The only Valentine’s Day gift guide you procrastinators need

LEVEL Editors
Published in
7 min readFeb 9, 2021


Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From last-minute partner pick-me-ups to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.

Valentine’s Day hits a little different this year. Sure, Cupid is still fluttering around with his crossbow, shooting unsuspecting romantics in their necks. But these days, if that Greek mythical god has any regard for us mere mortals, he’ll be double-masked up and sniping his targets from at least six feet away.

With many of us still limiting our socializing outside of the house due to the ongoing pandemic, the usual plans for romantic V-Day date nights will largely be scrapped. And since it seems like time is a flat circle, it’s perfectly understandable if at the very moment you’re reading these words, you realize, Oh shit, February 14 is just five days away! I need a game plan!

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The good news is, we got you. Consider this your annoying — but useful! — alarm. Sure, you could always go with the cliché: flowers, wine, etc. But these are already monotonous times. If you’re going to quantify your love via material gifts, at least switch things the hell up. Think outside of the box of chocolates, Forrest Gump. Just for you, we’ve rounded up a few 2021-friendly gift suggestions for all of the different loved ones in your life.

For the sneakerhead

‘Carmine’ Air Jordan VI

Matching kicks was the shit when you were strolling high school hallways with your teenage love. While it might seem cheesy now, these holiday-ready red-and-white beauties are reason enough to make an exception while flexin’. You’ll be relationship goals in no time! (StockX)

For the hip-hop head

The Motherlode, 100+ Women Who Made Hip-Hop, by Clover Hope

Your Gangsta Boo is guaranteed to learn something new from this A-Z guide to female rappers — a hip-hop masterpiece in paperback form that’s as beautifully illustrated as it is meticulously written. (Abrams Books)

For the seducer

Savage X Fenty undergarments

Stepping into the bedroom as your most confident self is now equal-opportunity, thanks to Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty line of lingerie and sleepwear for all genders and body types. It’s a gift that keeps on giving and receiving (positive feedback). (Savage X Fenty)

The competitive romantic

The Ultimate Game for Couples

Sure, we’re all missing game nights. But you and bae can entertain your damn selves with this card game that includes prompts for trivia questions about each other, and fun challenges you can do at the crib. Plus, once we’re all gathering again en masse, you’ll have an upper hand when you square off against other couples. (Amazon)

For the remote work warrior developing a hunchback (Hint: Don’t tell them that!)

Jarvis standing desk by Fully

Workaholic or not, these WFH times have many of us clocking prolonged hours at a counter — or worse, a couch — which over time can cause back pain and a gang of other health issues. This home office upgrade can help you show your special someone that you care about their productivity and their well-being. (Just don’t let V-Day be the only day you’re giving out foot rubs.) (Fully)

For the lifelong learner


A perfect last-minute gift that’s also a king-sized flex. Maybe your boo wants a jump shot like Steph Curry or wants to create outside the lines (whatever that means) with Issa Rae. Whatever the case, letting your main thang know you’re invested in their education is a crucial brownie point. (Masterclass)

For the personal-trainer-in-training

Theragun Elite massage gun

If your partner is a fitness nut — or is just generally in need of some muscle relaxation — cop a “percussive massage device” that’ll plow through knots, enhance booty rubs, and help release some tension, word to SWV. (Best Buy)

For the woke person with jokes

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism, by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

Consider this a weekly reminder for you and your lover: Listen to Black women. Read them, too. Especially when they’re dropping absurd, face-palm worthy stories about their encounters with racism in Omaha, Nebraska as only comedian Amber and her sister Lacey could. (Grand Central Publishing)

For your one truest love — or really anyone you kinda like

Medium membership

Nothing says “I love you” like the gift of unlimited access to the entire suite of premium editorial content from Medium publications like Zora, OneZero, Human Parts, GEN, Marker, Forge, Elemental, and, of course, LEVEL. At $5 per month, it’s a bargain — the perfect addition to one of the bomb-ass gifts above. (Medium)

This Week in Racism

🗑 Africana Studies Professor Proves Acronyms Can’t Hide R.A.C.I.S.M.

Dr. Melissa Hargrove has been lecturing at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for a few years now, and while she hasn’t made full professor, she has made…eleven student groups sign a letter calling for her dismissal! During a class last week, she wrote a certain word in all caps on the whiteboard, and then took a page from Tupac’s debut album by making it stand for “Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished.” Not a great look — but there’s an even worse look lurking. This wasn’t Hargrove’s first time making what one might generously call a “questionable teaching decision.” As another student pointed out on Twitter, this is the same woman who gave her students an extra-credit assignment to pretend to be confined on a slave ship during the Middle Passage. Don’t call it “racism” — call it Rhetorical Acts Causing Intense Student Malaise! (WBIR 10)

🗑 For Those Still Arguing That the Capitol Insurrectionists Were “Very Fine People”…

Over the past month — has it really only been a month? — the FBI and other officials have made hundreds of arrests in connection with the January 6 raid on the Capitol. Predictably, Q-loonies and other extremists opted to deny the reality of these arrests entirely; after all, they howled, the entire raid was a false flag operation and anyone caught there wasn’t actually a Trump supporter. To them, we say: you’re really gonna love Kyle Fitzsimons! In 2017, four years before Fitzsimons found his way to the Capitol, the Maine man let loose with a tirade of racism and xenophobia at a public hearing. In the footage, which CNN recently obtained, Fitzsimons railed against teaching English to immigrants, telling legislators they were “bringing in the third world” and asking a Black spectator, “What’s wrong with your culture that you need to know that much about how to teach your kids to stay out of jail?” (Don’t ask.) Is there more? Oh, there’s much, much more. So much more, in fact, that when CNN reached Fitzimons’ attorney for comment, the only response was “no comment.” We’d say “have fun storming the castle!” … but we already know how that turned out. (CNN)

🗑 In Today’s Edition of “THAT’S WHAT I’M SAYING THO,” Texas Pastor Receives Racist Letter After Pointing Out Church’s Race Problem

Back in November, following in Donald Trump’s footsteps, the leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention issued a statement saying that critical race theory “is incompatible with the Baptist Faith & Message.” You might not be surprised to know that Black clergy felt some kind of way about that announcement, with some prominent pastors choosing to leave the Convention. Dwight McKissic wasn’t one of them, but he did decide to pull his church, Cornerstone Baptist, from the organization’s Texas chapter — and what did he get for his troubles? A letter calling Black folks “savages” and claiming that “Negroes” didn’t deserve to be appointed to positions within the organization. We’ve got seven words for you, Pastor McKissic: The. Price. Is. On. The Can. Though. (WFAA 8)

The LEVEL Up: Culture Picks From the Editors

📺 Judas and the Black Messiah

This heartbreaking biographical drama tells the story of Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and the government-deployed mole (played by LaKeith Stanfield) who helped to bring him down. The entire cast deserves acting kudos, but Daniel Kaluuya especially shines, completely transforming into the late activist and ensuring some accolades once awards season rolls around. (2/12, HBO Max)

🎶 “Gang Signs,” Freddie Gibbs Featuring ScHoolBoy Q

It was only a matter of time before these two street-certified spitters joined forces on a track. The final product finds Gibbs and Q — depicted in the music video as a pink rabbit and tatted-up turtle, respectively — going off over a sleepy horn and percussion. Rep your (head)set. (Spotify)

📺 Hip Hop Uncovered: The Untold Story of Rap’s Most Notorious Kingmakers

For many trap stars turned household names, there were background figures who were instrumental in their ascension — street entrepreneurs who managed, financed, or otherwise uplifted these talented voices and helped them to reach the masses. This six-part documentary series highlights those unsung influences, focusing on people like Big U, Haitian Jack, Trick Trick, and Debra Antney, mother to Waka Flocka Flame. (2/12, FX)

LEVEL Read of the Week

How a Few Great Hip-Hop Journalists Won In Hollywood

While hip-hop magazines proliferated throughout the ’90s (shout out Rap Pages and Rap Sheet!), the triumvirate of Vibe, The Source, and XXL dominated newsstands throughout the late ’90s and early 2000s. But journalism wasn’t the end for many of the writers; over the years, a number of them have jumped from mastheads to end credits, writing and producing everything from reality shows to feature films. We pulled some of hip-hop journalism’s distinguished alums for a roundtable drilling down on why they made the change — and how. Read the story.

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