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I have just one and very much sincere question for those responsible for guiding Chris Brown’s career:
Do you still actually like him? Yes? No? Circle one.
I’ve watched the trailer for Brown’s upcoming documentary, Welcome to My Life, and if I were in Breezy’s circle, I would advise him to take the tape, destroy it, bury it, and pretend it never happened. Beyond the optics of the doc itself (its production value recalls afterschool specials I used to record on my mama’s VCR) I think if Brown has taught us nothing else, it’s that for him, silence is golden.
In the film, we hear the narrator claim, “He went from being America’s sweetheart to public enemy number one.”
Yes, we know much of that has to do with him physically assaulting his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. Some people will never forgive him for that — even if Rihanna herself has. That may strike some as unfair, but for others, Brown has continued to show himself to be a volatile and often vicious figure, thus incredibly unlikable.
Consider the reported physical altercations with Frank Ocean and Drake. There are also stories floating around, like say, him getting in shouting matches with his former girlfriend, Karrueche Tran. Then there are his combative social media habits, which ultimately prove that Brown needn’t talk to us anymore about anything besides his music.
Chris Brown has engaged in online battle with comedians, talk show hosts, bloggers, ex-girlfriends, actors, and other recording artists. Brown has also shown made statements that are sexist, transphobic, and give the distinct impression that he is, well, not a particularly nice person.
The reality is you don’t have to be an especially nice person to be successful – especially as an entertainer, but of course there are limits to what folks will put up with in the public eye. The documentary seems intent on two things: telling Chris Brown’s side of the story about his life in a more intimate way, which is designed to make him more appealing to the masses. However, we’ve long known Brown’s story. Perhaps too long.
I distinctly remember Brown’s interview on former Tyra Banks’ daytime talk show in which he described the abuse he witnessed as a child. It’s evident how much that shaped his life, but while many can understand how a Chris Brown is made, Brown himself has not done a whole lot to display that he has tried to take full control of his anger issues.
To that end, what good would yet another “inside look” into his life do? Does anyone on Team Brown remember his “The Real Chris Brown” video from 2012 in which he declared, “I’m a little drunk, so I’m going to be honest. You don’t all really get the real Chris Brown. I like to be honest.”
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If there’s any constant with respect to social media and the internet, it is that somebody is going to do something incredibly stupid and racially insensitive. Congratulations to Snapchat for being the latest guilty party.

In concert with marijuana aficionados’ most cherished holiday, 4/20, the the social media company released a Bob Marley selfie filter that, when used, adds locs, a Rastafarian-style hat and darker skin to the user. Problem is, it didn’t dawn on anyone over at the Snapchat offices that adding black skin to a white user’s face might look a lot like blackface. No matter what Zoe Saldana’s makeup artist in Nina or racist college party attendees might tell you, blackface is not really poppin’ in the streets. Unsurprisingly, the internet rage machine quickly homed in on the deserving target.

That said, SnapChat did use Marley’s face and name in partnership with the legendary singer-songwriter’s estate. A Snapchat spokesperson told Forbes via email that the filter “gives people a new way to share their appreciation for Bob Marley and his music. Millions of Snapchatters have enjoyed Bob Marley’s music, and we respect his life and achievements”.

That permission doesn’t make the feature less racist. Marley was the voice of poor people and black liberation in a space very few artists ever have access to, a distinction that deserves due respect. Whoever gave Snapchat permission to do this, it was an idea that shouldn’t have been executed. And Bob Marley’s estate can’t be trusted to police this – it has a questionable history of licensing the late singer’s likeness. (Full disclosure: I use Bob Marley-brand protein powder.)

That put the onus on Snapchat itself to make the decision, and it failed on multiple levels. At the very least, Snapchat could have restricted the filter to just the hat and the locs. The darkening of skin was not necessary. And for no one in that company – at least those with decision-making power – to understand why it would be an issue to invoke an inglorious history of minstrelsy speaks, yet again, to the ongoing problem with diversity in the tech industry.

Snapchat’s record when it comes to race is questionable. In 2015, Recode’s Walt Mossberg asked Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel about the company’s staff diversity. Spiegel replied,

Diversity, for us, is really closely tied to competency. We have such a diverse group of people using our products and services every day, that in order for us to make absolutely great products and services for that community, we need a really, really diverse group of people. And it’s really that simple.

Spiegel added, however, that, they don’t think of diversity in terms of percentages, arguing “it’s not really cool to think if people as numbers.”

Read The Guardian.

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When the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) first announced a talk show based on men and relationships co-starring Tyrese one question raced to my mind: Has anyone over there ever paid attention to Tyrese before hiring him for this?

If you Google the words, “Tyrese sexist,” a flock of credible offenses will fill your screen. While a sexist man isn’t exactly an anomaly, one wonders why OWN, a network whose growth is largely attributable to Black women, would offer someone like this a platform. Black women saved OWN in ways Lindsay Lohan, Rosie O’Donnell, Wynonna Judd, and Shania Twain (all of whom had previous incarnations of television specials/shows) could not and the reward for their loyalty is misogynoir with musical sensibilities.

Even though the show is called “It’s Not You, It’s Men,” it does very little in the way of challenging sexism. Look no further than model Amber Rose’s appearance in February, in which she took on both Tyrese and co-host, Rev. Run for perpetuating forms of rape culture. When Rose complained about street harassment and overall disrespect by men, Rev. Run suggested that perhaps “a representation of what you’re wearing and stuff and seems like, in their mind, what you’re representing.”

Tyrese echoed the sentiment adding, “I’m just saying, the comfortability some people find in wanting to touch or grope you. It’s an energy that is sent out there that creates that type of response.”

Rose shut them down, but the problem is when it comes to saying something dumb about women, Tyrese simply can’t help himself. The latest example is an Instagram post in which he claims to no longer fancy a certain kind of women. Everyone has a right to their particular preferences, but there’s an underlying stench behind this chauvinistic notion.

Part of his caption reads, “I was just asked today what qualities attract me at this point in a women…. I love a woman that’s smart, confident, educated, self sufficient, (available to be as spontaneous as this lifestyle I live.) I use to be attracted to women with HUGE personalities LOUD and AGGRESSIVE and I would always it a wall…. Now I’m in a zone where I am ONLY attracted to women who’s voice is so soft and she has the energy and presence of grace and regal sophistication….. Not subservient REGAL!!!”

In the comment section, where intelligence and reason unfortunately often go to be violently slaughtered, one commenter wrote, “Don’t nobody want a bunch Ne-Ne, K-Michelle, Tamar, Mi-Mi, and Cardi B’s running around the house. I can’t stand loud, aggressive women in my space and I’m a woman.”

They are both speaking the same language, only the commenter is merely taking Tyrese’s opinion one step further. When you look clearly at the examples mentioned, you’ll see that NeNe Leakes and Tamar Braxton are happily married. Mimi Faust is in a serious relationship and not with a clown for a change. Cardi B is engaged. Fine, I’ll give you K. Michelle, though to her credit, while it may not last as long as she likes, she keeps a man around.

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What comes to mind when you think of Stevie J? To be kind, I’ll start off with “musician.” After all, he did work on the legendary Mariah Carey’s Butterfly album. OK, enough of that.

Thanks to Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, when I think of Stevie J, I primarily think, “man with penis that suffers from attention-deficit disorder.” That’s why he cheated on Mimi Faust with Joseline Hernandez, who is either now his legal wife or the hood equivalent that is “wifey.” And based on the preview of the fifth season of this hit franchise, he’s cheated on Joseline, too. There may even be another baby on the way.

Are you thinking of Stevie J as a man of high moral character? Yeah, me neither. Still, stay with me. Suspending reality is the theme of this reality star’s story.

Now, after associating Stevie J with cheating, I think of the 2015 child-support arrest in which he was accused of owing more than $1 million in back child support. With that in mind, I find it highly comical that Stevie J reportedly has a problem with Mimi being in a relationship with a woman and that he doesn’t want the child he shares with her “exposed” to that. Stevie J recently told TMZ that he doesn’t “condone Mimi’s new relationship with GF, Chris.”

Stevie J went on to add that “he doesn’t want his little girl being raised in a lesbian household, and thinks that’s only a job for a dad and a mom.” If Stevie J were so fixated on a two-parent household, why did he never marry any of his baby mamas? Feel free to point and laugh here.

That said, on the most recent episode of the show, Chris revealed that she considers herself to be male, so the tag of “lesbian relationship” would not necessarily apply, and the couple themselves haven’t as yet labeled their relationship that.

Beyond Stevie J’s issues with Mimi’s relationship with Chris is his belief that Mimi is dating a woman only for the sake of a storyline. I haven’t made a baby with Mimi or made her weep on national television, but from the outside looking in, I’m not entirely surprised by her dating another woman. He should understand that sexuality can be fluid in many. Ask Joseline.

In any event, I’m fascinated by Stevie J’s stance for its hypocrisy and how it highlights what’s long been an issue—especially in the South.

In 2011, the New York Times published “Parenting by Gays More Common in the South, Census Shows.” In it, reporters spoke with Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles, who noted that gay couples in Southern states are more likely to be raising children than their counterparts on the West Coast, in New York or in New England. Moreover, black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising children. Many of these relationships began after one party or both had children with partners in heterosexual relationships.

Mimi is not an anomaly but merely another example of a trend that’s been happening for years now. In recent years, there have been studies that show that kids being raised in same-sex households face no disadvantage compared with children raised by heterosexual couples. So it’s peculiar that Stevie J, who has also been two-stepping in rehab over the last year, felt compelled to speak to a media outlet to discuss what he deems inappropriate settings for child-rearing.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Of all the fairy tales that I’ve heard in my life, my least favorite is, “If you don’t have haters, then you’re not doing anything.”

This sentiment was echoed recently by Canadian musician and performance artist Peaches about Kim Kardashian’s nude selfie during an appearance on The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Like many modern fables, those folks in the hippity hop culture are responsible. I think I first heard of “haters” on Eightball and MJG’s On Top of the World album.  More than 20 years later, I’m still hearing about haters, and I wish people would talk about the subject more thoughtfully and honestly.

For one, most people do not have hordes of people hating on them. Sure, Beyoncé is twirling on those poor unfortunate, tasteless souls who loathe her brilliant existence, but she made B’Day. Did you? I didn’t think so. The same goes for other famous people whose success breeds resentment among the petty, wack asses of the world. Even so, folks tend to forget that sometimes people hate your fucking ass for very good reasons.

Do you know why people hate Donald Trump? He’s a demagogue. He’s a bully. He wants to build a stupid, pointless wall. Excuse me, he wants to build a stupid, pointless, big, BEAUTIFUL wall.

Do you know why reality television villains like Kenya Moore have detractors? It’s ‘cause she’s annoying, overly dramatic, and unnecessarily antagonistic.

Do you know why some folks don’t rock with Kanye West anymore? Look at his Twitter tirades.

In Kim Kardashian’s case, some people dislike because of what she represents: shallowness. I don’t dislike Kim Kardashian. I like her overall. That said, I hate that sexism and patriarchy overshadowed legitimate gripes about her narcissism. Not everyone’s annoyance over the nude selfie she shared on social media can be attributed to her being a wife and mom. Some just felt, “Girl, you’re still on this wave? I’ve seen your naked body more than I have my own.”

Like, I don’t care if Kim Kardashian is naked. It is her body, she is free to do whatever she wants with it. I imagine I’ll be seeing her body over and over again until she takes her very last selfie before going on to glory. I don’t have a problem with nudity as a means of expression, but there’s something terribly boring about Kim Kardashian’s method of attention-grabbing overall. I find her tweeting random naked selfies taken a year ago to be as mundane as the color palette Kanye West dresses her in. The same goes for many of the things that are essentially part of her shtick as a reality star.

Then again, if it ain’t broke it, why fix it? It works for her. It will continue to work for her. She’s still in the club doing the same old two-step, though.

Moreover, while I agree with her essay about her right to be sexual as a mother and wife, I find it funny that she never clocked her family’s own bad habit of using a woman’s sexuality against her, i.e. Khloe Kardashian invoking Amber Rose’s past stripper job. So not only do some of us yawn, we also clock what feels like hypocrisy.

To suggest that any valid critique can be dismissed with she’s doing something right ‘cause people are talking is silly.

Now, to those reading, do you know why some people in your life might hate on you? You’re probably a terrible person. You can convince yourself that you must be doing something right because some cannot stand you, but that’s a very hollow way to view reality.

Read the rest at Complex.

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There are certain conversations between straight people online that make me want to throw my computer and phone into a sea of hot sauce. Of those topics, by far the most grating to the nerve is one centered on child support and all related custodial matters. Here’s how it goes: Some famous man – typically Black – expresses some grievance about the amount of child support he has to pay and/or purportedly not being able to see his child as much as he feels he should. In turn, men on social media – many of whom who will never, ever have a rich man’s problems – suffocates many folks’ timelines with complaints, most of which only exist within the confines of their imagination.

On the first Monday of 2016, Future took to the Twitter to be the latest famous man to engage in this practice, and like all of the other men before him, I wish the Negro would’ve turned to a diary instead.

Rap’s Karen Walker began his online complaining with “This bitch got control problems…”

Problem number one: Future is calling Ciara, the mother of his son a “bitch.” Trust me when I tell you that more often than not, when a son sees his dad refer to his mama this way, the only “bitch” to that child is the one with the penis. That’s not how you refer to the woman who gave one of your kids life, no matter how feisty you’re feeling in that moment.

Future then followed with: “I gotta go through lawyers to see babyfuture…the fuckery for 15k a month.”

Problem number two: This is none of the public’s business. Now, I don’t know a whole lot about Future and Ciara’s relationship, but I do know he cheated on her, thus ending their engagement. To that end, you reap what your wayward sexual appetite has sown, beloved. Meanwhile, as far as the 15k goes, you’re Future. You can afford it. Hell, I’ve chipped in by way of plenty of sales. You’re welcome, Black man.

After that $15,000 a month in child support reference came the complaints of mere commoners (and that’s no shade as I’m not famous either). For some reason, they, too, want to complain about child support. However, child support is based on income, so if you can afford it, that’s on you. Don’t want to pay child support? Buy condoms, it’s cheaper. Even so, a lot of these men fancy themselves as being rich, hence, their irritation with the child support figure Ciara and other women who have had babies by wealthy men get. Here’s how to solve that: realize your ass isn’t rich.

See that? I just saved you so much stress. I can give you my PayPal if you want to throw something in my tip car.

Next came Future’s declaration: “I jus want babyfuture that’s all.”

Tell the judge, not the world, my dude.

Followed by the claim: “I been silent for a year & a half..I ran outta patience.”

This, this right here, this is a damn lie.

Read the rest at VH1.

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For all intents and purposes, Caitlyn Jenner means well. However, intent does not negate impact, thus, for all the good she has done in boosting transgender visibility this year, she often leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths with the things she says. Rightfully so.

The most recent example of this is her Time magazine interview when the subject of imaging came up. Caitlyn says that seeks to “try to project a good image for this community.” Given Jenner’s career before and after her now historic reveal this year, obviously, image would matter.

Yet, she often has a habit of taking what’s important to her and mistaking that for what should matter most.

Look no further than the follow up commentary. “I think it’s much easier for a trans woman or a trans man who authentically kind of looks and plays the role.” Then came, “I try to take [my presentation] seriously. I think it puts people at ease. If you’re out there and, to be honest with you, if you look like a man in a dress, it makes people uncomfortable.”

In response to the criticism over her comments, Jenner penned an op-ed entitled “Still So Much To Learn.” In it, Jenner writes, “What I was trying to say is that our world really is still a binary one, and that people who look ‘visibly transgender’ sometimes can struggle for acceptance and may be treated poorly by others. And while this may be true, it’s also something that needs to change.”

Jenner offered an apology, but it doesn’t make me forget what she also said in that same Time interview: “I am not a spokesperson for the trans community. I am a spokesperson for my story, and that’s all I can tell. And hopefully by telling my story, I can make people think.”

Jenner, like many who take on the benefits of spokesperson but tries to steer clear of that label when something they say stirs trouble, wants to have it both ways. None of Jenner’s controversial comments made this year soil the good she has done, but they do point to what it is increasingly interesting about her. She is someone who has spent 65 years of her life as a white man, and for more than half of that, a rich and famous white man.

There is no more privileged a life so to see someone from the most privileged group on Earth go to arguably the most marginalized one is quite the transition. And Caitlyn Jenner is right in that she will continue to make mistakes along the way. Still, when she writes about the media sometimes taking her comments out of context – which she did in her apologetic, but still somewhat defensive blog post – she needs to remember that she elected to not only live out loud, but use her platform to push for change.

So, when we hear Caitlyn Jenner reinforce the very gender binaries that she says led to past troubles, she will rightfully be called out. The same goes for her appearing on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show and articulated her purported evolved but not necessarily incredibly embracing stance on marriage equality.

Read the rest at VH1.

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What’s Black, delusional, and in desperate need of a hole to fall into? For those of us who have read about Bill Cosby and his latest legal action, the answer is pretty clear. The legendary comedian and accused serial rapist has decided to file a countersuit against seven of his 50 victims: Tamara Green, Therese Serignese, Linda Traitz, Louisa Moritz, Barbara Bowman, Joan Tarshis, and Angela Leslie. In court documents, Cosby asserts that he “neither drugged nor sexually assaulted” the seven women. As a result, he is suing them for damages and injunctions, which include “retracting and correcting” their accusations of sexual assault. According to Cosby, their words and actions cost him

Indeed, part of the counterclaim reads as follows: “Each Counterclaim Defendant induced both NBC and Netflix to postpone or cancel their contracts with Mr. Cosby by engaging in a campaign to assassinate Mr. Cosby’s reputation and character by willfully, maliciously, and falsely accusing Mr. Cosby of multi-decade-old purported sexual misconduct in an opportunistic attempt to extract financial gain from their allegations.”

Bill Cosby’s lawyers, who right now probably are making enough to purchase a small island in billable hours, are subjected to essentially do whatever their client wants to. Bill Cosby isn’t paying me any mind, much less money, but if there’s anyone who is close to Pudding Pop and actually cares about his horrible self, do me a solid: tell that old fool to sit his silly ass the hell down somewhere.

Let’s be clear that Cosby in suing seven of his accusers, but there’s 43 more out there. Hell, by the time I finish this sentence, there could easily be six or 18 more who spring up. With that in mind, what fool in his right mind would bother suing a small fraction of his accusers?

And does he truly think they alone ruined his TV comeback? Better yet, at 78-years-old, while it’s certainly impressive that on the heels of becoming an octogenarian, why are so concerned about making a TV comeback? Can I sue Cosby’s ego for giving me a headache? Please advise.

He seems to truly believe there was so concerted effort to “take him down.” I guess that’s what happens when you settle a previous lawsuit with numerous women accusing you of the same crime. He got away with it then, but it is a new day now. Someone ring his alarm and inform him of the shift already.

Here is what Bill Cosby should do: apologize for his alleged crimes and pay some sort of restitution to ever single one of his accused victims. That won’t right the wrong he is accusing of doing, but it is something. It’s definitely more than pulling from the Petty Playbook and filing a lawsuit.

Note that I used the phrasing “should do.” Option one sounds a little too similar to right, thus, rendering it totally implausible an outcome. Obviously, crotchety Cosby is not concerned with being a decent person so there’s very little chance he acknowledges any wrongdoing. Ever.

Read the rest at VH1.

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Serena Williams is many things, but first and foremost, one of the greatest athletes of all-time. If that point isn’t clear enough, that means male or female, black or white, Serena is one of the best athletes ever. Needless to say, for many, her recognition by Sports Illustrated as sportsperson of the year feels nice albeit quite late on arrival. Nonetheless, that hasn’t stopped some people from crying foul – notably in the defense of a damn horse.

Some – majorly white, male, and seemingly bored out of their minds online – have argued that American Pharoah, horse racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years deserves the honor. The horse winning the magazine’s readers’ poll for the award fuels their stance. There are so many problems with this line of thinking.

Let me count the ways.

For starters, the award is named sportsperson of the year. A horse is not a person. I’m sure, #AllMammalsMatter in select cases, but not this one. Already, sites like SBNation have mocked these people rallying for the humanity of a horse. It’s worth a chuckle, but you instantly cringe once you realize that to people like this, the value of an animal will also matter more than the life let alone the accomplishments of a Black person.

Meanwhile, Sports Illustrated’s Christian Stone was quite clear about Williams’ selection, writing: “Sports Illustrated honors her dominance in 2015, when she won 53 of her 56 matches, three of the four Grand Slam events and built the most yawning ranking points gap between her and her closest competitor in tennis history. We honor her, too, for a career of excellence, her stranglehold on the game’s No. 1 ranking and her 21 Grand Slam titles, a total that has her on the brink of Steffi Graf’s Open Era Slam record, which Williams will likely eclipse by mid-summer.”

No offense to the horse, but this is the part where everyone – horse included – ought to bow down.

But if there were not enough validation, Stone added a more honest omission about the unique barriers Williams face yet manages to excel despite them: “We are honoring Serena Williams too for reasons that hang in the grayer, less comfortable ether, where issues such as race and femininity collide with the games. Race was used as a cudgel against Williams at Indian Wells in 2001, and she returned the blow with a 14-year self-exile from the tournament. She returned to Indian Wells in ’15, a conciliator seeking to raise the level of discourse about hard questions, the hardest ones, really.”

Things beyond her control have long affected Williams: namely her race and gender. Even in the context of an honor she deserved (and again, deserved earlier than when she actually got it), racial politics came into play. Enter the Los Angeles Times, who published a story validating the opinions of morons who have ranked a horse higher than Serena Williams.

Read the rest at VH1.

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At one point do you inhale, exhale, shoop-shoop and let a six-month period of your life go? For Farrah Franklin, the answer is 15 years and counting. The former member of Destiny’s Child did a recent interview with VladTV about her very short time in the legendary R&B group, only I struggle with the purpose of revisiting an issue she’s already addressed quite a few times over the years. With people like Wendy Williams, circa the radio years; in magazines like Sister 2 Sister magazine; on many a random blog over time.

I say this with the best intentions: Girl, move on.

As it stands now, Beyoncé, the solo artist, is an international superstar who is five albums into what has been one of the most successful careers in music history. Kelly Rowland has released multiple solo albums and is presently filming a television show centered on creating a new girl group for BET. Michelle Williams, has released solo music for both the secular and gospel fields, has acted on Broadway and has done some television work, too. Then there are the other former members of the group like LeToya Luckett, who released two very good solo albums (including one platinum release) and has created very steady work as an actress. And while she acted as if she was allergic to singing on the reality show R&B Divas: Atlanta, even LaTavia Roberson reemerged to the public and found herself something to do.

And you know, Farrah has done some things, too.

If memory serves, Franklin was briefly signed to Fabolous’ label, but did release solo tracks like “Get At Me” featuring Method Man. She had a cute cover on Smooth magazine. That is no shade. I mean it.

Wait, she just put out a new song and video in the summer. She should be talking more about that. Hell, talk about being on Millionaire Matchmaker. Just don’t talk about Destiny’s Child anymore. She was being goaded into talking about something that happened 15 years ago and was clearly still feeling a ways about it.I understand that Farrah may have been mistreated during her stint, but enough. She essentially had a shitty job albeit a high profile, high paying one. It sucks that it ended, but think of it this way: children born the year she was in Destiny’s Child – again, for five damn months or so – now have learner’s permits. Would you still be talking about this?

Also make note that Farrah was in one music video and breathed a little bit on “Independent Women (Part One).” That’s more than many will accomplish in music, but it’s not exactly the kind of experience that should encourage anyone to keep two-stepping inside of a time machine.

Let’s put this in further perspective.

Read the rest at VH1.

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