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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.

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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.

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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.

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As much as I loved Whitney Houston, the one lesson to take from her life —and her last few years in particular— it’s to let her rest. She served us well and gave us far more of herself and her gifts than we arguably deserved. Why continue to exploit her likeness any further? Has she not already done enough?

Apparently not, according to her sister-in-law and estate executor Pat Houston. She wants Whitney Houston to continue working. Thanks to technology, the impossible is now somewhat probable courtesy of plans to offer audiences Whitney onstage by way of a hologram.

In a statement about the proposed tour, Pat Houston says the use of a Whitney hologram is “a great opportunity for her fans to see a reinvention of one the most celebrated female artists in history and to continue a legacy of performances that will not be forgotten in years to come.”

Alki David, the CEO of Hologram USA, added, “The opportunity to help share her spectacular gifts with the world again is exactly what I hoped for when I built the hologram business.”

Translation: It’s another exploitative way to make money off the deceased star.

Pat Houston had already done this by way of an ill-advised and even more ill-timed reality show. A reality show that featured Whitney’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, visibly inebriated before a national audience. Considering the outcome of Bobbi Kristina’s life, it’s even more infuriating to think about how exposed she was. Whitney Houston regretted Being Bobby Brown, so I can’t imagine she would have wanted that for her daughter.

I also highly doubt she would want this either. It appears to be yet another tactic to tacky up the legacy of one of the world’s absolute greatest voices.

No matter how good the technology proves to be, it will not be the real Whitney Houston. The vocals may be there, but the soul behind it will not. It can never truly be the experience fans deserve.

Read the rest at VH1.

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Miley Cyrus is a marvelous example of moments when white people need to know that it’s perfectly acceptable to shut up and listen when it comes to the subject of race. Or, you know, not comment at all, especially if they’re not even marginally informed about a matter with a potentially racial subtext.

In an interview with the New York Times last week, the former child star and current attention seeker decided to lend her own commentary to Nicki Minaj’s criticism of the MTV Video Music Awards for snubbing her massively popular visual for “Anaconda” this year in the Video of the Year category. When asked about it, Cyrus began with, “I saw that. I didn’t really get into it. I know there was some beef. I don’t really know.” When asked if she knew what Minaj had said, Cyrus said, “She was saying that everyone was white and blonde that got nominated, I heard? And then Taylor Swift butted in.”

When it was explained that Minaj was alluding to a double standard—Minaj having bested the sales and impact of Cyrus’ own “Wrecking Ball” video, which won in 2014—Cyrus again said, “I didn’t follow it.” If you’re keeping score, Cyrus doesn’t really know, she didn’t really get into it and she didn’t really follow it. And yet she spoke anyway.

“Not that this is jealousy, but jealousy does the opposite of what you want it to—that’s a yoga mantra,” Cyrus explained. “People forget that the choices that they make and how they treat people in life affect you in a really big way.” Repurposing the jargon she picked up from her yoga instructor, Cyrus went on to advise, “If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement. But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it.”

You know, there are your feelings and then there are statistics. Statistics care not about your damn anecdotes. Just because you feel a given way about a situation doesn’t mean it’s rooted in reality. Namaste that, simpletons.

If these empty, poorly rationalized thoughts were not frustrating enough, Cyrus went on to criticize Minaj for the tone of her rightful complaints. Cyrus essentially scolded Minaj, noting, “You made it about you. Not to sound like a bitch, but that’s like, ‘Eh, I didn’t get my V.M.A.’”

Then came her “advice”: “If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself. Say: ‘This is the reason why I think it’s important to be nominated. There’s girls everywhere with this body type.’”

The interviewer noted, “I think she did say that,” but Cyrus did not waver, claiming: “What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj, is not too kind. It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love. You don’t have to start this pop star against pop star war.”

Cyrus’ simplemindedness irks the ever-loving hell out of me. Irked the hell out of Minaj, too. Last night, Minaj used part of the time allotted for her Best Hip-Hop Video win to address Cyrus’ criticism. Startled but still stuck on stupid, Cyrus blamed the media and life went on. Cyrus’ life affords her the luxury of being able to navigate subcultures as easily as she does the dominant one—and to be celebrated. Minaj isn’t as lucky, yet she gets lectured by a spoiled white girl, who casually drops “mammy” in her skit with Snoop Dogg, on how to talk race “the right way.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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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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