The other day, I saw Cornel West on television say that Lil Wayne’s physical body bears witness to tragedy. I don’t even know what that means, but I do think that Wayne’s artistic persona is a testament to damage.
Sometimes I worry that jazz has been ruined for the 21st century by caricatures of zoot suits and hirsute beatniks snapping away over black coffee, or has been relegated to the pathetic limbo of aural wallpaper at cocktail parties. It’s a shame that jazz doesn’t get the same kind of attention and mainstream buzz it used to.
"I submit that the kind of place Parker holds within jazz tradition is a little like what you would get if you mixed Beethoven with Jimi Hendrix. He was a game changer."
What happens when you put one of the biggest literary egos together with music’s biggest ego? A movie. Bret Easton Ellis is working with Kanye West on a film. “He came and asked me to write the film,” Ellis told Vice. “I didn’t want to at first. Then I listened to Yeezus…I thought, regardless of whether I’m right for this project, I want to work with whoever made this.” This is an interesting pairing because Kanye definitely isn’t a reader.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is almost as famous for being sampled on Beyoncé’s latest album as she is for her novel Americanah. With that in mind, she discussed her writing process, hair blogs, and what feminism means to her in Elle. “It means that I am present in the world, and that I realize that there is a problem with the way we’ve constructed gender,” she said. For more Adichie, read her 2013 Year in Reading post.
Who invented ska music? John Jeremiah Sullivan traces the history of the genre in his latest essay for The Oxford American. “The more the claims for Rosco Gordon’s supremacy as a ska progenitor seem not out of proportion, and the less crazy it feels to say that, in a sense, ska was born in Tennessee.” Pair with: Sullivan’s essay on Bunny Wailer, who makes a cameo in his ska essay.
I said I know what boys like a prayer
a virgin girls just wanna boys
don’t cry don’t don’t you
want me don’t fall on me O
what a feelin’ more than keep
feeling fascination hush hush
voices carry too shy too shy close
to me & you don’t you
forget about hold me now don’t try
to live your life in one day it’s my
life nobody walks in LA woman
every breath you take you take
my breath away there’s always
something in the water
Beethoven may have turned out to be the Grand Experimenter, but did he actually set out to experiment? Radical innovation may be the consequence, rather than the cause, of self-expression at this stratospheric level. Some combination of genius and drive spurred Beethoven’s compositional feats. To satisfy the demands of his genius, Beethoven tilled new musical ground.