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Debate: Is Bruno Mars’ Album for the Culture or Nah?

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Although Bruno Mars’ album, XXIV was released in late 2016, it is still very much a hot topic discussion. Especially since Bruno (whose government name is Peter Gene Hernandez) swept the Grammy Awards, beating out other record breakers such as Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar. There is an ongoing debate about if it’s for the culture or not. Was it appropriation, appreciation or was Bruno just being himself?

Over the past few weeks, I have spent my time listening to XXIV very slowly. I eased into it like a tub of hot water. I soaked in it, steeped myself into it just to immerse my brain and body into it fully. Yes, I’m a part-time poet, too.

The album only has 9 tracks and is a little over 30 minutes long. So it doesn’t take long to get through the entire album without skipping a song. I love the album! Every track is unique and the influences behind them are quite obvious. People argue that black male singers have been doing this for years and they have not been rewarded in the same way that Bruno has. I agree, but is that technically his fault?

Can you imagine Trey Songz, August Alsina, Tory Lanez, or Bryson Tiller doing a song like 24K Magic, Perm, Chunky, or Finesse? Share on X

Yes, Bruno does not look like the typical male R&B singer, so that does have a lot to do with his success. One could also argue that most mainstream R&B sounds like singing hip-hop. As Quincy Jones said, the artists of today don’t study the past. In addition to this, I think the style of XXIV is something only Bruno could have pulled off successfully. Imagine Trey Songz, August Alsina, Tory Lanez, or Bryson Tiller doing a song like 24K Magic, Perm, Chunky, or Finesse. Their fanbase probably would have said that it was super corny and lame. I feel like there’s a discussion about masculinity here, but that’s definitely not my realm of expertise, so I’ll be quiet. To be honest, when 24K Magic came out, I thought it was extremely lame/dated, but it grew on me.

For those of you who follow L&HH Miami, on the latest episode there was a situation in regards to colorism and appropriation. (Check out Justin’s Review HERE.) Veronica Vega is a Latina who is rather fair skinned and believes that she has the right to use the “N” word. She grew up around a lot of blacks and latinxs, who have always said the word without a problem. She believes that when she is out and about in the world, people don’t care that she has a light complexion. They will still look at her the same way they would look at a darker skinned person and judge/stereotype her accordingly. Bruno Mars isn’t light skinned and physically he looks very much Hispanic/Filipino. Can he successfully benefit from privilege due to his appearance alone? I would argue no.

Lastly, but not least, over the past few years celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus have co-opted black culture. Once they got tired of twerking and “having a thang for black women”, they “cleaned up” their image and turned back into the innocent boy/girl next door. After the hype and success of this album dies down, can Bruno transform into the boy next door?

We all understand the fact of the matter that Bruno is not black and I don’t think he identifies as black. He made a really good album and the target audience was black. The proof is in the pudding: In “Chunky”, he says he’s looking for the girls with the big ol’ hoops. In “Perm” he says “Put some perm on your attitude, girl you gotta relax”, “Finesse” was in the style of Teddy Riley/Babyface & New Jack Swing, and “Too Good to Say Goodbye” was obviously a nod to the Jackson 5. All of those are things mostly black people would understand and appreciate. In my opinion, I think it was an appreciation for the past. And to boot, every song on the album was written and produced by men of color. Mars also publicly thanked Babyface (who sings background vocals on the album) as well Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.

What are your thoughts? Was it appreciation or appropriation?

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Rolling Ray Undergoes Surgery After Wig Catches On Fire

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Social media star Rolling Ray underwent surgery Tuesday morning to treat serious burns on his body after his terrible wig accident last week. 

In a series of IG stories, he let his audience follow along as he prepped for surgery.

Last week Rolling Ray announced he was hospitalized after his wig caught on fire! During a January 13 Instagram Live session hosted straight from his hospital bedside, he showed his severely burnt and damaged face telling viewers his “whole skin, legs, arms, feet, and everything” were burned.

In a more recent Live, Ray explained the incident that led to his whole wig catching on fire: an unfortunate smoking accident. “It just, like, lit on fire when I tried to light the cigarette,” he recounted. “So I get to trying to snatch the wig off. B***h, the fire goes to my f*****g shirt, to my feet, to my legs, to my back. It’s a fire everywhere, it’s a fire in the whole room.” 

Of course the internet trolled him in a disgusting display of ableism and heartlessness. Comments like “Rolling Ray should have stopped, dropped, and rolled” and “karma’s a b***h” had social media conflicted in its feelings about his accident. His sensation comes from his harsh and, often, below-the-belt reads (just last month he told Yung Miami to “dig (sic) up” her dead baby father. However, the criticism didn’t stop him from responding on Twitter. 

Rolling Ray might be problematic as all get-out, but we do not tolerate ableism here. We wish him well as he heals.

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Fantasia Reveals Gender of Baby On the Way!

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On Tuesday singer-songwriter and “American Idol” winner Fantasia Barrino took to social media to reveal that she is having a baby girl, her first child with husband Kendall Taylor.

In a series of Instagram stories, Fantasia showed pink fireworks being shot off during a gender reveal party, to her and her hubby’s excitement! She continued by sharing what her daughter-to-be’s name will be: Keziah London Taylor.

The news comes after the couple revealed they had struggled to conceive since their 2015 marriage. During a November episode of her IG Live show “Taylor Talks,” she described continuously praying for a child with her husband. Fantasia, a deeply devout Christian, was obviously elated when she shared the news.

“God I Want To Thank You!” she said in an Instagram caption. “You Gave Us A Seed even when the Doctor said that one of my Tubes [was] Closed you said Different. @salute1st I Love You King and I can’t wait to see who He or She acts Like.”

We can see Fantasia and family are all super excited to be welcoming a baby girl into their lives. All congratulations to her.

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Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Are Getting Divorced, Report Says

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In a story published Tuesday evening, Page Six is reporting that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are getting divorced, with the two already in settlement talks. The news comes after the couple spent the holiday season separately – Kanye at his ranch outside Cody, Wyoming, Kim and the kids with her famous family in southern California. 

A source close to Kardashian was quoted saying, “Kim got Kanye to go up there so they could live separate lives and quietly get things sorted out to separate and divorce. She’s done.” Kardashian, 40, and West, 43, are said to be splitting because of marital problems directly related to Kanye’s very public mental health struggles.

For several years the rapper’s various antics have caused fans to worry. After coming out as a Trump supporter, West then announced his own 2020 presidential bid under a new political party: the Birthday Party. At a campaign rally in South Carolina, he was seen rambling, debating individual audience members, and at times, crying. In various interviews, he has rambled on almost incoherently, and his tweetstorms are now infamous.

For her part, Kim has always supported her husband and has openly discussed the difficulties of their marriage. Back in June, she shared on social media, “Anyone who has [bipolar disorder] or has a loved one in their life who does, knows how incredibly complicated and painful it is to understand… People who are unaware or far removed from this experience can be judgmental and not understand that the individual (has) to engage in the process of getting help no matter how hard family and friends try.”

It appears she has finally reached her limit in the union with the unnamed source saying, “She is serious about taking the bar exam and becoming a lawyer, she is serious about her prison reform campaign. Meanwhile Kanye is talking about running for president and saying other crazy s**t, and she’s just had enough of it.”

Separately, a source close to Kanye alleges the rapper is sick of his wife and her family, which might have some truth to it since he has tweeted some pretty nasty things about them in the past. “I been trying to get divorced since Kim met with Meek at the Warldolf [sic] for ‘prison reform,’” he said in a now-deleted July tweet. Recently, he hasn’t been featured on his wife’s Instagram and has largely remained out of the public eye.

With the news yet to be confirmed, the “divorce is imminent” reports are just rumors for now. We’ll be following the news as more information comes out.

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