Craig Jenkins
Craig Jenkins
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Lil Nas X, Cardi B, and the Anti-Pop Conservative Outrage Machine

Lil Nas X, Cardi B, and the Anti-Pop Conservative Outrage Machine

Pop stars are not babysitters. Pop music is not wholesome entertainment. If you play mainstream music expecting to have your values reaffirmed, you will — inevitably, eventually — be disappointed. Pop stars (at least the good ones) push against the boundaries of what’s possible and acceptable, sometimes in the noble interest of challenging the prevailing social mores, sometimes just for the devilish thrill of crossing lines, and sometimes because they just can’t help it. These people aren’t, like politicians or superheroes, paragons of justice or hometown pride. Their job is to reflect on...

Mar 31
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Failing Britney Spears

Failing Britney Spears

I think a lot about “Lucky.” Not just because the single from Britney Spears’s Oops!… I Did It Again is impossibly catchy; or because the singer’s vocal tics are absurdly fun to imitate; or because the production from Swedish pop maestros Max Martin and Rami Yacoub establishes a weird sort of robot simulacrum of the plucked strings from Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” in a textbook millennium-era computerization of culture. “Lucky” is striking as a ballad sung in the third person about a pop star feeling boxed in by the demands of fame, who, by outward appearances, seems to have the world at...

Feb 17
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New York Rap Never ‘Fell Off’ — It Was Snuffed Out

New York Rap Never ‘Fell Off’ — It Was Snuffed Out

Please read our updated and , effective on December 19, 2019.“We’re seeing body after body, and our Mayor Giuliani ain’t trying to see a Black man turn to John Gotti.” —Biggie, “Everyday Struggle”The history of New York nightlife — and, by extension, New York music — is a game of cat and mouse, of the ingenuity of smart young partyers and business owners in the face of a ceaseless wave of police and government enforcement. One party slips and the other one pounces. Rage too hard and it sparks noise complaints or violent incidents that beget harsh crackdowns. Press the venues too hard and...

September 17, 2020
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August Alsina Untangles Everything

August Alsina Untangles Everything

Please read our updated and , effective on December 19, 2019.took the scenic route to personal peace over the course of a decade that began with hype for the New Orleans–born R&B singer amid a new wave of talented vocalists (including the likes of the Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign, and Frank Ocean) and took off thanks to hits like “I Luv This,” “No Love,” and “I Don’t Get Tired.” But the journey grew increasingly complicated as health issues arose and August lost his sister Chandra to cancer, becoming the legal guardian of his nieces. His struggle with a mystery illness (that would eventually be...

July 17, 2020
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