I had this poster in the living room of my college apartment. One time when my mother visited me she asked me what it meant to me. I did not have an answer then. But every time I think about it since then, it reminds me of what my face looks like when I am grieving.

Dear Mama,

I hope that this letter finds you being nice to yourself and others. You and those that you are in close contact with deserve that because the last year has been hard on all of us. I write this letter to you to share with you about one of the hardest things I experienced last year and how I am recovering and rethinking as a result of the pain brought about by this hard situation. I also write this letter in hopes that by me inviting you into the interiority of my life, by offering some context to…

Sketch designed by @neemthemartian

The year 2018 was a great one for hip-hop; unfortunately, because of the way my life is set up, I didn’t get a chance to listen to all of the new music. Of all the albums that did I listen to and love this year (including Book of Ryan, KOD, Daytona, Nasir, Tha Carter V, Laila’s Wisdom, and Everything is Love) I’ve spent the most time on the dopeness of this cat from Southwest Houston. His name is Tobe Nwigwe, and not only can he rap really good, but he has also curated a digital archive that invites fans to…

I just finished Joan Morgan’s She Begat This: 20 Years of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (2018). While reading, that thing that Language Arts teachers beseeched us to do began to happen — I began to make connections. I kept connecting Morgan’s arguments about Hill and Miseducation to a Jay Z quote that I first heard in December 2010. In conversation with public intellectual Cornel West and writer/curator Paul Holdengräber about his book Decoded (2010), Jay served as an apologist for rap music and by extension himself, making both intelligible, when he argued “anything out of context is a lie.”…

Maco L. Faniel

A native Houstonian, educator-scholar-writer-speaker-advocate. Maco is the author of Hip Hop in Houston: The Origin and Legacy.

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