Alright February! We see you. Big first week for Black History Month in the MMH universe. We review the highlights and then dive into the week ahead–Young Dolph’s Rich Slave (Deluxe), Judas and the Black Messiah, and Bucks-Jazz!

Good morning everyone! We’re a week into February. How’s it going so far?

We’re still mired in COVD, but I feel like we’re on an upswing. No coup attempt, no Trump, the Senate passed a $1.9 trillion dollar COVID relief bill that was only possible because of the Georgia runoff! It was a damn big week in the MMH universe; the Golden Globe Award nominations came out, Phoebe Bridgers smashed her guitar on SNL, Steph and Joker both dropped 50 pieces in losses, and The Weeknd performed the biggest gig of the year.

Here are brief takes on all four:

Golden Globes: The Globes were typically all over the place. I’d never even heard of a movie called “Music.” Feels like I probably should… Great to see Promising Young Woman getting so much love. That’s a powerful film that Leah wrote a wonderful review of for us. I love seeing three women nominated for Best Director! Honestly, if Hamilton wins Best Musical or Comedy, I don’t really care what else happens.

Phoebe Bridgers: If you missed it, here is the performance. First of all, I love her music. “Motion Sickness” is one of my favorite songs from the last handful of years. “I Know The End” wasn’t a standout to me, but the horns gave it great Santana energy. As for the smash, I thought it was rad and the hate is super dumb.

My only critical response is around the aesthetic of the smash. She never fully “smashed” the guitar. Def chipped it. She kept hitting it against the monitor. Maybe she should have gone for the ground? With a little more space to leverage the power of gravity, perhaps it would have yielded more epic results.

Steph and Joker drop 50: I love Steph. I love Joker. I don’t care that they lost.

The Weeknd: Okay that was a thing. I was a bit concerned I didn’t know a ton of The Weeknd’s catalog and that proved to be true. So I was just kinda along for the ride. It sounded great, but he wasn’t singing, right? I wanna give shouts, I thought it was cool how they took advantage of the circumstances. That golden hallway/room was really cool. And having the stage embedded in the stands, which allowed him to go onto the field, was super fresh. Well played.

Music /// Young Dolph Rich Slave (Deluxe)

Memphis’s Young Dolph released his 5th studio album Rich Slave in August 2020. But in late January he returned with the Deluxe version of the album, which expands the tracklist from 16 to 24 songs including new collabs with Key Glock and Kenny Muney. This album is fantastic.

Young Dolph has been on the rise since bursting onto the scene with 2016’s King of Memphis. But with Rich Slave, it feels like he’s arrived. His flow is effortlessly smooth. He threads that needle that only masters like Jay-Z have achieved where every word is so clear and in the pocket while still sounding laissez-faire. The ease at which Dolph spits is central to his greatness. It’s reminiscent of LeBron getting switched onto a small defender, it’s like he’s not even trying.

Last week I wrote about Gary Clark Jr.’s “This Land” and the racist encounter with his neighbor that inspired this song. Incredibly, Rich Slave (Deluxe) also features a powerful track titled “This Land.” Dolph picks up where Clark left off:

The police pulled me over for nothin’
Just because she racist (damn, man)
Two minutes later, it’s five police cars
They got me face down on the pavement (goddamn, man)
Just ’cause I’m a black man in America (what about it?)
That’s what give ’em permission to treat us terrible (hell, nah)

Dolph kept it local with fantastic production from Memphis producers BandPlay and Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J. The album sounds sharp and focused with southern-style beats providing an epicness and swag for Dolph to live in while the understated arrangements allow his vocals to remain front and center.

Accompanying the Deluxe release, Dolph dropped the video for “To Be Honest.” Love the Deion Sanders cameo!

Movies /// Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah, directed by Shaka King and starring Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, and Jesse Plemons, premieres on HBO Max on Friday! Can’t wait! This film tells the true story of William O’Neal (Stanfield) befriending and ultimately betraying Fred Hampton (Kaluuya), the leader of the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. O’Neal is an informant for the FBI, personified by Plemons’ character Roy Mitchell.

This film is a critical rave. “Judas And The Black Messiah is one of the best films of the year. Seen through King’s ruthless vision and backed up by Kaluuya and Stanfield, the film is shocking, tragic, striking, and bold.” writes ComicBook Debate critic Sheraz Farooqi. On Rotten Tomatoes the film is at a jaw-dropping 98%.

The Chicago Sun-Times affirms the praise of the cast, “Every performance, whether it’s the leads or a one-scene wonder such as Howery, is masterful. Jesse Plemons (“Breaking Bad,” “The Irishman”) has the chameleon qualities of a Philip Seymour Hoffman, and he’s at the top of his game as Roy Mitchell, who is horrified by J. Edgar Hoover’s racism but doesn’t flinch at requiring O’Neal to provide him with a floor plan of Hampton’s apartment in advance of the raid.”

And I couldn’t agree more. I love this big three! Daniel Kaluuya became everyone’s favorite horror hero when he jumped off the screen in Get Out. I love Atlanta and LaKeith Stanfield’s Darius is one of my favorite characters on television. It’s been absolutely amazing to see him blast off like a rocket. And man, I remember Jesse Plemons from Friday Night Lights! To see Matty Saracen’s bff go on to land roles in The Irishman, Vice I’m Thinking of Ending Things…it’s wild!

Hoops /// Bucks vs. Jazz

The Milwaukee Bucks will visit Salt Lake to take on the Utah Jazz on Friday, February 12 at 9:00PM ET. At 19-5, the Utah Jazz are the #1 seed in the Western Conference. What?! And we’ve left the “Kings starting 5-0” territory, we’re a legit 30% into the season! After Gobert contracted COVID and gave it to Mitchell, it felt like their rift was unrecoverable. To be here 10 months later… did not see this coming.

The Jazz have the 3rd best defense, 2nd best offense, and are leading the league in point differential at +12.0 per Cleaning the Glass. These numbers scream “championship contender.”

So where is this coming from? While they’re both having typically great seasons, it’s cannot be attributed to a jump from Mitchell and Gobert who basically have identical statistics to last year.

The Jazz faithful should definitely thank Sixth Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson, who has transformed from a one-dimensional/semi-joke into a guy who has really found his role. He’s averaging 18-4-2 and shooting just shy of 40% from three on EIGHT attempts/game.

Then there’s “maybe he’s washed?” Mike Conley who has rebounded from a 14-3-5, 40% FG 2020 season to 16-4-6 this year on 45% FG. And check this out, the Jazz have outscored their opponents by 9.0 points per 100 possessions when Mike Conley is on the court. They are outscored by 14.7 points when he’s off the court. That 23.7 net point difference is the biggest by any player in the league this season per Stat Muse. Alright, Mike.

The Milwaukee Bucks have been a slightly different story. Last year’s runaway #1 seed in the Eastern Conference are 15-8. Though they are on the upswing as winners of four straight, they are a ways away from their historic 2020 campaign. 23 games into last season they were 20-3 and riding a 14-game win streak.

Last season’s Bucks dominated the regular season on their way to a +9.8 point differential and the league’s best defense. This year they have dipped to the league’s 8th best defense. But due to incredible shooting up-and-down the roster, they actually have a better point differential at +10.4.

Khris Middleton is making 50-40-90 look easy as he cooks for 52% FG – 47% 3P – 93% FT. Jrue Holiday is giving them a nice first season in Milwaukee, putting up 16-5-5 on 50% shooting. And then say what you will about their offseason moves, but the new guys are hitting shots. Brynn Forbes, D.J. Augustin, and Bobby Portis are all shooting over 40% from three this season.

This is not a nationally televised game. So you will need League Pass or a venture into sketchy streaming world to catch this banger.