With pro teams in 3 of the 4 major sports in American is it time for the Tampa Bay Area to finally get an NBA franchise. The area is the last major market in Florida not to have pro basketball. Teams like Orlando Magic and Miami Heat where born to rivals with Tampa.
The only pro basketball in the Tampa Bay Area is the Tampa Bay Titans out of the newly founded The Basketball League. This is a new upstart league but I would hardly even call it semi pro.
For team names I was thinking the Tampa Bay Tropics paying homage to the sunny weather and already built in fan base of the Will Ferrell film “Semi-Pro”. The Secondary logo could be similar to the Heat’s MH logo featuring a TB.
The second name I was thinking could be the Tampa Bay Gasporillas paying homage to the pirate history of Tampa Bay. The area could House a giant pirate ship, and after every 3-pointer a pirate “Argh” would go off.
A Tampa could come to Tampa one of two ways. Tampa could be given an expansion franchise by the league, or a current team could relocate to Tampa. If the New Orleans Pelicans were to relocate Zion Williamson could be the face of our franchise. We could even keep the Pelicans name since it’s the official bird of St.Petersburg.
Amalie Area is a possibility to play all the home games at with a future stadium maybe being built to house both the Rays and the Tropics. A majority of basketball fans are forced to either attend Heat or Magic games to get their NBA fix but with the Tropics in Tampa Bay they won’t have to travel an hour plus. I definitely think the Bay Area is ready for pro basketball and would be open to bringing basketball to the Bay Area. “Let’s get Tropical Tampa Bay!”
As I mentioned in my previous article on Toy Pizza, the company Unbox Industries out of Hong Kong is my favorite designer toy production company. Mainly due to their collaborations with Retroband and Fern Toy.
Little is known about the production company Fern Toy but they are by far my favorite designers in the game. Their first piece the FRN001 is the Angry Mother by Japanese artist Hiroki Tsukda is reminiscent of Ancient Mayan drawings. FRN002 the Mindseye Trooper comes in collaboration with UK sci-fi artist Will Sweeney with serval variants of the character. Finally FRN003 ZZAPS is a creation of the LA based company Brain Dead bring a sort of Adult Swim vibe to the line. As of now no word on what FRN004 will be.
The work that Unbox and Retorband have done was definitely brought to a new level last year with their Splatter House line of figures all sculpted by Retroband and The Last Zectron. Together the duo makes up one half of the Deadly Delivery collective. Along with Vilesore and David Arshawsky the Deadly Delivery team brought a new twist on the blind box or mystery box format with the “Who Goes There?” series. The line features a group of gruesome figures that one can get at random or if you buy a case you receive them all.
The group is now focused on a new wave of larger scale “ Who Goes There?” figures with the first being “GENESIIS” designed by Vilesore.
A major project that Unbox has been apart of the last few years is the “Unbox & Friends” project bringing together different designers from across the globe with Too Natthspong giving his mini take on various characters such as Retroband’s “Meats” who even got his own multicolored set.
With a whole new year of product up Unbox’s sleeve I am sure the collaborations will be even better than last years. We have Unbox and Friends Wave 3 as well whatever else is under wraps.
The Tampa Bay Tornadoes look to bring Arena Football back to the Bay Area. After the folding of the once 5 time Arena Bowl champion Tampa Bay Storm, the Bay Area as been missing an alternate to the standard NFL and XFL products. Although the AFL is not defunct as of 2019, a new league called the AAL ( American Arena League) has given Tampa Bay it’s newest franchise.
I recall the storm being pretty popular around the area, with their gear being sold at Champs Sports a sponsor of the AFL at the time. Everyone loves football and along with the Vipers I feel the area will be able to handle a new area football product in the area. Arena football has a different rule set than traditional football. The field is only 50 yards and a wall surrounds the perimeter, allowing for harder hits and a faster paced game.
The inaugural season for the Tornadoes will be played at the Florida Fair Grounds Expo Hall on Saturday Nights during the summer starting at 7 p.m. The 11 week regular season will pit the Tornadoes against some of the toughest competition in the AAL like the Pennsylvania Copperheads and the Maryland Warriors. Players in the league have prior experience in the AFL as well as other arena league the IFL (Indoor Football League). As of now the QB is Brion Carnes out of the University of Northern Iowa. The coaching staff features Stevie Thomas a former Storm and other former Arena League players and coaches giving the franchise a little experience. Team owner Alton Walker seems like he is up for the challenge of running a first class organization.
As of now season tickets start at $50 and that’s for the nose bleeds. I am definitely interested in wall seats so I can be as close to the action as possible. A cool perk of being a season ticket holder is the inaugural season ring each ticket holder receives adding to the fan experience. If the team can get a few good years under their belt who knows maybe they can advance to the IFL, brining even tougher competition to Tampa when the 2020 inaugural season kicks off 4/11 against the Warriors.
Tons of great projects have come out over the years, but for me these are the ones that had the most impact on my life and the ones I listened to the most.
Honorable Mention: Travis Scott-Astroworld
This was the first project for me that Travis was able to make an album flow on all levels. From beats, bars, features this album has it all. To the smash hit “Sicko Mode” to the Leo anthem “Yosemite”, I feel like “ASTROWORLD” will eventually be looked at as a project that elevated the genre of Trap.
Honorable Mention: XXXTENTACION- ?
This spot on the list for X is basically on here not only for his classic “?” album but also for his entire body of work. After being killed in 2018, a majority of the new X projects have been over produced and commercialized. I feel he would have eventually became more of a factor in the main stream but that hard edge lo-fi Florida sound that artists like X and Ski Mask put on the map. “?” shows all sides of the artist X was and was becoming. Songs like “ I Don’t Even Speak Spanish” have a different meaning to me now and X will always be a legend in my eyes.
Honorable Mention: Rick Ross- Teflon Don
Renzel Ravioli has always been one of my favorite artists, but his biggest stamp came on “Teflon Don”. Although Ross is pretty consistent with his projects, “Teflon Don” is the only one I can play all the way through. At the time it showed you could make a mainstream trap album with big budget production. Tracks like “Mc Hammer” and the immortal “BMF” today still stand as two of the biggest street anthems. “Free Mason” featuring Jay- Z was a statement that Rick Ross could stand alongside one of the greats.
20. Lil Peep- Hellboy
This spot is pretty much a career spot similar to X. “Hellboy” is essential Lil Peep and the project that made him my favorite rapper at one point, I’ll never forget the moment I heard he died on my way to work. Even though Peep is gone is impact on Hip Hop and the Emo Rap genre is undeniable. Tracks like “Cobain” and “Hellboy” were a daily ritual a few years back.
19. Casey Veggies- Life Changes
This is more of a nostalgic pick for me. I loved this tape so much I burned “She In My Car” “Whip It”, and “Love=Hate, Ulterior Motives” on a CD that I would bump during my SPC days. Casey is the definition of what modern day mainstream West Coast Music should be dope beats and even better flows. His last few projects “Organic” and “Live & Grow” have all been solid but I’m still looking for him to drop another classic like “Life Changes”.
18. Mac Miller- K.I.D.S.
The first time I heard “Nike’s On My Frey” with my friend John we were blown away. Even though the late Mac Miller never really made a project in this style again, focusing more on an experimental sound rather than traditional hip hop. I will always love Mac for this project with songs like “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza” and “Good Evening” and “Senior Skip Day” being nostalgic favorites for me.
17. Spaceghostpurp- BMW
Had to show Florida some love on this one. Basically the godfather of the Florida Underground sound, SGP’s BMW sounds like an island paradise in the middle of hell. From classics like “Whole Lotta Icee” to “Steelo Ice” this project makes me wish SGP didn’t alienate his whole crew basically making him a recluse in the rap game.
16. Wiz Khalifa- Kush & OJ
This is the definition of nostalgic classic for me. Songs like “Memorized” and “In The Cut” were played at pretty much every house party I went to during my high school days. If they made a soundtrack for my teenage years this is probably it. “The Statement” is another gem of this one. I will always check for Wiz because of this album, the OG version not that wack one on Apple Music.
15. Kanye West- Yeezus
I’ll never forget going to see Kanye for the Yeezus tour with my friend John so that’s why this album means a lot to me. I don’t play it as much today but I can still listen to it straight through. The experimental hip hop elements Kanye went for maybe ok for main stream artists take more chances with their music. Plus the zodiac references on “Guilt Trip” will always stick with me.
14. Ka- Honor Killed The Samurai.
I am new to Ka but after binge listening to him for about a month I had to put “Honor Killed The Samurai” on the list. It’s like if DOOM and GZA combined to make a dope MC. Ka’s ability to paint visual pictures with his words is highlighted on “That Cold And Lonely” which sounds like it could be off GZA’s classic “Liquid Swords”. The comparisons samurai life and street life come together with each track.
13. Westside Gunn- Supreme Blientele
Westside Gunn and Griselda have been running it for the past two years but on “Supreme Blientele” Westside finally dropped a Mafioso Rap classic that can stand alongside classics like Raekwon’s “Only Built For Cuban Links”. The street bars combined with wrestling snippets and references made this project a no brainer to be on the list.
12. Roc Marciano- Reloaded
One of my Top 5 rappers in the game right now. “Rosebudd’s Revenge 2: The Bitter Dose” could have made it in this spot as well it “Reloaded” is probably Roc’s hardest album, due to him focusing more on sample based production on his latter work. Tracks like “Flash Gordon”, “76”, and “Emeralds” are new boom bap classics. Roc Marci bars are on another level, honestly even better than Jay-Z.
11. Nipsey Hussle- Victory Lap
The culmination of his entire career, the late a Nipsey Hussle showed the West Coast is still here with street anthems like “ Status Symbol 3”. You get the business side and street side of Nip on “Victory Lap”. It’s sad that he is gone because who knows how many more classics he would have given us, especially of the recognition from this project.
10. Curren$y & The Alchemist- Covert Coup
Curren$y is one of the most consistent rappers in the game. From “Priest Andretti” to “New Jet City”, Curren$y has classics under the belt but my favorite has got to be his first collab album with The Alchemist. I remember sitting at my desktop when this dropped. “The Type” is one of my all time favorite songs but “007” is a close second. This also marks the Fetti collaboration with Freddie Gibbs on “Scottie Pippen”. Curren$y is mad under rated still to this day, but the Jet Life will always be on top.
9. Joey Bada$$- 1999
Nothing this decade sounds quite like “1999”. Joey was some how able to totally capture that 90s boom bap sound we all know and love. I’ll never forget the moment I saw the video for “Hardknock” and I was hooked instantly. The production from Dilla and DOOM fit perfectly for Joey but Pro Era in house producers did their thing on tracks like “FromdaTomb$”. “Killuminati” featuring the late Capital Steez will always be a favorite of mine with the dope production from Knxwledge. Joey Bada$$ has never been able to surpass this album, but he gave us that “Pinky & The Brain” snippet on “Word Domination” so I’m good.
8. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib- Bandana
I’ve always been a Gibbs fan since his XXL Cover days but once he paired up with Madlib he’s become a Top 5 rapper in the game for me. “Piñata” could have made it on the list but I feel “Bandana” is a better overall project. I loved bow trap influenced Madlib’s production was. MadGibbs are this generations Madvilllan. They supposedly have a part three in the pipeline.
7. Danny Brown- XXX
I’ve never heard anyone like Danny Brown before or since he dropped “XXX”. “Atrocity’s Exhibit “ is Danny at his peak, but I have more of a connection with “XXX”. I love how in your face the project is with tracks like “Lie4” and “Bruiser Brigade”. Danny also has that trippy vibe on tracks “Outer Space” which sounds like a sixties era TV shows intro music.
6. Blu- Her Favorite Colo(u)r
For me Blu has classic albums in two decades but his 2012 project “Her Favorite Colo(u)r” is an indie rap masterpiece. Using scenes from films like “Punch Drunk Love” in the way DOOM uses comic book scenes to tie an album together. From a beats standpoint I think Blu sounds even better on his own production. The best way I can put this album is a late 2000’s indie film but on eac
5. A$AP Rocky- LiveLoveA$AP
A Cloud Rap masterpiece! Tracks like “Wassup” and “Peso” are some of my favorite songs of all time. Although A$AP has shied away from his Cloud Rap roots I hope one day we can get a full collab project between him and either SGP or ClamsCasino, that would just make my life.
4. Xavier Wulf & Bones- Lame
Another Cloud Rap masterpiece and probably the most underrated project of the whole decade. These guys created the Underground Cloud Rap/ SoundCloud scene that everyone knows today. “Persian Palace” might be my favorite song of all time. Tracks like “Acid Man” and “Bloody Gown” are also stand outs. All I know is I will be shouting “I’ve got $87 for some LSD & Weed” for as long as I live.
3. Benny The Butcher- The Plugs I Met
The album that made Benny The Butcher my favorite rapper in the game. All I need is a 7 to 10 track project that’s just dope beats and gritty street bars. Benny gives me both of those things on each track I hear him on. He hasn’t even reached the heights I feel he can go, so I am pretty sure next decade will be treating me very well.
2. Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp A Butterfly
The one and two spots could have gone either way. Both projects are really special to me. It came out around the time one of my best friends passed away, with songs like “Aight “ really getting me through hard times. I can’t always listen to this because how dense it is but this is the bar all other rappers are trying to achieve.
1. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
What hasn’t been said about this genre defining masterpiece from Kanye West. This project pushed Hip-Hop to heights it had never gone and still hasn’t reached yet. Despite Kanye’s recent output not reaching this bar, the impact his work has had on my life is great, and it mainly starts with this album.
This year was hit and miss as far as albums go. The Griselda crew definitely held it down,Freddie Gibbs & Madlib delivered, and Tyler reinvented himself. These are my Top 10 Albums of 2019.
10. Rod Wave- Ghetto Gospel
Had to keep it local and put my man Rod Wave on the list. His song “Get a Bag” is the Jit Camp anthem. On Ghetto Gospel Rod showed he could stand alongside prominent mainstream acts like Kevin Gates on one of my standout tracks “Cuban Links”. You can really feel the struggle in Rod’s lyrics and voice. It is great to finally see a artist St.Pete can get behind as our own.
9. Da$h & V Don- 5 Deadly Venoms
Naming your EP off of my favorite Shaw Bro’s Kung Fu flick had me sold from the jump. Da$h’s slick delivery meshes perfectly with V Dons grimey beats. Even the tracks released on the deluxe edition slide which is really rare to find. Songs “10x” and “Fangs” featuring Meechy Darko are the definite standouts with the latter being one of my favorite tracks of the year. I hope to see more collaborations between these two.
8. Roc Marciano- Marcielago
Roc Marciano already has one classic album with “Reloaded” but with “Marcielago” he adds another great album to his already stacked catalogue. He’s Jay Z if Jay Z didn’t go mainstream but with way better flows and bars. Definitely an unsung hero of this new boom bap renaissance, songs like “Richard Gear” are a hardcore hip hop fans wet dream. Producing pretty much the entire project except a few of The Alchemist beats, Roc definitely improved beat wise adding a few more drums then normal. Roc’s beat chops are top tier. The cold NY feel of “Ephesians” featuring KA is one of my favorite tracks on the album. KA had one of my favorite lines on the album with “ Seems the team had good genes, but wanted better denim.” This decade I hope Roc is able to get some more notoriety for being one of the best in the game.
7. Trippie Redd- A Love Letter to You 4
Trippie definitely held it down for the Cloud Rap and Emo Rap scenes with “ALLTY4”. To me this is his best produced album and when it comes to Trippie all I really need are good beats and dope flows, it doesn’t really matter what he’s saying. Some of his more heartfelt songs about love loss are done way better on this installment then previous which is shown on the track “Til The End Of Time”. Trippie also came through with some of the best tracks of the year with the Lil B dedicated “6 Kiss” featuring the late Juice WRLD and currently incarcerated YNW Melly. Next time Trippie comes to the Bay Area his performance of the Memphis rap inspired “Death” is a must. After the deaths of Peep, X, and Juice pretty much Ski and Trippie are the only ones left from the scene.
6. Smoke DZA & Benny The Butcher- Statue of Limitations.
When two of my favorite rappers randomly come together and drop a flawless short six track EP you know it’s going to be in heavy rotation. Dope beats and fire bars is really all I need in life and DZA and Benny definitely gave me that. Standout tracks “By Any Means” and “Bullets” featuring Conway start the EP of with a barrage of in your face bars. A majority if not all of the production was handled by the legend Pete Rock, who only a few years back released a collaborative album with DZA called “Don’t Smoke Rock” which I could also give my Jit Camp stamp of approval. The best thing I could say about this EP is “Thank God for Drup Rap”.
5. Tyler, The Creator- Igor
Not only was Tyler able to follow up “Flower Boy” but honestly I think he exceeded it. Nothing else right now sounds like this and that’s what makes it special. Some fans might be mad that it’s not hip hop enough but Tyler has always been on a Pharrell esque trajectory. Ear worm songs like “EARFQUAKE” and “I THINK” show that Tyler could take over the mainstream if he wanted to.
4. Griselda- WWCD
On their Shady Records debut Griselda was able to capture the magic that sets them apart from everyone else in hip hop right now. The hardest beats and the dopest bars. This album could have came out in 95 and it would in great next to Wu and Mobb Deep. Standout tracks for me where “Chef Dreds” and “Moselle”, the latter of which has one of my favorite beats of the year provided by Griselda in house producer Daringer. The beat sounds glass moving in water it’s that slick. So many stand out lines from the whole crew. 2020 is definitely going to be their year.
3. Young Thug- So Much Fun
With “So Much Fun” Thug proved he could deliver with a debut album that turned out to be his most complete project to date. Thug’s influence on the game was cemented on “So Much Fun” giving all the slimes anthems like “HOT” and “Light it Up” both of which went over great at his recent live show in Tampa. The production is a step above some of his mixtapes. Thugger and friends made the best party album of the year living up to its name.
2. Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana
I first heard about Freddie Gibbs when he was on the XXL Freshman Cover back in 2010, and since the he has grown to being one of my favorite artists of all time. From “Cold Day in Hell” to “You Only Live Twice” Gibbs has always been one of the best when it comes to heartfelt gangsta bars and insane flows. But when he joined up with Madlib on their 2015 classic “Piñata” that Gibbs started to cement his legacy. The question was could the duo follow it up with a sequel, and I’m happy to say “Bandana” delivers on that. “Half Manne Half Cocaine” is one of the hardest tracks I’ve heard in awhile, showing what Madlib can do with a trap beat. “Crime Pays” transports you into a blaxploitation films with a dope sample and Freddie’s smooth delivery. Apparently Madlib produced this entire album on his IPhone but I would have never known that. The beats on “Bandana” are a bit more abstract but Freddie still rides them all the same. Can’t wait to see if the duo drops a third album, after delivering another classic.
1. Benny The Butcher- The Plugs I Met
When I first heard this album around July 4th I knew it was going to be number one on my list. All I need is a 7-10 track album of straight dope beats and bars and that’s what Benny brings. Features from Pusha T and Black Thought validate Benny has someone on their level giving weight to the album. With production from always great Daringer and The Alchemist this project was basically made for me. “Sunday School” is the hardest song I’ve heard all year and “ I Took the Money to the Plug’s House” are two of the hardest tracks of the last decade. On “5 to 50” Benny showcases is storytelling ability ending the album off well. I would tell anyone to go out of their way to listen to this album, Benny is my favorite rapper in the game now because of this album.
Everyone has hobbies, I happen to have several. One of them being my love for independent and designer figures. Rather than use a known property indie and designer figures give creators the opportunity to make the figures they dreamed of since the sand box days. Probably tied for my favorite company along with Unbox Industries is Toy Pizza and their Knights of The Slice Line. Toy Pizza offers 3 inch figures similar to the size of a regular GI Joe or Star Wars figure.
Jesse DeStasio and Nicholas Fung are the creators of Toy Pizza and KOTS. The original three KOTS figures released as a part of Toy Pizza’s first Kickstarter where Brick, Teal, and Lime. Now after many years in the toy game the crew at Toy Pizza has added many new characters to the universe, each one bringing a new element to the KOTS lore. Each figure features the Glyos system which allows all the figures to be customizable and interchangeable, allowing us the collector the chance to make our own figures. The company is really tuned in to what the fans want even featuring a Patreon page giving supporters a direct line to the source, and not to mention tons of exclusives and goodies.
In 2019 Toy Pizza started a year long Kick Starter project called “Action Figure Of The Month” sending a brand new figure to you door every month. Sadly I was late to the party missing out on the Kickstarter but I have picked up a few AFOTM from the ToyPizza site over the holidays. This model is definitely a big hit for me, cause what’s better than getting a new figure in the mail each month?
Although I was late to the game the KOTS FB group and community is really welcoming to new members. I would definitely recommend the Patreon for anyone interested, I myself am a Lord Of The Lava Slice tier supporter. With the internet nowadays creators are able to get in touch with their consumers, ultimately giving the world doper content.
As the years go on new trends come and go. But what remains the same is the impact a creator or artist can have on a piece. In recent years the trend of DIY jewelry has taken the world by storm. From earrings to chains this so called “fake jewelry” is popping up in vending machines in Portland to going on tour with artist J.Balvin. The latter is the case for Chicago based artist and creator of imakefskejewelry.com Kristopher Kites whose chains have been seen on some of the biggest acts in the game.
With pieces ranging from anime to wrestling fans of all genres can appreciate the work Kites is doing. My personal favorites are the Sting chain and the various Naruto chains that were available on the site. The regular chains can go for around $300-$600 depending on the character and size. My favorite part about the Kites chains are the big links that surround each centerpiece.
In the past it was all about how much bling you had but now it’s about the artistry of the piece your wearing. Not only does each piece represent a character or something pop culture related but you know it was hand crafted by Mr.Kites himself making it even more special. Over the past few years Kites has held pop ups at various Complex Cons with Complex Con Long Beach 2019 featuring is most challenging pieces to date.
For me the two Kites Cases are the next evolution in Kites career. I could easily see a Goku or Akira Kites Case coming in the future. These pieces make a statement without having to be flashy. These pieces are a little pricier than the regular chains Kites offers but definitely worth it. As of now the only available Kites Case is the Sailor Moon one going for $4,000.
At the moment I do not have a Kris Kites chain of my own but I am working on it. I unfortunately missed out on the Black Friday sale he had which sold out pretty much all of his stock, which just means more pieces will be coming soon. Hopefully he blesses me with that Gigantor chain I’ve been bugging him about on IG.
Candy is a huge part of the Holiday season and this year was no exception. As I began to ravage my loot from this year I noticed one small detail while eating my box of “Nerds”, all of the Willy Wonka branding is gone and it’s just Nestle. After further investigation I was saddened to learn that Nestle discontinued the Wonka Company in 2015. I feel this is a perfect opportunity five years later to bring back the man himself Willy Wonka.
As a child I could remember my dad showing me the original 1971 film starring the immortal Gene Wilder. After the film we went to Walgreens in search for the holy grail, a “Wonka Bar” containing a golden ticket. Soon after it was all about the new stuff like the underrated “Nerds Rope”. I can still remember seeing a cartoon Wonka in commercials for the new Wonka candy.
Not only could the Candy be rebooted bringing back the coveted “Wonka Bars” and “Ever Lasting Gobstoppers” but production studios could also create a new film or series to tie in with this new reboot. This new reboot I feel could be a big hit if done right. I would like to see Eric Andre cast as the new Wonka, making the series a bit more crazy it would take place in the factory with Wonka creating a new confectionary treat for the world to enjoy.
To go even further the series could tie in a golden ticket contest that would send some lucky winners to either a newly built Wonka factory or just rebrand the “Toothsome Chocolate Emporium” found at Universal Studios. All the original characters like the Oompa Loompa’s will be there because who else is gonna run the factory. Maybe even some new characters or creatures could be added for some new flare.
With that being said now is a perfect time to capitalize on nostalgia. That Tim Burton reboot from 2005 really hurt the franchise. Hopefully in the upcoming years their will be another chance for a poor boy from a small town to get a golden ticket.