Dan Charnas’s epic tome The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop is a good companion piece to Jay-Z’s Decoded. I’ve now reviewed them both for the LA Times.
Tag Archives: LA Times
Raul Esparza, star of the current Ahmanson Theatre production Leap of Faith, is as engaging as he is deep. Last week, in an interview for the LA Times, we bonded over our loves of Joan Jett, Jonathan Larson, Virginia Woolf, and Cuban coffee. Neil Pepe, artistic director of the Atlantic Theatre Company in New York, told me Esparza is one of “our great American actors.” My piece runs in the Times tomorrow but is online now.
Chrissie Hynde was funny and moving with her new band last night by the Queen Mary in Long Beach, but Lucinda Williams — whom I love — disappointed. Here’s how I put it in the LA Times.
“Like her unprocessed voice and Bach-meets-barrelhouse piano style, Nina Simone’s life story is peculiar, beautiful, sometimes off-key and off-color but deeply, disturbingly dramatic.
In the 1960s, the “high priestess of soul” wrote and/or sang some of the most moving anthems of a profound period in American history: “Backlash Blues,” “Mississippi Goddam” and “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.”
She had sought for years to find a place for her unique vision, and she found it alongside her friends Langston Hughes, Lorraine Hansberry, Miriam Makeba and James Baldwin.
Hers was a dignified and formidable presence at many civil rights protests and benefit concerts. Yet all these decades later, sordid tales of disheveled onstage rants, mysterious hospitalizations and other indiscretions have threatened to eclipse her legacy.
In “Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone,” Nadine Cohodas reinscribes into the historical record the musical contributions of a woman with prodigious gifts and sometimes unusual taste.”
Read my full Los Angeles Times review here.