Photo credit: Aisha Butler for Jazzy Studios

While finally coming off my “Formation” high, I feel compelled to share with you, my luvs, on why I needed Beyoncé’s song as a reminder that I slay, as well as address some critics on the importance of visual/lyrical translation.

It’s so easy for people to not get the message Beyoncé is conveying in “Formation”. Folks who has criticized the song and the video doesn’t understand how art and culture are blended to form an artistic statement. Only a TRUE artist and genuine art lovers will “get it”.

I am in no way a member of #Beyhive. However, “Formation” has left such an impact on me, I may have to consider. 🙂

I’ve always been a fan of Bey for her tenacious work ethic and her ability to pull emotions out of her fans with her music. Beyoncé has collectively and creatively shown who she is with each solo album. You’d have to be an art lover to recognize the personalized theme behind each album.

Despite all of Beyoncé’s number one singles, it is her latest single, “Formation”, that has affected me to the core. “Formation” has successfully made me and every other woman who “get’s it” aware of her ability to evolve and become the best she can be, despite her circle of critics.

There has been a lot said about the video to “Formation”, as well as the lyrics. Some say the lyrics don’t match the video. Some say the song is all about money, fashion, and sex. The rest is too sensitive to get over Beyoncé dropping the F Bomb and hearing Big Freedia use the word “bitch”.

With all due respect to those sensitive to profanity, you’re not hearing something you’ve never heard before and most likely out of your own mouth a few times, so cut it out!

It’s all about translation.

Before I get into that, let me share why I’ve needed a reminder that “I slay”.

My life came with many challenges, including child loss, heartbreak, financial struggles, body image struggles, and low self-esteem. While any of those things could make me crumble, I chose not to by simply doing what I can do to live a happier and stress-free life…and for that, I fuckin’ slay! Of course, I didn’t need advice or permission from a world-wide entertainer to slay because I always have. I just never realized it until her song confirmed that and I truly thank Beyoncé for that.

Beyoncé has a special way to make her female fans see themselves in her. That’s the power of a true artist and performer and the most effective way to gain a fan’s love. To be able to do that with music and video transcends my admiration for her. In my humble opinion, no other entertainer has been able to do that since Michael Jackson.

TRANSLATION

This is the part of the post where my “Formation” critics really need to pay attention. When it comes to translating lyrics as complex as Formation’s, you have to break down each verse/sentence in the simplest form for someone like you to understand.

We all know what folks has said about Beyoncé and her family for years. She’s basically responded to everything said about her in a 4-minute visual. From her joining the Illuminati to how she style BlueIvy’s hair, Beyoncé effortlessly said EFF YO OPINIONS the only way Beyoncé can do.

As far as the visual, I have never seen representation so beautifully expressed. From the vintage fashions to the setting, you could smell the scent of New Orleans, Louisiana through the screen. I love how Beyoncé is on the porch, surrounded by strong black men; her family of protectors. I love how she’s in the living room with her girlfriends, sipping tea. That’s representation of sisterhood. I love how she stands on a drowning cop car with one fist in the air. That doesn’t scream anti-police, it screams Black Lives Matter…something we’ve been screaming since Katrina when our brothas and sistahs and their babies were DROWNING. I love seeing the little black boy in the black hoodie, dancing in front of the policeman in riot gear…dancing for all the young black boys and men we’ve lost to police brutality/killings. The message “stop shooting us” spray painted on a wall were just a few words, but powerful as ever, with the boy and his hoodie. I love the scene with the sistahs in the beauty supply store. Each one of them, expressing their individuality, with colored hair, piercings, while sporting a “no fucks given” facial expression.

When she says…

“Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh”

“I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’)

“I’m so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces”

She’s not just unapologetically BLACK, She’s also unapologetically CONFIDENT, and unapologetically IN LOVE with her HUSBAND!

 

When she says…

“My daddy Alabama,
Momma Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole, make a Texas bamma!
I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils!”

She’s making us aware that she is proud of her black southern, creole-ish, country biscuit and jambalaya-eaten, fresh squeezed lemonade drinkin’, thick/curly hair rockin’  background, and don’t care what y’all fools think of her, her man’s features, or her baby’s hair!

 

When she says…
“When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster, cause I slay”
If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper, cause I slay” 
Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J’s, let him shop up, cause I slay”

 

She’s basically saying she doesn’t mind treating her man when he makes love to her the way she wants it. You can’t get any simpler than that. She’s getting the love she deserves. The middle fingers risen is for the censors and critics alike, who she knew would have something to say.

Let’s carry on

When she says…

Chorus:

“I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it
I twirl on them haters, albino alligators
El Camino with the seat low, sippin’ Cuervo with no chaser
Sometimes I go off (I go off), I go hard (I go hard)
Get what’s mine (take what’s mine), I’m a star (I’m a star)
Cause I slay”

Do I really have to break this down?

This is the part of the song that gets me going! The lyrics here matches my personal hustle. After I see it, I grind ’til I own it! My entrepreneurial spirit rises like a wildfire when I listen to the chorus.

The most important part…When she says

“Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, cause I slay
Prove to me you got some coordination, cause I slay
Slay trick, or you get eliminated”

She’s basically sayin’ to all the ladies who are workin’ hard and grinding til they own it in their own journeys without hurting others…LET’S ALL DO IT TOGETHER! Whoever doesn’t should get out of line and make room for those ladies who do. Let’s get in formation and take care of ourselves and our families. Let’s get in formation and realize that you’re capable of achieving greatness. Let’s get in formation and recognize how fierce we all truly are, despite how others feel about you!!! If I may add (and at this point, this may be just my assumption) We should all stop competing with one another. Let’s start celebrating each other’s accomplishments. When one of us win, WE ALL WIN.

 

In conclusion, I know how stubborn critics could be. What they believe is what they’re sticking to and to be honest…they have that right. The bottom line is we as music lovers have to educate ourselves on how art and culture come together. When we read into things too technically involving arts, it takes away the recognition the artist tries to convey artistically.

For those who’ve listened to “Formation” and only hears fashion, sex, and money. Please, listen to it again with open-mindedness and an artistic ear. “Formation” isn’t about any of that. It’s about female empowerment, black love, and an undeniable expression of black pride.

Get with the program

I read a comment on Facebook (FB) the other day and the person who commented asked the question (and this is not verbatim, rather the gist of the matter) “Do Black Live REALLY Matter?  Do they matter to them, do they matter to us?  Where is the proof that Black Lives Matter?”  I responded with the idea that Black lives DO matter to us, to me, and that they should matter to them.  I “walked” away from that with an entirely different perspective: we “say” it but is it having any impact?  Are we just wasting breath and expending time, all for naught?  That is when I realized that it is time for me to step up to the plate and make my words and beliefs count for something – time for me to “BE the change,” as it were.

I have been writing about the loss of unarmed Black men, women, and children for years, dying at the hands of or in custody of policemen – on my blogs, other peoples’ blog, and now, on this blog.  Through all of that time, I have merely been spreading the word about the travesties that are taking place, but, in essence, have done very little to affect change.

First, in an effort to make a change, here is an e-mail that I recently wrote:

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BLACK LIVES MATTER!!!!

Unarmed Black men, women, and children are being slaughtered at an alarming rate across this country by policemen, nearly once a week.  This must stop.  In most of these instances, the perpetrators have committed minor crimes, yet, their sentence is death. If a policeman who is armed to the teeth finds him/herself “in fear of their life” when face-to-face with an unarmed citizen, then they are in the wrong profession.  If one can talk down a citizen who is armed with weapons, even bombs, they can surely talk down an unarmed person.  There needs to be better training for those who have chosen to protect and serve, and a better vetting process to find the right fit for the job.

It seems that it is very difficult for the rest of this country to see what a travesty this presents.  Yet, when the situation is reversed, when there is a Caucasian citizen whose life has been taken or has been put in harm’s way, suddenly, it becomes a most heinous crime.  In an overwhelmingly disproportionate rate, the officers involved in these deaths are either put on administrative leave, or go to trial and are set free.  This must stop.  Conversely, in the death of Freddie Gray, there were two Black policemen involved.  There was no hemming and hawing – they were convicted with the quickness.  This inequity must stop, as well.

Senators were elected by the people of this country to serve at our bequest.  It is a Senator’s duty to see that a change is made to stop this insaneness.  It is not a request – it is a mandate from the people whom they serve.  If they cannot or will not bring about a change, then, perhaps it is time for the people to put someone else into office who are both capable and willing to correct the dire situation with which we are faced.  This must stop!

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I am in the process of “being the change”.  I am contacting each and every Senator of the 114th Congress.  I am finally stepping up to the plate and doing something instead of just saying the words.

I ask you to join me in my quest.  I’m not asking you to contact every Senator (unless, of course, you have the time and proclivity) – I’m asking you to contact each of your state’s two (2) Senators.  Here is a link to the contact info of all of the Senators of the 114th Congress:

The 114th Congress

Click on the link, find your state, and the Senators’ names and contact info are right there.  Then copy and paste the above e-mail that I posted into the body of contact form.  The form is lacking a proper “category list”, so pick “other”.  This should take all of three minutes or less.

I’m asking YOU to “be the change”.  Feel like taking it one step further?  When I posted this on my FB page, I tagged a lot of my FB friends who I knew would take a moment to take action.  You can do the same, if you feel so led.  With a little effort from each of us, we can make this snowball faster than a Ponzi scheme.  We can all step up to the plate and make our words and time count for something, instead letting “Black Lives Matter” become nothing more than rhetoric.

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“Change” image from worldofdtcmarketing.com

Today, November 6th, we celebrate Saxophone Day.  This is the birthday of Adolphe Sax, born on this day in 1814.  I love writing this – Sax invented the saxophone.  The saxophone has been memorable throughout R&B and Blues and just about every other music genre.  Kirk Whalum delivered the memorable notes on Whitney Houston’s unforgettable “I Will Always Love You”Clarence Clemons, known as “The Big Man”, wailed on most of the songs by Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band.  And who could ever forget Steve Gregory’s infamous solo on “Careless Whisper”, by George Michael? From Rock to R&B, to Blues and Reggae, the sax has played an indispensible role.

When it comes to jazz, names that pop out are Kenny G, Boney James, Richard Elliot, Rasaan Roland Kirk, and Cannonball Adderly, just to name a few.  But, one of the most notable saxophone players of all time was John Coltrane.  In my humble opinion, he is solely responsible for making the saxophone the signature instrument of jazz.

John Coltrane, also known as Trane, was born in the height of one of my favorite eras – The Harlem Renaissance, in 1926.  After his early music while serving in the Navy, his big chance came in 1955, when he started playing with trumpeter Miles Davis. Later, on Coltrane’s fifth (5th) LP, he recorded what some say may well be his finest work – “Giant Steps”, from the LP of the same name.  But, for me, his greatest work came in December of 1964, when he and his quartet recorded “A Love Supreme”.

On this day, Saxophone Day, let us pay tribute to the late, great John Coltrane.  Do you self a favor and check him out.

Here is John Coltrane in a live recording of the one and only time he ever played “A Love Supreme” live in his entire career:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qt435yF2Qg

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A brief post, today – just two small items.

I’m gonna start by asking a favor (no money, no volunteered time):

Please stop posting videos of Caucasian policemen dancing with African-American women. Please stop posting pictures of Caucasian policemen holding African-American children.

It is detraction.  Every time an African-American man, woman, or child is killed at the hands of a policeman, they pop up out of the woodwork.  Everywhere.  It is intentionally designed as an attempt to make the killing of African-Americans at the hands of (mostly) Caucasian policemen – at an astounding and rising number – seem like something far less than it is.  So, the next time you feel the urge to post a touchy-feely video or picture depicting good vibrations between the police and the African-American community, I’m just saying . . . stop.

Appropriation is another form of detraction that is also taking place at an alarming rate.  It takes away from a discussion that is already under way.  The appropriate phrase, right now, is #Black Lives Matter.  It’s just that simple – Black Lives Matter.  Don’t let them keep adding to it, or taking away from it, or changing it altogether without lashing out at the outrage.  You’ve seen it everywhere:  All Lives Matter, All People Matter, or All Diseases Matter, etc.  Those phrases may be quite true, but, as I said – it takes away the importance of the discussion already in progress.  It also diminishes the importance of the phrase and what we are trying to get across to the government and elected officials – that Black lives are being taken from us by policemen all across the country.

Suppose a company comes out with a new sneaker and chooses the motto “Just Do It Swiftly”.  What do you think NIKE would have to say about that?  Perhaps a company comes out with a sandwich shop called “The El” and took on the motto “Eat Fresh Everyday”.  Yes – that was gratuitously written, with tongue-in-cheek intended, but, I think you get the point – SUBWAY would be up in arms.  It would be clear and distinct appropriation.

There’s no need to add anything to the most famous and most important phrase of this decade.  There is no need to change it in any way.  It is short, concise, and bitter-sweet:

                                                                    Black Lives Matter

Or, as Biggie Smalls once said: “What?  There ain’t no more to it!!!”

 

 

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What happens when conspiracy theories turn out to be fact?  In politics, it becomes a bombardment of lies and cover-ups which often come out in the wash.

In Hillary Clinton’s capacity as a government official, her e-mails are sometimes considered “classified”. It would be illegal for her to send or received such classified e-mails over a private account.  We’re not just talking about removal from office – we’re talking about jail time.  These classified e-mails often refer to (but not limited to) e-mails which are highly sensitive to national security, may expose agents out in the field, or may include information which may divulge national secrets.

Hillary Clinton maintained a private e-mail server that she chose to use for all of her e-mails, as opposed to one for private e-mails and one for business emails.  Her e-mail accounts came under scrutiny (most notably) during the Benghazi Hearings conducted by Republican Trey Gowdy.  For a very long time, it had been speculated that the Republicans would do whatever they can to discredit Hillary Clinton, hopefully disrupting her run for President in 2016.  Those speculations are no longer mere speculations.  Trey Gowdy chose an e-mail from her account that he had written to show that Ms Clinton had violated the law by having classified information on a private account.

In this e-mail, Gowdy redacted (covered in black ink) the name mentioned in the e-mail.  It was revealed by the CIA that THE E-MAIL IN QUESTION WAS NOT CLASSIFIED AND SHOWED ABSOLUTELY NO REASON TO HAVE BEEN RADACTED.

Ms Clinton turned over more than thirty-thousand (30,000) emails from her account, and deleted about the same amount, none of which were classified.  Here we are months later, her part in the Benghazi Hearings done, and there is absolutely no mention of Trey Gowdy telling an outright lie, falsifying records, and deliberately altering Ms Clinton’s emails in an attempt to de-rail her campaign.

This is just one blatant way in which the Republican Party will do and have done anything within their power to unseat the Democrats.  Do we let it continue?  Do we read the reports and let it go?  Do we continue to “not vote” and let Republicans remain in control of both The House and The Senate?

No!  We get out to the polls and remove them!  We elect those who have our interests at heart!  Whoever you choose to vote for, please make it a .  .  .  non-republican!

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In the height of the Harlem Renaissance, Harlem and the African-Americans who lived there and flocked to that same destination every weekend, were always the topic of conversation.  Books were written about them, as well as songs.  Carl Van Vechten, a Caucasian, wrote the book “Nigger Heaven”.  It was a very accurate depiction of life in Harlem, which received critical acclaim, both good and bad.  One of my favorite songs from that era was written by another Caucasian, Irving Berlin, in 1930, is “Puttin’ On The Ritz”.  The song exemplified the frenzy with which African-Americans swarmed to Harlem on the weekend, spending what little they had on song and dance.  Here is a clip from the movie of the same title.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66km3m_UE_k

Fast forward to 1982.  Singer/songwriter Taco updates the music, changes a few lyrics and offends African-Americans everywhere.  The main cause of offense was the appearance of a character in blackface.  Below is the original video.  Later, the blackface sequence was edited from the video, but not before it had caused its sensation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OG3PnQ3tgzY

If I had my “druthers”, I would prefer Taco’s updated music with Berlin’s original lyrics.  By the time Taco came on the scene, the words had been changed dramatically, taking the emphasis off of the African-Americans, and focusing, instead, on the Caucasians who partied in Harlem.

Irving Berlin wrote

“Have you seen the well to do, up on Lennox Avenue?” (clearly Harlem)

Taco’s version (and other versions) were

“Have you seen the well to do, up and down Park Avenue?” (Midtown and below)

Berlin wrote

“If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where Harlem flits?  Puttin’ on the ritz.” (a nod to Harlem)

Other versions were written as

“If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits?” (takes the emphasis away from Harlem, suggesting a more fashionable neighborhood)

Again, Berlin salutes the African-Americans with

“Spangled gowns upon the bevy of high browns from down the levy, all misfits, putting’ on the Ritz.”  (clearly a reference to African-Americans)

In contrast, other versions were written as

“Come let’s mix where Rockafellers walk with sticks or umbrellas in their mitts, puttin’ on the Ritz.”  (undoubtedly the rich and Caucasian)

I stated that I would prefer Taco’s newer music mixed with Berlin’s original lyrics (unfortunately, no such version, as yet), but truth be told, if it were to be made absolutely perfect, the combination would be Taco’s music, Berlin’s lyrics, sung by the vivacious songbird Queen Latifah.  Oooh la la!!  I’ve gotta make that happen.

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