Finding Your Flow: 21 Day Meditation with Deepak and Oprah

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I was recently discharged from an abusive employer (happy about that), I am about four months pregnant with my third child at 33 years old, my children are happy, I am in a very loving relationship with the man of my dreams, I have progressed as an artists/writer, and life seems to be flowing perfectly. However, I am in a very transitional space. I still have no clue what I want to do with my life. I want to be a life coach, I want to travel, I want to be a stay at home mom, I want to write books, I want to turn my books into plays, I want to start social media management again, and I want to start a movement! I decided to partake in Oprah and Deepak’s newest 21 day meditation “Finding Your Flow.”

This is 21 Days of guided meditation geared toward shaping life energies toward a free-flowing space of productivity and peace. I plan to document the experience by engaging in the meditation each morning then blogging my vibe/reflections after the meditation. Each blog post will be labeled with the title of overall meditation, the day and title of the meditation focus for that day. I don’t want to go on this journey expecting an answer or trying to shape the end result. I am going to relax, stay open, and submit to the meditation practice.

What better place to blog this journey than REGRET NOTHING WRITE EVERYTHING!

Here we go! Let the journey begin!

 

Top 5 “You Didn’t Have to Do that” Moments in Music this Quarter

Publicity stunts are a common method of gaining attention for the purposes of selling albums or pushing products. However, there are five identifiable times in the last quarter that Hip Hop & R&B artist have taken their stunts to a questionable level. These superstars are super in the eyes of those who like their music. Their personal choices are not so super at all in these five instances.

xlargeimage from http://www.jezebel.com

5. Beyonce, did not have to call women b*tches or tell them to “bow down.” Let’s see, you blew the lights out at the Super Bowl, plastered your face on a Pepsi can and gave your usual generic self in an HBO special. Did you really need the attention from “bow down bitches?”

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image from http://www.datpiff.com

4. Lil Wayne, did not need that last cup of lean. Dude, you have epilepsy. Admit it! By the way, your cups of lean must have leaned your lyrics because “I Am Not a Human Being II” is filled with ridiculous nonsensical metaphors. You used to be more crafty. Metaphors are great when clever else they are cheesy. You have always been the “shock-value” rapper. Lately, I have become less shocked and more appalled.

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image from http://www.mirror.co.uk

3. Justin Bieber, you did not have to spit in a neighbor’s face, rough up a photographer, and try for the gangsta look. I get it! You’re trying to transition into adulthood while you’ve been viewed as little cool white kid with a middle school vibe. However, you have the opportunity to get features on grown-up music and not have to go to court for it! Try that!

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image from http://www.huffingtonpost.com

2. Jay Z, you did not have to mention Obama in your rhymes to make us see you as king. Who was your open letter to? We see you tail-wagging at the political events! We get it. You’ve been to the White House. Yippee! You’re a smart dude so either you’re about to use this as some type of platform or Obama has a trick up his sleeve. Either way the “politicians never done nothing for me” line was a bit of a stretch being that you’re all over the Obama campaign. You’re still a hood dude. You got something out of the deal. A trip to Cuba maybe?

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1. Rick Ross, you did not have to rape a woman in your verse. It’s not a line about rape, you reply? It’s not a line about rape it is rape! You live in a male dominant society where just about anything can fly out of your mouth about a woman. Well, anything except date rape dumbass! You will quickly be shown who’s the “bawse” when you decide to slip a woman molly then have sex with her without her knowing. You thought that was cool? Dude you had the Reebok deal on deck, Wale’s album about to drop, and a bunch of cool non-rape shit about to happen. Did you really need to do that?

Overall, these artists are talented in their own right. I am not sure what has them scrambling for attention, but it seems to be pretty damn important to them. Maybe even more important than the brands they have created or could create in the future.

LIVE DC: K. Michelle at the Howard Theatre

WRITTEN BY: SHELLY BELL
ORIGINALLY PRESSED BY: Brightest Young Things (BYT)
February 25, 2013

All photos courtesy K. Michelle

K. Michelle – An artist most comfortable in her own skin as evidenced by her getting completely nude during my backstage interview following a phenomenal performance at the Howard Theatre, DC. She has been noted by media as dramatic, ratchet, and nonsensical even. However, she is a classically trained pianist, a guitarist and walks in an honesty that most are afraid of. She’s Tennessee’s finest crazy, sexy, cool star most known for her appearance on VH1‘s “Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta.”

Fans were onboard and ready to ride the “K. Wave” from the first note of opening song “You Gonna Learn Today.” She was the same sincere authentic character from the reality show cracking jokes with catchphrases like “F*ck the haters, they make ya roots itch.” With a salute to R&B singers she performed her rendition of her favorite songs by Monica, Mary J. Blidge, and Brandy. Her way of showing love for Go-Go music was an unsuccessful attempt at Jill Scott’s “Love.” Without congas a cowbell or some instrument to give a Go-Go sound – It’s not a Go-Go song! DC appreciated the attempt.

The highlights of the show included a bold yet entertaining serenade of “Can’t Raise a Man,” to pictures of her ex-lover and NY Knicks player J.R. Smith on the LCD screens. The show took an emotional turn with her teary-eyed heartfelt somber performance of “I Don’t Like Me” while sitting in front of a vanity mirror. “No matter how many wigs I put on, or how cute I think I am there are always those days where I don’t feel so pretty” she uttered. The crowd cheered in agreement. The “K. Wave” climaxed at an operatic performance of “The Coochie Symphony.” Even though this was a satiric ditty about “her coochie being broke” her vocal range was impeccable. The most awkward moment in the show was a beautiful tribute to God with gospel song “Yesterday” by Mary Mary which was followed by a song that repeated the lyrics “f*ck love, I want the sex and the money.”

Nonetheless, K. Michelle’s vocals are a force to be reckoned with. Her vocal ability is far too advanced to minimize her to being just the next “R&B queen.” Her personality coupled with extraordinary talent place her in a category yet to be created by the media. Before the singing the last song she announced that she would no longer be a cast member of Love & Hip-Hop after the coming season. Fans were disappointed but at this point it doesn’t matter. At the beginning of the show the audience may have been divided between fans of her music and fans of her personality on the show. However, at the end of her charismatic performance the audience left as fans of K. Michelle specifically. Aside from blowing me away with her performance interviewing her erased all skepticism of her as “just another ratchet fad.”

What do you want people who have not been exposed to the reality show nor your music to know about you?

I am a musician. I started playing the piano when I was 9 years old. I am a very outspoken person and a mother. They have to get to know me not what they hear. I think media plays a big part in it. Media is going to create you to be who they want you to be and not who you are.

I’ve noticed that you don’t talk about your family much. What does your mother think of all of this?

I keep them out of it. People always question “where’s her son? you don’t have your son.” I don’t bring him up. I have help. That’s not their business. If it wasn’t for my mom I don’t know what the heck I would do. I flew my mom out for the first time (BB Kings in NY 2/19/20). We have been very private because you have to maintain something.

What advice would you give a young singer starting out and is wondering where to go?

Fight hard for what you want. If you know that’s what you want, fight for it. It’s not going to come easy. Everybody that it came easy for is not around anymore.

How do you think leaving the cast of Love & Hip-Hop will affect your career?

The fans know now (that I am talented) and that will keep them. The show introduced me to people, but the fans got me the deal (Atlantic). As a writer, you never know, I may change my mind. It has been very difficult as a mother. It’s been very difficult to speak positivity upon black women and then go pop one in their face. We all as people contradict ourselves. We’re human. I’m just at the point where I don’t want to fight. I just want to be happy.

What’s next for K. Michelle?

The album (Rebellious Soul), a single, some movie stuff. I am opening up my first store. I am executive producing my first show “Minnie Mona.”

When asked if there was anything she would like to say she replied humbly “I just want to say thank you.” All ratchetness aside I predict that K. Michelle is in a transformation that has the potential to render her undeniable.

On Wale’s totally average best year ever, and being the best worst emcee of 2012

Shelly Bell, Writer
www.brooklynbodega.com

In being 2012′s most ordinary success tale, Wale is the best worst rapper of  2012.

In a year where hip-hop culture was an amalgamation of platitudes and  denouements, Wale’s success fit the most typical of rap standards. At no point  in the last 12 months did he do any of the following:

  • Unlike Jay-Z, he did not re-set the standard for hip-hop culture’s business  aspirations.
  • Unlike Nicki Minaj, he did not learn the cold realities of maintaining a  high artistic standard while being a rising pop superstar at the focal point of  a “360″ deal.
  • Unlike Kanye West, he didn’t date a woman best known for her body or whose  she’s had sex with.
  • Unlike Drake, Wale is not getting into physical fights with other artists  over relations with beautiful pop stars.
  • Unlike Lil Wayne, he isn’t a pop CEO by 30 who drinks lean, and is almost  perpetually seen shirtless, wearing skinny jeans and dancing around in  videos.
  • Unlike 2 Chainz, Wale is not a massively tall emcee with the ability to  simplify everything about their style and with a stream of incredibly puerile  adlibs, drive a stake through the heart of mainstream popular culture.
  • Wale is not Kendrick Lamar. How so? “Lotus Flower Bomb” and “Diced  Pineapples” feature the kind of immature poetics that never fail on school buses  and at senior proms, plus “Bag of Money” and “Actin’ Up” feature hooks that do  no favors for the sanctity of the rights of women, so, while making statements  that please part of the population, he does not gain a whole lot of  support.

However, in a year where rap bodied the mainstream, Wale did something so  incredibly basic yet so incredibly important. He finally put himself, and by  extension, his hometown of Washington, DC, on the map. Rap success has always  been a case of smoke and mirrors, but in the age of the internet, it’s literally  everything. Ask your favorite blog hot emcee about what happens when people stop  being likes and follows and start becoming real. From Kreayshawn to Big Sean,  the progression of new school emcees has been difficult for all, but seemingly  finally easier for Wale, arguably one the godfathers of hypebeast generation  rap. Whereas others saturate the atmosphere with videos, publicity stunts and  collaborations, it would appear that Wale is merely putting in work that’s  finally paying off.

Here are Wale’s three major success stories of 2012.

  1. Wale is making money! In the last 12 months he grossed over $20,000 a night  while performing more than 75 concerts. He is worth $6 million and barely missed  the Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings 2012 list. There are artist who are popular fan  favorites, but worth much less than Wale.
  2. Wale is still selling albums! Ambition, his sophomore album, went  certified gold in July selling over 500,000 copies. This is extremely notable  being that this album was released in 2011 and Wale has not produced a third  album nor an abundance of mixtapes in 2012.
  3. Wale is all over the Billboard Charts! In January and February, “Lotus  Flower Bomb” featuring Miguel oscillated between the #1 and #2 on the R&B  Hip-Hop chart. In April, “Sabotage” featuring Lloyd was in the top 20 on the  R&B/HipHop Airplay chart. By September, ‘Bag of Money” featuring Rick Ross,  Meek Mill, and T-Pain was #2 on Billboard’s R&B/HipHop Song chart.

Judging by Wale’s success he should be in the running for rapper of the year,  but by setting a standard that is great when rap is either extraordinary or  terrible, he’s not exactly the world’s most eye-catching choice.  The most  notable ideal that makes him worth mentioning is that instead of becoming an “instant superstar,” Wale appears more savvy about the game, and is willing to  become a consistent rap presence. When  interviewed by Forbes Magazine this year, he expressed his need for he and  his team to have more than “y’all.” In joining Rick Ross and Maybach Music, Wale  now has a solid platform upon which to grow and develop a top-tier standard for  himself to use to reach greater heights, and by extension finally give DC  artists a measure of excellence by which to gauge their success. I am not a Wale  fan in particular, but I am in awe of the underdog story here.

If you are glancing back at 2012 and looking for great lyricists you will  instead find bubble-wrapped nostalgia waiting to be delivered to the future.  Ultimately rap, and hip-hop culture as well, have become akin to a game of  Pac-Man – hands, joysticks and various levels of little monsters.  In being  one of the few rising emcees able to maintain a level of humanity in this game,  he may be rap’s best emcee of 2012. Instead of winning with a series of cheat  codes, he’s taking his time, playing every level and as Wale  told Forbes, he’s “aiming for the highest score.”

On Nicki Minaj, hissy fits, perfectly poor planning and perfectly poor execution.

 

Shelly Bell, writer
http://www.brooklynbodega.com

Every time Mattel creates a new Barbie identity they promote it heavily, animate her in commercials and make her as life like as possible. When the music industry re-creates Lil Kim they call her a Nicki Minaj, promote her heavily, animate her commercially and make her as life like as humanly possible. Barbies become outdated quickly. Nobody actually wants to keep one Barbie identity for life. Which part of Barbie play time is Nicki Minaj acting out now? She went from Hip-Hop Nicki Barb to Pop Barb on acid now what? In a recent, tantrum-filled interview with NYC radio station Power 105.1 morning show The Breakfast Club she was shocked at the hosts’ lack of awareness of her latest re-re-release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, The Re-Up. However, her angst may have revealed much more about her current situation. In a sad case of truly being the empress in new clothes, Minaj’s mix of music and marketing may be leaving her woefully exposed as an underdeveloped musical entity. Times are hard in the industry these days. Tupac’s “dollar out of 15 cents is real, and labels are scrambling to monetize artists. But, the question of “at what cost” may best be asked when contemplating the present condition of Nicki Minaj.

Minaj believes that the album was set up to fail because major stores did not want to carry it.According to Minaj, Target nor Walmart carried the album and Best Buy carried a limited  amount. According to the stores the last few re-releases do not sell well and they didn’t want to take the chance. Nicki passionately spoke about this as if it was unrealistic for them to think this way. Target and Walmart have been selling albums longer than Nicki Minaj as been posing as a Barbie doll; they may actually have some insight on the risks that are worth taking. It may be a stretch to say that the album was set up to fail. It was convenient to re-release the album in terms of an attempt to keep Hip-Hop Barbie relevant, but not a good move in terms of album sales.

On top of being busy as “Public Smiley Face” Barbie with a three-part series on E, judging this season’s American Idol competition, still constantly touring, developing her own perfume and clothing line, Nicki told The Breakfast Club that she signed two artists. Will this possible overexposure fast forward her potential burn out? She answers her naysayers in recent single “Up in Flames”: “They be like what you doing Nicki? Branding…..I’m branding….” “got the clothing line popping, wigs are next” Comparatively to Minaj, rising  female rappers like Azealia Banks, Iggy Azalea, and Angel Haze have yet to reach their prime and are solely focused on music. Whatever happened to music, and more specifically, rapping as the centerpiece of Minaj’s “Barbie” branding?

Of course,The Breakfast Club could not let the entire interview go on without asking about her controversy with Mariah Carey! DJ Envy asks if she made the alleged statements about pulling out a gun. With a crazed stare and calm voice she sarcastically answered “I’m not a violent person Envy, I don’t believe in violence, I don’t promote violence, I’m selling perfume, I’m about to sell clothes….” Charlamagne laughs  “that’s a ‘the white man has a plan for you answer.’” She laughs back and hi-fives him. This reveals a not-so-shocking yet entirely sad “Jigaboo Barbie” for the media to play with. This moment is a clear portrait of an artist in a strange stage of development. Your homegirl from Queens, NY is now a “more-than-rapper,” morphing into a marketing machine selling perfume and clothes.

Amazingly enough, Nicki Minaj may still be underdeveloped as an artist. The timing and execution of her initial music and marketing plan that produced her career success clearly has stunted her potential as a musical artist. She is signing artists and starting clothing lines and doesn’t even have three successful albums. Relevancy is the key to selling product lines. Consistently solid and mainstream marketable production is the key to an artist staying relevant. According to it’s poor retail placement, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded The Re-Up is not a marketable production. It is important that Nicki prioritize in order to stay afloat. There’s no need to cherish Barbies they are generic and can be made over and over. Nicki Minaj may be rapping about being a queen now, but while she sits on a throne there’s other female rappers in training for her seat. The fate of Hip-Hop Barbie rests in the question did Nicki Minaj really want to be a rapper or has she unsuccessfully become something else?

Kane Mayfield on sparring, poetry, and a “beautiful drug”

I had the chance to catch up with Mania Music Group artist, Kane Mayfield outside of the Emergence Community Arts Collective after his feature at Washington DC’s longest running poetry open mic “Spit Dat.” A rapper featuring at a poetry venue means being heard with high lyrical expectations less the rowdy bar, dj, and crowd heckling. Kane surpassed all expectations by orchestrating an acapella performance with rhyming over a soul clap from the crowd, and flowing with a beat streaming live from his head to his lips. Kane is no stranger to poetry venues, but does not write poems. He owns his art as rap, however, developing the relationships between various arts diversify a rapper into an appeal stretching from the educated mind, to ratchet acts, to street life and back.

Explaining the difference between the experience of a rapper and the experience of a poet, he stated:

“rap is like sparring. You compete until you get to the top then people just want to be entertained. Poetry is the exact opposite. Being a poet is entertainment until you get to a certain level then it’s competition.” 

Rappers aren’t always welcomed into poetry spaces. Even though rap is a form of poetry, poetry is not a form of rap therefore, they are often considered to be two very different animals. When asked how does it feel to be a rapper performing at a poetry event. He replied:

“It’s like the story of The Golden Fleece, where a character on a journey reached a comfortable place. The comfortable place was a welcoming atmosphere but was not the golden fleece. Poetry venues are comfortable for rappers because you don’t have to be somebody to be a poet. You can just be you. In rap, you have to be somebody. Like I said, poetry is from hugs to gloves, rap is from gloves to hugs. This is why sometimes you will see rappers hiding out as poets in poetry venues. I’ve come to own who I am. I am a rapper.” 

Kane has an awesome story of being a rapper who decided maybe rap wouldn’t work out so he went on a traditional life path. This included becoming a financial advisor, working on Wall Street, and becoming engaged to be married. This was never his initial plan. Kane Mayfield is and always will be a rapper. With his slick talk, personable yet street life backed mentality and knowledge of finances I can imagine he gives industry execs a run for their own money!

My interpretation of the first video off of his latest project Rhymes by Kane: Thievery Corporation Edition called “Beautiful Drug” begins with the impeccable emotional story told between images of beauty, the struggle addiction, and savior complex nature of friendship. My honest initial thought was “WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?!” The story seemed typical; dead guy in opening scene coupled with the song title “beautiful drug” means guy must have been killed by drug dealer. The woman with pink hair and glass of wine represents a drunken out of mind beauty which is the result of gaining a certain level of high. The black and white images appear to be a back story related to the progression of the story. The images of Kane rapping in color appear to be the present day conversation between Kane and himself in the mirror about what happened to his friend. As the story forms toward how/who killed the guy previously shown dead in the opening scene I expected to see him avenge his friend by hunting down a potential killer. However, I was totally off! At the conclusion of the video it is actually Kane whose the drug dealer that killed his friend who was a drug dealing drug addict. I immediately wanted to know/see more. I watched the video two and three times over listening to the lyrics and watching the story unfold backwards and forwards in front of me. In an attempt to save his friend from being killed by the drugs they both dealed he took his life in a savior/hero fashion. The video and lyrics of “Beautiful Drug portray the realism behind the misery of addiction combined with the misery of those affected by the addicted.

After just meeting Kane and interviewing him about poetry I wanted to call him up and ask him “are you sure you’re not a poet!” If not a poet, I would say he is ultimately a creative mastermind and storyteller to which much attention deserves to be paid.

Read more: http://0351de3.netsolhost.com/WordPress/2012/11/09/kane-mayfield-on-sparring-poetry-and-a-beautiful-drug/#ixzz2C1FGGLjg

When too much goes too far – On Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire,” R & B vs. Electro and creative diversity

 

Shelly Bell, Writer
Brooklyn Bodega

When celebrities start accomplishing goals and completing tasks that are unrelated to their musical careers, they often delude themselves into believing that their various forms of artistic creativity should co-mingle. According to Billboard Magazine, since the last time we’ve heard from soul-pop superstar Alicia Keys, she has begun co-managing her career, produced her first Broadway play, directed her first short film, executive-produced a made-for-TV movie and an upcoming theatrical film, designed her own Reebok shoe line and recently launched an animated storytelling app for children. She explains in the article that now she feels more open and more free. However, after accomplishing many goals what she likely means is that she feels more in control of her career(s). When her new album Girl on Fire drops on November 27th fans will be able to judge whether this new level of control is musically a good thing or a bad thing.  The album’s eponymous lead single – an arguably lightweight anthem of women’s empowerment –  sadly falls short by comparison to the more lively #1 hits from artists like Rihanna and Katy Perry. Possibly, her gargantuan schedule and numerous accomplishments show an artist who, in straying from what made her initially successful, has gone too far.

Thus far her image has been filled with typical music industry transformations. Emerging as a “cool curvy B-Girl from the block,” morphing into the “thin edgy haircut/color barbie” look. Professionally, the cute, piano-playing female sensation lacking dance moves with the heartfelt Songs in A Minor morphed in many ways. She lost weight, changed her hair, became a mother and a wife and released Unthinkable, plus a career-redefining feature on Jay Z’s “Empire State of Mind.” Her career transformation complete, “Girl On Fire” (The Inferno Version) is not fiery at all when compared to a David Guetta track or any Rihanna song. The definition of “fire” in the music industry has changed from tight long winded melody to fist pump repetitive catchy lyrical structure. Even the rapid fire spitting Nicki Minaj sounds like a suffocating caged monster on this one. She had no choice! How do you blaze a track that sounds more like water than anything remotely related to inferno?

The type of “fire” Keys may have been trying to portray should be closely mirrored to Rihanna’s “Diamond” or Katy Perry’s “Firework” or one of the hit pop singles burning up Billboard charts with topics like living young, living free, or succeeding at life’s challenges. The words to “Girl On Fire” are not inspirational enough to survive in the age where electronic dance/pop music with raging vocals, hard beats, and dancing bodies are turning crowds from adoring on-looking, lighter waving fans to roaring, fist pumping, body flailing followers. If the single “Girl on Fire” is a representation of her new album or her new found freedom then I also predict that the week of November 27th will be a disappointment for our girl on fire who doesn’t appear to be on fire in this single at all.

The hottest things about Alicia Keys right now is not purely her musical talent in the realm of mainstream R&B but more in exactly what she started off as….A WRITER! I look forward to the blazing mother, wife, and vocalist simply returning to the idea of who she already was instead of indulging in what she’s been told she could become. I can imagine that producing Broadway plays and theatrical films makes Alicia Keys feel more free because these are avenues that allow a writer an extreme amount of creative freedom. Her accomplishments are a sign of transition from what she has been doing to what she will realize is what she has always wanted to do. It is very likely that movie goers and Broadway play fanatics will have an appreciation for her art that she won’t see in the music industry alone. This appreciation will be one she can’t ignore. I predict that in the coming year we will see a less Hip-Hop/R&B Alicia Keys and a more of a playwright/songwriting Alicia Keys. It makes no sense to battle the music industry beast when you can ride the beautiful movie industry stallion.

Alicia Keys has fallen short in basking in the largess of soul’s life in the fervor of electro house. Possibly staying the course as a writer and waiting for her artistic lane as one of the most bankable stars in 21st century pop to clear is a better idea. The girl’s on fire, alright. But the timeless soft glow of warm embers against the neon extremes of the moment? There’s no comparison, leaving November 27th’s album a great idea in theory, but flawed in execution. Keys, though, is clearly still a brightly burning and impassioned creative artist worthy of success. The lesson here? Too much can go too far.

Read more: http://0351de3.netsolhost.com/WordPress/2012/11/08/on-alicia-keys-fire-movies-control/#ixzz2C1BLUAv1

On Nicki Minaj, Sexuality and Politrics…

Shelly Bell, writer
http://www.brooklynbodega.com

Nicki Minaj is a jack-of-all-trades, yet a mistress of none. To push along the playing card analogy even further, she must have been a card shark in her former life because she is good at knowing when to throw down the joker at the most opportune moment. Arguably her most impressive play occurred most recently in her verse on Lil Wayne’s remix of G.O.O.D Music posse track “Mercy” from his new “Dedication 4″ mixtape wherein she mentions herself as a Mitt Romney supporter because “lazy b***hes are f***ing up the economy.”  Upon hearing this statement, the blogosphere and news reports went wild like a rumble at a card game in a NYC basement. However wild that moment was, her most salacious and unbeatable cards that she’s continuously played, allowing her to run the rap/pop crossover table?  The “bisexual card.” In personally identifying as a bisexual female, Nicki Minaj takes my cultural standard to an impressive new extreme. In curiously identifying as lesbian when it’s sexy for hip-hop culture, while toeing the line and appearing very much heterosexual for her pop audience, she’s setting an incredible, yet possibly dangerous new standard.

It is challenging enough to be the “B” in “LGBT” due to the fact that you’re urged to choose a side by homosexuals and heterosexuals alike. Is Nicki’s canny play the work of a smart chick or a dumb bird? Theories on the nature of the hetero/homo/bi-sexuality of female artists including but not limited to Queen Latifah, MC Lyte and Missy Elliott have divided fans into between believers and non-believers leaving the artists to sheepishly grin and continue living their lives as they see fit. However, unlike the difficulties of artists of the past, what is it about Minaj’s bi-sexual play that’s so entertaining and successful?

The video clip for 2012 single “Starships” showcases the softer, singing and ostensibly heterosexual pop vocalist Nicki as an electronic dance girl in a bikini surrounded by buff male Barbie dolls. 2012′s “Beez in the Trap”? Hardcore rapper Nicki’s here as the “drop a bitch off if she act up” dominant female. Clearly, bisexuality has become a platform for her lyrics to stretch beyond the imagination of different markets. However, actually living life away from the lights of pop stardom lies in direct opposition to her success.

Nicki’s line in “Mercy” has absolutely nothing to do with her political stance or sexual preference. In embracing bisexuality, Minaj is brilliantly using stereotypical male dominant American societal norms as a way to attain financial success. Regardless of educational background, career choice, or ethnicity most heterosexual men deem lesbian activity as sensual, sexy, and fantastic. In the case of “Mercy,” men who are functioning members of society also care about politics therefore, by using these dominant societal forces, Minaj plays the cards that reel in the most attention.

Nicki Minaj is safe in her peculiar quest for stardom as hip-hop culture is clearly in favor of lesbian activity and clearly against gay male activity. If you’re wanting to belabor this point, there’s over forty years of history in video and rhyme that prove this true. Is Nicki Minaj pimping bisexuality, politics, and yes, even the system itself to gain attention and notoriety? Is this a smart move or a stupid one? Does the world care enough to indulge in her relevancy as an artists as a method deciding who to vote for? Does the LGBT community care enough about bisexuality that she is viewed as a representative for our community? If so, do we as a community deem her relevant enough to speak out for or against? The answer to all of these questions? Yes.

Nicki Minaj is not bisexual, a republican, nor a democrat. She is a chameleon for whatever the media deems popular to be at any given moment. This method of movement works for her, but does Minaj playing her cards right only allow her to become the queen by playing a royal flush, or does it set a new standard? The future of bisexual voices in not just hip-hop, but popular culture overall is an intriguing notion that deserves attention.

Rhythm and Beef: Trey Songz can’t take constructive criticism?

Biggie and Tupac went to war over assumptions, Drake and Chris Brown came to blows over a girl, now Ne-Yo and Trey Songz beef over a simple critique. Hip-Hop beef is historical for building and breaking careers while R & B feuds are few and far between. The machismo thrown around in interviews and diss tracks often builds a wall of silliness between artists. Whereas wild statements from the artists once raised issues, there is now usually a radio station, reporter, or blogger dousing the fire with loaded questions and sarcasm that provoke the artist into a defensive state. Power 105’s The Breakfast Club (DJ Envy, Charlamagne, and Angela Yee) is known for being entertaining, informative, and provocative. Their recent interview with Ne-Yo shifted from questions about recording reference tracks for Beyonce, to gay rumors, to marriage, to endorsements to causing an issue between the Grammy award winning vocalist and Trey Songz.

During the discussion in question, Charlamagne asked “Are you inspired by what’s out now, musically?” Ne-Yo immediately responded “no.” Charlamagne repeats the response in an attitude of surprise as if to ask Ne-Yo “Are you sure?” This opened the door to poke and prod for specific names. This is that moment when radio personalities get to stir up trouble by strongly encouraging artists to express personal feelings against other artists. DJ Envy threw the first jab by asking “What do you think about Frank Ocean?” Ne-Yo describes his feeling by saying “on some records it’s a little too cool for the room” meaning the lyrics are abstract and confusing. However, Ne-Yo expresses that Frank he has an emotional connection to his work that is missing in R & B music right now. Then Charlamagne slides in with the sucker punch by asking “do you have conversations with them like do you see somebody like Trey and say Trey step it up…”

In light of Ne-Yo’s new position with Motown Records as the Senior VP of A &R as well as his award winning track record he was comfortable enough to say that he feels that Trey Songz could be better. The manner in which he expressed this was subtle and simple. He didn’t go into detail about what Trey could improve on. He acknowledged that he has communicated with Trey Songz and that his overall feeling is that Trey Songz could be “a serious problem in this R&B world” meaning an amazingly revered artist if he would add an emotional connection to his work. This was not a rant, there were only 3 minutes left in the interview. He answered the question openly and honestly, then followed his critique with “no disrespect to Trey, love Trey to death.” Trey Songz didn’t take these comments as love at all. He expressed to iHeart Radio show hosts of 106 KMEL “I’ma talk to Ne-Yo when I see him….ain’t no need to have that conversation for the world to hear and I feel like that’s a sucker move”

A true sucker move is responding to constructive criticism with “I feel like that’s a sucker move.” Trey expressed that Ne-Yo has never mentioned these thoughts to him therefore I can fathom the comments being viewed as deceptive. From Trey’s point of view he could be pondering questions like so is this what Ne-Yo was thinking of me this entire time? We’ve been on tour together and celebrated my birthday together did he not take those opportunities to give feedback on my work? Has Ne-Yo spoken about this in private with other artists or A&Rs? These are all viable questions. However, Ne-Yo was just responding to a question and nothing more. Even the energy from The Breakfast Club was not dramatic or forceful at all.

Trey Songz then appeared on Hot 97’s Peter Rosenberg show on the day his album dropped expressing that he does not want to discuss his beef with Ne-Yo. However, due to the existing rivalry between Hot 97 and Power 105.1 there is a constant tug of war with getting new music and interviews first. This was evident by the remark made by Cipha Sounds that Trey came to the interview with topics that were off limits and he wanted to ensure that they got the news first. Hot 97 missed the boat! WHOMP! WHOMP! WHOMP! Instead of accepting this and moving forward to talk about the album K. Foxx tried to push the envelope as much as she could but it turned into a smart lipped back and forth moment between she and Trey. He stood his ground with sarcasm and arrogance. He repeatedly told her that he didn’t want to give energy to the situation and what needed to be handled would be handled between Ne-Yo and himself.

The beef between Ne-Yo and Trey Songz offers a wonderful glimpse into the nature of both beef and the state of R & B in the modern era. An issue was started by radio personalities, fueled by social media and ended with a tweet. Given the nature of R & B’s arguably middling success at the present time, the working relationship between Trey and Ne-Yo is much more beneficial than letting thirsty radio personalities hawk over beef.

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