When Tupac was riddled with bullets just off the Las Vegas Strip in 1996, yet another city was added to the long list of those that have claims on him: Baltimore, Oakland, New York, Los Angeles, Marin City.1 As the list's last entry, Las Vegas became the one people would least like to remember. Strangely, the city already had a street named after him—or so it would appear to us now. Developed in 1990 (according to the real-estate site Zillow), Tupac Lane was likely not named for the man who was then just another member of Digital Underground. (Though it seems almost as odd to suppose it was named [...]
Early this year, John Patrick Leary, a professor of American literature at Wayne State University, published a story in Guernica called "Detroitism" about, primarily, the two competing journalistic and artistic narratives about the Motor City.
There’s the Detroit Lament, which he describes as an examination of the city’s decline that is mostly told through the examination of physical spaces. You may have heard it referred to as "ruin porn." And there’s the Detroit Utopia, stories which purport to show a new way forward for the city, be it through urban farming, $100 homes or bicycling. (Utopian depictions of Detroit, Leary noted, tend to involve young creative white people.)
Back in July, in assessing the sudden prominence of awful beverage Four Loko in rap, we decided that "rap songs about consumer goods will never be the same again." But there were bigger things on the horizon for Four Loko. In New York, the Latin Kings forced their rape victim to chug 10 cans of Four Loko before torturing him. Out west, a bunch of Central Washington University students "over-dosed" on the drink. New Jersey's Ramapo College has banned it from their campus. To put it mildly, and to stress the least important part of these stories, Four Loko has had a rough month for [...]
I guess my favorite part of this Bloomberg TV segment on our McRib v. pork market exposé (besides the fact that they talked to actual pork futures analysts!) is when they bring McRibs down to Occupy Wall Street. (That really happened!) I'm guessing they just didn't show the part where the vegans threw them back in the producers' faces? TV is amazing.
Jesse Kramer is a 24-year-old freelance writer, of sorts, but one whose talents are actually in demand. Right out of USC, with a major in Business, Kramer started a business called Rap Rebirth. It's a one-stop shop for all your rap needs. Jesse will help you punch up your rhymes, hooks, metaphors and similes; he’ll write you anything from a 16-bar verse to a whole album. He can even make you sound like Drake, if you want (odds are you will, apparently), and his business just might pose a problem to academics who want to make a name off of treating rap as something it is not.
There has been much commiseration lately over the perceived decline of hip-hop. It's bad because it's fully transitioned to pop, say some. It's bad because of The Internet, say others. To me, this seems to be a whole lot of misplaced nostalgia. Do these people really want to return to the early 90's-so they can hear Cypress Hill on the radio? Or maybe the late 90s, to catch a guest verse from Fiend or C-Murder on some No Limit clusterfuck of a record? The 90s were not some paradise for commercial rap where mainstream radio played UGK, Heltah Skeltah and Mac Dre all the time; most commercial rap sucked in [...]
One of McDonald’s most divisive products, the McRib, made its return last week. For three decades, the sandwich has come in and out of existence, popping up in certain regional markets for short promotions, then retreating underground to its porky lair—only to be revived once again for reasons never made entirely clear. Each time it rolls out nationwide, people must again consider this strange and elusive product, whose unique form sets it deep in the Uncanny Valley—and exactly why its existence is so fleeting.
The McRib was introduced in 1982—1981 according to some sources—and was created by McDonald’s former executive chef Rene Arend, the same man who invented the Chicken [...]
Last month, while I was making a friend a mixtape of my favorite 50 rap songs, I knew that I was bound to want to kick myself after sending it to him (and, foolhardily, publishing the list here) because I was surely forgetting something. I was proven right later that very week, when I saw that Awl contributor Willy Staley (who had censured me for including so few Californian rap songs on my list) had made his own list, "The 50 Greatest Bay Area Rap Songs," for Complex.com. Sure enough, right there at no. 1, deservedly, was "I Got 5 On It," by the Oakland duo [...]