Revisit Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope 20 Years Later

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The Velvet Rope  is a metaphor for emotional boundaries as well as an allusion to the individual’s need to feel special. Behind the velvet rope, Janet unveiled her world to the listener. We hear her explore her sexuality, her willingness to experiment with BDSM and her struggle with depression, abuse and self-worth. Janet signed a $80 million contract with Virgin Records prior to the album release and attained the largest recording contract in history at that time. Yet with major success and achievement, Michael Jackson’s little sister still felt, as stated in the interlude Sad “there’s nothing more depressing than having everything and still feeling sad.” Janet used the album and theme to work through the personal demons she needed to overcome, which has become the template for artists to experiment with darker sounds. Though the album was a moment for Janet to heal personally, she used her platform to speak on LGBT community, domestic violence and depression; which was groundbreaking to hear in a pop album in the 90’s. It's time to revisit The Velvet Rope 20 years later.

After suffering from an emotional breakdown at the end of the janet. World Tour, Janet decided to face the struggles she buried for years through her music and making it the concept of the album. Working with her dream team, producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the three created a version of Miss Jackson we had not seen or heard before. In Control, we heard her embrace self-empowerment. Rhythm Nation was on social consciousness through race, class and violence and janet. helped her open with her sex appeal. The Velvet Rope is a mature record that shows the many sides of the superstar as she works through understanding the person she has become. The composition fuses various genres, including pop, R&B, trip hop, folk, jazz, rock, funk and house. What would normally sound like a cluster fuck on most albums with an array of many genres, Jam and Lewis were able to magically blend all the sounds into the perfect package of Janet’s current state of mind.

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The album debuted at the top spot of the Billboard 200 charts, selling 202,000 copies its first week and by 1998 the album sold 1.6 million copies. Its first single “Got Till It's Gone” peaked at number 36 on the Hot 100, featuring A Tribe Called Quest’s Q-Tip, where the two brought a chill trip-hop vibe over a Joni Mitchell sample of “Big Yellow Taxi”. The visual for the single is one of Jackson’s best, as it captures and celebrates the music, style, and culture in South Africa. Janet, who is effortlessly cool, also rocks bold red hair in bantu knots. This would make #teamnatural/Shea Butter Twitter retweet constantly with the caption “YAS QUEEN” if the video were released today. Even the filter and aesthetics of the video would make every Tumblr and Instagram user wish they had created the style before the video. The video would go on to win a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video. 

The second single was by far Janet’s most successful during the era, “Together Again” which was inspired by her friend who she lost to AIDS. The neo-disco track was inspired by Donna Summer’s “Last Dance”, it reached #1 on the Hot 100 and spent 46 weeks on the charts. It's among one of the biggest selling global singles, selling 6 million copies worldwide. The final single and one of Janet’s sexiest tunes in her discography, “I Get Lonely,” that gives listeners a familiar sound of the sultry pop-R&B which Jackson has been known for. “I Get Lonely” received positive reviews and became Jackson’s eighteenth consecutive Top Ten hit on the Hot 100, becoming the first female artist to achieve that record. One of the most memorable scenes in the visuals for the single is when Janet and her dancers rip off their white button-down shirts to expose her lace black bra, continuing to dance and sing about struggles of loneliness. In the mainstream, Janet was one of the only black artists who wasn’t afraid to be sexy and push the boundaries of how much sex appeal she could show. It paved the way for artists like Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé.

“What about the times you said no one would want me? / What about all the shit you have done to me?” Janet proclaims in a stern vocal rage in “What About,” a haunting rock mid-tempo tune about a tumultuous relationship fueled by cheating, emotional and physical abuse. Janet has dug deep with the multiple struggles she dealt with in her first marriage to James DeBrage. They married when she was 16 and expressed he was demeaning and dealt with a drug problem at the time of their short relationship. Later on in the album, Janet speaks to herself in “Special” explaining it was time to reflect on every obstacle she has occurred. Even though it’s painful, she found we must overcome it and discover ways to find love within. Throughout the song, she seeks the need to feel special; which is a juxtaposition for a person who is made to feel special with multiple award shows, made up and adoring fans. Sometimes that just isn't enough. The very last words of the song are “work in progress”—she’s still hasn’t reached her full potential of conquering her pain and finding true happiness.

“He was on the airplane/sitting next to this guy/said he wasn’t too shy/and he seem real nice” Janet sings in a raw tone, “until he found out he was gay. That’s so not mellow.” On Free Xone, she tackles homophobia and those who are intolerable on same sex relationships. Yet Janet makes sure in the 90’s house jam that the LGBT community should feel “free to be who you really are.” In a Rolling Stone interview, she expressed that “I’m singing about accepting yourself and living in a world –a free zone—where the world accepts you.” Which is interesting that Janet is able to inspire those to accept and embrace who they are, yet she struggles with understanding and accepting the person she has become. Janet toys with lesbianism throughout the album. In the interlude “Speakerphone,” she is heard masturbating while speaking on the phone with a female friend. In the cover of Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night,” she alludes to undoing a woman’s French gown. Along with her personal struggles, it seems Janet is also trying to figure out her own sexual identity.

The Velvet Rope ahead of its time and stylistically merging different music and dialogue and emotion to R&B that hadn’t been done before. It helped birth what is now considered Alternative R&B, such as that perform in this genre are The Weeknd, Kelela, Solange and Drake when he’s in his feelings, among many others. It has become the blueprint for may pop stars to branch from their known personas and show their audience their personal side and express their raw feelings, including Christina Aguilera’s Stripped, Britney Spears’ Blackout, Rihanna’s Rated R and even Beyoncé’s self-title. In Jay Z’s memoir Decoded, he cited his song “December 4th” is inspired and similar to “Got Til its Gone.” Transgender activist Janet Mock indicated how the album related to her life, “She was talking about sexual fluidity. She was talking about domestic violence. I couldn’t believe someone was talking about all these issues that were paralleling in my own life.”

Today Janet Jackson is mainly remembered for her infamous wardrobe malfunction, yet she created the blueprint that many of today’s pop stars have used to elevate their careers. She gave hope to those fighting through their own personal struggles all while making us dance. 20 years later, we thank you Janet for letting us behind The Velvet Rope.

Stankonia in Cleveland

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When I was about 9 years old, I used all my allowance money to purchase my first hip-hop album, OutKast's ATLiens. From that moment on, I have been a huge fan of OutKast, to the point where on even my Tinder profile I asked  "Speakerboxxx or The Love Below?" as an ice breaker. I love Big Boi's lyrical flow and love Andre 3000's eclectic sense of style and rhyme scheme. Although I've been a fan for years, I have never had the chance to see them perform live.

Last night, I received free tickets to see 1/2 of OutKast, Big Boi performed at the House of Blues Cleveland. It was my first Monday back from vacation, I was drained from reading emails all day, and wasn't mentally prepared to attend a live concert, and then at 4 pm my friend Jackie and I decided to just go.

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Big Boi performed a compilation of his solo material and OutKast's well known hits. The level of energy from the crowd, Big Boi and Sleepy Brown was nothing like I've seen before at the House of Blues Cleveland. I was beyond ecstatic that Big Boi performed most of my favorite Outkast tracks, including "Ghetto Musick," "Rosa Parks," and "International Players Anthem (I Choose You)" (which is essentially a UGK track.) I was disappointed he didn't perform "Elevators" or "SpottieOttieDopaliscious". 

For a Manic Monday, Big Boi brought the ATL and nostalgia to Cleveland and it was perfect.  

Brittny Does Europe: Vienna + Salzburg

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After my eventful time in Prague, it was off to Vienna, Austria. I embarked on a 4 1/2 hour train ride from Prague to Vienna, which I mostly slept on. I spent the first day being lazy and eating at a Lebanese/Italian restaurant. The following day I went on a walking tour of the city and saw what Vienna had to offer. During the tour, we saw Hofburg Palace which was the birthplace of Marie Antionette, Parliament, and their gorgeous National Library. 

I went on a day trip to Salzburg which was about 3 hours west of Vienna. I wish I took pictures of the rest stop restaurant we stopped at because it looked like an euro Cracker Barrel which I didn't even know was humanly possible. Also, no one told me Salzburg would be hella cold and rainy compared to the nice weather in Vienna. With just a sweatshirt to keep me warm, I was cold and damp for most of the day. 

While in Salzburg, I visited where Mozart lived. His childhood home was a small little museum that showed sheet music he composed, his pianos he had over the years, love letters he sent his wife and other cool things he owned during his lifetime. I can't say I'm well versed in Mozart's music other than his famous songs, but Amadeus is one of my favorite movies (which was filmed in Prague and I saw some of the filming locations while on my Prague city tour). There was a second home over the little river where Mozart's family lived once he made money for the family to afford a bigger place to live. However, the building is a replica as the original was destroyed during World War II. 

Salzburg is also well known for the Von Trapp home and is where many of the iconic scenes of the Sound of Music were filmed. Unfortunately, I didn't see their home but did visit most of the filming locations of the Sound of Music. I have so many fond memories of watching the film and Broadway show with my family growing up that it was surreal to walk the same paths as Julie Andrews. The only time I wish I wasn't alone on my trip was this time so I could have reenacted the "Do Re Mi" scene on the steps. 

One of my favorite moments was this sweet Dutch lady telling me, "You have a special President in America," she said.  "I just loved Barack and Michelle Obama, I really miss them." GIRL, me too! 

IT'S BEYONCÉ'S BIRTHDAY!

 Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Today is a national holiday because it is the day Beyonce Giselle Knowles Carter was brought into the world. We have been blessed with such an extraordinary talent who has sacrificed her life for our entertainment and sins. Today we celebrate her legacy! 

Below is my all-time favorite Beyoncé performance. 

Transatlantic Playlist + Podcasts Recommendations

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Is it just me or is summer flying by. Or maybe I’m just having way too much for, but whatever it may be, I am nowhere near ready to embark my trip to solo dolo trip overseas. I swear it felt like it would be forever from now but as the days creep up, I’m wondering where time went. If you haven’t noticed, I’m a huge music love and have a huge passion sharing playlists. If you’re ever looking for a playlist, I’m the girl for you. I create a playlist for everything, when I need time to unwind, songs to block out loud colleagues when I’m trying to focus, the soundtrack to be my runway tunes aka songs I strut to when I’m walking around Cleveland, OH. Of course, I created a playlist not only for myself but for my fellow travelers. I prefer to compile chill out tunes to help me relax while flying but also help with my anxiety. I will also share a few podcasts that I’ve been listening to that you can add to your queue while you’re at your layover.

Here are 3 tracks to maybe persuade you into checking out my playlist

Don’t Touch My Hair | Solange

A Seat at the Table really resonated with me on so many levels, as being a proud black woman and as someone trying to figure out who I am. “Don’t Touch My Hair” is the first song to lyrically explain how important my hair means to me, especially hearing it from another black woman with natural hair.

Maiden Voyage/ Everything In Its Right Place | Robert Glasper

This isn’t your mama’s jazz music. Robert infuses hip-hop over smooth jazz melodies. Robert beautifully covers Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place’.

Tsunami | Katy Perry

I know it’s popular to hate on Katy Perry at the moment but there are some decent tracks on Witness. If you can overlook that it’s another Katy song that uses metaphors for sex and silly cliché lyrics, “Tsunami” is a stand out track for Perry.

Podcasts I’m Currently Subscribed To

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Bitch Sesh

Hosted by Real Housewives enthusiasts Casey Wilson and Danielle Schneider. The duo gives a hilarious take on the latest episodes of the Housewives but also share equally hilarious stories from their personal lives. Bitch Sesh was my introduction into listening to podcast but it also changed my life. One day I will open up about how special this podcast means to me on a personal level.

You can listen here

 

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Watch What Crappens

Everyone who knows me, knows I’m obsessed with all things Housewives and housewives adjacent shows to the point my TV is always on Bravo. Watch What Crappens can be difficult to get into with all the different imitations the hosts does and inside jokes, but once you get it, it’s hilarious. So many times I’ve listened to the episodes on a flight and bust out laughing and immediately embarrass myself. 

You can listen here

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Still Processing

As much as I love listening to Housewives recaps, I sometimes feel like it could potentially lower my IQ. Which is why I started seeking more intellect podcasts. Two NYT culture writers Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris dissect the hottest topics from the week that was discussing politics and pop culture. Jenna and Wesley will passionately discuss how the Charlotteville protests personally affected them but also giddily discuss all things Beyoncé.

    You can listen here

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You Must Remember This

Katrina Longworth beautifully explores the lives of old Hollywood biggest stars and scandals. Recently she shares the parallels of actresses Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg in nine episodes. If you’re a movie buff or love the allure of old Hollywood, this is the perfect podcast for you.

You can listen here

 

 

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Bodega Boys

Desus and Mero are the only thing helping me cope with the current political climate. The Bronx duo always find humor in all the craziness this country is experiencing which also reminds you how incredibly ridiculous we must look to other countries but also it’s okay to laugh through the pain. Plus, listening to them reminds me so much of being back home in New York City.

You can listen here

 

What podcasts are you listening to? 

Check out my Transatlantic playlist below. Enjoy!

Happy Birthday, Michael Jackson!

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Today would have been the King of Pop, Michael Jackson’s 59th birthday. The son of Katherine and Joe Jackson, Michael was the eighth of ten children and born in Gary, Indiana. Michael made his musical career debut in 1964 as a member of the Jackson 5. His career has spanned over four decades and has sold over 300 million records. Michael went on to global domination as one of greatest entertainers of all-time.

Personally, Michael Jackson is the first musical artist I connected with. My entire family loved MJ. My older sister owned his doll, trading cards, posters, and pins. One of my parents earliest dates was attending a concert of the Jackson 5 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Needless to say there was no escaping a love for Michael Jackson.  My earliest memories of Michael Jackson was watching his short film, "Moonwalker," religiously everyday after school. I practiced every music video’s choreography, including "Smooth Criminal" where I almost busted my knee on my grandparents’ coffee table trying to imitate the infamous lean.

To me, Michael Jackson was the ideal of what a pop star should embodied. Multiple catchy tunes, insane dance moves, visually stunning music videos, and most importantly, providing magic on stage. He had it all. For many music lovers he was everything. He will live on through his music for future generations and inspire countless of artists to come.

Thank you for everything, Michael!

Remember the Time

Michael pulled out all the stops for this video. Remember when I said a pop star should bring magic? MJ disappearing into gold dust is that!

Bad

Michael wrote “Bad” with Prince in mind for an epic duet. Prince backed out because he didn’t want to sing “your butt is mine”.

Scream

Michael + Janet = major epicness 

What are your favorite Michael Jackson song?

Artist Spotlight: Jamila Woods and Matt LeGrand

 Photo Courtesy: Jamila Woods 

Photo Courtesy: Jamila Woods 

Jamila Woods | LSD feat. Chance the Rapper

Jamila Woods released the video for the dope track “LSD” featuring Chance the Rapper. The Chicago-based singer wanted the collaboration of the video to represent her hometown, so much so that she reached out to Chicago Public Schools to have its students have an input on the video.


Woods and Chance reached out to CPS and allowed aspiring filmmakers to submit their treatment for the video in order to have the opportunity to work on the video. Prosser Career Academy student Ashley Huicochea was selected as the winner and was able to shadow the directors Vincent Martell and Sam Bailey on the production.

FULL LIST OF STUDENT WINNERS

Ashley Huicochea - Prosser Career Academy- 12 (graduated)- Treatment Winner/Director Shadow

Precious Ingram- Simeon Career Academy- 10/11- Wardrobe Shadow

Patricia Frazier- Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep- 12 (graduated)- Camera Shadow

Sara Gieger- Kenwood Academy- 12 (graduated) - Camera Shadow

Cleo Shine- Nicolas Senn High- 12 (graduated) - Camera Shadow

Emilio Nieto- Lindblom Math and Science Academy- 11/12- Art Direction Shadow

Jaylon Guyton- Bulls College Prep- 12 (graduated)- Art Direction Shadow

 

Matt LeGrande | All Good

 Photo Courtesy: Interwind Agency

Photo Courtesy: Interwind Agency

I must have Chicago on my mind because the next artist, Matt LeGrand also comes from the windy city. LeGrand is a pop singer who can play every instrument in the book, from guitar to drums. The 22 year old singer released the single “All Good” a few weeks ago which is the perfect summer track with an upbeat island vibes with catchy and empowering lyrics. Don’t let the good looks fool you, “All Good” is all about enjoying life but also to have self-care and being okay with yourself. 

 

10 Music Videos More Iconic Than P!nk's Entire Videography

 Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

Yesterday MTV announced who will receive the prestigious award during the Video Music Awards, the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. An award that is presented to artists with innovative and memorable music videos in their career. Previous recipients include, Janet Jackson, U2, David Bowie, Britney Spears, and  Kanye West to name a few.

 Photo Courtesy : MTV

Photo Courtesy : MTV

This year’s Vanguard Award will be presented to P!nk. Yeah, you read that last sentence correctly. P!nk, who is amazing musician, a fantastic vocalist, and an advanced acrobat will be in the same category as Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Peter Gabriel. It's baffling that MTV decided to hand P!nk an award where not only to celebrate an artist for their creative visuals, but also their influence on pop culture and music. P!nk is not one of those artists. Here are 10 more memorable music videos than anything P!nk has released in her career. 

1.  Busta Rhymes | What's It Gonna Be? 

I could easily choose many of Busta’s music videos as he is one of the most criminally underrated lyricists but also visually creative, especially for hip-hop. He was putting stunning imagery in his videos that wasn't done before in hip-hop. "What's It Gonna Be?" is one of the most expensive music videos ever made, costing nearly 2 million dollars.  

2.  Missy Elliott | The Rain

Missy Elliott is another artist who deserves her respect and should be rewarded a Video Vanguard Award. There isn’t anyone who can constantly innovates different ways we view music.

3.   Foo Fighters | Learn to Fly

Earlier Foo Fighters music videos were always hysterical, odd, and fun. Even if you were not into their music, you could appreciate the effort they put behind their music videos.

4.  Gwen Stefani | What You Waiting For?

Gwen Stefani entered her solo era in a whimsical way. From writer's block to slipping into her wonderland with Vivienne Westwood gowns, Stefani proved she could be a star on her own. 

5.  Lady Gaga | Bad Romance

Sometimes there are music videos that bolster artists into super stardom, that video was “Bad Romance” for Lady Gaga.

6.  M.I.A. | Bad Girls

The Fast and the Furious: Middle East drift.

7.  OK Go | Here It Go Again

Treadmills + dancing = YouTube viral video.

8.  Daft Punk | One More Time

Daft Punk have inspired majority of today's pop music visually and musically.  

9.  Sia | Chandelier

Sia has always found beautiful ways to portray her music and Chandelier" is one of her best.

10.  Nine Inch Nails | Closer

90’s rock bands and artists provided odd, thought provoking, interesting music videos that really helped captured the MTV movement.  “Closer” pushed the envelope with a 19th century mad scientist’s laboratory that showed religion, sex, animal cruelty and politics.  

Issa Summer Vibe | Summer Playlist '17

 Photo Courtesy: The Odyssey Online

Photo Courtesy: The Odyssey Online

You can’t have #SummerOfBrittny without a killer playlist to be the soundtrack of your life. Here are some tracks I had on heavy rotation during the summer.

Boys | Charli XCX

I was busy dreaming about boys

Unforgettable | French Montana feat. Swae Lee

French Montana recruits Rae Sremmurd’s Swea Lee for his biggest single that definitely gives you the island feel.

Wild Thoughts | DJ Khaled feat. Rihanna and Bryson Tiller

There’s no need for a description, just watch Rihanna do her thing in the music video.

Slide | Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris finally proves to listeners he’s more than a recycled formula EDM DJ to a producer who can create a hit in any genre.

Young, Dumb & Broke REMIX | Khalid feat. Rae Sremmurd and Lil Yachty

Yeah, we’re just young, dumb and broke, but we still got love to give

2 Good 2 Be True | Nite Jewel

Nite Jewel’s “2 Good 2 Be True” is an ultra laid back, synth-heavy that mixes R&B and indie dance.

DNA. | Kendrick Lamar

I got, I got, I got, I got loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA.

Drew Barrymore | SZA

Do you really wanna love me down like you say you do?

 

Neon Lights | Taylor Bennett

Chance the Rapper’s little brother steps out of his shadow to give you a fun catchy bop that very reminiscing of Chance’s earlier work Acid Rap.

Summer Bummer | Lana Del Rey feat. A$AP Rocky

Don’t be a bummer, babe.

Chanel | Frank Ocean

2016 burnt some discs, 2017 ideas playing off a Walkman

GOLD | BROCKHAMPTON

If you haven’t listened to Brockhampton, do it now!

Good Drank | 2 Chainz feat Gucci Mane

The only guy who has never disappointed me is 2 Chainz.

New Rules | Dua Lipa

Rules to live by: One, don’t pick up the phone, you know he’s only calling ‘cause he’s drunk and alone. Two, don’t let him in, you have to kick him to again. Three, don’t be his friend, you know you’re gonna wake up in his bed in the morning. And ain't getting over him.

Crew REMIX | GoldLink

DMV's GoldLink creates the quintessential chill out summer vibe track with "Crew".  

SHC | Foster the People

Foster the People returns to their fun rock/pop sound with haunting lyrics that makes you feel weird dancing along to. But that’s the fun part of listening to Foster the People.

Naughty Ride | WizKid

WizKid’s “Naughty Ride” is a seductive island track with hypnotic clapping precussions that will encourage you to find the nearest hottie to dance on.

Where This Flower Blooms | Tyler, the Creator feat. Frank Ocean

I rock, I roll, I bloom, I glow.

Swish Swish | Katy Perry feat. Nick Minaj

I love a good pop diva feud. Katy Perry didn’t hold back with her revenge track against Taylor Swift. Katy called T.Swift calculated (eek) and an old coupon expired (whatever that means.). Plus the lyric video has meme queen Gretchen. 

 

You can listen to the entire playlist on Spotify. 

 

4:44: Relating to Relationships Dynamics

 Photo Courtesy: SF Station 

Photo Courtesy: SF Station 

Jay Z released his album 4:44 in June and shared his side of the story from Beyoncé’s recent album Lemonade. Just in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last two years, Beyoncé released the critically acclaimed album Lemonade, where she bared her soul and gave the world an insight on the normally private couple’s personal life. Sharing that there may have been infidelity, marital issues and trust issues between the two during their relationship, which shocked the world. Both chose not speak on the album or their relationship however Jay Z released his recent album, and on the LP’s title track, he opened up on their relationship’s imperfections. His ability to be vulnerable gave us insight and proved that this power couple is more like us than we had ever imagined. Hearing their relationship issues made them relatable. But one thing that sticks out is how much power men hold within the relationship when they cause issues.

 

During Jay Z’s early career the majority of his songs relating to relationships was mostly “me give my heart to a woman? Not for nothing, never happen, I’ll be forever mackin.” Until he met Beyoncé in the early 2001, and slowly we saw a transformation of a softer Jay with his music, lyrics and image throughout their relationship. Although they have always been private about their relationship, we were able to see glimpse of their relationship through their music. In Pharrell’s “Frontin,” Jay Z declared “stuntin like you ain’t my only girl but you are. I’m ready to stop when you are.” And Beyoncé’s first solo single that certified her as a super star was “Crazy in Love” where she sung how sprung she was. But nothing made their relationship’s woes more clearer then when Lemonade dropped with the HBO visual special. This was after the leaked video of Solange beating up Jay Z in the elevator after the MET gala and we all wanted to know what made Bey’s baby sister go off.

 

On the track “4:44,” Jay takes his time to explain not only his side of his story but basically gets down on bended knees for stepping out of their relationship multiple times and asking for forgiveness.  “Look I apologized, often womanize. Took for my child to be born, see through a woman’s eyes. Took me too long for this song, I don’t deserve you.” Jay admits that it wasn’t until the birth of their first daughter, Blue to realize how much hurt he has caused to Beyoncé and how he really truly doesn’t deserve her after all they’ve been through. Later on he goes, “I’ve seen the innocence leave your eyes. I still mourn this death and I apologize for all the stillborns cause I wasn’t present.” Basically, him stepping out and cheating not only caused Beyoncé heartache but miscarriages and a stillborn. “And I apologize cause at your best you are love. And because I fall short of what I say I’m all about…thinkin’ of all the times you wasted it, on all the basic shit. I apologize.” After listening to the track “4:44,” imagining from inside of their relationship, I couldn’t help but wonder how Jay, who is 15 years older than Beyoncé, not only couldn’t realize how lucky he was to have an amazing woman like the Queen of the Beyhive but also, it took years into their relationship for him to own up to his mistakes and appreciate his union with Ms. Knowles.

 

Out of context, Bey and Jay probably push through the fire due to the fact that there was a lot at stake in their union outside of romance. Beyoncé soften his image and made him more accessible. Whereas Jay gave her star power (in the early 2000’s Jay was the bigger star, I know crazy to believe.) and some street cred.

 

Too often I have heard when a man makes a mistake within a relationship that he’s “growing up,” “he’s a good guy (despite his mishaps),” “he has potential.” Why is that? Men have an agency within hetro-relationships that allows them to make as many mistakes within the relationship, because men can grow within the courtship. However, women are supposed to have it all together when they enter the relationship and if they fall short, like Jay, the relationship comes to an end without hesitation. It is okay for men to not understand how relationships work, while the woman waits for their full potential. I came across a tweet that stated, “Does a man ever wait for a woman to get her shit together?”  And very rarely does that happen. Why is that? Why have we been conditioned into believing that men are projects, they are able to be fixed and women cannot have that space within the commitment?

 

When I look at pop culture that depicts this issue, I automatically think of the August Wilson play and film Fences and the HBO series Insecure. In Fences, Denzel Washington’s character Troy steps out of his marriage with Viola Davis’ character, Rose, and impregnates his mistress. Without hesitation, although Troy place so much emotional turmoil on Rose (due to his yo-yo of emotions), it was expected of her to take care of the baby. She was expected to take care of another woman’s baby in order to keep the family together even though you could tell she was reaching her breaking point.

 

The opposite happened in the drama series Insecure.  The main character, Issa had been dating her boyfriend, Lawrence for five years, however, he had been unemployed for two of those years,  and began to slack on his end of the stick in the relationship. After many slip ups from Lawrence (forgetting Issa’s birthday, not applying to jobs when he needed to help out financially), Issa steps out of the relationship. After Lawrence finds out, he leaves Issa immediately. Even though Issa tried to be loyal during Lawrence’s hardship, her infidelity overruled her support in order to end the courtship.

 

Everyday Feminism created a list of “50 Ways People Expect Constant Emotional Labor from Women and Femme” 12 of the 50 were based on the emotional burden women face within a relationship with a man, including “when we end a relationship, we’re often demonized and blamed for not doing enough to maintain it, even if we devoted extensive time and energy to discussing problems and trying to make the relationship work,” “Our significant others expect us to initiate important conversations like defining the terms of the relationship, taking stock of how the relationship is going, and addressing conflicts,” and lastly, “we’re expected to grit our teeth and put up with disrespectful behavior from men because ‘boys will be boys.’”

 

On Lemonade, several of the lyrics expressed how much Beyonce is carrying the emotional burden within the relationship. “Love Drought,” Bey wonders “all this loving I’ve been given goes unnoticed. It’s just floating in the air, lookie there. Are you aware you’re my lifeline, are you trying to kill me?” Later on, she questions if it were her actions for the reasons why Jay seek love elsewhere, “tell me what did I do wrong? Feel like that question has been posed. “However she still wants Jay to reveal his truth in order to forgive him and continue to build their strong love. In the track, “Love on Top,” (off the album, 4)  a song celebrating love, the lyrics show the cracks that haunted their relationship and they continue to try and make it work. “ Nothing’s perfect” Beyonce sings at the top of her lungs. “But it’s worth it, after fighting through my tears, and finally you put me first.”

 

The emotional burden is even more fierce when it comes to black women. As they are always walking between either being too soft or being the angry black woman. On Twitter, it’s a common conversation how black men are sick of black women and how they’re much happier with a white woman due to their fragile egos. Iyanla Vazant spoke with three black men to explain why they have decided to date outside of their race. One man stated it was difficult to date black women because of their “strong personality” and inability to “stay in a woman’s place.”Founder of For Harriet, Kimberly N. Foster, touched on this issue and pointed out that “traits that in anyone else would be seen as positive, gets turned into negatives when they exist in black women.”  Foster continues, “We are too independent, too strong, too educated, too focused, too confident.” Foster further explains that when black men dismiss an entire race, especially their own race of women, it’s because they have determined them as the Sapphire stereotype that needs to be called out.  And the reason behind the fact black women may be seen in this matter because black women have to constantly defend themselves from negative descriptions and stereotypes we constantly have to face, from the media, at the workplace, in public, relationships and even from our own people. 

 

Black women are constantly carrying an incredible amount of weight when it comes to emotional responsibility and it’s no wonder that within a relationship, she would rather wait to see the potential than to fight and leave. In a study from the popular dating site, OkCupid, showed that Black women are the least desirable in America’s dating pool.

 

Jay Z and Beyoncé sharing an imperfection of their personal life, is incredibly brave as well as makes consumers feel more connected more than ever. Both albums are respectably one of their best albums to date. However, how do we, as women get to a place where we are no longer carrying the emotional labor of the relationship and it’s more 50/50? How will men start allowing us to make the same mistakes and be forgiven as we have forgiven them for theirs? Must we place the blame on society and how they view relationship dynamics or should we start reconstructing from our personal relationships?