Friday, May 28, 2010

Some music

All thanks to Lil Wayne pandora (the 2nd best next to the inimitable phoenix pandora)

Hip hop and rap (they are different)

T.I. - I'm Back New song from the King, who is apparently no longer behind bars. Tip's flow is expectedly solid, but what really makes this song is the beat, which is impeccable on T.I.'s hit songs. The recurring provide most of the melody, but notice the weird UFO sounds every once in a while, and the drum beat is noticeably T.I.-esque.

More Tip! Ride wit me I knew King was a great album, but sheepishly will admit that I hadn't listened to it thoroughly enough to catch this killer track. This one is a bit more laid back - something to listen to as you ride around in your tricked-out SUV in the suburbs - or even the hood, I guess. The synth that is so prominent on T.I.'s best tracks like "What you know" is infectious and catchy as hell.

For something a little more underground: Mos Def Sunshine I'm a bit baffled that pandora thought to include both Mos Def and T.I. on the playlist, but I think that says a lot about our Lord Weezy. Weezy has the mainstream cred to put out club songs like T.I., but his wordplay is creative (weird?) enough to be comparable to Mos. The New York MC is really on point on this one, and while the sample is infectious (strings once again provide much of the interest), Mos Def steals the show.


Soccer in the U.S.

I was listening to pittsburgh sports radio yesterday on my way to go an interview some pittsburgh steelers players, which was sick, and they were talking about soccer, which of course perked my interest. More specifically, they were talking about why soccer isn't more popular in the U.S. Admittedly, the guys on the radio - especially this one - weren't huge soccer fans, and the callers seemed to be fighting a losing battle arguing for why soccer is important.

When one dj suggested that the U.S. was the outlier for not liking soccer, while the rest of the world found sports like baseball boring, the one especially ignorant dj responded with an infallible argument: "there are 2 indian guys in the minor leagues," he said, which obviously meant that the whole world did not think that baseball was boring.

But enough of non-soccer fans' opinions, let me try in a few paragraphs to understand why soccer has been unable to find a major foothold among U.S. sports fans. An important point raised on the radio was that it's not as if no one in the U.S. played soccer. The beautiful game is the most played sport among America's youth if my memory serves me right, so the question is, why doesn't this translate into Americans watching soccer?

The two reasons are inextricably linked. One, the local American league, the MLS, just isn't that good. The more I watch the MLS, the more I see a noticeable difference in the quality of goals in the MLS and in English and Spanish football. The level of play just isn't as high as in Europe, so true soccer fans would rather see the best players in other leagues.

This inherently creates another problem - no local teams for fans to root for. American sport fans are pretty diehard for their local tams - or whatever teams they root for. This is what a 13-year old guy in Liverpool has that American soccer fans don't have. Instead, many soccer-playing American sports fans will also root for their favorite football team or basketball team. I remember guys on how guys on my soccer teams would talk about the New York Giants and the Lakers just as much - if not more - than Manchester United or Arsenal, not to even speak of, say, D.C. United or the L.A. Galaxy.

This means that until the MLS can compete with the other leagues, soccer as a spectator sport will never compete with America's three pastimes (sp?): baseball, basketball, and football (and even hockey!). I read a good book by Grant Wahl on the Beckham Experiment - when David Beckham came play for the L.A. Galaxy - that deals with the topic.

Yes many Americans are excited for the World Cup - even perhaps some that don't follow league football all that much - but national team soccer isn't frequent enough to make true soccer fans out of most Americans. Once the MLS is on par with other leagues (if ever), then kids will grow up as fans of New England Revolution, as well as the Celtics and Red Sox.


Everyone loves a bit of journalism controversy, right? (Or is it just me?) I had never been a huge fan of M.I.A., which isn't to say that I didn't like her, but I was definitely interested by the recent N.Y. Times Magazine profile prompted an angry yet pretty clever response by M.I.A. Basically M.I.A. listed a number for fans of hers to call - which turned out to be author Lynn Hirschberg's message machine. It's too bad Hirschberg didn't take the clever move with a grain of salt, but this issue definitely highlights the leeway magazine journalism writers get to not only tell a story, but to tell it in a very concerted way that proves their point.

If hip hop is collage, then so is magazine journalism. You can tell that Hirschberg carefully selected a variety of ammunition which pretty effectively highlight certain contradictions in MIA's (i'm sick of putting in the periods) persona. The scene in which a neighbor visits a Sri Lankan photographer MIA had been collaborating with, and asks a presumably blinged-out MIA what she's doing there, sticks out. The artist clearly doesn't notice the class tension, and dumbly responds, "Why wouldn't I be here?"

The tough thing with this situation, and the reason I might understand MIA's anger is that Hirschberg is surely picking quotes, scenes, symbols, etc. very conscientiously in order to prove her point. There are probably several details she left out that might have contradicted her argument, but of course she doesn't mention them.

I know from personal experience that it can be easy when writing something like this to focus on an angle, and then just look for evidence that supports your point, while ignoring the rest.

Basically, this whole commotion shows how subjective magazine journalism can sometimes be, and with so much freedom to tell a narrative, it can be tough to remain balanced, and it is inevitable that your point of view will likely come across (whereas in more straight-forward, hard news pieces, that point of view may still be there, but is just less noticeable).

I can know say that I know a bit about Sri Lanka's political strife!

Let's give M.I.A. a little shout-out. I listened to Kala for the first time in a long-time, and here's a track that stood out. It's droned-out and sound's remarkable like that song "Blue Monday" by prodigy. Here it is:

New beginnings

So this whole blogging thing is new to me, but at least it's not a myspace or a xanga or one of those things. Anyways, this will be a place for me to rant about a variety of things: sports, music, journalism, quirky things I notice in everyday life, etc.

I hope people will read this. I more hope my dry tone will accurately be conveyed to readers, if any.

Here we go I guess...