“That’s What Friends Are For” is a song written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, and originally recorded by Rod Stewart for the Night Shift soundtrack, which was released in 1982. That version of the song was never released as a single, so unless you’re Rod Stewart stan, there’s a huge probability you weren’t aware of its existence.

Dionne Warwick, Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder released a cover of “That’s What Friends Are For” in October 1985, just three years after the original. It was recorded to raise money for the American Foundation for AIDS Research, and helped raise $3 million. The song was a huge hit, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks and becoming the biggest single of 1986. It would also win two Grammys, including Song of the Year, which lets you know that the Recording Academy enforces its “no covers” rule for that award when it feels like it. But I digress.

On March 23, 1987, Ms. Warwick performed the song live at the Soul Train Awards with Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, and her baby cousin, Whitney Houston, who would’ve been 59 years old this week. The recorded version is great, but this performance right here? Magical.

According to NBC News, Fetty Wap was arrested Monday morning in Newark for threatening to kill someone over FaceTime. The threat reportedly came along with the rapper waving a firearm.

The rapper (born Willie Junior Maxwell II) violated the terms of his $50,000 bond following his November arrest, where he was charged with possessing and selling controlled substances. That bond has now been revoked and he is currently in custody.

The FaceTime call in question happened in December. He reportedly said, “I’ma kill you and everybody with you.”

Beyoncé just released a new version of “Break My Soul” (dubbed the Queens Remix) that sees her joining forces with the Queen of Pop.

This version is sung over the beat of Madonna’s 1990 hit “Vogue.” This time, as opposed to the (white) Old Hollywood icons listed in the original, Bey name-drops Black women in music, including Whitney Houston, Nina Simone Janet Jackson, Rihanna, Alicia Keys and Aretha Franklin. Two notable omissions on that list are Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey.

The track arrives just days after four other club remixes of “Break My Soul” (including one by will.i.am) were released. Currently, the track is only available via purchase at Beyoncé’s website.

Today, when we think about the whistle note, Mariah Carey comes to mind. However, years before the world came to know Mimi, it was a signature move for another singer: Minnie Riperton.

Minnie began her career in music as a background singer for a number of artists signed to Chess Records, including Etta James and Chuck Berry. She landed that opportunity after working as a receptionist at the label. In 1966, Marshall Chess — son on Chess Records founder Leonard Chess — formed a psychedelic soul band called Rotary Connection and tapped Minnie to join as one of its lead vocalists. In 1970, she would embark on a solo career, and in ’75, she would release what would become her biggest hit by far: “Lovin’ You.”

In January of 1976, just one year after the release of “Lovin’ You,” Minnie Riperton was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time of the diagnosis, the cancer had spread to her lymphatic system and she was expected to die in about six months. Despite that devastating news, she would continue recording and releasing music — she would also beat the odds. She released her fourth studio album, Stay in Love, in 1977, and her fifth, Minnie, in 1979.

The lead single for Minnie was a song called “Memory Lane.” Released in April of ’79, it is a lookback at Minnie Riperton’s life as it nears its end. At this point, she has basically lived on borrowed time for three years. In the song, she reminisces with the help of a photograph, and in the third verse, she sings, “I don’t want to go.” At just 31 years old, Minnie is running out of time and would soon leave her husband, Richard Rudolph, and two children, Marc and Maya, behind.

“Memory Lane” climaxes towards the end, with Minnie singing repeatedly, “Save me.” It is, quite simply, haunting. The music video for “Memory Lane” would be her very last. It was shot on May 25, 1979, and by mid-June, she was bedridden. On July 12, just under seven weeks after the video was shot, Minnie passed away.

If anyone asks you what the saddest song ever is, tell them it’s this one.

Mystikal was arrested on Sunday and after being charged with simple robbery, simple criminal damage to property, domestic abuse battery, false imprisonment, and first-degree rape. The arrest stems from an incident that took place Saturday night. He is currently being held without bond. The alleged victim is said to have sustained minor injuries.

The rapper (born Michael Tyler) has previously served six years in prison for sexually assaulting a hairstylist in 2004. He was also arrested for first-degree rape in 2017, but that case was eventually dropped.

Bey is back we’re all sleeping real good at night.

Last night, the most important artist in popular music today released her seventh studio album, Renaissance, and in many ways, it is indeed a rebirth. Beyoncé showed us that she is truly on a new vibration with sounds we’ve never heard from her, while also giving us glimpses of Classic Bey.

The album begins with a declaration: “These motherfuckers ain’t stopping me.” That line loops throughout “I’m That Girl,” where Bey let’s us know just that over a production that is both moody and danceable. The song is an ode to self from a woman who has been the most dominant force in pop culture for the last two decades. “I didn’t want this power,” she sings, as the song makes a transition to what sounds like an entirely new song.

On this album, Beyoncé’s mad scientist style of making music is very apparent. Almost every single track sounds like a synthesis of very disparate compositions.

The ode to self is followed by an ode to Black women in general. “Cozy” celebrates the beauty and perseverance of the Black woman, and is chock full of Instagram-caption-worthy lines. In-between Beyoncé’s declarations of coziness, we hear clips of internet sensation TS Madison speaking about the depths of his Blackness.

We get more braggadocio on “Alien Superstar,” where Bey sends a clear message to her peers: “I’m one of one.” Ballroom influences can be heard in the parlance and the cadence of the beat, with the singer telling us in different ways that she’s unique. The message is underscored with the words of writer Barbara Ann Teer, who can be heard speaking to the uniqueness of Black people towards the end of the song.

“Cuff It” is the first true bop on the album. We get a melody; we get a groovy beat; we even get horns. But the best part of the song is that we get vocals. Beyoncé sings from top to bottom, and it is glorious. Based on samples of Teena Marie’s “Square Biz” and Chic’s “Good Times,” it is the album’s clear winner (and probably should’ve been its lead single).

The album’s mid-song transitions, though impressive, are no match for the track-to-track transitions — the most seamless of which can be found where “Cuff It” becomes “Energy.” The track begins with leftovers of “Cuff It” then transitions to an Afrobeats-style production. The hook is performed by Jamaican rapper (and one of the song’s co-writers) BEAM. It is followed by the album’s lead single, “Break My Soul,” in a transition aided by Big Freedia’s voice.

The title and first few seconds of “Church Girl” will have you thinking you’re about to hear a ballad, but you aren’t. “Church girls getting loose, bad girls acting snotty,” Bey sings, over a New Orleans bounce beat. DJ Jimi’s “Where They At Now,” a classic bounce track, is the most prominent of the sampled songs on “Church Girl.”

“Plastic off the Sofa” brings us as close to a ballad as we will get on Renaissance. It is an R&B song that doesn’t try to be anything else, and compared to the complex nature of most of the album, its simplicity feels radical. The song offers smooth production, smooth vocals, and even smoother lyrics. At one point, Beyoncé sings, “I think you’re so cool, even though I’m cooler than you.”

The smoothness of “Plastic off the Sofa” is maintained to the very last second, where it transitions to “Virgo’s Groove,” a song that lives up its title. It manages to be a bop and a baby-making song at the same damn time, with Beyoncé using a blunt as a metaphor for her body as she invites her lover to take a hit. It is a great track for the summer, and with their season just around the corner, you know Virgos are about to be insufferable.

At over six minutes long, “Virgo’s Groove” manages to keep you engaged throughout, which is no small feat for such a lengthy track. Bey ends the song with vocal runs that will take you back to the Dangerously in Love era.

The legendary Grace Jones lends her pen and voice to “Move,” a dancehall/Afrobeats blend that will take you on the first listen. Unlike the other obvious fusions of different compositions, this one feels particularly natural — the fact that both parts of the song are equally good doesn’t hurt. Tems also lends her pen and voice to “Move” — as if we needed more evidence that she is the It Girl of the moment. We’ve already crowned “Cuff It,” but if anyone said this was the album’s best song, we wouldn’t call them unreasonable.

“Heated” is another dancehall-yet-Afrobeats track. However, it draws from both genres in a distinctively indistinctive way — in a Drake-ish kinda way, if you will. As a matter of fact, the Canadian is credited as one of the song’s writers. His version of the song made it to the internet a month ago, but it’s not clear if it was made as a demo for Beyoncé or if the rapper/singer recorded it for one of his projects.

On “Heated,” Beyoncé pulls from the Ballroom culture once again. This time, she performs a Ballroom-style rap, where she clocks you fickle-ass fans with arguably the best line of the album: “Monday, I’m overrated, Tuesday, on my dick.” She also gives a shout-out to her late Uncle Jonny, who she credits with exposing her to “a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album.” In 2019, she dedicated her GLAAD Vanguard Award to him, describing him as “the most fabulous gay man I’ve ever known.”

Lyrically, “Thique” is everything you thought it would be. Sonically, however, it is a bit of a surprise. It starts with a trap-style beat, but within the first minute, it turns into an fast-paced, House-ish track, where Bey gives us more Ballroom-style rap. Azealia Banks would fit in perfectly on this song.

On an album largely made up of new sounds from Beyoncé, “All up in Your Mind” manages to go even further left than the rest. The song is pop-yet-R&B-yet-EDM-yet-rock — at the same damn time. While its production feels very different, the song itself is quite orthodox in the sense that it sounds like it is a singular composition as opposed to a fusion of different songs.

Beyoncé faked us out again on “America Has a Problem,” which is not the political song you would probably expect. The problem in question is Beyoncé and her sexy body. Production-wise, “America Has a Problem” is somewhat reminiscent of Bey’s top 10 hit, “Sweet Dreams.”

“Pure/Honey” is the most naked of the fusions on Renaissance — the title gives away the fact that it is two different songs in one. “Pure” is another Ballroom joint, complete with a loop of Kevin Aviance saying “cunt, cunt, cunt” — it samples his 1996 single, “Cunty.” The track takes a sharp turn when it transitions to “Honey,” which is a groovy jam with slight disco influences. It closes with another nod to Ballroom culture, with a loop of Moi Renee saying “Miss Honey.”

The album closes with “Summer Renaissance,” which samples Donna Summer’s 1977 hit, “I Feel Love.” In a way, this sample feels like it checks multiple boxes all at once. It honors one of the “fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long”; it pays homage to the queer community, which was integral to rise of disco; and it gives a nod to her earlier work — one of first singles as a solo artist, “Naughty Girl,” also samples the Queen of Disco. As the song ends and the album comes to a close, Bey lists a number of designers — included Telfar — and lets us know that she is in her bag. And that she is.

Everything about Renaissance — from the sounds to the rollout — indicates that Beyoncé is as sure of herself as she ever was. And she has reason to be. At nearly 25 years in the industry, she is able to keep her sound fresh and the demand for her music still resembles that of a hot new artist. She is every bit an alien superstar.

Album rating: 7.5 out of 10 stars.

This week in 2002, Austin Powers in Goldmember — the third installment of the Austin Powers franchise — was released. The movie co-starred a then-20-year-old Beyoncé, who was making her big screen debut. Prior to this movie, she had only appeared in Carmen: A Hip Hopera, which went straight to television.

The Goldmember soundtrack gave Beyoncé another first: It’s lead single, “Work It Out,” would become her very first single as a solo artist. Co-written by The Neptunes and the singer, the track is a bouncy funk tune that aims to give you the ‘70s feel of its parent movie. As a matter of fact, Beyoncé appears to be performing the song as Foxxy Cleopatra, her character in the movie.

(Random, not-so-fun fact: While practicing tricks on the set of this video shoot, Beyoncé got hit in the face by the microphone stand, leading to a chipped tooth.)

“Work It Out” isn’t a terrible song, but it just doesn’t quite curl all the way over. Though it was a top 10 hit in the UK, the song completely missed the charts in the US. At the time, it looked like the former leader of Destiny’s Child couldn’t make it happen on her own. We would soon know better.

As we begin a new era tonight, let’s take a look back at where it all began for Beyoncé the solo artist.

If you asked the average person why The Beatles broke up, they’d probably point a finger at John Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, because that has been the prevailing narrative in pop culture lore. It was always just easier to blame a woman.

However, in the case of the short-lived group, City High, it was indeed a woman who led to the group’s demise. And unlike The Beatles, the woman was a member of the group. CLaudette Ortiz, the sole lady in the trio (who turns 41 years old today), dated bandmate Robbie Pardlo and later got married to her other bandmate, Ryan Toby. This group didn’t survive this love triangle of sorts, which was discussed in Episode 27 of the podcast.

Scandal aside, Claudette is an amazing vocalist. She released a few singles as a solo artist, but was never quite able to duplicate the success the enjoyed with City High. Her finest work is without a doubt her collabo with Wyclef Jean, “Two Wrongs,” which was the lead single for his third studio album, Masquerade.