The problem for living legends is that they have to live with their legends. This is especially so when their legend was a product of their youth and its mindset, which they outgrow, becoming legendary, but which you still see in them, knowing their legend much more than you know them. Imagine Achilles enfeebled. Imagine his pain and confusion if, having grown out of his strength, he looked still like a breaker of men.
Like this is Nas, who became famous with his second album, in 1996, but who made his name with his first album, "Illmatic," twenty years ago, and likes to rap about how he still [...]
"Yeezus," the new and almost pathologically anticipated Kanye West album, was leaked online two weeks ago and then, probably out of custom, released legally last week. Upon first listen it reminded me of Nine Inch Nails, Death Grips, and my dad—but not because West now has a two-week-old child with girlfriend Kim Kardashian.
When my father was in undergrad at a small HBCU in the Midwest, he joined the storied black fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. Fraternity chapters, despite their ethnic and regional differences, will nevertheless always share some DNA, and so it shouldn't surprise you that my dad's frat was big on giving people nicknames. Some brothers were called things [...]
Few musicians move so fluidly between genres as drummer and producer Karriem Riggins. As a jazz sideman, Riggins has played with jazz artists like Diana Krall, Milt Jackson and Oscar Peterson while simultaneously contributing beats and productions to records by Common, J Dilla, the Roots, Erykah Badu and others. 2012 has been a particularly fruitful year for Riggins. It began with his appearance on Paul McCartney’s most recent record, Kisses on the Bottom, in which the former Beatle covered and channeled the prewar pop songwriters that he listened to as a child. And in October, Riggins released his first solo LP, a kaleidoscopic instrumental hip-hop album called Alone Together, on [...]
At a performance last August, the deliberate and sharply dressed emcee, who is also well known as an actor, announced his “official transition” to a huge audience gathered in the parking lot of a popular pub and pizzeria in Anchorage, Alaska: “My professional name will be my chosen and my legal name, which is Yasiin Bey. … And I don’t want to have to wait for it to be in Source or Vibe or someplace. I figure, we’re all here. We can see each other.” And then he spelled it out for them: “Y-A-S-I-I-N, first name. Last name: B-E-Y.”
When a few Alaskans made some disapproving noises, Bey responded, [...]
The text at the beginning of Drake's video for "HYFR"—"On October 24th 2011 Aubrey 'Drake' Graham chose to get re-bar mitzvah'd as a re-commitment to the Jewish religion … the following is a clip displaying the event that took place"—can be taken as seriously or sardonically as you want. Drake's much-anticipated "bar mitzvah" video, released on the first night of Passover, was originally hyped on the web as a "re-creation" of his original childhood ceremony. We get actual footage from baby Drake’s celebration at the intro, but beyond that, this is a music video staged at a bar mitzvah. If we hadn’t been told in advance that it means [...]
Consider this: according to Discogs.com, about 800 remixes were released in 1983. In 1990, more than 4,000; in 2000, almost 15,000. And in 2010, there were 22,750 remixes released, an increase of more than 450% in twenty years. Not surprisingly, as that number has leapt up, remixes also have come to represent a much larger share of what's being released: in 1983, they accounted for 2% of all releases; 7% in 1990; 17% in 2000; until, by 2010, a staggering 20% of all releases were remixes.
How did we get to the point where a one-hit-wonder band from the '90s like Marcy Playground can release an entire [...]
When I was in eighth grade, I was madly in love. But the girl, who I wanted to marry and sometimes wrote sad poems about, didn't feel the same way. So I decided to prove my love with a mixtape. For me, music was (and still is) the most intense force in the world, so I thought this would truly make her reciprocate my affection. I set my plan in motion by stealing my oldest brother's Motley Crue cassette, putting pieces of tape over those tiny holes so I could record over the screeching of Vince Neil, and adding songs to my mixtape that would show just how great I [...]