Immunity Ended: The impact & downfall of Dipset

In Hip Hop many groups have come & gone. Some groups stand the test of time like “A Tribe Called Quest” & some disappear after minimal success like “Dem Franchize Boyz”. Few groups come in and have a major impact not only on the music side, but as well as fashion and just the “Culture” as a whole. Few groups have accomplished this. Wu-Tang & G-unit are possibly the most famous ones & The Migos are the most recent group to be on this path. One rap group has been lost in their place & impact on the culture. That group is “The Diplomats” or “Dipset” for short.

This article is to shine a deserving light on the group as well as address the major issues that have stopped them from being looked at as the legendary faction they were.

Music

The main members of Dipset were Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Freekey Zekey & Juelz Santana. Cam’ron was already known within the industry for being associated with Mase & Big L throughout the 90’s. But it wasn’t until 2001 when he signed with Roc-a-fella records that the rise of Dipset would begin. With hits like “Oh Boy & Hey Ma” Cam & Juelz separated themselves as a dynamic duo when it comes to making records. This momentum continued with the release of their group album “Diplomatic Immunity”. The group was gaining mainstream success as well as more & more respect from the streets. Juelz was being known as a man you want featured on your single, as we would see when Chris Brown featured him on his debut track ” Run It”. Then he helped Lil Wayne become the most sought after artist in the mixtape game with their long rumored (but never coming out) “Can’t feel my face” mixtape.

Cam rode the wave of success into film roles in movies like “Paid in Full”, features with Mariah Carey, creation of his & Jimmy’s own label “Diplomat Records” as well as several other albums that have earned him a spot as one of the rappers with the most longevity seeing that he is still relevant in the year 2017. (Purple Haze, Killa season & Crime Pays) Not to mention him being one of the only rappers to feud/beef with Nas, Jay-z & 50 Cent.

Nobody will ever confuse Jim Jones as the most lyrical rapper, he is credited as being one of the artists who changed the way we listened to rappers adlibs in tracks. When he dropped his hit single We Fly High, he had everyone yelling out “Baaalliiiiiiiiin”. He helped put an emphasis on what rappers were saying outside of the bars. “Gooniieeees” being one of his more famous ones.

KhEBUR.gif

Fashion 

Cam’ron & Pink. Do I need to say more? At the height of his stardom in 03 Cam by himself popularized men wearing pink. No other artist let alone rapper would dare accessorize themselves in all pink attire but Cam was always seen wearing pink & took it so far that he bought a pink Range Rover. His fashion prowess doesn’t stop there either. In 2014 during the Ebola craze, Cam sought to profit while keeping his community safe by making and releasing fashionable Ebola masks.

Jimmy did even better with the fashion. He doesn’t get credit for this but if you were around you know that through 2007-08 Jimmy was the first rapper doing the “rock star” look that is still popular today. He was the first rapper to start consistently wearing ripped jeans, with chains & tight shirts. Today’s Hip Hop scene most rappers want to be “rock stars” or at least dress that part, & that could all be attributed to the man known as Capo.

As ugly as this period was there was a time from about 07-09 when it was extremely popular in Urban fashion to have Hip Hop versions of cartoon characters on your shirts. Juelz was one of the biggest beneficiaries of this as he was one of the main faces for a clothing called Lot 29 that specifically used Looney Tunes characters.

Gang Culture

Even though Rapper “The Game” was heavily involved in it & rappers like “Lil Wayne” started repping it hard. I know in Toronto & New York the rise of the Blood culture started from Dipset. The crew wore the affiliation like a badge of honor, often saying words associated with the gang like suwoop.

Beyond that, at the height of the notorious “Stop Snitching” campaign. Cam was interviewed on 60 minutes about the movement, where he infamously stated that if a serial killer lived next door to him he would probably just move but wouldn’t call the cops. Contributing to the ever growing distrust of the urban community and the cops.

qcg6suhut2hj0y3no0kw.jpg

Dysfunction

In 07 rumors circulated about issues between the bosses Cam & Jimmy, gas would further be put on the flames when Jim & Juelz showed up on stage with 50 Cent right when Cam just started a feud with him. This put a strain on their relationship, which continued once Cam sold Juelz contract to Def Jam while Jay-z was still President over there & the group was in a feud with him.

Jimmy had his own issues when his artist Stack Bundles, causing a rift between his other major artist Max B that led to them having a falling out that is still prevalent today.

The group has since reunited & have dropped a few singles together but have still not released a full length mixtape or album since reuniting back in 2010.

Lasting Legacy

All & all Dipset will forever be remembered as one of the most enigmatic, controversial & beloved groups of all time. Their run from 2002-07 give or take was memorable. They changed fashion, mixtapes, feuded with some of the best the game has had to offer. Broke several new acts from the aforementioned king of the wave Max B to producers like AArabmuzik. They popularized sayings like “no homo” & “pause”. Their impact is still felt in Hip Hop to this very day. Although they are no longer as popular as they once were, & kids of today probably have only heard “Oh Boy”. I felt it was a must that they get the love they deserve.

So Cam, Jimmy, Freekey, Juelz. All the way to Hell Rell, JR Writer & 40 Cal to name a few. We would like to say Thank You. 

And I’ll leave you with the greatest photo ever taken at The Grammy’s.

dipseeeet.jpg

 

NFL’s hypocrisy regarding Kaepernick

To any football fan it is old news that Colin Kaepernick remains a free agent, and to be honest it’s starting to become exhausting that this is still news. But with the latest injuries to quarterbacks Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens & Ryan Tannenhill of the Miami Dolphins. We have witnessed two opportunities for Kaepernick & yet those teams chose to make baffling moves instead. The Ravens still haven’t made a serious decision but went so far as to sign some guy from an indoor football league instead of Kaep, and the Dolphins considered Christian Ponder out of all people.

I’ve stayed away from this topic but today we address the hypocrisy the NFL & its fans are showing towards a player who has truly done absolutely nothing wrong.

The Production Argument 

Throughout this entire off-season we have seen countless analysts & players all debate about Kaep’s production the last 2 seasons being the reason he is still unsigned. While that may be true about his injury filled 2015 campaign (1,615 yards passing, 6TD’s & 5INT’s), this can’t be said about last season (2,241 yards passing, 16TD’s & 4INT’s). His wins/losses was horrible last year but if we are talking about production being the reason & not his national anthem protest, then why in the world would the Dolphins even consider Ponder over Kaepernick? A QB who hasn’t even thrown a pass since the 2014 season, & when he was throwing passes he wasn’t very good (38career TD’s & 36career INT’s).

Then comes who the Dolphins actually signed. The one & Only Jay Cutler. A man who had a career high 26INT’s his first year in Chicago. A man who has only 1 playoff appearance & hasn’t been back since 2011. Let’s put this into perspective. Kaep’s career high for INT’s is 10. They say Cutler fits the Dolphins system. It is true his former coach is the coach of the Dolphins, but analysts are raving over Cutler having a career year under Coach Gase in 2015 (3,659 yards 21TD’s). What they fail to also say is that year he still threw 11INT’s, loss 9 games & still didn’t make the playoffs. Beyond that he is a QB with  a reputation for being lazy & was famously called out by former player Martellus Bennett for being the worst QB in the league & said that he is pretty much coming out of retirement to make his wife Happy.

NFL Player Jay Cutler

Fans showing true Colors

People make it seem as if Kaepernick has committed a crime when in all actuality he was just expressing his views in a peaceful protest. Former Eagles President Joe Banner said the team didn’t consider fan reaction when they signed Mike Vick who was famously put in jail for dog fighting. But for some reason the Ravens are listening to fans that let’s be honest probably have a racist reason as to not want Kaepernick on the team. I don’t recall these same Ravens fans protesting the team keeping Ray Lewis on the roster when he was helping them compete for championships. Mind you Ray Lewis was under investigation for Murder. Colin has only brought light on cops killing innocent black men.

Let’s take this a little further with the fans. Ben Rothlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers has twice been accused of sexual assault, & was even suspended for 4 games because of the accusations. His own team President Art Rooney II, terminated a sponsorship deal Big Ben had. But I’ve never seen any fan protests or resistance towards the the Steelers continuing to employ him.

ben-roethlisberger-650-362

Real Message being shown

The message being shown is you can commit a crime and the fans & teams will stand behind you, but stand up for civil rights & you will be punished. Both the NFL owners & fans have been blatantly showing their true colors & casting another ugly cloud over the perception of this league. Players are starting to speak out about the message owners are trying to send to them by not signing Colin.

It resonates with words Jamie Foxx’s character Willie Beamen said in the movie Any Given Sunday. “Maybe it’s not racism it’s placism. A brotha needs to know his place.”

 

Busta Rhymes: Thank You

For over the past 3 decades one hip hop artist has stood the test of time but has never been rightfully given the respect he has been deserving of. This artist has had several multi platinum albums, memorable tracks and had a major hand in changing the way music videos were made in a time widely considered to be hip hop’s hey day, the 90’s. This artist is Busta Rhymes.

For some strange reason Busta is rarely ever listed as an all time top MC/lyricist despite the fact he has the resume to prove otherwise.

Longevity

Busta has been rapping since 1989 with the group The Leaders of The New School. We are in the year 2017 and he is currently working on his 10th studio album.  That is an almost 30 year career in a genre that is not so grateful and accepting of older acts. In this time he has dropped 9 solo albums 5 which have gone platinum, several classic hits like “Woo Hah!!”, “Gimme Some More”, Pass the Courvoisier” and “Touch It” just to name a few. Not to mention has even been able to be the best part on Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” track, which also featured a bigger artist at the time “Lil Wayne”.

But when you ask fans to list the best rappers of all time or from back in the day you don’t really hear any of them mention Busta. You get Nas, Jay-Z, Tupac, Biggie. You’ll even get Snoop before fans will mention Busta. No knock to Snoop but when it comes to pure rapping he can’t hang with Busta. We can also add that his performances are still some of the best despite his age. Staying relevant in Hip Hop for almost 30 years is one of the hardest accomplishments in music and I feel he should get more appreciation for his longevity.

Pass_the_courvoisier_part_2_cover

Cultural Impact

Busta has had some the most creative, outlandish and expensive music videos. His single “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” was the first rap video with a million dollar budget. It brought another level of performance and visual effects than seen before. He had a bigger impact on how music videos were made in the late 90’s-early 2000’s that arguably any other artist at the time.

When Busta dropped the video for “Pass the Courvosier” it became a subject for product placement in rap songs and/or videos, which has become even more prevalent in recent years (i.e Versace from Migos). When he dropped “Touch It” in 2005 was on the most remixed songs of that year. Looking at his verse from “Look At Me Now” made it cool to rap super fast again.

 

Overall

To end off. In a genre where the legends/greats don’t or rarely get praised until their deaths, I felt it was needed to give the legends to our music, our culture the love they deserve because people never get the flowers while they could still smell them. I’d just like to say to one of the best performers, lyricists, pure musical geniuses still putting in work. THANK YOU 

 

 

Why is Casey still here?

With the recent moves the Toronto Raptors have made this off-season it is clear the team is committed to staying competitive now, while also setting up for the future. One thing still remains that will keep the Raptors in the position of middle tier team, Dwayne Casey. Coach Casey is an excellent defensive coach & arguably the best coach the franchise has had. However his inability to make in game adjustments or motivate his players is as clear as water.

With all due respect to coach Casey, this is an article pointing out why the franchise should move on from him.

Culture Change

The first press conference after this season ended, Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri stated that the team needed to reset and have a style and culture change. He did not point out exactly what the team needed to do but from a fans perspective it was pretty clear that the Iso, one on one, let’s ride Demar and Lowry style of play was not going to work. Especially seeing the success the Golden State Warriors have had with a more free flowing, team orientated playing style. This starts with the coach who implements the game-plan and focus for the team.

This point has been validated even more with the recent departure of Demarre Carroll who stated the current style of play caused a rift in the locker room. It will be hard for fans and players to buy into a culture change when the head of the former focus of “Pound the Rock” is still leading the charge.

Pace and Space

In the NBA today is dominated by smaller lineups focusing on speed, spacing and scoring. Majority of teams have moved away from the old model of a dominate big man, or one star taking over games like the Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant days. However the Raptors seem to be stuck in the old model. Jonas Valanciunas is and old school center that clogs up the lane and can’t guard multiple positions. Demar Derozan dominates the ball in isolation sets, and is limited in his perimeter shooting. This is not a formula for long term success but this is also a formula Coach Casey has been riding the past 4 seasons. It seems like it would be difficult for him to abandon what he knows and what has worked for him. Maybe another coach could come in and implement a new style of play the players can buy into…It has worked in the past.

SPO-BKN-NBA-LAKERS-RAPTORS

Coaching Change

 

While it would seem unthinkable to replace a coach who has brought the most success to the franchise in the midst of the team still being good, it wouldn’t be the first time and while it doesn’t always work out, (Bulls replacing Tom Thibodeau hasn’t brought more success) the examples of it working has been great. Back during the Miami Heat’s 2005-06 championship season current coach Stan Van-Gundy resigned from his job & legendary Pat Riley took over. Coach Riley stepped in and made changes that resulted in the Heat’s first NBA championship. In 2014 the Warriors decided to move on from head coach Mark Jackson, (who helped build the roster and develop their current stars) they brought in Steve Kerr who implemented his own style of play that has brought them 2 championships in 3 years.

Miami Heat head coach Pat Riley (C) hold

Sometimes change at the top is needed to re-energize the team and players. The Raptors and Masai need to figure out if that is the move they need to make in order for their current roster to take the next step. It is something I have been stating since the loss to the Brooklyn Nets 4 years ago. Maybe it’s about time to pull that trigger and not waste another season being mediocre.

Preview & Prediction: Celtics vs Cavs

Coming off the heels of a thrilling game 7 victory over the Washington Wizards on Monday night. The Boston Celtics prepare for their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since the 2012, the last season of the Original Big 3. Similar to that team in 2012, the opponent for this year’s Celtics happens to be none other than Lebron James.

While nobody outside of the Boston faithful believe the Celtics will upset the Cavs & make a trip to the NBA Finals. The belief is this series will be competitive & make the Cavs have to work for their 3rd straight trip to the Finals.

Unlike the Pacers, The Celtics have the depth to truly challenge Cleveland, & unlike the Raptors the Celtics are going into this series healthy, & fully believing they can make history by ending the defending champs dreams of going back-to-back.

ithomas

My personal opinion is that Boston needs to win game 1 to have any shot at pulling off the upset. The Cavs haven’t played a game since May 7th. By the time they tip off that will be 10 days off. Meanwhile during that time the Celtics were in a heated battle that just concluded. They still have momentum on their side, this is why game 1 is their best opportunity to strike while the Cavs may be fighting off some rust.

The Celtics struggled on the road vs Washington, losing all 3 of their road games. Winning in Cleveland will prove to be much harder than that. Their best bet to win this series is to control home court, losing game 1 would be a killer blow & halt all the momentum they’ve just built from their game 7 victory.

bron brron

The Cavs dominated the regular season series 3-1 & the last game they played against each other. Lebron, Kyrie & company are on a path to destiny. I personally don’t see this being a close series, especially if Boston drops game 1 at home. I see the Cavs dominating this series, not as much as the Raptors series but don’t be surprised if this ends up in a sweep & the much anticipated Finals match-up between the Cavs & Warriors.

Final prediction Cavs win this series 4-1.

 

Making A Statement

If you’ve been watching this year in the NBA you know that the Cavs & Warriors have been on a collision course to a rubber match in the Finals. But if you’ve been paying close attention to how both teams have performed during these playoffs you’ll notice that the battle between these two juggernauts has already begun.

Every win by one of them is matched by the other. Both teams have started these playoffs 8-0. They are making it look easy by seemingly flipping the switch & going to a next level on their opponents whenever they please. This is not to discredit their competition this is just low key statements they are making towards each other.

The latest chapter to this rivalry that has spawned the past 3 NBA seasons & most likely will be a 3rd straight NBA Finals match-up this year, has come from none other that Draymond Green himself. After defeating the Utah Jazz on Monday Draymond started blatantly poking the bear that is Lebron James, suggesting that the Cavs have faced inferior competition compared to them. We all know the media will ask Lebron and company how they feel about those remarks stirring more animosity & anticipation towards their potential impending match-up in June.

Keep your eyes open for the Conference Finals when both teams have another chance to one up each other before the showdown the basketball world is waiting for goes down. It leads to more hot topics for us to discuss, making it all the more exciting if/when they do meet up in June.

 

Raptors at a crossroads

With the disappointing ending to the season this past Sunday & numerous rumors about Kyle Lowry’s mindset entering free agency. This is shaping up to be one of the most intense as well as interesting off-seasons in the Toronto Raptors history.

With so much uncertainty about what will be this franchise’s direction moving forward has already spawned numerous articles, Twitter rants & heated debates between fans it is clear this is the most important off-season this franchise has ever faced.

The future of this team begins & ends with Kyle Lowry.

Major Key 

The Raptors have never had more sustained success than what has happened over the past 4 seasons. This team has won multiple division titles, established arguably two top 25 players in the league and has had back to back 50 win seasons for the first time ever. Arguably the biggest factor to that success has been the play of Kyle Lowry. He has easily been the best regular season player the Raptors have had over that time. He is a leader of the team & it is a proven fact that they play better with him on the floor than not.

K-Low is a 3 time All-star, made the All NBA 3rd team in 2016, a recent Olympic Gold medalist & has just completed a career year this past season. He has earned the right to get paid & has the keys to this franchise. It is a pretty good argument that the Raptors would not be in this position without him, & keeping him would more than likely continue this recent success for at least another 2 years.

65th NBA All-Star Game

Reasons to Move On

Although the Raptors have seen recent success they have never had prior to these past 4 years they share a similar fate with the Los Angeles Clippers. They also have major decisions to make starting with paying their starting point guard Chris Paul. Whom has also brought them success their franchise has never experienced prior to his arrival. However just like the Clippers, the Raptors are at a crossroads of whether to keep K-Low & this core together & remaining where they are, (a perennial playoff team but no hopes of winning a title) or moving on from their star PG in hopes of moving forward towards future long term success.

Another key factor & probably the biggest is the fact for the past 3 seasons after the All-star break Lowry’s play has continually suffered. He has consistently been injured entering the playoffs & has posted historically low shooting percentages in the history of the NBA playoffs. These are major issues plaguing the Raptors front office as to whether or not he can continue carrying this load as a team leader for the foreseeable future.

kyle-lowry

Decisions, Decisions. 

Stories are already running rampant of what might Kyle Lowry do this off-season. There have been rumblings that he will consider going to a Western Conference team. There’s the fact that he has said his number one priority entering free agency is to win a ring. (something the Raps won’t contend for as long as Lebron is in Cleveland or they get another star player)

Has he done enough to warrant a max contract? Probably not. Max contract players step their game up the brighter the lights get. But as a fan of the Raptors I have two major fears if we decide not to keep Kyle. One is going back to the dark days of 30 to low 40 win & missing the playoffs seasons. The second reason is the most important.

The last time a team gave up on an All-star point guard with recent injury problems was the Dallas Mavericks. That player went on to become a two time MVP, set the league on fire with assists & spawn great success for the Phoenix Suns franchise. If you haven’t guessed it yet, that player was Steve Nash.

The Raptors are at a major Crossroads.