What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

New De La Soul documentary

from ‘Mass Appeal’ chronicles the group’s long journey

5:18 PM

When it comes to lessons on how to stay not only relevant, but successful, there’s no better example in hip-hop than De La Soul. When the three kids from Amityville, Long Island, New York, burst on the scene back in the late 1980s, they were a completely different look and sound from what most of the game was doing in that era. Lazily categorized as rap hippies, their career has spanned four decades.

Personally, Buhloone Mindstate is my favorite album of theirs, but Stakes Is High probably ranks as the best. Anyway, their journey has been legendary, and with the help of Mass Appeal they now have a documentary to show for it. The half-hour film has a lot of great moments for older heads who remember how the group’s identities were always being tested. There’s a great appearance from then music A&R Dante Ross and, of course, the group itself, along with Prince Paul, is a big part of the film.

Perhaps the most interesting footage is of both Paul and Maceo making beats. Those clips have the feel of Rhythm Roulette, the feature that the site does featuring random producers plying their trade after a trip to the record store. Anyway, it’s worth noting that when De La Soul tried to crowdfund a record, the group asked for $110,000. Their fans chimed in with more than $600,000.

Indeed, De La Soul is not dead.

Daily Dose: 9/16/16

Step right up, get your iPhones

3:00 PMI went to the National Museum of African American History and Culture this week. It was a transformational experience, to say the least. I wrote about it.

Guess what, folks? President Barack Obama was born in the United States! Who knew? For years, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump wasn’t one of those people. The man who rose to prominence politically when he publicly demanded that Obama release his birth certificate is suddenly acting like Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is the one who created this issue. This is truly remarkable in its audacity, if we’re being honest. My man is literally just lying to people’s faces then telling you he’s not. ABC News has the story.

People are still lining up for phones. We’ll know that society has advanced as a populous when this is no longer a thing, but until then, we’ll keep talking about it. The culture of the people who do this is fascinating to me. Who are these people who have the disposable income and, more importantly, the time to just sit around outside on a lawn chair waiting for a piece of technology to be released? Anyway, Apple has released the iPhone 7, which is the first version to not have a headphone jack, if you care about that. ABC News reports.

Since the Emmys are around the corner, let’s talk some more TV. A lot of people are on television for a long time, sometimes playing different, but mainly similar roles. There are actors who excel on multiple programs, but others who have only been solid in one role. For example, Kadeem Hardison will always be Dwayne Wayne from A Different World. How that dynamic of intertextuality plays into who gets what awards is a fascinating discussion. FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey breaks down stars who were basically great in one role.

Megan Rapinoe is a real one. She took her protest game to the next level, after Washington Spirit owner Bill Lynch threw shade during a National Women’s Soccer League game. She knelt during the national anthem before a game she was playing with the U.S. women’s national team in Columbus, Ohio. Worth noting that in that city, a 13-year-old was killed by police just this week. Anyway, it’s a completely different thing to do this when you’re actually wearing the flag on your jersey, so good for her. ESPN’s Graham Hays reports.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If nothing else, rapper Bobby Shmurda is a good friend. The Brooklynite, who’s been wrapped up in legal battles for what seems like forever, managed to get less jail time for his friend Rowdy Rebel. How’d he do it? By taking a longer sentence himself. That’s loyalty.

Snack Time: You know you’ve got a pretty disgusting mass transit system if you have to try to design a paint that actually repels urine. Alas, that’s exactly what they’re doing in Philadelphia, if you’re visiting anytime soon.

Dessert: So, they’re making real life Transformers now. Very cool.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is beyond real

and it might be too much for some people to handle

4:00 PMAfter visiting America’s black history museum Wednesday, I have one major concern. It’s not with the content. That’s incredible. It’s not with the building. It’s majestic. It’s with the application of the reality. The exhibit starts on a subterranean level that takes you back not just to slavery as a loose and overarchingly complex and terrible moment in time, but to a very specific creation of America from a historical standpoint. Many people just plainly might not be able to deal.

It explains how race was an important factor in solidifying the social order that would make such a thing as slavery possible. It points out that slavery among Africans as a system, not dissimilar to systems of servitude that also ruled Europe, was brutal but somehow sustainable. There are multitudes of graphics pointing out very specifically which European nations did what, and how they profited. What’s made clear in no uncertain terms is exactly how white settlers and landowners profited from free labor, and not just in an ethereal “oh, this was horrible” kind of way.

There is a portion that points out why, for many plantation owners, it was literally more profitable to work African slaves to death, rather than keep them alive. Even for someone who’s seen slave-dealing ports in Africa and the Deep South, there is a very jarring historical reality to having it all laid bare in such a clear manner. It wouldn’t surprise me to see people getting into arguments at the museum over the content. And if a white guy named Davenport and a black guy named Davenport are doing it, that’s an awkward reality to confront right there in the exhibit.

Just think of a room full of people doing their best “well, actually” lines in a Smithsonian museum because they can’t deal with the basic reality of their own roots. The tour guides are going to have the hardest jobs in the world. That’s the problem with supremacy and privilege. When it’s challenged or questioned, you begin to believe that you are, in fact, the one dealing with oppression because it’s a dramatic paradigm shift from your world.

So to walk by column after column detailing the hundreds of thousands of people who were brought to each state for a specific reason, there’s no way that the “oh, my grandma’s racist, but she’s not deplorable because she baked me cookies” argument even begins to fly. Reading the numbers of exactly how much wealth was obtained via black backs on a Smithsonian wall is beyond moving. The fact is it’s not about Ku Klux Klan gear-waving white folks or sellout black folks, it’s basically greed that fueled the largest human trafficking operation in history. Reconciling that is not an easy thing to do.

I’m not a historian, but I’ve learned a few things, to borrow and bastardize a relatively famous lyric. There are artifacts and trinkets that will widen the eyes of history geeks. But there are plenty of people who will be moved by the basic amount of information available about this country’s and perhaps more specifically the globe’s original sin. You don’t have to walk up to every placard and read the fine print to get a VAST education on how slavery created the very concept of industry.

Before this, the National Maritime Museum in Amsterdam was the best museum-level application of telling the story of slavery I’d ever seen. The NMAAHC outdoes it by a wide margin. Upstairs, there are tons of more fun, enriching and celebratory installations and things to make you smile through the struggle. But that bottom floor is as hardcore as it gets.

If Dabo Swinney and Clemson win the national championship and come to Washington, D.C., to be honored by the president, I hope he and his team make a trip to see it.

Daily Dose: 9/15/16

America’s black history museum is ready for its close-up

2:01 PMIf you’ve ever been in a spelling bee, you know it’s stressful. For whatever reason, I’ve signed up to do another one next week at the National Press Club. Maybe I’ll win this time.

Another day, another black kid gets killed by police in Ohio. This time it was in Columbus, Ohio, where a kid was carrying a BB gun that apparently is a replica of a police weapon. He’s alleged to have been involved in an armed robbery, which means that if you’re black, you deserve to die, apparently. Unsurprisingly, the mayor of the city came out and said we of course need to have “patience.” Funny how in this scenario the authorities never seem to say that we need to find, say, “justice” or “peace.” ABC News reports on Tyree King’s death.

The Emmys are coming up on Sunday. You can prepare yourself for a night full of white people walking on stage to accept their trophies. Oh, wait, what’s that? The voting mechanism was changed up, and there’s now a lot more shows with people of color involved? Yippee. I guess that means we’re really not sure who’s going to win anything. Meanwhile, we’ve got newspapers asking us if “diverse TV” is here to stay. Anyway, FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey breaks down the strongest Emmy categories of all time.

I went to the National Museum of African American History and Culture on Wednesday. The place is incredible. It’s got just about everything you could want and, if we’re being honest, is probably the best pound-for-pound museum that the Smithsonian has. The food was solid, too. It officially opens up next week and I imagined that it’ll basically be jam-packed for the better part of an entire calendar year. Which means, if you want tickets, you better sign up now. ABC News took a look inside of the facility.

My thoughts on Harambe jokes are well-known. They are basically all funny to me. College GameDay is awash in signs commemorating the slain gorilla and the meme has people making up fake stories about Chinese zoos and colleges handing out stuffed animals to remember the former Cincinnati Zoo resident. Harambe is the meme of 2016. So, of course, people want to get jerseys with his name on it. For whatever reason, someone thought this would be a good thing to ban. ESPN reports that said ban has now been reversed.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If you’re wondering why NFL teams spend so much energy showing love to the troops, now we know why. It’s not because of their love of the military, or the flag, or the national anthem. It’s because the Department of Defense paid them. With tax dollars. Think of this the next time you worry about what San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick does.

Snack Time: The family of Sandra Bland has settled for $1.9 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. She died in a Texas jail cell after she was pulled over for failing to use a turn signal. The video of her arrest is heartbreaking.

Dessert: There’s new music from Play Action and Hit Boy. Dope track.

Daily Dose: 9/14/16

Infamous Cleveland gazebo will be moved

12:00 PMGot another podcast done. This time, Domonique Foxworth joined the squad. We talked about fall television, the Basketball Hall of Fame and national anthem protests. Give it a listen here. Also, I was on SportsCenter on Tuesday night. Check it out.

It’s been nearly two years since Tamir Rice was killed by police in Cleveland. As one of the first cases that got the entire country talking because of his age, where it happened is now a famous place. When a 12-year-old dies in a park from law enforcement gunfire and it’s on videotape, people aren’t going to forget that location. Now, the gazebo that you see in that iconic video is headed to a museum. Of course, since the incident, it’s become a memorial of sorts. ABC News reports.

The health of the two leading presidential candidates is important. If someone is potentially not going to be able to do the job, it certainly affects their electability. Both sides have been rather awkward about this. Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s episode with pneumonia has created a bit of a nightmare for her campaign and Republican nominee Donald Trump keeps using really bizarre words like “astonishing” to describe his own medical situation. He is 70 years old and she is 68. FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone and Christie Aschwanden wonder: Can a candidate be too old to run for president?

Young Thug is a rather polarizing figure. The Atlanta rapper has been wearing what we typically consider to be women’s clothing for some time now, which has incensed the typically hyperidiotic world of old-school hip-hop heads. People seem to think that masculinity is only defined by bravado and anti-gay prejudice, so when he showed up on the cover of his new album in a dress, a lot of people weren’t sure how to handle it. VICE‘s Jon Shadel tries to answer the question: Why do people think men who wear women’s clothing are gay?

Dabo Swinney needs to get out of the paint. The Clemson football coach seems to think that people who think this country can improve need to leave because it’s not as bad as it once was. He actually said this, and it’s wild. And he did it while invoking the name of Martin Luther King Jr., which is always ill-advised. (Reminder: They killed him, too.) Meanwhile, over on the West Coast, Washington State football coach Mike Leach seems to believe that the police are unfairly targeting his players. ESPN’s Kevin Gemmell reports.

Free Food

Coffee Break: You all know I love vinyl. And whenever I go to a new place, I try to find local shops as a way to gauge the musical flavor of the place. One such place where that’s fun to do is Los Angeles, where we now have very sad news. Amoeba Music, the legendary store, appears to be headed for demise in a couple of years, max.

Snack Time: If you want to get an idea of what’s wrong with policing policies in this country, this story about an officer being fired after not killing a suicidal man is a pretty good indicator.

Dessert: Donald Glover and Reggie Watts jamming out on television? Yes, please.