Conservatives Have a New Marriage to Criticize: Beyonce's
January 30, 2014
A New York Post columnist thinks it proved Jay Z is “a poor excuse for a husband.”
Magna Carta Holy Fail
July 10, 2013
Jay-Z is disconnected from the hip-hop trends that Kanye is pioneering.
The new Bryant is as meta as ever—more a concept than a human being.
Obama's Honeymoon With Hip-Hop Is Over
January 23, 2013
The Lupe Fiasco debacle only highlighted a deeper fissure.
The Email Obama Should’ve Sent After the Debate
October 04, 2012
Hey. Please don’t delete this email out of spite before reading it.
A Message for New Health Professionals—and a Mission
June 13, 2012
Last month, I had the privilege of speaking at commencement exercises for the health professional schools at Nova Southeastern University. It was a homecoming of sorts: I spent most of my childhood in South Florida, about fifteen miles from the campus. But a lot has changed. When I left in the late 1980s, the sports/concert arena where I spoke did not exist. Neither did the hockey team that plays there. As for NSU, I remember it as a small, relatively obscure school, with maybe a few thousand students overall and no significant presence in health care.
David Hajdu on Music: Billboard Goddesses
April 20, 2012
Stardom isn’t normal. It’s familiar, even commonplace—ever-present not only in the realm of actors, singers, and other pop entertainers, but also in the overlapping circles of athletes, politicians, tech “visionaries,” and ambiguously skilled celebrities-as-celebrities whom Americans love to ogle, aggrandize, belittle, and resent. The impulse to idolize is as old as the gods, of course. Jesus was a superstar some time before Andrew Lloyd Webber came around.
Tony Bennett Duets
September 16, 2011
A musical duet is no less susceptible to power dynamics than any other intimate collaboration between two partners. In creative terms, someone is usually on top. Even when figures of virtually equal standing join up, as Kanye West and Jay-Z did recently with their extravagantly produced and even more extravagantly hyped match-up, Watch the Throne, it’s usually clear that one—in this case, Kanye—exerted more influence, if not quite dominance, over the other.
The Self-Indulgence of Jay-Z and Kanye’s New Album
August 12, 2011
Forty years ago this July, a few weeks before what would have been his seventieth birthday (on August 4), Louis Armstrong died of a heart attack in the brick shoebox house in Corona, Queens that is now a museum in his honor. The pallbearers included Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Dizzy Gillespie, and Frank Sinatra, all of whom had shared the stage with Armstrong at multiple points over his long career.
Excellent New Art
January 12, 2011
There are many ways to prop up a currency artificially. “We’re wrestling with the same stuff as Rilke,” Bono recently told The New York Times about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the hapless Broadway wonder for which he collaborated on the music. More specifically, “Rilke, Blake, ‘Wings of Desire,’ Roy Lichtenstein, the Ramones.” I was not previously aware of the Rilkean elements in “Rockaway Beach.” Those elements Bono characterized as “the cost of feeling feelings,” which throws the Blakean dimension into question, but never mind. Precision is really not the point.