Baltimore City Paper

Wandering Eye: On Kendrick Lamar's new video, Dan Deacon weighs in on the Orioles, and more

We've been thinking a lot more about video on our mobile site this week, mostly because it's something that the website can finally handle after many readers rightfully complained that the clip of Bill Cosby being heckled was unavailable on the mobile website. On Wednesday, rapper Kendrick Lamar, whose masterful new album "To Pimp A Butterfly" was released last month (he plays Merriweather's Sweetlife Festival on May 30-31), put out a video for 'King Kunta,' a defiant, catchy James Brown homage ("Something's in the water/ And if I gotta brown nose for some gold/ Then I'd rather be a bum than a motherfucking baller"). The video follows Lamar around his hometown of Compton, full of slices of life pulled equally from hip-hop generation iconography such as 1995's movie "Friday" and the iconic video for Juvenile's 'Ha,' and the '70s Los Angeles neorealism of black films like "Killer of Sheep" and "Bush Mama." It's great. What's particularly interesting about the clip, though, is that it has been shot to conform to the aspect ratio of a smartphone, as if the video were shot by someone who didn't think to keep the phone shooting it horizontal. Of course, it's on purpose in this case. The spirited, celebratory video is for the smartphone. It's an interesting example of how technology affects art and changes it and opens it up to more possibilities, adding to the sense that Lamar and his hometown are too big for the frame. It's also but one more way that Lamar expresses solidarity with those who grew up like him, black and poor with way fewer options. Research says people in poor communities use smartphones as substitutes for computers, which are too expensive. In every way, Kendrick Lamar has made a video just for people like him. (Brandon Soderberg)

As universities' tuition increases continue to outstrip inflation and students graduate with more and more debt, Stanford University has made a practically unprecedented move: It has announced a blanket financial-aid policy of "no parental contribution toward tuition from parents with annual incomes below $125,000." There's a few caveats to that, as Vox points out: Parents are still expected to pay room and board, which costs $14,107 (though that will also be waived for parents with annual incomes below $60,000), and students are expected to contribute "at least" $5,000 per year "toward their own educational expenses from summer income, savings and part-time work during the school year," though Vox clarifies that "there's no rule that parents can't cover their students' required contribution." And it's unclear how many students this will affect—"In 2010, the university's director of financial aid said the median family income at Stanford was around $125,000." But as Libby Nelson Vox-plains, "there's something that every college could emulate about Stanford's policy: it's incredibly simple and straightforward. Middle-class students know even before they apply to Stanford what they'll have to pay to attend, whether they'll be able to afford it, and how much they'll have to borrow. At most colleges, the amount a family is expected to pay doesn't show up until after students have applied, been accepted, and filled out financial aid paperwork. That's partly because many colleges are stretching their financial aid budgets and don't know what they're dealing with until students have been admitted." (Anna Walsh)

We here at City Paper are putting the finishing touches on our Opening Day feature. But if you're looking for an excuse to get hyped about the Orioles right here and now, look no further than Rolling Stone magazine—yes, really—where local musician Dan Deacon has expressed his affection for the team and its brilliant tactician of a manager, Buck Showalter. During his youth on Long Island in the '80s, Deacon grew up as a Yankees fan. Once he moved to Baltimore and helped start Wham City, though, he soon realized, "Fuck this. I've been rooting for Darth Vader this whole time!" There's also observation in there about the different ways Baltimore embraces the Ravens and Orioles. So how does he think the Birds will fare this year? "I think it'll be similar to last year, and they're in a tough division, so I'll say they win 96 games, and with Buck, anything could happen." Here's hoping. (Brandon Weigel)