I had the pleasure of attending a pre screening for Girls Trip at The Whitby Hotel last week. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to see Black women on the big screen, cutting loose without concern for the White and/or male gaze. After seeing so many female iterations of The Hangover and shows like Broad City that feature White women in “unconventional ways,” it felt like Black women couldn’t do the same.
Confession: I have a really hard time listening to Up North music with Up North beats. Rather, I can listen to it in small doses, but it’s hard to really enjoy it. I’m not sure when this came about, because I remember the days when the North reigned as the supreme leaders of rap. That’s where it was born after all. I think the shift in the industry happened at the 1995 Source Awards, in the heart of the East Coast versus West Coast beef when one Andre 3000 said, “But it’s like this though, I’m tired of them closed minded folks, it’s like we gotta demo tape but don’t nobody want to hear it. But it’s like this: the South got something to say, that’s all I got to say.” That is arguably the catalyst to the South’s takeover of the sound and energy of rap music, which is still prevalent today.
As an Atlanta native, I look to music to be entertaining. I need to be tricked into the consciousness of your lyrics via Metro Booming or Zaytoven. If it’s a Saturday morning (when most Black people wake up to clean their homes) I’m not really trying to listen to you talk about how you’re regretful of that time you forced a chick to get an abortion over a string quartet my guy. I won’t get any cleaning done. I’ll end up doing a wall slide thinking about how that poor girl’s life might’ve turned out. In the words of Chris Rock, “If the beat’s alright, she’ll dance all night.” Hence, I have no patience for rap purists (Joe Budden and the like) who believe “real” rap music has to involve pain and struggle. I have to note that I rarely hear that from Southern rappers, where even the oldheads embrace younger artists. Groups like Migos and Rae Sremmurd, can flourish on a large scale, because they have the support of the South where we don’t mind just being entertained. To relegate black artists to expressing only one lifestyle is harmful to our growth as Black people, and our cultural influence for that matter. There’s room for expression of the Black experience on every part of the spectrum from gang culture, to the repaying of student loans. We are not a monolith and our music should reflect the diversity within our culture.
Requirements for real hip hop according to rap purists include:
-Rapper must be from the streets. To have sold drugs or still dabble in street pharmaceuticals is a plus.
-Must look dusty. If you look clean, you may be gay, and if you’re gay the rap world certainly doesn’t want anything to do with you.
-Beats chosen must evoke sadness, but must also be treated as an afterthought to the lyrics.
-Lyrics must use metaphors, similes, complex and simple rhyming patterns, and must be free styled. If you can’t freestyle, then you can’t rap.
-If you are a male, you must not be intersectional in your discussions on race and/or class. Black men are the only people who are suffering and everyone else must be an afterthought.
-Must praise and exoticize every race of women who aren’t black. Black women are meant only to be your first baby mama, who you will later degrade and disregard when a foreign chick deems you worthy.
-If you are a female you must talk about yourself in the most sexually explicit way possible for the first few years of your career. You must present yourself as extremely sexual and sexy, or the polar opposite, almost androgynous. There is no in between. This is the only way anyone will be interested in you as a lyricist. After you’ve proven yourself in that realm, then you can start rapping about what you want to, but you must take shots at other female rappers, otherwise you ain’t real. Because real hip hop is all about beef. You must be ignorant of the lack of privilege black women have in this world, and use every opportunity to tear the next female rapper down, because there can only be one.
-Speaking of beef. You must develop a certain level of paranoia and cynicism about the industry, which leads you to find enemies where there may or may not actually be any. You will need to take subliminal shots at other rappers, and see which ones stick in the blogs. No one, including you, should be able to pinpoint the exact source or cause of the beef, lest it lead to a truce. Because real hip hop is all about beef, even though two of the greatest rappers were murdered before they could squash their beef. And while the hip hop world will eternally mourn the loss of those artists, they will also hype you to end up in the same fate. You have to sacrifice your whole ass life to be real, and after you’re gone people will say what a shame it is.
-You must always be a struggling artist who is miserable. If you find joy or success in the world, then you’ve gone commercial, and lost your street credibility. And we all know how easy it is to feed your family based on street cred. Success makes you suspicious to those who never achieved it.
I am so elated at the news that Gucci Mane and his fiancé Keyshia Ka’oir are finally getting their own show. As a long standing fan of Gucci, save for that year or so wherein he dissed everyone he could think of, inclusive of my one and only Nicki, this is a long time coming. The show will reportedly follow the months leading up to their highly anticipated wedding day 10/17/17, because, of course. I have such high hopes for what we will see during the show.
First and foremost I am hoping to see a lot of dope cameos, including a reconciliation betwixt Gucci and Wacka. I need them to be on good terms for the culture. Surprisingly, I’m looking forward to Keyshia’s looks. I never fully understand them, but they are fun to look at nonetheless. According to all of the island gyals I know, that’s just how Jamaican girls dress. Very dance hall, colorful, and over the top. I’m on pins and needles just thinking what her dress will look like for the wedding. Will it even be a dress? Who knows?! I’m thinking we’ll get an MTV Cribs style look at both of their closets. I truly live for Gucci’s style. It’s a chicer version of hood rich fashions, i.e. heavy on the designer labels and very flashy.
As an aside, it’s
interesting frustrating to me when fashion magazines pick up on rappers like Gucci’s, sartorial tastes and discuss them in this surprising way. Fashion is a huge part of Black culture. The street dudes who have an eye for fashion are always taste makers. They have the cash (by whatever means) to afford high end designer digs, thereby creating these aspirational looks. So it should never be a surprise when street rappers are well versed in terms of fashion.
My biggest hope here is that Keyshia will teach us how to flip a check. I mean where is her New York Times Bestseller?!
Here’s my concern. I am still scorned by the debacle that was The Game. That show was just never the same after it went over to BET, so hopefully the good people over at Viacom step it up for the Wopster’s. They are after all Atlanta royalty, and even more so since Tiny and T.I. are on the skids. I want a Kardashian level budget. I want A1 production quality. I want Zayotven-produced transition music. I expect to twerk a little before each commercial break, and if I don’t I will be at the Viacom offices with picket signs.
Sooooo, has anyone caught a glimpse of Michelle Williams’ Instagram lately (the Black one, formerly of Destiny’s Child)? No? You didn’t even know she had one? Well you’ve been missing out, because the girl who was once the subject of #poormichelle is having a fashion glow up like no other. Out of nowhere she appeared on the scene giving you looks, hair, waistline, and poise. And these aren’t your run of the mill Fashion Nova, House of CB ensembles. Her looks make a bold statement with different colors, patterns, textures, and volumes.
I have written more bios, and About Me’s, and done more pitches about Not Carrie Bradshaw than I can count. My trusted team of advisers admonished me to do a video to give people a visual with a more in depth explanation of who I am, and what this site is really about. After all if Beyoncé has taught us nothing, it’s that people love a visual. Watch below!
The 2017 MTV Movie and TV Awards premiered last night. I have a confession, I didn’t watch. I have discovered a new love in the form of a cartoon called Young Justice on Netflix, and between that and the Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion, I just didn’t care. However, that didn’t stop me from having thoughts on the red carpet looks. After all, isn’t that what the internet is for? Giving us the opportunity to judge people we don’t know, at events we didn’t attend? Let’s begin, shall we?
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending my favorite beauty event of the year, the Essence Best in Beauty Awards held at the Sugar Factory in the Meatpacking District. There is just something about being in a room of women who look like you, and have a shared experience that gives you a sense of belonging and normalcy. This isn’t something I get to experience at my 9-5. This year’s panel discussion was hosted by Essence Magazine’s Beauty Editor, Julee Wilson with Vanessa Simmons and Zonnique Harris. While I enjoyed the conversation, and the lite bites, I have to admit the gift bags are a major incentive to attend. They literally give you the best in black beauty products. My favorite thus far is the Colgate Optic White toothpaste (I am convinced that, that paired with my activated charcoal are making my teeth whiter). I am also obsessed with mascaras, and I have tried many, but Essence really put me on game with COVERGRIRL So Lashy! Blastpro Mascara.
Some would call the Met Gala the biggest night in fashion, and with good reason. The Queen of All Things Luxury and Fashion, Vogue Editor In Chief, Anna Wintour, whom the Met’s Costume Institute was renamed after, invites the who’s who of high society out for a night that honors fashion. The purpose of the Met Gala is not just to give the have nots a reason to judge the haves, it’s to benefit the Anna Wintour Costume Center and to debut the newest exhibit installation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The theme of the gala is whatever the new exhibit is. Ideally everyone is to come in costume (operative word) in keeping with the theme. This year’s exhibit honors the work of Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, so everyone should’ve come either wearing the designer or the designer’s aesthetic achieved by another designer to pay homage. In essence, the Met Gala is a haute couture costume party.
While I always have a bit of a struggle with the exclusivity of such events, I rationalized it with the thinking that only the wealthiest and most influential people can be invited, because those are the only people who have the means to properly honor the night’s theme. This is an opportunity to really have fun, and do the absolute most with fashion, yet every year only a handful of people show up and actually do that. This breaks down the entire reasoning behind the exclusivity of the event. If Rihanna is the only person we can count on to show up and show out, then why are we all here? Granted a few others played along, but not all had the swag to really pull the looks off. Then there were celebs like Kim Kardashian and J. Lo who have proven over and over again that they are pretty, yet they show up like it’s just any other event. We know you’re pretty, we know you’re glam, why couldn’t you just play along for a fun night of avant garde fashion? For Anna Wintour to be rumored to be such a hard ass, I can’t for the life of me understand why she continues to invite people to the Met Gala who don’t do the theme justice. It’s all political I suppose. Deep sigh. Anyway, below are some of my faves, but I have to acknowledge Cynthia Erivo’s look which I only saw after the fact. She looked phenomenal.
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Men’s edition #MetGala faves. Shouts out to #Migos for making a song about #Versace and then being dressed by the house for the occasion. We shouldn’t be surprised to see rappers at major fashion events, because they influence the culture far more than they get credit for. #Diddy on the steps is my new mood goal for life. I can’t even deal with how well #michaelbjordan wears a suit. My goodness. #ramimalek killed it in all red; although, I would’ve liked to have seen a sleeker shoe. #maxwell #jadensmith #donaldglover #future
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