Monthly Archives: December 2012

R.I.P Capital Steez

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This week hip hop lost one of its brighter hopes Capital Steez from the Brooklyn Collective Pro Era, the same group which consists of Joey Bada$$. The death came as surprise for the world of hip hop with many expecting both Steez and Joey to make greater strides in the new year. Furthermore the death of Capital Steez, real name Jamal Dewal although not conclusive is suspected to being a result of suicide. Earlier on in the hours of Christmas Eve, Steez left a tweet on his account, seemingly his last, tweeting the words ‘The End’.

Whether or not the death of Jamal Dewal was suicidal or not, ultimately it was a sad day for hip hop as they lost one of their up and coming talents

Check out both Capital Steez and Joey Bada$$ as well as the Pro Era Collective in this impressive freestyle.

R.I.P Capital Steez.

Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)

Fergie’s Last Transfer?

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As the transfer speculation hots up once again, one side that will probably be cast aside from all the paper talk is Manchester United. Depending on what you read the coming summer should see many comings and goings at Old Trafford, most notably United fans should be overt to the knowledge that the so-called Old Guard of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand will most likely leave at the end of the year through impending retirements.

Therefore Sir Alex will be hoping for his latest crop of youngsters to step forward and take over the reins. Players like Rafael, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Tom Cleverley, Nick Powell and Danny Welbeck have already been earmarked as United’s new generation, with Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez, Ashley Young, Anderson and Nani seemingly in their primes in terms of their age.

However there is one thing missing from the crop of youngsters that I’ve identified and that is a raw talent to be the catalyst and change this group from hopefuls to world beaters. Remember when the class of 92 had begun to make noise, you could have suggested that David Beckham and Ryan Giggs were the catalysts behind that group. Similarly when there were early signs of Giggs losing that yard of pace, Ferguson already had the likes of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo bursting on the scene.

When you think about it, all of United’s star names or key players from the past had a ‘wonderkid’ to play alongside them, Cantona had Beckham and Giggs, Van Nisterlrooy had Ronaldo and Rooney, to keep up Fergie’s philosophy of interlinking both youth and experience in his team, so with that said who does Rooney have? Without being too harsh on Welbeck, as good as he will undoubtedly be, he doesn’t quite scream out the word ‘wonderkid’.

Consequently it does seem likely that Fergie will break the bank to sign that elusive wonderkid at some point in the next year. Don’t believe me? Well look at Ferguson’s willingness to sign both Eden Hazard and Lucas Moura before failing with both transfers and not to mention a reported cheeky little approach to sign Neymar. Shinji Kagawa was always going to be signed in the summer, same goes for Nick Powell and the transfer of RVP was a near once in a lifetime signing for Fergie.

But Ferguson’s main target was a wonderkid to lead his generation to the next 10 years. Recent reports from both the UK and Germany have suggested that United have a deal in place to sign striker Robert Lewandowski from German side Borussia Dortmund, something that has not been denied nor confirmed by the club.

My theory although a theory of optimism leads one to believe that Ferguson has probably sent a chief scout out to Germany to look at another of Dortmund’s talented jewels. Last season Mat Hummels was believed to be a transfer target of Ferguson’s however it was his teammate who was signed up by Manchester United in Shinji Kagawa. Maybe Ferguson has played the same card for a second successive year and is probably looking at Mario Gotze. But why Gotze?

If we are talking about one of the best players in world football under 22 then Gotze will definitely be amongst your top 3 in that list. A truly versatile player who still I believe doesn’t know his best position, has the skill and tactical awareness to fit into Ferguson’s team and become the talisman for the next 10 years. His understanding with Kagawa is almost telepathic and would indefinitely improve Kagawa’s game at United.

Also encouragingly enough for United Gotze has a clause in his contract, a clause that I have recently spoken about in one of my recent posts, which states that Gotze can speak to any club if that club offers a fee of £35m, this sum equals the money Chelsea spent on Hazard and the total that PSG agreed with Sao Paulo for the transfer of Lucas Moura.

Face it Ferguson’s tenure at United is nearly up, given his age and will want to give his successor the best possible chance of carrying on from where he left off, therefore that means leaving him with a squad capable to perform at that present time, however young enough to adapt to new tactics and philosophies. And he will want a player with enough star quality to act as that new talisman of his successor’s regime at United.

Just an examined intuition I guess…

Reece Ravalier (@ReeceRav)

Brede Hangeland Off To QPR?

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The news today that’s all over Fulham and QPR’s online forums, The Independent Fulham Forum and Loft For Words but also Twitter and the mainstream and local press is that QPR are about to take advantage of Fulham’s contractual wrangling and steal Brede Hangeland.

To make the fears of every Fulham fan worse Harry Redknapp has made his traditional I’m not interested as he belongs to another club BUT he’s a top player comments. These comments surely mean he’s off to QPR?

There are two ways to look at the situation, the first way is that Brede wants to leave Fulham and has like many players fallen out with Martin Jol, as rumours have been stating for some time. The second way of looking at the situation is that it is another ploy by the big Norwegian’s agent to get Brede an ageing player one last big contract to see out his days at the Cottage.

There are also two ways to look at Hangeland the player. The first is that Brede is a player on a downward spiral, his performances have not matched the high standards that he set earlier in his Fulham career and it may be time for Fulham to bid farewell and replace him before he becomes worse, especially as he doesn’t really fit in with Jol’s fast play out from the back style and should be replaced with a player such as Douglas who has been heavily linked with the club since the summer.

The second way to look at Brede Hangeland leaving Fulham is that we simply can not allow him to go to a rival. Brede going to QPR could mean that a legends status will be tarnished and Fulham must pull out all the stops to ensure a real legend remains at the club.

Either way Brede going would be a sad day for Fulham but could turn out to be a positive, let’s just hope it isn’t QPR I can’t imagine booing the best centre back I’ve ever seen representing Fulham.

Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)

Wale Breaks Down The Lyrics On “The Blessings”

Wale breaks down the lyrics of his song “The Blessings” and gives some personal insight into his work ethic. His latest mixtape ‘Folarin’, with DJ Clark Kent, will drop later on today as a Christmas gift to his fans. Get it here.

Cassidy Vs. Meek Mill Heats Up

After subliminal disses from both rappers, Cassidy finally names Meek Mill in his new track ‘Me, Myself, & iPhone’. After Cassidy released his freestyle ‘Condom Style’ over Psy’s Youtube phenomenon ‘Gangnam Style’, Meek took to his Twitter to mock it. Yet, Da Hustla had the last laugh as he received a seven figure endorsement deal thanks to the track.

Meek Mill continued to mock Cassidy on his Twitter questioning his street credibility claiming when they were both in the same jail Cassidy was in protective custody while Meek was on the “drama block”. The two Philly rappers proceeded to go at it over Twitter about doing a battle for $100,000, which Meek said he would donate to closing schools in their hometown.

Hip-Hop beefs have been more prevalent recently than in previous years with Gucci going at Jeezy, T.I. & Alley Boy even French Montana threw shots at 50 Cent. Let’s see how far this one goes.

Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)

Hall Of Famer Isiah Thomas Joins NBA TV

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Detroit Pistons and NBA legend Isiah Thomas joins NBA TV as a studio analyst, also due to be a regular contributor to NBA.com. The 2000 Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inductee made his debut yesterday in a day that saw his Pistons completely wipeout the Washington Wizards 100-68.

Although he entered the NBA a decade before I was born, Isiah Thomas is my favourite basketball player of all time. He was a true great, in an era where Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers and Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics were completely dominant. Most would remember him for his inspiring efforts in the 1988 Playoff Finals against the Lakers playing through an ankle injury to score 25 points in a single quarter of the game, an NBA Finals record which still stands to this very day.

The only thing he missed out on to close on amazing career was an Olympic gold medal. Isiah had opportunities slip in the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games and the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. Even with Detroit Piston’s Chuck Daly coaching ‘The Dream Team’, Isiah Thomas wasn’t named a squad member. In the book When the Game Was Ours, Magic Johnson alleged that players conspired to exclude Thomas from the Olympic Dream Team as a result of his feud with Michael Jordan.

The 12-time All-Star point guard led the Detroit Pistons to two back-to-back NBA titles in 89-90, which earned him the 1990 Playoff Finals MVP award and by 1996 he was named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history. In such an illustrious career, Thomas has won a number of awards in the NBA but also at collegiate level for the Indiana Hoosiers of Indiana University guiding the Hoosiers to an NCAA Championship in 1981 when he was the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four.

Welcome home, Isiah.

Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)

T.I. Addresses ‘Addresses’ On Sway In The Morning

On T.I.’s latest album Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head there is a song titled ‘Addresses’ which could be perceived as a diss track except he doesn’t actually name anyone. He has said recently that he won’t name them as “they don’t deserve it”. My guess is that it’s aimed at Alley Boy since Alley Boy released a few diss tracks to him recently but people are also saying it could be Gucci Mane. T.I. stopped by Sway In The Morning to promote his album and talk about this song in particular. He responded explosively and even had a message for those who oppose him.

Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)

Game – Jesus Piece & T.I. – Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head

Game - Jesus Piece

2012’s music calendar has given us a lot of exciting release dates for debuts and comebacks alike. We’ve already had Rick Ross, Nas, 2 Chainz, Kendrick Lamar and Meek Mill release solid albums this year but it’s two late album releases that I have highly anticipated to cap off the year.

Although we’re approaching the final days of 2012, there is still so much more to offer in the form of albums and even mixtapes. Wiz Khalifa released his sophomore attempt O.N.I.F.C. that reached number two on the Billboard charts, selling 148,000 copies in the first week and Chief Keef’s debut Finally Rich is still to come. Closing off the year with a bang, Game and T.I. have mouths salivating for their December releases – Jesus Piece and Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head, respectively. Both rappers have etched their names in Hip-Hop history each for different reasons but no one can deny that Game and T.I. deserve a spot in your top 10. Lyricism, energy and consistency has provided these two such longevity in what can often be a cruel industry.

In my opinion, each of Game‘s previous four albums have all been successes so I didn’t expect much less from this latest release but it could be his standout work yet. Game has been persistently promoting Jesus Piece of recent, whether it be interviews, social media or the purchase of oversized jewellery.

Game, who has never been shy of critics and has often been outspoken on many topics other rappers would usually shy away from, was the topic of much scrutiny when he released images of what was to be his deluxe album cover. The image featured a depiction of a black Jesus Christ with a Piru Blood gang bandana and a chain with a jesus piece hanging from it. Despite backlash from church representatives of blasphemy, this only gave the rapper an even better platform allowing him the room to promote to a much wider audience.

Game released a string of throwaway tracks for free download on his ‘jesuspiece’ Soundcloud in which he titled #SundayService. Seven tracks were released, a Bone Thugs-n-Harmony reunion on the Celebration remix – which is in fact a refix of their old school classic ‘1st of tha Month’ – was one of them. He released six others with features from the likes of Scarface, Wale and Master P. These songs were good enough quality to be on the best of albums leading me to believe this album was due to be a treat.

Game wasn’t ever tight with his label budget, spending millions on recording mixtapes he only releases as a free download. Jesus Piece has a star-studded tracklist with 21 features on just 13 tracks. The title track reminds me of Late Registration’s ‘Crack Music’ where the roles were reversed as Kanye West features on the hook this time and Common delivers one of his most accomplished feature verses yet, where he even utters the adlib “uhh” – much more subtly than Ricky Rozay would. It’s surprising that with such a plethora of artists featured – the calibre of the likes of J. Cole, Lil’ Wayne and Kendrick Lamar – the Compton rapper’s voice never gets drowned out.

Game has never been the one to preach in the past but by the sounds of it he could join Pastor Ma$e on the pulpits. By Game stepping out of his comfort zone – of rapping on gangster issues – he makes Jesus Piece the jewel it is. This album has a more conscious feel to it as Game touches on topics I wouldn’t have necessarily expected from him. His 21 features don’t even feel clustered as he overpowers them all. Jesus Piece is well structured, sticking to the plan of creating a church of Rap and Game has created the bible.

T.I. - Trouble Man

During his ‘trouble man’ period T.I. has had highly publicised run-ins with the law, doing prison bids twice. Such distractions often end rappers career’s as they struggle to pick up the pace they had prior. I haven’t had much interest in T.I.‘s career since his 2008 album ‘Paper Trail’ but there has been a distinctive consistency about T.I.‘s music in 2012 and I have to admit that I’ve been impressed. It was when I heard his promotional singles ‘Love This Life’ and ‘Go Get It’ that I knew I would love this album. I can’t speak for others but personally this is the return to form I have been waiting for from T.I..

As I would have expected, Atlanta’s oft-overlooked hero the self-proclaimed King, T.I. introduces his Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head album to a sample of Marvin Gaye’s song of the same title ‘Trouble Man’. Unlike Game, T.I. only enlists the services of eight features on this 16 track LP. The blend of new and old T.I. is perfect with features from former Grand Hustle labelmate Meek Mill and production from Pharrell Williams – who produced his first ever single ‘I’m Serious’ in 2001 with Beenie Man – on the track ‘Hello’ that features Cee-Lo Green.

With such a catalogue of music, something you’d expect from T.I.‘s eighth album is confidence – which I must say is at an all time high with more trash talk than an NBA game. One thing it seems from his raps though is that T.I. will never learn. You could argue that it’s just music but it can get very confusing when rappers act bi-polar. From his calm television persona in ‘Family Hustle’ to his gangster, trapstar songs like ‘Trap Back Jumpin’, sometimes I just don’t know where I stand with T.I..

The standout track on the album for me has to be ‘Sorry’ which features the sought-after André 3000, the beat and lyrics fit together superbly. These are two Atlanta greats going back to back, Hip-Hop legends in their own right. Never the less, André 3000 comes out triumphant this time with a memorable verse addressing issues over Outkast’s hiatus as a group. Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head balances the sound of vintage TIP perfectly, cohesively mixing it with the more mainstream sound of his biggest hit to date ‘Whatever You Like’.

One thing is for sure though, you can’t make your ‘Album Of The Year’ lists without giving these two Hip-Hop veterans a listen.

Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)

Weekly Tribute: Lower League Legends [Week 3]

Wayne Allison, Tranmere Rovers

For this week’s Weekly Tribute I won’t be dedicating it to just one person like I have done in previous weeks, this week’s goes out to three lower league footballers who I believe deserve a tribute.

Today started with some shocking news, reading through my Twitter timeline a tweet from the Football Ramble truly stunned me. The news was that former Coventry, Sheffield United and Birmingham winger Peter Ndlovu was involved in a horror crash that has left the player in a serious but stable condition but claimed the life of his older brother Adam.

It goes without saying that everyone involved in this blog wishes Peter all the best.

The news did though get me thinking of what I was going to write about today. It’s well known I support Fulham and have done for many years, it was during my formative years that opposition players made the biggest impact on me. My formative years as a football fan involved watching Fulham in the lower leagues, so this post is dedicated to a few of the less well known players that made a HUGE impact on me.

Craig Hignett, I thought he was an amazing player whenever I saw him in the flesh. Craig lit up a few games at the Cottage, I mainly remember him for Blackburn, I was convinced he was way too good for the then Division 1. Craig had a reasonable career before and after I witnessed him playing for Blackburn. Prior to me witnessing the creative midfielder, Craig had notched up 150 games for Crewe before moving to the top table with Middlesbrough where he had 194 games in an eventful spell in Boro’s history. The following years saw Craig representing Aberdeen and Barnsley, in the Premier League before signing for Blackburn Rovers for £2.2 million. Craig helped Blackburn to the Premier League and also won a League Cup for the club. After his successful stint at Rovers Craig went on to play for numerous other clubs including Leicester, Leeds and Darlington.

Before Rory Delap there was Dave Challinor, the man scared me, his throws were unnatural. Challinor was a long throw expert who was representing Tranmere Rovers when I encountered his incredible arm. At one point Challinor had the world record for the longest throw in football, it was like a rocket, I have never seen anything like it. Whenever we played Tramere Challinor caused chaos with his throw ins. Challinor is a player I will always remember.

Lastly the player that I admired a lot during our lower league days was Wayne Allison, again a Tranmere player, I think my Dad took me to too many games against them! A real goal machine, a player that always scared me due to his goal scoring threat. Wayne had a respectable career prior to and after I witnessed him scoring over 200 goals for his clubs. A hugely respected lower league player, Wayne turned out for eight clubs playing 752 games in a long career he was a player I remember always scoring and always being old weirdly!

So that’s this week’s Weekly Tribute, three awesome lower league players I will never forget, hope you all enjoyed it pop back next week where the tribute will be festive.

Aidan Fulham (@AidanFulham)

Andy Murray Finally Victorious

BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 2012

When Andy Murray beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in this years Wimbledon semi-finals, advancing to a final showdown with Roger Federer, only one thing caught my eye. It wasn’t the fact that he managed to beat Tsonga and become the first Briton to reach a Grand Slam final in 74 years, it was an article that I had read in the Metro newspaper on how he was in contact with NBA superstar LeBron James.

I was shocked. I was unaware that the Scot knew LeBron or even that he was such an avid basketball fan. It was reported that Andy Murray had named LeBron James as inspiration in his press to reach the next level. This made perfect sense to me though as they both had similar plights in their respective sports, failing to win major titles. Well in LeBron’s case it was failing to win an NBA championship.

When trying to find a sportsman to compare himself to, he gave King James as his closest comparison. A man who American media coined the term “Mr. Three Quarters” after, for his inability to fulfil in the latter stages of major basketball games. LeBron took to his Twitter to congratulate the Scot on the feat of reaching the finals and cheered him on tweeting “Will be rooting for U. C u in London!”

In the final, the Swiss overwhelmed Murray with sheer brilliance. After losing to Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final in July, he has prevailed and kept battling on. Becoming the British media’s favourite, the doing them proud by winning a Gold medal for Team GB at the London Olympics in the same venue where he succumbed just 28 days prior. Possibly getting a boost after getting to link up with his ‘pal’ LeBron James in London.

Who would have predicted so much success for Andy Murray this year. Well it looks like BBC are due to show their appreciation by naming him among the 12 sportspersons shortlisted for this years Sports Personality Of The Year. A 12-strong list of the candidates of the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year has been released and as expected tennis star And Murray was there. The 25-year-old is in for a real shout this year after overcoming so much and finally triumphing.

Just like LeBron, Murray had flirted with winning big titles on previous occasions but never seemed to get it done. Similarly to how LBJ had to make his move from the Cleveland Cavaliers to seek success with the Miami Heat, Andy Murray’s bounce back may be down to him appointing Ivan Lendl as his new coach in December 2011. In a roller-coaster year which has gone from height to height, Andy Murray has finally provided his faithful British fans with what they have been praying for since 1937, a Grand Slam title.

There are some big names on this list down to this summer’s Olympic Games but this year he may genuinely be in with a shout. If being the first British male to win a grand slam title in 76 years, when he won the US Open in September in an epic match against world number one Novak Djokovic, isn’t enough to win him BBC Sports Personality Of The Year tonight… I’m afraid he may never win the award.

Lakeem Greaves (@iamLAKZ)