Lizzo has never been one to shy away from sharing her honest opinions, especially regarding body positivity.
Now, the singer has touched on the topic once again in an interview with Brazil’s TV Folha, after her debut performance in Rio de Janeiro.
“I think that women are always going to be criticized for existing in their bodies,” Lizzo said. “And I don’t think I’m any different than any of the other great women who’ve come before me that had to literally be politicized just to be sexual, or sexualized just to exist. Things on them that were beautiful were called flaws and they persisted against that and fought against that.”
She continued, “Now, I’m able to do what I do because of those great women. And they all look completely different. They don’t all look the same. And they all had to deal with the same type of marginalization and misogyny.”
She then called out the double standard between women and men’s physical appearances: “So what does that tell you about the oppressor—what does that tell you about men? Get it together. We don’t talk about your dick sizes, do we? And say that’s not a conventional dick size—it’s too small. We still let y’all asses run all over the goddamn place.”
Lizzo also touched on the “lack of representation in the world” with Brazil’s G1.
“There is a lack of representation in the world—full stop. Especially for women who look like me,” she said. “But my choice process was to make myself visible, not to shrink. To be heard and use my platforms to raise other women. That’s why I put black and big dancers and also an entire orchestra of black women on the Grammy stage—because I think that if I can help them, I must help them.”
PARK CITY, Utah — Outside the Sundance Film Festival premiere of “On the Record,” the documentary about women who have accused the hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct, a truck flashed an electronic sign in support of survivors: “Hold sexual abusers accountable.” Inside, the directors were thanking the festival for its support after Oprah Winfrey backed out as an executive producer.
Simmons has denied the accusations, and Winfrey has said creative differences with the directors led to her withdrawal. But she acknowledged this month that the Def Jam founder had tried to get her to abandon the project: “He did reach out multiple times and attempted to pressure me.”
At the film’s premiere on Saturday, its two directors, Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, seemed to refer to the controversy when Ziering told the crowd, “Thanks to Sundance for standing strong and never blinking.” She added, “These are difficult times. It’s important to stand up for truth, justice and moral authority.”
The audience — which included the Netflix chairman and chief executive Reed Hastings, the CNN chief Jeff Zucker and the actresses Rosanna Arquette and Frances Fisher — was mostly silent during the screening. But applause broke out when the film’s central figure, Drew Dixon, who has accused Simmons of raping her, said, “It’s time to take seriously the plunder of black women.” The crowd also applauded when “On the Record” showed a group of hip-hop D.J.s affirming their support for the accusers.
After the screening, Dixon along with two other women from the documentary, Sil Lai Abrams and Sherri Hines, went onstage to a standing ovation and took part in a Q. and A. along with the directors.
Asked whether the fact that Ziering and Dick are white was one reason the documentary faced pushback, Dixon alluded to deep divisions among African-Americans over the #MeToo movement and whether black men were singled out for their race. The filmmakers “aren’t subject to the incoming pressure that even powerful black people are subject to,” Dixon told the audience. “They listened and deferred to us and centered us.”
Before Winfrey pulled out of the project, she had sought changes in the film to address the broader cultural context of the music industry. What the audience saw on Saturday reflected those changes.
“On the Record” follows Dixon as she weighs whether to take her sexual abuse claims public. Dixon, a 48-year-old former music executive, claims that Simmons raped her in 1995 when she was working for him as a young executive. Simmons has denied all accusations of nonconsensual sex.
Ziering and Dick, who have spent the past decade revealing sexual assault in the military (“The Invisible War”) and on college campuses (“The Hunting Ground”), begin tracking Dixon in the wake of the #MeToo movement, after an explosive column by the screenwriter Jenny Lumet alleging abuse against Simmons. Dixon’s claims are similar, and the film focuses on her as she grapples with her fears about how the black community will respond.
She also admits to idolizing Simmons when he first hired her: “Russell Simmons was who I wanted to be,” she says in the film. “I couldn’t have scripted it better.”
The documentary also discusses the culture at the time: misogyny in the music business, both in specifics when it came to hip-hop, and in general terms, pointing out that the rap genre didn’t invent the use of degrading images of women in its music videos. #MeToo founder Tarana Burke is also a frequent voice, adding commentary about black women’s place in the movement, and their feelings of alienation. “Black women feel like they have to support black men,” she said.
The movie returns to the Simmons case and other women’s stories: Abrams, a former model who had a relationship with him, tells her abuse story and the aftermath, when she tried to kill herself. “I’m a failure, a chew toy for men of power,” she says in the documentary. Hines, from the all-female hip-hop group Mercedes Ladies, also tells her story, agonizing over its consequences.
The film concludes with a tearful meeting between Abrams, Dixon and Lumet. The three join together for a survivor’s reunion, part commiseration over their shared experiences, part celebration of their recovery.
When Deborah Dugan took her post as the chief executive of the Recording Academy, which oversees the Grammy Awards, in August, she inherited an organization in meltdown and was tasked with getting it back on track.
The problems were myriad. The Grammys, which have long skewed old, white and male, feel only tangentially in touch with contemporary pop music. Big-name stars have been distancing themselves from the event. Its record on diversity, both behind the scenes and at the winners podium, has been dismal. When faced with questions about the Grammys’ gender imbalance, Dugan’s predecessor, Neil Portnow, said that women needed to “step up.”
In just a few months on the job, Dugan spotted trouble: voting irregularities in the nominating process; improbably hefty payments to lawyers; conflicts of interest among board members; a scheduled board vote to approve a sizable bonus for Portnow, despite the fact that he had been accused of rape by a musician, and the allegation had not been disclosed to all board members. (In a statement, Portnow said “the allegations of rape are ludicrous, and untrue.”) Behind the scenes of what is described as “music’s biggest night,” Dugan found malfeasance and rot. The catch: The Recording Academy didn’t want to change. On Jan. 16, 10 days before this year’s Grammy Awards, Dugan was placed on leave after being accused of bullying by an administrative assistant, and removed from the academy’s Los Angeles offices. Perhaps not coincidentally, Dugan had filed a memo last month detailing her concerns that “something was seriously amiss at the Academy.” After her ouster, she doubled down in a discrimination complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Now, on the eve of the 62nd annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, the legitimacy of the organization that hands out the trophies is in full-fledged crisis. Given Dugan’s allegations of behind-the-scenes misbehavior, it has to be asked: Can the Grammys be trusted?
Or perhaps: Have they ever been trustworthy? The question long predates the current scandal, and what Dugan unearthed seems only to confirm longstanding critiques of the awards show. The Grammys’ claim to authority has been brittle for some time, in large part because it has failed to keep up with the ways pop is evolving. During the 2010s, an era in which hip-hop and its influence have been not just ascendant but dominant, only one nonwhite artist, Bruno Mars, won the Grammy for album of the year; the results in the song and record of the year categories are only slightly better. The academy’s resistance feels willful and hopelessly prejudiced.
Superstars of this generation are taking notice, and taking umbrage. In 2016, Frank Ocean declined to submit his album “Blonde” for Grammy consideration, telling The New York Times that the Grammy process “doesn’t seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.” Last year, Drake diminished the importance of winning awards during his acceptance speech for best rap song, and in 2017, expressed bafflement at winning that same prize for “Hotline Bling,” which was, he pointed out, “not a rap song.” Kanye West — who has won 21 Grammys, but never in a major category — has long made the Grammys a target of his ire.
The issues with the Grammys extend to the televised show as well. In 2018, Lorde was the only woman nominated for album of the year, and was not offered a solo performance slot. Last year, Ariana Grande publicly clashed with Ken Ehrlich, the show’s longtime executive producer, about why she chose not to perform. (This year will be Ehrlich’s last at the helm after a 40-year run; Grande is scheduled to perform.)
So: several of the most inventive, meaningful and popular musicians of the decade, all expressing dismay with the Grammys. These aren’t mere celebrity quibbles; this is a flaming cross-generational blind spot. Broadly speaking, nonwhite artists, female artists, and artists who come from the worlds of hip-hop and R&B are consistently marginalized, honored in genre categories but shut out in the four major categories (album, song and record of the year, and best new artist). Add it all up, and you get impending irrelevance.
This is bolstered by the peculiar Grammy microphenomenon in which little-heralded artists get nominated in the biggest categories, but typically for music that harks back to the past rather than blazes a path to tomorrow. It can feel that the only way for a newish artist to truly break through is to look backward. (The nominations this year point to a kind of progress: Lizzo, Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X lead the way in the major categories.)
And yet the Grammys remain the most meaningful and respected of the music-industry awards shows, though admittedly there is not much competition. The American Music Awards are based on fan votes, the Billboard Music Awards are doled out based on sales, and the MTV Video Music Awards celebrate artists who still believe MTV is a relevant music medium. (Around 20 million people watch the Grammys ceremony on television, though the last two have had the lowest viewership ever in the coveted 18-49 demographic.)
From the outside looking in, the Grammys are understood to be a meritocracy, the night on which the industry honors its leading lights and passes the torch to deserving newcomers. But the truth has always been more complicated, and more unseemly.
Grammy nominations are shaped by a number of committees — for the major categories, and some genre-specific ones — whose composition remains secret. They effectively have override power, and can cherry-pick nominees. It is, in essence, a cabal, Dugan alleges — a system that can be scammed by people with the right connections. (The Grammys deny this.)
The Recording Academy only recently made an aggressive push to invite younger artists to become Grammy voters. That was part of a broader initiative undertaken in the wake of the Portnow “step up” kerfuffle, when the organization hired Tina Tchen of Time’s Up to lead a diversity and inclusion task force. Its final report, released last month, was harsh in its assessment of the academy’s historical lack of commitment to diversity.
Grammy voters skew older, male and white, unlike the musicians pushing pop into the future. Honoring the music of the now via the judgment of the creators of yesteryear is a disaster in waiting, an almost certain guarantee of misrepresentation. Several years of this have built up a climate of mistrust that it’s unclear the enterprise can recover from.
Dugan’s appointment was supposed to disinfect the Grammys, but her removal only reveals how ambitious that task remains. Yet since the statements in her complaint were made public on Tuesday, there has been curiously little outcry from musicians, either because of a lack of genuine interest or concern, or something less obvious. Behind the scenes, artists share labels, publicists, lawyers. Everyone knows someone who benefits from the system as it currently operates, and perhaps believes that if they just keep quiet, they too may someday be on the right side of the swindle.
Or perhaps it is already accepted that the Grammys are more interested in protecting the interests and reputations of its elder members than promoting the innovations of younger generations. The current revelations merely confirm what has long been suspected, or implicitly understood.
Besides, corruption in the music business doesn’t begin and end with the Grammys. The #MeToo movement that swept Hollywood has gained little momentum in pop music. Everything is a little bit fishy — some artists release merchandise bundles with their music to juice sales numbers; others beg fans to stream their music to get good chart placements. Younger artists arrive into a system that’s already rigged against them. And those in power don’t know how to cede it.
If the Grammys don’t rapidly absorb change, its claim to be the standard-bearer music awards platform will be rendered null. Forward-looking musicians will seek out new platforms that are more in touch, leaving the Grammys with scraps, eroding their authority and their allure. Before long, perhaps no one will crave a Grammy at all. SOURCE OF THIS STORY: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/25/arts/music/grammys-controversy.html
She has eight nominations Sunday night, a performance slot and the devotion of fiercely loyal fans. What’s behind this Lizzo momentum? Let’s discuss.
JON PARELES Lizzo enters this year’s Grammy Awards with the most nominations — eight, including all four top categories. Nominations don’t guarantee wins — ask India.Arie or Jay-Z — but Lizzo also has a prime-time slot as a performer, and she knows how to take over a screen.
Going big, of course, is Lizzo’s home turf and her brand. She’s a physical force, reveling in her body. Her musical skills are considerable: Singing, rapping, writing, playing flute and leading an ecstatic troupe onstage, she’s a full-spectrum entertainer. She’s ubiquitous as a celebrity, online presence and self-appointed idol, an exemplar of unshakable self-love and punch-line-slinging, take-no-guff arrogance who started her 2016 EP, “Coconut Oil,” with a song that instructed, “Worship me!” (Her social-media posts mingle her own milestones with fans testifying about how she helped them accept themselves.)
And she turns up the volume, speed and energy. “Cuz I Love You,” her long-in-the-making major-label debut album — Lizzo’s first indie album, “Lizzobangers,” came out in 2013 — literally starts with a scream and rarely lets up from there.
CARYN GANZ Wins or no wins, this is Lizzo’s year at the Grammys, which isn’t a shock because 2019 was Lizzo’s year everywhere: the charts (she earned her first No. 1 with “Truth Hurts”), the red carpet (did you catch her tiny Valentino bag?), so many presidential candidates’ playlists (we see you are feeling “Good as Hell,” Pete Buttigieg!). It helped that her hallmarks — the emotional cheerleading, the fierce attitude, the big-tent sound — aligned so perfectly with the national mood distilled to its rawest form on social media, where people (young women in particular) are anxious, angry, craving humor and distraction, and tired of seeing perfectly posed influencers flogging tummy-slimming teas and pretending to be flawless. And the B-side to all that, of course, is Lizzo has the voice and stage presence to back everything up.
JON CARAMANICA In a year when the Grammys were looking to display an embrace of difference, a modicum of open-earedness, a sense that the show is taking place in the present day and not being hologrammed in from a decade or two earlier, it would have been difficult to invent a musician better suited to the situation than Lizzo.
Lizzo is indisputably modern — a singer and a rapper, a meme-ready (or meme-biting) songwriter, a hilariously present personality in every sense. And yet she is completely legible to the sorts of people who vote for Grammys: She prefers time-tested pop structures, she revisits the sweaty soul and disco energy of the 1970s, and sometimes even finds herself channeling some 1920s bawdiness. Or there’s that one song that (lawyers stop reading here) rips off Bruno Mars ripping off everyone else, which is the type of thing Grammy voters love, because it reminds them of when they were relevant.
WESLEY MORRIS That, Jon C., I must say, is the only nagging element of “Juice.” It really is a Bruno Mars song. And Lizzo makes the approximation feel like a dare — anything Bruno can do, she can do with a flute. But there’s more going on with the sweetest sugar of that song. The chorus also knows the real delight of CeCe Peniston’s “Finally” is the stanked-up “Ya-ya-ee,” so it swipes that, too. “Juice” is a perfect pop song. All high. Even the deadpan bridge — “Somebody come get this man” — is cleverer than it needs to be. (You guys, why is that not up for record or song instead of, or alongside, “Truth Hurts”?) SEE MORE ON THIS STORY:https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/23/arts/music/lizzo-grammys.html
After over a decade, NIGO® and Kid Cudi have inspired many of the biggest names in music, fashion, and pop culture. But how did they do it, and what’s next? The two cultural icons get together for the first time since they met 11 years ago and open up about their beginnings, new projects, and legacy.
Kid Cudi was 20 years old when he decided to leave his hometown of Cleveland and move to New York City. He had tried college for a year, but wasn’t feeling it, and even considered joining the Navy, though that didn’t work out, either. Ultimately, he wanted to pursue music, and craved an environment where he could “grow and meet interesting people.” New York, he thought, could be that place.
So one day he bought a one-way ticket to New York, packed up his things—clothes, sneakers, the demo he made in college, and $500 in cash—and left. It wasn’t easy. He still remembers the day his mom dropped him off at the airport. “She was crying,” Cudi recalled during his TEDx talk in 2015. “She was giving me a hug at the airport and leans in and goes, ‘I can always turn back around and we can go back home. You can change your mind. Everything will be fine.’” But Cudi stuck to his guns. “I was on a mission,” he added. “It was bigger than just wanting to be a musician or do movies. It was about finally showing the world what Scott could do.”
Except things didn’t immediately pop off for him. His first few jobs in New York were in retail—at American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Dean & DeLuca. He held most of the jobs just to cover his bills and studio time. But there was one that Cudi, to this day, calls a “dream job.”
Shortly after relocating to New York, Cudi learned about A Bathing Ape, the wildly popular and exclusive Japanese brand founded by NIGO® in 1993, and fell in love with its loud graphics and bright colors. At the time, Bape’s two-story, million-dollar flagship in SoHo—the label’s first store outside of Japan, a strategic move by the designer to expand his empire internationally—had just opened in 2004. Cudi desperately wanted to work there, so he applied. And then applied again. And again. Until he finally got hired in 2008.
At the time, Cudi was so broke he didn’t have a bank account (he used his mom’s instead). And for the first few weeks on the job, he wore the same outfit every day or borrowed clothes from co-workers. It didn’t matter, though; he was just happy to be there. “I didn’t own anything [Bape] prior to being hired,” he told Hypebeast. “So it was a dream come true to be able to work at the store I dreamed of shopping in one day.”
But Cudi’s stint at Bape wouldn’t last long. The year before, while he still worked at Abercrombie & Fitch, he met Dot da Genius through a co-worker. They clicked instantly and began making music together, including what wound up being Cudi’s first single, “Day ‘N’ Nite.”
Kameron McCullough and Nile Ivey were having a rough year.
It was December 2012, and the two friends hatched a plan to simultaneously wash away their troubles and usher in a more buoyant 2013. They settled on hosting a small game night.
Mr. Ivey, a D.J. and music blogger, had been laid off from his job at BET Networks. Mr. McCullough had been fired from his job at Condé Nast just a few months after being evicted from his apartment.
They planned to keep the invite list short, ensure that it included plenty of women and inform attendees that gaining entry required two things: a bottle of Hennessy cognac and a bucket of fried chicken.
“It’s going to be a Henny Palooza,” Mr. McCullough recalls one friend joking.
Seven years later, the event — now known as D’ussé Palooza — has grown from an East Harlem house party attended by barely 50 people to an event that drew 9,000 to Barclays Center in Brooklyn this month, while expanding to more than a dozen United States cities.
The party attracts thousands of fans every year, a group that includes professional athletes like the N.B.A. star Kevin Durant and the New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, music industry luminaries like the New York radio hosts Charlamagne Tha God and Ebro Darden, sports journalists like Bomani Jones of ESPN and Jemele Hill of The Atlantic, and the hip-hop artist Chance the Rapper.
“It’s the best party in America,” Reginald Ossé, a podcaster and onetime Source magazine editor known as Combat Jack, once declared. (Mr. Ossé died in 2017.)
The event’s new name is the product of a multimillion-dollar deal with Jay-Z, the music star and entrepreneur. Mr. McCullough, 34, and his team have entered into a rare partnership with Jay-Z’s music label, Roc Nation. As a result, the cognac brand D’ussé, which the rapper is an investor in, now sponsors the event.
Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard star in the new Apple TV+ series See, a postapocalyptic drama that takes place in a world where a virus has caused humankind to lose sight. Created by Steven Knight, it is the story of a family in jeopardy after twins are born who can see. In a blind world, the reigning Queen Kane, played by Sylvia Hoeks, is threatened by the twins’ vision and sends her army to capture them. Jason Momoa plays Baba Voss, a fierce warrior and adoptive father of the twins forced to lead his tribe into hiding after news of the twins’ birth spreads.
To ensure the show’s portrayal of blindness was accurate and respectful, cast and crewmembers who are not blind participated in a boot camp. Led by blindness coach Joe Strechay and movement coach Paradox Pollack, Momoa, Woodard and the rest of the cast went through a rigorous program to learn more about life without vision. “I wanted to make sure that the portrayals around blindness in our production were committed to respecting blindness,” explains Strechay. “There have been so many comical portrayals of blindness, and See is not one of them.” In addition to working with the actors, the production team had Apple’s full support to take the measures needed and allocate budgets to ensure every set was fully accessible, even in the heart of rural British Columbia during the dead of winter.
Director Frances Lawrence participated in blindness coaching, spending time wearing sleep shades, developing a basic understanding of echolocation and learning to trust his other four senses to understand what the actors were experiencing. “It was a little bit like learning a language,” he said. “Sight for those of us who can see is such a dominant sense that I think it makes us take for granted the other senses. We don’t feel as in tune with the other senses. I think if you talked to the other actors who went through the training, what ended up happening to them was they felt much more present and much more focused.” Momoa experimented with different techniques to sharpen his focus on his other senses, including limiting his food intake to maintain more awareness of his body. “In order to be a character who is an amazing warrior with no vision, you’ve got to be pretty in touch with your senses, which means those have to be at the highest quality,” said Momoa.
See poses the question of how valuable sight truly is. Alfre Woodard, who plays Paris, a healer and midwife, hopes the show generates deeper questions about how sight orders society. “I hope that people ask, ‘Without how we know sight, what’s the racial dynamic? What’s the sexual dynamic? The gender dynamic?”
THR sat down with Momoa, Woodard, Hoeks, Hera Hilmar, Lawrence, Knight and Strechay to explore how they approached the portrayal of blindness in See, now available on Apple TV+.