Tuesday, March 26, 2013

ASHANTl, Never Should Have and other guilty pleasures...

Don't judge me.  I have complex musical tastes and I despise being put into a box.  I try hard not to be  predictable or cliche, and there are certain secular recording artists that cause me to have a love hate relationship with music overall.  I avoided the Beyonce/Bow Down debate like the plague, I just didn't want to have the same conversation everyone was having in the world of musical analysis.   I tend to root for the underdog, the artist that I don't quite understand why she isn't on center stage, the one who sings the B side of the album (yep, that's my reference) cut that I love, although it was never designed to be the hit single.  Today, for some odd reason, I'm just feeling team Ashanti

I have been freed temporarily from my fear of stereotypes by remembering a friends facebook post about her love of gossip magazines when she travels.  I smiled at the remark, this independent, fierce professional had openly acknowledged the past time that made her travels manageable.  That simple post reminded me of why we should own what we like and what we enjoy.  Too many times I have opted for the research report, periodical or non-fiction selection on the plane, thinking in the back of my mind, this fits who I am and who I aspire to be.  Well truth be told, the woman I aspire to be wants to like what she likes, and frankly not care what any person thinks about those choices.

I can be judgemental about everything from reality television to parenting, but age has brought wisdom.  I don't share everything that comes to mind and I've become much more tolerant of choices that differ from my own.  My blog is a platform for reflection, and often times there is a voice that I haven't heard anywhere else.  I like being different.  Different doesn't always pay, however.  I think Ashanti is one of the artist that has had a bit of schizophrenia about brand and persona - from princess to vixen all in the same season.  For some reason, I just like Ashanti.  I think there's more than meets the eye and her newest "Never Should Have" has a married mother of 3 ready to download.  It is not where I am now, but I so understand where those lyrics come from.  And likely because of media, technology and way to much wondering about whether Nelly was ever "the one" - I'm cheering that she'll have a new season of more success than her heart can possibly hold.

The cover of her single can easily be a reminder of why I have a love hate relationship with the music industry.  Does she have to have a bra on the cover for someone to purchase it - no.  Does she look stunning, reflective, worth more than the reviews of her career, blessed with good genes and then some - I would say, yes.  I think she has always gotten the raw end of the deal from music sales, to attention - but I have fiercely disagreed with the marketing of this beauty as the princess of a thug label.  Her images have often been on my list of things I'm NOT downloading for my daughter when the images show anything but a woman in charge of her own destiny.  I want an artist to grow.  With that being said, I've played the latest song a few times and I think that pop, R & B, and music in general - should have space for reinvention.  I'd like to hear what this Brave Heart has in store.

When I think of Nicole Richie, I now think mom, jewelry designer, style of her own, a class act.  A few years ago I was fast forwarding past commercials of her tv show, ranting about tv being a waste of time focused on wasted talent.  I hope that Ashanti has the same experience.  I hope her association with Nelly, her previous label and her mis-steps in her career are replaced with her Army Wives casting, her new music and new single, and her timeless beauty.  I tend to think there's more there.  While she may be singing NEVER SHOULD HAVE, I am believing that it is likely good that she did.  She may be better, stronger and more resilient because of it - and maybe, just maybe, she'll be singing into the destiny that I believe is out there for her.

Michelle Williams, Elle Varner, Ashanti, Heather Headley, Goapele, India Arie, Me'Shell Ndegeocello, Amerie, Amel Larrieux.... my underrated ladies that make my day - a reminder that being different is not only okay, it has a beautiful sisterhood.

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