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Archive for May, 2008

(Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty Images)  It’s okay Tim, you’re still the best player of the past decade…and counting

This week, my San Antonio Spurs lost in the Western Conference Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers. Yes, I was thoroughly disappointed and am just now recovered enough to write a post about it…partly as therapy. I need to sort out this rollercoaster-ride of a season for myself no matter how many paragraphs it takes.

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Rap music gets a bad rap these days.:) Some of it is because of poorly constructed puns like that last sentence in the music, but it is more likely due, in large part, to the perceived “thug” or “gangsta” image. I’m not even going to attempt going into the social causes or origins of that. All I’m going to say is that image is something that repulses many from the entire genre. It is one that often portrays women in a degrading manner, can glorify violence, and has a very self-righteous, arrogant attitude on top of it.

And it’s unfortunate this surface image is what keeps some very good music out of the minds of many people. Truly good hip-hop can be deeply expressive, socially insightful, and enlightening as well as entertaining.

There is a poetic, immediate quality to the music where the cadence and rhythm of language and words are paired with the same cadence and rhythm of music. In many ways, hip-hop appeals to me a lot strictly because of the way it can utilize and explore language through music in a way that can’t be done elsewhere. Sure, there can be some great lyrics in rock or any other type of music but your focus isn’t on them. It’s much easier to enjoy a rock song for the melody without even paying attention to the lyrics. Only in (true) hip-hop are the lyrics front and center — a song is built around the lyrics.

And skilled, talented rappers can create some of the most musically powerful and poignant stuff through that structure. Now I’ll give some examples of what I believe is some quality hip-hop. These aren’t necessarily classic, “important,” or “essential” tracks. I’m not an expert by any means, but I do enjoy what I find, and these are just a few songs that prove hip-hop isn’t all about, in the words of Jay-Z, “money, cash, hoes”:

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Sean Duggen - \ “The Moon Over the Desert” by Sean Duggen. A 26-second nighttime exposure at ISO 250. Beautiful. (via f/1.4 Photographs)

I’m so glad last week is over. I cannot tell you how relieved I am because it was not only the end of yet another semester, it was the end of a “Stage In Life.” Maybe not so dramatic as to deserve capitalization and quotation marks but it’s still kind of a big deal.

Next fall, I will be studying at a new school, in a new city, finally having transferred out. I swear, the last handful of years have felt like I was running on a hamster wheel. It does bother me a little that most of my peers have already graduated, but really, I’m so over worrying about being done with school by a certain age. It’s pretty much a non-issue.

I’m excited. (I don’t really get too easily excited by life circumstances.) Although I can’t wait to get a U-Haul trailer, fill it up with my belongings, and pull up to my new school a couple months from now, I’m still stressing over some complications to sort out and a bunch of little bumps standing in the way. But that’s how it always is. There very well may be a window that opens whenever a door closes, but no one told me that oftentimes when a great big door of opportunity opens, it seems every window in sight slams shut, leaving you with little ventilation and feeling all stuffy and claustrophobic. Okay, I may be over-exaggerating a little, but still, that’s how it feels sometimes.

This summer will be a busy and pivotal one. Work and school business permitting, I want to travel a little. Catch a Spurs game back home in San Antonio (assuming my beloved Spurs somehow find a way to make it past the evil Lakers), visit my cousin in NYC, and go hang out with my brother back in the motherland (Korea).

It feels good to be staring down the road of life and being at one of those points where you know the road is about to take you some place you’ve never been — where you can actually see something different, a change, a curve in the road, an orange sky in the distance, some mountains, something.

Songs of the Day:

Alexi Murdoch – “Orange Sky”
Coldplay – “White Shadows”
Okkervil River – “The Latest Toughs”
Jimmy Eat World – “The World You Love”
Death Cab for Cutie – “Blacking Out the Friction”

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It’s that time of year again. It’s been slowly building up for the past few weeks and things have now reached that familiar, dreaded crescendo. Yep, it’s that time when I cut myself off from friends, family, and most other forms of interaction to get myself through what is known as “Finals Week.”

I have a 20-page paper due by Tuesday. It’s for a ridiculously unorganized and challenging class that is worth about 4 times more credits than I’m getting for it. (The class actually turned out okay. A little exhausting, but okay…like most classes.)

I haven’t exactly started on the paper yet…and there are of course the final exams themselves to cram for.

But it’s actually not as bad this year. It isn’t nearly as bad as last semester, which I still can’t believe I got through in one piece. I think I lost about 8 pounds because of that. Maybe it’ll only be about 4 pounds this time around.

I hate life right now, but in a few days, I will experience immense joy in just being alive.

Songs of the Day:

Queen – “Under Pressure”
Beach Boys – “I Just Wasn’t Made for These Times”
Noisettes – “Don’t Give Up”
Coldplay – “Help Is ‘Round the Corner”

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You should like Coldplay because they jump around in boxes just like you do. Oh you don’t? Oh…well they do. So like them.

Say what you want about Coldplay, but no matter what you say, they do have legitimate song-crafting talent.

It’s almost a given that the cool indie kids all bash Coldplay. In fact, it’s become so ubiquitous that I think it’s come full circle; you’re now cool and hip if you’re brave enough to admit that Coldplay is actually pretty good…with qualifications, of course. One mustn’t forget the qualifications.

Whatever, without further ado, here is the reason for my post. It’s 3:25 AM and just before heading off to sleep, I stumbled upon the FREE new single from Coldplay’s upcoming album, “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends.” Yes, I thought of Ricky Martin too.

I’m likin’ the song and I’m hoping the new album lives up to my expectations.

Song of the Day:

Go get the FREE single! It’s called “Violet Hill.”

Well, it looks like it’s no longer available for free. You can go listen to it though. Sorry if you, like me, didn’t know about this a week ago, and missed out (I got it last minute). I could just upload it, but I’m not testing the RIAA gods on this one. I’m sure they’re out like hawks. Hungry ones.

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