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Don Lemon wasted his breath when he told Joan Tarshis, a woman claiming she was raped by Bill Cosby when she was 19, “I don’t mean to be crude, but…” as he went on to be not only crude, but repulsive and pathetically ignorant to a woman speaking on her alleged victimization.

On the November 18 edition of CNN’s CNN Tonight, Lemon had a follow up interview with Tarshis in which he questioned whether she was really forced to perform fellatio on Cosby.

Don Lemon did so as only Don Lemon knows how to: in the most vapid, cringe-worthy fashion imaginable:

LEMON: Can I ask you this, because — and please, I don’t mean to be crude, OK?

TARSHIS: Yeah.

LEMON: Because I know some of you — and you said this last night, that he — you lied to him and said “I have an infection, and if you rape me, or if you do — if you have intercourse with me, then you will probably get it and give it to your wife.”

TARSHIS: Right.

LEMON: And you said he made you perform oral sex.

TARSHIS: Right.

LEMON: You — you know, there are ways not to perform oral sex if you didn’t want to do it.

TARSHIS: Oh. Um, I was kind of stoned at the time, and quite honestly, that didn’t even enter my mind. Now I wish it would have.

LEMON: Right. Meaning the using of the teeth, right?

TARSHIS: Yes, that’s what I’m thinking you’re –

LEMON: As a weapon.

TARSHIS: Yeah, I didn’t even think of it.

LEMON: Biting. So, um –

TARSHIS: Ouch.

LEMON: Yes. I had to ask. I mean, it is, yeah.

TARSHIS: Yes. No, it didn’t cross my mind.

First it was pull up your pants and pick up the trash on the sidewalk to stop white supremacy, now Lemon is suggesting women use their teeth as a tool for rape prevention. Never mind the reality that there are plenty of men currently rotting in prison for forcing women to perform oral sex on them. Or that the man at the source of these allegations likely weighs somewhere between 50-100 pounds more than the alleged victim(s) and that he used to play football in college.

Regardless of whether or not Lemon believes Tarshis’ account, there is a certain of respect one ought to pay anyone who steps forward about being sexually assaulted. Considering Don Lemon himself is a survivor of sexual abuse, one would imagine he of all people might understand this. However, as we’ve all come to learn, the star of Don Lemon has risen dramatically in recent years due to him beinginconsiderate of other people and of victims’ circumstances.

This approach maybe be good for his public profile, and perhaps, CNN’s bottom line, but it comes at a cost. Don Lemon has trivialized the serious topic of race and now he’s set his sights on rape. No one working at a major cable news network should be rewarded for consistently being so utterly stupid and irresponsible.

In response to the criticism, on Wednesday, Lemon took 14 seconds to say the following:

“As I am a victim myself, I would never want to suggest that any victim could have prevented a rape. If my question to her struck anyone as offensive, I am sorry, as that certainly was not my intention.”

This one of those obnoxious apologies that doesn’t acknowledge the fact that intent does not outweigh impact. Moreover, it’s senseless to say “if my question was offensive” when there is no if about it, otherwise you wouldn’t be on air trying to save face and your job.

There are some anchors who are capable of analyzing the news, despite the fact that they are normally just reciting it to viewers. Lemon is not one of those people, as his opinions – especially in this instance – are not informed ones.

Don Lemon is too simple-minded for serious subject matter and too poisonous a voice for the platform he presently holds. CNN: Put him back on script or send him back to the field.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

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Much of last night’s episode of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood was about choices, and in particular, a PSA to the audience on learning to stop making the wrong choices. For starters, if you allowed Soulja Boy to plant a seed in your uterus, you obviously don’t love your uterus as much you should. Similarly, if you’re constantly engaging in displays of public embarrassment over Yung Berg, you might want to go off and pursue an Amber Alert for your self-worth.

However, let’s start with Omarion, the most sensible cast member on this show. Starting directly where we left off, we greet Omarion, Apryl, and Omarion’s mama Leslie joyfully celebrating the birth of Omarion and Apryl’s first child. As Omarion put it, “I named him Mega because that’s exactly what this is: It’s mega.” It would have made more sense if he said, “I named my kid Mega ’cause while I used to love Sega Genesis, I didn’t want to be too-too obvious.”

Whatever, Omarion is rightfully elated so let’s just allow him to keep rocking.

Meanwhile, Apryl is focused on being a new mommy, but cannot shake the longstanding issues she has with her own mom. So she finally confronts her to underwhelming results. I’m merely speculating here, but from the looks of it, Apryl’s mama used to be a 1990s Halle Berry character, so it may be extremely difficult for her to give her the real on why she sent her to live with her grandmother. It’s painful for (presumed) addicts to be completely frank about their past; their children may never be as ready to hear the complete truth no matter how much they protest to hear it. If nothing else, at least Omarion’s mama is finally giving Apryl room to breathe.

I assume Omarion made sure Leslie continued to have her hair done, nails done, everything did for the sake of keeping the peace.

Speaking of parenthood, Nia revealed to Morgan that she is pregnant. Soulja Boy is the father, only as past episodes have shown, they’re not exactly in the best space. Nia is unsure about the pregnancy as a result of this, and when she finally does try to tell Soulja Boy that she is carrying his baby, he blows her off. Sadly, Nia miscarries and has to deal with the loss on her own.

Side note: Soulja Boy often seems less than sober in most of his scenes. I’m tempted to ask my mama if she can dig up the speech I wrote for D.A.R.E. back in fourth grade. Don’t worry, weed heads: I’m not including marijuana.

While she’s allegedly never high on the show, Masika must be on something to think she’s about to be the Maleficent of R&B. Now in the lap of Yung Berg, we caught a glimpse of Masika singing in the studio. No lie: The song sounded decent, but Masika’s singing voice gives Teairra Mari, first thing in the morning.

That doesn’t necessarily matter because if the beat is hot, this bird will bop, but songbird she’s not.

Anyhow, after telling Berg about the confrontation she had with Hazel E, Berg not only gives Masika the track he originally intended for Hazel, but invited Hazel to his all-white party for the sole sake of seeing Masika perform the new incarnation of the track. Hazel E comes with Ray J and offers a big “fuck you” to the dress code—showing up in all black. To be fair to Hazel, Berg, and Masika are intentionally provoking her, and she was pushed to react by Ray J.

However, Hazel is still out of her mind. This woman decided to randomly start performing her rendition of the Berg track as Masika’s version plays. I was so embarrassed for her, and that says a lot because most of us regular reality TV watchers are totally desensitized. Hazel, no man is worth this level of debasement, especially not one who can’t ride all of the best roller coasters at Six Flags and allegedly punches you when you pay for the bill his credit card when he is unable to.

As the back and forth between Hazel and Masika goes on, Teairra Mari decides to jump in a la Hazel E ’bout a week ago. Then came that random club promoter Sincere, who talks slick to Teairra. Will they learn not to try Detroit?

At one point, Teairra Mari screamed, “SINCE YOU WANT TO TURN UP FOR NO MOTHERFUCKING REASON THEN TURN UP. TURN UP, MOTHERFUCKER.”

Teairra Mari is the star of this show. I truly hope she manages to resurrect her singing career because she could become the Crime Mob of R&B and fulfill the promise of Brooke Valentine’s one hit. I love, Tee-Tee!

Read the rest at Complex.

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Lifetime’s interpretation of the life of the late R&B singer Aaliyah was as much a tribute to her legacy as a drunk, hoarse person’s impromptu cover of “Rock the Boat” at a karaoke bar is.

Aaliyah: Princess of R&B is that bad and for numerous reasons. For starters, there are times when you don’t necessarily need a family’s involvement in a biopic to make it quality; however, when you’re making a movie depicting the life of an iconic singer, it is imperative that you have the rights to said singer’s music. The family owns said rights, they were unwilling to share, and the movie suffers heavily as a result.

The only songs the production team could secure are ones like “Journey to the Past,” which yes, Aaliyah performed at the 1998 Academy Awards but is not exactly among the first 10 songs she is best known for.  The same goes for her cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up”—a track from One in a Million that did lead to a music video, though not one that anyone outside of her core fans ever cares to revisit. If they were this hard up for Aaliyah music, I would’ve advised producers to go even deeper into the crates and go beg for “Are You Ready?” from the Sunset Park soundtrack.

There were at least two songs used that we knew. Diane Warren did accept Lifetime’s check to use “The One I Gave My Heart To,” and the film did make note of Aaliyah’s brilliant rendition of “At Your Best (You Are Love).”

Unfortunately, Alexandra Shipp, who was selected to play Aaliyah after Zendaya Coleman smartly bowed out of the project, was the person whose voice we heard as opposed to the singer whose life was being chronicled (poorly). Shipp’s take on Aaliyah’s works are subpar. She simply lacks the spark of Aaliyah’s sweet soprano. But that is not a shot at Shipp; she should not have been placed in the position to sing those songs. Now with respect to Shipp’s dancing, which was also not reminiscent of Aaliyah, she probably didn’t have enough time for dance rehearsal given so much of this movie feels rushed.

Shipp is actually not the worst of the casting, though. Who made the choice to make Timbaland Gluten Free, and Missy Elliott thinner and lighter than she’s ever been? Even so, there’s some reward in making R. Kelly look more like Aaron Hall given how much of Hall’s style Kelly heavily borrowed from.

Still, the casting is bad, and the script, messy and choppy.

There are parts of this story that simply don’t match the actual trajectory of the career. There were many moments where I kept thinking aloud “If this is supposed to be in year 1996, why are we watching things that actually happened in 1998?” By the way, are we supposed to believe that after Aaliyah’s marriage to R. Kelly was annulled, she mopped around for five years later waiting for…Damon Dash?

So we’re going to gloss over the fact that she was linked to other men like Jay Z? This only reminds us that the problem with trying to make a movie about Aaliyah’s life no matter the medium—basic cable or a proposed feature film—is that not everyone wants to be completely frank about the course of her life.

Read the rest at Complex.

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As reckless as she’s been in recent years, AzealiaBanks is well aware of the ramifications of her headline-grabbing antics. In an interview with BBC One’s Zane Lowe about the surprise release of her long-delayed debut album, Broke With Expensive Taste, Banks was asked if she ever doubted whether she would fail to deliver an album. Always candid, Azealia answered, “No, I knew it would come out. I just was afraid that it would come out when people really didn’t care.”

When it comes to the people in question, the answer depends on the crowd you’re talking about. The general public has long written Azealia Banks off, and they’re never, ever getting back together with her. Stranger things have happened, but the idea of Azealia Banks becoming the sort of star Nicki Minaj is and Iggy Azalea is turning into seems virtually impossible at this point. But she doesn’t really need to be; some acts are as broad as Beyoncé, others specific as Solange.

It’s always been difficult to box Banks in, and that undoubtedly was the real point of contention between her and her now formal label, Universal. For those of us not under the pressure of making sure our million-dollar investments churn out a radio-ready hit, we’re free to just enjoy Banks being her multifaceted, notably curious, and ultra vulgar self.

Speaking of, a friend who, like me, had grown weary of Banks’ antics and missing album took a listen to the Harlem native’s debut and told me the following shortly thereafter: “This bitch is gonna make me start liking her again.”

Broke With Expensive Taste is an impressive record, and yes, very much worth the wait, but it’s so many things at once. Sometimes it’s many things in a single song—which you immediately come to understand in the song’s opener, “Idle Delilah,” a mix of dubstep and I don’t know, tourist commercial light “island” reggae music?

There’s also U.K. garbage, house, and what people consider “trap” now. (I’m a Southern rap fan. This trap will never be mine.) Banks also will unexpectedly but impressively break into rapping in Spanish. Why? Well, why not?

For the most part, it works, though there are some missteps like “Nude Beach a Go-Go,” which reminds me of the kind of corny Beach Boys music Uncle Jesse raved about so much on Full House. And while it’s certainly her most known song, “212” should’ve been left off the album and replaced with the sublime “1991” from the good EP of the same name. Or at least tweaked a la the reworked “Gimme a Chance.” The same goes for other songs that are good, i.e. “BBD,” but we’ve long heard.

The errors are minor, though.

Read the rest at Complex.

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It was rather sweet to see Shonda Rhimes dismiss the criticism—delivered in real time by way of Twitter—that the new ABC hit How to Get Away With Murder had one too many gay scenes the way she did. Ever cognizant of everyone’s humanity, Rhimes tweeted back, “There are no GAY scenes. There are scenes with people in them.”

It reminded me of an episode of Sesame Street—a compliment, I promise—in which we learn at the end the valuable lesson that people are just people. The sentiment is endearing, but our differences and labels make note of another reality.

I don’t subscribe to the logic that labels are bad. Yes, they can be limiting, but oftentimes it’s not so much the label that’s the problem as it is the associations that the linear-thinking sect attaches to it. You can remove the label—e.g., refer to “scenes with people in them” as opposed to “GAY scenes”—but it proves to be a fool’s errand because the person who has the problem with two people of the same gender simulating sex on camera will have a problem no matter what you call it.

So let’s just call it exactly what it is: gay sex. More important, gay male sex. How to Get Away With Murder features a lot of it. That gay sex has since sparked debate on specific topics related to bottoms and the notion of “bottom shaming,” as well as a broader conversation about what all of this gay sex on a key night of network TV means.

Ultimately, it means the normalization of sex between two men in a meaningful way. Support for marriage equality may be thriving, and the movement will eventually triumph with nationwide recognition, but a lot of that has to do with packaging. Straight people have increasingly accepted gay marriage because it is presented to them through a heteronormative filter: Two consenting adults want their love recognized. Maybe they’ll then go have a family.

It’s shrewd, but many can get used to the idea of two people in love, wanting a wedding. But the thought of what happens during the honeymoon may still trigger some discomfort.

We have seen lesbian sex featured on various sitcoms through the years, but that feat was accomplished far sooner because of the boost it was provided by certain circumstances—say, the way the imagery might play into a heterosexual man’s fantasies.

Two gay men having sex does not play into that; therefore, the struggle to see it regularly in certain places has remained. Even on gay-centered shows like HBO’s Looking, the sex scenes are never as explicit as those you’d see involving straight characters. How to Get Away With Murder and its gay male lead—Jack Falahee as Connor Walsh—are changing that. The more you see gay men—gasp—expressing themselves for this big audience the way every other horny person does, the more that discomfort will be tamed over time.

And though Rhimes is not the creator of How to Get Away With Murder, she is the reason it’s on the air. Her contributions cannot go unnoted. The same goes for the irony.

Read the rest at The Root.

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As much work as the people behind the Washington Post’s interactive project on “The N-Word” likely put in, its biggest and only beneficiaries are those who profited from the traffic it generated. Sure, the publication tried to argue the purpose of its package. When you venture on to the site, you are greeted with this message: “After the National Football League made the controversial decision to ban it on the field this year, a team of Washington Post journalists explored the history of the word, its evolution, and its place in American vernacular today.”

This, despite the reality that such exploration has been done for what feels like a million times already. I’m probably really close to the exact number.

It may be serious in its presentation, but no serious person could expect any real evolution from long-established points: the word isn’t going anywhere; some Black people will continue to use “nigga,” and they are well within their rights to take a slur and morph it into a colloquialism they feel comfortable with; some Black people will never feel comfortable about “nigga” and they are well within their rights to hold that opinion; and most will reach an accord that a White person who uses “nigga” should immediately lose their lips and tongue.

Another basic albeit inconvenient truth is that it’s easier to have a conversation about “the n-word” than racism.

It’s not even a symptom of systematic racism so much as it is a response to that. A response that’s relatively small when you consider everything else going on right now.

The Washington Post makes note of this point of view, but where is the big interactive project on that?

A project that examines just how detrimental institutionalized racism is and how strongly it presses on. Just check the Washington Post masthead — particularly the very top of it.

Even if Black people took part in the project, this is another instance of White people holding a magnifying glass to Black people when they ought to be standing tall in the mirror, wondering just when are they going to give Black people a fighting chance in this country. Instead, we go for repetition and the superficial. And not surprisingly, we are met with the same results.

Enter television personality and unapologetic troll Piers Morgan (pictured), who wrote the essay “If Black Americans Want the N-word To die, They Will Have To Kill It Themselves,” where he attempts to tell Black people about themselves when it comes to the vernacular remix of “n*gger.”

Like other White men who have no realistic concept of racism because it has never been a factor in their lives, Morgan offers a naïve assessment of how racism works.

Black people are victims of racism. We cope with the conditions we’ve been given. It is not our responsibility to solve the problem we did not create.

It’s hilarious that a British White man wants to tell Black Americans about the state of race when he’s from a country long criticized for not even acknowledging Black people and culture.

In any event, Morgan got the attention he wanted from John Legend and writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates and Rebecca Carroll. And now me. He’s been smug in all of his responses to the aforementioned and basically told Black Twitter to shut up given he covered Trayvon Martin.

You know, despite it being those very members of Black Twitter who helped up the volume on the journalists and activists who worked to have the story of Trayvon’s tragedy told.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

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Consider the optics: A man, who sits at the intersection of domesticated Luther Vandross and a Black grandmother’s couch, is shouting, “I’m not gay no more. I am DELIVERED. I don’t like mens no more. I like wimen. Wimen! Wimen!” Already, there has been a dance remix crafted from the now-viral hit’s infamous quote.

Based on the looks of him, this dude couldn’t find his way into a vagina if he went by Google Maps. What follows his testimony is just as hilarious. After he is delivered from biology through the notion of divine order, he is then greeted by a bunch of men who proceed to join him dancing in celebration. That is what every ex-gay man needs: A bevy of individuals with penises happily crowded around him.

The spectacle only worsens after the pastor announces that God told him to give the man a $100 because he’s no longer gay. It’s crock logic about how sexuality works, coupled with a capitalistic-centered reward: pure comedy for those who don’t fancy themselves as Biblical literalists (including those of convenience).

Once the laughter fades, though, reality sets in. This is a person who has been beaten down week after week by his religion, which ideally, should only serve the purpose of uplifting him. Frustration soon follows once you consider how this reality is the same for many men who sit in church pews each week to be told that they are an abomination. Or “sissies” in bow ties. Or “faggots” in lavender. That their existence is a mistake, and their natural urges, perverse.

I know this feeling, as do many other gay people who’ve sat in church pews and faced similar harsh circumstances. You want to reach out and declare that it doesn’t have to be this way. That you don’t have to accept this rhetoric as your truth because none of it’s true. It’s neither true from a theological standpoint or just plain basic common sense about how humans truly operate and have operated since civilization.

You want to make sense of the senselessness you see and let those self-loathing gay Christians know that Jesus is not waiting somewhere with a flashlight, itching to point them in the direction of genitalia different from theirs in order to save their souls. Sometimes, you can convince people. You tell them to read the Bible themselves. You direct them to documentaries from actual religious clergymen and scholars who can help them rectify their faith with their sexual attraction.

Read the rest at The Urban Daily.

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You know when you’re feeling extremely chicken-deprived, so you rush to a Popeye’s (or whatever franchise you prefer) to recharge only to discover that they ran out of white meat, red beans and rice, and the Cajun fries are cold? That was last night’s episode of Love & Hip Hop Hollywood. Sure, I was fed, but not necessarily fulfilled.

It’s probably a good thing this show is teetering towards the end of its season run as this gang of fools is starting to remind me of a DJ Mustard beat: repetitive, but, to be fair to DJ Mustard, I dance to that same beat each time. Not so much with last night’s episode of my Southern California-centered telenovela.

The episode kicked off with Nikki being Nikki: bouncing around like she has fire ants running up and down her ass cheeks, babbling a bunch of nothing over a beef that only exists in her mind. After discovering that Masika would appear on a billboard for a club who rents its space from her parents, Nikki vowed to have Masika removed from the billboard. Unfortunately, Barbie Kardashian doesn’t have as much power as she thinks she does, but her mom did reveal that once upon a time, Masika was arrested for allegedly stealing something. You would think given that Nikki was born into money and had a doctor create the face and body she wanted that by now she’d feel secure enough to not need such intel to feel like she one-upped Masika, but alas, she’s on the waiting list for a self-esteem transplant.

In Nikki’s mind, Masika’s mugshot was ammo, only when she threw that in her face, Masika didn’t give a solitary damn—explaining that she made a mistake as a teenager and that Nikki’s spoiled, bratty ass could never understand the struggle. This happened after Teairra Mari organized a meeting of the mindless.

I love reality TV because it continues to present the false narrative that two people who barely know each other yet have beef can solve their TV-ready rift over alcoholic beverages. As if we don’t know how futile an exercise this is. God bless, though.

In any event, Teairra Mari had her own back and forth with Hazel and it was all Hazel’s fault. She was so thirsty to get in the mix with Teairra on camera that I wanted to down a liter of water in the name of her desperation. I’m surprised that future UFC champion Teairra Mari didn’t roundhouse kick her.

Hazel wanted to know if Teairra was screwing Yung Berg. She is not. Thankfully Masika reminded Hazel of the following: Teairra is not fucking Berg, Masika is not fucking Berg, and Hazel isn’t fucking Berg because Berg does not want her.

As a result of that truth serum, Hazel stormed off like a petulant child. Hazel, stop going out like this. No one should be debasing themselves for a man that small. But while we’re on Hazel, let me just say she talks like a girl who learned Black slang from BET Uncut and local access TV.

Speaking of throwbacks, Ray J is now on probation and his daddy told him that he ought to clean up his act, which includes giving Teairra Mari the closure she desires. For someone who tries to make it seem as if Teairra was nothing more than a jump off, I find it interesting that she still regularly speaks to Ray J and Brandy’s mama on the phone. I don’t know about y’all, but if you’re a cashew or almond for me, you’re never speaking to my kinfolk.

While Ray J was meeting with his new anger management counselor, Soulja Boy was pressing pause on moving in with Nia and her child. Soulja Boy told Nia that he doesn’t want her to move in because he fears for her safety. Yes, Soulja Boy doesn’t feel like Nia is safe in his house. In fact, he wants that house to be his “man cave” so he can smoke and have sex with other women. Does that make any sense? Hell no.

Read the rest at Complex.

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I don’t wake up everyday obsessing over my race or my sexual orientation. As much pride as I have in being both Black and gay, my first thoughts of the day are usually “What songs shall I jig to?” and “How can I get myself out of Sallie Mae’s Burn Book?”

Alas, enough people obsess over my race and sexuality in this world for me. To the extent that I end up being forced to think about it at least some point on any given day.

As a result, I am usually exhausted by the predominate narrative about being a gay Black man. I often have to fight erasure from white gays and Black heterosexuals alike. Or, I have to wrestle with the reality that when trying to tell my story, it is preferred that I tell it through some sort of prism of pathology.

Yes, it is still very hard to be a gay Black man.

So often we are limited to the perceptions other people have about us. Our masculinity. Our expressions of sexuality. Robbed of our basic right to simply just be.

I like to think I try to find the good in even the most difficult situation, but funny enough, when faced with the question “Could you write about what you enjoy about being a gay Black man?” I was a bit stumped. All too often I am asked to write about this experience from the opposition perspective. The task felt like a pop quiz I was possibly going to fail.

A few moments later, I went with sarcasm: “Uh, was ass and Beyoncé’s B’Day?

The more I thought about it, I felt that was a good enough place to start. I also like not having to ever be lumped in with those ‘stay-at-home sons’ Twitter often drags (or celebrates)—those sexist, heterosexual Black men who are an enemy to Black gays and Black women alike.

As for other benefits, I cannot speak for other gay Black men, but for me, the best parts of being who I am is all that I am. This includes the things that challenge the stereotypes about what a gay Black man is and the other characteristics that fit right into the caricature.

Read more at EBONY

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Teyana has come a long way as a singer. She sings with far more confidence than she did a few years ago and conveys vulnerability sweetly even if the actual lyric is especially aggressive a la “The last nigga broke my heart, you’ll probably break it, too” on “Broken Hearted Girl” featuring Fabolous.

When her aggression is more pronounced, it works just as wonderfully. It’s evident in VII’sfirst single, “Maybe,” which should be a much bigger song than it appears to be. And though Chris Brown may still be a public relations nightmare, he remains a radio staple. Now that we’re in the midst of “cuffing season,” I would advise Teyana to consider releasing her duet with Breezy, “Do Not Disturb.”

There are other “I’m horny as hell”-themed tracks, like “Dreams,” though the album version doesn’t quite work as well as the original, “Dreams of Fucking a R&B Bitch.” “Dreams” is the singer-songwriter’s equivalent of “just let me put the tip in.” I don’t know what spurred this more sanitized final version, but in the future, if you’re going to go there, just go there.

Read the rest at Complex.

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