Grammys

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10min2740

EVER found yourself genuinely delighted that someone is happy, despite your opinion of the reason for their happiness?

Like how an attractive damsel would be overjoyed by shedding some kilos, you’d obviously acknowledge her achievement of reaching a personal goal, but in the back of your head know that she doesn’t need the number on a scale to validate her beauty.

That’s how I felt Monday morning, watching highlights from the 91st Academy Awards. It was when legendary film director, producer and writer Spike Lee went to accept his first ever Oscar award for his recent film, BlacKkKlansman.

One of the best films ever to be made, Do The Right Thing, which Spike wrote, directed and produced in 1989 was snubbed by the Academy awards. Earlier this month, speaking to The Washington Post Spike was quoted saying “This is not in any way disrespectful to the Academy, but after Do The Right Thing, I just said ‘you know, whatever award it is, I’m not going to let myself be in a position where I feel I have to have my work validated.”

That quote alone lets us into the pain Spike felt from the 1990 Oscar Awards. On the other side of coin, his elation on Sunday night’s ceremony demonstrates how much the award means to him. And accepted the award with a moving speech.

I have not watched BlacKkKlansman, so I can’t say if Spike deserved the award for that particular movie. But on Tuesday morning I posted on Facebook that Spike is too great to be excited by an Oscar. Without trying to throw shade at the irrepressible director, the point I was merely trying to convey was that great artists don’t need to be certified by the academy institution to sanction their prominence. Especially black artists.

But what stood out for me, was how most of the young creatives on the social site, liked, agreed, loved and even shared the post.

I get why Spike was hurt by Do The Right Thing‘s loss, and why 30 years later, he jumped on Samuel Jackson’s arms like a lil kid, in accepting his award. Think about it, Spike was 32 years-old when the awards that celebrate cinematic excellence took place in 1990, and they had been taking place for more than 60 years. So you can imagine the clout, prestige and significance of a recognition from the Academy to a filmmaker born in the 1950s.

Not to suggest today’s young creatives don’t appreciate or yearn even, for industry recognition. There’s disinterest and distrust towards “honours” from industry gatekeepers. In music and film.

I was my mother’s one year-old sweetheart when Malcom X (also directed by Spike) was in cinemas. I watched the film years later and was astonished to find out that Denzel Washington, who played the US political activist, didn’t take the Best actor award in the 1993 Oscars. Why would I trust them, if they dismally failed to celebrate Denzel’s finest piece of acting?

Young artists don’t trust these institutions.  After winning his Grammy last month, Drake gave an acceptance speech that displayed the power that today’s artists have taken from these ceremonies. “We play in an opinion-based sport, not a factual based sport. It’s not the NBA where at the end of the year you’re holding the trophy, because you made the right decision or won the games. Look, if there’s people who have regular jobs coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard-earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows. You don’t need this right here. I promise you, you already won.”

Poignant words from the Canadian rapper on the Grammy stage, basically giving the prestigious music awards a polite middle-finger. And this by the way, is from an artist who a few years ago gave away his own Grammy awards on Instagram to artists who he thought were snubbed.

Social media has allowed artists direct access to their fans. Artists are continuously on the receiving end of affirmation from their followers, reminding them of the real impact their art has. Do The Right Thing grossed over $30 million in cinemas, with a budget of less than $10 million. I wonder how Spike would look at that snub, had the movie came out during the prevalence of social media. The validation that comes with seeing people from around the world, celebrating your work would have some effect on your view on awards. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler, said he appreciated how 2018’s big movie was appreciated by the audience.

While celebrating the Grammy wins of Cardi B, Jay Rock and Anderson.Paak on Twitter, J.Cole mentioned how this moment for them, is bigger than the awards could say.

Of course there are senior citizens in Hollywood who’ve had this thinking long before, like Woody Allen who has never accepted awards from the Academy. “The whole concept of awards is silly. I cannot abide by the judgement of other people, because if you accept it when they say you deserve an award, then you have to accept it when they say you don’t,” said the dodge old man.

I personally don’t have an issue with awards per se, it’s people running these bodies that I have gripe with. Black creatives are always chasing to be recognised by Caucasian-led institutions.

Someone made a point on my post on Facebook that Spike was also celebrating the milestone because of the tireless work he’s done as an activist for the inclusion of black people in Hollywood. I honestly believe it’s through the work done by people such Spike, that Black Panther and even Jordan Peele’s Get Out won Oscars. It’s through the noise he’s been making.

That’s good and all, but do we still need to be making noise about not being appreciated by white people? why should we fight for inclusion into institutions created by Caucasians ? Our generation doesn’t want to live out its blackness through white norms.


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4min810

It had nearly been a decade since Miriam Makeba released any project, when she gave the world her classic album Sangoma in 1988.

Mama Africa, as she was known throughout the world, was a superstar of note. She is credited, alongside Youssou N’dour, Salif Keita and Hugh Masekela and others, for being the first globally recognized African musicians.

Sangoma was as a follow up to Comme une Symphonie d’amour that came out in 1979. She was the first world superstar to come from Mzansi, who never lost touch with her Africaness, regardless of where in the world she was.

During her time in exile, after being banned by the South African government, a number of countries became an abode for her. She was issued passports by Algeria, Guinea, Belgium and Ghana. She held nine passports and was granted honorary citizenship by at least 10 countries.

True to her moniker Mama Africa, she was the only performer invited by Halie Selassie to perform at the inauguration of the Organisation of African Unity (what it today known as the African Union) in 1963. A book could be written on her life as a political activist, alone. She was married to Stokely Carmichael, who was a prominent member of the Black Panther Party, and was very vocal against the apartheid system in South Africa, from wherever she was in the world.

In her Grammy award winning album with Harry Belafonte in 1966,one of the stand-out songs there was Ndodemnyama Verwoerd! which lambasted one of the architects of the oppressive system.

She had style, poise yet at the same time, abrasive when it came to things she was passionate about. Often misunderstood, much like her friend Nina Simone, she left a legacy that a lot of African artists live off today.

Her influence couldn’t be captured in one article.  But as Sangoma celebrates 30 years since its release, here are some of the songs that came with the album.

BAXEBENE OXAMU

 

EMABHECENI

ANGILALANGA

NGINANI NA

UNGAKANANI

 


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7min328781

Make up sex is awesome but does the same energy translate into good music?

Following Solange’s karate kid antics in the elevator in 2014, Beyoncé’s revelations on Lemonade and Jay-z’s explanations on 4:44, it would appear that the Carters have overcome whatever issues they had in their marriage. Predictably , they are not the type of people to let a good crisis resolution go to waste, thus they dropped a surprise album on June 16 in order to add a couple of zeros to their already overflowing bank accounts, cementing their position as king and queen of American urban music.

The album opens with a ballad-like slow jam titled Summer in which the Carters lyrically paint pictures of sex on the beach, or on a yacht, surrounded by crystal blue waters without a care in the world. Luxury and marital bliss is the stuff that a big girl’s dreams are made of and Beyoncé flawlessly delivers with her sensually subliminal lyrics; I want you to come inside right now…so you know just how I feel, with Jigga expressing teenage boy like excitement with his adlibs. The whole joint feels like a honeymoon anthem which is meant to convince the listener that everything is love. I thought the whole album was going to carry this mood but on the following three records in the project, the Carters make it clear that they are on another level when it comes to the cheddar cheese.  On the bouncy joint accurately named Boss, Jigger goes off on his haters, stating Niggers rather work for the man…than to work for me…just so they can pretend…they on my level…that shit is irking to me. Throughout the project the Carters make it clear that they are building a legacy for generations to come, which is a refreshing reprieve from the typical hedonistic tendencies of modern day Hip-hop.

The Pharell-produced Nice has to be my favourite joint on this project. It has a playful demeanour about it, with a funny moment in the song where Beyoncé gives Spotify the middle finger; Patiently waiting for my demise…cause my success can’t be quantified…if I gave two fucks about streaming numbers…when you pull up my name on Spotify…fuck you…fuck you…you cool…fuck you. I couldn’t stop chuckling by myself as I was walking to the shops to get some cigarettes.

Listening to the joint 713 it dawned on me that this might be the first time in Hip-hop history that we get husband and wife conversations on an entire Hip-hop influenced album. The Carters’ consistent Hip-hop references in the album feel organically refreshing, with Beyoncé pulling a young Snoop Dogg impression on 713I’m representing  for the hustlers all across the world…still dipping in my low lows girl…I put it down for the 713…and we still got love for the streets followed by a Jigger’s impression of Common I never knew a… love…love…love like this…got to be special for me to write this…queen…I don’t mean no disrespect -its disgustingly cute.

This is a strong project from the Carters, they manage to mix Hip-hop and R&B without sounding too pretentious, which was a pleasant surprise for me as someone who generally can’t tolerate sentimentality. There are no true radio bangers on this album, which is surprising considering the mainstream appeal of both artist. Perhaps the first single of the project, Apeshit might dominate the charts but I doubt it. The video drips with opulence but I think it will go over the heads of Trap-lords who are the main target of the song sonically. Niggers wanna see racks and Lambos, not the Carters mean mugging in front of the Mona Lisa because niggers don’t read. But regardless, Hovah and Queen B are gonna stay winning, best believe that.



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