Great rap stories, delivered weekly.

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ISSUE 045 • JANUARY 22nd 2019
Tekashi 6ix9ine

Tekashi 69: The Rise and Fall of a Hip-Hop Supervillain

28 minute read • Rolling Stone

Stories of rises and falls generally concern people who grew old enough to actually fall from something. Sadly, in the case of Tekashi 6ix9ine, the character has barely reached his 22nd birthday that he's already discussed in the past tense. In Rolling Stone, Jonah Weiner writes the most comprehensive account of the rapper's worrisome trajectory, and deconstructs a couple of myths – especially the ones about Tekashi's work ethics.
I Got 5 On It

The Untold Story of the Man Who Sang “I Got 5 on It”

10 minute read • The Ringer

The man behind one of the greatest rap hooks of the nineties, Michael Marshall is one of those unsung heroes who never really reaped the fruits of their music. As his voice finds a new audience thanks to the stunning trailer for Jordan Peele's Us, The Ringer's Anna Lucente Sterling gets the singer closer to a spotlight that has long evaded him.
50 Cent

How 50 Cent’s revenge-soaked, hollow-tipped hustle changed rap forever

15 minute read • The Fader

In 2002, 50 Cent closed an XXL interview by saying something along the lines of: By the time people get tired of me, I'll be worth millions of dollars. He was entirely right, and we kept thinking of this line through his slowly-declining but still highly-profitable rap career. In a great essay, Paul Thompson retraces the unique destiny of Curtis Jackson, and the unbeatable flair behind his classic mixtape run.

Before there were internet rappers, there was Canibus

8 minute read • The Outline

Was the Second Round K.O. MC a blueprint for all the social media-savvy rappers of today? This might be a stretch, but the true beatury of this piece, penned by The Outline's Drew Millard, relies on the random Internet archives it excavates to reframe Canibus as a math-obsessed tech pioneer.
Missy Elliott

Missy Elliott and Her Award-winning Black Vernacular

4 minute read • Afropunk

In this short essay, Myles E. Johnson draws an interesting parallel between Missy Elliott's rhymes and a long lineage of "lyrical irreverence" in black music. "[Missy] has been a servant to how lyrics and sounds can make one feel", he writes, "knowing that even the most nonsensical arrangement of words can make sense if the feeling is right or if the mood is correct."
Fab Five Freddy

Fab Five Freddy on New York Hip-Hop and the Birth of a Global Cultural Phenomenon

55 minute read • DJ History (1998)

Red Bull Music Academy continues to host the massive archives of Their recent addition is this gigantic interview of cultural connector Fab Five Freddy, conducted by deejaying expert Frank Broughton. Their passionate conversation revisits moments, small and big, that help understand how hip-hop became hip‑hop.

How a Stroke Turned a 63 Year-old Into a Rap Legend

In The Atlantic • Recommended by Torii MacAdams

"If you sucked, the crowd at Project Blowed would shout "Please pass the mic!" A successor to the Good Life Cafe's weekly open-mic, Project Blowed was a crucible for underground rappers in Los Angeles – it was intense, testosterone-fueled, and deeply, immutably black.

Well, deeply black with the exception of Sherman "Dr. Rapp" Hershfield, a white, 63 year-old physician who, after suffering a series of small strokes, began speaking in rhyme. The improbable story of Hershfield, whose late-life passion for rapping turned him into a cult figure at Project Blowed, is lovingly detailed in Jeff Maysh's "How a Stroke Turned a 63 Year-old Into a Rap Legend." Maysh smartly avoids using Hershfield as a punchline, instead treating his subject with honesty and curiosity – the same qualities which endeared Hershfield to the denizens of Project Blowed."

Torii MacAdams is a music writer based in Los Angeles. His past bylines include Pitchfork, The Guardian and Red Bull Music Academy, where he wrote about Memphis legend Tommy Wright III.

Mainstays of hip-hop podcasts, The Cipher's Shawn Setaro and Josh Kross have announced taking an indefinite hiatus. Here's their final episode.

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