B.o.B.'s "The Adventures of Bobby Ray"

Just seven years after Andre 3000 shattered every boundary and limitation Hip Hop ever really had with The Love Below, B.o.B. stands as the ideal culmination of that album’s incredible influence. Compelling, audacious, and genuinely upbeat and life-affirming (rather than “conscious,” pessimistic or whiny), B.o.B.’s The Adventures of Bobby Ray is definitely “Hip Hop,” but it may be the best Pop album you hear all year too.

Negro Is, Negro Ain't: On Erica Jong's Version of Oprah

Last week, Erica Jong wrote the most random “book review” (or something) I have ever read in my life.  In her Huffington Post blog, Jong, apparently charged with discussing Kitty Kelley’s recently published unauthorized biography of Oprah Winfrey, essentially writes about knowing both Winfrey and Kelley, and admits that she hasn’t actually finished the text in question.  (Note to self: Figure out how to get a gig like Erica Jong.)  In this latest version of “I knew [insert famous person] when…,” Jong had the following observation about the divine Ms. O:

THOUGHTS: Dr. Dre's Ready To DETOX, M.I.A.'s Not Impressed With Gaga, and Rihanna's Hitting The Road

 

Earlier this week, legendary producer Dr. Dre officially announced his intentions to release his long-awaited 3rd and (allegedly) final album, the now-mythical Detox, in 2010. Of course, we’ve heard this shit before; every year since 2007 or so has been the year Detox would finally see a release, and each time it never materialized. Officially the Chinese Democracy of Hip Hop, the internet practically exploded when Dre and Interscope exec Jimmy Iovine announced the album’s first single: “Under Pressure,” featuring Jay-Z.

Excited yet?

WHAT THE F@%! HAPPENED!? (PT. III): Amy Winehouse

 

On March 17th, 2009, Amy Winehouse made international headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Charged with assault after allegedly punching dancer Sherene Flash in the eye at a charity event, Winehouse walked into a media circus when she showed up at a London courthouse that day. Paparazzi were everywhere, scrambling to grab a quality shot of the embattled soul superstar. The court date forced Winehouse to cancel her “comeback gig” at the Coachella Music Festival in California, and would not be her first or last brush with the law.

In comparison to our previous cases (D’Angelo and Lauryn Hill), Amy Winehouse has only dropped out of site musically; all you have to do is hit up a celebrity news/tabloid blog site to find the latest happenings in the twisted, dysfunctional world of Amy Winehouse.  

Four years after an unprecedented and controversial rise to fame with the masterful Back to Black, It seems that Amy Winehouse is hopelessly lost in a sad, never-ending maze of drugs, violence and heartbreak. The obvious question arises…

WHAT THE F@%! HAPPENED?!

A Southern Gul, Southern Genius Feeding Her Own Meter

Though I am ostensibly a U.S. Citizen (some days it feels tenuous as hell), I also have a Crunchy Nation green card, which means my Twitter feed was full of earth mother goddesses, headwraps, and the like drooling over Erykah Badu’s new video for “Window Seat,” the lead single from her album, New Amerykah Part 2: Return of the Ankh.  They think it’s genius; they are probably right.  Erykah Badu makes the best music videos ever.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyrFxoTtluk&feature=rec-LGOUT-real_rev-rn-1r-2-HM

WHAT THE F@%! HAPPENED?! (PT. II): D'Angelo

Early on the morning of March 6th, 2010 Michael Eugene Archer, better known by his stage name D’Angelo, was arrested and charged with solicitation after allegedly propositioning an undercover female police officer for oral sex. D’Angelo requested a $40 blowjob from the young woman, yet upon searching his vehicle after the arrest, officers found $12,000 in cash stashed in his SUV. The incident made headlines across the country, many of them humorous and sarcastic (“D’Angelo: R&Busted!”, etc.), and news of the incident shocked both fans keeping track of D’s progress in regards to his recovery and return to music, as well as those who maybe haven’t thought much of the guy since he was half-naked on their TV screens every night for 3 or 4 months.

Now I guess after a decade of an utterly debilitating drug and alcohol addiction, and repeated run-ins with the law, one perhaps shouldn’t find such news all that shocking. But, delays and all, D’Angelo had seemed to be seriously getting the ball rolling on his looooooong-awaited third album, entitled James River. Collaborators had been announced, songs had been leaked; there were even reports that the guy had finally gotten clean, was hitting the gym, and potentially poised to make a triumphant return to the scene. And that only makes D’s most recent fuck-up all the more disappointing.

Ten years after taking R&B music to new heights, after becoming the sex symbol of the moment with his iconic “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” video, and after respected music critic Robert Christgau dubbed him “R&B Jesus”……

WHAT THE F@%! HAPPENED?!

Women’s Her-story Month: Why Not Sex Workers (Sofia Maldonado’s Mural)?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thzHCAjOgAI

There is a “moral panic” that Keysha Whitaker highlights in “Latin Female Artist draws criticism for Times Square Mural” brewing on the streets of Times Square where Sofia Maldonado, a young Puerto Rican-Cuban woman, is under fire for creating a mural that for many embodies the sins of rap videos . . . big booty black women . . . exotic looking Latina women . . . crouch mesmerizing poses . . . and at the end of the day “un-respectable” images of black and brown women. One incensed passerby said the mural harkens back to a time when 42th Street was a “red light” district . . . a place where prostitution . . . drugs . . . and un-catholic like debauchery reign supreme. People are mad not ordinary mad, but “witch-hunt” mad. Men of color are mad not ordinary mad, but I need to protect “my woman” mad. But the question is: why? Why are they mad? Why are they Mad Men?

And all that I can think of to answer this question is that these images are not “respectable” images. They do not paint black and brown women are Supreme Court Judges—Sonia Sotomayor—or as First Ladies—Michelle Obama—or as multi-billionaires—Oprah—or as activist— Linda Chavez-Thompson—or as writers—Sandra Cisneros. Nope . . . as one mural viewer said, “They look like prostitutes.” And in response to this I say [silent drum roll], why not sex workers? Why not a mural honoring sex workers during Women’s Her-story Month? Of course, this is not to say that the mural showcase sex workers, but the way in which people are talking about the images of the mural gives substance to the claim that people see the images as such.

What The F@%! Happened?!: LAURYN HILL

Over the next four weeks, I’ve decided to focus on some of my generations most-beloved Hip Hop/Soul artists that up and disappeared on our asses! Why did we love them, why did they fade into oblivion, and is there even a snowball’s chance in hell that they’ll come back to us one day? These are the questions I’ll attempt to answer for ya’ll.

So without further delay, let’s get into this week’s cry for help.

An obvious one….

Lauryn Hill