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To the delight of many—and presumably, her boyfriend, Tyga, who at long last can say he has a girlfriend who can legally consent in the state of California—Kylie Jenner is 18. Based on images from Instagram and the word of TMZ, the youngest of the Keeping Up with the Kardashians clan is having quite the celebration. Although she can now vote, buy cigarettes, and date her 25-year-old rapper boyfriend without fear of SVU-like investigation, a new age does not wipe away the last two years of her life and what it all represents.

For starters, it will never not be despicable how much of the media chronicled the relationship of a teenage girl with an adult male. As I have written previously in this space, there was a cutesy quality to the manner in which Kylie and Tyga’s relationship was chronicled. There is nothing endearing about a grown man dating a child, no matter how that child presents herself to the public.

Speaking of said presentation, while it is not my place to police someone else’s expression of sexuality, I can take issue with how those in the media have capitalized on it. These are various headlines taken from several mainstream publications before Kylie turned 18:

 

 

Again, all of this is before she turned 18. Before. Why was more not made out of adult men and women writing headlines about a 17-year-old girl using the words “sexy” and “seductive” while referring to her “curves,” “boobs,” and “big booty”? Many will argue that Kylie was just being a typical teenager. That may be the case, but that does not excuse the media going out of its way to further sexualize a minor.

Read the rest at VH1.

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If you could score my Twitter mentions over the past 48 hours, the shrieks of a whining newborn baby would perfectly encapsulate all of the He-man-woman-haters and Drake devotees who found themselves pissed at me for being honest.

The tweet in question is:

I don’t need anyone to explain to me the way rap beef works. Nor do I require anyone to remind me of how the hippity hop is battered and deep fried in misogyny. I’m aware, but that doesn’t debunk that Drake leveling Nicki Minaj’s success as a pejorative against the man she’s very clearly in love with was a lazy diss. It’s a pretty shitty thing for a friend of Nicki’s to do, too.

However, this beef and everything that comes with it—namely the use of Nicki Minaj as chess piece—is all Meek Mill’s fault.

Hopefully, Meek learns a few things from this embarrassing episode. The most important lesson being this (pay close attention, y’all): When deciding to try and publicly ruin someone’s career, it pays to consider whether or not your significant other might find him or herself in the crosshairs. Meek Mill seemingly had no concerns about the political entanglements that might result in him coming for the neck of his girlfriend’s friend and co-worker. It’s no wonder why some are calling on Nicki Minaj to dump him. Like, if you don’t know how to act on social media, you probably don’t know how to act around Beyoncé and Jay Z.

So: Meek Mill started a beef with a wittier and more widely popular rapper over some dumb shit that was probably a misunderstanding. Drake then uses Nicki Minaj as a weapon in this ridiculous ass beef despite Drake being friends with Nicki Minaj. Meek Mill can’t even win the dumb ass beef he started, embarrassing himself and making it supremely awkward for Nicki Minaj the next time she runs into Drake.

All of these men are garbage. If you think using a woman’s success to emasculate and belittle a man isn’t sexist and trite, you’re trash, too. I don’t care how much that truth nugget slathered in Sriracha stings.

What’s most interesting about all of this is that if she really wanted to, Nicki Minaj could destroy them both.

As far as albums go, Drake would more than likely win the popular vote given his sound is more cohesive (and for an album, that does indeed constitute “better”). Even so, that doesn’t necessarily make him a superior MC to Nicki. Nicki is often the star of any track she jumps on, and her collaborations with Drake are no different. Sure, there is a schizophrenic-like quality to Nicki’s catalog, but a lot of that has to do with circumstance (a female rapper trying to not only be recognized in a world that had all but forgotten about rappers like her, but to also thrive commercially in and out of that world) rather than talent.

Read the rest at Complex.

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When I told a friend that I would be writing about Keri Hilson’s return to music, she immediately responded with the question, “Who’s looking for her to come back?”

Therein lies the issue with the singer-songwriter as she plots a return to music. Like many music writers and bloggers, I received an email announcing Hilson’s return along with a link to two new tracks, “100” and “Scream.” Months prior, the likes of Timbaland teased fans with new works like “Listen.” Around the same time, Hilson herself teased us with audio of “Dinero,” although singer Monica sold the new track far better than she did.

The songs we’ve been teased sound more interesting than what’s come in full, but whatever we do get in terms of a new Hilson album, one wonders whether or not the public cares anymore. “100” and “Scream” were leaked to the Internet in full, but in terms of volume, both generated more of a “hi and bye” than conversation. Whenever Hilson does make an official return to music, she’s got her work cut out for her.

Two years ago, the Atlanta-bred artist took to Twitter to lament about the years of “verbal abuse,” noting, “You have no idea what your hateful words could do to someone’s spirit.” She was mostly referring to the Beyoncé fans that consistently berated her for her not so subtle shots at the Queen Bey. To this day, Hilson acts as if other people misinterpreted her past comments and actions about Beyoncé.

No one did, though, and regardless of whether or not she’ll ever own up to it, the reality is Keri Hilson is responsible for her reputation as the Maleficent of R&B. Like I noted at the time, she’s been equally shady to her other contemporaries, which is why many dislike her. At the very moment, a few people are reading these lines and thinking, “But it shouldn’t matter if you like the artist. What counts most is the music.” That’s cute, but that’s never been the case— likability has always factored into one’s success. In fact, one could say in an age where buying music is a choice an increasingly less amount of people opt to make, it matters more than ever.

And to be blunt, when it came to Keri Hilson openly shading Beyoncé in public spaces, it was just a dumb decision. Not only is Beyoncé one of the biggest pop stars on the planet (and to some, the biggest), she’s also known as one of the nicest. It was like Ciara taking an unnecessary shot at Rihanna on Fashion Police. In that instance, Rihanna simply read Ciara her rights via Twitter, but both Ciara and Hilson looked like the Jan Brady to their Marsha.

Read the rest at VH1.

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There are some public figures who make you wonder why you ever bothered learning how to read.

I let out an audible sigh when I read the New York Post’s Page Six report that ABC executives were “desperate” to sign actress-turned-foot-in-mouth-disease-victim Raven-Symoné as a co-host for The View before their up-front presentation. A described “ABC source” explained, “She was interesting and provocative. Raven would be great as a regular host.” I imagine similar logic was employed to justify giving Don Lemon and Stacey Dash cushy positions at CNN and Fox News, respectively. How well is that going for anyone who doesn’t benefit from the ratings their asininity generates?

Frankly, a spare brick on the sidewalk can be just as “interesting” and “provocative”—except a brick has more to contribute to meaningful conversation than any of the aforementioned three.

Raven-Symoné is talented, but if the last couple of months have taught us anything, it is that she is not remotely thoughtful. Our first glimpse into that reality took place last fall on an episode of OWN’s Oprah: Where Are They Now? where she decried labels and described herself, not as gay but, rather, as a “human who loves humans” (which could also be described as pansexual, but I read books, so pardon me) as well as a  “colorless person.”

Months later she would declare, “I am from every continent in Africa except for one. and I’m from every continent in Europe except for one. We are a melting pot of beauty.”

My eyes are rolling harder than a Prancing Elite at a parade.

Sure, she misspoke, but the problem isn’t so much the phrasing as it is the overall sheer lack of intellectual curiosity. She, like Lemon and Dash, is simply loud and wrong. Naturally, she is being rewarded for it and, of course, is clueless as to why some aren’t pleased about it.

In a new Daily Beast profile titled “The Reinvention of Raven-Symoné,” Raven-Symoné touches on the backlash she’s received on occasion, saying, “I’ve gotten anger from other people because I’m not taking one side or the other, or I’m not taking the side they think I should take. Or that I’m being someone I’m not. But I’m just trying my best to look at it objectively before I bash someone.”

I don’t have a problem with a difference of opinion. However, there is something grating about an uninformed opinion. For all her talents as an actress and singer, Raven-Symoné could use some prep in this new role she finds herself in.

Read the rest at The Root.

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I felt like Tamar Braxton’s sister and reality-show archnemesis, Towanda Braxton, while watching the youngest Braxton and co-host of The Real shed tears after complaining how hurtful it is to be compared to a character from The Muppets. Tamar was boo-hooing over two people—Chris Brown and K. Michelle—she opted out of naming for insulting her appearance with that description. Nasty as that sounds, Tamara essentially victimized herself without adding total context—namely, what prompted both of them to feel the need to insult her in the first place.

Although I tend to think that Towanda is too mean to Tamar on Braxton Family Values, I do agree with her when she says that Tamar can dish it out but can’t take it. I’m a fan of Tamar’s—I’m talkingstill-listening-to-her-2000-debut-album fan—but I was not moved by Tamar’s tears because of one pivotal lesson I was taught early in life: Punks jump up to get beat down.

Don’t talk about anyone if you’re not prepared for the repercussions.

I imagine that fellow singer and reality star K. Michelle felt the same, since she pointed out on Twitter, “Every action warrants a reaction. You can’t go and start a fight with someone then when they reply cry and play victim.” K. Michelle has firsthand knowledge of this: The two started a feud after Tamar proceeded to take shots at her over K. Michelle’s claims that Memphitz, the now-estranged husband of Tamar’s friend Toya Wright, abused her. Even after K. Michelle essentially called for a truce, Tamar continued taking shots at her—including in a since-deleted tweet criticizing K. Michelle’s performance at the 2015 BET Honors.

Did K. Michelle have to respond to Tamar’s insults by insulting her personal appearance? No. Was it out of line? Sure. Yet, despite being well into adulthood, Tamar still fails to grasp the reality that when you go out of your way to publicly criticize someone, you have to be prepared for whatever comes your way thereafter. Not everyone will respond the same way. Such is life. Get over it.

K. Michelle didn’t have to talk about Tamar’s appearance, but Tamar didn’t need to interject herself into another woman’s claim of abuse, either. Likewise, while she can shed tears about being called a Muppet by K. Michelle and Brown, she ought to reflect on some of her own bad behavior. In response to Brown’s admittedly childish retort to Tamar’s and The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon’s criticism of his relationship with Karrueche Tran, Tamar proceeded to describe Brown’s behavioras “queenish” and to question his manhood.

One thing that continues to irritate me about Tamar is that she will go out of her way to use “queen” as a pejorative, as if her entire shtick isn’t a combination of mores and customs associated with a sect of gay black men and BET’s animated homegirl Cita.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Unless he was offering direct flights to and from heaven, there was no way in hell Creflo Dollar was going to successfully raise $65 million for a new Gulfstream G650 jet via his own website.

Despite that harsh reality, the Rev. Dollar Dollar Bills, Y’all pulled his campaign only because the online commotion that his outrageous request had caused resulted in absolute ridicule. But as shameless as Dollar may have seemed, he is not an aberration in terms of how people are exploiting online charity.

I can understand fundraising to cover medical bills or even the cost of some creative endeavor, but how have we gotten to the point where people feel comfortable turning to strangers to support their every want and desire no matter how superfluous?

Take, for instance, Jameelah Kareem, who set up a GoFundMe page to raise money so that she could fly to Las Vegas for the upcoming Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. Kareem’s initial goal was to raise $1,500 (which she did), only she subsequently decided to extend her campaign and shift the remaining dollars raised to a former high school classmate who apparently needs to cover some medical bills related to breast cancer.

That gesture sounds lovely or something, but they do not negate Kareem’s initial intentions, which are audaciously superficial.

Or there’s the case of Azel Prather Jr., who recently launched a GoFundMe initiative to collect airfare to fly to Miami to “save his relationship with his girlfriend.” Prather, who works in marketing and apparently “has a knack for comedy,” scored an interview by the Washington Post for his efforts. Ah, there’s the real win.

There are worse campaigns than this, though. Some are presumably created in jest, hosted by people aiming to cover the cost of a Hennessy bottle or those professing that they are tired of being broke or in need of money for breast augmentation, intending to properly tip strippers or just wanting white privilege. But if their crowd actually donated, each fund seeker would have undoubtedly gleefully taken the contributions and spent them accordingly.

For example, there’s the woman who successfully crowdsourced her $362 Halloween cab ride from Uber. And then there’s the man who netted $55,000 to make potato salad. It’s not their fault that folks gave them money. Yet I somewhat resent them for inspiring the foolish aforementioned.

And while some of these stunts scream comedy, others are taking advantage of crowdsourcing and are completely serious in their intentions. I’ve stumbled across GoFundMe pages seeking help to cover the cost of immigration fees, baby showers and college tuition.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Michael Arceneaux, EBONY.com contributor and Master of Shade, calls out five of his biggest gripes from the past week. Rejoice and be read. Follow Michael @youngsinick.

1. These Gordons Ain’t Loyal: In “Have you no shame?” news, it wasn’t totally surprising to find out that members of Bobby Brown’s family were trying to shoot a reality show that included footage of them at the hospital where Bobbi Kristina Brown lies in a vegetative state. After all, Bobby probably hasn’t so much as sent them a free bottle of his BBQ sauce and chicken fryer mix. However, when it comes to her play brother and fake husband, Nick Gordon, you would hope more for him and his respect for Bobbi Kristina. Unfortunately, word has gotten out that Nick is set to appear on Dr. Phil and will be discussing his battles with his bae’s dad and her kinfolk. If this man had any respect for Bobbi Kristina, he’d be somewhere lighting a candle for her instead of contributing to the very kind of nonsense that made her live so problematic to begin with.

2. You Cannot Beat The Gay, Beloved: Andrew Caldwell, aka the man who says he was “DELIVERT” from homosexuality, is tip toeing back on his infamous declaration that went viral like a shot of Kim Kardashian’s ass cheek. In a new interview, Caldwell shares, “I feel that, if I was delivered, God should deliver me more. But I know it takes a process. But I think it is going a little bit slow. I want God to work on my mannerisms. I want God to stop the switching…talking like a woman.”

My immediate reaction to this is “Girl, bye,” but we have to acknowledge that men – Black men particularly – are often pressed by the larger community (this includes you, whites) to maintain a certain level of hypermasculinity. To not embody that is to be less than, or what misogynists call, feminine. Nonetheless, we are who we are and there’s nothing about femininity that is less than. It takes a secure man to realize this, so here’s hoping the Lord blesses him with a clue to he can go back to twerking to Beyoncé’s “Check On It” in peace.

Meanwhile, Caldwell added that he truly wants to be “delivered,” explaining, “Continue to pray for me because I am going through a lot each and every day.” I’m praying this time next year he’s at the gay club getting his life and realizing his life will be lived better when do so honestly. God bless, saint.

3. That Girl Raps Better Than You All The Time, Bro: For all his talent, Kanye West irritates the living hell out of me. Case in point, a guest lecture he delivered at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. He said many stupid things – including this idea that classism is new and that is supersedes racism – but I also want to focus on his sexist backhanded compliment to Nicki Minaj.

Reflecting on “Monster,” Kanye said: “One of the most memorable things about MBDTF was Nicki Minaj, and the fact that she kicked my ass, on my own song, on one of the best albums…the best album – I’m just saying what the critics said – of the last 25 years. The best album of the past 25 years that I spent a year and a half making, out there. I was exiled from my country, it was a personal exile, but exile. To come back and deliver my magnum opus of a work, and to be outshined…to be beat by a girl, basically.”

When one uses “beat by a girl,” the connotation is that it is the worst thing ever because women are less than men. In reality, though, for all his wit, vision, and talent as a producer, as a rapper, he leaves a lot to be desired – starting with him failing to rap on many of the various beats he crafted. So I’m not sure why he’s surprised that Nicki Minaj bested him given she’s a superior emcee to most of her contemporaries – men and women alike and him included.

Read more at EBONY.

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Amber Rose was correct in her assessment of Kim Kardashian in an interview with Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club.” Kanye West has every right to defend his wife. However, the manner in which West did so highlighted that for all his talk of innovation and forward thinking – in both art and perspective – Kanye can be just as much of a misogynistic jerk as many other non-hypermasculine men who present themselves as “good guys.”

When asked about Kardashian in a separate interview with “The Breakfast Club,” Rose argued what many of us believe: she feigns naiveté about her use of sexuality for attention.

In response to his ex-girlfriend about his current wife, West said:

She’s just soaking in the moment. If Kim had dated me when I first wanted to be with her, it wouldn’t be an Amber Rose … It’s hard for a woman to want to be with someone that with Amber Rose. She wasn’t sending me no pictures. I had to take 30 showers before I got with Kim. But I just wanna be respectful, man.

By his own logic, we wouldn’t have a Kim Kardashian had Ray J not ejaculated on her on camera and sold the footage to a porn company, which only sent Kardashian’s star soaring and brought more attention to her looming reality show. Had none of that happen, it’s perfectly plausible to believe that Kim Kardashian may have remained nothing more than Paris Hilton’s closet organizer.

Even so, what’s done is done and no matter how one gets initial attention, it’s up to that person to turn it into something else and sustain it. Both Kardashian and Rose have proven capable of doing just that. More importantly, these adult women are free to do whatever they want with their bodies.

Nonetheless, only West chooses to portray Rose as someone who, after being intimate with, requires an excessive amount of bathing.

This is the same woman who inspired portions of arguably his best album, My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy, and whom he once said in concert in her hometown, “To the city of Philly, I want to thank y’all for making the incredible person that this song was made for.” But you know, now she’s dirty, though one wonders how many showers it took KimYe to wash off the minor R&B singers, strippers, professional athletes between them. Likewise, it’s interesting to see a rapper who has helped celebrate infidelity and stripper culture now suddenly wants us to view him pristinely by comparison.

West went on to argue that his wife is using her naked body to break down class barriers. As funny as it was for West to speak of his wife’s body type as “new,” it’s even more hilarious for him to argue Kim Kardashian is fighting elitism and promoting healthy body types by doing a nude spread in a magazine spread shot by, Jean-Paul Goude, who has a sordid history with this body type and the Black women typically associated with it.

In typical Kanye and Kardashian fashion, they purport their typical antics as atypical because it’s presented in glossier filters. This makes them feel superior despite all signs pointing to the contrary.

Enter Khloé Kardashian refuting Rose’s critiques of 25-year-old Tyga’s rumored relationship with her 17-year-old sister, Kylie Jenner (since she was 16), by invoking her past as a teenage stripper. Of course, I wouldn’t expect anyone living with the confines of their vapid world to realize that if anything, Rose is an expert on the problems with grown men sexualizing teenage girls, but I still want to pass her a dunce cap all the same.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

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Whether imagined by a semi-bored press or very real for those the post pissed off nonetheless, the controversy surrounding Mary Cheney’s Facebook inquiry about drag and blackface speaks to many truths.

For starters, it proves for the umpteenth time that no matter what the privacy settings on your social media tell you, if you’re a public figure or, in this case, you just happen to be the daughter of a former vice president, there’s no such thing as privacy. It also shows that the LGBT umbrella is always wider than you think.

She asked this:

Why is it socially acceptable—as a form of entertainment—for men to put on dresses, makeup and high heels and act out every offensive stereotype of women (bitchy, catty, dumb, slutty, etc.)—but it is not socially acceptable—as a form of entertainment—for a white person to put on blackface and act out offensive stereotypes of African Americans? Shouldn’t both be OK or neither? Why does society treat these activities differently?

Now, like Cheney, I’m gay. And, like Cheney, I don’t know a whole lot about drag shows. I’m familiar with some basic tenets of their history and their influence on pop culture through the years. I also know that many a drag queen has interrupted my performances of (insert any Beyoncé song) to perform Patti LaBelle’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or, more recently, Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” way too many times.

But there’s one key difference between Ms. Cheney and me: If I’m unfamiliar with something—particularly an issue with even a smidgen of hypocrisy potential—I generally opt to exercise my intellectual curiosity. I use that magic machine I’ve heard cute, elderly people refer to as “the Google” or I look to friends who may be better versed on the topic at hand. Essentially, I hold off on forming an opinion about a subject until I am informed about it.

What I don’t do is blindly and ignorantly use a public forum to pose a seemingly innocuous, but actually very much insulting, question that simultaneously screams “hyperbole” and “silly things white people say.”

That’s exactly what Cheney did, though, when she took her half-baked query to Facebook.

And she probably thought she was really saying something. It’s just that people like Cheney need to be better about expressing a specific grievance about art without generalizing the entire art form itself. Especially if you’re Cheney and clearly don’t know much about what you’re attacking.

In a thoughtful retort, drag queen Miz Cracker did acknowledge that there is some level of misogyny among some queens. Even so, she warned about using some bad apples to paint a bunch using one brush. Cracker noted, “Just because some drag queens partake in misogyny individually does not make the entire art form inherently misogynistic—and this is where the blackface comparison breaks down.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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Two years ago Azealia Banks had a point about gay media and its portrayal of her as homophobic in light of her use of the word “f–got.” Though I did not agree with her, she was right in noting that some celebrities—i.e., the white ones who either are a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community or consider themselves allies—were given de facto passes to use it, while she was categorized as hateful. Although I defended her then from those charges, at this point there is no denying what the Harlem-bred emcee has made all too clear: She very much has a problem with gay men.

In a recent tweet she claimed, “Gay media has to stop using homophobia as a means to try and victimize itself and scar the names of its opponents.” And in an exchange with Vice writer Mitchell Sunderland (which she initiated, by the way), Banks not only berated Sunderland for being far less well off than she but further insulted him because she had an “extra hole” and he did not.

Banks went on to argue that gay men have no claims to their culture because it’s all derived from femininity and women. I’ve heard this argument before; it sounds stupider each time. Yes, a very long time ago, men who went on to become drag queens and those who started ball culture might have pulled initial inspiration from the women who clearly influenced them; however, these were marginalized folks who pulled from the dominant culture and subsequently created and developed their own thing.

When Banks samples Dorian Corey’s commentary in the iconic documentary Paris Is Burning on her mixtapes, among other influences from gay black culture in other aspects of her art, she should be very much clear that she didn’t build that. After all, if gay black culture is a direct bite from black women, why not go to them instead of the queens?

This is like saying that black colloquialisms are not black because they stem from the English. Actually, before Banks started crying about black culture being appropriated by white people for greater fortune on Hot 97, she made this point in a since-deleted tweet last year: “Like black American culture is ESSENTIALLY some adapted version of British culture, Because American culture is bastardized English culture.”

I think it’s cute that someone has since lent her the syllabus for an intro-level African-American-history course, which is why her tweets have become noticeably more black since then, but she is not as thoughtful as she thinks she is or as some have pegged her to be.

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