Okay, I will admit to laughing like hell when I saw this shot of Tyler Perry and the new Academy Award-winning actress, Lupita N’yongo. I’ll also be completely honest and own the fact that I thought the same thing. Nonetheless, I only found the image comical and not a call to arms.

Sure, there is a possibility that Perry may send Lupita’s agent a script that centers on a downtrodden single mother on welfare and Popeye’s two-piece dark meat Tuesday specials ‘cause her deadbeat baby daddy – played by Tyson Beckford – ain’t worth a good damn and it’s only when one of Mary Jane Paul’s boyfriends swoops in with a Bible and a blue collar that she gets to exhale, shoop-shoop. But damn, can we not fixate on that right now? History was just made on Sunday, so why not just rock our hips, then wave and sip in the glory?

I know that in the age of social media, an opinion waits for no man, but I just don’t believe Al Gore invented the Internet for some of your cousins to constantly run amuck over the most inconsequential, completely innocent photo. Why, I do declare that we were lied to, y’all: A picture isn’t always worth a thousand words.

The same goes for your tweets, your Instagram word memes, and your essay-length Facebook status updates.

Seriously, why can’t some of us ever chill?

Even before this photo made its way to the web, I saw a few messages along the lines of:

“What about Kimberly Reece? We let Jasmine Guy still appear on WeTV, but where is the good doctor? That ain’t right!”

I don’t know where she is, but I know I hate tit for tats and false equivalences.


Well, most of us were saying on Oscar night that year, “We love your natural, it looks better than those wigs, sis. We love how built you are. We want you to win even if this sanitized story about segregation makes us want to stab our eyes out with a Black Power Fist Afro Pick.”

Remember, kids: Just because you can’t recall something not happening (given you not bothering to pay attention at the time, usually) doesn’t mean that it didn’t. And do we really need to compare N’yongo to every other dark-skinned actress in Hollywood? Is that really a debate you want to have?

Read the rest at EBONY

The Smoker’s Room

You’re a special kind of singer if you can make getting high sound even sweeter than a kiss on the collarbone. Actually, a weed rice krispie treat from a dispensary or a well-made chocolate chip cookie with a green bonus can do the same thing, but it’s less melodic, and thus, less fun. Oh: All of this falls under “allegedly,” FYI. Whatever. I’ve been meaning to talk about Candi Kush’s mixtape, Live From The Smoker’s Room, for a while now. I kept putting it off, but today I found myself obsessively listening to “Smoker’s Room,” the first track off the project all day. For some reason or several, I got a little sentimental about the track.

I curse a lot and can be a bit cold hearted at times, but I’m somewhat of a hopeless romantic deep down. Like, a Pharrell who grew up in a house full of Yeezus and Chris Brown rage. There are certain kinds of songs that always make me feel a ways no matter the amount of resistance I put up. Think Nicole Wray’s “I’m Lookin’,” Gina Thompson’s “Things That U Do,” D’Angelo’s “When We Get By,” or Teedra Moses’ “Be Your Girl. I could go on – SWV’s “Someone,” Amerie’s “Why Don’t We Fall In Love,” Chaka Khan’s “I Know You, I Live You,” and Aretha Franklin’s “Call Me” (the live version from the Fillmore album) – but you get it.

As lovely as a great R&B sex song is or even a song detailing a deep love, there’s something irresistible to me about a song about that initial courtship and/or the promise of one. I don’t like a lot of people in that way, but when I do, there’s something so great about that feeling — no matter how it turns out. Oh, who am I kidding? It sucks like shit when it doesn’t work out. Fuck him, girl, etc. etc.

Candi Kush has a gorgeous voice. Her mixtape and “Smoker’s Room” specifically give me little teases of Teedra Moses. Candi’s her own act, though, and I hope some label hurries up and signs her so she more people can surf in all of this good good.

Now, back to the part about me getting all Ralph Tresvant about the track. Picture it: New York City, March 3, 2014. It’s cold as hell. I’m tired and don’t want to go to the gym, but summer is going and is my 30th birthday and Mikey Mike gotta get snatched. So I go, but I leave “Smoker’s Room” on repeat. I get on the stairmaster as the hurly burlies have snatched up all of the weights (Sidenote: ohmigod, why do I always go to the gym at the time everyone and their mama just got off work, ugh). And dammit, feelings.

Read the following in the key of Beyoncé:

I’ve been Draking, I’ve been Draking. I get so simpy all of these feelings get up in me. I get to thinking, get to thinking. Why can’t my inner Pimp C step in and save me, baby?

I’m in this gym like, “Nigga, are you about to cry?” The fuck is wrong with you? Who does that? Not I, or at least, not very often. Is Mercury in Retroactive radio waves or whatever the hell y’all be talking about every so often on the Twitter? Between being overworked, the usual “Bitch, where is my money?” writer struggles, and dealing with the reality that the person who gave me life may regret that based on the direction my dick swings, I’ve been a pile of emotions lately for varying reasons.

I initially thought that was why this song got to me in that way, but I know better. Sure, I’m teetering towards a Vivian Green hit single, but I know that ultimately a song like this reminds me of a void in my life.

This song also reminds me of situation vaguely similar that happened a week ago. Wait, allegedly occurred. I won an award for my D.A.R.E. speech in 5th grade, so drugs – even the ones that need to be legalized already ’cause this is some ole bullshit – are bad or something.

In any event, it was a good time until the very end — when my hopes got into a knife fight and only brought a dull no. 3 pencil. Such is life. What will be will be, but bottom line, this song resonates with me even more. I want like to be loved. Wait, no. I’ve been loved before. I’d like to be loved without shame or unnecessary complications.

I don’t have that, but a song like this reminds me that it’s possible. Maybe songs about two people smoke weed won’t elicit the same feelings in you, but I’m the type of dude that wants to go on a date at the shooting range. So there you go.

Okay, I’m tired of this. We’re done now. I’m putting my feels put in the freezer. Nothing more to see here. Gon’ nah. Get.

[Sway In The Morning] Michael Arceneaux Says “Don’t F**k With The BeyHive”

Look: I’m practicing talking slower in an effort not to sound like Speedy Gonzaleaux, man of a 1001 voice levels depending on delivery.

Complex: You’re My Friend, But I Hate You Online

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.


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.

Let Mýa Make It

Although she doesn’t want or need my pity, I am often sorry for Mýa. A few of my friends will say “fret not for Mýa, for she is the Beyoncé of Japan or the Rihanna of Taiwan,” but we all know that’s not true. Beyoncé and Rihanna are the Beyoncé and Rihanna of everywhere in this solar system. Okay, Japan does seem to provide safe haven for Black artists of the 1990s, but Mýa should still be a thing stateside.

She’s pretty with a great body, can actually sing, is a trained dancer, writes, has made her own beats, and had legitimate hits. See “It’s All About Me,” “Best Of Me,” “Case of The Ex,” “My Love Is Like…Wo,” plus the “Lady Marmalade” remake and whatever that lil’ Rugrats soundtrack song was called. Wait, it was called “Take Me There.” Yeah, I never really liked that song, but I know it was hit. Whatever, you get it. The girl wasn’t like…Christina Milian, who only had a single hit and a half to her name (and Ja Rule’s).

And yet, we don’t even give Mýa Paula Abdul-levels of adoration. Hell, does she even get Pebbles or Jody Watley-like celebration? The Moodring was too good an album for Mýa to be ignored this way. Then again, it did come out the same summer as Dangerously In Love, Chapter II, and After The Storm. I’d include Mary J. Blige’s Love & Life album, but y’all hated that. So while Moodring went gold, it was overshadowed.

Story of Mýa’s life. Poor girl. See, there I go again. I can’t help it.

I’ve always wondered what exactly happened with Mýa. She didn’t have the sort of big personality that propelled many of her peers. And she clearly didn’t hire a publicist who could find a way around it. The only thing I ever heard about Mýa on a personal level came from Wendy Williams — and I’m not repeating any of that here.

Or maybe her application for the Illuminati was thrown in the shredder by a hater. I don’t know, but she had a nice little run (that still seemed overlooked at the time) and then she went to Tokyo and America went, “Sayounara, sis.”

That said, Mýa hasn’t exactly done herself favors over the years. When she wasn’t creating R&B for Japanese Disney Radio, she was recording birthday dance tracks that sounded like it was made primarily for Club Seventh Circle, hosted by your least favorite party promoter and the Towanda Braxton to the Jesus’ Tamar, Satan. Finally, her music has returned to something reminiscent of what made me like her ass to begin with.

With Love reminds me of Moodring, only it’s a slightly older and more mature cousin. I enjoyed it so much that I gave Mýa my $3.96 on iTunes for the EP. From my understanding, she wants to remain on the independent route. Mýa wants the control and lion’s share of whatever amount of albums she makes. Such is her right. That’ll make it harder for her to gain back even a fraction of the success she used to have, but what does it matter if the coin isn’t correct?

One thing is for sure, though: If she creates music more like this, she’ll continue to get my (monetary) support. I would also like to hear more songs like the unreleased track “Backseat,” produced by Pharrell. I wish Pharrell would go find her and help her out. The girl’s still got it. Do you all remember Janet’s ICON special? Mýa deserves another chance.

Hell, she deserves one of the many chances we kept giving to Ciara (in vain). Give the EP listen. Give Mýa’s new EP a chance, y’all. Good luck, girl.

Hello Beautiful: What Does It Mean To Be Black & Gay In Hollywood?

On Friday, I participated in a Google Plus chat with Hello Beautiful about being Black and gay in Hollywood. This would include whether or not Black folks pressure Black gays to come out, if they are obligated to for the sake of the representation and awareness, and also my least favorite riddle: Did this gay somebody come out for the sake of a come up? It was a fun chat albeit a bit of a sausage fest. Scheduling issues and shit. Still, a very nice chat worth checking out if you so desire.

I normally don’t go back and watch or listen to any media appearance I do. I’m learning to break that habit for the sake of improvement. Ugh. Mariah Carey is my kindred spirit because like her, I know I am all about a good angle. And like her, I know the wrong angle will have me looking all the way fucked up.

Full disclosure: I had braces as a kid, but listen, I broke my retainer. My stupid ass took out my retainer in a rush to open a fucking VHS tape I bought at the Walmart. A wrestling tape at that. Not even WWF. It was like Starrcade 1993 from WCW. In other words, some total bullshit. Yes, I totally realize how nasty it was.

In any event, I broke the shit and my mama was like, “I am not spending $100 to get another one. So.” I mean, she spent a smooth few thousand or something on my braces and we ain’t have money like that, so I get it. Then my wisdom teeth came in and shook the table of my fucking mouth.

All I could do while watching this was think, “Oh, bitch. I gotta get my Invisalign fund going.” I mean, I don’t have like J. Cole mouth. No shade. Still, it’s really just two teeth messing up the service — kind of like LeToya and LaTavia before they got the boot. But, it’s alright. It’s coming, and again, with the right angle, it doesn’t look so bad. 

At least my skin looked good, though. Thank you, painful ass laser hair removal treatments.

Why am I saying all of this in this space? Hell, I don’t know. To humanize thine ass or something. However, this is the part where I now go sing “Flaws and All” to myself. Okay, I’m lying. I’m about to go look in the mirror and say, “Still look pretty!” like Kimbella of Love & Hip Hop: New York, season two.
Sharing time is officially over now, though. Enjoy.

Oh, Mariah

At one point do you look in the mirror and say, “I’m too old damn for this bullshit?” I will always and forever cherish Mariah Carey. I love this woman the way she loves all things prepubescent; the way Hoda and Kathie Lee love wine o’clock; the way Rick Ross loves a good tall tale (insert aggressive grunt here). As a matter of fact, I am singing “Honey” aka a legendary ditty about going down while writing this. My dedication to Mimi is unwavering, but I did look at this pictures and feel a little sad.

I know, I know. Mariah is who she is. I get it. Still, girl, what? Leave it to Mariah Carey to challenge the limits of my progressivism.

Why does she look like the old whore of Candyland?

I’m all for a woman of a certain age owning her sexuality. Mariah is getting older, but that doesn’t mean “that pussy old, that pussy creaky.” Yet, here I sit stumped. Mimi, a bra made out of Valentine’s Day candy? I mean, that’s probably fun for a horny diabetic ready for a night of sex themed around “titties and treats,” though I’m not sure this should’ve made its way to the ‘gram.

Like, when is someone going to say, “Mariah, you’re not Blanche Devereaux yet, but you’re about two or three birthdays away from Samantha Jones territory. Maybe it’s time to stop dressing like a tween gon’ wild?”

I guess not anytime soon. What is the theme of this video? Tinkerbell’s sex dreams? Oh, Mariah. That said, I do like her new single “We Still Belong Together On The Top Of The Charts” “You’re Mine (Eternally).”

I also absolutely adore her in this interview with “The Breakfast Club.” She is so ridiculous and it’s always pleasant in radio interviews.

Not so much select visuals. I suppose you have to take the good with the bad. Why do I get the feeling she’ll be swimming in a pool full of Sweet Tarts in her 50s? Wait, why am I even acting surprised by any of this? Mariah Carey is a part crooner, part cashew. I would love it if someone would reel it in, but that’s like mission improbable.

Lamb forever, but…oh, fuck it.

Clutch: No Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke Aren’t Making Better R&B than Blacks

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.

EBONY: [THE WEEKLY READ] Dear ‘Housewives’- Gay Men Aren’t Purses

For a show that likes to parade itself as gay friendly, this entire season of The Real Housewives of Atlanta has been an exhaustive exercise in casual homophobia. Of course, the minute you throw out a term like “homophobia,” the guilty parties will be quick to shout, “I’m not homophobic! I have plenty of gay friends.” But, homophobia, like any prejudice, has levels to the s*it.

In the same way that racism isn’t solely determined by whether or not one hangs up nooses, shouts “Sieg heil!” in secret, or dons Blackface, one doesn’t have to call a gay person a faggot to know that not-so-deep down, there’s some level of intolerance inside of you. One thing that’s been clear about this show all season long is that in terms of weaponry, one’s sexual orientation is just another easy tool to pull out when trying to inflict pain.

See Porsha Stewart Williams, who now suddenly wants to hurt her ex-husband, Kordell Stewart, by fueling the gay rumors that have apparently followed him for several years now. Unfortunately, she forgets that we all have eyes and ears, and thus, saw her working hard to keep her marriage alive despite these newfound fears she conveniently developed right in time for the season to begin filming. Funny what feelings rejection will bring out.

Now if such a gay friendly show has no issue with gay men, why was this idea of Kordell being gay (he denies it), such an easy way to question his manhood several times over?

I suppose I’ll pose that question to Porsha’s reality TV show friend and fake new neighbor, NeNe Leakes, who decided to disparage Kenya Moore’s friend Brandon as “queen” and “girl.” First of all, if we’re talking about a person with courage, it is not Christopher Williams towering over a woman in confrontation; it is Brandon, who got up in defense of his friend. But I suppose because Brandon has a little lightness to his voice and a preference for penis that he might as well be a woman.

Who am I kidding, though? NeNe is no stranger to faking jacks herself.  On this same episode she tells Kenya Moore that “you lucky you ain’t got yo’ ass kicked.” Remember when NeNe had that domestic violence charity? (Insert Dwight Ebanks’ sinister laugh here.)

What’s most grating about NeNe’s contempt for queens, though, is the fact that she along with some of the other cast members, owe so much of their success to biting the ever-living hell out of gay Black men, and in particular, those “queens” NeNe speaks so sorely about. On another cringe-worthy episode of The Real Housewives of Atlanta that aired in December, Cynthia Bailey tries to explain the concepts of “shade” and “reading” to would be new show regular, Mynique. Cynthia asks, “Do you have any gay friends? Like gay guy friends, like queens or anything. That’s good ‘cause you gonna need those.”

The show’s usage of gay Black men as accessories has always been an annoyance, but season six has taken many to a new level of frustration with the outright expression of disdain for gay men when seeking retaliation.

Sadly it’s not just select stars from The Real Housewives of Atlanta that’s guilty of biting gay men for a come up and then condemning them. Everything about Tamar Braxton minus those “dot coms” can be traced to some Black person who’s been serving on the stoop of the big gay rainbow. And yet, on the first season of Tamar & Vince, when she had a disagreement with a gay magazine editor, what did she do? Make fun of his lisp, naturally. More, during the test run of The Real, she spoke of her disdain of dressing up little boys as “girls” – on more than one occasion.

Yeah, a purple onesie on a baby boy doesn’t mean he’s going to grow up to want a Quanell over a Quisha, and even if he did, if you have no problem building the popularity that gave you a second chance of a music career off the mores of effeminate men, why so worried when it looked to be all good a week ago during the taping schedule.

Read the rest at EBONY.