Posts Tagged ‘twerking’

I’m going to try to keep this one mostly safe for work.

It’s 2014…well, almost. Do you know where your children are? They’re not in the 1980s, that’s for sure. The kids (and older people) these days are kind of focused on other things aside from the dangers of being arrested for breaking curfew, and/or creepy old men in white vans. Today, they’re probably more likely to be getting into some sort of debauchery a few steps away from you making a Vine, twerk video for YouTube, or attempting to curse some pseudo-celebrity out in 140 characters (or less). But why? Well, in hopes of usurping that pseudo-celebrity and become…(Twitter) famous

Part Three of this series (link highly not safe for work, as it was the last time we posted it here) got me thinking a bit. What if there was another method to Reina’s madness? What if it wasn’t about just making out on camera or teaching the world to be appreciative of themselves, regardless of their makeup (or lack thereof)?

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Disregarding that she looks like she’s 12 in this photo, what if this young woman, like many before her, is just trying to “make it” through social media usage. We’ve seen this sort of thing before (Kat Stacks, “Superhead,” the Love and Hip-Hop cast), never ending well and usually playing out as follows:
1) IDGAF attitude with some insults thrown in
2) Giving the masses/the thirst buckets something to salivate over, usually sexually charged
3) Receive hatred/buzz from your actions
4) Still DGAF, but show some sort of remorse/”humanity,” usually through showing yourself without makeup or try to blame your actions on your childhood (whether or not it’s true)
5) Minimal fame
6) Repeat ad nauseum until the world gets tired and moves on to someone else, usually leaving the initial person broken and shaking their head at the disillusion of “what could’ve been”

One has to wonder, if there are so many people who do this sort of thing (in any form) and fail, why repeat the mistakes/actions that put person A into this position?

(I apologize in advance for taking this in another direction, but this is what happens with a complicated topic.)

I think it’s a societal thing that’s exacerbated by social media. Yeah, I know. We always want to blame society. We never want to take blame for our own actions. However, societal values, whether attributed or ascribed, do have an impact on everyday behavior. Sex sells, and in a society where people are often reduced to their genitals and the like, you’ll get a person with that “I’ve gotta use what I got to get what I want. Damn the consequences” type of mentality. Add in social media and we will get people that have body issues because they don’t look like the models (or even the “models”) they are constantly bombarded with on websites, television, and so on. Because of this, they very well could attempt to “correct” their imperfections through surgery, caked-on makeup, and so on. Lastly, because of these societal issues and the explosion of social media, so-called trolling exists as it does because trolling is considered funny (which, I mean, it can be–just not all the time).

I don’t want to go too off-topic, so I’ll leave the trolls for another day. Staying with the issue of body image (and all that entails), Camille brings up some great points in her post “My Body Doesn’t Exist For Your Entertainment.” If you haven’t checked it out, I advise you do. Now, from a male perspective, I agree with a lot of what she’s saying. A woman should have the ability to say “oh, I’m going to be this or that” and not have to worry about what a man–or even another woman has to say about it. That’s all fine and good. I support that, and I try not to shame a woman’s image. It’s not how my mom raised me to be.

A while back, I was dating someone. We’ll call her Kelly. Now, Kelly was a younger white woman from Baltimore County. Stick with me, because this eventually ties back to the “social media and sex” aspect of this post. Now, Kelly? She learned from an early age that, in order to get what you need out of life, you have to show off. She also was “trained” to believe that, in order to keep a black man (as a white woman), she had to whore herself out to him and be his whipping girl–to atone for sins committed in slavery and that sort of thing. This girl was so messed-up from her “truths,” she was unable to have a decent relationship with a guy. I didn’t know this about Kelly until she sent me nude photos and rudimentary “flixxx” of herself (this was before smartphones, so the quality was atrocious–but that’s beside the point). I also didn’t know how deep it went until she started speaking about how she’d cut herself if a guy constantly didn’t say she was pretty enough, or “sexy” enough, or what have you. The last I’d heard from Kelly, she had three or four kids, was unhappy, and wished that she’d someone to teach her something besides what she learned growing up.

This brings me back to Camille’s post and my own issues with body image and sex in the media.

My issue is in addition to the patriarchal set-up of what’s considered “attractive.” My issue appears when it starts to trickle down from “the top” (read: Kardashians, video girls, even Michelle Obama’s scowl face to “That Selfie” to a degree) onto the so-called “rest of us.” And, because of this trickle, you get twelve-year-old girls posting booty shots on Instagram with captions such as “My azz so phat.” My issue is when children are doing these sorts of things trying to get some sort of buzz/notice online because they’re not loved at home. They feel that this is (partly due to social media’s obsession with instant gratification, sex, and so on AND partly due to horrible parenting) the only way that they can get that love, even if it’s a feigned “love.” My issue is, I’ve got a son who’s almost three-years-old who’s going to have to grow up in this society obsessed with instant gratification through, among other things, the sexualization of our young people. But, it goes even deeper than just “oh, society tells me that I need to be ‘sexy’ to be ‘famous.'”

Because of these ascribed traits, we start to not only question our own self-worth, but the (self-)worth of others. That’s how we get memes such as “Light/Darkskin N*ggas Be Like” or “Black B*tches Be Like.” And all the while, while you’re up in your house thinking of memes and so-called funny crap to talk about…they’re just laughing.

Who’re “They,” you ask?

Those that make the “rules,” but never seem to have them broken because people are too damned busy focusing on frivolous stuff and focusing on that perfect booty shot to notice that there’s a war going on outside. A war not for money, or oil…but for our freedom of self and for our minds. And, before you get all “Speed’s being all militant,” I’m not just talking about upper-class white people. This sort of thing goes beyond race. Class, not as much, but definitely beyond race. And as I’ve mentioned, it’s not even (just) a social media issue. However, the use of social media expands the problem to the masses in ways once thought to be impossible.

Until next time, I’m out. Hopefully, this will help guide you along a better path of knowledge and a path to make better decisions in life. If not, at least think on it for a bit.

So, there are about two weeks until Christmas. And, because of this, you’re probably buried under an insane amount of inane Christmas songs. Some are epic, and some are epic…ally bad. As with the Halloween Version of TWIHH, we’re focusing on the latter. There is no ranking of the sadness/badness of these songs, just a collection of SMH-worthy songs. Since this is hip-hop-related, however, songs such as “The Christmas Shoes” and “Grandma Got Ran Over By a Reindeer” will be spared my wrath. Besides, we’ll have enough earsplits with what we’ve got below. I’ll also (try to) keep from being biased towards bad West Coast Christmas-esque songs.

Before, let’s share this epicness from David Banner. It’s, to me, a great Christmas song in a political/speaking on commercialism and black poverty type of way (Make sure your headphones are in, though. It’s gritty).

Now…let us begin.

Derek B – “Chillin’ With Santa”
Now, I had no idea who Derek B was before this, as he was more of an exclusive to the UK. But, I do know that some of his other songs were less cringeworthy. For “Chillin’ With Santa,” the chorus breakdown was probably the best part of it. The bad? It’s five minutes long. Whenever you think that it’s done, Derek B continues his late-night story time/potentially drunken rambles about the time he was “chillin’ out with Santa.” It’s like “Children’s Story,” if Slick Rick attempted to shill out some holiday-friendly buffoonery in that classic song instead of, you know, cautioning people of the dangers of trying to be a thug. Sadly, Derek B died in 2009 of a heart attack.

Gorilla Zoe – “It’s Christmas”
Ummm, I’m all for dope boy rap. But, not on Christmas. ‘Nuff said.

Jim Jones – “Dipset X-Mas Time”
This comes from the same album as the remix of “Ballin’,” so it has that awesome 2006 rap vibe. But, something about Jim and company shouting out what they bang on a Christmas song just…makes me sad. It’d be like a rapper talking about eating pork on a song about Ramadan. It’s uncalled for and pretty disrespectful. But, the A Dipset Christmas album kind of captures what Christmas has become to some (an exercise in extravagance for no real reason), so maybe Jim Jones was making some sort of covert social commentary?

…Nah.

Jim Jones and JR Writer – “Ballin’ on Xmas”
Jim…please stay away from my holidays! Plus, it just took “Christmas in Hollis” and made it some sort of insanity. Now, part of Dipset’s “genius” was/is the fact that they were able to take the most random samples/beats and make songs that were halfway fire. Cam’ron sampling The Golden Girls theme song on his Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1 mixtape is a prime example. Here, however, it just doesn’t work for me. This song, lyrically, is nice. But, it suffers from the same craziness as the last song.

Tha Dogg Pound – “I Wish”
This song is actually not that bad, compared to some of the other ones. However, with lines like “’cause if I die today I’m going to hell,” it’s not exactly something you want to go around caroling with your kids/family/random work buddies. You’re probably wondering, though, “Speed, why is this one ‘bad,’ but David Banner’s song is ‘good?'” Well, simply put, “I Wish” comes from a similar vein as “Crossroads.” It’s a great song, its message is somewhat kumbayah and “let’s chill on the killing and such.” But, it’s hokey (or has become hokey through its overuse and overplay over the years). Again, that’s not to say that “I Wish” or “Crossroads” aren’t good songs; they’re classics (“Crossroads” especially). But, both songs have that same mid-1990s “Stop the Violence, even though I’m still rapping about it three songs later” vibe.

Ying Yang Twins – “Deck da Club”
If you’re like me, you’re probably not going to be in the booty club for Christmas. The week before, eh, that’s debatable…but not actually on Christmas (I have some morals, people). However, for these brothers, seeing skrippers and seeing them twerk and such seems to be the highlight of the year. Sadly, if you zone out and just listen to the beat–even though it’s typical early-2000s crunk-bounce–it’s not that bad of a song. That is, again, until you remember that this is a song that someone’s probably performed a “Wicked Games” to. And, yes, I did have something a bit less safe-for-work that I wanted to say, but I bit my tongue.

And this concludes another edition of TWIHH. Next week? Winners and Losers of 2013. Don’t get pissed at me if your favorite artist is on the list. Get mad at them for having such a wack year.

As some of you may know, I graduated from Baltimore City College High School. (City Forever!) While at City, I met a lot of people. Some of whom are making or have made some pretty big waves in their fields. One of these individuals, Trae Harris, recently starred in the film Newlyweeds, which has gotten a lot of indie and mainstream buzz in the past few months. Less Half-Baked and more Eternal Sunshine in its approach to relationships and the like, the film, in its honesty, has gotten rave reviews from international critics. I had a chance to catch up with Trae recently and got to ask her about her role, her thoughts on some of the films out there, and a bevy of other topics.

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Image courtesy of traeharris.com

Speed on the Beat: Trae, I’ll be honest. Growing up with you at City, this was a side of you that I thought existed but never knew for certain. Where did the desire to go into acting come from?

Trae Harris: Well, I began acting in junior high school. I started writing plays and performing them as one woman shows. The first play I wrote was about Ruby Bridges and the Desegregation of New Orleans schools. I won a young playwright completion, and from that moment, I knew I wanted to perform in that capacity more often! I joined the Arena Players youth theater and was able to incorporate my dance background, vocal training and a musical theater element. In high school, I took IB Theater and had the opportunity to direct, act, write and really grow as a theatrical performer. (Interviewer’s Note: If I’m not mistaken, Trae also makes a brief appearance in season four of The Wire, alongside fellow Arena Players—and City College alumni—Rashad Orange, his sister Rakiya and others.) I knew that I wanted to go to college and continue pursuing that path, and I did. I went to New School in Manhattan and studied theater there. So, to be honest this is not a new part of myself, it’s just that I am now getting recognition from others who don’t know me or my path personally and it’s awesome!

SOTB: I notice you also do photography. Did the photography lead to your film work or are they mutually exclusive?

TH: Actually, I’m not a photographer and never have been. You’re not the first person to think that, but I have no idea why. (Laughs) I have been shot by numerous photographers from all over the world, but I myself am not a photographer. I do not even own a camera! (Interviewer’s Note: While Trae does not do photography, she has made music, some of which is available for your listening pleasure on her homepage.)

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Image courtesy of traeharris.com

SOTB: Well, at least I’m not the only one. I feel a bit less silly for asking. (Laughs) Now, for those that don’t know, Newlyweeds was shown at Sundance in early 2013. How’d it feel for your first film entry to be mentioned in the same breath as, for instance, Fruitvale Station?

TH: Well, it wasn’t really being mentioned in the same breath as Fruitvale. That was the honor for me. But, rather just that, my first feature film that I had a starring role in was being received so well and that people really loved our story!

SOTB: Did you get to meet Michael B. Jordan? Sorry, I have to ask. I’ve been following that kid since his “Wallace” days on The Wire (Laughs).

TH: (Laughs) No.

SOTB: Darn it.

TH: But, I met the screenwriter and producers from Fruitvale and they were amazing!

SOTB: But, back to Newlyweeds. I’ve read some of Shaka King’s interviews, specifically the one he did with Gawker. What was it about this film that made you pretty much jump up and say “hey, this is a project I want to be attached to?”

TH: I was excited to see a New York story being told in an honest, truthful way. I want to associate myself with work that is meaningful and honest. Newlyweeds is that on so many levels!!

SOTB: Would you say that there is a political element to the movie? I’m rehashing the Gawker question to Shaka to get your own take on it.

TH: Political? Hmmm, not really in my opinion. But, I’m sure that some folks can pull out certain social commentary about class and coming of age in an urban environment.

SOTB: What’s your take about the “uproar” concerning Miley Cyrus and “white” people “stealing” what’s perceived as black culture?

TH: Well, “blackness” as a cultural identity and “black art” as a legitimate art form historically, have always been appropriated and that obvious. Miley is only following her roots; her southern roots are deep and her family is very big in the country music world. Country music historically—just as jazz, classical, and various other musical genres—have very blatantly done the work to suppress and outright “steal” songs, musical styling and nuances that were created by black people whom were never credited. Now, with that said, Miley is not reinventing the wheel, nor is she doing anything that her family and friends in the industry have not done! This whole appropriation of blackness is not new, it’s always fashionable. I’m just not sure why now it’s a national discussion. No one is saying the same things about Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke. Why have those white males been given the “appropriation card?” (Interviewer’s Note: This will be discussed in a future post to a degree)

SOTB: What’s your opinion on the upcoming 12 Years a Slave versus last year’s Django Unchained? While both movies are completely different in tone, they have similar topics—to a degree. (Interviewer’s Note: Trae’s Newlyweeds costar, Amari Cheatom, appears in Django)

TH: I have not seen 12 Years a Slave yet, so I do not have much to offer, but Django was an action film and a bit of a comedy. 12 Years is a drama so slavery is being addressed in very different ways!! I do believe or hope that 12 Years will finally bring a sense of humanity to enslaved people and their experience, as opposed to simply sensationalizing it.

SOTB: What’s next on the horizon for you?

TH: More work, writing, and performing. I just want to release more poetry and share my work on a global scale. I have new projects coming up and I am very excited!!

SOTB: Should we expect a sequel? (Laughs) Silly question I know, considering how the film ends and what it deals with. But, I mean, we know how Hollywood gets when they find a good property, independent or not.

TH: (Laughs) Not to my knowledge!

SOTB: Would you be open to working more “mainstream” films or is independent where your heart’s at?

TH: I just want to do progressive work. I don’t really care what the medium is. Do I long to be an indie artist without mainstream success? NO! But I am not willing to comprise my integrity for the industry.

For those even more interested, here’s the trailer for Newlyweeds. Be sure to check it out when it comes to your city.

Trae can be reached through the following social media sites:

www.traeharris.com

www.gypsybruja.tumblr.com

@gypsybruja

Facebook: Search “Trae Harris” or gypsybruja

Instagram: gypsybruja