Tag Archives: Essays

How Hip-Hop Would Be Different If Biggie Were Still Alive

It wouldn’t be hyperbolic to say that everything in rap changed on March 9, 1997. On that day 20 years ago, just after midnight, Christopher Wallace, b.k.a. the Notorious B.I.G.—hip-hop’s biggest artist at the time and arguably the greatest rapper ever—was shot dead in the passenger seat of a green Chevrolet Suburban after leaving a Vibe magazine party in Los Angeles. Paired with Tupac Shakur’s also-unsolved murder six months earlier, Biggie Smalls’ demise set off a whirlwind that rerouted the course of music history. Nas once told Zane Lowe that he thought Biggie’s death marked “the end of rap.”

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Michael Jordan Says Russell Westbrook Is a Young MJ—He’ll Have to Be Now

Russell Westbrook re-upped with the Oklahoma City Thunder yesterday, redoing next year’s deal, guaranteeing 2017-18 and adding a third option year. He could still leave in the summer of ‘18 but, at least for now, he’s Oklahoma City’s favorite son. The mayor even declared it Russell Westbrook Day. The Lakers and Celtics will need to look elsewhere this summer for their respective saviors, and the Thunder won’t have to agonize over whether they could endure a second straight offseason of losing a superstar for nothing. Honestly? They never had anything to worry about.

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‘Boyz n the Hood’ Gave a Voice to the Voiceless

When Boyz n the Hood premiered 25 years ago in July 1991, it was met with a string of violence. At least 25 incidents were reported in more than 800 theaters nationwide. But even in the face of that violence, and the media’s implications that Boyz was entirely to blame for it, director John Singleton never wavered from his movie’s message. In what was called a “hastily called news conference,” Singleton said the acts of violence were “indicative of the degeneration of American society, not a reflection of my film, which is about family, love and friendship.” Singleton went on to fault a society “breeds illiteracy and economic deprivation… There’s a whole generation of people who are disenfranchised.”

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How Kanye West Changed the Way We Think About “Ghostwriting” in Rap

Quentin Miller isn’t Drake‘s ghostwriter. Not quite. Miller is credited on all the songs he’s co-written with Drake, including six tracks from If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late as well as Drake’s verse on “R.I.C.O.” from Meek Mill‘s Dreams Worth More Than Money. If Miller were a ghostwriter in the truest sense, he’d be a rumored contributor with no public record of his involvement with these songs. Instead, Quentin Miller has bylines and headlines to his credit.

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