Friday, October 30, 2009
One thing I've learned for sure is how to have thicker skin because people really do say the darnedest things sometimes. It can be hard to gauge when people are coming from a place of ignorance, genuine curiosity, or if they're just trying to be a smart aleck, but I'm learning how to not get too defensive regardless of what's said. It’s hard though. By far the most difficult has been not having my loved ones' 100% support.
Before I started locking my hair and wore a shrunken afro 99.5% of the time, my boyfriend flip-flopped back and forth between curiosity and trying to be funny about what he thought of my nappiness—and with the latter, the conversation usually ended badly. For instance, whenever we were in a store that sold boxed relaxers, he would point out the model on the box and say something like 'Why don't you wear your hair like that?' Seems harmless enough but maybe a month after cutting all my relaxed hair off I'd decided I didn't want chemicals in my hair any longer, which I'd made clear to my beau, so his references to permed hairstyles made me feel as my choice meant I was now less attractive to him. I would rather he come right out and say that he didn't like it. Other times I'd be in the bathroom doing whatever to my hair and he'd pop in to be nosy. Most times he wouldn't say anything, but he'd look at my head in such a way that nothing even needed to be said, it was written all over his face. I never felt he was trying to purposefully hurt my feelings but I came to understand that not just the fact of my being natural but really the mentality behind embracing natural beauty was so foreign to him that he didn't even realize when he was out of line. None of the women he’d ever known or dated before me were natural, so I had a huge hurdle to clear. It was hard because I wanted him to still accept me for me and not my hair, yet it was hard for him to understand that my being natural wasn't just a phase but it was a lifestyle change. Now that I’m locking he’s more receptive, probably because it means I’m going to let my hair grow long rather than keep it really short. I could get defensive about that too, but I don’t have the energy. Besides he’ll love me anyway!
Another of my biggest 'critics' is my mother. My mom always comes from a place of love, but because she says whatever comes to her mind, there have been times when her approach was more harsh or sarcastic than I was expecting. You think I'd have learned after 24 years of her being my mother not to take it personal, but even still she knows how to 'take it there'. She probably liked my fro the least of all my loved ones hence I figured she'd have quite a mouthful to say about my baby locs; however, she shocked me when I recently went home to visit. The only side-eye worthy comment she made was "Wow, they're so neat and clean!" Now one of the most common (and quite ridiculous) myths that exist about locs is that intentionally dirty hair encourages locking, so I assume this is why my mother was caught by surprise.
But this journey is for me—not my boyfriend, my mother, my supervisor or anyone else—me!
So to those who are considering locs or even just wearing their hair natural, remember that it is not only a personal transition but it may also require a mental transition for your family and friends. Some receive more support than others, while some need the support more than others, but at the end of the day it’s up to you to decide how your choice affects you should those around you disapprove. If you're that family member, significant other or good friend, please take the time to be supportive and encouraging--even if you don't understand or agree.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I planned to spend my birthday continuing the maddening process of getting an Alabama driver's license and registration. With all the red tape you'd think I was trying to join the United Nations. But when I was finally done the best gift of all awaited me at home.
Was it the love of my friends and family? The comfort of my wife? Or the realization that, at age 30, life is just beginning?
Don't be silly, playa, it was a Playstation 3! It was a surprise gift from the wifey.
I used to be quite the gamer in my day, and I still find time to play occasionally, but I've lagged behind on the newest hardware for years. And one of the first games I wanna try is DJ Hero, which coincidentally was released this week. Jay-Z chimed in on yahoo news:
The 39-year-old rapper was busy Monday promoting the new "DJ Hero" video game.... A special edition of the game — "DJ Hero Renegade Edition" — features a turntable controller as well as a two CDs, one from Jay-Z and another from Eminem.
For all you Guitar Hero fans out there, consider DJ Hero as that game's hip hop cousin. I was never a huge fan of Guitar Hero or Rock Band mostly because they don't reflect my taste in music. Having the chance to play along with some of hip hop's best songs sounds pretty awesome.
Have any of you guys tried out DJ Hero? If so, let us know your thoughts.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Today is Edd's birthday. Show him some love in the comments section.
I'll kick things off:
Each day I thank God for sending me a man who makes me want to be a better woman. And, other than God, you are truly the best thing that ever happened to me and the greatest story of my life.
Okay readers, let our music guru know how much we appreciate him.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sorry about the lack of posts but the past couple of weeks have been pretty busy. In fact, I just arrived back in town after a brief trip back home to Virginia.
The best thing about trips home is all the new music I encounter. Birmingham DJs must own just one CD each (which include the nauseating "LOL Smiley Face...") because it's one of the most repetitive radio stations I've ever heard. Honestly, Louisville radio was probably worse.
Hampton Roads, Va., has always seemed to present fresh songs much faster than other markets. Check out these new tracks I heard last weekend.
Well, they're new to me, anyway.
Chris Brown featuring Swizz Beatz and Lil Wayne, I Can Transform Ya
- We knew Charlie Brown wouldn't stay away forever. I think the beat is pretty cool but there is NO melody whatsoever, which kinda defeats the purpose of singing. Chris would be better off harmonizing in the automotive garage of Pep Boys. Give the beat to a rapper like Twista because it's doing no favors to R&B.
Amerie featuring Trey Songz, Pretty Brown Eyes
- No, this isn't a remake of the Mint Condition track - consider it more of a homage. Now, I'm a big supporter of A but even I'll admit that she often oversteps her bounds when it comes to maintaining her range.
That's a nice way of saying that she often wails WAY off key.
This song is a perfect example of that. Trey Songz reins her in and stellar production hold things together. But Amerie was pushing it with this one...
Thumbs up (barely)
Alicia Keys, Doesn't Mean Anything
- Alicia was long overdue for new material. This is her first single from her new album, set to drop in December. It's classic Alicia - beautiful in its simplicity. It doesn't grab the listener like "You Don't Know My Name" but this laid-back, gentle track is exactly what radio needs right now.
- I thought this was T.I. at first. Ugly Southern rappers bragging about all the women they have (yeah, right) and all the money they spend (uh huh). You've heard this song a thousand times already.
Thumbs way down
Melanie Fiona, It Kills Me
- If my girl Deborah Cox debuted in 2009, she'd be Melanie Fiona. Like Deborah, Melanie is Canadian and boasts some impressive vocals. I'm a sucker for passionate performances and this track is just loaded with emotion. Guess I'll have to check out her album, The Bridge.
Thumbs way up
What do you think of these songs? Are there any new tracks that I've missed?
Friday, October 23, 2009
From the website:
Health care isn’t fair. Women pay more and get less coverage than they need. Yet women have been left out of the debate on health care reform. It’s time to make our voices heard.
Women are regularly denied coverage for "pre-existing conditions" including pregnancy, a previous C-Section or past domestic abuse. Insurance companies charge women as much as 48 percent more for individual health care coverage than men. And it is expensive, difficult and in some states impossible for women to find coverage for maternity care when purchasing their own health insurance plan.
Click here if you'd like to learn more and for information on how you can write to Congress and tell your leaders to pass health reform that works for women.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Here are two things we missed:
Part one of CNN's Latino in America premiered last night. Part two is on tonight 9 p.m. EST. By 2050, the U.S. Latino population is expected to nearly triple. In this special report Soledad O'Brien explores how Latinos are reshaping our communities and culture and forcing a nation of immigrants to rediscover what it means to be an American. Click here for more info and to join the online conversation about the show.
From the Times website:
“Precious,” the harrowing story of a 350-pound illiterate teenage girl who is pregnant for the second time by her father and horribly abused by her mother, is shot in an almost-documentary style interspersed with fantasy sequences. (It opens Nov. 6.) Like most independent films, it is character-driven, and at its heart is a spirit of understanding. When Precious’s plight lands her in a special school, she blossoms: the audience’s initial rejection of Precious, even repulsion at the sight of her, slowly gives way to a kind of identification.
Edd will have update you all on urban music front soon.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Q: I use drugstore eyeshadow and it never lasts all day. I'm too busy to reapply during work, but I can't afford expensive department store eyeshadow. Do you know of any inexpensive long-wearing eye shadows?
A: You can purchase a great long wearing shadow at Walgreens by Physicians Formula for $7.99. The product is Physicians formula, The Baked Collection, Wet/Dry eye shadow.
Baked eye shadows stay on very well and have rich color due to the lack of moisture in the formula. All moisture is removed in the baking process. Apply wet and you enhance color even more and make the shadow even longer wearing. Simply get the tip of a shadow brush damp with water then dip in shadow and apply to lid. These products have a micro fine consistency and smooth texture that goes on flawlessly and won't flake off, crease, or sink in.
Bare Minerals, which is sold at Sephora, has a loose eye shadow for $11. This shadow has very high pigment and great staying power thanks to finely milled minerals that go on smoothly and stick to skin. However, it can be a bit messy as it is loose pigment.
Paint your lids then paint the town, don't forget to bat your lashes at a few boys along the way.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
For people like me who still live like it's 1995, it was a pretty good time. Although it was relatively uneventful - except for the discovery that Foxy Brown now looks and sounds like Florida Evans - I did notice a big disparity in the performances.
Did anyone else pick up on the difference in performances between the old school and new school acts? Even though the crowd sat on their hands during most of Public Enemy's performance, Chuck D and Flavor Flav brought so much energy to the stage. Contrast that with Rick Ross, who came lumbering on stage in front of an excited crowd for "Hustlin'," but most of them lost interest by the second verse.
The differences were most clear during the Warren G/Trey Songz performance of the classic "Regulate." No, Warren G doesn't have the frantic energy of DMX (who probably had the best performance of the night, by the way) but he at least has a stage presence. Your eyes gravitate toward him. Poor Trey was lost beside the G-Child. Trey seemed more concerned with imitating Nate Dogg's voice than making his mark on stage. I mean, I could have stood beside Warren G and talked in a fake baritone.
There is an art to perfecting a live performance. I hope today's younger artists were taking notes while the masters were at work.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
The students at my school all go on a themed-retreat each year and I happily volunteered to serve as a chaperon for the 10th grade retreat. This was before I found out the 10th grade retreat was a camping trip. But my pride wouldn’t let me back out after discovering I wouldn’t actually have a bed during this retreat.
Because 10th grade is typically the most difficult year for students at my school, the theme for the 10th grade retreat is perseverance. The retreat was designed to push the students out of their comfort zones from sleeping outside to trying a variety of activities such as rock wall climbing. Being a chaperon for this retreat, however, pushed me out of my comfort zone as well, which was just what I needed.
Though I did some teaching at Berkeley, teaching high school has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone. On tough days a part of me wants to return to full-time writing, because that’s what I know best, but the retreat showed me the rewards of perseverance.
Because I decided to tough it out I had the opportunity to spend invaluable time with my students having meaningful conversations around the camp fire. And those kids had me laughing until my belly ached as they sang old school R&B songs to prove to me they knew real music. Can you believe they knew everything from SWV to Earth, Wind and Fire?!
Much to my surprise, sleeping on the ground with nothing but a thin tarp to protect me from the late night and early morning rain was no big deal and when I awoke the next morning I could declare that I had actually gone camping. Later, despite my inability to swim, I bravely hopped into a canoe and a kayak and paddled my way across a beautiful lake.
(Side note: One of the counselors on the trip said she saw a opossum walk by our makeshift tent in the middle of the night. I HATE OPOSSUMS! When I get to heaven, the first question I plan to ask God is why he created those things. Fortunately, I did not see that gigantic rat walk by my head or this would be a very different blog post.)
Overall I had a great time and if I had punked out I would have never had this experience. So no matter how challenging teaching may be, I won’t punk out of this either because I am confident that more great experiences are on the horizon.
Monday, October 12, 2009
My young brother-in-law and I engaged in a pretty heated debated a few days ago and I come to you, the GeorgiaMae faithful, for your opinions.
My bro-in-law believes that the greatest rendition of our national anthem was performed by Beyonce at the 2004 Super Bowl. And while I'll agree that Beyonce did an excellent job, I don't think it compares to Whitney Houston's version 1991 of the Star-Spangled Banner.
In my view, Whitney's version is a much cleaner performance - Beyonce's is riddled with her annoying riffs. Of course, he doesn't see that at all.
I wonder if there is generation gap is playing a part in our decisions. My bro-in-law sees Beyonce as the greatest vocalist of ALL TIME. I think you can make a case for her being the best of this generation, but I don't think she can touch Whitney at her peak. In his defense, most people under 20 only know Whitney as Bobby Brown's drug-addled scarecrow, not a world-class vocalist.
But then again, as he gleefully points out, I only like "old man music" so maybe I'm not giving Bey enough credit.
I'd like to hear what you think.
Here's Beyonce's version. And here is Whitney's.
Which version is the best? Or do you prefer another artists' rendition?
Friday, October 9, 2009
Y'all know me - the pessimism runs thick and heavy through my veins.
While I'll admit that he's talented, not only is it way too early to rank Drake (he hasn't even put out a real album), who can say if he'll even be around in two years?
Remember Jade? For a brief time in 1992, these girls were the future of R&B. Three years later their future was at A&W hot dogs. But let's relive the good old days.
I'm sure we all recall Kid n' Play's 1992 movie "Class Act." Yes, it's pretty terrible by 2009 standards - and it's no prize by '92 standards - but this middle-schooler thought it was hilarious. The film was Jade's big break. "I Wanna Love You," their contribution to the soundtrack, paved the way for their debut album.
The ladies of Jade - Joi, Di and Tonya - enjoyed lots of success later that year with Jade To The Max, thanks to the huge hit "Don't Walk Away." Go ahead and click the link, you know you want to.
If you were not a fan of R&B in 1992, there is no way I can describe that song's popularity. Picture today's Snuggie and iPhone crazes, then roll them into a giant ball of braids and hot pants.
That single alone sold 1.5 million copies! And with follow-ups like "Looking for Mr. Do Right," it seemed like Jade was about to conquer the world.
Except they didn't.
In 1993 Jade apparently released a live album but I don't remember a thing about it. It was certified gold so I guess someone purchased it.
The girls dropped Mind, Body and Song, their second studio album, in '94. The ultra-annoying "5-4-3-2 Yo Time Is Up" and lackluster "Every Day of the Week" failed to set the world on fire. By the end of the year Jade vanished as quickly as they arrived. Sadly, after "Don't Walk Away," seems like all of their fans DID walk away.
Besides the usual rumors (infighting, they were broke, etc.) I never heard a definitive reason for their breakup.
According to Wikipedia, Joi released a gospel CD a few years ago and Di is singing backup for Rod Stewart. But Wikipedia once said Keith Sweat was planning to release a "new" single called "A Right And a Wrong Way" (which is more than 20 years old) so take that news with the finest grain of salt.
Should they come back?: Nope. 1992 was a LONG time ago. If it's true that the ladies are finding work in today's economic climate they should count their blessings.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Rock's documentary Good Hair, which hits select theaters tomorrow and opens nationwide Oct. 23, has received plenty of buzz (and a lawsuit).
Here's an excerpt from a review of the movie by the Hartford Courant:
What's so funny about so many black women wanting "white" hair? Plenty, it turns out, in Chris Rock's surprisingly insightful documentary, "Good Hair."
The well-known history of black people straightening their natural curls is more tragedy than comedy, rooted in the bygone belief that all things European were better than anything African. But Rock sheds new light on this old story through a poignant mix of interviews, investigation and his trademark satire.
More than a dozen famous and beautiful black women sit for Rock's camera, ranging from the sage Maya Angelou to video vixen Melyssa Ford to an interior designer with a skin disease that has left her proudly bald. Their testimony illuminates today's reality: Black women who straighten their hair are not ashamed of their heritage — like women the world over, they just want to work with what they have.
We talk about natural hair a lot on this blog, but I want to hear from all ladies. If you proudly straighten your hair we want to know your story too.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Well, it's about time! From CBS.com:
New York Rapper Shyne was released from prison today after serving more than eight years for his role in a 1999 New York night club shooting involving mentor Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and actress Jennifer Lopez.
For those who have forgotten Shyne, Puffy, J-Lo and friends were hanging out (remember when J.Lo and Puffy were dating!?) when Diddy and Shyne started arguing with patrons. Shots rang out, Shyne was caught with his gun and he was sentenced to 10 years, halting a very promising career. Meanwhile, Diddy has spent the last 10 years dancing around and making horrible reality TV shows.
Services for Sean Combs will be held Friday at noon.
I certainly hope Shyne has learned his lesson. I think he still has a lot to offer - I'm sure he can do better than these "LOL Smiley Face" songs his peers are releasing.
Last week, however, the Washington Post reported that recently released census statistics are screaming, "Don't believe the hype!"
The census snapshot shows that stay-at-home mothers tend to be younger and less educated, with lower family incomes. (The stats also showed they are more likely than other mothers to be Hispanic or foreign-born.)
The report did not show a proportionately high number of married African American mothers staying at home, but Kuae Mattox, a national board member of Mocha Moms, a nonprofit support organization for stay-at-home mothers of color, said she sees "a quiet revolution" of highly educated, professional African American women choosing to opt out despite long family histories of women working.
She was quoted in the Washington Post article saying, "I think this is a segment of the population that has been overlooked in the whole opt-out revolution in this country."
What do you think?
Growing up I always believed there was no way I could ever be a stay-at-home mom, but over time my thoughts on the matter have greatly changed. I see how stressful it is to just take care of myself and have a career. Though women have done so successfully for ages, I can't imagine how I would balance a career and a personal life with motherhood.
Working moms, please tell me how you do it?
Monday, October 5, 2009
The wife and I just marked two months here in Birmingham, Ala. And while I'll admit I have the sense of direction of a blind squirrel, I think I'm doing a pretty good job of getting around town.
Need some stamps from the post office, I gotcha. Wanna run by Wal-Mart? It's all good. How about a quick trip to Kinko's to check your e-mail? Yep, I can get you there. In fact I've spent WAY too much money in that place. At $2.50 per fax, I be makin' it rain up in Kinkos.
I hope my next trip will be to the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex December 12. Why, you ask? Because your our favorite demented rapper DMX will be making his mixed martial arts debut!
Don't believe me? Courtesy xxlmag.com:
Dubbed the Alabama Pride MMA, the match is set to take place on December 12 at the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex. X will be squaring off against an “up-and-coming actor” named Eric Martinez, according to tmz.com, in the celebrity fight portion of the night.
X’s publicist told XXLMag.com that the MC is rejuvenated and excited about taking part in the fight. “It’s all in good fun,” she said. “Over the last six months he has been living a very healthy lifestyle, a lifestyle that consists of hitting the gym every single day and eating healthy. He looks great and he feels incredible. This is the perfect opportunity for him to show his fans it’s the return of X.”This is all part of DMX's comeback, which started with his appearance on Jadakiss' "Who's Real" remix. I'm down with X resuming his rap career. I'm not with X getting his head smashed in. I'm sure that DMX can hold his own with any old wino on the corner but MMA fighters are a different breed.
Then again, DMX probably has that crazed crackhead strength. Why do you think it takes like 10 cops to hold down a 90 pound heroin addict? And when you add that to the fact that DMX considers himself some half-man/half-dog werewolf thing, he might be able to pull this thing off. I'll be rooting for him.
I just hope he doesn't wind up looking like this at the end of the fight...
Friday, October 2, 2009
Sorry if I'm a little behind on this one. A friend just alerted me to the horrible news. Courtesy of wsbtv.com in Atlanta:
Atlanta police have made an arrest in the death of Ashley “A.J.” Jewell, the former fiancé of Atlanta "housewife" Kandi Burruss.
Atlanta police told Channel 2 Action News that Jewell received a severe head injury during a fight at The Body Tap Club in the 1200 block of Marietta Boulevard in Atlanta.
"It appears he was involved in an altercation in the parking lot and he received a severe blow to the head," said Atlanta Police Lt. Keith Meadows. Meadows said Jewell was taken to Piedmont Hospital where he later died.
No matter what you think of Kandi, or her Real Housewives of Atlanta cast mates, your heart has to go out to her and her family.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Ghostdini: The Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City (released September 29, 2009)
What was Ghost smoking when he came up with that title?
Anyway, a few months back I noted Ghostface's desire to create an R&B album, which initially freaked me out. These days R&B = auto-tune and y'all know by now that when I hear auto-tune I automatically tune out.
Thankfully, The Wizard of Poetry is more about soul than synthesizers. By now it's no secret that Ghostface is a fan of soul. It's not uncommon for him to spit over the classics (remember "Holla," where he rambled over the Delfonics' "La La (Means I Love You)?") but this is the first time that he's committed himself to an entire album of R&B.
And you know what? For the most part, it works.
Ghost gets all mushy on "Paragraphs of Love," getting butterflies when he meets a young lady who, unfortunately, is already in a relationship. "Stay" will probably be most familiar to Wu-Tang fans, as the chopped up sample brings back memories of the early 90s. "Forever" sees Ghost dropping sharp, yet sensitive lyrics - telling his woman that he's not bothered by her "stretch-mark fat" and letting us know "she carries my left rib/therefore we pray together."
Awww, ladies love a God-fearing man.
Let's not forget, this is the Ghostface Killah. He doesn't stay soft for long. "Stapleton Sex" is one of the most graphic songs I've EVER heard. I'm talking "Lil Kim in 1996" graphic. Keep out of reach of children. But my favorite is unquestionably "Guest House," where Ghost goes on a frantic hunt for his missing lady. I won't spoil the tale for you but it features some of the best storytelling I've heard all year.
There are a few speed bumps though. Ron Browz, the man to blame for the horrible "Pop Champagne" and "Arab Money" songs, goes 3 for 3 and absolutely ruins "She's a Killah." "I'll Be That" isn't bad, but it's kinda creepy to hear Ghostface kickin' game to Adrienne Bailon of 3LW/The Cheetah Girls. And I have no idea why he felt compelled to include the remix to "Back Like That" which was already 6 months old when it appeared on his 2006 album More Fish. The song's not that great anyway.
Wu-Tang Clan fans will probably balk at this album but they should really give it a chance. It's nowhere near the level of Wu teammate Raekwon's latest release but there's still enough love to go around.
Best tracks: "Guest House," "Forever," "Paragraphs of Love"
4 stars out of 5