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 Mourning the End of Summer

I am a Summer Baby! I love the warm weather and I was made for beaches and tropical drinks with umbrellas. So celebrate the end of another great summer here is Summertime Anthem by Eric Roberson. And if you look real close, squint and hit your pause button you will peep the Blue Black Girl in her video girl debut. Check me at the 1:07 mark and the 1:38 mark cuz Black Girls be famous.

Black Girls Be Lovin: A Drop in Frank’s Ocean

If you havent already please read Frank Ocean’s letter

After reading that I just feel emotionally overwrought, raw, wrung out and incredibly human.  Sometimes in my attempt to be nauseatingly positive I forget to admit that sometimes life hurts.  On its own, without any help from anyone else, the act of living is painful.  Anyone that has lived can attest to this fact.

Ocean’s letter is a testament to that.  It is proof of that pain and the humanity of it all.  He loved.  He wasnt loved back.  It hurt.  Period.  I’ve been there.  I’ve loved with all the love I could muster at that stage in my life.  And I’ve been loved, in a way.  Sometimes I havent been loved the way I wanted.  Sometimes it wasnt enough.  Sometimes it wasnt at the right time.  And sometimes love is poisonous.  And in the end it hurt.

But that pain helped me grow.  So I understand when Ocean wrote “Thanks. To my first love. I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasnt what I hoped for and even though it was never enough.  It was,” I overstand.

You see I have a first love.  We all do, but he is mine.  I have loved him since I was 15 years old and I love him to this day.  I cant shake him and he  cant shake me.  And what’s worse is that we have never really been together so we have never really broken up.  We are prisoners, shackled at the heart, pulling in opposite directions, breaking both hearts in the process.  And they will never heal until once or for all it is finished and we are free.  Free to love or free to leave.

Frank Ocean loved and lost too. He hurt too.  Except his hurt was compounded in that it wasnt “acceptable”.  I have been in some shady situations.  I have been the love “a la carte” and when your feelings arent accepted no one will empathize with your pain.  But no matter what they say, accepted or not, it continues to sting and bleed and fester and infect.  It continues to hurt.

Life hurts.  All by itself and without any assistance.  But it hurts so much more when people go out of their way to make it worse.  They take that pain and throw salt in the wound.  They take the smoldering remains and fan it and blow on it until the fire burns anew.  They take an ax to the pieces of your heart that still have the audacity to beat.  And they do it as if it has never or will never happen to them.

So I want to thank you Frank Ocean for your bravery.  Your willingness to hurt out loud and in all of the living colors.  From my hurting yet beating human heart to yours, thank you.

Black Girls Be Listening to Music and Getting Sentimental: Gregory Porter’s Be Good

Thanks to the good algorithms over at Spotify I have been introduced to some amazing music lately.  It started with an inkling to check out Esperanza Spalding and see what all the fuss is about. And her latest album, Radio Society Music, is absolutely worth every decibel of hype thats been hyped.

(And do you see that fro?! What Im experiencing is what we can “Hair Envy”.

She won the Grammy for Best New Artist, beating out The Bieber, and I couldnt be happier.  Her music gave me exactly what I am looking for right now. Life, energy, inspiration, funkiness and truth.  I actually bought her album. Like paid for it, from iTunes, with my real American money.  If you know me, and even more so if you know my generation, you understand how big this is.

Then the algorithms at Spotify recommended Robert Glasper based on my Esperanza Spalding preference and Let Me Tell YOU!! The Robert Glasper Experiment’s Black Radio is the perfect blend of jazz and hip hop.

And the special guest appearances include Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild, Chrisette Michelle, Ledisi, Lupe…yes on one album.  And his version of Sade’s “Cherish the Day” featuring Lalah Hathaway is sublime and stays on repeat in my head.  Not to mention that the album soundtracks my entire 75 minute commute from the door of my job to the door of my house. It’s almost like it was made just for me. 🙂

So unable to believe my good musical fortune I return to the genies at Spotify for my third blessing, and a blessing it was.  I see this Gregory Porter character suggested based on Robert Glasper and I dont know why but I decided to give him a try.  And I sat and listened unable to hit skip once.

But the title song, Be Good, literally haunted me. With lyrics like “I trim my lion’s claws and cut my mane and I would if I could but that woman treats me the same” and “She said lions are made for cages, just to look at in delight. Dare not let them walk around cuz they might just bite” I started to overstand.  This is a song about loving someone but they are scared of you. Your power, your strength, your truth, your light. And you want to change so bad so that they wont be afraid, but you cant.  You are who you are and you cant help it.

I’ve been there, ready and wishing I could dim my star so that someone could hold me without their own insecurities getting in the way.  I’ve cut my mane and I’ve trimmed my claws but I’ve always had teeth, teeth I cant hide no matter how hard I smile.

But Im learning that anyone that  can only handle you when you are less than yourself does NOT deserve you.  In fact, if they want you to cower and make yourself small so that they can feel comfortable, dont walk, RUN, away.  The right person will not only accept you but push you to be the best person you can be, even if that person scares them a little bit.

Have you discovered any great music lately? Let me know!