Tuesday, October 27, 2009



First time I heard Last Emp, believe it or not, was on Lubbock radio...the late KTXT to be exact. It was about 10:45 on a Thursday night and I just finished playing a softball game and was making my way home. Thursday night was hip hop night on KTXT and Wil was telling me that I needed to tune in. So, on my drive home, I turned it over to KTXT and the very first thing I heard was "Rap Tyranny" splitting the silence. In many ways, from the very first line, it split much of the monotony I had been dealing with. Back in 1999, Rawkus was reaching veteran status and, although we didn't yet know it, was soon to dim. Everyone was stretching to achieve that realness, that cred. Everyone wanted to be around at the beginning. Everyone wanted to be down with the surging independent scene and it was a rat race for heads to pronounce themselves to be more underground than the next. In many ways, I was the same way.

But "Rap Tyranny" obliterated all of that. It was perfection in a hip hop track and from the first time I heard it, I was reminded that one's perception of me meant much less than just listening to what I liked. And liking what I like. I didn't need anyone's validation by saying, "Yes, you're correct. That's good." I know what I like and I know what I don't like. I don't need a magazine to tell me what's good. I don't need MTV. I don't need writers. I don't need that mixtape friend. I don't need radio. I don't need iTunes. I don't need Hip Hop Connection. It just took a chance moment on a KTXT broadcast and I said, "Yep, that's it."

"Rap Tyranny" is a ferocious sub-three minute party jam that shakes its ass harder than almost anything out there. Two verses and one chorus is all it takes for Philly's finest, Last Emperor, to slay heads.

"Subjects and predicates / Proper mic etiquette / All beef, I'm deadin' it / Hip-Hop confederate Face me, you better get / High priest and Jesuits / Against the Emp your attempts will seem effortless / I make the girls wanna kick their heels up / Klingon warships throw their shields up / Rippin' the reels up Wounds never heal up / Mad Soul controls the razor-sharp steel cuts."

Add to it the Commodores' "Assembly Line" break and what you have is an resurrective and downright anthemic b-boy classic. While Last Emp would fade in the post-2000 hip hop landscape, "Rap Tyranny" is as sturdy as hip hop songs come and will, undoubtedly, withstand the test of time. And this thing was a freaking b-side! They just don't make 'em like they used to...back in 1999. Oh, those were the days.

And as good as "Rap Tyranny" is, it's still only #28 on this list. Just wait, kiddies.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


With the early and fitting exit of the Red Sox from the 2009 postseason, it really dawned on me that all of this Red Sox-this, Red Sox-that bandwagoning from the last seven or so years has finally corrected itself. The Sox just didn't have it this year. Hurt by underperformance of key players, poor free agent acquisitions and riddled by key injuries all year, the Sox were only in a position to surprise, but not win it all. As they began the year full-throttle, the Yanks struggled, but we knew that with all that money invested, in time that team would perform. Their second half would be unstoppable. The happy moronic A-Rod would return with his arms wide open like some messianic Scott Stapp characterture. His goofy equine-like gallop, Miami-Beach highlights and doh-faced interviews. Ah, heeeeeee's baaaaaaaaaack.

Back is the Derek Jeter fist. I mean, nothing says Yankee victory like the trademark iron fist. Little Boy Wonder even set the all-time Yankee hit record solidifying his position as a "true Yankee." Whatta laughable notion. He's not a "true Yankee." He'll never be a "true Yankee." You can't be a "true Yankee" without winning a championship. Whatever. Guess Don Mattingly will never be a "true Yankee." Anyhow, probably no questioning Derek's greatness when he was collecting championships like postage stamps back at the end of last century. There in their third longest drought without a championship in the history of the Yankees. What if they don't win this year? How long can Yankee fans live without a championship before they start jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge? 12 years? Less?

Thank goodness they're back, though. I'm tired of all this Red Sox hate. They love you one year, they hate you the next. I would just prefer indifference. Back when the fans adored them and no one else cared. No one else cared because everyone was too busy loving or hating the Yankees. This year kinda reset the AL East. The Orioles were back to the basement. The Jays were the potential upset north of the Border. The Rays were good, but not good enough. The Sox chased first all year and swiped the Wild Card and the Yankees ran away with the division and are likely to take it all. Probably without losing a single game.

Then there's Joe Girardi who goes from babbling new guy to quiet and confident mob boss putting hits on squealers. He's like Torre's mini-me. Sitting there with his arms crossed, subtly singling runners, looking just below the brim of his cap. He's like a character actor who just does it by imitation. And, really, is coaching a team that has more all stars than entire divisions combined truly that difficult? Don't you just kinda sit around and think, "Damn, this job is pretty easy." Anyhow, good job Joe Torre, er, Girardi. The only hard part of your job is wiping ol' man Georgie's backend after his monthly bowel movement. Okay, sorry, that was below the belt. Literally.

Then, there's this guy. Like the guy who showed up at the party at the very last second and didn't bring any beer but just drank everyone elses. I mean, in the true spirit of excess, adding Marky Mark and the Money Bunch to a line up that already included A-Roid, Gehrig Jr., Captain Clean Shaven and Godzilla seemed a little unnecessary, but remember, it's just about getting what the rest of the division (i.e. the Red Sox) can't.
Not that the Sox didn't want him. I mean, who wouldn't want this guy.

Then there's Nick Swisher. The fun-loving nucleus who sticks his tongue out and toggles between either a "hang ten" or devil horns. Keep it loose, have fun. Act like a moron. Work on a few new handshakes. High five the crowd. Work that "he loves the game" schtick. It worked in 2004.

Uh, whatever.
Yeah, then there's "act like you've been there before" Justin Chamberlain. He's a starter, he's a reliever, he's a starter, he's a reliever. Who cares. He's neither. He strikes out five and then blows a lead. He's the guy who pumps his fists like he's never struck out a .300 hitter before and has all those reel-ready huffs and puffs, poses and finger points to the heavens like he just wants his spot in the Sportscenter intro or SI cover. Someone give this dude his own sneaker and give him what he wants. Any tool who tells a cop after getting thrown into the back of a squad car for suspicion of DWI, "You know I play for the Yankees, right?" loves his place in this world a little too much.

And then there's Sabathia and Burnett. How do you fortify a pitching staff? Well, not only do you go out and get the most expensive pitcher on the market that no one can afford, you snag two of the most expensive pitchers on the market that no one can afford. Sabathia plays with such a fake zeal and wonderment like, really dude, did you expect anything less to happen? Stop screaming when you get out of a pinch and don't worry, you're gonna win a championship. Trust me. If you need any reassurance, just go into the locker room and read the names on top of the lockers and stop all your fist pumping and crazy mound antics. You've reached the promised land. Congrats. It's much easier here than it was in Cleveland. Just throw it on cruise and take a nap. Your ring will arrive in April.

Thank you, Yankees. For finally stepping up your game and rising back to the top of the East. Now the Sox can return quietly to number two and stop playing this spend-your-way-to-the-top game of Monopoly. For the Sox, the future's in the farm system. Make the right purchases. Win the easy ones and half of the hard ones and pitching, pitching, pitching. Just nice that we once again wear our hat with pride in the organization and not have to deal with the lame "Sox suck" comments around every corner. The Yankees now can own that hate again.

In the meantime, the Red Raiders once again rolled into Lincoln, Nebraska and rocked the Huskers who were #15 in the nation, 31-10. Longhorns squeaked out a win against the Bradford-less Sooners. Oh well. Guess Oklahoma really is good for nothing. Oh yeah, the Cowboys of Stillwater gotta good team. Should be the next biggie to fall when they face the Raiders in Stillwater in a few weeks. Might have tickets to the Raiders and Sooners in Lubbock. Would love to see the Raiders toss Bradford on that shoulder again. Have a speedy recovery, Sammy, we need you to play in Lubbock.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


Oh yeah, I was training for a marathon. Still doing that. Knocked out my 12-miler at 5:00 on a Wednesday morning. I say things like that, sometimes, just to exert some sense of superiority. Truth is that I'm not really any better than you. I just enjoy doing stupid things to my body. We're gonna start calling this TEAM BEARD because I have the most righteous Forrest Gump face apron right now.
(pause for gulp off a Santa Fe Pale Ale...goodness)
Plan is to knock it back once more this weekend and then let it shag all the way until race day and shave the night before. It's col' nasty right now.
Training is going well. Well, it's going better. Tuesday night, after returning from Juarez, I took to a six miler and ended up straining my foot. It hurt so bad, I had to stop and rub the foot. It felt like someone drove a nail through the top of my foot. We legged out the rest of it, but only ended up totalling four miles. It was a horrible attempt. This was near a week after my last run. My mind was eager, but my body was unwilling.
Tonight went much better. It was a reassuring run, to say the least. The foot ached a little, but recovered by the second mile. By mile three, my foot pains were a thing of the past. Kool Aid made the run. It's been too long since we've had a good run together. Looks like most of our scheduling problems are starting to iron themselves out. We'll do 14 on Saturday morning. For those scoring at home, that's a half marathon. Jury's still out on the new shoes. First run out in them, I had foot pains. Not a good start to our relationship. Still have probably 60-75 miles in my Lunarlite trainers.
Ran to White Stripes tonight. Rare that I don't run to hip hop. White Stripes hit the spot.
I ain't no friend hoarder on Facebook. I really only let the best in.
Still don't like Dodge Neons and, yes, hip hop is dying. I don't even connect with the music anymore. Either I'm getting old or the music just sucks. I was at Enterprise renting a car the other day and this girl was all meanmugging and working her best ruffneck look. Her phone rang. It was some rump-shakin' mess that you hear on the radio. She showed the girl at the desk her identification and she was 16 years old. Girl was born in 1993. Girl wasn't even born until the end of the Golden Age. By the time she could even understand the music and it's context, Big Daddy Kane was getting lifetime achievement awards by the armful and Grand Puba was slinging another solo record on Koch. Girl's whole style is the art of imitation. She doesn't even know what she's reppin'. Like Jeru said...she play'd herself.
Left the country and the Red Sox were in the playoffs. Came back and they were out. That was quick enough. At least I didn't have to suffer through it. Knew that it would be a string of miracles if the Sox were to make a serious run at the title. I mean, really, I don't think anyone's making it past the Yankees. They went out and bought the talent. I might disagree with it, but seems to be working for them. Here's to the Angels. They got their work cut out for them.
Listening to Gang Starr's Daily Operation. It always tends to put me in a nostalgic mood.
So, I went to Juarez to build a house. Went with 10 others from my church including my lovely wife. Truly a hardhitting experience. Our Missions Committee gets hit alot with comments like "we have enough people at need right here in Texas, why must you go all the way to Mexico?" Trust me, after seeing it firsthand, it's tenfold once you cross the border. And, as my brother said, "God didn't create borders. We did." Juarez needs some serious help.

Time has cured many of my right wing tendencies, but I grew up in the panhandle of Texas. You're brought up going fo 'self. Helping out Mexico? Really? C'mon. We got our own problems. And most of our problems are because of them. Just keep them out. That's the Texas way. Build a huge ass fence by a river and just dare them to cross.

Here's a few facts. In Juarez, guns are illegal. With guns being illegal, where do you think they're getting them? Bingo. Estados Unidos. In fact, they make really good trade bait for drogas. Yep. Cocaine. Heroin. Marijuana. It's Mexico's biggest export and we're their biggest client. We're locked into a long-term relationship with Mexico where one societal ill feeds another. We allow them quicker kills and, well, their love is mutual. They ship a million more drug habits into the States a week. Do the knowledge, kid.

Also, in Mexico, public education runs out at the young age of 12. Then you gotta pay for it. So what happens when you're a young tike in a family of seven and your parents make only $110 combined weekly? Think you're going to get secondary education? Nah. You learn how to say your ABCs, subtraction and how to wipe your butt and then you're sent to fend for yourself. That's a sixth grade education. How much did you know when you left sixth grade? Maybe you knew the rules to kick ball. That was probably about it.

And, while the druglords are no longer ruling the streets, it's federales...about ten deep in the back of a Humvee with AK47s slung over their shoulder...and they look no older than 18 most of them. The border crossing was an absolute bummer. They made us unload our entire trailer and open up everything so they could see all of our possessions. It took about an hour thirty to make into the country. Then, you drive around Juarez and you think this is what you're protecting?

Really, Juarez is about as harsh of elements as you'll find. Not only is the poverty widespread and clearly indiscriminate, it's much worse than the States. Our poverty line is still supported by a number of government programs. In fact, the poverty line still affords minimal urban living--walls, air conditioning, a furnace, hot water. That "poverty" in Juarez is like middle class.

We helped a family of seven. Two adults raising five kids...two of which were dumped on them by the mother's sister as she fled town. She's raising them in a house no bigger than a single-stall garage made out of pallets, corrugated cardboard and computer boxes. You could see sunlight through the walls, the floor was dirt and it was built, basically, amidst a junkyard. Rabid dogs ruled the land. That and the relentless sunlight. The weather was cooler, but one could only imagine what the summers are like in that desert land. With only an annual rainfall of nine inches and wind like you can't imagine.

I met a young kid named Francisco. The lone boy in the bunch. He was a spirited kid, but obviously lacking options and experience. He'd mount a horse, beat the crap out of it, the chase a dog or a chicken. He was just rotting away on this land. It's a harsh reality. I can't even imagine waking up every morning to it. No mobility. No job. No change. No connection to the outside world. I brought with me a futbol americana (the more oval-shaped football), but he wasn't so interested. He wanted to play futbol. The round kind. I gave it my best. You could tell he was so eager for stimulation. Made me think about how sometimes I yearn to not have stimulation. I like just doing nothing...well, doing nothing but running. But that's how I get away now. I run from stimulation. Here this kid's out there with me kicking a futbol back and forth like he's been waiting years for someone to come and do this with him.

We built the house quickly. We actual slowed down to make it last and to spend more time with the family. It was all adults because no one wants to send their kids to Juarez anymore. Better for productivity, though. Learned how to make stucco. Not sure what kinda market there is, but think that if the music industry implodes and everything's free, I can always stucco houses.

Met some nice folks for Casas por Cristo. Good organization. Good folks. Whaddup, Brandon. Whaddup, El Tigre.

On the third day, the mother made us "pork." Turns out it was really goat. It was goodness, though. Spicier than the nutsack on a habenero, but it was good.

We left for the border on Monday morning. Never been so happy to be in El Paso. Amazing that, just a half mile north, it's a third world country. It's like night and day. Not only do mission trips to Juarez benefit the participant on a spiritual level, but there's a number of social and political questions that rise to the surface from such a trip. Is our neighbor Juarez also our enemy? Do we help our enemy or just let them suffer on their own just next door? I wonder if the crime rate in El Paso would be where it was if that was, say, Vancouver on the other side. Funny how we waited close to an hour and a half going into Mexico as they checked everything we were bringing in yet to the north, you can barely break speed crossing the Canadian border.

Juarez needs help. That's all I'll say. Don't know who reading this will take action, but guess there's no harm in just saying it.

Jackson hurt his back left leg. Not sure doing what. I think he was trying to dunk on an 8-foot rim and had adviced him that he wasn't gonna land it. Anyhow, confining a beagle to a "crate-like" atmosphere is proving to be challenging. Not because he's trying to escape, but he just tries to sadden you into action.

Tucker, however, is just a bundle of joy. Really because he's too stupid to know any better. That's why I like him.

I sold that Juarez experience really short. Mainly because I'm tired and need to go to bed. I hate going so long without posting, but broham's busy living. Hope you are too. My nephew Parker's celebrating his big number two next weekend. He's the bestest. And he's a big 2Pac fan. In fact, dude's more than a fan.

Friday, homie. Tomorrow, I'll run 14 miles and then pack back some serious Sharkey's burritos, then a nap, then some Texas Tech football as they'll knock off the Nebraska Cornhuskers.

I miss all of you.