Beyonce's "4": THE REVIEW

It’s always dangerous when an artist has nothing left to prove.

But after winning 16 Grammy Awards, selling 75 million records worldwide, and inspiring an entire generation of female (and male) artists with her intoxicating brand of 70’s soul-meets-Hip Hop Pop, Beyonce has every right not to.

So what is initially so stunning about 4 is that it does not reflect an artist resting on her laurels. Beyonce has made the ballsy choice to push forward, to reach higher. It may not result in the number one hits and platinum plaques she (still) deserves, but she’s got enough of those.

4 is what happens when a great artist has nothing left to prove. And it is a stunning album.

Rihanna's "Man Down" Video, and the Irrelevance of the Parents Television Council

A couple days ago, Rihanna released the music video for her latest single, “Man Down,” a pop-reggae song that tells the story of a young woman’s guilt and regret after murdering a man that deeply wronged her. Check out the video below.

The cinematic clip fleshes out the song’s storyline, conveying that the root of her actions is a harrowing sexual assault in an alley after a house party. The video is expertly directed and paced for maximum impact; Rihanna is effervescent and gorgeous, interacting with friends and neighbors in her small, island town. She is innocently enjoying her life until tragedy literally emerges from out of the darkness and forces itself upon her, utterly breaking her spirit.

“Man Down” is a heartbreaking, complicated and brilliant music video.

And so of course the Parents Television Council and other useless, opportunistic, media-watchdog groups are “pissed.” Go figure.

Lady Gaga's "Born This Way": The Review

Lady Gaga’s second full-length album Born This Way opens with “Marry The Night,” one of the most epic pop songs you will ever hear. Clearly aimed to kickstart the album with the kind of massive statement MJ nailed with Thiller‘s ‘Wanna Be Startin’ Something,” “Marry The Night” opens with somber church organ and decidedly pensive vocals before erupting into a blast of synths, and never lets up. It sounds like classic Whitney Houston produced by Max Martin, and it is arguably the best song Lady Gaga has ever released. It’s that good.

Born This Way should crumble under the weight of such a masterful opening salvo (not to mention unbelievable hype), but it doesn’t. Not by a long shot.

Thanks, Psychology Today.

Okay, let me start by saying fuck Psychology Today. Now that I have that off of my chest, I’ll tell you why the respected publication has quickly tumbled from the ranks of respected publication to bona fide shit rag with just one misguided, misinformed post. Maybe I shouldn’t condemn the entire publication for the article posted by an obviously disturbed individual, but I will.

Who left the gates open and allowed this codswallop to even hit the internet?!

Sorry, Lauryn Hill. Your beauty isn't appreciated around here.

Lauryn Hill Plays Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Lauryn Hill shows up in the darnedest places these days.

Out of absolutely nowhere, Ms. Hill appeared on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, and performed not once but twice with her current touring band. Decked out in a flowing and (very) colorful outfit, Lauryn performed two exquisite covers Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” and “Chances Are.” You can view those performances here and here.

The Stank Eye Woman Syndrome and how Black Male Privilege is to Blame: Are Black Men Really Ignorant of how they “Compartmentalize” their “Female Friends”?

So, in the traditional way in which black people begin their stories, “What had happened was . . .”

I attended this event where one of my best male friends was hosting. Upon arriving my best male friend comes and says, pejoratively and with great amusement, “Your friend is over there,” hinting to a black woman who every time I see her she gives me what I can the “stank eye.” And, if you are a heterosexual black woman you are quite familiar with either giving the “stank eye” or receiving the “stank eye.” Long story short, my best friend decides to play what I call, “The Great Black Male Conciliator.” He decides to prompt the “stank eye” woman to reconcile with me. I should state at this point in the story, I am somewhat hazy on why every time I see this woman she gives me the “stank eye.” Anyways, she comes over and tries to be nice to me and, of course, it comes across as completely disingenuous.

So, after leaving the event, it came to me why this woman continues to give me the “stank eye.” And, it has everything to do with my best friend. The “stank eye” woman romantically likes my best friend and perceives me as competition. Because she only gives me the “stank eye” when I am with him. So, I call him up and tell him this. And, of course, he denies it and says in the way black men say, “We are just friends. We worked together to get Barack Obama elected. We spent a lot of time together doing that, but we are just friends. I know for a fact she does not like me in that way.” And, all I could say was, “Bullshit, you are completely impervious [let me use a smaller word, ignorant] of the privilege patriarchy gives you as a heterosexual man.”

Which brings us to the current discussion, “Are black men ignorant to how they engage their many female friends?”

Oh, Hell No not on Good Friday: The Movie the Help

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_ajv_6pUnI

I tell you, watching the trailer above all I could do is shake my hand and say, “Hell no.” Yes, I said “hell no” in the shonuff way my Great Aunt Bessie would say with hand on hip gossiping with the mothers of church while cooking Sunday dinner. I tell you, watching this trailer elicited something deep within me that said, “Here goes another movie of the good white woman saving the poor colored peoples.” Perhaps, I am not being entirely fair with my ardent, “Hell no” response. Perhaps, the movie will be liberating . . .  perhaps, it will be liberating for the good white women who treated their help “like family.” Perhaps, they will now have a movie to venerate their image from the real white women mean girls. All I have to say is, “Hell no.”

BEYONCE IS BACK, But Does She Still Rule The World?

She’s baaaaaaaaaack.

This past week, the hype machine went into overdrive with news of the coming storm that is Beyonce’s next album. Said to be released in June, this is a crucial moment in Bey’s career; she’s got some fierce competition for the Pop throne she once ruled with impunity.

But judging by the brief snippet of her new single, titled “Girls (That Rule The World),” and images of her ridiculously fierce get-up for the song’s highly anticipated music video, I’m thinking she’ll be alright.

On Rape and the Media Politics of Libya: “There’s a Stirring in the Pot…Stirring in My Soul”

As a young black girl like most children I told lies. I told big lies. I told small lies. I told white lies. I told lies. And, even had the audacity to argue with my “all seeing all knowing” do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do black grandmother about the usage of lie over her usage of “telling a story.” What does telling a story have to do with telling a lie? I tell you, this infuriated me. I prefer the word lie. Even though my grandmother and I had many disagreements over the terming of untruths often leaving my backside sore with resentment, she had a remarkable almost supernatural way of knowing when I, her precocious granddaughter, was telling her a lie. She would say with a type of black woman resolve, “There’s a stirring in the pot . . . there’s a stirring in my soul,” and before she could finish her statement I knew she knew that I had lied. And, boy did my sore backside know it too.

And, so in the tradition of my no nonsense black grandmother, I say, “There’s a stirring in the pot . . . there’s a stirring in my soul that something is not quite right about the media’s framing of the rape of Iman al-Obeidi by Gaddafi forces.”

Women's Herstory Month: Do You Know Any Border-Crossing Black Women?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uon9CcoHgwA

On the last Friday of Women’s Her-story Month, I want to honor black women who are what I call “border-crossers.” Border crossing is centered in the margins and “what moves people” . . . the fluid transmissions and the mergers. It comes out of womanism and black feminism. It comes out the frustration with borders and boundaries. It comes out of the need to build sustained and people-centered movements.