All of the Greats Take Losses

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I never thought of losing, but now that it’s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.”

— Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali was “The Greatest.”

Everyone knows that, but there’s something that seems to be lost in the deification of the man born Cassius Clay: he wasn’t unbeatable.

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Revisiting the Best Rap Rankings from the 100th Issue of “The Source” [January 1998]

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For most of the ’90s, there was really only one hip-hop magazine that truly mattered.

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Flashback Friday Flop: “14 Shots to the Dome”

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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: LL Cool J’s 14 Shots to the Dome (1993)

LL Cool J has had one of the longest, greatest, and most complicated careers in hip-hop history. As I wrote on the 30th anniversary of his debut album: “His first twelve albums all went gold or better, with seven of the first eight going platinum. He’s had nine albums reach the top ten of the Billboard 200. He’s had four platinum and six gold singles with six top ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and two more as a featured artist. His albums have been in the top 25 on the Billboard 200 chart in four different decades and have gone platinum in three different decades. He’s been nominated for nine Grammy awards, of which he won two, and also received the MTV Video Vanguard Award. He’s a legend.

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Flashback Friday Flop: “Can-I-Bus”

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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: Canibus’s Can-I-Bus (1998)

Towards the end of 1997, hip-hop was entering a transition phase, digging itself out of the rubble left behind in the wake of the East Coast-West Coast war that altered the genre forever. The deaths of 2Pac and B.I.G., Snoop’s decline, and the dominance of Puff’s shiny suit army left an opening for new artists.

Continue reading “Flashback Friday Flop: “Can-I-Bus””

LL Cool J – “Mama Said Knock You Out” Live on “Showtime at the Apollo” [1991]

Although he’s now know more for acting and hosting, LL Cool J is one of the greatest artists in hip-hop history and he used to put on a hell of a show. This performance of “Mama Said Knock You Out” on Showtime at the Apollo is nothing short of fantastic.


Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.