Monday, March 5, 2012

Closing This Blog

Hello, everyone who follows me on this blog. I am just letting you know that I will no longer be running this blog. It is too hard to do more than one blog, so I am putting all my attention on my Futuristically Ancient Blog ( If you want, you can switch over to that blog; it is on wordpress. Thank you all for following me. Bye.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Music Note #12: Bored Suburban Kids with Little Talent

Have you heard of Rebecca Black? Yeah, the Friday girl. Well, she is not only one. Actually, there is a several other young suburban girls from the Ark Music Factory. In our media and celebrity-obsessed culture where getting attention and fame is more important than talent, it is no wonder that these girls are being manufactured. Why not start them out young (obviously these girls have nothing better to do, like enjoy their teenage years), and the label is not wasting any time. You think Black is bad, just see this 12-year-old sex kitten wannabe, Jenna Rose. Where are her parents because this is close to selling your child into the kiddie porn business. "OMG" is the title of the song and it fits perfectly because I am sitting her with my jaw open. Using a Donna Summer "Bad Girls" reference does not help either. Can the music industry get any worse than this?

I feel genuinely sick...

Friday, June 3, 2011

Music Note #11: Beyonce and Rihanna: Feminism is Complicated

In the past two week, pop divas, Beyonce and Rihanna have released songs that have stirred controversy and further opened up the discussion about feminism and women's rights. Beyonce's anthem "Run the World" and Rihanna's "Man Down" coincidently came out around the same time, however the latter surprisingly for me turned out to be more meaningful and empowering than the former. I remember listening to both to Destiny's Child's "Independent Women" anthem in 2000 and loving that song, but when I hear "Run the World," I do not feel as strong of a reaction.

 First off, that song, which was written by Beyonce, even though it is not really progressive because it is equating full independence with being able to buy things (materialism), at least called us "women," not "girls." Also, the entire song could be used as an anthem, not just one line, which brings me to "Run The World." Yes, it also focuses on "getting that check," but Beyonce's song have never been the most progressive things in the world. However, besides a lackluster beat, which she used from Major Lazer's "Pon De Floor", a song that has a questionable video, and that The Dream actually wrote this song, not Beyonce herself, the song is not empowering to me.

The only part of the song that is worth it is "Who run the world? Girls!" and toasting to the college grads. What does the line "Make your check, come at they neck" mean and what does "Boy this beat is crazy/This is how they made me/Houston Texas Baby" have to do with anything? I also do not see how "I think I need a barber/None of these n****s can fade me/I'm so good with this/I remind you I'm so hood with this" or saying "f*** you, pay me" is empowering. She sounds like she is trying to do a role reversal with herself and her man, which I do not think is the point of feminism.

The video is not convince me to like the song better either. No, I do not care that the girls are in revealing outfits, even though I think that today the focus on many female pop stars is to come off as sexual and seductive, which can lead to objectification of women. Yes, the dancing is amazing, but the video just looks Mad Max-ish and the "girls" in the video do not look like they are running the world, but playing the seductresses in order to rule the world. Watch the "Evil Demon Seductress" video at Sociological Images to know what I am talking about. The guys in the video do not even look phased by them as the "girls" seductively dance their way to winning the world. Nothing about this song feels personal....

On the other hand, Rihanna's "Man Down" moved me. Generally, I do not like Rihanna's music all that much. There are a few songs that I do like, but her voice in general irritates me to much to care (it works better when she sings in reggae or in a slower style). However, I do not like the criticism that has come down on her because of the song and video. This is a a heartfelt song about a woman feeling grief and guilt over killing a man and the video portrays a woman who is sexually assaulted and kills her attacker. After Rihanna released the video, she received criticism for the violence against the man in this video, but what about the violence against the woman who he violated.

Yes, murder is wrong, but so is rape or any other kind of sexual assault, and Rihanna shows that in this video. This man took something from her and she ended up taking his life; it is a consequence  to his actions. Moreover, it is not as if Rihanna is showing a woman who is glorifying herself murdering someone; she is stricken with grief in the song ("I didn't mean to end his life/I know it wasn't right") and video. If you want that, go listen to the Dixie Chick's "Goodbye Earl." Revenge killing in music is nothing new, so stop unfairly judging Rihanna. Instead try to stop what causes people to do those killings in the first place. Even Rihanna brings up the idea of "blaming the victim" when she sings about now being a criminal for killing the man who assaulted her. This video is more personal to me because it shows how complicated life is and we often do things we regret even thought it was a reaction to someone else's actions.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Freakin' It: Betty Davis Retrospective at Schomburg

Hello, everybody! Sorry I have been missing in action for a while, but this semester was really hectic. But I am back and also with a new blog, Futuristically Ancient. Go check it out! I will be cross-posting that blog with this one. This one of the first posts:

Let's talk about Betty Davis. I know I should have posted this in March, but as you know school distracted me until now. But better late than never, right? Betty Davis is one of my favorite artists and when I heard about the concert on March 7th at the Schomburg Center, I jumped at the chance to go. Even better, my class happened to be canceled that day, so I didn't have to skip (Lucky me!).

As part of the Black Rock Coalition's spring music tributes, the lineup for the night included Tamar-Kali, KimberlyNichole, Joi, N'Dambi, Nucomme, and Alkebulan. The band included guitarists and singers Kat Dyson and Jerome Jordan. This was one of the best concerts I had attended; it was a beautiful tribute to a woman who has inspired many and receives little attention. The entire band sounded amazing and after a while I did not even care that the singers were reading the lyrics on the stands. All the performances were fierce, but the two singers who were the most fiery were Tamar-Kali, who was the co-musical director with Victor Axelrod (keyboard), and KimberlyNichole.

And for those of you who do like these performances, this saturday the Black Rock Coalition Orchestra is doing a tribute at the Schomburg Center to another singer I love, Sam Cooke. Just click on his name to buy tickets. Enjoy!

Here is Tamar-Kali, KimberlyNichole and Kat Dyson performing "Game Is My Middle Name"

"Game is My Middle Name" featuring Tamar-kali from Bill Bryant on Vimeo.

KimbelyNichole performing "If I'm In Luck, I Just Might Get Picked Up"

"If I'm Lucky I Might Get Picked Up" featuring Kimberly Nichole from Bill Bryant on Vimeo.

Tamar-Kali performing "When Romance Says GoodBye"

"When Romance Says Goodbye" featuring Tamar-kali from Bill Bryant on Vimeo.

Joi, N'Dambi and Tamar-Kali performing "Steppin' in Her I. Miller Shoes"

"Steppin' In Her I. Miller Shoes" featuring Tamar-kali, N'dambi & Joi from Bill Bryant on Vimeo.

Joi performing "Nasty Gal"

"Nasty Gal" featuring Joi from Bill Bryant on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Grammys: The Good, the Bad and the WTF?

Last Sunday's 53rd annual Grammys was a night full of surprises!

The Good:

Aretha Franklin Tribute: The show started with well-put-together tribute to the "Queen of Soul". Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, Yoland Adams, Martina McBride and Florence and the Machine's Florence Welch performed. While at times, the the notes were off and some of the girls screeched, I know they meant well. Yolanda Adams and Jennifer Hudson blew me away as usual and Florence Welch was surprisingly better than I thought she would be. Marina McBride sadly was a little flat and Christina Aguilera was trying way too hard. At least they sang some of my favorite Aretha songs!

Train won for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group for their song "Hey Soul Sister." That was a surprise for me because I didn't know Train had another album out and I've heard that song on commercials, not realizing it was them. I need to keep in the loop more.

Muse sounded great singing "Uprising". But now everyone including Glenn Beck (yuck) is saying Muse is calling for a "revolution." Or maybe it's the illuminati, haha!

B.O.B., Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae: B.O.B. was classy with his orchestra and monocle performing "Beautiful Girls", Janelle Monae stole the performance with "Cold War" and Bruno Mars tried with his "oldies but goodies" throwback to the Motown singing "Grenade, but sounded a little froggy. Sorry Bruno, still love you!

Seeing Jaden Smith make Justin Bieber's performance 100x better with his rap skills, however... (keep reading)

Bob Dylan, Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons almost convinced me to go pick up a banjo and head to the country. Still it did have its uncomfortable moments, like the mentioning of a noose in the Mumford and Sons' song.

Cee-Lo sang "F*** You" as Big Bird!!!!! Some said he looked like a Liberace peacock. I thought it was hilarious and fun, especially with the Muppets. And Gwyneth Paltrow wasn't bad...See Gaga, that is how you look weird and make it work!

Norah Jones, John Mayer (looking like Johnny Depp) and Keith Urban sang one of my favorite COuntry song "Jolene"...John I hope you know that this does not erase that we black women have not forgotten your white supremacist dick comment...

Esperanza Spalding winning Best New Artist was definitely a shocker. Most expected either Bieber or Drake, but the upright bass-playing Jazz artist snuck in and took it right from under them. To all of the Bieber and Drake fans who are asking who Spalding is and/or are mad she won, get over it and check her out. She is talented and you may learn something; be respectful and open your damn mind!

Mick Jagger and Raphael Saadiq paid tribute to one of my favorite Soul singers, Solomon Burke. I was so excited to see Mick Jagger in his first appearance at the awards show performing "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love." You should have seen me jumping around in my room! And it seemed as if Mick didn't want to stop jumping around either...all that energy for a 67-year-old!

The Bad:

Sorry to all the Lady Gaga fans, but the debut performance for her song "Born This Way" was weak! Besides the song sounding like a bad Techno mash-up of Madonna's Express Yourself" and "Vogue," the dancing was ridiculous. This is what makes me angry -- Lady Gaga does strange stunts like coming to the awards show in an egg, but her music does not live up to the hype!

Miranda Lambert basically was boring--I don't even remember the name to the song--That goes for you, too, Katy Perry.

Rihanna performed twice! TWICE!!!!!!! First with Eminem, who looked pissed off all night and then with Drake. Hearing her once was enough, thank you!

And finally The WTF Moments:

The overly-sentimental beginning of Usher and Justin Bieber's performance made me want to gag...A Lot! Also, what was with the mortal combat ninjas and drummers in Bieber's perfomance; were they to mask how bland he looks and sounds in real life?

Lady Gaga said she wrote "Born This Way" with Whitney Houston in mind. While she probably would have sounded better, was saying that necessary?

Teddy Pendergrass tribute...what Teddy Pendergrass tribute!!!!!!!!!!!! First of all you have a group named Lady Antebellum (a reference to pre-Civil War times) doing the tribute and it was ONE song "If You Don't Know Me By Now," which was done while he was in Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes. WOW!!!!!!

Why were Kings of Leon on the same stage as Miley Cyrus?

Hey Grammys, you left an artist out of the Memoriam to those who past....hello, Guru, rapper from the 90s, member of Gang Starr!

Arcade Fire won Album of the Year...this was a WTF moment only because after seeing Lady Antebellum win award after award, this woke me up!

Eminem was called, "The most dangerously talented man in Hip Hop history!" REALLY?!!!!! Either this shows how much other Hip-Hop artists are failing or how much amnesia we have when it comes to Hip-Hop history. Ever heard of Biggie, Tupac, Rakim, Kool Moe Dee, Chuck D, KRS-One, Mos Def, Jay-Z, I could go on!