Wanna See a Superstar Lose His Identity?

Just watch Usher’s latest video for “More”:

For more than a decade, Usher was the standard bearer. His five album run of nearly flawless albums is practically peerless.

But then came Raymond vs. Raymond, a nakedly commercial and depressingly desperate album with almost no redeeming qualities at all. And Usher, like Michael Jackson before him, has taken up the mantle of aging artist pathetically hanging onto pop relevance instead of continuing to be the great artist he has always been.

Everything about this video is sad, starting and ending with a grown ass man with a trendy gay teen haircut.

“OMG” and “More” are the kinds of songs that a lot of people around the world like, but they are not Usher songs. They exist to top the charts and then be forgotten in a year. Anyone can perform these songs. A vocalist of Usher’s prodigious gifts? Wasted.

At this point in his career, Usher should be so aware of his public identity and his artistry that nothing could shake it. It is a sad, sad thing to watch an artist of Usher’s abilities get shook by life after 30 and the rise of an artist as inconsequential and musically threadbare as Chris Brown. They can’t take your title, you relinquish it.

Respect Your Elders: Ice Cube and Rev. Run

I haven't watched a music awards show in ages.  And errybody knows I think BET is largely responsible for all the ills in the black community and that I think everyone involved with it will go to that level of hell with the lawyers and Judas. 

But it looks like BET stepped its game up in one major way on the BET Hip Hop Awards this year by having 5 cyphers with an array of emcees, all of whom acquitted themselves quite nicely (even Kanye who, with this performance and his Monster verse, seems poised to be the emcee that people foolishly think he already is).

But this one was my favorite:

 

 

Wait…wait…run that back again.  Watch Cube and Run closely:

 

 

The word "insouciant" jumped into my head when I watched Ice Cube and Rev. Run in this video cause real heads use that word all the time lol.  Cube and Run perform like they don't even know that they are (ostensibly) too old for this form. There is not a single moment of doubt in either of them.  The confidence is not even confidence, man.  They are beyond all that.  

This is what it is to watch masters do what masters do.

I'm reminded watching this that the emcees around the way that always struck me the deepest as a kid were the unassuming cats who stepped into the cypher and ran the shit almost like it was second nature. Offhandedly. It wasn't boastful.  Not really.  It wasn't showy – with lots of moving around and arms punctuating the line. 

Naw son, it was death by a thousand shallow cuts. And you ain't even know you was cut and bleedin and dying until a few seconds after dude dropped the mic.

Or as Run says here:

"stunning, cunning and funny
'cause Run be running this art"

*places fist over mouth* *jumps up and down* *gives Run dap* OOOOOOHHHHHHHH!!!