Yesterday a friend recommended I check out “How Hip-Hop Failed Black America,” Questlove’s weekly series of essays critiquing hip-hop’s evolution for Vulture. So far I’m interested in the map the beloved drummer of the Roots has devised to discuss the style’s grasp on culture. In the latest installment (part two of six) Questlove compares the way Run-DMC used their shoes to partially symbolize the everyperson’s dreams on “My Adidas” and contrasts that to Jay Z’s ode to unspeakable, almost unthinkable wealth on “Picasso Baby.” I’m taken by Questlove’s framing device for the entire series; he uses quotes from John Bradford, Albert Einstein, and Ice Cube to emphasize three different ideological views to the way we interact with others as a society, which he then ropes back into his dissection of hip-hop history.
I’m most interested in how Questlove reconfigures a scientific quote of Einstein’s (“spooky action at a distance”) to fit a theory about society:
Einstein was talking about physics, of course, but to me, he’s talking about something closer to home — the way that other people affect you, the way that your life is entangled in theirs whether or not there’s a clear line of connection.
Reading this I can’t help but think of La Collection, a mixtape produced entirely by local beat maker C-Sick that Columbia College’s student-run label AEMMP Records released yesterday. It’s not just because Nick Astro raps about wanting to “make a guest appearance on Jimmy Fallon”—after all, the Roots are Fallon’s in-house band, and that hints at some form of societal entanglement—but because La Collection exists in the first place.
I first heard part of the mixtape a couple months ago when Closed Sessions’ Alex Fruchter asked me to visit his Columbia College class, in part to talk about my career. His students had been working on releasing La Collection since the beginning of the school year, and they told me a bit about putting everything together. They decided to approach C-Sick—who has produced for King Louie and Nas, and who also made a Lil Twist song that features Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus—because, as the class tells it, he wanted to support his school.
While C-Sick is taking classes at Columbia College that’s not the case for everyone who appears on La Collection, which kind of provides musical evidence of the way seemingly disconnected lives are entangled, and how they can come together in a more tangible, less “spooky” way. And it sounds great.