Black Girl in a White World: the Harlem Shake Divide

I grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis, MN and attended a private school where I was one of four African American’s in my graduating class. And although I was a recipient of a scholarship dedicated to African American’s, my social circle in college, like that of my grade schooling, was predominantly white. As such, moving to San Francisco, where African Americans make up just 4% of the total population, wasn’t a huge culture shock.

As I have grown into my own identity as a black woman, the more I have not just actively sought out black community (case in point: this website), but also realized how my life is one that exists at the center of the venn diagram of black and white culture. The result, however, is…. not so black and white.

Case in point: the Harlem Shake meme

A friend sent it to me and I was initially confused because, what the hell? These people aren’t doing the Harlem Shake…they’re, like, gyrating in costumes and shit. I brushed it aside, not really “getting it” until my inbox and social media feeds started blowing up. As a gal who loves herself a good meme (and costumes), I paid attention and “got it”.

No no, this was not the shoulder shimmying dance “the Harlem Shake” I have known for decades, this was some sort of opportunity for people to get silly in front of the camera with their amigos. Count me in, because as I said: I LOVE MEMES AND COSTUMES.

I thought about doing my own version with little Lola over here or one with my friends in black tie on MUNI, the San Francisco bus system. But then I saw this video and got the wind taken out of my sails because I knew I could never recreate something as magical as this:

Finally at Triathlon practice last week, after a swim and a bike, I finally got to live my Harlem Shake dream and participate in my own version…wearing a Jack in the Box head. It was great.

I didn’t think much of it until my feeds started blowing up AGAIN, this time with articles about how RACIST and IGNORANT this new Harlem Shake meme was. A particularly compelling example of such belief is the video of people from Harlem reacting to the videos:

As I read the pieces about the “Harlem Shake Controversy” I started to reflect on my identity and frankly my Harlem Shaking. Apparently black people were supposed to find it offensive because it was a dance of their origin that had now been appropriated by white folks, but there I was, a black person, HS-ing right along with the rest of the mostly-white world.

After a few moments of self-questioning a phone call to my mom to discuss this cultural intersection at which I found myself, I realized that as a black person, this meme just does not make me angry. It was silly, fun and done without negative intentions. I was just confused that people didn’t know what the Harlem Shake is to begin with, but look at the bright side: NOW EVERYBODY DOES!!

In my opinion, sometimes we all just need to laugh.

The tens of thousands of videos made over 40,000,000 people laugh and have fun with their friends being silly. I sincerely believe the Harlem Shake meme was not done with any hurtful intentions or to degrade Black culture. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and soap boxes (I mean, I certainly like to get up on mine from time to time!) so I’m glad this is opening up larger discussions.

For the record, the best Harlem Shake dance I’ve ever seen was done by a white man (what’s up Snookums) and the best (creepiest?) Harlem Shake meme was done by some black folks. Just goes to show that we shouldn’t be boxing people in.

5 Jams You Didn’t Know You Needed to Hear Today (but you really do)

Yep. Fell into a bit of a throwback YouTube hole and found some GREAT throwback tracks that just don’t come around enough. I unabashedly grew up in the era where MTV Jams reigned supreme. TRL was a part of daily life and listening to the weekly top 40 (with a casette recorder ready to go) was a MUST. These are the songs of my childhood and teenage-dom, the perfect feel good stuff for a Saturday! Enjoy!

Angie Martinez – If I Could Go Feat Sacario & Lil’ Mo

Soul 4 Real – Every Little Thing I Do

US3 – Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)

Ummm….that was pretty fun and I’ve got lots more where that came from! Happy weekend! :)

heartbreak-hotel-dress-collar-blog

My Night With Turquoise Jeep. Amazeballz. (+video interview!)

I’ve been waiting for this moment for years and last night I not only got to see Turquoise Jeep perform live just blocks from my house BUT I also got to sit down and chat with them all! That’s right! Imagine little ol Cass and Lola sandwiched between Flynt Flo$$y and Yung Humma and flanked by Whachamacalit, Pretty Raheem and Tummiscratch. And YES I did ask Yung Humma when we were going to see a natural style from him. It was truly the ish dreams are made of, but don’t take my word for it! Check this interview!

Me and the TJR boyz

Me and Yung Humma backstage

The concert itself was amazingly fun! I’ve been to many a concert at this venue (The Independent) and I’ve NEVER and I mean NEVER seen so many people in the space! The show was completely sold out and people were going crazy! The guys put on a fabulous show and really brought it with the dancing by doing some serious choreo. It was an absolute effing blast. Here’s a video of them closing out the show with “Did I Mention I Like to Dance”, which includes Flynt Flo$$y’s signature moonwalk.

I also want so announce the winner of the TJR t-shirt contest! Congratulations to RENON!!!! WOOOOOO!!! You’ve got your very own Turquoise Jeep t-shirt coming your way! Drop me an email so we can get that shipped to you!

All in all, such a fun night! #KTJR!

Never Have I Been More Excited. Ever.

For months I have been waiting for this.  I have sent emails.  I have tweeted.  I have commented all over YouTube.  Finally–FINALLY– my dreams are coming true.

FLYNT FLO$$Y, YUNG HUMMA and the REST OF THE TURQUOISE JEEP CREW ARE COMING TO SAN FRANCISCO!!!!!  Yes, that’s right, the guys behind the hit jams “Lemme Smang It“, “Did I Mention I Like to Dance” and “Sex Syrup” are finally coming to The Bay!  I emitted a shriek of glee when I saw their names on the calendar for The Independent on August 27th.

Not only am I going to be there, but I actually get to sit down with my favorite musical sensations and interview them!!!  I have soooo many questions to ask! So many things to chat about! But really what I’m grappling with is whether or not to wear my Yung Humma costume that I rocked during Halloween last year (that also gained us a feature in the TJR Halloween Fan Tribute).  Let’s be real, it was one of my finer moments.

 

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the gloriousness that is TJR, you’re missing out, so I suggest checking out this post and listening to a few tracks.  #WORTHIT

Now in anticipation of this awesomeness, the guys from TJR have released a SUPER SPECIAL TRACK called “Gotta Go to Cali” in anticipation of their trip out to the Best Coast.

 

Also check out their new dance jam “Put Your Hands on It”— The virtual reality! Whachamacalit’s JT-like flow! The thumpin groove!

Seeing as I am a serrrrrious fan, I obviously have a Flynt Flo$$y t-shirt! Want to win one of your very own TJR shirts!? Bet you do!!! Leave a comment below and I’ll pick a winner at random on the day of the concert. Make sure to get your ticket! I’ll be seeing ya there!

Happy Friday Y’all!!!

FRIDAY FIYAH!

Sometimes, you just gotta wile out.  It’s just a plain reality of life.  This weekend’s about to be 80 degrees and gorgeous here in SF (it only goes about 70 about 5 times a year here so it’s really a cause for celebration!)  In an effort to kick off a kick ass weekend,  thought I’d leave you with some FRIDAY FIYAH a.k.a. a track that is makin’ me and Lola all like:

I haven’t stopped listening to this new track by Theophilus London feat A$AP Rocky in three days. Turn up the speakers and wait til the beat drops…you’ll see!

Speaking of fun musicians, did I ever tell you about how I met two awesome American artists while in Paris? Robert Glasper and Bilal! Miss AfroFly took me and my friends out to a club one evening, Djoon, for a party, which just happened to be one of the most fun club scenes I’ve ever been to. Just beautifully diverse with fantastic soul/funk/R&B. Anywho, I recognized this track playing:

I was struck because I had just seen Robert Glasper and Bilal playing in Oakland two weeks previously and hearing this song in Paris made me smile. Then I look beside me and see Bilal cruising through the crowd and I went up to him and was like…”uh, hey. I just saw you two weeks ago in Oakland.” I think the fact that I started speaking to him was clearly a surprise because he just smiled and gave me a hug and we snapped a pic:

Cass and Bilal a Paris

Then I ended up figuring out he was there with Robert Glasper because they had just performed together (I imagine the same concert I had just seen) so when I ran into him, he was all “Oakland!? What the hell are you doing here!?” It was a fun surprise for us all!

Cass and Robert Glasper in Paris

Highly recommend you check their music out!

Hope you enjoyed! What are you getting into this weekend?? Happy Friday y’all!! :)

 

Making The Most Of Your Products! (even the ones you hated)

In almost every natural’s journey, there is a time when she or he goes through a massive shopping spree of products. Trying out a whole smorgasbord of conditioners (deep, leave-in, and rinse-out), oils, butters, souffles, pomades and poos can leave you with an empty wallet and *only* a hand full of products that actually WORK like you want them to.

The fact of the matter is that not all products you try will WORK for you. Which is fine, no one and no product is perfect. The issue is finding something productive to do with all of the half-full fallen soldiers from the Battle of Product Junkyism. You don’t want to just let them sit there and collect them dust— you paid good money for them after all!

Here’s a round up of helpful suggestions for repurposing those products that DIDN’T make the cut for your coils:

 

  • SHAMPOO: Rather than soaping your scalp, lather up a loofah with your shampoo and use it as a BODY WASH.  I personally don’t think I’ve bought a new body wash in months because of all the shampoos that Lola didn’t end up liking.
  • Continue reading

Kanye! Stevie! Fest-i-Curls! OH MY!!!!

This past weekend, I attended Austin City Limits – a 200,000 person music festival featuring some of the largest names in music. It was a rollicking good time to float from stage to stage to a bar to another stage and to another bar all while steeping in sunshine and live music.

View of the festival grounds with Austin skyline in the background.

 

Um. I also kinda cheated on NaturalSelection over the weekend and was guest blogging up a storm about the festival over on other sites.

First there’s LiveMusicBlog.com where I wrote up reviews on the Kanye West and Stevie Wonder sets. Both were AMAZING shows and were highlights of my festival experience. Check them out here:

Both of these posts come with awesome photo galleries with great shots of the artists’ performances.  Here’s a sneak preview of one of my favorite shots from the galleries:
Then over on NaturallyCurly, I did a round up of the best curls I saw in the crowd and on stage at the festival.  To see that gallery post go here:
In an effort to create a funky, festival-worthy hair style, I used a duckbill clip to pin up one half of my hair to create an asymmetrical volume.  A 10-second style?? Yes please!  I left the clip in and rocked it for a couple days.

With my friend Sarah on ACL Day 2

Then on Sunday (the 3rd day of the festival), I washed and used my Deep Leave-In and was on my way for a day of merry making at the festival complete with more music and making friends with another curly who happened to ALSO be from San Francisco! (See you back on the Left Coast, Ashleigh!)  She’s an excellent photographer who was at the festival shooting the shows and scene for NBC.  (I highly recommend you check out her galleries too!)
It’s been a good time here in Texas and I’ll be back for a quick second next week for Shear Style presented by NaturallyCurly.com.  But by the time you’re reading this, I’ll be on a jetplane down to the Virgin Islands for a few days for a very exciting #naturalhair event!  Stay tuned for updates from the Caribbean!

Internatural: Maira Freitas (Brasil)

I got a tweet from my friend who frequents Rio, Sao Paolo, and Brasila saying that he had found my Brazilian hair twin.

“Oh yea?  Let’s see her,” I replied.

And thanks to the wonders of the internet and a little blue bird called TwitPic, I had her mug in my inbox within a matter of hours.  Turns out she’s no ordinary natural on the street, but a Brasilian singer and pianist.  #ALREADYFLATTERED

I love Brasilian music so much.  Like so much, so the fact that Sheed likened me to someone famous for performing my favorite genre of music really floored me.

TwitPic sent from @IntlSwagger

Flatteredness aside, I decided to take a little perusal on the ol YouTube to check Miss Freitas out and LOVED her stuff!  Here’s some of her songs and videos for you to enjoy!

 

 

 
Love her flower in this one

Be sure to check out her baby pic shots at :20 and :39 #idied. Then let the soothing sounds of the Portuguese language wash over you as you enjoy the rest! :)

Good song, great hair!

Intimate rehearsal vid. (Love the headband and earrings!)

Personally, I’m loving her sound AND her hair of course! Let’s give a big thanks to Rasheed for turning us on to this InterNATURAL beauty from Brasil!

Happy Friday, y’all!

MMMMMMYungHumma’s back [with a natural] !

I’ve been waiting for MONTHS to somehow feature Flynt Flo$$y and Yung Humma of Turquoise Jeep Records on Natural Selection, but considering their shared affinity for UN-natural hair (think: faux goatees, stick-on moustaches, and pigtailed wigs), I would have been really forcing it.  Like, really forcing it.

 

Flynt Flo$$y - Mentioning that he likes to DANCE and that he is his favorite rapper

 

Yung Humma - Smashin and bangin it.

 

I have spent hours watching the internet sensation’s videos on YouTube, fascinated by their too-catchy-for-their-own-good songs such as “Did I Mention I Like to Dance”, “Lemme Smang It”, “Sex Syrup”, and “Stretchy Pants”. I’ve been absolutely captivated by the over-sexed, under-produced, uber-budget, danced-up tracks and vids by the Turquoise Jeep posse. Hell, I even went all the way in and bought a gd t-shirt!

 

aggressively proud that Flynt Flo$$y is in fact my favorite rapper

But days and weeks passed with nary a mention of Turquoise Jeep Records on Natural Selection until yesterday when little birdie on my computer screen popped up and let me know that Yung Humma had a new video.  So I clicked on the new piece titled “Happy Sexgiving” and was DELIGHTED, and I mean absolutely DELIGHTED to see a beautiful set of curls in the video!!!  Finally, oh joyous joy, a legitimate reason to blog about TJR and Yung Humma!!!  Without further ado:

I mean, doesn’t homegirl have gorgeous curls?? Way to support the naturals, Turquoise Jeep!!!!! I would also love to say that Mr. Humma’s flowing locks are looking mighty good these days, but I can’t wait to see him rock some ringlets!

And just for good measure, here’s a few of my other favorite TJR tracks. You’re very welcome for this special Friday treat! Happy weekend y’all!!

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