MUSIC

"Funeral" Is Just One Big Flex, but Lil Wayne Deserves It

The emcee's 13th album can be a slog, but it's filled with offerings that regularly remind us why he's still the greatest rapper alive.

On Lil Wayne's 24-track data dump Funeral, the legendary emcee uses its lethargic run-time for the sole purpose of flexing.

Moments of self-reflection are scarce, and while it's great to hear a refreshed Weezy craft a handful of new, ludicrous lines like, "Got Siri f*ckin' Alexa, me and my dawgs pull up in a Tesla," the 75-minute venture leaves little breathing room when ingested as a whole. Die-hard Wayne fans will enjoy the outing, as Wayne's signature braggadocio is in full force for a majority of the project. But similarly to Eminem's Music to Be Murdered By, Funeral is less an album and more a vessel for Wayne to merely demonstrate ostentation.

He uses his witty lyricism to rap about drugs, cars, money, sex, and not much else. He teases moments of self-reflection on tracks like "Dreams," only to aggressively say "just kidding" and continue the trend: "I had a dream I was broke, no diamond and no gold...I woke up and I screamed thank God it was just a dream! I live the American dream..." The never-ending braggadocio can become repetitive and exhausting, but Wayne's career-defining moments have always been when he decimates the microphone. He bounces effortlessly alongside Takeoff on "I Don't Sleep," "I Do It" is a surprisingly refreshing melting pot of Hip-Hop generations new and old, and "Mahogany" is a strong contender for "A Milli" part 2.

Ironically it's when Weezy does decide to lift his foot off the gas that the album truly suffers. "Trust Nobody," featuring a vanilla hook from the uber vanilla Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, and "Sights and Silencers" suffer from a similar cheesy dilemma. There is a stark amount of variety on the project, and it doesn't help that when Wayne does decide to switch it up the result is boring (although "Nevermind" brings back nostalgic memories of Tha Carter IV's "How To Love").

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But on "Bastard (Satan's Kid)" it seems to all come into balance. The track is a fleeting moment of haunting reflection from the greatest rapper alive and paints a disturbing portrait of the people that raised him. "Uncle used to say, 'Your daddy just too young to raise a kid,' Daddy used to treat my mama like they never made a kid," he raps over ghostly 808s. Wayne has been on top for the better part of a decade, but that decade has been consumed with vicious legal fights, personal heartbreaks, and crippling addiction. Through it all, he has prospered, and it's a brief reminder, either to the listeners or himself, that he's a child of trauma, that he's always fighting for respect he is regularly told he doesn't deserve. The least we can do is let him flex his chops. "It's been quite a journey," he says as the track fades out.

Funeral

Culture Feature

Dear White People: AAVE Is an Actual Dialect, Not Your "Stan Culture"

Using a Black dialect isn't a meme—it's cultural appropriation.

As Black Lives Matter protests have rightfully taken the world by storm over the past couple of months, we're long overdue for thorough evaluations of just how often aspects of Black heritage have been co-opted by white audiences.

It should be obvious that much of fashion and music as we know it today was invented by Black people. We (hopefully) all know by now that we can no longer accept Blackface and use of the n-word by non-Black people as the norm—and Internet users have tried "canceling" offenders in the public eye, with varying degrees of success.

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Culture Feature

Why Does Chrissy Teigen Keep Dragging John Legend?

We're not saying Chrissy Teigen bullies John Legend... But if she does, he probably likes it.

John Legend has received a distinction no man has ever earned.

Sure, he's achieved a full EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony), he stars in an Emmy Award-winning TV show, and he's only the fourth person of color to be named People's "Sexiest Man Alive," but his most impressive credential by far is having Chrissy Teigen as his wife.

"My secret is out," she tweeted in 2019. "I have fulfilled my dream of having boned @people's sexiest man alive!! an honor!!!!"

Legend is arguably a trailblazer in this new avenue; as a baby-faced 40-year-old, his new "sexy" honor tips the balance in the eternal battle between being "cute" or "hot" but never a hybrid of both. Legend commented right away on the vacuous nature of the "Sexiest Man" title, "Everyone's going to be picking me apart to see if I'm sexy enough to hold this title," he told People. I'm [also] following Idris Elba, which is not fair and is not nice to me!"

No, it's not nice. But with Chrissy Teigen as his wife, Legend knows better than to expect niceties; because it's clear that no one, absolutely no one, is better at dragging John Legend than his wife.

Twitter

John Legend: The Icon, the Meme, the Aardvark

The Internet's love of the "John Legend looks like Arthur" meme doesn't compare to Chrissy Teigen's. She's returned the public's attention to it when it simply wasn't being appreciated enough, especially in reference to their daughter. Once upon a time, it seems Legend could appreciate the joke, even dressing up as the children's cartoon for a commercial once. But marriage is long and arduous, and not even eternal vows can't prepare you for having the Queen of Twitter as a spouse. Really, John Legend's exasperation in his wife's Instagram comments is the delicious coda to every little dig.


Chrissy Teigen: John Legend's Worst Fear

Shortly after being crowned the most symmetrical face in mainstream media, Legend guest-hosted the Ellen DeGeneres Show. Inevitably, during one of the interludes, Chrissy Teigen popped out of the fake piece of furniture that's always lying around Ellen's set so nearly every celebrity guest can be caught on camera having a moment of pure, animalistic fear. This is John Legend's fear face:

Chrissy Teigen Scares Guest Host John Legend www.youtube.com


Even scared, he looks so carefree. How? I don't trust it.



After bantering about the uncomfortable logistics of sitting in a box so you can yell "boo" at your husband, whom you probably live with and could do a better job of scaring the next time he's emerging from the shower, Teigen seemed to believe that her husband genuinely had no idea she was in the studio. Teigen asked him, "You didn't hear me banging around the box?" "No, I did not," Legend answered. Teigen lamented to the audience, "This helps because he's very unaware of anything around him. Like we get in fights on the airplane and stuff. He'll hit people with his bag. And I'm like apologize!"

Chrissy Teigen Isn't a Huge John Legend Fan

What makes that Ellen scare even better is that Chrissy Teigen seems to alternate between flippantly sharing intimate details about her and John's love life and also not knowing pretty basic, very public information about her own husband. Why? Because she's busy. No, she never saw Selma, despite her husband taking home his first Oscar for writing the moving score. Why? Because she didn't feel like it, mind your business!

Chrissy Teigen Doesn't Know Jack About John Legend www.youtube.com


Chrissy Teigen: Not Afraid to Challenge Idris Elba

In order to clearly communicate his deep feelings of inferiority compared to Idris Elba, John Legend took to Twitter to compare a picture of himself at 17 to the aesthetic pleasure that is the one and only Idrissa Akuna Elba, OBE. To her credit, Teigen wrote an encouraging response that magnanimously pointed to the fact that we all have old photos of ourselves in which we look like a half-transformed Animorph beast...except Idris Elba. "Yeah but let's see an @idriselba pic from 1995 (prob still very hot)," she wrote.

And indeed, Elba accepted her challenge and posted a photo of himself as a smoking hot twenty-something year old in 1995, which at a certain point is honestly tantamount to an attack on society, because who needs to look like this?




Yes, Chrissy Teigen tried, but must you, Idris Elba?! One day I'm going to start a movement to dismantle beauty biases in Hollywood and all of American culture just so I can shame people for being so hot. Oh, what? That's already a toxic take that's historically targeted women who vote and write and have senses of humor while daring to look better than an unwashed bridge troll? Much like former Sports Illustrated model-turned-author-turned-beloved-TV-personality Chrissy Teigen? who has the honor of being the target of Trump's Twitter rampages??? Nevermind, then. Clearly, Chrissy Teigen bullies John Legend, the "Sexiest Man Alive" in 2019, as an ironic commentary on beauty biases and shame that pervades American media. I get it now.