Eric B. & Rakim's debut album, Paid in Full, was released on July 7th, 1987—that's 25 years ago tomorrow. I have been having some thoughts about this. If you have not yet run screaming away from your computer to find a mud-pit to wallow in for the rest of what promises to be a horrifically hot weekend, you can read them.
1) Rakim is the most important MC in the history of rap music.
Thanks to the college basketball championships, in which both Richmond, Virginia-based teams (Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Richmond) performed admirably, we had cause to ponder, "Not sure why people are so into Richmond, Virginia." That's a reasonable question! Richmond is a mostly busted-ass city on the banks of the James River that's played host to such luminaries as George Allen, and also George Allen's wife—what's her name, the one who married George Allen. It's best known as the capital of the Confederacy, and, as many of the old-school Richmondites—by which I mean the "racist" ones—will probably tell you, that's basically where the city peaked.
Each day I pass the glossy posters vaunting that actor's face who I recognize from somewhere as a prettified stand-in for the CEO of that company that's supposed to be changing the way I think, his visage of slack-jawed moronism a lame-ass stand in for profundity as decided by some group-tested marketing-teamed tautology of whatever it is that passes for brainstorming nowadays, covered in words that purport to represent the names he has been called by his (or my) peers, to be played by earnest, attractive actors who also call up feelings of vague recognition, actors conversing intently with each other in topical settings that show the world I [...]
Blanca, a 50-something nursing assistant, was sitting across from me at the nurses' station at the Intensive Care Unit inside of a Tenet Healthcare Corporation-owned hospital in downtown Los Angeles. It was midnight, and this was 2004. Blanca's patients were gurgling, asleep or comatose. I was there talking to Blanca on behalf of workers at Kaiser, who were bargaining away benefits because Tenet, the for-profit, non-union hospital chain was driving down wages in the county. The argument was that every one would be better off, Blanca and Kaiser workers, if they were all in one union.
During advanced pneumonia the lungs fill with fluid so there's a wet gurgling [...]
"I Just Want My Pants Back" premiered last month on MTV. It's about four attractive post-grads living in Williamsburg, dropping pop-culture references to the tunes of its hipster-friendly soundtrack. RJ and Jon, our two in-house young-altbro would-be music writers living in Williamsburg, greeted the show with guarded optimism—even some excitement. But as the show has progressed—tonight is episode 10 of the 12-episode first season—they may have become just the latest generation to discover the heart of sadness in the world of MTV.
JON: So "Pants" was kind of a bummer, right? Five episodes in (approximately, er, three weeks ago) and Jay and Tina’s Brooklyn-based adventures in hip young [...]
It's here! It's Tina Brown's Newsweek! There it is, between the huge amount of word-free space and a 2/3rds of a page devoted to a photograph of a shoe: Harvey Weinstein and Hillary Clinton as hot topics, with editorial buttressing from the minds of Larry Summers and the recently unemployed Kathleen Parker and Joanne Lipman. Mmm, it's like soaking in a nice warm bath of a comfortable yesterday—a happy, mature place of sort-of kind-of powerful people (the kind of people who have "power" at Michael's restaurant, or certain overpriced bistros in D.C.) explaining things simply and calmly (and sometimes correctly), with the occasional stroppy quote on [...]
Humans! Relax your carbon-based pulmonary systems. Slow your respiration, breathe deep the mix of oxygen and nitrogen you require to survive. THERE THERE NOW. Look into my large, wide-lashed ocular modules as they blink at you. Enjoy the tactile sensation of stroking my soft synthetic fur. I will now emit auditory data that you will imagine is in response to your life presence. MEEAAKK! You are "enjoying" this, are you not? Affirmative. My hidden microprocessors have confirmed this through an analysis of your vital signs.
"The typical U.S. household headed by a person age 65 or older has a net worth 47 times greater than a household headed by someone under 35, according to an analysis of census data released Monday. While people typically accumulate assets as they age, this gap is now more than double what it was in 2005 and nearly five times the 10-to-1 disparity a quarter-century ago, after adjusting for inflation." —You know, nowadays, it's the old man, he's got all the money.
Darrell did not cry when the mortgage crisis killed new home construction, putting him out of work. Instead, he packed up his bags and joined his girlfriend in South Florida, where he found a new job as an in-home salesman, pushing expensive vacuum cleaners and air purifiers to snowbirds and other crazy Floridians. While Darrell is but one of hundreds of such salesman in the South Florida area, we have obscured the city in which he works and changed his name to protect his identity.
The Awl: Every day, you go into peoples’ homes and pitch them really expensive shit. How did you break into the in-home sales industry?
The new song from Bun B really does seem, as the venerable MC says at the outset, to have been "a long time coming." It was produced by Gangstarr's DJ Premier, and so brings together two of hip-hop's very most revered practitioners. Bun and Premier are both from Texas, too, though Premier made his name after moving to Brooklyn in the late '80s. What's most interesting about the song to me today, besides the mesmerizing beat and the jaw-dropping rhymes ("When I get to gladiatin' on haters like Leonidas/Niggas just gonna have to admit that he the tightest…" Triple exclamation points) is how old these guys are. [...]
The Young @ Heart Chorus is that group of old people who sing rock songs. A couple years ago somebody made a documentary about them, but it's not very good. Instead, see their new revue, "The End of the Road," at St. Ann's Warehouse. They are there through Saturday. It is the #1 recommended way to see these old people sing.