TYSON 2.0

My Tyson preoccupation is something that crops up time and time again here. That’s unlikely to subside as Mike’s career takes some curious turns. Bear in mind that I once turned down the opportunity to party with Christian Hosoi to attend a preview screening on ‘Tyson’ just in case the big man attended (my very own pop-cultural ‘Sophie’s Choice’). His Oscar season viral videos indicated that he’s got an innate aptitude for comedy, but I’m hooked on the Animal Planet ‘Taking on Tyson’ show too.

A pigeon-based reality show simply frameworks some introspective moments that complement Toback’s documentary perfectly. It’s also been hugely educational in explaining the appeal of racing these feathered athletes. Last week’s remark from Mike that people thought, “This guy is a dreadful, offensive cad!” on seeing his ‘90s antics matched the talk of stomping out Don in front of decrepit old white ladies. You enter Tyson 2.0’s entertainment outings with a smirk, expecting a freakshow, but you come out enlightened. I’m pleased to see a happier individual on my screen.

The Nintendo ‘Punch-Out’ game represents a fair amount of my late childhood, and I was amazed to see that a group of fanboys purchased the ROM of the mysterious and unreleased ‘Mike Tyson’s Intergalactic Power Punch’ a couple of years back. The rape trial and quality issues meant that this game never came out as it was meant to. Dropping in 1992 as the flop ‘Power Punch II’ without Don King and his hair and with Mike replaced with “Mark Tyler” (around the same time, Mike Tyson-alike M. Bison in ‘Street Fighter II’ would be renamed Balrog due to legal concerns), it just wasn’t the same. While it’s available as a free download, the $30 cartridge is what you need in your life. Tyson punching aliens is high concept stuff indeed.

 

Tyson’s ad-libs on Canibus are the sole highlight of ‘Bis’s career. Canibus is beloved of the kind of people who think a raspy-voiced rapper babbling about UFOs is Nobel-calibre. They belong to the same group who purport to have submitted essays on Ras Kass’s made-up history of mankind ‘Nature of the Threat’ as degree projects. Jesus Christ. Now he’s back, claiming Premier worked with Christina Aguilera circa 1998 and ethering himself with a bizarre attack on Mr. Christopher Martin. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, but I believe an ill-fated 2004 photoshoot truly destroyed Canibus’s career.

The Dismasters ‘Black & Proud’ cover, the Dre Wreckin’ Cru era images that Eazy used to wield, Weezy looking like he was being bummed by a cop in a condom ad and that pauseworthy XXL Soulja Boy/Boo-Boo cover seem downright sensible compared to these images.

Did he demand some “Bollywood ’97 steez” attire from his stylist? “Kraków nightspot ‘07 styles”? That belt, the jacket, the savage levels of boot cut…and that buckle. Did he refer to himself as “The black Richard Hammond” back then on a record? These pictures still perplex me. What the heck was going through his mind when he broke out these garments? For a notoriously tin-eared MC like Canibus to pop shots at Premier after these shots seems doubly ridiculous. I’ll take that same old scratched Nas line and plodding piano over some bloke rasping about supermathematical illuminati armies (I just made that up) or whatever he talks about any day.

I don’t care much for UK rap. I try, but it’s either some old shite sampling hit records from 1990 with a baffling level of immunity (this is because most people are pricks) or a slightly squalid clone of the southern rap in my iTunes library that — as UK rap has always done — wants my coin just because I’m meant to support my own. Fuck that. Where did I put those Waka Flocka MP3s again? It wasn’t particularly good during the last 18 years or so either — just lots of people with group names like Elevated Mindz (apologies if that’s a real group name) talking about how bloody British they are and how they devastate mics. That Skepta video with the tagged in but from a Ben Dover looking production is excruciating. It makes the post-watershed ‘How Do You Want It’ promo look like ‘Caligula’ by comparison.

The ragga crossover stuff gets a pass though — it still sounds hard. Shouts to Scary Éire’s DJ Mek for his ‘UK Ragga Hiphop Mix.’ For some reason West Indian culture permeated UK rap with a greater success rate (RIP SMILEY CULTURE) than those terrible ragamuffin moments that sullied decent US LPs and mixtapes (word to Mad Lion, Lil’ Vicious and Red Fox). This mix is a lot of flashback fun and a fair amount of it holds up better than what came next. Break out the suede Champions and have a listen:

www.djmek.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/remedy-for-the-black-ash-blues

The excellent Grey Skateboard Magazine (not to be mistaken for Grey fashion magazine) has reached issue #4, with a launch party happening right now, plus a screening of some nighttime skate movies, including ‘Minuit’ and Grey’s own ‘Grey Nights’ film. The teaser alone indicates why Lucien Clarke is a badman. I’m also liking Mr. Sam Ashley’s Palace Skateboards in NYC pictures a lot too.