Saturday, July 9, 2011

GeTTin' GROWN. . .

Hello Fans:

You know, there comes a time in everyone’s life when you truly realize what it means to be an adult.  I don’t know when that point comes for many people, but when it happens, you’ll chuckle to yourself, as you realize just how much older you’ve become and how different your mind-set is.

My most recent revelation of just how much older I’ve become came for me over the 4th of July weekend when I watched the rebroadcast of B.E.T.’s Music Awards.  I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I can tell you after having watched the Award show, a very strange feeling came over me.  Ooh, what was the feeling. . .umm, can’t quite put it into words!  No, I can put it into one word.  I felt ‘shame,’ plain and simple.

Why, you ask?  Well. . .years ago I stopped watching award shows because I realized just how political they are, and how many of my favorite artists got passed over, when in fact, they should have won many, so for that reason, and that alone, I stopped watching~~couldn’t handle the blatant unfairness.  I can recall when B.E.T. began having their music award shows to showcase African-American artists in the music and film industries, and I was just elated with this news.

The three-hour long program was pretty exciting watching artists I admired receive awards for their hard work and achievements, and I’d sit in my living room as if I was at a live concert~~clapping my hands and stomping my feet to the many great performances, and it was awesome, and I enjoyed the natural high.  But, as time marched on, and the music industry changed (Hip-Hop) to be exact, came into play, I noticed some very drastic changes to B.E.T.’s format and the format of their award show.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like some Hip-Hop (especially old school rap), but I am a fan of some of the newer wave of rappers, and I most certainly do agree that they deserve to have a platform and an award ceremony for their contributions to their genre of music, but to overindulge a R&B Music Award show with Hip-Hop being the main focal point, I cannot agree with that.  Actually, I laughed when during the commercials, B.E.T. would advertise that the Hip-Hop Award Show would be coming later in the summer.  Hmm, from the looks of what I was viewing, I thought I was watching the Hip-Hop Awards.

And while I’m on this subject, something else I’ve noticed over the years that deeply disturbs me is all the sexual connotations to B.E.T.’s award ceremony.  This year, there were so many ‘beeps’ because of the curse words and vulgar language, I thought the audio on my television was acting up, but then I quickly realized, “ooh, that’s because of what this particular rapper is saying.”   There are four to five rappers on stage barking and grunting their words out, giving orders to the audience while half-naked, saggin’ jeans displaying their Ralph Lauren underwear, six pack abs, piercings everywhere, and tatted bodies.  Or, there are a few overweight rappers on the stage opening their shirts displaying ‘breasts,’ and I’m thinking, “Wow, women aren’t allowed to bare their breasts so openly, yet and still, there’s a man on stage baring his.”  Hmmm, what’s wrong with this picture?

So, Fans, this is when some revelations hit me.  I must be getting old.  I'm no prude, by any means, and when I was younger I went through what I like to call my "hoochie mama days," but I always did it with class and taste.  But, if I see one more wiry, hard-body, half-naked rapper, with piercings and tattoos all over his damn body with saggin’ jeans or an overweight rapper, with a gut that looks like he's about to give birth to twins, bobbing up and down trying to keep up with the smaller size rappers, breathless and running around on stage like a buffoon, or a woman singer gyrating her body parts in the camera, (i.e., ass, vagina and breasts), whipping their weaves around and vogue-ing like a model, serving it up to us like food on a damn platter, I swear I am going to scream.  Where is the class?  What happened to tastefully?  They all could learn something from the old days of Burlesque dancers, who knew how to show and tell without showing and telling~~they left it up to the viewer to imagine what they were doing.  But these artists today leave nothing to the imagination.  They put it all out there for us to see.  And I'm personally sick and tired of it!  You don't have to have talent today, just a greased body, mix in a rapper's vulgar lyrics, add some sexy stripper moves, and you're an overnight sensation. All that's missing is the damn pole!  Is this all there is to selling CD’s today?  Whoever can grind the hardest in a video, and sing/rap the most vulgar language possible, or how many sexual positions the human body can get into or how many orgies one may delight in.  This is talent. . .really?  You’ve got to be kidding me, right?

But the sad thing is, I know this is what sells because otherwise, artists wouldn’t be doing it, record labels wouldn’t push it, and we wouldn’t be buying it!  Well. . .I don’t buy it, let’s say that.  I called myself catching up with Music Choice on Demand to see what music is out there and watch some of the newer videos, and Dear God, did I get quite an education.  Each video I selected got raunchier than the last, if that is even possible.  I do mean, ev-errr-ry video was about screwing somebody, whether they want to screw you, or the vast masses, trust me, the point was received.  The artist did a magnificent job in relaying a visual how-to, if you will, on how to get your rocks off.  You get my drift.  Immediately I began thinking, what happened to love?  Where did ‘real’ lyrics disappear to?  What happened to ‘real’ talented artists?

There are a handful of artists out here today that I love and respect, and Fans, I did say a handful, so that’s not many.  When I realized that the lovely and talented Ms. Patti Labelle was B.E.T.’s Lifetime Achievement Recipient, I could have cried.  Not because Patti didn’t deserve it, because she most certainly did, it was the shame I felt knowing she had to sit out there in that audience and be subjected to this new school wave of artists gyrating, and dry humping the air with their suggestive dances and vulgar lyrics.  An artist who has been in the business for 50 years had to be subjected to that?  I was beside myself.  If she didn’t feel shame, I did for her.  And to know one of her dearest friends, Gladys Knight, handed the award to her, meant she, too, had to be subjected to that madness that B.E.T. called entertainment.  My soul cried for hours.

Folks, to say the very least, I haven’t been the same since I saw that award show, and after seeing how horrible this year’s show was, I don’t believe I’ll be watching any others.  There were a few great performances, i.e., thank God for comedian Kevin Hart, Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight, Cee-Lo, Marsha Ambrosious and Alicia Keys (before the rappers came out and destroyed her beautiful medley), so all was not a total loss, but everything else was jaw-dropping to me.  It was great to see Anita Baker, Cherrelle, The Five Heartbeats and Alexander, but some of them wore the wrong type of clothing bearing their out-of-shape bodies, fat stomachs, cellulite and not to mention, some voices were a little weak from partying in their youth and not taking care of themselves, and some couldn't even remember the lyrics.  As I watched, I just had a blank stare.  I couldn’t believe I was watching my people behave like that on TV for millions of viewers.  What has happened to Black artists?  Do we no longer care about pride or how we're perceived to the world?  It's all about that mean green!  Is this truly all we care about?

Forgive me, yall, but was I the only one that  noticed it appeared some of the black female recording artists were in a race to see how much of their big asses could be squeezed into a tight fitting dress?  What. . .are some of them insecure that Kim Kardashian gets so much media attention because of her derriere, so now my sistas got to put theirs out there to let the world know they got back too?  I mean what the hell is going on?  What happened to nice free flowing dresses or gowns for Pete's sake?  Queen Latifa looked elegant.  Taraji P. Henson was gorgeous, as usual.  If those women could look beautiful, what were the others thinking? Chris Brown dressed like he was going to a neighborhood barbeque or something~~a T-shirt, jeans and sneakers~~come on. . .really, dude?  Diddy was dressed in a handsome white suit. After all, wasn't this supposed to be an 'Award' show?  I don't know what that was B.E.T. presented before me, but it damn sure wasn't about the music!

It seems like each year my people feel they have to come up with something different and unique so they stand out from the rest.  The more weird and eccentric you are, the more you'll get media play.  And what is so funny to me is, they didn't do anything new.  In fact, I don't see much originality in the artists today, but I see a whole lot of Grace Jones wanna-be's, and poor imitators of Jodi Whatley's flare and style.  Hell, these artists today all sound the same.  Lots of times I find myself asking (with pained look on my face), who is that singing~~is that Kelly Rowland or Rihanna? I guess this is my WTF moment?

Needless to say, I am appalled and ashamed of many of my people in the music industry.  I am not happy at all!  The images that some project to the youth today is downright despicable and tasteless, but this is what the record labels want, and yet and still, some rappers/singers today criticize other black artists who keep it real and have the audacity to call them sell outs.  I give kudos to the gospel group Mary Mary who refused to change their image and sound to fit in with the rest of the lot.  They love the Lord and sing and praise His name in all their songs, and if their music happens to crossover into other genres, well so be it.  So. . .one has to ask, just who are the real sell outs?  Think about that!

Until next weekend, Love, Peace and Let's Get It Together, My People!
Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/International Poet
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