The Roc

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When LeBron James was awarded his second NBA Finals MVP trophy shortly after winning his second NBA Championship last month, he celebrated by raising both his arms up high. With his palms open, some 10 feet off the ground and facing the world, James’ thumbs and index fingers joined. It’s a hand gesture he’s flashed on basketball’s big stages — NBA Finals, NBA All Star Game intros — for several years now. This gesture is known as “throwing the roc”, which is really just a hip way of saying someone is using their hands to make a diamond shape, which in turn represents Roc-A-Fella records, Jay-Z’s hip hop label (Damon Dash also a co-founder, so I wonder if Dame had as much to do with the Roc sign as Jay).

That James, the biggest and best athlete on earth, flashes this sign would be a bigger deal if Jay, his wife Beyonce, and his friend Kanye West — who all “throw the roc” with regularity — aren’t currently the biggest names in entertainment and completely dominating US pop culture, which, in turn, is the major driving force behind world pop culture.

The very first post of this blog wondered if Jay is the most famous figure in all of entertainment right now, given that dude is, literally, everywhere. Obviously he’s all over music and hip hop news, but he’s also producing films (scoring big budget blockbusters like Great Gatsby and producing/promoting small indie flicks like An Oversimplification of Her Beauty), running a sports agency, partly-owned an NBA team, produced the hottest selling sports video game, took part in the reelection campaign of the most famous world leader on earth, and is married to a pop diva who’s also everywhere herself and, judging from Twitter reactions following her concert in LA two nights ago, is the greatest performer ever.

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“Don’t Talk Like You’re One of Them, You’re Not”

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Yesterday, in the midst of a beautiful game of basketball between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat, Jay-Z, with the help of Samsung, revealed to the world a teaser of his upcoming album, Magna Carta Holy Grail.

That Jay and Samsung chose to drop the news during the NBA Finals — with Jay wearing a Brooklyn Nets cap with a prominent NBA logo — is telling, for hip hop and the NBA has always gone hand in hand.

It is worth noting, that at first glance, Jay’s promotion of his album is the complete opposite of Kanye West’s approach to his album, Yeezus. The latter hit store shelves with minimal promotion — only that random street broadcast and that SNL performance — while Jay has teamed up with a billion dollar corporation (a foreign one, at that) to push his album on the biggest stage (at least for his demographic), the NBA Finals.

Heck, that deal between Samsung and Jay practically turned Jay’s album platinum before release — Samsung reportedly purchased a million copies of Manga Carta at five bucks a pop, to be released to Samsung Galaxy users (eh, I’ll stick with my superior iPhone and just download that shit and purchase a hard copy later). For a self-proclaimed hustla, this was yet another hustle by Mr Carter.

But different approaches to marketing aside (or at least so they claim), are the two albums that different? I’m not talking about the way it sounds — I’m sure Jay won’t be doing his Marilyn Manson thing, and being married to Beyonce and all, has toned down the stupid misogyny — but is Yeezus and Magna Carta Holy Grail actually on the opposite end of the spectrum?

Much like the supposed differences between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs, I say no.

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Jackson. Tyson. Jordan. Game Six.

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I used to believe the most famous person on earth had to be a Hollywood icon, like Tom Cruise, or the US President, like Obama. But in recent weeks, I’ve started wondering if Jay-Z has taken the title, because dude is everywhere.

He’s all over my Twitter timeline, all day, everyday. And my Twitter follows, like my hobbies and interests, are diverse and all over the place: Films. Indie Music. NBA. Writing. Comics. Tech. Hong Kong/Japanese shit. And Jay, somehow, appears in most of these tweets. Continue reading

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