This newsletter marks the latest installment of Irregular Vegetables, a weekly series of CABBAGES emails where I share links to recent writings from other hip-hop/rap/cannabis journos and critics, squeezing in my own work as I see fit.
Enjoy this week’s reads and keep scrolling for another edition of Crudites, where I recommend three recent singles/videos from hip-hop artists you may not be familiar with yet.
“I feel like I just woke up,” Hodgy Beats says. He’s standing in front of the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, on a fair-weather afternoon the Monday after Thanksgiving, and although he came here straight from the airport, he’s not talking about feeling groggy, but about a spiritual awakening. It happened when he was 29; he’s 33 now, and ready to reintroduce the new Hodgy that he’s spent the last six-odd years finding. First things first: That moniker, the one he used as a quick-witted, lyrically dexterous founding member of Odd Future, is gone. These days he goes by Jerry, the nickname he anointed himself with in childhood, a spin-off of his government name, Gerard Long. The new music he’s putting out—a three-song sampler that he released in November, another three songs last week, and the album they’re building up to—won’t even live on the old Hodgy DSP or YouTube pages, algorithms be damned. “I'm grounded in the rebrand,” he tells me as we stroll around a serene pond on the museum grounds. “I don't care how long it takes, I'm moving forward in a different direction.” (Read more at GQ)
Of course, when you’re a kid growing up in NYC, enamored with the community of rap culture, the posse cuts and the fly shit, you want to put the whole city on your back. But Wiki says that he was never cocky about his growing position in the rap scene following the break up of Ratking.“I wanna be a representation for the city,” he says. “I don’t have to be ‘the one’ but it’s like, I’m a f*cking representative of the city. One of them.” With Ratking, Wiki found early community by finding common ground across New York and London artists, traveling and making lifelong friends. “At the time, Ratking was still in its own [world]—we really wanted to be like, ‘nah, this is hip-hop,’ but we were also experimental,” he says. “Because of that, I didn’t feel too much [pressure]. We were just doing our own thing. I didn’t feel like I was fully aligned with the rap scene; it was one foot in, one foot out. I was just having fun and trying to meet new people.” (Read more at Passion Of The Weiss)
As queenships go, Nicki Minaj is running shit like Hillary Clinton. She ascended into rooms where women weren’t welcome, while earning intense criticism for hawkish foreign policy and devotion to a husband the audience doesn’t trust. (Kenneth Petty, the childhood friend she married in 2019, was registered as a sex offender for a 1994 rape he served four years for; the accuser sued the couple last year, saying that they tried to strong-arm her into help with getting him off the registry.) As a new mother, she has also had her house swatted, validating the choice not to tell us much about her son, for whom we only have the nickname “Papa Bear,” a somewhat impressive feat for the TMZ era. 'Pink Friday 2' is grappling with all of this as much as it is gesturing to a beloved juncture in her journey. There’s a Bonnie and Clyde air that didn’t exist when she was dating Safaree or Meek Mill. But no one with sensible or psychotic reasons to hate her has been successful at getting her out of the paint. 'Pink Friday' 2 wants you to know that. (Read more at Vulture)
By the 1980s, the paradigm of plugging one’s home — a city, a borough, sometimes down to a street name — in lyrics was taking off. In 1986, MC Shan and Marley Marl, both in their 20s, released “The Bridge,” an ode to the Queensbridge housing projects, where they grew up. A number of other groundbreaking hip-hop artists also came out of Queensbridge, including Roxanne Shante and Dimples D, who are name-dropped in the track. The chorus repeats, “The Bridge, Queensbridge.” One verse in particular caught the attention of Boogie Down Productions, a hip-hop group from the Bronx — “You love to hear the story again and again / Of how it all got started way back when / The monument is right in your face /Sit and listen for a while to the name of the place.” This would launch a battle between boroughs over the origin of hip-hop. (Read more at the New York Times)
Three new tracks for you to snack on...
Erick The Architect, "Shook Up (feat. Joey Bada$$ and FARR)"
Wino Willy, "Sutra (feat. Gabe 'Nandez)"