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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So, now that I am off my hiatus, I noticed there has been quite a bit going on out there. This story naturally caught my eye.

Being from Louisiana, the Jena 6 story really hit me hard in all of its different aspects. Given the nature of what occurred there, it's no surprise that the entire incident caught national attention. Thousands marched, blogged, and protested to give the teens justice and it was awarded.

However, it seems that some of the boys are still getting into trouble. Apparently one of them was caught stealing last week and later shot himself. So, obviously all those efforts to free the young men was a complete waste of time.



I fail to see how the continuing struggles of these young men takes away from those protests. Sorry, but any place that has students hanging nooses and a "white tree" needs to be exposed and rallied against. Period.

The DA in the case was on a power trip and wanted to send a message of fear to not just the Jena 6, but the entire black community of that town. The message was that we can have "white trees" and nooses all we want, but if you people step out of line I'm gonna throw your asses in jail for as long as I can.

It was wrong. The protests accomplished what they were supposed to accomplish and that was shining a light on an injustice. No one should feel like they did the wrong thing here. The subsequent mistakes of some of the young men is unfortunate but doesn't take away from the need to protest those issues.

What the mistakes do show is our community is still struggling to nurture our young men. We marched in and helped give these kids a second chance and then we.... Well, I don't know what happened next, but apparently it wasn't enough. Time and time again we march in to help kids when they are in trouble with the "system." However, we don't do enough once we get them out or to keep them from getting in trouble to begin with. Until we do, we'll keep seeing our young men blow their second chances.

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My Favorite Rap Groups

My workout was pretty long this morning as I'm shaking off the last of Christmas dinner. I work out to pretty much all hip hop with a couple of R&B songs mixed in to change the pace. As I huffed and puffed on the treadmill, I started thinking about who my favorite rap groups were. At the end of the day, these groups stood out. Naturally, everyone won't agree with this list as there are some pretty surprising admissions. My criteria isn't based on record sales or popularity, but I don't think that can be entirely ruled out either. I tried to focus mainly on the strength of the individual MC's. Meaning that pretty much any group that consisted of one great rapper and his homies was instantly weeded out. You had to come out with more than one album and at least two guys had to rap. No Eric B & Rakim because only Rakim rapped. Without further rambling, here's my list.

1. Wu-Tang Clan - I simply can't think of a better collection of MC's top to bottom. The Wu's roster was pretty ridiculous when you think about it. Everyone brought something a lil bit different to the table, but somehow it still all worked.
2. NWA - I went back and forth on whether to put NWA at Number 1. Ice Cube and Ren were both incredible lyricists and this group spawned a whole generation of rappers. At the end of the day, the Wu did the same thing and I just feel like their music has held up a bit better over. But there's no question NWA had a strong influence on rap.
3. De La Soul - See below.
4. Tribe Called Quest - This was another close call and I could easily flip these two groups out. At the end of the day, I just think Posdunous carries De La over Tribe with strength of his lyrics. Again, a close one.
5. Outkast - The first southern entrants into the list, but there's no denying the strength of Andre 3000 on the mic and Big Boi always did his thing as well.
6. EPMD - Part of me feels like they are too low on this list, but I can't say that they were better lyricists than the other groups on this list.
7. UGK - This pick may seem strange to people who aren't from the South, but UGK has been putting out good music for years. Don't let the southern slang fool you, both Bun B and the late Pimp C were great rappers.
8. The Fugees - Lauryn gets most of the props, but Clef and Pras weren't bad on the mic at all.
9. The Roots - Black Thought carries the day on this one. I debated putting them on the list mainly because so many MC's joined and left the group. But, their music and influence is pretty undeniable.
10. Tie - The Hot Boys, & Bone Thugs - I just couldn't decide between these groups. Most purists will immediately dismiss them because they are commercial, but I honestly have to disagree. I think the individual rappers in these groups were pretty damn good, commercial rap or not, especially The Hot Boys with Wayne, BG and Juvenile. Also, they came with different styles and represented new parts of the rap scene.

Didn't Quite Make It
Black Star - just not enough music as a group, but I love both of these guys.
The Lox - This group just didn't achieve as much as it should have. Strong individual MCs, but not enough memorable music.
G-Unit - I think 50 was actually on to something, but couldn't keep the group together. Young Buck and Game were definitely capable MCs and 50 is 50. Banks was better on the mixtapes than on the albums (at least to me), but could still hold his own and for whatever reason, I just liked Yayo.

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Song that represents how I felt about 2008 - Wu Tang Clan - CREAM

2008 was historic in so many ways it's not even funny.  I've been trying to write down all my emotions about this last year, but it's been pretty difficult.  But today while continuing my quest to get back to my college weight, thing song came up on random.  

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