It's like the first two-thirds of one of those Chappelle's Show "When Keeping it Real Goes Wrong" skits. Peter Rosenberg, Hot 97 radio DJ and esteemed New York hip-hop paragon, got his station in a bit of hot water yesterday when his insulting comments about a certain Nicki Minaj single (“I know there are some chicks in here waiting to sing along with ‘Starships’ later...Fuck that bullshit. I’m here to talk about real hip hop shit.”) at the station's Summer Jam music festival led to Young Money head honcho Lil Wayne forcing Nicki to pull the plug on her performance. You'd expect the fallout today to probably include a contrite apology from Rosenberg for his faux pas, probably blaming heat stroke and/or prohibitive water prices for his poorly-thought-out comments.
Not so fast, FM listeners. Turns out that not only is Rosenberg not apologizing, he's doubling down on his prior comments. He explained on Hot 97 this morning:
Hey, I went out there, I was hosting, I was in the zone of doing real hip hop...I just said what came to mind and everyone made a big deal about it… Now the Barbz are all hitting me and asking me to apologize. There’s a get-me-to-apologize movement, to which I can say… I’m absolutely not apologizing because I didn’t do anything wrong...I said the same thing I’ve been saying — let’s keep it real, Nicki — I have been saying this for six months. I’m not gonna change my stance ’cause I’m at Summer Jam…
Rosenberg also expressed his opinion that Nicki's response to his call-out should have been to "[get] on that stage and [make] a movie.”
There are a number of issues to unpack here, obviously. First off, there's the question of whether or not Nicki deserves such scrutiny for releasing an obviously Top 40-baiting single such as "Starships"—and naturally, as a pop blog, we're inclined to side with her, and say that "Real Hip-Hop" can mean many things and just because Nicki releases a song with big sing-along hooks and RedOne production doesn't make the song antithetical to the Hot 97 M.O., nor does it mean that Nicki is turning her back on her roots. (Nicki's labelmates Lil Wayne and Drake have both been guilty of releasing similarly non-RHH singles but never seem to get the same flak for it.)
And even as Hot 97 may spurn a song like "Starships," they've certainly embraced plenty of other Roman Reloaded cuts—"Champion," "I Am Your Leader" and especially "Beez in the Trap"—closer to their general line of thinking. So it doesn't really make sense to us to call out one of Nicki's songs when much of her other discography still provides your station's bread-and-butter—and it makes especially little sense to do so while she's hours away from headlining your own festival where you booked her as a marquee artist.
But more importantly than whether Nicki "deserves" to be chastised for her un-hip-hopness, there's another pressing question here: Is it really worth it for Rosenberg to risk his career defending his stance? Regardless of whether or not he's justified, he's putting his station in an incredibly awkward position here by forcing them to choose whether or not to back him, and risk permanently alienating Nicki (and the entire Young Money label by extension) in the process. It seems to us like if Hot 97 is put in the middle of a beef between one of their dozens of on-air DJs and the most powerful label in hip-hop, it's gonna be pretty hard for them to side with the former. Is having defended the tenets of "Real Hip Hop" gonna be comfort enough for Rosenberg when he gets downgraded to a volunteer late-night DJ on WNYU?
We do admire Rosenberg a little for sticking to his guns, however misdirected they may be—he's clearly a man of principle, for better or worse. But as fans of his less musically conservative moments, we hope somebody at Hot 97 gives him a gag order before he really sets himself on fire just to protect the memory of EPMD and Boogie Down Productions. Oh, and maybe silence Funkamster Flex while you're at it, too:
Plus celebrities react to Nigerian protests.
Young people across Nigeria have been pouring into the streets for the last two weeks to protest police brutality, specifically the controversial special police force known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Tension came to a head on Tuesday when armed forces fired on protestors in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, who were out past the state-mandated curfew. According to AP News, "Police also fired tear gas at one point, and smoke could be seen billowing from several areas in the city's center. Two private TV stations were forced off the air at least temporarily as their offices were burned."
Not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
October 21, 2020 marks the third annual International Pronouns Day.
Created by an independent board and first observed in 2018, it's one of those small commemorative holidays that trends on Twitter in hopes of drawing attention to a pressing social issue, like International Women's Day (March 8th) or the ever so serious National Taco Day (October 4).
But Pronouns Day in particular "seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace." The organization's website further describes, "Referring to people by the pronouns they determine for themselves is basic to human dignity. Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people's multiple, intersecting identities."
But in the words of nonbinary activist and Trevor Project's Head of Advocacy and Government Afairs, Sam Brenton, "Pronouns are hard." Never before have pronouns been scrutinized as closely as they are in 2019 for their power to (in)validate or accurately describe something as fluid as gender identity. In fact, it was only this year that the Merriam-Webster Dictionary expanded the definition of "they" "to refer to a single person whose gender identity is nonbinary" (thus codifying a long history in English language of using "they" to refer to a singular non-gendered entity).
‘Everyone has the responsibility to be respectful.’ — The @TrevorProject’s Sam Brinton is explaining why pronouns a… https://t.co/pMMO8KRvBR— NowThis (@NowThis)1571253180.0
But throwing an additional wrench in the works is the fact that not all non-binary people prefer gender-neutral pronouns.
Take me, for instance: Despite having female biology, I couldn't pass a lie detector test saying I'm a "woman." But my pragmatic, Puritan family is still endearingly confused by the idea of "liberal arts," let alone the notion of gender fluidity. And I'd rather share a communal language with them than do the emotional and mental labor of re-orienting their worldview for them. Plus, I have the privilege of passing as female without feeling too, too, terribly dysphoric (which non-binary people can definitely suffer from, despite not identifying as trans).
But enough about me, look at Queer Eye's beloved Jonathan Van Ness. While he's been outspoken about being genderqueer, gay, and HIV positive, he prefers he/him pronouns. "The older I get, the more I think that I'm nonbinary," Van Ness said. "I'm gender nonconforming. Like, some days I feel like a man, but then other days I feel like a woman." As he told Out magazine, he doesn't identify as a man, but he does prefer "he/him/his" pronouns. In his view, those pronouns don't detract from or contradict his non-binary identity, because gender is not about simple binaries between masculine and feminine identifiers. "Any opportunity I have to break down stereotypes of the binary, I am down for it, I'm here for it," he said. "I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide. It's this social construct that I don't really feel like I fit into the way I used to."
On the other hand, last month non-binary singer Sam Smith announced that their preferred pronouns are "they/them." Smith posted to Instagram, "I've decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM ❤ after a lifetime of being at war with my gender I've decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out." People like Smith and Trevor Project's Sam Brenton simply feel more validated, seen, heard, and true to themselves with gender-neutral pronouns. Smith wrote, "I'm so excited and privileged to be surrounded by people that support me in this decision but I've been very nervous about announcing this because I care too much about what people think but f*ck it!"
Most importantly, as pretty much every non-binary person and activist is aware, changing cultural norms is hard. While LGBTQ+ activism is inspired and passionate and dedicated to expanding human rights to all gender identities, we all know that changing society's entire understanding of gender and pronoun usage is about slowly opening minds. As Smith wrote, "I understand there will be many mistakes and mis gendering but all I ask is you please please try. I hope you can see me like I see myself now. Thank you." Happy Pronouns Day to you/him/her/they/(f)aer/zim.