The Answer is No

No matter what you ask of me right now, the answer will be, “no”.  I don’t care how you ask.  Syrupy sweet or angry and demanding.  Doesn’t matter.  “No.”  Compound question or multiple choice.  Still “no.”  All yes or no questions will be answered in the negative, even if it’s the wrong answer.

“How are you feeling?”  No.  “What time is it?”  No.  “What did you have for dinner?” No.  “Is the Earth round?” No

Sometimes the only strength that I possess is in my words.  Sometimes I don’t have the energy or strength to string my words together.  Sometimes all I’ve got is “no”.

So, no.

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Natural Hair Gone Awry 

Sunday was wash day at my house.  I ran the dishwasher, did a few loads of laundry, and washed my hair.   The process of washing my hair can take all day. Literally.  

After I wash it, then I put conditioner in it and let that sit for 20 minutes to a few hours depending on how dry my hair is feeling.  I never really mean to leave it on for multiple hours, but I get into doing other things and then realize hours later that I need to rinse my hair or it will never dry before I go to sleep.

After I rinse out the conditioner, I put in a leave-in conditioner and detangle my hair.  That can take about 20 minutes if I’m being gentle with myself.  Then it’s time to style.

I recently returned to finger coiling my hair because it gives my curls more definition.  I hate the process because it takes so long, but I usually like the results.  Usually.

The next morning, I sat on the couch and uncoiled my hair while I watched the Today Show.  When I went to the bathroom to finish getting ready, I looked in the mirror and was completely shocked. I looked like I had snakes coming out of my head.  I was straight up Medusa, y’all!  My hair was going every which way and no matter what I did, I couldn’t tame it. I. Was. Stressed.  Then I said to myself, “Fuck it.  Ain’t nothing I can do about it.  Ima put on this suit and throw on some African jewelry, go to work, and act like I meant for my hair to look this crazy.”  And that’s just what I did.  When I went back into the bathroom to take a final look, I spotted the steamer I had just used to knock the wrinkles out of my suit and thought, “Hmmm…. why not?”  

Yep,  I hit my hair with that steamer, y’all and laughed the whole time I was doing it.  Magically, it calmed the whole snake pit down.  Couldn’t believe it.

I’m still not happy with the way my hair turned out, but at least I can live with it until next wash day.

Stuck in a Groove: “Get Me Bodied” by Beyoncé

I am prone to having songs get stuck in my head. If it’s musical, it gets trapped in my brain and I could usually recall it at will. When a whole song or particular portion of the song starts playing on a continuous loop in my head, I call it getting stuck in a groove. If you didn’t grow up with records, you won’t get the double entendres there.

Yesterday, as I was pulling out of my driveway, Beyoncé’s “Get Me Bodied” came on the radio. I hadn’t heard the song in awhile and it got my juices flowing first thing on a Monday morning.

Normally, when I get stuck in the groove, it happens immediately and can last for a few minutes or a few days. This time, I thought I had escaped the infectious beat that Beyoncé laid down, but this morning, out of nowhere, it caught me.

I slept through the night, but woke up feeling as if I hadn’t slept. As I dragged myself into the shower, I was praying that the warm water would give me the jolt I needed to get through the day.  It was at that moment that Bey’s song popped back into my head; not the whole song, just this loop: “All I need/is to let it be/ Ain’t no worries, no/ boy, dance with me.” The lyrics struck a nerve. It kept repeating and wouldn’t stop until I burst into song. As I sang the lyrics over and over, I found myself throwing my hands to the sky and lowering my head as if I were in church.  I let the the water run down my face and continued to belt out those four bars.  And then it was reduced to “All I need is to let it be.  Ain’t no worries, naw…” and then I’d let the music play in my head for the remaining four counts.  Apparently there is something that I need to let be and I’m guessing that I’ll be stuck in this groove until I figure it out.

Do the Scissor Legs and enjoy Bey while I figure out my personal issues.

What’s the last song you had stuck in your head?

I am a Part of the Rhythm Nation

Janet

I was in high school when “Rhythm Nation” dropped.  I was already a huge fan, but this album took me to a-whole-nother level.  I was already an avid concert-goer for both Mike and Janet, but this album made me a bit fanatic.  I had the hat, the 1814 pin, the t-shirt, you name it, I had it.  I would have rocked it ’til my tape popped, but I’m pretty sure I had this album on cd.  The album was everything; socially conscious, great melodies, grooves that made you wanna dance, choreography that you had to know in order to be cool, and the videos!  Mike invented the long form video and Janet put her spin on it.  The long video that goes with this album was the bomb.  I’m sure I still have it on a vhs tape somewhere.  I remember thinking that it was so cool to have one video for three songs (“Rhythm Nation”, “I Miss You Much”, and “The Knowledge”).  Mike never did that and to my knowledge, no one has done it since her until Beyonce’s “Lemonade”.

A group of us decided to perform “Black Cat” for a high school pep rally.  We had our own choreography and everything.  You couldn’t tell us that we weren’t good enough to go on tour with Ms Jackson.  We. Were. Fierce. (Thankfully, this was before the age of smartphones and YouTube, so there is nothing out there to prove otherwise.)

Today is Janet Jackson’s birthday.  To celebrate her day, please take a trip with me down memory lane and enjoy her most meaningful and iconic work, “Rhythm Nation”.

And if you’re looking for tickets for her “The State of the World” tour, you better act fast!

Why was Prince so damn sexy?!

How is it that a man who was purportedly 5’3” tall, wore eyeliner, had a bird chest and a narrow ass, and sang mostly in falsetto was one of the sexiest men on the planet? I mean, think about it. If a dude walked up to me who was barely my height, IN HEELS, and was wearing some crazy looking outfit consisting of tight bellbottoms and an open blouse, and his hair was laid better than mine, I would be laughing before he could get out, “Hi. How are you?” He would’ve been totally dissed. But if he caught me on a day that I was trying to be nice and secure my place in heaven, maybe I would’ve overlooked the eyeliner and earrings and given dude a chance. Naw! Who am I kidding? There is no way in hell that I would’ve ever given that dude the time of day. But if that dude were Prince, I would’ve been tripping over myself to talk to him and would’ve been completely tongue tied if he had even looked my way. That makes no damn sense on the surface and it makes me wonder what made Prince so damn sexy?

My reasonable and logical mind says there is nothing sexy about this guy.


And this look sho ain’t sexy. Would you have gone out with this guy if he wasn’t Prince?

Ain’t no way that I would’ve ever been caught with this guy if he wasn’t Prince.


There is certainly something sexy here, but what the hell is it?!


I was always drawn to his eyes. If you looked past the eyeliner and really looked into his eyes, his playful yet intense soul seemed to lure you in with a force more powerful that the gravitational pull. While that was quite attractive, it certainly wasn’t enough on its own to qualify as sexy. 


I was definitely moved by his music, but that didn’t make him sexy either, although I am rather attracted to a talented man. Give me a man that knows what he’s doing and excels at it…..lawdhavemercy!

But I digress.

I think, for me, it really boiled down to his extreme level of confidence that made him sexy in a way that no other man will ever be able to replicate. His confidence was in his high heeled strut, in the cut of his eye, in flick of his wrist. It was inextricably woven through every pop-soul-jazz-funk-blues concoction that he ever released. It was there in his quiet and soft, yet deep speaking voice that commanded you to lean in and pay attention.

Yep, it was his confidence that did it for me.  And those eyes.

The Flow of The Notorious B.I.G


Today is the anniversary of Biggie Smalls’ death. I know that,not because I am a fan, but because my FB newsfeed told me so.

You see, when Biggie hit the scene, I was completely turned off by him. I couldn’t relate to what he was talking about and really couldn’t respect him for it. (Yep, I said it.). It wasn’t until my friend and fellow English major, Deb of All That Cheeky Music, convinced me to put aside my feelings and listen to his flow, that I learned to appreciate The Notorious B.I.G.

What is flow, you ask?  You only need listen to any Biggie song for the answer.

It is his tight vocabulary and his phrasing that runs like a stream.

It’s his ability to create such clever and sharp imagery. Check out these lyrics to “Warning” and tell me you can’t see a short film by John Singleton.

Who the fuck is this?

pagin me at 5:46 in the mornin crack a dawnin

now I’m yawnin, wipe the cold out my eye

see who’s this pagin me and why..

It’s my nigga Pop from the barbershop

told me he was in the gamblin spot and heard the intricate plot

some niggas wanna stick you like fly paper neighbour

slow down love please chill drop the caper

remember them niggas from the hill up in Brownsville

that you rolled dice wit

smoked the blunts and got nice wit

yeah my nigga Fame up in Prospect

nah dem my niggas nah love wouldn’t disrespect

I didn’t say dem,

they schooled me to some niggas

that you knew from back when,

when you was clockin minor figures

Now they heard you blowin up like nitro

know they wanna stick the knife

through your windpipe slow..

so thank Fame for warnin me now I’m warnin you

you got the mac nigga

tell me what you wanna do…

[CHORUS]

Damn niggas wanna stick me for my papers

[VERSE 2]

They heard about the Rolex’s and the Lexus

wit the Texas license plate outta state

they heard about the pounds

you got down in Georgetown

now they heard you got half of Virginia locked down

they even heard about the crib

you bought your moms out in Florida

the fifth corridor….

Call the coroner

there’s gonna be alot of slow singin

and flower bringin

if my burglar alarm starts ringin

whatcha think all the guns is for?

all purpose war got the rottweilers by the door

and I feed em gun powder so they can devour

the criminals tryna to drop my decimals

DAMN..niggas wanna stick me for my cream

And it ain’t a dream things aint always what it seems

it’s the ones that smoke blunts witcha

see your picture, now they wanna

grab they guns and come and getcha

Bethca Biggie won’t slip

I got the calico with the black talons loaded in the clip

so I can rip through the ligaments

put the fuckas in a bad prediciment

where all the foul niggas went

Touch my cheddar, feel my Beretta

Buck with what I had you with

you motherfuckers betta duck

I bring pain, blood stains on what remains

Of his jacket, he had a gun he should’ve packed it

Cocked it, extra clips in my pocket

so I can reload and explode down ya rasshole

I fuck around and get hardcore

C4 to ya door no beef no more nigga

feel the rush scandalous

The more weed smoke I puff the more dangerous

I dont give a fuck about you or your weak crew

What you gonna do when Big Poppa comes for you

I’m not runnin, nigga I bust my gun in

Hold on I hear somebody comin……..

[Dogs Barking]

“Shh…”

“Come on mothafucka!”

“I’m comin’ as fast as I can”

“Just bring yo mothafuckin’ ass on come on!”

“Are we gettin’ close? Huh?”

“It’s right over here”

“Man, are you sure it’s biggie smalls crib man?”

“Yeah i’m sure mothafucka come on”

“Oh fuck,it better be his mothafuckin’ house”

“Fuck?”

“It better be this mothafucka’s house”

“Oh shit!”

“What? What’s wrong man?

“What’s that red dot on your head man?”

“What red dot?”

“Oh shit, you got a red dot on your head too!”

“OH SHIT!”

[two gun shots] 

Flow is his use of the natural rhythm of words in combination with a complicated syncopated beat.  His is absolutely impeccable.   Remember this part in “Hypnotize”? 

Poppa been smooth since days of Underroos

Never lose, never choose to, bruise crews who do something to us, talk go through us.

See how that just, well, flows?  No other MC that has ever stepped to the mic has a flow quite like his.  Even though I usually can’t get with what he’s talking about, I gotta applaude his use of language.  It’s impeccable.

My favorite example of him “delivering lyrical lyrics that’s blowing lyrics out [his] larynx” is the song that first turned me off from him.  Now it is my favorite song.

Enjoy lyricism at its best in “Juicy”.

Shoe on the Other Foot

Today, I went to my favorite pizza spot for lunch. As soon as I sat down, the waitress approached my table, gave me a menu, and asked me what I wanted to drink. “I don’t need a menu. I’ll have the two slice special, please.”  In the time between the waitress’ question and my response, I heard a woman exclaim in her barely hushed outside voice, “We were here before her.”  I turned my head in the direction of the voice to see who said it.

She was white.

She was shooting daggers at me from her eyes.

I fought to hide the smug smile that was trying to overtake my face.

I was immediately taken back to an incident that happened when I was little.  I had to be younger than seven because my sister had not yet joined our family. Mom and I were sitting in a doctor’s office. People came and went and we were still waiting to be seen. I asked, “Mom, why are we still waiting? We were here before them.” She stopped flipping through a magazine, looked down at me and said, “Because we’re Black.”  She offered no further explanation. She just returned to her magazine. I sat quiet, confused, and stunned. That five second exchange was scorched into my memory and permanently tinted the lense through which I looked at life. 

So when I heard the same sentiment uttered today in response to my being served first, that little Black girl sitting in the doctor’s office broke out into the Cabbage Patch. 

This wasn’t exactly an instance of the shoe being on the other foot.  The waitress was white. I didn’t know her, so she wasn’t doing me a favor.  For whatever reason, she came to my table first.  Not two seconds later, she went to their table.

But I’ll take it.