Black Girls Be Listening: Rapsody & “The Idea of Beautiful”

If you’re an avid reader of Black Girl Blue then my adventures on Spotify are not new to you.  Well folks, it happened  again.

I have known about this artist for a while.  I’d heard a few songs by her and watched a few music videos.  I followed her on Twitter and people always spoke very highly of her music.  I went to 95 Live, a monthly hip hop dance/dj party hosted by 9th Wonder and his squad and I saw this short, brown skinned woman weaving her way through the crowd and I recognized her.  Yep, it was Rapsody.

So today as I sat at my computer and worked, I hit play on “The Idea of Beautiful” and just… listened.  I was stuck on the melodic arrangements that only played second to the searing truth that was laid, track after track.  I wasnt even bobbing my head, not wanting to miss anything.  It has just the right blend of old school hip hop and a brave new world where Jay Z is the New Negro and the President is black.  Yes.  It is perfect.

After listening to the entire record the first time ( I say first time because I am listening to it again as I write this post), I wondered where is the space in hip hop for Rapsody?  She doesn’t fit in with the flamboyant, caricature stylings of a Nicki Minaj nor is she going to lyrically P pop in a handstand like Trina.  No. If I had to I would put Rapsody somewhere between an Eve and a Lauryn Hill, someone you wouldnt want to cross in a rap or a street battle, with a pinch of MC Lyte and a dash of Hov for good measure.

Rapsody makes music that one can grow with and grow to.    Her music does not have an expiration date; a time when it will no longer be relevant to the beauty and struggles of life.  She does not sell you surface or body or shock and awe; Instead she welcomes you into her world and her heart and asks you to share in the experience.

So take a peek, steal a listen. There are some cuss words so this is NSFW (Dont say I didnt warn you)!

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Black Girls Be Winning Grammys

Did you watch the Grammys  last night? I didnt but I twatched it (watched it via the plethora of tweets).  I promise this will not be another post about Kelly’s dress, Frank’s singing (or lackthereof) or Katy’s boobs.

…. ok I will talk about Katy’s boobs for a quick moment.  Women have breasts.  Breasts of all shapes and sizes.  I just find it really interesting how people talk about boobs.  Folks really think they have the right to say when boobs should and should not be displayed and how and how much.  When they think it looks good or doesnt ruffle their sensibilities, they accept it.  But if someone is exposing themselves as they see fit and outsiders dont agree they have so much to say.  I have a lot to say about boobs but I’ll leave that for another post.

The Grammys that I was most interested in weren’t even being televised so I am very pleased to announce that Esperanza Spalding and Robert Glasper took home Grammys last night!  Esperanza won her second and third Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Album (Radio Music Society) and Best Instrumental Accompanying Vocalists (“City of Roses”).  If you didnt know, she received her first Grammy in 2011 for Best New Artist beating out the Biebster.

And, in my humble opinion, one of the best albums of the year, Black Radio by Robert Glasper Experiment won Best R&B album.

But why is this so exciting to this broke lil Black girl who will not prosper not nary a bit by these awards? Well first off Esperanza is the latter day saint of New Age Naturals.

I mean just look at her! She is serving Diana Ross realness for the GAWDS!

I mean just look at her! She is serving Diana Ross realness for the GAWDS! Photo Credit

She is a prodigy and her music is awesome.  I am glad that I get the opportunity to experience her artistry.

And oh Robert…

He's the one in the middle. Yup.

He’s the one in the middle. Yup. Photo Credit

First off, he’s my kinda fine (Remember that post? No? Refresh your memory here.).  Second awf, his album rocks! And third off, he lives for his team! He really crafted an album with all these people that he likes and respects.  That album is full of art and love and fun and that can be felt in every song.

But I am especially excited about these wins because one of my first few posts, Black Girls Be Listening to New Music and Getting Sentimental: Gregory Porter’s Be Good were about these artists which means that this Black Girl’s got taste!! Two out of the three artists in that post got Grammys last night and Gregory Porter… well…

So yeah… the biggest winner could be Gregory Porter.  Call me boo.

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Black Girls Be Loving Soul Music

So it’s 11:25 and though I am committed to my Black History Month blogging challenge, all I want to do is listen to Emile Sande and Lianne La Havas.  So this post was born!  I dont know whats in the water in the UK or if they have just started getting hip to the soul greats but the best soul singers have been coming from overseas! They sing from a very raw, emotional and deep place not like the sterile sound that “R&B” has taken.  Dont believe me? Listen for yourself:

Exhibit A: Emile Sande

Her debut album came out last year and it is awesome.  I like every single song on that album but the following song touches me. I think we’ve all stood at the precipice of a major decision, choosing whether to sell out or follow our heart.

Exhibit B: Lianne La Havas

This girl man… I have adopted her as my cousin in my head.  She is 23 (1989 was a damn good year) and from the UK and her debut album is doing great! I cant wait to see her live.  This song asks the forever relevant question, “Is Your Love Big Enough for What’s To Come?” And though the “on tour-concert” video is over done, I like it because I feel like I get a glimpse into her life and her personality. Making me like her even more.

And I’m gonna end this music recap with a young brother named Michael Kiwanuka.  When I first heard his voice I had to stop what I was doing, look at his picture and read his bio because I just knew my Spotify was messed up and had played some long dead soul singer.  But it hadnt.  This 25 year old man stole Sam Cooke’s voice box.  That’s my hypothesis and Im sticking with it.  Here’s his song “Home Again”. Did I mention that he’s 25 and I find him oh so very attractive? *Makes googly eyes and bookmarks all his videos*

So there you have it folks. I hope you enjoyed this musical journey. What are some of the musical acts you’ve discovered?

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Black Girls Be So Proud to Be Aggies!

I mentioned in a previous post that I am a proud graduate of an illustrious HBCU, but I didn’t name it.  Well it’s Black History Month and I got my alumni newsletter in the mail today and my pride bubbleth over.

I am an alumnus of the North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University!!! AGGIE PRIDE!!!! (Whoo! That takes a lot out of you when you do it right lol)

I am so extremely proud of my university.  It was established in the basement of Shaw University in 1891. It would go on to give us the “Greensboro Four” (really the A&T Four) who were famous for their nonviolent protest of sitting in at the Woolworth’s counter in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960.

A&T Four

Ronald McNair, first African American astronaut, was an Aggie.  And though he made the ultimate sacrifice on the Challenger on January 26, 1986, he forged an indelible bond between the university and NASA that continues to this very day.

mcnair

And on the cover of the alumni newsletter there was the First Lady of the United States, newly robed and mid-speech.  She gave the commencement address for the Spring 2012 graduation.  She was also given an honorary doctorate from A&T making her an Aggie for life!

moatA&T

But it’s not the glorious achievements that my alma mater boasts that make me so proud to call myself an Aggie.  It’s all the Aggies I know who are out in the world kicking down doors, obliterating barriers and creating their own opportunities that make me proud to say I am one of them! Aggies dont understand No! Aggies know no wait! And Aggies know what they can achieve when they call on the Aggie infantry.  When we yell “AGGIE PRIDE” it is not a mere spirit chant, its a battle cry. Its a rallying call that tells us to gear up and get ready; for the fight is not over.

So on this Black History Month 2013 I celebrate my alma mater, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. The legacy its created, its present growth and its continued and future success!

Wanna learn more about NC A&T? Visit them here.

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Black Girls Be Having Baby Brothers That Aren’t Babies No More

Ok so remember on February when I rushed a post out at 11:59pm and said that I would do one post a day for every day of Black History Month and then didnt post again until the 4th? Yeah well, see what had happened was…  No but seriously my internet at the house has been on habitual can’t get right so I’ve been struggling! And using up WAY too much data on my cell phone.

But because I promised a post for every day this month Imma pay what I owe.  So this is what I would have posted on February 2nd…

Happy Black Groundhog Superbowl Eve Day!! WHOO HOOO!!!! Did the groundhog score a touchdown while singing Wade in the Water?!? No?? Oh.  This aint no fun then. LOL I hope this post finds you very well.  Black girls be happy-sad today. Sappy. Had. Because today is the Blue Black Girl’s brother’s 14th birthday! Yes! 14! I just… Can hardly stand it.  My baby is tryna grow up and I am not ready.

I am so proud of the man that he is becoming.  Our 9 and a half year age difference makes me treat him like a son sometimes but the older he gets the more and more I look to him as a friend.  I genuinely enjoy his company and I marvel at how his brain works.  He is a voracious reader, loves Greek mythology and wants to be a chef.  He is sarcastic, smart, articulate, inquisitive, intuitive, empathetic almost to a fault and so gentle.

When I look at him I am reminded of the privilege of gentleness that so many Black men are not afforded.  He is still very affectionate and showers us with I Love Yous.  He relishes in the company of animals and small children and has no problem talking about how a movie, song or event made him feel.  He hasnt been taught that feelings are a sign of weakness and I hope he never does.

My little brother represents the future of Black masculinity.  A masculinity that is not defined by extremes or bravado.  A masculinity that  is not black and white but exists in the beauty of grey.  A masculinity that does not exclude the feminine, doesn’t merely include it but wide open arm embraces it.

I feel so blessed to watch his transformation from child to man. I pray a special prayer for him and my other brother, and all the young Black men. A prayer of safety in a world that has a bounty on their head and a dagger at their back.  I pray the renewing of their minds, the openness of their hearts and the flight of their spirits.

Happy Birthday my love and many many many more.

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Black Girls Be Celebrating Black History Month

It’s 11:44pm on February 1st, 2013 which means that today is the first day of Black History Month.

This Black Girl lives Black History every day but it’s still nice to have this month set aside. So I am going to try to post something every day.

Today I will discuss the NAACP Image Awards. I missed the beginning but I was transfixed as soon as I came home from work. I came in just in time to see Diahann Carol present Kerry Washington with the President’s Award. Can you say chills?! I truly respect and admire Kerry Washington professionally and personally. She has mastered the art of being professionally beyond reproach while being a vocal advocate for the causes she believes in. And her work for Americans for the Arts *_* Im just so impressed by her eloquence. Her speech was poised and on point (as usual) and I didn’t think anything could top her.

And then, THEN, they had Sidney Poitier introduce Harry Belafonte!!

(Now let me stop and remind or let you know rather that I have a bachelor’s of fine arts in professional theatre from a HBCU (the best one in my unbiased opinion) and I am a theatre geek. I will tell you more about this in another post)

Sidney Poitier and Harry Belafonte on the same stage at the same damn time! I respect these men for their artistry but I am humbled to walk in their footsteps as an artist committed to action. Somewhere along the way artists forgot about their responsibility to their communities and thought they could just act. Nawl buddy! You stand on too many shoulders to get on top and get lazy. Harry got that. Kerry gets that. And at the end of the awards Jamie Foxx got emotional because he was getting it.

Did you watch the NAACP Awards? Thoughts?

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