Common created drama when he went on The Daily Show, soon after his “Glory” Oscar win this year, and said that we have to handle racism the way that we handle our bae: taking the hand of the offender and saying, “Come on, baby, let’s get past this.”
He was taunted for making simplistic something so complex that it permeates every fiber of our lives, from where we live to what we eat to how we’re educated, employed, and policed.
But he had a point. They say, the opposite of love is not hate, it’s apathy. And if ever we needed to get out of the matrix, to completely step out of the paradigm of racism –– to not return the hate, or get apathetic –– it’s now.
Tyrese’s new album, Black Rose, an homage to making passion a priority, is not in vain.
Before its release, which Tyrese says is his last solo album, he sat with BET.com to explain why he’s using it to bow out of an R&B rock star life to get back to what's real.
“I just got 50/50 joint and legal custody of my daughter," he said, "so when I leave the house, it better be worth it.”
He’s had, so far in his 17-year career, three solo Grammy nominations, and with his latest, just as many albums to hit the Billboard 200 Top 10. When the chart released Tuesday, Black Rose appeared as his first No. 1. And it's set to continue circulating as No. 2 on the R&B chart.
It’s worth it.
There’s been a few surprising No. 1’s in recent Urban Music. J. Cole’s 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the first hip hop album in 25 years to go platinum without any guest features; Wale’s double-hitter of The Gifted and The Album About Nothing, after he was counted out for switching labels so many times before; Drake, with a mixtape, no less; and Meek Mill, even with a jail bid stalling his promotion.
But that’s all been [mainstream] hip hop, much of it about career and community ambition, even when there’s an ode to “Madonna,” or the like.
Black Rose is unadulterated R&B. Decidedly not pop. Dedicated to the one who got away (he hopes not too far). That it’s No. 1, even with the charts reflecting a historical preference towards artists who aren’t like him, is a sign that we’re at least listening.
It’s worth it.
It nods to that old school way of love, that taking responsibility (“Shame”), begging (“Without My Heart”), pleading ("Waiting on You"), appreciating ("Prior to You"), promise-making (“I Still Do”) way of love.
And it doesn’t ignore the hip hop generation of R&B, subtle hints of Mary J. Blige, pulling from R. Kelly (“Let’s go half on a lifetime,” he croons); and for the confessional “Dumb S**t,” drawing from “Bonita Applebum,” Snoop Dogg, and Black Ty himself (Tyrese’s rapping alter ego).
It even takes into consideration the selfie generation (he is the King of Social Media, after all) with the mood-boosting, “Picture Perfect.”
Yes, the charts have been historically preferential, but for Black Rose –– an album so Black, it’s title is inspired by hip hop patron saint Tupac –– to enter the No. 1 spot, Black owned and independently, no less, is proof that it’s possible to get past it.
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