Celebrity artists who become famous as teenagers have to navigate that tricky stage when they emerge from those teenage years and assert themselves as adults to their adoring fans. There have been many successful transitions from Donny Osmond to Michael Jackson to Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. But there are also those who have disappeared into oblivion, never to be heard again. As I said, there is no guarantee that the fans will stick with the celebrity once they become adults so the product that the artist releases is very important. For Justin Bieber, that means an album where he can show his adult chops and say bye bye to his “Baby” days. He has to show that he matured musically from My World to My World 2.0 to Believe (where he was still a teenager) to this album Purpose (when he turned 21). Based on the fans’, the critics’ and the Recording Academy’s response – the answer has been a resounding yes, with Bieber getting a coveted Album of the Year nomination for this work. Although he snubbed the ceremony, for me, it is still a big deal that the Recording Academy voters heard what we all heard – a strong album with great songs. Not all critics though agree and have made some snide comments about Justin’s opus, but for me – this album ranked as one of the best in 2015 – and one of my most favorite albums of all time!
Ciara is really living every black grandmother’s dream for their granddaughter. She stopped messing around with these saggy pants thugs with no manners and got herself a good Christian athlete who’s worth hundreds of millions of dollars and a beautiful family. She had boyfriends named 50 Cent and Lil’ Bow Wow and now she got a good man named Russell. If you’ve ever been to an AME church, you would know that niggas named Russell are always good men who can change a tire. But enough with this metaphor. Ciara has come a long way from that rumor she had a penis. Seriously, we based that rumor off like 3 low quality photos in 2005, we had no twitter, no Facebook, no group chats, how did that shit get so popular? Anyway, Ciara’s growth as a woman (pun intended) has been inspiring to many as she has truly persevered to find her happiness. She’s legitimately lived a Tyler Movie plot, from being betrayed by the shady dark-skinned baby father to being saved by the holy, quiet light skinned man looking for a wife. The craziest part about Ciara’s journey is that what’s often forgotten about her is that she’s a singer. Seriously People love talking about Ciara until it’s time to talk about her music. Her personal life means more to people than “1, 2 Step”, “Ride” or “Goodies” ever did. No matter how interesting her personal life is, her music is the reason we were introduced to her so that’s the basis of her identity. Most people forget that. Luckily for y’all, I didn’t forget. Ciara dropped a new album and I took the time out to listen to it. So, here’s my review of “Beauty Marks”.
When I was in my Senior Year of High School, Lupe Fiasco was one of my favorite rappers. He was really lyrical, vulnerable and nerdy as fuck. Everytime he rapped I sincerely felt like he was having a great time putting words together. I was a fan of all his mixtapes as he put himself out there through his words. I’ve been a fan of Lupe since mixtapes reigned supreme and Limewire was king. I remember downloading Fahrenheit 1/15 Part II: Revenge of the Nerds track by track right next to Bootytalk 17. He spoke to me with his nerdy references and intricate storylines that stretched over 20+ songs. I thought he was going to be the king of rap. I sincerely believed this. Unfortunately, popular music has strayed away from lyricism and for a short while Lupe was a man without a country. Lupe Fiasco is one of the most lyrical rappers in the game and 9 times out of 10 he is the smartest guy in the room. Unfortunately, that combination also makes you the most pretentious person in the room 9 times out of 10. I won’t lie, there’s been multiple times I’ve rolled my eyes reading something Lupe has said. You know a rapper annoys people when he was known for being annoying BEFORE social media. Seriously, Lupe was online HipHop forum annoying. He reminds me of me if I had a 4.0 GPA and didn’t take 5 years to graduate high school. He’s smart, he knows it, and god dammit he wants you to stop being an idiot. Only problem is, not a lot of people want to be preached to and told how Obama was a terrorist. Especially if you say this on Fox News like Lupe did. I think his saving grace is that he is and was really good at making music, plus he will straight up fight you and you always gotta respect that. However, watching Lupe taught me a very important life lesson no matter how smart you are, if people don’t want to hear you, things don’t work out the way you think they will. But luckily a truly talented person never stays down too long and now Lupe has given us a new album: Drogas Wave
I think that every public figure strives to have a legacy. We all want to be remembered and known for what we put into the world. This makes me think though, what defines a legacy? Is it the highs? Is it the lows? Is it the combination of the two? Or is it simply public perception? For me it’s hard to think about a Legacy because I’m so early in my pursuits. Also I don’t really have shit, if you ask me for credits before a comedy show I will give you a shrug and a “say whatever’s in your heart” every single time. But I digress, rappers don’t age well and a majority of them don’t get to have a legacy. Their whole careers get dwindled down to one song on the radio show and if they’re lucky, a soundbite in a commercial for a white product that features a hit song they had 10 years ago. The ones that are lucky enough to have a full career are often scrutinized heavily by skeptics (aka haters) like myself. Lil Wayne is one of those artists. At one point he was the greatest rapper alive. He was inescapable, he was inevitable. He was like Thanos with a lean addiction. Every beat belonged to him and he could give someone a hit by singing a hook...AND HE COULDN’T EVEN SING. His reign seemed to last forever until it became clear that a new King/Queen was to replace him. While those who followed were influenced by him, the community at large began to forget about Wayne’s prior greatness. Unfortunately, this wasn’t helped by a gun charge that landed him in jail and the label disputes that caused his album to be pushed back for years. Things weren’t looking good for Wayne, his music wasn’t popping, his dreads started falling apart, his light was dimming like one of the forgotten skeletons in Coco. Luckily for us, Tha Carter 5 has finally been released. Tha Carter 5 is a representation of Lil Wayne’s legacy. It took us years to finally get to this place. Birdman held onto it like it was money he owes to Mannie Fresh; I honestly thought we’d never hear it. But by some miracle it’s here. Let’s get to it.
When I discovered The Struts on YouTube I did a double take. Not only was the singer Luke Spiller dressed, moving, and sounding like a young Freddie Mercury the song had a distinctly Queen vibe. That song was, “Could Have Been Me”. From that single I found my way to “Kiss This”, and my absolute favorite, “Put Your Money on Me”. I followed the band, fascinated with this vocalist who could have been Freddie Mercury and Joan Jett’s love child. I knew that The Struts were a fresh and edgy version of a “boy band” in some ways, and in others, they came across as seasoned artists doing their own thing. This was approximately 2015, and I was still late to the party, The Struts had already been together for about six years and had one full-length album out titled, Everybody Wants. When I found out they were going to release another album I was excited for them, and couldn’t wait to get it. Released in 2018, Young & Dangerous seemed to be a hit. All kinds of people who had never heard of the band were suddenly all about Mr. Spiller and his band mates. There’s nothing better than someone saying, “Oh you’ve got to hear this new song!” and being able to reply with, “Yeah, I heard it about four years ago, it’s on my playlist along with everything else by them.”