Not everyone is blessed to have a dad. Sunday’s holiday marks my first since we lost my father, Gary Respers Sr., to Covid-19 in February.There are some whose fathers are still alive but not active in their lives, for whatever reason.Others will spend the day celebrating with their dads.I’m holding space for all of you, no matter what your circumstances may be. And I’ve got some content to help you either mark the holiday or decompress from it — whichever you need.Three things to watch’Fatherhood’Get ready to laugh and cry.Comedic actor Kevin Hart plays a father who is left to raise his newborn daughter alone after a tragedy in this Netflix film, based on a memoir written by Matthew Logelin.Leave it to Hart to bring some funny to a heartbreaking plot — and Netflix has timed the project perfectly for Father’s Day.The film costars Alfre Woodard and Lil Rel Howery.”Fatherhood” starts streaming on Friday.’iCarly’ rebootC’mon, nostalgia!The former hit Nickelodeon teen sitcom is back nearly nine years after the series finale.Miranda Cosgrove reprises her role as Carly Shay, who in the original series was a teenager starring in her own Web series.In the new series, Carly and her crew are back together and trying to navigate their 20s.The new “iCarly” debuts Thursday on Paramount+. ‘Simone vs Herself’ Facebook Watch is getting us into the Olympic spirit. “Simone vs Herself” is a seven-episode series that “will follow the journey of one of the greatest athletes of all time as she seeks to further challenge herself and what is possible as a gymnast.” The docuseries goes behind the scenes as Biles continues to strive for excellence.”A 19-time World Champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist, Simone has already reached the mountaintop,” according to the news release. “But as the series will reveal, there are peaks left to scale while balancing adversity — from adjusting to a postponed Olympics to conquering the challenges that come with success and the weight of enormous expectations.”It debuted Tuesday.Two things to listen to Monsters, unite!!Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way: The Tenth Anniversary” is out Friday, and it’s a good reminder of how many hits she has gifted us with.The new version includes all 14 tracks from the 2011 album with six alternate versions, reimagined by LGBTQIA+ artists and advocates. It’s just one example of her constant support of that community, which has fully embraced the pop icon.The album drops Friday.Juneteenth happens on Saturday, and in honor of it, musical artist BLKBOK is dropping his “Black Book” album.The holiday celebrates the emancipation of those enslaved in the US.A neoclassical pianist who has performed with the likes of Rihanna and Justin Timberlake, he said the album “is a series of musical poems that illustrate my thoughts, emotions, and perspectives of the social climate that we live in, stories of my personal relationships, and an opportunity to view the world through the keys of the piano.”One thing to talk aboutAhhhhh, diversity.It’s a topic not unfamiliar to the regular readers of this newsletter. This week, we learned that people will complain if they feel like there is not enough diversity in a diverse project.Such was the case with Lin-Manuel Miranda’s latest film, “In the Heights.”While it focuses on the Latinx community and is set in the heavily Latino New York City neighborhood of Washington Heights, there were complaints the film wasn’t representative enough of Afro-Latinos with dark skin in lead roles. Miranda posted an apology on Monday.”In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry,” he wrote.Which begs the question: When everyone seems focused on representation, is it even possible to fully represent everyone?Something to sip onSpeaking of, model Gigi Hadid sounds like she is feeling a way about people not understanding her identity.In an interview with i-D, the new mom (she welcomed a daughter with singer and former One Direction member Zayn Malik last September) was asked about her parenting style, which included a thought about raising biracial children.”In certain situations, I feel — or I’m made to feel — that I’m too white to stand up for part of my Arab heritage,” said Hadid, whose real estate magnate father, Mohamed Hadid, is of Palestinian descent. “You go through life trying to figure out where you fit in racially.”Hadid’s sister Bella, who is also a model, made headlines last month after she documented participating in a pro-Palestine protest rally.Gigi Hadid told i-D she asks, “Is what I am, or what I have, enough to do what I feel is right?”She continued, “But then, also, is that taking advantage of the privilege of having the whiteness within me, right? Am I allowed to speak for this side of me, or is that speaking on something that I don’t experience enough to know?” Hadid added that she believes her daughter, Khai, “will grow up feeling out the way that she can or wants to be a bridge for her different ethnicities.”But I think that it will be nice to be able to have those conversations, and see where she comes from (with) it, without us putting that onto her,” she said. “What comes from her is what I’m most excited about, and being able to add to that or answer her questions, you know?”
R&B/Hip-Hop Fresh Picks of the Week: Nao, Stunna Gambino, Yebba & More
“Been in the darkness for a while, we’ll see the rays shining down,” Nao sings with psychedelic vocals as she marvels at the beauty of life. Her spacey new song “And Then Life Was Beautiful” is the title track of the English singer’s upcoming album of the same name, scheduled to release Sept. 24.Stunna Gambino,…
“Been in the darkness for a while, we’ll see the rays shining down,” Nao sings with psychedelic vocals as she marvels at the beauty of life. Her spacey new song “And Then Life Was Beautiful” is the title track of the English singer’s upcoming album of the same name, scheduled to release Sept. 24.Stunna Gambino, “ZAZA”Hailing from Washington Heights, 19-year-old rapper Stunna Gambino delivers “ZAZA,” a track that follows his noteworthy feature on The Kid LAROI’s “Not Sober.” Declaring himself as “the neighborhood hero,” Gambino talks his s–t, proving his worthiness to take the city’s top spot.Yebba, “Louie Bag” feat. SminoSoulful songstress Yebba has finally released a track that she says has been three years in the making. With her untouchable vocal skills, the 26-year-old gospel-rooted singer pensively narrates the period following her mother’s tragic suicide. A punchy verse from Smino balances out the Arkansas native’s smooth melodies, the duo forming a musical yin and yang.Maxo Kream, “Local Joker” With his signature, molasses-thick flow, Maxo Kream returns with “Local Joker,” a laid-back single from his upcoming album, a follow-up to Brandon Banks. With lo-fi elements and bright, trap drums, the track is a feel-good alternative to Kream’s straight-forward trap sounds, allowing the Houston-bred rapper to reminisce on how far he’s come from being a local joker.Projexx feat. Toian, “UndaPresha” “Me know you wan fi love me,” Projexx confidently declares in the opening line of his upbeat single, “UndaPresha.” The rising Jamaican artist rides around in Miami alongside singer Toian, their chemistry both heard and seen in the track’s summer-fresh visual.Amaria feat. Mick Jenkins, “Got Me Like”Amaria’s mesmerizing vocals lure you into a universe where love is both exciting and comfortable in her reverent new track with Mick Jenkins. “Would you love me if nobody knows?” she monologues over churchy organ flourishes.Liv.e, “_21”“_21” leads the tracklist on Liv.e’s dynamic new EP CWTTY+ and introduces a palette of airy, layered vocals, lively percussion and breezy guitar. “Wish I could know what’s going on in your head, I’ma always be in love with you,” the Dallas-raised artist sings.Michi, “Talk Big” With raspy vocals and a slinking bassline, Michi demands that self-centered people check their attitudes at the door in “Talk Big,” her first release this year. “Been through too much bs by the hand of men with egos bigger than their you know what,” she wrote about the track on Instagram. “This song was a release for me to comment on that.”Anaiis feat. Topaz Jones, “Chuu” Inspired by the visuals of Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, Anaiis releases a captivating visual to accompany her single, “Chuu.” The multilingual songstress twists and turns, moving through contrasting scenes while pouring out tales of self-discovery and love atop angelic harmonies and an ethereal instrumental.Bri Steves feat. Guapdad 4000, “GAF” Is there any worse feeling than caring about someone when you don’t want to? “I wish I didn’t give a f*ck about you,” Bri Steves sings on her new track with Guapdad 4000 over flickers of vibey electric guitar. The moody new song is one of nine off Steves’ new EP TBH, which dropped July 30.
7 Can’t-Miss Moments From the 2021 Stellar Gospel Music Awards
A “Crazy” InterpolationPastor Mike Jr., who was named artist of the year, performed two songs: “Big” and “Amazing.” In “Amazing,” he interpolated Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” a No. 2 smash on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016. Pastor Mike Jr. won artist of the year on the strength of his album Big: Freedom Sessions, which also…
A “Crazy” InterpolationPastor Mike Jr., who was named artist of the year, performed two songs: “Big” and “Amazing.” In “Amazing,” he interpolated Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy,” a No. 2 smash on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2016. Pastor Mike Jr. won artist of the year on the strength of his album Big: Freedom Sessions, which also won rap hip hop gospel album of the year. He also won urban/inspirational single or performance of the year for “I Got It.”The Clark Sisters Sing The Clark SistersThe Clark Sisters received the James Cleveland lifetime achievement award. Artists receiving such accolades often watch as other performers sing their greatest hits. But here, the stated message was “There’s only one group that can pay fitting tribute to The Clark Sisters – The Clark Sisters.” The quartet sang parts of four songs: “Is My Living in Vain,” “Blessed & Highly,” “You Brought the Sunshine” and “His Love.” The Clark Sisters were joined by cast members from the biopic The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, which aired on Lifetime in April 2020. One of The Clark Sisters accepted the award by saying “We claim this as our gospel Grammy.” Actually, The Clark Sisters are two-time Grammy winners, though they have yet to receive a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy.Pastor Shirley Says “Get Vaccinated”Pastor Shirley Caesar urged people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as she received the ambassador Dr. Bobby Jones legends award. “I’ve had both of my shots,” she said, and recalled a recent photo shoot where she asked the photographer if he’d been vaccinated. In recounting the story, she pulled way back when the answer came back no. This was a helpful message that may reach some people who have been hard to reach through more traditional means: Get your shot for Pastor Shirley! (Caesar, an 11-time Grammy winner, received a lifetime achievement award from the Recording Academy in 2017.)The Queen of Soul & GospelLady Tramaine Hawkins, who hosted or co-hosted three of the first four Stellar Awards shows in the ’80s, received the Aretha Franklin icon award. Avery Sunshine, Tamela Mann and Yolanda Adams performed Hawkins songs in tribute. Franklin, who died in 2018, was referenced a second time in the show: The new Franklin biopic Respect was the subject of a commercial during the two-hour broadcast.It’s Just His YearJonathan McReynolds performed two songs: “Grace” and, with Mali Music, “Movin’ On.” McReynolds won three awards on the night: male vocalist of the year, contemporary male vocalist of the year and producer of the year, all for his album People. McReynolds and Mali Music won a Grammy in March for “Movin’ On,” which was voted best gospel performance/song.And That’s Why They’re the New Artist of the YearMaverick City Music’s “Jireh” was one of the night’s standout performances and helped explain why the group won the awards for new artist of the year and album of the year, both for their album Maverick City Music Vol 3 Part 1.Big Impact in Small DosesThe show spotlighted three emerging artists in 90-second performances in which they stood in an aisle and sang a song fragment. These were among the night’s most impactful performances, perhaps because they were so low-key. There’s a temptation in gospel performances for performers to dial it up to 10 in terms of intensity. That can come across as overwrought, especially on television. That wasn’t a problem with Nia Allen’s “Wait,” Terrian’s “Stayed on Him” or Jokia’s “Yahweh.” Let’s hope that if and when they are granted full performance slots, they remember that quite often, less is more.
Kris Wu Detained by Chinese Police on Suspicion of Rape
Wu has been “criminally detained” on suspicion of rape “in response to relevant information reported on the internet” including that he “repeatedly lured young women to have sexual relations,” the police statement said. It gave no other details.The pop star had previously denied the accusations. “There was no ‘groupie sex’! There was no ‘underage’!” Wu…
Wu has been “criminally detained” on suspicion of rape “in response to relevant information reported on the internet” including that he “repeatedly lured young women to have sexual relations,” the police statement said. It gave no other details.The pop star had previously denied the accusations. “There was no ‘groupie sex’! There was no ‘underage’!” Wu wrote last month on his social media account. “If there were this kind of thing, please everyone relax, I would put myself in jail!”The news was trending as the no. 1 most searched topic on Weibo on Saturday night, and some users online started commenting on Wu’s social media account, telling him to “Get out of China!”Wu is a Canadian citizen, according to the police statement.The official paper of the Communist Party, the People’s Daily, weighed in on the case, saying in a short opinion post online that “Having a foreign nationality is not a protective talisman, and no matter how big the name is, there is no immunity.”The teenager publicized her accusations on social media and later in an interview with the internet portal NetEase. A day after that interview appeared, at least 10 brands including Porsche and Louis Vuitton broke off endorsement and other deals with Wu.According to the interview, she thought she was meeting Wu for a career opportunity. Instead, his staff who was present forced her to drink. As someone who did not go to bars, she said her tolerance was low and she was drunk after two drinks. The next day, she woke up in Wu’s bed. That morning, he was kind to her and promised to take care of her, she said.The teenager said that was the beginning of what she had thought was their relationship. This was the case until March, when he stopped returning her messages.At first, she said she felt sorry for herself. But after she learned that there were other women who had been treated similarly, she said she felt there were others who were worse-off.“I don’t believe this is just my own personal matter. You can even say that this is a problem with the atmosphere in China’s entertainment circle,” she said in the NetEase interview.Wu said that he had met the young woman on Dec. 5, 2020, but “I didn’t force her to drink,” and “there was not this sort of ‘details’ she describes.”“I didn’t expect my silence to encourage these rumors, and I couldn’t stand it!” Wu previously wrote. “There were a lot of people there that day who can bear witness.”The teenager and Wu both said they had asked authorities to investigate.Saturday’s statement didn’t mention that case and gave no information about the status of that investigation.