Grammy’s 2016 fashion steals the show


Taylor White | Staff Writer

Once a year musical artists come together to showcase their talents and receive awards at the Grammy’s. Fans wait with anticipation to find out who will be awarded for their hard work and musical genius throughout the night. In addition to the music, audiences also look forward to seeing what fashion celebrities will wear on the red carpet.

The fashion at this year’s red carpet showcased a variety styles designed specifically for each celebrity. Grammy nominated artist Kehlani looked stunning in her glamorous red, tie-neck long sleeve, floor length gown designed by Carlos Obando.

A few of the most outstanding looks came from Lady Gaga, Ciara and Janelle Monet. Lady Gaga strolled through the red carpet in a long royal blue red dress by Marc Jacobs. The dress had a high slit that revealed Gaga’s left thigh and was accented by red platform heels.

Lady Gaga never ceases to amaze others with her unique outfit choices. During her performance, her style paid tribute to the late icon David Bowie. Gaga often cites Bowie as an inspiration to her and her music.

Janelle Monae rocked an equally unusual, yet fierce, Grammy look. Monae incorporated her usual black and white color palette into an eye-catching red carpet ensemble, designed by Emm Kuo. Monae wore a black and white ensemble, with white long sleeved shirt embroidered with intricate black designs on her chest. The bottom half of her outfit includes a textured circle black skirt. Monae accessorized the outfit with a matching black and white hat, also designed Emm Kuo. Monae’s out-of-this-world look was accented with goddess braids and a pink lipstick.

R&B singer Ciara sported a sexy dress, designed by Alexandre Vauthier.  Never afraid to bare it all, the singer daunted a black haltered-neck wrap dress with sequins on the left side.  Sophomore, Arielle Wallace from Detroit, said “Ciara wore one of my favorite looks [for the night]. My favorite part about the dress was the high split because it shows off her legs, and that her hair was simple because it let the dress be the main focus.”

Although Beyoncé did not grace the red carpet, the gown she wore to present the award for Record of the Year was jaw dropping.  The white, lace dress was by designer Inbal Dror. It was a Victorian wedding dress-inspired gown that included sheer panels.

Some were not impressed with Beyoncé’s dress of choice, believing it look too much like a wedding dress.  Jennifer Lowe, sophomore, broadcast journalism major from California, said, “I expected more from her and her dress did not really meet up to my Beyoncé fashion standards.”

Although many fan-favorites were not able to pull wins from the Grammy’s, they went home with the gold for their fashion sense.


30 years later, and Janet is still in Control


Zari Watts | Staff Writer

Janet Jackson’s hit single “No Sleep” with rapper J. Cole on her 2015 album “Unbreakable” is a smooth, sultry R&B track that seems to exist exclusively in a breezy, candlelit 2 a.m. She’s mastered that specific sound with experience from her long and experimental career, but Jackson started out with a strikingly different approach. Janet Jackson’s “Control” was her breakthrough project, and even 30 years later, it is a phenomenal album that withstands the changes of time.

Her musical style has always shifted appropriately with time and what sound is most prominent. But at the age of 19, the peak of her need for independence, she released the album truest to herself. Jackson had recently annulled a brief marriage, moved out from her family home, and was absolutely brimming with a need to express her desires and beliefs. The product was her 1986 album, “Control.” It was her third album, but the first to break records. “Control” was in the top five of Billboard Hot 100 and even nominated for the Album of the Year Grammy.

In an old interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Jam and Lewis shared a glimpse into their creative process with Janet saying, “We knew that Janet had a lot of attitude and a lot of feistiness just from watching her as a kid on the different TV stuff she did. Let’s create music that has that kind of attitude and let her run with it.”

They also spoke to the novelty of Janet’s style as a black woman in the pop world saying, “The only way to get on pop radio if you were a black artist was basically to put a ballad out. Now all of a sudden you have this aggressive, hard-hitting female singing. It changed the way radio sounded. We’d walk through neighborhood and hear Janet just blasting out of people’s houses.”

Janet captured the attention of the masses with her clear subject matter, impressive vocal range in terms of both pitch and style, and quintessential 80’s beats. In the first song, “Control,” she starts off the album with a clear purpose for her album, and even more, for her musical career. She emerges with a firm yet tranquil tone announcing, “This is a story about control. My control. Control of what I say. Control of what I do. And this time I’m gonna do it my way. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Are we ready? I am. Cause it’s all about control. And I’ve got lots of it.” She created a 1980’s pinnacle of young black female independence.

Her stylistic vocal range can be heard from her sexy, breathy falsettoes in “The Pleasure Principle,” to the clean-cut harmonies of “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” that can then slide down into deep, measured tones emanating from the back of her throat heard in “Nasty.”

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced seven upbeat tracks heavily founded in 80’s pop/dance beats, ridden with elements of R&B, soul, rock and jazz. These beats carry the album through the stern energy of “Nasty,” to the upbeat, carefree sounds of “He Doesn’t Know I’m Alive.” They then shifted the tone for the end of the album with a ballad-like “Let’s Wait Awhile,” and the R&B track accented with guitar riffs “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun).”

Janet also employed little details within the album that showcased her youthful creativity like the endearingly over-scripted dialogue at the beginning of “What Have You Done for Me Lately,” the genuine laughter towards the end of “When I Think of You,” and the French lyrics in “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun).”

It’s clear that even 30 years later, Jackson’s “Control” still stands high.

“The Life of Pablo” in all its confusion


Sena Adjei | Staff Writer

After months of desperate anticipation, Kanye West’s newest studio LP has finally arrived, with its newest and final title in tow. To put it bluntly, “The Life of Pablo” is every bit as polarizing, propulsive, and magnificent a piece of music as his fans had hoped; but not consistently in the ways they had most hoped for.

“Pablo” is a cornucopia of Kanye West in all of his past iterations, as well as a few that listeners have not been exposed to yet. Running at 58 minutes, the album often feels like a schizophrenic episode, stacking themes and impressions one after another and veering between these ideas seemingly at random. Whether it be his fierce commitment to his family or his experiences grappling with depression, the record touches on each of these images so briefly and so opaquely from track to track that the listener isn’t given a chance to digest them before they’re flash-bulbed to the next.

On tracks such as “Ultra Light Beam,” West’s signature brand of grandiosity and maximalist style is wholly embraced, with a choral overture being fervently driven forward by the swells of beautifully layered organ distortion. West’s singing as well as a rapped verse by Chance The Rapper both contrast the track’s musical backdrop in a way that feels distinctive without being detractive. Moments like these exist in the following tracks but aren’t quite as complicit in their tone or lyrical substance. This can be seen in songs like “Father Stretch My Hands Pt.1,” as well as “Highlights” — the production is similarly invigorating and warm, but is quickly eclipsed by West’s very much tongue-in-cheek verses about “bleached a**holes,” and his wealth as compared to his wife’s previous partners. Though these lyrics usually land correctly and offer a welcome moment of comedic relief, too often they feel inappropriate or intrusive, and leave the record and listener feeling oddly vexed.

One of the redeeming qualities of the project though, is its Avengers-esque lineup of collaborators, and the ways in which they’re utilized throughout. The list includes artists such as The-Dream, André 3000, Young Thug, Ty Dolla $ign, The Weeknd, and the infamous non-entity Frank Ocean to name a few; though each of their presences is palpably felt in their appearances, none of them overly dominate their respective tracks.

West even manages to coax out a reasonably praiseworthy performance from Chris Brown, who, in his feature on the bombastic and auto-tune laden “Waves” is without a doubt an old dog doing the same timeworn, foreseeable trick, but doing it with newfound zeal. Frank Ocean and The Weeknd’s appearances on the tracks “Wolves” and “FML” also add a great deal to the texture of the album. These tracks are two of the only definitively low points of the record sonically. The dissonance in both West and Caroline Shaw’s vocal performances on the track, coupled with the surprise emergence of a low-fi mini-ballad by Ocean work together to create an impact that strangely enough feels increasingly intimate with every additional listen.

The previously released singles “No More Parties In L.A.” as well as “Real Friends” remain just as fun and reminiscent of Late-Registration-era Kanye, but this sort of intensity and hunger is all but absent in West’s lyrical performance virtually everywhere else on the LP. Many were anticipating this record being in the same vein as these two singles as far as their sound, and West finally addresses the whining, nostalgic fans who have begrudgingly decried each of his releases after “Graduation.” He does so by appropriating their universal rallying call of, “I miss the old Kanye” and reformatting it into an admittedly hilarious and self-mocking forty-four second interlude.

The re-hashing and blending of so many musical and conceptual elements gives “Pablo” thrill, but the lack of any recognizable continuity and purpose throughout the project ultimately holds it back. Kanye West has never been a proponent of perfection, though. Instead, “The Life Of Pablo” is alive.

The blacker the berry, the sweeter the Grammys


Aaron Worley | Arts & Entertainment Editor

The Grammys have been universally recognized as the finest awards to be bestowed upon an artist, producer, or individual in the music industry. Multiple winners of the award, such as Beyoncé and Kanye West have released critically acclaimed albums which equate to commercial success. In turn they have collected wins that range from album of the year to best song in that particular genre.

The award, though, has not been without controversy. Artists that are lauded by critics, but not necessarily by fans, are not given the same recognition as other profitable artists; in this sense, a Grammy is often given to the artist whose work commercially performs greater than other albums released that year, and not necessarily if it was actually the best released during that time. From this standpoint, the Grammy Awards are often seen as more of a popularity contest rather than a realistic observance of an artist’s true talent.

Disregarding all the talk of whether the awards are meaningful or not, Kendrick Lamar was the big winner of the night. Although pop singer Taylor Swift bested him for album of the year (she won with “1989”), Lamar took home the award for best rap album, as well as best rap performance and best rap song for “Alright,” best rap/sung collaboration for “These Walls” and best music video for “Bad Blood.” Lamar is no stranger to the awards, nevertheless, and previously received four nominations for his debut album, “good kid, m.A.A.d. city.”

No wins came from these nominations, and while much of the disappointment was evident from the hip-hop and rap community, it was only an omen to foresee that any future released material from Lamar would earn him an actual win. True to a majority of fans and listener predictions, Lamar’s sophomore effort, “To Pimp a Butterfly” received nominations for album of the year and best rap album.

His speech in response to the latter was meaningful and evidence-providing of his continuous progress and devotedness. Lamar also received a nomination for song of the year for “Alright,” his most-famous and well-received single off of “To Pimp a Butterfly,” but lost to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” This is not to say that Sheeran’s song was not deserving. “Alright” was simply more relevant and touched issues deeper than the platonic love scenario Sheeran chose to paint in the track.

The exclusion of Lamar’s track from the Grammy win explains the favoritism by the general public for songs that do not attempt to relate to issues affecting American society today; though black people are outnumbered by whites in the United States, black issues are very much important. For the issues to be so palpably depicted in a song speaks greater volumes than some people, including Academy voters, may be able to comprehend.

Performances of the night included Taylor Swift, the Weeknd, and Adele, as well as duets by Tori Kelly and James Bay, and Carrie Underwood and Sam Hunt. Also incorporated in the song rotation was a multi-part tribute to Lionel Richie’s album, “Can’t Slow Down,” with contributing performances by John Legend and Demi Lovato.

However, the stage was once again stolen by Lamar, who performed a rendition of “Blacker the Berry.” Throughout his routine and choreography, he illustrated a stunning picture of topics that ranged from police brutality to self-deprecation and denial of worth. His piece earned standing ovations from a vast number of Grammy attendees, with some raising the “Black Power” salute to relay that his message was understood by them and was relatable for the current time period.

By usual Grammy standards, the awards show was filled with moments of surprise and suspense, both beingsupported by the audience regardless. One can only wait for next year’s show after music is released that will either break sales records or enter into “best album of all time” lists by critics.

Barbie finally makes some curvy friends


Maya Wilson | Contributing Writer

Mattel has spent two whole years overhauling the classic Barbie doll to meet realistic body expectations. Recently, Barbie has had poor sales, but Mattel believes that these new modifications can change that.

The Barbie doll has been running with all of the trends and fads since she was first introduced in 1959. With more than 80 careers, from being an astronaut to a teacher, Barbie has been impacting childrens’ lives all across the globe.

Mattel recently released a line of Barbies to embrace tall, curvy, and petite body types, ranging in various skin tones. Originally, the doll was constructed with a famously unrealistic body shape, pin straight hair, blue eyes, slim nose, small lips, and white skin. Mattel received negative attention over the years about the aesthetics of Barbie, and just now decided to make a change… but what took so long?

Cristie was the first black Barbie doll, and premiered in 1968. She was introduced nine years after the original Barbie. During the Black Power movement of the 60s and 70s, blacks took notice in the lack of diversity Barbie offered.

Barbie’s image had to be saved, and her public relations team was pressed to finally make her a black friend. Fast-forward 48 years, slumping sales have led Barbie to finally find friends with different body types.

Studies determined that if Barbie were a real woman, she would be 5’9” and weigh about 120 pounds. The doll was designed to allow children to practice roles they would take on as adults, painting a misleading image about their future body sizes.

In extreme cases, people have attempted to modify themselves to fit the Barbie image. A woman underwent twenty plastic surgeries, dropping $55,000 in an attempt to look just like Barbie. The doll’s image has also been reported to influence young girls to suffer from eating disorders, like anorexia and bulimia.

Barbie has obviously given children the unrealistic idea about the way their body should look. “Growing up, Barbie was the doll that you wanted to have,” freshman Synclaire Giokesson said. “If that’s all children see, that’s what they are going to want to be.”

As of now, parents are finally able to show their children that they can grow into different shapes and heights. Barbie is finally showing children that it is okay to be comfortable in your own skin.

At the end of the day, it is the parents’ job to make careful decisions on what toys they should be purchasing for their children. “Children should be exposed to a variety of different toy concepts at a young age,” junior Ashlyn Jones retorted. “Children should be able to see diversity, even within their toys.”

Quite frankly, dolls have taken a new meaning in this decade, as children are becoming more impressionable from their experiences and actions set upon by family members and friends. It only seems right to apply this transition to the items that they spend a lot of time with, and go to during times when they need comfort or a bond with something.

This new line of Barbies will help children see a better reflection of the world around them, and have a broader perspective on beauty. For more than 55 years, Barbie has been a global icon, and hopefully can continue to be one for years to come.

There is no doubt that this will also create a mass expansion of the variety that Barbies can take on, and hopefully satisfy children and collectors.

“With all of the social justice movements currently going on, I believe this was the perfect change,” freshman Leslie DelasBour said. “Adding diversity to these dolls was indeed, a very important step.”

Michael Jackson’s race switched in comedy


Jordan Parker | Staff Writer

Michael Jackson is set to be portrayed by a white man, Joseph Fiennes, in an up and coming British television comedy special titled, “Elizabeth, Michael, and Marlon.” The special follows the plot of Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson, and Marlon Brando during a road trip they supposedly took after the September 11 attacks.

The proclaimed “King of Pop” was no stranger to the criticism surrounding the color of his skin. The apparent bleaching was a spectacle for much of his adult life. Jackson frequently placed the blame on a skin condition known as vitiligo, which causes the loss of pigmentation on portions of the skin.

Speculation over Jackson’s race and whether or not he actually whitened his skin has never been resolved in the eyes of some spectators and entertainment news outlets. However, time after time Jackson has defended his race as an African American man, and has denied any attempt to turn himself into a white person.

The clearest evidence of Jackson’s devotion to his race is a 1993 interview administered by Oprah Winfrey. In this hour long sit down, Jackson clearly reveals how he feels about a white actor depicting him.

After Winfrey mentioned a rumor accusing Jackson of casting a little white boy to play the younger him in a Pepsi commercial, Jackson quickly debunked the allegations. “That’s the most ridiculous, horrifying story I’ve ever heard… Number one, it’s my face as a child in the commercial,” said Jackson. “Me when I was little. Why would I want a white child to play me? I’m a black American,” Jackson continued on to say, “I’m a black American. I’m proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race. I am proud of who I am. That’s like you wanting an oriental person to play you as a child. Does that make sense?”

Joseph Fiennes, the actor chosen to play Jackson, responded to backlash telling Entertainment Tonight, “He was probably closer to my color than his original color,” referring to Jackson’s struggles with vitiligo rather than the obvious issue at hand, race.

Hampton University senior, Nikolas Alexandria responded to the controversy, “If they are going to do a movie about Mike they need to get someone who at least resembles him… yes [Michael] was pale, but [Fiennes] just isn’t going to work.” Mikal Crosby, a pre-nursing major from Baltimore, also agreed with Alexandria’s statements. She pointed out, “He was obviously black when he was younger, and that’s how he should stay portrayed as.” She also added on, “It’s blatant ridicule when you portray someone in a different race than what they actually were. Casting directors should definitely consider race as one of the most important aspects during casting of a film.” It is easy to note that quite a few African Americans who have listened to Jackson’s music before are very displeased with the announcement.

On the contrary, Stacey Dash applauded the casting of a white male to play Michael Jackson on her blog. She wrote, “This decision throws that white-only card out the window. They can’t look at black actors and say, ‘Sorry this role is Caucasian-only.’ Roles should not be dictated by race.” Dash is defending the decision to not cast characters based upon race. This leaves audiences to undoubtedly question: is race is a factor in accurately portraying a historic figure?

No matter how light Jackson’s skin color is, he is still an African American by heritage. Casting a man with all white features diminishes Jackson’s true identity, as well as the legacy he wished to leave behind as a black man.  It is the duty of biographical filmmakers to not misconstrue the characteristics of the person they are depicting.

The Jackson family has yet to comment on the issue. However, Michael’s wishes clearly prove the film to be dishonorable.

Rihanna’s ‘Anti’ triumphs


Jennifer Lowe | Contributing Writer

For most of 2015, Rihanna fans patiently awaited the arrival of her eighth studio album. The “Rihanna Navy,” as her fans call themselves, anticipated the arrival of her new album, naming it “R8” affectionately. After constant delays and seemingly no solid information, 2016 began with no new music from Rihanna.

To tide fans over until the release of her album, Rihanna released short video clips in collaboration with Samsung that could be watched via mobile device. She called the videos “AntiDiaries,” and as each new video was released, fans were taken into a new room that delved them deeper into the experience Rihanna created.

Help with the promotion for her album was not the only thing Rihanna gained from her partnership with Samsung. The technology powerhouse agreed to sponsor her new album, as well as a world tour beginning February 26.

On January 28, Rihanna debuted her long-awaited album titled, “Anti.” The 13-track album was released exclusively through music streaming service Tidal and features three bonus songs.

The album artwork was created by artist Roy Nachum and features a picture of Rihanna as a child, with a crown over her head, holding a red balloon. Braille is also pictured on the photograph, as a poem written by young American poet, Chloe Mitchell.

Straying away from a typical radio sound, “Anti” embodies Rihanna’s own personality in each song. From start to finish, every track showcases her fun and carefree spirit.

The album starts off with “Consideration” where, with the help of SZA, RiRi reminds us that she does her own thing, her own way, and does not care what anyone thinks about it.

The song’s heavy bass coupled with SZA and Rihanna’s robust vocals makes the song one of the best on the album.

“James Joint,” the shortest song on the album, was named after the co-writer of the song, James Fauntleroy. Rihanna’s voice seems effortlessly carried as she describes a love that she herself cannot comprehend.

Though able to be misunderstood from the first listen, the complication becomes easier to comprehend, and her unorthodox view on love is very boldly represented.

The third song, “Kiss it Better,” pulls inspiration from Prince’s “Purple Rain.” The love song has a very dramatic, rock-inspired vibe that stands apart from the other Rihanna love songs her fans are used to. The backing sounds, intentially retro, soundly blend with Rihanna’s striking voice, and the vivid tone she utilizes.

In collaboration with Drake, Rihanna released “Work” as the lead single for the album. She takes us back to her island roots with a catchy beat that cannot be ignored. It has been six years since their last song together, “Take Care” and once again, the duo did not disappoint.

“Desperado”, completely switches up the vibe of the album. Giving off a Western feel, the song reminds the listener of an old-fashioned shootout between cowboys.

From this comparison, it is certain that this was a sound Rihanna was most certainly going for; her ability to entrap a listener into visualizing a certain scenario from multiple combinations of sounds is most highly projected in this track.

It should be noted also that appropriately, she mentions the word, “runaways” several times, as if she is talking about getting on a horse with her love interest and looking to ride out into the sunset.

“Needed Me” and “Woo” were made with the help of    A-list producers. “Needed Me” was produced by DJ Mustard who has collaborated with the likes of Chris Brown, Trey Songz, and Tinashe. Houston native Travis Scott produced “Woo” and also laid down some vocals on the album.

Obviously stated, the production is one of the most prominent making points of the album.

Some could even argue that it is her best and most diverse yet. Regardless, “Anti” is definitely a dynamic and cleverly crafted project from one of the most notable singers of this generation.

A sample from the Hip Hop conference

Hampton students look at the art on display at the Hip Hop conference. (Joanna Rowell//Hampton Script)
Hampton students look at the art on display at the Hip Hop conference. (Joanna Rowell//Hampton Script)

Brittany Barksdale | Staff Writer

In many cases, people may view hip-hop as simply something to listen to while jamming in the car or hanging out with friends. Nalan Smartt Jr., however believes hip-hop is more than that; it is a way to relate and connect to people.

Smartt , a 2008 Hampton University graduate from Staten Island, New York, is the creative director of the Hip-Hop Conference. When speaking with Smartt, one instantly picks up on his passion for music and how it is able to bring together all different types of people. With speakers and Canon SL1, in hand, he was ready to go and start rehearsing for the second showcase during the Hip-Hop Conference.

Hampton University’s Hip-Hop conference is being put together by the school of the liberal arts department. Last year, Smartt was asked to create a showcase featuring the different elements of hip-hop. The show was so successful that Smartt was asked to come back the following year to put together another spectacular program.

“This year’s theme of the show is centered around imaging and sampling and the effect they have on hip-hop as a whole” Smartt stated. This year’s showcase will go over what exactly sampling is and the effect it has on hip-hop industry, as well as what influences artist today to create their music as well as their image.

The conference not only has an amazing theme that will further explore hip-hop as a culture, but the talent involved in the showcase will be sure to be phenomenal.  In addition to college students, people outside of Hampton University will also be able to present their talents. Smartt explained, “There will be familiar faces, as well as people outside of the university involved in the showcase, sharing all new content for people to enjoy. There will be so much diversity of talent that will make people’s heads explode!”

Hip-hop as a culture has had a major influence, not only on the African-American community, but also the world. “Hip-hop is part of history, not only black history but world history,” stated Smartt.

It is important to know how the past of African Americans has influenced the genre. “We as black people need to do more knowledge and research on what we created, we need to know the foundation of who we are in order for us to reach that next phase of creativity and innovation in hip hop,” said Smartt. He believes it is crucial for African American youth to know their history so that they can create a better future.

“Hip-hop is a reflection of life it is not simple it is complex, in order to move forward we have to pace ourselves,” said Smartt. The Hip-Hop conference will give Hampton University students a better understanding of why the genre has the ability to bring so many types of people together.

Smartt hopes that after the audience watches the show, they leave realizing that everyone is able to connect through music.  He also hopes to expand the audience’s view of what hip-hop really is. The Hip-Hop Conference will take place on February 10 and 11. The showcase portion of this conference, will take place on February 11 at 7 p.m. in the student center ballroom.

Toni Braxton’s Lifetime biopic breaks hearts


Aaron Worley | Arts & Entertainment Editor

When the words “Lifetime biopic” are put together and released to the general public, the reaction is commonly lukewarm. Several biopics of celebrities have felt like trial and error runs, often being wished to disappear faster than when they were first announced. Honorable mentions for these duds include, “Liz and Dick” on Elizabeth Taylor played by “height-of-her-career” Lindsay Lohan and most strikingly, “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B” as a poorly exemplified portrayal of the singer.

Now, we are introduced to Lex Scott-Davis, who plays the role of Toni Braxton in “Toni Braxton: Break My Heart”. While this biopic covers any relevant or misconstrued information about Braxton and her career, the sequence of events feels a bit formulaic. Nevertheless, it serves as a gateway to an introspective and fascinating look within Braxton’s mind, and how she responded to significant events at the start and height of her music career.

We are immediately faced with a degree of foreshadowing as the biopic begins; a tragedy occurs to Braxton and the events in the story all lead up in a sort of typical flashback direction. Although the story fulfills the satisfaction of any viewer wanting to just see how profound and delicate Braxton’s personal problems were, one cannot help but think that it could have been told in a way that offered a glimpse outside of the not-so-tried-and-true Lifetime comfort zone.

Once the plot thickens however, and the bare layer of subtleness is peeled off, the message of staying true to oneself becomes obvious, and is emphasized onward.

“We’re selling pain here” one of Babyface’s assistants played by Gavin Houston reveals, as a standout line from the movie, playing off the duplicity that makes the music industry seem as malevolent as one could imagine. There is nothing but truth here, and this marks a shift in how an artist’s views are separated from the networks that portray them in elaborate fashions.

Braxton said herself that she wanted to oversee the production of the biopic at a level closer than most artists, and the ghostly separation from how the industry is often glamorously represented makes the viewing experience emotionally consoling.

At an even deeper issue, probably one Braxton has tried to come to terms with, the debt she is faced with paints a touching, yet stirring catalyst for understanding her pain and sorrow. She is given several warnings to cut back on spending, and the costs of her lavish lifestyle embody a heavy burden, on top of other hindering events such as her pregnancy and family turmoil.

Often, these events and their counterparts feel casually passed on. They are obviously rushed because of the time constraints competing with the sheer volume of events that needed to be portrayed, but in reality, the story moves along at a rate faster than some people can comprehend.

One scene shows Braxton’s deliberation with a health specialist who suggests her child is developmentally challenged, but the conflict quickly shifts to her personal health setbacks and their slow degradation of her public performances. Simply stated, it is a little hard to follow sometimes.

From a story that very much urges the viewer to connect with the events that are displayed, the characters, besides Scott-Davis, are not allowed as deep of a connection as one would hope. For instance, the younger child Diezel has little screen time, apart from when the viewer is supposed to assume that he is “different” from the other children his age. Sure, the story is focused on Braxton, but would including the process of

Diezel’s advancement past his disorder take away that much from Braxton’s story? At times, it can be wondered: Was this event shown for empathy, or to just let people know that it happened?

As a project for hopeful compassion and understanding, “Break My Heart” succeeds. As a biopic, though, the staleness of its formula may seem too ordinary. Maybe though, in some way, shape or form, that’s alright.