Uh oh! The Philadelphia Eagles and rap music in one post? Did your head just explode? Let's get to it!
Basically, what I want to do here is come up with ten observations/thoughts/issues related to the Philadelphia Eagles, while framing these around the recent "Hottest MC's List" from MTV. Hopefully by the end, we'll have a somewhat coherent narrative describing the current state of this Eagles team. Or not. Let's find out.
10. Meek Mill - Bryce Brown
Maybe my favorite (and actually the only) Meek Mill story I've heard is about his alleged beef with Philadelphia reverend Jomo K. Johnson. Things got so hairy that the pastor called upon the power of God and his Philly residency and "REVOKED MEEK'S 'HOOD CARD.'" Facing the biggest obstacle of his budding career (besides, you know, jail time), Meek took the issue head on, publicly debating Johnson, and was able to move forward to create a meaningful game-changer like "Polo and Shell Tops" (this was supposed to be sarcastic, but that song's actually pretty good).
Bryce Brown finds himself in a similar situation as Meek did (just go with me here). Brown has the ability to be a big time football player for the Eagles as a versatile compliment to Shady McCoy. But, as everyone knows by know, Bryce is as good at holding onto the football as Robert Swift is at housesitting. Until Brown can learn to carry the ball securely, I'm revoking his "Hood Card" on behalf of Philadelphia fans everywhere (I'm sure he's very concerned about this). If he shows improvement in that area this year and becomes the long-term stud we hope he can be, I might consider giving it back.
9. Future - Chip Kelly
Much like Future, Chip Kelly "woke up in a new Bugatti" when he agreed to take the Eagles job. Maybe I'm acting like a biased Philadelphia fan (I'm not ashamed if I am), but I think the Eagles are still one of the most talented teams in the NFL. Kelly did an excellent job of maximizing his talent at Oregon, but he's obviously unproven at this level (having zero experience will do that to you). Somehow, Future got onto MTV's Hottest MC's list by doing a bunch of raspy auto-tuned features, but will he have any staying power? In the same way, is Chip Kelly the long term solution to steer these Eagles in the right direction? There's only one way to find out.
8. A$AP Rocky - Nnamdi Asomugha
Clearly, Rocky's been a huge success in the hip-hop world, and not just with his raps; he's all over the fashion industry and he's done crossover work with Skrillex. But really, is he that great of a rapper? A$AP is all kinds of popular right now, and his music is extremely catchy, but are there any memorable bars that you can think of? Was there ever a verse you heard from him that you just had to run back?
I think Nnamdi's stint with the Eagles feels the same way. Here's a guy who came in with basically the highest reputation you could have as a corner; hell, teams were actually afraid to throw to his side of the field. Asomugha was always involved with the community and charity work, which is great, but when it comes down to it Eagles fans would rather have a guy who dogfights as long as he can throw touchdowns (which, in Vick's case, is debatable).
So here's the point - will A$AP's somewhat inflated reputation come back to haunt him when people stop caring about his fashion impact? Nnamdi's already at that stage of his career; any credibility he had is gone, and until he proves that he's an elite corner again, teams are going to pick on him as much as they want.
Contrary to popular opinion, I think Nnamdi will stay with Philly this year. I don't think management has given up on him, and he still hasn't had a proven defensive coordinator or other secondary players to work with. And really, who else would want him? Why not take the pay cut and work your tail off to redeem yourself, then go get another big contract?
7. Kanye West - Desean Jackson
Apparently, Kanye freaked out about his place on this list in an absolutely hilarious way, because in Kanye's world, he's always the best. Sound familiar, Desean Jackson? DJ10 (Did I just make that nickname up? Oh well.) was so confident in his abilities that he sabotaged his season two years ago in order to be paid like a top receiver, promised big things when he got his new deal, then didn't come through. In fact, wouldn't an appropriate title for Jackson's last two years be Cruel Summer?
Basically, Kanye and Desean Jackson have the same self image. They both think they deserve to be treated like the best in the game, but haven't done anything to prove it. Getting Kim Kardashian pregnant doesn't make you a hot MC, and doing stuff like this doesn't make you a premier wide receiver:
It's time to put up, or shut up, Desean. Philly's tired of your crap; we can only listen to The College Dropout for so long.
6. Big Sean - Nick Foles
First of all, did you ever think anyone would be dumb enough to compare Big Sean to Nick Foles? I'm an innovator baby. Anywho, Big Sean has been a growing rap star, getting big time features with Kanye West and Jay-Z, and doing just well enough to create hope for his future. The only album he has to his name is Finally Famous from 2011, and his next one won't come out until June of this year. Yet, for some reason, everyone is really high on the guy. See where I'm going with this?
Nick Foles has won ONE NFL GAME in his career, with a career passer rating of 79.1. But for some reason, he's a big time trade chip, and just about anyone you ask believes he can be a very good quarterback in this league. Where does all of this hype come from? Who knows, and luckily for Foles he can hide behind Vick for now (similar to how Big Sean could hide behind HOV and 'Ye), but the fact is that he'd better deliver on his potential before people lose patience.
5. Drake - Brandon Graham
As Drake says, Brandon Graham "started from the bottom now we here." Graham dealt with ACL and micro-fracture knee injuries his first few years in the league, but last year when he was healthy, he showed really great bursts of speed, athleticism, and potential. Can Graham take the next step and become the stud speed-rusher he was expected to be when he was drafted?
(Yep, that was the best Drake connection I could think of - this is harder than it looks, okay?)
4. Nas - Demeco Ryans
In my opinion, Nas is the greatest rapper who has ever lived (in fact, when I write my hip hop book, which at this rate will probably come out 25 years from now, I'll defend this stance in detail). Somehow, he's lasted through the ever changing hip-hop climate without ever changing himself or selling out. To me, he's just as great now as he was on Illmatic (or at least not much worse).
Demeco Ryans was an absolute stud linebacker for his first few years on Houston, but then he got hurt, and when he came back he couldn't adjust to a 3-4 defense. So, the Eagles stole him with a fourth-rounder to use him in their 4-3, and Ryans was successful, but with Billy Davis' arrival and the reported shift to a hybrid 3-4, where does that leave Demeco? Can the established, respected veteran make the switch to stay current, or will the Eagles have to dump him like Houston did?
Nas has been able to adjust over and over again, and still be the same amazing MC he's always been. Only time will tell if Demeco Ryans can do the same.
3. Rick Ross - The Eagles' Offensive Line
Is there any better way to describe Rozay than "Boss?" It just feels right. Rick has risen to absolute hip-hop royalty, but at this stage in his career, he's in danger of plateauing. God Forgives, I Don't was meh, and although he's the king of MMG and everything that comes with it, at some point you have to give credit to the other people involved with the group too.
Similarly, the Eagles' offensive line was absolutely spectacular two seasons ago, but last year it was obviously a disaster (if I ever meet King Dunlap in person, I will fight him; I don't care how tall he is). How much of that was due to injuries and bad offensive scheming, and how much was because the Birds' linemen were just bad? Has the Eagles' once stellar line aged to the point it can't stay healthy, or can it rebound and become a strength for this team?
Personally, I think that Jason Peters will come back healthy and will be at least very close to where he used to be, which will instantly make this o-line very effective. If the Eagles go get someone like Eric Winston (or draft another lineman), they could have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. In the same way that Rick Ross will have to re-prove himself at some point by actually making stellar music again, the Eagles offensive line must get back to form if this team wants to have a shot at competing in the near future.
2. 2 Chainz (aka Tity Boi) - Mike Vick
I don't hate 2 Chainz, I swear. With that said, I don't think he's a great rapper, and I think his popularity is due more to his image/persona/flashiness than his actual lyrical skill. Alas, Chainz is so popular that he's ranked above the greatest rapper who's ever lived, the Teflon Don, and perhaps the best producer alive. For whatever reason, people can't stop listening to him or paying attention to what he does. Also, do you know how old 2 Chainz is? He's 35! Should a middle aged man really look/act the way Tity Boi does?
For the entirety of Mike Vick's career, coaches have been infatuated with his skill set and athleticism, and thought, "Well I'm a good coach, I can definitely work with this!" But it never works. Eventually, Vick reverts back to his reckless, helter-skelter style of play, with calamitous results. Vick insists that he has changed his study habits to prepare better than anyone, but has it shown? Have you ever seen Vick come to the line of scrimmage, read the defense, identify the blitzers, and adjust the play? Me neither, and I haven't missed an Eagles snap since high school.
Furthermore, Vick is 32, which is like 78 in quarterback-years. If/when Vick goes back into his comfort zone and starts chucking/scrambling, will his aging body respond well enough to cover up his careless tendencies? Vick's basically in the same boat as 2 Chainz. They're both aging stars with some real flaws, and I think their runs are going to end sooner, rather than later. Maybe 2 Chainz can learn how to be lyrical before his surface appeal wears off. Maybe Vick can figure out how to play quarterback responsibly in Chip Kelly's offense. But I doubt it. When you're 32+, it's hard to change who you are.
1. Kendrick Lamar - The Eagles' First Round Pick
If you've read anything I've written about hip-hop music, I have a bit of a rap crush on Kendrick. I'm not sure I've listened to anything other than him or J. Cole in the last calendar year. Good Kid, M.A.A.D City has not left the CD changer in my car, and I highly doubt it will anytime soon. And here's the awesome thing about Kendrick: he's only 25. He's absolutely taken over rap in a way that's meaningful, poetic, and artistic, and he's just getting started. Fifteen years from now, we might be looking at Lamar's first album as this generation's Illmatic. No pressure, Kendrick.
In the same way that Kendrick Lamar is poised to become the next big thing in rap for the next decade, the Eagles need to find that piece in this year's draft. Teams rarely are able to draft this high (unless you're the Detroit Lions or Cleveland Browns), so when you do, you have to hit this pick out of the park. What I mean by that is that the Eagles need a guy who will be a stud for them for the next 7-10 seasons. They need a guy who will instantly create a strength for this team at his position. If that means the Eagles get an offensive lineman, a cornerback, a linebacker, or a quarterback, so be it; but they'd better get it right. As the first meaningful talent evaluation in the "Post-Reid/Howie Roseman takeover era," this pick will create a tone of success or failure within the organization for years to come. No pressure, Eagles.