Soul Train Music Awards Sunday November 27, 2011
I would rather watch the Steelers against the Chiefs, I was able to break away and see the last 20 minutes of Family Guy. I missed the first 10 minutes because The Soul Train Awards opened the show with The Time; I never miss The Time when they perform. If they are in any city I am in, I am there (The Time and De La Soul love their music and their stage shows). I have seen The Time perform enough to know one thing about them, as long as Morris Day and Jerome are on stage together, any other five dudes can play instruments on stage with them and you still feel like you are seeing The Time. Tonight was different the original members of the group, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Jellybean, and Jesse Johnson (I had forgotten how incredible Jesse was on the guitar, I use to wonder if he beat Prince when it came to playing funk. He does, but nothing else). They are going by the name “Original 7even” because Prince owns the name “The Time” and will not let them use it (so Apollonia or Vanity, if either of you thought about getting the women back together and hit state fairs around the country, think of a name ‘cause Prince ain’t having it).
So I stepped away to watch Family Guy and American Dad, with moments of the Steelers/Chiefs stuck in there. I would step back to The Soul Train Awards enough to see “Mr. Chi-Town” himself Dave Hollister play a Pip in the Gladys Knight tribute, Anthony Hamilton lay down some straight soul which is always a treat. Earth, Wind, and Fire (more Chicago representation) rips it every time. Malcolm Jamal Warner introduced them; I believe he said he owes his acting career to them based on their music because he believed he could be whatever he believed. I am sure Bill Cosby will slap him with a Jell-O Pudding Pop the next time he sees Malcolm (“Come here Theo, how many times do I have to pimp slap you frozen pudding until you give me the credit for your career I deserve? I should have followed my first instinct and cast you as Cockroach!”).
At another point while grabbing some water during a time out or a Family Guy commercial break, I noticed Lloyd and some other nondescript brother, named Miguel, singing. After seeing The Time, Dave Hollister, and some other cats, watching these two dudes all I could say is what any other man would say at that exact moment, “these niggas look like bitches”!
Prince may have looked and even sounded like a woman at points and time in his career, but never that (although not letting The Time be The Time is a bitch move). Lil Kim called herself the “Queen B”, Michael Jackson may have been accused of being one sometimes himself. Hell, in the last 3 NBA Playoffs even LeBron James went out like one. However, never did any of them look like one. Let me clarify, this has nothing to do with manhood, looking or acting like a gender other than yours. This is all about playing a role you have no reason playing (Example: LeBron when he tries to close a game/Mark Anthony trying to tell J-Lo to cover her ass up and stay home/Kanye trying act like he was knocking the stuffing out of Amber Rose). Last year Lloyd was running around with the Young Money crew screaming how he could make the bed rock, this year he is doing splits surrounded by 20 dancers. This other nondescript dude is singing a song about someone to play Connect 4 and I Declare War with. Is this what’s hot? Short answer is no. This is part of the reason record labels don’t think a Stevie Wonder album is a workable project in today’s market and why an artist like Van Hunt can be dropped from a label while he drops slow sultry joints like “Moments of Pleasure” and “Down Here in Hell”. Babyface didn’t have much going for him and his name was “Babyface”, but when he sang “I’ll pay your rent/I’ll buy your clothes” damn it that was real and women wanted to hear it, even if they didn’t believe or think you could financially hold down that level of responsibility it was real and welcome. Unless you are singing to 8-year-old girls, women do not have time for board games, unless it involves vodka and you created some different rules that get everyone drunk.
The nondescript brother jumped out into the crowd and nobody moved or reacted. It is a law at an awards show or any event with more than 8 Black people in the front, that when someone with a microphone walks out into the crowd that people should stand up and treat that nigga like the pope. This nondescript dude jumped into crowd walked halfway up the aisle. Most people tried not to make eye contact with him and I could read the lips of one older sister in the fifth row saying “what the fuck is this bitch doing?” Check your DVR’s tell me she did not say that, she had on a black dress and a silver wig, she looked like a negative.
It is not these two dudes were working their falsetto, that’s cool there is a long line of falsetto singers in soul; Eddie Kendricks, the aforementioned Prince, Maxwell, and the man who may have perfected it El DeBarge. Even Robin Thicke (who looks more and more like his father) came on stage and showed you that a high pitch hitting the right notes can make women sweat and he is a white boy on stage in Atlanta surrounded by brothers, so it is not the voice. Robin Thicke was doing his thing, he owns it with his background he has watched and learned the art of putting on a show. He also understands the importance of being who you are and expressing yourself from where you are at. He had been around for a while trying different styles and trying to please people. When did he ‘hit’? When did he connect with the audience he wanted? When he wrote the song that dropped the mask he was hiding behind and expressed his honest opinion about his wife. He forgot about a big name producer, told the studio musicians to go home, grabbed his guitar and told his wife he would be lost without her and damn what anyone thought about him for saying it. Hello PLATINUM!
Men try to avoid ‘bitch moments’ and actually spend too much energy trying to not have one. When it really simple to not have them, just be who you are and do not worry about the thoughts of others. Again, this is not about gender issues or perceived masculinity. In the Black community, what being a man is would confuse all involved in the conversation. Nobody wants to be called a sissy. The most beloved singer of the last quarter century for us was Luther Vandross, he was surrounded by rumor, the type of rumors that can kill a rappers career or make some teenage boys a target in their community. I do not think he let the rumors stop him; I do not think he truly cared. That scene at the end of Barbershop where Eddie was about to comment against Luther and the barbers and customers told him to not go there… written in the truth. Luther was who he was, Luther was not a bitch.
Award shows have really fallen off, they were once must see events. I believe the death of award shows can be added to the list of things the internet killed. Why sit through 2 hours of badly read bad jokes from pseudo stars that can’t read a teleprompter, when you can wait until the next morning at work and see the list of winners on your desk computer at work. When you hear someone gave an outstanding performance or someone had an embarrassing moment (look at that J-Lo gets 2 mentions from me. How is that Fiat endorsement looking now?) you can pull them up on YouTube. Question, are you going to pull up the performances of Lloyd and that one nondescript brother? Answer, no. How do I know that is your answer, because there is a written rule for both men and women… we do not have time for bitches.