Rihanna was once the world's preeminent pop star. And yes, I use past tense. Despite having her hit "Work" firmly ensconced at number one for the past two months, a stat that ties her with the Beatles as second only to Mariah Carey for most weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Rihanna has recently transcended pop stardom.
In the 80s and 90s, Madonna established herself as an unapologetically strong, female role model. She pushed the boundaries of sexuality and femininity to become the ultimate sex symbol and global superstar. Now, she's expected to revoke all that, because society can't handle it when women age. We like our older women invisible and devoid of sexuality.
Reggae pioneer bass player and singer Leroy Sibbles knows what it means to take that boomerang ride. Born and raised in Jamaica, he moved to Toronto in 1973, married and became a citizen. That was then, now he is back living in Jamaica and visits The Big Smoke whenever he can.
The biggest problem is that we haven't had enough high profile women talking about this because they were afraid of rocking the boat. Hell- even today black models are afraid to talk about the blatant racial discrimination that goes on in the fashion industry because they won't be hired for jobs.
Posting a picture of Jaz Z bending over fully naked is the only way he could possibly be more exposed in this album. We learn of his weaknesses, pitfalls and insecurities. She alludes to his fear of love, his feeling of being undeserving of a woman like him.
With "Lemonade"... Beyonce did what all true artists do -- she mined her life for her art, exposing her deepest secrets in service of her creativity, while also using her music to say, "This is my life! I dare you to judge!"
Where are our friends and fans of black music and black people when the partying stops and the subject turns to the reality of being black? When I attend concerts for some of these artists, non-blacks are the ones front and centre, filling more than half of the seats. Switch to a Black Lives Matter march... these folks are nowhere to be found
There has been a lot of praise across social media for Prince since the news of his death. Even as I write this, I can't quite come to terms with that phrase. As he would say, "something in the water does not compute."
Today I'm making a pledge to myself and my fellow global citizen. I will try to educate myself before I express myself. I will try to learn before I teach. I will try to listen before I shout. I will do my best to help find solutions. When I disagree, I will do so with respect and grace. I will try to be a better man. I will rise up. Will you?
This is a model that Toronto's exports have seemed to follow for years -- when one artist breaks, so do the communities that have birthed them. While not entirely unique to Toronto, it's certainly a trend that has planted roots there and helped grow Canada's music scene immensely, one [Broken Social] scene at a time.
No one can say for certain how many concert works by Canadian composers have been heard at the White House. We do know the University of Toronto's Matthew Emery was surprised in December to learn -- after the fact -- that he had written one of them.
When one thinks of Jamaica, two things immediately come to mind and it's not Bob Marley and Usain Bolt this time around. Rather, it's dancehall music and homophobia -- two things which are one and the same.
So it was quite shocking when Jamaicans and residents from other Caribbean islands learned that the son of Mr. Ninja Man, a popular dancehall artist, was gay.
They were using their talents and resources to pursue their passions. We often celebrate young people (think Bill Gates for instance) for doing this in other businesses and personal pursuits, but it takes on a very different tone when young black men from stigmatized areas take an unconventional path and invest their energies into it.
In an age where the majority of pop artists are scared to have an opinion, scared to look foolish, scared to act in a way that will draw attention to themselves, or away from their music, Susan Boyle feels like a beacon of authenticity.
One of the contenders in this category is Hamilton, Ontario's own band The City Harmonic. The band is composed of four worshipers from four small churches who began by singing hymns and spiritual songs. Since then, The City Harmonic is no stranger to success, having won its first Juno in 2013.
From the moment Beyoncé walked off the Super Bowl stage, halftime show sticking out of her back pocket after broadcasting black power imagery and black pride lyrics to an audience of 112 million people, the backlash began. From boycotts to criticism from senators and pundits alike, the goal here is to intimidate the pop star into silence because she holds power. But here's the thing; celebrity activists matter. Being an artist does not mean that you cannot speak out about injustice, but critics push that agenda because having a following for your art does mean that people might actually listen when you do.