It's Black History Month in the year 2016. The entertainment world is heading into the Oscars with a boycott hanging over it with no black actors being nominated in any of the major categories.
We just finished Superbowl weekend and FOX News has declared war on Beyonce for her politically charged pro-black lyrics in her new track, "Foundation" that she dropped the day before the big event.
And in this presidential election year where the top Republican candidates do not seem to be concerned with the Black Lives Matter movement and Bernie and Hillary are bending over backwards to be accommodating, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis have dropped a politically charged track called "White Privilege 2". There's a lot going on in releases these days and I'm gonna try to cover some of them right now.
Let's start with Beyonce's "Foundation" which features gay icon Big Freedia. Imagine that….a pro-black rights protest song featuring a gay icon! From the second that I hear the track I immediately fell in love with it. Mrs. Carter address the illuminati rumors, the chatter about her not doing something with her daughter's hair, her racial background and the reality of being black in America right now. The music video reminds us about Hurricane Katrina and the police shootings happening all around the United States. I guess those comments from Harry Belafonte back in 2012 where he accused Beyonce & Jay Z of turning their backs on their community really stuck in their craw. Shortly after that comment, Jay Z did an Oprah interview where he returned to the Marcy Projects where he grew up. But in her usual fashion, Beyonce has answered her critics in song.
The Superbowl performance and imagery paid homage to the Black Panthers, Michael Jackson's uniform and even a formation of a giant "X" on the field. And to be honest….I'm not even sure why Coldplay was booked for the half-time show. If it had not been for Bruno Mars and Beyonce that would have been a disaster. I actually love Chris Martin and like his voice, but Coldplay does not come to mind when I think of a large arena. No shade, but that's just how I feel.
I guess the formula over at FOX News is to use anything that is not their agenda as a tool to discredit anything that has to do with the Black Lives Matter movement. So, it was no surprise when I saw the reports of their pundits spewing all kinds of hate and disgust from the idea that Beyonce would use her position and celebrity to make a statement about the conditions of African-Americans. And I just read that she's also using the money from her Foundation World Tour to help the people of Flint, Michigan and she's building a housing for the homeless in her state. So…I don't really care that she stole the show from Coldplay at the Superbowl.
Coldplay actually has a new song that features Beyonce called "Hymn For The Weekend". It's a downtempo Pop song. The video is beautiful and sort of takes both the group and Beyonce in new territory as far their sounds. I was hoping for a nice House mix or at least a commercial club mix, but the only one I could find was the Ash Remix. It's nice but nice isn't gonna burn up a dance floor or even make a dent in radio play. I mean…at least Coldplay's track with Rihanna from 2013, "Princess Of China" had remixes by Invisible Men, Kat Krazy and Andre Sobota. It didn't chart well, but at least there were options for the club DJs and VJs.
And speaking of Rihanna….she and Drake just shot the video for her debut single from her highly anticipated release, "Anti" a few blocks away from my home here in Toronto. "Work" is a downtempo Reggae infused track that will definitely do well on the charts. And as far as remixes there are plenty coming down the pike. The standouts for me are the Liam Keegan Remix, the Bvnkz Remix and the Meapetece Remix. All different sounds that range from a House sound to a Twerk track then to the B-More scene. There are some Club mixes but I feel like the vocals are too sped up and they lose the sexiness of the lyrics since they are being rushed. But probably the best remix is by Delirious & Alex K with its Moombahton production.
Another Moombahton release is "Vaiven" by Daddy Yankee. Now…I stop playing his music years ago when I found out that he was a Republican and supported George W. Bush. And normally I just skip over anything that has his name on it, but for some reason I thought "Hey…I should give the guy another chance." So, I listened to his latest release and was just as disappointed with it as I was when I found out his political alliance. I'm not sure why there are all these references to Murder Music, but his chant of "Boom Bye Bye" left me scratching my head. What is up with these folks who think that it's okay to insult another group? If you are not gay, great. But would you as a straight person like to hear a song on the radio or dance floor that verbally bashes your sexual preference? As Wendy Williams would say…."Child, have several seats!"
Someone else who is beginning to get on my nerves is Selena Gomez. Girl, I get it! You wanna show Justin Bieber what he is missing. But do we have to watch? Her latest release, "Hands To Myself" is in the same vein of "Same Old Love". Not far in BPMs and the videos are excuses to show how sexy she is. I have this theory that all female teen artists grow up and suddenly discover their sexuality. It happened to Janet Jackson with "Control". Britney Spears was sexualized from the beginning and that probably set her up for her breakdown. And now Selena seems to be trying to recover from her break up with Justin. He came out the gate strong with "What Do You Mean?" and "Love Yourself" was a direct slap in the face to Miss Gomez. So, I guess the war of words will continue until she gets another boyfriend or they get back together. Thank God the Taylor Swift moment seems to be dying. She either better have her boyfriend Calvin Harris produce her next album or take a break for while since she seems to have found a relationship that has lasted longer than most of her others.
Haven't heard much about Kanye West since his Twitter exchange with Wiz Khalifah that ended with Amber Rose shutting Kanye down with a tweet about him liking fingers in his butt. Before that he had tweeted that his next album, "Waves" (formerly known as "Swish") was his best album ever. But it seems all that people can talk about is #fingersinthebooty after he attacked Wiz, Amber and their child on Twitter. On February 2nd, Kanye retracted his tweet of "best album ever". His first couple of tracks leaked from the album, "Facts" (which takes a jab at Bill Cosby) and "No More Parties In LA" are okay, but I kinda miss the fun party tracks like "Gold Digger" and "Stronger". Come back to the five and dime, Mr. West!
Last but most definitely not least I wanna talk about "White Privilege 2" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. You know….a couple years ago when they won the Grammy for "Same Love" many Hip Hop lovers were really upset that Kendrick Lamar did not get that trophy. But the weird thing was that it took a white rapper to bring Hip Hop around to be socially conscious about Gay Rights. And like socially conscious groups like Public Enemy, N.W.A. and Arrested Development told of the justice unrest in the U.S. but Macklemore was disqualified because he was white. Well, I think he and Ryan Lewis have hit the nail on the head again with "White Privilege 2". I watched them perform on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and was almost moved to tears. Instead of their verses about Iggy Azalea's cultural appropriation they had two members of the Black Lives Matter movement do some spoken word.
For the militant blacks who believe like the Black Panthers that we have to separate ourselves from the white devils, I say we should be reminded of those white allies that have marched and fought right beside us to help us get out civil rights. Gentlemen like Shaun King (who was raised to believe that he was black but wasn't) is an important part of the movement. And in order to talk about our history we have to acknowledge people like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra who used their celebrity to help people of color in the entertainment industry. So, why are some hating on Macklemore? He and Ryan have written an incredibly poignant Hip Hop song that talks about being white and wanted to help but are being shunned.
I often see people complaining about discrimination but they are not being a part of the solution. They wanna sit around and bitch that their people are being treated unfairly but they are not reaching out to other races to have the dialogue that could help bring everyone closer to a solution. And then there are those who refuse to admit that they are racist or that do or say racist things. And like "White Privilege 2" says in its lyrics "You wanna act like - dress like - but will you show up for Black Lives?"
I really appreciate this track and it has become my personal anthem for 2016. To all the Hip Hop artists who want to grumble that this ain't Hip Hop, I want you take a moment and think about how else will we get the message to White America. Hip Hop songs about twerking and big booty hoes are what they are expecting in white suburbia. I mean….Nicki Minaj is being hired for bar mitzvahs. "Paris Is Burning" introduced many to the art of vogue-ing but Madonna's usic video brought it to the world.
Music and entertainment has always played a huge part in educating and changing minds. I hope that the messages of hope and change are not lost in sound bites and Twitter wars. In celebration of BLACK HISTORY MONTH I did a three volume set of mixes. I hope you enjoy them.