Outkast, in charts and graphs

Outkast, in charts and graphs

I’m one of the 50,000+ people attending this summer’s reunion of Outkast. As preparation, I decided to do some research to further my Outkast knowledge, beyond their hit singles. Turns out that I learned some interesting facts, which I think any Outkast novice could use in order to better enjoy their forthcoming tour.

Check out more here.



Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer

Charlie Ahearn’s Film Retraces a Moment in New York Style - Video 1 / / 3

As a teenage photographer in early 80s East Flatbush, Brooklyn, Jamel Shabazz set out to document the then nascent movement of hip-hop. Through the iconic style of his MCs, neighborhood kids and gang members, the unequivocal attitude of New York’s youth was recognized as the calling card of the city’s creative renaissance. Published in 2001, Shabazz’ first book Back In The Days was celebrated as an exhilarating snapshot of the times, and his visual flair has been brought to life in a new documentary by the legendary hip-hop historian and director, Charlie Ahearn.  “On the cover of Jamel’s book were two young men on 42nd Street. They were captured posing in such strong form as a kind of respectful bulwark against all the chaos that you see around them on ‘The Deuce,’” explains Ahearn, the notable filmmaker also responsible for the classic old-school movie, Wild Style. “I immediately knew that here was an original artist for our time.” [1]

©jamel shabazz.all rights reserved

There’s a documentary about Jameel Shabazz. Totally worth watching for his approach. It gets deep without getting too deep.


I’ve decided to take a four month sabbatical, March - June, avoiding all professional work (no freelance gigs, no strategy decks).

Over the past year, I’ve been enamored with the idea of living at the edge of something that isn’t tech, to embark on something that’s between a self-guided MBA and domain-specific ethnography.

A year ago, Paul Graham wrote an essay on taste and how people get it:

“If you’re the right sort of person, you have the right sort of hunches. If you’re at the leading edge of a field that’s changing fast, when you have a hunch that something is worth doing, you’re more likely to be right. In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig says: 

“You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.”

That line, “if you’re at the leading edge of a field that’s changing fast…” stuck with me for months.

There’s something magical about being at the edge of a field. You notice problems to which everyone else is oblivious. You see the trajectory of culture. You build empathy for the makers and consumers.

How does one live at the edge of something new – music, architecture, fashion, or art?

Some of my friends think this will be impossible, that I can’t get to the edge of field on my own without an internship or access to a corporation. They think that it requires permission or intention that I don’t seem to have.

Elon Musk was once famously asked about how he learned about rocket ships, replying “It’s pretty simple: I read a lot and spoke with smart people.”

Yes, Musk is a genius, yet it’s a good formula. I’ll read and meet people. I plan to co-work, do research, take classes, and SHIP.

The idea is to spend one month in four different cities. I’ll be in Portland first, likely followed by Boulder. I’ll immerse myself in a unique domain in each city.

Some of my friends also think that the sabbatical is risky. What if I lose my job? What if you’re unproductive? Why not one month?

Even 12 months ago, I wouldn’t have the stomach to take a break. But lately, my risk tolerance has never been higher.

Dustin Curtis wrote an article that describes this state of mind pretty well:

Learning how to think like this [an entrepreneur] is like discovering halfway through your life as a flightless bird that you have wings and can fly. And once you discover it, there is no going back. It’s addictive and powerful. It ruins your ability to be a worker bee, because you’ve tasted blood: you become a killer bee, intent on understanding why things are the way they are, finding their flaws, and pushing the universe forward by fixing them.

Over the past few months, it’s like I can see the future of any project and will it in a direction. I’m not sure what clicked – all I can say is that after enough reps, you can see the process and end-state for any deliverable. Instead of feeling anxiety, you feel that it’s just a matter of acting out the motions: quality pairing, disciplined shipping, and strong client updates.

This post is my statement of work. The deliverable is empathy. Yes, there’s a ton of ambiguity in the details – but I’m (oddly) irrationally confident that it will work out.

“When I first saw the reverted News Feed, I remembered a quote I wrote down several months ago after overhearing a supposed Facebook employee complaining in a San Francisco coffee shop: We’re blind. It doesn’t matter what any individual person thinks about something new. Everything must be tested. It’s feature echolocation: we throw out an idea, and when the data comes back we look at the numbers. Whatever goes up, that’s what we do. We are slaves to the numbers. We don’t operate around innovation. We only optimize. We do what goes up.”

(Source: sean3116)

A fellow redditor commissioned me to paint Washington dunking on Kim Jong Un while Lincoln and Stalin watch. Thanks /u/fact_school_cat (i.imgur.com)


A fellow redditor commissioned me to paint Washington dunking on Kim Jong Un while Lincoln and Stalin watch. Thanks /u/fact_school_cat (i.imgur.com)