Please let me in?
If you weren't aware, Frank Ocean's Blond was just ranked the number one album of the decade by Pitchfork—a well-deserved accolade.
Blond is a transcendent masterpiece, a work that is musically and lyrically innovative while also packing the kind of emotional punch that always leaves me seeing stars.
Tonight, somewhere in New York City, Frank Ocean will be hosting his first club night. If you haven't already received the event invite, you won't, as this is a super-exclusive kind of thing. I'm still waiting for my invitation, but that's probably for the best, because I think if I were in the same room as Frank Ocean, I'd pass out or dissolve into a pool of glitter and tears. I know he says, "I'm just a guy, not a god" in "Futura Free," but I'm not sure. I think if God wrote a song, it would probably sound something like that track.
Entitled PrEP+, the club will be 80s-themed. It's named after the pre-exposure prophylaxis drug used by people at risk of contracting HIV. According to the press release, the club will be a "homage to what could have been if the drug PrEP... had been invented" during the 1980s club scene. PrEP was first adapted in 2012 and is available only by prescription.
By the 1980s, HIV and AIDS had reached epidemic levels in America, and people with these illnesses were often dehumanized and refused treatment. Associated with queerness and poverty, HIV/AIDS was largely ignored and heavily stigmatized. In order for the government to allocate the funds needed to search for a cure, mass protests had to occur.
Though treatments are available today, people with HIV still face discrimination and stigma, and many don't realize that even people who have HIV have the option to become "undetectable" with treatment. That's why an event like Ocean's is so important—it emphasizes that there are ways to prevent and cure HIV, and it reminds us that no one should have to live in fear of it or of their preferences for how to love and experience joy.
Club life was a vital part of queer and alternative culture in the 1980s. Queer clubs were rare places where gay people and others who didn't fit into mainstream society could go to let loose and be themselves. Though many queer nightclubs have become heavily corporatized (or infiltrated by straight, often wealthy, and white people) beginning with Rudy Giuliani's moral craze around nightclubs in the 1980s, it seems that Ocean's club will be dedicated to pulling from the radical spirit of 1980s club culture while putting a futuristic and idealistic spin on the problems and struggles that plagued those years.
Among its rules, Ocean's club reads that "consent is mandatory" and says there will be "zero tolerance for racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, ableism or any form or discrimination." Sadly, no photography will be permitted. Okay, maybe I really do want to be there. But as I listen to Nights for the thousandth time on the train home tonight, I'm going to be happy just knowing that somewhere in this city, Frank Ocean is dancing.
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"Better late than never" may not apply in this case...
On Saturday, in a strange celebration of Independence Day, rapper, producer, and sneaker mogul Kanye West announced his intention to run for president in 2020.
As in, this year. Right now.
Of course, this news comes well past the filing deadline for independent candidates in several major states—which means that unless a political party randomly decides to nominate him, Kanye's name won't appear on those ballots. As deadlines in other states approach—with little apparent effort to gather the petition signatures required—Kanye is officially joining the long, proud history of vanity presidential campaigns. Unfortunately, that's a lot more dangerous than it sounds.
We must now realize the promise of America by trusting God, unifying our vision and building our future. I am runni… https://t.co/MySzN3vjIB— ye (@ye)1593909493.0
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Pretty much anyone else...
We've heard about it for months now, but for those of you that live somewhere other than America, Maroon 5 – along with Big Boi and Travis Scott – are set to perform at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show this Sunday.
People weren't happy with the band saying yes so quickly, because of the whole Colin Kaepernick thing; and when given the opportunity to answer to some of the brewing controversies, Maroon 5 canceled their pre-performance press conference, and ignored the conflict all together rather than using their pop culture influence to try and hold the NFL accountable. "The spectacle is the music," frontman Adam Levine said in an interview following the cancellation. "We wanted to bring it back to a time when it was a little more simple when the focus was the connection to the songs." I won't even get into how entitled and lame that statement is.
Unless you're a tween, chances are you haven't "connected" to a Maroon 5 song since "Sunday Morning." But after Rihanna, Jay-Z, and Cardi B all reportedly turned down the performance to stand in solidarity with Kaepernick, I imagine Maroon 5, the whitest, most-overproduced pop machine on the planet, was an easy-sell considering they have no idea what it's like to be oppressed. Even Travis Scott and Big Boi made the NFL donate half a million dollars to a social justice charity before agreeing to perform. (For the record, Maroon 5 did this too, but only after coming under fire for cancelling their press conference, so they don't get a pass here.) Regardless, this all feels like one big missed opportunity, and it's going to be hard to watch these acts perform without thinking about their controversial decision to play. Here are a few acts we would have rather seen tackle the halftime show if the NFL just, you know, gave a damn.
1. Kendrick Lamar
I mean, do I really need to make much of a case here? The To Pimp A Butterfly icon is one of the most politically-charged artists in the world, and considering how thought-provoking and stunning his previous award-show performances have been, the Super Bowl halftime show would have been legendary. Considering the circumstances, he probably would have laughed at the offer before turning it down, but one can dream.
2. Frank Ocean
Again, I don't really need to say much here. Frank Ocean is one of the most emotive singer/songwriters on the planet, and most people connect with his music on an almost metaphysical level. Since his teachings on love and acceptance serve as a driving force behind his music, a Super Bowl performance from him would have made us all feel a little more connected to one another, which is something we desperately need.
Whether she knows it or not, SZA has become a commanding force in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Her preachings of self-love and acceptance, her vulnerable lyrics, and her ability to dissect the messiness of young relationships would have made for a heartwarming Super Bowl performance.
4. Childish Gambino
This is America? Live? In front of the leaders of the NFL? In front of all those who want to see justice for Kaepernick? It would never happen, but boy would it be epic if it did.
5. Against Me!
With Laura Jane Grace representing everything that is Rock and Roll in the world, an Against Me! performance at the Super Bowl would easily be the most talked about show for years to come. Can you imagine watching them perform Transgender Dysmorphia Blues in front of the NFL heads? We can.
Mackenzie Cummings-Grady is a creative writer who resides in the Brooklyn area, Mackenzie's work has previously appeared in The Boston Globe, Billboard, and Metropolis Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @mjcummingsgrady.
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