Growing up, I was never really into watching soccer. None of my family really watched it or played it, so I had no interest in the sport at all. The only time I would ever really watch would be the Olympics and sometimes the World Cup. But since America has been historically mediocre at soccer, there hasn't been much to follow or cheer for. But I have a friend who knows a lot about the sport, the history of the game, and pretty much everything there is to know about whats up to date with futbol. So over the past couple years I've picked his brain about the sport and about players and whats going on, but I still hadn't found what was missing that made me not interested.
So my friend calls me about a week ago and says his favorite team AC Milan is coming to Santa Clara to play against Liverpool in a pre-season friendly match at Levi's Stadium. So I'm like "Yeah bro, we in there." I was stoked because I have never been to a soccer match, besides my cousins high school games. The atmosphere is something totally different than what I'm used to for basketball for football. There were all different kinds of people speaking so many languages that weren't English, it was unbelievable. Most fans were there for Liverpool, which was better because it felt like the team we were rooting for was the underdog. And even though the game meant nothing, it felt like it meant everything. The players were head and shoulders above any talent I've ever seen in America, and they weren't even the teams best players. I mean, some of these Liverpool guys were pulling off moves that I haven't even seen in FIFA on PS4. Fans were chanting things I couldn't understand, but I could feel what they meant.
I finally found what I was missing from the game, and that was actually being there enjoying it. Watching true professionals of the sport in person do what they do best. Feeling like a part of the team, cheering as if I have cheered for Milan since I was born. I found myself learning the game from a much different perspective. Americans can go to these International matches and learn from these guys. Our country has never cared much for the sport, and it shows when we go to the Olympics or World Cup. As the sport continues to gain popularity in our country, so will the critics. And as the criticism grows, so will the demand for better play and coaching from athletes. I don't know much about the sport, but I do know that I recommend anybody to go to a soccer match, I can damn near guarantee you will have a great time. I walked in without a jersey on, and found myself in a Milan uniform by gametime, thats how powerful the atmosphere was. So hopefully I can gain some more knowledge and help you guys learn more as well. Unless you're like most Americans and just simply don't care about the sport, thats cool too.
And to Vasiliy, Sam, and Derek: #ACMilanBoyz for life
P.S. Levi's Stadium is the absolute worst *poop emoji*
Before LA got the Rams back, they have had hip-hop artists continue to represent their county through their music, sticking together like a team that lives to make sure their city never gets forgotten about. One of the artists that has done his part to put on for his team in ScHoolboy Q, 29 year-old hip-hop artist out of South Central who is signed to Top Dawg Entertainment a subset of Interscope Records. His most recent release is his second major label album, and he is beginning to prove that he has the ability to do it on his own using his own unique sound that we're not accustomed to hearing from LA hip-hop artists.
ScHoolboy Q - Blank Face LP
Released July 8, 2016
The first time I heard of ScHoolboy Q was in 2011, when he released a song featuring A$AP Rocky called "Hands on the Wheel" that samples the legend Kid Cudi's classic hit "Pursuit of Happiness" When I heard it, I was intrigued because the lyrics sounded like something out of a party song, referring to smoking weed and drinking and women. But the beat was deeper than that, sounding like something out of a horror movie, with samples of sounds of deep voices and screaming and screeching cars. Then you watch the video and you see a guy with tattoos on his face, one being a cursive Q and the other a music note, so you can visually see that this guy is serious about his career and representing who he is. So just from that video, I instantly became hooked to his fresh sound.
This being his second major label album, many look at an artists' sophomore work as the most important because it gives the audience a chance to see if they are capable of continuing to grow on their rookie success or if they are just a flash in the pan. After listening to this album a few times through, I can say that I believe he is going to be here for a long while. He lets his roots of South Central be heard and felt in his music and seen with the visuals in his videos. His lyrics talk about committing crimes, gang affiliation, and probably the most heartfelt lyrics are when he talks about his daughter. He holds nothing back, admitting that he has been associated with a gang called 52 Hoover Gangster Crips since the age of 12. Letting his sins be heard through his music, he calls himself out on everything from his past to his present. In songs such as "Tookie Knows" he says "We might die for this shit nigga, might go down for this shit nigga. Gang banging this crip shit, we might die for this shit nigga." Holding nothing back, he lets it known exactly who he is and what raised him.
Gangs have historically throughout our nation been looked at as a negative thing, and for the majority of what they represent is negative. But lately my eyes have opened to a lot, and I have realized that our country has been built by gangs, including by the government. We have political parties that defend each other against others, we have military that protects our land, and we have police that protects the government and the extremely outdated Constitution and occasionally protects the citizens of this country. So for kids growing up in environments where they are taught to defend their family, goods, and soil; gangs are often one of the only options they see fit. I'm not going to sit here and say that gangs are a good thing, but when people are put into adverse situations, there aren't always a lot of options. For him to be able to use his gang association in his music, to connect to people who are out there doing what he did in the past, I believe is a good thing. There will never be a solution to gangs because the police and government are fighting street gangs with their gangs so it will continue to go back and forth. But if there is a way for people like ScHoolboy Q to use their platform to show the struggles they've gone through to prove that being yourself is always important, then maybe one day more gangs will come together as one. But until then, the music will keep playing, and the people of the "United" States of America will keep judging people like ScHoolboy Q and where they've come from.
"Lets put out brains away from gangs. Crips and Bloods the old and new slaves. . . But I'm gonna freedom write, Lets put the flags down and raise our kids, Lets put the guns down and blaze a spliff. . . Real shit, All Lives Matter, both sides."
- Black Thoughts
If you don't like hearing about gang violence, drug dealing, and overcoming adversity then this probably isn't for you. But if you like an underdog story, then lend Q an ear.
Back again with #MusicMondays but this time I got something new for y'all. A young hip-hop artist from Maryland who's motto is "Peace, Love & Positivity" just dropped a new mixtape for the summer. I've been listening to this dude for about a couple years now and his continuous improvement both lyrically and production wise is making him one of the more respected people, not "rapper," in the industry right now. And his motto is all too relevant for where we are at in America right now.
Logic - Bobby Tarantino
Released July 1, 2016
Logic, or Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, was born and raised in Maryland. His father is an African-American and his mother is Caucasian, a representation of the integration of our nation. He grew up in low-income housing, living on food stamps and Section 8, while his parents battled cocaine addiction and alcoholism. His brothers began to sell drugs in the streets of Maryland, and he was expelled from high school at the age of 16, so he wasn't exactly put in an ideal situation to be successful. But he persevered and began a music career in 2009, and has since dropped five mixtapes, and two studio recorded albums through Def Jam. His newest release talks about his success he has had and how he has handled it, and he tells his doubters why he deserves to be where he is, being a bit less humble than his fans are used too.
He begins the mixtape off with a strong message on "Flexicution" letting himself go and accepting the hate that he has been given since his career has taken off over the past couple years. His last album "The Incredible True Story" debuted at #3 and sold 135,000 copies in its first week, so he says "Check the last album, man y'all know I run it . . . Check the Forbes list, you know I'm ballin now." He follows this up with "The Jam" which talks about how he still doesn't let the fame effect him, and he is just going to continue to use platform to the best of his ability, he's states "Still me and my homies screaming Fuck The Fame . . . I don't do it for the money though, shoutout to Kid Cudi though, thats the homie you already know." When you shoutout Cudi on a track, I will automatically respect you as a person. Another great track is "Slave" where he talks about what drives him to keep pushing forward, and why he does what he does. This is definitely my favorite song lyrically from the mixtape, with lines such as "Tell me what you know about 40 days and 40 nights with no lights. Did it all for this. Tell me what you know about sleeping outside, No ride in the winter time. Did it all for this." Truly a message to people who came from absolutely nothing to become something, anything they dream of.
I recently saw him in concert, and it made me respect him as a true artist and a person who wants to use their platform for the good of the people and the hip-hop community. He doesn't rap about killing people and he doesn't rap about how many women he has, so if thats what you want from a rapper then he's not for you, and thats cool. I don't expect everyone to like his music, but I do want people to know that this guy truly made it from nothing. Living in the streets, just trying to figure out life and he found a way out with music. And if you can get anything from this guy, even if its not music, it would be: Don't give up on your dreams, people will hate on you without even knowing you and Logic is a real representation of that.
Here's an awesome video of Logic freestyling while also solving a Rubik's Cube. Shoutout to my cousin CJ.
In yet another crazy NBA twist of fate, Dwyane Wade has found himself a new basketball home in his home state. Wade has left the Miami Heat for the Chicago Bulls on a two-year $47 million deal. The Miami Heat tried to reach a compromise with Wade for less money, like they have done many times in the past, and it didn't work out in their favor this time. Wade has never been the highest paid player on his team in any season he has played since he was drafted by the Miami Heat. He has always put his ego to the side in order to help his team spend money elsewhere in order to build championship caliber teams, but Wade was ready to get paid and the Heat had other plans. They gave Hassan Whiteside a huge payday which made him the highest paid player on the team, and when Wade asked for more money they simply didn't have the funds to do it. Wade got paid, while being able to achieve a childhood dream; playing for the Chicago Bulls.
He was born and raised in Chicago, which is notoriously known for its gang violence and drugs. He has stated that growing up in Chicago was very difficult and that he had seen dead bodies in trash cans multiple times. So I can only imagine that having to play basketball was not as difficult as just trying to get by in the streets he grew up in. The day he announced he was signing with Chicago, he was on the Kelly Ripa show and he said "I always envisioned myself, being in the backyard with my Bulls jersey on, I always envisioned 'Dwyane Wade' name called in the United Center." So for him to be in a position in life where he can turn down a $40 million contract for a $47 million contract to go to his favorite childhood team is truly unbelievable.
Not only is this decision a good one for him financially, but it also is a great chance for him to make a title run once again in the next two years. The Bulls have drafted extremely well in the last few years, adding Denzel Valentine, Doug McDermott, and All-Star/All-Defensive Jimmy Butler. They traded away Derrick Rose and let Joakim Noah and Mike Dunleavy to walk, which freed up space to add three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade and NBA champion Rajon Rondo. The Bulls have done a fantastic job by adding two veterans with tons of winning experience to be leaders to these young guys. This will give the Bulls a mix of youth and winning experience that will be unmatched against most teams they face. So hopefully we will see the Bulls in the playoffs once again, and maybe we'll finally get that Lebron vs. Wade playoff series we've been dying to see. Maybe Wade will finish his career in Miami, and have his jersey hung up in the rafters, but until then lets just enjoy the Way of Wade ball out in another black & red uniform.
Our country is in a scary place right now. Last night in Dallas, fellow Americans were holding a peaceful protest in reaction to the continued use of excessive force by the police on our African-American brothers and sisters. Two deaths of two Black men in two days at the hands of the police is absolutely unacceptable. This is nothing new, it has been happening since integration happened in our country, and people have sat idly by as Black citizens of America have continued to be mistreated. Yes, many different races have been mistreated, but the mistreatment of Black citizens is an issue that must be brought to the light until there is a solution. But sadly, this protest ended in horror with 12 police officers being shot and 5 being killed. CNN reported the killer (or one of the killers) to be US Army Reserve, Micah Johnson who died last night as well. So far there is no evidence of him being linked to any political, religious, or social group but the mainstream media may try to convince you otherwise.
What happened last night in Dallas is a tragedy, as innocent police officers died for the sins of bad police officers and in no way am I saying that violence is the answer. But what I will say is that people can only be pushed so far until it reaches a point where they begin to push back. Blacks in America have been mistreated since the beginning our of country's history, and it has not changed even to this day. I will never know what it is like to be Black in America, which is truly sad because it shouldn't be any different than being any other race in America, but yet it is. I don't want so continue to be a part of the problem and just sit idly by as our fellow Americans are being treated unfairly because of the color of their skin.
I don't have a solution, and I'm not sure if there even is a solution out there yet. But I do know that I want to help spread awareness about what is going on in our country, and I want to be able to say I helped search for the solution and didn't just wait my whole life for it. This country was built on immigration, which may not have been the greatest idea to begin with but we are here now, and we need to find a way to make a country where all races feel safe. Everyone who continues to act like there isn't a race problem in our country will continue to be a part of the problem. I never agreed with the use of violence, but it is all around us. We have brothers and sisters dying at the hands of violence by each other and by the law. We can't continue to let violence to be used for hate, but we can allow violence to be a part of the solution that leads to peace on Earth. Thousands of years ago, when humans were faced with times when they may have thought they were going to have their land or lives taken away, they were reduced to fighting for their lives. We may have to fight for the freedom of our brothers and sisters, whether that be with peace or violence is yet to be known.
Just think about this for a second, the man who killed those police was a trained killer who has been killing innocent people in other countries for our freedom for years. He probably saw no other solution to the problem than to kill for freedom once again, just on our soil. This man made the wrong choice, but when the military begins to go at the police, that means there is a bigger problem than even we know about! This is a sad day for all of America, but please keep everything in perspective.
The best sport in the world just got better. Heading into Monday, we knew that a team who just blew a 3-1 lead to end their season was going to end up with Kevin Durant, we just had to wait and see if it was the Warriors or the Thunder. In a letter written on The Player's Tribune, Kevin Durant announced his decision to team up with the Splash Brothers in the Bay Area. He's receiving some heat for not choosing to stay with his team and his loyalty and pride are being questioned. I'm here to tell you why his decision was a smart one and how this move is GREAT for the NBA and all other teams.
Big time free agents jumping ship and heading to a team that they believe puts themselves in the best position to win a championship is nothing new. It kinda really started when Jerry West convinced Shaq to join forces with Kobe and Phil Jackson to begin their reign in the early 2000's. Then when Danny Ainge got two huge free agents in the same summer to join the Celtics as Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett joined Paul Pierce, Doc Rivers, and the future star in Rajon Rondo. Then the Lakers again when they got Pau, Odom, and Artest to join Kobe. Then Pat Riley worked his mob-style magic when he got Lebron to leave his home state of Ohio to join Wade and Bosh in a move that looked like it was leading to a dynasty, especially when they later added Ray Allen. So like I said, this is nothing new. The Warriors built this team through the draft and trades in order to get themselves in this position. Curry, Klay, and Draymond were all guys that everybody passed on except for the Warriors. They fired coach Mark Jackson and got Steve Kerr, and all of this with Jerry West being the GM, doing it the way he did in Los Angeles. It just so happened to be that Kevin Durant was the guy that was available when they finally got a crack at the top free agents.
So put yourself in Durants position for a second. This guy has done nothing but do his best to try to deliver a championship to the team he's been with since he was drafted. He's gotten close, but failed to reach his goal. Now the best team in the world comes calling, telling him that they have seen his body of work, they know he is one of the best players in the NBA if not the best player in the NBA without a ring, and how badly they want him on their team. They are willing to give him $27 million a year AND can offer him the best chance to win the title. I highly doubt any of you are going to not take that deal. I hear things about loyalty and pride, and thats all well and good. But I know a lot of people who talk on the internet probably need to look in the mirror before they judge someone else's loyalty and pride. And for $27 million and a pretty good chance at being a part of something historic, I can almost guarantee a lot of people are throwing loyalty out the window. So to the people who are judging his actions, I think that might say a little bit more about them then it does about him. Lets say he did stay, and he never wins a ring, then what do people think of him? The best player ever without a ring? Maybe people would've said "He should've taken that Warriors deal when he had the chance"? But in making this move, it seems as if he doesn't really care what the people are going to say. The dude wants to win a ring, and he made that pretty clear by joining the best team in the world. He worked to get to the point where he was in control of where he ended up, and he chose the best possible destination, and I don't really see how that is something to look down upon.
Now people are asking me how I can possibly think this is good for the NBA. Well for one, it builds the brand. People are talking about basketball and we're still 3-4 months from the regular season even starting. Guarantee if you walk up to a random person and ask them how they feel about Kevin Durant, I'm sure you're going to hear an opinion, because everybody is talking about it. But even bigger than this is how it is a message to every other team out there. The Warriors sat idly by as the Celtics, Lakers, and Heat had their title runs. Building through the draft, making trades, signing great coaching staffs, and continuing to improve within their own organization. Now they're coming off the greatest regular season ever in NBA history and when free agency comes along, they get Kevin freaking Durant, the best available player out there. Why? Because they made themselves a destination. They aren't a historic organization like the Lakers, Knicks, or Celtics. They have one title in 50 years, yet they made themselves a go-to spot for guys like Andre Igoudala and Kevin Durant. While the Warriors are having their shine, other teams need to take notes about what the Warriors did to get themselves in this position. Build through the draft, get great coaching, find steals in trades, whatever you have to do to get ten steps ahead of the next team the way the Warriors did. This move is good for the NBA because its a message to the other teams to step their shit up. Quit complaining that stars are joining up and creating super-teams and create a super-team of your own. And if your team doesn't win a title, boo-hoo. Although, I will say that all of this is Lebron's fault. If he wasn't so good then players probably wouldn't have to join forces just to beat him. When life gives you an opportunity, take it. Sometimes having pride is a bunch of bullshit that leaves you with nothing anyways.
On the flip side, I can't wait to see what Russel Westbrook has in store for the Warriors when they play each other.
Just a man trying to make the most of his time on this planet.