LING | Meek Inherits the Earth

The criminal justice system almost seems like a wicked problem, one so integrated into our society in so many ways that it seems impossible to overcome.

SWAN | Cardi B’s Realness

Yesterday, Cardi B made news when it was discovered that the artist has been charged with assault over a violent incident that occurred in a strip club in Queens and involved members of her entourage and two women who have allegedly had illicit affairs with Cardi B’s husband, Offset. According to a New York Times article about the matter, Cardi B supposedly “showed up at the Angels Strip Club on Aug.15 and confronted the sisters” when “her bodyguards and other members of her entourage attacked the bartenders with bottles and chairs, causing serious injury.”

Some qualifications and disclaimers are certainly due. As a white man, I recognize the limitations inherent in the true scope and relevance of any public, non-peer-reviewed discourse I might offer on the lives of black, female hip-hop artists. Nevertheless, as a student of musicology and cultural studies, these are topics that interest me, and I feel as though engaging in the attempt at discourse brings me closer to some sense of empathy towards the way other people experience the world. So, I turn to Cardi B.

In Cardi B’s defense, it is important to note that the details of this altercation at the strip club in August are merely alleged; none of us were there, of course, and so we don’t really know what went down.

STANTON | Just Let Him Be Great: Jay Z’s Art of Success

There’s an old adage that says that images matter much more than facts. It’s one that the 24-hour news cycle has exploited to no end, conflating entire political movements with visuals of a burning car or convincing the American public that Ohio Governor John Kasich — at any given time of day — is stuffing his face with a cheeseburger. The Internet, too, possesses this nefarious power. In one fell swoop, an iconic figure like Michael Jordan may find himself reduced to a teary-eyed meme, just as a tragically slain gorilla may become an overnight martyr. It’s a high-stakes game that mocks the entire field of Public Relations, effectively tying a figure’s reputation to a few unfortunate stills.

JONES| Are You Real? Honesty and Authenticity in Music Pt. 2


Note: This column is the second of two on the subject of authenticity in popular music. Last week’s focused on rock and genres that influenced it, while this column focuses on rap. In Jay Z’s scalding diss track “Takeover” from 2001’s seminal The Blueprint, he attacks his rival Nas, claiming that Nas embellished and fictionalized his past: “You ain’t lived it, you witnessed it from your folks’ pad / You scribbled in your notepad, and created your life.” Then in his 2010 memoir Decoded, Jay Z writes, “The rapper’s character is essentially a conceit, a first-person literary creation. The core of that character has to match the core of the rapper himself. But then that core gets amplified by the rapper’s creativity and imagination.”

        In the second quote, Jay Z essentially acknowledges that he, and in fact all rappers, do precisely the thing that he accuses Nas of in the first.