Posts Tagged ‘Rihanna’

Why Willow Is Winning

October 20, 2010

Willow Smith has been in the game for a minute. She’s appeared in a couple films and is now taking the music world by storm.

Willow has captured the imagination of music listeners of all ages with her certified smash hit “Whip My Hair”. The video debuts this week on BET during 106 & Park.

Check it out here:

No shots Rih Rih, but a nine year-old has managed to steal your thunder without baring so much as a midriff. As tweeted by poet Bassey Ikpi (my edits on the f -bomb):

@BasseyworldLive: Somewhere Rhianna is poking the f*** out of a 9 year old size voo doo doll.

I’m not pitting these female acts against one another, that’s not my steez. Y’all know this. But I can’t help but notice that Willow’s record is getting crazy media buzz, lots of airplay, and has the Internets all aflutter, without any sexualization whatsoever, while it’s *crickets* over there for the ironically titled upcoming release for Rihanna, Loud.

Now, she’s the nine year-old daughter of Hollywood Power Couple Will and Jada Pinkett-Smith, who have both been in the business since they were teens. Of course they would make sure their baby’s clothes were on at all times.

But we can’t say that of all Hollywood parents, so we shouldn’t take it for granted. Just ask the Ramseys. Or for that matter, mad parents from the ‘hood to the trailer park who let their little girls pop their coochies at family gatherings.

Willow wins because the quality is there. The song is hot. It’s age-appropriate–and still manages to be fun for listerners her age and above. She wins because the Ray-Kay lensed video is beautifully produced with kids of all colors having a blast, acting and dancing their respective ages and showing less skin than I’ve seen in a video in quite some time. Sad that it’s so rare, it’s become refreshing. She is also advocating for full self-expression. It doesn’t mean bad behavior. It means feeling free while letting others see. And if there’s no other time in life one can do this, it’s at her age. I say “go for it”.

Willow also wins because she is surrounded by a top-knotch team of experienced professionals, both related and unreleated to her–who have her best interests at heart, and are not trying to sell her out for a quick buck or 15 minutes of their own fame, like some of these celebrity parents and managers out here. This is something I warn against in my book. Overbook, Roc Nation, and Columbia Records know what they have and I am sure will be keeping themselves (and one another) accountable for the span of her career, as all entities who hold the careers of others in their hands should.

Finally, Willow wins because she is sending multiple positive messages from an industry that spews negative ones ad nauseam.

She tells girls who look like her that their hair is perfect the way it is and to whip it. She tells everyone to rise above negativity and continue to live their lives, having fun while they’re at it. And she tells young Black Girls that they rock! Just in time for Black Girls Rock! Founder Beverly Bond’s upcoming Awards show on BET of the same name, airing November 7th at 8pm EST. It is an amazing, must-watch, must-DVR situation. And I predict that she’ll be getting the Who Got Next award very soon.

I am praying that Willow sells so many records, labels rush to snap up more wholesome young people to make music for their own demographic and the parents who raise them–especially young artists of color. The urban youth market exists, label guys and gals. Don’t box them into listening to music that’s too grown for them. You see how they buy gadgets and shoes, give them some good fund music to throw in the bag!

Thank you Willow, for handling your entertainment business! Continued fulfillment and success to you!

Bonus track: Fraggle Roc Nation Remix of Sesame Street’s ‘I Love My Hair’

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4AVd8El-QY]

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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 essence.com commentary for reference. I look forward to your comments.

As posted by essence.com 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

CHRIS BROWN SPEAKS

February 16, 2009

After giving it some thought before I hit the keyboard, I blogged about this incident a few days ago with a call for discernment and compassion.

Chris Brown has released a statement about the events that occurred on Grammy Night.

“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. Much of what has been speculated or reported on blogs and/or reported in the media is wrong. While I would like to be able to talk about this more, until the legal issues are resolved, this is all I can say except that I have not written any messages or made any posts to Facebook, on blogs or any place else. Those posts or writings under my name are frauds.”

Meanwhile, Rihanna’s father has spoken as well, saying, “she is OK” and that she will “take a stand for women”.

The legal outcome, and whether their relationship can weather the media sh*tstorm remain to be seen. The rush to judgment and escalation of falsehoods by the media, (especially those calling themselves news outlets) based on rumor is simply irresponsible. Maybe they should chill until they get some substantive evidence and real statements from those involved. But my assessment says that won’t happen.

Why would Chris or Rihanna’s people give any of these outlets an exclusive when they’ve treated this situation so sloppily? What happened to the journalists stars could trust to be objective reporters, even if that journalist disagreed with their actions?

What happened was the explosion of media participants who neither have any idea about nor any concern for journalistic principles. Did the entertainment-news-gossip-blogsphere circus kill the journalist? Or just drown out their voices?