Posted in Feature Spotlight, Jaya's Pop Culture Minute-PCM, On The Radar

Jaya’s Pop Culture Minute (PCM)- “A Year in Review”

Not only do you get Dr. G’s 2021 Faves, but I had to make sure I gave you a bonus list! Check out Black Future Feminist Intern Jaya as she offers her two cents for 2021!!

Here is a list of my favorite things that came out and/or discovered for the first time this year. These are things that I discovered that really stuck with me through this crazy year. So for my final post of 2021 here are a few things that got me through this year and here’s to a new year!

My Favorite Albums:

  • Paul’s Boutique ~Beastie Boys
  • Midnight Marauders ~A Tribe Called Quest
  • Call Me If You Get Lost ~Tyler the Creator
  • Vs. ~Pearl Jam
  • There is Nothing Left To Lose ~Foo Fighters
  • Divine Feminine ~Mac Miller
  • Planet Her ~Doja Cat
  • Lately I Feel Everything ~Willow Smith
Photo by Jessica Lynn Lewis on Pexels.com

My Favorite Books:

  • Hamlet ~William Shakespeare
  • Flowers for Algernon ~Daniel Keyes
  • The Handmaid’s Tale ~Margaret Atwood
  • A Game of Thrones ~George R.R. Martin
  • The Song of Achilles ~Madeline Miller
Photo by Taryn Elliott on Pexels.com

My Favorite Movies:

  • Eternals (2021)
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021)
  • The Last Black Man in San Francisco (2019)
  • Sound of Metal (2019)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  • The Truman Show (1998)
  • Fargo (1996)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels.com

My Favorite TV Shows:

  • Invincible (Prime Video)
  • Squid Game (Netflix)
  • Arrested Development (Netflix)
  • Clickbait (Netflix)
  • The Falcon and The Winter Soldier (Disney+)
  • Hawkeye (Disney+)
  • Downton Abbey (Peacock)
  • Gotham (Netflix)
  • Cowboy Bebop [Anime] (Funimation)
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

Cheers to what is to come in 2022!!

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts..., On the Desk...

Closing Out Another Year…Saying Goodbye to 2021!!

Another day gone, Another month passed, Another year for the books. 2021 was meant to be a year of recovery and renewal, and in many ways it was just that and in others…well I have no words to describe it. For me personally 2021 was a year of celebrations, milestones, and eye-opening experiences. So much happened that I had to put it in a post, and even when I think about all that I do remember there is still so much more that happened that I probably missed.

Alright because there is no avoiding this topic COVID-19…In 2021 we finally got vaccines and boosters…A few variants named Delta and Omicron would rock the world and really shake things up…We would have a few celebrities who all of sudden became PhD’s and MD’s over night, overshared, or did foolish things under the umbrella of corona (yep talking about you Nicki Minaj, Gal Gadot, Antonio Brown, Aaron Rodgers)…CDC shortening the quarantine time

Through this recovery and renewal we did get to see our favorite sports games in full swing with the 2020 Summer Olympics happening in July…the Milwaukee Bucks winning the NBA Championship 50 years since their last one…that UCLA vs. Gonzaga NCAA Final Four match-up…and in true fashion the induction of Kobe Bryant into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame 

We FINALLY got that Justice League: Snyder Cut (worth every bit of the 4 hours and 2 mins)…We were blessed with Nia DaCosta’s Candyman and the fineness that is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II…I will never look at Red-Light, Green-Light the same, Thank you “Squid Game”….As I said in a previous post we saw the end of an era with the series finale of Issa Rae’s “Insecure” (THANK YOU!! THANK YOU!!) this show’s impact goes way beyond the screen…It felt good to be back in the movie theaters even if I was masked up…HBO Max’s “Succession” and “And Just Like That”…Lady Gaga and House of Gucci…The MCU came back strong on both television and film…and we also got Coming 2 America

In the music world we got some closure with Britney Spear conservatorship…a new album “Heaux Tales” from Jazmine Sullivan (we had been waiting since 2015), Thank you Jazmine!!…Questlove brought us “Summer of Soul” (a true gift that you can check out on Hulu)…Travis Scott & Astroworld… Verzuz gave us Chaka Khan/Stephanie Mills, Keith Sweat/Bobby Brown, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Three Six Mafia, Big Daddy Kane/KRS-One

As the title of this post reads, “Saying Goodbye to 2021” there are a few things that simply get a N’SYNC ‘Bye Bye’ and nothing more. We got to say #ByeBye to #45 and good riddance. #ByeBye to the Cuomo Brothers. #ByeBye to the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond, VA, definitely glad I do not have to pass that anymore.

The Oh My Goodness Moments…January 6th-Capitol Attack (I remember that day so vividly)…that Meghan and Harry interview with Oprah…the partial collapse of a 12-story condominium in Surfside, Florida…Juneteenth became a federal holiday…Lil Nas X shoe saga…Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb”

Convictions were handed down to Derek Chauvin, Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, William “Roddie” Bryan, Kim Potter, Ghislaine Maxwell and for a few moments the families of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Daunte Wright and the numerous girls and teens were given some sort of justice.

Oh and we can’t for get the random things that elevated our lives, changed the game, and even give the side-eye. Who would have thought the air fryer would make such a huge impact. Total Game Changer!! A few smh moments like the #MilkcrateChallenge, the coin shortage, Bernie Sanders mittens, The Weeknd’s performance at Super Bowl LV, Clubhouse came and made a splash and well…and the viral video of the white woman hiding a stuffed Lynx cat in her bosom…the petition to stop interviewing Will and Jada Pinkett Smith

Celebrating Life…A Memorial…Just when I think I get over one loss, then comes another and another…2021 is no different. Before January 2021 ended we lost a gentle soul of a woman Cicely Tyson. I had just picked up her memoir and was preparing to dive in, let’s just say her presence was definitely felt as I voraciously read through each page. Tyson would only be the beginning…We would also lose some heavy hitters in the acting world my DST soror Suzzane Douglas, Christopher Plummer, Ed Asner, Micheal K. Williams (This man was just hitting his prime!! You definitely have to check out his catalog of work), Melvin Van Peebles…some HUGE icons that really hit home for me Anne Rice, Beverly Clearly (need to go pull out my Ramona Quimby & Beezus and Ramona books), archbishop Desmond Tutu, bell hooks (her work will forever live through my research), Gloria Richardson (a civil right pioneer)…music legends Mary Wilson, Biz Markie and DMX…Sports legends Hank Aaron, John Madden (I just knew he would live forever), Tommy Lasorda, Elgin Baylor, Leon Spinks…the first African American Secretary of State Colin Powell…Prince Phillip…cultural personality Larry King…and a final tribute Men’s fashion style icon Virgil Abloh…

Let’s Talk Mental Health…Thank you Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka for giving us a live and in living color definition of mental health preservation…

The Elements definitely had their way in 2021 with the tornadoes ripping through Kentucky and other parts of the Midwest and South…Hurricane Ida…Winter Storm in Texas…Wild fires in Colorado…Heatwave in Oregon

Can’t forget some #DropTheMic Moments Nikole Hannah-Jones being denied tenure at UNC-Chapel Hill but then making a boss move becoming the inaugural Knight Chair in Race and Journalism at Howard University’s School of Communications…HBCU’s partnering with the tech world to address the diversity gap…Joy Reid becoming the first Black woman to host a primetime talk show on a major network (MSNBC)…Deion Sanders changing the football game via HBCU Jackson State University…

2021 also brought us a lot of Fashion Moments ranging from Michelle Obama and Amanda Gorman’s inauguration outfits…the Met Gala…Pyer Moss (Kerby Jean Raymond) became the first Black designer to present at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week (C’est Magnifique!!)

Now personally 2021 was the year I turned 40, I got to go on a few trips in and out of the U.S. (Oh I how I miss that Dominican coffee and beautiful sunshine)…I was back in-person in the classroom…I dealt with trauma, anxiety, and depression (always a work in progress)…I made it through my first year as a tenure-track professor…I got Vaxxed and Boosted…learned a lot more about myself…continued to navigate finding that ultimate balance…and one of my proudest moments, I launched Black Future Feminist!!

We will see what 2022 brings us…

~Dr. G

Posted in A Professor's Thoughts...

A Professor’s Thoughts…

“Outkast and the Rise of the Hip-Hop South” (Book Review)*

“The South got something to say!” This call to arms from Outkast member André Benjamin (better known as André 3000) best summarizes the frustration, the need to self-validate, and the opportunity to make Outkast’s presence known within the hip-hop landscape and the South. These words also resonate as a proclamation of resilience as well as another approach to how we understand the southern narrative. 

In Chronicling Stankonia: The Rise of the Hip-Hop South, African American literature and southern hip-hop scholar Regina N. Bradley offers an intersectional examination of the contemporary southern Black and hip-hop identity via the Atlanta hip-hop rap duo Outkast. Bradley centers the musical and cultural work of Outkast (an acronym for “Operating under the Krooked American System Too Long”)** and highlights their relevance to hip-hop and Southern (specifically Atlanta) culture. Coming from a post-Civil Rights lens, Bradley provides a multi-layered approach to the various southern experiences of obtaining the American Dream while Black.

Big Boi and André 3000 perform as OutKast, October 18, 2014 (Sterling Munksgard / Shutterstock.com)

As a southern text, Chronicling Stankonia blends music, literature, film, and southern history while simultaneously giving voice to the Black American South and a musical culture that has often been ignored and sidelined by Northern/East Coast contemporaries. Additionally, Bradley makes southern Black musical storytelling very legible by weaving in her own personal narratives as well as using Outkast as a focal point. 

Bradley’s introduction, “The Mountaintop Ain’t Flat,” is a personal introduction to her background as a product of the American South. More specifically, her entry point to southern hip-hop via Outkast suggests another entry point for how we examine American southern hip hop beyond just being culture producers. Influenced by such post-Civil Rights Black cultural texts as Nelson George’s Post-Soul Nation, Mark Anthony Neal’s Soul Babies, and Zandria Robinson’s This Ain’t Chicago, Bradley inserts a specific southern experience, which had not been done previously. Also, through her personal interests and professional engagement with Outkast, Bradley acknowledges how they function as architects of the Atlanta hip-hop scene by using rap as a tool of “signifying their existence as young Black men” along with how they push against the dominant hip-hop scripts (p. 7). As Black southerners, Outkast redefine what it means to be Black and southern.  

In the first chapter, “The Demo Tape Ain’t Nobody Wanna,” Bradley further argues why Outkast should be taken seriously academically, socially, musically, culturally, and globally. As contemporary post-Civil Rights icons, Bradley engages with Outkast’s unapologetic nature to contribute regular sonic commentary on the South, the nation, Black manhood, class, socioeconomic status, and racial displacement. Through Black futuristic imaginings of the hip-hop South, Outkast’s earlier semi-autobiographical work Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994) followed by ATLiens (1996), Bradley examines their ability to be metaphorical wordsmiths and lyricists who resituate the gaze on how the Black south is perceived and acknowledged. Furthermore, their lyrics create a space to make certain communities (local and regional) that have been marginalized feel visible and seen.

In the second and third chapters, Bradley incorporates the blending of literature, film, and television with hip-hop to discuss storytelling, hip-hop aesthetics, and the preservation of southern culture and traditions. Chapter 2, “Spelling Out the Work,” reflects on Kiese Laymon’s book, Long Division (2013), and the complexity of southern Black culture. Both Outkast’s and Laymon’s ability to not sanitize trauma and southern Black culture and how they exist in the past, present, and future speaks to how they both use hip-hop aesthetics as a form of storytelling to connect readers to universal truths about ourselves that transcend generations. Drawing on Mississippi’s history of trauma and racial terror, Bradley brings Laymon’s work into the discussion of southern Black culture and how he also features Outkast’s 1998 track “Aquemini” in the context of the Mississippi Freedom Summer and Hurricane Katrina. Through Laymon’s text, Bradley also examines the legitimacy of hip-hop masculinity, acknowledging the multiple southern Black experiences and even tapping into the need to center southern Black women’s and girl’s experiences. Chapter 3, “Reimagining Slavery in the Hip Hop Imagination,” takes a similar approach to explore storytelling with alternate realities through the relationship of hip-hop aesthetics, the American South, collective memory, and slavery. This reimagining of slavery in hip-hop imagination troubles the idea of what slavery looks like in popular culture. Here, Bradley explores the blending of sonic hip-hop sounds with southern slave narrative visuals such as Kanye West in the opening scene of the WGN series Underground and Tupac Shakur and Rick Ross in the 2012 film Django Unchained. From these relational interpretations, Bradley argues that each of the above sonically and visually reclaim a southern Black identity while remaking the plantation and slave narrative.

The final chapter, “Still Ain’t Forgave Myself,” questions the southern hip-hop space via the lens of “the trap” through the sonic sounds of Clifford “T.I.” Harris and Mississippi author Jesmyn Ward’s books, Where the Line Bleeds and Men We ReapedT.I.’s lyrics and complicated personal and rap life coupled with Ward’s narration of socioeconomic disparities speak to the pressures of hypervisibility and the consequences attached. Like Laymon, Bradley points out the way Ward weaves the experiences of Black men and boys and southern hip hop as a “unifying thread.”  Ultimately, both works as described by Bradley, also situate “the trap” as a space for southern Black men to grieve, to mourn, and to be legible. 

Bradley argues that the South, much like Blackness, is not monolithic and it should be read the same way. Chronicling Stankonia serves as a successful investigation on how and why we should expand our thoughts about how southern Blackness and hip-hop operate. She not only takes a deep dive into Outkast and southern hip-hop but manages to celebrate their longevity and create larger conversations surrounding Black masculinity, regional legacies, and identity formations/politics. Bradley’s ability to go back and forth between her own personal/social encounters and intellectual experiences provides a captivating example of what it means to be a fan-scholar. 

Moreover, Chronicling Stankonia contributes to the growing legacy of southern hip-hop studies, which includes Darren Grem’s essay, “The South Got Something” (2006), Ali Colleen Neff’s book, Let the World Listen Right (2009), Maco Faniel’s book, Hip Hop in Houston (2013), and the upcoming edited volume, An Outkast Reader: Essays on Race, Gender, and Postmodern South. Bradley’s ability to bring more attention to the dearth of academic representation on southern hip hop (particularly in Atlanta) speaks to how André 3000’s earlier statement continues to reign supreme: “the South still got something to say.” 

  • *Previously posted in Black Perspectives
  • **This moniker also operated initially as a way to address their (initial) displacement in the hip hop landscape (based on the dominant northeastern aesthetics).

~Dr. G

Posted in Monthly Book Recommendations, Resources

Dr. G’s February 2021-Book Recommendations

When I tell you I love to read that is really an understatement! Outside of traveling and going to the movies, I have always loved picking up a book and getting my reading fix. I remember as a kid participating in reading challenges in school and at the local library, going to the Scholastic Book fair, and Now my fondest memory when it comes to reading was the Pizza Hut Book-It program, collecting those 5 golden stars was the key to many dinners that included a personal pan pizza. (All Cheese for me!!) What a cool way to encourage reading! And for many of my friends it “low-key” became a competition to not only see who could read the most, but also who could collect the most pizza coupons. One thing was for sure, my mama and grandma did not have to worry about whether I was into reading!

Image result for pizza hut book it
Old School “Book It” pin

The importance of reading has always and continues to be a regular topic of conversation and discussion, especially in the K-12 school system. We are at a point, where you can literally access a book or magazine via your phone, tablet, iPad, laptop, and of course old school physical book. And even though there are many avenues for reading books these days (Kindle, Audible, AudioBooks Now, Downpour, Apple Audio Books, Scribd, Libro.fm, and many more) it is nothing like having the hard, physical copy. For me it’s all about being able to turn the page, fold the corners, write in the date/year when I got it, and using a creative, colorful bookmark.

But I could go on and on about my love of books and reading!! As a result of this bibliophilia, I wanted to make sure that I shared with you on a monthly basis some book recommendations. Each month I will share my top 5 books to read and/or add to your library. These books will range from memoirs, to academic research books, to graphic novels, and much more. Each month will be a new surprise!! So without further ado here is my February 2021 Book Recommendations:

And if you missed January’s recommendation you can check out the list in the “Resource” section of the website!

~Dr. G