fashion \ music \ women

My Obligatory #LEMONADE Thinkpiece

Beyonce Lemonade

One of my most popular Facebook status updates went something like this:

You don’t have to have an opinion on everything.

I believe that to be true.  The only thing is that I rarely see people with dissenting  views from popular opinion speak up.  As much freedom as we have to say what we feel, many of us have been relying heavily on letting others do that for us.  Whether it is a retweet or share, it seems as though we have ceded our opinions to others who have either wrote it first or better.  Although I enjoy reading and sharing what someone has said more eloquently than I, I can’t silence myself in deference to others. So here are my thoughts on Beyonce’s LEMONADE.

Don’t worry. My thinkpiece is short.

It’s my opinion. It is my perspective and life experience. I don’t speak for all black women. In case you don’t know, black people are not a monolith, and especially not black women. I am happy that some black women feel vindicated, validated or (Black Twitter-verified) by LEMONADE, but I am not one of them.

First, if you plan on writing about this yourself, please heed the warnings of people who will let you know that everything is not for everybody. (Thanks, Very Smart Brothas!)

As Jasmine Masters from RuPaul’s Drag Race famously said “No Tea, No Shade, No Pink Lemonade”, I will pass on sipping Beyonce’s LEMONADE.

LEMONADE has merits. It is a visual album that has a tighter concept than  the previous Beyonce.

The cinematography is stunning. The production is great. The music is phenomenal.

However, the content is not my cup of tea. Calling out the messy details of your marriage may be cathartic, but it does nothing for me. Walking around with bat that says “hot sauce” is a bit on the nose.

My other complaint is that I abhor “plantation chic” fashion. I love a cotton dress, but dressing like a doily is not my thing. In fact, I wish the styling was more of the Afro-futuristic rather than antebellum.

I do like that Beyonce is stepping outside the comfort zone of a pop star, but LEMONADE did not resonate for me personally. I am not thirsty for LEMONADE and that’s OK. Everything is not for everybody. Furthermore, everything Beyonce is NOT for all black women.

music \ new york city

Gutted: Prince Is Dead

Prince

Life ain’t nothing but a muffin. We gotta lotta of butter 2 go.

The butter is gone. Prince is dead.  I love Prince.  His first radio hit, “Soft and Wet” was one of the first 45s I ever got. My Dad had a record store in the late 1970s -early 1980s, so I had access to a lot of music.  My Dad even took me to see Prince in concert during his Purple Rain tour.  I was probably too young to go, but my Dad took me and three of my friends to the concert.  It was phenomenal.

When I was high school, I went out to Los Angeles to spend two weeks with my cousins.  We screamed the lyrics to “Housequake” while riding rollercoasters at Disneyland.

In college, my freshman roommate was the biggest Prince I ever knew.   Her side of the room was full of Prince posters. She even went to Minneapolis for spring break.   I once saw her in the subway station years later in Harlem.  She looked the same.

I saw Prince again during the LoveSexy tour. When he performed “Anna Stasia” on the piano, it was magnificent.  This was modern day classical music.

I did not lose my virginity to Prince, but my sexuality was awakened because of his music.  Prince’s music made me want to receive pleasure and to be adored.  I even ask to be kissed on the back of my knees by a boyfriend because of a Prince lyric.  It didn’t do much for me, but I was bold enough to ask.

When I lived in Brooklyn,  my ex-boyfriend and I went to a Purple Rain sing-a-long in Prospect Park in 2009.

I also went to one of  Questlove’s Bowl Train night.  It was one in June 2012, where I danced the night away to deep cut Prince songs.

Although peak Prince’s popularity has ebbed and flowed over the last fifteen years, he never went away.  He didn’t ghost his fans. There was always new music, concert tours and appearances at awards shows. It is so hard to imagine living in a world where Prince is not here.  Prince taught me about myself.  I still need to know more about myself, but Prince is not around to teach me.  How do I learn now?  Part of me wants to withdraw.  Part of me needs to publicly grieve with the rest of the world. One thing I do know is that  I need to be fearless in creating.

 

 

art \ me

I Am An Amateur Photographer

Stylish Senior by Nichelle Stephens on 500px.com

I have been taking photos for years, but I didn’t get a good camera until 18 months ago when I got a Canon EOS.  Now when people see me, they assume that I am a photographer.   I often say “I am not a photographer; I just have a good camera.”  Well, I am actually an amateur photographer. I enjoy taking photos and I want to get better at it. One of my photos will be in a local exhibition, Span The Gap. This week I joined 500px and I am posting photos on there.

Medium Posts \ music

Defending Drake and Awkward Black People

drakehotlinebling

Note: I wrote this post back in October of last year.  This week Drake has dropped two new singles, but I am not sure if either will surpass the pop culture sensation of ‘Hot Line Bling’.

Do journalists who write about Drake actually know who Drake is? Or do they base their assumptions on what a stereotypical hip hop artist is supposed to be?

Thank goodness for pioneers like De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and even PM Dawn. Not every rapper is hard core. Not every rapper is angry and most importantly not every rapper is cool.

Like it or not, black people are actually burdened with the responsibility of being cool. Maybe it is because of musicians like Miles Davis, but it seems that defining coolness is something we black people have to uphold. We know the latest fashion. We create the newest dances. We coin the newest slang. However, we are not always “cooler than the other side of the pillow”. [RIP Stuart Scott]

Sometimes we are awkward like Awkward Black Girl. [Thanks, Issa Rae]

I read an article in the Washington Post reviewing Drake’s latest video, Hotline Bling. Writer Sarah Kaufman posits that Drake has taken “uncool too far” Huh?! If you are uncool, there’s no nadir of how far to go. She thinks Drake is being inauthentic.

Do we buy that? Part of the Question of Drake — an artist who’s particularly good at sparking annoyance– is his sincerity. Is he truly uncool (which is kind of cool) or does he just play at being uncool (which is pretentious)?

I disagree. If anything, Drake is even more comfortable in his music and in himself. He is more authentic, and his easy ability to be unapologetically uncool resonates with his fans.

Not everyone wants to be always cool to be with the cool kids. It’s a heavy burden.