selena-legacy-feature-viva
YouTube

Selena: Her Living Legacy & What It Still Represents Today

Selena gave us visibility and embodied the truth that a Latinx identity is not defined solely by Spanish language acquisition…

This week the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Walk of Fame Selection Committee announced that the late, great Tejano songstress, Selena Quintanilla-Perez, will posthumously receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017. The Quintanilla family announced the news on Selena's Facebook fan page on Tuesday, and thousands of die-hard fans are out-of-their-minds excited.

Quintanilla is not the only Latinx artist that will receive a spot on the Walk of Fame in 2017: actress Eva Longoria, Venezuelan Conductor Gustavo Dudamel, and zombie apocalypse horror film director George Romero will also be recognized with their own stars for their accomplishments in arts and entertainment. While congratulations are in order for everyone who will be receiving a star next year, the response to the news about Selena Quintanilla’s award has been overwhelming and brimming with love. Over 20 years after her death, Selena Quintanilla continues to make headlines, with publications like the Huffington Post and the Los Angeles Times celebrating the news that Selena’s legacy will be immortalized forever in Hollywood.

This year has been especially busy for the Selena legacy and her fans, whose love for the Chicanx superstar has not slowed down in the 21 years since her murder in March of 1995. Many of Selena’s millennial admirers were very young when she was killed (I was three-years old), but our parents, primxs, and communities raised us on her. She was taken from us far too soon; she was only 23 when she passed, and our communities were not ready to let her go.

We grew up watching the biopic about her life, Selena, which gave J. Lo her first major leading role and set the stage for the Boricua’s future superstardom. In fact, it was a young Chicanx Selena fan, Tonantzin Esparza, who encouraged her movie-making father, Moctezuma Esparza, to produce the film about Quintanilla’s life. We were brought up listening to "Como la flor" and perfecting our washing machine. We wanted to dress like her, dance like her, and we were captivated by her smile and adorable sense of humor. Selena has had an incredible impact on hundreds of thousands of people, Latinx or not, and the reasons are numerous.

Selena was a triple threat. She could sing, dance, and design her own costumes. She served LOOKS. Every costume she designed and wore was a memorable signature and her eye for fashion was timeless—just ask Beyoncé. The designs that she created with boots, high waisted form-fitting pants, skirts, and jeweled bustiers combined her Texas roots, Latin cultural markers, and Disco flavor. The silhouettes she rocked on stage continue to influence artists today and you can see major nods to Selena’s steez in the wardrobes of Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and many more. Her fashion, her music, and her flare also made her an icon in LGBTQ communities of color, a phenomenon that Dr. Deborah R. Vargas wrote about in her 2007 paper, “Selena: Sounding a Queer Transnational Latino/a Queer Imaginary". The girl had the range and she could knock out a pop tune or a love ballad with ease, passion, and intense emotion. Selena’s incredible vocal ability and tenacity made her a stand out. But it was her personality, her smile, and the way she embraced her identity and community that had us fall madly in love with her.

She's so cute with her BOY George hat on. #selenadiditfirst #Selena #queen quintanilla #selenaquintanilla #boygeorge

A video posted by Selena Quintanilla (@queenquintanilla) on

Selena was a pocha, a term that is generally used to describe a Mexican who was born in the United States and speaks Spanglish or very little Spanish. Historically used as a derogatory term, younger Latinxs have taken to reclaiming the word and recognizing it as a term of endearment and symbol of Latinx identity in a U.S. context. Selena's Spanish was far from perfect, but she owned her lexicon and her Mexicanidad with pride. A third generation pocha myself, I saw myself in Selena once I was old enough to appreciate who she was. She wasn’t a disappointment, white washed, or “less Mexican” because of her choppy Spanish. How could she be? She was the Tejano Queen! She sang in Spanish and in English. Selena was one of us, a Mexican-American, a pocha, and her rise to international, Grammy Award-winning fame marked our space in American history.

The Tejana’s experiences reflected the realities of many Chicanxs whose parents and grandparents came to the Southwestern United States prior to the 1970s, during times of intense de jure racial segregation. My father, a second generation Mexican-American and former farm worker from Bakersfield, was not raised speaking Spanish in his home because his mother and grandparents knew that a child who spoke Spanish in school or spoke English with an accent was a target for corporal punishment from teachers, or at risk of being placed in lower level educational tracks by racist school administrators.

My father grew up in California in the 1960s where he frequently saw signs in store windows that read, “No dogs or Mexicans allowed." The racism, xenophobia, and linguistic oppression that many of our parents and grandparents faced gave way to generations of Chicanxs who did not grow up speaking Spanish as a tool for survival in a cutthroat capitalist and white supremacist environment. This history of forced language loss and acculturation in immigrant communities has been generally understood and studied in academic circles, but our communities do not always have access to this information and often place much shame on pochxs without understanding our socio-historical context.

Selena gave us visibility and embodied the truth that a Latinx identity is not defined solely by Spanish language acquisition, but is the totality of one’s history, heart, and being. Although Selena and her family came up in Texas, in a racially oppressive society, she was able to hold on to her identity and her cultura in spite of generations of systemic racism. She wasn’t “less Mexican," fragmented, or broken because of her U.S. context. She was whole in spite of it. The culture lived in her, her music, and notably, her aesthetic. She sang cumbias, Disco, Tejano, and she sang in Spanish. She wore bright red lipstick, extensive acrylic nails, gold hoops, and sported long raven hair. She was an iconic femme Chicanx, and she proved that not only was there a place for women in Tejano music, but that a woman could in fact revolutionize the genre on an international level. She was a woman of color whose brilliance made her a force to be reckoned with in a machista musical genre and white supremacist, patriarchal world.

Decades after her death, Selena’s impact continues to have major reach. Her image, life, music, and brilliant personality have inspired young Latinxs and many other people of color to pursue their dreams in the arts. There are even scholars with PhDs who have studied and written about Selena’s cultural impact in peer reviewed journals. MAC recently announced that they will be releasing a line of Selena inspired makeup, including her signature red lipstick, this October. Venues in L.A. and other major U.S. cities boast regular Selena tribute nights, Selena Techno Cumbia parties, and even Selena pizza parties. Drag Queens nationwide have perfected Selena’s look and can emulate her "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom" like no other.

While I love the dedications to Selena and the way that our communities continue to celebrate her music, I am also weary of corporate exploitation of her name in death. We want the chance to remember her, celebrate her, mourn her passing, and honor her music. We want to share her art with our young primxs and future children. Selena’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will serve as a physical memorial to her in Los Angeles and knowing her fan base, I anticipate that her star will be unique. Latinxs have a way of celebrating our dead that is full of love, color, and joy. I imagine that Selena fans will pay tribute to her by visiting her star, leaving her recuerdos, velas y flores.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Tobe Nwigwe wowed the crowd with a live musical performance at the McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden experience at BETX.
BET Expereience

Tobe Nwigwe's Southern Raps At The BET Experience Are Marinaded With Purpose

Thanks to Tobe Nwigwe, Houston’s presence could not be denied at this year’s batch of BET Experience events in Los Angeles. Sporting his signature sock/slippers combo and a mic in his hand, the Nigerian-American storyteller took the stage Friday (June 21) to perform some of his most revolutionary and captivating tracks.

There’s the lyrical strike that is “Ten Toes” and “Against the Grain” made popular from his #GetTwistedSundays series, a keen exploration of Houston. With a new batch of ears and hearts open to his music, the Nigerian-American rapper is at ease with his new purpose.

“I understand my purpose now. I understand that to do what I’m doing now is all of my life,” Nwigwe tells VIBE before taking the stage for McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden event which showcases music’s ability to continue the cultural narratives of the Black experience in America.

Before he was shining on BET Cyphers, performing at the Roots Picnic or delivering projects like Three Originals, Nwigwe had dreams of entering the NFL. Those plans were redirected after a physical injury during his senior year at the University of North Texas. The incident served as a catalyst for the rapper to transform his energy into purposeful rap for his hometown, Houston.

“That’s why I’m due diligent, persistent, and focused on what I’m doing because I understand the call of my life,” he added while speaking about his partnership with McDonald’s platform. “I just really like what the Black and Positively Golden theme is. Being bold, being brilliant, being resilient. I like the black community, I love it. I feel like black people are the most influential people in the world.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

HISTORY WAS MADE AT THE @ROOTSPICNIC 🙏🏿 YASIIN BEY - - 📸: @tynie626

A post shared by Tobe Nwigwe (@tobenwigwe) on Jun 2, 2019 at 8:12am PDT

Houston’s re-emergence into mainstream hip hop culture, from a cultural enclave to an emergent regional capital in Southern rap lineage is evident acts like Megan Thee Stallion and Tobe Nwigwe. Draped in diasporic apparel and perched on a horse in the Texas countryside, Nwigwe is representative of the city’s rich ethnic demographic, and fusion of two Black sub-cultures into one told through the oral traditions of hip hop.

Nwigwe is currently dressed in all black, but it wouldn’t be without purpose. In small but noticeable text, his shirt says, “Mental Health is Crucial.” The fit speaks highly of intentions as an advocate for black youth. Nwigwe’s love for his community extends beyond the reaches of rap into the worlds of non-profit advocacy and mentorship. He’s the co-founder of TeamGINI, “Gini Bu Nkpa Gi?,” an Igbo saying meaning, “What’s Your Purpose?”

“I understand what people where I come from need,” he explains. “I feel that. I understand the void, so I do my best to play a role in being a part of the solution.”

His spiritual beliefs were highlighted in The Rap Map: Meet 5 Talented Artists From Houston featured on DJBooth. An ideology rooted in community-based upliftment drew motivational speaker Eric Thomas to sign Nwigwe for ETA Records, and establish a partnership focused on the implementation of solutions-focused rap for youth in neighborhoods across the United States, impacted by the terrors of community disinvestment, and high rates of violence.

Nwigwe recalled the outpouring of love experienced at one of his recent hometown shows. “I had the biggest crowd ever on my court at home," he proudly boasted in a Houston drawl. "I had over 3,000 people at a show with no openers, none of that. The mayor came out and gave me a dap, so it’s just a lot of love at home. There's like nothing better than being received well in your hometown, where you grew up and got all your influence from. It’s, wherever I go I wear Alief, I wear SWAT, I wear Houston on me like a badge of honor.”

His authenticity is felt throughout his setlist, a musical arrangement with a live band, background vocals from Beaumont-raised LHITNEY, and surprise guest performance from NELL, a frequent collaborator and producer on his music projects.

Nwigwe's purpose for the weekend was complete–he brought Houston to Los Angeles. “Make purpose popular,” Nwigwe’s mantra for his musicality sounds like a tagline from your local conscious rapper, but the intention in how the Houston rapper uses music as a space for community messaging is rooted in genuine Houston hospitality.

Stream Nwigwe’s latest release, “Searching” below.

Continue Reading
Getty Images

Queen Of Hip-Hop Soul And Hits: 15 Of Mary J. Blige's Best Songs

Since bursting onto the scene in 1992 asking us What’s the 411?, Mary J. Blige has kept her foot on our necks and provided the soundtrack for most of our lives. Although she’s faced her fair share of heartaches, heartbreaks, and hardships, Mary never let her personal life or the pressures of the music industry keep her from becoming a master of her craft. Who knew the little girl from Yonkers would go on to be not just music but entertainment royalty? She has secured numerous endorsement deals with M.A.C., Pepsi, Target and more while also conquering both the small and big screen, even being nominated for two Academy Awards for her role in the critically-acclaimed film, Mudbound. After countless nominations over the years for categories like Best R&B Artist and Best song, an unprecedented number of Billboard and Grammy Awards, over 75 million records sold worldwide and so much more, she shows no signs of stopping.

This Sunday (June 23), she will add to her repertoire when she’s honored at the 19th annual BET Awards ceremony with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her exceptional body of work across genres and industries. And the undisputed ESSENCE Festival favorite will also hit New Orleans to commemorate the festival’s 25th anniversary while also celebrating 25 years of her iconic 1994 album, My Life.

To honor the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul and her indelible catalogue of hits, let’s take a look at 15 of our favorite MJB songs through the years.

Continue Reading
VIBE

Black Music Month: 36 Best Black Movie Soundtracks You Should Know

Let's face it, the debate for the best movie soundtrack of all time will never end.

There are too many black soundtracks that are beyond icon status. Some include Diana Ross' epic portrayal of Billie Holiday for Lady Sings The Blues, the carefully curated funk and soul collection for Dead Presidents and Whitney Houston's power vocals all over The Bodyguard soundtrack.

Jamie Foxx didn't seem to realize the debate he sparked on Twitter this week when he raised the question about the best soundtracks of all time. It became a trending topic with fans throwing in their favorites like Prince (Purple Rain and Batman respectively), Whitney Houston (Waiting to Exhale), Babyface (Boomerang), Dr. Dre (Above The Rim) and so many more.

Best movie soundtracks of all time? Go... #BeatShazam

— Jamie Foxx (@iamjamiefoxx) June 18, 2019

There are plenty of other movie soundtracks worth noting, but with June being Black Music Month, it's only right we paid homage to some of the most important and underrated soundtracks of all time.

In no particular order, here are some of our favorites.

Additional contributors include Lola Jacobs, Jessica McKinney, J'na Jefferson, Keith Murphy, Xavier Hamilton, Sierra Brown, Beatriz da Costa, and Richy Rosario. 

Continue Reading

Top Stories