Entertainment

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7 – Episode 1 RuCap

Welcome back racers!!! I know that I owe you all a ton of Black History Facts, but I will get those to you.  However, our lives has been lacking in sparkle and fabulous since we last saw the ladies of Drag Race. Our long national nightmare has ended with the premiere of Season Seven last night.  Let’s dive on in and see what this set of queens are serving this season.

Miss Fame walks in serving alien goddess. Her face is pretty flawless and she seems confident and put together. She’s the queen that I’m most familiar with through her makeup tutorials.

MissFame

Ginger Minj is a tiny plus size queen serving up Oralndo Housewife with her opening look.  I’m interested to see if she can bring it.

minj

Jaidynn Diore Fierce speaks in fluent catchphrase but is one of the few queens who seems truly lively.  She was one of my favorite in the meet the queens videos by virtue of being one of the few who was memorable in any way.

JaidynnDioreFierce

Violet Chachki…is super tiny in the waist and is clearly pretty.  That said, she is incredibly shady.  A lot of it seems to be coming for a young, dumb place.

Violet_Chachki

Max is adorable.  She’s like Milk and Sharon Needles had a baby. I really love her aesthetic.

Max

Miss Fame is already shady for no reason with some blotting joke related to the newspaper. It’s not that serious, ladies. You just got there.

Katya! I adore her.  She’s from Boston.  She’s the funniest so far. I did really did enjoy her “Come On Muscular Dystrophy!” from the Meet The Queens video because C’mon ____ never gets old.

Katya

 

That said, I know that we all love Laganja.  It’s so fun to yell “C’mon _______!” But seriously queens, stop it. Everyone can’t c’mon in this 5 minutes span.

Jasmine Masters is so fun to listen to.  But so hard to look at.

jasmine

Mrs. Kasha Davis is old school fun. She came across fun in the interview but her look is a bland.

kasha-full

 

I have no time for Violet and her constant preening.

Trixie Mattel has such a distinct look.  It’s ugly, but distinct.  I like it.

trixiemattel

Kandy Ho’ has a shit ton of attitude and is mostly boring. She looks like Aubrey O’Day from afar and Serena ChaCha up close.  I don’t see it for her.

KandyHo

I fucking hate Pearl.  Pearl is a cute enough boy, but I just want him to stop talking. Credit where it’s due, the deep voice “Sup?” was funny.

Pearl

Trixie decides she wants to jump on the C’mon Chinstrap! bandwagon.

ny40

Kennedy Davenport can dance her ass off.  She seemed a skosh bland but after getting the Alyssa Edwards seal of approval, I hope that she brings it.

Kennedy Davenport

Sasha Belle is probably the least interesting queen of the bunch.  That wig isn’t working for me, for you, or for her.

Sasha_Belle

Tempest DuJour’s intro is pretty great.  I wish they hadn’t spoiled the baby dropping bit. I love her campy style.  Kandy Ho tries to throw age shade.  I’m actually tired of her already.

tempestdujour

Let’s talk about how age/weight shade is so tired.  It doesn’t require any creativity or wit.  Bye Kandy.

Ru talks via a creepy baby image but yells ‘Balenciaga!” Ru enters and announces that the first challenge is a fashion week extravaganza.  The ladies will have to showcase two of their best looks, one from the spring collection and one from the fall collection. Jaidynn declares it #TooMuch.

Time for a runway show!

Ginger opens in a magenta sparkly frock.  Very pretty. Her fall look is fabulous.  Leopard and neon is so drag but excecuted well.

Kandy Ho looks dull in yellow lace that doesn’t fit her skin tone. Her fall look with the fur is a good look though.

Max is super campy but pretty. The spring look isn’t fashion forward enough. But then Max SLAYS the winter look.  She also shows off a pretty fabulous runway walk too, which I don’t think anyone would have expected.

Jaidynn looks good, but not in a fashion way.  She wears two jumpsuits ignoring the fall and winter look dictates. Ehhh.

Katya is stunning.  The full fur look is amazing for winter shits all over Kandy No.  Both of her looks do a great job of blending campy while meeting the glamour standards that the show reuqires.  ME thinks she’s a threat.

Miss Kasha is true to her housewife character and has a very drag walk.  Both looks are bland and don’t stand out in any way.

Trixie’s dresses are both super cute.  I didn’t realize how curvy she was. I genuinely like the sequined dress for winter though I don’t think she’ll be winning any awards for her work.

Pearl is obnoxious. Her winter look is actually a great look.  Well executed. Fur for spring is stupid though.  Shut up, Pearl.

Tempest has a sexy gypsy thing going on. I love the quilted poncho for her winter look, but the wig is horrendous.

Miss Fame looks incredible.  Love the red outfit. That gold look with the fascinator? Flawless.

Jasmine is very banjee realness for spring. She has a fondness for showing her abs but I’m not sure it’s coming across feminine. Jasmine is serving purple trenchcoat for winter. It’s…cheap looking.  Like it was made of curtain fabric.

Violet’s look is really creative and good.  Hate that. The tartan look is pretty fabulous though.

chachki

Kennedy looks like Niecy Nash (a point that is brought up by Carson). Her looks are bland but pretty. I love the hair on the winter look but the actual look itself is still not enough to impress.

Sasha…does not have great style instincts. Her “lobster” dress is pretty awful.

Did I mention Alaska was here to give us her Anna Wintour impression? It’s flawless.

“It’s hideous.  I think I’ll put it on the cover.”

The new Pit Crew comes in nude.  Hot redheads are great fun.  Jason and Miles are back looking goodt.

Ru then announces that the queens will need to create a resort wear look that tears away to reveal a nude illusion.  (Shoutout to Carmen Carrera and Trinity K. Bonet!) Jasmine then gives us a great quip with “No Tea, No Shade, No Pink Lemonade!” and tells us Ru wouldn’t like to see some of these ladies naked.  She’s right.

After the break, Trixie makes a good point where she mentions that her look uses none of her natural features in her drag.  Miss Fame gives us another brand lecture.  (My friend is watching live with Katya and she says that you should drink each time she says brand. Don’t die!)

We learn about Tempest’s kids and husband, as well as her weight loss! Aww that’s nice.  Kandy Ho doesn’t know how to sew.  It’s Season 7.  Just lie.

Jasmine has sewn some peacock fabric to two hula hoops and then proceeds to tell us about cocoons and butterflies for approximately 5 minutes.  It’s probably her nerves, but she has to learn to stop talking.  Ru is not impressed.

Trixie then tells us about how her boyfriend’s family doesn’t like drag.  We’ve already gotten way too many sob stories.  Stop it.  Violet and Kandy are really tapping on my nerves.

Katya tells us that she has the body of a 50-year Irish Rock Climber.  My love for her could not be any greater.

Runway Time! (For the third time)

Ru floats down the runway in turquoise (tur-kwazz) peekaboo look and looks incredible.  Michelle visage is back and dressed like an ice skater.  Carson Kressly is here and I love him.  Ross Matthews is here also.

emmaoverit

Kathy Griffin is here with bad makeup and fur.  Love her!

NOW SISSY THAT WALK!

Katya scomes out in all red fringe.  Her idea to use the hair is a great job.  Flashing her asshole, may work. May not. I’m going to guess not.

Kasha Davis does a great job of portraying confidence.  There’s a lot of shade from the judges.

Sasha Belle flops with a the black bra instead of nude.  The look is tacky and bland. Think Jinxx on a very bad day.

Miss Fame looks great in turquoise and her body looks spectacular.

Kennedy Davenport does a great job selling a mediocre outfit.  Love those wings.

Tempest’s look is so so bad.  The crab belt is bad. The makeup is also bad. When I watched this on my phone, I didn’t think it was so bad, but on my TV? No gawd.

judyno

Trixie’s tennis outfit is odd. But the outlines of her outfit fir her Barbie brand. Pearl has such a good look but her walk and attitude suck.  Her tuck needs some work as well. Max! I love the crutches. She’s putting on too much of a show, but I like where her mind is. Ginger is great fun.  I like her in yellow and I think that she really has the skills.  She’s a front runner.

Jasmine…has hula hoops.  I like the longer hair and actually like the fringe outfit.  Her makeup is also better than in previous runways. Kandy has a good body and bad contouring. Jaidynn’s outfit is fabulous and a much better showing that the runway challenge.  Love her! Show us how sexy you is! Violet has the skills and the dress is a fun nod to Southern dressing.  Padding really does help.  Skinny isn’t exactly feminine.

Judging time!

Our safe queens: Ginger, Jaidynn, Pearl, Kasha, Katya, Max, and Trixie.  No surprises here.

Sasha is not polished.  She’s saying she confused the assignment.  But really it just wasn’t put together well. Tempest looks so so bad on the runway.

That wig.

Those wrinkles.

Jasmine gets mixed reviews but it’s clear the judges like her.  The fringe and her purple raincoat are read. Poor thing. Michelle calls out Kandy’s contour and I’m so glad we’re on the same page.  Bye ashy! Her ugly tunic thing is also a tragedy.

Miss Fame is going to suffer from high expectations. But her work was superb this week. Kennedy is in the top! Her presentation definitely saved her look. Violet killed it with the fall look.  Michelle and I continue to be on the same page by saying that we don’t see it for Violet’s boy body. Kathy Griffin disagrees and it’s clear that Michelle isn’t featuring it.

Oh shit! We have some shady shade right now.  Ru asks who is least impressive amongst the queens.

Sasha – Pearl

Fame – Jaidynn

Kennedy – Trixie

Tempest – Ginger

Jasmine – Sasha

Kandy – Tempest

Violet – Sasha

Tempest calls out Kandy for calling her old.  Kandy looks like Elmer Fudd from the side. Sasha is pissed that people think she is sloppy as her cheap nylon wig looms at us menacingly.

The judges love Miss Fame and Kennedy.  Costumey is thrown around and I can see that. Violet has the fashion edge that is going to appeal, but showing boy body is always no no.  Courtney got that critique and Violet is no Courtney.

Tempest looked awful.  Her being a costumer is brought up.  Jasmine has this great energy but not enough fabulousness. Kandy is ugly and her spirit is ugly.  Sasha is read for being sloppy and all around raggedy. I still don’t really see it for Ross Matthews, but I will give him the beard joke.

Ru calls Kennedy safe. Violet Chachki wins the first challenge! Werq Atlanta!  Miss Fame and Michelle Visage are livid, but she’s safe. Sasha is somehow safe? I didn’t expect this.

Tempest is in the bottom two which makes sense.  Kandy is boring and has awful makeup.  Jasmine is great fun to talk to and hard to look at.  Jasmine is safe! Kandy is in the bottom.

The two rivals lip sync to “Geronimo,” one of Ru’s lesser songs.  Both of these queens are so so mediocre.  Tempest is…doing the noodle apparently.  Kandy gives us some krumping and due to having a modicum of energy, saves herself.  This is really bad in so many ways.  Do these ladies not prepare?

Katya wins the lip sync when she tells us “I don’t know what that Miss Crab Lady is doing, but all I know is the bearded ho is TURNING IT!” I LOVE HER!

Tempest…to paraphrase Gia Gunn “dances like a man.” This is Honey Mahogany/Vivienne Pinay level terrible.,

Tempest sadly leaves us looking the hottest of messes. Wait they have to hold a Ru doll when they leave. Clever marketing though!

So what did you all think?  Any favorites yet?  If you can’t tell, I’m living for Katya.  This set seems especially shady and fashion heavy.  It’s my hope that the season gives us all that we need.  I would recap Untucked but shit, it’s on YouTube. Watch it below!

Four Days of Black History Plus Some Quick Grammy Thoughts

Let’s start with what you all came for, Black History!

February 6th – Toni Morrison

toni

Toni Morrison is an American novelist, editor, and professor. Her novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly detailed characters. Among her best known novels are The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved. She was also commissioned to write the libretto for a new opera, Margaret Garner, first performed in 2005. She won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award in 1988 for Beloved and the Nobel Prize in 1993. On May 29, 2012, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

February 7th – Lonnie Johnson

lonnie

Lonnie George Johnson is an American inventor and engineer who holds more than 80 patents. Johnson is most known for inventing the Super Soaker water gun, which has ranked among the world’s top 20 best-selling toys every year since its release.

February 8th – Diahann Carroll

diahann

Diahann Carroll is an American television and stage actress and singer. She has had a long, successful career that has spanned nearly six decades. After appearing in some of the earliest major studio films to feature black casts such as Carmen Jones (1954) and Porgy and Bess (1959) and on Broadway, she starred in Julia (1968), one of the first series on American television to star a black woman in a non-stereotypical role. Later she played the role of Dominique Deveraux on the popular prime time soap opera, Dynasty. She is the recipient of numerous stage and screen awards and nominations.

February 9th – Matthew Henson

henson

Matthew Alexander Henson was the first African-American Arctic explorer, an associate of Robert Peary on seven voyages over a period of nearly 23 years. They made six voyages and spent a total of 18 years in expeditions. Henson served as a navigator and craftsman, traded with Inuit and learned their language, and was known as Peary’s “first man” for these arduous travels.

During their 1909 expedition to Greenland, Henson accompanied Peary in the small party, including four Inuit men, that has been recognized as the first to reach the Geographic North Pole (although this has also been subject to dispute). Henson was invited in 1937 as a member of The Explorers Club due to his achievement and was the first African American to be accepted. In 1948 he was made an honorary member, a distinction for 20 persons annually.


 

Man that was a lot of history.  And frankly, that’s the best part of this post because the Grammys were dull.

233a6-cat-snow

I had every intention of doing a full recap, but there was nothing there.  The performances ranged from delightful (Lady Gaga/Tony Bennett) to cringeworthy (Kanye/Madonna).  No one performed anything up-tempo and with the show that long, you needed someone to up the energy.  It was mostly draining.  Even artists that are typically entertaining and fun were listless.

Honestly, I just wanted it to be over so I could watch Bob’s Burgers.  What were your thoughts?

TRASHY THURSDAY IS BACK! – The Big Tymers

WHAT’S UP FRESH? IT’S OUR TURN BABY!

Trashy Thursday is back, snitches! It’s been far too long since the dulcet tones of hoodboogers have populated this blog.  But how exactly do we come back??

bigtymers

Now by the time we were blessed with this duo, Cash Money has been around for a while. But like a bat out of hell, Still Fly came through and stormed the charts gaining the duo MTV-Level fame with the catchy hook and hilarious subject matter.  So let’s take a step back and just deep dive in the anthems.

This Is How We Do is perfect.  Mannie Fresh truly was the best part of Cash Money.  His productions are why so many of their jams were so catchy.  This song has his fingerprints all over it.  Baby might as well be a feature rapper in it.

yesand

Now Stun’n is actually their first single as a duo.

The sheer difference between the sound here between the first two songs we listened to is a clear example of late 90’s Dirty South rap and the early 2000’s rap that was played on the top 40 stations. It’s not just the money difference.  It’s a range in style and polish. It’s in the griminess of Stun’n juxtaposed with the slickness and pleasant beats of This Is How We Do.  But you can go to Complex to get a true historical point-of-view on rap and hip hop.

I.

FUCK.

THESE.

HOES.

AFTER.

OUR.

SHOOOOOOW!

snoopdance

Listen, I just had a pure dance break to this.  Also, how many people punched themselves in the face getting their roll on?  I was actually driving home to NC from Boston for my vacation when this song came on the radio.  I, of course, started to jam and dance.  Luckily, there was no damage to my car or the Chikfila drive-thru.

kanyeshrug

Let’s go back to an earlier jam.

dougie

EVERYTHING I TELL YOU! If you aren’t pursing your lips and shoulder bopping, you’re not listening to it correctly.

snowwhitetwerk

YES YES YES YES YES! The Cribs parody. The cornrows.

So this is my absolute favorite Big Tymers song of all time.  OF ALL TIME!!! It just makes me smile so hard.  The special effects!

pleases

Story Time! So young Trash actually attended a Big Tymers concert back in the day.  It was pretty much the greatest thing to ever happen. During Oh Yeah!, there was a giant diamond set piece.  During the breakdown, the top opened and what had to be 100 hoochies dressed in metallic swimwear poured out to dance around the stage for the next few songs.  It was SO SO SO GOOD!!!! Y’all the early 2000’s were a glorious time.  I only paid $5 for my ticket.

To close this out, turn your hymnals to Page 55, Bling Bling.

I know I left out some brilliant tracks. 10 Wayz and Fuck You are other favorites.  What are yours? Share your favorite memories of Baby and Mannie Fresh.

Black History Facts Plus Random Thoughts

Hey y’all! It’s been a minute, now I’m back with the jumpoff.

I saw this on our dear friend Brash’s Facebook and thought it would be important to keep up with the important Black History facts she’s sharing here on the blog.

Feb. 2nd – Meet Alexander Miles. He is credited with an important evolutionary upgrade to the elevator. You know how the doors close automatically so you can ignore that coworker you don’t like or avoid the serial killer who’s after you? And also how you don’t have to close them when you get off the elevator? Thank Mr. Miles. He also improved the closing of the elevator shaft when the elevator isn’t on a floor.

Alexander-Miles

 


 

Now some cobbled together thoughts…

Empire is still the greatest.  I’m going to get up some more detailed thoughts this week.  (Finally!)

RuPaul’s Drag Race is FINALLY back!!! Best believe I’ll be here recapping it with you all.

The Super Bowl was a good game.  Missy Elliott is the queen of everything. Let’s enjoy a retrospective of some of her greatest hits.

I listened to Work It so so so so many times.  One of the greatest songs of the early 2000’s.  The amount of practice to get the backwards lyrics is why I didn’t do well in Pre-Calculus.

One Minute Man with Trina PLUS The Get Ur Freak On Remix with Nelly Furtado has me about to flip a table.

dutty

 

Stone. Cold.  Classic.  If you don’t know this song by heart, rectify this immediately.  This is music video history.

 

That’s all for now.

Quickie Post: Saaphyri vs. H-Town

So this was on my mind this morning:

Saaphyri is amazing. My personal favorite part of this is when Saaphyri yells “GET OFF OF ME!”  while clinging to H-Town’s hair.

beylaugh

Also: You better quit interruptin’ my prayers before God directs me to whoop your ass.

 

Let’s Talk: Empire

“Why you marry that white girl?”

                 “We met in school.  She’s brilliant!”

 “All pretty white girls are brilliant.  Even when they ain’t.”

 You all should know me well enough to know that I don’t typically watch shows with plot that requires weekly viewing.  That said, the previews for the show intrigued me and I tuned in to see how I’d like it.

Short Version

Bitch, this was so fucking good! I’m watching it until it goes off the air.

Premise

Take it away, Fox Website!

From Academy Award nominee Lee Daniels (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Precious”) and Emmy Award winner Danny Strong (“Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” “Game Change”), comes EMPIRE, a sexy and powerful new drama about the head of a music empire whose three sons and ex-wife all battle for his throne.

Long Version

Before we get into the specifics of the show and why it is so effective, let’s talk about framing.

The show works so well because it is so Black.  It is a Black primetime soap opera.  It takes tropes from 70’s Blaxploitation, the rise of 90’s hip hop culture, and the current climate in Black pop culture.  It combines two generations’ “20-Year Nostalgia Cycle” and makes pitch perfect style and setting choices to portray Black culture intersecting in 2015.

It’s not “African-American”.  It’s not “nu Black.” This isn’t a show for Shea Butter Twitter.

Part of the success of the direction is because of director Lee Daniels.  Having a Black gay man who lived through these specific cultural movements creates a lens that places the show squarely in my frame of reference.  The use of one of my all-time favorite YouTube hoodrat classics:

A tacky, sexual song set to a feel-good instrumental?  That’s 2000s (R. Kelly’s Happy People) and 70’s disco cheese right there.  The whole show is full of these blink or you’ll miss it “mash-up” style and cultural references that effectively create the atmosphere.  Having Timbaland do the score for this show is another fantastic choice and an example of how the atmosphere is set.  His music has always been the sound of the today and of the future.  We’ve also built such a relationship with him as a producer that his sound is distinctly 90’s and distinctly today. (Oh hai 20 year Nostalgia cycle!)

The other important aspect of this show is never to forget that it is a soap opera.  Empire has a tawdry feel because it is a soap opera.  The slimy characters and telegraphing of character motivation is essential in this type of show.  Soaps are never about pushing boundaries.  These shows aim to make the audience feel smarter than the producers and then flip or surpass their expectations with drama and plot twists.  It’s key that you as an audience build expectations with a show like this prior to the actual payoff with plot.

Here’s an example: You know Luscious and Jamal (the gay son) don’t get along.  You didn’t realize he was going to throw him a trash can for putting on his mom’s fire red pumps.

Need another? Cookie repeatedly stands up for Jamal for being the only son to visit her in prison.  She becomes his manager and we see several scenes of her being accepting of his sexuality but whenever he’s not around, she uses derogatory language.

Now I could go on and on with all the plot twists the show set up in the Pilot, but that’s not my job.  Take notes, ho!

Casting & Characters

The casting here works brilliantly.  There’s some weak spots in the acting (hey Migos son!) But each cast member has the look and feel of a trope from the nostalgic or current eras being referenced.  Luscious & Cookie’s names are nothing if not pure 70’s experimentation. This was the era where Blacks were able to achieve some manner of success and grew up influenced by the Black Power moment.  Their sons Andre, Jamal, and Hakeem are totally prototypical 90’s Black names. You went to school with guys with those names.

Let’s go a step further.  Terrence Howard is one of the grossest people on the planet in real life and in his movies. Let’s let Patti LaHelle describe it.

Casting him as a greedy, money-hungry slimeball is the exactly what should be happening.  Howard’s history of (alleged) domestic violence works into the framework of the show. He’s almost always wearing silk pajamas (shades of Hugh Hefner) and candy is available in every room (shades of addiction).  The processed hair is such an inspired choice that I could write a whole post on it.  But since this is already long enough, it’s a sign of the respectability politics at play which was encouraged Blacks (like New Money Luscious) to conform to White beauty standards as they worked to climb the corporate ladder (especially in the 70s when wearing a process was akin to being an Uncle Tom).

Taraji, oh Taraji.  Cookie is a role that only she could work.  One of the saddest aspects of Hollywood is the series of bland, lowly roles for Black actresses.  Taraji has an incredible ability to play intelligent women in hard circumstances. She also has an edge, formed by her self-described life in a lower-middle class neighborhood and Historically Black College Education (NC A&T, Howard).  Her roles have capitalized on this upbringing (a touch of hood) in a stereotypical way that may have limited her from greater exposure to mainstream White audiences.  This role takes that stereotype, but ups the ante with better material and a more polished script.  Cookie is always dressed in animal print, gawdy but self-aware.  She’s not a character to take things lying down.  All honors must go to Taraji because she can act her ass off and she does it here.  She’s easily the most exciting part of the show.

The oldest son (Andre) played by uber-hottie and future husband Trai Byers.  The brilliance in his casting is that he is very 90’s handsome. Think of the square-jawed handsomeness of Shemar Moore or the appealing face of Morris Chestnut.  His character’s interracial marriage gives me the disappointment in Taye Diggs’ felt after the announcement of his (alleged and denied) feelings towards Black women.  One of my absolute favorite styling choices only shows up when he’s in the board room.  Whenever the camera pans over the table, he’s always wearing an oddly colored suit in comparison to the other members.  It’s a visual cue that he’s out of place and different from the rest of the table, much like he’s an outcast in his family.

Empire-pic-Trai-Byers-as-Andre-Lyon

#heyboo

The middle son (Jamal) is played by super cute Jussie Smollet.  The beauty of his casting is that he is the cute guy that every girl liked in high school.  He wasn’t the most popular and he was a little awkward but that was enough to make him endearing and adorable. This quality only enhances his character’s homosexuality as it renders him a bit unattainable. This stereotype has been around for years, but his Usher-like vocal quality places him squarely in the 90s and early 2000s.

jussie

If you told me that Hakeem (Bryshere Gray) was a member of Rae Sremmurd, I’d believe you. The hair designs, the high-top fade, the way that they dress him in a shiny metallic.  It’s all very now.  Even his character’s music is reminiscent of the current Migos/Young Thug era of party music. The emotional abandonment from both Cookie and Luscious fuel his partying and alcohol as an escape.  His closeness with Jamal is almost a dependency but you can tell that he knows that Jamal is more talented.  I think the dueling projects between the two could provide a great grounding for the more melodramatic qualities of the show.

The supporting cast is too vast for detailed description but I’m sure that as we are introduced to each one and start to learn their motivations, the show will only get more interesting.

Criticism

Alright, let’s do this. I’ve issued nearly universal praise for the show so far. But I do want to temper that this praise is due to the framing of this show as a soap opera.  We want it to tell compelling stories with campy drama, extreme emotion, and a suspension of disbelief.  This is not the real world and it allows for a looser narrative structure and a chance to attack the words and emotions with gusto.  In my opinion, the same can be said for Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and shows of this ilk.  There may be elements of reality borrowed to legitimize the story, but this is a work of fiction with fictional characters.

I state this because while most of the acting is good, there’s little nuance in the performances. Think about Olivia’s patented lip quiver.  It only works in that context because reactions on Scandal are typically full-scale to make it must-see television.

Actually, last night I discussed the show with Sass who brought up a really good point about the characters being mostly flimsy stereotypes.

“The smart son marries a white girl, Cookie is an aggressive black woman, Luscious was a drug dealer turned rapper.  I haven’t seen a break from the stereotypical black character.”

Because of my love for this episode, I wanted to disagree and even mentioned my thesis that the characters needed to be broad in a soapy manner.  But I could not argue against her because I agreed with that point. These aren’t new characters.  Nothing is breaking new ground at all.  Even 50 Cent’s messy ass had a point about some of the similarities to his show, Power.

I also absolutely HATE that the show is on at the same time as Black-ish. I am so pleased that there are least 4 shows currently on television with Black women in central roles, but to place the two shows with mostly Black casts in the same timeslot?  That’s bullshit.

With that said, I definitely anticipate some people writing essays about how shows like this are bad for Black people. “Setting the race back” is always a concern for the Don Lemons of the world.  I’d argue that the not-so-pleasant portrayal of African-Americans can be beneficial so long as there are positive and neutral examples in the media as well.

As a fan of the Golden & Silver age of Hollywood, I’ve seen many Sidney Poitier movies.  He along with other Black actors and actresses like Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte worked to only take roles that portrayed Blacks in a positive light.  This was incredibly admirable but it made the roles less interesting, in my opinion.  Poitier plays the same faultless man in so many movies.  This was done to show that the White characters hated him solely because of his race and not his actions.  This was necessary.  This was important.  But I’d argue that none of his roles are as memorable as Dandridge tarting it up a bit for the role in Carmen Jones.  Carmen is not a likeable character and yet she is more interesting than even Mr. Tibbs (who is my preferred way to view Poitier).

Taking this viewpoint, while I wish there were more varied and substantial roles for African Americans, I can’t deny that the show is so well-cast and uses a mythology that allows it’s soapy/fantasy nature to shine.  I also appreciate that very few characters are meant to be likeable or sweet. The only character being portrayed in a fully positive way currently is Jamal and with the way the plot has been set up, I don’t see that lasting (Secretly, the saintly treatment of the homosexual character is another trope of which I’m not fond. Shades of Kurt from Glee.)  These may be caricatures, but they are human.  No one is an angel but each character has real motivations and the show took the time to examine their reasoning briefly in the first episode.

Overall, I’m going to keep watching.  The season preview packed so many guest stars that I screamed at the television.  I can’t promise any full recaps but I will probably be tweeting about the show.  Let me know your thoughts and comments below.  However, remember to “Take that bass out of your voice when you talk to me!”

Bloggity Blog Blog

Hey y’all!!!

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It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Needless to say, the final weeks of 2014 were a bust in several ways.  There were things to discuss, but nothing was positive and our drafts listing is filled with half-written posts.  But it’s a new year and I’ve decided to dive back in as a manner of expressing myself again. So let’s talk.

What’s Yo (Relationship) Status at the Bank?
Guess who happens to still be single in the most vivid way imaginable?

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Over the course of the holidays, it was almost as if everything I did involved hanging with couples, listening to the drama between couples, or getting advice on how to end up in a couple.  It was harsh to say the least.

Even worse, I realized that my type is still relatively elusive.  While Class may try to act like my requirements for dating are obscure, they are actually not that bad.  But the two requirements that are most important to me seem to be the hardest to find.  Internally motivated and an interesting conversationalist seem to be rarities these days.  Lacking in these areas render even the most superficially attractive specimen useless in my world.

But the largest obstacle standing in my way is my reluctance to put myself out there.  For many years, it was fear of rejection that held me back.  That I was too big or not attractive enough to be worth anyone’s attention.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I’m okay looking.  I’m relatively funny.  I’ve got some things going for me.  Also, I’m Important.

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Seriously though, I’ve exhausted my desire to go out.  I’m tired of checking apps and dating sites.  I’m just in this place where I’d rather not be bothered.  That attitude doesn’t fix the situation, but it is where I’m at these days.  We’ll see what changes this year.

On Blackness
This blog isn’t even a year old and we have a full archive on Race Issues.

But it seems 2014 was the year where racists just said “Fuck It” and went hard in the paint to make America miserable unsafe for Black people. I remember back when President Obama was elected, there was a mixed feeling of elation and fear.  One of the biggest lessons I’d learned was that when white people feel a loss of perceived power, they lash out.  No matter what.  Whether it’s getting angry and upset with harsh words and attempts to ruin the victor’s credibility or attempting to utilize the one perceived slight as an example of how hard they have it, it is going to happen.  The only other reaction I’ve ever seen is the defense “I’m not racist, I hate everyone.  Racist comment, racist comment, racist comment.”  That’s probably the worst of all.

But to keep myself from going full-on thesis, here’s Miles Jai:

Here’s Chescaleigh:

Here’s Tre Melvin:

I’m using these as examples because I’m trying to swallow this rage and keep it trucking. But the end result is that people are pissed at the injustice.  And no one cares how much it inconveniences you.  Our lives are at stake.  Until there is real change, there will truly be no peace.

Pettiness and Heartbreaks: Celebrity Style
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“Cut that Chinese Pussy Hair off my face. Lol”

When I tell you that Sass and I cackled for hours on end over the Lispy/Fanny Pack brief separation.  But something about this douchey face and the Lol sent me over the moon.

Both of these people truly need to leave their lives off the internet, but for the first time in ages, I laughed at their antics instead of rolling my eyes.  The involvement of Drake. Her tears of melancholy and faux-inspirational Instagrams from the Jhene Aiko playbook of songwriting.  The phrase “Chinese Pussy Hair”.  This is classic.

2014 also saw the breakup of Amber Rose & Wiz Latifah. I like Amber and Wiz is entertaining to look up so hopefully things will be good for their baby.  However, this my friends:

is good times. I love this like I love cheese.

Some Last Minute Jams
Here’s two of my favorite songs.  Leggo!

In The Presence Of Mirrors – PM Dawn

Ugh, love this group so much.  I wore my aunt’s cassette for “Of The Heart, Of the Soul, And of the Cross” out when I borrowed it back in middle/high school.  They have an interesting way of speaking about life and love in a way that’s emotional and masculine if that makes sense.  It’s melodic but it’s funky.  It’s definitely a product of the early 90’s free-for-all music scene. I’ll leave the song’s interpretation up to you, but this song still takes me to a place of wondering who I am and what I’m doing.

Please Don’t Turn Me On – Artful Dodger

With my very public love of Craig David, I don’t think it is surprising that UK Garage music appeals to me. Artful Dodger did some production work on Craig’s first album too, but it wasn’t until much later that I took a dive into his singles. I love the softness of his production, the abundance of harmonies, and his ability to give songs a groove while downplaying the drumbeat. It’s all very lush, if that makes sense.  This song makes me happy.

So what’s happening in your world? Are you looking forward to 2015?

Aretha Butchers The Great Diva Classics – An Album Review

So you might remember this being a thing that happened:

Aretha’s Wet N’ Wild Eye Shadow.

Aretha’s wobbly knockers sitting sideways like boys in the days.

Aretha’s minty green discount prom dress.

Cissy’s perpetual over it face and lack of effort.

It’s amazing.

Well all of this was leading up to a new album release!!!

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So this is a cover of the “great diva classics” and Aretha is here to show you how she does it in 2014.  I’m going to listen to what can only be a flaw-free album.

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I’ll be rating each song on a scale of 1 to 5 Aretha Jigs.  One Aretha Jig being a live Jhene Aiko performance.  Five Aretha Jigs being this Respect performance. Let’s get started!

Track 1: At Last (originally performed by Etta James)

This one starts out pretty well.  Aretha seems comfortable and ready to slay.  But then, we get some of Aretha’s slight liberties where she slides up an octave. But you know this is nice.  Aretha’s trademark rasp and lisp are here, but there was some restraint here.  Both in the performance and the post-production (you’ll see what I mean later).  This is a good start to the album!

Rating: 4/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 2: Rolling In The Deep – Aretha’s Version (originally performed by Adele)

You’ve already laughed at that live performance.  But how does the recorded version hold up?

Not too well actually.  The autotune on her voice in the verses are strange.  I like her performance during the pre-chorus for the most part.  But I just don’t follow where Aretha was going with the arbitrary octave jumps.  Her slides in the chorus are just as hilarious as they were live.

WE COULD HAVE HAD IT aaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWWWWLLLLL!

ROLLING IN THE DeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPP!

But I can’t recommend this for any reason other than the lols.  There’s so much happening and it’s such a tonal departure from the original.  That doesn’t mean I’m not going to listen to it over and over again.

The bridge into Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is an interesting choice.  But they’ve autotuned her belting and it’s just so weird and, sorry to say, bad.  It’s just bad.  This is not a good song.  But it is an amazing one.

Rating: 2/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 3: Midnight Train to Georgia (originally by Gladys Knight & The Pips)

Ooh I love this song!

::starts bopping::

“aHeeeeeeLL AAAAAAAAAYYYYEEEE”

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This one is going to be a hard one.  Part of it is that I absolutely adore the huskiness of Gladys Knight’s voice and her vocal performance on this song.  Aretha staying in her upper register does not fit this song even a little.

Once I get over that tragic mistake, it’s listenable.  The beat is comfortable and the background singers are killing it.  Aretha’s voice is much more natural here than in Rolling In The Deep.  Her ad libs as the song closes is some of the best stuff on the album so far.  It’s not too bad.

Rating: 3/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 4: I Will Survive – The Aretha Version (originally by Gloria Gaynor)

Okay this is the first song that should really use her upper register.  Is that auto-tune???

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What is the jazz hi-hat??

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Okay.  It speeds ups after the first chorus.  I love the scatting! For the most part, once the disco beat kicks in, this is good.  Not great, but solid.  Aretha could have kept that ending run.

Wait, is that Survivor by Destiny’s Child?!?!?!? Okay, that is how a mash-up is done.  Wait, is this about her broken engagement from Catfish??? Okay Aretha! Sing from your pain!

Whomever thought it was a good idea to use effects on Aretha Franklin’s voice should be put out to pasture.  Her voice may not be at peak, but what in the absolute fuck? Leave it as it is.

This song has all the parts to be a good cover.  I like the scatting and Aretha’s mashup.  But I hate that the auto-tune and I especially HATE the intro.

Rating: 1/5 Aretha Jig 

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Track 5: People (Originally by Barbra Streisand)

Now I’m not as familiar with this song in comparison with the first four tracks.  But I think that it truly benefits from a more laissez-faire approach to the production.  The slower songs let Aretha be Aretha.  That’s all we really need.  My only complaints here are that I wish she had taken a bit more care to enunciate the song.  With the lisp on each “people,” the message loses just a hint of its power.  The other is that there’s a slight thinness to her voice in the later parts of the songs.  I wish it had a little more power to it.

Overall, I like this and it befits the Queen of Soul.

Rating: 4/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 6: No One (originally by Alicia Keys)

Umm, is that the Casio keyboard Reggae 2 beat?

Wow…this intro…

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It doesn’t get any better from there honestly.  This is a travesty.  The voice is processed with in an inch of its life.  The beat is just awful. The vocal performance does not fit at all.

This is the first song that is actively terrible.  Yikes.

Rating: 0/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 7: I’m Every Woman/Respect (Originally by Chaka Khan and Aretha Franklin)

Pump up the groove! Okay, this is already miles better than No One.  This song fits so much better on her voice.  I also love that the first voice stays in one octave.  It’s rare that she doesn’t arbitrarily jump up the octave.  (See the second verse and chorus).

Even with that complaint, it’s still good.  I’m bopping you know!

yankin bop

Now, the Respect portion of the song doesn’t work at all.  I mean, did you click that video I linked earlier in the post?  Now that was over 50 years ago. But once you listen to that, it’s hard to listen to this.  That said it’s still good, and I almost upped the score to five jiggin’ Arethas because I love a good key change.

Rating: 4/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 8: Teach Me Tonight (This was performed by everyone, but let’s go with Dinah Washington)

Ooh, the slower songs are better.  And this is no exception.  The simple production really lets her shine.  Though the touches of autotune are completely out of place.

But this is beautiful.  This is the kind of cover I want to hear from Aretha Franklin.  Soulful, simple, all about her voice.

Best song on the album, by a wide margin

Rating: 5/5 Aretha Jigs

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Track 9: You Keep Me Hangin’ On (originally by The Supremes)

Okay, the opening is promising.  I love that Aretha performed with a bit of sweetness in her voice (a lovely nod to The Boss).

I like this a lot.  It’s much more relaxed and truly uses Aretha’s gifts appropriately.  Minor pitch correction.  Minimal octave jumps until Aretha is allowed to just go at it.  There’s such restraint here and the album shines in those moments.  Now excuse me while I bop my shoulders.

Another of the finer moments of the album.  Not as good as Teach Me Tonight, but solid all around.

Rating: 5/5 Aretha Jigs (I originally had this at a 4, but I honestly don’t have any real complaints)

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Track 10: Nothing Compares 2 U (originally by Sinead O’Connor)

Did you all know this was written by Prince?  Great diva classic, indeed!

Okay, this is jazzy. With a big band arrangement.  This isn’t what I was expecting.  I like  it, I think.

So I need to actually write about this song.  It’s so far outside of what I was expecting that I’m struggling to write about it.  There’s no way to compare this to the original.  That’s actually smart.  I’m not so sure that the song itself fits the production.  It’s an admirable attempt, but my brain just associates this lyric with Sinead’s buzzcut and lone tear.

NothingCompares2U

Taking it from  an sparse, emotional ballad to this upbeat, sassy song.

Don’t let my critique take away for Aretha’s singing.  I actually think this is her strongest vocal performance on the entire album.  So soulful and full of life.  The beginning of the album has this weird feeling of trying to modernize Aretha.  I don’t know about you all but that’s not what I want.  She has a voice that is representative of that bygone era and we don’t need to plasticize it, even if it’s not in prime condition.

Rating: 4/5 Aretha Jigs

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Overall Rating: 3/5 Aretha Jigs

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I like this album way more than I thought I would going into this review.  After that Rolling In The Deep, what possible opinion could I have??

But as I started to mention in the last song critique, the strengths of this album lie in letting Aretha be Aretha.  She’s not Kesha.  She doesn’t need vocal effects.  Give her a standard or a song from an era where covers of covers were number one hits and let her do her thing.  Despite age, Aretha still has a remarkable ability to convey emotion in her voice and to really use her voice as an instrument.  Look at the difference in her performance on Keep Me Hanging On versus the power on the opening verse of People.  Most of your famous singers these days are incapable of that versatility and it is why the divas are revered.

The album goes wrong when we try to modernize Aretha to make her “palatable” for the current music scene.  The covers of Rolling In the Deep and No One are easily the worst parts of the album.  Someone with good sense could have stopped this and steered her towards more classic sounding songs or at least better production as it relates to these two.

The other issue that I may not have raised is that there definitely is something cheap sounding about the album.  I mentioned that there are some pre-packaged sounding beats here and there.  Again, this isn’t as big a release in 2014 as say a Taylor Swift album (I just vomited in my mouth typing that). So there’s not going to be as much of an investment in the production on behalf of the label.  This can work for certain artists, but since most classic songs rely on a hearty instrumentation, it weakens the song rather than adding to it.

Go take a listen and let me know what you think! I’m off to bop to Hoodrat Tunes.  My basic side has been neglected.

Guest Post: Instagram’s Explore Page

Editorial Note: Welcome Sass back into the fray for another hilarious post about how you’re fucking up on a daily basis. -Team Trash

The Instagram Explore Page…where the shitty taste of my friends gathers and kills my soul.

Earlier this year…or maybe late last year…or maybe earlier last year? Fuck it, I don’t know, sometime before today, Instagram updated their Popular page to become the Explore page. Before, the Popular page was a place where the most liked pictures on Instagram were showcased. There you could see Kim Kardashian’s newest selfie (even though you don’t follow her, but 10 million other people do) or the latest vegetable that Oprah picked from her garden (because, Queen). Even if you don’t follow them, you were able to see what was popular at the time.

And then that changed.

Now, the Explore page displays a mix of pictures popular in your country, pictures your friends have liked and people similar to the people that you follow. It’s more a platform to discover, or explore (see what they did there?) the world outside of themselves and their immediate circle. Sometimes, there are some good finds there; for example, Mankofit with her killer workout tips, DanaChanel and her inspirational messages, and Oprah with her vegetable garden (because, Queen). But other times…Lord Jesus, bless it. The ratchetry of some of my friends is out, about, and pushed to the forefront of my feed.

Here are the top 5 terrible things I can ALWAYS count on seeing on the Explore page:

1.)  Instagram Models and Boutiques – I probably brought this on myself, honestly, because I follow Draya, but there are A LOT of Instagram models and boutiques featured here. There’s a lot of mesh, a ton of weave, breast, butt and lip augmentation and flesh that I don’t need. Usually, these “fashions” can be purchased on the low – bandage, cut out dresses made of mesh can be purchased for $15.99, which includes shipping, handling, tax, service fees, production costs and materials. These “models” have booking information for club appearances and fully styled “I woke up like this” pictures. Yeah, okay.

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2.)  The Half-Naked Boys – Some of these half naked boys are models of either the Instagram or legitimate variety. Others of them are regular people, stunting for their thirsty Instagram followers, whit their pants halfway removed, giving us pubic hair and six-packs, while they brush their teeth with the caption, “Morning.” Boy, stop.I don’t know how these end up on my page, but my eyes are dead set on people I follow (lowers glasses and glares at Trash). Sometimes you get shirtless, sometimes you get pantsless, and sometimes you get an ass clap/twerk video with the caption, “Bored.” I’m never ready for those videos.

(Editor’s Note: I don’t know what Sass is talking about.  I keep it sophisticated and elegant at all times.  Maybe she should check Class)

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3.)  Philosophical Posts from the Ignorant and Highly Uninformed – Everyone is not bright. We know this. The second I find out which of my friends likes posts like the one below, they’re unfollowed. Dead ass. Ebola can be treated and cured, just like you can HIV? Okay, boss. Catch both, and tell me which one clears up first. Honest to God, one of the comments said that they won’t tell you that drinking Lysol cures HIV and they’re keeping that information from us, too. You’re right, medical professionals just won’t tell us that. How rude of them.

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4.)  Memes – The first go ‘round of memes are usually funny. And then they’re not. Let Olivia from The Cosby Show, Kermit and the tea, the “this could be us, but…,” and all the other dead memes go to their much deserved eternal slumber. They don’t need their own accounts and they most certainly don’t need new life every single day. Are some funny? Certainly? Are most? NOPE! Be mindful of your meme usage, ladies and gents. Send Terrio to school, draw on LeBron’s hairline, cure that awkward looking Black girl of her perpetual confusion, and give that struggle ponytail a weave. However, Kim’s cry face and the Martin Baker on the phone memes will never get old to me. Also, any Rihanna face usually makes for a good time. Just be accurate in the captions.

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5.)  Food posts – Honestly, I don’t have an issue with these, I just needed a fifth and Trash didn’t answer his phone when I needed another suggestion (I set myself up with five, I should have gone for three). I even think that CookinForBae is amazing. This bitch be hungry. Keep sharing those, I need them.

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(Editorial Note: Trash can in fact confirm that this did not happen.  However, I did just see a large man in a taupe sleeveless top with a cowl neck on my Explore page, so carry on.)

The Return of Trashy Thursday

Two posts in two days! It’s almost as if someone runs this blog again.

Today it’s time for another Trashy Thursday where we discuss some of my favorite tunes for the basic.  Let’s get started.

Gigolo – Nick Cannon f. R. Kelly

On the suggestion of Sass, we thought that we should bow down and pay homage to the King of Corny, Nick Cannon.  While he is mostly the worst, he has created some hilarious moments a la this song. Also, if Amber Rose gets with him, I’d be shocked.  Mariah would cut someone.

Sally Got a One Track Mind – Diamond D & The Psychotic Neurotics

Now this is another fantastic Sass suggestion.  This is a little more serious than our normal Trashy Thursday fare, but it’s real life.  Sally is a nasty girl out here doing a lot with her life.  Is that you??

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Blowjob Betty – Too $hort

Speaking of nasty girls, here’s Too $hort’s version of that song.  It’s more ignorant than the cautionary tale above, but just as real.

Whistle While You Twerk – Ying Yang Twins

What the world needs now is a Ying Yang Twins reunion and a resurgence of crunk.  Now excuse me while I bop around my house.

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Yasss Bitch – Nicki Minaj

Now I’m not the biggest fan on Nicholas. We know this.  But re-purposing one of my favorite Vines ever??  That’s how it’s done.  Click here for the original Vine.

So that’s it.  Sorry it’s a short one, but you’ll be fine.  I’ll end it with my favorite new Vine.

Like who didn’t do this in high school when you had off-campus lunch?? Byeeeee!

ByeAshy