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BIG FACTS: Arts and culture poured $763.6 billion into U.S. economy

On Tuesday, the National Endowment for the Arts published a report measuring the economic impact of the arts in 2015, revealing the arts funneled $763.6 billion into the U.S. economy in 2015, which accounts for 4.2 percent of the country’s GDP.

Here’s a breakdown of a couple notable numbers from the report:

– 4.9 million workers, who earned $372 billion in total compensation.

– The arts added four times more to the U.S. economy than the agricultural sector and $200 billion more than transportation or warehousing.

– The arts saw a $20 billion trade surplus, leading with movies and TV programs and jewelry.

– The arts trended positively between 2012 and 2015 with an average growth rate of 2.6 percent, slightly higher than 2.4 percent for the nation’s overall economy. Between 2014 and 2015, the growth rate was 4.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.

– Among the fastest-growing industries within the ACPSA are web streaming and web publishing, performing arts presenting, design, and architectural services.

– Tax-exempt performing arts organizations (those producing art and those presenting the art of others) contributed $9 billion to the U.S. economy and employed 90,000 workers, who earned $5.6 billion in total compensation.

– Consumers spent $31.6 billion on admissions to performing arts events, $1 billion more than projected.

NEA Chairman Jane Chu said in a statement about the economic data of the arts:

“The robust data present in the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account show through hard evidence how and where arts and culture contribute value to the economies of communities throughout the nation. The data confirm that the arts play a meaningful role in our daily lives, including through the jobs we have, the products we purchase, and the experiences we share.”

This report comes roughly a month after President Trump’s proposed 2019 budget, which would cut federal funding for the NEA.

It’s pretty awesome to see the arts thriving economically like this. Any sort of cut to the NEA would result in a pretty disastrous situation for independent artists who receive crucial grants and funding from the endowment.

Keep America weird. Fund the arts.

Negative Gemini and George Clanton are building their own personal indie empire with 100% Electronica label

As the music industry continues its forward plunge into the murky waters of streaming hegemony, artists continue to look for ways to maneuver within this constantly shifting space. Certain artists offer limited quantities of their art at a premium price, some spurn major label deals entirely, others put an emphasis on merch or touring.

This isn’t a genre-specific phenomenon either. Across the musical spectrum, artists are changing the business of music on their own terms.

One musician couple, Negative Gemini and George Clanton, are seizing control of their careers by starting their own label and captivating audiences at their live shows.

As Negative Gemini, real name Lindsey French, and Clanton rise as artists in their own right, they are also taking on the mantle of label heads. It’s a lot to take on, but when I spoke to French and Clanton a couple of weeks ago over the phone I could sense a palpable feeling of liberation and excitement.

In between a stay in New Orleans, where Lindsey finished her recent Bad Baby EP, an American tour, and an inevitable return to New York, Clanton and French were staying at Lindsey’s childhood home when I caught up with them to talk about their new music, their live shows, and their 100% Electronica label.

French’s most recent EP, Bad Baby, a 6-song collection displaying her intriguing combination of ambient, levitated lyrics with throbbing drum and bass instrumentation, came out in January.

When I ask French about the process behind Bad Baby as opposed to her previous release, Body Work, she tells me it was all about getting back to basics:

“I feel like Body Work was really about me coming into my own as a producer and then, and then Bad Baby was more — I’m always trying to shift my process and kind of like reintroduce things that I use to do. So Bad Baby was kind of more about reintroducing how I started making music in the first place, which was songwriting using a guitar, just starting with bare bones and working from that, rather than focusing on the production so much.”

The results on Bad Baby are clear. Off the strength of the EP, French and Clanton are touring packed, raucous shows up and down the Eastern seaboard right now.

The couple get especially excited when talking about their tour and live shows in general, Clanton told me about first seeing his now girlfriend when she was in a rap group years ago:

“I just think we’re really good at [performing]. Lindsey is a natural performer. The first time I saw Lindsey, I was scared of her because she was in a rap group like, years ago and I–she was on stage like, screaming obscenities at people…I don’t know she’s always been a performer. I’ve been a performer.”

Clanton went on to describe the sensation of performing his songs as people shout the lyrics back at him. As he struggled to find the right word for the sensation, French offered up “feedback loop.”

Satisfied with this nomenclature, Clanton expanded on the feedback loop between himself and the audience, telling me that he’s begun making new music with his live show in mind:

“It’s a feedback loop that’s just getting more and more intense. The shows are really good and as a result a lot of people are coming. That makes us put more effort into it and then, as a result more people come and the audience just gets crazier and we get crazier. It’s like a frenzy. I can’t speak for Lindsey, but for me, the live shows are the main focus now and I’m writing my new music to make the live experience more extreme.”

The idea that an artist would write new music specifically for live shows is fascinating to me, but Clanton and French are clearly inspired by the reception they’ve been getting while on tour. Clanton, who is now recording under his full name as opposed to his previous ESPRIT 空想 moniker, told me his new batch of songs, which he had been recording right up until we jumped on a call, are his best batch of songs yet.

French described her surprise, and excitement, at people in small American towns showing out and knowing all the words to her songs. When I ask about the difference between the audience reaction in New York as opposed to smaller cities like their native Richmond, Virginia, French says it’s a lot easier to get people from small towns engaged, at least openly, with their music,

“You know what? It’s a lot easier to get people riled up outside of New York. People in New York, you know, they’ve seen it all, they don’t give a shit. But people in small towns are like waiting for something exciting to happen, waiting for someone they know to come through. So those are the ones that are really more insane.”

Live shows and good music are great, but artists need the proper backing and distribution to get their music to fans. That’s where their 100% Electronica label comes in, which French and Clanton started in September 2015 in conjunction with Clanton’s album of the same name. I ask about the inspiration behind starting their label and whether they felt they were filling a sort of void in the industry.

“It was purely out of necessity,” French tells me. “We both had music that we were working on and we were like, ‘Okay well what do we do with this?'”

Clanton went on to say that 100% Electronica in part came out of discussions with indie labels and realizing they offered very little, if anything, that he couldn’t do himself.

The couple run 100% Electronica with little to no help but are still able to operate as musicians and label heads at the same time. French thinks this is an exciting trend for the possibilities that artists have at their disposal now:

“I think it’s a completely new thing for the music industry. Like, this time right now where you can have like a reasonable amount of success independently of major labels. “

When it comes to building a roster beyond Negative Gemini and George Clanton, the couple doesn’t have the time to do serious A&R to find new artists. Instead, they rely on a completely organic process. Clanton described how they find new music:

“We don’t search. It’s either going to like fall into our lap by accident or not at all. So our latest album is a guy from New Zealand who sent us a care package with a lovely letter and some cassettes inside of it.”


When 100% Electronica brings in a new artist, they sort of acquire Negative Gemini and Clanton’s fans. Clanton explained that this is the best quality of their label:

“The bulk of our label power extends from what can we do as artists to give people who haven’t been heard a head start. So, by introducing them to our fanbase, which can kind of like, you know we would hope that they could meet and exceed our fanbase.”

It’s a pretty cool idea, and one that may signal the direction labels are heading and possibilities for artists in the future. Why entrust your art to a larger entity when you have all the resources at your disposal? Or, as French puts it,

“I get to make sure that I’m giving myself exposure and opportunities and not putting [my career] in the hands of somebody who might just be fucking off while I’m paying them $1,000 a month.”

Richard Perkins

Catch Negative Gemini and George Clanton at an upcoming live show, French is adding dates to her ongoing tour and set for a European tour in the fall and watch out for that new (best ever) George Clanton.

DJ Taye’s ‘Still Trippin’ pushes Chicago footwork to exciting new heights

Chicago footwork is one of the most vibrant music scenes in America, yet is left all too unexamined by those outside the Windy City.

In the ’90s, footwork started as a form of dance, more precisely dance battling. Battlers would square up to rapid, turbulently sampled, electronic beats, drawing from the remnants of Chicago house and Detroit techno.

For South Side Chicago kids, like King Charles, footwork represented a form of expression. The sounds can seem harsh to a novice listener, the ultra-high-BPM tempos can be hard to grab onto, the cascading drums and piercing samples are pretty unfamiliar to fans of hip-hop or dance music.

The late great DJ Rashad’s Double Cup is often pointed to as the project that brought footwork from the functions of the underground Chicago dance music scene to the masses.

Meaghan Garvey wrote for Pitchfork that Double Cup was, “a work that proved footwork could transcend the dancefloor functionality of its origins and flourish in the full-length album format.”

Rashad’s Double Cup is a seminal piece of dance music, repackaging Chicago footwork in a way that both honors the genre’s roots, but also pushed the needle forward, offering a revolutionary vision as to what footwork could be.

The man who brought footwork to the forefront would pass away of an accidental drug overdose in 2014, but Teklife, the label Rashad founded, has carried on his mission to keep the genre alive.

This is where DJ Taye comes in. Teklife’s youngest member released Still Trippin’, his first album, last Friday, and taken footwork to fascinating new heights, both sonically and formally.

DJ Taye’s Still Trippin’, much like Double Cup, pays homage to footwork’s earliest characteristics, but also expands on the sound of the genre, pushing its possibilities further into other genres.

Unlike Rashad, DJ Taye raps on his own beats. While producers voices have appeared over their production in dance music, it’s a new wrinkle to the footwork landscape.

DJ Taye’s Still Trippin’ begins with “2094”, the twinkling pianos and cascading synths rise and fall like a mechanical fountain. It feels like a sort of tribute to Rashad himself, “2094” would fit comfortably right inside Double Cup.

But Still Trippin’ is much more than a stylistic tribute to DJ Rashad. In many ways, DJ Taye takes Rashad’s mission and pushes it forward, adding new layers and new techniques, the most obvious of which is the presence of Taye’s own voice on the project.

With this, Taye offers this chaotic collision of hip-hop and footwork. On “Trippin'”, Taye raps over a wild, bubbling beat as the synths dart around.

Taye combines the unfamiliarity of rapping over footwork production with the more footwork-inherent chopping and screwing of his own vocals.

“Smokeout”, featuring DJ Lucky, sounds less like rapping-over-footwork than just a far-left hip-hop song of a Shabazz Palaces or Flying Lotus.

This is the same quality on “Get It Jukin'” with Cool Kids legend Chuck Inglish, until Taye mixes up the MC’s vocals with rapid drums that are as footworky as any.

Then Chuck is back to rapping. It’s a wild song construction, virtually making the chopping of these vocals as the song’s chorus.

There are levels to this trick; footwork rarely has typical “choruses,” but with “Get It Jukin'”, Taye inserts what is basically a footwork-derived chorus into a hip-hop song. The results are staggering.

“Same Sound”, with Montreal singer Odile Myrtil, goes even further.

With original recorded vocals, “Same Sound” imagines a vision of footwork production with pop, or more typical songwriting, elements.

All of this genre-blending begs the question of whether Still Trippin’ even qualifies as footwork.

While I think the necessity to categorize something into a specific box sort of misses the point, throughout Still Trippin’ DJ Taye brings us back to the ultra-BPM world of footwork without the frills of rap verses or more typical songwriting.

“Truu” is footwork at its boppy best with the urgently and chaotically chopped up sample and heart-racing drums that hit you at every level of your ear.

On another DJ Manny collaboration, “The Matrix”, Taye shoots glitchy, video game lasers that sound like they were mixed by A-Trak at the listener.

It’s as wild of a dance song that you’ll hear.

“Need It” clashes elements of deep house with a footwork sample. Even when Taye leans more towards the dance aspects of his music, he’s pushing footwork to the limits.

The post-dub synths on “Need It” sound like something out of 2011 UK dance music, while the sample and drums are straight Rashad footwork.

There are few things more exciting than a young, upstart artist bursting into a niche genre and blowing the whole thing up. That feels like what DJ Taye is doing on Still Trippin’.

It’s so rare for an album to be formally revolutionary and representative of that genre at the same time.

Still Trippin’ is set to be a footwork classic, not in spite of all of the extra layers the project adds to the fabric of Chicago footwork, but because of them.

Legendary Harlem designer Dapper Dan talks being busted, and complimented, by Sonia Sotomayor

Perhaps no single designer has done more for the conflation of urban fashion and designer brands than Daniel Day, aka Dapper Dan.

Since the infamous ‘cocaine ’80s,’ Dapper Dan has dressed everyone from Erik B. & Rakim, Mike Tyson, Big Daddy Kane, and the hustlers of uptown, operating from his appointment-only shop in Harlem on 125th street.

Dan’s reworking of designer brands with his own twist became known as “knockups” (as opposed to knockoffs) because the quality and look of the clothes had a precision and elegance that was as good, if not superior, to name brand labels.

When Day first emerged onto the scene, designer brands continuously tried to hit him with lawsuits and close down his shop, eventually successfully. Now, he’s getting the recognition he’s always deserved.

Dapper Dan came back into headlines last summer when Gucci creative director Alesandro Michele released a jacket that mirrored a 1989 design Day had made for Olympic runner Diane Dixon. Michele said the jacket was an “homage” to Dapper Dan as a way of recognizing the Harlem fashion trailblazer.

Gucci went further, giving Dan his own shop on Lenox avenue in Harlem, the first designer brick and mortar store in Harlem. Gucci will supply the fabrics and take care of the logistics for Dap to work up his designs. But not just anyone can walk in and get dressed by the man known as Dap, it’s appointment only.

Dap sat down with GQ Style recently to talk about Harlem fashion, finally getting the recognition he deserves, and ‘Africanizing’ European labels.

One of the best tidbits from a truly amazing interview is a story of Dap being busted by now Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and how she actually inspired Dap to keep pushing.

Throughout the ’80s, high fashion brands and their lawyers repeatedly tried halting Dapper Dan’s Harlem work. His knockups had become hot commodities for athletes, and celebrities, and designers were not thrilled.

It wasn’t until an infamous altercation between Mike Tyson and Mitch “Blood” Green in 1988 officially landed Dap in hot water and forced him to eventually shutter in 1992. But one particular visit from then lawyer Sonia Sotomayor caught Dap’s attention.

He told GQ Style:

“[Sotamayor] was the one I respected the most. Because an odd thing happened. MCM came in at the same time, but they didn’t have a court order for seizure. They wanted to seize things, and she told them, ‘No, you can’t do that.’ And I wasn’t aware of that.”

But beyond giving him some helpful legal advice, Sotomayor told Dap that his clothes belonged in high fashion boutiques:

“She was very cordial, and one of the things that she said that made me remember her so well—I had Big Daddy Kane’s coat there; it was a full-length black-on-black plongé leather MCM with a shawl, black Glamour Mink collar—a really classy piece. And she looked at that and said, ‘Wow, this guy really belongs downtown.’ So my first big raid was my first big compliment.”

And the similarities between Dap and Sotomayor are not lost on the man known for his knockups. Sotomayor hails from The Bronx, Dap is from Harlem, and they’ve both maneuvered out of their circumstances to rise to the top of their fields:

“The parallels [between Dap and Sotamayor] are amazing because she came out of the projects, you know, from very humble beginnings. From the Soundview section of the Bronx. And that’s a real rough neighborhood, you know? She came from out of there, I came from humble beginnings, and our paths crossed and then she went on and did really good for herself. Took me a little longer, though. [laughs] I took a longer road.”

Just a couple of Uptown legends.

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal Football Club, and falling out of love

I’m not really sure when I became an Arsenal fan.

I know in 1998 I rooted for The Netherlands because of the legendary Dennis Bergkamp, watching his goal against Argentina in the World Cup on loop from a VHS of the game (I had a damn VHS of a soccer game, what a time).

I know I grew up down the street from a Tottenham Hotspur fan and that I very much disliked both him and his team. I know that Thierry Henry is my favorite player in any sport. I know that as a kid, the soccer of Arsene Wenger’s team was the most enthralling thing I’d ever seen, maybe besides a Michael Jordan fadeaway.

I know that I had gold Pumas like Robert Pires. I know that I’ve loved The Arsenal since I’ve understood the concept of sports fandom, despite the fact that I’ve never been to a game, hell, I’ve never even been to England.

Now, Arsenal’s recent disastrous form has me turning into the worst of Arsenal FanTV. I’ve turned on a man in Arsene Wenger that I regard as an icon, both as a soccer manager and a person. So how the hell did it get to this point?

In 2003-2004, the infamous Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ became the first ever team to finish an English Premier League season unbeaten. Arsene Wenger’s squad tore their opponents apart through a combination of unprecedented attacking fluidity and austere solidity in defense.

The Invincibles are perhaps the greatest team England has ever seen. I mean, the starting 11 is ridiculous: Henry and Bergkamp up top, Pires and Freddie Ljungberg patrolling the wings, Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva in midfield, and a backline of Ashley Cole, Kolo Toure, Sol Campbell, Lauren, and Jens Lehman.

Then came the barren years. Arsenal moved from beloved Highbury to the more cosmopolitan Emirates Stadium in 2006 and Wenger was tasked with keeping the club competitive despite selling off their best players to help finance their stadium move (imagine a country that doesn’t make taxpayers foot the bill for billionaire’s stadiums!).

Thierry Henry left (to Barcelona in 2007), Ashely Cole left (Chelsea, 2006), Patrick Vieira left (Juventus, 2005), Pires left (Villareal, 2006), and Bergkamp retired (2006). Slowly but surely, the Invincibles were gone.

In their place were young, technically-gifted flair players like Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, and Robin Van Persie, and Alexander Hleb, all of whom would eventually leave for big money moves themselves.

During this period, Arsenal were wildly entertaining, maintaining their attacking penchant from the days of Henry and Bergkamp (if not slightly eclipsing it in pure aesthetic terms), but they lacked the grit, PASHUN, or whatever sacred intangible that allows sports teams to be successful.

From 2004-2005 to 2013-2014, Arsenal won zero trophies. They were always incredibly fun to watch (although 4-4 draws aren’t exactly fun), but the lack of silverware during this decade saw the beginning of the ‘Wenger Out’ movement.

Despite the fact that Wenger had led The Arsenal to an unbeaten season, ushered in a new era in a beautiful modern stadium, turned down offers from clubs like Real Madrid, and established Arsenal as a European power, some fans thought his time was coming to an end.

Arsenal fans were put into two sections: the ‘Wenger Out Brigade’ (WOB) and ‘Arsene Knows Brigade’ (AKB). WOBs are characterized by voting Brexit, making some weird comment about Wenger’s Frenchness, and being upset at the small amount of English players at the club.

AKBs respect Arsene far too much to criticize the man that changed Arsenal football club, love how he has represented the club as a man over the years, and are perhaps the more cosmopolitan sect of fans. Arsenal Twitter became class warfare.

In the summer of 2013-2014, fresh off his first trophy in a decade after winning the FA Cup, Arsene Wenger had the option to ride off into the sunset with his head held high, let someone else take up the baton, and lead Arsenal into a new era.

After years of penny-pinching, the club was finally in a good place financially, able to spend money on world class players like Mesut Ozil (summer 2013) and Alexis Sanchez (summer 2014).

Wenger chose to stay on. He won the FA Cup again the next year. Then, last summer, after winning the FA Cup again, Wenger put pen to paper on another 2-year contract extension.

Last summer would have once again been an ideal time to leave, this time because it was clear that Arsenal’s levels had severely dropped after failing to qualify for the Champions League and finishing below Tottenham for the first time in Wenger’s tenure.

Now, Arsenal have stumbled to four straight defeats, including consecutive 3-0 drubbings against league leaders Manchester City. Arsenal have lost more games than any team in the Premier League since the turn of the year.

They have conceded 41 goals, only 2 more than last-placed West Bromwich Albion. Arsenal’s most recent defeat was to Brighton Hove & Albion, you don’t even really need to know anything about English soccer to know that losing to Brighton Hove & Albion is bad.

I didn’t watch the Brighton match. I slept instead. As an American soccer fan, most of my weekends hinge on the decision on whether to sleep or get up to watch soccer, recently I’ve decided against the viewing option more and more.

And yes, I realize it’s hyperbolically self-important to assert that somehow the situation at Arsenal is different now because I don’t want to wake up to watch Arsenal games, but judging from the turnout at the Emirates last Thursday for the Manchester City match, I’m not the only one.

Arsenal are now closer to the relegation zone than 1st-place City, out of the FA Cup, 13 points off their bitter rivals Tottenham, with only the bootleg-ass Europa League to play for.

It’s gotten so bad that captain Laurent Koscielny was reportedly brought to tears in a team meeting.

There are growing rumors that Arsene Wenger will be fired if Arsenal fail to reach the Champions League. Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s son Josh has apparently moved to London to closer supervise the goings on at the club.

Various backroom appointments have been made to curtail Wenger’s power at the club. All signs are pointing to the fact that Wenger’s time with Arsenal is coming to an end.

Names like Germany coach Joachim Low, Man City assistant and former Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta, Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim, and Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers (keep the BRODGE out of my club, please) have reportedly been lined up to usurp Wenger.

I suppose this news is exciting. It’s beyond fucking clear to anyone watching that something is deeply wrong at Arsenal. The players look like 11 lost individuals who have never met each other, unable to attack or defend, prone to brutal mistakes, and completely bereft of confidence.

What makes the whole thing worse is that in many ways Arsene Wenger is the man that helped me fall in love with soccer. He changed the way the game was played, how athletes prepared, and is credited with helping banish racism from the game.

Wenger is an incredibly well-spoken and fascinating individual, often comparing soccer to art, and speaking out about progressive politics. He’s a rarity in high level competitive sports.

But, at this point, there’s nothing more to say than utter those all-too-Brexity words: Wenger Out.

One-handed Shaquem Griffin goes off at NFL combine, inspires the hell out of us

Shaquem Griffin, whose left hand was amputated when he was 4-years-old because of complications due to a rare birth defect called amniotic band syndrome, absolutely dominated the NFL combine this weekend and I’m now ready to run through a brick wall for Shaquem.

His 40-yard dash time of 4.38 was the fastest for a linebacker since 2006, dude was flying.

Griffin’s 40 time absolutely blew the rest of his linebacker competition out of the water. But the wildest part about his sprint might just be that Shaquem’s 4.38 is the exact same time his twin brother Shaquill, a cornerback for the Seahawks, ran last year.

Before his record-setting 40, Shaquem put up 20 reps on the bench… with one hand. He used a prosthetic attachment to help him grip the bench in one of the wildest images from this weekend’s combine.

Griffin told NFL Network afterwards that he was extremely jacked up as soon as he realized how close he was to 20:

“My adrenaline was going through the roof. I ain’t feel like I needed to stop. As soon as I heard 16, I was like ‘Oh yeah, I’m going for 20.’ A lot of people didn’t think I was going to be able to do the bench press.”

Griffin was also motivated (as always) by his doubters. Apparently one anonymous NFL general manager said that he’d be impressed if Griffin got 5 reps up on the bench. About that…

Obviously NFL Twitter blew up after Griffin’s combine.

Griffin has shown time and time again that he isn’t going to let his physical limitations keep him from realizing his dreams.

Coming out of high school, Griffin was sparsely recruited, only getting 3 scholarship offers before ending up at the University of Central Florida. All he did was dominate the collegiate ranks to become 2016 AAC Defensive Player of the Year, 2017 Second-Team All-American, and is now well on his way to an NFL roster.

While 40-yard dashes and bench press reps are not necessarily good barometers of a successful NFL career, Shaquem Griffin has repeatedly proved detractors wrong at every step of his life. I know I’m not betting against this guy.

The NFL has been pretty short on positive stories in the last 5 years or so. Shaquem Griffin’s combine is some truly wholesome stuff. Dude is an inspiration.

MIT study proves driving for Uber and Lyft is trash, will only make you $3.37 an hour

A new MIT CEEPR study has looked at the profitability of Uber and Lyft drivers, finding that wages for employees are “very low,” with an hourly average income of $3.37.

While this particular study focuses on Uber and Lyft, it’s more representative of a general examination of the gig economy, which has come under fire as it becomes more prominent in America.

Regardless, the MIT study, titled The Economics of Ride-Hailing: Driver Revenue, Expenses and Taxes, broke down the financial conditions of Uber and Lyft drivers. The results are… pretty bad:

“Results show that per hour worked, median profit from driving is $3.37/hour before taxes, and 74% of drivers earn less than the minimum wage in their state. 30% of drivers are actually losing money once vehicle expenses are included. On a per-mile basis, median gross driver revenue is $0.59/mile but vehicle operating expenses reduce real driver profit to a median of $0.29/mile. For tax purposes the $0.54/mile standard mileage deduction in 2016 means that nearly half of drivers can declare a loss on their taxes.”

Not only are 74% making LESS THAN MINIMUM WAGE, but a large section of Lyft and Uber drivers are losing money:

“Results indicate that profit from ride-hail driving are very low. A Median driver generates $0.59 per mile of driving, and incurs costs of $0.30 per mile. 30% of drivers incur expenses exceeding their revenue, or lose money for every mile they drive.”

Further, mean profit for these drivers is $661/month with a median of $310. Yikes.

The study explained how they aggregated the financial data from over 1,000 drivers:

“We combine the selfreported revenue, mileage and vehicle choices from over 1,100 Uber and Lyft drivers with detailed vehicle operational cost parameters for insurance, maintenance, repairs, fuel and depreciation, using a combination of estimates from Edmunds and data from the U.S. EPA and Kelly Blue Book.”

Tech Crunch spoke to Mark Tluszcz, co-founder and CEO of Mangrove Capital Partners, about what we can take away from the study. Tluszcz told Tech Crunch the study “tells us that [Uber and Lyft are] a shitty place to work.”

Tluszcz went on to say that for Uber and Lyft, this model is clearly very attractive and profitable, for their employees, however, not so much.

The VC firm head addressed conditions for ride-hailing drivers:

“These people have to spend so much time to cover their costs when you break it down to an hourly revenue, it’s a pitiful amount. And by the way you have no social coverage because you’ve got to take care of that yourself.”

Uber and Lyft have advertised themselves as attractive options for anyone looking to make some extra income. This is the template of the gig economy, where independent contractors work short-term jobs with massive turnover.

An Intuit study forecasted that 40% of American workers would work gig economy jobs by 2020. If the most recent MIT CEEPR report is any indication, this might not be a great thing.

If you’re looking to make some quick bread, ride-hailing doesn’t seem like the best move.

Best new tracks of the week: Swae Lee, Skepta, Soccer Mommy, & more

Every Friday, we gather together the best new tracks of the week for your listening pleasure.

This week saw some star-studded singles off upcoming albums, some intriguing debuts in the form of Soccer Mommy and DJ Taye, and some overall cool shit.

Here are the best songs of the week, according to me.

Swae Lee – “Hurt To Look” (ft. Rae Sremmurd)

Rae Sremmurd, the Tupelo, Mississippi brothers who have lit the hip-hop world up with their party anthems, released a grip of tracks this week off their upcoming triple album.

This solo effort from Swae Lee sees him dipping his toe into a more groovy, soulful R&B sound. It’s fire.

Skepta – “Look Alive” Remix ft. Suspect

Skepta, fresh off his wild British GQ cover with Naomi Campbell, dropped a remix to Blocboy JB and Drake’s “Look Alive”. It might just be better than the original.

Skepta is a real problem in the game right now.

Moby – “The Ceremony Of Innocence”

Electronic gawd Moby released his 15th (!) album today, Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt. It’s a whole bunch of ambient, muted, soul-crushing music. Moby is a genius.

A$AP Ferg – “Kristi YamaGucci” (ft. Denzel Curry & IDK)

Ferg, who is very quietly one of NYC’s best MCs, enlists upcoming rappers IDK and Denzel Curry for this banger.

The track kicked off Ferg’s Mad Man Tour last Wednesday, opened by… IDK and Denzel Curry.

Soccer Mommy – “Cool”

Soccer Mommy, aka Sophie Allison, released her debut album today and it’s some wildly impressive indie rock music.

On “Cool”, Allison bemoans another girl who makes life seem easy and how she just wants to be that cool. Listen to Soccer Mommy.

Smokepurpp – “123”

One of South Florida’s most intriguing hip-hop talents, Smokepurpp, has seemingly not stopped working since his debut mixtape Deadstar last year.

The latest, with Murda Beatz, is hot.

DJ Taye – “Smokeout”

DJ Taye is a young Chicago footwork artists on the come up. Signed to Teklife, a Chicago record label dedicated to the genre made famous by the late great DJ Rashad, Taye’s debut album is a study in modern footwork.

Shit is fun as hell. It’s as easy and smooth of an introduction to the world of footwork as there is.

The Lovely Eggs – “I Shouldn’t Have Said That”

The Lovely Eggs, the two-piece psychedelic rock band from Lancaster, United Kingdom, have a bizarre, sludgy, badass, kind of goofy sound on their most recent album This Is Eggland.

It’s pretty weird, but these two can rock.

Chief Keef – “Tats”

Today, Chief Keef, the patron saint of drill music, released The Leek 4, a collection of tracks recorded back in 2013 when Keef burst onto the scene with an unparalleled urgency.

It’s great to go back in time to Keef’s origins. This dude has an endless amount of music.

Diplo – “Worry No More” (ft. Lil Yachty, Santigold)

Diplo dropped another single off his upcoming California EP. This time, Diplo tapped up Lil Yachty and Santigold for a fun, feel-good track.

Diplo definitely keeps looking for new sounds to craft his brand of dance music. California will be interesting one way or another.

Other shit

Been listening to a lot of UGK recently, especially Ridin’ Dirty, the 1994 album that brought the H-town duo into the spotlight.

Is there anything better than Pimp C’s opening bars on “Murder”? No, no there is not.

Dirty Projectors Bitte Orca remains a truly great album to do menial tasks to.

Happy Friday.

Debate over Lamar Jackson brings up same old tropes about Black quarterbacks

The issue of Lamar Jackson, University of Louisville quarterback and 2016 Heisman winner, has caused everyone around the NFL to lose their shit.

Lamar Jackson was an amazing college quarterback. He’s one of the best athletes in the upcoming draft. But NFL talent evaluators are seemingly trying to find every possible excuse to not take this dude seriously as a quarterback.

Former Colts general manager and current ESPN talking head Bill Polian said Jackson doesn’t stack up favorably to the other top quarterbacks in the draft this season. According to Polian, Jackson doesn’t have the GIRTH of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, or Josh Rosen. In fact, Polian thinks Jackson is a wide receiver:

“I don’t think that Lamar, the Louisville kid’s in that discussion, in fact there’s a question that he may be, he might be a receiver… No, I’m not kidding you. And that has to do with girth and skill set as well.”

GIRTH, folks. Ya gotta have GIRTH to play the quarterback position in the NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE. Everyone knows this.

The issue here is that Lamar Jackson measures up pretty favorably to other top-level quarterbacks. He’s not a huge dude, but at 6’3″ and 216 pounds, he ain’t no tweener.

In typical weird-ass NFL combine style, people started bringing out the Body Mass Indexes and comparing Jackson to his main competitors.

Mel Kiper, the draft guru with the worst hair of all-time, got caught when he claimed that “stats are for losers” in reference to Josh Allen’s completion percentage, then turned around and used Jackson’s college completion percentage (.8 decimal points higher than Allen’s) as a knock against the Louisville quarterback.

Now, with the NFL combine this weekend in Indianapolis, multiple teams have reportedly asked Lamar Jackson to take reps at wide receiver. This begs the question, why the hell would you ask a dude who threw for over 9,000 yards, had a 142.9 passer rating, and had a 69 (nice) to 27 touchdown to interception ratio during his college career? Not to mention, he won the damn Heisman Trophy.

When it comes to Black quarterbacks, we’ve seen this whole thing before…

Deion Sanders Jr. took issue with the various excuses NFL talking heads have offered up in their criticism of Jackson that just don’t add up.

Philadelphia Eagles lineman, Super Bowl champion, and resident woke white dude, Chris Long went on a long Twitter rant about the situation.

Look, no one really has any idea if Jackson will be any good in the NFL. No one knows if Allen, Rosen, or Darnold will be any good either. Therein lies the random, arbitrary nature of NFL prospect scouting.

But all these old tropes and codes about Jackson not “making reads,” not “having the size,” or being a “run first” quarterback are all so fucking familiar and dumb. To ignore the role that race plays in these evaluations is just disingenuous.

Ron Jaworski, who spends many important hours of his life obsessing over THE FILM, says Jackson is a star.

NBC NFL draft writer Josh Norris has a pretty awesome breakdown of Lamar Jackson tape.

The kid is wildly talented. He’s a quarterback. Trying to move him to wide receiver is very dumb and just plain ol’ racist.

I’m drafting Lamar Jackson every damn time.

Uber Health will let doctors send a whip to your crib and bring you to the hospital

Uber is launching a new service that will allow doctors and hospitals to call patients rides.

You may be thinking, “ok so Uber came up with the idea of ambulances,” and you’d be kind of right. But the new Uber Health dashboard is apparently very different than ambulances.

The Atlantic reported on the logistics of Uber Health:

“The new Uber Health dashboard, which has been tested by a beta group of about 100 hospitals and doctors’ offices since July, will allow medical and administrative staff to either call an Uber to the office to drive a specific patient home, or to dispatch an Uber to the patient’s house, with the option to schedule it up to 30 days in advance. The patient need not have the Uber app or even a working smartphone: The dashboard comes with a printable sheet allowing a doctor to circle the incoming Uber’s car color and write down the license plate.”

Uber is trying to solve a problem, apparently missed doctors’ appointments cost around $150 billion each year and that 3.6 million Americans miss appointments because of transportation issues.

The Atlantic reported that Uber Health is used for patients without serious health issues and catered more for routine check-ups. If a patient has a serious medical condition, it’s probably better to call an ambulance.

“Many doctors call cabs for their patients, but Uber is available in about 250 U.S. cities and is sometimes cheaper than a metered taxi. Holley says that it would be up to doctors to determine if a patient was well enough to take an Uber, rather than an ambulance, and that if something happened to the patient in transit, the Uber driver should just call 911.”

It’s unclear how successful this will be. Uber Health seems most appropriate for older people with a lot of appointments, but have you ever tried to get your grandparents to use Uber? Yeah, not great.