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When Janet Jackson decided to stop depriving us of her splendor, I was elated. “No Sleeep” was her best single in years and managed to be a successful launch for her Unbreakable album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Then came the other part of her comeback: the world tour. You know, the one she abruptly stopped because she decided to have a baby at 50.

When Janet announced that the tour was going to be on hold as a result of one of the best medical miracles money can buy, even her most ardent fans asked for a refund, understandably assuming that Janet was going to circle back and tell us, “I can’t butterfly right now, you guys. I’m breast-feeding.”

However, Janet is indeed back—for the newly rechristened State of the World tour. Tickets for the tour, which begins in September, are now for sale, but as much as I love me some Janet Jackson, I have a few concerns I want to address. Keep in mind, I’ve already purchased my tickets, and the goddess is free to tell me to go fuck myself and enjoy whatever she gives me.

She’s Janet Jackson, so I will, but I have a few requests all the same.

Now, I noticed from the clips of the then-Unbreakable tour that Janet was far more subdued in her appearance than she had been in years past. Moreover, she was curiously skipping select lines in some of her biggest hits. For example, she definitely wasn’t singing about spotting a nice package and needing to ride it, as echoed on “All for You,” anymore.

It was a bit disappointing. Girl, you better sing about riding that dick. You’re Janet fucking Jackson. Of course, she was said to have converted to Islam after marrying her now soon-to-be-ex-husband, Wissam Al Mana.

Last month, New York Post’s Page Six quoted a source that touched on Al Mana’s influence on Janet’s tour.

“She thought he had become too controlling during the pregnancy, and she had already allowed him to dictate her appearance and even the way she performed at concerts,” the source explained. This also translated to her music videos.

The source added,“It drove her crazy, and she felt she was losing her fan base.”

If you’re still stanning for Janet Jackson, you’re in it for the long haul. That said, while those genie pants she wore didn’t scare us off, if Janet is so inclined to bring that old thing back, please do so on the tour. Even if she doesn’t want to let those breasts back out and back her infamous ass up on someone who is ideally as fine as her old dancer, the legendary Omar Lopez, can we at least get some costume changes?

Like, you’re Janet Jackson.

I have seen Janet Jackson in concert, premarriage to Wissam Al Mana. It was an absolute spectacle. I miss the spectacle. Bring the spectacle back, Damita Jo. Give me all of the costume changes and all of the tricks onstage. Gimme, gimme more, essentially.

Read the rest at The Root.

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There are certain rules in life that I try to live by: Be good to people. Never stop trying to be your best Beyoncé. And, most of all: Don’t give a damn about what white people think of you.

Of course, some might say that’s a kind of privileged fantasy. If you are part of a racial minority in the U.S.—most of all, if you’re a Black person—much of your survival and well being is contingent on whiteness and how it treats you. Much of your overall peace of mind has to do with whiteness, and how it defines you in relation only to itself. It’s unavoidable.

 As a child growing up in Houston, I didn’t know that institutional racism and socioeconomic barriers had more or less kept white people away from me. The one inkling I did have came from my working-class mother: even though she didn’t have the means to support me in other ways, she instilled in me a sense of pride—in not just myself, but in those who look like me. Moreover, she made it very clear that when I did come across white people, some would have certain biases against me, and that I should not let them break me.
Later on, I also attended a college that wasn’t predominantly white. Still, as a Black person living in this country, I’m well aware of what society makes of us. That means I take people as individuals, but never forget that, collectively, white people continue to think the absolute worst of me and mine—or, at the very least, harbor racial biases they might not even be aware of. My expectations are set accordingly.

Knowing all of this, I aim to never be consciously burdened by whiteness more than I have to; it’s pervasive enough as it is. And so, while I enjoyed the 2014 film Dear White People, I wasn’t personally invested in its message. Not to diminish the significance of its narrative—white people perpetuating and inadequately responding to racism is a reality that should be talked about and pushed against. But in many ways, Justin Simien’s film was arguably not so much about identity, but more about the preconceived notions other people have about a minority in a majority space.

 At the end of April, Netflix released Dear White People as a series. Many of the film’s elements have been brought over, but television offers a deeper look at the characters. In this expanded version, I found something I could much more directly relate to: Lionel Higgins (DeRon Horton) and his experience of coming to terms with being a gay Black man. Not only did I relate, but I appreciated that story being told—men like us are so rarely seen on television, much less heard from.
Each of the ten episodes of DWP‘s first season is told from the perspective of a different character, all students at a fictitious Ivy League school called Winchester University. In Lionel’s episode, “Chapter II,” we bear witness to his inner struggle: an attraction to his outrageously attractive, no-body-fat-having roommate, Troy (Brandon P. Bell, who reprises his role from the film).

Read the rest at Elle.

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Like many fans, I remember exactly where I was when I found out Prince had died. I was near the end of a lunch meeting when my phone started moving as if it were possessed by a Bedroom Kandi product. The same thing happened to the person I was meeting with. Given how both our lives can be quickly seized by the news cycle, we just assumed that Beyoncé’s new album had finally been released, only to discover that one of music’s greatest contributors had suddenly passed.

To anyone who works in media, the requests for writers to opine on his life, his music and what each meant that immediately poured in will read as unsurprising. I did write about Prince, but even with that assignment and the others I later turned down, I was adamant about one thing: I would not be diving into certain aspects of Prince’s life, like his reported views on gay marriage.

As a fan, I simply wanted to mourn the impact his music and image had had on me rather than contemplate his politics—the latter of which require a dose of BC powder if you are of a much-more-progressive mind. Nevertheless, the curiosity about the shift is understandable.

In her now infamous 2008 New Yorker piece, “Soup With Prince,” Claire Hoffman recalled the following conversation she had with the musician about interpretations of dogma, writing:

Recently, Prince hosted an executive who works for Philip Anschutz, the Christian businessman whose company owns the Staples Center. “We started talking red and blue,” Prince said. “People with money—money like that—are not affected by the stock market, and they’re not freaking out over anything. They’re just watching. So here’s how it is: You’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this.” He pointed to a Bible. “But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.”

When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was like, ‘Enough.’”

An “insider” from Prince’s camp reached out to Perez Hilton (no, I don’t get why either) and claimed that the singer was “very angry” about the depiction, going on to explain:

What His Purpleness actually did was gesture to the Bible and said he follows what it teaches, referring mainly to the parts about loving everyone and refraining from judgment. We’re very angry he was misquoted.

This indirect rebuttal didn’t matter. By then, everyone had long known that Prince had returned to the religion he was raised in and, as a result, became staunchly more conservative. And so, when I was approached, most assumed that I, the gay man and heathen, must have felt something. Eh.

Others certainly did, though, and were sure to address the subject in articles with headlines like “Prince’s Alleged Anti-Gay Stance Is Baffling, for Good Reason” and “Raunchy Prince Was Actually a Conservative Christian Who Reportedly Opposed Gay Marriage.” There were others, such as “Loving Prince, Regardless of His Take on Marriage,” which is where I aligned then and now.

In 2009, Prince spoke with Tavis Smiley and cited his religion to explain why he didn’t vote for Barack Obama, the nation’s first black president:

The reason why is that I’m one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And we’ve never voted. That’s not to say I don’t think … President Obama is a very smart individual, and he seems like he means well. Prophecy is what we all have to go by now.

In 2001, when asked about his faith—notably this idea that he converted—Prince said, “I don’t see it really as a conversion. More, you know, it’s a realization. It’s like Morpheus and Neo in The Matrix.”

As a recovering Catholic, I’m well aware that it’s often easier said than done to break away from the beliefs you are conditioned to accept as ultimate truth. Religion often serves as a refuge—especially if it’s a faith you’re already quite familiar with. Perhaps for Prince, returning to his religion brought him at least some nominal-level greater sense of peace.

Read the rest at The Root.

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In the immediate seconds of the season premiere of T.I. and Tiny: The Family Hustle, T.I. makes light of the obvious as he looks into the camera to declare, “So, uh, things have changed a bit since ya last saw us.”

He nearly soils the moment by then offering a quip about the current joke of an administration, but considering this show – now in its sixth and final season – is centered on their modern family, Tiny filing for divorce at the end of 2016 cannot be so quickly glossed over with humor. And if you were bothered by T.I.’s comments in which he described his marriage as a “distraction,” that moment and those that follow may only further annoy you.

As previously reported, during an interview with Power 105.1’s Angie Martinez, T.I. shared: “It seems to me that marriage and what marriage means and what marriage does — it’s just one of those things that’s going to distract me and deter me. And that could be selfish, but ultimately, I’m the patriarch of this family. And it’s my responsibility to take us onward and upward. I just have a purpose and I don’t always have the time to do the thoughtful and considerate things that a husband should do.”

There is no question about it: T.I. sounds selfish as all hell.

As for his claims about being the patriarch of his family, sure, but based on past instances of sexism, T.I. seems to operate within very rigid prisms of what manhood and marriage look like. His inability to shift away from each is certainly what contributed to the decimation of the marriage. When Tiny speaks about the state of her relationship on the season opener in the confessional, she speaks in gray: “We’re not divorced, but we’re not together.”

However, when Tiny’s friend and former reality show co-star, Toya Wright, stops by to talk about the fallout of her relationship with T.I., she’s much more frank about their problems. She speaks of trust issues — squarely “his work and all the things that come with it.”

Then we return to Tiny in the confessional and we hear her discuss how in marriage “you settle into the roles you create for yourself.” For anyone that’s watched the show in recent years, it’s been quite apparent that the roles of wife, mother, and being the woman behind T.I. had lost their luster.

“Over the years, I wanted more for myself, but Tip say that part a different way,” Tiny revealed. “And now I feel like it’s time to take the space that I need and live the life that’s best for me.”

When people watched T.I.’s interview and his use of the word “distraction” to describe his marriage with Tiny, many highlighted that Tiny was already a part of a platinum-selling girl group. And that she, along with fellow Xscape member Kandi Burruss, co-wrote one of the biggest songs in decades in TLC’s “No Scrubs.” When you are married to a millionaire songwriter who already cemented her stature as part of one of the biggest girl groups of the 1990s, it’s hard to hear a man rationalize that he sucks at marriage because providing for everyone was his main priority.

Read the rest at Essence.

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A couple of weeks ago, June’s Diary, an R&B girl group formed last year on the Kelly Rowland-hosted BET series Chasing Destiny, released a cover of Jodeci’s “Stay.” In the past, the group has released other covers, from Drake’s “Hotline Bling” to Xscape’s “Tonight.” Couple those gorgeous spins with their spectacular rendition of the Negro National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and the quintet has proven itself to be one of the most vocally talented groups to enter the music scene in years.

These covers have been widely shared across social media. But neither they, nor the group’s various buzz singles, like “All of Us” and “L.A.N.C.E.”, have led to a longer release. Without an album, it seems unlikely that the group will garner bigger recognition or success. Or perhaps it’s the other way around; a few months ago, their manager and former Chasing Destiny judge Frank Gatson explained why the group hasn’t released so much as an EP. “We must find a hit song,” he commented wryly on Instagram. “Send one if you have it.” But something else he wrote hit closer to the point: “A lot of people don’t know who @junesdiary is.”

It’s not surprising that June’s Diary hasn’t been able to make a mark. When you think about it, it’s been a while since any R&B girl group has done so. This is disappointing to those of us who grew up with a plethora of R&B girl groups to choose from; gone are the days in which you needed multiple hands to count them all. A couple of decades ago, TLC, Destiny’s Child, SWV, and En Vogue all but defined a musical era, selling millions of albums and releasing huge crossover singles. Other groups, like Jade, Brownstone, and Kut Klose, also achieved success in the ’90s.

Only one girl group has truly risen to fame in recent years. But Fifth Harmony’s success only reaffirms the challenges that directly impact girl groups, particularly those made up predominantly of Black women, in finding the support from a label they need to reach audiences. For one thing, Fifth Harmony is a pop-centered group. Sure, they do dabble in Black music, but typically by way of collaborations with rappers like Kid Ink, Fetty Wap, and Ty Dolla $ign. But that’s not R&B; it’s a tried and true way for a pop act to score multi-format airplay.

Television has noticeably been the lone successful means of breaking a girl group in the modern era. Groups haven’t gained success through the traditional route of releasing singles and going on the road; they have been made on reality shows, which helps secure instant name recognition—the kind that makes it much easier to assemble a fan base. See: Danity Kane before they blew it. Like June’s Diary, which earned a record deal with Epic Records on Chasing Destiny, Fifth Harmony was formed on television and scored a record deal thanks to that medium. Even so, Fifth Harmony came to be via Fox’s The X Factor. Fox, being a broadcast channel, has a much larger reach than BET. And BET has since cancelled Chasing Destiny, which makes it all the more difficult for the fledgling June’s Diary to build a following.

Read the rest at Elle.

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Nearly a month after the release of “shETHER,” Nicki Minaj has two of the most added songs on radio, while Remy Ma still tends to struggle with rapping on beat and finding a fan base who will support her beyond seven minutes.

Already, one imagines select readers will scream that I am a Minaj fan, and thus I have a biased opinion that ought to be rendered null and void. Feel free to shout it a few times more in your mind. Have a sip of water next. Great; we can all move on now that y’all have gotten it out of your systems.
Unlike many of the people who passed around “shETHER,” I listened to Remy Ma’s debut album, There’s Something About Remy; her most recent effort, the collaborative Plata O Plomo with Fat Joe; and many of the mixtapes that dropped in between, like 2014’s I’m Around and 2007’s Shesus Khryst. I’m also familiar with previous Remy Ma diss tracks aimed at Lil’ Kim, like “When I See Her” and “Dat Thing,” which, like “shETHER,” flips a famous track into a lengthy diss at some female rapper more successful than she is.

Remy can rap, but if most people can’t name five songs of hers, what does that tell you? Seven minutes can only get you so far, especially when you’re taking on someone who has been the lone dominant woman in rap for a smooth seven years. That’s why so much of her beef with Minaj feels like déjà vu, in that a lot of casual listeners will big her up for a hot diss record (or one of them, anyway) but not do anything to help her avoid a future episode about her career on TV One’s Unsung.

Worse, Remy blew it the moment she released “Another One,” a track that’s a mix of desperation and dated production while reeking of all that gas folks put in her tank for coming at Minaj. Picture Scrappy Doo swinging against a big monster, only to fall on his tiny-ass tail. This is “Another One,” only it’s scored by the sounds of 2003.

Yet, let some folks tell it, Minaj was somewhere in a corner, crying through at least two fake accents, hoping and praying to EDM Jesus that Reminisce leaves her be so she won’t destroy her career. Much of this mirrors the responses to Lil’ Kim’s “Black Friday,” which took direct aim at Minaj. Who remembers the Baltimore rapper Keys the Problem, who also dissed Minaj? She and Kim eventually became fake friends for a few seconds over a shared hatred of Minaj. I don’t know where Keys is presently, but I hope she’s having a chicken box and peace of mind.

But yes, much like now, folks swore all of this would hurt a then-rising Minaj. You know, because “real rappers” were challenging her. What actually happened was that Pink Friday went double platinum and no one listened to Lil’ Kim’s mixtape, although we all did hear the barrage of disses Minaj sent by way of her singles or songs she was featured on.

The same will happen soon enough, which means that for much of 2017, on various radio formats and at various clubs and bar mitzvahs, many will be singing along with lines bashing Remy Ma.

For some, that is not real hip-hop. As someone from the South who very much enjoys Southern rap, I’ve heard cries of what is and isn’t hip-hop as far back as the original airings of Tiny Toon Adventures. In sum, fuck all of that. Minaj has taken a similar approach, and we see how that’s turned out.

Coincidentally, these are the very folks who have never given Minaj her due and very likely never will. The types who will tout many of the great women in rap of yore, but not contend with the notion that a more contemporary market wasn’t all that accommodating to female rappers who didn’t occasionally board a starship (for the record, I fucking hate that song). The kind who will continue to force themselves to believe that Minaj’s ex Safaree Samuels is the Mister Geppetto to her Pinocchio.

Pop quiz: If Web Browser was so instrumental in making her, why hasn’t he made himself a rap star?

These are the ones who exalt “shETHER” but don’t have much to say about Remy Ma outside the context of, she lit up Nicki Minaj’s ass for several minutes over an instrumental that perfectly encapsulates their love of all things Throwback Thursday and Flashback Friday.

I listened to “shETHER” on Soundcloud, too, and my mouth fell open. Remy hurt my feelings. Even so, will I be playing that in the future? No, and it’s unlikely that many others will, either.

That’s why, as adorable as it was to see Remy Ma dressed like a classy hood auntie at her best frenemies’ funeral and declare her rival dead on daytime TV, Nicki Minaj is doing just fine—so fine that now her old music is rising in sales. But if you’re going to diss someone twice in a few days, why bother apologizing for your actions after the fact?

“I do not condone or recommend the tearing down of another female,” Remy Ma said on BuzzFeed’s Another Round podcast. “That’s not what I do. Anybody that knows me knows that I embrace females. I always want to do some girl-oriented thing. I think we work so much better when we work together and when we help each other.”

Remy referred to Foxy Brown as a “deaf bitch” on “shETHER,” and based on the snippet that leaked, the legendary hearing-impaired emcee sure heard it.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Fresh from a 1999 sugar high sparked by the quick downing of a grape-flavored Fruitopia, I turned on TRL and saw my imaginary boyfriend Carson Daly (whom I dumped two years later for Quddus) introduce the video for a song called “Candy” by some artist named Mandy Moore. When I first saw Mandy, I thought, “Who cloned Britney Spears?”

I mean, I know not all white people look alike, but in the “Candy” video, Mandy gave me Britney Spears, if Britney Spears had longer legs that she didn’t know how to use—much less on a sickening pop beat. No shade. Sometimes a good spin and hair toss is all you’ve got in you. But even though Mandy couldn’t dance, “Candy” was a bop. By the end of the video, I was hooked. She wasn’t necessarily an instant favorite, but now I was paying attention.

 “Candy” may sound a little dated now, but the second you turn it on, I bet you instantly remember how good it is. Just try.

Another stellar single from the Mandy Moore catalog is “Walk Me Home.” It’s one of those cute tracks that recalls some romantic scene in a teen drama. Or, if you were a gay boy in a certain era, a very sentimental instant messenger exchange with a boy you hope really did delete those pictures like he said he would…Whatever, you get it. It’s romance.

As a bonus, I adore Mandy’s aggressive lip quiver in the “Walk Me Home” video. We know she’s lip syncing. All artists lip sync in their videos. So for Mandy to give us such forceful mouth movements just confirms her true artistic commitment. Yes, girl. Sell me the song!

 Then there was “Crush,” which I actually forgot about until I was digging up the YouTube links for the first two songs. However, as soon as I heard the opening bars, I remembered all of the important words (i.e. the chorus) and started swaying at my desk. Hashtag Mandy’s impact.

“I Wanna Be With You” is there for when I want to feel sad, but not like Mary J. Blige’s old hits sad, because I don’t feel like crying in public so early in the day.

As you can see, Mandy’s music career yielded some success: There was a platinum debut and two gold-certified followups. Still, she could easily have set sail for the Island of Lost Pop Acts (I assume Willa Ford and the remaining members of LFO reside there on a villa) after the release of 2004’s Coverage, an album of cover songs from the 1970s and 1980s. If white people had an answer to TV One’s Unsung, Mandy Moore might have had an episode for sure.

But Mandy shrewdly segued into acting, though she kept releasing music over the years. And she really can act, unlike many singers turned thespians. My favorite of her roles is in the 2004 film Saved!, which dealt with religion, homophobia, and teen pregnancy, and co-starred Macaulay Culkin. Hell, I still sometimes fight off the urge to shout “I am filled with Christ’s love!” while lobbing a bible at one of my haters.

Read the rest at ELLE.

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Nearly 20 years ago, the late George Michael released “Outside,” an act of self-deprecation and defiance in response to his arrest earlier that year in a public restroom, in Beverly Hills’ Will Rogers Park. Michael, then 34, was arrested by a plainclothes officer who “observed Mr. Michael engaged in a lewd act.” The misdemeanor charge for cruising led the British pop star to formally declare what had long been suspected: He was gay.

Given the stigmas associated with homosexuality at the time, meeker men might have, understandably, slunk away from the spotlight. Instead, Michael did what he did best: made a pop song. One that winked at his controversy and the prejudices fueling it. In the lyrics of the song, Michael references his arrest for soliciting sex from an undercover police officer, singing: “And yes I’ve been bad/Doctor, won’t you do with me what you can/You see I think about it all the time/I’d service the community/But I already have, you see!”

In the video, he dresses up like a cop and dances in a restroom. The message is clear: no one gets to shame George Michael for being George Michael.

That same year, Michael confirmed that he was gay in an April 1998 interview with CNN.

Much has changed since then. We have marriage equality in America (and the UK); there are hate crime laws on the books; there is somewhat wider representation for the gay community in media, in public office, and other areas of everyday life. And yet, Michael is still very much in a league of his own when it comes to how he owned his sexuality. Not just in terms of his identity, but with respect to his urges, his appetite, and his human right to pleasure.

Speaking to the Guardian in 2005, Michael accurately described the state of gay men in media: “You only have to turn on the television to see the whole of British society being comforted by gay men who are clearly gay and so obviously sexually unthreatening. Gay people in the media are doing what makes straight people comfortable and automatically, my response to that is to say I’m a dirty filthy fucker and you can’t deal with that, you can’t deal with it.”

Michael may as well have been describing American society. This country is still fearful of gay sexuality, afraid of the sexual needs and desires of gay men and women. If that weren’t the case, overt displays of sexuality—specifically between men—would be far more commonplace in mass media. They wouldn’t be causes for alarm.

Marriage equality gradually became acceptable to the majority of Americans because it was homosexuality viewed through the lens of heteronormativity; marriage equality was safe, grounded in a proper long-standing tradition. Michael was never proper. He was never safe. He was sex in public places; he was open relationships; he was whatever he wanted to be.

It’s much harder to sell non-heterosexual people to the pearl-clutching masses in that light. Even in the wake of the horrific shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, both allies and many members of the LGBTQ community themselves championed the adage “love is love.”

As I wrote earlier this year about the tragedy: “We need to be able to consider same-sex identities outside of just romance. Sometimes it’s not about love; sometimes people just want to fuck. Straight people should understand this. We are no different than you all in that regard.”

When it comes to equality, there is acceptance and tolerance. All too often people falsely conflate the two. Equality isn’t just my right to marry, it’s the freedom to live however I choose without stigmatization.

Like many thinking about Michael’s legacy, I first turned to his music. I reflected on the subtly and soulfulness of songs like “Everything She Wants.” I remember hearing his Aretha Franklin duet “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” on the “grown folks” radio station. I recall hearing songs like “Faith” and “I Want Your Sex” as a kid, but not truly getting them until I became an adult.

Read the rest at Complex.

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For so many reasons, Mariah Carey is a gift to the world. We love her for her high octaves (dolphins could never go as high). We appreciate her for her lyrics, which she constantly reminds us typicallymajorly come from her pen (you do what you want when you’re poppin’). We adore her for her eccentricities, like the lovably crazy, only slightly older sister that she is (“auntie” would be an abusive*—see below—term in this instance).

Yet, if there’s one other thing to cherish about the best-selling female artist of all time (Madonna may argue otherwise, but Mariah has long proven that she doesn’t care what Madonna thinks or says), it is her dedication to the advancement of quality lighting and flattering angles. Her battles against oppressive lighting are an inspiration to all of us dedicated to looking like our best selves.

You should never trust anyone else’s lighting. If not for Mariah fighting the good fight on that front, I may have never learned that important life lesson. Ever the advocate, Mariah has used her platform to speak against the ills of bad lighting for years.

In February 2014, during an appearance on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, Mariah had her people come in before the interview began in order to set up lighting that better suited her. I’ve been told personally by a Def Jam insider that once upon a time, when she was signed to the label, Mariah would do this for any meeting she had in the building, and would only take meetings in rooms where the lighting had been improved to her standard.

Moreover, Mariah would never allow anyone to ride in an elevator with her. You know, besides her lighting person, obvi. Why? As she once explained: “I have an extreme aversion to overhead lighting. In my opinion, elevator lighting is toxic!”

Who dares to disagree with the master? Some people might find such practices excessive, but I find them admirable. If self-love is the best love, anyone with the means to protect themselves from toxic lighting is the most beloved of all.

For those looking to further refine their understanding of this important issue, earlier this year, in an interview for The Sunday Times, Mariah explained what constitutes bad lighting. “I have to point out this is a rented house—I would never have overhead lighting,” the goddess noted. “High hats, they call them. In my apartment in New York, it’s all recessed lighting, chandeliers, candles. This lighting is abusive.”

And as we’ve learned on her new docu-series, Mariah’s World, it’s not just where the lighting is that matters. “I have a rule which states that I will not be seen in fluorescent lighting without sunglasses,” Mariah said, adding, “I know it’s very ’90s.” But who doesn’t love the ’90s?

The only time we’ve ever seen Mariah appear in toxic, abusive lighting was in the film Precious, an experience in which, she told Rolling Stone, “overhead lighting was not my friend.”

Read the rest at ELLE.

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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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