Kendrick Lamar's 'Alright' Is Our Song of the Summer

A bright spot on an otherwise bleak album, Kendrick Lamar’s “Alright” instantly feels necessary. Besides being the most celebratory jam on To Pimp a Butterfly, it’s a modern-day liberation anthem. It’s that first salvational gasp after nearly drowning. Yet, for such a happy song, “Alright” is innately sad. By design,… »8/13/15 11:28am8/13/15 11:28am

Activist Johnetta Elzie Talks Ferguson & Black Lives Matter

During the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the murder of Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson, a few activists rose from the fray. Johnetta Elzie, 25, was one of those people along with her partner DeRay Mckesson, and as a St. Louis local, she was on the scene shortly after Brown was killed and… »7/17/15 4:15pm7/17/15 4:15pm

Watch Alessia Cara Do 'Bad Blood' Better Than Taylor Swift Herself

Alessia Cara is going to be a star. You can hear the 18-year-old Def Jam signee flex quietly in her first single “Here,” a track that drags and flutters like Amy Winehouse in a haze of suburban innocence; Alessia’s got a preternatural sense of a beat’s interstices and pockets, and a voice that’s all rough, silvery,… »7/09/15 10:50am7/09/15 10:50am

What Are You Doing Here?: Investigating the Men of Essence Festival

Essence magazine is for black women and so is the Essence Music Festival, but the latter attracts both men and women. For years, I’ve wondered what dudes were doing at an event hosting speakers and performers like Iyanla Vanzant, Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kandi Burruss and Mary J. Blige. »7/06/15 4:30pm7/06/15 4:30pm

Watch Kendrick Lamar's Great 'King Kunta' Vid, With Love from Compton

The fact that Kendrick Lamar premiered the video for "King Kunta" on a Times Square billboard for a headphone company that Dr. Dre sold to Apple for $3 billion should not be lost: Compton officially came up, and Kendrick is here to floss the irrefutable Comptonness of it all. It's a "mama we made it" moment, his… »4/02/15 1:00pm4/02/15 1:00pm

Freedom Song: A Conversation About the State of Black Liberation Music

In the lyric pamphlet to Black Messiah, D'Angelo's third album after 14 years away from the spotlight, the soul-savant explains his reasoning behind its title and sudden release: "Some will jump to the conclusion that I am calling myself a Black Messiah," he begins. "For me the title is about all of us...It's about… »3/25/15 4:34pm3/25/15 4:34pm