Cameron Sparks

“The Blueprint”: When They See Us, Jay-Z Sees a Billion and NBA Finals Recap

The @UpscaleIG crew chillin’ with DJ Topspin talking When They See Us, the brilliance of Ava Duvernay and Hov hits a billi! Also, Anthony Joshua gets his ass whooped, NBA Finals in full swing and another mass shooting in the US. Also, the #QuestionsForTheCulture: Would you be ok with your significant other having a side piece for their needs in an agreed arrangement? Get at us…
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“Respect The Game”: NBA Finals Preview, Meek Mill and What to Watch

@UpscaleIG talk the NBA Finals and give their predictions on who takes it all. Is Kawhi the new goat? Is Giannis a failure? Also the new developments in the Meek Mill case and the disgust for Albert Wilson case and the justice system. Add in “What’s Trending” and the latest in music and Netflix and you’ve got another cool convo. Tap in!
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2018-2019 All-NBA Teams

The NBA released it’s 2018-2019 All-NBA teams today, with many potential contract implications riding on it. Some younger, potential 1st time guys had Supermax contract deals riding on their ability to make an All-NBA team, including Damian Lillard, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker and more. Giannis name we don’t attempt to spell also had major funds riding on the decision, as a second consecutive selection makes him eligible for a 5-Year, $247.3 Million contract, which the Bucks likely wouldn’t hesitate to exercise if the Greek Freak were willing. Walker can now sign a 5-Year, $221 Million deal with the Hornets and Lillard eligible for 4-Years, $191 Million. This puts further pressure on the Blazers and Hornets to determine whether Lillard, who is victim to a playoff sweep two consecutive years, and Walker, who did not make the playoffs, are the future cornerstones of their franchise.

The All-NBA teams are as follows:

1st Team

Guard – Stephen Curry

Guard – James Harden

Forward – Giannis Antetokounmpo

Forward – Paul George

Center – Nikola Jokic

2nd Team

Guard – Damian Lillard

Guard – Kyrie Irving

Forward – Kevin Durant

Forward – Kawhi Leonard

Center – Joel Embiid

3rd Team

Guard – Russell Westbrook

Guard – Kemba Walker

Forward – Lebron James

Forward – Blake Griffin

Center – Rudy Gobert

The Upscale team got together beforehand and determined their teams. A few points of contention from the finals were Jokic vs. Embiid, Bradley Beal/Klay Thompson vs Kemba Walker and Kyrie Irving and Blake Griffin vs Karl Anthony-Towns. Many of the decisions could’ve gone either way, with Blake leading his team to the playoffs but Towns having an outstanding year (especially Post Jimmy Butler). Another razor thin decision was Jokic leading his Nuggets to a better year in a tougher conference (Lebron didn’t make the playoffs) and playing more games, while Embiid being decisively better defensively, scoring and rebounding more but playing fewer games.

Did the writers and coaches get it right?

“Girls, Girls, Girls”: Ayesha Curry, Abortion and NBA Playoffs

@UpscaleIG caught up on the latest craziness of the world including the NBA Playoffs, abortion and the fight for women’s rights, Ayesha Curry looking for her groove (hey baby) and more.

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Upscale Eats: “Salmon Nicoise Salad”

Recently we had the pleasure of trying our first recipe from our resident Salad Chef Extraordinaire, JayeSweets. She prepared a Warm Salmon Niçoise Salad with Dijon Caper Vinaigrette. The recipe, originally sourced from Lauren In Balance, was a light salad, blending flavors not typically found together including fingerling potatoes and green beans with fresh salad greens. Combined with the salmon, the dinner salad was actually right on time as we roll into summer.

 

In honesty, stepping out of my comfort zone in salad is a recent thing. This was slappin’ though, with the different combination of dinner items and greens giving me a choice of how I wanted to eat. I could go for the more typical dinner items, salmon and potatoes and green beans separate and have some salad as I went, or just be a ‘fatboy’ (*@GreenDiggidy Voice*) and eat it altogether. By the end, I chose the latter as the flavor mix went together well and I had to fight myself to not drink the remainder of dressing left. Want to try for yourself? Peep the recipe below:

 

 

Prep Time – 15 mins

Cook time – 15 mins

Total Time – 30 mins

 

Note: this will make more dressing than you will need for 4 servings of the salad, but can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 – 5 days. Optional: serve atop salad greens for an extra serving of veggies and nutrients.

Author: Lauren in Balance

Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the Dressing:

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup champagne vinegar

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tsp mayo (avocado oil-based recommended)

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp finely chopped parsley

2 tbsp capers, roughly chopped

s + p

 

For the Salad:

12 ounces salmon (wild caught recommended), rinsed and pat dry

2 tsp olive oil, plus more for brushing salmon

1 lb fingerling potatoes, halved

12 ounce bag of fresh green beans, rinsed and ends trimmed

4 hard-boiled eggs, halved or quartered

1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

assorted marinated olives of choice

salad greens, optional

s + p

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Fill a medium-sized pot (about 4 qt.) about ¾ full of water, and bring to a boil on the stove over high heat. Prepare an ice bath in a large mixing bowl; add about 2 cups of ice then fill the bowl about ¾ full with cold water.

While waiting for the oven to pre-heat and water to boil, make the dressing. Whisk all ingredients together, adding s + p to taste. Set aside.

Place potatoes on one half of a large baking sheet, toss with 2 tsp olive oil and a generous pinch of s + p. Arrange the salmon, skin side-down, on the other half of the baking sheet (I recommend putting foil below the salmon for easier clean up), brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with s + p. Once water is boiling, place salmon and potatoes in the oven to cook for about 10 – 12 minutes.

While the salmon cooks, cook the green beans. Add the green beans to the boiling water, cooking for just a couple minutes. Remove from boiling water and place in the prepared ice bath to stop the cooking process. This will ensure the beans stay crisp. The beans can be placed on a small baking sheet in the heated oven for a few minutes prior to serving just to warm them back up. If you don’t have hard-boiled eggs already prepared, you can use the same water you used to cook the beans. Add the eggs, then remove the pan from the heat, cover and let cook for about 7 minutes. Remove eggs and place in the ice bath to cool.

Serve while ingredients are still warm. To serve, divide salad ingredients evenly among 4 plates, topping with 2 tbsp dressing.

Enjoy!

 

“Passin Me By”: The Rise and Fall of Sneaker Culture

At this point. I’m almost ashamed to say I’m a “Sneakerhead.” Don’t get me wrong, I love sneakers. At least I think I do. It’s the term itself and what it’s come to be.

I was at an event this past weekend. Nothing special, just a bowling alley with family and friends. While exiting, 20 month old baby boy in arms, I see a small group of people. There couldn’t have been more than 10, young boys and girls, Asian, no older than 18 to 19 years old. To a man though were the following. Supreme hoodie, tapered pant, “Bred Toe” 1s. Off White long-sleeved tee, tapered pant, Sean Wotherspoon Airmax. Kith tee, tapered pant, Yeezy 2. Supreme NBA jacket, tapered pant, Supreme NBA Air Force 1. You get the picture, yes? Pretty much a real representation of of a Machonis animated piece. The worst part (yeah I know, but it can get worse), they didn’t even look fresh!

Yes, I’m old school. I have the same story as the rest of the folks reading this in agreement (and opposite of those who don’t). I grew up in the era of 2 pairs of shoes per year, maybe one at Christmas. Wearing shoes until the air bubble was scratched. When a foamposite was damn near alien made. Pre-comfort, Post-one style, where a weapon looked like an Air Force looked like a pro model. Granted, people really been doing this from days when my last sentence pissed folks off because of “obvious” ? distinct design differences. That’s coo, I respect that. They copped shoes to be the freshest on their block. I copped shoes to be the freshest on mine. The reason my body temperature rose 3 degrees this weekend is, the people I saw copped to…look just like everyone else??? Where they do that at?

Having not left a laptop to grab everything purchased and worn that day, has become the new definition of “Sneakerhead.” Whether it’s to collect or stunt, bots, consignment, reselling, has completely changed the game. Similar to the state of hip-hop, depending who you ask will give you a myriad of answers as to whether this is a good thing. Sneakerdom is at (or well past) it’s 808s and Heartbreaks moment in history.

The “Fuck J. Cole” record unfortunately has more legitimacy than you think? Why? Because the young boys have all the money. More than retail money. $1900 on a bot money. $800 on a tee with a logo money. Gucci Gang don’t give a shit about your “Gang Gang” or even more, zero fucks about your real gang! Who are we, those that remember shoes without nicknames, or better yet, remember living through the memories of nicknames (*cough*…I watched the Flu Game from the couch) to dictate the future of the culture. If honest, we didn’t want someone in the same kicks as us either. We just didn’t buy thirty pairs to keep you from getting one.

Flip that coin though and what does your “culture” mean with no historical context. Shoes are comfortable now because they were once uncomfortable. Shoes had original lacing, this changing the way you walked. For good or bad, this was, and is, style. People who once love(d) sneakers are no excluded from the club. Don’t believe me? See a pair of sneakers you like online, then go to your local retail store and buy them. Or hit your dope boutiques in your town. Go ahead, I’ll wait…

Yeah, “naw B, fuck outta here” is right! You thought they was $220 right? Yeah, “what you mean Foot Locker, Footaction, Champs, Niketown, Dr. Jays, Villa, Suplex didn’t have them?” is right! Yeah, “I was online at 7:01 all ready and clicked” is right! I thought you should have got a pair too! Welcome to the game. I toss people info about SNKRS the app knowing it’s the same as passing a rumor about Detox.

What do you do when so pure…so…”yours” evolves? To look for answers, you must look at comparative phenomenon. What do Brooklyn and Harlem natives do when they can’t afford to live at “home?” How do Crazy Legs and Bobbito feel when they visit Tokyo? How does Rakim feel about A-Boogie, or Beanie Sigel about Lil’ Uzi Vert? Those questions haven’t fully sorted themselves out as of yet. If trends are viewed, the past is phased out without regard for history. Murals are painted over as defamation. Uprock and backspins are removed for the shoot or the folks or whatever the YouTube of the week. Remember the dab?!? Not that long ago.

The game has changed and without help from brands, it may not come back. Nike was the number one selling sneaker brand, and by a far margin. With the recent…dare I say…hype surrounding Adidas, the steadiness of Skechers, the recent desire for luxury brands like Gucci and Balenciaga? The number two brand? Resellers! Consignment shops are replacing boutiques. Shoes that drop in December are marketed in February. Until one can walk in a store and discover something both new and coveted, the game will continue dying a slow death. Sure, money is flowing at larger numbers than ever before. And sure hype seems at higher levels than in days pre-internet, Instagram and YouTube. But the feel of the game is a hollow shell. Influencers are scripted, paid and frankly, corny. We’re far removed from the days where cats on the corner ruled fresh. Complexcon was people running to you saying “ooooohhh” with their fist balled over their lips? Now manufactured and canned “culture” is sniffed out a mile away, and called out by those who abhor it. The longing for something authentic in this game still brings the real out to the fake though, as people who show up late to the same said Complexcon leave disappointed with that same distaste in their mouths as a visual of the Paid in Full picture reimagined flooded with Supreme and Yeezys. What was once dope is now uniform.

So what do you do? When you can’t understand bots and the boutique experience is gone? When you can’t afford resell and you can’t borrow another dollar from your label? Can’t get a pair in the stores? You light a match…you blow the joint. A wise man once said “The dynasty continues, y’all die.” The question is, who is y’all…

“Endgame”: RIP John Singleton, Avengers, Game of Thrones and Beyonce Takes Us To Homecoming

The @upscaleig crew talked about the power displayed in Beyonce’s Homecoming. A tribute to John Singleton, the craziness of Game of Thrones battle in the north, word to Arya Stark! Cam nerds out about Avengers, plus more on Nipsey Hussle and outnumbered, we find out just how much women don’t give a shit about Cardi be dropping Cosby’s in folks drinks. And we hear some horror stories for the #QuestionsForTheCulture, “What could make you stop having sex midway through?” Hit us up @UpscaleIG 

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“The Marathon Continues”: Remembering Nipsey Hussle and Continuing His Legacy

The crew discusses the great Nipsey Hussle and the incredible legacy he left behind. From building community, Hear @UpscaleIG talk why this loss hit different, building something bigger than yourself and a discussion on the male ego. Also the greatness of Victory Lap and the lost potential. Plus, NBA Playoffs, Russell Wilson and “Blackness”, Cardi B, Student Loan Debt Forgiveness and more…

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#QuestionsForTheCulture: All-Town Team, Seattle’s Best High School Basketball Players

Seattle’s been the best-kept secret for high school basketball for quite some time now, putting out some of the best talents in the world. From recent standouts like Dejounte Murray and Zach LaVine to the greatest of the greats, Jamal Crawford and Jason Terry. But damn it, check up! We sat down to get to our five greatest in each era, from 1950 to 1999 and 2000 and beyond. So peep the episode and hear ours, featuring Gus and Ryland. Hit us with your lists at @upscaleig.

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“He Got Game”: It Takes a Village of Kings to Raise Kings. Lonzo v BBB, Ja v Zion and More…

After discussing from a woman’s perspective, the @upscaleig team enlisted help to have a roundtable of black men in mentorship and coaching roles. Talking through the importance of young men needing positive examples and influence, guests Ryland and Gus talk standing in the gap. From single-parent households, encouraging respect and opening opportunities, creating a healthy community is definitely at the forefront. And it wouldn’t be chillin if we didn’t talk hella hoop! March Madness, Lonzo vs. BBB, Ja vs. Zion, Trae vs. Doncic and Warriors vs. everyone. Add in a hilarious “Ignorant Shit” and you have a classic!

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