“In partnership with his longtime collaborator, Dave Free, the greatest rapper of his generation is pushing himself — commercially and creatively — onto unexpected terrain.”
“It also spawned his biggest hit—an underdog anthem that lives on through commercials and sports arena sound systems to this day.
This week, our editors recommend notable features and essays by Jackie Flynn Mogensen, Justin Heckert, Gloria Liu, Sharon Levy, and Mychal Denzel Smith.
Mychal Denzel Smith’s musical upbringing sounds a lot like mine: copious amounts of hip-hop that was deemed “underground,” “backpack,” or (perhaps most conspicuously brandished) “conscious.” Elitism disguised as authenticity. Yet, with the recent returns of Black Star and Kendrick Lamar, Smith found himself unmoved — and in this crystalline essay, he unpacks exactly why. The […]
For music fans of a certain age (that certain age hopefully being 14 to 94), Chad Hugo is a legendary producer: half of The Neptunes, along with Pharrell Williams. Yet he always played the back — and has receded even more so in recent years. Hugo’s reticence may never fully give way in this profile […]
Over the weekend, The New York Times Magazine published a twist on its annual “Songs That Matter” package: “Songs That Got Us Through It.” The newest is overall a remarkable project, stuffed with keen criticism. But Smith’s piece, which feels for the pulse of aggression in today’s and yesterday’s hip-hop, stands out — as bracing […]
“I think attention, or the lack thereof, during one’s career has the potential to make or break one’s journey. And during the times when there was less attention on me, it was just what I wanted and needed. But what happens when you have something that propels you from one level of celebrity to another […]
Killer beats, huge hype, and failure to follow through.
“Joy Priest creates a Southern rap soundtrack of the cars, songs, and forces that sculpted her sense of freedom and confinement coming of age in Louisville, Kentucky, in the early 2000s.”
“He grew up lower middle class and toiled away at menial jobs while chasing his dreams—the lone white boy battling in an almost entirely Black environment. The plot of 8 Mile was Vanilla Ice’s story first.”