Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog

Sept. 4 2015 6:07 PM

Watch D’Angelo Give His First TV Interview in Over a Decade

After 14 years of radio silence, D’Angelo released his third album, Black Messiah, last year to great excitement and critical acclaim. (His second album, Voodoo, was released in 2000.) In an interview with Rolling Stone following the album’s release, D’Angelo said he was working on a “companion piece” that was “part of the same vision” as Black Messiah. Now, D’Angelo has given his first interview in over a decade with PBS’ Tavis Smiley.

During their 20-minute conversation, the two discussed a wide range of topics including which artists D’Angelo admires (Prince and Curtis Mayfield) and how spirituality and church music influence his work. He also discussed the political influences behind Black Messiah, in particular the Black Lives Matter movement: "I'm not trying to be a poster child or anything of the movement," he said, "but definitely a voice as a black man. As a concerned black man and as a father."

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Sept. 4 2015 3:05 PM

Everything You Need to Know About Marvel’s First-Ever Asian-American Hulk, Amadeus Cho

Image via Marvel
Amadeus Cho is Marvel's new Hulk.

Image via Marvel

Bruce Banner has been the hulk for five decades, but this December he’s getting the boot. As part of its “all new, all different” initiative, Marvel is shelving the Banner storyline and giving his superpowers to a lesser-known character: Amadeus Cho. Marvel editor-in-chief Alex Alonso and writer Greg Pak revealed that Cho, a Korean-American boy genius, will spearhead Totally Awesome Hulk, a new series that hits stores in December.

Cho, also known as Mastermind Excello, has been part of the Marvel universe since January 2006—his first appearance was in Amazing Fantasy Vol. 2 #15. Cho doesn’t have any superpowers per se, but he does happen to be one of the smartest people on the planet. He can perform incredibly complex calculations in seconds, has perfect recall, and possesses Holmes-like powers of observation and deductive reasoning.

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Cho’s parents, who have a thing for highbrow names (his sister is named Madame Curie and goes by Maddy), are awed by their son’s intellect and, in Amazing Fantasy, encourage him to enter a quiz show for brilliant teens. He easily wins, but the show turns out to be a trap set by evil supergenius Pythagoras Dupree to eliminate any intellectual competition. Pythagoras’ henchmen show up at the Cho residence, murder Amadeus’ parents, and force him to flee.

Part of the reason Cho is a natural choice for the next Hulk is because he and Bruce Banner go way back. When Pythagoras’ agents track Cho down, Banner protects him, and Cho considers them kindred spirits and friends—after all, they’re both brooding geniuses. Cho plays a key role in the 2007 World War Hulk series (a five-issue series in which Hulk is blasted into space by bad guys and returns to seek revenge) and acts as Hercules’ sidekick in The Incredible Hercules (2008-2010). He also briefly starred in his own series, Heroic Age: Prince of Power, in 2010.

Come December, Cho will be the first-ever Korean-American character written and drawn by a completely Korean-American team: Greg Pak and Frank Cho, respectively. Pak co-created Amadeus Cho, who he says will be a completely different Hulk from Banner’s somber version. “This is a kid who’s got a ridiculous amount of confidence,” Pak told Entertainment Weekly. “He’s determined to be the best Hulk there’s ever been. He loves being the Hulk. And that may cause massive trouble for everyone else in the Marvel Universe.”

We still don't know exactly how Cho got his powers or how Banner was stripped of his, but Pak promises that the mystery will be revealed in the first few issues of Totally Awesome Hulk. Banner and She-Hulk will join Cho in the new series along with several new characters who are yet to be revealed.

From his soft-serve K-Pop-inspired hairdo to his “Totally Awesome” title, Cho is clearly a departure from the traditional Hulk narrative. And for a brand that’s trying to push inclusivity, that’s a good thing.

Sept. 4 2015 2:29 PM

This Menu Generator Deliciously Skewers All the Worst Clichés of Brooklyn Bars

I love going to upscale bars in Brooklyn. With dark wood trim, low lighting, and good music playing at a reasonable volume, they’re the perfect place to enjoy an artisanal cocktail or a pint of craft beer with a friend or a date. But if you’re hungry, good luck figuring out what you want to order. Fancy Brooklyn bars have a bad habit of making their food menus so minimalist as to be inscrutable. 

Some sly dog, apparently after one too many trips to The VanderbiltThe JakeWalk, and Wolf & Deer, made a truly spot-on satire of opaque Brooklyn bar menus. The Brooklyn Bar Menu Generator invites would-be Kings County bar owners to “use this handy tool to generate a name and menu for your fine establishment—absolutely not imagination necessary!”

Sept. 4 2015 12:46 PM

Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, Starring Idris Elba, Looks Almost Unbearably Intense  

Idris Elba plays a magnetic, terrifying warlord in Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation, an adaptation of Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala’s novel of the same title. In the first full trailer, which follows up a teaser released in late July, we see Elba save the life of a young boy, Agu (Abraham Attah), but at a price—the boy must become a soldier.

Elba’s superhuman charisma has never seemed more chilling. “Victory!” he chants with child soldiers, as they yell back, “Yes, sir!” The film has received rave reviews coming out of Venice Film Festival that seem to agree that it is, as one reviewer put it, “one of the most beautiful films about ultimate ugliness.” The movie comes out on Netflix Oct. 16.

Sept. 4 2015 11:33 AM

Stephen Colbert’s Spoofs of Podcast Ads for His Late Show Podcast Are Dumb, Brilliant

Stephen Colbert is an avid podcast listener. At Slate we know this because he’s been known to call our offices when the Political Gabfest isn’t up on schedule. But now we also know this because he’s been putting out his own podcast about the making of the Late Show, and the fake ads he’s taped for it demonstrate a deep love-hate relationship with podcast ads—the same kind of deep love-hate relationship that all regular listeners share.

For comedy nerds, the podcast is worth listening to for all sorts of reasons. But for me, as someone who’s more of a podcast nerd than a comedy nerd, the fake ads are the best part.

Sept. 4 2015 11:23 AM

Miguel Performed an Intimate Acoustic Set in a Michigan Family’s Living Room

With tracks like “The Valley,” Miguel might not be the first artist to come to mind as a family-friendly performer. But recently the artist took to an unusual stage—a Michigan family’s living room—to perform in support of Make Room, a campaign to raise awareness for struggling renters.

Miguel’s heartfelt acoustic renditions of “Coffee,” “What’s Normal Anyway,” and “Adorn” speak to his own tie to the cause: “I grew up in a single parent family, and my mom often struggled,” Miguel said before he began performing. “I would see her work really hard and come home and be tired and give everything she had to us. And so it’s really cool to be able to hopefully just let you know that people are paying attention.”

Sept. 4 2015 11:17 AM

Janet Jackson Shares New Song “Unbreakable,” a Tribute to Her Fans

Janet Jackson is officially back: Her first tour in four years kicked off earlier this week to glowing reviews and her first new studio album in seven years, Unbreakable, is set for release in October. Now she’s dropped the title track, and like her first single from the album, the sultry “No Sleep,” Jackson and her long-time collaborators Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have brought back the old-school sound that her fans first fell in love with.

“Unbreakable,” which opens the album, starts off as a ballad, with Jackson singing to an unspecified “you” about how, though she’s made mistakes, she’s never gone “without your love,” adding, “you made me feel wanted.” As the song shifts into a smooth, mid-tempo groove, it becomes clear that the “you” she’s referring to is actually, you, her fans.

Sept. 4 2015 8:02 AM

How Mr. Robot Became One of TV’s Most Visually Striking Shows

When Tod Campbell joined Mr. Robot as director of photography on its second episode, he had what Marlo Stanfield from The Wire might refer to as “one of them good problems” in deciding how to shoot it. Lead actor Rami Malek’s eyes were almost too gorgeous. “My God, Rami? I could put a light a hundred yards away and his eyes would pick it up,” says the veteran cinematographer of shows from Friday Night Lights to Sleepy Hollow. This ocular casting coup helped determine how Campbell came to shape the distinctive look of creator Sam Esmail’s twisty, anti-capitalist hacker drama, one of the summer’s standout shows (its finale airs on USA tonight). And you don’t need Malek-size eyes to see that Mr. Robotcomposes its shots like nothing else on television today. 

Fitting for a show about those occupying society’s technological substrata, Mr. Robot’s characters are often placed at the very bottom of the frame. This leaves massive amounts of headroom that suggests a great weight hanging over their heads, and echoes their isolation: When they’re talking right to each other, they seem alone. In more conventional filmmaking, conversations are cut with the characters looking at each other from opposite ends of the frame, leaving what’s known as “leading room” between their faces that helps convey the physical space they occupy. Mr. Robot inverses the norm by “shortsighting” the characters, positioning their faces at the edge of the frame closest toward the person to whom they're speaking.

Sept. 3 2015 4:41 PM

Here Are Two New Songs from Empire’s Second Season. (Pitbull Makes a Cameo.)

Fox just released two new songs from Empire’s much-anticipated second season, and in one, Pitbull even makes an enthusiastic cameo. “No Doubt About it” (also featuring Jussie Smollett, who plays Jamal Lyon) is as infectiously danceable as one would expect, with such brazen, party-friendly lyrics as, “Aint nothing more important to me right now / than this shot of tequila.”

“Ain’t About the Money,” which features Smollett and Yazz, aka Bryshere Y. Gray, aka Hakeem Lyon, is a more seductive number, and sticks closely to the show’s central theme: “Ain’t about the money,” the main refrain chants. “It’s about the power.”

Sept. 3 2015 2:02 PM

So the Terminator, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Blade, and Michael Jackson Walk Into a Bar

There’s no shortage of pop culture mashups nowadays, but this video, in which over a dozen different movie characters inhabit the same hot spot called “Hell’s Club,” brings things to a whole new level. Using clever, seamless editing, Antonio Maria Da Silva creates a red-and-blue-tinged world in which Anakin SkywalkerBladeCarlito Brigante, Rollergirl, Saturday Night Fiver’s Tony Manero, and even Michael Jackson (à la “Smooth Criminal”) come together to trade sideways glances, dancing partners, and, eventually, bullets.

If you have 10 minutes to spare, it’s well worth watching, and pays off with the kind of shootout we could previously only imagine.

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