Tuesday, October 25, 2016

New music from Drake and the unfortunate diss track

   This weekend everyone's fave Drizzy dropped not one, not two, but four new songs on the eve of his 30th birthday. Two of which "Sneakin'" and "Fake Love" are available for streaming on Tidal. Drake is doing what he does best one all of these tracks, playing it safe, remaining mediocre and giving the fans what they love. "Fake" is the Drake theme of the year and forever as he proclaims "Smile in my face, whole time tryna take my place" lyrics from The Ojay's classic "Backstabbers". "Sneakin'" takes a a different route as this is a song for the streets, reminiscent of the feel SchoolBoy Q has been going, this is elevated trap music. A feature from upcoming rapper 21 Savage also helps.
   The track that has stirred up controversy is "Two Birds One Stone" on which he disses both rapper Pusha T and our beloved KiD CuDi. The lyrics directed at Scott are what's riding most listeners gears and go as follows:
"You were the Man on the Moon, now you go through your phases
Life of the angry and famous Rap like I know I’m the greatest and give you the tropical flavors
Still never been on hiatus
You stay xan and perked up so when reality set in you don’t gotta face it."
     Earlier this month KiD CuDi checked himself into rehab for depression and suicidal urges, he notified fans and followers publicly via Facebook and twitter. CuDi was open honest and apologetic in his account as he repeated "I'm sorry" as if he had let his fans down. Most consumers who may not listen to CuDi's music were probably unaware of his prolonged ever-present battle with depression and struggle with self medicating. Self-Medicating is a symptom of most mental and social disorders, whether related to depression or forms of PTSD, commonly where those "suffering" abuse drugs and alcohol to cope. Drake's comments struck listeners as a direct jab at CuDi's metal health, which is a big no no. Drake's timing could not have been worse. Yes, he is responding to CuDi's criticism of his craft via twitter but that was before CuDi checked himself into rehab. For Drake to say this after CuDi's befitting sadness was made very well known publicly is insensitive and tacky. It is also pretty lack-luster being that he does not actually address KiD CuDi's original statement, instead he has some harsh criticism for the lonely stoner's lifestyle with some not very well thought out hits below the belt. Diss tracks are an important part of hip-hop but I think they should at least be good, what Drizzy had to say does not make much sense in content nor context.

     However, as an avid KiD CuDi fan (since day1) and someone who is dealing with major depression, I am not necessarily offended by Drizzy's comments. I am disappointed because those bars are weak, less than mediocre, and much less than creative. Drake poked fun at Scott for something that he has already told the world about himself, that is not much of a diss, that is something you say when you have nothing else to say. To me it seems Drake is still riding off of his "Back to Back" high. "Back to Back" being the diss track directed at Meek Mill after Meek called Drake out for not writing his own lyrics. Last summer that song was everywhere, Drake is currently trying to protect his own brand and get that kind of popularity again. "Two Birds One Stone" falls completely flat. The earlier verse in the track directed at Pusha T is also quite awkward, Aubrey is taking all of the L's with this one.

  If anything this shines light on how ignorant many people are on mental illness, especially in Hip-Hop. Hopefully it sparks conversation about the bigger picture, and not blow over as a simple petty rap beef.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel’lé

    Or as I call it, The Michel'lé movie, is Lifetime's latest biopic having premiered Saturday October 15th. Though many may not be familiar with her name Michel'lé rose to stardom during the late 80's as a singer signed to NWA's record label. She too was coming 'Straight Outta Compton'. For those who are familiar with Michel'le, whether it be because of her music career or her recent role on reality TV show "R&B Divas", they probably know her most for one or two things: her very squeaky speaking voice as compared to her deep sultry singing voice, or her very tumultuous and violent relationship with music producer, label mate and pseudo manager Dr. Dre.

   This film checks off all the boxes when it comes to television cinema. Giving viewers a substantial amount of information and entertainment. Almost formed as a response to "Straight Outta Compton" the NWA biopic which cleverly left Michel'le out completely, this is her story. Now viewers know the truth despite rumors and interviews, this depiction gives it to us raw and upfront, so much so I believe this film should have a trigger warning. The graphic beating are not all to take in with this film, the lies, the cheating, scandal, and a large amount of drama make this not so much a must-see and definitely make sure you catch it the next time it comes on, viewers are certainly learning things they have not yet known.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This week's style post: Black Daria

     This is about as grungy as I get. Well I could maybe give more grudge but this is the most so far. All black every thing, new stockings(ribbed faux thigh high tights) and my fave doc martens. Look complete with one of those "vintage" tattoo chokers. You know me, #UOonYou; My whole look is brought to you by Urban Outfitters. Thought the shorts are apart of their renewal brand, and the top was a sale item earlier this year this simple outfit can be recreated. That store will probably never run out of the faux knee high stockings nor the choker, and the long silence and nice black top could be recreated with a number of men's t-shirt more than likely of the Feathers brand. I paired this with my fall jacket as shown in my last style post and was well prepared that high 60 degree weather.

Friday, October 7, 2016

NPS highlights

     NPS being the National Poetry Slam, which takes place every summer around early August usually in a different city each year. Poetry Slam Inc. invites over 70 slam teams from all over the country to compete in a week long competition and ultimately there is one winner. I was a competing poet and this year we went to Decatur, Georgia. The team representing Baltimore took 1st place, San Diego 2nd, and The House Slam team from Boston took 3rd. The youtube channels dedicated to spoken word and slam poetry SlamFind, All Def poetry, and of course Poetry Slam Inc. were in the building to capture the greatness of almost 30 slam bouts throughout the duration of the tournament. Of course there are many poems that were not filmed and many that have not made it to YouTube, but here are some exceptional pieces that did.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The singular "they" and breaking the binary

    All this talk of non-binary gender identities and gender non-conforming identities bring about a lot of hate, naturally. What is need to know is that sex(sex organs, male, female, etc.) and gender(gender identity) are mutually exclusive of each other. Are there correlations? of course, are they the same thing? NO. Plain and simple. People who are gender non-conforming are just that, they do not identify with either of the two most popularity known genders therefore instead of "he" or "She" those who are gender non-confoming use the pronoun "They".

     Besides being oppressive and enforcing the now proven to not be true idea that gender and sex are the same thing, people are using grammar and the english language as an excuse to not respect the pronouns of others and ultimately their identities. "They" is often use to describe multiple people, it is only used in a singular sense when discussing someone who's gender identity you do not know. We actually use the singular "they" all of the time. But when it is mixed in with a proper noun, the name of the person you are speaking about, is when it gets confusing. It seems there is no need for the singular they in this sense because you can already identify this person, but when you really think about it you can't.

     Now I believe the way we use language should be they way I personally address "sexuality"/"sexual orientation". If the person has not told you their identity, you do not know it and you should not assume. If someone has brought their gender identity to your attention, you should respect that. It is like their name and it should be that simple. It is dehumanizing and disrespectful to minimize somebody's identity to your own preferred way to use words, especially when defending a language in which the words rough, dough, and cough do not even rhyme.

   But let's take a shift, language is key but so is appearance. Clothing is divided by gender and how we dress often influences other people to assume our genders. BuzzFeed recently created a short video interviewing people who's personal styles "Gender-bend". One of my friends and founder of "Paint and Poetry" Mojo Disco is featured in this video as well and I appreciate it very much.

Dressing Beyond The Binary

Dressing Beyond The Binary

Posted by BuzzFeed LGBT on Thursday, October 6, 2016
  I work in retail so this video resonates with me a lot because I always imagine a world where there are no women's nor men's departments in clothing stores. One day I had a customer ask me about sweaters and flannels shirts for her sister who is androgynous. I took her over to what was our sweater shop at the time and she didn't seem enthused, she then told me that's she's looking for something that is more like Men's clothing. So I said, you could check out the Men's section and she replied "I didn't even think of that, thanks!" I find this encounter to be funny. Clothes don't have gender. I do understand when men are discouraged when a certain item is only available in the women's department because it may not come in a big enough size for them. But truthfully clothes do not have gender, they are not boy clothes or girl clothes, if you buy items and put them on your body they're your clothes.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fallin' deep into Fall

     This week's outfit already offer some layering and is topped off with a cool fall jacket. Yes, it is no longer summer time, it is chilly, breezy , and cloudy sometimes. I'm wearing the Silence + Noise Melly Cocoon Sweatshirt Mini Dress over the BDG high rise seam jean. Accompanied by the BDG Georgie 4-Pocket Surplus Jacket and my favorite matte black Doc Marten Boots. I finished this look with my hair wrapped in the top bun head wrap style I demonstrated in this post.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Solange Knowles has blessed us...

 ...with her latest album "A Seat at The Table". The announcement of it's release came along with a total relaunch of her website and even a giveaway for fans. The website solangemusic.com is the perfect simplistic look at all things Solange. Many people know Solange Knowles as Beyoncé's sister but she is one of my biggest inspirations, as one can probably infer based on past posts I've made about her, and she has just drastically effected the web and the airwaves with "A Seat at The Table" including the digital book of the same title available for viewing on her website, offering over 100 pages of all of the song lyrics from the album, stylized on the page in poetic forms, and various glamorous yet subtly beautiful photos of herself and other Black people.

     The album is a melodic dream offering the narrative of being Black in America right now. Sol-Angel presents the topics of mental health, black owned businesses, the use of the word "nigga", family and lineage, segregation, police brutality, racism overall but truly who we are, what we have done and what we can do as Black people. With songs like "Rise" "Weary" and "Cranes in The Sky" she addresses the overwhelming issues or struggles with being Black in America and the state of the world today from a subtle, personal, and emotionally transparent standpoint. This is still Solange's voice and Solange's story, yet it is all of our stories, all of our narratives and that is what a beautiful piece of art is and does. Your art is working when you can spread love in a way where it seems you are putting yourself and all of your flaws and pain along with happiness out into the world for consumption. The songs are strung together with a number of interludes including several accounts from the rapper Master P, a narrative from Solange's father, and a snippet from her mother. To include the voices, feelings, and ideologies of her parents is a pure representation of the Black experience. Often all we have is the fact that our parents, their parents, and so on have fought for us to be here and we have to give thanks that we are here. At times it feels that our family is all we have and it is the struggles of our ancestors that keep us going now. As many say, if you don't know where you come from, you won't know where you are going. Master P is an icon, especially in the south, he is most known for, and also reflects on this fact in the interludes, starting his rap career as his own business. Instead of waiting for a record lable to recognize and sign him he started recording his own music and selling his own music out of the trunk of his car. The use of his voice and his narrative is a clever way to add an image and a "voice of God" to the grand idea of Black resilience, resistance, and prevalence.

"If you don't understand my record 
you don't understand me, so this is not for you"
Master P.

    The very title "A Seat at the Table" is a considerably cliche allusion to the Black experience in America. In the Post-Slavery south segregation was the norm and Jim-Crow was the law. Often Black people still worked for Whites as maids and house-help, and were literally not allowed at seat at the dinner table. This title could also derive from the very well known Langston Hughes poem "I, Too" in which he declares "I, too, am America."
     One of the most stand-out tracks on "A Seat At the Table" is "F.U.B.U.". FUBU the name of a clothing line founded by LL Cool J during the early 2000's is an acronym for "For Us, By Us" literally stating that the clothing was created for Black people by Black people. Solange presents the same exact sentiment on the track by the same name. She addresses trouble with racial profiling and racism as a whole Black people face everyday as she sings "All my niggas in the whole while world-- this shit is for us". She also states "Don't be mad you can't sing along, just be glad you got the whole wide world" addressing white people, the fact that white people can not sing along with this song because of the use of the word nigga, and white privilege. The song "Don't Touch My Hair" also offers the same kind of summation of a race related issue and the big picture.

    Sunday Night Sol-Angel surprised us once again with two brand new videos. One for "Cranes in The Sky" and the other for  "Don't Touch my Hair". Both offering the stunning, breath-taking imagery we saw in the photographs in the digital book as well as subtle yet notably clever camera movement.

     Comparisons to "Lemonade", the album equipped with a short film of music videos strung together, released by Solange's Big Sis in April are already to be expected no matter what kind of album Solange could have made. But as far as being magnificent representations of Black pride, Black love and Black power these are both exceptional projects. Especially with positive and encouraging images of Black women and Black Girl Magic. Solange's music always pulls from traditionally R&B with an alternative pop sound and even beats that have a late 80's early 90's feel, as usual Solange stayed true to herself.


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