Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Lloyd Banks (ft. Swizz Beats, Kanye West & Fabolous) -- "Start It Up" (2010)

Break their back, don’t call 'em
Look down on 'em 
Like Dikembe, Patrick, Mourning

By the time I arrived in Cape Cod for my annual family vacation, most of the 2012 Olympics was over.  But I did catch the final men's basketball game, which matched the United States and Spain.

The Americans won most of their games easily.  The most one-sided of the contests was their 156-73 blowout of Nigeria.  (Carmelo Anthony managed to score 37 points in only 14 minutes of playing time in that game, which is mind-boggling.)  But in their next game, the U.S. team barely squeaked by Lithuania, 99-94.

Carmelo Anthony scores against Nigeria
The final game against Spain was also almost too close for comfort.  The Americans were only one point up going into the last quarter, and the 107-100 final score was the second-closest gold-medal game in Olympic history.

Kobe Bryant created some controversy by opining that the 2012 American team was better than the 1992 "Dream Team," which many believe is the greatest sports team ever assembled.  

"Dream Team" member Charles Barkley -- who's never hesitant to speak his mind -- said he "just started laughing" when he heard Bryant's comment.  Michael Jordan also took strong exception to the idea that the 2012 team was better.

Charles Barkley isn't missing any meals
Larry Bird admitted that the 2012 team would prevail -- if the two teams played each other today.  "I haven't played in 20 years," Bird said, "and we're all old now."  (Presumably Bird agreed with Barkley and Jordan that the 1992 squad was a superior team in 1992 to the 2012 team today.)

In case you've forgotten, the "Dream Team" included not only Barkley, Jordan, and Bird, but also Magic Johnson and seven other Basketball Hall of Famers.  (Christian Laettner was the only team member who didn't end up in the Hall of Fame.)  Its average margin of victory in the Olympics was an astounding 43.8 points, and it won the gold-medal game by 32.  

The 2012 team's average margin of victory was 32.1, and it won the gold by seven.  But the level of competition is much higher now than it was in 1992.  (In 1992, there were only 20 Olympic roundballers with NBA experience -- and 11 of them were on the American team.  In 2012, there were 57 players with NBA experience -- Spain's team included seven NBA'ers.)

Five members of the "Dream Team"
I suspect that if the 2012 team could somehow travel back in time to 1992 and face the "Dream Team," the 2012 team would win.  That's because I believe athletes are constantly improving over time.  Look at sports like track and swimming, where it is easy to compare winning times from different eras.  The 1992 world records in those events have been eclipsed time and time again in most cases.  

Thanks to advances in sports science, today's athletes have more effective training regimens and more efficient techniques, are better nourished, and get better medical treatment when they are injured.  The 1992 "Dream Team" was so dominant that it would be a close call if they faced off against the 2012 team -- but I think the best 2012 team in almost any sport would likely beat the best players in that sport from 1992.

Lloyd Banks
Lloyd Banks might disagree with me -- his basketball frame of reference in "Start It Up" is the "Dream Team" era despite the fact that this song was released in 2010.

The three former NBA'ers mentioned in the line quoted above are Dikembe Mutumbo, Patrick Ewing (a "Dream Team" member), and Alonzo Mourning (who was on the 2000 Olympic team, which also won a gold medal).  All three were dominating centers who had long and successful NBA careers.  Also, all three played their college basketball at Georgetown University, but it appears to be a coincidence that Banks chose to name three Hoyas -- there's no apparent link between the rapper and Georgetown.

Mutumbo, Ewing, and Mourning averaged seven feet tall, so they towered over most of their opponents much like Lloyd Banks believes he towers over rival rappers -- and much like Cape Cod's Scargo Tower towers over Scargo Lake and the surrounding area:

Scargo Tower
Scargo Tower is a 30-foot tall stone tower that was built on Scargo Hill (one of the tallest hills on Cape Cod) in 1902.  It's about two miles from the house where my family and I stay on our Cape Cod vacations, and I always drop by, climb the winding staircase to the top of the tower, and take in the view over Scargo Lake and Cape Cod Bay.

Scargo Lake (with Cape Cod Bay in the distance)
Here's an old postcard showing the view from the opposite side of the lake, looking back at Scargo Tower:

Scargo Tower was built as a memorial to certain members of a prominent local family, the Tobeys, who first came to Dennis in 1678.  The family gave the tower and the land it was built on to the town in 1929.

(Back to our featured song . . .)

Lloyd Banks and the guest performers on "Start It Up" -- Swizz Beats, Fabolous, and the one and only Kanye West -- are a hip-hop "Dream Team" of sorts.  "Start It Up" should probably be rated FMO -- "for males only."  It's probably a bit raunchy for most of you ladies.

The verses by Banks and Fabolous are solid, but Kanye West knocks it out of the park when it's his turn to step up to the microphone.  (No surprise there, of course.)

Patrick Ewing, Dikembe Mutumbo,
and Alonzo Mourning
Kanye picks up on Lloyd's reference to Mutumbo, Ewing, and Mourning with a basketball reference of his own.  But Kanye is less interested in the action on the court at the NBA All-Star Game than the action off the court:

I met this MILF at the All-Star, getting action
A cougar with more rings than Phil Jackson
Told her beauty is why God invented eyeballs
And her booty is why God invented my . . .

(You can probably guess what comes next.)

Yeezy knows his basketball.  Legendary coach Phil Jackson's teams won eleven titles, so he does have more championship rings than any other NBA coach.

Phil Jackson shows off championship ring #11
There are several ways to interpret the line about the cougar having even more rings than Jackson.  It could simply mean that she likes to wear a lot of jewelry.  (If she's hanging out at the NBA All-Star Game, she's probably got plenty of do-re-mi to spend on bling.)  

Or it could mean that she's been married numerous times.  (More than eleven marriages would be a lot, so Kanye might be engaging in a little hyperbole here.)  

Finally, the reference to Jackson's championship rings could be a play on words that refers to dendrochronology -- the science of determining the age of a tree by counting the rings that form in its trunk each year.  If so, don't take it literally -- Kanye's not saying the MILF is 12 years old.  He's just noting that Jackson has a helluva lot of championship rings, and that the cougar is like a tree with a lot of growth rings, too -- no spring chicken, in other words.

As the last line of Kanye's verse that I've quoted above indicates, he is a big fan of booty.  And as subsequent developments have demonstrated, he is a fan of big booties.

Yes, I'm talking about Kim Kardashian -- Kanye's current squeeze.  Here's a picture of the happy couple at the Cannes Film Festival:

And here's a picture that requires no introduction:  

Here's "Start It Up":

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