Today marks 15 years since the infamous halftime show performance at Super Bowl XXXVIII. The performance — which featured Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson — was actually a good one, but unfortunately, it will always be remembered for its final milliseconds, where Justin Timberlake ripped off a part of Janet Jackson’s bustier, revealing her bare right breast. And thus Nipplegate was born.

At the time, it was described as a “wardrobe malfunction” — a term that has since taken on a life of its own. All these years later, I still don’t know if I believe it was unintentional (even though this clip does support Janet’s story), but I do know that people overreacted to the sight of a black woman’s breast. CBS — the network that aired the Super Bowl that year — received over 500,000 complaints and the NFL had to refund the $10 million it was paid by the sponsors of the halftime show.

As a way of making peace with America, the NFL went the “safe” route in the subsequent halftime shows. For the next six years after Nipplegate, the performers were all old and male, and with the exception of Prince, white. They were also all rock acts, and generally speaking, their performances were boring as fuck. Prince did okay, but the rest? Trash.

The performance would also change television at large. Congress passed legislation that increased FCC fines for indecency, which led to many networks implementing delays in their live broadcasts.

The most lasting impact, however, was the effect it had on Janet Jackson’s career, and this wasn’t because the music-buying audience suddenly abandoned her; it was because Les Moonves, the then-CEO of Viacom (which owned CBS at the time), made it his business to destroy Janet Jackson. He ordered that she be blacklisted from all Viacom properties across TV, radio and even publishing — it cannot be overstated how damaging this could be to any entertainer’s career. Just pure evil.

Justin Timberlake didn’t help matters by being disloyal. His public apology following Nipplegate essentially put all the blame on Janet Jackson, which is typical. Also, it’s worth noting that a lot of his initial statements following Nipplegate have been scrubbed from the internet, including an interview right after the performance, where he says, “We love giving you something to talk about” (paraphrasing). I remember this clip vividly because it was just hours after the performance and before shit had really hit the fan.

That year, Janet Jackson was disinvited from the Grammys while Justin got to attend and perform TWICE. He has gone from success to success in the years since, while Janet Jackson’s career was effectively put to an end. I am still bitter about it and I will never forgive all those responsible for bringing her down.

I take solace in the fact that Les Moonves went down in flames last year, losing his job as the CEO of CBS following accusations of sexual misconduct. Also, on the day of last year’s Super Bowl (where Justin got halftime show duties), the internet decided to have Janet Jackson Appreciation Day. We will never fully get justice, but in order to make sure this doesn’t happen again, we will always remember.

Nicki Minaj just dropped a video for “Hard White,” proving that she still doesn’t know how to pick singles — “Coco Chanel” or “Majesty” would’ve been no-brainers for me, but it is what it is. The video has an occultic theme, with dancers appearing to be possessed while within a magic circle. Nicki can be seen in a royal-looking outfit — because, Queen — complete with a Medusa-like crown. Watch the video below.

After the release of “7 Rings” two weeks ago, Ariana Grande faced accusations of plagiarism from every direction — and they were all credible. “7 Rings” does, in fact, sound like Soulja Boy’s “Pretty Boy Swag,” Princess Nokia’s “Mine,” and 2 Chainz’s “Spend It.”

One of my first observations about the “7 Rings” video is that the party house was strikingly similar to 2 Chainz’s trap house — it still isn’t clear if this was intentional, but I find it hard to imagine that it wasn’t. Fast forward to today and we now have 2 Chainz on the song’s remix.

Strategically speaking, it is a brilliant PR move that will quell a some of the accusations against Ariana — at least those coming from 2 Chainz fans. It would’ve been dope if Princess Nokia and Young Drako could hop on the track, but given the aggressive way that both artists called Ariana out, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

The “7 Rings” remix is as basic as they come. It’s just a 2 Chainz verse with some additional ad libs from Ariana. Check it out below.

Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up” is one of those songs that manages to be a baby-making slow jam and a club banger at the same damn time, and for that alone, it will go down in history.

Released in March 1991 and written by Elliot Straite, “I Wanna Sex You Up” gives us doo-wop-style vocals over a bouncy contemporary beat, and the result is pure musical magic. The song samples Betty Wright’s “Tonight is the Night” and Shuggie Otis’ “Strawberry Letter 23,” and includes soundbites from Doug E. Fresh’s “La Di Da Di.”

The song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, and has aged beautifully in the 28 years since its release. The video has also aged well in an ironic oh-what-a-time kinda way. Check it out below.

If I had to imagine a song made by a British DJ and white British man singing soulfully, it would probably sound like “Giant.” The song is so typical, and sometimes, that’s perfectly okay. The video — which, I might add, is also typical — features an angsty young man in a track suit who runs into the woods and eventually ends up in a mosh-pit-type situation with other people dressed in track suits. Fascinating stuff.

“Giant” is the first single from Calvin Harris upcoming album — his sixth LP. Watch the video below.

In late ’98, Blackstreet, Mya, Blinky Blink and Mase got together to give us a jam for the ages. “Take Me There,” a song from the Rugrats movie soundtrack, is proof that the truly talented can make a hit out of anything — the central melody is based on the cartoon’s theme song.

Much to my surprise, the song only peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100. I always assume that any song that I had in heavy rotation must have at least been a top 5 hit, but as it turns out, the American public doesn’t always like nice things. Enjoy this classic below.

J. Cole just released “Middle Child,” the first single from his upcoming album, The Off Season. Produced by T-Minus and Cole himself, the song’s title is an analogy for the rapper’s (self-proclaimed) position of being caught between two generations (“I’m dead in the middle of two generations, I’m little bro and big bro all at once”).

J. Cole does a fair amount of name-checking on the track, but the part that’s getting the most attention online is the rapper’s mention of Drake, who he acknowledges as a fellow legend. This is followed by what could only be considered a Kanye diss:

This watch came from Drizzy, he gave me a gift
Back when the rap game was prayin’ I’d diss
They act like two legends cannot coexist
But I’d never beef with a nigga for nothin’
If I smoke a rapper, it’s gon’ be legit
It won’t be for clout, it won’t be for fame
It won’t be ’cause my shit ain’t sellin’ the same
It won’t be to sell you my latest lil’ sneakers
It won’t be ’cause some nigga slid in my lane


Listen to “Middle Child” below.

“Happiness is the same price as red bottoms”


Ariana Grande is all about rings and things on the aptly titled “7 Rings,” which is the third single from her upcoming album, Thank U, Next — her fifth studio LP. The track is said to be based on a real-life event — according to reports, Ari bought engagement rings for herself and six of her closest friends after her breakup with Pete Davidson. The song was written that very day and even references that shopping trip.

The first two verses are sung to the tune of “Favorite Things” from Sound of Music, with Ariana singing about overcoming her tribulations with the help of retail therapy. She revels in materialism and brings her girls along for the ride.

Sonically, the song is very nü Beyoncé, especially on the third verse, which sounds like it could be something from Lemonade or Beyoncé. The video is trap-meets-Harajuku, with Ariana and a gaggle of girls partying in Japanese-inspired gear at a house that appears to be modeled after 2 Chainz’s famed trap house — complete with the pink finishing and black graffiti on the walls.

Overall, the song is no “Thank U, Next,” but it’s definitely something you can nod your head to. Check it out below.