‘Here Comes The Pain’: Lesnar’s Return

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Photo By WWE

That’s a phrase likely embedded in the lexicon of wrestling fans from the early to mid 2000’s. Before the Cena-era, the WWE hinged its hopes on a young grappler out of the University of Minnesota; he quickly rose up the ladder to main-event status participating in feuds with The Rock, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle and other firmly cemented Main-Eventers. With Paul Heyman in tow as his voice, Brock Lesnar was a HUGE part of the present and Future for the WWE. Then he left.

After a lackluster match at WrestleMania XX with Bill Goldberg, Lesnar left the WWE to pursue a career in the NFL, trying out for the Minnesota Vikings. He was cut. Lesnar then took his talents east to Japan where he wrestled in New Japan. Lesnar transitioned his collegiate wrestling skills into a mixed-martial arts career. It was here that he found success. He once again became a main draw for the UFC, even becoming the face of the MMA leader. After some health scares, Lesnar retired from the UFC in January.

Enter WrestleMania weekend. Rumors set the Internet Wrestling community on fire that Lesnar was in Miami, the WrestleMania 28 host city, and was ironing out the details of a contract with his former employer in sports-entertainment. On April 2, 2012, the rumors were confirmed fans chanted “We Want Lesnar” during a John Cena promo, and a short, but seemingly long dramatic wait, Lesnar entered to his original theme music and a huge pop from the American Airlines Arena crowd. Lesnar displayed his trademark bounce at the top of the entrance ramp, circled the ring and entered. He taunted Cena then stretched out his hand for a handshake. Cena reached back and was pulled into the tornado known as the F-5, a move that fathered Cena’s adoption of the “Attitude Adjustment” formerly known as the “F-U” from his own previous feud with Lesnar. The Miami crowded exploded into cheers as Lesnar kicked Cena’s hat out of the way.

It’s clear that Lesnar will be used as a main-eventer. He’s too famous in and out of wrestling circles not to be and at 34 years old, Lesnar has more than enough time to make a long career in sports-entertainment if he chooses too. Also, because of his reach into the MMA market, Lesnar is sure to attract many fans back to the WWE. Once again we can say, Here Comes The Pain.

UGH!!!!

I’m really getting tired of this sense in the black community, that if you don’t buy into the same identity, or “swag” as everyone else that you are somehow “less black”. This truly shows the seeds of divide and conquer have been planted, grown roots and have trapped many of us into remaining or conforming to some stereotypical view that doesn’t positively affirm our community.

Tyler Perry gets a lot of flack, and in and of itself, his form of entertainment is ok but, I do have a problem with him seemingly being our only voice in the film industry. I keep waiting for the transition to come, or at least a balanced view of blackness to be displayed by Tyler, but maybe that’s just not in him now. Back in the 80’s Spike Lee released films like “She’s Gotta Have It”, but if you ask for a “Spike Lee Joint” I doubt that is the first film that comes to mind. Spike seriously dealt with societal issues, within and without the black community.

However the most grieving to me is Hip-Hop.

This grieves me mainly, because Hip-Hop was our creation, our baby. I’m not against sharing it with other cultures, please don’t mistake this, but in the commercial/mainstream market for every Nas, there are ten Gucci Mane’s, for every Common there are twenty Soulja Boy’s. To be successful it seems you must sellout. Drug dealing is glorified as well as misogyny and womanizing. Women are objectified by the males and by themselves, and we consistently portray the thug and hoe, long after we’ve become successful to the point that we wouldn’t even think of stepping on the block. When’s the last time you HONESTLY think that Rick Ross has been dealing coke? When’s the last time Lil’ Wayne has really been an active gang member? Wayne has been in the industry since he was at least 16. However, they tell us how “real” they are every track. Hip-Hop also has a much higher concentration of blacks, thus is even more relatable than Hollywood.

Not only this, but if one maintains an innocence, or refuses to live to the low standards we’ve set for ourselves, we ostracize them. Look at Will Smith, one of the most successful rappers of all time over his 20 years as a rapper, he went 17 times platinum, and has had two number one hits. However, because he hasn’t subscribed to the thug image, he’s ostracized in hip-hop, rarely gets radio play or love in hip-hop circles.

I’m just wondering when our most respected and emulated faces will be more in the vein of Barack Obama, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Huey Newton and less like Rick Ross, Jay-Z and Lil Wayne.

*REVIEW* “STOP THE FUNERAL” – @ambassador215

Former Cross Movement member The Ambassador is back with his fourth solo album, STOP THE FUNERAL. In light of his past few years, many would assume this would be a somber, gloomy album, but instead it’s the opposite: celebratory, grateful, and refreshed.

The Album starts with “A-M”, “Get With Us”, and “Mind Made Up”. The tracks are definitely heavy in southern influence, but they have a fresh feel to them. Cheesebeats provided “Get With Us” and Xist Music labelmate Sean Simmonds came thru with an infectious hook.

Amba touches on his failings and how God corrected him openly for his sin.

Another notable track is “Favor” featuring Canton Jones, a collab that many NEVER expected. However Canton’s presence is felt , but Amba definitely soldiered the song.

Tracks 8 thru 14 are the album’s strong point in my humble opinion.

“Talk This Way” is an excellent display of Ambassador’s lyricism and adeptness to the East Coast style of hip-hop.

“Crumbs”, produced by Dave Hackley, Jr. (Lost by Da’ T.R.U.T.H.), is a beautiful song of brokenness and dependency. Amba narrarates the story of the Syrophenician woman, the Centurion’s servant, and the woman with the issue of blood. Jessica Reedy provides a voice that calls for help from Christ.

“Trust In You” featuring Mali Music as expected is a eccentric track. It has a 70’s feel to it and Mali delivers an intricate hook. Sadly there is no Mali verse. That however doesn’t hurt the track, a verse from the crooner would only have added to the song.

“Nothing Like Us” speaks on God’s unfailing and everlasting love. This track, also produced by Hackley, features Ryan Stevenson and Charmaine. Ryan’s CCM-esque hook is a welcome blend with The Ambassador’s lyricism.

“Your Love” featuring KJ-52 and Michelle Bonilla is a worship song, reliant on piano keys and a light electric guitar.

“Put It Down” is a BANGER, and it also showcases Amba’s lyricism. Lines like “you’re looking at praisers, who know how to get it up, know how to get it in/couldn’t keep the law, but the Spirit keeps abiding like a citizen” and “praise Him in the A.M. Hey I’m just saying ‘why we delaying?’/praise Him in the P.M., we’re in the club of people who see Him/as worthy, surely He is worthy, His mercy endureth/as for the the earth, He made the earth and of course He can cure it”

Finally “The Reunion Cypha” is a call back to classic CM tradition. It features Shai Linne, God’s Servant, C-Lite, J.A.Z., Cruz Cordero, and DJ Wade O.

“Stop The Funeral” proclaims that Jesus and the Gospel do exactly that, stop the funerals in our lives, freeing us from sin and its wage, death. So its understandable that we would be upbeat, happy, joyous, and full of praise for our Savior.

Ambassador does a great job of conveying just that, and the tracks do as well.

I give Stop The Funeral a 4/5.

Strong Tracks include “Get With Us”, “Crumbs” , “Trust In You” and “Put It Down”.

A Mali verse, and some featured rappers on songs like “Put It Down”, “Talk This Way”, and “Mind Made Up” (read in Da’ T.R.U.T.H. This’l, and Jahaziel, my picks) would have helped out a bit. Also I like CD’s with a little more length in tracklist.

Editor’s Note: If you add the “icebreakers” to the album, it is effectively 16 tracks long.

M.O.B. : A Dangerous Mentality

M.O.B.

It’s a motto many of us have heard, and some even live.

But really, what does that mean?

The acronym M.O.B. stands for Money Over B*****s.

That sounds like a pointless question because the words are poignant, crystal-clear. However, there is a deeper issue with that philosophy.

First money is only useful because of the things it can get you. So in essence Money = things. If we look at our culture the evidence of monetary wealth is seen in what the person owns or buys. Rappers brag on how many whips and chains they have bought, and how many women they have “had” because of the money they make.

Our culture celebrates excess and having abundance when others are below the poverty line. I was thumbing thru a weekly magazine, I forget which one, but the cover story was on the wedding of socialite and reality star Kim Kardashian and New Jersey Nets forward Kris Humphries. The price of gifts found on their registry was insane. Don’t get me wrong its ok to have nice things, but some things are over the top. For instance on the list was a $1600 teapot, an $840 dollar ashtray, a $1250 spoon? Where is the practicality in that?

But back to the point, when monikers like M.O.B. are accepted, it fosters a culture that devalues human life. It also stunts the growth of love on an everyday, to all people variety. M.O.B. is seen on Wall Street and big business as well as the hood, so it is not a contained phenomenon. Brokers have been all about the dollar, big business works by exploiting the labor and service of its lower level employees, and when government crackdown comes on, as we’ve seen, the working man loses, actually hundreds of them. they’re fired, not for doing a bad job, but to save an executive who used his expense account to fund whatever it is he wanted whether it was an extra-marital affair, or just to pocket extra money.

People tend to be corrupted when M.O.B. is they’re motto. The Bible says “The love of money is the root of all evil.” 1 Timothy 6:10 We see it when someone is gunned down for an unpaid debt, when people are sold into sex trafficking, when people and nations are bullied out of resources like oil, diamonds, and other “precious goods”.

Money at the end of it all is good for momentary pleasure, that moment can last for years, even a lifetime, but ultimately, it doesn’t go with you when you die.

For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? – Jesus, found in Mark 8:36-37

*Review* “Tough Love and Parables” – @mynameisbizzle

In my memory, there hasn’t been a buzz as big as this for a debut album in Christian Hip-Hop circles.

Bizzle, the Christian rapper who burst onto the scene last January with the “Explaining to Do” expose’ on Jay-Z’s illuminati/Masonic ties, presents to the world his debut album, “Tough Love and Parables”. Bizzle has, to date, released three mixtapes in his “Messenger” series. Messenger one last March, Messenger 2 last June, and Messenger 3 this past January. Each mixtape is available free of charge at http://www.iambizzle.com/

The album starts with an acapella intro verse. The verse doubles as a prayer and mission statement. The basic sentiment is that this world is used to evil, and that the truth has been suppressed. He asks God to correct him if he isn’t speaking the truth in love, but also points out the hypocrisy of most listeners who shun righteous “judging” and trade back their own form of judging.

EX: “if him saying thuggin’ is wrong is judging you/ then calling him a ‘square’ for not thuggin’ is judging too”

Biz also assaults the tendency of many in the public to defend those who are in the wrong by saying “he’s just trying to provides for his kids” pointing to the fact that there are those who speak up against the lawlessness and are killed for “snitchin” comparing the two vastly different forms of protecting ones family and children. Bizzle comes to give balance to our judgement scales according to the Bible.

The album transitions to “Long Time Comin”, a southern track that samples Sam Cooke’s iconic lines from “Change Gone Come”. Bizzle laments over the shunning from those he seeks to help with his stance against the lies given in most hip-hop music. Biz also exhorts the listener to walk uprightly and be an example of right living for their kids.

The next track is “15 Seconds”, it was originally seen on “Messenger 2”. Bizzle vows to use whatever attention he gets in his “15 seconds of fame” to tell the truth about the lies many have bought into. He also exhorts listeners to make a decision to stand against evil

After that is “Stand Up”, another song aimed to rally listeners to stand even against the masses. Bizzle tells the listener to “take off the running shoes and put the work boots on” while moving toward changing.

“Better Way” is the lead single featuring P-Dub aka Willie Moore Jr. Bizzle uses the track to tell stories, or parables, of those living the street life and pointing to a better way.

Next is “God Over Money” an anthem track, with an anthem hook. “I am a G.O.M’er, courtesy of G O D fo eva’, its God over money, and money over NOTHING, it only got the power that you give it when you love it”

“Somebody” is a track that Biz tells the story of Jay. The smooth track has the feel of a back in the day, reminiscing song. Through the song, Bizzle shows the consequences of making the wrong decisions in life and how they affect the people who love you most. This is a track essential to the project and is, in my opinion the best song on the album. Bizzle tells us that there is somebody that “sticks closer than a brother.”

“Don’t Throw It” is a track aimed at the sisters. You know the message; don’t throw it (your body) around carelessly. “Treat it like it’s worth something.”

“I’m Tryna Go” features Mouthpi3ce. The track sounds a little cheesy, but they make up for it with solid verses. Both pledge allegiance to the Lord and express willingness to serve the Lord in any capacity.

“I’ll Holla” is another exceptional track. It has a summertime feel, although the hook chant of “I’ll Holla” borders on something that’ll make you skip to the next verse.

“You Don’t Know” is a simple track, but the lyrical display on it covers that. In the third verse, Bizzle illustrates the father-child relationship and the foresight God has on how money and things would “spoil” us. If you are a parent, you withhold candy from your children, because you know it will cause stomachaches and cavities. Bizzle tells us that “Love” is not a “yes-man”, but will lovingly check you for your safety.

“This Ain’t Love” draws resemblance musically to “Maybach Music Pt. 2” by Rick Ross, but Bizzle, Lavoisier and Sevin go #GodOverMoneyAOMegaHOGMob on the track while explaining that Love has been taught to us wrong, we display fickle, self-seeking love.

The album ends with “Forgive Me” featuring Jin. Yes, Jin tha MC from Freestyle Friday fame. Both MC’s crack open their skeleton closets and dump the contents OUT.

This album is a solid entry, and accents the talents of Bizzle as a storyteller and highlights his picture-painting skills. Using vivid, yet realistic examples of compromise we see daily, he challenges us all to make a stand for righteousness.In my opinion some tracks could’ve used some reworking , but a good heart and solid to exceptional rhymes make this a good project.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Standout Tracks: “Stand Up”, “God Over Money”, “Somebody”, “You Don’t Know”, “This Ain’t Love”, “Forgive Me”

The “Air” Up There Is Thin

There will NEVER be another Michael Jordan. Period.

Obviously, this statement isn’t meant in the literal sense of those words, but in the skill-set, personality, determination, and drive that made him the quintessential athlete of the 90’s, the NBA, and a generation.

“His Airness” thrived on being told that he couldn’t, he thrived on adversity in a way unseen before, and highly likely NEVER to be duplicated. We know some of the famous slights, like being cut from his High School basketball team. In the 80’s he was told he couldn’t and wouldn’t get past the Celtics and Pistons. He was told he was only a scorer. These “criticisms” drove Jordan to become what the media and opponents said he couldn’t be.

Jordan has become the model for the high-flying, super-athletic, swingman. This is dangerous.

We can’t keep looking for the “next Jordan” like we have in the past with among others, Harold Minor, Penny Hardaway, Grant Hill, Vince Carter, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose. Such a lofty expectation is unhealthy for these players.

Although many, if not all players want to “be like Mike” to hold anyone who flashes a resemblance to Jordan is unreasonable.

No player can live up to the “Jordan template”.

Jordan himself didn’t have a template to live up to, and if he did, it was NO where near the shadow that Jordan has left on his position and the league he reigned in. If Jordan played straight thru the 90’s, (we can safely assume) that he would have held eight of the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players without a title during his run of dominance. Jordan broke the hearts of opponents with his last second shots and sheer dominance, through sickness, like the ‘97 NBA Finals, through tough emotions like the ’96 Finals, through pressure, like his first championship run, and he was the best player on the floor EVERY night. Six NBA Finals, six NBA Finals MVP awards. That is a tall order for anyone to live up to.

I propose: That since Jordan had no guide or template to live up to, we hold no one to his standards UNTIL they approach that level of accomplishment, until these and other players prove themselves to dominate despite adversity, please, no mentions in the stratosphere of “His Airness”.