Search This Blog

Friday, May 14, 2010

Mixtape of the week - B.o.B. & Wale - Leaders of the New Kool

B.o.B aka Bobby Ray and Wale represent two of the newest stars in Hip-Hop. They also represent two of the leaders in the new Hip-Hop movement. With the explosion of the mixtape as an almost mainstream medium for music, much of the focus in some of these new songs has gone away from money, women, sex, and power, and focused more on lyrics, roots, meaning, and style. While the radio hits are still around (songs produced for one thing: radio play), the likes of Wale, Lupe Fiasco and B.o.B. have sought to bring a new flavor to the hip-hop community.

The release of Leaders of the New Kool shows the progression that they are aiming for. Here is a sample called Past My Shades from B.o.B ft. Lupe Fiasco:

The laid back lyrics from B.o.B and the smooth style of Lupe makes this a hard song not to like, and epitomizes the style that they were trying to bring to the mixtape.

Recently, B.o.B. and Lupe decided to bring their new style to the Roseland Theater in Portland. I saw Lupe Fiasco 2 years during the Glow in the Dark Tour at the Rose Garden, and I could only imagine how great his performance was going to be this time. But sadly, I had prior engagements (another concert over at the Wonder Ballroom). A good friend of mine was kind enough to lend me some of his pictures however. Check them out below.

Aside from Leaders of the New Kool, Wale dropped his latest CD: Attention Deficit in November of 2009. After being dubbed one of the new 5 fresh faces of Hip-Hop by Rolling Stone last summer, B.oB.'s album release has been much anticipated. The Adventures of Bobby Ray is in stores now. Lupe Fiasco's Lasers will be his 3rd studio album, set for release sometime in 2010.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Call of Duty - the impact of the CoD series, and the release of the Black OPS trailer

The 7th installment in the Call of Duty series looks promising. Selling over 14 million copies, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 quickly became the best selling video game of all-time. But the new addition to the family will face many of the same challenges that Call of Duty: World at War faced. Following the ultra successful original Modern Warfare, WaW had little chance of living up to the hype. You think we would have learned by now. With follow up games to smash hits like Halo 2, GTA IV, and CoD: MW failing to live up to expectations, you would think that the hype surrounding the release of this new chapter in the CoD line would finally be realistic; that is, anticipated, but not over-hyped. It's still WAY to early to tell how the game will initially be received, this is the only trailer released so far, but judging on past trends, optimism and expectations for Black OPS should be tamed down a bit.

To better understand the impact of the Call of Duty series on pop culture over the last 5 years, let's exam some statistics.

  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had over 10 million people log an online game. IGN reports that roughly half of the people who purchase Xbox 360 games never actually connect to XBL. So it's safe to say that more people have played Call of Duty Modern Warfare than live in New York City.
  • That number nearly doubled for November 2009's Modern Warfare 2 release

More copies of the Modern Warfare games have been sold since 2007 than the top 3 NY Times best sellers since then combined. So what challenges does Black OPS face? And what can it learn from World at War being sandwiched in between the Modern Warfare 1 and 2 games?

First off, lower the expectations. Let's treat it like a checkpoint in between the 2nd and 3rd MW games. Second, don't compare it to them. Compare it to World at War. Compare it to CoD 4. But don't compare it to the Modern Warfare installments. Don't do that to it.

And finally, remember, it's just a game. If your XBL gets cancelled, or your disc breaks, take refuge in one of these alternatives:
  • Bored games
  • Reading an encyclopedia
  • Working out
  • Playing sports
Just dont react like this:

Lebron James - a look at what he REALLY means to Cleveland

He fell into their lap. The most highly touted, most popular, most sought after high school basketball player of all time. Holding the best percentage chance to win the draft lottery in 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers waited anxiously as the final two lottery balls were picked... With the second pick in the 2003 NBA draft... The Detroit Pistons. That meant Cleveland had won the rights to the first pick. And maybe their savior, Lebron James. Could he erase decades of sports disappointment? The Drive in 1987, The Fumble in 1988, The Shot in 1989, and the Renteria hit in the 1997 World Series. Cleveland had seen its share of heartbreak, across all sport platforms. With one announcement, their luck had finally changed.

Over the next 6 years, Lebron would meet, exceed, and create new expectations that would be considered crazy for almost every other sports athlete ever. He has single handedly brought hope back to a city that had nearly given up. But his impact stretches far beyond the hardwood. He has the #2 selling jersey in the world, is the only reason the Cavs are the #3 team as far as merchandise sales go, and is by far the biggest tourist attraction in the city.

The tallest skyscrapers in the city often time adorn enormous Lebron posters. Skyscrapers, most often the central focus of progression in a city, are dedicated to the city's main attraction. He "fuels" their economy. If he could bring a championship to Cleveland, it would, for a time, erase any gloom, sadness, or restlessness the city has endured whether because of its economy, sports failures, or its seemingly inability to impress visitors.

But what would happen if Lebron up and left the city of Cleveland this summer during free agency? One can only imagine...

Okay maybe not that bad. But there would definitely be a lot more images similar to this one across the stadiums around the city.

Now this is obviously a worst case scenario. But what else can we think of? In cases like this, it's hard to be optimistic. Another pre-NBA Finals ousting for the Cavs in 2010. Big bucks, bigger markets, more opportunity? Will that drive King James away from his home? Or will these emotions pass? Will July 1st roll around and see Lebron prove loyal to his hometown for the last 25 years? That decision can't come soon enough for Cleveland faithful.

One thing is certain, if Lebron leaves, Cleveland instantly becomes the most depressed sports city in America. Sorry D.C.

But IF he stays, he most likely has committed himself to this city for life. If Lebron James can't change the fortunes of Cleveland, will anyone? Ever?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

End of Spring Ball, and some housekeeping

It's always a love hate relationship with Spring football. It's fun to get back out on the field, run around, get ready for next season. But it's still 4 months before fall camp, when the actual work gets done. So as spring ball finishes up, let's take a look back at the last four weeks.

photos courtesy of

The first week of practice was pretty basic, especially for the veterans. During meetings and film, it was basically "pay attention freshmen...stay awake veterans." On the field, it was pretty much the same, nevertheless it was fun to get out and run around. The hardest part of the first week is getting everyone's legs back, trying to stay healthy and adjusting to being on the field again.

The second week was similar, with the insertion of a few new plays and offensive schemes. The second week was a personal struggle for me. I seemed to catch a bout of shin splints, and only managed to make it through a full practice once. At least it's only Spring ball. Check out Ryan Carlson's (wildcat11) video from for a brief on week 2.

Friday of the second week was a unique practice. Instead of cleats and turf, it was flip-flops and sandals. A couple coaches (ones who could afford to miss a Friday of their other jobs) and a majority of the players took a trip to Pacific City. It was nice to get away, and we used this time to talk about goals for next year, our motto, and making sure everybody was on the same page as far as what we need to do to get where we want to be next year.

Weeks 3 and 4 were the final two of Spring ball. Shin splints got the best of me, but the progress we made as a whole over these last 8 practices was a good way to slingshot us into a big off-season and get us excited to come to camp in August ready to go.

Linfield also released the 2010 football schedule. It features a rematch of the 2009 1st round playoff matchup with Cal Lutheran in the first game of the season, as well as the biggest game of the year, the Willamette game, in week 3. Check out the full schedule here brought to you courtesy of the Linfield athletic page.

The first wave of 2010 recruits was also released over the weekend. Get the full list and quick players bios here.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mixtape of the week - Wiz Khalifa: Kush & O.J.

Released on April 14th, Kush & Orange Juice is Wiz's 8th mixtape. After 24 hours, K&OJ was the number one searched topic on Google and Twitter. While the mix-tape is 2 weeks old, who wants to jump on the bandwagon and blog it right away with everyone else. I let the hype die down then really analyzed it. It's as good as advertised. Click here for a complete track list.

Just 22, Wiz (Cameron Thomaz) hit the scene in early 2007, his first radio hit came later in the year with "Say Yeah". Known for his techno-influence urban hip-hop, Khalifa is a fixture in the underground scene, and signed a major label contract with Warner Bros. in 2007. His first studio album Show and Prove only sold about 10,000 copies. After 3 years, Khalif released Deal or No Deal. It reached #1 on the iTunes hip-hop album download list, and has sold nearly 30,000 copies in the first 2 months.

Check back next week for the newest "Mixtape of the week"

Nike SB release - Freddy Krueger

With the highly anticipated release of A Nightmare on Elm Street this weekend, the only reasonable thing for New Line Cinema to do to make one last sales pitch? Team with Nike and create the Freddy Krueger Nike SB shoe obviously.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NFL Draft - 1st round

The first round is done. Primetime was a success, draft ratings were up 30% from last years first round. And as usual, Thursday's first 32 picks provided drama, shocks, and of course, the expected. Sam Bradford went first to the Rams, followed by Portland's own Ndamukong Suh to the Lions. The first 5 picks saw 3 Oklahoma Sooners chosen, and one sure-fire Pro-Bowler in Eric Berry (the closest thing we've seen to the late/great Sean Taylor). The rest of the top 10 went pretty much as expected, but then the fun began. For a complete list of the first round picks, click here.

Denver traded down twice, San Fran traded up twice, and Minnesota traded out completely. As we've seen as a result from the fallout of player conduct in the last couple years, and the recent Ben Roethlisberger allegations, character played a huge roll in team's decisions. Buffalo got a steal at 9, drafting C.J. Spiller, not only the next Chris Johnson, but a class act. Tyson Alualu, a DT from Cal, who many didn't even have going in the 1st round, went with the 10th pick to the Jags. Dez Bryant, my favorite player in the draft, and the most talented receiver, fell to the Cowboys at 24 (im sure he's probably ok with this result). And the biggest news of the first round? Tim Tebow staking his claim as a pro QB after the Broncos drafted him with the 25th pick; his move up the charts had as much to do with his character as it did with his athleticism.

But not all teams were 1st round winners. Let's take a look at the winners and losers of round 1:

Winners - Detroit, K.C., Seattle, Buffalo, Dallas
Losers - Jacksonville, Philly, Denver

Grades -

Detroit: A - drafting Suh at 2 was a steal if you can call it that. Besides Berry, he is the best defensive prospect in the draft. I see him as virtually bust-proof. Big, strong, fast, work ethic, and character. He has it all. Moving up to draft Jahvid Best at 30 was a value pick. He has world class speed, and will be a nice complement to Kevin Smith until he becomes the feature back.
K.C.: A- - only one pick, but gettin Eric Berry at 5 was solid. People say that his was too high to draft a safety, but what's wrong with drafting a future Pro-Bowler? I don't get it. He is a combo of Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, and Sean Taylor. Great Pick.
Seattle: B+ - filled their biggest need at OT with Russell Okung. Then held on to their # 14 pick and nabbed S Earl Thomas from Texas. Many experts had him rated higher than Berry (pshhhh), but their is no doubt he is a playmaker
Buffalo: B+ - C.J. Spiller is as close to Chris Johnson as there has been since he came out in '08. Spiller is a class act, a leader, and runs a 4.3. An All-American sprinter for the Tigers, Spiller can step right in and replace Lynch (he's got to go), return kicks, and provide the Bills with the big plays on offense that they need.
Dallas: B+ - didn't do anything special, just got lucky. When Denver (and the other 24 teams) passed on Dez Bryant, the 'Boys day one draft day became an instant success. His character questions are overrated; his talent is not.

Jacksonville: C- - I understand that Alualu is a proven leader. But not worth a top-10 pick. They could have got most of the DT's or DE's they had on their big board (other than Suh and McCoy). Only time will tell for someone who was not in the top 32 on most big boards.
Philadelphia: C- - they also could have taken any of the other ultra-athletic DE's (Pierre-Paul, Morgan). Instead they opted for Michigan's Brandon Graham. He's ok athletically, sound technically, but I just see one of the other 2 being more successful.
Denver: D - this one hurts. Should have taken Dez Bryant; Demaryius Thomas is solid, but Bryant I feel was the can't miss WR of the draft. And then we over drafted for Tebow. He's an awesome guy, but not worth a top 25 pick, plain and simple.

Biggest 1st round snubs? Jimmy Clausen, Taylor Mays, and Sergio Kindle. All were projected at mid-late first round pick, we'll see how day two goes. All they really missed out on was 1st round $. After their 3-year rookie contract is up, they'll get that $ back.