Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hip Hop and LeBron

Barbara and I usually attempt to see the movies each year that receive Oscar nominations for Best Picture along with at least some of the ones with actors/actresses who are nominated. One of those that we did not get around to this past year was Blood Diamond. A few days ago Taylor rented it, and he and I watched it one night. There were a few themes that ran through the movie - the self-centered mercenary who in the end sacrificed himself for a friend; the father desperate to reunite and save his family; the oppressive violence wielded by the parties in power; the desperation of African refugees trying to escape unthinkable violence and violation.

But the thing that caught my attention more than anything was the Hip-Hop music that was constantly present among among the young men and boys who were taken from there families, and forced to either become soldiers or die a torturous death. Through the course of the movie they transformed into the same violent bullies that they had been abducted by, and a constant in almost all of their scenes was loud Hip-Hop music.

I have fairly eclectic tastes in the music that I enjoy listening to, but have to admit that from a personal enjoyment perspective, Hip-Hop is just not real high on my list. And I have a real problem with the violence and degradation towards women and others that exists in some of the gangsta lyrics. But, I also have an admiration for the art form, and even more so after reading this article in National Geographic that Larry James referenced in a recent post.

My initial assumption while watching the movie was that the Hip-Hop had been imported from America, but realize after reading the article that the music may have been locally produced. It is a style that is pervasive around the world, and is a language of a culture or cultures that I might understand better if I didn't automatically tune it out.


As I write this I am witnessing one of the most incredible individual performances in NBA playoff history. LeBron James received quite a bit of criticism for not making a spectacular play at the end of both games 1 and 2 of the series between Cleveland and Detroit. Detroit won both of those games by 2 points, and in both games, LeBron had a final opportunity to score but did not. Tonight he has just taken the ball forcefully and definitively to the hole for dunks twice within the last 40 seconds of the game and has gotten his team to overtime. He has scored all of his teams points through the first overtime period and is carrying them through the second as well....

He just took the ball to the hole again for a layup with 2 seconds left to win game five for the Cavaliers. Nearly fifty points for the night, including the last 25 points consecutively for his team, as he willed them to a win. I don't believe that even his will and talent will be enough to overcome San Antonio in the finals, but tonight was a performance that will not be soon forgotten.

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