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Normally, I do not tolerate rosé slander, but in Alfred’s case, I can understand the frustration. If you’re a rapper booked for an appearance at the club, you should get more than free wine. That man deserved brown liquor, damn it.

Righteous indignation aside, Alfred’s got to work on that attitude. Does he want to be in the club? Based on his variety of grimaces, nah, but he’s getting paid to be there, so he should treat it like the job it is. He does declare, “I don’t trust niggas in the club.” I mean, duh, but my point stands.

Not that many people appear to be familiar with Paper Boi, and of the few who do know him, the response is equal parts salty and stank. Alfred has got to get that game face together or else the “for bookings” portion of his social-media-account bios will go largely ignored. He is new to all this, so maybe there’s something to be said of a learning curve. I’m southern, though, so it ain’t too high ’round my way.

Alfred needs to be more like Darius. People just buy him free drinks. Of course they do! He is what the kids would describe as “good energy.” When he got up to bop, I was like, “HE THINK HE ME!” If you didn’t read that in a hoodrat tone, go back and reread the sentence.

Now, Alfred not getting any free Crown Royal Apple aside, his other problems include a shifty promoter who planned to screw him over. Earn is the manager, so handling that is technically his responsibility. Perhaps it’s a familial trait, but Earn hates the club, too. He calls it a “money suck.”

Earn’s other keen observation include “Somebody smells like Wendy’s double stack.” Whoever wrote this line, I appreciate your specificity. That’s like me saying someone smells like a half-eaten No. 2 combo from Whataburger and two puffs of Newports. Anyhow, Earn is chasing this promoter around the club, asking for the $5,000 owed to them. The man literally escapes into a secret room to avoid coming off the appearance fee.

In the meantime, Earn greets a bartender who very quickly gets him together. As he complains about the club, she asks if she can offer him a bit of advice. “Leave,” she advised. “No one is keeping you here, but if you’re at the club, then deep down you want to be at the club. You’re not special.”

This woman deserves a round of applause. I hate dealing with people who go on and on about the club while they’re at the club. Take your ass home then! That’s why I hate that song “Here” by Alessia Cara. The door works well when you open it, girl.

And while bottle service tends to be an overpriced hustle, the bartender is correct in excusing that, too. As she says, “Everyone needs to feel special sometimes.”

Like the G that she is, the bartender slips Earn a note (after pouring several shots that he didn’t need since he can’t hold his liquor), letting him know that you need to pull the fire alarm to get into the sleazy promoter’s back room. Once Earn slips inside, though, he is promptly shut down. You see, the promoter claims that Paper Boi exceeded his alcohol order limit, required extra security because he is a “thug,” and didn’t perform as promised. So what does Earn end up getting? Only $750.

Earn ain’t exactly threatening, so he takes that money and goes back outside with the face of a sad-dog meme. By the time he finds his cousin, though, he’s riled the hell up. Alfred is in a mood, too: He was already bothered that another rapper with real money and popularity overshadowed him, then got vexed by the fact that his section was besieged with a bunch of folks he didn’t know. Alfred kicked them all out, but did offer to let the women stay. Of course, those women left anyway.

Alfred likes one woman in particular, but when he asks for her number, she shut him down, telling him to follow her on Instagram. She has a boyfriend, it turns out, but promises to check out Paper Boi’s music on SoundCloud. When Alfred felt a way, she kept it funky. She knew he wanted to party with a cute girl like her, so her services are done.

Pissed about everything, Alfred storms into the back room, punks the hell out on the promoter, and gets the money he was promised. “Wow,” the promoter says moments after he leaves. “That boy’s gonna be a star.” He then tells a woman he works with to call the police.

By the time Earn and Alfred and friends make it to another spot to eat, they learn via the television that Paper Boi is wanted for armed robbery in connection to a shooting outside the club. Also, one of Darius’s friends recorded Alfred manhandling that promoter with his phone, further confirming why you can’t trust niggas in the club.

This episode is great all around, but I do have one lingering complaint: WHY WERE PEOPLE NOT JUMPING AROUND WHEN “KNUCK IF YOU BUCK” WAS PLAYING? What kind of blacks in the club don’t lose their mind to that Crime Mob classic? Hell, I stood up and started jumping while watching the episode. Those extras ain’t real.

Read the rest at Vulture.

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When will everyone learn that when you go against Beyoncé’s wishes, only failure and fury will follow? There are rumors floating that Lifetime is considering making a film based on the life of the finest Creole to twerk the earth. A source tells the Daily Star, “Beyoncé is arguably the world’s biggest star and has a story Lifetime thinks is too compelling to ignore.”

Oh, please reconsider.

Of course, British tabloids are notorious for lying like hell, but when you factor in the reality that the network is making a film about Britney Spears, there is legitimate reason to fear. And boo. And hiss. In that order. Word to Momma Dee.

To give them a lil’ teaspoon of credit, Lifetime has come a long way with its original movies, notably the ones with Negroes in them.

With This Ring and A Day Late and a Dollar Short, respectively, were well-made and enjoyable. Each of those were based on novels, however, which meant they had rich material to work with and, more or less, authors who wouldn’t let the network take their works and ruin them. When it comes to Lifetime biopics, that’s where the compliments about Lifetime original movies go to die a slow, excruciating death.

The Aaliyah biopic was equal parts absurd and abysmal, and the one made about Whitney Houston released a year later was not absolutely horrible, but pretty damn bad all the same. Now, Toni Braxton’s biopic, Unbreak My Heart, was a fast ride in terms of storytelling, but nonetheless enjoyable. The key difference between the Braxton biopic and the other two, however, was Braxton’s involvement. Once again, if someone who is the root of the source material is involved, a Lifetime movie will be OK or surprisingly good.

To that end, we can all easily infer that Blue Ivy’s mama wants no parts of this project.

The film is said to be using J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story for “inspiration.” In other words, the plan is to use a book Beyoncé didn’t want out for source material—only annoying her even more. As an original member of the Beyhive, I’m now worried about whether my even mentioning that book is a sin.

Forgive me, Beyoncé. I only wrote it to shade it. Amen. Uh oh, uh oh, oh no no.

This source explained: “They know they may receive some pushback for digging into some of her darker moments, but believe her story must be told.” And: “It could ruffle a few feathers, but finally people might get a sense of the real Beyoncé.”

Here’s what’s going to happen: Beyoncé will likely have this project shut down and cleanse the universe of this ugliness. If that miraculously doesn’t happen, this movie will be raggedy as hell. Again, Lifetime has its cute original-movie moments, but this is Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. Lifetime can’t handle that splendor.

Beyoncé is Houston, Texas. Lifetime is Tyler, Texas. Beyoncé is a luxurious weave plucked directly from a Malaysian handpicked by God, not a weave bun from the gas station that you can clip in. Beyoncé is worthy of a cinematic masterpiece if and when she decides to have a movie based on her life made, not what Lifetime would offer, which is more or less the moviemaking equivalent of cold General Tso’s chicken ordered four days ago.

Read the rest at The Root.

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If he has his way, Donald Trump may have laid the groundwork for a race riot right by Red Lobster.

According to the New York Daily News, the Trump campaign has been actively trying to book the legendary Apollo Theater in Harlem for a rally.

Apparently, organizers have been calling “every day,” though there is a bit of a discrepancy over how interested the Apollo is in allowing him the space to hold a rally featuring a bevy of paler folks with an allure for those who like to make aesthetic statements with white foods. One described insider said, “They don’t want him there,” while another claimed, “The two parties may have talked, but no deal has been announced.”

You know, Harlem may have changed, but racism is pretty consistent as far as consequences go.

I remember casually strolling along 125th Street one day and asking myself, “Where did all of the white people come from?” No shade, white folks. I had just never seen that many of y’all in Harlem. The next day, I learned that Amy Schumer had been recording a comedy special at the Apollo, which ultimately aired this time last year. Schumer fans are one thing, but when it comes to supporters of a hate-mongering man who looks like the lovechild of Fanta and Benito Mussolini, can we not?

Trump supporters remind me of a few things: Mama’s Family, business-casual bigotry, misspelled signs and “Heil Hitler!” Needless to say, you pile that into Harlem and all I see happening is white people with signs about Obama arguing with Black Israelites while someone eventually pulls out his phone and yells, “WorldStar!” And lots and lots of NYPD, which can be fearful for anyone who doesn’t look like they belong at a Trump rally.

Why exactly would Trump want to hold a rally in Harlem? At this point in the campaign, “the Blacks,” as he affectionately calls us, know what his deal is. He has four black friends: Ben Carson, Omarosa, Diamond and Silk. Zora Neale Hurston already settled the matter with them: “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk.”

As for his “black outreach,” which one presumes would be the basis of his Apollo rally, we’ve already heard his shtick. We’re living in the slums of the inner city, where, as soon as we step outside, we duck bullets because we’re our own suicide squad. We’re all dancing energetically across, below or right on the poverty line. When it comes to our schools, they’re falling apart brick by brick, and students have had to burn the books left over from Reconstruction to stay warm because the heat went out and Booger from Good Times never fixed it.

Like, we get that we’re poor, black and ugly, Trump, and honestly, the lines were performed better by Mister in The Color Purple. Then again, Trump’s black outreach was always for white women anyway.

Just this week, Trump professed a desire to improve conditions for blacks and Hispanics. And yet, days before that, during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, Trump had this to say to supporters: “So important that you watch other communities, because we don’t want this election stolen from us. We do not want this election stolen.”

What does that rotten, carrot-colored man mean? Translation: THE BLACKS ARE GOING TO STEAL THE ELECTION. THE BLACKS IN PHILADELPHIA SPECIFICALLY. THE BLACKS ARE GOING TO TAKE YOUR COUNTRY FROM YOU EVEN MORE THAN THEY ALREADY HAVE. DO NOT LET THE BLACKS DO IT.

Read the rest at The Root.

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As many of us politicos have come to know, the Grand Old Party is overflowing with stupid white men. In this campaign season, though, Donald J. Trump has been sucking up so much of the election coverage, the rest of those of that dumb-dumb-diddy demo have been overlooked.

That’s why I am so grateful to Jon Girodes, the Republican candidate for New York’s 30th Senatorial District, who’s doing his part to make sure we all remember there are many other racist buffoons worthy of our ridicule and condemnation.

As NBC 4 New York reports, Girodes planned for an event in Harlem, which, I’m sure in his mind, was some sort of attempt at black outreach. However, if you took a random poll of black folks, most would hear this plan and say something to the effect of, “Bitch, you got us f–ked up.” And he does.

What’s the plan? Well, per an email Girodes sent out to NBC 4: “I’m hosting an event in Harlem which will be in front of the state building in a few weeks. We will [donate] Kool Aid, KFC and watermelons to the public on 125th street in Harlem. Please join us to help the community.”

Of course, the image for this proposed event features Martin Luther King Jr., this type’s personal get-out-of-“That’s racist!” card. Bless his ignorant, clueless heart.

As someone who walks past that building just about every single day, I’m trying to envision what it might look like to see some Republican stroll up to the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building and more or less offer a trio of stereotypes to black people.

“What I think is anyone who gives free food to people is doing them a favor,” Girodes explained to NBC 4. “Get a bunch of people who say it’s offensive and let me go into their neighborhood and give it out for free and see if they take it.”

Fine, I’ll admit that if I just so randomly stumbled onto someone handing out chicken wings and fried fish sandwiches, it might initially pique my interest. No one will shame me for a love of either thing. That said, who goes to Harlem and offers KFC? There is a Popeyes on 116th, 125th and 145th streets. How are you shimmying into Harlem with KFC? No one wants that, you silly, likely no-seasoning-using man.

If you’re going to stereotype us, at least do so more productively.

Then again, fried chicken is beloved by all, so to couple that with watermelon and Kool-Aid is pretty damn offensive. You want black votes, so you give black voters high cholesterol and “the sugar”? For the love of God, it is National Diabetes Month.

Read the rest at The Root.

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When Nicki Minaj took to Twitter this week to announce a new album, titled Pick My Fruit Out and featuring tracks like “Fruit Loops” and “Bananas (Harambe Interlude),” one could quickly deduce that she was clowning around. Pick My Fruit was a joke, but it called attention to the fact that it’s been nearly two years since she released The Pinkprint, her finest album to date, and that her fans are rightfully ready for new music. Apparently, the wait won’t be much longer—Minaj’s new Marie Claire cover story promises that she has a new album on the way.

Which leaves us to speculate: what will the album sound like? With Minaj, it’s always hard to say.  As a member of #TeamMinaj, I have some hopes (and fears) for what Minaj’s fourth release will have to offer. This is, of course, very Laptop Label Head of me, but it’s all said with love, beloveds.

Trim the tracklist.

The Pinkprint is Minaj’s best complete body of work because she finally managed to deftly bridge her rap songs with tracks catering to her pop leanings. That said, there are still a smooth six songs that could have been left out.

I love Cash Money, but their model of album-making is stuck in the CD era. Their modus operandi is to give you at least 20 tracks. That was cool ten years ago, because it truly gave fans their money’s worth for an album. In the age of streaming, though, it just comes across as too much. Yes, there are those who call the album a relic and continue to argue we live in a singles world, but when I think of a rapper as iconic as Minaj, what separates her from rappers of yore is an undeniable classic record. Being more selective about tracklisting and sequencing will get her there.

Think of it as a meal. We all have our greedy moments, but in this instance, it’s like you’re getting fried fish, ox tails, chicken wings, turkey legs, and then it’s like 19 sides awaiting you after that. You don’t need it all.

Less pop, more rap. No shade.

In August, London On Da Track told Complex that he was in the studio with Nicki Minaj, but noted that the songs were more on the pop side than rap. Please reconsider this, or, at the very least, can we place a small cap on the number of pop songs on NM4? Yes, “Super Bass” was a huge hit, and helped Minaj reach fans who might’ve otherwise taken far longer to access her (if they ever were going to), but please, oh please, Nicki, not too many of those.

I would love an album of Nicki Minaj just straight rapping throughout. Hell, give me Beam Me Up Scotty, squared. No “Starships” please. Please. I said please. Please. I said it again.

Read the rest at Complex.

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When I saw that tonight’s Atlanta episode was entitled “B.A.N.,” I thought it was an acronym about “bitch ass niggas,” which promptly had me body rolling at my desk to Sevyn Streeter. Alas, “B.A.N.” actually stands for Black American Network, a fictional television channel that’s the love child of PBS and Bounce TV. And on that network is Montague, a low-budget panel show starring Franklin Montague (Alano Miller). The dude looks like Ed Gordon’s nephew by marriage.

“B.A.N.” comprises an entire episode of Montague that’s centered on transitions. To start, Montague wants to explore the “growing outlook on accepted sexuality and its effects on black youth and culture.” That sentence alone elicits fear, given most discussions related to black folks’ views on sexuality being drowned in stereotypes about how us colored people are so much more homophobic and transphobic than everyone else.

The show-within-a-show features the one and only Paper Boi as a guest along with a white woman named Dr. Deborah Holt (Mary Kraft), who is introduced to as a trans activist. According to Montague, Alfred was invited to the show because, during a recent tweet storm, he said he wouldn’t sleep with Caitlyn Jenner. When asked if he would explain the statement, Alfred’s initial response is a simple “Nope!”

After a follow up, however, he goes on to declare, “I just don’t think I have to have sex with Caitlyn Jenner ’cause y’all said so.” Montague volleys a leading accusation guised as a question: “So how long have you disliked trans people?”

“Man, I just found out they exist,” Alfred answers. Montague won’t let it go, quoting some Paper Boi lyric about Caitlyn Jenner. Alfred fires back by saying he’s just rapping and shit, you know, before highlighting that the host doesn’t know all of his catalog. Has Montague ever even heard “Illuminati Sex” before?

Sidenote: How in the hell is “Illuminati Sex” not a real song?

In any event, Deborah very much plays into familiar Negro pathology. She claims that Alfred plays into “cultures of exclusion and power.” She then blames hip hop for Alfred’s attitudes, albeit with a slight twist: This time, issues with masculinity are supposedly the problem, rather than widespread homophobia or transphobia.

“Please, please. Tell me about myself,” Paper Boi quips.

Deborah most certainly does. “Black men aren’t ready to accept the implications of a trans accepting culture,” she says. Even if this is a parody, it’s unfortunate that so many believe this idea. The Montague panel reminds us that many white liberals are as guilty as their conservative counterparts in generalizing black people. What Deborah does is right on par with Donald Trump watching two episodes of Good Times, then declaring that all black people live under hellish conditions in the inner city.

Likewise, I must say that Paper Boi not wanting to smash Caitlyn Jenner is an extreme example of an ongoing media trend: When a person of note makes controversial comments, critics are ready to pounce. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in some cases, the outrage goes way too far. Is it worth ascribing a belief to Alfred that he may not hold? Of course not. Advocacy is important, but plenty of folks see it as a come up so they trot out terms like “problematic” in an effort to appear more enlightened than thou. When people make mistakes, you should correct them, but only within reason.

Although I appreciated the humor employed to shoo-shoo away blanket generalizations about black people and our thoughts on sexuality and gender, the next Montague segment almost negates those efforts. It’s a story called “Trans-racial,” which features a black man named Antoine Small who says that deep down inside, he is a thirty-something white man named Harrison Booth. Reminds me of a bunch of black dudes along the Florida-Georgia border.

“I’ve always felt different,” he tells the interviewer. “I go to the store and movies and just be thinking to myself, ‘Why am I not getting the respect that I deserve?’ And then, it just hit me: I’m white. And 35.”

The segment follows Harrison as he begins transitioning by doing a bunch of “white things.” He practicing ordering an IPA at bars. He wears thick brown leather belts. He’s also planning surgery for a “full racial transition.”

Now, I did laugh at his mama’s response to it all: “I’d love to wake up one day and say, ‘Hey, everybody. I’m Rihanna.’ But I ain’t.” But it’s all strange to watch if you’re familiar with the likes of Rachel Dolezal, who I long ago dismissed as a fake-ass Freddie Brooks from A Different World. According to some of Dolezal’s apologists, if one can argue the sex they were assigned at birth does not speak to their true gender, then why not race too?

Race is a social construct. Race is complicated. Nonetheless, gender has historically been far more fluid and varied outside of Western ideals. I didn’t necessarily expect Atlanta to invoke the hijras of India, but I do wish the fundamental differences between this T-Pain-looking black man and those of Dolezal’s ilk were better explained. You know, for the folks watching at home who might not get it.

Read the rest at Vulture.

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How many Black lesbians can you count on television? There’s Kima Greggs on The Wire, but that show’s been over for years.

Ditto for The L Word, which gave us Bette Porter. There’s Anika Noni-Rose’s character Jukebox on the recently concluded last season of Power, but although she was a standout, she was nonetheless a guest star. In the film, the scarcity of Black lesbian visibility is even worse. My only immediate reference was the superb but largely overlooked 2011 film Pariah.

Although Black people were found to self-identify more as LGBTQ than other groups by a Gallup poll in 2012, so much of how the entertainment industry represents the community is lily white. Black lesbian visibility is lacking, so it’s not surprising that Black lesbians themselves have had to force a change.

The award-winning documentary The Same Difference focuses on this much-overlooked group and examines the impact that internalized homophobia and the stubborn clinging to gender roles have on Black lesbians. The film, directed by Nneka Onuorah, was initially released in June 2015 but will premiere tonight on CentricTV in celebration of National Coming Out Day.

While it’s important to celebrate people owning their truth, it’s just as vital to examine what exactly they’re coming out to.

Over the course of an hour, we learn that while there are varying labels women in the community identify with—gender nonconformist, stud and AG (related to women who are considered more masculine), trans, femme-aggressive (as in a woman who switches between masculine and feminine roles), and so on—there remains a binary that boxes in far too many. Those limitations can result in slights from other lesbians, and, in some instances, violence. At one point in the film, one lesbian reveals that she was jumped and told, “You’re too pretty to be stud.”

Moments into Onuorah’s film, you hear the declaration, “We are conditioned to categorize ourselves.” Throughout the documentary, we see how this happens by way of purported rules among the community: “Must be stud or femme, nothing in between,” “No stud on stud,” “No bisexuals,” and “No pregnant studs.”
To a gay Black man, parts of The Same Difference feel familiar—like the way heteronormativity plays such a pivotal role even in non-heterosexual spaces, and how so many people who are not straight look to straight relationships as the basis for their romantic and sexual relationships. So many of the women in the film conform to the idea that if one appears like “the man,” they take on certain roles both sexually and in terms of who more or less “leads” the relationship.

Read the rest at ELLE.

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At the end of September, Rob Kardashian got mad at his sisters and posted the phone number of one of those sisters, Kylie Jenner, on Twitter. (Chyna did the same to Kardashian a few days later). Kardashian has seven million followers—making his actions all the more petty and immature. It’s been reported that he did this in retaliation for Blac Chyna not being invited to a baby shower thrown for him. She was not invited because the two had apparently “broken up.” Excuse me—they’re said to “not be in a good place,” though he’s still Snapping shots of Chyna’s pregnant belly. He’s also gone back to liking Kim Kardashian’s pictures on Instagram, if that means anything.

Who knows what will happen next, but when it comes to the foundation of his new reality show and looming new life as a father, one wonders: Will we ever learn the real foundation of Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna’s relationship?

There are timelines going around, but there’s nothing specific about what actually got those two together and has him back in the public eye. Most onlookers have assumed that Rob, who has admittedly gained a significant amount of weight due to depression, and in the past, has taken public shots at siblings like Kim Kardashian, found a perfect partner in Blac Chyna, whose friendship with Kim went sour once her then teenage sister, Kylie Jenner, started dating her ex and father of her son, Tyga. That assumption is totally plausible, and for Chyna’s sake, many have saluted her for doing to the Kardashian clan what the sisters are often criticized for doing to others. But while the couple has more or less trolled and frustrated the Kardashians in the past, now both sides are selling us reconciliation, and through the spinoff, Rob & Chyna, a happy ending.

However, now that we’re a little over midway into Rob & Chyna’s first and short season (and likely only), the question of what exactly brought these two together matters more because from the looks of the show, they may have their baby, but they just might not make it as a couple.

Whatever the outcome, for Chyna, she ought to be fine. From what we gathered via social media, but more noticeably in the TV medium, she is confident, acts with purpose, and is quick to let you have it if you wrong her in some way.

Then there is Rob, who acknowledges that he continues to struggle with his confidence. He more or less behaves like Eeyore on the show. On the first episode, we see this as questions Chyna about people texting her—assuming she is communicating with other men—only to later learn that it’s him who is talking to other women. On the second episode, he bails on plans to travel with Chyna to a hosting gig abroad. Rob doesn’t feel comfortable in how certain clothes fit on him and he does not want to be met with a barrage of photographers, spreading images of himself to the world that he struggles with witnessing in the mirror. On the third, he goes with her to her hometown, but wallows in self-pity up until he lands there.

As far as Chyna goes, I’m glad she is gaining in notoriety. I love that she’s on the E! network having conversations about unseasoned chicken, referring to Kris Jenner as “Ms. Kris” as so many of us Black folks were raised to address our elders, and showing off more Black women than the Kardashians ever have (despite consistently playing off Black vernacular, Black woman’s aesthetic, and so on). I’m elated to see that her mom, Tokyo Toni, and all that energy will be a fixture on the show. For her, this show—already a ratings winner—is an unabashed win.

Rob’s fate is far less certain.

Read the rest at Complex.

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Who knew one neck roll had so much power?

Earlier in the week, various outlets were speculating that The Real might be on the verge of cancellation in light of declining ratings—purportedly sparked by the absence of Tamar Braxton, who was abruptly fired from the show earlier this year.

Well, to be fair to the show, some of these outlets were citing a bad-ratings story published by The Wrap in September 2014. True enough, the show started to sag a bit in 2014, but just a month later, it was being celebrated for besting the likes of Meredith Vieira’s now canceled show in ratings.

However, there is a more recent story about how the show is once again suffering from a ratings drop that has it matching its series low. It remains to be seen whether the show will bounce back as it has in the past—although, if you’ve followed the new season thus far, it might not be surprising to see this show remain in struggle mode.

While the remaining four co-hosts—Tamera Mowry-Housley, Jeannie Mai, Adrienne Bailon and Loni Love—are all lovely people, there is something noticeably missing from the show. That something is the former co-host who sat farther to the left and who continues to be what I feel is the real-life version of that old BET-made animation known as Cita.

Whatever one makes of the youngest Braxton sister, she’s certainly never been dull. Now more than ever, I miss her interjecting her opinion whenever the mood suited her. The same goes for her beginning statements with, “I mean … ” and “Welll … ” and “Tuh, girl … ” Ditto for her rolling her eyes and sucking her teeth.

Wait. I cannot forget my favorite: the very high-pitched, “You tried it!”

Thing is, if you’re going to copy The View, which birthed the basis of this show, as well as The Talk and others, you’ve got to be committed. What both The View and even The Talk understood is that when you create a winning formula, you have to commit to it. For The Real, it’s five different types of women on one panel.

Mowry-Housley is the nice, polite Christian woman who married that nice man from Fox News. Mai is that spunky person with the mom who could easily do her job and everyone else’s, TBH. Bailon is loud, no longer a Cheetah Girl from 3LW, and does a great job emulating Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” strut at the beginning of the show. Love is loud, cracks jokes and will, I guess, fuss at you when necessary to spread viral content online.

Well, they’re all loud—except for Mowry-Housley—but with Braxton’s absence, now more than ever, we can tell that not all loud people are created equal. Who remembers when 702 sisters Irish and Orish Grinstead tried to continue on with the group without Meelah, replacing her with a singer named Cree Le’More? They recorded the lead single “Pootie Tangin’” for the Chris Rock film Pootie Tang, which flopped, and then Meelah ultimately came back.

The Real without Tamar Braxton is basically the song “Pootie Tangin’.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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Have you ever felt pangs of jealousy while reading Baller Alert, Lipstick Alley, or The Shade Room? During Van’s awkward and (somewhat) contentious dinner with an old friend, I certainly felt that way. In this world of wage stagnation and student loans, who wouldn’t want to be like Teairra Mari and boast about having a sponsor?

We learn a lot about Van through Jayde, a friend she’s known since childhood. As “Value” makes clear, these women have taken entirely different directions with their lives. For Van, it was making a baby with the Princeton dropout who manages a guy who’s the Coke Zero equivalent of Rick Ross. As for Jayde, she’s pretty much guaranteed to land a spot on WAGS or Basketball Wives L.A. She only does two things: date rich athletes and enjoy the perks that such a life entails.

We meet Jayde at an upscale Thai restaurant — presumably of her choosing — as Van arrives late. When Van sits down, Jayde compliments her hair before asking if she got it did at Fernando’s, as per her recommendation. Van did not, noting that Fernando’s is probably too expensive anyway. While the two settle into small talk, we learn that Jayde flew into town on a private jet. “Not like the nice PJ,” she adds. “One of those rent-a-PJs.” How humble of her to play down the fact that she flew private, but not the premiere way to fly private.

Jayde is in town to see a special NBA friend, but no, not that last NBA guy she mentioned to Van. This is new booty, a new line of credit. After she leaves Atlanta, she’ll be heading to London, though she hates London because the rainy weather makes her hair frizzy. She loves Paris, though.

Beginning to get the idea? The waiter comes by, and Jayde orders a bottle of wine rather than drink by the glass. Van rolls her eyes as soon as the words leave her friend’s mouth, but, girl, if she’s paying, enjoy that free liquor. That said, Jayde is quite snooty. When Van requests chopsticks, she snickers and explains that Thai people don’t use chopsticks — only Americans think such a silly thing. The condescension practically drips from her voice. Van should’ve told Jayde to shut her black ass up then and there.

Van’s patience does wear thin when the subject of Earn comes up. Shady or not, I was with the homegirl when she quipped, “Y’all are funny. You two are funny.” Sorry, but it’s true. Van and Earn are funny because they aren’t together, but they sleep and live together. It would seem wise to honor the “no sex in the champagne room” rule for such a situation, but different strokes, I suppose.

As Van gets defensive, Jayde gets a bit more lethal. “You used to make fun of girls like you,” she says. Then comes the sermon: “Women need to be valuable. Black women have to be valuable.” Bring it home, Janye! “Why are you messing around with this broke-ass nigga?” In this moment, she sounds like so many Kandi Burruss songs penned for TLC and Destiny’s Child.

Jayde also flips her bang and gets cocky as she defends her way of life. Van seems skeptical, so she lays it all out. “The NBA players I fuck with fuck with me because I provide a service and I am worth it,” Jayde says. “I am cultured, intelligent, and beautiful and that is hard to come by.”

Okay, now she sounds like the woman who Jazmine Sullivan was singing about on “Mascara.”

Van pops back, reminding Jayde that not everyone shares her values. It is like watching a Kardashian group chat try to take on Solange’s new album. An awkward silence follows, as Jayde carefully takes her phone, checks for good lighting, and snaps a photo of the meal for Instagram. Earlier, she pulled up her IG account to show off photos from all the places she’s visited. Girl, you know damn well Van saw them already.

Anyhow, Van dips after the NBA friend and his not-so-cute buddy show up. (“He’s like a lawyer or something, I think,” Jayde offers.) As she walks through the parking lot, Jayde rolls up and tries to convince her to stay. Van reminds her that she would always fix her up with the ugly one. Yeah, she seems like the type. Why are these two people even friends?

Read the rest at Vulture.

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