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It’s not Madea money, but as far as box offices grosses go, Moonlight is off to a very solid start.

 Based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue, Barry Jenkins’ beautiful queer coming-of-age drama made $414,740 its opening weekend. Screening in just four theaters, that comes out to an impressive $103,675 per-location-average.

As Forbes ’ Scott Mendelson notes, it’s one of only 26 film to earn more than $100,000 per theater, and one of even fewer that wasn’t an early Disney release.

This weekend, Moonlight expands to theaters in Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco and Washington D.C., before, eventually, making its way across the country.

Of course, a strong showing in L.A. or New York does not guarantee a film will yield similar results nationwide.

So, a plea: go see it.

Help Moonlight make its $5 million budget back and then some. Prove that now, more than ever, there is a need—and an audience—for wider representation of LGBT people of color.

Whenever there is a black-centered project on a mainstream platform—be it a film or TV show—there is a sense of urgency. Those of us that are black and aware know how quickly major studios and television networks can dispose of us. We know our visions are quickly relegated to the “niche” category should we dare include more than a speck of color.

The burden is even even greater when you’re black and not straight: So often we as gay people of color are told our stories don’t have wide appeal. Sadly, even some who purport to care about African-American narratives don’t share that same sense of urgency if the story focuses on something other than straight men.

Read the rest at NewNowNext.

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When will everyone learn that when you go against Beyoncé’s wishes, only failure and fury will follow? There are rumors floating that Lifetime is considering making a film based on the life of the finest Creole to twerk the earth. A source tells the Daily Star, “Beyoncé is arguably the world’s biggest star and has a story Lifetime thinks is too compelling to ignore.”

Oh, please reconsider.

Of course, British tabloids are notorious for lying like hell, but when you factor in the reality that the network is making a film about Britney Spears, there is legitimate reason to fear. And boo. And hiss. In that order. Word to Momma Dee.

To give them a lil’ teaspoon of credit, Lifetime has come a long way with its original movies, notably the ones with Negroes in them.

With This Ring and A Day Late and a Dollar Short, respectively, were well-made and enjoyable. Each of those were based on novels, however, which meant they had rich material to work with and, more or less, authors who wouldn’t let the network take their works and ruin them. When it comes to Lifetime biopics, that’s where the compliments about Lifetime original movies go to die a slow, excruciating death.

The Aaliyah biopic was equal parts absurd and abysmal, and the one made about Whitney Houston released a year later was not absolutely horrible, but pretty damn bad all the same. Now, Toni Braxton’s biopic, Unbreak My Heart, was a fast ride in terms of storytelling, but nonetheless enjoyable. The key difference between the Braxton biopic and the other two, however, was Braxton’s involvement. Once again, if someone who is the root of the source material is involved, a Lifetime movie will be OK or surprisingly good.

To that end, we can all easily infer that Blue Ivy’s mama wants no parts of this project.

The film is said to be using J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story for “inspiration.” In other words, the plan is to use a book Beyoncé didn’t want out for source material—only annoying her even more. As an original member of the Beyhive, I’m now worried about whether my even mentioning that book is a sin.

Forgive me, Beyoncé. I only wrote it to shade it. Amen. Uh oh, uh oh, oh no no.

This source explained: “They know they may receive some pushback for digging into some of her darker moments, but believe her story must be told.” And: “It could ruffle a few feathers, but finally people might get a sense of the real Beyoncé.”

Here’s what’s going to happen: Beyoncé will likely have this project shut down and cleanse the universe of this ugliness. If that miraculously doesn’t happen, this movie will be raggedy as hell. Again, Lifetime has its cute original-movie moments, but this is Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. Lifetime can’t handle that splendor.

Beyoncé is Houston, Texas. Lifetime is Tyler, Texas. Beyoncé is a luxurious weave plucked directly from a Malaysian handpicked by God, not a weave bun from the gas station that you can clip in. Beyoncé is worthy of a cinematic masterpiece if and when she decides to have a movie based on her life made, not what Lifetime would offer, which is more or less the moviemaking equivalent of cold General Tso’s chicken ordered four days ago.

Read the rest at The Root.

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As the creator of The Wire, David Simon enjoys a certain degree of praise—if not deification—for addressing how the drug war affected the city of Baltimore, and by extension, multiple cities across America. Simon’s work highlighted how that war was racist and exercised a certain level of social and class control on all it was waged against. It highlighted the systemic failures of government and law enforcement on black people—failures not typically analyzed and depicted in mass media.

But for all the good work he did with The Wire, his other show Treme, and as a journalist before going into television, it does not absolve him from wrongdoing. You can advocate on behalf of black people and still wrong black people. Simon did that yesterday with a tweet, and then several other tweets.

 

David Simon made a mistake that offended black people, but instead of going with repentance, he opted for defiance and condescension. If he were incapable of the former, one wishes he had just dropped his phone in the toilet. It certainly would have done more for his public image this week.

White people can never say “nigga” without backlash. Because they are white. White people, especially if they are male and particularly if they are rich, are virtually afforded every known privilege in this world—minus the inability to say “nigga” without pissing black people off. You would think living with slight pauses during select moments on rap songs would be less challenging for most, yet here we are again.

After immediately being met with criticism, Simon tweeted:

 

Nigga, shut up.

He then added: “If context of its sarcasm on Sean Hannity being chosen interlocutor to black voters is ignored, then yes, be enraged. Can’t help.”

Simon kept using the word “interlocutor” as if it made his actions any less frustrating to black people. Simon also wrote, “Use of inappropriate racial vernacular was EXACT metaphor for use of inappropriate racial medium by DT. Gotta stand on context.” No, you need to never use “nigga,” white man.

Black people are not a metaphor. We are human beings. Nigger means something to us, and for those of us who use nigga, it means something totally different, and it is a colloquialism that is completely ours. Simon did not use nigga in a script for a black actor; he used it himself to make some larger point. In his mind, he thinks he’s advocating for black people, but if he can’t respect black people’s feelings, that says everything you need to know about him in this moment.

There’s also a bit of irony in Simon chastising Sean Hannity for leaving out black voices in a forum on race and then dismissing the feelings of black people. In that respect, they stand on two separate wings of the same fundamental belief that they alone get to dictate how we feel and how we process our thoughts and feelings. And after one too many Black Twitter users challenged Simon, he shifted to Trump and Syria.

What he did there was retreat from his purported defense of black people back to whiteness. In some write-ups about Simon’s tweet, I’ve seen musings such as, “This is David Simon, creator of The Wire, vocal critic of bad things like the war on drugs and mass incarceration, the wokest of the woke. He’s supposed to know better, man.”

My ongoing annoyance with the growing online obsession of white people who are “woke” is majorly rooted in wondering why people get so much credit for simply managing to step outside of their bubbles. That annoyance then segues into suspicion because no matter how politically aware one claims to be or how down one is assumed, that person is still white. They can always opt out of their “wokeness” and go back to sleep. The same goes for all of Simon’s online apologists on Twitter, who, too, felt compelled to explain to black people how they ought to feel.

Read the rest at Complex.

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In 2016, the year of our Lemonade, is it really that big a deal to have had sex with a celebrity? It doesn’t happen to the average person, but to disclose that information as if you are a special snowflake isn’t remarkable—especially after books like Karrine Steffans’ Confessions of a Video Vixen, reality shows like Basketball Wives and Love & Hip Hop, Internet message boards like Lipstick Alley, and gossip outlets like The Shade Room.

There is an insatiable need for all things celebrity, but declaring you smashed someone famous and are therefore worthy of special recognition feels as old as the days you needed a college email account to join Facebook. Still, to 20-year-old Brazilian college student Jady Duarte and the tabloids that enable her, it was a worthy tale. Duarte gave an interview—excuse me, an EXCLUSIVE interview—to The Daily Mail about how she had sex with Olympian Usain Bolt.

According to her, he “pestered her” for sex using the Google Translate app. Breaking news: A man who wants to have sex in a foreign country uses technology to do so. Moreover, Bolt apparently snuck Duarte into the Olympic Village “under the noses of security.” And this just in: Duarte claims that Bolt insisted on listening to Rihanna’s “Work” during sex. So he likes to have sex to music. Ohmigod, next think you’ll tell me he ejaculated during sexual intercourse, too!

Duarte went on to express disappointment that Bolt did not keep his alleged promise to take her on another “date.” “I really thought we had something going,” she said. “But now I can see that he picks up women as quickly as he picks up gold medals.”

Girl. Girl. Girl. Did you really think this? If so, email me and let me create a Spotify and/or Apple Music playlist for you. I want you to never be that gullible in this life again.

I say this because she admittedly knew who the Bolt was before they had sex. And based on this story, she knew she could cash in on having sex with him. If that is the case, she could’ve easily Googled more intel along the way to find out he had a girlfriend, too, thus confirming their tryst was a one night stand. Consensual sex between two adults is just that, but knowing a situation for what it is might save you a lot of time, or in Duarte’s case, fake heartbreak for a story.

I do not begrudge Duarte for having sex with Bolt. Bolt having a girlfriend and cheating on her with Duarte is his problem and their issue. People have the right to lead lives that mirror SWV songs. But I am curious as to whether or not this moment of attention is worth an eternity of her Google searches being largely centered on the night she smashed a famous athlete.

Read the rest at Complex.

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If you were Nate Parker’s publicist, how drunk would you be right now?

Then again, after reading Parker’s remarks to Variety and Deadline about past accusations of rape, one wonders if he even has one—an effective one anyway. “Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life,” Parker explained to Variety. “It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.”

Parker essentially repeats his seemingly prepared statements in his separate interview with Deadline. That interview, though, is far more overt in its attempts to assist Parker in squashing controversy before the release of his directorial debut, Birth of a Nation. Its co-authors include rather dubious lines like “Why would an incident that ended in Parker’s acquittal nearly two decades ago be at all relevant in a movie that took place in Antebellum Virginia?”

This is the traditional Hollywood machine at work. For so long, it has been able to masterly diffuse any potential backlash towards creatives whose private acts threaten their professional work and movie studios’ bottomlines. However, it is a new day; one in which social media has amplified the voices of those traditionally drowned out. After both interviews ran, subsequent reports claimed executives of Fox Searchlight, which is distributing Parker’s film, are “scrambling” to deal with the aftermath, reportedly taking “a wait and see approach to a proposed ambitious release plan that had called for extensive outreach to church groups, college campuses and prominent Hollywood figures.”

They can wait and see all they’d like, but the damage is done. Parker may have decided to address an issue he admittedly knew was heading his way, but he did so in cavalier fashion to his own detriment. The same goes for Parker’s former college roommate and co-writer of The Birth of a Nation, Jean Celestin, who told Deadline: “This was something that I experienced as a college student 17 years ago and was fully exonerated of. I have since moved on and been focusing on my family and writing career.”

Both Parker and Celestin are noticeably careful with their phrasing. To be found not guilty and exonerated of charges does not necessarily amount to innocence. Of all those who have already taken to Parker’s defense, I find it equal parts amusing and alarming that Black men have been so quick to suddenly cite the court system. This is the same court system that told us Trayvon Martin’s killer was not guilty; that Tamir Rice’s killer was not deserving of an indictment; that no one should face any consequences for the death of Freddie Gray.

We know the justice system will fail Black and Brown people when they fall victim to agents of the state, or in George Zimmerman’s case, a coward wearing the drag of law enforcement, but the justice systemfails the victims of sexual assault just as routinely.

In the case of the 18-year-old woman who accused Parker and Celestin of raping her in their apartment after a night of drinking, details from the case do suggest she was failed. Parker was ultimately acquitted of the charges in 2001, but much of that had to do with the accuser admitting that the two had consensual sex previously—which says a lot more about a failure to recognize consent is on a case by case basis more than anything. As for Celestin, he was convicted only to have that conviction overturned with no retrial due to the accuser not wanting to testify again. However, she sued the university and was awarded a $17,500 settlement out of court.

For those who mercilessly brush these allegations aside, I invite you to read the testimonies of eyewitnesses during the trial. Then read the transcript of a phone conversation Parker had with the alleged victim. Parker talks about some traumatizing moment of his life, but read the trauma in those documents and who is responsible. Then remember Parker’s alive while his accuser committed suicide in 2012. Her death certificate states that she suffered “major depressive disorder with psychotic features, PTSD due to physical and sexual abuse, polysubstance abuse.”

Her brother told Variety, “If I were to look back at her very short life and point to one moment where I think she changed as a person, it was obviously that point.”

Those asking why Parker’s rape case wasn’t made a bigger issue in the past, know that it’s not a riddle. With wider attention comes more extensive looks into one’s background—especially if you are the centerpiece of a major film release that plans to launch an expansive Oscar campaign in the months ahead. It works the same with presidential candidates.

Yet, some would argue that Parker is the victim, purportedly because“they don’t want the story of Nat Turner to be released.” Who is they? White folks? The same white folks that gave Nate Parker $17.5 million for The Birth of a Nation? The same ones actively protecting their investment by trotting him to the press in the first place? Oh.

If there’s one thing men of every color can agree on, it is often sadly the disregard of women and autonomy over their bodies.

 

Read the rest at Complex.

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Justin Bieber didn’t have to delete his Instagram account the other day, after he asked his fans Sunday night to stop being so mean to Sofia Richie, whom he is reportedly dating. (Beliebers can be quite vicious.)

Because what followed that – ex-girlfriend Selena Gomez decided to treat his mentions like the Shade Room – would not have happened if he followed my simple social media rule: block your exes immediately.

“If you can’t handle the hate then stop posting pictures of your girlfriend lol – it should be special between you two only. Don’t be mad at your fans. They love you,” Gomez wrote.

An internet tempest ensued, which ended with Bieber deleting his account and, I don’t know, making sea levels rise with the overflow of tears from fans around the world. Then Gomez issued a mea culpa, taking to Snapchat to write, “What I said was selfish and pointless.” Yes, girl. 100 emoji. But you shouldn’t have been able to weigh in at all.

In the dark ages before broadband and social media, once a couple ended a relationship, typically people were done. Sure, every so often there might be a letter mailed, a phone call made, a text message sent or an email drafted, but nothing that contained the possibility of constant interaction. If you date someone and it doesn’t work out but you keep following their social media accounts, you are prone to see mention of them just about daily.

Maybe, if you aren’t ready to cut the digital cord, you can mute them on Twitter and unfollow them on Facebook. But when it comes to Instagram, you are stuck with them. You can scroll by, but as Selena Gomez has shown us, you may fall victim to your ex being messy and live for drama on your timeline.

I’ve done this plenty of times. Sometimes when you’re done dating a person, they want to “stay friends”, and that includes keeping in touch through social media. I used to agree. Now, to quote the late Whitney Houston, and every black woman I’ve met over the age of 45, “Hell to the nah.” As I tend to tell most of the folks I’ve dated in the past: thank you for your services. Fin.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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Understandably, it may be difficult for many at this moment in time to feel any empathy toward anyone with the last name Trump. The sole blame for that goes to the most famous one of the bunch, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, who was sadly bestowed with an irregular version of humanity at birth. A man who recently said that if his own daughter had been a victim of sexual harassment at work, the onus would be on her to find a new company or even a new career.

As vile a human being as Donald Trump is, and as after-school special as this may sound, the reality is: wrong is wrong. To be selective about when to exercise morality trivializes its very purpose. In the case of the New York Post publishing nude photos of Trump’s wife Melania—which were taken more than 20 years ago—it is undoubtedly wrong. The unfortunate cover touting Melania’s nudes is wrong. The article “Melania Trump like you’ve never seen her before” is wrong. The article entitled “Melania Trump’s girl-on-girl photos from racy shoot revealed” is wrong. Even the other feature “Donald Trump is not upset Melania’s nude photos surfaced” is wrong.

They are wrong because they seek to shame Melania. They are wrong because they reduce her to an object. They are wrong because they play off archaic ideas of nudity and sexuality and perpetuate elitist ideas of what kind of woman should be First Lady. They are wrong because they have absolutely nothing to do with a presidential election between candidates Donald J. Trump and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Yet, some have noticeably maintained that they refuse to feel sorry for Melania because of how badly conservatives treated First Lady Michelle Obama. Many of these complaints have essentially danced around the sentiment, “They wouldn’t defend her so I won’t feel bad for her either.”

Well, the they in question is the New York Post, a trashy tabloid that’s right-leaning, routinely racist, consistently sexist, and typically terrible. A tabloid owned by Rupert Murdoch, the same person who owns FOX News. Perhaps some conservatives are speaking in support of Melania Trump in ways they never did for Michelle Obama, but ultimately, both women have now been ridiculed by conservative media outlets. That is a testament to the reality that no matter one’s ideology, if you are a woman married to a politician, you may find yourself the victim of vile attacks. You would think all Murdoch-owned media outlets might tamper down on its sexist attacks of women in light of the Roger Ailes scandal, but old habits appear to die hard ‘round those parts.

Read the rest at Complex.

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I’m not in the habit of complimenting Sarah Silverman, a person whose regret about wearing blackface for a skit once is largely rooted in the notion that it was “taken out of context” years later on Twitter. Even so, I found myself grateful to her on the first night of the Democratic National Convention for saying what needed to be said. First, Silverman, one of the first celebrities to support Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid, expressed why she supported the Sanders campaign and why she will now be voting for Hillary Clinton in November. The comedian and actress was greeted with some cheers, though none loud enough to drown out the ferocious boos.

Minutes later, joined by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Silverman was again met with boos while speaking only to say with visible annoyance, “To the Bernie or Bust crowd, you’re being ridiculous.”

Finally, someone said it. Much like Sen. Claire McCaskill expressed on Tuesday’s edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, I did not anticipate Sanders’ biggest fans to walk into the convention with smiles on their faces as they toasted Hillary Clinton officially becoming the Democratic Party’s nominee for president. However, there should have been some nominal level of civility in certain moments.

Before Silverman made that statement, Sanders supporters booed every single person who dared to speak Clinton’s name. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) was booed and heckled as he spoke about his dead father and Black Lives Matter. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), the newly named convention chairwoman in light of the DNC email scandal, was also met with a wall of boos.

“May I just make a point,” Fudge said. “There are many of you that do not know me in this room, but let me say to you, I intend to be fair. I want to hear the varying opinions here. I am going to be respectful of you and I want you to be respectful of me.”

She was not given that respect, nor were most of the speakers before and in some cases after Silverman. Not even prayer could be spared from booing once “Hillary Clinton” was spoken. I mean this from the very bottom of my heathen heart: you are a pathetic, despicable, waste of humanity if you cannot be bothered to silence your anger during a prayer.

While it doesn’t apply to all of Bernie’s supporters at the convention, certainly enough of them behaved like spoiled, entitled, naive lil’ brats. Making matters worse was that many of them interviewed on networks like MSNBC could not even explain their vitriol. Some mentioned TPP—a trade deal that critics claim would lead to more American jobs going abroad—even though Clinton no longer supports it and it was only kept in the Democratic platform at the behest of our current Democratic president. Who knew TPP was the deal breaker for so many Sanders supporters?

Meanwhile, Sanders managed to push for what has been rightly called the most progressive Democratic platform. Then there was mindless chatter from some supporters about how technically, Hillary Clinton is only the presumptive nominee. As if God—whom they essentially booed—was about to step down in Philadelphia and personally hand Sanders the nomination.

Silverman, to her credit, managed to be an adult in a room full of adult-aged people who may have gotten one too many participation awards, thus having some false sense of entitlement as to what happens to a losing campaign . She, as Sanders tried to remind his supporters earlier that day (which was met with his own round of boos), understands, “This is the real world that we live in.”

This is in stark contrast to two other celebrity Sanders supporters in Rosario Dawson and Susan Sarandon.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Much like the instantaneous, fame-adjacent status he procured by being shown wearing trendy clothes that showed off his ankles on the internet, the older black gentleman known as “Mr. Steal Your Grandma” has hastily fallen from many folks’ good graces. Much of it has to do with a since-deleted Facebook status in which Irvin Randle laid out a few ground rules for the younger Negroes.

“I have a message for my young African-Americans if y’all want to succeed in this life and stay out of trouble,” Randle wrote. “I know being successful doesn’t spare us from getting killed but most of the times, it keeps us out of trouble.”

These tips included going to school, not wearing baggy pants, covering up that body with more articles of clothing and forgoing the option of “calling yourselves bad bitches.” Well, as a certified bad bitch who doesn’t typically mind the sight of sagging, let me just say, I’m glad many of the blacks respectfully told Randle to go back to watching old episodes of Sanford and Son and stop doling out “respectability politics.” Y’all gave that man too much for simply being an AARP-age man wearing tight-ass clothing anyway.

Unfortunately, Mr. Steal Your Grandma’s impact has already guaranteed that other pop-pops are about to storm your social media feeds with shots of them in those tight, black Adidas pants. In fact, I’ve already seen screenshots of older black men in their 50s and 60s more or less trying to “do it for the ’gram.” OK, Facebook, for the most part, ’cause old folks love themselves some Facebook, but you get it.

Sadly, the stampede cannot be stopped. Nonetheless, I can help you cope with the growing old-head movement happening online.

Step 1: Be like French Montana and don’t panic.

Listen, my grandparents have gone on to glory, so while I miss my pa-pa terribly, I’m glad I don’t have to worry about him showing up in my feed wearing tight shorts he got from a J.C. Penney or Macy’s sale trying to show you he’s still got it. For those of you that do, though, do not stress yourself out. We’re all black, so we really needn’t play with our heart rates like that—especially if we eat Popeye’s.

Breathe. Breathe some more. Exhale. Shoop shoop. Pace yourself.

Step 2: Think of Blanche Devereaux.

I’m not into cat daddies like some of my nasty friends are, but I do think there’s something to be said for respecting older folks who want to be seen as desirable. Yes, that denotes sexuality. Calm down. I know it’s your grandpa, older daddy, great-uncle or just someone who played one of those roles growing up. The point is, older chaps have always lived their lives despite growing older, only now, social media has made it more apparent. You need to accept this.

Step 3: Know that they are Ms. Evelyn, but you are Toni and Tamar.

By that, I mean you must acknowledge that one day, you’re going to be that older person who wants to still be fly. It’s fine so long as you don’t get carried away.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Toward the end of 2014, vicious and very much hateful people worked quickly to spread isolated, unedited vocals of a Mariah Carey holiday performance that was not her best (to say the least).

We know Mariah loves herself some Christmas, but unfortunately, when she performed “All I Want for Christmas Is You” during a Rockefeller Center Christmas tree-lighting special on NBC, she sounded like she had gargled with a lump of coal (no shade). Many folks took absolute glee in this spectacle.

In one post about the performance, a writer wrote: “Remember when Mariah Carey could sing? Most millennials probably can’t.”

As a millennial, let the record show that this is an absolute damn lie. Has Mariah’s once pristine and flawless voice shown signs of decline with time and possibly pinot grigio? I would never lie and deny this, dahling. Even if I am a proud member of her Lambily family, I can acknowledge that there have been moments in which one could say that Mimi sang as if she couldn’t fulfill the terms of her agreement with Ursula the Sea Witch, and thus, was being punished.

However, if there is one constant about Mariah Carey, it is that her vocal talent is enduring and ready to rebound. This would include Mariah during The Emancipation of Mimi era in which she let many doubters know back then that she was not washed up. This would also include right about now.

I’m not sure what Mariah has been doing—vocal rest, a new contract with Ursula, lots of prayer and tea—but she’s sounded lovely for most of the year. There are countless videos posted on YouTubefrom her recent Sweet Sweet Fantasy international tour. Maybe Mariah doesn’t sound like the MTV Unplugged special, but she is singing as strongly as she ever has in several years.

Mariah herself has also been posting video clips from her Las Vegas residency, Mariah #1 to Infinity, at Caesar’s Palace.

Read the rest at The Root.

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