2016, A Year In Review

Exactly one year ago, we launched The What, reviving our Lewis & Clark College KLC Radio show, in website form. Our goal at the start was simply to create an outlet for us to write and for you to read about music, pop culture, art, and whatever else we happen find compelling. There are, of course, countless websites doing essentially the same thing, all of us filling up the digital ethers with opinions, commentaries and counter-commentaries, words upon words upon words.

It can be tough at times to see what all of this amounts to, beyond simply generating ad revenue, which in reality is the goal of most things that exist on the internet. The question we face is this: how do we separate ourselves from that parasitic existence, feeding off the cultural detritus, regurgitating the same bits of content out into a cloud of endlessly re-digestible pulp? Part of our answer has been to resist monetization of the site. We hate ads and we know you hate ads too, which is why you won’t see them around here. But the bigger part of our answer is that we don’t post content simply to post content. We take time with the albums we review. We write and rewrite our essays. We try to take our interviews to places where something new is revealed about the artist, about the act of creating.

We do this because we know there is value in it, now more than ever. This is the age of fake news, of cursory opinions and truthless facts, of surfaces and facades projected over vacuous centers, smothering everything as our reality is silenced in a suffocating emptiness. So what is The What? Besides the title of a great book, besides the Biggie and Method Man song, it’s the question that is also the answer. It’s the search for The What of it all, the mercurial substance of meaning, the presence of truth in the things we make for each other, and the ways in which we define ourselves and our world.

If that all sounds pretty highfalutin, that’s because it is. We don’t presume to have all the answers by any means, but we’re going to keep looking for as long as it takes, and we hope you’ll join us on the way. We’re still getting the hang of this thing, experimenting with forms and presentation, and we are grateful for every click, eyeball and response we’ve gotten so far. To start our second year, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on what we’ve done so far.
Articles, Essays & Interviews

American Exceptionalism is Boring: 2015 in Film

Micah’s Picks: Top Ten of Twenty Fifteen

Keepsake. Doors. Dudes & Guitars. A Coversation with Shohei Kobayashi

Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Camera: The Goldlink Vignettes and a Conversation with Sam Cutler-Kreutz

On Line, Online: Poems From Talal Gedeon Achi

F(Ξ)

Wandering Through the Garden: A Conversation with Matt Takiff

The Ebb and Flow of Innovation and Virtuosi: A Conversation with The Portland Cello Project

Toothbone & The Waking Dream: A Conversation with Dan Rossi

The Happy Tragedy of Horace & Pete

Things We Did Ask For: A Conversation with Doc Illingsworth

Faith in Color: Chance the (Christian) Rapper

People Out of Objects: Serengeti & Characters

The Eventual Heat Death of the Superhero Franchise

Yeezy’s King Mattress & The Composition of Fame

It Was: Sampling From Memory

The Augmented Reality of Pokemon Go

Two Versions: Voice and Memory

Filtering the Noise: A Conversation with Bear Polar Tundra

Premium Television and the Problem of Viewer Engagement

Hip Hop is Not There

 

Short Stories & Poetry

Terrence

Saint Thomas

Simulator

Shooting

 

Reviews

Anderson .Paak – Malibu

Kanye West – The Life of Pablo

BJ The Chicago Kid – In My Mind

Kendrick Lamar – untitled, unmastered

Terrace Martin – Velvet Portraits

J-Dilla – The Diary

Drake – Views

Open Mike Eagle & Paul White – Admitting the Endorphin Addiction

James Blake – The Colour in Anything

Chance the Rapper – Coloring Book

Paul Simon – Stranger to Stranger

YG – Still Brazy

ScHoolboy Q – Blank Face LP

Noname – Telefone

No Man’s Sky

Frank Ocean – Blonde

Danny Brown – Atrocity Exhibition

NxWorries – Yes Lawd!

A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service

Childish Gambino – Awaken, My Love

J. Cole – 4 Your Eyez Only