Kendrick Lamar and Female Cartoonists: The Week in Pop-Culture Writing

Kendrick Lamar performs at Coachella Music & Arts Festival in California.
Kendrick Lamar performs at Coachella Music & Arts Festival in California.Amy Harris / AP

Kendrick Lamar’s Holy Spirit
Hua Hsu | The New Yorker
“The considerable pressure put on Lamar has been unfair, and Damn rejects the notion that he has all the answers. Still, within hours of its release, there were theories, which proved to be untrue, that on the first track Lamar represents his death, and that a follow-up album, in which he is resurrected, would come out on Easter Sunday. It feels like a relief when the renowned New York DJ Kid Capri, a voice from a different era, pops up between tracks to play the role of the hype man, as though to remind you that what you are listening to is still hip-hop, not holy scripture.”

Why We Love to Believe the Myth of Everyday Cooking
Maria Bustillos | Eater
“Because cookbooks are works of art and artifice, just like any other writing. They’re the fruit of an effort to create certain effects, to make a certain impression. It’s that impression we are after when we read and make use of a cookbook—its romance, its ethos, and its way of thinking about not just cooking, but living.”

Kara Walker’s Next Act
Doreen St. Félix | Vulture
“It’s been nearly three years since the Sphinx, and Walker has spent the time interrogating what it means to make monumental and political art—representational or abstract—on the terrain, sites, and buildings in which the lives of black people have been compromised in some way. That is, how to exhume the traumas and delights of an environment rather than fabricating scenes out of black paper—and how to guide the problem of how people look.”

Recommended Reading

How Female Cartoonists Are Changing Mainstream Publications
Hazel Cills | MTV News
“The ‘sameness’ of cartooning doesn’t just occur on a hiring and commissioning level, but in the illustrations themselves. In 2015 a study conducted by the journal Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science found that over 70 percent of characters depicted in New Yorker cartoons are white men, with women disproportionately depicted as moms, wives, and assistants. And many female artists find themselves playing down aspects of their work that are too feminine, too queer, or too diverse to meet a traditional look of mainstream comics and illustration.”

The Heart of Whiteness: An Interview With Rachel Dolezal
Ijeoma Oluo | The Stranger
“There was a moment before meeting Dolezal and reading her book that I thought that she genuinely loves black people but took it a little too far. But now I can see this is not the case. This is not a love gone mad. Something else, something even sinister is at work in her relationship and understanding of blackness.”

All Eyes on Vibe Magazine’s 1996 Death Row Cover
Justin Tinsley | The Undefeated
“Death Row Records was a byproduct of the post-Reaganomics, crack-cocaine era that transformed South Central Los Angeles into a 1980s war zone. The music, profoundly explicit, was the embodiment of neighborhoods and fractured households ripped to shreds by a society that would have forgotten about it had it not been for hip-hop.”

We Are Living in the Golden Age of Reality Television
Josephine Livingstone | The New Republic
“The idea of one big mainstream reality that these shows traded on was, of course, never a reflection of most lives. By contrast, the niche reality shows reveal a range of American cultures and give the audience a new experience: the chance to plunge into others’ unfamiliar realities. Dividing ‘reality’ into ever more microscopic fields, the joyously weird new contest shows celebrate the deviations from the normal, amplifying a subculture’s arcana to stadium size.”

Looking Back at the Sexual Politics of Chasing Amy, 20 Years Later
Shannon Keating | BuzzFeed
“At the time of its release, and in the years since, a number of queer critics and academics have criticized the film for attempting to school its audience of primarily straight nerd-bros in Lesbianism 101 (how sex between women works; virginity as a social construct) only to end up punishing its lesbian character for her sloppy sexual history. It’s much less a lesbian film than it is a clueless bro’s coming-of-age story that just happens to have a lesbian character—and she exists, for the most part, in the service of the straight dude, kickstarting his evolution without getting much in return.”