RDAT Tournament – Seeding and Brackets

The moment is finally here. The Rap Debut Album Tournament (RDAT) is ready to announce seeding and play-in matchups. The 2018 RDAT is sponsored by:

  • Image result for mos def album coversOld White Men
  • Corporate Forces
  • Some Tall Israeli
  • Cocaine
  • ‘Dro, ‘Yac and E-pills
  • MTV
  • Viacom
  • A.O.L. and Time Warner
  • Hennessey
  • and Quasi Homosexuals

(This list brought to you by Yasiin Bey, a.k.a. Mos Def on “The Rape Over“)

Initial brackets were previously announced, but a late entry was presented and accepted. So without further ado, here is the official 2018 RDAT Seeding.

  1. Nas – Illmatic
  2. Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the 36 Chambers
  3. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP
  4. Jay-Z – Reasonable Doubt
  5. Kanye West – The College Dropout
  6. 50 Cent – Get Rich or Die Tryin’
  7. Image result for beastie boys licensed to illBlack Star – Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star
  8. Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die
  9. DMX – It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot
  10. Eric B. & Rakim – Paid In Full
  11. Run-D.M.C. – Run-D.M.C.
  12. Outkast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
  13. Redman – Whut? Thee Album
  14. Lupe Fiasco – Food & Liquor
  15. Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill
  16. Black Sheep – A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
  17. Big Pun – Capital Punishment
  18. Smif N Wessun – Dah Shinin’

There were a couple of albums that just missed the cut. Those that Just Missed the RDAT Bracket is sponsored by Lyrica, which is great for you, so long as you’re willing to risk possible swelling of the face, mouth, lips, gums, tongue, throat or neck.

Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels

I missed out when El-P and Killer Mike of Dungeon Family fame initially came together after a successful tour to form Run the Jewels. As a fan of old-school fictionalized ‘gansta’ rap lyrics (See ‘Lucifer’ by Jay-Z or ‘Shook Ones, Part II’ by Mobb Deep).

To hear it done well with a modern, up-tempo beat was a joy, especially when I heard it via National Public Radio. They are a bright light in the darkness I hear with many of the more recent rappers coming out.

That’s probably just my aged ears not ‘feeling’ the new-school stuff. That’s partially why while a great album, RTJ isn’t truly influential. I mean, who’s attempting to match and/or follow the style of RTJ? And while there are great songs, what is their timeless classic?

Image result for public enemyPublic Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush The Show

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is a seminal album, featuring timeless classics like ‘Bring the Noise’ and ‘Don’t Believe the Hype’.

It doesn’t feature a solo track by Flava Flav, but it’s worth noting his contributions to the group. According to Wikipedia, when they were initially approached by Rick Rubin to sign with Def Jam, he wanted Chuck D as a solo artist.

But he demanded they sign Flava as well and for good reason. With all the seriousness that Chuck D pushes through his lyrics, Flava was a much-needed counter balance.

But to think that Flava is the ready-made joke he has become I his old age looks past his tracks like “911 is a Joke” and “Can’t Do Nuttin’ for Ya Man.”

Both of those tracks were released off “Fear of a Black Planet”, the third critically acclaimed album from a hip-hop group that Rolling Stone magazine placed No. 44 on their all-time artists list. A group that critics have called “the most influential and radical band of their time.”

Their influence is without question. But what is in question is what is their debut album. Needless to say, it was It Takes A Nation. And if you can tell me one track from Yo! Bum Rush The Show, then you’d be the first.

Image result for 3 feet high and risingDe La Soul – 3 Feet High And Rising

I’ve already stated my love for the Native Tongue family and all its member.

I love De La and remember a stop-action movie I made in high school using audio samples from De La Soul is Dead and the anime classic Akira.

But that’s just it. I like 3 Feet High. I love De La Soul is Dead and this is my list so it’s just not tall enough and that’s the truth.


This Bird Has Flown

The key still fit the lock. It went in smooth and he held it in place, held it in anticipation, like the house wasn’t empty, like it would not let him in, like it would reject it as it had before.

But that didn’t happen.

He still took his time turning the lock, looking around to ensure others weren’t watching. If anyone was, what would they think? Even those who might question could only see a man at a front door, one to which he had the key.

They wouldn’t see the slight shock the locks hadn’t been changed. They wouldn’t see the pang of nervousness in his hands, not on his face but in the eyes and he blanked out on the door as a flash of memories went by in the time it takes to realize you’ve paused too long.

He quietly opened the door, stepped inside and used his back to close the door, slowly and with care to avoid noise. Then he waited, watched and listened. The house didn’t betray him, holding just as silent in the sunlight.

It was the only source of light, but he didn’t need it. He’d been in this space so many times, the blueprint was etched in granite. He looked up and glanced towards the fireplace. There were the utensils in place, but it hadn’t been used in a while. Not that he was expecting it would have…

The kitchen is an obvious place to check when returning. Is it still the same? How about the table where so many meals were spent, where so many memories were made. Interestingly enough, the same could be said for most bathrooms, but few think to return to that.

He returned to his favorite place, keeping his footsteps quiet while moving towards the stairs. He didn’t take the bannister and it almost felt like tip-toeing when he didn’t go two steps at a time.

Even the small landings held memories.

He reached the top and turned, walking directly into the bedroom and freezing when it finally occurred to him that this wasn’t his home anymore, this wasn’t this free and open of a space and the key wasn’t really supposed to work.

Instead he now was in the room again. With his eyes closed, he recalled the way it looked before. The position of the bed, made and ready to accept its next visitor. Where the TV was and its proximity to the window. Even though this was the second floor, he never liked the outside world to see anything on the inside.

But he didn’t design this room. He was just allowed in and used and abused that time some of the time. More of the time than not. Maybe that’s why he was on the outside now, was looking at an old space he had once been that could do nothing more than serve as a giant reminder.

He had to remind himself why he was here to begin with and couldn’t place it. He couldn’t remember if he had an actual reason to be in the neighborhood or if the turns he took led him here thanks to his guidance.

He guided himself to the closet and at the doorway, he swore he could smell her. Smell her clothes and presence and he enhaled to get as much as possilbe. It was like he had taken her clothes in for a giant hug, the scent entering and immersing itself throughout him.

He held the position for moments, which could have be minutes. He would recall the scent for the months that would follow. It etched in his mind and stayed with him long after he left.

But the initial reception, the initial acceptance of this smell is a moment he cherished. Forgetting the reasons why he no longer could smell them in real time. Forgetting all that he did to make it where he couldn’t. Absolving himself for his actions and moving past them at light speed.

With speed, he turned from that spot, turned and returned to the door and lingered for a moment. He stood still and recalled moments in his mind. Moments of pleasure. Moments of pain, the pain he had caused.

If he was a cryer, this would have been the time.

He went to the bathroom and looked at the walls. Noticed the wallpaper and tried to remember what it looked like before. He doubted it had changed, but it was a safe place mentally to stay. A safe place to calm his emotions.

As if on command, the opening notes to “Norwegian Wood” by The Beatles began to play in his mind.

I once had a girl. Or should I say, she once had me.

He walked back towards the stairs, taking his time and noticing the doors to the other bedrooms, but not really noticing.

She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere. 

So I looked around and I noticed there wasn’t a chair.

Down the stairs and back into the main living space. He looked towards the door, but really the windows to see if there was anything; but of course there wasn’t. Not in this neighborhood, not at this time of the day.

This was a working class space, a place where there were few stay-at-home mothers, not because they had to work to ensure bills were paid but because they wanted to pursue their careers and dreams. It was an ideal place to raise children, filled with positive female role models.

At least he liked to think that at the time.

She told me she worked in the morning and started to laugh.

I told her I didn’t and crawled off to sleep in the bath.

His thoughts went back to memories in the bathroom. Memories in the bedrooms. Memories flashing towards him like water racing down to the end of a funnel. At waiting there was his will, his determination to not let them effect his actions.

And when I awoke. I was alone, whispered the fool.

So I lit the fire. Isn’t it good Norwegian wood.

He was well away from the house before he looked back. A good enough distance away that a stranger wouldn’t associate him with it anymore. He looked and stared and watched and felt his memories, his feelings float up towards the sky like smoke.


Why Are You Important?

As a sports fan, I know a lot of names and faces for no good reason. I have a relatively speaking memory of random stats and facts like the starting center on the 1993 Indiana Pacers, where Andy Van Slyke started his MLB career and what college quarterback Steve McNair went to.

To some, the answers to those questions aren’t gimmies, but it’s not that difficult. I didn’t take much to think about them and actually debated if they were difficult. But I realize to those who find this stuff important, it would be easy.

To the others, the only way they could conceive of getting the answers would be via Siri or Alexea. Those are clues from Jeopardy? They clearly don’t find sports knowledge to be important and it’s not like they would need it for a sports game show. The couple of times it has been tried as failed.

However, the TV game show is a fail-safe feature that is the foundation of the medium. That’s why it’s not surprising to see a comedian in their element – holding a mic on a stage in front of a crowd – bantering with a lucky so-and-so and asking questions for cash.

It matters not if the comedian is not that funny or one of the all-time greats like Ellen Degeneres. Her show’s final game was a 3-second identifier game and if you are familiar with actors and celebrities, this would be easy. A game like that featuring the 3rd Kardashian sister, the latest Bachelor and…

Look, even trying to come up with a potential picture of gossip magazine celebrities is hard. Ellen’s images were easy because she made sure to use important people. Granted, she’s helped to make these same people important, bringing them onto her show so they can self-promote.

It’s an interesting cycle when you start to think about the decision-makers that decide this person deserves to be more important than this person. This is somewhat similar to sports, but the athlete has mathematical numbers to support thier case for importance.

The ‘celebrity’ stats aren’t similar since they are based mostly on people’s opinions about them, despite minimal interaction with their actual self. I’ve seen many a Sandra Bullock film, from Love Potion No. 9 to While You Were Sleeping to Practical Magic to Two Weeks Notice.

I think she’s a great actress, but I don’t know about her as a person. Yet I and many others form opinions about who she is when she’s not acting in a role on the screen. That becomes important because we ‘like’ Sandy, while disliking others for whatever reason that has little to do with whatever they actually do to make them important.

Who and what we deem important is important, but just as important is who’s deciding and determining what should be important. It’s a decision that doesn’t sound important and is taken for granted, but one that shows self-confidence and that’s the truth.


Where Your Grandma Stay?

Last year, Richard Rothstien released a book entitled The Color Of Law: A Forgotten History Of How Our Government Segregated America.

The details behind what happened are simple with long-lasting effects that are present even today. It’s simply the president of the United States passed legislation to ensure the black population of the country couldn’t purchase homes.

Rothstien told NPR’s Terry Gross, “The Public Works Administration program and housing was primarily designed to provide housing to white middle-class/lower-middle class families.”

This was less than a decade after the Wall Street crash and the Great Depression of the late 1920s, but sadly very close to the Tulsa Race Riot. The nation was only a generation removed from a war about the economic disparity created when you don’t have to pay your workforce.

So Franklin Roosevelt ensured his voting contingent would get out of the slums and get into homes. Meanwhile, the first generation of ‘free’ black people were forced to move into apartments commonly knows as projects. The banks didn’t approve home loans for them and the few loans that were approved were for homes in specific neighborhoods.

Those neighborhoods were segregated, as were the public services offered in those communities. So the schools were all one color and public funding would follow the whims of the voting public…in a time when it was easy to persuade people not to vote, especially when you turned fire hoses on them.

Photo by Bill Hudson

Once the foundation was set, things continued the way it was intended. And by that, I mean the white famines that made it thought the Great Depression were rewarded with homes, providing them with equity as the economy grew.

That equity was then available to be used in a variety of ways. Investing in your children’s future by taking out college loans. Investing in a potential business opportunity. Investing in the same stock market that caused their parents to go broke.

But if you didn’t have a home, if you were only able to rent, if you had to save up money for a down payment for anything, then you lived differently. But when you did finally get a chance to own a home, you truly loved it and would want to take care of it.

These are the homes that are the first to disappear with the influx of gentrification, since the phrase itself means (at least to me) the influx of young upper-middle class people turning historically black communities just outside big cities into their own.

I picked up a Lyft passenger earlier today from a neighborhood that was obviously filled with black residents, with well-painted graffiti otherwise known as murals on the walls and large homes on larger plots of land that have stood the test of time.

It was an area that was initially abandoned when ‘white flight’ sent families outside the city and now they want back in. Especially in cities where a lack of infrastructure allows for residents to leave their cars at home.

But as I plot my next ride-share adventure, I’m thankful for the lack of a rail line while hoping these same infiltrators vote for change for more than just thier side of the block and that’s the truth.

Potent Potables

It’s a category in Jeopardy!, one of many and the most fun is an SNL version. Will this be after the open or in the Final 15?

This couldn’t go any worse for anyone watching with authority and fear thanks to long-term power and profit that glorified physical violence, better known as The Shield, becomes boxing.

In a recent Ringer article, Jonathan Tjarks mentions how NFL offensive linemen would be in the boxing ring 70 years ago. CTE slowing the middle class funnel of youth players and their parents, or at least the general fear from actions like that were on full display in front of a national Sunday audience, an audience that watched the photogenic product pitch man Cam Newton get a defender’s chest in his face at full speed and stumbled to the ground afterwards.

If he stays down or didn’t return, that’s the story that dominates the next 72 hours. It’s a black eye to compound a generally bad weekend of playoff football.

But the league doesn’t make billions for nothing. Not only did Superman return from the sidelines, he was throwing strikes including one to an athletic white boy who shook, them outran the defense for 60 yards.

Those are moments that I’ll be forgotten after the ending. Just another thing that happened during that epic game that will only be remembered when they produce the 30-minute special for NFL Network.

The characteristics of a great album include:

If it was released tomorrow, would it be a smash?

This test stands up regardless of when the album is originally released. This is best personified by Off The Wall. There are multiple songs off that album that are No. 1 hits regardless if it’s 1983 or 2003.

Relevance and Influence

Licensed To Ill put Def Jam on the map financially and gave Rick Rubin someplace to shine. It’s not one of my favorites, but certainly has its place.

Easy to Understand Sports Analogy

To quote Christopher Wallace, “Brawl nights, I perform like Mike. Anyone, Tyson, Jordan, Jackson. Action.”

Everyone knows the Mikes mentioned are associated with the best. Sports athletes are the easiest people for a young man to want to be and the relativity factor is helpful. Whether you’re from H-Town or the Boogie Down, you understand Ice Cube when he says, “I’m like Satchel Paige wit a gauge. Or Jackie Robinson, when I’m Robbin one.”

How Many Of Us Have Them?

I grew up with kids my age across the street, around the corner and a few blocks in a variety of directions. I was never at a loss for friends to play with, but with very few of them did I share my deepest and darkest.

The first days of college are dark for anyone going to school without a tag-along buddy. My first days in Boston were spent with the people in my class and on my floor. While I had a lot of fun with the Boys of 5E, I’m only in touch with one of the people I spent an inordinate amount of time with that year.

As anyone gets older, their actions reflect the history they’ve created for themselves. If you spent time focused on one thing, it’s likely that that’s how you will be judged and your relationships will showcase just that. I didn’t focus on anything in particular and as a result, my relationships were as varied as one could imagine.

I would have imagined that being later in life these relationships would last, but there is an absolute power in time and distance. One moment you’re wondering whether to share seeing a friend’s paramour with another man, the next you’re making sure to be the first one on the floor at a wedding reception…luckily to someone much better than the former.

The better way to judge friends isn’t by time put in, but what is the output. What did you get and gather and feel from time spent with them? I easily get caught up with how the friends were acquired, placing people into categories accordingly.

A person you eat lunch with and talk to at work is a box that only expands if the location changes. Neighbors and other associates can be tested in a similar light. When the lights are dim and drinks are poured, are you sharing actual information or just playing verbal tennis to pass the time?

There was a time when I would say I had no friends, but I hold a strict criteria to allow usage of that term. And relatives don’t count since they’re almost obligated and obliged to be your friend, especially if you see them more than once a year.

Friendship is a thing that I take for granted with some, that I cherish with others. Sadly, I expect more from my friends than I usually have provided and that is extremely selfish of me. I can only apologize for this abuse and ask for forgiveness, something to be proven by altered actions over a course of time.

I’m trying to be better. While I may seem to be an open person, there are very few that I’ve allowed into my personal circle and even less that I trust enough to share what’s really happening and my thoughts on it.

And yes, I realize that this blog is nothing but me sharing my thoughts and feelings about stuff. But would you believe that I don’t share everything? That I keep some things private? That I’m happy to have a few people I can turn to when times are tough and know they’ll do their best to come through for me. It’s a beautiful thing that many don’t realize they have until it’s needed or it’s too late, so that I’ve been able to find it with a blessing and that’s the truth.

The Kid Lottery

NOTE: The Rap Debut Album Tournament (RDAT) will continue with official announcement of seeding in a couple of days. Please Stay Tuned…

With that out of the way, let’s get back to the Annual Kid Lottery, a competition that’s better for some than others.

If you’re reading this, then you’re part of the Greatest 1% worldwide! Congratulations!

This means you have some kind of mobile device, InterWeb access and the freedom to spend time reading. Combining all three with a safe place to read and a lack of persecution against your ability to do so, especially if you happen to be female, is a blessing and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

But we in the Greatest 1% want more. What would be good for the stereotypical starving person in some foreign land like Africa, Indonesia or a few miles away from where you live isn’t enough.

Not only do we want more, a large percentage of us feel we deserve to get more. Why we deserve more has a variety of reasons, but most are credited to it either being something your relative predecessors earned for your sake or a God-given right.

Depending on the God you happen to be referring to, most of the divinities I’m aware of speak about doing right by your fellow man and helping others before yourself, which would go against the whole “God wants me to have more” thinking.

As far as the former, your relatives that did whatever they did did it for themselves, the same way you’re doing what you are doing for yourself. Whether intended or not, their success was for them and it is the luckiest of children who get to benefit in the lap of luxury because of it.

Luxury’s lap is great with things like running water, refrigerated food, climate-controlled accommodations, a variety of clothes to put on and only the newest shoes. High priced shoes please, even if I’m too young to walk. And electronic devices galore, like a cell phone to call…someone, but really to watch images projected from “the cloud” to wherever I am whenever I want.

And if I don’t get it, I’ll whine and complain until I get what I want.

Regardless of my draft position, whether I’m in the Greatest 1% or the 99, it seems whining and complaining comes natural to every human child, which at its core is fascinating.

With my subpar knowledge of the animal kingdom, it seems the young complain and cry early on for their parents to supply and provide what is needed to survive. But those same parents also teach and train heir youths to survive on their own and are quick to kick them out when they get too big.

Yes, we’re not animals. Yes, we’re a ‘better species’ and some say we’ve been placed in charge of the animals that roam the Earth. With that last point, I agree but wonder why if we’re in charge how come two-thirds of the planet is but for us to not even inhabit.

And on that final 1/3, we are there many who would rather support and assist those same animals instead of helping a kid in the 99 who clearly got a bad lottery ticket?

The only problem with helping one in the 99 is the fear that your assistance won’t do much to improve their overall life experience. While taking Jo-Jo or Jimmy out of the 99 for a few hours or giving them an off-cast toy or coloring book from the 1% helps momentarily, it takes significant movements to truly alter jimmy or Jo-Jo’s life.

So what do we do afterwards? We can’t just keep giving away clothes we don’t wear anymore and donating expendable income to assist.

And we certainly can’t allow our tax dollars, my TAX DOLLARS, to go to refurbish and rise up the 99 to something better. I mean, what’s in it for me? I mean, how does that assist me with getting my divine right of more?

If it makes you feel any better, the first immigrants to this land had a similar problem. They arrived from Europe and despite the vast amount of available land all over, they wanted more.

They were followers of the Bible, yet put that book down or ignored the overall message of peace that kill, infect and enslave the native people, their own people and other people that would come later.

They fought a war for freedom and wrote a document about how all men are created equal, going directly against their everyday actions against women and minorities. It’s one of, if not the greatest hypocrisies in world history, but is paved over with ideas about good intentions for “the children”.

There’s a Helen Lovejoy line somewhere in the next paragraph, but I can’t find it from my high horse atop my soapbox and that’s the truth.