Lyrically Speaking

whipsEvery one over the age of twenty-one seems to have a problem with the state of hip-hop today. Rap lyrics glorify selling drugs and they abase women, there’s no message in the music, hip-hop sets a bad example for the youth…

Gregory Inman of Hoodie Muzik Group posted something on Facebook about people spending years in school to learn proper English then not using it but being quick to use whatever new slang rappers came up with. I couldn’t agree more! I commented on the post about the use of the word ‘cray’. I spelled it that way because I thought that ‘cray’ was short for crazy since that’s the way people used it. Well, Gregory schooled me on what ‘Kray’ really meant to Jay-Z and Kanye West. Supposedly, they are comparing themselves to mid-twentieth century London gangsters Ronald and Reginald Kray. They were NOT shortening the word crazy, yet thousands if not millions, of people used the word as such. I started thinking about how much influence hip-hop’s lyrics have on people, particularly young people.

I remembered years ago overhearing men in New York talking about X5s being feminine cars, all because Jay-Z said, “We don’t drive X5s, we give ‘em to baby-mamas”. I certainly can’t forget the popularity of the Motorola two-way pager after he mentioned it in “I Just Wanna Love U (Give it to Me)”. The mention of Ciroc in too many songs for me to name, has resulted in a bottled being present in every black home I’ve entered in the last six months. I thought about when I heard of young girls searching Aston Martin on Google after hearing it in Rick Ross’ song and the YOLO movement/madness created by Drake.

The bigger picture is that hip-hop has grown into a major marketing platform since Yo! MTV Raps days. It’s commercial now and that commercialism has contributed greatly to its growth. Lyrics are often calculated marketing schemes that people buy into. I don’t think Jay and Ye are secretly laughing at us for not being as worldly as them and knowing that they were comparing themselves to the Kray brothers. The truth is that most rappers today live a totally different lifestyle than they used to. Back then, rappers and their fans were more closely linked socially and maybe even financially. Now, rappers are experiencing and talking about things that most of their fans only hear about from them.

This is definitely a different era of hip-hop. Most of what we hear in hip-hop today is about big booty hoes and Lambos. The Lost Boys aren’t telling us about Renee and Pac isn’t telling women to keep their head up. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe there just aren’t enough Lupes to balance out the 2 Chainz?

And what exactly is the problem? Is it really that bad for young girls (or anyone) to find out what an Aston Martin is from a hip-hip song? Doesn’t this happen with other genres of music too? Maybe it doesn’t. But isn’t that the power that consumers give to celebrities? Doesn’t star power equal marketing power which grows into cultural power? If that’s true, who’s to blame when the outcome of this marketing is a culture of materialism, vanity and ignorance?

I say Diddy and those shiny suits are to blame! That’s what changed hip-hop. I’m only joking, or am I?

Adia Kamaria

Yesterday, I Cried

I recently moved into a new house. It was a tiresome week of packing and unpacking, up and down stairs, cleaning and then cleaning again. Of all the things that needed to be done, I dreaded sorting through a big green plastic container that sat on the floor of my closet, untouched for years.  That container had moved with me twice without ever being opened.

I remember packing the container in 2006 when I was moving from Miami Beach back to my old neighborhood. I didn’t know exactly what was in the container but I imaged that it contained stuff from the years just before it was packed. A time when my mother and I shared cigarettes by the pool and I woke up on most mornings next to a man who loved me through a lot of things, despite a lot of things―the man I affectionately called, “My Home Team.”

Just as I thought, sorting through the container brought back a lot of fond memories. As I dug through the pictures, cards and notebooks I remembered things that hadn’t crossed my mind since they had happened. It’s like I had put all those memories in that container and sealed them away. I sat on the cold floor inside my closet and cried for the memory of things I knew I would never experience again. It’s 2012 now, my beloved mother is deceased and “My Home Team” has a new home, nowhere near me or my life.

At the bottom of the container were at least a dozen books that I hadn’t read. I was taking them out one by one when I came across Yesterday, I Cried by Iyanla Vanzant. It originally belonged to my mother and had somehow stayed with me for over a decade. With tears running down my cheeks I picked it up and thought to myself, Maybe I should read this tomorrow. I put it in my “keep” pile and decided I would read it when my move was completed.

I remember my mother reading Yesterday, I Cried when I was in high school and I tried to read it right after she did but I couldn’t get into it. I tried reading it again sometime around 2005 and I couldn’t get past the first chapter. Three weeks ago I made my third attempt and that time it stuck. I hate clichés and I especially hate when people say that if something is meant to be it will be. If that were true we would all be aimlessly walking through life waiting for things that were “meant” to happen to just, happen. I believe that things happen when they are sought after and worked towards. This experience, however, was a testament to me that some things really do happen when they are supposed to.

I didn’t understand or appreciate Yesterday, I Cried when I tried to read it before, but I’m at a stage now where I can. My life experiences aren’t very similar to the ones described by the author but I was able to relate to the way her experiences made her feel. The whole book was a comparison to and struggle between the old Rhonda Harris and the new Iyanla Vanzant.  These three passages stood out the most to me:

“Often, when you are on a spiritual path, there is a war that goes on between the person you once were and the person you are becoming…The old you, the one who helped you survive, the one that was there for you in rough times, is going to fight to stay alive. The old you knows your secrets and your history. The old you knows your defense mechanisms, what you will do when your buttons get pushed, and exactly where your weaknesses lie. The old you knows what works for you and is terrified by the thought of trying something new…The old you has home-court advantage.”

“When you need to be loved, you take love wherever you can find it. When you are desperate to be loved, feel love, know love, you seek out what you think love should look like.”

“I wanted to prove to her that I was grateful. When you are grateful to someone, you must show it. One way to show it is to let them do whatever they want to you. You let them beat you and don’t fight back; you lie there and let them rape you.”

I could write an entire book on how and why I can relate to these passages so I won’t go into detail on that. Overall, Yesterday, I Cried gave me an explanation for things I’d done and felt in the past. It also reassured me that being at peace and happy with yourself doesn’t mean that you or your family is perfect and that there is nothing wrong with abandoning your past and some people from your past if you believe that’s what’s right for you. There is no obligation to be friends or associated with anyone or anything forever and those changes don’t always have to be made because of a negative force. It’s okay to simply not want to do or be something anymore.

Yesterday, I Cried is the story of a woman who defied the odds and believed in herself enough to become her true self.  It’s an in-depth look at how neglected children become careless adults and how that cycle is repeated. It’s a view of love from a heart that’s been damaged and it makes so much sense if you’ve been there before.

Anyway, right now I’m reading A Royal Duty by Paul Burrell. Nothing life changing here, but it is an interesting look into British monarchial life. Until next time…

Muah!

Adia Kamaria

Pardon Jay

I was a sophomore in high school when I bought Jay-Z’s second album, In My Lifetime, Vol. 1. His boasting on “Imaginary Players”, reference to Biggie on “The City is Mine” and the belief that my fifteen year old life was somehow relatable to “Sunshine” made him the ONLY rapper alive to me. Then a friend of mine introduced me to his first album, Reasonable Doubt, and that was it for me—Jay-Z was king.

After that came Vol. 2…Hard Knock Life, Vol. 3…The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, The Blueprint…and he still sat on the throne I built for him in my mind. He lost me with The Blueprint² The Gift & The Curse, got me back with The Black Album lost me again with Kingdom Come and got me back again with The Blueprint 3. I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with his music. Still, I always respected him as a businessman and Jay-Z as a brand. How could I not respect a man that got people to wear Reeboks again and introduced the word swagger to urban lingo? With that said, it bothers me that so many people have negative things to say about him and his current projects.

Tweets like, “This coming from a man that used to sell crack” and “Jay-Z is a drug dealer”, in reference to an ad that he’s featured in for the Obama re-election campaign.  I was surprised to see more negative than positive comments on articles about the opening of the Barclays Center and the Nets move to Brooklyn. Things like, “I don’t care what this man does, he sold his own people poison”.

Really? It’s like people are saying: “How dare you? How dare you Shawn Corey Carter live to be forty-two years old and still be relevant? How dare you go from bricks to Billboards and grams to Grammys? Didn’t you know you were supposed to have five kids and three baby-mothers that hate each other? Didn’t you know that you were supposed to go to jail for selling crack and then come home and not be able to get a job and lose your right to vote? Are we supposed to believe that you’ve changed? We don’t believe you, you need more people!”

It makes me wonder if people are only upset because Jay-Z has reached such a high social status. Like, it’s okay for a drug dealer to become a rapper but we shouldn’t have him campaigning for the re-election of the nation’s first African-American president. It’s okay for him to put his name on sneakers but we certainly don’t think he should be involved in a major enterprise such as an NBA team and sporting arena.I would be puzzled if this is true since American society treats celebrities like royalty, which puts them in the best positions of influence in this country. Who else should President Obama have gotten to get the attention of young black people? Think about some other rappers and Jay-Z will probably be the best choice.

People always say that black men need to do better. Jay-Z is a black man doing better than he was “supposed to”. I’m not saying that selling crack and then rapping about it is cool, but he’s not doing that anymore. Can’t we just be happy that his story didn’t end in prison or death? Can’t we just be happy for one of them that made it?

I’m hoping that when Tuesday comes he can say that he is a small part of the reason the president is black, again.

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

 

Happy Girls :-)

Confidence is supposedly the best thing a woman can wear―I disagree, somewhat. Yes, confidence is sexy but a smile is pretty. A sincere smile on a woman’s face is unquestionably feminine and gracious. I know we can’t walk around with a big grin on our faces all the time for no reason, that’s silly, but when you’re in a happy state of mind you smile at just about everything without even realizing it. When you smile your eyes are brighter and your presence is pleasant. Audrey Hepburn was right, happy girls are the prettiest girls.

As a former ABW, I notice the difference that being happy makes in the way that men treat me too. I get a lot more compliments from men now than I used to. I mean real compliments, not game. On a daily basis men say to me something along the lines of, “You’re beautiful” or “Have a nice day, pretty”. They help me with bags and offer to pay for my groceries and sometimes do pay for things without me knowing―and that’s it! They do or say something nice and walk away. They don’t stand around asking for my number or give me lame reasons why I should get to know them. (Of course this could also be because my skirts are much longer and my nails are much shorter now too)

This past Monday morning I was in a Publix supermarket and as I walked past a stranger he said, “You look very nice today, and have a nice day too.” I asked him why he said that to me and he said, “Because you smiled when I passed you.” I took that to mean that my smile made me look nice, approachable and like someone that he genuinely thought should have a nice day.

We’re only human, we can’t be happy every day and I don’t believe there is a magical way to control all of your thoughts so that unhappy ones don’t ever enter your mind. If you’re like me you’re the type of person that gets upset by other people, not things. Something like spilling sauce on my shirt at lunch won’t change my mood for the entire day but someone I love doing something I hate will. The key is to stay the same no matter what someone else does. I have to remind myself daily that my mood and my happiness are MINE and not to be given away. Have I mastered this? No, but I’m learning more and more that smiles are curves that set a lot of things straight.

Kisses,

AdiaKamaria

History…

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I don’t usually care enough about a celebrity love story (triangle) to write a blog about it but this CRihanna featuring Karrueche Tran mess is…WOW. Firstly, this nonsense could have ended after the first sentence:

“I have decided to be single to focus on my career. I love Karrueche very much but I don’t want to see her hurt over my friendship with Rihanna, I’d rather be single allowing us to both be happy in our lives.” – Chris Brown

But anyway, let me say that I am a fan of both Chris Brown and Rihanna’s music and what they want to do in their personal lives is their business. What really struck me is the video of Chris Brown that hit the web the day after that ridiculous “statement” came out. He says, “…When you share a history with somebody, then you tend to fall in love with somebody else… it’s kind of difficult…”

Why do people, especially men, put so much emphasis on history in a relationship? I’m not saying that the things you and another person have experienced shouldn’t be valued, but those things are called memories. Memories don’t ever have to be forgotten and you can love and appreciate the memories until you die. The amount of history you have with someone shouldn’t be the only basis for whether or not you should have, or want a future with them.

I also don’t understand the notion of being in love with two people at the same time, especially if the reason that you love one of them is because of the history that you have with them. I believe that if you are in love with someone and happy with that person, there’s no way you will fall in love with someone else. Attraction―yes, maybe even sex, but in love―no. What happens is you find something in someone that you’re not getting from your mate, you like the new person, he/she is great, but history, guilt or some other imaginary obligation is keeping you from letting the first person go,  so you hold on to both of them and you eventually become confused.

Life doesn’t move backwards. When people get together they look forward to seeing each other, they look forward to new experiences together, they look forward to meeting each other’s families… Forward, forward, FORWARD!

You won’t be waking up yesterday with someone or going on a date last week. When thinking about staying with or getting back with someone, think about whether or not you are looking forward to anything with them. That’s a much better measure than the history you have.

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

The Real on Reality TV

I fell off of the reality TV bandwagon somewhere between Flavor of Love and its spin-off, Charm School. It’s hard for me to sit through an entire episode of most shows, let alone watch an entire season of a reality TV show. With the exception of every Real Housewives franchise (my guilty pleasure), I’ve caught only bits and pieces of most black reality shows from For the Love of Ray J and I Love New York to Basketball Wives and Love and Hip Hop.

I’m not tuned into reality TV every night, but I read blogs every day. Every day I read about the problems with these shows ― how bad they make black women look, that the shows are scripted, the drama isn’t real…and the list goes on. The truth is, if black women didn’t act this way, there wouldn’t be a show to tape and it couldn’t be labeled as “reality”. And surely the millions of people watching these shows aren’t simply waiting for one cast member to throw a drink on another and the cat fight that follows. There is a deeper connection between the viewers and the cast.

I caught a scene from Basketball Wives with Tami Roman talking to her mother about sexual abuse that she experienced as a child and how she resented her mother for not being there for her. I could relate to that because of knowing women, black women, which have gone through the same thing. I recently saw Joseline Hernandez in a scene from Love and Hip Hop Atlanta telling her friend that she fell in love with Stevie J because he took her out of a strip club and gave her a chance. She said that anyone would fall in love with someone who did that for them. I could relate to that too because something similar happened to me. Jim Jones’ mom and his fiancée don’t get along, Phaedra Parks’ husband is an ex-con and who doesn’t have a friend like Mimi Faust?

Regardless of whether or not these shows are scripted or how they make black women look, some of the issues that are addressed on these shows are REAL and relatable and that may be the hold that these shows have on black female viewers. All of us aren’t willing to air our dirty laundry on TV, but some of these women have something in common with some of us and that’s not a problem, that’s reality.

Most of the cast members on these shows have nothing to lose by participating in them anyway. Being on a reality show has given some of them opportunities they may not have had otherwise. I’m just waiting to see who will be the first black female reality TV star to turn that fame into something really real, a la Bethenny Frankel and Skinnygirl Cocktails.

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

The Truth About Baggage

Baggage, it’s the term given to emotional issues that stem from past relationships brought into a new relationship, not getting over painful memories and mistrust for example. The general consensus on baggage is that it’s a women’s issue. Women are walking around carrying their emotional scars from one man to the next and these scars give them low self-esteem and make them clingy and irrational…which then makes it impossible for them to have healthy relationships.

While this is certainly true, women aren’t the only ones carrying baggage. Are there more women carrying baggage than men? Maybe, but men are definitely carrying baggage too.  The difference is that when a man has low self-esteem, is clingy or irrational in his behavior etc. he is just considered “lame” or a “good guy” that no woman wants because we’re only attracted to “bad boys”.  Whatever dude, I’m not buying it.

The truth is every, and I mean EVERY adult has baggage. Baggage doesn’t only come from past sexual relationships, it comes from every relationship that we’ve ever had including relationships with our parents and even teachers and bosses. We’re all human and made up of chemicals and hormones. It’s natural for us; both men and women to be affected by our life experiences and to have them direct our behavior in the future. Some of us just have more experiences than others.

Emotional scars function much like a physical scar on the skin. When you get cut or burned and your skin is scarred, you might put some ointment or cream on it but it usually stays there. It may lighten up, but it takes a long time to go away and may not go away at all. Anyone who sees your skin will see that scar. When someone is scarred emotionally, it might be covered up in various ways but the pain stays there and anyone who comes in contact with those emotions will see the scars in some way.

I guess nobody ever told you, all you must hold on to, is you, is you, is you.”  ̶  Erykah Badu, “Bag Lady”

This is one of my favorite song lyrics. No one ever told me, and I’m going to guess that no one ever told you either. This is the hardest part of having baggage, knowing how to carry it. It’s so natural to hold on to things and carry them into new relationships when all you should be bringing to a new relationship is yourself. It’s hard to take the emotion out of experiences and appreciate it just for what it truly is, an experience, whether it was good or bad. Since none of us is perfect, what we should be doing is trying to understand each other’s experiences, not judge each other by them.

That’s not to say that anyone should be forced to deal with anyone’s issues. Some things may be too much for you to handle and that’s fine. Baggage is also not only emotional, it’s physical as well. Debt and addiction can also be considered baggage but those topics are for another article. Thank Greg Johnson for this one 🙂

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

Hard Knock Wife

If you’re single, in your late twenties or early thirties, have a decent  job and you carry yourself well, you probably get asked why you’re not  married or in a serious relationship all the time. If you’re anything like me you hate that question and the “something must be wrong with you” look that usually comes after it. A man once asked me why I chose to work and be single instead of being a housewife. Excuse me, who told you that I chose this?

Excluding the SATC Samantha Jones types, women do want to be married or in a serious relationship. The reason that some women aren’t really is because something is or was wrong with them. It’s sad to admit that the problem that a lot of women have comes from the woman that was supposed to love and guide them―their mother.

I know too many women that were forced to become women way too fast because of their mother’s selfishness. Try being eighteen years old and coming home to an empty house because your mother decided to up and move to another state on a whim or suddenly becoming the bread winner of your household at twenty years old, responsible for all the bills in the house that you share with your mother.

It becomes difficult to find something in common with a young man your age when he is living at home, going to college and has the full support of one or both of his parents while you’re worrying about how to keep your lights on and college is just not an option. At that point men aren’t for sharing or building a relationship with, their purpose becomes what they can do for you, when and how. Life’s innocence is lost― bitterness, anger and confusion set in and it’s all downhill from there. That bitterness, anger and confusion stays with women until they realize it and do something about it. And that is the “something” that is wrong with some women.

Some mothers seem to think that when their children reach a certain age the roles somehow reverse. Women that do this to their daughters have their own issues that make them unable to recognize the damage they’re doing. There are enough things to worry about when girls are making the transition to women. Mothers shouldn’t be giving their daughters extra hard knocks. We often hear about the importance of children having a father in their life for emotional support  but an emotionally stable and supportive mother is just as, if not more important.

I don’t know about women raising men with no male figures, but I believe that a single woman can raise a girl to be a phenomenal woman if she herself is emotionally stable and remembers what her role is. One of the most thought provoking things I’ve ever read is a paragraph in a book called Women Have All The Power, Too Bad They Don’t Know It, by Michael Lockwood. It says:

“Although man was ordained by God to be the leader of his home, a good woman is truly the strength, the glue and the backbone that allows it to thrive. What use is a head without a strong body? Think about it. There are plenty of families who survive with shiftless husbands and wonderful wives, but how many marriages do you know that actually survive with a strong husband and trifling wife? The woman is the most important ingredient.”

Although this is speaking about the wife in a marriage, it speaks volumes to the overall role of a woman in a home. Mother’s, know your role!

I could write an entire book on this, that’s just what I might do…

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

Like on Top

Most people, especially men, would agree that a good friendship is the basis for a lasting relationship. Ask any man that’s been happily married for more than five years what it is that keeps his marriage alive and you will get the same answer, “She’s my best friend.”

So if all it takes is a friendship to have a lasting relationship, why is it so hard for so many people to have lasting relationships, but so easy to have friendships that span decades.  How is a friendship different than a relationship-friendship? Why does it seem that we like our friends in a different way than we like our boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, partners etc.? I don’t know the answer to either of those questions, what I do know is this: There is a big difference between liking someone and loving them, and it’s the like that will keep two people together, not the love.

I know, I know, love conquers all and it can move mountains…but think about it. Do you have family members that you love but absolutely cannot stand being around? You love them but you don’t like them. And trust that a woman in love will accept and be patient with a man that isn’t treating her right, but the minute she stops liking him, it’s over.

Have you ever heard about something bad that happened to an old friend, maybe an ex, and you immediately felt bad for them even though you hadn’t seen or spoken to him or her in years? That’s because you have love for them, but you’re not in love with them and you wouldn’t necessarily enjoy being around them either—you don’t like them anymore.  You can have love, it’s not fleeting and it can be kept for someone forever regardless of whether or not you are with them.

Like on the other hand, comes and goes, but it’s more important than love for a relationship to last. Sometimes love is just simply not enough. For two people to stay together, they have to like each other. They have to like talking to each other, like being around each other, like helping each other, like the sex they have with each other, they have to like the person that the other person is when they’re not together.  If love were enough there wouldn’t be so many men cheating on women that they love with a woman they like, but that’s another topic.

Don’t misunderstand me. This is not to say that you either have to love or like someone and that you can’t have both these things in one relationship. You can, that’s the ideal situation. It’s just my humble opinion that liking someone trumps love for a relationship to last.

 

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria

 

The State of our Union

By the time I got home from class last night I wasn’t able to watch all of President Obama’s State of the Union address. I did catch a lot of clips  and I saw the many posts on Facebook and Twitter. People tweeted and re-tweeted that BET should have aired the State of the Union live instead of the popular sitcom, “The Game”. My question is why, because Barack Obama is black? BET is Black Entertainment Television. The State of the Union isn’t necessarily considered entertainment.  Would we care about whether or not BET aired a State of the Union address ifJohn McCain had won the election?

While it’s great to see so many of us supporting our leader, if we’re going to be engaged in politics and policy let’s do so because we want to truly make a difference. Or to educate ourselves so we can conduct our lives in a way that is most beneficial to us, not simply because our president is black, mulatto if you want to be specific.

The best way for us to support him is not to only vote for him and to watch his speeches, but by voting in our local and state elections as well. I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and I will be voting for him again this year.  However, I also voted for Alex Sink, Kendrik Meek and Frederica Wilson in the 2010 Florida state elections because I want as many Democrats to occupy as many seats as possible to support him.

We don’t know what this year’s election cycle will bring. We must continue to support President Obama and do all that we can to have him serve a second term. Not just to lengthen the legacy of what is undoubtedly a great achievement in African-American history, but to also to show our support for what we believe is right for our country.

What we do know is that Barack Obama will not be our president come January 2017 and his replacement probably won’t be another African-American.  Don’t let the conversation end with him. Let’s stay engaged regardless of who are president is and what his or her race may be.

This is just my opinion, feel free to disagree.

Kisses,

Adia Kamaria