Category Archives: music

What I Wrote Last Year About Rihanna’s #BBHMM

Rihanna BBHMM

Today I wake up to news that Rihanna and Drake are actually dating. I don’t know if it is really true. I just hope it leads to great music and internet memes.

Coincidentally, I read my Facebook post a year ago and it was about Rihanna’s video, “Bitch Better Have My Money“.

1) If the ‪#‎BBHMM‬ video came out a bit sooner, maybe Hannibal wouldn’t have gotten canceled.
2) One of her accomplices in the video is wearing a partial doobie wrap which Rihanna sported at an awards show in 2013. Nice callback.

3) Rihanna wears granny panties on her head in one scene of the video. (Gotta protect the black hair.)

4) I feel like Rihanna has a future career as a director once she’s done with all this music stuff.

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.

Gutted: Prince Is Dead


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.



Defending Drake and Awkward Black People


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.

Always on Point; Never On Fleek

When an old school hip-hop artist dies, it hits me hard. That’s the music of my generation, Generation X. When MCA (Adam Yauch of The Beastie Boys) died in May of 2012, I remember where I was. I was working at Chelsea Market working as a sales associate for a jewelry designer. I tweeted about the Beastie Boys while shoppers browsed the artisan goods. There was a DJ in the center of the market and he played some vintage Beastie Boys. I may have given him a nod in agreement from across the room.

Today I wake up to reading about the passing of Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor) of A Tribe Called Quest. This is a sad day. I was a devotee of A Tribe Called Quest. Their second album, ‘The Low End Theory” was a CD that I wore out. I especially loved Phife’s verses on “Butter”. Phife had an earnestness to his rhymes that I and many others appreciated. RIP Phife. You were always on point.

Anti-Consumerism Pop: Kreayshawn, Lorde, Lily Allen

When Kreayshawn came out with “Gucci, Gucci” a few year ago, there was much discussion about her authenticity. However, the content of her song were not discussed as much. Now, there’s Lorde and Lily Allen following in her footsteps and they cover similar ground with “Royals” and “It’s Hard Out Here”. There’s an air of arrogant anti-consumerism. Not everyone is into designer clothes and name-dropping brands. I don’t really care about red bottoms or Maybachs. Many hip hop artists have dropped the name of aspirational lifestyle brands in their lyrics. Some of their fans go out and buy it. Lyrics are not necessarily endorsements.The issue here is that artists like Kreayshawn, Lorde and Lily Allen are making the point that they don’t need to mention designer brand to make hit songs. They may wear them on the red carpet, but not include them in lyrics.


Book Recommendation: Typical Girls, The Story Of The Slits

I didn’t grow up listening to punk. I guess that they were punk rock enthusiasts in Birmingham, Alabama but I didn’t know them. For some reason, I didn’t hear about The Slits until I heard their cover of Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It through the Grapevine”. Then I promptly bought and immediately fell in love with their album, “Cut“. Last weekend, I bought Typical Girls, a book about The Slits, and I am in love with it too. Author Zoe Street Howe chronicles the squatter beginnings to the fame of this all girl punk band who were proto feminists, proto-Madonna, proto-riot grrl. I didn’t do Women’s Studies in college, but the story of The Slits is one to study.
I especially like this quote which was their ethos:

The Slits weren’t’ particularly interested in Women’s Lib, and their approach was ultimately more successful and less eroding on themselves: don’t get angry, don’t think about chauvinists, get on with what you want to do and as long as you don’t think they have any power over you, they won’t.

Niche List. April 23

abandoned stuff animals
This photo was taken on my block. Who abandoned the stuff animals?

Hester Street Fair opens this weekend. Now people in Manhattan will not have trek across a bridge to enjoy artisan food and overpriced vintage. 🙂

Cupcake Eating Contest at Ivy Bakery. I’m judging and will make sure that every crumb is eaten.

The Lascivious Biddies are playing Monday at Rockwood Music Hall on Monday. Wish I could see them, but have a prior engagement. You go for me!

Bonus: I was quoted in a Mashable article, Eight Social Media Strategies To Engage Multicultural Consumers.

Only In New York Happened In Austin

The Beatards
With tonight being my last night here at SXSW, I wanted to go see some bands.  First, I checked on Foursquare and Twitter to see where some of my friends were at, but my gut told me to strike out on my own in the hopes of something supercool. I did an IRL “StumbleUpon” when I read on a flyer that Miz Metro would be playing at midnight at the place called Club 115.  I saw Miz Metro speak last fall at a 140Conf Meetup. At the Meetup, she talked about how she is using twitter to grow her fan base as a artist.

So I was there catching Miz Metro performance when two of my friends showed up. Let me preface this by saying that I didn’t check in on Foursquare, so this was complete serendipity. Chris Sullivan (AKA Shockwave) and Jen Dunlap (AKA Funlap) walked in. I met their friend DJO. who also makes kimchi and he knows Cathy Erway who is a friend of mine. We were on a panel together on Saturday for TechMunch Austin.[It’s a freaking small world!]  DJO is the dj for The Beatards. They are bringing back the Brooklyn Old Skool hip hop energy with new school lyrics and beats.  They are like the Beastie Boys for this century.  Tonight was the first time I heard them and I love it! Shockwave get onstage and did a little something.

I had a fun time partying with friends that I don’t see that often in NYC.  It was the perfect button to this week here in Austin.

One Day Of SXSW Music and Film

On  East 6th Street

SXSW Music is like Mardi Gras without the parades and beads. All the bars have live music and several blocks of East 6th Street are blocked off to car traffic. The crowd for SXSW music is more international than the interactive.  Today, I saw two Canadian bands play, Born Ruffians and Plants and Animals.  I really dug Born Ruffians immediately after hearing the first song.

To me, they sound like Echo and The Bunnymen with a little bit of rockabilly and Celtic. Coincidentally,  the film I saw today that featured another Canadian band, Broken Social Scene. I went to see “This Movie is Broken“. It was a great film.  If you liked “Before Sunrise” or the more recent “Medicine for Melancholy“, then you will like this movie. I am not familiar with Broken Social Scene’s music other than one song I heard on a episode of “Grey’s Anatomy”, so it was cool to get a taste of the band and watch a love story unravel.