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Jay-Z’s Curious NFL Gig and Young Thug’s Long-Awaited Studio Debut

Also from the week in music: 3ohBlack’s micro-memed moment, Cousin Stizz’s latest album, and JPEGMAFIA’s best song title yet

Ringer illustration

Because he has nothing better to do with his time, each week, Micah Peters riffs on the most awe-inspiring, confounding, addictive, or otherwise hilarious moments from the week in music. This week:

Jay-Z inks deal with the NFL, raises various eyebrows

A little over a year ago now, Jay-Z said no to the Super Bowl and suggested that it was the NFL that could use a boost from him, and not the other way around. As a minor detail, he was dancing around an empty Louvre, pretty close to the Mona Lisa, with Beyoncé, as he said it. And now, Jay-Z has landed a new gig as the NFL’s “live entertainment strategist,” meaning he’ll oversee some of the league’s programming, including, most notably, this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

With Colin Kaepernick still out of work, and reportedly not involved in the deal, this occasioned more debate over liberatory praxis and what, exactly, would satisfy the terms of progress. Jay-Z, who’s been one of Kaepernick’s more vocal supporters and counts the former NFL quarterback as an “inspiration,” said that he thinks “we’re past kneeling. It’s time for action.” Jay continued, “I’m not minimizing that part of it, that’s a necessary part of the process. But now we all know what’s going on: The kneeling was not about Colin having a job, it was about ‘let me bring attention to injustice.’ Now how do we address that injustice? What’s the way forward?”

It’d be easier to believe Jay’s interest in “addressing injustice” and “finding a way forward” if the language in his presser weren’t so vague, and if this all didn’t, on its face, seem so much like a cash grab, and a subversion of Kaepernick’s original protest. Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid, who was the first to kneel with Kaepernick when both played for the 49ers, was unimpressed:

So, while a nominal step forward is being taken, we now have more questions than answers. Like, what is going on? What does “action” mean to Jay-Z, specifically? Progress? Change? Justice?

At the time of publishing, the financials of Jay’s alignment with the league have yet to be disclosed.

The dead-eyed negativity of 3ohBlack’s “All Talk”

The music video for DMV rapper 3ohBlack’s “All Talk” begins with a hefty disclaimer, in Impact font: “WARNING—The video you are about to watch contains images that do not express, relate, or represent anyone involved in the making of this video. All the items used in this video are strictly props.”

“All Talk” has its inexpiable moment in the second verse, when 3ohBlack imagines his detractors as home invaders, which gives him an excuse to, well, lay them flat. It’s an oddly playful moment in the song, and a totally ridiculous one in the video. That clip from “All Talk” bounced around the corners of the internet this week, bringing a fair amount of attention—as in, there are reaction videos to it popping up on YouTube—to a song that’s been just sitting there on Spotify since late April.

Cousin Stizz and $ean Wire’s perfect synergy on “Soso”

“Anonymous,” a collaboration with Kenny Beats and Smino, has the biggest collection of names on Cousin Stizz’s Trying To Find My Next Thrill; it also finds Stizz, typically croaky and mesmerizing, nearly singing. Smino is sly, then robust, then impossible, nearly making an entirely different song.

“Soso” works better, I think, and also finds Stizz at his coolest: domineering, and quick, but not in a hurry. It’s fun to hear him twist around lines like “my ice water water now, still mixin’ fly with the juices, still got my body out of order,” flattening his vowels to make “water” and “order” sound like entirely new words. Fellow Boston artist $ean Wire matches him for energy and craft, delivering a lively third verse full of mini-hooks, and an actual hook hook that sneaks into your brain: “Don’t call me so-so. Don’t call me so-so.”

All of everything about JPEGMAFIA’s “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am a Thot”

Maybe it’s better if I just list some of the things I love about this.

  1. That “Jesus Forgive Me, I’m A Thot” may just eclipse “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies” in the ranking of Goading JPEGMAFIA Song Titles.
  2. How close the lines “pray for my children, I can’t provide, I feel 45” and “dressed in your grandmama’s hand-me-downs, pussy nigga” appear to each other.
  3. The moment in the video where Peggy spins around a living room in a shawl quilted from actual hand-me-down dresses.

Young Thug and J.Cole conspire to make it “Hot”

“Middle Child” is J. Cole’s highest-charting single ever, and though the story of a career spent in the space between two distinct generations of rappers is a compelling one, the song is turgid and sort of boring.

“Hot,” from Young Thug’s debut album(!), executive produced by J. Cole(!!), is like if “Middle Child” were a Cartier-sponsored halftime show at the Bubble Bowl, with a bigger horn section and pyrotechnics. By no means is it boring.