Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

I have never known black people to go crazy over store-bought pie. Store-bought pie is the sort of thing that I’ve only understood to be permissible on a weekday when you don’t feel like cooking but you really want to get into your feelings and sweets (with Sade playing in the background). Like, more often than not, a relative will be cursed smooth out for daring to bring a store-bought pie to a holiday dinner. I can literally hear the voice of an auntie judging a cousin as I type this.

Yet, over the past few weeks, nearly every black person I’ve ever met has been obsessing over Patti LaBelle’s sweet potato pie. While that is quite the coup for Patti-Patti, much of the fanfare is rooted in James Wright’s now infamous YouTube video endorsement. If not for that man screaming, shouting and singing about that pie, I would have never known of its existence.

And based on reports now, neither would you.

Sales were described as “just OK” before Wright’s very enthusiastic endorsement, but skyrocketed not long after. The pie has since been dubbed the “Tickle me, Elmo” of food. LaBelle herself reached out to Wright, calling to thank him for his video and even complimenting his singing voice. However, when TMZ caught up with LaBelle more recently, she dismissed the weight of his contribution.

When asked about Wright and if there would be some sort of future collaboration, LaBelle said, “I did it myself.” After the paparazzo noted that the viral video—which has amassed 10 million views—helped the pies sell out, LaBelle said in response, “I was selling out before the guy did his wonderful video.”




We live in an age of media in which people are afraid to call a thing a thing. I know this is not as bad as Donald Trump’s flat-out lies, but a lie is a lie is a lie. And Patti-Patti, what you told that TMZ cameraman is a lie.

You were not selling out those pies before James Wright turned on his camera and devoured that pie like it was his last meal. Those pies were not flying off the shelves before James Wright acted as if he had just climaxed before lodging that pie down his throat. Those pies were not being marked up and sold on eBay until James Wright started eating that pie—without heating it up, but different strokes—and singing your songs as only one of “the kids” would.

All I can hear right now is President Barack Obama’s “You didn’t build that” commentary. It takes a team—starting with Kinna Thomas, senior buyer of cakes and pies at Wal-Mart, who got this whole Patti LaBelle sweet potato pie chain going.

I feel like I’m being disrespectful to an elder, and I may or may not have to go and cut myself a switch for writing this, but Ms. Patti-Patti, you have got to sip some chill, topped with reason. You may be known as a crooner and quite the cook, but the masses were not scouring the earth for some store-bought pie sold only at Wal-Mart until James Wright sent them there.

Does that mean you owe him a check? Technically, no. I mean, no one told him to upload that video and essentially create the best commercial ever. It would be nice, but Wright created that moment of his own volition. That said, you do owe the man the credit he is due.

Read the rest at The Root.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

I’m very well aware of how painful it can be to be harshly criticized by your own. Nevertheless, it’s imperative we don’t take our anecdotes to improperly assess the greater community. That’s why after watching K. Michelle’s interview with B. Scott, I couldn’t help be disappointed in both her and those who made her feel the way she does.

The subject of K. Michelle’s infamous relationship with Idris Elba came up, and according to the very talented singer-songwriter, it was Black women who condemned her most over it.

Ever candid, K. Michelle explained: “I thought it was disgusting, the backlash that I got from Black women. My whole career, the women that I fight for have been the women that attack me. And, it’s crazy—because when I told about my abuse, Black women attacked me. And they said I was a liar. And then when the reports came out, [they’d say] ‘oh, I always believed you!’ That doesn’t heal that scar that you called me a liar for two years and I’m trying to be a role model.”

The Memphis reality television star went on to discuss the aftermath of her eight-month relationship, adding: “We parted on mutual terms, so I never bashed him and I never will. When I sang about what it was, it was Black women. They were [tweeting] him, and were like, ‘Eww, she’s not good enough for you.’ It was bad. They’d [say things] like ‘Eww, he would never…’ or ‘Eww, why are you dating someone like that?’ ”

I will not challenge the validity of K. Michelle’s question, but I will ask one thing: Who is your core demographic, beloved? When I think of K. Michelle’s core fan base, I include myself, but I think more so my sister, my homegirl and my auntie (who used to love Millie Jackson). When I see people discussing K. Michelle on social media, they don’t look like Miley Cyrus. So sure, Black women might’ve been K. Michelle’s harshest critics, but are these not the same women majorly buying her albums and filling the venues of her concerts?

These comments come on the heels of K. Michelle taking to Instagram to declare: “I believe I’m not Black or White but I’m actually a mermaid. I believe there is no talent required to be in the music industry. I believe the color of my skin shouldn’t determine the genre of my music!”

I believe in miracles and love’s the miracle. She also added that she likes a handsome White man. I enjoy Ryan Phillippe’s everything, but I also know I’m a Black man, not King Triton. There’s a sense of self-loathing here and it’s unsettling.

Unfortunately, K. Michelle is not the only singer I’m a fan of recently guilty of this bad practice.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

If People magazine is the Bible, and Us Weekly, the Quran, then celebrity gossip site Hollywood Life is more or less a pamphlet that a poorly dressed, almost comically incoherent religious zealot tries to hand you while en route to a subway platform. The site is not taken seriously for a reason—majorly rooted in them not reporting anything that even sounds remotely plausible. Despite this knowledge, when I read the story that Meek Mill allegedly wants Nicki Minaj to collaborate with Lil’ Kim, I remained intrigued.

According to the site’s source, Meek Mill told Nicki Minaj “if she got together with Kim in the studio and came up with a collab, they’d own rap!” The source goes on to add, “He reminded Nicki that they’re in business for money, not for feuds! Nicki loves her dollars more than her A-1 steak sauce.” And apparently “she’s thinking really hard as to whether she can stomach working with Kim.”

Be very clear: I don’t believe any of this shit.

For one, Meek Mill is unfortunately still taking jabs at Drake despite Drake metaphorically not only beheading him, but proceeding to bounce his chopped-off head like a basketball only to kick it down a rolling hill of failure. So, as far as the letting-go-of-the-petty-for-the-sake-of-profit plan goes, it’s not one likely pushed by the Philly MC.

Meanwhile, there’s also the reality that Nicki Minaj doesn’t need a Lil’ Kim collaboration to make money. Nicki Minaj just wrapped a tour, sells plenty of Myx Moscato, has since sold a television show, and well, you can turn on the radio at any moment and it will not take long to hear Nicki’s voice emanating from your speakers. I imagine someone at this very moment wants to toss out her album sales. Before you do that, be very clear that while they are not Pink Friday numbers, she is still moving more units than a lot of your favorites in 2015.

As for Lil’ Kim, many are willing to go back and forth all day on whether or not she is still the Queen Bee. I don’t especially care anymore; she’s a queen and a legend no matter where you place her now. She doesn’t have to chase radio anymore; her status is cemented. I long for a Lil’ Kim comeback, but if one does happen, it doesn’t require the assistance of Nicki Minaj to happen. She just needs better material than we’ve heard on recent mixtapes.

All those reality checks aside, I want this rumor to be true despite the overwhelming evidence that it is far from it. I wish Nicki Minaj and Lil’ Kim could manage to put their differences aside and come together. And not just because it’d be nice to see the original Beehive and Team Minaj end their virtual knife fight on social media.​

Read the rest at Complex.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

I wish I lived in this mythical world in which being a gay Black male was a one-way ticket to immeasurable success.

Ever since Frank Ocean publishing a letter revealing he was once in love with someone of the same sex played a pivotal role in his success, I’ve seen many argue that it was nothing more than a marketing ploy to boost his career. And if they don’t argue it was a marketing ploy, at the very least the admission is categorized as one that gives Ocean some sort of advantage over his contemporaries. This would include your average social media simpleton and some of Ocean’s recording artists peers, including Miguel and, more recently, Wale.

Indeed, during an appearance on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, co-host Angela Yee asked Wale whether a gay artist can be successful in hip-hop.

Wale said in response: “If a dude was gay, man, he’d get a Grammy,” Wale said. “They’re gonna make fun of them. They’re gonna throw their Twitter jokes… but in the next three years, there’s probably gonna be a dude who’s not even gay that’s just like ‘Man, this is my last resort’… But nah, I would sign a gay rapper if he was dope. ‘Go ahead man, go do that thing. Go do them Versace fashion shows.’ ”

The Versace quip is interesting, given that although hip-hop remains heavily hypermasculine (as do most things in our culture), it’s always been overtly masculine rappers shouting out the gayest of fashion designers. In any event, Wale went on to cite Frank Ocean, declaring that he was “pushed to the moon” before later adding, “He got the Grammy joint, everything… People look at it like you a hero, you a pioneer.”

He has since tried to “clarify” by way of repeating himself in different phrasing.

Wale’s revisionist history does negate the reality that, although Frank Ocean’s celebrity may have magnified following his admission, his Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape was a critically-acclaimed smash that was on many a music critic’s year-end list—cementing him as a rising star the likes of Beyoncé, Jay Z, and others immediately wanted to work with. As long as Frank Ocean stuck to the themes that wowed people, he was going to become a star no matter what.

Likewise, many tend to forget that Ocean’s letter came not long after a writer who heard his debut album, Channel Orange, early and proceeded to interject rumors about the singer-songwriter’s sexuality onto the Internet.

What grates me most, though, is Wale’s sentiment about what it’s like to be gay in America right now: “People are probably going to go bad on me for saying this, but it’s an advantage to be gay in this country right now. That’s just the fact of the matter.”

Many share this sentiment, and I invite them all to report directly to the seventh circle of hell in a winter coat.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

If there’s anything more annoying than a bigot, it’s a bigot who can’t own his prejudice.

During last week’s CNBC Republican presidential primary debate, Ben Carson was asked why he would sit on the board of a gay-friendly company such as Costco, given his views on homosexuality. (He resigned from that board, as well as that of the also gay-friendly Kellogg Co., earlier this year.) These views would include asserting that homosexual activity in prison proves that being gay is a choice, categorizing gay-rights activists as “hateful people” and the “enemies of America,” and referring to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as the “flavor of the day.” Carson has also compared gay people to pedophiles and those whoengage in bestiality.

Yet in response to the debate question, Carson said, “You don’t understand my views on homosexuality. I believe our Constitution protects everybody regardless of their sexual orientation. I also believe marriage is between one man and one woman. There is no reason you can’t be perfectly fair to the gay community.”

In other words, Carson is willing to forgo his anti-gay beliefs when there’s an opportunity to make lots of money. (He reportedly earned millions while sitting on the Costco and Kellogg boards.) Oh, my God, I’m so touched by this beautiful display of moral growth. Be still, my gay-ass heart.

Meanwhile, this is the same person who called for the removal of pro-marriage-equality judges because his stated position is that it is a “finger in your eye to God” when two people of the same sex tie the knot. Now we’re to believe that he suddenly believes in “fairness” toward the gay community? Carson went on to say during the debate that “the left” has perpetuated the “myth”that opposition to same-sex marriage is equivalent to being homophobic.

At this point, I find Carson to be nothing more than the Negro Pat Robertson, and an ongoing study in how even a brain surgeon can be as dim as your average village idiot. Even so, his two-step around the obvious and pussyfooting around his real feelings toward the LGBT community remind me of so many others. Those individuals who, like Carson, want to have contemptuous views of the LGBT community but who don’t want the label of “bigot” and the consequences that come with it.

You know, even if it’s true.

A little over a week ago, former 106 & Park co-host and radio-and-TV personality Free took to Twitter to ask the loaded question, “How come when anyone ‘disagrees’ with the homosexual lifestyle they are automatically considered to be gay bashing/hate?”

There are some folks in this world who believe that there is no such thing as a stupid question. I am not one of those people. There are indeed dumb questions, and this is the Raven-Symoné of examples.

Read the rest at The Root.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

You don’t have to convince me about the power of Michael Jackson. His name is Michael Joseph Jackson. Mine is Michael Joseph Arceneaux. I was born in 1984, i.e. 25 years after the debut Diana Ross Presents the Jackson 5 and two years after the release of the record-breaking, worldwide smash and hugely influential Thriller album. For many – notably 1980s babies and the pop stars they’ve seen produced – he is a template and a genre of music unto himself.

Still, there is one point that should be obvious but apparently continues to go over people’s heads: there will never be another Michael Jackson.

However, that doesn’t stop people from either comparing themselves to Michael Jackson or allowing other people to do it for them.

Nick Cannon recently took to Instagram and uploaded an image that drew the ire of anyone with some damn sense. In what he called “The Perfect Equation,” it argued that Michael Jackson and 2Pac equal Chris Brown. In the caption, Cannon argued, “A lot of times we don’t realize or acknowledge our treasures while we still have them with us. We wait until they are gone to appreciate their power.”

I have never supported Mariah Carey more than I do in this moment.

Let’s be very clear that while the sentiment “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone (Joni Mitchell never lied)” is true, it doesn’t apply here. Michael Jackson was the biggest pop star on the planet. 2Pac was a hugely successful rapper with a burgeoning career in Hollywood. Both sold tens of millions of albums. Both were critical and commercial successes until the day they died. Both, however, faced some serious allegations leveled against them and the world reacted accordingly. Such is life.

Chris Brown is indeed talented, but even before “the incident” with Rihanna (as in, the physical assault of her), he was in no way shape or form comparable to them. He was on the verge of wider success, but even under heavy controversy and criticism, manages to be one of R&B’s greatest successes. That’s good for him, but as far as being a creative goes, Chris Brown is basically a light skinned Bobby Brown rather than the second coming of Michael Jackson.

And to be perfectly quite honest, if nothing else, Bobby Brown gave the world Don’t Be Cruel. Chris Brown doesn’t even have that, so don’t you dare keep comparing to Michael Jackson just because Chris Brown can dance. He doesn’t even dance like Michael Jackson, for the record.

People use Michael Jackson as a measuring stick of an artist’s worth. The problem with that is most folks have no real appreciation for who Michael was beyond an amazing dancer with some cool videos.

Take for instance, the other person who is now being compared to Michael Jackson: The Weeknd.

You know, I’ve come to embrace the gloomy Canadian’s music. It’s like American Horror Story meets sex and drugs. I even appreciate how candid he is about his pursuit of mainstream popularity. Nevertheless, paying homage to Michael Jackson on songs like “Can’t Feel My Face,” “In The Night,” or his remake of Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” a new Michael Jackson does not make. Don’t let the great stab at karaoke fool you.

Read the rest at VH1.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

bill-cosby-ebony-magazine-november-coverHow important is a symbol? For those who continue to defend Bill Cosby amidst accusations of rape from over 50 women, what matters most is not the dignity of those women and them rightfully seeking retribution, but the symbolism behind Cosby’s greatest success. Sadly, they have now been emboldened in their shortsighted stance by one of the cast members ofThe Cosby Show. In an interview with HuffPost Live, Malcolm-Jamal Warner employed the “bigger picture” defense in his condemnation of Ebony magazine’s latest cover.

“[The cover is] contributing to the stereotypical image that society has of the broken black family and the shattered black family,” Warner explained to host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. “And to take something that… for 20 [or] 30 years has been what we have held up as the black family that we all want to aspire to, in terms of the love that we don’t see when we see black families in the media—to take that image and to shatter it, it’s disappointing to a lot of us.”

Cosby may have only been Warner’s dad while in character, but he certainly passed along some delusions of grandeur. Nonetheless, it’s a point of view expressed by many, though it feels flawed for numerous reasons. Not to take away what the Huxtables meant to some people, but I never felt comfortable with the idea that in order for non-black people to see black folks beyond trite tropes, they had to see them within the constrains of an upper middle class nuclear family. The same goes for that family being the one “we all want to aspire to.”

Even if that were actually the case, in 2015, we have President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their two children, Sasha and Malia Obama. Likewise, we have Beyoncé, Jay Z, and their daughter Blue Ivy Carter. For those who need to see an image of black families depicting what is perceived to be “traditional,” and thus, a model worth aspiring to, there are other options.

Meanwhile, a 2014 study by the Pew Research Center shows that the majority of American kids under 18 are not being raised in a “traditional” family—defined as two parents in their first marriage. Only 46 percent of children now live in such a lifestyle. The rest are raised by single parents, parents who cohabitate, stepparents, and grandparents. Moreover, there are gay parents; and according to a new study by the Population Research Center at the University of Texas, same-sex parents spend significantly more time with their children than their heterosexual counterparts.

This shift reminds me of something not enough people acknowledge about black television: We’ve long had varied depictions of what a black family can look like.

Read the rest at Fusion.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Mainstream publications getting their coverage of black culture wrong is about as common as Miley Cyrus referencing marijuana or Donald Trump saying something self-aggrandizing—but it never stops being frustrating. So when Elle Canada decided to label the dashiki “the newest it-item of note,” black people across Twitter did the ceremonial clapback.

First, there was righteous anger. Then came the jokes. After that, others chimed in, adding more fury and funny to the conversation. It’s a familiar cycle because lately, it seems not a day goes by without a media outlet getting something wrong about black culture.

Even before Elle diminished the history of the dashiki, a colorful garment commonly worn in West Africa, there was problematic mainstream discussion of the term “fuck boy.” Popularized by rapper Cam’ron, it’s a way to mock a man’s masculinity and describe him as weak. But when Vanity Fair tried to define the term in a recent piece about Tinder, the black community went up in arms.

Doing her best Carrie Bradshaw impersonation, writer Nancy Jo Sales, defined a fuck boy as “a young man who sleeps with women without any intention of having a relationship with them or perhaps even walking them to the door post-sex.”

Although she notes that “the word has been around for at least a decade with different meanings,” Sales is guilty of the same sin as Elle. She references fuck boy, taken from black culture, and speaks of its importance only in terms of its relevance to white people. To wit, Sales admits that “it’s only in about the last year that it has become so frequently used by women and girls to refer to their hookups.”

As Jezebel’s Kara Brown correctly asserted, “You don’t get to change the meaning of words because all your white friends are using it incorrectly. This isn’t the evolution of language—it is an outright hijacking. And the fact that these people think they have any right to do so is white privilege of the highest order.”

There is a right way to report on a culture you aren’t part of, though.

Read the rest at ntrsctn.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

I would not be at all surprised if Nicki Minaj ultimately joined Beyoncé in her self-imposed exile from interviews with the press. On one end, you want to celebrate the fact that the New York Times magazine opted to recognize Minaj for the pop cultural behemoth she has become. And the you read the actual article and realize how ironic that this profile is for the publication’s cultural issue and the woman interviewing Minaj is clueless.

Immediately, I noticed that when naming female stars of pop music, Vanessa Grigoriadis touts “Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga and, as always, Madonna,” but conveniently leaves out Janet Jackson. Jackson has influenced numerous of the aforementioned names, and if we’re truly keeping it funky, actually has a song being played on the radio, unlike Madonna. Then there is Grigoriadis’ musings on female artists reclaiming the word bitch, but leaves out Lil’ Kim, who not only did that and then some, but also helped pave the way for the very pop-rap crossover stardom that Minaj presently enjoys.

But of course, she tried to tie Nicki Minaj to Lady Gaga, which Minaj not surprisingly dismissed as being “so old.”

The lack of insight is almost comical until you realize how this is yet another piece on a Black star penned by a often condescending antagonistic writer who didn’t deserve the assignment. Therein lies the frustration Minaj ultimately shared with Grigoriadis after she posed a rather sexist question about the rift between her labelmate Drake, and her boyfriend, Meek Mill, as well as the lawsuit filed by Lil’ Wayne against Baby.

Grigoriadis asked, ‘‘Is there a part of you that thrives on drama, or is it no, just pain and unpleasantness.”

And that’s when Minaj went off. Rightly so. “That’s disrespectful,” Minaj said. “Why would a grown-ass woman thrive off drama?”

Then, she really let her have it: “That’s the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you? ’Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why.’ As a matter of fact, I don’t. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask? To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they’re children and I’m responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that’s not just a stupid question. That’s a premeditated thing you just did.’’

Minaj went on to dismiss her as “rude” and a “troublemaker” before declaring, “Do not speak to me like I’m stupid or beneath you in any way.” Ultimately, the boot came: “I don’t care to speak to you anymore.’’

Still, not getting it, Grigoriadis closed this piece by opining, “I didn’t know how much of it Minaj really felt, and how much it was a convenient way of maintaining control.”

Read the rest at VH1.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone

Far more often that not, when it comes to conversations about cultural appropriation, white people are the last ones who should have their hands up to speak.

In an essay for The Washington Post entitled, “To the new culture cops, everything is appropriation,” journalist Cathy Young writes about increasing media criticism of cultural appropriation as if everyone else is being hypersensitive. Young notes, “At one time, such critiques were leveled against truly offensive art—work that trafficked in demeaning caricatures, such as blackface, 19th-century minstrel shows or ethnological expositions, which literally put indigenous people on display, often in cages.”

The problem is that this argument sounds far too much like a complaint about criticizing racism. Like racism, people seem to think appropriation only exists in its ugliest form (i.e. using a slur). However, cultural appropriation, like racism, is varied and nuanced. If Young could manage to step outside of her seeming bubble and engage actual minorities in conversation, someone might’ve explained this to her.

Young’s essential gripe is that such critiques have become common “no matter how thoughtfully or positively” they’re delivered. She claims, “A work can reinvent the material or even serve as a tribute, but no matter. If artists dabble outside their own cultural experiences, they’ve committed a creative sin.”

In theory, there is some truth to this; accusations of cultural appropriation are being mounted now more than ever. Over at The Grio, Demertia Irwin wrote a piece entitled “No: African-Americans ‘culturally appropriating’ African aesthetics isn’t a thing,” refuting one writer’s misguided claims that black Americans are just as bad as white people for jumping on the “Black is cool” trend, when it comes to wearing traditional African garb.

What’s more, Young is wrong to assert that everyone’s simply overreacting. She doesn’t seem to understand why people take offense to Katy Perry and Iggy Azalea, even when the latter has been outright disrespectful when deflecting charges of cultural appropriation. Young writes, “When we attack people for stepping outside their own cultural experiences, we hinder our ability to develop empathy and cross-cultural understanding.”

Azalea is not trying to understand a different culture through her faux accent; she is performing black culture and capitalizing on an experience that isn’t her own. When critics asked the rapper why a white girl from Australia is using a southern black woman’s accent, Azalea displayed ignorance about the implications of her behavior.

Read the rest at ntrsctn.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Email this to someone