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ISSUE 051 • MARCH 5, 2019
Face tattoos

How Face Tattoos Turn Unknown Teens Into Internet Stars

19 minute read • Vox

In 2011, when Gucci Mane introduced his ice cream face tattoo, the news caused a minor media frenzy, and some even wondered about Gucci's mental stability. Years later, what was once confusing has basically become the norm (check the pictures below for confirmation). For Vox, writer Kaitlyn Tiffany covers indigenous cultures, the dot-com boom and SoundCloud Rap – with face tats as "low-cost advertisements for careers that haven’t yet taken shape" – to tell a detailed analysis on the ink's mainstream takeover.

Welcome to the Meat Show: Blueface on Being the Viral Rapper the Kids Are Busting it Down to

9 minute read • Billboard

What could have been a generic rising star profile becomes, thanks to L.A. writer Paul Thompson, a loving breakdown of West Coast rap cadence patterns, and what makes a supposedly off-beat flow effective and irresistible. Thompson also describes Blueface's soon-to-be-number-one hit "Thotiana" as "mostly hook and a string of afterthoughts", which is perfect. 

+ Paul Thompson again, with a fascinating study of Snoop's Doggfather album, "a document of what an extremely gifted artist was capable (and, just as often, not capable) of doing when his work environment was radically altered."
Lil Pump

‘My Goal Is to Be the Most Ignorant, Richest Rapper’

14 minute read • Vulture

In Vulture, Dee Lockett visits Lil Pump's Miami Beach mansion, and tries her best to find substance behind the social media stunts and the gaudy outfits of the 18-year-old superstar. Not sure if she succeeds, but she still nails a couple of good observations: there might be more life in her description of Pump's slouchy pants, "decorated with Nickelodeon characters older than himself", than in any quote from the rapper. 
Willie Mc Coy

The Life and Death of Rapper Willie McCoy, 'Executed' by Police

11 minute read • The Guardian

"My whole family was robbed by six officers who felt that their life was in danger from a man asleep – a young black man with a whole bunch of potential." These are the words of David, the cousin of aspiring Bay Area rapper Willie McCoy, killed by twenty-five bullet shots while he was sleeping in his car, on February 9th. Journalist Sam Levin meets with McCoy relatives and partners to remember him, and shed more light on police brutality within the community of Vallejo, California.
Kodak Black

The Hip-Hop Superstar as Local Newsmaker

42 minute audio • The New York Times

Broward County is one of the sixty-seven counties in Florida. It's also a place that became a focal point in hip-hop culture: Kodak Black is a local hero in Pompano, and XXXTentacion died in Deerfield Beach. For The New York Times' Popcast, Jon Caramanica interviews South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Brett Clarkson to discuss the difficult mission of local journalism when rap successes and tragedies intersect in tight-knit communities.
M.C. Hammer

Hammer Time

18 minute read • Rolling Stone (1990)

Last week, M.C. Hammer announced an incredible nostalgia tour with other acts from the early 90's, including Biz Markie, Coolio, Doug E. Fresh, Tone Loc and, in a weird twist, new millenium R&B legend Sisqó. Once the biggest rapper in the world, Hammer was Rolling Stone's cover star in September 1990, where he appeared as an unforgiving performer with brutal leadership methods.
The Devil's Bait

The Devil’s Bait

In Harper's Magazine • Recommended by Tarpley Hitt

"This essay for Harper’s, one of my favorites of all time, follows writer Leslie Jamison to a conference for people who suffer from Morgellons, a disease which some people claim prompts mysterious fibers to emerge spontaneously from their skin. The infliction has basically been discredited by the medical community—it’s up there with Chronic Lyme and radioactive spiders—but for the people who suffer from it, Morgellons is very much real, and a major part of their everyday lives. In the essay, many of the attendees Jamison interviews are covered in scabs, cuts and scars, from years spent searching their skin for fibers and miscellaneous proof that they are, actually, sick. Devil’s Bait is, at surface level, a fascinating look into a fringe world, but as Jamison spends more time with the Morgellons community, the piece becomes a meta-exercise in both essay writing and empathy."

Tarpley Hitt is a staff writer at The Daily Beast. Last year, she worked at the Miami New Times, where she wrote one of the most important stories on XXXTentacion.

Catch up with one month of rap with our February playlist
featuring Offset, Gunna and Quelle Chris.


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