KANYE WEST’S GRADUATION….10 YEARS LATER (AND WEEK 2 NFL PICKS)

FullSizeRender 16

I read it earlier this week, but it just hit me for real that Graduation dropped 10 years ago.  I still remember a few days after the album dropped, my friends and I were all outside of my old house where I grew up.  I remember I couldn’t wait to play the album for everyone.  Of note, for the kids reading this….CD’s or compact discs, were still a thing 10 years ago and there was a place called HMV where people went to buy their music.  Anyways, after getting back from HMV,  I swear we played the song “I Wonder” for about an hour straight.  And whenever the beat broke down right around the last 45 seconds of the song, someone would jump in and start freestyling (shouts to Trins btw #BARS).  Again this continued for a solid hour, people would walk by and ask if we were ok because we seemed so “haunted” and in the moment.  But we were just having fun. Some people won’t understand this and trust me I get it.  But that was a moment in time for me.  I can remember exactly who was there, what we were wearing and just the amazing vibe that we were all on.

Here’s the thing, Graduation was one more step in Kanye’s role in taking hip hop to the mainstream and beyond.  It wasn’t gonna be boxed in by a genre.  The album was smashing into popular music and culture.  If “Stronger” dominated top 40 stations, then “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” was the club banger.  The album had hits for every situation.  Heck, there still might not be a better alarm clock than “Good Morning”.  And in fact a few weeks after the album dropped, I remember using “Flashing Lights” and “I Wonder” for a Terrell Owens vs Randy Moss feature that I was producing at the time.  It was one of my early hits (if I do say so myself) and I’ll never forget that feeling of having a concept, following through and seeing the finished product on national television.  I wish I could fully explain the feeling of “oh shit, I can do this and not only that….but I can do this really REALLY WELL”.  I hadn’t really seen something like that on Canadian television and it made me feel good to know that “I did that”.

To be honest Graduation was more than just an album.  I felt it.  We felt it.  It was culture. Now our culture, was popular culture.  This is peak Kanye, but also peak culture.  He was still hungry and we were still hungry to show that we can’t be boxed in, but also, that we belong.  This album didn’t sound like other hip hop albums at the time, but it also didn’t sound like other pop music either. It was just Kanye.  And with each and every passing song, what you were listening to changed.  The beats always banged, but it seemed to soothe another part of your ear drum.   The way that he was able to flip a soulful sample and “Talk My Shit Again…” on “The Glory” and then follow that up with Chris Martin just killing it on a piano for “Homecoming”, is nothing short of musical genius.  This album has multiple levels of hits.  And I didn’t even mention his shout out to Jay on “Big Brother”.  I mean, I’m not sure if this is Kanye’s best work, but to me its importance to the culture can’t be denied.  Because every time you were going to try and define him, Ye’ was already flipping the script to break new ground.  We related to the chip on his shoulder (or as Jay said “more like a brick or a boulder”) and it felt like ‘Ye was proving that hip hop was more than just music.  Again, it was culture. He was speaking to a generation and telling them to find their dreams at the exact same time that  I was ready to prove that I belonged in my career as well.  This might sound cliche to you and that’s ok…because I know there’s generation like me that knows exactly what its like to scream out “WAIT TILL I GET MY MONEY RIGHT” while you’re still in public housing and then “YOU CAN’T TELL ME NOTHING RIGHT” after you busted your ass to get to places that few thought were possible.  And looking back and laughing with that same Jeezy ad lib that so cleverly punctuates that song.  That brash, in your face attitude, that deep down you know is drenched in insecurity, is what a lot of us are forced to use as a shield when you “graduate” into rooms where few look like you, sound like you or come from where you come from.  And that’s what made the album so real.  The whole way through it feels as if Kanye is taking you on a journey to success.  By the time you get to song 5 (YES, only song 5) and T-Pain absolutely murders the hook on “Good Life”, the sounds of success blasting through your speakers no longer sound aspirational, but more celebratory.  No longer are you hoping or dreaming, but you know, whether it’s foolish pride or not, you know that you will make it….regardless of your circumstances.  Graduation wasn’t the first or last album to tell us that we can do anything, but it was the first one for me anyways, that was unapologetically different in doing so.  There were so many different sounds on the album that it was unfair to just look at it as a hip hop album.  Having Daft Punk and the lead singer of Coldplay is going to force the mainstream to pay attention.  But to hold and then dominate that attention span on every other track (minus Drunken Hot Girls) ….is a whole different ballgame.   And that’s what Kanye did with Graduation.  It would still be a few more years before Ye boasted to Zane Lowe “We culture.  Rap is the new rock ‘n roll.”  and to me Graduation was the beginning of that culture shift.

IMG_2569

For those of you not old enough to remember, Kanye’s backpack and pink polos were the opposite of hip hop culture at the time.  But without Ye, do we get Cam’s pink fur or Lil Wayne’s skater chains or whatever the heck Migos/Lil Uzi/Travis Scott and them young  boys are wearing these days?  I don’t think so.  Without the soulful sounds of Kanye melding rap and r&b and soul and trap and dance and you get the point….does Drake have the same superstar career he has now?  I don’t think so.  To me Graduation’s affect on culture is undeniable.  But maybe more important 10 years later, is the Kanye effect on a generation of kids who grew up to realize that its ok to not fit in, especially when dealing with “a room full of no’s”.  To follow your passion and know that above all, great content will always win.

I started writing this earlier this week, but didn’t know if I would finish it.  Then I got on a plane for a friend’s wedding and now I’m sitting here at this super BALLIN resort.  And it hit me, we made it.  For the last 10 years I’ve gotten to interview and produce features on the biggest names in sports for a national television station.  I’ve gotten to travel and see things that I still can’t really even believe.  But more importantly, I moved my family out of that same public housing unit where we first sat there bumping:

“And I wonder, if you know what it means to find your dreams.”

Trust me I don’t say any of this to brag, because there’s really nothing to brag about.  My money is definitely not “Right”, but I do ok.  I guess more so figuring out that “having money’s not everything, not having it is” and so I’m good #TPainVoice.  Overall, I’m still the same kid from unit 43, with my same crew cracking the same stupid jokes, but now in different locations.  My only goal in this is to pass along a story of being inspired by someone creatively and then believing in yourself to do the same in your own individual way.  Am I exactly where I wanna be, no not at all.  As I said, I’ve been doing features behind the scenes for 10 years and so I know there’s so many more levels to get to and I know I can do it.   But, I didn’t always think that way….and every time I hear one of the songs off of Graduation, it takes me back to that moment in time of sitting outside my old house and hearing “You could still be who you wish you is/It ain’t happened yet and that’s what intuition is”.  Hopefully at least one of the 5 people that end up reading this, understands where I’m coming from and if not that’s cool but in the meantime I’m gonna head back to the beach to enjoy some more of this “Good Life”….

As always, just my thoughts.  Right or wrong, just how I’m feeling at the time.

Don’t worry, I know I promised NFL Picks (HOME TEAM IN CAPS)

Texans +6 over BENGALS (#OnBlast Instagram pick)

May we never see Macho Man Tom Savage ever again.  Also is Deshaun Watson really dating Mia Khalifah? Don’t forget to check my instagram page for all of my Thursday night football picks (https://www.instagram.com/sheldonalexander/)

COLTS +7.5 over Cardinals

PANTHERS -7 over Bills

BUCS -5.5 over BEARS

RAVENS -7.5 over Browns

Vikings +7 over STEELERS

Patriots -6 over SAINTS

CHIEFS -5.5 over Eagles

Titans -1.5 over JAGS

CHARGERS -3.5 over Dolphins

RAIDERS -13 over Jets

Cowboys -2.5 over BRONCOS

Niners +14 over SEAHAWKS

RAMS -2.5 over Washington

FALCONS -2.5 over Packers

Lions +3 over GIANTS

#HappySchmoneyDancing

LAST WEEK: 4-11

THIS WEEK: 1-0

OVERALL: 5-11

@ShelAlexander

 

 

 

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

YOU KILLED IT EP 31: NOT A FUN EPISODE

Sheldon and John discuss the delicate topic of race in the wake of Camilla’s insensitive comments to Leroy on the latest episode of The Challenge: Dirty XXX.Follow us on Twitter:@ShelAlexander@jchidleyhillMTVThe ChallengeReal WorldAre You The One?Road RulesCamila NakagawaLeroy Garrett
Tagged , , , , ,

WEEK 1 NFL FIX

IMG_2782

Welcome back friends.  If you’re reading this, then you’re probably like me and have been wishing for the NFL season to come back ever since the Jays got off to a 2-11 start. It’s ok, it was a good two year run Jays fans and hopefully it doesn’t take another 20 plus years to get back to the post season.  But saying goodbye to the Jays means hello NFL season and boy did things start off with a BANG.  The Patriots who were 8 point favourites and yes I did take the PATRIOTS -8 over Chiefs (Reminder: You can see my Thursday night picks each week on my Instagram page @sheldonalexander https://www.instagram.com/sheldonalexander/)

But yes I took the Patriots despite thinking it was way too many points.  The Chiefs always play the Pats tough.  They rarely turn the ball over, their defence is solid and I overall think the Chiefs are actually a pretty good team.  We forget, but they finished last season 12-4, they’re legit.  BUT…..out of respect to Brady Da GAWD coming back from a 28-3 Super Bowl deficit (and winning me a lot of money in the process) I had to ride with Brady and Belihick…especially when they’re up against Alex Smith and Andy Reid.   What I wasn’t ready for was the absolute takeover by Tyreek Hill (133 rec yds & TD) and rookie Kareem Hunt (98 rec yds, 148 rush yds and 3 TDs).   Hunt’s debut was so amazing that he should land a role on the next season of Power to help out Ghost’s son Tariq….cause that’s the Tariq/Tyreek that really REALLY needs the help right now.

But back to the game and first things first…NEVER OVERREACT TO WEEK ONE OF AN NFL SEASON.  Today will be filled with the hottest of takes on Tom Brady being old, Alex Smith actually being good?  Has Belichick lost his touch etc.  But don’t fall for it.  After a summer filled with “going undefeated” talk and a massive celebration and MASSIVE trolling going on ahead of last nights game…

Maybe just maybe losing the opener isn’t necessarily such a bad thing.  Plus again, the Chiefs might be really good (as long as Alex Smith doesn’t kill them).  But sticking with the Pats, they got banged up last night with injuries, but I’m sure they’ll be fine in the good ole AFC East.  But maybe they should chill on the trolling….I mean.. .did you know about this, according to SI.com:

“In advance of the NFL season opener, Barstool Sports spent $140,000 for 70,000 rally towels, printed with an image of Goodell’s face with a clown nose, originally a t-shirt design popularized by Barstool during the height of the Deflategate controversy…On Wednesday Barstool gave out 60,000 of the towels to volunteers to distribute to other fans. The remaining 10,000 will be handed out from Barstool’s RV at a car dealership near the stadium but off of Patriots property. Barstool is calling the stunt #OperationClownFace.”

Well that was pregame…and this was the head of Barstool Sports postgame.  My dude was crying….like actual tears.

On to the rest of the games….well sort of….

Bucs @ DOLPHINS – POSTPONED

Due to Hurricane Irma, this game has been moved to week 11 which happens to be a bye week for both teams.  This means both the Bucs and Dolphins will have the utterly ridiculous task of playing NFL games for 16 straight weeks, something that didn’t sit well with defensive tackle Chris Baker

Speaking of Miami, did you know Derek Jeter is now a part owner of the Miami Marlins? He put in $25 million (reportedly not all of this was his own money) of the total $1.2 billion deal.  But as a part of the deal he’s gonna pay himself $5 million a year and gets a company credit card.  Now that my friends… IS GANGSTER.  And oh yeah, Mrs Jeter isn’t doing to bad either.

To quote my boy Glenny J, Derek Jeter is #WinningAtLife

Cardinals -2 over LIONS

Matthew Stafford is now the highest paid player in the NFL.  Let that one sink in.  How many QB’s in the NFL would you rather have right now than Matthew Stafford?  I’ll wait…..

Ok for me, in no particular order 1) Brady 2) Rodgers 3) Brees 4) Big Ben 5) Luck 6) Cam 7) Carr 8) Eli 9) Matt Ryan 10) Russ 11) Rivers and that’s before taking a flyer on young bucks like Mariota or Famous Jaimeis.  Again, that’s not in order but the point remains, HOW CAN YOU JUSTIFY PAYING HIM MORE MONEY THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE ENTIRE NFL WHEN HE’S NOT EVEN TOP TEN AT HIS OWN POSITION?!?!?!

That’s just bad juju.  Plus they were so lucky last year to win 8 games when trailing in the fourth quarter.  I just don’t see how it’s possible for them to pull that off again.  Meanwhile, the Cards run the ball and play D.  As long as Carson Palmer doesn’t mess things up, they should be all good.

Falcons -7 over BEARS

Can Matt Ryan live up to his numbers from last year, especially while swapping Kyle Shanahan for Steve Sarkisian?  Not sure they’ll have to worry too much about week one, as the Bears will be starting Mike Glennon….for now….cause we all know Mitch Trubisky is waiting in the wings like Marlo Stanfield was waiting for Avon and Stringer to mess up.  If you don’t get that reference, then we can’t be friends.  Times must be tough though in Chicago, because Cubs Catcher Willson Contreras is out here trying to holler at former porn star Mia Khalifa and proving this age old theory “When men are thirsty, they drink dirty water”

#TheThirstIsTooReal but this is something we should note from Deadspin:

“A spokesperson for Octagon Baseball, the agency that represents Contreras, claims that his “twitter account was hacked.” They are working to resolve the matter.”

BENGALS -3 over Ravens

So these teams will open and close the season against each other.  But is it just me or does every game between the Bengals, Ravens and Steelers include a 3 point spread?  Normally I’d take the points….but the Ravens are starting Joe Flacco who missed the entire preseason with a back injury and might be one hit away from Ray Lewis once again having to get in front of a camera to explain why Baltimore signed another QB not named Colin Kaepernick.  This whole saga is so ridiculous. The concept of the Ravens Owner wanting to hear from Kaepernick himself that he wanted to play football is beyond stupid, no?  As I said earlier this week on twitter…

TEXANS -5.5 over Jags

Tom Savage vs Blake Bortles.  I’m really not going to spend too much time on this match up.  But I will say shout out to JJ Watt for everything he’s done to raise money for those affected by Hurricane Harvey.  Now, I’m not the first or the last one to say this.  But just remember this situation the next time you tell an athlete to “Stick to Sports”.

Jets +8 over BILLS

I will not spend a second watching this game.  The Bills suck, but so do the Jets.  So I’ll always take the points especially when it’s more than a TD.  Tyrod Taylor being in the line up doesn’t make much of a difference to me and shouldn’t to anyone else other than Bills fans.   But just a reminder….these are Bills fans.

#BillsMafia

Raiders +2 over TITANS  

Watch out for the Titans this season. They were super sneaky last year.  Plus another year of development from Marcus Mariota had me thinking about taking the Titans over a Raiders team that might still be living off of last season’s hype.  Then I saw this video and thought, how am I gonna go against Beast Mode in week one? #ILikeChicken

WASHINGTON +1 over Eagles

A lot of turnover in Philly and they ended last season on a slide.  For Washington, its another year with Mr. Franchise Tag himself Kirk Cousins…and while I still don’t like that…if Cousins needed any more motivation this year, he should look at Matthew Stafford and his brand spanking new $135 million contract.  That would put Cousins in the elite company of other Chocolate City stars like Bryce Harper who got a new hairdo this week.

Bryce Harper rocking cornrows… OK #JayZVoice What do you think? (📷bharper3407 | Instagram Story)

A post shared by Sheldon Alexander (@sheldonalexander) on

And another one…. #BryceHaperHasCornrows (📷bharper3407 | Instagram Story)

A post shared by Sheldon Alexander (@sheldonalexander) on

And John Wall, who had a little too much fun at the expense of comedian Lil Duval at a charity basketball game.

Steelers -9 over BROWNS

Gotta fade the Browns anytime they’re getting less than 10 points. And it’s not because this incarnation of the Cleveland Browns are 1-17 in week one games.  It’s not because the Browns have started at least 3 different QB’s in each of the last four seasons.  I’m actually very confident in taking the Steelers to win by 9 because Le’Veon Bell is back and I’m pretty sure it’s because he showed off his ability to spit the hottest of fire

RAMS -3.5 over Colts

Scott Tolzien vs Jarred Goff, aren’t you glad the NFL is back?  I think the Colts are hot lava trash even with Andrew Luck….so good luck with Mr. Tolzien.  Side note, are we sure both of these “starting” QB’s are actually better than Colin Kaepernick?  Asking for a friend.  This game will suck, but LA fans fear not…there’s a new star in town that will no doubt entertain #BallInTheFamily

NINERS +5.5 over Panthers

I can see Killa Cam and the Panthers having a bounce back year.  Are they as good as their 15-1 NFC Championship season 2 years ago? No.  Are they as bad as their 6-10 season last year? No.  They’re probably somewhere in the middle and desperately need Luke Kuechly to stay healthy, as well as Christian McCaffrey to be as good as advertised.  Panthers win, Niners cover because they won’t be nearly as bad as we think.  Also shout out to Cam Newton’s brother Caylin, who is a freshman quarterback at Howard University.  In his first game, Caylin led his team to the largest upset in college football history, beating UNLV 43-40 as a 45-point underdog.  Read that again….A 45-POINT UNDERDOG WON A GAME.  Haters will say Vegas did something shady because UNLV is involved….but say let Howard live.

Seahawks +3 over PACKERS

This is the best game of week one.  I wouldn’t be surprised if these two teams met up in the NFC Championship game.  So that means this game could go a long way in having home field advantage with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line.  I’m taking the Seahawks because of their D and because Russell Wilson should finally be healthy after battling through injuries all last season.  And I’m going to pretend as if I’ve never seen this photo before…. C’Mon Russ…LOL

To more serious matters.  And it should go without saying, but I’m squarely on team Michael Bennett the same way I was on team Kaep last year.  I’m not going to get into all of the details, but if you watch this clip and still don’t feel for this guy…then I don’t know what to tell you.

COWBOYS – 4 over Giants

I think Odell is going to play, I just can’t see him missing the stage of Sunday night football, week one, against the Cowboys.  No, he shouldn’t be the highest paid player in the league, but he is an absolute BEAST.  Dallas on the other hand, needs to get their fill of Zeke now, because who knows what’s going to happen with his suspension.   So he needs to COOK while he can.  With that said, I would love to know how other NFL players feel about their union defending Zeke in a domestic violence case.  I’d bet more than few have to feel at least a little bit slimy about it no?  I know I would.

Saints +3.5 over VIKINGS

Shout out to Adrian Peterson, but I’m not taking the points because of him.  I’m taking points because it’s Drew Brees versus Sam Bradford….plain and simple.

Chargers +3.5 over BRONCOS  

How much does Phil Rivers have left in the tank?  Hopefully enough to once again give us our weekly tradition of the Chargers being on a last second drive to cover the spread…

Man I’ve missed you NFL…. #HappyShmoneyDancing

@ShelAlexander

#OnBlast

This Year: 0-1

Last Reg. Season: 120-110-10

Playoffs: 5-6

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

YOU KILLED IT EP 30: GET THEM BEFORE YOU GET GOT

Finally, we are at the fireworks factory. John and Sheldon break down the much anticipated episode of The Challenge where Cory gets eliminated and Camilla and Tony share an intimate moment in the back of the bus. John talks about how Johnny Bananas is a master of game theory, Sheldon advocates for Are You The One? and, of course, the boys choose their MVPs for the week.

Follow us on Twitter:
@ShelAlexander
@jchidleyhill

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

YOU KILLED IT EP 29: I’m lucky if I can recognize the flag of the United States of America!

The boys break down the latest episode of The Challenge: Dirty 30, including John discussing Ammo’s PTSD, Sheldon accusing Johnny Bananas of throwing a competition, and both speaking about the politics of having sex with someone while your roommate is in the next bed.

Follow us on Twitter:
@ShelAlexander
@jchidleyhill

Tagged , , , , , , ,