Archive for October 2011

All-Access Pass

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Is Twitter just a phase?

Well, it's been about 5 years since it was created, and it still seems to be going strong. But I guess that doesn't really answer the question.

In technology terms, five years isn't all that bad. It seems like every day there are new innovative ideas and products that cause people to declare that "This changes everything!"

How many things can really change everything?

Twitter? You can definitely make a pretty good argument that it does. But that doesn't mean Twitter as a website is immortal. However, I think maybe some of its ideas are.

For better or worse, Twitter is responsible for this generation's uncanny ability to access information, and I think it is this lifestyle that will endure long past Twitter as a website.

We're now able to know to the minute what is going on in this world. Who won the hockey game? What did the President say today? What did Oprah eat this morning?...like I said: for better or worse.

Musicians can post their music for their fans to hear whenever they want, "Breaking News" is actually a Twitter handle, and a re-tweet from Perez Hilton can get you a thousand new followers...like I said: for better or worse.

This idea that we can get whatever information we want, up to the minute, is something that I don't think people can do without now that they have it. It would be like being given an iPod Touch only to have it taken away and be replaced with a portable boom box.

Whether being able to access this information so quickly and easily is good or bad remains to be seen. It causes us to wonder what's going to happen to the newspaper. Will it ever die? What about face to face interaction? Maybe the "water cooler" will be replaced by the "Don't bother getting up from your desk, let's just tweet about it". If it sounds like I'm using loaded language it's because I don't really know how I feel about it yet as I've mentioned before.

Nevertheless, Twitter seems like it's not going anywhere for the time being, but chances are it probably will. And as for our virtual All-Access Pass goes, that may very well be immortal.





Saying all of that... you can follow me on Twitter: @joeytheghost97


Grandpa Shero

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This week I had the privilege to spend over an hour talking with an NHL general manager. On Monday, Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero (my moms cousin), met with my family and I for coffee at the Fairmont before the Jets game. It was awesome. We talked hockey, and about our lives, and I was blown away by his openness and overall graciousness.


The Shero name is pretty prominent in the hockey world. Ray is a successful GM in the NHL, but it was his father (and my great uncle), Fred Shero who has had the most success. Fred died in 1990, one year before I was born, but I have spent a lot of time in my life reading up and researching what people thought of him, and from what I've found, he did some sweet things. But Fred was most well known for his stint as the Philadelphia Flyers head coach from 1971-1978, where he lead the Flyers to the Stanley Cup in the '73-'74, and '74-'75 seasons, and brought them to the finals two other years during his time as head coach. 

My great uncle Fred has made his mark in history with those Stanley Cup wins, and Ray Shero also has a Stanley Cup ring on his finger, but it is my grandfather, Victor Shero, who I will look up to for the rest of my life. 

My grandpa might have been the best man I'll ever know. One of my favorite memories of my life is looking back on the games of mini-stick hockey I played with him when I was a kid. Every time he came over, all I wanted to do was play mini-sticks with him. He would always use this wooden St Louis Blues goalie mini stick, and I would always give him a hard time because he couldn't shoot very well with it; it was as stiff as a board. He didn't care, he just loved playing with me.

As a kid, you think that adults always love playing with you no matter what you're doing. Now that I'm older, I realize that's probably not the case. But even today, I knew my grandpa loved it. He must've, since my grandpa would get down to his hands and knees and play mini-sticks with me and my endless supply of energy, even into his 80's. My grandma would warn him that he could hurt himself. But my Grandpa wasn't worried. He just wanted to play hockey with his grandson. 

Like most of the Shero's that I know of, my grandpa loved hockey. And I think the fact that I loved hockey so much too brought him a lot of joy. He would play hockey with me, watch hockey with me, and he loved watching me play hockey. When I first started out, he told me for every goal that I scored, he would give me a dollar (to this day, my Grandma keeps up my Grandpa's deal, and I love her for that). But as proud as my Grandpa was of me whenever he gave me a buck for a goal, I know the fact that he got to watch his grandson play made him even prouder. 

My Grandpa died in 2002, but I found myself laying in bed last night fighting back tears, thinking about how awesome he was, and how much he loved me. So, I thought I'd share a couple stories about my grandpa to tell about the kind of guy he was. I miss him a lot, and if your lucky enough to have a grandpa like mine, cherish every second of it.


The BET Hip-Hop Awards

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The 2011 BET Hip Hop Awards aired on Tuesday night, and although I don't have BET, and therefore don't get to watch it, it's always still an exciting time for rap music. The reason for this is the BET Hip-Hop Awards cyphers!

Each year, a group of MC's made up of new comers, some of the best rappers in the game today, and some of the greatest MC's of all time, get together to produce their best off the dome freestyle to a DJ Premier supplied beat. Last year, the people at Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label, gave hip-hop fans a classic. But this year, Eminem and his crew, known as Shady 2.0, showed Kanye and his boys that they're no slouches either.

Below I've posted the Shady 2.0 cypher as well as the G.O.O.D. Music cypher from last year. Whose is better? Post a comment if you've got a winner!

Personally, I think it's Team Shady by a hair, but you can judge for yourself. Enjoy!

G.O.O.D. Music Cypher (2010)




Shady 2.0 Cypher (2011)




I'd recommend you grab the rest of the 2011 cyphers here at HYPETRAK. Shout out to Christian rapper, Lecrae, for making it big time at the BET Awards, AND for killing it!

Locked Out

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Well this is stupid.

There are a lot of things to be excited about in sports right now. The NHL is back, the Jets are back, the Blue Bombers are making the playoffs, the NFL avoided a lockout, and the MLB playoffs are well underway, but the NBA has left a very bitter taste in the mouth of the millions of basketball fans around the world as it was announced tonight that the NBA has cancelled the first two weeks of the regular season. Ladies and gentleman, we have a lockout.

I could get into who I think is at fault, or debate the issues such as the 50-50 revenue split, the hard salary cap, non guaranteed contracts, or a potential amnesty clause (or as it's called by the people at Grantland, the Curry Cure), but I think I speak for most NBA fans when I say, WE DON'T CARE! We just want to watch basketball. That's it.

This whole lockout just seems childish. It's really just all about greed. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter whose fault it is. The fact of the matter is that there isn't any basketball, and that's an issue. Both sides keep telling the media how the other side is being unfair, and how they will "stand their ground" for what they think is "right". You really think that's standing up for what's right? You think it's "right" to rob fans of watching the game they love, just so you can get more money? You think it's "right" to treat NBA fans this way? The same NBA fans who are paying the high ticket prices, buying the jerseys, buying the merchandise with your names or your logo's on it, and dedicating our time watching the games, following the teams, and celebrating the game, not the league, but the game that we love?

Players and Owners, you're supposed to love the game as well. I found this picture online, and I thought it said a lot about what this is all about.

I don't know if you noticed, but that's not the players union president Derek Fisher looking up at the hoop in disappointment. It's not NBA Commissioner David Stern either. It's an NBA fan, and his son. All they can do is watch helplessly as a big part of the game they love is being taken away from them. Why? Because of childish greed.

The biggest shame about all of this is that we're coming off one of the best years of basketball that we've ever had. The talent level of the league is almost unparalleled, there are great young teams like the Grizzlies, and the Thunder, great old teams like the Celtics and the Lakers, super teams like the Heat, one of the most lovable NBA Champions in recent memory with the Mavericks, and honestly so much more. Last season gained countless new casual fans for the NBA, and more importantly, for basketball. And now what's going to happen to those fans? Well, NBA, you lost them. Hey players, owners, do you even remember how amazing the playoffs were last year? Or are you too blinded by money to think that far back.



So far, we've lost two weeks of games. But as of right now, the players and owners have no meetings scheduled for the future, so it doesn't seem like a stretch to say that it very well could be more. And it's all because of money.

I understand, the NBA is a business. I get that. But basketball is a game. So just shut up and play.


The Ultimate Co-sign

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I know I just posted about J. Cole, but I came across a video which I think compliments the album review nicely.

As I mentioned on my last post J. Cole was the first artist to sign to Jay-Z's Roc Nation record label in 2009. That in itself is quite the shout-out to an up and coming artists, but since he signed there hasn't been much talk from Jay-Z promoting his Roc Nation label-mate, which has many wondering what Hov' really thinks of
J. Cole.

J. Cole even addresses the idea in his song Sideline Story, but dismisses it by saying that he doesn't care if Jay-Z shouts him out or not.

But a couple of days ago a video called The Making of J. Cole's Cole World: The Sideline Story surfaced, which shows clips of J. Cole producing the album, with a voice over of the legendary Jay-Z himself giving him a verbal co-sign that a young rapper could only dream about.

In the video (posted below), Jay-Z explains that he isn't in the business of making just making hit records, but he wants to develop artists, and according to Jay, J. Cole fits that bill.

So whether he cares or not, J. Cole just got some high praise from one of the greatest rappers of all time. Pretty good for his first album.


Cole World: The Sideline Story Album Review

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When Jay-Z makes you the first artist to sign to his new label, there's going to be expectations. And after a long time of waiting since he first signed with Roc Nation in 2009, J. Cole delivers.


Since 2009, J. Cole has set the bar pretty high for himself, releasing three critically acclaimed mixtapes: The Come Up, The Warm Up, and Friday Night Lights. And even with the bar raised, Cole World: The Sideline Story is still successful. 

In a time where hip-hop music is often directly associated with getting money and getting laid, J. Cole offers an alternative. His lyrics are filled with not only clever rhyme schemes, and a veteran-like flow, but a vulnerable rawness that allows not only the audience to connect to his music, but also connect to Jermaine Cole the man. An example of this vulnerability lies in the song, Breakdown, where J. Cole raps about his feeling towards his father leaving him and his mother with lines like, "Look, I just shed tears homie, and I now I aint too proud to admit it. Just seen my father for the first time in a minute. And when I say a minute I mean years man, damn a whale could have swam in those tears fam."

The emotional aspect of the album is highlighted by the song, Lost Ones, which follows the journey of a young couple who is facing the dilemma of whether or not they should keep their unplanned child. On this track, J. Cole speaks in the point of view of both sides of the relationship, and in this dialogue it becomes clear that J. Cole as an artist is in it for more than the money and glory. In his music, J. Cole looks to make a difference in the lives of his listeners. 

Although Cole World: The Sideline Story does get emotional at times, J. Cole also stimulates his audience by simply being a great rapper. Something very impressive about this album is that he doesn't really deliver any bad verses. When J. Cole is on the mic, you can expect something good, and that is why his future is so bright. 

Cole World: The Sideline Story will not blow away the audience on every track. It's not an instant classic. But throughout the album, J. Cole picks up the mic, and does not fumble at all. And like I said, J. Cole provides us an alternative. The dude can rap, and in this simple, well constructed debut album, J. Cole shows that to the world . Oh yeah, and did I mention he produced all but three tracks? (Check out Rise and Shine to see what he knows about production) Sick. 

On Jay-Z's album The Blueprint III, J. Cole appears on the track A Star is Born. In Cole World: The Sideline Story a star is born. And it doesn't really look like he's going anywhere. 


I give it 4/5 stars. 
Best Tracks: Lost Ones, Rise and Shine, Lights Please