Beyoncé in ‘Formation’: Entertainer, Activist, Both?
Jon Caramanica, Wesley Morris, and Jenna Wortham | The New York Times
“Like Nina Simone and peak Madonna before her (Beyoncé lands somewhere between the two as a polemicist), this is a woman who understands her own power, how to harness and magnetize us to it. I mean, I’m supposed to be out at dinner right now. Instead, I’m hunched over a computer contemplating the Beyoncé politic.”

Anti-Everything: The Culture of Resistance Behind Rihanna’s Latest Album
Erin MacLeod | NPR
“The album is called Anti. It’s anti-establishment, anti-expectations, but it’s also anti-colonial. Is Anti also a wide-ranging commentary on relationships? Sure it is. That’s part of what makes it a consistent, coherent representation of the postcolonial. It doesn’t have to be (or want to be) one thing. Rihanna is a one-woman argument for the importance of cultural studies.”

Justin Bieber Would Like to Reintroduce Himself
Caity Weaver | GQ
“Almost as soon as it broke, the OG Mally story took on a mythic quality. The primate, a pet owned by noblewomen in Renaissance art, and by Michael Jackson, became a symbol of Bieber’s excess. His loss of it was indicative of irresponsibility. His failure to reclaim it marked Bieber as uncaring: the father no monkey deserved.”

Macklemore, Hillary, and Why White Privilege Is Everyone’s Burden
Rembert Browne | Vulture
“It’s rarely graceful, but every time Macklemore does or says anything involving race or his whiteness and gets criticized for it, he goes away and comes back a little wiser. Is he there yet with ‘White Privilege II’? No. Does he need to be put on a pedestal for making this song? No. But is this song a net positive? Yes.”

Misty Copeland and Degas: Art of Dance
Stephen Mooallem | Harper’s Bazaar
“The story of her rise from living in a single room in a welfare motel with her mother and five siblings to the uppermost reaches of the dance world has become a sort of 21st-century parable: the unlikely ballerina, as Copeland referred to herself in the subtitle of her 2014 memoir, Life in Motion, who may be on her way to becoming the quintessential ballerina of her time.”

Head Over Heels
Doree Shafrir | BuzzFeed
“Madden has a well-honed instinct for what the Steve Madden girl wears and what she is willing to spend her money on, which has been the case since he started his company in 1990 with $1,100 in the bank, selling samples of a clog he had designed called the ‘Marilyn’ out of the trunk of his car. Since then, he has managed to sell more women’s shoes in this country than almost any other brand.”

It’s in America’s DNA to be ‘Divisive’
Wesley Morris | The New York Times Magazine
“With no supporting evidence, you are free to speculate that Obama’s race is at the root of his divisiveness. But you can’t just say ‘because he’s black,’ because that’s divisive, too. The bad math emits a radioactive glow. We keep dividing until there’s nothing left to say: That’s how it feels on both sides of the chasm.”

Charlotte Rampling, Oscars Lightning Rod, Talks Loss and Survival
Jada Yuan | New York
“Rampling talked about loss with the clarity of someone deeply familiar with digging herself out of sadness. (She’s also been vocal about her battle with depression.) ‘With new loss that I’m feeling, with Jean-Noël having left,’ she said, ‘I’ve got a more stable inner structure. Construite. The word actually is a sort of translation from French. It’s like a house. I’m a quite solidly built house now.’”