Big Apple Idolatry
– Jon Hamm’s girlfriend is not a fan of Jon Hamm’s penis getting all the attention. Also, apparently Jon Hamm doesn’t wear underwear? Very cool.
TAX ON TAX ON TAX
We were exhausted—it was our third night in a row at The Plaza, and, quite frankly, we were becoming a little too familiar with the hotel’s ornate ballrooms at fund-raiser after frilly fund-raiser. The Observer loves schmoozing, but of late our calendar has left us rather harried—perhaps even unappreciative. As we arrived at the bedazzled edifice for the seventh annual Children’s Rights Benefit this past Wednesday, we quickly took notice of rapper Nick Cannon, slipping coolly out of a large black SUV with an entourage and bodyguards. At last, something seemed fresh, and unpredictable. While hip-hop stars and R&B producers are certainly no strangers to this old-school bastion of New York excess, it’s always exciting to see a touch of, er, young blood among traditional notions of prestige and privilege. With producer Kasseem David Dean a k a “Swizz Beatz” up for top honors that night, we anticipated that the hotel would be getting a much-needed dose of swagger.
Music and Politics
If there’s one thing all Americans likely understand in some cursory manner about Mitt Romney, beyond the matter of his religion, it’s that something is curious about the way he pays his taxes. Most Americans, for example, don’t have dealings with shell corporations in the Cayman Islands. Also, in the circumstance that they’re asked for their tax returns, most Americans usually don’t have a choice as to whether or not they’re going to produce them. But as of yet, the Republican candidate for the highest office in the land hasn’t exactly seen his tax returns become a matter of interest within pop culture. Until now.
Last week, Nicki Minaj caused whiplash, turning our heads with her verse on on Lil Wayne’s latest mixtape, Dedication 4. “I’m a Republican voting for Mitt Romney/You lazy bitches is fucking up the economy,” she rapped, causing us to wonder whether this would hurt her chances for judging American Idol … even if she was joking.
Now the hip-hop star is claiming that yes, she was just joking, especially when the POTUS gave her the benefit of the doubt on a recent radio shout-out.
It was bound to happen: Jay-Z’s comments about Occupy Wall Street in the recent T Magazine profile of the rapper/entrepreneur (written by novelist Zadie Smith), found their way to the Occupy movement itself. And as they were no doubt going to do, they’ve stirred up a bit of a media tempest.
Ever since a debate erupted over the merits of a clue whose answer was the word ‘illin’ in the New York Times crossword puzzle in January, obsessives of crossword master Will Shortz‘s diabolical work have carefully watched developments in the newest evolution of what may be the most famous daily puzzle game in Western Civilization. Today, another brave, daring step is taken.
Jay-Z might be from Brooklyn—and may season his songs with references to the borough liberally, not including his memorable Reasonable Doubt duet with The Notorious B.I.G., “Brooklyn’s Finest”—but does anybody remember the last time he played a proper concert there? Odds are, unless you’re an obsessive who tracks his every movement—or a Phish fan—you may not.
Fear not, though. The modest opening of the Barclays Center (the new home of the NBA’s Nets, of which, Jay-Z is an investor) will now shove this seemingly arbitrary but actually earth-shatteringly important query into irrelevance, as Jay-Z will not be playing one, or two, but three shows to open the new stadium, this September.
YOU! MUST! LEARN!
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.
Occupy Wall Street
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.
We’re hoping General Assembly votes MC Moneypenney’s hot new single to be the official anthem of Occupy Wall Street. (Sorry, all other OWS songs.)