Cowboy poetry, the decline of the critic, Lil Wayne’s boring prison memoir, and more: the week in music writing

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Lil Wayne at the 2016 Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival - KEVIN WINTER
  • Kevin Winter
  • Lil Wayne at the 2016 Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival

Lil Wayne wrote a really boring prison diary—which turns out to be a fitting expose´ of the injustices of Rikers Island

Last October, Lil Wayne published a memoir of his imprisonment at the infamous Rikers Island. Jarrod Shanahan writes for The New Inquiry that it's often irredeemably boring—and as a result, it's also the perfect embodiment of the dehumanizing practices of Rikers. [The New Inquiry]

What are the roots of cowboy music, a black Californian asks—and how can he find his place in it?
This long-form piece addresses (among other things) country music, its unseen black roots, and one writer of color's journey through the world of "cowboy poetry."
[MTV News]

Phil Elverum is learning to live again after the death of his wife
Last year, Phil Elverum (the Microphones, Mount Eerie) lost his wife, Genevieve, to cancer. Now he's promoting a new album dedicated to her—and learning how to take care of himself and his daughter in her absence. [Pitchfork]

What happens to criticism when journalism prioritizes "engagement" above all else?
Across the media landscape, critics are being laid off or stripped of their influence—especially critics who pay thoughtful attention to genres whose cultural importance outstrips their ability to attract a mass audience. Longtime New Yorker critic Alex Ross, who's distinguished himself with his writing on 20th-century classical music, asks the unavoidable question: What do we lose when they go? [The New Yorker]

Trap music has brought Atlanta onto the global stage, but the city's relationship with its biggest cultural export remains tense
Trap music has overrun the charts and brought Atlanta to the forefront of the global pop-music conversation—but how do the politics, economics, and social circumstances of America's "black mecca" interact with the genre's success? [NPR Music]

Classic Chicago house label Trax Records talks about its future
Trax Records, the most famous (and infamous) of Chicago's 80s house labels, has uploaded much of its classic discography to Bandcamp.  Jorge Cruz (who runs Trax with cofounder Screamin Rachael Cain) spoke to Bandcamp Daily about the label's influence on current producers and what makes it special all these years later. [Bandcamp Daily]

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