WTF Is Going On With Kehlani, Kyrie Irving, PartyNextDoor, And Chris Brown, Explained

Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Who is Kyrie Irving?

Kyrie Irving is a point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Really? That's the answer you're going to give? You're going to sit up here and pretend that Kyrie isn't your favorite player in the league, and that you haven't been writing about him since 2012?

I didn't think that was relevant information today.

Whatever, man. Anyway, who is Kehlani?

Kehlani is a young woman who, apparently, sings songs. I wish I had more to tell you about the names of her songs or perhaps the types of songs she sings, but I'd have to google it. Which means you'd find out just as quickly as I would.


Okay. Well, who is PartyNextDoor?

PartyNextDoor could literally be performing right now at a party next door — with a note on my door letting me know PartyNextDoor will be at a party next door this morning — and I still wouldn't know who he was. I'd just be annoyed my neighbors were having a party at 11am.

So…you get paid to follow and write about pop culture, right?

I do.

And you don't know who these people are?

I don't. I'm not going to lie and say that I do. Have I heard the names "Kehlani" and "PartyNextDoor" before? Yes I have. Do I know why these are names I've heard before? No I don't.


Okay. Well, who is Chris Brown?

Chris Brown is light-skinned.

Why are we talking about them today?

Well, my entry point into all of this came Monday afternoon, when I noticed Kyrie's name was the top trending topic. This immediately sent a chill through my spine, because if an athlete's name is trending while there are no games being played, it's usually because something bad happened to him. An arrest, perhaps. Or maybe a drug suspension. And, knowing what I know about Kyrie's extensive (and annoyingly random) injury history, my first fear was that he contracted knee AIDS or something.


Knee AIDS? Really?

Look, this is a dude who broke his toe in college while making a cut, broke his hand the summer after his rookie season slapping a wall, and broke his kneecap last summer after bumping into a guy who's literally made out of water. Knee AIDS isn't really that far-fetched.


Anyway, he was actually trending because Kehlani — who Kyrie was apparently dating — was apparently cheating on him. And the internet decided to have quite a bit of fun at Kyrie's expense.

Wait…how did the internet find out about Kehlani's alleged infidelity?

PartyNextDoor — who happened to be Kehlani's ex — posted a photo on Instagram of them in bed together.


I see. Well, why do you keep using words like "apparently" and "alleged?" Everything seems pretty clear here. Kyrie was dating a woman (Kehlani) who cheated on him with her ex (PartyNextDoor). The ex provided photo evidence. There's not much ambiguity here.


Actually, there is. We have no idea whether Kyrie and Kehlani were still seeing each other. Although their relationship was public, it's very possible that they broke up privately. The only person definitely in the wrong here is PartyNextDoor.

How so?

Whether Kehlani and Kyrie were actually still dating or not, people who knew of the relationship assumed they were. And sharing a photo like that is the pinnacle of passive-aggressive fuckboytivity.


Which, to be fair, shouldn't have been a big surprise.

Why not?

Because he's an OVO artist. And OVO is Drake's label. And Drake is the patron saint of passive-aggressive fuckboytivity. Ultimately, PartyNextDoor was just acting out what happens in literally every single Drake verse.


What happened next?

Ayesha Curry's name started trending. Again.

Wait…what? Why the hell did that happen?

Because whenever a young and famous Black man who is dating a woman experiences any type of relationship-related adversity, Ayesha Curry's name is dropped as an example of the "type of female these thoterrific bitches need to be." As I tweeted Monday evening, she's the Hotep Twitter Candyman. Say her name in the mirror five times and ashy elbows will appear.


So, what happened after that?

Things got a quite a bit more serious early Tuesday as Kehlani shared a photo of her in a hospital room, with a caption suggesting she attempted to commit suicide.


Wow. That's really sad.

It is. And the sadness turned surreal when #StayStrongKehlani became the top trending topic just hours after she was getting shaded by every corner of the internet. Which is like wearing a RIP shirt to honor someone you just shot. There's a cognitive dissonance that seems to exist within internet shade culture. Yes, the memes can be funny and clever, but I think we forget sometimes that there are actual people at the receiving end of these jokes. Actual people who could be so upset by it that they're driven to the type of depression that makes them consider ending their own lives.


So, I noticed Chris Brown's name is in the title. How did he get involved with all of this?

Early Wednesday morning, Brown tweeted that he believed Kehlani's suicide attempt was an inauthentic ploy for attention.


Why would Chris Brown even feel the need to chime in here?

Asking why Chris Brown does what Chris Brown does is like asking my four-month-old daughter why she smiles at clocks. It's like he has a timer that goes off every six months to remind him to remind us he's a 26-year-old six-year-old. If Drake is the patron saint of passive-aggressive but relatively harmless fuckboytivity, Chris Brown is fuckboy emertus.


I do know however that Chris Brown and Kyrie Irving are apparently good friends. And that, considering the history between Chris Brown and Drake, he's probably not too fond of Drake-related artists. So there's that.

So, I have to admit something. It seemed kind of fishy for Kehlani to share a photo of herself in the hospital after her suicide attempt. I know listening to Chris Brown is like listening to a genital wart, but I think he has a point here.


Was Chris Brown the only person to be a bit skeptical about how genuine Kehlani's suicide attempt was? No, he wasn't. But we don't know what's going on in that young woman's head. None of us do. And when something as serious as suicide is on the table, we have to give her the benefit of the doubt. If there's even a 1% chance she's sincere, it needs to be treated like a 100% chance.

Saying someone faked a suicide attempt and questioning their authenticity is ultimately an implicit way of daring them to try again. And someone as famous as Chris Brown doing it with the ginormous platform he has is dangerous, disgusting, and possibly even criminal.


Also, "seeking attention" and "being suicidal" are qualities that can exist at the same time. The presence of one doesn't negate the presence of the other. Perhaps she did share that picture to elicit sympathy, but that doesn't mean she didn't legitimately want to kill herself.

Generally speaking, we don't know shit about mental health. And the conversations that tend to surround these types of topics are examples of that.


So what happens next?

I have no idea. All I do know is that these are all exceedingly young people. Kyrie just turned 24. Kehlani is 20. PartyNextDoor is 22. Chris Brown is 26. And I do not envy the generation who has to go through their teens and 20s — and all the perfectly normal relationship-related fuckshit that occurs when you're a teenager and a young adult — with every move they make documented on social media.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)

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Off-topic: Did anyone see Frontline last night? Oh my God! I had no idea Saudi Arabia was as bad as it is. And those Republican numbskulls are going off becasue the President is talking to Cuba?! Saudi Arabia is something out of the dark ages.