|Issue No.15 April 13, 20055|
I mean it's come to the point that reality television banks on our brown booties for ratings. Brandy on America's Next Top Model, Stacie J. on The Apprentice and P. Diddy's scramble to add two more sisters to his bland Making of Da Band 3 series immediately comes to mind. America's pop culterati loves us when we are loud, caustic, sexual and saucy. For MTV, BET, NBC and other network audiences, our 'irrational', 'over sexualized' images are edited into easy to swallow bytes of comfort food. Whether it's in magazine publishing, tv/film/music video production or literature, there’s a need for us to create, replicate and sustain healthy, multidimensional images of ourselves within these mediums. No doubt! But right in the midst of all our outbursts, not too mention rap video gyrations, there's also a responsibility for us to be our authentic selves—unapologetic, uncompromised and even undone. I can't tell you how many times I've caught myself or heard one of my girls apologizing for crying or for behaving 'inappropriately'. All of that is just a response to society's disdain, and if may I add, fear of emotional women. Wild Women. So if and when we do act out (and you know we will), I say accept it and understand that there are a million ways in which your actions can play out and at least a dozen of them surely will. Be mindful, yet be yourself. Heads high y'all!
It's so fitting in this first issue of 2005 (which marks our 5th Anniversary-- yeah!), that we celebrate theHotness for being a forum where we can be ourselves. theHotness is growing and it's only because of the enthusiasm of you-- our readers, that we are still here kicking. So to set this issue off, we caught-up with Dionne Farris, who gained recognition and then damn near lost her mind over her popular hit, "Hopeless." Dionne is a great example of a hot.grrrl who experienced a full-on identity crisis and had to struggle to simply be herself and not what Columbia Records wanted her to be. There's also a look at Ellen Gallagher's new work DeLuxe and a great riff by writer Danyel Smith on female rappers in our Chica.2.Chica section.
I'd like to Big-Up Todd Wilson for all of his work these last
5 years on theHotness.com. Also long overdue thanks to Tracy Price for
her help with
the website. Currently we are looking for volunteers in NYC to help us
integrate message boards into theHotness.com. If you have skills with
CMS or blogs
such as Movable Type, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. And
last but not
least, we just applied for a grant from Third Wave to help us expand our
vision to be bigger, badder and better (special thanks to Joanne Keitt
and the Striplin
Foundation for their support). So keep sending your love and support our
Dionne Yvette Farris has got That Thing. Her voice is soft and sweet, yet tough and sticky like day old cotton candy. The fact that when we talk about Arrested Development we may simply mention Speech, but we reminisce and wax sentimental about Dionne is a credit to her country girl--overalls and all-- way of embracing whatever she did... humbly, almost sacredly. Remember Tennessee? Or how she took the Beatles classic Blackbird and spit it back out as an empowering mantra for Black folks?
singing in the dead of night/ Take these broken wings and learn
to fly/ All your life you were only waiting for this moment
don't know what it is, but tonight Dee is still aglow with That Thing.
Maybe it stems
from her eight blissful years of motherhood or from her anticipation
to release her LP of new material or maybe it's cause she now knows
monsters can be destroyed just as easily as they can be made. Whatever
it is, the 36-year old who has replaced her signature fade with
a full head of tight black wavy curls still prefers to sing barefoot
and is performing as if her very life hinged on it. She has just
finished an ecstatic, tearfully liberating set at BB King's and
time out with theHotness to discuss new insights and old issues:
DF: I'll say this: When I became a parent, I became apparent. Things in the world became apparent. Sequoia was the catalyst for my rebirth. Children open you up to so much and if you are willing to let them be a mirror they will reflect what you are, where you are and what you would like to become, if you are willing to look. That's what she does for me. And in those times when I feel like is this in vain or that I'm wasting time, she makes it all clear. I home school and everything. I got deep up in motherhood. She is my masterpiece and now that she's eight I am back to focusing on music because I realize that that is going to facilitate what we do in life. From taking care of our needs to moving to the desires of my heart. I had a nonchalant attitude before, but now that I'm a mother I had to get my hustle on.
tH: You decided to leave the music business. This was a conscious decision for you?
DF: Yeah, I actually came to a crossroads. There were things that I didn't understand. So I asked to be released from the record deal because I wasn't happy with how the whole thing was feeling and my expectations and the ideal I had about what it meant, wasn't how it was. Overall I just felt that the music I wanted to make was not going to be able to be made because there were so many restrictions and jurisdictions that I had to cross over. I felt a lot of resistance to what I wanted to do.
tH: Well at the time I worked at Sony (gasps) so I was on the administrative side and I know exactly what they were demanding of you. Once you did "Hopeless" and it was a 'crossover' hit, I'm sure they wanted your entire next album to be just like that.
DF: Yes! That's exactly what I'm saying. So you understand and feel me. That was the rigamarole I was going through and that is what was said to me. And I was like I can't have a whole album full of songs that sound exactly like Hopeless. Because at this point the music I've been doing reflects where I am and where I'm trying to get to, so here it is. If (they're) not feeling it, I'm not going to record any more songs just so (they) can hold on to songs that will never be released. That's when I started thinking about ownership and of course, that was not happening (in the industry). But I felt that I didn't want to make someone else rich any longer. I just wanted to keep up for my generation and have my own shit. I have a daughter now and when she was born I wanted to have something for her. Once the gift of God flows through me and we put it on something tangible and we are in a material world and that is what is the sustaining power for me. So if I give you my provision now I'm relying on you to be my provider. And that just wasn't happening. And it was an eye-opening realization for me.
tH: Yeah cause you know before Hopeless was released and before it single-handedly made the Love Jones soundtrack a top-seller, many of those executives didn't know what you were all about. Suddenly the song is a hit and they're like, 'what's that girl's name'?
DF: (Loud laughter and high-fives) Exactly!!! Oh my God! Yes, girl that was it!!! It was so real like that. Yes, girl! And I was like whoa, this is what I'm dealing with?!? When I was first signed to Columbia I wasn't even seen as a 'Black artist' and then Hopeless happened and all of a sudden people were telling me I was a Black artist. For me the music wasn't that different. It was naturally the next progression.
tH: So the success of Hopeless was in fact a double-edged sword?
DF: Yeah. But I took a stand. We definitely had a stalemate for about six months. And they wanted me to write more songs. They already had 12 songs and they weren't feeling me, but they wanted me to do four more. And I knew that four more wouldn't change how they felt and that they would just have more of my material to shelf.
tH: You said at point in your show that you weren't sure if you wanted to sing again. What made you change your mind?
DF: Realizing that physically when I wasn't singing, it was actually hurting me. There was a point when I wasn't singing that I felt like I was dying. That was the longest period of time in my life I did not sing. It was like three years and it was the worse. I did not have the desire. With everything I had gone through with the industry it just overshadowed the purity of just singing. Fighting all of that just wore me out and I wasn't even having fun. It wasn't until I realized that everything that I ever want for my life, that singing is going to be the catalyst for it. Whether I sing for the rest of my life or not, that's gonna be the spark that ignites this fire that burns in me for creativity, for wanting to be a builder and for wanting to get into architecture. All of that! That's going to be the catalyst for my entire life. This physical gift that I've been given I'm supposed to be sharing that. I mean I could sing at home. But it's clear I'm supposed to be sharing and allowing myself to be that channel, that beacon, through which that energy shines.
tH: What are you working on now?
DF: I'm finishing up work on a new album called Signs of Life.
tH: I can tell you that people still have mad love for you. How does that make you feel?
DF: It's like being brand new again. It's being out there on Front Street and being vulnerable. I have new songs and I know in my heart this is what I want to do… what I'm supposed to do!
tH: How are you different now from the Dionne that recorded Wild Seed?
DF: I have a deeper understanding of myself. Like for example when I first recorded "Food For Thought" I didn’t really connect completely with the words, but there's a deeper connection now. It's very complex for me. All of those songs from that album I wrote and they came through me, but now they SPEAK to me. Everything's finally catching-up to me. It's all coming together.
a review of Dionne’s show at BB King’s click here:
(Ellen Gallagher - artist)
From the start of her career, Ms. Gallagher has made paintings with lines or grids that she decorates and sometimes overruns with repeating images that refer to racial stereotypes: black-faced comedians, afros, lips, nurses and wigs. The grids recall the work of Minimalist painters like Agnes Martin, and the copied images recall Pop Art, particularly Andy Warhol. Far from being preachy or regretful, her work is a meditation on 20th-century black culture, an attempt to remember the good and the bad by resuscitating images. "I'm interested in reactivating something that was static," Ms. Gallagher said. "I find that so much more interesting than critique."
She began her 60 collage prints by selecting pages from old magazines (such as Sepia, Ebony, and Our World) she has collected. She backed the pages with paper, then cut them up, removing eyes, mouths, faces and blocks of text. Sometimes she pasted back what she had removed, and sometimes she left the spaces blank; occasionally she added new words and images. The resulting collages were then made into photogravures, a Victorian-era method of photographic printing that renders the collages flat and even, as though the alterations were part of the originals. Then Ms. Gallagher went to work on the photogravures. She cut and pasted. She colored eyes and mouths. She adorned figures with wig and masks sculptured from plasticine in yellow, black, blue, gray and translucent gel. She added elements like rhinestones and gold leaf. She cut elaborate vegetal shapes. She etched copper plates that were used to print drawings of hamsters, lips, eyes, stockings and sea creatures onto some of the sheets. The collages are hung in evenly spaced rows of 12. Seen from a distance, they form a massive grid reminiscent of the ones in her paintings. But while the paintings are sparing in decoration, "DeLuxe" bursts forth with line, color and sculpture. Some collages are multihued; some are in black and white. Some are dominated by a single figure; others are covered by row upon row of small heads. Some are flat. Others are built with ornamentation. In one collage the image is stamped into a sheet of metallic paper. Another is decorated with elaborate tracery in brown felt. As the viewer moves toward "DeLuxe," the impression of the grid fades and the eye reads the individual collages. Most are based on advertisements aimed at black women for hair-straightening products, wigs, nursing school courses and stockings, but all have been tweaked in ways that range from adoring to mocking to hostile. Images repeat themselves from collage to collage.
Many curators praise Ms. Gallagher for her ability to discuss race without being pompous and for the way she balances ideas with technique. "She's masterful at creating tension between form and content," said Elizabeth Smith, the chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which bought a Gallagher painting last year. Not all agree. Ms. Gallagher has been faulted for what some critics see as a certain facile quality. Writing in The New York Times about Ms. Gallagher's winter 2004 show at the Gagosian Gallery, Ken Johnson called her paintings and collages "visually catchy" but "too obvious." Ms. Gallagher said she draws such criticism because her material makes people uncomfortable. "Somehow in America black artists aren't allowed to use banal images of blackness," she said. "On the other hand, the idea of something black and inscrutable is also very disturbing."
DELUXE: Whitney Museum of American Art 945 Madison Avenue, NYC; January 27 - May 15
The Source Hit With Gender Discrimination
The charges were filed by Kimberly Osorio, who was the first female Editor-in-Chief of The Source, and Michelle Joyce, who was the Vice President of Marketing. According to the charges, female employees were consistently discriminated against on the basis of their gender in favor of male employees, particularly with respect to hiring, promotions, compensation and benefits, working hours and discipline.
"After dedicating five years to The Source, I could no longer endure the blatant gender discrimination and harassment so I spoke up, but it only hurt the situation because I was fired shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, discrimination and harassment in the workplace is very common and now I must speak out for all women who have been victims of this same type of treatment," said Ms. Osorio. "I chose to take a stand for women of the Hip Hop generation and for all women who quietly endure such treatment for fear of retaliation and for those women who have suffered in silence and quietly surrendered," said Ms. Joyce.
According to the charges, both Ms. Osorio and Ms. Joyce complained about the discriminatory treatment against women at The Source, all to no avail. Instead of taking prompt action to end the discrimination, they allege that both Scott and Mays unlawfully terminated them despite their outstanding work performance. In fact, Ms. Osorio alleges that she was fired shortly after she refused to give in to Scott's and Mays' repeated demands that she rescind an email that she sent to Human Resources complaining about the unlawful conduct.
Be Too Naked: the deal with girl rappers
Kim may do a bid. Tragic, that whole situation. Why I feel so unaffected
Truth be told, I don't like that many pop female MCs. Kill me now ... yeah, call me trifling, but so many just do not thrill me. I'll take Salt & Pep, absolutely. I'll take Lyte, absolutely. I'll take Yo-Yo (Black pearl/ Precious little girl ... now tell me what's wrong with being strong?!?). I'll take Latifah as an actor, but not as an MC. If I hear that damn U-N-I-T-Y EVER AGAIN IN MY LIFE I will vomit. Eve: no. I'll take Foxy, when she's on, but when's that? She came on stage with Jay during his tour; I saw her in L.A. And she did not bring it. If you know me, you know I've had my Foxy dramas, and they mostly came about because I dig her style. I miss it. As for Trina, yeah, I like her: Imma flirt 'til it hurt/ In a throwback skirt). Lady of Rage? Lady of Wackness. I'd like to see if Ciara can rhyme, as she's ferociously lip-synching Ludacris' lyrics in their new joint (see below). Ciara's walking a fine line right now, between lush sexiness and sneaker-wearing boyish cuteness. It's a line Missy wanted to, but never had the opportunity to walk--because of her weight mostly. But at the same time (and much respect to her as a producer) but I have never liked one rhyme of Missy's, not one, ever. Some of that had to do with her videos. They muddied her voice (as Luda's videos tend to muddy his). Missy had to go over-the-top with the trash-bag tricks and the stop-motion ... her looks and body, in this You-Gotta-Be-Past-Perfect pop cosmos, could not stand alone, even with her music. So you could say she took the smart way.
Girl rappers have too much going against them. Gotta be cute, but can't be too, too naked or she's "depending on that." Can't be too tomboy, or she's not sexy-girly enough. Can rhyme about sex, yeah, but if she does it too much, she's "depending on that." If she's part of a clique, then the word is she got "put on" because she's boning the main guy or the side guy or manager guy. Like brothers don't get PUT ON out of friendship, guilt, and probably due to some sexual favors or true love as well. And if a girl MC's body is all that and out there, then that outshines the rapping (hi, Kim and Eve). If she looks like she works hard on her body, then she's paying too much attention to it, and not enough to "just rapping," like that's a possibility in this Video World. Girls don't have the freedom to be themselves. They certainly do not have the freedom to be considered "ugly."
that all male MCs do... but they certainly have waaaaaaaaaay more than
the females do. For the complete story go to:
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