It was all a dream about Tennessee.

The nation’s 16th state has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons, but the racist antics of its state legislators has led to a renewed push for civil rights and introduced two young, new voices to the national stage.

As the events of the last week unfolded, I’ve had Arrested Development’s debut single, “Tennessee,” stuck in my head. Even if the song was named “Vermont” or some other state, its lyrics would still feel appropriate in this moment, but it being named after the state on everyone’s mind makes it the perfect choice for this week’s TBT.

While “Tennessee” is partially a general commentary on the struggles of being Black in America, it is above all a personal song about a man in a state of grief. The group’s lead vocalist, Speech, had visited Tennessee with his brother for their grandmother’s funeral, and just days later, his brother died. “Tennessee” was born out of those losses. In a 2008 interview, Speech said, “That song was probably the first step of me recovering from the loss of two people that are just extremely close and dear to me.”

“Tennessee,” which includes lead vocals from a then-unknown Dionne Farris, is based on a sample of Prince’s “Alphabet Street,” an uncleared sample of “Alphabet Street.” Luckily, Prince chose to be nice and only asked for a one-time payment of $100,000 after the song became a major hit.

“Tennessee” would go on to peak at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earn Arrested Development a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The group would also win the Grammy for Best New Artist, making it the first hip-hop act to win in that category. Depending on who you ask, it is their signature hit — “People Everyday” said hi — and while that could be debated, what is without dispute is that it is a classic that introduced the world to a dynamic group with an incredibly original sound.

Yesterday, the Department of Justice announced that it will not be filing charges in the death of Shanquella Robinson, citing insufficient evidence. An official statement said, “Based on the results of the autopsy and after a careful deliberation and review of the investigative materials by both U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, federal prosecutors informed Ms. Robinson’s family today that the available evidence does not support a federal prosecution.”

An autopsy conducted by Mexican authorities concluded that the 25-year-old died of a broken neck and spine. However, the autopsy conducted in the US found that her spine was intact and there was “no evidence of injury to the upper airway section and no hemorrhage in the surrounding neck muscle.”

Shanquella died during a Mexico trip with so-called friends, who told her family she had suffered alcohol poison. Days later, it was revealed that those so-called friends beat her up while there and recorded. Mexican authorities have since issued an arrest warrant for one of the “friends,” who has yet to be named publicly.

An interesting fact about popular music in the Western world — particularly, in the United States — is that what we describe as “pop” is often times watered-down R&B — or, in some cases, straight-up R&B performed by a white person.

Britney Spears is by no means a soul singer, but so many of her early hits are basically stepped-down versions of the contemporary R&B songs of the time. One example that comes to mind is “Born to Make You Happy,” the fourth single from her debut album, …Baby One More Time. This might be a stretch to some, but if you just sit with the chord progression of the verses for a bit and imagine an R&B singer laying those vocals, you might hear what I’m hearing.

R&B-ness aside, “Born to Make You Happy” is one of the unsung heroes of Britney’s catalog. Co-written by Kristian Lundin and Andreas Carlsson, the song was initially more sexual in nature, but was re-written after the singer objected. It was released as a single everywhere but the US, becoming a major hit for the singer and even debuting at No. 1 in the UK.

Britney’s life has taken so many twists and turns in the 23 years since this single was released, but never forget that this lady gave us some good-ass pop music.

Earlier today, the Los Angeles Medical Examiner-Coroner confirmed that Coolio died of an accidental fentanyl overdose. The coroner’s report also lists cardiomyopathy, asthma and recent phencyclidine use as contributing factors to his death.

The hip-hop legend (born Artis Ivey Jr.) passed away in September 2022. He was 59 years old.

Irvin Cartagena (a.k.a. Green Eyes), the man who sold a fatal dose of fentanyl-laced heroin to Michael K. Williams, has pled guilty to conspiracy to distribute heroin, fentanyl, and fentanyl analogue.

The 39-year-old took a plea deal that allowed him to plead guilty to just one charge and avoid a possible life sentence. He is now facing up to 40 years in prison (and a minimum of five). His sentencing is scheduled for August.

For the last 25 years or so, MC Hammer has been an easy target for cheap punchlines, but make no mistake, he has had a far more impactful career than most of your favorite rappers.

Hammer (born Stanley Burrell) turns 61 years old today, so it’s only right that we revisit one of his many classics. In August of 1990, he released “Pray” as the third single from his blockbuster album, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, which remains one of the best-selling rap albums of all time.

Based on a sample of Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and an interpolation of Faith No More’s “We Care a Lot,” the song is one of the earliest instances of gospel rap in popular music. While “Can’t Touch This” is undoubtedly MC Hammer’s signature hit, “Pray” holds the title as his highest-peaking single, reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Join me in celebrating this Aries king and one of the important figures in the history of hip-hop.

Jonathan Majors was arrested on Saturday in New York City for allegedly assaulting a woman.

In a statement issued to the press, the New York Police Department said:

“A preliminary investigation determined that a 33-year-old male was involved in a domestic dispute with a 30-year-old female. The victim informed police she was assaulted. Officers placed the 33-year-old male into custody without incident. The victim sustained minor injuries to her head and neck and was removed to an area hospital in stable condition.”

The Creed III star has been charged with strangulation, assault and harassment. A spokesperson for the actor claims he has done nothing wrong and that they looking forward to “clearing his name and clearing this up.”

On Sunday, the actor’s attorney, issued a statement where she says her client is “provably the victim” and that the accuser has since recanted her allegations. She also says witness statements and video evidence clears the actor, and expects the charges to be dropped soon.

She’s been talking much shit lately, but let’s be clear: Yvette Marie Stevens, better known as Chaka Khan, is a motherfucking legend.

The Chicago native turns 70 years old today, so it is only right that we celebrate her iconic life and career. She was recruited to join Rufus as its lead singer in 1972 after performing with various local bands in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Soon after joining the group, Ike Turner caught wind of them and flew them out to record in his Los Angeles studio. While there, he tried to poach Chaka so she could become an Ikette — thankfully, she declined. Imagine what her life would be if she took that offer?

Chaka would record six studio albums and earn three top 10 hits with Rufus before deciding to go solo. In this instance, this is very much solo with a small “s” because she sang it all while she was with the group.

Chaka’s debut single as a solo artist, “I’m Every Woman,” was released in September of ’78. Written by Ashford & Simpson and produced by Arif Mardin, the song was not a major chart hit, but has gone on to become a classic and one of Chaka’s signature hits.

Join me in celebrating the Queen of Funk.

Have you ever gone to church on a Thursday? Well, there’s a first time for everything.

In September of 1998, Kirk Franklin released “Lean on Me” as the lead single of his fifth studio album, The Nu Nation Project. Lyrically and thematically, the song feels very much like a church-ified reworking of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me”, but sonically, it is very much your standard gospel song.

Kirk Franklin wrote the song and co-produced it with Dan Shea. Though he’s officially the only credited artist, he enlisted R. Kelly, Crystal Lewis, Mary J. Blige and Bono to take on lead vocal duties. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and it is certainly unfortunate that we can’t fully enjoy a lot of amazing music because R. Kelly turned out to be a complete monster.

For what it’s worth, the video below is from the live performance of the song at the 1999 Grammy Awards, where Gerald LeVert took R. Kelly’s verse and background singer Dalon Collins took his line on the bridge. And while we’re on the topic of the Grammys, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the song was a Song of the Year nominee that year.

Fun fact: Before they were starring on Tyler Perry movies, David and Tamela Mann were members of Kirk Franklins choir, The Family. And on “Lean on Me,” Tamela gives us the best ad libs on the track.

Kirk Franklin makes the kind of gospel music that can turn a heathen into a believer, and for that, he will remain the goat in that genre (his lack of singing talent notwithstanding). Click play and give praise.