Confessions Of A Former Beyoncé Hater: How ‘Love On Top’ Made Me A Fan

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I’ll admit it: I used to hate Beyoncé. Straight up. For many years, I did not mess with her.

Let me start from the beginning. Growing up, I was a Mariah Carey, TLC, Gwen Stefani,every other girl group-loving little girl. I was even in one, we called ourselves “The Baby Girls.” We’d practice in my living room for hours then perform our favorite song, En Vogue‘sDon’t Let Go (Love). Oh, the 90s.

It wasn’t until Bills,Bills, Bills dropped that Destiny’s Child caught my attention. The song was everywhere and The Writing’s On the Wall album became a classic upon its release.

I remember the first time I saw the Say My Name video, my excitement quickly turned to confusion. “What is that?” I wondered. I recognized Beyoncé & Kelly but where was LeToya & LaTavia? Apparently, LeToya and Latavia were wondering the same thing. I later learned, through MTV News (remember when we got music news from MTV?), they had been replaced.

Then, I saw an interview where Kelly and Beyoncé were asked if they had seen LeToya and LaTavia since the split and before Kelly could answer, Beyoncé interrupted and said, “Don’t even say her name.”

Girl what?

That was it for me. Bey was so shady! See the many clips of her notorious shade on YouTube. That was the year I stopped being a Beyoncé fan. It also didn’t help her case, 2001 was the yearAlicia Keys dropped her debut album and Aaliyah died. There were plenty of other R&B artists to enjoy.

By the time Dangerously In Love was released the summer of 2003, I was disinterested in hearing any Beyonce tunes. Jay Z was my favorite rapper, but at that point, I hated his collaborations with Bey. 03 Bonnie & Clyde was trash and so was Crazy in Love. (I still stand by this).

But Me, Myself & I was the truth and my roommate and I spent plenty of time dancing to the Baby Boy video in our dorm. Don’t get me wrong, a good song is a good song, but I wasn’t feeling Bey as a person.

Fast forward some years.

The boom of social media and rabid fans combined to bring forth the #Beyhive and many careers were ruined in the process. Cough, cough. Keri Hilson. During this time she tried her hand at acting (terribly if we’re being honest) and even covered Alanis Morissette’s classicYou Oughta Know at the 2010 Grammy Awards. Alanis may have been fine with it, but I wasn’t.

But in 2011, something shifted. Beyoncé released 4 and Love on Top . It’s like she released it just for me. I LOVE THAT SONG! My friends looked at me crazy when I started singing Love On Top like the gospel it is. My notorious disdain for Bey had suddenly been overturned. They were confused. Was I really jamming to Love On Top hard? Yes I was!

Giving birth to the adorable Blue Ivy Carter also helped. But it was December 13, 2013, when she shocked the world and released her self-titled album that she earned my respect. The album completely changed the music industry. But more importantly, there was Beyoncé loudly and proudly proclaiming that she was a feminist. She had my vote.

When news of the ‘On The Run tour‘ hit the Internets, I actually stayed home from work just to make sure I got tickets. I wasn’t going to miss that show for the anything. I saw the sold out On The Run Tour in Chicago at Soldier Field stadium. IT WAS LIFE! If you’ve ever seen Beyoncé live, you know home girl puts on a damn good show. I was baptized in Bey-zus holy water that night.

Don’t mistake it, I haven’t reached #BeyHive stan level, but I’ve come a long way. Years ago, you couldn’t even get me to watch a Beyoncé performance. Now I anticipate them. I still critique her moves but I appreciate her contribution to music and I’m obsessed with new photos of Blue Ivy.

I’m just no longer President of the ‘I Hate Beyoncé’ Club and I’m perfectly fine with that.

*Update*

Beyoncé just won the Super Bowl.

Again.

Adina Howard’s ‘Freak Like Me’: A Black Feminist Anthem

This essay is kind of late.

Well 20 years late. Pardon my lateness but I was only 10 years old when this song was released. But even then, I knew this song was revolutionary.

I was at 80s/90s party in Brooklyn over the weekend and one of my favorite jams came on: Adina Howard’s ‘Freak Like Me.’ From the moment the beat dropped, I remembered how instrumental this song was in the 90s.

Released in 1995, My fondest memories of this song are riding in my mom’s red Chevy during Chicago’s notorious heat wave that killed hundreds that summer. I even bought Adina Howard’s debut album ‘Do you wanna ride?’ on tape. Remember those days?!

You can’t say this song didn’t influence today’s Black singers to be more bold and upfront with singing and expressing sexuality. Sure, there’s always been Janet Jackson and Madonna but ‘Freak Like Me‘ was different.  Think Beyonce’s ‘Rocket‘ and Ciara’s ‘Ride‘ before she went celibate.

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She’s was a woman upfront and unafraid of asking for what she wants. ‘Let me lay it on the line, I got a little freakiness inside and you know that the man has got to deal with it.’ Right from the jump, she’s letting you know what she wants and laying out her boundaries.

I don’t care what they say, I’m not about to pay nobody’s way. ‘ She’s not Erykah Badu. Bye Tyrone!

The video was even better. Adina picks up her homegirls in her drop top and they ride out to a party. But before they get there, they deal with street harassment from different cars of men. Watch as Adina pulls off on them at the 1:45 minute mark.

Adina had no problems expressing her desires to her potential partners either. ‘ Boy you’re moving kind of slow, you gotta keep it up now there ya go.’

Listen. I have been apart of too many conversations with women about being dissatisfied during sex. Sadly there are also women afraid of telling their partners that they’re not satisfied. Adina wasn’t one of them.

Freak like me‘ was revolutionary because folks weren’t used to a Black women being so bold and brazen about what she wanted in the bedroom. Adina put her pleasure above anything else and that was a revolutionary act. She encouraged other women to speak up for themselves and it was a hit! The song hit number 1 on the R&B charts and number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Some may not think of ‘Freak Like Me‘ as having a place in feminism. Adina herself may not think so. Hell, I’m pretty certain the ashy Larry contingent would even call it a ‘hoe anthem.’ But it was definitely an important moment for Black sexuality and I salute her. Adina Howard’s ‘T-shirt & panties‘ is also another classic but that’s a whole other essay.

Check out Adina Howard’s new music here.