MTV VMA: MTV & Britney Spears Washed Up?

At one time, the MTV Video Music Awards cut the American Music Awards and the Grammy’s off at the knees. The VMAs were innovative, had some of the most interesting performances, and often honored people who deserved to win. This year’s show, which I had stopped following long ago, felt like an identity crisis for the network. And if you have seen anyone going through one such crisis, you know that it’s not pretty.

I felt embarrased for MTV. They were simply trying too hard. The show, on the production end, was a train wreck. It was done in Vegas, and they did this whole “hotel suite” party thing, where many bands/artists played to small crowds in the suites with the cameras lookin on–while very few acts actually performed on the main stage in the auditorium. The suite parties were hosted by one band or artist with a theme, and then they had guest artists (for instance Justin “I don’t know nuthin ’bout no wardrobe malfunction” Timberlake hosted a dirty south/crunk suite, where he got to do a tired beat box with some crunk artists, and our favorite leather bear producer Timbaland.).

That seems like a good idea, but they didn’t even give you the whole song, and they just drop in on them with no announcement as to who the hell you’re watching. When you’re of a certain age like me, all the white boys with mullets and skinny jeans seem to blur together. And you don’t get Cee-lo to sing with the Foo Fighters on a cover of Prince’s Darling Nikki, and just drop in at the end for 30 seconds. This dropping in and out of everything in short snippets was schitzophrenic–probably done after hours and millions of dollars in research calculating the average attention span of the MTV viewer to keep them from changing the channel– and added to the sense of anxiety of the show.

And no one was more anxious than the opening act, Britney Spears. The entire world was waiting to see what Britney was going to give–and I think most people who even hate Britney secretly wanted to see her rock it. She didn’t. The song she lip-synched, a new electro-pop tune, was cute, but her performance was, well, sad. She’s never looked so unsure of herself. Instead of throwing herself all over that stage, in the trashy way we’re used to seeing Brit, she seemed to meander from place to place and relying heavily on her dancers to do most of the work. It was like they’d do an 8-count, and she’d literally walk to her next mark (like she was walkin to the corner store to get Pampers for her babies), and then do the next 8 count. She barely made eye contact with the audience. When her performance was over, the crowd clapped (barely) politely, and it seemed as though the underdog everyone wanted to root for, was just plain under.

Then Sarah Silverman followed Britney with a little standup that was her usual gross and offensive self. And not at all funny. Even though celebs and industry people can be a hard audience to perform for, they were utter stone to Silverman.

Kanye & 50 appeared together to present an award. It of course ruined the illusion that they have some kind of beef, as if anyone believed it was more than a publicitiy stunt to ensure both of their albums sell like crazy. But I still hope 50 loses and sits his ass down somewhere. Permanently.

Chris Brown was the best thing about the show. I fucking hate lip-synching, but if you’re going to do it, you better be giving me dance. He came out in a Charlie Chaplin-esque get up, and did his song Wall-to-Wall. He rocked it. He had more charisma than anyone who touched the stage. Then Rihanna came out with him and did a snatch of Umbrella. He slipped into this MJ Billie Jean tribute, and then danced some more with two kids! Damn, it was the first real performance of the night worthy of show.

The next best performance, though not her best by far, was Alicia Keys. Keys seemed to want to let us know she’s going in a different direction musically, and she sang her new single, or at least shouted it at us. It was awkward. Then she launched into George Michael’s Freedom 90. OK. I love me some Freedom 90. But it’s been done. And better.

This number of Keys, the Kanye/50 stunt, and in fact the entire show, seemed to emit an anxiety by MTV as to the direction of their award show, the channel, and the music industry itself.

(By comparison, this summer’s BET awards was 100 times more entertaining, and you know damn well Viacom didn’t give BET half of what MTV got to do their show.)

The Come Back & Come Up of Dawn (Robinson) & Dre (Allen)

Life ain’t been, as Langton Hughes once wrote, no crystal stair for former EnVogue/Lucy Pearl member, Dawn Robinson.

And now, she’s really puttin’ it out there for the world to see. Apparently Robinson and her husband, singer Dre Allen are shopping a reality show about her come back, and his come up. The trailer for the show is online, and i think they are trying to drum up prospects for a network to buy the show, which would certainly assist them in the cash flow department, which is apparently a very serious problem for the couple. I gotta say, they do look good together.

Dawn, much like TLC’s Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, was always very vocal about the way En Vogue was ripped off, and I don’t think Lucy Pearl turned out to be the success she was seeking, although the group’s only album is really good (though a little on the safe side musically).

I hope this new venture will work out for her, and her husbands music sounds pretty hot too.

My advice for Robinson and Allen?

Write all your own songs. This is where artists really get stuck. You have to sell records like Mariah or Janet in order to make any money off of album sales if you don’t write your own music.

Don’t sign on a major label. Yes, its more work, but Robinson should know by now, they’re gangsta and will suck you dry. Start your own label, and sell them joints off of your website. If Joi can do it (who replaced Robinson for a short time in Lucy Pearl), you can too.

TOUR TOUR TOUR! It, I think is still the best way for artists to get their music out there, and get paid. She and her husband could totally do a double bill–and it seems as though that’s kinda what they’re doing already.

Don’t do R&B. That’s right. I said it. In reality, she can’t compete with the Alicia Keys, or even Jill Scott’s or Erykah Badu’s in the “neo-soul” category, let alone Rihanna’s or Keyshia Coles’ who run the R&B/Pop charts. Find your own niche. It sounds like her hubby is doing a rock thing, and that might be a better niche for them than trying to compete with folks in the R&B/Neo-soul world.

But I wish them good luck. Here’s the video for Dre Allen’s single “Fly” which features Dawn Robinson.

Hallelujah!!! Maxwell’s New Song on Myspace!

If I had a tambourine right now, I’d be beating it, speaking in tongues, writhing in sexual sanctified ecstasy and throwing myself on the mercy of the Holy Savior.

Why, you might ask? Because MAXWELL finally has a new song on his myspace page, which means SONY (the dirty bastards) are finally going to release Black Summers’ Night, which was supposed to be released 2 years ago!!!

The song on the Maxwell Official Myspace page is called Pretty Wings–but don’t get too eager! It’s a snippet. It’s a ballad. Very Maxwell. Now–before my joy quickly turns to hateration–when the hell is the album dropping?

In the meantime, I’ll rock with one of my personal faves…

Eddie Griffin Mic Cut at Black Enterprise Event

An unofficial War on Colored Foolishness has been waged by Black folks who know we can do better. The latest victim, minstrel comedian Eddie Griffin. Richard Prince reports from his column Journal-isms.

Earl Graves, founder of Black Enterprise magazine, is an old-school kind of guy, and so were most of the 1,200 in the audience for the 14th Annual Black Enterprise/Pepsi Golf & Tennis Challenge.


So when comedian Eddie Griffin started tossing around the “N” word and the one abbreviated “MF,” and then brought white women into his repertoire, he suddenly found his hand-held microphone go dead. Griffin tried a floor mic, but that one was dead, too.

Griffin then turned to the audience, whose members hadn’t been laughing at the jokes but were uncertain what was happening when the mics were turned off. He said, “f— it, I don’t need no mic,” and finished his joke. Then he left, with Morris Day and The Time not quite ready to go on next.

After sending someone to the stage to fill the time, Graves, 72, took the mic and explained, “the man’s going to get paid, but we can’t tolerate this,” in the words of a witness who described the scene to Journal-isms.

Good for Earl Graves. I don’t know why the hell you’d book Eddie Griffin for a bourgie affair like that anyhow and not expect a mess, but oh well. Didn’t they know who he was before they booked him? I do think its interesting that, according to Prince, that it took a joke about white women for the plug to be pulled. What does that say about “Black” Enterprise?

But it looks like Black folks have had it with this type of mess. Developing…

Non-Shock of the Week: Rockers More Likely to Die Young

I can’t wait to get my PhD people! I want to get my PhD so I can get research grants to do studies that don’t improve the human condition, but merely prove the obvious!

Here’s one such study, recently written about on, which proved that rock stars more likely to die young. OK. So, let’s see. I am going to do my own study off the top of my head, without any grant money:

Billie Holiday, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Jeff Buckley, Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Marvin Gaye, Donny Hathaway, Tupac, Biggie, the light skindedededed one from Milli Vanilli and that dude from the band with the chubby white girl in the bumble bee outfit.

YEP! Rockers sure do kick the bucket awfully young!

Where’s my hundreds of thousands in research dollars? Anyone? Anyone?

Here’s a snippet from the Bloomberg story (originally published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health) that proves what the hell we already know.

British and U.S. rock stars are two to three times more likely to die young, mainly because of drug and alcohol abuse, researchers say.

An analysis of mortality rates among 1,064 musicians lends support to the long-held impression that rock stars have below- average life expectancies, especially within the first five years of becoming famous, the scientists said. Drug and alcohol problems accounted for more than one in four of the early deaths, according to the study published today in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The research represents the first statistical verification of the commonly held view that rock stars have “live fast, die young” lifestyles, the Liverpool and Manchester, England-based researchers said. The findings also underscore the negative effect stars can have as role models, they said.

Non-shock of the week. The shocker is someone got paid to prove this.

But now I am sad thinking of all these musicians I love.