18 days into the new year and it’s already been a doozy. The first week I had to travel to South Carolina to attend the funeral of my ever charming, charismatic, and ambitious cousin, Michael. That same week another cousin suffered a mild stroke at the meager age of 42. On top of worry, grief, regret and frustration, I’ve been dealing with an awful case of writer’s block. I’ve been consumed with thoughts about the past year, and the personal and worldwide events that seemed to unfurl like holiday paper in the giftwrap section of Macy’s on Christmas Eve (the earthquake in Haiti, the Chilean miners, floods in Pakistan, the shootings of Aiyanna Jones and Oscar Grant, the death of Lena Horn, healthcare reform, etc.). Last week on the anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti, I came face to face with images from that awful day and how a year later, very little has been accomplished in its wake. Then yesterday on the 25th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day my thoughts were once again transported back to the past. Oprah’s special MLK Day show had me on lock because it not only looked at historical “race crises” in this country (The Rodney King & OJ verdicts, for example), but she juxtaposed these previous incidents with current updates through new and old show segments. When you can saddle up your history with your present and see how the past can be turned inside out by struggle, understanding, justice, determination and love then even something like the death of a loved one becomes a little easier to accept because we understand each moment effects another moment, which in turns effects another moment and so on and nothing has to be or should be in vain. One of the most valuable things I’ve ever heard educator and philosopher Cornel West utter was the importance of ancestral recognition– we gotta recognize our past in order to have better, brighter futures. And like anything else I take a liking to, I’ve applied this ideal to everything. It’s like the first time I ate apple butter. I put it on everything. So now that I’m getting back in sync and my writer’s block is breaking, I’ve decided to step outta the deep end of my memory pool, wade a little and use my reviews to previews motif to look back at the music, movies and moda of 2010 and make some bold predictions about theHotness of 2011. Check it:
2010: For (Stuffed) Colored Girls & I Love My Hair. Hands down these two videos created the most hype with brown girls all over the Web, they had us LOL’ing and feeling happy to be nappy.
2011: I don’t even have to make a far-fetched prediction about the video that’s going to blow wigs back in 2011. Kanye tried to be provocative, but dead girls hanging like a slabs of beef is not thrilling it’s tired. Right now in terms of power and provocation Marsha Ambrosius’s already has my vote for Best Video this year for her recently released “Far Away.”
2010: Janelle Monae’s long awaited, highly anticipated debut The ArchAndroid delivered on its promise to be fantastically funky.
[Runner-up: Erykah Badu’s "Return Of The Ankh."]
2011: This year is going to be the year of the Smiths. Whip My Hair was just the tip of the iceberg. Folks are already comparing Willow Smith to a young MJ. Yeah supposedly she’s killing them with her live performances and lyrically she’s laying it down hard in the studio. Jay Z’s Roc Nation has a young stunna on their hands and she’s whipping it real good.
Many of us have been waiting a few years for Alice Smith’s follow-up to her debut smash, “For Lovers, Dreamers & Me.” I’ve heard a couple of songs online and she’s bringing the goods in an oh, so soulful, quirky, massive way in the 1-1!
2010: “Decoded” by Jay-Z written with dream hampton. It was on Oprah’s Most Favorite Things List, need I say any more? And…
“Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work” by Edwidge Danticat. Edwidge Danticat’s essays especially “I Am Not A Journalist” about the assassination of Haiti’s leading journo Jean Dominique and “Welcoming Ghosts” about Jean Michel Basquiat are exquisite because they cut straight through the white meat to get to the bone and dark matter of being an immigrant working in the arts.
2011: “The Kid” by Sapphire. The sequel to her award-winning “Push,” which inspired the movie Precious, is a look at the life and struggles of the son of Precious. We know Sapphire can weave dynamic, nuanced, full-bodied stories so this is bound to be a page-turner.
2010: Night Catches Us – Starring Kerry Washington and Anthony Mackie, Tanya Hamilton’s debut about life for Black Panthers in the 70’s after the Black Power movement was haunting, disturbing, and infused with a vulnerability rarely seen in film about Black manhood, power and motherhood. Never mind the thickness of the soundtrack produced by The Roots and the surreal beauty of dang near every shot.
[Runner-up: Loretta Devine’s portrayal of Juanita/ The Lady in Green in “For Colored Girls.” You felt the poetry in her words. She truly made each of her lines dance!]
2011: There’s a few movies coming out this year that feature some pretty fly hot grrrls and I’m not talking about Jamie Foxx and Martin Lawrence’s Wanda & Shenanay shenanigans. There’s Frankie & Alice featuring a schizophrenic Halle Berry and a rather humorous Jumping The Broom with Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Paula Patton. But I think thehotness is going to be The Help featuring Aunjanue Ellis, Viola Davis, La Chanze and Cicely Tyson. The cast is stellar and it’s based on the book that was nothing short of scintillating. I already feel the fiya.
2010: Black Girls Rock on BET. I was at the taping and this was definitely the high point in television for both girls and grown sassed Black women. A month later, when it made its telecast debut it was still just as empowering.
2011: The Game: Last week The Game premiere on BET attracted 7.7 million viewers, making it the biggest premiere in cable television history and that’s all because of the love of fans. So even though the premiere was a lil rocky—Melanie giving up her dream of being a doctor, Tasha smoking Black-n-Milds and freaking 106 & Park’s Terrance, and that 21-year old playing lil’ Brittany– I still have hope that the show’s creator Mara Brock Akil is going to work out these kinks and tighten up the storyline. 7 milly ain’t nothing to eff with and besides, Mara has delivered before with Girlfriends. She probably just got the BET jitters.
I’m also riding with Black Girls Rock again being bigger, better and deffer this year. Hopefully Beverly Bond will include Black girls like Tamar-kali, Fefe Dobson, Skin and Joi who really do rock out and will also feature young writers like Suzan Lori Parks, Edwidge Danticat, Zadie Smith and Jessica care Moore as models of success alongside BGR featured singers, actors and corporate bigwigs.
Fashion/ Style -
2010: Halle Berry and her Golden Globes dress (Jesus!) and Naomi Campbell’s worldwide celebration with Dolce & Gabbana for her 25 years in Fashion
2011: ARISE Magazine. This may be the fiercest fashion mag on the stands now that no one knows about. Their presentations during NYC & London’s respective Fashion Weeks are usually the most sought after invitation by fashion insiders, media and models alike. 2011 is going to be the year Arise rises to the top.