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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.

The Rick Rubin and Russell Simmons-founded label, then home base to LL Cool J, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys, ran in the hip-hop wars. Yet it had been outpaced, first by West Coast gangsta rap, then by the luxurious lifestyle rhymes of Diddy’s Bad Boy and the rise of Southern juggernauts like No Limit. Akin to Cold Chillin’, Uptown, and Tommy Boy, Def Jam seemed ready to be another once-important New York rap music enterprise slated for irrelevance.

DMX’s aforementioned debut single sounded…


JUST RANKIN’ SH!T

Yo, Adrian, they can’t all be champs!

Photo illustration: Save As/Medium; Photo: Hulu/Warner Bros

8. ‘Rocky V’ (1990)

Not only is Rocky damn-near brain dead after his narrow victory in this movie’s predecessor, he’s also broke as a joke, thanks to a shady-ass accountant. What’s left to do but [rewinds VHS] defend your honor by squaring up with your former protégé in the streets before patching things up with the estranged son you’ve been neglecting? All those haymakers to the head really started to take their toll on the script.

The American propaganda has always been as heavy-handed as one of Rocky’s left hooks, but there’s a line — and this film crossed it with a primary antagonist…


JUST RANKIN’ SHIT

These upward-failing crime bosses should’ve been canned a long time ago

Photo illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: HBO via HBO Max

5. James St. Patrick (‘Power’)

Dude. You literally had one job: Don’t have a romantic affair with the person investigating you. It’s simple. Ghost went above and beyond the ideals of trash kingpinning by destroying his family and his criminal empire over a COP he’d had a crush on back in high school.

We’re glad this man found a higher calling, because he may have been the most unhinged drug dealer of all time. Getting so drunk and high that you rile up your little homies to gun each other down in a fancy Olive Garden? Getting so hooked into the game that you’re now…


Eddie Huang discusses his directorial debut, and what it was like working with the late Pop Smoke

Eddie Huang at The Vulture Spot on January 27, 2020 in Park City, Utah. Photo: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

For the past decade, Eddie Huang has maneuvered with the passion of a mixtape rapper. Whether through memoir or food, the author-chef-restaurateur-producer-host-attorney used that mentality to produce generation-defining projects that highlight his experiences as the first-generation son of Taiwanese immigrants. And now, he can add “film director” to the list.

Huang is less than a month away from the release of Boogie, his directorial debut. It tells the story of Alfred “Boogie” Chin (played by actor and former yakitori chef Taylor Takahashi), a basketball player living in Queens who dreams of NBA stardom. …


Ending a central Black character’s life isn’t something Hollywood knows how to handle

Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

Over the course of four years, actor Daniel Kaluuya has amassed a catalog of film work that has loomed large in pop culture discourse, especially among Black folks. Those movies are 2017’s Get Out, 2019’s Queen & Slim, and this month’s Judas and the Black Messiah. You could add 2018’s Black Panther and Widows to this list based on film quality and Kaluuya’s performance, but I want to focus on the other three because they all have one thing in common: They all featured Daniel Kaluuya playing characters who meet traumatic ends.

In Queen & Slim, Kaluuya’s Slim is brutally…


Photos: Myles Aronowitz/Netflix, FOX/Getty Images, CBS All Access

Some of the genre’s best and brightest come together to talk about why they made the transition from rap magazines to TV and movies—and how

It’s easy enough to pinpoint the birth of hip-hop: August 11, 1973, when Kool Herc threw that pivotal back-to-school party for his sister at 1520 Sedgwick Ave. in the Bronx. Doing the same for dedicated hip-hop journalism, though, proves tougher. What we do know is that college student David Mays started The Source as a one-pager at Harvard University in 1988. By 1993, Time Inc. had launched Vibe; XXL would follow in 1997. …


You expect a movie about getting through a rough patch — but what you get is something far darker

John David Washington and Zendaya portray their characters in the kitchen on the set of “Malcolm and Marie”
John David Washington and Zendaya portray their characters in the kitchen on the set of “Malcolm and Marie”
Photo: Netflix

I thought I knew about Malcolm & Marie when I sat down to watch it. I knew it was a black and white movie, was filmed during a pandemic, starred John David Washington and Zendaya, and was written and directed by her Euphoria collaborator Sam Levinson. I also knew — or thought I knew — that it was about relationship fights, the kind of squabbles and bickering that we all experience. I expected a movie about marriage and partnership that I could identify with.

You may be going into the movie expecting the same. But you should also go in…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

The comic’s big-screen turns that paved the way for ‘Chappelle’s Show’

Photo illustration; image source: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

5. “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”

In Chappelle’s coming-out party, he plays Robin Hood’s sidekick — who just so happens to rock Reebok Pumps and drop a Malcolm X impression, just for the hell of it. Not bad for a 19-year-old.

Legend has it that Chappelle ad-libbed most of his lines as Conspiracy Brother while shooting this one. Huge, if true, because every quip he drops in Eddie Griffin’s magnum opus lands real-life LOLs. (Whatever happened to Eddie Griffin, anyway?)

Come for two legends — Chappelle and Martin — tossing each other alley-oops like Bron and D. Wade in this heist flick turned cop comedy. Stay…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

It’s a mooooooovie!

Photo illustration; source: Get Rich or Die Tryin’/MTV Films/Amazon Prime Video

7. “All Eyez on Me”

Physically, Demetrius Shipp Jr. looks eerily similar to Tupac Shakur, the larger-than-life figure he portrays. But doing poetic justice to a complicated figure like Pac — in all of his charisma, compassion, unbridled energy, and thug lifestyle — is a tall task for a first-time actor, and the cursory script does him no favors. (Thankfully, Danai Gurira’s convincing transformation into Afeni Shakur earns this film its placement here.)

Sure, 50 Cent takes a lot of creative liberty in this depiction of his rise from the streets to superstardom — the beginning of a long legacy of pimping his origin story…

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