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When The Huffington Post announced that it would place all of Trump’s campaign coverage under the banner of “entertainment,” I found their reasoning—“Trump’s campaign is a sideshow”—to be a little too convenient. Yes, Trump campaigns in ways that don’t read as serious, and no, I can’t envision him actually winning, but how is that different than Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann? Like Trump, each topped the polls and gained national media attention only to crash and burn.

Like many that have come before him, he’s another flash-in-the-pan candidate who is performing well in presidential polls not only because it’s early—but because he hits a nerve for (and therefore exposes truths about) American voters, especially conservatives.

Trump’s celebrity should draw suspicion, but it’s not unprecedented. Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California in a race that included Gary Coleman and a porn star. At one point, there was even talk of amending the constitution so that he could run for president. He was compared to the party’s patron saint—another thespian-turned-politician—Ronald Reagan. The GOP has no problem exploiting celebrity for political gain when convenient and the media has no problem generating clicks and ratings over a celebrity’s entrance into the world of politics.

HuffPost says they “won’t take the bait,” but what about other past GOP presidential candidates who seem more interested in building their brand for future book deals and FOX News contracts than being commander-in-chief? They took the bait then. Why not now? Even if it feels all for show, democracy allows it.

Trump’s businessman status isn’t atypical, either. Corporate executives have long equated their ability to run a business with running government. That, along with money, is why Mitt Romney was able to secure elected office and the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, how a venture capitalist like Gov. Bruce Rauner became governor of Illinois (while also believing taxpayers have no right to know who he’s meeting with on public time), and why some Republicans being polled actually believe Trump could run the country. If Trump secures the services of a billionaire—a new prerequisite in successfully running for president—his campaign may be even more viable than it already has been.

Trump may rightly be accused of bigotry, but he’s no worse than, say, homophobia’s grand slam champ Rick Santorum, who has compared gay sex to bestiality. And genuine or not, the GOP has never had a problem playing on its core base’s prejudices to win political office. So while RNC Chairman Reince Priebus may have reportedly asked Trump to “tone down” his controversial remarks about immigration—you know, referring to Mexicans as “rapists”—this is the same party that demonizes immigrants regularly. Look at Arizona’s fervent (and eventually unsuccessful) attempts at racial profiling. Look at Iowa GOP congressman Steve King, who has compared immigrants to dogs.

Or look at the wave of “birtherism” that the likes of Trump and many, many Republicans across the country aimed at President Obama for years. There was no widespread condemnation by GOP leaders. Asking Trump to “tone down” his language won’t alter the reality that the GOP is not a friend to immigrants. Or blacks. Or women. Or gays. Or trans men and women. Or the poor.

Read the rest at Talking Points Memo.

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The impact of Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” is irrefutable. When the single cover was released, it instantly went viral and spawned a series of memes that quickly spread across the Internet—one of the better contemporary examples we have to measure how impactful something is. Similarly, at a time when the music video still has to fight off the rising stigma of obsolete, the visual for “Anaconda” racked nearly 20 million views in the process—at the time smashing a VEVO record. “Anaconda” was huge both sonically and visually—further cementing what proved to be a banner year for the rapper.

Suffice to say, it ought to be relatively easy to see why Minaj was a little pissed for not netting what she felt is the honor she deserved. Regardless of how anyone feels personally about “Anaconda,” its great success negates that sentiment (as it does in most cases such as these). It was a big deal in a climate where very few things are anymore. It deserved to be nominated for Video of the Year. Maybe it should have won, maybe it should not have, but at the very least, it deserved to be a part of the conversation.

The crux of Nicki Minaj’s argument is true: Black women are highly influential in pop culture and rarely are they ever rewarded for it. 

No, awards are not everything, but the series of thoughts Nicki Minaj expressed yesterday on Twitter about a black female artist—specifically, a black female rapper—being marginalized are a continuation of frustrations Minaj has expressed throughout her career.

All too often has she been damned if she do, damned if she don’t.

When the video for “Anaconda” came out, men felt compelled to slut-shame her. Hip-hop has long been hypersexual and demeaning to women, but suddenly these men developed a conscious. So much so that they felt compelled to condemn Minaj for her choosing to take the stereotypes forced upon women who look like her and make it something all her own. Likewise, much of Minaj’s The Pinkprint promotional time was spent rightfully chiding men about their fucked up views of women in hip-hop. 

As impressive as Minaj is as a rapper, what’s most admirable about her is that she has managed to thrive despite the successful female rapper in music being a relic. She single-handedly revived that portion of hip-hop, and no, she has not gotten the credit she deserves. Some of that is her fault—a solid debut, a not-so-solid follow-up, and the best culmination of her many facets on her third offering. Even so, there are artists—notably without much melanin and/or with a penis—who still manage to get widespread celebration and acknowledgment despite having less skill than acts like Minaj.

That’s why it was frustrating watching Taylor Swift interject herself into Nicki’s moment. I don’t believe Nicki Minaj was taking any shots at Taylor Swift, but even if she felt the opposite way, the least Swift could have done is ask first before turning to lectures and victimhood. It might’ve also been a great idea for Swift to pause for a second and realize that even if she felt Nicki’s gun was aimed in her direction, she was shooting an overall disease as opposed to one of its many symptoms.

Taylor Swift essentially hit Nicki Minaj with the musical equivalent of “All Lives Matter.”

Read the rest at Complex.

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To a superficial bird, there is no greater insult than telling someone that they’re broke. So, I was not surprised that Tammy leveled that accusation at Kaleena after finding out how bad the former Diddette’s meeting with her mother-in-law, Deb Antney went. That’s exactly what she told Joseline as she proceeded to blast her Mercedes-Benz of choice.

I know what some of you are thinking: “I’ve seen your tweets, Mike. Ain’t you a member of the avian nation, too?” Yes, but I don’t have Tammy’s strain of bird flu, so there. In any event, as Tammy was escorted from the club, she told Rasheeda about Kaleena, “I already knew she was a snake bitch they day she called me and dogged you out on the phone.”

This woman is messy boots. You see, if you truly felt Kaleena was not a good friend to your friend Rasheeda, Tammy, you would’ve long told her to watch her back. This is fake. Speaking of, on calling Kaleena broke, Tammy said in her confessional, “It’s not a big deal. We all hit our rough patches.”

If it were not a big deal and you truly understood, Tammy, you wouldn’t constantly choose this brand of read to aim at folks. But okay, girl.

On the after show, Tammy claimed that we didn’t see just how disrespectful Kaleena was being towards Deb Antney. That may be the case, but I also think she was motivated by securing airtime. Either way, this was not any of her business. Also, Tammy repeatedly referred to Joseline as a man on the after show. That’s transphobic in tone and overall lazy in wit. Tammy, you’re pretty and all, but you can fall down a well all the same.

As for Rasheeda, she’s the one who apparently told Tammy about the state of Kaleena’s finances, and yet, is so-so-so mad at Kaleena for violating her trust. Rasheeda didn’t exactly deny any of this when she invited Kaleena to her studio session to discuss what went down at the club. In fact, she was absolutely obnoxious in doubling down on her hypocrisy.

This isn’t surprising, though, because as far as this show goes, Rasheeda is the worst kind of friend. She was not good to K. Michelle. She was not supportive of Karlie Redd. Now she is known to be telling Kaleena’s financial secrets but then finds herself pissed when she finds out Kaleena repeated some of her past behavior.

Rasheeda is a beautiful woman—looking like a female bae version of Superfly Jimmy Snucka. However, she has Lil’ Kim’s attitude with Rasheeda’s talent and catalog. Yeah, I heard that new Rasheeda song she played with her husband, Kirk. If this is indeed Rasheeda’s final album: Bon voyage, girl.

Read the rest at Complex.

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arceneaux-clique

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of being a part of Janet Mock’s Smart Ass Pop Culture Feminist Clique, talking Caitlyn Jenner, culture appropriation, among other topics on the latest edition of SoPOPular with Janet Mock.

Yes, I know I should have smiled in this picture. No, I don’t know why I didn’t think to smile at the time. Yes, I’ll be mindful of this in the future.

In the meantime, work on finding me Trey Songz. Pretty, pretty please.

It would be the best Christmas gift ever. Thank you.

In any event, the clips are below.

(more…)

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Nothing more powerful that HAVING a message and being clear and specific about your issue and mission and having the RIGHT press and media to support you….. Complex.com thank you for using your platform to help send the message and thank you for standing up for a genre of music that my mother introduced me too that has changed my life forever R&B Soul….. Fans and supporters know this.. Change is very uncomfortable but I for sure look forward to smelling more roses on the other side…: to God be ALL the glory he knows my HEART and more importantly he knows my intentions towards change in seeking in mainstream radio… Music has no race, music has no racial or sexual preferences if you sing R&B Soul music it should be played on ALL radio formats that play R&B soul rather it’s a white, Latin or black singer… I don’t create limits for myself so I’m for SURE not gonna let anyone create limits for me- #Shame ft Jennifer Hudson is currently #2 on a billboard in only 6 weeks…. Urban AC radio I love you for ALWAYS supporting and showing love…. But it’s time we get love on the other side..:: my album was undesired hipped cause R&B doesn’t usually sale..: my first week of sales don’t matter I came back to do an album to make a #Statement to try and save a genre called R&B #BlackRoseMission

A photo posted by TYRESE (@tyrese) on

I take no pleasure in writing the following: I completely agree with Tyrese about something. Something totally unrelated to what Tyrese is usually wrong about: gender roles, art featuring Malcolm X baptizing Tupac Shakur, relationships, and the virtues of spell check. Tyrese doesn’t get those things right, but the man who I first noticed singing on the back of the bus in a Coca-Cola commercial knows how to talk that talk about the state of R&B. 

During his appearance on the Power 105.1 morning show, The Breakfast Club, Tyrese claimed that the current climate has made many singers question themselves and their musical offerings. “Most R&B singers are not conscious of it, but a lot of us are insecure and we feel like our songs don’t get attention, don’t get no love on the radio, don’t have any fans buying it anymore unless we’ve got 15 rappers on it,” he explained. “The state of R&B is insecure…. For this Black Rose album to be No. 1 in 15 countries and it’s straight R&B, period, it’s sending the right message.”

Indeed, Tyrese is projected to move in excess of 70,000 copies of his latest album to top the Billboard 200. Those are not blockbuster figures as opposed to say, Taylor Swift, but very few artists of any genre are able to move hundreds of thousands of albums (or in her case, a million) anymore. Tyrese’s sales are on par with the 76,000 he moved in the first week for his 2011 offering, Open Invitation

By contrast, Miguel’s Wildheart sold 41,000 in its first week, and another recent R&B release, Tamia’s Love Life, sold 16,000. However, both those albums still secured No. 1 debuts on the R&B/Hip-Hop album charts. By today’s standard, these numbers are par for the course—which makes Tyrese’s sales figure a testament to his loyal fan base, and yes, a love of R&B in its purist form.

However, each of these acts have enjoyed noted success on the radio, so in theory, their projects should feel bigger than they appear on paper. Part of that is the very reason why R&B singers flock to rappers to appear on their singles—often with 90 seconds or so of unrelated babble that serves no other purpose than trying to ride their wave for airplay.

Some, like Tamia, have stayed true to themselves, though that can make things harder.

When asked by Billboard how R&B has changed over the course of her career, the 20-year veteran noted, “First off, R&B doesn’t get as much support as a lot of other genres. I do believe there’s a lot of great R&B out there. If we’re speaking mainstream, it doesn’t get the platform that other genres do, and it is a shame.”

I recently wrote about the marginalization of black R&B singers on radio and how even the likes of Beyoncé are not immune to it. Similarly, I’ve commented on how much easier it is for white singers to do black music. It’s a sentiment Tyrese shares.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Unless you’re a perfect specimen (spoiler alert: you’re not) chances are your respective bae score fluctuates based on diet, exercise, alcohol levels, or plastic surgeon. We’ve all been there, and there’s no better source to inspire and/or depress us into stepping our cookies up than Instagram. As of late, most of my thirst has been directed in the direction of Drake.

For many of you out there, Drake was already a lusty figure in your life. Yeah, I was never completely there. Sure, he was cute from certain angles – when his face is tilted to the right to be specific – and if you’re into obsessing over Aaliyah, then certainly I can see the appeal. I did enjoy his guest hosting duties on Saturday Night Live last fall because I noticed he has great legs, but I never wanted to toss my draws his way the in the intensity that others desired to.

Now I am a changed man.

I used to say Drake looked like Captain Caveman. Before you ask, I look like Dale from Chip and Dale’s Rescue Rangers. I’ve also been told that I resemble Buster Bunny from Tiny Toon Adventures because you know, big ass teeth. So there. I’m playing fair.

Like Captain Caveman, Drake looked like there was some morsel of cuteness there, but he wasn’t putting in the extra work to drive it home.

In the last few weeks and months, something is noticeably different about Aubrey Graham. For starters, that stomach of his is so flat and tight. His arms are so big. And his chest: I’d like to give every God the glory for it.

Read the rest at VH1.

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There have been times where I am alone in my home clutching a glass of wine and contemplating when my life will resemble one long loop of Toni’s Braxton’s Find Me A Man or one of the many other celebratory R&B tracks about finding true love that I enjoy. And sure, there are moments where the thought of boo-less life makes me feel as bitter as a post-breakup Rob Kardashian Twitter tirade.

However, I have the good damn sense not to ever reveal these thoughts on social media – and certainly not at length. Yet I increasingly see folks I know whine about their single status online. It is by far one of the most obnoxious traits of social media users, which says a lot, given there are so many varying ways to come across as a terrible person on the internet.

People are free to express themselves as ever they see fit, of course. As a wise pop star once sang: “Express yourself, don’t repress yourself.” If you are guilty of complaining about being single on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapcat, Vine and every other social media app invented, ask yourself this very important question: is my complaining going to make me any less single?

Have you ever seen someone ranting and raving about not having a boyfriend or girlfriend and said: “I’m so turned on by this display of bitterness” Or: “Oh, baby. Your lack of self-awareness touches my soul. Let me take you out to dinner and find out exactly why no one wants you.”

If you answered yes, you just told me a lie. Stop it. Stop it right now.

The answer is no with a hell in front of it because it’s not hot to have a personality that mirrors that taste of grapefruit.

Admittedly, I have trashed men on Twitter before for reasons that include not being able to speak in complete sentences without pausing for a water break, being a sexist jerk, or making you regret not having the power of teleportation. In my defense, I blast awful people all the time. It’s just a fun little hobby of mine.

But you’ll never catch me lamenting at length about how upset I am that Trey Songz, Frank Ocean, Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Williams or Michael B Jordan have failed not only to propose marriage, but even take me on a date. Nor do I talk about how, since moving to New York City, I’ve had so-so experiences with dating in the city.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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VH1 decided to air Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta a day earlier than usual for no other reason than to goad the show’s millions of viewers into watching the season premiere of its fledgling franchise, Basketball Wives: L.A. It worked, but it’s still disrespectful. Oh well.

The episode kicked off with Rasheeda once again making an ass out of herself. With Erica playing the Robin to her Batman, Rasheeda banged on the hotel door expecting to catch Ashley in bed with her husband, Kirk. What actually happened was Ashley opened the door, Rasheeda proceeded to talk a bunch of shit only to realize that Ashley was in the room with her girlfriend. Yes, Ashley Nicole is a lesbian and Rasheeda is a woman who really needs to assess her marriage and her purpose in life.

Even when she was in the wrong, Rasheeda wouldn’t immediately apologize, opting instead to focus on Ashley Nicole’s past bad behavior. As in, telling her she assumed the worst “because you act like a THOT.” Girl, your husband acts like a THOT.

Rasheeda is gorgeous, but she’s got to get the fuck on. Ultimately, she did acknowledge to Ashley Nicole that maybe, just maybe, she should not have stormed in her room and caused a scene. In turn, Ashley Nicole apologized for being disrespectful in past settings and then revealed that her mother committed suicide years ago—partially why she has a distrust of women. After that sharing that, told Rasheeda, “I’d like to look up to you.”

Yeah, just like that. I don’t get the phrasing either, but bless her heart. She’s trying. I don’t see that newfound respect showing up at the reunion, but let’s see how it rides out in the meantime.

Keeping with the theme of getting yourself together before it’s too late, let’s talk Kaleena. Now, I’ve been stressing how talented Kaleena is since last season. So, I was happy to see that she reached out to Deb Antney for management. Well, that won’t be a thing because Kaleena showed every inch of her ass at the meeting.

Kaleena is well within her right to believe in her talent and to want to know what her manager has accomplished recently. That said, Kaleena walked into Deb Antney’s offices as if she were Beyoncé with Rihanna’s long list of No. 1 singles, Ciara’s limberness, and Nicki Minaj’s everything. You can’t go to a manager, boohooing about your husband not believing in your talent right now only to then say that same husband doesn’t believe the person you came to can do anything. Kaleena was disrespectful, so I don’t blame Deb for directing her to the exit while wishing the best in her future endeavors.

However, Deb did get her together with one quick note: “My bills are paid.”

By the way, Deb played an integral part in the careers of Gucci Mane, Waka Flocka Flame, Nicki Minaj, and French Montana. She doesn’t need to be checked like that from a member of Diddy and the Diddettes.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Lil’ Kim is many things. She is an incredible rapper. She is a pioneer. She is a legend. She is a visionary. She is an amazing colored wig collector. She is the proud owner of a rabid core group of fans who will threaten to slaughter you on social media (true story). She is an inspiration to many of your favorite female rappers of today. Insert your shade here. There’s plenty to go around.

Of the many honors Kimberly Jones has earned, my favorite would be her place as one of the most sexually liberated recording artists in history. Kim’s catalog is full of sexually explicit content, but arguably her best is “Big Momma Thang” from her debut album, Hardcore.

The song, which will turn 20 next year along with the rest of the album, kicks off its first with the declaration, “I used to be scared of the dick, now I throw lips to the shit.”

I was 12 when this song came out, and I remember having to secure the album by way of Columbia House’s mail-order music club. For those of you too young to remember what the hell a CD player is, back in my day, we typically had to leave our homes, go to a magical place called a record store and purchase an album in physical form. However, some hating ass folks – let’s call them parents, in this instance – didn’t want their children buying “adult material.” So, scheming kids such as myself got around that by way of the aforementioned mail-order music club.

I had already obsessed over the now infamous Hardcore promo poster which featured Lil’ Kim spread-eagle in a pose a friend of mine branded “THE THOT WAR POSE.” We both mean this as a compliment, by the way. That poster piqued my interest, but some of that was forced. Lil’ Kim was the talk of every damn man around me, regardless of age, and much of my thoughts were centered on being jealous of not being invited to dance with Kim on the escalator in the “No Time” video as opposed to what filled out her leopard bikini.

So when Hardcore arrived and “Big Momma Thang” came on, I was both enticed and mortified. Her boldness was intriguing, but her line about being afraid of the dick hit a little too close to home. As my hormones started to speed up, so did the reality that my math was essentially one plus one equal homosexual. Once I became older (or age appropriate to listen, blah, blah), my appreciation for the line, the song, and what Kim has rapped about in her career intensified.

Read the rest at VH1.

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It’s easy to understand why Syd tha Kid, front woman of the increasingly impressive duo turned collective The Internet, has been reluctant to embrace the tag of “gay icon.” For many a gay creative, there is an urge to be exactly who you are but weariness over letting that define you in totality. Recalling a past profile that focused on her sexuality than the band’s debut album, Purple Naked Ladies, Syd expressed her frustration to Time, explaining, “I’m totally supportive of the movement, obviously. But I want people to love me for my music.”

However, while much of The Internet’s excellent third album, Ego Death, spans varying influences – soul, funk, jazz, rock, and hip hop – there is one constant: Syd’s syrupy albeit noticeably stronger vocals singing about love and lust for another woman. Ego Death kicks off with, “Now she wanna f**k me” as Syd goes on to lament on being at the crossroads of newfound success and the lingering problems that came before its arrival. The album is so much more than that line, though.

This is a woman singing about love and sex in all its variances – about another woman.

It is not her Odd Future cohort Frank Ocean singing about love for another man only to later deflect in interviews about how he chooses to identify himself. Ocean’s revelation still matters, but to a point given there is a lingering obscurity. And while Azealia Banks has also unabashedly professed about her desires for other women, she told the New York Times in 2012, “I’m not trying to be, like, the bisexual, lesbian rapper. I don’t live on other people’s terms.”

Fair point, though one could argue when only expressing bisexuality solely within context of sex, it’s easier to be embraced – especially when it’s coming from a more “feminine” in appearance woman as it’s imagery that plays right into pop culture’s longstanding obsession with female bisexuality. We have seen this repeatedly through the years, though the most famous recent incarnation of this was Nicki Minaj, the fake bisexual years. Nicki knew the lyrics would be considered titillating and attention grabbing. She was never truly about that girl-on-girl life, though.

Syd tha Kid is a lesbian who is more tomboyish in her appearance and delivery and sings gorgeously about her love of women. In a band full of men and an album featuring other male rappers. It should not be a big deal, but just because something should not be a big deal doesn’t diminish that it is.

Marriage equality is now a reality nationwide, but that is an image of gay that is heteronormative, and ultimately, family-based. It’s lovely and romantic, but not necessarily sexual. Here, we see gay life depicted as complex and messy as straight people – on relatively soulful body of work.

I’ve seen others call this “unremarkable” or try to play down its importance – perhaps because it shouldn’t be. But again, it is. I am old enough to remember whispers about Black male R&B singers and Black female rappers who were thought to be gay, but performed straightness (often poorly). I can recall artists like Janet Jackson singing lyrics that called on gay people to be treated with basic human decency. Me’shell Ndegeocello had a pop hit with “If That’s Your Boyfriend (He Wasn’t Last Night)” in the early 1990s and hit urban radio again with “Fool of Me” from Love and Basketball, but she never had a major mainstream presence. The majority of the musical expressions same-gender love and lust from women that I’ve heard in my life up until very, very recently played to the male ego and fantasy.

Ego Death is different, and yes, worthy of recognition.

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