Posts Tagged ‘Michael Jackson’

BeyonJay: Black Love On Top

August 30, 2011

BET Awards '06: Partners At Every Stage

This post is really a quick congratulations to King B and Young Hov on expecting their first child. I tend not to swerve into gossip blog lanes but I couldn’t help notice how fast the attention came away from Kim Humphries’ recent wedding! When it comes to big news, the biggest entertainer since the incomparable Michael Jackson (yeah, I said it long before her husband did-click here) runs the celebrity media world!

With one embrace of her bump in her gorgeous red gown on their black carpet, Beyoncé turned the VMAs into the BeyMAs.

Who Run The World? This mother to B!

She capped off the night with a sweet, sexy rendition of “Love On Top” in custom D&G maternity trousers. When the last note rang, she dropped the mic, popped open her tuxedo jacket, and rubbed her belly, smiling from ear to ear. In a cynical, star-obsessed world depressed by the global economy, it’s great to see what comes across (to me anyway) as authentic wedded bliss and maternal joy, without the hazy glare of a reality show’s filter. It’s also wonderful to have a model of a woman who excelled in her career, married, and got pregnant (please stop saying “knocked up”–that’s for jumpoffs and accidents) in that order.

Black Love On Top

In the wings, Jay-Z was an exuberant proud papa watching his wife and unborn child, clearly over the moon. He’s ready to be a present, powerful father, ready to break the cycle of fatherlessness he experienced and Decoded for us in his memoir. May all his fans who stay in that deadbeat baby daddy loop be freed by his example and step their game up. May all the good dads out there be encouraged, knowing that a new member is joining their ranks to shine a light on the good they do that goes largely unnoticed simply because they aren’t famous.

Cheers to the parents-to-Bey! Here’s to a happy, healthy baby–and Black Love on top!

Forgiving Chris Brown: Re-post & Update

June 29, 2010

I am on record as being one who advocated for the forgiveness of the multi-talented, multi-platinum Chris Brown as far back as February 2009, when the most media and much of the public wanted to banish and boycott him forever. His missteps with the media in the aftermath turned the fury way up, as he looked far from remorseful—especially in contrast to Rihanna’s composed, deliberate testimony on 20/20. I understand the fury; I was furious about his assault of Rihanna on Grammy Night 2009 too.

But this rigid, visceral approach to such a layered issue is neither humane nor realistic. Endless castigation does not break the cycle of relationship violence. If we want young men, especially young men of color, to stop abusing women, we must condemn the behavior, and support the full rehabilitation of the person. Ron Artest has shown us that therapy can help anyone rise to become a champion in work and in life. Chris must seek help from psychological professionals, spiritual counselors, and anger management experts. Chris is going to be atoning and reconciling for years to come. That process is well underway.

The part we as consumers, fans, and members of the media can support him with is the revitalization of his career. Chris Brown is a gifted young performer who deserves to make a living at what he is passionate about. BET provided Chris Brown with the opportunity of a lifetime on the 2010 BET Awards: to pay homage to his mentor Michael Jackson with a powerful medley of the King of Pop’s hit songs and signature dance routines. True to form, the media looked for the worst from a heartfelt and otherwise technically flawless performance–until the part where Chris broke down emotionally in an effort to sing “Man In The Mirror”. His sincerity was questioned. His tears, snot and hoarse voice were called ‘staged’. Just another signal that the path of least resistance, further vilification of the young Black male, was being tread yet again. A brother can’t even emote!

But the audience on their feet at the Shrine and millions on couches across America knew that what he was feeling was very real: the overwhelm of Michael passing and finally being able to commemorate his idol’s life; the passage of the hardest of his own 21 years; the energy of the room singing when he could not, crying with him, releasing with him. This is what it means to be human. This collective catharsis was an important step in the healing process for everyone who empathizes with Chris and wishes him well. It’s exactly why that moment was the one everyone was talking about the morning after and well into this week.

The crime will not be forgotten, but the man needs to be forgiven.

We say we want him to take a look at himself and make a change; change is hard. Let him do it.

I’ve re-posted my commentary for reference. I look forward to your comments.

As posted by July 24, 2009

Thembisa S. Mshaka

This past February, Chris Brown shocked the world. In the wee morning hours of the Grammy Awards, he brutally assaulted his then-girlfriend Rihanna. On June 22, 2009, Chris Brown pled guilty. The judge handed him his sentence, convicting Brown of felony assault, mandating him to keep his distance from Rihanna (50 yards for five years), and to serve 5 years of probation including 180 days of community labor. Brown was also ordered to enroll in a domestic violence counseling program. Brown’s face registered remorse and relief that day in court; looked like it dawned on him how close he came to prison time. But was he truly sorry?

It was hard to tell. Brown’s camp released a tepid statement: “Words cannot begin to express how sorry and saddened I am over what transpired. I am seeking the counseling of my pastor, my mother and other loved ones and I am committed, with God’s help, to emerging a better person.” Meanwhile photos of the 19-year-old partying hard in Miami contrasted those of a sorrowful Rihanna in the days that followed. His silence was as palpable as his absence from television and radio. Suddenly the freckle-faced crooner resurfaced and sent a video message to the world while bowling with rapper Bow Wow on May 26: “I’m not a monster… I got a new album droppin’.” Five months after his love quarrel-gone-awry, Brown released another video apologizing: “I take great pride in me being able to exercise self-control and what I did was inexcusable.”

Was his gesture too little too late? Not only for his victim, Rihanna, but for his fans and critics? I conducted an informal poll on Facebook and Twitter. While the media was castigating him, I blogged back in February (click hyperlinked Feruary 2009 above) that the public was too quick to dismiss him and predict his career’s end. That compassionate condemnation was in order, not excommunication.

Perhaps the apology is a hard pill to swallow because Brown seemed so cavalier after the debacle. Judging by the many responses I received, I gleaned that his silence, while understandable at the advice of counsel, allowed the negative perception of this young man to fester into the selling of T-shirts emblazoned with his image and a striking slash through his face and dubbing his namesake a slang term synonymous with a “beat down” as in “Don’t get Chris Brown-ed.”

The Twitterverse had much to say about Brown’s remorse. “Why not release the video the day after the verdict?” asked one Tweeter. Another said Brown’s apology would have been deemed more sincere and set a strong example to his young fans about facing consequences if he’d done so immediately after the final verdict. Some believe his public remorse opens the door for fans to begin liking him again with one female tweeter professing: “Chris Brown, I love you more than ever.” But it was a male respondent who expressed the optimism that forgiveness should render: “He’s young enough to change.”

Sure, the execution could have been tighter, but I challenge anyone to recall an apology that felt smooth as silk following an egregious action. Taking a slice of humble pie and expressing remorse is usually awkward and delayed, requiring time. Reconciliation takes patience and work and Brown has taken his first step. Some might argue that Brown’s timing is off, but I believe an apology has no expiration date. Brown deserves forgiveness. What if Chris Brown was your son, nephew or brother? Assuming a zero-tolerance policy on abuse is fine, but judging someone unfairly and withholding support can interfere or jeopardize the healing process and ultimately redemption. We can stand against violence by looking its perpetrators in the eye and demand that they be and do better, but remember, it’s never too late to choose forgiveness over judgment.

Thembisa S. Mshaka is a 17-year entertainment industry veteran and author of the mentorship and career guide, Put Your Dreams First: Handle Your [entertainment] Business

A World Without Michael

July 2, 2009


I used to slide back and forth on the carpet-free floors at home, moon-walking in my socks. When I learned how to do it in a circle, you couldn’t tell me nothin’! I used to open up my high school locker to a collage of him made from fanzine posters. I wore my button of him wearing his yellow vest with the pride of an innocent crush.

My aunt Lainie and I partied to the 45 of ‘Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough’ from the Off The Wall album; it usually fell into rotation somewhere between ‘Rapper’s Delight’ by the Sugar Hill Gang and ‘Shake Your Pants’ by Cameo.

My best friend Maliika Chambers (now a college professor) and I stared for hours at the Jacksons Victory poster in the closet of my room. As a young Muslim girl, I wasn’t allowed to put images up on my wall in the house. But on the walls of my walk-in closet, the Jacksons were the paint. The Victory Tour was my first concert, thanks to my grandfather, whose escort was the only way I was allowed to attend. I screamed until I lost my voice. I still remember my Victory Tour tee shirt: black, baseball-style with purple sleeves.

I wore it under my school uniform. Anything to be closer to Michael.

And then, there was Thriller.

I actually met one of my dearest friends, and amazing fine artist, Alex Asher Daniel, at our neighborhood ‘premiere’ of the Thriller video. It happened at my neighbor Jennifer’s house; she had MTV. She lived across the street from me in Altadena, CA. She also happened to be his girlfriend at the time.

We were all so mesmerized, that only while recounting our ‘the first time I saw ‘Thriller’ stories did it occur to Alex and I that we’d met over a decade earlier at Jennifer’s ‘premiere’! Ten years later I could still feel the sheer awe we collectively experienced as we watched this movie of a music video, complete with storyline, suspense, special effects, score and a one-song soundtrack. Over the span of 14 minutes, he went from adorable and sweet to terrifying, but there was no looking away as he moved.

He was a dancer like no other, part warrior boot dancer, part b-boy, part Bob Fosse.

I terrorized my younger brother and sister with ‘Thriller’, playing the Vincent Price part of the song extra loud to scare them, lights out, windows open, curtains blowing. Heartbreak Hotel was pretty eerie too, I must admit. I wondered, the nerve of Sefra and Sue! I could never imagine breaking Michael’s heart.

Then, on June 25, 2009 it stopped. First his heart. Then the world.

I swear I could feel a hole tear through the Universe as the Creator called Michael Jackson home.

And then, his music got the world turning again. Like a healing touch or a cleansing rain, it was everywhere, filling the air, all over the web, pouring out of cars and shops and blaring through ear buds. The writer Harry Allen had a brilliant idea, tweeting: “When we theatrically screen Jackson’s music videos, this must be there: “Can You Feel It?” I’m with Harry. Sony should play all of Michael’s videos and screen Moonwalker in theaters. If Thriller knocked our socks off in a living room, imagine what it would do for this generation of young people on a movie screen.

This is my request to Rolf and Barry over at Sony BMG: can you hook it up by August 29 for his birthday? Re-master the videos and show them with a theater partner, with proceeds going to a cause that mattered to Michael.

I’m blessed to have known a world with Michael Jackson in it.

Can you imagine a world without Michael?

There would be:
No Jackson 5.

No Jackson 5 cartoon.

Motown would definitely have been a different label. No ‘The Wiz’ as we know it. Quincy Jones would have been without his muse. No easing on down the road. Who else could have done a better scarecrow with the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrapper on his nose?

No mini-movie music videos.

No Alphonso Ribeiro being discovered for a Pepsi ad. Without Michael, multitudes of Black people would be drinking a lot more Coca-Cola.

No iconic performance of Billie Jean at the Motown 25 special. Unthinkable. Motown is 50 now; and 25 years after Motown 25, that’s the only moment of the entire show that was seared into my consciousness.

No USA for Africa.

No ‘We Are The World.’

Michael Jackson is the Guinness Book of World Records holder for most charitable pop star. Without Michael, countless human beings would have gone hungry, remained sick, or perished. Michael Jackson even raised the profile of the animal kingdom. It started with that adorable tiger cub inside the Thriller LP. From there, it was Bubbles the chimp. Without Michael, I bet we wouldn’t like llamas as much.

Hip-hop would certainly be less radio-friendly, less fun, and much less interesting without Michael. Michael had hip-hop caught up in his rapture, from the hardest emcees to the shiny crossover acts.

Without Michael, no ‘O.P.P.’ with Naughty By Nature.

No ‘It’s All About The Benjamins’ for Puff Daddy and the Family.

No ‘Hey Lover’ from LL and Boyz II Men.

No ‘911 Is A Joke’ from Public Enemy.

No ‘She Said’ from Pharcyde, my personal favorite use of Michael’s work in rap music.

No ‘Breakadawn’ from De La Soul.

And hip-hop soul would be missing some bangers, too.

Check out the Michael Jackson Sample Map:

Put simply, a world without Michael, a world without his melody, would be a world less beautiful. While I must accept that he has become an ancestor, I refuse to live in a world without Michael. His songs and performances will play on forever more. What else would we be missing in a world without Michael?


Share your memories and comments here.