2015: I’m so little, but I feel like Shaquille

I’m proud of what I accomplished in 2015, the year I felt at home in Atlanta and with my girl gang:

Deadspin
Fresh Off the Boat Is Huge for Rap Fans and Asian-Americans Alike”

Georgia Public Broadcasting’s On Second Thought (audio)
“Georgia State University Studies Kanye West as a Literary Figure”
“‘We Needed Jeezy: Atlanta’s Trap Music Maestro Marks 10th Anniversary”

The Guardian
“A day inside Adult Swim: the craziest TV network in America”
“Trap kings: how the hip-hop sub-genre dominated the decade”
“Hard in the Paint: how the Atlanta Hawks learned to love hip-hop again”

Live Nation TV
“The 10 Best (And Worst) Things We Saw At A3C”
“It’s Time to Start Paying Attention to Tupelo’s Hip-Hop Scene”

Pitchfork’s The Pitch
“Can OG Maco Be More Than a One-Hit Wonder?”

Rolling Stone
“Inside Matana Roberts’ Wildly Ambitious Jazz-Punk Epic”
“Songwriter Poo Bear: Justin Bieber’s New Album Is His Thriller
“40 Best Rap Albums of 2015” (T.I.’s Da ‘Nic EP, milo’s so the flies don’t come, Raury’s All We Need, DeJ Loaf’s #AndSeeThatsTheThing EP, Future’s DS2)

Scene/Song Missing (video)
“Songplayalisticadillacfunkymissing: Andre 3000’s ‘Hey Ya!'”
“Atlamsterdam: Wallace nearly killed me”

Smashd
“Raury’s Word of Mouth: The Atlanta musician on making a statement”

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May, June & July 2014: Hold up

Over at Idolator, I wrote about some of the best pop songs so far this year and have been writing news stories for up to seven days a week over the past few months. Over at Myspace I chatted with Bas, the first signee to J. Cole’s new Interscope imprint, and Rae Sremmurd, the Tupelo, Miss., brothers duo behind rap’s breakout hit of the summer, “No Flex Zone!!” And for The Pitchfork Review‘s third issue (out soon), I listed the best gas stations in Atlanta to buy a rap mixtape. Mostly, though, I have been scheming while listening to (and inspired by) Eddie Huang’s podcast Monosodium Glutamate; Atlanta talk show Day 1 Radio with Branden Peters, Maurice Garland and Nadine Graham; these Flannery O’Connor-inspired stories, courtesy of Brooke Hatfield; and Open Mike Eagle‘s new album Dark Comedy, “because my True Religion is the thirst…”

April 2014: Straight outta Stankonia

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This is the story I was talking about last month.

I worked with staff writers Rodney Carmichael and Gavin Godfrey, plus staff photographer Dustin Chambers to report about how Atlanta has changed in the past 20 years, using locations cited in OutKast lyrics as a basis of comparison. Through my research, I was finally able to answer a question I’ve had for years: What happened to Big A Car Wash?

Thanks to Grantland for spotlighting a video that Gavin unearthed, of a teenaged Big Boi spitting an anti-drug and anti-alcohol rap at Tri-Cities High School. Thanks also to BuzzFeed for highlighting eight of Dustin’s photos, resulting in “dustin chambers” trending on the site’s music section. Thanks to The New York Times for featuring the story on its NYT Now app.

Thanks to Creative Loafing for the opportunity, everyone who read and gave feedback, and OutKast for being such an inspiration.

February & March 2014: A word from Gangsta Gibbs

On February 18, I spoke with Gary, Indiana rapper Freddie Gibbs for self-titled. We spoke for an hour about life lessons, future goals and his excellent new album Piñata. We also discussed “Broken,” a song he loves because he exchanges verses with a rapper he admires, Scarface, but refused to revisit until Piñata dropped because he addresses his good-but-not-great relationship with his father. “You don’t just need your parents when you’re a child,” he said. “You need them as a grown man, too. Sometimes a grown man’s issue is a grown man’s issue, but you don’t know how to tackle them all the time.”

To be clear, he was talking of how his father, a cop, grew distant when Gibbs started to deal drugs like crack. “I’m not sure if any parent truly knows how to deal with that,” I said, rather unhelpfully, while sitting on the floor of my new and empty apartment, my voice echoing throughout our conversation. As Gibbs could have guessed, his words resonated with me because of my own, much smaller problems; by then, I had avoided my mom’s phone calls for a few weeks because I wanted to feel like I had a firm grasp on my work and this move before I returned them. Still, Gibbs made me realize that I’m terrible at asking for help, and working as a freelancer has made me feel less inclined to do so. Continue reading

January 2014: A few firsts, a song on repeat

Going into the new year, I decided that my personal anthem will be “Get It” by Run the Jewels.

With that in mind, I wrote my first Amazon review on Bun B’s Rapper Coloring and Activity Book.

I also appeared on one of my favorite podcasts, Discovery Network’s Stuff Mom Never Told You. I talked about female rappers, hip-hop feminism and Nicki Minaj. Host Cristen Conger had reached out after I spoke on Southern hip-hop and hip-hop in the South — there’s a difference! — with Dr. Regina Bradley for WonderRoot.

I profiled Maybach Music Group’s new and first-ever signee from Atlanta, Tracy T, for Creative Loafing. I interviewed rising Chicago rapper Lil Bibby for my debut piece at Billboard’s R&B and hip-hop blog, The Juice. I purchased a copy of Cashew Company Journal, No. 001, and I hope to publish something half as stunning one day. (“You know I…”)