Monday, November 25, 2013

American Music Awards: Wraps and SANGING

Hey everybody!!! You know it just wouldn't be right if I didn't do a recap for the most recent awards show: The American Music Awards.  I'm not going to lie it was hard to concentrate because there were other things I wanted to watch, in particular Carol Burnett receiving the Mark Twain Prize (I'm a huge fan of hers).  But the pop culture guide in me would not let me miss the show.  Here are my highlights:

Pitbull's Opening Monologue I am assuming that everybody else in Hollywood was booked Sunday night and Pitbull was the the only one free.  His opening monologue was very stale.  He was trying to ride the "twerking" train and at this point, I think everybody is over it.  Honestly, not sure why they even had a host.  I think he was on stage for an overall 5 minutes the whole 3 hour show.

It was the Justin Timberlake Show Let's all take a minute to give JT another round of applause. Even though his performance was giving me Mumford and Sons, I was totally feeling it. Not only did he make an awesome comeback after like 7 years (20/20 is that sh*t), but apparently, he has taken over the R&B genre.  This leads me to another point: why is it that JT can cross the color lines into R&B but Rihanna can't cross those same lines into Pop.  There is no way you would consider Suite and Tie Pop, but for some odd reason Found Love in a Hopeless Place is the epitome of R&B.  I will never understand this, but yeah, whatever.

Shine Bright like a Diamond Studded Bobby Pin When African American women wrap their hair, it means it's time for bed. But in Rihanna's case, it's time to leave for the American Music Awards.  I am not sure if her hair stylist ran out of time or what but she wore that wrap with the most confidence.  However, it didn't stop there.  When she performed she decided to take it up a notch and added diamond studded bobby pins.  You read that correctly. Diamond. Studded. Bobby. Pins.  But what makes me really mad is that I know that all the teens and 20 somethings will be wearing wraps and bobby pins in the next few weeks.  You remember when Solange wore those box braids and then the next thing you know everybody was wearing them?  The beauty supply stores are going to be selling diamond studded bobby pins in all colors by mid-2014.  But I ain't made at you Rihanna and congrats on your Icon Award.

TLC Performs with the help of Lil' Mama If you go back a couple of posts you know that I love me some TLC.  So I was excited about their performance on the American Music Awards show.  But what took this performance to another level was having Lil' Mama stand in for Left Eye.  If you saw the movie you will know that Lil' Mama hit it out of the park with her portrayal of Left Eye so it was fitting for her to do the rap on Waterfalls.  Some people on my timeline was not feeling it but she gets two thumbs up from me.

Ariana Grande Can SANG If you had any doubts about Ariana's talent, those doubts were squashed Sunday night.  Homegirl can SANG as we say in the black community.  She really has a Mariah Carey feel to her.  I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for her.

The American Music Awards Show was underwhelming and long.  But like any other award show, there is always going to be that one thing that stands out.

What were your feeling about the show?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Christianity: The New Reality TV Moneymaker

If you do not know by now, reality TV has taken over.  For the last decade, regular people have become stars from doing regular stuff.  From housewives, to bakeries, to weight loss competitions, to dancing, to singing, to bad girls: these things plus more have found its way into a reality television program.  But the American audiences are not the only ones that love these programs; cable networks do too.  As they should. These programs are crazy cheap to make compared to scripted shows and they don't have to worry about dealing with celebrities with huge egos that want a million dollars per episode.  Even with the popularity of reality TV, you would think that some subjects would be too sacred to touch.  But as my mom use to say, "If you think this world can't get any worse, just wait a few minutes." 

[Disclaimer: I am not trying to convert anyone to Christianity.  This is just strictly my opinion of the shows mentioned.] 


In the last month, the cable channel, Oxygen, has premiered Preachers of L.A. and now Bravo has launched Thicker than Water.  Before that, TLC had Preacher Wives.  All of these shows showcase pastors, bishops, reverends, first ladies, or whatever they want to be called living lives as lavish as rappers and ball players.  You see them in the big fancy homes (or mansions to be more specific) and luxury cars.  They can all be seen with flashy jewelry draping their wrists and necks.   If I was just flipping through the channels I would think I had stumbled upon a repeat episode of MTV Cribs.  Surprisingly (or maybe not), they have no shame in showing others how God has "bless" them.

I don't even know where to start.  Like I'm dead serious; the blasphemy in these shows gave me writer's block for a second.  All that keeps coming to mind is that working class members of mega church congregations have funded these "men of God" with multiple homes and thousand dollars suits.  These so-called shepherds make millions off book deals, movies, and music using God's word.  Some of them boldly preach: someone has to have this stuff, why not me?

For centuries, religion has been seen as sacred.  Even when you are in a place of worship you conduct yourself a different way because of it's sanctity.  Now religion is being shown on TV as casually as pageant girls.  It is now considered weekly entertainment.  Some might say that those who are not a part of organized religion are getting exposed to Christianity.  But can you honestly say that Preachers of L.A. and Thicker than Water are bringing people to the good news?  People who are already skeptical of religion are not going to watch these men in Armani suits and  run to their local place of worship.  These shows do the exact opposite. 

What about the excuse that God wants them to have these things?  Well, preacher man let me introduce you to a king.  King Solomon to be exact.  The thing about King Solomon was that he was the richest king of his time.  In in his words:
"I accumulated silver and gold for myself, the treasures of kings and of provinces.  I gathered male and female singers for myself, as well as what brings great pleasure to the sons of men-- a woman, yes, many women.  So I grew great and surpassed anyone prior to me in Jerusalem..... But when I reflected on all the works that my own hands had done and on all the hard work that I had toiled to accomplish, I saw that everything was futile, a chasing after the wind."  --Ecclesisastes 2:8,9,11 New World Translation, 2013
Now what moves me the most is the last part of verse 11: a chasing after the wind.  King Solomon compared all his riches to chasing after the wind.  Some people might see material things as a reward of hard work but Solomon refer to these material things as futile.  Yes, futile also known as useless, unimportant, or frivolous.  God could have inspired (2 Timothy 3:16) anybody to write this in the Bible but He chose to have the richest king record this verse. 

Now rather you believe in God or not this is such a beautiful scripture.  You see, Jehovah God knew we would not all be able to acquire riches.  He also knew we would be surrounded by people with many things and because of our imperfections we could easily become envious of those who do have many things.  Jehovah wanted us all to know that riches were not important and does not define our lives.  However, how we live our lives is what define us. 

You will not get a weekly recap of the previously mention shows because I can't stand to watch more than five minutes.  These shows will not be getting anybody to wake up early on Sunday and visit a place of worship.  The men who choose to partake in these shows need to  take a look at their instruction manual (the Bible) and see what it has to say about their lifestyles (Matthew 6:24). 

What are your thoughts on Preacher of L.A. or Thicker Than Water?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nelly, Hip Hop, and Charity

 I am a huge fan of HuffPost Live. They have interesting segments from interviews with various celebrities to debates on  rather college athletes should get paid.  This week HuffPost Live interviewed the Show Me State rapper, Nelly.  During Nelly's interview he was asked about the tip drill incident that happened circa 2004.  Nelly gave his honest thoughts on the incident. 

If you don't know about it, let me bring you up to speed. 

BET use to have this program called Uncut.  Uncut showed videos that could not be seen on the teen targeted 106 & Park.  Nelly had a video on there called "Tip Drill".  Now I have to admit that the song is very catchy and most definitely a club banger.  As far as the video is concerned, it was almost too X-rated for Uncut, leaning more towards softcore pornSomething else I should point out about this program is that it was mostly underground/unknown rappers.  It just seemed out of place to have such an established, mainstreamed artist like Nelly doing an uncut video.  Some time after the video had been out, Nelly planned a bone marrow drive event at Spelman College, an all girls institution.  Some woman at the event chose to protest the event because of the "Tip Drill" video.  Needless to say, Nelly wasn't too happy.

Nelly said in the interview that the bone marrow drive was not the time or place to do the protest or have a discussion about the infamous video.  Nelly was trying to find a bone marrow match for his sister and that should have been the priority.  Nelly further goes in about how others have given hip hop a bad rep and notes that every rapper he knows has a charitable nonprofit.  When asked if he would change anything about the Spelman incident, he boldly says that he would "kick somebody's a**."  Yep, that's right Nelly.  How dare people give hip hop a bad rep after you make a statement saying  that if you could redo the event you would whip somebody at an all girls' college.  Very honorable.

First let's get into the Spelman incident (I won't spend too much time on it because it is about 10 years old).  Nelly was asking the same women whose image he had tarnished to support him.  He wanted these woman to put their differences aside to possibly save his sister (who has now passed).  I, too, have lost a close family member because of cancer so I can understand his pain. The problem was Nelly's audacity.  He didn't realize the caliber of women he was approaching.  These woman did not aspire to be "tip drills" but lawyers and doctors.  These women (like most college women)  are being challenge to examine the world around them and make some sense of it. For them, it didn't make sense for an artist, who had a popular video with woman being hit on the behind, to have the audacity to approach them to aid him in his efforts.  You can't bite the hand you are going to later ask to feed you. 

He also says in the interview they [women of Spelman] are no longer protesting his song.  We as black women are always protesting for our image.  I agree that "Tip Drill" was not the first degrading video nor will it be the last.  However, hip hop artists need to understand that we are tired of our black bodies being seen as merely sex objects.  We are tired of seeing the played out concept of rappers throwing dollar bills at black strippers.  And we are tired of the only attire you see a woman wearing in a rap video is a fur bikini (that's not even practical).  I'm sorry that Nelly lost his sister, but it needs to be made clear that you can't ask for our support when you do not support us where it counts.  (It has been noted in the comment section of the interview by Spelman alums that were attending the school during that time that the bone marrow drive went on as planned but the women were disappointed that Nelly would not have a conversation with them about the video.)

The other bone I have to pick is the whole "I give back to my community so what's the problem?".  The problem is you can't crap on our image on a national level and then expect us to ignore it because you gave toys to poor kids during Christmas.  It just doesn't work that way.  Doing good deeds does not excuse you from taking social responsibility.  If I'm caught stealing on my job, I can't say "Well you know, I always bring doughnuts to the office for breakfast." No! I will be fired.  That how it works: you do not-so-good stuff and you suffer whatever consequences follows. 

I hate Nelly lost his sister, I really do.  Nelly might have thought it wasn't the time to discuss his risqué video but if not when he is on a campus full of black women then when?  Rappers might be donating millions of dollars to Boys and Girls Clubs but are they really doing that community justice  when the same girls they are "helping"  are seeing older images of themselves gyrating on the TV screen?

What are your thoughts? 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Style and Fashion with Korto Momolu

Hey everybody!!! I proudly present to you the first interview for my newest blog, EBONY, The Stylist: Project Runway's designer Korto Momolu.  Ms. Momolu made her debut on Project Runway during season 5.  She can be currently seen on Project Runway All Stars that comes on Lifetime, Thursdays 9/8c.  Tune in to the interview as Korto discusses what inspired her to be a designer, her experience on Project Runway, and the fashion industry.