Damn, Have I been Objectifying Women??!

Going back to school has got me tripping hard. This Sex and Culture class has got me turning into a masculine feminist. After viewing this classic and very eye-opening and insightful presentation on female imagery in the advertising media, Killing Us Softly, I had to question myself. This unconscious suggestion, the subliminal encouragement that women are sexual accessories has been apart of our lives forever….Us born into this world of tech and industry where demographic is a household word.

I couldn’t help but think of my Crush Alot section of this blog, the segment where I highlight a beautiful woman in the public eye who I don’t know and downright gush over her as I splatter the post with scantily clad photos that exhibit her sprawled across the screen in sexually suggestive poses. In my mind, I’m simply being a warm-blooded heterosexual man and sharing my affinity for gorgeous women and all of their dimensions. I can argue that a large majority of these posts focus on the careers and backgrounds of these ladies, but there is no denying that what is most emphasized is a lustful intention that finds these women reduced to not much more than eye-candy underneath my logo. It also makes me think of the many times that I’ve had to explain the upper right corner of this site’s top banner to a woman who I just newly intrigued to come visit my blog. It’s often their first question for me after an initial vist here. Before any mention of any singular post, or any commentary on my writing, or acknowledgement of me as a musician, it’s this; ‘What’s up with the naked women as soon as the page opens up?‘, or ‘I don’t know how I feel about that’ or ‘I can’t go to your blog while I’m at work‘. Yikes! I try to explain that if those 2 pictures are looked at within the context of what the banner suggests, which are a collection of my thoughts (including also, things that Iam against, such as backpack rap and skinny jeans, and things that I love, like classic rap music), then it should make more sense. Yet as it was broken down for me, the images of the seductive women in the corner with glazed skin and supple parts tend to stand out more than anything else. And then after all of my deducing and logic, I’m reminded that the positioning of D.Woods and Selita Ebanks blowing out the candles on my logo is suggestively below where my waist would be in the middle. And then I’m stuck…Simply because, damn – I didn’t even realize what I did. They’re blowing my candles. And since ultimately, the candles bear my moniker, they are figuratively blowing me.

Maybe being a warm-blooded heterosexual man in America is the root cause of the perpetuation of this objectification that we rarely think about with any real investigation. It can be problematic. How many of you have found yourself complaining or commenting on how oversexed everything has been in the past 5 years (if not longer)? Have you listened to popular music recently??

Now, does this mean that I’m gonna stop doing my Crush Alot posts and change the banner? Probably not. But what I will do is take a more critical look at how Iam presenting women in my work here. I’ll be doing a review of everything that I’ve done here pertaining to the female species and how they are approached. I have so much respect for women that I only hope it has shown in the short time that I’ve been blogging. And tho I hate feminism and it’s extremes, I’ll stand up anyday for women to have equal rights in every realm.

I urge you in the meantime to watch Killing Us Softly( I included a clip) and think of how you absorb these sexual and objectifying messages that have been around since the dawn of all 80’s Babies and 3 decades prior. Maybe it has been strumming our pain with it’s fingers…

(11) Classic Sounds…

Like…

Whatta group. Whatta moment in time. Whatta pioneering history. These 3  embody what a rap career is all about. Take notes aspiring duos, trios and female hip-hoppers abroad, this is how you leave a legacy.

It’s been argued that the point of Hip-Hop is to inspire, entertain, provide social commentary, educate, make others want to be like you, gain fame, more importantly fortune, and make your mark on music history by way of timeless work. If that is indeed the case, then consider Salt N Pepa‘s mission accomplished. They certified their status as a sociopolitical voice with the album before this one, delivering such singles as “Expression” and “Let’s Talk About Sex”. By doing so, they also crossed over to the world  of pop, introducing them a broader audience and resonating with young women everywhere, leaving behind impactful classics.

The brains and beauty ethic worked well for the group. It’s dismaying that alot of their design came from the genius of a man behind the scenes. Herby Azor, former boyfriend of Cheryl “Salt” James and producer for other notable acts such as Kid N Play, had a vision for Salt N Pepa and shaped it and guided it as far as he could. As the main in-house producer and writer for the group, Azor intended to present the ladies as relatable NYC girls who could dish it out as good as the boys and look great while doing so. Their ascension and message was all planned out. Much like TLC, they were picked to be the voice of the new woman, from the mind of a man.

And this is where you can cry  foul, because Hip-Hop prides itself on its authenticity and honesty. It makes you wonder, how much of a legend can you be when your whole career was orchestrated for you? Is the talent in the execution? If so, then there’s a Grammy that needs to go back to Milli Vanilli because at one long period in the music timeline their execution had us all fooled. Alot of female emcees who have reached iconic stature have gotten passes for not being the main people behind the pen. Is it a pacifying double standard? Or is it that all is forgiven once you’ve made classics?

Then again, that’s why we’re reviewing this particular album to begin with. Very Necessary was a milestone album in several ways, starting with the fact that it was the very first album that featured the members of the group handling the song-crafting on their own with little input from Azor. The relationship between he and the group was deteriorating and the words were finally coming from the mouth of now, all 3 ladies. With Dj Spinderella making herself a prominent presence on the mic and formally turning the tag team into a trio, the group was ready to blaze a new trail, and in the process, gave us their most successful album to date, and the most successful female rap album by a group ever.

Things start off excitedly and surprisingly with “Groove Me”, a dance hall inspired track that borrows from a popular 90’s riddim that was huge at the time and capitalizes off of the rap-reggae trend that was prominent then. What’s refreshing about it is that the group actually used a current proven hit to rap over as opposed to making some mock reggae attempt. This is one of two times that the group ventures into that territory, paying homage to Sandra “Pepa” Denton‘s West Indian roots, and allowing her to tap into that side of things and living up to the spice in her namesake. The other song being the sultry “Sexy Noises Turn me On”. Where Groove Me is playful and bouncy, this track finds the ladies describing their bedroom instructions, with a focus on the uhhmmAural pleasures of love-making. It’s a very direct and grown up approach to a sex song; Devoid of raunch or overt detail, and aimed in a way that addresses one lover to another, complete with an advisory “You know you gotta wear a condom right??!” quip at the end. The added dude on the track with the patois vocals is almost unnecessary here, but it doesn’t bring anything down. The spotlight is always on the women, and they have been Showstoppers from the gate.

In fact, the wackest moments on this album come from the various non-descript males that pop up on tracks adding vocals that could have been done without. It happens on songs like oh-so-famous “Shoop”, which started the 93-94 reign of Salt N Pepa as Mega Stars and featured some Pete-Rock look-alike spitting an 8 bar vamp at the end of the song that’s only memorable because the song itself is. The ladies made their point very clearly without him, and once again, while he doesn’t ruin the song, his presence makes Pep and Salt look like Eminem rapping with Gucci Mane. One track where the male vocals do stifle a bit is “No One Does It Better”, where the obvious early 90’s hip-hop ingredients are present; Rip-Off G-Funk vibes mixed with New Jack Swing takes on mid-tempo R&B. To overcompensate for the inevitable lack of soul that comes with that, the singer always is one of a more churchy variety more so than a pop-ready one. This leads to a style of singing that doesn’t really match the feel of the beat and lends itself way too much to ad-libbing and riffing. Straight from the outdated Aaron Hall school of extra! The saving grace here is that the ladies kill it with the verses and big themselves up on their skills of passion. Especially Salt and Spin, where you find the now reborn and super conservative Salt ironically rapping that she’s “better than the good book” and clever lines like when Spin starts with “Well that true, that’s why you never have no beef, cause when the bugle is blown, it’s all tongue and no teeth”. It’s this kind of slick innuendo at times that’s slipped in between the girls’ bluntness that made them so dope. They were free, but measured. Explicit, but discretionary. Even Pepa, known for having the most aggressive appeal on the mic, stayed in step and everyone kept with the uniformity of things. Spinderella in fact winds up delivering some of the more in-your-face lines. Pep’s force is mostly in her delivery. It’s difficult giving them all of this credit tho, as I’m not sure how much of this was Herby Azor’s doing and how much was theirs.

It’s also a little tricky for me to tell you the extent of my affinity for this group. As a kid, they reminded me of my two closest cousins from Brooklyn, Limi and Rainy – who are sisters…Down to their voices and hairstyles. Same age and everything. Yet somehow, I always had a slight crush on Salt and it made me wonder if that meant I had a crush on my cousin (Yikes!!). Being that I was so young tho, I stayed away from their music because I thought they were doing too much. Little did I know what their pioneering in the game as female emcees would bring down the line…

Salt started sounding distinctively more nimble-tongued and Pepa started sounding harder at some point down the line after the second album when the 2 didn’t rely so much on the tit-for-tat rhyme style made famous by Run-DMC. And while I’m sure that the underlying differences that was the inspiration for their group name were always present from the onset, this distinction made it more apparent to the audience. You could now see why one complimented the other. But I’d go as far as to say that Salt out-rapped her partner on most of this album. Even if Azor was still behind a decent amount of the penning here, Salt’s delivery was refined to a champ level for rappers of that era, effortlessly putting words together and riding the beat like they were birthed at the same time. She sounds cool and confident on every go and incorporated more wit than the other 2. Whether this was done purposefully by the ladies to play up on the characteristics of their names, or whether it’s a measure of skill between them, I’m not sure.

In either case, the ladies work in harmony to get their messages across. In some cases however, those messages are mixed. Not so much contradictory, but definitely overlapping. As one writer named Geoffrey Himes who reviewed this album stated,

“With their explicit rapping about bedroom gymnastics, Salt ‘N’ Pepa are unlikely to be held up as role models in classrooms or churches anytime soon. For a sexually active teenage girl, however, the trio shows how you can get your pleasure without putting up with any disrespect”.

Perhaps that is the case, and songs like “Somma Time Man”, where the group describes a situation where an unreliable guy divides his time between them and other women, highlights that very questionable judgement. But this is not new territory for the group that busted out on the scene with the hit, “I’ll Take Your Man”. It’s not a shocker. It’s actually kinda ill to see them staying true to what they came in doing. It goes further on “None Of Your Business”, the Grammy award-winning single that finds the women being extra feisty and fiery about keeping nosy finger-pointers and categorizers at bay. They charter into deeper subject matter on “Heaven and Hell” and the closing skit, “I’ve Got Aids”. The former sees the group tying a string of cautionary vignettes together, to provide a commentary on the changing times and growing statistics, with Pepa taking the lead and shining thru the brightest on this one. The latter speaks to just how serious the AIDS and HIV epidemic had become, and the group touted themselves as proud unofficial spokeswomen for awareness at the dawn of the movement ever since the last album where they remixed their hit “Let’s Talk about Sex” and retitled it as “Let’s Talk About Aids”. These 2 tracks alone pack in so much depth, that they make up for the lack thereof on the other 11.

One thing that cannot be said about the group on this album is that they are redundant. For an LP that consists of mostly fare concerning garnering respect from the opposite sex and relations with them, they ladies manage to compartmentalize and approach different elements of those relations. So from bedroom behavior, to respect, to infidelity to appreciation, they break things down instance by instance, with a song for each topic and an endless supply of rules, demands and disses for men who aren’t on top of things. There’s no doubt that the battle of the sexes is in full effect here, but it’s best taken care of when the women ease off of the relationship drama and focus on what got them known in the first place; Their skills as rappers crushing the competition and pushing haters aside. They do it well too. Besides the song “Step”, my 3 favorite songs on here are “Somebody’s Gettin’ On My Nerves”, “Big Shot” and “Break Of Dawn”. It’s here, that you are reminded that before they are women, They are rappers.

It’s easy to forget that in the shadow of all that Salt N Pepa has done for females. Their angle has always contained tangents of feminist idealism, tho not exactly full-out rebellion against the basic dynamics of man/woman relativity. Their position was not to try to outdo or dominate men, as it was to stake their claim as equals with comparable abilities. As the aunties to TLC, they stood on the same ground, pushing buttons by placing controversial topics towards the forefront and turning out success by doing so and making it entertaining. They also God Mothered the act of using their sexuality as a means of empowerment, while not going as far as their subsequent torch bearers Lil Kim and Foxy Brown – who killed the art of balance that the group had perfected. The ladies always used just enough of their physicality to make you acknowledge their beauty as confident Black women, and more than that, to see the strength of their power to wield that as chosen. Yet they always chose to have limitations for themselves. And that’s the bottom line with Salt N Pepa… Through all of the mixed messages, the ever-present and non-changing theme coursing through their body of work has always been CHOICE. They wouldn’t be caught dead being the down-ass hustler’s wife smuggling drugs in their orifices, or the chic bragging about how much she can fit in her mouth for a new luxury car and brand name bag, but they would defend those women’s right to be that if so chosen. We know how I feel about feminism in general, and while I may not agree with that stance, or while Salt herself probably cringes at their old lines like “If she, wanna be a freak an, sell it on the weekend (It’s none of your business!)” and wishes she could take some back, you can’t deny their impact.

I won’t close out this review without mentioning the MONSTER hit, “Whatta Man” ft. En Vogue. I don’t really need to say anything about it, just good to see that the women could take a break from their instructions to show love to the real men. And Whatta man am I for giving this album its recognition as a true Hip-Hop Classic?? Yes. I’m patting myself on the back right now.

I give this album 8 Candles out of a possible

4812 or 16.

4(Classic Just because where it stands in Hip-Hop, whether it be the time of it’s release, it’s influence, or the popularity of it’s singles overall)

8(Classic because it was solid for it’s time, but may be a little dated or less than amazing by today’s standards)

12(Classic as a complete release and probably celebrated widely on the surface, but possibly lacking one key element – be it one song that doesn’t fit, a wack guest appearance, lyrics, lack of depth or beats)

16(Classic all around)

It’s becoming a trend with the last few reviews for me to give these interval ratings, but if I could, I would give this album 10 Candles. It’s pretty damn solid for what the group wanted to get across. Time frame considered.

 

2PAC – Why Ya’ll STILL Don’t Get him…

And since his name just got brought up in the last post, It’s only fitting that I take this time to show love to my Favorite Rapper of All Time, 2pac Shakur.

This is an artist who is commonly casually accused of being hypocritical, but quite to the contrary, if folk took the time to actually ‘listen to the music and not just skim through it’, they would hear that he is a much more well-rounded artist.

What Pac did was never failed to give you a concise, very self-aware marriage of all of the elements of his being. These are elements that can very realistically co-exist and were never big exaggerations of his intents or capabilities. He didn’t give you Italiano-inspired scenarios of fictional drug heists or dealings, he didn’t tell you how he was gonna shoot the club up or stick niggas who floss. He didn’t brag about having a homie who ‘kidnaps kids’ and ‘fucks them in the ass’, or how he’s the king of L.A. and a prophet of the streets.

No, instead, he told you he was just a “Young Black Male”, loving the Cali life that he adopted, and had adopted him, that he became a man under, a former criminal who hung with criminals who ‘never had a record until he made a record’. He told you he was one of you, just on his flyer shit, but that he Loved you and he wanted what was best for you. Without claiming to be some urban griot or street’s disciple, he managed to always fit in songs with a strong Pro-Black message or inner-city reality theme or even positivity in ways that never came off corny or preachy. The other key factor being that like all good artists, his songs were always relatable and catchy. You never felt like you were listening to Pac’s “deep” song or his message track.

Then, he told you how he loved his strong, real Women, but didn’t love a bitch. Then he proceeded to define what a bitch is so you’d know. This is why, the same man who made “Keep Your Head Up” & “Brenda’s Got A Baby” can make “I Get Around” or “How Do You Want It”. How does one cancel the other?? Is he being crude and asking them to give him head if he lends them his chain? One song is describing what he wants to do to a particular woman and asking her what she wants, the other is addressing groupies and how (ironically), he likes to know up-front if the sentiments are mutual so as not to get caught up in rape accusations or any stalker situations. How does this take away from a song which addresses growing up poor, Ghetto life, dying friends and women (who are not the objects of his affections or lust in this case) who are struggling financially and raising children on their own?? Or a song where he’s describing an incident of teenage pregnancy and tragedy? He even makes a call to men to respect and tend to their women more so as not to have them end up as the wayward groupies he talks about in the other song. Yet and still, these 2 angles have been constants in Pac’s music from the beginning of his career, he always separates the lines and makes it clear when doing so.

He even told you he’s a mama’s boy. And then he made the first and only significant Mother’s Day rap song.

He told you what he would do in retaliation for his life if  put on the line and against the wall. Lines like “We ain’t even come to fight tonight, but it’s my life or your life…” do not imply senseless, non-provoked violence. This is not “Gimme The Loot” or “Shoot Em Up”. The most glorified it ever got to is on “Me and My Girlfriend” and even that had a purpose, or in his more militant era (though he never really lost that sensibility) when he took out his anger on crooked cops and the judicial system on songs like “Violent” or “Outlaw”. Most of Pac’s volatile energy – which he is now most notorious for – was directed at his enemies, who, instead of being imaginary foes, were real people who he aired out on record. From unnamed street folks who he probably had bad run-ins with and wanted him dead, to Industry heads who knew something and betrayed him or displayed disgusting weakness toward him, Pac knew exactly who he was talking to. Even when it was racists and cops at the top of the list. The gun talk wasn’t used to promote street gang violence or random shooting or even basic crime. Pac would often depict and describe the horrors of the aftermath of drive-bys and shoot-outs in other songs. This was war for him, usually in a self-defense regard. To put it short, the guy wasn’t a Saint by far, but while most of your favorite street rappers have always claimed to be killers and murderers, Pac was just telling you he’s ‘not a killer but don’t push him’! Doesn’t sound so contradictory now does it? I’d kill a nigga too if I believed he set me up and left a bullet in my nut.

The gem of Pac’s music however, was that for all these sides that he displayed and made co-exist, he also had the special thing that took him above and beyond; creativity. Having the most vast body of work of any rapper before Lil Wayne, Pac did come from a performance background after all, and this foundation shined through as he wove tales where he assumed characters, voices and described intricate plots. As redundant as his music can sometimes be, he has to be one of the only rappers who has rapped about such a diverse amount of topics, from friendship to religion. His songs really were just hood poetry….The fact that he could get us to listen to a song like “Can U get Away”, about taking a girl away from her abusive boyfriend with the same concentration as a song like “So Many Tears” where he shares his paranoid thoughts with us is a testament to that. He really is responsible for inventing the rap ballad, or emo rap. Just look at the beats that he rapped over.

I’ll do another formal look at 2Pac’s style and impact on hip-hop next year when the 15th anniversary of his death rolls around (WOW). For Now, pull out whatever music you have of his and listen with new ears. For those of you who never paid him much attention, Now is a good time don’t you think?

Who Killed The Female Rapper?: A Love Story…

As I watched the BET special, My Mic Sounds Nice –  The Truth About Women in Hip-Hop,

I realized that along with my homegirl, Starrene Rhett, I have become somewhat of an advocate for the female emcee in this modest blog-world. Upon a quick review of this site and it’s stats, I see that my most popular posts have been the ones in my series of Top female rapper lists, ranging from Top failures to Top hopes for the future. I accept that responsibility humbly, something like a masculine feminist, simply because I couldn’t imagine hip-hop without women.

What I do like about this delicately edited and thoughtfully put-together documentary is that it addressed all of the relevant issues that have arisen for the female M.C. Although it flashed past the whole early 90’s era where you might have seen the most diverse cavalcade of estrogen-infused rappers and jumped right into the mid-90’s, it accomplished so much in its one hour time span.

I was surprised and  delighted to see unexpected faces like Eve, Ladybug Mecca (so damn beautiful), Nikki D, Tiye Phoenix and even Rage and Medusa. Despite having to endure my favorite, Mc Lyte‘s twisting lips every time she spoke, and listening to almost every participant damn near eulogize Lauryn Hill, I just kept wishing Foxy, Da Brat, Monie Love and Kim were apart of this as well. It would have felt more complete. And Why the fuck doesn’t Queen Latifah ever Come out for these kinds of things??!

Actually, this topic is so big that each segment really deserved its own half hour. This could be a Planet Earth – like series that goes on and really delves into the details of everything. Female hip-hop enthusiasts, writers, rappers and directors – you listening out there??

I was wondering if Nicki Minaj would come up, and of course she did. Things were approached from the angles that you would expect from a special on this level. Remember, this is a network that has turned its program marketing toward a young pre-teen to late 20’s demographic, so at most, I hope it taught lots of young’ns that there was life before Nicki. It was a very surface investigation that didn’t give us answers or surely didn’t teach hip-hop historians such as myself, but if anything, should have inspired us to do better, or at least find out the whys and hows.

I know from being in this world that there are in fact more female rappers now than ever! And on a super diverse scale. What I haven’t seen, however, is a wealth of appeal.

Let’s put the burden of being a female aside and just take into account the value of appeal and grind for any artist on the come up. Now Iam no guru on this being that I as an artist trying to make it myself haven’t really been able to crack the magic formula to be an overnight smash. But the few strides that I have made thus far in my fledgling career can be attributed to a healthy understanding of and dedication to both. As I pointed out in one of my top female rapper posts, the number one Achilles heel of Female rappers is focusing too much of their energy on one aspect of their artistry or personalities. Sex sells, but there’s only so much you sell yourself before you’re used up. Battling is cool, but after you’ve won all the battles, where’s your deal? Lyrics are dope and all, but where’s your stage presence?

The reason Lauryn is the Holy Grail of female hip-hopdom and her name garners the same reverence from both new and old rappers is because she displayed so many facets of her personality in an honest, vulnerable, casual, confident and believable way, all from the jump. It wasn’t, ‘oh, let me sing on this third project‘. Or ‘let me wear a dress after 10 years’, or ‘let me make a relationship song now after I’ve killed niggas on the block in my 80 prior mixtape appearances’, or ‘let me try to show you I’m lyrical on this acapella YouTube freestyle after all my songs have been bubblegum pop’.

For this reason, we have to bring the fact of being a female back into play. Any new rapper has to present their story and their appeal, and in most cases, being a 1 dimensional rapper doesn’t get you far (Unless of course your character as an artist overshadows your content, or you’re Kid Cudi or one of these new Weed Rappers or Officer Ricky). Now take that and double the responsibility for a woman because not only does she have the obstacle of trying to sway the masses as a new artist, she has to sway the masses to feel her as a woman. And in hip-hop, the masses means men who fuel barbershop debates and hating-ass women who have to feel like there’s something to relate to or identify with in you. That means all you hardcore underground Lesbians better have some helluva charismatic charm!

Now, Starrene stands on the side that insists that the industry is shady and men have been closing doors on females for years, citing a lack of ability to generate sales (see her article here, http://gangstarrgirl.com/2010/08/mics-do-sound-nice-but-some-still-dont-hear-it/#more-1228). She points that most of these big wigs are too lazy to actually Scout for the talent that is flooding the rap scene today, and wouldn’t know where to look if they tried.

I agree.

But I do definitely think that the female rapper herself is more to blame.

If anyone remembers the PreYoung Money Nicki, you know that she was determined to make heads turn and gain reaction because she sought out to keep her name buzzing and play in the same arenas as the boys who are respected. I see the misogyny in hip-hop lyrics daily, but rarely amongst the community of artists. I don’t hear male rap groups or soloists saying ‘nah, she can’t do this because she’s a chic’ If anything, the usual response from men in the game upon hearing a good female rapper is one of excitement, wanting to be the one who puts her on, or seeking to collab.

I used to date a female rapper who was very prominent within the underground circle, even award-winning. But what I noticed is that for all the acclaim that she received and all the notoriety she was gaining for her music on the show circuit, she never took the steps to translate that to any other success in the other crucial areas of being buzzworthy. Videos were nil, Press coverage was scarce, and pursuit of a radio or dj connect was not in the works. This is something that I see far too often with women in the game. I can’t – and you can’t either, name 1 female who is a prominent mainstay on any blogsite or hip-hop media site the same way as alot of these dudes. There is no female Curren$y. No female Joell Ortiz.

Now, as much love as someone like this chic got or someone who most everyone loves, like a Jean Grae gets respect across the board, I find it hard to believe that this is the doing of evil men in power so much as it is a lack of push. I think some semblance of complacency sets in when female artists reach a certain level of status in the underground world. They may not feel the urgency of getting features and having weekly tracks posted. This is evidenced by such big breaks you see between female-helmed releases.

Another thing is that It may be easier for women to feel like their rap lives are separate from their private lives. This is delicate territory because I cannot truly know the mechanics of being a woman, but in my experience, I have heard most women who rap draw the line more distinctly than men. This could play a role in how much what they deem as real life gets in the way of their grind. Life changes, finances, travel, romantic and familial situations can all deter one young lady. Or even something less tangible but just as real such as age and security can unravel someone and make them withdraw a bit. As women advance thru life, they become more concerned with their stability and future. A man is more inclined to engage in at-risk behavior well into his late 30’s, including continuing to live as a starving artist. Most women ain’t having that! Even the raptress I was dating would have moments where she questioned hanging it up and pursuing other passions out of fear of time. Take our favorite, Jean, for example…. What rap journalist wouldn’t scramble to claim first dibs on her exclusives a few years ago if she was the kind of artist to consistently drop new music? At one point, she had us in the palm of her hands, waiting for her to give us the closest thing to balance in a female rapper since Ms. Hill. But what did she do? She played us! She fake-retired, got moody, got old and not bubbling under anymore. Now the only ones checking for her to blow are her prior fans. There was a point in time where Nina B was a frequent name on hip hop sites with new videos and mixtapes and collabs every month, but now it seems even she has fallen back a bit.

So something must be said for the amount of women in this biz not understanding what works and neglecting to marry as many elements together in a way that will gather the largest build-up. As was said in the special, I just hope somebody comes along after the airing of this and gets it right so a new spark can be ignited. I have my predictions. And lets not count Nicki out as a spearhead.

On another note, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to hip you all to this brilliant post that was put up by one of my blogger homies, Ms. Smarty P. Jones, courtesy of her blog, Smarty’s World http://smartysworld.com/2010/09/01/hip-hop/

She does a clever run down of female M.C.ing based on the show’s main subjects.

Until next time people, I’ll be bumping my Da Brat joints and waiting for some kind of Phoenix Saga.

Estelle x Nina B on the Source.com SXSW coverage

Like I said before, It is Women’s History Month, and I will continue showing the love where I can here and there.

I stumbled across this clip from The Source.com and their coverage of the annual South By SouthWest festival that takes place in Texas e’rry year and attracts all of my contemporaries bubblin’ under the radar. In this particular clip, the boy WordSpit (you may know him from the McDonald’s dollar van commercial – or my shout out to him in the “Subway Bus Or Walking” joint), plays interviewer to fly Ladies Estelle and Ms. Nina B. We know they both hold it down for hip-hop culture hard!

Now I got this clip from a post Nina put up. Just wanted to show her love. She’s everywhere and always in the mix.  She’s even on the intro to my website,

http://malik-16.com/

Act like you know!

*Women’s Day Edition* – Ladies of Broadcast Tribute

You all know by now that I do this segment of my blog entitled “Crush Alot” once a month that praises beautiful women whom I wish I had in my life. These are mainly women who I actually have crushes on, or admire their perceived public image.

Seeing as to how today is International Women’s Day

(Get up on your knowledge – see here;

http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/americas/03/08/world.womens.day/index.html?section=cnn_latest),

I’d like to celebrate and applaud the wonderful women of broadcast journalism and the news media world today by presenting a special edition of Crush Alot that focuses on all of my favorite ladies in front of the camera and behind the airwaves…

Women like Jeopardy’s Kelly Miyahara or my longtime fav, Ms. Jacque Reid & my new Crush, Tamron Hall of MSNBC.

These are dedicated souls who put their best face forward, are masters of poise and professionalism, and bring worlds together by supplying information at the microwave pace of today’s twitter-linked ADHD society and it’s insatiable thirst.

Who doesn’t Love the ever so sophisticated Sade Baderinwa?

Many of them are proactive in charity work and outside endeavors, but it’s on the job where they have broken down and continue to break down doors that have unbelievably, still up to now been untouched! There has been a great disparity in this field concerning gender and race representation, now witness a generation of women who marry both worlds and have brought this image to the forefront. Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see your primetime news or world coverage being brought to you by a strikingly gorgeous woman with a non-traditional name. This was not the norm 2 decades ago. Let alone, seeing them as the face of the actual news program, or given their full credit. There’s also a noticeable difference in the stylishness of the average reporter. These women look straight out of a catalog. Who would’ve thought that one day, it’d be regular to have poster-ready journalists on the red carpet, or as your screen saver?

In a way,

these women are like my ideal look type. Although I know they probably let loose on their own time, their on-the-job look represents what I love; style that shows off that they are indeed beauitful, feminine women, but carries a certain level of class in how that is exhibited and what’s revealed. Sometimes that dope tight turtleneck is 10 times sexier than the tube-top you have to pull up every 3 minutes. Take notes young chickies!

Here’s a few of those aforementioned Ladies killing the game and changing Minority to Majority story by story…

Pardon me for the Butt shot Profile but…

The smokin’ Hot woman above is Sharon Tay,

and here is a lovely lady who I had the pleasure of working with, Ms. Angela McKenzie.

If you remember a week and a half ago, I made mention of the Canadian Bombshell as she threw an event through her non-for-profit organization and her syndicated radio program, Initiative radio, Which you can catch here

I was more than honored to be apart of her event,

Initiative Radio with Angela McKenzie Salutes, Black History Maker;

Ralph McDaniels.

I put up the footage from the show, but it was an even bigger deal to find out that she coordinated it singlehandedly. Then, I was completely blown away to discover that Angela Mack as I call her, is a performer herself! Here’s a look at her in action.

Upon finding out about making it onto this segment, she told me that I must have an affinity for foreign women with big foreheads and freckles, but that was just her doing her whole downplay thing. Be on the lookout for her name to be popping up somewhere near you, making moves that make a difference.

Having that said, Angela,

YOU, and all of the women pictured above are My New Crush!!!

Honorable mention goes to Egypt, Big Lez, & Soledad O’Brien for holding it down all of these years.

And because the whole of March is Women’s History Month, I’m giving a double dose of the Crush Alot installments. Catch me at the end of the month!

The truth about why Men Cheat! Courtesy of Brandon Carter

My homegirl Tyiesha from the Bank across the street came into my day gig the other day in the midst of a testosterone-filled afternoon thanks to ever-so-reliable controversy sparkers, Gee and non other than Brandon Carter.

Well….Ms. Tyiesha had a question that seemed simple enough to her, as it does to most women apparently, but is really the age old question that’s been tormenting their minds for centuries now. Her question?

Why do men cheat? If they know they’re gonna cheat, why have a girlfriend?

The answer is as simple in actuality as her question seemed in theory.

Watch here as Brandon Breaks it down for all women. For any of you men who somehow didn’t know this, I guess this is Man-Up 101 for you as well!

Let me just go on record as saying that this is a conversation that I have held a million times, I prompted this particular convo, and I would like it to be known that I do not condone nor relate to any man who cheats in a serial fashion. In other words, I don’t associate with CHEATERS on average. I don’t respect what they do, nor have I ever been. YET, it is my firm belief that almost EVERY Man WILL CHEAT if given the proper oppurtunity, and have cheated at least once in their lifetimes (if they are the kind that actually get women). I know women cheat alot as well, but our reasons are totally different…Mainly because men don’t require reason at all for their infidelites. And yes, I have cheated before.

Your thoughts?

Ali – The G.O.A.T. of Cute Queens?? the growth of ms.Tatyana M.

Safe to say, Ashley Banks is blowing up like you thought she would.

Have you seen ms. Ali lately?

I mean, all adolescent boys like myself who grew up under the charismatic vice grip of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air couldn’t help but have the biggest crush if not more “impure thoughts” of the youngest of Banks’.

You remember that episode where she wanted to be a singer and she got on stage and sang “RESPECT” in that one outfit? or how about the episode that spawned the phrase “filthy McNasty” where she started dating  and looking grown in that mini-skirt?

But I was never on the Ashley Banks bandwagon. Either I was too young to really lust after her like that, or maybe I just looked at her like she was a kid and I was into fully developed and mature women. Around the time the rumor started spreading about Chili from TLC being her bigger sister and her being a relative of Muhammad Ali, I was thinking…damn, I’d much rather have Layla or Rhozonda over Ashley.

Or maybe it was because, as I mentioned in my Brittany Murphy Crush Alot post, that she went out with Former SeaQuest actor Johnathan Brandis, and her then Jungle Fever kind of made me think she was a corny Hollywood chic.

And I’m sure by now you’ve seen all kinds of threads across the internets about how she’s blossomed, littered with alot of these very pictures, but I’ve discovered in my more recent years that I’m much more of a fan of  Tatyana M. Ali than Ashley Banks.

Something tells me that she has an innate warmth, maybe it’s that smile or the dimples, but I get girl-next-door from her. Well, surely not any door in my hood, but you get the point. Sometimes she looks Eartha Kittish, other times she looks like a browner version of young Janet. But it’s all to the good because as you can see, the dangerous curves paired with the innocent appeal make for a nice tag-team. Add to that, the appearance that she doesn’t seem to come off as bourgie or seditty, more so genuinely cool, and it’s a done deal. But of course…I don’t know her.

It’s this presence tho, that makes her a part of the clan that I refer to as the Queens of Cute:

Those starlets and pretty women who don’t necessarily exude the sexual lure of say…an Angelina Jolie. Nor do they necessarily possess that hands down striking Beauty like say..a Halle Berry.

But what these Ladies do have is an undeniable gleam, a feature that makes you want to think of them as girlfriends rather than one-night trysts. A face that you want to take home and introduce to your mother. This is the category where your Ashanti’s, Hilary Duff’s and Lauren london’s fit. On the outside, that is.

You do understand the difference now right?

So I’m officially crowning Tatyana as royalty and cheering her on in the moves she makes… From the drama over the  “Buppies”  fiasco to whatever may come next…Even that Martin Lawrence – produced sitcom on TVOne entitled Love That Girl (props for the use of Raphael Saadiq’s song for the opening sequence) where she stars. Let’s see how long that lasts…

Hell, I feel so good, I’m throwing in her Debut music video from ’97 featuring Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz  (Yikes! bet you never thought you’d hear those names together. Or mentioned for that matter. And as you can see in the video, that Jungle Fever thing was still very much alive for Taty).

I think I like the second, cornier joint with Will Smith better!

(You know you liked it too!)

So here’s to you,

although you may not be Truly be related to THEE Ali,

you may very well be the Greatest Of All Time when it comes to the Cute Queens.

Tatyana,

you were, and are now doubly so,

My New Crush!