Just a week after hopping on IG Live to give the people quality content, Megan Thee Stallion and Nicki Minaj made good on their promise to collaborate.

“Hot Girl Summer,” which features Ty Dolla $ign, might as well have been titled “City Girl Summer.” Not only does the song include a loop of the opening line of the City Girls'”Act Up,” the song’s hook is also based on that line. I guess the message being sent is that Hot Girls and City Girls are affiliates, which is fair.

“Hot Girl Summer” doesn’t blow you away on the first listen, but it will definitely have you nodding and you will find yourself liking it more with each listen. Nicki Minaj is very much in her bag and will have you wishing she gave us a second verse. Click play.

The year was 2000 and we were at the height of the teen pop era. The demand for young white artists making (mostly shabby) imitations of R&B was simply insatiable. Britney was on fire. Christina was on fire. The Backstreet Boys were on fire.

And of course, there was *NSYNC.

Earlier that year, the group’s sophomore album, No Strings Attached, sold 2.4 million copies in the US in its first week, making it the biggest domestic debut at the time — Adele has since broken that record with 25 (3.4 million). The album’s second single, “It’s Gonna Be Me,” was the first *NSYNC song that I recognized for being a true jam. It was corny in many ways, but it was catchy as hell and JC Chasez was singing his ass off. He is definitely the Florence Ballard of that group.

Written by Andreas Carlsson, Rami Yacoub and the legendary Max Martin, “It’s Gonna Be Me” would become *NSYNC’s first and only No. 1 on the US charts. And in the almost two decades since its release, the song has had something of a rebirth as a yearly meme. Justin’s weird pronunciation of “me” (in a way that sounds like “may”) has made “It’s Gonna Be Me” one of the internet’s markers for the year’s fifth month. What a legacy.

The music video for “It’s Gonna Be Me” was corny even in 2000, but today, it’s like something out of a sketch show. The group’s choreographer and stylist failed them, but it’s all good. The song still slaps.

In case you missed it, Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” is now the longest-running No. 1 in the history of the Billboard Hot 100, with 17 weeks so far. Though impressive, the deployment of a thousand remixes has earned this achievement a much-needed asterisk. The truly iconic don’t need remixes to dominate the charts.

And when I say “the truly iconic,” I’m referring to the likes of Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men, who now have the second-longest-running No. 1 in the history of the US charts: “One Sweet Day.”

Before I go any further, it’s worth noting that these two acts also have songs that rank as the third-longest-running No. 1s ever: Mariah with “We Belong Together” and Boyz II Men with “I’ll Make Love to You,” both with 14 weeks at the throne. Boyz II Men also have the fourth-longest-running No. 1 of all time: “End of the Road” (13 weeks). When I said iconic, I truly meant it.

“One Sweet Day” came about when Mariah and former writing partner Walter Afanasieff wrote a mournful song inspired by the passing of David Cole of C+C Music Factory, who was Mariah’s friend and collaborator. As they composed the song, Mariah thought it sounded like something that she could hear Boyz II Men singing, so she reached out for a possible collaboration.

Around the same time, Boyz II Men’s road manager had just passed away and Nathan Morris had written a song paying homage to him. When Boyz II Men finally linked up with Mariah and heard the first draft of “One Sweet Day,” they were stunned. The song Nathan had worked on sounded eerily similar to what Mariah played for them. Not only were they both about grief, but the lyrics and chord progressions were similar. The lyrics from Nathan’s version can be heard in the acappella version of “One Sweet Day,” and in the video below, you can actually hear his lyrics over the the instrumentals of the main version.


Mariah and the Boyz essentially merged songs to produce the final result we now know and love. And in a stroke of serendipitous genius, they decided to film the writing and recording session because their tight schedules would’ve made it impossible for them to link up again to shoot an actual video. It is hard to imagine what video treatment could’ve done this song justice, so I’m somewhat glad they never bothered. The studio clips seem just right.

“One Sweet Day” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming just the fourth song to do so and Mariah’s second to accomplish said feat — “Fantasy” had done so just months earlier. In the almost 24 years since its release, the song has remained evergreen and is considered one of the greatest collaborations of all time. No horse in the back can change that.

Today in 1999, Destiny’s Child released its sophomore album, The Writing’s on the Wall. The group, still a quartet, had experienced moderate success with its self-titled debut album, but it was its follow-up that made Destiny’s Child a household name.

The album’s lead single, “Bills, Bills, Bills,” was the group’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It was followed by three more singles that were similar in their pro-woman messaging: “Bug A Boo” was all about being badgered by thirsty men; “Say My Name” was about catching a cheater over the phone;  and “Jumpin’ Jumpin'” was a call for women to leave their men at home so they could go party with ballers at the club. City Girls need to pay homage.

The Writing’s on the Wall era gave us songs and videos that have become iconic, but that’s not all that makes that era pivotal for the group. Somewhere between “Bug A Boo” and “Say My Name,” things went left. Two of the original members of Destiny’s Child, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, accused the group’s manager (and Beyoncé’s father), Mathew Knowles, of favoritism and tried to get a separate manager. As you might know, things didn’t work out them. They were kicked out of the group and replaced by Michelle Williams and Farrah Franklin.

LeToya and LaTavia claim that they were dismissed without notice and once told MTV that they found out about their dismissal when the “Say My Name” video premiered. The two ended up suing Beyoncé, Kelly and Mathew, which later resulted in out-of-court settlements.

If you thought the drama ended there, you’d be mistaken. One of the replacements, Farrah Franklin, was kicked out of the group just five months after joining, making Destiny’s Child a trio. While her stay was short, it provided content that is now legendary among fans. If you ever doubted that Beyoncé could be shady or ruthless, some of these videos will quell that doubt.

Destiny’s Child got even bigger after the lineup changes. The Writing’s on the Wall will go on to sell over 15 million copies worldwide, becoming the group’s biggest album. “Say My Name,” the group’s second No. 1 hit, won two Grammys, and since they co-wrote and performed the track, LeToya and LaTavia received golden gramophones. How’s that for a consolation prize?

Picking a favorite track was tougher than expected, but “Bug A Boo” is the winner. Join me in celebrating this classic album.

In the late ’90s and early 2000s, it was fairly common for the same sample to appear on different hit songs released just months apart. One example of this is Montell Jordan’s “Get It on Tonite” and Da Brat’s “What’chu Like” (featuring Tyrese), which were released five months apart. Both songs sample Claudja Barry’s “For the Sake of Love,” a disco track from 1976 and another manifestation of disco’s long and glorious legacy. But I digress.

This week’s TBT post focuses on “What’chu Like” because even though “Get It on Tonite” was the bigger hit, I and anyone with taste will tell you that the Da Brat and Tyrese collabo was far superior. Also, I often think about that three-year period where Da Brat swapped the baggy clothes for bikinis and whatnot. It is one of the more drastic image overhauls I can remember and I still wonder if it was her idea or the label’s idea.

“What’chu Like” was the second and final single from Da Brat’s third album, Unrestricted, and her last top 40 hit. Click play and get your life.

Beyoncé assembled an international roster for The Lion King: The Gift, an album featuring music inspired by the remake of The Lion King, in which Bey plays Nala. The album is not to be confused with the movie’s soundtrack, which includes remakes of all the classics from the 1994 original. The Gift is more of a promotional vehicle that allows Disney to maximize its use of Beyoncé’s clout, especially since her role in the movie is relatively small. It is a shrewd move on Disney’s part.

The Gift begins with James Earl Jones’ booming voice, which has aptly been described as what the world’s richest coffee would sound like if it could speak. The prelude, titled “Balance,” features Jones as Mufasa and transitions into “Bigger” by  Beyoncé, a surprisingly contemporary song that will remind anyone with a keen ear of Lemonade’s “Love Drought.” The song’s bridge even mentions the word “drought,” and I find it hard to believe that that was a coincidence.

“Bigger” is a solid track and a good indicator of what’s to come: an assortment of jams. If you’re looking for “Circle of Life”-esque songs, go listen to the soundtrack.

We get another James Earl Jones interlude, which is followed by “Find Your Way Back” by Bey. Though contemporary, this track sounds a lot closer to the old-school African sound that I would have expected from the entire project. The drums and the cadence of the verses will remind you of Drake’s “Too Good” (featuring Rihanna). “Find Your Way Back” is a strong contender for best track.

Tekno, Yemi Alade and Mr Eazi joined forces for the album’s first club banger, “Don’t Jealous Me.” The song, which many would describe as “Afrobeats” (a questionable term in my book), is your standard contemporary African (read: Nigerian) jam.

We get another interlude featuring JD McCrary and Shahadi Wright Joseph as young Simba and young Nala, respectively.

“Ja Ara E” by Burna Boy is another contemporary Naija jam, but this one’s a little mellower. I’m thinking more swanky bar and less club. The Yoruba title roughly translates to “stay woke,” which would be unbearably trite if it was in English.

Chiwetel Ejiofor and JD McCrary as Scar and young Simba, respectively, are featured in the next interlude, “Run Away,” which is followed by “Nile” by Bey and Kendrick Lamar. At just 1 minute 47 seconds, “Nile” could be classified as another interlude. We don’t get any real music till its last 30 seconds, with a beat that bears some similarities to B’Day‘s “Kitty Kat.” You will be left feeling furious that this track — or at least its last 30 songs — isn’t longer.

Timon (Billy Eichner), Pumbaa (Seth Rogen) and young Simba are featured on “New Lesson,” an interlude that closes with a mention of “Hakuna Matata.” What a wonderful phrase.

Bey, Jay-Z and Childish Gambino got together for “Mood 4 Eva” and I wasn’t quite ready. Beyoncé and her husband shit all over this track. The braggadocio is on a hunnid thousand trillion and the beat KNOCKS. “Mood 4 Eva” is a real club banger and an otherwise perfect track if not for Donald Glover’s weak vocals.

Beyoncé and Donald Glover — who is credited as his stage and government names on this singular project — are featured as grownup Nala and Simba, respectively, on “Reunited.”

“Water” is a collaboration between Salatiel, Pharrell Williams and Beyoncé, and the whole time, you’re just kind of wishing they left Bey to handle this one on her own. Her vocals are amazing and the other two don’t quite have the range. Also, Bey’s use of West African exclamation is simply beautiful.

Bey, SAINt JHN and WizKid — with an assist from Blue Ivy Carter — got together for “Brown Skin Girl,” an ode to black girls. The track, which name-checks Lupita Nyong’o and Kelly Rowland, is a fan favorite and trended on social media hours after The Gift dropped. Blue Ivy’s vocals, which open and close the song, are the best thing about “Brown Skin Girl.”

On the next interlude, we cringe through Nala telling Simba to come home. Beyoncé is one of the best to ever do this music shit, but acting is not her forte. Lordt.

“Keys to the Kingdom” is a groovy mid-tempo that may remind you of “Ja Ara E.” Though billed as a duet between Tiwa Savage and Mr Eazi, the former gets the lion share of track time. “Keys” is followed by “Follow Me,” an interlude featuring John Kani as Rafiki.

Beyoncé sings in a West African accent on “Already,” a collaboration with Shatta Wale and Major Lazer, and another one for the clubs. What can I say that I haven’t already? Beyoncé is a master at her craft.

We get another dose of the world’s richest coffee on “Remember,” which is followed by “Otherside,” a ballad performed by Bey. Producer Bankulli sings the outro — which is in Yoruba and Kiswahili — with Beyoncé.

“War” is another interlude featuring Nala, but this time, Bey doesn’t sound so bad. It features a clip from the lead-up to the big fight with Scar, which features Nala in the remake, thanks to an expansion of the role.

Tierra Whack, Beyoncé and Moonchild Sanelly got together for “My Power,” which features Nija. The track is one of those that might take a few listens to appreciate. It’s a very South African track, so if that’s your bag, you might like it.

Simba and Scar face off on the “Surrender” interlude, and then it hits me: Donald Glover isn’t that great of an actor either. At least not as a voice actor.

“Scar,” performed by 070 Shake and Jessie Reyez, starts as a piano-driven ballad and then the beat drops. It sounds like an amalgamation of two songs that would probably be better off separated. Also, 070 Shake sounds like Sade in some instances and the Weeknd in others.

The album ends with “Spirit,” and now that I’ve heard this entire project, I can say that Beyoncé played us by not releasing something else as the lead single.

The Lion King: The Gift is yet another manifestation of Afropop as a force to be reckoned with. Popular American artists have dabbled in the sound for a few years now, but no one has ever done it quite at this scale. More importantly, Beyoncé has shown just how seamlessly you can blend American and African contemporary musical styles without diminishing either. She has also given the biggest of co-signs to a rack of African artists. A paradigm shift is imminent.

Album rating: 8.5 out of 10 stars.

This past Friday marked the 40th anniversary of Disco Demolition Night, the most hating-ass shit the music industry has ever seen. On the day of that embarrassing event, Donna Summer was sitting atop the Billboard Hot 100 with “Bad Girls,” the third of her four No. 1 hits, and the second single and title track from her seventh studio album. Her second No. 1, “Hot Stuff,” was No. 3 that week. In short, Donna Summer was shittin’ on the game and they literally hated to see it. “They” being the disco-haters, who were generally racists and homophobes, but I digress.

“Bad Girls” was written by Donna Summer, Bruce Sudano, Edward “Eddie” Hokenson and Joe “Bean” Esposito, and if the horns on the track remind you of KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Give It Up,” you’re not alone. The two songs have no common writers or producers, but writers of “Bad Girls” would have a solid case if they ever decided to sue.

The song, an ode to working girls, was inspired by an incident where one of Donna Summer’s assistants was mistaken for a prostitute — by a police officer, no less. Upon hearing the song, Donna Summer’s record label tried to have her give it to Cher, but she ended up keeping it for herself and releasing it years late. A shrewd queen.

I always celebrate disco because I have taste, but this week, I am celebrating it more loudly than usual because fuck them haters.

We now have a video for “Spirit,” and while the song is still meh, the video kinda makes up for it. Filmed in the Grand Canyon, the “Spirit” video features all of the standard interpretive choreography you would expect from an American going for African vibes. Some of it might actually remind you a bit of the choreography from the Lemonade era, which was full of African influences.

While the choreography isn’t spectacular, the costuming and cinematography certainly are. We get lots of bright colors and all sorts of aerial views, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself getting more excited about the new Lion King, which I wasn’t always sold on.

The best thing about the video is a cameo from Blue Ivy, who is clearly being groomed for world domination. Click play.

Today is Lil’ Kim’s 45th birthday, and while she is by far the most prominent person born today, I couldn’t miss an opportunity to post about another “Lil.”

Zane Copeland Jr., better known as Lil’ Zane, turns 37 today. If you don’t know who this is, I won’t hold it against you. If you do, congratulations on being a real one (and possibly being old as hell).

Lil’ Zane is your classic one-hit wonder — the likes of which we no longer see because streaming and social media have made it harder for anyone to have just one hit. In 2000, he released “Callin’ Me” (featuring 112), a song that is so 2000 in every way. The production, the lyrics, even the video. I wouldn’t call it a classic because classics are timeless and this song certainly isn’t. However, it is a heck of a tune.

“Callin’ Me” peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at No. 1 on the Hot Rap Songs chart. Lil’ Zane has not been able to chart any song ever since, but he still books shows on a fairly regular basis, which goes to show that one hit song can be parlayed into decades of opportunity.