5%, agendas, Anna Mae Bullock, apropos, ass-kissing, assata shakur, assimilation, B'day era, BB Homemaker, Bday, Beyonce, Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter, Black women, blow, Bonne and Clyde, buffoonery, castro, ceremonials, charity, civilized negroes, cover, cuba, Deja Vu, Do What Thou Wilt, domesticity, drunk in love, Eastern Star, eurocentric negroes, Fashion Rocks, feminism, florence and the machine, Gisel Manier, Gloria Carter, Houston, Ike Turner, interpolation, Jay Z, Jezebel, Josephine Baker, Keke Wyatt, Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Lilith, lucumi, Lynn Whitfield, magdalene, make yourself a Black statistic, mammy, materialism, Matthew Knowles, Me & My Girlfriend, Michael Jackson, Nation of Gods and Earths, niggerish ways, niggerism, occult, ocha, Oprah, partition, Peola, perpetuating stereotypes, publishing, racial profiling, reincarnation, reinvention, remix, ritual performances, rocket, role models, root chakra, Sanse, Santeria, sapphire, sodomy, songwriting, stereotypes, Thelema, Tina Knowles, Tina Turner, Tori Amos, travelling, Tupac, Uncle Tom, Virgo, womanism
We scream in cathedrals/why can’t it be beautiful?/…in this cheerful little chapel of love can’t we/ get a little grace and elegance/…why does there gotta be a sacrifice?
–Tori Amos, “Iieee”
The words to this song came to my mind incessantly after seeing the performance. I understand the liberation of primal root chakra urges which fuels this “ratchet” id-like force in all mankind—but why not circumvent such rawness with some refinement, sprinkle the defecation with glitter, so to speak?
When it was first rumored, then officially announced, that Beyonce would perform at the Grammy’s, I fantasized about a live performance of “Partition,” complete with the utter Lautrec-esque neon and Technicolor hallucinations of the saccharine-and-sequin DMT-dream world of the Crazy Horse. The Bob-Fosse-meets-Moulin-Rouge hybrid Parisian cabaret tribute in the music video, a favorite of fetish revivalist Empress Dita von Teese, was a New Age summation and glorified satiric amalgam of Golden Age burlesque and tongue-in-cheek Bettie Page bondage. For the live performance, I imagined a minimally reminiscent backdrop framing the antics—maybe an onstage exit from the limousine and a replica of the real Crazy Horse facade, even a segueway into “Niggas In Paris” with a Baz Luhrman-directed visual money montage of wealth complete with footage and pictures of Josephine Baker at her most opulent—as Bey herself put it “sick and filthy with Benji’s I can’t spend”. In one lucid dream, I even imagined video footage of a séance in which the Carters and other mediums circled around an all-white shrine dedicated to Josephine Baker, complete with photographs framed in silver and all white jasmine candles and all white silk and lace cloths with baby powder sprinkled around mixed with efun, cascarilla, and camphor. I imagined an elaborate performance staged to allude to Bey’s [un]official invocation of Baker’s spirit and claiming of her torch (which audiences first witnessed in her Fashion Rocks performance of “Déjà vu”), coming full circle choreographically to consummate symbolically onstage their Parisian vacation and conception of Blue Ivy.
Anticlimactic, overexposed, and flaccid, the Carters’ chemistry seems forced and awkward on the Grammy stage—almost as if horrifying and disappointing a sensation evoked as it was for many who waited with devilish curiosity to view the R. Kelly sex tape and was disgusted to see exactly what acts were committed. “[She] has refined her art until there is nothing left in it,” a New York reviewer wrote in 1936 of Josephine Baker’s appearance in that year’s highly anticipated (to the point of hype overinflation—sound familiar?) Ziegfeld Follies. He may as well have been writing about the highly anticipated post-marriage, post-baby Jayonce performance. The tease so perfect, the PDA so self-conscious, a passion so formulated—sorry to say BeyZ, I loved the allure and archetypal Ideals your relationship seemed to stand for before you became so open with it. Maybe it’s a bit overdue and now the passion-play reads more like an aging handler grossly humping his “Grown” ingénue.
Bey has always successfully towed the line between classy and trashy, sometimes annoyingly so. Even though her previously closed minded good girl façade (thanks Matty) was at times frustrating in her privacy and the careful construction of her front alter/surface backstory. Yet with the new “liberation” of the Self Titled Visual Album, it feels a bit late and pointless in its Grand Reveal. Where this may have been intended to be a relief, an artist’s chance to be herself or some “stripping away,” we feel sadly still cheated—the reality is of course never as good as the fantasy.
the God MC and his “Earth”
“Can I Live?”
Many slammed her “reveal-all” documentary Life Is But A Dream and Jay’s notable absence, as too unrevealing and too staged, it seems Bey still can’t win now being bashed for being too intimate in front of the cameras with her husband.
She warned us—“I’m a Grown Woman, I can do whatever I want”—I guess that even means being lazy in the studio and freestyling vulgar rhymes and calling it “effortless” in interviews, transparently pretentious in the attempt to make this an “art piece” or “confessional” when this contains some of the most un-poetic and superficial, elementary lyricism of her career.
“I ain’t mad at cha”
Beyonce, I just wonder with your level of power, influence, and supposed label/industry freedom, would you choose to emphasize the more ratchet and private aspects of the relationship—perpetuating this already sexually misdirected and tortured society—instead of making a video and performance for something more sentimental, more endearing, indeed more archetypal and meaningfully artistic as “On The Run (Part II)”. Someone in your position if you really wanted to promote a powerful, affirming image of Black Love—a legitimate commitment in the midst of Hollywood’s often pre-arranged relationship facades, a legal, healthy, heterosexual marriage of established, wealthy, relatively upstanding citizens and attentive parents—why not promote a song that encourages loyalty and devotion instead of one that encourages more drunken sex and violent lust (“Anna Mae” line or not) especially among the sheep-like, impressionable young, likely unmarried and/or gay audience that is your primary demographic.
Or do you have ulterior motives, serving a subversive agenda to destroy the Black Family Unit?