Winning Combinations
30

Kanye’s '808s': How A Machine Brought Heartbreak To Hip Hop

Part of a series on collaborations that we now take for granted but initially made little sense.

Hip hop’s lyrical narrative often gets unfairly abbreviated to being about nothing more than posturing and persona, a never-ending series of mostly meaningless boasts about how nice my rhymes sound, and so on. That’s been a component of the story for a long time—recall Sugar Hill Gang’s proud pronouncement, in 1979, that “I got a color TV, so I can see/the Knicks play basketball”—but hip hop verses are also a place for confessions, specifically for those of black men. There's a reason, for example, that Scarface once wrote a song [...]

8

"We Are The World": When Michael Jackson Got Political

Part of a series on collaborations that we now take for granted but initially made little sense.

In November of 1984, Band Aid, an impromptu UK super-group organized by former Boomtown Rat Bob Geldof and pop mercenary Midge Ure, released "Do They Know It's Christmas?" The charity single, intended to aid the famine in Ethiopia, sold 3.5 million copies, making it the biggest-selling UK single until "Candle in the Wind '97." The song's massive success showed that there were sound commercial reasons for marrying pop music to charity causes, a now-familiar union. In this, it preceded, but was ultimately eclipsed by, the American iteration: USA for Africa's "We Are the [...]

20

Laura Dern Is Our Only Hope For Bringing David Lynch Back

The first in a series on collaborations that we now take for granted but initially made little sense.

Fans of David Lynch are accustomed, by now, to the half-decade wait. It took five years after Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me unjustly bombed out of theaters in 1992 before we received Lost Highway. Later, once Mulholland Drive completed its strange, tortured path to realization—from stillborn network teevee pilot for ABC to a New York Film Festival premiere!—Lynch’s IMDB page indulged another similar gap when it came to feature-length projects. That streak of inactivity was only broken when INLAND EMPIRE smeared its digital abstractions and idiosyncratic willfulness (all-caps title included) across [...]