When Jay-Z dedicates 4:44, his thirteenth album, and arguably one of his best works, to the women in his life, you know hip-hop is having a moment. The true takeaway from 4:44is that Jay-Z has evolved, and it’s a nod to the changing tides in rap when Shawn Carter — rap’s Frank Lucas — is most concerned with the legacy and continued development of successful, black communities. Releases like Frank Ocean’s Blonde and Tyler the Creator’s Flower Boy are indicators that mainstream rap and R&B aren’t tone-deaf to the current discourses of identity politics. What exactly does this mean for rap? More men in dresses like Young Thug’s highly publicized No, My Name is JEFFERY album cover? (Perhaps. Next up,A$AP Rocky in a Raf Simons’s shirtdress—please!)
No, My name is JEFFERY album coverCourtesy 300 Entertainment/ATL
In case you didn’t realize, big names in hip hop are rapping about other things outside of the hallmarks of braggadocio: jewels, women, cars, and more women; in fact, they’re starting to rap about their own fluid sexuality, their rejection of hyper masculinity, and their acceptance of gay and queer figures in their lives. The joys of testosterone-induced gangsta rap are sure to stay afloat in rap’s current queer moment, but the time has come for rap to transcend its heteronormative boundaries.
Flower Boy has been credited as Tyler’s coming-out album,despite the countless problematic think pieces that suggest Tyler is trolling his own sexuality. Give “Garden Shed” a few repeat listens, and any suspicion of the former Odd Future leader clowning his inner desires should dissipate. Besides, artists are allowed to be rude, sarcastic, and unserious right — even if they’re queer…those are human qualities anyone can display right? The day has come where black men and women can express their fluidity in the taboo arenas of sexuality and gender in music without providing a rainbow disclaimer. And guess what? It’s amazing! It’s a spectrum of love, humor, and acceptance in a genre that’s dominated by straight men and heterosexual rap puns.
CupcakKe at Nylon Music CelebrationPhoto by Johnny Nunez/WireImage
But let’s not forget the rappers who were woke from the beginning, the true MVPs of the queer movement in rap: CupcakKe, Mykki Blanco, Le1f, Princess Nokia, Cakes da Killa, Dai Burger, and Angel Haze. These artists are fearless when talking about their bodies, sexual preferences, and — gasp! — same-sex relationships. These aren’t queer rappers, just rappers, exploring where and how they fit into an art form that has historically mocked and rejected their narratives. CupcakKe raps on the aptly titled “LGBT:” “And shout out to the bi’s, you ain’t gotta pick a side/ And if you in the closet, shorty, you ain’t gonna hide.” Mykki Blanco’s debut album Mykki, is an honest account of her drug use and struggle with mental health in a culture determined to enforce self-imprisonment in identity shaming closets. And Cakes da Killa’s, Hedonism, wastes no time letting you know how he likes it and with whom he likes it.
The thing about legacy is that it’s a product for posterity. All the bling, cars, girls, drugs are for the moment — progressing an entire genre of music to accept all bodies and sexualities is something to preserve for the future. (C’mon, even Jay-Z is on board!) Whether it’s a moment, a movement,or some experimental phase your parents warned you about, queer narratives are now represented and celebrated in rap, and that’s something to brag about.
“She’s filled with secrets. Where we’re from, the birds sing a pretty song and there’s always music in the air.”
The role music has played in the world of David Lynch’s Twin Peaks is far greater than any other character. It’s through songs like Laura Palmer’s Theme or Audrey’s Dance, sonic encapsulations of these figments of imagination, that we have come to feel like we know them in the first place. The live bands featured before the end of every night’s episode, just before the credits roll, are as much as part of the story unfolding before us as everyone else. We had a hard time listening to Nine Inch Nail’s haunting rendition of “She’s Gone Away” on Part 8 without envisioning Laura somewhere in it’s words. “I can’t remember what she came here for / I can’t remember much of anything anymore/ She’s gone, she’s gone, she’s gone away….”
As someone who’s spent their entire life devoted to music, that very same thing is what drew me into the series. Lynch aims to absorb the characters in the music that surrounds them, in a way that’s surreally unlike any other series on television. Instead of songs coming in at the start of a new scene, they become part of a character’s environment – whether it’s blasting from a car driving past or the jukebox in the Roadhouse diner, it attempts to aid along a narrative set by the show’s creator himself.
Many beloved artists have made appearances in The Return, like the Chromatics, Au Revoir Simone, and Sharon Van Etten. The Roadhouse and it’s performers, in the world of Twin Peaks, became a foundation for the underlying message of the night. Last Sunday’s episode saw a familiar face return to the stage – James Hurley, ever so cool, with a rendition of the very same song he crooned to Donna several seasons ago. However, James wasn’t the most interesting part of the scene, albeit the most heartbreaking. A young woman credited as Renee (played by Jessica Szohr) sat in the audience and, upon a minute into the performance, starts breaking down in tears. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been that woman before, enthralled in someone else’s sorrows that quickly became my own, that lended the moment a feeling of familiarity. Much like Phoenix’s Sofia Coppola-directed music video for “Chloroform“, the subject of a young female in hysterics over a song is not necessarily new or lost on anyone, much less Lynch. It’s hard for me to believe this sentiment of longing, the type we feel when we are moved beyond any reasonable wording by just a piece of music, could be reflected any better than through a lone Renee holding back tears between whispers of “just you and I.”
“Twin Peaks”, Showtime
How does the score become composed when it’s so closely intertwined with the story, anyway? Angelo Badalamenti is behind some of the more haunting compositions on Twin Peaks since the series’ inception. In a Variety interview with music director Dean Hurley, he gave us some insight into the whole process: “Historically [Lynch] has always done this: worked with Angelo next to him, playing piano or Fender Rhodes before, during, and after production. This time, they did so in a unique fashion through Skype and another ISDN-like program, where we linked Angelo’s New Jersey studio with our studio in Los Angeles. Broadcasting was done at high resolution so that David could work with Angelo in live time. They were seeing each other on Skype, talking back and forth, the same way they always worked, but now in a super-digital, futuristic way. Through this process, we built up a small library of new Angelo music, then we had a lot of the original Angelo music from the first series, then this archive of experiments David and I recorded over the years and stored. Eventually we wound up with all these paint colors so that, as you’re assembling a show, David could start reaching for things as he saw fit,” he said. “David described the scene in detail to Angelo via Skype and he started playing. As this was happening David was, like, “Now the car hits him,” and Angelo brings in atonal clusters. Then David told Angelo to bring in something beautiful and Angelo did – all in real-time. That cue existed verbatim. The score was laid in perfectly, even though they worked independently from each other.”
“Twin Peaks”, Showtime
Twin Peaks, if anything, is a story of loss – music happens to be the one thing that helps us cope when we’ve lost something, someone, and feel like we’ve lost a part of ourselves too. It’s focus on making it’s music just as integral to it’s story as anything else is part of the reason why we’re still watching 25 years later – because through sounds and the memories they bring is where we find the ability to relate. The story of it’s intro theme song, Laura Palmer’s Theme, is as simple as it is revealing – Lynch told Badalamenti to imagine he was alone in the woods at night. The wind was blowing, an owl hooting. The keyboard slowly climbs up higher and higher melodies before falling back into the loneliness of the woods. It took about 20 minutes until Lynch replied, “Don’t change a single note. I see Twin Peaks.”
Twin Peaks airs on Showtime at 9/10c.
LISTEN to this playlist of all the show’s featured bands:
Kilo Kish is a singer from Orlando, Florida who has spent a lot of her life in Brooklyn. She makes some of the best music being made today; earnest, autobiographical, melding R&B vocals with dancefloors beats and a stylistically effervescent approach that makes each song feel like a small handwritten note scribbled quickly before leaving the scene. Her voice has the clarity of ice water, refreshing and overwhelming, resistant of murky metaphors, safe ambiguities. Her latest record, last year’s Reflections in Real Time, begins with her enunciating her name over a manic drum beat. It is a voice, needless to say, singular and always, lingering the background. Yet, in between her work as a designer, a painter and a textile artist, she has recorded some of this decade’s most introspective pop music, a discography that always feels like it is whispering in your ear.
“I felt I had more perspective to give than that of a cutesy rapper,” she told me when I asked her what exactly did she mean when she told Ellelast year that she didn’t feel like she actually put herself into any of her music before then. Work being discounted would include K+, her debut mixtape that featured names like Childish Gambino, Vince Staples and A$AP Ferg way back in 2013, before any of them signified contemporary hip hop royalty. In the past year, Kish has netted a feature on Humanz and is on about half of Big Fish Theory, two of this year’s most anticipated hip hop records. Her voice, chilling, teasing, coy, gives rappers something to narratively work with, a foil that feels real. But these are also very much her songs, she has co-writing credits on much of Staples’ last record
Yet it doesn’t feel like Kish’s game involves racking up high-profile features and trading them in for higher festival slots or brand endorsements. She resists the carefully publicity-choreographed pop music narratives, telling me that “some brands stick to their identity and play into their roles…I’d like to make what I want when I want without thinking twice about what’s been built previously.” Unsurprisingly, she doesn’t feel engaged by social media. She confesses that she doesn’t really listen to a lot of current music or keep up with the movies. “But somehow, I’m still able to exist in a music, art and fashion world that changes minute to minute…it’s fucking weird.”
When I see her live, she was carrying a copy of The New Yorker, holding it not like a prop but as if she had been genuinely been trying to keep up with the culture before the show began. She throws it to the ground, an affectation that could feel music theater but, somehow, does not. Throughout her show she picks up a rotary phone, a briefcase, throwing both to the ground as well. Willy Loman in a bright red overcoat. She moves around the stage with frantic urgency and none of this, remind myself now, feels like acting. The phrase ‘wrestling with demons’ comes to mind but I banish the timidity of the cliché.
“An album is like a breeze that blows in,” she tells me and it is true, her work feels effortless. She’s had her share of Odd Future collabs but no Tyler, the Creator threat has ever felt as unforced as Kish’s jilted lover sounds on “Julienne,” from 2012’s Homeschool, when she stammers: “I–I–tore you to pieces, when I heard the news”
The New York press had fallen in love with Kish shortly after her debut first hit, she made the cover of The Village Voice in 2012 and played before a packed crowd of the media class shortly she graduate from F.I.T. To quote Matthew Trammell, the name was appealing: hard alternating consonants, a combination more fierce than Marilyn Manson and the Scissor Sisters combined. But she left the press hungry and they moved on to her peers, more content to feed the needs of needing things to write about. When I talked to her, Kish was ambivalent about what that was supposed to mean, about the enterprise of popular success.
“When people get tired of cake and ice cream they want something salty or sour,” she told me, and it felt even more cryptic than it should. “I think we are nearing the end of this decade’s sweet tooth, its sad how predictable [that is].”
“The second that women collaborate with other people, all of our credit is stripped from us. We seem to go to the bottom of the totem pole of who is responsible for the magic.”
Kiran Gandhi had to make a choice. Shortly after graduating with a M.B.A from Harvard, she was running the London Marathon, an event she had spent the past year training for. Her period had started the night before and, as she told Alli Maloney in a New York Times profile, the thought of having to run 26 miles wearing a tampon did not appeal to her. So, she didn’t. The image went viral and, suddenly, Gandhi was a spokesperson for menstrual stigma, an issue that was both a symbolic and practical concern for many in the feminist community. Gandhi had intended on having a career behind the scenes in the music industry but suddenly she discovered she was now an outsider, a protester demanding systemic change. What would she do next?
When I spoke to her, Gandhi had just played three shows in the past two days as Madame Gandhi, a music project that she has branded “electro-feminism.” She tells me she is exhausted, we are meeting early in the morning and people haven’t even eaten brunch yet. But she has another show, in another city, later this evening, so now will do. She is wearing a lightly decorated hoodie, sweatpants. This is not unlike her onstage attire, described in Vogue as a “bold orange waffled two-piece tracksuit with gold-accented sunglasses.” Onstage, she is also flanked by a troupe of backup dancers, all wearing a bright monochromatic yellow that Gandhi calls a “power color.”
Madame Gandhi released its first EP last year, shortly before the election. Titled Voices, the record’s political charge included everything from a fist-pumping pro-Hillary anthem (titled “Her”) to a chillingly catchy anti-patriarchy drum-and-bass polemic titled “The Future is Female.” The title is appropriated from the slogan of a ’70s New York lesbian separatist bookstore that went viral a few years ago when Otherwild begun selling it on t-shirts that have been worn by St. Vincent and namechecked by Hillary Clinton during her most recent presidential campaign. The show is exuberant and, I’m sure, exhausting: she drums, she sings, she raps. Her team flanks her, carefully choreographed, but this is, undoubtedly, her show.
“I can barely sing but we all have to be brave in our own voice,” she tells me. She speaks in the register of inspirational rap songs, each story with a small moral. In college, she was the classic Lisa Simpson overachiever: majoring in mathematics, political science; a minor in women studies. Shortly after graduating, while working at Interscope, she saw an opportunity to work for one of the label’s most high-profile and controversial artists, M.I.A.. “She was about to put out this record, Mtangi, and I remember thinking, damn that would be an extraordinary project to be a part of.” Confident in her drumming abilities, she sent a video to M.I.A.’s team, explaining how she could augment her live show. The Anglo-Sri Lankan rapper invited her on tour.
Talking to Gandhi, I am impressed by the ceaselessness of her businesslike ethos, the kind of daily rigorousness where every event feels planned for maximum impact, her syntax floating into the majestic plural. “Anytime you want a job, want to date somebody, work with someone: instead of asking what can I take, ask what can I contribute,” she tells me, a Kennedy-esque nugget of wisdom. Her approach to music is similarly business-like; “I have my own show checklist,” she tells me, it begins with making sure she got paid and ends with adding fans to a database. She has given a TEDx Talk on something called “atomic living.” I wondered what her thoughts were on capitalism.
“I don’t support capitalism because it’s exploitative but I do support business which is the exchange of value between two parties.” She is not, she tells me, in favor of burning it all down. I bring up the band that followed her set-time at the festival, the D.C. band Priests, who were among those who crafted their voice out of the narrative of betrayal at the hands of neoliberalism, i.e. “Barack Obama killed something in me/And I’m gonna get him for it,” from “And Breeding.” Kiran Gandhi, on the other hand, begins “The Future is Female” by rapping: “I heard Amy Poehler speak at the White House, her words hit me hard like a light bulb.”
She isn’t angry, she tells me. She tells me that she tends not to listen to aggressive music. She is wary, even, of conscious rap, which she described as definitively unsexy. More Beyoncé than M.I.A., a mythos that extends to her professional dealings. “When you’re on a label, you have to rally people behind you,” she told me, when I brought up M.I.A.’s notorious issues with the music industry. “Of course, the music video gets a fraction of the views that it could have got had the label been working it.”
Currently, Madame Gandhi is unsigned. In an interview with FADER, she bemoaned the industry’s ‘feminization’ of the artist, forcing musicians to be dependent on their labels’ control of the purse strings. “So many music labels come in and exploit communities of color because they understand that so much music is made in such vulnerable parts of the world, in poverty,” she told me.
She brings up the common criticisms leveled against pop singers like Rihanna and, on her last album, Taylor Swift: that they don’t write their own material. “The second that women collaborate with other people, all of our credit is stripped from us. We seem to go to the bottom of the totem pole of who is responsible for the magic.” More saliently, she argues for a reconsideration of song artistry: “Of course they write their songs. To actually take your emotions and thoughts and rally it to a team of people to help them bring it to life is so difficult.”
She believes, earnestly, that the system, as it were, can be reformed, can meaningfully incorporate change from outside. “I grew up inside it, my life is so tied to it,” she tells me. Gandhi is the daughter of an investment banker who once headed Morgan Stanley’s operations in India; he currently sits on the faculty at the Harvard Business School, a place that she admitted to me is “the breeding ground of all the patriarchy and the capitalism that we have.”
The other day, she told me, she was watching home videos of her family playing tennis and observed her younger self demanding to know why “hitting like a girl” was an insult. Later, while at Harvard, she felt disconcerted at how efficient the system was quieting rebellious voices or even expression, at how easy it was for her male peers to take credit for work she had done. She described her decision to leave the business world as a self-selection out, departing an organization that she felt like she could not relate to.
Gandhi’s narrative, in a way, inverts the traditional stories of privilege’s infinite corruptibility. She brought up an endorsement deal that she recently signed, with Adidas. She would wear their outfits but use their platform to talk about issues like menstrual stigma and trans rights. She was endorsing a product but she was calling the shots, putting her name on something millions of people would see. “I think working with brands, as long as it’s symbiotic, it’s wonderful,” she told me, “Any brand that wants to endorse a free-bleeding feminist musician is pretty fucking badass.” We can’t escape the mechanisms of privilege and industry but Gandhi seems to suggest a way to live inside of them, ears open to the voices outside.
At her shows, she reads from The Feminist Utopia Project, a collection of essays that its editor sent her shortly after the image of her at the London Marathon went viral. It appealed to her because “we have all these feminist conversations about what we’re mad about, no one’s writing about what the solution looks like.”
The future is, after all, female. You can buy the shirt here.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood.
Cara Frew just dropped the music video for “Dance,” one of the most fun and infectious songs of the summer. See it here first!
“It’s been a long journey to get to a sound that I finally feel represents me as an artist, but so worthwhile at the end of it all” – Cara Frew
On June 30th, South African born indie electro pop songstress Cara Frew debuted her latest single, “Dance,” (out on Sony Records) and now we have the badass visual to go with it! Colorful, engaging, and uplifting, the video proves just as potent and inspiring as the song itself. Cara has been taking the music industry by storm with her dynamic vocals set atop African infused beats. Her latest feature collaboration with U.S based DJ’s SNBRN & BLU J has garnered over 2 MILLION spins across all platforms, which subsequently lead to her guest appearance at SNBRN’s Coachella Festival Live Set this past April of 2017!
Since making the move out to Los Angeles, Cara has gained first-hand experience working in the studio with top writers and producers, including Lauren Christy and Andre Lindal, the creative duo behind Kelly Clarkson’s Grammy Award-winning Stronger. Listing Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey as some of her favorite artists, it was a dream come true to record a four-track EP with Daniel Heath, responsible for Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” and “Young and Beautiful” and co-write with Stefan Skarbek, who worked closely with the legendary and deeply missed, Amy Winehouse.
Want to learn more? Here is Cara talking about her album!
Back home in South Africa, Cara collaborated with world-renowned DJ and music producer – Black Coffee. “I’ll Find You” was the first release off Black Coffee’s 2015 album. The feature afforded Cara the opportunity to perform at Sonar Music Festival South Africa and Ultra Music Festival South Africa.
Color me impressed and totally ready to dance. Make sure to find Cara online and give her a shout out for the hot new video! Tell her Popdust sent you 😉
“They say the next big thing is here,that the revolution’s near,but to me it seems quite clear that it’s all just a little bit of history repeating”
-Shirley Bassey, History Repeating
The episode picks up with a dazed Tariq, still lying, still angry at his father, and still healing over his Kanan heartbreak. While he can barely look at his father and does’t return his father’s embrace, he runs to uncle Tommy, the one family member he feels he can trust. Tariq is still going to Tariq, but this episode was redeeming. He’s not pretending to be someone he is not, he is just a teenager, questioning, frustrated, and messing up. Next we see Mak, expertly played by Sung Kang, on a quest to remove himself from the rest of the prosecution team, and find Greg Knox’s killer. He is still smug, expertly dressed, and two steps ahead of the rest of his team. It’s easy to see the latter is something that will either help or hinder Mak in the remaining episodes. When Tasha finally sees Tariq, she has ly be referred to as “The Reckoning” with her estranged, self righteous husband. Ghost starts to unload on Tasha after finding out that Tariq was kidnapped previously while he was still on a federally paid for vacation, but Tasha flipped the script, telling Ghost that while he was in jail, she was saving their family.
Speaking of family, everyone’s favorite blood in-territory-out drug dealer turned, well, drug dealer, Julio, died last episode. Tommy immediately questioned Dre, who did an excellent job pretending not to know Kanan was alive or that he had any contact with Tariq. Then he put on an academy performance discovering Julio was dead and wanting to exact revenge on Julio’s killer, aka Dre’s accomplice. Someone must like Dre, God or the Power writers, because he skates through every situation with more charm and composure than the last and even got a promotion as the new distributor. Even when it came to confronting Tariq on why he was keeping his involvement with Kanan a secret, when Dre realizes all Tariq wants is answers he gives them to him, becoming one of the only people that Tariq can trust to tell him the truth. Let’s recap, upcoming drug dealer who also wants to be a business man, using charm and street smarts to get what he wants while forming a friendship with his mentor’s son. Sound familiar? OH. Like Dre whispered over Julio’s cold, dead body, he won.
Rotimi and Joseph Sikora as Dre and Tommy in episode 7 of Power, avenging Julio’s deathPhoto Courtesy of Starz
Also familiar, is Sandoval trying to pin his crimes on whoever they will stick. With Mak investigating every lead to bring Knox’s killer to justice, Sandoval is planting seeds to set up agent Jerry Donovan as the killer. He even goes to kill Donovan, who just so happens to be at Angela’s house discovering that Sandoval most likely is the killer. At this point, Valdez,Donovan, and Sax are assembling the real dream team to take down Sandoval.
A lot of previous predictions came true this episode. First, Teresi is Tommy’s father. Tommy’s conversation reveals two things, his mom purposely kept his father away from him, and his love for redheads is not just some strange Oedipus complex, but inherited from his father. Second, Tasha and Silver start their affair. Silver rubbed all up on Tasha’s fur collar and I knew we were getting our long overdue sex scene. While overdue, their connection still seemed rush. Silver went from only knowing Tasha as the dutiful wife of James St. Patrick, to singing Karaoke with his friends, to popping up at his house. What did come out of this episode, is the reminder that Power’s music director is a genius. Tasha singing Whitney Houston’s ” I have Nothing”, asking for someone to love her for the real her, while pretending to be someone she isn’t is poetic.
Power is doing something interesting this season with women. The most ruthless characters on the show are women. They are focused, fierce, and pretty dark. When you take into account the craziest person the three most ruthless people knew in the world was 5’5 115 pound Jukebox, Angie was willing to give up her job and take everyone down with her and bounced right back as a stronger leader in the name of truth, Tasha is cheating on her husband with every man who makes her feel wanted and we don’t blink an eye, and the newest killer is the Jimenez sister who was heard to be so ruthless that everyone assumed she was a man- the traditional roles of women are being flipped upside down on it’s head.
Another interesting character introduced this episode is Councilman Tate (Larenz Tate). It’s obvious he wants to get to know James, and was rooting for his release, and that Stern is against him and Ghost being friends, but other than that, he remains a mystery. With only three episodes left in the season, and a whole lot of build up and no real movement, predicting the next few episodes is challenging but here goes:
Mak convinces Jerry he knows he’s an accomplice in the Homeland Security Agent’s death
Sandoval attempts to kill Angie but Ghost kills him in the moment instead
Tariq goes looking for Kanan
Tommy and Ghost have a standoff with guns after Tommy kills someone he probably shouldn’t have
Councilman Tate discovers who James St. Patrick really is and has a past of his own
Lakeisha finds out about the affair with Silver and gets so jealous she tells Silver Tasha is a criminal
Brittiany Cierra is an entertainment and travel journalist and On-Air host highlighting where culture, music, film, television, and current events intersect. When she’s not writing about people, places, and things, she’s speaking about, dancing on, or marketing them. Follow the journey on twitter and Instagram.
“Spin me insane with the words you use,” Quinn XCII croons.
In last week’s episode of HBO’s Insecure, Lawrence’s friend, Chad (Neil Brown Jr.) berates his newly single friend for trying to act like John Legend instead of a “pimp.” It’s the old interesting pop music dichotomy: are you a player of relationship man? When 21 Savage’s much-anticipated full-length debut, Issa, hit earlier this year, many were surprised to discover that the dead-eyed Atlanta trap king was another entrant into the latter column. Love songs? This early? gaspedStereogum‘s Tom Breihan. Some people, on the hand, start out with love songs. And by the time their full-length rolls around, they’re already onto Here, My Dear.
Such could be said of Detroit’s Quinn XCII, who first came to our communal attention when he featured on an ayokay track, singing about “why the best things feel so wrong.” Nowadays, he’s more likely to be singing about why the best things are so damn complicated. The first single from his upcoming debut, The Story of Us (Columbia), “Straightjacket,” was mellow banger about discovering that your significant other is an all-American “psycho from a Midwest suburb.” His latest offering, which we’re premiering over here at Popdust, dissects another emotional rollercoaster: the arguing couple.
Check it out:
“Spin me insane with the words you use,” Quinn XCII croons. His moniker may be, per a Fuse interview, an acronym for an incredibly wordy piece of advice (Quit Unless Your Instincts Are Never Neglected, he says he borrowed it from a college instructor), but his sentiments don’t lack for self-awareness. The track’s stripped-down production, beginning with a riff that would not be out of place on a Weezer record, slowly bubbles into a montage of classic R&B sounds, oft-neglected in the turn to make more music that sounds like the Chainsmokers: piano keys on reverb, fuzzy handclaps that feel like objects thrown by a couple in conversational discord. His voice is cross between the current British wave of bearded-eye soul (Alex Clare, James Arthur, Rag’n’Bone Man) and something closer to home: a sense for the small minutes of melody that fellow Midwesterner Chance the Rapper is able to find in his own slow jams.
But as Issa Rae and her prestige TV peers knows, a few fights does not an undesirable relationship make. The chorus brings to mind another TV couple: Jimmy and Gretchen from FX’s You’re the Worst, another couple with a taste for self-destruction that reaches the higher crescendos. “The concept,” Quinn told me about the track, “plays off the idea that opposites attract, and two peoples’ differences may actually be the thing that brings them closest together.” You can feel that in the melody too: it’s harmony-driven chorus is both old fashioned and self-aware. It’s the noise that brings them together.
What are the most famous rappers that have now become successful actors?
It seems to be a phenomena that after rappers have had a bit of success, some choose to go into acting. In some cases they are better actors than musicians. Other actors you would never guess what their previous life was like. Do you know them as actors or emcees? Let’s see who has the best reputation as both. Let the countdown begin!
First known as a rapper who became one of the more prominent voices in hip-hop’s new millennium renaissance, Common later transitioned into acting. He was born in Chicago, and is the son of educator Dr. Mahalia Ann Hines and Lonnie Lynn, an ABA basketball player turned youth counselor. On October 6…[Read More]
André Benjamin was born on May 27, 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia. Best known for being part of one of the most famous Hip Hop duos of all time, OutKast, alongside fellow member Antwan “Big Boi” Patton.Most notable movies were “Four Brothers,” “Idlewild,” “Semi-Pro” “Charlotte’s Web (remake)… [Read More]
L.L. Cool J was born James Todd Smith on January 14, 1968, in Bay Shore, Long Island, New York, the son of Ondrea Griffith and James Louis Smith, Jr. Todd, as he was called, did not have a very happy childhood. At the age of four, he saw his mother and grandfather shot by his own father. After they recovered from their injuries…[Read More]
Often considered hip-hop’s first lady (though some would attribute that to Roxanne Shanté), the woman behind the moniker Queen Latifah was born Dana Owens on March 18th, 1970, in East Orange, New Jersey. She is the daughter of Rita (Bray), a teacher, and Lancelot Owens, Sr. She came from a police family–both her father and older brother were cops, which would later influence her rhyming style and life philosophy. Owens witnessed both sides of Black urban life in the USA while growing up…[Read More]
The legendary gangsta hip-hop emcee Ice-T was born Tracy Marrow on February 16, 1958, in Newark, New Jersey. He moved to Los Angeles, California, to live with his paternal aunt after the death of his father while he was in the sixth grade; his mother had died earlier when he was in the third grade. His aunt lived in the South Los Angeles district of Crenshaw…[Read More]
Ice Cube was born in South Central Los Angeles, to Doris (Benjamin), a custodian and hospital clerk, and Hosea Jackson, a UCLA groundskeeper. He first came to public notice as a singer and songwriter with the controversial and influential band N.W.A. His compositions with that group included many of the classic cuts from their debut LP “Straight Outta Compton” (Ruthless/Priority…[Read More]
Regarded as one of hip-hop’s most introspective and insightful artists, Mos Def has shaped a career that transcends music genres and artistic medium. Taking a cue from the Afrocentric stylings of the Native Tongues crew, which included De La Soul, Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest and Andres Titus…[Read More]
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Following the recent announcement that Trump will work to undo all of the progression Obama made with military inclusiveness by instating a transgender ban on all those wishing to serve in the military, opposing parties are providing support to the transgender community, resisting the discriminatory announcement, and standing by tensely in anticipation for the idea to take form as an amendment. Trump argues that transgender soldiers are a large expense and a distraction in the armed services and should be barred from serving, while meanwhile statistics have risen that show the troops’ Viagra expense far outnumbers the cost of healthcare for a transgender person serving.
In my opinion, this is just another case where Trump is trying to amend a much larger problem with a superficial solution that takes rights away from marginalized groups to provide the masses with a placebo that things are getting better under his watch. There has been mixed reactions from those who serve or have served, but yesterday’s announcement from The US Coast Guard’s commander Paul Zukunft was a major deal. Zukunft said the first thing the US Coast Guard did was reach out to their 13 known transgender members to make them aware that the US Coast Guard stands with them. Lt. Taylor Miller was the US Coast Guard’s first openly transitioning officer and when Zukunft reached out, he said “I will not turn my back. We have made an investment in you and you have made an investment in the Coast Guard and I will not break faith.” Paul Zukunft has made efforts to oppose the ban directly from the core of its origin. Zukunft reached out to new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly who in turn reached out to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to make his opposition known.
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 01: U.S. President Donald Trump waves to the crowd while attending a small businesses event in the East Room at the White House on August 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
The history of the military suggests that it has always been reluctantly inclusive. During the Revolutionary War, black slaves were allowed to enlist in the North; however, it was banned in the South out of slave-owners’ fear of arming their slaves. Although allowed to enlist, most black soldiers were forced into non-militant positions like mechanics, etc. It wasn’t until 1776 after the British had enlisted a large sum of runaway slaves with promise of freedom after the war, that Washington allowed black individuals to enlist in the same force as white citizens due to a shortage in manpower. As far back as the Revolutionary War women served as seamstresses and cooks in the army but were not allowed to enlist in combat positions till the 1970s. That is truly when we saw the shift from inclusiveness by necessity to inclusiveness by recognizing minorities’ rights to serve. The Obama administration made leaps and bounds for the LGBTQIA+ community and the right to serve, but of course there was more to be done. In the first six months of Trump’s administration, he has threatened the progress we’ve bad in the past eight years. This exclusivity within the armed services is very contrary to other countries like Israel where citizens are required to serve.
So what does this mean for the transgender community? Fortunately, there is no officially legislation yet and we are seeing opposition from branches of the armed services itself already; however, as civilians it’s vital that we contact our local representatives and make our feelings on the matter known regardless of stance on the issue so when the decision is made, we hopefully see the reflection of democracy.
Love grows over time in this endearing, animated short film that happen to be matched with an equally powerful pop song. Beth Ditto has recently released the “In and Out” official lyric music video. It takes a unique approach by having animated lyrics with a story that mirrors the sentiment of the track. This single comes off her debut solo album “Fake Sugar” (Virgin Records) which is out now and available everywhere.
The video opens on a small hut in the middle of the woods. It is the morning and the sun is rising. We go inside to find our main character, who looks like a yellow pickle with arms and legs. He is just waking up and having a cup of coffee in the garden. Pickle man does not looks sad; another day in the life. He turns his cup over to spill what’s left in the cup into the dirt.
We travel underground and discover a seed that is sleeping. It is awakened by the coffee that has seeps under the ground. A new friend pops up. It is one the pickle man has cultivated. It looks like a leaf or sprout. Pickle grows the friendship by nursing the seedling with a watering can. During the chorus we see the woodland creatures.
We come back to the little sprout a little larger. looking more like a flower and toddler combined. There is a montage of their adventures in the garden. Even though they were restricted by proximity due to the his friend being rooted down, they had good times. The plant continues to grow, but then a threat exists.
Danger!! Dangerous spiked tentacles grow out from the ground and attack the pickle man. All seems to be hopeless, but somehow the bad guys are thrashed to pieces, but how? The plant has now matured into a woman and saves pickle man from certain doom. It ends with them riding off on a bike and leaving the forrest.
“Fake Sugar…recasts Ditto as a versatile, pop-minded rock star who can still shake the rafters with her voice when the moment calls for it.” – NPR Music
Ditto grew up in a poor family in Arkansas in the southern United States, with her mother, various stepfathers, six siblings (two older brothers, an older sister, two younger brothers and a younger sister). She was raised Southern Baptist and Pentecostal. At age 13, she moved out of her mother’s house and went to live with her aunt. She moved to Olympia, Washington in 1999; then to Portland, Oregon in 2003, where she lives as of 2014. At 18, she discovered bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, The Raincoats and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Her voice has been compared to Etta James, Janis Joplin and Tina Turner. She is often reported to describe herself as a “fat, feminist lesbian from Arkansas”.
She had fronted the band Gossip since their formation in 1999 until their break up in 2016. In addition, she has been involved in other musical projects. In 2008, Ditto contributed vocals to the Crisis charity single “Consequences”, a collaboration between various artists. In 2010, she sang on Simian Mobile Disco‘s track “Cruel Intentions” for their album of collaborations Temporary Pleasure. In 2011, she released her own 4-track Beth Ditto EP, produced by James Ford and Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco, on the re-launched Deconstruction Records.
In addition to releasing six acclaimed albums with the Gossip, Ditto has recorded with such artists as Blondie. She sang on Blondie’s “A Rose by Any Name” from their 2013 album Ghosts of Download. Harrod Horatia, writing in The Telegraph, has said, “Where the stripped-down three-piece Gossip play propulsive, garage band blues, Ditto’s own stuff is melancholic, soulful dance music, inspired by ‘Eighties disco soul jams’ that she loves, and the up-tempo pop-R&B of I Wanna Dance With Somebody-era Whitney Houston. She also worked with disco legend Cerrone, collaborated with Jean Paul Gaultier on her eponymous plus-sized luxury clothing line, modeled for Marc Jacobs and appeared in Tom Ford’s Oscar-nominated film, Nocturnal Animals.
It seems as the popularity of lyric music videos has increased, the production value has as well. The animation for the “In and Out” lyric video is so well done. It has a more sophisticated feel to it and a great concept. Her music has a sad, yet optimistic view on how things life can work out. That happy ending after adversity and dedication to a relationship yields results. Great pop art mixed with a great pop artist.
Ditto is such a talented singer and her stage presence is undeniable. She performed the lead single, “Fire,” on “The Late Late Show With James Corden.” Her performance, which can be seen above, gives fans a hint of what to expect from Ditto’s upcoming live concerts.