SHOCK?: Adele, left, beat Beyoncé to the Grammy for Best Album with her third studio album, 25
WAIT A minute. Beyoncé came second to Adele at every turn in last week’s Grammy Awards stateside.
They were up for the same awards. They were neck and neck. But when push came, Adele shoved the Queen B to the kerb and walked away with the world title of heavyweight singer of the year. And now I hear people talking like WE can never triumph over white folks even when it comes to the blues.
But hold on a minute...Grime king Stormzy moves into his new crib in fashionable Chelsea. And on his first night there the ‘feds’ (his words, not mine) are bussing down the door, like WE can’t live in those endz without the neighbours dialling 999, ‘bout dere’s some breddahs tryna break-in ting round ‘ere.
Before you start shouting ‘foul’ and ‘Black Stars Don’t Matter’, wait one flippin’ minute... For every reaction, there’s gotta be an action. Wasn’t that what Newton said? Isn’t that his first law of physics? Or summat like that (I was snoring in that lesson). And if you sick, you shall fine – eventually. Well I seeked (sic)... Guess what I found?
Beyonce’s new album, Lemonade. Well, that explains everything then, don’t it? Have you heard it, with the volume turned up to disturb your neighbours – give ‘em the full watts tonight? Yeah, Lemonade is a sublime masterpiece of lovers rock, I don’t deny it.
Lyrically it’s on point. Musically it’s slamming. And it captures the mood like a good trap would capture that fox at the bottom of your garden and its entire litter. But this foxy lady’s album is unnecessarily littered with foul language. You can’t play some of those songs on the radio. You certainly cannot play them for your grandma. And, let’s face it, some of the Grammy judges are as old as the hills. I bet when they heard Beyoncé singing ‘Hold On (They Don’t Love You Like I Love You)’ they almost choked on the Benzedrine in Mrs Murphy’s Ovaltine.
The Adele album, on the other hand, is sweet. It’s angelic. There is not a foul word in it. Indeed, Adele saves her potty talk for live performances, not least the Grammy show in which she uttered language that displayed a certain lack of class or flagrant disrespect of the younger and older more sensitive ears that had invited her into their living rooms via radio or television.
However, none of that is on the album. So, I ask you, which one of those two albums would you buy for your 10-year-old? As much as we have to protect our children from inappropriate content on the internet, do we not have to protect them from inappropriate language in the music they listen to? More often than not it means we have to ban them from listen- ing to OUR music. Sadly.
But having to scrutinise and censor their easy listening is long, man. And it is too demoralising. Us parents have got our hands full trying to bring up our black sons and daughters to have to listen to all the music that they download to make sure that the English is all kosher and, if not kosher, then at least Hebrew.
The joke is there is no need for that gutter talk on Beyoncé’s record. And that’s no joke. Trust me.
There I was, sitting in the groove and digging her singing and her songs and for no apparent reason she feels she has to cuss Bad Wud. Bad Wud (spelt ‘Bedward’), the flying priest, who told his congregation that he was going to jump off skyscraper and fly. Remember that? He went to the top of the skyscraper and he jumped... and GUESS WHAT HAPP’N?
I’m telling you, B, if you didn’t use the ‘F’ word so liberally on Lemonade, you would have won the Grammy, instead of falling flat on your face like Bad Wud... and if you didn’t, we would have had a legitimate cause to cry ‘foul’.
All we can realistically say now is, “Bwoy, Beyoncé shoulda get de Grammy, ya know. Me wonder if it’s some kinda occidental philosophy wha’ mek she never get it...” And the answer is, “No!” It’s the language on your record.
You see, Beyoncé made that record for us. For WE. For her bruddas and sistas. True you nuh know. And when you’re conversating with your bruddas and sistas you don’t need to temper your language. We speak true. We tell it like it is. We don’t watch face. But we also don’t have the numbers or the finances to outsell Adele.
The undisputed queen of the jukebox. Her records sell gazillions because they’re aimed at us and them and at those Grammy judges. She don’t watch face. And she’s going to manners her natural disposition to cuss one and two bad words on record and keep them to herself and her private or live public moments. Not for recording consumption.
Of course I can see the ramifications of what I am saying. I am saying that we are a community that are not averse to hearing the rough way with words and that’s who we are. If we change things and stop calling ourselves the ‘N’ word and exercising our King Oedipal rights to accuse each other of conjugating with our mothers, that we wouldn’t be WE.
And if we are not WE we are losing something fundamental about ourselves and, like the footballer Paul Canoville, who was the first black footballer to play for Chelsea, told me a while back, when he got brutally hacked down and broke his leg badly, his career was effectively over, because even when he recovered he had lost that half a yard pace that was his game as a winger. That’s all it takes – a slight loss of your naturality (as the Gladiators would say) is all it takes for you not to be yourself – with or without a Snickers bar.
It’s a high price to pay. If we pay it, we may not be able to write, sing and produce the great music and other great works of art that we produce. And if we do pay the price, we may end up just like Adele, except the REAL Adele will always be better than any imposters.
Which is why I’m worried about Stormzy moving up- town. Don’t get me wrong, I love that my man used his millions wisely and bought himself a crib the moment he started making pea and blowing up like nitro, but on the other hand he’s gonna have to start behaving like the neighbours who called the feds on him if he wants to cotch there for some time. You feel me, fam?
And all I’m saying is, IT NUH GOOD TO STAY IN A WHITE MAN’S HOOD TOO LONG.