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ATL Untrapped


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I didn’t realize I had a different experience attending a public school in Atlanta than other people throughout the country until I became an adult. Until then, I assumed everyone had a principle that played D4L’s “Laffy Taffy” throughout the hallways as the end-of-the-day bell rang. I figured celebrities such as Fabo and David Banner came to everyone’s school.

I credit growing up in Atlanta for my passion for music and entertainment. This is what spurred me to become a writer. For Mauie the King Jr., it’s what inspired him to become a rapper. “I started producing [music] in 8th grade,” says the producer born Kamau Austin, who turns 26 years old on May 29. “I started taking my career seriously around 19.

Ahead of releasing a new project this summer, Mauie is hosting a festival to spotlight local indie artists who don’t fit into the mold Atlanta’s urban artists are typically placed into. MTK&Co. takes place May 31-June 2, at Galleria 314, just off Huff Road in Northwest Atlanta. The three-day festival highlights artists who prefer to stand out, rather than conforming to genre conventions. Where larger festivals such as One MusicFest, A3C, and Music Midtown blend local acts with superstar headliners, MTK&Co. is all about highlighting artists who are making waves on the local underground scene, performing regularly at popular events such as Bonfire ATL.

In 2016, Mauie hosted the first MTK&Co. at the Mammal Gallery. It was a single day event that drew a crowd of about 300 attendees. Since then, the festival has continually expanded. This year, Mauie anticipates 250-300 people attending each day.

Performers on this year’s lineup include Boregard, MariTrustMe, Johnny Apollo, Brax, Neila, and Nai Br.xx. Mauie headlines May 31 and June 1. The June 2 lineup is being promoted as a surprise, and the headliner has not yet been announced.

When I was exploring my love for creative writing as a pre-teen, penning remakes of songs by artists such as T-Pain and Rihanna, and writing fanfiction at lunch, Mauie the King Jr. was doing the same. At the time, I didn’t know this. Although we both attended Sandtown Middle School and hung out with the same crowd, back then, we never discussed our desire to infiltrate the music industry.

In fact, it wasn’t until I saw a picture of the rapper, who has been gaining attention locally for a few years now, that I even realized I knew him.

Mauie released his first project, Mixed Feelings, in 2013. The rapper hasn’t offered up a new project in more than three years, but in December he unveiled a music video for “Vibe.” Painted in blue, Mauie’s appearance suggests he’s an artist from another planet, while the song’s lyrics and production are an obvious nod to one of the rapper’s favorite artists, Andre 3000. Mauie credits The Love Below half of OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/The Love Below with helping him realize he wanted to be a musician. The video for “Vibe” stars Keypsiia Gipp, the daughter of Dungeon Family’s Big Gipp, and Joi Gilliam.

“I would like to bring hope instead of winning a Grammy,” Mauie raps on the song.

During our interview, the conversation turns to Kanye West’s recent antics and whether or not artists should have a social and political responsibility. “I blame the consumer,” he says about the recent controversy surrounding West claiming to support President Donald Trump. “They don’t ask for much. You can’t be mad at Kanye because you still support him after he does it.”

Mauie hopes to use his passion for music and politics to “change the world for people of color,” especially in Atlanta. During a screening for “Vibe,” at Plaza Theatre, the rapper encouraged donations at the door, which went to a charity in Southwest Atlanta.

For Mauie, using his music to inspire people, and speaking about gentrification in the city, as well as how Atlanta can grow while maintaining its culture are one in the same. We didn’t realize it back then, but these are the values that we were learning growing up in southwest Atlanta.


Read Jewel Wicker’s Atlanta Untrapped column every week at www.creativeloafing.com/ATL-Untrapped.

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Article

Sunday May 6, 2018 10:55 am EDT
The three-day MTK&Co. fest fosters young Atlanta rap and R&B | more...
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Atlanta’s summer schedule is packed with musical events, but with so much going on it’s easy to find yourself with an overwhelming case of analysis paralysis. Don’t worry, CL has you covered. This comprehensive festival guide serves as your tool for deciding which Atlanta music fest is right for you. Below is a long distance look at the highest calibur musical blowouts Atlanta has to offer over the coming year. There’s something for rockers, metalheads, ravers, and festival junkies alike. Pick your favorite, or check ’em all out.

SHAKY KNEES/SHAKY BEATS

Atlanta’s summer festival season kicks off with two of the most celebrated gatherings in the Southeast. Shaky Knees and Shaky Beats each offer three days of music stacked with lineups that hit all the right notes. Renowned acts Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age, and the National headline Shaky Knees, joined by Fleet Foxes, Courtney Barnett, Cake, and more artists that cover an array of genres. Shaky Beats comes out of the gate strong with a lineup featuring scores of cutting-edge hip-hop and electronic music acts, featuring headliners Marshmello, Zedd, and Kygo, along with Ludacris, Playboy Carti, and Seven Lions. Both festivals set up shop in Central Park: Shaky Knees is set for May 4-6 and Shaky Beats May 11-14. Single-day tickets for Shaky Knees are $99+ fees. Three-day passes are $189 + Fees. But don’t forget, if you get that Shaky Knees logo tattooed on your body the festival is free for you. Single-day tickets for Shaky Beats are $95 + fees, and three-day passes are $179 + fees. www.shakykneesfestival.com and www.shakybeatsfestival.com.

ATLANTA JAZZ FESTIVAL

The 41st annual Atlanta Jazz Festival returns with a full day dedicated to groups led by women. Saturday boasts performances by Anat Cohen Quartet, Grammy-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves, and Thumbscrew, featuring avant-garde guitarist Mary Halvorson. On Sunday, pianist Jon Batiste (“The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”) leads the Dap-Kings. Post-bop trio the Bad Plus, and the Latin Jazz All Stars also perform. Free. 12:30 p.m. May 26-27 www.atlanta.net/events/atlanta-jazz-festival.

CANDLER PARK MUSIC + FOOD FESTIVAL

To celebrate a decade-long run, the annual Candler Park Music and Food Festival returns June 1-2 — two days packed with a formidable lineup of music, food, art, and fun in Candler Park. Friday’s lineup includes performances by Lettuce, Keller Williams’ PettyGrass ft. the Hillbenders, and Larkin Poe, while Saturday features performances by Gov’t Mule, Houndmouth, and Susto. Both days bring food vendors, including Sweet Auburn BBQ, Island Noodles, and Makara Mediterranean, as well as cocktails, field games, an artists market, and more. $30-$80. June 1-2. Candler Park. 1500 McLendon Ave. www.candlerparkmusicfestival.com.

TUNES FROM THE TOMBS

Historic Oakland Cemetery opens its gates once again, welcoming festival goers to one of the city’s classiest day gatherings. For eight years the famous cemetery has offered musical performances, as well as local eats, arts, and brews. Tunes From the Tombs features three stages of music and a lineup of local talent headlined by Southern rockers Drivin’ N Cryin.’ Tunes from the Tombs also boasts performances by Heather Gillis Band, the Bitterroots, and nine other artists from all over the Peach State. $10-$20. 12 p.m. June 9 www.oaklandcemetery.com/?event=tunes-from-the-tombs-2.

IRRELEVANT MUSIC FEST

Irrelevant Music Fest continues to gain traction in its third year. What started as an effort to give a spotlight to overlooked local and touring artists has turned into a five-day, full-fledged music festival. With headliners including Microwave, Negative Gemini, Dasher, and Pylon Reenactment Society, as well as dozens of local and national acts and DJ sets, this festival is not to be missed. 529 shows are $15 (adv)-$17 (door). The Bakery show is $20. Schedule coming soon. July 18-22. www.irrelevantmusic.net.

THE BIG THING

The Big Thing has been a staple of the Atlanta D.I.Y. music and visual arts scene for three years, and it’s only growing larger with each return. While the only detail currently confirmed about this local festival is the date, one thing to be certain of is it will host many rising and prominent, forward-thinking artists and musicians. 6 p.m.-midnight July 27. www.facebook.com/events/820323458176201.

VANS WARPED TOUR

The infamous Vans Warped Tour embarks on one final cross-country odyssey, giving pop-punk fans more reason to celebrate than mourn. The mobile festival’s last lineup serves as a greatest-hits list featuring well-known acts that previously embarked on the tour. Acts such as 3OH!3, Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, and Simple Plan are just some of the bands who will be playing Cellairis Amphitheatre at Lakewood.$45-$55. 11 a.m. July 31. www.vanswarpedtour.com/dates/atlanta.

ONE MUSICFEST

ONE Musicfest receives an upgrade this year. Due to the festival’s popularity and high demand another day has been added. This means double the music, double the food, and double the fun. ONE Musicfest is happening September 8-9. As of press time, the lineup and venue are unconfirmed. Expect it to be large. www.onemusicfest.com.

MUSIC MIDTOWN

Located in the heart of Piedmont Park, any list of Atlanta festivals would be incomplete without Music Midtown. As of press time, no details are available regarding one of Atlanta’s largest music events. www.musicmidtown.com.

IMAGINE

Imagine Festival (Sept. 21-23) is a celebration of all things EDM, featuring some of the hottest electronic musicians, DJs, and bands gathered together to party at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Imagine also offers cirque style performers, numerous art installations, and on-site campgrounds. Imagine Music Festival is a must-attend for electronic music fans and festival fans alike. Keep your eyes peeled for details coming soon. www.imaginefestival.com.

A3C

The A3C festival returns to the Georgia Freight Depot the weekend of Oct. 6-7. It’s the festival and conference’s 14th annual installment, and the 2018 festival lineup ain’t nothin’ to eff with. Literally! This year, A3C brings the Wu-Tang Clan — the RZA, the GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and Cappadonna — for a weekend of Shaolin madness. BONG BONG!

Performances will be spread across three stages. The outdoor stage will host performances by a stellar cast that includes Lil Wayne, the Diplomats, Curren$y, PRhyme, Mannie Fresh, and Westside Gunn + Conway, as well as lauded locals J.I.D., Childish Major, and Deante Hitchcock… and, of course, the Wu-Tang swarm! This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers, so keep your ears peeled for the classics, and pour a little out, raise your hands to the sky, and sing the name of the fallen god, Ol’ Dirty Bastard. May he rest in peace.

The indoor stage will host a marathon of Atlanta’s most prominent up-and-coming hip-hop acts, and the DJ stage will be manned by the WERC Crew and Controllerise. More lineup announcements will be coming soon, along with details regarding the A3C conference which returns to the Loudermilk Center Oct. 3-5. Tickets available at www.a3cfestival.com.

AFROPUNK

AFROPUNK is more than just a music festival. It’s a celebration of culture that juxtaposes African spirit and heritage with a punk attitude, creating an unrivaled festival experience. This ‘Carnival of Consciousness,’ which celebrates global multiculturalism via music, art, culture, food, and style, is all about championing diversity, something that’s reflected in the lineup. N.E.R.D headlines, joined by a host of emerging and established acts including the Internet, Benjamin Booker, and Wicked Wisdom. More guests will be announced soon. $40-$85. October 13-14. 787 Windsor St. (Mechanicsville). www.afropunkfest.com/atlanta.

MASS DESTRUCTION METAL FEST

West Peachtree Street will flow red with the blood of non believers come Nov. 2-3, when the Mass Destruction Metal Fest returns to the Loft. So far, the headliners for this year include Terrorizer and Nasty Savage, with rumors of more heavy hitters in the works. The almighty Hellgoat kicks things off opening the fest. Other acts slated to perform include Perdition Temple, FIN, Kommandant, Abysmal Lord, the Accused AD, and the Chasm. $45-$55 (single day tickets). $75-$85 (two-day tickets). Stay tuned for more details, and more acts to be announced soon. www.massdestructionmetalfest.com.

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Article

Friday May 4, 2018 03:44 pm EDT
A look at the shape of massive music gatherings to come | more...
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Last week, many popular male artists and hip-hop musicians came under fire for actions that promoted misogyny and white supremacy. From Kanye West supporting president Trump to Nas’ ex-wife Kelis’ allegations of emotional and physical abuse, fans are grappling with the downfall of their rap icons.

While R. Kelly is finally seeing repercussions for a long history of alleged sexual misconduct, and, the #MeToo movement celebrated the conviction of Bill Cosby, these victories are reminders of the far-reaching effects of toxic masculinity.

So I decided to leave the problematic male artists behind and show some love to black and queer women who are creating great music and fighting for minority visibility. Here are 10 women who are making great things happen right now.

10. Amara La Negra | “What A Bam Bam” When she isn’t fighting for Afro-Latino visibility, Amara La Negra releases infectious songs like “What A Bam Bam.” The song samples Sister Nancy’s popular Jamaican dancehall hit “Bam Bam.”

9. Saweetie | “Icy Girl” While we wait impatiently for the Kehlani-assisted remix, revisit Saweetie’s “Icy Girl,” which finds the rapper freestyling over Khia’s “My Neck My Back” instrumental. On her debut EP, she follows the viral hit with “High Maintenance,” a high-energy cut that interpolates Too $hort’s “Shake the Monkey.”

8. Kelela | “Frontline” Five years after releasing her Cut 4 Me mixtape, Kelela remains one of my favorite singers of the moment, mostly because of her ability to blend and stretch genres such as pop and R&B with her arrangements and songwriting. Her debut album, Take Me Apart, is required listening.

7. Ravyn Lenae | “The Night Song” Every song on Ravyn Lenae’s Crush EP Crush is amazing, but “The Night Song” is an ode to being a carefree black woman. At a young age, Lenae is delivering a level of sophistication and soul that is refreshing and beyond her years.

6. CupcakKe | “Crayons” Rapper CupcakKe has stirred up controversy over her raunchy lyrics and music videos (two of which were recently removed from YouTube temporarily). Known for rapping about sex positivity, CupcakKe shows love to the LGBT community in her latest video “Crayons.”

5. Chloe x Halle | “Fake” ft. Kari Faux To be clear, a lot of the songs on Chloe x Halle’s debut album, The Kids Are Alright, are irresistible. But this song is certainly a highlight. Beyonce’s proteges team up with rapper Kari Faux for an ode to phony people with “Fake.”

4. Cardi B | “I Like It” Cardi B embraces her Afro-Caribbean roots on “I Like It,” and it pays off in a major way. Not only is the song an undeniable banger, it’s already reached the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, signaling yet another win for the rapper and Latin hip-hop.

3. Kodie Shane | “Bounce Back” We’re still waiting for Atlanta rapper Kodie Shane’s debut album, but it’s always a good idea to revisit her single “Bounce Back.” The teenage rapper, with a knack for infectious hooks, rivals your favorite rappers over a bass-heavy trap-inspired beat.

2. Kehlani | “Honey” In addition to educating people about queer identity, Kehlani took to Twitter following Kelis’ viral interview to advocate for women who are victims of abuse. Kehlani has no problem delivering a swift clapback on social media, but “Honey” shows off the singer’s sweet and romantic side over an acoustic guitar.

1. Janelle Monae | “PYNK” Janelle Monae’s revelation that she identifies as pansexual caused the term to be the most searched word on Merriam Webster earlier this week. In “PYNK,” the Atlanta-based singer celebrates female sexuality while wearing pants that look like a vagina. The song was one of the first offerings from Monae’s “Dirty Computer,” her first album in five years.

Read Jewel Wicker’s Atlanta Untrapped column every week at www.creativeloafing.com/ATL-Untrapped.

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Article

Wednesday May 2, 2018 05:00 am EDT
Nevermind the toxic masculinity, Janelle Monáe, Kodie Shane, and more ladies are making the world a better place | more...

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The A3C festival returns to the Georgia Freight Depot the weekend of Oct. 6-7. It’s the festival and conference’s 14th annual installment, and this year’s festival lineup ain’t nothin’ to eff with. Literally! This year, A3C brings the Wu-Tang Clan — the RZA, the GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, and Cappadonna — for a weekend of Shaolin madness. BONG BONG!

This year, performances will be spread across three stages at the Georgia Freight Depot. The outdoor stage will host performances by a stellar cast that includes Lil Wayne, the Diplomats, Curren$y, PRhyme, Mannie Fresh, and Westside Gunn + Conway, as well as lauded locals J.I.D., Childish Major, and Deante Hitchcock… And, of course, the Wu-Tang swarm! This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Enter the Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers,, so keep your ears peeled for the classics, and poor a little out, raise your hands to the sky, and same the name of the god, Ol' Dirty Bastard, may he rest in peace.

The indoor stage will host a marathon of Atlanta’s most prominent up and coming hip-hop acts, and the DJ stage will be manned by the WERC Crew and Controllerise. Keep an eye out for more lineup announcements coming soon, along details regarding the A3C conference which returns to the Loudermilk Center Oct. 3-5.

Tickets available at www.a3cfestival.com.

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Article

Wednesday April 25, 2018 03:26 pm EDT
The Killer Bees swarm on the Georgia Freight Depot Oct. 6-7 | more...
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A visibly pregnant Cardi B removes her jacket, walks over to a set of stairs on the Coachella stage, and, resting her hands on the bottom stair, begins to twerk. A few seconds later, she lowers herself to the ground, using her hands to support herself, as if maybe she’s exhausted and needs a break. The rapper proceeds to thrust her pelvis, and baby bump, into the air, opening and closing her legs, with her tongue hanging out. The moment has gone viral and is a reminder that it’s still pretty uncommon — and uncomfortable for some people — for pregnant women to exude sexuality.

In an interview on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” following the performance, Cardi B, born Belcalis Almanzar, joked that her moves were a way of showing people how she got pregnant.

Less than a month after inking a management deal with Atlanta-based Quality Control, Cardi B isn’t missing a beat. With its newest addition, the Quality Control roster, overseen by Kevin “Coach K” Lee and Pierre “Pee” Thomas, continues to have a significant impact on the rap industry.

Released April 6, Cardi’s debut album Invasion of Privacy is full of twerk-worthy summer bangers that is , while promoting unabashed sexual confidence. For more on this, see her remake of Project Pat’s “Chickenhead,” re-titled “Bickenhead.”

Even with Cardi’s history of authenticity, though, it would be fair to wonder how pregnancy could affect performances of this material. By having a baby as her career continues to reach new heights, and remaining unapologetically herself, Cardi B shuns the idea that women in music can’t have it all.

To be fair, Cardi B isn’t the first woman to do this. Even her predecessor Lauryn Hill was criticized for deciding to have a baby at the height of her career. Beyoncé postponed her 2017 Coachella performance because she was pregnant with twins. This year she delivered a critically acclaimed performance that caused many to hail her as the entertainer of our generation.

Cardi’s Coachella performance on April 15 was minimally produced but culturally impactful. There’s something extremely powerful about the image of a pregnant woman, dressed in all white, dancing sexually on a major stage as strippers hang upside down behind her. This imagery debunks the traditional imagery of motherhood in a way that is necessary to bring about a change in perception. It’s possible that Quality Control and Cardi had a conversation about how they planned to tackle her pregnancy in this way, but it’s also likely that Cardi is simply continuing to be authentically herself. Refreshingly off the cuff remarks and actions are what has made her a favorite in Hollywood, after all. Perhaps Quality Control’s smartest move is supporting Cardi without getting in her way.

Prior to releasing Invasion of Privacy, Cardi’s engagement to Offset of Migos seemed to be more talked about than her music, thanks to frequent rumors of infidelity.Even Cardi B songs that don’t feature the Migos references them in some way. On “Bartier Cardi” she raps “Cardi got rich, they upset. Cardi put the pussy on Offset. Cardi B brain on Offset” — Offset even makes an appearance in the song’s video. But collaborations like “Motorsport” and “Drip” have placed the newcomer alongside her fiance’s group on streaming playlists and charts.

The concern that Cardi’s relationship would overshadow her art was heightened by the announcement that the “Bodak Yellow” rapper had signed a management deal with Quality Control before releasing her April 6 debut. Quality Control is the team ushered acts such as Migos and Lil Yachty to success. One concern, however, is that the company will continue placing Migos and Cardi side by side — to Cardi’s detriment.

For some, it seemed that the first female solo rapper to have a no. 1 since Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” topped the Billboard Hot 100 nearly 20 years ago might blow her stardom in an attempt to juggle her busy private and professional responsibilities. Commenting on the critiques, Cardi made it clear that she see no issue with being associated with them and strengthening her superstar family.

We’ll have to wait and see how Cardi and her team handle the arrival of a new baby and a tour with labelmate Bruno Mars later this year. But so far the rapper is making it clear that her personal life isn’t detrimental to her success.

Of course, a Cardi B and Offset breakup could make things awkward for the Quality Control family. For now, though, the newest addition to the roster seems to be a win for everyone involved.

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Article

Thursday April 19, 2018 02:36 pm EDT
The Bronx rapper subverts stereotypes about pregnant women | more...
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A Netflix documentary series, called “Rapture,” allows fans to see rap superstars in unexpected ways.

The Netflix series shows T.I. contemplating his responsibility as a rapper and social activist and 2 Chainz spending time with his family, and his French bulldog, Trappy, before going on tour. Produced by Mass Appeal and co-created by Sacha Jenkins, the series also features eight one-hour episodes on rappers Logic, Nas & Dave East, G-Eazy, Rapsody, and hip-hop producer Just Blaze.

“How is this man so many things at one time,” T.I. asks, referring to himself in the first few minutes of “Taking a Stand,” the show’s first episode. “I don’t know. I just am. I’m flawed. I’m imperfect, as we all are.”

Many fans know T.I. as a pioneer of trap music. In the early 2000s, the Bankhead rapper was known for releasing hit songs that chronicled his life as a young man using drug dealing as a means of survival in Atlanta. Songs such as “Rubber Band Man” and “What You Know “ became hits, but the rapper punctuated his successful moments with prison stints and controversies. By the time VH1 began airing “T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle,” shortly after the rapper’s 12-month prison sentence in 2011, it was clear that T.I. was on a mission to be a different person, and to transform his image. In 2016, following a series of police officer-involved killings of black men, T.I. released “Us or Else: Letter to the System.”

“Rapture” follows the rapper as he holds conversations with Harry Belafonte, Andrew Young, and other activists about how he can best help advance the Black Lives Matter movement. T.I. seems more aware now than ever that he has a responsibility to his children and his community to use his voice to fight against injustices within the black community. The documentary is enlightening and, in many ways, it paints T.I. in a light in which many people haven’t seen him before.

But, the series also highlights the rapper’s many contradictions. “Throughout my career, we’ve always had to explain things.,” T.I. says. “How is this person be a family man and somewhat of a womanizer? How can he represent Dope Boyz and then be the forefather of trap music and still have this conscious Black Lives Matter, us or else, community-driven passion? How can he be so smart yet do such dumb shit sometimes?”’

Later in the episode, Belafonte tells T.I. that, as an activist, he has to be conscious of the flashiness his lifestyle and the criticism that might bring. “There’s a contradiction somewhere in there,” Belafonte says.

“Although this is gold and diamonds, it’s also a picture of my family,” T.I. replies. “It’s a contradiction, but it also has a little glimmer of hope and care in there.”

This is one of the most powerful scenes in the episode because it shows the importance of understanding black culture and knowing that neither a person’s past nor their appearance can define them. Black people deserve the opportunity to be accepted as flawed humans without receiving harsher consequences than other groups.

Still, as a black woman, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t roll my eyes at some of T.I.’s statements, specifically his comments about being both a family man and a womanizer. As a woman who listens to rap, I am constantly having to ignore misogyny in order to remain a fan. The idea that female listeners should be able to routinely engage with content that tells them they are inferior is something that we’d never ask of men. Living at the intersection of being black and a woman means having a crush on and being an avid fan of T.I. since age 12, but becoming nauseous as an adult when watching him threaten to sabotage his wife’s career because he believes she has a responsibility to stay home and take care of their children.

T.I. overcoming his past as a drug dealer could, in many ways, make him a better activist for people who also grew up in poverty, and are fighting to improve housing, wages, and other socioeconomic factors so that others don’t feel compelled to “trap” for survival. His criminal record and his ability to turn his life around and use it to help others is proof that felons aren’t irredeemable. But, there’s no rationalizing some of his behavior toward women. Hopefully as he grows as an activist, we’ll see changes in that regard, too.

The episode is helpful in understanding why T.I. has become the person he is today.

2 Chainz isn’t contemplating social justice in his episode, titled “Sleep When U Die.” In the opening scene, he sits in a car, smoking and contemplating whether or not he should wear his Alexander McQueen or Gucci shoes with his jogging suit. “I’m totally, totally, totally confused at the moment,” he says in a faux British accent.

“I’m an educated street nigga,” he goes on to say. “That’s everybody’s enemy.”

2 Chainz, who I have long argued has one of the best live shows of his current rap peers, goes on tour to promote his most recent album Pretty Girls Like Trap Music after breaking his leg. Viewers get to see the rapper spending time at home with his wife and children before seeing scenes of him performing to sold out crowds in a pink wheelchair. The scenes of 2 Chainz with his family, and his French bulldog Trappy, are certainly something new for fans who only know him for songs such as “Watch Out” and “I Luv Dem Strippers,” but the best scenes are a sit down interview that takes place in a studio.

The rapper looks back on his youth growing up in College Park, Georgia. Switching between the rapper and his mother, the series provides an unfiltered look at the life of a young man who grew up selling drugs alongside his mom. But, where many rap critics say songs often glorify drug culture, there is no doubt that 2 Chainz isn’t glorifying his upbringing. He reminisces on run-ins with Atlanta’s infamous Red Dog drug unit and explains how his upbringing motivated him to dominate the rap game by outworking his peers.

“Rapture” was released the same week as 2 Chainz’s “Proud” video. The rapper’s mom, Jeanette Epps, along with Y.G. and Offset’s mothers, lip sync the words to their sons verses in the hilariously sentimental video.

Where T.I.’s episode is weighed down by the heavy realities of black life, 2 Chainz’s episode is full of triumph and perseverance. “Rapture” is a welcomed reminder that these stories are the backbone of hip-hop.

Both episodes, and the rest of the series, are worth a watch.

Read Jewel Wicker’s Atlanta Untrapped column each week at www.creativeloafing.com/ATL-Untrapped.

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Article

Thursday April 12, 2018 12:49 pm EDT
New Netflix series offers an intimate look at T.I. and 2 Chainz | more...
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Based on the sweet and plaintive sounds of her first single, “For We,” Vanessa Renee Jordan comes across to some like the type of singer-songwriter whose songs land featured spots on TV dramas such as “Grey’s Anatomy.”

“For We” is a reflective ode to a failing relationship. But even when Jordan delivers cutting lines such as “I lost my will for you, I stood still for you, and don’t you forget it, babe,” her soft, soulful delivery masks any trace of resentment hiding in her voice. Jordan, a former Atlanta resident and Spelman college student, insists the rest of her music won’t go down as smoothly. “I’m honestly not that sweet of a person,” she laughs. “I was trying to get up the courage to leave [a relationship] and that was the last little bit of love that I had left for him. [The rest of this project is] about how he was a cheating asshole, and lied to me all the time.”

For someone still in the early stages of her career, Jordan is generating a serious buzz with “For We,” and the instrumental arrangements are a major part of what makes it such an effective single. The song builds upon a simple, radiant guitar line that reaches a peak as the horn section swells. This wasn’t the original horn section, though. As Jordan was looking for something soulful to add to the mix, she played OutKast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” for her session players to convey a bit more of what she wanted. Eventually, she reached out to Morehouse College band director Chad Hughes in hopes that he would contribute to the record. “I barely had to ask,” Jordan says. “[Hughes] just did it.”

Jordan danced with the Morehouse band during her time at Spelman, although she ultimately left the university to pursue music full-time. Working at the East Point seafood restaurant Spondivits, she saved money and developed her voice until she felt ready to move to New York.

It’s where Jordan currently lives, and where she dances and sings at an underground speakeasy-style night club. Its name, she says, must remain a secret. Each night, Jordan’s performance and stage presence channel the spirits of singers such as Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt, and Etta James.

Later this spring, Jordan will travel to Europe with her “creative other half” and “For We” co-writer Ed Graves to complete studio work on her debut EP. The project, she hopes, will see the light of day before summer arrives, but she makes no promises just yet. “I hate release dates because they’re such a jinx,” she says.

Read Jewel Wicker’s Atlanta Untrapped column each week at www.creativeloafing.com/ATL-Untrapped.

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Article

Thursday April 5, 2018 05:00 am EDT
The 'For We' singer ain't as sweet as her debut single sounds | more...
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“We’re here to make people mad,” Killer Mike jokes at the beginning of an interview that has indeed done just that.

On March 24, a clip of an interview between the Atlanta rapper and activist, and NRATV host Colion Noir was released on social media as student-led protests took place around the country in support of gun reform. According to Killer Mike, born Michael Render, the interview was filmed more than a week before the nation-wide March For Our Lives rally, and was intended to discuss black gun ownership. Despite his intentions, criticism ensued as a result of the clip, during which he states that he wouldn’t allow his kids to participate in school walkouts for gun reform.

“I told my kids on the school walkout, ‘I love you, [but] if you walk out that school, walk out my house,” he says. “We are not a family that jumps on every single thing an ally of ours does. Some stuff we just don’t agree with. I just don’t agree with black people disarming.”

The social media clip is preceded by an intro from Noir. “So, I have to ask. What are you really marching for,” he says. “Because from where I’m standing, it looks like a march to burn the constitution and rewrite the parts that you all like in crayon.”

Mike was heavily criticized on social media for his remarks in the clip and his decision to share his thoughts on a platform created by the National Rifle Association. Advocates for gun reform have a host of issues with the NRA, but even supporters of the Second Amendment have criticized the organization for not advocating equally for the rights of people of color.

Shortly after the backlash ensued, Killer Mike issued a video on the controversy and March for Our Lives, referring to the demonstrations as a “noble campaign” that he is in support of.

“I’m sorry that an interview I did about a minority, black people in this country, and gun rights was used as a weapon against you guys,” he says. “That was unfair to you and it was wrong, and it disparaged some very noble work you’re doing.”

Days after Mike issued his apology, the full version of the NRATV interview was released.

It is true that for much of the 42 minute interview, Killer Mike focuses on black people’s rights to bear arms. He also pushes for black gun owners to “flood [the] ranks” of the NRA if they’re unhappy with the leadership and talked about his issues with allies who protest gun reform but remain silent on issues such as the 13th amendment, which allows slavery or involuntary servitude as a punishment for people who have been convicted of crimes. He also warned black people not to rush to support causes like they did when they supported drug policies such as mandatory minimums that imposed harsher sentences on crack cocaine users than people who used powdered cocaine, resulting in minority offenders receiving more time than white offenders.

Outside of advocating for the Second Amendment and supporting presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in the most recent election, Killer Mike has been a popular political voice in hip-hop. From songs such as 2012’s “Regan” to 2015’s “Early,” the rapper has used his music as a solo artist and as 1/2 of Run the Jewels to make fiery political statements. In interviews, he’s advocated for black-owned banks and spoken out against police brutality. Locally, he’s

opened local businesses in to create safe spaces for black men.

Still, there is certainly some flawed and dangerous logic in Killer Mike’s interview with NRATV. At one point, he criticizes people who advocate for gun reform, saying “You can’t continue to be a lackey...You have never disagreed with the people who tell you what to do.”

Statements like this make no sense when you’re telling your kids they’ll be put out of your home if they decide to protest something because you disagree with it. Furthermore, claiming to be an “ally” of March for Our Lives protesters rings hollow when you won’t let your kids support the very things they’re fighting for. Finally, Killer Mike’s assertion that news organizations such as CNN and FOX News are equivalent to NRATV, a platform run by an organization that advocates and lobbies for gun rights, is simply, well, #fakenews.

These, among other things, are valid critiques of Killer Mike’s recent interview. Celebrities and fans are right to call attention to them.

In the age of social media, users have a habit of saying that people are “cancelled” when they deem their actions to be inexcusable. Like Killer Mike, celebrities ranging from Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas to singer Erykah Badu have come under fire for making controversial statements in the past year.

Celebrities say inarticulate and insensitive things all the time. This isn’t new. Publicly criticizing someone for saying or doing something offensive isn’t problematic. But the act of “cancelling’ a celebrity has shown society’s fickleness, especially when it comes to public figures.

This is not to say that people don’t have the right to disagree with or even protest celebrities. “Step in the Name of Love” and “Ignition” will never be good enough for me to stream an R. Kelly song or support him in any way. Everyone has a threshold for what they’re willing to tolerate from the people they patronize. Continuous disregard for the safety and wellbeing of young black girls and women just happens to be one of mine.

Perhaps Killer Mike’s support of the Second Amendment is someone else’s.

For me, Killer Mike isn’t “cancelled” because of this interview with NRATV. But, perhaps that’s because I’ve always valued his input but have long disagreed with some of his views.

Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native and award-winning freelance reporter who has been covering the music industry and hip-hop in Atlanta since she was a college student at Georgia State University. In her spare time, she loves to eat lemon pepper wings and debate the validity of your favorite artists.

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Article

Sunday April 1, 2018 10:35 am EDT
The Run the Jewels rapper and activist has a long history of voicing inflammatory political views | more...
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I really thought Rich Homie Quan was going to be a star, at least comparable to the peers with which he rose to fame.

The rapper who garnered attention with solo hits, and while performing alongside Young Thug as one half of the rap group Rich Gang, seemed destined for crossover success. A 2013 New York Times nod to his breakout single “Type of Way” best describes what made Quan’s style so infectious. Jon Caramanica writes: “Rich Homie Quan is part of Atlanta’s rising generation of rappers — think Future, Young Thug, Young Scooter — who deliver lines with melody and heart, like singers on the verge of a breakdown. On ‘Type Of Way,’ the effect is dizzying, as if he’s impossibly sad to be making you feel this terrible.”

Nearly five years after “Type Of Way” arrived, Quan has finally released his major label debut album, Rich As in Spirit, via Motown Records. The rapper had previously stated that he wasn’t interested in signing to a major and enjoyed the freedom of remaining independent. Quan has released several mixtapes in recent years, including 2017’s Back to the Basics, but his shine has certainly faded somewhat. Recently, I sent a text to a group of friends asking if they’d heard Quan’s new album. One replied,“Girl, what?” Another simply asked, “In 2018?”

In recent years, Quan’s name has been more associated with controversy than hits. He allegedly punched a security guard and escaped via speedboat during an incident in Miami. He was criticized for rapping lines that would garner full-on outrage in the age of #MeToo (“Mansion full of bitches, about to rape one,” he raps on “Day 1”). And, he appeared to not know the words to Biggie’s “Get Money” during a tribute performance on VH1. In an era where young rappers often dismiss the importance of those who paved the way before them, the televised flub garnered an apology from Quan that was far stronger than his apology for rapping about rape.

Where Young Thug’s star continued to rise after the 2014 release of Rich Gang’s “Lifestyle” (the rapper received his first no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 earlier this year with an appearance on Camila Cabello’s “Havana”), Rich Homie Quan’s last Top 40 hit was “Flex (Oh, Oh, Oh)” in 2015. When Rich Gang released “Lifestyle,” the hilariously catchy single with the unintelligible, rambled hook from Young Thug, even “Black-ish” actress Tracee Ellis Ross was fascinated with the single. She posted a silly, viral video of herself trying to understand lines such as Thug’s “I got a mom, bitch, she got a mom, bitch” to her Instagram account. It seemed like Quan had the skill that fellow local rapper Future holds, which allowed him to pair unapologetic tales of growing up black and poor in Atlanta with a melodic hook and reach crossover audiences.

Quan might not be as popular, but his debut album is a solid effort that finds the rapper doubling down on the same style that made him famous five years ago.

Eardrummers producer 30 Roc (Cardi B’s “Bartier Cardi” and Yo Gotti’s “Rake It Up”), Grand Hustle production duo Nard & B (Migos “T-shirt”) and Cassius Jay (Migos’ “Out Yo Way”) are behind much of the project. Spanning 19 songs, the ambitious album doesn’t feature anything that would top Quan’s previous hits, but rap fans should still find a majority of the project enjoyable.

Produced by 30 Roc, “34” is a radio-friendly ode to former NFL player and Georgia native Herschel Walker and Route 34 on MARTA, a route Quan grew up taking in Atlanta. “Right before the new Walmart, I was still on Gresham [Road],” he raps on “The Author” (produced by Nard & B) over warbling synths.

“Sitting back, reminiscing on my past, I’m focusing on the money, reflecting on my accomplishments. Knock me down, I got right back up and laughed, he raps on opening track “Reflecting.” Quan has always rapped about being underestimated and on this album he seems to glean motivation from the fact that people have counted him out.

Rich Homie Quan might not have another single to surpass his previous hits, but he’s not lacking for talent. The rapper still has something things to say, if fans are willing to listen.

Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native and award-winning freelance reporter who has been covering the music industry and hip-hop in Atlanta since she was a college student at Georgia State University. In her spare time, she loves to eat lemon pepper wings and debate the validity of your favorite artists.

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Article

Saturday March 24, 2018 11:34 am EDT
The Atlanta rapper’s major label debut maintains course | more...
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We still haven’t heard any new original music from “Atlanta,” despite the fact that the critically acclaimed FX series follows a pair of cousins attempting to escape poverty in the city by forging a path into the music industry.

Viewers first heard Paper Boi’s (Brian Tyree Henry) self-titled hit single in the first season of the Donald Glover-created series, but the song is still being used to advance the show’s storyline in the shows second season. “Atlanta: Robbin’ Season” began airing earlier this month, taking place during holiday season, a time when robberies are common in Atlanta.

On paper, “Atlanta” is a show about a rapper and his manager, but, in many ways, that fact is often relegated to the background. Paper Boi, the local drug dealer with a hit song, is in many ways the series’ most interesting character. Henry effortlessly displays the resentment Paper Boi feels for the life he’s been subjected to as a poor black man in Atlanta. Even when he’s making bad decisions, there’s a deep understanding of how circumstances beyond his control have influenced who he’s become.

At its core, “Atlanta” is really about survival by any means. Still, the show has always made subtle commentary about the music industry. In season one, viewers get to reflect on how Justin Bieber’s real life antics would be perceived differently if he were a black man. None of the episodes have provided sharper commentary on how rappers fit into the current musical landscape than the second episode of season two, though.

“Sportin Waves” (March 8, 2018) showcases the struggles of Paper Boi as he attempts to juggle hustling and being a rapper. The episode begins with Paper Boi being robbed by his supplier, who tells the rapper that he’ll be fine despite the robbery. He does have a hit song, after all. “I ain’t making no money off that fucking song,” Paper Boi responds, through gritted teeth. The moment underscores the dual life rising stars often live both as people who are expected to behave like they are already successful and as someone who is likely still struggling to make ends meet.

Later, Paper Boi visits a tech startup with his cousin and manager, Earn (Glover), in an attempt to grow his audience and make some money from his musical endeavors. The scenes that follow force viewers to reflect on the ways in which tech companies influence music and authenticity, and the ways in which rappers are framed in this narrative. When Paper Boi struggles to connect with a crowd of mostly white hipsters during a performance, another black man performs energetically on top of a table in a conference room. Paper Boi delivers “drops,” or promotional spots, for the “fresh rap mix playlist” (think Spotify’s influential but major label-influenced “Rap Caviar”) in a monotonous tone, despite being asked to deliver it like he’s “at a party and everything’s crazy.” Meanwhile, rapper Clark County snags an advertisement deal for “Yoo-Hoo” drinks that features a catchy jingle and the rapper enthusiastically milly rocking across the screen. As Vulture reporter Angelica Jade Bastién points out, the fake commercial and the juxtaposition of Paper Boi and Clark County demonstrates the way black artists are often forced to perform and conform in order to attain success.

One of the most interesting moments of the show for me, though, may not have stood out to many people as the previously mentioned scenes did. When Paper Boi and Earn first enter the tech company’s office, they hand a man who goes by “35 Savage” a CD containing some of Paper Boi’s new music. Viewers never get to hear the new music, though. The tech company doesn’t have any disc drives and struggles to play the emailed version of the music. This moment is extremely timely. Earlier this year, Billboard reported that Best Buy will stop selling compact discs in July and Target is planning to move to a “scanned-based trading” model for CDs and DVDs. This would mean that Target would pay for inventory after it has been sold, or scanned, in stores, similar to consignment agreements. This is sad for music fans who grew up with CDs, but the move makes sense economically. Computers and cars rarely come with drives for discs because most music fans have turned to streaming services.

Neither Paper Boi nor Earn would have the latest technology in “Atlanta,” though. It makes sense that they would show up to a meeting with music on a CD, just like it makes sense that tech companies wouldn’t have disc drives. The brief interaction offered a subtle but powerful commentary on the ways in which tech companies inform music culture and how class informs our knowledge of these technological trends.

Where a series like “Empire” features original music that can be purchased and streamed, “Atlanta” doesn’t. But, unlike the hit FOX series, “Atlanta” does provide a more authentic look into the life of rising artists and the ever-changing music industry where tech significantly informs how music sounds and is distributed.

I’m still curious to see how Paper Boi continues to develop as a character and, thus, what that means for his music career. Today’s musical landscape is the perfect playground for Glover’s fictional struggling rapper. There are many storylines worth developing this season, including a look at “Atlanta’s” leading lady Vann (Zazie Beetz), but hopefully Paper Boi’s story doesn’t get pushed to the background again.

Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native and award-winning freelance reporter who has been covering the music industry and hip-hop in Atlanta since she was a college student at Georgia State University. In her spare time, she loves to eat lemon pepper wings and debate the validity of your favorite artists.

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Article

Friday March 16, 2018 12:06 pm EDT
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Crossover Entertainment Group’s rehearsal studios have played a role in many of Atlanta’s major musical moments over the years. Their presence is a testament to how music companies need to evolve to stay relevant in an ever-changing music industry.

In 2016, I had lunch with an old friend from college. He’d begun working with local label, management group, and creative agency LVRN (Love Renaissance), and wanted me to hear one of their newest artists, 6lack. Back then, the East Atlanta singer had just released the Free 6lack album, and was still a newcomer, yet to be nominated for a Grammy. To generate buzz, LVRN threw a free album release show for 6lack at Aisle 5.

Rehearsals were held at Crossover Entertainment Group, a rehearsal space and backline facility in West Midtown, tucked inside a nondescript brick building where I met 6lack that day. I also met Billy Johnson, Crossover’s general manager and chief operating officer.

The history of the space was intriguing, to say the least. Although unknown to fans, Crossover has remained a cultural hub for hip-hop, R&B, and a whole lot more of Atlanta’s musical history. Everyone from R.E.M. to Migos shaped their sounds and identities there at key points along the way to reaching legendary status.

In the ’90s, many of the major artists who were stationed in Atlanta rehearsed at Crossover, including those signed to L.A. Reid and Babyface’s LaFace Records. Pink, Usher, OutKast, TLC, and more all rehearsed at Crossover by day. By night the space would transform into something resembling a “live performance nightclub,” with chairs, tables, food, and industry insiders making appearances for label showcases.

“When [LaFace] worked with local artists they brought down Clive Davis and people from Arista,” Johnson says. “Pretty much all the showcases for their major lineup were done at Crossover.”

After the artists were officially signed, they returned to Crossover to prepare for tours, and to work on music videos and more.

During that same decade, a teenage Jermaine Dupri was given access to the space to rehearse with his new act, Kris Kross. This began Crossover’s long-standing relationship with Dupri and So So Def.

In recent years, tapings of Dupri’s Lifetime reality series “The Rap Game” have taken place there, as well as VH-1’s “Signed,” which stars local artists Rick Ross, The-Dream, and Roc Nation executive Lenny S. . Crossover has also ventured into renting tour equipment, helping artists such as Future, Migos, 2 Chainz, Justin Bieber, and B.o.B prepare for shows around the country.

While the rehearsal space has a long history with Atlanta’s hip-hop and R&B community, Crossover is certainly no stranger to Georgia’s rock scene. R.E.M. recorded most of the basic tracks for their 1994 album Monster at Crossover. “They really liked the sound that they got in the room so they asked if we could record the album in studio A,” Johnson says. “We were not a recording studio but of course I said hell yeah.”

The Crossover team rented recording equipment and built a makeshift live recording studio for the band. “It worked perfectly there,” Johnson says. “They just did things against the grain.”

Crossover has also worked with the B-52s, Indigo Girls, Widespread Panic (pictured above), and other alternative rock acts.

When music fans talk about their favorite local venues and spaces, hidden strongholds like Crossover are often left out of the conversation. But it’s inside seemingly unremarkable buildings like this that artists cement their identity and sculpt the moments their fans will remember forever.

Read Jewel Wicker’s Atlanta Untrapped column every week at www.creativeloafing.com/music.

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Article

Friday March 9, 2018 01:21 pm EST
Crossover Entertainment has shaped sounds for R.E.M., OutKast, Migos, and more | more...
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In the video for Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel,” the new single from her forthcoming album Dirty Computer (due out April 27 via Bad Boy Records), the Atlanta-based singer sucks on a lollipop held by actress Tessa Thompson. Elsewhere in the video, she sticks her hands in the back pockets of a pair of sheer black pants with red roses on them, swaying her hips in front of the camera. In the video for “Django Jane,” released the same day, Monáe raps, “We gone start a motherfucking pussy riot or we gone have to put them on a pussy diet?”

None of this sounds out of the ordinary for mainstream music in 2018. For better or worse, pop music is highly sexualized. But for Monáe it’s uncharted territory. For much of her career, Monáe has projected a somewhat wholesome image, including her strict uniform of black and white conservative and androgynous clothing. When she rapped, “You cannot police me so get off my areola” in her 2015 song “Yoga,” it was, at the time, an unusually vulgar lyric for the singer.

But, in the age of women’s marches and the #TimesUp movement, Monáe is front and center, demanding that the experiences of all women be elevated and respected. During a speech at the 60th Grammy Awards regarding the #TimesUp movement, sexual assault in the entertainment industry and equal pay, Monáe said, “We come in peace, but we mean business.”

Weeks later, she released new music that piggybacks off that sentiment.

As the first offerings from Dirty Computer, Monáe’s first album since 2013’s <>The Electric Lady, “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane” both showcase different sides of the singer’s personality.

Co-written by a group of songwriters, including Grammy-nominated “Issues” singer Julia Michaels, “Make Me Feel” is a clear nod to Monáe’s musical mentor and friend, the late Prince. Before his untimely death,Monáe collaborated with Prince on “Givin’ Em What They Love” for The Electric Lady, and she says Prince was helping here work on the new album before he died. Featuring warbling synths and snaps, and a syncopated guitar, the song is a feel-good offering with crossover appeal, and clearly pays homage to the fallen musical icon

.

The song’s appeal is heightened by the video, which was released simultaneously. Co-starring Tessa Thompson, the colorful video features Monáe dancing with backup dancers in a club setting. While rumors surrounding Monáe’s sexuality have circulated for years, the singer has never been one to discuss her private life, publicly. But many are pointing to her scenes with Thompson, along with a scene in which she dances back and forth between and man and a woman, as a nod to the singer’s secuality. Monáe likely won’t discuss the speculations directly. In an interview with The Guardian, she referred to herself as “sexually liberated” when asked about the scenes.

Later on, she discusses her clothing choices.

“There are people who have used my image to slut-shame other women: ‘Janelle, we really appreciate that you don’t show your body.’ That’s something I’m not cool with,” she said. “I have worn a tuxedo, but I have never covered up for respectability politics or to shame other women.

“I’m guilty feeling like I can’t just be,” she continued. “Like either it’s this or it’s that, it’s black or it’s white. But there’s so much grey. And I think I’m kind of discovering the grey and realizing it’s OK not to have all the answers, or to supply them.”

Where “Make Me Feel” comes across as liberating, “Django Jane” feels like an all-out rebellion. “Hit the mute button, let the vagina talk,” Monáe raps over a bass-heavy trap beat. Directly after the line, a clip of a naked Monáe holding a strategically placed mirror over her, yes, vagina, is shown. The song’s production would’ve fit right in on fellow Wondaland artist Jidenna’s debut album, but Monáe sounds completely comfortable spitting the clever bars. Fans of the singer won’t be totally surprised by this, though. Monae proved she could rap with her verse at the end of 2013’s “Q.U.E.E.N.”

With “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane,” Monáe uses sex and explicit language in a way that might feel jarring to some of her fans. But, it’s clear that she’s attempting to boldly make a point about equality and women’s rights with this new material. And, in the end, that sense of rebellion and defiance isn’t much different than the Metropolis series that the singer conjured up early in her career.

Cindi Mayweather, the android protagonist from several of Monáe’s albums, has been described as the “mediator” between the oppressed and the oppressor. Singing songs such as “Violet Stars Happy Hunting!” (“I’m a slave girl without a race. On a run because they’re here to erase and chase out my kind”) and “Q.U.E.E.N” (“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am) from the perspective of her alter ego, Monae has always strung together narratives about the fight for equality for all.

With the first two offerings from Dirty Computer, Monáe continues to use her voice. But now she’s signing her own name to her declarations. Monáe isn’t obligated to share her personal life or beliefs with anyone. But her decision to share more of herself through her music is a political statement. It’s Monae’s way of expressing women’s rights to freely dictate their own experiences.

Jewel Wicker is an Atlanta native and award-winning freelance reporter who has been covering the music industry and hip-hop in Atlanta since she was a college student at Georgia State University. In her spare time, she loves to eat lemon pepper wings and debate the validity of your favorite artists.

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Article

Friday March 2, 2018 03:22 pm EST
The Atlanta singer’s latest album, 'Dirty Computer,' takes on a political tone | more...