Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

hrdcvrWhen I was asked to write about social media inspiration, I was curious but a little bit clueless.

Most of those inspirational word memes irritate the living hell out of me, which meant I didn’t of offering anything other than penning something mocking and contemptuous. I agreed, but hadn’t the slightest idea of what I was going to say. I said yes because I was being asked by danyel smith, legendary writer and editor, whom I met 10 years ago as an ambitious, extremely eager intern. Then life happened. And some direction from multiple people.

The essay, “A young cynic’s deep-ish dive in the muck and lite magic of social inspo,” lives in HRDCVR. For those of unfamiliar, it is a crowdsourced cultural magazine in the shape of book.

If you are not a contributor and are interested in purchasing a copy, you can do so by clicking here.

I’m proud of the essay and HRDCVR, which is gorgeous in its packaging and successful in its mission to be inclusive — which far too many publications fail to do.

I’m also grateful to have enjoyed yet another space to pen something personal, something more at length, and something that’s more than me simply just reacting. There is more of that to come, but in the meantime, do enjoy this piece. And of course, let me know what you think.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

This year has proven to be one of resurrection for many an artist who maintained a high-priced condo in the land of “Throwback Thursday” and “Flashback Friday.”

Ja Rule and Ashanti have unveiled plans for new music, tour, and a film. I’m not sure who asked for any of that, but hey, “Always On Time” was a big deal a decade or so ago. Likewise, Will Smith and the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff have announced plans for a tour next summer. My auntie and your uncle will be in thang, lit like bic. We can’t leave out Puff Daddy, who sometimes goes by Diddy but suburban moms only know as “J.Lo’s ex-boyfriend” and his looming new album. And of course, there is Janet Jackson, who thus far has enjoyed quite the celebrated return.

Yet, on June 28, 2015, the world received a fantastic and still very flexible look at what could be, only we haven’t heard much since then. To that end, one wonders: Can we get a Lil’ Kim comeback going? I want it and I want it now.

Lil’ Kim has not released a studio album in 10 years. She has released three mixtapes within this period – 2008’s Ms. G.O.A.T., 2011’s Black Friday and 2014’s Hardcore 2k14— but those don’t count (or at least should not). To me, those represent Kim’s decline which included distributing albums via PayPal, feuds withRemy Ma and Nicki Minaj, along with Kim’s noticeably altered physical appearance becoming a major distraction.

Nonetheless, when she performed alongside Puffy at the BET Awards, Lil’ Kim reminded me that above all, she is a great performer— arguably one of the best hip hop performances, male or female. Kim has been actively performing across the country for some time now, proving that not only does she still have it, she might be able to give us more with better material.

Note: I am saying with better material, which means quality producers that can give her the sort of production value her studio albums made us accustomed to hearing. So, we have to get producers like Pharrell on board (the “How Many Licks” remix is an under-appreciated gem) or some hungry youngins’ itching to reach wider audiences (like Kanye West at the time he worked on Kim’s sophomore album).

As far as her appearance goes, Kim looked lovely at the show and has been looking the best I’ve seen her in years. That’s as good as it’s going to get, so let your old photos go and accept where we are today. Now, that butt of hers has expanded into cartoonish measurements. But you know, if Kimberly Jones wants to make her butt cheeks as big as a Scion xB and live her life as Black Betty Boop, that’s her choice. Frankly, I don’t care anymore.

I just want Lil’ Kim to get another chance at creating new music and adding to her legacy.

Read the rest at VH1.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

So I can now say I have a column in a print magazine thanks to the genius that is Kierna Mayo, editor-in-chief of EBONY magazine. She coined the name of the new column – “Pop That” – which explores the intersection of sex and pop culture. She said after reading me for four years, she couldn’t think of any better words to describe me. It’s the best compliment ever.

The first column is running in the October issue. You will see the second very soon. I’m already working on the third. Very grateful to have the space to be thotful. More to come.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Mainstream publications getting their coverage of black culture wrong is about as common as Miley Cyrus referencing marijuana or Donald Trump saying something self-aggrandizing—but it never stops being frustrating. So when Elle Canada decided to label the dashiki “the newest it-item of note,” black people across Twitter did the ceremonial clapback.

First, there was righteous anger. Then came the jokes. After that, others chimed in, adding more fury and funny to the conversation. It’s a familiar cycle because lately, it seems not a day goes by without a media outlet getting something wrong about black culture.

Even before Elle diminished the history of the dashiki, a colorful garment commonly worn in West Africa, there was problematic mainstream discussion of the term “fuck boy.” Popularized by rapper Cam’ron, it’s a way to mock a man’s masculinity and describe him as weak. But when Vanity Fair tried to define the term in a recent piece about Tinder, the black community went up in arms.

Doing her best Carrie Bradshaw impersonation, writer Nancy Jo Sales, defined a fuck boy as “a young man who sleeps with women without any intention of having a relationship with them or perhaps even walking them to the door post-sex.”

Although she notes that “the word has been around for at least a decade with different meanings,” Sales is guilty of the same sin as Elle. She references fuck boy, taken from black culture, and speaks of its importance only in terms of its relevance to white people. To wit, Sales admits that “it’s only in about the last year that it has become so frequently used by women and girls to refer to their hookups.”

As Jezebel’s Kara Brown correctly asserted, “You don’t get to change the meaning of words because all your white friends are using it incorrectly. This isn’t the evolution of language—it is an outright hijacking. And the fact that these people think they have any right to do so is white privilege of the highest order.”

There is a right way to report on a culture you aren’t part of, though.

Read the rest at ntrsctn.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Last night’s Empire was the best so far this season. Much of that can be attributed to the show not being bombarded with way too many distracting celebrity cameos. I’m grateful as I was beginning to worry if the show was going to venture so far left that I was going to fall down with it and bust my damn head. Thankfully, Chris Rock or no other comedian was around playing a cannibal who sells drugs and murders people on the side. Likewise, no one who favors Lionel Richie was playing the role of overzealous corrections officer. No, the show was just about the Lyons family and their ongoing rift for power. Imagine that. The episode was not as fast paced as the first two, but that’s a good thing for the storytelling and for my neck that was growing tired of trying to keep up.

Now, let’s discuss the show.

So they still have family dinners?

Who else watched that awkward dinner Lucious held and instantly remembered why you only go home once or twice a year? No shade. I’m so glad Cookie exited the way she did. You can feed me chicken and give me your expensive wine, but that does not give you permission to insult me. Shout Lucious for grabbing his glass of booze just in time. Someone listened to “7/11” and remembered the advice, “Don’t you drop that alcohol.” Respect.

Does Hakeem make the best music of the show?

While not Roscoe Dash was performing for Sway, all I could think was, “Wait. This doesn’t suck.” That is not the sentiment I’m often left with when people on Empire are sharing music. God bless, though. That said, “Drip Drop” is the one song from the show that I have managed to enjoy and I would give the song Hakeem did last night another go if you got me drunk enough. That’s a huge compliment, FYI. So, if I were Bryshere Y. Gray, I’d be calling Rae Sremmurd for a track for my real album. And Timbaland, of course.

Why does Hakeem insist on being so whipped?

I really want Hakeem to go book himself some therapy so he can realize that he is manipulated by any attractive woman who will show him her vagina and then boss him around. My dude, you should not have to beg an artist you signed three minutes ago to do her job. Where is Camille? I’d rather be uncomfortable watching her practically nurse him than watch him beg Selena Nomez to sing a hook.

How we do we feel about Jamal’s song with Pitbull?

I vote no. Just so we are clear. Come on home to some pure R&B, Jamal.

Did y’all notice Cookie was dressed like Lil’ Kim about to perform “How Many Licks?”

Right when she introduced Hakeem to perform at Lucious’ party at Leviticus. I was just waiting for Sisqo to talk about the center of the oh-oh. Homage.

Can Boo Boo Kitty not go find some music-related folks who don’t have the surname Lyons to work for?

That high saddity girl is stressed, y’all. Cookie can’t stand her, so even if they can work together to take on a common enemy, they’ll never be able to get along. Then there is Lucious, who told her, “If you wanted to go at my boy, you should’ve asked me. I would have let it happen.” What kind of freaky deeky insanity is he on? And that’s what you tell the woman you almost married? Anika, run from that man. Don’t look back.

Is there anything worse than Lucious Lyons’ sanctimony?

So Lucious can pit his sons against each other to stroke your ego, but he takes issue with Andre using his unborn child to gain favor from him? Andre is so fine, but you would think by now he would understand that he deserves better. Oh well, some people can’t be like Puffy and look at Andre Harrell and say, “I need to go get my own thing.”

Read the rest at VH1.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

I would not be at all surprised if Nicki Minaj ultimately joined Beyoncé in her self-imposed exile from interviews with the press. On one end, you want to celebrate the fact that the New York Times magazine opted to recognize Minaj for the pop cultural behemoth she has become. And the you read the actual article and realize how ironic that this profile is for the publication’s cultural issue and the woman interviewing Minaj is clueless.

Immediately, I noticed that when naming female stars of pop music, Vanessa Grigoriadis touts “Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and, as always, Madonna,” but conveniently leaves out Janet Jackson. Jackson has influenced numerous of the aforementioned names, and if we’re truly keeping it funky, actually has a song being played on the radio, unlike Madonna. Then there is Grigoriadis’ musings on female artists reclaiming the word bitch, but leaves out Lil’ Kim, who not only did that and then some, but also helped pave the way for the very pop-rap crossover stardom that Minaj presently enjoys.

But of course, she tried to tie Nicki Minaj to Lady Gaga, which Minaj not surprisingly dismissed as being “so old.”

The lack of insight is almost comical until you realize how this is yet another piece on a Black star penned by a often condescending antagonistic writer who didn’t deserve the assignment. Therein lies the frustration Minaj ultimately shared with Grigoriadis after she posed a rather sexist question about the rift between her labelmate Drake, and her boyfriend, Meek Mill, as well as the lawsuit filed by Lil’ Wayne against Baby.

Grigoriadis asked, ‘‘Is there a part of you that thrives on drama, or is it no, just pain and unpleasantness.”

And that’s when Minaj went off. Rightly so. “That’s disrespectful,” Minaj said. “Why would a grown-ass woman thrive off drama?”

Then, she really let her have it: “That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you? ’Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why.’ As a matter of fact, I don’t. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask? To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did.’’

Minaj went on to dismiss her as “rude” and a “troublemaker” before declaring, “Do not speak to me like I’m stupid or beneath you in any way.” Ultimately, the boot came: “I don’t care to speak to you anymore.’’

Still, not getting it, Grigoriadis closed this piece by opining, “I didn’t know how much of it Minaj really felt, and how much it was a convenient way of maintaining control.”

Read the rest at VH1.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

tamarOn this past season of Braxton Family Values, Tamar Braxton spoke of the pressures of recording the follow up to 2013’s Love & War. The album has sold close to half a million copies, netted her a hit single in its title track, and even earned her a Grammy nomination. It essentially established her as a veritable music star in her own right. One can imagine the pressure to top such feats, only there was one problem: she said it was her second album.

It is not.

The album she is referring to, the newly released Calling All Lovers, is her fourth. For those of us who were fans of Tamar the singer long before reality TV introduced her to the public, who missed her first solo venture and her days as a member of the sister R&B group The Braxtons, we know of 2000’s Tamar. Very rarely does Tamar ever address that album. I’ve always wondered why because, despite not performing as well as it deserved to, nothing on that project is much of a detour from the music Tamar has created since then. It was sassy; it was themed on the bliss and unabashed annoyances associated with love and relationships; it was all gorgeously sung.

I bring up Tamar so much (too much?) because to me, it is a part of her story. And  listening to Calling All Lovers in full is further proof that while Tamar’s journey to singing success took a while, it is well earned.

The album begins with “Angels and Demons,” a cute but no less by-the-numbers reggae-tinged R&B track. It’s a shift for Tamar sonically, but doesn’t represent the biggest change: in 2015, Tamar Braxton is releasing more sexual music than Janet Jackson. Some fans may miss the good old sexytime days of Janet, but for Tamartians, this is a welcomed twist.

On “Love It,” the youngest Braxton sings boastfully, “I got that comeback candy that ya never, ever get tired of/Just like a waterfall, run for cover, baby/I swear it’ll drown ya.”

In its immediate follow-up (a perfect one, two punch of sexual expression), “Must Be Good to You,” Tamar quips, “Ain’t you surprised? I done blew ya mind. Make ya roll eyes back like it’s ’95. Is it good? Is it good to ya?”

I am such a sucker for a song about getting that good-good.

Between those songs and “S.O.N.” (which stands for “sex over nonsense”), it sounds as if Tamar and her husband-manager Vincent Herbert have reached the perfect accord when it comes to conflating Tamar’s high energy and over-the-top personality with the more traditional form of R&B he’s pushed her to do on Braxton Family Values and its spinoff, Tamar & Vince.

Read more at EBONY.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

I approached Janet Jackson’s Unbreakable with equal parts excitement and trepidation.

The rollout for the pop icon’s first album in seven years has been executed ***flawlessly. “No Sleeep” harkens back to the janet. era while its J.Cole-featuring remix manages to add a hip-hop twist without it feeling forced, or worse, futile as many guest raps on R&B tracks have proven to be. The title track successfully conveys the overall theme of the album and Janet’s state of mind—self-assured, truly ready to sing again, and very much in love. The third preview of the album, “BURNITUP!” featuring Missy Elliott, just makes you happy to hear Janet’s voice—with the just as musically missed Missy Elliott, no less—on an uptempo track.

Speaking of, for those of you who have either seen Janet on tour, or, in my case, cheated and hunted down clips online as I await my respective tour stop, it is very much clear that the 49-year-old legend can still out dance the majority of her peers. While there was somewhat of a brouhaha surrounding my claims of Janet’s best student among the crowded crop of new singers, I made it very clear that there will never, ever be another. Her current tour proves that.

With that in mind, the anticipation has given way to the ultimate test: Is Unbreakable actually any good?

One can confidentially say that this is Janet’s best, most cohesive body of work since 2004s Damita Jo, an underappreciated gem overshadowed by the scandal surrounding her Super Bowl Halftime performance. How much that means to you depends on how strict of a Janet fan you are. It does not top the four fantastic albums she released one after another: Control, Rhythm Nation 1814, janet., and The Velvet Rope respectively. No, but Unbreakable does fit quite nicely in between Damita Jo and All for You, two very good albums that serve as bonuses to an already expansive catalog.

It’s hard to compete with yourself, especially when you’re as successful a hit-maker as Janet Jackson has been.

That said, in terms of subject matter and themes, much of Unbreakable reminds me of the music Janet offered in the 1980s in that it shies away from the overtly sexual material she became known for later in her career. Fellatio is not announced; the water pressure of her vagina remains a mystery; none of the new songs provide the kind of material worth pulling out one lucky concertgoer to straddle.

I love freak nasty Damita Jo, too, but the album is not completely virginal. It’s basically making love with your spouse as opposed to turning that cherry out with a partner (with or without commitment). Some folks are into that.

Read the rest at Complex Music.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

It is fascinating yet quite transparent that the loudest critics of Amber Rose and her upcoming SlutWalk, which will be held tomorrow (October 3) in Los Angeles, only reaffirm her mission with their language.

Last month, Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning aired a segment dissecting the event, and one man commented, “I mean, I feel like she’s trying to glorify sluts in general and she feels like she’s trying to put up girl power behind it to make women feel like it’s okay to be this way. And I understand—be all you wanna be—but be it in private.”

After that, he quite predictably proceeded to say that he did not want his daughter to be receptive of such a sentiment. Then came a disingenuous statement from the show’s host, Ebro Darden: men are called sluts and hoes, too, and it is just as bad. Sure, but the idea that it carries the same sting and subtext is a falsehood. That is, unless I missed a separate announcement from NASA that not only does Mars have liquid water, but a community in which slut shaming is a gender-neutral sport.

Meanwhile, the argument that it’s okay to “be all you wanna be” but in “private” is its own comically reductive notion. Why does one’s sexuality have to be private? We do not live in some puritanical society. If we did, a radio station like Hot 97—which plays a whole lot of sexually charged hip-hop and R&B tunes—would not exist.

Moreover, there are plenty of women who do not broadcast the sordid details of their sexual experiences; they are often vilified for having the same sexual desires and urges as men anyway. Women are damned if they do, damned if they don’t in that way. Can we not be children and pretend the “silence is golden” rule would cancel out misogyny and patriarchy? The sooner we do, the faster we can have adult conversations about the way women and men are judged differently on their sex lives.

Since then, I have seen these same talking points posted across social media—majorly from men, but there have been some women echoing this, too. Remember kids: women can be victims of patriarchy, too. They are just as wrong.

To her credit, Amber Rose has done a very good job of explaining her intentions with SlutWalk. On the site, the event is listed as the promotion of “a zero tolerance policy on all hateful language, racism, sexism, ableism, fat-shaming, transphobia, or any other kind of bigotry.”

Read more at EBONY

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

It is a simple sentiment, but no less genuine: It is so nice to see people excited about Janet Jackson again.

As we await the formal release of the pop icon’s new album, Unbreakable, I can’t help but note that this is the first time in an awfully long one that we’ve been in the midst of anything reminiscent of the mania that used to surround her projects. Where people are not merely curious to hear a new Janet album, but giddy and excited. Where fans and news outlets alike speak of Janet’s new music with great anticipation. Where she is truly appreciated once again by the masses.

Part of the excitement is rooted in this being the first new studio album from Janet in seven years. Even so, the album that precedes Unbreakable, Discipline, was not greeted with as much excitement. The single, “Feedback,” was one of the youngest Jackson family member’s strongest singles of the last decade. There was also “Rock With U,” which, much like many of Janet’s best dance-pop offerings, was ahead of the curve, but not as successful as similar works from her expansive catalog. Neither made the impact they should have, but might have with another star at the time.

Before that was 20. Y.O., which produced the R&B hit “Call On Me” featuring Nelly. I tend to pretend that that duet never happened, but it landed at number one on Billboard’s Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It’s a feat not worth dismissing, but it does speak to the reality that any musical success Janet has enjoyed in the past decade has been relegated to R&B and dance charts. Those have long been her staples, but so have the pop charts.

2004’s Damita Jo did not follow the success of 2001’s All For You, though it was a more cohesive offering. To this day, I curse the world for not appreciating the Kanye West-produced single “I Want You.” Janet’s other albums were admittedly inconsistent, but the same can be said of her contemporaries — only she was given less passes.

Due to that wayward nipple and sexist double standards, much of Janet’s past decade was overshadowed by scandal. The reality is that, as Janet’s star dimmed following the Super Bowl, it was her core group of fans who kept her name alive. Janet did go on to tour, and thanks to Tyler Perry, net more success as an actress, but she was once someone as big as brother Michael and Madonna. But people failed to treat Janet as such.

Read the rest at VH1.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone