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a multimedia project • launched 1 january 2016
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A collection of WSH's best essays + podcasts.

Posts tagged JAY-Z
Mel Washington on J. Cole, standom, Starbucks + other related topics (Ep. 8)

Originally recorded April 21, project curator Larry J. Sanders welcomes Melvin Washington to discuss the new J. Cole album (4:40), Cole as social media punchline (6:30), whether fame and authenticity can mesh (16:40), standom and its effect on art (20:45), the Starbucks controversy (25:55), and how to keep systemic issues in the national conversation in 2018 (30:00).

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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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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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Willie Mac Jr. | WSH Radio (Ep. 6)

This week, project curator Larry J. Sanders welcomes nascent Detroit artist + entrepreneur Willie Mac Jr. to discuss old Bates Academy (2:05), his transition into music (3:50), performing "Dance Willie" (15:40), shooting the video for "Detroit's Own" (20:10), their mutual love of JAY-Z (24:00), birthday love for young Cedric Gill (37:50), how good Joel Embiid is at basketball (47:20), and quick hits on James Harden, LeBron, the OG Thunder, and Kyrie Irving (52:00).

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The Third Annual WSH (Not Very) Highly Scientific Ranking of the Year's Best Songs, Day Five

“Family Feud” is a piece of a larger tapestry, of course, but, similar to “LUST.” on Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN., "Family Feud" is 4:44’s axis; feuding with others — and most crucially, himself — led to this album’s creation in the first place. It’s not so difficult to live a decent life; if we all treated others with the care and consideration we'd like to experience ourselves, we’d live in a much happier world. But our lustful, self-serving impulses tend to handicap us in the worst possible ways, and until we recognize these impulses as more detrimental to the collective good than as beneficial to our personal individual goals, we’ll continue to see the same negative results.

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