Tag Archive | Life

The Evolution of Rap Part 2

 

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In the last post of this series we discussed the evolution of the rap from the 1980’s to the first part of the 1990’s.  This period was widely known for the subgenre of hip-hop/rap called gangsta rap, which talked about the struggles of the inner city and was much harder than previous styles.  We talked about the works and influence of artists like N.W.A., Dr. Dre, and the Wu-Tang Clan.  This post will be dedicated to two of the rap giants during the 1990’s, 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G, while exploring the West vs. East rivalry.  tupac-shakur-07

Tupac Amaru Shakur often heralded as one, if not the greatest rapper of all time, rose to fame during the early 1990’s .  His first album, 2Pacalylpse Now discussed the struggles of growing up, racism, police brutality, and urban life.  This set the precedent for much of 2Pac’s subject matter for his career as he would speak on the harsh reality of the inner city and how things must change.  The political voice associated with 2Pac’s works are reminiscent of those who came before him like Public Enemy.  His second album though would be his breakout album as it got him national atention within the rap industry with songs like I Get A Round and Keep Ya Head Up.  Keep Ya Head Up is definitely the more touching of the two as it speaks about how in recent years and in the rap game women have been pushed down.  He gives insight into his childhood and what he saw growing up.  More of his social commentary could be seen in the song dedicated to his mother on his third album, Me Against the World.  The song Dear Mama talks about and is a heartfelt homage to his mother who worked so hard to try and raise him in a world of turmoil.  This is considered one of his greatest songs and is even a work collected in the Library of Congress.

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2Pac’s fourth album was All Eyez On Me and is considered his greatest production due to the medley of rap hits it gave like How Do You Want It and the famous California Love.  This album was released in 1996 after he had joined Death Row Records with a bunch of other prominent West Coast rappers in 1995.  This album would be one of the most influential rap albums of all time as it would inspire the next generation of artists that would come up in the 2000’s.  His last album, The 7 Day Theory, was made in a relatively short time and would have massive success but unfortunately he didn’t live long enough to see it for himself.  On September 7, 1996, Shakur was murdered in Las Vegas after a Mike Tyson fight as he was the victim of a shooting while he was in the passenger seat with his friend Suge Knight.  On September 13th, 1996, he had died in the intensive care unit of internal bleeding from the gunshot wounds.  Tupac Shakur is remembered as being one of the greatest artists of all time as he rapped about the struggles of life and the tragedies of the human condition.  He also helped to bring rap and hip-hop to the mainstream public which made it more of an acceptable art form for young artists to express themselves.

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The second rap giant that dominated the 1990’s was Christopher Wallace or better known as The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls.  Biggie grew up in New York City and helped to bring back rap music from the East Coast as previously the rap game was dominated by West Coast artists.  He started rapping as a teenager on the streets of Brooklyn and one day he was heard by Sean Combs (now better known as P. Diddy) of Uptown Records.  However, Combs would be fired from his position at Uptown and decided to start his own label called Bad Boy Records.  He continued to get exposure from releasing remixes of popular songs until he was able to release his first studio album, Ready To Die, in 1994.  He broke out as an artist with the song Juicy which had pop-like vocals and the album also had the synth heavy Big Poppa.  Juicy told the story of him trying to make it as an artist and the struggle of growing up in Brooklyn as well as trying to adjust to his new lifestyle. It got strong, positive reviews and brought attention back to the East Coast.

Unfortunately, Biggie and 2Pac would be involved in a long lasting feud that started from a misunderstanding in 1994.  2Pac was shot and mugged while in Quad Studios.  He would accuse Sean Combs and Biggie of being involved in setting it up despite them claiming to not being involved.  This misunderstanding started the intense rivalry between the two artists and the two coasts of the nation.  It was all about the West versus the East.  Death Row Records was very vocal about how they felt about Bad Boy Records.  The rivalry between the two record labels pushed their respective artists to make better music and it also spurred their fan bases to support.  However with the shooting of Tupac 1996, it came to a realization that it had gone to far as Death Row was blaming the East for the incident.  Biggie was very open about how Tupac’s loss was a tragedy and remembered the times when they were friends before the 1994 incident.  However, Biggie while visiting California to support his new album Life After Death was murdered on March 9, 1997.  The murders of Tupac and Biggie are still unsolved and there is still controversy about what just might have happened.  Christopher Wallace is considered one of the greatest rappers ever and will forever be known as the King of New York as far as rap.

 

High Flying Favorites

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With basketball season already in full swing, I have been glued to the TV watching my favorite match ups of the day while also keeping up with my fantasy team.  In addition, I along with two of my friends are creating a basketball league for teenagers in our community, because we realized there weren’t any competitive basketball leagues at the high school level that were outside of playing for the high school or travel ball.  Thus, we decided to work together and create one for kids who for whatever reason couldn’t play for their high school or they couldn’t afford travel ball.  We have decided to name it the ABA, to bring back the notion of “let’s just play basketball and have fun” that was what kind of characterized the ABA back in the day where it rivaled the NBA.  I will be posting a link to my basketball league’s page and videos in posts and be sure to keep all of you updated.  However, to celebrate the launch of the beginning of our setting up process, I have decided to compile my favorite basketball movies.

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1. Teen Wolf-1985

This classic 80’s movie stars one of the most iconic actors of the decade, Michael J. Fox.  In Back to the Future, he played Marty McFly on his adventures through time with Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd.  In Teen Wolf, Fox plays an average teenager who happens to be on his school’s not so great varsity basketball team.  On his team he isn’t a star but it is more like he’s just there (and the tension between the team doesn’t help).  Along with the troubles of his basketball team, he is also troubled by average things like not being popular, school, girls, and oh yea being a werewolf.  One night when he gets home, he starts getting a really funny feeling and rushes to the bathroom.  Upon looking in the mirror, he discovers he is turning into some sort of monster and soon discovers it runs in his family, as his father is also a werewolf.  Now, he isn’t like a new “Twilight” werewolf or savage by any means, in this movie he just becomes furry and also becomes more athletic.  You can imagine there are few werewolves in your typical high school, so Scott (his character’s name) suddenly gets launched into stardom when in a game he fails to hide his alter ego.  He gets angry during a basketball game and suddenly transforms into a high flying werewolf.  This movie doesn’t focus so much on basketball the sport, but uses it as a medium to tell the story.

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2. Hoosiers-1986

This is one of the quintessential basketball films as it is a story on not only the competitive aspect, but the philosophy behind the game.  As far as the plot, it is similar to a more recent movie, Remember the Titans, in the sense that there is the plot development between a community and a new coach being brought in for the high school team.  Similarly, the community at first is uneasy about the new basketball coach, Dale, and also that the town basketball star, Jimmy, refuses to play for Dale due to how he was so attached to the old coach.  Dale introduces a new playing style that doesn’t quite yield the results the community hoped for and threaten to get rid of him.  However, Jimmy decides to play and this turns things around for the team.   The team ends up going to to the state championship and wins it all with everyone on the team stepping up along the way.  This movie is an excellent movie, as to not butcher the beautiful messages and inspiration in the movie, I highly suggest you watch it if you haven’t.

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3. Coach Carter-2005

This movie is an inspiring sports drama about the struggles of inner city youth and trying to balance basketball along with their other priorities.  In this movie, the great Samuel L. Jackson plays Ken Carter, an alumni of Richmond High School, is newly coached to run the school basketball team.  He is disappointed in the activities and behavior of the team and before he can teach them basketball he must team them about life.  He forces them to study and has them sign contracts to make sure they wouldn’t neglect their studies.  The movie really focuses on how life and sports are interconnected in both values and responsibilities.  However, when drama occurs in some of the players’ lives and Carter’s son joins the team things get much more complicated.  Carter is so serious about changing his players’ lives for the better that he closes the gym until the players improve their games.  This movie is an excellent example of how sports relates to life and how it can be a medium for self-improvement.

-Carlos

Anosognosia on the Big Screen

Medically, Anosognosia is the lack of self-awareness (or in other words being unaware of what you don’t know).  These unknown unknowns affect us everyday and combating them is crucial for not only self improvement but how we interact with others.  It is also at the forefront of many of our popular stories, legends, and movies.  Many of our favorite movies integrate anosognosia for plot development, to add depth to the film, or for characterization.  Here are some brief examples:

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Star Wars

Yes, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” anosognosia was used for both plot and characterization.  Probably the most popularized instances of it comes from one of the franchise’s most iconic moments, the revelation of Darth Vader as Luke’s father in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.  Before the revelation, Luke had just known that he was to fight against the Sith and that Vader was his enemy.  He knew that Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire were planning devilish schemes to gain dominance in the galaxy.  After all, Vader built the Death Star, which was capable of destroying entire planets (poor Alderaan) and Luke thought Darth Vader had killed his father.  However, knowing that Vader is his dad changes everything.  It changes how he views his enemy, and makes him question himself along with the Odyssey he is on.

Another moment from the original (and really the only) trilogy comes from the Empire Strikes Back as well, when Luke and Leia kiss.  Now at the time they did not know they were brother and sister, but it does change the plot and how the characters interact as Han also had a thing for Leia.  Later when they figure out they are related, it makes it all the more dramatic and things between Luke and Han start to mend a little more.

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Jurassic Park

The plot of Jurassic Park is heavily centered around anosognosia, as the unknown unknown to Mr. Hammond and his staff is the affect of the frog DNA on the dinosaurs.   John Hammond creates Jurassic Park as a tourist attraction/living museum by bringing dinosaurs back to life from preserved “Dino DNA” found in mosquitoes in amber.  Due to deterioration, there are gaps in the gene sequence so the scientists decide to fill it in with DNA from frogs.  It is later revealed by Dr. Grant that some species of frogs are capable of changing sexes when there are not enough of one sex, prompting some of the all female dinosaurs in the park to switch genders.  All of this confirms Dr. Malcolm’s chaos theory ideas on how “Life finds a way.” The scientists were unaware of how they did not anticipate the frog DNA would allow the dinosaurs to eventually breed.  This was out of both greed from Hammond, for wanting to recreate dinosaurs as quickly as possible without regards to how, and also from his ethics.

Fight Club *spoiler alert*

For those of you who have not seen Fight Club, it is an excellent movie and I wouldn’t want to spoil the whole premise of the movie for you, thus I have put the spoiler alert.  For those of you who have, I shall continue speaking of Fight Club (breaking the First Rule).

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Now the first time I watched this movie, the revelation at the end was indeed mind blowing, to be honest I didn’t expect it.  Watching it again, I kept my eyes open for any hints about the identity of Tyler Durden and how he relates to the narrator.  The very beginning of the movie points out the narrator has insomnia but he doesn’t know it affects him to the degree that it does.  The unknown unknown for the majority of the movie is Tyler Durden’s identity and that Tyler and the narrator are the same person.  The narrator, including the audience, do not know the narrator and Tyler are the same person, Tyler just being his figment of his imagination.  The whole movie focuses around the interactions between the narrator and Tyler and how they affect each other.  Not knowing that he is making up a whole part of his life subconsciously, the narrator believes he is just living out his normal life with a new friend he has made.  When he finds out Tyler is not seen by anybody else and that he is Tyler, it completely changes his perception of life.

-Carlos

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