20 Mar 2015

Weekly Reading: Best longreads on the web

9:48 am on 20 March 2015

Our weekly recap highlighting the best feature stories from around the internet.

Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick Lamar. Photo: Unknown

Kendrick Lamar, Emboldened, but Burdened, by Success - by John Caramanica, New York Times

"[Mainstream hip-hop is] still a privileged space for black expression, but has also become extremely conscious of everyone else listening in. Broadly speaking, it has reframed its concerns as universal, not specific. It is, by and large, polite — a warm and welcoming host. Which is why Kendrick Lamar is the most ornery of modern rap stars. His concerns are personal, local, interior. He prefers narratives to anthems, verses to choruses, intricate feelings to intricate rhymes.".

Hex Factor: Watching Natalia Kills and Willy Moon Leave New Zealand - by Don Rowe, The Spinoff

"In the end, the biggest hindrances to Willy Moon and Natalia Kills leaving the country were probably the tightness of his pants and the height of her heeled boots. Heads forward they strode briskly down the terminal like Mr and Mrs Severus Snape. Deaf to my questions, they stopped for nothing. After arriving in a blaze of publicity all those months ago, they were slinking off in the dead of night."

When do We Get to Speak? - by Mohamed Hassan, The Pantograph Punch

"When we don’t allow Muslims a platform and a voice within our communities, it then becomes a little bit tricky finding talking heads when the headlines call. The reality is it’s too hard to decontextualise political conflicts and structures of discrimination within the confines of a 30 second voice-over on an hourly bulletin, and who wants to talk about orientalism at 8am on a Sunday morning?"

He who chokes last holds the trophy highest - by Mark Reason, Stuff

"We are now in squeaky bum time, as Alex Ferguson described it. Call it choking, bottling, bricking, yipping, gagging, sport can be really scary at times. Some of the best in the world can go from athletic superstar to sobbing toddler, unable to master the most basic motor skills."

Disappropriation: Cripping up, winning big - by Kirsti Whalen, The Pantograph Punch

"Diversity might be a popular cache in the modern media, but it looks pretty different from the inside. While I understand that actors exist to portray someone that they are not, I wonder when the kids I teach will be auditioned to fill such roles. Barring the odd and glaring exception, we drew a line in the sand when it comes to blackface a while ago, but actors are still cripping up and being lauded for it. If the talented kids I know auditioned for parts that actually reflected their disabilities, it seems they wouldn’t stand a chance." 

City of Austin Braces For Massive Influx of Nerds - by Cathy Lew, The New Yorker

"One of the most prominent breeds, the music nerd, has long thrived in Austin. At times mistaken for a cool person, the music nerd is identifiable by the speed at which he or she informs you that SXSW "used to be about the music, man." One such music nerd was found outside of the Spotify House wearing a made-to-look-vintage Talking Heads tee purchased in 2012. “It’s just a damn shame, you know?” she said, ashing her cigarette. "South-by was our oasis from all of the mainstream bullshit out there, a place where we could celebrate raw sound. I mean, people who don’t know the history don’t even realize that John Mayer was discovered here.""

About Face: Why is South Korea the world’s plastic-surgery capital? - by Patricia Marx, The New Yorker

"If you want to feel bad about your looks, spend some time in Seoul. An eerily high number of women there—and men, too—look like anime princesses. Subway riders primp in front of full-length mirrors installed throughout the stations for that purpose. Job applicants are typically required to attach photographs to their résumés. Remarks from relatives, such as “You would be a lot prettier if you just had your jaw tapered,” are considered no more insulting than "You’d get a lot more for your apartment if you redid the kitchen.""

Susan Miller on Mercury Retrograde, Exes, and Why You Should Read Two Horoscopes a Month - by Kathleen Hou, The Cut

"Three to four times a year, for six weeks at a time, social media blames the nebulous astrological calamity known as Mercury retrograde for everything terrible in life. I've seen Mercury retrograde blamed for everything from L-train malfunctions to Uber-app crashes to texts from your exes just "checking in.""

The Jinx: HBO’s Twisted, Compelling Answer to Serial - by David Sims, The Atlantic

"Serial always saw Koenig strenuously try to keep the convicted murderer Adnan Syed at arm’s length and analyze the discrepancies of his case as dispassionately as possible. What makes The Jinx so watchable, but at the same time so unsettlingly lurid, is that it's examining a case where a man walked free: real-estate scion Robert Durst, acquitted of one murder and suspected, but never charged, in two others."

Did we miss something? Tell us about it in the comments section.