Category Archives: music

Nick Cannon Quoted: A Celebrity Battle Worth Watching?

by Special Correspondent Thea Lim

eminemcannonOk full disclosure: I’m a rabid Mariah Carey fan. Don’t hate.

We’re a little late on this breaking news from early May, when reports started to arise that Mr Mariah (also known as Nick Cannon) had posted a viciously worded blog entry about “Bagpipes from Baghdad”, the leaked track from Eminem’s new album that is ALL about Mariah Carey. (Srsly, it is a song totally dedicated to Mariah Carey. When I first heard the reports I assumed Eminem dropped her name once or twice. Instead it is a fairly incoherent rant denigrating all things Mariah. You can read the lyrics here. Prepare to be disgusted and baffled.)

What surprised me about Cannon’s post is where he decided to take this feud. I grabbed the excerpts below from EW.com, Black Voices, ShowStalker and Rap-Up. Cannon’s post – for better or worse – has since been removed. If anyone has a link to a cached version, lemme know…

I realized, that this so-called man has just disrespected and slanderized one of the world’s most significantly influential artists, one of the most notable BLACK females of our time, the incredibly cherished, globally loved and world-embraced woman of color, Mariah Carey…You sold your little records and made a little bit of change but now you are stepping in the wrong territory. You may have been able to rape and pillage our artform like an old school Caucasian con man and nobody said anything because we respected your talent, but now you’ve made the ultimate mistake

Maybe I’m going too far, but I thought we moved beyond the days where white men could spew vulgar obscenities at our beautiful queens and get away with it. What’s next? Are we going to let this trash say something horrible about our lovely first lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama? Or would Marshall have talked sideways out of his neck like this about Oprah Winfrey? This act of racist bigotry cannot go unnoticed. Calling my wife a “c-word” and a “whore” is way worse than anything Don Imus could have ever said. So trust, repercussions will be served.

I’m taking full action on you Eminem. I don’t know why no one has stood up to your bitch ass yet. But I guess it’s going to take a corny, wack rapping, boy toy from Nickelodeon to set you straight. And trust, I am going to be relentless. Even though I got a lot of other obligations and occupations, you are my new full time job “homey”! As a matter of fact I think you going to bring my wack rhymes out of retirement! That’s right haters; you can thank Eminem because I’m going to start rapping again!

I’m putting this out there now. Marshall Mathers, you need to holler at me on some grown man [s***]. Man to man, let’s meet up and deal with this like adults,” he wrote.

Considering how much of Eminem’s new album – and remixes – seems to be a cheap (and hey, desperate) attempt to bait Black America, could it be that the boy toy from Nickelodeon got it right? Or is Cannon being just as cheap, making this about race when it’s simply about grudges & personal relationships, and maybe a smidge of male posturing? I’m a lousy judge: I’m too blinded by my Mariah love and enduring desire to convince everyone that she really should be mascot for radical mixed race women of colour everywhere. Your thoughts?

PS A few days ago Eminem stated that Cannon “misinterpreted” the song and Eminem’s intention for the record was to merely express goodwill toward the Carey-Cannons. Mmmhmm.


Photo credit: Rap-Up

The Curse of Being a Black Artist

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. Continue reading

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

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

Continue reading

For Art’s Sake: the Arabesque Arts Festival

by Guest Contributor Yusra Tekbali 

All week, all I and my Arab and Arab-friendly friends (fellow Near Eastern studies graduates) have been talking about is Arabesque: Arts of the Arab World, being held at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  It is the largest congregation of Arab artists ever.

As a new Washington, D.C. resident, my status as an expatriate is two-fold: I’m not only an Arab outside ancestral terrain, but I’m far away from my niche, far away from the Arab household I was raised in and the community I grew up around. Needless to say I’m starving for some Libyan couscous (without the Parmesan) some falafel-flavored conversations (spicy) and Kunafah-esque affirmations. Give me some Arabesque!

Shukrun, Kennedy Center!

The three-week festival, presented in cooperation with The League of Arab States,   features 800 artists from around the Arab world: actors, dancers, musicians, writers, filmmakers, etc. Finally,  a diverse representation  of Arab culture! Finally, Arab women celebrating their own talent! Finally, Arabs in America as artists boasting their rich, splendid, unique traditions, the classical good stuff, not the plastic dolls and imitation pop stars, but the ‘oud, the whirling dervishes, the dabke. No western imitations and American idolizing here. No, this is purely Arab art–our own. These are our poets reciting our Diwan, our calligraphy; these are our own Arab men and women succeeding together. As this Washington Post editorial points out, this is huge!

Shayma & Amina, the Bahraini 'oud musiciansLocal Washington, D.C. papers like The Washington City Paper gave some love. Check out their very short profile of two Bahraini girls playing the ‘oud (pictured left). It’s short, but sometimes shorter is sweeter–and more effective. The headline reads, “Arabesque Festival Starts off with Grrl Power.” Without even reading the article, you’ve already connected the words Arab and Girl Power. It gets  better. Right underneath the headline is a photo of the artists, traditionally clad in headscarves and abayas, playing a traditionally male-dominated instrument.

The Examiner, another local paper, calls the art a cultural treasure, which shows that, contrary to other media accounts of death and destruction and intolerance in the Middle East, its people really do value art, and are concerned with preserving its significance in their culture.

To my surprise and disappointment, I found nothing at The New York Times. My Google search only returned a Times article from 2008, which only mentions the festival in general terms of the Kennedy Center’s upcoming season. Nothing from The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, or the BBC. I thought for sure Al Jazeera would have a full-length preview at least, but I found no reports even mentioning the festival. Only IslamOnline did. One of the most detailed articles was a press release from The Jordan Embassy.

This Associated Press article was circulated in a couple papers. It’s good, but I was expecting more articles previewing the individual artists. Afterall, this is the largest congregation of Arab artists the world has ever seen, ever. There are 800 of them, instead of lumping their work together under the scope of the festival, I would have preferred to see a few individual profile pieces. Like the piece with the female Bahraini ‘oud musicians, only longer.

Like this detailed interview with Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser from The Online News Hour at PBS. Mr. Kaiser says it’s not just about the art:

“I believe that this festival is going to help people to understand Arab people, to understand their aesthetic tastes, to understand their hospitality and their generosity and their passion, and we’ll start to understand them not just as political beings, but as human beings.”

Amen to that!

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

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?

Continue reading

LiveBlogging The Neighborhood Inaugural Ball

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? Continue reading

Disability & Music

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? Continue reading

Cadillac Records

by Guest Contributor SLB, originally posted at Postbougie

I think if we’re all quite honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that the methods to approaching big-screen biopics are finite—especially biopics about musicians. In order for people’s lives to warrant the silver screen treatment in the first place, those lives have to possess extremes—a series of extenuating events that can be exploited for the highest dramatic impact the actors can generate. And face it: biopics are only as good as their actors. Sure, the writing has to be passable. If you’re lucky, the writing makes the actors’ jobs easy, but to our main point: the lives themselves provide the pathos. The writers need only heighten it. Yes, there are glaring historical omissions. Yes, there are all kinds of melodramatic liberties taken—especially in the film’s second to last scene of this film. But that, too, comes with the predictable territory of biopics, and good actors mine that melodrama for all its worth. That’s what makes a decent biopic so watchable.

Everyone involved in Darnell Martin’s Cadillac Records understands the pecking order of the biopic genre—which is precisely why this one works so well. Fortunately, the casting directors brought their A-game, tapping Adrien Brody as Leonard Chess, the Jewish-Polish immigrant who founded the most successful Blues and R&B label in Chicago history, Chess Records, and the incomparable Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, Chess’s flagship artist.

With Brody and Wright anchoring the film, the substantial supporting cast had no choice but to tow the Oscar-caliber line and, with very few exceptions, they did. Granted, Cedric the Entertainer was probably miscast as songwriter Willie Dixon. He always sounds like he’s faking an accent, rather than playing a role. It’s as though his acting ability doesn’t extend beyond varying the tenor of his voice. But since he was only in a few scenes, total (even his role as the narrator didn’t yield him that many lines), he wasn’t distracting at all. Continue reading