What Had Happened Was Trending stories on the intersections of race, sports & culture

These two ‘Black Beatles’ covers are glorious

We need more, please and thanks

9:29 AMWhen you’ve got the No. 1 song in the country, people want to be like you. That’s the position that Rae Sremmurd is in. According to Billboard, the hip-hop duo’s Black Beatles banger is at the top of the Hot 100 chart. We need not extol the virtues of the track, but let us guide you toward a couple of the more incredible covers we’ve seen in a while. First, behold the majesty.

I could listen to this all day. My man even hits the chorus and the ad-libs. He needs to release the full video. Secondly, there’s Nicki Minaj putting her twist on things to complete perfection. Nicki has a real skill at taking songs by guys and adapting them to a more female-centric theme, and she’s dang good at it. (Language: NSFW) Let’s hope this means Nicki’s next project is coming soon.


One thing is clear: Black Beatles is the song of the year.

Gwen Ifill dies at 61

The longtime journalist was a legend in the industry

3:40 PMWe weren’t ready.

The year of 2016 continued its devastating run of people we love who have died, this time touching the journalism world again. Gwen Ifill, host of PBS’ Washington Week died Monday at the age of 61. She was an old-school reporter who had worked at The Washington Post, The New York Times and NBC. News of her death caught many by surprise who were unaware that she was dealing with health issues. She had taken a leave of absence as a result of breast cancer.

“Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” PBS said in a statement. “She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around her. So many people in the audience felt that they knew and adored her. She had a tremendous combination of warmth and authority. She was stopped on the street routinely by people who just wanted to give her a hug and considered her a friend after years of seeing her on TV. We will forever miss her terribly.”


She moderated the 2004 and 2008 vice presidential debates and won countless honors during her career. Talking about his former MSNBC colleague on Monday afternoon, a teary-eyed Pete Williams said she had so many awards piled up in her office you could barely see out of the window.

In an era in which blaming the media seems to be all the rage, we can all agree that we’ve lost one of the greatest to ever do it.

Dave Chappelle’s opening ‘Saturday Night Live’ monologue was pitch perfect

There was really nobody else for the job

3:21 PMWhen news was first announced that Dave Chappelle would be hosting NBC’s Saturday Night Live on Nov. 12, longtime fans rejoiced. The man who shaped television comedy for a certain generation of viewers was going to be hosting the first episode of the sketch comedy program of record in the U.S., at least since his own Chappelle’s Show ended 10 years ago. With A Tribe Called Quest as the musical guest, it was like this throwback boom-bap card that reminded us all of what we once loved so much about our culture.

Then, two things happened. First, at a comedy show in New York City, Chappelle decided to share his thoughts about the then-upcoming election. He spoke ill of Hillary Clinton and seemingly defended Donald Trump’s remarks about sexual assault, a situation that got NBC’s Billy Bush fired. Then Trump got elected.

So, with a decidedly different timbre to the evening than many expected, the man who brought us “Black Bush” stepped to the stage and delivered a monologue that simultaneously reminded us why he is and isn’t on television anymore. “I didn’t know that Donald Trump was going to win the election,” Chappelle started. “I did suspect it. Seemed like Hillary was doing well in the polls, and yet, I know the whites. You guys aren’t as full of surprises as you used to be.”

To quote a famous man, it’s funny, because it’s true.

In the rest of the monologue, Chappelle described how different he feels America is now, in a way that garnered uncomfortable laughs from the crowd. The jokes went everywhere from the Islamic State group to #BlackLivesMatter to what it’s like to be rich. He even dropped a couple of N-bombs, just to remind you of how it was when he was at the helm. Chappelle was Chappelle in a way we hadn’t seen live in what seemed like forever.

Once the episode started, however, people weren’t so pleased. The program spent an inordinate amount of time lampooning Trump, as if the coverage were a separate matter from his popularity around the country, and they somehow were not a part of the media machine that built a 70-year-old man with zero experience in politics into commander in chief.

Saturday Night Live‘s ‘Hallelujah’ opening was a bunch of B.S. You don’t get to enable Donald Trump into the presidency and then cry when it happens,” the headline at Cosmopolitan read. “The show tried to tug at liberal America’s heartstrings, but its normalization of Donald Trump won’t be forgotten,” the sub-head at MTV.com read.

In a strange way, it became clear that Chappelle was the perfect person for this particular slot on this particular day with this particular result. Anyone else would have simply not had the gravitas to address the scenario, with a black man leaving the office and a reality TV star coming in. The humor was uncomfortable because that’s what the situation called for. It’s a lot easier to laugh at a joke about Obama being “stereotypically black” when you don’t think all the work he did in office might potentially be undone. Alas.

One of the most poignant moments of his nearly 12-minute monologue came via a sobering reminder of where we once were regarding electoral politics in this country. You’ve heard his old joke about not being the first black president, due to assassination threats. But this time around, he wasn’t kidding at all.

“I don’t know what he’s gonna do. But I know Obama did a good job. Obama did a good job,” Chappelle said. “I think we’ll all miss him when he’s gone. Do you agree with this? And thank God he lived to tell about it.” Chappelle’s strength has always been his ability to create a laugh out of something that’s not really funny at all. On Saturday, America needed that and Chappelle’s monologue delivered.

Whether or not this country can continue to laugh for the next four years, however, is a different matter.

Daily Dose: 11/14/16

Greg Oden is still getting sympathy from across the NBA

12:28 PMI spent the weekend in Richmond, Virginia, and it wasn’t the culture shock I was expecting. The one-time capital of the Confederacy is a lovely place in parts, and I’m glad I got to see it in the fall.

Steve Bannon is going to be President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist. Reince Preibus will be his chief of staff. Big Bird will be the head of Environmental Protection Agency and Cookie Monster will be leading the Food and Drug Administration. For many people, this was the real concern: not what Trump would do as the person representing all of America in public, but who he would install to enact lasting change on this nation. If you don’t know anything about either of these men, prepare yourself for a world of fear. ABC News analyzes just what these picks mean in Washington, D.C.

Of all the incredulous parts of this last week, the Ku Klux Klan’s involvement is the most eye-opening. Literally, the KKK endorsed a candidate, that person won and, now, they’re happy. Of course, all across the nation, people are marching to let the world know that they have a problem with the result. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, the KKK is planning a victory parade. Of course, the right to free expression is what this country is all about, but that goes both ways. VICE has the details on how this event is supposed to go.

You’ve seen the Harry Potter movies. OK, maybe not all of them, but when it comes down to it, as a movie series, the only other one that can really hold a candle to it, from a pop culture impact standpoint, is Star Wars. That said, it’s run its course, as everyone grew up and the source material dried up. However, with a new spinoff series coming, it’s interesting to take a look at exactly how impactful the Potter series was. FiveThirtyEight’s Walt Hickey breaks down how many people J.K. Rowling employed by proxy of writing her books.

The story of Greg Oden has become incredibly sad. The big man, who never really looked like he played basketball for any reason other than he was just a huge dude, did an interview over the weekend in which he called himself the biggest bust in NBA history. Obviously, this is true, but no one wants to say that out loud to his face because, well, it sucks. Kevin Durant, specifically, who was picked No.2 one slot behind him in the 2007 NBA Draft, isn’t hearing that talk, however. ESPN’s Chris Haynes reports on what the Golden State Warriors star thinks of Oden.

Free Food

Coffee Break: If we’ve gotten nothing else out of this past week, the memes have been hilarious. With President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden having shared so many moments over the years, we’ve got a trove of images to pick from and add dialogue as we see fit. Even the Brits think they’re funny.

Snack Time: If I’m being honest, Riff Raff is one of my favorite artists of all time. Not because his music is great, but his whole hustle has just been so impressive for years. Check out this interview with the neon icon.

Dessert: There’s a new Rogue One trailer out. Don’t forget, Dec. 16.

Daily Dose: 11/11/16

Protests continue as Trump makes first visit to White House as president-elect

11:33 AMToday is Veterans Day, a day in which we show gratitude to everyone who has served in our nation’s armed forces. That means different things to different people, but to those who gave, thank you.

Barely a day in to his pre-presidential time, Donald Trump is already complaining. See, people are still standing up in protest, not because they necessarily have a specific cause they want to support, or a narrow goal in mind. Folks are demonstrating because, frankly, they likely don’t know what else to do. They just know they have a problem with the man who was elected to the White House. However, the Republican moving in doesn’t seem to understand that people will likely be doing this for four straight years. ABC News reports.

Alas, we’re going to be talking about the specifics of the election for quite some time. There were just so many trends that were bucked, polls that were incorrect, pundits proved wrong and projections that didn’t pan out that we’re forced to look at exactly just what happened a little more closely. Among GOP candidates, there was worry that Trump’s perceived lack of popularity might negatively affect races down the ticket. That was nowhere near the case. FiveThirtyEight’s Harry Enten explains how straight-ticket voting dominated this time around.

My older sister is a vegan. I have no idea how she does it, to be honest. It’s a healthier lifestyle but difficult to maintain. I feel like in college is where I met the most outwardly self-identifying vegetarians, who went to extremes to explain to everyone why this was their choice. For a while, it was something I’d do once a week, just as a way to feel better about all the other crap I was constantly cramming into my face. Check out this story about a guy who almost died because he was pretending to be a vegetarian in college.

Every once and again, there’s a story of an athlete losing an opportunity that’s so heartbreaking it almost seems unreal. Jonnu Smith is a tight end at Florida International University. He’s a senior and the kind of guy who through a reasonable amount of hard work probably had a chance at a decent NFL career. However, the mother of his yet-to-be-born child decided she wanted to harm him by pouring scalding hot water all over him. Now his season is done. ESPN’s Andrea Adelson has the details.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Yesterday must have been a strange one for President Barack Obama. First, he welcomed the new president-elect to the White House. Then, he turned around and honored the Cleveland Cavaliers for their NBA title, which led to a very awkward juxtaposition at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Snack Time: If you’re looking for a rather ominous parallel to what many believe is going on in America right now, this story about bald eagles stuck in a Florida sewer will do the trick.

Dessert: Just in time for the weekend, the new album from A Tribe Called Quest is out. Enjoy.

Donald Glover’s heat rock of 2016 continues

His new track, ‘Me and Your Mama’ is incredible

3:39 PM

Donald Glover continues to have an incredible fall. After the success of his television series Atlanta on FX, which has been renewed for another season, some eagle-eyed fans of Childish Gambino noticed that he has a new album, Awaken, My Love dropping on Dec. 2.

That info surfaced because a crafty Reddit user saw a sign with the title at his local FYE. Everything about that sentence feels bizarre, but, hey, long live record stores! Let us also not forget that he’ll be playing Lando Calrissian in the new Han Solo Star Wars film, due for a 2018 release.

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Anyway, this new song is fire. It starts off with a bit of an Organized Noize type fantasy world of sonic bliss that conjures up a feeling not dissimilar to OutKast’s ATLiens vibe, specifically the “You May Die” intro. (Probably why it opens the album’s tracklist, at that.) Then, two minutes in, we switch to a remarkably more fuzz rock tone, with Gambino channeling his inner Gary Clark Jr., or Benjamin Booker. Clearly, a good way to go.

Great new show, well anticipated new album and iconic role to come under his belt? It’s been a good 2016 for Donald Glover.

Stan Van Gundy is not here for Donald Trump

The NBA took another step toward progressivism via the Pistons coach

1:44 PMA little over a year ago, Detroit Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy made his debut on Black Twitter with a photo from a bike ride that looked like it should have been a mixtape cover. Now he’s making waves by criticizing the president-elect. Welcome to the new NBA.

In a time in which players are speaking up about police brutality and violence and the league itself is taking a stand against gender discrimination, it’s still relatively surprising to hear a head coach completely blow off all discussion of the sport he’s employed to instruct to discuss what he thinks about the man just elected to the Oval Office. SVG held nothing back, either.

“I don’t think anybody can deny this guy is openly and brazenly racist and misogynistic,” Van Gundy said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “We have just thrown a good part of our population under the bus, and I have problems with thinking this is where we are as a country.”

Alrighty, then. The full extent of his remarks was even more explicit as Van Gundy touched on George W. Bush, the feelings of his team, his concern for his family, Martin Luther King Jr., Hillary Clinton’s viability as a candidate, evangelical Christians, voting precincts in Michigan and Latinos in the United States. He clearly has had a lot on his mind.

It should be noted that Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr agrees with Van Gundy.

There’s a larger question here, though, about how the league chooses to handle this. It’s one thing for players to wear T-shirts and voice their opinions about politics, it’s quite another for the so-called leaders of men to follow suit, not only in solidarity, but often of their own free will to do the same. BTW, San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has had lots to say, too, about how we treat each other in this country.

It’s almost a completely opposite turn from what happened in Philadelphia when a black woman singing the national anthem wanted to wear a shirt reading “We Matter.” The 76ers were largely criticized for pulling her from the stage, and ended up apologizing, backtracking and completely reversing course publicly about that decision.

When it became clear that the NBA, with its blackness, with its youth and with its guaranteed contracts, would be the sports league most likely to represent the face of “the movement,” it germinated from a place in which the president was black and most reasonable people could recognize that police brutality was a problem. That entire equation has now changed. If more coaches follow Van Gundy’s lead, what mainstream America thought was going to be a potential distraction during national anthems is now an every-night discussion in the NBA.

“While personal politics in general can be a divisive topic. And for Donald Trump, during his candidacy, he became a polarizing candidate, which included along the way, insulting a lot of people,” Jalen Rose said on NBA Countdown. “So those same people today as American citizens have to digest that he’s going to be the next president of the United States. How it’s going to affect sports? Unlike Tom Brady, when his team won the championship, and he chose not to go to the White House, saying it was a scheduling conflict when Barack Obama was in office. What we’re going to see in professional sports — NBA and NFL — mark my words, there will be players that decline the opportunity to visit the White House under his presidency.”

Let’s not forget that various players have found reasons not to visit the White House for championship celebrations during Obama’s presidency. But if Trump’s presence means that sports teams no longer want to show their faces at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., you’ll likely be able to credit the NBA for that.

Daily Dose: 11/10/16

President Obama set to meet with Donald Trump

11:39 AMBefore Election Day, we did record a podcast. We talked about what it’s like to be in President Barack Obama’s presence, the 25th anniversary of Magic Johnson’s announcement and of course, animal videos. Tune in or download here.

Clearly, many people are unhappy with Donald Trump’s victory. All across the country last night, thousands of people took to the streets to express their displeasure about the president-elect. You might ask yourself what the purpose of protest is at this point. The purpose is to express displeasure at the current state of affairs. Whether you might think that’s an effective method, this is not the time. ABC News reports on the unrest.

Back at the White House, Obama is doing his best to hold things together. A lot of people think that all of the hard work of his administration is going to be effectively erased, which is a sobering thought at best. Yesterday, when he addressed the nation about how the transition of power would go, he did his best to stay positive. The looks on the faces of his aides was a little more indicative of how many others felt, though. Yet, Obama and Trump will meet today, after all.

The evolution of Afrobeats as a genre is a slightly troubling one. While the Internet has made the sounds of West African musicians accessible all over the globe, there is still very much a concern about culture vultures ultimately gutting the realm for what they want it to be, not what it actually is. One such artist fighting that battle of perceived identity is Mr. Eazi, who wasn’t really that into music until he realized how important his place was in the culture. VICE reports.

Colin Kaepernick would like you to know that he voted for neither candidate. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback said he had little faith in either Trump or Clinton, and as a result, didn’t head to the polls on Tuesday. If you’ve been paying attention, this is a stance that’s consistent with what he’s said is his main cause overall, highlighting the oppression of people of color. ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss reports on how Kaep explained his decision.


Coffee Break: In a development almost more surprising than the election is that shoe company New Balance came out in full support of President-elect Trump, a decision angering many black folks who wear their sneakers, particularly in my hometown of D.C.

Snack Time: Luc Besson is one of my favorite movie directors of all time. So, when I heard that he’s got a new flick coming out with Rihanna involved, all I needed was a GIF to get excited.

Dessert: If you haven’t seen the Oregon Symphony Orchestra’s #mannequinchallenge, you should.