OG tastemaker gets a deep dive
7:00 AMIf you read Thrasher, you know who editor Jake Phelps is. If you don’t, he’s basically one of the most hardcore humans on Earth. The mag has been around as long as I’ve been alive, and if you want to take a look back at what the skate world was like through the eyes of a truly pioneering person, check out this long form profile of Phelps from The California Sunday Magazine.
and its people would be proud of this tribute
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There are multiple scenes in Coming to America that could arguably be considered the best. But easily the most extravagant and gloriously black, is the wedding ceremony, in which Prince Akeem is set to meet the woman betrothed to him. Things go sideways quickly, but not before one of the best dance scenes in the history of film. We’re hoping for a similar one in Black Panther, by the way.
But a group of high schoolers in Michigan went next level for prom and recreated the scene from the 1988 classic Eddie Murphy film. The young lady is dressed as Imani Izzi and another as Prince Akeem. Shouts to big man who played the royal body guard. That adds a nice touch.
This is an A+ on every level. No word on whether or not she later carried out the character’s famously ridiculous antics on the dance floor with her classmates.
Obama’s speech on race
The day the Rev. Jeremiah Wright was put in the rearview
2:20 PMThere was a time when it was believed that the Rev. Jeremiah Wright would torpedo then-Sen. Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign.
Now, FiveThirtyEight gives a week in 2008 the June 17th, 1994-style treatment in a podcast called “Inside The Five-Day Stretch When Obama Found His Voice On Race,” delving into what happened when the controversial pastor’s old sermons hit the media and his campaign team was forced to deal with it. In retrospect, some of the questions Obama dealt with felt more like a court deposition than an interview. Obama defended Wright as a churchgoer and the man who married him and Michelle.
He couldn’t disavow Wright entirely, so he did what he knew best. He made a speech, which he wrote himself. Without the usual trappings of politics. He bet on himself to simply nail it. This deep dive featuring many of the characters involved — David Axelrod (Obama’s chief campaign strategist), Jon Favreau (speechwriter), Valerie Jarrett (White House senior adviser) to name a few — is a detailed look into what happened on the ground in those moments.
Presented in chronological order of news coverage, with commentary from various characters close to the story, this project offers analysis and chalk talk of the moment that turned his campaign around. The show continues to discuss Obama’s growth and public progression as a person willing to discuss race as a public figure, and his blackness in itself.
The rest is history.
All Day Podcast
We talked with Annie Apple, which makes it a win
11:20 AMWhen this blog launched, I mentioned there’d be accompanying content. Well, that day is here. After hosting The Undefeated on ESPN Radio special a couple weekends back, senior style writer Jill Hudson, staff writer Justin Tinsley and I are launching a podcast. You can also listen or download here.
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Embed
This week, we talked about Mike Wilbon’s story on analytics, had a chat with Annie Apple, mother of New York Giants first-round draft pick Eli Apple, who is incredible on Twitter. We also discussed Freddie Gray, Bill Cosby and the Bad Boy Reunion Tour.
Daily Dose: 5/27/16
Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian are done for real
9:00 AMHey, guess what? We taped our first podcast Thursday. If you missed us a couple weekends ago on ESPN Radio, all good! Now you can hear Jill Hudson, Justin Tinsley and myself every week just by clicking here. Should be fun!
Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian’s relationship has been a tested one. They famously got together, then very famously crumbled when Odom’s drug abuse problems got so bad that he nearly died after a bender in Nevada. He was found unconscious in a brothel, which tends to be a problem as far as marriages go. But to her credit she stuck by him, officially, even though she dated others in the meantime because he had issues, obviously. Well, now, she’s trying to end it for real. They have a prenuptial agreement, if you were wondering.
New details have emerged in the shooting incident at a T.I. concert in New York. The NYPD has released a surveillance video from the scene, and it strongly appears that rapper Troy Ave is involved. As in, it looks like he was the one doing the shooting. One person died and he shot himself in the leg, by the way. As important, this is such a bad look on the ground for NYC hip-hop. The police have been looking for any reason they can find to shut down live shows there and this only helps their cause. ABC’s News’ Meghan Keneally, Aaron Katersky and David Caplan report.
We told you Thursday about the 6-year-old trying to spell his way to fame. Alas, he wasn’t the one who made it to the top. The two who did however end up winning the title engaged in a pretty epic battle. And at one point, some VERY serious shade was thrown right there on stage. Let’s just say that if someone were clapping in my face at that age, best believe I would most definitely be clapping back. I hope these two end up being friends for life. Anyways, did you ever wonder how they pick the words for the spelling bee? FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder explains.
Ray Rice will probably never play in the NFL again. But that doesn’t mean he can’t have some level of impact in the league. Two years ago, when a video of him punching his then-fiancee while in an elevator went public, Rice was effectively blackballed from the league. He did gain some cash from a wrongful termination lawsuit, but it was clear that regardless of his production no one was going to give the running back another chance. Now, however, he’s back with the Ravens, albeit in a different role. ESPN’s Jamison Hensley details Rice’s latest endeavor.
Coffee Break: If you care about media, you should care about the battle currently being waged at Gawker Media. Nick Denton’s company is currently the subject of one man’s personal crusade, which some might call turnabout and thus, fair play. Alas, some see it differently. Particularly those who are in the media, who run their own sites.
Snack Time: We’re coming up on Memorial Day weekend, which means A) Daily Dose will be off on Monday and B) there will be cookouts. Here’s a list of things that you better not do at someone else’s function. You’ve been warned.
Dessert: Let’s end on a good note. This should make you laugh. Holiday advice: Safety first this weekend, folks.
is out of jail in time for the long weekend
5:15 PMWhen a rumor first crossed my desk that Gucci Mane was out of jail, I was stunned. Gucci’s relationship with the law is not one that typically keeps him a free man, so pardon us for not keeping track of his release dates. But forget all that, GUCCI HOME. According to TMZ, a judge let him out because of a mix-up on time already served. Something that only happens to Gucci.
There are people who look at him as the man with the ice cream tattoo on his face. Others who see him only as a guy who makes ratchet music from Atlanta. But to anyone really out here doing it for the culture, you understand that Gucci is the tree from which all branches grow when it comes to trap music. He has a tireless work ethic and has ushered so much young talent to the forefront in the South that it’s not absurd to compare him to Berry Gordy.
All that said, it’s time to rep Big Guwop.
Gucci mane is out! The streets are crying for joy
— THE GREY GORILLA (@RAMIREZ_187) May 26, 2016
— Four Pins (@Four_Pins) May 26, 2016
You can bet he’s headed to the studio right now.
Daily Dose: 5/26/16
Another tragic night at a T.I. show, this time in NYC
8:35 AMIt’s sad news to wake up to, but someone was killed at a T.I. concert in New York City Thursday night. Don’t forget that the Atlanta rapper’s homey, Philant Johnson, was killed at a concert in Cincinnati 10 years ago. Nearly to the week.
There is no opponent harder to topple for Donald Trump than President Barack Obama. But he’s not exactly facing him in a head-to-head matchup. So, Trump’s usual tactics don’t quite apply the same way competition-wise because he’s dealing with a sitting president. Conversely, whenever Obama says something about Trump it carries a ton of weight, particularly when he’s making references to things he’s heard in his dealings with world leaders, since, you know, he’s the commander in chief. ABC News’ Arlette Saenz has the details.
National parks are American treasures. That’s how many feel, despite the fact that the National Park Service is constantly dealing with myriad issues, to the point that it’s considering selling naming rights to corporate America. Sort of. As someone that grew up in D.C., I’ve got huge respect for the NPS and what it does. As it turns out, national parks as popular as they’ve ever been. Which unfortunately probably means the likelihood of a bunch of idiots messing it up for everyone is a possibility. Anyway, FiveThirtyEight’s Andrew Flowers explains.
There are few things I have more respect for than kids in a spelling bee. The “twitching freaks” as they were once called by Tony Kornheiser are not only incredibly smart, but incredibly bold, too. This is the part where I tell you that I got third place at the National Press Club spelling bee, after competing as a favor to a friend. That aside, these things are beyond intense, even for grown adults, nevermind preteens. Oh, did I say preteens? Because there’s A 6-YEAR-OLD in this year’s field, kiddos. ABC’s Enjoli Francis tells this wonderful story.
You remember Rougned Odor? Of course you do. He’s the guy that one-pieced the Toronto Blue Jays’ Joey Bautista so viciously that his helmet and sunglasses flew off at the same time. Yeah, that guy. Well, you need to know that he’s not just all hands. What he’s trying to do now is regain his reputation in Major League Baseball as a Venezuelan player. In the bigs, it’s not easy. Once you lose your credibility, it’s hard to regain it, particularly among players. ESPN’s Calvin Watkins profiles the Texas Rangers’ second baseman from Maracaibo.
Coffee Break: You’ve got to love artists that stand up for what they believe in. Yesterday, The Weeknd and rapper Belly said that they refused to take the stage on Jimmy Kimmel Live! because Donald Trump was scheduled to appear. And it wasn’t just a blanket walk off. The man with the unmistakable haircut had some eloquent words to say about it, too.
Snack Time: If you’ve ever been within, say, arm’s length of a lion that wasn’t in a cage, you understand their beauty. At their most serene, they are genuinely glorious cats. But if you woke up to one licking your tent, what would you do?
Dessert: You’re not going to see anything more inspirational than this video, today. I promise.
wants to hear Suboi’s flow. Please let him host a mixtape soon
5:12 PMPresident Barack Obama’s trip to Vietnam has been extremely fruitful.
He’s making political moves, lightweight flexing with world food stars and now he’s out here soliciting raps from native hip-hop stars. If you don’t know, her name is Suboi, and she is heavy in the streets in Ho Chi Mihn City. Based on the description of her verse, she’s relatively woke, too.
“For Vietnamese people, it’s different. They think rapping is not for women,” she said.
“But that’s true in the United States, too,” Obama added, pointing out that there’s nothing singular about discrimination in the rap game to Southeast Asia. “I just mean that there’s always been sexism and sort of gender stereotypes in the music industry like every other part of life.”
We need to see him truly flex those beatbox skills next time, though.
These should get you to the end of hump day
4:56 PMEvery once and a while, I’ll drop in with some music suggestions to get you through the afternoon. Nothing crazy or over the top, just a few tracks as a pick-me-up in the afternoon. Today, we’re a little mellowed out on a couple fronts. This won’t necessarily be a weekly feature, but it might just end up being that way. In the meantime, enjoy. This is what I’ve been rocking today.
First up is the latest from Curren$y Spitta. The New Orleans don has been dropping projects left and right, not dissimilar to his run eight years ago when he put out a tape a month, just because. He’s got five out so far in 2016: The Owners Manual, The Carrollton Heist, Weed & Instrumentals, Revolver (with Sledgren) and Bourbon Street Secrets. Frankly, we’ll take a mixtape a month with five to seven tracks over waiting two years for a 20-song album anytime. Far more digestible and exciting from a fan standpoint.
Now, he’s got The Legend of Harvard Blue project dropping soon and his latest track is called “Supply and Demand,” produced by YoungStarr. It’s another smoked-out banger with a just ominous enough beat to make you want to make sure it plays in the ride after the sun goes down.
Secondly is Joyce Wrice, the 24-year-old Californian songstress who started off singing YouTube covers. Her latest extended play is perfect for riding to the beach, which makes sense, considering she’s from San Diego. It’s called “Stay Around” and features production from everyone listed above.
Last is the homey Clams Casino who is one of the best in the game when it comes to instrumental hip-hop. His latest “Blast” delves into his dreamy, atmospheric zone, which works well with the long holiday weekend coming up. The new album 32 Levels is set to drop on July 15. The man they call “clammyclams” has done it again.
Analytics and black people
Do numbers ever lie?
2:17 PMThis morning, First Take discussed Michael Wilbon’s column titled “Mission Impossible: African-Americans & analytics.” In it, he argues that black basketball players and coaches are being ostracized surrounding not just the belief in, but the society around the metrics movement.
Hosts Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless also addressed the backlash the piece received, with Smith confirming what Wilbon said and then explaining how black coaches are “becoming an endangered species” and “in a world of trouble.”
“That’s the language that the owners love to hear,” Smith said. “Who do you hire? You hire guys that speak that language; who you’ve ingratiated yourself with them and vice versa; who gravitate to you and vice versa; and who you hang out with and drink together and talk about all of these things, and it’s never us. And then suddenly you’re outside, looking in. And at the rate it’s going, don’t be surprised if in a league where there are 30 teams, and obviously, 30 head coaches, if 10 percent or less of them happen to be black. Black coaches, head coaches are becoming an endangered species. They are in a world of trouble.”
When the Wilbon’s story initially went up, reaction was swift.
“I just think analytics are rarely discussed for large swathes of casual sports fans everywhere,” @mistertoastman wrote. “By loose definition a casual fan is less experienced with the nuances of a sport. How could they be expected to analyze its statistics? I don’t think I agree that there is a correlation between black people and emotion that biases us against analytics. I’ve gone to barbershops and talked basketball, and for sure, there was no mention of win shares or VORP. Is that unique to black experience ?”
I thought Wilbon piece was interesting b/c, right now, on TV, analytics seems like part of the continuing whiteness of management
— profloumoore (@loumoore12) May 24, 2016
So Wilbon is learning now, like baseball reporters have known for 20 years, that the players themselves don't care about analytics? Cool.
— Craig Calcaterra (@craigcalcaterra) May 24, 2016
Yall killing Wilbon for that analytics piece and I just wanna know what the hell is "BlackWorld".
— Beyonce has an uncle named Larry Beyince. Bruh…. (@DragonflyJonez) May 24, 2016
Wilbon raised some interesting questions but go to any sports bar and see how many fans of any ethnicity care about analytics
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) May 25, 2016
The shame about Wilbon's (beyond it literally being wrong) is there is a great piece out there about why analytics and (lack of) diversity.
— Andy Glockner (@AndyGlockner) May 25, 2016
I thought Black Men Don't Like Analytics was going to be the Moneyball-esque sequel to White Men Can't Jump starring @wesleysnipes as a GM.
— DO NOT CONGRATULATE (@russbengtson) May 24, 2016
Now that’s funny.
Nothing race specific about analytics. it is just the perception that if you into analytics you are white nerd, that is a stereotype
— Robert Littal (@BSO) May 24, 2016
This last reaction is perhaps most important. In his April 2014 story “Blacks losing the numbers game,” Howard Bryant explained how the mentality applies to baseball.
“On its face, data mining is obviously not a racist practice, but as [Oakland A’s general manager Billy] Beane and I discussed a decade and a half ago, the unintended consequences of a changing world have produced stalls in progress for African-Americans,” Bryant wrote. “As analytics became more prolific in baseball front offices, so have the criteria to be hired. The hiring universe, the game of who gets the jobs, has been changing for more than a decade. … The days of ex-players — black, white or Latino — becoming general managers seem to be coming to an end, a reign of opportunity that was never exactly plentiful.”
That, you can count on.
Rhiannon Walker, associate editor, contributed to this report.
His trial will likely dwarf O.J. Simpson’s, a once unimaginable concept
12:31 PM“If a 10-hour movie could be made about O.J. Simpson, a 20-hour movie could be done for Bill Cosby.”
That’s what my boss said Tuesday, referring to news that William Henry Cosby Jr. has been ordered to stand trial in an indecent assault case brought against him in his home state of Pennsylvania. Although dozens of women over the years have come forward with similar allegations, it’s Andrea Constand — who worked at Cosby’s alma mater Temple University, where he once served on the board of trustees — that will get her day in court.
When we think about the magnitude of this trial, it is impossible to predict. Compared with the Simpson murder trial, there are certainly similarities. But for the most part, they’re better defined as parallels taken to the 10th power. Football star Simpson’s popularity, although tremendous, was not even in the same stratosphere as Cosby’s. Yet the comedian and television icon is only 10 years older than the former football star. It seems like longer, mainly because Cosby played a fatherly figure for so long as The Cosby Show‘s Cliff Huxtable, and because he’s been in the public eye for everyone, not just sports fans, since the mid-1960s.
The Simpson case took over the country in 1994. Nearly every single person involved either was, or became, famous as a result. The coverage redefined the concept of not only the 24-hour news cycle, but laid the groundwork for what we understand the draw of reality television to be. It was the renaissance of “famous for being famous,” originally coined by Zsa Zsa Gabor, with a macabre twist.
In an April 2016 story titled “5 Reasons Why We’ll Never See Anything Like the O.J. Simpson Verdict Again,” Vanity Fair‘s Joanna Robinson analyzed how we all watched that incredible decision come down from a Los Angeles County courthouse. Yet, although the trial transfixed the country from a news standpoint, that was one moment.
“Adults abandoned their work and students left their classrooms as 150 million viewers — 57% of the country — gathered around TV screens,” Robinson wrote. “By comparison, only 37.8 million tuned in for Barack Obama’s historic inauguration in 2009 (also midday on a Tuesday) and 114.4 million watched the highest-rated sporting event in U.S. history: the 2015 Super Bowl. But if the verdict were to be announced today, most American workers and students wouldn’t gather together around a TV or a huge screen in Times Square. Most would be hunched over personal devices checking Twitter or Facebook or watching some kind of streaming video for the latest update.”
Now, imagine that for every single day of the Cosby trial.
With Simpson, there was an actual win/lose result we wanted to know. It was important for America to understand whether reasonable doubt even applied to rich black people. Cosby is richer than anything Simpson ever got close to. Simpson worked for NBC for a long time. When accusations against Cosby first resurfaced, conspiracy theorists said it was because he was looking to buy NBC. It’s a different world, if you will.
There are closer parallels when it comes to the sympathy arguments for both, the often “sounds like the LAPD is racist,” updated for the 21st century. Both were centered on the notion of not believing women and trusting a justice system that is systemically harmfully patriarchal by design.
“Even after more than 50 women have told remarkably similar stories of rape and assault, even after Cosby’s lawful arrest, plenty of people are still clamoring for the rest of us to ‘leave Bill Cosby alone,’” Christina Cauterucci wrote for Slate in December.
“They’ve said his career and reputation are already ruined and, at age 78, he’s too old to do any more damage; that vocal Cosby detractors are getting some kind of ‘sick pleasure’ from harping on his misdeeds. That the liberal media has an undue vendetta against a conservative apologist who preached about black immorality.”
Simpson was a man who many believe displayed the oft-ignored pattern of a domestic abuser. At that time, we weren’t ready to look at how domestic violence played a part in this case beyond race. We just didn’t have the bandwidth culturally for all those things to matter the same way.
In 2016, maybe we still don’t. But we’re certainly closer. While Cosby’s crime may not rise to murder, the sheer scope and breadth of his actions and admissions makes this trial, unfortunately, about far more than just Constand. It’s about the fundamental concept of consent.
Perhaps even more bizarre to think about is how this may play out going forward. Simpson is up for parole next year, for a Las Vegas robbery in 2007. If he’s successful, it’s entirely possible that he may be getting out of prison just as Cosby is headed in.
Daily Dose: 5/25/16
Vietnam is extremely interested in President Obama
Bill Cosby is going on trial. In Pennsylvania to be exact. After District Judge Elizabeth McHugh made the ruling about the case that first got started 12 years ago, more details of a 2005 deposition became available, and the details were sordid to say the least. The comedian admitted to assaulting Andrea Constand, then apologizing to her family and offering to pay for her graduate school. Sometimes I wonder if Hannibal Buress, an extremely talented and brilliant comic, will ever outlive being the man who brought down Bill Cosby. Certainly hope so. ABC’s Luchina Fisher and Michael Rothman report.
President Barack Obama’s trip to Vietnam has gone swimmingly. First, he announced an end to a trade embargo with the nation we were once at war with. Then, he held a town hall discussion in Ho Chi Minh City that was tremendous. People asked him about smoking weed, which is hilarious. He also fielded questions about his future, which coincidentally will most immediately play out in Washington, D.C. For those of you there, get ready for that. Most importantly though, the president found some time to dine with Anthony Bourdain, something that was probably on both of their bucket lists. Arlette Saenz and Kelly McCarthy have the details.
Speaking of the president, remember Jeremiah Wright, the fiery preacher who Obama once held his church home with? People thought that a black man whose pastor was anything short of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would be doomed at the polls, lest America wasn’t ready to hand over the nation to someone it thought hated white people. Alas, that didn’t happen and Obama won with ease. The Undefeated’s Michael Fletcher sat down with the crew at FiveThirtyEight to explain exactly how that whole episode went down.
Seattle still hasn’t gotten over it. Every time the Oklahoma City Thunder start to go far in the playoffs, we’re forced to remember that the team was once the SuperSonics. It’s understandable. The Sonics were a great franchise and to watch a bunch of people in the American heartland rooting for what could have been yours must be tough. Of course, now that Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are one step closer to the NBA Finals, it stings a bit more. Some players from the Pacific Northwest took to Twitter last night to talk about it.
Coffee Break: If someone put Gary Clark Jr., Fantastic Negrito, Benjamin Booker, Leon Bridges, Gallant and Jonny P on one festival bill, I’d pay $1,000 to go see it. And if you don’t know who that last guy is, you’ll want to. The New York City native who now lives in Nashville recently sat down for an interview and he’s got new music coming out this fall.
Snack Time: As far as television shows about slavery, WGN’s Underground is up there on the list of the best. Listen to production designer Meghan C. Rogers discuss what it was like to create sets for the antebellum period.
Dessert: Jay Z has showed up on the mic again. You can be the judge of whether or not that was a good idea.
New AZ documentary
highlights the Brooklyn native’s ascent and legacy
4:27 PMIn the mid-’90s, there was so much incredible talent coming out of the New York hip-hop scene that even the best artists have lived complete careers as effectively “underrated.” AZ is one of those guys. As part of its #20YrsLtr series, BET released a mini-documentary last week called “Doe or Die: Heartbeat of a Classic.” The half-hour film takes you back to East New York, Brooklyn where the man née Anthony Cruz, but known simply as “A,” was reared as an emcee.
What makes this an appealing watch is not so much revisiting the old days, although the footage of shows at the Apollo Theater and stories of a young A being awed at a Stetsasonic show as a kid (Daddy-O would later become a mentor) are heartwarming, but hearing the respect he has from other artists of his era and how it still holds today. AZ himself also gives you an in-depth look at his approach to his craft and breaks down exactly how some of the more popular tracks on the album Doe Or Die came to fruition.
His signature hit, “Sugar Hill,” went gold for EMI Records, with the entire album eventually reaching platinum status on its own. Before Doe or Die, AZ burst on to the scene on Nas’ “Life’s A B—-,” from the 1994 album Illmatic with a verse and hook that no one will forget where they were the first place they heard it.
A’s style as a Brooklyn head is still impeccable. At 44, he looks like he could step into any cypher to this day and body it. “AZ knew how to spit it, and talk about that life, like a book author,” Nas said of his one-time-partner-in-rhyme’s flow. “He was that well written.”
With a zillion biopics about this era of music littering the scene, an extended feature of a rapper who falls somewhere between beloved and forgotten for casual fans — and was a definite game-changer — is welcome.
Daily Dose: 5/24/16
Man on death row freed decades later due to racially biased jury selection
9:31 AMMonday night was a big one in my household. The season premiere of The Bachelorette aired and JoJo looks like she’s going to be great. Expect a lot more analysis of the show in this space — aka the “Black Guy Power Rankings.”
Once you’re on death row, it’s not easy to make it off. But one man in Georgia suddenly has a chance at said miracle after the Supreme Court overturned his sentence for capital murder almost three decades after he was initially sentenced. The dispute centered not around the crime, but how the all-white jury was selected. Perhaps more intriguingly, the justices voted nearly unanimously in the decision. I’ll bet you can guess who the lone dissenter was. ABC News’ Audrey Taylor and Geneva Sands have the details.
A friend of mine is moving to Australia soon. At her going-away party, a discussion about hot air balloons came up, as its popular there. We all discussed our fears surrounding the activity, joking them off mostly as rationally. But my buddy brought up one thing that actually happened in Melbourne just recently. A hot air balloon steered off course due to faulty wind conditions. Everyone made it out alive, but the details of how a wakeboarding father and son combo helped them are pretty wild. ABC News’ Kelly McCarthy reports.
MC Hammer’s importance to music is undeniable. Whether you are or were a fan of his music, his largesse was the kind of thing that the industry will never forget. Yet, for many, he symbolizes all that was wack with hip-hop/black music in the ’90s. Those critiques were always harsh, but the man is somehow still in the business and still thriving, to a certain extent, even if not balling like he was back in the day. ABC’s Michael Rothman and Karu Daniels sit down with man from Oakland named Stanley Burrell, who was boys with Tupac and Prince.
There was a Raptors game in Toronto last night, so Drake was there. His entrance wasn’t exactly the most star-studded, but his city still loves him. And the 6 God was in full annoying fan mode, getting in people’s faces and slapping five with players. The longer the Raptors continue to win, the more I enjoy this bit. If you’re the Cleveland Cavaliers, while his presence isn’t necessarily as huge deal, it’s gotta be irksome to watch the series slip away while a guy who warmed up with the Kentucky Wildcats once and threw up an air ball is yelling at you from point blank. To add to the fun, Drizzy is even roasting Cavs players on Instagram.
Coffee Break: If you haven’t been paying attention, Chris Webber has turned into one of the best broadcasters in the NBA. His career was stellar without being necessarily super celebrated and I imagine his career in the booth will take a similar path. Here’s an interview with the former Michigan Fab Five member, who talks about his new life.
Snack Time: Mike Epps is a quality comedian. But he never graduated from high school. He’s also 45 years old. This week, he finally completed the task and even wore the cap and gown. It’s a nice tale of being goal-oriented.
Dessert: James Fauntleroy has a new track out. Let me know if you like it.
Freddie Gray case
Justice system produces familiar results
3:59 PMThe saddest part of the whole situation is that Freddie Gray’s death was entirely avoidable, had he not been wrongly arrested. Instead, he was, and one “rough ride” later, he died. The officer who initially arrested Gray walked free Monday, a soberingly unsurprising result for the second of six officers who will be tried for his death.
Edward Nero was acquitted of all charges, 13 months after Gray died from a spinal cord injury he sustained in a police vehicle. His death sent Baltimore into a frenzy, with pockets of violence cropping up in the city’s most underserved but highly policed neighborhoods.
The situation was so tense that Major League Baseball moved a scheduled night game to the morning, then didn’t let fans in to watch, for fear of some type of spillover effect of violence. Bizarre doesn’t begin to describe the scene. I remember, because I was inside the ballpark.
On a larger level, we’ve seen this cycle of police violence, then no real accountability, so many times before that the collective conscious of people who consider themselves woke isn’t remotely surprised.
One can debate the specifics of the case, and the specific burdens of proof versus charges levied, until the cows come home, but the apparent reality has set in that the system is not broken. This is the system working. Some people, however, have to be on the victim end in order for the system’s full capabilities to be understood.
When Baltimore District Attorney Marilyn Mosby stood on those steps and promised justice would be served, it was a transcendant moment, even though many legal experts at the time said it was a bad idea to make such a public proclamation. The case was going to be difficult no matter what, but it felt like a win in the name of common decency.
Derrick Coleman, former Syracuse hoops standout and No. 1 overall pick of the 1990 NBA draft, responded on Twitter to Monday’s news of Nero’s acquittal.
— Derrick Coleman (@44TheLegend) May 23, 2016
no excuse for loss of life
— Derrick Coleman (@44TheLegend) May 23, 2016
Last year, Qadry Ismail, who played for the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV-winning team and is still a broadcaster with the team wrote this on Facebook:
“The way in which this tragic event has spun out of control is indeed sad. A man lost his life and however it may have been, there needs to be accountability to the highest level of the Baltimore city government. No spin no politics but justice. However, the city as a whole is not a place of evil and malcontent. I have LOVED this greater Baltimore area as a player and now as a resident. I have enjoyed speaking to so many people and their love of the culture of the Baltimore area. I refuse to believe and accept some ignorant narrow minded people who have nothing better to do but loot and break into stores and cause disorder and lawlessness to spoil my view of what Baltimore and the surrounding counties have meant to me. I have met many a police officer as well, and can say the ones I have met are decent family people who do there jobs with integrity. I pray for peace for them and their families; for restoration of order; for those who broke the law to be brought to justice, and for healing for the City of Baltimore.”
Contrarily, you might recall that one Chicago sportscaster recently was fired over a joke he told about the situation.
“Sox in their Freddie Gray road uniforms in Baltimore tonight,” he tweeted on the one-year anniversary of the ghost game.
A man who broadcasts news for a living made a joke about a young man who lost his life for no reason and lost his job. The people who are responsible, but apparently not culpable, are less likely to lose theirs.
Rihanna stole the show at Prince’s tribute
Everything else about it got dragged
12:01 PMSunday night at the Billboard Music Awards on ABC, Madonna and Stevie Wonder performed a tribute to the late, great Prince. Let’s just say it wasn’t exactly well received.
This "Prince tribute" was just……. pic.twitter.com/jruBqtnjqe
— VIC JAGGER • ♡ (@VictoriaOnPaper) May 23, 2016
I don't think I could have watched the Prince tribute even if I'd liked the choice of performer. I'm stuck in anger/denial.
— Jamilah Lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) May 23, 2016
— Marlow Stern (@MarlowNYC) May 23, 2016
Alrighty then. Now, whether or not you thought it was a little too soon for such a thing, or if the choice of performers was a tad off base, there was one undeniable fact: Rihanna is winning. Watch as she charms with this “I know the camera’s on me but I’m gonna act like I don’t and just dab on them folk” move, which should net her a separate award of its own. (Meanwhile, BET is upping its own ante.)
— Karen Civil (@KarenCivil) May 23, 2016
Daily Dose: 5/23/16
Draymond Green involved in low blow
As details of Prince’s death continue to trickle out, each becomes a tad more unfortunate. First, we learned that he was a day away from an intervention when he passed. Then, we learned that the doctor who prescribed him medicine was suddenly no longer working in said capacity. Also, we learned that he had no will, meaning his family will be left to fight for what he left behind. Now, perhaps the most macabre tidbit has been revealed. According to sources, Prince had been dead for hours when his body was found. ABC News’ Joi Marie McKenzie reports.
The Padres have some serious explaining to do. On Saturday’s Pride Night at Petco Park, the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus was supposed to sing the national anthem before a game against the Dodgers when things went horribly wrong. Instead of hearing their voices, the crowd was played a recording of a woman singing The Star-Spangled Banner. And after that played, they didn’t even get a chance to sing themselves and were led off the field. Pretty much a colossal fail all around, nevermind how embarrassed each of those chorus members must have been. ABC News’ Brian McBride explains.
It was 2011 when I first heard The Weeknd. I had no idea what he looked like, no clue as to where he was from or really what he was about. Then Drake showed up on a song of his and you had to presume that maybe he was from Canada. A couple mixtapes later, he was a star to music heads. Then, fast forward a couple years and people are saying that at least vocally, he sounds like the next Michael Jackson. “I Can’t Feel My Face” was the song of the summer in 2015 and, now, he’s got the trophies to prove it. He dominated the Billboard Music Awards Sunday night.
Kicking someone in what we call the “man region” is a serious no-no. If it’s done intentionally, one is presumably looking to either start or end a fight and all offenses possible should be taken. On Sunday night, as the Oklahoma City Thunder were blowing the doors of the Golden State Warriors, Draymond Green found himself on the delivery end of one of said blows. Steven Adams was the recipient in this case. Green says it was an accident, but everyone else in the world seems to think otherwise. See for yourself.
Coffee Break: As an architectural canvas, fire stations are such an interesting subject. The space and layouts they require are so unique, but can be executed in a ton of different manners. You can tell a lot about any locale based on what its firehouses look like. In Dallas, fire stations are on the cutting edge of all that’s hot in the design world.
Snack Time: Someone on a train didn’t want to sit next to former NBA baller Etan Thomas. So, he blew up their spot in the smartest way, as he tends to do. Check it out.
Dessert: Stories of self-absorbed rich people freaking out always has, and will, make me laugh incessantly.