Were You ‘Acting White?’ Or Just…Corny?

I am not in the business of invalidating anyone’s experiences – particularly if those experiences cause a person a sense of pain. Still, I often worry about those who refuse to let go of certain grievances. I am even more concerned about anyone who can’t grasp that when assessing the collective, his or her anecdotes are the Pam from Total to data’s Beyoncé. So although I can understand how taunts of “acting White” may make select Black folks feel a way, can everyone stop pretending that Negroes hate intelligence to the point that if a Black boy takes AP geography, to many it’s grounds to enter him in the racial draft in exchange for the buff Jonas Brother?

At a recent My Brother’s Keeper town hall, President Obama dug into his bag of lingering adolescent issues to trot out this sad lil’ trope once more. Obama acknowledged that the notion of “acting White” as sometimes “overstated,” but went on to argue “there’s an element of truth to it.” And then he recited lyrics from this sad love song that keeps wrecking my brain like crazy – about Black boys reading too much or dressing a certain way, blah blah.

Both President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama love to discuss this in rooms filled with mostly Black people, only to have others tag themselves in to help spread the lie. Enter Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart, who in his post “Obama goes there on ‘acting White,’” recalls his own experiences and how he, too, felt moved to tell a room full of Black high school graduates to not be afraid of intelligence.  Or as he put it, “I felt a moral obligation to set their minds right on ‘acting White’ or ‘wanna-be White’ before they headed off to college.

But if they’re already heading to college, evidently education doesn’t bother the children that much.

Thankfully, his colleague, Nia-Malika Henderson, noted that the 1986 research paper that popularized the concept of “acting White” has been debunked – again and again and again and again over the course of 20 years. Henderson points to one study in particular that highlights that a “Black student might have Black friends who rib them about taking an AP class, but they also have black friends who encourage it.” That’s what makes Obama and Capehart’s complaints about “acting White” so ironically hilarious: They both argue about knowing where you come from but being a part of the larger culture, but they each seem to miss the idea that making fun of – especially “nerdy” ones – is universal.

So is mocking an individual from one cultural group who is socialized primarily with a different cultural group and takes on many of their mores. Yes, there is more than one way to be Black, but some of the folks complaining conveniently gloss over the reality that some Black kids simply get targeted for not growing up around other Black people. It’s not fair, but it’s not grounds to throw your own under the bus. It’s sort of akin to all of those pieces by Black men who date White women, where the Black men in question skip the part about how their upbringing may have led to a cultural mismatch with many Black women – opting instead to falsely accuse Black women of only wanting “thugs.”

if not all around dense, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to act as if that Black culture doesn’t exist. If you want to get more specific in how we identify it  – i.e. urban Black culture – so be it, but it does exist and I’m not going to deny its existence because some people don’t fit within it – especially not in the name of “fitting into the larger culture.”

The “larger culture” often rejects me for just being Black no matter how well spoken and multi-faceted I prove myself to be so I will gleefully be Blackity-Black-Black with the like-minded folks who share extra shots of melanin.

And since we’re all for anecdotes, I can’t recall ever being teased about being smart. As someone “from the hood” who had a dad that only finished high school and a grandfather who only made it to sixth grade, I was encouraged by them and mostly those around me. Now, people had their cracks – about the way I talked, walked, and anything else that screamed “gay.” Hell, when Ali’s “Boughetto” single came out, people had jokes for days.

Thing is, though, everyone keeps teased about something. Such is life only the amount of internal strife you take in based on the comments of insecure people ought to have an expiration date. Like, by the time you’re president of the United States of America.

Read more at EBONY.

On The Stars and #FreePalestine

As the climate stands now, it would be more beneficial to most celebrities to bare their ass cheeks on Instagram than share any sort of political view on social media.

The latter is a safer bet, given how quickly people are to pounce the second anyone of note steps outside of the bounds of political correctness — with a media cycle all too eager to hop on the issue in the name of clicks and ratings.

Yet, given the widespread coverage of recent events related to the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian conflict, some stars have decided to express themselves anyway — particularly with respect to expressing empathy for those suffering in the Gaza Strip.

Not surprisingly, some have already quickly backed away after tipping their toe outside their comfort zones.

Two weeks ago, Rihanna made headlines after tweeting “#FreePalestine,” but got rid of the tweet less than 10 minutes later. A source close to Rihanna told TMZ, ”She deleted it because it was never meant to be tweeted.

She didn’t even realize it was a tweet until she started hearing from her fans.

More like her publicist shot her a text that read, ‘I know you’ve never listened to me before, but please, pretty please listen to me now and delete that damn tweet, gyal!’

I’m sure NBA star Dwight Howard was sent a similar message that prompted him to delete his “#FreePalestine” tweet, too.

Though the move prompted “Howard the Coward” cries from some people online, it’s easy to understand why both Dwight and Rih-Rih backed away. There is very much a pro-Israeli bias in Western media as recently described by journalist and MSNBC contributor Rula Jebreal.

There have been cracks made at it as of late, but there remains a hypersensitivity to any commentary that doesn’t explicitly condemn one side over the other.

Even Amar’e Stoudamire, who is Jewish and has reportedly funded an Israeli basketball camp, felt compelled to delete an Instagram picture of of Israeli and Palestinian children locking arms with the caption “Pray for Palestine.” 

You literally cannot convey sadness over civilian casualties without being considered some sort of terrorist sympathizer.

We can also look to Selena Gomez, who after posting a picture on Instagram that read “It’s About Humanity. Pray For Gaza,” received this dubious coverage over at TMZ:

Maybe she doesn’t realize Hamas has launched an untold number of missiles in an effort to destroy Israel, or maybe she supports it… we don’t know. Maybe she just wants peace for everyone. We just don’t know.

“We just don’t know.” Really? Like, it’s Selena Gomez. The girl from “Wizards of Waverly Place” and Justin Bieber’s on again, off again bae. They’re acting as if she said “to hell with it all, let’s all get with Sharia law.”

Perhaps TMZ should just go back to its designated lane — digging through Kardashian trash — and forgo dissecting foreign policy.

Case in point, the site went out of its way to point out that One Direction singer Zayn Malik wasraised Muslim after he tweeted “Free Palestine.”

Even more despicable is the site republishing some of the more vile comments sent in response (Malik has also received death threats) and one sad little message about how he purportedly disappointed all of his friends in Israel.

However, when Joan Rivers recorded a pro-Israel diatribe for TMZ, her Jewish faith was left out of the write up and readers were informed “you gotta see it” given it came “from the heart and the gut.”

I sure hope Us Weekly and People never dive into political issues because I would hate to see Beyoncé branded a Stalinist for whatever random stance she takes on a given issue.

You can read the rest at Elite Daily.

“Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” Recap: Stevie J Doesn’t Care If Your Daddy Died

When someone informs you that their parent has fallen gravely ill and subsequently dies, that’s everyone’s cue to momentarily shut the hell up about whatever grievance they have. Mimi’s homegirls got the memo on last week’s edition of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, though Stevie J decided to opt out of exhibiting basic human decency. It’s like you know he got the message because he opted to turn on iMessage’s read receipt, but he decided to get defensive and be inconsiderate all the same.

Following a radio interview in which Mimi apparently took shots at Stevie J for allegedly not paying child support, Stevie J called Mimi to threaten her (and then called her a “ho” before hanging up in her face) and went on to shoot her a text that said “Karma is a bitch” on the day her father died. Some of us can recall the text in question given Mimi uploaded a screenshot of it toInstagram. I’m not sure if Stevie J is upset with Kirk Frost for taking his “Worst Man On Basic Cable Ever” title away from him, but if he’s trying to get that crown back, this is the way to go about it.

After Mimi told her what all went down, Ariane reached out to Stevie J in order to find out “why you acting such an ass, Stevie?” Stevie acknowledges that he shouldn’t have been such an evil asshole towards her, but hates that Mimi acts as if she did the sex tape to support their daughter. While I agree with Stevie that Mimi is trying to come up with excuses on why she made that porn with the Stevie J knockoff, there needed to be a trap door on set for him to fall through the minute he played dumb as to why Mimi has been behaving the way she has. You can’t fuck somebody up in the head and then be like “Why you got a headache, girl?” Ariane may overstepped her boundaries by telling Stevie J that she suspects Mimi did that porn in order to get back at him, but it sounds pretty damn accurate all the same.

They’re equally right about their assessment of Nikko, but Mimi nonetheless feels that when it comes to people who truly hold her down, all she has is her XXX co-star and her daughter. Pray for that misguided woman, America.

Although Stevie J has yet to make amends with Mimi, he’s done a good job of calmingJoseline down after making her feel like the post-arrest Farrah Franklin to Mimi’s Beyoncé. How did “The Good Guy” who is more like a soulful sociopath please his (probably pretend) bride? Setting up a music video shoot for her, naturally.

Here’s my thing about Joseline, the recording artist. I don’t fault the woman for wanting to do music influenced by her Puerto Rican culture, but do they realize that most of us watching them every Monday on VH1 only understand Spanish in the context of “more guac, please?” I mean, yes, expand your market, Puerto Rican Princess, but as far as actually launching your music career goes, you need to be thinking Trina, not trap Gloria Estefan in the interim.

Read the rest at Complex.

Go, Rula Jebreal. Go.

The interesting thing about the notion of “liberal media bias” is that it’s based on the idea that huge media conglomerates would align themselves with liberal principles for the sake of ideology as opposed to a business model. Rupert Murdoch has done a good job of aligning both objectives, but more often than not, for other media companies, cash rules everything around them (C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dollar-dollar bills, y’all). So as much as I enjoy MSNBC, I’m very well aware that the network’s mostly left slant in prime-time and on the early morning weekends is based on creating an outlet to rival FOX News versus standing up for liberalism.

After all, former GOP congressman and political Svengali in his own mind Joe Scarborough sets the tone for MSNBC with “Morning Joe.” And as one MSNBC contributor reminds us, even a “left-wing news network” can have its own biases. While doing a segment on the latest Israeli/Palestinian conflict on “Ronan Farrow Daily,” a defiant Rula Jebreal (pictured) rightly criticized Western-based news stations for their pro-Israeli slant.

While arguing that influence from pro-Israel forces makes the news coverage more favorable to the country and its leader, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and subsequently sways the majority of American viewers to take the side of Israel, Jebreal explained, “Because of AIPAC, and because of the money behind it, and because of Sheldon Adelson, and because of all of us in the media. We are ridiculous. We are disgustingly biased when it comes to this issue.” She went on to add, “Look at how [much] airtime Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis. Andrea Mitchell and others. I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on these same issues.”

When the show’s host, Ronan Farrow, pushed back and claimed that Palestinian guests have been interviewed, Jebreal noted, “Maybe 30 seconds! And then you have 25 minutes for Bibi Netanyahu, and then half an hour for Naftali Bennett, and many others.”

Since then, Jebreal claims that all of her TV appearances have been canceled.

Abrupt cancellations don’t make Jebreal’s comments any less credible, though. On the Sunday morning shows that air on broadcast television, Netanyahu’s face was splattered all over each one. The same can be said of those who “stand with Israel.”

Even on entertainment websites like TMZ, the biases are quite apparent. When detailing actress and singer Selena Gomez tweeting and then deleting a message asking for prayers for Gaza, the site wrote:

“Maybe she doesn’t realize Hamas has launched an untold number of missiles in an effort to destroy Israel, or maybe she supports it … we don’t know.  Maybe she just wants peace for everyone.  We just don’t know.”

This is supremely biased, wonderfully ignorant, and sadly dangerous. Perhaps Gomez was asking for prayers for the civilians who have suffered thanks to this most-recent military action: Per the United Nations, Palestinian health officials said at least 630 Palestinians had been killed and nearly 4,000 wounded — some 70 percent to 80 percent of them civilians.

But apparently, asking for prayers of the civilians is equivalent to supporting terrorists.

Meanwhile, anyone that offers a counter to this Israel narrative has been relatively silenced — some more harshly than others.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

Kanye West Needs To Realize He Chose This Life And He Should Stop Complaining About It

Before I read any Kanye West cover story, I ask myself, “Do I have a lifejacket for all the confusion and irony that I’m surely about to sink in?”

I always assume the answer to be yes only to realize, ultimately, that I once again boarded the Titanic where my last nerve and better senses both end up being swatted to death by the iceberg that is Kanye’s psychosis.

Maybe I’m a masochist or perhaps I’m just one of those fans who, despite so much evidence to the contrary, want to believe that Kanye may be an imperfect spokesperson on various issues, but still continues to have very enlightening things to say — unlike so many of his contemporaries.

To Kanye’s credit, he did say something awfully sweet and valuable while explaining to GQ the joys of his newfound life as a husband and father.

On how both have transformed him, Kanye explained:

Because I don’t like walking around with people thinking I’m doing uncool shit, because there’s nothing I’m doing that’s uncool. It’s all innovative. You just might not understand it yet. But it’s cool. Family is super cool.

Going home to one girl every night is super cool. Just going home and getting on the floor and playing with your child is super cool. Not wearing a red leather jacket, and just looking like a dad and shit, is like super cool. Having someone that I can call Mom again. That shit is super cool.

The same way I saluted Beyoncé and Jay Z’s “On The Run” tour for making fidelity look so damn cool amidst the lingering cries about how “these hoes ain’t loyal,” I appreciate Kanye for making stable and committed relationships appear to be a necessity as opposed to a nuisance.

It’s too bad Kanye West had to soil the rest of Kanye West’s interview by being Kanye West.

When discussing the burden of celebrity, Kanye made the mistake of comparing treatment of today’s stars to those of Blacks in the 1960s. Yes, in Yeezy’s mind our celebrities are “being treated like Blacks were in the ’60s, having no rights, and the fact that people can slander your name.”

Every bit of self-respecting Black in me wants to holler at him the way he yelled at Sway for not having the answers.

This isn’t the first time he’s used that false equivalence to state his case either. In September, Kanye had this to say about the state of radio in a BBC interview with Zane Lowe, “I was talking to Frank Ocean about this and said, like, my mom got arrested for the sit-ins, and now we’re more like the sit-outs, like sit off of radio, and say, ‘Hey, radio, come to us.’”

I’m assuming the ancestors have ignored my request to haunt Kanye in his dreams for these self-important and audaciously asinine analogies.

Fine, but can someone please tell Kanye West — he who likes to lament about racism — to stop trivializing the experiences of the very people who paved the way for him to foolishly blurt out nonsense for the amusement of mainstream outlets?

Read the rest at Elite Daily.

Has Tony Dungy Really Been Reading His Bible?

Writers like Bob Kravitz and Cindy Boren are correct in their assessment that when it comes the controversial comments former Indianapolis Colts head coach-turned-NBC commentator Tony Dungy made about Michael Sam, none of us should be surprised.

After all, Dungy’s opposition to homosexuality and the religious beliefs he cites as an excuse for them are common knowledge. Years ago, while accepting the “Friend of Family” award from the Indiana Family Institute – an anti-gay organization guised itself as some place of solace for those clamoring for the resurgence of the “traditional” family – Dungy expressed support of the group’s push for an amendment banning gay marriage (which is presently in legal limbo).

Dungy said: “We’re not trying to downgrade anyone else. But we’re trying to promote the family — family values the Lord’s way. Family is important, and that’s what we’re trying to support. We’re not anti-anything else and not trying to hate anyone else. We’re trying to promote the family, family values, the Lord’s way. Just like I’m trying to win on the football field the Lord’s way. I’m on the Lord’s side when I’m on the field, and on the Lord’s side when I’m off the field.”

Picture it: Me, rolling my eyes profusely, calling out to God asking why the Lord won’t hire a better publicist than these boils on the butt of human decency?

Mind you, the Indiana Family Institute is the same group that once protested the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s decision to participant in the city’s LGBT pride parade by claiming, ”They don’t sign up for gay pride parades and all that entails with men in police uniforms being howled at by homosexuals.” The adage “you are who you hang with” proves true, so no, it’s not exactly shocking to hear Dungy tell the Tampa Tribune that when it comes to drafting openly gay Michael Sam, “I wouldn’t have taken him. Not because I don’t believe Michael Sam should have a chance to play, but I wouldn’t want to deal with all of it.”

It doesn’t make the comments any less repulsive, though.

Likewise, Dungy’s “clarification” couldn’t be any less useless given all he did was repeat the exact same sentiment in virtually the same language. I’m glad Michael Sam doesn’t especially care about Dungy’s remarks, but I do think they warrant challenging. And when I say challenging, I don’t mean everyone channeling Stephanie Tanner and fixing their mouths to say “HOW RUDE!” in some act of PC Policing. Rather, I want someone to hit the Tony Dungys of the world with their own inconsistent interpretation of the world.

Even if they are a dying breed as the marriage equality movement continues to rack up state-by-state wins, it tap dances my last nerve that Dungy’s ilk get to spew their anti-gay rhetoric and then hide under the veil of religion when called upon it. As I noted in a previous essay on Sherri Shepherd explaining how many Christians grow up believing that homosexuality is a sin and that gays go to hell, there needs to be greater pushback with respect to theology. Let Tony Dungy and his friends at the Indiana Family Institute tell it, when they’re out fighting to keep gays from marrying, Jesus is somewhere on the field with his pom-poms going “GO, TEAM GO!”

This isn’t the case, and for the millionth time, if we want to go tit-for-tat on Biblically-based damnation, someone hand me a rock so that I might toss it at Tony Dungy’s head ‘cause he should’ve been stoned to death for working on the Sabbath.

And when we talk about family in “the Lord’s way,” what type of family is that? Is the one where you get to eat your kids (Jeremiah 19:9), murder them if they curse at their parents (Exodus 21:17), and sell your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7)?

Read more at EBONY.

“Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” Recap: Stop It, Mimi

Who else has noticed over time that whenever Mimi Faust wants to convey sincerity, or more recently, trying to sell the viewing public aloofness about some shit she knows good and damn well she actively was a part of, she uses her “inside voice.” You know, as if we’re not used to seeing her go 0 to a 100 real quick. That’s how last night’s episode of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta started – immediately letting me know that I was about to get a double dose of bullshit. Mimi’s still trying to pretend she did not purposely shoot a porn with Dollar Store Stevie J as her friends continue to approach her with the following plea: Oh Lord, know yourself, know your worth, girl.

Meanwhile, Nikko is in her bed grinning like the villain he is over the response to their cinematic debut—particularly Joseline’s crack about Mimi’s freak levels being as low as a post-mortem Sophia Petrillo. In response, Mimi cracked about the number of folks who have taken a cruise to Joseline’s clitoris and added in the confessional, “One of the reasons why I signed the contract in the first place is because Joseline taught me what not to do. Her naked ass is all over the Internet for free and didn’t make one red cent.”

Well, that’s certainly one way to look at it. Another would be to say that if a teenage prostitute and streetwalker—as in a woman used to making money off her naked body—believes it’s a bad idea to shoot a porn with a man clearly trying to capitalize of your newfound celebrity, that ought to tell you something. However, you can’t tell Mimi anything as evidenced by her reactions to both Ariane and Erica Dixon.

Although many people across social media seemed to find Erica’s criticism of Mimi to be self-righteous, I was not as bothered. Moreover, I don’t find Erica fighting on camera to be equivalent to spreading eagle and hanging from a shower rod with a wannabe member of Dru Hill. I may have been raised differently, but even my OG pops and devout Catholic mama taught me that punks jump up to get beat down, so while fighting in adulthood isn’t the move, I don’t find that comparable to shooting a porn when you have a young child.

That aside, it’s not that I think being an adult film entertainer prevents you from being a responsible parent. No, it’s just that there’s a certain level of honesty and maturity one ought to have if you opt to go down that path—which Mimi has yet to display. She has a business and a TV check, so the porn wasn’t about “providing for my daughter.” It’s more like people like sex and that leads them to porn, and nowadays lower tier stars think they can become Kim Kardashian when they do a “sex tape” so they jump on the bandwagon. Mimi is old enough to remember Xscape’s “Keep It On The Real.” I wish she’d go back and listen to it.

Anyhow, Erica had good intentions but poor as hell timing given she made her case to Mimi while she dealt with news that her father suffered a very bad stroke. If I were Mimi, I would’ve been like, “Just tell me you think I’m the worst person to ever possess a vagina so I can go see my daddy.”

Read the rest at Complex.

Didn’t We Almost Have It All, Azealia Banks?

Dear Azealia Banks:

I wish I could start this off with Tyra Banks’ “WE WERE ROOTING FOR YOU! WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU!” Fact is, most people weren’t rooting for you because you alienated the absolute hell out of the general public over and over again with your Twitter tirades and the numerous beefs with your peers they inspired.

For a millisecond, you were the wet dream for those of us longing to see you capitalize on Nicki Minaj kicking the door back open for female rappers. Unfortunately, it didn’t take you long to basically become the Crypt Keeper of said dreams.

Oh, sis. Didn’t we almost have it all?

Now, you’re probably still on a high from being released by your former label, Universal Music. You’ve been out here tweeting “I’S IS FREE!!!!!” and comparing yourself to Miss Celie. I don’t know you’re so giddy, though. All this has done is make certain that’ll even take longer for you to release a full-fledged album. That is, if you ever do. Not to mention, your label-less life lends further credence to the theory that you’re basically Foxy Brown without the hits.

It makes me so sad that we’ll probably never catch you at the hot spot. Even sadder is that even if you kept the deal with Universal and dropped an album (finally) featuring you and Jesus’ remake of “The Whisper Song,” it’d still only get nominal attention, because again, so many people curse the day you were allowed Internet access.

Read the rest at EBONY.

On The “On The Run” Tour

As someone who firmly believes that God said on the seventh day, “Y’all ain’t ready for the jelly I’m going to send to earth on September 4, 1981,” it doesn’t take much for me to get excited about anything Beyoncé-related.

So while I knew I would be attending the “On The Run” Tour, I was far more interested in seeing Beyoncé on stage than I was to see Beyoncé’s husband and co-headliner, Jay Z.

Having seen him a year ago with Justin Timberlake, I wondered whether or not the pop-pop of rap would be doing the performance equivalent of “you in the club doing the same old two-step.” To Mr. Carter’s credit, not only did he manage to keep up with his wife’s electricity, he showed his own on stage growth — albeit in much subtler fashion.

The Carters kicked off their two-and-a-half set to a sold-out crowd at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Saturday with “03 Bonnie and Clyde.” The two then spent the rest of the show going back-and-forth in well-executed transitions that merged their sounds seamlessly.

Keeping with the theme of the promo video that spread across the Internet mere seconds after it finished uploading, throughout the night, Beyoncé and Jay Z played Tarantino-themed vignettes depicting the couple as outlaws.

For the record, I’m one of those people who believes Beyoncé is a much better actress than “The Fighting Temptations” and “Carmen: A Hip Hopera” let on. But y’all don’t hear me, though. Now for some concertgoers, it might’ve been surprising to see Beyoncé holding guns and cursing out people while acting out a bank robbery.

However, if you’ve been a longtime fan of the Patron Saint of Houston, you’re not at all surprised to see her more aggressive side. It’s always been there, only she became much more guarded as media folk increasingly reached for their scalpels in order to dissect her.

With the release of BEYONCÉ, Yoncé has let said guard down, and thankfully, that’s been carried over to her live shows.

When you’ve been a dominant fixture of pop music as a solo star for a decade, it would be easy to fall into a state of contentment, especially when your contemporaries are better at Instagram uploads and subtweets than they are singing and dancing.

Still, Beyoncé is only 32, so it’s great to see that she’s not resting on her laurels. With both “The Mrs. Carter Show”and the “On The Run” tours, it’s clear that Beyoncé is aiming to spend the next decade of her life raising the bar in terms of the spectacle with which she treats fans. Given the torture that Beyoncé puts fans through to get tickets, they deserve it.

There are differences between the shows, particularly in terms of song arrangements and the noticeably different changes to her choreography. Beyoncé’s style of dance always came across to me as “Tina Turner at her prime at the club dancing to Ca$h Money’s best selections.”

It was always entertaining, but not necessarily the most challenging steps. Now, you see more intricate steps and much more skilled Beyoncé nailing every move. Somewhere Janet and Madonna are going, “Gon’ girl.” Ditto for her costumes. 

With her voice, she’s never sounded clearer and more confident, but if there were any critique I’d have about Beyoncé the singer, it would be that she wasn’t always convincing when singing songs like “Resentment.”

I’ve since changed my opinion as Beyoncé has learned not to convey pain in her voice with growling. I’m not sure if that can be attributed to experience or just more practice, but she’s much more adept at that style at singing as further evidenced by her cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor.”

By the way, as far as Bey changing the lines of the “Resentment” goes, that’s something she’s been doing for several years now. Stop it before the #Beyhive creeps into your nightmares.

And while the debate of whether or not Beyoncé is a feminist, a terrorist or some Illuminati demon trying to get black girls pregnant because she sings about boning her husband in a limousine in certain circles that I proudly ignore, the woman herself continues to uplift women her way.

Read the rest at Elite Daily.

A Strong Suggestion: Step It Up, Rihanna

How does one find inspiration to push yourself harder when you’ve already proven that you could seemingly give half the effort and achieve maximum success all the same? In the case of Rihanna, she could retire at the age of 26 and still go on to be rightfully hailed as one of the most successful recording artists in history. That would probably make Mariah Carey – who will likely have to relinquish bragging rights for the most number one singles on Billboard’s singles charts besides The Beatles to Rihanna sooner than later – very happy, though the chances of Rihanna retiring are as probable as Cassie getting a co-sign from Aretha Franklin.

Yes, in the race for pop culture dominance, Rihanna could grab a chair, order three rounds of drinks and still zoom past all but one of her peers to the finish line. That reality is a testament to her ability to capitalize on the visual, and more importantly, the growing importance of likability thanks to the rise of social media and celebrity culture, as well as one other little attribute about Rihanna that all too often is ignored: The woman has a great ear for music.

Nevertheless, as we wait for Rihanna’s eighth studio album, I wonder where the pop star takes her career in the next few years. No matter how entertaining and captivating she is, the “DGAF attitude” she’s praised for might also prove to be her Achilles heel.

I am a Rihanna fan, but if there’s any legitimate complaint to be made about her, it’s the lassiez faire attitude she continues to have about singing and performing. Rihanna certainly has her moments of excellence – her rendition of “Stay” on SNL or her 2010 America Music Awards performances instantly come to mind – but they are typically far and in between. Some people excuse this and it’s a shame I don’t have the power to issue cease and desist letter.

In the essay, “Confessions of a Beyoncé Dissident,” Ian Russell writes, “Of Mrs. Carter’s peers, Rihanna pops to mind as a performer who, though certainly lacking Beyoncé’s voice, suddenly becomes likable for her DGAF attitude.”

Uh, perhaps for a few, but there’s a reason why Beyoncé can sell out a world tour without a new album while her contemporaries are lucky to do that (or come close enough) with new music and a gang of hit singles already amassed under their belt. More importantly, people may like you now, but what’s going to happen in the next decade or two when Rihanna is on a downswing?

As much as people harped on Jennifer Lopez’s less than stellar first-week sales of her latest album, AKA, J. Lo, who turns 45 this year, continues to out-dance women half her age – including Rihanna. That makes it easier for her to continue being booked to perform at major award shows and managing to fill up venues post-peak of her musical career.

Read the rest at VIBE.