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Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz have as a much of a shot at becoming the Democratic and Republican nominees for president as Iggy Azalea does at being honored at next year’s Black Girls Rock.

And yet both Sanders and Cruz continued to dance with delusion despite more and more evidence that this just isn’t their election cycle to become president. It’s sore-loser season for the candidates and their supporters. To quote Rihanna, “Poor dat.”

Earlier this week, Sanders told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on New Day about his chances of scoring the nomination, saying, “It’s a narrow path, but we do have a path. And the idea that we should not contest in California—our largest state, let the people of California determine what the agenda of the Democratic Party is and who the candidate for president should be—is pretty crazy.”

I agree with Sanders on certain matters. He should not leave the race. He should try to do well—if not win—in California. He should stay in the race to push the Democratic agenda to better resemble real progressive politics, instead of the Republican-lite “triangulation” that Hillary Clinton and her husband push. Moreover, Sanders does not owe it to Clinton to convince his voters to support her for president in a general election.

However, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Sanders spoke of winning the nomination by way of superdelegates—a stance that seems completely antithetical to the spirit of his campaign. At this point, Clinton is hundreds of regular delegates ahead of Sanders and is millions of votes ahead in the popular vote. In other words, the revolution Sanders spoke of has limits—winning by turning to “the establishment” would contradict his outsider ideology. It would make him no better than the people he purports to be better than.

Sanders’ wife, Jane, has said, “At the end, you know, we’re not calling superdelegates and saying, Will you switch your vote?” And yet it’s been reported that Sanders has personally called some undecided superdelegates to win their support. Meanwhile, Clinton’s superdelegates have complained about being harassed by Sanders’ supporters.

Y’all. Y’all. Y’all. It’s one thing to keep on keep-keeping on, but it’s another to behave like a soft-baked bitch about it.

What frustrates me about Sanders at this juncture of the campaign is that there hasn’t been any real self-reflection, and, by extension, admission of failure on his part. As a southerner, I was vexed as hell by his repeated dismissal of his southern state losses. The typical southern Democrat isn’t white or conservative, but black and moderate-to-fairly-progressive depending on the region. Perhaps it’s due to him being a fairly new Democrat, but you don’t diss the most dedicate voting bloc of the Democratic Party—especially when you don’t mind championing your victories in lily-white states that are as much a Red State as Mississippi and Georgia are. Likewise, while it’s true that poorer Americans vote less, of those that did, they voted more so for Hillary Clinton. That means 1) Sanders’ populist message failed to connect with the poorer voters that do vote, 2) he failed to reach those that do not.

In sum: aww man, homie, your bad.

Read the rest at Complex.

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A recent image uploaded by the legendary Lil’ Kim highlighted a nearly decade-long struggle many of her fans have faced: Lil’ Kim has been an ongoing challenge for those of us who love her, but love our blackness more; for fans who are grateful to her for the impact she’s had on our individual lives, but in many cases are hurt, if not enraged, by what she’s done to herself.

It may not be the nicest sentiment, but it is no less true: I love the Lil’ Kim I hear from my speakers, but I struggle with not judging the sight of the one I often see today.

The latter forces me to confront the reality that someone I idolized for her strength and command of her sexuality doesn’t like the way she looks. That makes her a bit of a walking contradiction. Many of us who felt partially raised by Lil’ Kim are struggling to make sense of that.

Lil’ Kim, the one who made women and gay men alike more comfortable with their own sexuality with the overt display of hers, is an everlasting symbol of strength. Lil’ Kim, the pioneering female rapper who paved the way for the sort of pop-rap fusions whose perks are now enjoyed by many who came after her, is a testament to individuality and innovation. But there’s that other Lil’ Kim we’ve all had to bear witness to.

The one who sometimes speaks in an unnatural, almost caricature-like voice when she surrounds herself with the likes of the Kardashians — well, anyone white. A voice that sounds so foreign to her black-girl-from-Brooklyn cadence that we all love so much. This other Kim is the person who piles on so much makeup to disguise her brown skin in order to present a lighter hue.

It is unclear as to whether or not Lil’ Kim has fallen into the poor habit that is skin-bleaching. In many cases, she looks like she’s just piled on makeup and applied various filters to her images in order to best show off the facade online.

Whatever she’s doing with her skin, it’s quite apparent the intent is to give off the aesthetic attributed to light-skinned women, or white women period, all the same.

This other Kim is befuddling and angering, because it is a complete contradiction to the one so many of us championed.

And yet, in all my anger, I do question the role we may have played in her obsession with removing the most overt traces of blackness in her face. We are often far too cruel to people we deem pitiful. We see someone hurting, and not only do we kick them when we they are down, we watch them fall lower from our blows and pile on the pain with our laughter.

This is largely evident on social media, were many, in true Twitter form, were quick to cast judgement:

Read the rest at Mic.

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would sooner have a threesome with David Duke and the ghost of Barry Goldwater than vote for Donald Trump, but there is something about his political ascension that I find somewhat inspiring.

Not the racism. Not the misogyny. And no, not the xenophobia. Trump’s frontrunner status reminds me – an ambitious but not exactly patient person – that dreams can come true, just not necessarily when I say they should.

There is an old saying: “It’s not the appointed time, but the anointed time.” It’s rooted in the Biblical passage, “For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.” I have not been to church since the last Destiny’s Child album, but that sentiment speaks to me, and Trump’s trajectory this campaign season has served as a demonstration of that wise advice: wait for your time, however long that may be. Then seize it.

Trump, who won five more primaries on Tuesday, has been teasing a presidential run on and off since 1987. As in, Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions on record are a year older than the man I hope one day helps me play out my Beyoncé happily-ever-after scenario (although if he does me dirty, he’ll get the Lemonade treatment, too). I was impressed by Trump after reading Politico’s February profile of the reality star and real estate mogul’s plot-by-plot campaign to become a credible presidential contender.

Sure, Republican voters ought to know better than to be so enamored with a clownish political novice, but that’s not his fault. The point is, timing is everything, and Trump was shrewd enough to finally run when he had an actual chance at winning.

There are other examples of people achieving success later in life. I’ve loved watching Wendy Williams, whom I used to listen to on the radio, go off to daytime, succeed immensely and broaden her brand farther than past naysayers – who wondered whether her unfiltered radio style would translate well in the daytime TV format – ever expected. Similarly, I like that Viola Davis is finally being treated as the exceptional talent that she is, leading a primetime network show as a black actor in her 40s after years of actively working in Hollywood, too often relegated to supporting roles.

But there is something about Donald Trump’s political takeover that I find particularly motivating. He’s been thinking about this for nearly three decades now, but minus the false start in 2000, when he considered running as part of the Reform party, he stuck more with his businesses and television career. And somehow, this novice with no experience gauged his moment, and he has managed to yap his way into a credible chance at becoming president. It’s frightening, yes, but I still find it motivating for pursuing my own goals.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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Piers Morgan is a simpleton fortunate enough that being White, male, and straight makes his success in media nearly impenetrable. Morgan, like many people who wear lens prescribed to only allow them to view the world from their perspective, never misses the chances to complain about minorities who complain about the unfair conditions thrusted upon us. What a joy it must be to be stubbornly selfish and stupid and score profit from it.

When Nicki Minaj complained about the unfair treatment of Black women’s art at the MTV Video Music Awards, Morgan wrote a silly column that completely missed the point. When many were enraged by dashcam footage of Sandra Bland’s arrest was made public, Morgan ignorantly boasted about tweeting “#ALLLivesMatter.” Morgan has also tweeted “I love my Whiteness” in response to Black people celebrating themselves in a world that often loathes our mere existence.

When Black people complained about the lily-White Academy Awards, Morgan wrote an asinine column saying he doesn’t watch the show to be bombarded by issues like gay rights, racism, and sexual assault. You see, Morgan watches for entertainment, failing to realize the rest of us can sit around and be silent when the world is watching. So, it’s not surprising that Morgan has an issue with Beyoncé becoming more overtly political in her art.

In yet another sign that his keyboard should have committed suicide long ago, Morgan has written a new column condemning Beyoncé for not being Beyoncé in his image. However, his angle is to pretend to be care about the mothers of Travyon Martin and Mike Brown.

Writing in The Daily Mail, Piers claims: “I have huge personal sympathy for both women and there is no doubt that African-Americans have been treated appallingly by certain rogue elements within the country’s police forces. But I felt very uneasy watching these women being used in this way to sell an album. It smacks of shameless exploitation.”

Beyoncé created a short film exploring varying aspects of Black womanhood. Do you know what said aspects include? The reality that as a Black mother in America, there is a legitimate reason to worry whether or not you will have to bury your son or daughter due to some racist, trigger happy police officer protected by the law and the White supremacy that has long upheld it in this country? By the way, nothing screams “shameless exploitation” than a blithering idiot continuing to miss the point as a career strategy.

Morgan went on to describe Beyoncé as a “militant activist” and argues, “The new Beyoncé wants to be seen as a Black woman political activist first and foremost, entertainer and musician second.” This sentiment recalls the insulting “compliment” some have paid Prince for purportedly “transcending race.” What they mean by that is Prince’s music got them to see past their own racism. Likewise, what Morgan fails to grasp here is that each of us that are of color are seen as that first and foremost no matter what. The only person who thinks otherwise is one who doesn’t live our experience.

Naturally, Morgan then goes on to see he prefers the “old Beyoncé” who was “less inflammatory” and displayed less “agitation.” He then has the nerve to write, “The one who didn’t play the race card so deliberately and to my mind, unnecessarily. The one who wanted to be judged on her stupendous talent not her skin color, and wanted us all to do the same.”

White people like Piers Morgan love to trot out Martin Luther King quotes as if he was the Santa Claus of Civil Rights and that the invocation of his name and a twisted interpretation of his ideology absolves them from criticism of their inherent bias.

Read more at EBONY.

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“In the last album — that was like love and relationships in its best form, and here she’s talking about the actual challenges that come with that,” Rolling Stone writer Michael Arceneaux tells NPR’s Michel Martin.

And Arceneaux notes that, through it all, Beyoncé’s work demonstrates a significant respect for spectacle — nowhere more so than in Lemonade.

“A lot of artists now don’t particularly care about the visual and it’s just the song,” he says. “But I think Beyoncé really genuinely appreciates how everything is supposed to work together in unison to have a larger impact.”

But don’t make the mistake of comparing her to another performer with a knack for spectacle, Michael Jackson; Arceneaux says Beyoncé actually shares much more in common with Janet.

“Because I think with Janet Jackson, she was able to talk about racial identity, her sexuality, gender and queerness, all these different things,” Arceneaux says. “As much as I love Michael Jackson — I’m named after Michael Jackson — Janet was a bit broader in her themes throughout her career.”

From NPR’s All Things Considered.

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Of Beyoncé’s talents, her greatest might be her ability to make so many black women feel good and recognized in a world that actively tries to make them feel everything but. She makes my sister feel powerful, and my nieces feel beautiful and capable of achieving anything. She comforts, excites, and empowers my female friends in ways no man ever could. More often than not, Beyoncé makes art explicitly for black women. Of course, the rest of us are welcome to partake and enjoy, but her mission is clear.

Her short film, LEMONADE, which serves as the visual component of her album of the same name, is now the greatest example of this. LEMONADE is an hour-long account of personal heartbreak and perseverance that serves as an ode to black womanhood. It is for black women who have been handed lemons all their lives and manage to make something better of it all the same.

The film is incredibly ambitious. It spans several locations, urban and rural, intimate and expansive. We watch her levitate; writhe in water; leap from a building; take bats to some presumably trifling man’s car. She also rents a stadium that has hosted the Super Bowl like it’s a PO box.

There are other feats, too. Say, managing to wear black and yellow and looking stunning, as opposed to my normal association: a big ass bubble bee. Serena Williams, a spectacle for many wonderful reasons, makes an appearance, twerking for the Queen while Beyoncé pays subtle homage to the tennis star’s illuminating cover on a recent issue of Sports Illustrated.

And the looks! So many looks. The styling, the makeup, and the hair are all impeccable. One minute Beyoncé looks like she stepped off the runway, the next it’s as if she’s fresh from knocking the teeth out of the mouth of a side chick. Minutes later, her attire and stage setup suggest she’s summoning Satan for the turn up.

It’s sensory overload in the best way imaginable.

And like the “Formation” video, it’s black as fuck. Like that video, there are so many facets of blackness on display—Southern American blackness in particular. You might have to be from Texas or Louisiana to relate fully; I take immense joy in watching my fellow Houston native ride a horse down the street ever so casually. The same for the sight of marching bands and majorettes. This is everyday to many of us and it will never not be endearing how Beyoncé keeps how she grew up so close to her while also sharing it with the world.

Now, like many, there are numerous moments in which one wants to shout out, “What the hell did you do to Beyoncé, Jay Z?!” Follow up question: Do we need to put you back in an elevator with Solange, big homie?

Read the rest at Complex.

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Beyoncé shocked the world on Saturday night, but in some ways, her sixth album, Lemonade, isn’t all that different from its predecessor.

Like the Houston native’s eponymous fifth LP, Lemonade arrived after a lengthy bout of uncertainty: The album appeared on Tidal without warning, assuaging frantic fans with new tracks and captivating visuals to match. Lemonade also mirrors the structure of Beyoncé, with slow, haunting production that gives way to harder beats and a more intense delivery from the singer. Then she settles back down a bit, offering midtempo tracks and poignant ballads.

That said, the difference between Lemonade and Beyoncé is much like the difference between Beyoncé and 2011’s 4: The artist took something pretty damn amazing and had the audacity to make it even better.

Lemonade feels fuller because it features a wider range of emotions. Both albums deal with love; only here, someone not named Beyoncé screwed up, and it’s evident from the opening line of the album: “You can taste the dishonesty/It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier.”

Beyoncé is pissed, and angry Bey is a treat more listeners might finally appreciate thanks to this album. On her sophomore effort, B’Day, Beyoncé released “Ring the Alarm,” which was right in its tone and delivery – “I been through this too long/But I’ll be damned if I see another chick on your arm” – but nonetheless missed the mark: The song’s materialistic lyrics (“She gon’ be rockin’ chinchilla coats if I let you go …”) made it seem hollow. Here, her fury hits home because it stems from what feels like real heartbreak. This album isn’t about a chinchilla fur; it’s about figuring out what to do in light of broken promises.

On “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” Beyoncé sneers, “Who the fuck do you think I am?/You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy.” Next comes “Sorry,” where she informs us, “Me and my baby, we gon’ be alright/We gon’ live a good life/Big Homie better grow up.”

There’s already debate as to whether or not Beyoncé would really expose marital problems – namely her husband’s infidelity – to the masses. It’s hard to parse whether or not some of the material references her experiences with Jay Z, or her father, Mathew Knowles, or perhaps an imaginary scenario that’s serving as good practice for a future dramatic role she hopes will secure her an Oscar nomination.

Whatever the backstory, she sounds dead serious when she says, “I’mma fuck me up a bitch,” and, “If you try this shit again, you gon’ lose your wife.” Anyone who swings a bat like that means what they say. The same goes for the longing in the gorgeous “Love Drought,” the sadness that’s echoed in “Sandcastles,” and the joy of rejuvenated love in “All Night.” Lemonade feels like a breakup record, but there is forgiveness at its conclusion.

Read more at Rolling Stone.

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I was only two months old when Prince reached the commercial peak of his career with Purple Rain. So, my earliest memories of the iconic musician may make those fortunate enough to experience him sooner wince. This would include watching Jack Nicholson dance to “Partyman” in the movie Batman, and a few years later, seeing Prince expose his bare butt at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards.

I found the former fun, and the latter, strangely alluring. Nevertheless in either instance, I didn’t really understand what was before me. I knew Prince was someone to revere because I saw vinyls of albums like Purple Rain, Sign O’ The Times, and Parade spread across various parts of my home. Prince was something special, but I was too young to see why. He was not the kind of act a young child necessarily gets.

Michael Jackson was easier to digest for a child, especially one named after him. Michael Jackson was incredibly kid-friendly. He made things like Moonwalker and Captain EO. Prince, on the other hand, was anything but PG. Prince required a certain maturation — one that compelled you to know what norms he was challenging, what buttons he was pushing, and what experiences he sang about that are only accessible with age and with living.

Prince sang about sex fluidly. It was love and sex, it was spirituality in unison with sex versus in conflict. It was also sex in its absolute rawest form. Sex was cool. Sex was fun. Sex was a connection. Sex was whatever you wanted to be at the time. I had to reach the point in my life where I could understand that. Once I did, like so many others before me, I fell in love with his art.

As a gay black man, I appreciate that Prince did not cower under the rigidness of the hypermasculinity all too often thrust upon us. He confidently wore a G-string on an album cover, exposed his butt on national television, wore heels, and embraced androgyny. Prince was not a person who fixated on appearing “hard” or “tough”; he opted instead to show the greatest strength that is being comfortable in your own skin.

Many have long joked that Prince was as pretty, if not prettier, than the beautiful women he dated. That was often the case, but behind any chuckles about that lies the fact that the artist never bowed to anyone else’s idea of how his manhood should be presented. He was not making overt political statements with gender-bending aesthetic. Prince was just being.

That can often be a revolutionary act on its own, but this is especially true for Prince, a black man. For anyone who argues that this is standard fare today, I invite you to pull out a magnifying glass and give our culture a closer look. There aren’t many modern-day black male entertainers like Prince. They may sound like him because his works are highly influential and innovative, but name a heterosexual entertainer walking around in high heels, eyeliner, and pants that could easily be rocked by your sister or auntie. At least, there isn’t one that enjoys the kind of stature and commercial success that Prince enjoyed at his peak.

Now, name a gay black guy doing that.

I hear your silence. The sad reality is most black male entertainers can’t even get away with wearing one of Luther Vandross’s old glittery jackets without having their sexuality questioned. Odell Beckham Jr. — a professional football player — can’t dance in peace without his manhood and sexuality being called into question.

But this is what separates Prince from everyone else: he didn’t give a damn. His sexuality was not defined by the gender norms of others. He was an individual in every sense of the word. Prince lived by his own standard.

Read the rest at Teen Vogue.

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When it comes to criticism of Hillary Rodham Clinton, I’m reminded of the way criticism is often leveled at Beyoncé, or “Bayoncé,” as Clinton has mistakenly called her.

In my eyes, Beyoncé is as close to perfect as this world is going to get. But no one is totally perfect. Now, I’m not in the business of speaking ill of my favorite Creole, but I can understand someone taking issue with select matters. Say, her being hyper-capitalistic. However, as is the case with Beyoncé, whatever legitimate gripes one might have about Clinton often gets lost in the noise drowning out what could be legitimate criticism.

Because Clinton elicits such visceral anger from her detractors, many look for any available reason to condemn her. The latest example of this would be people losing their damn minds because she mentioned that she keeps hot sauce in her bag during an interview with Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club.” Because she made this comment during a radio program that targets black people, some felt Clinton was pandering.

However, no matter what your uninformed faux politico or Donald Trump might tell you, Clinton has been talking about her love of hot sauce since the first Destiny’s Child album. Actually, she’s been talking about hot sauce since Girls Tyme. Clinton has mentioned her love of hot sauce to black and mainstream media outlets for more than two decades. So, to be clear, when it comes to her eating habits and the hot sauce she drowns her food in, she got that fire, she got that fire, girl, holla at HRC if you want that Oscar Meyer.

After some conceded just that, the outrage shifted to Charlamagne Tha God jokingly telling Clinton that her admission of her hot sauce habit on the show might seem like pandering. Clinton’s response was, “Is it working?” It was deadpan humor, but Clinton had a grin on her face. Why? Because it was a joke. You can either laugh or not, but to suggest that it connotes anything other than bad comedic timing is the kind of hyperbolic antics that I find headache-inducing. Clinton loves her hot sauce and there are plenty of folks out here that need to get drunk off some chill.

And since we’re on the subject of pandering, for the love of God, let go of Hillary Clinton dancing on Ellen. Clinton was appearing on a daytime television show in which she was asked by the host —who often makes dancing a central component of the telecast—and her black DJ to try the latest dance trend (to that audience, anyway). That’s why you do on daytime TV: silly-ass shit to relate to Americans who don’t really know a great deal about policy, but tend to be way too into the idea of voting for a candidate’s charisma. Like I told y’all before, the game is the game.

Moreover, there’s the reality that, if Hillary Clinton didn’t go directly to outlets that appeal to black voters, she—and, for that matter, Bernie Sanders—would be accused of ignoring key Democratic voting blocs. You know, like Republicans. If anything, I find Sanders’ dismissal of southern voting states—which also happen to encompass large black populations—to be more offensive than Clinton dancing off beat and talking about hot sauce on a morning radio show.

Pandering is Mitt Romney asking black kids, “Who let the dogs out?” A better example of a politician being condescending is Rand Paul taking a field trip to Howard University and trying to lecture students on issues the students understood better than he did.

Make no mistake: this is not me declaring #ImWithHer. I don’t despise her as some of my friends do, but she’s not exactly my favorite candidate. For the record, neither is Bernie Sanders. As of now, I’m planning to vote for “Bayoncé.”

What I will advise, however, is that for those who detest Clinton and want to let it all out day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute on social media—shall you proceed? Yes indeed. Only, can you try to limit your criticisms to policy? There is plenty of reason for condemnation there.

Read the rest at Complex.

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