When my friend’s four-year-old calls “I Feel It Coming” his OG jam, I’m fairly certain he’s not referencing a hip-hop record from 1991. And yet, his statement shows a Kyrie-caliber handle on Ice-T’s patented slang. So how can someone know what a word means without knowing what it means? That’s the nature of abbreviations—the caterpillars of the word world. The untethered, continuous term they will become can only be realized via a departure from their dotted form. And like German vocabulary, the metamorphosis that fades the black spots between the lonely letters yields meaning that extends beyond the aggregation of their previously seperated parts. To know the butterfly is to erase the caterpillar, and it is in this way words like laser, scuba, and OG define comfortable homes in the dictionary—by forgetting what they used to mean.
A mild reaction.
The Serie A recently pioneered a punishment that exists in the rare and innocuous space between a slap on the wrist and a free pass. Their two match supporter ban of Inter Milan, imposed following racist chants aimed at Kalidou Koulibaly, is the ugly emblem of a game currenlty inept at eliminating discrimination. Forget the embarrasingly mild nature of this action and the fact remains—the action being taken is reaction. Footballing organizations are bureaucracies to govern and struggle by nature with both immediacy and proactivity. But humans don’t, and humans are the ones in the tribunals allowing these chants to continue. We, the fans, need to do better and confront discrimination—on sight and on site.
A manner of speaking.
At first listen, Anderson .Paak’s Oxnard finale abandons the send-off principles established in the first two installments of his musical trilogy. Venice and Malibu both conclude with a neatly tied bow, bidding the listener adieu with cinematic songs that (even on the name level) lift upwards to offer a cohesive view of the whole. Left to Right also does what its name suggests but shuns the rest of project, turning away from summary towards something unrecognizable and new. .Paak’s surprising, patois-laced delivery in the song, however, comes as a tweak in execution rather than a shift in approach. This deliberate departure from his smooth, smile-ridden inflection actually imitates Off The Ground and The Dreamer by acting as a springboard to the next project. In order for a trilogy to progress, each story requires a conclusion. The grand finale, however, demands something fresh, a farewell that turns its back on a concluded work to concentrate on the mystery of the future. Now, with his trilogy behind him, Anderson .Paak has our attention.
“Oh! Blocked by James!” If you’re like me, two things just happened. First, the epic voice of Mike Breen just invaded your thoughts for a brief dramatic reading. And second, little bumps appeared up and down your arms (sorry (not sorry in the least) Warriors fans). The Block is forever a multi-sensory experience, two masters of their craft collaborating to erect a statue of a leaping LeBron, inscription and all, into our memory’s museum. It’s also proof that commentators define moments. A muted television, despite all the visual drama of athletics, means a one-dimensional experience. Voices make games immersive, molding the emotions of fans into tangible sound bites. And in a sphere where actions often defy depiction, commentators do what we cannot—put words to the indescribable.
Not only is taking six half steps an inefficient way to get somewhere, it’s also sonically horrifying—in isolation. Sitting between the perfect fourth and the angelic perfect fifth, the tritone imposes a thoroughly tangled frequency ratio of 64:45, a relationship that would befuddle even the metronomic hands of Buddy Rich. These uniquely incompatibie vibrations, however specific and unpleasant, become less poisonous and more dye-like when dropped carefully into a score. Listen to this ecclectic flight of tritone users—“Mo Bamba”, “Black Sabbath”, and Westiside Story’s “Maria”. The inclusion of an atonal chord lends all three a darker hue without dooming them to a uniform, discordant blackness. Each song blends its own coloration with the murkiness of the diminished fifth into a rainbow of discrete, inky feels—thrilling aggression, haunting satanism, and misty listlesness.
When comparing performances and statistics, it’s hard to discern the subject from the mirror. In a simple, elegant game like football, numbers seem a shallow evaluation of reality. Our eyes, however, are disposed to caricature, contorting evaluations to account for the intangible. So is Mohamed Salah worse than he was in 2017? The eye test would suggest that the Egyptian Messi(ah) has lost his spark. Unfortunately, his tallies disagree. Salah has only 1 fewer goal involvement in the Prem through 11 games (5 goals and 4 assists vs. 7 goals and 3 assists). What’s more—Liverpool have improved their points tally by a healthy 8, all while scoring just one fewer goal. This disconnect between numerics and aesthetics aptly brands football as ”the beautiful game”—a competition that values artistry as much as scoring.
A game of lowering the bar.
In many fields, there is a skill gap that arrives from repetition, an advantage that benefits newness and disqualifies pioneers from maintaining a top spot (sorry Mark Spitz). Bun B visited Complex with this in mind, using inflation to neutralize this recency effect in crowning the hip-hop G.O.A.T. In nearly every matchup, Bun’s rationale relies on precedence to inform prowess—an artist’s future influence magnifies (and overshadows) the value of their work and their innate capacity for their craft. Though this adjustment accounts for the shoulders-of-giants effect, it makes earliness, rather than talent, the standard for excellence. To properly honor Biggie as #1 after two decades, influence and ability need to be considered, equally and as independent variables. Without doing so, the Top 5 will always resemble Mount Rushmore—a monument that commemerates founders rather than geniuses.
No man’s land.
Neutrals don’t occupy the moral high ground—especially when it comes to modern football’s infamous barbershop debate. In fact, the Messi vs. Ronaldo discussion has such distinguished hemispheres that diplomats are forced into a lonely orbit. The nonpartisans-turned-extraterrestrials among us fail to understand that their perspective is, by nature, alien—far enough from the surface to see both sides. Where impartiality traditionally bridges distances, refusing to choose between #10 and #7 emphasizes the space between the uninvolved and the passionate. Simply posed, the question is about the existance of a best player. To pick neither is to disagree with the whole world.
To stress the up beat.
V.I.P. by Youngblood Brass Band is The Sixth Sense of jazz music, hiding its off-beat bassline in plain sight by carefully curating the listener’s context. In isolation, the tuba intro supplants a false “one,” offering a backing groove whose percieved downbeat corresponds to the entrance of percussion. At 1:42, a seemingly abrupt cymbal crash shifts the feel an eighth note forward to accompany the melody. YBB’s M. Night Shyamalan reveal revolves around unveiling this discomfort as the result of a mistaken assumption rather than a metronomic alteration. To do so, the song essentially restarts at 4:09, but with new information. Now, the tuba riff starts on the “and” of one while the horns dictate the downbeat. When the transition comes again at 5:00, the chorus begins seamlessly, uncovering the truth to the listener—there is no shift or measure of 7/8. The tuba and drums were syncopated the whole time.
To cut short.
Zidane is football’s patron saint of early exits. This exalted position, like the canonization of many, has come at some cost—namely a throbbing forehead and a shiny silver medal. But at long last, Zizou’s affinity for walking away unexpectedly has paid dividends (or not hurt him, rather). Real Madrid are heading into El Clasico with only one win in their last six (and none in their last four domestic outings), the type of form that attracts George-Clooney-Up-in-the-Air types. Whether he foresaw Ronaldo’s turn to Turin or simply felt it was time for a change, Zidane, for perhaps the first time in his career, is not being punished for leaving.
What do you call a transaction in which both parties lose money? Spotify. Although I’d gladly snap my way through a dramatic reading of David Ek’s letter to his shareholders, the quick maths don’t yet add up to “giving... creative artists the opportunity to live off of their art.” The global streaming titan reported $1.5 billion in losses last year, all while paying artists as little as $0.0006 (they have a precise machine that splits a penny into almost two thousand tiny copper-plated bits) per play. Take an up-and-coming indie group like Lawrence. If each of their respectable 200k monthly listeners streamed Living Room front to back, the nine-piece soul-pop group would net a neat $1,560—the equivalent of selling a meager 75 $20 CDs. But before we light our torches and set sail for Stockholm, let’s consider being open to paying an extra three dollars a month for unlimited music—that alone would’ve balanced Spotify’s books in 2017, giving them more room for artist compensation.
100 kilometers west of Paris, the concrete pitches of Évreux still echo with the name of Ousmane Dembélé. The nimble Frenchman’s shrewed footwork has earned him (for the moment, locally) what few players in the history of football have been inventive enough to achieve—a cemented place in the vocabulary of the game. Johan Cruyff’s trademark turn, Ronaldo’s explosive chop, and Neymar’s coy in-step control represent the legacies of creators rather than players, self-titled iconographies that immortalize the individuality of their inventors. By minting the term “Dembouz,” the youth of Dembélé’s hometown have identified something the world is discovering at the Camp Nou—an artist.