Rocko – Gift of Gab 2

RoyalT Rating: 8 Crowns

GOG 2 cover

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Gift of Gab 2 seemingly emerged from nowhere because most major hip-hop websites anticipated Ignant or Seeing is Believing as Rocko’s next project. Nevertheless GOG2 dropped just in time to keep Rocko fans from assuming he took another lengthy hiatus, suspending their wishes for new music.

If you’re unfamiliar with his musical background, Rocko has a unique and identifiable style. Not only is his music filled with “integrity, ethics, morals, values, and principles” taught to him by “Da Streets,” but he has sentimental ideas on songs like “YU and I”, and insight that trap rappers typically wouldn’t show nor garner respect through. Rocko hardly ever deviates from topic, literally driving the point home until it’s exhausted– normally by using the the first half of his bars to establish repetition, emphasis and to create uniformity. It’s evident he “Prepared” for this project.

Rocko relays part of his preparation through  experimental concepts.  The countdown style hook of  “One Two” is understood, as in addition to– anything you can have, Rock has one too. “Slow Down” offsets the entire pace of the project. A slightly chopped-and-screwed voice doesn’t sound much different from normal, but offers very heartfelt lyrics.

“I’m too fast for the slowpokes/ Inspiration to the poor folks/ They live through me, they ride to me/ I love you, I hope you know what you are to me/My ar-tery-ty, blood I bleed, the air I breath/ I feed the streets, they help me eat.”

Great basslines flood the project. The captivating bass ripple of “Feels Good,” the eurogate based, spatial reverbs of “Stoooopid,” and the segmented chops of “Luv4 Life”  are sure to excite bass lovers.

Another strength of the opus is the proper use of features. An energized Gucci Mane brought the wild style, absent from Trap God 2on “You Can Tell,” and Lloyd brings the industry sound that could  elevate “ShiiKno” to a smash radio single.

Not all the features enhanced the project; Rick Ross offers some stale bars “U.O.E.N.O.” and Future sings a less than admirable hook. The chill vibe and idea of the song shows promise, but execution completely lacks.

Overall, Gift of Gab 2 is really solid. Elaborate metaphors, proper thematic scheming, booming beats and a unique style make this project worth a listen. There are a couple of mediocre songs like “Y” and “Imagine Dat,” but the overpowering strength of good songs greatly outweigh them.

Favorite tracks:

ShiiKno, Feels Good, You Can Tell

Least favorite tracks:

U.O.E.N.O. and Y

GOG 2 cover

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B.o.b – F*ck Em We Ball

RoyalTy Rating: 8 Crowns

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Undoubtedly, B.o.B is one of rap’s most versatile artists. He possesses capacity that transcends rap borders and delivers hits in multiple genres. His tolerable singing and ability to play guitar coupled with pop, industry appeal grants exploration of many musical avenues, yet F*ck Em We Ball caters directly to his rap fan base.

Apparently, B.o.B notices the current trends of rap. He hasn’t ratcheted down his energetic bars. Instead, he’s pared them with heavy, booming, rap-ready professional beats–a change that makes provisions for B.o.B to experiment. Super producers Mike Will, Sonny Digital and others help B.o.B evolve his sound. Metaphors, similes and smoothly transitioning punch lines solidify F*ck Em We Ball as it delivers exactly what fans anticipated.

B.o.B starts by paying homage to recently reelected Barack Obama, on the opening skit, before doing some campaigning of his own. “Champaign” aggressively asserts B.o.B’s new sound as he develops a metaphor comparing his rap grind to an election campaign while toying with the reference of presidential kush.

“Dynomite,” “Still In This Bitch” and “F*ck Em We Ball” continue establishing B.o.B’s newly incorporated facets. Fortunately, B.o.B hasn’t completely fallen into the allure of trap beats. He still incorporates eurogate laced, spatial sounding song qualities often associated with smoking on the project. “Be There” and “Roll One Up” have very chill vibes and show B.o.b’s range. He doesn’t always have to bombard listeners with “Beast Mode” like flows, and gives listeners music they can feel while he paints visual pictures. At times he seems less like a rapper and more like narrator relaying a sequence of events, especially on songs directed towards women like ”Greedy Love” and “Spend It.”

“Swagger on infinity/If you feelin it, get with it bitch/I’m doin that thing so diligent/I’ll go dumb on that pussy, make that clitoris go illiterate/How inconsiderate?” B.o.B threads a cleverly woven internal rhyme to close verse one before piano strokes introduce the hook on “Spend It.”

“Hell of a Night” might be the sleeper track of F*ck Em We Ball. It’s fusion of characteristics and extravagant production fulfills every requirement of a quality song. An  anthem style hook, uptemto bombastic party beat, a smooth flow make for a lethal combination. B.o.B playfully initiates the track with DJ scratching before he rocks the beat.

B.o.B creates a variety of music, but little caters to the club scene. “Best Friend” is a mediocre attempt. The components of success of are in place but weren’t packaged correctly as the hook lacks cohesion. It didn’t glue twerk music’s signature handclap to the dance motivated beat, but shows promise towards immediate improvement.

Although he experiments rapping over heavy beats, he didn’t allow these endeavors to overload and sour F*ck Em We Ball. B.o.B ‘s intangibles keep his projects from sounding monotonous because he balances savage bars against vibe music.  It would have been nice to hear B.o.B. do a story track, as he’s done in the past, or show listeners diversity displayed on his album, but F*ck Em We Ball is defined by B.o.B’s progress. He’s no longer allowing pop beats to diminish the wordplay of entertaining bars.

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NFL Week 9 Review: The Good

Normally disappointment litters the NFL each week, but after thorough search, I didn’t find many stories to fit the bad and ugly categories. So, this edition of my NFL weekly review will focus on breakout performances and achievements.

The Good:

Doug-ie Martin/There’s no place like home

Cruz has the Salsa, I have the Dougie

Last week I alerted NFL fans to pay particular attention to Doug Martin after 214 yards of total offense against the Vikings.  As expected, this week Martin taxed the Raiders’ defense for a career-high and  franchise-record 251 rushing yards and 4 TDs. Martin scored TD runs of 1, 45, 67, and 70 yards, becoming the first player in NFL history to record three TD runs of at least 45 yards in a game. His 24 direct points exceeded 17 teams point output, and his 220 yards in the second half crushes his previous rushing records. Ironically enough, last week, I jokingly asked Martin to teach us how to Dougie, so he did after a big touchdown run this week. This performance was a classic homecoming story as Martin roots stem from Oakland and he returned to California with people present. He reportedly had  more than 60 family members and friends in attendance witnessing him singlehandedly dismantle a defense. Final Score: Doug Martin and the Buccs 42, Raiders32.

Charles Tillman and the Bears Defense

Taking candy from a baby

One Chicago Bears player forced four fumbles this week. I bet if you had a guess your first, and most fitting, vote would go to Brian Urlacher. Surprisingly cornerback Charles Tillman was the culprit responsible for continuously separating offensive players from the football, including a strip on the Titans first offensive play from scrimmage. Yet, impressive defense didn’t stop there. Urlacher housed a 46-yard interception, giving the Bears defense a TD in 3 consecutive weeks raising their total to 5. The special teams unit followed suit by blocking a punt and returning it for a touchdown. Their defense was impeccable and made the Titans appear small. A gargantuan defensive efforts almost makes a person forget the Bears scored 51 points this week. Final Score: Bears 51, Titans 20.

Lucky or good?

Loading up

Adding the highly touted number one draft pick, Andrew Luck, didn’t raise Colts’ expectations entering this season while beginning the post Manning era. Yet, the performance of Andrew Luck has the Colts comfortably sitting at 5-3, actively chasing a playoff berth. Luck led the Colts to victory throwing for a rookie-record 433 passing yards, barely breaking Cam Newton’s record of 432 yards from last season. Luck’s poise and ability to command the pocket confirms that he’ more about skill than luck. I almost mistook Luck as Manning running the Colts’ offense. Check their numbers, you’ll be surprised. Both Luck and Manning have 2,404 passing yards on the season. Final Score: Colts 23, Dolphins 20.

Fire Marshall

Sit down kid

Statistically speaking, two receivers had more yards than Bears wide out Brandon Marshall in week 9, but neither of those receivers hauled in a TD pass, let alone 3. Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall’s chemistry hasn’t digressed from their Bronco days. In essence, Marshall classifies as a poor man’s Calvin Johnson. Marshall capabilities extend to every intangible Johnson has, but he may not be as fast or jump as high. Yet I’d argue that he’s just a strong, may be more physical, and his hands are just as sure. He helped complete a franchise day in Bears history, catching Chicago’s fourth TD of the first quarter for 28 points.

Adrian Peterson returns to form

Drink more of that and you’ll be good.

The NFL’s most physical runner appears to have gotten his mojo back after a 2011 MCL tear. Everybody knows AP is the most violent runner the league has to offer. His game-breaking speed and agility coupled with ferocious strength makes AP one of the league’s most formidable opponents. Seattle came in as one of the most physical and stingiest rush defenses in the NFL, and AP has struggled to tally consistent numbers Sunday, none of that mattered as AP totaled two TDs and 182 yards, averaging 10.7 yards a carry. His longest run of the day came on a 74 yard sideline sprint, where AP suddenly cut inside, between two defenders, and was walked down inside the 5-yard line. It’s clear to see AP’s leg strength and agility has returned. Stay watchful for improvements in his conditioning. Once it returns, he will resume duties as a game-breaking force. Seahawks 30, Vikings 20.

NFL Week 8 Review: The Good, Bad and Ugly

The Good:

Falcons fly high

Where’s the defense?

Atlanta remains as the only unbeaten team, and had to beat the odds to do so. Philly’s coach, Andy Reid, had never lost coming off of a bye week since he took leadership 1999. Many thought that a well-rested Eagles team might sneak up and deliver Atlanta their first loss of the season, especially since they were the Falcon’s first opponent with a winning record, but that didn’t happen. Atlanta broke out the gates early and never slowed their pace. Matty Ice delivered one of his most impressive games this season, completing 76% of his passes for 262 yards and three TDs. He displayed great pocket presence and linked up with Julio Jones on a 63-yard bomb. Overall the Falcons offense looked completely synced as their aerial attack led to scores on their first six drives. Final score: Falcons 30, Eagles 17

Teach me how to Dougie

“These Ninjas can’t hold me back!”

Doug Martin, running back for Tampa Bay, absolutely danced on the Vikings defense and totaled the best numbers of his short, rookie career. Martin found holes in the Vikings defense, and when there weren’t holes he shifted to create them. In total, Martin tallied 214 total yards, 135 of which were rushing. He displayed patience, balance and speed as he accounted for the majority of Tampa Bay’s offense and statistically lead in rushing and receiving. Watch out for him in future because this didn’t appear to be a fluke game. Final Score: Buccs 36, Vikings 17

Lone star

“The Redskins could have used me.”

Dallas didn’t have much to cheer about after an extremely painful loss to the Giants, but there was one bright spot. Overall, Dallas’ offense failed to produce, as expected under Romo’s leadership, but Jason Witten consistently performed. Hauling in 18 receptions, Witten set a NFL record for tight ends and broke the Cowboys team record he previously set. Those 18 receptions led to 167 yards. Witten continues to solidify his position as the best TE in Cowboys history, and a game of this magnitude was highly unexpected considering the many drops he had while returning from injury earlier this season.

The Bad 

St. Louis gets rammed in England

“We came all the way to London for this?”

Rapid rise in NFL popularity lead to international games played in London for the past few years. Fans in London appreciate the games, but I’m not so sure they’re satisfied with the product they received this year. New England felt right at home and blasted the Rams in epic fashion. From the Rams standpoint, how do you fold and give up 45 points? At some point integrity should kick in and lead to better play, yet they were just going through the motions. How can they help further the NFL brand when their product was equivalent to a flag football team? Final Score: Patriots 45, Rams 7


RG3 had every right to be the most frustrated player this week. His Redskins were over-matched by a tough Steelers team and played like they believed it. Griffin stayed in the pocket and delivered several passes to his receiver’s hands, yet many passes fell to the turf. RG3 completed 16 of 34 passes, which is definitely something to frown upon, but his receivers dropped 10 passes. Consider the difference these drops could have made in potential scoring drives or maintaining offensive momentum. The Skins apparently had a popcorn party before the game. Everybody arrived with butterfingers.  I think its permissible to allow their receivers to wear Stick Em. Final Score: Steelers 27, Redskins 12

The Ugly


Pittsburgh decided to sport a vintage look… and it failed miserably. There aren’t enough words to describe how appalling their jersey’s looked. They were the 1934 edition for a reason and should have been left in the past. I wasn’t sure if I was watching a bumblebee documentary or watching convicts form a modern version of the gridiron gang.

Gucci Mane – Trap God

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Given how frequently Gucci Mane’s name has appeared in hip-hop headlines recently, there’s no surprise that a project followed. What better way to promote Trap God than to revive an infamous beef with Young Jeezy and subsequently release a diss track titled “Truth?”

Ironically enough, “Truth” doesn’t appear on Trap God. Nevertheless, Gucci generously loads his most recent opus with 20 tracks. Gucci rose to fame by flooding the streets with an abundance of music, and this mixtape appears to be no different. The majority of the tracks will be forgotten by time his next project releases because most tracks were less than memorable. Apart from beat selections, there aren’t many reasons to praise the self-proclaimed Trap God.

One high point of the mixtape comes from a song where Gucci collaborates with Rick Ross, who also has openly beefed with Young Jeezy, titled “Head Shots.” The track has a catch hook, and the appearance from industry heavyweight Rick Ross adds magnitude and almost solidifies it’s potential as message to further the  Young Jeezy beef.

Trap God is defined more by beats than by lyrics. Songs like “Act Up” and “Never See” have no place on this project because the project’s title leaves no room for their existence. Their overall commercial sound directly contrast what trap music is regardless of Gucci’s verses.

The efforts of songs like “F*ck the World,” “Servin” and “Suckaz,” which were genuinely nice tracks, were offset by subpar efforts on songs like “Rolly Up” and “Gas and Mud.”

“Rolly Up” lands as a failed attempt to establish a connection between street life and prestigious possessions. The connection falls ridiculously short and attempts to take opinion and assert it as a widely believed notion.

“A dope boy watch is a Rolex/ Every dope boy dream to have a Rolex/ Everybody in the hood want a Rolex/ You better keep your pistol with ya Rolex.”

Another fault of Trap God materializes in feature selection. Appearances from Waka Flocka are expected, but Gucci showed minimal effort, failing to extend to rappers apart from those on his Bricksquad label. Trap God serves as Young Scooter’s, Gucci Mane’s latest acquisitions, temporary platform to showcase rap as he appeared on 6 tracks.

Trap God’s makeup is slightly puzzling. Many of the first 10 tracks barely classify as trap music, while most songs after “Servin” (track 11) are actual trap songs. From a thematic standpoint, Gucci dropped the ball and failed to generate relevant trap music. Most of this was filler music, but given Gucci’s history, Trap God’s might signify the coming of a more serious project in the near future.


*Review also hosted at

NFL Week 4 Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:

Return of the refs

Who ever would have thought refs would be applauded?

Finally, the much awaited return of official referees arrived. Fans had to endure 3 weeks of replacement refs’ horrendous officiating: extra timeouts, free touchdowns, excessive defensive pass interference calls, phantom holding calls, etc– the list goes on. Fortunately, for fans’ sake, the Packers served as martyrs protecting the games’ integrity. Fans greeted regular officials with an explosion of cheers and a generous standing ovation upon returning during Thursday night’s football game. Final outcome: Better officiating, although not by much.

Last week: flat line, this week: Hartline and Tannehill revived in a Dolphins’ loss

Diving for every yard: The difference between 250 and 253.

Who is Brian Hartline? Since I’m sure you don’t know, he is the Miami Dolphins receiver that absolutely exploded in week 4. Hartline snagged 12 receptions for a Dolphins record of 253 yards and a touchdown. Yes, 253 yards, and that wasn’t a typo. In weeks 1-3 Hartline totaled 202 yards and no TDs, so he more than doubled his season’s production. If he’s available in your fantasy league, pick him up! He might be the perfect addition to fit your flex position until we’re sure he can produce consistently.

Hartline helped springboard his QB, Ryan Tannehill, to a record-setting day in his young, rookie career. Tannehill accrued 431 passing yards, although the effort came in a tough, overtime loss to ball hawking Arizona Cardinals. The confidence Tannehill gained will be helpful going forward, although he threw twice as many interceptions as TDs (2-1). Final Score: Cardinals 24, Dolphins 21.

Patriots go Buffalo hunting

Everybody’s involved.

New England appeared doomed by stagnant offense as the Buffalo Bills took a 21-7 lead early in the third quarter. It seemed like they would lose to another middling team and drop to 1-3 for the season. Then, they mounted up, grabbed their muskets and went Buffalo hunting. New England abused Jacksonville’s defense, running off 42 unanswered points. If any team struggles to play offense, they should watch this game’s tape. Players contributed from all positions. Two running backs, Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley, rushed for over 100 yards and combined for 3 TDs. Wide receiver, Welker, and tight end, Gronkowski, also added 100 yard games. It looked like a practice scrimmage at game speed because tackles weren’t made. Buffalo’s lackluster players insinuated a quitter’s mentality,which just may have led to New England finding their mojo. Final Score: New England 52, Bills 28

The bad & Ugly Combined:

Oh no! Romo

#47’s Reaction insinuates this was one of the housed interceptions.

The only people not saying “oh no” when Romo recklessly flung the ball was Chicago’s defense, who eagerly awaited every opportunity. Romo threw 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 INTs, tying the most in his career. Although Romo sported a Cowboys uniform, he was the Bears’ best player. Two of his interceptions were housed. Dallas scored 18 points, so Chicago technically needed one offensive touchdown to win. Romo’s questionable decision-making unraveled any chance Dallas had of winning. Usually Tony “No Show” has the patience to wait and save his awful games for playoff stretches, but why wait? Why not come out and stink it up on Monday Night Football when everybody is watching? Final Score: Cowboys 18, Romo and the Bears 34.

Grounded Jets couldn’t take flight

Another grounded “Jet” that couldn’t fly.

Have you ever gotten a “whuppin” for doing something you weren’t supposed to? Apparently the Jets are familiar with this feeling. Jets were created to fly, but their parents, the 49ers, grounded them and never allowed them to take flight. Was this great defense, or bad offense? Good defense leads to bad offense, so let’s assume both took place. Bottom line, New York couldn’t muster a single point – Zero, zilch, nada! After all, they only generated 145 yards of total offense, so at best they were in scoring position one time. One more week of this and the New York Fans will be chanting “TEBOW, TEBOW, TEBOW!” The prodigal return of the Jesus Quarterback is inevitable. Final Score: Jets 0, 49ers 34

Once again, the Raiders

That expression says it all.

I’m kinda tired of the Raiders landing here every week. One week after giving them praise, I’m back to blasting them again. Whats wrong in Oakland? Who’s to blame for their lack of competing? Injuries can’t excuse playing this poorly. The Denver Broncos hadn’t scored a first quarter TD this season until playing Oakland, who relinquished 10 first quarter points. Oakland lacked everything necessary to compete: confidence, tenacity and energy. Denver limited star running back, Darren McFadden (Run DMC), to 34 yards on 13 carries. Simple math confirms that’s less than three yards per carry. McFadden is supposed to break or allude tackles, not make tackles. Oakland’s sloppy arm tackling allows opponents to stretch five yard plays to 25+ yards. Big play threats always loom. The coaching staff must assume onus for this. We know they aren’t supposed to make tackles, but they are responsible for coaching discipline and fundamental principles like wrapping up. I have more to say, but I’m sure they will give me an opportunity to do so next week, so I’ll close with a quote from Carson Palmer, “It was nothing more than a good, old-fashioned butt-whupping.” Final Score: Raiders 6, Broncos 37.

NFL Week 3 Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:

Win now, cry later

An emotional Torrey Smith celebrating TD

Torrey Smith’s emotionally infused play lifted his team to victory. After an early morning call informed Smith that his 19-year-old brother, Tevin, had been killed in a motorcycle accident, Torrey opted to stick with the team for Sunday Night Football against the Patriots. Tears rolled down Smith’s face early in the game as football didn’t distract him from his brother’s death. Instead, Smith managed to channel that emotion into fierce football play. Smith grabbed everything that was thrown his direction: snatching six receptions, 120 yards and two TDs, contributing to Baltimore edging New England with a game winning field goal. Final Score: Ravens 31, Patriots 30.

Jamaal Charles shows that once again the Saints ain’t play defense

sAint tackling me!

If you didn’t notice Jamaal Charles’ name has an extra “A,” why, because he’s just that awesome. Last season Charles injured his ACL in week one and sat out the entire season. A slow start had many Charles supporters questioning if he could manifest the potential displayed in previous seasons because he’s struggled to find rhythm totaling 90 yards on 24 carries in the first two weeks of this season. Right when people began to write him off, Charles taxed the Saints’ atrocious run defense for 233 yards and a TD. There isn’t a need for statistical backing to illustrate how terrible the Saints have been, but to make it quick: 2 Quarterbacks, not running backs, achieved career-high rushing yardage this year vs. the Saints, and they’ve given up over 100 points in three weeks. Final Score: Chiefs 27, Saints 24.

80 yards to victory

Shorts stretching to break the plane

The Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of the NFL’s doormats in recent years, but this wasn’t the case on Sunday. Andrew Luck had just led the Colts down the field for a Vinatieri field goal that seemingly doomed Jacksonville to a fate they’re all too familiar with– losing. Everybody believed the Jags would lose except for quarterback Blaine Gabbert who said, “I told the guys going out onto the field, We’re going to win. Right here, right now.” The following play Gabbert connected with Cecil Shorts III on an 80-yard TD catch and run that sealed the game. Final Score: Jaguars 22, Colts 17.

Raider’s steal one from Steelers

Janikowski celebrating game winning FG

Last week I jokingly stated that the disorganized Raiders risked compiling an 0-16 record. This week, I have no problem eating those words. It appeared that my prophecy might remain on track, but Oakland dug deep, took a page from Pittsburg’s book, and racked off 13 unanswered fourth quarter points to seize the game as time expired. Beating the Steelers, one of the NFL’s elite teams, might be exactly what Oakland needed to separate from their losing ways and jumpstart their season, especially since Roethlisberger threw for 384 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. Final Score: Raiders 34, Steelers 31.

The Bad & Ugly Combined:

Its official, the replacement officials are terrible

Ref on left: touchback. Ref on right: touchdown

Week after week the replacement refs’ terrible calls catastrophically affect the outcome of games. This week has been no different. There’s an array of available examples to illustrate this point, but none will cause more upheaval than the last second jump ball of the Seahawks-Packers game. First, the officials missed Golden Tate’s blatant offensive pass interference when he pushed Sam Shields down. Secondly, it’s clear that the Packers defender possessed the ball before what some believed was a simultaneous catch. Tate, the receiver on the play, appeared to have only one hand/arm on the ball as the defender came to the ground. One official signaled touchdown, and another signaled touchback. Green Bay had this game taken from them, and before the lockout ends, the playoff picture will be greatly skewed. If the referee lockout doesn’t end this week, don’t be surprised when the replacement refs appear on the “ugly” list next week. Final Score: Seahawks 14, Packers 12.

Eagles’ offensive line has been defenses best friend

Need i say more?

Mike Vick has possibly been criticized more than any player in the NFL this year, but it’s becoming clear that more of his criticism should be shared with a few teammates. Vick’s offensive line refuses to give him time to drop back and survey the field before a defender breaks through and threatens to bruise his ribs again. It’s incomprehensible how the same linemen can zone block and create holes for a running back, but can’t give their quarterback more than 2 seconds before he’s forced to break containment, or is simply knocked on his ass. Their lack of protection ensure it’s only a matter of time before Vick sustains another injury from hanging in the pocket and getting blasted by a 300-pound lineman. Final Score: Cardinals 27, Eagles 6.

Superman Cam encounters kryptonite coated Giants

Sideline behavior

Dejected, frustrated and battered; what do these words have in common other than ending with –ed? They’re all adjectives to describe Cam Newton’s sideline demeanor/composure as he helplessly watched New York’s bench players, Ramses Barden and Andre Brown, dismantle his defense. Yet, each time Cam took the field, disaster struck. The Giants arguably have the best defensive line in football, and their relentless pressure forced Cam to throw three INTs. If Cam is Superman, then the Giants’ defense is an oversized barrel of kryptonite. Final Score: Giants 36, Panthers 7.

This poll was a no brainer

NFL Week 2 Review: The Good, Bad, and Ugly

The Good:

Gigantic trio

Dancing on the defense.

Following a turnover ridden first half, The Giants offense exploded with an outpour of epic proportions. Tampa Bay frustrated Eli Manning into three first half interceptions, which translated into an 11-point halftime lead. Then, magic took place. Manning passed for 295 yards and 3 TDs, in the second half alone, which represented a portion of his career-high 510 passing yards. Victor Cruz torched Tampa Bay for 11 receptions, 179 yards and a TD, and Hakeem Nicks’ sure hands hauled in 10 catches, 199 yards and a TD. Overall, New York amassed 604 total yards, which can’t bode well for Tampa Bay’s team defense stats. The Giants’ wide receivers literally danced all over the Bucs’ defense as Cruz displayed his signature Salsa, after grabbing an 80-yard bomb. Final Score: Giants 41, Buccaneers 34.

Green Bay’s “bar-Bear-ic” defense

Tramon Williams #38, Clay Matthews #52

Last week Chicago scored 41 points, but that was against an invisible Colts defense, not the Green Bay Packers. A stingy Packers defense frustrated Bears quarterback, Jay Cutler, to no end sacking him seven times (hit many more), and forcing four interceptions. Linebacker Clay Mattews had 3.5 sacks, and cornerback Tramon Williams was responsible for two INTs. Cutler’s body language was obviously negative, and he barked at a teammate for missing blocks. Regardless, the Bears only generated 168 yards of total offense as the Pack’ swarmed to the ball all night. In fact, the Bears didn’t score their first TD until the fourth quarter when the Packers had clearly secured the game. Final score: Packers 23, Bears 10

The Bad:

New Orleans’ broken levee defense

Newton: Saints (s)Aint play no defense

New Orleans’ defense has been extremely porous this season conceding 75 points and 924 yards of total offense in two games. One week after tying a franchise low, 10 yards to Tampa Bay, the Carolina Panthers poured in 219 rushing yards against a permeable Saints defense. Quarterback Cam Newton rushed for a career-high 71 yards on 13 attempts complemented by 148 yards from the remaining rushing core: mainly DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Even if the Saints revived the bounty system they had going last season, it wouldn’t be enough to spark their problematic defense. Bigger problems loom if the 0-2 Saints can’t defeat mediocre teams (Redskins and Panthers), because the offensively potent Falcons appear ready to take the NFC South division title. Final Score: Panthers 35, Saints 27.

Patriots lose to clipped, winged Cardinals

Gostkowski lays in agony, Cards celebrate

I’d like to say that the Cardinals beat the Patriots, but that simply isn’t true because the Patriots beat themselves. The Cardinals literally fumbled a win into New England’s possession, and the Pats’ couldn’t capitalize. Ryan Williams fumbled at the Cardinals 30-yard line, and Vince Wilfork recovered, which put the Pats’ in instant scoring position. The Pats’ gained six yards setting up a 42-yard field goal after a TD was called back for holding. Stephen Gostkowski, shanked the kick so far left that it completely missed the retention net. Despite the Patriot’s sloppy play, they could have, and should have, beat the low flying Cardinals operating under their backup quarterback. Final Score: Cardinals 20, Patriots 18.

The Ugly:

The Raiders…enough said

Bush eludes Raider’s tackler

The Raiders managed to avoid the “ugly” list last week because they were apart of Monday Night Football, but this week they weren’t so lucky. Oakland alone has been responsible for at least 50% of head-scratching moments this season. An atrocious special team, nonexistent offense and pervious defense have pretty much ensured that the Raiders have the potential of going 0-16 this year, especially since their offense relies very heavily on an injury riddled Darren McFadden. Let’s look at the facts. Miami, yes the Dolphins, out rushed Oakland 263-23 led by Reggie Bush’s 172 yards accumulated by a combination of shifty moves and poor tackling. Secondly, the Raiders managed to convert a menial 1-12 on third down conversions. Lastly, they didn’t force any turnovers. The first turnover they might force is one of their head coach’s job. At this rate, they might make the ugly list every week.

Josh Morgan’s literally throws away chance to win

New definition of “throwing the game”

Josh Morgan made a boneheaded decision late in the fourth quarter of the Redskins-Rams game by throwing the ball at an opposing player. As Washington was driving down the field attempting to tie or take the lead, Morgan caught a pass and valiantly attempted to fight his way out of bounds on third down. After rising from the tackle, Cortland Finnegan, whose reputation as a dirty player precedes him, shoved Morgan’s helmet. Morgan, emotional and frustrated, retaliated by throwing the football at Finnegan prompting a 15-yard Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty, which moved the ensuing 37-yard field goal attempt to 62 yards. Cundiff missed the kick, as expected. It’s shameful that a reckless disregard may have caused the Redskins their first loss of the season. Final score: Rams 31, Redskins 28.

Kirko Bangz – Procrastination Kills 4 (PK4)

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Procrastination Kills 4 (PK4) lands as a project slightly better than mediocre. Kirko adequately illustrates his major strengths, songs of pain and others with exceptional hooks, while simultaneously showing that limited concepts and delivery bobbles need a little improvement.

Kirko’s strongest suit derives from painting pictures of pain and narrating tales of transforming tragedy to triumph. There’s something about his struggle that allows him to captivate listeners even when they don’t relate to his struggles. The effect of “Use to Be” is one of the most impactful tracks. The story of Kirko’s aunt filling the role of his mother and best friend, before being murdered by her husband, provides glimpses into his trialing childhood.

“Have a auntie like your mom and she was your best friend/ She helped you get your first car, helped you furnish ya crib/ Get ya girlfriend a job, helped yal through s**t/ Dress your sister up for prom, helped you manage ya chips/ And you turn around and lose her in the same damn year.”

“Vent,” “On My Own” and “Help Me Out” further Kirko’s message and portraits of pain.

Another major strength of PK4 rests in musical versatility. Far too many rappers rely on bass-overloaded beats to fight half their battle of acquiring fans. It’s obvious that Kirko understands the importance of appealing beats because his previous singles – “What Yo Name Iz” and “Drank in my Cup” – garnered most of their attention from their bombastic bass lines and catchy hooks. On this project, Kirko doesn’t allow that same pattern to restrict or define his identity.

PK4’s song order works as a huge asset. Instead of placing the biggest hits within the first seven songs in typical fashion, Kirko groups the songs by type, which allows for smoother transitions. Bombastic hits come first followed by songs catered to sex and strippers. He then proceeds with narratives of struggle, heartache and pain, before ultimately finishing with a selection of smoother tunes that ride.

Houston, Kirko’s birthplace, flies under the radar for the majority of PK4 before its musical influences break through. It’s not until the last three tracks – especially “Lettin Them Know” featuring Paul Wall and “Laid Back” – where slower, riding beats or chopped and screwed hooks materialize.

Yet, Kirko demonstrates weakness. “Nasty N***a” could have been left off PK4 altogether. It doesn’t do much to improve the project, and the presentation of the song comes off a bit weak.

“Stop B*****n” follows suit. The song wasn’t well planned.  Kirko removed intensity from his voice, but the instrumentation of Drake’s interlude of “Good One’s Go” didn’t mesh with Kirko’s intended theme. Kirko has to consider his delivery prior to choosing beats. Sure, it’s supposed to be an emotional song where he airs out complaints, but his brash delivery was harsher than what the instrumentation could support, resulting in a clash.

Limited topics also work against Kirko. Every rapper has a comfort zone of subjects in which they operate, but Kirko’s potential promises better works in the near future.

Overall, Procrastination Kills 4’s semisolid effort serves as a promising platform for 23-year-old Kirko Bangz. His weaknesses are easily addressable. After a little maturation as a rapper and improved subject matter, Kirko’s potential could give birth to a consistent hit maker.


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Lil Wayne – Dedication 4

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If Lil Wayne’s Dedication 4 serves as a parting gift to fans, some will love it, others will hate it. Instead of lacing his 15-track mixtape with commercial bars that have flooded the radio in recent months, Wayne attempts to go back to the essence of what arguably made him the greatest rapper alive. Whether he succeeded or not will be the topic of discussion in many hip-hop forums and conversations.

There’s no secret to Wayne’s blueprinting, preparation and structuring of Dedication 4. He aims to recapture the conceptual, lyrical beast displayed on the previous Dedications while showing rappers that their beats “aren’t safe,” as quoted on the Drought 3, and it definitely doesn’t hurt to have rap’s most popular mixtape endorser DJ Drama stamping the project.

Wayne never recaptures conceptual depths that appeared on his previous Dedication projects, and his style most resembles what No Ceilings offered. Yet, the Dedication 4 has its strong points: Catchy one liners flood each track, the features actually improve songs (J.Cole, Nicki Minaj, Young Jeezy, etc.), the beat selection is immaculate because it pulls from rap’s best and hottest bass lines, and Wayne actually caters his delivery pattern to mirror the original artist’s style on each beat.

“Same Damn Tune,” delivered over Future’s “Same Damn Time,” exhibits how Wayne structures his flow like each song’s original format. He matches patterns and places rhymes that end with similar syllables in memorable spots. In essence, he mimics the original version and adds a twist to it.  It’s safe to say that Wayne went harder than the majority of the original artists, and that’s something to appreciate because he chose songs like: “Burn” and “Amen” by Meek Mill, and “Cashin’ Out” by Cash Out.

Also in “Same Damn Tune” Wayne addresses the comments he made in his interview with DJ Drama.

“Rap is taking a backseat to skating,” said Wayne prior to the mixtape’s release. On the actual project he follows with this response:

“Im skatin’ and rappin’ at the same damn time/ I said I might retire, but yal know I be high.”

Weezy is setting the stage for a situation that mirrors Jay-Z’s. Instead of completely breaking ties with rap and retiring outright, Wayne has left the door open for reappearances. He wants to spend more time venturing down other avenues like his Trukfit clothing line. In the meantime, he should have spent more time preparing for a potential exit that would leave fans wanting more.

The Dedication 4 fell short of what fans expected, and his topics became redundant prematurely. Delivering tons of punch lines and excessively advertising for Trukfit are the only things Wayne accomplished. The Dedication 4 shows a lack of thought, and effort. It appears that Wayne never sought to raise the bar, and failed to display any versatility. Each song has the same format. Has Wayne really sold out and become a punch line rapper? This project suggests that just may be the case.


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