Archive for December 2011

2011: The Musical

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It's New Years Eve, and I'm remembering how much I've loved music this year. On that note, here are MY favorite albums of the year. Feel free to agree.


1) Camp- Childish Gambino

  • If you're reading this blog for the first time, this might come to a surprise to you. But I am a huge fan of Childish Gambino, and I'm a huge fan of this album. There was a lot of hype going into this release, and Gambino lives up to it with incredibly witty wordplay, great production, and a great overall story with his first studio album. An album can often be judged by your reaction after the first listen, and after my first listen of Camp, I was left amazed. 

2) Watch The Throne- The Throne (Jay-Z & Kanye West)
  • I can't think of a better possible duo to put together a hip-hop album than Ye and Jay. This was definitely my most repeated album of the year, and considering I got to see it live, it's going to be an album I will never forget. Jay-Z has said that there may be another album in the works for 2012, so I'll be sure to save a spot for The Throne on my favorite album list next year. 


3) Take Care- Drake
  • So much for a sophomore slump. Drake shows his maturity as a musician from the beginning to the end of this album. With help from The Weeknd, Drake hit notes we've never heard him hit before. And with the combination of his great voice and smooth flow, Drake has established himself as one of the best in the game. 

4) Cole World: The Sideline Story- J. Cole
  • J. Cole has a promising future as a young Roc Nation artist, and that is very clear through this great debut album. J. Cole writes his rhymes not as a celebrity, but as a person, and that relatability is what's going to allow his already growing fan base to reach new heights in 2012. 

5) nostalgia, Ultra- Frank Ocean
  • Frank Ocean has a bright future in music. This album is a beautiful combination of well written song lyrics, tight production, and a voice of an angel. He is already in good favor with The Throne
6) 21- Adele
  • In a time where Adele's heart was broken, she stole ours. This will go down as one of the classic break-up albums of all time. Adele amazes us with her incredible voice, and she gets us really pissed off at the idiot who broke her heart. Adele, I hope you find love, and I hope you continue to make great music. 




7) Common - The Dreamer/Believer
  • I just had my first listen of this album this week, so I don't know if it's because it's fresh, or because it's actually really good, but I loved this album. Common has been away from the game for a while now, but he certainly hasn't forgotten how to rap. No I.D produced the whole thing, so you know it's good. Also, he starts beef with Drake, so that's also interesting. 

8) Hell: The Sequel- Bad Meets Evil (Eminem and Royce Da 5'9)

  • I'm a sucker for almost any Eminem track, and in this album he was as great as usual. But more notably, this album was a coming out party for the underground veteran Royce Da 5'9's, who keeps up with, and at times out-raps the great Eminem which is undoubtably a recipe for some great rap music.

9) Gutter Rainbows: Talib Kweli
  • Talib Kweli continues to be one of the most underrated rappers in the game. Gutter Rainbows is thoughtful, well executed, and well produced, something that you are likely to hear in every Talib Kweli album. 

10) B.Y.O.B.- Saint Kris
  • If you haven't heard of Saint Kris, you're missing out on some great local talent. Saint Kris has had a big year. He was a runner up for Hypetrak's "Blue Sky" Cover Contest, was named one of Manitoba's Most Fascinating People, and put out one of my favorite albums of the year with B.Y.O.B.  Keep an eye out for Saint Kris, he's a hard worker and he's got the talent to do huge things in 2012 and onward. 

And We're Off

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Christmas has come and gone, and so has the first two days of the new NBA season. Every team other than Utah and Atlanta have played at least one game, and seeing how neither team is really all that relevant in the league this season, I thought I'd make a few notables for the more noteworthy teams so far in the 2011-2012 NBA season.

Miami Heat
 
The championship is theirs to lose. I find it very difficult to argue against the Heat being the best team in the league. If LeBron James played like LeBron James in the Finals last year, there's no question in my mind that things would've ended differently. But he choked, so they didn't. But this year the majority of the team is still in tact, they have a year under their belt, and with the addition of world-class defender and leader, Shane Battier, they've only gotten better. By dominating the defending champion Mavericks on Christmas Day, the Heats quest for not one, not two, not three... championships is still moving in full force. 


Dallas Mavericks

The Mavs run last year was amazing. Rarely do you see an NBA team generate such fan support in the NBA finals, but that's how much people liked this team in last years finals, and hated Miami. Nevertheless, they're the defending champs, but by losing key players like Tyson Chandler, and J.J. Barea, and picking up Lamar Odom and Vince Carter, the team looks a lot different. The new look Mavs have lost their first two games of the season, and they are certainly not playing like defending champions. I can't see this team having much of a chance to repeat with the other overwhelming heavyweights in the league this year, but then again, they've definitely heard that one before...


New York Knicks

If I haven't mentioned it before, the Knicks are my favorite team in the NBA, and back in the days where big things were expected of Eddy Curry, it was embarrassing. But how sweet it is when things turn around, and with the additions of Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis (who is out with a herniated disc in his back), the Knicks can actually be considered as title contenders. The Knicks looked great against the Boston Rondo's...I mean, Celtics. The Celtics and Knicks are known for having close, physical games, but the difference between the Knicks now and the Knicks of old is that in these close games, the new Knicks actually came out on top. Carmelo Anthony can score from anywhere on the floor, a healthy Amare Stoudemire is one of the most complete players in the NBA, and Tyson Chandler is going to be able to provide some much needed defense down low. The one issue is at the coaching position. Mike D'Antoni is a great run and gun coach; but that is not this team. These Knicks need to run their offense though Anthony with isolation plays, and pick and rolls with Amare. Granted, they did do a lot of that on Christmas Day, but if you’re not playing 7 seconds or less basketball, what’s the benefit of having D'Antoni as coach. So, Phil Jackson, I'm sure you're enjoying retirement, but come to Madison Square Garden and bring the championship back to New York.

Toronto Raptors

Way to beat the Cavs...you're still terrible, but I love you anyways. The Raptors are in the rebuilding stage and have players that are too immature to win games, or too mature to play more than 20 minutes a game...because they’re really old. And although it doesn't bode well for their record this year, the young guys, especially DeMar DeRozan and Ed Davis, will be able to learn from the vets, and with a good crop coming up in the draft, and Jonas Valanciunas on the roster next year, things will be looking up for the Raptors. 

LA Clippers

I still stand by saying the Clippers will be the most exciting team in the league. But clearly from their game against Golden State they need to work out some kinks. Their defense was awful, they missed so many free throws, Chauncy Billups took way too many shots, and I think the team expects a lot more from Chris Paul. But with that much talent, I really hope they figure it out, because it would be quite the spectacle. 

LA Lakers

This is not a deep roster, and combine that with an aging Kobe, no Lamar Odom, a fragile Andrew Bynum, and too much responsibility on a guy who changed his name to Metta World Peace, and I can't see the Lakers being one of the top teams in the league this year, or even in LA for that matter. 

Golden State Warriors

I've watched two Warriors games already this season, which doubles my season total from last year, and I noticed a couple things: the fans are awesome, and the team has some elite offensive talent. If Mark Jackson can teach this team to play defense, this might be a great team one day. In the meantime, man are they fun to watch. 

Boston Celtics

Rajon Rondo is unbelievable. He single handedly kept them close against the Knicks, and I think he's the best driving point guard in the league. But losing Jeff Green is going to hurt really bad for this team. They don't have young enough legs to place high in the standings, and unless Jermaine O'Neal has an all-star season and playoffs, I can't see them being tough enough down low to do any damage in the post season. 

Chicago Bulls

Derrick Rose showed why he was the MVP last year. It seems like he keeps getting better and better, and this is going to be a great team come playoff time. But as good as he has been in his career, Carlos Boozer just doesn't seem to click on this team. I wouldn't be surprised if Boozer is used as trade bait if he continues to struggle throughout the season. 




Oklahoma City Thunder

Kevin Durant was the MVP of the lockout. It seemed like every day KD was going off in an exhibition game of some sort, highlighted by a legendary performance at Rucker Park. Just like the off-season, Durant is considered as the favorite to win MVP this season. It’s his time. He might be the very best scorer in the NBA, and with help from Russell Westbrook, and an emerging James Harden, OKC is going score a lot of points. And with defensive stars Kendrick Perkins, Serge Ibaka, and Nick Collision, teams won’t be scoring too many points either.

Minnesota Timberwolves

It's great to see this team look relevant again. With Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, and a very impressive Ricky Rubio as a nucleus, the T Wolves might find their way out of the NBA basement within the next couple of seasons. 

Despite its length, the 2011-2012 NBA season should be a good one. Plenty of storylines, and plenty of talent. 



On a different note, Drew Brees broke Dan Marino's single season passing record on Monday Night Football. This alone was fantastic, but from a sports fans perspective, his post game speech in the dressing room was one of the most genuine sports moments I've seen all year. To top it off, there's hilarious unintentional sexual innuendo by Brees. Awesome. Check it out.






Time Off

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It's been over a week since the first semester of my Creative Communications journey has ended, and things have been surprisingly lively in my life since then. So that being said, here are a few thoughts from my past week.


  • The best thing I did this week, and actually all of this year, was go to Vancouver to see hip-hop heavyweights Jay-Z and Kanye West, otherwise known as The Throne at Rogers Arena. It was the single greatest concert experience I think I will ever have. The nearly three hour long show didn't have any opening acts, it was just Ye' and Jay rolling out their extensive library of collaborative and solo hits, keeping the sold out crowd on their feet the entire time. Some highlights were the performances of Power, All of the Lights, 99 Problems, and N***as in Paris, which was performed five times in a row for an unforgettable encore. Another highlight was the set, which consisted of two massive high definition screens, extravagant lighting and pyro, and two hydraulic cube stages that slowly raised the hip-hop legends 25 feet into the air as they performed (the cubes were also video screens). In retrospect I probably should have done a separate post on this experience, but I'm just going to move on.

  • Vancouver is a beautiful city. I really do like it there. But I really couldn't handle knowing that a high majority of the people around me were Vancouver Canucks fans. I truly despise that team, and you will surely hear me complain about them on this blog come playoff time. 
                            

  • I went to the Jets vs Capitals game last week, and got to witness it from front row seats behind the net. It was a dream come true. Ovechkin was two feet away from me and even with the glass separating us I still felt star struck. 

  • The guy behind me at the hockey game was on a nickname basis with the entire Jets team. Throughout the game he hollered, "Lets go Kaner! Here we go Glassy! Skate Welly! Com'n Wheels!" Oddly enough he kept it formal with one Jets forward when he simply yelled, "Good job, Stapleton."

  • The NBA is almost back, and I have a few things to say about that. The LA Clippers are going to be the most exciting team in the NBA. The Washington Wizards new jerseys are the best in the league. My New York Knicks will be a powerhouse this season with the additions of Tyson Chandler and Baron Davis, which excites me. My Toronto Raptors are going to be terrible, which depresses me. With the excitement of free agency, amnesty clause, and players moving from team to team, we're all starting to forget about the lockout. As grim as it looked a couple months ago, I don't think the NBA is going to be losing any momentum from 2011's incredibly exciting post-season. 
                  
  • Books on Amazon are significantly cheaper than Chapters. 

  • There is a concussion epidemic in the NHL, and some could argue professional sports in general. I don't know how they fix this without any good luck, but Ken Dryden has some good perspective on Grantland.

  • Even if the Packers didn't lose, and had an undefeated season, Tim Tebow would still be the biggest story of the NFL season. It doesn't make sense how he manages to win games the way he does.

  • My favorite sports broadcasters Sid Seixeiro and Tim Micallef are back on the radio, this time with Sportsnet on The Fan 590. Unlike their previous gig at The Score, they are now censored by public radio. But even without Sid's cuss filled rants, and their usual uncensored content, they still know their sports, and it's great to hear them on the air again. 

Time off has been great for me so far. And with Christmas just days away, it seems like it's going to stay that way. So until I get back to the daily grind, I'm going to continue to enjoy myself, and I hope you all do as well. 


My Brand Story

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Most of us have been misrepresented at some point in one way or another. Maybe even some of us haven't been represented at all. As a communicator, it's my job to minimize these situations. I hear from many people in the communications world that, "Everyone has a story," and the more I learn about communicating, the more I see this to be true. Everyone has a story. You have a story. Your family has a story. So do your friends. Your boss? Yup. The sweet little old lady across the street? I'd bet hers is amazing. Even I have a story. I have an amazing family, who has given me everything I could ever ask for. I've been blessed with the ability to play hockey, and when I'm on the ice, there aren't many better feelings in this world. But above all of that, I'm a Christian. It is my faith that guides my life, and it is the most important part of me. That's my story. We all have one, and I hope to hear yours one day.

A Night of k-os

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I'm often raving about artists that can do it all in music. When you look at guys like Childish Gambino, Kid Cudi, Kanye West, and Nicki Minaj to name a few, it seems like hip-hop is going in a direction where you have to do more than just rap to stand out. How great is it that we have someone from Canada who fits that mold? Surprisingly, I'm not talking about Drake (although he fits that mold as well). I'm talking about Toronto born singer and rapper, k-os, who put on quite a show at The Pyramid in Winnipeg last night.

After a sound check that felt like two hours, k-os came out to greet his Winnipeg fans at around 11:30, and commanded the crowd right from the start. Accompanied by a very talented live band, k-os performed a good mix of his older and newer songs, and even put his own twist on the hip-hop classic, Forgot About Dre. Using the verses of his own song, Emcee Murdah, k-os had the crowd going nuts as he tied in his own lyrics seamlessly to his band playing their own version of the incredibly catchy instrumental. He even orchestrated the crowd to change the words to "Forgot About K" when reciting the end Eminem's iconic hook on the track.

However, the k-os fans in Winnipeg surely will not be forgetting about k-os any time soon after this show. K-os is an extremely talented musician. He can rap, sing, and command a crowd like very few others, and it translated directly into an fantastic show at the Pyramid last night.

"My name is K dash, I get the job done. I love freestyling in the home of Neil Young," rapped k-os in a freestyle, as his band played Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven behind him. That's the kind of performer k-os is. It looks like he just loves playing for his fans. It never felt like he was doing it for the paycheck. And it's his appreciation for his fans that makes k-os the performer he is. Hey, k-os, please come back again.