“What’s Going On” is MusiQology’s semi-regular news round-up. We curate a selection of relevant news items from across the spectrum of popular culture, adding our own commentary and contextualizing the moments within a broader conversation. In some cases, we’ll be drawing your attention to news items you may have missed; in others, we’ll try and shed a new light on the pop culture moment. With any luck, you’ll be able to spend a little less time browsing the web for what matters. We’ve got you covered.
Black Musicians Appear on Rolling Stone’s 25 Under 25
Age-organized lists are always worth examining after the fact: They give us a window into what direction the critical apparatus thought it was going in, plus we get to see what they got right and what they got wrong. Rolling Stone’s recent 25 Under 25 is an interesting survey across the cultural industries, with actors and activists joining a large number of singers. Well-represented in particular are young black artists, including rappers Lil Yachty and CupcakKe, R&B singer Bryndon Cook, and Beyoncé proteges Chloe X Halle. The latter—a pair of Atlanta sisters aged only 17 and 19—in particular are sitting at the intersections of culture, fashion, social media, video and film, and of course music. We’ll try and revisit this group in the future to see how Rolling Stone did, but for now, it’s a useful preliminary look at what might be next.
A Girls Trip to the Box Office
When Beyoncé ended “Formation” with the line “The best revenge is your paper,” it hit at the intersection of capitalism and creativity that contemporary artists of color find themselves needing to work through. With Girls Trip raking in cash at the box office, the film, which stars Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish, and Jada Pinkett Smith, is showing studio executives that audiences want films that commit to portraying black women as three-dimensional characters. As black characters make it onto more screens—Black Panther looms; Issa Rae’s Insecure is making waves during its second season—we need to remain vigilant in asking who profits from black creative work and challenging the in-built racisms of the cultural apparatuses that put anyone on our screens. The success of Girls Trip is an accomplishment, to be sure. But we need to keep asking questions about who is reaping the benefits.
Stretch and Bobbito Launch New Podcast
At MusiQology, we’re invested in the idea of podcasting as an important new stream for criticism and discourse in music and the arts. The format of course has its roots in radio, and it’s been fascinating to watch Nineties greats Adrian “Stretch” Bartos and Robert “Bobbito” Garcia return to the airwaves on a new NPR Podcast titled What’s Good. In the short time that the podcast has been on the air, the duo—who were at the forefront of hip-hop’s rise—have already interviewed luminaries including Steview Wonder, Mahershala Ali, and more.
As summer wears down, there are still a variety of live concerts worth checking out before temperatures drop. Philadelphia remains a vital and exciting concert city, with new venues opening all the time and international touring acts from all genres booking shows in the City of Brotherly Love. The O’Jays—purveyors of Philly Soul—will be at the Dell Music Center on July 29. Earth Wind and Fire take over the Wells Fargo Center on August 1. Local rapper Freeway takes the stage at Ardmore Music Hall on August 5, the same night that Logic is at Festival Pier. Lionel Richie and Mariah Carey are at Wells Fargo on August 16, and before too long the summer will go out with a bang at Jay Z’s Made in America on Labor Day weekend, with J. Cole, Solange, Migos, Run the Jewels, Pusha T, and HOV himelf all on the bill. And lastly, for the jazz heads, we want to remind you about a major event in the fall titled The October Revolution of Jazz & Contemporary Music. Held October 5-8 and featuring Anthony Braxton, the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Sun Ra Arkestra among others, the festival, which is being put on by ARS Nova Workshop and FringeArts, is going to be the event of the season.