The Perfect Movie

It was 1 A.M, I was watching TV, tired and flipping through the channels, looking for something I could fall asleep to, then I came across The Godfather on AMC.

As an Italian-American, I’m contractually obligated to drop whatever I’m doing and watch The Godfather whenever it presents itself, no excuses.  I was left with a dilemma, stay up till 4 in the morning to watch the most perfect movie ever made, or go to sleep and, in doing so, disrespect my entire family and heritage.

Then, I remembered we have a kind and merciful God, a God who proved his kindness and mercifulness by bestowing man with the DVR.  I promptly DVRed The Godfather and watched it this morning.

So many things make The Godfather a great movie.  I’m not even going to list them, let’s just say it’s the perfect movie, and leave it at that.  But, what I really love about The Godfather is every time I watch it, it seems like a different movie.

I’ve watched The Godfather Part I, conservatively,  fifteen times, from beginning to end.  And what amazes me is it’s always about something new.  First, it was about the mafia, then it was about family, then it was a coming of age story, then it was about how power corrupts man, and so-on and so-on.

This morning, it was a whole new movie  The Godfather is the ultimate Father and Son movie (sorry, Field of Dreams).  It’s basically the story of Vito (Don) Corleone (Marlon Brando) and Michael Corleone (Al Pacino), father and son,  and  the paradigm shift of the  father and son relationship, when the son is no longer a child, but, instead, a man.

The movie starts with Michael returning home for his sister’s wedding.  He’s just returned from the service, where he was a war hero.  He is now a man.  He knows about “the family business” and rejects it.  He explains the business to his girlfriend, in brutal detail, and poignantly says, “that’s my family…that’s not me.”  All be it, extremely heightened, this is a popular sentiment many young men feel.  The desire to be their own man, and break away from their father’s path.

As the movie progresses Vito Corleone is shot and laid out in a hospital.  It is the first time Michael sees his father as weak, with the potential to die.  A realization that every son must come to, eventually.  A realization that sucks.  When Michael goes to the hospital to visit his father, he realizes his father is about to be assassinated.  It’s now Michael’s job to protect his father, he leans in his father’s ear and tells him, “I’ll take care if your now.  I’m with you now.  I’m with you.”  This is the turning point in their relationship.  Where earlier he rejected his father, he is now “with” his father.

  His father is now out of the hospital, but sick, and Michael has become the de facto leader of the family (a bunch of other things happened in the meantime, but we’re streamlining here).  The two share a man to man talk.  Don Corleone advises his son on a few matters before telling him, “I never wanted this for you…I always thought that when it was your time, that you would be…Senator Corleone, Governor Corleone, something.”  A common wish many fathers hold for their son.  A wish, that their sons will aspire to something more, something better and, in this case, something legitimate.

Finally, Vito Corleone dies.  Michael, now officially, becomes the Don.  The film ends with Michael standing in his office surrounded by the same men who once surrounded his father.  Because, if there is one absolute about the father-son relationship, it’s we all become our fathers.

My Favorite Rap Song of All-Time: Part II

Yesterday, I whittled the list of potential favorite rap tracks down to eighteen (Note, this is not my eighteen favorite songs, but instead, eighteen of my favorite artists, each getting one song to represent themselves).  Today, I will officially crown, My Favorite Rap Song of All Time.

Before I get into the list though, I’d be remiss to not give a shout out to my favorite 2012 Summer track.  So, much love to French (sort of), Ross, Drake and Wayne, for…

Pop That.

Now, back to the unveiling of My Favorite Rap Song of All-Time.

Tier VIII: “I Bet this Infuriates Lil Wayne” Group

18. Kick, Push – Lupe Fiasco 

Hey look at that, a rapper that can actually skateboard.  Sorry, I never miss a chance to take a shot at Wayne.

Tier VII:  “Kicking it New School” Group

17.  Marvins Room – Drake

I’ve already dedicated too many words to this.

16.  Before I’m Gone – J. Cole

I really wish he didn’t rap about semen/his seed so much, but his flow is pretty tight on this one.

15.  Break (AOTL) – Childish Gambino

With a bunch of things working against him (being a comedian turned serious rapper, the black nerd thing , the stupid name thing, ect. ect.), he’s pretty dope and I stand by that.

Tier VI:  “Kicking it Old School” Group

14.  I Used to Love H.E.R. – Common

Get it?  It’s a metaphor for Hip Hop music.

13.  Anti-Circle – The Roots

Let me first say, Black Thought is one of the most overlooked/underrated MCs in the world.  I absolutely LOVE the Inspector Gadget sample, even if it’s only for a second, I love the freestyle vibe, I can (and have) listened to this song on repeat for hours.

Tier V:  “Let’s Make Some Babies” Group

12.  Ayo Technology – 50 Cent feat. Justin Timeberlake  

I’ve had this song stuck in my head since the first time I heard it.  There’s definitely better 50 songs, but I don’t care.  Plus a little Justin/Timberland combo never hurts.

11.  Beautiful – Snoop Dogg feat. Pharrell

Now, if this song doesn’t get your face all scrunchy you’re probably not human, either that or you’re Amish.  This is convertible music, beach music, seducing music.  It’s on every summer playlist I’ve ever made.

Tier IV: “I’m Going to Rap Every Single Lyric and Pretend I’m a Rapper” Group

10.  Hypnotize – Biggie Smalls

Play this at the club, and watch the club EXPLODE.  Luxury Rap, well before Kanye and Jay co-opted it.

9.  Ms. Jackson – Outkast

Forever, forever, ever, forever, ever? (I don’t know why I wrote that, I just like the way Andre says it.)  *Unpopular Opinion Alert*  Big Boi has the better verse on this song.  Although 3000’s hook is sick (OOOH).

8.  Changes – Tupac

Social consciousness at it’s apex.  An awesome sample/beat.  I don’t even want to write, while I’m listening to this, I feel like I’m going to miss something, even if I have listened to it about a million times before.

Tier III – “I’m Getting Pumped and Angry at the Same Time” Group

7.  Till’ I Collapse – Eminem feat Nate Dogg

This beat is so menacing, Em sounds so hungry.  Love hungry Eminem.  If I worked out, (I don’t) I’d listen to this on repeat, get angry and go into beast mode.  Don’t discount Nate Dogg’s hook, either.

6.  Drop the World – Lil Wayne feat. Eminem

A double dose of Em, but this is Wayne’s song, and it’s probably his last interesting song.  There I go, throwing shade on Wayne, again, sorry.  I probably listened to this song almost exclusively for about two months during college.  Just an awesome, Fuck Everything song.

Tier II: “Throw Your ROCs in the Air” Group

5.  P.S.A. – Jay-Z

If you don’t get excited when you hear, “Allow me to re-introduce myself,” I’m probably not friends with you, I will probably never be friends with you, and I will probably never have a desire to be friends with you.  So triumphant, so big, so good.  And it ends just as good as it begins, “Either love me or leave me alone.”

4.  Diamonds From Sierra Leone (Remix) – Kanye West feat. Jay-Z

Remember when Kanye rapped about things socially relevant?  Back before Graduation.  That was pretty cool, but let’s be honest, Jay makes this song.  Am I the only one that waits nervously to hear Jay’s grunts in the background, “Is this going to be the Remix,” I think.  Then I hear that first, “ehh,” sigh of relief, then Jay interrupts “I got it from here Ye’, damn.”  I kind of just want to write Jay’s entire verse, but I’ll just leave you with this, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man. So let me handle my business, damn.”

Tier I:  “If This Song Comes On, And You’re Talking To Me, I’m No Longer Listening To You” Group 

3.  Doo Wop – Lauryn Hill

How good is Lauryn?  It’s almost impossible to quantify.  I don’t even think I can.  I’ll just say, whenever someone proclaims Nicki Minaj the best female rapper alive, I want to slap them in the face and play this on loop.

2.  Shimmy Shimmy Ya – Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Like Ol’ Dirty, I like it raw (in a rap sense), and few rapper’s are rawer than ODB (once again, in a rap sense).  I mean the whole second verse is gibberish.  I firmly believe that this song is not played nearly enough, for example, Hot 97 should play it every hour, on the hour.  No exaggeration.  I doubt anyone would complain.

1.  Soundtrack 2 My Life – Kid Cudi

After all that, my original assertion was right all along.  Remember back in high school, when teachers would say, “don’t change your answer, your first instinct is usually the right one,” well, I guess I should have listened, it would have saved me (and you) a lot of time.  I will never get tired of this song, and I’ve listened to it a lot, like probably an unhealthy amount.  For me, it’s flawless.

LISTEN NOW:

My Favorite Rap Song of All-Time: Part I

A few days ago, I impulsively called Soundtrack 2 My Life my favorite rap song of all-time.  While that might be true, I decided a proclamation like, “Favorite Rap Song of All-Time” deserved a more arduous vetting process than just a spur of the moment blog posting.

It deserves a two part-in depth-blog posting.  Welcome to Part I.

First, let me explain the route I took in narrowing down the massive pool of rap tracks.

1)  I narrowed down an authentic list of my favorite rappers.  Originally, I intended on making a list of twenty, but felt extremely odd (unauthentic) cramming names that, while I like, I would never consider my “favorite.”  So the list stands at stands at 18 MCs.  (Note: this is not the 18 best, it’s my 18 favorite.)

2)  By pure gut, I chose the songs that strike me as my favorite from each MC’s disocgraphy. (Once again not their best songs, but my favorite songs.)

3)  From the list of nominated songs, I listened, re-listened, and picked one song from each artist.

4)  After choosing one representative for each artist, I ranked the 18 songs, with number one grabbing the title as my Favorite Rap Song of All Time.

My Deepest Condolences to (but not really), some very notable rappers left off my list:  Nas, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Rick Ross, The Game, Public Enemy, Soulja Boy Tell Em, Young Jeeszy, T.I., Mos Def and Talib Kweli. 

Biggie (2 Nominations)

Hypnotize
Juicy
I’ve never been a huge Biggie fan, but he was one of the first rapper’s I listened to not named Will Smith or Coolio.  I also listened to Hypnotize about a million times during middle school.
Representing Biggie:  Hypnotize

Common (2 Nominations)

I Used to Love H.E.R.
Go!
I’m sort of surprised that Common only has two noms, since I really like him.  But for me these are the only two true contenders for my favorite Common track.  Go is so upbeat and Common’s flow is tight, but c’mon, I Used to Love H.E.R. is a masterpiece.
Representing Common:  I Used to Love H.E.R.

Childish Gambino (2 Nominations)

The Longest Text Message
Break (AOTL)
Biggie, Common…..the black kid from Community???  I know, you didn’t expect that, but I’ve liked Childish since his, I Am Not A Rapper Mixtape.  I almost feel like I discovered him.  I was under the impression he would never gain much traction as a rapper and remain my own little secret.  Now, he’s rhyming with Gostface, so what do I know?  The reworking of Kanye’s All of the Light’s is totally rad, and has an awesome indie feel.
Representing Childish Gambino:  Break (AOTL)

Outkast (2 Nominations)

Ms. Jackson
So Fresh, So Clean
Let me start by saying, I am ashamed of myself.  Only two Outkast noms is a total slap in the face to one of the greatest rap duos of all-time.  Compounding that disrespect, I nominated two of their more poppy cuts, instead of some of their deeper more complex tracks.  I’m embarrassed.  The other day, while listening to Sixteen, I realized (in a purely technical sense) Andre 3000 is the best rapper alive, and it’s not even close.  This assertion is not based solely on Sixteen, but after listening to Sixteen, I went back and listened to a bunch of 3 Stacks stuff and he has no peer in the rap kingdom.  That’s not hyperbole or, even an opinion, it’s a fact.  Okay, now that I got that out there,  I got to go with Ms. Jackson.
Representing Outkast:  Ms. Jackson

Wu-Tang/ODB (2 Nominations)

Triumph
Shimmy Shimmy Ya
Is this cheating?  Am I allowed to combine two related entities?  I don’t care.  This is my exercise (and I’m going to it again before I’m done).  Triumph is one of the most lyrically dense rap songs ever, no hooks, just line after line.  Shimmy Shimmy Ya is belligerent and  incomprehensible.  What do you think I’m going to pick?  Shimmy Shimmy Ya, of course.  It was my ring tone for most of college.
Representing Wu-Tang/ODB:  Shimmy Shimmy Ya

Lupe Fiasco (3 Nominations)

Go Go Gadget Flow
Kick, Push
Paris, Toyko
It seems like everyone I talked to was really disappointed by Lasers (me included).  I guess that’s why my three Lupe noms come from his earlier efforts.  For this one, I’m going all the way back to Food & Liquor.
Representing Lupe Fiasco: Kick, Push

Fugees/Lauryn Hill (3 Nominations)

Ready or Not
FU-GEE-LA
  Doo Wop
Sorry, I couldn’t rationalize Killing Me Softly as a rap song.  No offense to Pras or Wyclef, but it’s always been all about Lauryn (the best female rapper of all time).  The more Lauryn, the better.
Representing Fugees/Lauryn Hill:  Doo Wop

Lil Wayne (3 Nominations)

Drop the World
Hustler Musik
Receipt
It should be noted, there is no rapper I hate on, more than Lil Wayne.  It should also be noted, that there are few rappers I listen to more than Lil Wayne.  Continuing with that logic, Rebirth may be is undeniably the worst album I’ve ever heard, and my favorite Lil Wayne song comes from that album, go figure.
Representing Lil Wayne:  Drop the World

2Pac (3 Nominations)

Changes
Brenda Got a Baby
Dear Mama
By my nominations, you can tell I like thoughtful, socially conscious Pac rather than thug life Pac.  It’s hard to get more socially conscious than Changes.
Representing 2Pac: Changes

50 Cent (3 Nominations, Sort of)

Hate it or Love it
Ayo Technology
Get Rich or Die Tryin’
In a move that’s a bit unorthodox, I nominated an entire album.  That’s because Get Rich or Die Tyin’ is basically just twenty tracks of amazing and it’s impossible to choose a favorite.  I never considered it my favorite album, but I’m pretty sure I’ve bumped each of these songs ad nauseam.  Ayo Technology features Justin Timberlake, who is pretty boss.  Hate it or Love it, I guess it’s technically The Game’s song, but who cares, it’s dope.
Representing 50 Cent: Ayo Technology*
*I’m only choosing this because picking one track on Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is entirely too difficult.

Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg (4 Nominations)

Still D.R.E.
The Next Episode
Nuthin’ but a G Thang 
Beautiful 
Is their anything better than the piano strokes in the beginning of Still D.R.E.?  Yea, the first verse of Nuthin’ but a G Thang, but is their anything better than that?  Yep, Pharrell in Beautiful.  Sorry, I’m totally ignoring The Next Episode (I do like it a lot, though).
Representing Dr. Dre/Snoop Dogg: Beautiful

Eminem (4 Nominations)

Till’ I Collapse
Guilty Conscience
Sing for the Moment
Lose Yourself
I think it bears mentioning, Eminem was my first favorite rapper.  He’s no longer my favorite (ahem Relapse, ahem, Recovery), but like a first best friend, I have a special place for him.  Like almost everyone else, my favorite Eminem song is Till’ I Collapse.  Is that a cliche answer?  Yea, but who cares, if Till’ I Collapse doesn’t pump you up, check your pulse, you might be dead.
Representing Eminem: Till’ I Collapse

J. Cole (5 Nominations)

Before I’m Gone
Villematic
Can I Live
Who Dat?
Dreams
I was a bit disappointed by Cole’s debut album, Cole World.  I don’t blame him though, I’m fairly sure the record companies were pushing a more mainstream agenda, which conflicted with Cole’s backpack roots.  I mean look at the subject content on The Warm Up and Friday Night Lights compared to Cole World, it just doesn’t match up.  Anyway, sorry for the mini rant.  On another note, a friend of mine mentioned J Cole raps a lot about semen, I laughed it off, now I can’t listen to him without hearing semen.
Representing J. Cole:  Before I’m Gone

The Roots (5 Nominations)

The Seed (2.0)
Good Music
The Next Music
Pass the Popcorn
Anti-Circle
I promise you, you won’t see this one coming.  Ready?
Representing The Roots:  Anti-Circle 

Kid Cudi (6 Nominations)

Man on the Moon
Make Her Say
Soundtrack 2 My Life
All Along
The Prayer
Pursuit of Happyness
So, we get to what led us here in the first place.  Is Soundtrack to My Life, even my favorite Cudi song?  Let’s explore.  I’m pretty sure the Supreme Court just ruled that it’s unconstitutional for anyone, under 30, to dislike Pursuit of Happyness.  Make Her Say boasts Common, Kanye, Lady Gaga (?) and, of course, Cudi.  Man on the Moon spawned the entire Cudi movement.  The Prayer is just all around awesome.  All Along is one of the most beautifully depressing songs ever (it should really come with a disclaimer saying, “please don’t jump”).  All that said…
Representing Kid Cudi: Soundtrack 2 My Life  

Drake (6 Nominations)

Marvin’s Room
Over
The Calm
Uptown
Houstatlantavegas
Shut It Down
I bet a lot of you think you know where I’m going with this, considering, you know.  But, there I was trying to find the best Drake song.  Here, I’m choosing my favorite Drake song.  My favorite song is…well…maybe, you do know where I’m going with this.
Representing Drake: Marvin’s Room  

Kanye West (9 nominations)

Monster
Say You Will
Can’t Tell Me Nothing
Flashing Lights
Gorgeous
Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)
Everything I Am
Gold Digger
Ni**as in Paris

Now it’s getting hard.  Let me be clear, in a list of my top 50 favorite rap songs, each of these tracks would make the cut.  I’m not even going to explain my decision.  I’m just going to play each song on repeat and see what songs chooses me (very metaphysical).
Representing Kanye West: Diamonds from Sierra Leone (Remix)

Jay-Z (9 Nominations)

Roc Boys
P.S.A.
Hard Knock Life
Big Pimpin
Song Cry
Heart Of the City
99 Problems
Dead Presidents II
Ni**as in Paris
Paris gets a second life.  Unfortunately, as much as I like that song (I like it A LOT), it won’t advance.  It goes without saying, like Kanye, all these songs would be on my list of top 50 rap songs.  Also like Kanye, I’m not even going to explain my decision, I’m going the metaphysical route, let it choose me.
      Representing Jay-Z:  P.S.A.

Tomorrow, I rank the Final 18, and reveal My Favorite Rap Song of All-Time…Stay Tuned.

Frank Ocean – Terminal 5

Sometimes, you go to one of your favorite artist’s shows, and they immensely disappoint (ahem-Drake).  Sometimes, they’re solid.  And sometimes, Frank Ocean absolutely brings the mutherfucking house down.

A few weeks ago, I totally spaced out (like I usually do).  Frank Ocean tickets went on sale, sold out and I, of course, missed them.  Luckily, I got a totally awesome friend who didn’t miss them, and invited me to join her (if you’re reading this THANK-YOU-A-MILLION-TIMES).

The place was buzzing early.  The crowd erupted when Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt took their places in VIP.  Rumors were swirling around that Jay-Z was in the building.  Some people were counting bagels.  Outside there was a tornado warning (or some type of cataclysmic weather warning), but inside Terminal 5 no one could care less.

Frank hit the stage, and the crowd’s ovation rivaled the thunder outside.  For about, the next hour and a half it was a 3000 person (ages 17-27) sing along.  Everybody fell into a collective unconscious, vibing out HARD, showering Frank with unconditional love.  And he deserved it.  He played everything, everyone wanted to hear (with the notable exception of Pink Matter, but still),  he crooned, he swayed, he didn’t miss a step.  Then he played Pyramids, and everyone lost it (including Tyler).  Then Frank left the stage.  Then the crowd chanted for one more song.  Then Frank delivered.  Then the crowd left.

Breathless.

I’m currently reliving the entire concert via YouTube (big ups to MrsLexiouWesCudi and JornalismNerd).  So, so, so, good.  Too good.  That is all.

No, now, that is all.


Oh Shit I Gotta Write Something

Im drinking now, getting food in a bit, seeing Frank Ocean after that and was driving back from Boston since then. I got to write some thing so I’ll just say this.

I love drinking beers.

I love music.

I love road trips.

So today’s a pretty good day.

Peace.

(wrote this from my iPhone and I’m sort of tipsy, so forgive any spelling/grammatical errors)