Tag Archives: Beyoncé

It’s Jay-Z’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Back in July of this year, Morrissey, who used to make news for his music, posted on fan site True to You that a Transportation Security Administration official at the San Francisco International Airport touched his junk (i.e. his genitals, not his recently-published novel, List of the Lost). This week, Morrissey continued the one-sided conversation, saying about the TSA “It is unlikely that ISIS would stoop so low.” ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, frequently makes the news for bombings, shooting people, beheading people, and throwing people off of buildings to their death, among other things. All horrible things, to be sure, but not as horrible as having someone touch your testicles. Morrissey for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

This week Thom Yorke of Radiohead compared YouTube to Nazis, as YouTube makes its money from the work of artists, “like what the Nazis did during the Second World War.” He asked “What’s the difference?” Hmmm…I’m stumped. What is the difference between the political party that put Jews, homosexuals, Africans, the disabled and Jehovah’s Witnesses into concentration camps and murdered eleven million of them and the Internet site that gave people the opportunity to watch and share “Gangnam Style?” You’re right, Thom. There is no difference. YouTube are monsters! Thom Yorke for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

Though Morrissey and Yorke cannot run for president of the United States of America, they remind me of someone who can and is running for president, Dr. Ben Carson. Carson said that the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” He’s right! One consisted of being kidnapped from one’s home, separated from one’s family, shackled, treated as someone else’s property, being forced to work in inhumane conditions, and being abused, while the other provides Americans with health insurance. I bet you don’t know which one is which! They’re practically the same thing! Ben Carson for president! Oh, wait – he’s a fucking moron. Darn!

Until one of these geniuses becomes president, or until YouTube puts me in a camp, a TSA agent throws me off a building or Blue Shield forces me to pick their cotton, I’m going to keep on dancing. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu,” which features Jay-Z, who turns 46 today.


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A Hint Of Mint – Volume 23: Covers

This week’s installment of A Hint of Mint consists of cover songs. It’s likely you are familiar with most or all of the songs on this week’s playlist, but I’m guessing you are not familiar with the versions presented here. Drawn primarily from soundtracks, compilations and CD singles, here are twenty remakes of popular tunes, performed by members of the LGBTQQISA populations. Included are Tegan & Sara covering Bruce Springsteen, Antony & the Johnsons covering Beyoncé, and Pansy Division covering Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Happy Sunday!


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A Mothers Day Playlist

It’s Mothers Day weekend. Today’s playlist consists of songs about mothers. Not mothers like Shaft, a bad mother shut-your-mouth. Real mothers.

Happy Mothers Day!


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A Lady Gaga Playlist

Ringo + Gaga 003

The 1000th record to hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 was Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” Many complained about the song’s similarity to Madonna’s “Express Yourself.” I don’t hear it, but even if it’s there, what’s wrong with sounding like “Express Yourself?” If more pop hits sounded like “Express Yourself” I’d listen to top 40 radio more often. Also, how many #1 songs besides “Born This Way” expressly called out for LGBT rights? You can count them on one fist.

Today Lady Gaga celebrates her 29th birthday. Here are twenty career highlights.


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How Empire Changed Timbaland

After Empire creator Lee Daniels hired music producer Timbaland to be the television program’s Executive Music Producer, the Grammy Award winner sent the Academy Award nominee music to be used in the pilot episode.

As he recounted to Out.com, Daniels brought a copy of that first episode to Timbaland to show him how his music was used. Daniels was out of the room during the scene where Jamal and his boyfriend kiss. Said Daniels “I knew he was fascinated by seeing his music in the work, but he said, ‘Those guys kissing, man. Wow.’” When the music producer showed his family the pilot, he made his children leave the room during that kissing scene.

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. This was the man who said “Some people listen to a song like ‘SexyBack’ and think, am I queer? Am I funny? If you are that way, you’re just that way. But if you’re a masculine man, embrace it. Have a glass of wine, put the record on and invite your girl over to get sexy.”

He has a point. When I listen to “SexyBack,” I ask “Am I queer?” That’s because Justin Timberlake doesn’t do anything for me. If I were a masculine man who drank, I’d have a girl over and get sexy for the song’s four minutes and three seconds. But I’m funny.

Per Daniels, who is openly-gay, Timbaland is singing a new tune. “[Working on this show has] changed his opinion on how he feels about gays. He said it. And I remember hanging up the phone and being very emotional after talking to him, and after him telling me that. And how he really had this epiphany. It was beautiful, and it deepened our friendship.”

That must have been some conversation. “Hi, Lee? It’s Timbaland. I’ve worked with many gay people in my twenty-five years producing music, and every one of them disgusted me with their talent and work ethic. But after seeing a fictional gay character recite scripted lines and give his, uh, male friend a quick kiss, I’ve had a change of heart. I can handle a gay person for a few scenes one hour a week, provided my kids aren’t in the room. Let’s have dinner soon. Feel free to not bring your boyfriend. Love ya (in a platonic way)!”

Today the man born Timothy Mosley turns 43 years old. There’s still time for him to continue evolving. Here are twenty tracks he produced or co-produced. WARNING: This playlist includes “SexyBack.” Be sure you’re masculine enough to listen! (Before anyone asks, his stellar work with Aaliyah is not available on Spotify.)

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Beck, Kanye and Beyoncé

“I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists, to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should’ve given his award to Beyoncé. Because when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in their face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day, and they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place.” – Kanye West on the Grammy Award for Album of the Year going to Beck’s Morning Phase rather than Beyoncé’s self-titled release

“I thought she was going to win. Come on, she’s Beyoncé! You can’t please everybody, man. I still love [West] and think he’s genius. I aspire to do what he does.” – Beck

“I wasn’t saying Beck; I said the Grammys. Beck knows that Beyoncé should have won; you know that. Come on, man. I love Beck! But he didn’t have the Album of the Year.” – Kanye West

Kanye West, official spokesperson for the Bey Nation, gave his opinion and the Internet blew up! It was a repeat of 2009, when West announced that Taylor Swift stole the MTV Best Female Video Award that should have gone to Beyoncé. The American people were up in arms! So much vitriol was sent West-ward and his detractors found plenty of reasons to go after him the ensuing years. As the wise trophy thief said, “the haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate.”

Kanye’s point was about creating art and reaching new heights in one’s craft. The only intelligent responses to further this discourse, per the many comments I saw on Facebook and Twitter, are “You’re classless” and “You’re garbage.” One person who didn’t call Kanye garbage was Shirley Manson, the lead singer of the band Garbage. She called him “a complete twat.”

At least all of us can sleep better knowing that Kanye loves Beck. They are two of my favorite all-time artists for many of the same reasons. They seldom repeat themselves, making each album they release different than the previous one. Neither follows trends. Both challenge themselves. Both are masters of their craft. Both can be sincere. Both can be funny. Neither has released a bad record.

However…

Beyoncé should have gotten the Album of the Year Grammy. Her self-titled album was a revelation. Following up her uneven 4, she took a giant leap forward and strived to make something more artistic than what we were used to from her. She succeeded. The Beck record, Morning Phase, sounds beautiful, but there were no surprises. It was announced early in 2014 that Beck would be releasing a new album that was in a mellow vein. I got what I expected. It was as fine as I thought it would be, and stronger than his last couple of releases. I like Morning Phase very much, more than the other nominated Albums of the Year performed by Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and Pharrell Williams, but it’s nothing we haven’t heard Beck do before. Ironically, in Beyoncé’s quest to be more artistic, her album outsold its predecessor. Like Kanye said, she had the Album of the Year.

Enough of the Grammy voters felt otherwise and awarded Beck. That’s fine. There have been worse slights in the Grammy Album of the Year category than Beyoncé losing to Beck. What about the 1996 awards, when Beck’s Odelay lost to Celine Dion’s Falling into You? Or in 2000, when Beck’s Midnight Vultures lost to Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature? Or in 2005, when U2’s Hot to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb beat Kanye’s Late Registration and in 2004, when Ray Charles & Friends’ Genius Loves Company beat Kanye’s The College Dropout and Green Day’s American Idiot? Steely Dan, U2 and Ray Charles have released many albums deserving of Album of the Year. These weren’t them. U2 should have won 1992’s Album of the Year for Achtung Baby. They lost to Eric Clapton Unplugged. In 2007, Kanye’s Graduation and Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black both lost Album of the Year to Herbie Hancock’s River: The Joni Letters, a record that literally nobody has ever heard. In 1980, Christopher Cross’ self-titled debut beat Pink Floyd’s The Wall. In 1966, The Beatles’ Revolver lost to Frank Sinatra’s A Man and His Music. In 2012, Mumford & Sons’ Babel beat albums by Frank Ocean, Jack White and The Black Keys. The nominees for 1984’s Album of the Year Grammy were Prince’s Purple Rain, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA, Tina Turner’s Private Dancer, Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, and Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down. Four classic albums plus one by Lionel Richie. The winner? Lionel Richie! WTF on a stick?!?! In 1991 the Album of the Year Grammy didn’t go to R.E.M., nominated for Out of Time. It went to Natalie Cole’s Unforgettable…with Love. Eligible but not nominated that year? A little album called Nevermind by a band named Nirvana. Oh well, whatever. In 1982, Toto IV beat…it doesn’t matter who else was nominated. It’s Toto Fuckin’ IV, people.

It looks like Beyoncé will have to wait longer before she is in the same hallowed company as Toto.

In less contentious news this week, ISIS killed U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller, Boko Haram killed thirteen soldiers and 81 civilians in Chad, and the Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court forbade probate judges in that state to issue marriage license to same-sex couples, despite a judge’s ruling that such unions are legal and the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to issue a stay on that ruling.

Congratulations, Beck!

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Grammy Predictions

The 2014 Grammy Awards will be handed out tomorrow night. Here are my fearless predictions:

RECORD OF THE YEAR – “Stay With Me” – Sam Smith
ALBUM OF THE YEAR – Beyoncé – Beyoncé
SONG OF THE YEAR – “Stay With Me” – Sam Smith
BEST NEW ARTIST – Sam Smith
BEST POP SOLO PERFORMANCE – “All of Me” – John Legend
BEST POP DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE – “A Sky Full of Stars” – Coldplay
BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM – Cheek to Cheek – Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
BEST POP VOCAL ALBUM – X – Ed Sheeran
BEST DANCE RECORDING – “F for You” – Disclosure featuring Mary J. Blige
BEST DANCE/ELECTRONIC ALBUM – While(1<2) – Deadmau5
BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE – “Fever” – The Black Keys
BEST ROCK SONG – “Blue Moon” – Beck
BEST ROCK ALBUM – Turn Blue – The Black Keys
BEST ALTERNATIVE MUSIC ALBUM – Reflektor – Arcade Fire
BEST R&B PERFORMANCE – “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
BEST R&B SONG – “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
BEST URBAN COMTEMPORARY ALBUM – Beyoncé – Beyoncé
BEST R&B ALBUM – Give the People What They Want – Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
BEST RAP PERFORMANCE – “i” – Kendrick Lamar
BEST RAP/SUNG COLLABORATION – “The Monster” – Eminem featuring Rihanna
BEST RAP SONG – “i” – Kendrick Lamar
BEST RAP ALBUM – Oxymoron – ScHoolboy Q
BEST COUNTRY SOLO PERFORMANCE – “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE – “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood
BEST COUNTRY SONG – “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
BEST COUNTRY ALBUM – Platinum – Miranda Lambert
BEST COMEDY ALBUM – Mandatory Fun – “Weird Al” Yankovic
BEST SONG WRITTEN FOR VISUAL MEDIA – “Let It Go” – Adele Dazeem
BEST BOXED OR SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION PACKAGE – The Rise & Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One
BEST ENGINEERED ALBUM (NON-CLASSICAL) – Morning Phase – Beck
PRODUCER OF THE YEAR (NON-CLASSICAL) – Max Martin
BEST REMIXED RECORDING (NON-CLASSICAL) – “All of Me” (Tiesto’s Birthday Treatment Remix) – John Legend

Enjoy the show!

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Best Songs Of 2014

I don’t understand Beyoncé. She spells her name with an accent over the second e, but she pronounces her name with the accent on the second syllable. That makes no sense to me. Musically, however, I was down with Cé in 2014. She challenged herself artistically with her latest album, snuck out at the tail end of 2013, and for the most part she succeeded. Yonc places four songs in my year-end list, more than anybody else, with two of those songs in my top ten. And to think, she owes her whole career to me.

The big trend that nobody talks about is that Sweden has invaded in a big way. Tove Lo and Neneh Cherry (welcome back!) are on my year-end list, and First Aid Kit are in this week’s top ten. Three acts may not look like a big trend to you, but let’s encourage Sweden. They still have a ways to go to make up for Ace of Base. Elsewhere in Scandinavia, Norway is represented by Röyksopp, Annie and Bjarne Melgaard. Come on, Denmark and Finland – let’s step it up! Other foreign acts representing this year are Britain’s George Ezra, Katy B, Disclosure, Sam Smith, SBTRKT and alt-J; Scotland’s Paolo Nutini and Belle & Sebastian; Canada’s Mac DeMarco, Tegan & Sara and Arcade Fire; Australia’s Courtney Barnett and Sia; France’s Daft Punk, Nigeria’s Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; and Neverland’s Michael Jackson.

There’s little hip hop on my 2014 list. Very little. Two songs, both performed by Kendrick Lamar. This is the poorest showing for rap in a year-end list since the early eighties, I think. I’m too lazy to look for my old listings, but I’m pretty sure that’s accurate. Was hip hop really that lame this year or am I turning into my mother?

Country music fared a little better than hip hop. Three songs, two of those performed by Miranda Lambert. The third song is “Follow Your Arrow,” performed by Kasey Musgraves, which is my #1 song of 2014. This is the first time a country song has topped my year-end list, I think. I’m too lazy to look for my old listings, but I’m pretty sure that’s accurate. The song, about being true to yourself and not letting others dictate your path, resonated with me when I was at a crossroads in my professional life. Do I continue working for the man in a soul-sucking job or do I pursue my passions? I opted to follow my arrow. If I crash and burn, Musgraves will hear from my lawyer. Also, it was rad to hear a simple, catchy tune coupled with the lyrics “Kiss lots of boys or kiss lots of girls if that’s what you’re into.” It was radder that this song won the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year award, despite being only a modest hit on the country chart. Raddest was that two male country singers, Billy Gilman and Ty Hendon, who each have sold hundreds of thousands of records, announced that they kissed lots of boys and that’s what they’re into. I’m paraphrasing.

I now present to you my favorite songs of 2014. The list was compiled from my weekly top ten lists. I crunched the numbers and this is the result. Songs that are in Glenn’s Ten at the present time (e.g. First Aid Kit’s “Cedar Lane,” Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk!,” Perfume Genius’ “Queen”) are not included; I’ll put them on my 2015 list. Here are the 83 tracks that made my weekly top ten in 2014:

1. “Follow Your Arrow” – Kacey Musgraves
2. “Ain’t It Fun” – Paramore
3. “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
4. “Every Time the Sun Comes Up” – Sharon Van Etten
5. “Do You” – Spoon
6. “Partition” – Beyoncé
7. “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
8. “Really Don’t Care” – Demi Lovato featuring Cher Lloyd
9. “Seasons (Waiting on You)” – Future Islands
10. “Beggin for Thread” – Banks
11. “Avant Gardener” – Courtney Barnett
12. “Budapest” – George Ezra
13. “Habits (Stay High)” – Tove Lo
14. “Gotta Get Away” – The Black Keys
15. “Love Never Felt So Good” – Michael Jackson
16. “Somethin’ Bad” – Miranda Lambert featuring Carrie Underwood
17. “Hundreds of Ways” – Conor Oberst
18. “Step” – Vampire Weekend featuring Danny Brown, Heems and Despot
19. “Put Your Number In My Phone” – Ariel Pink
20. “Blue Moon” – Beck
21. “All the Rage Back Home” – Interpol
22. “i” – Kendrick Lamar
23. “5 AM” – Katy B
24. “Secrets” – Mary Lambert
25. “Cinnamon and Lesbians” – Stephen Malkmus
26. “Just One Drink” – Jack White
27. “Chandelier” – Sia
28. “Automatic” – Miranda Lambert
29. “How Can You Really” – Foxygen
30. “Out of the Black” – Neneh Cherry featuring Robyn
31. “XO” – Beyoncé
32. “Wait for a Minute” – Tune-Yards
33. “Control” – Broken Bells
34. “Bored in the U.S.A.” – Father John Misty
35. “Latch” – Disclosure featuring Sam Smith
36. “New Dorp, New York” – SBTRKT featuring Ezra Koenig
37. “All About that Bass” – Meghan Trainor
38. “I Blame Myself” – Sky Ferreira
39. “Do It Again” – Röyksopp and Robyn
40. “Birth in Reverse” – St. Vincent
41. “Prince Johnny” – St. Vincent
42. “Bother” – Les Sins
43. “Brother” – Mac DeMarco
44. “Everything Is Awesome!!” – Tegan and Sara featuring The Lonely Island
45. “Dark Sunglasses” – Chrissie Hynde
46. “Heart is a Drum” – Beck
47. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” – Kendrick Lamar
48. “Let Me Down Easy” – Paolo Nutini
49. “Talking Backwards” – Real Estate
50. “Stranger to My Happiness” – Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
51. “High Hopes” – Bruce Springsteen
52. “Electric Lady” – Janelle Monae featuring Solange
53. “Crying for No Reason” – Katy B
54. “After the Disco” – Broken Bells
55. “***Flawless” – Beyoncé featuring Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
56. “West Coast” – Lana Del Rey
57. “Nothing More than Everything to Me” – Christopher Owens
58. “Left Hand Free” – alt-J
59. “The Party Line” – Belle & Sebastian
60. “Low Key” – Tweedy
61. “Come Get It Bae” – Pharrell Williams
62. “Do What U Want” – Lady Gaga featuring R. Kelly
63. “Alone in My Home” – Jack White
64. “Fever” – The Black Keys
65. “Me and Liza” – Rufus Wainwright
66. “You Are Your Mother’s Child” – Conor Oberst
67. “Inside Out” – Spoon
68. “Instant Crush” – Daft Punk featuring Julian Casablancas
69. “I Wanna Know” – Best Coast
70. “Eyes to the Wind” – The War on Drugs
71. “Forever” – Haim
72. “It Comes Back to You” – Christopher Owens
73. “Just One of the Guys” – Jenny Lewis
74. “My Own World” – Eleanor Friedberger
75. “Spit Three Times” – Neneh Cherry
76. “Lazaretto” – Jack White
77. “Russian Kiss” – Annie featuring Bjarne Melgaard
78. “Another Night” – The Men
79. “Dangerous” – Big Data featuring Joywave
80. “Gust of Wind” – Pharrell Williams
81. “A Place with No Name” – Michael Jackson
82. “Give Life Back to Music” – Daft Punk
83. “We Exist” – Arcade Fire

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Grammy Nominees Were Announced And I Need To Dance!

This year’s Grammy nominations were announced this morning. Here they are:

Record of the Year
Iggy Azalea ft. Charli XCX – “Fancy”
Sia – “Chandelier”
Sam Smith – “Stay With Me (Darkchild Version)”
Taylor Swift – “Shake It Off”
Meghan Trainor – “All About That Bass”

Song of the Year
Same as Record of the Year, except instead of “Fancy” you’ve got Hozier’s “Take Me to Church”

Album of the Year
They plan on announcing the nominees in this category tonight during the A Very Grammy Christmas television special. Ariana Grande, Maroon 5 and Album of the Year nominations? Cancel your Friday night plans!

Best New Artist
Bastille
Iggy Azalea
Haim
Sam Smith
Some lady I’ve never heard of

Best Pop Vocal Album
Coldplay – Zzzzz
Miley Cyrus – Zzzzz
Ariana Grande – Zzzzz
Katy Perry – Zzzzz
Ed Sheeran – Zzzzz
Sam Smith – Zzzzz

Best Rock Album
Beck – Morning Phase
Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams
The Black Keys – Turn Blue
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Hypnotic Eye
U2 – Are You Fucking Kidding Me?!?!

Best Urban Contemporary Album
Jhené Aiko – How Do You Pronounce That?
Beyoncé – I’m Now The Most Nominated Woman In Grammy History, So Bow Down Bitches
Chris Brown – Undeserved
Mali Music – Who?
Pharrell Williams – Gurl!

Best Country Album
Miranda Lambert – Platinum
+ four others

Best Spoken Word Album (a/k/a Best Audiobook)
Forget the titles; look at this list of nominated performers – James Franco, John Waters, Joan Rivers, Gloria Gaynor, Elizabeth Warren and Jimmy Carter! They better present this one on the telecast! Gurl!

Best Rock Song
Paramore – “Ain’t It Fun”
Beck – “Blue Moon”
The Black Keys – “Jack White Better Not Be Nominated”
Ryan Adams – “Gimme Something Good”
Jack White – “The Black Keys Better Not Be Nominated”

Best R&B Song
Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z – “Drunk In Love”
Usher – “I’m Going to Lose to Beyoncé”
Chris Brown featuring Usher and Rick Ross – “I Don’t Deserve a Nomination and I’m Going to Lose to Beyoncé”
Luke James featuring Rick Ross – “You Never Heard of Me and I’m Going to Lose to Beyoncé”
Jhené Aiko – “Though I Also Have an Accent over the Second E in My First Name I’m Going to Lose to Beyoncé”

Best Country Song
Miranda Lambert – “Automatic”
+ four others

Best Dance Recording
Seriously, there is a category for the best audiobook. The Grammy Awards’ tag-line is “Music’s Biggest Night.” Unless Elizabeth Warren sang her memoirs this category should not exist.

This post doesn’t cover all nominations. In total, the Grammy Awards have nominees in 12,623 categories, three of which are presented on the air. Tune in sometime in January or February to see who wins as well as a rare live television appearance from the reclusive Taylor Swift!

As for now, it’s Friday, which is dance day on Tunes du Jour. As tomorrow is Ira Gershwin’s 118th birthday, we’ll kick off this week’s dance party with Donna Summer, who by now may have dined with the famed lyricist.

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The Evolution Of Jay-Z

“What people do in their own homes is their business, and you can choose to love whoever you love. That’s their business. It’s no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple.”

The above quote comes from Jay-Z. He was referring to gay rights in an interview with Poppy Harlow on CNN in May 2012. Referencing the lack of marriage equality nationwide, he said “I always thought it as something that is still holding the country back.”

He always thought this? Even in 1996, when he rapped about “Too many faggot niggas clocking my spending?” Or the following year, when he rapped ““Hate a nigga like that faggot?” How about the lyric in which he complains about “faggots” talking to the police, which is followed by his promise to kill those faggots? Or his rap “Why is you over here lookin’ at me while all these girls up in here? What you gay?” Or the song in which he calls rapper Nas, no strange to homophobic lyrics himself, a “fag?” That’s the same song in which he mocks Mobb Deep’s Prodigy with a gay implication. Was he ruminating about how gay Americans deserve the same rights accorded to straight Americans when he rapped “Now I ain’t down with who like me or who like you. That’s gay, I ain’t into liking dudes no way?” When he said “And since you infatuated with sayin’ tha gay shit, yes you was kissin’ my dick when you was kissin’ that bitch,” was he really saying “I respect you as a man, for I am a man as well, and we are all equal?”

There are rappers, specifically Eminem, who defend the use of the word “faggot” by saying it doesn’t mean gay; it means weak. Equating a gay slur with weakness or a lesser-than status isn’t homophobic? First of all, that’s bullshit. Secondly, in the case of the Jay-Z lyrics cited above, he is referring to gay men.

Perhaps, like President Obama, who endorsed marriage equality shortly before the rapper’s CNN interview, Jay-Z has evolved. I’m skeptical that he “always” felt the lack of equality was holding the country back, but I’m glad he feels that way now. He is one of the two most-famous rap artists in the world. He is not running for office and trying to garner votes. His support means a lot. As Clinton Yates wrote in the Washington Post, “Hopefully, Jay-Z’s words can lead generations of music fans out of the fog when it comes to being an open-minded and accepting citizen of the world.”

Today Jay-Z turns 45 years old. Here are twenty of his finest raps, homophobia-free. Misogynist? That’s a discussion for another time.

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