Black celebrity mid-life crises: Tales from the land of irrelevancy featuring Brian McKnight and Lil Kim!
I have to say, the second act of R&B singer Brian McKnight’s career is far more interesting than the first. Because this version involves porn.
My mother once remarked that McKnight was a “handsome man” back in 2000 (trying to force a contrast between the seemingly clean-cut crooner and my Karate thug fiancé at the time — who I would marry and divorce a year later). She could probably be bowled over by that proverbial feather, if she’d heard that the same guy who sang “Back At One” is now extolling the virtues of female orgasms and YouPorn.
My mother is someone who can’t even say the word “porn,” as that is far too filthy for a woman who thinks “lie” is too strong a word. She pronounces it “pro-no” to take some of the funk out of it.
But McKnight put all the funk back in it with his X-rated lyrics.
Take for instance the words to McKnight’s original freaky-deaky comeback track “iFUrReadytoLearn” (available to sexually assault your ears on iTunes), which would have caused Prince to blush back in his “Dirty Mind” days. “Has McKnight ever heard of euphemisms? They’re your friends,” the 1980s version of Prince would say.
(For the sake of those reading at work I’ve replaced all problematic words with references to super soaker water guns.)
Let me show you how your water gun works,
Since you didn’t bring it to me first
I have lots of things to show you if you’re ready to learn.
Let me show you how your Super Soaker works,
bet you didn’t know that it could squirt.
I have lots of things to show you if you’re ready to learn
To paraphrase the words of a popular St. Louis radio hosts: Claude McKnight, Brian’s older brother and founder of the gospel group Take 6, needs to “take 7” and come get him.
The X-rated songs and subsequent “Twitter beefs” with current pop/R&B hit-maker Chris Brown all are hallmarks of a very familiar situation for entertainers, authors, athletes or anyone really who was once at the top of the game, took a sabbatical and thought they could come back at any time and regain their center stage status. Even though there is a reason and a season for all things, almost no one thinks their once red hot career is going to turn stone cold.
Some take the decline with an earnest “OK” – they have saved their money, they pursue new interests, they mentor those on the come-up, they write a book that may or may not suck, they become living icons/cultural historians, they do one last gig on “Dancing With the Stars,” then slide into that “in memoriam” clip reel of life. Others, though, rail against the dying limelight.
And all that railing can get absurd.
Take the real life Real Doll named Lil’ Kim who recently pulled reality brawler Drita D’Avanzo from Vh-1’s Mob Wives on stage with her at a rap concert. I’m surprised she didn’t sink her teeth into the suddenly popular Albanian-American “ride or die” chick and drain her of her celebrity essence because Kim wants her spot back – by any means necessary.
She’s also taking shots at current hip-hop pop darling Nicki Minaj, and for some reason Minaj insists on regularly beating this dead horse (possibly out of her own fears/insecurities about irrelevancy), making the fight look amazingly uneven and petty. Before she backed out of performing at Summer Jam, Minaj had planned to stage a funeral for Lil Kim.