This is an email from The Renaissance Rundown, a newsletter by The Renaissance Project.

The Renaissance Rundown: Heat 90 — We Cry Running In the 90s

A festival with old school music acts, rappers hit with RICO charges, and mass violence in America previews the summer.

What’s good y’all?

Once again, Juwan is here subbing in for Paul and bringing another Rundown to you this week. We’re running into the 90s with this edition of the newsletter, and we’re always excited to reach new milestones.

JUST A MOMENT…

There’s plenty of music news to focus on this week, and we will get to it, but trying to focus on anything other than racism, terrorism, and violence this weekend is just wrong. Media writ-large has already done enough to avoid focusing on it for a long time, and that didn’t stop with the murder of at least 10 people in Buffalo, New York, by someone who bought into racism based on memes and carrying a AR with a racial slur written on it. Mentioning it here won’t stop any of that either, but it is more important to do so to exemplify what many others are not: this is not normal.

It may seem like we’re powerless to change any of this, and in the immediacy our abilities are of course limited, but we do not have to accept this at all. Each and every one of us can, and will, be next if we don’t recognize that these murders aren’t random or crazed occurrences.

As researcher and editor Mark Follman said previously, “This is planned violence. There is, in every one of these cases, always a trail of behavioral warning signs… The general public views mass shooters as people who are totally crazy, insane. It fits with the idea of snapping, as if these people are totally detached from reality. But there is actually a very rational thought process in a lot of these cases that goes into developing the idea of planning violence and preparing for it and then carrying it out.”

I won’t preach further, but I’ll put this — dated, yes, but absolutely still relevant — song here to encourage everyone to take a moment and imagine a place, a world without this happening. It is possible.

“Just A Moment” — Nas feat. Quan — Street’s Disciple

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_49iKyoQcfs

ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In case you missed it… Paul is on the mend following a surgery earlier this month to address a non-life threatening injury he had. He’s okay, but let him know you’re thinking about him and hope he recovers well on his Instagram, Twitter, or website! I (Juwan J. Holmes) am helming The Renaissance Rundown newsletter in the meantime.

HAVE YOU HEARD…

This weekend featured the top premiere offering of hip-hop that music listeners will get before the summer: Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers double album arrived to much-expected fanfare, and there’s plenty people are already unpacking from it. If you haven’t listened or seen Twitter already, prepare for the use (and subsequent denial) of anti-gay slurs, bemoaning of cancel culture, and rejection of celebrity culture. The guest appearances you can expect include Taylour Paige on “We Cry Together,”

Beyond that, most of the week’s news focused on the slew of indictments against several prominent Atlanta rappers and rap figures that were announced on May 9 (right after our last newsletter), which led to the arrest of Young Thug and Gunna. Essentially, authorities accuse the Atlanta-based YSL collective/record label as also doubling as a gang that has not only practiced gang activity for much of the last few years, but is responsible for about 50 shootings — including the attempted murder of YFN Lucci, a rapper currently incarcerated and most prominent member of the “rival” YFN group, as part of an alleged street war.

56 charges were filed against 28 alleged members of YSL in Fulton County, Georgia under the state’s version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which allows authorities to charge individuals involved or associated with an operation committing criminal acts, even if they did not commit all the alleged criminal actions undertaken throughout the operation. Prosecutors specifically used lyrics by Thug and Gunna as evidence to support their allegations before a grand jury. (You can read the full 88-page indictment via this link.)

Moving on — remember that perfect music festival lineup that came out two years ago that sounded too good to be true because it had nearly every single 90s and 2000s act ever worth knowing? Yeah, it — it being the “Lovers & Friends Festival” — finally happened. After the pandemic and a slew of other issues, the two-day show went ahead in its new host town of Las Vegas —except for a near-stampede on Saturday that left multiple people injured after an alleged active shooter situation (which this weekend also had plenty of) turned into a false alarm. That was just some of the chaos, but most of the rest of it was what you’d expect from a giant open-field fest.

Then, there were the Billboard Music Awards (BBMAs) last night, hosted by the one and only Diddy. It may not shock you, but the billionaire music mogul used the opportunity to “un-canceling the canceled,” because that’s what society needs right now. So viewers were made to ‘welcome back’ the supposedly-cancelled Travis Scott in his first TV appearance post-Astroworld disaster TV appearance, and supposedly-redeemed Morgan Wallen in his first, post-racial slur use scandal.

Amongst the actual, y’know, awards to be given out: Drake took home “Top Artist,” “Top Male Artist,” and “Top Rap Artist,” and “Top Male Rap Artist” honors, among others — and his album Certified Lover Boy received “Top Rap Album.” Doja Cat took home multiple R&B BBMAs, and Kanye West won “Best Gospel Artist” and “Top Gospel Song” honors as ‘Ye.’ Janet Jackson presented Mary J. Blige with the Billboard Music Icon Award, only the eleventh artist to receive the honor. See the night’s full awards results in HipHopDX.

In other news:

MUSIC RELEASES

This past week: In addition to Lamar’s Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, Leikeli47’s Shape Up, and Lil Eazzyy’s Too Eazzyy also came out on May 13. Blac Youngsta’s 4Life and A$AP Ant’s Lil Black Jean Jacket 3 dropped on May 12.

Coming up, Dreezy & Hit-Boy’s Hit-Girl is now expected to drop this weekend on May 20, along with M Huncho’s debut album Chasing Euphoria, lil Gnar’s die bout it, Ravyn Lenae’s Hypnos, and YNW BSlime’s Goat. Sean Paul’s Scorcha is still expected on May 27, while Trippie Redd‘s album is still slated for a May release, according to HipHopDX.

RELAY

Here, we relay from a portion of an article written recently regarding hip hop.

This week, we’re relaying from Rolling Stone contributing editor Rob Sheffield’s article “RIP, iPod: A Tribute to the Device That Revolutionized the Art of Music Fandom”:

People talk about this device in terms of how it started the digital-music era, or even how it paved the way for the smartphone. But in retrospect, now it looks like the last format designed for old-school pre-streaming trends, where music is something you “have,” rather than something you lease.

Listening to the iPod, you’re off the grid. You are not being tracked, measured, counted, rated, studied, data-mined, or researched. It’s nobody’s business, just you and the tunes. It keeps track of play counts, but that’s just for your personal stat-crunching amusement — it doesn’t judge you.

RECOMMENDED SONGS …for some reason, all the reasons, no reasons

Thanks for reading, for somewhere between the first and ninetieth time, The Renaissance Rundown. If you didn’t know, you can find me on every social at @/JuwantheCurator (in addition to @JuwantheWriter on Twitter), my latest work and links at linktr.ee/JuwantheCurator, and my own site, juwanthecurator.wordpress.com.

As always, follow The Renaissance Project (@TheRenProj) via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr.

See y’all next week.

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