Posted inEditor's Pick

The Confessions of a Conscious Rap Fan

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 […]

Posted inEditor's Pick

In Search of Chad Hugo

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 […]

Posted inEditor's Pick

What Lies Beneath Hip-Hop’s Swagger

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 […]