Sunday, September 25, 2011

Rampage vs. Jon Jones, Jay-Z vs. Lil' Wayne, What's the Difference?

Last night a highly touted vet-vs-newby fight between Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson and UFC Light Heavyweight Champion ended in electrifying fashion. Jon Jones became the second fighter to defeat Jackson by way of submission, wrapping up the Pride veteran with a rear naked choke in the fourth round (the other fighter to submit Jackson was JMMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba).

The Jackson-Jones rivalry was a classic old bull-vs-young bull match-up. You had an old school Pride veteran and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion taking on the fresh, new, quickly rising champion.

Elsewhere, in a similarly violent and dramatic landscape called hip hop there's a rivalry bubbling that displays comparable qualities. Long-time veteran rapper Jay-Z and new generation hip hop star Lil Wayne are in a heated rivalry of their own. The two have been firing verbal shots at each other on wax, and generally taking up fighting positions from opposite ends of the game.

On one end, you have Shawn Carter, more popularly known as Jay-Z -- the decorated hip hop megastar who's sold more albums than Wendy Williams has had plastic surgeries. Jay-Z has street cred (it's been confirmed by many in and around Brooklyn, specifically in the Marcy Housing Projects, that Jay has been involved in the illegal trade of crack cocaine), and pockets long enough to fund his own private army. And let's not forget about his old lady, Beyonce Knowles. Mrs. Carter is bad (in a good way for those requiring translation).

In the opposite corner, the other Carter, Dwayne Carter a.k.a Lil Wayne stands in skinny jeans and a red bandanna. Now Mr. Wayne might be the younger of the two, but he's no stranger to the game. He first stepped on the scene in the late 90's with the Hot Boys. The New Orleans group was rough and gritty, but their sound was new. Wayne was instrumental in balancing the upbeat dance vibe that influenced tracks like Juvenile's "Back that Azz Up" and keeping it hood in street level tracks like "The Block is Hot". Such tracks sent the Hot Boyz and the Cash Money Records to the charts in the late 90's, but over ten years later it's Wayne's renewed efforts that have boosted his popularity. Lil Wayne has found success as a crossover artist -- he skateboards, plays electric guitar, and wears skinny jeans. Wayne is rockstar status these days. Because of him, Black kids in New Orleans and Brooklyn are skateboarding through the projects and wearing neon colors -- behaviors that were once forbidden according to unwritten street codes.

Okay, I've rambled on and almost forgot what my point was...

I guess the point is whether it's the mixed martial arts industry or the hip hop industry, the idea of old vs. new is a profitable selling point. I'm sure when the number come in from UFC 135, we'll see positive movement in the UFC's ratings. Likewise, Jay-to-the-izzo and Young Carter will go through the rigors of verbal warfare without ever actually engaging physically. They understand the dynamics of the game -- beef sells.

In the meantime, I'm still a dedicated Rampage fan! Yeah, Jon Jones beat him, as expected, but who can deny a guy who made his name off of slams and powerbombs, and played B.A. Baracus in the A-Team movie? For all those who may have forgotten, Quinton Jackson is an elite fighter who has paid his dues to the cage -- he fought in Pride dammit! I also remain a true Jay-Z fan who remembers how Reasonable Doubt made ghetto fabulousness a cool thing, and who admires the career of one who's hottest tracks are mostly those without featured artists.

In MMA and hip hop alike, it's about paying dues. Hopefully, young stars like Jon Jones and Lil Wayne will remember that as they build their careers.

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