A Non-Definitive, Unranked List of the Blackest Moments in Beyoncé’s Formation Video

 

“I did not come to play with you hoes.  I came to slay bitch.” -Big Freedia

If you don’t live under a rock, you are aware that Beyoncé just dropped a new song and video (the song is free from TIDAL). Smarter minds than mine agree that this may be her Blackest project yet. So I’ve decided to sit down and try to comb through the Blackness.

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List of Tone Deaf White People Adds Jimmy Kimmel to the Ranks

Now I’ve never been a die-hard late night fan.  In fact, the only late night show host I stan for is John Oliver (Samantha Bee soon to be added to this list).  To me late night was always celebrity press tours and average looking White men being mildly amusing.  Since I’m not a normal viewer, I rely on Twitter Black Twitter to notify me if something worthwhile goes down.  Black Twitter never disappoints.

Hollywood has recently come under fire (again) for its lack of diversity in this years Oscar nominations spawning the return of the brilliant #OscarsSoWhite.  All this talk of opportunity, equity, and diversity didn’t sit quite right with Jimmy Kimmel.  He used his ample platform to mock the controversy, not to mock the Academy and their tendency to dismiss Black artistry, but to mock Blackness.  Continue reading

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Ryan Coogler is Black Excellence

Two years ago I had been itching to see Fruitvale Station.  While the rest of my family went to go see something that was probably terrible, I made my way into the old seats of The Magic Johnson Theatre in Baldwin Hills.  Though I had only heard rave reviews, I didn’t quite know what to expect from this small film from a new director.  Not only did the film blow me away, but I felt compelled to tell the world about it.  Many of the conversations I had in the weeks after seeing the film had some version of “Have you heard of this movie Fruitvale Station?”, “Have you seen Fruitvale?”, “Yo, Fruitvale Station though…”.  The film’s director, Ryan Coogler, proved to be a master filmmaker.

 

With Creed Ryan Coogler has done it again.

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Black Women Deserve Nuance…Azealia Banks Included

Azealia Banks in Concert

Image by: Dena Flows

Azealia Banks is one of the most complex figures in popular culture.  Because Banks’s Twitter beefs garner so much buzz, many fail to see the shrewd analysis of the intersection of race, gender, sexuality, and culture present in Banks’s comments.  In an interview with Hot 97 last year, (which I’ve decided is a must see for anyone who wants to write about Azealia Banks now or in the future) Banks discusses the grit needed to get her album off the ground, her fierce Twitter exchanges, and the harsh reality of being a talented artist in an industry that privileges White mediocrity. Continue reading

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Lady Leshurr is Black Excellence

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: There is no pop culture without Black women.  Today in Black Excellence/Slayage we have Lady Leshurr: British rapper from Birmingham whose buzz has traveled across the pond.  Not only does Leshurr flawlessly blend genres, but her flow is sick.   Lady Leshurr takes me to England, the Caribbean, and NYC all in one verse, and I am SO here for the ride.  I could gush all day, but I figured I’d let y’all know about her genius before you have to Shazam that Samsung commercial.  Oh, and if “Queen’s Speech 4” (Yes, there is a 1, 2, and 3) wasn’t giving you life already…SHE IS FREESTYLING!!!!!  Whew! Girl slay; I’ll be over in the states dancing like Beyoncé in 7/11.


 

Note:  Normally this blog analyzes pop culture through a critical lens, but sometimes we all need to rest our critical eye and enjoy some Black Excellence.

 

 

 

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Lions, and Hunting, and Blackness…Oh My.

Palmer and Cecil

Source: Today

I am Black.

I am a vegetarian.

The internet is ablaze after pictures of a Minnesotan, “Trohpy Hunter” dentist, Dr. Walter Palmer posed with his kill “fan favorite” #CeciltheLion. Protests are being staged outside of his practice, which remains closed, opposers have posted horrendous Yelp reviews, and he is encased in an internet shit storm. I have a lot of reactions to this story, outrage, side-eye, and some face palms. What this story has done most of all, however, is made me reflect on my aforementioned identities, and seek to understand how we collectively apply outrage as a society. I have analyzed and re-analyzed this story top to bottom and side to side, so we will break it up into parts:

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BITCH. BETTER. HAVE. MY. MONEY.

Rihanna just released her music video for her hit single “Bitch Better Have My Money”, a song based on a real experience where her previous accountant cheated her out of millions of dollars. I have now watched the video several times, and I’m currently assembling a bountiful offering to leave at the altar of BadGirlRiRi. However, not everyone is as ready as me to praise Rihanna, a lot of feminists (mostly White) are upset; further they are calling the video misogynist. I have read think piece after think piece, and have found some patterns: many feminists do not have the appropriate knowledge base to apply a critical race analysis to their dissection of popular culture, you can apparently try to discredit future backlash by saying you don’t care if people think you don’t understand race, and lastly you can apparently not fully watch a video before writing a critique and then publish said critique in a major publication (the woman they kidnap never dies, why do people keep saying this ???).

There is a lot to unpack in this video, from the subversion of racial and gender power dynamics to violence against women by women. Though I’m a fan of the video over all, it is important to note there are problematic elements.  I mean I am watching a women being tied up, hung upside down topless, being forced to consume drugs and alcohol, and knocked out with a bottle, all this amongst being repeatedly stuffed in a damn trunk. Violence against women is pervasive and a real problem in our culture, so is it right to excuse the violence we see in Rihanna’s video? We shouldn’t excuse it, but we should look at its socio-political meaning.  Further, as Mikki Kendall reminded me in a recent TWIB appearance, sometimes we like problematic media, and that’s ok.  After all we can still critique and analyze the images and narratives we consume, but still tear up the dance floor when “Get Low” comes on.

As we have a dual relationship with the media, our existing power dynamics shape our art; additionally, our consumption of popular culture and other cultural mediums have a broader social impact. So what about the violence in Rihanna’s video? Is she playing into existing social power dynamics that demean and marginalize women or is she subverting these norms? Rihanna is a visionary and the creator of some of the most important cultural artifacts of our time; she showcases her brilliance here by taking a narrative rooted in history (Black women at the service of the White elite) and flipping it on its head.  However, in the end it is still a member of a marginalized group whose pain the audience mocks.

There is conviction and intention in every frame of this video, and unfortunately those within the feminist movement with the largest platforms and microphones are only scratching the surface.  So I have decided to delve deeper and unpack this iconic video.

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