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Why A$AP Rocky’s Next Album Is Primed To Be A Classic

Originally posted on UPROXX:

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Upon the release of At.Long.Last.A$AP, A$AP Rocky has still not made a career-defining classic… but he’s knocking on the door.

A.L.L.A is a nod to A$AP’s original form; after bringing in Drake and Skrillex for his debut album, Long.Live.A$AP, Rocky has gone back to the hazy, atmospheric roots that separated him from the overdone sound of other boom-bap New York rappers on his Live.Love.A$AP mixtape.

Like his previous projects, A$AP teams with producer Clams Casino for the bulk of the new album’s production, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t take risks throughout the project. From the dead-air pause in “Max B” to the beat switch in “Everyday,” Rocky never sits too far back in his comfort zone, even when he’s inhabiting the ambient soundscapes that caught our attention in the first place. The album is laced with unpredictability; any aspect of a song is prone to change at any moment.

Still, what makes…

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Why To Pimp a Butterfly is So Good

None of us will be perfect. No matter how much we work toward perfection, we will never achieve it. Whether you’re a lawyer, a gangster, white, black, purple or blue, its impossible. We will always be flawed humans, which begs the question: Why bother?

In To Pimp a Butterfly, Kendrick asks: “Because why not?”

We can spend a lifetime doing incredible things and barely move the needle of humanity progress. Even Kendrick Lamar, one of the most influential artists of his time, isn’t going to stop any wars or pass any bills with some beats and rhymes. But he, like any great musician, can save a kid’s self-destructive perspective on life. He can help someone get through a tough time. He can make someone’s commute shorter or give an outlet from a broken home.

In the grand scheme of things, its a ton of work for essentially no reward. But its worth trying, dammit.

“But iono, I’m not Mortal Man. Maybe I’m just another ni**a.”

Kendrick says, at the essential conclusion one of the best albums of the decade. Well over an hour of beats and rhymes that question our everything from his decision to skype his dying friend to Killer Mike’s underrated popularity, all he has to say for himself is “I’m just some guy.”

What makes Lamar different, however, is how conscious he is of his creative beast—his butterfly. As he beautifully summarizes to Tupac:

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The butterfly is caterpillar are separated in how they respond to Lucy (Lucifer). The bulk of TPAB, starting with Wesley’s Theory (referring to Snipes, who succumbed to Lucy), depicts Kendrick’s personal battle with Lucy.

This album, also laced with incredible bars and doused in daring, 70-funk production that would scare most any other artist away, attacks themes and topics from a perspective never really taken from an artist of this prominence—which, to me, makes it one of the best pieces of music made in our generation.

Where is Alf? ¯¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My contract with Bleacher Report will end at the end of this month, as it has every year since in 2011. This time, however, it will not be renewed. I don’t have much of an explanation for you other than B/R is going in another direction with their NFL coverage, which is completely in their right to do.

I would be lying if I said I was totally cool with this, but by the same token, its somewhat of a relief. Since I graduated college and entered the shitty adult world (sorry youngins, enjoy it while it lasts), keeping up the dream of writing about sports for a living, while, you know, making an actual living took a lot of sacrifice. I worked a job where I commuted about 4 hours a day, worked 9 (nights), wrote for 3 or 4 (or more), did some bullshit workout to not get fat and filled in the space with sleep. My days began to build around how I was going to balance getting my writing done that day without falling asleep mid-paragraph.

I developed a bad relationship with a game I used to love. Football got me through some tough times as a youngin. It was becoming a burden through no one’s fault but my own.

I thought I was losing my fanhood because I was becoming more analytical, but it wasn’t just the Jets I didn’t care about. NFL Sundays were becoming a chore, and not because I had to write—just watching the games became work.

It hit me that my relationship with football was changing when I was watching/blogging Jets/Ravens with my brother in 2013. Ed Reed (of course) watched a ball sail over his head to further embarrass the Jets; all I was worried about was the time of the touchdown so I could update it on my blog, completely emotionless as to what had happened.

“You just really don’t give a shit anymore, do you?” My brother asked.

He was right. A younger version of me would have his head buried in a pillow (just as a younger version of Reed would have never let such a thing happen, but that’s another topic).

I was compensated fairly for the work I did put in, but money was just a byproduct of why I put myself through this season after season. I definitely gave a shit—about the product I was putting out every day. Every article with my name on it was my best possible work. I just didn’t give a shit about what makes the NFL so fun.

For most people, football is an escape. For me, it was just a second job—which is the last thing I wanted it to be. I wanted to do something I loved so I would never have to work, not work so much I never got to do anything I loved. Taking out a tough day at work by going into detail about how terrible Stephen Hills’ releases are off the line of scrimmage is not an ideal stress reliever.

So, that’s why I have been keeping away from twitter, taking a step back to re-evaluate what I really want out of this. I’m not sure what the future holds for my writing career, but I do know I still want to write – its a form of communication where, I, a stutterer, am on an equal playing field as everyone else. I have to write.

Eventually I will likely pursue other writing opportunities and return to heat up the TLs with #takes on the reg, but I will probably take the next few weeks to step away from the game. If you’ve followed/read/RTd/favorited/sent me hate mail/made fun of my Revis #lust, thank you – you guys helped keep me going more than you think. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity B/R gave me as a nearly-broke college kid and to have kept me around for as long as they have.

To the next chapter.

Alf

Column: The Rise and Fall of Tim Tebow

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I wrote this piece for B/R a few weeks ago. It details how Tebow got to where he is today, from his miraculous birth to being on the back pages of New York tabloids.

I have never been a fan of the attention Tebow gets, but I enjoyed spelling out the complex story of who was the most popular man in American sports.

Click here to give it a read.