Yippie kai yay, motherfucker.
Sometimes the greatest successes come at a time when it’s seemingly the last shot for them. Such is the case for both the translucent ginger bearded El-P and the moutainous neckbearded Killer Mike, who together in the last three years have emerged as rap’s most formidable duo while both being well north of 35 years old. But their rise to the top was anything but overnight.
Hailing from Brooklyn, El-P cut his first records with the beloved Company Flow collective, which famously held the motto “Independent As Fuck”. After the group’s dissolution, El struck out on his own both creatively and in the business realm, founding and running the Definitive Jux record label, which gave a platform to such amazing acts as Cannibal Ox, Murs, and former beard of the day Aesop Rock. All three of El-P’s records are considered masterworks in both dystopic lyrical density as well as otherworldly production reminiscent of the walls of sound once produced by Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad.
In early 2012 he was put in touch with Atlanta’s Killer Mike through a mutual friend at Williams Street Records, the label that’s associated with Adult Swim, which is also based in Atlanta. Mike came up through Outkast’s Dungeon Family, with several critical acclaimed works of his own while also occasionally stealing the show with guest verses on Outkast tracks, most notably the incredible “Flip Flop Rock” on Speakerboxxx, where he stood among the giants of industry in former beard of the day Big Boi and Jay-Z.
The two developed such a rapport El-P produced Mike’s brilliant R.A.P. Music in 2012 and became fast friends, leading them to collaborate on a project they called Run The Jewels, named after a brief stick up scene at the beginning of LL Cool J’s “Cheesy Rat Blues”. Backed by El’s assaulting production, his lyrical dexterity has perfectly complimented Mike’s fiery political delivery, and the two have surged to the top of every critic’s best-of lists with two albums that contain absolutely no filler and are even more bone crushing live. Run The Jewels 2 was widely regarded not only as the best rap record in ages, but also as the best record, period, of 2014, and it along with its predecessor were released completely for free.
So now that they’re here, there’s only one way to keep what they’ve got, and it’s an appropriate message now that the postseason has reached June: Lie, Cheat, Steal. Kill, Win. Everybody doin’ it.
As one of the masters of modern science fiction, the salt-and-pepper bearded Philip K. Dick was not only responsible for some of the genre’s greatest works, but also for some of the most adaptable source material for science fiction in cinema as well, due to his worlds being so fully realized on the page.
His list of works includes but is not limited to A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, Total Recall, and the crown jewel, Blade Runner, which was based off of Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep? Dick famously remarked that he was terrible at writing concise catchy names for his stories, as evidenced by the aforementioned Sheep, and Total Recall being based off the novel We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Even the concise titles were completely esoteric, something we can identify with around these parts.
Dick’s most decorated work was The Man In The High Castle, which fleshes out the scenario of what would have happened had Germany won WWII, and yes, it is finally being made into a series soon available on Amazon. Dick’s stories often explored the topics of dystopia and theology, questioning the origins of human creation through the lens of things like computerized intelligence. And though he died in 1982, the vast majority of his work still holds up today, and there is even a Blade Runner sequel in the works currently.
As drummer for Creedence Clearwater Revival and later Creedence Clearwater Revisited after the group’s acrimonious split with frontman John Fogerty, Doug Clifford has maintained a full and imposing beard for nearly 50 years.
Clifford, bassist Stu Cook, and the Fogerty brothers, John and Tom, all met in junior high school, and began playing covers (as most junior high bands do) under the name The Blue Velvets. Clifford was drafted into the Amry Reserves in 1966 during along with John Fogerty, where it can only be assumed that Clifford’s trademark beard was in no way regulation. Upon their discharge the the group changed their name to Creeedence Clearwater Revival, and the the politically charged, southern flavored hits began to come. But like most great and influential groups, tensions within burned hotly, particularly as Fogerty took more and more creative control of the group, and the group had officially called it quits by 1972, with seven full length records already under their belt.
Clifford’s straightforward style has provided the backbeat for the group’s output, but it’s simplicity shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of skill. And that’s to say nothing of the endurance needed to stay on time for 9-minute album cuts, which would veer to nearly double that time during live performances. And he’s been sticking with what works now, both aurally and aesthetically, for going on six decades.
How about a man with some good local roots, huh? Jon Glaser was born in Chicago, though he grew up in Michigan.. no one is perfect. After being a member of several sketch groups in college, Glaser would move back to Chicago and become a member of the mainstage cast at Second City, performing alongside other famous members like Adam McKay, Rachel Dratch and Scott Adsit. He also is a five-time Emmy nominee thanks to his work as a writer for Late Night with Conan O’Brien. If you’re an Adult Swim fan, you’ll likely know his work on creating Delocated though you might not recognize his face… since he wore a skimask all the time and distorted his voice. If you haven’t seen the show.. well in typical Adult Swim fashion it’s fucking weird. More recently, Glaser served as the arch nemesis of Leslie Knope on the wonderful Parks And Recreation in its final few seasons.
He’s also done plenty of work with former BotD H. Jon Benjamin which is always awkward and delightful.