Kendrick Lamar and Bay Leaves: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

The highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Mario Anzuoni / Reuters

The Vast Bay Leaf Conspiracy
Kelly Conaboy | The Awl
“I appreciate Sohui’s acknowledgment that it’s easy to think bay leaves might be bullshit. It’s easy to think a lot of things that are plainly true, even if a number of chefs are attempting to gaslight the public about them, as if we are unable to draw accurate conclusions from our experiences.”

25 Songs That Tell Us Where Music Is Going: Kendrick Lamar
Marlon James | The New York Times Magazine
“Hip-hop has always been about spinning clever fictions, doing what great narratives do: inventing stories that tell the truth. But post-Biggie and Tupac, it’s so easy to fall hard for hip-hop’s insistence on keeping it real that I’m surprised how easily I still fall for it, thinking that ‘Butterfly’ is either confessional or reportage, when it’s neither.”

10 Cloverfield Lane: How J.J. Abrams Made a Secret Sequel
David Ehrlich | Rolling Stone
“It was a true ‘holy shit’ moment in a culture that thrives on spoilers and leaks, but the real dagger was what came next: ‘March 11th. In theaters and IMAX’ … At the same time that Abrams was shepherding Star Wars into theaters and orchestrating the most scrutinized marketing campaign in the history of modern entertainment, he was also secretly plotting a genuine Beyoncé moment.”

How Future Makes Us Feel the Slow, Cosmic Push of Time
Chris Richards | The Washington Post
“Future is our bard for these atemporal times—a rapper whose psychedelic mumbles have become one of the most pervasive sounds in pop. Even his stage name is a little revolt against time. He’s a visitor from tomorrow, disguised in big hats and dark shades, hiding out from death along with the rest of us.”

Remembering George Martin, Architect of the Beatles
Bill Wyman | Vulture
“Martin may have been talented musically; his genius socially was to find in this disparate group a sound and a purpose, and guide their natural talents to a place in history. Such phrases are overused in the Age of Kardashian, but any sober observer will attest that the world pre- and post-Beatles was very different indeed.”

Get Information
Joshua Clover | The Nation
“‘Formation’ is a great song. Beyoncé is a great artist. But to glory in the song’s vision, one must also believe her success is that of the culture from which she arises, which she is at pains to name in her genealogy. To believe there is something broadly redeemable about ‘a black Bill Gates in the making’ is to depend on the same cultural nationalism that takes the song as intolerable trespass."

Naked Criticism
Mal Ahern | The New Inquiry
“You could enter a Ph.D. program and write a dissertation on gender performance in the late-20th-century art world, or write a novel that weaves your own dreams and memories into those of your protagonist. Or you could just get to the point and tell us your dreams, trusting the images you conjure to transmit their enigmatic message.”

Watching Downton Abbey With an Historian: What Happens Next?
Mo Moulton | The Toast
“For a show that kept announcing change, what’s striking about the new order coming into view at the end of the episode is how much the underlying structures will remain the same, even as the personnel shifts. So what lies ahead? Historians are not notably good at fortune-telling; our preference, after all, is for what’s dead and buried.”