Welcome to our newish series, Rembert Explains the '90s. Unlike the source material for our previous, '80s-themed series, these videos have been seen countless times, with the result being an unparalleled, almost embarrassing level of expertise. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he's watching the video, then we'll post those thoughts here. This week's installment is a rare non-video, the inaugural issue of Blaze Magazine (1998), temporarily on loan from Friend of Grantland Brian Nolan. If you have an idea for a future episode of Rembert Explains the '90s, e-mail us at email@example.com.
This was an important magazine issue for four main reasons. One, it was the inaugural issue of Blaze Magazine, a 1998 Vibe/Spin Ventures production. Two, Method Man is on the cover, which is never bad. Three, the editor-in-chief's opening letter detailed a story of Wyclef Jean pointing a shotgun at him and threatening to kill him if he got a negative album review, which is very casual. And four, the issue had 120 pages of advertising, which is 53.1 percent of the magazine, which is a ton of ads.
Luckily, 120 pages of 1998 ads, most of which are clothing, is the opposite experience of sitting through a 30-second YouTube ad in 2013.
Because there's nothing more fun than looking back on 1998 ads in the present day.
We're now waist-deep in awards season, and the Grantland staff would like to take this opportunity to remind all the Oscar, Grammy, and Golden Collar nominees out there that should they have to step up to that podium and take that mic on national television, they owe it to themselves to study up beforehand and see how the pros handle it. Here are our favorite awards show acceptance (and unacceptance) speeches from all corners of the entertainment world.
"Our crew had lots of meanings for the words Wu-Tang — ‘Witty, Unpredictable Talent and Natural Game,’ ‘We Usually Take Another N****’s Garments’ — in China, I learned another, the original one: ‘Man who is deserving of God.’ So in that sense, we are all Wu-Tang. You are Wu-Tang." RZA writes those words in The Tao of the Wu, his stew of memoir and spiritual philosophy, penned with Chris Norris and released in 2010. It’s one part 150-page koan, one part gripping reflection on almost dying every day in Brooklyn. Fun book, you should read it. It’s an unlikely dichotomy. But then, RZA’s had an unlikely life.
Yesterday, with minimal advance warning ("NEW SHIT IN 5 MINUTES"), the first single from Rocky's upcoming major-label debut, LongLiveASAP, was sprung. And while not everyone was a fan, at least not right away — Tyler the Creator tweeted "So Funny When Someone Releases A new Song With The Same 4 People That We Expected To Be On It With The Same Shitty 'Trap' Beat Hahaha," and I don't think he meant those "ha"s genuinely — this thing's got major radio potential. Of course, there are some built-in encumbrances to that end: When you do hear it on the radio, it'll sound like everyone's taking an awkwardly long breath before saying "problem."
While profiling RZA ahead of his directorial debut The Man With the Iron Fists, the New York Times asked the dude to speak on the perpetual swirl of Wu-Tang reunion chatter. And instead of handing back a canned, generic answer about how everyone really wants to do it but everyone's really busy, Bobby Digital got nice and blunt and honest. Basically: With the first few Wu-Tang classics (and that includes the first few rounds of Wu-Tang solo albums), everyone listened to me. If we want to make more classics, everyone has to listen to me again.
Back in July, Grantland Trailerologists Dan Silver and Rembert Browne broke down RZA's Russell Crowe–starring kung fu opus The Man With the Iron Fists: "There have been rumors of RZA's directorial debut for years, but I never believed this film was real. Well, consider me a believer if the blood splatter on the lens wasn't enough, then the eyeball flying toward the camera [see here, but only after you've had your breakfast] should be." So that's what we're dealing with here: At one point, just the fact it actually came to fruition would have been enough; now, though, this thing is barreling into theaters (it's out November 2) with some steam. Now here's some more good news for Bobby Digital's first flick: The track list for the soundtrack has been released, and it pretty much slays.
RZA, a man with such a long history of accomplishments and occupations that it's almost embarrassing to list them, came through Paris this weekend to launch his latest endeavor — a new pair of headphones in collaboration with WeSC. If one had only seen glimpses of him at the launch party, surrounded by admirers and an entourage, one might be tricked into assuming that he is a standard-issue celebrity who just slapped his name on a semi-decent product and called it a day. In fact, in person, RZA is almost disarmingly down-to-earth and sincere about everything he's doing — no matter how many things that may be. This year, aside from his many music projects, he's also wrapping up his first directorial feature, The Man With the Iron Fists, starring Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu — which he also cowrote. Between producing, recording, directing, and designing, he found some time to sit down with us and talk about what he's been up to.
Full disclosure: I hate live music. Too loud, too crowded, too hard to have a conversation, and just generally too much yelling for my taste. However, my love of all things Wu-Tang so surpasses my distaste for live music that when I heard that the Clan was bringing their Witty Unpredictable Talent And Natural Game to a venue mere yards from Grantland HQ, I had to attend. OK, fine, I didn’t have to. I planned on attending, then didn’t feel like it, then only came around when I considered how livid 17-Year-Old Me would be if he knew that he would grow up to be Now Me.