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To casual listeners, Anybody Wanna Buy a Heart? may sound like a total detour for K. Michelle. Such a verdict means one of two things: You haven’t been listening to K. Michelle very long, or if you have, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. As lovingly brash and vulgar as K. Michelle is, she’s always offered hints that she can be subtle. There are differences in terms of sound and tone, but ultimately, this is K. Michelle giving her softer side equal time.

The album does begin with some familiar terrain: K. Michelle singing about people being upset with her for saying the things they’re only thinking, and fuck them for that because only God can judge her.

Even if the subject matter seems standard (defiantly defensive), the theatrics of “Judge Me” make it the perfect opener. Its follow-up and the album’s first single, “Love ’Em All” remains equally the best introduction to the K. Michelle of 2014. Is a misandrist response to Chris Brown’s misogynistic “Loyal” sort of tit-for-tat? Maybe, though for years now R&B men have demeaned women in a genre traditionally about lifting them up in love. Who can blame K. Michelle for yelling a fuck you right back?

There is also noticeable bite in “Cry” as K. Michelle sings, “Feels so damn good to be cold, and I don’t even care if you know,” but it’s very much a country music-esque kiss-off. The other country-inspired standout, “God I Get It,” sounds like something the Country Music Awards would adore. Then again, Lionel Richie had a commercially successful country album and well…never mind.

When it comes to other new terrain for the Memphis native, one of my favorites is “Something About the Night.” Whereas many of her contemporaries are now chasing the goodness that is 1990sR&B, K. Michelle ventures back to some of the funk-lite fun of even earlier decades. K. Michelle said Anita Baker raved about when the legendary vocalist visited her during the recording of this album. I wonder if “Something About the Night” was the song she gushed about most. In my mind, Anita poured herself a glass of K.’s preferred brand of brown liquor and told her, “Gon’ and scat at this part, baby.”

Or maybe Anita’s favorite is the AWBAH’s second single, “Maybe Should I Call.” K. Michelle confirmed that the song, and the album at large, is about her past relationship with Idris Elba, but such a tidbit is trivial. What matters is that it is one of the strongest R&B singles released this year. Equally breathtaking is the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League-produced “Miss You, Goodbye,” a song that showcases how much more fluid a vocalist K. Michelle is.

Read the rest at Complex.

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For those wondering why the second half of the Love & Hip Hop Hollywood reunion was dumped on Tuesday night as opposed to being stretched out for multiple weeks per the franchise’s usual, the answer is now clear: there wasn’t a whole lot to see.

So much happened during the season’s 12 episodes, but for one reason or another, the cast doesn’t have a whole lot to say about it. Yes, Omarion and Apryl had some contention in their relationship due to his mother’s antics, but that’s done now and they seem to have reached an accord to let that beef die. Frankly, it’s a testament to the maturity of Omarion. He’s the only known person to enter this franchise and come out completely clean. Then again, if he can survive Chris Stokes, what’s a Negro telenovela to him?

Like Omarion, Soulja Boy and Nia have had one hell of a rollercoaster with their relationship, which includes him finding out via social media—where the man truly lives—that Nia’s dad, Teddy Riley, isn’t her biological father, but like Omarion and co., none of them went into any real detail. They’re “good” now according to Nia, or, at the very least, were good the day of the taping. Soulja Boy isn’t as mature as Omarion, but he’s not completely lost the way Ray J and Yung Berg are.

Without those two offering much, much of what we were left with in the conclusion of this show’s first season were the same loud people arguing over the exact same things the day before. Well, Yung Berg did add a few new accusations. Like, him accusing Teairra Mari of giving him head in a back alley. That little fairytale was delivered via Princess, who I wish remained mute because she was never a big deal on this show and it should’ve stayed that way on its reunion specials.

Honestly, I don’t believe Teairra Mari would ever give Berg that much satisfaction. He’s an awful little Leprechaun who needs to go seek therapy to rid himself of whatever root issue has caused him to behave like such a fucking human being. This accusation did once again make Hazel E cry over Yung Berg. I really don’t know what to say about this woman other than lift her up in prayer, y’all. She’s so far gone over someone she admittedly feels is a self-involved, small dick-having sum’bitch. If you already believe this to be true, why offer anymore tears?

Better yet, why be so quick to believe a man you’ve also long felt to be a liar?

Berg has since been fired from the show for allegedly attacking his girlfriend, Masika, but I will note that Teairra Mari could probably take out the entire security team VH1 hired, so you best watch your tiny self, Berg. Detroit people don’t take kind to being tried. That said, “My head is good, baby!” was a wonderful declaration. Incorporate that into a future song, Teairra. Also: Get the fuck off this show.

We did get a little bit of Fizz and his baby mama, Moniece, along with Fizz’s now ex-girlfriend, Amanda. Moniece seems so many steps away from sanity, but dear God, is she ever hilarious. Long live Moniece for declaring: “I’m beautiful. I’m gorgeous. I’m funny as shit.”

Now, let’s get to this show’s biggest tragedies.

Again, Ray J is a terrible person. Terrible people are so often consumed with “loyalty” and the notion of people never bringing any “negativity” to them. This is awful person speak for, “I want people around me who won’t hold me accountable for my actions.”

Princess is the perfect match for him in this respect because she’s literally just here for the status and credit card statements she doesn’t have to pay. At one point, during an argument, with his former assistant, Morgan, Ray J instructs Princess to knock Morgan out. What does Princess do? Gets up and swings on Morgan.

Your name is Princess, but you’re acting like someone’s attack dog. In front of a studio audience for a program recorded on national television.

Read the rest at Complex.

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The shade was thick from the very beginning of the Love & Hip Hop Hollywood reunion as host and LHH executive producer Mona Scott-Young noted that nearly everyone on the cast exchanged bodily fluids. No one is surprised by this, but damn, how incestuous. Shout out to gonorrhea.

That revelation brought on the first question—aimed squarely at Hazel E—and subsequently Yung Berg throwing the first dagger. As soon as Hazel mentioned “girl code,” Berg immediately pounced on her by reminding her that once upon a time, she slept with Ray J. Hazel didn’t deny it, explaining that happened back when she was in college and Teairra Mari knew about it. So, that’s not a violation of girl code really, Berg, but it is further confirmation that you’re an asshole who takes too much joy in humiliating women—especially women named Hazel E.

After that exchange came the segment about Ray J and Teairra’s relationship where Ray J admitted that Teairra was not in fact “delusional” about their “off and on relationship” of eight years. For a few minutes there, Ray J sounded as if he had matured from the juvenile antics he displayed throughout this show’s inaugural season. Hardy har.

Once Ray J’s girlfriend, Princess, hit the stage, it was pretty clear that Ray is very much the villain he portrayed for months on TV. Princess hit the stage and turned immediately to Morgan to say, “What’s up? Fake ass ho.” Your name may be Princess, beloved, but you are not the Puerto Rican Princess, Joseline Hernandez, baby. We don’t need you recycling her genius.

Minutes later Princess and Teairra had a war of words that included Princess claiming Teairra Mari choked on Yung Berg’s dick in a back alley. Why do people on this show upset Teairra Mari knowing those hands were made for cracking skulls and defying the hands of security teams? Princess, you can’t even take on a pool, so you definitely don’t want it with Detroit’s angriest. 

During the exchange, Mona tells Teairra, “So now you’re going to have to be babysat by security because I can’t trust you to not get up?” Has she watched the show she produces? You know what? Never mind. 

Point is, Princess used to date Floyd Mayweather, now she dates Ray J, and despite him tossing her into the pool—which everyone strangely laughed at last night, FYI—she says she’s committed to him no matter what he does. Even Mona looked at Princess like, “Say, word?” Some call it love. I say it’s American Express, PIN numbers, rent paid, all of the Instagram dresses and the designer bags they thotly pair them with.

The next moment of truth was for Hazel E and her debasing herself for Yung Berg all season long. Although the segment was more about Hazel E and Berg, Masika involved herself more than anyone else. LHHH is full of so many characters that are absolutely worthy of hatred. Like, more than any other reality show I can think of, which says so much.

Berg tops the list more than anyone, but Masika is a close second.

At one point, Hazel told Berg, “You’re the one who told me that Masika was an escort.” 

Listen, I can’t stand Masika, and to be quite honest, if you told me Masika let President Obama and Young Thug run a train on her at the same damn time, I’d be inclined to believe you. Masika gives “Karrine Steffans, but with much lower credits.” She, too, revels a bit too much in another woman’s humiliation. No wonder she and Berg remain a couple (however, I need her to go watch Eve’s “Love Is Blind” video pronto).

For some reason, though, that club promoter Sincere was on stage. He insulted Hazel, too, quipping he didn’t understand why Berg ever bothered with Hazel with so many other, “young, beautiful women around.” This man said this as he dressed like some old black pimp from 1973 en route to prom. I’m pretty sure he was the oldest man on stage to boot.

Eventually, Berg and Hazel had their own back-and-forth. Berg said he inserted himself in every hole she had. In response, Hazel said his dick was small enough to fit in her nostrils. Mona rightly then inserted herself, wondering if Berg’s dick was so tiny and unsatisfying, why did you make such a big deal about it all season long? 

Read the rest at Complex.

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Trey Songz’s cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas” is one of the worst things I have ever heard. No, I’m not being hyperbolic. I would never be hyperbolic about someone who makes me as horny as Trey Songz often does. It’s really that terrible. So awful that it’s making me angry just thinking about it.

It sounds cheesy and somehow dually under and over produced. It sounds like a Kidz Bop version of Mariah Carey’s holiday classic, which was already kiddie enough by default. I don’t know who is responsible for this cover, but they must atone.

Trey must’ve known this was a bad idea because he doesn’t even sound that engaged. And honestly, if Trey Songz was going to record a holiday song, shouldn’t it be something like “A Pantry Droppin’ Christmas?” Or “Sexing You On Jesus’ Birthday?” Maybe, “X Marks The Spot On X-Mas.”

I don’t know, something about sex ’cause that’s just what Trey Songz does. I’d be a done for a horny holiday number from Mr. Neverson. Anything but this.

Most of all, y’all know Mariah Carey is going through it in 2014. She already has to worry about Ariana Grande stealing her old costumes and riffs. Now she has to worry about men taking her holiday cheer and tossing it in a blender of bullshit.

LEAVE MARIAH ALONE.

That said, Trey is still bae.

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I didn’t get commissioned to review Mary J. Blige’s new album anywhere so I didn’t think to write about it at all. A friend reviewed it for Jezebel here, though I have to say I enjoyed her writing far more than I did the actual album. The thing about Mary J. Blige at this point is that while her voice is in better condition than it’s ever been, there’s something different. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but ultimately she sounds passionless. It makes for great songs here and there, but complete bodies of work have proven themselves difficult to fawn over.

They’re never bad per se; just not as good as the first four albums.

I feel like The Breakthrough, “Just Fine” and its chart-topping prequel, “Family Affair,” have been “Happy Mary” at her peak and after that, she shrugged her way through recordings of the follow up albums, doing whatever she needed to do to get it done as she waited on tour rehearsal. Mary has to know that even though she continues to drop new product, her fans just want her to perform “Real Love” and “My Life” at the concert anyway.

To that end, I respect Mary for going to London and trying something new. She wants to feel the passion again and who could blame her? And really, Mary J. Blige has long been down to try something new. That’s just who she is. Even so, The London Sessions doesn’t excite me the way it does others.

It’s as if she tamed a bunch of British people who may very well be hot right now, but are ultimately doing diet versions of the music that inspired her before they were even born. Some of the songs are great. Say, “Whole Damn Year” and “My Love.” Overall, I like Mary singing over house music. It’s dually fresh and age appropriate.

Still, something feels missing. Sort of like that Think Like A Man Too soundtrack that came and went earlier this year. That album had some moments, too, but it felt unfinished. I may listen to a few songs every now and again, but I said the same thing about the soundtrack. And My Life II. And the one before that. And the one before that.

But I’ve had this album for a month now and am only now revisiting this week because I was remembered of its existence.

Yeah, I’m just going to go back to the old shit. I hate to be that fan, but in my defense, Mary’s got a whole lot of old shit to listen to.

The London Sessions is like not very great head in a state of extreme horniness. Yeah, you got it in and let it out, but the oldie but goodie always does you better.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here we are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I like Anthony Hamilton, but who told him it was okay to cover Jodeci’s “Freek ‘N You?” When I turned to my friend, Devon, for answers, she said, “Not the streets.” Great answer.

There is something about this that makes me unnecessarily angry. I played this a few times to see if I’m being unreasonable. I probably am, but it doesn’t matter. Still quietly raging about this.

It’s not that Anthony Hamilton cannot sing. I love his voice and his first album will forever be that knock. Unfortunately, I’m just too used to Anthony Hamilton singing about songs that center on fish grease and broken hearts to take anything that deviates from that seriously.

Well, “Float” is kind of sexy in like a I’m 53, still got it and I’m about to smash a 34-year-old who can pass for 28 and a half sort of way. But he’s not like Jodeci sexy. Yes, it’s K-Ci Hailey singing most of the time but I always envision Mr. Dalvin – peak bae – when I turn them on. This makes perfect sense. Do not question me.

Please don’t do this anymore, Anthony Hamilton. Maybe cover D’Angelo since you sang background for him. Or, if you’re that pressed to cover Jodeci, do “Love U 4 Life.” That’s your lane. Speed through it, sir.

Since we’re on Jodeci, I wasn’t disappointed with the Jodeci reunion at the 2014 Soul Train Awards as some were, mostly because I kept my expectations low. For one, all of the members of Jodeci are alive, which is no easy feat given most of their post-The Show, the After-Party, the Hotel lives. Each member actually was able to stand on his own two feet throughout the duration of the performance. The last time I saw Devante, he was drunk and under a table at a Subway in Burbank as outed by TMZ. Life hit that man the hardest given he is basically Timbaland Sr. with Frankie Lymon’s money troubles.

No, they didn’t sing live, opting instead to sing to vocals recorded over 20 years ago. To be fair, we probably didn’t want to hear those rusty ass pipes. Not to mention, lip syncing on Soul Train is a time honored tradition. Maybe they felt like being purists the night this show as filmed.

One issue, though, was that the group did not include “Feenin'” in their roundup of hits. Someone else brought this to my attention. I mean, I like “Feenin’,” but if it up to me, I would have had them perform “Let’s Go Through The Motions.” Who remembers them performing that in Who’s The Man? Stop lying. You remember that movie!

I would’ve also added “My Heart Belongs To You,” “Time & Place,” and then “You Got It” — only because Wendy Williams is at the beginning of the intro. Whew, look at far mama has gone.

Yeah, like why not “Feenin'” or anything I mentioned? B.o.B. may be the bae, but no one wants to hear a new Jodeci track with him on it. If there was any disappointing portion of the performance, it was that. The rest we just have show a little compassion for. We could’ve ended up with like JoJo, Mr. Dalvin without a leg, and Chris Brown and Trey Songz’s kid brother as stand-ins.

Celebrate what you can sometimes, beloveds.

 

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We have reached the end of the inaugural season of Love & Hip Hop Hollywood and all I have are questions. Maybe they’ll be settled at the reunion, but since I’m not hosting, I doubt it. So I’ll just use this space here. Please tweet the cast this link, y’all, ‘cause I have to know some things.

My first question is for Masika: Why are you such a mean-ass bitch?

If you feel that question is gendered replace “bitch” with “asshole.” Regardless, you are fucking evil, Masika, and I really want to know why. My follow up question is, “Do I need to call Iyanla to fix you?” Or better yet, Snoop Dogg, since he’s become the Dr. Phil of this franchise.

Seeing as how Hazel E is psychotic over Yung Berg, Masika didn’t have to rub it in her face that she’s screwing Hazel’s imaginary boyfriend. Masika takes pleasure in other women’s humiliation. If Disney ever produces an animated movie calledThe Thots of Terror, I recommend Masika play the evil empress of Thotville.

Moving on to other terrible people, my next question is for Nia: What is wrong with you?

After Nia and her daughter were involved in a car accident, Soulja Boy rushed to be by her side. It takes a near-death experience for Soulja Boy to show he cares. Apparently, Nia having a miscarriage with the child they conceived wasn’t enough. At one point, Nia says, in the confessional, “That’s the man I love and I MIGHT spend the rest of my life with.”

Woman, get a grip.

When a man blocks you on Instagram after you have a miscarriage, no matter what he does after that, you’ve got to run away from him as opposed to what you did: get his name tattooed on your neck.

In Fizz’s case, he has no choice but to deal with Moniece because he made a baby with her. The two met at the beach to talk. Moniece described the scene as “romantic.” She would, as she is pinning for Fizz to take her crazy ass back. Yo, if Moniece ever turned out to be a serial killer, I would not be surprised. Wait, let me shut up before she makes me target practice.

In any event, Fizz calmly expressed his concerns to Moniece and stressed the need for them to co-parent in peace. Fizz realizes that he’s stuck with this woman for at least another decade so he may as well suck it up and try to get along with her. Doing so will help stop her from spreading alleged lies about him “in the blogs,” and you know, probably stabbing him in his sleep while wearing a wedding gown.

Now, I do have a question for Fizz: Why are you still rapping?

I mean, the verse I heard in the studio wasn’t bad, but I’m surprised he hasn’t tried acting. No, those B2K movies don’t count. I mean, he should go be the blue collar, light skinned savior in a Tyler Perry movie.

Read the rest at Complex.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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