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Great rap stories, delivered weekly.

The AdLib

ISSUE 053 • MARCH 22, 2019
 
J. Cole
COVER STORY

The Undeniable Rise of J. Cole

26 minute read • GQ

Let's be honest: when we saw that J. Cole was the cover star of GQ's April issue, we expected the standard protocol: a photoshoot in designer clothes we'll never wear, and a great PR achievement disguised as deep journalism. Our cynicism be damned: this portrait, written by Allison P. Davis, is terrific. Cole is his usual self, always slightly hesitant, but it's the narrator's striking observations that make this profile truly memorable. And that quiet closing line is perfect.
 
REPORT

How Did the 'Industry Plant' Take Root?

12 minute read • Chicago Reader

There are two probable outcomes for any successful rapper: 1) being considered an Illuminati or 2) being considered an "Industry Plant". For Chicago Reader, writer Leor Gahil tackles this buzzword with a refreshing angle: why do music fans can't help but seeing artist development as a conspiracy theory? It's a great read, and not only because DJ Akademiks is casually compared to Alex Jones.
 
Travis Scott and Nas
CONVERSATION

Travis Scott and Nas Talk Freedom, Rap, Relevance

14 minute read • Playboy

In what resembles a formal passing of the torch from one generation to the next, Nas and Travis Scott sit down – in a Bentley, of all places – to discuss the impact of technology, camera shyness, and how much more they can do with their voices.
 
RANDOM SPECULATION

A Wild Theory About the Origins of Drake's Infamous "Half a Xan" Line

8 minute read • Complex

There's a small sub-genre of journalism that consists exclusively of people sharing cool Drake stories (see for example Amos Barshad's My Dinner with Drake). And every time, the feeling is the same: in any occasion, Aubrey Graham seems to be an unbearably nice person. This Complex anecdote only reinforces the myth, and proposes a perfectly credible backstory for Drake's "Sicko Mode" verse. Once again, the whole thing starts from an Instagram post, because Drake is still the Internet.
 
Hip-Hop Architecture
DESIGN THINKING

Can Hip Hop Architecture Help Solve Design’s Diversity Problem?

7 minute read • Architectural Digest

The Hip Hop Architecture Camp is a Washington D.C. program that aims to introduce underserved kids to the world of design, but it's also a fascinating symbol of the connective power of hip-hop. The program questions gentifrication, representation, the very real social impact of ill-advised architecture, and the symbiosis between the assemblage of words and the edification of buildings. An amazing way to bridge the gap between creative disciplines.
 
DJ Premier
THROWBACK

Where We Dwell: How DJ Premier Changed Hip-Hop

11 minute read • Vulture (2017)

Here's a solid advice: if you want your child to become a legendary hip-hop producer, try to sync their birth date with the arrival of spring. Thanks to Today In Hip-Hop History, we indeed found out that Large Professor, DJ Premier and Mannie Fresh were all born on a March 20 or 21, which is probably a cosmic gift. That said, here's more DJ Premier lore, and his sonic connection to New York City, courtesy of Vulture.
 

5 Things Record Labels Don't Want You to Know They Do

In Cracked.com • Recommended by Charlie Braxton

"As a longtime music fan and a former music journalist who happens to have a slight nerdy streak, I like collecting little-known facts about music, musicians and all things related to the two. When my friends at The AdLib asked me to contribute an article about music that I thought was important, this one came to mind immediately. The reason why I chose this article is simple: it’s an easy read and it's full of fun facts about what the music industry does to extract money that the average music fan has no idea about.

I discovered this article a few years back. A friend of mine named DJ 2 Tall came over to my house to tell me that a club where he was the resident DJ might have to shut down. They had just received an ASCAP bill that totaled well over five figures for playing songs in the club. He wanted to know if this was real or if a rival club DJ was playing a prank on him. I told him I was aware of the fact that musicians had to pay organizations like ASCAP, BMI and SEASAC for performing songs live at venues where they charge admission, but I wasn’t aware that club DJs had to pay as well.

I Googled the subject and came across this article. Needless to say, we were flabbergasted at this revelation. Clubs having to pay the record industry for basically helping to break records that the music industry would make the lion share of the money from – what a contradiction. But the music nerd in me was happy because I learned something new about the record business. I hope that the readers of The AdLib will do the same."
 

Charlie Braxton is a poet, playwright, and longtime music journalist whose byline has appeared in music publications such as The Source, Vibe, XXL, Rap Page and Murder Dog. He is also the co-author of the book Gangsta Gumbo (Camion Blanc Press, 2012). 

Listen to Illa J discuss Prince's Dirty Mind
in the latest episode of Heat Rocks.

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