Didn’t We Almost Have It All, Azealia Banks?

Dear Azealia Banks:

I wish I could start this off with Tyra Banks’ “WE WERE ROOTING FOR YOU! WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU!” Fact is, most people weren’t rooting for you because you alienated the absolute hell out of the general public over and over again with your Twitter tirades and the numerous beefs with your peers they inspired.

For a millisecond, you were the wet dream for those of us longing to see you capitalize on Nicki Minaj kicking the door back open for female rappers. Unfortunately, it didn’t take you long to basically become the Crypt Keeper of said dreams.

Oh, sis. Didn’t we almost have it all?

Now, you’re probably still on a high from being released by your former label, Universal Music. You’ve been out here tweeting “I’S IS FREE!!!!!” and comparing yourself to Miss Celie. I don’t know you’re so giddy, though. All this has done is make certain that’ll even take longer for you to release a full-fledged album. That is, if you ever do. Not to mention, your label-less life lends further credence to the theory that you’re basically Foxy Brown without the hits.

It makes me so sad that we’ll probably never catch you at the hot spot. Even sadder is that even if you kept the deal with Universal and dropped an album (finally) featuring you and Jesus’ remake of “The Whisper Song,” it’d still only get nominal attention, because again, so many people curse the day you were allowed Internet access.

Read the rest at EBONY.

On The “On The Run” Tour

As someone who firmly believes that God said on the seventh day, “Y’all ain’t ready for the jelly I’m going to send to earth on September 4, 1981,” it doesn’t take much for me to get excited about anything Beyoncé-related.

So while I knew I would be attending the “On The Run” Tour, I was far more interested in seeing Beyoncé on stage than I was to see Beyoncé’s husband and co-headliner, Jay Z.

Having seen him a year ago with Justin Timberlake, I wondered whether or not the pop-pop of rap would be doing the performance equivalent of “you in the club doing the same old two-step.” To Mr. Carter’s credit, not only did he manage to keep up with his wife’s electricity, he showed his own on stage growth — albeit in much subtler fashion.

The Carters kicked off their two-and-a-half set to a sold-out crowd at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia on Saturday with “03 Bonnie and Clyde.” The two then spent the rest of the show going back-and-forth in well-executed transitions that merged their sounds seamlessly.

Keeping with the theme of the promo video that spread across the Internet mere seconds after it finished uploading, throughout the night, Beyoncé and Jay Z played Tarantino-themed vignettes depicting the couple as outlaws.

For the record, I’m one of those people who believes Beyoncé is a much better actress than “The Fighting Temptations” and “Carmen: A Hip Hopera” let on. But y’all don’t hear me, though. Now for some concertgoers, it might’ve been surprising to see Beyoncé holding guns and cursing out people while acting out a bank robbery.

However, if you’ve been a longtime fan of the Patron Saint of Houston, you’re not at all surprised to see her more aggressive side. It’s always been there, only she became much more guarded as media folk increasingly reached for their scalpels in order to dissect her.

With the release of BEYONCÉ, Yoncé has let said guard down, and thankfully, that’s been carried over to her live shows.

When you’ve been a dominant fixture of pop music as a solo star for a decade, it would be easy to fall into a state of contentment, especially when your contemporaries are better at Instagram uploads and subtweets than they are singing and dancing.

Still, Beyoncé is only 32, so it’s great to see that she’s not resting on her laurels. With both “The Mrs. Carter Show”and the “On The Run” tours, it’s clear that Beyoncé is aiming to spend the next decade of her life raising the bar in terms of the spectacle with which she treats fans. Given the torture that Beyoncé puts fans through to get tickets, they deserve it.

There are differences between the shows, particularly in terms of song arrangements and the noticeably different changes to her choreography. Beyoncé’s style of dance always came across to me as “Tina Turner at her prime at the club dancing to Ca$h Money’s best selections.”

It was always entertaining, but not necessarily the most challenging steps. Now, you see more intricate steps and much more skilled Beyoncé nailing every move. Somewhere Janet and Madonna are going, “Gon’ girl.” Ditto for her costumes. 

With her voice, she’s never sounded clearer and more confident, but if there were any critique I’d have about Beyoncé the singer, it would be that she wasn’t always convincing when singing songs like “Resentment.”

I’ve since changed my opinion as Beyoncé has learned not to convey pain in her voice with growling. I’m not sure if that can be attributed to experience or just more practice, but she’s much more adept at that style at singing as further evidenced by her cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex Factor.”

By the way, as far as Bey changing the lines of the “Resentment” goes, that’s something she’s been doing for several years now. Stop it before the #Beyhive creeps into your nightmares.

And while the debate of whether or not Beyoncé is a feminist, a terrorist or some Illuminati demon trying to get black girls pregnant because she sings about boning her husband in a limousine in certain circles that I proudly ignore, the woman herself continues to uplift women her way.

Read the rest at Elite Daily.

A Strong Suggestion: Step It Up, Rihanna

How does one find inspiration to push yourself harder when you’ve already proven that you could seemingly give half the effort and achieve maximum success all the same? In the case of Rihanna, she could retire at the age of 26 and still go on to be rightfully hailed as one of the most successful recording artists in history. That would probably make Mariah Carey – who will likely have to relinquish bragging rights for the most number one singles on Billboard’s singles charts besides The Beatles to Rihanna sooner than later – very happy, though the chances of Rihanna retiring are as probable as Cassie getting a co-sign from Aretha Franklin.

Yes, in the race for pop culture dominance, Rihanna could grab a chair, order three rounds of drinks and still zoom past all but one of her peers to the finish line. That reality is a testament to her ability to capitalize on the visual, and more importantly, the growing importance of likability thanks to the rise of social media and celebrity culture, as well as one other little attribute about Rihanna that all too often is ignored: The woman has a great ear for music.

Nevertheless, as we wait for Rihanna’s eighth studio album, I wonder where the pop star takes her career in the next few years. No matter how entertaining and captivating she is, the “DGAF attitude” she’s praised for might also prove to be her Achilles heel.

I am a Rihanna fan, but if there’s any legitimate complaint to be made about her, it’s the lassiez faire attitude she continues to have about singing and performing. Rihanna certainly has her moments of excellence – her rendition of “Stay” on SNL or her 2010 America Music Awards performances instantly come to mind – but they are typically far and in between. Some people excuse this and it’s a shame I don’t have the power to issue cease and desist letter.

In the essay, “Confessions of a Beyoncé Dissident,” Ian Russell writes, “Of Mrs. Carter’s peers, Rihanna pops to mind as a performer who, though certainly lacking Beyoncé’s voice, suddenly becomes likable for her DGAF attitude.”

Uh, perhaps for a few, but there’s a reason why Beyoncé can sell out a world tour without a new album while her contemporaries are lucky to do that (or come close enough) with new music and a gang of hit singles already amassed under their belt. More importantly, people may like you now, but what’s going to happen in the next decade or two when Rihanna is on a downswing?

As much as people harped on Jennifer Lopez’s less than stellar first-week sales of her latest album, AKA, J. Lo, who turns 45 this year, continues to out-dance women half her age – including Rihanna. That makes it easier for her to continue being booked to perform at major award shows and managing to fill up venues post-peak of her musical career.

Read the rest at VIBE.

How Not To Hit On People Online

Unfortunately, for so many women, every day they step outside is considered an invitation by some men to speak to them as if they’ve only discovered women and erections seconds prior. Even worse is the new reality that these same parasites have since carried over their thirsty ways to social media– spurring so many women to shout out “Can I live?” in horror. Though I can’t do the Lord’s work,  (i.e. instantly make the penises of the guilty parties fall off) I can at the very least inform you folks how not to hit on someone online. Grab your sippy cups and settle down. I’m here to help.

You’re welcome.

Stop Showing Your Dick

There are some pretty widely acceptable ways of greeting someone you’re interested in. Say, “Hello,” “Hi,” “What up, though,” “Hey,” and “Good morning, afternoon, evening.” Then maybe you can follow with a “How are you?” These are all pretty standard and not remotely aggressive. You know what’s the total antithesis of all of this? Immediately sending someone a shot of your dick. Your dick should not be the greeting as it’ll likely spur a prompt goodbye.

Lesbians Don’t Want You, Dude

For the slow people in the back of the room, if a woman is a lesbian she’s not interested in your dick, how big it is, or whatever sexual magic you think it has. Why? Because she likes vagina, fool. Women, some of you are guilty of this with gay men, too. I don’t know if you’re inspired by Liza Minnelli and Star Jones (allegedly), but your box ain’t the Hocus Pocus either.

Read the rest at Complex.

Stop Lying About Where You’re Really From

Whenever I meet someone from my hometown of Beyoncéland—or Houston, if ya formal—I typically greet that person with eagerness and the kind of warmth only a real southerner can understand. Then I ask a very important follow up question: What part of Houston are you from?

For those of you are unfamiliar, Houston is a mammoth of a city. In terms of size, Houston is like pre-workout regiment Rick Ross while the rest of the nation’s major cities are Jhené Aiko by comparison. For further clarity, Dan Solomon recently wrote inTexas Monthly, “A trip from Northwest Houston to Southwest Houston, in other words, is the equivalent of a trip from the Pacific Ocean into the middle of the San Francisco Bay.” So as large as the H is, if you tell me you’re from Houston and then when asked for specifics namedrop The Woodlands or League City, there is no other conclusion but this: Your ass is not from Houston. Trust me, other native Houstonians feel me on this.

I’ve been told I’m “rude” for pointing this out, but since my finger is already wagging, I may as well continue “The Mr. Waggering Finger World Tour” and air additional grievances.

I don’t have a problem with major city metropolitan residents. More times than not, you’ve probably lived the life Aunt Helen wanted for Will when she shipped him out of Philly, or at the very least, the kind of middle class home James Evan died trying to get for Thelma and his two annoying sons. Your parents should be applauded for that. Nonetheless, claim your actual city of residence as opposed to what’s 60-90 minutes away.

The same goes for people who say they’re from ATLANTA (very few of the actual residents of that city acknowledge the T’s existence) when it’s more like Alpharetta.

Now, the only thing worse than pretending to be from Houston when you’re really from Beaumont (an entirely different town over yonder on I-10) is to be from a nicer part of Houston, but try to front like you’re from the hood. God bless Beyoncé, but she is part of the reason why so many people want to act like they’re from Third Ward.

Read the rest at Complex.

“Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” Recap: Mimi’s Sex Tape Is Out

For a show themed around reality, it felt odd for Lil’ Scappy, Momma Dee, and Erica P to Nae Nae all around what exactly went down at the restaurant. In a confessional, Momma Dee said, “This is a very serious matter. As a mother, I’d like to think that I raised Scrappy to be a respectful and honest man to all women. I feel like I failed him. I gotta straighten this [out].” But “this” was never explicitly detailed, though we can deduce that Scrappy put his paws on his friend as evidenced by Momma Dee revealing that Scrappy is increasingly frustrated by his career not being where he wants it to be and Scrappy himself noting he has to learn how to properly deal with his anger.

Now that she mentions it, it has been a long time since Scrappy had a hit, huh? Join me in pouring out a lil’ coconut Myx moscato in memoriam of Scrappy, the good years. Let’s also bop to “Some Cut.”

That aside, last night’s episode of Love & Hip Hop Atlanta was the first time Momma Dee had every right to butt into her son’s affairs—thus let us clap for a pimp with her pimpin’ ass. After Momma Dee expressed her disappointment and let him know that she invited Erica P. over to talk things out, Scrappy offered a sincere apology to her. One hopes that he does indeed learn to keep his paws to himself, given should he lose his cool again, reality TV producers might not be able to prevent them laws from locking him up.

In the other apologetic portion of the program, Kirk had his “I’m Sorry” party for his all too forgiving wife, Rasheeda. All I have to say about that lil’ bash in their yard is Bobby V. was singing in the key of begging Keith Sweat as the party attendees feasted on what looked like brisket and ribs. Their Black is fucking gorgeous, y’all.

Unfortunately, someone always has to soil the moment. Not surprisingly, it was Benzino’s bae Althea. Everything about Althea screams “I’m really trying to make fetch happen when it comes to fame.” After catching a flat tire on Music Dreams Highway, Althea has since caught a bus on Reality TV Road and is milking this shit for all its worth.

To wit, Althea approached my favorite, Erica, Ms. Dixon, and Karlie Redd, to apologize for throwing drinks at them. Well, more so Erica; Althea doesn’t give a good damn about Karlie Redd. The problem with Althea’s methodology is, you don’t tell someone you’re sorry while sporting a smirk on your face and continuing to act defensively when called on the very antics you claim to be apologizing for. Needless to say, Althea ended her scene by Benzino escorting her off the Frost property and him informing her that she needn’t allow “those women to get her to go from one to 10” so hastily.

But, but, but, Benzino: How else will your girl get that extra camera time she clearly covets?

Read the rest at Complex.

Can You Just Say You’re Rich And Move On, Hillary?

Media pundits paid to say incredibly asinine and ridiculous things about President Barack Obama in an effort to patronize a bunch of crazy people at home with Nielsen boxes have had a hell of a week. Not surprisingly, three of the greatest offenders work for FOX News. Indeed, conservative radio hostLauren Ingraham, former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, and actress-turned-Black-Elisabeth-Hasselbeck Stacey Dash all tagged themselves into the fracas of foolery. And here I am to recap and mock accordingly.

Lauren Ingraham

Speaking on “The Lauren Ingraham Show,” Ingraham not only refuted any suggestions that she’s misled people about the benefits of marijuana, but also accused the Obama administration of orchestrating some diabolical plot to keep the masses high (off their memories?) in an effort to distract them from America’s problems. Comparing it to “1984,” Ingraham argued that Obama and co. are “happy to have you all stoned up” as cost of living goes up, “illegal immigrants swap the United States,” and wages remain stagnant.

I don’t know want Lauren Ingraham is sipping and/or smoking, but you know how there’s all this news about undocumented immigrant children being caught at the border? That’s proof of border security improving.

Is it the best policy?

Not particularly, but the lack of meaningful immigration reform being passed falls on the shoulders of the House of Representatives, not the Senate and certainly not President Obama.

That said, puff-puff-pass, y’all, and let’s proceed to the next political performance artist.

Stacey Dash

Considering that her “Single Ladies” checks are long gone, one can understand why Stacey Dash would take a job as FOX News’ latest Black friend who trashes the other Blacks on their behalf. Unfortunately, Stacey Dash is to political commentary as Rihanna is to sobriety. I wish Tyler Perry (I can’t see Shonda Rhimes returning her agent’s calls) would’ve found her something to do so Roger Ailes wouldn’t have to.

While talking about the unlikely scenario that young people will get sick of President Obama trying to score them things like health care and ultimately become conservatives, she explained, “My son is going to be 24 on Friday. … He is now a conservative and he says to me, ‘Mom, most of my friends are conservative. We’re capitalists. We want to keep our money.’”

In other words, Stacey Dash made sure to raise her kids in an insulated environment with like-minded people. Here’s a shocker for you, Stacey: Most children end up like their parents as that’s how they were raised. Some will pull away based on life experiences, or in this case, pay better attention, but don’t assume that’s how the rest of the nation’s youth will go.

Meanwhile, Stacey said this about her 11-year-old daughter making fun of Obama: “And my 11-year-old is a conservative as well because she has traditions. You know, there are things that she believes in that I hope I’ve had some input on,” she said. “And, you know, she has referred to the President as gollum, which I think is really clever for an 11-year-old.”

As noted by Tom Kludt over at Talking Points Memo, Gollum is “the spindly, bug-eyed creature from ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Bless your heart, Stacey Dash. You would find that impressive.

Read the rest at NewsOne.

Get It Together, Robin Thicke

Funny how time flies when you’re having fun enjoying the peak of your professional success while your personal life takes a private jet to total and utter failure, huh? I’ve read about your low first week sales of your please, baby, please-please-please-please-themed album Paula – about 24,000 in the U.S. and the embarrassingly low 533 copies in the UK, respectively.  As far as the new music and the publicity campaign launched in support of it goes, like I mentioned recently, I look forward to the Law & Order: SVU episode it’ll inspire. With that said, Paula Patton is gone so let’s focus on something you might be able to recover: your relevance as the White Mike of R&B.

I know as an artiste, you felt compelled to take your pain and use it to fuel your creative process. I don’t take issue with that as much as other people do, but I do agree at the core that your methodology is off. The same goes for the music, which you admittedly recorded in about a month. You know, this may be very laptop label head of me to say, but perhaps you’ve should’ve taken a lil’ longer to work on Paula.

Say, about as long as it takes for the cable company to finally cut off your service for failure to pay the bill. That’s like three months, right? Yeah, that would’ve been sufficient enough time. Then maybe you could’ve called Pharrell, Jazmine Sullivan, Nicki Minaj, Faith Evans, Lil’ Wayne and other previous collaborators to spruce this project up. Or hell, you could’ve tapped a psychic to help you ask Marvin Gaye for advice. That is, if he’s not somewhere in the afterlife cursing you smooth out.

In the interest of fairness, you were going to suffer a decline even if you got Aaliyah to sing the hook on your first post-Blurred Lines single. You essentially fell into the success you experienced last year, so in some ways, it’s shrewd of you to release an album that was going to bomb so you can chalk it up as a “passion project.” However, you went a wee bit to far with this simpin’, pimpin’ so let me help you with your next steps.

It may be too late for you to win back the Black woman you married, but try very, very hard to win back the Black women who you desperately need to stay afloat. I bet that mainstream success felt good for a while, but unless you want to become the white SisQó, you best let that go and chase the TV One-watching demographic that’s kept you in business all these years. Right now, most of them seem less than impressed with both you and your material. Singing about a Black woman’s alleged suicide attempt will spur that sort of resentment.

Suffice to say, you’ve got to stop acting like a singing street harasser. That said in the very immediate future, here’s what you need to do mostly: go the hell away for a while. After you finish your contractual obligations to promote this album no one is going to buy, go sit down somewhere and be quiet. Don’t do anymore interviews or take anymore questions online. As a matter of fact, the only person who should be allowed to ask you a question anytime soon is your divorce attorney.

While you sit down somewhere in silence, plan out your next moves. Email all of those people I mentioned and start sending them ideas. You can sing about sex because sex is amazing, but do not sing any line that could be determined as “rapey.” The last thing your career reads right now is another thinkpiece demanding that your balls be sawed off and thrown in the lake in honor of basic decency.

Read the rest at EBONY

[THE WEEKLY READ] To R&B’s Tragic Three

Given it’s been a minute since there’s been a new edition of The Weekly Read, I’m feeling generous, thus, treating y’all to a three for one. Consider this the literary equivalent of the Popeye’s Tuesday special, only I ate your biscuit and I don’t apologize for it. You didn’t need those carbs no way. In any event, this is an R&B dude themed starring The Alvin and the Chipmunks of R&B: Trey Songz as Alvin, Luke James playing the role of Simon, and Chris Brown giving a great impression of Theodore. And that’s no shade ‘cause I look exactly like Dale from The Rescue Rangers. All three have tried it as of late, so let us pray that they get it together…well, after I read.

Trey Songz:

Oh, bae Trey. You remind me of that scene in America’s Next Top Model where Tyra yelled at Tiffany, “WE WERE ROOTING FOR YOU! WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU!” What is this Trigga album supposed to be? It’s like one long song best described as melodic misogyny. Wait, I’m being rude. You keep remaking the same three songs, and to your credit, it hasn’t exactly hurt you. Insert a body roll to “Na Na” here.

However, I feel as though you are capable of more than cornball songs about “b*tches” and vulgar sex romps – all set to the same trap beat on the new project. Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate vulgarity and the sex songs they inspire, but you do remember you’re the guy who used to release songs such as “I Gotta Go” and “Can’t Help But Wait,” no?  Now you’re recording songs like “Smartphones?” Mr. Neverson, you have got to let “LOL :)” and “Say Aah” go. They were cute – for some people – but that’s done.

Also, we’re the same age, which means you’re entering your 30s this year so one would hope that your maturation level didn’t peak when you were in your early 20s rocking braids. You’re old enough to remember Jodeci, so you’ve got to recall that even their sex-fueled music encompassed variety. And despite my yearning to see him rot in jail and suffer a horrible depiction on Law & Order: SVU, even R. Kelly has managed to mix bumping and grinding subject matter with love songs, Sam Cooke impersonations, and fake inspirational songs that likely make Stevie Wonder go, “I mean…I guess it’s cool or whatever.”

Come on, Trigga, do better.

Luke James:

First off, Simon, let me be clear that as a Mariah Carey fan and someone who kept rewinding the opening scene of last week’s True Blood, I have no issue with miscegenation. I clocked the clap back you got on Instagram after posting a picture of your White girlfriend. Was it fair? No. People are petty, evil, and even if you personally have done nothing to them, select folks will project their issues onto you even if you’re not one of those Black men whose relationship girls are best described as “EWW, BLACK ICKY. WHITE YUMMY.”

And while you’re right about being human, which allows you to feel a ways when people come at you crazy, you are a human in 2014 i.e. do not upload anything on a public forum that is personal and may cause you to react. We all struggle with this, but as someone inching past celebrity-adjacent status, you have got to learn this lesson faster than others. Your fan base is primarily Black women, a group that very often sees the men they deem to be heartthrobs sharing their off-stage lives with women of other races—usually White ones. That is going to stir up some feelings and if you’re gonna do this fame thing, you have to handle that with grace.

Speaking of your fame, why isn’t there more of it? Forward this inquiry to your team and have them report back to me. I mean, you have a gorgeous voice and record R&B that actually sounds like R&B. And your music doesn’t scream “I hate women, especially my mommy.” You’re also not a bugawolf, so I do not understand the issue here. Is your Illuminati application on hold because you made Beyoncé mad on tour? If so, go bring her some vegan chocolate chip cookies and vegan macaroni and cheese (yes, it’s real, and it’s alright or whatever) and apologize. We gotta get you poppin’. We both know Trey Songz won’t be heeding my advice. Save us, my dude.

Chris Brown:

Breezy, unlike some folks, I have no issue with you growing your hair out and leaving the dye alone, gaining a lil’ weight and looking like the love child of Al B. Sure! and Walter Oats, but for the love of God, can you stay out of trouble?

Read the rest at EBONY.

Rick Perry Would Rather Spread Conspiracy Theories Than Shake President’s Hand…Again

Rick Perry  is the village idiot of gubernatorial politics. Those of us who unfortunately have become his victims during his king-like reign as governor of Texas knew about this long before he made a fool of himself in the 2012 Republican presidential primary, but as he looks ahead again toward failing in the 2016 presidential race, Gov. Perry is back on the fool train. Choo choo or whatever, y’all.

On Sunday, Perry served the girls conservative troll realness as he insinuated that President Barack Obama is purposely trying to fill the country up with undocumented immigrants during an interview with ABC News. When offered the chance to step two steps back from the crazy talk, Perry pressed on with the paranoia. Speaking to Martha Raddatz, Perry explained, “When I have written a letter that is dated May of 2012, and I have yet to have a response from this administration, I will tell you they either are inept or don’t care, and that is my position.” Rick Perry, whose solution to the drought in Texas was to pray for rain in stadiums, is calling another administration “inept”? Super.

Continuing on with his rant, Perry repeated the “inept” accusation and said it’s either that or “you have some ulterior motive of which you are functioning from.”

He went on to offer the following ominous warning (via Raw Story):

“Unless we secure our southern border, this is going to continue to be a massive amount of individuals that are coming to the United States. And, frankly, we don’t have a place to house them as it is. And if we have a major event, a hurricane that comes in to the Gulf Coast, I don’t have a place to be housing people who are displaced because this administration….”

Ever responsible, Raddatz interrupted Perry and concluded the interview with, “Okay, Governor, I’m going to have to stop you there, but thank you very much for joining us.” Mind you, days before this interview, Perry said to FOX News’ Sean Hannity, “I mean I hate to be conspiratorial, but I mean, how do you move that many people from Central America across Mexico and then in to the United States without there being a fairly coordinated effort?”

In other words, he very much wants to be conspiratorial. Hello, Republican primary voters, did that moisten your insanity enough?

When Perry isn’t talking crazy, he’s being disrespectful. In Texas for two days for private fundraising, the Obama administration extended an offer to Perry for him to greet Obama at the Austin-Bergstorm Airport. Perry’s response? I don’t want to shake your hand again, boy. No, thank you.

Read the rest at NewsOne.