@ Nokia Theatre
Formulated by music industry vet and b-boy–at-heart Adam Torres, the Masters of Ceremony Hip-Hop Reunion comes to Los Angeles after a highly lauded stint in January at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. The lineup, which reads like a primer on hip-hop cultural history, features performances by Doug E. Fresh, Rakim, Naughty by Nature, Biz Markie, Slick Rick and Big Daddy Kane, among other golden-era and post–golden era luminaries. In March, Torres told AllHipHop.com: “These artists have given us unforgettable compositions that have marked a time in music history, earning them the title of Masters of Ceremony.” Can’t argue with that. Tonight’s show is the only L.A. stop on the six-date national tour.— Jacqueline Michael Whatley
By: Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Vigalantee Truth is a rapper and self-proclaimed “freedom fighter” based in Kansas City, Kansas. According to his website, he is an involved crusader of “human, civil, and labor rights” and related causes. In his June 2013 single, “Ratchet Girl”, Vigalantee warns: “Ratchet girl/ You’re moving too fast/ How long will this last?” My first thought, in lieu of the tone-deaf vocals coupled by almost comedic funereal strings, was that this must be a satire piece. Upon thorough review of the song, I understand that the song is not a satire piece.
Judging from the lyrical content, overall tone and accompanying visuals, Vigalantee claims to be offering helpful and well-intentioned advice to Black women with children out of wedlock (whom he suggests are ALL “ratchets”) on what they can do to be less ratchet and establish healthy family environments, although he never offers an idea of what exactly a healthy family is or should look like.
The visuals that accompany the song are a de-contextualized pastiche of sexually provocative selfies of Black women and girls, stock photos of Black children (who appear in some way to be suffering and or in distress), photos of Black girls and women twerking, photos of Black women and girls engaging in violence toward one another and Afro-centric “Black Love” themed artwork. From this, we can conclude that he is addressing Black women and girls and “The Black Family” in particular. These images are offered in slide-show fashion while Vigalantee waxes philosophical. Readers, I urge us all to think critically about and identify the problematic statements and assumptions embedded in Brother Vigalantee’s lyrics:
“Why can’t you see the pain that you bringin’ yo child/ Twerkin’ on the internet and actin’ foul/thought you had the world/ you was pregnant by the man that was yo world/ y’all had a baby girl/ and everything was fine/ until he crossed the line/ and cheated on you/ and you lost yo mind/and he moved on like everything was fine/…from that day/ you started to give yo love away/ you took yo daughter away and banned him from seeing her…”
Now, we do not want to throw out the baby with the bathwater. I understand that there are, in fact, women, who are Black, who have children out of wedlock and for a number of complex reasons break up with the child’s father and keep the father from seeing the child. We see examples in our own families, extended family circles and on quasi-reality shows like the “Maury Show” “Bill Cunningham” and others. Keeping a father away from their child, unless the father is in fact behaving destructively toward the child and or the mother, is wrongheaded. I also understand that Vigalantee may be remarking on a woman who actually exists and a situation that has actually occurred in his own life or in the life of someone he knows. However, coupling this particular anecdote with random photos of Black women and girls can be interpreted as making essentialist and simplistic statements about all Black women who have children out of wedlock.
Also, Vigalantee suggests that the cheating father’s infidelity is somehow, not so bad and that the only wrongdoing in the matter comes from the woman who “loses her mind” as a result of the man’s infidelity and, out of bitterness and spite, keeps the child away from its father. It’s not okay when one partner of a relationship is unfaithful, especially if the people in the relationship have agreed to be monogamous and not in some type of “open relationship.” Vigalantee also suggests that there is something innately “wrong” or “bad” about women having children out of wedlock and or having multiple sexual partners. It is important for us to remember that all Black women who have children out of wedlock do not keep their children away from their fathers. They are not all “twerkin’ on the internet” and “actin’ foul.” They are not all engaging in “alcohol-induced brawls” at nightclubs, either as his other lyrics suggest. Many of them are working-class civil servants in professions like teaching. Many of them have advanced degrees and juggle hectic work lives in addition to being SUPER MOMS. We also need to acknowledge that there is nothing innately wrong with women who chose to engage in sexual activity with more than one person at a time. It is perhaps dangerous to engage in sexual activity with more than one person at a time, but this is true for both men and women. Perhaps the Black women that Vigalantee has had experiences with possessed the features he speaks of on “Ratchet Girl”, but this cannot possibly be the case for all Black women with children out of wedlock.
In examining Vigalantee’s lyrics, it is important for us to explore just what exactly is meant by the oft employed, culturally fashionable term “ratchet.”
The term “ratchet “ is often used to describe people or the life ways of people who are usually Black, female and from poor and or working class economic backgrounds. It usually connotes the engagement of such types in loud talking, African-American Vernacular English/ Black English Vernacular, cursing, being resourceful, not having formal education, struggling financially, being ignorant to aspects that are often associated with “high-culture”, being uninformed on current world happenings, being emotionally immature, having multiple numbers of sexual partners, twerkin’, and such stylistic choices as wearing weaves, acrylic finger nails, gaudy jewelry and revealing or form-fitting clothing. It is often used interchangeably with the term “ghetto.”
It is important to remember that just because some Black women wear gaudy jewelries, acrylic finger nails, revealing clothing and weaves, does not also mean that they are, uninformed, emotionally immature, un-cultured, unable to partake in linguistic code-switching, etc. Anyone who believes otherwise, indeed, has a serious problem. It’s also important to mention that there are plenty of non-Black women who partake in behaviors and don stylistic choices that may be termed “ratchet.”
I understand that Vigalantee may have good intentions and maybe even thinks that he is doing something admirable by addressing women who may be engaging in destructive behaviors like intentionally keeping their children away from their fathers. However, not much else that he says in this song is actually helpful. He offers no solutions on what can be done in order for healthy Black families to exist. Nothing he says in the song appears to be coming from a place of love or compassionate understanding. In fact, it seems like he intends to be insulting.
To more destructive ends, by expressing such sentiments as the ones found in “Ratchet Girl,” Brother Vigalantee, (who claims to be a crusader of human rights) is partaking in “acts that induce mental harm and suffering” in women and girls, which is a clear violation of The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).Perhaps Brother Vigalantee will consider this the next time he utilizes public voice and the images of Black women and girls in such a reckless manner. Brother Vigalantee, I understand that you are an artist and that in art, the possibilities are endless, but this here is a human right’s violation and you know better.
@ Greek Theatre
Jurassic 5 is the globally renowned, six-piece hip-hop act featuring Chali 2na, Marc 7 and Cut Chemist (formerly The Unity Community), Akil and Zaakir (formerly Rebels of Rhythm) and later, DJ Nu-Mark. Founded in 1993 via Los Angeles underground rap hub the Good Life, they are widely respected standard-bearers of hip-hop culture. J5 disbanded in 2007 but reunited in 2013 for Coachella. In April, the legends performed at Glastonbury. Tonight’s show is one of the first stops on their 20-date North American tour and features legendary hip-hop peers Dilated Peoples, who are set to drop their forthcoming Directors of Photography sometime this year.— Jacqueline Michael Whatley
By Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Entitlement is the idea that some particular privilege or thing is owed to one innately. Not all men, but too many, believe they are entitled to women’s bodies and even become angry when women remind them to exercise self-restraint and respect boundaries. In addition, this idea of male entitlement communicates to women that the choices they make regarding how they will adorn and with whom they will share their own bodies requires male consent and or endorsement. This long-standing belief prevails largely throughout the world and often yields unjust, violent and destructive outcomes for girls and women.
In Newfoundland, CA, officials at Menihek High School sent Emily Connors home in early June for showing her bra straps. At least 29 other girls, including those at Menihek and other schools in Newfoundland and Labrador Province have been sent home in the past month for this reason.
In an interview with CBC News, Connors explained that she and the other girls were sent home, because their bra straps were showing and that school officials remarked “that it was inappropriate because some of the male teachers, and male students found it distracting.”
Let us take a moment of pause.
Why is school administration, or any governing body, allowing students to miss class because their bra straps are showing? And why is a girl’s bra strap considered to be a “distraction” to or sexual invitation for men and boys? If the teachers and faculty are there to do their jobs and the students are there to learn, why are male faculty members distracted by the female students’ bra straps? And further, why are the female students being punished because some male members of the faculty can’t stay on task? Why do we decline to hold boys and men accountable when they refuse to exercise self-restraint toward girls and women and decline to observe boundaries?
These female students were literally trying to stay cool in oppressive weather conditions and receive their lesson. In sending home Connors and the other girls, school officials are justifying the differential treatment of their female students for something that again, is not their problem or fault.
The male students, a large number of whom, most likely, sag their pants have not been sent home for showing their underwear at school. They have not missed any days of class as a result, either. Female students have not claimed to be “distracted” by male peers who show their boxers. This is probably because these girls realize that they are at school to learn and not to focus on the stylistic choices of their male peers and faculty.
The self-proclaimed “feminist father” pictured here set social media outlets ablaze when his brazen socio-political fashion statement went viral. Judging from the shirt’s text, this “feminist father” acknowledges that he does not have the right to and is not interested in controlling his daughter’s body. This line of reasoning is refreshing and is deserving of global male consideration; especially by men who have daughters. In this line of reasoning, the girl is not to blame for a boy’s refusal to exercise self-restraint and observe boundaries. She is not blamed for a man’s choice to commit an act of sexual harassment, molestation or rape as a result of some “innate” ownership of and sense of entitlement to women that he believes to be his birthright. His conduct is his responsibility to regulate and is not the fault of the women who he feels sexually attracted to or claims to be “distracted” by.
If you are a girl or woman in any part of the world, chances are that your dad, boyfriend, brother, male friend or distant male social media acquaintance has at some point suggested to you how you should adorn your own body. Some of them may have also contended that the unwanted sexual attentions you may have received when you donned your stylistic choices, were your own fault. Sadly, this flawed line of reasoning places the blame and responsibility on the women who are being victimized as opposed to the men and boys of the world who are actually doing the victimizing by refusing to exercise self-restraint and respect boundaries.
Every human being must exercise self-restraint and respect in all interactions with other human beings; boys and men are not exempt. When school faculty send girl students home because their bra straps are showing, it not only absolves boys and men of the responsibility and obligation to control themselves and their behaviors, but extends men and boys a license to “justifiably” behave towards women in ways that undermine their personal safety and rights to sovereignty and autonomy.
In some cases, men who commit acts of violence toward women are hardly punished and are sometimes rewarded after the fact. At James Madison University, three members of a fraternity were found to have sexually assaulted Sarah Butters –a fellow female JMU student. They were not suspended from the school or banned from the campus.
According to journalist Tyler Kingkade’s coverage of the incident on The Huffington Post, a video “shows Butters topless and being groped, while the men laugh and pull her onto their laps, trying to remove the bottom of her bathing suit. It includes audio of Butters saying, “This isn’t okay, this isn’t a good idea.”
In spite of clear proof of nonconsensual sexual misconduct, JMU director of judicial affairs told Butters that he was unable to “determine if the video scene was consensual.”
To make matters worse, two of the accused were able to continue their spring classes and graduate, on time. The other student who was a junior at the time of the assault, plans to remain on campus for his senior year in 2014-15. Why is someone who has sexually assaulted a fellow student allowed to remain on campus at all?
This behavior is unacceptable, most of all, because it continues to yield destructive outcomes for girls and women. If we continue to teach such destructive behaviors to our sons, we are participating in the wholesale destruction of our families, future generations and humanity at large.
Perhaps we will all critically consider the “feminist father’s” transformative and revolutionary, performative statement that girl’s bodies belong to them and no one else. It is essential for boys and men to understand that the choices girls and women make regarding their bodies, requires neither, male consent or endorsement. In teaching these concepts to our sons, we may re-imagine a new humanity and create a world in which the sovereignty, safety and autonomy of girls and women is guaranteed.
Jacqueline Michael Whatley is a Detroit born, Los Angeles-based writer and California State University Los Angeles alumna. She is currently an LA WEEKLY music picks columnist. For more information about the author, please visit: www.anthrojac.com
@ Staples Center
Following last year’s wildly successful inaugural event, BET Experience returns with an equally star-studded roster of performances from some of the biggest names in R&B and hip-hop. Headlining the three-day affair are Grammy Award winners Mary J. Blige, Jill Scott, Maxwell, Outkast and Jennifer Hudson. Marsha Ambrosius and rap darlings A$AP Rocky and Ty Dolla Sign also are scheduled. Gold and diamond VIP ticket packages confer insider access to all related BET events, including the BET exhibit at the Grammy Museum, celebrity basketball tournament, genius seminars and official after-parties; a pair of tickets to The 14th Annual BET Awards also is included. Performances by Trey Songz, Rick Ross and Love and Hip Hop star K. Michelle are scheduled as well. Also Saturday-Sunday, June 28-29. Fri.-Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Since its inception in 2006, the weekly Lincoln Heights–based Low End Theory party has been a mecca for fans and a launchpad for performers of experimental instrumental hip-hop (sometimes called “beat music”). Founded by Alpha Pup’s Daddy Kev, Low End Theory was inspired by the weekly 2003 parking-lot gathering known as Sketchbook. Hosted by rotating resident DJs Gaslamp Killer, Nobody, D-Styles and Nocando, Low End Theory is held quarterly in Japan and at random throughout Europe and Northern California. Headlining this year’s inaugural Low End Theory Festival are turntablism pioneers Invisibl Skratch Piklz, performing together for the first time in more than a decade; Odd Future’s The Internet; Baths; Ras G; and legendary Detroit DJ and dot connector House Shoes, among others. Also Sunday, June 15. (See Bizarre Ride, page 58, for more information.) —Jacqueline Michael Whatley
Fronted by vocal powerhouse Aaron Hall and R&B super-producer Teddy Riley, Guy dominated the U.S. music scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s with their innovative strain of jazzy hip-hop and R&B, often referred to as New Jack Swing. Since the mid 1990s, the Harlem trio has periodically disbanded and re-formed. After joining Guy for a highly praised reunion performance at the 2009 BET Awards, Riley confirmed in a 2010 interview that he was no longer a member of the group. Guy isn’t the only group performing without original members. Tonight’s show features performances by Oakland-based legends Tony! Toni! Toné! (sans Raphael Saadiq), Color Me Badd, H-Town, Force MDs and Ginuwine. -Jacqueline Michael Whatley
@ The Forum
With more than 130 millions albums sold worldwide, the Backstreet Boys are one of the best-selling bands in history. Once managed by infamous ’90s star-maker Lou Pearlman, who allegedly still owes the band over $3 million, the seven-time Grammy-nominated group defined the late ’90s with such hits as “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” “I’ll Never Break Your Heart” and “I Want It That Way.” In 2012, after a six-year hiatus from the band, Kevin Richardson rejoined the group. In 2013, the Boys independently released their eighth studio effort, In a World Like This. Tonight’s show is part of the In a World Like This tour and features early-2000s pop-punk darling Avril Lavigne. -Jacqueline Michael Whatley
@ El Rey
Los Angeles native Ty Dolla $ign is a quadruple threat. Originally trained in bass guitar, the “My Cabana” rapper is the son of Tyrone Griffin, keyboardist from late-’70s/early-’80s funk band Lakeside. Ty was also the writer and producer behind L.A. rapper YG’s 2010 smash hit, “Toot It and Boot It.” In January, Ty released his debut EP, Beach House, on Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang imprint and has since appeared on The Tonight Show and Arsenio Hall, among others. Tonight’s all-ages show features Joe Moses and Mila J. VIP ticket packages include a meet-and-greet and personal photograph with Ty, as well as a specially designed snapback. -Jacqueline Michael Whatley