Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Being a teacher has, believe it or not, shown me several things to love about kids. I admire, for example, their hopefulness and their willingness to show emotion. The thing I love most about kids, though, is how easily they make friends. 

Making friends as a working adult is tough, something you just don't think about when you're counting down the days to college graduation. I remember at my old job there was a woman I wanted to become friends with because we seemed to have much in common and I learned she thought the same thing of me. But we went months without saying more than hello to each other. It was pretty ridiculous. You would have thought we wanted to ask each other to prom. We finally broke the ice in the ladies room, of all places, and made a brunch date. We've been best buds since.

I recently joined a new church and I've found myself faced with this challenge of making new friends once again, a challenge that's made even more daunting by the fact that the church has more than 10,000 members. 

Today features a post titled "How to Make Friends in the Post-Collegiate World." Two tips offered -- be a joiner and reconnect with people from your past -- have certainly been helpful for me as of late. I joined a small group at my church and one of the other young women from the group and I had lunch last week to get to know each other better. Since I live in my hometown again, I'm also making an effort to spend time with pals from high school who have also returned to Birmingham. Nothing beats a girls night out with ladies who knew you when you had acne and perpetual bad hair days and somehow made you feel beautiful anyway. 

How do you make friends as a young professional?
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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Check out this must-read post on about Chris Brown's breakdown at Sunday's 2010 BET Awards. Rose Afriyie writes:

America's conversation about Chris' conviction of felony assault has officially been shifted to the controversy at play in Chris' tears. Adding insult to injury were the stars and fans who have been caught on camera cheering on him, his performance and calling Sunday night's performance a comeback. I can't help but ask: what about us? What about the women who relive their experiences when a man is given a platform to imply that his pain is greater than the brutality he has inflicted on a woman's body? What about Rihanna? Where is the tribute for survivors and what has BET done to change the scourge of violence in Black women's lives?

If you think she's making a mountain out of a mole hill, remember this: Homicide at the hands of a current or former intimate partner is the NUMBER ONE killer of African-American women ages 15 to 34. 

I'm not saying that Chris Brown shouldn't be forgiven, but that Rihanna and other women like her should not be forgotten. 

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There's an older woman at my former church in Louisville, Ky., who has a talent for being inappropriate. She says things like, "I hope you don't end up like your sister," and "You sure have gained a lot of weight." 

One day I ran into her at the grocery store and as we stood surveying overpriced milk I expected she'd just make small talk about the weather or upcoming church events. Instead, out of nowhere, she asks, "So when are you and your husband going to start a family?"

After shaking off the shock, I smiled and simply said, "Oh, not for awhile." She gave a funny look that let me know she was not satisfied with my answer. 

Now that I've moved back to my hometown I get this question constantly, not only from church ladies but also cousins, uncles, aunts and friends. 

I've written in past blog posts and columns that I'm not 100-percent sure I even want to be a mother. When I share this with people some seem shocked. Others, especially those who are parents, seem downright offended, as if I'm somehow implying I think it's foolish to have kids, which is certainly not the case. I greatly admire good parents and perhaps one day I'll join their ranks. But right now, I'm just not sure. 

Reuters reports that a recent study by the Pew Research Center found that perhaps I'm not as strange and folks like the tactless church lady may think I am. According to the report nearly 20 percent of older women do not have children, compared to 10 percent in the 1970s. 

"In recent decades, social pressure to play traditional roles has lessened in a broad variety of ways and there is more leeway for individual choice. This could play a part in lowering pressure for people to get married and bear children," said D'Vera Cohn, a co-author of the report. "Women have more options than in the past to build strong careers and to exercise the choice not to have children."

Cohn said another reason for the increase is that children are seen by some as less important for a successful marriage. A 2007 Pew survey found that 41 percent of adults said that children are very important for a good marriage, down from 65 percent in 1990.

I know that "start a family" is just a phrase people use to mean "get knocked up," but the truth of the matter is my husband and I are a family, with or without a kid. We have memories, traditions and unconditional love for each other. Isn't that what a real family is all about?

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Monday, June 28, 2010

This was a pretty busy weekend, as the wife and I packed up everything we owned and moved to a new apartment. With aching muscles after lugging our lives up flights of stairs, fighting with dim-witted customer service people to get our utilities working, and with countless boxes littering Georgia Mae's new headquarters I still took time out to watch the 2010 BET Awards.

So while y'all watched True Blood, I was subjected to this treat. Y'all owe me.

1. Kanye West returned to open the show with "Power" - but if he was gonna steal R Kelly's album cover for his performance, why didn't he wear the silk pajamas too?

2. Did Jada Pinkett leave her pants at home?

3. Who do you think Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz's child will look like? If she looks like her dad, she could have a movie career ahead of her:

4. Conversation at the new Georgia Mae headquarters:

Me: What was that poetry movie Nia Long was in?

Wifey: Love Jones. You should have your "black" card revoked for not knowing that.

Me: Playa, please. Maybe my "black woman" card...

5. It seemed like every minute artists like Drake and Nicki Minaj were shouting out Lil Wayne for their career success. When did Wayne become Quincy Jones? Nicki, by the way, continues to annoy me, with her Wilma Flintstone wedding dress outfit and horrible lip-syncing.

6. Why didn't that Gabby girl win an award? Her rendition of "Fallen" was WAY better than 90 percent of the work of the night's winners.

7. Where was the girl from Paramore during B.o.B.'s "Airplanes?" I guess even she had better things to do than show up on BET. Keyshia Cole was a vastly inferior replacement.

8. And when will people realize that B.o.B. would be nothing without the people singing his hooks? He's always outshined by his guest stars.

9. Conversation at the new Georgia Mae headquarters:

Me: How much you wanna bet that they drag out the lady who sang "Silly" during Monica's performance?

Wifey: There she is!

Me: Wish I could predict lottery numbers that accurately.

10. Did I hear the crowd booing Jermaine Jackson? Maybe they were just booing his haircut.

11. So the big Michael Jackson tribute surprise was Chris Brown? I thought it would be MJ's kids performing "Scream." Seriously.

12. And speaking of Chris Breezy, now that he cried and blubbered through his performance of "Man In The Mirror," will you buy his CDs again?

13. Good lord, how old is Trey Songz momma? I thought that overactive ghetto girl beside him all night was his date!

14. El Debarge! That saves me from doing a "Whatever Happened to..." on him. And he looks as sleazy as ever - would you buy a used car from that guy?

15. Conversation at the new Georgia Mae headquarters:

Wifey: Hey, there's Tank!

Me: Is he selling programs or cotton candy? Cuz you know he wasn't invited.

16. Why wasn't Jaheim involved in the Teddy Pendergrass tribute? He IS Teddy P reincarnated!

17. Is John Legend running for office? His humanitarian speech sounded like something from Obama's playbook.

18. Did Ciara really think that wearing a red Starburst wrapper for a dress would be a good idea?

19. Prince looked pretty annoyed with Trey Songz' "Purple Rain" tribute, and I can't blame him. Especially since my girl Patti LaBelle tore it up. But wasn't it a shame that Prince couldn't be bothered to perform? At least he got to show of his classy airbrushed T-shirt.

20. Did the show really end with Big Tigger driving Queen Latifah away on a golf cart? From TV personality to valet - oh, how the mighty have fallen. If you consider hosting "Rap City" mighty.
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Aja Graydon and Fatin Dantzler could be called our generation's Ashford & Simpson.  The married duo not only makes beautiful music, but they have also made a beautiful family which includes 6 children.  They have a self-produced online reality series called Sixisit, which follows them as they raise their family and juggle a music career. They have released three albums. Enjoy! 

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Friday, June 25, 2010

One year ago, we lost the greatest entertainer the world will ever see.

We miss you, Michael.

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Do you have a friend who probably means well, but gives horrible advice?

If not, let me introduce you to Chante Moore.

The siren's biggest hit was 1999's "Chante's Got A Man," which rose all the way No. 2 on the R&B charts. The track tells a familiar story - a girl is having trouble with her boyfriend and turns to her friends for help. Chante is there to offer advice and encouragement.

Or is she?

Chante's got a man at home
(I gotta go home and make him some dinner)
It hurts me your man's leaving you all alone (oh what, I'm supposed to lose my man cuz your man acting crazy?)

I can't help it that your baby's bad
Creeping out, cheating on ya, beating on ya
(I'm telling you you gotta leave him alone)
Chante's got a man at home (I gotta go home)
And he's sure good to me

Now, wait just a minute. Ladies, if you go to a friend for advice on men and the first thing your girl says is "make this quick, I gotta go home and make my man some dinner" I think that should be a red flag. The poor woman is telling Chante that the dude is beatin' on her and creepin' on her (why do those to things always happen in pairs) and what's her response?

I gotta go home.

And the worst line of all: Oh what, I'm supposed to lose my man cuz your man acting crazy?

Chante's man can't wait five minutes for her to console her abused friend? Chante must make a mean meatloaf if her man is that impatient. And why does Chante keep making everything about her and her man? The poor abused friend hasn't gotten a word in edgewise.

Oh, but it keeps going downhill from here.

I'm sorry that your man ain't home
I'm sorry that yours left you alone
It's such a shame your man is playing games
And I heard you say that men are all the same
No, no, no
It's not the truth girl
Cause I got proof girl
Oh I got proof girl
I got a man at home

OK, I'm with Chante on this one. She's finally listening to her friend instead of rambling on about how perfect her man is. And Chante's right - I hate when women say that all men are no-good dogs. Those same women are the first ones ready to claw a dude's eyes out when a guy like Slim Thug tries to put all women in the same gold-digging bucket.

But then Chante remembered her man again...

Chante's got a man at home (I gotta go home)
It hurts me your man's leaving you all alone (hurts me to my heart)
I can't help it that your baby's bad
Creeping out, cheating on ya, beating on ya
Chante's got a man at home
And he's sure good to me

And again, Chante's trying to cut the conversation short so she can make it home. I hope she's cooking this man a 5-course dinner. I'd be pretty upset if she's rushing home just to throw a couple of frozen Healthy Choices in the microwave.

Now why'd you let him beat you down (look at you!)
No, no, what's up with that
There's good men around
Don't you know how beautiful you are inside girl
And don't you let nobody go and steal your pride
Oh no no, I know your thinking girl
It's not the truth girl
Cause I got proof girl
Oh I got proof girl
I got a man at home

Once again, I gotta give Chante props. She's giving good advice. But then the next thing she says is...

(I gotta go home - to MY man)

It's all about you and your hungry man, huh, Chante?

I once was where you are
Thought men were all the same
But I never gave up hope
And now my life has changed
Listen to me girl
One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch girl
He always treats me right, we never fight
He sends me flowers and wines and dines me
Took me home to meet his momma
How he loves meeeee
One bad apple don't spoil the whole bunch girl
Give it one more try
Before ya give up on love

I'm sorry, but if I was the abused friend, I would probably have punched Chante in her pierced nose by now. For example, if you were talking to a friend how you were struggling financially, would you want your friend to say "My pockets fat, I'm never broke/my money's longer than a fishing boat/I have 18 cars and platinum bikes/I hung out with the Obamas the other night/man, I'm so riiiiiiiiiich!" That's legal grounds for a beat down.

Why does Chante think that bragging about her perfect man will make her friend feel better? Besides, the man can't be all that perfect if he keeps nagging her about dinner. How hard is it for him to pop the top on some Campbell's soup?

And speaking of Mr Right...

(well, girl, that's my man calling me...hello....)

I guess the dude got tired of waiting and called Chante to demand his food. Seems to me like she's the one who needs relationship advice.

And who is this man who she was sooooo enamored with?

Yeah, all that drama over Dwayne Wayne himself, Kadeem Hardison. Of course, they're now divorced - I guess Whitley Gilbert made better meatloaf. Chante is now married R&B's Kenny Lattimore, who looks like a light-skinned Lt. Daniels from The Wire. I wonder if he ever bugs her about dinner?

The Verdict: Never, EVER ask Chante Moore for relationship advice.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Keith Sweat

Ridin' Solo (Deluxe Edition) (released June 22, 2010)

Finally, it's here - the most requested review in the history of Georgia Mae.

Well, not really. I just received a ton of e-mails and texts from friends and readers who were shocked that I haven't blabbered on endlessly about Keith's 10th studio album. You know it has been a busy week if I had to delay a chance to talk about Keith.

Longtime Georgia Mae readers know that I've endured a lifetime of Keith jokes - his so-called whining and his alleged "long neck" are among the barbs. But even you haters have to admit that after 12 million albums, sold-out live performances, a reality show on Centric that debuts next week, and a career that has spanned two decades, he has to be doing something right.

I think the key to Keith's longevity is how he manages to keep his music fresh and current without totally selling out longtime fans. Yes - he has longtime fans other than me. They might not be male or under 50, but still. Anyway, Ridin' Solo is living proof of Keith's commitment to his fan base. Nah, you won't find production by the guy who does all those melancholy Drake songs, or raps from Nicki Minaj (thankfully) but Keith definitely keeps his ear to the streets.

The album opens up with "Famous," featuring Keith on the dreaded auto-tune. Normally I'd run screaming into the night, but Keith has been using auto-tune for 20 years so he gets a pass. Plus, he doesn't sound uncomfortable over the booming bassline - especially since it brings back memories of the classic "How Deep Is Your Love." "Test Drive" has actually received a bit of radio play in Birmingham, and yeah, while the expiration date on "car=sex" metaphor was about 10 years ago, you won't mind thanks to Joe's show-stealing performance. His falsetto flawless.

Of course, Keith doesn't stray far from his roots. Some might say the title track is another example of "begging," but to me it sounds more like a passionate plea in Keith's search for a soulmate. And "Do Wrong Tonight" is exactly what made the man famous - a slow burner where Keith weighs the consequences of stepping out on his girl.

Sometimes, though, the album is a little too safe - "It's All About You" and "I'm the One You Want" are paint-by-the-numbers generic slow jams. And other times, Keith uncharacteristically stumbles out of his comfort zone - "Hood Sex" would be OK if not for some irritatingly ghetto lyrics. Keith is too old to be talking about a girl who has a "fatty." And the island flavor of "Tropical" is spoiled by the annoying Wyclef Jean impersonator spitting gibberish near the end of the song. The dude should be ashamed.

The album's bonus tracks - "Dancin' With My Girl" and especially "Reverse" - are pretty good. But I was pretty disappointed that "Goin At It," which has been floating around the 'Net for months, was left off the album. It's better than most of the album cuts.

I think newer fans would be surprised at how accessible Ridin' Solo is. No, Keith isn't singing over so-called futuristic tracks from Swizz Beatz, yet he certainly doesn't sound like he's stuck in 1991. While not as stellar as Keith's '08 studio comeback Just Me, Ridin' Solo will fill the void of left by current R&B artists who are more concerned with creating crappy pop songs these days.

So stop hating and check it out. And besides, look at that album cover - who can hate on a man with a suit that awesome?

Best tracks: "Test Drive," "Do Wrong Tonight," "Reverse"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Katie Couric recently interviewed writer Gloria Steinem, who is known as the godmother of the women's movement, and Jehmu Greene of the Women's Media Center about women in the workplace, today's feminism, and shifting dynamics in American families.

Couric kicked off the interview with a discussion of a recent article in The Atlantic titled "The End of Men." The article points out that women now make up the majority of the workforce and are making strides in acquiring management roles. But why does this have to mean the end of men?

Steinem, never one to bite her tongue, called the title stupid and explained how it perpetuates the idea that the women's movement is some sort of contest between women and men, that in life someone has to win. Mainstream society continues to make feminism about domination instead of equality.

This really hit home with me. This year in my classroom I discussed feminism with my students while we were studying Kate Chopin's The Awakening, a 19th century novel that challenged the notion of motherhood being an all-consuming identity and addressed female sexuality in a way that was risqué at the time. When I asked my class if a man be a feminist, one of my male students answered, Of course not. He said if he's winning a race why would he want to help the other person catch up. I was floored by his comment. Furthermore, even some of my female students seemed to view a challenge to patriarchy as women attempting to completely dominate men.  

Despite this, there is evidence that, contrary to all the Is Feminism Dead? articles that crop up about once a year, the women's movement is growing. Steinem even challenged the notion that young women don't identify with the movement, pointing out that 90 percent of young women, as opposed to 70 percent of older women, support the movement. "I think young women should sue for libel because they are so distorted in their real views," she said with a chuckle. 

The feminist movement is so successful, she said, that even conservative politicians are jumping on the bandwagon in hopes of garnering more votes. Just look at Sarah Palin, who has declared herself a feminist. But is she really? 

Steinem says Palin has a right to call herself whatever she wants but added that a true feminist would not want to criminalize abortion. She said that even if a woman would never consider abortion as an option for herself, it is un-feminist for that woman to desire to take away that option for all other women.

The progress women have made is undeniable even with just a look at education. As Couric notes in the discussion, women are 60 percent of all college graduates, 68 percent of those with master's degrees and account for most doctorate degrees. But Steinem reminds us of the sobering truth: despite these statistics women still earn 25 percent less than men and many women feel they must get college degrees because it is nearly impossible for them to break into well-paying careers that do not require a college education such as plumbing.

Greene pointed out the lack of women in management roles in the media field and the objectification of women that results in part because of this. She also touched on the fact that sexism seems so accepted in the media, evident in the treatment of the female political candidates in the last presidential campaign and the lack of outrage over that treatment. "Sexism needs to become as repugnant as racism," she said. 

Furthermore, Steinem observes, we need to stop measuring the success of the movement simply by women doing things that traditionally only men do. We also need to see more men moving into roles that were traditionally considered solely for women, such as the role of nurturing parent. 

Again, this goes back to thwarting the idea that men and women are somehow competing in the game of life. I preach this constantly when talking about relationships, but we're all in this together. Men and women need to start acting like we're on the same team. Or as Steinem stated, we need to stop living in an either/or society and embrace an and culture. We need to stop ranking and start linking. 

Watch the interview in its entirety below and let me know what you think. 

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Posted by in ,  on 9:44 AM 2 comments

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Currently, my favorite curly girls product!

Whether I'm at the mall, the pharmacy or even sitting in the freaking emergency room, people constantly stop me to ask questions about my hair. Most of the questions annoy the crap out of me: Is that your hair? Are you mixed? How did you make your hair grow?

But when it comes to questions about the products I use, I'm always ready to talk shop. I love discussing hair products for curly girls and I realized recently that I don't do that enough here at Georgia Mae. This summer I am going to test a number of different products and styling techniques and share the ups and downs of these little experiments here. 

If you sport natural hair, please join the fun and share your on beauty secrets. 

To kick things off, allow me to share my current regimen. 

I used to swear by Garnier Fructis Anti-Humidity Smoothing Milk and Pantene Pro-V Restoratives Frizz Control Smoothing Balm, but eventually decided to try products more tailored to my hair type. 

So far I've found that what works best is Mixed Chicks Leave-In Conditioner, which I comb through my hair while it's wet. I then apply Hair Milk by Carol's Daughter for extra frizz control. I use Tui Jojoba and Shea Butter Hair Sheen (also by Carol's Daughter) or Tea Tree Oil to treat my dry scalp.

I'm a fan of co-washing (washing your hair with conditioner) but I do shampoo my hair as well a few times a month. I shampoo with Tui Herbal Shampoo by Carol's Daughter followed by a deep conditioning with Tui Hair Smoothie.  

The first product in my line of experiments will be Kinky Curly Curling Custard. Stay tuned for the verdict.

Meanwhile, tell us about the products you use on your natural tresses. 

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Posted by in ,  on 7:00 AM 1 comment

Monday, June 21, 2010

South African Dr. Sonnet Ehlers has designed a female condom that she hopes will help authorities cut down on rape and help authorities catch sexual offenders. Ehlers is distributing the condom — called Rape-aXe — for free during the World Cup, in a country with one of the worst rape rates in the world.

A woman can insert the condom as she would a tampon. The condom has jagged teeth-like hooks inside that attach to a man's penis during intercourse. Once it grabs hold, only a doctor can remove it, and if the man tries to remove the condom it will only clasp even tighter. 

Ehlers said, however, that the device doesn't break the skin and that there's no danger of fluid exposure. 

Critics suggest the condom puts women at risk of further violence from men trapped by the device, which honestly, was my first thought when I read about Rape-aXe. 

Others say the the device is "medieval." To that Ehlers had this to say: "Yes, my device may be a medieval, but it's for a medieval deed that has been around for decades. I believe something's got to be done... and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman."

Visit or for more. 
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Posted by in ,  on 1:48 PM 8 comments


Recovery (released June 21, 2010)

I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Last May, when Eminem returned from a five-year exile and released Relapse, everyone hailed it as a masterpiece. I begged to differ. It wasn't bad - it was a little above average - but his bizarre accents and usual gripes about his mom and drugs were played out.

When tracks for Recovery began to leak, the Internet again went nuts, proclaiming greatness. After hearing a few songs, I wasn't impressed and expected another letdown.

But after listening to the entire album I realized just how wrong I was.

Recovery is the album Eminem should have released as part of his comeback last year. Finally, after years of tales of fake serial killings and taking pot shots at defenseless pop stars, Em has matured.

Look no further than the first single, "Not Afraid." Usually, Eminem's lead singles are goofy songs dissing his peers. Not this time. "Not Afraid" exorcises his demons - denouncing his drug addiction, admitting that his post hiatus work wasn't always up to par ("Let's be honest/that last Relapse CD was ehhh....") and reaffirming his commitment to his music and kids.

Another big change is the lack of Em's partner in crime Dr. Dre. The Doc only shows up for one track - the typically silly "So Bad" - and leaves the bulk of the production to others. It's initially a little jarring to here Eminem on something other than Dr. Dre's beats, but you'll applaud the new direction when you hear the sinister "Seduction" from Boi-1da.

DJ Khalil is probably the album's MVP, concocting hits like "25 to Life," which starts out sounding like Em is yet again dissing his ex-wife Kim but morphs into something much deeper, and "Almost Famous," a sort of road map to stardom.

A lot of critics gave Just Blaze a hard time for the lazily sampling Haddaway's "What Is Love" on "No Love," but I think the track is just fine, despite a sluggish Lil Wayne verse. Just fires back against the haters with the biting "Cold Wind Blows," where Em just goes on a lyrical rampage.

As I mentioned above, I wasn't in love with a couple of the tracks that leaked early. Rihanna, as usual, ruins yet ANOTHER song, screeching like an alley cat all over "Love The Way You Lie." Look for it on a radio station near you. The hook on "Space Bound" is no treat either. "So Bad" and "WTP" - short for White Trash Party - are OK, but it's the usual silly Eminem fare that was edgy in 1999 but is unimpressive a decade later.

But before you write Em off as regressing, he hits us with "You're Never Over," a powerful tribute to his fallen partner Proof. I was shocked that Em made only a passing mention of his friend's murder on his last album. But here, his tribute is full of visceral, real emotion, vowing to make himself a better man in memory of his friend.

Eminem has grown up, and this time he truly deserves the accolades.

Best tracks: "Seduction," "Cold Wind Blows," "25 to Life"

4 stars out of 5
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My daddy's also a master on the grill!

Even though I live in my hometown again, I didn't get to spend Father's Day with my dad yesterday. He had to pull a 12-hour shift at work instead of staying home to relax with his family. My mom and I, obviously, were upset that for the second year in a row my dad had to work on Father's Day. My dad's reply: "Real fathers work on Father's Day."

If you know my dad, you know that's classic William C. Harris. My father is one of the hardest working people I know and I feel blessed that he instilled the same work ethic in me. That work ethic helped me hold down two jobs so I could buy a car and earn extra money for college. That work ethic helped me survive grad school, my first year of teaching and working on a newspaper as one of only two writers.

That work ethic also made me an independent woman, which is why I often say my father made me a feminist. He taught me that if I worked hard I could take care of myself and that I could do anything I wanted regardless of my race or gender. My daddy even once told me he wanted me to be the country's first female president. 

I've long abandoned my White House dreams, but I'm confident that anything I want to accomplish can be conquered because my daddy told me so.   

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Posted by in  on 6:45 AM 2 comments

Choklate's music has been described as "reality soul." Many of her songs are produced by some of the top underground hip-hop producers such as Vitamin D, Jake One, and Donyea Goodman, giving her music a distinctive edge.  She has released two albums. Enjoy! 

-- Desiree 


"Never Change"
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Posted by in ,  on 6:30 AM 1 comment

Friday, June 18, 2010


Thank Me Later (released June 15, 2010)

You know, I feel bad for Drake. Because there is no way that Thank Me Later can live up to its hype.
How can it? Ever since my first post on Drake a little over a year ago, with him looking like an extra from JC Penney's fall fashion catalogue, the guy has been placed on a platinum pedestal by both his industry peers and rabid fan base. His mixtape, So Far Gone, garnered rave reviews, the entire music industry threw wads of cash at him in a bid for his services, and he was featured on tracks from music's elite, including Jay-Z, Alicia Keys and Lil Wayne. With so much support behind him, coupled with his undeniable talent, Thank Me Later has to be a classic album, right?


Well, that all depends.

When it comes down to it, Thank Me Later is essentially a souped-up So Far Gone. And if you loved that album, you'll love this.

The moody, somber production of its predecessor, along with themes exploring the gift and the curse of fame, return here. Drake's at his best when yearning for lost loves on "Karaoke" and "Find Your Love" - both of which sound like offspring of mentor Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak album. Except, unlike Kanye's mess, these songs are good.

Not one to limit himself to just R&B, Drake has no problem going for broke in the rap arena. The first single "Over" might not have been the record-breaker everyone expected but it's far from a disappointment. He tramples through the regal horns and strings like a seasoned pro. On the other end of the spectrum, Drizzy checks his ego and gets introspective on "Fireworks," easily the best track on the album. I actually prefer the unreleased version, which gives co-star Alicia Keys more time to shine.

But Drake followed the formula of his lauded mixtape so precisely that he fell into the same pitfalls. The endless stream of moody production gets REALLY old about halfway through the album, causing a lot of the songs to run together. Drake's monotone hooks certainly don't help. "Shut It Down," for example, seems to go on for an eternity. And the frequent F-bombs dropped in the hook really clash with the subject matter.

His choice of featured artists are a mixed bag too. Jay-Z drops a pretty strong verse in "Light Up" and Mary J. Blige shows up for a fun and unexpected cameo in "Fancy." But others actually hinder a few tracks. Nicki Minaj adds NOTHING to "Up All Night," spitting her usual gibberish: "F*** I look like, ho/I look like yes, you look like no" What does that even MEAN? Young Jeezy also drops a throwaway verse in ironically titled "Unforgettable," which also features a random, tacked-on Aaliyah sample for some reason.

Here's the bottom line - if you're a Drake fan and loved So Far Gone, you'll love Thank Me Later. If you were never impressed by Drake, or even if you were on the fence, this album won't change your mind.

Don't get me wrong, Thank Me Later is a solid debut. But it never had a chance of reaching its lofty expectation. Oh sure, I know it'll sell about 10 jillion copies, but for me at least, sales and hype don't make a classic album.

Best tracks: "Fireworks," "Karaoke," "Find Your Love"

3.5 stars out of 5
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Posted by in ,  on 8:00 AM 3 comments

Thursday, June 17, 2010

It's finally here - the first single from Dr. Dre's loooooooooooooooooooooong awaited album, Detox.

Hope you didn't get your hopes up. Dre and Jay sound like they're rapping over battle music from Mortal Kombat 2. As long as it took them to release it, they probably are.

Step your game up, Dre.

Check it out before it gets deleted.

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Posted by on 9:35 AM No comments
Tuesday I went swimsuit shopping, which, on my list of favorite things to do, ranks up there with going to the dentist and filing my taxes. Even when I was in college and boasted the body of an athlete the idea of stretching skin tight Lycra underwear across my body and going out in public made me cringe. Now, several years and 20 pounds later, it makes me nauseous. Bikinis were abandoned two years ago and replaced by the more modest tankini, but even those things show little mercy. 

So to deal with the torment of swimsuit shopping I did what any 21st century girl would do: I turned to Facebook. I hate shopping for swimsuits. I even despised it when I was at my happy weight. Now that I'm at my, er, not-so-happy weight, the experience is even more torturous. That's what I posted as my status and soon my gal pals began to chime in to let me know that I was not alone. One chica even declared that Lycra is of the devil. I'm inclined to agree.

Two of my girls, though, had something different to say: this year i am trying an experiment where i love myself no matter what. so instead of feeling bad or guilty when you try on these swimsuits, take a deep breath and love yourself instead. That was from one of my Louisville ladies. 

This was the first summer I dared to wear a "look at me" bikini without a cover up close at hand...stretch marks and tummy pooch be darned! I say wear what feels comfortable AND makes you feel fab...happy weight or not. One of my Birmingham babes had that to add.

And with that not only did I remember why it's so great to have girlfriends, but I also realized that it's time I begin to practice what I preach. I'm constantly telling my female friends to love their bodies, but I still struggle to take my own advice. I still feel guilty for skipping a day at the gym or for eating a cupcake (or two).

No more calling myself fat. No more standing in the mirror pinching at my sides and sucking in my belly. No more comparing my body to airbrushed images in magazines. 

Next month when I hit Virginia Beach I will strut my stuff with pride whether I've lost five pounds or gained 10. Take that Lycra demons!
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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I think Katherine Jackson reads Georgia Mae. A couple of days ago, I talked about how she's been putting up with Joe's nonsensical rants for years. But I think his latest outburst has tried her patience. From TMZ:

Katherine's lawyer, Adam Streisand, told TMZ the following: "The world knows that Mrs. Jackson has always been a loving mother and grandmother, and that she and Michael had a very special relationship. The world also knows who Joe Jackson is and he seems bent on never letting us forget."

Howard Weitzman, lawyer for the Michael Jackson estate, added the following: "The inference by Joe Jackson that Mrs. Jackson was in any way responsible for Michael's death is preposterous. Katherine Jackson was a supportive and loving mother throughout Michael's life. His love and respect for her is reflected in his estate plan."

You know it gets ugly when the lawyers come out.

Can't say that I blame Katherine. Good luck getting a piece of MJ's estate, Joe.

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Posted by in ,  on 9:31 AM No comments
image via

That's one of the topics broached this week by Clutch, a popular online magazine for young African American women.  

Recently the press went into a tizzy after 9-year-old Willow Smith, daughter of star couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, was spotted walking the red carpet sporting leopard-print harem pants, a cheetah print cropped jacket paired with combat boots, thick gold chains and  double-sided shaven hair. 

As the Clutch article notes, The Washington Post called Willow a “misled elementary-aged girl” and stressed that there’s a fine line between individuality and caricature. A Huffington Post headline read “Willow Smith, 9, Looks Twice Her Age.” 

The Smith family has announced that Willow, who made a cameo in her father’s film “I Am Legend,” and had roles in “Madagascar: Escape to Africa” and “Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl,” soon will be launching into a recording career. This might explain the funky wardrobe, but some say it doesn't excuse it. 

So what do you think? Is her style too mature  or are the Smiths encouraging self-expression and self-discovery?

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Posted by in ,  on 7:00 AM 2 comments
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