President Barack Obama makes NBA, NFL picks
and throws in some discussion about the rap game, too
We all know how much President Barack Obama loves sports. In many ways, it’s probably his most appreciated asset, if you will, among regular Americans who don’t particularly obsess over, say, politics or race. He doesn’t have any moments like former President George W. Bush trying and failing to dribble a basketball (although Obama did throw up a bunch of bricks once while shooting with kids at the White House) and he’s made picking his NCAA basketball tournament bracket a thing every year he’s been in office.
Someone even wrote a book (The Audacity of Hoop) about how his relationship with basketball, which he played in high school, shaped his entire approach to building his cabinet and establishing relationships from the Oval Office in more ways than just love for the game.
Anyway, on Friday, he decided to make some more predictions, and let’s just say that in his last few months in office, he’s not exactly making any daring picks. On SiriusXM’s Sway In The Morning show, the 44th president picked the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA Finals and the New England Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Mind you, he won’t be seeing either of these teams at the White House should this happen — he’ll be gone by then.
But seriously, Obama? The Dubs and the Pats? Those are the most lamesauce vanilla picks out there, fam. That’s what someone who’s never heard of any team in either league does. Perhaps more importantly, though, was his discussion on hip-hop. The president showed a decent command for the rap game, and even had jokes.
“I think the young guys, Kendrick [Lamar] and Chance [The Rapper] are doing amazing work,” he said. “I love Drake and the girls love Drake, so he’s commercially just doing great and unbelievably talented. And you know, Jay-Z’s still the king. He’s got a track record, same with Kanye [West]. So, you know, there’s a lot of talent out there, but what I look at is, who’s breaking new ground? Kendrick and Chance, those guys are doing just amazing work, and they’re wonderful young men.”
Better picks in music than in sports, but hey, on all fronts, that’s about as good as you’re ever going to get from a sitting president.
R.I.P. Vine, the great
It changed more than social media — it changed storytelling
6:00 PMWhen we’re all sitting in rocking chairs and communicating with our grandchildren however we will in those days, we’ll probably recount how we first rebelled against Facebook, how the world opened up via Twitter and how SnapChat made us all want to act goofy with filters. But the true nature of Vine’s game-changing status in storytelling history will likely be forgotten in due time.
On Thursday, Twitter announced that it would be doing away with the looping video service, an announcement that instantly had everyone in their feelings about their favorites from over the years. Vine, quite frankly, has been the best social media platform of its time, from an efficiency standpoint. Started in 2012, Twitter bought it before it even launched. Within months, it was all the rage with the kids, so to speak. But its popularity wasn’t falsely gained.
As a medium, it was genuinely brilliant. At first maligned as too quixotic, too short and just too pointless to actually be effective, it turned out to be revolutionary. A video as long as 15 seconds via Instagram suddenly felt like a movie if you couldn’t find a way to make it work. The very nature of the concept of editing was suddenly and completely in play for a medium that was typically reserved for on-the-spot documentations of random events. Vines were full-fledged stories in six seconds. Often so complex that you had to watch them again to grasp their true meaning.
They were funny. They were creative. Often, they featured people of color. King Bach flipped his Vine fame into an actual acting career. People like Sara Hopkins had to leave their *actual* broadcast careers because the social media game just made more sense.
In the sports realm, it forced the hand of every major professional franchise and, to an extent, television networks, in the context of rights footage. Taking a Vine of a highlight made it much easier than turning on the tube to wait for something, or watching an ad before seeing a play the instant it happened if you weren’t already there.
It was a noun, a verb, an adjective and a platform. It held Q-Tip and Kleenex status. After a while, I called every single video I saw on the internet that was short a Vine. It was just easier, and nine times out of 10, it was true. As someone who is certainly not a business person in the venture capital and tech industry world, there’s no way for me to say if shutting it down is a smart move.
But as a storyteller, I’m glad I was there when it was around. Attention spans might have gotten shorter, but the ability to convey a message only got stronger.
Oddisee opens up to Brownbook
The Sudanese-American rapper breaks down his purpose in the game
It starts with a traditional Sudanese greeting, an exchange that while it doesn’t necessarily surprise his interviewer certainly appears to be new. That’s how Oddisee, née Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, introduces her to his world, one which is closely connected to his home country of Sudan.
“No one pursues music, professionally,” the former Diamond District rapper starts off. “We are children of the diaspora. There’s no security in anything other than the typical jobs of doctor, lawyer, engineer, pharmaceutical, you know? These are what Sudanese people do. They don’t music. You do that as a hobby. All of my cousins who are doctors all play an instrument. They all love music. They all record themselves at home. But they went to school and they got ‘real jobs,’ you know? I’m the black sheep of the family who did it professionally.”
The rest of the interview is a fascinating look into what is blackness, in the context of the intersection of African and American lives, a topic that throughout his career, Oddisee has tackled with aplomb. His latest lyrical album Alwasta, released in March, “takes its title from the Arabic colloquial term to mean ‘the plug.’ The term ‘wasta’ comes from the Arabic word ‘wasat,’ meaning ‘middle’ or ‘middleman,’ and describes a member of the community who acts as a connector using his or her wealth of social currency,” according to his label.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to spin his latest, The Odd Tape, give it a crack. It’s a perfect instrumental addition to a busy day, from a guy who not only takes his music seriously, but also is in it for the creation of art at its base level.
The entire interview with Brownbook magazine is a fascinating look into the process of one of the most laid-back and fascinating cats in the entirety of the game.
Daily Dose: 10/27/16
The first lady will join Hillary Clinton on the campaign trail in North Carolina
We’ve got to believe that, at this point, Donald Trump is just trying to save the brand. While his own advisers are admitting that they’re behind in the presidential race, he’s on television, with his family by his side, no less, claiming that he thinks he’s going to win. On Wednesday, instead of being on the campaign trail less than two weeks away from Election Day, he’s cutting ribbons in Washington, D.C. Let’s not forget, if he loses, he’s still got businesses to upkeep. If he’s killed his reputation on that front, yikes. The Trumps sat down with Good Morning America.
In North Carolina, the history of the battle for voting rights is long, lengthy and complicated. As a state in general, its past is one that speaks almost singularly to what has been the American experience since inception and such has been the case recently, too. Now that we’re in the home stretch before people hit the voting booths, however, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is breaking out the heavy hitters. On Thursday, she’ll be joined by first lady Michelle Obama in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Expect a banger of a speech from the first lady.
For girls, there are obstacles to learning at every path. Not ones inherent to them, but ones created by educational systems because of patriarchy that block their lanes to success by steering them in directions that don’t have as much potential as those for boys. This rings particularly true in math, where, according to a new study, teachers are still consistently rating girls as less able in the classroom, when it comes to perception. FiveThirtyEight’s Carl Bialik breaks down exactly how this conclusion is come to by the offenders.
If you don’t know Sevyn Streeter, you might want to familiarize yourself. She’s been around the girl pop circuit for some time and has also been a thorough songwriter for many artists who you might probably consider to be more famous. Anyway, she was slated to sing the national anthem Wednesday night in Philadelphia for the 76ers’ season opener. Then, right before she was scheduled to perform, the organization told her she couldn’t wear a jersey that said, “We Matter,” on the court. She called the team out on it. The Sixers then had a cheerleader do it, instead. ESPN reports.
Coffee Break: The concept of black male sexuality is one that I don’t think America will ever be able to truly handle in my lifetime, but as time passes, things have improved? Maybe. Either way, you need to read this essay on exactly how when it comes to a very specific organ attached to us, well, pop culture still can’t deal.
Snack Time: There’s a rapper out there named Ralofamgoon, which is just … yeah. Anyway, instead of going to strip clubs and throwing money, he’s started doing this at homeless shelters. There’s a lot to unpack with that decision.
Dessert: This new video from The Avalanches will melt your heart on a brisk day.
Daily Dose: 10/26/16
A wild night in Cleveland ends well for Ohio
11:36 AMSo, we’re building a new podcast studio of sorts here at The Undefeated, so prepare yourself for a lot more in that space and a far larger variety of personalities. Should be fun, kiddos.
There are certain parts of the GOP that are melting down right before our very eyes. On Tuesday night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich appeared on Fox News host Megyn Kelly’s show and completely went off the hinges. He claimed she was “fascinated with sex” (which, in itself, should not be a problem either way, yet we digress) and accused her of a liberal bias. Let’s not even get into Gingrich’s personal history when it comes to matters of the bedroom. Anyway, the exchange is must-see footage and Kelly’s walkoff line is genuinely incredible.
By the way, if you plan on snapping a selfie after you vote, be careful. We get it. There was a time when the concept of wearing an “I Voted” sticker was enough, but those days are over. It’s 2016 and if you haven’t blessed “The Gram” with your ballot choices, then you obviously aren’t about that political life. In all seriousness, the problem with said move is that in some places it’s not allowed, but it varies from place to place. Justin Timberlake did it and set off a bit of a controversy. Here’s a breakdown on where you can and cannot snap yourself voting.
The World Series started Tuesday night and the Tribe is off to a hot start. The Cubs, relatively heavy favorites, looked absolutely stunned yet because of pitching matchups are certainly not out of it. But the whole journey with getting there is a different one for Cubs fans. Many almost exclusively self-identify as lovable losers to the point that maybe the notion of that changing is too much to handle. Which, to be honest, is why they can be so annoying anyway, but whatever. FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder contemplates whether he really even wants them to win.
The NBA season tipped off Tuesday night and the jokes were flying on Twitter. The Cleveland Cavaliers had their not-so-little ring ceremony and then absolutely dismantled Derrick Rose and the New York Knicks. The Golden State Warriors also got completely blown out by the San Antonio Spurs, a result that had quite a few people laughing at the team so stacked that even in a video game you might call shenanigans on playing with them. Most of the rest of the league gets started Wednesday night, and here’s ESPN’s Zach Lowe’s breakdown of six intriguing players to watch.
Coffee Break: We all know how much Questlove is obsessed with music. So, when The Roots get an opportunity to play with bands or artists he really likes, it’s definitely a treat. It was Phil Collins on Tuesday night, when Questo had to tackle one of the most iconic drum fills in music history. Let’s just say he was really pumped. Here’s the full show.
Snack Time: I told y’all a while back that P.K. Subban heading to the Nashville Predators was going to be a great thing for his personal brand. Update: I was exactly right, and Tennessee loves this dude.
Dessert: This is a story about black parenthood that is definitely worth your time.
Daily Dose: 10/25/16
It’s time to get used to The Association, again
We’re officially down to two weeks in this presidential race. Which means that it likely will only get worse from here. Donald Trump’s camp is scrambling as it becomes increasingly evident on multiple fronts what the GOP presidential candidate is about. On the other end is the email leak that’s exposed Hillary Clinton’s tactics, particularly when it comes to dealing with her opponents. In this case, we find out that she was fully prepared to go “swift boat” on The Donald, literally, ABC News reports. So much for “when they go low, we go high,” I guess.
For the man who’s still in the White House, his farewell tour has been great. South by South Lawn, that tremendous party Friday that had President Barack Obama dancing to Drake, and who knows what’s in store if Clinton actually wins this election. But few things are funnier than watching the president make fun of himself. That he did Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, taking part in the “Mean Tweets” segment for the second time. Most of the jokes are funny, but the kicker is sublime. Check it out.
D.R.A.M. has always been cool to me. Why? Because he makes music about being happy, which in turn makes me happy. But his origin story is a fun one, too. Let’s just say, that basically, he had no intention of being anything other than an artist and now that he’s gotten his chance, he’s not going to be a jerk about it. He’s held all sorts of odd jobs, and even at this point as just a two-hit wonder is now working with Rick Rubin. Last year, he was sleeping on his cousin’s couch. Check out VICE‘s “Autobiographies” series on the Virginia native.
This NBA season is going to be incredible. There are so many great storylines. LeBron James and the Cavs trying to repeat. The Eastern Conference actually looking decent. The Warriors picking up Kevin Durant — a situation that adds a whole other element by signaling the breakout year for Russell Westbrook in so many ways. This doesn’t even get into social justice. I thoroughly think this will be the best year the league has seen in the better part of a decade. Here’s a preview.
Coffee Break: Charles Barkley has a new show coming out soon, all about race, and if nothing else, it promises to be provocative at the very least. Who knows what the program will actually entail, but he’ll be talking about race. Here’s the trailer.
Snack Time: Drake said something very foul about Kid Cudi on a song he released this week, making fun of his mental condition, which ultimately is not why any of us are in this game. Rap battles aren’t what they used to be.
Dessert: I didn’t know I liked animated shorts about NBA teams, until I saw this one.
Daily Dose: 10/24/16
Kanye West might boycott the Grammy Awards
2:45 PMWhat’s up, gang? Hope everyone had a good weekend. We’re in full fall mode finally here on the East Coast, which is all right by me.
With all the craziness that has been the presidential race, it’s easy to forget about the down-ballot races. If we’re being honest, in terms of what genuinely affects your life, the votes you cast for the people who aren’t going to be in the White House anytime soon are probably more important than the top of the ticket. Which ultimately is the real issue for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Neither of them is particularly popular outside of themselves, so how they’re handling the battle for Congress is certainly worth looking at, too.
As a child, I spent countless hours playing Super Mario Brothers. My cousin Marc was better than me at the game, but I was determined to see all the levels (boards) and all the characters, so I didn’t like warping to get ahead in the game. Of course now, there is an entire world of people who play 8-bit games simply to race through each level as fast as possible. So, when I first watched this video of a guy beating the game in less than five minutes, I wasn’t sure what to think. FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder breaks down what this world is all about.
Kanye West is having a rough couple of weeks. First, he decided to yell about Jay Z while onstage at a concert, airing his family business to the entire world, which was not only awkward, but also rather sad. In addition, with the Grammys coming up, he’s now saying that if Frank Ocean isn’t nominated for anything, then he won’t be attending the event. Ocean missed the deadline to submit, so has yet to be named eligible for a nod. ABC News has the details on Yeezy’s latest cause.
Last weekend produced one of the worst NFL Sundays in a long time. There was an early game from London that was terrible, the 1 p.m. games were a mess and we ended with possibly the most awful game in the history of Sunday Night Football, a touchdown-free affair that ended in a tie. Both the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals missed field goals that could have won the game, which is just embarrassing on multiple levels. That aside, ESPN’s Ian O’Connor thinks that if there was any winner, it was the Seahawks’ Richard Sherman.
Coffee Break: If you didn’t know, it was very lit at the White House this weekend. It was the final musical event for the first family, and though you technically weren’t supposed to have phones in the building, it appears that Usher managed to get his in, no problem. So, now you can watch the president dance to Drake’s Hotline Bling.
Snack Time: If you’re wondering where the Trump campaign is these days, people are yelling things at rallies that are quite literally taking us back to the days of the Nazis.
Dessert: Saturday Night Live continues to kill it this election season.