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I like Anthony Hamilton, but who told him it was okay to cover Jodeci’s “Freek ‘N You?” When I turned to my friend, Devon, for answers, she said, “Not the streets.” Great answer.

There is something about this that makes me unnecessarily angry. I played this a few times to see if I’m being unreasonable. I probably am, but it doesn’t matter. Still quietly raging about this.

It’s not that Anthony Hamilton cannot sing. I love his voice and his first album will forever be that knock. Unfortunately, I’m just too used to Anthony Hamilton singing about songs that center on fish grease and broken hearts to take anything that deviates from that seriously.

Well, “Float” is kind of sexy in like a I’m 53, still got it and I’m about to smash a 34-year-old who can pass for 28 and a half sort of way. But he’s not like Jodeci sexy. Yes, it’s K-Ci Hailey singing most of the time but I always envision Mr. Dalvin – peak bae – when I turn them on. This makes perfect sense. Do not question me.

Please don’t do this anymore, Anthony Hamilton. Maybe cover D’Angelo since you sang background for him. Or, if you’re that pressed to cover Jodeci, do “Love U 4 Life.” That’s your lane. Speed through it, sir.

Since we’re on Jodeci, I wasn’t disappointed with the Jodeci reunion at the 2014 Soul Train Awards as some were, mostly because I kept my expectations low. For one, all of the members of Jodeci are alive, which is no easy feat given most of their post-The Show, the After-Party, the Hotel lives. Each member actually was able to stand on his own two feet throughout the duration of the performance. The last time I saw Devante, he was drunk and under a table at a Subway in Burbank as outed by TMZ. Life hit that man the hardest given he is basically Timbaland Sr. with Frankie Lymon’s money troubles.

No, they didn’t sing live, opting instead to sing to vocals recorded over 20 years ago. To be fair, we probably didn’t want to hear those rusty ass pipes. Not to mention, lip syncing on Soul Train is a time honored tradition. Maybe they felt like being purists the night this show as filmed.

One issue, though, was that the group did not include “Feenin'” in their roundup of hits. Someone else brought this to my attention. I mean, I like “Feenin’,” but if it up to me, I would have had them perform “Let’s Go Through The Motions.” Who remembers them performing that in Who’s The Man? Stop lying. You remember that movie!

I would’ve also added “My Heart Belongs To You,” “Time & Place,” and then “You Got It” — only because Wendy Williams is at the beginning of the intro. Whew, look at far mama has gone.

Yeah, like why not “Feenin'” or anything I mentioned? B.o.B. may be the bae, but no one wants to hear a new Jodeci track with him on it. If there was any disappointing portion of the performance, it was that. The rest we just have show a little compassion for. We could’ve ended up with like JoJo, Mr. Dalvin without a leg, and Chris Brown and Trey Songz’s kid brother as stand-ins.

Celebrate what you can sometimes, beloveds.

 

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My initial reaction to TV Land’s decision to cut The Cosby Show from its lineup was mostly tied to the notion that Bill Cosby is not being afforded the same luxury as his white counterparts like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, who continue to see their films aired and celebrated even when we’re given detailed reminders of their sexual allegations. However, when it comes to Bill Cosby, it’s a bit more complicated than my knee-jerk reaction to the cable network’s decision suggests.

If you go on social media, you will see tweets like, “Remember..at one time Bill Cosby was about to buy the NBC network..a Black man with any kind of real POWER is not cool in America!!!!” Likewise, “They can’t never let a Black man be successful & respected by all at the same time….don’t try & dirty Bill Cosby’s name bruh.”

Then there outlets posing leading questions such as “We see Bill Cosby, a Black man, being accused by multiple white women of rape. Is he automatically guilty because of the racial layer?” Even some misguided white people have entered the fray, arguing that Cosby is being mistreated while white women like Lena Dunham are being let off the hook.

Some refuse to believe the ever-increasing number of women who have accused Bill Cosby of raping them due to the idea that this is nothing more than a concerted effort to bring an iconic Black man down. An iconic Black man who presented an image of a Black family that means so much to so many – exactly why the Black-focused networks like the BET-owned Centric and Magic Johnson-founded Aspirehave decided to keep airing episodes of The Cosby Show.

No one can deny the reality that Black people – even famous, wealthy ones – are often treated more harshly than white people. Nonetheless, these Bill Cosby apologists conveniently leave out the part that Bill Cosby has long been accused of raping women over the years and he’s only now really facing public backlash for it. So if this was truly about the media “just trying to assassinate another Black man character” as some have suggested, why did it take so long?

What’s happening to Bill Cosby now is not an affront on the Black man. This is a testament to how one powerful man can no longer flex his muscle to shut people up in an age where new media and social media drive the conversation in ways a 77-year-old celebrity is not used to. Sure, TV Land’s decision is harsh, but it will likely be reversed the same way networks have returned to airing episodes of 7thHeaven despite its show’s patriarch, played by actor Stephen Collins, confessing to child molestation.

This isn’t about racism so much as it is a lingering lassiez faire attitude many have about sexual assault. There is not enough sympathy in the world for victims of rape and there’s even less when the accused rapist is an entertainer. People will put their entertainment value ahead of a person’s humanity. It is why Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, and yes, Bill Cosby, have managed to amass fortunes for their art with only small blemishes to their legacies.

It is why R. Kelly continues to have a career despite the charges leveled against him. This is a man who has been accused of raping children for several years and has responded by being just as sexually explicit in his creative works than ever before. If we go by the logic that Bill Cosby’s current media narrative can be attributed to racial politics, than why is R. Kelly still relevant? As much as many of us love 12 Play, his contributions to culture are far less important that Bill Cosby and he doesn’t possess a fraction of the prestige Cosby has.

Read the rest at theGrio.

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Consider the optics: A man, who sits at the intersection of domesticated Luther Vandross and a Black grandmother’s couch, is shouting, “I’m not gay no more. I am DELIVERED. I don’t like mens no more. I like wimen. Wimen! Wimen!” Already, there has been a dance remix crafted from the now-viral hit’s infamous quote.

Based on the looks of him, this dude couldn’t find his way into a vagina if he went by Google Maps. What follows his testimony is just as hilarious. After he is delivered from biology through the notion of divine order, he is then greeted by a bunch of men who proceed to join him dancing in celebration. That is what every ex-gay man needs: A bevy of individuals with penises happily crowded around him.

The spectacle only worsens after the pastor announces that God told him to give the man a $100 because he’s no longer gay. It’s crock logic about how sexuality works, coupled with a capitalistic-centered reward: pure comedy for those who don’t fancy themselves as Biblical literalists (including those of convenience).

Once the laughter fades, though, reality sets in. This is a person who has been beaten down week after week by his religion, which ideally, should only serve the purpose of uplifting him. Frustration soon follows once you consider how this reality is the same for many men who sit in church pews each week to be told that they are an abomination. Or “sissies” in bow ties. Or “faggots” in lavender. That their existence is a mistake, and their natural urges, perverse.

I know this feeling, as do many other gay people who’ve sat in church pews and faced similar harsh circumstances. You want to reach out and declare that it doesn’t have to be this way. That you don’t have to accept this rhetoric as your truth because none of it’s true. It’s neither true from a theological standpoint or just plain basic common sense about how humans truly operate and have operated since civilization.

You want to make sense of the senselessness you see and let those self-loathing gay Christians know that Jesus is not waiting somewhere with a flashlight, itching to point them in the direction of genitalia different from theirs in order to save their souls. Sometimes, you can convince people. You tell them to read the Bible themselves. You direct them to documentaries from actual religious clergymen and scholars who can help them rectify their faith with their sexual attraction.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

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Iggy Azalea is in the middle of one of the biggest breakout years we’ve seen from a female rapper in a long time. But along with her success she has also been dogged by some critics who accuse her of cultural appropriation and rumors of not writing her lyrics. T.I. is not happy about this.

Despite all the criticism however, as it stands now, Iggy has accomplished nothing but milestones in 2014. Her anthem “Fancy” earned the honor as Billboard’s top Song of the Summer for 2014, with a strong follow up hit in “Black Widow,” featuring Rita Ora. And the gigs continue to pile in: she’s got a job in TV as host of MTV’s revamped “House of Style,” already announced her first foray into film, and landed a shoe line in partnership with Steve Madden.

Criticism has not curbed Iggy’s success, so why not let naysayers keep talking? According to T.I., who offered his protégé a key co-sign at a pivotal point in her career, her detractors don’t have “the right.” In his mind, he thinks there’s a hint of hypocrisy in black people scolding Iggy.

In an interview with theGrio, T.I. had this to say about Iggy’s critics:

She is a white rapper, but she’s also a phenomenally talented and gifted performer. I think that in this day and age… 2014, color, race, creed, gender… for us to use those stereotypical things to separate us or use it as an excuse to not like something… I think that makes you a wack person.

If there’s anything wack, it’s the reality that Iggy can embody black cultural mores and customs and maintain broader reach, but the likes of Nicki Minaj feel compelled to sing pop ballads about potions, starships, and super basses in order to capture that same audience. The same goes for other black acts. Sam Smith and Adele can be praised for their “soul,” but Jazmine Sullivan won’t get the same spins on those same pop radio stations.

T.I. addressed Iggy detractors again in a separate interview with Complex News:

Me knowing her, knowing where she comes from—for real, the whole racist thing, that’s American—we forget, she’s not American. So the whole Black, white, color divided thing, it isn’t a part of her DNA like it is here in America. It’s just ignorant to me. In this day and age, to be a race of people who are demanding equality and speaking out on injustices and wanting to be treated fairly, to stand up and do the exact same thing in opposite to someone unwarranted for no reason, it’s hypocritical. I’m a ride with her.

As much as I enjoy T.I. the rapper, I can do without T.I. the faux philosopher, post-racial theorist, and thinker. To say that racism is exclusive to America is like saying sunshine only exists in southern California. If there’s any person who can attest to the silliness of such a notion, it’s the Aborigines of Australia.

Read more at The Urban Daily.

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Whenever people argue “If Black artists learn to stand there and sing like Adele and Sam Smith,” I think of one person: Jazmine Sullivan. Then I think of others. Luke James. Jill Scott. Ledisi. Countless others. I don’t have a problem with Adele or Sam Smith. Adele seems absolutely lovely, and when I feel like swimming into an oceanof melancholy to the tune of a British accent, she’s the second person I think of (Amy Winehouse is forever the first).

And while I feel like Sam Smith is to gay politics what Don Lemon is to conversations about race, his gifts as a singer and songwriter are undeniable. Still, when it comes to chatter about the plight of contemporary R&B artists and their difficulty netting the successes of their white peers, too many gloss over the reality that Black artists are in a radio climate that calls for Black music mostly from those who aren’t actually Black. Hello, Iggy Azalea. Hi, Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse.” What up, though, Adele and Sam Smith?

It’s not white artist’s fault that they get this added bonus, but we all should be more honest about what’s going on.

Earlier in the year, Tank, an R&B veteran who should’ve known better, argued in an interview earlier this year that “…Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake are leading the charge in R&B music. We can’t hate! We can’t hate on what it is! The truth is what it is. And Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake are doing R&B music better than us. We need to catch up.”

I imagine God had to get on the megaphone to tell Marvin Gaye and Michael Jackson to tone down their laughter before they wake up all of heaven after reading such bull. No matter, though, because similar cases have been made for Adele and Sam Smith. Anyone who buys into the idea that white artists who fall under the umbrella of “blue-eyed soul” are being more true to the art form than many contemporary Black acts, and thus are attaining more success, are being willfully obtuse.

Jazmine Sullivan recently released a beautiful, soul-wrenching record in “Forever Don’t Last.” I can confidently say that there’s no chance in hell that pop radio will play it. They would if Adele released it, though. A similar case could be made about any Sam Smith single and [insert R&B artist who can actually sing’s name here].

Read the rest at VIBE.

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I met him in a drag bar in the West Village on one of the first warm days of the year. While I certainly get the appeal of drag queens, it’s not really one of my favorite forms of entertainment. But I didn’t want to be a spoiler so I watched some really large Italian man in makeup quote Trina’s rap lyrics in exchange for laughter and a few dollar bills. Right around the time I thought to leave, he walked in. And we immediately locked eyes. We gazed at each other for an hour until I noticed something: He was with someone else.

How long was the other dude there? The hell if I know, and to this day, I still don’t particularly care. I do remember mouthing off, “Is that your boyfriend?” To which he nodded yes and I said, “I’m sorry.” He told me it was okay and we continued to study one another from a distance. Since I’m never approached, I’m used to going to men first if interested. So when his boyfriend went to the restroom, I went for it.

But as I made my way to his table his boyfriend came back, and I swiftly turned my trifling ass around. To the amusement of my company, I was greeted by them with the following: “WIG!” “Kim Zolciak!” and “Close your legs to married men!”

I’m not usually this guy. In fact, I hate people like this. But I wanted to find out more. I followed him to the restroom line to talk, hoping he would find my Southern speech, now coated in alcohol, charming enough to give me his number. He did.

After we exchanged information, we looked into each other’s eyes for a few minutes. Ho shit or not, it was sweet. I could have tried to do more—kiss him, feel him up, et. al—but since New York City bathrooms are full of bed bugs with gonorrhea, I decided to cut it short.

The next day, we set a date. I’m not much of a dater. In fact, even at the age of 30, I’ve never had a real boyfriend. This tends to frighten some people—even other gays—given it suggests that something is “wrong” with me. I shared this with him during our first date. And, really, I didn’t anticipate much to come from us meeting each other one on one. If anything, I pegged him to be some guy who was having relationship problems and wanted to “see what was out there” before he got scared and rushed back to his man.

I have been in love before, but my 20s were spent either ducking intimacy or pursing it in unattainable men. Men that were in denial about their sexuality, their feelings for me, or a gumbo consisting of the two that would’ve alerted a saner person to run away. Coupled with my childhood experience—a cocktail of depression, violence, and watching two people clearly not meant for each other suffer from their failure to stop being codependent—I am admittedly fucked up.

But he enjoyed every bit of it.

He knew what it was like to grow up in a violent home. Despite being younger than me, he had more experience with boyfriends, but still seemed to struggle with letting people in. Yet he was letting me in very quickly and I was happy to return the favor. Then the strangest thing happened on our first date: he grabbed my hand at the dinner table and held it the entire time. I’d never been open with affection like that before. I recently opened up about my fear of sex in response to very early exposure to AIDS, but I’m not a virgin by any stretch of the imagination, and the sad reality is, I’m probably far more comfortable with you holding my dick than I am with you holding my hand in public.

Days later we had another date that started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Once again, he made me hold his hand. Then we kissed in public. We eventually left for the second part of the date at my apartment, where he cooked for me. We had dinner and dessert ready, but ended up naked not watching Boomerang, our bodies spread across my bed. In the time we spent together—more dinners, meeting up to walk around the city and enjoy each other’s company, and coming to spend my birthday with me before I left to go get drunk and dance to Beyoncé with my close friends —we were constantly all over each other. But it wasn’t just sexual—and that ultimately became the problem.

When I realized I was starting to fall in love with this person, I tried to exercise as much self-awareness about the situation as possible before losing control. I looked myself in the mirror and quoted Monica’s “Sideline Ho,” the best song from the painfully underrated album The Makings Of Me: “Ho. Ho. Sideline ho. You’s a ho. You’s a ho. Sideline ho.” I also sang a little bit of MoKenStef’s “He’s Mine” while cruising through both his and his boyfriend’s Facebook pages. I began to make peace with my reality.

Read the rest at Gawker.

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Whenever I meet someone from my hometown of Beyoncéland—or Houston, if ya formal—I typically greet that person with eagerness and the kind of warmth only a real southerner can understand. Then I ask a very important follow up question: What part of Houston are you from?

For those of you are unfamiliar, Houston is a mammoth of a city. In terms of size, Houston is like pre-workout regiment Rick Ross while the rest of the nation’s major cities are Jhené Aiko by comparison. For further clarity, Dan Solomon recently wrote inTexas Monthly, “A trip from Northwest Houston to Southwest Houston, in other words, is the equivalent of a trip from the Pacific Ocean into the middle of the San Francisco Bay.” So as large as the H is, if you tell me you’re from Houston and then when asked for specifics namedrop The Woodlands or League City, there is no other conclusion but this: Your ass is not from Houston. Trust me, other native Houstonians feel me on this.

I’ve been told I’m “rude” for pointing this out, but since my finger is already wagging, I may as well continue “The Mr. Waggering Finger World Tour” and air additional grievances.

I don’t have a problem with major city metropolitan residents. More times than not, you’ve probably lived the life Aunt Helen wanted for Will when she shipped him out of Philly, or at the very least, the kind of middle class home James Evan died trying to get for Thelma and his two annoying sons. Your parents should be applauded for that. Nonetheless, claim your actual city of residence as opposed to what’s 60-90 minutes away.

The same goes for people who say they’re from ATLANTA (very few of the actual residents of that city acknowledge the T’s existence) when it’s more like Alpharetta.

Now, the only thing worse than pretending to be from Houston when you’re really from Beaumont (an entirely different town over yonder on I-10) is to be from a nicer part of Houston, but try to front like you’re from the hood. God bless Beyoncé, but she is part of the reason why so many people want to act like they’re from Third Ward.

Read the rest at Complex.

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As a decent enough human being, I, like many of you, try very hard to give people the benefit of the doubt. Yet, the Internet makes that extremely difficult as many of your cousins, ex-classmates, and significant others (and side pieces) prove themselves to be just as gullible and uninformed as you assumed most to be. There are many fine examples of this across social media, but the one that vexes me most – and serves as the central theme of this post – is posting fake ass news stories and foolishly passing them off as real news.

Y’all.

Al Gore didn’t invent the Internet for you to access via someone else’s Wi-Fi to do this. But instead of just being condescending and insulting, I’m going to also offer tips on how you and yours can tell when an article is fake. After we’re done here, promise me you’ll stop doing that shit. And you’re welcome.

Since people love conspiracies – especially about life-threatening diseases – there is always some site that Bill Nye, The Science Guy would spit on trying to sucker you into clicking their link and boosting their Adsense dollars courtesy of some story about the man hiding the cure for AIDS in Scrooge McDuck’s vault of gold coins. Don’t act like a Republican when it comes to science related stories. I beg of you.

Read the rest at Complex.

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There is no polite way to say to a friend, “I enjoy you just fine in person, but as far as your online persona goes, I want to reimagine Kirk Franklin’s ‘Stomp’ all over your phone and whatever other product you own with Internet access. Why? Because I fucking hate you online, bitch.”

Thanks to the implosion of social media and our collective crackhead-like addiction to it— combined with the growing need to overshare—I’m learning things about my friends that I would’ve never known, or at the very least, would’ve taken a very long time to notice.

For example, while I’m not as averse to having respectful conversations about religion and politics with my friends, I’m a choosey lover when it comes to that, and even then I prefer to keep such chatter to a minimum. And yet, whenever I go to Facebook (in a time machine to share my articles), my homepage might as well be called the “Hallelujah For Hosanna” bulletin board. That’s fine for the most part, but there’s always that freak for Jesus who wants to go Commando Christian and thump everyone upside the head with their Bible. Where is Moses to part your ass from my feed?

Worse are the people who know as much about politics as a three-hour old baby. Then again, I suppose I’ll take that person over the YouTube false prophets who swear Satan co-wrote“Partition” and is trying to take over the world, one D’ussé purchase at a time. There are too many libraries still open for anyone to be so damn stupid.

Then there’s Twitter, where diarrhea of the thoughts has a daily orgy.

Friend, I hate that you’re casually sexist, homophobic, or in some cases, racist.

Friend, I hate that you think being a mean-spirited, miserable asshole is amusing. I’m sure the other mean-spirited, miserable assholes are coaching you on, but you’re not going to want to share a cot in hell with them.

Friend, I hate that you think you’re Iyanla Vanzantwhen, in real life, you’re about two mistakes away from ending up on MaurySteve Harvey, or some other daytime talk show for people who need to cut out the bullshit and get right.

Friend, I absolutely hate that you’re one of those people who shames broke people. If I went by Twitter, I would assume everyone is sipping the finest Kool-Aid from diamond encrusted red solo cups as they tweet from your Italian villa. Do you know how hard it is for me to hold back the urge to say, “How are you talking about broke folks when you’re paycheck to paycheck like my ass?” Or in some cases, credit card scam to credit card scam.

Read the rest at Complex.

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At one point do you look in the mirror and say, “I’m too old damn for this bullshit?” I will always and forever cherish Mariah Carey. I love this woman the way she loves all things prepubescent; the way Hoda and Kathie Lee love wine o’clock; the way Rick Ross loves a good tall tale (insert aggressive grunt here). As a matter of fact, I am singing “Honey” aka a legendary ditty about going down while writing this. My dedication to Mimi is unwavering, but I did look at this pictures and feel a little sad.

I know, I know. Mariah is who she is. I get it. Still, girl, what? Leave it to Mariah Carey to challenge the limits of my progressivism.

Why does she look like the old whore of Candyland?

I’m all for a woman of a certain age owning her sexuality. Mariah is getting older, but that doesn’t mean “that pussy old, that pussy creaky.” Yet, here I sit stumped. Mimi, a bra made out of Valentine’s Day candy? I mean, that’s probably fun for a horny diabetic ready for a night of sex themed around “titties and treats,” though I’m not sure this should’ve made its way to the ‘gram.

Like, when is someone going to say, “Mariah, you’re not Blanche Devereaux yet, but you’re about two or three birthdays away from Samantha Jones territory. Maybe it’s time to stop dressing like a tween gon’ wild?”

I guess not anytime soon. What is the theme of this video? Tinkerbell’s sex dreams? Oh, Mariah. That said, I do like her new single “We Still Belong Together On The Top Of The Charts” “You’re Mine (Eternally).”

I also absolutely adore her in this interview with “The Breakfast Club.” She is so ridiculous and it’s always pleasant in radio interviews.

Not so much select visuals. I suppose you have to take the good with the bad. Why do I get the feeling she’ll be swimming in a pool full of Sweet Tarts in her 50s? Wait, why am I even acting surprised by any of this? Mariah Carey is a part crooner, part cashew. I would love it if someone would reel it in, but that’s like mission improbable.

Lamb forever, but…oh, fuck it.

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