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Higher Learning. A publication from Medium for the interested man.


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Reflections on the late rapper’s historic career, one-of-a-kind talent, and hilarious ‘Top Five’ cameo

Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

When I first heard “Get at Me Dog” in 1998, I thought, Def Jam is back.

I feel guilty for feeling relieved that I wasn’t there in the end

Me and my dad on our last vacation together back in his hometown in India. Photo courtesy of the author.

That night, I couldn’t sleep; the pain in my tooth kept me awake.

The world acted like everything was fine. I knew it wouldn’t be.

Photo: Antonio Iacobelli/Getty Images

Here’s what happened: Almost eight years ago you brought your newborn son home. A day later, he stopped breathing for 30 seconds that felt like 10 years. He turned blue. You repeated the CPR directions from the 911 operator to your wife while she breathed life into his lungs. The color came back. Briefly.

When I learned that Pastor Manson B. Johnson II had succumbed to Covid-19, it highlighted all the ways that spiritual practice is adapting to an uncertain age

Photo: Alex Edelman/Getty Images

On the night of the violent riots that shook up Philadelphia’s 52nd Street in protest of police brutality, I received a terse text from my older brother, El. “Pastor Johnson has passed away,” it read. Another came a few seconds later: “Apparently due to Covid.” I hadn’t even stopped coughing from the tear gas I inhaled in the midst of the ruckus up the block; I struggled for both fresh air and the appropriate words. “Wow. Dammit… dammit!” is all that my fingers could muster.

Loss is loss, even against an unprecedented backdrop

Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Don’t cry before the ambulance comes. You will need to report the time of death to the hospice nurse on the phone. 10:15 a.m. The first nurse who came to install the bed for convalescent patients left one hour ago.

The late Los Angeles rapper’s legacy is undying — and still unfolding

Photo illustration. Image source: Prince Williams/Getty Images

For 25.5 miles, nearly the length of a marathon, the funeral procession somberly wound through the city. All traffic and commerce stopped for an imperial tribute that you’d expect for an 18th-century divine-right monarch or a five-star war hero. But there are no 21-gun salutes in 21st-century Los Angeles, at least not formally. When Nipsey Hussle died last March, a part of the region’s soul was carried off in that silver Escalade hearse. It was a loss of grievous magnitude, one that comes into crystalline focus when you consider the politics of those streets saluting the casket of Neighborhood Nip.

All fathers want to console their children, but telling them to stop crying like a girl isn’t the way

Left to right: Mac Miller, Pop Smoke, Juice WRLD. Photo illustration; Sources: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images; David Wolff — Patrick/Getty Images; John Shearer/Getty Images

“Hey, kid,” I said in the doorway of my 15-year-old son’s room. It was late last year, and he had just told me about the death of Chicago rapper Juice WRLD. “You know you can talk to your dad, too?”

Timeline of Sounds

R.E.M., soul food, and death.

Illustration: Trevor Fraley

Sometimes you are maybe old, but not as old as the people around you insist you are. Sometimes you have seen some things, but not nearly enough to know that you’ve seen enough. In 1992, R.E.M. was already seven albums into a career that had made them wildly successful and considered one of the greatest bands of their era. On the wings of a mandolin riff, the single “Losing My Religion” soared up the Billboard charts in 1991, expanding R.E.M.’s original fan base and making their album Out of Time a massive success. But also, in the same moment, the…

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