Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

Ice-T talks to Dr Dre in Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 10 February Kanye West releases debut album, 2004 On this day in 2004, multi-instrumentalist, singer and rapper Kanye West released his debut album, The College Dropout, which is precisely what West was, having junked art school after one semester in favour of a career in music. The career in music went well, with West rapidly becoming a sought-after producer – Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, Ludacris – and beatmaker, all the while working on his own solo album, whose release got pushed further and further into the future as West spent his time making music for other people. His sample-based singles Through the … Read more

Putin’s Olympic Dream

President Putin in Olympic track suit

“There was only a mountain, no road. A forest, a river, nothing else. Nothing there at all.” Oligarch Vladimir Potanin, a (former) investor in the Sochi Winter Olympics says with just a touch of residual pride about Sochi, a spa town on the Black Sea that is now home to the Winter Olympics. He got involved back in 2002, when it was a smallish private project, before President Putin, as he was then and is again now (having made himself prime minister for a spell, so as to sidestep an annoying constitutional restriction on being president too often) involved himself and directed the full force of the state onto the event, making it … Read more


Napster founders Shawn Fanning and Shaun Parker with Alex Winter

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 7 December Record Industry Association of America files lawsuit against Napster, 1999 This is the day in 1999 that the self-styled “music industry” started its fightback. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed a lawsuit against Napster intended to prevent it from distributing music over its peer-to-peer file-sharing service. At the time the vast bulk of people didn’t know what peer-to-peer file-sharing was but the publicity that the case caused meant that many more of them soon did – thanks to helpful explanatory articles in newspapers etc. The suit came on top of previous attempts by individuals – notably members … Read more

Last Train Home

Chen Suqin and Zhang Changhua at the Guangzhou Railway Station, Last Train Home

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 8 November Chinese engineers divert the Yangtze river, 1997 On this day in 1997, Chinese engineers diverted the Yangtze River, China’s longest, in order to clear the way for construction of the world’s biggest dam. The Three Gorges Dam was designed to announce the return of China as a player on the world stage – 185 metres high, two kilometres wide, costing $23 billion, able to withstand an earthquake of 7 on the Richter scale, generating the power of 15 nuclear power stations, a tamer of the Yangtze’s catastrophic floods. The project was not just huge in engineering terms but had … Read more

The Gatekeepers

Ami Ayalon, former head of Shin Bet

A movie for every day of the year – a good one 13 September Rabin shakes hands with Arafat at the White House, 1993 On this day in 1993, Itzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, shook hands at the White House after signing the Oslo Accords. It was a historic moment. These modest proposals put in writing agreements about mutual recognition, the formation of a provisional Palestinian government, and Israel’s agreement to withdraw from some parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They wisely left thornier issues (the Jewish settlements, the future of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees) off the agenda. … Read more