Hit us with another surprise, visual album. In the form of a world premiere event on HBO. Unlike the BEYONCÉ all the videos apart of the newest release flow together as a short film a musical of sorts strung together with poetry, written by Warsan Shire, recited by Queen Bey herself. It is called Lemonade, and it has changed the world. This film is about love and all love truly is, from the perspective of a Black Woman. She incorporates er culture, where she is from and her family. Though being a reflection of Bey's personal life, this film is for all of us Black Women.
To watch and listen, it is available on Tidal and iTunes.
Here is the perfect description I could find:
Here is a look back on the greatest musician who ever lived's Super Bowl halftime show performance
4/20, April 20th, is the unofficial official celebration of marijuana. Everyone smokes weed and gets high, people have parties and celebrations, it is a real holiday for many. On this day the very hip very current Snapchat app, which allows users to post photos and videos that expire after 24 hours with cool filters and graphics, added a Bob Marley filter. The filter is apart their newest filters which use face scanning technology to distort one's face or make it look as if they are wearing something(a cool headdress, make-up, etc.) while using the front facing camera. The Bob Marley filter makes user's faces look like Bob Marley's complete with brown skin and long locks.
Unfortunately, the musical legend known for making Reggae music a global phenomenon with island beats and lyrics that encouraged peace, love, and social justice, is often only recognized for his use of Marijuana these days. Bob Marley os also known for popularizing the Rastafari culture which was thriving in Jamaica around the height of his success. Rastafarian people take part in smoking marijuana, or ganja, or weed, as part of their spirituality. Marley's image has been used and exploited in Marijuana materials all over the U.S., and I see it as inappropriate. Especially when those taking part do not know much of reggae music or the impact Bob Marley made on the world, only that he is somebody who used to get high. This snapchat filter is shameful, disrespectful, extremely distasteful, and racially as well as culturally offensive. It's a damn shame.
To learn more about Bob Marley and the origin of The Rastafari movement I strongly suggest watching the Documentary "Marley". Watch the trailer here:
The news just broke about an hour ago, the Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that it is official Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson on the 20 dollar bill(source). Rumors buzzed about this possibility last year and in response I wrote this spoken word piece:
Today people are rejoicing, however my I still feel as strongly as I felt about this as I did when I wrote the poem above. Harriet Tubman on the $20 is problematic. As we all know Harriet Tubman was enslaved along with millions of Blacks in America. She is know for freeing hundreds of enslaved people by leading them up north(parts of which slavery was abolished) using a system called the underground railroad. What people often overlook is that she also continued to fight for human rights while free which included her being a big part of the Women's suffrage movement. She was beat down for years by slave owners to the point where she suffered chronic headaches, seizures, insomnia, and more. What exactly can her image on the very money she was sold for do about that? She had bounties on her for thousands of dollars and still fought for freedom and equality, risking her life every step of the way. This capitalist system was built against Harriet Tubman and against all of us. POC, Black People, are still oppressed by the country's system despite no longer being "slaves". Black people still suffer from results of slavery, racism is still very much alive and White people still reap the benefits of that. Putting Harriet Tubman face on our currency seems to show some sort of recognition but truthfully it is not helping. What would help would be taking off all of the now present faces on our dollar bills for they are all white men responsible for the invasion of other countries, enslavement of innocents people, unnecessary wars, corrupt policies, and the foundation of our flawed capitalism and hypocritical government systems; among many other things. Instead a printing a photograph, the U.S. should actually give descendants of enslaved Africans their reparations. Harriet Tubman had vision, she believed in something and fought for it, at this point that fight is not yet won.
This week is the official unofficial kick off to spring as we are experiencing 70 degree weather all week. My look includes a BDG striped cropped sweater and the BDG Black High rise seam jean from Urban outfitters. Finished off with Sam Edelman slip on shoes, also from Urban. I complete this look with a denim jacket for when the temperature drops later on.
Also joining this week's fashion post os a spotlight on my new loc jewelry. Courtesy of K's Loc Jewels. You can purchase these two pieces and so many more at http://kslocjewels.etsy.com/
Written, directed, produced by, and starring Nate Parker; The Birth of A Nation chronicles the story of Nat Turner and is set to wow audiences this October.
My beloved Scott Mescudi dropped a surprise new single via Soundcloud this weekend. Entitled "The Frequency", this track is the slow, trippy, psychedelic CuDi we're used to. Is this Man on The Moon III material?, at this point man I hope so. But Scott hits us off with good music nonetheless, always staying true to himself.
The newest trend sweeping the internet invites Black Women to stand up for and represent themselves by posting photos with the hashtag. #ICanBeBoth is to debunk the ever long good girl vs. bad girl mindset forced upon women for centuries, especially Black Women. This idea pits the Bad girl/hoe/slut against the good girl/school girl/good christian woman; as if there are only two types of women.
People have participated by posting either a split photo or two photos, one of which would be of said poster wearing something "sexy" or more revealing, probably going out to a club looking presumably promiscuous and the other would be of the same woman dressed to go to work, or school, or church, etc. looking presumably conservative and/or educated.
#ICanBeBoth is the newest feminist movement. We as women, all women, are multidimensional and free to express ourselves how we want, and we have a right to that freedom without being policed or restricted by other people's perception of how a woman should live her life on the basis of misogyny and patriarchy.
However, I see it to be flawed. Firstly, the hashtag itself implies that there is indeed a "both". This supports the whole "Good girl/Bad girl" discourse, validating it as a way to categorize lifestyle and styles of clothing as personality traits. Good girl wears white, bad girl wears black, good girl either shows cleavage, mid-drift, or legs(not all); bad girl does not "leave anything to the imagination", good girl wears stockings, bad girl wears fishnets with rips and tears in them; etc. etc. As far a fashion is concerned, aside from the person, there are no essential good girl/bad girl styles, trends, or stores; therefore no way or no reason to narrow it down. They are JUST CLOTHES. Now, considering the person, unless they are living a double life there is no "both" they can possibly be; they can only be one person. Personally, weather I wear an oversized crewneck sweater with skinny jeans and a pair of Chucks; or Doc Marten boots with fishnet stockings, high wasted ripped shorts, and a small cropped tank top; or long Black high-neck dress that emphasizes my booty; OR a flannel shirt with a knit sweater over it, blue jeans, and boots with a little heel; I am still me. I am one person, who has a job in a professional setting, a job in a more relaxed setting, someone who is a matriculated student, and someone who likes to go out at night and have fun. There are not several sides to me that fit into categories dictated by the male gaze, I am me. Upon getting dressed I do not say to myself, "Tonight I am wearing a short, tight dress, I am sexy." or "Today I am wearing a fitted blazer paired with fitted slacks, I am a career women". I dress appropriately for the occasion, not as if I am a Barbie doll who is conservative by day and slut by night, but because this is who I am as a multidimensional human being.
I have taken into consideration that my problem is mostly with the hashtag itself. The notion is a good one but the whole "I can be both" or "Get you a girl who can do both" discourse has to be done with. In response to one who states they can be both, I would ask "Both what?". I am curious to know what labels they put on themselves.
Self-Love is truly what #BlackGirlMagic is all about and these celebrate all of the love, talent, charisma, and consciousness of our favorite carefree Black Girls(In the Hip-Hop and R&B categories). Let's keep it simple and go in chronological order:
1st up, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). Janet's fourth studio album having been released in 1989 is a cluster a fun, love, and social awareness with breakout singles "Miss You Much" and "Escapade". You'll more than likely be doing a lot of dancing to this album. Chock full of interludes that keep the story going Rhythm Nation is just that. "Escapade" having already been one of my favorite songs by Miss Jackson, and of all time, I first listened to this album a little over two years ago after my best friend bought me a copy she found at a thrift store. I've been hooked ever since. Her unforgettable dance tracks like "Alright" and "Love Will Never Do(Without You)", her social awareness tracks like "The Knowledge" and "Living in a World (They Didn't Make)" as well as her ballads like "Come Back to Me" and "Lonely" all represent the versatility of what Janet has to say and to offer listeners. She still performs a few of these songs, to this day. Rhythm Nation is a classic.
Next up, Hard Core(1996), our favorite Bad Girl's debut album. Lil Miss Kim. The raunchy no-fucks-to-give protégé of the late Biggie Smalls does not hold back on this one, as if she could. The introduction is... well... nasty, you'd have to listen to it. Anyway, she carries on the declarative "Big Momma Thang" on which she proclaims "I used to be scared of the Dick, now I throw lips to the shit, handle it, like a real bitch". Lil Kim's entire image represents exactly what society does not want a woman to be, comfortable in her sexuality. They can make us pose naked for their pleasure and their capital but when a woman makes her own decision to embrace who she is as a sexual being it is unacceptable. She is the epitome of carefree as she is not worried about what others think of her pertaining to her sexual expression. Also, she gets a bit thuggish throughout this album, it's not all about how deep her throat is, she will kill you. To sum it all up Lil Kim's Hard Core is a funky, straight forward, raunchy body of work. Are a few of her flows similar to Biggie's? Maybe. However Kim has gone on to produce a few great follow-ups and wear the nickname "Queen Bee" well.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998). A gospel album if I have ever heard one. A journey of love, faith, and uncertainty. This album represents #BlackGirlMagic at it's finest. Ms. Hill, a soulful songstress known for her deep voice and never ending riffs is also know for rocking the mic. 1/3 members of The Fugees upon her debut solo album L. Boogie was already a household name, a respected one at that, she got bars. Having faced criticism for flaws in her social views, Miseducation is what self-reflection should look like in all of us. She's got a song for someone she once called a friend, for her newborn son, for people in the industry, for the man she loves, for the man she used to love, for God, and ultimately for herself. The singles off of this album "Ex-Factor", "Doo-Wop (That Thing)", and "Everything is Everything" never get old; other classics include "To Zion" and "Tell Him". One element I feel no one ever discusses are Ms. Hill's ad-libs. She must've recorded at least 5 different times for each track, she is her own back-up vocalist, she is harmonizing with herself, and she often has little ad-libs in the background throughout this album. Work was certainly put in, and is greatly appreciated.
Mama's Gun (2000). The queen of the Ankh and opening the 3rd eyes of brothers and sisters everywhere, Erykah Badu's soulful trip through mind, body, and soul is one not to overlook. This album is probably not the first that comes to mind when thinking of Ms. Badu but it oughta be. This album gave us, what I consider a top 3 of Erykah's, "Bag Lady"; the 'pick yourself up and persevere' feminist anthem for every girl with a little baggage; I myself am the self-proclaimed "backpack lady". This album gave us "A.D. 2000" an ode to Amadou Diallo a man who was shot and killed by the police for no reason; as well as "Didn't Cha Know" a song of self discovery. Erykah preaches self-love as something that can certainly be learned and shared. My personal favorites include "In Love With You"and "Green Eyes" for when I am n my deepest of feelings. Blast this album on a sunday afternoon while you clean the house and burn incense. Mama's Gun is staple in Erykah's career and a must-listen.
and finally BEYONCÉ. Beyoncé , the other Queen Bee, dropped a surprise album on us midnight December 13th 2013. The Album was also a visual album with a video for each track and a few bonus videos. This album is self titled for a reason. Beyoncé is a grown woman, as she declared, she is happily married with a baby and she is happy, confident, and comfortable with who she is and where she is at this point of her life and in her career. What we learn from this album is that she and her husband have a pretty healthy sex life and also she is very proud of her accomplishments in life. With "Bow Down", and "Grown Woman", and references to her pageant girl days in which she was very successful. Beyoncé has been on her grind her entire life and she was just making sure we did not forget, and we didn't. Most recently she dropped a surprise single along with a video called "Formation" that has quickly become a #BlackGirlMagic #CareFreeBlackGirl anthem, watch here:
Ultimately music may the largest way to reach the masses. We need these women and all of this music to represent #BlackGirlMagic for those who do not know it exists and for us Black Girls who too often encounter people trying to take it away from us. We must learn to be carefree, we must learn love that comes from within, and sometimes we do not learn that from our mommas or grandma's but from an old Janet Jackson CD in a crate at GoodWill or from Beyoncé's Super Bowl performance.
The one I posted about over 3 years ago, starring a light skinned Zoe Saldana in terrible make-up and an even more terrible wig. We have to call out the gallons of Cocoa from spear they put oaths young woman's body, this is black face. Controversy has been surrounding this film since production began. Most importantly the filmmakers do no have permission to tell Nina's story which is why production is so prolonged and on top of that they have Zoe Saldana looking extremely minstrel. The trailer has surfaced:
The imagery looks beautiful, the recreation of certain scenes and looks is well executed. That is the only nice thing I can say.
Duly noted there has been no permission given form Ms. Simone's estate to go through with this film which is why it is understandable that this filmily focuses on one story and that is Nina relationship with a man she payed to take care of her portrayed David Oyelowo, much later in her career. Her husband does not seem to be portrayed, nor her daughter. It is almost comical that Zoe Saldana went through with this being aware of the controversy surrounding it and having to be literally painted a darker color. It is nearly comical that nobody involved saw a problem with this. No problem at all with, instead of casting a dark skinned actress to portray a dark skinned woman, casting a light skinned actress and coloring her in. As if there are no dark skinned actresses. This film is definitely to be missed. Just don't watch it. Save your time and money.
For Nina's story told right I suggest you watch academy award nominated "What Happened, Miss Simone?". Which I reviewed HERE.
Kearah-Armonie is a Brooklyn based poet, spoken word artist, MC, Filmmaker, Blogger, and Writer. She encourages social activism and self expression through Spoken word poetry, documentary film, and social media.