Tag Archives: Beyonce

The Rise Of Beyoncé, The Fall Of Lauryn Hill: A Tale Of Two Icons

By Guest Contributor Janell Hobson; originally published at The Feminist Wire

Lauryn HillFifteen years ago, the stardom of then-23-year-old Lauryn Hill had peaked when she released what would become her defining musical legacy.  After rising to popularity as part of the hip-hop trio The Fugees, with fellow members Wyclef Jean and Pras, she later released her solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which went on to garner multiplatinum sales and five Grammy Awards for the recognizably brilliant singer-rapper.  Such accomplishments made her the first female artist to be nominated for and to win the most Grammys in a single night and her album the first hip-hop-themed work to win the Grammy’s top prize of Album of the Year.

Interestingly, the same year of Lauryn’s solo album debut, a 16-year-old who would later be known only by her first name – Beyoncé – also emerged on the pop scene when Destiny’s Child released their self-titled debut album.  And in a curious one-degree-of-separation of the two icons, Destiny’s Child’s collaboration with Wyclef on their song “No No No” led to the group’s first successfully released single, which topped R&B charts.

In retrospect, it seems easy to trace what would become a commingled narrative: one star rises while another one declines.  One star (Ms. Hill) presumably declined a starring role in the Hollywood faux-feminist blockbuster, Charlie’s Angels, while the other star (Beyoncé), along with fellow group members, provided the necessary “girl power” anthem – “Independent Women, Part I” – for the movie’s soundtrack.  One star virtually disappeared from the mainstream media while the other star appeared ubiquitously, covering every magazine from Sports Illustratedto Vogue to GQ to the feminist publication Ms.

One star proved a lyrical genius – rapping and crooning on politics, love, religion, and the resistance of corporate media – while the other preferred more superficial fanfare concerning clubbing, looking fabulous, and having her own money to spend as she fends off heartaches and trifling lovers, while occasionally championing women’s empowerment.  One star refused the pop-culture make-over, preferring instead to rock her natural hair and bask in her dark-skinned beauty, while the other has made a signature look out of blond weaves and other variations on white beauty standards that her light-skinned beauty can more easily appropriate.

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Open Thread: So, About Those New Beyonce Songs…

By Arturo R. García

(Note: Language NSFW)

Image via GlobalGrind.com

Technically, “Bow Down/I Been On” is a mini-medley of two different upcoming tracks from Beyonce. But the discussion surrounding them picked up steam Sunday afternoon and evening. The latter track has her vocals chopped and screwed, Houston-style. (MTV did provide a link to a “regular B” version)

It’s been interesting to see the early talk regarding the tracks. There’s been some focus on her code-switching (remarks about Beyonce “going hood” and/or defying/betraying her pop-friendly self, depending who you ask) and lashing out at her critics (the lines, “I took some time to live my life/but don’t think I am just his little wife” seem especially pointed, on top of the actual chorus). No release date has been posted (yet) for the full versions of either track, but let’s get your thoughts on what we’ve heard so far.

Monday Video Roundup

By Arturo R. García

In lieu of a regular roundup, something a little different, with all sorts of video goodies.

Rise of The “Harlem Shake”: First off, compare this:

To this:

The one up top, as The Root pointed out last week, is the actual Harlem Shake.
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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Beyoncé (With Shout-Outs To Tina Turner)

By Andrea Plaid

Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Via wallpapersbest.net

Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Via wallpapersbest.net

I find myself increasingly defending someone whom I otherwise wouldn’t look around at or wouldn’t listen to: Beyoncé.

I haven’t converted to listening to her discography: To me, she sounds like every other Black female soloist in a Black church choir, so her voice–her timbre and melisma–isn’t unicorn-unique to my ears. In fact, I find it gratingly common because I heard so many women with her voice every Sunday from the age of five to my late twenties; Beyoncé just has a better production team.

And, as I’ve said on the R, her female-empowerment messages aren’t my feminism:

[S]ome of folks who see Bey as “girl power” may have never heard of Valenti or may even want to be bothered with her writings or what they perceive to be “white feminism” that she embodies. Bey is their feminist text and their idea–and ideal. And whatnot…On the real though, Bey is not my sort of feminism–and that’s not blasphemous to say. Then again, neither were the Spice Girls…or the Riot Grrls, for that matter. And I remember folks tripped on each of those pop-cultural “generations” of feminist representations, too, trying to figure out their effects on younger people.

Feminism is rather malleable as each generation figures out what it means to them, even when we’re fighting the same old battles.  Or because of them.

And let’s not forget Beyoncé now-notorious photo layout in French Vogue, which she said was an homage to “African queens in the past” and “African rituals”:

Beyonce Blackface 5

And I was quite happy to leave Beyoncé to her ideas about race pride and “girl power” with a genuinely heartfelt “bless her heart”…until Harry Belafonte came along.

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The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup 2.8.13

By Arturo R. García and Kendra James

So God Made A Latino Farmer: While most of us watching the Super Bowl were creeped out by the latest GoDaddy crime against humanity, Dodge tried to get slick with its “So God Made A Farmer” ad, attaching the words of right-wing radio host Paul Harvey to a collage of “heartland” images depicting the agricultural trade.

Only there weren’t any Latinos in it. At all. Even though 72 percent of farm workers are immigrants. So the video above is Isaac Cubillo’s remixed version, which strikes us as a bit more true to life than Dodge’s appeal to the CMT crowd.–AG
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Links Roundup 2.7.13

The predictable conservative hand-wringing about Beyoncé’s Super Bowl show is exactly whythe recent “feminist” slut-shaming of Beyoncé bothered me so very much. In general, if you find yourself agreeing with the right-wing modesty police concerned about “the children” (and, weirdly, also “old people”?), it’s usually a red flag.

It’s interesting–and telling–that every conservative critic I’ve seen who took Beyoncé to task for “gyrating in a black teddy” acknowledged that, aside from all that awful sexiness, she’s a great performer. Kathryn Jean Lopez says that she “is talented, has a beautiful voice, and could be a role model” if only she wore “another outfit, perhaps without the crotch grabbing.” S.E. Cupp–who is no stranger to slut-shaming herself–notes that some performers need to rely on their sex appeal, but Beyoncé is “immensely talented” so it’s odd that she “would choose to make her sex appeal the main attraction.” Though “Single Ladies” is an “ode to female empowerment and self-worth,” Cupp writes, “humping the stage and flashing her lady bits to the camera” is “sad.” Rich Lowry says her performance “was stunning and athletic,” before going on to add, “as well as tasteless and unedifying.”

But flaunting her sex appeal automatically undermines Beyoncé’s talent and credibility as “role model” for these conservatives. (Just as it did for Freeman, too.) Since there seems to be some sort of superficial agreement between feminists and conservatives that “sexual objectification” is bad, let’s pause for a second to talk about exactly what it is and why it’s bad. For conservatives, it’s generally because of the sex. For feminists, it’s generally because of the objectification. And, importantly, objectification is not about presenting yourself as as sexual being–or even as an object of sexual desire. After all, that is a normal and fairly universal human urge–who doesn’t like to feel attractive sometimes? Objectification is about being dehumanized by being reduced solely to a sex object.  

In recent years, the Obama administration has detained and deported immigrants at a record-setting pace. Though the administration purports to target serious criminal offenders, critics say immigration laws paint “serious” in exceptionally broad strokes. The bulk of the 1.5 million people deported in the last four years were charged with minor violations, and many of these people would still find themselves subject to deportation even if they’re on track to legal status or have a green card.

And for immigrants pegged with a long list of convictions, detention before deportation is mandatory. Laws passed in the 1990’s took the power away from ICE agents and immigration judges to review the particulars of cases, release detainees or stop their deportation. Approximately two-thirds of the 400,000 detainees last year were held on a mandatory basis in one of the more than 300 facilities that dot the American landscape, without the possibility of release, according to the advocacy group Detention Watch Network.

Advocates hope that an immigration reform bill will begin to replace punitive lock up with alternative, community-based measures to keep track of non-citizens in deportation proceedings. Last week, President Obama nodded in that direction. The White House’s guiding principles for immigration reform note that the president’s proposal “allows DHS to better focus its detention resources on public safety and national security threats by expanding alternatives to detention and reducing overall detention costs.”

In 2012, the federal government spent over $2 billion on detention operations, a nearly 150 percent increase from just seven years ago. And the two leading private detention companies, Corrections Corporation of America and Geo Group, together netted about $425 million in revenues from their ICE contracts. The industry spends millions lobbying Congress.

Eventually, Calacanis took it to his blog, in a post entitled “Doing the Right Things.” It’s a shockingly un-self-aware document, even by the low standards of tech writing; it opens with the lines “I’m a white guy so I’m not allowed to talk about race. At least that’s what they tell me,” and goes downhill from there.

He drops the factoid “Ninety percent of the people in Silicon Valley were not born there” as a rebuttal to the straw-man charge “Silicon Valley is in some way a closed, secret society.” (Very few Bonesmen were born inside the Skull and Bones clubhouse at Yale, either.)

He jokingly apologizes to his father for the attenuation of identifiable white-ethnic identity in his mixed-race kids.

He posits that maybe those of us in the “1st world” shouldn’t be allowed to talk about “inequality,” because he “can’t talk about race because I’m white”—to show how illogical and unfair this prohibition against white people discussing race is. (He never names or identifies the “they” who have told him that as a white person he is not allowed to discuss race.)

He describes his former employee Rafat Ali: “much darker skin than mine (brown, but not black for those obsessed with the exact tone — really?)” It is unclear whether or not this is a joke, or if he actually thinks that Bouie or his other critics are “obsessed with the exact tone” of anyone’s skin.

Every job candidate lives in fear that a Google search could reveal incriminating indiscretions from a distant past. But a new study examining racial bias in the wording of online ads suggests that Google’s advertising algorithms may be unfairly associating some individuals with wrongdoing they didn’t commit.

After learning that a Google search for her own name surfaced an ad for a background check service hinting that she’d been arrested, Harvard University professor Latanya Sweeney set out to investigate whether race shaped online ad results. She searched over 2,000 “racially associated names” to determine if names “previously identified by others as being assigned at birth to more black or white babies” turned up ad results that indicated a criminal record. Specifically, she focused on ads purchased by companies that provide background checks used by employers.

Sweeney concluded that so-called black-identifying names were significantly more likely to be accompanied by text suggesting that person had an arrest record, regardless of whether a criminal record existed or not.

Rush Limbaugh thinks John Lewis should have been armed.

“If a lot of African-Americans back in the ’60s had guns and the legal right to use them for self-defense, you think they would have needed Selma?” he said recently on his radio show, referencing the 1965 voting rights campaign in which Lewis, now a congressman from Georgia, had his skull fractured by Alabama state troopers on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. “If John Lewis had had a gun, would he have been beat upside the head on the bridge?”

Right. Because a shootout between protesters and state troopers would have done so much more to secure the right to vote.

Incredibly, that’s not the stupidest thing anyone has said recently about the Civil Rights Movement.

No, that distinction goes to one Larry Ward, who claimed in an appearance on CNN that Martin Luther King would have supported Ward’s call for a Gun Appreciation Day “if he were alive today.” In other words, the premiere American pacifist of the 20th century would be singing the praises of guns, except that he was shot in the face with one 45 years ago.

Thus do social conservatives continue to rewrite the inconvenient truths of African-American history, repurposing that tale of incandescent triumph and inconsolable woe to make it useful within the crabbed corners of their failed and discredited dogma.

This seems an especially appropriate moment to call them on it. Not simply because Friday was the first day of Black History Month, but because Monday is the centenary of a signal event within that history.

Long story short, Lewis did not commit murder. He pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and then “did his best to help the prosecutors’ case” by testifying against the murder suspects. Ultimately, no one was ever convicted of murder in the deaths of Jacinth Baker and Richard Lollar–this was more about the strength of the case than Lewis’ crime.

Lewis was sentenced to 12 months’ probation, the maximum for a first-time offender, and later reached civil settlements with the families of both victims. He was also fined $250,000 by the NFL.

If he’s had a legal run-in since then, I’m unaware of it.

In part because of his run of on-field dominance, Lewis had managed to successfully rehabilitate his image. He starred in national advertising campaigns for the NFL Network, Under Armour, EA Sports and Old Spice, among others.

Lewis also has been involved in a number of charities in Baltimore, including his Ray Lewis 52 foundation which offers “personal and economic assistance to disadvantaged youth.” The foundation adopts 10 families in the city for the holidays, hosts food drives and raises money through a number of other endeavors. A portion of Baltimore’s North Avenue was renamed “Ray Lewis Way” in honor of his work in the community.

Until Lewis announced last month that he planned to retire, little had been said or written about that awful night in Atlanta 13 years ago.

Then all of a sudden, we were inundated with reminders.

The Racialicious Entertainment Roundup: 1.25-31.13

By Arturo R. García and Kendra James

Japan’s national team celebrates its’ victory at the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Via bustasports.com

World Baseball Classic: I was one of the five people in world outraged when baseball and softball were announced in 2005 to be ousted from the Summer Olympic Games for a variety of reasons. (One being that baseball didn’t have a large enough following outside of the United States; I can’t roll my eyes enough at that.) So, when the World Baseball Classic came around I was thrilled. Though, given all the attention America pays to the WBC, I’m probably the only one.

America hasn’t fared well in the WBC in the past; the best we’ve done is finish in 4th place over the 2 tournaments that’ve been played, with Japan winning both of them. South Korea and Cuba both have 2nd-place finishes. If you’re not heading down to Phoenix to catch the USA games live, you have to have one of the many ESPN channels or MLBTV to watch the games. You won’t find them on regular cable, and certainly not on network television, and that’s honestly a shame.
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Sights And Sounds From The 2013 Inauguration

President Barack Obama gives his second inaugural address. Via ABC News.

Inside the bowels of the Washington Convention Center, where President Obama and his wife would soon dance in front of a well-heeled crowd of supporters, Rosemary Weaver was holding court over a boxed sandwich-and-cookie lunch.

Forget the pundits and the critics who say the magic is missing from Obama’s second inaugural after a tough four-year slog. Don’t try telling that to this exuberant volunteer with an infectious laugh.

“Girl, it ain’t no less exciting,” Weaver tells me as table mates egg her on. “It was important enough for me to come out of my house when it’s cold.”

Suddenly the Maryland publicist stopped joking and collected her thoughts. “You want me to go deep?” she asked. “Our forefathers died for us to be here.”

– The Daily Beast

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