[In honor of Throwback Thursdays I'm posting this piece from 2005, originally published in the Sun Chronicle.]
I know what they say about respecting your elders and obeying your parents and all, but to tell you the truth, I spent the better part of my formative years snickering at most of my mom’s advice. What she thought of as safety and caution I viewed as the beginnings of full-blown paranoia.
I didn’t see the need to slather on sunblock before going outside.
I laughed when she clutched her purse close to her side at malls, fearful of some thief lurking in the shadows.
And I was puzzled when she locked the deadbolts on all of our doors; we lived in a town where the most newsworthy event was a raccoon getting into the garbage. Continue reading
In a recent interview, Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis said the public’s reaction to her natural had been “huge.”
“I think people admire the boldness of it, and the courage of it,” she told interviewer Kam Williams. “For me, personally, it represents my coming into who I am, not apologizing for it and being comfortable with the way I look. I have been amazed by the testimonies … especially from women of color who have thanked me for it.”
While I too commend Davis for going natural in Hollywood, it struck me as incredibly sad that wearing hair in its natural God-given, or universe-given, or whatever you believe in-given state, would be considered an act of bravery in our day and age, while having long, flowing tresses that were purchased at the beauty shop is the new norm.
It’s true that going natural has become more embraced over the years, but it still represents a rejection of cultural messaging that tells us that silky, straight, and smooth is the standard we should all aspire to…continue reading at Madame Noire.
When I heard about the death of Kris Kross member Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, I instantly recalled the first time I saw the video for their smash 1992 single “Jump.” Like the two rappers on the TV screen, I was 14, but I wasn’t recording hit singles or touring with Michael Jackson. My parents were getting divorced and I was living in the basement of my uncle’s house, where the concrete floor always left my feet cold. Living there made me feel sad and lost, but when I watched the video, I didn’t feel sad. I felt alive.
Sure, the beat was infectious, the chorus was catchy and the verses were slick. But for me, the song had a deeper significance. At an age typically defined by awkwardness and insecurity, Chris Kelly and Chris Smith had swagger, before that’s what we called it. They were two teens so skilled that they rapped better than most adults, so confident that they’d started their own fashion trend. Their baggy pants, braided hair and reversed sports jerseys and jackets suggested that they’d found their identity at a time when so many of us were desperately searching for one…continue reading at theGrio.
Rick Ross has rightfully caught flak for lyrics that allude to date rape on the song “U.O.E.N.O. (You Ain’t Even Know It),” a track from Atlanta rapper Rocko which also features up-and-coming artist Future.
Amid talk of having “a hundred rounds in this AR” and “a bag of b*tches,” Ross raps: “Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it / I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it,” offering up a virtual instruction manual for how to drug and rape a woman.
The Rick Ross backlash has begun
The lyrics have prompted a justified backlash on multiple fronts. Petitions have been launched on RapRehab.com and Change.org denouncing Ross’ lyrics and calling for the music industry to take greater responsibility for the content it promotes…Continue reading at theGrio.com.
I’ve been thinking about you lately, and it makes me sad. I guess it’s because the anger has subsided, and the denial has subsided, and now I’m just left with the truth: I miss you. It’s hard for me to fathom that I’ll never see you again. Never talk to you. I know you would have been the first person to check on me after the Boston Marathon explosions. You would have been the first person I told about my appearance on that nationally syndicated radio show. I feel your absence on birthdays and holidays, when your cards no longer arrive. I think of you on daylight savings, when you’d always remind me to set my clocks back or turn them ahead, even when my clock was a phone that adjusted to daylight savings time automatically. But you don’t remind me anymore, because you are not here. You are gone. Continue reading
Boston has been a city on edge, but Fleetwood Mac helped to take the edge off with a dazzling 2 1/2-hour show at the TD Garden on Thursday night.
While a regional response team stood ready with assault rifles outside the venue in the wake of the Boston Marathon explosions, the legendary rock group charmed a packed house of fans — mostly of the middle-aged variety — inside the Garden.
The group’s 23-song set mixed classic hits with lesser-known material and two new songs — “Sad Angel” and “Without You” — off a forthcoming EP. Continue reading
[Originally published in the Boston Herald in April of 2011.]
Sean “Diddy” Combs is the rap mogul prototype. The one-time label exec at Uptown Records
founded Bad Boy Records as well as two clothing lines, two restaurants and the multi-faceted Bad Boy
Worldwide Entertainment Group. He’s also executive-produced such artists as
Mary J. Blige, Jodeci and the late Notorious B.I.G., forged a successful solo rap career and served as head
honcho and star of the MTV reality show “Making the Band.”
While the 41-year-old’s resume certainly qualifies him to give orders to less experienced
artists, bandmates in his latest venture, Diddy-Dirty Money — coming Thursday to the House of Blues — say he’s no hip-hop tyrant. Kalenna Harper
and former Danity Kane member Dawn Richard describe the group as more of a democracy than a
“He can make so many decisions on his own, he can do anything on his own, but for him to have trust in
what we say, it’s like, wow,” Harper said during a phone interview before the group’s show in Chicago.
“He always asks what we think, and
if someone consults him for a decision, he’ll be like ‘What did Dawn and Kalenna say?’” Continue reading
[Originally published in the Boston Herald.]
Brother Ali has a word of advice for fans dismayed by the state of mainstream hip-hop: disconnect.
“To people who are complaining about hip-hop, it’s like, just don’t listen to it,” the albino rapper said while en route to Ann Arbor, Mich. “Don’t go to the shows. Don’t listen to the radio. Don’t turn on BET or MTV or whatever it is you don’t like. Just don’t watch it — and support what you do like.”
That’s not to say the Muslim from Minneapolis is out to dis popular artists. He mixes suggestions for peaceful resistance with empathy for bling rappers.
“I run into a lot of college kids who are like, ‘Oh yeah, I hate that bling-bling s—,’” Ali said. “I’m like, ‘Man, you’re sittin’ there in college that your parents are paying for. These people don’t have parents. Either their dad is gone and their mom is hooked on drugs or their mom is working two jobs. You can’t blame these kids for what they’re doing.
“It’s the same as somebody who signs up for the Marines,” he continued. “They don’t want to go kill people, but they want a career.”
Ali can relate to that kind of desperation. Continue reading
[Originally published in the Boston Herald in June of 2007.]
Some stars reflect on past mistakes and claim they wouldn’t change a thing. Not Stevie Nicks.
The rock goddess, who plays the Tweeter Center tomorrow with Chris Isaak, may weave layers of ambiguity through her songs, but she’s straightforward about her desire to erase almost two decades of drug abuse.
Nicks battled a cocaine habit from 1977 to 1986, and almost immediately after, an eight-year addiction to the tranquilizer Klonopin.
“I would absolutely do it differently,” Nicks said from a tour stop in New York City. “Cocaine almost ruined my life. And if I hadn’t done Klonopin, I would have made two or three more fantastic albums. I lost most of my 40s to Klonopin and that really makes me mad, because your 40s are great. Maybe that’s why I see through 40-year-old eyes, because I lost my 40s, so I’m trying to get a little of my 40s back.”
If Nicks is making up for lost time, she’s doing it in style. For her Crystal Visions Tour, the singer/songwriter has a girly new wardrobe that helps her slip into the persona of an ageless rock star even as she creeps toward 60. Continue reading