The dust has finally settled on the Toronto Raptors 2015/16 season. With everything said and done within this tumultuous campaign, the Raps remained relevant well into May. It’s the month usually relegated to pre-draft preparations, murmurs of firing the head coach and potential off-season free agent acquisitions. This spring, however, proved to be one of excitement and intrigue in the 6ix.
By definition, the word gentrification describes the process of renewing and rebuilding by infusing the affluent, or middle-class, into a deteriorating urban area, thereby displacing its own residents. Such is the case of Toronto’s Regent Park, where, since 2005 residents have been slowly ushered out of their dwellings to make way for the “New Toronto” order, like Tory Lanez would say.
The sweltering and unrelenting heat of the beautiful twin island republic of Trinidad and Tobago juxtaposed itself as the backdrop of my Super Bowl weekend. The soundtrack: hard-driving, fast-paced Afro-Indo influenced soca music – the driving force of carnival season. Unlike hip-hop, soca is one genre seemingly oblivious to one of the most important sports weekends in North America.
There are only a few rappers that motivate me. The list is fairly short. That’s not to say that rappers not mentioned aren’t in heavy rotation on my playlist. There’s more to it.
Nas, Jadakiss, Tupac, Jay Z and B.I.G. have an uncanny way of elevating my mind state, while removing me from the social confines that life’s daily nuances and mellow-dramatic subplots may provide.
As the son of a first generation Trinidadian Canadian, born in the concrete suburbia of Toronto, I was raised in an era where the NHL’s hapless Toronto Maple Leafs struggled to maintain competitive relevance and where the Edmonton Oilers wielded insurmountable dominance.
One of the most recognizable baselines in hip-hop history is Special Ed’s (pictured in column artwork) wildly famous, head-nodding late ’80s anthem “I Got It Made”. When he told us he was our “Idol, the highest title, numero uno,” we took his word for it, and allowed him to make that claim.
First things first, my apologies to my readers – I know you have been yearning for the latest release of your favourite column. After being thrust into the abyss affectionately known to me as my summer, I’ve finally been able to sit back, reflect and collect my thoughts on a number of events that have transpired in the sports and entertainment industry.
It’s great to be pleasantly surprised.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to cover the launch of the new CFL season. For those less inclined, and not aware of one of the oldest professional football league in North America, that acronym refers to the Canadian Football League.
Thank God for the Internet. It gives the average Joe a platform from which they can throw some words together in somewhat of a structured format to belittle, berate and bemuse the average professional athlete. Having been a former pro athlete myself, I tend to write from a different lens. But, through my lens I’m able to see the greatness and the beauty that is NBA basketball.
Having been thrust full-throttle into this year’s first round of the NBA playoffs, it has become apparent that the youth movement has manifested itself in full-blossomed effect. The names of yesteryear are still under-whelmingly active and present, however a new breed of hungry superstars has hastily threatened to stake their claim as contenders to the proverbial throne.
It’s almost sacrilegious, with half a dozen “The Grant Slant” column submissions written to my credit for Urbanology, I have managed to, for the most part, spend little to no time discussing Canada’s most successful hip-hop export. I’m talking about none other than Aubrey Graham, affectionately known as Drake. It’s not that there has been a lack of relevant subject matter to discuss surrounding Drake, however given the recent successes of the Toronto Raptors; I would be remised not to give some attention to the anointed Raptors’ brand ambassador.