Tag Archives: love

My Layered Love for Kanye the Artist

Post written: January 5th, 12am.

Sooooo I was supposed to be editing my essay right now but instead i am following Kanye’s epic rant currently occurring on Twitter.  Why is this more important than editing an essay on the community organizing of African Diasporic women in Toronto as part of my application to Graduate School (deadline in two days)?  It’s not.  But I’m caught up.  And Kanye has inspired all of this creative energy that academia cannot currently satisfy.

The magic and twisted sickness of social media that allows you to feel connected to someone you have never ever met and probably never will…is scary…yet…boundary breaking.

It is so crazy that Kanye is ranting like this hours after I started and then deleted a post I was preparing to write about my love for him (instigated by my avid fascination with his VOYR video diaries – a behind-the-scenes look at the Watch the Throne tour).  This is a love for Kanye the Artist, not Kanye the Man.  I cannot speak on Kanye the man, because I have never met him and  maybe never will, which is totally ok. I am not particularly interested in speculating on who he sleeps with, how he feels or why he does what he does, in a gossip-column/reality-tv style which although sometimes entertaining (I am definitely guilty of watching more than a few segments of Wendy Williams’ Hot Topics) often leaves me feeling as though I lost brain cells between the time I started and the time it ended.

But I do retain the rights to my initial intention for posting.  I love Kanye.

I think it is a generally agreed upon fact that he’s a love him/hate him kind of figure in pop culture.  But I know that a lot of people – especially people who try to create simplistic categorization in Hip Hop like “conscious vs. mainstream rap” (which I hate – maybe that’s a rant for another post) – generally assume I would be on the hate him bandwagon due to my affinity/identification with Black feminism, community activism, alternative education, critical analysis, etc.

Nope. Wrong Assumption.  I love him.

The adrenaline is running…I don’t know if I can even get to sleep now…from Wall St. to the London riots to Chicago murders…I sit everyday and ask what can I do to make a difference…” – Kanye

Now don’t get me wrong.  It is a critical love.  It is a turbulent love.  It is a love that comes with pain and sometimes…a little embarrassment.  But it is also an inspiring love.  A love that can sometimes provide me with motivation.

And that to me is what makes Kanye so special.  He invokes sooo many feelings inside of me because he brings such a layered, nuanced, complex and raw way of being that I cannot compare to anyone else in current Hip Hop/popular culture. 

I mourn the departure of College Dropout Kanye and recognize with sadness that he will never and can never return to that person again.  I also screamed and rhymed along with every song until my voice was hoarse for Watch the Throne Kanye two months ago at the Air Canada Centre.

His video for Monster made me cringe and hurt inside, wondering why he would conceptualize female bodies as lifeless props and reflecting on where all of this twisted misogynistic hatred for women inside of him derives from.  However his performance of Power on Saturday Night Live left me speechless; captivated by the beauty, brilliance, passion and simplicity that he created utilizing the female form through ballet.

His infamous interruption of Taylor Swift made me embrrassed inside for him as I saw him stumble and stutter.  His interruption of Mike Myers during Hurricane Katrina made me raise a fist in the air nodding encouragement through his stumbling and stuttering and whispering affirmations of “Yes Kanye…tell them!” at my TV screen.

Kanye’s 2009 short film made with director Spike Jonze “We Were Once a Fairytale” left me feeling so sad and disturbed me for days wondering about his mental health and the risks of creating on the edge as an artist.   His 2011/2012 VOYR video diaries leave me with energy and inspiration that make me forget small things like my need for sleep as I become more comfortable answering my desire to create, create and create…

I’m on a pursuit of awesomeness.  Excellence is the bare minimum.” – Kanye

What is the purpose of an artist if not to invoke feeling? To challenge? To push? To go to the uncomfortable places and expose the beauty and the ugliness and everything in between? So much of Hip Hop and mainstream media in general is boring because it is about superficial commercial nothingness – it sold out to the institutions that continue to demand the dehumanization of the population in order to maintain our acquiescence to the status quo.  As a result FEELINGS – real feelings, real expression of the layered and raw feelings we all have all the time, feelings that push us into action and movement – they are not given space to breathe…they are dismissed as crazy…maybe it is crazy to want to feel in this world.

It’s crazy and its delusional before it comes to fruition. You always gotta see the end goal. Everything else, just fill in the blanks.” – Kanye

So yes.  I love Kanye.  It was at the Watch the Throne concert in November as I watched him run from one end of the stage to another in a black leather kilt that I realized I could no longer deny our love (yes I said our love not because I’m crazy but because I believe he has put love out and I am returning it into universal energy…and maybe because I am crazy).  Jay-Z is  a legend.  His following is cult-like and his swag is out-of-this-world-undeniable as only someone with his story can own and wear.  But Kanye…he just had me going WITH HIM.  He invites everyone to come with him on the epic emotional rollercoaster of raw creativity that is his artistry – for better or for worse.  As Shad K said on Kanye in a recent Watch the Throne Concert review: “He just cares more.”  ❤

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Sample of Scribbles from 2011: The Year of FULL

Untitled #1

So hard to keep a consistent thought in a mind buzzing with numerous triggers, disruptions, ideas, pains,
all floating.
A laugh rubbing elbows with a sob…
everything feels too close in proximity…
can barely fit a breath in between.  
So I swallow and stuff it all down, down, down to…where?
Simultaneously exposed and bare
but also closed in tight…
How do i co-exist within these two realities?
It is an act of survival because
I have apparently long passed the expiry date for mourning over a pain that happened two years ago, six years ago, in high school, before birth…before this lifetime.  
Perhaps my spirit is existing right now in some other being and is bringing that emotional residue here
to further fog up 
my already clouded window pane.
 
 

A Place of Rage

Angry.

I am angry that I am forced to walk within the confines of fear.

Angry that I have been taught to hold anxiety close.

Angry that the onus is on  me – my responsibility to stop you from staring, prevent you from approaching, stepping forward across boundaries invading my protective sphere of personal space.

My responsibility to not attract attention.  My responsibility to avoid eye contact.  My responsibility to take note of street lights and traffic and how many people I share the sidewalk with and check who those people are…do they look trustworthy?  What does that even mean? Now it is my responsibility to create markers and signifiers and PROFILES of who may be trustworthy.  My responsibility to not assume.  My responsibility to be cautious.  My responsibility to not be naive.

I am weighed down with responsibility .  Walking with careful steps riddled with anxiety, leading to a prison of confinement,

convincing myself that the risk is too great — I didn’t want to go out anyway…I didn’t really want to wear that skirt…it is kind of chilly tonight, maybe I’ll save that walk for the daytime when the stars I wanted to see are hidden but there sure is daylight.

What the fuck is your responsibility when I am left contorted and heavy  in my prison of consideration? Heavy because you never took up your fucking responsibility of choosing not to assault me.

How about you make the choice to not harass me tonight?

***Thoughts after a Friday night assault  by 5 white men on Ossington Street****

 
 

Sister-Mother-Friend

Black women.

Layered.  Contradictory.  Relationships. We reflect each other’s silent pain a little too clearly, exposing the wounds we have painstackingly dressed in flesh-coloured bandages – hidden from the casual glance but evident to the more perceptive, the more invested, the more practiced eye.  You are a reflection of my hurt, my strength, my beauty, my pride and my love.

We have travelled across waters, endured separations, survived bodily invasions…and so it is a must, a need, to hold each other up.

Please hold me up.

Untitled #2
 
Pressure.  Consistent pressure.
To be on
To be articulate
To be present
To be presentable
To be beautiful
To be available
To be enticing
To be inviting
To be open 
To be aware
To care
To love
To lie
To listen
To provide answers
To build
To nurture
To create
To cake
To call
To come
To
be
the
one
 
 

A Rock and a Hard Place (aka The Game aka The Makings of a Really Bad R&B Song)

Call me please.   I’d like to talk.
Don’t call me please.  I can’t handle talking to you.
 
Call me please.  I yearn to hear your voice.
Don’t call me please.  I can’t handle what your voice does to me.
 
Call me please so we can talk for hours and hours again.
Don’t call me please.  I can’t talk to you for hours and hours again.
 
Call me please so I can feel my heart pick up speed and pound like only you can make it.
Don’t call me please.  I can’t handle the dramatics of a pounding heart, sweaty palms and inevitable dreams of an impossible tomorrow that will follow.
 
Call me.  So I can tell you not to call me.  And you can convince me otherwise.
Don’t call me.  So I won’t have to tell you not to call me.  And you won’t have to agree and say goodbye.
 

Untitled #3

I want to stretch and stretch and stretch and wear lipstick and scream as loud as possible and paint abstract colourful creations and sew remixes onto articles of clothing and cook food that smells good and write and write and write and not feel tired all the time and have time for driving lessons and act in incredible plays and buy beautiful bedsheets and re-design my room and write and write and write and not speak to people for a while and learn new hairstyles and watch lots of good and bad movies and dance with my mummy and write letters to my homeboy and read and read and read and paint my toenails and draw storyboards for future films and stretch and stretch and stretch…

 
 
 
 

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“I Never Knew There Was A Love Like This Before”: The Politics of Imagining Love

The other night I was speaking to one of my best friends about the politics of how we understand and see what love and loving can look like when it comes to romantic relationships.

I began reflecting on how challenging it is for me to consider the diverse ways that love can look because I feel consistently bombarded with 1 or 2 “ideals” and subconsciously get stuck in these boxes.  My love of R&B as a pre-teen left me bombarded with memorized lyrics that told me with unwavering repetition what love definitely looked like:

“I’m saving all my love for you-it was love at first sight-you’re my wifey-you’re all the man i need-There’s no air, no air-I can’t live without you-Ain’t too proud to beg-I have nothing, nothing, NOTHING, if I don’t have you-I’ll never tell a lie-I’m down on bended knees-I’m all cried out-to the end of the road…etc., etc.”

Added to the R&B indoctrination was the same story being told by Hollywood, Bollywood AND Nollywood…and corporate advertisements and magazines and family members; the expectation that everyone desires a particular kind of relationship.  This relationship more often than not happened only between young people, (if you were older than 40 you were definitely already married – “old” people don’t date!) was rooted in monogamy, eventually would lead to a bended knee proposal, which would result in an over the top wedding, and some kids (maybe a dog) and lasted (fingers crossed) “until death do you part.”

There is nothing intrinsically wrong with this concept of love.  There can be so much beauty found within elements of what I described above and the truth is, I do desire and imagine many of them (in my own version) for myself.

However the thing that troubles me is the assumption that this “formula” is what everyone “should” want.  And worse, is the bombardment that compels so many to believe that this is the ONLY form that love can exist within – thereby limiting our capacity to imagine all the many ways that love can look and blinding us from potential opportunities of love.

I wanted to share some of my recent inspirations of love and processes of loving that generally don’t get described in R&B songs or included in the advice columns of Cosmopolitan:

Example #1: Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

“I did not know it then, but Frida had already become the most important fact in my life. And would continue to be, up to the moment she died, 27 years later.” – Diego Rivera

I am fascinated by the legendary love between Mexican visual artists Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo.  Tumultuous? Definitely.  Passionate? Beyond. They were married, divorced and re-married.  They possessed a powerful and passionate love for each other but also inflicted a lot of hurt on each other.  Challenged with the concept of monogamy as a pre-requisite of marriage, Diego and Frida both had affairs throughout their relationship; Frida had affairs with men and women that include artists such as Josephine Baker and political activists such as Leon Trotsky.  Diego had affairs with numerous women, including Frida’s younger sister (hence the divorce). They also supported each other in their artistic growth and nurtured a strength that both recognized was a result of their love. They lived in a home divided into two buildings (one for each of them) that was connected by a bridge; recognizing early on the space that each individual needed (see image below).

Love as passion. Love as intensity.

“I cannot speak of Diego as my husband because that term, when applied to him, is an absurdity. He never has been, nor will he ever be, anybody’s husband.” – Frida Kahlo

Example #2: Kahlil Gibran and Mary Haskell

“With you Mary,” he said today “I want to be just like a blade of grass, that moves as the air moves it – to talk just according to the impulse of the moment.  And I do.” – Khalil Gibran from Mary Haskell’s Journal, January 10th, 1914

I am reading Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet like it is a reference manual for life right now…and my curious mind took me on a journey to investigate what brought him to these reasonings and revelations.  It was through this investigation that I learned of Mary Haskell.

Kahlil Gibran.  The internationally renowned philosopher and artist. Mary Haskell.  The lesser known headmistress and lover of art.  Two individuals who  never publicly expressed or defined a love that lasted a lifetime. For over 20 years they wrote intimate letters to each other documenting a relationship that was rooted in artistic and intellectual support and growth.  He made her the inspiration and muse to many of his written and visual works and she invested money, ideas and editing skills to support his artistic development.  Later in life she chose to marry another individual, but the intimate letter-writing correspondence between she and Gibran ceased only upon his death.

Love as intimacy.  Love as inspiration.

“…if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure, Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.” – Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Example #3: Gail Marquis and Audrey Smaltz

“She said, ‘I have a marvelous new person!’ ” said Eddie Alfaro, Ms. Smaltz’s longtime hair colorist. “I said, ‘What’s his name?’ And she said, ‘It’s a her!’ I said, ‘Are you happy?’ She said, ‘I’ve never been happier!’ ” – from the article ‘Vows: Gail Marquis and Aurdrey Smaltz’

This third example is a lot more contemporary and a lot less famous.  I read an article about this couple in The New York Times and I simply loved it.  In my life, I am surrounded by single Black women or unhappily married Black women. Reflecting on this has led to recent repetitive ranting about how much I wish we lived in a society where love was not defined in a tiny box so that these women could open themselves up – even for a moment – to the possibility of exploring other potential forms and experiences of love.  Stories like this give me hope:

Two African-American women.  Both successes in their own right.  Both over 6 feet tall. One is 57 years old and the other is 74 years old.  One identified as straight and one identified as queer.  They met with little expectation.  They connected with open energy.  They fell in love…and went with it.  Beautiful.

Love as faith in the unexpected. Love as “never too late.”

“She’s my life partner, my lover, my Sweetheart Gentle Giant,” – Audrey Smaltz

Please share your examples (if any) of love that challenges the “formula” 🙂

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Filed under Politics