The Inconvenient Side of Probability

I recently listened to the Adam Carolla podcast with special guest Dennis Prager, where the two intellectual heavyweights sat down and dissected society. Giving us their right-wing spin on both societies ailments and how we should remedy them. The subject of race inevitably came up and Adam went into a diatribe about how stereotypes are based on reality, and how our brains make snap calculations when faced with people outside of our own to dictate what kind of threat level your dealing with. The same snap calculations that we evolved with when we were running away from cheetah’s on the Savannah. That basic primal part of our biology has gone nowhere since, but now we’re not on the Savannah, we’re in major urban cities with skyscrapers, and a cupboards full of food. So the threat is no longer cheetah’s, but each other, where different enclaves of society pose different threat levels. Certain crimes amongst the black community are inordinately high in juxtaposed to other races and there are socio-economic reasons for that. Not to mention 200 years of oppression that has altered our culture for the worse, which is passed down from generation to generation without a hint of irony. (See black women and their obsession with covering their natural hair with weave for a tiny sliver of that manifestation) So when a cab driver in New York, see’s a young black male at night, they do the quick math in their head that there’s a good chance that there could be trouble. I agree with this because it’s pragmatic and we do almost everything in life based on probability. A person gives up their motorcycle when they get married, or upon the birth of their first kid because probability indicates that they might not be around long enough for their significant other, or child. When the Boston Celtics have to pick a free throw shooter to convert a technical, Ray Allen is selected because the probability of him converting is the highest. Your car insurance is higher when your driving a stick shift, as oppose to an automatic because probability indicates that there is a greater chance of an accident with the former source of transportation…………the list is endless. So when you see a young black male, in an urban area, at night, Adam feels that you need to play the odds. Even a cab driver (who is most likely from a different country himself) understands this game of probability and I 100% agree. The mere fact that black women have no problems getting cabs highlights that this issue hugs the side of statistics more than it does racism. Except there’s one little thing that our white middle aged, insulated, republicans didn’t bring up, and that is the dangers of the caucasian male, and how they should not be exempt from their ‘danger based on probability’ form of solipsism. When there’s a serial killer on the loose, making suits out of his victims flesh and storing their decomposing bodies in a freezer, I want all middle aged white males to be pulled over while driving as suspects. I also what them pulled out of airport lines because probability does not skew in favor of that demographic. When there is a pedophile on the loose, I want Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager called in for questioning since middle aged white guys have cornered the market on raping children. Once again I’m down for treating life as if it’s sabermetrics towards my race because the data is in…………but the data is in on the white middle aged male as well, and it looks just as bleak.

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Fresh Prince vs Seinfeld

Now that we’re nearly a decade and a half removed from two of the greatest sitcoms this planet has ever seen, salient attributes from each show stick out more and more the longer they stay into syndication. Such as how underrated Uncle Phil is or how horrible the first season and half of Seinfeld was. Some of these features over the years are adding up to chip away at the mystique of Seinfeld and help bolster my argument on how I’ve felt for a long time……..Fresh Prince is better than Seinfeld. After people get over the shock value of my statement I ask them to riddle me this:

Which one was more consistent?

Which one was more versatile?                                                                                                                                

Which one had a better cast? (Highly debatable)

Which one is more re-watchable? (Now that we know that Michael Richards openly routes for Kiefer Sutherland’s character in “A Time to Kill”.

Consistency is a foregone conclusion; Fresh Prince hit the ground running and didn’t look back. Even the usual kiss of death in sitcoms where a new character is added couldn’t hinder the Fresh Prince Locomotive. They added baby Nicky in the later seasons and kept on churning out classics. Married with Children exemplifies more of the norm, they added that new kid seven, and the show quickly went downhill, or maybe it was going downhill before that which prompted the desire to add a new character…….it’s a little fuzzy right now. Seinfeld on the other hand……..not so much. That show was on the brink of cancellation in the first season and was green lit for another year because of the lovely circle of friendships that Larry David created within the industry. Demerit points are also taken away for the tragic Seinfeld final episode. EPIC FAILURE!! Totally undermined much of that great season with such a clunker of an ending and this needs to be factored in when comparing the Titans.

Versatility is another no brainer, Fresh Prince made you run the gamut of emotions. Laughter when Carlton and Will were trapped in an apartment with Mad Dog. Poignancy when Will’s dad came back into his life. Awareness, during Vivian’s black empowerment teachings. Seinfeld tackling anything even remotely serious makes me cringe at the very thought. Also I’m going to throw in the bloopers as a versatile trait……….no sitcom will ever have a better blooper reel than Fresh Prince. Carlton’s off the cuff improv when he thought Will killed Lisa at the cabinet was absolute genius. And Will’s “dum dum de dey” remark that almost gave Hilary an aneurysm.

Saying that Fresh Prince had a better cast is almost blasphemes, David Puddy’s character alone should swing the pendulum towards Seinfeld but hear me out. Larry David has shown how interchangeable some of those characters were with the rise of Curb your Enthusiasm, aka, “Adult Seinfeld”.  Can that happen with Fresh Prince? Could there ever be another Carlton Banks? Larry David has been playing George Costanza for the past decade and he hasn’t lost a beat. So for my final edict, I’m going to create a sitcom fantasy lineup to see how they stack up:

Will Smith vs George Costanza – Will wins this hands down, more funny, more charisma, better acting, higher degree of difficulty seeing how Hip-Hop wasn’t quite mainstream yet, and finding a universal audience for that character is way harder than George Costanza pandering to an audience that finds Vandelay industries as groundbreaking material.

Uncle Phil vs Jerry Seinfeld -Both play the straight men surrounded by a world of chaos, Comedic edge is slightly in Seinfeld’s corner but Uncle Phil more than makes up for that with better acting and more versatility. He’s also vastly underrated in the comedic department, especially when he started coming out of his initial role as a pretentious wasp. (I think pretentious and wasp is redundant, I should have just deleted that right?) The episode where Will and himself are battling it out in court and telling their sides of that infamous pool party was his coming out party.

Hilary Banks vs. Elaine Benes – Seinfeld takes this one, Elaine Benes is the greatest female sitcom character of all-time and not even I will take this away from her, although Hilary was better to look at. Got to put the Seinfeld bashing to a brief halt to bask in Elaine’s greatness.

Carlton vs Cosmo Kramer – Carlton in a landslide, even before Mississippi Burning Michael Richards, Carlton has this in the bag. Comedic value through the roof, improv second to none, once again versatility is the underlying theme and he beat his chest loud and clear when Will got shot, or when Uncle Phil was hospitalized with a heart attack.

Last but not least, the passing years have been way kinder to The Fresh Prince of Bel-air. Fashion fads aside…….there is a timeless aspect of Fresh Prince episodes where you feel you can watch it time and time again without getting tired of it. The episode where Will gets trapped in the wilderness with John Witherspoon (pops from Friday) ages like a fine wine. No substitute for an old man calling Will, Wilbur………and lighting fires with hot sauce. Seinfeld in a juxtaposition has a finite shelf life……….George becoming a genius after abstaining from sex and Elaine becoming ostracized for hating the English Patient gets a certain amount of laughs from me before it becomes wash, rinse, and repeat.

So in conclusion, we have been fed through the main-stream media that Seinfeld is the Godfather of sitcoms and we all should have our hats in hand when approaching the all-mighty Oz. No dice, Fresh Prince reigns supreme and anybody who disagrees is just following the mantra of the masses. Fire up the Fresh Prince DVD’s and show me a single episode where you felt that there was a wasted 20 minutes. (Bonus points – Fresh Prince’s theme music has a Pavlovian effect, the minute you hear it, happiness instantly encompasses your body)

Ghostwriter…………Word!!

Lately I’ve been re-living my childhood through my son, and by this I have come to the realization that kid shows are the biggest racket in North America. Think about it………you pander to retarded little people who can’t criticize or think objectively. I would like to think that this is why The Simpsons got through those lean years. What kid in a focus group is going to say that this animation is crappy or that the 3rd act in this certain episode doesn’t hold up.

The kids that were going through puberty but were allowed to hang out without adult supervision.......hmmmmm.

The quaint show that comes to mind is………… Ghostwriter! Definitely no exception to my theory. After watching the first three episodes with my son, except now through the prism of an adult, you can’t help but laugh at some of the idiosyncrasies. The Pilot starts out with Samuel L Jackson which already had me rolling on the floor. Pre-Pulp Fiction Jackson is the equivalent of seeing Prodigy from Mobb Deep in a tutu……..just doesn’t add up.  He and his son (Jamal) are in the attic looking for a trunk where they knock over a book and free Ghostwriter. That’s it folks, the spiritual sleuth is unleashed and then goes on to do amazing teleportation tricks for the next three seasons that make you wonder how he was trapped in a book in the first place. Fast-forward to a scene where Jamal is walking home, practicing some of his karate air kicks which is a clear indicator that Jamal went on to be a virgin deep into his 30’s. But it starts to get amazing when Ghostwriter starts to reveal himself to the kids. I don’t think they freak out nearly enough for children that are witnessing a ghost that changes colours and juggles words. But I guess that’s the advantage of producing a show that caters to kids that have no Internet as an alternative. Jamal finds a coded letter on the ground later that shaped and molded my malleable little mind into thinking that every crime scene had a Zodiac letter. When money was stolen out of my piggy bank as a child I waited precariously for a Zodiac letter…………..I’m still waiting! I went on to develop a complex because I thought that Jamal and company were better than me for always finding a coded letter, but this isn’t about my insecurities. Jamal goes on to form a team with fellow detectives, Lenni, Alex, and Gaby (Complete non-sequitur but Alex had a shouting match with Jamal that lead to a vein popping out of his neck. No doubt in my mind that he’s beating his wife right now) who are trying to figure out who the kids are that are stealing school bags. Which lead to my favorite scene, the robber in a double-faced ghoul mask sliding down the slide and snatching the bag.  How bout you just run him down and get what’s yours, there were 14 robberies apparently, all with the same result. Boy/Girl gets robbed, takes two steps, and then yells “help that’s my bag” to no avail. I also enjoy the thought that the robber had a Halloween mask on in the park and no one decided to raise an eyebrow. I know everyone thinks you can do running commentary on everything from our childhood but a lot of things were well done. The Magic School Bus was a clinic on how to have your cake and eat it.

By the end of our little mini-marathon, I was all laughed out and my son had the look on his face that I probably had at his age. Shocked and amazed, can’t wait until he’s blogging about how mean the years have been to this show.

Here’s a link to part one if you have time to waste and want to regale in nostalgia.

The Ugly Truth

I have reached a bodhisattvas like stage in my life where I can say that a certain dude is butt ugly, without the obligatory, “no homo” comment that somehow grants a man complete gay immunity. I never understood the “no homo” statement …….saying you’re not gay after a gay comment should not exalt you. I remember friend number one making a homoerotic observation, followed by silence; then watched friend number two apprehensively clench his fists, awaiting for friend number one to fill the conversation chasm with the “no homo” reset button. If someone goes out of their way to say that there are not gay……shouldn’t we just assume he’s putting from the rough? It’s like when someone starts off a rant by stating, “no offence”. You can bet your life that whatever follows that will be offensive. Sorry for the digression but I was thinking about the ugliest celebrities in the world when thinking of that rant. I’ve made a list of the world’s ugliest celebrities that are stuck somewhere at the tail end of the evolutionary scale. While it’s not politically correct, I’ll use the TMZ bailout rule that is used anytime paparazzi want to get away with suspect behaviour; this is the price they pay for living in the public life.

Without further ado………….

Dikembe Mutombo – This mug is why he blocked shots at will. Think about it……there are plenty of centers that are as big and athletic as Dikembe yet he kills them all in shot blocking. It’s his hideous face that deters oncoming slashers, who throw the ball up Hail Mary style once they get a glance of that thing that grows out of his neck.

Patrick Ewing – How this man procreated is living proof that the NBA truly cares.

Ninja Man – ……………….

Shabba Ranks – The 8th Wonder of the World. I’ll let Marlon Wayans take over from here.

Steve Buscemi – Nice little niche actor with only one barrier preventing him from being a leading man. His GRILL!!

John C. Reilly – Only in a capitalistic society can Reilly be married.

Lexington Steele – The Denzel of this list but still not saying much.

Clint Howard – This man should be caged and studied………so future society’s can understand why we drove our civilization to extinction.

Rinaldinho –  If your familiar with Rinaldinho, it might have taken you awhile to notice that this picture isn’t him. Two show you how random women are; one girl told me that she loved his smile. I laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed and then went to bed………….only to wake up in mid laughter.

Willem Dafoe – This is my boy but he looks like a toon from the movie Cool World that came to life.

Flavor Flav – If aliens descended on our planet and their first human interaction was with Flavor Flav, would that be good or bad for the fate of our planet? He could look like them, which would promote a sense of familiarity; or he could totally misrepresent what we look like as a species and cause world-wide genocide for being so fugly.

Hedu Turkoglu – A wise man once said that “Hedu looks like God wanted to make him retarded but changed his mind at the last second”. Had to come correct for this one since Hedu played his heart out for my beloved Raptors.

Luis Guzman – Apparently Shrek was a documentry on this man.

ADHD Will Save LeBron

After watching stupid groupie bi$@hes welcome back Chris Brown with open arms, I’m now counting down the days before Lebron James regains his popularity. Time makes fools of us all, just ask 2 Pac. Everyone’s on a track talking his name like he didn’t call out the whole industry before his passing. Or Kobe, who is now deemed such a loyal, student of the game. Like he didn’t force trade talks and inspire the greatest coach of our generation to write a book on him. Chris Brown is the latest example of how insignificant a public blunder is as long as you have the right PR team, and enough time where today’s ADHD riddled society can forget your faux pas. The boy turned Rihanna into Evander Holyfield but it’s now chalked up as an “accident” after his Michael Jackson tribute fully equipped with crocodile tears. An accident is when you slip on a banana peel, causing you to lose your balance, and having your overwhelming momentum strike Rihanna in the face a single time. Not a Clubber Lang like beat down which included biting. (Really Chris Brown? Biting?) In a world where Blackberrys are upgrading every time Snooki opens her legs. We currently possess the attention span of a turnip so a couple of these from Lebron, and “The Decision” will be forgotten. (Side tangent: I think that our attention spans will become so pithy, that we’ll be unable to process new memories……resulting in all of us running around like Guy Pearce in Memento) While I don’t like the way Lebron left Cleveland, it’s clear that he’ll be just fine in Miami despite the narrow-minded critics who think everything is set in stone already. Opinions such as: he is now Scottie Pippen, or winning one ring in Cleveland is the equivalent of winning 6 in Miami are so ridiculously stupid that I feel each columnist should give back one weeks pay and a personal apology to their readers.

We all know Lebron wasn’t winning anything with that supporting cast, but I don’t blame Danny Ferry. Every move he made looked like it was right on the money and we all know hindsight is 20/20. Who was booing the Larry Hughes signing or the Jamison trade? Of course everyone is an expert GM after the fact though. Lebron could have mustered up a Jordan like playoff run within the next three years and grinded out a title; but the notion that his career would be complete with one title is so ludicrous. Lebron knew he couldn’t build a dynasty there so he dipped. As for the loyalty thing, he owes everybody NOTHING!! I’ve witnessed athletes time and time again blow out there knee and then get tossed aside effortlessly like a dog that is unamused with its chew toy.

How Lebron is now Scottie Pippen boggles my mind. Him slipping into the Magic Johnson role and possibly averaging a triple double for the rest of his life is considered Scottie Pippen? The one thing that people don’t take into account is that Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are walking band aids, and Lebron is the Iron Man of the league. There will be a year when he’s got to play without one of them if not both (like Magic in his rookie year when Kareem got hurt and he had to whoop ass and take names at the center position) and he’ll be just fine. Go ask Detroit in 07 or Boston in that game 7 in 08. (Btw, Lebron dropped 45 in that deciding game against the same defence that anally probed Kobe………at the age of 24) Not to mention his playoff series against Orlando where his efficiency rating was in the company of Wilt Chamberlain and MJ. Safe to say Lebron shut it down on purpose in this years playoffs because of a certain team-mate who wanted to bring American Pie to life. We know that Lebron has it in him; and a run of six titles or so where Wade not only stays healthy for each run, but runs each and every playoff push as the Jordan of the team is only possible in Lost.

James Worthy is never called a sidekick because of his triple double in game 7 of the 1988 finals. Your telling me that the walking triple double that is Lebron can’t do the same? Nothing adds up with all these odious predictions…………but what does add up is Lebron’s shot at immortality; and make no mistake about it, a ring or two will cause everyone to refer to “The Decision” as a harmless “accident”, right Chris Brown?

The Kobe Delusion

Famed British Ethnologist Richard Dawkins wrote an extensive idiot proof guide on why he felt that God doesn’t exist; or at least God as we know him. His book, The God Delusion, was one of the most controversial books in years and his blasphemes rhetoric provoked numerous death threats. I bring this to your attention because I feel that debunking Kobe Bryant in the same fashion raises the same quandary, since Kobe has become a “God like” figure. You know……no mere mortal can shoot 6 for 24 in the most career defining game of his life and still have people convinced that he’s Jordan. But he works hard and wants it so we have to give him the benefit of the doubt. (I’m currently rolling my eyes so much right now that I might look like I’m experiencing an epileptic seizure). Everyone needs to understand that the world is not black and white; there is a grey area, and Kobe Bean Bryant fits in that grey area. Not MJ or Magic……but definitely not a buster. Kobe is what he is and he’s proven this on multiple occasions but people want to crown him so badly that they are willing to completely shut off the part of their brain that tracks his failures. I call this the interracial paradox. Anyone who has walked through a mall with a bunch of black girls no that a hush comes over the group upon passing an interracial couple; quickly followed by a snarky comment on how all white girls are taking their men. They fail to register all the happy black couples that they have crossed throughout the mall and not before long, the interracial tally in their head, vastly outweighs the black couples so it feels as if all white girls date black guys and vice versa. Watch that game 7 against Boston (which I am now dubbing the backboard game because I can’t remember another star shooting a serious shot off the backboard in a crucial game) and remind a Kobe extremist that his off the ball defence isn’t as good as advertised because it’s been masked by a strong middle presence throughout his career; or his putrid  performances in the 04 and 08 finals and it won’t compute because that’s the equivalent of the black girls not acknowledging the black couples. This is the man who allowed a 24 point comeback on his own floor. All he needed to do was get 1 bucket down that insane stretch and he flat-out couldn’t do it. How is that greatness? Pair that with his second half boycott in game 7 against the Suns in 06 where he stopped shooting like a punk because the greatest coach of our generation told him to find some balance. All These points are already to many blemishes on his resume to be called the greatest. Not to mention his air ball game winner against Phoenix this year and the fact that he has the two worst shooting percentages for a finals MVP in the last 20 years. Pau Gasol called him out earlier in the year for shooting too much…….please close your eyes right now and tell me the last time the alpha dog on a team was called out by one of his minions. Nope, none of this rings a bell to the die hards because all they process are the interracial couples: The 81 point game, the 35 ppg in 06, the 5 rings, the Laker all-time leading scorer. Which are accomplishments that are not as great as they look once you zoom out and take in the whole landscape.

We punish old school players for playing in the era that they played in. (Oscar Robertson’s stats are quickly brushed a side because of his competition) The same should apply to anyone who has peaked after 1999. After the leagues hand checking  rule was abolished and teams weren’t allowed to punish anyone in the lane. (Ask Isaiah Thomas how much of a difference that makes) Kevin Martin is the prime example of how easy it is to score now. The man built like a toothpick averaged 24 and 25 ppg in 07 and 08. Would he even make it out of the first half in a game against the 92 Knicks? Furthermore, I feel that stats in this era should be adjusted for inflation. Everyone freaks out over the box office numbers that Avatar pulled in, and rightfully so. It was the highest grossing box office draw ever. What people fail to mention is that if Gone with the Wind was adjusted for inflation; then it would be the box office champ. Same rules should apply to NBA stars of the present. Kobe’s 35 ppg looks more like 27-28, and his 81 point game is more like 68. The inflation of the dollar in movies is the equivalent to no hand checking and softer defences and this cannot be OVERLOOKED!! Take a break right now and let this marinate because I don’t want my theory to be compartmentalized like the poor happy black couple. Now that your back, my last theory that puts a chink in Kobe’s armour is the expansion theory. The Sports Guy Bill Simmons shrewdly pointed out that a league with 30 teams is diluted. Think about when you’re doing a fantasy draft in any sport……..the less teams that are participating allows more opportunity to land good players. A league with the Raptors, Grizzlies, Bobcats, Magic, T-Wolves, Heat, and Hornets, scatter the talent around; and please scrap the idea that Jordan should be punished for playing in the league with all those teams because he was raping the league well before all those teams were conceived. I’ll also shoot down the European invasion argument; The addition of talented Europeans should negate the expansion conundrum but since I’m talking about defensive, and the gap between the 90’s and the Aughts, point to one defensive minded European not named Andrei Kirilenko…………I thought so. Kobe dropping a healthy 40 against Peja Stojakovic doesn’t help his case, not even a little bit.

Kobe’s ring count is strictly a subjective matter. No Kobe fan that reads this is going to come out saying, “Mr. Reason is right, Kobe did piggy back the most dominant big man of our generation to 3 rings”. Jus remember that Kobe was interchangeable. Shaq brought a premature Penny to the finals in only his 3rd year and helped Wade get a ring when he was over the hill. Yes he was the reason Wade got that ring! Although Shaq wasn’t the same, the hack a Shaq had Miami living in the bonus and Wade was the beneficiary of this; breaking the finals free throw record. Anybody that could put the ball in the hole and play a little defence would have won with Shaq in his prime. (your telling me Mitch Richmond and Shaq wouldn’t be as deadly if not deadlier?) That leaves Kobe with two legit rings and that’s no more than Isiah Thomas. Maybe if Kobe wows me with a personal 26-0 run that Jordan accomplished by himself against Atlanta in 92. A flu game where he dropped 38, being the only player to drop 40 at the age of 40, getting his MVP game up because he’s stuck at 1, getting MVP/Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, or taking a 2 year hiatus where he clearly would have gotten two more rings and 2 MVP trophies if his dad hadn’t passed away. Then, and only then might I consider Kobe in the same breath; but until then, Jordan and other greats are telling Kobe to go home and get his f@*king shine box.

Next up………Tom Brady!!

Top 25 Hip Hop Beats of All-Time

As a little kid, the most euphoric part of any given day was when my older cousin had his boys over to chill after school. I was a precocious runt, just looking for acceptance so I would try to memorize lyrics from the most popular Hip Hop songs at the time and spit them back as if they were my own. Kriss Kross was my golden ticket; any line from “Jump Jump” had them treating me like I was a part of the click. That’s why the art of Hip Hop is so profound to me. No other genre has broken down more borders and infiltrated more cultures, and it all starts at the beat. One infectious beat partnered with the right rapper can and will, adhere to more listeners than anything Bob Dylan could do in a decade. So I did my due diligence in compiling the greatest 25 beats that have ever graced this planet while following certain guidelines:

Not rating any beats on a technical level: so I won’t be factoring in rifts, samples, eclectic rhythms, or any other producer jargon. Just the Malcolm Gladwell Blink factor or in other words, how I immediately felt when I heard the beat.

The white/brown guy factor: a good beat is not just cornered in the black community. The ultimate beat is the crossover beat so while we all laugh at that white/Indian guy that peels off in his civic with 50 cent on full throttle; That displays the kind of transcendence that I’m talking about when I say a good Hip Hop beat is more influential than a Bob Dylan track.

The Artest factor: upon hearing the beat, do you suddenly blackout and wake up with your boy slumped over, foaming at the mouth. A tough beat makes you want to knock out anybody in close proximity whether it be a childhood friend, defenceless girl, a baby, grandma, or a complete stranger. Nobody’s off limits!!!

Longevity: can you listen to this beat 5 years down the line and still legitimately get amped off of it.                            

25. Get On My Level (Trillville) – Had to start this off proper. Passes the whole checklist but its rowdy factor comes more from the dudes that are flowing on the beat.

24. Whoop Dat Trick (Three 6 Mafia) – Would be higher if the white/brown guy factor was more relavent. Being on the Hustle and Flow soundtrack wasn’t enough main stream luster to crossover.

23. Know the Ledge (Eric B and Rakim) – The Dirty South definatley runs this category but at the end of the day it’s all possible because of right coast beats such as this one.

22. Untouchable (2Pac and Krayzie Bone) – AM I WRONG CUZ I WANNA GET ON TILL I DIE!! Another day at the office for Swizzy. The white/brown guy factor is hurting here but the Artest factor more than makes up for it.

21. I’m Cool Like That (Digable Planets) – Taking the Hip Hop/Jazz fusion essence from A Tribe Called Quest and putting their own spin on it. The Artest factor can apply here if you’re a true Hip Hop head.

20. Step Into a World (KRS-One) – Classic that hits every phase and has been the unofficial embassador of Hip Hop since it was first unleashed in 97.

19. Mama Said Knock You Out (LL Cool J) – LL had his career on the line Nas style after being called out by Ice-T. It’s safe to say that he’s still eating today because of this masterpiece.

18. Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See (Busta Rhymes) – You can always gage the phatness of a beat by how many freshies jump on it.

17. Mass Appeal (Gang Starr) – DJ Premier must be on this list!! I’ll lose all credibility if he wasn’t.

16. Ambitionz As a Ridah (2Pac) – Officially made everyone want to pack up and move to LA. I may or may not have been throwing up the West sign and yelling thug life in grade 6 because of this song.

15. Shook Ones (Mobb Deep) – Havoc one of the pioneers of the gritty beats. The Nirvana of Hip Hop if you will, and this beat was at the forefront of the invasion.

14. Still D.R.E. ( Dr. Dre) –  Simple yet deadly!! Everyone knows where they were the summer this came out and what this meant for Dre when everyone was sh*@#ing on him. Can’t tell if I really love this beat, or if I’m suffering from a Pavlovian like hypnosis from the girls in that video.

13. Banned From TV (Noreaga) – Only Swizz Beats can get Noreaga on any type of top 25 list.                                           

12. What You Gon Do (Lil Jon, the East Side Boyz, and Lil Scrappy) – Can’t count on my hands and feet, plus your hands and feet; how many dudes I was obligated to knock out because of this beat.

11. Devil’s Son (Big L) – This is the type of beat that athletes take in before a huge game. Showbiz was an idiot savant during the production of this collasal project.

10. 187 Undercover Cop (Dr. Dre and Snoop) – The beat that made middle aged Republicans jump out of their gated communites to oppose Hip Hop. Any beat that forces these men to shake off their senility to fight for the kids of tomorrow, because they feel it’s their duty, qualifies itself as a top 10 beat in my opinion.

9. Thug Motivation 101 (Young Jeezy) – Has a man started a debut album any harder than this? Give me this song and the right system, with 20 guys from Finch, and the War in the Middle East would be done within the hour.

8. Bring the Pain (Method Man) – Anyone who knows me, knows that a musical top 25 list is null and void without the names Method Man or Rza. No Producer has had the run that Rza had in the 90’s and this beat was his 9th Symphony.

7. Second Coming (Juelz Santana) – Everytime I here this beat, the word that always comes to mind is EPIC!! If a UFC fighter comes out to this as his entrance music then the battle is semi-over. JUST BLAZE!!

6. Ruff Ryder Anthem (DMX) – Passes the evaluation chart with flying colours except the longevity. This beat will always have a place in my childhood but it’s not higher because the years haven’t been kind to it. With that said, it’s still the most influential beat of the 90’s and ushered in a young Swizz Beats. A man that has made his mark all over this list.

5. Relax and Take Notes (8 Ball, MJG, and Project Pat) – We are now in the danger zone!! Every beat from here on out has caused bodily harm to someone. If Boyz in the Hood were to be remade today (and you know it will with Lance Reddick as Furious) the background music during the scene where Ice Cube brushes Rickey’s killer would be Relax and Take Notes.

4. Knuck if You Buck (Crime Mob) – The greatest Crunk song ever made!! Period! Ry Mommaz went to work in producing this and I’ll take it one step further by stating that Diamond’s verse is one of the greatest rowdy verses by a female rapper ever. I know there is a lot of “ever” statements being thrown around but It’s not being used as hyperbole. You can be in a corporate board meeting, discussing your quarterly earnings; the minute this track comes on you get ignorant like Dave Chappelle in his skit where he was barking like Dmx and yelling Wu-tang!

3. Rebel Without a Pause (Public Enemy) – Please take this in. This came out in 88, when Jay-Z was getting chased through Nas’s building and it’s still holds up. A ridiculous beat for the most important and radical music group of my generation.

2. Hood Hop (J-Kwon) – Say what you want about Jermaine Dupri, but he’s as close to the Quincy Jones of Hip Hop as your going to get. And this was the beat that put him over the hill for me.

1. Triumph (Wu-Tang Clan) – “I bomb atomically, Socrates’ philosophies and hypothesis can’t define how I be droppin these mockeries, lyrically perform armed robbery”. Everyone agrees that this is the greatest opening verse in Hip Hop history but it’s the shock of the beat that propels it. When that base kicks in I still get chills down my spine and I’ve been listening to this on an endless loop since 97. So safe to say that it passes the longevity litmus test. Plus this beat was so gross that it tricked me into thinking that U-God was a half decent rapper.

Making this list was harder than the time Ben had to choose between his life or his daughters in Lost. But I’m quite content, and before this list causes social unrest, think to yourself which one of these beats do you take off if you disagree? Growing up in a Hip Hop world has spoiled me and I wouldn’t change it for anything……..sorry Bob Dylan.

Honourable Mentions:

Jump Jump (Kriss Kross)
Das EFX (They Want) – Beat doesn’t sound like much until you see Will’s swag
The Funeral (Clipse)(Neptunes)                                                                                                                                                                                          
La la la (Jay-Z)(Neptunes)
Put You On The Game (The Game)(Timbaland)
Nazareth Savage (Nas)
Made You Look (Nas)
Your All I Need (Method Man and Mary J Blige)(The Puffy Version)
Now Your Mine (Gang Starr)
Jesus Walks (Kanye West)
In the Music (The Roots)
Scenario (A Tribe Called Quest and The Leaders Of The New School)(Pete Rock)
All The Way Turnt Up (Travis Porter)
Keep it Hood (Project Pat)
I’m On It (Purple Ribbon All-Stars)
Simon Says (Pharoahe Monch)
Grindin (Clipse)(Neptunes)
You Don’t Know (Jay-Z)(Just Blaze)
Make em Say Uhh (Master P)

Canibus……The Shelbyville Scottie Pippen?

The thin blue line that delineates heightened success and epic failure in the ever-changing landscape of Hip Hop is becoming more and more vague with each turn of the calendar page. In a world where Canibus is merely a court jester in the kingdom of Waka Flocka, it’s clear that the “dumb it down” generation has drawn a line in the sand against true Mc’s. So the history books are now skewed. People look back at old school rappers and aside from Pac and Big, can’t tell which rappers are legit…..kind of like looking at Larry Bird not knowing if he was just another player or did the media create a monster in a racial zeitgeist. Well in hip hop the skewing goes both ways as well. Big L was the benefactor of such skewing by dropping two good albums and then getting clapped. You know who else had two solid albums to open his career? Canibus! No doubt in my mind that with the lyrical venom that he spewed on Can-I-bus and 2000 B.C. A timely death in 2000 would have had his face on all those graffiti murals with Big, Pac, Big L, and Big Pun.  Instead, he took the dumb career path by living and now 15 years deep in the game, he’s been whittled down to an obscure rapper who’s lyrics soar over our heads. What other industry on this planet does the cream of the crop fall from grace so drastically? Can you imagine a Doogie Howser like prodigy having his overflowing talents completely overlooked and becoming a Registered Nurse? So the Question has to be raised………is Canibus the Shelbyville Scottie Pippen? I use the words Doppelganger and Shelbyville interchangeably in reference to the Simpson episode where Bart and company go to the neighbouring town Shelbyville where everyone meets their radical twins. (Milhouse’s twin kills me the most when they cry and hug while singing “when doves cry”) Pippen’s career mimics Canibus’s; right down to the end where Pippin is now considered an after thought. Every now and then I have to remind an Oblivious mind that Jordan has no more than two rings without Pippen, and a Jordan that possesses only two rings is no longer the Michael Jordan that we worship today. These two greats also share the following:

Both were savants in unusual ways; Canibus did it through lyrics backed on garbage beats which made his lyrics stand out even more. Pippen did it through being the best on and off the ball defender the league has ever seen.

Both didn’t gravitate towards the spotlight, which in the end, hindered their marketability.

Both could carry their own weight; Canibus’s first album peaked at 2 on the US Billboards without any famous guest appearances. Pippen carried a Jordan less team to a 55 win season in 94 while placing 3rd in MVP voting.

Both quietly changed the game; Canibus made it somewhat acceptable to rap about abstract thought and education. Like his bars in the original Channel Zero for example. Pippen created and perfected the Point/Forward concept. (The same position where Lebron James does the bulk of his damage)

Both were overshadowed by Giants at the time; Canibus by Jay Z and Nas in their respective primes. Pippen by his Airness.

So where do these two legends stack up in a parallel universe where up is actually up and the movie Crash is known as a horrible movie? Canibus is the third best true lyricist behind Eminem and Biggie. Pippen would not be known as the best “sidekick” ever, but the greatest perimeter defender ever and a top 25 player of all-time. But of course that makes too much sense in this world.