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VIDEO KILLED THE INTERRACIAL RADIO STAR


It all started one night when I was sitting on my couch, listening to Terence Trent D’Arby. As a 28, going on 29-year-old, I was only a kid when his music was popular, but I still remember hearing his songs throughout the house as a child and watching his videos on MTV back when MTV actually showed music videos. As I listened to “Sign Your Name” (1987), one of Terence Trent D’Arby’s famous ballads, I decided to YouTube the video to further enhance my trip down memory lane.

 

* “Sign Your Name” – Terence Trent D’Arby (1987)

As I watched, the video portrayed the story of Terence, a mixed Black/White (Scottish/Irish) man who loved and lost a White French woman; their light-skinned, curly haired, brown-eyed child caught in the crossfire between the complicated love of two complicated adults.

Screenshots from official music video for “Sign Your Name” by Terence Trent D’Arby

 

After watching the video, I immediately thought to myself…

“How many other music videos highlight multiracial love?”

 

Continuing my late 80’s, early-90’s nostalgic journey, I thought about the catchy “Jungle Fever” (1991) by Stevie Wonder from the hit Spike Lee movie Jungle Fever and its story of an interracial relationship between a Black man and a White Italian woman in 1990’s New York City.

“Jungle Fever” – Stevie Wonder (1991)

 

In the late 90’s, there was the sexy futuristic video for “If You Can’t Say No” (1998) by Lenny Kravitz, where Lenny, a mixed Afro-Black/White Jewish man professed his love and loss for Mila Jovovich, a famous Ukrainian model and actress.

 

“If You Can’t Say No” – Lenny Kravitz (1998)

 

And of course, the video for “They Don’t Know” (1998) by Jon B., who everyone said “sounded Black,” but was a White man who displayed his secret love for a Black woman.

 

“They Don’t Know” – Jon B. (1998)

 

As for music videos showcasing interracial love into the 2000’s, many of us may remember Justin Timberlake’s video for “Like I Love You” (2000), his first single as a solo artist after leaving N’SYNC. The video showed him, a White man, trying to win the affection of a Black woman.

 

“Like I Love You” – Justin Timberlake (2000)

 

There was also the ballad “Lost Without U” (2007) by Robin Thicke, which featured then wife Paula Patton, as they engaged in a sexy flirtation. This music video also recounted a love that was lost between a White man and a mixed Black/White female.

 

“Lost Without U” – Robin Thicke (2007)

 

And most recently, Adele, a White British woman pined over a love lost with Mack Wilds, a mixed Irish/Afro-Dominican man, in her video for “Hello” (2015).

 

“Hello” – Adele (2015)

 

Despite these videos showcasing love and romance between interracial couples, they are predominately just a visual that comes with generic songs about love and heartbreak. The actual topic of interracial love is not overtly sung about. There are some examples, however, as few and far between they may seem. Auburn, a Black female rapper from Minneapolis, has received negative feedback by rapping about her Asian boyfriends and using Asian men to portray love interests in many of her music videos. In her song “My Baby” (2013) Auburn states,

“I know people look at us and they wonder why we’re attached because our skin don’t match.”

 

“My Baby” – Auburn (2013)

 

Other noticeable songs from the 2000’s which explicitly discuss the intricacies of interracial love are “Long Way To Go” (2004) by No Doubt front woman Gwen Stefani and member of Outkast, André 3000. The two sang about how love is love, regardless of color, but how society still has a long way to go to fully embrace the notion of colorblind love.

 

“Long Way To Go” – Gwen Stefani feat. André 3000 (2004)

 

There is Alicia Keys “Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” (2009) which directly expressed what it was like to engage in an interracial relationship when such an idea was still very taboo.

 

“Unthinkable (I’m Ready)” – Alicia Keys (2009)

 

And lastly, Robin Thicke’s “Dreamworld” (2009) which has Robin dreaming of a world where he states, “There would be no black or white, the world would treat just treat my wife right, we could walk down in Mississippi and no one would look at us twice.”

 

“Dreamworld” – Robin Thicke (2009)

 

It is interesting how the videos for the songs I have mentioned which feature multiracial love are stories of love that was lost, stories of heartbreak and misery. The stereotypical tragedy of mixed-race plays out even in mainstream music. How come we do not see music videos where multiracial love flourishes? How come we do not hear more music about interracial love from a variety of perspectives, not just couples who are Black and White? Why are artists not singing about multiracial love in general? And why does interracial love have to be so difficult, even within the language of music, which is supposed to heal all when other remedies do not work?

 

The acceptance of multiracial and interracial relationships are higher than ever before, yet, popular music has yet to catch up to the claim. This all may be a moot point now that music videos are not what they used to be. Maybe a resurgence of the music video in the future will help propel interracial love into a new spotlight. Thankfully, interracial couples are still being seen in the media, from TV commercials to clothing ads. But it would be great to turn on a good song knowing there is a music video somewhere out there showcasing the beauty of multiracial affection, to see that multiracial love is not to be lost, but that it can be held onto long after the music fades.


NOTES:

*The original music video is no longer available in this country. The version of the video provided is a live version of Terence Trent D’Arby performing “Sign Your Name” live at The Roxy in 1988.

**Image from Google Images.

***Image from Instagram.

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IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE


IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE via Swirl Nation Blog

The new album from Lebanese composer and oud player, Marcel Khalife, is purely magical.  I close my eyes and can feel the desert breeze caressing my sun-scorched face.  I cannot help keeping time to every drum beat with my hips and tears fill my eyes from pure love, passion, longing…

IN MY HEADPHONES: MARCEL KHALIFE'S ANDALUSIA OF LOVE via Swirl Nation Blog

I don’t speak Arabic.  I know the curse words, but even those I say incorrectly.  You don’t need to know Arabic to feel the emotion in the words and rhythms of Khalife’s songs.  If you are not into world music, or venturing out of your normal realm of familiar music, this album might not be for you.  If you love dreamy melodies and songs that tell a story, this album could be for you.  The story, the drama, is in the music, and it is meant to be felt.

Andalusia used to be home to Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  For centuries, they lived in peace together.  This album conjures that optimism and reminds us it is possible.  Although Khalife is Christian, his lyrics come from the late Palestinian-Muslim poet, Mahmoud Darwish.

In melding faith, culture, and language, Khalife also brings together jazz, classical, and traditional Middle Eastern sounds to this album.  And true to his message of remembering a time when faiths lived together in harmony, the combination of music genres works together to create something beautiful.

The album feels like an opera, you might want to listen to one song alone, but you know the experience is richer if you listen to the whole album – beginning to end. 

My favorite way to experience a culture is through food, but if the food is not readily available, music is the next best thing.  Music humanizes, it transcends boundaries, so let the dream begin, and be transported…


 

 

 

 

 

 

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IN MY HEADPHONES: BRUNO MARS


IN MY HEADPHONES: BRUNO MARS via Swirl Nation Blog

I LOVE Bruno Mars, his energy is contagious and I think he's an amazing performer. Bruno is from Honolulu and his name is actually Peter Gene Hernandez. He is Multiracial, his father is half Puerto Rican and half Ashkenazi Jewish and his mother is Filipino and Spanish. At the age of two, he was nicknamed "Bruno" by his father, because of his resemblance to professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.

I was Hulu-ing SNL last night and was so excited to see him as the musical guest because my daughter and I have been singing 24k Magic constantly the last couple weeks.

The sound of 24k Magic reminds me of 90s break dancing and definitely has a big dose of retro in it. If you listen to it once, you can basically sing along almost every word the second time around! Billboard puts it far better than I ever could:

“24K Magic,” which corrals Grandmaster Flash, Zapp & Roger, Rick James and the whole of G-funk into three minutes and 46 seconds, while adding some modern ornaments (“Got to blame it on Jesus / Hashtag blessed!”) for good measure. Mars, who grew up impersonating Elvis Presley and started his career as a songwriter for other artists, has become a superstar thanks to a knack for channeling different pop eras through his warm, expressive persona. Yet only recently have his gestures to the past become so explicit that a new single can produce memories of several classics upon first listen.

His SNL performance did not disappoint! Why you mad? Fix yo face! is without a doubt my favorite lyric:) Here is his live performance and then the official music video for the song is below that. 

 

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#NoMakeup


#NoMakeup via Swirl Nation Blog

I am a huge fan of Alicia Keys right now. Not only did she kill it at the DNC but she has also started a revolution of her own. I’m talking about her no longer wearing any makeup, the #NoMakeUp campaign.

It might sound trivial and of no importance, because I mean really who cares if a celebrity is wearing makeup or not? There’s a lot that’s going on in this world that, yes, is way more important. However, her message speaks volumes to women everywhere.

Ms. Keys is basically sticking it to the man, and she’s sticking it to him good. Her protest of sans makeup is giving women everywhere liberating freedom from hours and money spent on applying their face. Myself included. As an actor I strive for perfection, I want to look my best – and I’m not gonna lie I have always enjoyed trying out new cosmetics. It’s fun. My face is a canvas upon which I can express my inner conscious. Am I feeling edgy today? Or more playful? Depending on my mood I can create an image to fit it. Or depending upon the audition or show I can make myself appear more “Ethnic” or “White”. But this gets so tiring. Why should I have to conform to society or the entertainment industry? Why can’t I just be me?

#NoMakeup via Swirl Nation Blog

Alicia Keys recently wrote an essay on her process to get to #NoMakeup on Lenny, and I have to say it’s pretty damn brilliant. She states “I hope to God it’s a revolution”. I believe it is. You have given women the courage everywhere to say “No”. No, I will not conform. No, I do not need makeup to be considered beautiful. This is me and if you don’t like it you can suck it!

I encourage women everywhere to embrace the #NoMakeUp. I’m not saying you have to do it every day but try it out! It’s liberating and your skin will probably thank you for the break. Beauty is skin deep. You don’t need airbrushed perfection to be beautiful because you are beautiful. Embrace your inner goddess, embrace yourself.


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NEW NIKE SPOT 'DA DA DING' FEATURES LEADING FEMALE, INDIAN ATHLETES


NEW NIKE SPOT 'DA DA DING' FEATURES LEADING FEMALE, INDIAN ATHLETES via Swirl Nation Blog

I am totally in love with the new Nike spot 'Da Da Ding' by ad agency Wieden+Kennedy India. W+K has long been Nike's ad agency, but this is the first spot out of the India office. The commercial was directed in a music video style by Francois Rousselet. The beat and the music is amazing, at first I thought it was a Neptunes/Missy collabo but it is actually the rapper Gizzle and producer Gener8ion

The Creative Director on the commercial, Mohamed Rizwan, said in a statement: 

"Sport in India has a massive image problem, particularly for women. What we set out to do is give it a complete makeover by making it cool, accessible and fun. To that end, we commissioned some of the best image makers and musicians, and got together a crew of women that best represent sport in India right now."

The tone is energetic and uplifting. I love sports and I love to watch badass women breaking stereotypes. It is important for young girls to see strong women from their country, from their cities, destroying barriers and building confidence through sports. 

Actress Deepika Padukone, who played national-level badminton before taking the plunge into acting confirms this message by sharing, 

“Everything I am today and everything I have achieved comes from my years of playing sport. My goals, my commitment, my focus, my dedication, my discipline, my sacrifices, my hard work. All of it, I’ve learnt it all through sport. Sport has also taught me how to handle failure and success. It has taught me how to fight. It has made me unstoppable!”

One part of the video I felt was particularly impactful was when they zeroed in on one of the female athlete's tanned face with the lyric: 

"I ain't worried about getting a tan because I'm still just as beautiful man." 

In many cultures of course lighter skin has been established as what is more beautiful and therefore girls playing outside all day in the sun has been frowned upon. I love that this issue was addressed. 

NEW NIKE SPOT 'DA DA DING' FEATURES LEADING FEMALE, INDIAN ATHLETES via Swirl Nation Blog

Here is the group of women featured in the ad: 

The featured athletes L to R: Joshna Chinappa, Shweta Hakke, Rani Rampal, Gabriella Demetriades, Ishita Malaviya, Jaie Bhadane, Deepika Padukone, Naina Mansukhani, Swetha Subbiah, Jyoti Ann Burrett and Tanvie Hans. 

The featured athletes L to R: Joshna Chinappa, Shweta Hakke, Rani Rampal, Gabriella Demetriades, Ishita Malaviya, Jaie Bhadane, Deepika Padukone, Naina Mansukhani, Swetha Subbiah, Jyoti Ann Burrett and Tanvie Hans. 

And if you are like me and can't get enough of that beat here is the song on Soundcloud! 


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MEET SILVERLAKE-BASED INDIE SONGWRITER DUO, PUBLIC ART


It's always exciting to get to share the talents of friends and this is no exception. In April we featured singer Stevvi Alexander, today we get to share with you her newest project, Public Art. 

Public Art is a Silverlake-based indie songwriter duo. Its members, Stevvi and Jan, have been in demand as hired gun musicians for artists including Fleetwood Mac, Frank Ocean, Shakira and The Roots. They finally decided to join forces and make their own noise. 

If you like what you here we urge you to support by purchasing their music on iTunes! You can also follow the duo on Instagram


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WHY TORI KELLY DOES NOT NEED A "PASS" OR "PERMISSION"


WHY TORI KELLY DOES NOT NEED A "PASS" OR "PERMISSION" via Swirl Nation Blog

So I want you take a look at the long, varied, and mixed responses to Tori Kelly’s beautiful tribute to Prince at the BET Awards that occurred this past Sunday.  Maybe you were a tweeter, a commentator, or a person who was scratching your head wondering who Tori Kelly is and why is she doing the tribute. This is understandable since she is an artist still on the rise in the industry and only has had a handful of hit singles you may have heard on the radio. However, this isn’t a debate on how relevant she is as a musician or what accolades she’s acquired to sing in a Prince tribute.

The ongoing problem I have had with people’s responses to Tori Kelly is that they immediately label her White because she appears to be White with blonde hair, or claim to give her a pass because she has a soulful voice. She’s been lumped with artist like Robin Thicke (White) and Justin Timberlake (White) who additionally have vocal range, deep, beautiful voices and are given a societal passes to perform traditionally black artist hits or tributes. What’s the problem with this you may ask? Tori Kelly is multiracial and does not fall into the same cultural category as either of these artists.

Now I’m not going to make any statement or argument on whether being White, Black, Asian, etc. should you prevent you from performing any tribute or any specific network cause I don’t think race should ever be a factor. I love music, and if you can sing then please do so, my ears appreciate it. My issue is that the running commentary on Tori Kelly, which had her become a trending hashtag for the night, was centered on debates regarding her cultural heritage and how that did or did not deem her worthy of this tribute. I even read some commentary focused on her multi-ethnic heritage and how that counted, but not really.

This discussion has been a running one for a long time with multiracial people and where we belong. Tori Kelly is a prominent musical artist with what some could deem the “whole package,” and her voice is what allows her to sing on multiple musical networks-not her race. She is Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Irish, and German, yet visually some audiences see white skin, blonde hair and write her off as another Britney. If she cannot perform an authentic Prince tribute on diverse networks like BET because she’s not fully black, does that mean we are chaining her to sing on the MTV wagon wheel forever? Kelly admits to speaking Spanish, but not well so guess we can’t put her on Univision either? And technically she’s not white- so she couldn’t grace the CMT stage either, right?

I’ll not list her numerous accomplishments she’s garnered ranging from music award nominations with MTV, People’s Choice, Teen Choice, and being Grammy nominated for 2016 Best New Artist. Tori Kelly does not need your pass or permission to sing on any network or any performance and shouldn’t be picked apart because of what she represents culturally. Appreciate her voice and revel like many of us do in her talent, but don’t write her off because she appears white or say that it’s okay she sings on BET because she has “some black in her.” Multiracial people don’t need your validation or permission to represent our authentic selves and this is important to keep in mind next time you want to give someone a pass for anything you deem specific to only one culture.


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ALICIA KEYS AND HER #NOMAKEUP MOVEMENT


ALICIA KEYS AND HER #NOMAKEUP MOVEMENT via Swirl Nation Blog

Alicia Keys is done covering up.

“Not my face, not my mind, not my soul, not my thoughts, not my dreams, not my struggles, not my emotional growth. Nothing,” she said. 

In a world of contouring, filters and extreme plastic surgery Alicia has decided to go in the opposite direction. I applaud her for uncovering in an industry where often times looks seem to be equally weighted to talent, especially for female artists.

Is it just a marketing move for her new album? I hope not, but I have to say it makes her stand apart from the army of pop star clones and that is refreshing. It makes me want to share her music with my 12 year old daughter and show her that someone with exceptional talent such as Keys is 1,000,000x more compelling and aspirational than many others in this Kardashian obsessed world.

Alicia explained that this movement was ignited by "a totally raw and honest photoshoot for her new album" with photographer Paola Kudacki.

Keys, arrived on-set from the gym with no makeup on and a sweatshirt — a look she called  a “quick run-to-the-shoot-so-I-can-get-ready look” — ended up staying in that exact look for the shoot. 

“I swear it is the strongest, most empowered, most free, and most honestly beautiful that I have ever felt,” she said of the experience in an essay she wrote on the website Lenny.

Personally I also feel empowered the more stripped down I am. Outside laying on the beach, sun on my skin, hair textured from a mixture of sand and salt water- that is when I feel most beautiful. But I also appreciate the art of makeup, using it as another means to express your creativity. I think it's a healthy balance of knowing that covering up isn't necessary. A woman should feel equally strong and powerful no matter what she chooses to adorn her exterior with. 

What are your thoughts on the #NoMakeup movement? 

 

You can see Alicia’s new video below:


 

 

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Korean Rapper Dumbfoundead Tackles Hollywood Whitewashing In New Music Video


Korean Rapper Dumbfoundead Tackles Hollywood Whitewashing via Swirl Nation Blog

This music video is EVERYTHING. Kudos to Korean rapper Dumbfoundead for having the guts to tell people how it really it in the United States for Asians. Specifically Asian males. 

In his newest video called "Safe", he explores Hollywood whitewashing, and what it means to be Asian. Name the last time you saw an Asian male play the lead in a major Hollywood blockbuster? You probably can't, and that's just sad. 



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IN MY HEADPHONES: SADE LOVE DELUXE


If you read my bio, you know I spent all of elementary school in Germany.  Seeing and experiencing Europe were primary goals my parents had for us kids, so we traveled a lot.  The preferred mode of transportation: by car.  I have many memories of our road trips.  I have many memories of listening to the same four cassette tapes over and over: James Taylor, Steely Dan, and two albums by Sade.

I will admit, as a child, I did not fully appreciate Sade’s music.  I knew I liked her velvet-y voice, but I probably heard the song “Your Love Is King” one thousand times between the ages of 6 and 12.  I always felt it was a compliment when my parents’ friends would say I looked like a little Sade.  My mom started having my hair relaxed when I was eight years old and I always wore it like the songstress: pulled back in a low ponytail. It wasn’t until we moved to the United States, the invention of the compact disc, my dad’s discovery of a 1988 album, and the release of a new album, that I learned to fully love Sade.

At 12, I was just beginning my angst-y preteen/teen-aged years.  MTV and BET ruled my universe.  I alternated between listening to Arrested Development and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.  However, in the background, my dad was listening to this song that I secretly loved by Sade: Stronger than Pride.  Her voice, the percussion, the sweet guitar towards the end that has nuances of pain.  The song resonated with me.  I had never been in love, but the song vicariously let me feel the struggle.

Sade’s Stronger than Pride (Audio):

That summer, Sade released Love Deluxe.  I loved every song on this album.  The videos for this album were in constant rotation on MTV and BET, so it was ok that I liked Sade (I was 12, so I cared what people thought).  Who can forget her “Ordinary Love” video?

Sade was also so beautiful.  I loved her hair.  Again, her voice.  I was beginning to grasp what she was singing, the metaphors, the pain.  It was also the first time I correlated artistry with music.  Half-Nigerian and half-English, Sade Adu moved to the UK at 4 from Nigeria and has always been aware of social issues and sings about them.  In 1992, Sade juxtaposed first-world problems with a Somali woman’s real problems in her song “Pearls”.  I always remember these lyrics when I complain about something trivial:

 

“She cries to the heaven above
There is a stone in my heart
She lives a life she didn't choose
And it hurts like brand-new shoes

Hurts like brand-new shoes” 

 

Eyebrows on fleek in 1992:

IN MY HEADPHONES SADE LOVE DELUXE via Swirl Nation Blog

Love Deluxe was so deliciously 90s.  I loved it. 

It would be 8 years before Sade would release another album.  Lovers Rock would become the wedding song of 2001.  I did not listen to the whole album.  By then, I was knee-deep in The Postal Service, Air, and Zero 7.  I also didn’t listen to her follow-up album, Soldier of Love released in 2010.  Writing this post has reminded me I need to re-visit the works of Sade and Love Deluxe will always have a special place in my heart.


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IN MY HEADPHONES: DRAKE


To go from this...

To go from this...

So… Drake is not obscure.  He is not new.  He isn’t part of an unknown genre.  He is unapologetically mainstream.  And he is my guilty, very, very, guilty, pleasure.

I typically listen to Drake when I work out, need to get sh*t done, or when my kids are not in the car and I want to sing songs about sex with horrible curse words.

Ay dios mio… guilty pleasure…

To this...

To this...

I’ve burned probably 100,000 calories to his music.  I can pump out like 5 extensive Excel spreadsheets in an hour to his music.  And I love bad bitches when I’m on vacation with my girlfriends (and obviously, they are not my f-ing problem).

Oy ve… guilty pleasure…

What can I say?  Drake.

To collaborating with one of the hottest women in the world...

To collaborating with one of the hottest women in the world...

He makes me blush and feel like a bad ass at the same time.  When I listen to Drake, I can imagine being in a strip club, popping bands, and throwing “hunneds”, and telling the strippers they deserve it.  When I listen to Drake, I am ok with being the furthest thing from perfect.  I mean, I’m drinkin’ (on the weekends), but I’m not smokin’, f*ckin’, plottin’, schemin’, or getting’ money (well, I’m “gettin’ money”, but not Drake money). 

By now, everyone should know that Drake started his entertainment career on Degrassi.  His mom is Jewish.  His dad is Black.  He’s been “mitzvah’d”.  He did not grow up underprivileged, lead a life of crime, or battle drug addiction.  Not to generalize most rappers, but many have the aforementioned background.  Drake grew up middle-class in Toronto.  As in Canada.  That country located just north of us.  Americans make fun of their idiosyncrasies. 

Everything about Drake suggests he should be the most uncool person in the world; however, he openly raps about his background.  He raps about starting from the bottom, playing soccer, making chump change as an actor, then buying his mom a house and flying private.  He also raps about puppy love and past girlfriends.  Which to most men, is very “soft”, but it built up his female fan base.  And to appeal to the male base, he raps about loyalty to his boys and cockily proclaims he is a legend.

The man knows how to laugh at himself.  I love this.  He doesn’t take himself seriously.  His horrible dancing in “Hotline Bling”, made him an internet sensation and he went along with it.  I will never know if he was serious with the video and his dance moves, but I do know the video looks better when he is holding a light saber.  From SNL skits to T-Mobile commercials, this man is not only milking it, but he is having fun.

All of that aside, when you listen to his lyrics, they are all clever.  His lines are up there with “Girls pee pee when they see me” (Notorious B.I.G.).  I mean, how do you come up with words like “Somewhere between psychotic and iconic, somewhere between I want it and I got it”; or “Every girl I meet thinks I’m f*ing groupie hoes; The honesty of my music has left me too exposed”.  And he is always exposed.  When he writes about past relationships, did he do it after drinking a bottle of wine?  Whatever, it makes him more relatable and his success almost attainable.

So yes, I couldn’t have picked a more commercially successful person at the moment.  Drake is probably passé and I honestly don’t know how much longer his reign as the King of Hip Hop will last, but I do know I can watch him dance with a light saber like, 50 times a day…

He is living the American (uhh… Canadian) dream…


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NOT FEELING "FORMATION"

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NOT FEELING "FORMATION"


"Formation." Watched with horror and turned it off less than half way through.

"My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana. Mix that Negro with that Creole, make a Texas bamma."

Grrrr...Ugh. My poor family was soon subjected to my rant about Queen B diminishing the Creole legacy, gyrating in the hallway set in a fine Louisiana mansion. I am Creole--family from Gretna and Algiers. My great-grandmother Josephine, her sister Marguerite, grandmother Jeanne, mother Florence. We have more Pierres and Maurices in our family than I can recall. Grandma spoke French, played piano, had a master's degree in English. She was elegant.

BEYONCE FORMATION via Swirl Nation Blog

Seeing Bey do her work on a set that represented what is regal and dignified about my history smacked of coonery. I was not happy to see Blue Ivy's mother in a ruffle-neck, long-sleeved, cleavage-bouncing leotard on the dimly lit, ornate set. "She's debasing our history," I said in a call to my mentor, a 70-year-old cultural critic for the New York Post  and author of eight books. He hadn't seen the video but quickly put it into perspective. "She is in the business of being watched. And vulgarity gets people's attention." Our conversation was so enlightening, I recorded it. My thoughts and feelings validated by one of the black community's most respected elders.

 

An hour later Jen texted me to write about "Formation" for this blog. Timing is everything.

 

I watched the video all the way through, spent two hours reading and watching reactions from various points of view. Everything I read/saw was in complete praise of Beyonce's artistic expression and unabashed acceptance of her blackness. And I mostly agree with the positive commentary. Partially because I refuse to be a Beyonce-hater. That woman has worked more than any of us can imagine and she has earned the right to do and say whatever the hell she wants. But I was still a bit stuck--on the leotard. She does it/wears it better than anyone ever has. But I hope she never does it again. It's not original anymore. Not for her. She and her hubby bail protesters out of jail and donated $1.5 million to the #BlackLivesMatter movement (I have mixed feelings about this movement but that's another blog). Bey herself built a $7 million homeless shelter in Houston. Enough with twerking in leotards--it doesn't suit her anymore. She's too deep for that.

 

Here's the issue:  My line of thinking goes directly against what "Formation" represents. My conservative militant stance takes an "L."   MSNBC.com's Melissa Perry-Harris oozed, "In just under five minutes she somehow managed to use her black girl magic to read our minds and tackle all those complicated questions of race and justice in one Beyonce video to rule them all." I'm clearly on the wrong side of this argument.

 

BEYONCE FORMATION via Swirl Nation Blog

Why do I even care? It's just Bey's way of entertaining and expressing HER art. Beyonce's overall message for the black community is so powerfully positive that I know I need to let it go. Especially since in my younger days I spent three years on the sidelines of Texas Stadium in white hot pants and go-go boots. Who am I to talk? 

 

But there's something special about Beyonce. She's so beautiful and so talented and so smart and I don't want to see her humping air in a leotard anymore. I don't want to see her humping at all. Ever again. 


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IN MY HEADPHONES: N.E.R.D.

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IN MY HEADPHONES: N.E.R.D.


Chad, Pharrell and Shay

Chad, Pharrell and Shay

I've been a huge N.E.R.D. fan for years and years. Back when I lived in Denver I went to 3 or 4 of their concerts and the energy that Pharrell, Chad and Shay have on stage is infectious. Recently I started listening to their music again and in my opinion it's just as fresh and unique as it was in the 2000s. 

N.E.R.D. stands for No-One Ever Really Dies and they have a hybrid sound that blends rock, funk and hip hop. My favorite songs of theirs are Rockstar, Lapdance and She Likes to Move- they are all pretty explicit so I only get to listen to them when I'm solo in the car:). 

The 3 group members all grew up together in Virginia Beach, VA and spent their early years making music in Hugo's garage. These days of course Pharrell is everywhere with Happy, The Voice, and all of his business ventures. Chad has been working in music too since N.E.R.D. stopped performing, he is the other half of The Neptunes with Pharrell and works with many other groups and DJs.  Shay stays away from the spotlight these days and recently got married. 

I hope all 3 get back together and make some music soon! 



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