Editor’s note: Every Friday for the month of June, aka African-American Music Appreciation Month, aka Black Music Month, we’ll be creating a Spotify playlist based on the news of the week. Check out the story behind last week’s playlist here.
Talk about trials and tribulations. I don’t think the country has seen this much testifying since O.J. was on trial. The week began with Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial (more on that later). Then four senior intelligence officials sat before the Senate Intelligence Committee and preceded to say not a goddamn thing. Then former FBI Director James Comey spilled the tea, but good, on Thursday. At some point, the country will get the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Lord knows we ain’t getting it from our president.
1. “Where Did It Go Wrong,” by Anthony Hamilton
I think I’m going to keep this spot open to catalog all the ways in which we are still screwed as a country. Donald Trump is still president. His second- or third-favorite son doesn’t think Democrats are people simply because they call out his lying-ass, incompetent excuse of a father. The Ku Klux Klan is apparently on a world tour? Wypipo keep showing out in public again and again. Jeff Sessions offered to resign as attorney general—but didn’t. Did I mention that Trump is still president?
2. “Freedom (Interlude),” by Noname
“Bill Cosby ain’t the God we made him/They all forgave him”—at least Rudy Huxtable was willing to stand by his side as Cosby entered the courthouse Monday for the beginning of his sexual assault trial. But where was his wife? Perhaps she wasn’t ready to hear the gut-wrenching testimony of Andrea Constand, the woman who was instrumental in opening the door for other Cosby accusers to come through.
3. “Neighbors,” by J. Cole
It’s part of the black American dream: get a good job and make enough money to move out of the hood. But no one told you about the shitty neighbors who will call the cops on you for being black, successful and throwing a party for a friend. Or the cowardly, shitty neighbors who slip racist notes under your door, while the equally shitty apartment complex refuses to let you break your lease. Or those racist, shitty neighbors who beat up on a black child just to chase out an interracial couple in the neighborhood. What did J. Cole say? “So much for integration/Don’t know what I was thinkin’/I’m movin’ back to the South Side … ”
4. “F.U.B.U.,” by Solange, Featuring the Dream and BJ the Kid
Bill Maher was really feeling himself when he dropped the n-word on his TV show last week. His actions seemed shocking to his white, liberal friends, but black Twitter was there with a reminder of his habitual line stepping: a video from his old show, in which he questioned actress Anne-Marie Johnson’s blackness while dropping the n-bomb several times. And his black ex-girlfriend didn’t seem too surprised by his antics. Now Maher is inviting all the black people he knows (well, OK, just Ice Cube, who was previously scheduled to appear, and Michael Eric Dyson) to come on his show Friday night to have a frank discussion about the use of the word. But really, it’s pretty simple: Some shit is only for us, dude. Some shit you can’t touch.
5. “DNA.,” by Kendrick Lamar
On Tuesday, Chokwe Antar Lumumba won the mayor’s race in Jackson, Miss., to continue the revolutionary work started by his father, Chokwe Lumumba, the Jackson mayor who died in 2014. The elder Lumumba was founder of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and leader of the Republic of New Afrika, an organization that advocated for an independent predominantly black government. Lumumba the younger has revolution in his blood. As my colleague Kirsten West Savali noted, this is the revolutionary Deep South people don’t know about. Y’all better get ready.
6. “Death to the Culture Vultures,” by Apathy
Whether or not Khloé Kardashian did or did not steal the work of an African-American designer, this song is dedicated to that whole Kardashian clan, who have been five-finger-discounting black culture for most of their lives.
7. “No Frauds,” by Nicki Minaj, Featuring Drake and Lil Wayne
8. “Sober,” by Childish Gambino
We bid goodbye to Donald Glover’s singing, rapping alter ego, Childish Gambino, the most famous name ever created by the Wu-Tang name generator (guess it’s time I try to make “Phantom Swami” happen). Glover announced last weekend that the next album would be his last as Gambino.
9. “Little Red Corvette,” by Prince
The Royal One would have turned 59 on Wednesday. Still doesn’t feel real that he is gone.
10. “Victory,” by Joey Bada$$
The Golden State Warriors are on the verge of making history. If they win Game 4 on Friday night, they will become the first team in NBA history to go undefeated in the playoffs with a record of 16-0. Some people believe it’s already over (I’m one of them). I’m not a Warriors fan, but I ride or die with the Western Conference every year. I also want Kevin Durant to get his ring and silence all the haters who were mad that he wanted to play on a (championship) winning team.
11. Bonus Track: “Tell Me Something Good,” by Rufus, Featuring Chaka Khan
For Comey. Who didn’t disappoint.