Things change, develop, and evolve. Look at humans. Nothing stays the same. Movies used to be shot on film in standard definition, and now they’re filmed digitally in 4K High Definition. As time goes by, the quality raises. It’s true for video resolution, and it’s true for athletic skills and for rap technical skills. Which leads me to what we’re here talking about right now. Basketball players are better now than they were in the 80’s and rappers are better now than they were in the 90’s.
I know what you’re thinking, Jordan “Mr. International” Paladino, what about Michael Jordan or Rakim? To which I respond: Malcolm Gladwell. There’s always going to be things from the past that supersede the present. Rakim is better than Chedda Da Connect (but I’ll be damned if “Flicka Da Wrist” isn’t more fun than “Microphone Fiend”). Yes Michael Jordan is better than Brandon Jennings. That’s irrelevant–just as much as you can’t compare LeBron James to Ozell Jones (some random player on the 1986 Los Angeles Clippers). The real meat and potatoes of the NBA in the aughts is performed at a higher level than in the 80’s and 90’s. The average rapper selling mix-tapes on Atlantic Avenue is better than Moozaliny, AKA “Big Syke” AKA “Little Psycho”.
If you think about it, there’s as much to admire about Magic Johnson as there is about Dwyane Wade. You can love A Tribe Called Quest and think Chance The Rapper is amazing. Dwyane Wade, through modern technology and human evolution, is arguably more athletically gifted than Magic Johnson, and as far as overall technical proficiency (flows, rhyming capacity, vocal capabilities, etc.) Chance The Rapper is better at rapitty rapping than Phife Dawg or Q Tip. Magic, Phife, and Tip are all legends and were great at what they did (you can call them the best ever), and to deny their skills is shortsighted. It’s reverse Matthew McConaughey in Dazed And Confused. We get older and they get younger. In 20 years some kid who is being born right now will have five NBA MVPs and I’ll be the old guy complaining about how Vince Carter could beat any of these dudes in one-on-one (I look forward to that day too).
I understand the unwillingness to let a shift happen. LeBron James is my favorite basketball player of all time, and over the last few years seeing Kawhi Leonard and Wardell “Steph” Curry II, the unanimous MVP, win NBA Finals over LeBron was tough to watch. I remember thinking to myself, Is this the end of LeBron James?
What am I supposed to do, have a new all time favorite player? Then it hit me that it doesn’t really even matter. When LeBron lost to Dallas in 2011, being only defined by careers of Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan or Julius Erving didn’t make sense. LeBron shouldn’t be devalued because some guys 30 years ago won more championships.
In the 1980’s, the concept of a stretch 5 was unheard of, but it almost seems weird to think of teams drafting multiple 7-footers to dominate the paint and start a dynasty. In the 80’s, hardly anyone rapped in multi-syllabic rhymes, or did triplet or double time flows. Young Thug raps more on “Digits” off 2016’s excellent Slime Season 3 mix-tape than Big Daddy Kane did his whole career. Has AZ ever recorded anything without Nas?
My question to you Generation X-ers out there is why do I have to accept to that Illmatic is a classic and y’all can’t give Barter 6 by Young Thug ANY love? Who cares if its different? Different is the status quo. It’s boring when things don’t change, that’s why no one is buying anything Lil Wayne puts out anymore. Would you really want to watch a team play basketball like the Detroit Pistons of the late 80’s? Or do you want to see what we’re all hoping the 2016-2017 Golden State Warriors will play like? I think ball movement, five shooters, with a 6’7” center and a 6’11” power forward is pretty exciting stuff.
Again, people who are just developing an eye for basketball, or an ear for rap music, are allowed to like Method Man just as much as Future. That doesn’t make them stupid or less knowledgeable. Future has melodies for days and Method Man’s catchiest chorus is basically a kindergarten spelling lesson . If I need to get off your lawn, then you need to get out of my dive bar.
Jordan Paladino is a Portland comedian, internet troll, rapper, and writer for the show “Who’s the Ross?” He is a staunch defender of all things Lebron James, Drake, and Kanye West. He is also a KD hater. We try not to hold these things against him.