghetto levity, documenting the political and social pressures of the drug trade and the mafia-like control of Jamaica’s music business, and would gradually prove to strike a universal chord.” The Harder They Come showcased the small island of Jamaica to the rest of the world, showing its unique culture as well as the music of the people.

The universal impact The Harder They Come had was unparalleled; it truly captured the country of Jamaica, reggae music, roots culture and should have taken Jimmy Cliff’s career to a whole new level. The film exposed the record industry of Jamaica, and showed the business’s internal politics of exploitation, and at the same time revealed the public’s interesting relationship with the record companies of Jamaica. Above all, The Harder They Come offered an intense insight into what ghetto living was really like, and provided insight into the realties of reggae music and its lyrics. Cliff recalled, “The Harder They Come had a great deal to do with the spread of Rasta and the roots music. It was seen all over the world, and more than just play you music it took you right into roots culture and how people lived in Jamaica at the time. It introduced people to the fact there was more to reggae than the happy stuff that had been hits, because it provided the pictures to go with the music…That movie was socio-…economic…political…religious- all the elements of Jamaican society…It told the tale with real depth, put it into context, which was probably a surprise to so many people but it was that that helped them understand it and appreciate reggae music for what it really is.”Henzell captured the gritty street life, and poverty that so many Jamaicans were dealing with at the time, and Jimmy Cliff played the part with such convincing that one could believe he wasn’t even acting, but just living his daily life.

The film was acted, scripted and directed with a blistering acuteness, and the film’s soundtrack took the same approach providing one of the highest selling, and recognizable reggae albums of all time. The soundtrack boasted some of reggae’s most notable names including, Cliff himself, Toots and the Maytals, the Melodian’s, the Slickers and Desmond Dekker. Cliff’s title track, in particular, appeared to sum up the aspirations, and the eventual fate, of every character in the film and, by extension, on the streets, which the film graphically depicted. The soundtrack had such an immense impact on Jamaican music and producers recognized the potential of roots music sales. By 1973, roots music became the most popular form of reggae music, all due to the success of The Harder They Come soundtrack. Until Bob Marley’s retrospective Legend was released in 1984, The Harder They Come Soundtrack was the best-selling reggae album of all time.

The Harder They Come truly opened up the international market for reggae music, and helped Jimmy Cliff become recognizable worldwide. Before the film’s release, roots music made little sense to people outside of Jamaica because they couldn’t put a visual to the lyrics. Now, people could put a face to reggae music; and Jimmy Cliff became iconoclastic. After the release of The Harder They Come, words like ‘sophisticated’ and ‘worldly’ were used to describe Jimmy Cliff and his career. New fans were impressed that he had lived abroad, toured all over the world with great acclaim, recorded with American producers and musicians, wasn’t scared to try different styles of music and was now an international movie star.

I can’t believe I slept on Jimmy Cliff and The Harder They Come for this long. Luckily I was exposed to him earlier this year, and his music, as well as the soundtrack from the film have been in heavy rotation.


Bonus Cuts:


In Defense of Allen Iverson

With the retirement, and now unretirement of AllenIverson, I've taken some time to look back at the career of one of my favorite basketball players of all time, and one of THE best to ever do it. Because of the media, and the talking heads over at ESPN people are going to remember Iverson as a team "Canswer" and not as a player who came out every night and gave it all for 48 minutes.

His career has been marred by controversy dating all the way back to his senior year of High School, when he was caught up in what has been described as a near race war at a bowling alley in his hometown of Hampton Virginia. Only Iverson and his fellow African-American friends were arrested, with Iverson facing a potential 20 year prison sentence. He spent four months at Newport News City Farm, a correctional facility in Virginia the case was overturned due to insufficient evidence.

However, this didn't stop Iverson from going on to Georgetown and having one of the illest, and highlight worthy two year careers of all time. Under legendary coach John Thompson, Iverson went on to destroy the Big East for two winters, winning two Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards, and was named to All Rookie Tournament 1st Team. However, his accolades don't do him necessary justice. At 6' and armed with a killer crossover and unparalleled athleticism, Iverson dominated the college game from the get go, and was the face of a new era of player. His grittiness, heart, and "you can't stop me" attitude was never seen from a player at his height. Peep these youtube videos for visual justice: href="">(the dunk at :32 is just disgusting). (Also, Iverson was part of one of the most underrated college rivalries with Ray Allen. The hype surrounding these two was unreal, especially when they were pit against each other; think Ali-Frazier on the hardcourt, every time they squared off it was a slugfest. Their'95 game at the Garden goes down as one of the best college basketball games of all time, with two of the best college players of the '90s going bucket for bucket.) More visual evidence:"> featuring Cameos from Travis Knight, Donyell Marshall, and Othella Harrington.

After two stellar years at Georgetown, Iverson was drafted first overall by the 76ers in 1996 Draft (incredible draft by the way featuring Steph Marbury, Ray Allen, Kobe, Nash, Marcus Camby, plus Knick picks John Wallace and Walter McCarty...and people only wanna blame Isiah.) Iverson was getting busy in the League from day one and was honored with Rookie of The Year. Iverson proved that a new athlete was entering the NBA, and made that point quickly by crossing the hell out of then reigning NBA king Michael Jordan. (rookie highlights.... ">peep the original Questions, so official.)

Iverson's first year was only a stepping stone, and during the 1998-99 season Iverson won his first scoring title, was named to the All-NBA First Team and his first playoff appearance as a 76er. And despite facing numerous injuries, he averaged over 44 minutes a game and put the team on his back carrying them to the 2nd round of the playoffs. Iverson was playing on a whole nother level than the rest of the league at this point, but was still under appreciated due to his media dubbed "thuggish" attitude.

(Few people realize the impact Iverson had on the league, both as a player and as a fashion icon. He was one of the first players to take his "urbanized" look and bring it to the suburbs. His whole clothing line and shoe market was aimed towards urban youth, everything Iverson donned; whether it was a headband, arm band, arm sleeve, tattoo etc.. became popular around America. Think Lebron would be rockin a headband plus tats without the influence of Iverson? Hellllllllllllllll no.)

The 2000-2001 season was hands down the best of his career, and arguably one of the best of all time. After being actively discussed in trade discussions during the offseason, Iverson came to play with an enormous chip on his shoulder. Iverson led his team to a 56-26 record and was named All-Star Game MVP, won the Scoring Title, Led the league in Steals, named to the All NBA First Team, and League MVP. Iverson led the Sixers to the NBA Finals, only to be met by the unstoppable tandem of Kobe and Shaq. (I think a lot of people underestimate how incredible this season was. Iverson took a team comprised of Dikembe Mutombo, Tyrone Hill, George Lynch, Raja Bell, Kevin Ollie, Jumaine Jones, Eric Snow, and Matt Geiger among others, and put them on his back to post the best record in the East and a Finals Appearance. And another thing, how the hell did Todd MaCCulloch play in 3 NBA Finals Series? Plus Iverson completely ruined Tyronn Lue's entire existence.... ">
Iverson continued to do his thing with the 76ers from 2002-2006, scoring around 30 ppg and wowing NBA fans with a killer crossover and insane athleticism. He had a falling out with the Sixers and was eventually traded to the Nuggets and then the Pistons. However, as much bad press and criticism Iverson endured during his career, he almostnever took a night off, and gave his body and soul to the game of Basketbal.To all the non believers, bow in the presence of greatness...Oh you mad?
Oh yea, think I would go through a whole Iverson digression without this...">

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Welcome To The Big Show

Welcome to the big show. After months (but more like days) of preparation our blog is set up and ready to roll. So sit back, twist something up, and enjoy the show!

"And aloha means goodbye"