Change is good, evolution is necessary. However not all things need reassignment. Some stuff in life is just fine the way it is.
Some time ago, everybody’s favorite drug dealing rapper, Jay-Z, released his4:44album. Though the album was scrutinized and highly criticized by the female listeners, for a lot of different reasons, it is still regarded as a milestone in rap music. To most people, it marked Jay-Z’s attempt at ushering in a more mature attitude towards the music. This wasn’t the first time a rapper attempted to crossover, but this isn’t just a rapper. It’s Jigga. And let’s be honest; what Jay-Z does we all follow. Overall, the album was basically Shawn Carter’s admission of having flaws and making his way through life as a man. 75% of Hiphopolis praised Jay-Z for his effort.And for what it’s worth, I predicted this album before it dropped.
Bryshere Gray, widely known around the world as infamous MC, Hakeem Lyon, star of the musical drama Empire, is under the proverbial gun right now for deciding not to take a photo with a Philadelphia drag queen musical collective known as Philly Drag Mafia.
Bryshere — nee Hakeem — was in town to perform at the Anti-Defamation League’s Walk Against Hate and the PDM opened up for him. So, it would only make sense that he would take photographs with this local act, seeing as though he’s such a big star, right?
According to people that were at the function, Bryshere made himself available to take photographs and selfies with various members of the audience as well as other entertainers. However, when it came time to take photos with Philly Drag Mafia, Bryshere decided against it. Now, the young lad who was once loved by everyone, is receiving hate mail and unnecessary rhetoric for the decision to avoid the obvious controversy and stigmatization that would be fused with such seemingly innocent photographs.
Young Hakeem Lyon is in the infant stages of a very successful career as an entertainer. It is vital for him to make decisions that will not only benefit him in the future but also protect him in the present. I don’t know if one of his “people” told him not to take the photo, but in my opinion, it was the best choice to make under such influential circumstances.
K-Rock has taken a dark, twisted turn towards the unusual since officially becoming Kardashian. (I don’t doubt that one day papers will emerge that show Kanye legally changing his last name to Kardashian ‘pon jumping Kimmy Kakes’ magic broom. Also he seems like the type of guy who says things like “I wish I could have the baby for you” during labor. But that’s neither here nor there.) Along with his recent antics such as flipping out on Taylor Swift for the second time and wilding out on Saturday Night Live, we can now add that he is apparently going through some sort of identity crisis.
It’s no secret that the Kardashians are legitimately the first family of plastic surgery. Not to but flexed on by the tribe he created, Bruce Jenner, the squad’s unofficial earringleader pulls the ultimate plastic surgery and rearranges his or her entire sexual orientation. To make matters worse, Lamar Odom overdoses in Nevada, which may not necessarily be a direct descendant of the Kardashians tree of narcissistic psychosis, but it damn sure qualifies as a form of self-mutilation.
Right on cue, we have Kanye West, slowly unveiling his manual recalibration to a not so surprised public with the introduction of some god-damned colored contact lenses.
Clearly, the Kardashians broke Kanye.
But, I can’t lay all the blame on that dangerous bunch of real life cartoon characters. I’ll give him some credit for his lunacy as well.
Like remember that time he interrupted Taylor Swift’s interview just to swing back and forth on Beyonce’s bra strap for a few minutes? To this day, I’m not sure any of us really know what that was all about. That same night, Kanye was seen walking to and fro guzzling Hennessy straight from a big ass bottle. It takes a little bit of crazy to guzzle Hennessy straight from a big ass bottle, especially when you know that the entire world is watching everything that you do.
You may recall when he walked around with his hair unnecessarily sliced into fragments and portions, looking like Pinhead from Hellraiser. That was the most unnecessary hairstyle(s) I’ve ever seen in my life. To complement the pristine ridiculousness of that Google-Maps-cesar, he later rocked a shag. Yes, a shag. Black America’s answer to White America’s mullet. However, the world was not ready to bring back the shag, thank the barbershop gods.
If memory serves me correctly, Kanye West is the only rapper to get into a physical altercation with the paparazzi. Rappers beef with rappers all the time, and sometimes it even leads to fistfights, robberies, even murder. The ramifications for these situations are generally nil because rappers don’t want to tell on each other. No snitching and whatnot. Plus no one cares when Black people rappers kill each other anyway. And even though social media has completely changed the game, only a crazy motherfucker would attack somebody that’s recording them. Not only did Yeezy put hands on a cameraman while other camera men were in the immediate vicinity, but he also got sued for it, and there was even mention of him going to jail when it all popped off. Luckily for Kanye, he never served any time for that ridiculousness, because I truly believe that if he did he would have been pushed over the edge. It wouldn’t be the trickle-down effect that we are all blessed enough to be witnessing firsthand today. It would have been swift, abrupt lunacy.
And if I may speak a bit of an unpopular opinion for a moment, I’m genuinely surprised that so many people find his clothing line, including his shoes, appealing. Even before the Mad Max and Star Wars memes began flooding the internet about a year ago in response to his Hip Hop hobo haberdashery, my initial thought when I saw a jacket he designed was, “that looks like some shit Lando Calrissian would wear.” The more clothing designs I saw, the more I was convinced that Kanye is either having a nominal mental breakdown or has picked up a slight cocaine problem. I’m still not sure if both of those aren’t the at this very moment, but that was the nail in the coffin for me. I believe it takes a crazy person to design clothes that look like they weren’t designed, if that makes any sense.
These are but a few scant examples of Kanye’s preexisting condition. Though I’m no fan of the Kardashians, and I believe they are an unclassified branch of the United States government designed with the sole intention of destroying society from the inside out, one idiot at a time, I can’t rightfully place all the blame on them for the one man reality show that is Kanye West. He’s been working up to this point for years.
Words by Tony Grands
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In case you weren’t aware, YouTube is really awesome. There’s a pretty good chance that at least two of your most favorite movies of all time are there. And you can watch them for free. YouTube has violence, booty, education, the whole nine yards. The whole shabang. The whole kit and caboodle.
I’m just saying.
So it’s no wonder that a couple of weekends ago I found myself chillaxing on the couch, phone in hand, ripping and running the streets of youtube.com. I slowed my pace when I saw 2011’s Snow on tha Bluff scrolling up the screen. I stopped and watched, because Snow on tha Bluff is one of those movies that you watch when you get the chance to.
Because it contains the type of unyielding, spastic creativity that many Hollywood blockbusters could only wish to have. Taking an ingenious cue from the The Blair Witch Project, the only reason this homemade movie-meets-First Person Shooter didn’t gain more traction on a mainstream level is because of a lack of marketing and promotion. It really is a good movie beyond the hyperbole and emphasis on its urban American axis.
Immediately after, and I mean literally, directly underneath Snow on tha Bluff was 2006’s Killa Season. Killa Season is rapper Cam’ron’s obligatory low budget Hood movie. Every popular rapper from the mid 90s to early 00s made one. Jay-Z has one. Master P has a few. Even Mack 10, Ice Cube’s long lost Westside Connection cohort has one. So it was only right that the once-Byrd Gang General, Killa Cam, have one also.
Cam’s version of the lifestyle of a drug-dealing gangster was every bit as engaging as his personality. Had that movie been made by another rapper, I seriously doubt it would have become the cult classic that it still is to this day.
By the end of that day I’d watched both flicks. I wanted to get online and tweet about them or update my status is about them but I didn’t. As my friend Steven Brown would likely advise, I decided to write about it instead.
Which one was better? The question itself, is simple enough, but it’s not quite that simple.
Let’s do some untraditional comparing and contrasting and see if we can figure out which one of these classic movies can actually be described as classic.
In terms of authenticity, I’d have to give both movies a general nod. Neither plot seems too far-fetched or fantastic, especially if you live or dwell in any sort of urban American environment. Or you may have a friend or family member who got caught up in the street life. Both movies will be familiar to those people familiar with that lifestyle. However, Snow takes an extra step and I’m not sure if it was intentional or not.
Allow me to explain.
The first 20 minutes of Snow appears to contain no actors at all. I believe they were all very real people. (Except the tourist-y kids that got robbed.) There is also a scene when Curtis is doing a drug deal and the woman that’s cooking crack in the kitchen is naked. Now, the authenticity doesn’t come from the chick whippin’ her wrist with her poon exposed for all to see, the authenticity comes from the fact that she didn’t have any body parts that I was interested in looking at for longer than 3 seconds. She looked like she grew up around the corner from everybody. Unlike Snow, Killa Season‘s authenticity didn’t necessarily come from the supporting cast, but rather the on-screen comfortability of its star.
(I’ve said it a thousand times to a hundred people, Cam’ron Giles is a good actor. He made his role believable, as he’s done in virtually every movie I’ve seen him act in. At some point he’ll really really understand this talent and I guarantee you he’s going to take Hollywood by storm. He might even surprise himself. Quote me on all that.)
Although both movies rank adequately high on the Keepin’ It Real-o-meter, Snow edges out Killa because so many of the extras look like they are actually on drugs. Real drugs, the type a cat would be too ashamed to rap about being addicted to.
Speaking on the believability of each movie, the winner would have to be, again, Snow on tha Bluff. But only by a small margin. Snow never had a moment of elation or happiness. The times that did cause Curtis and his squad to jump in any sort of Glee involved a criminal element. That’s dismal. And unfortunately, that’s usually reality for a lot of people, in some shape or form. For example, they were happy as hell when they robbed the out-of-town drug dealers. Curtis counted the sacks of dope with a passionate gleam in his eye, like a kid the night before his birthday.
Killa Season was believable, but believable in more of an “I want to be a rapper/drug dealer when I grow up” type of way. That’s basically been Cam’s whole music career. Glorifying the highlights of the criminal/hustler lifestyle. He’s kind of like a ghetto superhero, and that image was solidified once he donned his universally recognized pink costume. But that’s neither here nor there.
There were messages and moments of social awareness in Season but for the most part it focused on the perks of being a baller (the money, hoes clothes effect) and how to answer when the streets come calling. It was a bit like one long rap video, for better and worse. But one huge factor that works tragically against Killa Season is the fact that it didn’t end. The opportunity to cap all the drama that had been shaken and stirred for the previous two hours never manifested. No point of finality occurred.
The ending of a movie could very well take its believability rating beyond the heavens or under the radar and one of the greatest dope boy movies of all time doesn’t have one! This is indeed one of Hip Hop’s most monumental tragedies.
Every good movie has an “OH SHIT!” moment. This moment is the film’s unintentional star, the seed which fuels the distance its cult status travels. In this regard, a fierce battle ensues, but Killa Season emerges as the victor.
Granted, Snow’s opening robbery scene was an immediate, totally unexpected twist, and I guarantee you said “Oh shit…” when it happened, but Killa‘s drug mule defacation scene is one of the most gut-wrenching moments I can remember in any film, low budget or otherwise. No movie you’ve ever watched will prepare you for diarrhea delivery in real-time.
Between the two movies, there are hundreds of taking points and debatable angles. This piece could easily extend for another thousand words. But I don’t have that type of time on my hands.
So we’ll leave it in yours.
Words by Tony Grands
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