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Entries in kanye (6)

The Thing About Time Constraints

While brainstorming this post, I came up with three ideas for an intro and could not pick which one would fit best. So I’ll just do all three. Well, four if you include this one. But yeah, three from here on out. Use whichever one grabs your attention the most.

There are lots of bad things a teacher can say to you. “Can we talk after class?” is the universal bad news precursor. An unexpected, “Clear off your desk except for a pen,” means you should have been doing the homework readings. And, “Turn your card!” still brings back that horrible day in second grade when I accidentally went to the bathroom without permission. I cried.

Still, there is absolutely nothing in school, and maybe the world, worse than, “Now you all paid for a 4-hour class, so I want to make sure you get your money’s worth.”

GIVE ME CANCER NOW, GOD!

...........

Kanye West gave an interview back in the 808s & Heartbreak era where he said something along the lines of, “True art is something that can’t be subtracted from any more.” Fast forward almost a decade and he’s just released a string of 5 albums in 5 consecutive weeks for himself, Kid Cudi, Nas, Pusha T, and Teyana Taylor that might prove to be the most paradigm-shifting collective piece of work since Graduation. The new albums only have 7 songs each, and none of the individual songs follow the traditional 3 minutes and 30 seconds, 3-16s and 4 hooks format that gets radio play. Most songs are 2 minutes and some change. A few are 5-7 minutes. One doesn’t even have a hook, but just talks about him killing his wife, yet somehow sounds way more polite than when Eminem tried it in 2001.

Premeditated murder aside, all 5 albums are fantastic! There’s no filler tracks, no added parts on songs to make them radio-friendly, no extended intros, outros, or skits. Each song is done when it’s done; that is to say when the mood and message have been delivered. “All Mine” took 2:26 to do that, “REBORN” took 5:25 and is just the same hook over and over again. Yet these two, and every song on each album are not confined by anything. I would not quite call this collection “true art” based on Kanye’s definition, but maaaaaannnnn they are close.

...........

Dude, go back and reread On Elegance by Pat Sherwood.

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Teaching (and therefore coaching) is part mechanical and part artistry. The mechanics of it have to do with best practices, progressions, and management. The art of it comes when prescribing doses; exactly how much coaching does this person need at this exact moment? Trying to find that line and not go over it is the art of coaching, and each coach should be on a constant, relentless pursuit of subtracting unnecessary things out of their practice.

Scenario 1 – track practice

I am standing in front of a high school track team of 65 kids; complete mix of long distance, mid distance, and sprinters. Even a few throwers. We need to 1) get them something resembled to sweating before the workout and 2) keep on the reinforcement tip with technique, little piece by little piece every day. Their attention span is limited because everyone’s is, and some kids are only there because their friends are there, and have no desire to run at all. So going through my head, I need to figure out what would be the least amount of coaching in as few words as possible in order to get the things we need accomplished.

First we need to organize the layout in a way where the “good kids” – meaning ones who care, sometimes fast, sometimes not – can lead the drills and demos and everyone else can follow by example. So lines of 10(ish), starting at the 20-yard line and working our way back to the endzone, gradually progressing from good kids in front to shit kids in the back. As the front row kids demo, I walk from line to line making small, concise corrections to individual athletes.

Next is finding exactly what stuff to cover for technique. The entire team follows Pose (which is art, by the way, as it cannot be reduced) and as I watch the drills, I try to decide which specific area of Pose needs to be emphasized. I notice it’s one of those days where it’s all bad, but still I pick 1, and I pick the Number-4 position – the one thing all runners go through whether they want to or not. They don’t seem to have a desire to run fast, so a falling emphasis would not be the way to go, and since the pulling is designed to reclaim the Number-4 Runner’s Pose anyway, let’s just keep it simple and keep our attention on that.

As the practice progresses, I constantly look for ways to refine what will be taught, and only let words out of my mouth that need to be said and can’t be communicated any other way. I save most of my words for important post-practice discussions like who is hot among the rappists on Soundcloud.

Scenario 2 – 60 burpees for time in August

We follow crossfit.com at the Champions Club, and instead of doing 50 bar muscle-ups for time, on this horrible August day we decided to do 60 burpees for time instead. Our 9 am session has 15 people: a few high school kids, a few college kids, and even a Mrs. Kroll sighting. Our warmup had couple exercises listed on the board, and after the first hollow rock everyone was in a full sweat. But we carried on knowing what was coming soon. Then we did a mobility for the hips to help the landing position, went over the bowing technique on the burpee with feet together, translate it to feet apart, then do one more shoulder mobility to prep for all the push-ups. 7 minutes later everyone was flat on the ground and we saw great scores across the board. I looked up at the time and it was 9:40.

“All right kids, that’s about it,” I said. “Get a little cool-down walk or something; I’ll be here for another 20 minutes if anyone needs anything. Otherwise once you get your stuff on the board and walk, you’re all good!”

Scenario 3 – Max effort back squats

Workout of the Day: Back squat 3-3-3-3-3-3-3 reps

At the 4:30 pm session, we get an unexpected influx of 13 people – which is a big session for us.

Everyone has pretty good form, but it’s just a little chaotic. I let the warmup drag on a bit too long because everyone was socializing, and it took a little extra time to decide how to split up our 5 squat racks.

Then in the middle of it, I found a session-wide thing that we needed to improve on. So I stopped the lifting for a bit to address it. Next thing I know it’s 5:20 and we still need to get more lifts in. I go from rack to rack, instructing to either go up, down, or keep the weight the same. Avery finally got it! She kept her arches on the transition between down and up, and doesn’t even have to look at her feet to do so! We can finally start moving up past 65-lbs. I look up and the clock says 5:28.

“5:30 kids, we’re probably going to start a little bit late, so hang tight”

I know Avery is not going to be able to work up to a true 3 rep max on the spot, but I do want her to experience lifting a few sets that would actually seem heavy for three reps. A one-hour time constraint is not going to stop this from happening.

...........

Exact time keeping is important in certain areas of life (track and field, marines, Super Mario, etc.) but for the most part the hours and minute hands are there on a clock as a general point of reference. When someone says, “I’ll be there in 5 minutes,” you are assuming they’ll be arriving soon enough, so don't take care of your business. If your little cousin’s birthday party starts at 11 am, you are not going to blow through a red light just to avoid getting there at 11:02.

In the professional world, this also varies from place to place. If you scheduled a half hour consultation with a potential client, you would not cut off mid-sentence when clock beeps for 30-minutes. On the other hand, if your teacher is going to mark you tardy for having half your body outside the class when the bell rings, then by all means push over anyone necessary to avoid detention. In the world of being a CrossFit coach, I think it is fair to make yourself available for an hour at each session, and a one-hour session is a good, general timeframe to advertise. We just have to know not to be slaves to that one hour. Above all else, we should strive to never put out a crappy product. When we are trying to fill time at the end, or cram stuff in, it usually turns out like crap. So don’t do that! Let things be done when they’re done.

Quote of the Week vol. 164: Get Used to Getting Used

"To most people, the saying "to use someone" carries a negative connotation, but I don't see it that way. To "mis", "over" or "ab"use someone is negative. To use is necessary and if you can't be used...then you're useless"

- Kanye West. Thank You and You're Welcome

There's so much in a name and so much more in you

Heads up. This post, and the article linked to it, contains explicit language.

Originally I thought this would be too divisive to post on here, but in light of the Coaching Guys versus Girls Poll, I think it might be interesting to hear what people have to say on this one. 

We've played rap at the box since before it was the box. Whether you know it or not, you've gotten more than your fair share of Lupe, Kanye, J Cole, UGK, Mos Def, Andre 3000, Atmosphere, Eminem, and others who I don't even know the name of. The reason?

This guy. Once Chris was allowed to graduate from Motown and Paul Simon, he threw himself into the inappropriate world of hip hop. Like, really threw himself in. Like has written this, this, and this threw himself in. After a while you learn to tolerate the constant bass and little white guy wandering throughout the gym bobbing his head, and hey, maybe you even enjoy it. Once I started adding some of it to my iPod my mom looked and me and Champions Club OG Sydni Golfin and goes,

"Don't you ever get tired of being called bitches in these songs?" 

I laughed and shrugged it off as only a teenager can do to their mom and didn't really think of it again. Until I read "What do Kanye and Kendrick Owe Women Listeners?". 

"But to belittle, berate, condescend, and reduce women to their disparate body parts over and over again is to risk being left behind — both in art and our history."

Now I'm sure that this article will get some classic JZ answers on it, but real talk. Is modern day hip-hop/rap... bad (degrading, disrespectul, offensive, etc) for those of us with two X chromosomes?

Hip Hop Quotables vol. 3: Welcome to Graduation

On this day in 2007, Kanye West officially graduated from Hip Hop.

Kanye West first jumped onto the Hip Hop scene as producer, not a rapper. In fact, he is known for reviving Jay-Z's career by providing beats for over half of The Blueprint. Soon after, his beats were a hot commodity in the Hip Hop scene. But all the while, Kanye was trying to convince major labels that not only could he make beats, but he could rap as well. And after numerous guest appearences and demos, he finally got signed to Jay-Z's label, Rocafella Records.

In 2004, Kanye lit up the airwaves with "Jesus Walks," "All Falls Down," and "Through the Wire" (a song he rapped while his mouth was still wired shut from a life-threatening car accident.) With his debut album, The College Dropout, Kanye won awards, and even more important, respect from his peers as one of the hottest up-and coming rappers in the game. All he needed was a solid sophomore effort to show that he was for real. And he did just that.

The next year, Kanye released Late Registration. It was very well-received and regarded as on par with his highly-successful debut. With hits like "Gold Digger," "Diamonds from Sierra Leone," and "Touch the Sky," the Hip Hop world had to take note of Kanye's talent with words.

In an era where the hottest rappers talked about selling drugs, gang affiliation, and killing people, Kanye managed to find his voice by rapping about social unrest, religion, personal issues, and self-confidence. While many would consider that "soft," Kanye had a knack for delivering the message very well and laying it over classic soulful beats with infectious melodies. Soon, other rappers noticed how well he sold records and how much people liked his music, so they copied his style - both in production and in rapping. In short, Kanye West is solely responsible for reshaping the sound of Hip Hop in the early-mid 2000's.

Then on May 15, 2007, Kanye released "Can't Tell Me Nothing."

I remember being so confused at the time. This was not rap! This was... different. It was... just music. Good music. There was rapping, but it  was far from the style I was used to hearing from him; instead the words just blended into the song. Almost becoming part of the beat. I wasn't sure if I was supposed to like it or not. Then when "Stronger" was released on July 31, I had the same reaction. So I figured I would just wait until his album came out to listen to the rest of the songs.

September 11, 2007 was the most highly anticipated day of Hip Hop I can remember. Kanye West and 50 Cent (one of my favorite rappers at the time) both staged their albums to come out on that day as a challenge to see who would sell more records. I vowed to only buy one. It was a tough decision, but I went with Kanye's Graduation. After football practice I took the album up to my room, put on my headphones, and was woken up by a sound so unique, so emphatic, that it gave me chills.

I went from song to song, waiting for Kanye to return to his chipmunk soul and rhythmic rapping. But it didn't happen. Instead, my ears were filled with catchy hooks and melodies, heavy drums, and electronic beats. It was so awesome; everything flowed so well together. This also started my current tradition of waiting for the album to come out before listening to songs. If I would have just heard those songs standing alone, I probably would not have liked them. But within the context of the album, they were perfect. They all played their individual part to give Graduation it's groundbreaking sound.

...........

Before Graduation, Kanye West was the biggest name in Hip Hop. After Graduation, Kanye West became the biggest name in music. Period.

The album reached such a wide variety of music listeners: Hop Hop, Rock, Pop, Electronic, Country, and Classical fans could all find songs that appealed to their taste. Plus, his Glow in the Dark Tour to promote the album was hailed as the best show the music world has seen since some U2 tour back in the 90's. I went and his performance was, without a doubt, the most enjoyable two-and-a-half hours of my life. The songs on Graduation were meant to be shared on a large scale.

More impressive than the music itself was the confidence it took to make it in the first place. Kanye had a lot to lose if this album flopped. He would lose most of his Hip Hop fanbase, his endorsements, and probably his contract. But he had an idea in his mind that he needed to share. He wanted to push the boundaries of what it meant to be an artist.

This was Bo Jackson playing baseball.

Since Graduation, Kanye never truly returned to his classical Hip-Hop self. Each album has been an experiment. And each one set a new trend in Hip Hop. From the auto-tune, hypnotic sound on 808's and Heartbreak, to the audible perfection on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, to the grimy off-beat Yeezus, Kanye has always been the one to break the ice on new expressions of his art. And it all started on September 11, 2007 when he welcomed us to Graduation.

Quote of the Week vol. 98

"The Chosen One from the land of the frozen son

Where drunk nights get remembered more than sober ones

Walk like warriors, we were never told to run

Explore the world to return to where my soul begun

Never looking back, or too far in front of me

The present is a gift, and I just wanna be..."

- Common. "Be (Intro)" off his 2005 album, Be

Hip Hop Quotables, vol. 1. Coming tonight sometime I think.

Quote of the Week vol. 5

"Would you believe in what you believe in if you were the only person who believed in it?

"When someone is strong enough to believe in something only they believe in, people are going to call them crazy…sometimes crazy is a label that the average put on the exceptional." - Kanye West, Thank You and You're Welcome