Tuesday, December 17, 2013

John Mayer and Katy Perry just made me cry - Tia

Are they freaking kidding me with this???? My GOD!!!! I have so many feeeeeeelings!!!!

Today has been a big day for me. (More on that in a later post.) So I was already kind of emotional to begin with. But then I went and watched the video for "Who You Love" and I just lost it. They look so happy and in love. It's really rather beautiful. I cried. Judge me if you must.

Paradise Valley isn't one of my favorite John Mayer albums. But "Who You Love" was always one of my favorite songs. (Do not even get me started on "Dear Marie." That song does something to me that I'm not prepared to deal with yet.) This video, however, I was not ready for. We've all seen people in love or been in love ourselves. But there's something about the brief glimpse of intimacy that you see between them that melted my heart. I am IN my feelings right now and I don't care who knows.

I usually don't get too wrapped up in celebrity couples. But after watching this, I REALLY need John and Katy to pull a "Sting and Trudie" and be together forever. I'll admit it, I'm officially rooting for these two.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela: 1918 - 2013

I (Tia) don't remember exactly how old I was. I couldn't have been more than 8 or so. I was spending time with my dad and he was listening to Stevie Wonder's In Square Circle album. The last track on the album is "It's Wrong (Apartheid)" and as I have a penchant to do, I was running around singing the lyrics all wrong.

A part time is wrong (Wrong) 

My dad stopped what he was doing and corrected me on the lyrics. I, of course, then asked, "What's apartheid?" He then proceeded to explain to me exactly what apartheid was. I remember feeling what I would now call grief. My little heart just didn't understand how that much cruelty could exist in the world.

Half a decade later, my father once again sat me down and explained why a man being freed a half a world away was important. Though my father is by no means militant, he knew that the school system would not acknowledge the historic significance of Nelson Mandela being freed from prison. On that day in 1990, my dad drew from lessons he'd previously taught me to show me how the present events would inevitably change the future. He instilled a pride in me on behalf of the hope that Mr. Mandela represented. Nelson Mandela's life impacted a little black girl from Tennessee. That's how far his reach was.

What do you say when a great man is laid to rest? Words will never seem enough. But BGLU knows that Nelson Mandela represents hope and justice. He helped shape the events of human history, not just for South Africans but for all people. His legacy of hope and courage will never be forgotten.

Rest well, sir.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Hot Mess Championships- The 2013 American Music Awards

Any explanation for this yet?

Y'all, it really wasn't all that but I didn't want to let anyone down.  So here it is, my annual play by play of this year's American Music Awards Hot Mess Championships.
  1. The show is opening up with Katy Perry singing her latest single "Unconditionally" off of her new album Prism.  "I will love you unconditionally. There is no feeeaaaaar noooow!"  Praise Him Katy!!!! I mean...look. Everything in me wants this to be a worship song, I swear. Where's Hillsong with the remix? 
  2. So Lil' Mama is the surprise guest on TLC's performance?  She did her thing in that biopic as Left Eye but I was kind of hoping for a hologram. I'm not gonna lie. 
  3. I'm glad that Pitbull is hosting because I really need to believe that he is good at something...else.
  4. R. Kelly? Nelly? TLC? Is this the American Music Awards from 1997?
  5. I like Pitbull tonight y'all! Oh Lord the sky is about to part isn't it?
  6. Justin Timberlake is so foolish! I tend to think that he is a bit on the cornball side (his music balances it out) but he is cracking me up.  It's quite obvious that he has outgrown the room.  I know what though:  he better get most of what he is nominated for tonight.  Y'all will give Justin Timberlake his just due for that"Pusher Love Girl" masterpiece. Oh yes you will.
  7. The one singing lead in One Direction is the only one I know. They could replace all of the others and I would never know it. Do I like this song they're performing because it sounds like Mumford & Sons, Lumineers,  ie. what I like to call "Colonial Music"? The jury is still out on that.
  8. Ariana Grande is singing her little 90 pounds wet heart out right now and y'all are gonna learn today.  Sing Lil' Mariah!!!! Okay this really does look like 1997 with Mariah Carey singing with Boyz II Men on BGV's. Where am I???!?! 
  9. Seriously how many endorsements does J-Lo have?!
  10. Say what you will & know I don't care but I so wish that Justin Bieber was performing one of those #MusicMondays joints at the AMAs.  They are giving me 90's R&B slow jam realness and since that is rare nowadays, I will take it where I can get it. 
  11. So Rihanna just accepted an award looking like she is fresh from out under a hooded dryer.  She's going to unwrap her hair before she performs, right? I mean... 
  12. Oh! I'm about to get MY life! ImagineDragons!!!  Umm...those two songs in this medley are not in the same key but...well, okay! *GETS CRUNK* *Throws bows*
  13. I'd like to take this time to remind everyone that this one time Bobby Brown, The KANG of R&B, hosted the AMA's and did a wonderful job. Don't ask me why I felt the need to bring that up, I just felt that I needed to bring that up. 
  14. Red is not a country album. Sincerely, a Taylor Swift fan. 
  15. *Commercial break* Back to Rihanna's hair. I miss Lottabody Wrap 'n Tap. That was everything to me and my Toni Braxton haircut in the 90's. Back to the AMAs.
  16. Michael Bolton...is presenting with AKON...for the Hip Hop category. What kind of alternate universe are we in?! 
  17. When I tell you that Macklemore CAMPAIGNS?!?!?!? He uses his platform well. He brought up Trayvon Martin, gay marriage, Free Lil' Boosie, I mean, everything!
  18. Naya Rivera's body is so disrespectful to every piece of pizza I just ate. 
  19. Well I guess it wouldn't be fair if we didn't let Pitbull perform since he's hosting and all. This song with Ke$ha is not the business. I will say that I'm not used to Ke$ha not looking dirty like she just rolled around in baby oil and glitter in a 7-11 parking lot. Someone just asked if that was Brooke Hogan singing with Pitbull. That just blessed me!!! 
  20. NO. ONE. SPEAK. DAVE.GROHL. IS. ON. YES. SIR. And with Joan Jett!!!! Listen, I live for what is happening right now! What do y'all know about The Runaways?! 
  21.  I totally forgot that Marc Anthony and J-Lo aren't together anymore! I was wondering why they weren't sitting together! 
  22. Come on Memphis! I knew that Justin Timberlake wasn't dancin' for y'all tonight. He made it clear that he needs his post 30 year old rest at his show in Nashville a few weeks back.  WHO is on the organ SLAYING????!!!!!!! This organ player has me rockin' like a church mother on the front row!!!!   The fact that we just let Justin Timberlake church us off of a song about alcohol is just ridiculous but it is what it is. He and that band killed as always. 
  23. Someone said that the organ player was Twinkie Clark and projectile tears came out of my tear ducts for about five minutes straight. I can't even deal with that.
  24. And now for my guiltiest pleasure of 2013.... Florida Georgia Line! Look everyone is allowed one!  Oh and they brought Cornell Haynes with them. I've never liked this "Ride with Me" song but I'm a sucker for nostalgia so *Dougies*
  25. Ariana Grande won the New Artist award??? Vote, children!!!!! Good for her! Her album is so good!
  26. So people really have an issue with Macklemore bringing up Trayvon Martin because he's white? Damned if you do, damned if you don't I suppose.
  27. Bill Mahr is presenting the Icon award to Rihanna and called her the voice of our time. Huh? I am so spent with mainstream media right now.
  28. These bedazzled bobby pins in Rihanna's head are giving me Women's Day at Greater Grace First Missionary Baptist realness and I am 50 shades of perplexed right now. Who on her team thought this was a good idea? They are usually so on point!  Is she saving her hair do for the after party?
  29. Okay she means this performace. I'm sorry but Rihanna is giving me Whitney (minus the voice) right now in her movements. Don't stone me but it's real. I am loving this.
  30. Rihanna’s mom just came out and gave God the praise during her presentation to Rihanna. I want to make a connection between that and where those bobby pins came from but I shan't. Not in this moment. Let me be sensitive.
  31. Darn right I want Miguel to win this R&B Male Artist award. I voted for him too. 
  32. Aaaaaand of course Justin Timberlake won.  Y'all remember when George Michael won for Best R&B Artist back in the day? Yup!  That. 
  33. Macklemore's "Can't Hold Us" song makes me want to march to City Hall. This is my jam!!! 
  34. Someone please tell me what Ryan Lewis of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis does. And is that not Sean Kingston singing the hook?
  35. I will never get over not seeing Fall Out Boy at Ryman. Ugh!
  36. Y'all know who votes for these awards repeatedly right? Okay. So we can only be so disappointed. 
  37. The Celia Cruz tribute performed by Jennifer Lopez: Stay right here in this lane, Jennifer. This is where I like you. You do THIS. I'd go see her do this in Vegas over "Love Don't Cost a Thing" ANY day!
  38. So Robin Thicke just isn't going to win tonight for his "If you love Marvin Gaye then you'll like..." summer hit huh?  In the words of the late, great Michael Joseph Jackson, "You can't win, you can't break even and you can't get out of the game." Tough on ya!  To be clear, I have wanted Robin Thicke to win something for every single album EXCEPT this last one, A Beautiful World on up.  I just can't stand his music now. 
  39. I've been waiting for years to get back to where I could take Christina Aguileira seriously again.This performance makes me happy. These Mickey Mouse kids are letting us have it tonight.
  40. Since we just got done being all sensitive, I miss Drake. Where is he tonight?
  41. Gaga's performing with R. Kelly tonight? I can't believe I am about to voluntarily watch that.
  42. *Two minutes later* Like...I'm watching this on purpose though.
  43. I like the music to their song but the lyrics to it are so lazy! I don't know why but I expected more from a woman that has dressed up as pork chop & the man that has given us 500 chapters of Trapped in the Closet. 
  44. I really really really wanted this TLC performance to work but it just doesn't.  It's time for these ladies to let it go. I hate that for them but it's just time. While I am rooting for her in life, Lil' Mama did not do a good job performing. Maybe they should have done a medley but I seriously think that would have worn them out. 
  45. Miley Cyrus is closing out the show in a two piece. She has a strong "G.I. Joe part" doesn't she?
  46. This acid trip of a backdrop. I just... She's singin' though. She tears this song up every time.
  47. Okay that performance is so reflective of her career. She's talented but her talent is often overshadowed by cartoonish antics. I need her to explain that kitten but I am almost afraid of what the explanation is going to be. 
  48. Taylor Swift, I love you and Red is good but it DOES NOT have "Pusher LoveGirl" on it. Between Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake, there are at least two awards that they are going home with that they both know they do not deserve. 

    Well that's it y'all. Those are my real time thoughts on this year's AMA's. The show was pretty lackluster but as always,it was hard to look away. Well, except during Lady Gaga and R. Kelly's performance when I went in the kitchen and got myself another helping of pumpkin cookies. I'd rather be trapped in the closet than watch that foolery. Thoughts?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

BGLU AMA Predictions

Hey guys!! This is Tia. I want to start by apologizing for posting this video so late. We recorded it weeks ago and I simply forgot to post it. As such, voting for all categories for the American Music Awards has closed except for Best New Artist. You can go here to cast your vote. (While I would never tell you how to vote, I will tell you to vote for Ariana Grande.)

So even though it's too late to get in on the voting action, I hope you guys enjoy the video. Also, let us know if you'll be watching and who you're predicting.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

John Mayer Speaks Truth - Tia

If you've read anything on this site, you pretty much know that Toya and I are music snobs. I can't speak for Toya, but I feel that more often than not, a lot of today's music is crap. It's just noise, rehashed ideas and an insult to the intelligent listener.

Don't get me wrong, I have an iPod full of guilty pleasures. But increasingly, I find myself uninterested in most of what is put out on the airwaves. And it took John Mayer to articulate why.

The short version: music has just been dumbed down. There's no thought to it. Lyrically, it's insulting and disingenuous. And musically, it's elementary and uninspiring. I know that not ALL music out today would fall into those aforementioned categories. There are artists who still make thought provoking, quality music. But clearly a lot of what we hear has been, shall we say, intellectually reduced. Creativity seems to have been lost. (Why do you think there's so much sampling going on?) And a lot of those "artists" striving to make something different fall painfully short because, frankly, they shouldn't be making music in the first place.

(I just re-read this and I realize I sound like a bitter old woman. Sorry, I'm not sorry.)

I am wholly convinced that aside from a handful of artists, very few people who currently inundate the airwaves will be remembered in 20-30 years. Where the 80s gave us music that we will forever remember, the 2000s have (mostly) given us music that we constantly and willfully forget. And that my dear readers makes me sad.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Love Actually - Tia

Where do I even begin? My favourite movie of all time, Love Actually, was released 10 years ago today. (I won't get into how old that make me feel all of a sudden.)

It's easy to forget that Love Actually is technically a Christmas movie. We get so caught up in the love story of it all that the fact the movie is set during the holidays almost completely escapes us. But the holidays are coming and everyone has their favorite flick that they'll watch over and over whilst stuffing their faces full of Christmas treats. And while I've been known to watch Love Actually at all times of the year, I usually ramp up my viewings between November and December. A once a week viewing is a conservative estimate. It's usually more like once every two or three days. And frankly, I'm not ashamed of that.

Toya sent me this great article about what Love Actually taught us about love. (Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" is my wallow in misery about relationships anthem thanks to this movie.) And Huffington Post had what I can only imagine was a World War 3, Godzilla vs Mothra, street brawl of a discussion trying to come up with the list of the best parts of the movie. It's nice to know that I'm not the only person obsessed with this movie. (When I say obsessed I mean I can quote it from memory...all of it. "Woooould we call her chubby?")

I've had a rough day and I feel like a viewing of Love Actually is in order. And I'm not going to lie, the day I found out that the movie was streaming on Netflix and that I could watch it ANY TIME and ANYWHERE I wanted not just at home on the couch via DVD, I did the Hugh Grant prime minister dance.

Okay who am I kidding...I do that dance all of the time when I'm happy. And if some of you are honest, you probably do too.

Happy viewings, y'all.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Stuff Black Girls Do: Skate - Tia

If you've been reading for any length of time you know a few things about me. I moved back to Atlanta last year and don't know a lot of people. I have a job that often keeps me on the road and prevents me from meeting people. And I'm a bit of an introvert, so meeting people can be a daunting task for me. 

Not having my core group around like I did in Nashville was making it easy for me to just stay at home and not do anything. Once I closed on my house, I easily convinced myself that I was nesting and that I didn't really "need to go out right now." But there's only so much nesting an unmarried, childless woman can do. And I came to the realization that if I didn't want to die alone in my house eaten by cats, I was going to have to make an effort to do...SOMETHING...and meet some new people. 

Enter skating.

I won't lie. I've wanted to learn how to skate well (emphasis on well) since watching ATL. I love the artistry of skaters. It's amazing and graceful. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fun Music Friday: Justin Bieber "Recovery" - Tia

Me: I went ahead and downloaded Recovery. That little Bieber boy is DOIN' IT and for that he can have my little coins. 

Toya: Yeah, he is giving me the slow jams I need and I refuse to be sorry. 

I started to title this post, "Be Mad" because folks are hating on Bieber about his slow jams. If you fall into the category of unnecessary hater, I cordially invite you to be mad and have several seats over there because I'm not here for you.

Bless him, Bieber managed to write one of the smoothest R&B jams that I've heard in a long time. And not once did he call a girl out of her name. People can be mad at this if they want to, but this song is what I look for when it comes to R&B music. He told a story (with a bit of man-begging which I always like) over a very smooth, well produced melody. What's not to like?

I'll grant you his vocals don't have a traditional rhythm and blues sound. Personally, I think his voice is better suited for pop music. But he stayed within his range on "Recovery" and didn't attempt any unnecessary riffs or yodels. This may not be the Justin sound we're accustomed to but he more than made it work.

I wish there were more songs out there like this. I wish there were more young R&B artists who understood the necessity of making good music that moves people rather than offends them. Every R&B song doesn't need a rap verse. Calling your girl your b!tch has never been endearing nor should it be taken as a compliment. And believe it or not, most of us don't want to hear about your bedroom antics set to music. Make good music. That's all most people really want.

But my hat is off to Justin for "Recovery." He put it down on this one. Any song that makes me want to bounce (and possibly arch my back a little) can have my money and my ear all day.

If you also feel the need to give Justin your coins, click here or here.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

You Should Know: Mikky Ekko's "Pull Me Down"- Toya

I've been obsessed with about three songs this year so far: Justin Timberlake's "Strawberry Bubblegum", Solange's "Locked in Closets" and as of right now (like seriously, right now listening for probably the 98th time today) Mikky Ekko's "Pull Me Down".

"Pull Me Down" came out late last year and while I remember liking it upon hearing it, for some reason it didn't hit me like it hit me today.  I wrote about Ekko earlier today on a local blog I created because he's from Nashville and is currently on Jessie Ware's tour which stopped here on Tuesday (incredible show by the way). You know how songs sometimes just grow on you? Well this song has grown on me, is permanently attached to me and basically we go together now. It is gorgeous and I am currently playing the snot out of it.  I've been familiar with Mikky Ekko's music for years but a lot of you may have first heard of him on Rihanna's number one song "Stay" which he sings with her and also wrote.

For more on Mikky Ekko, check out where he is on these internet streets:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Eye Candy of the Day: Dolvett Quince - Tia

 I have been a fan of The Biggest Loser for a long time. It is so inspirational and it makes me want to make better choices in life with regards to my fitness and eating habits. And y'all know how I feel about Bob. But look here...that Dolvett Quince is EVERYTHING!!

Dolvett makes me want to gain 100lbs so I could be on the show. (Not really...but sorta) I understand why Tanya was losing her mind during the first episode. Some men are just so fine that you can't think straight. I get it. I would have been just as flustered, if not more so.

I know this sounds crazy but he could yell at me all day, every day in the gym. If he asked me to do 100 push-ups, I would do it. If he told me swim 100 laps, I would be in the pool before you could say "swim cap." If he told me I have to give up bacon for the rest of my life...let me stop. He ain't THAT fine. (I'm not giving up bacon.)

But I mean, for real y'all. Look...

And can we talk about his smile. He looks like a walking Crest ad.

Dolvett used to have a gym here in Atlanta. I'm not sure if it's still open. But I've heard through whispers (i.e. the beauty salon) that he still spends time in Atlanta. So if you hear about a tall black woman being arrested for jumping on a complete stranger's back that was probably me.

Side note: Idris Elba is known to spend time in Atlanta as well. So that back jumping thing is most likely going to happen with one of them. And I'm not sorry about.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Best Friend Challenge - Part 2

I (Tia) am still learning iMovie. So my apologies for the delay in getting part two up. If you see any weird blips or dead links let me know. That was probably me trying to get fancy.

Shout out once again to Superfruit for the great idea. And let us know if you and your bestie end up doing the Best Friend Challenge.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Best Friend Challenge - Part 1

We decided to do the Best Friend Challenge after watching the adorable guys from Superfruit do it. It turned out to be very long and very funny. One day we will learn how to edit but until then please enjoy this peek into our BFF-ness. Part two is coming soon.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

BGLU News: Girl Group Heaven! TLC Releases A New CD and Are Out of Eden Getting Back Together?

Tuesday has brought us girl group loving joy here at BGLU over the release of TLC's greatest hits CD 20 and a picture on Instagram that has us wondering if there is an Out of Eden reunion brewing.  Let's start with TLC first so my inner teenage Toya doesn't explode trying to talk about both of these groups at the same time.

Just in time for the much anticipated biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story airing on VH1 on next Monday, TLC's greatest hits CD, 20, was released today and... pause. 20? As in it has been 20 years since TLC got together? Lord no. I need that to mean that there are 20 songs on the CD because surely 20 years have not passed. Moving on...

Of course no TLC greatest hits CD would be complete without the mega-hits "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg", "No Scrubs" and "Waterfalls" so those songs are a given. What is also included on the release are the songs "Damaged"(yes!!!!) and "Kick Your Game". I think they did a great job of putting fan faves all on one CD but if they missed your jam, let me know. What song do you wish would have been included on TLC's greatest hits?

In more girl group news, I was minding my own business on The Facebook when I saw what some would consider a miracle on Danielle Kimmey, formerly of Out of Eden's Facebook page...

Do it Jesus!!!  He's able!

For so many of us Out of Eden was that musical group that when we were in church youth group's we would hear "if you like (insert secular artist here) then you will love Out of Eden". The cool thing about Out of Eden was that they were one of the few groups that you would hear and you actually liked them as much, if not better, than what they were suggested as the alternative to. 

Anyway, we at BGLU love these girls and even though we respect what they are now doing individually, any hopes of them getting together just one mo' 'gin makes us happy. As soon as I get the scoop, I'll let y'all know. In the meantime, let's reminisce with one of my favorite Out of Eden tunes of all time,"Meditate". I love slow jamz for Jesus!

Monday, October 14, 2013

5 Things to Love About Janelle Monae and Miguel's "Primetime" Video - Toya

This video is giving me Peaches and Herb realness and I live!

In my humble music snobbish  opinion, Janelle Monae is everything that is right with the world right now. She is an amazing uber-talented visionary taking the industry by storm but not at all by their rules.  Her latest CD, The Electric Lady, is a grand masterpiece and one of those gems in that masterpiece is her duet "Primetime" with R&B crooner and fellow pompadourian (you're welcome) Miguel.  Here are five things I love about this video and song:

  1. Although I won't be participating this year, it is "primetime" for some cuffin' season songs and this one is my number 1 pick.  Before this and Alicia Keys' and Maxwell's "Fire We Make", have we even had any R&B duets for the past few years?  More of this please!
  2. I am absolutely crazy about how Janelle Monae's uses different variations of her signature look to keep her looking fly.
  3. Miguel's adorableness factor in this video make his "How Many Drinks?" song pretty much forgivable in my book. Bygones. 
  4. The party scene reminds me of how cool it is to have friends that know where the best and most random parties are. If this is what the Space Age is going to look like, I'll take it along with the flying car I was hyped up about as a kid while watching The Jetsons. 
  5. Although fictitious, Janelle Monae and Miguel are one of the cutest little pocket sized couples I've ever seen.  As a pocket sized person myself, I totally appreciate this. 
Youtube is being a hater so if you want to see the video, click here. It's totally worth it. To see if  Janelle Monae's The Electric Lady tour featuring Miguel is hitting your town, visit  www.jmonae.com/tour

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Apparently this is a thing: (Dumb) People think Lorde is racist - Tia

I often feel people put things online just to get attention. Some stuff is so ridiculous I refuse to entertain the fact that someone could legitimately hold such an absurd opinion. So they must just say nonsensical things for attention.  The current "Lorde is racist" thing falls squarely in the "this is too stupid to be real" category.

In case you haven't heard, some random blogger is calling foul on Lorde's huge hit "Royals." Blogger Veronica Bayetti Flores has accused the cheeky lyrics about excessive opulence of being racist. Not just racist. "Deeply racist" (I'll give you a minute to crack up laughing, because that's what I did.)

In case you've been under a rock and haven't heard the song, the lyrics are as follows: 

But every song is like, gold teeth, Grey Goose, tripping in the bathroom
Blood stains, ball gowns, trashing the hotel room
We don't care
We're driving Cadillacs in our dreams

But everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece
Jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash
We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair

Flores has accused Lorde of attacking rappers and has stated that listeners have not taken the time to analyze "the racial implications of the lyrics." To that I would like to tell Ms. Flores to head for the nearest corner and have a seat. 

Is she serious? I would give more validity to Ms. Flores' argument if two things weren't true: 1. So much music (not just rap, but pop as well)  IS about an unattainable lifestyle that most listeners will never glimpse, let alone live. 2. The opulence that Lorde sings about isn't solely relegated to black rappers. From Ryan Lochte to Miley Cyrus, white people have shown that they too are willing to rock tacky ass gold grills. And while I can understand Ms. Flores' confusion since ONLY colored folks enjoy Grey Goose:
She's black, right?


Those people look non-colored.

Hold on...I found a picture with black folks enjoying Grey Goose...

Oh sorry...wrong one

Not to stereotype, but didn't white boy rock & roll artists invent trashing hotel rooms? And aside from Michael Jackson on the cover of Thriller, a quick Google search for "pet tigers" disproportionately shows it's NOT rappers who are keeping insane pets. 

While singing about the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous life is a heavy theme amongst rappers, hip-hop has not cornered the market on music about champagne wishes and caviar dreams. To call Lorde racist because she chose to write a song that points out the ridiculous nature of a music industry that so heavily focuses on abundance and wealth is not only flawed but it's misdirected. 

Ms. Flores seems to be offended that a white artist would call out the ludicrousness of songs that talk about nothing outside of unattainable wealth and lavish living. But shouldn't the ire be directed at the artists who insist on singing about a kind of lifestyle that most of their fan base have no frame of reference for? Should the audience have to constantly suspend disbelief in order to enjoy a song? How is a kid who rides the bus every day to his minimum wage job supposed to relate to waking up in a new Bugatti? Instead of fueling unnecessary racial arguments, why don't we take rappers, hip-hop artists and pop stars to task for continuing to perpetuate lyrics without substance. Let's stop rewarding those who insist on glorifying things that will eventually fade away. I would much rather give my hard earned doubloons to someone who is making quality, relatable music. And besides, if you're buying up the bar every weekend, you don't need my piddly little coins anyway. So you'll excuse me while I ignore your umpteenth song about lavishness and listen to "Royals" for the 200th time. 

and for good measure:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

My Top Ten Favorite Songs of Summer 2013

Last weekend it hit about 88 degrees which had us walking around here in Nashville like it was still summertime.  As of right now, however, I am sitting on my bed typing this under almost every blanket that I own. It is officially fall y'all. With that being said, let's recap my favorite songs from the Summer of 2013!

I don't remember the last time I loved pop music as I have this year. This has been a good year for memorable pop tunes, so much so that I find myself listening to the radio now more than I have in recent years.  This was also a good year for guilty pleasure songs.

Side note:  By the way, I refuse to put "We Won't Stop" by Miley Cyrus on this list. I don't care how catchy it is. Nope! Not doin' it.  There will be no "dancin' with Molly" around these parts.

 Check out my top 10 faves in no particular order- well, except for the first three.

1. "Locked in Closets"- Solange

Oh my goodness, I LIVE for this song. Hear me? LIIIIIIIIIVE! I cannot tell you how many times I have just put this song on repeat and just left the room. If you can be in love with a song then I've got it bad for this one.  Above is the mini-video made for it by Absolut and Refinery29 and can we just talk about how Solange is the coolest thing walking right now? I am pretty sure if I ever met Beyonce' I'd ask her how it feels to be Solange's sister and if she ever raids her closet.

2. "Closer"- Tegan and Sara

    SoundCloud Widget    
Let me tell you about the Molly Ringwald dancing that occurs deep down in my spirit when this song comes on.

Get it Molly.
Sheer unspeakable joy.  And they are SO cute! I've been hearing about Tegan and Sara for a minute now but they definitely got my attention with this one.

Now these next two are my absolute guiltiest of pleasures of Summer 2013.

3. "I Love It"- Icona Pop

Someone, who will remain nameless, said that this song sounds like drunk white girls. Umm...no comment. What I will say is that I do have a guilty pleasure for insanely girly tunes. This one fits the bill along with sounding bratty and obnoxious and guess what? "I don't care! I love it!"  And this may or may not be me in the car when this song comes on. I love Nick from New Girl.

By the way, have you ever heard of Robin Thicke's slow jam cover of this? Hilarious.

4. "Cruise"- Florida Georgia Line ft. Nelly

The makeup of this song sounds like almost everything I'm against and yet I don't hate this song! I so wanted to but... *Heavy Sigh* I just can't help myself. And you know what? You can hit a real smooth Dougie during the chorus. You oughta try it sometime.

I'm happy to say that a few rap songs made my list. It's not that I don't like rap. It's that I love hip hop and rap is giving hip hop a bad name right now. However, these next three songs I absolutely love.

5. "Can't Hold Us" Macklemore and Ryan Lewis 

This song makes me feel like I can do anything!  Seriously, I feel like I can run up the City Hall steps like Rocky when this song comes on. It's so good.

6. "Power Trip" J. Cole ft. Miguel

"Would you believe me if I said I'm in love?"

*Insert body roll here*

I love Miguel's voice and this right here is one of my favorites of the year. Kudos to J. Cole for rhyming about a dude gettin' sprung. Love it.

7.  "LoveHate Thing" Wale ft. Sam Dew

This song just rides and Sam Dew's vocals are mesmerizing. Sick track. On repeat.

8. "Treasure"- Bruno Mars

Yaaaaaaaaassss Bruno! I was so glad when this song came out.  I will not rest until I have all of the choreography down from this video.

9.  "Primetime"- Janelle Monae ft. Miguel

I know that this song came out late into the season but it is hands down the slow jam of the summer. Period. Just forget about it. I don't know what Mariah's "#Beautiful" was trying to do but this record shut it down. If you haven't picked up Janelle Monae's "Electric Lady", I beseech thee to go to the nearest Target and get your life.

10. "Clarity" Zedd/ ft. Foxes

 Remember what I said about girly tunes? Yeah that. If you can sing the chorus to this song without making a face that looks like you are in excruciating pain then you are not doing it right.

Oh and just in case you were wondering, I am not here for "Blurred Lines" anymore. Not since the VMA's burned this memory into my mind every time I hear that song now:

No thank you.

What are your favorite songs from the summer?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Blame It On Me- Toya

"Blame It On Me" is by the one and only Chrisette Michelle who is a BEAST of a singer. Good golly!"

Hi, my name is Toya. I recently quit one of my two jobs (the highest paying one) to become a freelance writer.

It's been almost three weeks. Ask me how much freelance writing I've done.


Okay but this is the thing though: I've done more research on freelance writing and how to be self employed than actually doing it! It's been three weeks! Had I known that I would need about three weeks to find my mojo in this thing, perhaps I would have stayed at my job longer. Do I have regrets?  You have no idea.

I'm not saying that I did the wrong thing. I am saying that I may have done the right thing at the wrong time...which really in essence is the wrong thing in my opinion.   I just read a piece on Clutch Magazine that almost identically mirrored what I shared about how I did not realize how unhappy I was at my job until my emergency wisdom tooth surgery forced me to be off from work.  However the author of this piece said that she saved up a modest amount of money before she made her exit.   Now I knew it was going to get slim for me but in my head, I had it all worked out. So I thought. Turns out in factoring my bills, I somehow forgot about a large bill that was due. It wasn't one of those "pay half now and pay later" bills. It was a "pay now or that's your behind" bill. How on earth do you just not remember that?  How does that slip one's mind???  While I have been able to breathe better since I left my job,  I have never been more aware of my inadequacies as I am right now. This has been the most emotionally draining year of my entire life. So much so that this is what I prayed on my way home from work in regards to my finances:

"I can't worry about this. I don't mean that as a way to psyche myself out. I mean I absolutely do not have the capacity. I just don't. I don't have it in me to worry, I don't have it in me to cry, and I don't have it in me to tarry in some long drawn out "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob" type prayer. I don't have it in me anymore. This is the real: I'm in the pit right now. Just help me get out of the pit.  If you choose not to intervene, I still love you. I still believe that you work out things for my good. But hear me when I say, I have no more emotion to offer to any of this and the nineteen other things going on around me right now. "

That's all I've got really. As Luvvie of the blog Awesomely Luvvie says often, when it comes to worrying, I can't and am unable to can. I just don't have it in me anymore. Come what may, I am just going to deal with things and keep my head above water.

Let's talk about some positive life lessons though:

Lesson #1: In regards to going out, there is no such thing as "it's only ten dollars." Oh no ma'am. It's so real out here right now. Ten dollars may as well be one hundred dollars at this point. I'll take both please.

Lesson #2: I know I said that I have never been more aware of my inadequacies as I am now. That's not necessarily a bad thing. I am becoming more aware of how I am wired. I am becoming more and more aware of the kind of creative person I am and in what environment I thrive in. For example, I need to see people on a daily basis. I have got to get out of the house if I want to get anything creative out of my system.  I may not always need to write in public.  In fact I am currently writing this late at night at home after getting off from work.  But to get my thoughts flowing I need to be around people at some point during the day be it the library, the gym, or whatever.  I spent the whole day today working alone and couldn't even manage to finish one thing because the thoughts just weren't flowing. I felt so isolated.  The only company I had was a rotisserie chicken that I got from Sams Club.

Which brings me to Lesson #3:

Lesson #3: In no way should I ever EVER have the option of being left alone in the house with an entire carcass of chicken.  That's just way too much chicken for one person.  I've never consumed so much chicken over the course of one day in my entire life and it started the moment it got in the car with me. Those drumsticks never had a chance.

Lesson #4: I don't care what your pastor or the latest hit on gospel radio says, it is not everyone's season.  I feel like some churches are really big on declaring at the top of a new year that people are entering a season of people reclaiming what has been lost in recent times. I get that it's a very popular and encouraging message.  I hear it all the time (not in my church though).  This is the thing: it's not everyone's season. It CAN'T be EVERYONE'S season! It's easy to get caught up in that if you don't know how to listen to the ways that God speaks to you and around you.

I've been reading Psalm 107 which tells a few examples of people who have gone the wrong way and yet God was merciful and rescued them. I have no idea what that is going to look like for me.  What I do know and am understanding more and more is that life is hard and if you are still here then that means that there is a chance of things getting better. There is always a way out. You just have to be patient and wait for it.  In the meantime, I am going to just press forward and do the best that I can with what I can. Something needs to happen fast though or this is going to be me...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Toya- The College Years

Well it's the second week of post 9-5 office hours and on my way to figuring out/pursuing the dream and I must say that this is the happiest and most peaceful I have felt all year. I'm not saying everything is perfect. I am just saying that I finally feel like I am in a good and healthy state of mind.  I will not ever subscribe to the whole 30 or 40 is the new 20 but there is a part of me that feels like my 20's are starting over again.  What I mean is that I feel like a whole new world of learning has opened up to me lately.  Chalk it up to spending more time amongst college students studying in local coffee shops during the day but I feel like I'm in college sorta. Because I am not irresponsible and insecure as I was in my twenties, I feel like I will be more resourceful with all that I am learning in books and in life.

This morning I went to this class on faith, music and culture that I have been auditing and became slightly envious of the kids there. Almost all of them were born the year I went into my first year of college! Good grief.  I found myself a little envious of the fact that they are all going through this experience together; that they get to devote their time to their studies and not their jobs and other responsibilities that fall into place once you hit adulthood for real for real. It makes me wish that there was a college just for people in their thirties and forties but such is life. Interestingly enough, I am not learning a lot in class. The professor's way of teaching is pretty neat in a sense that there is no homework. We have a movie to watch and we discuss certain points but in an nutshell, he seems to want to lead us to have our own personal revelations about faith and culture versus having us rehashing data at the end of the semester. It's not what I thought it was going to be but I welcome the discussions and this new discipline of getting up and getting to class on time which is something I never quite managed when I went away to college at 17.

I don't know if I have ever gotten into my college experience here on BGLU so I will make this brief.  I was never really a good student. For some reason, I just never could quite focus and live in the now enough to really take school as seriously as I should. From about third grade on up, my report card consistently said "Toya is smart but she does not work to her full potential."  I did very well in English, go figure.  I don't know what it was about me and school. Looking back, maybe I was just a little rebellious. Maybe I was just looking at everything and going "What exactly is all of this for anyway?"  With that said, I should have never ever tried going away to school once I turned 17.  I was far too sheltered to go away to school even with it being just two hours away. I was more concerned about living right and not letting guys into my pants than I was trying to get good grades so I voluntarily came home within a year. After that I went to community college pretty much for the sake of getting internships in the music industry and that was pretty much how my life went until I moved here to Nashville.

But now there's a part of me that is really excited about learning. Like, I think I could actually go back to school provided I was taking a course load that I really cared about.  My friend, an amazing sista who is a Presbyterian minister, was recently encouraging me to go to Fuller Seminary for their Theology and Arts Masters program. That sounds delicious but this is the thing: I don't even have an undergraduate degree and I'd have to go to school for two years to get one.  Here are the reasons why I am like "Meh" about that whole idea:

I don't need more debt.

I'm almost 40 years old.

Do I really want to be around that many children for that amount of time? Seriously. I am one of the oldest people at my restaurant job and I always seem to feel like Shirley from Community.

I just don't know if I have it in me to go to school for that long.

We shall see, we shall see. In the meantime, now that I am in better state of peace, I find myself reading more and wasting less time on social media. I'm just not that concerned with what everyone else is doing nowadays. It's been a breath of fresh air.  I think my first week after leaving my job was a time for me to kind of gather myself together and get some rest. This week is when I will start to figure some things out and most likely have more and more revelations. All in all, this has been a good adventure and I can definitely say that this is the happiest I've been all year.

Now let's see how I feel when Friday Rodriguez rolls around and my paycheck reflects the paycut of life I just took.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Brand New Me- Toya

"Brand New Me" is a song by Alicia Keys who has been getting a bad rap lately if you ask me. It took some of my friends who are singers to point out how off pitch she can be at times but to the average listener like me, she's not that bad! I am so glad I'm not an entertainer. They really have their work cut out for them. 

As much as I've joked around about being the "Black Pam Beesly" (being a receptionist with a dislike for mundane tasks and an affinity for cardigan sweaters, sarcasm, and wise cracking thoughtful boys with messy hair) I did at one time have a dream of being a receptionist. When I was a teenager, my mom would take me to this high end salon in Center City Philadelphia. The receptionist was the flyest lady I had ever seen. She had a close cropped natural hair style, dressed in beautifully bold colors, wore big funky jewelry and walked as if she ran the place. Ms. Terry was IT! I looked forward to seeing her as much as I did going to get my hair done. She just seemed like she set everything in order.  I am assuming that memory is what gave me the idea that being a receptionist was somewhat glamorous. Now at about twenty some odd years later and at least ten years of receptionist experience under my belt, I know better. Oh do I ever. Ms. Terry had that thing on lock. Me on the other hand? Well, I'll explain in a bit why being a receptionist for that long has not been one of my wiser choices. Just because you can do something doesn't always mean you should. Being a receptionist is not my career destiny. Not by a long shot.

Because of this revelation, as of tomorrow my life will be totally different. Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at what will be my last job where I will ever hold a position as a receptionist to pursue my passions which include writing, TV and concert production, and counseling.  I was looking at careers in television recently and I saw that the OWN Network had an opening for a receptionist. "Not even for Oprah" I said to myself. "Not even for Oprah." After four years I came to the realization that in no way shape or form should I have ever been sitting behind a desk not regularly engaging with people . People are my life!  Now you may be saying to yourself, "You were a receptionist. Your job is to talk to people." My job was to greet people as they were on their way to somewhere else. I spent most of my time at my desk alone not really being able to build relationships and help others. For some reason this never bothered me until this year when I started to have anxiety attacks at my desk. I didn't understand why until recently and this is the reason I came up with:

Ever feel like the grace to do something has completely left the room? Whatever made me tolerant of going to that job every day just packed up and walked out this year. I have never felt so trapped in my life. I didn't realize how stressed out I was until I was until I had emergency wisdom tooth surgery and my recovery days felt like the best vacation I have ever had. It got so bad that I had to take naps at lunch time. Not because I was tired of working that job plus my part time job at a downtown restaurant. It was because I had to spend some part of the day being darn near unconscious to get through the rest of the day! That is no way to live. On top of that, a good number of my co-workers did some pretty dirty things behind my back which came up during my last job review. Although my supervisor was on my side and assured me that my job was safe, I took that as my cue to get out of there and fast. But if I got out, what was I going to do?  Seriously, as much as I've been trying to keep my ahead above water financially, where was I going to go?  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

To Chop or Not to Chop - Tia

Gorgeous and Short!!
I've never been a hair person. I boil it down to laziness. I just never really cared enough to spend hours on my hair.

Growing up, I thought I had thick hair. My mother perpetually kept my hair braided or in plats. I never took the time to learn about my hair's texture or growth patterns or whatever. In junior high, I got a relaxer and a cute cut. But my hair just didn't want to hold the style. One of the older girls in youth group told me that I just need to curl my hair tighter with a hotter curling iron. Yeaaaahhhh....that didn't work. What I didn't know at the time was that my hair was just too fine for the cut I had and getting the relaxer didn't help the little bit of thickness I did have.

I swam in high school so I spent four years in braids. I did get a relaxer at the beginning of senior year. But again, I was lazy and it was too much work as I was prepping to try to get into a college pre-med program. So it was back to the braids I went.

Up until about 5 years ago, I'd either worn braids, two strand twists or weaves. And it's not because I don't like my hair or I don't have hair. I just don't want to be bothered by it. I started pressing my hair off and on (more on than off) about 5 years ago. I loved my pressed hair. It wasn't a sign of assimilation or not being proud of my roots. I just like my hair straight. It was easier. When my hair is pressed I only need 3 products: Design Essentials shampoo, It's a 10! Hair Mask Conditioner and It's a 10! Leave-In Conditioner. That's it. I don't have to grease/oil my scalp. I don't have to do anything...Unless I work out.

A good workout is the mortal enemy of a non-relaxed head's press. One good sweat and my hair reverts backs to its most comfortable non-straight state. So with a pressed head my choices are stretchy pants and fly hair or skinny jeans and "Girl, what happened to your press?"

At the moment I'm wearing Senegalese twists. I love them but my hair grows fastest when I leave it alone. I could never wear a sew-in longer than 5 weeks because my hair would grow right out of it. It's the same thing with the twists. A style that's supposed to last me a good 2 months at least is barely making it to 6 weeks.

I could never go natural. I'm too lazy for all of that. I applaud you if that's your journey. But it's not for me. I don't want to have to figure out how to stretch, coil, branch, whatever my hair. I don't want to have to become a chemist to figure out what variety of products to use to properly moisturizer my roots.  I know that when my hair is straight I can spray it with leave-in conditioner, blow it dry, flat iron it and I'm good to go for a week unless I work out. No additional work needed. And when it's twisted, I can spray in leave-in conditioner after a wash and I'm done. Easy-peasy.

Frankly, I'm tired and I'm over it. I'm tired of feeling like I have choose between my hair and my workouts and ultimately my health. I'm tired of feeling like I'm wasting my money getting my hair twisted or braided. I'm just tired.

For the last couple of weeks I've been thinking about cutting my hair off. I always said that when I turned 40 I was going to chop all of my hair off. While I'm still a few years away from the big 4-0, cutting my hair seems like the most logical thing to do. I wouldn't have to worry about ruining my amazing pressed style after an excruciating class of kickboxing. I wouldn't have to spend hundreds of dollars every couple of months getting my hair twisted just so I could work out consistently. And I could go back to swimming, which I love, and give my knees a break. (Side note: getting old BLOWS. I have recently had to let running, Insanity and few other things go so that I can do physical therapy on my knees. Ooooh, I hate getting old.)

The thing is...I'm terrified. My hair has gotten pretty long. And in my family hair is, "Your crowning glory." I remember my mother making me take my hair out of a ponytail so that she could show one of her friends how long my hair had gotten. Yeah, it was like that in my family. And the world around me would have me thinking that I'm less of a black woman if I don't have long hair (whether it's all growing out of my head is a moo point.) I've just grown so used to having hair of length one way or another that I'm afraid to do anything different. What if I cut it and I hate it? I'll have to deal with it being short until it grows out long enough for the Africans to snatch it up in some braids. What if...

I know some of you are thinking, "It's only hair..." But it's not. People have an emotional connection to their hair that's hard to explain. Why do you think girls cry when they get a really bad cut or style? Why do cancer patients and people with alopecia grieve so deeply when their hair comes out? It's not just hair for a lot of people. And I'm scared I may be one of them.

I don't know...I'm still thinking about it. And it will be at least another 6 weeks before I make a decision. I have to take new passport pictures. And it's more than likely that I'll be traveling with twists than with any other hair style for the next 10 years. So I still have some time to ponder. I'll keep you posted.