Change Gonna Come
From Lil Wayne and Young Thug to Stephen Curry and Chris Paul generational battles continue in the booth and on the court alike
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. Usually the good are supposed to die young. To its credit, the NBA has been able to hold onto its ‘good ones’ for quite some time before they are excused from the circle of life in “the league”.
That hold is slowly loosening its grip, as a group of young upstarts such as Stephen Curry, James Harden, Kyrie Irving and Kawhi Leonard have forged their way into conversations about “who’s next?” from blogs to barbershops.
The same can be said for the foray of newcomer rap artists. Take Rapper Young Thug for example. He has etched his name boldly in the game with a repertoire that includes a confusing lyrical wordplay that leaves even the most avid trap music listeners scratching their heads, while also nodding along feverishly.
While Lil Wayne tries desperately to maintain his loyal fan base and relevance in the rap game, it is clear that finally, Mr. Carter has been challenged.
The newly signed Cash Money Records artist, Young Thug has gone so far as to cite Lil Wayne as his favourite artist, so much so that he tried to name his upcoming LP Carter 6.
Not surprisingly, this didn’t sit well with Tunechi, and Young Thug was given a cease and desist order from authorities.
While Lil Wayne tries desperately to maintain his loyal fan base and relevance in the rap game, it is clear that finally, Mr. Carter has been challenged. Some say it may be his final challenge before he gracefully (or not so gracefully) bows out of the rap game with a solid catalogue of hits dating back to the start of the new millennium.
Stepping back on the court, Steph Curry emerged onto the NBA scene a virtual unknown some years back and has developed into the most entertainingly skilled guard the league has seen since Allen Iverson.
His uncanny ability to shoot three-pointers like lay-ups and his AND1 mixtape-like dribbling skills have propelled him to the top of the list of would-be suitors of the next most valuable player award.
As we age, there’s always someone younger and more talented ready to take our place.
At one point, the guard we spoke of with such affection and gazed at with such awe was Chris Paul.
Let’s not get it twisted, CP3 is still at the top of his game, however his best days are clearly behind him despite his recent success in LA. A few hours away, in the Bay area of California, Curry honed his craft and snatched the title of best point guard in the league from Paul.
Don’t believe me? Ask CP3’s ankles, which have been repeatedly victimized when placed head to head with his younger counterpart, Curry.
The Streets Are Watching
Change is unavoidable. Change is good. It keeps us honest. It lets us know that the streets are watching, moreover it lets us know that our youth are watching. As we age, there’s always someone younger and more talented ready to take our place.
Lil Kim burst onto the scene in the mid-’90s with a brash, graphic style and hyper-sexualized lyrics and persona. She was co-signed by the Notorious B.I.G. and set the standard for a new regime of female rap artists that no longer cared about maintaining the conscious roots that the likes of Queen Latifah and MC Lyte had forged.
Kim, used X-rated lyrics, usually reserved for males, to sell records, and did so extremely well. Her eventual professional demise came amidst a lengthy jail sentence and crippling and inconceivable plastic surgery procedures.
Enter Nicki Minaj.
Nicki maneuvered her way through the mixtape circuit of the mid 2000s and catapulted herself to the top of the pop, R&B and hip-hop charts with her own brand of overtly sexualized lyrics coupled with an even more outlandish style than Brooklyn’s Lil Kim.
In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Kanye told us that on “Big Brother”.
The comparison became an obvious one, both artists shared similar styles and were both co-signed and mentored by the biggest names of their respective eras. For Kim it was B.I.G. and for Nicki it was Drake. The inevitability of a feud therein was imminent.
In order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Kanye told us that on “Big Brother”. Nicki plans to do just that as she attempts to eliminate any potential competition from the likes of the Queen Bee. Lyrics like, “B*tch talkin’ she the queen when she looking like lab rat,” from her single “Stupid Hoe”, make it clear that Nicki is no one to mess with.
Both the NBA and the hip-hop arenas have seen their share of battles of young gunners trying to take the fame and relevance of what the older heads are trying desperately to hold on to.
The Steph Curry versus Chris Paul has become an epic battle of young and older, and has ignited a once dormant and non-existent rivalry between Golden State and Los Angeles much to the delight of fans.
As such, the rivalry that has revealed itself within rap music with Tunechi/Young Thug and Lil Kim/Nicki Minaj has made many hip-hop purists wonder about the direction the genre is taking.
What everyone has to come to terms with is this, like it or not, change gonna come.
Check back every other Friday for the latest installment of The Grant Slant – a bi-weekly column exploring the intersection of sports and hip-hop.