W  H  A  T  S  U  I  T  S  H  I  M
launched 1 january 2016
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FILM, TELEVISION + MUSIC

Posts in Essays
Rhy Speaks: On The Playa Haters' Ball

The Playa Haters’ Ball is easily one of the best in show history. I cannot understand how fans of Chappelle fail to discuss this sketch when talking about its most memorable moments. The skit’s humor is rooted in how natural it all feels, the chemistry between these friends and just naturally funny people fueling the bulk of it. Based on nothing but my personal speculation, the totality of that episode isn’t quite as memorable as others and that precludes it from consideration. Or even more simply, maybe people just don’t appreciate true comedians and pure Black comedy.

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Welcome to Inć University

On Back to Cool, Willie Mac Jr. tutors listeners in the art of maintaining individual thought on the way to achieving life’s complex goals, skillfully satisfying the desire we all have to remain unique while showing the benefits of leadership and collaboration. Luckily, class isn’t quite full yet, so grab a seat and learn something.

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The Philosopher & the Preacher

With vivid detail, enthusiastic candor, and — frankly — better philosophical fluidity than most of today’s elected officials, their bars provide a genuinely sound logic for everybody: for teenagers seeking their purpose, students struggling with academia, politicians trying to make the world a better place, and parents simply hoping to connect with their children. The broad approach of their art makes the similarities clear, but make no mistake: J. Cole and Big KRIT will teach you vastly different things about yourself.

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Lórenzo J’s Mid-Aughts Music Review, Week 3.5

Aside from “Irreplaceable” — which is definitely the people’s champ of that album — and “Ring the Alarm,” which I can definitely admit to overrating because of the music video, “Kitty Kat” emerged as my personal favorite, a four-minute farewell to a (now-former?) lover, Bey setting him straight for choosing apparently everything else over fulfilling her sexual needs. I was 14 the first time I’d heard this song; I honestly don’t think I realized to what the song’s title was referring until I was much older. Didn’t really care. The beat is immaculate — produced by Pharrell and Chad, because of course — and she sounds like such a boss the entire track. On what definitely has to be considered a statement album, “Kitty Kat” might not be the loudest declaration, but it is definitely the most unabashed. She’s unapologetic throughout B’Day, but her cool on “Kitty Kat” takes it up just a notch. This is “know yourself; know your worth” years before Aubrey said it, “if you don’t want me, then don’t talk to me” without any of Fantasia’s heartbreak. Beyoncé doesn’t need you. Don’t you ever for a second get to thin... wait, that’s an entirely different song. Regardless, you get the point.

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Lórenzo J’s Mid-Aughts Music Review, Week 2

Ironically — or maybe not — their beef came at the apex of each rappers’ career: Paper Trail is T.I.’s last #1 album on the Billboard Hot 100, and Shawty Lo never saw that kind of mainstream attention on his music again. I might’ve found Tip’s responses petty, but he probably saw a guy he knew and respected and, most importantly, wanted his spot; this guy from down the block might’ve never held T.I.’s universal appeal, but he could threaten his neighborhood status, and that was enough to merit comebacks that were, frankly, mean. It never got violent, and everything ended well enough, but it was a juicy rap storyline in 2008 for sure.

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Details on the Mid-Aughts Music Review Challenge

Welcome!

Much love that you've (potentially) chosen to participate in this writing challenge. I wrote about why this particular era in Black music has always intrigued me during my Week 1 write-up, and I'm glad you find this period — or any period in music — interesting enough to dive into.

I won't keep you here long. Here are da rules:

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Lórenzo J’s Mid-Aughts Music Review, Week 1

I adore way too many Wayne verses to name from this specific period, but this particular "6 Minutes" verse always impresses. This beat is intentionally aggressive, and you can actually hear Wayne taking on the challenge of taming it. Hitting lead-off, that instrumental could've easily swallowed Wayne whole, but you can tell he's eager to prove his technical skill, a proposition I'm sure many rap pundits never considered when Wayne was a true neophyte. Released in the interim between Tha Carters I & II, I hadn't paid much attention to the album series' first installation and therefore had no idea Wayne was even intelligible now — let alone elite. I’d always fight Derrick to rap Wayne's verse; sometimes I’d relent and play Fabolous, but neither of us wanted a thing to do with Cassidy’s part. And Cassidy wasn’t even that bad! It’s just tough having the B+ verse when the guys before you definitely scored much higher than that. I mean, it’s truly a matter of preference: I’ve recently seen folks say they prefer JAY-Z’s “Renegade” verses to Eminem’s. That is an extremely contrarian stance to take, but I’d understand if a rap fan were able to find beauty in how Cass delivers his bars on "6 Minutes." But make no mistake, this is Wayne’s song. You want to see the exact moment Lil Wayne becomes a supernova? Here it is, right here.

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Rhy Speaks: On The Boondocks

I have come to appreciate The Boondocks as a cultural time capsule that has somehow remained relevant despite the fact a great deal of these episodes are over a decade old. I may be aging but the show hasn’t at all, and every time I re-watch them I appreciate the show just a little bit more, especially as I learn more about the world. Now into my mid-20s, it’s clear The Boondocks might always remain culturally and socially relevant, or at least until I’m older. Disagree? "The Trial of Robert Kelly" is the second episode the show ever produced; 12 years later, R. Kelly is still free and was recently accused of holding teenage girls captive in an Atlanta compound. Still relevant.

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Rhy's Black History Month Series: Coming to America

I often struggle with picking a definitive list of my favorite movies, but on today, here’s the shortlist: Silence of the Lambs, The Godfather, and Coming to America. I could easily write an argument for the greatness of Silence of the Lambs or The Godfather, but the clear underdog in my top-three is Coming to America. This is completely unfair, however, and thus why I want to discuss why Coming to America is an undeniable masterpiece that doesn’t get nearly enough credit.

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The Migos Mélange, or You Should Be Able to Tell the Migos Apart By Now

Outside of (maybe) TDE, it’s hard to think of a rap crew more unique than Migos: they each possess styles distinct enough to present individual tracks or individual track elements (choruses, ad-libs, etc), but with a cohesiveness that makes it feel like you’re listening to one artist with one goal and one vision, like you hear on YRN and Culture. I remember years ago I heard Migos and thought Gucci Mane was somehow cloning himself and creating small groups of those clones to make music — a concept I found brilliant. But I was mistaken: Migos aren’t clones of anyone. They are three unique and versatile personalities capable both of producing cohesive projects and impressive individual efforts. And their differences — however minor they appear to be — are likely the key to their brilliance as a collective.

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