…wait, what is this?

You’re looking at a syllabus for a course called why is Japan so cool?’. Yes, that is the official title. This is a class being offered for the 2021 UCLA Summer Session. The course will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays, from 5pm to 7pm Los Angeles time, starting on June 21st, through July 30th.

The course is open to everyone, even if you are not a UCLA student.

You can see the course here, and register at summer.ucla.edu. Everything is remote.

It’s taught by me. My government name is Dexter Thomas, Jr. I used to study Japanese hip-hop for…

Hi. I’m black, and I have some advice that may or may not apply to you.

That is: I don’t have any advice for Asian people today. I do, however, have some for non-Asian people. If that’s you, feel free to read on.

This advice comes from the perspective of a black guy who got lots of ‘just checking in’ messages when George Floyd was murdered. From people I hadn’t heard from in years. Most (not all) were white.

Short messages. Long messages. Predictable messages.

A rush of

I had no idea it was so bad/now I believe you/I’m sorry…

Hi. Also some thoughts on Breonna Taylor memes and ‘minority’ humor.

You may have heard that Rep John Lewis passed away. And if you’ve been on Twitter, you may have also heard that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio eulogized Lewis by posting a picture of himself and …Elijah Cummings.

A man who is very significant, but also significantly not John Lewis.

People noticed immediately. One journalist summed it up in a quote tweet: ‘Wrong black guy’.

Rubio has since deleted the tweet, and acknowledged that he tweeted an ‘incorrect photo’. …

May 18, 2017. Keith Ape on the left, Brian Imanuel on the right. Shot on a Ricoh GR.

I first met Rich Chigga — as he was known back then, after his first performance in Los Angeles, back in May.

I thought he was a pretty cool guy. We rode in someone’s car to a restaurant somewhere in Koreatown. He seemed absolutely bewildered by his fame, but very confident in his ability. We didn’t talk about anything significant – I think we were mostly raving about Playboi Carti’s “Magnolia”, and making fun of Keith Ape’s apparent hatred of Jameson whiskey.

But I knew that if I ever did a formal interview with him, we’d end up talking about…

So, I watched this ‘Homo Cholo’ video about a gay Latino dude in LA, and it got me thinking: Donald Trump’s suggestion that we start profiling Muslims to prevent shootings like the one that happened in Orlando is kinda ironic.

Not just because of our country’s pathetic history of racial profiling, but because profiling is precisely what places like Pulse were designed to protect against.

It isn’t accurate to just say that the attack targeted “Americans”. …

Muhammad Ali didn’t ‘transcend race’. As @Shaft said the other day,

Transcending race/gender is what white people say when they begrudgingly accept us as equals. Not realizing that they are the ones that need to transcend.

So I made a Chrome extension to help people out in the meantime. The main functionality is the following: it changes ‘transcended race’ to ‘was retroactively deemed safe by white people’.

If you’d like to browse the Internet with accuracy, here’s how to do it:


  1. Click here to get the Chrome extension.
  2. Once you have installed it, the extension should now be working. Cruise…

Students at Cal State Los Angeles / Photo: Francine Orr

There are two things that bother me about Teacher Appreciation Week (which starts today, by the way).

The first one is that it’s a “week” at all. It encourages us to think that if we send our kid to school with some store-bought cookies to put on Ms. Robinson’s desk, then we’ve sufficiently shown our respect for the people who are tasked with shaping the minds of the future. Appreciation that needs a time limit isn’t really appreciation. (If we get a Teacher Appreciation Decade or something, then we’re talking.)

The other thing I don’t like is that we seem…

All photos by Kirk McKoy, LA Times, except where noted. This article was originally posted on latimes.com.

For a lot of people born after the 1990s, the movie “Straight Outta Compton” may well be their first real exposure to the beating of Rodney King, or the L.A. riots. In the two decades since these events, a lot has happened in L.A. But how much has actually changed?

The following is a conversation between three black journalists at the Los Angeles Times: Kirk McKoy, a photographer who covered the events in Los Angeles after the not guilty verdict in 1992 that set off rioting, and two young writers who are still new to the Los Angeles Times staff…

image: Tokyo Tribe / Inoue Santa

Hi! You’re probably here because you heard me talk about Japanese rap music at a Pop-Up Magazine event. Maybe you’d like to hear some.

So, here’s a mixtape I made:

Note that I originally recorded this for a lecture I gave back in 2010, so the “new” stuff is a little dated. The best part is probably the first half, with the classics.

But you don’t have to take my word for it.

If you want to hold some Japanese rap history in your hands, but can’t go to Japan, you’re in luck. I’ve established a Japanese hip-hop collection in the UC Riverside library, and because the library is open…

All photos by dex digital / LA Times except where indicated.

For a genre born of the digital age, grime can be pretty hard to keep up with.

It’s not that the music itself isn’t accessible online. It is. But if you’re not actually living in the U.K., then you’re missing out on the culture. No pirate radio stations, no Channel U, and no grime concerts.

So when I had the chance to go see a show by Stormzy, one of the leaders of a new generation of grime MCs, I got myself in there. I did a quick interview with him and wrote it up here:

But, there’s a few…

dex digital

. scholar slash baller . @dexdigi . whatupdex.com .

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