Examining rap lyrics to measure quality of life in Compton. An ambitious housing plan from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. How Boston is changing thanks to one architecture firm. Why Atlanta is putting all its money on the BeltLine. Plus, Bike Month! All in this week's Urban Reads!

  • Why does all the rap and hip hop coming out of South Los Angeles sound the same 20 years later? It may be because the quality of life there has not gotten any better in the past two decades [Radio.com]
  • The mayor's announcement was the culmination of a campaign promise to make the city more livable for poor and middle-class New Yorkers, many of whom find it increasingly difficult to pay their rent. He has pinned his housing plan on the goal of creating or maintaining 200,000 affordable units over the next 10 years—80,000 new units and 120,000 existing ones preserved—which would surpass the considerable investment in affordable housing over Mayor Bloomberg's three terms." Mayor Bill de Blasio lays out his affordable housing plan [New York Times]
  • Atlanta is betting it all on the success of its ambitious new BeltLine project. Is that wise? [Atlantic Cities]
  • Boston's busiest design firm, Elkus Manfredi Architects, is helping to bring inventive, cutting-edge architecture to a city that's notoriously hard to build in [Curbed]
  • An interactive guide to London's changing skyline, where over 200 skyscrapers are planned [Guardian Cities]
  • The slow death of purposeless walking [BBC]
  • After a failed mass transit plan, the car-obsessed city of Beirut simply planned more highways. What happened? [Next City]
  • America is about to run out of money to build its roads. And this isn't the first time [Vox]
  • "Urban areas have swollen with people. Range and pasturelands have shrunk. There's a bit more forest than there was back in 2014, a result of economic incentives driving more timber production." How we'll use our land in 2051. [Gizmodo]
  • The suburbs are not dead. They're just changing [Next City]
  • "The NeuroSky device we were using in Dumbo takes readings of the brain's electrical activity as it is transmitted to the body's surface—specifically, in this case, the forehead. An algorithm then takes those readings of beta, theta, delta, and other waves, and summarizes them into two general states—attentive and meditative. The idea behind the visualization will be to 'spray' this data onto a 3D map of the neighborhood we walked around and see what it reveals about the mental state of the experiment's participants as they moved through space." A new device hopes to measure the brain's reaction to the urban environment [Atlantic Cities]
  • It's Bike Month here on Gizmodo! Check out all our stories, including some gorgeous vintage bike ads, our web chat with a bike lawyer, why Minneapolis is such a great winter biking city, and how to get your bike back after it's stolen.

Photo by Ellie McCutcheon for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which celebrated Bike to Work Day last week. Many cities are celebrating Bike to Work Day this Thursday, May 15.



Demographically, Compton is nothing like what it was 25 years ago. To be honest, it barely was then. People imagined (and still imagine) it to be a super violent African American neighborhood fulled with warring bloods and crips, but in reality its just a really poor predominantly latino neighborhood. Its still poor, and there is some gang presence there now, but its not african american gangs that your average suburbanite (or conservative) imagines.

Interestingly enough, the guys who made that 'gangsta' image of Compton popular (NWA, DJ Quik etc) grew up when Compton was a middle class neighborhood in the 70s before the war on drugs took effect and crack started popping up. Dr Dre and Easy E were both middle class kids from middle class families.