Black Music Month 2019

I love the month of June. It’s not only the start of summer, but it’s a celebration of Blackness. This tends to be mostly due to the honoring of Juneteenth. There are so many events now hosted in cities across the nation, for Juneteenth. A holiday that was mostly ignored up until 10 years ago.  There are parades, festivals, BBQs…and a Becky better not call 911 on not a one 😉 June is also a fun month because it’s a time to pay homage to the musical contributions Black folks have made in this country.

I think this year, Black Music Month, is even more exciting with the recent success of Lil Nas X. A rapper who throwed everyone off with his country hit, Old Town Road.  When Billboard and people tried to dismiss the song as not country enough, and that Lil Nas X had no place in country music, folks started dropping facts left and right about the fact that country music was created by Black folks. Lil Nas X has a right to be in the space more than any white country singer living or dead (yeah, I said it!)

Besides the triumph of Lil Nas X, June highlights the return of three OG r&b goddesses in the game: Ciara, Kelly Rowland, and Mary J Blige. The singers combined total over 60 years in the music industry(!) All three ladies have dropped new songs within the last month or so. And they show, they still got it going on.

Ciara: At 33, CiCi, is the youngest of the trio. CiCi is also my girl crush. She exudes a natural sexiness. It must be that Scorpio vibe. I’ve liked Ciara since Goodies. She picked up where sadly, Aaliyah, was not able to complete. Ciara brought the eclectic dance movies, fun uptempo songs, and sleek style. Since then, Ciara’s albums have been hit or miss to me, mostly miss. I did think her album Ciara was pretty good. It had the cut “Body Party,” once again showing the sensual side of Ciara. But the album got bogged down in the Future nonsense. Y’all already know that gossip 🙂 Ciara didn’t really promote the album and it was quickly forgotten.

I think CiCi has bounced back with another solid album. Beauty Marks marks Ciara’s point in her career of transitioning into adulthood (married w/two children), self- reflection, and taking it to the next level.  Although, ironically, her song “Level Up” is the song I liked least on the album. It worked my nerves, but I got the gist of what she was going for. My favorite tune (and the best on the whole album imo) is “Greatest Love.” I think because, yet again, CiCi knows how to do sexy. That is her strength.

I definitely recommend Beauty Marks to bump in your ride this sizzling summer.

Kelly Rowland: The underrated star of Destiny’s Child (yeah, I said it!), released an EP of three songs. Yep, three songs. But they all jam. The Kelly Rowland Edition features “Don’t You Worry,” “Diamonds, and “See Me.” “Don’t You Worry” is the highlight of the EP. If Rowland doesn’t come out with a video for this song. I don’t know what to say.  It’s a perfect summer tune. These songs are just a teaser for a full album that will be released later this year. I can’t wait to see what Rowland brings this time around. If these songs are any indication, it’s going to be a hot album!

Mary J Blige:  And last, but never least, the Queen of all things…Mary Jane Blige. Yes, I am a MJB groupie (that’s why she has the biggest picture 😉 Mary has had it on lock for over THIRTY YEARS. I’ll never forget Mary’s debut on Video Soul (Gen-Xers know what I’m talking about), with “You Remind Me.” I liked her right away.  No, Mary isn’t the greatest technical singer, but she has that thang that makes you want to hear more.  She connects to her music and knows her audience. She takes neither for granted, for the most part. Now Mary is back with her umpteenth hit with a little help from Nas (I can take him or leave him).  She’s gearing up for her 16th studio album. I know she is going to bring the heat. She’s Mary J Blige. Duh!

“All those sad songs don’t break me/just gave me a record year/Ooh, ooh. Ooh, ooh”

 

 

 

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Eloquent Rage

A month or so ago, there was a huge debate regarding singer Bruno Mars. Mars, who has had a succesful run making r&b music,  was called out as a cultural appropriator. This shocked a lot of his fans. Usually, it’s white artists who are accused of cultural appropriation. Folks wondered how Mars, a man of color, could be considered a cultural appropriator. His fans pointed out Mars was of Puerto Rican descent, thus had enough Negro in him to sing Black music/use Black cultural images.

We Talked to the Woman Who Reignited the Bruno Mars Cultural Appropriation Debate

It was a YouTuber, Seren, who sparked the national conversation. I’ve been a follower of Seren on YouTube. While I don’t always agree with her, I find her to be a well-informed young woman. She’s passionate about her views, particularly the importance of maintaining Black culture/Black legacy/Black history…as it seems to be up for grabs to any/everybody these days. I really didn’t find anything wrong with her argument, so it was surprising when people reacted to her with hostility, even threats of violence. Some folks thought it was tacky she said she didn’t care if Mars ate a cake and died, or something to that effect. Umm.. I’m sure most of us have celebrities we don’t care for, that if they fell off the face of the earth, we would say “oh.” To me, her dis didn’t warrant the vitriol she received. So, what else could it be?

I was on a messageboard, when someone pointed out what I had been thinking, the hatred toward Seren seemed to be because she was a Black woman. I read several posts were people felt she was loud/stupid/had an attitude, stereotypical words used to describe Black women. Or basically, Ms. Seren didn’t know her place. It was fascinating to see the abusive language coming not just from white folks, but people of color (they failed like hell on their allyship to a Black woman) and even some Black people. Black women are never allowed to be angry. Even when that anger, was really in protection of what this young woman saw as an erasing of her culture/her people’s contributions to this racist country. She wasn’t saying some off the wall shit, she was stating facts. Folks just couldn’t handle it.

Continue reading “Eloquent Rage”

Girls Trip

Yes, I’m hella late. I normally avoid films like Girls TripI’m not really into comedies (or romantic films),  so I didn’t get swept up in the hype of the film. However, I was bored the other day, and decided to give it a shot.

It was pretty much what I expected…in the current wave of grown folks comedy (Hangover, Bad Moms).  But I’ll admit I did give a chuckle or two. It was unique to see this type of film from the perspective of Black women. I thought it was clever to set the storyline at the Essence Music Festival. Attending the Essence Music Festival, is on most Black women’s bucket list.

It was also nice to see a film for Black women Gen-Xers. In general, Gen-Xers tend to get lost in the shuffle of Baby Boomers and Millennials. I mean, we remember when New Edition really was a boy band. I’ll never forget a friend’s daughter watching The New Edition Story with wide eyes. She couldn’t believe they’ve been around since the early 80’s 🙂

A lot of attention has been given to Tiffany Haddish’s breakout role in Girls Trip. I thought her character was okay (“wild friend” trope). There has been much made about her rising comedic career. Actually, I think Haddish would make a great dramatic actress. There was something touching during her scene in the coffee shop, when she is talking to her friend. She says quietly,  “I know y’all just keep me around for laughs.” There was an honesty to her words. Especially, after learning more about Haddish’s traumatic childhood. As Haddish has shared, people who come from painful experiences often use comedy/attention as a way to cope.  I feel she has a lot of layers/complexity she could bring to a more serious film.

Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith, are Hollywood now.  It was bound to happen, but they will forever be in my heart as Cleo and StonyRegina Hall was Regina Hall. She plays the same character to me in every film she is in.

Several Black women who reviewed the film, talked about crying during Hall’s speech. It was cliché (the unhappily married woman finally has an epiphany), but it was still a nice message.

Basically, that we should be our authentic selves. Hall’s character was trying to hold onto an image for the public, but also to deny some truths to herself. Especially, in this age of social media/instant stardom, where we are often pressured to present a level of superficiality.  As well as to consume it. 

That’s how we got stuck with Trump for president. Folks were going off branding/sound bites/illusions of wealth. So we ended up with a guy running the country like a reality television show, but I digress.

I give Girls Trip a B-

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Girls Tripping

Surviving Compton

I’m a huge Mary J Blige (MJB) fan. I will never forget when her video debuted on Video Soul (old heads will know what I’m talking about). She had me at “you remind me…” So it pains me to have to besmirch her name. Just a little. While Blige has been credited with being the iconic voice of the merging of hip hop/soul music, spanning a 20+ career of record sells and awards, technically the honor should go to Michel’le.  Michel’le’s self-titled album was released three year’s before Blige’s in 1992. She really is the first r&b singer whose sound was heavily infused with hip hop music. This can probably be attributed to her boyfriend at the time, rapper/producer Dr. Dre.

Over the years, Michel’le has talked about her tumultuous relationship with Dr. Dre, stating he was very abusive towards her. When the film “Straight Out of Compton” came out last year, the allegations resurfaced. Most folks told Michel’le (and Dee Barnes) to shut up about their violent encounter(s) with Dr. Dre. Many felt that they should “let the past be the past” and that Dre had right to have his life story told.

Thank goodness neither Michel’le or Barnes listened to that nonsense. Barnes had an opportunity to tell her story via an online interview and now Michel’le will tell her side of things in the upcoming Lifetime movie, Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Me.” The movie will premiere this upcoming Saturday, October 15th.

Fitting it comes out during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Finally, one of the first female contributors to hip hop/soul music, is getting her due.