Ray J, the Falling Pop Stars and the Lunacy of Bad PR
Bases are loaded, and this week’s dumbest music headlines gives us an indication that we are living in the last days
Seemed like Monday was one hell of a day.
I wasn’t going to write about it. I told myself that earlier this week. Instead I was going to focus on the terrific and not-so-great album releases from April. But I’ve been sucked into the killer vortex of persuasion and am following that gut feeling deep down inside to write about hell’s fury on music.
Seems like somebody already beat me to the punch. Please send the next Pulitzer to Houston Press blogger Angelica Leicht for posting her intelligent rant on the All-Stars of music’s falling stars.
It’s full of laughter, even though there’s nothing funny about the subject matter. And I’m glad I was able to find some way to grab a laugh out of it, because I am particularly grieved over the nature of the business today.
It really seems like the Pop-Tart superstars of the day are walking on the edge of their own destruction. And these are not just blindfolded walks on the plank. These seem deliberate, forced, premeditated. And if things haven’t gone from bad to worse, the third week of April only tipped the scale. After with a crazy week already marred with marathon bomb blasts and poisonous White House love letters, the music community is trying its best to compete with the major news headlines.
During a Google+ listening party this week, Fantasia Barrino – besides being one hour and forty-five minutes late – scuffled over her qualms with today’s music industry and how there’s an apparent need to spark gossip just to fill a headline (catch it in its entirety). While comparing today’s standards with those of yesterday, she even pulled the Queen of Soul into the conversation by stating “I didn’t know how many children Aretha Franklin had. I didn’t know she had any kids.”
Her complaint seems legit, albeit twisted at its root. Even with the skeletons inside the diva’s closet, comparing Aretha to Fantasia’s windfall of terrible PR seems illogical. Without rehashing all of the reality-TV show dirt, suicidal attempts and the break-up-to-make-up- soap opera drama that’s invading her personal life, Fantasia is trying to preserve what little she has left from her picture-perfect reign during her Idol days.
But Fantasia’s been a good girl lately. She has to be. With a new album to drop on, the R&B singer is trying to travel the pathway towards balance. Unfortunately this cannot be said for some others, who are clearly doing all they can to give their PR folk a fatal aneurysm.
First up at the bat, there’s Rihanna. The “Umbrella” singer is taking a little time off from her “Diamonds” tour. Sadly that comes with the unfortunate announcement of cancelled tour dates. There’s no real confirmation on her illness, except that she was suffering with laryngitis. Still her Instagram account is still lit up like a Christmas tree (most recently posting a pic of the Boston bombing) and her troubled boyfriend Chris Brown shows no sign of worry. Having said that, cancelling big tour dates like Houston, Baltimore and Boston (who’s now grieving after the recent bombings that rocked the Boston Marathon) isn’t sitting easy with her devout fans. Questions are arising on just how “sick’ the singer is, but if Breezy isn’t alarmed, why should we?
Although her ball doesn’t fly deep into the center field, she manages to steal first base.
Next up is Tyrese Gibson. Oh Lord, what has he done to deserve a placement in this write-up? Well, it’s not like Tyrese is producing cutting edge R&B or whipping out a new album. And it’s probably those frustrations that led to his demon-possessed “Baby Boy” rant on fat people. In an interview with AllHipHop.com, Tyrese was asked to give some kind of inspiration to his fans when it comes to living a healthy, fit lifestyle. Instead of going into the Dr. Oz playbook, he put on his best impression of a high school bully. If you are fat and nasty and you don’t like the way you look, do something about it. It’s simple,” the singer/actor said. “When you take a shower and you put your fat, nasty body in the shower and by the time you get out, the mirrors are all steamed up so you don’t look at what you did to yourself. That may sound offensive or insensitive but ultimately, you are big as hell because you have earned that s–t. You worked your a– off to eat everything in sight to get big as hell.”
After being hit with an instant barrage of hate on Twitter, and quite possibly coming from the plumpy in his own fan base, Gibson decided to bite back some of his tongue. “I’m not apologizing for what I said I’m apologizing for the bad choice of wording and execution of my point around obesity,” he wrote on Twitter.
So there’s no real apology here. Just a mild misunderstanding. Ehh, the hairs on his PR folk are probably turning grey right about now. What he said and how he said proved to be very scolding to women, particularly those who are battling weight issues and personal insecurities. Rather than using a cup of kindness, he badgers them with the mean mug.
Which leads me to the PR train wreck that’s circulating Rick Ross, who’s next at bat. After spitting rhymes about date-rape on a Molly-worshipping verse (see story), ballsy journalism editorials fired back at him and a well-constructed campaign to sabotage his Reebok deal was put into place. They clearly succeed, while also ignoring his half-cooked apologizes to the media by saying that his words were taking out of context. Moments after Reebok dropped the “Hustlin'” rapper abruptly dissolving what TMZ reported as being a “five million dollar endorsement,” Ross composed a complete apology. “To the young men who listen to my music,” Ross wrote, “please know that using a substance to rob a woman of her right to make a choice is not only a crime, it’s wrong and I do not encourage it.”
A little too late, Bawse. The damage was already done. Especially when those in your camp are attacking Reebok, who they’ve labeled “haters,” for making a wise executive decision.
Thing got so bad that silky crooner John Legend, who recently dropped his new single containing a duet with the troubled rapper, released a damning statement on the content Rick Ross is being hammered for rapping.
“I don’t think any MC, any artist should in any way encourage rape in their lyrics or even make light of it, even if they are not explicitly encouraging it,” Legend told Yahoo!. “They shouldn’t do it, and people have a right to respond when they hear a lyric they don’t like.”
Legend went on to talk about his relationship with Ross and his ability to recover from this career blow. “I’m very proud of the work that Rick and I have done together,” he says. “[Ross] is still my friend, and I still respect him. I think him apologizing was the right thing to do, and hopefully we can move forward, and hopefully nobody else will rap about rape or make light of rape in the future. It’s something that every rapper should avoid.”
Fourth at bat and with all the bases loaded, Justin Bieber steps up and sadly strikes out for making a B+ in world history and a F in history sensitivity. The pop star, who refers to his clan of followers worldwide as “beliebers,” wrote that he wished Holocaust poster girl Anne Frank would have been a “belieber” if she had lived to see and hear of him today. Making matters worse, this is the best he could jot down in the guestbook at the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam.
The museum praised the star’s visitation, but stopped short of praising his “kind” words. But their is backlash from this. What did you expect? Let’s consider the fact that Bieber turned 19 this year, and is probably going through a little bad boy phase – something very common in teens hungry for adulthood. But 2013 hasn’t been the best year for the pop singer. Woes in London, a horrible birthday (described on his Instagram), crazy tardiness at his concerts and his bout with the paparazzi are just some of the headlines detailing Bieber’s out-of-control problems.
Thought I was done? Think again. There are others coming up to take a swing at their own reputations.
Ozzy Osbourne is struggling to keep the puzzle pieces together as he embarks a highly-anticipated reunion with Black Sabbath, something that’s been pushed back by his years of substance abuse. Since the 21st century, Osbourne has defended his title as a clean man, even writing self-help editorials for Rolling Stone while detailing his new freedoms of sobriety. But there’s been a little glitch inside those plans.
Osbourne took to Facebook to write a very long explanation about the recent events in his life, especially as word leaked that his wife Sharon was on the verge of filing divorce. The post seemed remorseful and sincere, and he is now pledging to make strides to bettering his environment. “For the last year and a half I have been drinking and taking drugs. I was in a very dark place,” the 64-year old singer wrote on his Facebook page. “However, I am happy to say that I am 44 days sober.”
He also wrote about the status of his troubled marriage: ““Just to set the record straight, Sharon and I are not divorcing. I’m just trying to be a better person.” He apologized to his fans, his family and wife for being “an asshole.” With a Black Sabbath album also preparing to drop, Osbourne is doing what he can to save a sinking ship. As for the good inside his efforts? Sharon, who is dealing with a troublesome load of bad news ranging from her past health scares and those of her children, is remaining cautious about reconciling. According to TMZ, sources close to Sharon are reporting that “even though Ozzy Osbourne took to his Facebook page Tuesday apologizing for his recent behavior and stating he has been sober for 44 days, it’s not enough for [Sharon].”
Last but not least, how can we forget the last batter of this month’s embarrasing game of major league baste ball. With bases loaded, Ray J strikes out for being desperate and thirsty for attention when he recently dropped his latest single, “I Hit That.”
He surely hits the ball, but it’s a foul one.
“She might move on to rappers and ballplayers/But we all know I hit it first,” he sings using his best B2K voice. Adding insult to injury, he tells on the real inspiration of the track. “I had her head going north and her ass going south/But now baby chose to go West.” The rumor mill turned on their Christmas lights when confronting the subject matter, decoding Kim Kardashian as the song’s ass-et. Of course, it doesn’t take rocket science for one to figure out that Ray J is trying to get some Kanye West attention and trying to crash Kimmy’s baby shower. We all remember the leaked sex flick that launched her career and nosedived his, especially when his bedroom moves failed to impress. And ever since then, his career in hip-hop or R&B (“if you can call it a career,” says Houston Press writer Angelica Leicht) has been underwhelming and almost a travesty when compared with his sister, R&B songstress Brandy. So let it be known that this track is everything but a silly publicity stunt. It sure isn’t an opportunity to get a Grammy nod.
He tried killing the gossip steam by posting pixelated album art of the “hit it and quit it” victim.
And this is what it should have been.
Lately, Ray J has defended the track and said that the track is not about Kimmy at all. If we were to believe that, then we all have struck out at the ball game. We all lose.
J Matthew Cobb is the managing editor of HiFi Magazine.