Excerpted from The Believer’s new book, Confidence, or the Appearance of Confidence: The Best of the Believer Music Interviews.
The below interview is excerpted from The Believer’s new book, Confidence, or the Appearance of Confidence: The Best of the Believer Music Interviews. Thanks to The Believer for sharing this with the Longreads community.
* * *
‘Music Is a Mirror of What We’re Going Through, Not the Cause of What We’re Going Through. It’s a Reaction, It’s Our Only Weapon, It’s Our Only Way to Protect Ourselves, It’s Our Only Way to Fit, It’s Our Only Way to Get There.’
Before rap music, New York might as well have been:
A thousand miles away from a thirteen-year-old Ice Cube
* * *
Once upon a time, the name Ice Cube was analogous to explicit lyrics, guns, women as “bitches,” South Central, and attitude. Bad attitude. Not to mention mind-blowing rap music wrapped in raw emotions. But those were Ice Cube’s teen years, before he married Kimberly Jackson, became father to four kids, and turned into a true Hollywood player. A legend long before he turned thirty, Ice Cube, together with his fellow N.W.A. members, revolutionized not only the rap/ hiphop genre, but all music, by making it OK for musicians to speak their minds and then some.
In celebration of its 10th anniversary, The Believer has just published a handful of classic stories for the first time on the web, and they were nice enough to share them with the Longreads community. Enjoy:
Eddie Vedder Interviewed by Carrie Brownstein (June 2004)
“Crimes Against the Reader” (Rick Moody, April 2005)
“Transmissions from Camp Trans” (Michelle Tea, November 2003)
“Welcome to the Almost Cult-Like Fan-World of American Women’s Pro Basketball” (Stephen Burt, May 2005)
Zadie Smith Talks with Ian McEwan (August 2005)
In celebration of its 10th anniversary, The Believer has just published a handful of classic stories for the first time on the web, and they were nice enough to share them with the Longreads community. Enjoy.
I’ve always been fascinated with religion, Russia, and missing persons stories so these five nonfiction pieces really captured my attention this year. The fallout from The New Yorker‘s Scientology piece turned out to be as compelling as the essay itself—and I had to put The New Yorker on here twice because the recent piece on Vladimir Putin is spectacular and continually evolving. Paul Collins’ piece on missing Barbara Follett was utterly haunting and Paul is a master of uncovering long-hidden mysteries. Everyone should check out all of his work, and I’m sure many have after reading that piece. And really, for the other two, who can turn away from secret cults and dead bodies found on beaches? Not me.
Say what you will of Ms. Love, but she’ll always have a fan in me.
I found myself endlessly quoting this piece on screen legend Lauren Bacall.
NY Times’ fascinating obituary of Loretta Young’s illegitimate daughter with Clark Gable, Judy Lewis.
Share your own Top 5 Longreads of 2011, all through December. Just tag it #longreads on Twitter, Tumblr or Facebook.
How the parents of two autistic sons found—and lost—faith in the alternative medicine movement.
In The Believer in February, 2014, Michael Schulman wrote about one of the most dramatic and memorable failures in American branding: Coca-Cola’s OK Soda. Marketed to Gen X’ers in 1994, the OK Soda brand died by 1995, though its artifacts live on in collector circles and advertising lore. As ’90s fashion and music cycle back through popular culture, this epic story of food, failure and the secret heart of youth culture highlights the arrogance of business people who think they know what you want and how to manipulate you into buying it.
When OK Soda was introduced, of course, Coke executives were certain they had it right. Drawing on a study from MIT, the company had pinpointed what Generation X was all about. “Economic prosperity is less available than it was for their parents,” Lanahan theorized. “Even traditional rites of passage, such as sex, are fraught with life-or-death consequences.” Tom Pirko, a Coke marketing consultant, told NPR, “People who are nineteen years old are very accustomed to having been manipulated and knowing that they’re manipulated.” He described the soda’s potential audience as “already truly wasted. I mean, their lethargy probably can’t be penetrated by any commercial message.”
How to sell soft drinks to such people? The answer was to embrace the angst. Coke turned to Wieden + Kennedy, the ultra-hip Portland, Oregon, ad firm that had devised Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign. The agency’s pitch has become the stuff of soda lore: research had shown that Coca-Cola was the second most recognized term in the world. The first was OK, which, the firm pointed out, was also the two middle letters of Coke. So why not combine the two? The drink was christened OK Soda, and its semi-reassuring motto was “Things are going to be OK.”