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Hank Shocklee: The Bomb Behind Public Enemy’s Squad

Tweet  In 1991, when I interviewed Hank Shocklee — the Bomb Squad production crew member who Chuck D once called the “Phil Spector of hip-hop” — the dazzling art of digitial sampling had reached a legal impasse. Shocklee, along with his brother Keith  and Eric Sadler, was one of the architects of the dense and…

Lift Every Voice and Sing3

God Bless the Black American National Anthem

Tweet The paradox of the Obama presidency, CNN recently pointed out, is that it has exposed a more deeply ingrained and widespread racism in America than many realized existed. It’s all very succinctly encapsulated in the Donald Trump pitch “Make America great again,” which of course is code for “Make America white again.” That’s why…

Paul Kantner at Altamont

That Time When Paul Kantner Stood Up to the Hell’s Angels

TweetIf you’ve seen the Maysles brothers’ concert documentary Gimme Shelter, you know the story of what happens in the clip below: Jefferson Airplane begins performing “The Other Side of This Life” during their set at the infamous 1969 Altamont Speedway Free Music Festival, held just east of San Francisco two years after the Summer of Love…

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When Will the Grateful Dead Stop Trolling Us?

Tweet Last week, my friend Whitney suggested I write an essay on the (Grateful) Dead’s incessant trolling of America in 2015. We’d been talking about the monumentally misguided Dead & Company’s announcement in August that they were bringing John (“My dick’s a white supremacist”) Mayer along for another reconfigured Grateful Dead tour as a stand-in for…

Morrissey

Morrissey: Inside Looking In

TweetManchester is 185 railroad miles north of London, linked by signposts that read Rugby, Birmingham, and Stoke-on-Trent; by sprawling misty green meadows, gushing streams, and a zillion grazing sheep. The city itself is a soot-gray mosaic of European architecture, from the high Victorian gothic of its majestic town hall to the palazzo warehouses that color…