About a year ago I read Diane Williams's "Four In Prose" in Harper's Magazine, and I could not get it out of my head. In her characteristically brief fashion, Williams uses all of fiction's signposts but sends readers off into another dimension entirely where meaning hovers just beyond the brink of understanding. This is true… Continue reading Disorienting Clarity
Words are fun. In an interview with Kendrick Lamar, the rapper talked about the pleasure of molding words to his own purposes, twisting them so that they rhymed or almost rhymed. Internal rhyme, end rhyme and rhythm are the backbone of rap and have been the site of the genre's most noticeable innovations beyond, of… Continue reading Rhythm, Sound and Sense
Ever since I picked up To Pimp a Butterfly three days ago, I can't stop thinking about anything else. I've listened to it at least ten times and it holds up to all of the praise and talk it's generated so far. It's been hailed as for-real black music, the blackness of which is beautifully, achingly… Continue reading Chrysalis, Listening
A guy I once knew had a sticker on his car that read, "I Love Hip-Hop." (I'm interpreting. Love was denoted by a bright red heart.) Both the simplicity and the sentiment struck me. I loved Miles, Satie, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. I loved a lot of punk rock and ska bands too, but… Continue reading those sOunds.
At Thanksgiving dinner years ago, discussion somehow turned to rap music. More wine was poured, the gravy was curdling, and no one was yet ready for dessert. "But wasn't it Blondie who sang the first rap song? I'm pretty sure it was, and then it was copied." Let the historical record show that it was… Continue reading Expiration Date: 11/9
When I fell for the Wu, I fell hard. It was 1998, I was seventeen, and I was on a bus in Austria with a bunch of band and choir kids. I exchanged CD booklets with a friend of mine (because that was what you did back then), and after a one-two punch from the… Continue reading GZA Bradstreet: Puritan Samurai