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Let’s first discuss what dancing is: Wikipedia says that dance is a performance art form consisting of purposefully selected sequences of human movement. This movement has aesthetic and symbolic value, and is acknowledged as dance by performers and observers within a particular culture. Seems simple enough, dancing is expression using the human body, often times reflective of a particular culture. It’s a very simple point that simply needs to be brought up anytime the western world has a heart attack over black people dancing suggestively.

This week Rihanna did a thing, which usually means that the internet is full of loud, unasked for opinions. This particular thing was the release of two separate music videos for her single “Work” featuring Drake: music videos that featured Rihanna destroying the boundaries of time and space by being too fine to make logical sense –or as many others have put it–affirming the restrictive shackles of patriarchy and The Male Gaze™ by parading herself as a sexual object and “grinding” on Drake or something.

If this sounds stupid, that’s only because it is. If there’s something the internet loves as much as slander, it’s probably falling all over themselves to use big, scholarly tumblr words and concern-troll the state of women or people of color in any given moment. I’m not going to make the case that shouldn’t have to be made that Rihanna is her own woman with control over her image who cannot objectify herself or point out that if there’s one object in these videos it’s actually Drake or hell, even make the case that using Rihanna’s past relationship with Chris Brown to shame her for being openly sexual is beyond gross and the most perfect example of people using faux-concern to push their own flimsy, bullshit agendas onto other people or celebrities that feel that they are entitled to (but seriously this the fucking worst thing of all). Instead, I’m going to use this time to explain what dancing is.

First off, I understand that we live in America: a place where the idea of outlawing dancing isn’t just a terrible idea for a movie but also a terrible idea for an actual law in places. Obviously, this isn’t the only country that does it but as a self-professed “christian nation”, it always seems to come back to the idea of dance as a satanic ritual whenever cases like these are found. This may shed a strong light on why so many people turn into your middle school teacher running around the gymnasium with their separation ruler at the thought of even the most suggestive bit of dancing. Naturally, these same people watch just a modicum of Caribbean dancehall/dutty wine and turn into the dowager countess from Downton Abbey. I know you’re scared and confused and feel like children will be corrupted or the male gaze has something something something, but I promise it’s ok.

Both dancehall and wine are dances that are well-known in caribbean culture as energetic expressions against vivacious island music. Despite how sexual you might paint it in your head because of your own repressed sexual desires that you can’t keep a lid on, it is not inherently sexual. It’s dancing and regardless of whether someone brings a ladder to the dancefloor, climbs it and then jumps off into another woman’s crotch (which I’m sure has happened), it does not become sex until it is actually sex and your personal fixation or objectification of this type of dance has everything to do with you and not the actual dancers.

Is there a sexual-ness being expressed in these dances? of course, but there is a big difference between someone putting out their own sexual energy and you deciding what kind of sexual deviancy is on display. In simpler terms, objectification is less to do with the subject than it is with the people watching.

So maybe keep the hashtag thoughts you have about Rihanna or any woman (and they’re always women) dancing how she chooses to dance to yourself. You’re not deep, nobody believes your concerned and you’re not an ally. All you’re really doing is telling on yourself and exposing the fact that you can’t keep your shit together when a woman does a physical activity. And hey man, I get it; I lose my shit when Rihanna dances too but maybe you should just let the moment wash over you like the baptism it is than running to the internet being irate because “such dancing is unbecoming in our society, my stars”. Stop thinkpiecing and fucking go outside, or go learn how to dance yung footloose.

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There are people who celebrate Christmas in order to remember the love, mercy and sacrifice bestowed by the Lord Jesus Christ. For me, my Christmas is the day new pictures of Rihanna at a Carnival emerge. I sit by the lights of my macbook with gleeful anticipation for said pictures because unlike actual Christmas, Rihanna will never let me down and will always give me more than I deserve.

Fun fact: those “I met God, she’s black” shirts were created after the designer saw a picture of Rihanna in a Carnival outfit. It’s true. You just read it on the internet.

I like to imagine Carnival Rihanna as a specialty version of regular Rihanna: like when characters in Dragon Ball Z do the fusion dance to combine into one character, or like Mecha-Godzilla or Jem. If Rihanna had happy meal toys, Carnival Rihanna would be one of the toys and it would be the one that everyone had to keep eating over and over to get.

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What is it like to be in Rihanna’s presence during Carnival? You’re breathing her air and seeing a woman does is giving me heart palpitations through a computer screen in real life. What do you do? Would you panic? I’m pretty sure I would panic. What do you do when she starts whining? Do you call yourself an ambulance? I would literally have to walk around with an IV in my arm the whole time. What if she decided to whine on you? I’m pretty sure you would combust into pieces like Malfunctioning Eddie from Futurama. I saw a photo where Rihanna whined on a gentleman and it looked like HE WAS ON HIS PHONE. THAT IS THE MOST BLATANTLY DISRESPECTFUL THING I’VE EVER HEARD OF. DO YOU KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING TO YOU RIGHT NOW. ENJOY IT. PUT THE PHONE DOWN AND EXPERIENCE A THING THAT’S HAPPENING TO YOUR LIFE RIGHT NOW.

What happens to a penis that’s been twerked on by Rihanna? Does it grow like the seeds buried in the ground? Is it like the sunrise or the brightest glow from the moon but in your penis? Is it more powerful than it’s ever been? Is it like a baptism but for a penis? Would your penis be eligible for submission to the Smithsonian? Do you think people can sense that something has changed about you post-twerk? For example, let’s say Rihanna twerked on me and I went to a bar the next day: would I become a magnet now? Would I just be the center of attention for some unexplainable reason anytime I enter the room? If Rihanna twerks on you (man or woman), I’m pretty sure you could just use that line to hit on anyone. I mean really think to yourself and question whether you would turn down someone who was good enough for Rihanna to whine up against. Don’t deny yourself that adjacent glow, treat yourself.

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The possibilities are endless with Carnival Rihanna and for that she is due all praise.

It’s been raining all weekend. Which means, I’ve been listening to R&B all weekend. From the old to the new, I’ve been blasting the best harmonies, rhythms and just feel-good vibes into my ears through this dreary chill-fest happening everyday for the past 3 days. For the sake of this excerpt, I’ll stick to just talking about the new music:

Solange “Losing You” 

Everyone told me this was good, so naturally I went in highly skeptical—arms crossed and all. I’m currently on my 15th listen (seriously, this song is so good). I’ve always liked Solange for the simple fact that she never tried to be her sister; she’s always tried to have her own style. Well damn it if her style isn’t mine as well, the song is just fun, infectious and makes you want to dance around while the video, despite treading the boundaries of some manic pixie dream girl-level quirk, is just so addictive to watch over and over again. This is easily my song of the moment.

Rihanna & Beyonce

I think I gained a whole new appreciation for these two over the weekend; they’ve easily made some of the best music over the years that they’ve been on top. Rihanna making the marriage between electronic/dance music and pop look better than anyone else has been able to and Queen B does what she does best: make music that lasts lifetimes—I mean between songs like “countdown”, “dance for you”, “naughty girl”, “single ladies” and “irreplaceable”, she can go from singlehandedly saving your relationship to ending it in seconds. (That’s a skill.)

Miguel “Kaleidoscope Dream”

Miguel’s sophomore album, Kaleidoscope Dream, debuted this past week and—as a fan of true R&B music—I have to hand it to the guy, he made a great record. It’s definitely one that will be in rotation for a while with me. While I found his first release to be decent, I only enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure sense. I’m happy to say that this time around I can admit to liking the album with no shame, it’s that enjoyable.

Wiz Khalifa ft. The Weeknd “Remember You”

Ok technically, this is Wiz’s song but we all know who the star was in this case. R&B crooner/drug enthusiast Abel Tesfaye—better known as the Weeknd—makes this song as infectious as it is and reminds us just how good he can be. We haven’t heard to much from the young artist since he wrapped up the trilogy earlier this year so this was a nice little present for the fans. Not to say Wiz doesn’t do his part to help the song (he does), but I mean come on man, the Weeknd steals this one.

So for about a week or so there’s been a new Rihanna track circling the wagon that everyone seems to be sitting on. Now I’ll be frank (no ocean), I don’t dislike Rihanna (shifty eyes)…Okay, I do, but for reasons I don’t have the time to delve into. But unlike my “RiRi-Hater” cohorts who see no good in the self proclaimed Good Girl Gone Bad, the majority of my reasons are comprised of musical quality, or lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, RiRi has lots of talent, otherwise she wouldn’t be where she is, and so highly celebrated. And while this is Hollywood, where the “real” is harder to find than a g-string on a fat man in a two-door coupe, they don’t tend to hang around fakes too long either (see Milli Vanilli).

For me, it is her talents, at least one in particular, that annoys me. Like the majority of her hits, RiRi seems to have the “catchy track” jones. Whether it was Pon de Replay (when we mixed her up with M.I.A in 05’), S.O.S, Umbrella ella ella (ey ey ey), Don’t Stop The Music…Music, Hard ey ey ey so hard (sorry Jizzle), Rude Boy Boy, S&M, Birthday Cake cake cake cake cake cake cake (not to be confused with 2Chainz’ Bday special) or Diamonds, Rihanna will work the hell out of a catchy tune. This is to be commended because of course you need to move units. Unfortunately for her she’s become so good at it that she’s a Mega star because of it. People overseas and in the states flock to her shows and will beat you down for anything ill thrown her way (Don’t be standing outside my window damnit).

Now maybe I’m the only one that believes this, but once you become a mega-star the pressure should continue to build along with your skills and success. But, I honestly think we get so caught up just jamming along to an otherwise catchy song that we skip over a lot of bad vocals, stale verses, terrible live performances, or we (not so much I, hence the blog) simply don’t care. So then where’s the appreciation for the art? Why do people rip Beyonce (the Queen of the hive) when her performance is slightly less than goddess-like? Why not say Soulja Boy (king of catchy dance tunes) is the best rapper alive? Why didn’t they make Soul Plane 2? Why was D.L Hughley and Cedric on the Original Kings of Comedy and not Martin?? (Yeah I went there #Runteldat)

With this Diamonds track, you know, the one that had to be written after a long and trippy night at K.O.D, hence saying DIAMONDS 39 Times!! (Insert Chief Keef ANY phrase here) It was simply the same formula, same result. It says truly nothing. Or, at least nothing you can’t text. I can just imagine how this went down in the studio… RiRi: Yo…fool I got this hard ass track tho! (thug life) Crew: str8 str8 RiRi: Check it…We shine bright….(laughs and hits the molly) We shine bright like…like..like a diamond ohhhhh shit…Crew: ……str8 str8.

As I looked for a deeper explanation on rapgenius,com I noticed that RiRi has gotten so advanced on the catchy song flow that this track had a PRE Hook, Hook, and Post Hook, which had to take up ¾ of the entire song…where’s the verse space!? #wddda #barbados. You don’t have to try to talk about Slavery, Somalia, Women’s Rights, Education, or the Economy (see what I did there) but if you make a love song, go all the way in. Remember RiRi you’re a mega-star. If we label people mega-stars shouldn’t we get our moneys worth? When Jay-Z or Ye drop an album in comparison with say Young Dro (Best Thang Smokin’ was fie back in 06’), there is a huge difference. The pressure, criticism, detail, skill, everything is heightened due to an appreciation and respect of the artist and music. When RiRi drops an album (she’s done so every year 2005-2012, except 2008’) its like lets hit the club and get ready for a continuation of this album next year, just like last year. Just one huge compilation. Which is fine if you’re trying to make your cash and dash! Just not so much for a mega-star who millions idolize.

And I’m speaking on the masses that hear your singles on the radio. In today’s day and age, you buy an album at your own risk. So if the album is trash, use iTunes album preview. But, for those who for whatever reason can’t and only see you on TV or listen to radio, you have to do better. The game calls for it. RiRi is much better than the Diamonds track, or is she? Cause at the end of the day I’ll probably have all 39 diamonds stuck in my head. Or cubic zirconia, I’m on a budget; either way we’re screwed til’ the next fish line is cast out.

Torch Eberhart is an inspired and highly motivated filmmaker eager to create reflective films that impose a sense of urban culture. The themes of separation and loss are prevalent in his stories due to his inspirations in Japanese Manga and Anime. But his films are not absent from the surreal and imaginary, as Torch believes the ultimate goal of a movie viewer is to escape the threshold of their everyday lives; to venture out and enjoy the real and unreal stories of others. You can check out his site here and you can follow him on twitter here.

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