Jay-Z supports Big Baller Brand
and says he bought three pairs of the sneakers
5:31 PM“I f— with the vision, fam. Let’s build.”
You know the meme, you know the sentiment and you know you’ve heard it once or twice in your life when you didn’t want to. But LaVar Ball — founder of Big Baller Brand and father of Lonzo Ball, the Los Angeles Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA draft — never got that co-sign from anyone. At least, not until last weekend.
Jay-Z, onetime leader of Roc-A-Fella Records who is now a stay-at-home dad, co-signed the CEO from Chino Hills, California, during a wide-ranging interview with Rap Radar’s Elliot Wilson for Tidal. (Disclosure: Wilson is married to Danyel Smith, culture lead here at The Undefeated.)
With the waves of Malibu Beach crashing in the background, Wilson, Brian “B.Dot” Miller and Shawn Carter sat down to discuss 4:44 the album, a seminal work for Jay-Z. He talks at length about what he learned about his creative process, the experience of making the “Footnotes” series in which he discussed various portions of the project with other celebrities, and how he decided to market the release overall. It’s regular-season from Wilson, this time with a bigger star than usual.
Then, the convo turned to Ball.
“LaVar Ball, he said, ‘I’m going to start my own company.’ Everybody’s like, ‘You’re just mad at Nike.’ He may go about things wrong, he may have a big mouth. But I bought three pairs. Why did I buy three pairs? That man has a vision of his own. Why wouldn’t I support him? Why wouldn’t I support him? He feels like he can move culture, and his son got a big enough name, and a big enough brand, that they can do it.”
That’s right, Jay-Z is a fan of Ball’s sneaker company. While he doesn’t exactly represent the youth market that Ball usually operates in, it’s still a big co-sign. Jay-Z might be the uncle at the cookout, but that’s exactly who these shoes are for. Or, big ballers, for lack of a better term, of which Jay-Z certainly is one.
Perhaps more important, though, is the notion of legitimacy that Jay-Z addresses regarding how Ball was initially received in his venture. For whatever reason, a lot of the refrain around BBB’s kicks was related to the basics of whether he could even put together a proper shoe. As if Nike is the first to make sneakers that could stand the test of a basketball game.
It seemed like such a strange critique. Did people really believe that because LaVar was a dude they’d never heard of that he couldn’t be resourceful enough to make shoes? It’s not like you have to be from Wakanda to find the materials to construct sneakers. How do you think Nike is making so much money? It sure as heck isn’t on production costs.
“Nike had to start somewhere,” Jay-Z continued. “Why do we get so upset when we, us as a culture, want to start our own s—? That s— is puzzling to me. I sit back like, and I’m like, ‘This makes no sense.’ ” There are obvious parallels to Stephon Marbury’s situation, when he released his sneakers and was widely mocked, even though they sold well.
But then, whether inadvertently or not, Jay-Z brings up a topic that’s both hilarious and fascinating. “They [aren’t] any more terrible than … I’ve seen some bad sneakers from Under Armour,” he said. “I’ve seen some bad Michael Jordan sneakers. Horrible.”
No. 1, Carter himself has some pretty awful sneakers. They sold well enough but were not a smash hit by any measure, and you certainly don’t see anyone outside of the biggest of fans rocking them these days. But that leads me to the next natural thought: What if this co-sign had come earlier? Or what if he’d even been involved himself?
We’d likely be far less critical of Ball as a businessman than we would have Jay-Z. After all, if you’re already rich, it makes sense to charge high prices for your clothes, right? Even if Ball’s shoes weren’t a hit, to think that his point was made and resonated as far as someone like Jay-Z, who actually went as far as to buy multiple pairs, is important.
It means that he’s caught the eye of his market, and succeeded. Or in other words, LaVar wins.
Daily Dose: 8/18/17
Tina Fey wants to let us all eat cake
Another one bites the dust. Steve Bannon, the man whom many people consider to be at the root of President Donald Trump’s plans for global destruction and domination, is out at the White House, which is not exactly stunning, but most certainly significant. Let’s not forget that he’s one of the founding members of Breitbart, which as far as the right wing is concerned, is a major media outlet. There are rumors that he’ll return to the company, which means he’ll have the platform to basically smear his former boss. Once again, what a mess.
Tina Fey means well. She also happened to go to the University of Virginia, so the situation that unfolded in Charlottesville last weekend is close to her, clearly. But when she went on Saturday Night Live‘s Weekend Update: Summer Edition for a bit about how to cope with the news of the week, her message came from a place of extreme privilege and tone deafness. Most of us cannot legitimately even think about ignoring neo-Nazis and eating sheetcake. This is a truly serious situation. Her message was not exactly well-received. Here’s a thread.
Now that we’re tearing down Confederate statues left and right, we’ve got some plans to make. What are we going to do with all of them? And should we be putting other things in their place? If you listened to Angela Rye last night on Desus & Mero, quoting a friend from NPR, we should put them all in a museum that speaks to their specific crimes and horrific acts so people can learn in real time how awful they were. There’s also a grass-roots movement to design new monuments, and some of them are incredible.
Kevin Durant on Twitter is the best. He was off for a while, but now that’s he’s got his ring and his Finals MVP trophy, my man is outchea breaking people off in a way that you have to love. He’s already spoken his mind regarding whether or not he wants to go to the White House as a team with his NBA champion Golden State Warriors, and he is in full clapback mode at this point. He took a shot at ESPN for that fantasy football auction bit, and now he’s turned his lens to a former ESPN employee. Slim ain’t playing.
Coffee Break: If you’re of mixed race, specifically white and black, I could see how the situation in America right now could be more trying than ever. But those mixes come from somewhere. This story about how Trump ruined one son’s relationship with his white mother is truly fascinating.
Snack Time: Speaking of the president, The New Yorker has a new issue coming out soon, and the cover image is a definite doozy. Wow.
Dessert: Allure magazine is officially invited to the cookout.
Daily Dose: 8/17/17
Terror attack hits Barcelona
3:18 PMThe week is rolling along on The Dan Le Batard Show. On Thursday we had the homey Domonique Foxworth, as well as DeMario Jackson, whom you may know from his time on The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise. Here it is.
Tearing down monuments is not an easy task, both physically and symbolically. Folks don’t seem to understand that erecting statues to white supremacy is damaging on multiple levels, so when you go to remove something they’ve looked at for so long, it’s jarring. And in the case of Takiyah Fatima Thompson, who was charged with injury of a statue among other things, people were not happy. Now, three more people have been charged in the case. And in an incredible show of support, hundreds of residents showed up to turn themselves in for the same crime.
While the U.S. is still reeling from its own terrorist attack, across the globe, apparently there are copycat artists. In Barcelona, someone slammed a car into people in a busy tourist area on Thursday. At least 13 people are dead, in a scene that is remarkably similar to the scenario in which a woman was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. It’s a very trying time in a lot of places, but this feels really bad considering it just happened stateside too.
Apparently, there’s a solar eclipse coming up soon. I know this because people keep trying to sell me random sunglasses so that I can look at it, without blinding myself, or something like that? If I’m being honest, I don’t really see what the big deal is. I guess it’s the first time in a century that the whole country will be able to see this, so we’ll all be standing on the street staring in the sky when our enemies come attack us. In all seriousness, though, don’t get got by someone hawking phony shades.
When it comes to protest, the aggrieved aren’t the only ones who can help. Often it’s those who in fact look like the offenders, but don’t side with them in principle, who can do the most. Why? Because people trust those like themselves most. So when it comes to taking a stand at NFL games, if a white player decides to do something on the field, it will resonate differently than it does coming from others. Michael Bennett thinks that’s how real change will come along. Then again, 49ers GM John Lynch says that protests are divisive. Sigh.
Coffee Break: You know who Martin Shkreli is. Pharma Bro, who somehow found himself getting involved in random hip-hop situations, basically because he could afford it — that guy? Well, he’s being charged with securities fraud. And the transcript of his jury selection is completely incredible. Shouts to the Wu.
Snack Time: It’s amazing how racism in tech industries can affect things. When it comes to programming common machines, if you don’t account for black folks, things like this happen.
Dessert: Easily the best first pitch of all time. Indisputable fact.
Daily Dose: 8/16/17
Another day, another statue downed
3:37 PMOn The Dan Le Batard Show on Wednesday, we tried to have some fun after a very sobering day in America. Pablo Torre joined the show, and we talked about fried chicken, MLS and Filipino baseball players. Take a listen.
The United States is different today. There’s no way to describe the hardened disappointment that nearly everyone in the country feels after President Donald Trump took to a podium to defend neo-Nazis and white supremacists after a speech that was supposed to be about infrastructure. You don’t need to take a political side to be appalled by that. As a result, people all over the place are bailing out of various links to the administration. There are not two sides, unless you’re legitimately going to call yourself a Nazi sympathizer.
Speaking of presidents, Barack Obama remains as popular as ever. While all this other nonsense and violence overtakes parts of our nation, 44 tweeted a picture of him talking to babies in a window. For one, the photograph is adorable on every level. Secondly, the caption is even better. It’s currently got more than 1 million retweets and 3.5 million likes. You gotta know that this drives Trump crazy, even though he should probably be concerned with more important things. Behold the most famous tweet ever.
Baltimore is about that action. Instead of waiting for a situation like the one in Durham, North Carolina, in which protesters toppled a Confederate monument on their own, Baltimore handled it discreetly. Under the cloak of night, the city removed four more. Of course, people started in with jokes about how the situation mirrored that of the Baltimore Colts, famous for leaving town overnight in 1984. Those jokes aren’t funny. Statues that salute white supremacy and football teams ain’t even close to the same thing.
I don’t normally turn to the NFL for progressive thinking. But the way the league has handled the Ezekiel Elliott situation has been rather forward-thinking, if only because of the fact that the basic concept of believing women when it comes to accusations against athletes is not something we normally see. And now that the National Football League Players Association is appealing the Dallas Cowboys running back’s suspension, the league has responded rather forcefully, issuing a statement pointing out that victim-blaming and shaming is not the move, at all. Good for them. Here’s the rebuttal.
Coffee Break: Kicks magazine is doing the Lord’s work. The publication about sneakers recently put out an edition featuring the Top 20 basketball shoes of all time, and I have no idea how they managed to whittle this thing down. But they’ve also got 20 different covers, which is tremendous.
Snack Time: You know what happens when you antagonize people at a rally inspired by hate groups? Well, people don’t like you, because that’s not OK. And that antagonism can come back to haunt you, big time.
Dessert: This is guaranteed to make your day.