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When Miley Cyrus revealed a newfound appreciation for twerking and producer Mike WiLL Made-It in 2013, her moves were shocking only to those unfamiliar with a common practice among Miley’s ilk: white child stars itching to cross over to bona fide adult star.

When they are younger, their squeaky-clean presentation is incredibly profitable, but unfortunately for them, they age out and soon run the risk of becoming something that threatens their respective careers: corny. They have to do something to hold on to their fan bases, who, like them, are growing up and are in search of new voices and sounds more aligned with their newfound older interests. So they clamor for something that will convey “rebellion,” and they run right to black culture.

Much has been written about America’s obsession with what is often referred to as “black cool.” In 2015, Ebony magazine’s then editor in chief, Kierna Mayo, ran a simple yet audacious statement on its cover: “America Loves Black People Culture.” It’s an exhausting dichotomy, but while the public at large loves facets of black culture, black people remain beset with lingering prejudices about who we are. As a black man, I am cool but also dangerous. Black women, meanwhile, are also perceived as cool and are subjected to gross stereotypes purporting hypersexuality.

Yet, when white people engage in traditional black art forms, they reap the benefits without any of the difficulties attached. So Miley and many of her contemporaries are just like Christina Aguilera in cornrows when she needed to venture away from bubblegum pop to remain a pop culture force. The same can be said of Justin Timberlake when he needed to escape the boy-band tag and stand as his own solo adult male star. Miley is merely the latest incarnation of an ongoing American cultural pastime.

Unfortunately for Miley, her recent Billboard cover story exposed what many of us on the sidelines had long suspected: Her aim was to co-opt our culture for personal gain and toss our ways aside when they no longer suited her interests.

While speaking about her new direction, Miley praised Kendrick Lamar’s song “Humble” but noted, “I love that because it’s not ‘Come sit on my d*ck, suck on my c*ck.’ I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much ‘Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my c*ck’ — I am so not that.”

Miley went on to add: “I was torn on whether I was going to work with certain producers that I really like. But I feel if we’re not on the same page ­politically…. My record is political, but the sound bite doesn’t stop there.”

After rightfully being criticized, Miley took to Instagram to try and clarify her comments, explaining, “At this point in my life I am expanding personally/musically and gravitating more towards uplifting, conscious rap!”

However, this did not fix the problem at hand. Miley still went on to feign ignorance as to why she was criticized for how she used black female dancers as props.

Miley said her aim was to create “real change,” which included not just preaching to the choir. In her mind, her new folksy return to country music is her attempt to go back to her good-girl roots.

Even so, there are certain realities we all have to accept. There is something to be said for an artist having the space to try new things. And for many born of a certain age, hip-hop culture has been the defining culture for their entire lives.

Read the rest at Teen Vogue.

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During the confirmation hearings for Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, racist sum’bitch, his Republican colleagues went classic Americana on us as they quite theatrically conveyed their collective belief that the real burden of racism isn’t racism itself, but merely being accused of racism.

There was Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who told committee members during opening remarks, “I have never witnessed anything to suggest that Senator Sessions is anything other than a dedicated public servant and a decent man.” According to Collins, Sessions “is not motivated by racial animus.”

Then came Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who asked Sessions, “Would you agree that being called a racist is the worst thing that can ever happen to someone?” Sessions emphatically replied, “Why, yes, sir, I would.”

These two said this even though Coretta Scott King once wrote, 30 years prior, that Sessions would “irreparably damage the work of my husband” when he was nominated for a federal judgeship. Everything about Sessions screams Dennis the Menace if Dennis the Menace grew up to be a racist with power. Still, these politicians argued that he was just a nice ole Southern fella, and it’s so doggone sad that folks want to brand that Confederacy-loving, egg-headed fuck exactly what the hell he is.

Joining them in the lie were two high-profile black Republicans—former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)—both of whom pathetically lent their endorsement to Sessions for attorney general. Rice has long been an apologist for terrible white men associated with the Republican Party. Just last week, she was excusing Minute Maid Mao’s madness. As for Scott, who spent 30 minutes on the Senate floor advocating for Sessions, well, if self-loathsomeness is contagious, may he forever keep the fuck away from ’round me.

Sessions has been off to a rousing start since being confirmed as attorney general. He may very well have perjured himself in those very confirmation hearings during an exchange with Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). And while he was supposed to have recused himself from Mother Russia and the investigation into possible collusion between its government and Saddle Tan Nixon’s presidential campaign, uh, ask fired FBI Director James Comey about how that’s gone.

Yet, between being a known racist, a liar and, potentially, someone who helped a sitting president obstruct justice, Sessions remains attorney general. It’s as if nothing matters anymore. That is, almost nothing.

Late last week, Sessions issued a new directive (pdf) for federal prosecutors nationwide: “that prosecutors should charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.”

It came along with several other departures from directives issued during the Obama era at the Justice Department. In a news conference, Sessions said: “Charging and sentencing recommendations are bedrock responsibilities of any prosecutor, and I trust our prosecutors in the field to make good judgments. They deserve to be unhandcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington.”

Sessions also argued, “The most serious offenses are those that carry the most substantial guidelines sentence, including mandatory minimum sentences.” Sessions even called the move “simply the right and moral thing to do.” Who better to judge us on right and wrong than the suited redneck who perjures himself and helps another con man try to get out of a federal investigation?

In response, former Attorney General Eric Holder released a statement, claiming: “The policy announced today is not tough on crime. It is dumb on crime. It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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Like many reading this, I didn’t know what the hell a Lil Yachty was until a younger person explained it to me. Then I listened to him and immediately went back to playing classic artists like Future and Rihanna. “No Child Left Behind” rap isn’t always my thing. However, if there is one thing I know as a Southerner who loves Southern rap and is familiar with the coastal snobs who trashed what I cherish most, it’s to not repeat their mistakes.

Unfortunately, not everyone is as accommodating.

On Wednesday the Atlanta native made an appearance on Complex’s Everyday Struggle web series, hosted by Joe Budden. For the entire interview, Budden picked Yachty apart.

While addressing the artwork of Yachty’s new album, Budden said:

I don’t think that Yachty is hip-hop. I don’t think that Yachty’s label is hip-hop. When you’re not hip-hop and you’re trying to just troll or exploit, you get things like this.

I’ve read other critiques of the Teenage Emotions album cover. Complaints about two gay white men kissing, as opposed to two black men, are understandable, but cries of cultural appropriation, not so much. Two men kissing isn’t culture, and if the aim is to be inclusive, as many claim, that’s inclusivity (with white folks, oddly enough, but still).

Budden’s main gripe is that it isn’t real, but there are plenty o’ rappers who have been fake as fuck for decades now. Their lies were far more harmful than what Yachty just presented to the world. What was really interesting to watch, though, was Mr. “Pump It Up” losing his shit over Yachty’s claim, “I am happy every day because life is moving in such a positive way, I can’t get slowed down.”

Yachty is a famous rapper with minimal skill living the dream. He has no reason to appear as bitter as the likes of Joe Budden, who shape-shifts back and forth between being the Hannibal Lecter of hip-hop and the Statler and Waldorf of rap: two for the price of one.

The latter won this time, with Budden challenging him:

Let me tell you how humans are. Feelings are fickle. What that means is they come and they go. Nobody is one thing forever. You cannot tell me … you would be lying to tell me that, as a young man in this industry—in this industry, in the music business—you are happy 24-7! That is a lie!! That is bullshit and I refuse to have someone tell me bullshit! I want to have an honest conversation.

Is Lil Yachty the best catalyst for a chat on the limitations of striving to always maintain a positive attitude? Did Joe Budden forget this is a 19-year-old? All of the superficial reasons Yachty cited to validate his happiness gave me “typical teenager barely into adulthood.”

On why he’s so happy:

When you come from a college-dorm room with no money, you scamming credit cards and you aint’ gettin’ no play from no girls, you have no clothes, you have no car … and you come to having three [or] four cars, you have millions of dollars, a half-million dollars on your body just to wear and any kind of clothes you want, any hos you want, how could you be upset?

Again, Yachty sometimes raps like his tongue is taking a nap, but he’s poppin’ right now all the same. He has no reason to act like he’s in a monogamous relationship with misery. But I suppose when you’re in a rush to transfer your cynicism, you let reason go for the sake of your personal cause.

To wit, Budden claimed that Yachty must have had media training to craft these responses, but Yachty shot back, proving how nice it is to walk around not being a contemptuous asshole. Budden also poked at his business dealings with the record label (Yachty has since clarified whether he has a 360 deal via Twitter). Budden tried to refute any potential criticism that he was being an angry old head, claiming, “I was you last decade. I was dissing Wu-Tang.” Budden is referring to the time Yachty told Billboard magazine that he could not name five songs by 2Pac and the Notorious B.I.G., only to later deem Biggie “overrated.”

Maybe, but Budden didn’t want to help Yachty; he wanted to embarrass him, because that’s what Joe Budden does. See his stint on Love & Hip Hop: New York. Also see his Twitter timeline.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Why in the hell are Democrats still accepting lectures from Bernie Sanders? Although the Vermont senator deserves credit for certain accomplishments—pulling younger people into the political process and pushing the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction—it’s not as if the man had that great a shot at becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. Not when he was 3.7 million votes and hundreds of pledged delegates behind Hillary Clinton.

For all the fairy tales about the system being rigged and the “Mighty Morphin Power” Democratic National Committee going against the will of the people, the reality is that more people wanted Clinton as their candidate.

Last year, FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten and Nate Silver wrote this:

As Sanders fans claim that the Democratic primary system is rigged against their candidate and that Sanders wins when turnout is higher, they fail to point out that Sanders has benefited tremendously from low-turnout caucuses. Indeed, if all the caucuses were primaries, Clinton would be winning the Democratic nomination by an even wider margin than she is now.

Somehow, though, Sanders’ failures as a candidate have convinced far too many people that he can solve all the party’s problems. Sanders may presently be the most popular active politician in America, but that doesn’t mean he has the answers to fix the Democratic Party. And what’s most hilarious about this is that he’s not even a Democrat.

Sanders said so himself Tuesday night during an interview on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes. Sanders is currently on a unity tour with the new DNC chairman, Tom Perez, but when asked about party affiliation, he said, “No, I’m an independent.”

To quote Joseline Hernandez, “Ho, why is you here?”

“If the Democratic Party is going to succeed—and I want to see it succeed—it’s gonna have to open its door to independents,” Sanders continued. “There are probably more independents in this country than Democrats or Republicans. It’s got to open its doors to working people and to young people, create a grassroots party. That’s what we need.”

To his credit, Democrat and Republican Party identification is at an all-time low. Moreover, Democrats do suck at mobilizing on the local level. However, many may call themselves independent, but they do have a specific ideology and, in many cases, obvious prejudices. The problem with the latter is that Sanders refuses to acknowledge just how prominent those prejudices are.

At one of those unity events in Kentucky, Sanders said this about the state of health care in the state: “I suspect that the Democratic Party here in Kentucky has not done the kind of job that it should have done. It’s an investment. If people are getting health care, it’s an investment.”

More than 500,000 Kentuckians gained access to health insurance thanks to Obamacare, only Kentucky Democrats long avoided fully embracing it because of former President Barack Obama’s unpopularity in the state. In 2012 Obama barely won 38 percent of the vote, down from 41 percent in 2008. In the 2012 Democratic primary, “uncommitted” netted 42 percent of the vote against an unchallenged Obama. Last fall, a GOP House candidate in the state posted racist images of Obama on Facebook—and then he, a preacher, not only refused to apologize but denied that the images were racist.

This is the part where some—hi, white readers—will insert that not all white people are racist and note that there could be other variables behind Obama’s popularity in states like Kentucky and West Virginia. Sure, but how many reports have we read since the last presidential election in which Tropicana Jong-il supporters are boastful about voting against their self-interest as they profess to continue to support the con they voted for? And why is that? Let me ask my black-ass friend, my trans sis or this dude I know who prays five times a day. If none of them answers, I can text this Puerto Rican bae I know.

If Sanders is to assess why Kentuckians would literally vote against their own well-being, he needs to not simply fault Democrats for not doing a good-enough job talking to the electorate. But no, as he’s shown again and again, he will continue to deny the roles that racism, sexism and xenophobia played in the election.

Last month Sanders said at a Boston rally with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.):

Some people think that the people who voted for Trump are racists and sexists and homophobes and deplorable folks. I don’t agree, because I’ve been there. Let me tell you something else some of you might not agree with, it wasn’t that Donald Trump won the election; it was that the Democratic Party lost the election.

Let me tell you, as far as American elections go, history tells you that white people are gonna white. Yeah, yeah; not all white people are Sarah Palin or Susan Sarandon. I’m not Ben Carson. I got y’all. Still.

Then he tweets out nonsense like this:

Faux Yoda still thinks “Make America great again” was about the rent and the coal rather than the racism and the sexism and the xenophobia. Yes, there are millions of people getting involved, but many of them are the people facing deportation, increased police harassment and hefty amounts of overt discrimination. The party should be catering to them, considering that if more of those darker folks had voted, we would have a President Clinton and Bernie would be saying we should primary-challenge her in 2020 (as he suggested with Obama in 2012). Sanders says a lot about reaching out to 45 voters, but what about voter disenfranchisement?

Meanwhile, at this same Kentucky event, Sanders was asked about Georgia congressional candidate Jon Ossoff and whether or not he was a progressive.

“I don’t know,” Sanders answered. “If you run as a Democrat, you’re a Democrat.” He added, “Some Democrats are progressive, and some Democrats are not.”

The statement isn’t that bad, but you know, a quick Google search could’ve done wonders. Moreover, considering that Democrats are really trying to get that seat (bless their hearts with this runoff), this still reads as pouring cold water on what’s been a motivating story to folks in the party. But that’s what happens when you let a person who isn’t an actual Democrat speak about Democrats. The same can be said for placing so much faith in a person who can say that about Osoff yet endorse an anti-abortion Democratic candidate in Nebraska.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Ding, dong, the grand wizard is gone.

Sadly, the baby grand wizard is already on deck.

After much speculation over Bill O’Reilly’s fate at Fox News in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual harassment leveled against him sparking an advertiser mass exodus, the network announced Wednesday that The O’Reilly Factor would be canceled. In its announcement, Fox said, “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”

O’Reilly released his own statement, though if one were expecting acts of contrition from the conservative media juggernaut, they know little about Bill O’Reilly.

The statement reads:

Over the past 20 years at Fox News, I have been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history. … It is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims. But that is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today. I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers. I wish only the best for Fox News Channel.

O’Reilly’s attorney, Marc E. Kasowitz, saw that sass and told his client to hold his bag while he upped the antagonistic ante:

Bill O’Reilly has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America. This law firm has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly for political and financial reasons. That evidence will be put forth shortly and it is irrefutable.

The “irrefutable” evidence Kasowitz speaks of will likely arrive around the same time President Tropicana Jong-il releases his tax returns, Rachel Dolezal gets honored by Khia at the Soul Train Awards, and Jesus swag-surfs back to earth solely to get Suge Knight out of jail.

For the women who said they were wrongly harassed by this man in the workplace and who deserved better than the payouts used to silence them in order for Fox to protect its predatory investment, this is a deserving victory. More will be inspired to share their stories of sexual harassment, thanks to these women who decided to speak up. Meanwhile, there’s a delicious irony in discovering that a man who routinely lectured to black people about their moral failures is alleged to be a serial sexual harasser—one who likes coining nicknames like “hot chocolate” for his black victims, at that.

To wit, in 2002, O’Reilly successfully led efforts to get Pepsi to drop an ad featuring Ludacris. Now, 15 years later, O’Reilly is being booted from his No. 1 show while Ludacris is starring in the No. 1 movie in the country. Yes, this is the perfect time to start rapping along to “Move Bitch.”

Unfortunately, O’Reilly’s firing still feels a bit bittersweet. For one, his now former employer has long known about his accused habits. Fox News had been settling cases for years, so they didn’t ax him because he was a predator so much as because he became a liability. O’Reilly’s ratings were on the rise as the scandal grew; they dropped when he went on vacation, and there is already talk that Fox News’ ratings could drop as much as 25 percent without O’Reilly. If the advertisers hadn’t fled, O’Reilly would still be on the air—to more viewers.

O’Reilly has been the greatest star of the conservative-media complex that orbits largely around Fox News. That industry is built majorly around playing to the prejudices of its audience—notably with respect to racism. O’Reilly has been casually misogynistic for decades, but he often spewed his harshest rhetoric toward black people.

O’Reilly has been spewing racist rhetoric in defense of the “white establishment” for decades. O’Reilly has condemned black women, men and children in the harshest of ways, but none of that had ever been a problem. And sadly, his replacement will be bringing similar issues with him to the same hour.

Like O’Reilly, Tucker Carlson is racist and likes to play to the racist fears of his conservative viewership. Like O’Reilly, Carlson loves to belittle women. One great example of this came during an on-air appearance that Carlson did with Teen Vogue writer Lauren Duca. Or the time he described Hillary Clinton’s face as “castrating.” Or the time he argued that 15-year-boys dream of being sexually harassed by their female teachers. Or that time he claimed women were too “sensible” to get involved in politics. Or, better yet, the time he claimed that sexual harassment happens only in private.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Like many fans, I remember exactly where I was when I found out Prince had died. I was near the end of a lunch meeting when my phone started moving as if it were possessed by a Bedroom Kandi product. The same thing happened to the person I was meeting with. Given how both our lives can be quickly seized by the news cycle, we just assumed that Beyoncé’s new album had finally been released, only to discover that one of music’s greatest contributors had suddenly passed.

To anyone who works in media, the requests for writers to opine on his life, his music and what each meant that immediately poured in will read as unsurprising. I did write about Prince, but even with that assignment and the others I later turned down, I was adamant about one thing: I would not be diving into certain aspects of Prince’s life, like his reported views on gay marriage.

As a fan, I simply wanted to mourn the impact his music and image had had on me rather than contemplate his politics—the latter of which require a dose of BC powder if you are of a much-more-progressive mind. Nevertheless, the curiosity about the shift is understandable.

In her now infamous 2008 New Yorker piece, “Soup With Prince,” Claire Hoffman recalled the following conversation she had with the musician about interpretations of dogma, writing:

Recently, Prince hosted an executive who works for Philip Anschutz, the Christian businessman whose company owns the Staples Center. “We started talking red and blue,” Prince said. “People with money—money like that—are not affected by the stock market, and they’re not freaking out over anything. They’re just watching. So here’s how it is: You’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this.” He pointed to a Bible. “But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.”

When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was like, ‘Enough.’”

An “insider” from Prince’s camp reached out to Perez Hilton (no, I don’t get why either) and claimed that the singer was “very angry” about the depiction, going on to explain:

What His Purpleness actually did was gesture to the Bible and said he follows what it teaches, referring mainly to the parts about loving everyone and refraining from judgment. We’re very angry he was misquoted.

This indirect rebuttal didn’t matter. By then, everyone had long known that Prince had returned to the religion he was raised in and, as a result, became staunchly more conservative. And so, when I was approached, most assumed that I, the gay man and heathen, must have felt something. Eh.

Others certainly did, though, and were sure to address the subject in articles with headlines like “Prince’s Alleged Anti-Gay Stance Is Baffling, for Good Reason” and “Raunchy Prince Was Actually a Conservative Christian Who Reportedly Opposed Gay Marriage.” There were others, such as “Loving Prince, Regardless of His Take on Marriage,” which is where I aligned then and now.

In 2009, Prince spoke with Tavis Smiley and cited his religion to explain why he didn’t vote for Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president:

The reason why is that I’m one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And we’ve never voted. That’s not to say I don’t think … President Obama is a very smart individual, and he seems like he means well. Prophecy is what we all have to go by now.

In 2001, when asked about his faith—notably this idea that he converted—Prince said, “I don’t see it really as a conversion. More, you know, it’s a realization. It’s like Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix.”

As a recovering Catholic, I’m well aware that it’s often easier said than done to break away from the beliefs you are conditioned to accept as ultimate truth. Religion often serves as a refuge—especially if it’s a faith you’re already quite familiar with. Perhaps for Prince, returning to his religion brought him at least some nominal-level greater sense of peace.

Read the rest at The Root.

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40 Oz. to Freedom. @fortyouncewines #genius #sublime #yeswayrosé

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When it comes to trolling “the blacks,” white folks collectively employ a “can’t stop, won’t stop” approach. Enter, the latest way to pour salt on our wounds and mock us: 40-ounce rosé. I know what you’re thinking if you’re a Negro: Since when is a 40 the move in the mainstream?

After all, the idea of the lazy, shifty, government-mooching black sitting at home consuming large amounts of fried chicken, watermelon and malt liquor is one of American racism’s greatest hits. Just last year, there was a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group pledge to depress the black vote in Philadelphia by handing out weed and 40s. Likewise, in recent years, racist GOP-affiliated groups, along with their friends in conservative media, both invoked the 40 to portray President Barack Obama as not so much the most powerful man on the planet but more like the typical nigger of their white supremacist wet dreams.

I’m sure others can recall news articles of yore like the New York Times piece “For Minority Youths, 40 Ounces of Trouble.” In 1993, Michel Marriott wrote:

Malt liquor—essentially beer brewed with sugar for an extra alcoholic kick—has long been popular with black and Hispanic drinkers. But in the outsize 40-ounce bottle, introduced in the late 1980’s with aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at minority drinkers, it is fast becoming the intoxicant of choice for black and Hispanic youths in New York and other American cities.

Some teenagers call malt liquor “liquid crack” in tribute to its potency. And to the dismay of drug counselors, social workers and ministers who see malt liquor as a dangerous drug in sheep’s clothing, the 40-ounce bottles with brand names like King Cobra, Crazy Horse, Colt 45 and St. Ides have become an accessory to the youth-culture ensemble of baggy clothes, expensive work boots and street-hardened attitudes.

Now, compare that to Forty Ounce Rosé. Per the company’s website, it makes “organically farmed, spectacular tasting, large format wines.” So, it’s an old stereotype served organically to the delight of white people who probably say shit like “That’s so ghetto” to the annoyance of anyone who knows damn well they don’t know a damn thing about the damn ghetto.

Naturally, the praise rolled right on in.

From Mashable:

While most wine snobs would prefer to guzzle their booze from a glass, there are plenty of wine drinkers that are perfectly OK swigging right from the bottle, or from a juice box. Or, from a 40-ounce bottle. Thankfully, you can do just that—with rosé.

From Refinery 29:

No matter which 40-ounce bottle of wine you chose, this genius new way to drink is sure to make your summer a lot more exciting.

From Marie Claire:

While a 40-ounce bottle—typically relegated to cheap beer and malt liquor—of rosé might seem like a funny gimmick to bring to a BBQ this summer, they’re actually very practical. Hear me out.

You’re probably used to dropping around $15 to $20 for a traditional bottle of rosé, right? Those bottles only hold 750 mL or about 25 ounces of wine. Since a forty holds nearly twice that amount, they end up being quite a deal—especially since we found one store in New York selling them for just $16.

From Thrillest:

Summer is just around the corner, which more importantly means we’re on the cusp of rosé season. And this year’s is on track to be a doozy, thanks to some intrepid winemakers who’ve made the brilliant decision to package their pink nectar of the park picnic and pool party gods in a forty.

Eat your heart out, Colt 45.

“Eat your heart out, Colt 45”? Insert a Maxine Waters look of disgust here. Add a “fuck off.” Repeat.

If you’re wondering, none of the people quoted here have an uncle who looks like Billy Dee Williams or have ever had to contend with the stereotypes affiliated with the drinks. The same goes for the 40-ounce marketing that targeted you and all those who look like you in years past ’round your hood.

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There are times in life when one must check a bitch. In the age of social media, when people from all walks of life share can anonymously say something slick to a stranger, those times have become far more common—especially if you’re a celebrity. It happens so often that the Shade Room has an ongoing series on its Instagram account highlighting celebrity-themed clapbacks. I tend to laugh like hell at them. People can be so vile and those types deserve to reap what they sow, be it a Rihanna-style dragging or a Tina Lawson, classic Black mama dressing down.

Still, there’s something that needs to be said to those celebrities who actively look for trouble: find something better to do with your time.

That life hack would certainly benefit French Montana, who last week lashed out at a Twitter user by calling her a “musty crusty dusty rusty ass hoe” before inviting the user to “take your cum drinking Dick banging ass somewhere n be humble.” Let’s dissect exactly how much French Montana fucked up here. For one, as someone who does not identify as Black, where does he get off using “nappy” as a pejorative? French has since shared that he didn’t know “‘nappy’ was a “racist word”—but he also thinks “everybody should say ‘nigga.’” In other words, he surrounds himself with Black people who refuse to tell him that being the Ashanti of hip-hop does not, in fact, make him Black.

Beyond his inflammatory public display of idiocy, though, is the overall problem: the person he attacked did not directly address him. She did not include his Twitter handle, which means French went out of his way by searching his own name. Many celebrities do this and then lash out at anyone criticizing them. This has happened so many times, and in every single instance I hear Joseline Hernandez asking, “Ho, why is you here?”

I think people enjoy the Shade Room’s clapback series (and similar segments) because it’s famous folks replying to rude-ass people who jump into their Instagram comments to say dumb shit. In those cases, the clapback often comes across as warranted. Famous people are still people, so they have every right to directly respond to people directly entering their space to be disrespectful (or just flat-out wrong).

However, in the case of French Montana and other name-searching-on-social media stars, there’s a stench of the pathetic. The reality is, anyone who maintains any form of notoriety will be subject to criticism. The inconvenient truth is that it is largely unavoidable unless you avoid social media altogether. So, if you are aware that people will criticize you and may even insult you, why chase that sort of attention? Why give people who don’t like you that much attention—especially if they didn’t even aim their contempt at you directly?

French Montana could have easily spent his Twitter time engaging with his fans. You know, the people who spend their time trying to reach him. Instead, he made himself look like a jackass. He dragged himself in ways the person he was responding to never could have.

Read the rest at Complex.

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By now, you would think brands would know not to tackle issues that they don’t fully understand or want to tangle with—particularly when they involve race and politics. And that, if they did delve into the political realm, they would do so with the knowledge and the involvement of an inclusive staff who could provide diversity of thought. Yet, this week, two major, well-known companies created their own PR nightmares, failing to realize that white isn’t always right—much less the lone standard for all.

This week, we questioned just who believed that a resistance-themed ad in which Kendall Jenner hands a cop a Pepsi to the joy of cheering protesters was a good idea. Whoever those poor, unfortunate souls are, they’re probably now licking their wounds in response to the rightful condemnation over a commercial that never should have been made, let alone released.

In a statement, Pepsi said the intent of the ad was to “project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.” Noting that the company “clearly…missed the mark” and had no intention to “make light of any serious issue,” representatives did apologize. But only one person got a more personalized mea culpa. “We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position,” the statement concluded.

Therein lies the problem: Even in the ad’s aftermath, so much attention is being placed on the thin, famous, rich white woman rather than the Black women behind some of the very movements Pepsi’s ad trivialized—and whose lives are affected by the serious problems that a Pepsi commercial probably won’t actually fix. The only Black woman prominently featured in the ad, which has now been taken down, is the one Jenner hands her blond wig to. But it’s these women, not Kendall Jenner, who deserve an apology from the brand.

“In defense” explanations are trickling through: Jenner is “devastated” over the responses to the ad; she had no creative involvement in the ad; the ad itself was not a reimagining of the now famous image of Ieshia Evans, a Black woman protesting police brutality in Baton Rouge, but of the ’60s “flower power” movement.

The narratives of Jenner’s victimization further contribute to the underlying problems behind the commercial. She is not necessarily a villain for not understanding the message she helped to convey in what for her was essentially a gig, albeit likely an extremely well-paid one. Still, anyone involved with this ad must deal with the consequences of their actions and truly grasp why people were so bothered by what they had seen. She’s received an apology; now she owes one, too.

Pepsi made the classic mistake of trying to be apolitical in a commercial that invoked the politically charged climate. By now, brands should know that’s close to unachievable. Without the required nuance, Pepsi instead centered whiteness in an ad that co-opted the efforts of movements trying to fight and dismantle white supremacy.

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s unlikely any racial minorities—more specifically, Black folks—were involved in the conception of this ad. What’s most clear is that while Pepsi had no problem co-opting political struggle, they had no concern about those actually struggling until social media provided the focus group they should have hired in the first go-round.

Read the rest at ELLE.

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The commercial and critical success of Frank Ocean is not just a testament to his talent but to how music fans and the industry at large have become more progressive in their thinking. Hooray to all parties involved. But as a firm believer in the Black Proverb, “It ain’t that deep,” I increasingly question whether criticism surrounding his work reflects a sincere impact of it or an overcompensation for the lack of artists like Ocean in the mainstream. This is not an insult to Ocean, whose talent is undeniable and whose symbolism is not easily swept under the rug. But it is worth asking: do his songs — especially those that directly engage his sexual identity, which has yet to come into full view — warrant such ample amounts of praise and, in the most extreme cases, deification?

Consider “Chanel,” the magnetic libation Ocean released in mid-March during his Beats 1 Radio show. Almost instantly, the Jarami-produced track was hailed as a “bisexual anthem” and christened “the most important song in the world right now.” Both sentiments were rooted in how Ocean begins the song, crooning over a canopy of piano keys: “My guy pretty like a girl and he got fight stories to tell.” This was not the first or the only time that Ocean has publicly addressed his sexuality. In July 2012, he shared on Tumblr that his first love was someone of the same gender.

Although Ocean has acknowledged same-sex attraction, he’s never taken on the labels gay, bisexual, or queer — if anything, he has purposely refuted them. Artists like Young M.A, Le1f, Syd the Kyd and iLoveMakonnen have been more forthright about how they identify, and in some cases, have been more detailed about it in their work. Yet, none of them seem to command the sort of critical and commercial acclaim Ocean does, and subsequently, not anywhere close to the praise.

So what was it about the opening of “Chanel” that made the song feel so vital?

Writing at The Undefeated, Austin Williams argued how “the boastful first few bars of Ocean’s new song might be the coldest, gayest, and most securely masculine flex in the history of rap.” There are LGBTQ rappers who would likely disagree with that assessment. Williams went on to declare that “the song’s lyrics read as a deliberate ode to duality and non-heteronormative binaries — an ambition, that since the death of Prince Rogers Nelson, is sorely missed in black music.”

Duality, sure, but Prince was someone who openly sang about the public questioning his sexuality as a result of how he presented himself aesthetically. Ocean does wear makeup in the video for “Nikes,” but what does singing about a pretty boy who can fight have to do with Prince? If we’re going by Prince and the androgyny metric, one could just as easily look back to Cee-Lo and André 3000 at their peak, or contemporary artists like Young Thug. You could also scroll through August Alsina’s Instagram where he sometimes draws style inspiration from the Street Fighter character Chun-Li and veteran pro-wrestler Koko B. Ware.

This mode of exaggerated praise was also bestowed upon the release of Ocean’s last album, 2016’s Blond. Headlines boasted of its “radical queerness,” argued that it “redefines pop queerness,” hailed it as a “queer masterpiece,” and praised the album for how it “asks us to see queerness as the new normal.” But these were all statements from white writers embellishing black sexuality. If the job of a critic is to find greater meaning and purpose in art, their job should also be one of clear sight and equanimity. Ascribing such specific and pointed labels and meaning into the work of an artist who purposely submerges himself in ambiguity only achieves the opposite.

Read the rest at The Fader.

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