Categories
Books Rap Reviews

A Deep Analysis of Lyrics That Tries to Be More – “What’s Good: Notes on Rap and Language” Reviewed

In the opening moments of the iconic track, “N.Y. State of Mind,” Nas almost mumbles, “I don’t know how to start this shit.”

It’s appropriate, almost poetic, that this line kept running through my head as I thought about how to approach this review because Daniel Levin Becker’s What’s Good: Notes on Rap and Language is all about lines and lyrics – how they’re created, how deep they go, how they get stuck in our heads, and, awkwardly, what they mean within the larger societal context.

Categories
Books Longreads Rankings Reading Reviews

Chuck Klosterman’s Best Books

Photo by Christopher Pierznik

“I think anyone who’s not as good a writer as me is absolutely a hack, and I think anybody who’s a slightly better writer than me is brilliant.”

– Chuck Klosterman


I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that Chuck Klosterman influenced a generation of writers and unconsciously blazed a path for how online critique and analysis would be presented in the first two decades of the 21st Century.

He came to the realization that “people want to think critically about the art that informs their life,” and has created a successful, impactful career as a result. 

Categories
Books Hip-Hop Rap Reviews

Biggie Smalls Was the Illest – “It Was All a Dream” Book Review

There are different kinds of biographies.

Some attempt to tell the subject’s story objectively, recounting what happened and placing it in context, but without editorializing or offering opinion. Others are planned as hit pieces, hatchet jobs with a clear intent to damage the person. Still others come from a place of admiration, presenting the individual in a glowing light at every turn.

It’s difficult to tell what It Was All a Dream: Biggie and the World that Made Him by Justin Tinsley was originally aiming to be, but the final product certainly falls into that last category.

Categories
Books NBA Reviews

The Science of the NBA — “The Midrange Theory” Reviewed

To sports columnists and talking heads of a certain age, the word “analytics” has become a pejorative, a shorthand for nerds that are so engrossed in their algorithms that they can’t see the actual game being played on the court.

The truth, as always, is far more complex.

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Books

Drew Magary’s Books

Photo by Christopher Pierznik

I love Drew Magary’s writing. Virtually everyone else online does too.

Categories
Books Reviews

How I Review Books

Yesterday, I posted my review of Dilla Time Dan Charnas.

Today, I thought I’d explain how I review books.

Categories
Books Hip-Hop Rap Reviews

So Much More Than Just a Biography of a Man and a Movement — “Dilla Time” Reviewed

For the most part, whenever I heard a J Dilla (previously known as Jay Dee) beat, it sounded…off, wrong, maybe even sloppy. I couldn’t totally follow it. I wanted to like it, but I couldn’t fully appreciate it. It made me feel a bit discombobulated.

Only much later did I realize that was the intention. Dilla was not only reinventing what was known, he was inventing what was previously unknown.

As Dan Charnas writes, “What Dilla created was a third path of rhythm, juxtaposing those two time-feels [straight time and swing time], even and uneven simultaneously, creating a new, pleasurable, disorienting rhythmic friction and a new time-feel: Dilla Time.”

Categories
Books Reviews Wu-Tang Clan

The Reality Behind the Myth – “From Staircase to Stage” Reviewed

As the Wu-Tang Clan has transitioned into elder statemen of rap where a majority fans want to hear thirty year old classics instead of anything recorded lately, there has been a renewed interest into their superhero origin story. In recent years, the incredible and unprecedented story of the nine-(sometimes ten-)man crew’s ascension from the front of the project building to the top of the hip-hop world has been told multiple times in multiple formats, including a Showtime documentary, a Hulu scripted series, and a pile of books courtesy of both journalists (Chamber Music; From the Streets of Shaolin), and some the group’s members themselves (RZA’s The Wu-Tang Manual and The Tao of Wu; U-God’s Raw: My Journey into the Wu-Tang).

Categories
Books Lessons Life Nostalgia Reading

The Magic of “The Tender Bar”

My personal “Tender Bar” collection — first edition hardcover; audiobook; paperback

“Kid’s a scribbler…”

Film adaptations are tricky. How can you boil down 400 or more pages of story, themes, and character development into a two hour film without losing the impact of what was on the page? 

Anyone that has had their favorite book turned into a movie knows the feeling of being simultaneously excited and anxious, hopeful and terrified, at what the outcome will be.

Now it’s my turn, as the film adaptation of The Tender Bar, the book that completely changed my life, is set to be released in theaters and on Amazon Prime Video. 

Categories
Books Children Fatherhood Parenting Reading

Our Nightly Family Reading Time

“Children reading by lamp light” (Oil on Canvas), by Knud Erik Larsen

A household with two working parents and two children consists of many things but is largely defined by two: routine and chaos.