With the release of John Ridley’s Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side, it seems like everybody has something to say about the guitar god and Andre 3000, the rapper and actor who portrays him on the silver screen. WRITING FOR GRANTLAND, Alex Pappademus juxtaposes the two artist’s careers and, particularly, the way they stand up to audience perception. He also digs into Hendrix’s many afterlives, noting how the musician’s bio has been transmuted by appropriation and the fog of collective memory:
When you strip them of historical context, trim their legacies to three or four hit songs in a Jack-FM playlist, and slap their images on T-shirts to be sold to generations of collegiate stoners, is there really that much of a difference between Marley and Hendrix anymore? Between Hendrix and Jim Morrison? Between Morrison and Tupac? The more tragic the public figure, the more easily they lend themselves to souvenir-ification and commercialized mourning.
Meanwhile, Andre 3000 has outlived his rap group, Outkast. He is living the kind of adulthood that Hendrix might even have experienced himself: High expectations, and the possibility that he has already produced his greatest work.
In 1994, Nas put out his debut album, Illmatic. There’s been a lot of fanfare for the 20th anniversary, and for good reason.
“Illmatic is, in my opinion, and a lot of people’s opinion, the finest hip hop album ever been created,” says Jay Kang, science and technology editor for NEWYORKER.COM. He was a gigantic hip hop fan throughout the 1990’s. “It’s the sort of cinematic quality of Illmatic, the storytelling in Illmatic, the writing, even of hooks in Illmatic.”
In 2007, there was a little Irish film called Once that starred Glen Hansard from the band The Frames and musician Markéta Irglová. If you never saw it, you might remember when it won the academy award for best song the next year. Glen and Marketa talked about the importance of dreaming big and taking chances and making art.
The ingenuity of a phonograph’s mechanism may incite the inventive genius to its improvement, but I could not imagine that a performance by it would ever inspire embryotic Mendelssohn, Beethovens, Mozarts, and Wagners to the acquirement of technical skill, or to the grasp of human possibilities in the art.
When music can be heard in the homes without the labor of study and close application… it will be simply a question of time when the amateur disappears entirely.
The second episode of Season 2 comes out next week, but we have a little something for you today — a new series we’re calling “Encore.” On our off weeks, we’ll give you a fun, interesting, or weird tidbit that we weren’t able to include in our last episode.
Music is a universe. It’s huge and it’s constantly shifting.
Not only that, the experience of music is highly contextual, personal, and sensuous. Consider, then, the daunting task of music writers: To reconcile this huge musical universe with the limited words we have in our lexicon.
Last week the editorial staff of The New Yorker announced a "Summer Free-For-All" — they’re granting online access to all of their articles going back to 2007. (At least until September, when they unleash their subscription model.) Many, many roundups were done to mark this occasion — so many that THE AWL EVEN DID A ROUNDUP OF ROUNDUPS.