Karrine and Lil Wayne

Dear Karrine Steffans,

I ride for you. I really do. Most people have no idea why. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Dr. Ebony Utley, a writer and an associate professor of communication at California State University Long Beach. I write and teach about popular culture and relationships. When Confessions of a Video Vixen dropped, I assigned it to my hip hop class and made all my students purchase it.

Confessions was important because it forced readers to contextualize a vixen’s life. After my students exhausted all the different ways they could call you a ho, I pushed them to move past their judgments and critique gendered double standards about sexuality. I demanded that they imagine how it would change them if they were sexually assaulted, abused, and abandoned as a young girl. I encouraged them to consider the conditions that lead to escapism through sex, drugs, alcohol, and hip hop fantasies. Your book was a perfect opportunity to discuss how and why women make choices in a man’s world. I asked them to respect the chutzpah of a woman not that much older than they were who put it all out there—haters be damned.

When it came time to build my brand, I modeled it after yours. Your early websites were my favorites. I learned form you that pink is a power color. You taught me how to be sexy and smart. I subscribe to the newsletter, buy the books, read the damn blog. In fact, The Vixen Manual is kinda like an Our Bodies, Ourselves for the hip hop generation. Okay, that’s an overstatement, but the pictures were a nice touch.

Your newest book How to Make Love to A Martian was a birthday gift to myself and it continues your prosex, prochoice advocacy. It was a brave decision to share your abortion story. It was also an important decision in a world where women’s rights to choose are being systematically stripped away.

Baby News: Fuck!

Four Weeks

And while Martian is a page-tuner, I’ve got to draw a line. The “love” that you and Lil Wayne have is dangerous. I know you have a niche. I know you have a core audience with expectations. I know you need to make that money, but I can’t ride for you and let other people think that your depiction of love is okay with me. Now, I generally don’t make a habit of telling people they love wrong. I’ve been flying around the country collecting definitions of love from women and children for my research, and I know there are as many definitions as there are people.

For my current project Shades of Infidelity, I’m interviewing women about their experiences with infidelity, and I’ve asked all of them to define love. I’ve learned so much about life and love that this isn’t me passing judgment on your open relationship with Lil Wayne. This is me telling you that a relationship that lacks mutual trust, respect, and honest communication isn’t a healthy love. Here come the spoilers. You define love as “the spirit of caring to the maximum level of shared connection.” Fine. Then you describe love with Wayne:

“Wayne didn’t want to know everything or anything at all, except that I loved him.”

“Wayne was loving me the way he wanted to love me, but I was loving him the way he needed to be loved.”

“He was a jealous and possessive man when it came to the women he loved. He never wanted to hear about other men. Ever. Even though all this women had no choice but to hear about all his other women and accept it.”

All bad, Karrine. Per your own definition, you’re coming up short. Is this what the maximum level of connection looks like? More importantly is this what the maximum level of connection looks like?

I know you’re both working and these representations are part of your jobs. I’m certain they fail to accurately reflect the extent of your relationship, but for all the babygirls that are fans of yours, I need them to know that:

  • When you can’t talk to your partner about that time he hurt your feelings when he flew you across the country, holed you up in a hotel, and never showed up to meet you, it’s not okay
  • Sleeping with his friend just to make him jealous instead of telling him that his getting everybody pregnant and you hearing about it on the street was hurtful, is not ideal.
  • Being in a relationship where there is no reciprocity is not a healthy relationship.

If you were just sexing Wayne for pleasure, that would be fine (although I’m not entirely sure what you see in him), but to call what you describe in Martian as love is not fine. Not. At. All.

Raw

I agree. Sometimes a man and a woman have an understanding that even they don’t understand. I have been there. But this is not that. There’s no understanding. He hurts your feelings. You swallow them. You try to move on. Love relationships require communication to achieve that understanding and that maximum level of connection. I need to communicate to you that you deserve better. You’ve been hurt. A lot. But don’t give up on yourself. Learn from your mistakes. Olivia Pope is wrong (but that’s another post). Love is not supposed to hurt more than it heals you. Love yourself first. Tell yourself the truth about this unhealthy relationship. If you can agree not to glamorize the pain anymore, I’ll agree to keep riding for you. Can you and I share that understanding?

Dr. Ebony Utley
The Woman with Ideas
theutleyexperience.com

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I was going to marry the mother of my daughter.

I was working a regular nine to five.

I had just got promoted to supervisor and everything.

I came home early one day and there she was, smashing the homie.

The whole time I was fucking dude up, she was saying

“you’re always working!”,

“you’re never home!”

While I was choking old dude I kept thinking “that bitch just didn’t love me!”

I was hurting him, because it was hurting me.

When I was in county jail, she kept visiting me saying “I’m sorry”, this that and the third.

She even told me how much she really needed me.

When I got out I went over to her house and there she was,

pregnant by this other dude and he was kicking her ass and shit.

It almost made the GPS bracket worth wearing.

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Penis Envy

You haven’t wondered what it would be like if you had one?

You have never marveled at how fast it grows?

You never thought about being wrapped in heat, thrust deep?

You would wonder what length it would be if you had one

and if that’s the spot,

You would know why you have to act confident,

even when you’ve undershot.

You would wonder why it hangs a little to the left

and why penetration at odd times produces a bass clef.

You would silently question why you have to put it away

and why it wants to; at times when you can’t play.

You would know why it needs someone else’s touch

and be left thinking why such a big part of you, really isn’t all that much.

I bet you would wonder where to put it next

and, you would wonder if that last stoke was your best.

You would wonder why cold water make it shrink

and, why it always seems to know exactly what you think.

You would know that in the cold, its partners pull in tight

and you would wonder why you can’t do any damage,

even when you using all your might.

And why sometimes you have to walk with a limp

and, you would know the reasons you just can’t fuck with the tip.

And just when you think enough has been said

You will sit back and just marvel at the shaft or maybe the head.

You don’t have to admit it,

but you had to wondered if a moaning, groaning,

heart beating, blood surging,

skin stretching, teeth gritting,

hand gripping, muscle tightening,

knee weakening, body jerking,

rock hard, throbbing

climax could even come close to a woman’s multiple orgasm?

 

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Why I Am Gay

My mother and father used to argue and fight a lot, so one day he left us.

My mother got so caught up chasing after

no good,

no account negroes

that she completely forgot about me.

I grew up really wanting her love,

wanting her to love me.

I never got it.

I remember it started long before freeze-tag. I always like to  put on

my mothers shoes.

You remember the Road Runner Show, the one with Wile. E. Coyote–

well that’s all I was thinking about.

I wasn’t even thinking about “hide-n-go-get-it”,

when these so-called men started touching on me.

The whole time they were doing these things to me they were telling

me that it was love,

that it was right.

“If you don’t do it, I’m ah tell your mother.”

I learned and was told shit that I shouldn’t have known or done until

I was grown.

I tried to tell some family members, but they didn’t want to talk about it.

It was like I deserved it,

like I asked for it.

So I grew up afraid.

I hit puberty and my feelings of love for my mother turned sexual.

And all of a sudden

I was attracted to her,

her,

and her,

but anger is what made me perpetuate it.

Somewhere along the line a part of me liked the feelings the sex brought.

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It has to be a spirit that makes you beat your children for no good damn reason.

A spirit that makes you tell them to keep their legs closed,

while you keep yours open.

A sick ass spirit that makes you tell your children that they ain’t going to be nothing.

A spirit that makes you call them,

nigga,

a coon,

a monkey

and a ho.

A spirit that makes you yell be a man at your son,

when you ain’t being one.

It’s probably the same spirit that makes you mad when a white person

says the exact same things you’ve been saying.

Instead of giving a child love,

they get hugged by these spirits.

In these possessed houses all they talk about is the white woman this,

the white man that and there aren’t any white people in the house.

You never hear them saying the name of Martin Luther King Jr., Marshawn Evans,

Langston Hughes, Spike Lee, Phyllis Wheatley,

Bell Hooks, Percy Ellis Sutton,

Dr. Cornel West or  Muhammad Ali.

All they watch is black and racist movies until that is all they know.

How are you going to teach a child how to love,

when you don’t know how to.

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Oh how we love the cookie.

We love mini cookies even the big cookies.

Devouring handfuls of the make you fat cookies,

and those late night snack cookies.

We love the hard, the soft and the hot-to-the-touch cookie.

The regional, seasonal, “thank you very much” cookie.

And the cookies that cost,

Cookies you don’t touch, just floss.

We love the textured, smooth and over dressed cookies.

The prim, proper and “won’t settle for less” cookie.

The ice cream, strawberries and chocolate you add to the cookie to make it sing to our soul,

Just so you know, those are the cookies that we want to keep whole.

Paired cookies, shared cookies, multi-layered cookies.

Cookies you eat fast, cookies you eat slow.

The every-ready cookie for the grab and go.

The “make you hit the floor” cookie.

The “I just had some, but I still want some more” cookie.

The fluffy cookie, the “never get enough” cookie.

Sprinkled with sugar cookies

and the exotic spicy cookie that evoke.

The Rich cookies who don’t like cookies that are broke.

The “everyday” “around the way” cookie

The barely there cookie,

The cookie that gives as good as it gets.

The “love you down” cookie, the one you won’t forget.

The “hard to keep to yourself” cookie, eat them until there’s none left cookie.

The “no one knows you’re around” cookie.

You Only Live Once cookie that one comes with a kiss.

The “feel like I can do anything” cookie is pure bliss.

After a long day cookie, the “make all the pain go away” cookie.

The “sweet all by itself” cookie,

“I need a little help” cookie.

The “you can’t wait to get it” cookie.

The rare, hard to find, one of a kind cookie.

The make you “think twice” cookie,

The “ain’t nothing nice” cookie.

Black and White cookies.

Middle of the night cookies.

The “make you hurry home” cookie.

Cookies with a little milk, cookies with a side of guilt.

Cookies that come with their own sauce.

Yes, we love the cookie

and here we are reminiscing over all the cookies we’ve had, but lost.

MG Hardie

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Kanye West recently released his new video “Power” from his album ‘Dark Twisted Fantasy”. Some have called it a Video, others have called it Art, at 90 seconds long many are saying that they are waiting on the rest of it. In this video you see a huge gold chain, naked women, violence acts and various vices, but does it push boundaries, does it raise the bar, is the video sexist; as some have suggested. As always the public will search for meaning in the Marco Brambilla produced “Power”.  In this new video, or portrait if you will, Kanye is portrayed as “Damocles”, as the legendary sword hangs above is head.  The video is scattered with ancient and modern day visual representations of the many perils that come with Power. Filled with sharp light and dark visual contrast all the way down the the white and black individuals wielding swords to strike each other down. To fully understand this video, we need to take a look at Kanye West the artist. I didn’t call him a rapper, I said the Artist, but more on that later.

I was just wondering if the MTV staff and security didn’t see Kanye wandering around below the stage before hand

While we are on Mr. West, does anyone still care if Kanye took a mic from Taylor Swift? Especially since she is really not a country artist add to that the fact that MTV was trying to steal the country youth audience by giving her a “throw away” award, (MTV also threw away and award in 2011 to Tyler the Creator, likely due to Kanye not wanting his ex-girlfriend’s (Amber Rose) husband (Wiz Khalifa) to be on stage) Kanye the artist called MTV on the throw away award. President Barack Obama, rightly called Kanye a “jackass” for his actions that night. But then again the President went to an elementary school and told the youth there that they can’t all be the next Lil Wayne…Lil Wayne.  At a Hurricane Katrina telethon, Kanye West said “George Bush doesn’t care about black people”, while it is hard to argue with him on that, but he said it so matter-of-factly, so openly and in front of so many people that his comments from that night still haunt President George W. Bush. Kanye’s words haunted ex-President George W. Bush so much that in his memior “Decision Points” that moment is listed as the lowest of his presidency? Not the Hurricane Katrina response, not 9/11, not the Mission Accomplished statement, not the Vice President’s heart attack, not illegal wire taps, or a mis-guided wars, but Kanye West saying that you don’t care about Black People was your lowest point. When asked about Kanye West’s comments that night the ex-president said “I didn’t appreciate it then, I don’t appreciate it now.”  This is a testament to the power and affect that entertainers could have and use but so very often don’t. In a 4-year period Kanye effectively tied himself to two Presidents and a rising young country star, without rhyming a single lyric.

Factions from all sides have taken swipes at Kanye West ever since he released his debut album “The College Dropout” in 2004.  The Hip Hop community poked fun at Kanye’s “808 & Heartbreak” album. An album which was dedicated to emotions and the heat break of love, but isn’t that what music, dare I say Hip Hop needs? A black man rapping about power shows how hip hop is evolving. Kanye’s power breaks down the paradox of those in the industry that say he can only talk about the hood, what it’s like to be in jail and, what it’s like to get free government cheese.  Kanye isn’t supposed to be rapping about power and he definitely isn’t supposed to be sophisticated enough to use images of Renaissance artwork  to get his point across.

Was posing on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing a crown of thorns a bad idea?

Only if you don’t remember it.

Kanye has even went so far as to suggest that his race is a major factor in why he gets a lot of media flak and is overlooked for some awards, in the words of Kanye “Give a black man a chance…Maybe my skin’s not right”. Does Kanye say things that you don’t agree with? Does he speak ingrandiose term of himself? Does he really need to say “Black”, or “I’ve got the” in order for us to see and hear it?

Hip Hop today is not focused on the Art, but the production. So much so that even the average listener is conditioned to only be concerned with catchy phrases and the formulaic dance-ability of a song. Corporations are riding the music gravy train and squeezing every drop of money out of each stop. Does anyone care that Pop singers can’t sing, or that R & B has become a soulless mosh pit of rap and pop or that Hip Hop is often little more than bad lyrics and violent rhymes? There is no doubt that corporations are pushing explicit wording, overt sexuality and trying to front the genre with White Acceptable rappers. The fact is that Hip Hop has permeated our American lives. Politicians try to relate to our youth by rhyming lines, brushing imaginary dirt off their shoulders or by throwing out a rappers name. Does controversy sell? Does sex sell? They sure do, and when the media trots out people to point fingers at they sell even more.

What do you think?

Kanye’s  lack of humility is the main reason people will always find a reason to not like him, but people also do not like his politics, race or  his grammar, yet he does seem to enjoy his share of critics. When “Dark Twisted Fantasy” was released, many that live on the music industry’s outskirts mistakenly called it a comeback. Even the most respected critics quickly deride the intellectual, or message filled rap, while at time they same time speak in glowing terms of rappers with Dr. Seuss lyrics, or an imaginary violent acumen reminiscent of Al Capone. At the same time radio and television browbeat the populace with this subpar music until they like it. Unknown to many is that the best music every created will never be heard, except for a few select people.

By incorporating spoken word poetry and narration, rappers have made their products more accessible to “the mainstream”. Some rappers have adapted by embedding knowledge into their bars, a few have extended that to their videos. Here is where Kanye West comes into play, he has now branched off into Fine Art. How many times have you or your child went to a museum to appreciate the art? Art is not just sculpture, dance, music and paintings, it also includes wood and metal shop, and he cut that from schools too. Aside from questioning the subversive qualities of power, celebrity, sexuality decadence; what Kanye does is bring the Art to you on your television, powered by images and bass lines.

Jay Z did it in his  video “On to the Next One“, but he did that more so to make fun of the pettiness of people.

Lady GaGa tried it, albeit it in a less artistic fashion with “Telephone“, but that was only to spark controversy and solidify her brand.

These entertainers are creating their own kind of power

Showing that he is a true hip hop student, Kanye’s song nods to Snap’s 1990 hit “The Power”. The hook may not be quite as catchy as “I’ve got the power”, but Kanye’s “Power” shows the power, hope and promise of Hip Hop, especially when you study your craft. The song “Power”, aside from powerful social commentary, is addressed to his many haters. Everyone should seriously take the time and really listen to his lyrics in “Power”, especially the remix. In the remix Kanye West raps in Arabic, I wonder if 20% of Americans will believe that he is a Muslim, like they do President Barack Obama.  You can love Kanye’s vocal samples and instruments or not, he has been a lightening rod for the media and consumers alike and now he is trying to spark an interest in Art, how dare he. So while you are watching Kanye West, recognize that he is so out of touch that he is and has been trying to touch each one of us. There are many followers, and those that play them for that. There are people who will say or do something just because someone else did it, and there is a growing market for that too. Maybe this type of thinking can be traced back to early childhood Art Education, I’m just sayin’.

There will still be those that think that Kanye is ignorant. However, I beg to differ, Kanye seems to know the power of Art. He is aware of the boost in creativity, the focused concentration, the increased eye-hand coordination, the sense of completion you get from it. He also knows that Art promotes thinking outside of the box because that is exactly where he is.