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You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation.

No one is as equal parts gracious and commanding while essentially saying “fuck you” as Beyoncé is.

She may no longer communicate the way many would her prefer her to—i.e. interviews—but she is increasingly making sure her voice gets heard. Beyoncé’s new song “Formation” takes numerous shots, each one finding a deserving target. For anyone who thinks there is a secret, evil organization in which Satan and some Scooby Doo-like villains are trying to poison the minds of the masses via secret symbols in videos for songs like “Freakum Dress,” Beyoncé just offered you a sip of shut the hell up. Sip, sip, bitches.

Likewise, for those who engaged in the anti-blackness that questioned Beyoncé’s choice in spouses and the hair texture of her daughter, she couldn’t give any less of a damn. She likes her baby’s Afro and she is perfectly fine with her husband’s Jackson 5 nostrils. Y’all can go fly directly to hell if you don’t like it, and that includes some black folks, too, who are as equally guilty as others for perpetuating the notion that black in every shape, form, and texture is not beautiful.

And then there is the gorgeous, powerful scenery throughout the video.

The biggest pop star of her generation opened her latest video with the drowning of a New Orleans police car. That is two-fold a critique of the treatment of black New Orleanians during Hurricane Katrina and the continued onslaught of state sanctioned violence aimed squarely at black women, men, and children.

The shot of that young black boy in a hoodie before a row of cops in SWAT gear with their hands up will stay with me forever. As will that cop car sinking into the water as Beyoncé lays on top of it. For any cop or cop supporter who finds themselves offended by that imagery, imagine what it is like to be black in this country and rightly fear that you could easily be lying in a pool of your own blood from some trigger-happy, hateful police officer protected by a system that devalues black life.

Meanwhile, for those who are offended when Mr. and Mrs. Jay Z/Mr. and Mrs. Beyoncé don’t speak on social and political issues, look what Houston’s finest just did here. She commented on everything. While dancing down. Over a Mike WiLL Made-It production, which by the way, did not include his tag.

Even that tidbit along with the rest of the information proves Beyoncé is powerful and will wield that power however she sees fit.

No one is as important a pop star to me as Beyoncé. Beyoncé is getting her just due for creating what is being hailed as a very pro-black song and video in “Formation,” but the truth about Beyoncé is that she’s always been very black. She’s been very consistent with offering the world a very specific strain of blackness: black, Southern, and country. This strain has not always been as welcomed as others. She makes no apologies for who she is nor should she.

Read the rest at Complex.

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My memories of the O.J. Simpson trial are scant. I know it interrupted Days of Our Lives. I vaguely remember the Bronco chase. I recall the sentiment that we were all watching “the trail of the century” repeatedly being drilled into everyone’s heads.

What lingers most, though, is the day the verdict was reached. I was maybe 11 or 12, in choir (puberty unjustly stole my dream of being a trap soul artist), and I remember Black kids being elated that Simpson was found not guilty while the other Whites in the room—including our choir teacher—were angry. I’ll never forget my choir director’s look of disdain at what had just happened.

Middle school was the only time I was somewhat around White children and White teachers, and our divide along racial lines had never been clearer than that moment. The majority of us Black kids practically mocked the White folks appearing distraught by what they’d just heard.

I didn’t think much of any of that until last December, when I attended a screening of the first two episodes of The People v. O.J. Simpson at the Paley Center, and a dinner with the cast, along with the prolific writer-producer-director Ryan Murphy, who helmed the FX miniseries.

Since then, I have now watched six episodes, and I can say without question that it’s one of the finest things I’ve ever watched on television. Initially, I was somewhat skeptical of Murphy, who does fantastic work with all things involving spectacle (though such a novelty has its limitations). See: select seasons of American Horror Story and numerous episodes of Scream Queens. But The People v. O.J. Simpson is phenomenal, and it’s a testament to all parties involved, particularly every single cast member.

Cuba Gooding Jr. adds a level of emotional intelligence to O.J. Simpson that I didn’t think existed. There is a strength and fragility to Sarah Paulson’s portrayal of Marcia Clark that manages to make you both resent and feel sympathetic towards her—especially now that we know more of what she dealt with at the time of the trial. John Travolta is illuminating as the comically egotistical Robert Shapiro. David Schwimmer is somewhat hilarious as Robert Kardashian; he comes across as an Armenian version of “Ross” from Friends with dated (even for that era) hair. Still, it works very well.

And Courtney B. Vance is simply riveting as Johnnie Cochran.

As good as episodes one and two are, during the entire night of the screening and dinner, the cast stressed to everyone one on one that the best is yet to come. So it is. The deeper you dive into the show, the more engaging the show becomes. You learn exactly how Johnnie Cochran managed to take control not only of the Dream Team that Shapiro essentially amassed, but how that decision ultimately spared O.J. Simpson from life in prison. (Well, at least that time anyway.)

Likewise, to learn how Cochran mastered the racial politics behind Simpson’s legal strategy recalls the current case Bill Cosby faces, i.e., his choice to hire Monique Pressley. The same goes for the prosecution and how Chris Darden came to serve alongside Marcia Clark in the trial.

The People v. O.J. Simpson has forced me to think about what O.J. Simpson means 20 years later, when I, as an adult Black male, can better process what all happened when I was only a young child.

In the Hollywood Reporter cover story about the show, Murphy’s producing partner, Brad Simpson, touched on how the recent tragedies involving Trayvon Martin, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown and many others revealed racism in the criminal justice system. “As those things happened, we started to realize, ‘Oh, we’re not going to have to be telling people why the race story is important.’ ”

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It happened. I watched an entire episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac and didn’t get the urge to sprint directly into the exposed brick in my New York fishbowl that the real estate market here somehow manages to legally call an apartment. Much of that had to do with two things: the youngest Potomac housewife, Ashley, and brown liquor. Ashley is the least snotty one of the bunch and it brings a much needed remix to the otherwise sad love song this show has become since its debut.

But before we get to Ashley, whiskey-loving wonder, let’s address the person who wears me out most.

“I’ve been a socialite since I was in diapers.”

If show producers opted to never show another scene featuring Katie, I might rise from my chair to give a standing ovation. She’s not a mean person like much of her cast mates, but she does dab all over my nerves all the same. My thing with her is two-fold. She’s very-very-very caught up in dating a white man. There is nothing wrong with a union that may produce an Obama or Mariah, but on this show, which is highly color struck and classist, there’s something so off-putting about the way she more or less acts as if it places her on some pedestal above others.

I cringed a bit when she was hanging out with Ashley and her husband and going on and on about how elated she was to have another interracial couple to hang out with. You know, if your intent is to normalize interracial dating, you should probably treat it as it is: normal now. She almost fetishizes it in a way and I want her to go find something else to forge an identity with.

It’s even more bizarre to see how caught up she is given that Andrew clearly is not interested in marrying her despite her numerous attempts at pushing him into a proposal. He flat out told her last night that had she not nagged him about it for six months, they’d probably already be engaged and subsequently married. Do I believe him? Hell no. You should not have to work that hard to get anyone to marry you.

Then there was this comment: “Andrew has a reputation for being an eligible bachelor in this area, but once this article comes out, everyone’s going to know he is only with me.”

Y’all live together. He takes care of your three children. People still think he’s an eligible bachelor. You have to beg and plead like Brandy to get him to propose to you. He still has not done so.

Katie should go listen to Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin’s “Don’t Waste Your Time.” That’s probably too Black for her, though, so I suggest Fiona Apple’s “The First Taste” as an alternate.

So Not Vanessa Williams and Evil Tina Knowles are trying to forgive and forget.

In what I saw as proof of Karen wanting more camera time by refusing to accept Gizelle’s attempt at an apology last week, Karen invited Gizelle for tea and desserts, only they skimmed the latter (at least on camera). The two were civil, respectful of each other’s feelings, and even matched in attire (camouflage) for the occasion. This is how you have an adult frenemy relationship, beloveds.

If you get divorced and sleep in the same bed as your former spouse, you are doing it wrong.

Robyn talks about her ex-husband, Juan, like they’re still a couple. They behave like one i.e. they sleep in the same bed and I presume have the sex, they co-parent, and they talk about potentially moving because one has a potential job offer. This is couple s**t, but they’re no longer legally married. They’re a divorced couple who probably qualify for common law marriage status. Juan is fine as hell, so I can understand the reluctance to exit a bed with him in it, but Robyn, WYD?

Some of this seems financial as she alluded to him no longer getting NBA checks, the Stock Market and real estate market flatlining during The Great Recession, etc. Still boggles my mind, though.

Read the rest at VH1.

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I wish the rollout for Rihanna’s eighth and highly anticipated studio album, ANTI, had not been so fucked up.

This includes the numerous singles that didn’t make the final product. The somewhat interesting but no less confusing “ANTI diaRY” that saw fans go through various rooms to uncover…hell, I still don’t know. I’m all for a proper build-up for new product, but the puzzle Rihanna’s people hoped fans would work to solve came several months after their collective sentiment amounted to, “Are you dropping this album or nah?”

Of course we cannot forget one of the album’s producers taking to Twitter to complain about ANTI’s delayed release stemming from Travi$ Scott’s disapproval of the final product.

All of this has only added unnecessary pressure on Rihanna to deliver an album that would seemingly make up for our impatience over the three years it has taken for a new complete body of work. And then, when ANTI finally did drop, it was by accident. Tidal apparently didn’t mean to make the album available on Wednesday. The “the oops, our bad, here it goes” approach to delivering ANTI has made everything feel so anticlimactic.

It’s a bit jarring to my nerves because I think it overshadows how interesting ANTI is. First, in its delivery. The most consistent hitmaker of our generation just gave her album away for free to a million people. Calling it a “gift to my navy,” Rihanna tweeted a link to ANTI that came with a code that made the album free for what’s reportedly a first-come, first-served basis. The whole thing is tied to her $25 million sponsorship deal with Samsung, and although Jay Z gave away a million copies of his last album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, to Samsung phone users, it is a bigger deal for Rihanna to do this because unlike Jay Z at the time, Rihanna is still at the commercial peak of her career.

Yeah, a lot of folks give away music for free but not anyone on Rihanna’s level. This is like Janet Jackson giving away The Velvet Rope or All for You. Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry are not giving away albums for free. Will they in the future? If they do by way of corporate sponsorship, they will perhaps, now that they’ve seen what Rihanna has managed to achieve (the RIAA has already certified ANTI platinum). It’s similar to Beyoncé dropping a surprise album. She didn’t invent the surprise album, but she proved she could pull off such a feat, and she made it safe for others to try.

As for the album itself, I think it’s her best yet. Already, I can feel numerous eyes rolling. Nonetheless, ANTI feels like an actual album. It does not have as many standout singles as her previous works, but with Samsung guaranteeing the album would bring in money, she rightfully seized the opportunity to make a project that deviated from what we’ve come to expect from her—uptempo, brash. I felt Rated R didn’t have as many standout songs, but “Rude Boy” was enough to carry it over to the next project.

On ANTI, Rihanna has two options to net a similar scenario: The latest single, “Work,” featuring Drake, and “Kiss It Better,” which I imagine will be played now until my very last breath after it is formally released.

And if she can find a decent radio edit for the DJ Mustard “Needed Me,” she’ll get a fair amount of airplay on “urban” radio, too. On that track, if this is what DJ Mustard meant by trying to push his sound in new directions, sign me up. I’ll also be referring to myself as a savage for the rest of my life. Thanks, Rih-Rih.

Read the rest at Complex.

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As we have come to learn with biopics aired on Lifetime, there tends to be no gray area. They are either absolutely awful like the film made about Aaliyah or the not totally abysmal but bad movie about Whitney Houston’s relationship with her former husband, Bobby Brown. The failure of each movie – and to be clear, this is in terms of quality, not ratings which were abundant each time – is rooted in the lack of involvement from anyone who seemed to truly know their stories (family members, friends, and cherished colleagues).

That is why I maintained a smidgen of hope for Toni Braxton’s biopic, Unbreak My Heart. Usually, I’m wary of an artist being so involved in the storytelling of their lives. As Instagram has shown us, thanks to filters, people will mostly give you the glossy side of their lives. Anything messy and counterproductive to presenting perfection is rare. In this case, though, I’d rather have a filtered look into a legendary singer’s life than a mess of storytelling that was the aforementioned films.

To that end, Unbreak My Heart was as good a biopic as it could be on a network like Lifetime.

There was solid casting and very decent acting from the cast. Debbi Morgan, who played Braxton matriarch Evelyn Braxton gave us a notably strong performance. Now, I will say the woman who played Toni Braxton, Lex Scott Davis, was absolutely stunning, but actually looked like she wanted to sing “Mercedes Boy” or “Love Makes Things Happen” more so than any of Toni Braxton’s legendary singles. Then again, I’m also down to sing some Pebbles so perhaps I’m biased in that way. Speaking of Pebbles, goodness, this woman looks like a super villain in any movie dissecting the LaFace Records era.

In any event, my only critique for Davis is, while it was smart to have her simply lip sync to Braxton’s voice as the story went on, her speaking voice seemed a little too bright and airy for Braxton’s husky tone. Likewise, when it came to do the Braxton sisters, I was a bit distracted by Traci Braxton. As a loyal Braxton Family Values watcher, actress Cortney Scott Wright spoke a little too well to be Traci. I needed to hear Traci’s very deep “Murrlyn” accent in its full glory. Traci Braxton sounds like her voice and diction were sponsored by the Old Bay seasoning drowning whatever crabs Ms. Evelyn just finished boiling. I wanted that. I needed that.

Things I did appreciate, though, were seeing a fuller picture of Ms. Evelyn essentially being Joe Jackson with a Bible instead of a belt. Moreover, Ms. Evelyn’s insistence that Toni kept her sisters in mind as she abandoned original plans to enter the music industry as a group in favor of becoming the solo superstar she was clearly destined to be. Lastly, watching Debbi Morgan reenact Ms. Evelyn threatening to cut Rev. Michael Braxton Sr.’s penis off for cheating on her for nine years of their marriage is a memory I will take with me forever. If you watch the reality show, you know Ms. Evelyn still cannot stand “Braxton.” I can’t say that I blame her now.

My only real critique of the movie is that it came across as Wikipedia cinema in some respects. Toni Braxton’s story, which many of her fans are familiar with, is very complicated and extensive. This is a woman who has dealt with the guilt and shame of leaving her family behind; become an international superstar but find herself broke as a result of an unfair music industry; file for bankruptcy not once, but twice; dealt with lupus; dealt with her son being diagnosed with autism; had a husband whom she loved but could not continue to be married to due to her being the breadwinner and him being seemingly somewhat resentful about her place in the family dynamic; to agreeing to do a reality show for her sisters in response to all the guilt.

Read the rest at VH1.

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When I saw the preview of The Real Housewives of Potomac, I had a feeling that I would not be into High Saddity Housewives. For those not familiar with the phrasing, you can replace “high saddity” with highfalutin; it’s close enough. After watching the series premiere of the show, it is confirmed: I hate this damn show. I hate this damn show so much. I may hate it less if I make it to a second or third episode, but the chances of that happening at present moment appear about as likely as President Obama making a sex tape directed by Donald Trump.

There is a haughtiness by default with many of the shows from Real Housewives franchise. However, there is a specific strain of elitism among Black people like this. I struggle with how to deal with folks like this who boast about lineage and legacy as if they grew up on Downton Abbey. They tend to be far too impressed with themselves, have an addiction to snobbery, and don’t recognize how their perceived pedigree doesn’t really amount to much given American history for Black folks then or now.

They also typically focus a wee bit too much on complexion and features typically associated with white people. These women were all those stereotypes to a tee. Let’s recap many of the awful things viewers heard during last night’s episode, shall we?

“Two light skinned Black girls with green eyes.”

Oh, you’re one of those who think you’re special, huh? Full disclosure, though: Whenever, Gizelle Bryant spoke, I had to stop myself from singing “Hit ’Em Up Style” because she looks like a wealthy version of Blu Cantrell. She also looks like Vanessa Williams in “The Right Stuff” video if you squint every seven seconds. Gizelle ultimately proved to be the least irritating cast member, but that’s like saying you prefer a stomach virus to constipation.

“I guess that’s what happens when you marry someone in the NBA instead of someone with an MBA.”

Who knew an advanced degree-holding dicks had magical non-cheating powers? Answer: no one because that doesn’t make a difference.

Robyn Dixon thought she was being clever. Access denied. Meanwhile, she’s divorced from her husband but sleeps in the same bed with him as they co-parent. I didn’t think divorce worked that way. The more you know. Insert rainbow here.

“He is the Black Bill Gates.”

Karen Huger, who looks like a stuck up version of Tina Knowles Lawson, kept repeating this about her husband, who gives us a chubbier version of Peter Thomas. First of all, if your husband runs an IT company, that doesn’t make him Bill Gates. That makes him the head of an IT company, which is awesome given it ain’t exactly an industry flooding with Black people. I don’t particularly care for Black people associating themselves as the Black version of someone white. There is no need to center whiteness nor does one need to tout their accomplishments by way of ill-advised comparisons.

“Hi, I’m Karen. Wife of the Black Bill Gates.”

This is apparently how Karen introduces herself to people. Girl. Are you for real? By the way, she’s a neck-and-neck favorite to hold the title for snootiest of the bunch, but as irony would have it, Karen grew up on a farm. She needs to stop acting like an annoying version of Charlotte York if her real give is a woman who came up from Charlotte’s Web. Hate.

“What if they’re gay?”

Katie Rost made this joke after discussing with Not Blu Cantrell about Robyn selling her wedding dress on eBay. You see, Robyn doesn’t have any daughters, hence Katie saying what if her sons are gay because you know, ALL GAY MEN LIKE TO WEAR DRESSES OR SOMETHING. Pardon my caps lock. Simpletons who confuse stupid views on gender and human sexuality do that to me. Katie is also the one who boasted about loving white boys, particularly Jewish ones. She’s got one more time to talk slick about the gays before I wish the next white man she has in her bed falls asleep on top of her.

Oh, she also considers being a socialite a full-time job. She needs to really learn to think before she speaks.

“Maybe in the ghetto, but not in the Potomac.”

You know, The Real Housewives of Atlanta may be full of New Money or No Money But Willing To Pretend, but when you look at woman like Charrisse Jackson Jordan, you don’t realize how good we have it in Atlanta. I am curious that someone named Charrisse Jackson Jordan has the nerve to be so quick to reference “the ghetto” pejoratively to put down others less annoying than her.

Read the rest at VH1.

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During the first commercial break of the new NBC drama, Shades of Blue, I received the following text message: “When the f**k did J.Lo get to be a good actress?”

There are two types of critiques about Jennifer Lopez the actress that I often feel are unfair. The first being that she is not a solid actress. I’ve never held that belief, only I do believe for every Selena or Out of Sight, there are the majority of other film roles. Most of them lack complexity, which makes it not totally surprising to notice some see Lopez display depth and range and wonder if she’s been possessed by the spirit of a more gifted talent.

I’m not sure whether that’s a symptom of Lopez’s choice in roles or the roles Hollywood has offered her over the years. I assume it’s the latter so it makes sense that Lopez, like many other minority actresses, have turned to television for better opportunities to show what she can do. Though it remains to be seen if
Shades of Blue will prove to be that, based on the pilot, Lopez appears to be in good hands.

Lopez plays Detective Harlee Santos,a single-mother and right hand to Lt. Bill Wozniak, played by Ray Liotta. They are crooked cops full of righteous indignation. In their minds, their bribe-taking and other law-evading activities are just because they’re doing what’s necessary to keep their precinct safe. Similarly, their paltry pay rate makes their supplemental income a necessity. Unfortunately, Lopez finds herself caught and subsequently forced to work in the FBI’s anti-corruption task force for no other reason than she can’t bear to go jail and leave her teenage daughter behind.

When I saw Det. Santos get placed in handcuffs and hauled away, all I could think was yet another white man is ruining Jennifer Lopez’s career. I immediately flashbacked to Jenny’s time with Ben Affleck. Forgive me for being very Flashback Friday right now, but that was a very dark period in my life.

That said, while I do think the plot twist makes for an interesting show premise, I do wonder exactly how long Shades of Blue can work as a show. There are so many shows on television now with strong premises that seemingly have short shelf lives. When they become hits, the networks stretch them out far longer than they should — typically ruining what should’ve been a short and sweet yet enjoyable run.

I’m curious to see how the writers make this show work beyond a single season, but in the meantime, I’ll enjoy the good acting from each cast member that spares Shades of Blue from being yet another cop show that we don’t need.

Admittedly, though, my immediate reaction to the show within its first few minutes was that Jennifer Lopez is the most glamorous police officer that I’ve ever seen. That leads me to the other critique about Lopez that wears me: the focus on how pretty she is and how it’s purportedly distracting when she’s playing roles like a maid or police officer. I may be caught up in Lopez’s beauty, but not to the point where I ever feel it makes her roles implausible.

To be fair to the Bronx’s greatest creation (sorry, everyone else) I don’t think it’s possible for Jennifer Lopez to look bad. She literally cannot help it. Some people need to suck that truth up and let that boring line of criticism go already.

Read the rest at VH1.

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On “Stay in Your Lane,” Lynntesha Roberts-Henley leads the Word of Faith Cathedral Mass Choir with a powerful message: “Stay in your lane, stop swerving.” Even a heathen Negro like me can see the value of that sentiment for one’s personal life, but as an R&B fan, it applies here just as well. After years of enduring R&B artists pick up the glow sticks to fit in—or more recently, push R&B to its limits to the point where sometimes it seems unrecognizable from the tradition—it’s nice to have certain artists unwilling to deviate from their trademark style.

That’s why there’s something wonderfully admirable about Monica’s consistency. She doesn’t try to recapture the peak success she enjoyed at the start of her career, opting instead to cater exactly to those who love her (which is a fairly sizable audience). As noted in the Atlanta singer’s recent interview on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, Monica will always have singles that perform well, only that tidbit may not immediately dawn on the masses.

Monica knows what works for her, which is what makes her latest album, Code Red, such an enjoyable listen. That is, if you’re a fan expecting Monica to provide what you’re used to her offering. Code Red’s lead single, “Just Right For Me” featuring Lil Wayne, is a standard Monica single: a soul sample and strong vocals conveying a feeling drenched in lovey dovey. In that respect, it follows previous singles like “So Gone” and “Everything to Me.”

On other songs, like “Call My Name” and her two Timbaland collaborations (“Love Just Ain’t Enough” and “All Men Lie”), I’m reminded of Monica’s The Makings of Me. It’s an acquired taste, but I absolutely love Monica when she’s cursing and crooning the word “ni**a” while talking about ain’t-sh*t men. She is basically every conversation I’ve had with an attitudinal, fed up Southern woman about a no-good man in song form.

Trust me, this is a compliment of the highest order.

There are some habits I would encourage her to let go of, however. As good as Monica sounds on “Hustler’s Ambition,” I wish she’d found someone besides Akon to duet with. Like her duet with DMX, “Gotta Go Home,” I’d rather hear Monica perform with someone as strong a vocalist as she is.

That said, though Monica stays consistent with respect to sticking to certain themes, Code Red isn’t completely revisionist. Much like Tamia on Love Life, Monica is undoubtedly aware of current trends, and in select cases on the album, offers a nod to them without going too far left. Enter the sensual, ’80s-leaning “Suga.” It’s the perfect song to shimmy and body roll to while pretending to be a member of Vanity 6 or The Mary Jane Girls (or so I’ve heard).

Read more at EBONY.

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If I had only one word to use to describe Chris Brown’s latest studio album, Royalty, it would be mistake.

The most compelling thing about Chris Brown the artist is that he has all the components to be excellent—as in the sort of megastar his most ardent supporters often say he should be—but rarely is that reflected on his albums. He’s a decent singer with a nice tone, a proven songwriter, and an excellent performer, so in theory, he should be to the 2010s what Usher was to the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, Chris, like many of his contemporaries, lacks a cohesive vision, and that is, more often than not, reflected in his work.

There was some progress in a more singular sound on last year’s X, but he has since fallen back to old habits. Royalty is many things all at once though much of it is not particularly good. One minute Brown is a singer, the next a rapper, and not long after, the quintessential pop act. It’s fine to have many facets of yourself, but without vision, and in Brown’s case, understanding the virtues of editing, the end result is a mess.

What’s even more frustrating is that in trying to do so many different things, Brown steers away from what he’s actually quite good at doing. Take “Wrist,” in which Brown basically goes back to rapper ’n b with lines like, “I’m a champagne-pouring nigga. I like big asses and tits.” Normally, the Houstonian in me would appreciate references to still tippin’ on four-fours, but it comes across as rather banal and beneath Brown’s talent.

The same goes for “Liquor,” in which Brown lazily croons about wanting to drink and fuck. I mean, who doesn’t like that, but again, how many times can one echo this sentiment in his career? On top of that, you hear songs like that only to be placed alongside his pop leanings like “Zero,” “Anyway,” and “Fine by Me.”

On Royalty, you’re essentially taking a trip to the trap, and you make a pit stop at your mama’s house, who is clearly still a fan of pure R&B, only to later end up in West Hollywood; by the end of the trip, you just want to take your ass home and nurse your neck that’s been sent in so many directions sonically.

I can already hear someone arguing that the album is a relic and Brown is no different in releasing a string of singles as opposed to a cohesive effort. Sure, but don’t you want more for someone capable of producing such? Actually, there is one constant found throughout the album: misogyny.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Sometimes I wonder why I even bother trying to refute the myth that black people have a monopoly on homophobia when there’s some colored cornball rushing to perpetuate this falsehood for white consumption.

When I was sent “Being a Gay Rapper: A Social Experiment,” I assumed based on the title that maybe it would be some fresh, funny take on the actual state of homophobia in hip-hop as opposed to the trope that speaks more to 1995 than 2015. Unfortunately, that is not the case here. Instead, comedian – and I’m using that title out of courtesy – Ben Bizuneh focuses on the disingenuous question, “Just how accepted homosexuality is in black America?”

You can’t see me, but at this very moment, I’m trying to stop myself from falling asleep at my desk. In any event, the skit begins with a joke and Bizuneh goes on to note, “It’s even worse in the black community.” That’s a lie considering it’s long been proven that black people make up the largest share of the LGBT community.

There’s also a new study that shows a majority of Christians in the U.S. are now more accepting of homosexuality.

Yes, Pew found that when it comes to support between 2007 to now, seven-in-10 Catholics say “the gay” should be accepted. For others, mainline Protestants (from 56% to 66%), Orthodox Christians (from 48% to 62%) and members of the historically black Protestant tradition (from 39% to 51%) have jumped in support as well. Remember: not all black Christians are in the black protestant tradition.

But why would facts matter to when your aim is to snuggle mainstream media folklore for careerist goals?

Bizuneh goes on to argue, “Black dudes can’t even pretend to be gay for acting roles.” He then lists all of these white actors who have played gay, though Will Smith playing a gay man in Six Degrees of Separation predates them all. Bizuneh then conveniently leaves out the reality that when it comes to offering a wide spectrum of black manhood, Hollywood – controlled majorly by non-black people – is lacking overall.

Are you laughing yet?

Then there is the actual “gag” in which Bizuneh seeks to recreate a hip-hop video based on every cliché he learned about the culture from BET videos that aired damn near a decade ago only with a twist: a song that’s actually about a man giving another man a hand job. In essence, he wants to troll a bunch of straight men by having them stand there and sing along to a song about a man jerking off another man.

Hear this in Toni Braxton’s voice: How many ways, I hate you.

For starters, this skit features someone who doesn’t really seem to understand the culture trying to speak on it. He does by way of trolling people as he has them perform the very stereotypes about gay people that make these kind of straight men uncomfortable. He is reducing gay men to sex, which is no less a stereotype than the effeminate gay male or down low brother (a term that should’ve caught a fatal stroke after that episode Oprah). Gay men are sexual beings, but to goad straight men into performing a song that plays directly into their fears feels fruitless if the intent is to highlight how gay men can – gasp – be just like any other man.

Read the rest at VH1.

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