Tag Archives: Kanye West

Lupe Fiasco and the Radical Messiness of Black Male Feeling

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I wonder if people – black people especially – really appreciate how beautiful it is to live at a time when black men are allowing themselves to feel so openly, to be emotional in public.

Lupe Fiasco articulates something that black men have been saying for a long time: that black men are dying, killing themselves and each other, that we live in a society where black male life is disposable. And he’s eloquent on the substance of what you see in this clip.

But what is truly remarkable is that he lets himself feel something more than just frustration and anger at the plight of black men. This is a display of profound, deep sadness. It’s love. Pure. Messy.

It takes Lupe Fiasco a minute to find the words. Those precious, awkward moments before he starts to find the words are wonderous, awe-inspiring, and deeply affecting.

And yet, when I watched this I was uncomfortable because I still don’t really know how to respond. This is not my vernacular. My reference is the 90s’ cold, hard grip on “keepin it real,” even as I never felt fully a part of that. My language is 2pac’s righteous indignation and anger, even it left me in so many ways illiterate.

I struggle with deep emotion. Still.

Artists like Drake, J. Cole, Frank Ocean, Kanye West and others are playing in space that is quite new. And while I think they often confuse narcissism for reflection and miss the mark in communicating what they are genuinely feeling, I appreciate so very much that the range of emotion that black men can feel publicly – and be successful and lauded – is so much broader now than it has been in the past.

Millennials have so many more colors to play with than previous generations allowed themselves. We should celebrate that.

I Still Wanna Ride for Brandy

Brandy Norwood.

There is no other young black artist who still engenders as much goodwill despite not having a hit song in nearly a decade as she does. People really want her to succeed again.

And it looks like Brandy wants to get it right this time too.

 

 

Of course, all the black music blogs are focusing on that “I really feel like this is my last chance” remark because it naturally leads one to question whether or not that goodwill everyone has for her might run out if the new album disappoints. I get that, though I think it’s not really the right question.

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The Limits of Bombast: Reviewing Beyoncé’s ‘4’

Beyoncé’s new album fascinates me because rather than deepen, complicate, and expand her sound as it is intended to, it really acts as a textbook example of the limits of bombast.

Since B’Day she has decided, for whatever reason, that every song no matter what the genre, theme, or tempo deserves to get the same vocal treatment – loud with occassional growls that are intended to convey conviction but really just scream effort*. But it didn’t really matter much before because she was singing songs that didn’t have any real meat to them anyway.

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