All Articles Tagged "mainstream"
When you win a Grammy and a resounding response is, “WHO,” you want to make sure that never happens again. With that in mind, Esperanza Spalding’s new album Radio Music Society is widely “mainstream jazz” so that it appeals to more than just jazz fans. The result? An album where the only real theme is, “I want them all to love me.” I don’t know that she can reach the pop world and this album certainly won’t do it but if you’re an R&B fan, you’ll definitely want to give this a listen.
Esperanza starts off with “Radio Song” which basically addresses those who don’t know who she is by basically saying, “Even though you never heard it, you keep singing along…this song.” It is quite uptempo and serves perfectly as an introduction to what most of the album will sound like. Here’s the thing about her voice: I think it is fairly strong but because she’s trying something new, it often sounds a little like…a Broadway singer. Most Broadway singers are good singers but I’m sure that isn’t the intent with her voice. As we go on, there are songs like “Cinnamon Tree,” “Hold On” and “Smile Like That” which offer a good and bad look at love. Then there’s “Land of the Free” and “Endangered Species” (which features vocal beast Lalah Hathaway) that tackle social issues. She even covered Michael Jackson’s “Can’t Help It” which quite frankly, people will hate or love – I guarantee there won’t be an in-between with that one.
Without a doubt, my absolute favorite track is “Crowned & Kissed.” Yes, it is a love song (though many lines in the song could be references to a Higher Power) but it isn’t even about that; the horn section epitomizes musicianship to me. They take the song to another level. In fact, if you find that you can’t get into Esperanza the artist (and I strongly encourage everyone to listen to her previous albums), just listen to the accompanying music. If that doesn’t make you sway, then maybe you just haven’t learned to fully appreciate music just yet.
Esperanza Spalding’s Radio Music Society is in stores on March 20th. Pick it up and add a little something more to your collection!
On Saturday I decided to hit up a belly dancing Zumba class to supplement my new workout routine, which I’ve started about a month ago. I’m trying to keep to my New Year’s resolution of losing a couple of pounds, okay 20 pounds, and getting fit and healthy. Anyway, I’m in class, which was held in the top room of a day care center, sweating through a funky mix of Afro-Brazilian beats, Soca music, Whitney Houston and Beyoncé tracks when several things stuck out in my mind:
First, who says that Black women don’t work out? The class I was in was filled to capacity with women of varying hues of the brown scale and sizes. Oh and yes, big women work out too. It may be hard for some to believe but Black women can carry more weight than what is acceptable by body mass index and still be considered healthy. In fact, our instructor, who was a heavy-set brown skinned woman with huge hips, thighs and an even bigger derriere, worked through the routine like it was nothing while the rest of us grunted and gasped to catch our collective breaths. Which brings me to my final somewhat random but thought-provoking observation: not every Black woman has a big butt.
As a black woman who is lacking the approved standard of the Black woman backside, I can tell you that it was frustrating during the portion of the routine when the big behind instructor told us to shake our money makers and mine wouldn’t budge enough to even produce change. Once again, by virtue of bad luck and probably some “Massa” late night trips to the slave quarters, I have been cheated out of my genetic birthright. And no matter how many hip extensions, squats and lunges I do, while I may firm the backside, I will never gain the big, shakable ghetto booty I always wanted.
I’ve always been insecure about my behind – or lack thereof. Growing up it wasn’t easy being the black girl without a big butt. I remember having a boyfriend frankly tell me one time that my big breasts, thick thighs and hips were nice but I would “look better” if I had a bigger behind. He wasn’t the only one who told me that. Even my closest girlfriends chide me about my “white girl” shape. I like to think that over the years, I have come to accept my body for the way it is. However I still don’t leave the house without a long shirt to distract away from what I don’t have dragging behind me.
There is nothing more potentially damaging to a Black woman’s ego than having to explain why she has not been blessed with traditionally defined Black girl features and assets. And explain we must: to the guys we date, to the close friends, family and yes even strangers, who offer up “helpful” advice to help you achieve the standard. We tell skinny Black girls who lack curves to eat more sandwiches. We ridicule Black women with smaller breast into push up bras and surgery, and we tell women with lighter complexions to use darker bronzers and advise darker skinned women to stay out of the sun. Sure, most of us can readily discuss how disconnected we feel from the European standard of beauty, however for Black women, who lack the “right” skin tone and certain curvaceous video vixen shape, which some have grown to associate with blackness, there is little dialog on how our own pedestal of beauty has become a cage.
by Charing Ball
In the midst of the Red Tails/Future of Black cinema dust-up, Tyler Perry, reigning king of black film at the moment, decided to offer his unrequested two cents to the mix and penned an open letter entitled, “The problem with all-star African American Casts…”
In the letter, Perry not only expressed his support for George Lucas and Red Tails but he also offered “insight” on the future of black cinema: “Unfortunately, movies starring an all African American cast are on the verge of becoming extinct. THAT’S RIGHT, EXTINCT! Ask any executive at a Hollywood Studio why, and most of them will tell you one of two things. The first thing they’ll say is that DVD sales have become very soft, so it’s hard for a movie with an all black cast to break-even. Secondly they’ll say, most movies are now dependent on foreign sales to be successful and most “black” movies don’t sell well in foreign markets. So what that means is you will begin to see less and less films that star an all black cast. Isn’t that sad in a 2012 America? Somewhere along the way we still haven’t realized that we are more alike than not. ”
It is perplexing that a writer/director, who has managed a successful career producing films featuring all-Black casts, mostly outside of the confines of Hollywood, is projecting an end of black cinema as we know it. Isn’t that a tad bit hypocritical, if not counterproductive to his own business model? A week ago I would have said so. In fact, a week ago, I did say so. That was until I read in Shadow & Act that Perry is currently in production for his newest installment to the Madea franchise, Madea’s Witness Protection, which will feature a mostly white cast ensemble. That’s right, Perry, who once helped long-forgotten black actresses to work again, is now opting for the likes of Doris Roberts, Devan Leos, Tom Arnold, Danielle Campbell and Eugene Levy, you know the American Pie guy, to fill seats. In fact, besides Madea, it appears that the only black star in this new flick will be Romeo Miller, the son of Master P.
Now his letter makes total sense. It’s evident that he was trying to soft-glove his core audience, i.e. Black folks, for what will ultimately be a change in scenery at Tyler Perry Studios. We should have known something was up with the surprisingly, and questionable, casting of Kim Kardashian in his soon-to-be released The Marriage Counselor. That film has also caused a stir among even his most hardcore followers that didn’t like that the Armenian known for her booty, was getting shine on in a Black film. Some of his fans were so enraged that they threatened a boycott. But in true Perry fashion, he responded to the impending boycott with a letter, stating that: “She [Kim Kardashian] literally has millions of young people following her. I thought and still do think, that it would be very responsible of her to be a part of this film. To have the young people that look up to her, see her in a film that is about what happens in life when you make the wrong choices. Whether you’re aware of it or not, to be honest with you I wasn’t, millions of young people adore her and are following her every move. If one of those young people see this film and find the strength to live a better life and not go through what these characters went through in this movie, then we have all done what I feel I’m being led to do here.”
In other words, Perry is trying to get paid.
by Anton Polouektov
The modern business reality is in a state of flux. Significant demographic and economic shifts are fundamentally changing every facet of business operations, from marketing strategies to production techniques. Businesses are finding that they have to evolve to appeal to an increasingly broad, tech-savvy, and multicultural target demographic known collectively as “the mainstream.”
Marketers start with a basic inquiry: Who makes up the mainstream? From there, the questions multiply: How do you market to them effectively? What sorts of products are likely to appeal to them? What demographic trends are most likely to impact this group? Each year industry leaders pour billions of dollars into research with the hopes of winning faithful consumers.
Enter Guy Garcia – multimedia and multiculturalism research expert, prominent journalist and critically acclaimed author of The New Mainstream: How the Multicultural Consumer Is Transforming American Business. Garcia’s work has been instrumental to the development of new marketing strategies for major corporations including AOL, Coca-Cola, and Time-Warner. In this interview with The Atlanta Post, Mr. Garcia talked about the nature of the “New Mainstream,” its internal workings, multicultural roots, and impact on the marketing landscape and business at large.
Tell us a little about how you came to recognize that there was a new mainstream taking root in the US.
Working internationally for AOL [I saw] the interest of companies all over the world in the domestic and ethnic markets in the U.S. Even though I’ve been aware of multicultural presences for a long time, this was new. I’d never seen anything that really looked into the implications of the fact that, for example, Hispanics in the United States had now the equivalent buying power to the GDP of the third or fourth-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world.
I realized that [this was] why they were so interested and this bled over into conversations in Japan about Asians in the United States. Meanwhile you had big companies in Spain that were eyeing this market as well, coming in from Europe. The more I looked into this the more I realized that there was already a change going on as marketers — and this was every[body] from media companies, entertainment companies to packaged goods companies to the health industry — were starting to get wind of this and mobilize to capture these new consumers because that was one of the most attractive and fastest-growing market segments around.
Aside from ethnic groups, who else is included in your definition of the new mainstream?
The “creative class” – these tend to be younger, more affluent, usually urban dwellers who are multicultural by interest. By choice, they are xenophiles, rather than xenophobes, and so their relationship with this emerging majority of multicultural consumers is very symbiotic.
Now, the younger you go, the more this is true. Already from age fifteen down, non-white people make up a majority. This younger generation has much more recognition and acceptance of a multicultural, inter-cultural reality. They see their identity as multidimensional.
Do you think that companies are justified in using the term mainstream to define an incredibly broad and diverse target demographic?
There’s one more piece of this that happened just in the last year or two – at Time Warner, they have People En Espanol, I founded AOL Latino when I was at AOL – these were brands that were designed and founded to target these emerging markets and tap their potentials and so forth. Time Warner discovered that not only was there an audience for People En Espanol, but 90% of the growth of People Magazine in English, their general market brand, is coming from Hispanic and multicultural consumers.
So now you have a double-pronged phenomenon going on here, so when you say “are they justified in even talking about a mainstream?”, any sense of a mainstream as it used to be defined is gone. And all the numbers are pointing towards an increasingly new mainstream multicultural reality across business segments, across demographics and increasingly across geography. Now, for the first time, the so-called minorities are close to or already make up more than half of the population in the suburbs, so the very definition of who these people are and how they behave is also changing. At the same time, companies are struggling: ‘What to do if Hispanics make up the bulk of the growth in my general market brand, not just my targeted multicultural brand? How do they fit together?’ There’s a lot of interest in this.
Would you say that savvy businesses today are looking to stratify their business strategies, as far as attracting new consumers, rather than consolidate them into a single drive towards an elusive “mainstream?”
A lot of the research I’ve been involved in lately is trying to do both of those things. So I guess you could say it’s a much more three-dimensional view of how the marketplace operates. So if you’re targeting younger people, you’re going to have to have a much more multicultural perspective right from the get go and you’re going to have a lot more latitude in using Hispanics, Blacks and Asians in your ad campaigns.
There was a time not long ago when this was seen as a risky move, [but] when you talk about younger audiences, and urban audiences, which make up the majority of all Americans, it’s not risky — it’s an imperative.
For example, Sony is relaunching their entire brand around hi-definition televisions and they’re using soccer as one of the vehicles. Increasingly they’re aware that they can reach a large chunk of multicultural consumers in the US, including a lot of Hispanics, creative class Americans that are getting hip to soccer, as well as a built-in global audience that’s already into soccer. People are looking into connecting the dots. As you move through different kinds of product lines, you’re going to have to adjust your view-finder. You can’t just assume that you’re going to reach everybody with a single message, because the market is just too fragmented.