Danny Brown and Seven Samurai: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Highlights from seven days of reading about entertainment

Danny Brown performs at the 2014 Budweiser Made in America Festival in Philadelphia. (Charles Sykes / AP)

There’s Only One Danny Brown, and He Just Made Another Hip-Hop Masterpiece
Dan Hyman | Esquire
“His latest [album] is his darkest and most psych-rock effort yet. Atrocity Exhibition is a punishing, warped dissection of an ascendant rapper confronting his demons. It depicts a guy at a personal crossroads, unsure whether the wild-and-wacky party-time self-caricature he’d created of himself, and the live shows he hosted with the manic energy of hardcore DIY gatherings, was in fact the real him.”

My Son, the Prince of Fashion
Michael Chabon | GQ
“For Abe it never seemed to be a challenge at all, and if it was a burden, it was also a gift: From the moment he became himself, what made Abe different—from his siblings, from classmates, from most of the children who have ever lived—was the degree of comfort he felt with being different. Everybody wants to stand out from the crowd, but so few of us have the knack, and fewer still the stomach for bearing up under the crush of conformity.”

How Beige Took Over American Homes
Kate Wagner | Atlas Obscura
“Our houses were painted beige because beige enabled the prospective buyers we (even unintentionally) were designing for to picture their own lives in our houses. Beige is a blank slate—a canvas upon which anyone’s personality can be painted over. The irony is that beige became the painting itself, because of the media-driven trend towards overwhelming interior neutrality, spurred by the idea that it added concrete value to our asset-houses.”

How Should an Advice Column Be?
Megan Marzin | The Point
“While novelists, or memoirists, or poets might merely hope a reader takes something from their writing beyond a literal understanding of the words, advice artists go one step further. Just as they use reader questions as prompts for their writing, readers are explicitly invited to use the answers as prompts for living, ways to get unstuck from old, unhelpful truths and latch on to the truths we need.”

Social Media Got You Down? Be More Like Beyoncé
Jenna Wortham | The New York Times Magazine
“Most people treat social media like the stage for their own reality show, but Beyoncé treats her public persona more like a Barbie—she offers up images and little more, allowing people to project their own ideas, fantasies and narratives about her life onto it.”

Why Hollywood Keeps Coming Back to Seven Samurai
Peter Suderman | Vox
“It’s primal and elegant, a story so simple that it works almost at the level of myth. And like many myths, it’s a story that can be told and retold in almost any setting ... That combination of durability and flexibility is a big part of why Kurosawa’s beloved and widely imitated film has remained so influential for so long. And it is a reminder, as Hollywood plots have grown both flimsier and more complex, of the virtues of a simple, straightforward story told well.”

What Obama Has Meant for Food
Rebecca Flint Marx | The New Yorker
“Ever since Obama made the mistake of uttering the word ‘arugula’ back in 2007, critics of the President have seized upon his foodie tendencies as the surest mark of his élitism. But, during his final months in office, it’s worth noting that Obama cannot be accused of being only an insufferable foodie: He and Michelle have also done more than any other First Couple to confront the problems that plague the American food system.”