Listen to: Mir Fontane. I first heard Mir Fontane in 2015 on the song "Wanni Wag,” a track that plays homage to fellow Camden, NJ-native and former Cleveland Cavalier, Dejuan Wagner. Since then, I've been a fan. In 2016, Fontane dropped his debut mixtape, Who's Watching the Kids. Despite being received with little interest from the hip hop community, the album was absolute fire. Fontane shows his versatility throughout the project, with songs ranging from bangers like “Whatever I Want” to the croony, softer vocals on “Bill Collector”. Beyond the differences in sound, Fontane's story telling ability is elite. On “Kenwood Ave”, he follows in the steps of Nas' “Rewind, walking listeners through a drug deal gone wrong...backwards, end to beginning, complete with reversed imagery. Keep an eye on this kid; I'm expecting big things from him in the future.
Listen to: Crimetown (Podcast). First of all, if you don't listen to podcasts, you should. As enjoyable as a morning radio show may be, try swapping it out for a podcast or an audiobook in the morning to stimulate the mind in a different way. If you’re looking for a podcast to start out with, try Crimetown, the show is impeccably by Zac Stuart-Pointer and Marc Smerling, the men behind HBO’s The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst. The show is an investigation on the culture of organized crime across America, the story begins in Providence, Rhode Island, a sleepy New England city once home to the third largest Italian mafia syndicate in the United States. Gritty, riveting and shockingly true, Crimetown is a work Scorcese himself would approve of. If gangster movies are your thing, this podcast is for you.
Go Watch: Noname’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert. The Chicago-based rapper set the NPR offices ablaze, all the while rocking a vintage bugle boy rugby. Noname's mumbling flow seemed to effortlessly glide over the instrumentals of her four-piece live band. With the current state of women in hip hop, :cough: Remy and Nicki :cough: Noname is a breath of fresh air. Her message is completely positive and she comes off completely authentic and genuine. Her poetic flows and conscious lyrics resemble a deep conversation between friends rather than manufactured homily. Co-signed by Chance the Rapper, Noname offers a much-needed counterpoint to the sexually-driven flows dominating hip-hop today. Noname reminds us that female emcees have more to offer than big butts and explicit lyrics. Not that I dislike either of those things, I’m just saying.
Try On: Nike Air Jordan XI Low in Columbia Blue and White. Few sneakers have caused as much fanfare as the Nike Air Jordan XI. Commonly referred to as the 11's, the sneaker was originally released in 1995, a very interesting time during Jordan’s career. Legendary sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield, had just put out two, in my opinion, lackluster designs in the Jordan IX and X and MJ, freshly out of retirement that spring, was in the process of leading the Chicago Bulls in a playoff run. And then, exactly on cue, enter the 11's. The world had never seen a sneaker like them, minimalist in aesthetic, comfortable and functional in design and with a patent leather toe echoing the look of a dress shoe. I remember my father acknowledging the uniqueness and beauty of the shoe . . . right before telling me he wasn’t buying them. Anyway, since the first retro dropped in the spring 2000, Nike has been annually releasing different colorways of the 11’s just in time for Christmas and the summer, and now they will be available again, April 15th.
Go Read: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. This timely novel, recently awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, narrates the history of enslaved Africans in America with one key difference: the Underground Railroad, a tangle of routes used by slaves escaping to freedom, is re-imagined as a literal train. The book follows friends Cora and Caesar on their journey northward from their Georgia plantation as they make their way to freedom, trailing them as they come in contact with fellow escapees and slave-catchers alike. With Amazon having recently optioned the novel as a project to be written and directed by Moonlight’s Barry Jenkins, the fraught exploration of race and civil rights in Whitehead’s work is sure to be on everyone’s lips for a while.