Tag Archives: Jay-Z

BET Awards

Was it just me, or was last night’s BET Awards more respectable than they’ve been in years!?  In the past, I tuned in mostly to make jokes about how far from grace the network had fallen.  I haven’t been a regular BET view in a while, but I can say my experience with it last night left me more like “Ok.  I see you, BET” as opposed to “Really, BET?  Really?!”  They attempted to mix ratchet with a tish more respectability.  I’m wasn’t mad at it.

Here are a few observations that stood out.  In no particular order:

  • I can’t believe Samuel L. Jackson hosted that joint.  How’d BET pull that off?
  • The rendition of ‘Niggas in Paris’ performed by SLJ and Spike Lee was pure torture/comedy.  It reminded me of when my uncles first heard rap music and exaggerated everything about it.  It was absurd but hilarious. But whatevs, it was Spike Lee and SLJ – two cats I kinda love – cuttin up on tv.  There are way worse ways to spend 5 minutes of your life.
  • Speaking of SLJ, Django Unchained looks good!  Could this be my people’s ‘Inglorious Basterds‘?  I.  Can’t.  Wait.
  • It was dope to see Jay-Z and Beyonce, Kanye and Kim K in attendance.  Seems like they usually call it in on the BET Awards, like they too cool for that.  So it was a nice surprise.
  • Oh, and Jay’s “scuse me, Kanye,  I’ma let you continue but…” jab was pretty great.  Whatever your feelings about whether Taylor Swift or Beyonce should’ve won that award that year, Kanye was a dick about it.  The moment last night was a collective get back.  Gotcha, ‘Ye.
  • Looks like D’Angelo might be back, y’all.  Dude sounded and played pretty good.  My fingers are crossed that this is an actual come back, not  a Lauryn Hill style tease.
  • So Lauren London’s the new character on The Game,eh?  Yeah, that’s incentive to at least watch the season premier.  But I’m out after that if the show otherwise still blows.
  • I get what y’all see in Kevin Hart.  He’s funny.  I like him.  The divorce stuff from his acceptance speech was awkward though.  Funny/sad isn’t the same as funny…
  • I’m so glad the great work of Maze featuring Frankie Beverly was honored last night.  Those cats are so smooth.  Maze’s music has been part of the soundtrack to some of the best moments of my life.  My college band, the Marching Crimson Pipers, used to play ‘Before I Let Go’ in the stands between plays at football games.  And no proper cookout is complete without  ‘Happy Feelings’ and ‘Golden Time of Day’ to wind it down.  Here, get to know Maze ft. Frankie Beverly.  You can thank me later.

  • I was nervous about the Whitney tribute after BET had completely dropped the ball on Michael’s in 2009.  But it turned out nicely.  Short, sweet, and sincere.  Well done.
  • Now I, too, thought it was wack to end the show on Tyga’s Rack City, and not Whitney’s swan song.  But I remembered that it was Mindless Behavior,  a group whose music I don’t think I’ve ever heard, that won the viewer’s choice award.  Their song, ‘Hello‘, beat out Jay-Z and Kanye ‘Otis,’ Beyonce’s ‘Love on Top,’ Wale and Miguel’s ‘Lotus Flower Bomb,’ and Drake, Lil Wayne, and Tyga’s ‘The Motto.”  In other words, R.I.P. Whitney, but life goes on.  And the show must go on.

C’est la vie, I guess.  Last night’s awards show was definitely Black entertainment television, and with a lot less cringe.  I enjoyed it, and I could still face myself in the mirror this morning.  I’d say that’s progress.  I see you, BET.

One last thing:  SLJ did shade the shit out of BET though.  “I did my job.  Now I gotta go back to being professional.”  smh…


Love on Top

When Beyonce Knowles revealed in the most spectacular way the news that she and Jay-Z were expecting a little one, reactions from the people were varied. Y’all can be mad funny actin sometimes…

In my house, there were smiles and squeals of joy for a happy couple. A happy, married, Black couple — a singer and a rapper, no less — who shared with the world news of the little life their love had created. Across the twittosphere, there was the snark and irreverence that we’ve come to expect. But also, there was glee and hosts of folks congratulating Bey and Jay, knowing full well that neither Bey nor Jay would ever even read their lil tweets o’love and congratulations. Those people didn’t care though. They seemed genuinely happy for these two. Genuinely happy for the seemingly solid relationship they’ve built and reinforced through creating life together.

Look how she looks at him. He's the only one she sees.

The “great reveal of 2011” was definitely a dope moment. In the beginning, I wondered why Beyonce The Silhouette Knowles would perform at the VMAs in all those clothes. Why wasn’t there more pyrotechnics and wind and more hair slinging? Why was she goin hard, but not nearly as hard as we’d come to expect from ol Bey?

Then she dropped the mic. And rubbed that belly, and it all made sense. And to top it off, there was the expression on her face.

This, my friends, is elation. You can’t take it away from her, and you can’t keep us from feeling it through the screen.

And there was Jay’s reaction, too.

Peep the salute.

This, my friends, is pride. Not braggadocio for a material thing whose luster will fade in time. This is Man acknowledging and affirming his Mrs., and their young’n.

As far as we know, Jay-Z and Beyonce have been together nearly 10 years, and married for 3. That’s married. Not engaged. Not something similar to marriage, but married. Wedding rings. Vows. “…forsaking all others” and shit. So there’s something to be said for that kind of longevity between two über-stars. Their star power individually is eleventybillion volts. Thus, sharing that kind of power could have spelled disaster early. But it didn’t. Because people who want to be together will eventually work it out, becoming a far more formidable force together, than they would be apart. Nothing’s perfect but its worth it…

I don’t usually get caught up in who’s marrying who, and who else is having Lil Wayne’s baby. But I admit to loving these two, and to loving watching their relationship flourish. They’ve been so private for so long, which probably is why they’ve been successful and seemingly happy as a celebrity couple. We don’t know everything, and we don’t need to know everything. We can share in their felicity, but we don’t have to live vicariously through them. For this reason, that they shared such an intimate gift so publicly felt like a *Jigga Salute* to fans, who have respected their space and rooted for them from afar.

Finally, let me disabuse this chauvinist assumption that Bey is now in the clear because she done landed herself a good, rich man. Lest you forget, like Shawn Carter, Beyonce Knowles is a brand. An enterprise. She was on her way before she began a relationship with Jay-Z, and her stock will likely continue to rise for as long as she does what she’s done to make good on her own name. See that?

She does what she’s done to make good on her name.

Beyonce is just about as self-made as her man. They are equally yoked. Even if there’s a hundred million dollar difference between them, she’s still in the hundred million dollar club. In other words, Jay may wear the pants, but she wears the pumps. It’s a perfect match. In fact, I don’t know that any other romantic situation is possible for these two. What single woman (I mean “single” woman as opposed to “harem” of women) could capture the attention and affections of a rapper mogul, but a femme mogul-in-the-making? Perhaps Kim Porter knows. Perhaps, but probably not.

Beyonce doesn’t “need” Jay-Z to take care of her; she doesn’t “need” any man to. She acquiesces because he captured her attention and affections too. Folks criticized “4” for being…I don’t know…I don’t know what folks expected it to be. What it sounds like to me, though, is a familiar Beyonce meme: celebration of womanhood. “Girls Run the World” sends a powerful message about the strength of femininity.

My persuasion can build a nation…

Boy you know you love it how we’re smart enough to make these millions/strong enough to bear the children/then get back to business.

I love that.

But “4” also succeeds in celebrating grown ass decisions about love and happiness. “I Care,” “1+1,” “I Miss You,” “Best Thing I Never Had,” and “Start Over” lead us lovingly into “Countdown,” “End of Time,” “Rather Die Young,” and finally, “Love on Top.” “4” definitely feels like Beyonce’s baby. And parts of it feel like a love letter to her husband. It really seems fitting that the only entity able to eclipse the Knowles-Carter shooting star would be the little fella or the little lady they created together. Talk about Love on Top.

The Price of Entertainment

Re-redistributing the Wealth.

In recent months, I’ve been branded a “serious” person.  I suppose it’s because, in spite of myself, I get turned on by big words and political debates.  I watch documentaries about World Wars and the commercialization of food — I use phrases like “the commercialization of food.”  I think I can comfortably assume that when folks characterize someone as “serious,” they do so with little or no ill-intention.  They mean to distinguish you from the masses for whom everyday life out in the world is serious enough — the people who choose not to compound their personal problems with foreign peoples’ shit or U.S. Congressional back and forth over some arbitrary issue.  Life is hard out here, y’all.  And folks really just wanna be entertained.

But entertainment in lieu of information comes with a hefty price tag.    If we were capable of both, I’d bypass my soapbox  and turn to The Bachelorette to keep up with pop culture.  But we aren’t capable of both.  How else do you account for Flavor of Love?  Soulja Boy?  Kim Kardashian?  And what the fuck is a Bad Girls Club?  What’s so special about them that they get to be on tv?  Who are these hoes    “bad girls”?

I firmly believe that life and art are symbiotically related; they feed off one another, for better or for worse.    There was a time when artistry was defined by the voice it gave to the reality its artists lived.  Jazz from Black musicians during the 40s was syncopated rebellion against inequality and discrimination, and upbeat swing that might lead you to believe shit was actually cool for folks.  Likewise, the condition of urban life in some of America’s best known cities gave birth to hip hop music and hip hop culture.  Brothas and sistas rapped about selling dope, and about “gang banging” to survive and to establish some semblance of family and protection, because this was the life they knew — the only life they knew.  There are some contemporary moments that hearken back to that era, too.  On Say Hello from the American Gangster album, Jay-Z’s like:

 We aint thugs for the sake of just bein thugs/nobody do that where we grew at, nigga duh/the poverty line we not above, so out come the mask and gloves cause we aint feelin the love/ we aint doin crime for the sake of doin crimes/ we movin dimes cause we aint doin fine/one outta three of us is locked up doin time/you know what that type of shit can do to a nigga’s mind…

There was once substance in what also entertained us.  And where there was substance, there existed the potential for information and education.  It appears that what drives us now is our need to be entertained.  We live to see manufactured drama unfold, to watch cats shuck and jive for our limited attention spans.  “Reality” tv shows, for example, aren’t even shows about real people anymore.  Their casts are now chock full of caricatures of personalities, which must include:  the promiscuous gay guy; the kinda sorta lesbian that will do it to a dude given the right vodka proof; the bitch; the Black; the loose white girl; the one who’s a little off and might have some undealt-with mental/emotional situations, and the white boy (who is either country-boy-virginal, or frat-boy-asshole — there are no in betweens in reality tv).  This isn’t the real world; it’s a real-type world created for our amusement.

Last week, someone tweeted this Daily Show clip of Don Lemon lamenting that the news network he reports for — the “most trusted name in news” —  severely shorts its trustworthiness with attempts to entertain intermingled with its job to inform.

I get Lemon’s irritation.  Because it’s all fun and games until you get hoodwinked by the shuck and jive.  And that’s the price we pay.  We get exhausted at the notion of learning something new, and disenchanted with intellectual curiosity.  We get so wrapped up in what happens in fake life that we can barely come up for air when real life lays in the balance.  I’m a political scientist, and I have a fetish for learning so I admit to being a bit biased.  However, I don’t have to be either of those things to notice that what I don’t know, can most certainly hurt me.

I wrote last week about the debt ceiling debate that had been unnecessarily holding our economy hostage.  Let me be clearer about that:  it was Republicans holding the economy hostage, and it was a Republican ideologically-oriented “deal” that was passed to avert another economic disaster.  It’s important to know this because the economic forecast as a result of the passage of the “bipartisan” deal is cloudy than a muthafucka.  Yesterday, the markets plummeted in reaction, and today our nation sits at the precipice of recession 2.0.  If and when the shit hits the fan is too late to remember that you voted for the people who made these decisions.  Or that you didn’t vote for the people who would have made different ones (which, in essence, was a vote for your opposition).

Either way, the lesson going forward should be:  you can watch what happens live, but you must also watch what happens — to our lives — when our collective desire for a court jester supersedes our collective desire to know shit.