Music

African Time: Late To Recognizing Our Greatness

“Here’s the thing, nobody wants to face the fact that we focus on everything BUT what we need to focus on.  For a long time Africa has been seen through everybody else’s eyes but our own, such that now, we find ourselves at a point where those who tell our truth, and are of our Land, are either revered or shunned.   Case in point, Chimamanda Adichie.  As celebrated as she may be worldwide now due to the spotlight being shown on her after her feature on Beyonce, a lot of the people back home view her as a stubborn woman, a sell out, one who doesn’t know her place and basically, a problem.

We need to see ourselves as we are in order to start going where we should be.

Let’s be honest with ourselves.

Africa has a long history of feeling like the ugly step sister.  Whether due to our spirit of Ubuntu that saw us sharing ourselves with those who had unsavory intentions or the aftermath of aforementioned intentions being carried out being the root cause of it, we’ve come to believe we’re weak and insignificant. We seem to be worthless to only ourselves, however, with the entire Western and Eastern world clamoring to get SOMETHING out of us, you’d think by now, we’d realize our worth.

Africa is like the pretty girl with the abusive boyfriend she keeps around because she knows no better and he says she’s worthless.  She believes everything she’s told, and disregards what she herself sees; That she is worthy, capable and deserving.”

Something I wrote for AHHB.

Other Side Of The Game

I had a friend who loved Miss Badu. She was the quintessential Nubian Queen.  Long print skirts, short natural hair, big brown eyes and a smile that you won’t often see. A smile untainted by the Evils of the Concrete Jungle. A smile you’d find on one of those little kids that live in some remote forest far from our organised chaos.

Her perfect man was a tall, dark man, with dreads, a poet, someone you’d find in an India Arie music video. Beads on his wrists, bags by his side and poetry on his Lips. That was the beauty she held out for.  While I complained about being unable to find an honest, trustworthy man who’s good in bed, she complained about not being able to find a man who was honest to his craft, good in that respect, respectful, who oozed Soul.

She had a Badu song ready for every type of situation that might arise and rings for days.

We differed greatly. I’d quote Nicki Minaj, have casual sex, swear, smoke and be the exact opposite of the calm aura she exuded. She was never able to understand how I could feel her, understand her completely, and still not be like her. Our friendships ended when I found Lust in a place where she had almost discovered Fake Love. But I’d honestly rather have had him use me than her. 

 

She was beautiful and hopeful. I have been beautiful and jaded for years. 

She loved artists. I am one and have loved others such as myself. I no longer see their appeal.

She felt natural was the way to be to discover real Beauty. I preferred to find Beauty in the chaos. 

She was a virgin. I am fairly skilled in the Art of Seduction and Satisfaction.

And she felt I could not be these things because I am, to a certain degree, wise. 

See, I wonder how she feels about Q.U.E.E.N. 

Will it take a Neo-Soul song stating that Women can in fact be as they please, to make her realize that no, I wasn’t just sleazy and  somehow by some miracle blessed with intelligence?

Will it take a song to remind the Konscious folk that I can twerk and study? And it is not shameful. That by exploring my femininity, I am not renouncing my Queendom?

Because how is it that even the Women who claim to be all about Women being “beautiful” and “free” believe we should only be so through being chaste, silently powerful and unaffected by the World we live in?

They will love you until you straighten your hair.

They will love you until you have sex with someone you don’t see as your King.

They will love you until they realize you’re only trying to teach those who want to learn because time’s too limited to be wasting it on those who don’t want to learn.

They will love you until you switch up your sandals and head wrap for stilettos and weaves in a club setting.

 

I sometimes wonder if people don’t listen. If they don’t learn.

When you say no one should tell a Woman how to be then turn around and attempt to do so, do you not choke a bit on your hypocrisy?

Because when Miss Badu dyes her hair blonde, she’s discovering new things. When I do it, I’m trying to be a White Woman. 

When I fall in Love with a European man named Mark, I’m a sell out because he doesn’t have in-depth knowledge of African tribes and doesn’t sell beads from his bag as he travels across Africa helping refugees. 

“Black Love” is always depicted as couples with dreads or afros. Bald ladies in intimate poses with dreadlocked men. I have seen women with straightened hair a handful of times in such images, I dare say 3. And the only women with weaves I’ve seen depicting Black Love are usually in BDSM shoots. So it leads me to wonder, is our Black Love only pure if we’re natural?

I mean, let’s be honest, a lot of us are only uplifting and acknowledging the parts of Black society and culture they want to.

How does exploring my body make me less of a Queen? Please, tell me. 

How does make-up mean I’m spitting in the faces of all the Goddesses associated with feminine beauty?

How does adapting, adjusting to the modern World make me less Aware?

Before I reach Zion, will I need to recite every line in Lauryn’s “Doo Wap”?

Will I need to twist locs in order to enter Black Koscious Heaven?

Am I a bad person because I smoke weed to get high and you smoke it to “reach a higher plane and open your third eye”? [Which in my eyes, honey, IS getting high..But what do I know?]

Am I automatically like them [the ignorant],because I’m not like you?

Is our Love not real because I think of him when I hear Beyonce’s 1+1 and not India Aries’ The Truth?

Am I still a Queen when I question the views of your third eye, with my tattoos that read in English and my natural, yet dyed hair?

Do I qualify? Am I worthy?

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A Blues existence in an Ignorant Rap era

I’m not sure if I could love myself if I didn’t know myself. If experience has taught me anything it’s that I’m the kind of person that you have to learn, to understand, in order to appreciate.  Most people I know alternate between hating and adoring me, and I understand because I do too.

I am too unstable for people to be calm around. I relate too much to female characters in Toni Morrison novels, Amy Winehouse spoke my heart so well I’m convinced she was Jesus and her music was the gospel, when Beyonce played Etta James in Cadillac Records, I understood exactly what she meant when she said “Oh honey, you wouldn’t even begin to understand my problems.”  I expect myself to end up with a drug habit, it would be shocking if I made it to 25 without the help of a therapist.

I am not shallow. I can be. But it is not in my nature to be. I feel and I think. Sometimes too much, sometimes the wrong things, but I do.  I wouldn’t say I’ve earned the right to be referred to as Crazy but come back in 2 years and I’ll be almost there, probably. I’m not Torch-Your-House-Crazy yet because, well, I’m still somewhat logical and hopeful.  Hopeful that things work out, and logic tells me I’ll get caught and I’m not trying to have my life disrupted by arson charges over Love, but..As I said, this is now..

I understand things I wish I didn’t and am unable to verbalize things I wish I could.  There is a certain loneliness, pain that is heard in music that one would like to feel, but few do. I am feeling it and again, understand why beautifully tragic lives can only exist for so long.  I think only a few exceptional artists can package heartbreak, without a catchy beat and make you believe it’s bearable. And I don’t mean relationship wise, although that too, counts.

If I’ve learned anything about great, sad artists, and from my experience, your heart doesn’t break once, it’s not about that one man who left, although sometimes it may be. Your heart breaks every time you remember the tiniest of things, something someone said about why you’re difficult to love, the one who held on and had to go because you were killing him inside, the time your father showed he didn’t care anymore, the time your mother didn’t defend you, and then the facade cracks, because I believe as an artist you can only maintain your facade for so long. We aren’t allowed/able to leave things in the past, especially as a writer, everything is connected and you have to constantly pull up memories and experiences. I think as a musician or painter it’s different because they move one, a musician has to move with the times and a painter can constantly find new inspiration, well, unless they choose to fixate on one thing but, that’s it.

I’m failing at being Young.  I’m not youthful in any sense of the word, I can’t even dress like people my age, I have to try. Why? Because I’m simply not here.  I realize that when I’m around peers and I’m completely uninterested in their stories, their hour long discussions about why the boy never texted back, when I meet the boys who want to prey on my insecurities and save me from myself, when I meet the men who hope I’m naive enough to use, the family members who don’t think you’re destined for anything but mediocrity, I’m uninterested and most times unaffected.  To quote Cali from Power of Pussy, “..Some people are just out here living and I’m fighting for it.” My issues are more along the lines of trying not to be a struggling artist, staying away from alcohol and trying to convince myself  suicide isn’t as appealing as it actually is. These are real issues for me that I struggle with all the time and ironically, I want no help with. I’m convinced I’m strong enough to get over it alone although when the sun sets I highly doubt that.

I’ve been telling my best friend that I feel a very lonely existence. The kind that envelops you and explaining it is kind of like explaining what it’s like to breathe through your nose..it’s normal, seems insignificant but is necessary. My other friend said he’d like to create the perfect man for him and I explained, it’s not about a romantic relationship, I merely want someone to relate, to understand why I make mountains out of molehills and some days I’m depressed and inconsolable, why I am as I am, because of what I’ve been.  Companionship and intimacy. I tire of meeting people and hearing Amy Winehouse’s “Stronger Than Me” playing in my head.

But consider the age we live in.  Intimacy is feared by many because of the idea of vulnerability and knowing you’d have to share yourself with someone else. How many times have we done that and it’s gone wrong? How many times has one had to mend bruised hearts and shattered egos and hide their trust issues? One too many it seems, for all of us.  But I often wonder if “Bitches ain’t shit” is strong enough to make you feel right on your worst day when you’re craving genuine affection.

I often say I need stable people around me but to be frank and fair, I wouldn’t know what to do with them. I’m learning the key to every functioning relationship, no matter how small, is understanding. Calm people with average life stories are not for me, I tend to ruin those that I encounter. On the other hand, finding your own Blake Fielder-Civil will mean little to no peace, or a different kind, I don’t know yet.

These thoughts make me feel selfish, because I’ve been blessed with a best friend I consider my Soul-Mate. A man who loves me unconditionally and I often tell people it’s sad because not a lot of people will get to feel what we have for each other in their lifetime. But despite this, despite the fact that I already experience an indescribable love that fulfills almost every part of me, there’s that. Because even he, as much as he loves me, cannot feel what I do as I do. He understands some bits and I may be asking too much to expect/ hope for, what I do.  But I understand why it isn’t possible, he is not me and I get that. I’m grateful for his love and support, still.

I think what I’m trying to say is, I want to connect with more people and unfortunately we live in a time when people would rather be anything but honest.  About their flaws, their desires, themselves. And for people like me, this leaves one feeling out of place and odd.

To quote @RomanKush on the issue “We’re the last of a dying breed”.

It’s hard to see the beauty in yourself to begin with considering Society. Even harder when we can’t even tell each other we’re worth something. When the only compliments you can count on are from two friends, strangers on the internet and yourself.

I wondered last night if a “You is kind, you is smart, you is important” would matter coming from the same person everyday. I doubted it. As I type this I wonder if I do my part, and I don’t know. I may be too busy observing to do anything.

I’m over having sex and miss making love. Fuck, I miss holding hands. Being able to cry in front of those you consider close to you, and I don’t mean silent tears, ugly cries. I miss passion. The raw passion that terrifies and yet intrigues. I’m sometimes ashamed of the fact that it burns in me because I don’t see it elsewhere.

And to answer Warsan’s question, Yes, I tried to change, and I know you understand why, and I couldn’t because this is how I am. And it’s a constant struggle to remember that I’m like this for a reason. That I have a right to sing the Blues.  I have to teach myself to not do what almost every other person I’ve met has done, told me I’m too much or too little of something. And this is where I am now.

And if I ever decide Life’s gotten to be too much, I will forgive myself for the decision I will make, because I will understand.  And it will not mean I would have been ungrateful for anything that has happened or anything that I’ve learned.

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