Sunday, I posted ?uestlove’s argument that Beyonce is the next MJ. Needless to say, myself and MANY others disagreed. If you are just joining us you can read ?uesto’s full argument on my previous blog here:
Good people, I want to be brief but the fact is to comprehend MJ is a huge undertaking. Though Mr. Thompson had some interesting points, his claim is poorly thought out and completely without merit.
First off, let me say that there are certain facts about Mrs. Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter than cannot be disputed.
A) She is talented.
B) She can sing.
C) She can dance.
D) She has star quality.
E) She is a beautiful woman.
That being said, there are definitely parallels between Mrs. Knowles and Michael Joseph Jackson:
A) They both have been entertainers since they were children
B) They are both driven to be the best in their field
C) They have reaped great success in the entertainment industry
D) They are both Virgos–thus hard workers and shy people that come alive on stage
E) They both came from groups that they inevitably outgrew
F) They both-because of growing up in the entertainment industry-have somewhat stunted social development
G) They have overbearing fathers who guided their careers.
H) They both bammas
I) They Black
…and that’s where the comparisons stop.
When Berry Gordy stood before the world at MJ’s memorial and finally said out loud what the world already knew but for numerous reasons could not bring itself to freely admit–that Michael Jackson is the greatest entertainer to ever live–NO ONE could offer an argument to the contrary…because there is no argument to the contrary.
There is a point when you are no longer great, but legendary…where you are no longer legendary, but an icon…where you are no longer an icon but the Gold Standard by which all others are measured…MJ reached that level….
MJ didnt just “change the game”, he obliterated the old game and put a new one in its place.
This may sound like hyperbole, but the facts speak for themselves.
No one has sold as many records as MJ. Period. But record sales are only a piece of this pie. Yes, Thriller had a lot of serendipity going for it, but the pieces had been put into place a long time before that…
At the age of FIVE YEARS OLD, MJ was already on a level that he relieved his older brother Jermaine of his lead singer position in the Jackson 5. Grown men refused to play on a bill with him. He was a seasoned enough entertainer that his competition in talent shows swore that he was not a child, but an adult midget (true story). A child had professional adult entertainers shook. Bear in mind, this was the 60’s, where you couldnt lipsynch, use auto-tune, or prerecorded tracks. If you didnt have the goods, you were forced to leave the stage, cute kid or not. The Jackson 5 won EVERY talent show they entered.
Another true story. At the age of THREE YEARS OLD, MJ sang Climb Ev’ry Mountain in school one day. His teacher wept.
Etta James told this story to MJ biographer J. Randy Taraborelli. She said that one night on a tour stop in the Midwest, she noticed a little boy hanging around her dressing room before showtime. She was trying to prepare for the show and the kid was distracting her. She marched up to the kid and told him to get lost. The kid scrambled away. Later, after her set, the boy appeared at her dressing room door. She asked him “What do you want, kid?” The boy replied, “Miss James, my father told me to come and apologize for bothering you earlier. I didn’t meant to, its just that you’re so good. I just want to know how you do it…” Etta had a change of heart and invited the boy in for some pointers. She remembers (in a self-congratulatory way) thinking to herself after the boy had gone, “One day, that boy is going to be the best…because he wants to learn from the best…”.
Mind you, this is going on before Motown ever knew The Jackson 5 existed. The rest, as they say, is history.
There are artists that we enjoy, and then there are artists that we FEEL. They give us pause. They make us consider things. They make us sit up and pay attention, and what they do and say stays with us long after the show is over or the record stops.
I’ve always said that you can divide entertainers into 2 categories: Artists and Acts.
Acts wants your attention and praise. They use whatever talent they may have to gain your favor. It doesnt matter to them how they do it. You pay them and clap for them and they are satisfied.
Artists also wants your attention and praise, but the difference is that an artist feels duty bound to share their gifts. They perform in service of the audience. They feel compelled to connect with their audience, to give a voice to whatever you in the audience may be thinking or feeling. At other times, an artist has something to say that they feel everyone should hear. An artist has purpose and integrity.
Michael Jackson felt duty bound to right the wrongs of the world. He wanted people to stop hurting each other and start loving each other more. It was this message of love that was the foundation of his music and performances until his last day on Earth.
Michael Jackson is an artist. At the age of 18, he pleaded with us to come together in songs like Show You The Way To Go, Living Together, Dreamer, and Strength of One Man. He continued on with a constant message.
-Man of War
-Can You Feel It
-We Are The World
-They Dont Care About Us
-Heal The World
-Bless His Soul
-Man In The Mirror
-Keep The Faith
-On The Line (which was the theme song to the only film that I know of about the Million Man March)
if you wanna talk empowerment, he said:
“Lift your head up high and scream out to the world
I know I am someone, so let the truth unfurl
No one can hurt you now cause you know its true
Yes, I believe in me, so you believe in you
Help me sang it
Sing to the world, sing it out loud”
He wrote that when he was 21.
Lots of people write inspirational songs, mattafact there’s a whole sub-genre of music dedicated to just that, but when MJ sang people listened…people in all corners of the globe.
While it may seem that Im just retreading old shit…I remind you that we are talking about someone who is being talked about as the “next” one of this caliber, so I think its important to realize what caliber we taumbout here….
We taumbout a cat who inspired the world to stop and not only realize the plight of Africa, but help…you had kids sending in allowances, and Mr. Joe Six Pack writing a check for famine relief….These days that type of widescale philanthropy is commonplace…
We’re taumbout a cat that made grown men cry during and after his life (I’ve seen it). A person who has little children demanding that their parents buy them his music AFTER his death.
MJ changed the way Black men approached singing. How many baritones are there in R&B these days? These days a little white kid is just as likely to start singing in an R&B style than forming a rock band because of MJ.
MJ wrote songs that are part of the permanent fiber of global culture.
MJ made Fred Astaire bow down.
Even MJ’s hero, the notoriously egocentric genius and architect of modern Black music, James Brown insisted that even though MJ had learned from him that MJ was an original.
To this day, people are still trying to discover what made MJ tick.
MJ survived a scandal that would have obliterated anyone else’s career-TWICE. After 8 years of creative silence, then man announced that he was back and instantly sold out the same arena 50 times over.
This is the man we are talking about here. This is the entertainer we are talking about. This is the artist we are talking about.
And who is Questo proclaiming to be his rightful successor?
For all the talent, charisma, success, and work ethic that Beyonce has, let’s be really damn real.
She aint fuckin with MJ.
She may be one of the many entertainers in the mold of MJ, but the “NEXT” MJ?
How so? Because there are some similarities in their careers? That aint enough…
Let take the visual out of the equation.
let’s sit MJ’s catalogue next to Beyonce’s….that’s not even fair…
What is the criteria? Beyonce’s songwriting? Aight, let’s look at that….
on persistent suitors:
MJ – “She comes to the door/crying at my feet/Guilt shines in her eyes/as she slowly sinks in deep/You know our love couldnt last forever/persuade your way/but you aint clever/ I close the door and I say never….”
Yonce – “So what/you bought a pair a shoes/what now I guess you think I owe you/you dont have to call as much as you do/Id give em back to be through with you/so what/my mama likes you…”
MJ – “And when you think of trust/Does it lead you home?/To a place/that you only dream of/When you’re all alone/And you can go by feel/’Stead of circumstance/But the power’s in believing/So give yourself a chance…”
Yonce – “the shoes on my feet/I bought it/the clothes I’m wearing/I bought it/the rock Im rockin/I bought it/cuz I depend on me/if I want it/the watch Im wearin/I bought it/the house I live in/I bought it/the car Im drivin/I bought it/cuz I depend on me…”
on a broken heart:
MJ – “and it doesnt seems to matter/and it doesnt seems right/cuz the will has brought no fortune/still I cry alone at night/dont you judge of my composure/cuz Im bothered everyday/and she didnt leave a letter/she just up and ran away…”
Yonce – “Now that it’s over/Stop calling me/Come pick up your clothes/Ain’t no need to front like you’re still with me/All your homies know/Even your very best friend/Tried to warn me on the low/It took me some time/But now I am strong…”
I think we can see that we’re not dealing with the same caliber of songwriter…Also let me point out, that songwriting and producing actual music is one of the things that MJ was known for (if the word “Quincy” enters your mind, go see my “In Memoriam Part 1″ blog, then rejoin us here). it is common knowledge now that if you want a track on a Yonce album you are REQUIRED to give her a writing AND production credit–whether she did any work or not. Tsk Tsk, mayne. Okay, we know that she’s written lyrics before. Schmoove. But sometimes she doesnt when the credits say otherwise. See If I Was A Boy.
But Beyonce aint twisted knob the first, or arranged a string session, or worked out chords with musicians. Mike has. Kenny Gamble told CBS in 1977 that Mike and his broze didnt need a babysitter in the studio anymore.
Vocally? *looks at the camera*. I’ve only heard B sing ONE song with any kind of believable emotion (the latter song quoted above). Yonce fans, feel free to point me in the direction of any other song by her that moves you emotionally (please say Get Me Bodied). Meanwhile, Mike made HIMSELF cry every time he sang She’s Out Of My Life. EVERY time. Its one thing to sing well, its another thing to make people feel…
Videos? Mike damn near invented the video. I challenge you to make it all the way through this:
Like I was saying…what other criteria are we judging on, Mr. Thompson?
Record sales? Popularity? The scales are not coming anywhere close to balancing with those factors on the table…MJ’s weakest selling album ran 10 million out the gate with little promotion and one video.
Dancing? Again, Fred Astaire, James Brown, and every kid that dances professionally now cites MJ as an inspiration. He created his own dance vocabulary, his moves are studied. Even K-Fed said that the greatest moment in his life was dancing for MJ. Beyonce’s choreographer left her tour to audition for This Is It. Not for a job, to audition. Yes, MJ learned from the best but in the end when you bust certain moves people know automatically who you are mimicking. Yes, Yonce had her Single Ladies moment and everyone wanted to learn the steps but the same thing happened with the Achy Breaky Heart, The Macarena, and MC Hammer’s Chinese Typewriter. Do the Single Ladies dance 10 years from now at a party if you want. People are still doing Thriller–27 years later. Let someone accurately dance like MJ and a crowd gathers…
Is Beyonce the biggest pop star in the world right now? Yes. has she been successful for a while now? Yes. But she’s hardly alone in wearing that distinction.
Lastly, let’s talk about influence. MJ has inspired millions of people to better themselves, care about others, be ecologically responsible (long before it was hip to be “green”…BTW, MJ was a vegetarian back when fast food still tasted good), be the best they can be, follow their dreams, and take pride in being different. He has personally mentored actors, athletes, emcees, choreographers, filmmakers, authors, activists, singers, musicians, entrepreneurs, doctors, etc…both young and old.
What is Yonce’s influence? Inspiring insecure women to shake their asses half naked in a room full of strangers? Who is she inspiring and what is she inspiring them to do? To wear as little clothing as possible? Throwing your man out of the house? Emotionally blackmailing him to marry you? (the less I say about Yonce’s relationship, the better) To writhe around on the floor and spread your legs? To drive around in the Pussy Wagon???
Warning: Opinion ahead.
I absolutely fucking cringe when I hear someone suggest that Yonce is a role model that young women should be emulating. In the last decade, she has gone from suggestive to risque to desperate. What would happen if she put her legs, ass, and titties away? Would we be still be having this conversation about her artistic merit? Sweet Lawd, WHEN will women learn the difference btwn taking ownership of their sexuality and exploiting themselves?
A large part of Yonce’s appeal is that she makes records out of women’s sillier fantasies.
-Kitty Kat: I’ll withhold pussy from you if you dont give me the amount of attention I want
-Irreplaceable: I’ll kick you out the crib and you wont have a word to say about it. Oh yeah, Im going to further provoke you by inviting another dude over here in the middle of a hostile situation
-Freakum Dress: Im feeling insecure about my relationship, so instead of talking to my man…Im going to the club in the sluttiest clothes I can find…that’ll teach his ass
-Single Ladies: if you dont propose to me, Im going to go out to the club make a spectacle of myself
This is some real mature shit here *sarcasm*. the list goes on…ladies, you can follow this advice if you want to and see how far it gets you…Sadly, alot of girls and grown women think that they can pull this type of shit off because they saw Beyonce do it in a video. Trust me, I’ve seen it…
What they fail to realize is that Beyonce can make up fantasies about what its like to deal with men because she’s Beyonce. She’s spent the majority of her life on stage or under the watchful eye of her dad. If there’s one parallel btwn Yonce and MJ that stands out, you can bet your ass that the lack of a social life is one of the most prevalent. Solange can get pregnant at 17, but there was no FUCKING way Matt and Tina would have let Yonce get that far out of their eyesight for that to happen…
Just for comparison, here’s some MJ fantasies: He goes around fighting evil, protecting the world, and saving people from getting hurt…oh yeah, he turned into a zombie once…
Aint no way that Yonce, in her current incarnation, should be held up as an example…You can say what you want abt MJ and his various controversies, but when have you seen him advocating acting a motherfuckin fool?
Lemme wrap this shit up, B.
Beyonce is successful performer. Lots of people love her. MJ is a global cultural institution. A musical genius. One of the greatest vocalists of our time. One of the best dancers in history. An innovator in the field of music. A trailblazer that changed how the music industry works. A humanitarian. An inspiration. A hero. He left the world and broke the damn internet…
He is simply, the greatest entertainer ever to live. (c) Berry Gordy
Beyonce got a long way to go before she can event think about climbing that mountain.
Aint no next. There was only one.