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C Notes: Drake’s Single Doesn’t Suck: The “Over” Reaction Overreaction

The music world, or hip-hop at least, held its collective breath yesterday (March 4) to hear Drake’s first official single, “Over,” off his upcoming debut, Thank Me Later. Huge! Epic! Countdown! Earlier in the day, after a song snippet hit the Net, I wrote a post in jest about what we learned in those 13 seconds. And when the full song arrived four and a half hours earlier than expected, hip-hop listened.

Riding in a cab on the way to a Janelle Monáe listening session in NYC, I heard Funkmaster Flex drop bombs on Hot 97 and put on an animalistic show, amused that he was the first to play the song on New York radio. “Over” served only as background as Flex growled, snarled and cackled for dramatic effect, as if DMX had possessed him for that moment in time. The overall response from the communal music critics? A resounding “Meh.” The hook is blah. The song lacks energy. I can’t bump this in the club! Um, Rosetta Stone?

Are we already losing hope for hip-hop’s Great Mixed Hype? As if he didn’t release a classic mixtape (So Far Gone) and memorable verses for the past 365 and some odd days on top of earning a Grammy nomination before even dropping an album?

It reminds me of President Obama, who’s received a lot of heat after only his first year as leader of the free world. Some Americans think he hasn’t fulfilled his promises, that he’s a typical politician now and that maybe their belief in him was a crock built on idealism. Because they questioned themselves, they questioned him. As if he didn’t grant us historic speeches, an epic campaign, a refreshingly practical plan of action. That whole “Yes, we can” thing. Everything he did to get there suddenly wasn’t—and still isn’t—good enough.

Similarly, Drake has done so well before that everything Drake does now isn’t good enough for some. The hatred toward the hype this guy has created, and which many have fed into, is understood, but the song is really not that bad. I know Drake is no Obama. I know he’s young and still raw. But for most of his still primitive career, he hasn’t let us down musically. (Let’s not count the “Best I Ever Had” video and the falling on stage thing.) Not to say everyone’s off the Drizzy bandwagon already—some are still reserving judgment about the album—but the tepid response to “Over” is surprising, with some folks making judgments in three minutes as we've grown accustomed to. 

As an increasingly fickle music head (I blame the Internet), I’m guilty of over-reaction, too. When Jay-Z’s “D.O.A.” dropped, I thought it was “just alright” and that as a result maybe Blueprint 3 would be “just alright” and not much to look forward to. And “Run This Town” wasn’t much better, that hook is wack, and why is Rihanna on that song? Maybe Jay-Z was just mediocre. Maybe today’s youth didn’t care anymore.

Then, Jay-Z went on to have one of the best commercial years of his career, with his first No. 1 single, “Empire State of Mind,” still selling out arenas and proving his status as hip-hop’s most sustainable act of all time. Now, I get hyped anytime “Run This Town” comes on. And Blueprint 3 is the shit. The best Jay-Z album since The Black Album.

So maybe Drake’s single is just “meh” right now, but wait a month or so. If you don’t want to bump “Over,” then bump “Forever” or “Successful” or “Fear” or that little song of the summer, “Best I Ever Had,” until the album comes out. The wait isn’t over yet.

 


 

Clover Hope is a senior editor at VIBE with a love jones for rhythm and blues who's written for publications such as Billboard, ESPN The Magazine, XXL and Village Voice.

 

 


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Pharrell's New Netflix Kids' Series Focuses On Importance Of STEAM Learning

Pharrell Williams is the executive producer of a new children’s show on Netflix that focuses on educating little ones on the importance of science, technology and current events.

“I got involved with ‘Brainchild’ because there is a desperate need to raise awareness about the importance of science with our youth, we must edu-tain,” Williams told Variety about his new series. The show is hosted by Indian-American actress and comedian Sahana Srinivasan.

Brainchild will use “interactive games, experiments and skits” to teach and highlight the “core concepts and principles of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).” It was co-created by Atomic Entertainment, and is billed as a spinoff of the Emmy-nominated show “Brain Games,” which aired on National Geographic Channel for seven seasons.

Williams and his i am OTHER production partner Mimi Valdes also discussed the idea of the show’s accessibility for teachers and students. Per Variety, “The curriculum is available without having to sign up or register for any account, and can be used at home or in the classroom to supplement existing tools.”

“It’s especially important to me to get STEAM-focused programming in front of minority communities,” Pharrell says of attempting to reach viewers. “That’s because at the core of the plight of children of color in this country is a lack of access to actionable education.”

 

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Prepare to have your minds blown 🧠⚡🌊💖💡🔬 I worked with the masterminds of Brain Games on a show that will empower kids by approaching STEM topics in a cool, new way and to provide anOTHER way into science. Thank you to our host @Sahana.j.shree, @AlieWard, Atomic Entertainment, @i_am_other and the @Netflix team. Brainchild OUT NOW on Netflix. #brainchild

A post shared by Pharrell Williams (@pharrell) on Nov 2, 2018 at 2:01pm PDT

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Jacquees Blames 'Hater' DJ Mustard For The Removal Of His 'Trip' Remix

DJ Mustard, the producer of Ella Mai’s “Trip,” is responding to reports that he was “hating” on Jacquees, who famously deleted his “quemix” of the aforementioned song. Jacquees visited the L.A. radio show Big Boy’s Neighborhood, where he discussed the controversy behind deleting his version of the popular track from the Internet.

“Really, DJ Mustard hated on me, no cap, that was crazy,” he told the hosts about the issues at hand. “I wanna work with DJ Mustard too, but that was a hating move.” The release of his popular version sparked rumors that the “Boo’d Up” musician was jealous of the 4275 artist’s success with his version.

Mustard, who founded Mai’s label 10 Summers, commented on Instagram about his feelings on the R&B star’s latest comments. "That n***a Big Boy said ‘it was really goin’ too!'” he laughed in a video shared to his IG Story. “You stupid ni**a," he continued.

Last year, Mustard wrote on Twitter that if a song that the artist doesn’t own is monetized, it’s stealing and “no one steals from 10 Summers.”

“This is simply a press or marketing plan, or some strategy to deviate from the narrative that Ella is breaking records left and right because the music she’s making is cutting through straight to fans at a rate people haven’t seen in years,” he continued. “Ella’s career started by doing covers and we support all her fans and fellow artists doing the same.”

To whom it may concern . pic.twitter.com/w3lzuU5tqM

— Mustard (@mustard) September 26, 2018

I’m not going to blogs or any media outlets to address this Jacquees situation ima address it right here and after this we will never address anything like this again I’m just tired of people picking on @ellamai !

— Mustard (@mustard) September 26, 2018

 

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#PressPlay: #DJMustard responds after #Jacquees talks about his #Trip remix getting removed!! (SWIPE)—(📹: @bigboysneighborhood)

A post shared by The Shade Room (@theshaderoom) on Mar 25, 2019 at 10:40am PDT

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'Black Monday' Becomes A Dramedy As Its World Flips Upside Down: Episode 9 Recap

Blair was Mo’s mirror in episode “295.” In this week’s episode, he internalizes Mo’s qualities, and now the reflection wants to take over the original’s life, like a scene from Jordan Peele’s Us. Some of the most analytically rich parts of this episode revolve around all the allusions to Blair assuming Mo's role after agreeing to go along with the Georgina Play, two months after Mo informed him of the rouse.

Blair flirts with Dawn – the woman Mo still loves – while sitting in Mo's desk chair as Mo walks in and sees them. He gifts all of the Jammer Group inner circle with replicas of Mo's custom-made Rolex and calls them “Molexes” with "f**k em all" engraved on them. It’s the latter mantra that, in a surprising twist, leads to Blair potentially ending Mo as we know him.

An early criticism of Black Monday was Andrew Rannells’ inconsequential portrayal of Blair in the first few episodes. After carrying a large number of scenes in last week’s episode, this week’s showcases his shining moment. One of the funniest scenes s when Blair stops himself from saying "it's all good in the hood," after glancing at Mo, before replacing "hood" with "municipalities." That’s a very artful way to say if he wants to be Mo, he’ll have to do more than speak like him. Consequently, Blair does just that in order to get Tiffany Georgina to go along with the Georgina Play.

The Agency Of Tiffany Georgina

Casey Wilson, who plays Tiffany, needs to star in a spin-off show if for nothing else than to see her do another interpretive dance routine to a remixed version of the national anthem like she did at Tiffany’s wedding reception. We predicted in our review of episode “243” that Tiffany would have a bigger hand in the Black Monday collapse than we originally assumed, and this episode brings our prophecy to life.

Tiffany admits to Blair in the final scene of the episode that she’s a lot to handle but poignantly justifies it by stating everyone isn’t as sure of themselves as she is. It’s in that moment we realized out of all of the characters with considerable screen time, Tiffany may be the only one who never lied about herself. The comments about smart “orientals” are vacuous and her obsession with social status is asinine, but they’re also genuinely Tiffany; Everyone else adjusts their morals and personality to fit whatever gets them money.

Tiffany also reveals that when she was in sixth grade, her parents prevented her from legally emancipating herself from them by giving her a cartilage piercing and a new credit card. In episode “243,” when Blair innocuously says he’s staying late at work to do “compliance,” Tiffany instinctively knew that meant illegally shredding documents because her family is wealthy. Tiffany’s parents had their own daughter kidnapped in last week’s episode to boost the company’s value and now their daughter plans to steal that very company from them. The Black Monday writers used the Georgina family this season as a commentary on how money can make anything transactional, even love and loyalty.

Just like with Mo, the Georgina family may be undone by a monster they created.

The Dramedy

In today’s age of television, shows rarely fit perfectly in one genre. Orange Is The New Black’s second season was nominated in the drama category at the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards, a year after its first season was nominated in the comedy category. This blurring of the artistic lines has created a new type of show that is equal parts drama and comedy: a dramedy. After the last two episodes, Black Monday has become more dramedy than comedy.

In the first half of the season, Black Monday was roughly 90% hilarious debauchery with the 10% of deep introspection reserved for the final minutes of the episode. Over time, that ratio began to even out until last week’s episode, which delivered the highest concentration of drama acting of the season. In this week’s episode, the double and triple crossings in Blair and Mo’s heated rivalry are more central to the episode than Keith’s hysterical attempts at tricking the SEC and Tiffany’s ridiculous wedding. Aside from Dawn and Mo forming a secret alliance, the episode concludes with Blair’s most intimidating piece of dialogue as he breaks down the illusionary world Mo has constructed for himself.

While episode “7042” is the most compelling episode of the entire season, so far, the move into dramedy has its drawbacks. There are still gems like Mo’s double entendre of “I’ve unearthed secrets, got winded and fired,” a play on the name of legendary funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, who released their 1987 Billboard hit “System of Survival” a month before the events in this week’s episode. But, the hijinks and absurdist humor that Black Monday is predicated on are more separated than in any other episode.

As a result of this shift into dramedy, certain jokes not only fall flat but feel out of place and tonally different than the rest of the episode. Keith referring to the ability to know who is gay as “Navi-gay-tion” would be amusing in almost any other Black Monday episode. Him delivering it at the end of this week’s episode, after a dramatic exchange between Dawn and Mo, felt cringeworthy.

Hopefully, there’ll be plenty to laugh about when everything comes crashing down in the season finale next week.

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