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Whenever you pick the brain of someone like Lord Jamar about hip-hop’s ills, he’ll give you minutes-long rants about how the “feminization” of hip-hop is destroying both the culture and the Black men who contribute to it. His most recent display of this sad lil’ shtick was an interview he gave to Vlad TV earlier in the month about rapper Young Thug daring to wear something that looks an awful lot like a dress. When asked about it, the former Brand Nubian emcee flatly said, “I’m not feelin’ him. The more feminine shit that you do, the more you’re going to have to do other shit to try to prove your manhood.”

I’ve always found homophobia (which is in a deeply committed relationship with misogyny) within the hip-hop community to be especially laughable. As Aaron McGruder used to routinely point out in the pre-TV days of The Boondocks, this is a genre of music in which its biggest stars are greased muscle men instructing other men to suck their dicks. On top of that, many of these guys are adorned in so much jewelry you’d think Liberace had a bunch of unidentified bastard seeds. Meanwhile, a common narrative of rap is, was, and perhaps may always will be to drive home the point that women—excuse me, bitches—ain’t shit.

We are collectively a very He-Man woman hating society, though, so I can’t dismiss Lord Jamar as some sort of outlier like a Five Percenter or one of those Black Israelites who every Sunday on 125th and Lenox disparage Islamic men for wearing “dresses” and, like Lord Jamar, act as if femininity is some terrorist organization hell bent on the annihilation of Black men.

Yes, Lord Jamar may be one of the harsher and outspoken critics of the “feminization” of Black men, but he’s no less guilty than many of the other people who griped over Kid Cudi wearing a crop top at Coachella. The same goes for those who roasted Kanye West for wearing a kilt. Sure, you could sweep some of the critics aside as “jokes,” but it all ultimately plays into the sentiment that when you are a man—particularly a Black one—you are limited in your personal expression for the sake of preserving your manhood.

To Lord Jamar and others, manhood is a performance. One’s personal style is a part of that act and the minute you deviate from the collective acceptance of masculine ideals, you are worthy of ridicule, condemnation, or the very least, be questioned about your manhood, an all-too common occurrence that deserves re-examination.

In a piece entitled “metrosexuality is dead, thank god for that,” Anders Christian Madsen celebrates the end of the early 2000s trend and credits the likes of David Beckham, Jared Leto, and Zac Efron for showing (white) men that it’s okay to break from the mold. Similar pieces have been written in celebration of Kanye West, and perhaps over time, Kid Cudi, Young Thug, and others may receive similar accolades for doing the same for Black dudes.

This undoubtedly spooks the hell out of the Lord Jamars of the world, but what frightens me mostly is that ultimately, we’ve still yet to challenge how exactly we should judge one’s manhood.

If you are gay, you are used to the idea that some men may view you as less of a man for your attractions; however, we’ve reached the point where a straight guy could literally be swimming in a pool of vagina and he’d still be considered less of a man and boxed in because of a crop top or a kilt.

Read the rest at Complex.

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It may not seem like it, but Trey Songz has been around for almost a decade now. Of course, you’d have to remember a time when Trey had braids and managed to get Aretha Franklin and Juvenile on the same track. One assumes most cannot, as evidenced by Trey’s initial sales figures, though the singer who used to drop mixtapes under the name “Prince of Virginia” did manage to cement his status as a bona fide star with his third album, Ready. The 2009 release spawned the top-10 Hot 100 hit, “Say Ahh,” and R&B/hip-hop radio chart toppers “I Invented Sex” and “Neighbors Know My Name.”

With Trey’s new fade, bigger frame and sexual bravado set to full speed, Ready sold nearly a million copies domestically and positioned Trey as essentially the heir to R. Kelly’s (urine-soiled?) throne.

Yet, while Trey’s follow up album, Passion, Pain & Pleasure>, went on to outsell and produce another Billboard hit in “Bottoms Up” featuring Nicki Minaj, it was not the fan favorite that Ready was. For good reason: It wasn’t especially enjoyable. It was too long, poorly edited and a bit all over the place. Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson did not make all of those short-ass albums for you contemporary crooners to give us these No Limit-era R&B albums.

The same goes for 2012’s Chapter V, which sold nearly as low as Trey’s first two albums. As interesting as Trey’s thought process on club-going sounded to him at the time, I’m not entirely sure that’s the kind of song an R&B singer ought to be singing.

That’s essentially been one of Trey’s biggest problems: a lack of focus in terms of sound and identity.

Trey Songz hasn’t made his love of rapping a secret, but neither has the radio when it comes to how it feels about Trey Songz, the rapper. Quick: Name a rap song from Trey as big as any of the aforementioned hit singles? Exactly. More, while misogynistic lyrics are typical of a rapper, how far does a pretty boy who sells his love and lovemaking songs – often performed shirtless – expect to go with his huge female audience when he’s calling them a bitch every other line in a song no one asked for?

Now, only a few short months away from his sixth release, Trigga, Trey Songz ought to ask himself what might get him back to the sort of success he enjoyed with Ready.

Read the rest over at VIBE.

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Dear August Alsina:

Considering you’re a Black male artist signed to a major label in 2014, I imagine you’re kind of like a prostitute who has to buy his or her own condoms and OraQuick—there is likely no budget for media training. Now, since I consider myself a fan of yours, I’m going to do you a solid and explain to you why Tuesday was the best day Trey Songz has had in very long time.

First off, Keshia Chanté was simply doing her job. Regardless as to whether or not you or anyone else cares for the way she handled her duties, she didn’t do anything that any media personality, television host, radio personality, or journalist would not have done in a similar situation. Yes, sometimes media outlets may agree to avoid asking an entertainer certain questions, but more times than not, that is a courtesy – a courtesy that is often rightly rescinded.

This is especially true for a young R&B artist with a whopping one minor radio hit to his name. Maybe you missed the memo, but it’s hard out here for an R&B cat. Do you really want to behave in a way that puts you at risk at becoming an outcast on the only major cable network guaranteed to give even a small percentage of a damn about your life?

There may be some people cheering you on for this type of response, but that doesn’t surprise me given Congress never passed that jobs bill. Plus, you have to factor in that some of those people defending your actions are imaginary celebrities in the parallel universe known as their delusion-flavored imagination. To quote Uncle Ruckus, “don’t trust those new”….wait, I can’t finish this sentence. Look up the first episode of The Boondocks later.

For now, let’s just put some things in perspective. Tuesday was the biggest day of your career – i.e. dropping your first full-length project – and on the day you’re on a national network with a show that caters to your core fan base (young women), you berate a woman and curse at her. All over a question you could’ve easily dismissed with a simple “No comment.”

This is hustling backwards personified, dude.

Worse, again, it is 2014 and you’re a Black singer not named Usher, Chris Brown, and Trey Songz. The bookers over at The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Live With Kelly and Michael probably don’t even know you exist you, sir. They don’t even care about some of the dudes I just mentioned. You might want to be nicer to the people who are only helping you address a situation that you created.

Read the rest at EBONY.

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If “positivity” had a publicist, chances are it would scan each of our respective social media timelines and quickly release a press release that stressed (in a professional way), “I don’t know these hoes.” But since positivity isn’t so fortunate, I’m going to do my part to help its cause. I may not be able to kill the new online phenomenon that is the Social Media Fauxlosopher, but I can kick it in the shin and run.

Listen, I completely understand the desire to uplift yourself and your fellow man. Times are hard and not everyone can afford therapy—or for that matter, generic anti-depressants. I understand the desire to want to help. I truly, truly do.

Even more, I do not discount the value of anecdotes and I’ve met enough Baptists and attended enough Mary J. Blige concerts to know the power a testimonial can have on people. Even so, there are just way too many people who don’t know shit about a damn thing and need to shut their happy asses up. Not only are they embarrassing themselves, they’re irritating the living hell out of folks who either at least finished one freshman college course or have seen enough episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show to know better.

Sorry to be a spoiler, but reading the book jacket of The Secret should not give you license to slide out of your lane. Bless your heart for trying, but everyone can’t be “deep” and not everyone is equipped to be philosophical. There is a reason why Maya Angelou is Maya Angelou and so many of you are whatevrurjobiz879 online. It’s okay to just be that.

You know the types I’m talking about.

These are the people who tweet things like, “You know, as the good book says, ‘Like a moth to a flame burned by the fire. My love is blind, can’t you see my desire?’”

“Men lie. Women lie. Numbers don’t. Why can’t we just be like math?”

And so forth.

Then there are the ones who are clearly repurposing old sayings they heard from the gray-haired members of their family—which you are certain of, as the old heads in your family have told you the same thing.

Rounding it out are the fake relationship experts who are more like performance artists in the act of projection. Oh, and we can’t forget about the “parody” celebrities accounts that are just fake Will Smith quoting Benjamin Franklin and Bugs Bunny hour after hour.

Read the rest at Complex.com.

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It is with trepidation that I tackle the song “Throw That Boy P*ssy,” which I’ve been sent 10 million times since last week because a) I’m a Black gay, b) I’m a Black gay from Houston, just like the artist behind the track, Fly Young Red c) because people like to send me things to get a reaction for their amusement. Well, here we are. You can’t see me, but I’m pausing every five minutes to reach out to God and Whitney Houston to be with me as I try to make sense of this.

First, let me start off with the positive.

“Throw That Boy P*ssy” has a very nice beat. It’s one of those basic, but catchy lil’ beats that’ll instantly have you bop before you realize this ditty is a mating call from an aggressive top who likes to play mix and match when it comes to naming holes.

Also, in its own weird way, it’s rather remarkable to hear a gay man – particularly a Black one – be so blunt about his sexuality. When asked for the inspiration behind this song, Fly Young Red said in response, “A few good ni**as…nah I saw a ni**a dancing in the club that I wanted to f*ck so I made a song about it..”

Who doesn’t love romance? Many of us can relate to that. And as one of my favorites, Rich Juzwiak, notes over at Gawker: “Many a rap song has been written about women using this kind of blunt, crass, anatomy-probing language. And now here’s one a gay dude wrote about dudes. I don’t know where we go from here, but I’m tickled that we got here.”

Agreed, though while I may be tickled a bit by this track, I’m mortified by some of the responses I’ve seen to the song and video.

 

Holy homosexual hyperbole, Batman.
Maybe I’m being saddity, but while I can salute the new hometown hero on his hustle (the video has already amassed more than a million views), it feels like a bit of a reach to pass Fly Young Red off as the Frederick Douglass of male on male fellatio. I’m not giddy about the fact straight women will continue to greet me with “What’s your real name and not your Jack’d name?” for anywhere between six weeks and forever.

The same can be said for how helpful lyrics like “Let me see you clap that ass like a b*tch” when at its core, that teases some of the very sort of patriarchy and misogyny that fuels anti-gay bias. I’m trying not to sound like the Spike Lee of the gays across the railroad tracks on the rainbow, but it’s mission impossible. Much of that has to do with people trying to make an ignorant albeit catchy ass song more than what it is.

Y’all, sometimes it’s okay to let an ignorant ass song you dance to at the club when the brown liquor has taken temporary custody of your intelligence be just that and nothing more. Damn.

This is not BEYONCÉ, this is Boy P*ssy.

Read the rest at EBONY.

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What I love about technology is that it’s given us so many different ways to communicate with each other. What I’m increasingly hating about technology, and to be specific, social media, is that it’s chipping away at one of the oldest methods of communication: words. Chat acronyms flood my Twitter and Facebook timelines daily and have been a constant pain in text conversations over the years.

Now, I try to be respectful of other people’s views. For example, despite thinking that only selfish, soulless corporatists find any of the tenets of modern conservatism to be virtuous; I don’t hate you or your Fox News-feasting brethren. Likewise, Jesus seems like the homie, but these days I limit my praise and worship to blasting screwed and chopped version of Mary Mary’s gospel music in the morning. And if you don’t share the fanfare of Lupita N’yongo I don’t judge you; I respect your right to be wrong.

But, there are two lifestyle choices that make me wince, or in some cases, force me to tame my inner Chris Brown. The first is a disdain of Beyoncé. As I say often, if you don’t like Beyoncé, you probably have some sort of personality disorder and I want you to stay far, far away from me.

The other thing that really snap, crackle and pop locks my last nerve is our heroin addict-like obsession with shorthand. Don’t get me wrong; I do agree that acronyms have their place. Sometimes it’s just easier to say NAACP, NWA, or YMCMB. That said, technology has coddled far too many of you fools and my eyes are sick of it.

Call me whatever you want, but if you text “HBD” instead of “Happy Birthday,” you’re a terrible person. It literally only takes a few additional seconds to type out the words. Hell, if you have an iPhone, it will more than likely auto-complete the word for you. By the way, why is it “HBD” when “Birthday” is one word? I guess this is what happens when you make an entire generation of students train to take a test versus teaching them things like language, or critical thinking.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Dear Tyler:

Although I’m not the biggest fan of your work, I took no joy in your new movie, Single Moms Club, becoming your worst opening picture to date. Okay, fine, I smirked for a few seconds, but I bet the stars of The First Wives Club laughed like hell at your official failed attempt to make a movie that’s sort of like the Lady Gaga to their Madonna. I really hope Bette Midler is somewhere going, “Who shot ya? Separate the weak from the obsolete.”

Likewise, I took no personal joy in Lionsgate ending its deal with your 34th Street Films, given that arrangement was intended to help you introduce other filmmakers not named Tyler Perry. Then again, one of the very movies released under that banner, For Colored Girls, is the main reason why I stopped going to see your movies in theaters. Your movies have made made close to a $1 billion and you own an island. We both know your heart will go on.

Anyway, thanks to Netflix, I did watch one of your most recent works. What was it called again? Tyler Perry’s Confessions of Another Stuck Up, Educated Light Skinned Heifer You Want To Punish On Film? Or was it Tyler Perry’s Confessions Of a Girl Who Needs Jesus & a Bus Driver? Whatever, you know which one I’m talking about; the one with the Smollett girl from Eve’s Bayou. That one.

I don’t want to rehash the rage the ending spawned— though it is incredibly irresponsible and downright despicable to use AIDS as a tool of punishment—but I do think that movie and your other Madea-less film failures in recent years point to a pattern that you need to address if your aim is to get back on top.

For starters, by now you should realize that you can’t just repurpose old film plots and expect to win big at the box office. So if you’re going to keep sampling movies from the 1980s and 1990s, you need to be like Puff Daddy and make that remix hot. In 2014, you’re more like Diddy in the mid 2000s. Remember any of his hits from that era? Me neither.

Oh, and I know you want crossover appeal, but sir, you may catch a few batches of White folks here and there, but sticking random C-list White actors isn’t going to make your movies more appealing to them. Like most of the Black mamas and great aunties in attendance, they just want to see Madea threaten to pistol whip somebody. Please stop trying so hard.

Now, if you’re serious about branching out and doing more “serious” movies and gain wider audiences, I have one very important tip for you: Please evolve, particularly on the way you portray women.

If there is one pattern to be found in your works, it’s the obvious disdain for “uppity,” educated women. That, more than anything else, is why I personally can now only take your works in doses. Hell, I would rather leave my contacts in hot dog water overnight than watch another one of your mean spirited dramatic diss records to smart, professional women.

Also, I know romantic comedies are all tied to a “happy ending,” but for someone whose entire fortune is based on the monetary support of Black women, you’d think you’d be a bit kinder to the single ones. Yes, it’s always nice to have someone, but why is a woman’s happiness always predicated on her landing a man—particularly a blue collar one?

Can no one in your movies be unmarried and be—gasp!— happy all the same? I mean, you’re not married, but you seem to be quite giddy. Why can’t any of your female characters be just as satisfied?

And how about outsourcing some of the screenwriting and directing duties to some of these brilliant Black children of God out here who have the talent, but can’t get the work? You don’t have to be a one-man-band when you have the resources to hire other people. And maybe more outside input can help you tell new stories with new characters.

Wait, let me stop before I end up the basis of a character in one of your future movies: Godless, hedonist homosexual who doesn’t find nirvana Jesus until a wise cracking, single mother of two and a half introduces me to love while stamping my priority mail.

The bottom line is you can’t keep doing is giving us Cassie the first time she performed on 106 & Park and keep expecting Beyoncé results.

Read more at EBONY.

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There is no polite way to say to a friend, “I enjoy you just fine in person, but as far as your online persona goes, I want to reimagine Kirk Franklin’s ‘Stomp’ all over your phone and whatever other product you own with Internet access. Why? Because I fucking hate you online, bitch.”

Thanks to the implosion of social media and our collective crackhead-like addiction to it— combined with the growing need to overshare—I’m learning things about my friends that I would’ve never known, or at the very least, would’ve taken a very long time to notice.

For example, while I’m not as averse to having respectful conversations about religion and politics with my friends, I’m a choosey lover when it comes to that, and even then I prefer to keep such chatter to a minimum. And yet, whenever I go to Facebook (in a time machine to share my articles), my homepage might as well be called the “Hallelujah For Hosanna” bulletin board. That’s fine for the most part, but there’s always that freak for Jesus who wants to go Commando Christian and thump everyone upside the head with their Bible. Where is Moses to part your ass from my feed?

Worse are the people who know as much about politics as a three-hour old baby. Then again, I suppose I’ll take that person over the YouTube false prophets who swear Satan co-wrote“Partition” and is trying to take over the world, one D’ussé purchase at a time. There are too many libraries still open for anyone to be so damn stupid.

Then there’s Twitter, where diarrhea of the thoughts has a daily orgy.

Friend, I hate that you’re casually sexist, homophobic, or in some cases, racist.

Friend, I hate that you think being a mean-spirited, miserable asshole is amusing. I’m sure the other mean-spirited, miserable assholes are coaching you on, but you’re not going to want to share a cot in hell with them.

Friend, I hate that you think you’re Iyanla Vanzantwhen, in real life, you’re about two mistakes away from ending up on MaurySteve Harvey, or some other daytime talk show for people who need to cut out the bullshit and get right.

Friend, I absolutely hate that you’re one of those people who shames broke people. If I went by Twitter, I would assume everyone is sipping the finest Kool-Aid from diamond encrusted red solo cups as they tweet from your Italian villa. Do you know how hard it is for me to hold back the urge to say, “How are you talking about broke folks when you’re paycheck to paycheck like my ass?” Or in some cases, credit card scam to credit card scam.

Read the rest at Complex.

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If you have a sibling and can recall a time in which your mammy or pappy called you, your brother and sister, and maybe a cousin for a circular butt whooping, you know how this edition of The Weekly Read is going to go. I’m not going to cut a real switch, but there are numerous people who have tried it this week and need to stop it post haste.

So, in my best Mystikal voice, here I go, here I go…

Toni Braxton

Toni, I love you the way you love a high slit, but what in the hell were you talking about when you told Bethenny Frankel about your divorce, “Yes, I am in LA and my ex-husband is there but we get along great. We are very Caucasian, very white about it?”

In your mind, a Black divorce is, “I hate you Jody, I hate you Jody. That’s what it means to Black people.” To make it worse, you added, “Black people will kind of look and say why is that? Why don’t they hate each other?”

First of all, the Baby Boy couple wasn’t even married, so that reference doesn’t make sense. Now I don’t know what planet you’re on, Shug Avery of R&B (all hail Fresh for that reference), but in the rest of our worlds white people have just as tumultuous divorces as everyone else. See Mia Farrow and Woody Allen or any of Charlie Sheen’s ex-wives.  And hell, take a stroll through one of these gentrified streets of Brooklyn or Harlem.

It is Black History Month, madam, so you needn’t be embarrassing us like that in front of company. I love your new album, though. I even bought it. Don’t make me regret it.

The Other Braxtons

I’ve been such a big fan of Braxton Family Values because its scope has largely been, “What if Cinderella got along with her wicked stepsisters?” However, after a couple of seasons and far too much hostility in a short amount of time, I increasingly feel weird about watching this. Like, it’s giving me flashbacks to the period of my life in which I wouldn’t invite friends over due to fears that an impromptu curse out might break out at any second. Though I’m used to seeing our people fight like high school girls on TV, it’s not as entertaining (forgive me for enjoying conflict conflated with alcohol and forced situations) when you realize the people fighting are kinfolk.

In recent interviews, the sourest apple of the bunch, Towanda Braxton, has gone out of her way to claim that media and people surfboarding through social media are making a big deal out of nothing. “Nothing” being the obvious jealousy she harbors towards her sister, Tamar Braxton. I’m used to celebrities blaming the media for the problems they created for themselves, but that’s something especially annoying about Towanda blaming audiences for daring to use their senses to detect her unnecessary shade.

Sorry, Towanda, you Yolanda Adams clone, you. But it’s not the media comparing your baby sister achieving a lifelong dream to passing gas or discounting her first award by declaring, “It’s not like it’s an Oscar.” It may not be an Oscar, but it’s more than what you ever won. As for you airing on Tamar’s husband’s tax debt on Twitter: If not for that man, Tamar and Toni’s involvement in the reality show, the only headlines you’d have on the Google would be for writing bad checks. Yes, I remember that. As should you.

If this family is going to treat each other the way Jermaine Jackson treated Michael on that infamous dis track “Word To The Badd,” y’all gotta get off reality TV and report directly to family therapy.

Katy Perry

Read the rest at EBONY.com.

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Just because something sounds right doesn’t mean that it is. Likewise, repetition doesn’t bolster credibility. So as much as I appreciate Tank trying to tackle the current state of R&B, all I can do is shake my head at what’s recently come out of his talented mouth.

Speaking with Black Hollywood Live Network, Tank addressed a number of issues he feels face contemporary R&B in an ever-changing music industry. Now, he wasn’t totally wrong when he noted how some artists – say, Rihanna – are often wrongly categorized as R&B despite their music having little rhythm or blues encompassed in its composition simply because the complexion is enough to make a connection. He’s also correct when he says this about Alicia Keys’ Girl On Fire Grammy winning Best R&B album despite it collecting dust at various Starbucks locations across the country: “Alicia Keys is very popular in the back room. It probably wasn’t even a matter of what the record sounded like or who influenced it.”

However, there are two points argued in that interview that both do the Nae Nae over my last two nerves. The first is, “We have to get back to making R&B for everybody. Not just for one place in time. Not just for the bedroom. Not just for the bathroom.”

Then came this: “We have to get back to that. Making that kind of music. ‘Happy.’ So we can sing on the Oscars, along with Pharrell, who’s… him, Robin Thicke, Justin Timberlake who are leading the charge in R&B music. We can’t hate! We can’t hate on what it is! The truth is what it is. And Robin Thicke and Justin Timberlake are doing R&B music better than us. We need to catch up.”

Actually, I pretty much reserve the right to hate everything you just said, Tank, and all of the nonsense that has fueled their rise and given you a false sense of security in your assessment of your Black peers.

I’m not convinced that songs about sex and partying are the problem with why R&B has floundered overall in recent years. If you flip to any pop station, you’ll find plenty of sexual innuendo and ditties about tipping to a party. Sure, you could argue that there could be a bit more balance, but even the quickest scan of any of the R&B charts on Billboard will show there’s a wide array of representation of voices in terms of both topics and tonsils.

Or better yet, maybe you shouldn’t be basing your opinion solely on what’s terrestrial radio at all. Either way, there is plenty of good R&B music to find if you so desire.

You have newcomers like Mack Wilds, Sevyn Streeter, Jheno Aiko, August Alsnia, or any of the acts featured on last year’s Saint Heroncompilation. None of those acts sound like the other – particular if you look past the singles and listen to their works in full. More established – Kelly Rowland, Ciara, Fantasia, John Legend, Janelle Monáe – all released solid efforts last year. As much as people bemoan reality TV, it has allowed artists like K. Michelle and Tamar Braxton second chances at stardom. Ditto for 1990s veterans such as Toni Braxton and SWV.

And then there’s Beyoncé and her last album.

Meanwhile, Robin Thicke released a so-so album led by a hugely popular single that borrows heavily lifting from Marvin Gaye while Justin Timberlake released two albums that were met with larger sales than Black acts, but reviews ranging from mix to widely panned. These may have enjoyable music, but they’re not leading the genre nor are they pushing it forward. The latter honors should go to more deserving artists like Miguel and Frank Ocean.

Read the rest at Clutch.

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