Dope Stuff

Creators

Artists and creators across many mediums:

Elena Kazi

Elena Kazi boomboxes Elena Kazi makes dope hand-painted boom boxes among other dope music and creations.

Ali Graham

Ali Graham screenshot Ali Graham makes amazing digital art, with an expansive portfolio here.

Concrete Jungle Studio

Concrete Jungle Studio sculptures I love these Wu-Tang Clan sculptures created by artist Steven Cartoccio. I found them and many other cool items through curator Lex One (@lexonegtps).

Matt Daniels

Matt Daniels rapper vocab image I've posted a few projects by him. His project The Largest Vocabulary In Hip Hop is the first project I knew him by.

Brandon Spahn

Brandon Spahn playing cards Check out Brandon Spahn's incredible creative hip-hop playing cards, discussed in-depth here.



Media & Curators

Curators and content creators I rely on to keep me up to date in this fast-paced world:

The Company Man

The Company Man logo The Company Man, aka Justin Hunte, has amazing video content. I wrote more about him here.

okayplayer.

Okayplayer logo This is the one blog that made it out of the blog era for me. Founded by Questlove, and the record label home of The Roots, I always trust okayplayer.

Real Late w/ Rosenberg

Real Late cover A great weekly source of new hip-hop and rap that sticks closer to the rap-heavy lyrical hip-hop I grew up on. See below for more Rosenberg.

Juan Ep Is Life

Juan Ep cover Dope podcast from DJ's Peter Rosenberg and Cipha Sounds.



Books

I'm always on the look-out for a good hip-hop book:

Hip-Hop (& Other Things)

Hip-Hop and Other Things cover

October 2021, Shea Serrano.

HIP-HOP (AND OTHER THINGS), which was an instant New York Times bestseller upon its publication, is the third and final book in the (AND OTHER THINGS) series. It's 32 chapters long. And every chapter is a different rap question that needs to be answered. You should buy it.

Music Is History

Music Is History cover

October 2021, Questlove.

Music Is History combines Questlove’s deep musical expertise with his curiosity about history, examining America over the past fifty years.

Focusing on the years 1971 to the present, Questlove finds the hidden connections in the American tapes- try, whether investigating how the blaxploitation era reshaped Black identity or considering the way disco took an assembly-line approach to Black genius. And these critical inquiries are complemented by his own memories as a music fan, and the way his appetite for pop culture taught him about America.

A history of the last half-century and an intimate conversation with one of music’s most influential and original voices, Music Is History is a singular look at contemporary America.

Contact High: A Visual History of Hip Hop

Contact High cover

October 2018, Vikki Tobak.

The perfect gift for music and photography fans, an inside look at the work of hip-hop photographers told through their most intimate diaries--their contact sheets.

Featuring rare outtakes from over 100 photoshoots alongside interviews and essays from industry legends, Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop takes readers on a chronological journey from old-school to alternative hip-hop and from analog to digital photography. The ultimate companion for music and photography enthusiasts, Contact High is the definitive history of hip-hop's early days, celebrating the artists that shaped the iconic album covers, t-shirts and posters beloved by hip-hop fans today.

The Rap Year Book

The Rap Year Book cover

October 2015, Shea Serrano.

The Rap Year Book takes readers on a journey that begins in 1979, widely regarded as the moment rap became recognized as part of the cultural and musical landscape, and comes right up to the present. Shea Serrano deftly pays homage to the most important song of each year. Serrano also examines the most important moments that surround the history and culture of rap music—from artists’ backgrounds to issues of race, the rise of hip-hop, and the struggles among its major players—both personal and professional. Covering East Coast and West Coast, famous rapper feuds, chart toppers, and show stoppers, The Rap Year Book is an in-depth look at the most influential genre of music to come out of the last generation.

Complete with infographics, lyric maps, hilarious and informative footnotes, portraits of the artists, and short essays by other prominent music writers, The Rap Year Book is both a narrative and illustrated guide to the most iconic and influential rap songs ever created.

Decoded

Decoded cover

November 2009, Jay-Z.

Decoded is a book like no other: a collection of lyrics and their meanings that together tell the story of a culture, an art form, a moment in history, and one of the most provocative and successful artists of our time.



Organizations

Organizations with missions I love:

Noname Book Club

Noname Book Club logo

We’re an online/irl community dedicated to uplifting POC voices. We do this by highlighting two books each month written by authors of color. In addition to building community with folks across the country we also send our monthly book picks to incarcerated comrades through our Prison Program.

I've been a huge fan of Noname since hearing her 2016 Telefone. I'm an equally huge fan of her book club.

John Walt Foundation

John Walt Foundation logo

The John Walt Foundation empowers and enables youth across multiple artistic platforms. We intend to partner professional artist with youth to help mentor as well as build their artistic futures. We are here to embolden the creative soul of every young artist by inspiring a few to take their dreams and accomplish them.

This organization was founded in honor of one of my favorite artist's (Saba's) cousin.

Cultural Affairs Commission

Cultulal Affairs Commision logo

“Edu-tainment” and arts activism guide the purpose of the commission. Programs are meant to ignite conversation regarding current events, facilitate exhibitions of creativity, and engage more student investment, connection, and participation. Our programs foster an inclusive environment to permit students at UCLA to challenge and exchange with one another and to achieve intersectional solidarity.

I participated in this organization and it was one of my favorite school experiences.



Songs

I've got a few playlists I share with friends to share our favorite songs. Peep those here!

In the future I'll be sharing some of my other party/mood/genre playlists. Stay tuned!



Albums

Last updated February 2022

These are my top 10 album recommendations across a few different categories.

These aren't necessarily my favorite projects or what I think are the best projects, but they're the ones I want to highlight and share most. For example, I don't think classics like To Pimp a Butterfly or The College Dropout need the extra signal boost or more listeners. Everyone already knows how good they are.

If you DO want to see personal top albums and my favorites across time, subscribe to my newsletter because I'm currently rating ALL my favorite albums and wil share that soon.

Last 4 Years

These are some of my favorite albums from the last 4 years. I try to let projects breathe before moving them to my genre-specific lists.

Hip-Hop/Rap

Reminder: if you think there's a huge omission here, odds are that it will be on my upcoming all-time album rankings page.

Everything Else

I've been expanding my tastes in recent years but for now I'm most confident splitting my list by hip-hop and NOT hip-hop.