Monthly Archives: April 2018

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Beyoncé, Kendrick, Kanye, and How the World Seeks to Limit Black Genius Knowles; West and Lamar  If one were attempting to define black genius in its modern form, the week of April 16 provides no shortage of starting points. We could begin with Beyoncé Knowles-Carter—the singer, mother, and pop maximalist who understands that music can, and should, be a kind of cinema—and her historically transcendent Coachella performance. Or we could just as easily begin with Kendrick Lamar; the Compton, California artist became the first rapper to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Music, for his searing album DAMN. Or perhaps it’s best we start with Kanye West, who reemerged this week on Twitter with a meditative shortform treatise on human existence and the nobility of creative production. Rendered through these three artists, the sweat and gristle of black genius—which is to say, the bone-tough work of black genius—was nearly impossible […]

The Return of MAD Magazine and Its All-New Gang of Idiots MAD Magazine More than 40 years ago this month, MAD Magazine founder William M. Gaines managed to outrage hundreds of his loyal readers, all by barely lifting a finger. For the April 1974 issue of his happily juvenile comedy rag—a mix of pop-culture parodies, political humor, and sound-effect-saturated comic strips—Gaines’ staff went with a cover illustration guaranteed to shock school teachers and parents around the country: A raised middle finger, accompanied by the declaration that MAD was the “Number One Ecch Magazine.” Gaines had casually approved the image, which he didn’t even find that funny. But when some of the magazine’s nearly 2 million readers began complaining, he wound up personally writing letters of apology. “We put it out, and the roof fell in,” Gaines later said of the issue. It’s hard to imagine a similarly outraged reaction to […]

This is how music producer Oak Felder crafted Demi Lovato’s hit song ‘Sorry Not Sorry’ Felder demonstrated the songwriting process live onstage at Code Media 2018.   How we live affects what music we produce — and right now technology is the “bridge” between those two things, record producer Warren “Oak” Felder said today at the Code Media conference in Huntington Beach, Calif. Onstage, Felder recreated the technical process of how he produced the hit Demi Lovato single “Sorry Not Sorry.” Starting from a blank canvas in the music production app Logic Pro X, he said his first job was to create a “vibe” before the songwriting process could begin. “The people in the room are looking at you for the initial spark of inspiration,” he said. “You are the catalyst, you are starting everything up.” After that, he added a “booty shaker” — a low, bass-y rumble often heard […]

Within Facebook, a Sense of Relief Over the Zuckerberg Hearings Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress this week. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images About two hours, or 20 percent, into Mark Zuckerberg’s marathon testimony before Congress this week, the Facebook CEO had a slightly awkward exchange with senator John Cornyn (R-Texas). Cornyn wanted to know what happens to people’s data when they delete their accounts. Zuckerberg responded that Facebook deletes their data. But Cornyn continued, “How about third parties that you have contracted with to use some of that underlying information, perhaps to target advertising for themselves?” To Zuckerberg, this must have been exasperating. As he has said over and over, Facebook doesn’t sell data to advertisers. Doing so could allow outsiders to build competitive ad-targeting products that would undermine Facebook’s business. And so Zuckerberg patiently explained, yet again, how Facebook works. “We do not sell data to advertisers. We don’t […]

The Billion-Dollar Hacking Group Behind a String of Big Breaches   This week, Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th, and Lord & Taylor department stores—all owned by The Hudson’s Bay Company—acknowledged a data breach impacting more than five million credit and debit card numbers. The culprits? The same group that’s spent the last few years pulling off data heists from Omni Hotels & Resorts, Trump Hotels, Jason’s Deli, Whole Foods, Chipotle: A mysterious group known as Fin7. Data breaches dog consumers every day, whether they’re ordering food from Panera, or tracking their nutrition with an Under Armour app. But if you’ve particularly had your credit card number stolen from a restaurant, hotel, or retail store in the past few years, you may have experienced Fin7 up close. While lots of criminal hacking gangs are simply out to make money, researchers regard Fin7 as a particularly professional and disciplined organization. The […]