Remember The Times: What Was the First Album That You Owned?

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My mother’s younger brother introduced me to rap music when I was about 7 years old. It was roughly 1983. He’d come around with cassette tapes filled with various songs from whoever the hell these people were, and almost immediately, I was in love. This was the most beautiful combination of sounds I’d ever heard, and that’s coming from a man who was born in the late 70s, raised in a house where Black soul music pumped continuously. Continually. So much so that my father swiftly traded in his affinity for 70s funk and disco music for a genuine love of rap in the early 1980s. His love of Hip Hop hit him at the same time as mine.

His Earth, Wind, and Fire, Chaka Khan, and Stevie Wonder albums were (sorta) replaced by Whodini, Run DMC, LL Cool J, and EPMD tapes. Some years later, we’d bump DJ QUIK and CMW when he would drop me off at and pick me up from school. For some reason, he never listened to NWA with me, even though he took me to cop all my music back then. Before I started catching the bus everywhere. Nevertheless, for a scant moment in my personal history, my father and I listened to the same music.

Like most budding Hip Hop babies, I acquired a vast collection of loose songs by making my own mixtapes and stealing the ones my uncle had in his car. Between that, subscriptions to Word Up! And Right On! magazines and Friday nights on KDAY, I was always up-to-date on the newest rap songs. But I didn’t have any albums or tapes of my own, because all my allowance went to 7-11. The video game arcade and nachos laid claim to my weekly $20 pittance long before payday Friday hit.

All that changed in 1987.

I don’t remember a lot of shit in my life. If it wasn’t for my wife reminding me about stuff and photo albums and smartphone galleries and conditioned stimulus, I’d barely have any mental footprints of my journey at all. But one memory that will never be wiped is when I got Eric B & Rakim’s Paid In Full for Christmas in 1987. I also got a Sony Walkman that didn’t have a rewind function, so when I wanted to run a joint back I had to pop the machine open, flip the tape, blindly fast forward, flip the tape back over, and hope I was reasonably close to my intended target. So what; I didn’t care about that trivial crap. I finally owned a rap album. And more importantly, I had plenty of shit to talk when school started, after winter vacation. Nobody else’s dad was as cool as mine, so I knew none of those guys would be getting rap cassettes for Christmas. I listened to it all night. Literally.

I can’t tell you what else was under the tree for me that year, and honestly, it failed in comparison to the importance of these two gifts.

Now it’s your turn. What was the first album or cassette or CD that you owned?

Words by Tony Grands
@Tony_Grands

Questions, Comments, Concerns, or Contributions? Hit us up. tgdcmailbox@gmail.com

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Roundtable Wednesday: Ice Cube Vs LL Cool J – Who Wins?

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In terms of music, one could conceivably hold Ice Cube and LL Cool J on the same level. Each blazed a trail different than their contemporaries, both worked to isolate themselves as artists of creative expression long before it was popular to do so, and both men forged a path that many young rap guys follow today. Cool J made it cool to be sexy, giving rap its first hit love song in 1987. Conversely, around the same time on the other side of the country, Ice Cube and company were inadvertently creating a new style of rap, gangsta rap, which would go on to arguably become the most popular genre of music ever.

In regards to post-rap music careers, Cube graduated from in-front-of-the-lens performer to behind the scenes executive while most rappers were still trying to figure out what to call the liquor brand. LL is no slouch either, with dozens of television shows and movie credits bolstering his resumé. As of the last several years, Cool J has become the go-to host for various specials and awards shows, adding more value to his public estate. Each artist used Hip Hop as a springboard to further solidify his mark on entertainment history, and both men have come a long way.

The topic for today’s Roundtable Wednesday is simple: who do you think has had a better run so far, Ice Cube or LL Cool J? Not looking for the GOAT, just the winner.

Words by Tony Grands
@Tony_Grands

Questions, Comments, Concerns, or Contributions? Hit us up. tgdcmailbox@gmail.com

Manhood Mondays: 5 Types Of Chicks To Avoid While Sowing Your Wild Oats!

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As summer approaches and you’ve long broken up with all your girlfriends to further weigh your bachelored options, remember that there is more to this game than just knocking down pawns. (See what I did there?) You gotta be careful not to get entangled and ensnared in webs and nets that could otherwise be avoided.

Many men plunge to their eternal, slow-motion doom because they weren’t fully equipped or prepared when beginning the valiant mission of sowing their wild oats. They ambush life in search of fun and adventure and inadvertently get captured, living the remainder of their sloth-like existence in utter confusion. Don’t be like those men.

In an effort to save mankind from himself, we’ve presented a short list of women to avoid while attempting to sow your wild oats. Because there’s nothing worse than having your oats tamed against your will.

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Poor guy...


Mommy Dearest
The Mommy Dearest has no choice but to be everyone’s mother. She was unintentionally designed to be that way through thousands upon thousands of man-hours taking care of her dozen siblings. She never had much of a social life because she was too busy changing diapers, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, doing her homework, and holding down the household while mom worked. Or partied. Same difference. She’s been telling motherfuckers what to do for 3/4s of her life and I guarantee you’ll be treated no differently, my friend, regardless of how you “put it down” in the bedroom. It’s important to remember that she’s not bossy, she’s just used to being in charge. Nevertheless avoid her at all costs unless you really don’t mind a woman telling you what to do all the time. She’ll command you into a committed relationship before you can muster up the courage to talk back loud enough.

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A sports team worth of kids.


Sperm Bank
Even as being a professional babymomma seems to be going out of style (it may have something to do with the influx of openly gay relationships but that’s just a theory), there are still multitudes of women roaming free who don’t see anything wrong with having a bunch of kids by random guys. I’ve come to learn that these women aren’t even necessarily in it to profit from their offspring, they just don’t see nothing wrong with a little bump and grind resulting in going half on a baby. Avoid becoming a link in this chain of fuckery (unless you’re about that reality show life), or find yourself sitting at the Baby Daddy’s table at family functions, a situation that usually ends in fist-fighting. And the more babydaddies present, the greater the odds of you getting stabbed in the ribs with a spork and arrested for trespassing. Nah.

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Notice the pose. "Statue of Liberty."


Statue of Liberty
This strong-willed, self-motivated beacon of hope is the glowing leader of all the helpless and harmless women she blesses with her cosmic presence. She’s independent and stoic and doesn’t need a man for shit. Her masculine attitude gives her a gay-ish aura, but she seems interested in you for now, so take her sexuality at face value. You won’t be able to woo her with what you have, because not only does she have bigger and better, but she got it on her own and truly doesn’t need yours.

She may often talk about purchasing expensive concert tickets or what she does for her mom every Mother’s Day as examples of her unyielding power.

To survive, stay in your lane, or risk getting put out in traffic, so to speak. In fact, don’t even give her the impression that you need a ride. Just buckle up and be prepared to get dropped off whenever she realizes you can’t kick in on gas money.

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According to Google, this is a "sex fiend." Nothing personal, lady.


Sex Fiend
As young men, we often dream of the day when we find a young lady with an insatiable, never-ending sexual appetite. Little do we know then, wading in the bliss of youthful stupidity, that this is like playing with fire. Because you could actually get burnt,  but that’s neither here nor there. Nope, on second thought, that’s here. Definitely here.

True story: I got with a girl and later found out she’d had sex with at least 12-15 of my close associates at the time right before becoming my girl. Prior to knowing about her whoring around, I was mesmerized by the frequent, awesome, porn clip sex we had. Once I knew she was basically a freelance prostitute, her promiscuity made sense. She had a clinical problem and needed professional help and had I not barrel-rolled in time, I would’ve been another casualty. Fuck all that.

I’ve learned the higher the sex drive the more the need to investigate, and as long as you can keep that in mind, you’ll be fine, and hopefully, infection and unwanted baby-free.

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Bag Lady
Unlike the other examples, the bag lady has no uniform nor theme song nor distinguishing marks with which you can identify her by. The bag lady has strategically placed walls around her shit, internally AND externally, so it’s guarded from – and sometimes invisible to – the naked eye. There are not-so-obvious signs that she is carrying all her problems, woes, worries, and issues from the past in one gigantic proverbial sack, but those indicators vary from person to person. The easiest way to avoid volunteering to help a bag lady carry all her shit is by taking the time to see what’s what. Read the question before you start trying to figure out the answer, if that makes sense. Similar to the sex fiend, a high sex drive should serve as a red flag, just in case. Better safe than sorry.

Also, don’t drink and drive.

Words by Tony Grands
@Tony_Grands

Questions, Comments, Concerns, or Contributions? Hit us up. tgdcmailbox@gmail.com

Complex Lists The Best Rapper Alive, Annually, From 1979 To Today

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Complex.com is known for their attention-grabbing headlines and over-the-top content, but this is neither.

Compiled by numerous contributors, this list tackles the almighty question of which rapper is the best, and adds a little science. The ending result is a thorough breakdown of each year, complete with its champion and all the major players of honorable mention.

It’s a bit lengthy, but a recommended read for rap fiends and Hip Hop heads regardless of age. Shout outs to Ice Cube, Snoop Doggy, and Kendrick Lamar for holding the West coast down (Tupac is from New York). And for the sake of discussion, I’ve stripped the list down to its skeleton:

1979 Grandmaster Caz
1980 Kurtis Blow
1981 Kool Moe Dee
1982 Melle Mel
1983 Run
1984 Run
1985 LL Cool J
1986 KRS-ONE
1987 Rakim
1988 Slick Rick
1989 Big Daddy Kane
1990 Ice Cube
1991 Q-Tip
1992 Redman
1993 Snoop Doggy Dogg
1994 Nas
1995 Notorious B.I.G
1996 Tupac
1997 Notorious B.I.G
1998 DMX
1999 Jay Z
2000 Eminem
2001 Jay Z
2002 Eminem
2003 50 Cent
2004 T.I.
2005 Young Jeezy
2006 Lil Wayne
2007 Kanye West
2008 Lil Wayne
2009 Jay Z
2010 Kanye West
2011 Drake
2012 Drake
2013 Kendrick Lamar
2014 Guess who?

Words by Tony Grands
@Tony_Grands

Questions, Comments, Concerns, or Contributions? Hit us up. tgdcmailbox@gmail.com

Roundtable Wednesday: Who Was/Is The Most Influential Hip Hop Crew Of All Time?

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This is possibly the most debatable topic in Hip Hop, behind the ever-elusive search for the greatest MC of all time. Who was/is the most influential Hip Hop crew of all time? We each have our favorite crews in Hiphopdom and depending on the era of rap music that you call “home,” the choices could be considerable. However, it is still possible to pick one.

From the Juice Crew collective to Top Dawg entertainment to the Wu Tang clan to G-Unit, Hip Hop has always been wrangled and led by a particular ensemble at any given time, and the question is which one had the most influence in the Hip Hop culture, in your opinion?

For what it’s worth, a crew and a record label are generally the same thing, especially over the last 20 or so years.

What say you?

Words by Tony Grands
@Tony_Grands

Questions, Comments, Concerns, or Contributions? Hit us up. tgdcmailbox@gmail.com