Clay Cane is a New York City-based writer who is recognized for his contributions in journalism. Clay is a regular contributor for various print and online publications such as The Advocate and BET.com. He is the author of the highly anticipated novel Ball-Shaped World, which is a fictionalized account of the black and Latino ballroom scene. Also, he is the Entertainment Editor at BET.com and a member of New York Film Critics Online. He can be reached at claycane@gmail.com.


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    Friday, May 30, 2008

    Sex and the City is in theaters today and New York City is on fire. All of the wannabe Carrie Bradshaws are buying their tickets in advance—of course they don't want to admit they are actually more of a Samantha... these tramps kill me saying, "I'm Carrie!"

    So are you looking forward to Sex and the City?

    I've had some conversations with people who are anti the show mainly because it's based in Manhattan and you rarely see black people. I normally ask—well, have you ever watched a couple episodes? The answer is usually, “No!” For some reason, the lack of black folks on the show never bothered me. These are four rich white women, who live in an insular world; actually, if they had a token black friend I think I would be more offended. Also, if I didn't watch a show or see a movie because of the lack of black folks -- I would be limited to Tyler Perry movies and former UPN shows!

    New York is actually a very segregated city. While we have all different types of folks here, most New Yorkers stick to their group, especially based on class.

    Originally, I wasn't a fan of the show until an old friend gave me the DVD a year ago. I said, "I'm not interested in a show that is full of materialism, shallowness and pretty people running around Manhattan. If I want to see a show about four white chicks I would watch The Golden Girls." Honestly, Carrie, Miranda, Samantha, and Charlotte don't want no parts from The Golden Girls!

    After watching one show I was hooked. The writing was excellent, the commentary on relationships was priceless and even though there was too much product placement -- the characters still had soul.

    Who couldn't love Charlotte saying, "I've been dating since I was fifteen! I'm exhausted! Where is he?!"

    Samantha declaring, "I will not be judged by you or society. I will wear whatever—and blow whomever—I want as long as I can breathe and kneel!"

    Miranda Hobbs: "Who would've thought an island that tiny would be big enough to hold all our old boyfriends?"

    And Carrie: "Are we simply romantically challenged, or are we sluts?"

    Well, according to the latest reviews, some are not sold on the movie version, which is "what happens when you find love?" Hasn't there been about a million films with that plot line? Maybe it's just all the box-office poison romantic comedies that Sarah Jessica Parker has starred in since Sex and the City ended. Manohla Dargis described the flick in her New York Times review as, “vulgar, shrill, deeply shallow". Ouch.

    Also, this time around they do throw in a black character. Jennifer Hudson plays Carrie's assistant who comes to New York from St. Louis, "to find love." Ugh. Poor Kelly Rowland got beat out for the role, that girl just can’t get a break! By the way, did you know she re-released Ms. Kelly this past Tuesday?

    So are you going to see Sex and the City or were you never a fan of the show because of the lack of color, excess of labels, or just never gave it a chance?

    Posted by Clay :: 10:55 AM :: 10 comments

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    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    My throwbacks usually go back to the eighties, but I had to celebrate one of the best albums from the nineties, Wild Seed-Wild Flower, and one of my favorite artists of that era, Dionne Farris. What a magnificent artist who was one of few musicians to effectively and accurately combine rock, folk, and R&B. Farris found that unique middle ground with ferocious lyrics and a dynamic voice—way before the term neo-soul was coined.

    The soft-butch diva was originally a member of the group Arrested Development, but after a Diana Ross vs. Mary Wells type battle with the lead, Speech, she left the group. She signed with Sony Records and achieved great success with her 1995 album Wild Seed-Wild Flower and the top 5 Billboard Hot 100 hit, "I Know", which earned her a Grammy nomination. Ironically, "I Know" was the one song Farris did not write on the fifteen-track album.

    Things fell a part with her second album, Signs of Life, when the label had a different creative vision for the project—supposedly they wanted her to go more R&B and she wanted to be more of a fusion. Farris eventually left the label, her music was too important. You know, sometimes I wish artists would swallow a bit of their pride, Lauryn Hill being a great example, and just throw a couple potential singles on an album to shut the labels up. Erkyah Badu does it, “Honey” off her latest album sounds nothing like the rest of tracks. You can only stand by your art so much when a label is investing millions of dollars into you... it's the same thing you have to do at a corporate gig.

    Fast-forward over ten years later Farris released Signs of Life independently and is currently on tour. Nonetheless, I will never forget some of the great music Dionne Farris made in the mid-nineties. Check out some of her greatest songs...

    “Passion” is one of the brilliant songs from Wild Seed-Wild Flower. Rumor had it this song was about Dionne's first experience with a woman, don't know how true it is and I don't know her sexual orientation. Catch the religious imagery with the snake and the apple. “Everything’s so crystal clear; all I needed was time…” Lawd knows that is how I felt!


    ***
    Here is a rare live performance of Dionne singing her most memorable R&B hit, “Hopeless”, which was number one on the Billboard R&B chart for 18 weeks. Also, check out a young Van Hunt on guitar! The song was from the Loves Jones Soundtrack and I think it's terrible it didn't get an Oscar nomination for best song from a film.



    ***
    This is not a well known song, but I encourage everyone to listen to “Food For Thought” in full. It is one of my favorite songs of all time, “Want to lose the negative but all I lose is time… faced with a challenge of knowing right from wrong, having no preference or allegiance to either one.”

    To see what Dionne is currently up to, check out her MySpace page here.

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    Posted by Clay :: 10:15 AM :: 7 comments

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    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    I’ve been taken aback by the scrutiny over Michelle Obama. Reading the ghoulish comments on YouTube are disturbing and never in political history has a candidate's wife been used in a political ad. "Why is there so much venom towards her?" I asked a friend of mine and he said, "Michelle Obama is unmistakably black." He said everything from her appearance to even the way she talks -- that is a black woman.

    I wondered, what if Obama’s family had a little more Halle Berry and less Michelle? No one is debating Michelle's back ground and she isn't a mammy figure (like some critics say Oprah is). Michelle Obama doesn’t represent what people want black women in America to be—America is used to images of black women like Halle Berry, Rihanna, and Beyonce (by no fault of their own). Even with all the deadly Condoleezza Rice mistakes, she is still respected. Is Michelle’s biggest problem being unmistakably black?

    Don't get me wrong, if Obama were married to a white woman that would be more of a problem—the way black women feel about black men dating white women is the same way hetero white men feel, but with angst and the toxic superior male ego. So, it is a necessity for his wife to be a black woman… like a non-threatening episode of The Cosby Show.

    In no ways do I think this is solely about skin tone, a Halle Berry image is just one example. Michelle’s other problem is she is slim, educated, and attractive—a black woman who has a brain and isn’t pandering to whites. If she were fat, stumbled her words and sang "Amazing Grace" before every Barack speech people would love her.

    Still, do you think the potential First Lady would get a better reaction if she were more Halle Berry and less Michelle?

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    Posted by Clay :: 10:02 AM :: 22 comments

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    Friday, May 23, 2008

    Happy Memorial Day, the day where we honor those who have died in military service. While some black folks think Memorial Day is a white thing, what many people do not know about Memorial Day is according to many historians the day was first celebrated "in 1865 by liberated slaves at the historic race track in Charleston, SC." That is one of those tidbits people leave out in history. Here are some details from Samuel Williams, Jr. with the L.A. Watts Times:

    "Many of the Southland’s African American workforce relish Memorial Day as a much-needed day off and the start of a shortened workweek. Little do they know that the holiday finds its roots trenched deep in the annals of black American history.

    According to Yale University history department professor David Blight, the first Memorial Day was actually observed in 1865 by liberated slaves at an historic racetrack in Charleston, S.C.

    The site was previously used as a Confederate prison camp as well as a mass grave for Union soldiers who died while prisoners of war.

    Although the date was not specified, one day, thousands of freed blacks and Union soldiers conducted a parade on the way to the site. Once there, the participants had a picnic and shared in the singing of patriotic songs."

    You know they were doing the cakewalk and singing, "Jimmy crack corn and I don't care,
    Jimmy crack corn and I don't care, 'cause massa's gone away!"

    CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY

    Happy Memorial Day and to everyone in Miami, Mexico, and D.C. -- Lawd please, wrap it up!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 10:05 AM :: 8 comments

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    Thursday, May 22, 2008

    So, I get this random email about a Madonna mixtape. I see the cover (above) and I say, "Oh wow, Madonna is releasing a remix album? Ain't that cute she is trying to appeal to young folks buy calling it a 'mixtape'... mama really needs to stop trying so hard."

    After a few seconds I realized this is a mixtape from a Bronx DJ named The Remix Kid. Much to my surprise this mixtape is HOT! There is no rapping, just Madonna's vocals with a whole new beat. I don't know how old they are (not sure if it's a guy or girl), if they are a Madonna fan, but these are the best remixes of Madonna songs I've heard since her Erotica album CD singles. In the ten tracks they mixed songs like "Deeper & Deeper", "Secret", and "4 Minutes". The mix for "Like A Virgin" is my favorite.

    Mind you, because the cover is so hot, at first I thought it was a release from Warner Bros.!

    Go to http://www.myspace.com/theremixkid to listen and download!

    ***


    hen, we have Nina B., who did a Madonna Tribute Mash-Up. It's mainly her rapping over Madonna's beats and vocals. She does a great version of "Material Girl", which I have been saying for years that a female rapper needs to redo.

    Go to http://www.myspace.com/ninabmusic to listen and download!

    Really is good to see these younger hip-hop kids do something creative and different. I would love to hear similar mixtapes like this for Prince or Janet.

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    Posted by Clay :: 10:00 AM :: 0 comments
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    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Thanks to everyone for submitting questions for Usher and Ashanti, the interviews went well, especially Ashanti and the interviews will come out in the next few weeks.

    Next, I have Michelle Williams, which will complete my Destiny's Child circle. I've had a chance to interview Kelly Rowland, Beyonce and now Michelle Williams. I am loving her new song "We Break The Dawn", check out the video below.

    So if you have a question you always wanted to know, please submit it in the comments. This interview will be for gay press.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 9:29 AM :: 7 comments

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    Tuesday, May 20, 2008

    I remember one of the first times I heard the song by Lee Greenwood, "I'm proud to be an American where at least I know I'm free, And I won't forget the men who died who gave that right to me... and I gladly STAND UP next to you and defend her still today." I was in a sea of white people who were standing with tears in their eyes, hand to their heart and lips trembling. I didn't get it.

    Then, I remember hearing that same song in Philly over my family house's during the holidays. All black folks, Greenwood began singing and someone said, "Turn that shit off and put on Stevie Wonder!" I got it.

    I never understood the term, "I'm proud to be an American." I'm not sure what it means, what it stands for and why people say it.

    Am I proud to be an American? No.

    Am I not proud to be an American? No.

    Would I want to live in the jungles of the Congo? No!

    I am grateful that I have freedom, which really didn’t start for most of my family members till post the 1964 Civil Rights Act and still had challenges. So, when fanatical patriots say, “Pick up and leave if you don’t like it!” Black folks, and I have people in my family history who were slaves, have fought too much to be here—I ain’t going nowhere. For so long "black" and "American" were two different entities.

    I think it's odd to have pride in something that is the elite or the most powerful. Black folks can be proud of being black because black folks have a history of being disempowered. Being “proud of being white”, is peculiar when there isn't a history of oppression... now of course proud of being Irish is much different and widely accepted.

    Same for the gays, saying you are "proud to be gay" (that isn't even something I use) is much different when you don't have equal rights. “Proud to be straight” reeks of homophobia.

    I am not offended when someone is proud to be Jamaican. Hell, you are from the "third world", a colonized nation. But, "proud to be American"? Sure, America was colonized, but I doubt you will hear many Native Americans singing the “I’m proud to be an American" song. Why should I throw in someone's face that I am proud to be from the richest country in the world when they are from extreme poverty?

    What does "American" mean? I pay my taxes, done the things that people "expect" from "hard-working" Americans like finished high school, received my college degree (that I'm still paying for!) and work every day. Do I wear flag pins? God, no, and whenever I see people cloaked in red, white and blue, I assume they are some racist hillbillies who want to hang me up by a tree. Many other black folks have a different relation to "patriotism" -- it's called Jim Crow and slavery.

    It's confusing to me when I see these new ads on Michelle Obama saying for “the first time in my adult life” she is proud of being American. She says she was taken out of context, meaning she is proud of people mobilizing, however, I think many black folks share the sentiment that people think she means. Now, of course, having traveled out of the country, I do see the benefits that we have as Americans. But, it doesn't give me a sense of pride or that America is better than any other country. Furthermore, am I going to give my life for America and fight on the front lines of a war? Hell no!

    Seeing some of the things in this election, I see how different we all are. With the Reverend Wright debacle, it's like white people said, "Oh Lordy! It's just what we suspected -- the blacks want to kill us all!"

    I am not proud to be American, but I do not hate America. I am not a patriot and as a student of history, I do not feel a sense of pride in slave masters like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I think it’s much harder to be “proud to be an American” if you are not white, rich, hetero and Christian.

    There is "something" I'm feeling with Barack Obama. I don't know if it's being "proud". Whatever that "something" is goes away when I see endless loops of Rev. Wright, ads with Michelle Obama (the first time a wife has been used in a political ad), or West Virgina voters saying they would never vote for a black man -- that "something" soon gets overshadowed by that old familiar feeling, if you know what I mean.

    If someone says they are proud of being American it sounds as if they are implicitly saying, "We are proud of what white men who colonized this land did." Proud of being an American is a statement on whiteness. As my friend Larry Lyons told me, "There's no traceable history to celebrate 'whiteness'. Whiteness was a 17th century invention created to unite the disparate array of Europeans bent on colonizing the Americas. There's no culture beyond domination and self-interest."

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 10:13 AM :: 13 comments

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    Monday, May 19, 2008

    While we are easy to honor Dorothy Dandridge, James Brown, and other black greats throughout history, we are quick to forget who many say was the first black superstar, Sammy Davis, Jr.

    This past Friday, May 16th, marked eighteen years since the iconic singer, performer, and tap dancer died of oral cancer. Today, the "Candyman" would've been 82 years-old.

    Davis was a Harlem native and learned how to tap dance as a child from his father who was a vaudeville performer. After enduring violent racism in the Army, he joined an entertainment group and realized "talent is my weapon." Davis released albums, appeared on Broadway, but was soon a member of the legendary Rat Pack, lead by Frank Sinatra. This would be the beginning of massive success and extreme criticism.

    In many ways, Sammy Davis, Jr. was labeled the first "sell-out" in the black community. Many black leaders looked at him as a token in the Rat Pack, mainly because of Sinatra’s racist jabs that were ignored. In addition, after a life-threatening car crash Davis converted to Judaism. Then, there was Davis' controversial marriage to a Swedish white woman in 1960 (interracial marriages were illegal in 31 states at the time). Davis received death threats and was blasted by the black community. In 1968 he divorced and in 1970 remarried a black woman, Altovise Davis, and was married by Reverend Jesse Jackson.

    Davis was a star, crossed-over, but racism was still part of his daily life. For example, the other members of the Rat Pack were allowed to walk through the front door of venues; Davis had to enter through the back. Even in the 1950s when Davis headlined The Frontier Casino in Las Vegas, he was forced to live in a rooming house, wasn't given a dressing room and had to dress by the pool. Once Davis became an international superstar he refused to perform at segregated venues and helped to integrate the Miami Beach nightclubs and Las Vegas casinos.

    Sammy Davis Jr. was extremely political. He was an outspoken voice against the Vietnam War when it was extremely unpopular for "pop stars" to be political, especially someone with his fame. An interesting fact, Davis once told People Magazine about a gay experience he had in the Army. Lawd, if a major black male superstar casually talked about one gay experience, people would have a conniption!

    Andre 3000 of Outkast is supposed to star in the biopic of Sammy Davis, Jr. ... not sure how I feel about that.

    So thanks to Sammy Davis, Jr., who was once called, Mr. Entertainer, for paving the way for so many artists!

    For all those who think Sammy Davis Jr. was just a crooner, didn't have any soul and only appealed to white audiences, check out this performance with Aretha Franklin. The man had soul.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 7 comments

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    Friday, May 16, 2008

    The picture above is a 29 year-old Donna Summer on a 1979 cover of Penthouse.

    I can't tell you how excited I am to be interviewing Donna Summer. She is the first black sex symbol, amazing voice, sound of a generation and an icon. I am just about delirious... last time I felt this way was when I interviewed Patti LaBelle.

    Please submit your questions for Donna Summer in the comments. The diva has a new album coming out, Crayons, on May 20th, which is her first studio album in 17 years. For some of the young folks (I had to convince a 22 year-old yesterday that her name is Donna Summer not "Summers"!), here is an excellent performance of her singing "Last Dance". Keep in mind, without Donna Summer, there would be no Janet or Beyonce. Donna was the first one to incorporate oozing sexuality with talent.

    She rips the vocals on this damn song! Not a note out of place! Plus, she is emoting in that camera -- I love it!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:02 AM :: 24 comments

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    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    Wow, this woman could sang. "Vesta" -- even the name sounds like someone who can blow! While there were many great singers in the sixties and seventies, the late '80s and early '90s was probably the last era of phenomenal singers in black popular music. Nowadays, if a voice like Vesta tried to make a hit song they would say, "Oh, it's just too much. We have to tone that down!" Hell, today, they would have some like Rihanna sing "Congratulations"! With the exception of Fantasia, Christina Aguleria, (yeah, Aguleria is urban to me) and very few others, the vocal powerhouse is a thing of the past.

    The four-octave range diva is originally from Ohio and is supposedly the cousin of Chaka Khan (can anyone confirm?). She scored five top ten singles on the Billboard R&B charts and even sang the theme song to the legendary 1989 mini-series Women of Brewster Place. Vesta was signed to A&M records and released four albums, but 1993's Everything-N-More (post the integration of the Billboard charts) failed to deliver.

    Vesta has released two albums since 1993 but she didn't match the success of her earlier work, which was nearly impossible considering the way the music industry shifted. Nonetheless, Vesta is a voice that cannot be forgotten. Check out her greatest hits.

    "Sweet, Sweet Love" charted at #4 on the R&B charts... now this song is great, but the video is a cackle! All that running and hair swinging on the beach looks like a Summer's Eve commerical!


    ***

    The video for "Congratulations" looks like a comedy skit so I had to show you this live performance. Vesta sang the Billy Goat Gruff out of this song. "Congratulations" was her biggest and most memorable hit, hitting #5 on the R&B charts and marking her only song on the Billboard Hot 100 at #55... by the way, I love a big girl in a bustier -- rhinestones and all!

    ***

    Great interview with Vesta on Video Soul and Donnie Simpson saying how she "blasted" other artists. Does anyone remember who the artists were?

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 9:20 AM :: 9 comments

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    Wednesday, May 14, 2008

    It's hilarious to watch pundits spin Senator Hillary Clinton's win in West Virginia last night as a revitalization of her poorly run campaign. While Clinton's supporters believe Senator Barack Obama is just here because he is black, I'll say the only reason why Clinton is still in the running is because Obama is black. If Clinton were running this far behind a white opponent, she'd already be out of this race. Anyway, just in case anyone is disenchanted with Clinton's win, please check out the list below, provided from J. Harris.

    List of Obama's "HUGE" margins

    Idaho (12 delegates) by 62% - White folks!
    DC (39 delegates) by 51% - Black folks!
    Alaska (19 delegates) by 50% - White folks!
    Kansas (21 delegates) by 48% - White folks!
    Georgia (103 delegates) by 36% - Black/White folks!
    Minnesota (72 delegates) by 35% - White folks!
    Colorado (71 delegates) by 35% White folks!
    Illinois (153 big ones babyee!) 33% - White/Blk folks!
    South Carolina (45 delegates) 29% - Black folks!
    Virginia (101 delegates) 28% - Black folks!
    Utah (23 delegates) by 25% - White folks!
    North Dakota (21 delegates) by 24% - White folks!

    Big Missy Hill insists he has "problem with working class white folks"?

    List of Clinton's "HUGE" margins

    New York, Clinton's home state -- she only won by 17%
    Her biggest and only large margin before West Virginia was Arkansas (35 delegates) at 49%
    Her only other win over 20% was Okalahoma

    Please! Please! Please! Check out this video! The moment at 1:51 is classic.

    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 10:04 AM :: 6 comments

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    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    I recently finished an advanced copy of Terrance Dean’s Hiding in Hip-Hop, which is in stores today. This Thursday at 6pm Terrance Dean will be at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center for a book reading, a question and answer session with the audience and interview with me—see details below to attend.

    I won’t be doing a full review of the book, but here are a few of my initial thoughts.

    First, I always commend anyone for telling their story. It must be a terrifying thing to do, knowing how many will judge. Outside of closeted men in hip-hop, Dean goes into detail about his relationship with his family. The details of his family life are when the reader gets the most powerful writing from Dean. The stories of his mother, who was an addict and died of HIV/AIDS, or his two brothers who died of HIV/AIDS, are emotional and transcendental of the gay or even black experience. Congrats to Dean for capturing that voice.

    I was a little taken aback by Dean stating the reason why he is gay is because he was molested at thirteen. To chalk up sexuality as a reaction to something negative is problematic, I don’t believe gay can be implanted by abuse. If that is the case then much more than 10% of the United States would not be heterosexual. However, I do respect Dean for revealing what he believes is his truth (it’s not like anyone would pressure him to say he was “made” gay by pedophilia, considering this is the worst stereotype of homosexuality). Also, he never insinuates this is the route for every one.

    There are endless references to being on the “down low”—on one page alone, the word “down low” was used thirteen times. There were moments where I felt like I was warped back to 2005 with J.L. King’s On the Down Low (a book he didn’t even fully write, which was revealed by Keith Boykin in Beyond the Down Low). On one hand, this is not a good thing because King was criticized by the gay community for waving the flames of hyper paranoia among black women. On the other hand, King was revered as a savior among black women for “exposing all these men who are giving us HIV/AIDS”. I’m not sure where this will leave Dean.

    Terrance Dean identifies as G-A-Y. Regardless of his struggles throughout the book, he does not pull a J.L. King, who said he was bisexual and still dating women.

    Lastly, some of Dean’s commentary on religion is extremely thoughtful, introspective, and something many “DL Christians” need to read. He finds an interesting way to capture the struggles of a black gay man in the church.

    Above all, hats off to Dean for sparking this dialogue, which has been non-existent in hip-hop.

    If you would like to be in the audience for my interview (I'm going in Barbara Walters style!) with Terrance Dean, here are the details:

    The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Community Center
    208 West 13th Street
    New York, NY
    Thu, May 15 2008
    Doors open at 6:00pm, program starts at 7pm
    Price: $10 (pay at door)

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 3 comments

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    Monday, May 12, 2008

    I recently saw The Real World 20th Anniversary Bash -- what a colossal disappointment. It really showed the difference between the series once being a fresh take on young, artsy life to now a soft-core porn that highlights pretty people with problems.

    Some of the clips made me reflect on the black cast members I loved. Of course, like most black folks I knew, I would anticipate the black cast member every season—there were only one or two and they might throw in someone who had racial identity issues.

    Here are my top ten favorite black cast members from The Real World.

    10. David - New Orleans (2000)
    Okay, I know David was irritating as all hell, but he gave me a full season of laughs with his song "Come On, Be My Baby Tonight". It was such a howl that I still remember the name! David was 22 years-old (you forget how young they were!) and originally from Chicago. He had a traumatic time in the house, every one hated him and I think he, like many black folks on The Real World, overly reacted to being in a house with a bunch of folks who looked nothing like him or could relate to him.

    9. Arissa - Las Vegas (2002-2003)

    Originally from Massachusetts and 22, Arissa was an emotional girl. She was like the Fiona Apple of the house, crying in every confessional, getting dogged out by her boyfriend, fighting in the club and her family would frequently call to verbally abuse her. I felt sorry for the girl, but she was the only cast member who was able to keep her legs closed during the tawdry Las Vegas season.

    8. Aneesa - Chicago (2002)

    Aneesa, 20 and from Pennsylvania, was the first out black lesbian on The Real World. She was outspoken, fun to watch, and is now a part of the black and Latino ballroom scene. I don't know how she didn't knock that homophobe, Theo, saying that he didn’t approve of her “lifestyle” —with his hazel contacts, looking gayer than the other gay guy in the house (Chris).

    7. Kevin - New York (1992)

    Kevin, 26 (they would never have a 26 year-old on the show now) and from New Jersey, was wrongfully the first example of the “angry black man” on reality television. Who could forget when Julie and Kevin had that screaming match about race outside the loft? That was the first time I saw a black man on television confronting a white woman on racism, in her face, eye to eye and not backing down—plus, the episode aired during the LA riots.

    6. Tami - Los Angeles (1993)

    I know many people didn't like Tami because of her legendary argument with David, which caused him to get thrown out of the house. However, I appreciated Tami's honesty, which shocked many people. For example, wiring her mouth shut because she wanted to lose weight and getting an abortion. Also, she showed an interesting hypocrisy of someone who worked as an AIDS care specialist but was homophobic toward lesbians. Tami, 22 and from New York state, is when The Real World was really real.

    5. Coral - Back To New York (2001)

    Coral was extremely disliked, but mama’s fire gave me the early days of The Real World. She got into Malik's ass for never dating a black woman, but he rocked everything Afro-centric from his hair to his clothes. She tore up Mike, the stereotypical small town kid, for making several racist comments. Yes, she was/is intense, but Coral was good to watch—even when she was irritating.

    4. Karamo - Philadelphia (2004 - 2005)

    This was the last season of The Real World I watched and it was solely for Texas native, Karamo. The fact that they cast a masculine black gay man was something else, not someone struggling with his sexuality or "DL", he was just gay. Then, he slowly came out, making each of his house mates gag, especially the two blond white boys. Some people had an issue with the way Karamo dissed the trainer Dorian, but come on—he was 23 years-old!

    3. Cynthia - Miami (1996)

    Didn't you just love Cynthia? She was like your sister, best friend, or girlfriend. Cynthia was 19 and originally from Oakland, California. She was the only sane one in the house and you really wanted her to do well. She kept it real and had no problem going off on Flora, who was the certified bitch. Cynthia got her respect and is probably one of the most liked cast members ever.

    2. Heather B. - New York (1992)

    I loved Heather B.! She was like every girl I grew up with and a great representation of a black woman on a reality show (unlike what we get now). Heather was down to earth, real but she not the stereotypical "sistah gurl". Plus, it was amazing to see such a strong friendship form with her roommate Julie, who was the polar opposite of her. Heather was the only one from The Real World who found moderate success in the music industry.

    1. Kameelah - Boston (1997)

    Originally form San Diego and 19 at that time, Kameelah was genuine, honest, and had so many great moments on season six. She went off on Genesis for saying she didn't want to be gay anymore, "How about if I say I don't want to be black anymore!" When one of the kids at the daycare center said she hated gay people (right in front of Genesis) Kameelah softly explained hate and bigotry are not acceptable. She would read Cyrus in a box for the endless white women he dated. She battled with the semi-racist logrolling dude, Sean, resulting in witty arguments that channeled Julie and Kevin from season one. Plus, she was extremely attractive, great spirit and my favorite Real World cast member of all time.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 27 comments

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    Friday, May 09, 2008

    Next week I'll be interviewing Ashanti for her new album Declaration, which hits stores on June 3rd. Yeah, I know a lot of people have issues with Ashanti but I love her song "The Way That I Love" and if the album sounds anything like that -- I will buy it.

    The interview will be for gay and mainstream press. Anything you always wanted to know, want a rumor cleared up -- please submit your questions in the comments!

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    Posted by Clay :: 9:34 AM :: 16 comments

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    Thursday, May 08, 2008

    This afternoon Terrance Dean, author of the new hip-hop-tell-all, Hiding in Hip-Hop, was a guest on the Wendy Williams Radio Show. The shock jock didn't grill him as hard as I expected, but she and her sidekick managed to drop some names that Dean wouldn't.

    Dean mainly reveals this is his life story and memoirs, not necessarily about "DL" men in hip-hop. His mother and two brothers died of HIV/AIDS and he struggled with his sexuality for a large part of his life.

    In an odd part of the interview, which is bound to cause some controversy in the gay community, Dean says he was molested by another man at the age of 13 -- according to him, before this assault he never had feelings for the same sex. I already know some people will interpret that as him saying he is gay because he was molested. However, Wendy didn't probe further so I am a little hesitant to make that assumption. All of the stats reflect that people remain their sexual orientation even after sexual assault.

    Hiding in Hip-Hop is in stores Tuesday, May 13th. Click below to hear the interview.

    boomp3.com

    Labels: ,

    Posted by Clay :: 4:52 PM :: 12 comments

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    Maybe it was a good thing that the Billboard music charts were segregated pre 1991. Not that I’m for any form of segregation, but starting in early 1991 Billboard integrated their charts and only the raw numbers mattered (thanks again to alizoom for that info). Doing these throwback posts I've noticed a trend, many of these artists had successful careers up until the early '90s and major hits on the R&B charts, which was once considered relevant. They all had one or two hits posts 1991, but if they couldn't survive, they were axed.

    Back then there was more room for a Stephanie Mills or Phyllis Hyman, but when everything was integrated, we lost some of the options in R&B music. Now everything has to sell according to everyone else, so a top twenty hit on the R&B charts is useless if you don't crack the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. Today, an artist like Miki Howard couldn't achieve the level of success that she reached in the late '80s and early '90s.

    Between 1986 and 1992 Miki Howard scored seven top ten R&B singles, received heavy rotation on urban radio and was considered by many the next Anita Baker. The Chicago native had a series of successful albums for the time like 1989's self titled album (#4 on the Billboard R&B album chart) and, probably the most popular, 1992's Femme Fatale (#7 on the Billboard R&B album chart), which gave her highest charting album at #72 on the Billboard 200.

    Miki Howard still makes music, performs and is signed to an independent label. However, her last charting single was in 1992. Again, post the integration of the music charts, many black artists were suddenly forgettable.

    Check out Miki's greatest hits.

    Listen to this voice! You can't hear anything like this on the radio today and this song was a hit, which she wrote with the late-great Gerald Levert. "Love Under New Management" charted at #2 on the R&B charts and #89 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    ***

    "I’ve been up and I've been down, I've had my feet swept off the ground by somebody who just picked me up and threw me away!" Talk about it Miki! "Ain't Nobody Like You" is my favorite Miki Howard song and probably one of the best R&B songs from the '90s. The video was classic with a look that encompassed the '90's, plus, her voice found that balance of pop and soul. The song was a #1 R&B hit in 1992 (#64 on the Billboard Hot 100). After such a big hit, 1992 would be Miki's last appearance on the Billboard singles chart.

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    Posted by Clay :: 12:30 AM :: 8 comments

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    Wednesday, May 07, 2008

    Check out my review for Keyshia Cole's BET reality show The Way It Is. Probably one of the most uncomfortable celebrity reality shows I have ever seen.

    One on hand, "The Way It Is" is the most realistic reality show anyone will see today. Nothing feels scripted, but it’s almost too extreme. Cole herself received some heavy criticism for presenting what some believe to be a deeply negative light of her family. One cannot help but wonder who much Cole cashed-in with the reality show, which even included the cameras for personal therapy sessions with her mother and sister.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 9:45 AM :: 4 comments

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    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    I recently reviewed the African-American Lives 2 DVD for the EDGE, which is in stores today. The PBS special is inspiring, educational and fascinating to watch. The legendary Henry Louis Gates, Jr. breaks down the complex family history of black icons and celebrities like Tina Turner, Chris Rock, Maya “Not Without Missy Clinton” Angelou and more.

    There are so many great moments in this four-episode series, but the clincher is when Gates tackles the assumption of nearly every black American on the planet who insists they have “Indian” in their family. He debunks the myth quite brilliantly, but it’s when he gets to Tina Turner -- I had to hold my Nutbush mule.

    Anna Mae Bullock has been saying she is “mixed” for decades, claiming both her grandparents were Native American. After my first African-American Studies course, I always gave the accented diva the crooked eye, considering Native Americans and black Americans were not this happy-go-lucky union as people romanticize.

    Tina has marketed this “Indian” in her family so much that people actually believed it and she is listed on the official government site of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as being, “Navajo and Cherokee”.

    So, when Gates tells Tina, “You are only 1% Native American”—it was like Maury Povich said, “You are NOT the baby’s father!” For a few seconds, Tina had the most dumbfounded look on her face, it was as if her wig popped off and she started tumblin' down the river! Now, all we need is a genetic test on Tiger “Don’t Call Me Black” Woods -- throw Vin Diesel in the mix too!

    Gates explained, “Only one in twenty African-Americans have any significant Native American ancestry.” Funny thing is, the reason for being Native American is “high cheek bones”, but high cheek bones are not a physical trait particular to any Native American tribe. Many West Africans have high cheek bones and the Japanese are known for high cheek bones. Some black folks will believe anything to be anything but black.

    Tina’s spirit looked a bit calm when Gates confirmed that while she didn’t have Navajo in her family, she is 33% European—and that doesn’t even include the pseudo British accent!

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 14 comments

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    Thursday, May 01, 2008


    Well, it's gotten hot-hot-hot with the political topics so I think it's time for a break with an old school throwback to Michel'le. Yeah, I know you remember her - the girl with the peculiar, high-pitched, speaking voice but powerhouse vocals.

    Born Michel'le Toussaint and of Louisiana Creole heritage, the Los Angeles-based R&B singer was the once girlfriend of Dr. Dre. She was heavily rooted in the West Coast hip-hop scene, mainly N.W.A. Dre and Eazy-E produced her debut, self-titled album, which would spawn three top ten R&B Billboard hits and one top ten Billboard Hot 100 hit.

    Allmusic.com points out that Michel'le was quite ahead of her time: "Arguably, the singer was ahead of her time. Before Mary J. Blige was exalted as the 'Queen of Hip-Hop Soul' -- and before the rise of Faith Evans and Lauryn Hill -- Michel'le was a young neo-soulstress who had strong ties to the hip-hop world."

    Michel'le was somewhat part of the East Coast VS. West Coast feud of the early '90's, however, her second album wasn't released until nine years and did not make the impact of her debut.

    Check out a Michel'le interview from 1990. You can hear her that squeaky voice -- it's almost uncomfortable to even hear!


    ***
    Now this is classic '90's R&B! "Something In My Heart" came out in 1989, but charted at #2 on the Billboard R&B chart and #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1991.


    ***

    Michel'le's biggest hit, "No More Lies", which hit number #7 on the Billboard Hot 100.

    ***

    Michel'le's album would go onto sell 1.5 million records and have three hit singles -- makes no sense to me why after all that success the woman never got to release another album till nine years later. As I've said before, the music industry was very harsh on black female artists in the late '80's and early '90's. Imagine if Mary J. would've came out just a few years earlier -- her career might be completely different.

    Labels:

    Posted by Clay :: 12:00 AM :: 9 comments

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