REMARKS WERE MADE
On Sunday, New York City’s world-famous hip hop radio station, Hot 97, held their yearly Summer Jam concert. Earlier that day, one of the station’s DJs, Peter Rosenberg, decried the oeuvre of Summer Jam headliner Nicki Minaj while introducing another act, Kendrick Lamar. His charge was about Minaj’s recent single, which has a decidedly pop-oriented slant to it: ”We’re all about that real hip-hop, not ‘Starships.’”
Adam Yauch, a founding member of the Beastie Boys—otherwise known as “MCA”—died today in his native New York City after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was a crucial component in the rise of hip hop as a culture and rap as an art form, and instrumental in the group’s transition: from their early days as a punk outfit and then a brash and belligerent party-rap act, to one of the most sonically deft acts in the history of contemporary music. Never content to rest on their laurels, the Beastie Boys always surprised their listeners, contemporaries, and critics with each subsequent musical course they charted. Yauch’s influence on the lasting relevance of the Beastie Boys, their evolution, and their cultural purview can’t be overstated.
That Whole Austin Situation
For a few weeks every year, pity poor Austin, Texas, when South by Southwest results in the tragic occupation of the town by New York City’s hipster and media set. Even Jay-Z was taken aback by the way his hometown was essentially imported to the Lone Star State. Think of it as one big Friday Night Lights fetishist party, or the metropolitan intelligentsia version of Spring Break in Daytona Beach. As they network among the endless river of new media panels, music industry showcases, and food trucks, occasionally something interesting happens.
Like when a Harlem rap crew brought forth absolute chaos upon SxSW’s denizens last night at a VICE party. Naturally.
YOU! MUST! LEARN!
Ah, yes: The Monday New York Times crossword puzzle, routinely mocked by seasoned crossword freaks as the province of entry-level puzzle-doers and amateur intellects. In today’s puzzle, however, those who regularly frequent the blank box page may observe an interesting redundancy, and on a technical level, an inaccuracy. Involving rappers.
Over the summer, Steve Stoute, the CEO of the brand-marketing firm Translation, went to Wimbledon with his friend and business partner, the rapper Jay-Z, to cheer on Rafael Nadal during the Spaniard’s fourth-round battle with Juan Martín Del Potro. With the match tied in the third set, BBC cameras spotted them. “The man is still here,” said BBC tennis analyst Boris Becker in his heavy German accent. “The Jigga Man, that’s what they call him—Shawn Carter.”
Where most viewers saw a star-sighting. Mr. Stoute saw a “tanning moment.”
Mr. Stoute, in his recent book The Tanning of America: How Hip-Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy (2011, Gotham Books), defined “tanning” as “the catalytic force majeure that went beyond musical boundaries and into the psyche of young America.” That’s a pretty thick slice of marketing-speak, but the gist of it is simple: hip-hop has radically changed culture and corporate America.
And Mr. Stoute has had a central role in the transformation.
The Quad Cinema in Greenwich Village was nearly empty at 9 p.m. last Friday night, save for an old black man wearing a shirt emblazoned with the letters “BF” and a ratty orange hat that said “Big Day Out.” He was sitting in the middle of the lobby, serenading a handful of fans with an X-rated parody of “Hello Dolly” in which “It’s so nice to see you take a douche again …” was the only printable phrase of the song. This was R&B songwriter Clarence Reid, but soon enough he would don the sequined cape and mask of his doppelgänger, and when several members exiting the theater from another show filed past they would look at him warily, as if this crazy guy in a sparkly, befouled outfit might follow them out the door asking for money. In reality, they should probably be asking him for something—the autograph of the infamous Blowfly.
In late 1997, The Source magazine celebrated the release of its 100th issue with an enormous bash at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Hip hop’s era of excess was at its blinged-out height. Everybody was getting money and flaunting it. Even the journalists. Before the party, Dave Mays, the co-founder and co-owner of The Source, distributed diamond-encrusted medallions emblazoned with the company logo to about 10 members of the staff. They were later appraised at $7,000.
Haters Gon Hate
Media Matters screen-grabbed what you’re seeing on the left from the Fox Nation website earlier today. Yes: it’s real. They didn’t provide context, but we will.
Hey, ladies who love flavored liqueurs — good news! Pharrell Williams announced that he’s releasing a vanilla-flavored spirit called Qream, and launched the female-friendly beverage at a giant Beverly Hills party last weekend. He doesn’t explain the creative spelling, but he does give a bit of insight into why, as of late, he’s focusing on Read More
Yesterday, The Observer was in the unfamiliar territory of the Walt Whitman Housing projects of Greene County, Brooklyn, where a Nü Revolution was taking place in the form of a musical performance by Les Nubians, a band led by the French-born Afropean sisters Célia and Hélène Faussart.
As The Observer walked through the neighborhood to Read More