The end of the year is here. I know you, overachiever that you are. Pandemic and all, you’re taking stock of it. In a world where everyone somehow still seems to be crushing it, did you do enough?

The truth is, you did. If you are alive reading this right now, you did enough. This was a crazy year, and you survived. Maybe you social distanced, maybe you didn’t, maybe you worked from home or maybe you had to go out there and be amongst the people. Maybe you didn’t even work at all. Maybe you’ve just been locked in…


Many people have seen The Godfather. The Francis Ford Coppola-directed movie is frequently cited as one of the best — if not the best — films of all time. And rightfully so, it’s a family movie disguised as a crime drama masquerading as an inside look at the mafia. Layers upon layers of brilliance.

But the movie is actually adapted from a book, one you’ve probably seen in an airport bookstore, laying on a nightstand at your crazy uncle’s house or literally anywhere else on earth. It has sold more than 30 million copies.

And yet, the book is, well…


Election day came and America voted overwhelmingly to re-elect Donald Trump, bringing to the fore something we have known for the longest time — Americans will do anything to return the country to a time which never even existed in the first place. When it was great, they think. When was that? Nobody knows. But that’s the thing about hindsight. It’s always 20/20.

They put their faith in a clueless leader who would shovel them head-first into an oven, like Jews in the Holocaust, if it would net him more money, more votes and ultimately, more power.

Two days later…


In the fall of 2010, I had the courtesy of interviewing a young rapper, largely unknown out of serious hip-hop circles, named Kendrick Lamar. The interview was for a 300-word profile to be published in XXL magazine, what I believe was the first piece of print journalism done on him.

At the time, he was on the Independent Grind Tour with Tech N9ne, performing a mere 20-minutes each night alongside labelmate Jay Rock, promoting his now-classic mixtape Overly Dedicated.

He was thoughtful and self-assured, wise beyond his years. Though his voice barely rose a register, he saw himself one day…


Kanye West’s new album is far from flawless, but it delivers on its mission nonetheless

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Kanye West released his 10th solo studio album, Donda, on Sunday, August 29. It had been teased for weeks, with each listening event — two inside Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and one inside his hometown Chicago’s Soldier Field — building hype for what felt like a messianic scripture that would never come.

But then it was here. Nearly two hours of music, most of which had previously been heard with slight tweaks and a few notable omissions. Much has already been made of it — critics who’ve primarily judged the album on aesthetics (how it sounds), social politics (Marilyn Mansion and…


I was at the Knicks game last night at Madison Square Garden, Game 1 of the NBA Playoffs, a place the team hasn’t been in nearly a decade.

Traffic to the game was crazy; an hour and fifteen through the Lincoln Tunnel, as if every car in New York had sped off to New Jersey for the weekend and was, right before tip-off, suddenly returning.

So, I missed much of the first quarter, and it seemed, from the scene inside, that everyone else did too; fans were scattered all around, drinking beers, scarfing down pizza, some still even trying to…


Over the past year, I have had numerous conversations with people who seem to be struggling. It was the coronavirus, but it was also other stuff — work, relationships, creative struggles, the state of the world.

Everyone seemed to be running to a therapist, sometimes to talk, but a lot of times to get referred elsewhere for medication. My own views on medication have advanced considerably in recent years; I wasn’t raised in a family that dealt with therapy in any serious way, and we didn’t turn to doctors so quickly to solve problems we felt were solvable ourselves. …


The other night I was looking to watch the movie “Cherry.” This is a movie starring Tom Holland, directed by the Russo Brothers (of Avengers fame), based on a book written by Nico Walker.

There were many reviews for the movie, most of them negative. Which made me want to watch it. I looked to see if it was available, and learned that it was in the theaters — which I am not going to these days (*cough* Covid-19 *cough*). It was also available on Apple TV.

I subscribe to Apple TV, so I figured I could put it on…


Lately I have fallen back in love with the piano. I’ve been sitting at it more, each day getting slightly better because each day I sit down and play a little bit. And as I sit there, even if it is for only ten minutes, the fingers become more accustomed to hitting the keys, the strength in the hands develops, and the ear grows more comfortable with what it is hearing.

It’s the last point — the ear — which I think doesn’t get enough credit. We often talk about someone’s talent in terms of how well they play…


Work means doing a thing even when you don’t want to do it. When you are tired, when you rather be doing something else, when you simply do not care.

Work is not play. Although it can be, it is not. Work is work.

Work commands you to engage with something you would not engage with were it any other day, were you to have 24 hours of free time to choose your own adventure and spend it doing something you actually want to do.

Work is hard. Not always, but often. Work is definitely hard.

Work is a…

Paul Cantor

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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