Earlier this year, my friend and I decided on a lark to buy tickets to see Nelly (yes, as in Country Grammar, shimmy-shimmy-cocoa-what Nelly). I liked Nelly’s songs when he came out, but I was never a hardcore fan. Still, we figured the concert would be an amusing way to spend a Sunday night in Victoria. It ended up being one of the more bizarre experiences of my concert going career.
While the chanted along to the lyrics of EI, I decided to google Mr. Nelly. What popped up was a whole list of articles outlining a litany of sexual assault accusations. The lesson here: always do a google search before you buy tickets.
While I’m incredibly grateful for the #MeToo movement and how it’s given people the courage to come forward about sexual assault and misconduct, the bi-product is that media consumption has become more complicated. There are a lot of artists that I used to view as harmless guilty pleasures that I just can’t engage with anymore.
Whether you’ve recently discovered that your favorite artist(s) is a predatory super creep or you’re just looking for new tunes, I’ve prescribed some new listening suggestions to freshen up your daily playlist.
1. Miguel >>> Gallant
This one really pains me, because Miguel is one of my favorite artists from the past few years, but after a woman accused him of sexual assault for forcibly exposing her breast in public (something I’ve had happen to me before at clubs), his music doesn’t quite sound the same. If you’re in the same boat, my suggestion is to check out the music of Maryland born singer Gallant. His debut album Ology hooked me right away (I kept pressing repeat on “Talking to Myself”). With his gorgeous voice and lush production, Gallant feels like the 2018 answer to Maxwell.
2. R Kelly >>> Ari Lennox
I’m the first to admit that I used to like R Kelly’s music (I even mentioned it here!) My formative years were full of his songs — a fact that now seems especially creepy given what we know now about well documented his track record of alleged sexual assault and relationships with underage women. Vox put together a timeline of allegations directed at R Kelly which spans 24 years (24 years!!) Needless to say, it’s impossible to ignore this any longer (no matter how much fun it is to sing along to Ignition). If you’re looking for a 90’s R&B fix, I’d suggest checking out Joe. An underrated contemporary of Kelly, Joe’s song Love Scene is still one of my favorite slow jams ever. If you’re looking for something completely new, tune into DC’s Ari Lennox. Not only is her voice gorgeous, but her debut PHO is ridiculously sexy.
3. Red Hot Chili Peppers >>> Fishbone
Like every kid who was a teen in the early 90’s, RCHP was part of my life. They weren’t my favorite band (I was obsessed with Madonna and every R&B/hip hop group under the sun), but I’ve been known to hum Under the Bridge on occasion. While doing research for this article, I discovered sexual misconduct allegations against the band and that lead singer Anthony Kiedis has admitted to knowingly having sex with a fourteen year old girl (SHUDDER) If you also find this hella creepy and wrong but are craving a funk/rock fix, I suggest checking out the band Fishbone (which, is noted as an influence of RHCP).
Founded in 1979 in South Central Los Angeles, Fishbone is known for blending funk, rock, ska and soul and lyrics that combine goofy humor with biting social commentary about topics like racism, fascism and oppression. As a “disparate, all-black oddball crew” the band has been instrumental in paving the way for other artists of color and events like Afropunk. Oh, and did I mention they can rock?
Hey dudes, Joe the Intern here. I wanted to take a moment to remind you that sexual harassment and assault is danger. AND DANGER IS WRONG. Thankfully, with the advent of #MeToo, people are feeling more empowered to speak up and deal with it head-on.
If you feel like you’ve been victim of sexual assault or misconduct, look into hiring a Toronto criminal lawyer (or lawyer in your town/city). Sexual assault lawyers can provide you with support, guidance and advice on how to proceed.
You can also call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area. Take care of yourselves, love, me (Joe).
Okay, back to regular scheduled programming…
4. Hedley >>> The Preatures
Canadian band Hedley found themselves in the headlines this past February when an Ottawa woman accused lead singer, Jacob Hoggard, of sexually assaulting her in a Toronto hotel room. I remember reading her account of the incident and immediately having flashbacks to my own assault years ago (ugh). I never listened to their music before and certainly won’t be now. However, if you want a Canadian rock band to get into (that isn’t terrible), check out The Arkells. As you’ve probably surmised, I’m not the biggest indie rock fan, but I’ve seen these guys live before and they were really great. Alternatively, why not check out a bad-ass female band like Australia’s The Preatures? Their song Is This How You Feel is a personal fave & has echoes of vintage Prince (which, naturally, works for me) and makes it perfect for a good bedroom dancing sesh.
5. Nelly >>> Oddisee
Craving some catchy hooks but appalled by Nelly’s creepy track record? I prescribe some Oddisee, stat. Amir Mohamed el Khalifa, aka Oddisee is one of my favorite hip hop artists at the moment. Think gorgeous, addictive hooks and thoughtful, politically conscious lyrics that will leave you feeling uplifted, not depressed. His albums The Goodfight (2015) and The Iceberg (2017) have been on regular rotation for a good part of the past two years.
6. PWR BTTM >>> Shamir, Janelle Monae, Meshell Ndegeocello, The Internet.
PWR BTTM (power bottom), the gender-nonconforming punk duo of singer-guitarist Ben Hopkins and drummer-singer Liv Bruce received intense backlash after Hopkins was accused of having a history of sexual assault and making advances on minors. The fact that the band embraced queer culture and championed for inclusivity made these accusations that much worse. I never listened to their music, but I know it was meaningful a lot to a lot of people. While I’m not well versed on the punk or queercore scene, if you’re looking to add some new amazing openly queer artists to your daily playlist, I recommend checking out Shamir, Meshell Ndegeocello, The Internet or (the queen) Janelle Monae.