Great rap stories, delivered weekly.

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ISSUE 054 • MARCH 28, 2019
Kendrick Lamar

Strange Days: How Kendrick Lamar Became a Star With Help From Tech N9ne

10 minute read • Complex

A fascinating, little-known fact: ten years ago, a young rapper called Kendrick Lamar was a low-profile hypeman during the Independent Grind Tour, a 43-shows-in-45-days operation ran by Missouri powerhouse Strange Music. It's an awesome backstory for the Pulitzer-winning rapper, but the source of fascination is elsewhere: now we really want to read the larger story on the military-style organization of Tech N9ne tours.

The Queens Rapper Connecting American Hip-Hop to African Audiences

11 minute read • The Atlantic

Following J. Cole's profile in GQ last week, the family portrait of the Dreamville label has a new addition, courtesy of The Atlantic's Hannah Giorgis. This time, it's Paris-born, Queens-raised and Sudan-bound rapper Bas who gets to discuss his musical upbringings – his uncle, Bashir Abbas, is a renowned oud player – and the new perspectives an African tour opened for him.

Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ Was a Country Hit. Then Country Changed Its Mind

8 minute read • Rolling Stone

A savvy young artist named Lil Nas X drops a hybrid song called "Old Town Road" – a 2-minute curiosity including a banjo, a trap beat and a "cowboy hat from Gucci" (2003 Bubba Sparxxx would be proud). The song blows up on the TikTok app, then climbs the country charts before any gatekeeper can figure out whether it should be a rap song, a country song, or something else. It's a mind-bending story, and an eloquent case study on the new music business, the ever-evolving power of social media, and the tense racial dynamic in America.
Cool Breeze

Cool Breeze: A “Dirty South” Champion

9 minute read • Red Bull Music Academy

"If Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik spearheaded a movement, “Dirty South” branded it" writes Christina Lee (our first-ever guest) in this portrait of Atlanta rap originator Cool Breeze. Going back to the rapper's odd place in the Dungeon Family, and the reapproriation of the iconic catchphrase he christened, Lee highlights the strained relationships within the collective. The perspective a full-fledged DF reunion now seems even less likely. 
Houston Rap Tapes

A History of the Houston Rap Tapes: Lance Scott Walker and Jacques Morel in Conversation

38 minute read • Los Angeles Review of Books

We haven't yet read Houston Rap Tapes, Lance Scott Walker's "Oral History of Bayou City Hip-Hop" (released last October in an amplified edition), but this lengthy interview of the author is the perfect trigger we need to rush to the proverbial bookstore. Here, Walker evokes unsung characters from the early Houston rap scene with an amount of details and an empathy that promise an enthralling read.

Searching for Tomorrow: The Story of Madlib and DOOM's Madvillainy

13 minute read • Pitchfork (2014)

Madlib and MF Doom's Madvillainy was released fifteen years ago, on March 24, 2004. A decade later, writer Jeff Weiss dissected the making, genius and legacy of the record in long read packed with so many quotables we can hardly pick one. The piece already hinted at an elusive sequel that may drop in the near future. But could a supervillain really be trusted?

Rick Rubin and Questlove meet in the newest episode
of the Broken Record podcast.


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