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Hip-hop’s always made room for contrast — so as the culture continues to veer toward profiteering, let’s celebrate the givers

Lavon, Kidd Creole, Rahiem and Mr. Broadway from Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five performs at the U.I.C. Pavilion in Chicago, Illinois in January 1985. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

In the introduction to Tricia Rose’s seminal book Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop — And Why It Matters, she laments that the national paranoia around the art form has robbed the culture of artistic validation — and worse, strengthened the conditions that…

The hooks on ‘Scary Hours 2’ are the same old hitmaking algorithm, but the verses show that 6 God might just be maturing

Drake attends an event in 2019.
Photo: Karwai Tang/WireImage

Almost a year ago, I wrote an article about Drake. In it, I talked about how I’d identified so much with his music when I was 22 — but then, as we both grew into our midthirties over the next decade, he basically kept making music for 22-year-olds. The article…

The work and statements of some of our favorite MCs line up quite comfortably alongside philosophy’s greatest — and most notorious — minds

Image: Qadir El-Amin/Medium. Image Sources: Bettmann, Josh Brasted, NBC, Oscar White, Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images and Public domain/Wikimedia Commons

Hip-hop is a lot of things, but the least discussed of all its facets is how it operates as a philosophy. I don’t mean as a KRS-One riff or as subject matter; I mean structurally.

Consider Thomas Kuhn. In 1962 Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in which he…

The masked rapper’s worldbuilding and commitment reminded us that there was always something more to discover

Photo: Jim Dyson/Getty Images

I planned to write about MF DOOM this past November to mark the 16th anniversary of his classic album Mm..Food? But as can often be the case for writers, other stories happened, so I put it off, figuring I’d have more opportunities to give Daniel Dumile his flowers while he…

Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Spread love, that’s the B’s B-Day way!

Photo: BET Awards 2020/Getty images

5. “I know that girls love Beyoncé” — Drake

This one-liner barely squeaks over the threshold to qualify for this list, but the overall vibe of the James Fauntleroy-featured “Girls Love Beyoncé” — with its Destiny’s Child interpolations — is a fitting homage to the queen. (Also: Everyone loves Beyoncé. Duh.)

4. “I know they fakin’/Okay you a killer, right, and Miss Cleo is Jamaican/And Bob Marley is Haitian/And me and Beyoncé datin’” — J. Cole

Cole got jokes! Gotta wonder if Hov found…

A little bit of hip-hop and a whole lot of soul

A still from episode 18 of The Cosby Show, “A Touch of Wonder,” aired on February 20, 1986. Photo: NBC/Getty Images

“Jammin’ on the one.”

On an early episode of The Cosby Show, that’s the line Theo Huxtable told Stevie Wonder he’d use at a party. To my young ears, it sounded old and dated — the kind of phrase that would sit in the company of “jive turkey” and “foxy…

Just Rankin’ Sh!t

After Nas got The Firm back together, what other kinda-cool comebacks can we expect?

8. Odd Future

OFWGKTA is like the Oklahoma City Thunder back in 2012: A core group with enough talent to build a dynasty that sadly splintered before bringing home a championship. But could a crew that made its name by pushing the limits of NSFW rap reconcile that aesthetic with the soulful turns…

Too many times, a progressive image has crumbled under misogynistic acts

Talib Kweli. Photo: Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Back in 1998, André 3000 put his own spin on that old adage about judging a book by its cover. “Is every nigga with dreads for the cause?” he mused rhetorically on the title track of OutKast’s third album, Aquemini. “Is every nigga with golds for the fall?” The point…

LEVEL

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