Tag Archives: NY

N.Y. Sports Today, Pt.3: The NHL

N.Y. Sports Today, Pt.3: The NHL

So here is an attempt at talking about hockey.  New York hockey for that matter.  In last week’s NFL piece, I went off on how sports writers never acknowledge the Buffalo Bills as part of the New York sports world.  This week I’m pulling my “hypocrisy card” and will only mention the Buffalo Sabres eight words before the period in this sentence.  There’s just no need for it, nobody cares and at the end of the day, it’s the NHL, so nobody really cares.  We do have the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders in the city though and both teams are looking to make runs in the playoffs.

The Islanders:

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The franchise has taken it’s name-sake for granted and decided to no longer play their games in Long Island.  Now they play in Brooklyn’ Barclays Center, which holds fewer seats, which is fine because there are fewer hockey fans in Brooklyn anyhow. The move has not been a popular one with it’s loyal fan-base and it’s players.  The team apparently still holds practices in the Syosset section of Long Island because they don’t want to pay rent (or even look for) a practice facility in Brooklyn.  In the players’ defense – driving back and forth from Brooklyn to Long Island is a mobile death-sentence of sorts.  The Islanders’ best player John Tavares has 52 total points with 24 goals.  Tavares is a talented player and at 25 years old, was thought to be part of the future of the Islanders but it’s come up recently that he’s “fed up” with the team and somewhere down the line he expects to work a trade that will get him to Toronto.  Even more intriguing about him wanting to play in Toronto is the apparent “team up” he wants to happen there with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos.  Regardless of what Tavares wants in his future, he’s currently playing for a team that he has yet to lead out of the first round of the playoffs.  As reported by Justin Weiss of EliteSportsNY, it’s been Tavares and defense men Nick Leddy (24 years of age) who have been “leading this team for the last couple of weeks.”  Weiss adds that the Isles wouldn’t be anywhere near as good if not for their penalty kill unit which is tops in the NHL.   It’s tough being a second fiddle team in New York.  All the Islanders have to do is ask the NBA franchise they share the building with, it’s all too familiar a story for them as well.

The Rangers:

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Currently, the Rangers are hoping they can get Rick Nash and the NHL’s best goalie Henrik Lundqvist back on the ice by the weekend.  Nash has been nursing a bone bruise for about two months and Lundqvist is trying to return after being struck in the throat a week ago.  Lundqvist’s injury was alarming for the fact that Henrik missed significant time last season with a vascular neck injury.  While the Washington Capitals are running away with the Metropolitan division, the Rangers are on par with the Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning, who the Rangers lost to in the playoffs last season.  Now, in his tenth year, center Derick Brassard is having his best season yet, with a team leading 24 goals scored and 26 assists.  Not to be outdone is teammate Matt Zuccarello who in his fifth year is on pace to having his best season with 22 goals and 29 assists.  If these two can continue to do their damage to opponents with Nash in the lineup than the Rangers should go deep again. Chris Wengert of ESNY wrote about the shaken confidence of J.T. Miller, who as he put it “followed up a hot streak, with a disappearing act.”  Miller has been demoted to the fourth line, which means the 24 year old may see little to no time come playoffs.   Of course, it’s barely about goals-scored with the Rangers, it’s always been about Henrik Lundqvist.  If the playoffs started today, the Rangers would face off against the cross-town rival Islanders, who have owned the Rangers, beating them the three times they’ve squared off this season.   Put quite simply, the Rangers are in “win now” mode while the Islanders have nice young squad – for now.

 

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

“Human” Album Review

Joell Ortiz is the Brooklyn representative of the four man rap group, Slaughterhouse.  It would be easy for one to lose themselves while mixed in with the personalities of Crooked-I, Royce Da 5’9 and Joe Budden – but that’s what separates Slaughterhouse from the rest of the rap world.  Each member has a distinct personality and this is Joell’s time to tell his story and have the listener in a zone that he has created, along with producer Illmind.  Illmind has produced tracks for 50 Cent, Scarface and Ludacris to name a few and has collaborated with the likes of 88 Keys and Kanye West on the production side.

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“I’m a quarter of the best rap group, in my opinion, ever assembled but I’m 100% Joell and I wanna tell that story.”

Those are the words Joell speaks on the intro of “Human” and on tracks like “Light A L” he paints a perfect picture of growing up in the projects.  Joell Ortiz is great at being relatable and lets his personality flourish over a track with ease: “Hip-hop with Mellie then hit pot and scaley/Then sneak up to my roof and get sick mop from Shelly. . .Standin’ in the hall and lightin’ candles for the fallen/Reminiscin’, sippin’, snifflin’, and missin’ all them.”    On “Who Woulda Knew” Joell continues with his story-telling ability as he discusses a relationship he’s trying to save.  This is one of the times Illmind’s production along with Joell’s personality mesh perfectly.  The soulful sample echo’s in the back ground while Joell dishes out lines like: “Layin’ our head, I’m seein’ 4 years ahead/She seein’ 4 years ago, wishin’ she wasn’t in this bed/Instead, she miss the club life, the pop bub’ life/
The life she used to love is fuckin’ up our love life.” The best part of this record is how Joell captures the frustration of a man that is unsure about the future with a woman he loves.

On “New Era” Illmind drops a reversed beat accompanied by a repetition of piano keys that pay homage to the hip hop sound of the mid-90’s.   Joell hits the listener with clever back to back bars, about how his vision and mind under his New Era hat are something to behold.

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“I Just Might” might have been a stronger track with a better hook and a little more life on the production side of things but then again, that’s something that seems to happen more often than one would like on “Human.”  “My N*gg@s” is a track that we’ve all heard a million times before, but a million other artists as Joell ends almost every line with the words “my n*gg@s.”  Joell is above this as a lyricist and the entire track is not worth more than one forgettable listen.  “Lil Piggies” is a track that Joell pushes his luck with and Illmind’s production sounds like a bad imitation of the J.Cole song “A Tale of Two Citiez.”  Joell’s aggressive tone is a nice switch up on the track, but the hook of “This little piggy think he’s hard / But this little piggy walks around with bodyguards / this little piggy think he real. . . ” – just doesn’t work as clever or funny.

“Latino, Pt 2” takes a different direction from it’s predecessor and joins Joell Ortiz along with his Latino hip hop brethren Emilo Rojas, Bodega Bamz and the son of the late Big Pun,  Chris Rivers.  The track has a reminiscent feeling of the first Slaughterhouse track as all four MC’s handled the beat with a purpose.  The one who steals the song though is Chris Rivers: “Put you in the earth, what it’s worth you can act natural/The pragmatical mathematical rappin’ cannibal/Who ramp with animals, Bronx nigga that has an attitude
You see my avenue is compatible with a battle room.”  Rivers’ aggressive-rapid-fire flow is reminiscent of his father’s and will have people keeping an eye out for him. . .

Ortiz and Illmind combine for a nearly 3 minute audio assault on “Six Fo’.”   Ortiz shows how down to earth he is, even while proving he’s one of the nicest on the mic with bars like: “I would play the park bench with a crazy Walkman/Listenin’ straight, no rewind button/
Flip the tape, fast forward just to rewind somethin’/Fast forward, I’m flippin’ tapes, look at me, I’m frontin’.”

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“Bad Santa” is a touching track where Joell talks about not being around for his son as much as he would like to be.  It’s not about being a “bad” father either, it’s more about him and his child’s mother not getting along and him having limited time to see his son.  It’s a real-life track, where Joell’s honesty and frustration is felt, one hundred percent.

Joell and Illmind have a chemistry together as nothing felt forced, but if things weren’t forced, at times it felt rushed.   Maybe, they aren’t 100% honest with each other in terms of what beats to use/ what hooks to use and if that’s the case, that’s not a good thing and it hurt the project as a whole.  Ortiz is without a doubt a beast though, so for pure hip hop reasons, it’s worth a listen.

Rating 6 out of 10

G.W. Gras