Ray Rice Exchange

Ray Rice Exchange

This was the scene outside of M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens offered fans to exchange their Ray Rice jerseys for another player’s jersey. The exchange was held today and will continue tomorrow. Fans lined up to return the jersey of the once well regarded former Ravens running back. There were still some rumblings from other fans stating that those participating in the exchange aren’t true fans and they are turning their backs on Rice.

You can’t dictate people’s moral directions in life. If fans wanted to return their jerseys because they felt what Rice did was wrong, that’s their given right. I’m sure those that were speaking out against the exchange, did things in their life that they wanted to be forgiven for. I’m sure tomorrow that there will be an even larger number of fans that will be in line.

While the jersey exchange was going on, ESPN Outside The Lines reported that the Ravens organization knew about the incident between Ray Rice and his wife Janay, but also had a hand in trying to cover it up. The OTL report details the events leading up to the elevator incident to the events after. In regards to this incident, there’s a cast of characters including Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, president Dick Cass, general manager Ozzie Newsome, Ray Rice’s attorney Michael J. Diamondstein and a close personal friend of Rice’s Kyle Jakobe among others.

According to the article, the Ravens wanted to play clean up with this since Rice was the corporate face of the team. Whenever owner Bisciotti needed Rice to make an appearance, Rice was game. Rice was well known in the community and the Ravens wanted to keep that up. Also, according to sources within the article, Rice told everyone straight up about the incident. As you read the article, you’ll see photos of Rice at various functions for the Ravens. Once the video of the incident inside the elevator was released, Rice was sent this text message:

“Hey Ray, just want to let you know, we loved you as a player, it was great having you here. Hopefully all these things are going to die down. I wish the best for you and Janay.
When you’re done with football, I’d like you to know you have a job waiting for you with the Ravens helping young guys getting acclimated to the league.” – Text message from Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti

In a sense, the Ravens organization was abandoning Rice even after convincing NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to be light on Rice’s sentence. The NFLPA appealed Rice’s indefinite suspension earlier this week and it seems as if it may be in the cards for him to win. Just when we thought the NFL season would be the solution to a crazy Summer and we’re taken on another ride.

Souled Out

Souled Out

If you’ve listened to Jhene Aiko’s past releases (2011’s Sailing Soul(s) and 2013’s Sail Out) then you know that her music is an acquired taste. Not everyone is a fan of her music but on the other side of the coin, you have those that swear by the lyrics that she sings. After many delays, Jhene’s debut album Souled Out is finally here for her fans alike to enjoy. So will Jhene bring anything new to the table on her debut release? Let’s review Souled Out.

SO debut single, “To Love & Die” (which also features Cocaine 80’s) shows Jhene singing about the risks of falling in love and the effects of it. (“Cause where I’m from/We live by the love, die by the love/We live for the love, die for the love/I live for you, love, die for you, love“) In the second verse, she borrows the hook from 50 Cent’s “Many Men” as she bridges the gaps from past failed relationships to fighting for the one that she wants to be with. (“Many, many, many men, wish death upon me/Have mercy on me/Cause I’m just a prisoner of your army of one/But I’ll fight to the death or until your heart is won“) The album’s second single, “The Pressure” Jhene sings about the burdens of relationships and as the song dwells the negative attitude starts to show. (“Major weed smoke in the air/Pass it like you just don’t care/Have you seen my fucks to give?/I have none, I cannot live with“)

The music on SO is the sound that may have listeners in their feelings. “It’s Cool” may have listeners relaying to when they are interested in being in a relationship but they are awaiting the other person to make the next move. (“If that is fine with you, it’s fine with me/Definitely love/Definitive love/Infinite love, yeah/I’ve been wrong before/But this time I am for sure/It’s you/Something you did made me feel it deep in my core“) The album’s strongest track comes in the form of a feature with Common titled “Pretty Bird (Freestyle)“. Jhene’s singing about having nothing left to give and how the person on the other end is trying to convince her to keep on pushing. (“Pretty bird, pretty bird, I know your hurtin’/Well so am I, so am I/Pretty bird, pretty bird, pretty bird, pretty bird/Please don’t cry, you can fly/And there’s a blinding light inside of you/There’s a blinding light inside of you/And they cannot deny you, they cannot deny you“) Common’s verse speaks on the pain that we all deal with on the daily. (“They say through the pain is how we learn/You landed on the window of pain, simple and plain/It’s hard for you to fly in the rain/The way love goes is not the way that it came/Come fly, un-die, be born again/I’ve seen the strongest of them be torn from men/Ripped apart and get put back together/Them the ones with the most beautiful feathers“) It’s No I.D.’s production which makes this track stand out.

As stated in the beginning, Jhene Aiko’s fans swear by her music as her critics slam her constantly. Souled Out is one of those albums that you should listen to in the dark and ready to shed some major tears. If you’re looking for vocals with high rifts and bang out production, this is not the album for you.

Adam Jones

Orioles Clinch!

AH!!!!!! Midweek Thoughts Time!!!! Fuck it… Let’s get it on!

1. Baltimore Orioles Clinch First Division Title Since 1997: After all that our city has endured in regards to our sports, the Orioles clinching the AL East Division Title is what we needed. I’m proud of this year’s team and I have all the faith that we could go all the way!!! #WeWontStop!

2. Rihanna Criticizes CBS For Pulling Theme Song; CBS Pulls Tune Altogether: During last week’s Thursday Night Football, CBS pulled the “Run This Town” as the opening song due to the drama surrounding Ray Rice. Yesterday, Rihanna reacted to the move calling CBS ‘sad’ for penalizing her for their decision. Today, CBS said that they ‘will be moving in a different direction’ in regards to their Thursday Night Football opening.

3. Grand Jury Delays Their Decision Whether To Indict Darren Wilson: January 7th, 2015. That’s when a grand jury will decide whether to charge Darren Wilson with the killing of Michael Brown. My question is why? 111 days to decide? Is this a cover up or not?

4. NFLPA Announces That Suspended Players Are Eligible To Play; Appeals Ray Rice’s Indefinite Suspension From NFL: NFLPA announced that Wes Welker and other suspended NFL players are able to suit up with their teams with the union and NFL’s agreement on the new drug policy. Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns, who was given a one year suspension had his reduced to ten games. The union also announced that they filed an appeal to Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension from the NFL stating that ‘Under governing labor law, an employee cannot be punished twice for the same action when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment.’ This isn’t going to end for a very long time.

5. First World Problems: It seems as if when you have plans to do something fun for yourself, life comes at you fast. Just wish things could go right for a change. Oh well.

Ready To Die

Ready To Die

The album cover says it all. The little baby with the afro sitting Indian style. The Summer of 1994, East Coast was looking to make a grand return to the hip-hop game. A gem was found in a Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn MC, The Notorious B.I.G. (born Christopher Wallace) He had been rapping since he was a teenager and released a demo under the name Biggie Smalls. Mr. Cee , promoted the demo and it was heard by Matty C of The Source.

“Yeah, this album is dedicated
To all the teachers that told me I’d never amount to nothing
To all the people that lived above the buildings that I was hustling in front of
That called the police on me
When I was just trying to make some money to feed my daughter” – The Notorious B.I.G. from “Juicy

Sean “Puffy” Combs was working as an A&R at Uptown Records when he heard of the demo and signed Biggie to the Uptown Records label. That lead to him appearing on Heavy D’s “A Buncha Niggas”. After Combs was fired from Uptown Records, he went on to form Bad Boy Records and signed Biggie to the label and with that came appearances on the Who’s The Man soundtrack (“Party And Bullshit”), Neneh Cherry’s “Buddy X“, Super Cat’s “Dolly My Baby” and Mary J. Blige’s “Real Love” and “What’s The 411” remixes. But what really set Biggie off to stardom was his appearance on Craig Mack’s “Flava In Ya Ear” remix, alongside LL Cool J, Rampage and Busta Rhymes. To me, his verse is the most quotable out of everyone on the record. (“I see the gimmicks, the wack lyrics, the shit is/Depressing, pathetic, please forget it/You’re mad cause my style you’re admiring/Don’t be mad, UPS is hiring“) With that being said, The Notorious B.I.G.’s debut album was released twenty years ago on this date. Let’s take a look back at the album that brought the East back.

1. “Intro“: This introduction to the album takes place in different stages of Biggie’s life and is detailed by the music in the background. His birth (Curtis Mayfield’s “Super Fly“), arguments between his parents (Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight“), train robbery (Audio Two’s “Top Billin’“) and his release from prison (Snoop Doggy Dogg’s “Tha Shiznit“) As he’s leaving prison, he’s rebuffs the guard’s assertion that he’ll be right back in jail. (“I got big plans nigga, big plans, hahahaha“)

2. “Things Done Changed“: (“Shit, it’s hard being young from the slums/Eating 5 cent gums, not knowing where your meal’s coming from“) On the album’s first track, Biggie details from when he grew up to what was present in 1993. First verse, he raps about ‘motherfuckers being all friendly’ and then in 1993, ‘niggas is getting smoked’. It was a grim outlook of growing up in the 90’s era of Brooklyn. Shit definitely got real in verse two when he rapped about the guy wanting to fight instead of having the MAC-10 on his side. (“Slugs in his back and that’s what the fuck happens/When you sleep on the street/Little motherfuckers with heat want to leave a nigga six feet deep“) In the final verse, he talks about the kids with the guns, pagers and how they got killed going out of town. He asked what happened to the cookouts before dropping the bombshell about his mother having breast cancer. Reality was a hard pill to swallow.

3. “Gimme The Loot“: (“I’m slamming niggas like Shaquille, shit is real/When it’s time to eat a meal, I rob and steal/Cause mom dukes ain’t giving me shit/So for the bread and butter I leave niggas in the gutter“) What was dope about this song was Biggie going back and forth on the track as he altered his voice. Robbery was motive on this record and the shootout at the end was even crazier.

4. “Machine Gun Funk“: (“So I guess you know the story, the rap-side, crack-side/How I smoked funk, smacked bitches on the backside/Bed-Stuy: the place where my head rests/50-shot clip if a nigga want test“) Fucks with this track HEAVY!!! The flow here is incredible and I can just vibe out and listen to this all day.

5. “Warning“: (“I fuck around and get hardcore/C-4 to your door, no beef no more nigga/Feel the rough, scandalous/The more weed smoke I puff, the more dangerous“) I can admit that this track was the least favorite of mine but that won’t stop me from rapping along with the lyrics. I remember on an old episode of Comicview where the young lady stated that Biggie needs an Around The Way bra. I was in tears.

6. “Ready To Die“: (“As I sit back and look when I used to be a crook/Doing whatever it took from snatching chains to pocketbooks/A big bad motherfucker on the wrong road/I got some drugs, tried to get the avenue sold“) Biggie on this track raps about his old life where he was robbing folks without any regret. Wasn’t one of my favorite tracks on the album.

7. “One More Chance“: (“I fuck non-stop, lick my lips a lot/Used to lick the clits a lot, but licking clits had to stop/‘Cause y’all don’t know how to act when the tongue go down below“) Before the song begins, there’s an intro where a child is telling hoes not to call there for Biggie and the child makes sure that his mother approves. Then four women leave messages for Biggie and they are fed up with his shit. This version of One More Chance is the filthy version were Biggie talks all types of shit on this record. (“I’ll fuck around and hit you with the Hennessy dick/Mess around and go blind, don’t get to see shit/The next batter, here to shatter your bladder/It doesn’t matter: skinny or fat or light-skinned or black/Baby, I drop these Boricua mamis screaming ¡ay papi!“) This is also our first introduction to Total, who at the time were Biggie’s background singers. Now the remix sampled Debarge’s “Stay With Me” and had an all star R&B/Hip-Hop cast for the video.

8. “Fuck Me (Interlude)”: (“You chronic smokin’, Oreo cookie eatin’, pickle juice drinkin’/Chicken gristle eatin’, biscuit suckin’, MUTHAfucka“) When this interlude came on, my best friend and I would wonder if he was truly fucking the girl on this skit. A. Yes, he was. B. The woman would turn out to be Lil’ Kim.

9. “The What” (feat. Method Man): (“Fuck the world, don’t ask me for shit/Everything you get you gotta work hard for it/Honeys shake your hips, you don’t stop/And niggas pack the clips, keep on“) Soon as the beat drops, nigga!!!! Biggie and Meth killed this! I mean it wasn’t even fair what these two did to this track. It was dope during the opening verse where Biggie goes “I squeeze Gats till my clips is empty/Don’t tempt me, you don’t want to fuck with the M-E” and then Method Man takes the hand off “…T-H-O-D Man, here I am/I’ll be damned if this ain’t some shit/Come to spread the butter lyrics over harmony grit” Very dope collaboration.

10. “Juicy“: (“And I’m far from cheap, I smoke skunk with my peeps all day/Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way/The Moet and Alizé keep me pissy/Girls used to diss me/Now they write letters cause they miss me “) This is Biggie’s rags to riches tale here. That Mtume sample of “Juicy Fruit” is what set this off.

11. “Everyday Struggle“: (“My daughter use a potty so she’s older now/Educated street knowledge, I’mma mould her now”) What made Biggie great at what he did was the storytelling aspect in his rhymes. Painted his rhymes so vividly and just gave you a great story about the rise and surviving in the drug game.

12. “Me & My Bitch“: (“Moonlight strolls with the hoes, oh no, that’s not my steelo/I wanna bitch that like to play ceelo, and craps/Packin gats, in a Coach bag steamin dime bags/A real bitch is all I want, all I ever had“) Biggie talks about his down ass woman on this track. People cringe during the opening line but wasn’t aware that it was from a Richard Pryor routine “Wino & Junkie“. In true storytelling fashion, the girl dies at the end and Biggie vows revenge for her murder. Also what’s interesting is the conversation between Puffy and a young lady during the chorus.

13. “Big Poppa“: (“Money, hoes and clothes: all a nigga knows/A foolish pleasure? Whatever/I had to find the buried treasure, so grams I had to measure“) Puffy made sure to go with the sure shot commercial singles as this track samples The Isley Brothers “In Between The Sheets” and Biggie spits game to the ladies.

14. “Respect“: (“Rap was secondary, money was necessary/Until I got incarcerated–kinda scary/C74-Mark 8 set me straight/Not able to move behind the great steel gate/Time to contemplate, damn, where did I fail?/All the money I stacked was all the money for bail“) This track had to grow on me, although the autobiographical tale that Biggie tells is dope here. I hated the beat and Diana King’s vocals here were annoying. At the end of this track, there’s a skit where Biggie’s trying to convince a young lady to give him head. She’s denying the fact that she knows how to do it and from the reaction during the action, Biggie knew she was full of shit.

15. “Friend Of Mine“: (“I be cruising up the block, I be passing her/Pimping hard with the female passenger/And the only time I call her to hang/Is when me and Dee/blunted up, pissy, scheming on a gang-bang“) This was the “Who Hurt You” track off this album. Biggie details meeting a young lady then she slept with his homeboy then he (Biggie) fucked with her sister. Just a bunch of pettiness going on this track.

16. “Unbelievable“: (“And those that rushes my clutches get put on crutches/Get smoked like dutches from the master/Hate to blast you but I have to, you see I smoke a lot/Your life is played out like Kwame and them fucking polka dots“) My second favorite track from this album and DJ Premier clearly killed the beat. The R. Kelly scratched in sample from “Body Callin‘” makes this work. Just an incredible song.

17. “Suicidal Thoughts“: (“I can’t believe suicide’s on my fucking mind, I wanna leave/I swear to God I feel like death is fucking calling me/Naw you wouldn’t understand“) This track is still eerie whenever I listen to it and Lord Finesse created a dope beat. The way Biggie ended this album as to set up to Life After Death is still incredible.

The album was remastered in 2004 and “Who Shot Ya” (Still don’t get why that track was left off the original album) and “Just Playing (Dreams)” which was given to Lil’ Kim and she remade it for her debut album Hardcore a few years later. What was incredible about this album was just Biggie’s lyrical wordplay and how he crafted his stories in his head. Just sitting here and listening to what was the start of greatness. The first week sales for Ready To Die was 57k but by 1999, it sold 4 million copies. As a hip-hop fan, I’m appreciative of this album because of the impact that it had on me as a fan. I wonder if he was still here today, how Biggie would describe the process of creating this album?

On yesterday, I was heading home from the movies but I needed to make a stop because I was hungry from being out all day. As I was approaching the bank, there was a young lady who made it there first. As she was going in, I was going to wait off to the side as she did her transaction. But then she asked me to stand outside and wait until she was finished. I obliged but was slightly annoyed by the generalization. Then as she exited, she stated ‘that she wasn’t trying to be funny or anything but she’s just a chick’.

I understand that but is it because I’m a man and she might have automatically assumed that I was going to harm her? All I had on me was a bag from Barnes & Noble. I did come from seeing No Good Deed and the story in that movie may make a woman cautious in regards to men that she doesn’t know.


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