All posts by blkbam

Rodney King – Catalysts to a Resolution Gone Wrong

Rodney King

Rodney King was found dead this morning at the bottom of a pool.

In case you didn’t know, at one point Rodney did release a song but that wasn’t his biggest impact on Hip Hop. His impact was the inspiration of change in the way police interactions between themselves and civilians. His impact influenced the soundtrack to an entire coast. His impact caused a a whole community to people to stand up against the wrongs committed against them and make the whole world take notice.

The LA Riots were started because of the dismissal of charges against the LA Police Department after a video surfaced of them clearly using excessive force against him. I won’t go into the whole history of the event but the following video which aired a few weeks ago covers it in great detail.

There aren’t too many points in history where the name of the victim is remembered synonymously with the even but the world will never forget the name Rodney King.

Silenced Mics – Donna Summer, Brian Carter, Adam Yauch (MCA)

I wanted to do a piece on each of these people individually but I thought it best to group them together because they all have something in common; a huge impact on a small group of people. Of course "small" in some cases is relative.

Donna SummerShe may have been born before many of you reading this and her popularity came at the tail end of her musical genera’s tenure but her impact is still there. Though you’ll hear many people proclaim that disco is dead, Donna’s music from that era is timeless. Last Dance is played in skating rinks the world over, Hot Stuff continues to appear in music sound tracks while Love to Love You Baby and I Feel Love have been sampled by many award winning artist. Being an award winning artist herself this is no surprise. Donna’s music will forever be sampled and covered for the long foreseeable future and her voice will never be silenced.

Brian Carter
If you grew up within broadcast range of the Philadelphia area in the early to late 90’s you no doubt know of the Carter and Sanborn show. It was one of those shows that if you didn’t listen to it then you listened with someone that you knew.  The dual dominated the morning airwaves on Power 99 and then later on WDAS FM. Memorable characters such as Horace the Taurus with whom you could set your watch to and Lunchmeat Mumford we always good for a laugh. I remember my own interaction with them was a campaign they had to encourage Michael Jackson to come to Philly on his tour. They encouraged people in the area to write letters to show support. Even though we were too young to go, my teacher got us to pull out our green slips of paper and write a note to Michael every day for a week. He never came but it felt good even at that age to be part of something bigger than ourselves.

Adam Yauch
If you don’t know the Beastie Boys then you don’t know Hip Hop. And if you don’t know their contribution then you don’t know your history. They were one of the first acts signed to Def Jam Records. They were one of the first successful white hip hop acts. They are one of the longest groups to be in  hip hop that are still performing. As for MCA himself, if you didn’t follow the group closely then you wouldn’t know about his activism for LBGT rights or the free Tibet movement and his interest in film production.

MCA and the Beastie Boys opened up the opportunity  to have a broader crossover audience back when hip hop was in its infancy. Without this audience, hip hop could’ve not progressed so rapidly as an art form.

2 Seconds from Glory

Sorry I didn’t get this out sooner but Sunday was a bit busy for me after the run. I didn’t get home until after 10:30 PM and Monday ended up being an even lazier day than I had planned. But enough excuses. What follows is a nonfictional account of my run. Any names used here are totally true because none are used but my own…

Unfortunately no PR for me on Sunday. My time was actually 2 seconds slower than my fastest time in 2007 which was a bit disappointing. The night before the run I found out that I could live-tweet my pace during the run which was pretty cool so I signed up for the service then went to bed. The next morning I gather my things, hopped in the car and began to drive. It wasn’t until I got to I-95 that I realized that I had forgotten my phone. It hit me that I would have no running partner or music to encourage me during the run which was a bit disappointing…but…there was no turning back at this point.

I parked my car next to reluctantly next to Citizens Bank Park due to the Sixers selfishly re-claiming the Wells Fargo Center parking for themselves and headed for the subway. What awaited was a half-mile long line (I measured) of people trying to get on. I jammed my way onto a subway car and proceeded to the start. Once there I moved up a corral in confidence of my new found ability thanks to my training with my group.

Our time came and I approached the line then started at my comfortable pace. I took a look down the street and saw City Hall in the hazy distance began my run. There was the usual passing of slower people who don’t understand the corral system or overestimated their finishing times. I reached Temple University, gave a few high-fives to Hooter (their mascot) and the football team and got charged up.

[tweet https://twitter.com/blkbam/status/199126810003386369]

At the runners expo the day before, I upgraded my water bottle to a larger one which made this the first Broad Street Run I got to be my own water station which was pretty cool. It felt a little funny at first to not be one of the people clamoring and crashing into each other in hopes of quenching a much needed thirst but after the second station I confidently moved to the center and ran on turning my nose up at the gloved volunteers with their cup-filled tables.

I was feeling good, running at a good pace but subconsciously something was strange. My pace was normal, my breathing was good, other runners shirts were entertaining enough and people were doing their usual dash behind buildings…and then it hit me, I had to go too. I tried to hold out; passing long line after long line for a porta-potty but then shortly before mile 5 I couldn’t take it any longer. Thinking back I tried to get it out before the run but there was nothing there to give so I went towards the starting line. I had to take a short stop since there was a line only 5 people deep.

[tweet https://twitter.com/blkbam/status/199132452638310401]

Freshly relieved I continued down the street and suddenly City Hall came out of nowhere. I had reached the 5 mile mark without even knowing it. I was still feeling good and after a sharp right, a left and then another sharp right I was back running down Broad Street again then wouldn’t you know it, mile 6! Only 4 more to go I thought as I ran on. I looked for my usual high-five from former Gov. Rendell but I couldn’t find him in his usual spot.

[tweet https://twitter.com/blkbam/status/199139154435645440]

I slowed a few times to cool down as my temperature started to rise but I ran on. The 1 time I stopped to walk in hopes of cooling down was short lived as a woman came running by shouting “Don’t stop! You’re my pace person! I need you to make my 1:45.” So of course I had to continue on down the street. I stuck with her until about mile 9 before she faded, still urging me not to stop. I looked at my watch and saw that my PR was escaping me but mile 9 has a tough start and a gradual incline.

Halfway up the hill I saw Anne-Marie under the Fleet Feet tent but I was on the other side of the street so I had to pass by and keep going. Over the hill with the Navel Yard gates approaching, I could hear the relieved shouts of “Look, the finish line!” from the rookies and the crushing “No, you have ¼ mile to go!” from the veterans followed by collective sighs. I glanced at my watch to check my time then poured on what little energy I had left. Whipping and weaving though the people in an attempt to come in just shy of my fastest time but the crowd proved too much. The spots to weave ran out and the finish line grew closer. In my efforts to cross the finish line I forgot to stop my watch so it ran 2 minutes over what it should’ve but they had my time.

[tweet https://twitter.com/blkbam/status/199174944326823936]

Saddened, I got my medal and bag of goodies and made my 1 ¾ mile walk back to my car (I measured). A quick hello to Anne-Marie along the way then off I went. As I shut the door to my car I vowed that come the Rock & Roll 1/2 Marathon in September, it’ll be a sub 2 HR run…maybe even a 1:44 run.

01:45:42

Those who don’t know their history…

A warriors garb

It’s the night before and I’m feeling great!  Three months of training all come down to the results of tomorrow. I went through my results from the last couple and they are as follows:

Year

Finish

Avg. Pace

2006 2:03:11 12:19
2007 1:45:40 10:33
2008 Injured N/A
2009 1:48:12 10:49
2010 1:58:11 11:49
2011 Injured N/A

A little background on the results, my first organized run was a 5K in 2004 at Jefferson Hospital Philadelphia Distance Run (now renamed ING Distance Run). I finished in 32:51.  The following year I decided to step it up to the full half marathon for the run.  That one I finished in 3:05:56 because I pulled a muscle around mile 9 and I had to walk the the rest of the way. The reason was because I didn’t train properly.  The next run I did was the Broad Street Run in 2006.

As you can see, my times varied widely over the years. All due to training. This year I took the route of structured training with a group to improve my abilities. Proper hydration, hill training, speed work and pace were the focus of our training. And now in the morning I will get to see the how well that training pays off. My prediction is a personal record.

Achievement Denied

To help you understand how I’m feeling I’m going to have to set a tone. I’m going to be name dropping like crazy to illustrate my point. To do that the best you will need to start the song below prior to continuing to read.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5tc0Vdgo_Q&rel=0]

Imagine it’s 6:30 am, 43 degrees out side. You had a terrible run the night before but today you’re feeling good. You grab gear to go run and get your non-standard ear buds that you bought from MeritLine.com

Ear buds

and plug them into your T-Mobile G2

G2

You have a funny feeling in your hip early on but that isn’t stopping you so you stop and stretch for 10-20 seconds.  Later on this song comes on. You look down at your Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Watch to check your progress.

Not my watch, just an example

It’s mile 2 and your are about to reach a milestone. You’re almost at the 10 minute mile mark on your run. Maybe even faster  Kanye is revving up to start his first inspirational bars and suddenly you are interrupted but Russian blaring in your ears!!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW0wCvlu9GM&w=448&h=252&hd=1]

WTF? It’s from your lessons you’ve been taking so it’s not something that’s too far out of the ordinary. You reach into your Nathan Hip Pack because running is the only thing you can do where it’s cool to wear a hip pack.

Nathan Hip Pack

You stop for a second because the moment is spoiled by the random sound coming out of your phone. Your run has now been slowed to a walk due to the bewilderment. As you pull out your phone, the music kicks back in…hhhmmm. that was weird. Maybe Win Amp had a glitch but the music is back, no biggie.

WinAmp

You regain your tempo when suddenly the song changes again. Son of a… Your rhythm is broken yet again. This is crazy. You slow to a walk once again then reach for your phone. The thought crosses your mind that you may be pressing the controls on your HTC headphones cord so you check.

HTC Head Phones

Oh right, I’m not using my usual headphones, I’m using the backups which don’t feature the controls. Time to think quickly. Let’s see, the buttons on the headphones send an electronic pulse down to the phone which the phone receives and interprets as a command which causes the phone to control the software. Now I know that sounds really advanced for 6:30 am but if you’ve ever run you know that your mind is clear and active once you get into it. Especially at 2 miles.

Anyway, you looks at the connector to insure it’s plugged in all the way.

Head Phone Jack

Of course it is, damn. Maybe if you wiggle it something will happen. That sounds logical because it’s in your hip pack and has a little movement to it.  Wiggle…wiggle…song change. Ah ha!!! Wait, that could’ve been a fluke. Wiggle…wiggle..song change. Yes, I figured it out!!! But wait a minute, wasn’t I trying to do something? Oh right, I was about to set a PBR. I look down at my watch again and see that I’m now off of my record. Shit. Have to try to pick it up and get back on pace but it’s too late. I finish my run and realize that I’m 2 minutes off!

Watch

If you know anything about running or distance/time ratios you know that 2 minutes is huge. I mean hhhuuuuuuugggeeeee.

Huge

In my head I know that 2 minutes was caused by the confusion with the music but there are no asterisk in my book. I go by the official record and the official record is my watch. It says I’m off so I’m off. Next time I will use my usual headphones or just ignore the music and keep going.

Don’t leave home without it

Inhaler

First I have to get this out of the way…I haven’t given up on this site.  I’ve just been posting on my twitter account and not here but I won’t do that any more.

Second to bring you up too speed quickly, I’ve joined a running group to train for the upcoming Broad Street Run. I have a schedule of 4 runs a week with 2 of them being a group run on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Now to the topic at hand. Tonight out my run I short group run which is 6 miles. This run has been hit or miss for various reasons but tonight it was because I forgot to use my inhaler prior to my run. I don’t always have to use it but when the weather shifts as it has in the past couple days I have trouble with my allergies and asthma.

Lesson re-learned, always listen to your body and know how it behaves in certain conditions. It could be the difference between a failed run and a good run.

I’ve been MIA and not the one in Florida

Once again I’ve been relatively silent for a whole month! But I haven’t been inactive. Since my last update I started a “Biggest Loser” competition with my co-workers and joined a training program for a half marathon (13.1 miles).  While I won’t be participating in the run that the straining is slated for because the previous week I will be participating in the Broad Street Run as part of my normal run schedule.

As part of my training group we did have a fitness assessment which included some flexibility testing. The results are below.

image

I don’t know about you but I consider a “fair” rating as not satisfying. Worst is the one that actually says “work on” next to it. This was a big blow to my ego at first but then I viewed it as the way to know what to target. To compliment the assessment they gave me exercise to make improvements which will help me in the future. I will be including them in my usual routine.

Piles of headphone choices

Headphones

Some time ago, I wrote What ever happened to headphones? in reaction to the declining appearance of headphones on peoples heads. Fast-forward 2 years and the onslaught of Beats by Dr Dre gracing the heads of athletes and celebrities traveling has had a huge impact on the how people listen to music. Slowly the fad of the white ear buds are being replaced but brightly color headphones.

I’m glad to see that headphones are making their comeback, gaudy designs and all. I just can’t imaging a DJ in front of his MP3 mixer (smh) cranking out music. But we can’t all be DJ’s so when I see them on the train, bus, airport or walking down the street, I smile.  It lets me know that the person is serious about the sound of their music and recognize the difference in quality the two systems produce.

Not only is Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg (Skull Candy) endorsing headphones but also 50 Cent with SMS and Ludacris with Soul. Personal I think the team behind 50’s brand didn’t do their research or even a simple Google Search. Had they, it would’ve been immediately clear that the acronym SMS has been used in so many ways, most notable in relation to cell phone text messaging (Short Message Service) they would have chosen a better name.

Where all of these endorsements fail except Skull Candy is price point. When you’re setting the bar at $100, it suddenly becomes very costly to buy into their products. Especially since the most abundant material in their products is plastic. Anyone that has owned a pair of headphones of any price dreads that snapping sound. It’s the worse sound any headphones can make!  Second to that is the more silent wire short. That problematic, unfixable issue that has you twisting, rubber-banding and bending the wires just to correct a faulty speaker.

When it comes to which headphones to go with make sure you test them out first for the best sound. The artists themselves didn’t design or create these products but they did put their names on them so don’t let the name fool you.  They just want you to buy them because their name is on it and they get a check every time you do. No matter which way you go to enjoy your music make sure you buy that warranty if they offer it. A couple extra bucks right now could save a whole lot of heartache later.

We'll miss you Whitney

You might think it strange that I start off an article about Whitney Huston with a video about Biggie but there’s an important message there that’s universal:

“I would never wish death on nobody because they ain’t no coming back from that”

– Notorious B.I.G.

I always dreaded the day this would happen. Not because of the great loss to R&B but because I would be disgusted with the reactions of people. It seems that quite a few of our greatest can’t pass in glory; James Brown, Michael Jackson, Rick James, Tupac, Notorious B.I.G., Easy E, Big Pun, Left Eye, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. And just like them, if you look at any article on the internet referencing their deaths you will find many comments about how they should be dead or the problems they had while they were alive. Which brings me back to B.I.G.’s comment above that even with the strife he had with Tupac, there was still a respect for him when he died.

We all know about Whitney’s problems with drugs and her infamous interview where she made some comments about crack. What I find hypocritical is that many musicians boast about their drug habits and are praised for it. Many even make songs about. It always easier to condemn a person and make jokes for their faults than it is to help them with them. This has become one of the mantras of the world but most notably the hip hop generation. There’s a serious lack of support for the older generation in hip hop.

But let’s not get side tracked. Whitney went from singing at a gas station one day to singing on the worlds stage the next. She really was in the right place at the right time. I really hope that her legacy isn’t tarnished by the naysayers, jokers and disrespectful people looking to get a quick laugh. I don’t think it will matter much what I say so I will just have to let Whitney’s voice silence them herself. Good bye love…

 

Flexible Spirit

So the month of crunches is over and I got 60 crunches. One less than the beginning of the month but that’s ok. I excelled at the beginning of the month so 1 less isn’t that bad.

Now we move on to flexibility. I tried this position in the picture and it didn’t end pretty. I won’t be able to do it by the end of the month either but I can improve my flexibility. Tomorrow I will be administering my first test. It should be interesting.

Behind “in” music

I’ve come to know that I see things with different eyes than the rest of the world which often leads me to different conclusions than most people expect so when this video came across my screen I had to watch it a few times.

The first time I watched, I was curious to what they were trying to do. I listened and identified the songs:

  1. Family Affair – Mary J. Blige
  2. In Da Club – 50 Cent
  3. Lose Yourself – Eminem
  4. Hard Knock Life – Jay-Z
  5. Changes – Tupac

Simple enough. Next I watched again and did my usual color count. Not a black face in the whole video. That’s not exactly a bad thing nor is it a big deal, I just often take inventory of the things black people are doing but then it hit me, how many current black artists play instruments?

Sure there’s a somewhat long list: Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Jamie Foxx all play piano; QuestLove of The Roots plays the drums; Prince plays guitar and pretty much every produces uses a synthesizer. Miri Ben-Ari has labeled herself a “Hip Hop Violinists” which to me is just her capitalization on the music. Especially since very few in the genre actually play an instrument. This is one of the few genres where words matter more than sound.

Gone are the days of Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield and Isaac Hayes. Not because two of those guys are no longer with us. It’s because these guys knew how to compose music. They could take the sounds of the different instruments they could play and put them all together and make a song. That knowledge of music helped them create their great careers. That’s not to say that people today don’t make music, it’s just not made the same.

Instruments themselves are starting to become scarce in schools due to the funding of music programs being cut. School is often the place where people learn how to read music and play it with other instruments. Exposure to a variety of sounds people often shape the minds of people. This often the argument between home-school vs. traditional school. Not many people are skilled enough to properly teach music in the home. Pots, pans and buckets make nice pseudo-drums but they’re not a replacement.

The music behind many hip hop songs is rooted in actual instruments and not just synthesized sounds. Many use the samples of other songs but their sound often features a prominent instrument.  The instruments themselves add so much character to the song that they are like a second layer of lyrics and speak for themselves. They are so powerful that in some songs, featured below, they extended the music without the words to add to the mood.

As digital takes over, it will never take the place of the sound of instruments themselves no matter how well it can copy them. Hopefully those involves with hip hop culture won’t let instruments fall by the wayside for much longer or we will have a whole segment of the population without the skills and tools to make music should the lights go out other than a bucket.

Don Cornelius, you will definitely be missed

If you don’t know this man by name then you don’t know history. If you don’t know this man’s impact then you don’t know Hip Hop.

Don created one of the longest-running syndicated shows on TV, exposed many popular artists and dancers to the world and owned the rights to the Soul Train making him the first black owner of a nationally syndicated TV show.

We will miss you Don, and we will continue this hip trip knowing that you set the course.

An internet without Hip Hop

Note: This is the actual image

UPDATE: It appears that the link to the bill is very busy so you may have some trouble getting through today. You can either view the breakdown from Mashable or check out the Wikipedia article.

 

Imagine if you when can to this site that the lyrics on the right weren’t displayed.  Imagine if you went to SOHH and or HipHopDX they didn’t have a link to the latest song leak or video release.

What’s worse which is actually happening, imagine these sites didn’t tell you that there is a way that something like this could happen and you could prevent it.

There’s a bill being proposed (and yes you should read it all and understand it), which is being pushed by movie studios and the recording industry, that gives the government and law enforcement officials (read police) the right to shut down a site such as mine or anyone other, with notice or trial if it is suspected that they can link or have linked to copyrighted content.

Why is this bad? Because in many ways, this prevents the internet from being the sharing environment that it is. Yeah I know there are plenty of ways to illegally download songs and movies on the net but there are also legal ways to do it also do it.

If you want a breakdown of the bill you can check out Mashable or you favorite non-hip hop related news site. I say non-hip hop related because chances are pretty high that they will leave you ill-informed!

The Moving Exercise

house_move[1]I hope I never become one of those people who count calories in and calculate calories out (what you burn). I do however pay attention from time to time at the gym while on the machines but they are just rough estimates based on an average formula created by the manufacturer.

Yesterday I helped my mother move from a 3rd floor 2-bedroom apartment to another 3rd floor 2-bedroom apartment. If you’ve ever moved someone from the 3rd floor without the help of elevators you already know the fun I had. By the end of the day I was exhausted, covered in sweat and my muscles were sore.

This morning I thought to myself that this had to have been a great workout. The soreness I had this morning said so. But then I wondered how many calories I burned which was funny given how I began this post. I fired up my browser and a few clicks later I discovered the good folks at SparkPeople.com were on the job. They have a calculator to figure out roughly how much I burned.

The most work I had to do was figure out how many minutes the move took. With some simple math I estimated that it took me 360 minutes or 6 hours. After adding my weight into the mix, they told me that I burned a whopping 5,166 calories. I had to double-check my figures there again after seeing that number.

Granted it’s only an estimate, under normal circumstances I would think the number is lower but with the many trips up and down steps with heavy objects, sometimes twisting them to fit through doorways, I can see that as very accurate.

Before you start to wonder about my time or activity, the actual move took 8 hours including travel time. I took out 2 hours to account for travel (about 30 minutes each way with 2 trips) and rest time. I’m constantly in motion during a move and my rests usually consist of carrying a lighter object to get the move done but there are times when activity must fully stop so I can take a full break.

People are still on ringtones

For the record, a ringtone here is defined as a song or sound formatted specifically to play when a phone rings.

When I first looked at this I had mixed feelings. On the one hand, it was good that hip hop was the dominate genre but on the other hand I realized that the people who are buying ringtones may be those that are not as tech-savvy as they may think.

If you go back to my first statement, a ringtone is different than a song file. Many smartphones on the market today can play music files as a ringtone. The exception are the phones that play either polyphonic or midi files. If your phone can play music files chances are it doesn’t play one of these older music format files.

So this begs the question, are people that are buying ringtones being ripped-off? I’d say so. Advertisers are quick to push a commercial telling you to text some code to some number to download a ringtone and there are plenty of website offering the same. The unknown fact in this survey is the age of the buyer. I wonder if the people that buy ringtones are either teens or 36+. Why those ages? Well teens like conveniences and the 36+ group aren’t as tech-savvy as their younger counter parts.

Ringtones

Back again

That’s right I’m back! In the time off I’ve made some changes around here.  First you’ll notice the site looks a little different. I’ve switched to WordPress  from BlogEngine.net (for those of you that care or know the difference) because of upgrading issues on the backend. I’m a software programmer by trade so I’m more comfortable with the technology behind BE but WP is offering me a better choice in terms of getting posts out there from my phone. So now I’m picking up a new skillset!

With the new platform came a new layout which is always nice to switch up every now and then if need be.

I’m still in the process of converting everything over and feeling my way around WordPress so there may be a few issues here and there but I’ll have them ironed out soon enough. For now, have a look around and get ready for new things to come.