Posts Tagged ‘Youtube’

Warning: Both video clips use excessive language in the lyrics. NSFW!!

(Contains NSFW lyrics)

Long ago, when rappers didn’t rock with each other (keeping it PG-14 here), and it hit a fever pitch, they ended up on a Beef DVD and engaged in RAP BEEF (Hence the obviously NSFW Boondocks clip). The series, for those that don’t remember, spoke on some of the biggest beefs in hip-hop–and some not so much. Beef III, per Wikipedia, was released in 2005, followed by a short-lived BET series, then left in the early-to-mid-2000s like snap music.

(But, even snap music had beefs. Contains NSFW lyrics)

These days, when rappers don’t rock with each other, instead of dropping diss tracks and/or appearing on camera slugging it out, they’ll usually hop on Twitter and spew their disdain, then drop the bars. Part of me is like “cool. If it keeps dudes from killing each other over stupid ish, let the boys cook on Twitter, drop some IG bars, and keep it at that.” But, I’ll be honest. I miss those old days when rappers would actually go at each other on tracks if there was animosity. Heck, I even miss the days when artists would knuckle up, beat their differences out of each other, then get back to their business(es). Now, I’m not condoning violence in music. Nor am I saying that artists should beat the crap out of one another every time they’ve got a problem. There’s enough black-on-black violence in the world. But artists should–oh, I don’t know–hash out their differences artistically!

Twitter Novels and “artsy” selfies (ugh) be damned, we know that Twitter isn’t (that) artistic, y’all.

Perhaps the root of this “Twitter Beef” rap era still falls upon the deaths of so many hip-hop artists because of overblown beefs, rivalries, set trippin’, etc. Artists, as angry as they are at each other, they don’t want to live and die for their music. That’s commendable, as it’s often not that deep of an issue to kill over someone going at you on a track or whatever. But, at the same time, wasting energy to tweet “oh I don’t eff with Rapper B” when they could’ve used that time to make music or what-have-you? It comes off as sneaky and disingenuous, kind of like a troll in a message board who types racist ideologies just to get a rise from people.

I’m the type of artist that’d rather use whatever fuel you give me to go harder on a track, so I just don’t understand tweeting about not rocking with someone. Can someone out there explain it to me?

…”or nah?”

Until next time.

Speed on the Beat

As it nears that time of the year when sundresses and bikinis run wild in my immediate line of sight, I’ve begun thinking of some of the best and worst songs to vibe to during these late-spring/early-summer months. But, then I remembered something. “Best Of” lists are as boring as watching a two-hour long adult film  never all that fun. So, pardon the cliche, but let’s go through the best of the worst. As always, this is just my opinion. I can be wrong…but I’m pretty sure I’m not on most of these.

Sisqo – “Thong Song” (not to be confused with this “Thong Song”)

(I’m sure you may’ve tried to block the video out of your memories, but it’s somewhat NSFW. I mean, it’s a video and song about thongs…)

It’s ok, guys. I’ve sung along to this song and thanked it in middle school for creating awkward “freak dancing” moments being a song people wanted to dance to. But, let’s face it. It sucked. The beat, an interpolation of Wes Montgomery’s jazz cover of “Eleanor Rigby,” a Beatles song, was overly dramatic (but introduced me to the sampled track, below, some years later).

Plus, it gives me a reason to post a YouTube link to this slightly absurd Beatles cartoon.

Now, back to Sisqo. The lyrics were simplistic, even by today’s standards of catchiness (“Dumps like a truck, truck, truck…baby move ya butt, butt, butt” isn’t exactly avante-garde lyricism). And the premise of the song and video make it seem like Sisqo’s some sort of omnipotent, platinum-haired pervert. Granted, the video also showcased Sisqo crowd-surfing /walking on people all Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon style, which was a thing for Sisqo. But overall? This song deserves to be locked away in a room and never let out. NEVER unleash the dragon again, Sisqo. Even though this song was (technically) released Y2K Eve (December 31, 1999), it managed to linger for about two years-plus after that. Now, it pained me to list a Sisqo song because Dru Hill. But, yeah…no.

LFO – “Summer Girls”

Now, first and foremost, let me pay my respects to the lead singer of this group, Rich Cronin, who passed in 2010 from leukemia-related complications. But, this song did one of these two things. Either it:

1) made it possible for hipsters and suburban America to accept Lil’ Wayne’s stream-of-consciousness lyricism when it was at its lowest point(s) or…
2) It was a free-form homage to a romance that was catchy as all hell but still neglected to make much sense. “Chinese Food makes me sick” had absolutely nothing to do with anything with this song. At all. Ever. But, for whatever reason, this non-sequitur filled-song became one of the biggest summer songs in 1999. It even got a few spins on 92Q Jams in Baltimore–and not even as a joke. Eminem, as he tends to do, lampooned this song in a couplet from “Marshall Mathers.”

Chingy – “Right Thurr”

Practically for the same reasons as Sisqo’s “Thong Song,” even if Chingy actually put more thought into the lyrics. Maybe. “Gimme what you got fo’ a pork chop” raises a few eyebrows, along with “she should pose for Sports Illustrated,” considering women of Chingy’s description tend to be ignored by mainstream media and chastised. But, maybe that’s just my biased male gaze talking. Anyhow, the track also gets points off for having a chick orgasmicly moan during the chorus. It adds nothing except some uncomfortable vibes when listening to this track.

Trina – “Look Back At Me” and Khia – “My Neck, My Back”

Speaking about uncomfortable vibes, how either of these tracks got radio play is beyond me. Now, I’m all for empowered women, sexuality, and all that fun stuff. But, the lyrics to both these tracks make me giggle and shake my head more than they make me want to engage in not-safe-for-work activities. Also, goofy, demented voices telling me to do not-safe-for-work things isn’t a turn-on. And, no…I won’t post the videos here. You want to hear the songs, you seek them out. Just make sure your headphones are in–or you’re in a very liberal place in terms of gratuitous sexual content, like a strip club or the comfort of your own home. Or, you know, not at all. Ever.

Trey Songz – “Dive In” “2 Reasons”

Plus, this cover screams "alcoholic."

Plus, this cover screams “alcoholic.”

You’ll notice I chin-checked “Dive In” out of this spot because it wasn’t that bad. And the way it led into (now, my least-favorite Trigga song) “Panty Wetter” was pretty cool. “2 Reasons” gets the spot because it was completely unneeded. In 2012, every rapper, singer, producer, baby mama and so on had a “let’s get messed up and get into some stuff” track.This track replayed “Say Ah” and “Bottoms Up” with a bit more bluntness. Plus, the album version of the track, for (I guess) “maturity’s” sake, replaced “ladies and the drinks” with “the female dog word.” I’m not chastising him for his kind of off-color choice of words, but more so that, like the song itself, it wasn’t needed. Chapter V, however, was a decent album.

Mariah Carey – “We Belong Together”

Now this one, it’s more of a personal choice (my sixteen-year-old self says “Hi Treeka”) it isn’t a bad song by any means. In fact, it’s possibly one of my favorite Mariah Carey songs. However, a breakup/pining-for-your-ex/the-person-you-can’t-have song plopped right down during the onset of spring isn’t the best song to play at a barbecue in August. But it was–and immediately sucked the life out of everyone. It’s the equivalent of playing “Man in the Mirror” at a bar/club after last call. Anyone who’s ever been to R.J. Bentley’s in College Park during the years 2006 through 2012, you know what I’m talking about.

Mariah Carey – “Thirsty (feat. Rich Homie Quan and solo version)”

meandmariah

You’ll notice that, as with the “Dive In”/”2 Reasons” situation, Mariah’s newest song usurped another track. I’m going to be as nice as possible. Mariah Carey is awesome. Rich Homie Quan is cool. Hit-Boy makes epic beats (“Backseat Freestyle” was one of my favorite GKMC tracks). But, for whatever reason, putting them all on one track came up way short. The song is literally “N****s in Paris” rehashed for Mariah to trot out one of the most overused slang-originated terms this side of “thot.”

It seems that everyone’s learned the error of their ways, as the RHQ version has been all but replaced with Mariah making it all her own. Neither version does it for me, though. It comes off as almost parodic the way Mariah’s talking about some guy who’s thirsty (Mariah either has stalkers out the wazoo, or she’s one of the most conceited artists alive. This is a woman who’s had a song called “Obsessed,” which was basically “Thirsty” sans possibly lifted chorus and with Eminem sneak disses). But no doubt about it, this song will be trotted out (see what I’m doing here? No? Ah well…) as the “curve” anthem of Summer 2014. And I, for one, will be turning the channel/station/downing several shots at the club/bar when this song comes on.

At least her track with Wale is cool.

Greetings, all. Hope I don’t drive too many of you away from here. I promise it all comes together in the end.

So, this week, I was all pumped to write a post on the evolution of Chance the Rapper (or talk on the evolution of Drake’s fanboy-like nature when it comes to sports). Then, I got the news that the Ultimate Warrior died suddenly a few days after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame (and delivering a prophetic promo on Monday Night Raw).

This shocking news, which I’ll speak on a bit more on my personal site in the coming days, got me thinking about one of the worst angles in my twenty-some years as a pro wrestling fan. In case you don’t know, your [butt] better call somebody (this will pop up again) and listen up before I have to open a can of whoop-you-know-what.

In the late 90s, the Attitude Era had taken over the WWE, at the time known as the WWF. What this meant for one of the main competitors to the WWE, WCW (or World Championship Wrestling) is that they’d have to up the ante on storylines, marketability, and straight-up ridiculousness to keep people tuning in. Heels (bad guys) and faces (good guys) flipped sides more than a three-sided coin. David Arquette won the “Big Gold” belt. And, guest stars begin to litter the WCW landscape.

One of those guest stars was none other than Mr. “Age in Rap Ain’t Nuthin’ But a Numba” himself, Master P.

Master P decided to sign into a partnership with WCW. If Master P lent some credence to wrasslin’ in the hip-hop community, then WCW would lend some credence to hip-hop in the wrestling community. Oh, and there was something about Master P’s possible cousin “Swoll” being able to wrestle and get screen time.

What came out of this relationship is a storyline that many wrestling sites consider to be one of the worst in the history of WCW. And this is coming from a sports entertainment federation which employed Robocop at one of their pay-per-views.

(See what I mean?)

In the sometimes nonsensical world of pro wrestling, you expect stuff to not make sense. That’s part of kayfabe. You’ve got to suspend some reality to get into it. But, Master P’s inclusion in WCW, as part of the–wait for it–No Limit Soldiers was insanely abysmal. Not only was his stable (group of wrestlers) booed ad nauseam, they were brought in as faces. Translation: the good guys got the [stuffing] booed out of them because:

1) WCW brought in a bunch of non-wrestlers to take time/money away from actual wrestlers (Master P got paid about a million dollars for a month)
2) A lot of WCW’s fan base quite possibly thought that “rap was crap,” agreeing with the heel faction that sprung up to feud with the “No Limit Soldiers”
3) The actual wrestlers in the NLS stable were either glorified jobbers or had no business in a rap-centric stable–and yes, that includes Brad Armstrong, the brother of Road Dogg (Jesse James) of the New Age Outlaws and DX in WWF/WWE (who eventually resurfaced as, to a degree, a spoof of Road Dogg).
4) The NLS stable came off as a straight-up parody of hip-hop and was kind of stereotypical in nature (and not even the “funny” kind of stereotypical. They were almost booed out of Washington DC during their debut).
5) This was one of the most-awkward celebrity appearances in professional wrestling

(See what I mean?)

Essentially, it was the result of WCW trying to reach out to “the blacks” the hip-hop community in a pandering effort that was half-cooked. Of course, this isn’t the first time wrestling and hip-hop have meshed. We have wrestlers such as R-Truth, to this very day, poppin’ and lockin’ in their entrances. Silkk the Shocker performed a WWE theme song. We had the tag team of JTG and Shad known as “Cryme Tyme,” which, in some ways, was even more stereotypical than Master P’s bunch (But, at least everyone was in on the joke…I think).

(BROOKLYN BROOKLYN!)

But, for me, the No Limit Soldiers gimmick stands out as one of the worst marriages of hip-hop and wrestling–and there have been some odd ones.

For kicks, I’ve included the No Limit entrance theme, “Hoody Hoo,” which, of course, is NSFW (I mean, it’s old-school No Limit).

Until next time. I promise that next week I’ll keep it strictly hip-hop. No piledrivers or Stone Cold Stunners.

Ok, maybe a stunner or two (contains some middle-finger-flipping action and some minor NSFW language)

Wale-sad-2

Why Wale? This is a question I ask myself every time I hear something negative in hip-hop news regarding Wale. I mean, the guy isn’t exactly a gangster rapper, so why do people continuously tempt him to push wigs back or what-have-you? Why does Twitter love to troll Wale? Why does most of the DMV throw salt his way whenever he speaks? The following include some theories on “Why Wale?”, as in “why is Wale a target for so many?”

1) He’s been dubbed as being from D.C., but isn’t exactly a D.C. native.

Let’s start off with the “obvious” one. Wale, when he was first getting buzz, was credited as being from D.C., but attended school in PG County, Montgomery County, and so on. This, like many artists from the DMV (Bossman, Logic, Fat Trel to an extent, most go-go bands, etc.) is more a fault of publications not knowing that the DMV is a diverse area. In other words, there’s more to the area than D.C. and Baltimore. Wale’s from Gaithersburg, he got some buzz in PG, he appropriated D.C.-centric music (go-go) to help create said buzz, and people (read again: reporters et al) decided that he was from the district. Granted, Wale, early on, did little to assuage this fallacy and correct it. For that, one can argue he’s a bit wrong. But, it’s not all on him–nor should it be.

2) Wale is outspoken, which leads to “s-s-s-s-shots fired.”

Aside from being a Seinfeld enthusiast, Wale is probably one of the most opinionated guys in hip-hop not named Speed on the Beat (shameless plug). These opinions, at times, rub people the wrong way. When you consider the many, many, many diss tracks that have been released over the years to Wale, you notice a trend. Many of these tracks revolve around, simply put, “he said, she said BS” that Wale might’ve said to someone or someone might’ve said to him or about him. Few of these beefs have legitimate reasons behind them. By legitimate, I’m talking more “business” reasons, and let’s just leave it at that. I’m not a beefmonger.

3) Wale is outspoken, which leads to people trying to get to him.

Wale’s name and image is cannon fodder to trolls and gossip sites. From linking him to Ka–I mean “La Reina” to provoking him to almost pop off on some dude at a WWE show in D.C., people love to push his buttons. It’s probably because he’s an outspoken guy and lets everything said about him get to him in some way. In some ways, it seems as if he’s got a “me against the world” complex. I’m just speculating, guys. Don’t send the goon squad.

Wale’s got to learn to let cooler heads prevail. He’d probably avoid some of the strife he receives if he learned to chill. Wale, people know you love to voice your opinion. People will use that against you if it means they get to brag to their friends that they were the one(s) that pissed Wale off and got him to rant on something. Heck, look at The Gifted‘s intro. The guy on there started off as a Wale troll. Wale got wind of it and, in a moment of self-parody, decided to include the guy on his intro. If Wale is able to do that more often, trolls and such wouldn’t be as quick to go off on him. Unless, of course, Wale loves to troll the trolls by acting upset.

#ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmm.

Now, Wale, as a human being, has the right to respond to negative vibes. I just wish he’d not resort to responding every time.

4) Wale doesn’t put everyone on from the DMV.

Let’s be honest here. If you’re in the DMV, chances are, you’ll run into someone trying to rap/sing/produce/model/what-the-[bleep]-ever. With that said, it’s flat-out impossible for one man to put an entire city on his back, regardless of what rappers tell you. It’s even more impossible when that one man, again, isn’t exactly from the city people want him to put on his back. In this case, I’m taken back to a Jay Z line from the track “Do U Wanna Ride” from Kingdom Come.

“I put my [ninjas] on, my [ninjas] put their [ninjas] on…”

Translation: you can’t depend on every person from your area to help you out. If I did that, shoot, I’d still be waiting on K-Swift to play J dot Speed songs in her mixes in heaven. Artists, if you want to get on, you’ve got to, nine times out of ten, get yourself on. Not everyone can, will, or is obligated to, help you do that.

5) Some believe he looks at himself as the “best in the world” (no CM Punk).

If you’re good at something, you should be proud of it. Granted, “being proud” shouldn’t include getting ready to spaz on Complex editors because they didn’t include you in their top-50 list, but you should be proud of what you do. Some don’t like that, possibly because they’ve failed in some way, and will dedicate their lives to pushing the buttons of those who’ve done something (goes back to #3).

The list goes on, but I’ll stop at five because I’d rather not take up too much space/time.

It can be argued that Mr. Ralph Folarin brings some of this stuff upon himself because of his temperament. He’s a guy that, if carried, will try to joan on someone twice as hard. In some ways, the relationship between Wale and his victims/trolls is symbiotic in nature. They troll him, he trolls back, someone gets angry, then the figurative shots are fired. I wouldn’t suggest he’s doing it because he’s “sensitive” or whatever. It’s more of a “damn, maybe I’ve said too much” situation sometimes. But, as is the case with social media, once it’s out there, it’s usually out there to stay. So, because it’s out there, someone will continue to press the issue, until it gets out of hand. In short, it’s more than likely that Wale’s “rampages” and so-on are brought on by his (over?)use of social media, his outspoken nature (including to people who are just as, if not more, outspoken), and the fact that trolls love to push buttons. Combine all three and you’ve got a perfect storm of [tomfoolery].

So, why Wale? In the end, it becomes not a question of why, but why not?

Until next time and my apologies for potentially rambling,

Speed on the Beat

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)?

Baxt-X8IEAAVn_A

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.

A Reflection Written/Contributed by Camille Michelle Gray

We live in a highly impersonal world. But we take it personally.

I am a singer/songwriter, and in this modern era it is pretty much suicide not to have an online presence. So I have a YouTube page. On this page I have posted pretty well received covers of songs with a smattering of originals. I am lucky to have such a solid base of online supporters. Every time I go to check the comments, my soul sours. A teen from Jakarta is now learning how to play the guitar because of me. A beauty from Tampa wants to use my rendition for a talent show. A suave young man from London proclaims that he will buy any and all of my albums, should I choose to make them.

And so it is that these online strangers have added momentum to my dream, to my calling, to the goal I set forth for myself when I was less than a decade old. These people do not know me, though. They have never seen me in person. They’ve never witnessed a pimple on my face, or a dark shade of my mood, or the certain spark of seeing me smile. I am nothing more than a digital presence to them, and for me, they are just words on a screen. Yet those black Times New Roman words stitch themselves to my spirit, and allow me to show up for life a bit brighter than I was before.

But, I am not here to boast about my gratitude for these strangers. I’m here to examine the dark underbelly of being able to share opinions so freely and without accountability, specifically as it relates to those of us in pursuit of music.

Here’s a YouTube comment (YouTube comments, we can all agree, are where kindness and empathy go to die) I happened upon the other week:

You ruined this song, you should go kill yourself. You’re not really that pretty and you can’t sing.

Okay, whoa. Let’s just all soak that in. Regardless of whether or not you dear readers agree with that anonymous comment, I think we can all agree it’s a massive overreaction to something they just happened not to like.

My first reaction was to laugh it off. So I did that. My next reaction was to delete the comment. I did that too. (I always delete nasty comments. I don’t tolerate reckless negativity and I especially don’t want to give it life by letting it sit there being able to be read by others. Constructive criticism? Yes, always, bring it on! You telling me to die? Nah. How will I get better if I’m dead?). Then I texted a friend about it and we laughed about it together. Then I let the comment settle in my psyche. I’m not sixteen anymore, so I didn’t automatically go to some poor me wasteland. I’m grown now, and I refuse to be tackled down by anonymous mean-spirited comments. So instead, I got righteous. I got righteously indignant. I found myself justifying my talent to myself!

I can totally sing. If there’s one thing I know I know how to do, it’s sing! So that’s not even, like, factually accurate. And I can definitely write! I can write songs too. Writing and singing—these are things I know I know how to do. No one can tell me different! And so what if I’m not the prettiest. I value being able to sing and write over my looks anyway so BOO YAH!

I let this inner monologue drape my brain for another hour or so. And then once I was tired of marinating in my madness, I realized that I was taking this impersonal comment personally. Just as easily as Internet admirers allowed my soul to sour, Internet haters allowed it to drown. I allowed it to drown.

It was during this epiphany that I was drawn back to one of my favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt that is truncated below:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”

I am in the arena, literally and figuratively. Every time I get up to perform an original song, I am in the arena. And if I mess up the words and miss all of my notes, at least I had the bravery to get up there in the first place. And so it is with all musicians. Anyone brave enough to take his or her God-given expression and hold it up for the world to see, regardless of whether or not the world will like it, has dared greatly.

When I post a YouTube video, I am in the arena. I am relinquishing all control and sharing my heart space with strangers. Not in an attempt to seek validation, fame, money or adulation—but with the hope that it will inspire others to do the same, whether it is with music, graphic design, accounting, or law.

Posting mean comments behind the safety of your computer is not daring greatly. Criticizing and belittling the music others have worked so hard to create is not daring greatly. Telling someone to die or to stop pursuing their dream because you do not have the wherewithal to accept that talent comes in infinite shapes, sizes and colors and that you have the free will to pick and choose as you please without degrading or deriding…is not daring greatly.

Remember this the next time you feel the need to share cruel comments about someone who has or is daring greatly. But especially remember it when you are on the receiving end of such unkind words.

Are you in the arena? Or are you merely sitting on the sidelines?

Camille Michelle Gray is a 22 year old singer/songwriter from Washington D.C. She likes dogs, cheese, and Lady Gaga.

Camille Michelle Gray’ Social Media: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!

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