The Way

Ever since I became aware of what an Ariana Grande was, I’ve been enamored. I love her new single “The Way” with Mac Miller. Musically, the song gives me teases of white Ashanti and Ja Rule from a voice that probably makes Mariah Carey want to nest on the blood of a youth ala The Snow Queen from Snow White and the Huntsmen. Ariana might not match the might of Mariah Carey’s voice before the cigarettes and chardonnay did their damage, but she definitely has the kind of chops that make you take notice.

Listen to this.

And this.

Usually when I hear someone try to pull off a Mariah Carey song, within seconds I have to rush to hear the real thing the way God intended. With Ariana, I at least want to wait half a minute. Gon’, girl. That is impressive. No one can top vintage Mariah, but to be able to pull off a cover of one of her songs that well says a lot about Ariana’s talent and potential. Now someone needs to tell her to cover Mimi’s “Honey.”

Check this one out, too. So this is what Rihanna’s songs sound like when someone who genuinely cares about singing is performing them? To Rih-Rih’s credit, though, she has the attitude to pull off the track better. Be that as it may, consider me a fan of Ariana. I’ve already given her $1.29 for “The Way” and I just gave her another for “Baby I.”

I’m ready to give her more so long as she keeps singing good songs with that fantastic voice.

I feel as though Ariana Grande will be what Christina Aguilera was supposed to be. “The Way” reminds me of X-Tina tracks like “Come On Over (All I Want Is You)” and “When You Put Your Hands On Me.” Those songs had an obvious flirtation and underlying sexual tone in the case of the latter, but it wasn’t full out freaktastic. You know, ala “Dirrty” in which Christina is rolling around in the mud and humping the wrestling mat.

I don’t mind Christina wanting to sing about the sex, but I do take issue with her singing like the choir director of Alcide’s wolfpack on True Blood. She doesn’t even sound the same anymore as a result of all those banshee cries — and then has the nerve to drop back to back lengthy albums full of fillers.

While distraught Christina Aguilera fans continue to pray for the future of her music career and throat, I want to additionally send out good vibes to Ariana Grande. May you continue to control your voice while building its ability and keep your music fun and bop-friendly. For you are the future. Amen.

Kill For Kim

So this happened. At first I couldn’t figure out why this deranged 12-year-old from 1996 was randomly tweeting me a threat. Then it hit me that it was probably the post I wrote about Lil’ Kim the other day. Or it could’ve been this post. Or this one. Or that one. Maybe the piece I wrote for EBONY.com last year. Whatever it was, clearly this crazy sum’bitch to become quite upset with me.

When in the business of speaking your shit to earn your supper, you get used to be told that you ain’t shit, ain’t ever been shit, will likely never be shit or are a piece of shit in return. It’s the circle of shit, if you will. When I was writing political pieces every week for AOLNews.com, I routinely got emails from cranky conservative white people who saw me as Assata Shakur’s long lost ornery son — and in some cases her ornery gay ass Black ass son. Insert more racism and all sorts of vileness here. I’ve also had numerous insults directly sent to me within this space and all of the other various places my writing has appeared.

So I’m used to people having words for me, though none have ever been on some “stay inside fo’ I kill you, bitch” sentiment.

After I saw this post, I initially thought to say something like “Fuck you, fuck the bitch that bred you, and fuck whoever didn’t lock up their wifi, which outlawed your Internet thug ass to keyboard goon.” I opted not to, because well, it’s not worth it. In fact, I feel bad for anyone who not only makes a celebrity the centerpiece of their life – to the point where they want to inflict bodily harm on a complete stranger if someone speaks ill of them – but does so for a celebrity who star is more faded than a pair of acid wash jeans from 1986.

Whoever didn’t hug that ridiculous, jello-nose loving asshole in his or her youth, you failed us all. All that said, fuck this idiot. Before I ended up making fun of this psycho in real time on my timeline, I definitely reported their tweets to Twitter directly. I went outside this weekend and will be outside tomorrow and every day thereafter, but anyone so stupid enough to make a traceable threat for the world to see is not worthy of the service.

Even gang members and drug dealers on social media use codes. How do you have the nerve to be both dumb or crazy? You can only be one or the other. There is no sense in trying to overcompensate when it comes to flaws.

I like Kimberly Jones, circa before all this bullshit happened, and I wish her and her Batman-villain manufactured body well. But rest assured, if she’s doing something ridiculous and/or awful and I am so inclined to write about it, I will continue to.

God bless you, too, motherfucker.

Beyoncé and Thirst Bucket Journalism

Like Anderson Cooper, who is the vanilla spice latte to my caramel macchiato, soy with sugar-free vanilla sweetener, my nerves were also on swole following the manufactured controversy his network has since christened “Beyoncé-gate.” There are only so many varying ways to say to the simpletons and sensationalists “I hate you, Jody,” but thankfully, I have a troubled childhood and a silver medal in shade (we can always be better) that helps in moments such as these.

Please, please get into my latest column for “The Weekly Read” over at EBONY.com entitled “To Those Baffled Over Beyoncé.” Part of this is just your garden variety Beytheists being typical losers, but it’s more so the 24-hour news cycle that’s at fault. Hate it all with me by clicking here, why don’t you?

 

Do Your Thang…Again

Of all the music I used to boost from my older sister, Xscape is one of the acts that I would listen to, but in hindsight didn’t appreciate enough when they were actively releasing music. I knew their songs and liked enough of them, but in year’s past when the conversation of the best of the 1990s would come up, Xscape wasn’t one of the groups that I’d immediately point to. Forgive me, for I have sinned. As a longtime lover of the girl group, I have to right this wrong because now that I’m older I see how much Xscape’s catalog has aged better than many of their peers at the time.

I own all of TLC’s albums, but what always bothered me about them collectively was that after a while it seemed like they kept singing about the same limp dick man who not only couldn’t fuck, but then had the nerve to cheat, too. It was just like, “Okay, girl, then dump his ass already and go back to recording songs like ‘Let’s Do It Again.’” By the time 3D was released and TLC dropped “Girl Talk,” I couldn’t do it anymore. Seriously, y’all are like 30 still sounding like my old high school classmates giggling about sucking football player dick over cheese-drenched chicken strips and french fries during A lunch.

And as much as I adore En Vogue and their vocal talents, I can only now listen to about two songs from Born To Sing and maybe half of Funky Divas. I’d love for them to finally get their act together and record new music — proving that they, like SWV, can continue making music as strong now as it was as their debut 20 years ago. But apparently Solomon split the baby in half yet neglected to tell them it’s not 1992 anymore so enough people don’t give a damn, so oh well.

Speaking of En Vogue, didn’t some folks try to portray Xscape as En Vogue if En Vogue got hit with a bag of nickels or something? Way harsh, Tai, and totally not true for all parties involved. Yes, this is such a shallow side note, but I really needed to get that out.

Anyway, Off The Hook and Traces of My Lipstick remain gems. Why not give us an SWV-like reunion and a few spot dates since Dawn is too busy telling Terri Ellis that she ain’t ever been shit (paraphrasing)? I know since half the members can’t stand each other this probably will never happen. What a pity, though. Tiny’s voice is impeccable and I miss hearing it. Also, Kandi sounded less petrified singing with the group versus her solo work. I like Kandi, but I bet a few of you know what I mean.

She’s got the Marsha Ambrosius, a term I coined to describe haunted house vibrato. Plus after her solo deal fell through, LaTocha Scott was never given a proper platform to show off all that weight loss. I don’t remember much about her sister, but you know, bring her back, too.

I should note that I forgot the group did indeed try to reunite once, minus Kandi a couple of years ago. I’m assuming that stranger in the photo is that The Real Housewives of Jesus cast member who recently said she used to be in Xscape before marrying a worker bee of the Lord. She can stay with the tabernacle while the real members of Xscape do their thing.

Can you imagine? They could get a subplot on a future season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta. I can already see NeNe Baloo saying, “I liked SWV and The Pointer Sisters much more than Xscape!” while rocking some extra long finger nails to their rehearsal. Then someone has to hold Tocha back from turning the show into Love & Hip Hop Upside Your Head.

So yeah, can y’all consider doing a lil’ something for  me, please? Tiny proved that her jig is intact, so now I need to hear those voices. I’d love to hear your cover of “All This Love,” plus “In The Rain,” “Softest Place on Earth,” “Who Can I Run To?” & “Can’t Hang.”

Pretty please?

Rejoice All Ye Tamartians

If you haven’t had the pleasure of viewing Tamar Braxton’s showcase in full, take a gander now before the man snatches it down. It’s already happened once before, so get your life fast. Should you miss it again, you can click here to watch her perform her first single in full. I ripped the audio and added it to my iPod days ago.

RELATED: Back Then Braxtons

Like a good Tamartian, I bought “Love & War” the second I knew that it was out. As I’ve said repeatedly here, I adore Tamar’s voice and want her to attain the musical success her talent deserves. I won’t lie about initially preferring an uptempo for her first release ala “Hot Sugar,” but I have to admit that it makes far more sense to go this route. “Love & War” is a gorgeous song that highlights Tamar’s abilities and follows the narrative set on the first season of Tamar & Vince. I didn’t like watching them bicker week after week, but it made for a great song.

Now, I do wonder how Keyshia Cole feels about this. “Love & War” is the Mary Kate to “Trust & Believe’s” Ashley Olsen. I’d be a little vexed to know that a producer I worked with wasted no time offering a lookalike version of the track to another singer, especially once who is like the Mariah to my Millie Jackson. Then again, Keyshia’s “Shoulda Let You Go” is a clone of Mary J. Blige’s “Enough Cryin’.”

tamar braxton gif, tamar braxton attitude

Oh well.

Anyway, I’m so happy for Tamar. Regardless if you can’t take all that personality, she sings beautifully. I really, really want her to do well. I’m tired of people going out of their way to say that she’ll enjoy the kind of fame Toni Braxton had in the 1990s. That’s akin to telling someone that the sky is blue, grass is green, and asses look better the rounder they are. We know, bitch.

MORE: He Want That “Hot Sugar”

No, Tamar Braxton will never sell the number of records her sister did. Minus an anomaly like Adele and not many artists can even conceive of coming close in the digital age. To be fair, as big a fan as I am of Toni, she wouldn’t even be able to attain the kind of success she enjoyed back then. For better or worse (okay: worse), the pendulum has shifted. The sort of big voice, genuine love songs, and you know, R&B moments we had during the peak of Toni’s popularity don’t exist now. Fortunately, there are people trying to bring it back — Baby Sis Braxton among them.

I love that she has so many things going on. It’s a testament to not letting go of your dreams, particularly when you have a sponsor and a connect. And no, that is not a read or shade or any kind of slickness. That is envy, dammit. I’m not mad about Tamar at all. She inspires me. Just yesterday I played “Hot Sugar” in the car and told my oldest niece that I plan to keep popping like that at 35. By the way, after hearing the song in full, it sort of gives “Beyoncé’s older sister wants to bop, too,” no? Heaven I need a video.

Alright, enjoy the showcase and rejoice all ye Tamartians…and keep buying her single.

He Want That Hot Sugar

‘Twas love at first bop when I heard the snippet of Tamar Braxton’s “Hot Sugar.” It has since become my new obsession. I’ve already made an mp3 of the 30 second clip and added it to my iPod. I spent much of today’s workout fighting the urge to full out pop it, pop it, pop it to the song, which I set to loop. I failed for the most part. What can I say? Can’t stop, must bop. Then drop.

I need this song in full in my life. As soon as humanly possible preferably. Is it not amazing? Yes, the answer is yes. “Hot Sugar” is everything I look for in a track: Good vocals, a bounce-inducing beat, and just the right amount of innuendo.

Speaking of vocals, I swear I can listen to anything Tamar Braxton wants to sing. Her voice is so gorgeous.

See? Get your life. Now bring it back to “Hot Sugar.”

I went out of my way to tell people that they must listen to this snippet. My friend Alex said it was cute for her, but wondered what sound the littlest Braxton was going for. I didn’t have a concrete answer at the time, but I think I’ve got it now.

Tamar’s sound is going to be “Auntie’s still got it.” Tamar would probably prefer I describe it as “younger big sis who continues to catch the beat.” Either or.

MORE: Back Then Braxtons

I’m not mad at that angle, though. I’ve already started contemplating taking up bikram yoga so I can stay as limber as possible. Like Tamar, I’m not giving up the uptempo life in my 30s.

I can see it now:

Oh shit. That’s my song. Let’s hit the dance floor. Wait, wait. Let me stretch.

::stretch::

::stretch::

Okay, bitches. Let’s go.

I wonder how many stereotype alarms I just set off? Y’all can write my ticket and leave it in the comments section.

In any event, get into this. Get into it now. And dammit, I need my Tamar Braxton sophomore album already. I can only sing “Words,” “Can’t Nobody,” “No Disrespect,” and “You Don’t Know” for so long (12 years to be exact).

By the way, my name is Michael and I’m a Tamartian.

 

Aaliyah, Aubrey and Antagonists

As a rule of thumb, I tend to look at pledges that a posthumous album release is rooted in the pursuit to “preserve the artist’s legacy” as utter bullshit. Chances are if an artist has a vault of unreleased music its owners are considering reworking and putting up for sale, said artist already has a pretty damn great legacy. It’s usually more about money, or in the case of Drake, ego.

Given he has her face tattooed on his back, her birthday tattooed on his side (in a double entendre of a tattoo), and published a sincere but nevertheless creepy letter to her dead spirit that addressed her by her middle name (as if his ass was the Salt to her Pepa), it’s pretty apparent that Drake just wanted to say he had a song with Aaliyah.

Fine, but let’s all say what it is. Aaliyah fans want more music. The label wants to make whatever money it can off our desire. Drake, an almost The Bodyguard like stan, wanted to do a track with the person he claims he was “truly in love” with despite never, ever knowing.

Some of you might even find that sweet in a Yolanda Saldivar’s dream realized kind of way, though it’s still kind of narcissistic.  That’s why when I first heard this song I closed my eyes and smiled thinking about how nice it was to finally hear new Aaliyah. That feeling subsided the second I heard Drake’s verse. I used to be so into this guy after he dropped So Far Gone. Somewhere along the way his revenge of the nerds tinged rap started to irk me.

People have waited a decade for new Aaliyah in some fashion, and the first time we hear just that, not only are you on the song, Aubrey, you’re going out of your way to diss Chris Brown on the song about his record sales.

I understand that Drake is essentially the outsider who managed to find his way in and that he remains a target, hence the defensive attitude. However, Drake often brings the ridicule on himself. See: Dissing Chris Brown on the first fucking new Aaliyah song we’ve heard in 10 damn years.

Dude.

Get over yourself. Even if you remove that line from the equation, as one music writer I enjoy put it on Twitter:

GIANT FUCK YOU TO DRAKE FOR THE AALIYAH TRACK SHE IS ABOUT EXPRESSING WOMEN’S EMOTIONS HE IS ABOUT MANIPULATING THEM

No lie, no lie, no lie-e-e-i-e-ie.

Not only is it annoying to hear was Drake’s ass constantly asking, “Yo, wassup?” in the background of Aaliyah’s song to remind us that he’s on it, his actual rap conveys the kind of sentiments Aaliyah probably wouldn’t co-sign on her song. Such a devout fan should know such a thing, no?

He probably does, but identity crisis’ are a bitch.

But we get it, Drake? You are helping executive produce. You, you, and yours. I don’t find Drake being at the helm of the project  to be a bad idea in theory. Not entirely sure yet to what extent the producer 40 contributed made to this song and others forthcoming, but from a label’s perspective seeking a more current rapper/producer duo to sell material makes sense.

I could even see 40 and Aaliyah’s styles meshing (as on this very song), but I don’t want an hour of “Marvin’s Room,” or as I like to call it, “I’m going to call my dad if you don’t stop snooping around my bushes music.”

Meanwhile, it’s pretty reasonable for most longtime Aaliyah fans to associate Timbaland and Missy with Aaliyah and prefer they take the reigns any posthumous release from her despite not being so heavy handed on her third album. A third album that I love to this day, but wasn’t doing well before her death, and a third album whose biggest single was still produced by Timbaland. Not to mention another fan favorite on the track was penned by Missy.

Maybe it’s not completely realistic to feel only those two should be at the helm (though I think it’s more of a natural fit and less offensive for a posthumous release), but totally understandable why it’s a popular opinion. And for the record, people who like to point out the obvious, it’s not so much that Aaliyah didn’t want to work with Timbaland on her third album so much as Timbaland had some issues with her label. He ultimately gave two tracks, and as previously noted, we see how well those went.

We mustn’t antagonize for the hell of it.

In any event, I read that they will have some involvement, so alls well that ends well. I can’t wait to hear what comes next, but I sincerely hope whatever sounds do come from a new Aaliyah album, the people behind them remember to make it about her. You get that, Aubrey?

Yes, Yes, Y’all

I’m a little late to this party (at least when it comes to writing about it here), but fortunately, I pre-gamed. Anyone who has read this site at length knows that I have a strong love of all things related to Vanity 6 and Apollonia 6. For so long now I’ve looked for their modern equivalent. I thought I was close once before, but I do believe The Yes Ma’ams may be it. That’s why you shouldn’t let my tardiness on the topic fool you as I’m quite impressed with these ladies. From the music to the styling to their Web site and overall presentation, The Yes Ma’ams are having a better rollout than artists with major deals.

Plus, I love how they incorporated one of my favorite words into their name: “Ma’am.” I’ve offended many an old lady mature woman on the East and West Coasts by being the Southern gent that I am and using the term while speaking to them. Well, these ladies give Whitley Gilbert: The Early Years realness with respect to their ages, and see, they’re not ducking the world. Learn to trust us gay men, people.

Anyway, I so hope they get what they desire very soon. And full disclosure: I fancy quite a few of the people behind them and am wishing them all the best. I like them even more for having something to push that I don’t have to pretend to enjoy (I’m no good at that anyway). Indeed, I’ve been body rolling to the two tracks the Ma’ams dropped on Valentine’s Day, and if you haven’t heard, check them out below.

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Let Him Cook and Eat

Look here, y’all. I’ve been waiting for D’Angelo to come back for a very, very long time. Obviously, I’m overjoyed to see that not only is he back on stage, he’s back on it without sounding like a damn fool. This is a feat and anyone who’s heard any of those sorry (!) demos of his that have leaked in recent years is relishing in it. Indeed, glory be to God that he doesn’t sound like the WB Frog. To that end, I need some of you folks to do me a favor: shut up. Do not scare this man away. I need him more than you know.

Yesterday, Wendy Williams did an impromptu poll among her audience about D’Angelo’s return. The results? They want him to stop eating fried fat back and hire a trainer. They prefer D’Angelo shirtless and with hard rock abs. Go download some porn. Admittedly, D’Angelo continues to look like he ate ODB. Give him credit for at least doing some push ups and reps with the dumb bells. Or not. It’s whatever to me as I don’t give a single fuck about the way he’s looking right now. I’m just happy he’s singing again. So happy that I’m ready to fry his big ass some fish if he so desires.

Do you folks more fixated on his waistline than his vocal chords not realize how bad R&B has gotten, especially when it comes to male R&B artists? Most of whom don’t even deserve to be thrown in that category, for the record. I need D’Angelo — a legitimate soul singer with ability. I can’t take another year of fake R&B thugs naming more designer labels than a queen high on coke and hijacked credit cards.

Likewise, I am exhausted by this Europop dance trend. How much longer do I have to put up with American music artists theming everything around what was poppin’ in Belgium back in 1996? Give us free.

I need a break and D’Angelo might finally help usher in one. I’ve never been attracted to that man, so perhaps that only heightens my inability to side with the superficial. Whatever it is, that “D’Angelo needs to come back until he is cut again” talk needs to go the fuck on somewhere, yo. I remember reading some Spin magazine article a while back about his whereabouts. It seems part of what sent his psyche into a tizzy was him feeling ostracized. People didn’t want to hear the music anymore. They showed up to his concerts ready to fuck him — throwing their panties on stage and what not. We gotta be gentle with Michael Archer, otherwise he might go back to the trap house, the crazy house, or wherever he was hiding his genius from us. That cannot happen because I’ll be damned if we go through another year of a bunch of half-ass crooners giving us their best R. Kelly and/or Ace of Base impersonation.

So again, go hose your hot asses down until the coast is clear. Don’t blow it for me ’cause he doesn’t look like the man you used to wanna blow. Sometimes you gotta do baby steps on the hoe stroll.

Twirkin’ In Your Thirties

As many of you readers know by now, Tamar Braxton is the hot sauce to my catfish fresh out the fryer. And as previously noted, my adoration for Ms. Dotcom started before Braxton Family Values. I’ve been patiently waiting for Tamar’s talent to get the p-pop it deserves so I’m quite excited to hear any news about what’s to come. Folks need to know Tamar is as good a singer as she is a reality personality.

A couple weeks ago a few of my friends, unfamiliar to Tamar Braxton’s solo album released in 2000 (for shame), watched the video for her debut solo single, “Get None.” In short: If songs were birds the track would go great with Christian Fried Chicken’s polynesian sauce. Despite that fun quality, most of them were less than enthused with what they saw. I, naturally, sang along to the song word for word (what lyrics I could recall anyway). Based on this clip, I gather we’re going to get a somewhat more mature version (relatively speaking, surely) of that. That somewhat concerns me because I feel like some people are going to say, “Tamar is too old for that.” The right side of me says to that idea, “Shut up. I’m only a few birthdays away from entering the third decade of life.”

And hopefully once I do, I’ll still want to be sweating in the club on occasion if the spirit beat calls upon thee. If Jay-Z can be played in the club at 100-years-old (dog years), I’m into the prospect of Tamar dippin, poppin’, twirkin’ and stoppin’ in her mid-thirties. Yes, a Beyoncé reference was necessary. Tamar would totally want it that way. Anywho, while I’m glad J.Lo continues to break people off in her forties on stage, she never released the video for “Good Hit” so lately we’ve only been getting shake something pop anthems of the Cher’s “Believe” variety. We need the urban black equivalent.

So bring it, Sister Braxton. I believe in you and your abilities to get the club going while you keep your edges tight. Give me something to aspire to. Lord knows when I’m her age I want to continue being the cool uncle, not the uncle who only does the stanky legg while he waits for his cranberry juice to kick in so he might finally relinquish fluids. Boom.

Oh, as for those of you who continue to deny my girl’s abilities, or maybe just don’t know about them, park yourself under the hood and check out my favorite Tamar Braxton song, “Words.”

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