Sound Off | Hear About It Here Tue, 19 Aug 2014 02:41:46 +0000 en hourly 1 Celebrity Reactions to Michael Brown: The Dialogue Must Continue Mon, 18 Aug 2014 22:14:20 +0000 rconway (Photos from Left: Mirrorpix/Splash News, Kevin Winter/Getty Images For 102.7 KIIS FM's Wango Tango, Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)

(Photos from Left: Mirrorpix/Splash News, Kevin Winter/Getty Images For 102.7 KIIS FM's Wango Tango, Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for The Weinstein Company)

By Moriba Cummings

The role of “the celebrity” is, essentially, a job. Though unorthodox in relation to the average nine to five, it comes with the same dose of professionalism and apt outward expression in given situations. In the wake of the recent murder of 18-year-old Ferguson, Missouri, teen Michael Brown, however, several celebrities have ditched their politically correct facades and let their authentic selves breathe, airing out their thoughts on the situation, with some opinions receiving more public support than others.

While some celebs, though their intentions may have been positive, seemed to rant with no thesis to their statement, several others have logically made successfully fleshed-out points in the argument against Michael Brown’s shooting. Most notably, rapper and philanthropist David Banner made it an effort to continue his past dialogues about Black-on-Black crime, redirecting his focus to that of Brown’s murder.

“White cops do not see value in young, Black men,” he said to CNN’s Don Lemon. “And the reason why a lot of young, Black men — not all Black men — kill each other is because they don’t see any value either.”

Also extending support for Brown on the music front is J. Cole, who decided to take the less common approach of saving his words and, instead, actively taking a stance. The “Crooked Smile” rapper flew to Missouri and visited the actual site where Brown was murdered. Several accounts from bystanders stated that the MC also appeared at a memorial demonstration dedicated to the teen on Sunday. In addition to his in-person support, J. Cole also released a track titled “Be Free,” which was specifically dedicated to Brown.

Another Hollywood A-lister who has vocally advocated against this recent crime of injustice is Grey’s Anatomy actor Jesse Williams, who passionately shed light on the inferior treatment inflicted upon African-Americans by authorities, even pointing out that the media is not telling the “full story.” He also touched on the unfair stigmas placed on people of color when, in the wider scheme of the American story, White America is more likely to commit acts of violence than Black America.

“I think we have to talk about the narrative and make sure we’re starting at the beginning,” he said during an appearance on CNN. “You will find that people doing the oppressing often want to start the narrative at a convenient point…this started with a kid getting shot and killed and left in the street for four hours. I’ve never seen a white body left in the heat for four hours in the sweltering heat.”

In addition to Banner and Williams, several other respected celebrities shared their perspectives on the Michael Brown killing, ranging from John Legend respectfully — and oh so effectivelyclapping back at IBNN News, who recommended that the “All of Me” singer “stay in his lane,” to media mogul and fellow St. Louis native Kimora Lee Simmons, who offered to fund the slain teen’s funeral in its entirety.

While the majority of Black Hollywood seems to stand united in the quest towards justice for Michael Brown and the fights against police brutality in Ferguson, a select few have taken heat for their less than respected opinions. One of these devil’s advocate contributors is ATL rapper B.o.B., who recently came under heat from the public after calling out supporters of Brown for their “double standards” on violence.

Taking to Twitter, the source where words can be deleted just as fast as they can be posted, the “We Still in This B—h” MC shared his unpopular opinion with his millions of followers.

“So Antwon will shoot 12 people in a week and tall [y’all] be like ‘FREE TWON!’ a cop shoot a n—a and ya’ll riot….ok….#facts,” he tweeted.

After this brief rant, he later targeted Twitter protestors, concluding that they are all pomp and circumstance and, in essence, pseudo-activists advocating for a cause that they will not take any action to ultimately rectify.

“Ya’ll ain’t gonna REVOLT!!! I bet ya’ll won’t overthrow the government of [or] nothing!!! All you gonna do is TWEET!” he wrote.

Following the slew of hateful comments aimed at his intelligence, supposed failing music career and knowledge on the Michael Brown/Ferguson situation at large, Bobby Ray removed the sequence of tweets from his profile.

While opinions among celebrities are nothing new, regardless of the stance taken by each figure, it is refreshing to finally see this dialogue being had. Too often, media figures choose to adopt a stance of neutrality or extend a politically correct response in an effort to refrain from ruffling any feathers, when, in fact, this is the time when feathers need to be unapologetically ruffled as our race is being victimized under the wider context of a few scattered shootings;  these shootings carried out by those whose main order is to “protect” us all. So, regardless of your stance — though we would prefer if you would stand with us rather than against us — please continue to speak out so that progress can be made for the greater good of our people.

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Keyshia Cole Is At ‘The Point Of No Return’ Thu, 07 Aug 2014 15:14:41 +0000 rconway (Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

(Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

by, George Chapman

Today’s music scene is extremely fickle and any lapse in time between albums could spell out disaster for any artist without a strong and loyal fanbase. When it appears that your string of hits are coming to an end, it may be time to throw in the towel. Fortunately for Oakland native Keyshia Cole, this isn’t the case. She’s on her way back to the top of the charts with new music, and with new business ventures on the horizon, she’s hushing naysayers every chance she gets. If you thought Keyshia was down for the count, you’re wrong. With a new show on the way and new perspective on love, Keyshia Cole is back and at the point of no return.

As much as Keyshia Cole and NBA player Daniel “Boobie” Gibson looked like they had the perfect love story, it was definitely a rocky road to marital bliss as we all watched them argue and reconcile on their reality show, Keyshia & Daniel: Family First. We saw Keyshia grow as a mother and learn how to be the best wife that she could be as Daniel leaned on her for support between injuries and an uncertain future in the NBA. Unfortunately, now Keyshia is singing a different tune and recently filed for divorce from Boobie based on him being less than loyal in their marriage. Typically known as one that dwells on heartbreak, Keyshia Cole has grown from her relationship with Daniel and her music is showing that already.

Keyshia has dropped a new banger, “She,” and we’ve learned a lot more about what the songstress has been doing in her free time. Many who thought the song was a record about her coming out of the closet soon got a surprise when they discovered that Keyshia just enjoys a little one-on-one time, a la Tweet’s “Oops (Oh My).”   Nevertheless, the single introduces us to a new side of Keyshia — a woman coming into her own.

She’s also going back to her roots with another reality show and we’re sure the ratings will not disappoint. Keyshia is no stranger to sharing her life with the public and say what you want, but fans and haters alike always tune in. Whether it’s watching her develop a deeper relationship with her biological mother, Frankie, or seeing one of her army of siblings trying to establish themselves in the world while adjusting to their sister’s success or the everyday process of being Keyshia Cole, the mother, daughter, sister, singer and businesswoman, we’re always locked in for the show. Why? Because from day one, Keyshia has been very transparent about who she is and what she represents and it’s because of this that we’ve always appreciated her and loved her. You must admit that there’s something very endearing about watching anybody that is brave enough to publicly rise above their obstacles. And like Mary J. Blige, it’s that connection that makes Keyshia Cole’s story an addictive and relatable one.

After the release of her upcoming album, tentatively titled Point Of No Return, she plans on leaving longtime label Interscope Records and taking full control of her career. If the prayers of hardcore fans are answered, she’ll revert back to the A Different Me version of Keyshia Cole with a side of maturity and a narrative full of her new experiences. And if that isn’t enough, she’s continuing her partnership with Steve Madden as a shoe maven bringing hot styles, patterns and colors to the worldwide shoe giant.

So what does all of this mean for the future of Keyshia Cole? It means that, as long as she focuses on her talents and continues to give her fans quality music, this stage of her career will be one for the books. The new album is expected to drop later this year, and like Beyoncé, it’s expected to have a visual component for every song. With a brand new Keyshia belting her heart out on every track, this comeback is surely to be one to remember.

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Brainwashed: The Double Standards of Sexual Expression in Popular Music Tue, 05 Aug 2014 16:27:15 +0000 rconway

(Photos from left: Sony Music, RCA Records)

by Moriba Cummings

Ignorance is bliss — This sentiment seems to be the main mantra of popular music’s latest critics as many seem to harshly criticize one side of the spectrum while unknowingly ignoring the other. This “spectrum” being the gender divide in the top tier performing acts of the music industry. The sexual expression of male and female acts have been hot topics for decades, with the topic of the “double standard” being introduced early on. This double standard lends itself to the latest trend of vastly and negatively criticizing actions and decisions — often sexual in nature — made by females in music, while their male counterparts’ actions often go either unaddressed or are unabashedly tolerated. This proves that music consumers seem to be practicing an exercise of subconscious male privilege, and it needs to stop now.

Male privilege is formally defined as the social theory which argues that men have unearned social, economic and political advantages or rights that are granted to them solely based on the premise of their sex. The key term in this definition is “unearned.” I would not consider myself a well-versed modern day feminist as that would ultimately dilute the works done by those who truly support that role in their studies. However, it is in clear form that this exists in today’s music landscape. What have these male artists earned by calling women “b—–s” and, contrarily, what have our female artists unearned to deserve being deemed “h–s” and “sluts” by consumers and critics alike?

The initial critique that often rises is the notion of the “role model” justification that is commonly overused and abused. Almost immediately after the release of any sexually charged — whether it be a sprinkling or a full-on dousing — visual or audio project by any of today’s most successful commercial female artists, the infamous critique of “She’s not a good role model for today’s young girls” is introduced. Whereas, following the release of projects similar in contextual nature by male artists, it is seen as the next big hit, often sans any major criticism concerning the project’s sexual trajectory.

While the mundane statement of “raise your own kids” seems cliché, it is, in actuality, an ample response. It is not the duty of public figures — past, present or future — to raise the world’s newest batch of social media-crazed millennials. While their exposure to popular culture does indefinitely contribute to their overall maturity, the magnitude of this exposure can be monitored by parents to their liking.

After the blame game is settled, however, it is noticeably apparent that the unwarranted responsibility of raising America’s kids is mostly placed on female musicians whose job descriptions do not delve further than simply creating art. Furthermore, as far as male artists are concerned, they appear to be given less “responsibility” and are, thus, held less accountable for the topics that their music discusses — case in point for this being the display of skin.

The argument of differentiation in sexual expression between genders is a clear determining factor in this argument. While women are known today to display much more skin than their male counterparts in their respective art forms, this remains nothing new. For decades, way before Beyoncé donned a G-string in “Partition” and Rihanna worked the pole in “Pour It Up,” female artists have been sexually liberated in their musical ventures — see Janet Jackson (The Velvet Rope era), Toni Braxton (Secrets era), Tina Turner (“Private Dancer”), Donna Summer (“Love to Love You Baby”), etc.

While they are viciously critiqued and attacked for their choices to support their sexually charged music with matching visuals, their male contemporaries are praised for being hyper-masculine juice heads — they become fantasies while the women are limited to mere sexual fixations or caricatures. This has also been the norm for decades, especially during the pimp culture era that ushered the likes of Prince and Snoop as sexual fantasies for women everywhere. Whereas, females who exercised their right to explore their sexuality openly in the form of music were intensely criticized for being too raunchy or unladylike, somehow encouraging the world to view them as mere pieces of meat.

This notion has transcended to today’s popular music landscape, with male musicians being praised for releasing music that blatantly objectifies women but is widely tolerated once disguised and accessorized with a catchy hook or beat.

Ideally, this is the case with Chris Brown’s hugely successful and apparently — yeah, right — gender-neutral “Loyal.” Though it has proven to be a massive hit across all musical platforms, the track proves to be nothing but yet another successful attempt at masterfully capturing an otherwise ignorant female audience who unknowingly tolerates being called “h–s” — “These h–s ain’t loyal.”

What serves as the final sheet of disguise, however, is the colorful and innocently produced visual that accompanies the otherwise degrading track. The music video is strategically much less hyper-sexualized and demeaning than the track itself, fostering viewers to just rock out to the song, ignoring what its lyrical content entails.

While this obviously helps push the male-driven track toward becoming a more widely accepted event, female visuals tend to have an opposing effect. Oftentimes, when female artists pair a sexually charged lyrical piece with an equally or more outlandish visual, the intended message of the song is watered down, inducing viewers to either viciously attack the piece for being a ploy for desperation or highly praise her for being open with her own sexuality, enforcing, yet again, the ever-present double standard.

Either way, sexuality, when expressed by adults, does not need to be censored for the pleasures of those who only see through the scope of a society-created, gender-specific lens. Whether exercised by men or women, the ideal of sexual liberation should be welcomed without such harsh, one-sided criticisms, unless such claims can be amply defended by equally addressing the utilization of such by both sexes. After all, art is intended to be an outlet of subjective expression, regardless of gender restrictions. So, enjoy the art and stop complaining.

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Why Do White People Hate Justin Bieber? Fri, 01 Aug 2014 20:01:56 +0000 rconway

(Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Variety)

By Moriba Cummings

I know this really isn’t any of our business, white and white hate isn’t something Black folks normally concern themselves with, but the dislike most Caucasians have for Justin Bieber is pretty alarming. The former tween who transformed from America’s sweetheart to the bad boy next door is constantly in the crosshairs of slander from the white mainstream media. Upon his introduction to the world thanks to R&B superstar Usher, many were instantly infatuated. He could carry a Top 40 tune and the world fell in love with his youthful charm and just-want-to-sing attitude. These days though, it seems like Orlando Bloom isn’t the only person who wants to punch the pop star in the face.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Justin Bieber’s appeal was universal and his fan base was undoubtedly multi-racial, although he was clearly a part of the white demographic. Let’s face it, however, most of his fans were as well. And, since his fans were mostly white tween to teenage girls, his overall good boy demeanor sat well with their parents, too. That is, until puberty hit, and everything changed.

The love turned into hate the more Bieber acted out. His fans and their disposable income providers wondered why the Canadian star just couldn’t get his act together. His lyrics quickly went from Kidz Bop-inspired hits (see “Baby,” a.k.a. the most disliked YouTube video of all time) to Ying Yang Twins-esque whisperfests (see “Boyfriend”), and they just weren’t having it.

While it is not unusual for pop stars to branch out after “finding themselves” — hi, Miley! — there usually is a clear and much needed disconnect between artistic and personal expression. Justin seemed to not know how to differentiate the two, or just didn’t care. From picking fights with much older Hollywood actors to being charged with a DUI, things got so bad that some former supporters started a petition to get the pop star deported back to Canada.

There was even a moment when his detractors were intent on laying blame for his actions on the influence of his entourage, which included, Young Money rapper Lil’ Twist. The friendship prompted several of his fans and their record-buying parents to ponder, “What’s a Lil’ Twist and why is he hanging with it?”

That alibi didn’t stand up as Biebs proved on further occasions that he was his own worst enemy.

Now with his bad boy image firmly established he’s become an outcast who is repeatedly referred to as a “punk” and a “little jerk” by his haters (a large number of them being middle aged white men) who can’t stand his wildly obnoxious behavior. The celebrity news site TMZ, in particular, has no love for Bieber. He is a daily target of their sarcastic spin on celeb news. Their coverage of the now-infamous deposition video where Bieber behaved like a bratty teenage spawned lists about his brattiest moments and a Rolling Stone story about his fall from grace.

In his exile from the comforts of life in White America, Bieber has found a home in the graces of music’s Black elite. He spends most his days socializing with Chris Brown and Tyga or clubbing with Diddy and Rick Ross. He’s good with us. Plus, his matured sound fits comfortably on an urban playlist rather than the tween pop radio stations he once ruled.

If this was the race trade on The Chappelle Show, seems like Bieber was obtained by the Black America by default. He’s gone to such a dark place in the eyes of most in White America they had no choice but to pass him off to us.

Not that we’re upset over that. I’m just trying to understand why they hate him so much.

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Ray J, Please Stop… But, We Get It Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:53:17 +0000 rconway

(Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for BMI)

By Moriba Cummings

Brandy’s brother, reality TV bachelor, R&B star — these are all terms used to describe Williams Ray Norwood Jr., better known as Ray J. While he is well known for fulfilling these roles since his introduction to the world as Dorian (Mo to the…), his most infamous title unfortunately remains “Kim Kardashian’s co-star in their 2007 sex tape Kim Kardashian, Superstar. Aside from the intimate collaborative project being credited only to Ye’s wifey in its title, it’s safe to say that it’s been all about Kim ever since the tape dropped, and Ray J’s still salty about it to this day. He’s even dropped a new video chronicling his regret in his new song “Never Shoulda Did That.” So, in an effort to see Ray J. win again, we have some advice: let it go!

For any man, the ego is something that takes time to break down. For Ray J, that time period lasted seven years and counting. So, what has caused this ongoing harping of bitterness on the singer’s part? It’s simple: Kim’s “success.”

Kim, with the help from her notoriously business savvy — and power hungry — mother, Kris Jenner, manipulated the embarrassing situation into a multi-million dollar money-making venture. With the sex tape as her launching pad, the reality TV staple branched out into fashion, fragrances, television and, most recently, video games: She’s expected to pocket $85 million from her new video game/app!

In addition to her entrepreneurial successes, Kim even managed to marry one of the wealthiest and most respected rappers in hip hop, Kanye West. Furthermore, the couple had a gorgeous baby girl, completing Kim’s picture-perfect life. To make it all worse for the singer/actor, every morsel of Kim K’s life is documented on reality TV and is further covered across practically every major media outlet in the world, making it virtually impossible for him to escape her presence.

So, as if the immaculate flop that was “I Hit It First” wasn’t enough, Brandy’s little brother resorted to releasing another track aimed at his now-accomplished ex, titled “Never Shoulda Did That.” While “I Hit It First” saw Norwood attack Kim’s reputation, fetishizing her even more than she does herself, his new track sees him turn a new leaf, standing alone on the beach, watching the sun set, pondering life’s greatest questions. No, really. Just watch the music video.

In true Ray J fashion, he dishes out everything that we didn’t need or even want to know about his rendezvous with Kim. “I got drunk in the club, and yes, I f****d that b***h,” he said. “F*****g b*****s on camera, never shoulda did that s**t.” Yep. He’s a new man. All transformed and stuff.

If you’re feeling Ray J’s newest offering, you can cop his mixtape Unkut 2 — notice the substituted “k” for “c” in the word “uncut.” We see what you did there, Ray J. Also, sidebar: Is anyone else wondering when part one was released?

Anyway, these subtle hints that he is still incorporating the Kardashian brand into his, uh, efforts, prove that, though he outwardly expresses that he has moved on from sextapegate, he never has, and probably never will. This is clearly his bread and butter. Since the majority of the world knows of him as either Kim Kardashian’s forgotten sex partner or a failed reality star, this is all that he has left to secure his relevance in entertainment as, well, an entertainer. So, keep entertaining us, Ray J, keep entertaining us.

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Azealia Banks Starts Post-Hip Hop Music Career Mon, 28 Jul 2014 21:24:36 +0000 rconway

(Photo: Donato Sardella/WireImage)

By Dominique Zonyeé

Based on countless testimony,  it is safe to conclude that the music industry is a hard industry to crack. Getting your foot in the door is one thing, landing a hit single another, but to maintain longevity by staying relevant and achieving an arsenal of hits with complimenting trophies is a status only few attain. But for MC’s like Trinidad James, Chief Keef (both members of the 2013 XXL Freshman Class) and femcee Azealia Banks, all of whom had noteworthy breakout singles and were pegged for mainstream stardom, the road to success has come equipped with its share of pitfalls and potholes.

With the July 27 release of “Heavy Metal and Reflective,” Azealia Banks’s first track since parting ways with Interscope and publicly quitting hip hop, she proves that you don’t need an album or a slew of mainstream hits to remain afloat in this fickle business. Yung Rapunxel has been doing this since she stepped on the rap scene in 2008 and signed with British label XL. Although she did not gain notoriety until 2012 when she took the Internet by storm with her debut single “212,” she secured a loyal cult following that wouldn’t allow her to disappear.

Career firsts aside Azealia’s eccentric Harlem meets London underground persona and her many Twitter beefs have helped make her one of the new age artists that have become the face of the rising trend of Internet rap sensations. The new path to stardom speaks volumes to the current state of the music industry with respect to the freedom an aspiring artist has to diversify his/her audience and set his/her own rules to remaining relevant. Banks, Keef and Trinidad climbed the YouTube charts before making it on the industry radar, setting a new trend in music culture outside of the traditional corporate route.

The release of Azealia Banks’s latest track is proof that the culture of music goes beyond hit songs and ultimately lies on how artists cultivate and connect with fans. It is Banks’s die-hard dedication to her Internet roots which has kept her alive and has us interested in the upcoming chapter of her success story.

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Nicki Minaj Goes Back to Basics Fri, 25 Jul 2014 23:21:41 +0000 rconway (Photo: Nicki Minaj via Instagram)

(Photo: Nicki Minaj via Instagram)

By George Chapman

Music is really in a huge rut these days, I get it. No one is really buying albums anymore, taking a much needed break for creativity (or to have a life outside of performing) may mean the end of your career, and if you’re not Beyoncé and Jay-Z you’re probably not selling out stadiums across the cities, every night. However, there is hope for you yet; especially if you happen to be in the elite class of artist who has a navy, a hive, or crazed fan base. Yet and still, many artists resort to getting low and spreading it all for a RT, insert Nicki Minaj.

By now, we’ve all seen the infamous cover for her new single, Anaconda, where the Young Money superstar adorns just a thong and some air Jordan VI’s . Squatting low from the back Ms. Minaj, entices on lookers with her perfectly “sculpted assets,” that have garnished her so much attention since the beginning of her career. At this point, I’m sure no one is surprised by the female MC’s tendency to be raunchy and suggestive given her sexually charged lyrics, and previous Lil Kim-inspired promo pics for her first mixtape Play Time’s Over, but I think enough is enough. With the slew of awards and accolades she has already received for the talent that she actually does have, I’m slightly perplexed as to why she needs to use these tactics to promote this new single. Swapping her typical cotton candy colored hair and circus clown uniforms for a new fresh faced, natural hair, toned down look was a move that many of her followers seemed to approve of. So why the need resort to basic sex kitten play?

At the top of her game, there is no other female MC competing with the first lady of Young Money. Yes, no one, not even famed impersonator Iggy Azalea. However, there is a difference between being suggestive and empowering women through sex and busting it open for the sake of busting it open.

Let us recall that in the July 2010 issue of Vibe Magazine, Nicki said, “ I made a conscious decision to try to tone down the sexiness, I want people—especially young girls—to know that in life, nothing is going to be based on sex appeal. You’ve got to have something else to go with that.” Why the sudden need to flip the script? When your music speaks for itself and you’ve already earned the respect of your peers, there is no need to sink this low for attention or promotion. Being sexy is one thing, but finding that balance between owning her sexuality without losing respect is key. And at this point in her career, Nicki should certainly know better.

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Iggy Azalea: The White and Wrong Reasons Behind Her Success Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:39:17 +0000 rconway

(Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

By Moriba Cummings

“First things first, I’m the realest” — This line singlehandedly stands as the most quotable yet most inaccurate lyric in music since the year’s commencement thanks to the No. 1 smash by recent hip hop phenom Iggy Azalea. While the catchy number is indeed a bona fide smash — c’mon, you know you bop your head when that chorus comes on — many fail to see it for the Australian native, thanks largely in part to the trusty writers at Forbes who deem her hip hop’s new ring leader. Let’s break down why this statement lacks on all fronts, shall we?

Firstly, Forbes — the source that researchers, account execs, company shareholders and celebrity net worth enthusiasts go to for their fix on the business world — posts a story on hip hop’s newest it girl and the question that immediately arises in many of our minds is “Why?” As far as respected musical opinions are concerned, Forbes is personally not my go-to reference, especially — and specifically — when it comes to hip hop. Therefore, their immensely and annoyingly attention-seeking headline, “Hip Hop Is Run By A White, Blonde, Australian Woman,” only seemed to be a ploy for website views when the grand scheme of the situation is assessed.

Now, we’re not done with Forbes just yet. An excerpt from the article attempts to flesh out some sort of reasoning for the claim that Iggy Azalea is the new messiah of the genre, claiming that the fact that she’s a woman in a male-dominated field makes her amazingly different: “Making a name for yourself as a woman in hip hop is laudable enough, forget the fact that she is a white, blonde, Australian woman. In a genre dominated almost exclusively by African American men, she sticks out like a statuesque thumb,” the article reads.

Newsflash to Forbes: welcome to the everyday woman’s daily struggle! It seems as the meritoriously intelligent author of this article has not been adequately acquainted with the notion of the glass ceiling, which affects jobs across the globe. In the particular case of music, hip hop, specifically, this has been the case for decades. When Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Lil’ Kim and Nicki Minaj, to name a few, all singlehandedly annihilated their male counterparts in the hip hop genre with their material, Forbes failed to pen an outrageously unmerited praise-doused article knighting them the new “running” force of hip hop. So, why now?

Secondly, dominating any genre would require much more than the success of one single and, furthermore, the artist should, at least, boast an air of ingenuity in his/her craft. Many have criticized the “Fancy” rapper of adopting a “blaccent” when performing or spitting a few bars for a track: “Who dat? Who dat?” While these critics’ claims are indeed valid, the same was remotely said of Nicki Minaj during the height of her career where she incorporated outrageous voices — moans, grunts, scowls, you name it — into her raps.

However, what differentiates the two is Azalea’s use of a southern-identifying, quintessentially “hood” drawl that we all know is not natural to her native tongue. Some hip hop critics and enthusiasts go as far as to even deem the accent racist, claiming that it is a blatant mockery of the African-American vernacular.

Then there’s the recently discussed possibility that Azalea does not pen her own lyrics and hires a ghostwriter to compose her rhymes. Since this has yet to be proven, this should be taken with a grain of salt, but fellow femcee Nicki Minaj seems to think otherwise, hinting that there is some truth to the claim — No, no shade, though… No, no, no shade.

Thirdly, the elephant in the room remains that the sole reason why Iggy Azalea is topping the charts is simply due to her background. Though this is none of her fault directly, many are failing to realize that it is because she is white and blonde that she has “made a name for herself” in hip hop so quickly.

White privilege has unabashedly ushered her to the top of a genre that Black women have fought so hard to break into for decades. Therefore, no, her newly found shining glory in the name of hip hop does not make her a beacon for feminism in a male-dominated field. Instead, it reinforces the fact that white privilege is still very much alive in the music industry, and even though our people will continue to fight for recognition in a musical genre that is rightfully ours, this will always be the blueprint. It’s the American way.

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Snoop Dogg: The White House Cannabis Connoisseur? Wed, 23 Jul 2014 21:17:03 +0000 rconway

(Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Airbnb)

By Moriba Cummings

From gangster rapper to conscious lyricist — remember, it’s now Snoop Lion, ok? — it’s safe to say that there’s not really much that Snoop hasn’t done. I mean, let’s run down the list: He’s changed his name a couple of times; recorded a reggae album and subsequently changed his style; collaborated with Miley Cyrus; made a song with Psy; rapped about Santa Claus; and lit up in the White House. Yep, you read correctly. The Doggfather admittedly indulged in natural herbs at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., and here’s why, if true, he is awesome for it.

Now, keep in mind that this could all be a hoax concocted by Snoop himself, but, giving him the benefit of the doubt, let’s just say that it’s true. How fearless does one have to be to pull off such a gutsy move in the most protected residence in the nation?

The legendary rapper said in the latest episode of his Web series, “GGN,” featuring late night talk show host and comedian Jimmy Kimmel, that he tricked “the CIA or the FBI… the Alphabet Boys” — oh, Snoop — into letting him spark up inside the president’s living quarters. He made sure to point out, though, that he maintained his respect for the historic residence, limiting his smoking to just one room.

“Not in the White House, but in the bathroom,” he said. “’Cause I said, ‘May I use the bathroom for a second?’ And they said, ‘What are you going to do? Number one or number two?’ I said, ‘Number two.’”

He then cleverly intertwined his apparent need for a light inside the president’s house in his master plan, telling them, “Look, when I do the number two, I usually have a cigarette or I light something to get the aroma right.” The aroma? Alright, Snoop. Well, according to his account, they obliged, letting him light a piece of a napkin. After he agreed to their suggestion, he mentioned to Kimmel in the clip that he, instead, lit a blunt, making mmmm noises as he puffed away.

There are two ways that this could possibly be perceived. Firstly, if this story is indeed true, Snoop should be concerned about his public and national safety after so candidly sharing this with world. After all, this is the secret service, and judging from the reputation they hold, they don’t play — have you seen Scandal?

Secondly, and contrarily, if this proves to not be a fluke orchestrated by the “Doggystyle” rapper, this could arguably make Snoop one of the coolest celebrities known to man. While we, in no way, are endorsing the habit of smoking, the slightly satirical and unapologetic O.G.ness of this entire scenario makes Snoop all-mighty in the world of scandals. He achieved the impossible!

While we would love nothing more than for this to possess at least one ounce of veracity, we doubt that it does. However, just the fact that the rapper has the cajones to even publicly utter the words “I,” “smoked” and “White House” in the same sentence proves that he is and will always be deemed the O.G.

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The Public’s Unhealthy Obsession With a ‘Jayoncé’ Split Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:10:35 +0000 rconway

(Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment)

(Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment)

By Moriba Cummings

“Megastardom” is arguably the ultimate level of career success that every mainstream musician seeks to achieve. Often, in today’s modern landscape of music contemporaries, there are only two figures who reach this standard of megastardom without a flaw and, coincidentally, they happen to share the same household. Beyoncé and Jay Z have carefully and cleverly crafted a machine that is known today as their power couple union, and, much like everything else that tends to dominate in its respective field, it is met with an onslaught of detractors whose sole desire is for it to fail. Such is the latest case, as rumors have been swarming the Internet about a potential “split” following the couple’s On the Run Tour, which, to the contrary, artistically documents the fact that the couple is very much still deeply in love.

The last few weeks have seen several news outlets headlining the latest fabricated chain letter about Beyoncé and Jay Z’s marriage, claiming that the couple is set to part ways after the completion of their highly grossing collaborative tour. Though the reputability of the story is still in question due to the repeated use of the phrase “…a source claims,” highly respected news outlets have gone on to cover the hot topic, prompting many to believe that there may be some truth to this otherwise impeccably manipulated charade.

What this hyper-obsessive response to what could be considered one of the most destructive moments in a couple’s life says is that the world is unhealthily consumed with the demise of this particular couple’s marriage. Interestingly enough, supporters — or, “stans,” as they are often deemed — of each artist seem to stay away from the split rumors, forcing the “blame the stans” excuse to be invalid, as the super-fans of the power duo would know that the stemming reason for the hoopla is nothing new.

Weeks ago, during the commencement of the On the Run Tour in Miami, Beyoncé belted an emotionally-charged rendition of her B’Day cut “Resentment,” which tackles the topic of infidelity within a long relationship. Changing the words at the end of the song, she ad-libbed, “I know she was attractive, but I was here first/Been ridin’ with you for 12 years, why did I deserve to be treated this way by you?” The catalyst that broke the camel’s back — in the media’s eyes — is the time frame that she belted, since the song’s original lyric reads “six years.”  This change prompted many to believe that there was trouble in paradise, somehow implying that divorce was imminent.

However, fans of the 32-year-old performer wasted no time in pointing out that this is not the first time that Bey has manipulated the lyrics to “Resentment.” During her 2013 “Back to Business” stint at the Revel Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Bey gave a similar rendition of the song where she added to its outro: “I’ve gotta look at her in her eyes/And see she’s had half of me/She ain’t even half of me…” The latter part of the lyric is not in the original recording.

Furthermore, attendees of the couple’s On the Run nationwide tour have seen first-hand that Bey and Jay are still deeply in love all due to the masterfully executed structure of the show. Dismissing all of the pretentious props, special guests and music video recreations, the show focused primarily and exclusively on the progression of their relationship. The concert showcased a gradually progressive story of early love, hurt, forgiveness, perseverance and fulfillment.

Each defining moment in their 10+ year relationship was documented in the show, beginning with the opening number “’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” which symbolized the early stages of their romance. Earlier cuts chronicling their courting days soon followed, including “Crazy in Love” and “Show Me What You Got.” The show then transitioned into a party-like atmosphere, introducing cuts like “Tom Ford,” “***Flawless” and “Naughty Girl,” which potentially highlights somewhat of a blissful phase in the relationship, supposedly considered the “newlywed” stage.

Following this segment, things began to get rocky with the incorporation of more emotional cuts, including a reworked version of “Ring the Alarm,” a cover of Lauryn Hill’s “Ex-Factor,” Jigga’s “Song Cry,” a crowd-rousing “Why Don’t You Love Me?” and the infamous “Resentment.” This portion of the show clearly showcased the relationship trials that they had experienced as their union progressed, potentially implying that there were hiccups along their journey of love.

The show then concluded with some of their most recent cuts which aptly demonstrate their love for each other and their daughter Blue Ivy Carter. The concert took a noticeable detour in tone from one of anger and somberness to one of reflection and self-actualization with performances of “Love on Top” (intertwined with a funky rendition of Michael Jackson’s “I Want You Back”), “I Just Wanna Love You,” “Part II (On The Run),” “Young Forever” and “Halo,” the final two of which featured a video montage of their family flashed across the Jumbotron screens.

This tour cemented the fact that they are indeed a real couple who has overcome real relationship obstacles. While we, the public, may remain oblivious to what those obstacles were — as we should be — that does not discount the validity of their relationship. Though they are public figures, they are certainly not entitled to publicize their personal lives away from their chosen profession, which is music. Due to this shortage of “material,” the public is somewhat understandably inclined to run with what they are given: the music. And, frankly, that is how it should remain.

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