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Social Studies

Hot Randomness

Emily Flake

By Vincent Williams | Posted 8/15/2007

It's. So. Hot. Seriously, I'm ready for summer to be over. I'm sitting here staring at this blinking cursor--judging me, mocking me about my impending deadline--and all I can think about is why the AC is going full blast but I'm not getting any cooler. Because, I swear, the heat is frying my brain. I know I have stuff to write about, but nothing is really flowing together. Instead of one beautifully unified Voltron of a column, all I have are these, uh, robotic, lion-shaped, scattered pieces of random thoughts that kinda, sorta link together.

Like, for instance, Norbit's on my mind. We finally got a chance to see Eddie Murphy's follow-up to Dreamgirls last night because, y'know, we got a kid, which means we don't get to go to the movies in the theater anymore, and, wow, what a hateful piece of shit that was. Just the pure venom that Murphy spews through the "comedic" Rasputia, a big, fat, loud, crass caricature of a black woman is breathtaking. Truth be told, Murphy has a bit of a meanspirited track record toward the sistas in a bunch of his work, if you pay attention. Everybody talks about hip-hop's misogyny, but, quietly, some of them '80s comedy cats were a trip. So, I halfway want to talk about Eddie Murphy and his deep-seated need for some therapy or Jesus or something, but Norbit came out six months ago and, again, it's just too hot to be getting worked up over dumb-ass Negroes.

Speaking of which, uh, Michael Vick? What the hell? That's what he came up with? They drove a truck full of money up to his doorstep and the best idea he had was to--allegedly--bankroll some dogfighting? Really? And then--and then--I got a Georgia chapter of the NAACP and some of my brethren saying that this is a race thing? So now I got to fall in line behind Vick and raise the flag of "innocent until proven guilty" because he's black? My responsibility to him? What about his responsibility to me? You know what I miss? I want to know when we stopped saying that folks were "bringing down the race"? I'm trying to bring that back. That, and I'm going to start calling brothers under the age of 20 "youngblood" when I see them. I used to love when old dudes called me "youngblood" as a teenager. Because I honestly think that if an older dude called Vick "youngblood" when he was a boy and told him how not to bring down the race, his fool ass would have found something more substantial to do with his time. Allegedly.

Speaking of which, you know what one of my projects has been this summer? I've been studying Whitney Houston's music. See, I got this theory that things all started to fall apart with the black community because of the music. Everything got jacked up when we all stopped listening to the same sound. Again, we talk about the generational split with young people going to hip-hop, but no one wants to acknowledge how mainstream R&B drove us out. So, back to Houston. It's fascinating to listen to how Clive Davis and producer Narada Michael Walden scientifically drained any iota of soul out of the singer's music. Wow, what soulless, overproduced, studio-driven pabulum Houston's first couple of albums are. And then, to make it worse, everyone else followed suit: Artists like Luther Vandross and Patti LaBelle just sound like different variations of the same anonymous singer once the Walden Style became the trend. Really, go listen to Vandross' genuinely heartbreaking "You Stopped Loving Me" and then listen to some of that later bullshit like "Power of Love/Love Power" and tell me how one leads to the other. When the Revolution comes, I'm going to be pushing for Narada Michael Walden to be brought up on war crimes. And, if Whitney Houston and her legacy was the best that R&B had to offer in the '80s, it's pretty clear why a whole generation heard Paid in Full and never looked back.

Speaking of which, boy, that Finding Forever is fantastic. That's all I really have about that. Well, that and I wish Kanye West and Common would just go ahead and officially form a partnership and become the new Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth. It's funny . . . so much of the current output is just so God-awful, sometimes I forget just how happy hip-hop makes me, and then someone like Common comes out with a new album and reminds me.

Speaking which, dude, last week was the 20th anniversary of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel. Man, I friggin' love Shark Week. I would watch that stuff all day if I could. Shark-attack documentaries, shark-anatomy specials, those joints where people swim with sharks--shark stuff is the best. This is especially true, because I'm one of the people who got scarred for life by Jaws, and now I'm afraid of the ocean. Which is a real shame because if I were able to go down to the ocean and take a nice, refreshing dip, I might cool off enough to put together a coherent column.

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