The Angle

The Angle: Hip-Hop Rules Everything Around Me Edition 

Slate’s daily newsletter on the Grammys, Scalia’s legacy, and a complex legal battle over surrogacy.

Lit by a huge bonfire, Kendrick Lamar performs onstage at the Grammy Awards, Feb. 15, 2016. 

Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Hello! Welcome back to the Newsletter Once Known as “Today in Slate.” In its new form, the Angle will share the most interesting ideas about the news each day, highlighting thought-provoking pieces from Slate as well as other fascinating stories from around the Web. 

Carl Wilson saw but one winner at last night’s Grammy Awards: hip-hop, writ large. Even though Taylor Swift took home Album of the Year, Wilson writes, “anyone watching this year’s ceremony knew that Kendrick Lamar, who had the most nominations of any artist, seized the bullhorn of cultural meaning, with a literally fiery, chain-breaking, and politically potent … performance.” The Best Musical award for Hamilton only reinforced Wilson’s argument for hip-hop’s omnipresent influence on the best musical work produced this past year. 

(In some related exuberance: Wilson also loved Kanye West’s album The Life of Pablo. His listening experience: “I was struck down. And I was bathed in aural light. It didn’t quite rank as a Damascene moment but, pardon my blaspheming tongue, goddamn.” The New York Times’ Jon Caramanica was likewise impressed.) 

Michelle Goldberg took a long look at a complicated legal battle over the fate of triplets being carried by a surrogate mother in California. The babies Melissa Cook is gestating are genetically unrelated to her; does she have the right to prevent their father, who has started having second thoughts, from aborting one of them?  “Whether or not one believes that surrogacy should be legal,” Goldberg writes, “Cook’s predicament shows how few protections there are for surrogate mothers when their agreements go bad.”

It’s been three days since Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in Texas. If you missed Dahlia Lithwick’s two pieces on his legacy, posted over the long weekend, here they are. (Dahlia, Emily Bazelon, and David Plotz also talked Scalia on a bonus episode of the Political Gabfest.) 

Eric Posner argues that Scalia’s famed focus on originalism masked an inevitable ideological bent. Scalia proclaimed that he wanted to see the court’s business conducted neutrally, without attention to politics, Posner writes; his presence had the exact opposite effect.  

[Scalia] considered himself a conservative but denied that he ruled conservatively. While the other justices ritualistically denied that politics should play a role in their decision-making, only he really meant it—or at least seemed to. His anguished complaints that other justices voted ideologically were met with puzzled silence. Of course, they voted ideologically; what else would they do? The stridency with which Scalia attacked them, especially in his later years, could only make one scratch one’s head. If he was the boy who revealed that the emperor wore no clothes, did he not know that he was also naked?

Nathaniel Frank surveyed Scalia’s public statements on LGBTQ issues, concluding that the justice’s obtuseness on equality for gay people may have been, in some ways, a blessing. “Justice Scalia said harmful, hurtful things about LGBTQ people, things that reflect ugly, stubborn, unevolved beliefs,” Frank writes. “But there is another side to this. In his brilliance and boldness, he asked sharp, hard questions that made the rest of us grapple with the real, strong justifications for advancing LGBTQ equality.”

Scalia’s 2008 decision against stricter local gun control in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller will be the one that conservatives rally around, William Saletan says. Ted Cruz is already on board: “At a rally on Monday, Cruz spent more than 10 minutes talking about Scalia and the stakes of losing that seat on the court. He devoted two minutes just to Heller and guns.”

For fun: Seth Stevenson investigates the delicate art of using stock footage in campaign ads.

Hey! Is that Canada?!,


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