The Review of People Under The Stairs’ “Sincerely, The P”

The album “Sincerely, The P” by People Under The Stairs does exactly what it intended and give themselves a proper send-off into retirement.  The group announced before the release of the album that this will be their last and when you listen to “Sincerely, P” that feeling really resonates through the entire record.  The group started in 1996 and they take the listener to on a trip down memory lane and gives the world a very fond and thankful farewell.

The two-man group People Under The Stairs consists of Thes One (Christopher Portugal) and Double K (Michael Turner) that MC and produce the entire album.  The lyrics on the album let people in on where the group has been during their career but also lets the listener in on who they are as people.  Tracks like “The Redeemer” and “Here, for a Good Time” among others give a feeling of nostalgia that gives the audience a sense of peace, knowing that the group is retiring and in a good place.  Overall the lyrics are a wonderful balance of good-bye and braggadocios about how prolific People Under The Stairs think they are at the craft of making music.  When realizing that the group grew up in the Los Angeles hip-hop scene in the early to mid-’90s where acts like The Pharcyde and Jurassic-5 came up the lyrical flow and subject matter make even more sense.

The production of the “Sincerely, P” evokes an even bigger sense of nostalgia when listening to it.  People Under The Stairs embrace a backpack style production that thrives on loops and record scratching that is at the heart of early days of hip-hop.  The track “Hard” feels like a homage to Eric B and Rakim and gives the audience sentimentality towards not just the art form but the artists’ own lives and careers.  Even the loop samples have this pervasive feeling throughout the album as the songs like “Reach Out” samples Andre 3000’s vocal hook from “Ms. Jackson” to the theme from the show “Family Ties” on the song that shares its name.  The only real problem with the production of the album, in general, is that too many songs end with extended instrumentals that go on too long.  This isn’t to say that the musical production is bad quite the opposite but when in excess of ten minutes of the 56-minute album is instrumental fade out it does get tiresome.

Lovers of “old-school” hip-hop will thoroughly enjoy this record and should definitely give People Under The Stairs a deep dive since “Sincerely, The P” is a wonderful introduction to the group to people that never heard of the group.  That is what makes the album kinda genius as long-time fans will feel the group’s good-bye and know that they are in a good place but new listeners get a snapshot of who they are and what they are about.  The gift and the curse of being an underground group are that they never had anyone watch over them.  People Under The Stairs convey the message of who they are brilliantly but they just need an editor.

Source: https://www.genius.com

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The Review of Future’s “Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD

Sparky dives into Future’s new album for The Combine

The new Future album “Future Hndrxx Presents: The WIZRD” or as I will shorten for the rest of the review “The Wizrd” is a very mixed bag.   “The Wizrd” is also the twelfth album or mixtape that Future has put out since 2012 and that does include Future’s collaborative efforts.  This record definitely has some highs and some lows but when an artist chooses to produce this much material in such a short span of time there will be some hits and misses.

The lyrics on “The Wizrd” are not the most interesting part of this album.  For the most part, Future’s topics are wealth, material possessions, crime and having less than healthy relationships with female partners.  That’s fine but with the album having twenty tracks and running at over an hour the record sometimes becomes taxing to listen to in its entirety.  There is also some guest appearances on “The Wizrd” as well with Gunna & Young Thug on the track “Unicorn Purp”.  Also, Travis Scott is featured on the track “First Off”.  The features do very little to enhance the tracks that they are on as the artists feel uninspired. It feels more like they are there to just kinda help out a little similar to that friend that helps you move but only carries the light boxes.

The delivery of the lyrics on “The Wizrd” is better than it has been in the past for Future where he is more decipherable than normal but still mumbles more often than not.  This creates a listening experience where instead of trying to discover interesting wordplay and expressive language you are reading lyrics just to make heads or tails of what is being said.  That’s fine for some but personally, it leads to a less than enjoyable experience.  Also on “The Wizrd” Future uses less autotune than normal but at times when it is used the effects that are added to the vocals make the lyrics even less intelligible.

The production on “The Wizrd” is the more interesting part.  Most trap records have oversimplified beats that lack many nuances but here that isn’t the case.  Many of the tracks layer the percussion to interesting places where the loops seem to cascade into one another and make the listening experience richer than standard trap music.  Also, the tempos can sometimes change very abruptly during a song that not just flows with the lyrics but makes them feel more vibrant like in the track “F & N”.  Besides the tempo changes, there are times on “The Wizrd” where the beat completely drops off and lets Future shine or adds spacey ambient parts to the beats as well to enhance songs which added a nice variety to the production as well.

For fans of Future or trap music, in general, “The Wizrd” isn’t a bad record and probably sounds great in a car as well.  If you don’t enjoy “mumble rap” run from this record as the lyrical delivery will become extremely tiresome.  I personally don’t have a strong feeling either way for this album but I could see myself if Future ever released just an instrumental version of this album adding some of the tracks to my writing playlist but that rarely happens for trap albums so I doubt I will voluntarily listen to any of the tracks off of “The Wizrd” ever again.

 

Source:  https://www.genius.com

Where Does Markelle Fultz Go From Here?

The Philadelphia 76ers have officially moved on from their former number-one pick and it might be exactly what Markelle Fultz needed.

When the Philadelphia 76ers traded Markelle Fultz Thursday afternoon it didn’t come as a surprise. Philly’s moves to acquire Jimmy Butler earlier in the season and Tobias Harris at the trade deadline signify that they are all-in on the present. Fultz, the player the Sixers traded up to draft at number one less than two years ago, was supposed to be a huge part of Philly’s future, but as of Thursday the organization’s future plans no longer include the former number-one pick. After a tenure with the 76ers that was borderline bizarre, sometimes heartbreaking, and always frustrating…where does Markelle Fultz go from here?

It’s easy to forget now, but Philly’s aggressive pursuit to move up in the 2017 draft in order to select Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington was almost universally applauded at the time. This was a Sixers team that was knee deep in “The Process” and Fultz was viewed as a great fit with Philly’s young duo of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Ironically, one of the main reasons the Sixers felt comfortable pairing Fultz with the jump shot-less Simmons in their backcourt of the future was Fultz’s ability to shoot from outside. He shot just over 41% from behind the 3-point line in college…add in great size for a point guard (6’4″) with lightning-fast speed and it’s easy to see why Fultz was the consensus top pick of the 2017 NBA draft.

The future looked bright for Fultz and the Sixers, but then the unfathomable happened…at some point between the 2017 NBA summer league and the start of training camp, THE NUMBER ONE PICK OF THE DRAFT FORGOT HOW TO SHOOT. ‘Forgot’ might not be the right word to use here, because no one really knows what the right word is. There have been tons of draft busts over the years, but that label doesn’t quite fit Fultz, as his saga is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. There have been thousands of words already typed on this subject, so I’ll spare you a deep dive, but whether due to injury, psychology, or a combination of both…Fultz was no longer able to shoot a jump shot when his rookie campaign kicked off. Numerous doctor visits and sessions with shooting coaches followed. This is the point where it becomes really easy to sympathize with Markelle Fultz, a then 19-year-old kid with the expectations of an entire city and organization on his shoulders, who is suddenly unable to do the one thing he’s been great at his whole life.

While Fultz toiled on the Philly bench during the 2017-18 season, teammates Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons proved themselves to be the real deal. The duo was much better, much faster than anyone truly anticipated, leading the Sixers to 52 wins in the regular season. Philly then knocked out Miami in the first-round of the NBA Playoffs and the team that was all about “The Process” was suddenly about “The Present”. This was all accomplished without Fultz, who appeared in just 14 games as a rookie. After an offseason filled with glimmers of hope and shaky iPhone videos of Fultz’s jumpshot, the Sixers tried to work him into the rotation at the beginning of this season, but it quickly became clear that Fultz still wasn’t the player that the Sixers drafted.

So, after just 20 months and 33 games played, the former no. 1 pick is now a former Philadelphia 76er. Just before this past Thanksgiving, Fultz played his last game for the Sixers and received a new medical diagnosis of thoracic outlet syndrome shortly thereafter. The acquisition of Jimmy Butler earlier this season signaled that Philly was accelerating their championship timetable and the Tobias Harris trade earlier this week kicked it into hyper drive. Fultz and his issues were no longer a luxury the organization could afford and the Sixers sent him to Orlando for Jonathon Simmons and two draft picks. The move killed two birds with one stone for Philly, creating the financial room to attempt to retain both Harris and Butler after this season, while also washing their hands of the scrutiny the Fultz situation brought.

Orlando is a beautiful city, but it’s the closest thing the NBA has to Siberia. It also might be exactly what Markelle Fultz needs right now. He can rehab and work on his game with little media scrutiny in Orlando. He also won’t be carrying the hopes and dreams of a franchise on his shoulders. The Magic are in perma-rebuild mode and it’s the perfect situation for Fulz. It’s easy to forget that this kid is still just 20-years-old. His short time in Philly wasn’t without brief glimpses of his elite talent. In his rookie season he became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double at just 19-years-old and he did it without being able to shoot a jumper! Things might never improve for him in Orlando, the place where talent goes to be forgotten about, but maybe being forgotten about for a little while is just what Markelle Fultz needs.

 

 

 

 

Five Things: Super Bowl LIII

Joe Nicely discusses his ‘Five Things’ for Super Bowl LIII

Welcome to the Super Bowl LIII edition of Five Things! You can probably guess from the title that I’m going to discuss five things worth keeping an eye on during Sunday’s big game. The wait for the Super Bowl has been long enough, so let’s dive in!

 

1. Bill Belichick’s Genius vs. Sean McVay’s Genius

What we’ve got ourselves here is a real “genius off” between these two coaches. There’s a definite Darth Vader (Belichick) vs. Luke Skywalker (McVay) vibe going on with these two football Jedi masters. Belichick is 66-years-old and has won five Super Bowls as the head coach of the Patriots, while McVay is only 33 and appearing in his first Super Bowl in just his second season as the Rams head coach. There’s a real “circle of life” feel to this matchup and it’s absolutely perfect. Belichick is the old grizzled veteran trying to win one last championship (though he’d probably tell you he’s nowhere close to finished) and McVay is the insultingly young prodigy that’s trying to prove that he’s ready to take his rightful place as the best. Belichick is a defensive genius, McVay is an offensive genius…it’s all straight from a Hollywood script.

 

2. Tom Brady vs. Aaron Donald & Ndamukong Suh

Speaking of Hollywood, let’s talk about the QB that looks like he walked straight out of central casting. Tom Brady has already cemented his legacy as one of, if not the best, quarterback of all time. Brady will face one his biggest Super Bowl challenges yet in the form of L.A.’s menacing duo; Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh. Donald is the most dominant defensive player in the NFL, he logged 20.5 sacks this season and wreaks havoc on opposing offenses. We know that Bill Belichick is terrific at scheming an opposing team’s best player out of the game…enter Ndamukong Suh. Once considered “the next great defensive linemen”, Suh has gradually turned into a mercenary, that’s really good instead of great, and willing to play for the highest bidder from year-to-year. If Belichick takes one of these guys out of the game, Brady will still have his hands full with the other one.

 

3. Maroon 5 vs. Cultural Backlash

We are in an age where who isn’t doing the Super Bowl halftime show is cause for an uproar*. The performance has somehow turned into a referendum on who does or doesn’t support Colin Kaepernick’s case against the NFL**. In this current political and cultural climate that is so highly influenced by race, the NFL made the absolutely tone-deaf decision to hire perhaps the whitest band ever to perform the halftime show…in Atlanta, the hip-hop capital of the south. So now we have a Maroon 5 backlash brewing, which is a really strange sentence to type when talking about an extremely inoffensive rock band. Adam Levine seems like a decent dude (especially for a celebrity) and probably just wanted to play the Super Bowl because Prince did it once. Should the NFL have went a different direction on the halftime show? Probably. Is it something to get all worked up about? Hell no!

*Give me a fuckin’ break.

**Seriously…give me a fuckin’ break.

 

4. Todd Gurley vs. C.J. Anderson

Yeah, I’m aware that Gurley and Anderson are on the same team, but this is one of the most fascinating situations that I’ve seen in a long time. Gurley was arguably the MVP of the league this year. The dude ran for 1,251 yard, logged 59 catches for 580 yards, and scored 21 touchdowns…a pretty nice little season. During the course of the year, Gurley understandably got nicked up and was rested by the Rams for the last two games of the regular season. L.A. signed free agent RB C.J. Anderson off the street and he’s been a revelation. The human Teddy Ruxpin racked up 297 yards rushing and 2 TDs while filling in for Gurley in the Rams last two regular season games and a funny thing happened on the way to the Super Bowl…the Rams have basically stuck with Anderson over their franchise player. The castaway back has outsnapped, and frankly, outplayed the MVP candidate in the playoffs and it’s not been particularly close: Anderson has 39 carries to Gurley’s 20. The interesting question is will Sean McVay be willing to continue riding Anderson and keep Gurley off the field in the biggest game of the year?

 

5. Tony Romo’s First Super Bowl

With the NFL’s broadcast partners rotating the Super Bowl from year to year, who’s calling the game is usually a minor story. This year is a little different, as we are in the midst of “Romo-Mania”. The former Cowboys QB gave the best playoff performance of his career (on or off the field) in the AFC Championship game. Romo’s enthusiasm for the KC vs. NE game was infectious and he was up to his old “calling out plays before they are ran” tricks. While a cardboard cutout would have been an upgrade over Phil Simms (Well Jeeemmm), Romo has massively exceeded anyone’s expectations. He’s been so sharp when it comes to playcalling, that there are whispers that teams have legitimate interest in him as a coach or coordinator. With Romo’s CBS contract up soon, the popular ex-QB appears to be in a position to command John Madden-type money and a great Super Bowl performance will cement his place as the best in the booth going forward.

FanDuel NBA DFS 2/1/19 Value Plays

@TheCombineJosh gives his best value plays for the day

There are 5 games on the NBA DFS main slate for Friday, February 1st and here are The Combine Presidente’s value picks for the day.  I typically play one or two lineups per night on FanDuel for fun and you can check my results from the previous night at the bottom of the article.  Follow @TheCombineSports and @TheCombineJosh on Twitter for updated information.

Value Plays:

PG Kadeem Allen ($3500)

  • Who? … the only PG really on the roster for NYK tonight. Follow me on twitter for where I’m putting those extra dollars tonight.
  • Bonus Pick : Jeremy Lin ($3900)

SG Allonzo Trier ($4000)

  • This is a lock for most people tonight with the trade going through and none of the new players suiting up tonight.  It should be an easy 6-7x tonight.

SF Kevin Knox ($5000)

  • Knox should have a heavy workload offensively tonight with no Burke and Courtney Lee on the roster.
  • Bonus Pick : Mario Hezonja ($4400)

PF John Collins ($7200)

  • The guy hasn’t been under $8k since early December… at $7200, he is a MUST START in my opinion.

C Nikola Jokic ($11,500)

  • Weird to have the most expensive C as my “value”, but I think he wrecks the boards vs an undersized C in Faried.
  • Bonus Pick : If you want to spend elsewhere, go Aron Baynes tonight ($3500)

 

Presidente’s Lock of the Night:

PF John Collins ($7200)

 

Previous Night’s Results:

PG Darren Collison ($6600)

  • 36.8 FD Points (5.6x)

SG Klay Thompson ($6900)

  • DNP – Scratch

SF DeMarre Carroll ($4600)

  • 26 FD Points (5.7x)

PF Aaron Gordon ($7200) * My lock of the night

  • 15.1 FD Points (2.1x)

C DeMarcus Cousins ($7500)

  • 32.2 FD Points (4.3x)

Bonus pick: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($4600)

  • 22.9 FD Points (5x)

Bonus pick: Wilson Chandler ($4000)

  • 15.9 FD Points (4x)

Bonus pick: Martin Gortat tonight ($3500)

  • 13.8 FD Points (3.9x)

FanDuel NBA DFS 1/31/19 Value Plays

@TheCombineJosh gives his best value plays for the day

There are 6 games on the NBA DFS main slate for Thursday, January 31st and here are The Combine Presidente’s value picks for the day.  I typically play one or two lineups per night on FanDuel for fun and you can check my results from the previous night at the bottom of the article.  Follow @TheCombineSports and @TheCombineJosh on Twitter for updated information.

Value Plays:

PG Darren Collison ($6600)

  • Collison fucked over me last night, so I will let him try and redeem himself tonight
  • Bonus Pick : Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($4600)

SG Klay Thompson ($6900)

  • It is going to be a very high scoring game tonight and I think Klay could pop off for 40-50 FD points tonight.

SF DeMarre Carroll ($4600)

  • Carroll has quietly been putting up a solid 5x/night lately and should continue to see minutes with the injuries to BKN. Follow me on twitter for where I’m putting those extra dollars tonight.
  • Bonus Pick : Wilson Chandler ($4000)

PF Aaron Gordon ($7200)

  • The guy has been over 5.5x/game over his last 3 and I don’t see that stopping vs IND tonight.  Not the cheapest, but a safe play for standard games.

C DeMarcus Cousins ($7500)

  • Not a ton of value tonight at C, but Cousins got 25 mins last game and will be on 3 days rest.  Embiid isn’t 100% and Cousins should score well in a game with a 240 O/U.
  • Bonus Pick : If you want to spend elsewhere, go Martin Gortat tonight ($3500)

 

Presidente’s Lock of the Night:

PF Aaron Gordon ($7200)

 

Previous Night’s Results:

PG Darren Collison ($6500)

  • 9.4 FD Points (1.4x)

SG Jaylen Brown ($4700)

  • 40 FD Points (8.5x)

SF Jabari Parker ($4000)

  • 1.4 FD Points (0.3x)

PF Paul Millsap ($5000) * My lock of the night

  • 30.6 FD Points (6.1x)

C Myles Turner ($7300)

  • 21.7 FD Points (3x)

Bonus pick: De’Aaron Fox ($7800) *I suggested on twitter 

  • 24.3 FD Points (3.1x)

Bonus pick: Dewayne Dedmon ($6300)

  • 21.3 FD Points (3.4x)

FanDuel NBA DFS 1/30/19 Value Plays

@TheCombineJosh gives his best value plays for the day

There are 8 games on the NBA DFS main slate for Wednesday, January 30th and here are The Combine Presidente’s value picks for the day.  I typically play one or two lineups per night on FanDuel for fun and you can check my results from the previous night at the bottom of the article.  Follow @TheCombineSports and @TheCombineJosh on Twitter for updated information.

Value Plays:

PG Darren Collison ($6500)

  • Collison is seeing extra minutes due to injuries and he has been a 5x+ player in 7 of his last 10 contests.
  • Bonus Pick : I’m all in on De’Aaron Fox tonight ($7800)

SG Jaylen Brown ($4700)

  • I see him getting solid minutes vs CHA tonight and the potential is always there for a big game.  I like him for 6x tonight.

SF Jabari Parker ($4000)

  • With the injuries to Carter and Hutchinson, he will see some extra minutes and hopefully contribute a solid 6x+ tonight for cheap. Follow me on twitter for where I’m putting those extra dollars tonight.

PF Paul Millsap ($5000)

  • I have to imagine Milsap vs a depleted NO frontcourt results in a solid 6x night at minimum.

C Myles Turner ($7300)

  • Turner has been hovering around an average of 5x over his last 4 games and WAS is a weak team right now.  Not a ton of value tonight at C.
  • Bonus Pick : If you want to spend elsewhere, go Dewayne Dedmon tonight ($6300)

 

Presidente’s Lock of the Night:

PF Paul Millsap ($5000)

 

Previous Night’s Results:

PG Shabazz Napier ($5100)

  • 41.6 FD Points (8.2x)

SG Luke Kennard ($3700) 

  • 27.4 FD Points (7.4x)

SF Michael Beasley ($4200) * My lock of the night

  • 12 FD Points (2.9x)

PF Richaun Holmes ($5000)

  • 24.3 FD Points (4.9x)

C Jahlil Okafor ($7200)

  • 46.4 FD Points (6.4x)

Bonus pick: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($4400) *I suggested on twitter 

  • 22.8 FD Points (5.2x)