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Great rap stories, delivered weekly.

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ISSUE 057 • APRIL 23, 2019
 
Kanye West
CONVERSATION

Yeezus Christ Superstar

10 minute read • The Ringer

It was almost a year ago. Kanye West had picked the red pill, adjusted the MAGA hat and transformed into a right-wing edgelord, eating Trump's dragon energy and fighting PC Culture along luminaries such as Tomi Lahren and James Woods. Fast forward to 2019, and Kanye now finds himself at the top of an artificial Coachella hill, leading the choir on Easter Sunday. A unique occasion to discuss faith, redemption and overpriced merch: for The Ringer, Micah Peters and Rembert Browne try to make sense of Born Again Kanye.

+ In The New York Times, a Jon Caramanica in rare form reviews Kanye's church service : At Coachella, the Gospel According to Kanye West
Nell's
ORAL HISTORY

Nell’s: An Oral History of the “Cultural Laboratory” Beloved by New York City’s Downtown Elite

36 minute read • Red Bull Music Academy

Opened in 1986, Nell's is one these famed New York clubs where music, high-low cultures and celebrities collided. It's also a place of pure mythology, with Prince showing up to perform P-Funk songs and Biggie picking the spot to shoot the "Big Poppa" video. In a terrific oral history, Vikki Tobak speaks to former patrons and DJs (including Clark Kent and Stretch Armstrong) to remember Nell's' heydays and nights.

+ Vikki Tobak is the author of Contact High, A Visual History of Hip-Hop
Tekashi 6ix9ine
REPORT

The Making (and Unmaking) of Tekashi 6ix9ine

13 minute read • Vulture

In January, Rolling Stone published a detailed story on Tekashi 6ix9ine's rise to fame, and his (still ongoing) downfall. Vulture follows up with the prequel: writer Amos Barshad travels to Slovakia, where the Brooklyn rapper first built his notoriety by linking with "Bratislava's Sean “Puffy” Combs", a.k.a. Yaksha, the head of local imprint FCK THEM. A story that hints at what a Europe-friendly Tekashi could have become.

+ A seasoned rap writer, Amos Barshad recently published his first book: No One Man Should Have All That Power
BACKSTORY

The Music of the Murders

7 minute read • The Bitter Southerner

Between 1979 and 1981, thirty Afro-Americans, most of them children, were kidnapped and killed in Atlanta, Georgia. "The Atlanta Child Murders were one of the darkest times for the city’s post-Civil Rights Movement generation" writes Dr. Joycelyn Wilson in an essay that evokes the scars left by the killings on the collective psyche, and their traumatic presences in some of Andre 3000's verses.
 
Nipsey and YG
ESSAY

Nipsey and YG

12 minute read • Fader

What could have been another Coachella live report becomes, in the hands of Jeff Weiss, a contextualization of gangsta rap, a critique of corporate festivals, a political act of defiance, a love letter to local rap heroes, and a heartfelt eulogy. That such a remarkable piece of writing can be put together in barely two days makes it even more powerful.
 
Old Town Road
ANALYSIS

The “Old Town Road” Controversy Reveals Problems Beyond Just Race

16 minute read • Slate

Will we get tired of stories about "Old Town Road"? Probably not, especially when a charts expert like Chris Molanphy chimes in. In a commentary packed with great trivia – "Road" is the shortest number 1 hit since 1965! – the Slate writer digs into the incredible complexity of Billboard's charts methodology, and sheds light on some of the reasons why music formats exist in the first place. A fascinating read.
 
Illmatic
THROWBACK

Miss Info on Nas, Illmatic and The Source

16 minute read • NPR (2014)

In April 1994, Minya Oh was not yet the hip-hop media personality known as Miss Info. She was "Shorty," an unpaid intern at The Source. Between making copies and transcribing interviews, she happened to review Nas' debut album, which would soon become the definition of an instant classic. Back in 2014, Miss Info shared her vivid memories of Illmatic – the album, the review, and the moment.

+ "I must maintain that this is one the best hip-hop albums I have ever heard": here is Miss Info's original 5‑mic review of Illmatic.

In case you missed it: The O'Jays have reviewed Cardi B, Travis Scott, Sheck Wes and Post Malone. Frankly, it's irresistible.

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