Here are some new Juneteenth releases worth noting
John Legend surprised the masses this morning with the release of Bigger Love, his first release in four years.
Meanwhile, Tiana Taylor unveiled The Album, an expansive powerhouse that builds on the sleek R&B melodies of 2018's critically lauded K.T.S.E. Justine Skye also released her highly-anticipated album BARE WITH ME (The Album) to already glowing reviews.
For those who are staying far removed from the growing feud between Noname and J. Cole, there remains plenty of fresh hip-hop releases. Tee Grizzley released his first work since his aunt was gunned down last year, and Curren$y returned with a smooth collaboration alongside 808 Mafia's Fuse. All the while, Pi'erre Bourne released part 4 of his Life of Pi'erre series, and The Black Eyed Peas released their reggaeton-infused Translation with features from Latin icons like J. Balvin, Ozuna, Nicky Jam, Shakira, and Maluma.
Famous Dex<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="728d9d6a2c931437675de43c49955378"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VmS6Z6NCj4A?start=405&rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Newly sober and healthy, Famous Dex surprised fans with the underground release of a new mixtape <em>Where's Dexter</em>. The rapper's first release since 2018's <em>Dex Meets Dexter</em>; Dex sounds refreshed and energized. He's not nearly as rambunctious as he once was and instead appears calm and leisurely. The result is a mixtape that's brief and easily digestible, with well-placed features from Warhol.SS, DC2Trill, and others that elevate the project's glossy vibe.<br></p>
Luh Soldier<iframe src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:album:0HMKdLkx9ehZg0tOlXbiwg" id="ae076" frameborder="0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f3a6c53f5ec5c80e63a91cee9d555d41" expand="1" height="480" width="100%"></iframe><p>Raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Luh Soldier is just 20 years old but comes across gruff and hardened as he crafts contemplative trap music. On his viral hit "Securing The Bag," he sounds like a muzzled bulldog, clawing to escape and let loose on anyone in his path: "Securing the bag, I'm not asking for sh*t, yeah I had to get up and go get it." On <em>Thug Luv</em>, he sounds motivated and free, finally able to sink his teeth into his opponents. The mixtape is brash and snappy, with Luh Soldier doing all the heavy lifting without a single feature. </p>
Young Chris<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="59a582ef779f37093a9325c1a05f640f"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KSbCxIblya8?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Despite a long-standing career in hip-hop, Young Chris faded into obscurity after a slew of underwhelming solo releases. But on "Yellow Flag," the rapper attacks the harrowing DJMoney instrumental with the vivacious energy of a young hustler with something to prove. With a compelling feature from Wale, Young Chris presents himself on his new release as an artist ready to redefine himself entirely. </p>
Trash Talk<iframe src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:album:0ItYRiClyzKlkRoTOMWywV" id="4bad0" frameborder="0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="526d89c2c0fdc5e549ced9512b2fccd4" expand="1" height="480" width="100%"></iframe><p>The Sacramento screamo quartet's new project <em>Squalor</em> is a brief but heavy-hitting 8-minute EP. Produced exclusively by Kenny Beats, the project is crunchy and ferocious, and an unapologetic call to war. "Drop the old propaganda, a boot to lick, knee-deep in sh*t, I commit to total warfare" growls Lee Spielman. The EP also finds Kenny Beats traversing new territory in his producing, mastering the gurgles and crunches that have come to define the band.</p>
StaySolidRicky<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0754b0d2bb6f6783240b36f2a75d5cae"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/tijtI1fMTM4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Marked by many as the next young hip-hop superstar, StaySolidRicky has had an amazing 2020, and continues on his upward trajectory with "Vacant Heart." While more melodic than his breakout "Party Girl," the new single has all the makings of another viral hit. StaySolidRicky somehow strikes a balance of being completely sincere while being innately goofy. "They say I'm accomplished; I feel like I lost it," he raps right after he told a girl to drop it low "like a midget." It's hard to see where StaySolidRicky will fit into such a bloated genre, but if he stays on course, the journey will be fascinating to watch.</p>
Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.
Villains always have the best outfits.
From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.
Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com
But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.
Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.
Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.
Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com
Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.
As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.
History of Nazi Chic
For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.
The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.
Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it
Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.
The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com
Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.
Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.
Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com
Nazi Chic in Asia
Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.
A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.
In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.
OF COURSE. i.imgur.com
That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.
In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.
So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?
The answer is not so black and white.
On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.
But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.
Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.
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It's a quiet #NewMusicFriday, but there remains plenty of fantastic new music if you look closely.
On a relatively quiet New Music Friday, a slew of under appreciated acts seized the moment and released compelling work.
On a magnetic new release from hip-hop veteran Sy Ari Da Kid, the emcee experimented with R&B and charted new territory, and 13-year-old prodigy YNW Bslime returned with a carefree freestyle. Meanwhile, Young Thug protege Lil Keed started the next chapter of his explosive career, and Newark rapper TSU Surf released a fantastic new project with an eclectic range of features. Here are the underground releases that deserve your attention.