What Losing Prince Has Made Me Realize About Legacy — April 23, 2016

What Losing Prince Has Made Me Realize About Legacy

prince
Photo cred: Billboard (Billboard.com)

As everyone has heard by now, on Thursday, April 21, the world lost an icon, a music legend, and naturally gifted performer — The Purple One, Prince. A celebrity death that many will retell years from now with “Where were you when you found out?” stories. Hearing of his death was incredibly sad, especially considering that we lost another icon, David Bowie, only a couple of months ago.

I’m not going to lie — I was never a Prince “fan.” He was before my time, and while the internet and streaming services (before Prince yanked his music from them) make it easy to discover classic artists, I just never got around to it. But in a way, I didn’t really need to listen to his music to understand his unparalleled status in the music industry. I grew up listening to his music through my parents. I’ve seen him perform (on TV). I’ve heard him speak and accept awards. His omnipresence in my life was due to his omnipresence in music.

So when he died on Thursday and I joined the world in reflecting on his life and career, I came to realize just how important Prince was in a cornucopia of ways.

-He was a proud black man and openly criticized how record labels sought to exploit black musicians, himself included. He created songs that promoted messages of unity and criticized systems that keep power structures in place, particularly in terms of the oppression of black people (“Dear Mr. Man”). He used music as a form of activism against injustice.

-He was a sexual icon and presented genderfluidity to the mainstream before transness was part of the collective consciousness. He himself has said “I’m not a woman. I’m not a man. I am something you will never understand.” He regularly wore high heels onstage, rocked crop tops, and wore long, curly, and feminine hairstyles. The Love Symbol is a melding of the male and female symbols to represent his undefined gender expression. His fashion choices and unapologetic sensuality challenged traditional black masculinity. He proved you didn’t have to be strictly male or female, but you could be a little of everything to create something entirely unique.

-He was a pioneer in artistic freedom and intellectual property by raging against his own record label. He did not yield to their demands and instead told them to go fuck themselves. For his entire career, he fought to have complete artistic control over his look, sound, and creative vision, and wouldn’t settle for anything less than what he wanted.

-And of course, the man was a multi-talented musician.

After a couple of days reflecting on his life, I realized something. I want what Prince had. What he has, even in death.

I want a legacy.

Prince left an indelible mark on not just music, but popular culture in general. He made an impact so great that the world is a different, and some would argue better, place having had him in it to share his art with us.

I want that for myself. About a year ago, I had an epiphany. I got out of bed and wrote in my journal a simple statement: I want to inform. This is why I’m here. I believe that my art is writing, and through my writing I can maybe, just maybe, make the world a better place. I want to help people to see the world differently. I want to let people know they are not alone. I want to encourage people embrace their quirkiness. In a society that tells us to hate ourselves for who we are, I want to show people that loving yourself is not only a radical act, but a necessary one. I want to make people think, and I want to touch people in places they never thought they would be. Just like Prince did.

This was a second epiphany that builds on my first one. I don’t want to just exist here. I want to be remembered. I want my work to be passed around and read for years to come. I want my name to be spoken of with fondness and familiarity. My greatest hope is that when I leave this Earth, the people in my life and the people in the community I eventually become part of (whether writing, blogging, social justice, or otherwise) remember me as a person who wrote love, truth, and positivity into the world.

That is what Prince made me realize. I don’t just want to live. I want to leave a legacy.

Why Is Everyone So Over Scandal? — April 2, 2016

Why Is Everyone So Over Scandal?

scandal-season-5-february-2016
Photo cred: Hypable.com

I had been toying around with making a blog post about Scandal for a while now, but within the past week or so I was convinced that I needed to get some thoughts out about it. It was a culmination of things I’ve been seeing/hearing concerning Scandal, negative sentiments over the last two seasons.

I decided to make this post in the most unlikely way — after watching a makeup tutorial. I was watching a chatty get ready makeup video by YouTube beauty blogger KathleenLights. About two-thirds of the way through it (around 9:00), she asks her viewers if they had seen the finale of How to Get Away with Murder (which aired March 17). She talks about her reaction to the finale, and then quickly mentions how she’s officially “done” with Scandal. She says it’s time for the show to end and that she’s over Olivia Pope, who in her opinion has become a “stone cold bitch.

I would have ignored her comment — if it wasn’t something I have been hearing so much lately. My mother is similarly as bored with Scandal as KathleenLights is, and has been since season four (Scandal is now in its fifth season). I myself have even gotten bored with the show, which at one time was my #1 favorite television series. But up until the point I watched this video, I disagreed with KathleenLights. To me, Olivia hadn’t been awful enough in season five to warrant the title of Stone Cold Bitch…until this past week’s episode (March 31) that was essentially about Olivia being a Stone Cold Bitch. The conflict of the episode was Olivia’s friends and colleagues worrying that she had taken off her coveted white hat to go to the dark side. But if we consider Olivia in the grand scheme of the television landscape, with anti-heroes at the forefront of almost every major network or cable series, what exactly makes her a Stone Cold Bitch?

I guess I’m wondering, why have fans given up on Scandal, or specifically, Olivia Pope?
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White Noise: Some Thoughts on the Grammys — February 19, 2016

White Noise: Some Thoughts on the Grammys

kendrick grammys
Photo cred: NewYorker.com

Similar to the Golden Globes, I found myself wondering during the Grammys why I bother with awards season. The winners are predictable, the performances boring, the show generally forgettable. While there were a few notable standouts, I was overall disappointed with the awards show.

Here’s what I liked:
1) Little Big Town’s performance of “Girl Crush.” The arrangement of string instruments for the performance wasn’t too big of a risk, but it was interesting and differential enough from the original song that it was cool to listen to. It’s also a really great song.

2) Lady Gaga’s David Bowie tribute. Because it was one of two honest performances that took place. It was messy, abstract, and entertaining as only Gaga can do. No one else could have done a Bowie tribute but her.

3) “Uptown Funk” won both of the awards it was nominated for, including Record of the Year. Enough said.

4) Of course, Kendrick Lamar’s performance. it was the only truly notable takeaway from the show itself outside of the winners. It was what everyone was talking about in the days after it. It was in-your-face, theatrical, and powerful — a real callback to the roots of hip hop and rap culture. Although it is worth noting that his performance didn’t (and still hasn’t) caught as much flak as Beyonce’s “Formation” did just a week prior, Lamar’s performance proves that rap is genre that deserves to be taken seriously as an art form.

Which leads me to everything I didn’t like about the show: basically everything else.
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Some Thoughts on the Golden Globes — January 15, 2016

Some Thoughts on the Golden Globes

gaga golden globes
Photo cred: Variety (Variety.com)

I watched the Golden Globes this past Sunday, January 10, and as always, I was left feeling uncomfortable and slightly disappointed. (I don’t know why I still watch award shows, they’re trash honestly. But I digress.) In thinking about the show in hindsight, I have a nagging thought.

Lady Gaga won a Golden Globe for her role as the Countess on American Horror Story: Hotel. And while my visceral reaction was “Wow! Good for her,” I couldn’t help but feel a little conflicted about my initial reaction in the days after. I have been a fan of Gaga’s music, and know about her lifelong relationship with the arts, initially acting before music. I respect her as an artist, and think it’s great that she was finally able to return to the craft she never got to pursue because her music career took off. And granted, now I feel obligated to watch Hotel just to see if she was that good.

But one image got stuck in my mind, both during Gaga’s speech and throughout the show as a whole: Queen Latifah, in her beautiful greenish gown, smiling her regal smile, and nodding. She was nominated in the same category as Gaga, but lost, once again.

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I Need Lingerie Lipsticks by Nyx ASAP —

I Need Lingerie Lipsticks by Nyx ASAP

One thing you must know about me is that I have within the last year become OBSESSED with makeup. I am currently in the process of building my makeup collection, which is difficult because a) makeup is expensive, and b) my current salary (if you can even call it that, I work part time) does not support my new makeup addiction. Nyx is the brand I am lusting after the most as of now, so this video by YouTuber Bailey Van Der Veen has me crying a little inside. I mean just look at this collection!! I am swooning.

As a side note, I follow a small crop of makeup YouTubers. My favorite is Bailey, but my other subscriptions are to Bronte Jones (for my hooded eyes), Jaclyn Hill, and KathleenLights. I also check out ItsMyRayeRaye from time to time, although I don’t subscribe to her since she posts less frequently than the others I follow.

Check these beautiful ladies out and the video embedded above!

What I’m Digging Right Now: Ariana Grande’s “Focus” —

What I’m Digging Right Now: Ariana Grande’s “Focus”

I recently listened to this song and watched the accompanying music video this week, and I have to say, this might be the turning point for me with Ariana Grande. I’ve never disliked her, and in fact I’ve liked the majority of her singles up until this point. However, I’ve always been a little unsure about her. In all of her songs, performances, and music videos, it seemed as if she was almost trying to be a pop star, trying to prove herself. Whether it was her sex appeal, her vocal abilities, or her dancing, it always seemed to me that Ariana Grande was trying to play the role of pop star rather than being the genuine article. To me, her music and style has been overall very forced.

But, with “Focus,” for the first time I feel that Ariana is truly letting go and allowing herself to be free. I see liberation in this music video. I see the confidence of a young woman who is finally realizing she doesn’t have to care what people have to say about how sexy she is or how petite her body is or how well she can dance. And for once, I don’t think this song will be a massive hit; it doesn’t have quite the banger quality of all of her previous songs. Even still, the song is different enough to be a standout in her singles chronology. I love the male voice yelping out the “Focus on me!” in the chorus, and the sexy breakdown of horns in the bridge. In the video, I really like the black and white dance breakdown with Ariana leading a chorus line of carefree women in leotards. The video sells the lighthearted attitude of the song with its pastel colors, but Ariana and her dancers sell the sexy, flirtatious undertones with their moves and knowing glances.

All in all, I believe “Focus” is Ariana Grande’s coming-of-age anthem that has wholly convinced me she is a singer to be taken seriously. So, do as she commands, and focus on her.

The Challenge: Why We Need to Talk About Cara Maria, Abram, and Signs of Abusive Relationships — January 8, 2016

The Challenge: Why We Need to Talk About Cara Maria, Abram, and Signs of Abusive Relationships

the challenge aftershow
Photo cred: MTV (MTV.com)

I am a fan of The Challenge. So much so that I remember when the show was called Real World/Road Rules Challenge. I’ve been watching the show for a decade now, and it’s one of the few reality television shows that I religiously watch every week (and frankly, the only show on MTV I watch anymore). I live for watching season after season with Johnny Bananas, CT, Diem (rest in peace) and others. But this season I’ve been floored with how awful and problematic it has been. From the misogyny from basically all of the rookies — most notably Dario and Raphy — to KellyAnne commenting on Aneesa’s “black skin” during an argument, Battle of the Bloodlines has been quite the trainwreck of a season.

But with episode seven, entitled “Blood Brothers,” I was left in awe at cast member Abram’s behavior, particularly toward his girlfriend, Cara Maria.
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Why I Love Tomb Raider — January 1, 2016

Why I Love Tomb Raider

tomb raider lara croft
Photo cred: hdwallpapersnew.net

This isn’t a review. This is me talking a little bit about why I love Tomb Raider, the first modern video game that I’ve successfully completed (on normal!). This game single-handedly got me hooked on gaming, and has me drooling in anticipation over when the sequel to the 2013 reboot, Rise of the Tomb Raider, will be available on PlayStation 4 (the console I use). The game wasn’t a perfect one, as I did have one or two gripes about the story development along the way, but all in all, I think I’ll have a hard time finding another game that sucks me in quite as much as Tomb Raider. Which kind of sucks, seeing as how it’s the first game I ever completed.

But anyways, let me explain to you why I am officially Lara Croft trash.

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