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Nine years ago, when this blog was less than two months old and nothing more than just practice for a 21-year-old college student and summer intern in NYC, I wrote a post about Teairra Mari — namely my belief that “No Daddy” and the overall sexualization of a still-minor would doom whatever was to come of her music career. Well, I didn’t say it that well, but that was the gist of my feelings. Again, I was 21.

I’ve long felt bad for Teairra Mari because what I neglected to include in that original post was that if nothing else, that girl had a sparkle about her. I saw her at one internship, Rihanna at another, and while Rihanna is certainly a star now, she was not at the time. Teairra stepped in a room knowing she was something and you could tell that had nothing to do with all of those then important people surrounding her.

She’s always had it, only those around her set her up to fail. Her debut album was decent, but probably better for a woman at 23 than a 16, 17-year-old girl.

Now, she’s a reality star whose storyline is stuck on stupid. Stupid would be Kim Kardashian’s biggest dick rider and Brandy’s brother, Ray J. Ray J has a hit here and there, which in some ways is a nod to him given he’s been independent for a long time. But he cannot sing. He has acted in the past, but his best performance was on Sinbad’s old sitcom. He strikes me as someone more interested in celebrity than his art — making him perfect for reality TV.

Teairra Mari is a hot head who lets loose when she gets drunk, so she works well in that world, but I can’t help but feel a little bad because her stage should be an actual one as opposed to a camera crew waiting for her to explode.

As much fun as I have writing about Love & Hip Hop Hollywood – yes, her curse outs, swings, and blow ups included – I was wondering when in the fuck Teairra Mari was going to actually drop some new material.

Here we are.

Teairra has always had a decent voice, but she sounds clearer, stronger here. From my understanding, she still doesn’t have a label. Someone sign her. Give her a chance. Let her be the West Coast K. Michelle. Hell, even if she’s going to remain a hot head, at least channel that better.

Like: Become the Diamond from Crime Mob of R&B.

Although Teairra Mari seems to regret doing the show, I think most understand she wasn’t left with many options. Many had already forgotten about her and some had no clue who she was by the time this show started airing. At this point, the show has served its purpose. People either remember or now know who she is – for better or worse – and she’s managed to get a decent track to highlight her gifts out of it.

She’s already put out a bunch of mixtapes, but another one or even an EP couldn’t hurt given the increased eyes on her. Again, someone please sign her. Line her up with good producers. Don’t let her around any of the people who fucked her over nine years ago.

Teairra said on the season finale that she didn’t want her peak to be at 16. It would be so wrong if that came to be. Give her a chance.

I don’t want to write about her acting a fool on another season Love & Hip Hop Hollywood. Let her at least get back to her day job. If nothing else, reality TV has been good for many women in R&B. I’ve written about this before. I want Teairra to be the next success story.

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As well intentioned as he may be and as inspiring a figure as many rightfully find him, Pharrell is not equipped to share any meaningful thoughts on racial politics. His latest offense comes from his interview with EBONY magazine. Though the interview took place before Darren Wilson was given in a free pass to shoot an unarmed Black man, Pharrell played into the very sort of stereotypes and irrelevant arguments that others have used to excuse Michael Brown’s execution.

Speaking on the convenience store surveillance video allegedly showing Brown shoplifting cigars –Pharrell said, “It looked very bullyish; that in itself I had a problem with. Not with the kid, but with whatever happened in his life for him to arrive at a place where that behavior is OK. Why aren’t we talking about that?”

I know that these days Pharrell fancies himself as some sort of hip-hop Yoda, but need I remind you, sir, that you are the same person behind songs like Noreaga’s “Superthug.” You lent your production talents to the walking Crip billboard — Snoop Dogg, the ex-drug dealer (who won’t stop rhyming about it) Jay Z, and the repeat offender and real-life G.I. Joe character T.I., as well as many other rappers who have helped shape the very culture you’ve profited from but are now condemning.

Pharrell did go on to add that he believes that Darren Wilson still deserved punishment given he used “excessive force on a human being who was merely a child.” However, Pharrell continues to blame the victim when he further argues: “The boy was walking in the middle of the street when the police supposedly told him to ‘get the f–k on the sidewalk.’ If you don’t listen to that, after just having pushed a storeowner, you’re asking for trouble. But you’re not asking to be killed. Some of these youth feel hunted and preyed upon, and that’s why that officer needs to be punished.”

How about an officer of the law shouldn’t be telling citizens to “get the fuck on the sidewalk?” The harsh reality is that even if Michael Brown was walking on the sidewalk, he still might’ve fallen victim to Darren Wilson or come other officer like him, given law enforcement’s collective fear and profiling of Black men?

Trayvon Martin was minding his damn business when fake cop, but clearly into the ways of the po-lice George Zimmerman virtually stalked him upon sight? When white people feel like a Black man or Black woman does not belong where they are, this is what happens. So as much as Michael Brown’s manners might matter to Pharrell, to answer the question “Why aren’t we talking about that?” it’s because it truly doesn’t matter much on why he loss his life.

Read the rest at theGrio.

 

 

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Who else remembers being perplexed like shit at the sight of Keyshia Cole sitting by the bed of Paris Hilton on some MTV special that aired approximately 100 years ago, before Kim Kardashian completely stole her thunder stateside? I don’t remember the exact context, but I recall a friend comparing K. Michelle to Keyshia Cole, saying something to the effect that they are both hoodrats, only K. Michelle is able to be “classed” up in a way Keyshia Cole cannot. I get the gist of that sentiment, but as a bird myself, I cannot play into that sort of thinking. If anything, Keyshia Cole should have never bothered trying to go more mainstream given she was a platinum-plus selling artist being exactly who she was in both her music and TV shows.

K. Michelle is clearly trying to gussy up her act, only this is only surprising to those who haven’t listened to K. Michelle extensively. K. Michelle has always been frank about her love of country music and in recent years, expressed a desire to take her music in a different direction. Yes, most people learned of her existence via Love & Hip Hop, but she is a person who once shared a vocal coach with Justin Timberlake. She is an actual musician whereas Keyshia Cole is the younger cousin Mary J. Blige never met because that side of the family tree’s branch was burned and turned to sage. That’s no shade; that’s exactly how I describe my side of the family to people.

Some birds are able to switch up their feathers. Some of us are crows, others get to be doves and peacocks. I’m always debating with friends on my level of bird. I happen to think I’m a dove, but since haters are gonna hate, others would argue DC pigeon or compromise on cardinal. Whatever.

Point is, I’m loving the new sounds of K. Michelle because while there is a noticeable softer shift in the sound of the music, she still has a lot of bite, and more importantly, a lot of heart. This isn’t a forced change; this is someone evolving into the artist they were meant to be. The kind of act they have offered hints of becoming in the past if you paid close enough attention. These new songs – “Love “Em,” “Maybe I Should Call,” “Going Under,” and “How Do You Know?” – are not unlike some of the songs featured on her mixtapes. Say, “Heartbreaks and Headboards,” “Summer,” “Tomorrow Too Late,” and “Pale Song #1.”

They remind me of the bougie mumbo sauce and fried chicken wings they sell at that D.C. restaurant called The Hamilton. Sure, they’re prettier, and yeah, you’re definitely consuming it all in a nicer locale. Nonetheless, you are eating Chinese takeout shit. Or better yet, this is Regine Hunter: from the projects, but packaged prettier.

Regine is the patron saint of sophistiratchets, a group I consider myself to be a part of.

I have a special place in my heart for people who put their special genre of crazy upfront. K. Michelle is kooky as hell and at any given moment, may be talking about some sort of affair with Idris Elba or a lesbian sex tape. What makes me love her most and this new direction even more, though, is how heartfelt these songs sound. K. Michelle’s Rebellious Soul musical was a mistake that I’d like to never discuss again after the end of this sentence, but the reworked songs are gorgeous. Especially “Damn.”

“Damn” sends me deep into my feelings from the very opening line: “Damn, here I go again. Falling for the wrong man.” Like, must you call me out like that, Kimberly Michelle Pate? The same goes for “Maybe I Should Call,” which I think is one of the best R&B singles to be released this year. Fuck it: the last five years. K. Michelle is a gifted singer-songwriter. I think Anybody Wanna Buy A Heart? will make that clearer to people.

About a month ago, I found myself in bed playing “Maybe I Should Call” on loop. It made me think of someone who I used to always debate on whether or not to reach out to. For a millisecond, I damn near wanted to go full Jhené Aiko and cry. I caught myself, opting instead to play Iyanla Vanzant shouting “NOT ON MY WATCH!”

Some people may always sadden you and that’s perfectly okay. You may consider reaching out, but more often than not, there’s a reason you let go. I love R&B songs that make me feel something. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to proceed to exhale, shoop shoop.

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Irv Gotti did Nicki Minaj no favors when he compared her to Lauryn Hill in 2010, telling VIBE:

“The world has yet to see the best of Nicki Minaj. What she’s delivering to the world now is basically what they want. But I know that she’s a super talented superstar who can do anything at a high level—rap, sing, act, whatever she wants to do. This is just the beginning of Nicki Minaj. Her best is yet to come. In my opinion she is as talented as my other girl Lauryn Hill. They have completely different styles. But as far as the talent is concerned they both can do it all. Nicki just isn’t showing it yet ’cause she doesn’t want to. But world be prepared ’cause she’s the truth!”

Nicki Minaj made it even worse when she responded to Irv’s declaration by saying:

“Irv has been privy to hear things that I’ve done that the world hasn’t heard,” she says. “Based on the music I have out now, that sounds like an absurd comment, but when ‘Pink Friday’ comes out, you will completely understand why Irv made that comparison.”

Well, we’ve heard Pink Friday since then and one assumes in hindsight, Nicki Minaj might’ve been drunk off the test flavors of Myx moscato when she made such bold statements.

Nicki Minaj is a remarkably talented emcee. She isn’t just one of the best female rappers ever, she is bar for bar one of the best rappers of the last two decades and certainly on par with many of those who came before her — male or female. Her silliness and unevenness sonically may make that a hard statement to swallow, but I imagine in the coming years, many will see Nicki for what she is: a shrewd rapper who did her best with the limited options for which she was given to be a female rap star in the 2010s.

As far as her being an actress goes, I am unfamiliar, but I will say she is exceptionally theatrical and will likely go on to follow the footsteps of Will Smith and Queen Latifah. She cannot sing a good goddamn, though, and I truly wish she would stop trying. And while Lauryn Hill has very much soiled her own legacy with her post-peak antics, Nicki Minaj is not nearly as well rounded and thoughtful as she was. Lauryn Hill is many things, but simple is not one of them. It remains to be seen what will come of Nicki Minaj the musician in the future, but as of now, while each has their own gifts, we needn’t compare Dr. Seuss to Toni Morrison.

No matter because the bottom line is no new female rapper is helped when she is compared to Nicki Minaj.

That’s why I hope people quiet down on the comparisons between Tink and L-Boogie. I’ve been listening to Tink for a good while now. Her mixtapes. Her remixes and whatever else she uploads to her Soundcloud. Like Azealia Banks, she can both rap and sing exceptionally well. Dare I say, Tink is a better singer than Azealia and in some ways, very much the first female rapper to manage to do both on equal footing since Lauryn Hill. Still, that’s where the comparisons in.

Tink is a 19-year-old girl from Chicago. She’s a lot more commercial than Lauryn Hill so in some ways, a bit more formulaic when it comes to subject matter. But then you hear songs like “Tell The Children,” where the Chicago native offers the kind of sociopolitical commentary we just don’t hear from many rappers anymore. It’s important for the culture to have a young person from a city like Chicago speak on what’s going on today. For a 19-year-old to show this must thought in this short a turnaround is a testament to her talent and potential.

Salute to her on that, but again, do not compare her to Lauryn Hill. Lauryn Hill is a rap deity to far too many. It’s unfair to place the burden of living up to that standard on someone so young and seemingly green. Lauryn Hill cannot even live up to the mythology of her own name anymore — which is why she shows up to her concerts eight hours late and doing unrequested and erratic remixes of the songs from her debut album.

I tend to hate people who are quick to point out they know about an artist before the masses flock, but in this instance, I have to stake that claim. Knowing more helps me assess her more clearly. Tink is talented, but fluid in ways Lauryn Hill never was (in terms of sound) and convincing in ways Nicki Minaj will probably never be (same). Tink has a lot of promise, but as of now, it’s just promise. That’s enough pressure for a new artist. Don’t add any more.

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It was rather sweet to see Shonda Rhimes dismiss the criticism—delivered in real time by way of Twitter—that the new ABC hit How to Get Away With Murder had one too many gay scenes the way she did. Ever cognizant of everyone’s humanity, Rhimes tweeted back, “There are no GAY scenes. There are scenes with people in them.”

It reminded me of an episode of Sesame Street—a compliment, I promise—in which we learn at the end the valuable lesson that people are just people. The sentiment is endearing, but our differences and labels make note of another reality.

I don’t subscribe to the logic that labels are bad. Yes, they can be limiting, but oftentimes it’s not so much the label that’s the problem as it is the associations that the linear-thinking sect attaches to it. You can remove the label—e.g., refer to “scenes with people in them” as opposed to “GAY scenes”—but it proves to be a fool’s errand because the person who has the problem with two people of the same gender simulating sex on camera will have a problem no matter what you call it.

So let’s just call it exactly what it is: gay sex. More important, gay male sex. How to Get Away With Murder features a lot of it. That gay sex has since sparked debate on specific topics related to bottoms and the notion of “bottom shaming,” as well as a broader conversation about what all of this gay sex on a key night of network TV means.

Ultimately, it means the normalization of sex between two men in a meaningful way. Support for marriage equality may be thriving, and the movement will eventually triumph with nationwide recognition, but a lot of that has to do with packaging. Straight people have increasingly accepted gay marriage because it is presented to them through a heteronormative filter: Two consenting adults want their love recognized. Maybe they’ll then go have a family.

It’s shrewd, but many can get used to the idea of two people in love, wanting a wedding. But the thought of what happens during the honeymoon may still trigger some discomfort.

We have seen lesbian sex featured on various sitcoms through the years, but that feat was accomplished far sooner because of the boost it was provided by certain circumstances—say, the way the imagery might play into a heterosexual man’s fantasies.

Two gay men having sex does not play into that; therefore, the struggle to see it regularly in certain places has remained. Even on gay-centered shows like HBO’s Looking, the sex scenes are never as explicit as those you’d see involving straight characters. How to Get Away With Murder and its gay male lead—Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh—are changing that. The more you see gay men—gasp—expressing themselves for this big audience the way every other horny person does, the more that discomfort will be tamed over time.

And though Rhimes is not the creator of How to Get Away With Murder, she is the reason it’s on the air. Her contributions cannot go unnoted. The same goes for the irony.

Read the rest at The Root.

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I imagine that for years, whenever Traci Braxton would stand in her kitchen in Murrlyn, frying pork chops or steaming crab legs with just a little bit too much of Old Bay, she was fuming over the fact that the world of rhythm and blues paid her ass dust. So, in some respects, I applaud Left Behind Braxton for making the most of the attention Braxton Family Values has yielded her. If we’re being totally honest with ourselves, besides Tamar Braxton, Traci has maximized this reality show fame the most.

Yes, Trina Braxton has released two singles – “Party or Go Home” and “Gametime” – but given that she’s damn near 40 and cannot dance a good got damn, someone should have told her it’s far too late in her life to go and try and be Kesha. As for Towanda Braxton, for all that initial talk Yolanda Adams Face had about becoming an actress, I haven’t seen her in so much as a Ora Quick commercial.

Meanwhile, Traci has secured an online radio show — this despite having one of the worst accents and speech patterns in history. And now she has a full fledged album, which doesn’t sound bad or even cheap. It even features duets with artists I’ve actually heard of like Raheem DeVaughn. She’s even put out a video, which I plan to never watch again, but I must say, looked like it was on a Keyshia Cole, the early years budget and a bae as the lead.

All that said, kudos to you, Traci, but let’s make sure we keep one thing clear: When you really get down to it, there’s a reason Toni never asked you to be a doo wop pop pop chick. Bless Traci’s heart, but what in the absolute fuck is this?

In this performance, she looks like somebody’s drunk auntie at a karaoke. Or better yet, she’s giving me “What if Shug Avery fell off the wagon and forgot 10 of her steps?” Traci is so jealous of Tamar, but much of that likely is rooted in her wishing she was Tamar. That would explain her really terrible attempts at also copying gay slang and all other banjee related antics on the show. If Tamar were in AP courses, Traci is in the remedial ones held in the temporary buildings in the back of the school. You know, so they are free to slob on each other in a safe space.

God bless her since that album is coming out next week no matter how abysmal her stage game is, but Traci Braxton needs work. On her singing. On her dancing. On any and everything related to being a recorded artist.

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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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Despite pleas from the family, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine will not release surveillance footage surrounding the shooting death of John Crawford III. Crawford’s father, John Crawford II, says the footage make it clear in no uncertain terms about what happened in that Beavercreek Wal-Mart. Speaking with The Guardian, Crawford II claims, “It was an execution, no doubt about it. It was flat-out murder. And when you see the footage, it will illustrate that.”

DeWine has argued that releasing the footage would be “playing with dynamite” and prevent any trial from being fair. And yet, the narrative about what preceded Crawford III’s death remains: He, with his Black and menacing self, walked around the store brandishing a gun, forcing them to believe that they were under direct and imminent threat. That gun turned out to be a BB gun for sale in the store and the person who called 911 has since recanted his story. Also speaking with The Guardian, Ronald Ritchie now says, “At no point did he shoulder the rifle and point it at somebody.” Ritchie, maintains Crawford was still taking the toy gun and “waving it around,” but he nonetheless soiled the minds of a potential jury pool, too – his own ability to bend the truth be damned (his claims of being an “ex-marine” have been proven false.)

Nonetheless, a Beavercreek police spokesman maintains their version of events, claiming in a statement: “Preliminary indications are that the officers acted appropriately under the circumstances.”

I bet, but a tape will likely confirm what most of us already know: this death should not have happened.

Personally, I don’t have to see video footage of a horrific incident when the surrounding details are crystal clear. I feel confident in concluded that based on the facts, an unarmed Black man lost his life for no good reason. The same goes for knowing that now former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice assaulted his then fiancée, Janay Palmer and that justice was not served by the NJ prosecutor, nor by a permissive NFL commissioner. But while I don’t need to see the gory details of something in order to comprehend its ugliness, but I do recognize that this is the case for others.

For varying reasons – lack of empathy or the effects of being bombarded with desensitizing imagery for far too long – many often have to see horror to interpret it as such.

Yes, in a perfect world, it should not have required TMZ leaking footage of Ray Rice knocking out his partner, stepping over her as if she did not matter in the least to him, and spitting on her motionless body to get the public riled up to the extent to which even NFL commissioner Roger Goodell may soon find himself unemployed, but it did. The same can be said of the site publishing photos of Rihanna after her brutal beating from then-boyfriend Chris Brown. Had we not viewed those images, Chris Brown might’ve been able to sing about disloyal “hoes” mere months after the incident as opposed to five years.

That does not in any way make TMZ a crusader. They are not releasing this sort of footage out of the goodness of their hearts. It is about profit and securing it through wetting the public’s insatiable appetite for all things celebrity. Still, no matter their intentions, their actions have yielded real consequences for abusers and those who enable them for those who may have otherwise simply skated by.

There is an obvious cost to that, though. Rihanna did not want the world to see those pictures. The same can seemingly be said about Janay Palmer Rice. Victims often do not want to be viewed as such. Not to mention, there is gross embarrassment in having your victimization ready available for consumption to anyone with an Internet connection.

Read more at EBONY

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Whenever I want to give up on humanity and manage to avoid a conversation with family, I can always count on the Internet to renew my interests in seeing the absolute worst in people. If I need a lil’ extra something-something to really make me cynical, mass media and the numerous insensitive, hallow-thinking, and misogyny-pushing minions they employ are there to pitch in. Case in point, the aftermath of TMZ leaking additional footage of now-former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice violently assaulting his then-fiancée, Janay Rice, and the varying insensitive, cruel, and downright stupid responses to an issue that requires more nuance, larger empathy, and certainly less simpletons talking.

For starters, men invoking the name of Solange and her elevator aggression in order to deflect from the fact that Ray Rice had absolutely no business knocking out Janay cold and stepping over her like she was absolutely nothing.  This is akin to cries over the verdict of the O.J. Simpson trial to counter claims of a racially biased criminal justice system.

Okay, fellas, sure, Solange should have kept her hands to herself, but this doesn’t negate that when it comes to intimate partner violence, men are the primary aggressor.

Likewise, it does not excuse Ray Rice for mishandling whatever “provocation” anyone feels he had before assaulting his now-wife. If you’re a man — especially one as strong as a pro football player — you are able to diffuse a situation without resorting to the violence Ray Rice did. You do not have to punch a woman in the face. It does not matter whether Solange did a powerhouse wheel kick on Jay Z’s head in front of Jesus and threatened to smack him with a Bible if he sassed her too.

Men are mostly responsible for domestic violence and it is the responsibility of men to make it pain and clear that in no certain terms is it okay to beat your partner.

Then there are the village idiots who find a woman being beaten something worthy of “humor.”  Enter the jovial fools who anchor the morning masochism that is FOX News’ “Fox & Friends.” Co-host Brian Kilmeade joked, “I think the message is, take the stairs.” After Dumb finished, Dumber co-host Steve Doocy responded, “The message is when you’re in an elevator, there’s a camera.”

I think the real message is awfully apparent: Some people in front of the camera belong in the back of the bus heading to some job that has nothing to do with broadcast journalism.

Not to be outdone are the people who believe the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL “overreacted” for their handling of Rice (his release from his contract, indefinite suspension). One of those folks with the loudest bullhorn is serial woman beater Floyd Mayweather, who argued, “I think there’s a lot worse things that go on in other people’s households, also. It’s just not caught on video, if that’s safe to say.”

“Worse” instances of domestic violence doesn’t make what Ray Rice did any less reprehensible.

From Mayweather’s despicable perspective, the severity of punishment ought to be based on just how much damage the abuser does. But considering Mayweather’s history – as noted by Deadspin, “having been convicted of, pleaded guilty or no contest to, or pleaded down from at least 15 combined counts of domestic violence, battery, harassment, stalking, and violating a protective order” – one can’t be surprised. Or mortified, for that matter.

Floyd Mayweather is a misogynist with a history of aggression against women, but he is protected by his celebrity and power. As is Mark Fuller, a sitting federal judge in Alabama, who was also caught on videotape beating his wife at a hotel only to be given the lightest of taps on the wrist that’ll allow him a prompt return to the bench without a record.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

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Given her level of talent, range, and yes, beauty, why isn’t Janelle Monáe a bigger deal by now? Her gifts as a singer, songwriter, dancer and overall performer are certainly worthy of larger notoriety. The fact that she opts not to present herself in a way that is ultra sexualized is the antithesis to the current musical landscape that so many say we need (and rightfully so) – making her by default a much more interesting figure than many of her peers.

Janelle Monáe doesn’t have to be as big a star as Beyoncé, Rihanna or Nicki Minaj, but why has she yet to reach the stature of even more apt peers like Frank Ocean and Miguel?

In a then hotly contested review of The Electric Lady, former New York music critic Jody Rosen offered an explanation as to why Monáe’s press doesn’t match the performance of her music: her image may be a wee bit too conceptual, and her music, too referential. In a rebuttal over at Flavorwire, a seemingly very offended Tom Hawking claimed that Rosen pigeonholed her and proceeded to offer a bunch of other musings performed in the key of Kumbaya. It’s a testament to how defensive some fans get when something “different” is criticized, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

While I’ve been a Janelle Monáe fan since the days of The Audition and Metropolis-Suite I: The Chase, thus far it’s her skill as a performer and eye for visuals that stand out most. That’s not unlike her contemporaries, but the difference is that they have the songs to propel them to stardom.

I enjoy her mesh of influences, but when packaged as near 20-song albums, it comes across as both too much two-fold: derivative and inconsistent. Neither of which match the grandiose concepts they’re packaged with.

I wonder what difference a little more cohesion and simplicity would make.

Read the rest at VIBE.

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