When Drake strutted into the ACC arena on August 1, dressed all in black with an OVO shirt and a beard, he wasn't just the biggest star onstage or even the biggest rapper in hip hop. Drake can legitimately claim to be the biggest star in music and so he invited the only others operating at his level this year.
They were using their talents and resources to pursue their passions. We often celebrate young people (think Bill Gates for instance) for doing this in other businesses and personal pursuits, but it takes on a very different tone when young black men from stigmatized areas take an unconventional path and invest their energies into it.
Growing up in Rockland County, New York, Bishop Nehru stood out in high school. He dressed differently than most of his peers, and listened to different music. He had different priorities. Although at times being the odd man out could feel alienating, this experience turned out to be what author Malcolm Gladwell calls a desirable difficulty.
There should be no mistake, it's more embarrassing for an adult to not know Kanye at this point in time than it is for a teen to not know McCartney. White dominance of cultural norms is the only reason click-bait articles decrying the masses of 50-somethings who don't know who Kanye West is aren't being published.
Rap producer and real life cartoon thug kingpin Suge Knight was shot multiple times on Sunday during a Chris Brown-hosted VMA Awards party at a Los Angeles nightclub. Watching the footage of screaming party-goers scrambling for cover, my first thought should have been that I hope that no one was killed, but instead it was "Really? This is still a thing?"
Fans of Drake's music will know he often raps about Houston too, and has a huge affinity for the city. He's reportedly recorded a lot of his music there. But this past weekend, his loyalties really seemed to blur a bit. Drake was rocking a Houston Astros MLB jersey at a game. Shouldn't he be doing that with the Toronto Blue Jays?
I can't turn anywhere without rap music blaring into my ears. Before hip hop got elected into popular taste to a level where it's now synonymous with pop-culture, there was an era that preceded this current one that might be doomed to obscurity. Here's hoping rap can finally realize, during its unwavering drive to be "fresh," it had long created music without an expiry date.
At the AMAs, rapper Macklemore spent much of his precious acceptance speech time discussing the injustice behind the Trayvon Martin verdict. Here's a radical idea: if Macklemore is so disgusted by the Trayvon Martin ruling, he should be the one to lead Stevie Wonder's list of artists boycotting Florida until the Stand Your Ground Law is repealed.
Before Bach, there was no music. This seriously hampered the soundtracks of movies. Then black slaves sang while being exploited in fields, paving the way for blues, jazz, and rock & roll. Now autotune could give a goat a honeyed voice in perfect pitch. Meanwhile computers liberated musicians from those old historical obstacles like money, instruments, and talent. The Internet allowed everyone everywhere to hear everything, and we haven't seen a distinct style of music since.
I first heard Maestro Fresh Wes' "Let Your Backbone Slide" on a cassette tape my best friend's brother made for us to breakdance to in 1989. I couldn't stop listening to it. I replayed the song on my Sony Walkman so many times I could stop the tape at the beginning of the song perfectly each rewind.