“Yeezy Taught Me”: Some Thoughts on My Complicated Relationship with Hip Hop

January 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Liz,

We both know that I not so secretly LOVE Kanye West. I’ve been promoting his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, like I’m singing on one of the tracks. Lol. I’m sure my friends are sick of hearing me talk about it and most of them probably purchased it just to shut me up (it didn’t work). I love the album. I have so much respect for Kanye. BUT, in spite of all of that, I have a confession to make…

Sometimes, I don’t understand how I’m supposed to feel about his lyrics, you know, being a woman and all. In other words, even though I may try, I can’t ignore the blatant misogyny spread through his verses, and it’s very annoying because I truly appreciate his artistry.

Up until this point I’ve avoided commenting extensively or writing a review on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy precisely for this reason. The first time I listened to the album the whole way through, I couldn’t help but cringe at how sexism was just inherent, entrenched in the lyricism—it was just always there, mocking me. When I got to the end of the album, I was so impressed and surprised with the honest vulnerability and raw emotion exhibited in “Blame Game” just to be completely disappointed by Chris Rock’s offensive two and a half minute postlude, where he repeatedly asks a woman (post sexual encounter) in just about every offensive way possible where she’s learned her “techniques,” to which she responds (over and over and over again…it’s painful) “Yeezy taught me.” * BIG FREAKING SIGH * Seriously though, I was so disappointed.

After listening to the entire album for the first time, I was very conflicted. The arrangements and production were amazing, but I couldn’t ignore that so many of the lyrics were damaging to my person, as a woman, as a sexual being, as a fan. The blatant disrespect for women in so much of the album is at times overbearing. It’s just not affirming at all, but I was still compelled to keep it in rotation on my Ipod, because it just sounds so damn nice. And let’s be real, it’s not just Kanye, this is a symptom of Hip Hop pretty generally.

To be honest, I’ve never been a big fan of Hip Hop. Part of the reason for that is because I didn’t grow up listening to it, but a bigger part of it is because I often feel as if I can’t relate to it. The genre is still overwhelmingly male dominated and with men always telling the story mine is usually pushed to the margins i.e. in male fantasies and imaginations, which too often translates to sexism, homophobia, and violence. And it’s even more annoying when the so-called “conscious” artists do it too. Smdh. I understand that it’s not all bad, but rather than sifting through it, I often just find myself ignoring it all together, and instead following only a few select artists. Kanye (lucky man) has made my list of “a few select artists,” and so I fast forward through the last three minutes of “Blame Game,” and roll my eyes at the way the words “bitch” and “pussy” are thrown around as colloquial parts of speech. I’ve learned how to ignore the sexism, but at the same I recognize that I’ve also learned how to internalize it. “Yeezy taught me.” And it’s a problem. SIGH.

Kanye’s new video for “Monster” inspired me to finally say something and put my complicated love/hate relationship with My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy on blast. The video was just too much to handle. The imagery is highly reminiscent of domestic violence and other forms of violence against women and there are several particularly jarring scenes—Kanye in the bed with two dead bodies, dead women hanging from the ceiling, the entire scene during Jay-Z’s verse, Kanye holding a severed head….Gaaah. It’s just too damn much. You have been warned (may be slightly NSFW).

 

 I know, right?! It’s ridic. So to echo (kinda) this post on postbourgie.com, what the hell is a conflicted feminist (sorta) and music lover to do (except let out another big freaking *SIGH*)?

Liz’s Top Ten Deep Moments of 2010

December 31st, 2010 § 4 comments § permalink

1. In Chi-Town: Daley announces he will not run again as Mayor.
Ok, this may not be big for non-Chicagoans, but this is deep. Richard M. Daley has been mayor since 1989. That’s a long freakin time. His daddy was mayor for 21 years, so there’s a bit of a dynasty here. So it’s deep because of that. But it’s also deep cuz it is just so damn exciting – the possibilities! If we could elect a real reformer, one that will pay attention to neighborhoods, it would be such a breath of fresh air. I’m watching closely.

Honorable Mention: Chicago loses bid for Olympics in first round (and I laugh).



2. In the Federal Government: Health Care Reform Passes

Whether you agreed or disagreed with what went into Health Care Reform, this was major deepness. The largest legislation since the New Deal. I was so tired of hearing opponents tell me, “The United States has the best system in the world…So and so (foreign celebrity/political leader) came here for surgery.” Great…so foreign so and so can come here, but 1 in 7 Americans are uninsured and therefore without access to basic healthcare. Preventive medicine people!

Wow, I can still get riled up about it.

Honorable Mention: Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Repealed.

3. In State Government: Arizona and SB 1070

What does an illegal immigrant look like, Governor Brewer? Enough said.













4. Not in the News: Georgia Prisoners Peacefully Protest

The largest prison protest in history and I had to hear about it from independent blogs. How does this not make major news? At least four Georgia prisons in lockdown? Prisoners (some belonging to groups that would normally fight each other) peacefully protesting for their rights? News fail. So deep. So frustrating.



5. In Catastrophes: Haiti is hit by earthquake.
It’s sad to think how fixed our eyes were on this and how quickly we have moved on. Haiti continues to struggle – with infrastructure, safety, food, elections. Let’s return our gaze.

Honorable Mention: Oil Spill in the Gulf. 

6. In Religion: Pope Benedict XVI condones the use of condoms among male sex workers in order to prevent the spread of HIV.

This was an interesting story because news outlets treated it as a reversal of Catholic teaching, but it seems debatable that it was –  the Pope provided a very nuanced answer. His answers were not shocking to me, as I can guess many Catholic teachers/care providers have practiced some version of it.  It does not surprise me that Catholic teaching would err on the side of placing the health and care of male sex workers first, but it shows that the Catholic Church has difficulty messaging – everybody thinks they know what the Catholic Church believes and I have a feeling most are wrong. Also the Catholic Church is HUGE. There are gonna be multiple opinions (regardless of the Pope). Just sayin’. Interesting questions arise though. Read two versions of the story here and here.



7. In Food: We’re running out of chocolate. 

Yeah, you heard me. That’s what they’re saying. Chocolate is gonna become like caviar. The supply cannot meet the demand. This story freaked me out when I read it. What am I gonna do without Chocolate Chip cookies???? Start hoarding people! You have been warned.

Honorable Mention: KFC Double Down

8. In the Tea Party: Glenn Beck Rallies…for what again?

Take back America for who Glenn? “We will reclaim the civil rights movement.” Riiiighhht….I hope 2011 is the year where Glenn Beck shuts up. Wishful thinking? Sigh.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
I Have a Scheme
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

9. In Entertainment: Taylor Swift’s Performance at VMAs

Ok, so there were actually a lot of deep moments in entertainment. And there are probably some that are deeper than this one….but I had to put this. Hot mess. Taylor sounds awful. The song is so patronizing. The setting…so messed up. She’s like this beautiful young country white girl in the 50s who has condescended to the angry black man. “I forgive you Kanye!” Bleh.

Team Kanye, anybody? Although, thank God that saga has been put to rest.

2010 MTV Video Music Awards

10. On the web: The launching of our blog, duh! 

Or what was originally, Salt N Peppa, remember that? (LOL) We started this in February and if I do say so myself, it’s (and we are) pretty awesome. May the deepness continue on into 2011!

Honorable Mention: Microaggressions. Such a good idea. I wish I’d thought of it.

Happy New Year Everyone!

Faaaaavorite Things!

December 24th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

“It’s the most WONDERFUL time of the yeaaaaaaar!” Yes, the holidays are just around the corner–food, family, friends, gifts, time off of work, empty wallets until the New Year…Ah, I just can’t wait.

As you last minute shoppers scurry around frantically in attempts to complete your Holiday Shopping lists, we thought that we would share with you just a few of our favorite things in music, movies, television, literature, and health/body, in good old Oprah fashion (well, maybe not quite that exciting).  These gifts are sure to get a warm reception and a genuine smile. There’s no need for a gift receipt, guaranteed.

MUSIC


Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

This album has been on a heavy rotation in my ipod since I purchased it almost a month ago. It is by far one of my favorite albums to listen to right now. Even if you don’t like Kanye, you have to respect his music, and any music lover will definitely appreciate the undeniable talent exhibited through My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

 

Janelle Monae The Arch Android
I’ve played this album more than any other this year and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. I give it two thumbs up.

 

Glee Season 1 and 2 Soundtracks

DOPE. Enough said.

MOVIES

Toy Story 3
This is easily one of the best movies of the year. It was a great ending to the Toy Story franchise, and I can’t remember the last time I teared up on a cartoon (oh, wait…I definitely had some sniffles during “UP”…so, just kidding…). Pixar continues to make quality films and somehow you don’t feel embarrassed when you pay $12 to go see a kids movie, probably because everyone else in the theater is also over 18…


Inception

This is another one of my contenders for best film of the year. It was actually one of the best films (excluding animated) that I had seen in a very very long time. The story was very creative and well written and the the film is visually stunning. It’s also a total mind game the entire time. Warning: See with a friend– you will want to discuss–and make sure you have water handy to help ease that headache afterward.

BOOKS

Their Eyes Were Watching God

OK, I must admit, I haven’t read many recent books this year. Instead, I’ve been doing a lot of catching up on old ones that I should’ve read a long time ago (my list is overwhelming). With that said, Their Eyes Were Watching God is a classic. Every time I read it, I fall in love with it all over again. It’s one of my all time favorites and I just think that everyone should have a little Zora in their homes.

Wicked
Very well written. Imaginative. Creative. An interesting take on an iconic American (according to the Smithsonian) story. I was completely enthralled from start to finish. (P.S. Tickets to see the Broadway show would also make an excellent gift)


TELEVISION

Glee Season 1 DVD Set

I mean, if you’ve been following our “Gchatting Glee” Series at all, you know that we are both a little obsessed. Although I can’t quite say the same for Season 2, Season 1 of Glee was amazing. It was the show I didn’t know I was waiting for, that I didn’t know I needed in my life! I actually don’t own this yet…so, uh…yeah.. *hint hint* ;)

 

Dexter Seasons 1-4 DVD Set
I just finished Season 5 of Dexter and it really does get better as time goes on. I think I will be blogging about how layered and complex Dexter is very soon. It’s mind-boggling, geeze. This is another one that will facilitate lots of discussion.
HEALTH/BODY

Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Lavender Vanilla Dream Bath, Lavender Chamomile Sugar Scrub, and Eucalyptus Spearmint Bath Soak

Bath and Body Works’ Aromatherapy collection has gotten me through many a tough week this year.  The combination of products listed above has done wonders to calm my nerves and help me get a restful sleep. I highly recommend.

Beekman’s C.O.P.A. Soaps

After I thought that I finally gotten a handle on what my skin needs and likes after twenty-three years of dealing with it, one day this year I noticed that it was starting to change, without warning. My decision to try C.O.P.A. Soaps was on a whim and I couldn’t be happier. These all natural soaps are great on my skin and they have a wide variety scents and sizes. Again, I highly recommend.

 
So, there you have it–a (short) list of some of my favorite things. Now that I’ve shared them with you, I hope that you can share them with others. Foolproof, trust. ;)

Happy Holidays!!

“When It All Falls Down”: Kanye West and Moving toward Black Mental Health

November 17th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Liz,

After several months of sucessfully staying out of the public eye, Kanye West has made his way back into the critcial gaze of the media through a host of interviews, tv apperances, and of course, his tweets, to promote his newest album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, scheduled to drop on November 22nd. Since Kanye (so brilliantly) decided to open a twitter account a few months ago and let the world share in his randomness, I have been following him very closely and things have gotten to the point where I just have to say something (briefly…lol).

Earlier this month, he held the now infamous interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show to address some of his past “mistakes” including his statements on national television in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, perhaps, most memorable “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” Peep the videos:

Throwback to 2005: 

and The Today Show:

After filming the interview at The Today Show, Kanye took to venting on his twitter page stating:

“I don’t mess with Matt Lauer or The Today Show and that is a very nice way for me to put it”

“He tried to force my answers. It was very brutal and I came there with only positive intent”

“I feel very alone very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very very misused”

“I can’t be everybody’s hero and villain savior and sinner Christ and Anti-Christ!”

“Everything sounds like noise!!!!!!!!! EVERYTHING SOUNDS LIKE NOISE!!!!! I don’t trust anyone!!!!!!”

*Sigh* Oh, Kanye.

Kanye has never really been one of my favorite artists. Since the release of his first album, College Dropout, I’ve had a sort of love/hate with him. The first time I sat and listened to College Dropout in its entirety, I was blown away. The dude was undeniably talented, and even though I’m not a huuuge fan of hip hop, each track drew me in. And then, he released “Jesus Walks” as a single and his arrogance in presentation completely turned me off; his lack of humility was just too ironic. From that point on, I had the urge to roll my eyes whenever he opened his mouth, and kind of hated that I still had (and succumbed to) the urge to buy his albums. Proving, at least for me, that even though his ego and strong personality may rub you the wrong way, one cannot ignore his overwhelming talent.

Although I don’t think The Today Show did anything out of the ordinary in their interview with Kanye, I can understand his frustration. The media does manipulate situations and interviews in order to make them more interesting. It’s very rare that one is just given an open platform to say what’s on one’s mind without some sort of prompting, especially if one is a controversial figure addressing a controversial issue. But, I think what this and his other recent interviews and appearances may show is that Kanye’s erratic behavior isn’t just fueled by arrogance or an inability to hold a good interview. Since the passing of his mother, it is especially evident that there is some deep pain that Kanye is holding onto. I sincerely believe that he is trying to take steps toward dealing with it and moving forward, but his level of celebridom seems to be a hindrance. He’s starting to become more and more reminiscent of MJ– brilliant, troubled, recluse. It’s scary.

I truly hope he gets the help he needs and if he hasn’t already, seeks out a professional. The mental health crisis in the Black community is a very real thing. We all need to start dealing with it responsibly by starting with ourselves and encouraging others to seek help when they need it.

Where Am I?

You are currently browsing the Kanye West category at That's So Deep.