The Internet Is Exploding: 10 Must-Read Articles This Week 5.3.20

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There were some things I was feeling on the internet this week, but also a lot I was not into. Highlights: Joi’s sonic solitude, Megan Thee Stallion feat. Beyoncé, Drake, ‘The Infamous,’ Vive La Vie Bohème, normalizing the new normal, wealth shown to scale, and fake memes. 

1. Longreads: Funk Lessons in Sonic Solitude

I had so much fun reading this. That was partially due to learning about how the artist Joi “occupies space in the lineage of artists who thrive across genre line,” demonstrating with how “Black people live hyphenated lives, so it’s fair to say our musicians embody and shift the context of what W.E.B. Du Bois called ‘double consciousness,’ musical cross-pollination made available to the Souls of Black Folk.” As engaging as the descriptions of Joi’s work are, it was exploring Lynnée Denise’s 25-year relationship with Joi where “student, fan, and gatekeeper of the musical masters graduate into a league of their own, with a platform to articulate the many ways they’ve been shaped; a tribe of fellow artists marked by the legends” that captivated me the most.



2. Megan Thee Stallion - Savage Remix (feat. Beyoncé)

Damn. I honestly could have made this week’s whole list about Megan Thee Stallion’s remix of “Savage” featuring Beyoncé. Megan Thee Stallion got a Beyoncé feature, which is kinda unheard of because BEYONCE DOESN’T DO FEATURES. Now, I know that I have been critical of Beyoncé and her image in the past—I still am—but I have listened to this song at least 10 times a day since it was released. It is GOOD. Megan Thee Stallion may have single-handedly changed my perspective on Beyoncé. At the very least she has deeply complexified it. Thee Stallion and the Bee. 

However, there might be a little beef engendered in the track as Doja Cat released a remix of “Say So” featuring Nick Minaj on Friday and there are allegedly some lines from Beyoncé and Minaj that could reference each other. I don’t know. But I definitely vibe with the “Savage” remix more. 




To contextualize how impactful this song is, and how much it is exploding the internet, Zach Campbell’s reaction basically sums it up. Both Megan and Beyoncé are from Houston, and one of the best points Campbell makes in this video is how this song is a “big sis, pass the torch, seal of approval, the rights of passage, another strong black person from where I’m from” moment and how “you feel this!” He continues, saying, “on top of it being a pop culture moment, on top of it being a Beyoncé feature, on top of it being a legend kinda ushering in a new legend, it is actually speaking on the black generational gaps” and that is the real point of the song. 



4. YouTube: Megan Thee Stallion | Instagram Live Stream | April 30, 2020

Now, I may have my opinions on Beyoncé’s cultivation of her image, but there is no denying her immense cultural capital. If Zach Campbell’s reaction and explanation isn’t enough, Megan went on Instagram live to explain how much this means as a girl who grew up in Houston going to Destiny’s Child concerts. This is really the beginning of a new era. 



5. Pitchfork: Drake: “Pain 1993” [ft. Playboi Carti]

Honestly, I don’t really know much about Drake, or really anything about his music. Drake released “Pain 1993” feat. Playboi Carti on Thursday, which is being characterized as “the standout track on Drake’s first full-length project of 2020, Dark Lane Demo Tapes.” I listened to the song and I’m not sure I would play it again—but I’m also not sure that I am the best person to make a judgment on Drake as “the thread that’s woven through every Drake song connects us to a past Drake or a future Drake, a Drake whom we can’t know but can envision, one who’s guarded but open, simultaneously beaming or moodily eyeing the camera while pulling his lapels over his cheeks.” Maybe my Drake thread simply isn’t long enough to connect me to the past and present. 



6. The Ringer: “Queens Get the Money”: The Story of Mobb Deep’s ‘The Infamous’ at 25

I’ve been reading a lot of music writing during the pandemic. I’m not exactly sure why this is, especially because I haven’t been listening to much music. But music criticism is my escapist dream. The history of hip-hop is deep and rich and something I’ve only started to actively learn about over the past year or so. Intertwined with this history is The Infamous, Mobb Deep’s second album after their first, Juvenile Hell, flopped. The Infamous was “tested outside, focus-grouped by people who had never set foot in a record label office, full of prideful hometown references.” The album is structured strangely; immediately after the intro comes a long interlude during which P cops to robberies, B&Es, and staying armed on stage, all while taunting rappers with their ‘half-assed rhymes, talking about how much you get high, how much weed you smoke, and that crazy space shit that don’t even make no sense.’” This has the effect of suggesting a whole world is about to unfold before you.”

As a first-time listener, this was an insightful guide to The Infamous. 



7. Entertainment Weekly: Viva ‘La Vie Bohème’!: An oral history of the Rent Act 1 finale

Whenever I think of a musical from my adolescence I always think of Rent. Of course that is for its Pulitzer Prize, three Tonys, and numerous other awards. But it is also because Anthony Rapp, who originated the role of Mark Cohen in the Broadway production of the play and plays him in the film, went to the same summer camp I attended. I went to the camp only about a decade after the play made its Broadway debut and everyone revelled in the alumnus connection.  

“La Vie Bohème,” which ends the play’s first act, is one of the best numbers of the musical. The song “is one of the most mind-boggling assortments of kiss-off lyrics and listing of cultural references ever set to music,” and is particularly known for the line “Actual Reality – Act Up – Fight AIDS,” which as Daphne Rubin-Vega, who originated Mimi Marquez, recalls here was one of those “things that we didn’t say, particularly, and then all of a sudden, blink, and [we] say it on Broadway.” This is the history of one of the most iconic songs from one of the most iconic musicals. 



8. Believer: Distancing #3: Infinite Worlds

Doing this column during the pandemic is HARD. It is hard because, understandably, everything is about the pandemic. But reading, thinking, and writing about it week after week is not something I want to, or can do. Sometimes I need to take a break. I think one of the main reasons I sometimes distance myself from articles on the pandemic is because many of them take a macro approach to how life has changed. Perhaps a better way to explain it is that many of the articles, essays, and stories feel like watching the news with its infinite chyrons. This short article is about life during the pandemic, but a short trip to the store for soy sausages to makes soup is described in such an exacting and mundane way, enjoying “intoxicating, fresh and damp and humid and alive” air, that it normalizes the new normal in a way that I haven’t felt before. 



9. Mkorostoff: Wealth, shown to scale

Designer Mkorostoff created a website that shows wealth to scale. I personally have not scrolled to the end of Jeff Bezos’ wealth. The website is designed so that “every 10 pixels you scroll is $5 million,” and is filled with additional statistics and infographics as Bezos’ wealth increases, including contextualizing how obscene it is compared to other rich individuals, and what could be done with even a fraction of it. 



10. Imgflip: This Meme Does Not Exist

There is now an AI meme generator “trained using public images generated by users of the Imgflip Meme Generator for the top 48 most popular Meme Templates. Beware, no profanity filtering was done on the training data so you may encounter vulgarity.” Honestly, a lot of them are very meta, and they are weirdly addictive to make. 



All images taken from referenced articles. Have a suggestion for next week? Email with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”

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