Friday, March 30, 2012

Nicki Minaj

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (to be released April 3, 2012)

Sunday, February 12, 2012.

That was the night the curtain was pulled back on Nicki Minaj, hip hop's most prominent female emcee for the current generation of fans. It was her night to shine, the night she could show critics that she was not a flash-in-the-pan gimmick, she was rap's next big star - perhaps the biggest female rap star ever.

Instead, her performance of "Roman Holiday" at the Grammy Awards was a massive debacle - sacrilegious, confusing and downright boring. Worst of all, it seemed to be a blatant ripoff of her pop contemporary Lady Gaga. It's odd, because a year and a half ago, around the release of her debut Pink Friday, Nicki was accused of mimicking rap star Lil Kim.

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And so goes the story of Icki Garbaj - a woman in constant search of her identity. Unless this is your first day at Georgia Mae, you probably know I'm not too fond of Icki Nicki. But I am fond of good music and in the past, she has proven that she is capable of making good songs. My problem with her is an increasing reliance on goofy gimmicks - outlandish clothes, stupid accents, petty rap beefs - instead of honing her craft. And after listening to her latest album, I am convinced the woman is no longer capable of making good songs.

Exhibit A: Nicki starts off the album with "Roman Holiday." Why on Earth would you start your album off with the most universally panned song of your career? Is she really that arrogant or just that stupid? Granted the song isn't as bad without dudes in choir robes crumping across your TV screen, but it's still awful. You'll just want to tear off your ears instead of clawing out your eyes this time.

It doesn't take long to realize that lyricism is no longer a factor for Raggedy Roman. "Come On A Cone" is all nonsense - lazy raps, annoying enunciation (pronouncing 'cone' like 'cowwwwwwwwwwwwwwn') while she sings about putting her "d*** in yo face." "I Am Your Leader" is more simplistic Mother Goose rapping, so of course Rick Rawssssse shows up to add a heaping helping of nothing. Poor Cam'Ron tries to salvage the final verse, but it doesn't work. On "HOV Lane" Minaj brags that she's" the HOV lane and you're the Soul Train." I'd rather be slow and soulful than a passenger while you drive drunk.

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"Champion" features a great, haunting beat that is criminally wasted. Icki tries to get introspective, claiming to do it for "the hood and the kids" but sounds like a runner-up at a high school talent show (no offense to high school rappers, y'all probably spit harder than she does). Drake and Young Jeezy aren't much better (poor Jeezy sounds horrible these days after that throat surgery) but Nas steals the show, as expected. "Not rated PG, rated PJs, cuz that's where I'm from" - he's so far ahead of the curve it's embarrassing.

The only song that succeeds in spite of itself is "Beez in the Trap," where Nicki suddenly morphs into a drug dealer with 2 Chainz (pronounced TWO CHAYYYYYYNZ, if you didn't know.) It's totally absurd but at least it's listenable.

Nicki quickly destroys all good will on the title track, where she defiantly claims not to be a pop singer, then two songs later follows up with ELEVEN POP SONGS. Oh, I kid you not. And if you thought things were bad before, prepare for The Last Days. Her current single "Starships" sounds like a blatant ripoff of Pink's "Raise Your Glass." Nicki ripping people off? You don't say! And it goes on and on AND ON. "Beautiful Sinner?" Bootleg Madonna. "Pound The Alarm?" Wannabe Ke$ha. "Gun Shot?" Budget Rihanna. On that one, she drags poor Beenie Man along to dance on the grave of reggae.

Anyone who is strong enough to make it to the 19th (!) and closing track will find nothing but misery - that wretched "Stupid Hoe" song. It's like eating a cereal box of razor blades and the prize at the bottom is a time bomb.

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When I heard Lil Wayne compare his girlfriend's vagina to purple weed on the title track I thought things couldn't get worse on this album (what kind of filthy women is Wayne sleeping with anyway?) But they did. The rap is so watered down hip hop fans will be appalled. The pop is so generic that Top 40 fans won't even pay attention. I seriously don't know how this project got green-lighted.

Before you Garbaj lemmings dismiss my criticism as "hating," understand this: Nicki Minaj is suffering from a huge identity crisis. This album goes from Lil Wayne to Lil Kim to Pink to Gaga to Rihanna. Artists like Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill and even (God help me) Drake juggle different rap styles and sing but maintain their own identity. Nicki is so busy trying to mimic others that she has NO identity, and her material has suffered. If she doesn't know who she wants to be, why should we listen to bad music while she tries to figure it out?

Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded is Icki Garbaj performing bad karaoke. We need to do better.

Best tracks:

1.5 stars out of 5
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Posted by on 8:26 PM No comments
Can you believe we're heading into the month of April? Where did winter go?

Well, if you live down in the South like us, we never saw winter anyway. Let's celebrate these great temperatures with great music!

Longtime Georgia Mae supporter LaTasha Merchant only wants to be with Hootie.

Hootie & The Blowfish, Cracked Rear View (1994)

Tasha said: "This album gives me '90s flashbacks."

Also check out:
"Let Her Cry"
"Hold My Hand"

Charles Clark brings the party.

House Party 2 Soundtrack (1991)

Charles said: "Ain't Gonna Hurt Nobody" was my song back in the day when rap actually was good and they weren't talking about shooting up anyone. You could get up and dance and feel good."

Also check out:
"Yo Baby Yo," Ralph Tresvant
"House Party (I Don't Know What You Come to Do)," Tony! Toni! Tone!

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, March 29, 2012

Man, cupid must be harpooning the crap out of y'all. The Love Letters inbox is bursting with questions. If you've submitted one, sit tight - I promise to get to them all soon.

And if you'd like to add a query to my massive pile, feel free.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname.  

Here's today's question:

Why do people act like sex is not the most important part of a relationship when in reality it is a big part?


Um, playa, maybe they act like that cuz it's not the most important part of a relationship.

A big mistake people make when seeking their dream lover (word to Mariah Carey) is fixating on just one character trait. Especially superficial traits.

Ladies, if you want a man with money, just holla at him:

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Want a man with brains? I got your dude:

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Looking for a man with F.A.M.E. and prestige? You might end up with him:

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Stuck on a man's looks? Try this one:

Now, that's a mighty fine man, I must say.

In all the above cases, focusing on just one aspect of their character ignores a multitude of flaws. (Expect for that last guy. He's pretty flawless.) That tunnel vision will get you in big trouble down the line.

Yeah, sex is an important part of a committed relationship (all you freaks out there should notice the word "committed") but it's FAR from the biggest piece of the puzzle. It should fit equally with less tangible elements - commitment, compassion, drive, faith. Map out all the characteristics you want in your dream guy and weed out the silly, superficial ones. Focus on finding the total package instead of a travel-size snack pack.

And sorry ladies, that smooth brother above is spoken for.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I try to be a happy black feminist. I really do. But people keep insisting on making me an angry one. Lots of things on the Internet have been pissing me off this week and it's only Wednesday. 

Exhibit A

One in three women will be victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence in their lifetime, yet some people still think that the abuse pop star Rihanna suffered at the hands of Chris Brown is a joke. According to MSN, the Atlanta-area restaurant Chops & Hops dedicated its "Black & Bleu" sandwich to Rihanna and posted on Facebook: "@chrisbrown, @rihanna and us teamed up for a award winning celebrity sandwich. Put your hands on this caribbean black and bleu sandwich ... Chris Brown won't beat you up for eating this unless your name starts with a R and ends with A."

After major backlash the folks in charge apologized and said they would donate six times the sandwich's proceeds to a domestic violence charity. But I've already lost my appetite. Furthermore, the comments from people on Facebook defending the sandwich truly made me sick to my stomach.

Exhibit B

**Spoiler Alert! Skip to Exhibit 3 if you haven't read The Hunger Games novel or seen the movie** 

Back in November I blogged about the negative reactions that some Hunger Games fans had when the movie trailer and promotional posters revealed that major characters like Cinna, Rue and Thresh would be played by black actors. Well, some of these racist fans weren't paying attention back then and were in for a surprise when they saw the movie this past weekend. Recent reactions on Twitter include statements like "why does rue have to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie" and "call me racist but when i found out rue was black her death wasn't as sad." You can check out this Jezebel post for more disgusting examples. 

In my previous post I stated that I believed people couldn't accept black Hunger Games characters (even though Rue and Thresh are both clearly described as having dark skin) because black people are usually relegated to so-called black movies and white is seen as normal or the default. But this latest string of comments point out an even more disturbing truth: as Dodai Stewart says in her Jezebel article, in the eyes of these people black lives lack value. These people are angry that they bothered shedding tears over the death of a black girl. 

Georgia Mae reader Mariam, commenting on my previous post, made another observation: "It's also incredibly disturbing to see these kinds of comments from people who I assume are the book and movie's target audience: teens. We're quick to assume bigotry is only in the hearts of old people. If we can't even depend on young people not to be racist, Lord, help us."

Exhibit C

And another thing pissing me off this week: people trying to cause division within the natural hair community. Over at the blog Around the Way Curls, one reader commented saying she takes issue with the authors of the blog referring to mixed hair and curly hair as natural hair, saying natural hair is a term that only refers to afro-textured hair. She writes (in all caps): "MOST MIXED RACE OR CURLY HAIRED BLACK WOMEN DO NOT FIT INTO THAT CATEGORY OF NATURAL HAIR. THE REASON WHY I AM STATING THIS CLAIM IS.. FOR EXAMPLE, IF YOU WERE TO WALK INTO A SOCIAL EVENT, OR INTO PUBLIC WITH YOUR HAIR NOT CHEMICALLY OR HEAT STRAIGHTENED, IT WOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED STRANGE, AKWARD, OR GROSS. BUT IF A WOMAN WITH KINKY TYPE 4 HAIR WALKED INTO THAT SAME SITUATION, SOME WOULD CONSIDER HER HAIR TO BE UNATTRACTIVE, TOO KINKY, GROSS, UNPROFESSIONAL, BEING DIFFERENT, OR SOME OTHER NEGATIVE VIEW, ESPECIALLY FROM BRAINWASHED BLACK MEN."

I can appreciate this woman's frustration and in no way do I want to diminish the pain that she's experienced due to people's ignorance. But the assumption that curly-haired girls have it easy is incorrect and unfair. Yes, I have a texture of hair that is considered by some as so-called "good hair" but that didn't keep my boyfriend or even my own family members from telling me I needed to get a perm when I went natural. And then on top of that, as this reader's comment proves, we also have trouble even being accepted by other naturalistas. We need the support of the natural hair community just as much as ladies rocking afros and locs. Even many white women I know with very curly hair (such as the founder of JessiCurls) have struggled with accepting their tresses and have stories very similar to those of black women. We're all in this together, people. 

So what's pissed you off this week? Or, better yet, know of any news to cheer me up?

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

About two or three times a year I shell out some cash to get my hair straightened. The four to six months in between my flat iron rendezvous is somehow enough time for nearly every person in my life to forget that I occasionally straighten my hair. Therefore, when I do smooth out my curls, which I did a few days ago, I am inevitably inundated with questions such as...

Q: Girrrrl, did you get a perm?!?!
A: No. My curls have just been flat ironed straight. No chemical relaxers, just heat.

Q: Did you do it yourself?
A: Nope! I don't have the patience or upper body strength to tackle this mane of mine. My stylist is Kim Jordan of 1 Hair Expert in Montgomery, Ala. Yes, I drive 80 miles to get my hair done. Kim is that good and her prices are so affordable it makes up for the cash spent on gas. Here's a post I did on Kim's method for my hair.

Q: How long with it last?
A: My curls are stubborn and always want to be the center of attention. But if I stay out of the rain and don't do any cardio workouts I can keep my tresses straight for two weeks or maybe even longer but after two weeks I'm usually bored with the look and ready to get back to my aerobics classes and running.

Q: What made you want to straighten your hair, anyway?
A: Kim prefers to cut my hair while it's straight (although she can cut curly hair too) so usually I get my hair flat ironed when I need a trim. Sometimes, I get my hair straightened just because I'm bored; and sometimes it's because I want to wear a cute hat (most of which will not fit over my crazy curls).

Q: Why don't you wear your hair straight all the time?
A: Why should I? I love my curls. And wearing my hair in its naturally curly state is a better fit for my active lifestyle. I can run at my favorite trail and dance at Body Jam without worrying about messing up my 'do. And if I want, I can dance in the rain, too.
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Melanie Fiona

The MF Life (released March 20, 2012)

Just a few years ago, I was extremely excited about the young career of Melanie Fiona. Not only was she following in the footsteps of fellow Canadian bombshells Tamia and Deborah Cox (two of my all-time favorites) her single, "It Kills Me" was burning up the airwaves. But sadly, her debut, The Bridge, just didn't do it for me.

Three years later, Birmingham radio is STILL playing "It Kills Me" regularly, so clearly Fiona made an impact. With traditional R&B in a coma, there's no better time for Fiona to make her mark. Consider Fiona's sophomore set, The MF Life, her redemption song.

A very, very angry redemption song.

The MF Life is nearly an hour-long breakup letter to a no-good ex. Perpetually grouchy R&B siren Jazmine Sullivan would be so proud. But we all know heartbreak lays the foundation for great songs.

Lead single "4 a.m." is the typical story of a neglect but Fiona is through playing the victim. Fierce vocals fuel her rage. The beat's initial serenity escalates into pulse-racing drum patterns, adding more layers to the tension. It's one of the finest tracks I've heard all year.

Fiona's pain is our pleasure on "I Been That Girl," with a sparse beat and breathy lyrics that will remind you of a throwback Aaliyah track, and the soaring vocals of "Wrong Side of a Love Song." Fiona's voice is powerful yet never spirals out of control.

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Unlike her.

"This Time" and "Running" both are gems on their own but are blessed with lyrical boost from J. Cole and Nas, respectively. Cole confesses that "it's deep/When the girl of his dreams is the same one to wake him up" while Nas dreams finding "that 'Color Purple' love, running and waving" on his quest for the perfect wife.

Fiona's hot streak begins to cool during the second half of the album. "Watch Me Work" is catchy but nowhere near as memorable as earlier tracks. "Can't Say That I Love You" boasts yet another strong vocal performance, but the lyrics - ugh. It sounds like one of those eye-rollingly sappy American Idol songs. Oh, and speaking of sappy, "L.O.V.E." is sickeningly sweeter that Cookie Monster's Kool-Aid. As usual, the vocals are superb, especially from guest star John Legend, but the lyrics are straight out of an After School Special.

Thankfully, the album ends on a surprisingly good note. The closer, "6 a.m.," is a clever remix of both Fiona's "4 a.m." and "5 O'Clock," the latest single from hip hop Transformer T-Pain. The pair mesh pretty well despite one of the voices sounding like a lawn mower.

This time around, Fiona has the substance to back up her amazing voice. The MF Life is the album I hoped Fiona's debut would be. It's sweet redemption for a very deserving vocalist.

Best tracks: "4 a.m.," "This Time," "Running"

4 stars out of 5
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Posted by in ,  on 6:45 AM 2 comments

Monday, March 26, 2012

Imagine watching your daughter, niece, or best friend try on outfit after outfit in the mirror only to declare that no matter what she puts on she’s looks horrible because she’s so fat. Now imagine that instead of insisting that she looks just fine you say, “Yes, you’re right. You are overweight – and the only person who can do something about it is you.”

According to The Daily Mail, that’s exactly what a 48-year-old mother in England told her 13-year-old daughter after the girl had reached 182 pounds. Her words may seem harsh but her daughter Amie now says it was the best thing her mother could have done. The talk pushed Amie to revamp her food choices and start losing weight.

Still, this anecdote begs the question, is it OK to tell someone, especially an insecure teen girl, that she’s fat?
Here in the U.S. obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled since 1980, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 17% (or 12.5 million) of American children and adolescents aged 2—19 years are obese, with black girls significantly more likely to be obese than their Caucasian counterparts.

And the numbers don’t get much better when we look at adults. Over 35 percent of U.S. adults are obese with African Americans having the highest rates of obesity at 44 percent.

Obesity has been linked to some of the leading causes of death including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Some might point to this as evidence as to why it is absolutely necessary to tell an overweight relative or friend that she needs to shed some pounds.

But does a person’s weight necessarily dictate her health? Can you be fat and fit?

Anansa Sims
image via Glamour

Plus-size model Anansa Sims believes you can. In the March issue of Glamour magazine Sims, daughter of legendary supermodel Beverly Johnson, says she starved herself, took laxatives, and overexercised to break into the modeling business. Sims told Glamour, “People said I looked great, but I felt miserable because I was depriving my body of nutrients, and the more weight I lost, the more my self-esteem fell.” Now a size 12 to 14, Sims says she’s the healthiest she’s been in years.

Linda Bacon, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at City College in San Francisco, also weighed in on the matter saying it’s well documented that overweight people can lead long, disease-free lives. Bacon, author of Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight, even went as far as to say that body mass index (BMI), the measure used to determine if a person is overweight or not, is almost irrelevant. “If you’re fat but fit – meaning you can be active for 20 to 30 minutes – you can live longer than people who are thin and out of shape,” Bacon told Glamour.

If you do have a loved one’s whose health you’re concerned about because she’s overweight, encouraging her to go on a fad diet to reach a certain weight is probably not the best move, according to Bacon. Adopting healthy eating habits and exercising regularly, in other words making true lifestyle changes, may be the wiser thing for her to do. Bacon said: “If you eat a good diet and exercise, you’re likely to be healthy, no matter what the scale says.”

Do you think it’s OK to tell a girl or woman she’s fat? Do you think it’s possible to be overweight, yet healthy? 

Related link from Mom Puts 7-Year-Old on a Diet in the Worst Vogue Article Ever

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Since I've spent months counting down the days until the premiere of The Hunger Games movie it's probably no surprise that I saw the film this weekend. Some of my friends who aren't into the series like I am keep asking why I'm such a Hunger Games geek. The answer in two words: Katniss Everdeen. 

I love Katniss. So much so that I wore this to the movie:

Forget the love triangle, people; let's remember the girl on fire. Katniss Everdeen is one of my feminist heroes. Yes, I'm aware that she's not a real person, but bear with me for a moment.

I don't call Katniss my feminist hero simply because she's a survivor. Yes, she is badass with that bow and arrow and had to be smart and tough to take care of her family with practically nothing (something strong women have been doing since the beginning of time.) 

But for me feminism isn't just about being strong.  The dictionary definition of feminism is simply a belief in the economic, political, and social equality of the sexes, but for me it's come to mean much more. While I believe men can be feminists too (I’m married ton one) for me, feminism is also about sisterhood. And Katniss is her sister's keeper. She put her life on the line and volunteered for the Hunger Games to protect her sister Prim and then in the arena forms a sisterly bond with Rue. Sure, it may have seemed foolish to become an ally with the smallest and youngest tribute, but that didn't matter to Katniss. 

I also love Katniss because she's a rebel. She refuses to settle for the status quo. I can't go into much detail about how without spoiling the end for those of you who haven't read the book or seen the movie and without giving away the plot of the final book of the trilogy, Mockingjay. But take my word for it; Katniss is not a "business as usual" kind of girl. And that is truly what feminism is all about -- not accepting the traditions and societal norms that try to dictate what men and women can and cannot do. It's about throwing off the conventions that try to restrict us with gender roles and stereotypes. *three-finger salute*

So what did I think of the movie? LOVED IT! After losing myself in the pages of Suzanne Collins' novels it was wonderful to see settings like the arena and the Capitol come to life and see actors like Jennifer Lawrence and Woody Harrelson transform into the characters that I've grown to love dearly.

But therein lies my one complaint with the movie. No, not the casting. That was very well done. But while I was watching the movie I kept wondering if I would be enjoying it as much as I did had I not read the books.  Because I've read the entire trilogy I am invested in this series and I'm invested because I'm attached to the characters. Collins does an amazing job of creating complex main characters. Katniss isn't just a girl who loves her sister and has good archery skills. We know her hopes and her fears.  We know what makes her admirable and we know her character flaws. We know the internal conflict she's battling due to things like her anger toward her mother and her feelings for Gale and Peeta. 

I worry that the movie didn't allow viewers to develop the same connection with the characters that we true Hunger Games geeks have and I worry that for those who don't have that connection the movie may have seemed mediocre. I can't say for sure, obviously, because I have read the books and therefore most scenes of the movie gave me goosebumps. So if any of you saw the movie without reading the books I'd love to know your thoughts. And then I'd love for you to go read the books!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

It never fails. Whenever Javacia and I decide to take a few days off, y'all can't stay out of trouble. Thankfully there were no deaths in the family (my vacation death toll unfortunately includes Bernie Mac, Teena Marie, James Brown, Nate Dogg and Gil Scott-Heron) but there was plenty of news.

You'd never know we were gone the way the wifey cranked out daily blogs this week - there is no questioning her commitment to Georgia Mae. But here are a few things we missed as we reclined in our spring residence in Louisville (aka, a friend's apartment).

Keith Sweatin' Foreclosures

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Lord, when I heard this I yelled and hit the floor like a large, dramatic woman at a funeral. Even after the bank snatched Keith's home and sold it, the dude still owes 'em $250,000. Poor Keith is now sleeping on a futon in The Sweat Hotel.

We should throw a rent party, like they did on Good Times. We'll get Johnny Gill and Kut Klose to perform instead of Bookman and Florida n' friends.

Cocaine is a Factor in Whitney Houston's Death

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L.A. County Coroner ruled Whitney's death an accidental drowning, but heart disease and cocaine were also determined as contributing factors. There seemed to be a lot of shock about the cocaine revelation and I'm not sure why. Not be callous, but we all know the kind of life Whitney was living. The revelation shouldn't be used to discredit Whitney's immense talent, instead it should be a sobering reminder of how deadly drug use can be.

Teenage Mutant Alien Ninja Turtles

Michael Bay continues the systematic destruction of my childhood with plans for his new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. No longer will they be teenage mutants, they will be aliens.

Yes, aliens.

Listen, I have no problem with slightly revised origins. The TMNT story has been told to death; it could use a new twist. But Bay is totally changing the entire premise of the franchise for seemingly no reason other than mindless shock value. Bay's response to critics has been nothing more than a hearty "shut up, you'll take those Alien Ninja Turtles and like it." Yeah, that'll win over the fanbase.

Would you rather see TMNT?

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Playa please.

R. Kelly Is Still Weird

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And speaking of aliens, R. Kelly has threatened to continue his "Trapped In the Closet" hip-hopera series. He hints that the latest installment will be "out of this world," so expect little green men to run around with crooked ministers and pimps this time around. Just. Stop.

The original "Trapped" song was actually pretty clever. However, after TWENTY-SOMETHING chapters the storyline has spun completely out of control, much like Arruh's career. The Pied Piper of R&Pee better stick to inspirational tracks to continue to repair his soggy image. R&B aliens ain't cutting it.

Justice for Trayvon

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The nation has been gripped by the case of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The Florida teen was fatally shot because neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman thought Trayvon looked "suspicious." As of this posting, Zimmerman still has not been arrested. While I'm proud of the nation for rallying for justice I worry that our focus is being divided. I've watched wars of words break out on social media as well-meaning but misguided posters try to paint this as a "white vs black" or "black vs hispanic" issue.

I'm not naive enough to say that race didn't play a factor in Trayvon's death. Sad fact: Nearly every black man I've ever known has faced some sort of racial profiling by age 21. It's a sickening rite of passage we all go through. However, Zimmerman's race has nothing to do with that issue. What Zimmerman did was criminal, no matter if he's Hispanic, black, white, or an Alien Ninja Turtle. Nor should we point fingers and claim some racial groups aren't "working as hard" to further the cause as others.

By continuing to build meaningless racial barriers, we're falling into the same traps that caused this tragedy. Now, more than ever, a spirit of unity is essential.
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We've spent the past week at our old stomping ground Louisville, Ky., but now your favorite couple is back in town after enjoying a much-needed vacation. Emphasis on "much." Many lives were saved by my departure.

Spring break is truly a beautiful thing. But we ain't rubbing it in - we had to drop off a few tracks to help you reach your weekend. It was the least we could do.

Edward wants y'all to give Ashanti a break.

Ashanti, The Declaration (2008)

Edd said: Poor Ashanti, what has she done to trigger the wrath of so many women? Sure she can't blow like Aretha, but neither can Rihanna and y'all like her just fine. And yeah, her acting skills leave MUCH to be desired, but Aaliyah was much worse (RIP, Baby Girl). Ashanti gets no love. I'll admit, she dropped some dreadful albums in the past (that Chapter II album still gives me the shakes) but The Declaration showed vast improvement. Stronger vocals, better production - The Princess finally hit her stride. Too bad so many people missed out. Sheesh, and y'all call me a hater.

Also check out:
"The Way That I Love You"

Javacia is a "joyful girl" when she's listening to Ani.

Ani DiFranco, Dilate (1996)

Jai said: The best way to describe Ani DiFranco's impact in my life would be to say that her music is the soundtrack to my feminism. Lately Ani's most recent release Which Side Are You On? has been in heavy rotation. But I decided to take it back and listen to some of the old Ani songs that made me fall for her years ago.

Also check out:
"Joyful Girl"
"Untouchable Face"

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, March 22, 2012

Very rarely will you find me wearing a skirt or dress that doesn't stop at or below my knee. Even when I'm wearing running shorts I am sure to wear running tights underneath. This is not because I'm ashamed of my thighs. I'm a runner; my thighs are awesome (I'm just sayin'...). I do this because of a memory from 2004 that I can't get out of my head.

It was a hot day in sunny California, which is where I was living at the time, and I had errands to run. I threw on a baby tee and a relatively short casual skirt; it probably hit about three inches above my knee. While walking around town I got cat calls on nearly every block from men who looked to be in their 20s and men who looked to be my father's age or older. Many of the comments were very sexual,quite lewd and unabashedly so.

When I turned down one particularly persistent guy who wanted my number, wanted to know what I was doing later, and kept asking "Can I walk wit' chu?" the name calling started. "F*ck you bitch!" he yelled. His friend thought of a more original retort: "That's why we don't even get down wit' square chicks." WTF does that even mean?

I hurried back to my studio apartment, took a shower, and cried. I was not crying because some jerk called me a bitch. That had happened before. I didn't care that his punk friend thought I was square. I didn't even cry because the sexual comments made me feel dirty. That wasn't new either. I cried because I was angry with myself. The eyes of the men flirting with me all went straight to my thighs. If only I'd worn jeans this wouldn't have happened, I told myself.

There I was blaming myself even though if any of my friends came to me with the same story I would say, "Don't you dare think that this is your fault."

But in the midst of my tears I also remembered that I should count my blessings. I remembered that back when I was in high school a girl in my hometown was approached by a group of guys while she was hanging out in a local park. When she blew them off the leader of the crew threw a beer bottle at her head. When she turned around to yell at him for the assault he shot her. She was only 15.

This week has been International Anti-Street Harassment Week which has set aside March 18 – 24 to spread awareness, share stories, and ask men to join women in solidarity against this problem. It's not flattery; it's harassment -- that's part of the message that this event and its organizer, Holly Kearl, seek to spread. And as Thembi Ford of Clutch magazine said of this issue:  "This is not a women’s problem, it is a social problem." 

Visit to learn more and check out this video by a group of New Yorkers determined to do something about this issue.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Courtney Mirenzi of Those Graces 

I stumbled upon Courtney Mirenzi's blog Those Graces a few weeks ago and, to be honest, when I found it I felt giddy. Those Graces is something I'd been looking for for years -- a feminist fashion blog.

Recently I had a chat with Courtney about her decision to add a feminist slant to her style blog and her social media success. 

You decided to add a feminist slant to your blog about a year ago, right? How did that affect your blog’s readership?

I made the decision to incorporate feminism into my blog a little over a year ago. (Read about her decision here.) Since then, I've been incorporating feminist issues relating to body image, how to buy makeup with ethics and many more. I think what I ultimately learned from changing course is that a blog could and should be what the writer wants it to be. At the end of the day, most of us blog as a hobby and it can often be stifling to stick to just a few narrow topics. 

As far as my readership, it definitely went up after I made a conscious effort to share more of my opinions on feminism and women's issues. As someone who reads a lot of blogs, my favorites are the ones that really open up and address hard hitting questions. In posts where I've shared my thoughts and feelings on difficult topics--those are the ones people love to read and share their opinions on. I want my blog to be a place where people can share their thoughts. 

How do you reconcile your passion for fashion with your feminist beliefs? 

Being a feminist definitely makes me take a second look at the world I see around me including fashion and feminism. It has made me look at issues more critically, which has in turn driven me to speak out about issues you don't often see on fashion blogs.  Ultimately, I think any person has a wealth of interests, some of which might conflict. I think the key is just keeping an open mind and skeptical eye on the world around you.

What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers considering writing about fashion with a feminist slant?

I went into blogging with this very rigid idea of what my blog would be. I started off as a budget fashion blogger, but over time I learned that my blog can really be anything I want it to be. For anyone wanting to write a blog about fashion with a feminist slant--I would say be open to change and don't be afraid to switch directions or talk about things that may seem unpopular or controversial.

When it comes to beauty and feminism one of the things I’m really concerned about is how we as women can improve our self-image and work to help build the self-esteem of young girls. Any thoughts on this topic?

I think the best thing that women can do for each other is just be honest. For years there seemed to be this wall up where self help "experts" didn't admit their own flaws or feelings. I think it's important to share with other women that we may feel down on ourselves or degrade ourselves due to unhappiness with our appearance. The second you just open up and be yourself, the quicker other women will relate to you and the easier it is to help. I think making self-image and self-esteem part of everyday conversation is also important.

You and your blog were recently featured in the Boston Globe. Congratulations! What general advice would you give to bloggers looking to get their names out there? 

Thank you so much! You know, it's a funny thing. The writer of the article literally emailed me out of the blue and asked me if she could interview me. Sometimes good things truly do just happen out of no where! 

My advice to bloggers is to respect your readers because they are your community and the most important people (aside from yourself!) at the end of the day when it comes to your blog. If you build a strong community, good things will come. 

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

New York Fashion Week Fall 2007: Doo Ri

Many of us feminist types have been gripping for years about the unrealistic images flaunted in the world of fashion as unhealthily thin models are plastered in magazines and take to the runways at fashion shows.

Recently, some countries have actually been trying to do something about this. In France, Parliament voted in favor of a bill that outlaws "publicly inciting extreme thinness." An ad in the UK was banned because the model had "highly visible ribs."  And on Monday Israeli lawmakers passed new legislation that prohibits the employment of underweight models. 

From the Huffington Post via AP:
The new law requires models to produce a medical report no older than three months at every shoot for the Israeli market, stating that they are not malnourished by World Health Organization standards.
The U.N. agency relies on the body mass index, calculated by factors of weight and height. WHO says a body mass index below 18.5 indicates malnutrition. According to that standard, a woman 1.72 meters tall (5-feet-8) should weigh no less than 119 pounds (54 kilograms).
Also, any advertisement published for the Israeli market must have a clearly written notice disclosing if its models were made to look thinner by digital manipulation. The law does not apply to foreign publications sold in Israel.

While the intentions behind the law may be good, there are some problems with this new legislation as Dodai Stewart of points out. Requiring models to have a BMI of at least 18.5 may seem like a good idea, but BMI isn't always an accurate way to measure health. Furthermore, as Stewart states, "Banning a model one pound or one inch or one point away from the acceptable BMI doesn't actually have an impact on the world-wide spell we're under, in which a woman can never be too thin."

What do you think of Israeli's new law banning the employment of underweight models?
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The current cover story for Vogue Italia has been turning heads and raising eyebrows all month as some have argued that the "Haute Mess" spread is an example of classism and racism in fashion. The spread features top models sporting over-the-top wigs and hair pieces and gold grills, others are eating fast food or taking pictures of themselves with bedazzled cell phones, and some are even rocking fake baby bumps. (Click here to check out a gallery of the photos.)

Many of the styles imitated (parodied?) in the story are often associated with poor people of color and some were complete rip offs of photos found on sites like "People of Wal-Mart," as you can see from the similarities in the photos above.

Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani has defended the spread and even said that people who claim it's racist need to see a professional psychologist

What do you think of the cover story? Is it racist? Does the spread show evidence of classism in fashion?

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If you aren't already outraged by the story of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old boy in Florida who was shot and killed because trigger happy neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman thought Trayvon looked "suspicious," you need to read this: How to Get Away With Murder and Other Things the Killing of Unarmed Black Teen Trayvon Martin Teaches Us.

And while you may feel like justice will be served because the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the FBI released a statement Monday night saying they will intervene, just remember that Zimmerman still has not been arrested because local law enforcement claim Zimmerman was acting in self-defense even though this child was unarmed.

But you probably know all this already and you probably are already outraged. But you feel helpless. You don't know what you could possibly do to help Trayvon's family. There are at least 3 ways you can help get justice for Trayvon and his family: hit the tweets, write a letter, and stay informed. Click here for more details.

Sign the petition calling for the prosecution of Trayvon's killer: 
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Image via
Looking for love? Then you've come to the wrong place.

Got questions about love? That, we can help you with.

Send your inquiries to, or find me on twitter @etbowser. Just provide your initials, or a fun nickname.   

Why do men love a mean woman when there are so many nice women in the world? 

Wait, wait, wait. I hope you aren't insinuating that only the male species gravitates toward the wrong crowd. Ask Mary J. Blige about her bad boy.

Or these brain surgeons:

Image via
These are the role models of our children, people. Even worse, that guy likely will be at my family reunion in July. He won't get any potato salad; I'll make sure of that.

I'm sure I could try to dig up some deep psychological reason that causes men (and women) to go after things that are bad for them, but I only got a B in my college psychology class. So let's go with good ol' common sense.

Danger is alluring. For women, bad boys offer an edge and their aggressiveness (ironically) can make a woman feel safe and protected. Some guys, me included, dislike shrinking violets. There's nothing wrong with being attracted to a confident woman, but we often confuse 'confidence' with 'crazy.' Before you know it, you're dating one of the beasts from The Bad Girls Club.

Image via
I've been there. I dated a ton of girls like that in college. Emphasis on college, not adulthood.

Anyone - ESPECIALLY a fully functioning adult - who puts up with a drunken, promiscuous street fighter clearly isn't looking for a long-term relationship or has no concept of a healthy relationship. If you have your eye on a guy who prefers sloppy club brawlers over a woman who has her life together, forget him. Eventually, he'll realize that he'll need someone more mature in his life and he'll be ready to move on - possibly with you. But don't force him to make that decision, he has to make it on his own. If all he wants is a bad girl, he's not ready for a real relationship, and not worthy of your time.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Cypress Gardens Southern Belle

I knew something was wrong. One of my students, we’ll call her Jane, was using her smartphone to email me while she was on a fieldtrip. During this trip students from our school were putting on a play for kids from other schools. It’s part of our effort to expose other children in the community to the arts.

Quite naturally, when performing a play props need to be carried on and off the stage. Jane told me in her email that she had just been scolded by one of the female chaperones. Was she reprimanded for not doing her fair share of work or not being a team player? Nope. Quite the opposite. She was in trouble because she lifted a table. The chaperone told Jane it was more proper for her carry something small like the radio prop. She reminded her to act like a lady and told her it was not “the Southern way” for her to lift a table (despite the fact that it was lightweight and easy to carry.) That’s a man’s job.

Jane emailed me because she was so shocked and confused by this comment. I was not. 

The idea of “the Southern way” is something that, as a feminist born and bred in Birmingham, I grapple with often. Many women, including most of my friends, proudly proclaim that they’re old fashioned. That not only means that men are required to do heavy lifting but my friends also consider it unladylike to approach or actively pursue a love interest. I respect their opinions, but I simply don’t agree.

Now I’m not saying that these friends are somehow “bad feminists” because they want to be courted old school style, nor am I saying you should walk around wearing a T-shirt that says “Please date me!” But I believe women should have some sense of control in their romantic relationships and for me that means being assertive. I’ve been this way ever since I was Jane’s age. If I met a cute boy at a dance party and he asked if he could have my telephone number I’d say “No, but I’ll take yours.” I wasn’t about to be the girl sitting at home by the phone waiting for him to call.

I know what you’re thinking. When you’re aggressive in a relationship or moving around furniture by yourself you’re not “letting the man be the man.” That’s probably my least favorite phrase in the English language. Seriously. That phrase and the way it is so often used imply that manhood is somehow defined by the ability to control a woman. Now I know that people who use that phrase don’t see it that way, but if we truly unpack that phrase we’ll uncover some not-so-pretty truths.

So I’m out to redefine things like “let the man be the man.”

When I’m trying to open a jar of Ragu I hand it to my husband not so he can flex his biceps and show me how much of a man he is, but because he’s stronger than I am. It’s practical. If after a few weeks of Body Pump I’m strong enough to open the jar myself he’s not going to suddenly be emasculated by that act.

I let my man be a man by honoring him and I do this by respecting his opinions, supporting his dreams, and being there for him when he needs me. And he lets me be a woman by doing those same things for me. For us, that’s the new Southern way.  

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Friday, March 16, 2012

Another work week is almost officially in the books. Here's some music to help you wrap up Friday as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Edward remembers when mainstream female rappers were talented.

Foxy Brown, Ill Na Na (1996)

Edd said: Remember when Lil Kim and Foxy Brown were simultaneously reinventing (for better or worse) the role of female MC? I preferred Kim as an artist but I always thought Foxy had the better debut album. Pointless beefs and ghetto drama have dragged down her career over the past decade but there is no denying how great she once was.

Also check out:
"Ill Na Na"

Javacia is rocking out to her favorite girl group.

TLC, FanMail (1999)

Jai said: From the futuristic sounds of the title track to the empowering message of "Unpretty" to the edgy lyrics of "I'm Good at Being Bad," TLC continued to be true innovators with the release of their third album. "No Scrubs" was the stand out hit of this release, but in my opinion doesn't even compare to the other incredible tracks on this record.

Also check out:
"If They Knew"
"Silly Ho"

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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