New Mom Realities: Stuff I Had No Clue Bout’

1. Like seriously, people are very kind in desiring to love and care for your child through the art of babysitting. However though, you have to know what you want and need for the proper care of your little one. Some of those little intricate details you kinda don’t realize until something occurs and you’re like wow I should tell them I don’t like that.

One of the interesting things I’ve noticed is that there are people who believe they can raise your children better than you. Even if they mean well, I don’t like it. One moment it can be the thought that I don’t give my son the right food or the right drink or too much of it. Another moment it’s that I need to discipline him more or not allow him to do x,y,z.

Here’s the thing: I am his mother.

When I say that, every ounce of blood in my body is ignited with the passion of motherhood and “momma-bearness”. I am his mother. I carried him close to my heart for 9 months, he was given to my husband and I to shepherd through this life, I labored for 18 hours, and I pushed that brown baby boy OUT. I am his mother. Anyone who lovingly would like to care for him while his parents go out or take a break…we are so grateful. However, we are his parents.

I am his mom. I’ve learned in the almost 10 months of his life that I have to be very clear about how we would like our boy to be cared for and if we haven’t given the ok for something, how to go about getting the ok. Otherwise, we will not feel comfortable leaving him with someone we believe will treat him differently when we are not around because they think they know what’s best for our child.

It is such a learning experience and I am thankful to be a part of this journey.

2. Church life is different. Mannnnnn I come to church and listen to the sermon from the lobby because my baby boy is too turnt up for the mommy room and the auditorium! Lol he enjoys crawling and screaming and having the time of his life as our lobby is huge and carpeted with space to play and be jolly. I don’t blame him tho, I would too if I didn’t have to be a responsible grown up lol

Seriously tho, I am learning so much from this new arrangement. The lobby is a place where wonder happens. It’s the place where people come in and you have the opportunity to show hospitality at the moment they enter. It’s where people go to sit when the music is too loud and where people go who need a change of environment where they can usually listen better. It’s where moms go with their strollers and their coffee and where teenagers sit when they don’t wanna be at church with their parents. It’s where you can eat snacks galore because there are trash cans and freedom to eat eat eat!

In other words, it’s an amazing place to have unlikely conversations, make new friends with many people who are searching for community, talk to new moms and get tips and be exhausted together. Meet new couples and new members. Talk to the security guys or the people who serve every Sunday at the front desk. Soo many people in different spots in life. So many awkward folks who just need love from folks who won’t treat them like they’re weird.

So what I learned is this: when it’s time for me to hit the lobby on a Sunday, I make myself open and available. As scary as that can be because I’d rather not talk and just be reserved. But now I make myself available and seek to reach out to at least one person I don’t know well. Sometimes saying hello is all a person needs. Or asking them how their day is going and really listening. Complimenting their choice of scarf or commenting on their smile.

The lobby is where the no-pressure ministry happens.

And there’s more where that came from.

Currently reading: Darkest America, Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip Hop

Written by Yuval Taylor and Jake Austen

Jennifer Hudson is JHUD: Album Review

"Don’t be offended, this is all my opinion, ain’t nothing that i’m saying law." -India Arie

image

*sidebar* Is this cover fly or what? She better serve! 

(back to our scheduled program)

Chaka Khan, Donna Summers, The Pointer Sisters, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, and Motown are all musical influences I noticed on this latest offering from Jennifer. 

This album is a grown woman album. In an old skool kinda way. It grows on you and it’s a good solid album. Well done Jennifer. You put work in.

Is it my favorite? No. Of the three albums she has released, the second album would be my favorite (followed by Dreamgirls Soundtrack because the songs were written for a big voice like hers) but I like this album for a Saturday morning around my house. Every album can’t make it to Saturday morning rotation so that’s no light thing. For a few years now we have watched Jennifer try to find her way musically in an industry where there aren’t many who can light a candle to her vocal prowess. There have been many hits and misses. Some songs have been more “meh” than “ayyyy!!” and other songs have been perfect for her voice. David Guetta scored when he invited Ms. Hudson to feature on his dance track “Night of Your Life”. IMO they were on to something. Something sweet. 

p.s. she also has a track on the last album called “Everybody Needs Love” that’s in the same vein. Dope song. 

Enter the latest JHUD, and some of those sweet spots have been captured. The album has a very neo-disco-dance-flashback r&b feel to it. Like I said before, a lil Donna, a lil Marvin, a lil Michael, a lil Motown and some current r&b sensibilities give this album an interesting twist (hi hat, drum, crash). I don’t hate it. It’s just different. As I listened to the album a third time, there were many things to appreciate.

She did the right thing to have a solid ten songs. Nothing more, nothing less. Perfect.

Chord progressions (thanks Pharrell & Timbo), background vocals that take you on an adventure, harmonies, and the overall vocal performance on the album can’t be denied. “He Ain’t Going Nowhere” (the Iggy song) has some church choir squallin’ harmonic churchtasticness you can’t deny. Peep that one when you get a chance if you’re churchy. Overall, the songwriting isn’t amazing but for the neo disco feel, it doesn’t necessarily need to be. I could have done without the features from Iggy and R Kelly. Why? Because nope. No shade, but Iggy’s rapping can be a bit…loud? Does that make sense? I mean it wasn’t a horrible addition to the song, it just felt random. R Kelly…I mean I get it but…fine. Adding T.I to the “I Can’t Describe” was gorgeous to me. He fit like a glove into the fabric of the song. I couldn’t imagine another rapper as a feature. But that’s just me. 

The vocal work on the track “Say It” (shout out to Michael Jackson), I had to rewind it back. I forget how that in-the-crevice sangin’ is hard to come by so you gotta lean in when you can! “Bring Back the Music” is smooth as all smooth out and very reminiscent of Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me”. 

I had to give the album a thorough listen for the third time. I genuinely like Jennifer as a human, so I really wanted to give her my respect even if it’s not my favorite. I probably like the album way more than I did before. 

"Walk It Out" is one of my favorites. I usually don’t use this term but to me it’s actually quite sexy and reminds me of my husband. I also believe achieving sexiness in a song is not easy and shouldn’t be thrown around and assigned to any and every song. There is a vocal+musicality equation that has to be effectively worked out in a song in order for it to achieve true sexiness. It cannot just be a matter of tiny sultry singing with a slow 808 beat. There is an art to it. Holla at me on a later post and I will elaborate further. But that’s just me though. 

Stand out tracks that I shall crank on my system are (mostly because I’m a music nerd and love the 60s-80s era of music): 

"Dangerous"

"Walk it Out" (shoutout to Justin Timberlake!),

"I Can’t Describe" (Yo T.I.!),

"I Still Love You" (reminds you of Heaven Knows, remember Faith Evans killed this song???) 

"Bring Back The Music"

"Say It"

That’s six songs out of ten.  

Special nod to the last song on the album “Moan”. Gospel influenced and obviously dedicated to her late mother. Beautifully written, passionately performed, and well placed on the album, this song is a gem with the signature Jennifer Hudson “she SANG that” touch. 

You know what? I like it better than the first album and I respect it as a third album. The album is vocally prominent. She manages to not over or under sing. Vocal control like a BOSS. For the most part, she uses her voice like the muscle it is and reminds us why it was a great idea she DID NOT win American Idol and get stuck on that awkward we-have-no-idea-what-to-do-with-you island that so many American Idol alums are living on. 

As a fellow artist, I love that she is trying new sounds and concepts. Everybody is not going to like it, but hey you gotta give things a try. 

Apparently Pharrell had in mind to revive the vintage disco sound. I’d say they are on the right track and I look forward to seeing where this goes. If anyone can do it, she can. 

JHUD, Jennifer Hudson in stores now! 

I am currently listening to Jennifer Hudson’s album a third time. I really wanna give it a strong listen before I make a final judgement. I have thoughts already.

I wanna understand her vision with this, or at least try.

Just heard Wendy Williams comment about Jordin Sparks breaking up with Jason. Her perspective is that Jordin is 24, too young to be married, with a purity ring and she should get out there in the world and experience life the way she (Wendy) did when she was that young. That comment was a tad irritating. Ladies, experiencing LIFE does not mean you have to be promiscuous or sleep with a few guys first. Life is so much more than sex. You are so much more than a sexual being, thus you shouldn’t be ruled by your sexuality. If you want to have a purity ring, or wait until your married…do that. Don’t feel shame for doing that. Feel confident not arrogant or self righteous. Feel loved and accepted. Know that you don’t have to give in or budge on your personal convictions because people say you’re crazy. People said I was crazy too, but by the grace of God, I didn’t budge. This applies to any woman who decided to wait. Whether she had sex before or not. If you decide to wait…own that decision. Go live.

The Way I See It: An Artists Prerogitive

I love music and culture. I love talking about music and artists and what sounds authentic and what doesn’t and what’s a great song and what isn’t and themes and songwriting and blending and vocal control and…all that jazz.

However, as an artist myself, I often have ideas and concepts I want to figure out and try. I don’t always make music for y’all to like. For the most part I make music when I have something I want to say or when I hear music or a track or a sentence or an emotion that pulls my heart and causes a melody to appear out of thin air.

All of this to say, sometimes I care what people think about it and at one time I cared a little too much. At this point in my life as a wife, mother, and evolving artist, I won’t say I don’t care but I care more about what I have to say and how I want to say it. The people who enjoy my music enjoy it because of what I have to say and how I choose to share that message. They are interested in my art because it’s my art. They will have opinions and likes and dislikes but I think that’s the beauty of it. Freedom to enjoy or hate it but still love the artist. Of course tho, put your heart into it and create quality art.

In the real world that’s how things work. I love me some Brandy, Lauryn, and Prince but I don’t LOVE every single thing they do. However, I love them as people so I always want to hear what they have to say BEFORE I decide I’m just gonna skip that song next time.

I was thinking about this because I want to make sure I’m not just blasting true artists when they experiment and try new sounds even if I hate it. I can’t even talk smack because I try new sounds all the time and some of them are really good and some of them aren’t but my goal is to say what I need to say and I should realize that about other artists.

Musiq soulchild (and a bunch of other artists) are experimenting right now. My answer to that is…fine. Do your thing bruh, you have a dope catalog, go and be Batman! I have confidence in the potential of it because he is a real songwriter and some of the crap on the radio could you an upgrade. I just hope he doesn’t dumb down his writing and music in order to make this transition. I prob won’t like all of it, but hey…go try stuff.

Talib Kweli wrote one of the illest pieces on Lauryn Hill where he talks about creating as an artist and what we owe our fans/supporters and what we don’t owe them. Great perspective. I do think there are certain respectful gestures an artist can make with their supporters in mind like being on time for a show and working hard to make the show great…

Anyway, I just needed to say that.

The temptation and eventual downfall of the highly talented individual…is the lie that you don’t have to work hard or create space for what you do because it should come to you. Call it pride. Call it entitlement. Call it fear.

But whatever you call it, it is one of the quickest ways to waste your life and your talent.

So what are you gonna do?

Read The Label…

I have a vested interest in artists. Artists of all kinds, but in this post I want to specifically talk about recording artists. 

I need to say a couple of things. 

In my circle, I am blessed to know some of the illest MCs and vocalists in my generation. Vocalists, lyricists, songwriters, musicians…just all around beautiful creators of game changing style. But you know what gets my blood heated? When a “record label” desires to sign one of these dope artists, and then have no idea what to do with them, how to manage them, or how to listen to them. I feel the same way about major recording artists who have the resources to do all types of monumental amazingness but somehow end up either put on the shelf or stuck with lazy lyrics and a sleepy image. 

Back to the message at hand though…that’s the stuff I don’t like. Most of my homies make music from the heart and really believe in what they are doing. They surround themselves with people who see their vision and want to see them succeed and share that vision with the world around them. They surround themselves with people (for the most part) who have their best interest at heart. 

All I am trying to say is this is frustrating. I wish labels would pursue artists they actually believe in and want to support. It’s like a really precious expensive cut of steak. You may marinate or season it and then throw it on the grill but ultimately its the cut of the steak that makes the steak legit. It’s the quality of the steak, you just brought out it’s beauty. This is what I need record labels to do better at. Instead, it’s either all about making money off of a “hit” song or a mediocre single OR an artist and their talents are being held hostage with no resources and no attention being paid to them. What the heck for? It’s kind of like when my brother told me he wanted the new Jordans in order to wear them to school once to let everyone know he had them. *facepalm*

Beautiful art needs air to breathe. Artists…please be very very careful who you rock with and who you sign with. Read those contracts even if it takes you a month. Get a lawyer that you can trust. In the end, it will be worth it. Creative control is worth it. Authenticity is worth it. Sometimes, going into these contracts, you have no idea it’s gonna be dumb. You have no idea things are gonna go downhill because they talk such a good game in the beginning. I feel like there’s an answer for that too. See how interested they are in your work and who you are as a person and try to negotiate a contract that has your protection in mind, their investments, and some leeway to not be stuck with them forever in debt if the deal goes sideways. How fair is it that you do all the work and only see a small fraction of the money you made? (provided you’re that type of artist. This stuff matters.) Go talk to some other artists who have worked with them, give a fair investigation for yourself before signing away. Don’t be so anxious to sign to a label that you end up wasting two-three years of your energy on just trying to get them to look at you. 

I remember finding out all of the hassle, stress and pressure JoJo went through in order to get out of her contract with her label. It was dumb. This outrageously gifted vocalist stuck in limbo all these years because they wouldn’t let her out of her contract nor would they support her work or let her be herself. Hated it. I’m glad she’s free now. You can hear the freedom in her latest musical contributions. Amen for that. Emily King is another example. The label wanted her to be someone she isn’t. Her music sounds like EMILY now. Free. 

If you’re independent, make the most of it. Train hard, work hard, surround yourself with truthful folks who love you and won’t let you do something that’s not smart. Money is wonderful but if you love it too much, you’ll get lost. As an independent artist, yea things can be expensive sometimes and it’s an uphill battle at times but guess what? It all belongs to you. You don’t owe anyone anything and you don’t have to fight for a spot. Learn all you can learn about your craft, find a mentor, get in the library and hone your skills. 

If you get signed, that’s dope. Make sure it’s smart for both parties. If you don’t get signed, that’s dope. Push your limits, break the rules, and build a brand and a sound that’s going to mean something later. Build something that will teach, that will make us feelsomething. Something. And for goodness sake, tell the truth always. Whatever it is. Build it with the tools you have now. Don’t wait, because time waits for nothing. 

Oh! Don’t forget to read those labels if you want to know what it’s made of. It’s right in front of your face if you open your eyes.

He’s Just Not That Into You

This week, I’ve been watching a few shows with my sister. One of them being Love & Hip Hop Hollywood. Now, I’ve heard that a lot of these shows are scripted, so I get it. However, I bet some of that dialogue is legit and I know for a fact that some of the philosophies of life these women have is the norm.

I speak about the women because I truly care about the women. Watching these shows, there is a common theme with a lot of them that makes me irritated and sad at the same time.

Time and time again, you see the ladies on the show, minus maybe two of them, basically not getting the memo that the men they are dating or dated aren’t interested in them. 

At least two of the women are trying to convince the man that he should make her his official girlfriend. All of this while knowing these men are known to be “playas”. Not to mention, these men have verbally said they don’t want to be tied down, they enjoy going from woman to woman, and are comfortable with that set up. To see these women basically begging is disheartening and frankly just dumb. 

It’s some of the dumbest mess I’ve ever seen. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am not throwing shade but what I AM doing is saying, “Baby, he ain’t worth the heartache. He told you what he wants, and you won’t believe him. Move on to something better.” That’s all I want to say. These guys are telling these girls out here that they don’t want anything other than friends with benefits and these women keep getting upset whena he doesn’t want a relationship. But he told you though. Come on now. 

Maybe it’s because when many of us were kids, if a boy pushed you down or teased you, somewhere somehow an adult told us it was because he liked us. SMH and now those kids have grown up and we are all out of our minds.

The other situation is the ex boyfriend who has stated that he doesn’t want anything to do with her outside of being cordial and she insists on being disrespectful, violent, and showing up reminiscing about why he doesn’t want to be with her. It has been 8 months with no contact with each other. For the sake of your sanity and your heart, I need you to let it go. 

When a man says he doesn’t want more than a friendship or a sexship…that’s exactly what he means. And why should he change that relationship anyway if he’s already getting what he wants from you? 

Unless he’s actually interested, it’s just on to the next girl. You, and only you, have control over your body and who you give your heart to. If he breaks it and tramples it underfoot, yea he’s responsible but he did tell you he was a bulldozer. 

I get it, I really do. Every woman wants to be loved. Some of us want to be loved by one particular guy and him only. Some of us only want the flashy guy because he’s got money and influence. 

Bottom line is: When he says he doesn’t want a relationship, STOP translating that to mean he loves you and wants to marry you tomorrow. STOP translating that to mean that he just has to be convinced of what he really wants because ya’ll have been messing around with each other for years now. You have an adult decision to make. If he wants you, he won’t let anything stop him from being with you. He will remove all obstacles. Get you some friends who got good sense and won’t let you be dumb. Listen to those friends. It’s gonna be painful but, in the long run at least your heart won’t be collecting dust and debris in some mans treasure chest instead of beating in your chest.

He doesn’t deserve the honor. 

These Words Are Offensive. So Stoppit.

shegottawrite:

Trailer trash. “Blonde”. Ghetto. Nigga/Nigger. Chinks/Ching Ching. Cracker. 7-Eleven/Quik-E-Mart clerk.

There are so many others.

We can change this by simply changing our thinking and calling out anyone who sees fit to exercise their desires to be offensive. How do you change your thinking?…

The Jonah Complex

shegottawrite:

I remember a few years ago, I was in a bible study. Someone texted me about two celebrities getting into a fight. I remember jumping online to see what happened and being shocked and appalled and sad. Naturally, my thoughts go to the fact that we are in a bible study, these are two people who are…

"Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it."
- Hebrews 13:2 (via allibunni)

(via thelittlesheff)