Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I am not proud of this. 

Each week I watch a ridiculous reality TV dating show called The Ultimate MergerA spin-off of The Apprentice, the series premiered last year with several men competing for the heart of Omarosa. Yes, I watched. Yes, it was horrible. Yes, I'm watching again as former America's Next Top Model and Celebrity Fit Club contestant Toccara Jones tries to find love. (Give me a break. I teach early American literature all day. I deserve brain candy when I come home. And at least I stopped watching Bad Girls Club.) 

Toccara, an accomplished plus-size model, is hot. And Toccara knows she's hot and she is quick to flaunt her curves for the cameras.  Looking at her last week I started to reconsider my weight loss goals. Do I really need to be a size 4 or 6 to be healthy and happy?  Toccara is no waif-like celebrity, but she is fit and toned. 

Perhaps it's time I put the scale in the closet and shift my focus, time to change my weight loss goals to fitness goals. Frankly, it doesn't matter if I get down to 140 pounds if I still can't get through all the moves of a Pure Barre class.

When I was in college, the only time in my life I actually liked my body, my self-confidence had nothing to do with my weight or my dress size. I had a positive body image because I was proud of what my body could do, proud that I could teach five aerobics classes a week. 

I've decided that I want to teach aerobics again. I also want to complete a half-marathon. Most important, I want to feel strong. 

I'm not saying you have to run a marathon to be beautiful. Some people have medical conditions that make this impossible. I have a medical condition that could make this goal impossible. But the point is to do what you can and do your best. That's hot. 

And can you believe I got all of that from a reality TV show?
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Posted by in , ,  on 5:57 AM 2 comments
This year Christmas comes a month early! From

R&B veteran Keith Sweat will release his 11th studio album, Open Invitation, on November 1, 2011 via eOne Music. The follow-up to last year’s ‘Ridin' Solo,’ will be lead by the first single "Make you Say Ooh," a track selected by his fans, which is reminiscent to Sweat's most popular hits.

And the world rejoices! Well, I rejoiced - forget y'all.

Whisper a prayer for the wifey - she'll have to put up with me talking about this album for the next two months.

Check out Keith's new single:

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lil Wayne

Tha Carter IV (Deluxe edition) (released August 29, 2011 )

When it comes to Lil Wayne, my wife (and party hostess here at is related to three men with widely varying opinions on Young Tunechi.

Jai's cousin: Lil Wayne superfan. Wayne could belch the phone book and he'd call it a classic.
Jai's brother: A former Lil Wayne fanatic, his fandom has died down in recent years. He admits Wayne has lost a step from his glory days but still considers him among rap's elite.
Jai's husband: Yours truly. Thinks Lil Wayne had one good album (2005's Tha Carter II) and a couple of decent mixtapes but overall is grossly overrated.

When Wayne's highly anticipated album leaked a week early it sparked three different reactions from the wifey's favorite guys:

Jai's cousin: Anyone who listens to that leaked album sucks. I'm waiting to buy it. YMCMB!
Jai's bro: Wow, Wayne leaked! I'm going to check it out right now.
Me: Wayne's album actually came out? Meh, what time does "Cheaters" come on?

After a yearlong vacation in the bing, Weezy is looking to reestablish dominance. Of course Jai's cousin would deny this, but Weezy's luster has definitely faded in the past couple of years. That  HORRIBLE rock/rap album Rebirth and a couple of below-average mixtapes have cheapened his claims of being The Best Rapper Alive. He's even taken a backseat to proteges Drake and Nicki Minaj (and thankfully, Icki Garbaj is nowhere to be found on C4).

Wayne realizes that the pressure is on, and for the first time in years, he actually sounds hungry. Wayne is at his best when he prattles off his stream-of-consciousness flow, meshing bizarre punchlines with his screechy delivery. It's no surprise that C4's best tracks follow that formula. "Blunt Blowing," "6 Foot 7 Foot" and "She Will" won't increase your IQ, but what do you expect, it's a Lil Wayne album.

Young Tune just regurgitates punchline after punchline, beating you over the head with his wicked wordplay. Sometimes it's so bad it's good, like on "Mega Man": "Send those Bloods after your a** like a tampon," sometimes it's just weird: "I'm a diamond in the rough like a baby in the trash" but it's always entertaining, in a train wreck sorta way.

The track that will get the most attention is definitely "It's Good," where Wayne hocks a blatant diss at Jay-Z ( "talking about 'Baby money?' I got your baby, money/kidnap your b****, get that 'how much you love your lady?' money ) in retaliation to Jigga's verse on "H.A.M." earlier this year, where he poked fun at Birdman holding on to Wayne's checkbook. Too bad that will overshadow Jadakiss's guest verse, who drops one of his best verses in a long while.

Jada isn't the only notable guest. C4 features interludes that are essentially freestyles from rap heavyweights. The oddballs Andre 3000 and Tech N9ne turn heads on their collabo, but the real scene stealer is the "Outro," which features Bun B, Nas, Marge Simpson's older brother Shyne Po and Busta Rhymes. Wayne stays out of the way and lets the veterans engage in a lyrical assault.

Jai's brother will be happy to hear that Wayne and friends are in top form. But I can hear Jai's cousin chiding me now: "Tunechi ain't just freestyling. He has substance." Eh, he's right. Kinda.

Wayne's not known for introspection, but "Nightmares from the Bottom," his standout performance from his MTV Unplugged special early this summer, is a great narrative about his struggles. He reminds us: "Don't call me sir, call me sur-vivor." And even a grouch like me can't hate on the empowering message of "How To Love." But who was the genius who encouraged Wayne that it was OK to sing like Robin Thicke? Save your Eric Benet impersonations for the shower, playa.

Yep, Lil Wayne's detractors, like myself, will find plenty of ammunition here. "John" is essentially a remix of Rick Ross's "I'm Not a Star," and not a very good one. I don't think it's very bright to put someone else's song on your comeback album. "So Special" isn't too bad, but John Legend's hook and Wayne's flow is like oil and water - zero chemistry. The appropriately titled "Abortion" sounds like a Rebirth reject, and you know how I feel about that album. And on "How to Hate," Wayne destroys the goodwill of "How to Love" - it's the played out "deez wimmen ain't no good" track that's even MORE played out with the inclusion of T-Pain and that stupid vocoder. I wish he would choke on that thing.

Wayne's an easy target, and it's not hard to poke holes in pretty much anything he releases. But I'm a fair and unbiased reviewer (it's true!), and I can honestly say that Jai's cousin's enthusiasm is justified for once. Flaws and all, I enjoyed this album way more than anything he's done since Tha Carter II. I would suggest skipping the deluxe version of the album, though the extra tracks don't add much.

I think Tha Carter IV will win back those fans who were beginning to lose faith in Weezy. Curmudgeons like myself will still find stuff to complain about, but will begrudgingly go along for the ride.

Wayne's superfans? This is probably their Illmatic. But was there ever any doubt?

Best tracks: "Nightmares From The Bottom," "Outro," "She Will"

Jai's cousin's score: 11 billion stars out of 5
Jai's bro's score: 4.5 stars out of 5
My score: 4 stars out of 5
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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Well, what I expected to be yet another crappy, run-of-the mill award show started out somewhat newsworthy. During the pre-show Beyonce finally officially announced what had been rumored for months - she's pregnant. Congrats to hip-hop's first couple. Let's just hope Baby Jayonce doesn't look like this in 15 years:

With that blockbuster announcement, you'd think the momentum would carry over into the big show. But you would be wrong. So very wrong.

1. Lady Gaga opened the show and confused millions of viewers by channeling potty-mouthed comedian Andrew "Dice" Clay. Did she really think that her fans would get a reference to a guy whose career was hot for six months in 1991? Sadly, she kept the charade up ALL NIGHT LONG.

2. Weren't you disappointed when faux-host Kevin Hart announced that he'd be strictly conducting backstage interviews? Kevin with his Thriller jacket was one of the few highlights.

3. My mortal enemy, Nicki Minaj, annoyed me right out of the gate. Who let her out of the house dressed like a ballerina Transformer ninja?

4. The fat guy from the movie Superbad is no longer fat nor funny. Where was McLovin?

5. Kanye and Jay-Z's "Otis" performance was a bit weak. Hovi sounded a bit strained and under the weather. Did he just find out Beyonce was pregnant too?

6. By the way, Jay was wearing Timberlands - does that mean y'all are gonna all start wearing Tims again?

7. Icky Garbaj's "Super Bass" won Hip Hop Video of the year. Since when has that song been consider hip hop? Selena Gomez has videos that go harder than this.

8. Pitbull's performance wasn't bad, but what was up with his barber shop quartet pants?

9. Katy Perry and Kanye West grabbed a moonman for their "ET" collaboration. But did you notice Kanye sneaking in a line about how my Cousin Chris Brown should have won for "Look At Me Now?" Ah, Kanye, you NEVER learn.

10. Were you on Twitter when Adele performed? If so, you had no one to talk to - it went SILENT when she hit the stage. Thank you, Adele, for putting music back into the Video Music Awards.

11. Poor Justin Bieber, why was he dressed like he crawled out of a pile of Kanye's dirty clothes? He made sure to thank God AND Jesus - didn't want to leave anyone out, I guess.

12. Sigh, Jessie J., no one in Georgia Mae headquarters knew who you were. I had to ask around on Twitter to be reminded that she had the minor hit "Pricetag." Who let her sing karaoke before all the commercials? It started out OK but by the time she started butchering TLC's "No Scrubs," the goodwill was gone.

13. When Kim Kardashian jumped the broom last week, was she replaced by a robot? The woman had ZERO emotion tonight. She couldn't even clap on beat.

14. Britney's kiddie tribute was pretty cool but isn't MTV's constant Britney worship starting to get a bit obvious - and old?

15. So, y'all are seriously telling me Cousin Chris had the best performance of the night? Playa please, I don't think so. Yes, the high-wire stuff was cool, but there was no real singing involved. The little lip-syncing he did looked like an bad karate flick dub. I need more than ghetto Cirque du Soleli acts to be impressed by a musical performance.

15. Why was everyone tripping because Beyonce was performing while preggo? As big as she looks, there's no doubt she was pregnant at the BET Awards a couple of months ago and she survived that OK. I just hope y'all keep the Illuminati baby jokes to a minimum in the coming months.

16. On a related note, Odd Future frontman Tyler the Creator wins Best New Artist and everyone on Twitter runs to Google to figure out who this guy is. How'd he win a people's choice award but no one knew he exists? #He'sRealIlluminati. Oh, and if you missed it, here was his acceptance speech:

"fdakjfd;lajfldfsk (bleep) fadfjlkdajldfjadl fl kjldakjfsld fds (bleep) (bleep) fdadsfasd (bleeeeeeeeeeep)"

17. The wifey was disappointed but I enjoyed the Amy Winehouse tribute. Who made the call for Bruno Mars to sing instead of Adele? That wasn't the brightest decision.

18. I know I've been criticizing outfits all night, but this year's fashion has been atrocious. Why was Drake wearing a J.C. Penny Back to School outfit with my grandma's chain?

19. Lil Wayne closed out the VMAs hopscotching across the stage with his pants down. Aren't you glad Biggie isn't alive to see this mess?

20. Oh VMAs, why are you so boring? The BET Awards may be 100 times worse, but at least they're a bit more entertaining.
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Posted by in , ,  on 11:38 PM 4 comments

Friday, August 26, 2011

Who is ready for the weekend? We are. This is how we celebrate.

Georgia Mae fan Kimberly Jackson shares this one:

Beyonce, Dangerously in Love (2003)

Edd said: According to Kim, "Bey increased a lot of women's self esteem" and "made us feel empowered." Beyonce's long-awaited solo is mostly remembered for a bunch of booty-shakin', but songs like "Yes," "Me Myself and I" and even "Naughty Girl" positioned women as masters of their own destiny. 

Also check out:
"Baby Boy"
"Crazy In Love"

Corey Peterson drops off an overlooked hip-hop gem:

Camp Lo, Uptown Saturday Night (1997)

Corey said: Balancing Ghostface's "crash at high speeds strawberry kiwi"-esque random rhymes amid a backdrop of 70s blaxploitation, Geechi Suede and Sonny Chiba found a formula that yielded a classic 90s album. Not to mention underrated production from Ski - it all just works.

Also check out:
"Black Nostaljack AKA Come On"
"Coolie High"

Now, it’s your turn. Email, hit us up on Twitter @etbowser or @writeousbabe, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album. Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.
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The R.E.D. Album (released August 23, 2011 )

Journey with me back to grade school. There was always one kid in class who was very talented, be it in academics, music, athletics or the arts, whom everyone HATED. Not out of jealously, mind you. The guy was hated because he was just so freaking annoying.

Say hi to Jayceon Taylor.

Proclaimed as the savior of West Coast hip hop, Game released The Documentary in 2005 to very high praise, myself included. In the years that followed, his work became more uneven as his mouth began to kick into high gear. Game picked fights with nearly every major artist you can think of, and even rappers I'm sure you've never heard of. He changed record labels and face tattoos as often as you change your underwear; has retired and unretired; and has released a metric ton of weak mixtapes while his LP release dates are pushed back farther than George Jefferson's hairline. Game's mentor Dr. Dre has taken him to the proverbial woodshed many times, but that hasn't helped much.

And let's not forget about his irritating habit of name dropping in every single song.

Despite his many, MANY flaws, I would never question Game's talent, just his focus. But shockingly, Game has rediscovered that focus on his newest release, The R.E.D. Album.

One listen to the album's first proper song backs me up. "The City" is as aggressive and arrogant as Game has ever been, which beautifully coincides with the epic beat. Fellow West Coaster Kendrick Lamar's incendiary contribution to the track is just icing on the cake - I promise you, that guy is one song away from a breakout career.

Game expertly weaves street tales on "Ricky" while rampaging through samples of the 1991 "Boyz N The Hood" movie (basically Cuba Gooding screaming "RICKY!!!" over and over). "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" and "Heavy Artillery" are just as hard-hitting. But I'm most impressed with Game's performance on the DJ Premier-produced "Born in the Trap," which is a superb blend of East and West Coast styles.

Game tones down the aggression to show love to his family on the self-explanatory "Mama" and "California Dream," which retells the birth of his daughter (identical to "Like Father, Like Son" on The Documentary). It's a great look at the man instead of the gimmick, making both tracks enjoyable despite so-so hooks.

Oh, but it ain't all good in the hood. Game's current single "Pot of Gold" with my golden-haired Cousin Chris Brown, takes Game WAY out of his element. He tries his best to toughen up the track but it just doesn't work. "Good Girls Go Bad" would have made a better single. Plus it features Drake, and I know how y'all love Drake.

At 21 tracks, there is also way too much filler. Pointless narrations from Dr. Dre (doing his worst Morgan Freeman impression) clutter things up and slow momentum. And a handful of tracks - "Paramedics" and "All the Way Gone" among them - should have stuck to Game's mixtapes.
By the way, I'm not as bothered by Game's infamous name-dropping as most, but I'm sad to report that old habits die hard. If you took a drink every time Game mentioned a celebrity's name, you'll pass out by track 4. Speaking of track 4, on "Martians Vs. Goblins," even guest Tyler the Creator calls out Game on name-dropping. Game's response in the song? "F*** you, Tyler."  

If you personally dislike Game, The R.E.D. Album might not't allow you to overcome your prejudices. But hopefully, it will remind you that the guy is almost as good as he thinks he is.

Best tracks: "The City," "Ricky," "Born In The Trap"

4 stars out of 5
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Need a reminder about how old you've become?

It was 10 years ago today that Aaliyah and eight others were killed in an airplane crash in the Bahamas after filming her video for "Rock the Boat."

Aaliyah's death was so shocking not only because she died just as her career began to skyrocket (imagine Rihanna dying tragically immediately after "Umbrella") but because her fans literally watched her grow up. Aaliyah recorded her first album at 14 but left us at age 22.

Tonight at 8 p.m. EST (7 p.m. for you Central folks), BET will air a tribute to the fallen starlet, "Aaliyah, One In A Million." It's no secret that I give BET a hard time (and deservedly so) but I trust them to get this one right.

Check out the teaser video below featuring Aaliyah's friends and collaborators, Missy Elliott and Timbaland.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My beloved Lakeshore Running Trail

Friday night I had the chance to utter words I’ve being wanting to say for years: “I’m meeting my running group in the morning.”

On Saturday morning I had my first meeting with the Birmingham chapter of Black Girls RUN!:

In 2009, Toni Carey and Ashley Hicks created Black Girls RUN! in an effort to tackle the growing obesity epidemic in the African-American community and provide encouragement and resources to both new and veteran runners.  The mission of Black Girls RUN! is to encourage African-American women to make fitness and healthy living a priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 80% of African-American women are overweight. BGR! wants to create a movement to lower that percentage and subsequently, lower the number of women with chronic diseases associated with an unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.

Saturday we met at the Lakeshore Running Trail, which, if you follow me on Foursquare, you know is one of my favorite places on the planet.

Despite my love for being active, I’ve never been much of a runner. This is an activity I really only picked up when I moved back to Birmingham and I’ve never really felt like I knew what I was doing.  I’m a self-conscious runner, certain that the star athletes on the trail are looking at my stride and thinking, “WTF?”

But after just one meeting with Black Girls RUN of Birmingham, my confidence as a runner has improved. One of the organizers of the group worked with me one-on-one, reminding me to bend my knees more when I run, to relax my arms a bit, and she taught me how to run up and down hills.

Running with her was a challenge. My running partner is usually my pink iPod Nano and with it I typically walk for one song, run for one song, repeat. But on Saturday we ran for three minutes and only walked for one. I worried I wouldn’t be able to keep going with such a brief recovery time. But I was wrong. I did it! AND when I left the trail I went to Zumba. AND the next day, despite my aching muscles, I went to a Grand Jete class (which is somewhat similar to that Pure Barre torture chamber I wrote about last week).

Yep, I’m hard core.   

Check out "Chasing Pavements, Chasing Dreams" on my new blog The Writeous Babe Project
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 23 may go down as the official African-American day of mourning.

One night earlier, the news broke that Motown legend Nick Ashford of the duo Ashford & Simpson passed away. Not 24 hours later, we get more news that will have every beauty shop from here to Compton buzzing, via

Will Smith, the West Philly rapper turned movie star, and his wife, actress Jada Pinkett Smith, have decided to separate, according to In Touch Weekly.

"An insider" is the only source named by the celebrity news magazine, and no confirmation - or denial - had been issued as of this morning by the couple's publicists, other news outlets say.

To paraphrase the wise scribe Shawn Carter: "First Will and Jada break up, now every day I wake up/somebody got a problem on Twitter."

As of this posting, neither Will nor Jada have confirmed or denied the (probably false) claims, but that hasn't stopped my Twitter followers from having a meltdown. My timeline this morning was as depressing as a Rick Ross wet T-shirt contest. Seemingly every third tweet proclaimed that if the rumors were true, all marriages are shams and that they'll never, EVER get married.

What affect does a Hollywood marriage have on your own? As the saying goes, "what they eat don't make you ... excrete fecal matter from your bowels." #radioedit

I get that Will and Jada are beloved, and as I've mentioned before they're permanent fixtures on Mount Perfection - meaning they are totally flawless and they are immune from criticism from the African-American community. Or so I'm told. And celebrity couples aren't exactly known for having long lifespans, so it's easy for the public to become attached to any couple that stays together longer than six months. Lord help us if Michelle cheats on Barack with Anderson Cooper. Y'all would jump off a cliff.

On the surface, I don't have a problem with people aspiring to be like other couples but it's quite ridiculous to think that your heroes don't face the same problems you do.

I've heard claims that it seems like the Smiths have the perfect marriage, and if they can't make it, no one can. Well, seems is the operative word. Just because the Smiths don't tote their baggage in plain sight and whine and complain on Twitter (COUGHCousinChrisBrownCOUGH) doesn't mean they are living a fairy tale. Heck - they're ACTORS, if anyone would know create an illusion, they would.

I certainly hope the Smiths' marriage isn't coming to an end. As a married man, it stings a bit every time a couple decides to call it quits, especially when children are involved. But if Will and Jada's marriage is over, that has no effect on my own. In fact, it will force me to work even harder to maintain a lasting bond with my wife.

Marriages CAN last - you just have to put in the effort. Just because your favorite couple is having trouble doesn't mean your relationship is doomed from the start. Just think, if you give up, you and your spouse might never have the opportunity to make magnificent music together:

Hopefully the music you make with your spouse isn't this crappy.

UPDATE: Reps for the Smiths have denied the breakup. Told y'all. Hopefully, you can all resume dating now.
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As much as a I love products like Jane Carter Solution Curl Defining Cream and Hair Milk Lite by Carol's Daughter, they can get a bit costly. I recently put myself on a budget, so I've been searching for less expensive products to add to my natural hair care arsenal. One product that's definitely going to help me be a frugal fashionista is the new Pure Clean Smoothing Cream by Garnier Fructis. 

Pure Clean is a new line of products that are 98% naturally-derived. For those of you who hate the scent of most Garnier Fructis products, don't worry. The Pure Clean offerings smell nothing like them. The Smoothing Cream claims to provide 24-hour frizz control without weighing down your tresses. And it did just that, without the help of parabens or silicones. The secret is Acacia gum, which is apparently used around the world for its natural holding properties. 

To use the product I followed my usual wash-and-go routine. I shampooed and conditioned my hair with Aussie Moist Shampoo and Conditioner. (In the future I'm going to give the Pure Clean shampoo and conditioner a try.) Then combed through Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I used tea tree oil at my hair line, which tends to get dry, and finished by applying the Pure Clean Smoothing Cream. So basically I replaced my frizz control product (which is sometimes Hair Milk Lite by Carol's Daughter and sometimes Umberto Curl Enhancing Lotion) with the Pure Clean Smoothing Cream. 

I wore a headband for a couple of hours to stretch my roots (another part of my regular routine) and let my hair air dry. Not only did the Smoothing Cream control frizz as promised, but it also reduced the amount of time it took my hair to dry. The product was also potent enough that I was able to pull off second day hair. 

The only drawback I noticed was that my hair did shrink a bit more than it does with other products. (This didn't happen when I used less product, but when I used less of the cream my second day hair didn't look as good.) But the Pure Clean Smoothing Cream costs less than $5 and can be found at Wal-Mart. So I'm willing to make the sacrifice. 
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Posted by in  on 7:00 AM 3 comments

Monday, August 22, 2011

Yet another soul legend has left us. From

Nick Ashford, one-half of the legendary Motown songwriting duo Ashford & Simpson, has died at age 70.

His longtime friend and former publicist Liz Rosenberg told the Associated Press that Ashford — who along with wife Valerie Simpson wrote some of Motown's biggest hits — died Monday in a New York City hospital. He had been suffering from throat cancer and had undergone radiation treatment.

That name might not ring a bell for young listeners but trust me, you've heard his work. Along with his wife, Ashford penned some of the best songs of the Motown era. Remember "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," which was used in nearly every major TV ad in the late 80s? Credit Ashford & Simpson. Even if you aren't familiar with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (if that's true, hang your head in shame) I'm certain you're familiar with Method Man and Mary J. Blige's 1995 cover of "You're All I Need to Get By." It's yet another classic written by Ashford & Simpson.

Growing up, our choir closed out every church service with "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)." "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" was a staple in my grandma's house as well. Both were hits again penned by the legendary duo.

But they didn't give away all their good stuff. Ashford & Simpson amassed an impressive catalog of hits as performers, including "It Seems to Hang On," and most notably 1984's "Solid."

Ashford's name might not be as prolific as some of his peers, but his work will stand as a timeless legacy.

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Posted by in ,  on 9:25 PM No comments
Today I launched a new blog. Hold on. Before you delete from your list of bookmarks, hear me out. Georgia Mae isn't going anywhere and I'll still be here every week talking natural hair, fitness, and more just as I have been for the past three years. 

My new blog will focus primarily on writing and the keys to better blogging, but I plan to sneak in a few fashion posts too since I dream of being a style blogger in my next lifetime. 

So head over to The Writeous Babe Project and take a look around. 
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Posted by in ,  on 6:57 AM 1 comment
Avery Sunshine is a singer, songwriter, and pianist from Chester, PA. She got her start singing and directing the church choir. When Avery moved from Pennsylvania to Atlanta to attend Spelman College, she shifted from gospel to soul. While living in Atlanta, she lent her talents to National Black Arts Festival's production of Dreamgirls and was also hired to be the lead keyboardist in the Tyler Perry stage play Meet the Browns. She has released one album. Enjoy! 

Progressive Soul Mondays: Opening minds and eradicating foolery, coonery, and bufoonery one Monday at a time®

-- Desiree

Also check out "Pinin".

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Friday, August 19, 2011

After listening to music by the artist (i am) isis the first word that came to mind was "edgy."

Isis divides her time between Minneapolis and New York, and infuses rock, spoken word and hip-hop into her music.

Her song, "Drive Me," certainly stands out amongst her carbon-copied contemporaries. It's definitely in a league of its own. Check out the single below - the visuals are certainly impressive. Click here to learn more about (i am) isis.

Looking to share your music with the masses? Send a track with a short description about yourself to or hit me up on Twitter @etbowser. If we like what we hear we'll feature you in an upcoming post.
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We don't know about you, but this week was absolutely eternal. Friday is finally here!

This week, Javacia shares this one:

Nikka Costa, Everybody Got Their Something (2001)

Jai said: Nikka Costa,who is often placed in the ridiculously named "blue-eyed soul" category of music, has the amazing ability to blend pop, rock, blues, and funk in her songs. Though she'd been performing and releasing music for over a decade, I didn't happen upon this soulful songstress until her 2001 release Everybody Got Their Something. But I've been hooked ever since.

Also check out: 

"Push & Pull"
"So Have I For You"

Here's what is in Edd's headphones:

Yolanda Adams, Mountain High, Valley Low (1999)

Edd said: It's no secret that R&B has absolutely bored me in past 10 years. And as blasphemous as it sounds, the world of gospel has been just as weak. With a couple of exceptions (Mary Mary and a few others) folks are just rehashing the same old tired themes over and over. When that malaise sets in, I turn back to Yolanda Adams, and my reigning favorite gospel album. Yolanda caught a lot of heat back in '99 for releasing "crossover" music. Those critics are ridiculous. Songs like "Open My Heart" were able to get out of the choir stand and reach a much wider audience. Isn't that point? Obviously it worked - Mountain High, Valley Low is Yolanda's most notable work and it still resonates with me.

Yolanda Adams - Open My Heart[FTL] by crysto

Also check out:
"That Name"
"Fragile Heart"

Now, it’s your turn. Email, hit us up on Twitter @etbowser or @writeousbabe, or stop by the comments section and share your Flashback Friday album. Leave a couple of sentences describing what makes it so great. We’ll feature your album on the blog.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Yesterday Twitter and Facebook were abuzz about a recent Nivea for Men advertisement that features a clean shaven African-American male throwing away a hairier, afro sporting version of himself. The ad tells men to "Re-Civilize Yourself" and to "Look Like You Give A Damn." Take a look for yourself:

image via

People are calling the ad racist and, in my opinion, with good reason. As a proud naturalista I'm offended. I don't rock an afro, but my big curly coif does turn heads and will certainly help you find me in a crowded room. Am I somehow not civilized because my hair isn't sleek and straight? 
I know, I know. You're thinking, this ad is just suggesting that the guy shave and get a hair cut not an S Curl. But when I look at that ad I can't help but wonder why it's not civilized for this black man to let his hair grow out, but white celebrities with long locks are considered sexy.  

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OK, so no one reading this blog probably thinks Fabio is hot, but you get my point. I look at this ad and it's as if it's saying "Boy, you better not let that nappy, African hair grow out." 

But before we black folks start complaining about "the white man" let's be real. In my years of being natural I have NEVER had a white person suggest that I need to straighten my hair, yet my so-called black sisters and brothers have often encouraged me to get a relaxer so I'd have a more professional look. 

Likewise, I've interviewed several women who have received disparaging comments from family, friends, and co-workers about wearing an afro or some other voluminous natural hair style. They've been accused of not taking care of themselves or not taking pride in their appearance (in other words, not giving a damn) or have been warned that they aren't going to be taken seriously at work or won't be able to get a man because of their hair. And in all cases, the culprits were African American. 

As the author of the natural hair blog Naturally Obsessed mentioned on Twitter yesterday: "...there are a lot of black people who feel the exact same way about afros and natural hair styles as that Nivea ad. It's no different." 

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

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I have a confession. I'm a bit cocky when it comes to group fitness classes. In step and dance aerobics classes I'm always at the front of the class and one of the people the instructor tells newcomers to watch if they need extra help. 

This was not the case, however, last Thursday when I took my first Pure Barre class. Founded by dancer, choreographer and fitness guru Carrie Rezabek Dorr, the Pure Body Technique is a total body workout that uses elements of ballet and pilates along with weights, resistance bands and medicine balls to tone your arms, abs, thighs, and butt. 

The cardiovascular endurance I've developed in Body Step, Body Jam, and Spinning meant absolutely nothing as I balanced on one leg and made tiny circles in the air with the foot of the opposite leg for what I would say was two hours if not for the fact that the class is only 55 minutes long. 

You'll scoff at the 2 pound weights used in the class until you're on what feels like your 200th rep and those tiny dumbbells become the weight of Dumbo. And you'll do so much challenging core work throughout the class that by the time you get to simple crunches you won't be able to lift once without shaking like Pookie on New Jack City.

Needless to say, I got a good workout. In fact, I was sore for not one, not two, but three days after this class.  The moral of the story is I'm about as strong as a green bean even though all this time I've thought I was in good shape. I may be able to beat the average person in a hip-hop dance contest, but, after this rigorous ballet-based class, I'm sure the average ballerina could beat me in a fight. 

As I work toward my weight loss goal I must incorporate more strength training in my routine. 

Speaking of routine here's what else I did this week: 6 miles at the trail on Friday, another 6 miles on Sunday and on Monday I went to a Crunk Fitness class at the beautiful Railroad Park in part for the exercise and in part to stroke my ego, so horribly damaged by Thursday's Pure Barre class.   

How did you stay active this week? 

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Kelly Rowland

Here I Am (released July 26, 2011)

Life must be so hard for mega-rich and beautiful R&B starlet Kelly Rowland.

It's true that she has sold more than 60 million records worldwide as part of Destiny's Child. And she probably sleeps on stacks of money and uses her platinum plaques as hot plates to warm up her Hot Pockets.

But the poor child must live every moment in the weave-shaped shadow of Beyonce. Think back to the BET Awards last summer - Twitter was ablaze with pundits comparing Kelly and Bey's performances. And inevitably, Kelly's third album, Here I Am, will be compared to Beyonce's latest.

Is it fair? Not really. Not too many artists are in Beyonce's league, not even her former group members. Just ask Farrah Franklin, if you can find her. But the comparisons are natural, I guess. Luckily for Kelly, she has something Bey's album doesn't have right now - a smash radio single.

"Motivation" is arguably the song of the summer - it's virtually inescapable. And even though radio has played the paint off that song (to quote a friend), the heavy synths and trash-talking verse from Lil Wayne make it extremely addictive. But the success of "Motivation" worried me. Here I Am has been in the works for years, with many failed singles littering the musical landscape. Remember the horrible "Grown Woman" that I reviewed more than a year ago? Probably not, and rightfully so. Since most of those songs were as popular as a moldy dishrag, I feared Here I Am would be a one-song album.

Sadly, that's not far from the truth.

Most of the album can be broken up into three catergories: Disposable pop songs stolen straight from Rihanna's songbook ("Turn It Up" and the sure-to-be-next-single "Lay It On Me" especially); noisy, obnoxious songs like "I'm Dat Chick" that will get love in the club, but no play in my car ("Down For Whatever" has hints of 70s disco, which helps) and mid-tempo ballads.

The last category works best, as it gives Kelly a chance to play to her strengths - her underrated voice. "All of the Night" is a decent slow jam hindered by lame, cliched lyrics ("it's going down like a basement" - gosh, never heard that before). "Keep It Between Us" is a bit stronger. The "urban remix" for "Commander" - one of those failed singles I mentioned earlier - sounds much better slowed down. Kelly lets her vocals shine without having to scream over the original's frantic beat.

The only thing on Here I Am that comes anywhere close to "Motivation" is "Work It Man," an ode to guys who actually have their lives together. According to Kelly, if you have a job, don't cheat and you are willing to beat up someone for your mate, congratulations, you're a Work It Man. Yeah, it's ridiculous, but entertaining.

To answer your burning question, Here I Am is nowhere near as strong as Beyonce's 4. Sorry, Bey Haters, there's really no comparison.

It's certainly not fair to compare Kelly's success with Beyonce's, but it is fair to expect more from a veteran performer with years of hits under her belt.

Best Tracks: "Motivation," "Work It Man," "Commander (Urban Remix)"

3 stars out of 5
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Lately, my social life seems to be dominated by Birmingham's natural hair scene. And I'm completely OK with that. Thanks to groups like the Birmingham Natural Beauties I'm filling my free time attending exciting events that not only empower women of color but also unite us. 

On Sunday I attended an event hosted by The Birmingham Naturalistas, another local natural hair group. It was founded by Keisa Sharpe of The Natural Hair Diva and is run by Marliceia Chavers

There were games and door prizes and Sharpe gave a brief talk to offer us ladies a bit of encouragement. Her talk was titled "5 Reasons You Should Celebrate Being the Natural Hair Diva That You Are." 

1. There is no one quite like you. Sharpe told us to look at ourselves as an original work of art and that it's silly to try to copy someone else. Interestingly enough, during the event I was chatting with a few women about what prompted them to go natural and one woman told me she decided to make a change after she looked around her hair salon one day and realized her 'do looked exactly like everyone else's. 

2. With natural hair you've discovered an authentic style that can bring confidence and boldness. Sharpe said that revealing and sporting her natural hair texture was nothing short of a spiritual experience. 

3. The variety of styles you can wear with natural hair is unmatched. 

4. The support you'll find is absolutely incredible. Groups like Birmingham Natural Beauties and The Birmingham Naturalistas are proof of this as are the plethora of natural blogs and YouTube channels out there.

5. People are working on your behalf to bring you all you need to help you on your natural hair journey. There are so many programs and expos in cities across the country to support women who want to embrace their natural hair but struggle to do so because of disparaging comments from family and friends and for fear that they won't be taken seriously at work. 

As Birmingham's natural hair scene booms I'm glad to be on the forefront and always hoping that this is not a fad but a movement. 
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Contributed by Karie

A few months ago, director Michael Rapaport captured the history of legendary rap group A Tribe Called Quest in the indie documentary Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest.  (Click here for showings near you. UPDATE: You can now find a copy through Redbox). 

The history of rap pioneers Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, DJ Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Jarobi White is colorful. Tribe's rhymes are creative and conscious and are almost guaranteed to have you on your feet or grooving in your chair. See this film if you’re a fan of art or hip hop; appreciate this film for the rich messages that come cascading across the screen.   

Here are a few lessons I picked up from arguably the most creative hip hop group:

  • Art and talent are both God-given. They are a combination of awareness, creativity and curiosity. Their fusion and fervor may have an expiration date, but the treasures can live on forever - if captured, cherished and shared.
  • People come in your life for reasons and seasons. The most important factor in a relationship is friendship. When friendship is dishonored, the relationship is destroyed. Cherish the time spent, but continue to seek God's purpose for you and your life.
  • Seek out your passion and push it further than you ever imagined.
  • You have to work for success. When you're on your divine path the stars will align, but it still requires you to put forth the effort.
  • You can't expect someone to walk with you and hold your hand every step of your journey. For your own longevity, it's important to educate yourself and nurture your passion. That's your responsibility.
  • Take care of your body. Your health is everything.
  • Friendships require work. Do your part! And require your friends to do the same.

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