Tag Archive: music


Okay, Mr. Illuminati: Part 3

As of recent, out of complete curiosity, I decided to follow the music industry tag on Tumblr. Some of it is good but wow, there’s been an uptick in “I saw so-and-so with the devil” type accusations of Illuminati connections as of recent. Stuff like this:

Ok, Mr Illum Ex-1

Ok, Mr Illum Ex-2

I swear, people have such a limited concept of how fame and the music industry works. The entertainment industry too but we’re focusing on how folks are confused on the on-goings of the music industry. I think the twinge for me is that, as aforementioned in the original “Okay, Mr. Illuminati” and “Okay, Mr. Illuminati: Redux“, I have friends in professional music and in the occult and let me tell you, the two never overlap.

Alright, let’s start from the top of why worldwide success does not mean you joined some secret society that dispersed back in the 1800s. The music industry, as some of you could believe, is remarkably hard to get into and very, very easy to never get as so much as a nick of notoriety, regardless how much time, effort and money you put into it. Given the industry (and its outdated ways) like to hype up to about 10 different people and leave the rest to float for themselves practically, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that some artists have much more stage and media time than others. However, this is due to a lot of people that you don’t see, the managers, the board members discussing who’s numbers are doing well and who’s numbers are slipping, the execs who decide which albums go on the shelf if certain changes won’t be made and who will get the okay no matter what. There are no evil sorcerers or warlocks or whatever have you killing goats and chatting it up with the devil just so Beyonce’s album can sell well. That’s really ridiculous.

I’ve already defined the Illuminati in previous posts as defined by Watkins’ Dictionary of Magic. So you can read up there but you can also read the book International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders which, if not available in your local library, you can order online because holy gods, the stuff people come up with shows that there’s a lot of misinformed (and scared yet dimwitted) people. Usually, I’m glad to hear some creativity but assuming who is part of some secret handshake club is one place where it is brutally misapplied! The book International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies and Fraternal Orders really goes in further depth about Illuminati and other secret societies to put all your conspiracy fears to rest. Seriously, go read!

Alright, moving right along!

As I said prior, I have friends in the music industry and I have friends in occult fields, including secret societies. The two NEVER overlap. Ever. At all. Not under any circumstances. Never. Ever. Evvvvvvvvvvvvvvvver. Not ever.

If that happened, there would be folks having heart attacks all around because my music friends would freak the hell out since this stuff spooks them too. Legit terrifies them. The music friends I already have are already squicked out by the magick stuff considerably. It’s a non-topic when I’m around them. The most I mention is “My Yule/Winter Solstice was nice, how was your Christmas?” and even that is pushing it! Good Gods, I get texted heavy duty bible quotes and Christian prayers that are familiar to what my Grandma would probably memorize from multiple music friends, no metaphysical chicanery happening here. One music person I know is currently on Henny Penny mode after asking his Siri about July 27 and it responding that it is when the Gates of Hades will open and he took “Hades” for “Hell”. Here’s hoping he won’t shovel out a bunker and start shouting about how the end of times is nigh while stockpiling on survivalist guides and canned foods. There’s little room for any magick and occult among my music friends. Some still believe the Boondocks’ wildly inaccurate version of the history of Christmas. With the rest of my music friends that don’t go on high alert around Halloween, they really don’t care. If it has nothing to do with them personally or requires waaaaaay more work than what already being in the music business entails (which is recording, writing and performing), they mainly give nary a whit about it. That includes secret societies.

And this is my music friends. Oh man, my occultist friends would freeeeeeaaaaaak out if someone remotely famous came to their meetings. I’d prolly be the first to hear because while my friends in that group are great at keeping rituals secret, let Jay-Z or Lady Gaga show up, all they would do is squawk. Still keep it silent about rituals and stuff, of course, but squawk like a parrot on a loudspeaker about their brush with fame. They’re not used to interacting with high-visibility music folks like me and trust, it would show. I know this. People in secret societies are pretty normal and thus are also prone to being star struck. My friends wouldn’t communicate secrets, they would be too horrifically bashful and incoherent to make it happen. Or ask a million and three questions about the music and become that annoying, over-doting fan. Even if the musician asked for the secrets of that order, it still wouldn’t happen because of the fangirling/fanboying.

Dude, I could totally see this happening:

Version 1
Me: Dude, we’re gonna meet [random hi-vis musician], try to be cool about it.
Secret Society Friend: Ey, they’re people. I get it. They’re just like you and me.
[Random hi-vis musician]: Hi, I –
SSF: OH GAWD. I JUST- YOU’RE – FDAGOFUDA
Me: You said you were gonna be cool about this!
SSF: YOU’RE [RH-VM]! YOU’RE [RH-VM]! DID YOU KNOW YOU WERE [RH-VM]?!
SSF: [hides behind me]
SSF: [whispers] I think you’re awesome.

Version 2
[RH-VM]: I heard you were in a secret order or something. So how would I join? What are the secrets to fame, money and adoration?
SSF: [thoroughly riveted to the spot]*Mumbles incoherently*
[RH-VM]: Did you hear me?
SSF: I HAVE FEELZ, OKAY?! YOUR RECORD. GAVE. ME. FEELINGS. FEELZ. I HAVE TO EXPRESS MY FEELZ.
[RH-VM]: What?
SSF: YOUR ALBUM…I HAD NO FEELZ. THEN I HEARD YOUR ALBUM…NOW I HAVE FEELZ. YOU HAVE GIVEN ME FEELZ. Y U DO DIS? I HAVE TOO MANY FEELZ, NAO. MY FEELZ, THE FIRST: WHEN YOU MADE –
Me: And now it’s time for my friend to go, I told them they had to be on their best behavior when backstage and now they’re foaming at the mouth. Did you really think they were gonna be calm? Just sell cds, do well on Soundscan and read your contract, there ya go. Secrets. Should have already known this by now.

Seriously, that’s how it would go down. No secret handshakes or incredible information. Just one person having a psychobilly freakout moment meeting someone they’ve only seen on their tv or on the cover of a magazine. It would be ridiculous to assume otherwise. Nothing outrageous or ominous would occur. No matter what, people are very much not the cardboard cutout stereotypes that movies and media would like to paint them as and that includes occultists. Besides, I would be major surprised if any of my music friends were doing occultist stuff just to generate fame and fortune on the sneak tip.

Actually, I can imagine that, too:

Me: [Enter dressing room] Ey, dude, I got my pictures from earlier today. You want me to send them to your phone or email…them….what are you doing?
Music buddy: [sitting on floor in full ritual regalia, complete with wand, drawn circle, everything] Shut the door! You can’t knock?!
Me: Fine, sure! What are you trying to do? Did you see The Craft or something?
MB: I’m trying to make sure I have a good show tonight and keep my album sales up so I’m studying occultism. I’m joining the Illuminati. I gotta get up there somehow. Beyonce’s doin’ real well, I – stop laughing!
Me: I’m dyin’! Ha! Seriously? You not prankin’ me about my religion? Some of this stuff looks expensive to prank people with.
MB: No! I’m really tryin’ to summon a spirit to give me a good show and keep my sales up. Why you think this is funny? You’re ruining the ritual! I thought you were a witch!
Me: Are your sales that bad? Geez. Is the tour underwater like that? Why aren’t you talking to your lawyers about that instead of summoning – is that a cat?
MB: …Yes.
Me: … Why do you have a caged cat? Are you about to kill that cat? You know how I feel about animal abuse, right?
MB: I’m tryin’ to summon somethi-
Me: Oh my gods, you tryin’ to kill that cat ‘cuz you can’t sell a record or some tickets? No. You not. I’m takin’ the kitty. Fluffy don’t need to pay just ‘cuz you selling wood in record sales, apparently. What Illuminati gonna let you just kill animals, you dingbat!
MB: You’re ruining my ritual! I read on the internet that you gotta have a sacrifice –
Me: Who are you sacrificing a cat to? And why a full blown ritual now? You know these things take about 45 minutes at least. You have soundcheck! Wait, have you had soundcheck yet?
MB: Gimme the cat, I thought you’d be understanding! I gotta sacrifice it to Beezlebub so I can –
Me: WHAT? Oh my gods, you ain’t makin’ any sense and now you’re trying to murder animals. Illuminati was about illumination of the mind as based on the Christian bible. It was about enlightenment, fool! They believed it could be achieved through the arts and sciences in addition to devout Christian practice. Why would they focus on devils and demons if that’s what they’re trying to not focus on? It was started by a Bavarian law professor centuries ago, they’re not even around! I’m takin’ the cat, dude.
MB: What about my show?!
Me: Have a prayer circle for a good show like everyone else does! And do your soundcheck instead of havin’ ritual! Wait… Have you been killing animals regularly? Dude, are you turning into Tony Jaa?
MB: I just –
Me: Dude, no. I’m about to go CNN about this. Get a therapist, talk to your label about why you not sellin’ well, talk to your tour guy about why your shows make you so insecure that you’re murdering defenseless animals in your dressing room and get a press packet done up for all the animal rights people that are about to get on your case!

Yep. That’s most likely would happen. That’s why I’m glad that the two are deftly separated.

So, in case you’re still mentally lagging: fame ≠ Illuminati or any other secret society. The music industry and the occult are two very different things. You don’t need one to have the other. There are a lot of reasons why some rocket to fame and some don’t. Look at documentaries or interviews about how A&R and Artist Management works and how the music business is doing. There are some really good ones out there, I even found a few on Tumblr under the music industry tag. And I assure you, they won’t talk about secret societies or anything of the sort. Because they aren’t a part of any. If any musician was trying to be like Y. B. Yates or William Blake, that’s more so for their own personal reason, not for their professional career. Even professional musicians have personal lives. Watch this awesome video of Jeff Fester, A&R of Jive Records, he details a pretty good bit of how the industry realistically works.

I’ve been busy, busy, busy this week. That means short films!

The Roper

I saw this at Artscape during their short films. It was very captivating for me and really cool to see a Black cowboy in action doing what he loves. The second song beginning with accordion is absolutely poppin, too.

Electronic Purgatory

If you have seen the Afro-Punk Documentary (and by the way, Afro-Punk Festival is this weekend. I won’t be there though), then you’ll love this. It’s about the Black rocker, the history of rock and why s/he does not receive the shine they deserve.

Children

This fantastic animated short film is brilliantly made about how schooling does not exactly breed thinkers and intellectuals but can be more of a crushing institution that can apply enough pressure to make one pop.

That’s all for this week! Next week is Ask Black Witch! Remember, good questions are appreciate, bad questions are eviscerated!

Here is The Arts! that I should have made last month but was too sick to do.

Merlin’s Realm/Red Oak Wands

I have been looking for this wand for years. I first saw it at Mystickal Voyage, a now gone metaphysical shop and it was such a lovely looking wand I had ever seen, and I’m not even really the type that does wand magick. I usually prefer hand magick but these were so stunning, I thought about getting one. Seriously, look at it!
red oak wand

I love its streamline shape from pure wood that still reflects the natural knobbliness of wood but isn’t some usual “rock tied to a stick and sold for a fortune” that is usually spotted practically everywhere wands are sold. And the copper wiring holds down the stone so beautifully. It’s not over done, it helps streamline the energy and the stones picked are fantastically displayed.

I managed to snatch up one of of the few Ironwood wands left (I think there’s only two Ironwood wands left) and the package it is sent in is fantastic. You get a guide on how to take care of the wand, it is shipped very securely and it is simply worth the price, which is quite minimal. If any witch or magick practitioner wants a wand, I highly recommend these guys. Plus, as of this writing, they’re having a sale too on all their wands, including their Ironwoods. Also they have other things besides red oak wands such as staffs, pendants, various styled wands and more!

Website

Smooth E

This comedian has kept me laughing for years with his parody comedies and stand ups. Usually I don’t watch parody music videos because they seem to be nothing but potshots at the original performers and since a lot of pop artists are Black, there are stereotype potshots usually being made, too. What I like about Smooth E is that he puts himself in the parody and avoid the potshot to the original performers. Even when the performers are the subject of his parody (such as “Milli Vanilli”, as posted below), he keeps it clean. That, everyone, is how you perform a good parody. A good comedian should make everyone laugh, not just a select group of people at the expense of another.

One of my favorites is, actually, Milli Vanilli. Again, note how although Milli Vanilli is the main subject of this parody, there are no wicked remarks and low blows and o hai, he managed to seamlessly parody Lil Wayne without touching a can of brown paint. We could still tell it was Lil Wayne through his gait, iconic looks and even voice and it was a mock on only Lil Wayne and the rapper alone, not the fact that he’s Black or anything else that would be making fun of what he is and not who. And the result? A hilarious parody.

I also like his song “Psycho” because it’s so hilarious. A day or so late for Valentine’s but ‘eh, no1curr.

One of his more recent works is with LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem”, renamed to “Baldilocks Anthem”. It’s really well done and funny!

And to finish it off because I have got to show it, “I Can’t Afford It”, it’s hilarious!

Youtube channel
Website
Twitter
Facebook fanpage

Nikki Lynette
I came across her music on Afro-Punk years ago, which does come to show that despite sometimes AP can grate my nerves just a tad, they are very useful in showing a part of Black culture that even Black media wouldn’t touch itself.

The video that struck me most was “The Beautiful People”, which her rendition from Marylin Manson’s song of the same name (which I love).

Now, watching her music vids, though as dynamic as they were, didn’t really pull me in as much as her vids about herself, which were funny, well made and made you learn more about the artist as a person than simply something that talks into mics and such. She actually lets herself become a pictured as a person instead of a product, which is great because it give her the appearance of being hard working and down to earth rather than the usual, “Yo, I’m an artist. All I do is grind. Make ‘dat paper, get that flow, y’know?” which is boring and still constructs the artist as just a product (poorly) instead as the multidimensional person they actually are. Which can enhance the product by allowing such a personal insight.

The series is called “The Other Nikki” and here’s ep. 1

It is incredibly humorous, I recommend watching them all. You’ll probably want to anyways.

Nikki Lynette came from Chicago and, just like me, saw a lot of very problematic things in her life which effected her. I can really connect with that and pretty much convinced me to welp, be in touch with her because huzzah, someone who understands. (Which is how me and my wack social self works: Me hear music → Me like music → Me find out musician is amiable and relateable → Me talk to musician, turns out they’re not a douche and still amiable and relatable → Me goes into “Zomgz, cn we b frandz?!” mode. Yep.) A really good vid she did was “Live and Let Die”

If you would like to listen to her music, go to her website where there are mixtapes, more videos and also she is coming out with a new album titled “Respect My Disrespect”. Plus she writes neat articles for RedEye, which are really cool. I really like the piece she recently wrote about her experience going to the Grammys for the first time and how they really work from voting to the live show.

Website
Twitter: @nikkilynette
FB fan page
Youtube

What Are You Doing Here? Black Women in Metal

I’m late, I know, but I still want to post this neato book up for those who don’t know about it. What Are You Doing Here? is a book written by Laina Dawes about Black women in Metal.

This is the cover, which is really neat and I think that’s Alexis from Straight Line Stitch.

what are you doing here

Ms. Dawes expresses what the book is about perfectly:

“I wanted to find other black women like me: metal, hardcore, and punk fans and musicians that were rabid about the music and culture and adamant about asserting their rightful place as black women within those scenes. I wanted to find other women who put aside the cultural baggage that dictates that we must listen to certain musical styles, and simply enjoy the music that influenced us, not just as black women, but as individuals who grew up in an era when, thanks to technology, a large variety of music is accessible and available to everyone. I found many black women and have shared their stories, but I also realize there is still a lot of work to be done.”

The foreword is penned by Skin of Skunk Anansie and I highly recommend everyone get themselves a copy. Buy from Bazillion Points and you’ll get a signed copy with a neat little button to come with your book.

Website/Store
Twitter: @lainad

And that’s all for The Arts! for this month and next week is Ask Black Witch. Please send me your questions now! Remember: good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

Also, March is the start of a new Black Witch month long series. It was a tie between the subject of mental illness, creativity and society and sex and sexuality but I feel its best the mental illness subject will be next year. More on this next week, just send in your questions!

Ask Black Witch: Off Day

No questions this month so that leaves me open to talk about whatever. I’m feelin better, no more cold but I do have a lingering cough which is going away so yay!

Now, I have free space but I don’t feel like rambling about anything. I’ll answer some derp questions. Naaaaaaaaaaaaah. I had a good time at Janelle Monae’s Inauguration Party earlier this week so I’mma do some music!

Here is some Deep Cotton, “We’re Far Enough from Heaven, Now We Can Freak Out”

And here is a song that Janelle Monae’s guitarist and my good friend Kellindo collab’d on, “Uhuru”, produced by Lance Powlis.

Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaay! I’m not a party person but it was really fun!

BW: Sick Day

So. I’m sick. Been sick with a head cold since Saturday. That means delayed posting so expect the new post between now and Sunday. To tide y’all over, watch this vid of my friend Gurpreet making to Hollywood on American Idol (yes, I have my opinions on singing show but right now A) too sick to care B) part of being a good friend is knowing when not to be a buzzkill)

It’s the holidays! Huzzah, happy Yule! Buy stuff from the BW Gift Shoppe (Use the 25% coupon: ThankYou25)!  Let’s get into it!

Christmas Battle: KRS-One x Lupe Fiasco

Too cute! Found this on Mike Shinoda’s blog and now played it since BW has begun!

W00t!

And here’s some omake: DMX singing “Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer”. I was waiting for one of these.

Rolling Jubilee

Being in debt sucks. Occupy has adopted a new strategy about this: buy up the debt and abolish it! Right now they have scratched off medical debts, credit card debts (I wonder when they’ll get to student debt) and decided to make many seasons bright for countless Americans. Please support them in their endeavors as they wipe countless slates clean.

Rolling Jubilee

Strike Debt

EddsWorld

I have watched Eddworld for years, it’s a fantastic series! It’s truly a shame that the show’s creator, Edd Gould, has passed away due to leukemia. The last short he made was Space Case but he couldn’t complete part 2 fully due to his passing but his friends pulled it through

I have many personal favorites. I really liked “Matt Sucks”

They also make film shorts. The one I like most is “Ambulance”

Subcribe to EddsWorld, fill your world with teh happy.

And that’s Black Witch for this week. Next week is Ask Black Witch so send in your questions! Tweet them, email them, use the submission form, ask on Tumblr, just get them in! And remember, good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. Get em in!

Bea Gaddy
Every year I feature Bea Gaddy because she is such a great woman and around this time of year is the annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless and poor which she started.

Although known as the Mother Teresa of Baltimore, Bea Gaddy is originally from Wake Forest, North Carolina. Born in 1933, she and her family suffered from the strains of the Great Depression and domestic violence. Her alcoholic father would toss her and her brother out of the house consistently, leaving them to scrounge for food in garbage bins behind various grocery stores, and her mother lived in fear of being beaten.

Bea Gaddy couldn’t really escape her bleak reality until she married her first husband simply so she could leave home. Gaddy remarked that he was “good but without means or dreams” and though this man was a way out, it also became a trap for worse living. They moved up to New York City where they lived on welfare and move monthly because they could not make rent payments. Sadly, Gaddy’s husband was killed by an acquaintance and this left her in a further dark situation. Once, she simply abandoned an apartment because she knew the sheriff was going to throw her out and cast her belongings onto the street.

By her mid-twenties, Gaddy had already been married twice and was a single mom to her five kids. She came to Baltimore through finding a longtime friend from North Carolina who lived there. Working countless jobs to keep her children fed, she would come across Bernard Potts, a local attorney and business and wait in his office to warm up in the chilly weather. Potts saw potential in Gaddy and wanted her to finish her high school education so she could get a college degree and do more for herself, which she did. She enrolled at Catonsville Community College taking in mental health classes and finished up with a Bachelors of Arts in Human Services from Antioch University.

In the 1980s, Bea Gaddy used the pain she endured all her life and the recent successes to help those around her. Though she was very poor still, she would try to feed her neighbors as well as her own family. She started with simply asking store owners for leftover food and due to the overwhelming success, she started to use a garbage can to collect food from local vendors. Things truly took a turn for the better when Bea Gaddy used fifty cents she found to buy a lottery ticket that turned out to be be a winner for $290. She used this money to feed 39 of her neighbors, which started her emergency relief work in Baltimore.

Bea Gaddy chose to help the homeless and poor because of her own personal experiences of the feelings of humiliation and self-worthlessness that accompanies poverty and homelessness. “Hunger was my constant childhood companion,” she remarked. In 1981, Bea Gaddy opened the Patterson Park Emergency Food Center, which feeds between 50-150 people and since 1981, over 100,000 families have been fed.

The most outstanding event that Bea Gaddy would be remembered for is her Thanksgiving dinners. Just like her other works, the Thanksgiving Dinners rely on donations and volunteers and once was carried out in her home. Once it got bigger, the event had to be moved to Dunbar Middle School. It still continues to this very day.

Besides creating the Emergency Food Center and the yearly Thanksgiving dinners, Bea Gaddy also was involved in running a furniture bank, renovating and refurbishing abandoned row homes, running summer youth programs and was a vocal supporter of voter education. Shortly before her death, Bea Gaddy became an ordained minister so that she could marry and bury the poor at no cost to them. Her home, which ran all these operations, worked under the name of the “Bea Gaddy Center for Women and Children”.

Bea Gaddy has done so much to aid the people of Baltimore , even far more than the people who run it. She is a stunning person, simply who selflessly gave. If you want to read more about Bea Gaddy’s story, click here. If you would like to visit or donate to the Bea Gaddy Center, click here. Here is her listing in the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame.

Straight Line Stitch
Yay, SLS! It’s always great to feature Straight Line Stitch, a metal band that I first learned about on Afro-Punk. Although Straight Line Stitch has been around since 2000, we’re mainly focusing on SLS since lead vocalist Alexis Brown, which is around 2003.

I really like this band, it’s perhaps one of the only other metal band that I have taken a strong liking to, besides Blindside. There’s a Black female lead vocalist, their sound doesn’t hinge on that as a gimmick and their music videos are fantastic.

Check out the video, “Black Veil”. I love the headbanging, the braids Alexis wears just adds a fiery look to it all.

The first video that I saw them in was “Conversion”, I really like the video, especially the imagery of the child watching the television and the dynamic with the riot officer.

An older video that I have recently seen, “What You Do To Me” which is very good, I highly recommend you see it.

If you want to see more SLS:

Straight Line Stitch Facebook (/straightlinestitch)
Straight Line Stitch Twitter (@SLSBand1)
Straight Line Stitch MySpace (/straightlinestitch)

Zen Writer
November is National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. Through Tumblr I have learned of a text editor called Zen Writer. It allows the writer to be immersed in a creative world filled with simple, soothing backgrounds, gentle music and even the sound of the typed letters can be customized. Check out the sample below:

Using it myself, I found it to be very relaxing and easy to write creative works on because the customizable atmosphere that can fit pretty much any writer. There’s no annoying squiggle lines of spell check (it’s a button on the side), the fonts are engaging and all that is presented is a blank slate with a stunning background.

Check it out for yourself here

Welp, that’s all the Black Witch for this week. Next week is Ask Black Witch, get your questions sent in using the “Contact Me” page or ABW Submission Forum on the side of the site. Remember, good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated!

Tomorrow is the Afro-Punk Festival! Huzzah! I haz excite!

Janelle Monae

Who I am most excited to see is of course Janelle Monae. I love her music, I can hang with my friends Kellindo and Nastassia, all is spiffy all around. And did you know she recently became the new spokesmodel for CoverGirl? Here’s the video for that:

Ain’t it neat? She is very adorbs! Also she is coming out with a new album called “Electric Lady”  Annnnd here is a performance of “Electric Lady”

Straight Line Stitch

Aw man, I automatically liked them because there’s a Black lead vocalist and they’re metal so it’s ultra rare. Their music is great! Alexis, the lead vocalist, is super nice and so is the rest of the band when I had the opportunity to interview them for Afro-Punk. This time I shall not be as derpy as all get out.

I really like their music video “Conversion”

“Black Veil” is ridiculously outstanding, and has been the best use of braids for headbanging, ever.

Erykah Badu

Dude. Dooooooooooooooooood. Everybody grew up to Badu on the radio. She a Black music staple and a legend. This is the first time in my life I’m really seeing her and it’s not through a medium such as the radio or a magazine cover. I still remember hearing the song “Tyrone” back in middle school.

Lupe Fiasco

Now, that’s outta the way I’mma feature Lupe Fiasco’s newest video, “B*tch Bad”.

Now, I have words about this. This vid is probably why Lupe will possibly be the only well-known emcee I actually like. Look at the site for the video! I’m very happy with the video, absolutely ecstatic. It’s no secret that Black Witch leans heavy towards womanism/feminism. I wouldn’t feature some of the works I have such as Busty Girl Comics or writing the piece I did about sexuality if I didn’t strongly feel that gender equality is important. I mean, Ida B. Wells is my hero, much more than Susan B. Anthony ever will – dude, Wells stunted heavy on Anthony when it came to race and women’s rights. To hear a rapper – a Black, well-known, male rapper who was raised in the hood – to speak actual womanism*, to actually go, “Eeeh, there’s something very wrong with this picture. Lemme illustrate,” and do a good job at that is exceedingly rare. Nas has tried but even he has dropped the ball through the floor a few times and occasionally left it there whereas Lupe has been rocking it like nothing at all. Lupe did show me that not all rappers are interested in being the 21st century Mantan after all with just his first album Food and Liquor (oh, and F&L II is due out in September) so I knew that this was going to be good. And it was.

Lupe is very much on the right track with this video because mainstream hip hop has this thing about women that is pretty degrading, which does in turn speak on itself. The video displays what can be easily described internalized racism that are traced from pretty bigoted theories that date back to the 1800s – wait, no further than that, 1600s – that does affect the freedom of sexuality and self perception that Black Women still don’t really have today. I mean, the video vixen is just the late 20th/21st century reboot of the Jezebel/Jungle Bunny stereotype.  Slave masters used that stereotype to justify raping their female slaves: that they’re already hypersexual creatures so it doesn’t count as rape and since they’re not really people, it’s not really cheating on the wife, who is going to unleash her own special hell on the Black female slave for being a “threat” even though she isn’t really a threat, more like a captive victim in a very jacked up situation. Colonizers did the same, believing it would render what they’re doing as having harmless fun. Internalized racism means that the Black woman is seen through a hypersexualized lens, regardless if she is Mrs. Obama, Gabby Douglas, the random lady walking down the street going to the market, etc etc. The assumption is that that the Black woman or girl in question is overly kinky, not really a person and her buxom body isn’t that way because of genetics but because she’s a natural slut (and if she doesn’t have one, just imagine it or say she’s not “Black enough”), she’s got to have it and she won’t be vanilla about it. This idea is mega amplified in mainstream hip hop through the video vixen, the woman who is supposed to represent a female body but objectified. She can be a teacher, doctor, nurse, politician, anything but operates on “rap music video logic” in that she’s somehow always horny and it’s usually due to the rapper, or simply because men exist period, even if the woman was gay (which is another trope, the lesbianism trope). According to this logic as well, a mini skirt or booty shorts means the woman is an avid kinkster and she’s giving automatic sexual consent – y’know, like how Travyon totally showed automatic racial consent to Zimmerman about being stalked and murdered through his hoodie.

The hypersexualizedtrope is problematic because of the basic saying, “You can’t be it if you don’t see it” and if your image and self-perception is related to your sexuality constantly and not within your control at all (the Jezebel stereotype wasn’t created by Black women), it forces Black men and women who simply just wanted to watch media that featured them and not White people for once to consume and believe these hateful and minstrel stereotypes. And trust me, they are minstrelsy at their finest, hence why Lupe Fiasco put it in the video.

Ah, the minstrel show. White readers, this is one of the reasons why minorities get rightfully pissed, rightfully fast when your folks think slathering tanning lotion or motor oil on their face and a curly wig on their head is a good idea. Everyone else, this is why we ought to be rightfully pissed, rightfully fast when Whites think Brown/Black/Yellow/Redface is a good idea, especially for movies. The Spike Lee movie Bamboozled is about minstrelsy and how the effects still live on today, it’s similar to “B*tch Bad” so if Lupe got you scratching your head, I highly recommend that movie.  For those who are familiar with the minstrel show, you can see it soooooooooooo vividly in mainstream rap. Good god, it’s so vivid. Even Nas pointed that out in a parody rap video starring rap duo Shuck and Jive.

So, you could see it coming heavy in “B*tch Bad”. Why, the chain the rapper is wearing, if you look closely, is a minstrel blackface character. It’s all so similar to how the mainstream rapper and the women around it are depicted. How they pose is similar, act is similar, dress (in accordance to the times) is similar, everything is so similar, you sometimes wonder if a Klansman is running all this. At least see a little “Paid by Mitt Romney for President” stamped on there somewhere. I mean, geez. And this is for a genre of music that is so strongly defined as “Black Music”, like rock is supposed to be “White music” though Blacks created that genre too.  You could google “Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers” – man, just trace the history of Rock back and you’re going to run into us. This also shows the racial alignment of musical genre is problematic in itself.

Music is a pretty big deal because you can learn about different cultures and perspectives that way. Hip hop was supposed to be the verbal newspaper of the people, so to speak. It was the only way to talk about what was actually going on in the hood because our voices are so heavily marginalized in media. We’re not all fatherless gang bangers on the fast track to the jailhouse because we don’t know no better due to not listening to White folk. Nope, that’s not the case at all, I can attest that from personal experience and so can Lupe. We’re living proof, if anything. Hip hop gave us a voice, theeeeeeeen record execs got to the genre. Rough on their White cultured ears, they figured they could package all that Black rage, shine it up pretty , insert Black stereotypical plots so it can be “crossover friendly” like drug wars and broken homes and all they have to do is sit back, collect checks. Granted, that’s pretty different from what usually happens, which is when Black folks create a genre of music, White folks like it but know they’d like it better without the negroes in it, apply White-Out and out comes a genre that looks removed from its roots. Examples: Rock, blues, jazz, pretty much whatever we get our hands on and sounds good. With hip hop, it’s too strongly Black. Very hard to White-Out, the Blackness would still bleed through. Since kids in the hood are already looking like the bad kids that America was so busy telling everyone about, why not just make them stereotypical so it would be easier to sell to the wider (and Whiter) audience? White kids don’t want to hear about how they’re oppressing and ruining lives of children in the hood through their privilege, nah, they want something like The Arabian Nights where in some off distant place is the Hood, where there’s fast money, fast women, fast living. To feel so “gangsta” though having zero idea what that means and that it’s not a very cheery thing to experience while growing up. At all. And this is hip hop, which rap is a part of, displaying a fragment of Black culture and that fragment wrought through every super racist idea that the Western world has about us and then displayed as if this is all the culture is and has to offer, not just hip hop itself. In turn, this is consumed by everyone, Black, White, Latin, Asian, everyone, and creates a cycle where people, namely Blacks, become what they see because it’s almost they only thing they can see which stars them and thus consume it. The cycle for everyone else is that it fuels their culturally-induced belief that this is actually how Black people are and thus justifies their racism and fear. So here you have a race acting out because someone who looked like them for once was doing it and all these other races who are believing they are not at all wayward in their thinking because look! They really are like that! Wow, what porch monkeys, the other races think and express.

Yeah, you can see how problematic that is. I mean, a 17 year old armed with only snack foods is dead because of this cycle. Zimmerman was fed all his life through media and his experience that Black is evil so even a harmless kid with snack foods seemed like a King Kong threat. And that’s ignoring the fact Trayvon also consumed some of the same media and thus showed that while he was alive. No ,Trayvon wasn’t thinking of being a thug but I can bet that he has acted out some of what he has seen simply because that’s the media he watched, no conscious thinking. So both have experienced pretty racist media painted as general entertainment, consumed it roughly the same but interpreted it differently because of their racial and cultural backgrounds and boom, one is dead and the other is awaiting trial after a chance meeting.

Also, it’s problematic because “Black” music seem so limited in subject matter where as “White” music seems to be about as broad as the ocean when you judge what plays on the radio. “Black” music/mainstream radio stations just talks about guns, drugs, phony oppression and misogyny whereas “White” music/mainstream radio stations seem to be able to talk about that too but among other subjects and is looked on pretty favorably. That pushes the stereotype that Blacks are sub-humans that don’t know anything except how to rape/have sex with everything in sight, how to only be violent about base matters and not have significant thought forms whereas Whites are simply well-rounded and fully developed human beings perfectly capable of complex thought and theory.

Lupe Fiasco’s video “B*tch Bad” is a video very sorely needed because honestly, this kind of nonsense needs to stop. I left hip hop a long time ago because of it, it’s simply offensive when it says it’s the voice of the Black people when really it’s just the voice of straight Black misogynists. Misogyny, and hypermasculinity as a whole, is bad for everyone all around because how can there be solidarity if I can’t even be respected as a human being? It makes the concept of Black solidarity seem incredibly fake and an absolute joke. I mean, it sounds like a good idea, can’t wait to see it applied but it never will if Black women aren’t seen as equals and if we keep practicing the same tropes just to save media execs money on the burnt cork.

 

Next week is Ask Black Witch! If you have questions, please send them in!

Ask Black Witch Submission Form

There are various ways to ask a question besides the submission form, just send them before next Friday. Good questions are appreciated, bad questions are eviscerated. See you at the Festival!

*Womanism is feminism with the more realistic intersections of race and class included.

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