I was reading the homie and legend (gotta start early) Clove’s blog the other day and stumbled across a post about people summing up their entire lives in six words. It’s not as easy as some people would think it is, but I decided to give it a shot only with a different twist.
Michael Jackson: White skin. Korean hair. Alien nose.
When I was like 4 or 5, I had a duck (or rat to some) tail. One day I grabbed some scissors and cut it off. I got whooped for it, but it was worth it. Even I knew that some things needed to be let go. I guess people are feeling nostalgic and want to bring it back. As a matter of fact, a few weeks ago I spotted someone with a flat top at the club. I had one of those, too.
Don’t hate. Anyway, this post isn’t about that wack black splatch in the back of his head. I’m trying to settle something.
Now, I find this song corny, but the person who sent this to me (to laugh at his rat tail) said this song is nice. And when I said it was corny, homie tried to play me on my taste (Beyonce).
I’ve noticed readers here have varied opinions (you know, like humans) so I’m trying to conduct an informal poll.
I’ve never been a big Bobby V. fan anyway, but this song is the worst. “She gon’ let me beep, beep, beep?” We’re describing sex with the noises of a car horn now? What’s next? Describing foreplay with red light, green light? Yeah, yeah…he meant beat, but he’s still corny.
What do ya’ll think? Am I alone or does the honk if your horny anthem have some charm to it?
P.S. Because I know that same person is going to leave a comment calling me a bird, I’m going to need you to read the comments left on the site.
First impressions mean everything. The moment a person develops a perception of you that image is going to stick. You can evolve and prove there’s far more layers to you than one may initially have believed, but that first impression is still embedded in people’s minds. Especially when you have a strong personality; if you’re perceived to be audacious, or in some instances, obnoxious and pompous, the second you break away from that folks won’t know what to make of it.
That’s probably why the reaction to Kanye West’s 808s and Heartbreak has varied so much. I myself needed more than a few listens to conclude how I felt about it. My initial reaction wasn’t hate like so many others; it was more so indifference. For an artist like Kanye West, indifference is probably worse than hate.
It’s not that it’s a bad album; no, not even. But it’s not your typical Kanye – or so I thought. I’ve read reviews that call for Kanye to fall back to braggadocios rhymes that reek of self-absorption. Don’t let the guise of Kanye the auto-tune assisted crooner fool you: The more you listen to this album the faster it dawns on you that Kanye is just as self-absorbed as he ever was.
808s and Heartbreak is a break-up album from the prospective of a person who seemingly places most of the blame on the other person. How much more self-absorbed can you get than that?
The man who never had a double standard he didn’t want to put on wax is still there – just listen to the invasive-girlfriend themed track “Robocop.” Listening to him say (almost whiningly), “You spoiled lil’ LA girl,” (Hi, Alexis), is like watching a crack head turn their nose up at a meth addict. But to write this off as the same old Kanye with T-Pain’s autotune wouldn’t be completely fair to him or the album.
If the news or his recent interviews weren’t clue enough, 808s and Heartbreak sheds light on the obvious: Kanye’s had better days. For people to criticize him for being forthright about that seems selfish. Though the album sounds a lot more pop than it does hip-hop (even more so than previous offerings), that doesn’t mean Kanye ought to throw on the same mask as your typical pop artist would. One look at Britney Spears easily shows you that no matter how well you dress it up, everyone can see past what you’re hiding.
Calling Kanye to not be so much of a downer for fear of alienating listeners who aren’t in the mood is asking him to do something he doesn’t seem comfortable with doing: Lying. As somber as “Bad News,” “Heartless,” and “Coldest Winter” may be, coming from a genre usually centered on ego and libido, I like the idea of Kanye exposing his vulnerabilities. Most stars of his stature are too busy pretending to be invincible. I’m pretty sure Kanye will be more like his old self on future recordings, but for now, I don’t greet 808s and Heartbreak with such vehemence as others seems to. It’s not his best work, but it’s arguably his most honest. For that reason alone I appreciate it.
When recently asked about losing his mother, Kanye blamed himself for entering the music business and moving to California, claiming his mother would have never done such things if not for his success. Just when you wanted to feel sorry for him, he interjected: “But don’t feel sorry for me – I just did a shoot for Louis Vuitton. Don’t worry about me, I’ll be okay in the end.”
For him to seek comfort in the very same materialism that led to his mother’s passing easily sets you back to that first image you had of him. But after listening to the album again and again…and a few more times just to be certain, you get the sense there’s a lot more to him than that. Here’s to hoping second impressions start counting a little more.
Since I don’t care to be told, “You’re going to burn in hell,” I tend to shy away from discussions about religion. I’m not as anti-religion as some of my friends believe me to be, but I know more times than not, if I ever do try to explain my point-of-view, it’s likely I’ll get the “Hell is hot, n-gga” type response so I try not to bother.
From my own experiences, very few people discuss religion in any way that deviates from the typical script, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the guy who prides himself on being atypical would be the one person to talk about faith in a manner I can actually relate to.
“I don’t want to be James Bond. I don’t want to fit into this iconic figure that someone else has made. Just like how I don’t want to be Jesus Christ. My whole life, they’re like, you know, I was raised as a Christian, and they’re like ‘Be Christ-like. Be Christ-like.’ I’m like, ‘No! I don’t wanna fuckin’ be Christ-like. I want to be me-like. I want to be the best me. ‘Cause you’re gonna fall short of being Christ-like and then you’ll never quite be happy. And then, you’ll always feel like you gotta give up 20% of your money to try to buy back some of this happiness. It’s like, ‘No. I just want to be me.”
OK, so I probably wouldn’t word it that way for fear of my mom bitch-slapping me with a book, but thankfully, after realizing he was going to get the clap back from Black folk, Kanye rephrased:
“When I listened back to the New Zealand conference I was like, ‘Whoa this is pretty harsh.’ Sometimes I speak with no filter. I did not mean to be so harsh on the subject of Christianity being that I was a well known Christian. When I was at my mom’s funeral a fucking stranger came up to me and said, ‘I hope you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior so you can see your mother again!’ My entire life, being an African American, Christianity was forced down my throat. Since I was a child, I would ask questions like, ‘So are little babies that can’t speak yet going to hell also?’ I 1,000% believe in God, I believe in Karma, I believe in being a good person. I’m not trying to tell people what they should believe or not believe. To each is his own. I was in situations where someone constantly used Jesus to show me how baaaad a person I was or how not perfect or not Christ-like I was. When I say I don’t want to be Christ-like, I’m saying I’m fine with not being perfect. I’m fine with being a human being. I’m happy with just that.”
I know exactly what’s it’s like to see God and religion used more as a weapon than a source of solace. And I definitely can relate to being a curious kid having all of these questions about God and being told in so many words to shut up.
It took me a long time to realize that I can be a good person without being bound to any particular dogma. Going to church every week doesn’t make you a good person; it makes you religious. The two terms are not mutually exclusive. It’s good to hear someone that looks like me (he would Dale, I would be Chip of the Rescue Rangers) share that opinion.
Before he blew up and ran off at the mouth, I was a burgeoning ‘Ye stan. I remember seeing him at Howard and appreciating him for…I don’t know, just being himself. I really liked him when he put Bush on blast (although I think George W. Bush hates all people).
After awhile you couldn’t help but notice how self-absorbed he was, not to mention how arrogant and sometimes nonsensical some of his statements were. He was being an attention whore for the sake of. It works, but eh. Yet and still he often says things that people don’t say out loud — which is why people either love him or hate him.
I still wonder if he was nursed too long, but I have between this, the AMAs, his interview with The Fader, and his comments about legendary status, I have to say I’m actually interested in hearing what he has to say again.
I only wonder how long it will take Pee Wee West to say something that will turn me off all over again.
Jim Martin is a 63-year-old white man from Georgia. How uncomfortable do you think he is in this picture?
And just who put him on to Jeezy the coke man and G.I. T.I. anyway? His grandkids? Ludacris, I get because he’s done movies (sorry, I doubt Jim saw ATL), but a Democratic senatorial candidate isn’t someone I’d expect to see in the trap.
I guess if Barack isn’t down for using his political capital to get this guy elected, three rappers will suffice in trying to churn out the Black vote.
I would complain, but why bother. People always say rappers don’t do anything to better their communities and here three are engaged in the political process. You can’t be mad at that. I still wonder if that old man left his wallet in his car, though.
Now that these three have hooked up with a would be senator, how long before Sarah Palin gives Frankie and Neffie a ring?
Edit: So Jim Martin lost…decisively. Probably should’ve booked Weezy for an event and asked T-Pain to record a jingle for an ad.
The thing about Kanye West is that while he often speaks the truth you don’t want to acknowledge it because he has such a pompous and annoying way of wording things. In short: This dude proves a message can easily be lost by the messenger.
No matter how profound a given statement of his may be, he still manages to elicit responses like “shut the fuck up.”
To that point:
“Nobody really wants to recognize that Beyoncé is a f***ing living legend and that she is just as great, if not greater, than the artists that we had in the past…that she’s probably greater than Tina Turner.”
Judging from the responses I’ve read online, you would think he said I’ll beat Tina worse than Ike. Already I’ve seen, “If not for Tina, there would be no Beyonce.”
Duh. I don’t think that’s his point, though. Between this and the comments he made at the American Music Awards, I don’t look at him as being disrespectful to Tina Turner and Elvis. Though it’s hard to not argue that music has gone to shit, there are still quality acts out there. And when I hear him say Beyonce is a legend or he wants to be bigger than Elvis, I see it as him messing up legitimate points with his ego. But it doesn’t take away from the truth of his comments.
Like it or not Beyonce will go down as a legend. She is the premiere entertainer of her generation. Sure, I would love for her to be of more depth, but she’s an entertainer — I don’t look to her to explain the meaning of life while shaking her ass. Besides, there are plenty of older acts that are lauded now who never created anything like Songs in the Key of Life.
If people in their 40s and 50s can still break out into the electric slide while they wait for the microwave to go off I don’t see why people won’t be dancing to “Get Me Bodied” in a couple of years.
Whenever I hear people rant about the good old days, and “real artists,” or who’s better than x, y, z I laugh because it’s exactly what the people before them said. Basically: Some people in their 20s and 30s are turning into their parents.
We look at Aretha Franklin as the Queen of Everything, yet you can find a couple of older folks who will tell you she doesn’t have anything on Etta James, or that Gladys Knight’s catalog is better. Some folks swear Florence Ballard trounced Diana Ross, and there’s always some old fool lurking around that swears he was better than Marvin Gaye.
In the end, the narrative is the narrative. Beyonce will go down as a legend, so will Alicia Keys, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson impersonators like Justin Timberlake and upgraded Bobby Browns like Usher.
And even if I don’t agree with it, Kanye might be remembered as one of the biggest voices of generation given the fact that only three major artists these days seem to have an opinion about anything.
More times than not artists aren’t acknowledged for their excellence while they’re at their peak. We like to wait until their two weeks away from death to applaud them, which is why so many older acts way past their prime are given big kudos at the Grammy Awards about two decades too late.
Kanye doesn’t believe he and his peers ought to wait for seniority to be acknowledged if they’re killing it now. Why should they?
Beyonce wants to be taken seriously. It’s evident in how she typically infuses terms like “timeless” and “classic” when describing her creations. Such a technique is derived from the school of thought that suggests if you repeat something enough it becomes true. It’s a flawed way of thinking given it never negates an obvious truth: Just because you say it doesn’t make it true.
That’s why no matter how many times she calls it the “most personal album she’s ever done,” I Am…Sasha Fierce is nothing more than a continuation of the same format used to create her solid debut album and even stronger sophomore offering. Try as she might to parade her catchy and often clever songs as something innovative, her sound is usually a representation of what’s hot at the time – only executed better.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but the methodology won’t get Beyonce the respect she wants. Neither will it make the schmaltzy acoustic-driven ballads found on the first half of her double concept album seem any less impersonal than they are.
The collection fits perfectly into the current trend of R&B artists opting for a watered down pop-leaning sound to help them crossover. Not that Beyonce needs the help in such an endeavor. She’s at the point in her career where practically anything she releases will get immediate airplay. Though such clout usually affords an artist the opportunity to really break the mold and push the envelop with their music, Beyonce instead pushes for songs that will get airplay on adult contemporary stations across the country – making sure whatever three people who have yet to hear of her will finally join the fold.
There’s nothing wrong with that either, but it suggests that the lyrics came from a business plan, not a personal diary. The set does offer highlights like the lead single “If I Were A Boy” and “Smash Into You.” The latter sounds designed for love scenes in teen dramas and ending credits for romantic comedies. There’s also the second single “Halo,” which will have audiences of every persuasion singing-a-long once it’s sent to every radio format across the country.
If you judged the songs on their own, they’re fine for what they are. But if you view them as Beyonce would have you – an inside look into the heart and mind of the “real” Beyonce – you’re left unconvinced. While skillfully crafted and arranged perfectly to highlight Beyoncé’s increasingly impressing voice, the real Beyonce seems vapid and underwhelming. She can’t be that boring, can she?
She’s not as long as she’s calling herself Sasha Fierce. That’s where you’ll find her trademark boldness and playfulness. It’s evident in tracks like the “A Milli” inspired, “Diva,” the play on pornography track, “Video Phone,” and the humility-dissing, “Ego,” where she boasts, “Ego so big, you must admit, I got every reason to feel like I’m that b-tch.”
Sasha Fierce may be sold as “something for the fans,” but if I had to choose which side I felt was the more introspective offering, I’d go with the Sasha for pointing out the biggest truth about Beyonce: She is so guarded to the point she has to downplay her naturally aggressive and sexual side under the guise of an alter ego.
That’s the real Beyonce and that’s what prevents her from the level of artistry she aspires to. As she’s proven with B’Day, Beyonce can take a bathroom break and come out with a good album, so imagine how I Am…Sasha Fierce could’ve sounded if she spent a year actually having life experiences over working with producers and songwriters creating them for her.
It’s not that I Am…Sasha Fierce is a bad album; it’s that you know Beyonce is capable of being of just as personable as she wants you to believe she is if she dug a little deeper. Her performances will be good, and this album will sell like the others, but will you really feel the lyrics she’s reciting to you?
Ironically, the few songs where you don’t have to wonder aren’t on her album; they’re on the soundtrack of her next film. One song in particular, “Trust In Me,” proves Beyonce can use her voice to draw empathy. Then again, it’s Beyonce channeling Etta James – yet another instance of her entering the recording booth with a character in mind.