So…Kanye West had a listening party for his new album, Ye, last week in Wyoming. To no surprise, it was attended by a lot of celebrities, including Chris Rock, Nas, T.I., Teyana Taylor, Desiigner and Lil Yachty. Reviews of the album have been mixed, but I’m not concerned about any of that because I decided that I’m gonna pass on all Kanye music till further notice.

I think it’s worth noting that I started writing this post at least 5 days ago and kept abandoning it because Kanye stresses me out. To some extent, I think he intends to have this effect on people.

While I wasn’t surprised to see all those famous faces at the listening party, I was a little disappointed in every single one of them, especially Chris Rock and Nas. Most of the other black celebrities there were younger and would probably yield a net gain from being associated with Kanye, so I get it. It’s like working at a 9-5 where you have to suck up to an annoying boss to get promoted. We’ve all done it.

T.I. is not a young celebrity, but he’s also not someone I consider to be particularly smart, so he gets a pass too.

I am more concerned with Chris Rock and Nas, and how their their public support — these niggas flew to freaking WYOMING — for Kanye West goes directly against their years of pro-black messaging. Chris Rock routinely quips about race and racism in his standup performances, and even made a documentary about the adverse effects of Eurocentric beauty standards on black women. Nas has spit all manner of pro-black bars for years — I’m only a casual Nas fan and so many lines come to mind. How do they reconcile this with shmoozing up to a guy who says slavery is a choice? Make it make sense. No Mo’Nique.

I’m not naive, and I understand that problematic faves do exist. I have been unable to quit Chick-fil-A after all these years even though I know better; it’s a shame that well-prepared chicken is my Achilles’ heel, but this is my black-ass truth. I have, however, canceled Papa John’s since John Schnatter (its founder and largest shareholder) never gives us a chance to forget or even ignore the fact that he’s a trash human being with lots of shitty views. The key difference between Papa John’s and Chick-fil-A is that while both are controlled by people with harmful views, one is a little less shameless about it and never skips an opportunity to share; he has more “strikes,” if you will.

It is impossible to be absolute when it comes to canceling problematic people and things, so if you’re a pragmatist like myself, you probably have your own method for determining who and what you boycott. My method is strike-based, and strikes can be voided with good deeds or, if I like your product enough, a public apology or even a semi-retraction (followed by years of no new incidents). Of course, not all strikes are created equal and are each as dependent on the offense as they are the offender. In other words, Katy Perry would be canceled forever if she ever wore blackface, but Beyoncé gets a pass for being black (and for being Beyoncé).

Justin Bieber is definitely on camera saying the n-word, but he has apologized and there have been no new incidents of racist behavior (to my knowledge, at least), so he’s in the clear in my book. Kanye Omari West, on the other hand, has run out of strikes with me. And based on my observations, he has run out of strikes with most reasonable people.

From Confederate-flag-branded apparel to mindless support for Trump to talking shit about Obama to saying slavery is a choice, he has officially done too much. It is difficult to let go of an artist whose music was the soundtrack of very crucial years in my life, but I am left with no choice. Does this mean I will never listen to his music ever again? I hope not, but I can’t say. All I know is that he’s getting a kick out of trolling the very people who made him a star — the very people who stood by him when white people were trying to get him the fuck outta here — and giving credence to a lot of dangerous sentiments against those people, and I can’t support that in good faith.

PS: I understand that Kanye is mentally ill and should be treated with the requisite amount of compassion, but I think it would be unfair to all those suffering from mental illness to blame all of his behavior on that. Mental illness doesn’t make you a black Republican overnight.

As far as summer records go, they don’t get much better than KYLE’s “Playinwitme” (featuring Kehlani). It’s a piano-driven song (a la “iSpy”) with a sweet melody, a dope beat, and catchy lyrics that many will find irresistible. So far, the song hasn’t charted on the Billboard Hot 100 (a whole two months after its release), but I’m going to chalk that up to KYLE’s relatively low profile and inadequate promo on his label’s part.

“Playinwitme” is the second single from KYLE’s debut studio album, Light of Mine, which was released a little over two weeks ago. Watch the video below.

Bardi season is not over. Maroon 5 tapped Belcalis to spit a verse on the third single from their sixth studio album, Red Pill Blues. The video features cameos from MJB, J.Lo, Tiffany Haddish, Sarah Silverman, Camila Cabello, Phoebe Robinson, Gal Gadot, Franchesca Ramsey, Ellen, Millie Bobbie Brown, Danica Patrick, Ashley Graham and Rita Ora, among many others. Watch the clip below.

On this day in 1995, music fans got something special. Two of the greatest artists of all time (who also happen to be siblings) came together to give us a perfect blend of pop, R&B and rock. Up until this point, Janet had been strict about not collaborating with Michael because she wanted to make name for herself and didn’t want to be in his shadow. By 1995, she was one of the biggest stars in the game while Michael, on the other hand, was trying to shake off bad press from the child molestation allegations of 1993. In many ways, this collaboration was Janet lending goodwill to her big brother in what was then the most trying time of his career.

Written and produced by both Jacksons along with Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, “Scream” takes direct aim at the press for the shitshow that was 1993. The music video for the song is a black-and-white futuristic masterpiece that I have loved since I was [redacted] years old even though I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on — it is apparently about Mike and Janet running away from Earth on a spaceship.

With production ringing up $7 million (over $11 million when adjusted for inflation), “Scream” still holds the record for the most expensive music video of all time. Das how a boss do it. Treat yourself:

Welcome to dystopia.

We are now living in a world where a racist, badly behaved and possibly criminal former reality TV star is not only president of the United States but is now hosting meetings about prison reform with another reality TV star whose claim to fame is a sex tape with Brandy’s little brother.

Kim Kardashian is trying to get a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman who has served over 20 years for a first-time drug offense, which is an undeniably good deed. However, the imagery is a jarring signifier of how far down the toilet America has gone. The country is being run by a thirsty-ass clout-chaser and he is having a meeting with another thirsty-ass clout-chaser under the guise of discussing a serious matter.

Prison reform is not and has never been a part of the Republican platform, and Donald Trump cares nothing about this issue. This is nothing but a crass photo-op and I hope all you Jill Stein voters are proud of yourselves.

 

Two morons.

And so is Pusha T.

In a bid to shock the populace, Kanye West convinced Pusha T to use one of the infamous 2006 pictures of Whitney Houston’s bathroom (full of drug paraphernalia) as the cover for his new album, DAYTONA. Kanye supposedly paid $85,000 to license the picture, which (according to Pusha T) “represents an organized chaos” and matches the energy of the album. That’s deep, bro.

At this point, it is clear that Kanye West has exhausted all of his creative juices because he is grasping at straws to create controversy for the hell of it. Gratuitous disrespect is not and will never be a legitimate cultural statement, and both Kanye and Pusha T are extremely wack for doing this.

And then he wonders why Jay-Z and Beyoncé want nothing to do with him.

The Black Eyed Peas seem to have returned to pre-Fergie form. As the title indicates, “RING THE ALARM pt.1, pt.2, pt.3” is three songs in one (the second is my favorite) and is possibly the most conscious single the group has ever put out, touching on issues ranging from police brutality to Big Pharma. Also, Will.I.Am is spitting like its 1998, so no complaints here. Watch the clip below.

Jessie Reyez released the video for her new single, “Body Count,” a week ago. The song is presumably the lead single from her sophomore album, whose title and release date are yet to be announced.

Co-written by Babyface, “Body Count” is a stripped-down mid-tempo that talks about double standards relating to the number of “bodies” (i.e. sexual partners) that men and women are allowed to have. The lyrics are clever and profane like every other Jessie Reyez song, and the video has a Salem witch theme where Jessie gets burnt at the stake (presumably for having too many bodies). Watch the video below.