I was just thinking back on this Skinny Boys joint, "Jock Box." This was back in the days of dinosaurs when you couldn't have a rap group, without having a beatbox. Jock Box was The Skinny Boys entry. This joint came out twenty five years ago, and the reasons I liked it as a ten year old are not the same reasons I liked early Boogie Down Productions and I don't think those are the same reasons I liked Nas.
I do a lot of talking here about lyrics. But that's mostly because I don't know enough to discuss hip-hop, musically. Still it's worth noting that very often--especially with the Skinny Boys--I just liked the sound. It's also why I shy away from hardcore judgments about today's scene. Aesthetics in art change. There's no reason to expect them not to.
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is a national correspondent for The Atlantic
, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of The Beautiful Struggle
, Between the World and Me,
and We Were Eight Years in Power