Category: music

June 1, 2009 / / beauty

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

I said it once and I’ll say it again, I love Mariah Carey.

mariah
I rarely try to justify this rabid adoration when I’m talking politics. Sometimes radical folks think that just because they like something, it must be radical. I’ve seen many bloggers look foolish this way. So I try to sidestep any probing questions as to why an incredibly serious and intellectual person like me (ahem) owns a Mariah wall calendar and tends to squeal deliriously when “Heartbreaker” plays over the supermarket PA system.

Usually when people ask why I so celebrate Mariah, I say “We’re both mixed race, and we’ve both experienced heartbreak. Obviiiiiously.”

But about a week ago, while discussing Nick Cannon’s accusations that the Mariah-inspired Eminem song “Bagpipes from Baghdad” was racist and sexist, the discussion that fell out of the post made me wonder if, after all, there was some need to untangle my Mariah love and its distant political underpinnings.

A little recap of the post and discussion: in trying to defend his wife against Eminem, Cannon proclaimed that Carey was a BLACK woman (the caps are his) and that it was time enough that white men like Eminem disrespected women of colour like Carey. He went on to compare Carey to Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, as examples of black queens that the black community should not allow to be disrespected. A lot of commenters said, “Right on, Nick!”

But a bunch said “Mariah Carey is black?” There were attempts to prove that she was not that black, by probing her bio and discussing her ethnic heritage in sixths and eights. Some suggested that she played both sides, emphasising her whiteness or her blackness according to which could sell more records, and that she was only black when it benefitted her. Some took offense at Cannon comparing Carey (who if half-white) to Obama and Winfrey (who are not half-white), frustrated by the fact that there was no recognition that Carey being light-skinned meant all sorts of light-skinned privilege, including more mainstream success than if she was darker-skinned.

I was taken aback. Truth be told I was unsure how Mariah herself identified. So I went back through the dusty internet archives, back to when Racialicious was Mixed Media Watch, to the first post I ever read on this site: Essence on Mariah Carey’s struggles with mixed race identity.

The post was interesting, but the comments were shocking. Commenters were incensed that Essence had identified Carey as a black woman. They were dismissive about Carey’s struggles with biraciality. Mostly the consensus was that Carey was a stupid rich poptart and that Essence was full of self-loathing idiots. Then again, I only read about the first 20 comments; it started to get too upsetting. Read the Post Going Back Like Babies and Pacifiers; Why I Love Mariah

May 22, 2009 / / Quoted
April 6, 2009 / / art

by Guest Contributor M.Dot, originally published at Model Minority

I think I have fallen in love with Camus (a dead white Algerian philosopher who argues that the death penalty is premeditated murder) and Anthony Hamilton simultaneously.

What does this have to do with being an artist? Everything, simply because over the last few days I have been apart of a few conversations on the tension between art and commerce.

Two days ago, on Twitter, Indieplanet and I were having a discussion about art, commerce, Joe Budden/Vlad flap up.

indieplanet @mdotwrites Its a bigger issue of basic ethics.
Too many blogs/video sites decide at some point to exchange
ethics for page views. 10:06 AM Jan 11th from web in reply to
mdotwrites

indieplanet @mdotwrites Re: Budden/Vlad – What are your
thoughts on the whole situation. I think its a bigger picture that
video sites should consider. 11:51 PM Jan 10th from web
in reply to mdotwrites

indieplanet @mdotwrites Shouldnt it be possible to make a
contribution AND get paid?? It is possible (not common)
to change the game & have morals 12:17 PM Jan 11th from web
in reply to mdotwrites

@indieplanet Its like running with the Dope man. Sooner or
later, someone is going to test you, and you are going to have
to choose. 12:23 PM Jan 11th from web in reply to indieplanet

Yesterday, Dart Adam’s sent me a link to an essay of his which outlined, amongst many things, how the The Telecommunication’s Act spearheaded mergers and acquisitions in radio and how these changes impacted hip hop.

To cap it off, yesterday, Brooklyn Bodega posted a Facebook note asking “Does Money Ruin it All?” He wrote,

the other day one of our family posted a comment that he was no fan of ‘Notorious’ because too many people had profited from its production. He cited Memebrs of Junior Mafia, Puff and I assume he also had a problem with Ms. Wallace as she looks to have been in charge and arguably received the largest check.

So the question is does the presence of money make it impossible to produce a work of pure artistic integrity?

The responses ranged from, “as long as the Wallace family is compensated then it is all good” to “making money is practical for everyone including artists”, and finally “this is a less of an issue of the evils of capitalism and rather a question of authenticity.”

Many of the comments reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of capitalism and both how it has historically impacted art and how it impacts hip hop and Black artists specifically. Because capital is productive property, there will always be a move to exploit the the property to obtain the most returns. Read the Post The Curse of Being a Black Artist

March 31, 2009 / / black

by Latoya Peterson

Reader Crash Happy tipped me to this provocative article published on SoulBounce, asking “How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women and Get Away with It?

Contributing editor Ro writes:

Someone please explain why Justin Timberlake continually gets a pass to fetishize and exploit the image of Black women. Right now. Because after watching him aggressively pulling on a chain wrapped around Ciara’s neck only to later use her bending body as a leaning post in her new video for “Love Sex Magic,” it’s getting ludicrously difficult to understand.

It been years since “Nipplegate” after which he distanced himself from Janet Jackson, cowardly allowing her to endure the overly harsh criticism alone. The outcry against his actions from those of us in the indignant minority was quickly overshadowed by an increase in album sales, multiple music awards and an increase in his Pop stardom miming Black music and culture. Instead of subjecting his next project with trepidation–let alone dismissal–nearly every “urban” club, radio station and music channel on the planet had the masses bumping to a song with a hook that’s about shackles, whipping and slavery.

From behind a wry smile and with his hair faded he actually tarnished a reigning, Black Pop star’s image arguably beyond repair by exposing her breast on national television and then built his street cred further by bringing sexy back, Middle Passage style. He’s transitioned from the post-racialist’s pop culture dream of somewhat harmlessly lusting after beautiful Black love interest in the video for “Like I Love You” into something more sinister. He uses the scapegoat of S&M edginess in which he is the aggressor, the dominant force, to subordinate his object of desire when she is Black.

Ro goes on to argue that while both Ciara and Janet Jackson chose to collaborate with Timberlake, “that just makes his ability to exploit their collaborations to the point that they are subjugated to his dominance, wittingly or not, more protestable.”

The comments over at SoulBounce were as provocative and engaging as the post. Here are a few of the choice ones:

You talk about JT “miming Black music and culture,” but until we get away from this insular view of racial ownership of culture (and a type of music) we will never be an integrated society. By making him out to be an imposter because he borrows from hip-hop and collaborates with black women (although his last popular single was with Madonna), aren’t you singling him out soley for the color of his skin and not the content of his musical product? That seems like precisely the kind of thing we are trying to get away from as a country.
Luce | March 25, 2009 5:02 PM | Permalink

Read the Post Soulbounce Asks “How Can Justin Timberlake Still Objectify Black Women And Get Away With It?”

March 3, 2009 / / art
February 19, 2009 / / academia

by Latoya Peterson

(Continued from Part 1)

LP: [We should] think some more about this formula, because it seems to me that with every year that passes, the formula gets whittled down into the need to find the next hit. Catchy hooks, lyrics, whatever – they just want a hit. And it appears that some of these [truths about life and culture] are becoming diluted. So before, the hits came because in some ways, we can relate to this pain, and relate to this anguish. But the people who are in charge of these [networks] are making decisions about what gets played but they don’t hear those things. Instead, the only hear violence, they only hear anger, they only hear rage and they decide to promote that. Is that a pattern you saw in your research?

TR: Yes. It shares the history of transition into the “mainstream” market. Just as the dances and dance steps and styles of singing that minstrelsy was based on was something quite different than what minstrelsy turned into, right? So there were origins of minstrelsy [rooted] in black cultural expression, but minstrelsy became a grotesque exaggeration that was basically seen through dominant eyes. So black women, in hip-hop, become, you know, big booty bitches and hos, gold diggers, divas, sex kittens, whatever else you want them to be because dominate society perceives black women that way. They’re baby mammas, they’re basically male appendages who are also hypersexual and sexually irresponsible. These are all part of dominant stereotypes! Now does that mean that sexually explicit material is bad? No! But it means that sexually explicit material that is destructive and self destroying is problematic! So this is directly related to the process underway. And also our normalization, our comfort with it. The fact that their isn’t much public critique inside the community for this kind of problem.

If you study the blues, or if you study any other black music, this is one of the things that happens. These forces are at play every single time. So this idea that music should be a revenue stream is fundamentally destructive.

Until we change the racial structures and gendered structures of society, then the larger dominant fantasies are going to rule the dominant marketplace. And that’s going to be problematic. It will be profitable, but it will be really problematic.

LP:
I recently attended an exhibit put on by the National Portrait Gallery here in Washington D.C. called “Recognize,” and you know, it’s kind of a history of hip-hop through portraiture and other forms of artistic expression. One of the things they mentioned in the introduction to the exhibit is that hip-hop has become part of the dominant youth culture around the globe. In almost every other country in the world, their youth scene involves a heavy element of hip-hop culture, and each country has put their own unique spin on the genre.

So I know, a lot of times in the United States – and in particular in your book – you focus on how things are seen through a black and white lens. That’s how our country started and it has been the defining conflict for us here. But did you think about hip-hop as a global culture when writing? How did it spread so much and why does it resonate with so many different types of people around the globe?

Read the Post Tricia Rose on The Hip-Hop Wars, Race, and Culture – Part 2

January 22, 2009 / / celebrities

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also Published At The Instant Callback

I admit, I spent most of Inauguration Day taking it all in quietly. Even my cynical heart warmed a little during the day. I didn’t have a thing to make fun of. Thank the stars ABC gave me the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball.

8:10 — Delayed start, but: Mary J. looked GREAT, and Will.i.am struck a good note — addition by subtraction of Fergie, perhaps?
8:19 — W. had Ricky Martin. O has Maroon 5. This is progress?!
8:20 — Robin Roberts! Yay! I remember when she was a SportsCenter rookie …
8:21 — Nick Cannon is as much a DJ as George Bush was a Decider.
8:22 — Mariah has a blinged-out mic stand. Take that, Mary J.!
8:25 — Oh shit, Denzel is there?
8:30 — Denzel arrives! PLYMOUTH ROCK, GET THE F-K OFF!
8:31 — Mariah can’t lend the President her mic stand?
8:32 — “How good-looking is my wife?” Epic.
8:34 — Is that Faith Hill next to Denzel?
8:34 — Beyonce nails the first note …

8:35 — Beyonce’s mic also had some bedazzle to it. Is this the next arms race? Read the Post LiveBlogging The Neighborhood Inaugural Ball

January 15, 2009 / / art

by Guest Contributor Bianca I. Laureano

I can’t remember where I was or whom I was with when I heard and realized that we are all temporarily able-bodied. I’m sure it was this decade, perhaps 2003, because I really had not thought about my privilege as an able-bodied person until I began my graduate work and met Angel, a woman in my cohort who was focusing on women of Color with disabilities. I also didn’t think about it until I lost one of my abilities.

Being trained as a scholar specializing in intersectional theory and thought, disability was a “difference” rarely mentioned and discussed unless Angel brought it up. We can see the continued absence and exclusion of people with disabilities in popular culture. Yet, if they are present, we mostly see how people with disabilities are considered anything but “normal,” and usually there is a level of wanting to find a “cure” to become “normal.”

What would images that view disability as a social construction look like? How can those of us who are educators incorporate discussions of disability into our teaching? Where are resources for us? How can we use popular culture when we teach about disability? Read the Post Disability & Music