Gwyneth Paltrow: Straight Outta Collegiate

Slate's Culture Blog
April 12 2011 10:26 AM

Gwyneth Paltrow: Straight Outta Collegiate

Last week, Jay-Z launched a new style and culture website called Life + Times . His friend Gwyneth Paltrow pronounced it " super cool " in today's special edition of GOOP; Jay-Z returned the favor by deeming Gwyneth's website " fresh ." So the two multi-hyphenate media moguls decided to interview each other for their respective sites. And we're so glad they did! Because in the Life + Times Q-and-A with Paltrow , we get this wonderful nugget of trivia about GP's personal history with hip-hop:

Shawn Carter: Personally I was very surprised at your extensive knowledge of hip-hop songs. Particularly how you can sing '90s hip-hip songs word for word. I can't even do that! How does a girl from Spence discover hip-hop?

Gwyneth Paltrow
: I first was exposed to hip-hop when I was about 16 (1988) by some boys who went to collegiate. The Beastie Boys were sort of the way in for us preppie kids. We were into Public Enemy, Run-DMC and LL Cool J. But then I went to LA the summer between my junior and senior year of high school and I discovered N.W.A which became my obsession. I was fascinated by lyrics as rythym and how Dre had a such different cadence and perspective from say, Eazy-E, who I thought was one of the most ironic and brilliant voices hip-hop has ever had. It was an accident that I learned every word of Straight Outta Compton  and to love something that a.) I had no real understanding of in terms of the culture that it was emanating from and b.) to love something that my parents literally could not grasp. But I was hooked. I can't remember what I ate for dinner last night but I could sing to you every single word of N.W.A's "Fuck Tha Police" or [Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock's] "It Takes Two." Go figure.

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Nina Shen Rastogi is a writer and editor, and is also the vice president for content at Figment.

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