Sound Off | Hear About It Here Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:21:54 +0000 en hourly 1 Why CeeLo Is Dead Wrong About Rape Thu, 04 Sep 2014 14:21:54 +0000 rconway

(Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Caesars Entertainment)

By Kellee Terrell

All hell broke loose when Cee Lo Green, former coach for The Voice and “Forget You” singer, took to Twitter this weekend after he plead “no contest” to slipping ecstasy in a woman’s drink. Her rape charges were dismissed last year. He wrote:

When someone [breaks into] a home there is broken glass. Where is your plausible proof anyone was raped? If someone is passed out they’re not even WITH you consciously” … “People who have really been raped REMEMBER!!!..So if I TRIED but did NOT succeed but the person said I DID then what really happened?”


Soon after (with much backlash) Cee Lo deleted those tweets and his account, but came back on Monday to “clear” things up and “apologize”:

“Let me 1st praise god for exoneration fairness & freedom! Secondly I sincerely apologize for my comments being taken so far out of context…I only intended on a healthy exchange to help heal those who love me from the pain I had already caused from this. Please forgive me as it was your support that got me thru this to begin with. I’d never condone the harm of any women. Thank you”

Um…Cee Lo, what exactly was taken out of context?

How does spewing sexist and archaic views about rape create a “healthy exchange” for those who need to heal? One person who needs to heal is your victim and thanks to the justice system that dismissed her rape case and offered you a deal, the last thing she needs is to be re-victimized on Twitter for millions to see.

It’s sad, that despite all the money you spent on a big-time lawyer, you still have no clue about the law, which makes me think you probably broke it.

Lack of evidence of a struggle (i.e. your “no broken glass” comment) or whether a victim remembers her attack doesn’t mean she wasn’t raped. Think: It’s pretty hard to fight back if you are unconscious and even harder to remember if you are drugged.

Just ask *Jada: The 16-year old Texas girl who courageously shared her story of being raped at a party after being slipped a drug in her drink. She passed out and never knew she was sexually assaulted until she saw the pictures and videos of her assault online weeks later.

But given your logic, Jada wasn’t really raped. Yet, I wonder with the same audacity and bravado that you had on Twitter, would you tell that to her face? Or better yet, would you tell the boys that raped her, that “it’s all good” ‘cause she didn’t remember?

Dude, I dare you.

See Cee Lo, rape is much more complicated than using physical violence against women or her saying, “No.” If a woman is impaired due to alcohol and drugs (regardless of slipping a drug in her drink); a debilitating substance; or a health issue, she can’t consent to sex. If she’s unconscious (let’s say, passed out because she was slipped a drug or in a coma), she can’t consent to sex either.

And if you “succeed” at having nonconsensual sex with a woman, you’re a rapist. And if you try, but “don’t succeed” (as you so eloquently stated) at having nonconsensual sex, well then you’ve attempted rape. And IF these are behaviors you (or any other reader partakes in), then let me be clear: You cannot be trusted around women.

Why? Because you’re a sexual predator.

So Cee Lo, if you aren’t really a rapist like you claim, do us all a huge favor. Stop sounding like one.

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The Ever-Living Legacy of Michael Jackson Fri, 29 Aug 2014 20:03:42 +0000 rconway (Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

(Photo: Dave Hogan/Getty Images)

By Moriba Cummings

Today (Aug. 29) marks what would have been the 56th birthday of the late King of Pop, Michael Jackson. While every year on this very day, since his death, an influx of commemorative articles and think pieces chronicling the legend’s life swarm the Internet, I think it would be best to take a different route in remembering the immortality of his legacy by highlighting his inadvertent contribution to today’s biggest acts even after his passing.

“Legendary” is not a term that is lightly tossed around or simply added as a prefix to an “iconic” figure’s name — note to music aficionados and stan bases alike: “iconic” and “legendary” are not synonymous. Rather, it is considered an expression or title that is earned when the necessary channels of longevity, iconicity and inspiration are all combined. Only a handful of acts — if so many — in today’s music landscape can compare remotely, or are indirectly en route to being stationed in the legendary likeness of the King of Pop.

The first, and perhaps most obvious being the jane and master of all trades, Beyoncé. We know of the megastar from her larger-than-life performances, powerhouse vocals, unparalleled beauty and humble persona, but many remain ignorant of MJ’s approval of the pop star’s abilities.

While he was alive, Jackson, on many occasions, expressed his admiration for the then-budding icon, and, in return, she has cited him as her ultimate inspiration and musical muse. From her soulfully intricate choreography to the recently implemented cinematic makeover of her visuals — see her entire BEYONCÉ album — Queen Bey is likely to be the heiress to the royal throne.

Also outwardly inspired by the king is pop force Justin Timberlake. While music has its fair share of male MJ impersonators, only a select few do him justice without directly producing a carbon copy of the original recipe. JT has never been mum about the pop legend’s heavy hand in his performance and music style, but he has made it much more apparent on his third studio release, The 20/20 Experience.

Flaunting the snappy yet groovy production that Jackson indirectly created in “Strawberry Bubblegum” to the quickened melodies of “Cry Me a River” and “Tunnel Vision,” JT has had a little bit of the king sprinkled into his craft from the get-go.

Lastly, exempting the last three or four years, is R&B/pop comeback kid — fingers crossed — Chris Brown, who undoubtedly boasts a Jackson-esque air of performance perfection that does not come by often. Though, much like Jackson, he may not possess the most powerful voice among his musical counterparts, he more than makes up for it in his overall performance package, amplified largely in part by his hardcore dancing, elaborate stage setups and innate ability to please a crowd. In a music circuit that sees a new microwaveable MJ hot pocket heated up and subsequently devoured every year, Brown seems to last the test of time, regardless of what setbacks he may encounter along the way.

Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, Chris Brown — Though their respective stardoms shine at differing magnitudes, they all have vocally cited the ever-living entertainment force of Michael Jackson as the ultimate shining example of greatness. As we honor and celebrate his legacy on this day, we remember the age long saying that greatness of this immensity is often imitated, but never duplicated. Happy Birthday, King of Pop.

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What Problem?: Ariana Grande is Music’s New ‘It Girl’ Sat, 23 Aug 2014 18:14:17 +0000 rconway

(Photo: Larry Marano/Getty Images for Clear Channel)

By Moriba Cummings

Perhaps the most infamous superstition in the music industry is the fictitious yet credible myth of the sophomore slump. Artists, though they may say that “it’s never about the sales,” consider this the “make or break” moment of their careers. In the contemporary R&B/pop music circuit, stars such as Katy Perry (One of the Boys), Miguel (Kaleidoscope Dream), and Beyoncé (B’Day) have avoided the notorious curse with their sophomore releases, and pop’s newest chanteuse Ariana Grande is about to join the club.

After making an undeniable splash in pop music with her 2013-released debut Yours Truly, Grande managed to make the world listen, ditching the one-dimensional persona of “just an actress” that she diligently built over the years. Though many criticized the 21-year-old for her uncomfortably young look — which seems to be the opposite of what usually happens with today’s young stars — she made it work for her, making her powerhouse voice the focal point.

The album spawned its fair share of hits including the Mac Miller-assisted “The Way” and “Right There,” with Big Sean. While many definitely noticed Grande due to these popular cuts, it was the snappy “Baby I” which caught the world’s ears, prompting many to compare her tone to that of music great Mariah Carey; Many failed to understand how such a lush, distinctly full, and melodic voice emanated from the pint-sized package that the singer so modestly fashions.

In no time, following the instantaneous successes of her first three singles, the budding pop princess was ready for her closeup. Her debut album Yours Truly dropped on August 30, 2013, topping the Billboard 200, making her the first female artist to do so in three years. But, when one starts at the top, the real challenge begins: finding a way to stay there.

While many seem to descend from greatness after such noteworthy success the first time around, a select few manage to make it an “I’m just getting started” moment, with Grande being one of them. Set for an August 25, 2014, release, the young belter’s sophomore album My Everything is already expected to be the exclusive end-of-summer soundtrack, and much of this carefully calculated formula to success is due to her strategic selection of singles and collaborators.

A first single can singlehandedly determine the overall performance of an album — It is, in essence, the first piece of an entire puzzle that is going to be shoved down the masses’ throats for months, so it better be good. It seems as Grande and her team kept this sentiment in mind when choosing the right cut, all while strategically integrating another hot newcomer into the mix to make it an undeniable smash. Hot off the heels of her mega-hit “Fancy,” Aussie rapper Iggy Azalea jumped on board the actress-turned-singer’s first single “Problem,” and the impact was massive. Immediately following its release, the single skyrocketed to the No. 1 spot on the iTunes singles chart, and debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, earning the singer her biggest digital song sales week ever.

Maximizing on the hype garnered from “Problem,” Grande released the hugely popular dance number “Break Free,” three months later. Like its predecessor, the high-octane Zedd-assisted number shot to No. 1 on iTunes and No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

While building her brand and expanding her promotional regime for her upcoming album with these singles, the young singer knew that there were more whom she could reach through other avenues. Hence, she teamed up with UK vocal beast Jessie J, and hip hop’s reigning queen Nicki Minaj for the girl power anthem “Bang Bang” which benefitted from the Midas touch — perhaps, it should be renamed the Ariana touch — snagging the No. 1 spot on iTunes in a matter of minutes following its release. It currently sits at No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100.

So, with three singles in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 — two of her own, and one feature, — an upcoming opening number at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards, and the cover of Billboard magazine, it’s safe to say that Ariana Grande has found the rare antidote to the sophomore slump. With this in her possession, the release of her second full length LP My Everything on August 25 is sure to be another one for the books, and at the steady rate that the chart-topper is going, it looks like pop music is gearing up to crown its new princess.

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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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