After going nearly all of 2021 without a project, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie arrived in the final month of 2021 with B4 AVA. The 7-track project featured one guest appearance, which was from Lil Durk through their “24 Hours” collaboration. That project arrived as the follow-up to his 2020 album Artist 2.0, and just a few months after the release of B4 AVA, A Boogie is back with a new song and it’s one that features HER beside him.
Together, A Boogie and HER unite for “Playa.” It’s a warm record that sees both acts navigating through the difficulties of a relationship. A Boogie commits to being serious about his lover, adding that he no longer wants to be a “playa.” In the song’s second verse, HER plays the role of A Boogie’s skeptical companion who doesn’t believe his words just yet. Instead, she’ll wait for his actions to prove that he’s truly serious about the relationship.
The track marks the second time that A Boogie and HER have worked together. The first time came in early 2020 through a performance of “Me And My Guitar” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The late-night appearance came after Artist 2.0debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.
You can listen to “Playa” in the video above.
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
Gucci Mane, Young Dolph, and Key Glock all had productive years in 2021. Gucci dropped his Ice Daddy, So Icy Boyz, and So Icy Christmas projects. Young Dolph and Key Glock reunited for Dum And Dummer 2 and Dolph dropped Paper Route Illuminati with his Paper Route crew. Glock also gave the world Yellow Tape 2 to close out 2021. This year was set to be a busy year for the trio, but that’s unfortunately and sadly not the case for Dolph as he was tragically shot and killed last November. Thankfully for those who are fans of Dolph, we’ve received a new posthumous verse from him thanks to a track with Gucci Mane and Key Glock.
The trio unites for “Blood All On It,” and it’s quite the heinous track as it finds the rappers doing their best to keep their hands clean after their evildoings. The track even arrives with a music video that sees appearances from Gucci, Key Glock, and Dolph. While Gucci and Dolph rap together on a tarmac near planes and luxury cars, Dolph finds himself inside an aircraft accompanied by quite the collection of hundred-dollar bills.
The song extends an active year that both Gucci Mane and Key Glock have had. Gucci kicked things off by connecting with Lil Durk for “Rumors.” He followed that up with “Publicity Stunt,” a record he used to respond to some disses from NBA Youngboy. Key Glock, on the other hand, is a week removed from releasing the deluxe version of Yellow Tape 2.
You can check out “Blood All On It” in the video above.
Gucci Mane is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.
At long last, the City Girls are back in action. It’s been nearly a year since the duo that’s comprised of JT and Yung Miami dropped a record, with that being 2021’s TikTok viral track, “Twerkulator.” Some hoped that the track would lead to City Girls’ fourth album and follow-up to 2020’s City On Lock, but unfortunately, that has not arrived yet. It appears that it could change today and City Girls return with “Top Notch” and it features a guest appearance from Fivio Foreign.
Their new track arrives with a video that sees JT, Yung Miami, and Fivio enjoying themselves on the street corners of New York. It’s quite possible that “Top Notch” is the first sign that City Girls’ fourth album will arrive sooner than later. If that’s the case, the hope is that the project will have a much smoother release than their 2020 album City On Lock. That album was prematurely leaked and it forced the duo to release it earlier than they would’ve liked in order to make the best out of the situation.
As for Fivio Foreign, he’s a week away from finally releasing his debut album B.I.B.L.E. The project arrives after a big 2021 year that was highlighted by his standout verse on “Off The Grid” from Kanye West’s Donda. So far, B.I.B.L.E. has been led by two singles: “City Of Gods” with Kanye West and Alicia Keys and “Magic City” with Quavo.
Freddie Gibbs has tapped Rick Ross for a guest appearance on his latest single, “Ice Cream.” In and out like a flash in two minutes, Gibbs and Ross don’t hold back on the track, and especially not in the video, where Gibbs rides in the back of an ice cream truck, booty slapping twerking ladies and smoking a blunt like it’s going out of style. Ross is decked out in all red with layers of gold chains, rapping in a white room that’s snowing. What a drip.
Produced by Kenny Beats, the beat is a trippy flip of Raekwon’s classic 1995 cut of the same name off of the seminal album, Only Built For Cuban Linx. Back then, the RZA sampled and twisted Earl Klugh’s 1980 joint, “A Time For Love,” and wove it into one of the most iconic beats in the Wu-Tang canon for Raekwon, Method Man, and Cappadonna to flow over. Kenny Beats’ homage is subtle, but once you hear it, it’s a worthy nod to the classic. And as the track comes to a close, the melody is more noticeable.
Nobody really knows why we celebrate April Fools’ Day on the first day of April. Some people believe that it goes back all the way to the Roman Empire when they celebrated Hilaria, a festival of merriment where people dressed up in disguise.
Others say that it began in 1583 in France when the country switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent. Folks who were slow on the uptake and didn’t realize that the calendar had moved to January 1 became the butt of jokes and pranks.
Regardless, this is your reminder that on April 1, 2022, you should be prepared to prank some people or at least be aware that it’s April Fools’ Day so you can avoid being the victim of someone else’s tomfoolery.
A Reddit user who goes by the name Never–Mind asked the online forum to share their favorite April Fools’ Day pranks and they got a ton of great responses. “Since April Fools day is fast approaching, what have been some of your best April Fool pranks?” they asked.
The great thing is that most of them are really easy to pull off. When it comes to pranks, simple is usually best. Simple pranks are harder to detect and easier to accomplish without getting caught.
Here are 17 of the best responses to the r/AskReddit question.
“There are 4 doors to our building and my co-worker put a sign on each one that says ‘Door broken use other door’ with an arrow pointing left.” — Proud Turtle.
“Piece of opaque tape over the laser on everyone’s mouse. IT was pretty pissed, I need to take that one to the grave with me.” — [deleted]
“I work in Sales, and it seems like we always have a new guy around April. I like to write down on a post-it ‘Please follow up with Mr. Baer at…’ and then the number for the San Francisco zoo.” — mismistu
“Here’s mine for this year. I hope it works. I recently purchased an espresso machine that leaves me with little hard pucks of compressed coffee grounds. I intend on covering them in frosting and leaving them on the break room table at work. Muhaha.” — FuzzyManPeach
“A greek radio station once said on the news that Greece would quit the euro and go back to their old currency (this was before the whole economy crisis there). The Greek stock market had a crazy and troubled morning until they finally got that it was only an April Fools Joke.” — isablaubear
“High school summer, my friend had a habit of getting up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. I dropped by his place and his mom informed me that he was still sleeping and I should go wake him up. He’s a really heavy sleeper so I decided to have a little fun. I moved his cell phone into the center of the floor, about 4 feet from his bed. I crawled under the bed and gave him a call. No response. Called again and I finally heard movement. Hand comes down, can’t quite reach the phone. Foot comes down, another foot. He’s got the phone sitting down on the edge of the bed.
A very groggy, ‘..hey, what’s up man.. what are you up to?’ I pull off the best freddy kreuger voice I can muster, and yell out, “I’M UNDER THE BED” and grab his ankles with a vice grip. He jumps halfway across the room, nearly faceplants since I have his feet. He kicks my hands away and half scamper/crawls across the room until he realizes what happened. There was lots of swearing, he didn’t think it was as funny as I did.” — JMace
“I’m a female kindergarten teacher. I wore a mustache all day long and pretended it wasn’t there…even with the parents. Everyone got a kick out of it except for one student who cried because ‘I looked scary.'” — HotTamalesYum
“One April 1st I got up before my wife. I went to the kitchen to get some water. I opened the curtains to see that our neighbour’s house, across the lane, was on fire. I ran to the bedroom and told my wife. She opened one eye and said, “Sure, sure. Ha ha.” She got up seconds later when she could hear the fire trucks. Every April 1st, as a joke, I tell her the same thing.” — windy496
“It wasn’t mine, but it was my mother’s. I was six years old and one day she gave my daily cereal, which was cheerios, in milk. But today it was different. The milk was a teal blue, and luckily my six-year-old self seemed to notice. I asked ‘Mommy what’s wrong with the milk?’ She said ‘oh nothing a blue cow just made it.’ And I was more excited than terrified and ate it all up. I told all the kids at school I ate a blue cow’s milk and they were all jealous as fuuuuuck. it wasn’t until later I realized it was dyed, and I felt like a fraud for telling all my friends I ate a blue cow.” — randomfactgirl
“Last year I posted on Craigslist under the personals section, listing wfm. Googled “selfie” and found some hot girl and used that on the post. Pretended I had just moved to town, and was looking for a good time around town, and someone who knew how to show a girl a good time. I posted my friend Victor’s cell number and said the girl’s name was Victoria and went by Vic. I specified at the end of the post that ‘I’m kinda picky though, so send me a pic if you think you’ve got the goods, and you may get one back ;)’
Anyway, this was 1 am on 4/1. By 3 am his girlfriend was waking him up saying “someone’s blowing up your phone” Vic -“hand it to me.” She picks it up, only to see a dick pick that says “hey Vic, here’s mine, send me yours.” Oh and over 50 more dick shots. By the time he came into work his phone had died twice, and he had over 500 dic pictures sent to him. I deleted the post, told him it was me and we had a good laugh. Still, one of my favorite stories to tell, though I still work with him and I’m scared for this year.” — SopwithStrutter
“I replaced a picture of one of my friend’s family members with a black and white picture of Boris Johnson.” — RugbyTime
“In 3rd grade, the teacher walks into the room with a pissed look. She says the tests from yesterday were horrible and starts telling everyone’s super-low grades out loud. She goes on to give us all a piece of paper, saying we are having another test right now. She then proceeds to write the instructions on the board: April’s Fool. Super scary moment for me. A girl cried.” — Shroomsters
“At the office, fill a bowl with trail mix, but remove all M&M’s and replace with Skittles.” — cgrant993
“Not necessarily done on April’s fool, more like random days throughout the year. One day for uni we went on a bus trip to go check out the cadavers at another uni. Our lecturer was going to meet us down there, so I took this opportunity to buy him a singing Disney Princess birthday card, I got everyone on the bus to sign it and told them all it was his birthday, which of course it wasn’t but no one clicked that I was joking, I mean I had been in class with these people for 2 years and if they hadn’t figured out I was a smartass, they’re not fit and observant enough to be doctors. So I had convinced the class to sing him happy birthday once we got off the bus, which has started a new tradition. Randomly over time with we’d try top that. I once bought him a cake, streamers, banner, hats and party blowers and got my whole year level to barge into one of his classes and sing happy birthday. Everytime he posts a serious post on the Facebook Page for new students, I always post ‘happy birthday scott.'” — scottydoeskno
“A few years ago I bought 200 packets of mayonnaise and hid them all over my boyfriend at the time’s room. I tucked them in the pockets of all his clothes, in his board games, behind his wall art- anywhere you could think of there was mayonnaise. He was still finding mayo a couple years later.” — AimeeSaysGrowl
“When I was fourteen I came inside and found my parents sitting solemn and serious in the living room. They had me sit down and told me that I was adopted. I was devastated to hear such a thing, and my dad told me how my birth parents had to send me to the United States because it was practically the end of the world for them. They couldn’t get away, and so i was smuggled into the US and adopted. Now the time had come for me to know the truth, to inherit the items my birth parents had sent with me, to begin my journey to learn who I really was, and to take on my destiny. . . As the last son of Krypton.” — [Deleted]
“I told my friend I was pregnant as a prank and he offered to marry me and raise the baby together…it didn’t feel like a prank anymore.” — TheSilverLinings
How great is Australia? A relaxed cultural vibe that is progressive, inclusive and seems like a literal day at the beach. They even give us some of our favorite Marvel superhero film actors. Must be tough to make a buck there though, right? Actually, they’ve got a significant edge on us there as well. Take a look at Australian’s minimum wage and how much further it goes for the average worker than for your typical hard-working American.
Australian unions are currently pushing for a 5% increase to the minimum wage to counter inflation. Australia’s minimum wage is 20.33 Australian dollars per hour, which is the equivalent of $15.23 (as of the writing of this article).
Meanwhile, Americans are still sitting on the same federal minimum wage we’ve had since 2009—a whopping $7.25 an hour—while we are also dealing with inflation.
Minimum wage by U.S. state varies—a lot—from $7.25 to $15.90. And most states have different minimum wages for tipped jobs such as wait staff in a restaurant, on the assumption that you’ll earn enough tips to make up the base wage. Though employers can choose to pay above the minimum, they aren’t required to. And the minimum tipped wage in 17 states is $2.13 per hour.
Let me repeat that. In 17 states in the United States of America in 2022, the tipped minimum wage is $2.13 per hour.
That’s bonkers. And the disparity between states is, frankly, shocking. If you live in Washington state, for example, you’re guaranteed to make at least $14.49 per hour in any job, whether you get tips or not. If you live in Idaho—literally the state next door—you’re guaranteed $7.25 per hour for standard labor and just $3.35 per hour for tipped employment. So the base pay for a waiter on one side of an imaginary line is four times more than on the other. So weird.
Anyway, back to Australia. They’re a little worried about us, and it’s not hard to see why.
A 16-year-old Australian on Reddit was shocked to learn that the federal minimum wage here is $7.25 per hour. “There is no way someone can live off that wage even if they’re working full time.” Yep, nope.
Another Aussie responded to a sign for Buc-ee’s, a chain of country stores and travel centers in the southern United States, announcing wages for full-time work ranging from $15 to $17 per hour for associates to $22 to $32 per hour for department leads. To American eyes, in most states, this sign is a unicorn of awesome hourly starting wages for “unskilled” labor.
To Australian eyes, these are the lowest wages they ever see in their country.
This is what I canu2019t wrap my head around. In Australia, I work at a shop assistant level, I make $27.91 per hour. I donu2019t have a degree and I barely graduated high school. Yet in America people are busting their ass for $9/ hour. Absolutely disgusting that itu2019s even allowed.
Despite Australia having a minimum wage of AU$20.33 ($15.23), most workers actually make more than that. In addition to its minimum wage, Australia has a system under its Fair Work Act called Modern Awards, which establishes base pay and benefits for workers in a variety of industries, from fast food to health and beauty to caregiving.
One caveat: Workers under age 21 can make less than minimum wage in Australia, so teenagers may make significantly lower wages than AU$20.33 per hour (though still not as low as $7.25 per hour). However, the Modern Awards system dictates higher than minimum wage earnings for most workers—even for basic fast-food jobs—for people over 21. For example, the starting pay for a Level 1 fast-food worker over age 21 is AU$22.33 ($16.72) per hour during the week, AU$27.91 ($20.90) per hour on Saturdays and Sundays, and AU$50.24 ($37.63) per hour on holidays.
Not too shabby.
Another Australian pointed out that the amount some Americans pay for a college education is bonkers, in addition to our low minimum wage.
Iu2019m in Australia, we accrue a u201cHECSdebtu201d that we pay off gradually once we earn above a certain pay bracket. Also we have higher minimum wage due to a strong union foundation. Even as a casual MH support worker I make $40/hour (no degree needed)
But don’t Australians pay a much higher tax rate than Americans for these benefits, you may ask? No, not really. According to the Tax Foundation, a single worker earning an average wage in the U.S. pays an average tax rate of 28.3% while in Australia they pay an average of 28.4%—so basically the same tax burden, at least for single people with no kids.
It’s not that Australia is perfect, of course. But when it comes to paying people reasonable wages and guaranteeing paid time off and providing healthcare to all, they’re light years ahead of the U.S.
Rather than seeing it as a woe-is-us comparison, however, let’s look at it as “Hey, look at what’s possible!” We, too, could have wages people can actually live on and not go into bankruptcy over medical bills and ensure that everyone gets paid time off so they can actually relax a little. It doesn’t have to be some distant pipe dream; it’s a matter of collective and political will. If Australia can do it, there’s really no good reason we can’t, too.
(SPOILERS for this week’s Atlanta will be found below.)
In this week’s Atlanta episode, “The Old Man And The Tree,” the quartet that consists of Earn, Alfred aka Paper Boi, Darius, and Vanessa are finally together as one unit for the first time so far this season. The group is currently in London as a part of Paper Boi’s European tour. While Darius tags along as a friend, Earn is with them as he plays the role of Paper Boi’s manager. As for Vanessa, who was previously in a relationship with Earn and shares a child with him, she hopes to rediscover herself during the trip after failing to land a dream job.
In “The Old Man And The Tree,” Earn, Alfred (aka “Paper Boi”), Darius, and Vanessa stop by a house party that’s hosted by a wealthy investor named Will. Keeping in mind that this is an episode of Atlanta, you can expect that this night will be anything but normal as the group steps into the party. Over the course of the night, Earn is pressured into backing a not-so-talented artist; Darius is surrounded by an overwhelming amount of white guilt; Paper Boi loses $40,000 and nearly cuts down a tree; and Vanessa cause some chaos of her own, which is relatively small in comparison to everything else that goes on.
Here are some of the biggest questions we had after season three’s third episode.
Why Is Vanessa Pushing People Into A Pool And Stealing Art?
One might imagine that Vanessa feels a bit awkward hanging around the guys, but she’s doing somewhat okay so far. She and Earn, who have a daughter together, broke up towards the end of season two, and despite that, she’s around him more than ever thanks to Paper Boi’s tour. Upon entering the party, Vanessa snags a glass of champagne and wanders off on her own for the night. She accompanies Earn to look at some art by a not-so-talented young artist, but that’s after she steals a mini sculpture and before she pushes two fully-dressed people into a pool. When Earn inquires about the latter incident, she says it’s nothing more than her having a fun time at the party. However, Earn isn’t too convinced that things are well with Vanessa and he might have a good reason to think so.
What’s With All This White Guilt?
There’s a lot of white guilt in this episode. Take Socks’ excessive compassion towards Darius after his conversation with MK, where she incorrectly assumes that Darius is shooting his shot with her due to her experience with getting “hit on by Black men a lot” as a result of her time in Los Angeles where she says, “Black guys love Asian women.” Then there’s Socks’ decision to rally the troops and attack MK in Darius’ defense. Additionally, there’s Will’s insistence on generously supporting artists, like TJ, despite their questionable talents and his choice to call off his engagement with MK because “racialism drives me f*cking mad.” TJ later reveals that he’s taking full advantage of Will’s generousity and recommends that Earn do the same. The white people at the party have this excessively overflowing sympathy for the racism and disadvantages that Black people face. However, attacking a woman for her admittedly stereotype-driven, yet harmless comments, calling off an engagement with her, and investing $500,000 in a questionable project, leaves you to simply ask: “Why?”
Is This The End Of Darius And MK?
Aside from MK’s odd comments, she and Darius seemed to click well during their first conversation. At first, it seemed like their interaction would be their first and last one as MK reveals that she’s engaged to Will. However, after Will hears about what MK said to Darius, he breaks off the engagement in another example of over-the-top white guilt. When things go left for Paper Boi and Earn at the party, they rally the troops and run out of the party where we see MK sitting outside and crying. Darius tries to go over and comfort her, but he’s pulled away as the group needs to escape from the party due to some damage they’ve caused there. Theoretically, it would be on-brand for Darius to go on some dramatic and overzealous search to find MK again, so it would be no surprise if they reconnect later on in the season. There’s also the chance that it could all be forgotten the following morning, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
How Will Earn’s Business Venture With TJ and Will Pan Out?
Earn is not a fan of TJ’s art, but when he learns that the young artist is taking advantage of Will’s generosity, Earn decides to join in on the money-making opportunities. Earn pitches himself to be TJ’s manager, where he’ll take 25% of his profits (an amount he tricks Will into thinking is relatively miniscule). With the new deal in place, it leaves us to wonder if this will all work out. Will there ever be a point where Will catches on and realizes that he’s being ripped off? Or will he continue to be oblivious to it all? Furthermore, will Earn or TJ make any additional money from this and how long will this scheme last?
Will Paper Boi Get Ever The Money That Fernando Owes Him?
At the party, Paper Boi meets a man named Fernando, who introduces a very uninterested Paper Boi to his beloved tree. The two eventually decide to play a game of poker where the buy-in is $20,000. To his relief, Paper Boi wins the game, but not after enduring Fernando’s odd story about having a special interaction with a Black ghost that allegedly broke into his house. He expects to be paid $40,000 but Fernando runs off and disappears without paying him. After some failed attempts to play nice in order to get his money, Paper Boi decides to take a chainsaw to Fernando’s beloved tree. Paper Boi couldn’t have cared less for that tree, so it’s safe to say that the pursuit of his money is far from over. However, with an entire tour to continue, will Paper Boi have a chance to get his money back? And to what extent will go to get it?
Would You Save The Tree Or Lose $40,000?
You have to admit it: Fernando is not your average, stable, and typical rich guy. Or maybe he is, I’ll have to let you know when I get that kind of money and surround myself with the who’s who of some Forbes list. Anywho, Fernando owns a massive house that he seemingly lets anyone wander through and party in. He’s obsessed with a tree in his backyard and he admits to having a special interaction with a Black ghost. Despite his riches, he refuses to pay Paper Boi the money — $40,000 — he’s owed from winning the Poker game. Eventually, Paper Boi takes a chainsaw to his beloved tree in retailation and it leaves one to think: If he could go back, would Fernando pay up to save his tree or would he do the same thing again? Fernando is a rich man and $40,000 to him is probably equivalent to us paying our phone bills, so you would think that time he’d just fork over the cash. Then again, Fernando is also quite the eccentric man, so there may out-of-this-world reason he has for not paying up. Nonetheless, the tree did nothing to deserve this, and Fernando should be ashamed of himself.
The Philadelphia 76ers slipped back to fourth in the East on Thursday night with a rather hideous loss on the road to the Detroit Pistons. While Detroit has been feisty of late, led by Cade Cunningham starting to put the pieces together, it wasn’t a game the Sixers should be losing at full strength, particularly after taking a six-point lead in the fourth quarter.
On their way to the loss, the Sixers allowed a 23-2 fourth quarter run from Detroit, as the Pistons ran away with the game thanks to some dreadful offensive execution from Philadelphia. After a first half in which they dominated at the free throw line, the Sixers scored just 40 second half points including a 15-point fourth quarter, with James Harden once again struggling mightily from the field, going 4-of-15 from the floor for 18 points in the loss, as he simply didn’t give Joel Embiid (37 points and 15 rebounds) enough support.
There was plenty of discussion about the Sixers’ bench not providing enough, as they combined for eight points on 12 shots in the game, which was well below the Pistons’ bench effort of 39 points. However, after the game Doc Rivers wasn’t interested in shifting blame to his reserves and instead pointed to Harden’s struggles as being a much bigger issue, noting the bench didn’t have that many shot attempts.
Doc isn’t blaming the bench for the Sixers’ loss tonight.
These are certainly eyebrow raising comments with just six games remaining this season, and it’s clear Rivers is trying to get something more out of Harden as they get ready for the postseason. The question is whether Harden’s response will be what he’s seeking, or if this will only further the Sixers’ apparent chemistry issues heading into the playoffs.
We all knew a barbecue challenge would be coming eventually — this is Top Chef HOUSTON, after all. Five episodes in feels… tasteful. It’s like the producers didn’t want to seem too eager, but they didn’t want to drag it out too long and make it a whole thing either. This was the themed challenge equivalent of arriving fashionably late to a party. Nice.
So yeah, it was barbecue week on Top Chef, and in Texas, you know what barbecue means: brisket. Brisket makes a great subject for a barbecue challenge because it has probably the lowest floor and the highest ceiling of any barbecue meat. Bad brisket, which is easy to find, sucks. I’d rather eat an average hamburger than bad brisket. If I’m at a barbecue joint I’ve never been before with an unknown reputation, I’m ordering pork ribs over brisket every time. They’re just way harder to screw up. Here in Central California, I’m going for tri-tip, which takes about 20 minutes on a grill rather than a full day in a smoker and tastes consistently pretty damn good.
But a good brisket, long-cooked, perfectly seasoned, and juicier than my thighs after a brisk jog, is hard to beat. For this week’s elimination challenge, guest judge Brooke Williamson took the contestants on over to J-Bar-M to choose, trim, and season their meat. Which would then go in a J-Bar-M smoker for 12 hours. Their challenge would be to then incorporate that brisket into a dish, something that “flips the script on what barbecue can be,” to be judged by Greg Gatlin and 20 of Houston’s top pitmasters.
There were a couple interesting decisions here. Chief among them being to standardize and outsource the entire smoking process. On the one hand, that made it a lot easier for the contestants. On the other, this probably isn’t “true barbecue,” since all they had to do was trim, rub, and wait, letting someone else handle the fire. But true barbecue or not, it did save us all the time that would’ve inevitably been spent watching the contestants sweat over their coals and trying to keep the smoker going and blah blah blah. There are at least 10 barbecue shows covering this already, and honestly, zzzzzzzz.
Ditto having them make a brisket dish, rather than just serve a brisket. Barbecue judging is almost painfully codified and rigid these days, and if they’d made us sit through 25 minutes of sweaty guys in plaid shirts pontificating about smoke rings and tenderness tests I would’ve put a gun in my mouth and blown my brains all over the back wall of my TV room (too far? Fine, I may be exaggerating, SLIGHTLY).
Yet just when the contestants thought they could take a deep breath and settle in for a nice long chill sesh while the smoke did its thing, Brooke blew the Top Chef shofar, announcing a SURPRISE QUICKFIRE! This one was dedicated to Texas Toast. Texas Toast, as we were informed in Brooke’s important historical anecdote, is a Texas delicacy that, legend has it, was born when someone in Texas accidentally bought some big toast. “But… this toast is TOO BIG!” whined the small-minded.
That was when famous free spirit Augustus Toast piped up and said “Nay, the big toast is just right. Grill and serve it with Arby’s new Texas Beef and Cheddar with extra horsey sauce.”
Thus a legend was born, or something like that. Honestly, I spiced it up a little, because otherwise it was the world’s most banal origin story. “Someone bought some big toast one time and the rest is history.” Anyway, the chefs were tasked with serving up a bread-based appetizer. Was Carrie Baird not available to guest judge? It almost felt like they were going out of their way not to use the words “Fancy Toast.”
Anyway, if you’ve ever had bruschetta, pan con tomate, any kind of pintxo, or probably 20 other regional specialties (shrimp toast!), you know that bread-based appetizers have been a thing for a long time. Which is great. I watched this week’s episode right before mealtime and almost everything in it, from the bread-based apps to the brisket-ensconced mains, had me feeling hungry as hell. Easily the best food porn episode of the season.
The producers showed the briskets going in! Well done.
Quickfire Top: Nick*, Jo, Jackson.
Quickfire Bottom: Luke, Monique.
Elimination Top: Buddha, Evelyn*, Jackson.
Elimination Bottom: Monique, Ashleigh**, Jo.
10. (-3) ((Eliminated)) Ashleigh Shanti
AKA: Moon Juice.
This week, Ashleigh said she was anxious to finally “put myself on a plate.” DING DING DING! (That’s me ringing the “Top Chef cliché” bell).
For the Quickfire, Chef Ashleigh prepared a “Texas Toast pizza roll-up,” which looked like it involved toast that was rolled out with a rolling pin, rolled up like a taquito with some cheese, then deep fried and served over tomato sauce. Honestly, pure genius. The judges should’ve carried her out on their shoulders after that.
For her brisket, Chef Ashleigh dreamed up a “kitchen pepper” spiced brisket (kitchen pepper apparently being a Caribbean-influenced mixture of allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maybe some other stuff too) influenced by “chicken and slicks,” a variety of chicken and dumplings. Hers would include brisket and sweet potato slicks, served in a cream of collard soup. I’m an absolute piggy for chicken and dumplings and really dumplings in general (I actually have a unified theory of food that says that if you’re trying a new and unfamiliar cuisine, always order the dumplings, which almost always combine the best of that cuisine’s stock spices and are generally prepared lovingly by the elders of the kitchen), so everything about that sounded pretty good.
“Hard to eat,” raved the judges. “I can feel my arteries clogging,” said one of the pitmasters.
It’s generally a bad sign when a professional barbecue man with elaborately styled facial hair worries about the health of his arteries. Turns out Ashleigh compounded her mistake of underseasoning her brisket by serving said brisket in giant meaty chunks immersed in a creamy soup. Nobody wants to eat soup with a knife and fork. Is it soup? Is it sauce? Are you trying to choke Tom Colicchio? This is a dish fit for pelicans! Ashleigh’s UX designer is fired.
Putting yourself on a plate is all well and good, but maybe smaller chunks next time? It’s hard not to feel for Ashleigh here, spending a full day smoking brisket, preparing dumplings, creaming collards, etc. only to go home for the very simple-yet-obvious sin of not cutting the meat small enough.
9. (+1) Jo Chan
AKA: Sarge. Smiles.
Sarge opened this episode lamenting “I haven’t been able to really cook my food since I’ve been here.”
Chug your drink! Sheesh, the Top Chef cliché bell is really getting a workout this episode.
Sarge was actually sitting pretty after the quickfire, serving up a mushroom toast that landed her in the top three. She tends to thrive when she keeps it simple. Which is exactly what she didn’t do in the elimination challenge, serving up a confusing pappardelle in brisket melange. Did I see corn kernels in there? What the fuck, man.
I tend to think Sarge probably should’ve gone home instead of Ashleigh this week. Ashleigh’s mistake was arguably more basic, but it would’ve taken a lot more to unfuck whatever was happening with Jo’s.
8. (even) Luke Kolpin
AKA: Liddell. Die Hard. Meekus. Eurotrip. Noma… Noma… Noma gonna be in this competition much longer, anyway.
EMTs almost had to come to my house and revive me with the defibrillator paddles after Meekus managed to go an entire episode without once mentioning that he lives in Europe. Incredible! And there were so many openings for it! “Texas Toast? Interesting, in Denmark we call it an Aalborg flatty.” “Smokers? Curious. At Noma we wrap the briskets with foraged seaweed and leave it to steep in the trunk of a Volkswagon.”
Otherwise, Luke was back to his old ways, which is to say looking like a guy who was about to go home, when he served up a ciabatta covered in a crawfish-pancetta emulsion (three words I’ve never combined before) that was so salty that Tom abandoned his usual poker face. “This is a salt lick,” he said to Brooke.
Yet he went on to totally redeem himself in the elimination challenge, with his brisket in onion-based barbecue sauce served with a coriander and lime stem salad that everyone seemed to mostly enjoy. How does he keep doing this? Luke has become the darkest of dark horses.
7. (-1) Monique Feybesse
AKA: Pebbles Flintstone. Henrietta Hawk. Stretch.
Every episode this season has included at least one shot of Miniscule Monique having to climb atop a shopping cart or stand on top of Jo’s head to reach something on a high shelf. It’s like she only shops from the high shelves. Monique and Jo should have to compete as one chef, with Monique on top of Jo’s shoulders inside a big chef’s coat.
For the quickfire, Monique told us that she’d be cooking something that upon first utterance sounded a lot like “MILF loin.” Mmm, love a MILF loin. I only eat the tenderest MILF loin, pounded flat and stuffed.
Turns out she was actually saying “mille feuille,” a french dessert with layers of pastry and custard. Monique’s combined untoasted bread, buttercream, and mushrooms, which apparently tasted as weird as it sounded. Tom questioned the untoasted bread, but Monique pointed out that she didn’t want her buttercream to melt, and sure, you definitely don’t want to serve mushrooms with melted buttercream. You want the buttercream nice and congealed to really hold all that mushroom flavor.
Monique went trés Fronch again in the elimination challenge, with an onion soubise, beef fat potatoes, and a bone-marrow honey glaze, which had the judges raving “bland potatoes,” “a proper cut goes a long way,” and “this felt like a culinary school dishes, where the student presents a random combination of techniques they’re trying to master.”
What did we learn? It seems we learned that a cube is not the best way to present a brisket.
6. (+3) Jae Jung
AKA: Noodles. Jae West. Hilaria.
Jae continues to be a bit of an enigma. This episode didn’t feature any interviews of Jae getting weirdly horny about food or laughing her ass off at her own jokes, which was a bit of a disappointment, if we’re being honest. Instead she delivered decent food and solid puns. Her shrimp-lobster toast and “K-jun-style brisket” (a play on Korean and Cajun, get it?) had “a ton of flavor” though neither landed her in the top nor the bottom of either challenge, leaving me no closer to knowing where the hell to put Jae in these rankings.
5. (-2) Buddha Lo
AKA: Mr. International. Big Pun. Asian Ben Mendolsohn.
Buddha seemed to cement his fan-favorite status during the quickfire, when he said that he was hoping he would win the $10,000 prize so that he could afford eye surgery for his pug. “They’re shit, he’s gone blind,” Buddha said of his dog’s eyes, in one of the most Australian descriptions of all time.
Has there ever been a pug without eye problems? Honestly, if it’s functioning body parts you’re after, you should probably consider a different dog breed. Pugs are mostly animated loaves of bread that wheeze. Very cute though! Aw, poor pugs. Can you believe these things used to be wolves? We turned them into malformed furry jesters. Mankind is incredible.
Anyway, the editors would’ve had us believe that Buddha was style-biting Monique for most of this episode, copying her idea for a MILF loin in the quickfire and then going similarly French in the elimination challenge. Buddha did her one better in both instances, however, staying out of the bottom in the quickfire and then landing in the top three in the elimination challenge.
Buddha’s “play” on beef bourguignon had onion jam, a beef fat potato croquette, and plating so unabashedly artistic that it nearly single-handedly rehabilitated the entire concept of serving brisket in the form of a cube. Pretty impressive when you can get a group of grizzled dudes in leather vests raving about your culinary Mondrian.
“Well I’ll be dipped in shit, I ain’t never seen a sumbitch make such a tasty brisket Rothko afore.”
4. (+1) Evelyn Garcia
The other top contender for fan favorite, Evelyn, came into her own this week. Being the only local this season also meant that she risked embarrassing herself in front of all the Houston Homeys from the BBQ scene. Not only did she avoid embarrassment, she rose to the challenge with a “Texas brisket curry,” that included brisket over rice in a pool of curry topped by a “burnt ends crumble,” the garnish I never knew I needed.
She did the pitmasters proud, had Tom calling it “destination food,” the kind of signature dish people travel from far and wide to eat, and got notorious curry queen Padma so excited that she called it “the curry I’ve been looking for.”
Damn, Padma normally only throws around compliments like that when she’s liquored up. Evelyn took home the win, and for good reason. She managed to serve brisket to pitmasters and curry to Padma simultaneously and please them both.
3. (-1) Jackson Kalb
AKA: Magoo. Andrew Lunk. Leghorn. Lurch. Bateman. Big Bird. Napholeon Dynamite.
I keep wanting to sandbag Big Bird on account of looking like an ostrich and sounding like Napoleon Dynamite, but I can’t really deny him at this point; the dude stays winning. He made a shrimp toast in the quickfire. That landed him in the top three.
The editors then did their damnedest to make us believe that the Big Magoo was making a catastrophic error by planning to grind up his 12-hour-smoked brisket to stuff inside a pasta. Which, to be fair, absolutely did sound like a terrible idea. Nothing highlights the gorgeous texture of that meticulously smoked meat like just grinding it up like so many discarded hog snouts and beef buttholes, right??
The ground brisket would be for his “scarpinocc,” which, if you had as Spanglicized an upbringing as I did, sounds exactly like “scarred panoche.” Which I believe translates to something like “scarred mangina” in California Spanglish slang. Who doesn’t love a delicious scarred mangina?? The scars really allow the flavors to penetrate. The fear lets you know it’s delicious.
Sorry, I digressed a little there. In what turned out to be a wild misdirect, Big Bird’s brisket manginas in what he called “beurre-BQ sauce” (credit for another pretty good pun) turned out to be a huge hit. The old pitmaster salts, shockingly, absolutely pissed their Wranglers for Jackson’s ground brisket in buttery barbecue sauce. Who could’ve predicted this?? Well, Jackson, apparently. He didn’t quite win, thanks to Evelyn’s home run curry, but he landed in the top three. Giving the man-sized rooster yet another feather in his cap and another thing to crow about (too many bird puns? Whatever, f*ck you).
2. (+2) Nick Wallace
AKA: Domingo. Chocolate Mormon. The Count.
The Chocolate Mormon had me questioning my high ranking of him these past few episodes, but he really brought it home this week, winning the quickfire with his take on a BLT. That take included pancetta, roasted tomatoes, and a cheese spread made from melted cheese and pancetta fat. Can you see why I love this guy?
Of course, this week was for brisket challenges, and Nick just seems like kind of guy you look at and imagine that he probably knows how to smoke a brisket. He made a rub that he described as “12-14 different spices.” Not to be confused with “Nick’s 26,” his proprietary blend of seasonings invoked a few episodes ago. Does this man always count his seasonings? Thank God someone in this competition is actually giving me useful nickname fodder.
Aside from Nick’s 12-14, his brisket included a pork neck and collard greens gremolata. Gremolata is just an Italian version of a chimichurri, but anything this man makes with pork necks sounds good as hell. I know he didn’t make the top three, but the more confident Nick gets with his pork necks, the higher his stock goes, in my mind.
1. (even) Damarr Brown
AKA: Catchphrase. James Beard. Screech.
I’m calling Damarr “Screech” as an ironic nickname because he might be the most low-key, soft-spoken man on Earth. Damarr didn’t land in the top three in either challenge this week, but… didn’t it seem like he should’ve been? It feels like when people like Olivia Colman or JK Simmons don’t win Oscars, because at a certain point you just expect them to hit home runs and then they do, and it doesn’t feel that noteworthy. This was Damarr’s quickfire dish, a bomb-ass pizza toast:
Then he made a brisket with giardiniera, braised cabbage, and Worchester consommé that had Tom raving “This is fantastic.”
I can only conclude that the only reason they left him out of the top three was because Damarr being a finalist is basically assumed at this point and they’re trying to keep things interesting.
Jeopardy! winningest woman (and first openly trans woman on the show) Amy Schneider is staying enormously busy. She’s penning a book after quitting her day job and recently got engaged. And she still made time to pop by the White House to honor the International Transgender Day of Visibility.
Via this video clip from GMA, Schneider fielded questions about the plague of GOP-led anti-trans bills in various states, many of which aim to deny gender-affirming care (and to penalize doctors for even recommending such care). In short, Amy’s hopes are that these bills will eventually fizzle out, and trans visibility is key to making that happen.
“I think that this backlash right now is temporary,” Schneider declared. “The country overall is on our side and getting more so every day. And I think it’s not going to be too long before these sorts of bills are seen as a thing of the past. And no longer what we want to be as a country.”
Previously, Amy joined a Teen Vogue panel to discuss how strongly she felt about trans visibility and her role in the process. “I don’t want to present a ‘too perfect’ image of myself,” she said of her time on Jeopardy!. “Because I want everyone to be able to see that whether or not you are good at trivia, whether or not you have a lot of followers on social media, any of those things, you still deserve and can find the same acceptance, the same affirmation and freedom to accept who you are.”
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