What I’m Reading
The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop – Dan Charnas
I remember falling in love with rap as a kid even as far back as the late 70s….I was obsessed with in the early 80s with breakdancing and it’s early style hip-hop beats; SugarHill Gang’s “Rappers-Delight” was one of the first mini-LP’s I purchased as a kid (my first was David Bowie’s “Ashes to Ashes’ and with its new wave synthesizers, funk base and layered vocals, it was about as gangsta as it gets)
From there I got to witness the emergence of Run DMC, Beastie Boys, Public Enemy, Ice T, NWA and everything in between and after. I loved it all.
This masterpiece of a book reads like an old-school mixtape covering the story arcs of all my favourite artists and charting the impact they had on the evolution of the rap/hip hop industry. What was once considered a “subversive” and “sinister” musical style has transformed into a dominant musical genre with an undeniable influence on worldwide culture and a number of related and unrelated industries.
Charnas focuses particularly on the interplay of hip-hop and the business side of the music industry; a closely guarded arena that excluded and otherwise exploited black talent from developing any kind of entrepreneurial foothold. Charnas notes that it was this very suppression that transmogrified hiphop into an entity teeming with groundbreaking innovators who were every bit as ruthless in the boardroom as they were behind the mike and turntables. All the dramas, beefs and associated scandals are captured in this enthralling narrative time line of events
I read recently that this book has just been turned into a VH1 Series called “The Breaks, so if that’s true I’ll be interested in checking it out. In the meantime, if you’re a fan of hip-hop, rap or business books in general, this is a page-turner you won’t be able to put down.
What I’m Watching
“Sport is an art form – that’s what Tarasov thought. Creativity, a vivid mind and constant thinking are needed for greatness.”
Easily one of the best sports documentaries I’ve ever seen, and I don’t even follow ice-hockey. Set against the back-drop of the Cold War and the propaganda fuelled emphasis of sports at that time to drive poltitical ideology, ‘Red Army’ follows the history of the 80’s Soviet Red Army Dream-Team who rose to dominance under Russian coach, Anatoli Tarasov.
There’s so many enjoyable elements to this documentary, but I particularly loved watching the gruelling Russian training methods and workouts, the players almost balletic style vs the Western Teams’ more aggressive and individualistic approach. But what really struck me was watching the ‘unit’ of 5 players relate their stories and experiences. Together with some brilliant editing, the nuances of their individual personalities and emotions reveal more than any information-dense retell of facts.
I guarantee that anyone who appreciates the majesty of excellence and the transmutation of raw potential into dominant talent will appreciate this film. Although it hasn’t converted me into an ice-hockey fan as such, I’ll also be watching a comparison piece from 30/30 called “Of Miracles And Men” which is also supposed to be well done.
This Chris Bell production came after “Bigger Stronger Faster” and completely eluded my radar until I heard him mention it on the Rogan Podcast promoting his recently released, “Prescription Thugs” documentary.
While “Bigger Faster” and “Thugs” uses Bell’s own family as a reference point for the larger theme, this film follows the journeys of 5 separate children pursuing sports superstardom, driven by their often relentless, overbearing and overzealous parents.
While I’m all for strict parenting, tough love and setting a high bar of expectations for kids in this modern day entitlement culture, the parents featured in this film often cross the line of abuse which makes this at times, an uncomfortable and disturbing watch.
I don’t know how this documentary managed to garner so little media attention because it’s a superb watch in its own right. I also think of the three documentaries Bell has made, this is his best so far.
Even though I paid for a rental copy from Google Play I found an uploaded copy of Trophy Kids on Vimeo. However I think if you like it, perhaps shoot Chris a few dollars by purchasing something he sells in appreciation for his hard work.
What I’m Listening To
Joe Rogan’s podcasts are hit and miss. I find Rogan to be bit of a pseudo-intellectual who acts and speaks like with the conviction of someone who is blatantly ignorant that they’re discussing topics far beyond their intellectual punching weight.
This particular podcast however slams it out of the park, simply because the Bell Brother’s tag-team are so personable and provide amazing inside industry insights. The discussion expands on a lot of the topics raised in the Bell’s new documentary, “Prescription Thugs“; Chris’ own self-destructive experience with prescription medications, their brother, Mad-Dog’s death and the insidious role of Big-Pharma and government who legally and unscrupulously perpetuate a problem that affects millions.
Chris and Smelly also appeared on episode 682 of Rogan’s podcast as well, so check them both out if you haven’t already done so.
Purchase I’m Loving
If you’re looking for an outstanding (cheap) entry level DSLR camera then this would be my pick. Loving the photos this thing is taking. Glad my phone camera stopped working which forced my hand to purchase this baby.
Pics Of The Week
After being called out on an Aussie bodybuilding podcast this week for having no legs, it’s my new mission to turn that weakness into a strength.
Some of the wheels people are throwing up these days blow my fucking mind and motivate me more than ever to bring mine up to a more appreciable level of greatness for my next show.
I present you some recent pics of WTF? Legs!
Danny Hester and Stan McQuay Competing Classic Division!
Some of the guys that inspired me to get into bodybuilding almost 20 years ago are competing in the upcoming IFBB Classic Division! These 2 guys ARE Classic Bodybuilding and they’ve continue to motivate me to greater heights. Bucket list item is to have a training session with either of them some day.