Complexity: Now available in COLOR
by Angie Cee
I’m still on a high from our 2015 Emmy wins a few weeks ago and from seeing Ms. Janet Jackson LIVE. Listen, I feel invincible right about now. And with all that’s going on I thank my sisters in the arts for lifting the tide of heaviness that is our world right now. I wasn’t planning to write a piece but as I was basking in the glow of Viola Davis’ fro and a friend sent me a text about “THAT” scene from How To Get Away With Murder. What scene? Oh you know the one where the perfectly coiffed and made up character that Davis plays takes off her mask step by step to reveal her bare face and then her natural hair. As we discussed the power of that moment I thought about Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren , Cookie Lyon, Aliyah Shaheed, and Annalise Keating played respectively by Uzo Aduba, Taraji P Henson, Regina King, and Viola Davis. (I want to include Tracee and Kerry but I’ll leave them for another day). I wanted to take a moment and celebrate the complexity of these characters and how amazing it is that they are not only loved by the droves of people who watch them but also the critics and award giving bodies.
There was a time where the consensus was that most non white characters or non white leads needed to “redeem their race” by being morally perfect/upstanding. When diverse images and stories are rare or non-existent this viewpoint is somewhat understandable. However in the last few years we’ve seen an array of characters and stories that gave writers and audiences permission to indulge in this more balanced and varied picture of ourselves. For example a brilliant incarcerated black woman with mental issues. A mother and hustler turned convict turned record executive with a penchant for fur and animal print and spotting a HIT. A deeply religious sister with amazing networking skills, a past, and the power of her convictions. A powerful lawyer with more issues than I can count who is also professor with a husband, a boy toy, and an adoring set of fans, um students, I mean students. I love and live for the 3 dimensional way these characters are written. They aren’t perfect and they won’t allow you to dismiss them or their brilliance because morally they don’t fit your definition of respectable.
Their characters are a part of a movement of realness on the small screen. Writers, showrunners, and actors doing things differently. Deciding that characters don’t have to be morally perfect to be the heroine of the show. This has been happening for the last few years (think Mad Men, Breaking Bad, even Despicable Me) or so but now it’s available in COLOR. Usually because there were only a few non white faces on the show or on the network at any given time people wanted them to be our most flawless selves. But what we get with John Ridley’s American Crime, ShondaLand and Orange is the New Black is a tapestry of humanity. People who are brilliant but do dumb things, people are really great at one thing but terrible at another. Put it all together and you have can’t miss TV.
The actors who take on the challenges of these brilliant complex characters do it with a fierce respect for the acting and for us black women as a whole. I love them for being vulnerable, powerful, funny, and GREAT. At the to the 2015 Emmys and we witnessed their hard work was being honored. Awesomely Luvvie called it the blackest Emmys ever. Yasssssss. While Taraji didn’t win for playing Cookie she won our hearts for being the supportive friend we love to see. She beamed brightly while handing the trophy off to her friend Regina King & YASSSSS’d in unison with us at home while she did it. If you missed Regina King in American Crime last season please get it into. Like ASAP. Viola won the Emmy for Lead Actress in a drama series for her portrayal of Annalise in How to Get Away With Murder. And if the season opener was any indication of what’s to come she may be headed for her 2nd nomination as the brilliantly flawed lawyer. So again thank you ladies and show creators for being brave enough to let us see OURSELVES live in living color on television. Images matter, well crafted stories matter, and I’m glad the mainstream is recognizing that…for now at least
Brown Sugar is written by Angie Cee for Fresh Radio. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for interview, event coverage and reviews. Follow online IG- @abitofbrownsugar twitter- @abitofbrownsuga
Rudy Currence is R&B Royalty
by Angie Cee
I love r&b and soul. It’s the majority of what I listen to. Add a little splash of punk and I’m all in. There was a brief moment after the 90s r&b movement when it seemed like there wasn’t anything new and fresh out there. However the musical landscape is wide open right now and the artists are taking risks, mixing genres and bringing back quality songwriting. South Carolina Native and Grammy Award winner RUDY CURRENCE is a singer/songwriter/producer doing just that with his latest single “ROYAL BLUE”. Learn more about him in our BROWN SUGAR interview. Be sure to check the links at the bottom for upcoming dates and links to his music.
Brown Sugar– As always paying homage to my column’s namesake I like to start interviews with the same question she used in the film “When did you fall in love with hip hop…” in your case let’s sub hip hop for music in general?
Rudy Currence- Since before I can remember… I’ve always loved music. I remember as a child wanting to be better, sing better, play better. That grew into wanting to be a better writer and producer as well. I still feel like a student of music. You should never stop learning.
Brown Sugar–Your bio calls you a Triple Threat. Producer, Writer, Singer. If you could only do one for the rest of your life which one would it be and why *in my teacher voice* ?
Rudy Currence-I could never choose one. It’s like a parent picking a favorite child. They’re all like siblings, all connected and I love them all equally. I will say that so far, I’ve won a Grammy for my production and been nominated for another Grammy for my writing. So now I’m waiting on my singing to catch up! Lol
Brown Sugar– For people not familiar with you as an artist choose three words to describe you and your sound.
Rudy Currence-Timeless, Innovative, Soulful (and Inspiring… I hope! LOL)
Rudy Currence“Royal Blue” is the first single from my new album, “The Coronation”. Like the album, I wanted Royal Blue (the single and cover art) to have a regal quality but still be creative and fresh. It represents the fact that our generation can identify with being “Kings and Queens” instead of thugs and thots. Also, I aspire to one day be classified as musical royalty. Lastly, the Bible says “If you be faithful over few things, I (God) will make you ruler over many things. That means that we can all be royal if we stay faithful.
Brown Sugar– Soul singers/ r&b crooners can be found up and down our social media timelines. What do you bring to the landscape that distinguishes you as an artist?
Rudy Currence-No one can be you, but you… So I bring me. As far as writing, I love to tell stories and talk about subjects we can all relate to, but in an innovative way that no one else is doing. Also, as an indie artist, I’ve learned how to use social media to my advantage. I’m still learning since social media is constantly changing, but it’s definitely become a great promotional platform for me.
Brown Sugar– How do your gospel roots add something to your current content and or musical style?
Rudy Currence- My gospel roots have definitely taught me how to be a better entertainer. In church, you learn how to connect with all types of audience, improvise and give a passionate delivery. I thank my Dad, who is a Pastor in Rock Hill, SC and my Mom who helps manage me for raising my brother, Mykal Star and I in the church. Keeping God first and having a support system helps me to stay grounded. Also my gospel roots have taught me that music is about a message. No matter what I sing, my goal is always to promote positivity and encourage people.
Brown Sugar– You get in the studio and get the opportunity to scroll down Quincy Jones’ contact list. Who would you collab with on that list?
Rudy Currence-Definitely, the late GREAT Michael Jackson. RIP
Brown Sugar- You already have a pretty amazing musical career. Great collaborations and a Grammy win and an additional nomination. What else is on the horizon for you sir?
Rudy Currence-I plan to release a lot more music. I want to continue to write and produce for other artists. I would love to write and produce more for Commercials, TV and Film. I really hope to tour internationally soon and I’d love to get into acting as well. Basically, I wanna take over the world. lol Thank you for allowing me this platform!
Brown Sugar– No doubt, my pleasure.
Find Rudy here-
Links to Royal Blue:
Get “Royal Blue” on iTunes NOW!
Get “Royal Blue” on GooglePlay NOW!
Rudy Currence | “Royal Blue” Lyric Video
Ahmed & his experiment: An Odyssey into the Adolescent Brain
by Angie Cee
I rarely (read never) discuss the fact that I’m a teacher here on Brown Sugar. I don’t share funny stories about adventures in the classroom or any of that. Mostly because this is MY space to explore everything else and not talk about my job and or middle schoolers. BUT I read two articles that made me bend this unwritten rule. Disclaimer- Even I don’t think Ahmed thought he innocently built a clock that could not have been mistaken as anything else i STILL believe the handling of the situation by the school officials, the teacher, and the cops was COMPLETELY RIDICULOUS and caused by racism, islamophobia, and racist nationalism. And maybe just maybe that’s what Ahmed hoped would happen. Ok now let’s move on.
This story CLICK HERE has a link to another one that shows that Ahmed Mohamed most likely didn’t create a brand new invention but took apart an existing clock and repositioned the parts in a case that resembles a briefcase and called it an invention.
There are so many teacher words I could say about his generation and their disinterest in authentic creation and respecting intellectual property. Having taught Ahmed’s age group & having dealt with racist nationalist I have a good idea how this situation played out. And while it isn’t as clean/pretty as the basic “arrested for bringing a clock” it is rife with Islamophobia & Middle/High school arrogance(although the two aren’t equal) . What was most likely a prank( that I could NEVER pull off because allergic to Engineering & Tech lol) was blown out of proportion because of existing racial & cultural/religious bias. If another student pulled a similar prank (bringing in something harmless and making it appear suspicious) no one would have thought “oh my we have a Timothy MCVeigh copycat on our hands”. They would have laughed it off or praised him/her but def not have put the child in cuffs. End of story.
So there’s that. There’s also the fact that Ahmed’s dad is brilliant and has tons of business acumen. I don’t know much about his mom but I’ll assume she’s a smart cookie as well. Imagine the conversations on race, religion politics and business/innovation that might have taken place around Ahmed. What if a brilliant budding engineer pumped full of naturally occurring adolescent arrogance and narcissism thought hmmmmmm I’ll show them (classmates, teachers, the world muhahahahahaa) what I can do. I’ll play on their unjustified fears and “create” something and see how they react. What if he wanted a firestorm to point out the very real discrimination he faces as an intelligent black muslim boy? While a righteous undertaking it is extremely dangerous because of his brown skin and name. This could have ended tragically because Texas.
Then there’s issue of integrity. All the right wing needs is the hint of falsehood in his story (for example the fact that he didn’t create anything per se) to have the whole noble cause crumble. And what a shame that would be because as I’ve stated the dude is brilliant and could have built his own version of a clock but if he didn’t that just leaves the doors of “see we were right, those crafty muslims want to blow us up” WIDE OPEN. But now we’re here we have yet another moment to show that ,even though flawed, Ahmed shone a light on injustice and harassment that all things being equal minus race & religious affiliation this arrest would NOT have happened. So I’m banking on the bigger picture prevailing over the flawed technique that his middle school brain yielded.
Addendum – Teacher thoughts on plagiarism and lack of respect for intellectual property & the role they played here. After teaching middle schoolers and high schoolers for the bulk of my career (9 years) I realized a few heartbreaking things.
1- They really are THAT self absorbed. Seriously.
2- They rarely if ever BUY music yet their devices are FULL of music
3- They believe the act of copying and pasting info and placing it on a new page does in fact create something new. In their minds it isn’t stealing.
Put it all together and I assure bruh believes he made a clock but nah… Bless his heart though because the points that came from this are valid and must be uprooted.
Brown Sugar is written by Angie Cee- writer, theatre artist, and yes teacher for FRESH RADIO. itsfreshradio.com celebrating 5 years of being Fresh next month.
Email abitofbrownsugar@gmail for event coverage, story ideas, or interview requests. Follow on IF @abitofbrownsugar #brownsugar and #brownsugarapproved for music/tv/film, culture, travel, and food.