Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Monday, January 28, 2008

What Do Goddesses Do When Blue?

Yesterday I had such a wonderful day! A day spent reaffirming myself, my sense of purpose and my personal goals for prosperity all in the company of a very powerful sisterhood. Our gathering was extraordinary in its depth of knowledge, passion, and reverence for the ancestors and for its respect for current sisterhood. As much as I write about the importance of having your grrrls and repping for women's issues, I, theHotness Grrrl had even forgotten how good just a simple hug of encouragement from a sister you don't know can make you feel. In NYC, like every other metropolis city I have ever worked or lived in, there is almost a cut-throat competitiveness amongst women, and the competition is that much fiercer between women of color, specifically Black girls. Whether you're looking for a job, a husband or even a fly pair of shoes, so often I am confronted with jealousy, secrecy and a myriad of non-supportive gestures from many Black and Latina women I encounter. And I would be skrate lying if I said that after awhile this didn't start to harden a sister up like a chewy piece of caramel left out of of its wrapper for too long.

There is this email my grrrl sent to me about 5 years ago and I read it from time to time when I start feeling my edges hardening. She wrote:
What do goddesses do when they get lonely? There are times when my hurt consumes me so much that I can't even remember the goddess in me. I want to honor her and myself. I want to find my creative healer spirit again and this is my process. I need these answers to help find something really real. Those very still truths found in conversations with your grandmother when she was just cooking, pressing hair or telling you something she knew your butt would need later.
And my response, which I need to heed more often:
Girl everything you need, you already have (read The Alchemist)! Use the time spent alone figuring out what makes you happy instead of dwelling on why you are sad. I'm saying this because I'm just coming out of one of the MOST difficult times of my life. I know about being lonely and waking up sad only after crying myself to sleep. But my lonely alone time has made me so much more independent and mindful and focused. So yeah I'm still dealing with pangs of sadness and loneliness but I try to find ways that I can consistently move through that ish. I have this line in one of my rhymes that goes, "that's what sistas do, we bitches brew when sh*t gets hot..." So what are you gonna start brewing? That's what you have to ask yourself. Clearly you have the talent, so cry your tears and get it out and then work on you-- create, think, rest, and build your foundation.
Yesterday just reminded me that piecing together that foundation has to begin with me, but that does not mean I must work alone. If there is strength in numbers, (and there is), then certainly there is a lil' sweet softening in the midst sisterhood.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Janelle Monae

Okay I know I'm mad late with this here proclamation, but better late than never: Janelle Monae is futuristic old school truth! Blade Runner spliced with Killer of Sheep. Her style is sophisticated polished punk. The love child of Bjork and Andre 3000, her performances are already legendary. I'm talking mega You Tube classics, baby. Originally from Kansas City, Kansas, she was first featured on the Purple Ribbon All-Star's Compilation, Got Purp Volume 2, in 2005 and her song, "Lettin' Go," became an underground cult hit. If Erykah claims to be an analog girl in a digital world, then like Agent Smith in The Matrix, Ms. Monae is the virus that is spreading wildly through both analog and digital ciphers. She exudes edge and individuality and speaks of real life ish with the clarity of someone twice her age. As a result, “Violet Stars Happy Hunting” and "Sincerely Jane," songs off her independently released debut EP Metropolis-Suite I: The Chase, are spreading faster than influenza, making her a real mp3 wunderkind. Of course now that she is poised to blow mad wigs back she signs with Bad Boy Records. I can only hope that this sci-fi thriller keeps flying back to the future, even in Diddy waters, and doesn't face the same maddening fate as Smith did in Revolutions.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

theHotness Top 7 in the '07

Why seven you ask? Well why not? Seven is a wonderful mystical number, at least in my head-- the seven deadly sins, seven days for God to create the world, seven virtues, seven wonders of the world, the seven seas, Yemaya's number and I could go on and on. So in the spirit of all things inspiring, magical, dynamic, creative and unique I've decided to compile a list of grrrl's or things produced by grrrls that reflect and emanate these attributes. Here's my list. Please share with me who made your Top 7 and you will have a chance to win theHotness 7 CD and your list may also appear in an upcoming issue of theHotness ezine:

7. Maya Azucena - for still keeping it real independent and fly with her independently distributed 2007 sophmore release Junkyard Jewel, which was described by Billboard as "soulful and soaring." Not a newcomer to the scene, this Brooklyn native has been featured on BET and last year blew wigs back with her performance on Washington DC's Great Mall at the Save Darfur Rally. She has made a choice to continue her independent ventures even in the face of mainstream popularity and excess, showing her professional hotness all the way!

6. "Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse - This CD was a breath of fresh air—exhilarating, cathartic, mesmerizing and beautiful. Amy, on the other hand, not so much. No doubt we had been waiting for a record that spoke about vulnerability, love and hurt with this kind of authenticity and rawness for quite awhile (like Questlove so infamously remarked-- this was the album Lauryn was supposed to make) Hopefully Amy will get it together because it doesn't look like Ms. Hill is coming around anytime soon.

5. The Namesake: Directed by Mira Nair and based on the best selling novel by Jumpha Lahiri, this movie gracefully yet fiercely delved into themes of immigration, family, identity and tradition offering up dilemmas that, in its wake, demanded deep thought and contemplation over simple resolution.

4. Jessica care Moore - For founding Moore Black Press a staunch publishing house for poets that celebrated its 10th year anniversary in 2007. MBP has released a number of top selling, critically acclaimed books by such literary luminaries as Danny Simmons, Asha Bandele and Saul Williams to name a few. Looking ahead, Jessica, who recently welcomed a son to her family, will be adding music to her mix, making her a living, breathing reflection of everything she expressed in her poem "Black Girl Juice" that blew heads back in ’95 and led to her infamous 5-weeks of domination on "It’s Showtime at the Apollo."

3. Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama - For holding it down at home as a mom to her two girls, in the office as Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, and on the road as confidante, campaign advisor and supporter to hubby Barack, for being highly educated and civic minded, for being graceful under fire, and humble when she could easily be over the top. For all this and more.

2. Black Rock Grrrls like Santogold, Janelle Monae, MeShell NdegeOcello, & Shingai Shoniwa of The Noisettes for really bringing the noise and taking afropunking to anotha level. The Creator EP, Metropolis Suite 1: The Chase, The World Has Made Me The Man of My Dreams, and What's The Time Mister Wolf respectively and sonically were the bright shining, hardcore heavenly stars of music in 2007.

1. KARA WALKER & her exhibit:
My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love
From whitney.org: "Drawing her inspiration from sources as varied as the antebellum South, testimonial slave narratives, historical novels, and minstrel shows, Walker has invented a repertoire of powerful narratives in which she conflates fact and fiction to uncover the living roots of racial and gender bias. The intricacy of her imagination and her diligent command of art history have caused her silhouettes to cast shadows on conventional thinking about race representation in the context of discrimination, exclusion, sexual desire, and love. 'It's interesting that as soon as you start telling the story of racism, you start reliving the story,' Walker says. "You keep creating a monster that swallows you. But as long as there's a Darfur, as long as there are people saying ‘Hey, you don’t belong here’ to others, it only seems realistic to continue investigating the terrain of racism.”

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Michelle Obama & her man

So how you like ‘em now? While folks where getting caught up in the superfluous, like how Oprah's outfits complemented Barack's ties during their mega campaign tour or how Michelle Obama's dark skin makes her so not the typical wife of a successful/accomplished Black man, or even Whoopi wondering what if Barack were married to a white woman, the Baracks were winning heads over in Iowa (and around the country) with their political movement for change. No doubt I was surprised by the results in Iowa and was just beaming at the eloquence, sophistication and power of his victory speech. His words and how he commanded the mic were straight monstrous—brother's definitely on some Rakim ish. Hillary not so much. Her speech was painful to hear-- like she had more time than words to speak. Girlfriend was tap dancing her way out of Iowa.

On the other hand I love watching Michelle speak. She seems to handle every question with such realness and grace. I've seen her speak on everything from getting her husband to quit smoking to her thoughts around his possible assassination. Michelle is tough and classy; crazy intelligent and still totally down to earth. And if I must dip into the waters of superficiality then please let me say this, with all the hair woes of sisters on the Hill and in the House, it's such a relief to have Michelle whose coif is always tight and right. Maybe now we can all focus on what really matters... cleaning House!

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Media Madness: The Wire, The Voice & Essence Mag

Last night as I was preparing for bed, I decided to flip to HBO to see what was popping and ended up catching the First Look for the upcoming last season of The Wire. Whoa, that joint was so fascinating that I ended up watching the entire segment! Featuring interviews with cast members about their roles and intertwining that with interviews with real life folk on whose lives these cast members base their characters and then juxtaposing all that against the real-city life of Baltimore it was very insightful and even a tad bit riveting. It totally resonated with me because this upcoming season, if you haven't heard, revolves around the media, The Baltimore Sun, in particular and how the media can distort, challenge and define what is considered factual, especially in criminal investigations and most especially when they involve Black folk, specifically Black men. Catch my drift?

Never mind that it's edgy plots, hard core portrayal of drug slinging and raw characterizations rendered Denzel's American Gangster into nothing more than Ken Burns fodder for me, The Wire ironically and simply is a testament to great screenwriting and amazing journalistic depth.

And I had no idea who or what would be exacted in executive producer David Simon's scope this season so this was a pleasant surprise especially after just griping that afternoon about the absolute booty crust attempt at writing record reviews in this week's Village Voice. Print advertising is down and newspapers are especially shook with corporate buyouts left and right and so I'm guessing editors just don't give a fluck about dope styles, personal voice, description, knowledge of subject matter and general literacy because what I read about Cassidy and Gucci Mane and the rest of dem rappers was most definitely fluckless. I felt like I was reading someone's blog, a scraggly one at that-- run on thoughts tapped out in the middle of the night in a drunken haze of overambition and idiocy. I can't believe this is the same paper that has published gems by writers like Greg Tate, Michael Gonzales, Joan Morgan and Nelson George. Not only did /do I value my work experience at The Voice, but I give soooo much credit to becoming a good writer from reading, writing and inhaling The Voice back in the 90's! Reading that review really hurt me and my sensibilities.

My other beef, no I'll say, utter confoundment, is with Essence Magazine. Can someone (and I know there are folks reading this that know) please explain to me why the January issue was only 170 pages? Either do a year-end double issue like most mags or publish a real full-bodied issue. That joint was so thin... my Pathmark circular is thicker. I knew it had to be a joke especially since Juanita Bynum is on the cover, especially since she was just featured in the previous issue, especially since the feature is based on the same interview from the previous issue. I could not believe they recycled info that was just used. Like I would have forgotten that I just read that mofo four weeks ago. Huh? Before I could even ask what da hell is going on over there, I get hit up by Miles Marshall Lewis about Susan Taylor leaving Essence. What?!? But she is Essence. Yeah something is going on over there. First of all she exits during the holiday break when everything is quiet and closed and then the Times article doesn't even feature quotes from current staff members about her exit. Can someone please hit me up about what’s really going on. You can post anonymously.

And even though this is kinda old, since I'm on the topic of exits and publishing mayhem. Here's some news about Len Burnett and other folk bouncing from Vibe.

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