Music

tank and the bangas

Tank and The Bangas Introduced Me to the Taste of Love

If I were to be asked what love looks like I might possibly attest to seeing it in an embrace, an exchange of banter and laughter, the joy of a couple learning they’re pregnant after living for years with infertility, or a strong but gentle hand placed on the small of a woman’s back.  I have witnessed love.  But before listening to New Orleans’ artists Tank and The Bangas I had never tasted love.  To taste love I  had to first hear it.  Listen to it carefully. Repeat.

It was the whispers of small nothings in my ear, the percussions and the melodies that travel to my prefrontal cortex to retire, indefinitely, to my long-term memory each time I hear a song that bookmarks the milestones in my life.  It’s the melodies and the memories that guide me to the exact place I stood in the gymnasium at a high school dance when I heard Tyrese’s “Sweet Lady,” or the smile on my face as I laid beneath a dozen glow-in-the-dark stars when  Selena’s “Dreaming of You” was dedicated to me on the radio.  Or the tears I cried listening to Lauryn Hill’s “I Gotta Find Peace of Mind” while silently talking myself into moving on in the face of defeat.  That’s been my experience with love.

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Love tastes bitter. It tastes juicy and lush.  Sometimes so spicy that it makes my eyes water uncontrollably. And so sweet that it dissolves on my tongue like cotton candy; but famine isn’t relieved by cotton candy. Love is as unpredictable as the sampling of strangers’ macaroni and cheese or potato salad at a friend’s fish fry. Love’s aftertaste is a reminder to be more thoughtful in your selections or to never try it again, lest the chef adds just the right seasoning, the perfect wine pairing, and the declaration of “satisfaction guaranteed.”

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But I am charmed by what I hear—the sweet nothings, the melodies turned memories, turned nostalgia, turned escapism, turned false reality. What I hear is what I eternalize and house in the safeguards of my memory, beside foregone days and nights when Love ate with me over breakfast in bed and dinner and drinks when the going was easy and the food suited my palate. Even when I’m alone I set a table for two so that love can pull up a chair should hunger strike at any time between the blessing of the meal and the last dish is set out to dry.  I dine on oysters and sip lemon drops in honor of Love. But love isn’t sustained on a memory, in the same way that cotton candy doesn’t cure a grumbling stomach or an insatiable appetite. Damn if cotton candy and memories don’t taste good though.

Love can taste like edibles you devour when you’re so hungry that even your least favorite food tastes delicious. Desperately longing to give and receive love is like grocery shopping on an empty stomach: every aisle offers one seemingly delectable treat after another.  Even the eggplant you’ve never quite learned to prepare appears to be a good purchase.  You think a new eggplant dish has the potential to be the star of Sunday’s dinner. You scan your Pinterest recipe mentally confirming that you have all of the necessary ingredients to make a wonderful  eggplant parmesan only to realize on Sunday morning that you forgot to add to your grocery cart the virgin olive oil. You substitute the olive oil for margarine. It doesn’t taste the same. One missing ingredient can make all the difference between  disgusting, tolerable, and great. 

Love tastes like that.  

And it sounds to me like: …the butterflies and the fireflies fighting in my stomach. I’m scared to fly. I might come down. I think I’m ready now. I’m getting back in line.”

Thank you to Tank and The Bangas for their amazing artistry.  It was their art that served as the inspiration for this post and as a reminder that sound and sight are gateways to taste. ~Andrea

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A Woman Is A Man’s Best Accessory?

Can men survive, or thrive, without women? Methinks not.

Years ago I decided to boycott music videos not only because I was hard pressed to see a lead woman of my complexion, but also because I was desperate to avoid video images assaulting senses other than my vision. Watching horrible, degrading music videos totally impacted how I heard the song.

It is no secret that the heavily male dominated rap culture cannot survive without women. The culture of this new era rap genre is dependent on the female body to create music videos and alleged tales of sexual exploits and conquests in their lyrics. Women are the consumers of rap music, the muse, and the abused of the misogynistic customs adopted by rap culture, even if only for public display and consumption.

What has now become evident to me is that men in general can’t seem to survive without women. I reached this conclusion a few times in my life, but most notably on a recent trip to Miami when my girlfriends and I were offered seats in the club’s VIP section paid for by a group of men who seemed to be “collecting” a female entourage to sit pretty on the sectional while tapping our pointy toe stilettos and sipping on whatever was being offered.

Had I not been so bored that I began creating a mental list of the many reasons why I am no longer about that “club life,” I would not have noticed how the ladies drafted to the VIP section served as ornaments on a Christmas tree. The particular brand of men who use women as accessories serve as the metaphorical Christmas trees:  dry, overbearing, with a definite shelf life, and ever welcomed in the home past a certain time.

Sitting in the club I began to feel a little disgusted at the thought that we, not just my friends and I, but women everywhere are so commonly used as accessories. Without us many men are incomplete, and not a fairytale love kind of way.  They are fully dressed but without shoes, a watch and tie. Needing women to make oneself look and feel better is seemingly an issue of low self-esteem and envisages the lame and destructive “pimps up, hoes down” concept. 

Should we be flattered? I’ll admit that being arm candy and being “shown off” isn’t so bad when that man who is showing off the beautiful woman in his life recognizes and treats her as if she is more than just a cardboard cutout offering of an image fulfilled. But being used as a shiny ornament or for the benefit of a nice ass shot in the latest tip drill-esque music video negates whatever sense of flattery that may have been intended and felt. 

That night in the Miami club VIP I realized that 1) the drinks are pretty watered down when being shared among an entire harem in a Miami nightclub, and 2) men truly cannot survive or thrive without women.

via GIPHY

“This is a man’s world. But it would be nothing without a woman or a girl.” ~James Brown

 

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