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Donald Trump Jr. is an asshole. He has the intellectual curiosity of a dead sewer rat, the political sensibilities of a racist Twitter egg and the charm of a spider bite. He comes across as the kind of person Richie Rich punched in eighth grade. The sort of prick who, when hearing “Niggas in Paris” blaring, wants to interrupt the moment by blabbing about why can black people say “the word” and not him. There are also teases of Ebezener Scrooge, the younger years, in him.

Basically: Everything about Donald Trump Jr. is fucking annoying.

So when reports surfaced that Tropicana Jong-il II has been contemplating a run for governor of New York, the laughs flooded out as heavily as all of the stupid things that typically fall out of his mouth.

According to the New York Post’s Page Six, Junior recently revealed the plans to members of an “elite gun club.” Elite, y’all. According to the site’s source, “Don Jr. said he is interested in running for office, such as governor of New York, but the position of mayor of New York would be less interesting to him.” Likewise, Junior added “that he didn’t want to be one of 100 senators, nor a member of Congress.”

Somewhere, members of Congress are climaxing.

However, this isn’t the first time Junior has professed an affinity for politics and an interest in seeking office.

In July 2016, Junior appeared on CNN’s State of the Union and was asked if he would consider running to be New York’s mayor against Bill de Blasio. “I never like to rule anything out,” he answered. “We always like to keep our options open, so if I could do that as a service to my country, I would love to do that.”

The question hadn’t flown out of thin air. Junior’s appearance came about a week after he spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Some were impressed by his remarks, but that probably had more to do with the speaking slots being filled majorly by people we’d never heard of and whom most of us would never care to hear from again. Not to mention, it was Junior himself saying, “People are saying, I should run for office.” Like his father, Junior has a knack for quoting “people” when those “people” are probably only the voices in his head.

So, sure, Junior managed to form coherent sentences with energy onstage at the Z-list-heavy RNC, but it’s been Tropicana Jong-il’s son himself really stoking the chatter.

That’s why he added during that same CNN appearance: “Well, you know, listen, I had a good time up there. I’m really frustrated with what’s going on in this country. If [running for office] is how I can pay back and give something back … but, right now, I’m more concerned with getting my father in there.”

Funny enough, in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll, 81 percent of registered voters in New York oppose an Ivanka Trump mayoral ticket, while 80 percent oppose a run by Junior.

Thing is, for all of 45’s faults, he is a skilled performer. Being on television all of those years proved to help offset whatever else he lacked as a political novice. He is a terrible human being, but he can be engaging and, in years past, somewhat comical, in a village-idiot fashion. It doesn’t excuse his other poor character traits, but it’s hard to overlook how his talent as an entertainer helped give way to a stunning victory in the 2016 presidential election (coupled with racism, sexism, xenophobia and American stupidity, of course).

Junior isn’t his dad, and that’s why he doesn’t have the range with respect to launching the kind of political career that he believes he can. If there is any Trump kid to worry about helping to create a Trump political dynasty, it would be Ivanka Trump. Ivanka is not entertaining like her father, but she is the sort of woman the Republican Party would nominate and, arguably, the sort of woman this country would elect as its first female president. I can see her poll numbers changing, but not so much for her tacky, white-supremacist-retweeting brother.

Although she is receiving a lot of criticism for her complicity in the monstrosities of her daddy’s administration, frankly, I can just as easily see her scamming her way through a fake mea culpa on national television. By the way, for all the talk of boycotts against her products, sales of Ivanka Trump’s fashion label are up—hugely, in fact. Remember, beloveds, black women save the Democratic Party each and every time, but the kind of white women who buy Ivanka Trump products are the same ones who so often screw us all with a Republican administration.

Many of us may not be convinced by Ivanka Trump’s answers to CBS’ Gayle King about her lack of public condemnation of her father’s bigoted policies, but the rest of the country may be falling for it or, at the very least, can likely be conned by her in the future. Donald Jr. is an obnoxious twit through and through. No one is voting for one of the villains in Wall Street if he can’t even amuse them.

Read the rest at The Root.

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40 Oz. to Freedom. @fortyouncewines #genius #sublime #yeswayrosé

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When it comes to trolling “the blacks,” white folks collectively employ a “can’t stop, won’t stop” approach. Enter, the latest way to pour salt on our wounds and mock us: 40-ounce rosé. I know what you’re thinking if you’re a Negro: Since when is a 40 the move in the mainstream?

After all, the idea of the lazy, shifty, government-mooching black sitting at home consuming large amounts of fried chicken, watermelon and malt liquor is one of American racism’s greatest hits. Just last year, there was a Ku Klux Klan-affiliated group pledge to depress the black vote in Philadelphia by handing out weed and 40s. Likewise, in recent years, racist GOP-affiliated groups, along with their friends in conservative media, both invoked the 40 to portray President Barack Obama as not so much the most powerful man on the planet but more like the typical nigger of their white supremacist wet dreams.

I’m sure others can recall news articles of yore like the New York Times piece “For Minority Youths, 40 Ounces of Trouble.” In 1993, Michel Marriott wrote:

Malt liquor—essentially beer brewed with sugar for an extra alcoholic kick—has long been popular with black and Hispanic drinkers. But in the outsize 40-ounce bottle, introduced in the late 1980’s with aggressive marketing campaigns aimed at minority drinkers, it is fast becoming the intoxicant of choice for black and Hispanic youths in New York and other American cities.

Some teenagers call malt liquor “liquid crack” in tribute to its potency. And to the dismay of drug counselors, social workers and ministers who see malt liquor as a dangerous drug in sheep’s clothing, the 40-ounce bottles with brand names like King Cobra, Crazy Horse, Colt 45 and St. Ides have become an accessory to the youth-culture ensemble of baggy clothes, expensive work boots and street-hardened attitudes.

Now, compare that to Forty Ounce Rosé. Per the company’s website, it makes “organically farmed, spectacular tasting, large format wines.” So, it’s an old stereotype served organically to the delight of white people who probably say shit like “That’s so ghetto” to the annoyance of anyone who knows damn well they don’t know a damn thing about the damn ghetto.

Naturally, the praise rolled right on in.

From Mashable:

While most wine snobs would prefer to guzzle their booze from a glass, there are plenty of wine drinkers that are perfectly OK swigging right from the bottle, or from a juice box. Or, from a 40-ounce bottle. Thankfully, you can do just that—with rosé.

From Refinery 29:

No matter which 40-ounce bottle of wine you chose, this genius new way to drink is sure to make your summer a lot more exciting.

From Marie Claire:

While a 40-ounce bottle—typically relegated to cheap beer and malt liquor—of rosé might seem like a funny gimmick to bring to a BBQ this summer, they’re actually very practical. Hear me out.

You’re probably used to dropping around $15 to $20 for a traditional bottle of rosé, right? Those bottles only hold 750 mL or about 25 ounces of wine. Since a forty holds nearly twice that amount, they end up being quite a deal—especially since we found one store in New York selling them for just $16.

From Thrillest:

Summer is just around the corner, which more importantly means we’re on the cusp of rosé season. And this year’s is on track to be a doozy, thanks to some intrepid winemakers who’ve made the brilliant decision to package their pink nectar of the park picnic and pool party gods in a forty.

Eat your heart out, Colt 45.

“Eat your heart out, Colt 45”? Insert a Maxine Waters look of disgust here. Add a “fuck off.” Repeat.

If you’re wondering, none of the people quoted here have an uncle who looks like Billy Dee Williams or have ever had to contend with the stereotypes affiliated with the drinks. The same goes for the 40-ounce marketing that targeted you and all those who look like you in years past ’round your hood.

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I conducted an informal poll of trusted homies about the state of America’s Next Top Model by asking one simple question: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when I mention Top Model? Most answered “Tyra Banks,” while a few mentioned infamous phrases from the show, like, “We were rooting for you! We were all rooting for you!!” However, there was another response that was as astute as the first: “Is that still on?”

For those who missed the news, after a 12-year, 22-season run on the CW, the show was relaunched on VH1 with a new host in Rita Ora. Although many struggled to understand how Ora, a singer-actress person with a solid stylist, became the host of a modeling competition, America’s New Top Model opened season 23 with 1.7 million viewers—a five-year high for the series—and enjoyed a slight rise in the ratings in the following weeks. By all accounts, minus the matter of a Top Model contestant accusing Ora of bias because she dated Ora’s ex Calvin Harris, Ora was a success.

Still, while the show has been renewed by VH1 for another season, Ora is out and Tyra Banks is back in. In a statement, Banks said:

I’m overwhelmed and humbled by the intensity of the ANTM fan base whose deep affection for the show led me to have a change of heart. After giving it a lot of thought, I realized that remaining behind the camera wasn’t enough because ANTM is woven into my DNA.

Sure, but it also doesn’t hurt that Banks is on a bit of a TV comeback as she takes over for Nick Cannon as host of America’s Got Talent. Couple that with a show that’s now safe to return to, and it’s like FABLife never happened. Although Banks’ return to the show is welcome, it alone doesn’t address all the reasons viewers fled the show in droves to begin with. The show needs its nucleus, but it also might want to two-step back into the basics of what made it a hit in the first place.

When Top Model’s cancellation was announced in October 2015, a number of writers analyzed the show’s longtime success and, subsequently, what variables helped give way to its erosion. Noting that Top Model hadn’t enjoyed a traditional cycle/season since No. 16, Adrienne Raphael wrote at The Atlantic:

In short, ANTM went from an industry competition to a branding pageant—from a more straightforward contest that promised the winner a modeling career to one that promised the winner a large Internet following. The prize still includes a modeling contract with an agency (for Cycle 22, it’s NEXT Model Management) and a spread in a fashion magazine (now Nylon, rather than Vogue Italia). But gone are the camp and self-awareness that once characterized the show—now, it’s a hashtag-heavy, emoji-laden battle of the brands. On the one hand, this departure mirrors a realistic shift that’s taken place in an industry that increasingly rewards familiar faces with built-in fanbases. On the other it detracts from the fun, insular fantasy world ANTM worked so hard to create.

Also make note that by cycle 22, it had been the third time that women and men were competing against each other. Worse, the show had started relying a whole lot more on themes such as “British Invasion.” Some found the over-the-top theatrics of the show still enjoyable, though.

Most recently in Cycle 21—the same cycle as Lacefront McBeard—our impeccably flamboyant host Tyra Banks blessed a female model with a half-black, half-blonde “skunk” hair dye job, thinking it edgy. But the lace front beard, or beard weave as Tyra called it—and what it stands for—is the sole reason I continue to indulge in Tyra’s immaculate circus.

Nothing tops it, and yet the beauty of Top Model is that millions of similar examples exist (Tyra once had the male models dress up in women’s clothing and vice versa for a pointless role reversal challenge). The lace front beard is a symbol of everything magical and horrible about this show. I cannot stop watching or else I’ll die. I’m sure of it.

I’m so glad Hope is alive, but by cycle 21, I, along with other formerly avid Top Model viewers, had long since checked out.

Read the rest at The Root.

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There are many things about Omarosa Manigault that are befuddling. Like, say, why she enters every interview as if she’s Sensational Queen Sherri and everyone else is Miss Elizabeth or Sweet Sapphire.

Indeed, very few ordained ministers maneuver like Omarosa, who seemingly resides in a constant state of “Who the fuck want war?”

The fact that Jesus hasn’t tapped her on the shoulder and enjoined her to partake in a tall glass of chill still confuses me, but other matters pertaining to her are much more clear. Like, when it comes to her work with the Colby Jack Führer, it’s a no-brainer: She’s an opportunist. Of course, she is loyal to the man who gave her the platform to become famous, but for all the criticism lodged at her, she is many things, though fool has never been one of them. That’s why I’ve found the articles centered on black Republicans’ frustration with her wonderfully comical. The latest comes from the Washington Post with the article, “Omarosa Manigault Is in Trump’s White House Because of Her Loyalty. But What Is She Doing There?

The same thing as everyone else, Pinky: not a damn thing.

Vanessa Williams (one assumes not the one who had the legendary performance on The Arsenio Hall Show) writes:

Some African American political insiders already have concluded that she is ineffective, and she is routinely derided on social media as simply providing cover for a president deeply unpopular with African Americans. Some black Republicans were particularly critical of the Trump administration’s handling of the HBCU initiative, which included a White House meeting with the school officials that some viewed as little more than a photo op for the president.

“She raised expectations too high, and now it’s turned into a negative,” said Raynard Jackson, a longtime Republican strategist. “This shows a lack of political understanding. This is Politics 101.”

Do any of the people in the White House know what they’re doing? Between those executive orders, the half-assed shot at dismantling Obamacare and the Twitter-egg prez shooting various conspiracy theories from the hip, Omarosa fits right in.

For months now, there have been multiple stories about Omarosa’s role in the administration—how she is useless or how she angers black Republicans.

Last month, Joy-Ann Reid wrote, “Why Does Everybody Seem to Hate Omarosa Manigault?” for the Daily Beast. In sum, the second verse is same as the first.

Reid notes:

This lifelong black Republican likened bringing in Omarosa to a Democratic president putting ’90s-era anti-affirmative action crusader Ward Connerly in their administration. “He’s got a black Democrat who hasn’t produced a single [Congressional Black Caucus] member to support any nominee that has been appointed,” this person continued. “She hasn’t produced anybody on the Democratic side who is willing to be supportive of anything that Trump has done. So what is her role?”

They added: “She has no mission or goal other than to make Omarosa the head sister in charge.”

First off, Omarosa isn’t a magician, and even if she were, there’s no spell in the world that would spare a black Democrat from the wrath of Rep. Maxine Waters, who, like the legendary Kimberly Jones, has no time for fake ones. As far as “the head sister in charge” goes: 1) I’m offended a black Republican would talk like this; 2) aren’t most of the people in the White House operating from self-interest?

Ivanka Trump is trying to do her spin of Hillary Clinton’s guide to using her time as first lady to launch a future political career. Her husband, Jared Kushner, is operating both like a fake-ass Karl Rove and a shadow secretary of state. Grand Wizard Steve Bannon has never made it a secret that he sees 45 as a vessel to help promote his agenda.

Omarosa isn’t all that different, though Reid does pinpoint the real grievance:

The real source of consternation among her detractors is what they view as her role as gatekeeper; slamming the White House doors on them. Many black GOPers opposed Trump during the Republican primaries, and some continued to do so right through Election Day. But they say that while some white “never Trumpers” and Trump critics have been forgiven, and some have even been rewarded—Kellyanne Conway used to slam Trump on TV on a regular basis when she was a Ted Cruz supporter, and is now counselor to the president—most black Republicans with policy and political histories dating back to the first Bush administration have been cut out. And they laid the blame at Omarosa’s designer shoe-clad feet.

BuzzFeed’s Darren Sands has offered similar findings in his reporting in two separate pieces for Buzzfeed.

In “Omarosa Angers Black Republicans With Invite-Only Meeting,” Sands writes:

“The root issue is black Republicans have no leverage in the party outside of personal relationships,” Charles Badger, a former Jeb Bush campaign staffer with ties to prominent black Republicans, who supported Hillary Clinton during the campaign, said in an email to BuzzFeed News. “It’s because everyone knows black Republicans aren’t representative of most black folks. So the assumption—often true, but sometimes not—is that there’s not the depth of relationships there. So if you want to talk to black folks, are you going to go to black Republicans or through the NAACP, Urban League, black Greek letter organizations, clergy, etc., groups with wider reach?”

In other words, as dense as the man who sits in the Oval Office is, even he isn’t dumb enough to believe that black Republicans have any real sway. Granted, it’s hard to envision 45 having a sincere concern about the plight of black people based on his longtime history of racism, but nonetheless, black Republicans don’t have much in the way of capital, not even among actual Republicans.

While I have written critically of Omarosa aligning herself with a bigoted campaign, she did not do so with naivete. She is keenly aware of the tokenism at hand, but she did so for the sake of a lofty White House title—director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison—and all that comes with it. Omarosa would never have gotten this in a Clinton White House, so she got on the team that could afford her what used to come across as the implausible. Many of us would never sacrifice our morals in this manner, but at the very least, Omarosa knows exactly what’s going on.

So when I read black conservatives blasting her, again, it reads comically. The problem isn’t her; the GOP hasn’t taken black people seriously for decades. For these black conservatives to pretend otherwise is silly.

Read the rest at The Root.

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There are times in life when one must check a bitch. In the age of social media, when people from all walks of life share can anonymously say something slick to a stranger, those times have become far more common—especially if you’re a celebrity. It happens so often that the Shade Room has an ongoing series on its Instagram account highlighting celebrity-themed clapbacks. I tend to laugh like hell at them. People can be so vile and those types deserve to reap what they sow, be it a Rihanna-style dragging or a Tina Lawson, classic Black mama dressing down.

Still, there’s something that needs to be said to those celebrities who actively look for trouble: find something better to do with your time.

That life hack would certainly benefit French Montana, who last week lashed out at a Twitter user by calling her a “musty crusty dusty rusty ass hoe” before inviting the user to “take your cum drinking Dick banging ass somewhere n be humble.” Let’s dissect exactly how much French Montana fucked up here. For one, as someone who does not identify as Black, where does he get off using “nappy” as a pejorative? French has since shared that he didn’t know “‘nappy’ was a “racist word”—but he also thinks “everybody should say ‘nigga.’” In other words, he surrounds himself with Black people who refuse to tell him that being the Ashanti of hip-hop does not, in fact, make him Black.

Beyond his inflammatory public display of idiocy, though, is the overall problem: the person he attacked did not directly address him. She did not include his Twitter handle, which means French went out of his way by searching his own name. Many celebrities do this and then lash out at anyone criticizing them. This has happened so many times, and in every single instance I hear Joseline Hernandez asking, “Ho, why is you here?”

I think people enjoy the Shade Room’s clapback series (and similar segments) because it’s famous folks replying to rude-ass people who jump into their Instagram comments to say dumb shit. In those cases, the clapback often comes across as warranted. Famous people are still people, so they have every right to directly respond to people directly entering their space to be disrespectful (or just flat-out wrong).

However, in the case of French Montana and other name-searching-on-social media stars, there’s a stench of the pathetic. The reality is, anyone who maintains any form of notoriety will be subject to criticism. The inconvenient truth is that it is largely unavoidable unless you avoid social media altogether. So, if you are aware that people will criticize you and may even insult you, why chase that sort of attention? Why give people who don’t like you that much attention—especially if they didn’t even aim their contempt at you directly?

French Montana could have easily spent his Twitter time engaging with his fans. You know, the people who spend their time trying to reach him. Instead, he made himself look like a jackass. He dragged himself in ways the person he was responding to never could have.

Read the rest at Complex.

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By now, you would think brands would know not to tackle issues that they don’t fully understand or want to tangle with—particularly when they involve race and politics. And that, if they did delve into the political realm, they would do so with the knowledge and the involvement of an inclusive staff who could provide diversity of thought. Yet, this week, two major, well-known companies created their own PR nightmares, failing to realize that white isn’t always right—much less the lone standard for all.

This week, we questioned just who believed that a resistance-themed ad in which Kendall Jenner hands a cop a Pepsi to the joy of cheering protesters was a good idea. Whoever those poor, unfortunate souls are, they’re probably now licking their wounds in response to the rightful condemnation over a commercial that never should have been made, let alone released.

In a statement, Pepsi said the intent of the ad was to “project a global message of unity, peace and understanding.” Noting that the company “clearly…missed the mark” and had no intention to “make light of any serious issue,” representatives did apologize. But only one person got a more personalized mea culpa. “We also apologize for putting Kendall Jenner in this position,” the statement concluded.

Therein lies the problem: Even in the ad’s aftermath, so much attention is being placed on the thin, famous, rich white woman rather than the Black women behind some of the very movements Pepsi’s ad trivialized—and whose lives are affected by the serious problems that a Pepsi commercial probably won’t actually fix. The only Black woman prominently featured in the ad, which has now been taken down, is the one Jenner hands her blond wig to. But it’s these women, not Kendall Jenner, who deserve an apology from the brand.

“In defense” explanations are trickling through: Jenner is “devastated” over the responses to the ad; she had no creative involvement in the ad; the ad itself was not a reimagining of the now famous image of Ieshia Evans, a Black woman protesting police brutality in Baton Rouge, but of the ’60s “flower power” movement.

The narratives of Jenner’s victimization further contribute to the underlying problems behind the commercial. She is not necessarily a villain for not understanding the message she helped to convey in what for her was essentially a gig, albeit likely an extremely well-paid one. Still, anyone involved with this ad must deal with the consequences of their actions and truly grasp why people were so bothered by what they had seen. She’s received an apology; now she owes one, too.

Pepsi made the classic mistake of trying to be apolitical in a commercial that invoked the politically charged climate. By now, brands should know that’s close to unachievable. Without the required nuance, Pepsi instead centered whiteness in an ad that co-opted the efforts of movements trying to fight and dismantle white supremacy.

If I had to guess, I’d say it’s unlikely any racial minorities—more specifically, Black folks—were involved in the conception of this ad. What’s most clear is that while Pepsi had no problem co-opting political struggle, they had no concern about those actually struggling until social media provided the focus group they should have hired in the first go-round.

Read the rest at ELLE.

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Whenever I watch The Real Housewives of Jack and Jill Potomac, I have to ask myself if I really like this show or if I merely hate myself. Between their racial politics, color complexes and obsession with pretending that Potomac is the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area’s equivalent of St. Barts (select dictators certainly think so), even hate-watching can feel draining. Yes, Potomac is a very affluent area and, of course, the Real Housewives franchise is all about hamming up one’s wealth, but bougie black people are some of the most exhausting people on this increasingly less-green earth.

RHOP is like watching the after-hours of an HBCU (think Howard, Hampton or SpelHouse) alumni gala in real time. Like, you’re watching stuck-up black folks feign the kind of pedigree typically flexed by white people only. Why subject yourself to that torture? Well, you wait around ’cause you know brown liquor and “Blow the Whistle” will eventually loosen their tight asses the hell up already, and they’ll entertain you.

That’s basically how I feel about this show: Get them drunk already so they can stop faking like they belong on The Royals. That critique aside, I’m sitting here reviewing the season premiere, so congratulations, ladies. Y’all got me watching no matter how much shit I talk.

Now, let’s discuss these new taglines.


Word on the street is I’m still the word on the street.

Girl, you can’t do better than that? Anyone who looks like Vanessa Williams should try harder. (If that doesn’t make sense to you, you’ve never seen Vanessa Williams’ performance of “Running Back to You” on The Arsenio Hall Show.)


Potomac put me on a pedestal and the view is spectacular.

What I appreciate about Karen, who favors Tina Knowles if Tina Knowles were a villain in a live-action adaptation of some Disney classic, is that she knows what this franchise is supposed to be like, so she gives it her best shot each and every time. Salute, Whitney Houston.


Don’t let the green eyes fool you: I’m as real as they come.

Robyn always seems to be going through a lot, so maybe she didn’t have enough time to think of something better than a reference to her green eyes. Bless her heart.


Why cry over spoiled milk when you can laugh over champagne?

This is Junior Varsity Karen, but she made an effort.


I’ve played by Potomac rules, but now it’s time to play by my own.

Unlike Ashley.

As for what these women have been up to, I’m mostly interested in how much Gizelle and Charrisse now hate each other. Gizelle and Charrisse are like Kim and Whitley if they remained frenemies and kept a toxic relationship going well into their 40s. Gizelle is mad at Charrisse for insinuating that she was a whore during the RHOP reunion. Charrisse is vexed at Gizelle because during Gizelle’s appearance on Watch What Happens Live, Gizelle revealed that Charrisse had a lil’ boyfriend (a fireman, to be exact) at the same time her soon-to-be ex-husband was out thotting in New Jersey.

So, for much of the episode, we see these two go at each other through other people. When they finally do have direct confrontation, it lasts for mere minutes, with neither one of them bothering to say, “My bad for putting your business on the street.” Instead, we got Gizelle claiming that Charrisse’s line, “Don’t let this zip code fool you,” was borrowed from a song that doesn’t exist.

Their beef is dumb. Charrisse, if that’s your girl, don’t insinuate that she’s out here laying it low and spreading it wide. I mean, if she is, that’s her business. Gizelle, you know you were retaliating, so own it, own it, own it, like Lisa Rinna, and repair the friendship. Or hate each other and entertain us. Whatever floats y’all’s dinghy.

Meanwhile, Gizelle has moved to a new house but would like a man with money and a big dick.

Read the rest at The Root.

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The commercial and critical success of Frank Ocean is not just a testament to his talent but to how music fans and the industry at large have become more progressive in their thinking. Hooray to all parties involved. But as a firm believer in the Black Proverb, “It ain’t that deep,” I increasingly question whether criticism surrounding his work reflects a sincere impact of it or an overcompensation for the lack of artists like Ocean in the mainstream. This is not an insult to Ocean, whose talent is undeniable and whose symbolism is not easily swept under the rug. But it is worth asking: do his songs — especially those that directly engage his sexual identity, which has yet to come into full view — warrant such ample amounts of praise and, in the most extreme cases, deification?

Consider “Chanel,” the magnetic libation Ocean released in mid-March during his Beats 1 Radio show. Almost instantly, the Jarami-produced track was hailed as a “bisexual anthem” and christened “the most important song in the world right now.” Both sentiments were rooted in how Ocean begins the song, crooning over a canopy of piano keys: “My guy pretty like a girl and he got fight stories to tell.” This was not the first or the only time that Ocean has publicly addressed his sexuality. In July 2012, he shared on Tumblr that his first love was someone of the same gender.

Although Ocean has acknowledged same-sex attraction, he’s never taken on the labels gay, bisexual, or queer — if anything, he has purposely refuted them. Artists like Young M.A, Le1f, Syd the Kyd and iLoveMakonnen have been more forthright about how they identify, and in some cases, have been more detailed about it in their work. Yet, none of them seem to command the sort of critical and commercial acclaim Ocean does, and subsequently, not anywhere close to the praise.

So what was it about the opening of “Chanel” that made the song feel so vital?

Writing at The Undefeated, Austin Williams argued how “the boastful first few bars of Ocean’s new song might be the coldest, gayest, and most securely masculine flex in the history of rap.” There are LGBTQ rappers who would likely disagree with that assessment. Williams went on to declare that “the song’s lyrics read as a deliberate ode to duality and non-heteronormative binaries — an ambition, that since the death of Prince Rogers Nelson, is sorely missed in black music.”

Duality, sure, but Prince was someone who openly sang about the public questioning his sexuality as a result of how he presented himself aesthetically. Ocean does wear makeup in the video for “Nikes,” but what does singing about a pretty boy who can fight have to do with Prince? If we’re going by Prince and the androgyny metric, one could just as easily look back to Cee-Lo and André 3000 at their peak, or contemporary artists like Young Thug. You could also scroll through August Alsina’s Instagram where he sometimes draws style inspiration from the Street Fighter character Chun-Li and veteran pro-wrestler Koko B. Ware.

This mode of exaggerated praise was also bestowed upon the release of Ocean’s last album, 2016’s Blond. Headlines boasted of its “radical queerness,” argued that it “redefines pop queerness,” hailed it as a “queer masterpiece,” and praised the album for how it “asks us to see queerness as the new normal.” But these were all statements from white writers embellishing black sexuality. If the job of a critic is to find greater meaning and purpose in art, their job should also be one of clear sight and equanimity. Ascribing such specific and pointed labels and meaning into the work of an artist who purposely submerges himself in ambiguity only achieves the opposite.

Read the rest at The Fader.

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Ted Koppel performed a great service to his country in telling Sean Hannity to his face that he was “bad for America.” Hannity can simmer in his lingering anger over the widely shared clip that originally aired on CBS Sunday Morning as he sees fit, but it does not absolve him of the sins that led Koppel to make the statement.

Hannity may be a successful cable host, but he is also a proven liar and a man known to make comments that ping-pong back and forth between fatuous and flat-out prejudiced. Considering the offended party’s unusually high level of self-importance, it’s unsurprising that a serious newsman made a pretend one lose it over criticism.

Even so, though Koppel may have been correct in his assessment of Hannity and the damage that political opinion in news media is capable of, the segment itself was rooted in a false equivalence with respect to political opinion shows. Koppel, like many, continues to operate from the unfortunate space that all opinion shows are equal. However, the segment compares sound bites from John Oliver, who hosts a late-night cable political comedy show, and Michael Savage, a conservative radio host who fancies himself an activist—and in doing so, it is helping to perpetuate a false dichotomy.

Oliver is a comedian who opines on politics, but his commentary is often well researched and, by and large, factual. The same goes for Samantha Bee and Trevor Noah. Those are folks whose first job is to be funny, not necessarily to inform. Nonetheless, a decade ago, a study by Pew Research highlighted that viewers of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show (then hosted by Jon Stewart) and The Colbert Report held the “highest knowledge of national and international affairs while Fox News viewers rank nearly dead last.” So even if, seven years later, a separate Pew Research study noted that many people continued to identify those shows as legitimate news sources, other studies have shown that people do actually learn something.

What are people learning from Tomi Lahren or Rush Limbaugh other than that many people miss the days of water fountains with access based on skin pigmentation?

Other studies have shown that outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC have a negative impact on people’s knowledge of current events, but I question anyone who would argue that Rachel Maddow is like Tucker Carlson, that Chris Hayes is anywhere near Bill O’Reilly or that Joy-Ann Reid mirrors Megan Kelly in any way. The only person on Fox News worth listening to in terms of actual news is Shepard Smith. That doesn’t mean Fox’s opinion hosts are incapable of educating their viewers while sharing their respective ideology, but they opt not to.

It’s not so much that opinion programming on news networks is the problem as it is that we are bombarded with uninformed opinions—primarily because of a conservative media that’s much more invested in playing into the racial and gender biases of its viewership than in educating them. When it comes to problems with news media, cries that it’s too opinionated read as an oversimplification.

What’s MSNBC’s problem? It could use far more color and a bit more youth. Oh, and in the case of the 6 p.m. hour on its Monday-to-Friday lineup, stop trying to make fetch happen with Greta Van Susteren. Simply chasing after old Fox News watchers isn’t going to cut it. Soon enough, NBC will learn that with Kelly. Shoutout to Tamron Hall.

As for Fox News, well, drown that network and hand only Smith a life raft. That station is nothing but a dedication to the white establishment and willful ignorance. It is insulting to compare its mythology-peddling with people who bother to actually know about a given issue before commenting on it.

Now, with CNN … first, join me in prayer.

Read the rest at The Root.

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As a lover of the subgenre of R&B I describe as “Eff-that-ninja music,” Keyshia Cole is a pioneer. Keyshia’s entire catalog more or less keeps within this prism, but her first two albums are her strongest efforts. On her debut album, The Way It Is, Keyshia was basically that girl with Kool-Aid-red hair who would literally curse you out in song. In other words, a woman after my own heart.

On her sophomore offering, Just Like You, Keyshia had the same spirit, though she was noticeably a bit more polished—not unlike a ratchet (self included) who has toned it down after a loving black co-worker hits her on the side, like, “Sis, if you want a promotion, you’ve got to switch it up a little.” Or, better yet, she wants to fast-track her career to be like Mary J. Blige after white people discovered her and the word “dancerie.”

Unfortunately, after that, inconsistency took over. Her third album, A Different Me, was OK . Her fourth, Calling All Hearts, was not. The fifth, Woman to Woman, was not the best, but not the worst. No, no, her sixth, Point of No Return, has those bragging rights. After that 2014 release, Keyshia revealed that she had gone independent and she instantly became a punch line in select online social circles. I’m talking about you people who said she was selling fish plates outside the Grammys. I love fish plates, but that wasn’t right, y’all.

Now Keyshia is back on a major label after signing with Epic Records and, seemingly, is due for a big comeback. What will certainly help in those efforts is her decision to join the cast of Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood. Keyshia shared the news via Twitter, and when asked what compelled her to join the show, she explained, “I want to touch bases with the essence of my fans again.”

High-siddity people made light of this quote, but it’s honestly one of the most self-aware things I’ve heard an artist say about the climate and her fan base in a long time. At least she’s not picking up a glow stick and making rave tunes like Usher did a couple of years ago. There are other blacks I could name, but I don’t want to be jumped at a future NAACP Awards.

I like Keyshia Cole most when she is singing about trifling men via songs with catchy hooks, and telling me all of her business courtesy of a reality show. Before K. Michelle used reality TV to resuscitate her fledgling career as a recording artist, there was Keyshia Cole, star of BET’s Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is. By sharing the details of her life—including her drug-addict biological mother, her adopted mother and her strained relationships with her sisters—Keyshia was able to cultivate a fan base. She got people to care about her in ways that her old record label arguably never could have.

There are plenty of artists whose music I enjoy but couldn’t give a decimeter of a damn about when they’re out of the studio. Though I don’t necessarily need to know a lot about an artist’s personal life, in the case of Keyshia Cole, knowing what she’s been through led me to develop an affinity for her that will, if nothing else, always leave me open to hearing her new music.

Now, I didn’t like it when Keyshia Cole tried to come for Beyoncé about “Bow Down/I Been On,” but I’m assuming she’s made penance with Black Jesus.

Whatever the case, Keyshia is smart to realize that the Love & Hip Hop franchise is hugely popular and essentially another opportunity to get folks invested in her life and, by extension, her new music. Her second BET series, Keyshia Cole: All In, didn’t do the trick, but I trust in Monami and Eastern, who produce LHH.

As for the Love & Hip Hop franchise itself, it’s so good to know an artist that I have actually heard of has signed on. In the past, some have been Throwback Thursday or Flashback Friday or, at the bare minimum, someone on the rise. Ever so increasingly, though, it’s been a lot of, “Where in the hell did you come from and why are you here?”

On a recent episode of Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, quite a few viewers were left bored out of their mind, since we had to watch some woman claiming to be the CEO of a nail salon (insert laugh track here) beef with her assistant and marketing director (insert laugh track here) and some Asian girl from Instagram who thinks she’s the next Cardi B, when she’s likely to end up being a less poppin’ Shekinah.

Read the rest at The Root.

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