NEWS ROUNDUP: RIP X?, Pride @ Ladyland & More…

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LadyFag photographed by Peter Tamlin.

By Jasmine Williams

In Memoriam?

Florida rapper, XXXTentacion, was killed on Monday in his home state when a drive by shooter open fired on him outside of a motorcycle dealer. Born Jahseh Onfroy, the twenty-year-old music rose to hip-hop prominence, thanks in part to his popularity on streaming platforms..

His death leaves a wake of divided opinions and online debates. Facing accusations of repeatedly assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, XXX was one of the only musicians to be removed from Spotify’s playlists and other promotional content as a result of their recently rolled out and since repealed, “Hateful Content and Conduct” policy.

Immediately following his death news outlets such as Rollingstone began publishing articles that seemed to package XXX’s violent actions as just a controversial facet of a complicated personality while referring to his short-lived career as a “legacy.”  Similarly, tributes poured in from music heavyweights such as Kanye West, Questlove, J. Cole, and Diplo. Understandably, their praise was matched by the dissent of those disappointed that such public figures would choose to honor someone with a storied history of violence against women.

XXX’s recent streaming numbers are indicative of the music industry’s complicated relationship with the #MeToo movement and pop culture’s fascination with celebrity deaths. Since the beginning of the week his single, “SAD!” broke Taylor Swift’s global single-day steaming record on Spotify with 10.4 million plays.

Celebrate Pride at Ladyland!

In much, much, happier news – New York City celebrates Pride this weekend! Kicking off the festivities is legendary party host, LadyFag. She’s throwing her first music festival, LadyLand at Brooklyn Mirage on Friday. The massive celebration of queerness features a killer lineup including Eve, SOPHIE, Cupcakke, and more.

For more Pride events, check out Brooklyn Vegan’s rundown.

That New New

This week musicians delivered on tunes worthy of the rainbow celebrations, starting with St. Vincent who transformed Brooklyn bar, St. Vitus, into a club full of gyrating leather daddies for her video, “Slow Fast Disco.”

Leon Bridges joined Dej Loaf for a celebration of self expression and happiness in Dej’s new single and clip, “Liberated.” The rapper started the love fest last weekend by paying for marriage license for gay couples. This week she also debuted the mini documentary, “Stories of Liberated People.”

Nile Rodgers & Chic picked perfect timing to release the debut single off of their upcoming album, It’s About Time.Till the World Falls” features a bevy of collaborators including Mura Masa, NAO, and Anderson .Paak.

We don’t need to tell you this but Beyoncé and Jay-Z also celebrated love this week. They dropped the album, Everything Is Love, under the moniker, The Carters.

End Notes

After playing the same setlist almost 150 times at his NYC residency, Bruce Springsteen deviated from his usual routine to voice his dismay about the Trump administration’s separation of migrant families crossing into the United States. He also expressed hope that the good would prevail and played the song “The Ghost of Tom Joad.”

Trent Reznor also talked politics this week, telling the New York Times that “It feels like a country that celebrates stupidity is really taking it up a notch.”


NEWS ROUNDUP: Hateful Policy Haters, R. Kelly Lawsuit & More

Hateful Policy Haters, Lawsuits & More

By Jasmine Williams

Spotify Walks Back

Spotify’s new ‘Hateful Content and Conduct’ Policy has a whole lot of haters. Following outcry from a number of industry heavyweights and rumors of internal conflict, Spotify has backtracked on the rule which stated that Spotify could choose to remove or refrain from promoting artist whose music promotes hate or engages in behavior that is “especially harmful or hateful.” So far, the policy’s implementation only saw the removal of R. Kelly and XXXTentacion from promotional playlists, although their content was still searchable.

Public critics of the policy, including Kendrick Lamar and Top Dawg Entertainment, accused the streaming giant of censorship, vagueness, and discrimination. R. Kelly has been accused of various forms of sexual abuse while XXXTentacion was charged with battering a pregnant woman, but neither have been convicted. In response to Spotify’s action, XXXTentacion’s manager tweeted a list of other artist who have been accused of deplorable conduct.

The controversy over the rule illustrates the music industry’s increasingly complicated relationship with the #MeToo movement. While XXXTentacion’s streaming numbers immediately decreased following Spotify’s policy, the opposite effect was had on R. Kelly who saw a rise in plays on the streaming service. Spotify has announced that they will restore XXXTentacion’s presence on promotional content but they have no plans to reinstate Kelly.

R. Kelly Gets Sued (Again)

In very related news, in New York on Monday, R.Kelly was sued by a woman for sexual battery, false imprisonment, and failure to disclose an STD. Faith A. Rodgers began a relationship after meeting the R&B hitmaker in March of 2017, when she was 19 and he was 51. In the following year, Rodgers alleges that Kelly abused her “mentally, sexually, and verbally,” and held her against her well in various places without access to food, water, or a bathroom. Her lawyer, Faith C. Hills, calls the lawsuit a standard example of R. Kelly’s alleged predatory behavior, stating, “For over 20 years, women across America have been victimized by R. Kelly, and have filed eerily similar claims.”

That New New

Pusha T dropped Daytona, his third studio album. Right before the release, he spoke with NPR’s Sidney Madden about Kanye West, rap beefs, and #MeToo. Pusha fans have waited three years for a LP from the Clipse member but it’s not just the tracks that have people talking. The album artwork has sparked a controversy. Kanye provided the creative direction for Daytona and made the last minute decision to spend $85,000 to license a photo of the late Whitney Houston’s bathroom for the cover (seen below). Houston’s family is now demanding a public apology.

Asap Rocky also released his third studio LP, Testing. Preceding the release, the rapper/style icon premiered an art performance in which he went through a series of physical challenges in front of an audience at Sotheby’s.

Maggie Rogers returned from a musical hiatus with her new Rostam-produced track, “Fallingwater.”

Viral sensation Clairo and Stones Throw signee Sudan Archives dropped respective EPs this week. Friday brought the debut album from Thunderpussy, who will celebrate by playing Sasquatch! Fest this weekend; a new Chvrches album, Love Is Dead; and two long-awaited returns: Katy Davidson released her first Dear Nora album in twelve years and George Clinton’s Parliament came out with Medical Fraud Dogg, the band’s first LP in almost forty years!

Two very long-awaited returns occurred yesterday. Katy Davidson released her first Dear Nora album in twelve years and George Clinton’s Parliament came out with Medical Fraud Dogg, the band’s first LP in almost forty years!


End Notes