The Socialite: Growing Pains

With the 2008 Grammy Awards now behind us, hopefully you have a few fond memories to carry you through the next few weeks, or days. Maybe it was Kanye West bringing A-list attention to himself the entire night or maybe it was Nas and Kelis making their controversial fashion statement with Black History Month as the backdrop. I don’t know about you, but for me, I was caught up in all the banter.Big money conversations were in high abundance, but not as high as the comparisons being thrown around. For your information, most celebrities do not like to be compared to anyone or have someone else being compared to them. I’m sure that you feel the same way. Yet it was still sad to see an icon the stature of Aretha Franklin feel slighted by an “icon-in-training” Beyoncé Knowles for calling her direct influence, another icon, Tina Turner, “The Queen of Soul.” But trust me, I do understand.At the height of their careers, Aretha Franklin was R&B/Soul, remembered for loving care on wax while Tina Turner was R&B/Pop, remembered for her crossover hits. So for Beyoncé – who is Tina’s musical descendant – to call her idol the Queen of Soul… I could just imagine Aretha Franklin’s girdle all up in a bunch over that. I retract imagining that.In this era, Mary J. Blige, a musical descendant of Aretha Franklin, holds the crown of “Queen of Hip-Hop/R&B.” I know what you Ms. Knowles fans are thinking, “How could Beyonce’ not be Numero Uno?” Easy answer: Mary J. Blige birthed the Hip-Hop/R&B era (you can thank Sean “Diddy” Combs for that). And as previously spoken upon, Beyonce, like her idol, always had more of a popular music appeal than pure R&B.Wow, have you noticed the irony? I made a statement about how celebrities scoff at comparisons, yet I’m pounding them out like Stimulus checks. It is all for good reason. There is one comparison that has been bubbling up over the past two years that the current Queen of Hip-Hop/R&B isn’t to keen about. And that incoming comparison is with R&B’s current it girl, Keyshia Cole.I’d like to send some AllHipHop.com love to the incomparable Illseed for adding this comment to one of his recent contributions:Mary J. Blige on Keyshia Cole:“The only reason why people probably compare us is because we both have a story. That’s about it. As far has her looking like me and wearing her hair like mine, and any time I do something and she does it, as far as I’m concerned that’s about imaging, as far as who she is on the inside, I cant see myself in her.”When I first read this comment, I immediately sat with it for analyzing purposes. Initially, it was easy to see that Mary does have respect for Keyshia. However, musically, I understood the stance that Mary had to take. She must preserve her legacy. Mary was the one that walked the first path of dirt in the grass, on which Keyshia is now walking. If a torch is going to be passed, it is only right that Mary questions the similarities between her and the woman that people are projecting to take her spot.And if that is to happen, Keyshia has a steep mountain to climb. Mary has been telling her life’s story for more than ten years. She was thought up to being big sister you never had; being able to express her experiences in a way that not only touched you, it changed you. If you were going through a terrible time, you played Mary; if you rose from that terrible time to find love again, you played Mary. And for the guys, if you caught your girl playing Mary, over and over again, you knew that you messed up big time.As for Keyshia, if you ask who she looks up to as an influence, she immediately says Mary. And for this generation of young woman who are trying to find their way, Keyshia Cole is their Big Sister, while Mary J. Blige is more like their married aunt which has past that isn’t as available as it once was. Yes, that would make Aretha Franklin the Big Momma. To this generation of listeners, while Auntie Mary is enjoying life on a Carnival cruise with her husband, it is their Big Sister Keyshia they witness burning her man’s clothing or cheating out of spite. And since they look up to their Big Sister, they will begin to handle situations just the same. Mary has found that since the moment she proclaimed her happiness, many of her fans went elsewhere to find their musical relative. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to find that some of those fans have found their way to Keyshia. Women who are going through hardships in their lives gravitate towards Keyshia for inspiration. Hopefully, as time goes on they’ll open their eyes to aspire towards Mary; as I’m sure Keyshia is doing. Growth is a natural progression that can be stunted, it just can’t be stopped. To hear Ludacris be called by his government name at a major event shows his progression as a man. His career up to this point would be a waste if he was still throwing ‘bows in cornrows. Just think about that…So what I’d like to ask the ladies is this: Which R&B songstress are you most like at this point in your life?Keyshia Cole: a woman who is in search of finding balance as an individual – a woman that walks around in the dark, while wearing shades, in search of true love – a woman that is insecure, almost a prisoner in your own skin – a woman that just can’t seem to catch a break?Mary J. Blige: a woman that has made it through the storm to find balance – a woman that is comfortable with who you are as a person – a woman that has found love in herself?And gentlemen, which type of woman have you found yourself to be with on average in your life (Keyshia or Mary)? Tips from the Socialite–When in Rome, do what the Romans do. Notice that some of the best entertainers that this business has to offer all aspired to be as phenomenal as the inspiration before them. You can take this lesson and apply it to all forms of life.–Step away from the comparisons, especially in the first conversation. If you just someone met that resembles Omar Epps or Rosario Dawson, that doesn’t mean that you have to tell them. Peter Pan eventually grows up, as should you.

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