Great rap stories, delivered weekly.

The AdLib

ISSUE 056 • APRIL 12, 2019
Nipsey Hussle

Los Angeles Is Mourning Nipsey Hussle. So Am I.

6 minute read • The New York Times

As people gathered to witness Nipsey Hussle's funeral procession in Los Angeles, The New York Times reporter Walter Thompson-Hernández pondered on the rapper's deep connection to the city and its people: "Every time he rapped about Crenshaw or Slauson Boulevard in a song, he preserved our memory of it, even as the city’s landscape changes and leaves many of us wondering what’s next."

+ Paul Thompson in Vulture: Los Angeles Gave Nipsey Hussle a Hometown Hero’s Farewell
Nipsey Hussle

Why Nipsey Hussle’s Death Set Off Conspiracy Theories

5 minute read • GQ

Soon after Nipsey Hussle's death, a morbid rumor gained traction on social media: some claimed that the rapper had been killed by the government, in an attempt to prevent him from completing a documentary on Dr. Sebi, a herbalist who once pretended to have a cure for AIDS. In a short but pointed essay in GQ, Ashley Nkadi goes through the painful and very real cases of state abuses targeting the black community, a dark and fertile ground for the most bogus theories of today.

+ An important read on hip-hop and conspiracy theories, from last year in Vulture: The Conspiracist Manual That Influenced a Generation of Rappers
Old Town Road

How ‘Old Town Road’ Transforms the Listener

7 minute read • The Atlantic

As Lindsay Zoladz wrote in The Ringer, Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" is "pure bliss". It's one of those rare fraternal songs that can, even for a brief moment, makes you believe that everything will be alright. Seeing it skyrocket from a Billboard dead end to the top of the charts is a sight of beauty. It's the perfect pop moment, equally random, limpid and uplifting. Lil Nas X's hybrid hit not only opens doors to many remixes, it's also a starting point to endless reflections on culture, race, history, social media and the unifying power of music. "What does it mean that a rapper imagining himself to be a cowboy has brought in a country singer imagining himself to be a rock star?" asks Spencer Kornhaber in The Atlantic. "It means that “Old Town Road” represents artistic anarchy of the best kind, the kind that demolishes walls and pushes forward."

+ In Rolling Stone, a great interview with Dom Flemons, a singer-songwriter who paved the way for Lil Nas X: "Old Town Road" and the History of Black Cowboys in America

+ Victor Luckerson in The Ringer: "The biggest sign yet that hip-hop has arrived at the center of popular music is that its stars are now allowed to put on costumes."
Parental Advisory

The Devilish History of the Explicit Lyrics Sticker

20 minute video • Vox

A staple of rap album covers, the Parental Advisory label is so engrained in hip-hop mythology that it's hard to imagine it as anything but an aesthetic touch. For her Earworm series on Vox, Estelle Caswell provides an important reminder: the Explicit Lyrics sticker actually started with heavy metal, Prince, and an outraged committee called the Parents Music Resource Center. As usual, the production is impeccable, to a level where we have to remind ourselves that top notch content like that is free. Ms. Caswell, we are grateful.

An Oral History of Dreamville's Rap Camp Recording Sessions

22 minute read • XXL

Is this the first oral history to be published before an album is actually released? A 10‑day session with 106 participants coming from every angle of the rap universe, the recording of Dreamville's Revenge of the Dreamers III captured the Internet's imagination thanks, in part, to a very smart social media strategy. For XXL's new cover story – we promise this is not 2004 – the Dreamville masterminds remember their creative boot camp, and the design of those iconic Instagram invites.

The True Story Behind the Killing of Eminem's Friend Proof

16 minute read • The Guardian (2006)

"This guy reminds me of Proof so much when it came to helping his people and his way of giving back", said D12's Kuniva, last week, when paying homage to Nipsey Hussle on Instagram. The Detroit rapper was killed thirteen years ago, on April 11, 2006. A month later, writer Anthony Bozza published a lengthy investigation to shed light on the circumstances surrounding his death. "When the dust settles," Bozza wrote, "Proof should be seen truthfully, as the authentic voice of Detroit that he was: complex, angry, sarcastic, earnest, loyal, and proud of his roots."

The UnKanye Valley: we can't stop obsessing over this tracking-shot interview of Kim Kardashian, at home with Real Human Being Kanye West.


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