Give Em LaHelle

On this day in Black History, I’m honoring Patti LaHelle.

It’s impossible to talk about comedy without talking about black women. I’ll forgo waxing on the idea of the plight of the black woman and comedy sometimes coming from situations that aren’t funny at all and  and all that and just say black women are funny as shit. They have been from jump.

If you haven’t seen the masterpiece that is the Got 2B Real series, stop what you’re doing.

 

Comedy gold. The style. The wit. The reads. Patti LaHelle truly created something for the culture when she created Got 2B Real.

G2bR, also known as the Diva Variety Show, is a spoof of a reality show that features some of the most legendary names in pop, soul, and r&b of our time. Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Mariah Carey, and Beyonce are some of the cast members featured on the show. The women are all invited to Patti LaBelle’s house for dinner and the personalities that find their way to the dinner table make for two seasons (and a short film!!!) of piping hot tea.

Together they deliver some the shadiest reads, quickest comebacks, and most potent quotables ever caught on tape.

The brain child of Patti LaHelle has been a mainstay in my life since I discovered it sophomore year of college. I consider Ms. LaHelle a visionary for what she created. Though her Got 2B Real journey is over (allegedly), Patti LaHelle has proven herself to be a force on the internet and a lot of folks, including myself, want to see her create even more content. The day is on its way, I’m sure of it.

This black woman is a comedic genius.

If ever there is a dull moment in your day, take a moment, pull out your phone, and watch a couple episodes. That always makes me feel better.

Thank you, Ms. LaHelle for your contribution to the culture.

 

 

 

 

PRIDE 2018

This wasn’t my first Pride, but it was the first Pride that felt like celebration to me.

Mississippi’s first pride was in 2016 and I was there. As everyone was getting ready to begin the march, one of the coordinators came around to the floats and told us that it was rumors that there were hate groups conspiring to rain on our first Pride parade. It was only months earlier during a Take Down the Flag rally on campus that the damn KKK showed up – right there on Ole Miss’ campus. Plausible as those rumors were, hate decided to let us live that day and the first Pride in Mississippi went over without a hitch.

At that time, I was just starting to come out to other people. I’ve always been a low key type of bitch and that was like the first time I stepped out on those hoes. Small as it was, it was liberating.

Fast forward two years and I’ve graduated from Ole Miss. In transit to NYC for the fall, I opted to stay with best fran in D.C. to try to ease the transition of living in the city and my first weekend in town was Pride weekend. What a welcome this has been!

There have been rainbow flags up all week leading up to the festivities and THEY’RE STILL UP. People have them hanging in their yards and store fronts. The more I walk around, I see they aren’t just out for the occasion.

This was the first time I experienced Pride as a celebration. Not an exercise in tolerance.

I used to get home sick when I was younger and I would be away from home for more than a week. It was the only home I knew and the only safe haven I had… as long as I behaved within the parameters set for me.

Once I started growing up and said “Fuck that,” home started feeling less and less like home.

That’s really it. The South, as it is now, is only meant for the straight and the white. And I’ve been on a quest to find a sense of home ever since.

I think this past weekend was the closest I’ve come to achieving that feeling.

Happy Pride

Organic Mayo???

I’m getting suited to this city shit.

Right now I’m bunking two stops away from my nearest Trader Joe’s. Bodegas are less common here than they are in NYC but there are similar little markets in some neighborhoods that kind of serve the same function.

Prices high as a cat’s back.

I’ll stop off sometimes and get some Gatorade or some blunt wraps but that’s about it. Convenience does indeed cost.

When I think about D.C., one of the first figures that comes to mind is Benjamin Bannecker, the man – a black man – who designed the plan of the city. Off memory, it loosely correlates to an astrological constellation or formation of stars in the shape of a wagon wheel. Of course, the architecture of the roadways is easier to see if you look at a political map, but it’s even more evident when you’re actually driving around or riding in the back of your Uber. You can sort of see the “spoke” patterns in the roadways.

Pretty neat.

Before I moved, I had the intention of going vegan or at least trying to begin that journey. I still have that intention and I actually bought my first bag of non-dairy cheese from Trader Joe’s the other day.

Some words on Trader Joe’s:

Overall, the shit is cute. Unlike those little market/bodega things at the end of the block, Trader Joe’s prices were unexpectedly reasonable. Slightly higher than back home on some items, but that was to be expected. There’s a lot more choices for organic/vegan items, which I love. Tryna get on my health consciousness tip and also my body really seems to be rejecting dairy, red meats, and other processed items more and more with every passing day. So it’s either make  a change or suffer a chronic case of the bubble guts.

Forward!

Well I’ve been in D.C. for a cute 48 hours now. First of all, D.C. is mad cute. I finally figured out what the hell a city block was – approximately an eighth of a mile. By that estimation, I’ve already walked a mile today. My legs bout to be right.

I’m starting to see that a lot of my anxieties are self imposed. The city isn’t as hard to navigate as I thought it’d be – shoutout to the internet. And the best part is that everyone else is looking down and starring at their phones as they move about too so it’s not totally obviously that I’m a bit out of my depth at the moment.

I’m currently on a Greyhound to NYC. I visited briefly last year for Afropunk but I was with Reuben and not by myself – which I am, this time. It’s a little intimidating. Not gone lie, I took not one, but two shits this morning before I left Reuben’s place. Just nerves. But once I got on the bus, I was fine.

Once you get off of Times Square and out into “the village” – Greenwich, that is – it’s actually quite nice. The energy when I stepped out of Port Authority was on 10. Typical. Two old black men were preparing to square up on the sidewalk as I’m trying to get in my uber and I just took a deep breath and thought, “This is my new home.”

So a bitch is lit for these new beginnings. I’ve got my housing figured out which I’m happy about. Housing is half the battle of moving to NYC and once that’s figured out, everything else pretty much sorts itself out… or so I hear.

Now, I’m back in D.C. and it’s Pride weekend here! I’ve never been to a real Pride, so that’ll be exciting. Nothing’s gone terribly wrong since I’ve been in the city so I’m taking that as a good omen.

 

Jitters and Cold Feet

So, we’re coming in hot on my flight out of Mississippi and boy, am I a wreck.

Not a wreck, as in tears and snot. I just have noticeably less composure than I normally do. I can feel the panic attack brewing. Every time I think about nailing down an apartment or braving those NYC streets or the subway, I have to physically step away from what I am doing and take some deep breaths.

I’ve been reading think pieces about how making yourself uncomfortable makes you better as a person and how the willingness to push yourself out of your comfort zone is shaping you into a successful future leader, in an attempt to talk myself off the ledge every time my thoughts take me there. I had a conversation with a good friend from college (ha, I can say that now) and she helped put a positive bug in my ear and I was grateful for that.

I know I’m not alone in experience. Hell, its folks coming from all over the world to do the same thing I’m doing. But coming from such a small place, surrounded by mostly small minded people and having the audacity to say, “Fuck this! I want to do something else,” is extremely isolating. I can count on one hand how many people “get it” and are rooting for me and while I could be upset about that alone, that handful is all I need.

Everything considered, I know I’ll be alright.

Awkward Black Girl: The Gospel of Issa Rae

I want to say I discovered Issa Rae during my freshman year of college. 2015, two years after Awkward Black Girl and two years before the news that her new show, Insecure, hit the blogs. In that year and a half, I basically stalked Issa Rae’s career. I watched every press junket, internet blog interview, screening appearance, everything. I was high key obsessed. When I came across ABG, (on Tumblr – an era for another post) I thought the shit was fucking hilarious. I had, hands down, never seen anything so relatable.

I too was an awkward black girl.

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And I had never felt so understood. I was already in my feelings about what the plan was for after college. I was meeting a lot of new people and having the same cringy, awkward ass moments and it really gave me peace of mind to know I wasn’t the only bitch out here wondering what the hell was really going on.

So meantime, in between time, my bitch Issa was cookin. I had subscribed to her YouTube channel Issa Rae Presents – where she is still producing and releasing phenomenal content, btw – and I followed her on Instagram.

For a while there was chatter about something about a show called “I Hate L.A. Dudes” that was supposedly in the works. She mentioned it a couple times in some interview clips that I’d seen. A few months passed on that and crickets. I rewatched ABG.

Then she released her book, titled The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl. I didn’t get around to reading it until a few months ago, actually.

As a broke ass junior in undergrad, I couldn’t afford any leisure reading.

But I read all the rave reviews it got and watched as many interviews from her book tour as I could. She did some public readings of excerpts from the books and even the stories she was telling about her own upbringing were so relatable to some of my own experiences growing up.

This bitch – I liked her. She got me.

I forget where she announced that she’d made secured the bag on Insecure with HBO, but I shrieked!

All this time, I had been rooting for her and now, it was go time.

And then the trailer came out fall semester, junior year. And bitch, I was too hype.

The show went on to break records and set precedents. Not even half way through season one, it came out that they had been renewed for a second season. And it was a phenomenal first season. Black Twitter immediately schism-ed into Team Issa or Team Lawrence and just like that, Issa had the game on lock.

Golden Globe noms, Covergirl, another season of Insecure

Above all, Issa was proof that if you just start with what you have simply on the faith that your shit is dope, the results can be monumental.

Her success inspired me more and more to leap out on faith in my own life (i.e. figuring out a way to bounce tf outta MS) off the strength that the things that I create are also dope.

Moral of the story: My sis is poppin’ right now and she really just wants niggas to eat with her. For me, the most enlightening thing she ever said was “Network around, not up.” Because that’s the squad that’s going to hold you down when you pop.

 

 

When I Think of Home

I’m going to grad school in NYC, we’ve talked about this.

Typical of a new college grad, people keep asking me what my plans are for the future. When I tell them grad school, they almost always ask, “Back up at Ole Miss?” If I say or The New School in Manhattan not too many people know what I’m talking about unless they’re in academia so I usually just respond, “No, New York.”

When I say New York, they’re eyes immediately widen and the first thing out their mouth is usually something like, “Oh, so far away!” or “Wow, isn’t it dangerous up there?” In my head, I’m like Well shit, no more dangerous than Jackson. That ain’t but an hour up the highway and they are literally killing the game in homicides right now so… your point? No, deadass, I’m pretty sure Jackson is ranked #1 for homicides in Mississippi – if not #1, somewhere close. 

People are afraid of things they don’t know – I get it but I feel like when I say New York people automatically think New Jack City or The Warriors. And gentrification is a motherfucker and it’s completely own issue that warrants its own seperate conversation but it is also to my benefit that I can pay rent (albeit astronomical) to live in certain areas and be guaranteed relative security. AGAIN, NOT SAYING THAT GENTRIFICATION IS A GOOD THING, but this is just basic sociology at play. But I digress…

Of course, everyone is happy that I appear to be doing something with my life but I still catch the shade veiled in feigned excitement and concern. Perhaps this is all in my head but… whatever, we here now.

So what do I hate so much? Why am I so antsy to leave?

See, it’s not just shade, it’s the principle, I suppose. I know it’s concern but it feels like negativity and I’m just not trying to entertain that.

Most obviously…

M I S S I S S I P P I

The cradle of the confederacy and conservative politics where I’ve personally had to deal with all the microaggressive, ignorant ass, bullshit preconceived notions people have about well… everything. The fundamentalism, the bigotry, the white supremacy, the heteroracistpatriarchy… I mean, that shit’s everywhere, true – but Mississippi just has its own special brand of this shit.

Of course home will always be home and it’s always going to have a special place in my heart and yada yada, but dis tew much. It’s simply too much.

I cannot. I’m tired.

I need some real hurdles to jump.

That feeling in your stomach when you’re riding a roller coaster up the track to a huge drop and you hear that ticking noise and you know with every tick you get closer to the drop and you’re trying to brace yourself and take deep breaths and shit but you’re lowkey freaking out. That’s a metaphor for my life rn.

If the nigga next to me is freaking out, THAT’S PROBABLY GOING TO MAKE ME FREAK THE FUCK OUT!

 

But whatever… Moral of the story is: “My life is like light up sneakers. Long as I keep walkin’ I know I’m gone shine…”

I am very aware of the history of Mississippi and the history of the South and the sacrifices and gains that were made as far as Civil Rights and I honor those who were active in that struggle. I’ve seen the work being done first hand to improve the sociopolitical atmosphere in the state and I’m proud to have witnessed and been apart of some of that but, compared to the rest of the world, shit is still moving at a snail’s pace. And the frustrating thing is that it really doesn’t have to but people are just too stubborn to change.

I really just need to bounce for my own peace of mind and that’s really it.

 

 

 

Welp, Glad That’s Over

So I finally graduated undergrad  and that was just what the doctor ordered. Really, once I finished my last exam, I felt relieved but when I crossed that stage, it felt like the weight of the world had been lifted.

I know I haven’t been updating the blog as much as I’d like and School has been a large reason for that. Of course, I post when I can, but lately it’s been feeling like the content is a bit stagnant. But I like blogging and want to continue. So bear with me as I reconfigure. But I digress…

Whoever said college would be the best years of your life, while not an outright lie, is incredibly misgiving.

I had some of my greatest moments in college, yes, but they were not a constant thing. They were more like the sprinkles on a shit sundae. Still tastes like shit but the presentation makes it look like it could have been something.

Looking back, I was actually wildly depressed for most of my college career. I’m not a drinker at all but sophomore and junior year, I drank my damn life away and my weed habit went through the roof. I still smoke on a regular basis because I do have anxiety and it does help to calm my mind down a bit but I can really go the rest of my life without taking another sip of alcohol and be just fine.

Going out was a thing that I had to accept that people did for fun. Why? I still don’t know. I have never woken up the next morning after a night of bar hopping and felt that my quality of life had improved in any significant way. But you look like an antisocial hermit if you don’t and plus, considering the line of work I want to go into, its helpful to at least look the part and play the game.

Moral of the story: College is a means to an end, not the other way around. I did not put myself through four years of depression, fatigue, and anxiety for a fucking piece of paper. I did it so that I could put myself in a position to do more and I feel like I’ve done that. These four years have given me room to think, explore, and ponder. Yes, a lot of resources, you will actually have to look for but they are there… if you have an idea of what you’re looking for.

To those coming up, college is not for the faint of heart. A lot of folks go to college (including myself) because it’s what you’re “supposed” to do but if you don’t find your own path along the way. Without cultivating some kind of sense of self, the bullshit that comes with college life will swallow you whole.

 

 

 

 

Kill Our Demons

It’s taken me a full week to digest this new KOD project from one Jermaine Cole and now it’s time to discuss. 

Firstly, this album isn’t getting the mainstream recognition that I thought it would. It’s been, what? A good year and a half since we’ve heard from Cole, I thought the anticipation alone would be enough to get the buzz up. 

But as I’m slowly realizing, a lot of folks are just allergic to depth and thoughtfulness.

Screenshot 2018-04-24 06.58.03

On first listen, the first thing I noticed was the trap influence. Cole’s got some slappers on this record and seems to adopt that Migos-style flow over some absolutely infectious beats. “KOD,” the first full track on the album sets the tone for the rest of the project.

If practice makes perfect, I’m practice’s baby

My life is too crazy, no actor could play me

The visual for ATM was giving me vintage that Busta Rhymes/ flipmode era style and I live. Not only does ATM slap, Cole’s also trying to put you on game to a few things he’s learned about this green stuff we call money.

The only feature credited on the whole project: kiLL edward, thought to be a monicker for Cole’s alter ego. In both, we get a sounds like a distorted version of Cole’s voice, but instead of raps, kiLL edward is giving us some soulfully distorted crooning. Considering  the rest of the project, they are a bit darker in tone, but still find their place in the overall soundscape and meaning of the project. 

Motiv8 is definitely my favorite on the project for the fact that it’s really been a mood for me since we came into 2018. It’s simple and catchy making it the perfect anthem for keeping those demons of doubt at bay. 

The shinning moments of the album come when J. Cole’s at his most introspective and thoughtful. Records like “BRACKETS” and “Once an Addict (Interlude)” are some of the most poignant comments, yet, on the pitfalls of having new money and the emotional turmoils of drug addiction. “Window Pain (Outro)” is another contemplative record where Cole reminisces on his life and grapples with some things that could’ve been done a little different. 

1985. 1985. 1985.

Sonically, I’m getting Midnight Marauders lost cut vibes. This beat is so groovy and inviting and Jermaine had a word for the girls with this one. 

Check my track record, I actually like some of these new kids on the block. The Migos, Yachty, Lil’ Uzi, Rich the Kid, Cardi… Now these XXXtension cords, Take-A-Seat69s, and lil problems – y’all can keep, but for the most part, I really don’t have a problem with these kids that are popping right now and they will tell you themselves that their really just out here for this money and having a wang dang doodle. 

All these niggas popping now is young
Everybody say the music that they make is dumb
I remember I was 18
Money, pussy, parties, I was on the same thing
You gotta give a boy a chance to grow some
Everybody talkin’ like they know somethin’ these days
Niggas actin’ woke, but they broke, umm
I respect the struggle but you all frontin’ these days
Man, they barely old enough to drive
To tell them what they should do, who the fuck am I?

They’re here for a good time, not a long time, which is understandable. But Cole’s got some jewels to drop in their ears that they can either decide to take or leave.

True, you got better shit to do
You coulda bought a crib with all that bread that you done blew
I know you think this type of revenue is never endin’
But I wanna take a minute just to tell you that ain’t true
One day, them kids that’s listening gon’ grow up
And get too old for that shit that made you blow up
Now your show’s lookin’ light cause they don’t show up
Which unfortunately means the money slow up
Now you scramblin’ and hopin’ to get hot again
But you forgot you only popped ’cause you was ridin’ trends

Yet again Cole delivers a project that is interesting and thoughtful and at the same time, effortless and not overly preachy. Cole’s an OG with wisdom to share, but he’s not about to force you to listen to him or beat you over the head. I don’t know if I could even name a stand-alone single for this project. Cole makes a body of work that is cohesive and dense, each song building on one another. One of a kind.

I give it 9/10.

 

 

 

 

Peabody’s, Pulitzer’s, and the Time100 – Oh, My!

All my favs are out here kicking ass and taking names and I live.

Peabody awards and Pulitzer Prizes were something I was taught to believe only old white men got. Earlier this week, the news came out that Kendrick won this year’s Pulitzer for music.

Now, the receipts will tell you that I have been a stan from time. I’ve been a fan of K.Dot’s since high school. I was really into the music blogs and things back then and I remember my first time hearing of his music was on Pitchfork.com. My good buddy at the time, Lev, one of a handful of white boys in the whole school district actually put me on.

I just remember him coming up to me, going “listen to this,” and handing me one of his ear buds. And I just remember the beginning of Backseat Freestyle and my mind just being blown.

I can go on and on with how much this dude’s music has meant to me over the years, but when I heard damn., I knew it was going to be one for the books.

And look at that: A mfn Pulitzer.

Then, just last week, a host of tweets actually brought me to tears.

Time’s annual “100 Most Influential People” edition that I’ve appreciated for  a long time. As far as journalism, they’ve been a favorite of mine for as long as can remember reading and appreciating news journalism and writing. And somehow, growing up, I’d somehow gotten my fingers on a copy every year since senior high school, no bullshit. The list has featured many people who influence me, personally, and who have changed the game in their respective lines of work. Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai, Kanye West, Lin-Manuel Miranda… Beyonce – nuff said.

This year, Issa Rae, Lena Waithe, and Ryan Coogler made the list.

I’ve written, before, on the feeling that there’s truly a renaissance happening within Hollywood and, really, in the creative zeitgeist of the 21st century. And there’s all these beautiful black folks are leading the charge.

Issa’s been giving me life since Awkward Black Girl. Lena’s been moving calm for a while now and finally dropped “The Chi” on all our heads earlier this year. Ryan. Coogler. Black Panther. We’ve already been through that one.

Seeing how these three have been moving for so long has truly been an inspiration to watch. And now, some validation that if you really want and work for it, the world is yours.

The biggest bomb was dropped shortly thereafter.

My bitch, Issa Rae, has a Peabody. Like I said, folks, SINCE THE ABG DAYS. We been rockin strong.

Let’s pause on this for a moment. No, in theory, these constructed institutions that evaluate social and cultural value like the Oscars, the Grammy’s, McArthur Awards, Peabody and Pulitzer awards – they don’t validate us as black creatives. We know that racism is systemic and has found it’s way into these particular systems and that it’s not set up for us to win. But it’s a fact that times must and always do change.

To have the Peabody’s and the Pulitzer’s of the world acknowledge creatives of color is frankly, a big fucking deal. Because these are the things that inform the culture, the names that will be written indelibly in the cultural canon.

So shoutout to Kendrick, Issa, Lena, Ryan, and everyone else honored in this year’s round of awards and recognitions. They deserve and it’s about damn time.

 

 

 

 

Beware of that wyt hot confidence

Storytime: The confidence of a white man is unparalleled. There is no other race and gender that can be so consistently and vehemently wrong yet still be trusted sources of information.

So I’m at work. It’s about 10 o clock, which is closing time for my restaurant. It’s cold out so I decide to go crank my car up so the engine can warm up. After closing, it usually takes 30 to 45 minutes to shut down the line and wash all the dishes. Right? Right.

I’m about to run trash. I parked my car close by the dumpster so I go to crank my shit up before I take the trash. Low and behold. The engine won’t turn over, which means that the battery is dead. Whatever. I go back in and finish closing. I’ll just have one of my coworkers jump me off when we all leave. I got some jumper cables in the trunk.

We close and my coworker’s ride agrees to help me jump the car off.

These are whites.

I give him one end of the cables and hook the other end to the terminals on my battery. It’s dark outside so all I can tell is that the cables appear to be hooked correctly on his battery. We try a couple times and my shit still won’t turn over. Tf?

I turn on my phone flash light and find that this wigger has hooked the positive clamp to the positive terminal, but the negative clamp, he had simply grounded to the metal underneath the hood.

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That ain’t how this works.

I say, “oh, you need to put the black one on the negative terminal.” He replies, “If you put it on the negative terminal, it’ll short my battery.”

After that, I washed my hands of it. I just unhooked the cables and told them to go home and that I’d call someone else. Plus, I also know some people are weird about their cars and I wasn’t going to hook the cable to the battery if he really didn’t want me to. This bitch had the nerve to tell me my battery might be shot.

No bitch. This battery is brand fucking new. YOU just don’t know what the hell you doing, but want to act like you do.

I did call someone else. And we hooked both ends of the cable to the positive and negative terminals of each battery and what do you know, my car started.

Moral of the story: Don’t trust these wyt folks and their wyt hot confidence cuz they love to be wyt and wrong.