/ 5 December 2016

#CulturePop: It’s Dezemba – but keep the fun safe


It’s the first week of the last month of the year and a roundup of what happened in the past seven days is a taste of what to expect the for the rest of  #KeDezembaBoss.

The world must be phasing itself out when fashion designer Tom Ford can decline an invitation to dress the first-lady-to-be of the United States. Ford’s been telling people that former model Melania Trump does not necessarily align with his image and that he doesn’t dress first ladies because his clothes are too expensive for women who want to relate to the people. But my favourite part of this story is he refuses to put a Trump or even Hilary Clinton in his clothing but designed a frock especially for Michelle Obama at a snazzy event at the Buckingham Palace in 2011. Who knew that the rich and famous looked down on one another?

December is here like the reckless cousin who drops by bearing a drinking tab that he ran under your name. The time has come for the year-end work function that has every potential of being awkward but serves as a much-needed breather. The time for glorious picnics and the admin that comes with that before your leave finally shows up with endless prospects to misbehave. On the flip side, this is the worst time to be broke. With last week’s hashtag #HowToSurviveDecemberBroke Twitter unanimously agrees that the middle-class antidote to pennilessness is simple: live within your means and desist from being a liker of things. A condition that afflicts us all a hundred times more in December.

On the face of it lies the hype that bad stuff will stop happening. That as soon as we turn the corner of December, people ought to know the difference between right and wrong. We prefer to keep it carefree and pretend we’re not being reckless, or, in most cases, condoning the worst kind of behaviour. Drake be damned. But 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children comes around at the end of each year to hold a mirror up to our deeply problematic society. The reflection is always gruesome as survivors recount their stories and experiences of sexual violence. And still, it’s never enough.

On another earnest note, Kanye West’s current spiral has gone from irksome to concerning to troubling. Watching a Youtube clip from his first performance of Self-Conscious live on the Def Poetry Jam stage is ominous in its irony. Self-Conscious became one the first songs that etched West in our imaginations as a socially conscious rapper and one of hip hop’s leading minds. But then Hollywood happened to him and the Kardashians soon afterwards. I’m also reminded of comedian Dave Chapelle’s constant warnings about the perils of Hollywood and how many a great artist has lost touch and lost their sanity over there. The danger being fame. It’s almost impossible for fame not to alter one’s worldview. Let us learn from West how not to be famous. How to avoid fame altogether this December if we hope to return in one piece next month.

Or, like J Cole, you can kill your idol if your idol is West. The younger rapper released False Prophets as a single ahead of his new studio album to come out on December 9. The song seems to be a scathing critique of West whom he now considers a “graceless hero” enslaved by a disproportionate ego.

The Soul Train Music Awards took us back to the glorious 1990s when they pulled Dru Hill out of the party pack. The boy band of yesteryear launched on to the BET stage with the very pelvic-thrusting moves, which were the reason our mothers forbade us watching music videos. They ripped the stage to shreds with the infamous Sleeping in my Bed and Sisqo’s Thong Song. Remember that? The Nineties should’ve been called the Naughties.

My favourites are always the hip-hop cyphers but the Soul Trains added a whole bunch of sass and singing with a #SoulCypher featuring Gladys Knight, Angie Stone, Tyrese and Ne-Yo. They came correct. Bobby Brown, however, stole the moment when he performed legendary producer Teddy Riley’s My Prerogative.

It also appears to be the season of throwbacks on Netflix with the reunion of Gilmore Girls. Season seven left me feeling tricked all those years ago. I hope they aren’t flogging a dead horse with the reunion because this is a Christmas special I’m shamelessly looking forward to.