Sunday, 4 March 2018

The growth of grime and UK rap

Just like their American counterparts, rappers from the UK rap and grime scene have long had an image problem when it comes to their acceptance in the mainstream. Their artistry, being born of articulating the ignored experience of deprived communities, typically makes for a grittier identity than those from other genres. Consequently, for many rappers, that persona is deemed an essential measure of credibility; so much so that many rappers will exaggerate that image when they really aren’t about that life.

Yet when that identity has met the mainstream, it’s traditionally struggled to find itself compatible with a more commercial sphere. The necessary professionalism, etiquette and maturity needed to operate beyond the periphery of the underground has often not been forthcoming from rappers. That’s manifested itself as tardiness when attending professional engagements, a distinct lack of media training (not every sentence needs to be rhetorically punctuated by “you get me?” when you’re on a mainstream platform) and an unawareness of some behaviours and vernacular just not being appropriate for mainstream audiences.
“I’m a big man but I’m not 30… oh, wait…”
Even the ability to show a lighter side hasn’t always been apparent; incredulously, there’s been an underlying view that momentarily losing one’s screwface might actually erode the perception of an artist’s credibility. It was akin to the bashment scene before the likes of Elephant Man injected some of the fun back into the genre with his colourful visuals and acknowledgement of the dancing culture within the genre.
Why so serious?
An inability to separate the road from the radio, incriminating themselves and others with reckless talk, and glamorising rather than articulating tales of the road, was once all too commonplace. Some might say said artists were keeping it real. But from a business perspective, it was keeping it real dumb.

That didn’t help the perception of the culture either. And given most rappers are black or assume the culture of the diaspora, it didn’t help the perception of the black community either (and we’re undoubtedly facing our own image problem without needing the aforementioned to compound it).

However, in recent years there’s been a shift and the scene has found a professionalism and maturity that it lacked for years. That’s provided a conduit for more artists, and the scene overall, into the mainstream and without necessarily needing to compromise with a watered down product. No longer is it mandatory to be tense at all times and even a burgeoning voice of genuine social consciousness has emerged.

It’s hard to pinpoint when or how the change came about. In the era of Chip (when he was still Chipmunk and mentioned in the same breath as Ice Kid), Tinchy Stryder et al entering the scene, major label investment in their media training was very obvious. Nevertheless, let’s not forget Chip came through via Alwayz Recording before signing to a major label. The business savvy of Alwayz Recording in knowing how to play the mainstream game was therefore apparent even before Sony got involved. And it was a similar story for others of that wave.

Tinie Tempah, one of the most commercially successful artists from the scene, quickly gained a reputation in the industry for his professionalism. In Tinie, there was an artist who was from a scene that was rapidly gaining traction and he eschewed the traits that meant the mainstream were still reluctant to engage with the artists who originated from it. He was punctual, articulate and knew how to engage his audience on a respective platform.

Newer and younger artists, who would have once been stuck with a paradigm of ignorance from previous artists, now had an exemplar on how to act accordingly beyond niche success while reaping the benefits of commercial and critical acclaim.

Achieving commercial and critical success has long been considered a challenge, just as the notion of rappers maintaining their credibility while showing a capacity for not taking themselves so seriously has long been elusive and seen as a dichotomy. The belief that these are mutually exclusive has long held back the scene but there’s been a shift in that perception to its betterment.

Giggs, undoubtedly one of the hardest and certified rappers in the scene, carries unquestionable authenticity in his bars. Yet he’s undoubtedly contributed to refuting the view that rappers need to be constantly tense. Check his Instagram account and contrary to what many might expect (and what the Daily Mail would gladly have you believe), you’ll see banter galore that in no way dilutes his credibility. Nor has his content changed in the process.

Buck, Giggs’ manager, brings similar content to his social media and like Giggs, he doesn’t feel compelled to perpetuate the portrayal some might ignorantly expect. A criticism of the scene was that its major players didn’t show any growth but Giggs and Buck show exactly why the scene has finally been able to move forward in embracing maturity without any loss in credibility.

On New Years Eve, Buck posted a video advising people to avoid any drama and to stay away from anywhere that might present avoidable trouble. For Buck to send such a positive message, but from a perspective of credibility that others might not possess, shows just how far the scene has matured and the direction it’s hopefully taking.

As the scene continues to grow, so does its social awareness. The 2017 UK General Election saw Labour make huge gains and the support of the scene and its fans for the Labour leader, accompanied by the hashtag #grime4corbyn, undoubtedly contributed to that. Although unlike some endorsements of politicians by musicians, this wasn’t a gimmick. Jeremy Corbyn’s desire and championing of social equality, juxtaposed with the inequality and growing poverty that has characterised Tory Britain, resonated with the scene.

This wasn’t faux political engagement. The socio-economic injustice of Tory Britain was something many within the scene had experienced first hand and were able to relate to. Furthermore, it signalled the advent of a social and political consciousness. Just look at how many from the scene have been vocal about Grenfell Tower, just as Stormzy was at the Brits? Whereas the dialogue occurring now would have previously been limited.

Increased unity and a willingness to collaborate has also facilitated the growth within the scene. One of the reasons southern rap experienced popularity while New York fell off was that southern rappers worked together while New York rappers wouldn’t. The UK scene has done the same and it’s brought about an attitude that means it no longer remains stagnant in its maturity.

Just as the players within it have matured, the grime and UK rap scene is finally beginning to evolve with them. While entry to the scene is typically at a young age, we can’t all maintain the mindset of our teens as we’re faced with the trappings of adulthood. Like Chris Rock said, no one wants to be the old guy in the club and the scene was at risk of becoming that old guy.

The grime and UK rap scene hasn’t lost any credibility as it modifies its outlook. Indeed, there are now artists that admittedly have a more commercial sound but that’s part of the scene’s expanding breadth. It’s also alongside the harder and signature content that it’s best known for. Instead, the scene is gradually losing the narrow perspective that long kept it in the shadows of the success and growth it’s now capable of achieving.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Chris Eubank Jr needs to rebuild and go back to basics

Contrary to what Team Eubank had managed to convince many pundits, boxing fans and even the bookies, Chris Eubank Jr lost a unanimous points decision to George Groves. The Brighton man was outclassed by Groves from the first bell and it quickly became apparent that nothing Eubank and his father had prophesied in the fight was going to happen.

When Eubank started his professional career, I was taken in by the hype based on his supreme conditioning and great engine. But his loss to Billy Joe Saunders was the turning point when I realised I’d been hoodwinked like so many others. I started looking at Eubank’s handpicked opponents, typically void of decent head movement and therefore perfect for replicating his “instafamous” training methods (because no matter how many times you hit the punching machine, it’ll never hit you back), and his apparent lack of punch power. What exactly had he done in the ring to confirm he was the real deal? He talked the talk but he didn’t walk the walk.

Consequently, I tipped Groves getting the W in their fight. I could see Groves using his boxing brain to fight at range, controlling the fight with disciplined and effective use of the jab all night. And that’s exactly what happened. Eubank was unable to close the distance and his messy and ineffectual work (exacerbated by a bad cut beneath his right eye) was the only thing he showcased.

Groves, however, was just too good, too big and too strong for Eubank and he worked to a game plan whereas Eubank seemingly didn’t even have one. If anything, I thought the scorecards were too close based on the extent to which Eubank was schooled by the Hammersmith man.

How could I be so sure? Surely Eubank’s high workrate and athleticism had to count for something? Was this not destined to be the opportunity he needed to showcase it?

It could have been. But when you can’t land a shot, and you’ve claimed you don’t need a trainer to steer you away from what was often an amateurish performance, you’re very quickly going to find yourself in a dilly of a pickle. Alas, that’s the situation Team Eubank had engineered for their man.

Coming up short for the second time in his career that he’s actually stepped up in class, Eubank, and his father, don’t need to eat a slice of humble pie; they need to eat the entire thing. Until the first bell, they’d convinced so many of his prowess and so compelling was their narrative that many believed the hype. Yet Eubank’s talk was writing cheques his body couldn’t cash.

In defeat, Eubank appeared delusional in calling for a rematch and audaciously calling out IBF super middleweight champion, Caleb Truax. There was no realisation that right now, challenging for world titles isn’t what he needs or deserves. Rather Eubank needs to go back to basics in every aspect of his team and career.

Team Eubank are still claiming Eubank’s performance wasn’t reflective of what he’s capable of. How many more opportunities does Eubank need to show us he’s the real deal? Unfortunately, for Team Eubank, Groves, like Saunders before him, has derailed the Eubank hype train until further notice.

Eubank proclaiming himself as some kind of Clubber Lang (of Rocky III fame) wrecking machine who doesn’t really need a trainer is ludicrous and the biggest learning point he should take in defeat. Eubank is a phenomenal athlete and at domestic and fringe world level, that can sometimes be enough. Although to operate without any depth in actual boxing skills at world level is ridiculous and declining to enlist the services of a trainer to address that is beyond arrogant. Should Eubank be able to talk himself back into undeserved contention for a world level fight off the back of his defeat to Groves, he’ll be left wanting again with the status quo.

Ronnie Davies, Eubank’s trainer seemingly in name only, is effectively a sideman in the corner. That isn’t Davies’ fault, that’s the position he’s been relegated to by Eubank and his father. Davies needs to call it day with Team Eubank. He doesn’t command the respect of Eubank and that ship has long sailed.

Eubank needs to seek someone who’ll actually train him and almost reteach him to incorporate boxing basics into his style. He needs someone who he’ll listen to and respect and with whom he’s able to establish a rapport where they’re a trusted voice in the corner. The question is, is it too late to undo Eubank’s arrogance and establish the required balance in his team? His corner was an absolute shambles. Has he not realised this himself?

Much has been made of the distraction that Eubank Snr presents to his son’s career and his team. Eubank Snr knows how to sell a fight with his controversy but perhaps Eubank Jr too has been taken in by his father’s promotional fanfare. After his latest defeat, Eubank Jr may have finally been given the nudge to distance his career from his father and if he wants to progress his career, that may well be an unexpected move in his rebuilding. After all, the ‘warrior’s code’ clearly wasn’t enough on this occasion and Eubank Jr might want to enlist some orthodox advice going forward.

Naseem Hamed, part of the ITV Box Office punditry team, went as far as saying Eubank should call it a day and didn’t mince his words in lambasting Eubank’s performance. Hamed alone made the PPV worthwhile, dropping more truth bombs on Eubank than a Funkmaster Flex show. I don’t think Eubank need throw in the towel on his career but he needs a rebuild of his team and a reality check of just how good he currently is.

Eubank arguably also needs to move back down to middleweight. Groves is a big, strong super middleweight and without a rehydration clause, he would have entered the ring as a light heavyweight. In contrast, Eubank is a blown up middleweight who’s just too small. Already not being a big puncher, he lacks the power and size for the 168lbs division. It was was apparent when he fought Groves and it’d be the same against any legitimate super middleweight at world level. They say speed kills in the ring but not if you can’t land a shot and can get man handled from the outset.

Eubank is a decent fighter, just not the fighter he claims to be. If he wants to become the boxer he says he is, he needs a new team and to adopt a dose of humility to balance out his spades of hubris. His defeat to Groves, and the accompanying deflated ego, may just be the wake up call he needs to effect that.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

The forgotten narrative of a new dad

When my son was born, I had two weeks of paternity leave before I had to return to work. That’s it. Two weeks. In contrast to some countries, that might be quite generous but in comparison with up to a year of statutory maternity leave in the UK for women, it’s incredibly meagre. More significantly, it denies new fathers a reasonable amount of time to bond with their newborn child, not to mention being able to support their partners with the challenge of parenthood before returning to work.

During our pregnancy, society’s lack of regard for me as a dad-to-be (in contrast to that of my wife) was distinctly apparent. And when my son was born, that continued. As a new dad, my narrative as a parent is one that is unfairly relegated, further diminishing the role of fathers in society.

My return to work after paternity leave was complete with getting up early and returning home late, just as I had done before fatherhood. Although, long working days, and the pressures and workload of my role, were now accompanied by a new layer of responsibility in being a dad; a responsibility that trumps the former without exception.

That responsibility is often exclusively associated with mums as fathers continue to struggle in shaking the stereotype of fathers of yesteryear, some of whom exercised their paternal role at arm’s length and left it to mums. Whereas today, most dads are involved and supportive of their children and their partners.

Just as I was unable to fully empathise with my wife in her experience of being pregnant, I can’t fully relate with what it’s been like in becoming a new mum and everything that comes with it. Nevertheless, I have enormous respect for her and I acknowledge the efforts she makes as a mum that probably exceeds what I would be capable of managing in her position. While I’m arguably biased, she’s a brilliant mum with a natural maternal instinct that never fails to meet what’s best for our son.

We’re fortunate that her parents and extended family are very supportive and they’ll eagerly welcome any opportunity to help when she might need some respite. However, I also recognise how my return to work brought an opportunity for the onset of loneliness.

Being a mum at home during maternity leave or otherwise isn’t easy and it can place a strain on the emotional well-being of new mums. It can undoubtedly represent an emotional and lonely journey (that can manifest itself as postnatal depression) exacerbated by varying support that not everyone is afforded. Yet with those challenges come the reward and fulfilment of being able to enjoy witnessing the development of your child. The smiles, cackles and the many ‘firsts’ mums get to see all make it worthwhile.

For all the dealing with poonamis, when you could really do with someone to tag team with on the clean up and changing operation, or frustratingly spending the bulk of your day with your child on your breast, unable to get even the most minor task completed, the reward of being a mum is so much greater. Much of that reward is what as dads we sadly miss out on sharing.

There’s a distinct lack of empathy for dads. Our return to work is viewed as respite from parenthood. Complete with adult company and structure to our day that isn’t at the whim of breastfeeding on demand or similar, our role is considered a walk in the park. What do we have to complain about when we’re actually afforded time to ourselves without a baby in tow regardless of what we do? Sadly, that’s how the narrative of a dad is routinely, erroneously and unfairly perceived.

During the week, I feel almost like an absent father. I usually do a nappy change just before I leave for work and I’m home for bathtime and bedtime. But I’m knackered in the evening and any quality time with my son and indeed my wife is compromised by my fatigue, though that doesn’t mean I shirk my role and responsibilities as a dad. It becomes increasingly apparent that I miss out on much. I might see my son do something new and I’ll rush to share it with my wife; only to find out it’s not so new after all. I was just at work when he first did it.

I’ve never attended any parent and baby classes with my son (notably more commonly known as mother and baby classes) while my wife has. Even doctor’s appointments preclude me from attending because they’re scheduled throughout the working day. Weekends are too short as it is and they’re punctuated by life admin and work.

A few weekends ago, I took my son for a walk to see the geese and ducks near the local lake. It was an effort to give my wife some respite while being an opportunity to spend time with my son. However, when I messaged my wife to let her know where we had gone, she was slightly annoyed that I hadn’t waited for her to make it a walk we could have gone on as a family.

Innocently, she was unable to empathise that I craved spending time with my son, and wanted to give her a break, hence us going for a walk where she wasn’t accompanying us. Even with an involved dad for a partner, addressing the lack of time I get to spend with my son wasn’t a driver for her rationale in understanding my decision.

The lack of understanding of what a dad experiences in missing out on time with their child is far reaching and worrying but a shift in thinking doesn’t appear to be forthcoming. My hour to the lake with my son was insignificant compared to the entire week my wife spends with him; for many, that’s not a perspective that’s even considered when thinking of the emotional challenges for new dads.
Escape from the Job by Stefano Corso is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Personally, there’s a further frustration with the forgotten experience of dads and that’s as a black dad. Negative and racist stereotypes have left many seeing a black, involved dad as somewhat paradoxical. Being out with my son, I’ll sometimes receive odd glances while pushing his pushchair as if it’s a mirage to see a black dad, let alone a dad period, behind the handlebar. Black dads exist and we’re involved.

Elliott Rae, founder of Music Football Fatherhood, wrote of his experience that I, and many other black dads, share. Consider how dads are already perceived as the lesser of two parents. That’s compounded for black dads who are subject to the unfair stereotype of being occasional fathers that are only involved on an ad hoc and unreliable basis.

While my wife is exclusively breastfeeding and on demand, that remains a role I can’t fulfil. But as far as everything else goes, I’m on deck. If I hear my son crying at night while my wife is asleep, I’ll dash to the nursery to soothe him back to sleep before she wakes up. I do everything associated with being a parent and to support my wife in what society acknowledges can be a tough role in being a mum. We just need to acknowledge that albeit differently, being a dad isn’t easy either and our experience deserves to be included in the narrative of being a parent.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

We need to recalibrate our moral compass when it comes to the sex industry

While the digital era may have eroded the adult entertainment industry’s traditional revenue streams, the demand for content has hardly waned. If anything, it’s increased. The shift from print and recordable media to the internet has made adult entertainment more accessible and sought after than ever before. According to Alexa Internet, Pornhub now even ranks higher than Microsoft search engine Bing in global popularity. Newer formats for the industry, like webcams and chat line channels, have also provided further platforms and avenues to quench the desires of their audience.

Elsewhere within the sphere of sex work, prostitution is considered the world’s oldest profession. The staying power of the sex industry is proven and as long as libidos exist, it’ll remain. Yet the stigma around it continues.

Sex is often the elephant in the room which reinforces the stigma around the industry. Granted, for many, sex is something that should be kept as personal. But that shouldn’t drive our judgement of those involved in sex work. Furthermore, when you consider what should cause our moral compass to point south, should that really include the sex industry?

Putting aside what might be legal in respective jurisdictions, ethically, what has anyone working in the sex industry done wrong? Sex workers provide a service for which there will always be demand. They barely rely on advertising so it can’t even be said that they’re influencing their client base to acquire a service or product that they didn’t really want.

I doubt anyone visits Pornhub after seeing a billboard en route home and remarking to themselves, “that reminds me, I should check out some porn this evening”. Similarly, no one decides to visit a strip club after getting a flyer in their letterbox. The customer base within the sex industry, regardless of the platform or service, need little persuasion. It can’t be said that their business and interest is sought aggressively or immorally either.

So why is the sex industry condemned and subject to such stigma? With adult entertainment, there’s arguably a taboo around masturbation that compounds this. But is it also because the basis of their business is sex and society isn’t comfortable enough to openly accept their product?
Jenna Jameson by Thomas Hawk is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Have we allowed our discomfort to taint our judgement against those that work within the industry as we perpetuate the seedy image it’s been forced to assume? More importantly, why have we felt it necessary, and acceptable, to criticise sex workers who haven’t done anything wrong aside from working within a profession that doesn’t sit well with our own opinions?

Sex workers often can’t admit what they do without fear of judgement. Conversely, how many bankers have that same reticience or shame when announcing what they do for a living? It beggars belief that a banker can work in an industry void of ethics, celebrating the fact that what they do for a living facilitated a financial crisis and continues to polarise wealth in society, yet not be judged for it. Meanwhile, being an adult entertainer remains a taboo occupation.

Lisa Ann didn’t cause the subprime mortgage crisis but her (former) industry attracts a level of opprobrium and shame that would indeed be apt for the banking industry that actually did.

When a former detective claimed that thousands of thumbnails of porn had been found on the work computer of Tory MP Damian Green, it wasn’t a good look for him. That’s understandable on the basis of that much porn suggesting he was busy knocking one out when he should have been busy representing his constituents and fulfilling his role as First Secretary of State. However, it’s the porn that he’s experiencing shame for rather than the fact that he was viewing it at work.

I’m no friend to the Tory Party but if we’re judging Green and other Tories for their conduct, there are much worse activities that they should be censured for. We have a Tory government that presides over a country where food banks and poverty have become the norm alongside underfunded public sectors. At the same time, the 1% continue to thrive and aggressive tax avoidance and evasion is encouraged. Yet watching legal porn is what we’re judging a Tory MP for? What does that say about how skewed our own moral compasses are when it comes to adult entertainment?

There is a moral debate to be had around adult entertainment and the broader sex industry. The safety and treatment of those within the industry, and the promotion of distorted images of women, gender relations and expectations within relationships, calls into question much around sex work. However, that’s distinct from the stigma that the sex industry attracts.

Everyone is entitled to their views on the sex industry. And while it’s longevity is proven, it will always remain a divisive subject. Although that shouldn’t mean those who work within it should be subject to an unnecessary stigma based on the discomfort of others.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Money can’t buy happiness

I’ve always been fairly prudent with money and recognised its value accordingly. However, through circumstances beyond my choosing or control, I found myself taking out a number of loans in my late teens. While my peers used money from part time jobs for clothes and going out, I was instead supporting my family and now servicing the debt that came with the loans I now had to pay off.

At the same time, my struggle with depression meant I was fully acquainted with the dark cloud that hung over me. I thought the albatross of debt had caused me to feel this way and figured money might be the solution to banishing the immovable cloud that had long plagued me.

Eventually, I came towards the end of the loan and decided to pay it off early. I’d yearned for this day and was sure that I would feel better once I was debt-free. I vividly remember walking into a branch and announcing to the member of staff at the desk that I would like to pay off the balance of my loan. After years of repayments that I resented, this was going to be the beginning of life after debt and I would start feeling better immediately as money was about to solve my problems. Alas, I was wrong.
By Howard Lake and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
I walked out of the branch, free of debt, expecting that ominous cloud to have receded as soon as I crossed the threshold of the bank. But it had it hadn’t budged, and it wouldn’t for many subsequent years. I felt helpless and empty. I’d pinned all my hopes of feeling better on paying off my loans but it didn’t change things whatsoever. If anything, it made it worse because I was all out of ideas as to how I would ever address my depression. And I had now succumbed to the belief that I wouldn’t ever be rid of it.

Money couldn’t address my depression, and in effect buy me happiness, and I was ignorant and naive to think it could. Yet in an ever-materialistic society, we’ve been conditioned to believe to the contrary.

When many of us think of happiness, it’s generally linked to an image of materialism. Money and opulent lifestyles produce a narrative for what many of us perceive as a life of happiness. If only we were able to fund that lifestyle, without any constraints, surely our happiness would be secured and guaranteed, right?

We’ve become accustomed to our perception of happiness as a superficial concept. And as a result, we can’t see past or realise our folly in money being a weak, inadequate and hugely misleading gauge by which we measure it.

We can’t pretend that there isn’t a joy and contentment that’s derived from money. Being able to maintain a lifestyle that affords us the freedom to do what we enjoy, and to purchase whatever we desire, without feeling the need to monitor what we’re spending, is undoubtedly what most of us aspire to achieve. And it’s certainly a life I wouldn’t reject.

Although, what happens when we become jaded with what money can provide? When we need to make more and bigger purchases to replenish our levels of happiness? Or when we encounter desires that money can play no role in facilitating, yet run so much deeper than material cravings?

Good health? Companionship? Self-fulfilment? Money can’t buy any of them. It’s at this point that we realise money is a vehicle that will only get us so far in our pursuit of happiness. And like getting on the wrong bus or train, that you were nevertheless sure would get you closer to your destination, it often terminates at a location that makes it even more apparent how far you are from actual happiness.

Bob Marley’s last words to his son Ziggy were “money can’t buy life”. Money wasn’t something Bob Marley was lacking to say the least but he realised that it didn’t buy happiness. Although never more could it have been apparent to him, his family and friends as he died, a rich man who could buy much but couldn’t buy life.

In my lowest periods of depression, no amount of money or material possessions would have been able to shift that dark cloud. Money was a worthless commodity and a currency that wasn’t accepted in exchange for anything that would aid my mental and emotional health improving. Sadly, it’s typically at moments like this when we realise how ineffectual money can be in facilitating our happiness; when we’re already at rock bottom in our distance from achieving it.

It’s difficult to distance ourselves from the notion that money can bring us happiness when we’re bombarded by images that support that. Social media perfectly filters the lives of celebrities appearing ‘happy’ in all that they show us. So we attempt to project our own ‘happiness’ with similarly curated moments that have the same aim of showcasing our materialistic prowess. Because there’s no doubt of someone’s happiness when they’ve taken a selfie of themselves outside of a designer store.

We’ve sadly based happiness on carefully selected snippets from the lives of people we don’t know and assumed that if we had their money, we’d match their assumed happiness too. We don’t know what happens after they put their phones down and aren’t “doing it for the ‘gram”. Are they depressed? Are they experiencing personal problems that make what we see insignificant and shallow in contrast?

Not only are we linking money to a perception of happiness that’s based on someone else’s life, but we don’t even know if they’re actually happy. It begs the question how we’ve been able to make such a strong link between two entities without tangible and credible evidence to support this assumed connection.

How many people underpin their pursuit of happiness by money? Aggressively seeking a partner who’s rich? Or a job with good pay that they hate but feel will validate their self-worth? The assumed feeling of happiness that those decisions result in is typically short-lived as the denial associated with them can rarely remain repressed forever.

Good mental and physical health for ourselves and those around us, self-acceptance and connections to people that matter to us. None can be purchased with money yet all provide happiness to an extent that is unmatched by anything acquired in a store. We need to start redefining what happiness means to us and how we go about achieving it.

Our own path to happiness will always be subjective. Nonetheless, we’ve been made to believe that it’s driven by materialism as capitalism has permeated even how we define good mental health. Hence the narrative of happiness being linked to money. If we consider our own definition of happiness with honesty and introspection, we’ll realise that money isn’t a key to attaining it. It undoubtedly affords us tangible representations that certainly bring us satisfaction and joy. But in the truest sense, money can’t buy us a version of happiness that really matters.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Difficult conversations in the black community

When you compare black people to other ethnicities, we’re arguably one of the more open communities. Black culture is always apparent in the places that the diaspora finds itself within and we generally integrate better than other ethnic minority groups. By that token, both our successes and challenges are more visible and the latter is therefore viewable for those even outside of the community. Where other communities are very adept at keeping their problems in-house, our experience has meant the contrary.

Being from London, one of the world’s most ethnically diverse cities, I feel qualified to say with confidence that I know we aren’t the only community with challenges. I’ve seen institutionalised misogyny, racism, drug use, domestic abuse and much more as stereotypical, albeit not consistent, features of other communities that never seem to get the spotlight on them due to their insularity.

But for the black community, we aren’t afforded the luxury of keeping our problems to ourselves. Consequently, the issues some sections of our community are faced with are exploited by the media and society and used to besmirch the majority of us, even within our own eyes. The latter is significant. We can’t perceive ourselves in such a negative way, let alone allow others to do the same, without realising it’s something we need to talk about. So why is this a conversation we aren’t having?
Three Men by Rennett Stowe is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The sad reality is that even as a black man, who’s been around black people my entire life, I will be more likely to be suspicious of a large group of black youths congregating than I would with a group of white youths. That’s only for me to have to check myself for what is essentially racial profiling of my own people. Rapper and activist Akala said the same of his initial thought of suspicion when seeing a fellow black male paying in a large amount of cash at the bank, again, only to have to check himself for succumbing to racial assumptions.

Despite both being black men, society’s successful racist conditioning has caused us and others to identify with a negative perception of those in our own image. What a win for racism and a failure on our part to recognise and stem it from happening.

It could be argued that the openness of the black community places us in a better position to address this and to have the conversations that other communities instead ignore. Though we aren’t taking advantage of that and we’re suffering in our denial that this is necessary dialogue for the community.

In a controversial but incredibly hilarious sketch from his Bring the Pain HBO special, Chris Rock spoke of the distinction between most black people and the minority that feed the stereotypes we face -
“Now we’ve got a lot of things, a lot of racism in the world right now, Who’s more racist? Black people or white people? Black people! You know why? Because we hate black people too! Everything white people don’t like about black people, black people REALLY don’t like about black people. There’s some shit going on with black people right now. There’s like a civil war going on with black people, and there’s two sides. There’s black people and there’s n******. The n****** have got to go”.

Putting aside subjective views on use of the n-word, amidst my uncontrollable laughter I immediately identified with such a brilliant articulation of the frustrations I had as a black person with a few within my own community. There was us, the majority of black people who made being black a privilege and something to be celebrated. And then there was them; the minority whose foolishness and ignorance the rest of us have to suffer the stereotype for.

The sketch divided black people. Rather than being owned as an experience of most black people in distancing ourselves from negative stereotypes, some viewed it as airing our dirty laundry in public. Did those people not think it was bit late to be concerned with that given those stereotypes were already in the mainstream?

The fact is, every ethnicity has those bad-minded few that don’t reflect the masses but do push negative stereotypes. Yet rather than acknowledge the very home truths that we need to face and address in order to progress, we’re failing to reflect and act.

In countries where the black diaspora can be found, we make up a shockingly disproportionate amount of the prison population and are subject to disproportionate racial profiling by police. The US is another kettle of fish with not only institutionally racist police forces but that being accompanied by well documented police brutality that’s encouraged by the douchebag-in-chief. In the UK, the racial profiling similarly exists against a history of tension between the police and the black community.

Racial profiling by police in the UK can’t be denied. Like most black males, I’ve been stopped by the police (something many non-blacks have never experienced). Furthermore, if they’re looking for a suspect, surely we don’t all look the same. Yet what we also can’t deny is that violent crime occurring within the black community seemingly isn’t going away. And if the police wanted an excuse for their racial profiling, that’s given it right to them.

Again, it’s a minority of black people responsible. Nevertheless, it’s enough to warrant acknowledgement and urgent addressing when black youths killing other black youths happens to the extent that it is. White youths kill each other too in the same sad circumstances that are also against a backdrop of deprivation and a lack of education. But when you make up around 3% of the population, as black people in the UK do, it becomes a much alarming reality.

I’ve previously written about the legacy of slavery on the black diaspora and the aforementioned can clearly be traced back to this. Centuries of being dehumanised and perceiving ourselves as inferior has permeated the black psyche to an extent that even today, we’ve been programmed to see the price of our own black lives as cheap (while the establishment continues to push that narrative for us and everyone else). This isn’t said to justify crime within the black community but rather to explore its deep rooted causes that have worsened with deprivation. Nonetheless, this is a problem that exists now and needs to be addressed.

Sky Sports boxing pundit and boxing historian, Spencer Fearon, tweeted his support for stop and search as a tool to address the rising gun and knife crime within the black community. That’s despite black people being eight times more likely to be targeted than white people. However, his comments came following him attending two funerals of black youths in the past month, both due to gun crime.

The disproportionate targeting of black people being stopped and searched is a clear indicator of racial profiling by the police. Although in the context of violent crime in sections of the black community, Spencer Fearon acknowledges a pressing issue that can’t be ignored. Whether or not you agree with him, it’s a necessary conversation that we aren’t having and to the detriment of our community. Meanwhile, black youths are succumbing to our inactivity on the matter while bad apples are allowed to have such an adverse effect on the community.

The experience of the black diaspora around the world is similar. We aren’t having the difficult conversations necessary to progress as a community. We have successes to celebrate which we need to build upon but we also have to address the challenges that we face. Unlike other communities, our difficulties are already in the public domain which exacerbates how negative we look to others when we fail to address them.

Acknowledgment, dialogue, cooperation and action need to be forthcoming within the diaspora. Otherwise, we’ll remain stagnant as a people and continue to succumb to the actions of the minority. Every community has them, ours are just out in the open making it that bit worse for the rest of us.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The glorification of being busy

While some of us might not like to admit it, we usually prefer to be busy than bored. When we’re bored or idling, we lack stimulation and yearn the feeling of being productive that lends itself to our self-esteem. It’s why many people struggle with depression during unemployment, without having other activities to channel their time and energy into. Being busy staves off boredom and contributes to our feeling of self-worth as rightly or wrongly we feel we have something to show for our time.

Being occupied therefore isn’t a bad thing and it’s necessary for good mental health. But the notion of being busy has changed. It’s become glorified as a measure of success or Stakhanovite-esque ideals and efforts that have skewed our perspective on what really matters. Being busy has come to falsely represent who works harder, whose job is more challenging and more important and ultimately who arbitrarily and meaninglessly gets bragging rights for the aforementioned.

By Alan O’Rourke and licensed under CC BY 2.0
Indeed, we all want to acknowledge our efforts to ourselves, and for others to do the same, as it returns to the validation we all crave from being productive. After a productive and long day at work, I might feel tired but I feel good for what I’ve achieved and that shouldn’t be a feeling we deny.Though that isn’t where said feeling stops in today’s society.

Working a long day is increasingly celebrated as a barometer for how hard we’ve worked yet it’s a Pyrrhic victory if the opportunity cost was any measure of success in our personal lives and our mental health. Many ‘successful’ people have regretted how they worked relentlessly for years, devoting themselves wholeheartedly to their work, only to later realise that they’d done so at the expense of what really mattered. Failing to spend time with family and friends that were no longer around, not pursuing personal passions or finding companionship, even in the platonic sense, had evaded them as years of a tunnel-vision approach to work passed them in the blink of an eye. At which point, they couldn’t make good on what they’d already lost in those years.

A friend and former colleague commented how they felt bad for not continuing to work into the night, on what was a day off, where they’d nevertheless already worked tirelessly for the day since the morning. We’ve now been wired to assume that we shouldn’t give ourselves a break and to do so is to be lazy. Even with the context of clearly putting in work, we don’t warrant ourselves worthy of breathing space because to pause has become synonymous with being indolent. If you consider that ideal in its crudest sense, we’ve basically been programmed to work and remain busy until burnout.

Naturally, there’s something to be said for one’s commitment to a task and we all find ourselves constantly tipping the scales of work-life balance in favour of work to meet work commitments (which doesn’t make it right either). However, we’ve now become conditioned to assume that if we aren’t busy with work, we’re slacking and should consequently feel guilty. It’s a ludicrous idea, and damaging to our mental health, that we actively deny ourselves any modicum of respite. I too have constantly been guilty of the same mindset where regardless of how long my day has been or how much I’ve managed to get achieve, I feel like I’ve let myself down by not doing more.

And it isn’t just a work where we succumb to that mindset. I’ve lamented that in the past I never really valued my time to an extent that I now do my utmost to make good on that attitude. As a consequence, rarely will I allow myself down time to just ‘be’; instead filling any free time I have in trying to reclaim those lost years. I maintain that I’m making good use of my time, particularly in the context of what I see as my previous errors. Nonetheless, there’s something to be said for allowing time to simply not be busy and providing our minds with an opportunity to unwind.

We all need to afford ourselves the mental capacity to manage our thoughts effectively and that’s only possible with an interruption in regularly scheduled programming. Although being in a constant state of preoccupation without any pause won’t facilitate that. So why are we denying such a crucial and easily attainable effort to achieve it?

The balance is there to be struck but society is causing us to fail miserably at achieving it. How often is being ‘busy’ used as an excuse for spending time with family and friends? Or a label for how fabulously ambitious one’s life is in contrast to their peers? Hard work and ambition shouldn’t be played down. On the contrary, they should be valued and celebrated but in the context of giving ourselves occasional and necessary respite. Otherwise, what are our endeavours for if we cannot enjoy them for ourselves and with others that matter?

When I die, I don’t want anyone attending my funeral who was too busy to make the effort to see me when I was alive. If your job was more important and too preoccupying then, don’t be taking the day off or finding an available evening to mourn me when we could have shared an evening together when I was actually here. Yet this is the stance we’ve adopted and it’s damaging our mental health, our perspective and our connections to people that matter.

Being idle is not the solution or the suggestion to counter the glorification of being busy. We need to achieve a balance and recalibrate our gauge on self-worth so that being busy isn’t erroneously interpreted as a contributory measure in allowing self-validation, or in receiving validation from others. It’s necessary to give ourselves respite; not only for ourselves but also for those around us.

Being busy has become a hollow trophy that society has designed to distract us from what really matters. We need to focus on ourselves, those around us and the things that matter to us rather than chasing a preoccupation that has become a distraction and a mistaken badge of honour for so many.

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Mumble rap is the antithesis of real hip hop

Within any creative sphere, the new and avant-garde is often met with resistance from the established old guard. As any art evolves, many will lament what they view as an erosion of what was once cherished by the purists. Meanwhile, the new wave will transform that notion for a new generation in a cycle that repeats itself with every subsequent era.

Hip hop is no different. Like most art, it’s been subject to transformation between generations; each with a view on what the golden era of the genre is. And that’s often followed by disdain for the eras that came after it.

That opposition lessens with time and hindsight. But right now, even with the utmost objectivity, it’s difficult to say that I will ever be able to offer acclaim to sections of the current wave of hip hop. That isn’t me hating. It’s me objectively recognising that some of the current output from the genre is eroding the art and distancing itself from the essence of the culture. The sound, look and ignorance of ‘mumble rap’, or whatever label it attracts, goes against everything that is hip hop; a retrograde step for a genre that has increased its lyricism with every successive generation until now.

New waves within hip hop have long met resistance, with the biggest detractors coming from New York as the birthplace and longtime bastion of the art. Consequently, anything that didn’t sound like what was coming out of New York and the wider east coast scene was often not considered sufficiently hip hop (ironically, today New York has barely produced a fresh new artist in the vanguard of the culture for years, still relying on veterans for their glory days as the gatekeepers of rap).

The west coast was received that way and even more so was the south when rap from their respective regions began to migrate. Though the west coast gave us NWA, Snoop Dogg and latterly Kendrick Lemar. And when you look at the south, they’ve produced some of the hardest lyricists and legendary artists within the scene period. Just look at UGK, Geto Boys, Outkast and TI as some of the most iconic acts in music, regardless of genre.

Rappers with double time flows like Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Twista were initially considered by some to be gimmicky. The same could be said for UK hip hop. It all sounded and looked different from east coast hip hop and therefore raised questions about how hip hop it actually was. Nevertheless, lyrically, it couldn’t be denied.

With the importance of lyricism progressing the art, lyrical prowess and content was the key that granted them entry and validation within the culture. It’s the same reason that for many within the culture, sub-genres like crunk could never really assume a permanent seat at the table of hip hop.

Indeed, lyricism is one of the biggest drivers behind why the new wave can’t be cosigned by the culture. Take an excerpt from Migos’ Bad and Boujee-

“Offset, woah, woah, woah, woah, woah, rackings on rackings, got backends on backends, I’m ridin’ around in a coupe (coupe), I take your bitch right from you (you), bitch I’m a dog, woof (grrr)”

It’s hardly a case of subjectivity to opine that those bars are basic and straight garbage. And I don’t even hate Bad and Boujee. I appreciate that much of today’s rap is increasingly driven by melody, thereby making lyrics somewhat redundant to some listeners, but this goes beyond that. And when you consider DJ Akademiks publicly said Migos are one of his favourite groups (rhetoric Joe Budden, like many of us, couldn’t stomach), yet didn’t like Giggs’ verse on Drake’s KMT, it’s clear that DJ Akademiks et al represent a shift in perspectives within the culture.

As an aside, I’ve not seen any feature from an American rapper get the number of pull ups or response that Giggs’ verse on KMT receives since I saw an entire club in Miami throw their diamonds up for Jay Z’s verse on the Diamonds from Sierra Leone remix. Nor do I think any current American rapper is capable of effecting such a reaction with a feature either. Not to deny DJ Akademiks his right to an opinion, but his stance shows just how accepting many from the culture have become towards a sound that previously would have been derided. Meanwhile, he thinks Giggs’ verse was “wack”. Ok then, Akademiks.

Some of the old guard have defended so-called ‘mumble rap’ as merely the sound of a younger generation making music for their time. I can accept that but it shouldn’t mean that the content lacks the substance within its narrative that has been consistent and fundamental to the genre.

Detractors of early west coast gangster rap may have criticised its content as an abuse of freedom of speech. What couldn’t be denied was that gangster rappers were enthralling us with a tale of their existence, accompanied with vivid imagery and storytelling, that remains a cornerstone of hip hop. Yet that’s the crux of what’s missing today.

Take the drug dealer tales that have become synonymous with rap. Many of those tales have long lacked authenticity but at least the wordplay, imagery and lyricism gave audiences something to appreciate. Although today everyone seems to be in the trap (which begs the question, who are the customers?). Furthermore, the now familiar autobiographical tale of the (alleged) drug dealer is both trite and lacking the narrative that made it palatable. I’ve got no issue if these new rappers have a story to tell, just enunciate it so we can actually appraise and appreciate what you’ve got to say.

I can admit to some of today’s melody driven rap piquing the interest and ears of audiences; it’s the content and disregard for delivery and lyricism that I take umbrage with. Rap is an art of storytelling. However, when you’re mumbling your ignorant ramblings, you may as well not tell your story at all. Not to mention doing so under the umbrella of hip hop is damaging the legacy of the culture and betraying its roots as a lyrical artform.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Mums rightly come first during pregnancy but let’s not forget about dads-to-be

No matter how much empathy one can offer, being pregnant is an experience that no man can fully understand. Pregnancy presents both an onus and a privilege for the mum-to-be in carrying a child. Indeed, when you consider the favourable aspects of pregnancy, there’s much of the experience to be celebrated such as the bond you’re able to establish with your unborn child and the fundamental role you play in their life before they’re even born. However, for most women, pregnancy can also present challenges as they approach the birth of the baby.

During pregnancy, your body changing means you aren’t yourself. Simple tasks such as bending down or quickening your pace become frustratingly impossible. Not to mention the effect changes in your body may have on your mental health and self esteem (particularly if you’re struggling to mentally link it to the pregnancy). There’s also the discomfort, irritableness, mood swings and anxiety, the latter being an obvious experience for most first time parents.

As much as society rightly celebrates pregnancy, for mums-to-be it isn’t always easy. Consequently, pregnant women typically receive the kudos, compassion and support they deserve for undertaking such an important role. Yet what about dads-to-be? Sure, our bodies aren’t changing therefore we aren’t experiencing the by-products of that either. Conversely, the regard for the role of men as impending parents, and their wellbeing, is given little if any weighting. Mums rightly come first during pregnancy but we shouldn’t be forgetting about the role and wellbeing of dads-to-be too.

Society has a tendency to diminish the role of fathers. Even during pregnancy, the message from society is that fathers are secondary to the mother. I’d be inclined to agree that during pregnancy a woman’s wellbeing and needs are greater than that of a man’s but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Although sadly that’s the message that’s being disseminated to those about to embark on fatherhood.

In the UK, women can take up to a year of statutory maternity leave; a generous allowance compared to countries like the US where the lack of universal healthcare provision clearly indicates how they regard motherhood. For the stress pregnancy places on a woman’s body, it’s only fair and provides an invaluable opportunity to bond with your baby before returning to work. It’s also hugely important for a woman’s mental health in allowing her to mentally recalibrate from the emotional experience of pregnancy, childbirth and becoming a parent. Alas, that’s in shocking contrast to the paltry two weeks of paternity leave available. Two weeks. It is possible to share parental leave but as the default, the perception of a mother’s value greatly outweighs that of a father.

What’s not realised is that the same mental recalibration and regard for mental health is necessary for fathers too yet it isn’t given any credibility.

Mentally, emotionally and physically, pregnancy can take its toll on a woman. Physically, that isn’t the case for man. Though mentally and emotionally pregnancy presents its own demands for dads-to-be. The anxiety that comes with being a first time dad especially is expected. Just as for mothers, it presents a huge shift from the status quo as you embark on parenthood. Will you be a good enough dad? Will you know what to do with the baby? Will you be able to manage the imminent change to your lives?

Then there’s managing the manifestation of your partner’s emotions. The mood swings and irritability are par for the course during pregnancy and the dad-to-be is likely to be a prime target whenever it’s articulated. Nevertheless, that too can be an emotionally draining experience in itself as you take it on the chin and put said utterances down to hormones, not allowing it to affect how supportive you need to be.

There’s also a frustrating helplessness in knowing that while your partner is experiencing the physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth, all you can do is offer support and encouragement. That support is undoubtedly valuable and appreciated but it’s hardly a substitute for being able to give birth yourself.

It’s only right that men step up their game during pregnancy and provide all the support that their partners should be able to expect. The wellbeing of mums-to-be needs to come first but amidst that stance, we’ve neglected to consider and support the wellbeing of fathers too. Instead, men are told in jest or otherwise that we don’t get a say in voicing any anxieties or frustrations because we aren’t carrying the child. All that does is lessen the role of being a father.

In some ways, perhaps men of yesteryear have caused this. Previously, men probably had less to be anxious about during pregnancy in a time when gender roles were much more rigid and the mental and emotional health of mothers was dismissed as a non-entity. Tending to the emotional needs of their partners wasn’t the consideration it is today and men themselves were more detached from the journey of pregnancy.

In contrast, men today are much more involved in attending antenatal appointments and classes, providing massages on tap, cooking whatever their partner’s cravings demand and generally doing anything their partner wants or needs. Not to mention picking up the slack on anything the mum-to-be is no longer able to do with the same ease as their pre-pregnant self. It might be to varying levels but modern men are much more involved than men of previous generations which is undoubtedly a positive.

That involvement requires the wellbeing of both parents to be acknowledged. Society has progressed for that to be the the case for women but it’s still not the reality for men.

Good mental health for both parents makes for better parents. If the wellbeing of mothers isn’t in tandem with the wellbeing of fathers, it continues to diminish the role of the latter in a disturbing message that has managed to permeate society throughout successive generations. If dads-to-be are supporting the wellbeing of mums, it begs the question who’s making sure they’re ok too?

We shouldn’t pretend that men have the same experience during pregnancy as women do. It’s a reality that the overall needs and changes that a pregnant woman is subject to will outweigh those of a man. But when it comes to mental and emotional health, there are bound to be some parallels. We might not be able to carry a baby but we do carry the emotions that come with becoming a parent. If we want to see mothers and fathers as equal entities within parenthood, we need to have the same regard and attitudes in ensuring that the wellbeing of both parents is supported to achieve that.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

What did we learn from Mayweather vs McGregor? Not much

In what was billed as one of the biggest sporting events in history, Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor has come and gone. It’s undoubtedly broken PPV records and generated a level of hype beyond that seen in either boxing or MMA thanks to all the casual interest. All involved with the event are also walking away with epic paydays. Indeed, as a friend put it, McGregor is walking away from his debut with a record of 0–1 yet with more cash than many fighters see in their entire careers. And Mayweather, who took the lion’s share of the revenue, of course walks away with his 50th W on his record complemented by 0 losses.

The fight played out largely as expected. That is of course if you weren’t a McGregor fanboy, or sections of the MMA media, whose skewed analysis and narrative were without doubt the most irksome aspect of the fight’s build up (that’s not referring to actual MMA fans who unlike the aforementioned actually took a measured and knowledgeable approach and analysis to the fight).

Most anticipated Mayweather would take a few rounds to shake off any ring rust, gauge McGregor’s game plan and establish his range. Consequently, he’d become more elusive to McGregor’s offensive, adopt a strategy of attrition and start landing shots at will to close the show. Despite McGregor being stopped in round 10, Mayweather could arguably have put those combinations together from round 6, when McGregor was now clearly fatigued, and with the same conclusion.

For his part, McGregor didn’t present himself as Mayweather fodder en route to a pay day. He came to another man’s sport and fought under Queensbury rules. He showed a solid chin and above all a self-belief that was second to none in contrast to Mayweather’s previous opponents. He really felt he could cause an upset and convinced many people of it too. Despite being immovable from a likely victory for Mayweather, I admittedly found McGregor’s self-belief and master salesmanship incredibly convincing. Nevertheless, he was fighting a pound for pound great in a sport that he had no professional experience in.

It would be remiss to dismiss his pedigree and success as a fighter, let alone to not expect some of that to transfer to his preparations for Mayweather. But this is boxing and like any sport there are levels. And a novice to the sport, just as a boxer would be in MMA, simply isn’t on the level of a pound for pound former champion, even in retirement. So what did we actually learn from this fight? The answer is not much that we didn’t already know.

Both fighters’ compelling promotion prevented logic prevailing for the deluded factions of the McGregor supporters who felt this was a 50–50 fight or worse still that Mayweather would fall victim to McGregor’s left hand. What they failed to appreciate was that the fight was on Mayweather’s turf of boxing. Aside from an unorthodox style that would require a few rounds to read, there wasn’t anything McGregor could bring to the fight that Mayweather either hadn’t already experienced or didn’t know how to neutralise.

To think otherwise was what caused the ire of so many of the boxing fraternity. They felt their sport wasn’t being respected by MMA fans insofar as the belief that a novice would be able to do what 49 others, who had dedicated their lives and careers to the sport, were unable to achieve.

As a result, many viewed this fight as boxing vs MMA, a notion as inequitable as sprinting vs long distance running or rugby vs football. Simply because the respective disciplines may present some commonality, that doesn’t make such direct comparisons viable. I’m sure McGregor knew this yet dared to dream for which he should be commended. Alas, many others did not.

The internet will be a better place without the fanboys whose comments, void of objectivity and full of ignorance, have littered comment sections and social media since this fight was announced. Unfortunately, still not convinced that their man was conclusively defeated, some still remain delusional.

The same goes for sections of the media. As boxing journalist Steve Bunce commented of the MMA press, some reports would suggest that McGregor’s training had transformed him “from raw novice boxer to some type of creation that is part Stephen Hawking and part Clubber Lang.” If anything, the subsequent result will perhaps in future inject some reality into such sentiments.

The dust has settled and both fighters are even richer than they already were. McGregor may not have achieved the unthinkable, in what was a lofty yet admirable aspiration. Although he has earned the respect of a boxing fraternity that has long held a chip on its shoulder with the success of MMA as a fellow combat sport.

McGregor was noble and gracious in defeat and showed respect to the sport that provided the landscape for his loss. His profile has also risen in the mainstream without an adverse effect on his stock within the UFC. Mayweather, who had less to gain besides the pay day, also leaves with his legacy unscathed and a 50th, yet meaningless (given the opposition), W on his record.

As for the spectators, they were provided with an event full of fanfare and an uneventful fight that could have been worse. And were they hoodwinked? Probably not. The outcome was there for everyone to realise from the outset. It just depends on what they chose to see.
© iamalaw

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