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Culture

Critical Noir: Confessions of a ThugNiggaIntellectual

If you need to know what the boundaries of diction are, listen to my reformed ghetto-ass.

Music

D'Angelo's Anti-Producer Project, 'Voodoo'

D'Angelo's Voodoo may well be the working blueprint for "post-Soul" black pop, but are pop fans ready to embrace more than the same five melodies and the same five bass-lines?

Music

Teddy Pendergrass: Life Was a Song Worth Singing

Pendergrass' popularity lie in his performance of a masculinity that was virile and tailor-made for a cultural discourse in the '70s that had moved beyond the struggles for civil rights.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

The Demise of Vibe Magazine and the Future of Criticism

With diminishing places for thoughtful criticism, black cultural critics exist as little more than commentators on the Obama White House. Blackness has been reduced to a news cycle.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Should Black Radio Die?

The idea of black radio has long been dead as companies like Clear Channel and Emmis have mined the field for “authentic” black on-air talent, while having little to do with the communities they exist to serve.

Mark Anthony Neal
Culture

Carrying the Water: On Michael Eric Dyson

It is Dyson’s ability to make himself and his work accessible to lay audiences -- ironically much like grassroots activists -- that makes him a target for those folk within the academy and elsewhere, who don’t believe that his work is rigorous enough.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

The Last Soul Brother: James Brown (1933-2006)

The humanity of the man -- with its funky and messy flaws and frailties -- could never sustain the myth, so much so that the image of the man who gave Black Power its soundtrack became a harsh reminder of its fractured legacy.

Mark Anthony Neal
Sports

(White) Male Privilege, Black Respectability, and Black Women's Bodies

The case of some white Duke University Lacrosse team members accused of raping a black woman is all about immorality; but sadly, not the immorality of the violent act alleged.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Kanye Walks

By making public his struggles with living a devout life, Kanye West makes such a lifestyle so much more accessible and valuable to the very folk that need spirituality to get them through the day to day. West becomes the receptacle for the folk to think of a 'Jesus' that is truly of the people.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Gritty Soul Men: Remembering Lou Rawls and Wilson Pickett

Grit was not just about the 'sound' of soul, but also the grittier social and political realities that soul music offered transcendence from. The recent deaths of Lou Rawls and Wilson Pickett mark the passing of two of the grittiest Soul Men to walk the earth.

Mark Anthony Neal
Film

A Nigger Un-Reconstructed: The Legacy of Richard Pryor

With each epithet and curse, Pryor shed light on the humanity of those folks who live a reality defined by the dirty, nasty business of race, gender, and poverty in the United States.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

R&B Conversations: Rahsaan Patterson's Slow Burn

The soul singer's career momentum has built slowly since he lost the major labels' love, but out of the spotlight he's been able to remain true to the unique promise of his singularly emotive voice.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Rhythm and Bullshit?: The Slow Decline of R&B, Epilogue

If the best new artists are shut out from urban radio, what's an R&B fan to do? Here, some suggestions of where to look for the genre's current torchbearers.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Rhythm and Bullshit?: The Slow Decline of R&B, Part One: Rhythm & Business

Does the soulless sound of contemporary R&B really have its roots in a controversial Harvard study from 1972, an alleged blueprint for the corporate theft of black culture's heritage? Or was it all Clive Davis's idea? The first of a three-part examination of how R&B became big business on the way to becoming irrelevant.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Common: Be

Electric Circus pushed the boundaries of hip-hop -- a psychedelic trip to hip-hop's great beyond -- Be just finds a world-wide Common back home standing on the corner. But you can't go home again and no matter how much he wishes, the Common of Can I Borrow a Dollar? is not the same Common of Be -- and thank God for that.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

John Legend: Get Lifted

Legend has fashioned a rather nuanced and sophisticated debut -- a Nora Jones for the R&B faithful.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Gerald Levert: Do I Speak for the World

A bold (and blatantly commercial) attempt to bring purpose to R&B -- and to bring soul music back to the world.

Mark Anthony Neal
Culture

The Real 'Nigger' Show

Maybe Sambo did die, but there's been a resurrection -- one worthy of a billion dollar industry -- and the opening segment of last week's Monday Night Football broadcast, the Vibe Awards ceremony that was broadcast the following night and the closing minutes ESPN's Friday night NBA game between the Detroit Pistons and the Indiana Pacers were proof that Sambo and the minstrel stage that so powerfully nurtured his existence are still alive and well and whetting the appetites of those desiring the 'real nigger show'.

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Talib Kweli's Beautiful Struggle

On his way to commercial breakthrough, has Talib Kweli sacrificed his social conscience? Or has he simply grounded it in the more fundamental matters of family and the love of the flow?

Mark Anthony Neal
Music

Queen Latifah: The Dana Owens Album

The album is a tribute to Queen Latifah's talents and her musical tastes, and a an example of what the so-called hip-hop generation can produce, when we allow them to grow up.

Mark Anthony Neal
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