Monday, June 28, 2010

Lauryn Hill's NPR Interview

The reputation that surrounds Hill is wild — it's hard to know what to believe, because she does so few interviews. She's got handlers on top of handlers, publicists and managers who you think will lead you to her, and then they turn out to be red herrings. My editor and I chased them all down during the weekend of the Harmony Festival. I was told by various people to not touch her, don't look her in the eye; that instead of talking directly to you, she writes on a Post-It note and sticks it to your chest. I've also been told repeatedly not to call her "Lauryn" anything — she goes by Ms. Hill. This is the only rumor that turns out to be true, in my case. Because after her performance in Santa Rosa, when we ask Ms. Hill if we can ride with her back to the hotel and ask her some questions, she tells us to get in the car.

I ask her the question her fans have been asking each other for years: Why did you stop putting out music?

"There were a number of different reasons," she says. "But partly, the support system that I needed was not necessarily in place. There were things about myself, personal-growth things, that I had to go through in order to feel like it was worth it. In fact, as musicians and artists, it's important we have an environment — and I guess when I say environment, I really mean the [music] industry, that really nurtures these gifts. Oftentimes, the machine can overlook the need to take care of the people who produce the sounds that have a lot to do with the health and well-being of society, or at least some aspect of society. And it's important that people be given the time that they need to go through, to grow, so that the consciousness level of the general public is properly affected. Oftentimes, I think people are forced to make decisions prematurely. And then that sound radiates."
Full Interview Here (audio also)

Come back Lauryn!

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Alicia Keys Situation

Look at her, smiling extra wide because she took (i.e. stole, lured, seduced, captured, took possession of) Mashonda’s man, Swizz Beatz. Alicia Keys could have had any man she wanted – mine included – but she had to take Mashonda’s high school sweetheart?

Stuff happens.

Still, the wife in me (and the self righteous little woman on my shoulder) thinks that Alica and Swizz are low down dirty dogs for doing this. Despite her humanitarian good deeds, the mother of Swizz’s love child has always seemed pretty fake to me. I’ve appreciated her talent and jammed hard to her music, but I still remember her words after she won her first Grammy. Backstage and fresh off her Grammy sweep, Alicia was replete with arrogance and braggadocio. A few months later, I personally witnessed this same attitude during her performance at the Essence Festival.

Then, all of a sudden she was full of grace, humility, and good works. Maybe she grew. There’s a chance that over the span of nearly a decade, Alicia grew to be a beautifully humble person with good intentions. I doubt Mashonda would agree.

The realist in me wants to call Alicia Keys a home wrecking sluttramp, but the human in me considers that, perhaps, Mashonda and Swizz were separated. Maybe Mashonda lied when she said they were living a life of happiness when the affair started.

Mashonda says she called Alicia many times, but Alicia would never talk to her. Mashonda says she wrote Alicia, but Alicia never replied. Mashonda says a lot that makes Alicia look pretty doggone bad. Maybe Mashonda is just a scorned ex-wife? I do realize that I don’t know the inside story, and unless someone does an in-depth documentary, I never will. I also realize that we are all human and we all screw up. Having said that…

This is what I see:

Alicia dated Krucial Keys/Women/Somebody who wasn’t too serious. Then, she met Swizz Beatz. She met his wife too. She thought, “Hmmm….I might like him…let’s have some fun...” She flirted with Swizz. He flirted with her. To Alicia, Mashonda was just a regular, untalented ride or die girl with a husband who she’d been with forever. Probably didn’t think Mashonda was on his level and she figured, maybe, she’d bring him up to HER level. Maybe he could be her Jay-Z?

Alicia knew he'd just had a baby with Mashonda, but she had a connection with Swizz in and out of the studio and she wanted to see what was up. That he had a wife was of little, if any, consideration. Alicia got on this ship and never jumped off. To hell with a Mashonda.

Before the affair, they probably shared dinners, texts, phone calls, and studio time. And, as Alicia knew he would, Swizz fell on Day 1. Like a ton of bricks falling through paper towels. Satisfied just to share a meal with THE Alicia Keys, he didn’t even make a move on her. She made the first move.

Moment of honesty
Someone's gotta take the lead tonight
Whose it gonna be?
I'm gonna sit right here
And tell you all that comes to me
If you have something to say
You should say it right now

I’m not a racist, really, I’m not. However, I do appreciate the strengths and recognize the weaknesses of the races. Not all stereotypes apply to everyone, but some apply to enough. So, to put it bluntly, I think Alicia used her inner white woman to quickly pull him in. She got him with her confidence, aptitude, beauty, praise, seduction, and azz. She actually put her stud on him...she was that interesting, beautiful, giving, IN CONTROL woman he wanted. You be all THAT and see if you don’t take a man.

In a nano second, Swizz calculated the pros of being with THE Alicia Keys; Mashonda didn’t have a piece of a chance. He chunked his wife the deuce and woke up in Africa with a superstar carrying his third child. And oh yeah, see that dazed and blissful smile on his face?

Watch out Swizz. Alicia is a BEAST and she will eat you alive if ever need be.

I know some readers may think I'm crazy for saying this. I know some think that you can’t TAKE a man from a woman. In a sense, that’s true. But you can also live by the rule that you don’t make time with married men. You can live by a personal moral code of never stepping into someone else’s relationship. It's the quickest way to avoid that Karma.

Great performance though. And she’s never looked better. Poor Mashonda.