Kanye West releases gospel album Jesus Is King
The always controversial Kanye West has released his ninth studio album Jesus Is King.
In typical Kanye West fashion, the album was released after a string of delays and pushbacks, causing his loyal and often rabid fanbase to temporarily lose their cool.
Prisoners often find themselves mixed up in ideological warfare that has nothing to do with their rehabilitation, and everything to do with opposing cultural forces. Such is the case with born-again Christian pop star Kanye West’s recent visit to the Harris County Jail in Texas. West brought his musical worship service to prisoners, leading with light and God’s love, to the people who need it most. For that, the local Sheriff Ed Gonzales, West, and the prisoners were admonished by anti-faith group The Freedom from Religion Foundation.
Sheriff Gonzalez and the prisoners at Harris County Jail had a different take.
While The Freedom from Religion Foundation primarily files lawsuits and does not go into prisons to help prisoners in their journey toward atonement, forgiveness, and reentering society, they took issue with West’s work to actually help people. This is some of the most elitist, entitled, patronizing displays of legal bludgeoning since The Freedom from Religion Foundation took issue with the federal funding of a mentorship program for the children of prisoners.
West made the appearance at the Harris County Jail for a worship service prior to attending televangelist Joel Osteen’s ministry, and repeatedly told the crowd of men in orange jumpsuits that “This is a mission, not a show.” It was that mission that got him in trouble with the atheists, who must think there is some better way to salvation and healing than seeking forgiveness and absolution from a higher power. Perhaps they have a plan to go into prisons and give a concert about how a secular life of consumerist materialism will lead to healing. But probably they don’t.
Despite the downturn in religious practice in the United States, faith in God is still often a way for people to discover a healthy path toward healing and becoming their best selves. While the argument against the intrusion of church into state affairs is judicially established, the emergence of atheism as a religious force should now be subject to those same considerations. Organized atheism is very similar to organized religion, except adherents rally around the absence of God instead of his existence.
Atheism is not neutral, it is, in fact, its own growing belief system. It is just as intrusive to bar religious practice in favour of anti-religious practice, because both are belief systems. If prisoners would rather not be party to either kind of faith practice, or worship service, or nothing service, they don’t have to be. What The Freedom from Religion Foundation doesn’t want to admit to is that putting trust in a higher power in order to become a better person more aligned with the values of kindness, love, and forgiveness, works.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation has that much beef with God and faith that they deny a person’s betterment by demanding that only non faith-based intellectual and emotional tools be sanctioned. Their argument is that classic separation of church and state squabble that keeps prayers out of schools, the mention of God off of memorials to fallen soldiers, and money flowing away from programs that actually help people instead of keeping their feet nailed to the same detrimental path that brought them to prison in the first place.
The argument made against West’s mission was that the prisoners are “literally a captive audience—who have a deep and immediate interest in being seen favourably by the jail staff.” The Freedom from Religion Foundation thinks so little of prisoners’ ability to think for themselves that they would rather deny those who want to participate in religious service than believe that those who don’t want to attend will feel coerced to do so.
Perhaps up next will be the legal removal of every kind of religious services from prisons, chaplains from the armed forces, and crosses atop churches from being visible. If these atheists really cared about the welfare of those men and women suffering in our overcrowded prison systems, they would use their legal funds to bring programs to those incarcerated souls who need uplifting, who need to hear a message that life has meaning and that caring and love are truly possible. Using the court system to belittle and demean those who have already been subjected to the inequities of that system is certainly unreasonably cruel.
Baby raves are all the rage in California. DJ-driven, high beats parties for toddlers, have made a splash in the Bay Area, with tickets selling out in minutes and parents driving their pacifier sucking party-goers hours to get to the Oakland warehouse where kids can dance and play. The image it calls to mind is dozens upon dozens of spoiled toddlers in frills and dayglo running around while loud electro-pop plays, with harried parents standing on the sidelines checking their phones.
The original raves of the 80s and 90s were drug-fuelled DJ dance parties, where high beats per minute electronic tracks throbbed under pulsing lights. Parties were thrown in warehouses, outdoors, or at nightclubs, and rave culture had a hippie-futurist vibe. In bright colours, with glow sticks, gravity-defying hairstyles, and body paint, accessorized with stuffed animals and mini backpacks, teens and young adults would dance all night to what was then called techno. Mostly they were on drugs, and that extrasensory influence made encounter with music, light, and stranger all the more exhilarating, if toxic and dangerous.
The concept of a baby rave looks a bit absurd on its surface, something of an indulgence. Hosted by the Bay Area Children’s Theatre, it’s a way for them to earn money outside of the traditional revenue streams, and for parents, it’s a $7, hour and a half long, child activity. When admission to zoos, museums, playgroups, and other enriching activities can really add up, seven bucks to let your kids tire themselves out and throw themselves around seems like a great deal. Plus, for some parents, it’s a way to introduce their kids to the culture of their youth, even if that culture was more about drug-fuelled mayhem that Beiber induced bouncing.
Boomer parents took their kids to stadium concerts for The Wiggles, and Millennial and Gen X parents take their kids to baby raves. It’s basically the same thing. If only there’d been kid versions of discos for all those strange, late-stage boomer parents who came of age in the 70s to take their wee ones too in the early 00s.
As the culture moves on, past trends catch up with us, and we experience nostalgia for the oddest things. Dance clubs and raves were a mainstay of my own youthful exuberance, and if there were a baby rave in Brooklyn, I would definitely have taken my kid. As it is, rave culture has grown up a bit and isn’t just for the late-night crowd anymore. Day raves are a great excuse to skip a workout, and instead of hot pants and body stockings, moms show up in yoga pants, mindful of school pick up time. In the UK, birthplace of the rave scene, they’ve gone beyond baby raves to family raves, where the whole family can show up and get down. This is at least as wholesome as the time my mom took me to a Grateful Dead show.
Easy stuff for kids to do is in short supply. There aren’t really a ton of options of cheap things for parents to do with their kids on the weekends that don’t involve a hefty dose of parent enthusiasm, as well. For this generation of parents, raised on enrichment, crazed after school sports schedules, and any and all extracurriculars with which to pad their college applications, the prospect of doing the same for their kids, with two parents working high stress jobs, is pretty daunting. But the advent of the knowledge economy has locked parents and kids into this vice of constant achievement, endless pressure, and a nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic that for sure leads to all involved to need to blow off some serious steam.
Speaking to the LA Times, Conor P. Williams, of the Century Foundation in Washington, D.C. noted that “It’s hard, if you’re [both] working 50 or 60 hours a week, to pull it together on a weekend to offer 12 hours of entertainment. Structured activities give parents a moment to wipe their brow and catch their breath.”
Parenting is different than it used to be. There’s no way around that. We’re never going to go back to the days of neglectful parenting, when kids were told to be home by dark and expected to entertain themselves. It may seem like pandering to our youth, but the stakes of child-rearing have never been higher. Parents with high-stress jobs, endless education debt, and shrinking amounts of free time, feel a need to foist that same lifestyle onto their little ones.
As blue-collar jobs dry up in the Bay Area, perhaps parents should stop to consider whether this lifestyle of perpetual productivity is what they want for their kids, or if it makes sense to show their children that there are other options. Baby raves have the benefit of not being about brainpower or production, they’re simply about having fun and running around. Now if parents could only be convinced to let kids go out and play, kids, parents, and culture would be a lot better off.
LeBron James has not had a history of silence on social issues facing the U.S. In speaking candidly with Jon Stewart, he said: “at the end of the day when I decided I was going to start speaking up, and not giving a fuck about the backlash, or if it affects me, my whole mindset was: it’s not about me. I think [Mohammed] Ali already knew that it wasn’t about him. I’m gonna get the backlash. I’m gonna go to jail, for what this is gonna do for the next group, for the next athlete, for the next minority who wants to speak up.
That’s true for social justice issues in the U.S., but for LeBron, youth in the rest of the world just doesn’t deserve his support.
LeBron was asked about the NBA-China debacle that saw the NBA grovel and apologize for the Houston Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, and his comments supporting freedom and democracy for Hong Kong. LeBron James had the gall to say: “We all talk about this freedom of speech. Yes, we all do have freedom of speech, but at times, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others, and you’re only thinking about yourself. I don’t want to get in a word … sentence feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke. And so many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and what we say and what we do. Even though yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that too.”
It’s astonishing to see such a flip flop on free speech from James. What changed? The NBA, which makes millions off Chinese revenue, has effectively muzzled its staff and players from speaking out in favour of democracy since Morey’s comments. The NBA has exposed itself as being deeply hypocritical on the issue of human rights and King James has just cemented his status as King of the Hypocrites.
The NBA is an enormous industry in China. Brought to China by YMCA missionaries in the late 1800s, basketball became much loved by the people. Mao was a proponent of the sport as well, as were the generals in the Red Army. When Chinese media began playing NBA highlight reels in the 1980s, the country was hooked. In the 1990s, the NBA signed a Television deal with China, just in time for Michael Jordan to capture the hearts of a new fan base, and the NBA in China exploded. Merchandise sales followed.
Basketball in China was not political, it was instead an arena where Chinese and American fans could come together for entertainment that had nothing to do with social differences. The Houston Rockets drafted Yao Ming in a first round draft pick in 2002, and brought intense national pride to Chinese basketball fans. The NBA in China, as have so many other American companies, have steered clear of any political conversation regarding China’s totalitarianism or human right abuses. There is clearly a profit motive here, but also a well-intentioned (albeit poorly executed) goal of keeping basketball in a place where people could enjoy the game for entertainment value alone.
James was echoing the sentiments of the NBA in his response to Morey. The NBA basically wanted Morey to shut up. But what happened is that the NBA, in trying to appease China, angered both U.S. free speech advocates and Chinese basketball fans. Chinese state TV pulled the preseason Rockets games from their broadcast schedule, and the American media and the Twitterverse freaked out. When NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the situation while on a visit to Asia in support of the preseason games being played on the continent, he walked a very fine line.
“There is no doubt, the economic impact is already clear,” Silver said to Kyodo news. “There have already been fairly dramatic consequences from that tweet, and I have read some of the media suggesting that we are not supporting Daryl Morey, but in fact we have… I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear… that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression.”
With the NBA’s biggest star and ambassador advocating for Morey’s “reeducation,” those words might ring a bit hollow. James tried to clean up his mess by explaining that his teammates and the league have had a “difficult week”:
The protestors in Hong Kong have had a “difficult week” or two themselves. But James is here to deliver the NBA’s message of silence and collaboration with a brutal communist dictatorship. The Hong Kong protesters need to be supported. Period.
The silver lining of this dark cloud over the NBA is that a new basketball superstar has emerged in the name of Enes Kanter. Kanter immediately tweeted his disgust for James’ terrible Hong Kong by speaking out about his own plight fighting for democracy in Turkey.
Kantor followed up with an impassioned op-ed for the Boston Globe about his activism. Perhaps Kanter could take some time out of his busy schedule to educate Lebron about the importance of democracy and free speech. After all, if there’s one thing that this whole embarrassing fiasco has revealed, it’s that the one who needs an education is LeBron James.
Controversial rapper Takashi 6ix9ine has just signed a 2 album $13 million deal despite being behind bars according to Global News. The Brooklyn native, whose legal name is Daniel Hernandez, was arrested in November last year with a minimum sentence of 47 years in prison after pleading guilty to a cavalcade of charges including firearm offences.
Takashi 6ix9ine has had massive success in recent years, with over 15.5 million followers on Instagram. He has also seen commercial success, with songs such as “Bebe,” which has reached over 900 million views on YouTube and his certified Platinum record Dummy Boy.
Prosecutors offered the 23-year old rapper a deal to reduce his sentence in exchange for testifying against members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods. The Nine Try are an offshoot of the Bloods gang of which Hernandez used to be a member. He told the judge presiding over the case that he joined the gang in the fall of 2017. Takeshi admitted that he helped gang members in a variety of crimes to meet the new member pledge of inductees to the gang to commit two crimes “I did this to maintain or increase my own standing in Nine Trey.”
This September, the Gummo rapper testified for the prosecution of Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack and Anthony “Harv” Ellison, two leaders of the Nine Trey gang. Hernandez testified in front of a Manhattan jury, describing his time with the gang. Takashi admitted to attempting to assist in the killing of a rival gang member. 6ix9ine said he was later kidnapped by gang members at gunpoint after a falling-out.
The Stoopid rapper was originally going to be sentenced on January 23, 2020, but Billboard has reported that it has now been moved to Dec 18, 2019.
It is currently unclear how Takashi plans to record new music while in prison for his two-album record deal with 10k project, worth $13.2 million. According to Rolling Stone, The deal stipulates for two albums to be created, one in English and one in Spanish, a first for the rapper.