So I will confess here that this post is a bit of, shall I say, a DETOUR. Before I get into anything that even comes close to a discussion of education, liberation, and black radical traditions, I just gotta be honest about where I am coming from.
Here it is: I love me some Jaheim. I usually think very critically about the images I place on this website but let me tell you that today is just NOT that kind of day. These images are simply photos of Jaheim that I like to look at. A whole other aesthetic principal going on today!
I always have, always will adore Jaheim (please, please don’t let him act a complete, triflin fool like most black male musicians). I’m really not into younger men. I like grownass men, my own age, but not much older (I already have a father and don’t need a replacement). But for Jaheim (8 years younger than me), I make an exception to my rule. Even when he seems to forget that you canNOT be black, a man, drivin way past the speed limit, smokin weed in your car, and NOT draw the heat of the POlice, I forgive him. Young! See why I like them grown? You don’t have to convince a grown black man of these things. Nonetheless, this brotha is just too fine, even post-cornrows. I loved his video with Regina King, who is also too fly, for no other reason than they aesthetically looked so good together in that audiovisual medium.
“Finding My Way Back” is perhaps a good motto for Jaheim right now since he lost his voice after being tased on his neck during his own bout with police brutality after his last album dropped. I am rooting for his comeback.
It should come as no surprise that I bought his new single, Age Ain’t a Factor, and plan to buy the album as soon as it drops. I am very clear here that Jaheim had every intention of getting my attention and any black woman past 35. And it worked. The fact of the matter is that we are the demographic with arguably the most flexible income, more inclination to use that money whenever we get some leisure time, and an undying sense of black solidarity. We are a demographic that few seem to get. I like Jaheim targeting us as a market, if you will, with songs like this rather than with incessant, patriarchal relationship books, an issue I have already discussed here. Maybe, Jaheim can start a new trend and turn the tide on black men’s mainstream, patriarchal discourse that keeps telling us we are unwanted. Here’s how he opens his song after crooning about his woman/baby:
You’re like a wine, you get better with time,
Got your Nia Long on, it’s your song, you’re so fine
From everything that you wear, your kind of beauty is rare
And I swear you get better looking with every year
Got your sexual peak, your full figure physique,
Young girl can’t compete…
And since we’re in the kitchen, girl, let me get that muffin
You look better the older you get, Benjamin Button.
Straight nasty right there! Trust me when I tell you that brothas do not ever offer up any compliment like this to me or most women my age. This one is a rare gem.
I will get a little bit more serious here though. I am not trying to sound like some little 14-year old girl pasting pictures of Jaheim in her locker with some fantasy that he will be my knight in shining armor some day. I don’t do that kind of star-gazing. I have no secret desire to be on stage with or ever be with a celebrity like many academics seem to have (they couch all this in sophisticated language and wanna-be postmodern analysis but if they could die and come back in the likes of Beyonce, Kerri Washington, or any emcee, they would.) I’m good just as I am with no delusions or fantasies.
I also don’t usually discuss men in this way on this site simply because I find it too heteronormative, a heterosexist practice I don’t endorse that makes men the center of women’s attention (they are not). On the other hand, there is nothing radical or sustaining about avoiding discussions of black sexuality either. That kind of avoidance only co-sanctions the fiction of a white Puritan ethos (which has never existed in the first place). So today I confess. Give me a brother who looks/talks/sings like Jaheim, a brother unafraid to look and BE black, a brother who will forego acting like a teenager way past the expiration date on that, and a brother always connected to black working class consciousness/ language/ aesthetics and black women, and well, let me tellll you, we could make some whole new black radical traditions together! This was a detour today, but the desired destination remains the same.