Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kanye DEED That: His 2010 BET Performance...

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I have to admit, there are times when I take the artistic genius of one said Kanye West, for granted. It is no secret this is a man who is uber talented and can produce some great songs that can make you bop
your head and two step. Around a month ago when Kanye released his single “Power” I made the same mistake. Upon first listen, there appeared to be a surface deep meaning to his lyrics. However, on a second, third, or even tenth listen within his aesthetic expression is the conundrum of hip hop: 
While many of us claim to want thought provoking, subconscious music, mainstream culture has so diluted the art form that we need “deep” lyrics spoon-fed to us. 

That was the position I was in when I watched Kanye West open up the 2010 BET Awards this past Sunday. So… he’s just going to stand on a mountain, wearing a Jesus piece around his neck, hold a microphone stand and rap this song? Ok den. I even openly admitted on Twitter that I was underwhelmed.

That was until yesterday afternoon when I watched the performance over again. Turns out Kanye was not at all rocking a Jesus piece, instead his chain boasted the head of Horus.

The depiction of Horus.

Egyptian history suggests that the Pharoahs of Egypt descended from the incarnations of Horus and his father, Orsiris, who was killed. Horus, himself was said to be from the lineage of Atum, the creator god. Like the other gods produced by Atum, Horus became representative of the cosmic and terrestial forces in Egypt. This degrees of separation Horus had between these forces, Atum, and the Pharoahs of Egypt decreed Horus to have dominion over the entire world. No one man should have all that power...

In addition to being connected to the Pharoahs, Horus is most notably known for being the god of the sky, as well as the god of war and hunting. The eye of Horus is also linked to the eye of time and synchronicity… The clock’s ticking I just count the hours...

The sky backdrop playing during Kanye’s performance raised a lot of eyebrows. However, knowing that this performance centered on Horus, it now makes sense. Then, to me it got deeper. In addition to being the god of the sky, Horus was known as the god of war and hunting. It was this mythological role that catapulted him as the symbol of power and majesty. Enter the mountains, to represent that of our purple majesty, a creation so widely recognized as being captivating and powerful. It is also important to note one of Horus’ identities, Ra-Haremkhuti, would spring from the mountains in the morning and return to the mountains at sunset.

People then commented on whether Kanye was supposed to be Moses at the top of the mountain. While there are similarities, I’d like to think there was more to it. Particularly, the lyric “no one man should have all that power” refers to an incident from the motion picture Malcolm X. In one scene, the black leader stood before a crowd of protesters, raised his hand and hushed the crowd. After seeing this a police chief commented “that’s too much power for one man to have.” In the beginning of his performance, while standing on the mountain, Kanye extends his arm and points above the crowd. This stance is similar to that of one of the leader's most popularized photographs.

However, if we were to explore the Moses parallels, Kanye speaks of “living in that 21st century, doing something mean to it.” In the latter part of the song, he talks about being the “abomination of Obama’s nation.” As we know, the first Black president of the United States has been lauded as the Dr. Martin Luther King of our time, who we know was also compared to Moses. With that being said, I believe his presence on the mountaintop also serves as a visual metaphor for Dr. King’s speech in which he articulates having “been to the mountaintop.” The microphone stand could also depict a staff, which goes back to the Moses reference.

PhotobucketI also believe that within this performance Kanye developed an alter ego and took on the persona of Horus. Kanye Afterall, this wouldn't be the first time that Kanye has pretended to be a deity, the Taylor Swift incident? Jesus Walks anyone? The image on the farthest left is that of Kanye West's Horus Chain. The second image is that of the pyramid ring Kanye wore. As shown in the picture of Horus above, the staff is in the same hand that is adorned with jewelry. Kanye imitates this on stage. Additionally, in his performance West rocks a red suit resembling the color of the Horus. As mentioned, the microphone stand is symbolic of a staff. This time, the staff of Horus. In this performance, Kanye appears to be channeling the likeness of Malcolm, Martin, and now Horus. West can also be seen flapping his arms in the beginning of his performance. This is important to note in a comparison, because Horus has been referenced as a falcon. 21st Century Schizo man...

The introduction of Horus certainly added depth to Kanye's performance. If applied, the Egyptian god also revealed a depth in his lyrics, which is another blog post entirely. The fact is, I have always excused Kanye West for being arrogant, because of in my opinion even if he never said another word, his work speaks for itself. Now? Even, if I am TOTALLY off mark with my assumptions, Kanye West has done with this performance what hip-hop is supposed to do: lead me to think outside the box.  

Good Ass Job, Mr. West...

Monday, June 28, 2010


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"I let ya'll down before, but I won't ever do it again. I promise" - Chris Brown
There is something overwhelmingly calm about being perfect. Never having to deal with disappointing yourself, those you love, or those you admire. You never have to say that you're sorry and you never have to admit that you are wrong. Being perfect affords you the privilege to judge the mistakes of others. Unfortunately, I have never been perfect, so everything I wrote is simply an assumption. 
On the other hand, what I have been is a person who has made foolish mistakes. Particularly, one mistake (which I am not ready to admit yet) that IF I was caught, would have undoubtedly landed me in jail. However, that's a story that I will tell from beyond my grave. My emphasis on "IF I was caught" is very important. Too often, we do things for which if we suffer no consequences, we trick ourselves into believing because our faults haven't been broadcast, they somehow don't exist. Selective memory breeds arrogance, allowing imperfect people to weigh their faults against those of another.
As a result of Chris Brown's MJ Tribute on the BET Awards, the prerequisites for forgiveness are once again up for debate. Public sentiment has clouded what it means to forgive and the action has long moved from being a personal decision to a political one. Furthermore, in situations such as Chris Brown's the perceived interconnectedness we have with our celebrities breeds a contempt of familiarity in which we are quick to feel personally wronged in the event of a transgression. We fail to recognize the uniqueness to a situation. Circumstances surrounding actions are perceived the same, and out of laziness and spite we dub one action or inaction as the panacea to the problem. Nevertheless, forgiveness is multifaceted. Thankfully, it is also less shallow.

The recent phenomenon causing us to believe forgiveness is the approval of wrongdoings is inherently flawed. In no way does forgiveness justify a person's wrong(s). The actual beauty of forgiveness is, it does not assuage egos. Unfortunately, as flawed beings we are the ones who pervert its intent. If anything forgiveness should emphasize accountability. If the offending party requests forgiveness, they have taken the step to acknowledge their actions and its adverse affect on the life of another. Yet, even if they haven't asked forgiveness is the commitment you make to change your mindset and loosen your grip on thoughts of resentment, revenge, and even hatred towards that person.
To be honest, I'm actually not sure what brought about the fear we have when it comes to forgiveness. Instead of just doing it, we constantly apply stipulations. A gift that is unconditional has been left in the hands of a people dependent upon conditionality and fickleness. Humility has been replaced with the desire to humiliate. Furthermore, we wait for the moment in which "what we won't do" or more accurately, "what we haven't got caught doing, another person will." Our code of morality has been reduced to a hierarchy of egocentrism and we hold out on forgiveness for a chance to use it as a trump card.

As a person who has just recently even forgiven myself for things I've done, I know how hard it is to let go of things for which I have a vested interest. In these past few years I have had to truly focus on this little thing called forgiveness, asking myself what it means. When I hear people say "I'm not ready to forgive someone," it has begun to hit me that these are people content with feeling hurt, resentful, bitter, etc. These are people that subscribe to the culture of victimology. Unless you are one of those perfect people that I talked about earlier, you have made a mistake and you will make one again. Forgiveness is a boomerang, what you put out you get back. Be careful.

Friday, June 25, 2010

MJ, I Can't Help But Love You...

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As I sat in my boss’ office on June 25, 2009, I pretended not to listen while his daughter talked to him on his obnoxiously loud cell phone. I had been in his office for around 10 minutes and because I had pretty much accepted, when it came to him, my time wasn’t valuable I sat there doodling on a pad of paper.

I had actually stopped earhustling and began concentrating on my drawing that would only make a right handed five year old, who drew with his left hand, jealous. It must have been at that moment that the television flashed the words “Michael Jackson has been pronounced dead,” because I heard her scream through the phone. “OMG! MICHAEL JACKSON DIED!”

Immediately my eyes shot up, from my drawing of dreams deferred. MICHAEL JACKSON!?! Like, seriously!?! I was still saddened by the news of Farrah Fawcett passing earlier that morning and I had promised to check back on Twitter for MJ updates after I had learned of his cardiac arrest that afternoon. I figured he would be ok, because 1) He was Michael Jackson aka immortal and 2) someone famous had already died today. Don’t judge me because of my effed up reasoning.

Suddenly, while sitting in my boss’ office, my time seemed a little more valuable. I had to move around, do something, so I could stop myself from crying. It was around 4:30 and I had an hour and a half left at work, but I was wondering how I could do anything at all. It felt like someone just told me a member of my family died.

I don’t say that to pretend I was some overly obsessed MJ fan. I can admit that I laughed when Katt Williams went on his epic roast of MJ that Black Folk since have vehemently denounced o__O. But still, when I heard MJ died, the part of my soul dedicated to appreciating the aesthetic beauty of his timeless talent, gave way and created a black hole. No one can deny the musical genius that was Michael Jackson.

For me, to know the man died, who gave us countless hits with the Jackson Five, then went on to give us songs like (in no particular order): Butterflies, You Are Not Alone, Baby Be Mine, Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Girlfriend, Pretty Young Thing, Off the Wall, Black or White, Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, Smooth Criminal, The Lady in my Life, The Girl Is Mine, Will You Be There, Bad, Human Nature, Dangerous, Thriller, Wanna Be Starting Something, Rock With You, Heal the World, The Earth Song, Man in the Mirror, Leave Me Alone, Scream, Rock My World, Beat It, They Don’t Really Care About Us… I MEAN DO YOU SEE WHERE I’M GOING WITH THIS???

Yet, even as I take into account all of MJ's talent, I find myself conflicted. Despite the fame, in light of the jokes, there is something extremely solemn about knowing even in the midst of brilliance, Michael was also addicted to prescription medication to the point he needed them to sleep. We sympathized with MJ when he asked "Have You Seen My Childhood?" Yet we critiqued him for finding comfort in the company of children. We place blame on his father, but we continue to rock to the sounds of the Jackson 5.

Even in an attempt to immortalize and pretend MJ is without imperfections, we cannot fail to acknowledge that his trials and tribulations were a necessary condition to his artistry. Without the fire, the coal never produces a diamond. A year later and I still can’t believe that he is gone, but I'm glad that I appreciated him while he was here.

Rest in Peace, Michael Joseph Jackson. The King of Pop. #GoneTooSoon

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Don't Wanna Grow Up...

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Today, as I turn twenty four, like birthdays of yesterday's past, I sit and reflect. What I could have done more of and of that I did, what I could have done better. Specifically, this past year, there have been tremendous obstacles that I've faced and am yet to overcome. Yet, perhaps my biggest area of growth lies in the fact that for every mistake I've made and consequence I've encountered I've realized I have no one to blame but myself. That's a hard pill to swallow.

About a week ago, I sat and had a serious conversation with my dad. In the midst of talking about some of the life decisions I've made he stated that I would soon be twenty four. The way he said it made it seem like twenty four was some segue into adulthood that I had missed or even ignored. Perhaps he was right, because to me it meant nothing.

At twenty-four, I still don't want to work a 9-5. I don't want to have a serious relationship, because gawd forbid I have to get married and have kids. Or even worse that I lose my status as Daddy's Little Girl, a fate to me, almost worst than death. Ironically, my viewpoints differ GREATLY than those when I was a child and adolescent. I couldn't wait to grow up, but now the very thought scares me. Point blank, I'm regressing.

I'm pretty sure this comes from living in a society where thirty is heralded as the new twenty. Twenty year olds aren't that far removed from their adolescence and adolescents are still treated as children. Even more tragic is I live in a society where grown women happily revert to childhood and aspire to be barbies. Teenagers are constantly marketed within a subculture that segregates them from adulthood and perpetuates a culture of inadequateness. The flow of transition, that prepares us for the rest of our lives, has been largely interrupted.

Psychoanalyzing myself, as I often do, the only thing I could come up with was that: I'm experiencing the effects of a culture that is content in its infantilization. Just a generation ago at 21 and 24, my mom and dad, respectively, were married. Three years later they would have my sister who is three years my senior.

When I was younger, I remember thinking that the age gap between my parents and myself was so large. Now I couldn't get Father Time to slow down even if put a Rohypnol in his drink. MY problem is I'm not ready to grow up. Yet, my reality is that, until I meet the fate worst than no longer being Daddy's Little Girl, I have no choice. Happy Birthday to me!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

If Loving Us Is Wrong, I Don't Wanna Be White...

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Dear Black Men Who Despise Black Women:

I don't hate you. I don't pity you. I'm not apathetic to your situation. As a matter of fact, I support your right to date, marry, and procreate with whomever you choose (even if it is your second cousin, I see you Slim Thug). In any event, I respect your choice. However, let's get one thing straight. I will no longer allow my character to be called into question because of that choice.

As imperfect as I may be, those imperfections may no longer be used to demonize me or make me a scapegoat for what you desire. You see, at the end of the day, it is not about me, at least it shouldn't be about me. It is about you needing to justify your choice. Why are your "functional" relationships with white women constructed only in opposition to those you have with us? Why is your desire for white women constantly juxtaposed with your disdain for black women? There is nothing wrong with dating a white woman. However, what message are you sending to the white woman you are dating when being with her is only the solution when you perceive that loving us is wrong? Don't these women deserve to be loved on their own merits?

You see, BMWDBW your problem isn't really with black women. Your problem is that you have conformed to the commodification and objectification of all women. The problem lies in your notion that women are supposed to be docile, supposed to wait on you hand and foot, and stroke your ego at the expense of her pride, simply because you are a man. In choosing to objectify, the shinier the woman, the more distracted you become. You relinquish any responsibility you have in maintaining a functional relationship and place it all on your "object." Like other commodified goods, you look at your women and your expectations for your women as acceptable barter in the exchange of goods and services. I suspect that when white women don't fit your mold, you abandon them too. Yet, Black women are the closest to you, so we receive your backlash first.

BMWDBW, you perpetuate your stereotypes and pass them off as truth in order to make the various facets of black femininity deviant. You pick and choose what makes Black women respectable and decide when the wind blows what is inherently wrong with us. However, I suggest you take a look at yourselves. If the wind blows too hard and knocks you down, do not blame the wind for doing what it was supposed to do. Furthermore, do not assume its intent was to make you fall. Blame yourself because your roots were not planted firmly enough to enable you to endure the wind. You see, if your roots aren't firmly planted it doesn't matter what happens, when wind blows you will always end up uprooted and disheveled.

Again, I will say there is nothing wrong with dating white women. If that is truly your preference. However, do not make white women the moral opposite of your constructed "reality" for black women. Do not use the same flawed reality that implicates black women are supposed to be nurturers, yet doesn't acknowledge structural impediments we face. Do not rely on this reality that helps you transform the black woman into the overbearing matriarch. Do not rely on this false reality that suggests Black women are not worthy of your love, adoration, and protection while suggesting she was the cause of your emasculation.

BMWDW, I have long stopped caring about seeing you walking down the street with a white woman. I have long stopped caring to see you pull them in a little closer when you pass me on the street. You do not have to flaunt or defend your choice to me. I am not your main point of contention for why you have chosen a white woman. Nor am I the determining factor for your self esteem. I am simply me.

And if loving me is wrong, I don't wanna be white.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Fantasia Receives Honorary Diploma...

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CONGRATS Fantasia!

Let it be known that I stan for Ms. Barrino. I can watch the same youtube videos of her for hours straight and never ceased to be amazed. I watched and rooted for her on American Idol. When she won and released her first album, I recognized her as the "single mom from American Idol." However, six years later and her growth as an artist has been tremendous. When it comes down to a person with true, raw, unadulterated talent Fantasia is that chick!

Not only has she grown as an artist, but she has grown as a person. I have watched her interviews from when she first came out, to the way she presents herself now. I have seen her be able to connect with her audience whether it was singing for Elton John, singing at the Tony Awards, or singing for the audience of Mo'Nique's talk show. She has managed to keep her finances under check after almost losing her house to foreclosure, because she trusted and enabled a lot of people. She has also grown in terms of keeping a consistent style and wardrobe, because lawd knows Fanny used to look a hot mess sometimes. All of this growth, culminated into the events of this past weekend when Fantasia earned an honorary diploma from Andrews High School in Greensboro, North Carolina.

It is no secret that Fantasia dropped out of high school when she was 14, became a teen mom and was illiterate. She talked extensively about not being able to read her music scores on American Idol. While taping her reality show, Fantasia Barrino: For Real, she also talked about this and how she wanted to set an example for her daughter and earn her GED. Well, she did it! I'm extremely proud of her, it's easy to get wrapped up in the fame and wealth and forget about education. ESPECIALLY, when the prevailing message is that education leads to money. I know there are so many great things in her future, and even if she doesn't go back to school for another thing I'm glad she finished what she started.

Congrats Fantasia... For Real! <----- okay that was a lil corny. Sue me.

Check out some of my fav Fantasia performances:

Same song, VERY different performance... This was after she won and if you connect the dots to this song and her life story, the emotion is just overwhelming.

Check out Patti about to get the Holy Ghost in this one...

Okay, and only because I could go on FOREVER, my last performance is:
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