Pitchfork today debuted a new section dedicated to of hip-hop. “Levels," the first new section to launch on Pitchfork since “The Pitch” debuted in 2013, hopes to be "the essential destination for hip-hop obsessives."
Levels is led by senior editor Timothy "Timmhotep" Cornwall. Previously, he led NPR Music's hip-hop and R&B coverage and wrote for music titles including MTV, Rolling Stone, Complex, VIBE, and XXL. His team includes staff writer Alphonse Pierre, contributors Stephen Kearse, Briana Younger, and contributing editor Sheldon Pearce.
“With Levels, we’re aiming to add layers of depth to today’s hip-hop coverage,” said Cornwall. “We’re seeking to go beyond sensational headlines and hot takes to humanize our subjects and bring much-needed context to the conversation about this artform we love so much and the people who create it."
Forgoing the short, breaking news blog formula, Levels is designed to examine broad themes that exist across the genre and their intersections with society at large. This approach will allow writers to focus on the people, communities, objects, subcultures, and subgenres within the music and culture. Some early themes - which will sound familiar to readers of current hip hop outlets - include money, sex and humor.
Debut content also explores the theme of family, and includes a look at the cultural impact of the Odd Future collective 10 years after their first mixtape, a conversation with feminist rapper and mom Bbymutha, and a look at classic rap songs about family.
Levels will publish daily and include longform investigative journalism, provocative think pieces, and artist profiles. It will also publish “The Ones,” a new daily playlist identifying essential hip-hop songs, which is available now on Pitchfork’s Spotify account. Levels will also be rolling out a hip-hop podcast, newsletter, and video series in the coming weeks.
"As Pitchfork's rap coverage has grown, we’ve found an audience eager to make more meaningful connections with it,” said Pitchfork founder Ryan Schreiber. “Hip-hop has become a globally pervasive force, extending far beyond its musical roots, so expanding our editorial purview to reflect this is essential.”