Album Review: For The Fans (2005) by Bizzy Bone

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For The FansIn June 2005, Bizzy Bone’s 6-track semi-album For The Fans was released neither under a major label nor an independent label – but rather through BTNHBoard.com (the official Bone Thugs-N-Harmony forum/fan site) by a member that goes by the screen name of GodOfWar.

Before this Internet-only album made its way into the underground market, so much hype was put behind it, but all that publicity was much to do about nothing, because the album is horribly pathetic, beginning with the opening track to the final track.

1.  PRICELESS
By definition, priceless is a word that entails something precious and valuable, but this track is quite the opposite.  The song starts off with Bizzy Bone giving praise to the Lord, giving shout outs to his family, and disclaiming that he isn’t crazy which is priceless (that is, very funny disclaimer) considering his past behaviors.  This song basically has no vibe whatsoever.  Some of his lyrics are actually good because of the mention of his family, but it doesn’t work in the scope of the priceless theme, because it is unmoving and doesn’t seem genuine.

Bizzy talks throughout the entire track without any care.  The rapping that he does do is very little and comes in verse three.  It’s a shame because the beat is rather pleasant, but Bizzy doesn’t do anything to complement it.  Honestly, it is not a terrible track but sticking to the title, this track is a priceless piece of mediocrity.

If this opening track was expected to grab the attention of the listener, it clearly does not.   What “Priceless” does do is showcase how the following tracks would be, for they all mirror its lackluster ambiance.

2.  YOU EVER BEEN LONELY
This track is not terrible, but it’s not quite there.  The beat is average and Bizzy’s playfulness on the track is not amusing.  The theme of “You Ever Been Lonely” centers on lonely women, and he makes it clear that he would love to take one to his “telly” and fill the void.  In fact, this song has no degrading lyrics toward women; he simply wants to cuddle with a female and partake in some extracurricular activities.  After finishing his verses, he states in the latter that he will entertain any woman with the following:

“Now that’s what I’m talking about.  I want you to take this effing song in the club home boy, and you better bring me out somethin’ that look good with some high heels, with a pedicure, with a manicure, or some fine legs, smooth, chocolate cocoa, mocha; it don’t matter baby we even mess with vanilla swirls around here; give it to ’em.”  This statement is quite funny, especially how Bizzy says it with his hyperactive voice.  Obviously, majority of men share his sentiments.  All in all, this track is boring but decent.

3.  BABYLON
“Babylon” starts off promising but falls off quickly.  Bizzy’s energy on this track is lively but he sounds sloppy and fails to capture that outstanding signature sound that he once had.  Some of his lyrics are so incoherently confusing that Bizzy himself may call into question what he actually raps about and the actual meaning behind his verses.  For example, one of his line states:  “Yuck, in embalming fluid, incinerate me like chicken strips or butter… like filet mignon with the grease…”   Perhaps he was eating while recording or thinking about his next meal.  Whatever his lyrics entail is a guess, but one thing is clear: his verses are careless and average.

The old-school Bizzy would have made this song sound so amazing that people would ignore his questionable lyrics; in fact, he could have rendered his verse in Chinese proverbs and leave people awe-struck, but he doesn’t have that luxury anymore due to his sub-par performances and style.

Bizzy, however, is not the primary force that ruins this track; that blame goes to a no-name rapper by the name of Baby Phil whose verse/style is classic trash.  He raps off-beat; he comes in very loud and very low in many instances, which makes it clear that his verse was probably put together by taking small pieces of his lyrics and fusing them together to form a complete verse.  Condolences go to that recording engineer who had to partake in such mess, because the entire verse is Pure Refined Trash.  He breathes heavily throughout the entire verse as if he’s having a heart attack or an asthma attack.

Moreover, his verse is pointlessly filled with gun-clacking and murderous lyrics – with quite a lot of mother-F bombs for unknown reasons.  Trying to make sense of such convoluted, nonsense lyrics is like trying to understand the phenomenon of outer space and its environment.

Baby Phil’s performance literally turns an average track into an unbearable track.

4.  A LETTER
Surprisingly, this track has a very good beat, but Bizzy ruins it with his sloppy flow.  He laughs for no apparent reason a few times as he raps, and he changes his voice by making strange sounds, etc.  In brief, he plays on this song; and as a result, he shoulders all the blame for destroying a good track.

5.  WHO THA THUG
“Who That Thug” represents another sub-par song.  After he delivers his one verse, he does some strange scratching sound with his voice; in other words, he mimics a scratching turntable with his distorted voice and says “get get get get busy ya’ll” a few times.  “Who Tha Thug” is annoying because Bizzy makes it annoying with his teasing and rapping rather than presenting a serious attitude.  The beat itself doesn’t help either due to its Christmas-bell-carol atmosphere.

6.  CLOCKWISE
This entire track has an otherworldly ambiance to it due to the cosmic-like (Star Trek) rhythm.  Bizzy only appears on the chorus while two no-name rappers deliver uninspiring verses, one of whom is Baby Phil.  The first verse, occupied by an H-Faktor affiliate, sounds like an elementary kid who is learning how to rap with poor lyrics that state in part: “I’m ready for the warfare, strapped at all times / One hand on my money, other hand on my nine / Your man come through, I take a bite out of crime / I put a dime on this line, H-Faktor I signed / You better recognize game, listen up when I’m speakin’ / In other words, get your notebook cause I’m preachin’…”  Whatever he’s preaching is an unholy clutter of nonsense, including his slapdash style of delivery.

Baby Phil is no better and delivers the same boring performance as stated earlier in “Babylon.”  And yes, he again fires off with a load of crap filled with profanity and murderous lyrics.  A more fitting name should be “No Skillz” because that is what he represents. “Clockwise” as a whole is dull and has no interesting moments – it signifies the worst song on the album.

Bizzy must have been outer space throughout this entire album as the opening of this track states, “Breaker breaker breaker sector 1-9, we’re about to land,” accompanied by some outer space-type music that plays in the background.  Knowing how strange Bizzy can be at times, him having an outer space experience wouldn’t surprise anyone.  Perhaps he visited Mars or Pluto and collaborated with some Martians.  Who knows?  Interestingly, while scrutinizing and listening to this painful album, it is safe to say that it is very alien.

Knowing the fundamentals of record labels and how difficult they can be, one would think it’s a good thing to carry out a solo project because of full creative control, but not in this case, especially when one has no clout or experience (i.e., the catalyst and overseer of this album mentioned in the opening paragraph).  Trying to put an album out on your lonesome (or with the aid of a few others) comes with struggles that usually bring about failure.  In other words, it calls for a disaster in the product’s development and conclusion, and a disaster For The Fans is.

On a scale of 1 to 10, this album is a 2 (equivalent to a D-minus grade); that’s how apathetic it is.  Frankly, the album is a mess and very deprived of energy, effort, uniformity, and professionalism.  It is simply boring and has no replay value – and renders no curiosity.  No effort at all was put into this album and it shows throughout Bizzy’s lyrics, nonchalant style, and lackluster rapping.  This album sounds like it was recorded in a dumpster-like recording studio.

The album doesn’t even have the name of the album on the actual CD, nor does it have the year of the album’s release; that’s how sloppy and unprofessional it is.  It’s simply underdeveloped.  Everything about this album is amateurish, from Bizzy’s delivery to his carefree atmosphere, from the CD’s production to its mastering. Bizzy is known for his mesmerizing quick tongue and smooth, high-pitched harmonies, but he doesn’t showcase any of those qualities at all.

If you have not heard this album, save yourself the headache because it is not worth it.  If you insist to chance a listen, you will find out that one listen (or maybe two) is all this album deserves.  If you are a Bizzy Bone/Bone Thugs-N-Harmony fan and a collector of their albums, this album will be difficult to find, but it possibly can be located on EBay, selling at a high price that is not worth the purchase.  It can be found on some sites for free download, however.

For The Fans is a bad album, but it doesn’t compare to how bad its second installment is, which is called Only One, orchestrated by the same person who rendered this album.  In a few words, Only One is laughable and a dump of elephant manure.

As a whole, For the Fans epitomizes a price-less piece of lackluster tracks, and it is not a memorable album.  Anyone who argues otherwise is crazy and ought to clean his or her ears with Ajax.  Bizzy’s performance on this album is uninspiring and nonchalant, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone because this album was not released under a major or an independent record label – but rather through a BTNHBoard member.

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[Originally published April 5, 2008 on now-defunct Examiner.com]

 

 

 

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony appears live on Shade 45’s Lip Service

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[October 27, 2009]

Monday, October 26, 2009, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony sat down with provocative radio hosts Angela Yee and Leah Rose of Lip Service to speak about their upcoming album, the group reuniting after ten years, and miscellaneous subjects (including sex talk).

Bizzy Bone was not present for good reasons; according to the members, he stayed behind in Los Angeles, California to attend court-ordered drug rehabilitation classes, while the rest of the members took the trip to New York to promote their approaching album Uni5: The World’s Enemy.  The four other members, Krayzie Bone, Layzie, Wish Bone, and Flesh-n-Bone, held it down, however, and gave a shout out to Bizzy Bone and stated everything with him is great.

This was not a conventional interview but rather a laid back, carefree, and playful interview throughout.  It was quite entertaining and humorous – and perhaps one of the most lighthearted interviews they have ever done.  It lasted approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.  The entertainment and questions were countless, so this piece will feature a brief recap of what went down via bullet points.

  • Indirect question regarding so-called breakup

Naturally, this indirect question was fitting, considering the group’s constant foursome and trio appearance due to Bizzy Bone’s off-and-on presence (after Flesh-n-Bone was sentenced to prison).  Wish Bone stated all families have fights and problems, but the group never broke up and was always intact; members were just doing their own things, but they always had plans to come together as a five-member group when Flesh-n-Bone was released from prison.  (Flesh was released July 13, 2008.)

  • Regarding hometown of Cleveland

They talked about how Cleveland is one of the poorest cities in America, and how everything is basically the same since they left.  Even though they were born and raised in Cleveland, they said they have houses elsewhere and live outside of Ohio.  Flesh-n-Bone stated he has not visited Cleveland since his release in 2008, but has plans to visit his hometown in the future.

  • Question regarding reality show

Krayzie Bone stated the group would partake in a reality show, but it has to be under the right circumstances.  He added that they are looking for a show that depicts them as professional businessmen and not as a bunch of idiots.  The group actually had a pending reality show titled Living In Harmony, where several footages were already recorded, but Bone’s manager Bobby Francis recently revealed that the show was canceled because it was not the right situation.

  • Question regarding sharing and fighting over women

They emphatically said they have never sexually shared women, or had women come between their friendships because they have boundaries:  never mess with a woman that your friend and/or family is involved with.  In a disgusting voice, Krayzie Bone said, “That’s nasty to me.”

  • Question regarding leader of group

Throughout the group’s career, the question of who’s the leader has been asked several times, and the answer has remained the same:  there is no leader (but Layzie Bone takes credit as the unofficial spokesman).   The members basically said each member is a leader and plays his role and contributes when need be.  When it’s time to speak out, they emphasized that there is no problem, because they have known each other since they were kids and have a close relationship.  Thus, speaking out on any matter, especially regarding music, is natural.

  • Question regarding best fighter in the group

This segment was rather funny.  Krayzie Bone, with some added bass to his voice, said he would beat the [expletive] out of them.  Layzie Bone jumped in with rejection, claiming his bigger brother and eldest member Flesh-n-Bone could beat up everybody (and faintly added his name in the equation for approval).  Wish Bone, strongly rejected with two words:  “Hell no!”

  • Account regarding Flesh-n-Bone’s prison fight

Sticking to the subject, Flesh-n-Bone revealed a hilarious story about a fight that he had in prison with a troublemaker, stating that he abused this fellow inmate from one side of the gym to the other and left him bloodied – so bloodied that he was sent to the infirmary.

  • Question regarding relationships while in prison

One host asked the members a complex question pertaining to “would [they] wait for a woman who had a 10-year prison stint.”  Wish Bone jokingly said yes, but staying monogamous would be out of the question.  Layzie Bone said that every man would wait for his woman but, at the same time, he would sleep around until she is released.  The question was sparked when Flesh-n-Bone revealed that his 10-year prison stint caused his marriage to dissolve.

  • Question regarding Flesh-n-Bone’s transition, prison to real world

Flesh-n-Bone stated his transition went rather smoothly, but he did have to get accustomed to the new technology.  For example, he saw someone talking without any device in his hand and thought the person was crazy.  However, the person had an earpiece (i.e., Bluetooth) and he had no idea what it was, which generated some laughter.

In the latter part of the interview, R&B singer Omarion came into the studio and embraced and shared a few words with Bone.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony also talked about their new album and what new style they are bringing as a five-member group.  Their leading single “See Me Shine” featuring Jay Rush, Lyfe Jennings, and Phaedra was also played twice – at the beginning and near the end.

Unsurprisingly, they announced a new release date of December 22, 2009(?) for UNI-5: The World’s Enemy; this is actually the sixth time the album has been pushed back.

Overall, the interview was interesting.  Angela Yee and Leah Rose are known for their provocatively sexual tone, and they did not shy away from that motif with Bone.  They presented a carefree atmosphere and Bone reciprocated that vibe.

Lip Service, the two-hour show, comes on every Monday night on Sirius at 8:00 PM.

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[Originally published October 27, 2009 on now-defunct Examiner.com]

The Mentality of White Supremacists

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We will continue to shoot and kill Black people, because we truthfully view your existence as a threat to our society.  We view your lives as a cancer to not only America but humanity.  When we shoot, we will shoot to execute without any hesitation – for we are gods.  We are the decision-makers on whether you live or die – and the latter takes priority.  We hold the ultimate gavel.  We will not only shoot you one time, two times, three times but more than four times to ensure that you are dead.   We will watch your body spasm in distress.  We will watch you suffer as you take your last breath.  We will watch the blood vessels in your eye sockets engulf your vision until darkness becomes permanent.  We will watch blood escape your undeserving body that allowed you to function as an organism.  We will be erected firmly above your body with guns drawn until we are certain that every organ in your body shuts down.

Your loss neither moves us emotionally nor does it pain us.  We have zero empathy for your lives and feelings.  We joyfully watch your families on television as their tears flow uncontrollably.  We watch you reminisce about the good times while you are consoled.  We have finalized that physical bond.  When more opportunities present themselves, we will continue to finalize those bonds, whether you show compliance or not.  We will leave you with the lasting memory of caskets of your sons and daughters.

We will hire lawyers to argue that our lives were in danger, giving us no choice but to use deadly force.  We will lie and fabricate plausible stories, for we know our tongues hold more weight than yours.  We will provide a false narrative to the media, for we are the creation and ownership of facts.  We will focus on your past criminal record and maintain you have a history of violence.  If need be, we will excavate your elementary-school records to show any punishments that resulted from disobedience to further push the narrative of criminality.

If we are brought to trial, we will make sure that the jury is dominated by white faces.  At the end of the day, we will go home to our wives and children. We will WALK FREE and maintain our freedom, while Black families remain shock at a criminal justice system that always favored white – but never cared for your pain and plight.

The relentless assault on your suffering will be advertised nationwide.  When you turn on the television, cable-news anchors will argue how the facts show that the killings were justified.  We will employ and invite adequate Black faces to fight on our behalf – and criticize Black society for its misfortunes with authority. We will find the most menacing photographs to televise while we blame both you and them for their demise.  Because we control the media, we control the message.  We will attack you on all fronts, for we are the ownership of mass media.

When you scream “Black Lives Matter,” we will scream “all lives matter,” even though we know the system allows us to kill you with impunity.  When you cry “Black Lives Matter,” we will deflect and inquire about Black-on-Black crimes when we know it has no correlation to police-involved shootings.  When you question the criminal justice system, we will argue that the system is fair to everyone.  We will do everything and anything to justify our positions.  We will relentlessly lie until we naturally believe our own lies.  We will divert the conversation and put the blame on you every time.

You will have no choice but to pray to God, sing hymns, and forgive us for our crimes and sins. We demand that you forgive us, forgive us, forgive us – and love us and move on by accepting the ruling of the courts. More important, we demand that you have sympathy for our families during our trying times of recovery.

We will be fired and banned from joining another trigger-happy department.  However, we are a team; when we are sent home, we have enough soldiers to continue the work of harassment and violence.  We will provide special attention and harass you everywhere: on the sidewalk, on school campuses, in the park, in the workplace, inside your car, inside your houses, and everywhere you make a presence.

We do not care if you are educated with various college degrees.  We do not care if you are sickened with a disease.  We do not care if your ensemble resembles a three-piece suit.  We do not care if your ensemble resembles a baggy jean, a baseball cap, and chukka boots.  We do not care if you are a Black man or a Black woman – let alone if you are accompanied by your children.  It does not matter if you look suspicious or not; we will stop you, interrogate you, and antagonize you. If you become fidgety or belligerent, we will brutalize you.

We will infiltrate all of your organizations with Black operatives until they implode to nonexistence.

We want you to be devoid of self-preservation, self-respect – and self-pride. We expect you to be docile like chained dogs.  Anything that does not meet complete subjugation and compliance will be met with violence.

We work together as a team, directly and indirectly; we are ubiquitous.

We are professors at your colleges and universities.  We are managers at your workplace.   We are the CEOs at your corporations.  We are the pimp-preachers at your churches.  We are owners and executives of the major-professional-sports teams in your cities.  We are your politicians.  We are the unseen lens.  We are an institution; call it a conglomerate of endless entities.  We are everywhere, for we are a system of white dominance – and white supremacy.

License To Kill

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Once again, another unarmed Black man has been brutally murdered by a white police officer.

Video shows the savagery of this cop, shooting 8 times (striking the victim 5 times in the back) as he runs away.

Video shows after the victim is handcuffed while faced down, the savage cop jogs back – and retrieves – his Taser and walks and plants the Taser next to the victim’s body.  The truth comes to life after the officer fabricated police reports with the usual narrative: he was attacked; he felt threatened as the victim tried to grab his Taser; thus, he responded with gunshots.

Despite the clear video-evidence of what transpired, racists online are supporting this officer and placing blame on the victim, stating he caused his own death by running away and other ridiculous excuses.  More disturbing, money is being raised via crowd-funding Web sites in support of this brute – and some have the audacity to argue that racism should not be brought up, for racial disparities do not exist.

Black men are the most hated, antagonized, and brutalized people in the U.S. There is a deep-rooted hatred for Blacks and that hatred is being executed with ruthless murders through cops, all of whom are given the license to kill without any repercussion or prosecution.

Today’s Black Men

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Today’s Black men are disturbedThere used to be a time where Black men exude manly characters and carried a faculty of masculinity.  Those days are beyond capturing.

Black men today are wearing tight pants and calling it fashion, while purposely flaunting their oversized name-brand belt buckle to show how much money they’ve spent.

Black men are wearing dress-like and skirt-like clothing and calling it stylish, because it was seen at a Paris runway fashion show and subsequently on a rapper.

Black men are carrying around purses, because society has coined the term “murse” (i.e., man-purse), which tells a man that it is okay to be effeminate.  Leggings, designed for women, are now called “meggings,” designed and worn by men. 

Black men are performing salacious dance moves that should only be reserved for women

The Black man has even gone so far as to tamper with his eyebrows, by carving those two silly bare lines on each eyebrow.

More disturbing, Black men are now flaunting tongue rings.  The behaviors that were exclusively channeled through women are now being channeled through men.

The Black man has been psychologically castrated, thanks to Black celebrities who are stringed along by white supremacy to contaminate the young minds – not to mention Hollywood: an industry that has done a masterful job with the emasculation of Black males through cinema and television.

Sadly, the Black man has lost his ways, his manhood, and self-identity.

Obama’s Blackness: Illuminating differences between African-Americans and Blacks in the U.S.

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[December 24, 2007]

Obama’s campaign for presidency has caused an uproar within Black society in reference to his blackness and if he’s “black enough,” causing the discussion regarding the differences between African Americans and other Blacks in the United States to reach a level like never before.

For decades, the terms African American and Black have been naturally used interchangeably, side by side, and one of the same – basically as synonyms.  Instinctually, we all are guilty of using the terms interchangeably because society has labeled all Blacks African American.  But are they really the same?

No, as stated by many Black scholars and others, claiming that there is a difference and the terms stand alone.

In the words of author/journalist Gary Younge, in his “Is Barack Obama black enough?” article in March 2007, he explains the differences:

“African-American, a term which entered regular usage in the late 80s, refers to a particular ethnic experience of black Americans of African descent. Black refers simply to Americans of African descent, which includes black immigrants from the Caribbean, Africa and Latin and South America. All African-Americans are black; but not all black Americans are African-American.”

Confused?  In clarity, by this definition, African American is designated to those who descended from West African slaves, meaning those who were brought to the U.S. when slavery was legalized, for they had a particular ethnic experience that other Blacks (like Obama) did not have.

Indeed, Younge’s distinction, which is shared by many, makes a lot of sense and has truth to it, but will be challenged in the latter.

Herein, for better clarification, I will use the terms African American, Black American, Black immigrant as follows:  African American, meaning those native-blacks of West African slaves; Black Americans, meaning those who were born and raised in the U.S., but of West Indian (Caribbean) ancestry and elsewhere in the African diaspora; and Black immigrants, meaning those born in the Caribbean (or any other land) and migrated to the U.S. to obtain citizenship.

Clearly, some African Americans are bothered by the loose usage of the term – African American – because it was only intended for a few due to a specific ethnic experience unrelated to other Blacks.

Professor Chude-Sokei discusses the disparities in his article, “Redefining Black” in February 2007, in conjunction with his argument that Obama is not supported by Black leaders because he is not a real African American – but simply Black American.  In other words, he is an outsider looking in, similar to Black immigrants.

He indirectly argues that Black leaders are afraid to trust Black immigrants, because their views differ (they don’t fight for what they do) greatly from that of African Americans, which causes a separation between Black natives and Black immigrants.  There is no argument with this belief because people do hold different views and rightfully so.  Just because native-born Blacks believe strongly in a position and fight for many causes, it doesn’t mean that Black immigrants have to share those same beliefs.  People are independent thinkers, at least some are.  They don’t have to bow down to demagogues – politicians/community leaders in general – who claim to be serving the people while simultaneously filling their pockets with money.

To further his position of the differences and untrustworthiness, Chude-Sokei cites a prominent Black figure:

“People identified former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s Jamaican ancestry as the quality that made his blackness different.  When in the mid-1990s it seemed possible that he would run for president, the pride of the Caribbean immigrant community was nearly palpable.  He emboldened Caribbean immigrants to resist African American pressures to erase their own cultural and historical distinctiveness.”

Is his Jamaican ancestry (note that he was born in the U.S.) really a problem which puts his blackness in question or his many accomplishments, especially politically?  The latter is clearly obvious.  If Powell had no Jamaican heritage, native Blacks would still consider him not black enough because he is a powerful figure, who is approved by many whites – and have different views.  In regard to the claim that he empowered Caribbean immigrants to preserve their culture, is that problematic?  Why should people abandon their cultural uniqueness and conform to another?  It just doesn’t make sense and renders nonsense.  Their job is to assimilate to a new environment while keeping their cultural norms.

Like Obama, some native Blacks view Powell as an outsider – even though he was born in the U.S., because he served for quite sometime (2001-05) in the Bush Administration, embraced his Jamaican ancestry, and associated with whites.  Outrageously, some even called him white when he worked alongside Bush and some still do.

Chude-Sokei states other distinctions:

“A good proportion of immigrants tend to be better educated than African Americans, don’t have the “chip” of racial resentment on their shoulder and exhibit the classic immigrant optimism about assimilation into the mainstream culture.”

Black immigrants may not have racial resentment when arriving to the U.S, but it doesn’t mean that they will be ignorant of how white America will depict and treat them because of their skin color.  In fact, some quickly gain resentment toward both African Americans and whites.  Why? Because they are looked upon as inferiors and teased because they are dressed differently and talk differently; some are even called “boat-people” or “boats” – meaning those whose journey to a new land was via boat. There is not one Black person that has not witnessed the abuse and filthy name-calling of a Black person from the islands and/or Africa on a middle school and high school campus from other Blacks.  The black-on-black hatred happens constantly.

Regarding immigrant optimism about assimilation, it would make all the sense for a person who comes to a new country to demonstrate such optimism because that’s the only way he or she will survive.  It would be foolish and a disservice to come to a new country and not try to adapt to new customs and the ways of living.  America is dubbed the land of opportunity for a reason, which explains why Black immigrants come to the U.S.  They want a better life and want advancement in their lives, not all but majority.

With the large amount of Black immigrants and those who continue to arrive, some African Americans feel as if they are given more significance and opportunities, especially in higher education as Chude-Sokei alludes to:  

“…a shifting academic terrain in which traditional black studies are threatened by increasingly popular courses and programs that have a diaspora or Africana slant and do not put African American history or experiences center stage.”

Yes, this may be true, but to blame immigrants for the number of other black courses that “threatens” and don’t prioritize on African American history is absurd.  Traditional black studies at Universities may be threatened because African Americans themselves don’t feel the need to take such courses because it will not advance their career goals.  Black students, as a whole, usually take such courses as electives to fill a void in their credits.

Some African Americans fail to realize that administrators may feel the need to keep the Black Studies Departments active by adding a few black courses with an African twist, because they view all Blacks as one for having African descendants.

This thinking troubles many including author Debra Dickerson who stated the following in her 2007 “Colorblind” article:

“Lumping us all together … erases the significance of slavery …”

Erases the significance of slavery?  White America has been doing that for decades.  In fact, it’s the educational system that tries to erase and lessen the significance of slavery because it’s not fully discussed or given priority in high school history classes.  The only time Black history is taken seriously in school is in February, Black History month.  In addition, slavery will never be forgotten; it was a major operation that was practiced nefariously, not only in the U.S. but worldwide which yielded persecutions and a plethora of murders.  Events of such magnitude can never be erased.  It is etched in U.S. History, so the “lumping together ” argument is questionable.

In general, Blacks have been lumped together by America since 1977.  But in 1997, the term for Blacks (African American or Black) was officially revised and categorized as follows:  A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.  Most Federal offices share similar definition, from the United States Census Bureau to the U.S. Department of Justice Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The one-drop rule was also practiced, meaning if a person had a single drop of “black blood,” he or she was considered Black/African American – regardless of their biracial and multiracial complexities.

This issue of the term African American makes great conversation, but when analyzed from a broader perspective, it’s trivial.  It’s crystal clear that all Blacks are not the same and did not share the same histories, for Blacks come from different backgrounds. Yes, African Americans had a particular ethnic experience that other Blacks did not experience.  Thus, native-born Blacks are different from those of the Caribbean, Africa, and elsewhere.  But is it not possible for a native-born Black to share similar lineage with a Caribbean Black, and connected by West African slaves?  Or is that not possible?  If that is so hard to believe by some, then understand the obvious:  all Blacks share one commonality – African ancestry.

If people want to be so technical and critical of what “authentic” African American is, I’ll take it a bit further and claim that no one is African American unless he or she was born in Africa.  You do not have the right to claim you are an African unless you are a native of Africa.  What you can argue is your African heritage because we are all extractions of Africa, one way or another.  We all share African descendants in some way, African Americans, Black Americans, and so forth.

In reality, those people who can claim to be Africans are natives like NBA stars Dikembe Mutombo and Hakeem Olajuwon (retired), supermodels Liya Kebede and Alek Wek, just to name a few.  Interestingly, they could also argue that African American in the U.S. are simply Black, similar to how some African Americans argue that Black immigrants are just Black.  Wouldn’t that be intriguing?

Because Africa refers to a continent (while some wrongly call it a country), natives of Africa rarely use the term African American, but use their country of origin to describe themselves, including some Black immigrants.  For example, Dikembe Mutombo, born in Congo, is Congolese-American; Hakeem Olajuwon, born in Nigeria, is Nigerian-American.  People of their likeness would have more claim of the term because they were actually born in Africa.

This is what makes the argument of the term rather strange because a case can also be made that no one is really African American unless he or she was born in Africa.

Surprisingly, some African Americans have even argued that a mixed person is not really Black, although they too descended from West African slaves, which presents a paradox and confusion of the term itself.  What these people don’t realize is that no one is 100% Black and all Blacks have a mixture in their line.  It may not show on the outside, but it shows in the DNA.

In fact, studies in genealogy have shown that majority of Black people have African ancestry along with European ancestry (and perhaps other origins), meaning that we all have some white in our gene from far down the line in our lineage.

In all, there is no denying the history of African Americans who are descendants of West African slaves.  Still, it does not give anyone exclusiveness to the term because it can also be claimed by a native-born Black of an African country who migrated to the United States.  Therefore, for people to fight and become agitated for a term that is used to include all Blacks in the U.S. is beyond comprehension.  Defenders of the term claim that it was never intended for all Blacks but solely for those of a particular experience, which is clearly understood.

However, the term African American is really a broader term for all Blacks, since all Blacks have African connection. The terms African American and Black may not be synonyms, but they are related.

Like stated earlier, we all share one commonality – African ancestry – because the continent of Africa serves as a geographic marker of origin for all BLACKS, whether one is of mixed race like Obama, or come from the Caribbean, or elsewhere.

Movie Review: Speed-Dating (2010)

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Speed-Dating CoverWritten and directed by Joseph A. Elmore Jr., the romantic-comedy Speed-Dating centers around three friends – Too Cool (Wesley Jonathan), Dog (Chico Benymon), and  Beaver (Leonard Robinson) – who concoct a speed-dating event to meet as many women as possible. In truth, this speed-dating event is more of a ploy, because its main objective is to sweet talk each woman and get her into bed for sex.  The premise sounds interesting; unfortunately, Speed-Dating hits many speed bumps throughout with overacting, weak storyline, boredom, and dry comedy, leading to the inevitable – a crash.

The three friends/roommates are described as follows:  Too Cool, a millionaire playboy who’s just not that into you”; Dog, a freeloading friend who favors “the R-Kelly tapes”; Beaver, a culinary enthusiast who is suspected to be a “man-tickler?”  Both Too Cool and Dog suspect Beaver’s homosexuality and pester him in various scenes, but he strongly denies being gay (but questions himself).  His sexuality is tested in two scenes: the gay club and the house party.

(Note: Spoilers will be revealed, mainly the speed-dating happenings with the various women they meet.)

The movie begins with the three roommates on a track field in sprinting position.  As they sprint, the scene cuts to a speeding car and shows each character engaging in two activities: posting flyers and talking to women.  The following scene focuses on Too Cool who is accompanied in his bedroom by a fake-accent-speaking white woman in lingerie named Frenchita (Mary Alexander Stiefvater).  She claims to be his girlfriend, but Too Cool denies any relationship and claims she is only a sex partner and forcefully removes her from his house. While he argues with her regarding their relationship, Dog and Beaver are playing Halo on the Xbox 360 while simultaneously talking about their failing-club venture.  The game suddenly stops because Dog accuses Beaver of cheating and calls him gay, which precipitates a silly play-fighting scene that supports Dog’s suspension of Beaver’s sexuality via his mannerisms.

Too Cool finally gets Frenchita outside and tells her to never come back again.  She responds with anger by minimizing his manhood and stating she will be back to “watch [his] heart break into a million little pieces.”

This entire opening presents the tone that the movie will carry throughout, and it’s not a pleasant one.  The segments and spoken lines that are supposed to garner laughs fail badly, for they are overdramatized; the Disney-sounding instrumental, supporting the fight scene and Too Cool’s attempt at rebuffing his little manhood, also does not help and sounds cheesy.

In the following segment, the story introduces Inspector Green (Chris Elliot) who is literally blue in the face; he looks sluggish, odoriferous, walks in a clumsy manner, and looks like an otherworldly creature.  Not only is this character a paradox, but he is not funny; his acting is also horrendously bad.

In no time, week one of the speed-dating scam arrives and the three friends admire the dozens of women with drooling smiles – and converse about their prior scams to sleep with women.  Dog makes quick progress by talking nasty to one girl and gets a kiss.  Beaver appears unsuccessful and looks bored with the ladies and is seen standing near the bar.  Too Cool meets a beautiful woman named Kelly (Tanisha Lynn) in a tight-fitting Lycra dress and starts to break her down through sweet talk and his charms. Kelly has a gold-digging mentality but appears very strong, not to mention a woman who would reject a one-night stand.  Unfortunately for the curvaceous beauty, her strong personality is overpowered by Too Cool’s charms as she is seen leaving his bedroom and taking the Walk of Shame.

Unlike the first week of the speed-dating scam which garners dry comedy, week two presents a bundle of laughs through Kiki (Camille Mana) while meeting Too Cool.  Her entire scene garners laughter from start to end; her forgetfulness at the bar and the sex scene present the first real sense of true humor and does not seem forced.  Her lines are funny and flow naturally and her character does an amazing job.

The real comedy continues when Beaver meets an attractive Latina named Geraldine (Natalia Guslistaya) who speaks violently blunt regarding what she wants in a man and how she will manhandle him if he decides to cheat on her. Not only does she have a scary sharp-tongue, but she also displays an overpowering personality.  Surprisingly, he takes her to his home but, unsurprisingly, he can not handle her rough foreplay.  Thus, she tries to stimulate him with a slap to the face and forceful kisses and tells him “shut up” as he tries to slow her down by speaking.  She then throws him on the bed and jumps on him.  However, her attempts to stimulate him are unsuccessful as he cries, whines, and questions her the entire time.

Dog gets himself in a precarious situation when he introduces himself to Sage (Karen Yelverton), a woman with a gruff laugh and a deep voice; her voice gives it away and one thing comes in to mind:  her appearance is misleading. Dog ignores the clear signs of her true identity and continues chatting her up, because his ultimate goal is sex.  The ensuing scene shows both he and Sage tousling on a bed with joy.  Like the Latina, she is rough in the bedroom, but it’s a different kind of roughness that reduces Dog’s joy into a loud and funny scream when realizing they both share the same external organ.

As Dog and Beaver fail to score with the women they meet through their speed-dating scheme, the ultimate player Too Cool finds himself sexually pleasured constantly.  His latest victim presents herself as an easygoing woman, but she is not the usual.  However, her condition does not deter him from getting into her panty.

As the speed-dating game comes to an end, co-stars Danielle (Mekita Faiye) and Elizabeth (Vanessa Simmons) are introduced and remain constant until the film ends.   Danielle settles with Dog and Too Cool settles with Elizabeth throughout the film.  When Dog first meets Elizabeth, her beauty fittingly leaves him tongue-tied with his mouth wide open.  She doesn’t believe he can be faithful and knows his true motives, so she questions him: “You wanna sleep with me?”  Dog answers “yes,” but tells Elizabeth that she is not the type of woman that he would mistreat.  With a smile, she asks him a final question:  “Would you give up sex for God?”  An answer is not given, because the camera pans to Beaver, but his answer becomes clear later in the film when he visits her church, listening to a silly pastor’s self-glorifying sermon, which is an attempt at comedy that fails miserably.

Speaking of Beaver, he meets the hyper-lively Emily (Gavin Turek) who is enthralled by compliments, prompting her to deliver a hilarious scene filled with strange noises as she squeaks with happiness.  She completely leaves him dumbstruck and confused.  This memorable scene represents one of the best moments in the movie.

Meanwhile, Too Cool whose eyes are fixated on Danielle the entire night finally meets her.  She knows his womanizing ways and intentions to get her into bed through the gossip of other women.  Despite knowing this, she, like the prior women, stupidly falls victim to his scheme.  While standing outside of his house, she has ample time to make a decisive decision as her conscious tells her it’s a “bad idea” and not the right thing to do, but her hormones force her to give up her body to him.  After having sex, Too Cool becomes a change man when he sees stars (simultaneously shown with the support of a holy music)?

This scene becomes more ridiculous when it is revealed toward the end that her meeting with Too Cool at the final speed-dating event was not by chance but actually via a ploy, devised by her friend Frenchita.  What type of woman would sleep with her friend’s ex-boyfriend, knowing that she was only a device used to break the heart of an ex-lover?

For some odd reason, Too Cool is infatuated with Danielle but does not want to accept his feelings, so he tries to erase her from his memory by going to a club in search of women. He brings home a striking Asian woman named Jasmine (Natasha Yi), but he cannot muster his libido to have sex with her. He then meets the gorgeous Christine (Esther Baxter) who plays the role of a dominatrix; nothing happens due to the interference of a man who rushes into the bedroom holding a shotgun, causing Too Cool (in a diaper) to make his escape through a window.  With the exception of eye-catching Christine, this entire scene is stupid and unfunny.

The strangeness continues as Too Cool claims he hates Danielle for ruining his sex life; however, he makes her “the one” and their relationship blossoms as they spend more time together.  They go out sprinting on track field; she invites him to her home and shows him her artwork; he literally falls for her; they cuddle and kiss under the bed sheets, and have a great time.  Out of nowhere, he plans a trip to Hawaii for them both.  Frenchita overhears his conversation and renders a “what?” outburst.  During this trip, the audience witnesses the first sign of a subdued playboy as he shares his upbringing with Danielle.  This segment reveals that his wealth comes from his Aunt B’s former occupation as a game designer.  Moreover, it reveals his biological mother named Gayle (Holly Robinson Peete) who gave him up as a kid.  He yearns to see her and does so, only to learn that she is married and has two kids.

The scene with Gayle leaves a major void in the story, because it goes nowhere.  Being in the movie for about four minutes at most, the Gayle character is pointless and fails to display any connection to her son.  For example, when Too Cool enters her home, she looks shocked, frozen, afraid to speak, sad, and breaks down in tears when he leaves.  She acts as if she does not recognize him, but why?  Why isn’t her back-story presented, allowing the viewers to see and understand the reasoning behind her decision to give up her son? Only the director knows.

After giving him up and not seeing him for years, she does not even approach him.  Approaching him with a hug or some kind of affection would have been fitting, but the character shows no physical interaction.  Her presence shows nothing but aloofness.  She does, however, mail him a letter stating that she told her family the truth and explains her sorrow for giving him up.  Still, it does not make up for her story, because it’s empty and unknown, rendering her character senseless.

While Too Cool moves on with his life, he and Danielle celebrate their love for one another via dinner at a restaurant, which is first interrupted by Danielle’s ex-boyfriend Kenneth (Chingy) and later by Too Cool’s ex-girlfriend Frenchita and her friend Samantha.  Frenchita reveals to him that Danielle is her friend and the entire meeting at the club was a setup to punish him.  In essence, she uses Danielle to get back at Too Cool as she promised she would do in the opening of the film:  “I’m gonna watch your heart break into a million little pieces” when [you] fall in love.  Her promise materializes as Too Cool looks at Danielle with pure sadness.

Does the director expect viewers to feel sorry for Too Cool after manipulating and using women only as his sex object majority of the film?  If that is what he intended when writing the script, it does not work because it is not believable.  His character as a playboy does not deserve sympathy for his sorrow from a deception by one woman, considering the fact that he has deceived many women.  Had the director made the story of his mother the focal point of his sadness (by giving her an actual story), it would have been more interesting and believable, unlike his sadness via Danielle.

Nonetheless, he leaves Danielle but his heart leads him back to her at the end.

Speed-Dating has an interesting premise and could have worked; however, it falls flat because some of the plots were not strong enough, convoluted, and unnecessary to the overall story.  The scenes involving Inspector Green, the dancing routine by the cooks, the conversation that wheelchair-bound Don has with Too Cool in the club, the gay-dancing routine with Beaver, the foul-speaking and blasphemous pastor in the church are a few examples of worthless scenes that add nothing to the story.

These scenes are obviously in the movie to make people laugh, but the overall comedy is simply dry, weak, and presents many unfunny scenes, thanks to the horrendously fatuous one-liners and dialogues.  However, to claim that this film did not have several funny scenes would be untrue, for there are some scenes that showcase humor remarkably (mainly the speed-dating events via the women).  Not only are the jokes and useless scenes problematic, but the acting is as well; at best, it is mediocre at and downright awful by some.

All in all, there are many excellent romantic comedies released independently by Black directors; two notables are All About You and Hav Plenty.  Unfortunately, Joseph A. Elmore Jr.’s Speed-Dating does not represent one of them.  On a scale of 1 to 10, this movie receives a woeful 2.
**
December 25, 2011