The Mic Check

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Archive for the tag “music”

Stans and “Haters”: But what about us in between?


My feelings and view on Beyoncé are more or less in the middle. While I am not the type to go on tangents of why I hate her (which I do not), I also am not the type to praise her from the mountaintops as if every fiber of my being depended on her existence. I employ Aristotle’s Golden Mean when it comes to a polarizing public figure such as Beyoncé. In other words, I am one of the many who like her music, but is far from both of the extremes. Living in this space is exhausting and can sometimes have you in a place that is harder than being a person who “hates” Beyoncé. But more than being difficult, it is rather annoying to have to constantly defend our beliefs towards her, only to get attacked by people on both sides for not picking a side. Is there a place for people like me in the world of Beyoncé?

As I sit in utter shock, disbelief, bewilderment of the winter finale of ‘Scandal’, I spot tweets of astonishment that Beyoncé was releasing an album within a matter of minutes. Wait a minute?  No promo?  Not a single in sight?  And she’s on a world tour?  WHAT!?  When did she find the time to do anything? Not to mention it is a full-length album with accompanying videos. I had to give Beyoncé her accolades. Clearly she is making major moves and like a true boss, she did so without havaing to tell people she is a boss. By the time her album had finally become available for download, I was already applying my armor for what was about to come.

The madness had already commenced. There was an air of, “yaaaaaaas b*tches, y’all better bow down to the KING with your miserable life,” to, “I guess I’m the only person who doesn’t care about Beyoncé, you know the album garbage anyway. I don’t see how y’all like that woman.”  Oh, and how can I forget the sad and tired Keri Hilson memes?

For people like myself, it is a hard road to travel. We have to tread softly in the world of Beyoncé. When we do like a song, we’re called bandwagon fans and are referred to as lessors because we weren’t down for Beyoncé from the beginning, nor are we worthy of her gloriousness. Or, we’re Judas’s and have disgraced the anti-Beyoncé club because we liked one song. It is as if we’re in between a cold war of people fighting for our allegiance when all we desire is to like, or not like, her music without repercussions. Am I wrong to say screw groupthink?

I refuse to be vilified for having a differing view. And when you have a differing view about Beyoncé, it comes at a high cost. Why should I have to think like you because you adore Beyoncé and I do not?  Why should I have to be a member of your Beyonce-boro Baptist Church coalition because you dislike her and I do not?  I shouldn’t have to do any of those things just for solace and the ability to maintain face.

With the advent of social media, participatory culture is at an all time high. Blogging and micro blogging websites such as Tumblr, WordPress, and Twitter, have made it possible for everyone to take advantage of their own personal soapbox. I will admit that when I go on my “rants,” it is great to have a place I can go to and release my inner thoughts. Not that I use social media to express my deep and most personal thoughts, because that’s what journals are for, but I appreciate HEALTHY discourse. Sadly, when it comes to Beyoncé, the sanctuary of people like me to have been tainted by the overly maniacal people on both sides of the Beyoncé fence. We’re forced to either remain silent, or become a debate gymnast. What do I mean?  Let me explain.

Whenever we encounter a conversation about Beyoncé, you might have to perform a floor exercise. We have to perform verbal summersaults to keep from having HEATED debates. We have to maneuver in a graceful manner and maintain our poise so that we do not go outside of the lines while attempting a punch front to explain our opinion. We must meticulously perform on uneven bars and hope that we end on our feet, or we’ll wind up on our backs with aches and pains. Finally, we must straddle the balance beam to maintain our stance between “King Beysus” glorification and Beyoncé condemnation.

People like me are neither fans nor haters; we just want to appreciate Beyoncé’s music without having to fight in the Kumite because we refuse to cry “matte”, and succumb to the pressures of zealots. There isn’t an award for who’s the biggest Beyoncé fan, nor will you be praised for being “different” for not liking her, like millions of other people.

To disregard what Beyoncé just did would be a mistake. There isn’t an artist who can accomplish releasing a full-length album, with accompanying videos, while on tour, and not have anything as much as a hint of what was to come. This was an accomplishment that should and could be acknowledged without venom being spewed by yay and naysayers concurrently. Doing so disfigures your point and makes you intolerable. It also places us “fence straddlers” in an awkward predicament and frankly, we’re tired of having to silence or cover ourselves with full armor to protect us because you cannot hold a logical conversation about Beyoncé without tweeting Keri Hilson death shade, or releasing your horde of fellow extremists on us because we refuse to join your army. We ALL should be able to operate together and coexist without coming to blows over differences.


Groupthink and music #30in30

Working in groups isn’t always the best solution to completing a task.  In class we discussed how when they are are more members in a group, some people try to avoid conflict by self-censoring.  They desire cohesiveness, rather than expressing their views.

As we discussed groupthink I began applying it to music, as I do with everything.  I’ve come in contact with so many “fans” who are consumed with fitting into their favorite artists “fan club” or “clique.”  Their main goal is to avoid divergence, even if this means quelling their opinions or acknowledging an alternative view.

I’ve seen this a lot when there’s someone who refers to himself or herself as a fan of someone’s music.   When they express a view opposite loving their favorites new song or video, the rest of the group labels them a hater or not a true fan.  However, it is possible to be a fan of someone’s music without loving every song they sing.

Fans who subscribe to the groupthink ideology are infamous for referring to someone whose views differs from theirs as senseless.  On more than one occasion I’ve come in contact virtually with a fan that has called me thoughtless, vile, and pathetic because I didn’t like their favorite artist. I’ve also had fans summon other fans to attack me because it’s what had to be done.  In their minds, they had to defend their favorite.

Being a fan is not about agreeing with an artist’s music all of the time, but about liking the person’s music while being honest in the event you don’t like a song or album.  The issue with groupthink is that it strips you of your identity.  Individuality is preached in society, yet your allegiance is questioned when you don’t agree 100% with their beliefs.  Being an individual isn’t about conforming but being true to you.

If you like an artist but you don’t like one of their songs, say you don’t like the song or album.  Agreeing with everyone else won’t change how you feel.

The Dalai Lama had me thinking #30in30

Today I read the Paradox Of Our Generation by the Dalai Lama and I must say it was an eye-opener.  When I came across, “We have become long on quantity, but short on quality,” I knew this could be applied to music.  I thought about why I despised the radio and conventional music.  The great one’s words kept replaying in my head.

As I get older I’m more open to listening to different style of music.  I don’t believe that all hip-hop should be conscious, nor do I believe that all r&b should be sad and slow.  I can listen to my iPod and it’s nothing out of the ordinary for the artists to go from Rubblebucket to Childish Gambino, Venus to Clear Soul forces, or Erica Leshai to Mz. Bratt.

As much as I love music, I loathe listening to the radio.  The redundancy of mediocre music vexes my soul. I can’t change the station because the same song will more than likely be played on another station.  I cursed the day my cd player broke in my car, forcing me to listen to the radio.  For a year I changed the station every five minutes because I couldn’t take another minute of the rubbish I was being subjected to.

I couldn’t escape the Dalai Lama’s words.  While his words kept resonating in my head, I looked through my iTunes.  Suddenly, his words weren’t so true.

Whenever I hear someone say, real music is dead, I can’t help but to shake my head in disgust.  Music isn’t dead people are just too lazy to look for it.  Yes I said people are too lazy to look for quality music.  We’re inundated with the same music, yet there’s so much untapped music out here waiting to penetrate your ears.

I’m conflicted as I think about the Dalai Lama’s words.  What determines the quality of music?  Is it determined by record sales and radio spins or cultural influence? There are artists on the radio that people seem to love, but I’m confused as to how they even managed to get a record deal.  I’m pretty sure they feel the same way about some of the artists I listen to. While I do believe there’s an exorbitant amount of music that lacks in “quality,” there’s still a lot of music waiting to be heard.

I accepted this challenge, 30 blogs in 30 days!

Aliya S. King inspires me.  Her writing is phenomenal.  What I love about her the most is her spirit of helping others.  When she speaks, I listen.  When she recommends someone to follow on Twitter, I don’t hesitate to click the follow button.    When she gives me advice on writing, I take copious notes and study them.

 Every Wednesday at 8pm I tune into my Twitter timeline like my four-year-old nephew when Spiderman is on.  My spidey senses are activated when Aliya does her Q&A.  For one hour she gives some of the best writing advice you could think of.  From how to approach editors when pitching an article, to getting over your anxiety when you can’t find the words and that cursor in Word is taunting you.   As you can see, she is a big influence to my writing life and tonight proved that.

Tonight she challenged us to join her in writing 30 blogs in 30 days.   The purpose of this challenge is to enhance the quality of our writing, among some other things.  After all, the only way to improve your writing is to write.  So for the next thirty days, I’m going to discipline myself to write something everyday.

Not a day goes by when I don’t listen to music.  It’s what I talk about constantly.  When I decided to become a music journalist my main goal was to change the way people thought about music.  I dread those four godforsaken words, “real music is dead.”  To be honest, it’s alive and well, but the radio will have you thinking otherwise.  The truth is, people are too lazy to find the “real music.”  My thirst for new music led me to Kirby Lauryen.

Kirby Lauryen is a singer/songwriter who’s on a journey similar to the 30 blogs in 30 days challenge, A Song a Day.  Everyday she’s challenging herself to write a song and post it on YouTube.  This is some serious dedication.  The cords she plays resonate in my spirit.  Her words have the ability to occupy my mind for longer than the duration of the song.

There’s no denying that Jennifer Hudson is a powerhouse vocalist.  Kirby was able to write the perfect song inspired by Hudson.  In return, Jennifer Hudson sang the song, “Love Is Bigger Than Fear,” in a rehearsal she live streamed for her fans to see.  On “Open Heart Surgery” she captivated Brandy’s perfect tonality,  “Have you told her lately” was perfect for Tamia’s innocent voice, and “Good Ain’t Good Enough” captured the purity of Tweet’s singing.  It’s day 214 and Kirby has yet to disappoint.

I’m not doing this challenge for blog hits and praise but to improve the quality of my writing, introduce you to some new artists like Kirby Lauryen, but more importantly, to gain confidence.  If I want to write for Rolling Stone, Ebony, Q, and whatever other publication I want to write for, I must first learn discipline and have confidence in my writing.  I’ve been told that “writers write” and that is nothing but the truth.  It’s time I caressed the keys of my MacBook Pro as if my life depended on it. I’m so excited.  Now, let the blogging begin!


Jennifer Hudson sings “Love Is Bigger Than Fear”

“Open Heart Surgery” inspired by Brandy

“Good Ain’t Good Enough” inspired by Tweet

Have You Told Her Lately” inspired by Tamia


Kirby Lauryen, “The Introduction”

Music is special.   It gives voice when you can’t find the words to say. It has the power to speak volumes.  The mellifluent sound of the piano has the ability to soothe the soul with every stroke of the ivory keys.  Combine that with a euphonious voice and there lies magic.

Singers like Kirby Lauryen are special.  The texture of her voice as she goes between her high and low tessitura is very pleasant.  She gives each song exactly what it needs, leaving it void of anything that takes away from it’s essence.

Recently Lauryen debuted her EP entitled The Introduction.    While it’s only three songs, it’s worthy of being added to your collection.

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