Freedom Archives, an online database focused on progressive and radical historical movements, has documentation on BLU magazine, which was published between 1998 and 2001. While most press at the time limited their coverage of politically minded rap to dead prez and Black Star, the New York magazine threaded between overlapping scenes like spoken word and Afro-Cuban sounds, featured interviews with activists like Geronimo Ji Jaga Pratt and Yuri Kochiyama, and dedicated issues to the Puerto Rico independence movement and women’s right. Each issue includes a CD from major names like Tony Touch as well as lesser-known acts like Rico Pabon. All together, BLU’s 14 issues depict a complex hip-hop movement that’s often omitted from histories of the period.
The internet chatter over 21 Savage’s impolitic comments on Clubhouse about Nas’ relevance always felt a bit silly. 21 Savage tried to assert that the Queensbridge rapper may not resonate with today’s youth; in the process, he seemingly impugned a golden-era cohort that loudly frets over its obsolescence. Given the circumstances, the duo’s “beef-killing” single “One Mic, One Gun” is a pleasant surprise. Produced by Hit-Boy and released on November 29, it finds 21 continuing to backtrack his off-the-cuff comments, rapping, “When you turn a legend, no such thing as relevance/They must’ve forgot that I’m a new rapper that got integrity.” Meanwhile, Nas adds, “I’m with 21 on my second run, this shit come with age,” referring to his increasingly acclaimed King’s Disease series. The two-minute song works best as a statement of generational and coastal unity. It’s reminiscent of Nas’s J Cole ode “Made Nas Proud,” Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar’s “Bitch Don’t Kill My Vibe (Remix),” and other numbers where the “Goats” try to connect with Gen Z on musical terms before time and taste pass them by.