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bdayThere are many things to love about Beyoncé, but if you hail from Houston, your love tends to be shaped by the specificity of shared experiences. That love is magnified if you are closer in age: Beyoncé just turned 35 and I am 32.

When I listen to Beyoncé, I hear home. I know she’s the most celebrated singer and entertainer in the world, but she, like me, went to Welch Middle School and probably heard boys and girls doing the same slow, hazy, kind of flow heard on songs such as Lil’ KeKe’s “Pimp Tha Pen” and Big Moe’s “Barre Baby” during lunch in the cafeteria. I know Beyoncé is someone who listened to 97.9 The Box and heard the same New Orleans bounce mixes played throughout the day. When Beyoncé does her choreography, she reminds me of the same majorettes I saw at Madison High School, Yates High School and Willowridge High School football games. There is no finer example of Houston Beyoncé — her singing, rapping, dancing and art creation all seeping with the many variances of life in Houston — than her majorly up-tempo and entirely glorious 2006 B’Day, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary on Sept. 4, on her 35th birthday — her celebration had a Soul Train theme.

Initially, Beyoncé planned to make her sophomore album a serving of leftovers. In December 2003 — six months after the release of the good but not excellent Dangerously In Love — Beyoncé revealed to MTV News that come spring, fans could expect a sequel consisting of songs that didn’t make the final cut of her debut. Having recorded some 45 songs for that project, she explained, “I love so many songs, and they’re just kind of going to waste sitting there.” Those leftovers — including “Summertime,” “My First Time” and “What’s It Gonna Be?” — should have just gone on the first album. It would have made Beyoncé’s debut a classic. Instead, those and other mostly unheard tracks such as a “metal ballad” called Scent of You never rose from their seats as Beyoncé ultimately opted instead to record a new Destiny’s Child album, Destiny Fulfilled, and take on a role in the film adaptation of Dreamgirls. Those choices proved to be for the better. Because with her somewhat delayed second solo album, 2006’s B’Day, Beyoncé made a larger and more definitive statement as an artist.

“I’m,” Beyoncé said at the time, “happy in my life.” She was dating rapper Shawn “Jay Z” Carter. Her first solo album and the Destiny’s Child reunion album and tour had both done well. She was more or less the solo star some of us knew she could be from the terribly underappreciated “Work It Out,” from the 2002 soundtrack to Austin Powers in Goldmember. So while she often said that she herself was “boring,” she channeled feelings of rejection and being taken for granted — and created with B’Day an album that “speaks for every woman.”

How? Beyoncé, reportedly without the knowledge of her father and then-manager Mathew Knowles, booked studio time and with her chosen collaborators — Sean GarrettRich HarrisonRodney Jerkinsthe Neptunes and Swizz Beatz — and crafted an album in two weeks. She smartly made the best of the best compete with each other — to assist her in upping her own creative ante.

As integral a role as her father (and mother) played in her professional development, for Beyoncé to do this album without her dad’s knowledge was one of the first indicators that Beyoncé was capable of steering her own career. Also, consider the optics: Though all of the producers are male, this young black woman was very much in charge of her vision. The producers had distinctive styles, but all catered to Beyoncé’s taste to help create a sound all her own. Beyoncé was not simply jumping on whatever hot track was handed to her. “This is about female empowerment,” Beyoncé said of the album in 2006. “This album is different, it’s conceptual and I do things with my voice that I haven’t done before.”

On B’Day, her ideas of female empowerment varied. In some instances, it’s letting your man have it on jilted lover-themed songs such as her cover of the album’s “Resentment” or “Irreplaceable.” In others, it’s by way of consumerism and the ability to ball out as heard on songs such as “Upgrade U.” Sometimes it’s as simple as “Freakum Dress,” where she throws on something nice, tips out, and not so subtly reminds her significant other that it’s best to not lose this good thing. But in all these songs, she’s asserting control — a theme that has ultimately defined her career narrative.

Read the rest at The Undefeated.

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Yesterday, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences was given way too much credit for having what has been deemed the most diverse group of acting nominees for the Emmys ever. Yes, unforgivable snub of Constance Wu for her work on Fresh Off The Boat notwithstanding, it is a good thing that the Emmys are being more inclusive. However, that’s how it’s “post to be” so let’s not give them a round of applause (or make that ass clap) for doing something they should’ve been doing for decades. That said, I would like to thank the Academy for getting one thing especially right: recognizing the brilliance of the visual component to Beyoncé’s celebrated sixth album, Lemonade.

Lemonade received four Emmy nominations including Outstanding Variety Special, Outstanding Picture Editing For A Variety Production, and Outstanding Production Design For A Variety, Nonfiction, Event, or Award Special. Beyoncé has been netted Emmy nods in the past, for her 2013 Super Bowl halftime show and her “On The Run Tour” HBO special. If there is a God, she’s probably pissed Yoncé didn’t win the one for the Super Bowl, though I fully anticipate the King to score at least one win for her Lemonade film. (If not, expect people like me to be using a lot of bee emojis and cursing out the Academy.)

So, you know what that means? Beyoncé is one step closer to becoming an EGOT. Only 12 entertainers can boast claims of winning an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony. Of those, only four are women, and only one is a Black woman (Whoopi Goldberg). Already, there are stories of how both Beyoncé and Adele are one step closer. Now, while I will concede that Adele’s 2013 Oscar win for the theme to the James Bond film, Skyfall, puts her a wee bit ahead of Houston’s finest in the race, I still think Beyoncé has the better chance of becoming an EGOT first.

And since I’m already talking that cash money s**t, I’d like to reiterate that I believe Beyoncé is a decent actress. Has she chosen terrible roles? Sure, but you know what will fix that? Recently, the New York Times published the article “What Does the Academy Value in a Black Performance?”

In it, writer Brandon K. Thorp noted: “Consider: In the history of the Oscars, 10 black women have been nominated for best actress, and nine of them played characters who are homeless or might soon become so.” Thorp also wrote: “Nearly every black best-actress nominee has faced a similar plight, right up through Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012), in which Quvenzhané Wallis played a little girl about to lose her home to a flood. No black woman has ever received a best-actress nomination for portraying an executive or even a character with a college degree.”

Last year, Beyoncé was reportedly taking acting lessons and carefully searching for an “iconic role.” I’d like to believe Hollywood, and subsequently, the Academy, will evolve with time, but I live in America, thus, won’t hold my breath. That means all she has to do is play into Hollywood’s little fixation with Black pathology and – boom – she’s like Halle Berry and doing something to make me feel good.

Read the rest at VH1.

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Older black women are, by and large, my happy place. They often prove themselves to be incredibly honest, wonderfully hilarious and the very best of blackness. I have had an affinity for the group I describe as “black aunties” since I was a child who obsessed over his literal black aunties. However, it is often hard to find a black auntie in the space of social media outside of hilarious memes or videos in which their children or other younger relatives opt to share them unto the world.

Thankfully, more black aunties are joining social media. Of course, Jackée Harry is the belle of the ball on Twitter, followed by the legendary Anita Baker. I’m sure there are a bunch of mature women on Facebook, but their sons, daughters, nieces and nephews typically ruin that platform for me five minutes into a home page scan, so never mind that. Now, when it comes to Instagram, without a shadow of a doubt, Tina Knowles Lawson is the best f–king thing to ever happen to Instagram.

She is literally your 60-plus black mom on IG, and I mean that in the best of ways. Like, your mom before she became your mom, and your mom after she got her life back once your ass moved the hell up out of her house. I’ve always known Ms. Tina to be a national treasure, if for no other reason than what is the gift of her talented daughters, but her social media presence has taken me to more places than I Am … Sasha Fierce.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Earlier this month, Page Six reported that Beyoncé and Jay Z’s long-rumored duets album will arrive in earbuds around the world “very soon.” The news was met with mixed emotions: It seems some fans were less than thrilled about the idea of an album-length session of post-Lemonade couples counseling.

But why are we assuming that’s what this album will be? For all we know, it’s a bunch of up-tempo party tracks. Given that it’s been 10 years since Beyoncé’s fantastic B’Day, I’d be all for that. Failing that, I’m happy to entertain an album on which Jay Z explains in detail why Becky with the good hair ain’t worth a court-mandated visitation schedule for him and Blue Ivy. I don’t know what’s on this album, and neither do you. But I’m open to finding out, considering the pair’s well-established musical chemistry. Besides, any member of the Beyhive should know by now that there is no such thing as too much Beyoncé in the world.

The real reason I love the idea of a Jay Z and Beyoncé joint project, though, is that it could help usher in a new era for the duets album — a format that has tragically fallen by the wayside in our culture. Yes, duets still exist. No one dares disrespect the magic Ja Rule and Ashanti once made, or what Ciara and Ludacris did further down the country. However, none of those duos created a stand-alone project. Two of the aforementioned are hosting awards shows instead of performing at them.

More recently, we’ve enjoyed duets from Nick Jonas and TinasheAriana Grande and The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber and Halsey. But none of them have given us anything close to the magic Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell produced in the 1960s. In 2013, Maxwell announced plans to go there with Alicia Keys, telling Billboard, “We’re definitely working on an EP that’s sort of Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell.” Three years later, we haven’t heard a peep from either about the project.

So, yes, I would love to hear a duets album from Beyoncé and her husband. While we’re at it, isn’t it about time that Drake and Rihanna quit playing and offered us their own duets album?

Apologies in advance to all those who bow before Aubrey Graham — I’d rather pretend Views never happened.

Read the rest at MTV News.

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There are two types of men in this world: those that are comfortable with listening to music created by a woman without feeling any sense of threat to their masculinity, and the alternative—a neanderthal that assumes the second you listen to the sound of a woman singing or rapping, your penis longs for a sword fight.

This is not a new concept, but like most things triggered by the biggest pop star in the world, Beyoncé, it only becomes more prominent once she releases something. Insecure men scatter out like roaches in a RAID-less house the second the light flickers on.

One message that responded to this stuck out to me.

I’m embarrassed for any man who thinks listening to a woman’s music is a test of his sexuality or masculinity.

This would include numerous tweets sent out over days following the release of Lemonade.

And last year.

And the year before that.

Of course, I’ve heard this over time in classrooms, locker rooms, and barbershops. I mean, there are men who worship Future the same way gay men and Adele worship Beyoncé. Or name any superstar athlete of the past half century here.

I appreciate videos like this because more times than not, you have to make light of the idiocy suffocating you. However, this addiction to hypermasculinity is vile no matter the form. Even if it’s as silly as a Beyoncé song, the root issue still hinges on the idea that, to some, you are less of a man for appreciating the art of woman. Well, a certain kind of woman. One is ultra feminine (yet strong), one who caters specifically to Black women (yet has proven again and again she can literally go as hard as her male contemporaries).

Read the rest at VH1.

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

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

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

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

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

From NPR’s All Things Considered.

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Mere moments after the world learned that Beyoncé would be premiering her long rumored “Lemonade” project on HBO this upcoming Saturday, the following question rippled across the BeyHive: “Where is the watch party?”

All I could hear each time was Phaedra Parks saying “Go away from me with all of this.” I prefer to watch Beyoncé in silence so I can properly stan as my Lord and Gyrator ministers to me. I am debating whether or not to watch it with a group, but if I do so, it will be under very particular circumstances.

Since I am a good person, I’m going to share my rules with you. If you are a true Beyliever, you should apply them to your life—should you opt for a watch party, that is. Environment matters, BeyHive, especially considering how long we’ve waited for Beyonce’s newest era.

Do not watch with Beytheists.

“Beytheists” are people who don’t believe in Beyoncé. Anyone who dares question the power of Beyoncé has a serious character flaw that you should avoid at all costs. It could be contagious, like the Zika virus or something. Actually, the Zika virus sounds better for your body than not believing in Beyoncé, to be quite f-cking honest.

Anyhow, don’t attend any watch party in which a Beytheist will be in attendance.

Why? This person will be making unnecessary contrarian comments, such as “She ain’t all that.” Yes the hell she is, you tasteless simpleton. They will then be picking apart the special, bit by bit, to your annoyance. Someone already told me that they can see themselves fighting such a person. Listen, we are too close to the Formation World Tour for legal problems. Besides, if you’ve got great seats for the show, you’ve more than likely already spent your bond money.

If you attend a watch party, make sure the haters don’t have an invite. Or at the very least, make sure they have they own designated circle of crazy that is far, far away from you. I would place them in a tarpit, but it’s the host’s call.

The overzealous fans who can’t shut up.

While we love fellow fans of Beyoncé, I don’t need to hear “YASSSSSSSS!” every other second. The same goes for “SLAAAAAAYYYYYY” and other typical forms of conveying jubilee and climaxing. These folks are going to drown out the special and you’ll end up wanting to drown them. Again, do you have bail money? You can’t afford Annalise Keating either. Tell the people to use their inside voices until the special wraps. After that, y’all can all have the orgy.

The people who ask too many damn questions.

Yo, shut the hell up when Beyoncé is doing something. Set up your panel discussion for a later date. Silencio yo’self. 100 emoji.


As in, those who claim to not feel strongly about Beyoncé one way or another. These types are dead inside—and not in the cool way, like me. My concern with the Beyonostics is that while you’re losing your mind and overcome with emotion (yet, still respectfully silent during the airing), they’ll be looking at you like you’re crazy. In actuality, they’re the crazy ones for not being an emotional roller coaster while Beyoncé is doing something. Ugh.

Read the rest at VH1.

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I am relatively immune to the irrationality and overly idiocies harbored by white racists. So, I was not at all surprised when some white people expressed anger at Beyoncé over the video for her latest single, “Formation.” It is a song that celebrates Black hair, big, Black noses, and invokes powerful imagery that directly challenges the racism that has spurred the unnecessary deaths of so many Black men, women, and children. It was a #PeakBlackness moment that captivated people of all races for good and bad reasons. All Beyoncé did was celebrate her community and command the respect we deserve. Of course, that would frustrate a racist who might not understand white supremacy and institutionalized racism, but is nonetheless conditioned to think anything that does not place whiteness as center is worthy of their indignation.

That is to be expected, but so is the failure of some Black men to see a Black woman revel in her autonomy.

Mere minutes after “Formation” debuted, some Black men expressed frustration under this false notion that Beyoncé is being championed for celebrating blackness in a way that the likes of Kendrick Lamar is not — particularly, Lamar’s latest album, To Pimp a Butterfly, and the track, “The Blacker The Berry.” Again, this does not surprise me either, but it stings more, because I hate to see Black men essentially repeat the mistakes of their oppressors.

Because these majorly straight Black men don’t see themselves and their point of view as center, they want to diminish its value.

First, to compare “The Blacker The Berry” to the “Formation” video is another glowing example of how in many cases, men can do the minimum and command maximum rewards — especially when they feel like a woman is getting the kudos they feel entitled to.

“The Blacker The Berry” is a celebration of a particular strain of blackness. Yes, Lamar references his dark skin, nappy hair, big nose, and big d–k and challenges white supremacy, but then he takes a pathological turn towards the end as he raps: “So why did I weep when Trayvon Martin was in the street, when gang banging make me kill a n—- blacker than me? Hypocrite!”

This is not hypocrisy. This is not Lamar’s man in the mirror moment. This is not a call to arms for the Black community. This is black pathology and a superficial statement pretending to be something substantive.

In an interview with, Billboard, when asked about recent high-profile incidents of race-motivated police brutality, Lamar said:

“I wish somebody would look in our neighborhood knowing that it’s already a situation, mentally, where it’s fucked up. What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting — it starts from within.”

I rarely agree with Azealia Banks, but I absolutely agreed with her when she tweeted: “HOW DARE YOU open ur face to a white publication and tell them that we don’t respect ourselves…. Speak for your fucking self.”

I also concur with: “‘When we don’t respect ourselves how can we expect them to respect us’ dumbest shit I’ve ever heard a black man say.”

All Lamar did was repeat an uninformed fable about black on black crime and conflate it with state sanctioned violence. Meanwhile, according to the US Department of Justice statistics, 84 percent of white people killed every year are killed by other whites. Moreover, in 2011 there were actually more cases of whites killing whites than blacks killing blacks. And as Kerry Codett noted at the Huffington Post, “Between 1980 to 2008, a majority (53.3 percent) of gang-related murders were committed by white people, with a majority of the homicide victims being white as well.”

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates once noted: “People tend to kill the people they live around. Black people are among the most hyper-segregated group in the country. The fact that black killers tend to kill other black people is not refutation of American racism, but the ultimate statement of American racism.”

Regardless of how one feels about Lamar’s statement, it is absolutely nothing like “Formation.” What Beyoncé did in that video was celebrate blackness in so many of its variances.

You heard the voice of the late Messy Mya; you heard Big Freedia; you saw Black southern people of varying classes; you saw Black women of various shapes and shades, all equally confident on camera.

This is Southern Black culture. This is Texas. This is Louisiana. This is Southern Black rap. This is a celebration of Black womanhood. This is the inclusion of Black queer culture. This is country ass Blacks folks being their amazing country Black selves.

That video presents a fuller package of Blackness than what Lamar offered, which is essentially references to his nose and d–k while asking, “What about black-on-black crime?” This is a celebration of non-Black straight men that you rarely see from hip-hop artists — including those like him.

Read the rest at VH1.

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How you rank Beyoncé’s albums depends on what type of Beyoncé fan you are.

If you cannot let go of Destiny’s Child, your favorite is probably Dangerously In Love, which offers slight teases of The Writing’s On The Wall via songs like “Yes.” If you enjoy Beyoncé best in what is considered more mature presentation, you typically fancy the underappreciated 4 and the masterpiece that is her eponymous fifth album. As pretty as she sounds on the half-adult-contemporary, half-not-that album, I Am…Sasha Fierce, that’s no Beyoncé fan’s favorite, and if they say otherwise, I discourage you from believing them.

I appreciate them all, though as much as I adore what she has does recently, especially with BEYONCÉ, nothing makes my mind, body, and twerk respond the way her sophomore album, B’Day, does. Recorded in just a few short weeks after filming Dreamgirls, B’Day was a collision of high energy, hard-hitting beats, and an intensity that was previously teased in a handful of solo and group tracks here but not completely formulated until this moment.

That said, the album did have a bit of a rocky star. Its lead single, “Déjà Vu” featuring Jay Z, was Off The Wall-esque in its sound but did not match the massive success of their previous collaboration, “Crazy In Love.” Fans also launched an online petition asking her to reshoot the video. Its follow-up single, “Ring The Alarm” fared worse, but to Beyoncé’s credit, the shout-filled single showed that she was willing to take a risk.

Ultimately, it was “Irreplaceable,” which reigned atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks, that returned Beyoncé to radio dominance. It may have taken that song for some to give B’Day a chance, but for the over 500,000 of us who got it the week of its release (which, coincidentally, was the same week of her actual birthday), the majority of us knew a great thing when we heard it.

Read the rest at Fuse.

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I say this with a sober mind and honest heart: I do not think Beyoncé is a bad actress.

Yes, I will allow you a moment to sit in awe of my bravery. No, you cannot claim that I am only saying this because I worship at the altar of Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. I don’t like everything she does. For instance, half of I Am … Sasha Fierce has not been played in any speaker I own since 2008. Also, I hope to never, ever see Carmen: A Hip Hopera on purpose again. Now, don’t be a snitch and tell Beyoncé I said any of this, but I just want to let it be known that I can play detractor when pushed enough.

So, again, I do not think Beyoncé is a bad actress, and I am delighted to know that she is reportedly taking her future career as an actress more seriously. According to an “insider”—who, I assume, was allowed to break his or her blood-oath allegiance to Beyoncé and Parkwood Entertainment for this cause—Beyoncé has been hard at work trying to get her acting chops together.

“She wants to land leading roles in movies and has been taking classes in New York and L.A. for the past year,” the insider told Us Weekly. This person went on to add, “Bey’s looking for an iconic dramatic role. She wants to make a film that’s socially relevant to African American rights.”

In other words, she’s both “woke” and ready for something substantial. I, for one, am ecstatic to read this, because again, I do not think Beyoncé is a bad actress. I know what some of you are thinking: “Have you seen a Beyoncé movie?” Shut up. I’ve seen them all.

My thing about Beyoncé, actress, is that we’ve yet to see Beyoncé in anything remotely challenging. I’ve already conceded that Carmen: A Hip Hopera was terrible, so let’s move on and pretend that never happened. That said, Austin Powers in Goldmember wasn’t exactly a stretch for anyone involved to play. The Fighting Temptations was good in that everyone, from an Oscar winner to Faith Evans, was terrible in a terrible and forgettable film. To be fair, Beyoncé was no less terrible than those two.

Beyoncé was adequate in Dreamgirls, but many might rightly point out that she was playing herself: the favorite. Many laughed when Beyoncé did not win an Oscar but Jennifer Hudson did. Cute for you, but I have five words for you on J. Hud’s perceived acting prowess: “My vury own Louis Vuitton!!

I know you hear me, Sex and the City first-movie fans.

I rest my case.

When it comes to the thriller Obsessed, I’ve always felt that people were unfair to Beyoncé. She did a fine job in that fake-ass Fatal Attraction. If there’s anyone who was stinking up that already musty movie, it was Idris Elba and that god-awful, piss-poor impersonation of an American accent he used. Yeah, I said it. Run up, get done up.

So, here, the subject of Yoncé’s performance in Cadillac Records is where it gets divisive. I think Beyoncé was good, but the movie tried to cram too much into a really small amount of time. That said, it was something different for Beyoncé, and she was not terrible in it.

Read the rest at The Root.

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