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Who knew one neck roll had so much power?

Earlier in the week, various outlets were speculating that The Real might be on the verge of cancellation in light of declining ratings—purportedly sparked by the absence of Tamar Braxton, who was abruptly fired from the show earlier this year.

Well, to be fair to the show, some of these outlets were citing a bad-ratings story published by The Wrap in September 2014. True enough, the show started to sag a bit in 2014, but just a month later, it was being celebrated for besting the likes of Meredith Vieira’s now canceled show in ratings.

However, there is a more recent story about how the show is once again suffering from a ratings drop that has it matching its series low. It remains to be seen whether the show will bounce back as it has in the past—although, if you’ve followed the new season thus far, it might not be surprising to see this show remain in struggle mode.

While the remaining four co-hosts—Tamera Mowry-Housley, Jeannie Mai, Adrienne Bailon and Loni Love—are all lovely people, there is something noticeably missing from the show. That something is the former co-host who sat farther to the left and who continues to be what I feel is the real-life version of that old BET-made animation known as Cita.

Whatever one makes of the youngest Braxton sister, she’s certainly never been dull. Now more than ever, I miss her interjecting her opinion whenever the mood suited her. The same goes for her beginning statements with, “I mean … ” and “Welll … ” and “Tuh, girl … ” Ditto for her rolling her eyes and sucking her teeth.

Wait. I cannot forget my favorite: the very high-pitched, “You tried it!”

Thing is, if you’re going to copy The View, which birthed the basis of this show, as well as The Talk and others, you’ve got to be committed. What both The View and even The Talk understood is that when you create a winning formula, you have to commit to it. For The Real, it’s five different types of women on one panel.

Mowry-Housley is the nice, polite Christian woman who married that nice man from Fox News. Mai is that spunky person with the mom who could easily do her job and everyone else’s, TBH. Bailon is loud, no longer a Cheetah Girl from 3LW, and does a great job emulating Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” strut at the beginning of the show. Love is loud, cracks jokes and will, I guess, fuss at you when necessary to spread viral content online.

Well, they’re all loud—except for Mowry-Housley—but with Braxton’s absence, now more than ever, we can tell that not all loud people are created equal. Who remembers when 702 sisters Irish and Orish Grinstead tried to continue on with the group without Meelah, replacing her with a singer named Cree Le’More? They recorded the lead single “Pootie Tangin’” for the Chris Rock film Pootie Tang, which flopped, and then Meelah ultimately came back.

The Real without Tamar Braxton is basically the song “Pootie Tangin’.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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Have you ever felt pangs of jealousy while reading Baller Alert, Lipstick Alley, or The Shade Room? During Van’s awkward and (somewhat) contentious dinner with an old friend, I certainly felt that way. In this world of wage stagnation and student loans, who wouldn’t want to be like Teairra Mari and boast about having a sponsor?

We learn a lot about Van through Jayde, a friend she’s known since childhood. As “Value” makes clear, these women have taken entirely different directions with their lives. For Van, it was making a baby with the Princeton dropout who manages a guy who’s the Coke Zero equivalent of Rick Ross. As for Jayde, she’s pretty much guaranteed to land a spot on WAGS or Basketball Wives L.A. She only does two things: date rich athletes and enjoy the perks that such a life entails.

We meet Jayde at an upscale Thai restaurant — presumably of her choosing — as Van arrives late. When Van sits down, Jayde compliments her hair before asking if she got it did at Fernando’s, as per her recommendation. Van did not, noting that Fernando’s is probably too expensive anyway. While the two settle into small talk, we learn that Jayde flew into town on a private jet. “Not like the nice PJ,” she adds. “One of those rent-a-PJs.” How humble of her to play down the fact that she flew private, but not the premiere way to fly private.

Jayde is in town to see a special NBA friend, but no, not that last NBA guy she mentioned to Van. This is new booty, a new line of credit. After she leaves Atlanta, she’ll be heading to London, though she hates London because the rainy weather makes her hair frizzy. She loves Paris, though.

Beginning to get the idea? The waiter comes by, and Jayde orders a bottle of wine rather than drink by the glass. Van rolls her eyes as soon as the words leave her friend’s mouth, but, girl, if she’s paying, enjoy that free liquor. That said, Jayde is quite snooty. When Van requests chopsticks, she snickers and explains that Thai people don’t use chopsticks — only Americans think such a silly thing. The condescension practically drips from her voice. Van should’ve told Jayde to shut her black ass up then and there.

Van’s patience does wear thin when the subject of Earn comes up. Shady or not, I was with the homegirl when she quipped, “Y’all are funny. You two are funny.” Sorry, but it’s true. Van and Earn are funny because they aren’t together, but they sleep and live together. It would seem wise to honor the “no sex in the champagne room” rule for such a situation, but different strokes, I suppose.

As Van gets defensive, Jayde gets a bit more lethal. “You used to make fun of girls like you,” she says. Then comes the sermon: “Women need to be valuable. Black women have to be valuable.” Bring it home, Janye! “Why are you messing around with this broke-ass nigga?” In this moment, she sounds like so many Kandi Burruss songs penned for TLC and Destiny’s Child.

Jayde also flips her bang and gets cocky as she defends her way of life. Van seems skeptical, so she lays it all out. “The NBA players I fuck with fuck with me because I provide a service and I am worth it,” Jayde says. “I am cultured, intelligent, and beautiful and that is hard to come by.”

Okay, now she sounds like the woman who Jazmine Sullivan was singing about on “Mascara.”

Van pops back, reminding Jayde that not everyone shares her values. It is like watching a Kardashian group chat try to take on Solange’s new album. An awkward silence follows, as Jayde carefully takes her phone, checks for good lighting, and snaps a photo of the meal for Instagram. Earlier, she pulled up her IG account to show off photos from all the places she’s visited. Girl, you know damn well Van saw them already.

Anyhow, Van dips after the NBA friend and his not-so-cute buddy show up. (“He’s like a lawyer or something, I think,” Jayde offers.) As she walks through the parking lot, Jayde rolls up and tries to convince her to stay. Van reminds her that she would always fix her up with the ugly one. Yeah, she seems like the type. Why are these two people even friends?

Read the rest at Vulture.

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trump-kfcDonald Trump is fat. If Dennis the Menace grew up to be a racist, real estate tycoon with a bad tan and a huge stomach, he would look exactly like Donald Trump. Trump hasn’t been anywhere close to thin since Disney’s Adventures of the Gummi Bears ended in 1991. Yet, one of Trump’s favorite hobbies is mocking the weight of other people.

During Monday’s Real Housewives-reunion-themed presidential debate, Hillary Clinton called out Trump for his bad habit of belittling women like former Miss Universe Alicia Machado. Trump should have let that story die Monday, but as we’ve learned over time, Trump just can’t help himself—especially when it comes to anyone he finds fat.

To wit, the next morning, Trump called into Fox & Friends to dig himself into a deeper hole by claiming that Machado “gained a massive amount of weight, and it was a real problem.” Some, like Newt Gingrich, have come to Trump’s defense. “You’re not supposed to gain 60 pounds during the year that you’re Miss Universe,” Gingrich explained at an event staged by the Log Cabin Republicans, a group for LGBTQ conservatives.

Please note that Gingrich, like Trump, is fat. Meanwhile, on Wednesday night, Trump continued to advocate for himself in an interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. According to Trump, when it comes to Machado, he “saved her job because they wanted to fire her for putting on so much weight.”

So in 1996, when Trump referred to Machado as “an eating machine,” he was helping her. Well, that didn’t seem to do much for her. Since Monday, another former Miss Universe contestant, Jodie Seal, who was Miss Australia in the 1996 event, has shared similar accounts of Trump’s weight-centered line of antagonism. Seal told Inside Edition, “He said to me, ‘Suck your stomach in, or suck your gut in.’” Seal added that Trump “put a lot of the girls down.”

But if he was helping them, what about all the other times he’s insulted people over their weight? Trump complained to Howard Stern in a 2003 interview that he thought Jennifer Lopez’s butt was too big. A decade later, Trump told Stern that Kim Kardashian has “a fat ass.”

Then there is Barbara Res, an executive who supervised the construction of his headquarters, recalling Trump telling her, “You like your candy.” Res also noted that Trump only referred to a city official as “the fat [f–k].”

But, yo, Trump is fat his damn self. How has he managed to get away with this for so long? Trump’s obsession with fast food is notorious. Trump loves KFC, which further explains his poor showing with black voters besides the whole unabashed racism thing. Trump loves a Filet-O-Fish moment from McDonald’s. Actually, Trump just loves the menu.

During a CNN town hall held in February, Trump declared: “The Big Macs are great. The Quarter Pounder. It’s great stuff.” In a New York Times profile of Trump, fast food junkie, Kellyanne Conway, now his campaign manager but then senior adviser, quipped, “I don’t think Hillary Clinton would be eating Popeyes biscuits and fried chicken.”

That’s because Trump’s fat ass would be calling HRC fat if she snuggled up with the Tuesday two-piece special the way he’s prone to. Trump gets away with many things, including his shady business dealings, racist statements, xenophobic statements, and so on. By “get away,” I mean not being denounced as the bigot that he is (we collectively instead argue about the term racist and how it hurts people’s feelings or whatever).

He should not get away with this, though. Now is the time to call out Trump on his hypocrisy. It’s also the time to call Trump “fat boy” for the rest of the campaign.

Is it nice to call people fat? As a former heavyweight lover myself, no. However, special times and hypocritical hefty jackasses call for special measures. When you’re fat like Donald Trump, you shouldn’t be going around talking about other people’s weight.

Read the rest at The Root.

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In creating her latest album, A Seat at the Table, Solange Knowles set a simple, but ambitious goal. Solange was asked to describe A Seat at the Table (out today), in a fan Q&A on Twitter. While her last release, 2012’s the True EP was intended to “provoke joy” and “to challenge what we know as Pop.” On this new album, however, Solange intended to “provoke healing” and lead the listener on a “journey of self-empowerment.”

After just one day, it’s clear that she succeeded. A Seat at the Table is an incredible album.

Opener “Rise” directs the audience to “fall in your ways so you can’t crumble,” and then the makes good on its own command. ASATT is an insider’s conversation in the form of a gorgeously sung, perfectly sequenced, and well produced album, an LP made in the spirit of Aretha Franklin’s Young, Gifted and Black.

ASATT’s lyrics often read like the Twitter timeline of a smart Black person. There’s so much being said here that’s voiced, day in and day out, by anyone who is Black, aware, and trying to maintain sanity and a positive sense of self in a society that constantly tries to strip us of both. If the visual component of Beyoncé’s LEMONADE is a celebration of Black womanhood, A Seat at the Table is an album addressing the Black community at large. ASATT speaks to the angst and frustration shared by all of us—and doesn’t shy away from the root of the struggle.

This album was made to heal and encourage Black people, not explain to white people why Black people need healing and encouragement.

For the first time, it looks like we’ll have both Knowles sisters with albums worthy of year-end top ten lists. LEMONADE and ASATT complement each other, a one-two punch from the most powerful family in music. We deserve our Michael and Janet and, in 2016, Beyoncé and Solange have indisputably ascended to the thrones.

A third voice guides the album. Master P recounts the tale of his New Orleans empire, No Limit Records, across many of the interludes on ASATT. In particular, his recollection of a fight with his brother over an offer of $1 million from a white executive for his label and label on “For Us By Us” stands out. Master P explains he rejected the money because he knew he was worth much more than that.

Percy Miller remains an icon to many because of what he accomplished with No Limit and beyond (Foot Locker stores, gas station, real estate, and sports management company)—all while maintaining ownership and without pursuing a mainstream audience. He made music for his people, and now there are southern Black artists like Solange to follow his lead, as well as document the oral history of one of the most storied Black entrepreneurial icons.

ASATT chronicles many facets of the Black experience in its interludes alone. As Master P puts it, “Black kids have to figure [it] out—we don’t have a rehab to go to. You gotta rehab yourself.” Her father, Mathew Knowles, describes the anger created by segregation and his experience as one of the first young students to deal with integration efforts in the South on “Dad Was Mad.” Her mother and Queen of Instagram, Tina Knowles, elegantly explains why celebrating Blackness and Black culture is not anti-white. White fragility often interrupts Black affirmation. But, just like her mama, Solange won’t coddle white feelings.

On “Mad,” Solange and Lil’ Wayne articulate Black folks’ righteous indignation. Solange explores it further, and more pointedly, on “Don’t Touch My Hair.” And again on “Junie.” On “F.U.B.U.,” Solange takes a moment to address her white listeners directly: “Don’t feel bad you can’t sing along/Just be glad you got the whole wild world.” My heathen ass wanted to shout.

Read the rest at Complex.

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The trailer for it may have been awkward, but once you actually watch Mary J. Blige’s interview with Hillary Clinton on her Apple Music talk show, The 411, in full, you’re likely to find out it’s rather innocuous.

The memes surrounding the image of Blige and Clinton in what looked to be an emotional moment were funny. As were the jokes fired off about Blige presumably bursting into song. However, there was a bit of a visceral reaction to the image of Blige, a black woman, singing in front of Clinton, a white woman, though that actually says more about their own discomfort with certain behavior in front of white people than about Blige herself. Heaven forbid a singer burst into song.

The editing was misleading and, arguably, damaging in the presumption it gave people, but fret not, Negroes and those who fancy themselves allies. Blige is not referring to HRC as “Miss Hillary” during the interview; nor is she telling Clinton, “Pardon the watermelon on my breath.”

What you get between the two is more or less a daytime-talk-show interview on a pay music site. It also plays into the growing trend of outlets having famous people interview other famous people. Sometimes it works; other times, not so much.

Before it begins, it’s clear that Clinton is on friendly terrain. Blige explains before the Democratic presidential nominee arrives, “What inspires me most about Secretary Clinton is that she’s a woman and she’s running for president.”

When Clinton arrives, she compliments Blige about her glasses. Full disclosure: They are fly. Later, Blige compliments Clinton about the ivory suit she wore when she made history by becoming the first woman to accept a major party’s nomination for the presidency. To be fair, Clinton’s suit was white-party excellence.

The questions Blige poses to Clinton are noticeably easy in the beginning. Like, “What do you want people to know about who you really are?” Another: “How has your faith guided you in this process?”

Then come Blige’s inquiries about the role Clinton’s mother played in her life; the relationship she has with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton; and what it’s like being a grandmother.

Now, as for the singing that brought so much attention, context is key. That moment didn’t happen until 18 minutes into the interview, when Blige notes that she’s about to sing a 16-year-old song (“American Skin [41 Shots]”) by Bruce Springsteen. She sings well, despite revealing that she’s worried about how she’ll sound; and then the two have essentially a Hallmark moment. They clutch each other’s hands and Clinton extensively rehashes lines we’ve already heard when she’s been met with similar questions about police brutality.

Blige was not crooning “Pull up your pants and be nice to the po-lice” ideology, which just goes to show what people learn when they wait to see something in full before reacting to it.

We are now at least two decades into the practice of presidential candidates appearing on talk shows to reach out to voters. This encounter was another instance of this, only in digital form. Blige, surprisingly, did note that black people feel that racism gave way to noted obstructionism toward President Barack Obama’s administration, and she asked whether sexism will deal Clinton a similar fate. Did Clinton give MJB the deets on her plans to potentially take executive power to unprecedented levels if need be? No, but what did you expect?

Speaking of expectations, no one should fault Blige for this interview. And as to whether or not Clinton is willing to enter less friendly environments to talk more about policy and how the policies pushed by her husband affected black people, duh. Clinton is not about to go knock on Michelle Alexander’s door and ask for a chat.

Politicians, particularly those, like Clinton, struggling to get key voting blocs to feel enthusiastic about this election, are going to avoid goofing up. Even Obama, in the last stretch of his presidency, ain’t exactly sitting down with anyone to talk about his deplorable record on deportation. That doesn’t mean those questions cannot be posed, though. They just need to be posed by the right people.

Read the rest at The Root.

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This week, Vice published an essay from Jay Stephens titled, “I’m a Young Black Woman and I Support Trump.” A month prior, Time published a piece penned by C.J. Pearson named, “I’m a Young Black Man and I Support Donald Trump.” This is the part where you’re supposed to pretend to be shocked that there are black Republicans.

OK, here goes: Omigod, really, though? Like, Uncle Phil from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but for real?

Great. Let’s move on.

At this rate, don’t be surprised to see similar works published before Election Day. Say, “I’m a Middle Aged Black Woman Who Wants to Be Up Like Donald Trump.” Or, “I’m an Old Black Man Who Is 2 Packs of Cigarettes and a Good Swig of Cognac Away From Death, but Before I Go to Glory, I Want to See Trump in the White House.”

As fate would have it, on Wednesday, Rolling Stone published, “Meet the Black Women Defending Trump’s Record on Race,” a profile of Trump supporters Diamond and Silk—aka those women who look like Nisi and Mickey from B.A.P.S in their older, apparently conservative-leaning years.

In theory, it should be a good thing that there are black people visibly supporting politicians of both parties. However, when the Republican nominee for president is more or less the big, loud baby of Nixon’s Southern strategy and David Duke-styled white supremacist folklore, one can’t help dismissing these people as the delusional, unfortunate attention whores that they are.

Take Stephens, for example, who argues in her essay: “African Americans must look beyond the absurdist racist caricature that has been painted for us of Trump and be prepared to talk honestly about how illegal immigration is one of the many forces hampering our success. Economic vitality—not police brutality—should be the primary political concern for African Americans this election cycle.”

Bless her heart. For she believes she is saying something profound here. I’ll give her an A—not for effort, but asininity.

From Trump’s history with housing discrimination to his antics surrounding the Central Park Five, along with the long list of terrible things he’s said about black people, you’re a fool if you think black people are seeing anything other than what Trump has given us. Even now, as Trump talks about black life in America to predominantly white audiences, he describes us as if we’re Celie and he’s Mister, putting us in our place.

As for the need to focus on economic vitality and not police brutality, there are plenty of well-off black people who can attest to the burdens of racial discrimination and how entrees into higher-tax brackets are not a ticket out of that discrimination. Pearson, the national chairman for Teens for Trump, more or less agrees with Trump’s point that we have nothing to lose by voting for him. A mere glance at his proposals (as generic as they are) will prove otherwise.

I hope with age comes better reading material for that kid.

Then there’s Diamond and Silk, who spent a substantial portion of their Rolling Stone profile saying that Trump is not a racist, despite being provided with bits of evidence, one after another, proving otherwise. When Trump met the duo at a campaign rally, he said, “I hope you’ve monetized this” before instructing them to “do a little routine.”

For the folks mentioned above, this is all very much shtick.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Depending on whom you ask, Ted Cruz is about as likable as jock itch. In July, fellow Republican Sen. Dan Coats of Indiana said of his colleague, “He’s the most self-centered, narcissistic, pathological liar I’ve ever seen—and you can quote me on that.” Coats went on to tell IndyStar, “No matter how conservative you are, you never can meet Ted’s standard. He only thinks of himself; he doesn’t think about party. He’s a wrecking ball.”

Cruz has never been much of a social butterfly. He functions more like a mosquito, flying around much more affable people, waiting for the very second to land somewhere, take a bite and leave a hideous bump for all to see. Thing is, though, Cruz, typically does this under the pretense of principle. He fancies himself a purist in terms of upholding conservative principles.

In July 2015, on the Senate floor, Cruz called his own Senate leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a liar. Nearly a year later, he stood by those remarks. Around that same time, in a separate interview, Cruz said of calls for an apology, “That ain’t gonna happen.”

Cruz maintained that he was telling the truth about McConnell; thus, it was unnecessary to apologize. This is his shtick: “I’m a man of principle; therefore, any rude, divisive stance or action I take is perfectly fine—even if it embarrasses someone I work with or, worse, affects millions of people.” It’s never been admirable.

However, when Cruz appeared at this year’s Republican National Convention and defiantly refused to endorse Trump before an arena (that was not completely full; sad!) of Republicans and with millions watching, even someone who can’t stand him could appreciate the audaciousness. After his speech, Cruz told reporters, “I’m not going to lie to you; what I said last night is what I believe.”

Cruz then went on to make one thing clear: “I am not in the habit of supporting people who attack my wife and attack my father. And that pledge was not a blanket commitment that if you go and slander and attack Heidi that I’m going to nonetheless come like a servile puppy dog.”

Well, now is the time to serve Cruz some Kibbles and Bits and formally dismiss him for the poseur he is.

On Facebook, Cruz wrote: “After many months of careful consideration, of prayer and searching my own conscience, I have decided that on Election Day, I will vote for the Republican nominee, Donald Trump. I’ve made this decision for two reasons. First, last year, I promised to support the Republican nominee. And I intend to keep my word.”

Cruz went on to list other reasons, but they are best summarized with “blah-blah-blah.”

Not only did Trump essentially call Cruz’s wife a boogawolf, but he also suggested that his father was involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy Jr. And throughout the Republican campaign, Trump referred to Ted Cruz as “Lyin’ Ted.” Trump never apologized for any of these things.

Read the rest The Root.

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In tonight’s episode of Atlanta, racial politics are tackled in three distinct ways. In one instance, white people decide Darius isn’t worth their empathy. In another, Earn is mistaken for another black man, despite no evidence that they look similar. In the last one, Alfred’s dark skin, build, and music give way to biases that prevent him the chance to show who he really is.

Oh, and there’s a black Justin Bieber. But we’ll get to him soon enough.

While Paper Boi and Earn go off to a charity basketball game, Darius spends his time at the shooting range. The visual of Darius tipping to the gun store for playtime immediately made me miss the South. I know, I know — America needs gun control. I’m with y’all. However, leisurely trips to the gun range are very much a thing in many parts of the country. I’m still vexed you can’t go on a date to the shooting range in New York City without jumping through so many hoops. Sad!

Anyhow, Darius opts to use the image of a dog rather than a human target. The sight of him shooting a dog baffles other people at the range, and soon enough, two white men walk over to Darius to complain. “You can’t shoot dogs,” says one of the men, who needs to mind his business, before he starts whining about how his kid could have been there. Why would your kid be at the gun range, beloved?

Darius, played so well by Keith Stanfield, raises a fair question in response: “Why would I shoot a human target?” It’s a reasonable concern, though it doesn’t do much in the way of persuading this guy. “I’m not gonna let you shoot a fucking dog in here,” he says.

Moments later, another man who seems to be of Middle Eastern descent jumps into the argument. After siding with Darius, he proceeds to criticize the angry dog-lover for shooting a Mexican target. “America has taken so much. No more!” he declares. “A revolution will rise from within. Blood will spill!”

Darius waits a beat before his follow-up: “Well, I didn’t say all that, but, you know.”

Although Darius’s point is valid, it doesn’t matter. The store owner interrupts the conversation, points a gun at him, and escorts him right on out the door. Except for the lazy stereotyping of a Middle Eastern person — which is quite a bad look for Atlanta — the sequence is a funny illustration of double standards. I’ve often borne witness to white people advocating for animal rights before they do similarly for human beings, especially darker humans. PETA is a fine example of this occurrence, given how the group compares animal abuse to the African slave trade.

Darius could have been practicing to shoot Cujo, but heaven forbid a dog is shot instead of human target. This white man just can’t muster up a thoughtful response to Darius’s inquiry. Why is it okay to shoot at a human target, but not Scooby-Doo’s third cousin? He doesn’t care to answer. He just wants Darius to stop.

Moving on to Earn. While Paper Boi is hooping at a charity basketball game, his cousin/manager finds himself hobnobbing with agents, managers, and lawyers for the rich and famous. (Or, at least, the famous adjacent.) It all happens by accident, of course: An older woman (played by Jane Adams) mistakes Earn for a former colleague named Alonso, talks him up, and invites him to join her in the lounge upstairs. Sensing a business opportunity, Earn decides to play along.

In my mind, this Alonso guy looks like Earn’s polar opposite. I’ve certainly experienced such meritless comparisons myself. During Labor Day weekend, someone told me that they thought I looked like Usain Bolt. A Twitter troll once claimed that I looked like Chris Brown with Down syndrome. The point is, some people think us blacks all look alike even when we don’t share the slightest resemblance. Maybe this woman is an alcoholic. Maybe Earn truly does have a doppelgänger. I doubt it, though, and I’m done trying to excuse white people for thinking all black people look the same.

Read the rest at Vulture.

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Despite previous reports to the contrary, the NFL has not confirmed that Lady Gaga will headline Super Bowl LI in February. To Gaga’s credit, if she were booked for the gig, she’d likely pull out all the stops. I can easily see her flying into the NRG Stadium in Houston on the backs of flying monkeys that worked for Evilene in The Wiz. I’m sure she’d try to up the ante and upstage previous performers who’ve given us iconic Super Bowl moments. She’ll probably nag Jesus – the Black one and maybe the one as depicted in Jesus Christ Superstar – for a duet with Prince’s ghost and Elton John. That would be super, but I think we can wait another year or three to see all that?

I think next year’s Super Bowl halftime show headline performer ought to be Jennifer Lopez. More than all the names we’ve heard associated with the event, Gaga and Adele, Lopez deserves this moment. She is known for multiple things – acting, dancing and fashion, but what I love most about Jennifer Lopez is her work as a performer. I have often referred to her as “Paula Abdul’s Revenge” and “Paula Abdul, If She Could Have Kept Herself Together.” Trust me, there are not many compliments from a gay man born in the 1980s higher than that.

It is the reason why her Las Vegas residency is doing so well. In August, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Lopez set a milestone when she made more than $1 million in box office sales for her residency at Planet Hollywood. The previous record holder? The Legendary Ms. Britney Spears. As Robin Leach noted in that report, “I think it now places J.Lo neck-and-neck with Celine Dion at Caesars Palace.”

It’s because Jennifer Lopez is one of the premiere performers of her generation, and well, even the generation that follows. At 47, Lopez dances better than many of her contemporaries. This would include Lady Gaga, though I would advise her Little Monsters from threatening my life for being factual. We saw this when she hosted the 2015 American Music Awards. You still see it if you look at any clip of her performing during her Vegas residency.

Now, considering she is 47 and the reality that life can be a hateful heifer, I would like to see Lopez do the Super Bowl when she can still dance full out. As much as I enjoyed Madonna’s Super Bowl performance, I do remember her slipping for a second. She played it off, but had she taken one wrong step and we would’ve watched LMFAO rushing to pick her back up. I need Lopez dancing down with her good knees!

And Lopez has an impressive and expansive catalog to choose from, so that’s another check mark. I want to see her include her hits like “I’m Real,” “If You Had My Love,” “Ain’t It Funny,” “Waiting For Tonight,” and “Get Right.” Of course, she has to do “On The Floor” and bring out Pitbull, a man that has somehow managed to be the favorite of suburban moms (the hood remembers the old stuff, though). And to her credit, Lopez’s voice has gotten much, much stronger over time (thank you, Marc Anthony) so we can even get treated to some live vocals, too.

Read the rest at VH1.

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As soon as I found out about the death of Shawty Lo — the 40-year-old Atlanta rapper who died in a car crash on September 21 — I got out of bed and ran in place, in tribute. While fans saluted Lo on Twitter and offline, by playing 2007’s Bankhead anthem “Dey Know” and going through tracks from his dense back catalog like “Dunn Dunn” and “Foolish,” during my salutatory jog, my mind went to snap music’s mid-aughts zenith, and a personal favorite from that time: “Betcha Can’t Do It Like Me.”

A founding member of D4L, Shawty Lo was most aware of his position within the group. “Basically my role was like that of Baby from Cash Money,” he told Billboard in 2007. “I got some street finances and made the group and the label happen, I put a verse down here and there, but that was it.”

So it was. Even on “Betcha Can’t Do It Like Me” — a seesawing, riot of a song — you don’t hear Shawty Lo until about three minutes in, and even there, he merely reiterates his position, rapping, They know I’m Lo, I’m CEO/ Got stacks on deck/ I pop, I roll.

Fabo, ever charismatic, rightfully garnered the most attention from D4L during that period, but if not for Shawty Lo’s money, this track, which served as the group’s debut single, would have never solidified the snap movement. Though the foursome went on to chart mainstream success with “Laffy Taffy,” it was “Betcha Can’t Do It Like Me” that earned them an audience early on.

Now, looking back on Lo and the snap era he helped engineer, there’s often mention of the pushback that the movement faced then. Frankly, in the South, most of us weren’t paying the criticism much mind. There are certain stigmas about the role of southern rap in hip-hop and whether or not the crunk era or the snap movement soiled its history. Much of that comes from non-southerners who hold a purist, snooty view of the culture. Of course, everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion, but those opinions don’t need to be awarded more value and focus than they deserve.

Read the rest at The FADER.

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