The Dual Album Design Of Kendrick Lamar’s Major Label Debut Offers A Glimpse Into An Alternative Future

The two albums’ early 90s photographs are highly personal to Lamar, but have a familiarity to the beholder as well

In 2012, good kid, m.A.A.d city brought hip hop’s finest new storyteller to the attention of the masses. Kendrick Lamar’s major label debut tells the story of a kid growing up in Compton, Los Angeles, circumnavigating the pitfalls of gang life, whether by accident or design. The cover art meanwhile provides two stories, perhaps offering us a glimpse into an alternative future. 

It’s a cinematic roman-à-clef that comes at you out of sequence—memory isn’t linear, after all—and the two photographs chosen for two editions of the album conjure up different but connected memories from the immediate past: one is a family scene from a kitchen, and the other, a van sitting in the driveway of Lamar’s old house. While personal to the artist, these pictures from the early ’90s have a familiarity to the beholder too, even if they’re not our own memories.

Exhibit one, for the initial 12-track release, is a picture we’re to assume is of the baby Kendrick surrounded by three older figures who may be relatives. According to Marcus J. Moore’s excellent new biography The Butterfly Effect: How Kendrick Lamar Ignited The Soul Of Black America, that is indeed Lamar in diminutive form, with two teenage uncles and his grandfather sitting to his left. In an interesting visual twist, the eyes of these other figures are blacked out with identity-obscuring oblongs, while the toddler—who you’d expect to be the protected party here—stares into the lens. A few years after this photo was taken, Kendrick, aged just five, would witness a teenage drug dealer gunned down before his eyes, and the year before, he’d seen mass rioting in the streets following the infamous attack on Rodney King by LAPD officers. 

On closer inspection, the photograph is communicating dangers via signifiers, such as a bottle of alcohol sitting on the table—something he’ll addressed on ‘Swimming Pools (Drank)”; meanwhile, the uncle whose lap young Kendrick is sitting on is throwing a surreptitious gang sign with his left hand. Potential downfalls are hiding in plain sight in a picture as symbolically rich as Holbein’s The Ambassadors. “That photo says so much about my life and about how I was raised in Compton and the things I’ve seen,” said Lamar. 

Exhibit two, mounted on the cover for the deluxe version of good kid, m.A.A.d city, is not as easy to read. Lamar’s mother’s van, parked on the street in front of their family home, appears on the cover, shot through a fisheye lens. Intriguingly, while this photo offers less in the way of visual portents, the house itself has become a shrine to fans. Type “Good Kid M.A.A.D City House” into Google Earth and you’ll find the rapper’s childhood home in Compton, and pictures of fans assembled outside like they’re at Graceland. Furthermore, scrawled under the battered Chrysler are the words “a short film by Kendrick Lamar,” adding to the hauntological vibrations.  

“I fought not to have that on the cover!” says designer Don Clark on a Zoom call from his Seattle office. Clark set up the design agency Invisible Creature with his brother Ryan in 2006. “At the beginning I felt a photo of a minivan wasn’t worthy of an album cover, but I’m not always right. Because then his art creates this thing that becomes greater than any of us. That’s the sweet spot I love when working with other artists, when it takes on a life of its own.” 

Clark was initially reluctant to talk about good kid, m.A.A.d city because of his lack of conceptual input into the design. Invisible Creature took 4×6 photos supplied by Lamar and scanned them, adding crease marks to the corners to give the packaging a more distressed appearance, and then superimposed the pictures onto various textures until they found a background that most resembled an old Polaroid. But otherwise, the direction all came from Lamar himself. Within the space of a five-minute conference call, the musician, who was just making a name for himself at the time, had laid out exactly what he wanted in fine detail. His objectives were clear for every inch of good kid, m.A.A.d city, visually and audibly.

There are ten polaroid photos laid out across the deluxe gatefold edition, again all chosen in sequence by Lamar. Clark also disapproved of the graffiti-style font at the base of the sleeve, but he’s willing to concede that that cover has become a fan favorite, and that it has an enigmatic quality, too: mystery, after all, is in short supply these days as cover art becomes utilitarian and avatar-like, a one inch box on a tiny smartphone screen to click on or swipe away. 

The alternative 12-track cover still makes more sense to Clark though, and a couple of serendipitous details add to its ability to communicate: the Parental Advisory sticker is analogous to the photo’s message, and use of the black strips across the eyes of the adults was actually at the insistence of the label. “That was more of a legal thing,” says Clark. “Interscope and the family wanted to do that to obscure their likenesses.” 

Other than obfuscating the identities of the grownups in the room, Interscope was happy to allow their new signing complete artistic freedom to unleash his vision, a gamble that obviously paid off given that Kendrick Lamar is one of the most acclaimed rappers of all time, a state of affairs that really began with good kid, m.A.A.d city

“From the beginning they let him do what he wanted,” says Clark. “He was also [Dr.] Dre’s guy and I think that had a lot to do with it. That’s another amazing thing about him in that he doesn’t care what people will think and his art speaks for itself, and I appreciate that audacity.”

Source: AIGA Eye On Design

Matty Matheson Tastes Vietnam’s Best Fish Sauce

Matty and his best friend and mentor, Master Rang, head to south Vietnam to visit the town where Rang grew up. Matty meets Rang’s family and learns the harrowing story of how Rang came to Canada. Together they explore fish trading, night markets, and Vietnam’s best fish sauce.

Polk City, Florida – Sheriff Grady Judd Says Pastor’s Son Elijah Stansell And 3 Other Teens (Kimberly Stone, Hannah Eubank, Raven Sutton) Will Be Charged As Adults In Death Of Beloved Librarian Suzette Penton

All four teenagers inside the van that ran over the beloved Polk City librarian in November will be charged as adults in her death, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday.

The driver of the van, 18-year-old Elijah Stansell, had his charge upgraded from attempted murder to murder after Suzette Penton succumbed to her injuries last week.

Stansell is the only teen charged with murder. The others — 16-year-old Kimberly Stone, 14-year-old Hannah Eubank, and 16-year-old Raven Sutton — are facing adult charges of attempted felony murder and burglary with assault.

At a press conference Tuesday, Grady Judd outlined the relationship between the teenagers involved in the tragic incident on Nov. 9.

According to Judd, Suzette’s son, Hunter, had been in an ongoing dispute with former girlfriend Kimberly Stone following their breakup six months ago. The dispute got so bad, Judd said, that Stone was suspended from their high school.

On the day Stone was suspended, Judd said she gathered two friends, Eubank and Sutton, and her new boyfriend, Stansell, to go confront and beat up Hunter at his home.

Judd said that’s when Suzette confronted the teens, tried to take pictures of their getaway van, and was ran over by Stansell.

“Runs completely over her,” Judd said. “She has tire tracks on her body where he runs totally over her.”

The getaway van that Judd said Elijah used belongs to the Westwood Missionary Baptist Church, where Stansell’s father is a pastor.

Source: WFLA

Al Pastor Papi – The Al Pastor King Of San Francisco (Street Food Icons)

Miguel Escobedo loves three things: San Francisco, DJing, and al pastor, a spit-roasted pork popular in Mexican cuisine. Originally from Mexico City, Miguel’s passions have spawned a career making some of the best Mexican food in the Bay Area, and his current project, Al Pastor Papi, focuses on perfecting the al pastor experience. Miguel talks about his journey deep into the history of al pastor, where he learned about the food’s roots in Lebanon, and about how giving back to the community he loves has made his culinary career even richer.

Elderly Asian Airbnb Owner Slapped After Telling Group To Leave In Chicago

A video showing an elderly Asian man being slapped across the face as he hands some money back to a young man and his friends staying at his Airbnb in Chicago has been circulating on social media.

The footage, first posted on Dec. 7 at 10 p.m., shows an elderly Asian man handing some cash back to a group of friends before being slapped by one of them.

The elderly man was visibly taken aback by the assault.

Social media users initially believed the location of the incident to be a store in Chicago after the original uploader of the video, “Slick Getem,” wrote in the caption, “Somebody said Made his ass think abt the cat he put innat Chinese food.”

One of the people who claimed to be in the group involved in the incident told NextShark that the man was the owner of the Airbnb they were staying at in Chicago.

They claim the elderly man hit their friend and that the video was blown out of proportion. They added that they can’t make their page public after receiving hate and threats. The Facebook user has since deleted their page. The user who originally uploaded the video also changed his name to “Sli Ck.”

Comments on a Facebook post criticizing the group claimed they were kicked out of the rented Airbnb for being “loud and smoking.”

TikTok user KarmaChibana, who has more than 800,000 followers on the platform, caught wind of the video and reacted to it.

“That is not an excuse to use racial stereotypes against him and slap him in the face,” Karma starts off.

“Just like how the Asian and other communities were there for our movement, why can’t we do the same for them? To my Black brothers and sisters, we have to do better. We need to stand up for our Asian brothers and sisters. I know there’s anti-Black within their community, but we shouldn’t generalize.”

NextShark reached out to the Chicago Police Department which could not verify the location of the incident.

Source: NextShark

Reddit Acquires TikTok/Triller Rival Dubsmash

Reddit has acquired Dubsmash, the lipsyncing video app which launched in 2014 and was largely supplanted when TikTok showed up. 

Announced via Reddit’s blog on Sunday, the annexing of Dubsmash’s 12-person team to Reddit’s 700-strong horde is the popular website’s first major acquisition in its 15-year history.

While the financial terms of the agreement haven’t been disclosed, Dubsmash will be keeping its own platform and separate branding. Dubsmash’s Android and Apple apps will continue to operate as normal, with its video creation tools simply integrated into Reddit’s infrastructure. 

Reddit currently allows users to upload and livestream videos, however its editing capabilities are somewhat lacklustre — a problem this acquisition hopes to address.

“The transition to video will be bigger than the transition to mobile,” Reddit co-founder and CEO Steve Huffman said, speaking via the Wall Street JournalWhich sounds fake, but okay. Pivots to video historically haven’t worked out well, but perhaps the distinction between editorial and user-created content will yield better results.

Dubsmash went through a slow decline in the wake of its 2015 popularity boom, before revamping itself in 2017 to stage an unlikely comeback. While still not as successful as TikTok, the short-form video app established a significant audience by focusing on the one demographic still using it — Black teenagers in the U.S

As such, both Reddit and Dubsmash’s acquisition announcements heavily emphasised the diverse, underrepresented creators who use the app. According to Reddit, a quarter of Black teens in the U.S. use Dubsmash, while 70 percent of users are women or girls.

“By joining forces with Reddit, we expand our ability to serve the creators that represent the lifeblood of Dubsmash, helping them connect, share, and deepen their impact on culture,” wrote Dubsmash co-founders Suchit Dash, Jonas Drüppel and Tim Specht. The trio further reaffirmed their goal to “[create] a safe and welcoming platform for underrepresented communities.”

“Both Reddit and Dubsmash share a deep rooted respect for how communities come together,” said Huffman. “Dubsmash elevates under-represented creators, while Reddit fosters a sense of community and belonging across thousands of different topics and passions.”

Source: Mashable

Only Four Players Were Teammates With Both LeBron And MJ – HoopsHype Spoke To All Four About The GOATs

Only four players in league history were teammates with both Jordan and James: Scott WilliamsLarry HughesJerry Stackhouse and Brendan Haywood. HoopsHype was able to connect with all four of them.

“I don’t think it would be fair to give a comparison on them,” Stackhouse, who only played seven games with James in 2010, told HoopsHype. “I played with LeBron at the prime of his career and I played with Michael in the last year of his career. I just think both are unbelievable players. They’re probably one and two in the history of the game. That’s where I’ll leave it.”

WHAT WERE YOUR EARLY IMPRESSIONS OF MICHAEL JORDAN?

Brendan Haywood: It was a learning experience. You got to see up-close what made him who he was. He was like 40 years old. He didn’t have anything to prove. But he was still one of the hardest workers. I would watch him teach Bobby Simmons the footwork to score in the mid-post. Everything he did was calculated. Nothing was done by accident. He was reading your lead foot. He understood where to go and how to get you off balance and get to his pull-up jumper and how to get your arm off of him if you were trying to be physical. Watching him, you got to learn a lot. 

Larry Hughes: For me, growing up, I played basketball because of MJ. When I got a chance to play with him, I watched all of the small things that you don’t get to see when you are a fan. How did he conduct himself with the media? What time did he go to treatment? I learned how consistent he was with the game-planning and understanding how to get the job done even at an older age. He may have lost a step but he was still effective.

Scott Williams: One of the things that he liked to do was add aspects to his game. During my first two years in the league, he wanted to improve his low-post and back-to-basket game. We played a lot of 1-on-1 after practices. He would have someone throw the ball to him and he would catch it with a pivot foot on the block. He was working on trying to get around bigger, stronger players knowing that he would have no problem with someone his size. He had to learn to shoot with a hand in his face. I never beat him in one of those one-on-one sessions. 

WHAT WERE YOUR EARLY IMPRESSIONS OF LEBRON?

Larry Hughes: As a young player, Bron had a good thought process. He was going to listen and apply the things that made the most sense to him. I can remember LeBron having conversations with a number of teammates on the plane and in the locker room, whether it be veteran guys or guys who were just joining the team. He kept a clean perspective on how everybody saw the game. 

Scott Williams: He was always very strong, that’s for sure [Laughs] I remember early days in training camp, I prided myself on my defensive play. I only knew one way to play. I was often playing opposite LeBron during practice. One time he tried to drive down the middle of the lane and I stepped in front, off of my guy, to take a charge. I was clearly in position. He ran into me with a force that I had not felt in quite some time. My first thought was that I hope I didn’t hurt this kid. My next thought was that I hope this kid didn’t hurt me. 

Brendan Haywood: When I was in Dallas, LeBron was thinking about going to Miami. Before he went to the Heat, he was recruiting guys to come to Cleveland. I get a text from a number that I don’t know. It’s LeBron. He says: “What’s up, this is King James.” It was a little weird he called himself King James but I kept going. He told me he was trying to get guys to come to the Cavs. He said he knew that they could not give me what I was going to get in the market. But he wanted to know if I would be willing to take a pay cut to be a part of something special. I wouldn’t have taken a pay cut to play with the ’92 Bulls. Buddy, you’re making $100 million off the court! This is my last hurrah! I hadn’t made enough money in my career to take a pay cut and chase a championship. I’d played so many playoff series against him that I saw him as another player. If you play in the league, you look at guys a little differently. He was younger than I was. I looked at him like he was anybody else.

HOW DID MICHAEL JORDAN IMPACT WINNING FOR YOUR TEAM?

Scott Williams: I saw him MJ go from no championships to three. He had mellowed some. [Laughs] Not to say that on game day he didn’t have that smoldering beast side of him. But it wasn’t that all-encompassing thing where every time you were around this cat it was like in October 1990. I’d be curious, for the guys who played with him in Washington, what he was like when he was in practices. I don’t know if it was anything like he was when I was in training camp my rookie year.

Larry Hughes: MJ played in the triangle offense. His attention to detail was understanding angles at a high level. If he didn’t operate the triangle, the job didn’t get done. Bron is similar in his ability to remember and break down the plays. When he is able to see those things, whether it is at a timeout or at halftime, he is able to rely on the information that he downloaded to execute what is needed to happen. It is different based on where they were in their careers when I played with them.

Brendan Haywood: We were a team that based our whole offense around a 40-year-old, aging superstar and we were trying to make the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. At the time, I was thinking that I was just out there hooping. But as I got older, that may have been one of the dumbest ways to ever build a team. You should be featuring your young guys, letting them play, take their knocks and lumps and letting them develop.

HOW DID LEBRON IMPACT WINNING?

Brendan Haywood: The thing that they most have in common is that they impact winning. But they go about in totally different ways. That is why it’s so unfair that LeBron is always compared to Mike. He doesn’t play like Mike! He wasn’t trying to fully dominate like Mike! LeBron wants to play an overall floor game. Bron is more like Magic Johnson but with next-level athleticism. That allows him to do incredible things. LeBron wants to get the 8, 9, 10 assists. He wants to get the rebounds. He wants to get his 26, 27 points. He isn’t just worried about scoring, though. He’s not trying to destroy you. He’s not worried about how many buckets he gets.

Scott Williams: This was an odd year. 2020 sucks. Let’s just get it straight. But with the disjointed season, it threw a lot of the teams off of their games. That’s the thing about LeBron and his leadership. When it did start back, he was able to get his team re-energized and re-focused. The players on the floor have the biggest impact on how hard a team is going to play every night. The coaches will draw up the plays but if the guys aren’t locked on, let’s just face it, some of the execution is sloppy. When you have a stud like that who’s got that championship pedigree, and you have a thirsty young player in Anthony Davis who has yet to wear that ring, you can really get everybody on the same page.

WHAT DO YOU SAY WHEN YOU ARE ASKED ABOUT COMPARISONS?

Brendan Haywood: One of the more interesting things is that I had the GOAT conversation with LeBron. We were on the plane and I told him: “I love you, brother, but I have to go with Mike.” I told him my reasons. I’ve had this conversation with him face-to-face. Six rings. Six MVPs. The guy has had two different three-peats and has never been to a Game 7. He was MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season. I played with both of them and what LeBron has slowly but surely turned into from a confidence standpoint, MJ was that the first time he walked in the league. LeBron has gotten so much better at that. He has grown into a guy that close out games. Michael always had that ability. Michael always competed defensively. Both of those guys are incredible competitors. They do things differently. The biggest difference is that MJ is a cold-blooded killer. He is an assassin. LeBron is more respected and loved. He is loved by his teammates and he is respected by his opponents. So when we had the GOAT debate, LeBron was just kind of nodding his head. He didn’t really say much. Mike Miller and James Jones said some things on his behalf. I don’t think LeBron agreed with me. But at that point, he hadn’t beaten Golden State. He didn’t have the ring he just got with the Lakers.

Scott Williams: The thing that I hate the most is that comparisons are being drawn and I don’t care which way you stand on it. They are two absolutely phenomenal players and I hate when someone says that one is the GOAT and one isn’t. It’s almost like a knock on the one that you say is not the GOAT. I don’t really like to get into that game. I’ve been forced into that corner where I’ve had to make that choice a few times and I will say Michael is the greatest of all time, in my opinion, from being in the locker room with both of them. But I didn’t get LeBron at the top of his game. I got him when he was still developing. We’re not as close but I still consider LeBron a friend. As a basketball commentator and as a fan, obviously, I have followed LeBron. It doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate all that LeBron has done and overcome.

Larry Hughes: LeBron had the same attention to detail that MJ had. He was focused on the things that happened before him and how he could enhance the game that was played before him. He was a student of the game. He understands how basketball players play and how they get their job done. The opportunity to have played with both of those guys was amazing. You see similarities in how they pay attention to detail. It’s film. It’s muscle memory. They had the ability to make adjustments based on what happened.

Source: HoopsHype

Facebook Accused Of Watching Instagram Users Through Their Phone Cameras

Facebook Inc. is again being sued for allegedly spying on Instagram users, this time through the unauthorized use of their mobile phone cameras.

The lawsuit springs from media reports in July that the photo-sharing app appeared to be accessing iPhone cameras even when they weren’t actively being used.

Facebook denied the reports and blamed a bug, which it said it was correcting, for triggering what it described as false notifications that Instagram was accessing iPhone cameras.

In the complaint filed Thursday in federal court in San Francisco, New Jersey Instagram user Brittany Conditi contends the app’s use of the camera is intentional and done for the purpose of collecting “lucrative and valuable data on its users that it would not otherwise have access to.”

By “obtaining extremely private and intimate personal data on their users, including in the privacy of their own homes,” Instagram and Facebook are able to collect “valuable insights and market research,” according to the complaint.

Facebook declined to comment.

Source: Bloomberg

One Of A Kind | The Rob Van Dam Story (Full Career Documentary)

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s there were few wrestlers on the planet more popular than Rob Van Dam. His innovative in ring style combined with his unique laid back character touched a nerve with many fans, leading to him becoming a main event player in pretty much every promotion he ever worked with. Even today, 30 years into his storied career, RVD continues to be a big name in the industry; after having his most recent run with Impact. So, how has he managed to maintain such longevity, and what has kept him going this whole time. Well, join us today as we take a deep dive into his entire career journey in, One Of A Kind: The Rob Van Dam Story.

Microsoft Is Selling Ugly Windows MS Paint-Themed Holiday Christmas Sweaters, With Proceeds Benefiting Girls Who Code

Microsoft has unveiled a clothing line of Windows “ugly” sweaters ahead of the Christmas holiday season. 

The fashion line features three designs inspired by the nostalgic MS Paint, Windows 95, and Windows XP, with each piece of outerwear being priced at US$69.99. 

“No matter your skill at painting (or MS Paint), you’re sure to be a work of art in this ‘Untitled – Paint’ masterpiece,” Microsoft wrote. 

A portion of the proceeds will head towards Girls Who Code, a nonprofit focused on closing the gender gap in the tech industry. 

Source: DesignTAXI