April 23, 2014

Old school music

Today as I drove my children to their track practice and flipping through the radio stations, I came across an old hip hop song called “Get Up” by Salt and Pepa.  As I listened and sang along word by word, I noticed my daughter looking and cringing at me as if she were thinking how uncool her mom was.  I explained to my 12 year old daughter that songs like these were the very songs that defined my growing up.  These songs were not too vulgar (if at all), and boasted of nothing but having good pure fun.  Now, I make it my duty to educate my children on the power that “Old school hip hop and R&B” has on me and the many people in my generation and some of the generation before me.  My daughters have also grown up to these songs as they are played in heavy rotation in my house.  I do use discretion for some of the songs can be a bit out there, but for the most part my kids get the drift.  My oldest definitely loves to listen to old school R&B.  She sometimes likes to show off that she knows everything there is to know about the genre (you ain’t there yet boo, but keep trying).  She says her friends call her an old soul when it comes to music.  My middle daughter has two favorite hip hop songs, “La-Di-Da-Di” by Doug E Fresh and Slick Rick (clean version) and “Super Sonic” by J.J. Fad. She can wear out an iPod with those.  She just asked me to upload the Salt n Pepa song on her mp3.   My baby loves to listen to Michael Jackson.  I even have a video of her when she was 2 years old singing “Beat It” posted on my FB page.  It broke her little heart when he died, as I’m sure it did with millions of little children just learning about this great master of music. Though she still listens to Michael she has become a new fan of Pink now.

Every chance I get, I try to school these young-uns on the history of music  because I think that music plays such an important role in our lives.  Your born hearing melodies that wake you up, Teach you to play, and lull you to sleep.  As a youngster music teaches you the alphabet, about history,  and how to play well with others.  In your teenage years, music helps you bond with others and introduces you to your first  love. As an adult, music helps you get over heartache, celebrate life, and reminisce the many years of joy and pain.  Someone once said that music is the soundtrack of life and all that it entails and I believe that this next generation needs to respect its origins by learning as much as they can about it.  I believe the music that is out today, though some are still quite tasteful, disrespects the old school somewhat by taking songs to the extreme. Many lyrics today leave absolutely noting to the imagination.  I am all for freedom of speech, but I also believe that a good song doesn’t have to explain exactly how you want to do-me-and-screw-me-till-the-walls-fall-down-and-neighbors-call-the-cops.  I believe we have lost the romance that once was real music.  I would like to give credit for all of the new school artists who still pay homage to the old school and keep it clean or at least don’t go by the way of the sleazy.  Artists such as Jill Scott, Amel Larrieux, Alicia Keys, Raheem DeVaughn, Music Soulchild, India Arie, Rashaan Patterson, Ne-Yo and the list goes on.  Those artists are a welcome favorite in my house.   Believe it or not, I still love to listen to hip hop but now I’m very choosy about who gets play in my house.  Common, Kanye, The Roots, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli are masters who not only have great flow they have great messages that should be heard.

I have been brought up knowing that music can set the mood for many a situation. It is the best pick-me-up, the best friend, the best healer we have. I will continue to bump it in my jeep, blast it on my stereo (LOL), and rock to it on my mp3, but most of all share it with the next generation so they can hear true music and how it should be.

Black, Gay and Brilliant Redux

I saw this film on a Sunday in mid-June and was moved on more levels than this post alone can capture. Being Black-or of color in general, and different carries a uniquely burdensome stigma within our community. Without sounding exclusionary, and writing only from my own experiences of being Black and different, I found this film a head-noddingly accurate depiction of the seldom bespoken caveats.

Brother to Brother is the semi-fictitious narrative tale of friendship between recently denounced gay art student, Perry and a now homeless Richard Bruce Nugent; famed Harlem Renaissance pioneer. The fortuitous union of these two brilliant minds is where the story begins; at the base of the stairs of a brownstone in Brooklyn, New York.

Brother to Brother is a story rich in history, art, culture, love and character. Each of its characters replete with pride, rebellion and joie de vivre; Brother to Brother toggles seamlessly between the present and the past, the real and the imagined. The film dissects and sheds light on the struggle to find the delicate balance of acceptance between two worlds; Blackness and homosexuality. Then and now, the names, faces, and places change but the struggle remains the same.

Wallace Thurman, Langston Hughes, Richard Bruce Nugent, “Perry”, and this film: Black, gay and brilliant!

When I originally penned this review, one of my regular Tea & Honey Bread readers made the following opening statement in his comment: “This is the ‘difference within the difference’”. Compendiously all encompassing; “the difference within the difference”. But how, why? On the heels of the March for Equality, I have to open this up for discussion.

Moms of Hue readers, what are your thoughts on homosexuality? Gay rights and equality? Are we/they different? Or are we all equal? How so, and why?

T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen-Mercado

T.Allen-Mercado is a mixed media artist, award-winning essayist, student of anthropology, blogger, wife and, mother of two.

More Posts

Testing the Ice: A Review

I started collecting children’s books as an adult. Whilst an avid reader in childhood, there were few books that spoke realistically to the life and times of a child of color. With an unwavering respect, there are but so many variations of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy any one child can read. And, don’t even get me started on the po’ woeful we and other assorted Black History month curriculae.

Now my shelves…actually my walls are lined with tales of Anansi, Pemba, Nenny and Laetitia. Stories that tell tales of Gullahs, Black heroes, cassava root and deep cultural roots. I’m honored to recently receive an opportunity to further adorn my walls and enrich my collection. Jackie Robinson’s story of triumph against opposition has been masterfully told through the words of his daughter Sharon Robinson and the phenomenal illustration of Kadir Nelson.

Testing the Ice tells an age old tale of courage and triumph, of strength and, above all grace in the face of adversity. Though written for children, it resonates with the fighter in us all. And, let me just tell you how giddy Yael and I were to know- just like us, Sharon and the other Robinson children once lived in Queens, New York!

Testing the Ice is available for purchase at Amazon.com, and (insert excitement here) I am offering 5 copies in a giveaway over at my home blog, Tea & Honey Bread. Enter [here] for a chance to win a copy of this amazing literary work and up to $50 USD in prizes.

T. Allen-Mercado

T. Allen-Mercado

T.Allen-Mercado is a mixed media artist, award-winning essayist, student of anthropology, blogger, wife and, mother of two.

More Posts