Archives for the month of: February, 2019

I started doing these at work for co-workers while I was avoiding ACTUAL work (cough. I’m certainly not doing that now. I am very productive and busy doing work things). Back before my sissie got all fancy, she’d (very) occasionally help me, so y’all would sometimes get them on days when I wasn’t workin’ away.

BUT THEN, she didn’t have time for the riff raff (aka: ME) and I was on my own*. So that means, that I do them when I have time. And my weekends are my own, so when I’m not here, neither or your facts. WOMP WOMP.

This weekend I scooted up to NorCal to hang with The Boy and see friends/go to a concert. I had some downtime/insomnia, so I also watched The Grammy’s. Which means that YES I watched Diana Ross wish herself a happy birthday.

Anyway. So ‘member when I told y’all that I never know what I’m gonna do my facts on until I start writing them? That is mostly true. Today though, I definitely decided to do a BHFOTD on Motown.

Which. Guys. Motown was originally founded by Berry Gordy Jr. as Tamla Records on January 12, 1959. So, technically, it’s Motown’s birthday (as sung by Stevie Wonder, Motown artist who was AT the 2019 Grammys)!

:::clears throat:::

Berry Gordy got his start as a songwriter for local Detroit acts such as Jackie Wilson and the Matadors. Wilson’s single “Lonely Teardrops”, written by Gordy, became a huge success, but Gordy did not feel he made as much money as he deserved from this and other singles he wrote for Wilson. He realized that the more lucrative end of the business was in producing records and owning the publishing. So, in 1959, Billy Davis and Berry Gordy’s sisters Gwen and Anna started Anna Records. Davis and Gwen Gordy wanted Berry to be the company president, but Berry wanted to strike out on his own. On January 12, 1959, he started Tamla Records, with an $800 loan from his family and royalties earned writing for Jackie Wilson.

Early Tamla/Motown artists included Mable John, Eddie Holland and Mary Wells. “Shop Around”, the Miracles’ first number 1 R&B hit, peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1960. It was Tamla’s first million-selling record. On April 14, 1960, Motown and Tamla Records merged into a new company called Motown Record Corporation. A year later, the Marvelettes scored Tamla’s first US number-one pop hit, “Please Mr. Postman”. By the mid-1960s, the company, with the help of songwriters and producers (Did you know that Smokey Robinson – ALSO at the 2019 Grammys – was a producer at Motown? Me either.), had become a major force in the music industry.

Motown specialized in a type of soul music it referred to with the trademark “The Motown Sound”. Crafted with an ear towards pop appeal, the Motown Sound typically used tambourines to accent the back beat, prominent and often melodic electric bass-guitar lines, distinctive melodic and chord structures, and a call-and-response singing style that originated in gospel music. In 1971, Jon Landau wrote in Rolling Stone that the sound consisted of songs with simple structures but sophisticated melodies, along with a four-beat drum pattern, regular use of horns and strings and “a trebly style of mixing that relied heavily on electronic limiting and equalizing (boosting the high range frequencies) to give the overall product a distinctive sound, particularly effective for broadcast over AM radio”

More importantly, Motown, an African American owned label featuring mostly black music, contributed to the racial integration of popular music that achieved crossover success.

:::closes Wikipedia tab:::

So anyway. Back to the Grammys. They opened with Camila Cabello (Cuban American) singing her hit single (I guess, chile. I never heard of her before Sunday) “Havana” with surprise guests Ricky Martin (Puerto Rican) and J Balvin (Columbian). Which, also, can we all talk about just how FINE Ricky Martin, remains, ooooo? No. Okay.

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There was a Dolly Parton tribute! Honestly, I have always loved her. (heh. It’s still black history month y’all. Even though it’s been a dumpster fire as of late)

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There was also a tiny tribute to Ms. Aretha Franklin, with Yolanda Adams, Fantasia, and Andra Day. [Something Something Full Tribute To Ms. ‘Retha Coming Soon ™]

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And I was like, WOW. Look at Recording Academy, you guys are really REALLY nailing this tribute/representation in music business! Because Honestly, Yolanda and Fantasia are probably some of the best voices to sing an Aretha Franklin song. Like, WHEW. They can SANG A SONG. (Andra Day was wearing the cutest little outfit too!)

So back to the Motown tribute. I cannot think of a better way to congratulate Motown on 60 years of black music that made bands like The Jackson 5 and Diana Ross (and the Supremes *cough*) household names, and not just “race records”, than to do a musical tribute featuring past Motown Artists and new and upcoming black artists singing the songs that made Motown famous. Like, Motown was black owned company in a time when their singers had to use the service entrance, singing black ass songs that your parents (okay, MY parents/your maybe grandparents) grew up on. This was definitely something to honor during Black History Month.

Good job, Grammys!

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[mostly black male backup dancers looking adoringly at white Latina]

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[only black woman backup singer/dancer]

 

 

*yes. I know she wasn’t on the Motown label. I don’t curr. SHE IS AN ICON. AND I CAN ADD HER WHEREVER I WANT. BUT ALSO: Michael McDonald WAS under Motown at some point, so. I still get this one.

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WELL. I DO. Because it seems to be a lot truer than people think. In my case probably more than others, but to be fair: I live in LA and I used to go out an awful lot (HEY. SHUT UP. I mean OUT OUT, not just “I go to a pile of concerts” out) And I have definitely managed to connect people this way every once in a while. For instance, I once connected my sissie to Maurice White (singer of one of my favorite bands: Earth, Wind & Fire) in like three degrees.

BUT. I feel like this week has an ongoing theme and that theme appears to be Janet Jackson (and Super Bowl half time performers), AND I can never EVER resist a chance to poke at my sis, so it would be ridiculous to NOT connect some dots. Are we ready kids?

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that my sis used to date a rapper wayyyyy back in the day? That guy? Was Ras Kass.

And Ras Kass’s song, Ghetto Fabulous featured Dr. Dre.

Who collaborated with 2Pac for California Love

And he was in a movie with…Janet Jackson.

(Listen, if you don’t know WHAT movie, there really isn’t any hope for you)

 

HOWEVER. None of these these could be the BHFOTD because I already did a fact on Ms. Jackson, and Can you imagine 2Pac or Dr Dre doing a Super Bowl performance?  HAHAHAHAHAHA *cough*

BUT. Janet Jackson has a song called Burn It Up, featuring ANOTHER Super Bowl Performer: Melissa “Missy”/”Misdemeanor” Elliott.

Missy  Elliott embarked on her music career with all-female R&B group Sista in the early-mid 1990s and later became a member of the Swing Mob collective along with childhood friend and longtime collaborator Timbaland, with whom she worked on projects for Aaliyah, 702, Total, and SWV. Following several collaborations and guest appearances, she launched her solo career in 1997 with her debut album Supa Dupa Fly, which spawned the top 20 single “Sock It 2 Me”. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, the highest-charting debut for a female rapper at the time. Her 2nd album, Da Real World produced “Hot Boyz”, whose remix broke the record for the most weeks at No. 1 on the US R&B chart TO THIS DAY. The release of the next 3 albums resulted in 5 Grammy Awards and her being the best selling female rapper of all time (in 2017).

Additionally, Missy’s experimental concepts in her music videos changed the landscape of what a hip-hop video had as themes at the time. Her catalogue of songs have included themes of feminism, gender equality, body positivity and sex positivity since the beginning of her career, being one of the first to center on these topics among hip-hop and R&B performers. Performers such as  Destiny’s Child, Eve and Macy Gray have credited her for “clearing a path” in the American music industry towards “their own pop pre-eminence.”

ALSO. Missy is the ONLY female rapper to have six albums certified platinum by the RIAA, and the FIRST female rapper to be inducted into the songwriters Hall of Fame. In 2019.

So there’s your facts ladies and gentlemen. Never underestimate my ability to pull a fact outta my ass, connect some very random dots or drag my sister into my foolishness when she’s probably somewhere workin’ it.. I mean working.

BYYEEEEE…

 

 

 

 

 

 

So the other day Spank and I were having a very random conversation about LL Cool J and his GAP commercial that was FUBU commercial and how this NEVER woulda happened if they had even ONE black person in the room.  And she responded by telling me about a movie made about transgendered folk with NO TRANSGENDERED INPUT and she was not with this at all. Like, AT. ALL. She went on to say that obviously the best person to tell a story about a community would be a person from that community (see: reason I didn’t go see Green Book even though my boo Mahershala Ali is in it and for him I’d definitely… you know what? This isn’t what I came here to talk about), and instead Hollywood keeps giving country to white people when other people are RIGHT THERE ready and willing and CAPABLE of telling their own damn story (that does not center white people…Oh)

And one such person is Janet Mock. Writer, television host, director, producer and transgender rights activist.

Janet (who chose her name after Janet Jackson – I swear that Janet Jackson popping up in all of these facts is pure coincidence. Anybody who knows me well, knows that I do not plan these facts even though I keep saying that I will) began her transition from male to female as a freshman in high school, and funded her medical transition by earning money as a sex worker in her teens.

Mock started working at People magazine, where she was a staff editor for more than five years. Her career in journalism shifted from editor to media advocate when she came out publicly as a trans woman in a 2011 Marie Claire article, written by Kierna Mayo in Mock’s voice. She went on to become a contributing editor at Marie Claire, where she has written articles about racial representation in film and television as well as trans women’s presence in the global beauty industry. In 2012, Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, signed Mock to her first book deal for a memoir about her teenage years which was released as Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More in February 2014. It is the first book written by a trans person who transitioned as a young person. Feminist critic bell hooks referred to Janet’s memoir as, “Courageous! This book is a life map for transformation” while Melissa Harris-Perry said, “Janet does what only great writers of autobiography accomplish—she tells a story of the self, which turns out to be a reflection of all humanity.”

This Janet has also been a VERY BUSY BEE, so some highlights:

  • In 2012, she started a Twitter hashtag to empower transgender women, called #GirlsLikeUs, which received attention from several queer-media sites.
  • In 2014, Mock was featured on the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY magazine along with 13 other transgender women – Laverne Cox, Carmen Carrera, Geena Rocero, Isis King, Gisele Alicea, Leyna Ramous, Dina Marie, Nina Poon, Juliana Huxtable, Niki M’nray, Pêche Di, Carmen Xtravaganza and Yasmine Petty.
  • In 2017, Surpassing Certainty, Mock’s second memoir, was published. The book’s title is an allusion to Audre Lorde, who wrote, “And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

But my favorite thing is this: Janet is a writer, director AND producer on the TV Show, Pose on FX. She is the FIRST Trans woman of color (ahem, Black Woman) hired as a writer for a TV series in history. The series has been congratulated for casting actual trans women in trans roles and for accurately depicting a unique queer subculture. In 2018 Mock directed the episode of Pose titled “Love Is the Message”, thus making her the first transgender woman of color (Hi there! Stop saying woman of color when you mean Black woman Wikipedia! Please and thanks!) to write and direct any television episode.

I know you’re thinking to yourself WTF you mean, highlights?! Like, that’s a pretty big milestone yeah? BUT HERE IS THE THING. 2019 just got started! And it looks like she did too!

Anyway. That’s today’s BHFOTD, folks. Janet Mock is here to slay.

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Protesting the NFL means that I did not see one second of the Super Bowl this year, not even the halftime show which I kinda wanted to see because The Root wrote an article calling Maroon 5:  “The Great Value Rolling Stones”, and “The Dollar Tree Beatles” … and HAHAHAHAHAHA. But then I realized that I’m not even interested enough to even give them halftime ratings. AND I heard that Adam Levine took off his top ON PURPOSE and not at all “accidentally” and well, THEN I was like UH OH. THE FCC IS GOING TO BE UP. IN. ARMS ‘bout dis. And it turns out, nothing. Hm. I wonder why this is different? HAHAHAHA, no I don’t.

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SO THEN, I was thinking to myself…what should I talk about? Because also, A WHOLE BUNCH OF SHIT happened over the weekend. But then I remembered I was here to talk about HISTORY*, not the present. And because it was Super Bowl weekend and apparently #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay exists, but I’d already talked about her (like, seriously dudes. I had ZERO IDEA), I decided I’d talk about another lady with four names who ALSO performed at the Super Bowl (in1996):

Diane Ernestine Earle Ross. Singer, Actress, Record Producer.

What? DIANE? Well, according to Ross, her mama actually named her DIANE, but because people don’t listen, it ended up being recorded on her birth certificate as Diana.  In fact, she was listed as “Diane” during the first Supremes records, and she introduced herself as “Diane” until early in the group’s popularity.

Anyway. Back to my facts. Ms. Diana Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group the Supremes, which, during the 1960s, became Motown’s most successful act, and are the best charting girl group in US history, as well as one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. The group released a record-setting twelve number-one hit singles on the US Billboard Hot 100, going on to become Motown’s most successful vocal act throughout the sixties. Following significant issues with her comportment, weight, and alcoholism, Florence Ballard was fired from the Supremes by Gordy in July 1967. Gordy renamed the group Diana Ross & the Supremes, making it easier to charge a larger performance fee for a solo star and a backing group, as it did for other renamed Motown groups. Gordy initially considered Ross leaving the Supremes for a solo career in 1966 but changed his mind because the group’s success was still too significant for Ross to pursue solo obligations, but by 1968 Diana was performing a solo artist on TV specials. By 1969, she started recording her initial solo work.

Following her departure from THE SUPREMES, Diana released 5 albums in the 70’s, including two soundtracks (Lady Sings the Blues and Mahogany). By this time, she’d also ventured into acting: Lady Sings the Blues, Mahogany, and The Wiz.

AGAIN, because Ms. Diana “The Boss” Ross is a FUCKING LEGEND (and even with all the shit I’m leaving out, there’s still SO MUCH), and I have actual work to do, please to enjoy these fun facts:

  • Diana worked at Hudson’s Department store, where she was the first black employee allowed outside the kitchen.
  • She was the first entertainer in Japan’s history to receive an invitation to the Imperial Palace for a private audience with the Empress Nagako, wife of Emperor Hirohito.
  • She was the first African-American woman to co-host the 46th Academy Awards, with John Huston, Burt Reynolds, and David Niven.
  • Dreamgirls was not about the Supremes. Or Diana Ross specifically. It was just super coincidental that the plot of the musical was VERY SIMILAR to true life events of the Supremes. Down to the character of Deena Jones leaving the Dreams in 1972 to pursue a career as an actress. Like Diana. Who starred in her first motion picture (Lady Sings the Blues) in 1972.
  • Motown: The Musical is a Broadway show that is about the creation of Motown AND Berry Gordy’s romance with Diana Ross.
  • Diana Ross’s sister, Barbara Ross-Lee was the first African American woman to be appointed dean of an American medical school. Yes. I know that this could really be a separate fact, but this is already SO LONG (that’s what she said), that I’d figured I’d give y’all a two-fer in case I don’t get to this tomorrow. Also, did you know that Barbara Ross also had that same long ass gorgeous pile of hair? She did! So I guess it’s no surprise that a bunch of racists from East Virginia Medical School got her confused for her sister.

And. In case you’re wondering what she’s up to these days: On February 10, 2019, she’ll be honored by the Recording Academy at the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards.

Not all the BHFOTDs are gonna be short and sweet like me, but lest you think I want the last thing you see to be a story about a bunch of racists doing racists things, please enjoy one of my favorite clips from The Wiz, featuring Ms. Diane/a Ross.

 

 

 

*So yeah. I know that I said I was here to talk about HISTORY and not the present, but technically 1984 is the past AND as it turns out when you let people be racists in 1984, turns out they have kids who become racists in 2011. Go figure.

 

 

 

It’s 57 degrees in California which is equivalent for Californians to the polar Vortex in the Midwest, so what else would I be talking about except… baby suits. (Bathing suits for those who don’t know that when spank was learning to talk she couldn’t pronounce BATHING SUITS and it stuck.)

Here’s where I’d normally post a picture of me in a baby suit. BUT INSTEAD, Imma post the reason you’re not gonna get that:

PartyT

(My SIL understands me AND my boobs)

That’s right kids! It’s the first day of Black History Month and I’m kicking it off by talking about how my boobs don’t know how to stay in their assigned seats! And if you’re new here (and you might actually be! I added some suckers new friends to the list this year!), WELCOME. Welcome to “Lookit Stuff Black People Did/Do” Month via a somewhat questionable peek into my brain.

And if you’re NOT new here, then WELCOME BACK, and you know that even though I said this post was about MY boobs, you know that it’s really not. It’s about Janet Jackson. (That part you probably didn’t know, but that’s why *EYE* write the facts and not you), which is kinda perfect since the Super Bowl is this weekend and I’m not gonna guarantee y’all a Super Bowl post because I still haven’t been supporting professional football and MIGHT NOT watch the game.

Anyway. Back to Janet. Ms. Jackson, if you’re me nasty.

Janet Damita Jo Jackson, the youngest child of the Jackson family, is a singer, songwriter, actress, and dancer. A prominent figure in popular culture, she is known for sonically innovative, socially conscious and sexually provocative records, and elaborate stage shows. She began her career with the TV series The Jacksons (1976) and went on to appear in other shows through the 70’s and 80’s, including Good Times and Fame.

After signing a recording contract with A&M Records in 1982, she became a pop icon following the release of her third and fourth studio albums Control (1986) and Rhythm Nation 1814 (1989). Her collaborations with record producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis incorporated elements of rhythm and blues, funk, disco, rap and industrial beats, which led to crossover success in popular music.

In 1991 Jackson signed the first of two record-breaking multimillion-dollar contracts with Virgin Records, establishing her as one of the highest-paid artists in the industry. Her fifth album Janet (1993) saw her develop a public image as a sex symbol as she began to explore sexuality in her music. That same year, she appeared in her first starring film role in Poetic Justice and has continued to act in feature films. Jackson then released her sixth studio album The Velvet Rope (1997), which is distinguished for its innovative production and dark lyrical content. By the end of the 1990s, she was named by Billboard magazine as the second most successful recording artist of the decade after Mariah Carey.

Ok. Now that we have the backstory (because when you are a Mother Fucking LEGEND, there’s a lot of information to sort through), let’s get to the lightning round. DID YOU KNOW:

  • Janet Jackson has the most albums with five or more Top 10 hits.
  • She holds the record for the most consecutive top-ten entries on US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart by a female (black/white/whatever) artist?
  • In 2008, Billboard ranked her 2nd most successful dance club artist of all-time after Madonna (who is dead to me. So that makes Damita Jo No.1. Why do I feel this way about Madonna? I’m glad you asked!)
  • Her album Janet opened at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, making her the first female artist in the Nielsen Soundscan era to do so.
  • Jackson’s second hits compilation, Number Ones (retitled The Best for international releases), was released in November 2009. The album’s promotional single “Make Me”, produced with Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, debuted in September. It became Jackson’s nineteenth number one on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart, making her the first artist (black/white/whatever) to have number-one singles in four separate decades.

Present day: Ms. Jackson is still performing and making movies and being philanthropic AF! Took her some time to get back into music. WHY IS THAT, you ask? I mean, Janet Damita Jo Jackson was doing her damn thang and then all of a sudden…silence. Again. SO GLAD YOU ASKED.

AHEM. Janet was chosen by the NFL and MTV to perform at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime in 2004 with surprise fuckboy Justin Timberlake (yeah, I said it). She performed a medley of songs, before singing “Rock Your Body”. As Timberlake sang the lyric “I’m gonna have you naked by the end of this song”, he tore open her costume, exposing her right breast to 140 million viewers. Both performers apologized, but only one was blacklisted. And ONE went on to perform again in 2018.

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Anyway.

This is how I combined a story about my boobs with Janet Jackson, the Super Bowl, AND Black History. I don’t NORMALLY make BHFOTD this long, but sometimes I do. AND I DO WHAT I WANT. You didn’t really think I wasn’t gonna add my favorite Janet Jackson song, did you? (Also, Janet (her boobs) and her brother throwing up the middle finger is a WHOLE. ASS. MOOD.)

Happy Friday/Black History Month boys and girls!