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The EssenceFest Recap Part I

This morning, I was slammed with ideas and revelations from this weekend at EssenceFest that I knew I wanted to write about in today’s blog.

First things first, I had a great time. Beyoncé was Beyoncé. I mean she put on a master class on how to perform. There’s a reason why she’s adored. The woman can put on a show. She attacks the performance. She is like an athlete at the Olympics. It’s serious business. You can tell a lot is put into every single detail. Every light, every stitch of clothing. I salute her. She’s a beast. When she said that she was inspired when she saw Michael Jackson live as a child, you can tell that’s her goal. That level is what she’s gunning for. She’s already legendary and she earned it. When you see her perform, you can tell she loves it and you can tell she works HARD. Whether you are a die-hard Bey fan or not, you have to respect her work ethic. Period.

Ok, now to the nitty-gritty.

Wow, not sure where to start.

The performances.

Maxwell left me feeling some kind of way. He closed out Friday night’s show, but I think Jill Scott should have. She KILLED IT. Only Jill Scott can seriously wear fronts on her bottom teeth (fake gold/silver teeth), sing amazingly and people totally ignore that, be in awe of her and STILL say she has the best smile on the planet. With fronts in her teeth. Like Trinidad James… ONLY JILL. That’s real talent folks that’s insane energy. NO ONE ELSE. I love Jill.

Other notable performances over at the Super Lounges. Emile Sande. She’s already massive and huge in the UK and she’s grinding to really make her name known in the U.S. She was absolute perfection. I was so happy that I was already on to her and like her album anyway. It was a treat to see her live and she’s going to be huge here in the states too.

I only got to hear the last two songs in Faith’s set because it was impossible to get in. We had to spend a little time in Bilal’s set, which wasn’t a problem for me because I’m a huge fan of his. My homegirl… well she said he scared her. I bought her a drink for being a good sport.

Faith looked gorgeous and sounded great. She even let her fans get on stage at the end and dance with her and sing along. Faith looked like she was having a ball, but honestly, she was mainstage material. Faith has been in the game forever, she’s got steam from the R&B divas show and she has enough hits to have the mainstage audience sing along with her. So I’m still a little mad off of that.

One of my favorites of the weekend was my girl Tamia. Tamia is stunning in person and her voice was flawless. FLAWLESS. She even shouted out her hubby basketball player Grant Hill and told the crowd they’ve been married for 15 years. GOTTA LOVE THAT! Tamia has hits yall, and no one sings a power ballad with such ease and the crazy high notes like her. People were singing her songs word for word. She was on point. Folks were going nuts off of her classic “Stranger in My house.”

The one group that made me lose my ever-loving mind was New Edition. Keep in mind, by the time they hit the stage I was on my seventh drink, but I lost my voice. I was so happy to see Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny and that they were still dancing and singing so well, I just lost it. It was a moment of nostalgia and if you were a young black girl growing up in the 80s and early 90s, this reunion was a BFD (Big Fucking Deal).

I was really looking forward to my girl Janelle Monae, who said she was under the weather, but still rocked out anyway with a funky orchestra. She’s beautiful and she’s an awesome choice for a Cover Girl spokesperson. She exudes individuality and confidence. She sang two Prince covers, which makes sense since they’ve been working together and he’s given her his very rare seal of approval. I was disappointed she didn’t perform QUEEN, the new jam she has out with Erykah Badu. I feel like even if she didn’t have Erykah, she should have done it anyway. They killed it at the BET awards, and it would have been a song that most people would have been familiar with.

I was growing increasingly annoyed with people around us and on the bathroom line saying that they didn’t like Janelle, and that she was weird and confused them. I quipped back that Janelle had a full orchestra, was fully clothed, danced like no one’s business and never cussed or sang about sex. Meanwhile, if Gucci mane got on the Essence stage and called us bitches, people would keep on dancing… Rant over. There were moments where Janelle went a little bit to the left, but with artists like her, that’s to be expected. That’s one of the many moments I complained about narrow thinking in the black community, ignorance and all out foolery. And I complained a lot. I even tweeted that I was tired of black people by Sunday. And I was. I really was.  To quote from Spike Lee’s brilliant movie, Bamboozled, “I don’t want anything to do with anything black for at least a week.” The classic was ahead of it’s time and basically discusses the decline of black folk and stereotypes in the media and how we are in fact going backwards. The movie came out in 2000, but you would swear it was something that happened right now. Sometimes Spike can be a genius. I own this movie and I actually love discussing it with my friends.

Trey Songz gets the pleasant surprise award. Trey was suffering from a twisted ankle, but you’d never know it. He came out in a suit looking dapper, and finally by his last song, he was shirtless. He made us wait for it though. Sitting through his set, I realized Trey’s had a lot of hits too. The only thing I didn’t dig was him making us sit through the trailer of the new movie he’s in Baggage Claim. Like, I want to see the movie, but really, sir?

Other than that, he held the crowd, he was charming and he has a really great voice. I was impressed by him.

Since she preformed first on Friday, it kind of went to the back of my mind. BRANDY was fantastic. She looked great, she sounded great, she was sexy. She did a really fantastic job. She blended old and new songs very well and she was great.

I thought Keyshia Cole was fantastic, but her one costume change cost her a song,  so she didn’t get a chance to sing, “I remember.” But she had a very strong set, she looked beautiful and she also put effort into having a strong performance with her dancers. Her realness coupled with her vulnerability just makes her so loveable. You want to sing her songs loud and long.

Now, I’ve decided that Beyoncé did her sister Solange a huge solid by probably including in her rider that her sister perform on the mainstage.

Keep in mind I dig Solange and I loved her last two albums. But her brand of music fell flat in such a big arena. I think she would have been better received in the super lounge. But I will give her credit. She stood tall, and she went for it. The only thing that bothered me was, “I decided” was one of her more known songs, but her band totally didn’t have it together for that groove. She mentioned in the beginning that it was their first time playing it, to which I said, there’s a reason why people rehearse. So, once she got to the bridge, where everything fell apart, me and my homie started to head toward the bathroom. She did a good job on T.O.N.Y, another song I adore.

As for old school pimp, players. LL Cool J. had that place on fire. His sex appeal crosses demographics, women younger than 30 and well over 50 were rump shaking and swooning.

Charlie Wilson. What can you say about the man? He had such a high-energy performance, filled with so much soul and passion with an amazing voice, I need Maxwell (who was channeling Marvin Gaye quite a bit) and Trey Songz to really use Uncle Charlie as a blue print to keeping folks grooving as an AARP member.

So there you have it folks. That’s my non-quick review of the shows I was able to take in at the EsssenceFest. I missed out on my girl Chrisette Michele and Mint Condition, but that tends to happen.

My travel companions said Avery Sunshine, Leela James and Blackstreet had very solid performances and were totally worth checking out.

You really can’t do it all.

Stay tuned for my recap on the convention center and the panels and the inspiring session with Iyanla Van Zant and we haven’t even gotten into me running into an old lover, making eye contact several times with actor Craig Robinson (Darryl from the Office; star of movie Peeples and This is the End, Hot Tub Time Machine) and not doing anything about it 😦 and almost literally bumping into actor Morris Chestnut and him ignoring me when I said, “Hi Morris.” We also need to talk about me not confirming or denying eating a lollipop made of weed, and a very telling tarot card reading, confirming a bunch of things about myself that I knew all along…

I may have to break this all up into three parts. This was already pretty long. Sorry folks!!!

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“Black Don’t Crack, But You Should Start Early, For Only $500…”

I knew I was in trouble when the siren call of the mall was completely drowning out that of the gym during the later hours of work yesterday.

So I listened. After all, the day after tomorrow, I will be in the fabulous city of New Orleans for the Essence Music Festival.

This will be the third time I’m going. I went for the first time in 2005, and then again in 2008.

Let me break this down for you. The Essence Music Festival is always held fourth of July weekend and draws hundreds of thousands of primarily black women from all over.

This straight up is black woman/girlfriends/exhale weekend. It’s a spring break for black chicks with wall-to-wall concerts with the most amazing R&B, neo-soul, jazz and gospel artists on the planet. Beyoncé is headlining. That alone is a reason to go, but I’m foaming at the mouth to see the following artists:

Friday, July 5: Maxwell, Jill Scott, LL Cool J and Brandy will take the mainstage. While Blackstreet, Anthony David, Les Nubians, Emeli Sande, Maya Azucena, Simphiwe Dana, Mali Music, Shamarr Allen and The Underdawgs will perform in the superlounges.

Saturday, July 6: New Edition, Charlie Wilson, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole and Solange will grace the mainstage. Faith Evans, Bridget Kelly, Big Daddy Kane, F. Stokes, PJ Morton, Jody Watley, Leela James and Avery*Sunshine will rock the superlounges.

Sunday, July 7: Beyoncé, Janelle Monáe and supergroup TGT (Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank) will storm the mainstage while Rachelle Ferrell, Mia Borders, Mint Condition, Luke James, Daley, Tamia, Kourtney Heart, Greta Prince and Alice Smith perform in the superlounges.

http://www.essence.com/2013/04/04/2013-essence-festival-night-night-concert-schedule-revealed/

Let’s also keep in mind that every year I’ve gone, I’ve gone with dear friends that I really love. We’ve enjoyed the amazing food that only New Orleans can offer (including Brothers chicken, the most amazing chicken you can buy in a convenience store 24 hours for like $3 for a three-piece), the drinks (I will have a hurricane or a hand grenade or both at nearly all times) and just the fun and revelry of being in such a sexy, awesome, historic city.

This year is the first year I won’t be with one of my most fabulous travel partners. I’m going to miss her. Instead, I’m accompanied by some EMF virgins- my college roommate, and two older cousins. These ladies are a lot of fun, so I’m sure they will bring an interesting vibe to all of the festivities.

This will also be the first year I actually spring for nicer seats at the concerts, so it’s going to be cool to enjoy that perk. I had loads of fun in the nosebleeds getting plastered and making friends with the bartender, but it’s nice to take it up a notch in that department.

Because there are droves and droves of women, men make it their business to come and take advantage of women loosening up because they are on vacation and in New Orleans, fueled by liquor and the atmosphere.

I won’t lie. I’ve packed short, shorts, revealing tops and a freakum dress or two. I’m ready to get loose. I’ve got cute flats, breezy summer dresses (truth be told I’ve been shopping for this trip since March.)

But the initial inspiration for today’s post comes from my visit to the mall. A sweet charismatic young lady got me to walk over to her kiosk for high-end, paraben free, mineral make up.

Her presentation was impressive. I did enjoy how the eyeshadow could transform to a lip gloss with just a little bit of water. I was most impressed with the foundation.

I won’t lie. I hate make up and I want things to be as simple as possible. If someone can help me find a foundation, that’s half the battle and that’s why I let her do her thing, and that’s why I forked over the ridiculous amount of money for it. It was light and it did make my skin look great and naturally glowy.

But what killed me was her partner who was giving me a facial with all of this stuff that’s supposed to tighten my face and fight aging. He went on and on about botox and how even at the tender age of 31, the key is to start with all these creams and gels.

“You look great, you look beautiful. But everyone thinks in 20s and 30s they don’t have to start with the creams. In 40s and 50s, you are already too late. You must start now. Black don’t crack right? But you should start early. For $500 I will give you…”

And he starts stacking boxes of so many products, I just couldn’t take it and I knew for damn sure I wasn’t going to spend $500 on any of that mess. I’d buy a new bag or some damn Jimmy Choos before I spend that on those kinds of products. Beauty products are not my drug of choice. They just aren’t.

The women in my family age beautifully. My late aunt was a faithful Oil of Olay user. So I’ma stick to that and my occasional bentonite clay mask.

He can go somewhere with all of that.

AINT NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT, SIR!

So I would like to share a few tips for the newbies.

You need flats. Or wedges you know you are comfy walking or standing in (standing particularly if you hang in the superlounges). Most people walk to the Superdome every night because the weather is awesome, the people watching is great and most people want to burn off the calories from all of the amazing food. Now for the more practical reason. Traffic near and around the Superdome is stupid. You’ll just be sitting in your cab. You’ll get there faster if you walk. If your hotel is in a mile radius, hoof it.

DRINK LOTS OF WATER. I know, you are going to be taking down those hurricanes and hand grenades, but seriously, get you some water, you are going to need it.

Sundresses are the way to go. It’s a music festival, they are cute and sexy and women of all sizes usually look pretty nice in them. You feel better when you catch a breeze. Trying to teeter around in heels or things that are too tight, you are going to end up looking silly as the night goes on, unless you have VIP tickets. Keep it simple.

Buddy system. Ladies, you are grown, but seriously stick with at least one other person in your party at all times. It’s easy to get lost. Put your section number in your phone and text it to yourself. One of my homies came up with the brilliant idea of texting the address and room number of our hotel to herself. I’d suggest that too. The street names can be hard to pronounce anyway and when you are stumbling in with the sun in the a.m. remembering your room number is harder than it looks.

Keep your cell phone charged. For some reason, I remember my service being spotty in the Superdome. But who needs a phone? It’s too loud to talk. Just use it for selfies and cute pics with the homies.

Safe sex. That’s a no-brainer. Let’s keep it real. People relax their standards during these kinds of trips. Wrap it up. No exceptions.

It’s always a good idea to have blotting papers and hand sanitizer. The heat and the nastiness of Burbon street will get all up on ya. It’s nice to be able to freshen up a little.

No large bags. You do not want to be fumbling with a huge handbag. Get yourself a cute, small cross body or a wristlet with just enough room your id, cash, cards, room key, phone, lip gloss and blotting papers and hand sanitizer.

Carry a little cash. The restaurants are packed. If you and your party pay in cash you can get the hell out a lot faster. Also if you pay in cash, you may be able to haggle with the fantastic street vendors for art and various things. Now, I’ve never managed to make it to the convention center, but this year, I plan to check out the day time events over there. It should be pretty cool. So I don’t have tips for that.

Oh yes! The superdome is freezing. A cute cardi is a must.

So if you’re going, have a fantastic and safe time! It’s going to be amazing!!!

xoxox

 

 

What Goes Down Better Back Come Up

I was in a dreadful funk, yesterday. I can admit that.

I let life and it’s challenges get me down.

I feel better today.

And I joined like two new meetups and I’m going to actually go and meet people.

I’ve gone to a number of events for one meet up group, ended up inviting someone and not really hanging out with the meetup group people.

But now that I’ve told the universe I’m tired of dating and particularly tired of online dating, I’ve got to meet my man the good old fashioned-not from behind a computer screen in the comfort of my own home kind of way.

I’m going without a net folks.

So for the month of March, I’ve already planned a few activities and I’m going to go. Boom. Period. I’m going to go.

I’m going to look nice, smile, be open and go.

I also took some control over my part of planning for a gals trip to Essencefest in New Orleans in July.

The room has been booked now, just got to get the plane tickets and the person in charge of getting our groups tickets has to get those tickets, and we are all set to go. Whooo hoo!

Sundresses, sandals, great music, hurricanes and hand grenades and benignets, it don’t get no better than that.

So now I have something to look forward to and something to work towards in terms of not looking crazy. My goal.

Lose 15 pounds by July for Essencefest.

That’s it. I will not get caught up in trying to lose 30 pounds. Just lose 15. Slowly but surely. Make good choices, keep it moving.

I may make a vision board of New Orleans and good fitness, eating and health to get me motivated.

Actually, I may do that tonight.

I tend to do things better when I make a plan, and map it out.

I’m excited now. Whoo hoo. I’ve got something to look forward to.

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