Apologies for the hiatus since the last Sidebar1 but this one arrives just on time with the end of summer nearing. Sasha Frere-Jones is the pop music critic for The New Yorker as well as culture editor for The Daily and, generally speaking, has been one of the definitive voices on pop music of the past 10 years.

I first “met” Sasha about 10 years back, through a now-defunct listserv (remember those?) for other music writer nerds. It was extremely gratifying to see him be among the first to really “do hip-hop right” at the NY Times, and then, of course, at the New Yorker. Unlike in earlier generations, he’s not a rock dude who “crossed over” to hip-hop; as our podcast covers, he was listening since the earliest days and his deep sense of history and love for the music has always shone.

In any case, I wanted to have SFJ talk about his favorite summer songs and little did I realize how much we’d end up talking about the classic days of early hip-hop radio in NYC, giving me an excuse to scour the webs for old Zulu Beat and Mr. Magic tapes. We also talk about Beyonce and Rihanna and what it takes, in these austere days of the music industry, to put together a proper summer anthem. In the bonus beats section after the end of the formal podcast, we get into 1) why Jay-Z doesn’t have the same fire as he used to and 2) why Sasha decided to sell off all his vinyl a few years back.2

The Sidebar #14: Sasha Frere-Jones of The New Yorker/The Daily3

Music used in the podcast:

  1. I’ve had a few in the can that needed editing and this one, in particular, was fun to put together but time-intensive, especially in finding all the relevant old school clips.
  2. Yeah, I know, this comes up a lot in my podcasts but deal with it. I find it fascinating and this is a site about records, after all.
  3. SFJ used to be in Ui and is now part of the bands Calvinist as well as Piñata.