Kanye West dropped a new album while we were all recovering from the NBA Finals chaos
The rapper’s latest, ‘ye,’ offers a small peek into the weight his controversies had on his marriage
12:59 PMOnly the NBA — and one of the weirdest, most controversial and high blood pressure-inducing regulation endings ever — could make a Kanye West album listening session a secondary story.
Thanks to the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, particularly J.R. Smith, such was the case Thursday night. West, who has been in the news for all the wrong reasons since he returned to social media and the public spotlight, played his new album ye in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for invited media members, a host of collaborators and close friends who included his wife, Kim Kardashian (who just returned from a White House visit with President Donald Trump regarding prison reform).
The cover art for ye, which Kardashian said is a picture West took while riding to the session itself and features the statement “I Hate Being Bi-Polar. It’s Awesome,” is the first glimpse into West’s state of mind. West’s eighth studio album bookends a landmark week for G.O.O.D. Music, as it comes on the heels of Pusha T’s album and blistering battle record toward Drake with “The Story of Adidon.”
Lyrically, the album is standard Kanye. A witty punchline here, a cringeworthy run there (i.e., his Russell Simmons/#MeToo line on “Yikes”) and a splash of introspection. Those looking for lyrical precision are better off taking in Black Thought’s Streams of Thought, Vol. 1 EP that was also released Thursday night. Or a more cohesive listen in A$AP Rocky’s TESTING. If nothing else, West is a producer capable of stringing together glowing moments with soul samples, well-placed singing features (Jeremih, Charlie Wilson, Ty Dolla $ign and more) and harmonies.
Last month, West told The Breakfast Club‘s Charlamagne Tha God that while he was on medication he didn’t go to therapy because the world was his therapist. The music, in both positive and negative ways, reflects this. Look no further than ye‘s most honest moment in “Wouldn’t Leave,” featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR and the aforementioned Jeremih and Ty Dolla $ign. West weighs the consequences of his actions and offers unique perspective into how his recent controversial comments affected his marriage. When West infamously proclaimed on TMZ that “slavery was a choice,” the world erupted.
West was once a symbol of hope and the living embodiment of chasing a seemingly impossible dream with courage and self-confidence as fuel. For many, his comments were the last straw in pardoning an embattled artist who once spoke for so many. But according to West, the weight of the moment was felt most heavily in his own household. Now I’m on 50 blogs gettin’ 50 calls/ My wife callin’, screamin’, say, “We ’bout to lose it all!” he raps. Had to calm her down ’cause she couldn’t breathe/ Told her she could leave me now, but she wouldn’t leave. The cut is an unscripted look from the premier unscripted artist of his generation inside a household whose foundation is known for being heavily scripted. Though, it should be noted, that Kim’s reaction was out of fear of their empire crumbling, not the venom and ignorance in West’s statement. “For any guy that ever f— up. Ever embarrassed they girl. Ever embarrassed they wife. She told you not to do that s—. She told you’s gon’ f— the money up. But you ain’t wanna listen, did you?” he says on the song’s outro. “Now you testing her loyalty. This what they mean when they say, ‘For better or for worse,’ huh?”
Unfortunately for West — as a considerable amount of his fan base, many who have been searching their souls for weeks now, came to this conclusion — the music doesn’t matter more than the man and the actions he takes. Just ask Rhymefest.
Two Starbucks employees say the anti-bias training was needed, but it’s not nearly enough
‘Maybe it can stand as a pillar of equality’
12:50 PMIn April, Starbucks was in the news because a Philadelphia store manager called the police on two black men who were waiting for a friend. To address the bias that could lead to such an unfair response, Starbucks closed its doors early on Tuesday to send its employees through an anti-bias training session.
I talked to two employees from different stores who participated in different sessions. After the conversations I was shocked, confused, and slightly encouraged. Here are excerpts from our conversations. Frank is a white male in his late 30s. Mark is a person of color in his mid-20s.
Do you think the session was needed?
Mark: Truthfully, as a person of color, I feel as though these are things I intrinsically already understand. But I believe it was necessary for my store specifically.
Mark: After the incident in Philadelphia, a co-worker asked me, ‘You know the whole Kanye West thing’ and I was like ‘umm, yeah, I do.’ And she went off saying that people online are calling him an Uncle Tom and a fake n—–. I went, ‘Excuse me?’ And she REPEATED HERSELF. And then she said, ‘it’s not like I was calling you a house n—– or something, I was just talking about the situation.’
Mark: On a different occasion a co-worker said to me, ‘I’m brown just like you, just on the inside’ while I was washing dishes one day. And another time, a friend told me that she heard transphobic comments as we just hired an individual who is transitioning. I didn’t report any of this, because it will just make a hostile work environment. I am trying to transfer.
What was the goal of the session?
Frank: The goal of the training was to bring into the light real-life racial, sexual, insensitive bias and to talk about how we can minimize those situations to the point that hopefully will have them no longer happen. Starbucks admitted that one four-hour training session isn’t going to fix any problems, so they made sure to stress that we all have to make efforts continue the progress that they made. (Neither man could remember the training facilitators giving recommendations for specific continued efforts.)
Mark: Being Color Brave was one of the main themes. The term colorblind was referenced as a platform long ago used to describe people who don’t see color, which is now known to be just as bad. Color Brave is being brave to be who you are and embracing your racial and ethnic backgrounds.
What happened in the sessions?
Mark: One of the first activities we did was introduce ourselves in small three- to six-person groups. We then were told to break off into pairs within those groups and make a list of eight reasons why we are different.
Frank: For me the most effective exercises were watching videos of people of color still telling stories about how they get followed in stores to ‘prevent theft’ and then hearing one woman say that she wishes she could walk out her door and feel carefree like the white guy she sees on the street. That last part is a direct quote and it bothered me to my core that still this bulls— continues.
Frank: They gave us 39-page workbooks. We were supposed to write our thoughts in them and take them with us.
Mark: They explained the difference between explicit and implicit bias. Then they ran us through the Stroop Color [and] Word test so we would understand that stereotypes are cognitive shortcuts we form.
Was the session beneficial?
Mark: For the company, perhaps. Maybe it can stand as a pillar of equality, great.
Frank: Yes. I think more companies need to do this, but the real change that needs to happen are everyday people coming to the same realization that racial bias needs to stop. That’s when true change will happen. I just wish it was easier. People give up because learning anything new is tough and Americans are lazy.
How would you describe the training with one word?
Closing 8,000 stores for a half-day most certainly cost Starbucks some profits. But the costs of biases are ordinarily paid by the same segment of our society. And they don’t get to pick the day or the price.
On April 12, when Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson were cuffed and arrested, they were forced to pay with a bit of their dignity. Though everyone knows one session won’t eradicate biases held by Starbucks employees, if the result of the session is a lower likelihood of an incident like that recurring, then Tuesday’s cost is a worthwhile investment.
Nick ‘Swaggy P’ Young: ‘Just to have a pair of Pharrells … and I have a pair of Kobes, signed. That’s something I do.’
The Warriors guard on playing in Pharrell x Adidas Crazy BYW X during the playoffs
10:52 PMOAKLAND, CALIFORNIA — During media day on the eve of the 2018 NBA Finals, Golden State Warriors shooting guard Nick Young’s face lit up when asked about his most important style decision of the playoffs. “That was,” he said with a smile, “legendary.”
The moment occurred during the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets. Before Game 6, Young showed up to Oracle Arena holding a fresh new pair of Adidas’ “Gratitude/Empathy” Crazy BYW Xs — a collaboration with superproducer Pharrell Williams. In late April, Pharrell — who signed with Adidas in 2014, and has since inspired some of the brand’s most coveted lifestyle shoes — wore the BYWs for the first time during a press tour in China for another one of his signature collections. But the sneakers hadn’t made their debut on 94 feet of hardwood until Young began warming up in them before the Warriors’ 115-86 blowout win over the Rockets on May 26.
Unbeknownst to Young, the player commonly referred to in both basketball and fashion circles as “Swaggy P” — Pharrell would be sitting courtside for Game 6 with the shoes on his feet. “When they told me he was showing up,” Young said, “I was like, ‘Man … please, coach, lemme play a little bit!’ That’s Pharrell — somebody I look up to, fashionwise, and how cool he is.” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr obliged, throwing his backup sharpshooter into the win-or-go-home matchup for 16 minutes, during which Young dropped five points while rocking the kicks.
After the game, the hooper and his idol shared a moment. “Skateboard P and Swaggy P,” said Young, who joined Adidas in 2015 after Nike failed to match the deal. Pharrell even broke out a pen and signed the shoes: “To the clutch, Swaggy P!“
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) May 27, 2018
“Something to keep in my collection. Just to have those, a pair of Pharrells … and I have a pair of Kobes signed,” Young said. “That’s something I do.” As for whether we’ll see Young in the multicolored, Pharrell-inspired basketball shoes during the Finals? “Nah … ” he said. “I ain’t playing in them again.”
ABC cancels ‘Roseanne’ after Roseanne Barr tweets racist insult about Valerie Jarrett
Swift action was needed, but should it ever have come to this in the first place?
4:08 PMShould it ever have gotten this far in the first place?
ABC canceled the second season of its Roseanne reboot Monday after its star, Roseanne Barr, tweeted a racist insult about former Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett.
Barr called Jarrett the baby of “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes.” She tweeted an apology Monday morning, calling the statement a “bad joke.”
Within hours, Wanda Sykes, who had been a consulting producer on the show and was reportedly slated to take over the writing room in the show’s second season, tweeted that she would not be returning, essentially announcing that she had quit.
“Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC president Channing Dungey said in a one-sentence statement to the press shortly after Sykes’ tweet. Dungey is the first black woman to preside over a broadcast network.
On one hand, it’s easy to say this is exactly what should have happened. But I’m not so sure ABC should be applauded here. Barr made plenty of hateful quips on Twitter before the network hired her for the Roseanne reboot. What did they think was going to happen?
ABC has long branded itself as “America’s Network.” The decision to invest in a newly MAGA-fied Roseanne seemed to suggest that the network was accommodating a portion of the populace that has come to be associated with racialized violence, such as in Charlottesville, Virginia. Tuesday morning, in an essay on the third season of Queen Sugar, I took Dungey to task for giving Barr so much leeway while refusing to extend the same freedom to black-ish creator Kenya Barris. After all, it was under Dungey’s leadership that Barr’s show included a joke directed at fellow ABC sitcoms Fresh Off the Boat and black-ish, essentially reducing them to little more than Asian and black versions of “normal” white families.
At the Television Critics Association press tour in January, Barr’s pre-reboot tweeting prompted questions. After all, Barr had tweeted a story from conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ InfoWars site claiming that President Donald Trump would have won the popular vote had “5.7 Million Illegals” not voted in the 2016 presidential election. She called intersectionality a “degenerate pseudo philosophy of fake left” and shared multiple tweets best characterized as transphobic and Islamophobic, calling Muslim immigrants “savages.” She trafficked in the Seth Rich murder conspiracy.
When challenged, Barr and the rest of the writers and cast present, including showrunner Whitney Cummings, gamely laughed off her unhinged screeds. The problem wasn’t what Barr was saying, was the implication, but that she was saying it on Twitter. Barr informed the press at TCA that she and her children had found a solution: to take away her phone and change her Twitter password, as if that would somehow prevent Barr’s Islamophobia from seeping into the show. (Spoiler alert: It didn’t.) In January, her bigotry was distasteful but it wasn’t disqualifying. Why not?
ABC spent months building anticipation for Roseanne’s return, and it worked. The show’s reboot debuted to an audience of 27.3 million viewers, absolutely gobsmacking numbers in our age of streaming, DVR and video-on-demand. The network quickly greenlit the now-canceled second season. But its all-too-predictable ugly collapse should leave the executives of America’s Network seriously asking themselves: Was it worth it?
Congratulations! This HBCU won its eighth NCAA outdoor track and field title
Lincoln University’s women’s team cruises to championship
Thomas said the team has missed out on at least three national outdoor and indoor titles by a total of five points.
Thomas and the Blue Tigers left nothing to chance Saturday, building up an insurmountable lead and cruising to the team’s eighth national outdoor championship at Johnson C. Smith’s Irwin Belk Complex.
Lincoln was led by the quick feet of sophomore Rene Medley, who won the 200-meter dash, finished second in the 100-meter dash and teamed with Diana Cauldwell, Christine Moss and Shaian Vandenburg to win the 4×100 relay in 44.51 seconds.
Medley said she had extra incentive in the 200 meters because she wanted revenge on the runner who finished ahead of her in the semifinals.
“It was a great race,” Medley said. “In the prelims I came in second place and I got lane 3, and the girl who beat me got lane 4. So that really motivated me to just run her down, and I did just that.
“It’s a great feeling to win the national championship with these great ladies. We came in third indoor in the nationals with just three girls, so this feels great.”
Cauldwell, a senior, also won the triple jump and was second in the long jump to help the Blue Tigers build a nearly insurmountable lead by midday.
“I just came out here to deliver, and do what my coach said I should do,” Caldwell said. “This is amazing; it is so amazing to win a national championship.”
Moss also helped pick up a third-place finish in the 4X400 relay, for which she teamed with Renea Ambersley, Segale Brown and Shanice Clarke.
“I think the girls did excellent,” said Thomas, Lincoln’s head track and field coach for 15 years. “We have three superstars, along with a supporting cast who did the job that they were supposed to do, and we were able to pull it off quite comfortably.”
Lincoln is a historically black university with an enrollment of 3,000-plus students in Jefferson City, Missouri. The Blue Tigers finished the meet with 60 points, followed by runners-up St. Augustine’s, which in typical fashion, climbed from 19th at the start of the day to second place at the end.
In fact, St. Augustine’s, whose men’s and women’s teams failed to achieve a 40th national championship for coach George Williams, was racing for second place in the final event and secured it when the Falcons’ Shannon Kalawan passed a Lincoln runner on the backstretch and cruised to the finish line for St. Aug’s victory in the 4X400 meter relay.
The Falcons finished with 48.5 points.
But Medley, Caldwell and Lincoln teammates had already been fitted for the crown.
Before that final event, Lincoln already had 54 points — 11.5 more than the next-closest competitor.
Angelo State (42.5 points), Grand Valley State (40.5) and Adams State (39) rounded out the top five.
For Lincoln, it was the school’s eighth national outdoor women’s championship to go with five indoor titles.
The Blue Tigers won five straight, from 2003 to 2007, and again in 2009 and 2014. Their national indoor titles came in 2004, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2016.
For Williams, it’s back on the recruiting trail and back to trying to cajole St. Augustine’s administrators for more scholarship funds.
“We only had five girls, and Lincoln had quite a contingent,” Williams said. “We put up a good fight, we just ran out of bodies. Until we can be able to find scholarships to get some more student-athletes, that’s about the best we can do.”