Last Week Was Lit – 2020 was an absolute shitshow fest of fuckery, wasn’t it? But don’t worry this year-end will surprisingly be relatively light-hearted. I mean you have been through the ringer with this year and the last thing you want to read coming into 2021 is doom and gloom.
However, before we get started, I must say thank you to all the essential workers for helping us get to this point. We will need you to fully get through this pandemic because Americans are — well — Americans smh. I also would like to take a moment to acknowledge some of the many lives we lost in the culture over the course of the year, may you continue to RIP and we will continue to keep your name, energy and legacy alive:
Kobe Bryant, Pop Smoke, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Chadwick Boseman, John Thompson, John Lewis, Naya Rivera, Andre Harrell, Fred the Godson, Tarvaris Jackson, MF DOOM.
It may be hard to remember all that’s happened as COVID really made this year feel like a decade. But not to worry, I have combed through Al Gore and Beyonce’s Internet to find a few of the lit moments this year did provide us.
I can say for a fact my friends, family, group chat and Twitter feed kept me, relatively, sane throughout the year and hopefully this wrap-up can give you some giggles and maybe a bit of appreciation for 2020. And when that countdown is nearing zero to usher in 2021, please use your December 21st superpowers to wish that next year is infinitely better than whatever the hell we just survived.
Between Sarah Fuller becoming the first woman to play in a major conference NCAA football game and Kim Ng becoming MLB’s first female general manager this has been a great year for firsts. Shout out to Naomi Osaka for winning her third Grand Slam at the US Open this year too. Oh and we got the first woman to ascend to the Vice Presidency position.
Nate Robinson KO’d By Jake Paul
The highly-anticipated boxing version of Verzuz saw Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr go at it, but the true match the culture circled was former hooper Nate Robinson fighting YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul. Despite the height and reach difference, the Black delegation felt good about our chances. We were big wrong. Why did Nate do this to us? Sadly, I have to root for Floyd to revenge our L. Yuck.
The Last Dance
ESPN and Netflix came together to release never seen before footage of the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls season—the last year of Michael Jordan’s second three-peat and his last season with the team. More than two decades later and 17 years after MJ’s playing days came to an end, the documentary was nostalgic for those that grew up watching Air Jordan and educational for those that didn’t have the pleasure to see his career in real-time.
With many discussions about LeBron James challenging MJ’s ‘GOAT’ title, The Last Dance was a great reminder of Jordan’s pure dominance. Releasing two episodes a night on Sunday nights, The Last Dance was must-see TV for any sports fan providing some bit of happiness in our newly quarantined world.
Big Baller Promise
We first met LaVar Ball and his three sons in 2016, as Chino Hills High School in California capped off a 35-0 state championship-winning season. The boisterous former NFL defensive end/tight end loudly proclaimed how all three sons would make it to the NBA, play on the same team, and win Larry O’Brien trophies. What made LaVar stand out from many sports dads with a similar profile was that he was entertaining and his sons were pretty good.
The eldest, Lonzo, ended up at UCLA and the powerhouse program seemingly had the other brothers committed in a handshake deal. After Lonzo went second overall to the hometown Los Angeles Lakers, LaVar was en route to fulfilling his prophecy. But with LiAngelo being pulled from UCLA after an incident in China and LaMelo being withdrawn from high school; many rushed to dismiss LaVar and his outlandish remarks and statements.
Fast forward to 2020, the youngest LaMelo was drafted third overall in the NBA Draft by MJ and the Charlotte Hornets and LiAngelo signed a non-guaranteed one-year deal with the Detroit Pistons. He did it. The crazy loudmouth got all three sons to the NBA. Black fathers have received lots of hell in society and this was a moment worth celebrating regardless of how people felt about LaVar.
Remember the XFL?
The XFL, Vince McMahon’s springtime pro football league, returned in 2020 after operating for a single season in 2001. Complete with 8 new teams in Dallas, NYC, Tampa, St. Louis, DC, LA, Houston, and Seattle and a new crop of progressive, unique rules sports fans were excited for the potential of the league as a true developmental option to the NFL. A
fter five weeks, the XFL suspended operations with a return date very much considered TBD. Months later news broke that former WWE superstar, The Rock, purchased the league for $15 million with tentative plans to re-launch in 2022. Hopefully, by the time, COVID is a thing of the past and this promising sports outlet can get the opportunity to shine.
LBJ Delivers A Ring In Memory of Kobe
Like every sports league operating in 2020, the NBA underwent a hiatus as the nation—and much of the world—went on RONA lockdown. The NBA returned to ‘The Bubble’; a single-site slate of eight games for teams within a reasonable reach of the playoffs as of the stoppage date to be hosted at Florida’s Disney World.
Set up with numerous COVID testing and strict guidelines regarding proximity and guests—including the games being played with no fans in attendance—’The Bubble’ was a hit as sports fans were devoid of any sense of normalcy during the quarantine.
Adding in a play-in game between the 8th and 9th seeded teams if they were within four games of each other, ‘The Bubble’ was innovative and successful—with only 2 players testing positive throughout the two-and-a-half-month span. In the end, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat in six games to win the franchise’s 17th NBA championship.
The title was an emotional one as Laker legend Kobe Bryant succumbed to injuries sustained in a helicopter accident in the beginning of the year. With Rob Pelinka, the longtime agent for Bryant during his playing days, serving as the team’s general manager and the team playing in Bryant inspired ‘Mamba Jerseys’, even the most ardent Laker hater understood how important it was for the Lakers to win it all this season.
Tekashi Breaks The Internet
Controversial rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine returned to the internet streets after snitching on the entire NYC Nine-Trey Bloods set he was associated with during his short, crash-and-burn run. The rainbow-haired artist came on the scene after the success of the single, Gummo, gaining a lot of attention for his large ‘69’ facial tattoo and braggadocious persona.
With his manager, Shotti, a member of the East Coast Bloods sect, in tow, Tekashi welcomed beef with any and all in the music industry. Behind his disrespectful plea for foes to ‘suck his dick,’ many sat in awe that 6ix9ine walked around unscathed in an era filled with a league-high amount of ‘street dudes’. But as always the Hip-Hop police are watching and it was only a matter of time before the feds looked into the burgeoning rapper and his crew.
Yet the surprise for many came when Tekashi agreed to cooperate with law enforcement to take down everyone that was involved although there had been reports of friction with a former associate accused of having kidnapped the Brooklyn-born emcee. With an early release thanks to COVID and an asthma diagnosis, Tekashi was back on the scene to cause pure, unadulterated chaos. Naturally, many curious minds were eager to hear Tekashi speak on the events and if he’d return with the same shenanigans that he went into prison with.
This led to Tekashi shattering the record for viewers in an IG Live with 2 million tuning in to hear 6ix9ine continue his shit-talking ways. Needless to say, the schtick didn’t last much longer than that and it’s been relatively quiet on his front since then. Let’s hope this stays that way in 2021.
Being locked indoors didn’t completely stop an absolute banger from having a significant impact. Megan thee Stallion and Cardi B teamed up for the raunchy anthem, WAP. The clean version, hence the acronym, was stepped on by a sultry music video and certainly inspired many ‘quarantine violation link-ups’ to take place.
Undoubtedly the song of the year by a landslide, I am positive this song is going to go crazy in the clubs once we’re allowed to go outside again.
The one-on-one artist versus artist showcase brought to us by hip-hop producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland after a contest of their own certainly held us down this year. The anticipation of many matches including fans predicting the scores or which 20 songs the competing artists would select kept music fans engaged and reminiscing on jams we’ve forgotten about over the years.
Whether it was Ne-Yo vs Johnta Austin, Teddy Riley vs Babyface, DMX vs Snoop, or the highly-anticipated Gucci vs Jeezy; the web series scratched our music itch and drama itch all in one. I’m sure when the world opens up, Swizz and Timbo will introduce live versions of these battles. I can’t wait!
Virgil & Microsoft Paint
The hip-hop world was stunned after the premature passing of Canarsie drill rapper Pop Smoke in February. His deep voice and infectious energy captivated many as he quickly became the face of the New York City version of the drum and gangsta combo of Chicago and the UK’s ‘drill’ subgenre of rap.
After a home invasion seemingly gone wrong in a Hollywood Hills house the rapper was renting out, fans hoped the 20-year-old artist had music in the tuck completed for his debut album that was set to come later in the year.
50 Cent, someone Pop had shared many comparisons to, volunteered to executive produce the album finishing the work that Pop Smoke had started on. As songs began to release coming up on the July 3rd initial release date, Virgil Abloh—the frequent Kanye West collaborator behind the Off-White brand—let the world see what he had in mind for an album cover.
Pop and Abloh had been linked with the designer inviting the “Welcome to the Party” rapper to Paris for the city’s Fashion Week event. Many trusted that conversations between the two would result in a cover the late artist would have championed for his first major studio release but the Twitter streets very much so voiced their displeasure about the cover that appeared to have very little effort put into it.
Thankfully the bullying worked as representatives for Pop Smoke announced they would scrap Abloh’s version for a new cover. Then there was the whole $50 bit with Virgil too. I hope he has a better 2021.
Dipset From the Throne
Meghan Markle was already a First-Team Risk-It-All All-Star from her time on the hit-TV series, Suits. She solidified this when becoming romantically linked to Prince Harry back in 2016.
As you might expect the English were not fond of an American infiltrating the Royal Fam, especially with her being half-Black and not necessarily an “A-List” celebrity. The couple married in 2018 and welcomed their first child, Archie, in 2019; all of this on the heels of an experience from hell as the criticisms only continued publicly and I’m sure significantly more behind-the-scenes. S
o Meghan pulled the bossiest move of the year and said ‘we out’. Clearly, this has to signal that America is up 2-0 on Great Britain. Getting a member of the Royal Family to say, ‘thanks but no thanks’ to bread, the cushiest life imaginable and a castle is the most gangstalicious thing I’ve ever heard. And honestly, Meghan is spicy enough to do this. Hang her jersey in the rafters.
One Term For Y’alls Mans
The wrecking ball from Miley Cyrus’ video failed to secure a second term after being impeached and being historically bad at his job—” subjectively” speaking. Don’t really have much else to say about duke so I’ll just leave this:
Kim Jong Un Faked Death to Expose the Ops
If I must say this has to be my favorite story of the year. Easily. When people talk about Jay-Z chess and all that, this is what they mean. Holy shit LMFAO! So essentially word started coming out that the North Korean dictator may be dead after an unusually long spell without being seen.
Now, this is ballsy AF considering we were only in the middle of a global pandemic but this is also what made it very believable too. Allegedly the 36-year-old was looking to find the Tekashi 6ix9ine’s in his crew and pulled the Machiavellian stunt to see exactly who was leaking info in his camp. Not only did we see that but word hit that his sister would be ascending to power and it didn’t sound like she was much of a cherub either.
After finding the snakes and cutting the grass, all seemed back to ‘normal’ for North Korea and Kim Jong Un, as a gesture of just how good he’s feeling he’s even sent out New Year’s cards. What a guy [obvious sarcasm]!
Love Is Blind
Chaos came early for us in 2020. Nick Lachey and Netflix brought us absolute anarchy in the reality dating show, Love Is Blind. The premise estimated that one did not need to see a partner in order to fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their lives together.
The show followed 6 men and women staying in separate pods conducting various speed dating rounds with one another while being unable to see their potential mates. Off of strictly vibes and connecting, people decided who to pursue further with the catch being that a contestant would only be able to see the person upon the decision to propose. After the proposal, the prospective couples would go on a retreat and then try co-habitation before finally determining at the wedding if they would stay together or split up.
While the show had its successes—spoiler alert coming—the best villains were Carlton and Jessica. Carlton, a master manipulator, waited until the post-proposal phase to tell Diamond of his previous entanglements with men.
But it was that he went full demon-mode first that really turned viewers off perhaps more so than the confession in and of itself. Jessica—whew, where do we start with Jessica—was 2020’s first shitshow. Between flip-flopping men and dragging the one she connected with one for forever, I think everyone watching wanted to throw paws with her. I didn’t even know I liked shows like this but man it was all the rage. Can’t wait for Season 2.
Again, this show should’ve prepared us for what 2020 became because ‘oh my god, what the fuck’ is perhaps the best way to describe this. The show followed Joe Exotic, a bi-sexual Oklahoman zoo owner in a battle for the rights to his zoo with assumed husband killer, Carole Baskin. Honestly, I don’t even have words for this show. Between Joe running for governor, the very obviousness of Carole Baskin being guilty, whatever was going on with Doc Antle—the true villain of the show if we’re keeping it real, Saff losing an arm, and how badly the animals were being treated by damn near everyone I just…SMFH. America is truly a wild, wild place and nothing summed that up more than Tiger King. Pray for us.
HBO Max vs Netflix
As we’ve been home all year long, the TV has most likely become everyone’s BFF. Whether it’s been trying to find something on Netflix to binge or HBO Max getting in bed with Warner since movie theatres are essentially dead; it’s been quite a year seeing every network alive become a streaming service.
The two giants became even more connected as Dave Chappelle’s Chappelle Show magically popped up on both mediums. In a video published on Instagram, Chappelle spoke about his lack of compensation for the show per his contract with Comedy Central after the comedian left the show in 2006. Still one of the greatest stand-up comedians there is, Chappelle talked about asking Netflix to remove the show and how they obliged in hopes to continue future business while HBO—at the time of his video—refused to follow suit.
Eventually, HBO Max also removed the show as well giving fuel to wishful thinking guesses from the video that there might be a new iteration of the Chappelle Show to come in the future. With COVID still having a grip on our nation, get real comfy with these two ‘TV providers’ ’cause it’s gonna be a lil minute before outside is a thing again.
“And well there you have it! Of course, I couldn’t include everything that took place in 2020 but all things considered, it was a year for the ages. Once again, rest in peace to all that we’ve lost, and thank you to everyone that has risked their own lives serving as essential workers throughout the pandemic. Lastly, thank you to everyone that has helped What You Expect have a groundbreaking 2020. You keep us going and we have a lot of great stuff planned for you for 2021.
Stay safe! Wash your hands! Wear your mask! And we’ll see you soon. Happy New Year!”