Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Vibe Bracket Podcasts

Since Da Lake Squad was prominently featured in this epic argument, we got a special guest post on from the seveneighteen scholars. Enjoy good people!

(NOTE: The second half of The Vibe Racket: Part II podcast is available. Scroll to the end of the page.)

Welcome to the nitty gritty.

Last time, we just ripped the bracket to shreds.

This time , welcome to the All-Star podcast: Streetz, Radio The Rahim, Bobby Drake and yours truly filled out Vibe’s bracket to determine the Best Rapper Ever…while ripping it to shreds.

Highlights include:

Did a certain Harlem rapper have a ghostwriter early in his career?
Take everything you hear from a Queens native about a Queens native with a few grains of salt.
The LL Cool J-Canibus battle revisited.
Which top 5-seeded rapper(s) got a 1st round knockout?
Who didn’t deserve a #1 seed?
Over/under on pause/no homo/no rainbow/that’s what she said references: 32

And a special guest appearance from our favorite correctional officer.

To follow along with the actual Vibe bracket, go here.

The podcast was so crazy we had to split it into two parts. Check out Part 1 here.

UPDATE!!!: Part 2 of the podcast now available! Click here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Start Snitchin'

Unlike the vast majority of my team, from the Lake Squad to the Seveneighteen scholars, I am a happily married man. Before I met the woman that I am making my life with, I was in fulfilling and loving relationships. I learned important things from each of the women that I was with (don’t worry, a breakdown for each one is forthcoming, so look out for that) that have allowed me to be the best man that I can be for the woman that I am going to love until the end of my days.

I am reminded of these invaluable lessons each time I hear people talk about their relationship issues. I was having a conversation with a friend today that took me to a very interesting place. It reminded me that I need everyone out there to know something about me. Yes, I have a confession to make. I’ll try to keep it succinct:

Hi, my name is Coach Phil and I am a snitch.

I know all my hood ninjas out there just threw up in their collective mouths, just a little bit, but let me explain… I am a snitch when it comes to the woman I love.

I’ll set the scene up for you.

In undergrad, I was never really too much of a smizzle with mine. I did what I did with the ladies, but I usually kept my goings on close to the vest and out of the guise of the general public. Don’t get me wrong, I did me, but discretion was paramount.

I had a summer fling with a woman that, in hindsight, I completely underestimated. She was quiet and poetic, eclectic, and honestly, a bit weird. Definitely physically attractive too (slim with 36Cs and a modest backside), but if you asked me how we ended up kicking it, I would seldom be able to give you a straight answer. But kick it we did, all summer long.

As expected, when the school year commenced, we started to drift apart. There was the occasional run-in, but nothing nearly on par with our summertime gallivanting. Since I found myself well under the salary cap (read single), I felt comfortable offering 10-day contracts to a couple of interested females. After try-outs concluded, I found myself unexpectedly wifed-up. Did my summertime fling give a fourteenth of a fuck about my change in status?


I get a seemingly innocent call from her one afternoon, requesting my presence at her spot to talk. I consider this request innocuous for 3 reasons:

1) Over the course of the summer, we had indeed become friends. Weird as she was, I valued her opinion, and even at the conclusion of our fling, I found her perspective interesting and refreshing. I assumed the feeling was mutual.
2) Her roommate, who was ALWAYS in the spot, was one of my newfound wifey’s closest friends. In other words, streets was watching and I would be damn if I got caught up on some stupid ish.
3) It really was the middle of the afternoon, no later than like 3:00 PM.

For those reasons, I oblige without a second thought.

I get to her spot.

Knock on the door.

“COME IN!” She exclaims.

I open the door, go inside, and it is dark, with the only light coming from a series of flickering candles. My spider sense is starting to tingle.

She is not in the living room so I call her name. I hear her voice, more softly now, beckoning me to come to her room. My spider sense is throbbing urgently at this point.

On the way to her room I notice that her roommate is nowhere to be found. Spider sense is at Defcon 1.

So I apprehensively head to her room…

To find her…



Wearing nothing but lotion and candlelight.

“I missed you,” she purrs.

Now before I continue, there is something that you should know about me. I have NEVER, EVER, EEEEEEEEEEEEEEVER, put the pussy on a pedestal. I have always subscribed to the Drizzy Drake philosophy, “Pussy is only pussy, and I get it when I need it.” So the normal male reaction (i.e. start thinking with the head between your legs rather than the one on your shoulders) just was not in play.

Did I like what I saw?

You damn right.

Did I let what my eyes were drinking in, and the building excitement of my smaller head rule the day?

Absolutely not.

I won’t front like I lectured her on compromising my situation or, for that matter, even told her to put her clothes on. I just laughed, said “Wow, you look amazing,” and bounced.

When I got back to the crib, I did 2 things:
1) Called one of my boys (the most discrete one) and told him the entire story verbatim.
2) Called wifey and got to snitchin!!!!

So what happened?

Wifey listened to the story, secretly started an unrequited blood feud with young fling, and that was the end of it.

All because I was smart enough to snitch.

My reasoning is simple. First, whatever possessed summer fling to come at me like that could easily possess her to make some shit up about how it played out. Second, though I was in the nascent stages of this relationship, I was really feeling wifey, and I wanted to build on a foundation of trust. Third, and probably most importantly, I was acutely aware of my own culpability (fell through the crib of an ex fling dolo, noticed it was dark and candlelit and didn’t bounce immediately), and how my actions could be construed if I failed to get my version out first. Fourth and finally, you NEVER want there to be info out there about you and the opposite sex that your wife did not hear from you first. It’s just bad for business. The truth will set you free…

Do you think I did the right thing? Have you ever felt like snitchin’ was the right path for you? What would you have done in a similar situation? Holla at me peoples…

Friday, May 15, 2009

Reflection on Blacks in Higher Education

I wrote the bulk of this a while ago, but with everything going on in my life both professionally and academically I felt it was as good a time as any to revisit the subject. As always, I value your opinions so please comment. Anyway, here goes:

I am planning on studying for the LSAT and to retake the GRE this summer with hopes of giving myself some options after completing my Masters, and it has forced me to critically analyze my personal and professional goals for the next few years. That said, I got to thinking about higher education in the U.S. as a whole and the problems that continue to restrict the black community from the upper echelons of our eternally stratified society.

"Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor; Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door." From the mind of Emma Lazarus, these words are found inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty; a warm invitation, a welcoming gesture to all nations and people, to come to the United States. For hundreds of years the citizens of every nation, tongue, and people have come to this country with the hope of a new opportunity, a new future.

The notion that a child born with the restrictive shackles of penury and persecution will be able to escape them through hard work and ambition remains a central idea in the self-portrait of the United States. The American parent makes an implicit pact with the country itself, with the sincere hope that this Land of Opportunity will enable their children to accomplish things beyond the scope of their greatest desires. Unfortunately, the reality of upward mobility in America is more problematic than the well-intentioned aspirations of those who call it home.

As the gap between rich and poor continues to widen, a closer examination of the policies and practices that led to our current state becomes increasingly necessary. A little more than half a century ago, Brown vs. Board of Education declared that racial segregation in public schools unconstitutionally denies students equal educational opportunities. Chief Justice Earl Warren submitted that "In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education."

Education continues to play a central role in the individual and collective elevation of historically marginalized populations, but I think that blacks have missed the point all too often. Let me be more specific. I know that for a number of the people that I have come in contact with (myself included), school is a means to an end. You want to make good money, so you need a college degree. Thus, when you get to school, wherever it may be, rather than studying those things that you are really interested in, you pigeonhole yourself into classes and majors that you think will lead you down the road to financial security. Along the way, some of us are lucky and actually find a talent and a passion for what we study in our quest to make money, but so many of us do not. There are a myriad of people that I know right now doing things that they hate, day in and day out, for a pay-check. Why is this?

So driven by their desires to obtain financial wealth, black students across the nation continue to subject themselves to unfulfilling and uninteresting curricula, throwing their passions by the wayside in the name of the almighty dollar. Additionally, entirely too many stop at their Bachelors degree when that degree is becoming about as valuable as a high school diploma in today’s marketplace. If we are to agree that education is the great equalizer and arbiter of opportunity in our society, we as blacks need to re-evaluate our dedication to education. It is essential that the mindset that allows us to shirk our talents and pursue money be nipped in the bud. It starts in the home and the school.

I can't speak for everyone, of course, but I know that I personally exerted this pressure on myself. I went to Villanova University on a full academic scholarship and majored in business. Why? Not for a transcendent love of business education and the academy. Not because I am a hard worker and was really interested in all of the fields I studied. I majored in Management Information Systems and Decision and Information Technology because I wanted to make money. Communications was the closest to aligning with my real interests, but I picked the other 2 because I needed the security of knowing that I could get a good paying job right out of college with my degree.

My real passions have always been writing and teaching. I love the way pen and pad can make ideas come to life. I love to share and discuss my ideas and opinions. I love transforming minds, alerting people up to new possibilities and ways of thinking. I love the look on someone’s face when they "get it". I should have double majored in education and communication, or maybe even journalism and education. However, teachers historically don't make good money, and it is very hard to break into high paying writing jobs. So my response? Major in Info Systems. There are high paying jobs. The average salary for someone who graduates with those degrees is about $45,000 to start. There are great opportunities for upward mobility.

I strongly believe that the reason there are not more African American faculty or even faculty that come from the lower socioeconomic backgrounds, is that the college education is widely misused. We, often the first generation of college students in our families, see the degree as a way to make moves up the social ladder through financial gain. So instead of doing things that interest us, whether through self-actualizing majors, or career pursuits in disciplines that we are personally passionate about, we place our real desires on the backburner and seek out careers where making good money is paramount. The would-be sociologist becomes an investment banker. The would-be biology teacher becomes a doctor. The would-be museum curator becomes an attorney. The would-be creative writer becomes a computer engineer.

In my college selection process, I applied widely because I had good guidance counselors and a mother that cared a great deal about me and believed in my potential to succeed. I applied to Princeton, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, University of Southern California, UC Berkley, UCLA, Dartmouth, Brown, Villanova University, University of Delaware, Rutgers University and Carnegie Mellon. With a 4.0 and a 1560 on the SAT, I got accepted to every program (except Princeton still a little bitter about that because it was my first choice) but I went to Villanova because they offered me a full scholarship.

The Villanova Presidential Scholarship covered my room, board, tuition and books for 8 semesters of undergraduate study and was worth over $155,000. It made up my mind for me because it gave me an opportunity to get an excellent education without being a burden to my mother, a single parent who accrued seemingly endless debt raising three young men by herself. By going to college on scholarship, I could fill a number of important roles. I was a good student, a responsible son, and a good role model for my younger brothers.

I would love to see more opportunities for people of all backgrounds to attend school with little or no financial burden. Education's accessibility lies largely in the ability of individual party's to finance it. I struggle with this idea now as I seek ways to finance my Masters level education. I would be really interested to know what changes are being made to make post-baccalaureate education more accessible to people of lower socio-economic standing. Financial considerations should not continue to be a deterrent to higher education for highly qualified candidates, especially blacks. This discussion is exactly why I want to follow my Masters in Higher Education Management up with law school or a PhD. Serious knowledge and analysis of the policies and practices at work in our society are vital to begin the journey toward necessary change.

In a way, I hate that I conformed to expectations that were not even placed on me. I am happy to be where I am, and I would seldom change the experiences that helped me arrive in my current situation. However, I wish I had the personal fortitude to pursue my interests rather than doing what I felt was safe from the outset. In my recent trials, I have found that strength, and with it, I will dedicate the rest of my academic career to the pursuit of my passions. I will make sure that my children and my children's children can live lives doing what they really want to do. What is all the money in the world if you are not happy? What does it matter if you gain the world, if you lose your soul? I will break this vicious cycle, and the change will start, it must start, with me... today.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Since early 2008, I have been filling my psychological and social voids in superficial ways to no avail. My life lacks the companionship and intimacy needed for reaching the apex of Maslow’s Triangle. I am trying to fill these voids by drowning myself in a sea of pointless pussy. Word to Californication.

We all have our ups and downs, smiles and frowns. We later find out that every thing is make believe. I have had my downs and now it’s time to get up. When you’re at the bottom, the only way to go is up.

With the help of my close friends, a new job offer, and the enticing potential of the hoasis of women with whoreganizing opportunities that await my arrival to the ATL, I will soon say, HE HAS RISEN out of this rut…but only ‘cause Cornell Westside likes to rhyme in third person.

Living in 5 cities within a 3 year span has taught me a lot. I have figured out what comes natural to me and more importantly, I have learned what comes natural to other people and how to pry that out of them.

In particular, I have been influenced by 3 people in my life whom are more than my friends; they are my brothers, my therapists, and my mentors.

Shaq: you have taught me, by actions more than words, that Nike had it right all along. Just Do It. I wish you infinite success in the world of start-up companies, stomach viruses, rolled r’s and water you can’t drink.

Kobe: Pluto, relevance, and doing what’s comes natural to you. Need I say more? Remembering those tenants of life will not only get anyone as far as they want to go in life, but farther than one can ever imagine. And I can’t forget that I was introduced to the occult art of “pulling the rug out from under her” by you. “Sometimes you just gotta show nuccas…cause sometimes you gotta do stuff for the story and not the principle.”

Coach Phil: From you, I’ve learned to “intellectualize my problems”, “put myself in the situations where I’ll be most effective”, “ride the first horse” [pause], and last but not least to “go f*ck Oprah” when the situation calls for it. Kevin Federline is the American Dream!

I just wanted to thanks and shyt. I just got a one-way ticket out of a bad situation by being offered a promotion in a recession, a nucca is supposed to get emotional.

Ok, now that I got that out the way, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled ignorance.


P.S. I learned today that before you delete that crazy chick’s number from your phone, you should write it down somewhere in case she sends you an invitation back to HELL (read: random text message) months later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New York, NY

I J Mikey would like to go on record and say that I am a New Yorker. I was born here, raised here although I have spent some time outside the city(philly for college and LA because I could)but I just want to say how much I love my city. I say this not because I am egotistical guy or because I hate other places but because I love to take the train and I get a lot of things done on the train. One of the thing I like to do on the train is write and read blogs on my blackberry which brings me to my point.

This is a public service annoncement to all bloggers, stop writting long ass posts and blogs that make me download extra content to finish reading your ish. I want to read your whole piece, not just what comes up on my blackberry.

Hopfully this piece of mine doesn't break my own rule.

J Mikey
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hear no evil, see no evil, print no evil...

By now I am sure that many of you have heard about or seen the controversial cartoon from the New York Post; the one with the chimp, and the cops, and talk about the stimulus package. Upon seeing the cartoon I was shocked and confused. The cartoon had (at least to me) extremely racist imagery.

1. Cops with guns drawn (drawn as in pulled out and at the ready not as in cartoon drawn (duh))
2. A dead chimp shot several times bleeding on the ground
3. The words "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill"
4. All directly across from a picture of President Obama signing the new piece of legislation.

Col Allan, editor-in-chief of the Post stated, "The cartoon is a clear parody of a current news event, to wit the shooting of a violent chimpanzee in Connecticut. It broadly mocks Washington's efforts to revive the economy."

I’m sorry Mr. Allen, but when you use the word clear to describe something, that usually means that there is no debate or confusion about what we’re all seeing. Now I don't know about you, but the whole thing seemed pretty racist to me. This was approved by an editor, seen by multiple individuals, and no one thought to say “Hey, this might not go over so well...” Interesting.

As someone born and raised in New York, there are entirely too many cases of police brutality against Blacks to not find this alarming; Abner Louima, Amadou Diallo, and Sean Bell are only a few examples of police violence against Blacks. Add that to the all too common association of Blacks with chimps, monkeys, etc. I find it a little hard to believe that the cartoonist and the editors at the New York Post were that clueless.

But hey, maybe the author thought that the pet chimpanzee going crazy and ripping off its owner’s face was funny and that everyone would get the joke. Or maybe the people who worked at the Post saw it didn't care… Well actually, the latter isn't too hard to believe considering the New York Post is owned by Rupert Murdoch. Yes, the same guy who controls Fox News. You do the math.

The thing about racist acts is that individuals can see them differently. While some people were outraged, some simply shrugged their shoulders and said “what's the big deal.” While some people immediately got on their phones and called the paper, others simply turned to the next page. How do you define something as racist, if the people who “should” be offended don't all agree that anything happened at all?

I thought the New York Post knew better, and the cartoon was offensive. Is it just me?

She Can Do It To Right??? WRONG!!!!

The venerable Rick Fox had this to say at the conclusion of a previous post:

My question is, how come women don’t do the same?Both men and women browse Facebook. Both sexes see people they find attractive. Both read profile (comparatively speaking) and see something they like or have in common (i.e. location, school, major, career, Greek org., hobby, TV show, etc.). Yet a man will take the first step, while a woman keeps it moving (as indicated by the disparity between the sexes in Facebook contact). Why is this so?

I have my reasons, but I’d love to hear yours…

So without further ado...

Astute observation Mr. Fox. Before I begin my answer, I want to note a couple of things. First, my comments do not apply to all women. If you are a woman that breaks the mold, transcends the status quo, and otherwise does the damn thang, these comments obviously do not apply, and more power to you. Additionally, I have to admit that I have yet to embrace internet based relationships on any level. I poke females on facebook as a reaction to being poked (no homo). I (almost) never initiate it. I never go on facebook looking for females because:
1) I prefer communications to be face to face, at least early on (because I need the nonverbal cues).
2) It is hard enough to manage plans for closing the deal with good looking females I already actually know in real life.
3) I just don’t have time to open and conduct any serious internet negotiations.

That said, I think the most basic answer lies in the fact that guys are just allowed to care about and pursue sexual contact more than women. In the social jungle, men are allowed to initiate contact with intent to distribute dick with multiple females without being reprimanded or otherwise made to feel any remorse. I know you have witnessed cats shamelessly hollering at countless chicks in the same club first hand. Sad as it is, a congruent argument cannot be made on behalf of women because of the myopia still associated with gender roles in interpersonal, especially sexual, relationships. While few women explicitly subscribe to the double standard, they carry themselves in a way that is mindful of its prevalence. Thus any actions that could be misconstrued as aggressive (approaching guys, openly hollering at / dealing with multiple guys at the same time, being overtly sexual) on behalf of a female are likely minimized or done very discreetly because they risk appearing unladylike by society’s standards.

Progressive guys like ourselves think “Hey, I love and respect women. I look good. I’m hitting the gym. I am ambitious, focused, and taking care of business in my personal and professional affairs. Shit. I am a catch. So why am I always the one that has to initiate contact with the opposite sex?" Given the increasingly aggressive and impressive woman with her own goals, aspirations, and ideas about changing the world for the better, it would seem to make sense that she exercise similar agency in her dealings with the opposite sex. Right??? Plus, I’ll be the first to admit that I like to feel desired. I like to feel wanted. I like to feel sexy. I would love to be hollered at. I don’t want to have to initiate things ALL THE TIME. But reality is, the way our society is structured, despite all the progress women have made, they still feel pressure to be “women".

Women are wooed, they do not woo.

Women are lusted after, they do not lust.

Women are pursued, they do not pursue.

Women are wined and dined, they do not pay.

These are the unwritten rules of the game, and while I hardly subscribe to them in my own affairs, I know that they exist.

So while it may sound nice and even logical for women to initiate contact, don’t expect any significant manifestation of their newfound self-determination any time soon.

P.S. This is very much just my personal opinion, but for women to forfeit power in intimate relationships, especially in the arena of sex, is to give away the one undeniable thing (other than child-bearing which isn’t so much a power as it is a biological imperative), that women truly control in this male dominated society. Just a thought.

What do you out there think???