Among the slew of high-profile Juneteenth releases was City Girls’ new album, City On Lock, which “leaked” just hours prior to its release. The album came along with a video for its first single, “Jobs.”

As far as lyrical content is concerned, “Jobs” is very much a standard City Girls track and a welcome distraction in these apocalyptic times. “I don’t work jobs, bitch, I am the job,” as Yung Miami raps, is among the caption-ready gems in the two-minute track.

The “Jobs” video shows Yung Miami and JT working at a job that they hate and are ultimately fired from, after which they make OnlyFans accounts. Because agency. Because entrepreneurship. Because they are the job.

Click play.

As June 19 became June 20 on the East Coast, Beyoncé released a new track titled “Black Parade.” A Juneteenth miracle.

Written by Blu June, Brittany Coney, Worldwide Fresh, Derek Dixie, Kaydence, Caso, Jay-Z and the singer herself, “Black Parade” gives big blackity black energy, and we love to see it.

The bass-heavy track starts with Bey declaring that she’s going back to the South — “where my roots ain’t watered down,” she sings. As the song goes on, the mood oscillates between comical (“me and Jigga, fifty-leven children”) and political (“Need peace and reparation for my people”). Lyrically, it is somewhat reminiscent of “Mood 4 Eva” from the Lion King soundtrack, with Bey making references to ankh, Mansa Musa and a Yoruba goddess.

And of course, there is the obligatory melanin mention. Because black.

It’s not clear if “Black Parade” is a standalone or part of a larger project, but whatever the case, it was right on time. Check it out below.

In the summer of ’92, Boyz II Men was just over a year into its career. The group had released four singles and cracked the top 5 with two of them. Nathan, Michael, Shawn and Wanya were legitimate stars. However, with the group’s fifth single, “End of the Road,” they were about to become superstars.

“End of the Road” was released as the second single from the Boomerang soundtrack. Written and produced by Babyface, L.A. Reid and Daryl Simmons, the song is a lavish display of vocal talent and emotion. It would become Boyz II Men’s first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, spending a then-record-breaking 13 weeks at the top of the charts. That record would be broken that very year by Whitney (14 weeks), after which Boyz II Men matched her record, and then broke their own record with an assist from Mariah (16 weeks).

“End of the Road” is literally one of the biggest hits ever and would be the biggest song in most artists’ catalog, but it is only Boyz II Men’s third-biggest hit. Because they were in their bag like that in the early-to-mid ’90s.

We wouldn’t need a reason to celebrate this classic, but with today being Nathan Morris’ birthday, we certainly have one. Click play and sing your heart out.

June 12, 2020, marked the 30th anniversary of Mariah Carey’s eponymous debut album. As far as debuts are concerned, few are more impressive.

Mariah Carey is impressive not just because it has no skips and offers a range in tempo and style, but also because many of those songs were written by a teenage Mariah — in fact, some were written while she was in high school. As the legend goes, her then-future-husband and then-head of Columbia Records, Tommy Mottola, grabbed her demo tape as she handed it to Jerry Greenberg, then-president of Atlantic Records, and the rest is history. Tommy would end up signing and later marrying — and divorcing — her. There are few Mariah write-ups that don’t include this “Cinderella” story, but what many don’t mention is that the songs on that demo tape would end up being on her debut album. In fact, two of them — “Vision of Love” and “Someday” — would end up being No. 1 singles.

This fun fact is important because it demonstrates that she already had an artistic voice before the label assembled the industry’s finest to assist in making her debut album.

Many have inaccurately described Mariah Carey as an artist who made “pop” until she started collaborating with rappers, but not only is that false, it serves as evidence that “pop” is a vague and often-racialized term. Mariah was only considered “pop” because she was white-passing, but the truth is that her sound has always been decidedly R&B, and few songs on her debut LP could be mistaken as anything else.

Another fun fact: Mariah showed her first inclinations towards hip-hop on her debut album, where she raps on “Prisoner,” the album’s 10th track. Looking back, the Ol’ Dirty Bastard collabo should’ve been a lot less surprising, but unfortunately, she had been placed neatly in the “pop” box .

From gospel to doo-wop to quiet storm, Mariah Carey is a perfect blend of traditional and contemporary R&B sounds, and even though Columbia Records was very much going for Whitney vibes, you will come away knowing that this is an artist with an identity of her own.

All four singles from Mariah Carey — “Vision of Love,” “Love Takes Time,” “Someday” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry” — would reach the summit of the Billboard Hot 100, making her the second act ever (after the Jackson 5) to top the chart with their first four singles. Mariah would end up breaking that record when her fifth single (and first from her sophomore LP), “Emotions,” also tops the chart.

Mariah won Best New Artist and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance (for “Vision of Love”) at the Grammys the following year, and the album would go on to sell over 20 million copies worldwide.

Picking a favorite from an album this good can be a challenge, but on Mariah Carey, there is a clear winner: “Alone in Love.” You know an album is good when your favorite song is a deep cut and not one of its four No. 1 singles. Join me in celebrating this classic body of work.

6ix9ine and Nicki Minaj just dropped “TROLLZ,” their third collabo and easily their best one yet.

Tekashi didn’t do a whole lot of trolling, but Nicki did enough for the both of them. If you listen closely enough, there’s something in there for Lisa Raye (re: Nicole Murphy sleeping with her man) and Usher (re: rumored STD infection), among others.

And of course, as she did on the “Say So” remix, Nicki ensures to remind whoever that her real ass couldn’t keep her man at home. The target for that jab is still somewhat of a mystery.

The “Trollz” video was shot at 6ix9ine’s house because he’s still on house arrest. Check it out below.

In the fall of 1994, an all-star roster of male R&B singers got together to sing their asses off on “U Will Know,” a song about following your dreams and keeping the faith in a world determined to beat it out of you.

Written by D’Angelo with Lenny Kravitz on the guitar, the track includes vocals from Aaron Hall, Al B. Sure!, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Christopher Williams, El DeBarge, Gerald LeVert, Joe, Keith Sweat, Tevin Campbell, Tony! Toni! Toné! and Usher, among many others.

“U Will Know” is an all-time favorite, and if there’s anything to criticize about it, it’s that its video starts with black-on-black crime stats that might feel like propaganda when viewed through 2020 lens.

Watch the video below.

In a week where the world continues to protest in honor of George Floyd and the general mistreatment of black people, 2Pac’s “Changes” hits a little different. The song, released posthumously in October ’98, was a summary of the factors working against many black people in America.

I see no changes, all I see is racist faces.

With all of the police brutality we’ve seen as we protest against police brutality, and the new details we’ve learned about about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, the lyrics to the song almost feels like a narration of life in 2020.

“Changes” samples “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range, and features Talent. Even though it only peaked at No. 32 in the US, “Changes” was a top 5 hit in many European countries and is arguably Pac’s biggest posthumous single. Click play.

Earlier this week, yet another unarmed black person became a hashtag after being killed by the police. And once again, we have video evidence.

Forty-six-year-old father of two, George Floyd, was in handcuffs and laying on his belly while Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pushed his knee into his neck for at least eight minutes — it’s unknown how long he had been doing that before a bystander started recording. It was clear that Floyd was dead within five minutes of the recording, but the officer — who was accompanied by three others — kept his knee in place.

Minneapolis has been up in smoke since the incident, and other cities have shown solidarity via protests of their own. All four officers at the scene have been fired, but no arrest has been made despite ample evidence in support of doing so.

I had another song planned for this week’s Throwback Thursday post, but following the death of George Floyd, I’m left asking one question: What’s going on?

Marvin Gaye asked the same question on the lead single and title track of his 11th studio album, What’s Going On. Written by Gaye, Al Cleveland and Renaldo Benson, the song was inspired by the social unrest at the time. It went on to peak at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As we continue to live in the uncertainty of a global pandemic, and as George Floyd’s killer remains a free man, I have no choice but to ask the same.

“What’s Going On” has been remade four times, most recently in 2001, when Jermaine Dupri and Bono assembled an all-star cast of artists — including Destiny’s Child, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears and Nelly — for a remake aimed at raising money for AIDS treatment across the world. However, before the song was released, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which led to the proceeds of the song being split between AIDS treatment and September 11 relief.

It’s hard to remake a classic of this importance without ruining it, so I tip my heart to JD, Bono and all the artists — collectively called Artists Against AIDS Worldwide — involved. Listen to the original and the 2001 version below.

Marvin Gaye version

Artists Against AIDS Worldwide Version

Christopher Wallace, better known as the Notorious B.I.G., would have been 48 years old today. His life and career were cut short in 1997, but by all measures, he made his time on earth count.

“Juciy,” the first single from Biggie’s debut album, Ready to Die, is among his many classics and, in my humble opinion, his single best work. Rapped over the beat to Mtume’s “Juicy Fruit,” Biggie takes us on a journey that begins with a young Chris — reading Word Up! and daring to dream — and ends with his new reality as the Notorious B.I.G., rap star who sips champagne when he’s thirsty.

The beauty of “Juicy” is that it encapsulates Biggie’s life and is yet very relatable — to people who grew up less privileged, to black males misunderstood, and to anyone with big dreams. Basically, there is something for almost everyone.

In the 26 years since its release, “Juicy” has remained evergreen and is widely considered to be one of the greatest rap songs ever. Join me in celebrating this classic and the life of the Notorious B.I.G.