MUSIC

If You Hate PARTYNEXTDOOR's New Songs, You're Wrong

The two new tracks are some of the best songs of his career.

It is impossible to escape the influence of PARTYNEXTDOOR.

His ghostwriting and production talent is unprecedented, as he's created some of the biggest songs in the last five years, from Rihanna's "Work" and "Sex With Me" to DJ Khaled's "Wild Thoughts" and "Shining." He is one of the most talented and sought after ghostwriters in music, but he has yet to have a hit that he's both written and performed. His albums are vastly experimental and have garnered a rabid fanbase, but his self-titled trilogy gathered very little mainstream attention, except for a handful of tracks boosted by a Drake co-sign. "I'm 23, but I feel like 43," he said in a Snapchat, "that's how much I write for other people." Party has been very open about his frustrations, so when he completely disappeared for almost three years, his already enthusiastic fans became frantic with anticipation. They knew that when he finally returned, it'd be alongside a new big hit.

PARTYNEXTDOOR - Loyal feat. Drake [Official Audio] www.youtube.com

While "Loyal" and "The News" left fans divided, it should be noted that this is some of the best music PartyNextDoor has ever made. He's cut down on the heavy-handed self-indulgence seen on P3 and returned with crisp tracks that breathe and move completely on their own. He has left the ghostly autotune at the door and allowed his natural vocals to shine through.

"Loyal" finds the singer at his happiest, which has left the internet feeling annoyed. Optimism is definitely off-brand for Party, but when a singer becomes lauded for being a depressed womanizer, it's clearly time to switch things up. The result isn't quite the hit PND fans were praying for, but both singles are a step in a very promising direction.

PARTYNEXTDOOR - The News [Official Audio] www.youtube.com

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

Fragmented Reviews for Every Song on "Yandhi"

An incomplete review for an incomplete album

Kanye West's gospel album Jesus Is King may have been delayed indefinitely, but he's certainly not keeping quiet.

September 3rd saw the release of Francis and the Lights' atmospheric "Take Me to the Light," which Kanye appeared on alongside Bon Iver. On Sunday, Kanye performed with a gospel choir in a church in Jamaica, Queens. And today, nine of his unreleased songs surfaced on the Internet—as iTunes ringtones.

Take Me to the Light (feat. Bon Iver and Kanye West) www.youtube.com

In September 2018, Kim Kardashian announced that her husband's next album would be called Yandhi. That album never appeared and was eventually scrapped, or so we thought. But as of today, people can listen to 26-second excerpts of nine songs from the album via the ringtones section of the iTunes store. To own the tracks, you'll need to fork over $1.29 for each.

In the age of streaming and texting, does anyone call each other or use ringtones anymore? It's hard to say what Kanye's up to, but then again, he's been a reliable wild card for years.

There is heavy speculation that the songs were all leaked by someone other than Kanye, meaning that it's possible that these songs reached us illegally. Regardless, this could be the last collection of secular material we ever hear from West, judging by his recent declaration that he'll "only do gospel music" from now on.

So, to match the nature of the brief samples we were given, here's a short, incomplete review of each song:

The first track, "New Body," places a punchy, vintage hip-hop beat and record-scratch sound over a recording of a flute. The song, which features Ty Dolla $ign and Nicki Minaj, leaked in July. Its release comes after Nicki announced her possible retirement from music, so these might be the last bars we hear from either of them for a while.

Kanye West Ft. Nicki Minaj, Ty Dolla $ign - New Body www.youtube.com

"Slave Name" places a triumphant electric guitar solo over chill-inducing choral melodies and flickers of electric piano. In its emotional intensity, it resembles the iconic climax of "Runaway" (though it never quite reaches that level of spiritual grandeur, but then again, it never gets the chance to). The far-too-short fragment now available on iTunes appeared in several versions as a leak and samples the song "Wally Wider" by Delicate Stevens.

kanye - slave name (extended) www.youtube.com

"80 Degrees" puts a trap beat over synthy flourishes and slurred falsetto vocals. You can make out the statement, "I can walk on the water," which goes well with Kanye's new born-again religious convictions. Kanye previously teased the song in a promo video, but this is the first we've heard of its release since then.

KANYE WEST- 80 DEGREES (HURRICANE) FULL LEAK www.youtube.com

"Alien" is all lush, stratospheric synths and spaced-out woodwinds, which seem to be the defining characteristic of this album. Opening with the line, "I won't let them get the best of me," this song is reminiscent of the wide-eyed aggression of the Graduate. It leaked in full in July, but it's tough to find online, so you might be stuck with the ringtone for now.

On "Law of Attraction," Wyoming's newest resident begins with a chorus made up of muddled harmonies. It then veers into a rap verse over what sounds like a car door alarm (which has annoyed some fans so much that one made a version without the beeps, though some firmly stand by the beeps). This song was also leaked in full in July and is sometimes called "Chakras/Law of Attraction." It's a seductive collage of futuristic sounds and autotune, the kind of thing that, ultimately, only Kanye could make.

YANDHI - LAW OF ATTRACTION (WITHOUT BEEP) www.youtube.com

"The Storm" is smooth and glossy, with R&B elements that are almost reminiscent of Drake. "Don't troll yourself," the lyrics say. "Girl you owe it to yourself." Well, that's good advice, but the song itself unfortunately features the late, disgraced rapper XXXTentancion (alongside Ty Dolla $ign), making it somewhat hard to listen to. It does contain the poetic couplet, "We began after the storm inside / leaving then it's just the morning light," but as to whether its lyrical merits outweigh the presence of XXXTentacion (and Kanye's fraught persona, for that matter), that's for listeners to decide.

"We Got Love" features Teyana Taylor. Kanye debuted it on SNL in September 2018, then released the full track on SoundCloud in November, and it can be listened to in full online. It's an ode to success as a protest to struggle. "Love is the new money," goes the chorus—a rallying cry for today's world if there ever was one. A voiceover recording at the end goes, "You can have all the money in the world...but if you can't be a person of integrity while having all these things, then what does it mean? Your value is internal." One would wonder if Kim Kardashian believes this. Regardless, the song seems to indicate the presence of a newly inspired, enlightened Kanye.

Kanye West - We Got Love (Feat. Teyana Taylor) www.youtube.com

"Bye Bye" leaked in July (under the name "Bye Bye Baby") alongside "Law of Attraction." It was the third song on an early album tracklist. It's about overdosing, excess, UFOs, and refusing to take one's meds; and in its chaotic energy, it's most similar of ye and the singles that came out last summer.

As songs like "Bye Bye" highlight, Kanye has clearly struggled a lot. If religion is a way for him to make peace with the world and his own mind, and especially if it gets him to renounce his troublesome political viewpoints, we should all be here for it—even if it means that the best we'll get of Kanye West's secular repertoire are 26-second glimpses.

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