Is it safe to go outside yet? The weather has had absolutely no chill — actually, maybe too much chill, now that I think about it — with record freezing temperatures across the globe. Honestly, as a Chicagoan, I’m traumatized. But don’t trip. This week I’ve put together recommendations you can enjoy from the comfort of your comforter. It may seem a strange serving at times — from the tastiest dishes for Lent to a novel about a mother’s dying wish to be cooked and eaten by her family — but I also promise some smoothness, like the velvety tunes of Lucky Daye’s newest release. It’s cold out. But your taste doesn’t have to be.
Grammy Award–nominated rapper Rick Ross — thebiggest boss, by the way — was NPR Tiny Desk’s newest feature for its four-week quarantine series celebrating Black History Month. The Miami-based artist performed six songs with a live band in an intimate video performance that brings a new appreciation to his classics. Ross cuts a rug and pours soul into each of the songs, specifically the concert’s finale, “Tears of Joy,” where the Wingstop connoisseurnearly drops down to both knees while crooning his tunes. Other artists in the series include Giveon, KeiyaA and Melanie Charles.
2. Meet CJ McCollum
The 6-foot-3 Portland Trail Blazers guard joined The Carlos Watson Show yesterday to discuss everything from possible upsets in the NBA’s Western Conference to his refreshingly straight-talking podcast, Pull Up With CJ McCollum. The former Lehigh University journalism grad knows his way around a microphone — and paired with Watson, OZY’s editor-in-chief and a die-hard basketball fan, it’s easy to feel the enthusiasm while listening to them talk wine, winning and so much more.
3. The Life Ahead
Madame Rosa is a Holocaust survivor and former prostitute who finds herself befriending a young Senegalese immigrant after he tries robbing her — on par for Rosa, who provides a sanctuary for the children of local sex workers and other abandoned children. Based on Romain Gary’s 1975 book, The Life Before Us, this Netflix rendition creatively tells the story of what it takes to keep a community together, and how sometimes we receive help in the very ways that we have helped others. If the storyline doesn’t get you, Sophia Loren’s performance will.
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If velvet could grow lips and sing, it would sound like Lucky Daye. Yes, I’m saying Daye’s voice is velvet personified. And if you needed further proof, that’s what the R&B singer’s new EP is for. Although the work comprises just seven tracks, the New Orleans native makes the most of them, leaving every second energized with vocal and lyrical energy and drenched in emotion. Fitting the title, Daye is paired with a female counterpart for each song — from Yebba, Tiana Major9 and Mahalia to Ari Lennox, Queen Naija and Joyce Wrice.
Much like my food, I like a little fusion in my music. Colombian star Karol G brings that heat in her new single “Location,” mixing country and reggaeton in a way that makes you thankful for a warm winter — or desperately wishing for it. Enlisting fellow Latin heavyweights Anuel AA and J Balvin, the tune offers a fast-tempo rhythm behind what sounds like an electric fiddle. The vibe is hypnotic and will have you involuntarily nodding your head.
3. 3 Musketeers
She’s not yet 21, but hip-hop artist Ppcocaine’s already gunning for the title of filthiest rapper alive. “Ayy-ayy, tell lil’ shorty come here / I’m tryna blow her back out, walkin’ funny for the year,” goes the chorus to her single “3 Musketeers” — which refers to the number of b**ches the lesbian biracial singer has on her. And if that’s a bit vulgar for you, I caution you against going further. With other self-explanatory tracks like “S.L.U.T.” and “DDLG” that are not safe for work, you might want to make her a naughty listen choice if she’s in your wheelhouse. But given that each of her videos has scored well over 1 million views on TikTok and YouTube and she has a record deal with Columbia, she must be on to something.
From Ghana-born author Yaa Gyasi,Homegoing is an educational thrill of a historical fiction novel about how the transatlantic slave trade influenced the lives of two half-sisters in 18th-century Ghana. Gyasi skillfully takes stories from each lineage — from the families left behind in Africa to the ones enslaved by American planters — illustrating how massive commercial European enterprises along Africa’s Gold Coast cast a dark cloud over the continent.
2. Mother for Dinner
Seventh Seltzer has a problem: His mother’s dying wish is to be eaten. And while that (hopefully) may sound off-putting to most, it’s no surprise to Seventh, as his family comes from a long line of Cannibal Americans. Now, instead of a funeral, he must orchestrate the ancient ritual that involves gathering his 11 brothers and, of course, processing their mom, who’s 6-foot-2 and weighs about 450 pounds. Between one brother being kosher, another vegan, and also having to count on his unreliable uncle to guide the ceremony, Seventh has a lot on his plate — while author Shalom Auslander’s brilliant use of comedy helps us care not one bit. Released earlier this month, it's available here.
3. Wondrous Journeys in Strange Lands
From Sonia Nimr, a Palestinian author, this fictional romp follows the adventures of an undaunted bibliophile named Qamr who, after being orphaned, captured and sold to the sister of the king of Egypt, escapes to Morocco. A book from her parents’ collection — which shares a title with the book you’re actually reading — gives the young girl her strength as she travels in caravans and ships while masquerading as a man to escape the many pitfalls in her path.
There’s not a steak entrée on this planet that can hold a candle to this Portuguese recipe. We’re talking two pounds of shelled shrimp over rice, seasoned with sazón with coriander and annatto, minced garlic, fresh parsley and lemon juice, simmered in a dutch oven. While good for Lent, this plate entices all year round, as it’s the perfect mix of freshness and flavor.
If you missed having something sweet for Mardi Gras, check out this Swedish specialty. Semla (plural: Semlor) is a marzipan cream-filled bun topped with powdered sugar. It’s so good that according to Swedish legend, King Adolf Fredrik died in 1771 after consuming 14 of them. And while that may seem like a tall tale, it’s believable considering that the country estimates that 6 million are eaten on Fat Tuesday each year — an impressive feat, given Sweden has only about 10 million people. So maybe their love is verging on addiction, but really, how could anyone resist dunking bite-size balls of goodness into warm milk, which is the traditional — and, in our opinion, by far the best — way to enjoy them.
3. Bisi bele bath
This hot lentil rice dish is not only simple to make but packs flavor. It has ghee butter, tamarind, curry leaves and vegetables, including everything from onions and green peas to carrots and beans. Originating from the Indian state of Karnataka, it’s popular as both a picnic dish and as a spicy meal throughout the day. Best of all? These lentils are Lent-approved (just make sure to always wash them thoroughly before cooking).