Fifteen years ago, I was one of the untold thousands who got to hear you tell them their answer was wrong

Yes, the mid-’00s vibes are strong with that facial hair arrangement.

On an early October weekend in 2005, I went to Los Angeles to appear on that most hallowed of game shows, JEOPARDY!. I got my picture taken with Alex Trebek. (That’s it above.) I was threatened by Kenneth Starr’s niece. And somewhere in there, I won. Twice! It was, at least based on the winning, quite the time. Based on the threatened-by-Kenneth-Starr’s-niece part, it was still quite the time, though a bit more perplexing.

My appearance was the realization of my girlfriend’s years-long exhortation that I try out for the show. Whenever we watched the show, she would say something…


It can do anything, but just don’t try to make it do everything

Photo by Brad Neathery on Unsplash

Let’s get one thing out of the way — I love em dashes. For instance, that last sentence should’ve used a colon. Let’s get one thing out of the way: I love em dashes. Nope! You’re outta here, colon. Go find a serial list to preface.

Loving the em dash treads a fine and dangerous line, though. It’s one of the most flexible pieces of punctuation at a writer’s disposal, but that flexibility can lead to pitfalls from overuse to straight-up misuse. In other words, you should probably learn to be judicious in deploying it, lest your work start to…

A close-up illustration of a man wearing headphones. Silhouettes of various rappers are drawn across the headphones.
A close-up illustration of a man wearing headphones. Silhouettes of various rappers are drawn across the headphones.
Illustration: Kingsley Nebechi

40 Over 40

Aging used to signal the end of a rap career — now it’s a way to forge a tighter bond with fans

I don’t remember the first rapper I ever interviewed — a 20-plus-year career in journalism will do that — but I definitely remember the first rapper I thanked: Common, aka Lon-chikka-Lonnie Lynn. This was back in the Like Water For Chocolate era; as we sat there in a New York hotel room talking about everything and nothing at the same time, I realized that this dude had already made three albums that had hit me at different points in my young life. The hyperactive yawping on his debut, Can I Borrow a Dollar?, slid perfectly into my adolescent, Das EFX-loving…

Even as we begin to re-enter the world together, a small — but crucial — element of male friendship will be missing. And we may never get it back.

Illustration: Jamiel Law

Big Blue was her name. An ’81 Impala, stock save for the Pioneer tape deck Norm had thrown in the dash. That tape deck held just about the entirety of the early ’90s while we drove through the Indiana night doing nothing. MC Breed, Cube, Tribe, Pac, Redman, X-Clan. Sometimes nothing would turn into something — wood-tip Swishers stuffed with what passed for weed back then, off-campus parties that didn’t mind a couple of high school kids — but always, ultimately, the night would end the same way it began. Big Blue idling outside my house, or my shitty Prelude…

Welcome to Medium’s new publication for Black and Brown men. Tell us your stories.

Photo: Andrew Neel/Unsplash

Welcome to LEVEL. We’re new! (For now, at least.) It’s important to know what we’re trying to do here, the kinds of stories we want to run, and how to maximize your chances of writing those stories.

Our mission and our readers

It’s simple: We aim to fundamentally change what you think of when you hear the phrase “men’s publication,” and to do so through and for the worldview of Black and Brown men. To unpack that a bit:

  1. “Men” is a broad descriptor, and we intend to reflect that breadth. If we run a piece about sex or relationships, the piece will, whenever possible…

Peter Rubin

Executive Editor at LEVEL. Culture, virtual and otherwise.

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