my big bruh michael eagle gets his 22nd century on

(Source: youtube.com, via mikeeaglestinks)

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i am too woke for this today.
i wrote about jaden smith’s dumb single “blue ocean” and how it’s emblematic of the self-obsessed, misogynistic culture drake has helped create.http://www.passionweiss.com/2014/10/02/jaden-smith-blue-ocean/

i am too woke for this today.

i wrote about jaden smith’s dumb single “blue ocean” and how it’s emblematic of the self-obsessed, misogynistic culture drake has helped create.

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(Source: boycottsal)

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an unedited essay on suburbs and lakes

the first time i heard a toothpaste suburb, i was on my way to a funeral.

early on the morning of July 17th, i was in westwood, anxious about missing a flight. the apartment belonged to my then-girlfriend, Rachel, who was asleep because it was the middle of the night and she is less neurotic than i am. i checked my email. milo had sent me his album, complete with a one-line directive: “if i fell off, kill me.” (my Gmail account marked the email “Important mainly because it was sent directly to you”, which would be the theme of this essay if it were published on Thought Catalog.) i put a toothpaste suburb on the ipod. i thought about Don DeLillo. i fell asleep.

i didn’t miss my flight. after a bus and train and two flights and few days and a wake, i was off into the woods.

fifty-odd years ago, my grandparents on my mother’s side built a cottage on previously-unsettled Falcon Lake in eastern Manitoba. my mom and her five siblings spent a good deal of their childhood there. as these things go, my generation dispersed across Canada and into the States, and was thereby limited to summer breaks and long weekends.

my grandmother died earlier this year at 96; the funeral was scheduled for July to wrangle all her sprawling extended family. the cottage, still the big, black “EXT.” prefix for all my mom’s stories, will now inevitably be sold. so we gathered there for what was supposed to be a “fun” “getaway” but was, basically, another funeral.

my mom and her four surviving siblings (the sister to whom she was closest passed away the same week as Amy Winehouse) had prepared for the end of their mother’s life, but not to part with the physical structure. which makes sense the more i think about it.

about a month before all of this, milo had described the album as “trying to bore holes of meaning into mountain dew advertisements”. this worried me a little bit. capital-I important ideas are unstable fodder for rap songs (and pretty much anything else). i have listened to enough talented young artists try and fail to be the voice of a generation or a culture or even a block. as a fan and critic i—unfailingly and to a fault—value the personal and the specific. basically, i didn’t want this dude to get broad. i didn’t get it.

my extended family, like all of Tolstoy’s, has its long-bubbling turmoil. but we’re very civil, where “civil” means almost always happy but sometimes just patient. my cousin and her husband just had a baby and his middle name is Paul. being isolated with your family is a strange thing. one one hand, there’s little to no access to the outside world—when i finally came back, my email looks like what i think Alexis Bledel thinks Cristiane Amanpour’s email looks like. on the other, you have to steal away to be alone.

when i did steal away, it was with a toothpaste suburb. it was a professional preoccupation. the bones in my legs are finally holding up to, like, thirty-five miles a week again, so i would drench myself in bug spray and do too-fast runs with “sanssouci palace” or “objectifying rabbits” on a loop. i figured scratching away at some sort of reading for the album would keep me out of my own head, keep me present. technically, it did. spiritually, it didn’t.

let me explain: when i got back to the States and to my twitter mentions, i told milo that the record was there with me as i was stuck between a death in the family and what came next. my fears about the record’s ambitiousness evaporated; a suburb confronts profound issues, be they financial, romantic, metaphysical, but it doesn’t aim to resolve, or at least doesn’t see resolution as the only valuable outcome.

over and over again, there is confrontation for its own sake. the album’s high point is the hook on “ought implies can and i cannot”:

if i was a necromancer,
i would bring back foster wallace
if i was a necromancer,
i would bring back my friend robert
if i was a necromancer,
i would bring back schopenhauer
if i was a necromancer,
i would be a fucking coward

milo’s unwillingness to let himself go unchecked is the through-line for all of this. there is probably something to be written about this self-examination as coming-of-age story, but it isn’t my goal in this space to parse the album, and certainly not to evaluate it. what i appreciated, i told him, was that the record was with me, but didn’t try to ferry me to an imagined endpoint. there are times on suburb when milo sounds at peace (“you are go(o)d to me”), but they are detours. when he said he was trying to bore holes of meaning into the suburbs, into the monotony, he was starting by looking inward.

on “gaudeamus igitur”, he reduces his inner monologue to something his white friends can’t understand, “an infinite loop of MF DOOM muttering, ‘aight, then.’” “just us (a reprise for Robert who has not been forgotten)” draws its anguished survivor’s guilt from emailed praise. “a day trip to the nightosphere” references Pitchfork. these are not aphorisms, so they hold the power aphorisms are supposed to.

instead of grand, sweeping statements about his fellow twenty-somethings, he raps about eating takeout pizza in unfurnished apartments, browsing Instagram under a too-small afghan, hating BET. and milo often slips into the ethereal, but it’s to a specific end—he isn’t punctuating three- and seven-bar runs with “and therefore you should call your mother” or “see? Bush fucked us all up”. suburb is not as unapproachable or left-leaning as people will tell you; milo is part of a clearly traceable lineage of rappers that spirals from his native Chicago to LA to message boards your older brother frequented. but he will forever be unique in how acutely aware he is of his own thought processes. so while i was playing Risk with people i see once every three years and timidly drinking in front of my parents, i was reminded that i’m bad at examining myself. some people—my friend Jacob always comes to mind—are mindful of their habits, patterns, vices. they know what conjures the depressive spells and the productive afternoons. i don’t. milo does.

and maybe the way to find meaning when you lack to historical context to say you’re fighting a war or communism or Nirvana or whatever is to understand what you’re doing on a daily basis and why you’re doing it and whether it’s healthy for you. but i don’t know.

so i qualified my experience with the album, but according to its author, i shouldn’t have. “that’s probably the climate the record is for”, milo said. “the bizarre delay between death and death ceremony.” then i started thinking about New Yorker pieces about “millennials” and what “this generation” is about and whether milo had captured any of it. and i don’t know, i don’t think that’s a particularly worthy pursuit. and, to draw conclusions from a toothpaste suburb, milo doesn’t, either. instead, he made something about his internal life so vivid and so real that it tricks you into thinking you’re the subject.

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Well, I think everyone in the industry who was going to read this has done so. Here’s the script for “A Million and One Questions”, the pilot of Madison. http://issuu.com/paulthompson86/docs/madison_pilot_revised

Well, I think everyone in the industry who was going to read this has done so. Here’s the script for “A Million and One Questions”, the pilot of Madison.

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billy woods, unabridged.

At the end of December, I interviewed billy woods for Passion of the Weiss.

Unfortunately, not all of our conversation could be fit into a manageable space. Here is most of the rest. I’m keeping some things under wraps (his involvement in the Manhattan project; his long-running feud with Laura Bush), but he talks here at length about Chuck D, Ice Cube, the early days of BET, and navigating the choppy waters of underground rap.

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Photo: Ashes57

Do you remember the first time you heard a rap song?

My first exposure to rap, in a literal sense, was this song called “I’ve Got the Power” by this group called Snap. It was just a big pop song. We were still in Africa, but my mother’s family was always in either Jamaica or New York City, so we would go to New York almost every Christmas and visit her family members. Sometimes we stayed with my cousins in Queens. They would dress like b-boys and had these matching leather jackets and stuff. One of them got killed in the ‘80s.

They were really into the scene that birthed hip-hop, which was this series of Jamaican, dancehall parties in basements. They had turntables and these big ghettoblaster boomboxes and stuff that would nowadays be associated with hip-hop. It’s interesting because that’s what birthed hip-hop—Kool Herc was doing something that people do in Jamaica.

You said “Fight The Power” caught your attention. But you didn’t hear that on the radio.

Do The Right Thing was a very formative experience for me on a lot of levels. Even though I had been born in America and had come back a lot, I didn’t really have a very clear view of American society that was not informed by TV in the ‘80s. I’d seen plenty of Miami Vice [laughs].

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