A profile of Nicki Minaj.
“Like they said in Step Brothers: Never lose your dinosaur. This is the ultimate example of a person never losing his dinosaur. Meaning that even as I grew in cultural awareness and respect and was put higher in the class system in some way for being this musician, I never lost my dinosaur.”
The postscript of a viral hit.
A profile of the Hot 97 DJ a few months after “he told the truth about who he is, even if it’s not entirely clear—even to Mister Cee himself, even now, to this day—what exactly that truth is.”
“The first point he makes several times is that his new album will appeal to everyone; the second is that he is a changed man who’s grown up and calmed down. All I can say with certainty is that Brown is a stranger to the concepts of modesty and consistency.”
The turf wars at New York City’s hip hop station, Hot 97.
Scott Storch, a producer who earned six figures for beats he made in less than an hour, was worth an estimated $70 million. Then he blew it all in a bizarre cocaine binge.
Trevell Coleman wasn’t sure whether he’d killed a man. But after 17 years, he needed to find out.
The story of a bizarre—and bizarrely effective—smear campaign.
A history of the cell phone ringtone.
Many recent hip-hop songs make terrific ringtones because they already sound like ringtones. The polyphonic and master-tone versions of “Goodies,” by Ciara, for example, are nearly identical. Ringtones, it turns out, are inherently pop: musical expression distilled to one urgent, representative hook. As ringtones become part of our environment, they could push pop music toward new levels of concision, repetition, and catchiness.
A profile of Suge Knight, 29 and the C.E.O. of Death Row Records, before the deaths of Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.
As the hip-hop group Odd Future rose to fame, their sixteen-year-old breakout star Earl Sweatshirt mysteriously disappeared.
(After a stretch at a school in Samoa, he seems to have reappeared yesterday.)
A few years ago, before anyone knew his name, before rap artists from all over the country started hitting him up for music, the rap producer Lex Luger, born Lexus Lewis, now age 20, sat down in his dad’s kitchen in Suffolk, Va., opened a sound-mixing program called Fruity Loops on his laptop and created a new track... Months later, Luger — who says he was “broke as a joke” by that point, about to become a father for the second time and seriously considering taking a job stocking boxes in a warehouse — heard that same beat on the radio, transformed into a Waka song called “Hard in da Paint.” Before long, he couldn’t get away from it.
GQ: Your relationship with your biological father seems complicated. Lil Wayne: He don't give a shit about me. And I don't give a shit about him. I know his friends be like, "Damn, nigga. That is not your son. Stop lying. Nigga, you could be living in a motherfucking ranch right now, nigga." You know, whatever your father's into, if you're rich, you're gonna get him that shit. I would've got that nigga all kinda harnesses, ranches—you know what I mean? I saw the nigga recently—I had a show in New Orleans. And I ain't afraid to put this out there, 'cause this is just how much I don't give a fuck about a nigga, and I want people to see how you're not supposed to be. I was parked at the hotel, and I saw him walking outside the hotel. Just walking back and forth. I'm like, "Look at this nigga! You gotta be looking for me." If Lil Wayne got a show in New Orleans, the whole of New Orleans knows. Basically, you're not there for nothing else but me. So I call my man on the bus. I'm like, "Nigga, that's my daddy." He's like, "Word? Oh shit. That nigga looks just like you!" So I tell my man, "Go see what's up." So my man goes to holla at him. He tells my man, "Oh. I didn't know y'all was here. I'm here waiting for this little ho to get o¬ff. Get off¬ work from the hotel." For real? That's when I was like, "Typical Dwayne Carter." So that's what's up with me and my real father. I don't want to look like his ass, but I do.
Rick Ross was born William Leonard Roberts II in 1976, and he borrowed his stage name (and the associated big-time cocaine-selling hustler persona) from the legendary L.A. drug lord Freeway Ricky Ross. But the website MediaTakeout uncovered a photograph of William Leonard Roberts II when he was a Florida corrections officer. Most people thought that'd be the end of his career. Freeway Ricky Ross then sued him for stealing his name. None of it mattered. Rick Ross the rapper just sold more records.
On Kimora Lee Simmons, then the head of the Baby Phat clothing company and wife of Russell Simmons.
“Let me take off my glasses,” she says, removing her large frames. “I want you to see my eyes. I will beat a bitch’s ass!”
A campaign diary of Luther Campbell’s (better known as Dr. Luke of 2 Live Crew) run for Mayor of Miami-Dade County.
On the producer Timbaland, then best known for collaborations with Missy Elliott, Aaliyah, and Ginuwine.
A single-page version of Shalhoup’s reporting on the Black Mafia Family, one of the largest cocaine empires in American history.
Horror-rap’s annual festival draws thousands of clown-makeup wearing Juggalos - devotees of Insane Clown Posse - for a weekend devoted to spraying Faygo soda, rioting, and discussions of the occult.
The contradiction-rich world of Maya Arulpragasam.
The where-are-they-now stories of MC Ren, DJ Scatch, Sir Jinx, Kid Disaster, Candyman, and everyone else on the cover of 1987’s N.W.A. and the Posse.