Tuesday, April 15, 2008

C.Y.I.N. Case Study: Has Alicia Keys Lost Her Friggin' Mind?!?

crossposted at The Secret Council of American Negroes

I've never been the biggest Alicia Keys fan. Not because I don't like her somewhat bland and overly-hyped music, but mainly because I just don't really mess with R&B like that much nowadays. Yeah, I'm cool with Dwele, and that recent Erykah Badu was a-ite, but overall, I spend more time on the AM dial, far removed from the thump and bump of the typical Hot/Power/Kiss genre of playlist-driven stations. When I do listen to music on the radio, I'm far more of an "urban contemporary" or "smooth jazz" guy.

And besides, I'm just not feelin' those damn vocoders.[1]

[Editor's Note: I'm also prolly still a little salty over that India.Arie/Grammy thing a few years back. And I know India's career has since fizzled and she's back to working the 3rd shift at Denny's, but still, she got straight robbed!]

That said, while I generally find Keys to be relatively inoffensive Starbucks background music and little more, I wonder exactly what was she sippin' when she went all Dale Gribble[2] on us and gave these quotes during a recent interview with Blender Magazine.

There’s another side to Alicia Keys: conspiracy theorist.

The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter tells Blender magazine: "‘Gangsta rap’ was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other. ‘Gangsta rap’ didn’t exist."

Though she’s known for her romantic tunes, she told Blender that she wants to write more political songs. If black leaders such as the late Black Panther Huey Newton "had the outlets our musicians have today, it’d be global. I have to figure out a way to do it myself," she said.

Keys, 27, said she’s read several Black Panther autobiographies and wears a gold AK-47 pendant around her neck "to symbolize strength, power and killing ’em dead," according to an interview in the magazine’s May issue, on newsstands Tuesday.

Another of her theories: That the bi coastal feud between slain rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. was fueled "by the government and the media, to stop another great black leader from existing."
This whole thing reminds me of that old Chris Rock routine. Just put on your headphones and fast forward to the 40 second mark.

"MLK was assassinated. Malcolm X was assassinated. Them two Negroes got shot!"

Alicia Keys, please stick to your formulaic piano ballads and leave the Biggie and Pac conspiracy theories to the LA Times.

Question: Is Alicia Keys making any sense?

Alicia Keys shares her conspiracy theories on 'gangsta rap' [NY Daily News]

[1] Seriously, what the hell is Mariah Carey doing singing with a vocoder? She actually has talent. My "The Vocoder Is Ruining My Life" post is coming later this week. Stay tuned.

[2] Only the best character from the best animated TV series evar, just in case you were wondering.

22 AverageComments™:

Kesi said...

AB, u my dude and all, but I will NOT stay quiet while you (throat clearing) hate on one of the most prolific singers/songwriters of our time. I'm not gonna do a whole AK ad here, her music and talent speaks for itself. But lay off man, u KNOW there's a very thin line between genius and insanity, so hey, so what she may fly off the deep-end once in a while with some "controversial" comments, but u put a mic and voice recorder up to almost anyone, and they're bound to say SOMEthing off the wall every now and then. She's great, that's it and that's all. Do ur thang girl, u'll still always have LEGIONS of adoring fans worldwide, including me.

studpoet said...

maybe i'm insane too but...what's wrong with what she said?

it's highly possible that "gangsta rap's" explosion was a conspiracy. hip hop in its golden heyday was about feeling good, uplifting, and educating. Sure there were the few folks who were just crass but they weren't getting the play like the other groups were. i mean if you think about the 80's and 90's in terms of music you had a wide range of folks. not just these broke down non rapping/singing folks dominating the charts.

i mean it does sound funny for alicia to say it but...what makes her statement any less valid?

and its true if huey newton had access to media the way that artists do today there may have been a larger revolution.

also, what if the government was involved in the biggie and tupac murders? here were two men who, while i wouldn't put them on the same plane as malcolm and martin, were creatively catapulting hip hop to another level. and actually tupac, when he wasn't acting like an ass, was a brilliant young man.

their death in some ways symbolized the death of hip hop.

*shrug* i don't know. i mean it does sound strange for alicia to say it but i don't see what makes what she says any crazier than what any other person who observes the world would say. and her lens may even be from the perspective of someone inside a notoriously dirty industry. *shrug*

by the way i do agree with you that india was robbed. but who i think was robbed the most was jill scott!

mike Belgrove said...

Alicia is a talented artist but I think it's pretty safe to say that she is an idiot.

I first read about her interview with Blender from my fellow blogger Juan Perez over on Highbrid Nation. I couldnt beleive it. I had always thought she was smart. Little did I know. In reality she is a cross between a Black Panther and a retard.

...she still looks good though ;).

cinco said...

What someone believes to be true in their own mind, is true to them no matter what anyone else believes or proves.

I was surprised by what she said but it reinforces that we don't really 'know' these entertainers we just make judgements on the sides of their personalities presented to us. As a mother of daughters, I'm troubled by the necklace of AK-47 and the message that it sends to other girls that may idolize Alicia and the thug/bad boy culture.

And the conspiracy theorists believe what they say. Not much can change their views- no matter how improbable it appears. There's perhaps a greater chance of Biggie and Tupac were shot by other Blacks...if it wasn't for so many people believing in the stop snitching campaign we would know the answers by now...but that's food for thought for a different day.

TalentedTenth said...

glad to see that someone else felt that india got robbed that year that alicia won all those awards. she clearly didn't deserve them all; india's stuff was just as good that first year they both came out...

studpoet said...

For another look at this check out this clip:

Also checkout soulbounce.com

Anonymiss said...

She made no sense. I mean, what would West Coast rappers have to say about her statements? Do they believe that the gov't was behind their music that they proudly uphold?

And A. Keys is the truth. Granted, India was robbed that year, but Alicia's actually talented. Level your harsh critiques at Rihanna, LOL!

Afro-America Writer said...

I wrote exactly how I felt about the Alicia Keys comments yesterday on my blog: http://afro-americawriter.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!2D30651C10302D91!421.entry

Even this morning on the Tom Joyner Show, Keys tried to evade a few questions posed to her concerning the article and she was supposed to be there to do some damage control.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

You are correct!

Alicia is showing the world that she has spent more time at her piano than she has with her face in a book...but I am sure she sincerely wanted to sound socially-conscious!


innercityrose said...

Love her music all but she needs to stick to what she does best..playing the piano, writing and singing. Her comment was totally off the wall. Sorry..not a big India fan..couple of songs were ok..but I personally don't think she has the talent of Alicia which is why we have not heard anything from her lately...at least I don't think we have?? All her songs sounded the same to me.

Lee Coles said...

Like Barack and his God/guns gaffe, she didn't exactly word it right, but the sentiment that some Black kids have been sold a bill of goods on glorification of gangsta lifestyle at their expense, so suburban white kids will fantasize about that life while head boppin', is legit.

spool32 said...


Or something. OK, somebody please tell me - if this doesn't rise to the level of the craziest paranoid idiocy you've ever heard... what will? What could possibly top this?

Exactly what would it take, what utter nonsense, would cause everyone here to go "yeah, what the hell is she thinking, that's crazy talk".

Faked moon landing?
Nigerian millions?
Spirit mediums?

Somebody tell me please. Is there anything too ridiculous that somebody wont go "hey, it might be true..."

Anonymous said...

If you know about cointelpro, what she said was entirely plausible.

ebw-educated black woman said...

AB, Dale Gribble. Funny! I love King of the Hill too.
Yeah, I thought India got robbed too. And Studpoet, I want black folk to really claim Jill before white folk do.

And AB, you just admitted you copped the new Badu. Talk about folk who say kooky stuff. But she's my girl (I love the new CD!)..so she's out there. And so what if Alicia is too? Keep in mind, they are aritists--and they're sensative about their ish! They all think kooky stuff--they're creative, they have huge imaginations.

I.L.L. said...

I agree with Jay Smooth. She might be *wrong* but the suspicion isn't exactly *crazy*

Plus I've learned not to trust pull quotes without the context of the entire conversation.

@ spool32, I know it's been said, but the fact that some black people are highly suspicious of the government, WHETHER I AGREE WITH THEM OR NOT, is not a sentiment I'm will to dismiss as idiotic.

Anonymous said...

Some might argue Alicia is part of the conspiracy to erase black looking women from the media

spool32 said...


Yeah, me either... suspicion of and watchfullness over the gov't. by the public is a sentiment I can get behind. I could tell you some remarkable personal stories about grey-hat hacking, Carnivore, and FBI-designed viruses from the 90s that would sound pretty tinfoil-ish.

Suspicion is one thing, but there's got to be a line somewhere. If AK claiming that Eazy E was a creation of the Reagan Administration doesn't cross that line, what does?

I.L.L. said...


Snoop Dogg's claims that the KKK is funding Obama's campaign. That, my friend, crosses the line!

ebonygentleman said...

I don't believe that even Alicia Keys believes what she said. I don't care for her music. To me, it's just a glorified high school piano recital.


i.l.l. said...

Oh, and CO-SIGN on the folks who find Ms. Keys' music overrated!

DJ Black Adam said...

Well, I agree that India Arie was robbed!

Big Man said...

Keyes' response to the article.


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