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Female icon Nicki Minaj has decided to quit her music career at least for now. Reason: to focus on starting a family. Minaj, is 36 years old, has been atop the female rap game for a decade, sees the window closing on settling down and having a couple kids. The announcement came in the form of a typical Minaj tweet, “I’ve decided to retire & have my family. I know you guys are happy now. To my fans, keep reppin me, do it til da death of me, (X) in the box- cuz ain’t nobody checkin me.” Though she has mentioned that she is planning on getting married very soon, some have suggested that the announcement is “fake news,” that Nicki only did this for attention or that it’s an act of spite to her haters.  It actually makes sense for her to step away at least for a little while. Minaj has sold millions of albums since her first release Pink Friday in 2010 and she’s done major collaborations with famous artists such as Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, and Madonna. Her work as gotten her ten Grammy nominations, five MTV Video Music Awards, nineteen BET Awards and the record for the most Billboard Hot 100 entries by a female solo artist. If this is the end, it has been one heck of a career. We just don’t think it is. Just imagine the return of Nicki Minaj as a mom, still beefing with Cardi B. That will be fun.
Thus far, it can be argued that 2019 has been the year of Lil Nas X, if only based on the record setting success of “Old Town Road.” When you add that he voluntarily revealed his sexuality at the top of the arch, the 21 year old has propelled himself to pop culture stardom in a matter of months. Jump to his appearance on HBO’s talk show The Shop: Interrupted, where he was quizzed about his decision to come out as a homosexual. Despite the question being rather insensitive, especially from host Paul Rivera, X did a great job of staying classy and making his responses both assertive and respectful. Commenting on why he came out X said, “It’s not like being forced (to come out), it’s just that growing up (I’m meant to) hate this stuff (homosexuality). Kevin Hart who was one of the guests on the show, and one who may be overly sensitive because he’s had his own trouble with the subject in his past, questioned what he was referring to.  Lil Nas countered with by saying, “Homosexuality, gay people. Come on now, if you’re really from the hood, you know.” There’s a lot of tension around this subject for some folks and it came to the surface a couple days ago on HBO.  The entire interview has been released and can be found on HBO.
It is no secret Taylor Swift is not a fan of Kanye West given their history, which was mostly provoked by the self proclaimed genius, Kanye. It is also no secret Swift hasn’t exactly gotten on well with rapper Nicki Minaj, but she is working to mend things with one of the aforementioned. We’ll give you a hint, it’s not Kanye! The Minaj rift goes back to 2015 when Minaj tweeted about “losing to white women with very slim bodies” at the VMAs.  Swift countered with, “Maybe one of the men took your slot.” It was petty indeed, but a rift nonetheless. Swift, who has recently been more vocal about her political views, opened up about the incident, saying it helped her understand “a lot about how my privilege allowed me to not have to learn about white privilege. It (racial privilege) is something she is still trying to educate herself on every day.” As Taylor Swift, through introspection, is attempting to clear the air with Minaj, there are absolutely zero signs she wishes to do the same with Kanye and his wife Kim Kardashian.  While promoting her new album Lover, Taylor commented about the couple by saying, “When people are in a hate frenzy, and they find something to mutually hate together, it bonds them”. Shots fired, again! Swift’s album, which debuted last week, is already among the top selling albums of the summer.
Many forget that before ‘Old Town Road,’ Lil Nas X first earned recognition through his social media presence on Twitter and Instagram. X had gone viral several times prior to releasing his record setting single. In a recent interview the instant star commented on earlier days by saying “A lot of the stuff I used to do years before would sometimes go too far. I know I have a platform now, so there’s more of a need to make sure nothing is hurtful or too crazy.” With that statement, the 20 year old displays great insight and introspection. His advice would benefit all of us as we use our social media accounts. Use them for positivity and for helping others. X has certainly had to take his fair share of backlash after his sexuality announcement in June, but he’s applying his positive mentality to understand and forgive. Just check out some of his tweets in response to harsh Twitter comments to see the positive, fun-loving approach he has taken.
MTV and Diddy are bringing back the hit show “Making the Band” next year. The premise of the show is to form a band from scratch via auditions, build group chemistry and then follow the progress of that group as their careers take off.  In its prior seasons the show provided a platform for groups such as O-Town, Day26, and Danity Kane. The new season will become more global, a reflection of the more international music business that exists today.  Diddy and his team are currently scouring the globe for the best undiscovered talent for next season’s show. It remains to be seen if the focus will be on developing Pop / R&B / Hip Hop groups as in season’s past or if the broader search will result in broader genres. Changes to Making the Band represent just one of the many adjustments to current shows and new shows being added to the MTV lineup in the coming year.

June was a big month for Lil Nas X — he released his first EP, his hit Old Town Road reached 14 weeks straight at #1 on the charts, and to cap it all off, he got a monkey off his back that was likely there for quite some time. June is also gay pride month, and that proverbial monkey was in fact the news that Lil Nas X is gay, and he announced it in a rather laid back and casual way.

Taking to social media as he often does, Lil Nas X through a series of tweets revealed and confirmed his sexuality several times using humor, wit, and sarcasm. It was a tweet on Sunday that was the groundbreaker and has over 500K likes and 100K retweets.

It read:

“Some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. But before this month ends i want y’all to listen closely to c7osure.” The tweet was followed by a rainbow emoji, and starface emoji’s.

After seeing the tweet and going back to read the lyrics of C7osure (off of “7” his EP) it became very clear the song is 100% about his battle and need to come out of the closet — for closure of course!

Back to twitter, Lil Nas X took any jokes or slanderous comments as exactly that, and instead of trying to fight them, he embraced them, and made jokes of the jokes and slander of the slander.

“Dead*ss thought I made it obvious” he tweeted while posting the cover of his EP and focusing in on one of the large buildings in the background that was rainbow colored. He’d then go on to say “Just because I’m gay dont mean I’m not straight”. Finally to clear everything up, he let twitter know that “Old town road is literally about horses”.

Lil Nas X has to be given a lot of credit for the manner in which he conducted himself through a very challenging moment in his young life. He wasn’t seeking attention, praise, or glorification, but rather just the freedom and relief of the world knowing who he truly is. He did so with grace, humor, and respect for others opinions. The only question about Lil Nas X that should be asked now is, what music is next for the young up-and-coming artist.

“Drizzy” Drake has had quite the month of June. He has announced that he is in “album mode”, his beloved Raptors have won their first NBA Championship, and he released a two pack of songs to follow. One of those two songs, Money in the Grave, has debuted in the Hot 100, which was the icing on the cake for Drake’s June of successes. With Money in the Grave debuting as number 7 in the Hot 100, Drake’s thirty-fifth top 10 track, he breaks the tie at thirty-four with The Beatles for the second most top 10 songs all the time. Any record that is broken previously held by someone with such prestige like The Beatles is an incredible feat, and yet another accolade to add on to the long list of accomplishments in Drake’s career to date. Next up on the list for Drake is icon Madonna, whom Drake ironically has a song named after. She has 38 Top 10’s all-time, and there is little doubt that Drake will break her record in due time. Take into account the fact that he has done all this in a span of just over 10 years, one can imagine that he will not only break her record, but set a bar to be broken so high it almost seems implausible. Suffice to say, June was a pretty good month for Canadian icon Aubrey “Drake” Graham.

Many new music and unexpected collaborations have been coming out of the woodwork as of recent. This week we saw exactly that, and the results were pretty jarring. Zedd and Katy Perry have teamed up to create the overwhelmingly average “365”. Around this time last year, Zedd released “The Middle”  with country pop singer-songwriter Maren Morris. Is he expecting “365” to carry the torch the Grammy nominated “Middle” lit up? “365” is far from a disaster, but it borderlines generic pop as opposed to the grandiose and creative electronica Zedd used to wow us with. We’ll have to see if it lives up to the success “The Middle” generated. Oh yeah, and there’s the overtly weird and creepy themes of obsession Katy throws in the lyrics. Yikes.

(Listen to “365”- Zedd & Katy Perry here).

Shockingly, Avril Lavigne partnered up with Nicki Minaj and released “Dumb Blonde” from Avril’s new album Head Above Water, released February 15th (Yes, you’re reading that sentence correctly). Many suspected Avril died after internet memes and various fans stated she was replaced by a clone named Melissa. She’s proving us that she’s here, in the flesh, with an extremely bland and unseasoned song. This song is very much Avril trying to revisit her old school Canadian punk rock chick era, which she proves on this track she’s far outgrown. The lyrics have been done before, and its style is attempting to mirror Avril’s 2007 banger, “Girlfriend”, which simply cannot be recreated. And Nicki Minaj is practically lifeless in this, her presence isn’t bad but doesn’t really do anything to enhance this track.

(Listen to “Dumb Blonde”- Avril Lavigne & Nicki Minaj here).

In the world of pop music collaborations this week, one song took the cake and managed to be bearable. Cardi B and Bruno Mars released “Please Me” which once again showcases Bruno as a ladies man, being wooed by girls in the club. We already know these two have amazing chemistry and they’ve proven this with how successful the “Finesse (Remix)” ended up being. This, much like “Finesse” highlights Bruno’s cockiness and magnificently powerful vocal range. This mixed with Cardi’s wit and bubbling personality is what makes these two unstoppable. Both Cardi and Bruno deliver amazingly, and give us something new to grind at the bar to.

(Listen to “Please Me” – Cardi B & Bruno Mars here).