In Appreciation of: Guru – The Overlooked Great

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This month will mark the sixth anniversary of the death of Keith Elam, better known as Guru, one-half of the legendary group Gang Starr. Unfortunately, Guru, who was already one of the most underrated emcees in hip-hop history, has had his memory and legacy besmirched and exploited in recent years by his last musical associate, Solar, a man that controlled much of his life, both professionally and personally. Rumors about the relationship between the two are rampant, to the point that the drama and speculation in Guru’s final days have threatened to overshadow his impact on – and contributions to – the hip-hop culture.

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I Was There: Seeing LeBron Play in High School

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I haven’t been to very many historical sporting events. No World Cup. No Super Bowl. No championship-clinching win. I was there for the final Philadelphia Eagles win at Veterans Stadium in 2002, went to a few NLDS and NLCS games in 2008 as the Phillies rolled towards a title, and attended a few NBA Playoff games, but they were appetizers. The biggest event I’ve ever attended was the final game of Michael Jordan’s career and while that was great, it’s not like it was the 63-point game at the Boston Garden in 1986 or Game 6 of the ’98 Finals in Utah.

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Flashback Friday Flop: “Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age”

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Welcome back to the latest edition of Flashback Friday Flop, a weekly feature in which I examine a hip-hop album from years ago that was considered a flop, either critically or commercially or both, when it was released and see if it has gotten better – or worse – over time. 

This week: Public Enemy’s Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age (1994)

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Public Enemy. The architects of four powerful, groundbreaking albums from 1987 to 1991, including what many (myself included) believe is the greatest hip-hop album of all time, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, and company created politically-charged, aggressive, sonically-stunning, suped-up hip-hop music that spoke truth to power and shined a light on the plights of the black community.  Chuck D, along with Rakim, KRS-One, and the other greats of the late 1980s, was instrumental in rap rhymes becoming more nuanced and complex.

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A Unique Opportunity: On Ta-Nehisi Coates Writing “Black Panther”

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Last year, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a celebrated writer on race in the United States, published Between the World and Me, a book that is presented as a letter to his teenage son about being a black man in America.

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Intelligent Goons: “Black Superhero Music” Reviewed

A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.

– Mario Puzo, The Godfather

Society demands that we be easily categorized. We are defined not only by our race, gender, geographical location, and political leanings, but also by the things we buy, wear, and drive, and how we choose to spend our days and nights.

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Flashback Friday Flop: “Asleep in the Bread Aisle”

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Welcome back to the latest edition of Flashback Friday Flop, a weekly feature in which I examine a hip-hop album from years ago that was considered a flop, either critically or commercially or both, when it was released and see if it has gotten better – or worse – over time. 

This week: Asher Roth’s Asleep in the Bread Aisle (2009)

Asher Roth was supposed to be next.

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