3 Things That Are Blowing My Mind Right Now

1. Guru

On Monday, the world lost one of the finest MC's of the past 20 years. Keith Elam, better known as Guru, one half of the legendary duo Gang Starr, died of cancer on April 19th. He had been battling this cancer in a comatose state and was certainly not expected to make it. Nonetheless, for someone who did some serious growing up during what is widely considered one of the true "golden eras" of hip hop---the first half of the 90's---this was quite a blow, I have to say.

Guru's legacy will most certainly include his two Jazzmatazz albums, wherein he united famous jazz musicians with himself and other MC's to spark what became a new wave of jazz-hip hop collaborations and sounds, frequently copied, but rarely matched. MC Solaar, now world-renowned French rapper certainly owes his career in the Americas to his hit single with Guru, "Le Bien, Le Mal."

More than anything, though, Guru had his head on straight. I know I sound like an old dude when I say this, but not a lot of mainstream rappers talk about the sort of social, racial, political issues Guru was fond of unashamedly rhyming about. Down below here is the one I could listen to for days on end, no joke. Put this one on your stereo and just TRY to get anything done. The beat by DJ Premier is nothing short of perfectly hypnotic. The video is a thick allusion to THX-1138, Lucas' pre-Star Wars feature-length. Rest in peace, Mr. Elam. You did well.

2. Internet flash poetry

OK, yes, Christian Bok makes me nuts most of the time. However, this collaboration using flash technology really brings to life a small portion of his best-selling Eunoia. Notice how quiet the composition feels, even as it stretches, collapses, becomes frenetic, and relaxes again. Mouse over a node and it shows the text. Click it and it goes haywire. To undo the freneticism, click "reset." A clean, intelligent way to make poetry relevant using interaction, the strength of the digital age. Check it out here.

3. Sarah Lindsay's Twigs & Knucklebones

Truth be told, this book is a couple of years old. And another truth be told, my lovely wife bought this for me for Christmas......two years ago. Such is the life of a teacher and the lack of free time to read. Boy am I glad I've finally gotten around to this one.

Lindsay is certainly not breaking any new ground in the style column, nor is she particularly astute in terms of content. She does, however, do just about the best job I can possibly imagine in simply crafting a strong narrative. The entire middle section of the book is the story of an imaginary lost kingdom called Nab. Unexpectedly, though, the section is almost as much about the anthropologists and scholars discovering Nab as it is about the people who lived there. Fascinating. Click here and you'll be sent to Left Bank Books' website, because we wouldn't want to support big ol' bad Amazon, now would we?


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