In this video, I make an impassioned defence of the human rights of Chelsea and England footballer, Ashley Cole. My speech, while being rather rambling, covers off most of the salient criticisms made of this most misunderstood of Premier League stars – the move from Arsenal to Chelsea, the lovemaking, the gun incident.
Please do watch and let me know what you think. I want to hear all sides of this most pertinent debate. However, ultimately, what I am looking for is greater tolerance and understanding of our well-paid footballers, particularly Ashley.
There were, however, some remarkably arguments in opposition to Ashley. This video below shows how it is only through going out into the community and talking to people face to face that you really get to understand where some of this dislike stems from
With the passing of Nate Dogg, the g-funk era has well and truly ended. It is time to remember the remarkable, revolutionary impact of Nate Dogg, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and indeed the whole of Tha Dogg Pound, on popular culture.
Let us cast our minds back to the early 1990s. Pop music was very different from what it is today. Phil Collins and Bryan Adams bestrode the charts like ageing warriors of middle-of-the-road rock. Kylie Minogue was a fixture in the UK top 10. Mariah Carey was just beginning her trilling rise to pop notoriety.
The rap music scene was burgeoning, but some of the artists held views which we can now see were wildly off-kilter. Some rap groups used the art form to promote radical political views, feminism even (Public Enemy); others, even more troublingly, sought to advance the cause of peace (De La Soul). It is shocking to us in the 21st Century, but these groups rarely, if ever, described women as bitches, or black men as n*ggaz.
With these groups dominating hip-hop, it was clearly the time for an alternative. Yes, there were tireless, hardworking folk such as Ice-T and Ice Cube advocating traditional American values of misogyny, homophobia, gun-love and laissez-faire capitalism. But these rappers, while essentially having the right approach, were too rough-edged for the mainstream.
If rap was to take over, something had to change. A new approach was needed. It was time for g-funk. Enter Tha Dogg Pound.
To all but the most underground fan, the key moment was the release of Dr Dre’s Chronic album in 1992. This album effectively ushered in g-funk, which used George Clinton and other classic funk samples with Dre’s beats, while giving the young Nate Dogg and Snoop Doggy Dogg room to express the full range of their talents.
A good example was Deeez Nuuuts, which featured, Snoop, Nate, Warren G and Daz (it has never been confirmed whether Daz was named after the washing powder – however I use the product to put a g-funk spin on my household chores).
While the rest of the chaps were spitting truth from the booth, the crucial role Nate Dogg played was delivering the gangsta lyrics in the innocent, honeyed tones of a classic soul singer.
So when Nate came with the inimitable line:
I can’t be faded, I’m a n*gga from the mothafucking streets
It made the heart soar, and nourished the soul. It was Nate who converted gangsta rap from being for hardcore fans only, to something your grandmother would dance to at a wedding reception.
Like many great artists who have died, the media has boiled his long and distinguished career down to just one moment: his work on the Warren G megahit, Regulate. There’s no doubt this is one of the greatest songs of all time, but Nate Dogg’s career went far beyond that.
I am fond of his contribution on Bitch Please, but particularly the follow-up, Bitch Please II, on Eminem’s Marshall Mathers LP.
Nate’s chorus went like this:
You don’t really wanna fuck wit me Only n*gga that I trust is me Fuck around and make me bust, this heat
With Snoop’s rejoinder:
That’s, the devil, they always wanna dance
I can also strongly recommend his work with Knoc-turn’al on Str8 West Coast, Ludacris (Area Codes) and of course Just Doggin’ with Tha Dogg Pound, from a packed discography.
So what was Nate Dogg’s impact? While he was often the sideman, it was Nate’s voice which meant that a generation of young gentlemen could listen to rap music which their girlfriends could find acceptable. The girl could convince herself that Snoop didn’t say what she thought he said, while the chap would be perfectly sure what was being said, roll a blunt and act upon it.
For me, Nate Dogg is a modern version of the old blues shouter, Jimmy Rushing, whose theme tune, Jimmy’s Blues, could be seen as the ancient template for Nate’s style.
When the dust has settled on his untimely death, we will remember a man who helped bring misogyny and gun-love back into fashion again with his once-in-a-generation voice.
Now I know there are a lot of people out there who favour ‘conscious’ hiphop over gangsta. Conscious is basically an umbrella term which covers ‘intellectual’ through to ‘preachy polysyllabic bollocks’. The essential difference is that it is substance over style, whereas g-funk was the other way around.
While I don’t mind a message in the music I listen to, when you live in suburban London and work in an office you want to listen to something with a bit of swagger to get you motivated to stare at Outlook for another eight hours. It acts as a thrilling counterpoint to my fairly tepid existence. I do like Saul Williams and Mos Def, but I prefer the gangsta shit.
Nate Dogg went for the gusto, the style, and he’s one of the big reasons rap is the dominant force in music it is today.
Massive love to Nate Dogg. All those up in the heavens: you really do not want to fuck with him.
There have been so many malicious words written about you in the media that it is time to set the record straight. There are a lot of sad people who take pleasure in other people’s troubles. They have a name. They are called haters and this letter is my chance to help fight these evil folk who try to destroy your good reputation. While I have only seen you on telly, I believe I know the real Ashley Cole. I can see beyond the lurid headlines to the good person you really are.
Of course, you have had your problems in life, just like all of us have.
Yes, you had to walk out on Arsenal when they only offered you £56,000 a week to play football for them.
Yes, you fell in love with and married a foul-mouthed Geordie woman notorious for beating a cleaner in a nightclub.
Yes, you cheated on that same wife with several women.
Yes, when you had sex with one of those women you had to stop having sex to vomit on her cream rug, before finishing having sex with her.
Yes, you texted other women pictures of your erect penis as a way to seduce them.
And yes, you shot a work experience boy at Chelsea’s training ground at point blank range with an air rifle.
What infuriates me is how people are so quick to judge you on the basis of these incidents. Who stops to ask what Ashley Cole’s side of the story is?
So you left Arsenal for Chelsea because they weren’t prepared to give you enough money. This is a simple wage dispute, like any other. People, hurtfully, called you Cashley.
They ignore how hard you work. You train for two hours every day, and play in matches once or even twice a week. In those matches you run up and down the left flank, making tackles as well as finding time to swear at referees. This is not easy. Not easy at all. Those sanctimonious, Guardian-reading nurses and teachers should try it some time. Then they will realise you are well-paid but not unfairly so.
So you married Geordie lass Cheryl Cole, a woman primarily known for lip-synching on telly and getting slutty tattoos more often than she eats. Well, the path of love is not something we can predict or do anything about. Yes, I would have preferred it if you had met someone more appropriate to your intellect. Kerry Katona, perhaps. But no man can criticise another’s love matches. You loved her, she loved you and you sealed your love in a well-publicised photo shoot for OK! magazine. Those pictures, in front of the white Bentley, truly showed that love is blind.
After time, you ‘cheated’ on her. Well, I say this. You, Ashley Cole, are a young man with a lot of love to give. I don’t think you should be criticised for spreading that love around. Christians spread the word of the Lord. You spread your semen. There’s surely not much difference. It’s all love and if the haters can’t understand that, that’s their problem, not yours.
You texted pictures of your penis to women. The old-fashioned romantic in me does wonder whether dinner and a movie is not a more appropriate seduction method. There again, I am not as busy as you are. We live in a digital age and in 50 years’ time, people might look back on your texting your erect knob to a bird with a message saying ‘want some?’as the height of chivalry. We should leave that for history to judge.
Most recently, there has been this gun incident. Yes, you shot a student. He was hurt. However, you explained you were only ‘larking about’ and apologised afterwards. You made a mistake but got the matter sorted. I hope the police desist from their unseemly investigation of this perfectly explicable event.
A GREAT MAN
In conclusion, Ashley, I would say this. You are a man. A great man. And like all great men, you rightly refuse to kowtow to society’s expectations. Other Premier League footballers would have sought gagging orders to stem the flow of kiss’n’tell stories, or embarked on a PR campaign to show the public a more sympathetic side to their character, perhaps building schools in Africa or something. You could have stayed faithful to your trophy wife, or at least not cheated on her in a manner that necessitated the co-operation and silence of several poorly-paid underlings. But you don’t because you know this:
You, Ashley, are really good at football, which means you have an absolute right to do whatever you please.
When people discover that I am a vegetarian, they are often surprised. They look at me and find none of the deathly pallor commonly associated with the veggie.
When conversing with carnivores, I concede that I haven’t been one of ‘them’ for that long, only about three years.
Put at ease, they become fascinated by me as a specimen. Their scientific and sociological impulses are aroused. How can I, all healthy looking and energetic, be a veggie? They want to know how it started. The story goes like this.
Back in 2007, I was living in Brixton with my friend Dan. He is from Wigan, the pie-eating capital of the UK, and probably the world. He’d been brought up to regard vegetarianism as something weird that southerners get up to, like dogging. It was beyond his comprehension.
In our happy Rushcroft Road flat, Dan and I would cook for each other (sweet, isn’t it?). He would roll in from work and pop some chops under the grill, or I’d roast some chicken breasts. He was quite advanced as Wiganers go, and only ate pies or sausages three or four times a week. We occasionally grilled salmon, as a nod towards cholesterol levels and a healthy lifestyle.
Things were going fine. The household was steady. But for whatever reason, I became unnaturally attracted by vegetables, to the point that I saw them not as a side dish, but the main part of a meal. I started making pasta with vegetables for dinner, or perhaps a tomato risotto. Dan was a tolerant fellow and put up with it.
One day, however, he came home and excitedly showed me some sausages he’d picked up from Moen’s, the posh butcher’s in Clapham. I said that I didn’t fancy them, at which point his equanimity broke.
‘ARE YOU A VEGETARIAN?’ he said, using the v-word as a pejorative.
‘I think I might be,’ I said quietly, eyes downcast.
‘Oh,’ he said. Neither of us expected that.
‘Does this include fish?’ he said hopefully.
‘I don’t know.’ It was all so new.
‘So you don’t want these sausages, then?’
I shook my head.
‘Well, what are you going to eat?’
‘Some vegetables, I suppose.’
Then, like all big news, it became a matter of telling people. I told my mother, who told my father. She took it in her stride. I’d dabbled in environmentalism, which she knew can lead to vegetarianism. She saw it as an opportunity to cook different meals, expand her repertoire.
My father, however, is northern, from Leeds, and wasn’t prepared at all. He was as unsettled as Dan by this turn of events. I imagined him sitting at home, casting his mind back across the rearing process and wondering where he had gone wrong. Had he shown rather too much interest in some sprouts in the early years? Not finished a second portion of roast beef? He would have concluded that his carnivorous credentials were impeccable, and blamed my mother for being ‘soft on the boy’.
My first Christmas as a vegetarian was a fraught affair. Blood relations kept asking me ‘what are you going to eat?’ in worried tones. They believed my vegetarianism to be a sign of a deeper malaise, a mental unravelling of some sort.
I assured them in a ‘there’s-nothing-to-look-at-here’ way, that it was all right. I’d just have the vegetables, thanks. My mother heaped roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, red cabbage and carrots on my plate and wondered whether I had enough, eyeing me nervously throughout the meal.
With time, my nearest and dearest realised the new me was very much like the old. I was still the same greedy bastard they’d known before. I still ate as much as I possibly could on any given occasion. Apart from the meat.
Dan and I went our separate ways a few months later. I can’t say the vegetarianism didn’t play a part. However, and this shows the live and let live attitude of the man, we remain friends, despite my unorthodox lifestyle.
What probably saved the friendship between me and this connoisseur was that even if I am unduly fascinated by the aubergine, I still like to tuck into the cheese and wine. And, as I like to say, without the meat, you have far more room for a good bit of Stilton.