The Week In Review – Rihanna, lemonade, and fresh Weezy

Where Jack the Editor waxes about what caught his attention over the week.


Rihanna dropped the ‘Bitch Better Have My Money‘ video clip

I first have to show some love to Rihanna for investing her pop star powers in a video that strives to be more interesting than the disappointingly kitsch ‘American Oxygen’. To focus on its gender politics; the video’s premise—the pursuit of capital—obfuscates any clear reading of it as a political text, as it has effectively taken certain doctrines regarding gender, capital, even imperialism, and processed it through it’s own late-capitalistic logic to the point that violence as means to owed dollars is the only course of action that makes sense. The violence is obviously an aesthetic choice—matching guns and blood with boobs and money, and as a series of Tumblr-worthy screen grabs it works perfectly. You get Rihanna hitting a bong, Rihanna’s booty underwater, Rihanna on a big boat, Rihanna shooting guns, blood-splattered Rihanna lying in a treasure chest, and a cameo by Le Chiffre/Hannibal. It’s all about the outfits and, ignoring the thin narrative, the video deploys its excess and lavishness with more imagination than, say, four minutes of Taylor Swift and her bff’s.

But by torturing the accountant’s Barbie-like wife, is Rihanna symbolically attacking feminine stereotypes, or is she exploiting these stereotypes to affirm her own personal power? There’s a definite exploitative/porny aesthetic in the way Rihanna treats women’s bodies (including her own) and while it’s no ‘Thriller’ or ‘Windowlicker’, there’s something going on that has touched a nerve. One wonders what people would make of this video’s gender politics if a man, namely Quentin Tarantino, directed it. Tarantino because the video borrows so heavily from his aesthetic and narrative sensibilities, and rarely do we see his films criticised for said politics. Part of this might come down to the tired notion that popstars should be rolemodels. Rihanna is not a role model, and nor does she seem to want to be, though so much of the criticism of this video is couched in the implicit notion that she is. So where we celebrate the excesses of male popstars like the Rolling Stones, etc., we do not with women.

Sophie’s ‘Lemonade’ appeared in a McDonalds ad for… lemonade

PC Music’s music has always been so thoroughly self aware of its place as a ‘product’ in the logic of late capitalism, so it makes total sense that it’s married with the brand synonymous with such product-ness. I could write at length about this, but it boils down to two questions: At what point does the irony end? And when we get there, how can we know?

Lil Wayne finally released a project… on Tidal

Lil Wayne will continue to release throwaway projects and I will continue to listen to them, because even at his worst, Weezy always delivers entertainment. The new Free Weezy Album (FWA) is no exception. There’s always new drama; this time the fallout with the terrifying Birdman. There’s always entertaining features from Weezy’s latest batch of protégés (a dude called HoodyBaby) and the not so new ones (Euro and Cory Gunz). And, there’s almost always an absurd remix that no other rapper would attempt. In FWA, James Brown’s ‘I Feel Good’ gets the  treatment, and later in the tape we get the glorious hater-bait, ‘I’m That Nigga’. And, as usual, there are some genuinely good tracks (notably ‘Glory’ and ‘Thinkin Bout You’). It’s the latest episode in the Life of Weezy so it’s guaranteed to be a fun listen.


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