For real, for real, for real this time...

Super Empty is back. Again.

For real, for real, for real this time...

For those with a certain level of interest in the journalism industry, particularly music journalism, we’ll all remember where we were when Pitchfork fell. OK, maybe we won’t exactly remember where we were (for the record, I was in the laundry room), but we’ll at least remember the group chats. And the tweets about Anna Wintour not even taking her shades off for the firing announcement, about the irony of Pitchfork working for years to shed a boy’s club reputation only to be folded into an outlet called Gentleman’s Quarterly, about how, if you listen to music on a streaming platform, the blood of these layoffs is on your hands. (Exasperated emphasis mine.)

Among those sentiments, one stood out to me in particular: that these events were yet another stark reminder of the need — though hardly a replacement for paying, authoritative institutions like Pitchfork — for small-scale, low-or-no-profit, locally/regionally focused music publications and blogs. For places that may not ever make a dime of profit, but contribute to the endeavor of music criticism nonetheless, and won’t be suddenly shut down and sold for parts by “the suits behind the desk” who wouldn’t know a 1.3 from an 8.5 if their lives depended on it. For one glimmer of goodness and true joy against a backdrop of so much carnage and rot and decay.

It stood out to me because, amidst all the despair, hand-wringing and (justifiable) skewering of hedge funds, it felt like something actionable: after all, a music blog can be set up in 15 minutes. And it stood out to me because, in the not too distant past, I made one of said local music blogs (that’s right — you’re reading it!).

As the super fans out there know, there hasn’t been a new post to Super Empty since the passing of Mac Miller in September 2018, more than five years ago. The whole place may be covered in cobwebs and reek of moth balls, but as rusty as it — and I, for that matter — may be, Super Empty still lives.

As much as life often managed to interrupt past incarnations of this project, the recent onslaught of bleak media news — a reminder, among other things, that music criticism and music writing in general won't exist unless we insist upon it — has me more resolute than ever in making sure this time, it sticks. The time away has come with an added benefit: technological leaps in online self-publishing (and setting up reader subscriptions) will take much of the drudge work out of managing SE. that previously got in the way of actual writing.

My intentions with SE, as ever, are modest and simple: give music fans a source for thorough, thoughtful writing on North Carolina hip-hop, and pay smart, insightful music and culture writers to provide it. Any and all revenue brought in from readers and supporters will go towards that end. Beyond my word, the only other assurance I can give you that this is not intended as a source of financial self-interest is that it would be the worst financial self-enrichment scheme of all-time.

To that end, I'm trying something out that Super Empty has never had before: subscriptions. While all articles will be readable in full with just an email address free subscription, the goal is to ultimately convince anyone getting value out of this site to pay a modest $1.99/month (or $20/year) — much lower than the minimum for Substack newsletters of $5/mo. — to keep it going. And I'm also including a $100/year "Partners" tier as well, for those with the means to chip in a bit more. It's hardly a perfect science, and something I expect to experiment with more as time goes on.

Later this week I'll be uploading a few old clippings from the archives of both Super Empty and Indy Week, select pieces from myself and others that span from 2016 to 2022. And next Monday, new material starts in earnest, with a subject I’ve long wanted to write about, but never did because I was overwhelmed by trying to capture it all. For now, in the spirit of publishing, in the spirit of putting things out into the universe, Monday's piece is a first installation that doesn’t necessarily have every detail. We’ll get to those in Part 2. For now, I'm interested in one thing: bringing Super Empty back — and eventually, putting it on better footing than ever before. I hope you'll come along for the ride.