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Sydney N. Sweeney

On the rapper’s infamous history of romantic faux pas, the irony of high-profile women avoiding him like the plague, and why celebrity couples occasionally fascinate me.

The other day, rumors started swirling that Drake has a new gal pal. Her name is Johanna Leia and she has an ass (BBL?) worthy of Twitter discourse. Almost thicker than her butt, though, is the stack of cash Drake must have needed to take Leia on a Friday night dinner date to a desolate Dodger Stadium, which is precisely what he did last week.

What kind of person would equate such a grandiose gesture to true romance? I have no idea. Personally, I’m just fine with a date night comprised of mid-tier sushi, splinters from equally cheap chopsticks…


Colorism is well and alive in one of Black music’s most popular genres. Everyone who listens to R&B needs to help combat it.

Note: This blog post provides background to why I created Brown butter. If you already know all about the effects of colorism in the Black community and the Black music space, feel free to skip over my educative spiel and scroll down to see the playlist. If you have an artist you want to see on the playlist, you can find a Google form link for that at the bottom of this post, too. 🤎

Being Black in music is already enough of a challenge. …


Because that shit is more than just ugly. It’s racist — and proves that Bieber’s “allyship” is performative. Gasp!

Damn, I wish people of color could stop talking about cultural appropriation — I really, really do. But white people won’t let us; they just won’t. Because every day another Caucasian person who claims to be “woke” does some dumbass, racist shit, without fail.

And I’m over it — over it enough, in fact, to finally write a little something about it.

So here I go.

Nobody ever said cultural appropriation was an easy concept to understand. But it is easier to wrap your head around if you do the work and read about it, talk to some people about…


In the early 2000s, the brains behind Barbie debuted a new line of hip-hop- and Black-culture-inspired fashion dolls called Flavas. The verdict? They were problematic (and swiftly discontinued after a year of poor sales). Their legacy? Not entirely tainted, thanks to none other than U.K. R&B legend Craig David.

I forget important things often. Birthdays, invoices, appointments, prescriptions, deadlines, an empty gas tank. I. Stay. Forgetting. My absentmindedness is selective, though — and isn’t everyone’s? The average person doesn’t remember the Pythagorean theorem or the Bill of Rights, but they sure as hell remember the iconic intro to “Ambitionz Az A Ridah” or the equally eminent pre-chorus of Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together.” And it might actually be erroneous of me to assume that fun stuff like lyrics or melodies is of no consequence. Because music is just as influential and necessary as numerous overrated concepts, say, the second…


Signed with RCA Records, former Fifth Harmony multihyphenate Normani has enough star power to blow today’s one-dimensional pop newcomers right out of the water. The problem: she has very little music to prove it. #FreeNormani (lol)

I’m obsessed with Normani Hamilton for a simple reason: she’s a young, black female performer who sparkles with more multidisciplinary star power than any other solo pop act I’ve seen rise to celebrity over the past half-decade or so. I am not only willing to die on this hill, but fight for it. So if you plan to argue with me about this — which I highly encourage you do, since I love a frenzied, yet friendly music debate — first do your homework and check out some of her strongest performances. They do not disappoint.

But, I already digress…


Almost twenty years later, the iconic toy brand’s biggest fans are now grown-up it-girls and IG baddies living their #bestlives — not only are these women pulling Y2K fashion and beauty inspiration from the fashion dolls’ aesthetic nostalgia, but also the inclusive, girl-powered ethos and bad-bitch attitude best embodied within the brand’s multimedia empire.

In 2001, the world was introduced to the Bratz brand via a half-minute TV commercial featuring animated versions of the almond-eyed, big-headed “Bratz pack” dolls helping a group of young girls get ready for some unknown, presumably child-friendly fête. For its target demographic, the clip depicted…


A rejected essay submission specially written for the L.A. Affairs column of the Los Angeles Times.

Our almost-relationship combusted on my 23rd birthday. He was too broke to take me to dinner — or even gift me a one-dollar greeting card. That night, I ate shitty pasta in my little San Pedro apartment and cried myself to slumber, wishing his inaction was unexpected — but secretly knowing such oblivion would disappoint.

“Just so you know,” I said to him the next day, “you’ve still treated me better than any other guy.”

And that was the truth. …

Sydney N. Sweeney

Sydney N. Sweeney is a writer, editor, and critic based in Los Angeles. Her work focuses on culture, music, identity, and pop nostalgia.

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