Thursday, July 21, 2011

Music Snob: Musical Peter Pans

I'm part of the 90s generation of music - Mary, Usher, Jay, R. Kelly, etc - that has always been excited because our faves have withstood the hands of musical time, much like our parents' favorite artists who are still going strong. But the 90s artists have lost their minds. Our generation's legends have gone way left and decided not to grow up with their fans - their paying customers. They are insisting upon recording and singing for people who aren't paying to hear them: teenagers. Teens, as much as they might like a song in the moment, aren't going to see our 90s "kings and queens" who have managed to ease into 2011. So sadly, they are possibly ruining their own musical legacies. I have a problem with this - a big one. It is beyond me why they won't realize that no matter how hard they try to remain "young," they just cannot play to people under 23 and satisfy those over that age. Those that grew up with them and "remember when."

This entire post stems from three of the four I mentioned in the first paragraph - Mary, Usher and Jay - and will therefore address my issues with them one at a time. I leave R. Kelly off because (1) I'm not a huge fan anymore, (2) he seems to have found the error of his musical ways and (3) despite my not being a fan anymore, his latest release is great. So let's get down to business...

Mary: I am MOST disturbed by my beloved MJB. Nobody can do "feel" a song like her or bust a Mary stomp. But the buck stops there. I'm not in the mood for autotune Mary from the last album nor am I with this Mary who is doing some weird type of singing on her latest song with Lil Wayne and Diddy. I don't want the beatdown Mary back; I'm cool with "happy" Mary but I want the Mary that sings from the heart. It is just my opinion but it seems that she is making a desperate attempt at staying on a V-103 or Hot 97 type of station versus growing up and accepting that YES, Mary, you are a grown woman who needs to stop playing down to these kids who really don't give a damn what you put out. THEY'RE. NOT. BUYING. IT. Let's keep it real: How many of those hip-hop stations would play the music had Wayne not been on it? Yeah, I'll wait and let's leave it at that with her.

Usher: Geez. I don't know what went wrong here. He got married and it seems to have all gone downhill from there. I certainly won't blame it on the marriage because if anything, it might inspire you to write (or select if you're not a writer) better material. Instead, I'll say that Usher [rightfully] shifted his priorities but was never able to get them back when it was time to make music. This latest album - though I like it more than the previous release - shows ME (you don't have to agree) he wanted to hit the trends in music and put the album together and get it out there. He's a megastar so it was no surprise we saw him everywhere. But his vocals have been almost always off, the dancing was lazy and he just showed no gumption about himself in music. It's just...gone.

Jay-Z: Jay is my heart. I've loved him since before his first album and was just hearing him randomly on a couple of tapes. I'm going to make this simple: he doesn't give a damn about putting out good lyrics - this is just something to do. Yet, he continues to mention "I got my swagger back." HELLOOOOO, this means that you know something is wrong!! But he won't stop. The bleeding continues and yet whenever a new song comes out with him on it, people act like it is awesome. STOP.

Am I rambling? NO. This has a point: This has to stop. The legends are bringing themselves down and are making us all screw our faces up. The ones I mentioned aren't the only ones but these are most important for me to discuss now. These boys and girls must grow up. You can't put out kid music forever.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Broke and Opinionated

Every Saturday - seriously, EVERY Saturday - a group of men are outside of my window waking me up with their early morning banter. Now, I'm not sure if it is the same group but they tend to talk about the same things: women, sex, money and the general shit talking of the passers-by. Here's the thing: they live in a shelter. They're outside talking because they are REQUIRED to leave the premises for most of the day so that it can be cleaned and inspected. You should hear them (an excerpt from two weekends ago): "Yeah, I called that [bleep] and she wanted to go out and shit. I wasn't with it...she was mad. Fuck it. Called the next [bleep]." Last weekend, I heard them talking real slick about some people; I looked out the window and they were talking about people who live in my building. SERIOUSLY?! You're talking about people who pay rent and likely have some sort of job while you're in the shelter (and some I've seen just as long as I've been in my apartment so they're not on some "Pursuit of Happiness" type of thing).

As I was telling my co-workers about them, I wondered if I were being stuck up or something. Like, people who live in a shelter should be free to have their opinions on men/women, money and other people, right? I guess they should. But in my mind, NO THEY AREN'T. Stop talking about other people and go get your life right! While you're outside the shelter waiting for them to re-open, you can use the library for free to find out where the free Saturday programs are to help you get your world together. NO, you cannot talk about the woman who won't give you any because...WAIT. What employed woman with even one-tenth of common sense is even giving you the time of day? Back to the point. How are you talking about a woman not giving you any when you spend your days outside the shelter just waiting to go back in?

Is this some type of "manly" thing? Something in the "Gender Rules" that men who don't even have their own pot to piss in still have the ability to talk down about others and it be accepted? If it were a woman, I believe that other people in my building and folks walking down the street would actually SAY something to them along the lines of, "You ought to be ashamed of yourself being a woman out here doing nothing. Get a job." I truly believe that even in the midst of being at your lowest level of poor, gender laws and rules still apply.

I don't know if I'm being bougie about this but I stand my ground. I also think that there's a bigger issue here. I wonder if I did a real study and had "fake homeless women" out there talking about those same topics would people listen. Maybe I should contact John Quinones from "What Would You Do?"

Just some thoughts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Silent Friend

Friendships can be difficult. You have to know how to "handle" certain people. If you're a true friend, you know that honesty is most important - but you have to know how to give it to each person. Some can take that "blunt talk" while others, try as they may, can't take it and need to be told the truth but in a more "soft" way. When asked about situations, friends normally give the REAL about what they think or they take more of a psychiatrist's approach and asks questions which all but spills out how they really feel. Either way, it's a point that's generally understood.

Then there's the gift of...silence. When you tell someone about something you're going through or something you're about to do and they say NOTHING, it tells you everything. Sure, you can say, "Hey what do you think about that" or, "Why are you so quiet," but you know the answer. They completely disapprove and though as we get older we care less and less about what people think of us and our actions, we want our friends' opinions (at least the good friends who've always been loyal and honest) about said situation.

I've been on both sides of the coin. On the heads side: A friend has been going through something for at least 9 years and after the first two to three years of listening and voicing my displeasure (oh I can be real "stank"), I decided that enough was enough. I told her and our other friends who would listen that I no longer wanted to hear about it because I thought it to be stupid and ridiculous. For the record, the other friends did too but they think/thought that as a friend, they should listen. When my friend would bring up the topic, I'd blank stare and she'd say, "Ok ok, I know you don't want to hear it." Lately, she's been slipping it in to our conversations but my silence on the other end of the phone makes her totally uncomfortable and she will always say, "Ok...moving on."

On the tails: My friend didn't like a way I was handling something. She thought I was giving more than I was getting out of a situation. I always saw her point but [somewhat] disagreed so I continued to tell her and she'd give her opinion. One day, I told her something (don't remember what it was)and she said, "Oh ok." At that moment, I knew she was not checking for it anymore and preferred that I give it a least for a little while. I wasn't upset or even hurt; I just came to the conclusion that she thought, "What the hell else can I say to this grown woman? She's going to do what she wants." Indeed.

The Point of It All? The silence is not [necessarily] meant for you to think your friend no longer cares about the things going on in your world. Perhaps, they want the best for you and know that nothing they say can help you. So by saying nothing, you get an idea of their opinion without having to literally hear it again (thought we know that silence speaks loud too). You have to come to your own realizations and if you don't, you have to be able to sit well with that too. On your Own.

Just some thoughts.