MUSIC

The Best Artist Merchandise of 2020

Support your favorite artist in style.

As you probably know, the music industry is going through a period of massive transformation.

Thanks to streaming and internet piracy, artists are no longer making money through record sales. Instead, they have to depend on concert tickets and, of course, merchandise. While that's bad news for your favorite struggling indie band, it's good news for fans, because it means band merch has gotten incredibly cool.

Culture Feature

Drew Brees Exemplifies How NOT to Be a White Ally

The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.

Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.

"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."

This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.


Colin Kaepernick Kneeling Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality


Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.

But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?

Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?

When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.

After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.


Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.

Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.

Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.

For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.

MUSIC

Find what you're looking for on Record Store Day 2017

Here's a helpful list of some of the most exciting limited releases from artists including Prince, the Beatles, the Notorious B.I.G. and so many more

Record Store Day 2017 is on Saturday, April 22 (a.k.a. tomorrow) and the list of this year's records is full of limited releases and special editions. For this special tenth annual Record Store Day, Annie Clark (St. Vincent) is the ambassador. Previous holders of this prestigious position include Jack White, Josh Homme and Iggy Pop. Watch St. Vincent accept her ambassadorship to "Recorstorda" below:

The offerings each year are many and eclectic, so to help you find what's new and exciting, here is a list of the records and deals to look out for tomorrow morning (go early to get ahead of the line and snag that limited release before it's sold out!).

André 3000

Back in 2010, Nike ran a commercial during the NBA Finals featuring a cover of the Beatles' "All Together Now" by Outkast's André 3000. Now you can have his weird-fun cover on a 45 RPM 7" single with a new instrumental version as the B-side.

The Beatles

Speaking of the Beatles, they have a big anniversary coming up. And to honor Sgt. Pepper's 50th, they're releasing a 7" single, as they did in 1967 in anticipation of the album, featuring "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane."

David Bowie

1971: manager Tony Defries presses 500 promo LPs with David Bowie on side A, backed by Dana Gillespie on side B, to try for record deals for the new artists. This BOWPROMO white label album is returning as a faithful replica of the original, but with five Bowie songs on the B-side.

Danny Brown

From Atrocity Exhibition, Danny Brown is putting his hit, "Ain't It Funny," on vinyl with an a cappella version included on the A-side and on the back, his Adult Swim collaboration with Clams Casino, called "Worth It."

Miley Cyrus

Miley's Bangerz is almost four years old but this year, it's getting a "double hot pink vinyl set" for Record Store Day. Only 1300 are being printed, so pick up this limited release to feel extra special next time your shouting "Wrecking Ball" at your wreckord player.

Frank N Dank & Jay Dee

The Jay Dee Tapes come from the vaults of Frank N Dank, from their recordings with Jay Dilla in Detroit before he called himself Jay Dilla. On a 10" red vinyl pressing, hear three songs and, on the B-side, their instrumental versions.

Jane's Addiction

Snag this 4-track release of their massive hit, "Been Caught Stealing," as a replica of the original European 12". This is limited to 4000 copies worldwide and includes the original recording, a remix and their "L.A. Medley."

The Notorious B.I.G.

Part of the commemoration of the 20th anniversary of his death, Born Again is getting rereleased as a double LP on vinyl by Bad Boy Records. It debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 in 1999 but has been out of print for years. Buy one of 8000 copies worldwide.

Prince

Prince fans (everyone's a Prince fan, right?) are getting a reissue of his 1983 picture disc, "Little Red Corvette," out of print since the 80s. This 7" vinyl features the title song, backed by "1999." Also check out his "Record Store Day First" releases: Sign O The Times, I Wish U Heaven, Partyman, Pop Life, I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man and Batdance.

Tegan And Sara

The duo is offering two releases this RSD, including Under Feet Like Ours, a self-released debut under the artist name Sara and Tegan, and Back In Your Head Side by Side, a single featuring versions of the song by Tegan and Sara on one side and The Regrettes on the back.

The Sex Pistols

Never mind the bollocks—here's Anarchy in the U.K.: The U.K. and U.S. Singles. The singles box includes four U.K. singles and one U.S. single with some of the biggest hits from their debut album, like "Holidays in the Sun" and "God Save the Queen." They're only pressing 5000 worldwide.

Sia

Look for an exclusive RSD release of Sia's live Spotify Sessions on a 12" vinyl that were originally released last year. The sessions include songs from her albums This is Acting and 1000 Forms of Fear, like the incredible "Elastic Heart" and "Chandelier."

Soundtracks

Don't miss the movie songs and soundtracks that are also getting special treatment on RSD 2017. Lin Manuel-Miranda's Moana soundtrack will be highlighted on a single featuring Auli`i Cravalho's "How Far I'll Go" and Dwayne Johnson's "You're Welcome." Feel the nostalgia rush with a special edition double LP soundtrack to 1996's Michael Jordan/Looney Tunes comedy, Space Jam. Space Jam: Music From and Inspired By The Motion Picture includes songs from the film and inspired by it, by Salt N Pepa, Jay Z, Spin Doctors, Biz Markie, Busta Rhymes and more. And in celebration of Star Wars: A New Hope's 40th anniversary, look for a 10" vinyl featuring the "Main Title," "Throne Room" and "End Title" by the legendary John Williams.

Limited Run/Regional Focus

These records will be available in very small quantities and might not be distributed nationally, so arrive early and ask your friends at the record store for help finding these gems. Look for one of 750 7" singles of Blondie's "Long Time," from her new album Pollinator, and its B-side, "The Breaks," exclusive to this RSD release. Hudson Mohawke is offering Ded Sec, a collection of his original tracks for the soundtrack of the new game Watchdogs 2. Check out all of the local and limited releases, including Busta Rhymes' 12" Calm Down feat. Eminem.

RSD First

Don't forget to check out all of the new music being released at Record Store Day 2017 before it's out anywhere else. Look for music from Dave Matthews, the Flaming Lips, Grouplove, Lil Uzi Vert, Paul McCartney and Elvis Costello, Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and many others.

Bonus

Your favorite full-time hip hop geniuses and part-time jokesters, Run the Jewels, are offering a special RSD/RTJ record tote bag in blue recycled cotton with gold foil designs and 5-color print that looks like some crazy album artwork. 2,500 available: carry your treasure in style this Record Store Day.

Follow Record Store Day on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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