Rents are soaring in many U.S. cities as the economy rebounds, squeezing the budgets of tenants who also face increased risk of eviction after courts overturned a pandemic-era ban.
There’s no single indicator that captures a complex national picture, as Covid-19 drove major shifts in where people live and work. Still, data point to tight markets in much of the country.
The median monthly charge on a vacant rental jumped by $185 in March from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A national index compiled by Apartmentlist.com shows that rents rose 1.9% in April alone, the most in data going back to 2017.
The rising costs will pile pressure on poorer families who are more likely to rent -– and less likely to be earning money right now, in a recovery that’s seen better-paid jobs bounce back faster. For low-income Americans, shelter accounts for 40% of spending.
Adding another risk, a federal judge in Washington ruled on Wednesday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had exceeded its authority by ordering a nationwide moratorium on tenant evictions last year.
The ban, due to last through June, had loopholes that allowed some evictions to proceed -– but it still offered protection for those who’d lost their jobs. About 24% of renters, roughly 8 million people, missed at least one housing payment since March 2020 according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
The early months of the pandemic saw a headline-grabbing decline in prices for some expensive urban markets, like Manhattan and San Francisco. Higher-income workers were able to move out of city-center apartments to work remotely from somewhere else.
One result was a lot of unoccupied high-end properties in such places. That may have exaggerated the jump in median costs for vacant rentals as measured by the Census Bureau, creating what’s called a “compositional effect” that skews the data, according to Chris Salvati, a housing economist at Apartmentlist.com.
The declines in some regions offset gains elsewhere and kept national measures fairly steady last year, Salvati said. But he now sees prices rising in all the places where they fell last year -– and pretty much everywhere else too.
“I’ve been surprised at how quickly things have rebounded over these past couple of months,” he said.
The latest monthly survey by Fannie Mae suggests Americans expect the median increase in rent to be 5.3% this year, close to the highest in the past decade.
Even in the exodus cities, rents in less central districts typically didn’t plunge last year. In many mid-sized markets, there was a steady increase. Cities like Richmond, Virginia; Fresno, California; and Dayton, Ohio, saw a plunge in rental vacancies, limiting supply and pushing prices up.
“Outside of the gateways and a select few other top 30 markets, most other metros had positive year-over-year rent growth,” research firm Yardi Matrix said in its latest monthly National Multifamily Report.
Areas where rents have risen more than 10% year-on-year include Boise City, Idaho, and Riverside, California, according to Zillow data.
Some of the pandemic rental trends are extensions of older ones. For example, rents rose about 5% in the past year in Tampa, Florida, and Atlanta, where there’s been strong migration and limited rental supply. Both cities have seen increases of around 30% over five years, according to Zillow data.
Over that period, only New York City among the 100 largest national markets has posted a drop in rental prices. But that could be a temporary effect of the pandemic, which may get wiped out as vaccines drive the city’s recovery.
Manhattan leases surged an annual 89% in March, the fastest pace on record, according to Miller Samuel Real Estate Appraisers & Consultants. It found that the net effective median rent has risen for four straight months — at “the highest rate in a decade.”
Nostalgia is always in style. Take it from Daniel Lee, the Creative Director of Bottega Veneta, who has implored sentimentality in his most recent media rollout for the brand. Records, songs, and books have been common mediums for its audience to experience culture through an artistic lens. Now, the Italian luxury fashion house is exploring an alternative way to engage with their audiences with a new zine. For the uninitiated, a zine is akin to a digital journal. Think of it as an online diary, but featuring some of your favorite celebrities and artists. Launching today, Issue 01 features collaborators ranging from Missy Elliott and Tyler Mitchell to Barbara Hulanicki and Tyrone Lebon. The digital journal captures the stylish and innovative universe of Bottega Veneta and will publish four times a year to coincide with the launch of in-store collections. The first issue will reflect the vibe of Salon 01 and hone in on domesticity.
Today, the blueprint for starting and running a
fashion brand isn’t black and white. These designers have built strong
labels, and they haven’t hit 30. Here’s how they did it.
The fashion business has changed quickly over the past few years, and the blueprints set by designers like Ralph Lauren or Bobby Hundreds
are, in many ways, no longer applicable. It’s difficult to say whether
younger designers today have it easier or harder than their
predecessors, but with stores closing, an oversaturation of product, and
consumers’ continuous desire for something new, standing out and
running a viable business takes more than a design degree and a lot of
To run a fashion line today you have to be an inventive designer, a nimble entrepreneur, and a savvy storyteller. Everyone in the list below is in their 20s, but each of their brands is at a different phase. There’s Esper, 25, from Come Back as a Flower, who only started his line a few months ago but has received early co-signs from Big Sean and ASAP Rocky and is figuring out how to work with retailers in an environmentally friendly way. Then there’s Michael Cherman, 28, who started a successful brand, ICNY, then lost control of it because of an investor. So he introduced Chinatown Market, a line that’s grown quickly and sits in retailers ranging from Urban Outfitters to Browns.
Its smoking lounge cements San Francisco’s place as America’s leading recreational-cannabis destination.
There are more legal cannabis smoking lounges in San Francisco than in the rest of the U.S. combined.
We now have nine such lounges at dispensaries citywide, whereas Denver
just licensed only its second, Oakland has one, and the rest of America
does not have any.
Hell, a single block in SoMa has as many
marijuana lounges as the entire country outside San Francisco does. The
corner of Ninth and Mission streets is home to smoking lounges at the Vapor Room, SPARC, and ReLeaf.
Some of these lounges consist solely of
patio furniture thrown in a corner, while others are elaborate, baroque
parlors with chandeliers, flocked velvet wallpaper, and widescreen TVs.
The newest cannabis smoking lounge is the city’s most opulent yet, the
luxe lounge of the just-opened Market Street dispensary Moe Greens.
“It’s Lounge 2.0,” Moe Greens founder and CEO Nate Haas tells SF Evergreen.
“We wanted Moe Greens to be a throwback to the San Francisco our
grandparents and great-grandparents lived in, the San Francisco where
you’d get dressed up on a Saturday night and go to a place like Joe’s or
Alfred’s Steakhouse for a drink.”
Despite the Las Vegas-inspired logo, the name “Moe Greens” is not a reference to the casino mogul from The Godfather.
“One day, I was holding some cannabis and
my partner, who sometimes calls me Moe, said, ‘That’s a lot of green,
Moe,’ ” Haas remembers. “That was the light bulb moment. Now we provide
‘mo green at Moe Greens.’ ”
It has by far the largest legal
consumption lounge in the city, with separate, dedicated rooms for
vaping, smoking, and dabbing. Its swanky aesthetic is similar to that of
the Barbary Coast dispensary, which is run by the same management team.
“Lounges are very important for us,” Haas says. “When recreational cannabis passed, it increased competition. Building lounges that are unique, and that embody the San Francisco we and our families grew up in helps to differentiate our dispensary from all others.”
Shockingly affordable prices also
differentiate Moe Greens from the pack. House grams are available for
just $8, a price not seen in the city in years.
Smoking lounges might look like they’re
only for big spenders, but they’re not. The steampunk-inspired lounge at
Urban Pharm, one of the few that allow vaping and smoking indoors,
sells individual dabs for as low as $5 — and Dollar Dabs for just a buck
during Friday happy hour.
Whether a lounge allows you to just vape,
or to dab, or to smoke raw flower is up to the dispensary itself. Most
only allow vaping, but provide Volcano vaporizers and clear plastic huff
bags free of charge. Others provide loaner bongs and dab rigs, but none
of them allow alcohol or tobacco.
The license to smoke pot legally indoors is not granted by the San Francisco Office of Cannabis,
which generally handles marijuana permit approvals. The license to
smoke — technically, a “Cannabis Consumption Permit” — is actually
awarded by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH).
Yep, the Department of Health gives permission to smoke weed.
“The health department has taken a harm reduction approach to cannabis consumption,” DPH spokesperson Veronica Vien tells SF Evergreen. “Rules
and regulations allow consumption to occur, but limit youth exposure
and underage access,” and “mitigate overexposure to indoor smoke through
enhanced engineering controls.”
The department’s cannabis consumption
laws describe these engineering controls as “a ventilation system
capable of removing all detectable odors, smoke, and byproducts of
Lounge owners say these ventilation requirements are actually among the easier regulations to comply with.
“These hurdles are minimal for existing
dispensaries,” according to SPARC CEO and chairman Erich Pearson. “The
process with DPH has been smooth.”
SPARC’s lounge is one of those Volcano
vape-only facilities, but customers are allowed to light up and smoke
flower on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning at 4:20 p.m.
Right around the block from SPARC, the
Vapor Room has the most noticeable pot smoking lounge in town. That’s
because it’s right smack dab in their giant front window, for every
passerby to see.
“Our lounge is integrated into our retail experience and is prominently displayed by our front window,” says Vapor Room owner Martin Olive. “We believe this helps remove the unnecessary stigma of feeling like one ought to hide their cannabis use in dark corners.”
Most San Francisco cannabis lounges are concentrated on a four-block strip in SoMa. But two of them are outliers — literally.
Way out in the Richmond and deep in the
Mission, the Harvest dispensaries provide conference room-style lounges
with giant TVs. Both act as co-working spaces, cannabis farmers markets
and event venues, or host infuse dinner meetups like Dim Sum and Dabs or
Fried Chicken and Dabs.
“Our lounges provide a cannabis-friendly
workplace, a utopian gathering place, a remarkable educational facility
or the most beautiful space to consume,” says Harvest guest services
manager Tom Powers.
Sure, it’s all fun and dabs at these
stylish and hip cannabis lounges that cater to convention-hoppers and
the new SoMa tech set. But for many San Franciscans, the lounges really
do provide a crucial public resource.
“Elderly, disabled, and ill folks can and
do experience isolation from medicating with cannabis alone in their
homes,” the Vapor Room’s Olive points out. “Everyone else may be forced
to use cannabis in parks, on the street, or in their car when
medicating, all of which can expose them to unnecessary and illegal
SPARC’s Pearson adds, “The lounges are
critical for the many medical cannabis patients that live in
government-subsidized housing that does not allow cannabis consumption.”
San Francisco will not remain home to the
nation’s largest number of cannabis lounges for much longer. West
Hollywood just awarded 16 consumption lounge permits for onsite smoking
or edibles. These permits are contingent on the businesses getting fully
licensed, but WeHo is well-positioned to surpass our cannabis lounge
Las Vegas will be getting them soon too,
possibly this year. But San Francisco’s lounges served as the basis for
Las Vegas’ framework. Expect other cities to continue following our lead
as legal cannabis spreads across the U.S.
Our cannabis lounges really are a wonderful airport bar-type social space where you find yourself mingling with tourists, veterans, SSI recipients, or CEOs. And San Francisco has set the trailblazing standard that dispensaries across the world will look to when they want to fire up.
Moe Greens, 1276 Market St., 415-762-4255 or moegreens.com
Proposals to change recommendations and curb conspiracies were sacrificed for engagement, staff say.
A year ago, Susan Wojcicki was on stage to
defend YouTube. Her company, hammered for months for fueling falsehoods
online, was reeling from another flare-up involving a conspiracy theory
video about the Parkland, Florida high school shooting that suggested
the victims were “crisis actors.”
YouTube’s chief executive officer, is a reluctant public ambassador,
but she was in Austin at the South by Southwest conference to unveil a
solution that she hoped would help quell conspiracy theories: a tiny
text box from websites like Wikipedia that would sit below videos that
questioned well-established facts like the moon landing and link viewers to the truth.
Wojcicki’s media behemoth, bent on overtaking television, is estimated to rake in sales of more than $16 billion a year. But on that day, Wojcicki compared her video site to a different kind of institution. “We’re really more like a library,” she said, staking out a familiar position as a defender of free speech. “There have always been controversies, if you look back at libraries.”
Since Wojcicki took the stage, prominent conspiracy theories on the
platform—including one on child vaccinations; another tying Hillary
Clinton to a Satanic cult—have drawn the ire of lawmakers eager to
regulate technology companies. And YouTube is, a year later, even more
associated with the darker parts of the web.
The conundrum isn’t just that videos questioning the moon landing or the efficacy of vaccines are on YouTube. The massive “library,” generated by users with little editorial oversight, is bound to have untrue nonsense. Instead, YouTube’s problem is that it allows the nonsense to flourish. And, in some cases, through its powerful artificial intelligence system, it even provides the fuel that lets it spread.
Wojcicki and her deputies know this. In recent years, scores of people insideYouTube
and Google, its owner, raised concerns about the mass of false,
incendiary and toxic content that the world’s largest video site
surfaced and spread. One employee wanted to flag troubling videos, which
fell just short of the hate speech rules, and stop recommending them to
viewers. Another wanted to track these videos in a spreadsheet to chart
their popularity. A third, fretful of the spread of “alt-right” video
bloggers, created an internal vertical that showed just how popular they
were. Each time they got the same basic response: Don’t rock the boat.
company spent years chasing one business goal above others:
“Engagement,” a measure of the views, time spent and interactions with
online videos. Conversations with over twenty people who work at, or
recently left, YouTube reveal a corporate leadership unable or unwilling
to act on these internal alarms for fear of throttling engagement.
would “never put her fingers on the scale,” said one person who worked
for her. “Her view was, ‘My job is to run the company, not deal with
this.’” This person, like others who spoke to Bloomberg News, asked not
to be identified because of a worry of retaliation.
YouTube turned down Bloomberg News’ requests to speak to Wojcicki, other executives, management at Google and the board of Alphabet Inc., its parent company. Last week, Neal Mohan, its chief product officer, toldThe New York Times that the company has “made great strides” in addressing its issues with recommendation and radical content.
YouTube spokeswoman contested the notion that Wojcicki is inattentive
to these issues and that the company prioritizes engagement above all
else. Instead, the spokeswoman said the company has spent the last two
years focused squarely on finding solutions for its content
problems. Since 2017, YouTube has recommended clips based on a metric
called “responsibility,” which includes input from satisfaction surveys
it shows after videos. YouTube declined to describe it more fully, but
said it receives “millions” of survey responses each week.
primary focus has been tackling some of the platform’s toughest content
challenges,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “We’ve taken a
number of significant steps, including updating our recommendations
system to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation, improving the
news experience on YouTube, bringing the number of people focused on
content issues across Google to 10,000, investing in machine learning to
be able to more quickly find and remove violative content, and
reviewing and updating our policies — we made more than 30 policy
updates in 2018 alone. And this is not the end: responsibility remains
our number one priority.”
In response to criticism about prioritizing growth over safety, Facebook Inc.
has proposed a dramatic shift in its core product. YouTube still has
struggled to explain any new corporate vision to the public
and investors – and sometimes, to its own staff. Five senior personnel
who left YouTube and Google in the last two years privately cited the
platform’s inability to tame extreme, disturbing videos as the reason
for their departure. Within Google, YouTube’s inability to fix its
problems has remained a major gripe. Google shares slipped in late
morning trading in New York on Tuesday, leaving them up 15 percent so
far this year. Facebook stock has jumped more than 30 percent in 2019,
after getting hammered last year.
YouTube’s inertia was
illuminated again after a deadly measles outbreak drew public attention
to vaccinations conspiracies on social media several weeks ago. New data
from Moonshot CVE, a London-based firm that studies extremism, found
that fewer than twenty YouTube channels that have spread these lies
reached over 170 million viewers, many who where then recommended other
videos laden with conspiracy theories.
The company’s lackluster response to explicit videos aimed at kids has drawn criticism from the tech industry itself. Patrick Copeland, a former Google director who left in 2016, recently posted a damning indictment of his old company on LinkedIn. While watching YouTube, Copeland’s daughter was recommended a clip that featured both a Snow White character drawn with exaggerated sexual features and a horse engaged in a sexual act. “Most companies would fire someone for watching this video at work,” he wrote. “Unbelievable!!” Copeland, who spent a decade at Google, decided to block the YouTube.com domain. READ MORE:https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2019-04-02/youtube-executives-ignored-warnings-letting-toxic-videos-run-rampant
When some of the most well-known faces from the African diaspora arrived for a recent vacation in Accra, Ghana, it looked like just another gathering of famous people. Actors including Idris Elba rubbed shoulders with supermodel Naomi Campbell, TV sports presenter Mike Hill, and author Luvvie Ajayi. Behind this meet-up of box office stars, fashion royalty and top creatives is a focused and ambitious strategy to make Ghana a major tourist destination. The country recently unveiled a 15-year-long tourism plan that seeks to increase the annual number of tourists to Ghana from one million to eight million per year by 2027. Ghana’s travel industry is projected to raise $8.3 billion a year by 2027, plus associated benefits, according to the plan.
VIP guests attended events chaired by Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, the architect of the plan to boost tourism and diversify the country’s economy through reaching out to its diaspora, while guests took part in conferences, festivities and trips across the country to discover its unique and sobering heritage.
The primary purpose of the festival was to forge closer ties between Ghana, the African continent and those of African descent living elsewhere.It’s 400 years since the first African slaves were taken from countries like Ghana to mainland America, marking the start of the trans-Atlantic slave trade route. This timing is based on the first recorded landing of a ship carrying Africans in Virginia in August 1619. An estimated 75% of slave dungeons on the west coast of Africa were in Ghana — millions of people were taken and transported on ships that departed from Ghanaian ports.
President Akufo-Addo’s Year of Return announcement pointed to Ghana’s tragic legacy as a reason for diaspora descendants to return and learn about this chapter of history. The celebrities who attended the Full Circle Festival were taken on guided tours of the slave dungeons.
“Every person of color needs to get on this pilgrimage,” said actor and co-organizer Boris Kodjoe who is of Ghanaian descent. “They need to experience this journey and get in touch with their emotional heritage, walk through the dungeons and see the ‘door of no return,'” he told CNN. Marketing rockstar Bozoma Saint John — who has a series of marketing coups like Beyonce’s halftime Super Bowl show under her belt — worked with Kodjoe, inviting 100 of the most influential members of the African diaspora to party with them at the festival over Christmas and New Year.
Saint John, who works for global media conglomerate Endeavor and previously had high profile roles with Uber and Apple Music, says the project is close to her heart.”As long as you have melanin and you are seeking a return to Africa, it is a must,” she told CNN.
“I really felt that I wanted to show people the country I know and love. I take it as a personal mission and will use my professional weight to help the mission.” Saint John says that returning members of the diaspora can expect joy on their trip to Ghana as well as moments of solemnity. Skyscrapers and restaurants feature prominently in her promotional material.
Year of return
The celebrity-attended Full Circle Festival was the opening act of a broader Year of Return, announced by President Akufo-Addo in September 2018.Speaking about the year ahead at Washington’s National Press Club Akufo-Addo said Ghana would open its “arms even wider to welcome home our brothers and sisters in what will become a birthright journey home for the global African family.”The Year of Return includes a music festival, an investment conference targeting diaspora Ghanaians, and the Right to Return initiative, encouraging African-Americans to seek citizenship in Ghana.This year-long initiative builds on a long tradition of looking outwards. Ghana, the first sub-Saharan African country to win independence from colonial rule, has a history of pursuing ties with Africans overseas. It dates back to the country’s first President Kwame Nkrumah, whose vision of pan-Africanism included alliances with diaspora communities. Nkrumah enjoyed warm relations with African-American icons such as Muhammad Ali and Malcolm X, who both traveled to Ghana to meet him. Writer Maya Angelou spent time in the country after its independence and civil rights leader W.E.B. Du Bois is buried in Accra. Ghana has also sought to incentivize diaspora returnees through legislation such as the Right of Abode law of 2000 that allows people of African descent to apply for the right to stay in the country indefinitely. It was followed by the Joseph Project in 2007 that encouraged Africans in the diaspora to return, officials have compared it to Israel’s Law of Return that allows Jews to become citizens.
These initiatives have had some success. An estimated 3,000 African-Americans had permanently settled in Ghana by 2014. By the time Saint John is finished with marketing Ghana to the world, she is hopeful it will have knock-on impact across the region and wants to reshape people’s perceptions. “We are going to use Ghana as a gateway to the rest of the continent,” she said. “There are beaches in Kenya as well as snow-capped mountains. We need to tell the story of all the amazing opportunities Africa has to offer.”
Under no circumstances will Lizzo play “Flight of the Bumblebee” tonight. Don’t get her wrong. She’s a classically trained flautist, in addition to a singer and rapper, and could twerk circles while playing it (that’s a trademark). But as far as songs go, “ ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’ is for basic bitches,” declares Lizzo, and tonight she needs a show-off song.
It’s two hours before a live taping of 2 Dope Queens’
HBO special, and hosts Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson have asked
her to perform her signature move, but the stakes — HBO, the
3,000-person-deep audience at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre — call for the
kind of song that will make eyes widen, jaws drop. Normally, the
trill-filled missile in Lizzo’s arsenal is 19th-century French composer
Jean-Baptiste Arban’s “Carnival of Venice,” a song that requires the
lung capacity of a runner trained at high altitude and the ability to
double-, sometimes triple-, tongue. Except a producer just
apologetically entered the dressing room to tell her she’s so so sorry,
but she can’t play that particular song. Something about legal.
What to play? she wonders aloud in a mild panic to the eight or so people milling about. The producer helpfully starts suggesting other legally cleared songs. “How about ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’?”
People are often surprised that Lizzo can actually play the flute.
At 30, she’s been playing for 20 years, since she was a preteen in her
Houston junior high school’s marching band and people would tell her
“that shit is corny!” She went to the University of Houston on a music
scholarship. She practices four hours a day when her schedule permits.
The flute even has its own Instagram account, @sashabefluting (it follows no one). She’s played on most of her albums, starting with 2015’s Big GRRRL Small World, and does so again on her forthcoming major-label release, Cuz I Love You, which drops this spring.
junior-high punks might have called her corny, but like most hobbies
people mock you for in adolescence, it’s now one of her greatest assets.
The flute is earning her Shade Room–blessed viral fame, especially
after one particularly notable moment from a performance at the
University of Iowa’s homecoming. As she tells it, that video was born
out of a direct challenge to her ability to play the flute — or to
perform at all. During sound check, a professor threatened to report her
to campus police unless she showed permits. “The privilege that you
have to have to walk up to young women, brown women, black women, and
yell, ‘Do you have a permit to be here?’ While we’re clearly onstage
with microphones singing and dancing,” says Lizzo, shaking off phantom
pangs of annoyance. She was so fired up that night, she told the
audience the story, then ripped into a flute reworking of “Big Shot,”
from Kendrick Lamar’s Black Panther soundtrack, while she and
her two dancers, dubbed the Big GRRRLS, hit the shoot with more
ferocious joy than BlocBoy JB ever had, even though he invented the
dance. She ended by lobbing her trademark “Bitch!”
was from the bottom of my heart,” Lizzo tells me. “That was for anybody
who tries to stop my shine and tries to challenge my existence. Don’t
challenge my motherfucking right to be here, bitch.” She posted
a video with the caption “have u ever seen a bitch play flute then hit
the shoot?” And since nobody had, it got half a million views. People
started making Lizzo flute YouTube mash-up videos. She released a single
version of it called “Bye Bitch.”
Lizzo plays the flute, it’s a gentle “Fuck you, yes I can,” to everyone
who is surprised to see her take the stage in a spandex bodysuit and
play a song by an old Frenchman. She knows she’s doing something with
the instrument that nobody’s ever done (please see: recent Instagram
videos from her album-listening party in an L.A. strip club — a
singular moment in flute-performance history). Her career has been full
of those kinds of expectation-defying swerves, ones that shock, delight,
and challenge preconceptions. And not just ours, but her own. “I’ve
said it before, but me just existing is revolutionary,” she says again.
People think they know what to expect from a pop star, but then they
She pulls out her beloved Sasha Flute (so named for Beyoncé’s third album, Sasha Fierce) and begins to run scales. “I could play some fake jazz shit, but that’s boring.” She improvises some exaggerated riffs in the key of Anchorman. Finally she decides to play “Bye Bitch,” in tribute to her viral moment. She tests a few bars, making sure she can play and clap cheeks at the same time. She can.
In January, Lizzo
released “Juice,” an energetic funk affirmation that should have Bruno
Mars watching his throne. When she sings, “If I’m shinin’, everybody
gonna shine,” in the song’s bridge, it’s both an earworm and a mission
statement. By her own declaration, Lizzo has been at the forefront of
the positive movement. Which positive movement? All of them. She’s sex
positive, body positive (hers and yours), vocally practices self-love
and self-care. “I am a pioneer in creating modern self-love,
body-positive music,” she explains, which could ring cheesy — or, worse,
totally disingenuous. But it isn’t just the modern twists she puts on
old self-help sentiment (e.g., “I just took a DNA test; turns out I’m
100 percent that bitch”) that keep it from teetering over the line. It’s
the fact that Lizzo has been teaching herself to be 100 percent that
bitch since she was Melissa Jefferson, a self-described dorky,
family moved to Houston from Detroit when she was 9. Her parents worked
long hours building a succession of businesses, and her two older
siblings were often doing their own thing, so music was an early
babysitter. In sixth grade, “the flute chose her,” when her school’s
band director asked Lizzo if she wanted to learn the instrument. At 14,
she formed her first rap group, the Cornrow Clique, with two of her
classmates and got her nickname, Lizzo. (She was originally Lissa, but
Jay-Z’s “Izzo” was a popular song at the time.) She could rap — which
should have made her popular — but she was in marching band, so she
wasn’t. Also she smiled too much and laughed too loud. Sometimes she
wore hippie clothes, like flowing shirts and bell-bottom jeans. She
listened to Radiohead and Death Cab for Cutie because her older sister
did. She wore Uggs, the tipping point. Her classmates said she was “too
white.” “But like, Lil Wayne also wore Uggs,” she points out.
started college in 2005, but by her junior year, she felt trapped by
all of the boxes she was trying to fit herself into. Was she an AKA,
making the rounds at all the historically black sorority and fraternity
parties? Was she the rapper performing at late-night shows? Was she
pursuing the flute professionally and committing to 7 a.m. master
classes? She couldn’t make all those identities fit together, so she
dropped out. Her parents had moved to Denver, and without the dorms, she
often slept in her car, a T-boned 1990s Subaru. But the universe always
offers another weird portal — and a floor to sleep on. In 2008, she
joined her first real band, playing the flute in the prog-rock-inflected
Ellypseas. “I dead-ass asked them if they wanted to get on MTV.” They
did not. She didn’t realize it then — or maybe she was afraid to admit
it — but those were her ambitions. The band never made it to TRL, but it was good enough to book shows at South by Southwest.
slept at the band’s rehearsal space, sometimes on the drummer’s floor.
“I would drive around to my friends’ houses, and if they were having
dinner, I’d be like, ‘Hey, come hang out! You got some food? Let’s kick
it!’ And just eat the chicken and rice. Actually, I was a vegetarian. So
I would eat the chicken-juice-soaked rice.” She shrugs. “I was like,
‘I’m too broke to have morals.’ ”
2010, the band retired, and her father passed away. She communicates
with him now, through a psychic medium she frequently visits in L.A.,
but at the time, it sank her into a depression. She finally answered her
mother’s pleas and joined her in Denver. Ten months later, restless,
she moved to Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, at the behest of a friend
who thought she’d like the music scene there. She did. Aaron Mader,
a.k.a. Lazerbeak, a local producer and member of rap collective
Doomtree, describes the Minneapolis scene as a collaborative utopia. One
night Lizzo could open for a punk band; the next, she could collaborate
with an electronic band. She lent backup vocals for a rock-soul group
and performed at the legendary First Ave, the venue made famous by
Prince. To prepare, she watched Purple Rain, took a rowboat into the middle of Lake Minnetonka, and purified herself, just like Prince did in the movie.
all the diversity of genres, though, the scene was still dominated by
white dudes. Younger acts — especially women and women of color — found
it difficult to break through, but it also meant that people noticed
Lizzo a lot faster. “When someone is a force and has an energy about her
that is pretty magnetic, it didn’t take her long for people to pay
attention,” says Mader.
formed two bands. First, the Chalice, which made melodic pop with a
little bit of rap like the Spice Girls. Later, she and the Chalice’s
Sophia Eris started GRRRL PRTY and went full N.W.A, explains Lizzo. “We
were crazy,” recalls Eris. “It was like a riot onstage. Women just like
drinking, cussing, and rapping and singing.” GRRRL PRTY became a local
darling. Even Prince took notice, asking them to record a song,
“Boytrouble,” and inviting them to play a show at Paisley Park. They
couldn’t curse or drink onstage, but they did get to play in front of a
projection of Finding Nemo.
On the side, Lizzo was also working on solo material. She felt a lot of anger and sometimes a crisis of confidence. She needed an outlet. “There’s one line on my first album where I say, ‘I got a lot on my chest, so here’s my breast reduction.’ ” She’s referring to a line from “Hot Dish,” off Lizzobangers, which she worked on with Lazerbeak. They met when she tweeted, “I wish I could afford a Lazerbeak beat,” and he responded, “Just give me a case Mike’s Hard Lemonade.” After Lizzobangers, she entered what she calls her artsy-fartsy phase, which, like any good indie musicians in 2015, included bangs, a visit to Bon Iver’s Wisconsin studio, April Base, and a Pitchfork mention. The album that resulted, Big GRRRL Small World, persuaded Atlantic to sign her, and she moved to L.A., taking as much of her Minneapolis crew as she could. Next thing she knew, she was opening for acts like Sleater-Kinney, Florence + the Machine, and Haim.
With the Patriots win
over the Rams on Sunday in Super Bowl LIII, Tom Brady has now accrued
more rings than any other player in NFL history.
He has also tied Michael Jordan’s mark of six championships.
can rest assured that barber shops around the country are about to
ignite with an all-important sports debate: Which GOAT is greater?
will say that’s an impossible question to answer—you can’t compare two
athletes who play totally different games! Nonetheless, you know the
conversation is going to happen so we’re here to reduce some subjective
Though there’s no way to create a perfectly valid and
reliable comparison between Brady and Jordan, we’ve shed light on the
debate by breaking down each player’s key numbers. Afterward, we share
our (admittedly imperfect) verdict on whose résumé is superior.
In one corner: TB12, the Cali QB who’s become Boston royalty. In the other: His Airness, the iconic No. 23 with the hoop earring. Let’s get ready to rumble.
Jordan: 6 (in 6 appearances) Brady: 6 (in 9 appearances)
mark is holy ground; that record is the main reason some folks won’t
even listen to arguments about LeBron James (who’s gone 3-for-9 in the
NBA Finals) being basketball’s best of all time. And there’s no
short-selling its impressiveness—seriously, who goes six for six in
The question is, should Brady be penalized
for getting close but falling short three times? Jordan made the finals
in 6-of-15 seasons (.400). Brady has made the Super Bowl in 9-of-19.
(.464). It’s ridiculous to penalize a player more so for losing in the
championship than, say, the divisional round of the playoffs.
should also be noted that Brady now possesses the most Super Bowl
victories (six) in NFL history, whereas Jordan is tied for 10th
(first-place Bill Russell is way ahead with 11).