Pop annotations: "Show Stopper" by Danity Kane

While most of us sneak peeks at the footnotes while trying to decipher baffling classics like Finnegan's Wake, we seem to do fine without expertly-annotated copies of In Style. Truth is, we don't know what we're missing. To remedy that, there's Pop Annotations, our weekly column exposing profundities lurking below the surface of today's hit songs. This week we tackle newly-minted supergroup Danity Kane's new single, "Show Stopper."

We in the car, we ride slow
We doin' things that the girls don't do1
The boys stare, we smile back
All my girls in the rainbow Cadillacs, yeah!2

1. In a subculture where the ample-booty'd are treated like fleshy fashion accessories, could this be hip-hop's long-awaited rallying cry to feminism; Danity Kane nothing less than a pop-lockin' quintet of fly Betty Friedans?
2. Despite the connotations here, DK are apparently not lesbians.

Showstoppin' at the latest spot3
The ride shinin' with the open top
Hydraulics make our heads go nod
Hair blowin' in the breeze
Yo, we superstars!4


3. The band's latest spot, according to Billboard, was #1 on the album charts -- not bad for a group Frankensteined into existence by rap impresario Sean "Puffy "˜P. Diddy'" Combs, who discovered them on his reality show Making the Band. DK was assembled from the reanimated corpses of Salt "˜n' Pepa, En Vogue and Destiny's Child. Professors of Victorian literature predict it's only a matter of time before the girls turn on their creator and eat Diddy.
4. "Yo" is the name of a deity worshipped by the Bambara tribe of Mali, who believe the universe began and will end with the sound "yo!" "Superstar" refers to the prevailing cosmological paradigm explaining the origin of the universe, in which a tremendously dense and hot supermass (or "superstar") existed for a brief time, 13.7 billion years ago, before it expanded into what we today refer to as "everything." Therefore, the Big Bang sounded something like this.

Put in the keys, make that engine purr
Three in the back, one in the passenger
Slow-creepin' cause we look that fly
All the boys tryn'a taste our candy ride5


5. Champion racehorse Candy Ride would indeed be difficult for the boys to taste, not only because he is exceedingly fast "“ running a mile in just 1:31.01 "“ but thanks also to American taboos re: the consumption of horseflesh. Such taboos, however, don't exist in Japan, where the boys might sample some Candy Ride-flavored ice cream (gag -- pictured).

Bet you ain't never seen (hey!)
Chicks ridin this clean (hey!)
Louis Vuitton seats (oh, oh, oh!)6
We do it deadly7
That's how we keep it poppin' (hey!)
Make sure the bass knockin' (hey!)
So when you see us ridin' (oh, oh, oh!)
We call it Show Stoppin'

6. French luggage-maker Louis Vuitton, who would be 185 this year if he hadn't died in the 19th century, can lay claim to having founded the world's first designer label. As a device originally meant to combat counterfeiting, the Vuitton monogram has been a colossal failure: these days, just over 1% of "Vuitton"-branded items are not counterfeit.
7. Diddy knows deadly: in 1991, a judge ruled him 50% responsible for the deaths of nine people at a concert he promoted, at which he had blocked all exits with heavy tables so that fans without tickets wouldn't be able to sneak inside. But as the third law of Peediddydynamics states, "if the ticketless can't get in, the ticketed can't get out" "“ a stampede did the rest.

We sittin' on 22s plus 28
Mink bucket seats, neon blue9
Color-coordinate with them shoes
Yeah, we divas but we ride like big boys do

8. That is, 24-inch wheel rims. ("We sittin' on 48s divided by the cube root of 16s" just didn't have the same ring to it.)
9. Didn't they just say the seats were Vuitton leather?

Black-tinted with a white stripe interstate
Lookin' in the mirror at my Bad Boy fitted, yup10
Show stoppin' till they lose they breath
Turn the wheel to the right
Turn the wheel to the left

10. "Bad Boy" being Diddy's record label, Bad Boy Records; "fitted" being a hat. Diddy, remember, is also a fashion designer, and so understands the hidden relationship between hats and record albums: when people buy either of them, Diddy gets paid.

This is for my ladies in the 280 Mercedes
In the H3, Baby Ranges, Bentley Coupes, Escalades
Break 'em off somethin' proppa like a real show stoppa11
This is for chicas with the Beemers, A6's
"˜67 Chevy, Maserati, or a Lexus


11. According to the Dictionary of Fringe English, to break off means "to freely or gratuitously give something (to someone), especially money or something highly prized; in the form break (someone) off a piece, to give or receive sexual favors." While breakin' someone off a piece in the latter sense would undoubtedly be a show-stoppa "“ especially while riding clean in, say, a Baby Range "“ I don't think this is something that hip-hop's most outspoken feminists meant to imply. Therefore, they must be giving away cars like Oprah; hook a blogga up, ladiez!

Hulton Archive/Getty Images
13 Fascinating Facts About Nina Simone
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Nina Simone, who would’ve celebrated her 85th birthday today, was known for using her musical platform to speak out. “I think women play a major part in opening the doors for better understanding around the world,” the “Strange Fruit” songstress once said. Though she chose to keep her personal life shrouded in secrecy, these facts grant VIP access into a life well-lived and the music that still lives on.


The singer was born as Eunice Waymon on February 21, 1933. But by age 21, the North Carolina native was going by a different name at her nightly Atlantic City gig: Nina Simone. She hoped that adopting a different name would keep her mother from finding out about her performances. “Nina” was her boyfriend’s nickname for her at the time. “Simone” was inspired by Simone Signoret, an actress that the singer admired.


Getty Images

There's a reason that much of the singer's music had gospel-like sounds. Simone—the daughter of a Methodist minister and a handyman—was raised in the church and started playing the piano by ear at age 3. She got her start in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina, where she played gospel hymns and classical music at Old St. Luke’s CME, the church where her mother ministered. After Simone died on April 21, 2003, she was memorialized at the same sanctuary.


Simone, who graduated valedictorian of her high school class, studied at the prestigious Julliard School of Music for a brief period of time before applying to Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music. Unfortunately, Simone was denied admission. For years, she maintained that her race was the reason behind the rejection. But a Curtis faculty member, Vladimir Sokoloff, has gone on record to say that her skin color wasn’t a factor. “It had nothing to do with her…background,” he said in 1992. But Simone ended up getting the last laugh: Two days before her death, the school awarded her an honorary degree.


Simone—who preferred to be called “doctor Nina Simone”—was also awarded two other honorary degrees, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Malcolm X College.


A photo of Nina Simone circa 1969

Gerrit de Bruin

At the age of 12, Simone refused to play at a church revival because her parents had to sit at the back of the hall. From then on, Simone used her art to take a stand. Many of her songs in the '60s, including “Mississippi Goddamn,” “Why (The King of Love Is Dead),” and “Young, Gifted and Black,” addressed the rampant racial injustices of that era.

Unfortunately, her activism wasn't always welcome. Her popularity diminished; venues didn’t invite her to perform, and radio stations didn’t play her songs. But she pressed on—even after the Civil Rights Movement. In 1997, Simone told Interview Magazine that she addressed her songs to the third world. In her own words: “I’m a real rebel with a cause.”


Mississippi Goddam,” her 1964 anthem, only took her 20 minutes to an hour to write, according to legend—but it made an impact that still stands the test of time. When she wrote it, Simone had been fed up with the country’s racial unrest. Medger Evers, a Mississippi-born civil rights activist, was assassinated in his home state in 1963. That same year, the Ku Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham Baptist church and as a result, four young black girls were killed. Simone took to her notebook and piano to express her sentiments.

“Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam,” she sang.

Some say that the song was banned in Southern radio stations because “goddam” was in the title. But others argue that the subject matter is what caused the stations to return the records cracked in half.


Nina Simone released over 40 albums during her decades-spanning career including studio albums, live versions, and compilations, and scored 15 Grammy nominations. But her highest-charting (and her first) hit, “I Loves You, Porgy,” peaked at #2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1959. Still, her music would go on to influence legendary singers like Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin.


Head wraps, bold jewelry, and floor-skimming sheaths were all part of Simone’s stylish rotation. In 1967, she wore the same black crochet fishnet jumpsuit with flesh-colored lining for the entire year. Not only did it give off the illusion of her being naked, but “I wanted people to remember me looking a certain way,” she said. “It made it easier for me.”


New York City, Liberia, Barbados, England, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were all places that Simone called home. She died at her home in Southern France, and her ashes were scattered in several African countries.


During the late '60s, Simone and her second husband Andrew Stroud lived next to Malcolm X and his family in Mount Vernon, New York. He wasn't her only famous pal. Simone was very close with playwright Lorraine Hansberry. After Hansberry’s death, Simone penned “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” in her honor, a tribute to Hansberry's play of the same title. Simone even struck up a brief friendship with David Bowie in the mid-1970s, who called her every night for a month to offer his advice and support.


Photo of Nina Simone
Amazing Nina Documentary Film, LLC, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

In 2010, an 8-foot sculpture of Eunice Waymon was erected in her hometown of Tryon, North Carolina. Her likeness stands tall in Nina Simone Plaza, where she’s seated and playing an eternal song on a keyboard that floats in midair. Her daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, gave sculptor Zenos Frudakis some of Simone’s ashes to weld into the sculpture’s bronze heart. "It's not something very often done, but I thought it was part of the idea of bringing her home," Frudakis said.


Rihanna sang a few verses of Simone’s “Do What You Gotta Do” on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo. He’s clearly a superfan: “Blood on the Leaves” and his duet with Jay Z, “New Day,” feature Simone samples as well, along with Lil’ Wayne’s “Dontgetit,” Common’s “Misunderstood” and a host of other tracks.


Nina Revisited… A Tribute to Nina Simone was released along with the Netflix documentary in 2015. On the album, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, Usher, Alice Smith, and more paid tribute to the legend by performing covers of 16 of her most famous tracks.

NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Watch the First-Ever Footage of a Baby Dumbo Octopus
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
NOAA, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dumbo octopuses are named for the elephant-ear-like fins they use to navigate the deep sea, but until recently, when and how they developed those floppy appendages were a mystery. Now, for the first time, researchers have caught a newborn Dumbo octopus on tape. As reported in the journal Current Biology, they discovered that the creatures are equipped with the fins from the moment they hatch.

Study co-author Tim Shank, a researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, spotted the octopus in 2005. During a research expedition in the North Atlantic, one of the remotely operated vehicles he was working with collected several coral branches with something strange attached to them. It looked like a bunch of sandy-colored golf balls at first, but then he realized it was an egg sac.

He and his fellow researchers eventually classified the hatchling that emerged as a member of the genus Grimpoteuthis. In other words, it was a Dumbo octopus, though they couldn't determine the exact species. But you wouldn't need a biology degree to spot its resemblance to Disney's famous elephant, as you can see in the video below.

The octopus hatched with a set of functional fins that allowed it to swim around and hunt right away, and an MRI scan revealed fully-developed internal organs and a complex nervous system. As the researchers wrote in their study, Dumbo octopuses enter the world as "competent juveniles" ready to jump straight into adult life.

Grimpoteuthis spends its life in the deep ocean, which makes it difficult to study. Scientists hope the newly-reported findings will make it easier to identify Grimpoteuthis eggs and hatchlings for future research.


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