Category Archives: Culture

Thoughts On Frank Ocean + Hyper-Masculinity In Hip-Hop Culture

I sat on Twitter early Wednesday morning and watched the tides turn for a young man whose remarkable talent has gifted us with some of the best music we’ve heard in recent history.

Frank Ocean, a 24 year old singer/songwriter from New Orleans, LA is preparing for the release of his debut album on Def Jam Records. He’s already lent his pen to some of the biggest names in the music industry, earning placements with Jay-Z, Kanye West, Beyonce, John Legend and more. In other words, he’s made a huge impact in a few short years.. and with little fanfare. Known for his ability to take the simplest of feelings and translate them beautifully into lyrics, Frank is aligning himself to become one of our generation’s greatest songwriters. But on Wednesday, which also happened to be the day that America celebrates it’s freedom, he made his own declaration… one that drudged up the dark side of hip-hop culture. The one that we so often choose to ignore.

In a letter on his Tumblr page, Frank told his fans a story about how he was rejected by his first love. It was eloquent yet simplistic, making the emotion all the more real. His pain was evident, but so was his strength. The “shocking” part: that love, the object of his affection and quite possibly the inspiration behind so many of his popular songs, was male.

And with that revelation, the flood gates opened. At first, there was an overwhelming outpouring of support… but as the news began to spread…so did the hate. Slurs, expressions of disgust, and complete cancellation of fandom were common place. After about an hour, I had witnessed all that I could handle. I went to sleep wondering what had changed about his music that made people so adverse to him, a man whose work they were clamoring for just a few days earlier. I was baffled.

When I woke up, it all clicked. Unfortunately, the reality was more cumbersome than I cared to admit.

Hyper-masculinity (and subsequently homophobia) in hip-hop have fostered a culture of untruths, where men are expected to be hard, stoic and with unyielding strength. Those of us not fooled by the facade, those of us who live in the real world, know that is the furthest thing from the truth.

Men feel. They love. They hurt… and they cry, just like women do. That is fact, not fiction… whether you choose to accept it or not. The problem begins when people buy into the idea that the expression of emotion is something that is only acceptible for women.

That’s also where the attacks on guys like Drake begin. As an artist, he’s been transparent with his range of emotions, but is often met with criticism from his male peers for “simping” or being too soft. As a result, he’s conformed a bit to the industry standard, more frequently speaking about f***ing b****es and catching bodies. I wonder, which is more damaging?

Frank is not a martyr, he’s just a guy who shared his truth. Frankly, I couldn’t care less about whether he’s bi, homo, or heterosexual. All I know is that when his album drops, I’m expecting the same quality of music that I’m used to from him.

How about you? Is this hyper-masculinity in our culture worth attacking? Can it be fixed? Or are we all just stuck living a societal lie. You tell me.

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Seriously, Get A Life.

Sometimes I wonder exactly how far people will go to share their opinion on the lives of people they don’t know.

I know this thought process may seem strange coming from a girl who blogs about entertainment on a daily basis, but…follow me for a moment. This is as much for me, as it is for you.

Unless you’ve been in solitary confinement for the last 4 days, you know that international pop superstar Beyonce gave birth to her first child with her husband Jay-Z over the weekend. Since, there’s been a firestorm of backlash surrounding the details of Blue Ivy Carter’s birth, right down to a general distaste for her given name. I’ve been quiet about it, mostly because…it’s not my life. That all changed when I woke up this morning, opened my various social networks, and was greeted by this picture:

This just takes it way too far. My first reaction was disbelief. I could not wrap my mind around the concept of someone saying something like this about a newborn. Especially not the people of God**.  My second reaction was re-thinking what I said in this post a little over a year ago. While fame may have it’s upsides, people don’t think about the constant negativity and scrutiny that comes with being in the limelight. Continue reading Seriously, Get A Life.

Illest [Chick] Alive

So, it’s been over a month since I’ve shared with you guys, and I’m sorry. No real excuse, but… I hope you’re still down for the cause and the mission of the blog. I pledge to keep posting consistently, and I hope that you’ll continue to be a part of the conversations that begin here. Thanks for supporting. – Andrea

Now on to the topic at hand…

Last week, there was an onslaught of music to accompany the first day of November. I’m guessing everyone thought that the date looked cool on paper, and would create some type nostalgia among their fanbases. Whatever the case, there was a great deal of music to be presented on my entertainment blog TheUptownLounge, and it’s taken me the better part of a week to digest it all.

The title for most buzzed about 11-1-11 release probably belonged to Wale. His much anticipated sophomore album Ambition has already been labeled “classic” by some. But of course that doesn’t come without controversy. Wale is notoriously outspoken on his Twitter account, but for good reason. He’s got a lot of haters. Some of which are internet gangsters, and the others, are just not impressed with his music. I do not fall into either of those categories, but I do have a few questions for the D.C. native who has taken the national scene by storm.

Wale knows his fan base, and it’s apparent in the way he creates and markets his music. He’s even created a special private Twitter account dedicated to his “Ambitious Girls” (female Wale fans who’ve been inspired by his songs of the same name.) Members of the “Ambitious Girls” club receive special email and video messages from Wale himself (as well as special merchandise and advanced ticket offers for his current tour.) Business wise, that’s a smart move, but beyond that it also says a lot about how Wale is trying to stay true to himself… at least, that’s what I think. Continue reading Illest [Chick] Alive

Equalizing The Standard Of Beauty In Entertainment

For today’s piece, I decided to revisit a subject I covered last year at The Uptown Lounge. The saddest part about it is, a year and a half later, we’re still having the conversation as if it were new…with no resolution.

A few weeks ago, Tyrese came under fire for a couple of statements he made in regards to his casting practices for his music video “I Gotta Chick” which features rapper Tyga. When asked about the lack of African American women  represented in the visual, he said that he had an open audition, and that the girls he chose were “the best.” A lot of black women took offense to that statement…and went on to write scathing articles about the inclusion of black women in music videos.

Initially…I took my normal “I don’t care…let the other girls be objectified for the lame comeback video…” stance but after some serious thought, I realized that people do generally look to the media to determine what is deemed “beautiful.” Whether you’re a fan of women getting oiled up and dancing seductively in front of cameras or not, the truth of the matter is, music videos are a powerful tool. If we’re not including everyone…will those left out be considered less than?

Take a few minutes to check out this short documentary on colorism in the entertainment industry produced by Joy Daily. The video features Melyssa Ford, radio Personality Angela Yee, Rick Ross, and Cassidy among others. Continue reading Equalizing The Standard Of Beauty In Entertainment

So I should give the swirl a whirl…?

Imagine this:

You’ve met someone extremely cool. I mean, like someone stop the world, everything around you disappears and no one’s in the room but you two kinda cool. You begin to converse and there are no hints of “stalker” or “crazy”…laughs are shared, flirting is at an all-time high, Frank Ocean begins to sing in your head and all of the sudden you’re beginning to think about forever. It might be premature, but, whatever. It’s a good feeling. You make plans to meet up again later in the week, exchange information (telephone numbers, BBM pins, twitter handles, facebook names, klout scores) and go your separate ways, dreaming about what may come from this enchanted encounter.

What happens next? Do you:

A) Go with your gut and meet up with the cool person, wind up falling in love and living happily ever after…

OR

B) Consult a panel of strangers (comprised of so-called dating/marriage experts) only for them to tell you that you’ll never get married so you shouldn’t waste your time trying it?

Continue reading So I should give the swirl a whirl…?

For Those Listening To Luxury Rap Music In Coach Class Seats…

This past Sunday evening could have been likened to Christmas Eve for rap music fans. For months, the highly anticipated collaborative album from Jay-Z and Kanye West was largely shrouded in secrecy (possibly becoming the first album not to leak on the internet prior to it’s release date since the invention of Napster) A little before the stroke of midnight, the internet hype was on a million…and if we base it solely on the exorbitance of the lyrical content, Watch The Throne lives up to the expectations. It’s a grandiose tribute to the lifestyle that Shawn Corey Carter and Kanye Omari West have become accustomed to; complete with $1000 bottles of champagne, $30,000 Rolex time pieces, and luxurious overseas excursions on private jets. By all accounts…they’re living a life free of the worries average Americans are facing due to the instability of their finances.

Continue reading For Those Listening To Luxury Rap Music In Coach Class Seats…

Why I Can Not Hate The White Girl Mob

Correct me if I’m wrong, but for a good portion of the last few decades, Rap has been the dominant force in popular music. In other words, something that started in urban black culture has been thrust into the mainstream, making it consumable by all. Does that mean that the art has been diluted, or that it’s just taken on a new form?

If you take a look at Billboard right now, I guarantee that you will find at least 5 rap tinged singles on the Hot 100 chart. And newsflash: everyone rapping, is not black. Over the years, the dominant consumers of rap music have been Caucasian teenage males, and for that reason, a brand new market has opened up for people of all colors to express themselves using a clever rhyme scheme.

Enter The White Girl Mob, a group of rapping white girls from California. Kreayshawn, the group’s leader, recently signed a million dollar record deal, based solely off of the success she saw with her independently produced song “Gucci Gucci” and it’s accompanying visual (which garnered millions of views on YouTube.) Check it out. Continue reading Why I Can Not Hate The White Girl Mob