Friday, February 05, 2010

10th Anniversary of Big Pun's Death; I just lost a hundred pounds, I'm trying to live."

"I just lost a hundred pounds/I'm trying to live."
Like a prior generation with JFK's death, I remember exactly where I was when I learned of Pun's passing. I had just copped the Post from the deli in Broome and was walking up Centre past Hoomos Asli. Of course, the Post wrote the story up humorosly. And I admit, I kinda chuckled at the news. It wasn't exactly a surprise at that point as the word was that he was close to 700 pounds. A few years later, we saw him in his last film role in "Urban Menace," motionless in his chair in every scene, wheezing his words like a sad Don Corleone or Muttley the cartoon dog. Which makes the words and feeling of "It's So Hard" so poignant. No mention of Big Pun and his legacy is complete without the sad, shocking and infamous story of him pistol-whipping his wife.

There's no doubt that his brand of catchy, poppy street rap would have propelled him to great success in the 2000s had he lived. He had mainstream appeal, yet was so well thought of by true heads that myths multiplied about rhyme books he left behind. Fat Joe himself was forced to defend himself against allegations that he built his career on ghost-written Pun rhymes on the (sincerely) epic Ja Rule/Fat Joe/Jadakiss track "New York."

There's no doubt that Fat Joe enjoyed a late-career renaissance in the years following his one-time protege's passing. And there's no doubt that every rapper since that has parlayed street cred into mainstream club-bangers owes him a debt.

Bigger Oscar Change Than 10 Best Picture Nomininees.

The Oscar nominations came out this week. The big change this year was to double the amount of nominees to ten. The stated reasons for this change are to improve ratings and to reward more popular fare. The sports analogy would be to increase the amount of playoff teams. Every league has done this to varying degrees of success. The NCAA is currently considering a proposal to expand March Madness to 96 teams.

The risk is losing credibility. An award is only as strong as the respect it carries, lest an Oscar become a Spike TV award. Of course, the Oscars can't have much credibility left after awarding Best Picture to "The Departed." 10 movies are a lot to keep track of and compare to one another. What do "Avatar" and "The Hurt Locker" have in common besides directors who once boned? Seems as if the Golden Globes, in dividing movies into categories, do it better. By doing so, the Globes allow all kinds of movies to get their shine on without having to compare a well-done comedy to a well-done tearjerker to a well-done historical drama. Worth noting that the Oscars have historically completely excluded comedy and action movies.

There's a bigger Oscar change that's been given scant attention. Up till this year, every Academy voter made one choice in each category, the choice with the most votes won. This year, the Best Picture will be chosen by a preferential voting system wherein voters rank their best picture choices from 1 to 10. Under this first-past-the-post system, which is similar to voting in some parliamentary democracies, each movie will be ranked by the number of first-place votes, if one film has more than 50% of the votes in the first round then it is the winner. With 10 choices, this is unlikely, so then the movie with the least first-place votes is tossed and its voters will have their 2nd-place choices redistributed amongst the remaining movies.

Rinse and repeat until one movie gets past 50%. This could create a scenario where a movie wins Best Picture despite not being chosen 1st by the most number of voters. Or, as the LA Times pointed out, a repeat of the 2000 presidential election. Headache.
pics courtesy of Life Magazine