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I can’t remember where I was body rolling – the gym, a bar, a subway car or a random sidewalk in Harlem – but while turning up to Destiny’s Child, I had an epiphany: everything you need to know about love and relationships can be found in their catalog. Like, every facet of love, relationships, and as country folks would say, “relations.”

So, since I refuse to listen to the majority of the other bammas out here doling out advice by no other virtue than them being famous, I would like to share with you my love syllabus as prepped by all past members of Destiny’s Child—except for Farrah, because her whispers on that one song don’t count. No shade.

When you see a bae and your eyes can’t make a run for it: “Perfect Man”

 For those of us who are told we look “unapproachable,” or just people who live by the virtue “closed mouths don’t get fed,” Beyoncé so gorgeously advised in the bridge of this international bonus track from Survivor:

All you ladies listening if you ever have the chance/ To run into your definition of that perfect man/ Don’t be blinded by how fine the man is/ And miss the chance that might be your last/ Make him understand that he’s your perfect man

Heed her warning, beloveds.

Read the rest at VH1.

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It was love at first ass shot.

Sebastian, played by Ryan Phillippe, rose from the pool after failing to seduce virgin Annette, played by his now ex-wife, Reese Witherspoon, in Cruel Intentions. For the life of me, I could not understand why Annette did not immediately start singing the lyrics of Ginuwine’s “Pony” and proceed to play out the song with him.

He was butt-ass naked and it was a sight to behold. It was such a sight that I don’t remember much else about the movie. Something about obnoxious teenagers and some demure girl whose cherry they wanted turned out? Oh, and two of the girls kissed each other. Good for them.

Whatever the case, for a teenage boy in conflict with his same-sex attractions, Sebastian’s bare cheeks air-drying post-rejection is the only scene that matters.

For the record, I had to wait and see Cruel Intentions on video. I got to see some R-rated movies by way of my cool older sister (Friday, for example), but no one would take me to see movies like Cruel Intentions. It was an early lesson about the role “the haters” will play in one’s life.

It was probably for the best, though. Once I had the movie on VHS (it was a dark time in home entertainment, children born in the 1990s) and got to that scene, I paused the tape and stared at the screen for several minutes. My mouth, open. My eyes, glued to his cheeks. I went on to take the advice T-Boz from TLC shared with me in 1996 about self-pleasure.

I knew I was attracted to boys around the age of six. Will Smith is actually my first celebrity crush, but he was squeaky clean on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air so much of my thoughts were, “Oh, you look nice… in that stupid looking jacket your fictitious private school has you wearing.” An NBC sitcom in the 1990s could never offer the same sort of temptation and titillation many of Phillippe’s movies did.

After that, I tasked myself with finding other movies that included Phillippe’s nudity—notably 54, released a year prior to Cruel Intentions.

The film 54 was my first real glimpse into gay male sex. I tended to stay clear of porn online. Not because I didn’t know how to hide the evidence from a tech-savvy mom—porn just doesn’t do a whole lot for me (Tumblr porn is cool, though). No shade to the hard-working adult entertainers of the world.

It’s a shame that so many of the original scenes of the movie were cut in its original theatrical release. I saw bootleg versions of select scenes—including Phillippe kissing co-star Breckin Meyer—but even in the heavily edited version, I got the gist. I had never seen what those attractions looked like when expressed—especially not from someone I couldn’t help but fawn over. As a result, I got a whole lot closer to accepting the gay within.

Read the rest at Fusion.

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As frustrating as I find her to be, I almost feel sorry for Miley Cyrus. Almost— because after all, she has been a famous millionaire for the majority of her life. With that comes all the perks of fame and fortune: being the center of attention, having people be at your beck and call, and getting to do practically whatever you want. Though as we’ve seen time and time again, none of that proves to be enough for a child star. They always have something to prove, notably when they see their star fading as they inch closer towards adulthood. They typically do whatever it takes to earn additional shine in an effort to safely stay in the only space they’ve known.

No one needs a reminder on how desperate Cyrus has shown herself to be in convincing you that she’s no longer Hannah Montana. It’s downright embarrassing to see her make so many weed jokes or reference sex in some campy fashion, damn near begging us to call her bad ass. That said, I don’t agree with the running theory that her career is over. For starters, her last album, Bangerz, did go platinum. We needn’t forget she’s only 22, by the way.

Oh, and for all her theatrics, she’s actually talented. That’s probably what’s most grating about Miley Cyrus: she doesn’t have to do half the nonsense she engages in. It’s one thing you notice from her new free album, Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz. And yes, it is nonsense. We’re not being prudish. Quite the contrary. It’s that those of us over a certain age – say, above 25 – have seen it all and seen it done far more salaciously and with purpose (not to mention better).

In a New York Times report about the making of Miley Cyrus & her Dead Petz, producer Mike WiLL claims of Cyrus, “Why would she drop another Bangerz? Miley is the new Madonna.” Oh hell no. Cyrus may think she’s like Madonna. There may even be people she pays to lie to her about being like Madonna. Still, making endless weed jokes or standing around butt ass naked constantly a Madonna not make.

Madonna was provocateur, but she was tackling real issues that resulted in genuine backlash. She spoke about gay rights and AIDS awareness, was an advocate for expressions of female sexuality in its rawest forms, among other issues. She drew the ire of the Catholic Church, uptight politicians, and if you remember the reactions to her SEX book, even some consumers. Cyrus is like a teenager with a fake ID, drunk at a college party living out all of the scenarios she’s only seen in crappy movies.

Madonna is also, above all, a masterful pop music maker. Sure, she’s adapted sounds and aesthetics through the years, but at her peak – and that lasted for a very long time – she always played to her strengths.

Read the rest at VH1.

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Miley Cyrus is a marvelous example of moments when white people need to know that it’s perfectly acceptable to shut up and listen when it comes to the subject of race. Or, you know, not comment at all, especially if they’re not even marginally informed about a matter with a potentially racial subtext.

In an interview with the New York Times last week, the former child star and current attention seeker decided to lend her own commentary to Nicki Minaj’s criticism of the MTV Video Music Awards for snubbing her massively popular visual for “Anaconda” this year in the Video of the Year category. When asked about it, Cyrus began with, “I saw that. I didn’t really get into it. I know there was some beef. I don’t really know.” When asked if she knew what Minaj had said, Cyrus said, “She was saying that everyone was white and blonde that got nominated, I heard? And then Taylor Swift butted in.”

When it was explained that Minaj was alluding to a double standard—Minaj having bested the sales and impact of Cyrus’ own “Wrecking Ball” video, which won in 2014—Cyrus again said, “I didn’t follow it.” If you’re keeping score, Cyrus doesn’t really know, she didn’t really get into it and she didn’t really follow it. And yet she spoke anyway.

“Not that this is jealousy, but jealousy does the opposite of what you want it to—that’s a yoga mantra,” Cyrus explained. “People forget that the choices that they make and how they treat people in life affect you in a really big way.” Repurposing the jargon she picked up from her yoga instructor, Cyrus went on to advise, “If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement. But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it.”

You know, there are your feelings and then there are statistics. Statistics care not about your damn anecdotes. Just because you feel a given way about a situation doesn’t mean it’s rooted in reality. Namaste that, simpletons.

If these empty, poorly rationalized thoughts were not frustrating enough, Cyrus went on to criticize Minaj for the tone of her rightful complaints. Cyrus essentially scolded Minaj, noting, “You made it about you. Not to sound like a bitch, but that’s like, ‘Eh, I didn’t get my V.M.A.’”

Then came her “advice”: “If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself. Say: ‘This is the reason why I think it’s important to be nominated. There’s girls everywhere with this body type.’”

The interviewer noted, “I think she did say that,” but Cyrus did not waver, claiming: “What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj, is not too kind. It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love. You don’t have to start this pop star against pop star war.”

Cyrus’ simplemindedness irks the ever-loving hell out of me. Irked the hell out of Minaj, too. Last night, Minaj used part of the time allotted for her Best Hip-Hop Video win to address Cyrus’ criticism. Startled but still stuck on stupid, Cyrus blamed the media and life went on. Cyrus’ life affords her the luxury of being able to navigate subcultures as easily as she does the dominant one—and to be celebrated. Minaj isn’t as lucky, yet she gets lectured by a spoiled white girl, who casually drops “mammy” in her skit with Snoop Dogg, on how to talk race “the right way.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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In the past, my dating life was a mix of Frank Ocean’s Bad Religion and the sadder Mary J Blige songs that you can somehow still dance to. And yet, things have slowly but surely gotten better – a direct result of me making important changes. As I’ve gotten older, I have been more vigilant about noticing the signs that a man might be a loser and promptly taking the exit ramp.

This includes things like never dating a man who doesn’t know how to use “your” and “you’re” correctly. I don’t want to be a snooty writer, but I also don’t want to invest in flirting with a person who didn’t pay attention in third grade. Similarly, though it may be a struggle, I will try my best to avoid checking a guy’s social media feeds before actually getting to know him. It’s like looking at a person through a filter that’s not as favorable as he thinks it is.

But the one I most adamant about sticking to – and I have encouraged everyone I know to act accordingly: I will never date another person who does not like Beyoncé.

If there is one mistake I made repeatedly in the past, it was looking past this fatal flaw. Of all the men I’ve dated, the worst have all disliked Queen Bey.

I am a gay black man from Houston, Texas. Beyoncé is my Lord and gyrator. She is the beginning, end and body roll to me. I should have known better than to ever bother with such haters.

Before I started rejecting Beyoncé haters, I first tried dating some men with the fatal flaw by avoiding the subject. More than once, one tried to pick a fight with me about Beyoncé. They knew I bow down to Queen Bey, but they tried, still, to coerce me into standing on the wrong side of history. Remember that New York Times review of her debut album entitled: “The Solo Beyoncé: She’s No Ashanti?” Who wants to end up sounding that ridiculous?

However, as an original member of the #Beyhive (its editorial director, if you will), I’ve long known that some people will fight a good thing. So I gave some men the benefit of the doubt, thinking that I could help them blossom into Beyoncé lovers – starting with the B’Day album. Because seriously, how can you not like Beyoncé? To me, if you don’t love Beyoncé, you don’t love yourself. You don’t have to be a super fan, but if you don’t like at least five Beyoncé songs, I don’t trust your judgment.

That sounds crazy to Beyoncé deniers, whom I refer to as Beythiests.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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Earlier this month, when Kim Kardashian premiered her selfie with Hillary Clinton (featuring Kanye West in the background, doing a mesh of mean mug and amusement), my immediate reaction was, “I hope she’s not trying to sell HRC on the benefits of wearing a waist trainer.”

I was guilty (as many are) of dismissing the idea of Kardashian having any legitimate interest in political and social causes. Well, none that don’t directly involve her, anyway. But as vapid as Kim Kardashian can be, there is something skeptics like me must accept: she’s been trying to show substance lately.

A year ago, Kardashian took to her site to pen a personal post that detailed how having a mixed race daughter has shed light on the realities of racism.

Kardashian wrote:

To be honest, before I had North, I never really gave racism or discrimination a lot of thought. It is obviously a topic that Kanye is passionate about, but I guess it was easier for me to believe that it was someone else’s battle. But recently, I’ve read and personally experienced some incidents that have sickened me and made me take notice. I realize that racism and discrimination are still alive, and just as hateful and deadly as they ever have been.

This earned her a resounding “duh” across the Internet, but Kardashian did go on to note, “I feel a responsibility as a mother, a public figure, a human being, to do what I can to make sure that not only my child, but all children, don’t have to grow up in a world where they are judged by the color of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation. I want my daughter growing up in a world where love for one another is the most important thing.”

Her intent was to convey that motherhood is changing her, and that her eyes were beginning to open up—she’s seeing the world beyond her bubble. It’s one thing to date and marry black men, but it’s another to actually be a mother to a black child who will experience things she will never be forced to. In many ways, Kardashian has lived up to the promise of her post.

In July, Kardashian wrote on Twitter, “#WhatHappenedToSandraBland We need answers!!!! This is NOT ok! This is all shady! They need to own up to this & tell the truth!” Arguments ensued immediately, with people wondering whether or not she truly “cared.” It’s a stupid question to pose. At this rate, it should be very clear that Kardashian is methodical and hyperaware of what it means to extend her name to something be it a product or a victim of police brutality. She cared enough to bring attention to it and the end result was arguably Bland’s story being carried on entertainment programs that might’ve otherwise ignored the story.

Read the rest at Fusion.

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A year ago, I told everyone I know – plus anyone strolling by my little Internet corner – to give Teyana Taylor a chance and listen to her debut album, VII. Based on the majority of online videos of her most recent performances, gay Black men heeded the call best. Thanks a lot for your efforts, gentleman. Now it’s time for the rest of y’all to play catch up.

Fortunately, the very good but incredibly underlooked album is still available. Even better: Teyana Taylor has released a new EP, VII #thecassettetape 1994. Like VII, the songs are heavily influenced by ’90s R&B and features producers like Da Internz, JR Rotem, J Hill, among others. The references are far more direct as Taylor pulls from the following classic songs from that era and reimagines them: BBD’s “Poison,” Tony! Toni! Toné!’s “Anniversary,” and K.P. and Envyi’s “Swing My Way.”

There is also my favorite track from the EP, “Your Wish Is My Command,” produced by Domo and Kanye West. It reminds me most of what I’ve come to appreciate about Teyana Taylor: tangible growth in her vocal ability and a clearer direction on what to do with it.

Some have expressed that such direction is a little too nostalgic and referential. I tend not to agree with that (at least, not yet), but it does not counter that Teyana Taylor is making some of the most interesting R&B out there. It’s sensual, it’s flirty, and it all sounds like it’s coming from someone who naturally got to that stage in her personal life as opposed to it being forced upon her in her professional work.

The only thing is that more people need to be paying attention to what Teyana Taylor is offering. It’s understandable why audiences may have be initially skeptical of her music— she was introduced via a reality show centered around extravagant teen parties, and whatever music she released was far and between. But at this point, she has a solid mixtape, an impressive debut album, and now a very good EP under her belt.

Read the rest at VH1.

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“Who is that girl with the big ass head?” was my first critique of Rihanna. That was 10 years ago. I was an intern at MTV News and I had absolutely no idea who she was. A fellow intern and college classmate informed me that Rihanna, who walked around smiling and with only one other person with her, was behind the new song “Pon de Replay.” After that quick informational, it was not long before I could be spotted body rolling to the track on my iPod while en route to the West Village.

I did fall in love with her debut album, Music of the Sun, which turned a decade old this month, but if nothing else, I was at least aware of her name and one of her songs. For a label, it’s a not a runaway success, though it’s not a complete failure either. It’s something: a chance to build.

The same summer, I also interned at the now defunct music magazine Blender. That was where I met another new artist who was affiliated with Jay Z: Teairra Mari. As the sole black person around, I had gone to the set and helped them find the proper lighting for Teairra’s darker skin. This included standing there, not lose my black skin while testing the lights and hold the leashes of two doberman pinschers who would be a part of the shoot. When Teairra Mari walked in, she was surrounded by a sea of handlers – many of whom who I recognized from MTV. She couldn’t have been more than 17 at the time, but I recall her being served up in attire that recalled Vanity 6.

Then, I heard her second single, “No Daddy,” blaring from the speakers. As soon as I heard the hook of that song, I could simultaneously hear her career be dropped inside a black skillet filled with hot grease. I’m surprised none of the editors sent me to go get Teairra a side of french fries.

What they got wrong about Rihanna is that she was not supposed to be the Caribbean Beyoncé. What they got wrong about Teairra Mari is that she could have been like Monica in that she was a teenager with an attitude, but within limits. Monica was Miss Thang, Not Miss Motherf**king Thang. Her first album, Roc-A-Fella Records Presents Teairra Mari, which also turned 10 this month, is a lot better than its lazy title. It was too much, too soon from a teenager, though.

Unfortunately, only one of these two singers that I saw within weeks of each other that summer had the chance to rectify their handlers’ mistakes.

Read the rest at VH1 Music.

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There have been many articles penned about Tinder, most recently the Vanity Fair profile entitled “Tinder and the Dawn of the “Dating Apocalypse.” It is as hyperbolic as it is clueless. Casual sex is not new, only easier thanks to technology. The same goes for ordering food. You don’t see panic over that, so why be pressed about this? If you don’t need or want Tinder to be the Seamless for sex, then don’t use it as such. If you’d rather meet people the old fashioned way, don’t use it at all.

For those of us who actually appreciate the dating app, it can be a great way to meet people without a lot of effort. However, it could be a whole lot sweeter for the hook-up crew and those who are swiping for true love—if people used it better. Let me explain.

Picture it: Me, on my iPhone 6 that I drop way too much, scrolling through Tinder looking for, uh, love or something. As I swipe left through a sea of bugawoofs, weirdos, and White guys old enough to have voted for Ronald Reagan, I spot a bae. In my head, I instantly think, “Jesus, let us match. No, I haven’t been to church in a while, but I listen to Mary Mary’s ‘Walking” like er’day. Help me out!”

And he swiped me too! And it’s ON.

Except not much happens afterwards. Why? Because the handsome, but nonetheless useless somebody turns into a less friendly version of Casper the Ghost.

Riddle me this, my virtual boo-seeking-brethren: Why match someone – which signifies some level of interest even if nominal – only to pretend your fingers broke, your phone died, or you suddenly develop a serious case of illiteracy? I am used to having to approach people because I allegedly look “unapproachable” (code for “resting bitch face” and/or they scared and need to go to church) so I already know to make the first move. However, that doesn’t excuse not saying anything at all – even after I take the lead with a greeting.

I mean, if I wanted to be ignored, I’d take this unfriendly face of mine and go to a gay bar and get drunk – and then wait for people to speak to me and share their trifling intentions. (Insert the 100 emoji here. Two or three, if you’re feeling generous.)

If you are someone who engages in the practice of swiping in silence, I want you to know that you’re a horrible person. Not entirely as bad as Donald Trump, but very much on par with the other folks running for the Republican presidential nomination. Yes, I am being judgmental, but I am totally comfortable with that. You deserve this good contempt.

I have more complaints about Tinder.

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