Known as the originator of ‘trap music,’ a style of rap that is taking over the music industry, Gucci Mane reveals his vulnerability in his first memoir and shows us the man behind the Trap God, his hit songs and the infamous reputation behind the criminal charges and prison time he experienced. As a fan of his music, I appreciated learning the stories of his childhood about the creation of hit songs, and how he was able to overcome his drug addiction. His story shows how easy it is for us to get caught up in a celebrity’s image without knowing who they truly are as a person.
Nathaniel Mackey might be best known as a poet—he’s won the National Book Award and received a Library of Congress lifetime achievement honor—but his most idiosyncratic work is an ongoing fiction series tracing the development of a California space-jazz group. This latest volume—a perfect introduction—is a beautiful thing, from its intricate epistolary structure to Mackey’s overwhelming language, which takes you deep inside the sounds of the instruments and the minds that make them sing. Tracking the group in microscopic, romantic, even surreal detail—from gig to gig, from idea to idea—gives you a novel unafraid to ask big questions of how artists relate to their art once it enters the audience’s lives.
Woodstock, New York and the surrounding towns were the Laurel Canyon of the east coast: an incubator of talent, away from but just close enough to New York City. At first a cultural of fiefdom of Albert Grossman, Dylan's manager, soon the likes of the Band, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison, Jesse Winchester, and a boy genius named Todd Rundgren came for the seclusion, natural beauty, and cultural buzz. Woodstock took everyone in: some got rich, some got loaded, some got smart, and some wasted away as idealism turned to hedonism. Hell of a story, hell of a town.