Friday Hip Hop: No Hook by Jay-Z

Now that he’s had as many number 1 albums as Elvis, people are finally beginning to recognize the kid of cultural force that Jay-Z represents. You can argue whether he’s the MC that deserves all this attention, but it’s pretty clear to me that American Gangster is his best album in years. It might be the best thing he’s released since his very first album, Reasonable Doubt. "No Hook" is one of the best tracks on this album.

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Better than The Blueprint?

I like The Blueprint a whole lot, but I’d definitely rank it after Reasonable Doubt, and probably also after The Black Album. I think AG is better than Blueprint and Black.

Ever listened to The Gray Album? It’s easily in his top 3, even though Danger Mouse remixed it, etc.

I’ve listened to The Grey Album almost as many times as I’ve listened to The Black Album. Inevitably, I ended up comparing the tracks from each and trying to decide which I like better. For some (e.g. What More Can I Say, My 1st Single, December 4th) it goes back and forth. For others (e.g. 99 Problems (Black Album), Allure (Black Album)) there’s a clear favorite.
Overall I think I prefer the original, but Danger Mouse is certainly a talented producer, and I’ve quite enjoyed many of his other projects.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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