Panel - Beyonce's "Lemonade" & Activism in the Arts

April 27, 2016 - Chris Jackson 04/27/2016 Views: 973

Chris Jackson, Ricky Velez and Franchesca Ramsey discuss the controversy surrounding Beyonce's politically charged visual album "Lemonade." (6:56)

All right, welcome back.I'm here with my panel.

First up-- Nightly Show contributor Ricky Velez.

(applause and cheering)

And Nightly Show contributorFranchesca Ramsey.

(applause and cheering)

And he plays George Washington

in the Broadway smash hit Hamilton--

Emmyand Grammy award-winning actor,

musician and composer,Chris Jackson.

(applause and cheering)

And for everyone at home, joinour conversation right now

on Twitter @NightlyShowusing the hashtag #Tonightly.

So, I want to talk aboutwhat you just talked about.

The whole controversy

surrounding Beyoncé's album Lemonade.

Some people are criticizing her

for getting all politicaland real,

saying she shouldleave that alone

and just stick to playing music.

While others are praising herfor making a stand.

So, why are people so upsetthat Beyoncé

is evolving as an artist?

Because it is 2016, andpeople love to bitch, Larry.

-Like, that's what it is.-(laughter)

If your biggest problemin 2016 is Beyoncé...

-WILMORE: Uh-huh.-...kill yourself.

(laughter, applauseand cheering)

-End it?-Yes.

-Oh. Oh.-Oh, no!

-Is that what it is? Do that?-It's that simple.

RAMSEY:Listen, I think the big thing is

that a lot of people felt likeBeyoncé was a safe black person.

-WILMORE: Uh-huh. Safe. -She'sgot light skin and blonde hair.

And they're like,"Oh, she's not gonna...

She's not got a 'fro, she's notgonna talk about black issues."

And then they got shookbecause they had to remember

-that she's actually black.-(applause and cheering)

-Right. -And that she can talkabout black (bleep).

Right. I like, uh...

It's like people think

there's some blackexpiration thing happening

where, like, it suddenlywakes up a black alarm clock

that goes offor something, right? Bing!

-All right. Well, (bleep),I'm gonna get black. -(laughter)

Do you think peopleare making too much of this?

I mean, what is your takeon this, Chris?

My take is that as long as youcall yourself an artist...

-WILMORE: Uh-huh. -...and aslong as you put things out

-in the world to be artisticand to say something... -Yeah. better follow the passion

and follow the inspirationthat you have.


-Otherwise, you're not anartist. -RAMSEY: Yes.

-WILMORE: Right. Right.-VELEZ: I agree with that.

-Absolutely. -Oh, yeah.-(applause and cheering)

It's funny, 'cause people...people both want their artists

to evolve, then, they demand

that they stand stillat the same time.

What's so controversialabout her album anyway?

What is the thingthat people are finding?

-I-I... It blows my mind...-Yeah.

...that the controversy is

about her supportingBlack Lives Matter...

-WILMORE: Right. -...andstanding up for the mothers

-who've lost people to policeviolence. -WILMORE: Right.

I am more upset about the factthat Jay Z cheated on Beyoncé.

-(laughter)-WILMORE: Yeah.

I don't under... Like, that'swhere my mind is. Like, wait.

-That's... -Uh-huh. -I don'tunderstand. This makes no sense.

That's my problemwith the album.

-(laughter)-Is it? The whole Jay Z thing?

Every time Beyoncé comes outwith a song about him cheating,

my girl walks aroundthe apartment like I did it.

It's (bleep) bull (bleep).

-(laughter, applause & cheering)-RAMSEY: It's true, though.

She's like, "I know. I knowwhat you are doing, Ricky."

-Yeah.-"I know. Jay's the same way."

-It's true.-Yeah.

I'm in a very happy... I'm ina very happy relationship.

-WILMORE: Sure. -And that albummade me almost break up

-with my husband.-WILMORE: It's unnerving, right.

I was like,"I don't need you in my life!"

-Right. -(laughter) -He waslike, "I didn't do anything."

I was like... it just...

WILMORE:She got out a baseball bat.

She said, uh... she talked aboutwearing another woman's skin.

That's like a Silence of the Lamb type of thing.

-(laughter)-VELEZ: But at the same time,

-you're datingan ex-drug dealer. -Right.

You don't want drug dealer(bleep) to happen,

don't marry one. I'm sorry.


I like when people sayshe transcends race.

-Well, what does that mean,you know? -RAMSEY: Wah-wah.

-I never understood that.-I think that's another thing

that white people sayto make people...

other white people comfortable.

WILMORE: Yeah.'Cause how can you trans...?

-I don't mind saying it.My mama's white. -Yeah.

-I'm just saying.-Right. But, uh...

Since-since when... sincewhen do we have to transcend

-anything other than being blackand having to deal -Yeah.

with the kinds of thingsthat only black people

-have to deal with?-Oh, 'cause you never would tell

a white person,"Man, you transcend race."

-Nope, you don't.-(laughter)

-Wha...?-VELEZ: Eminem.

-WILMORE: He transcends race?-Eminem transcended...

-and it... I mean, come on...-WILMORE: I think Eminem

was poachin' race,not transcending race.

-(laughter)-You ever see a white kid

-with a do-rag on, Larry?-Thank you. Poachin'.

-Yeah, I hate the whole-VELEZ: Transcending.

"transcend race"conversation, too,

-Mm-hmm.-because at the end of the day,

-race is not the problem,racism is. -Mm-hmm.

And Beyoncé is still black,no matter whether

you feel comfortableseeing her as black or not.

And as soon as you sayyou have to transcend,

it means you're not seeing mefor who I am,

-because I'm black all the time.-Absolutely. Absolutely.

-(applause, cheering)-But I... I don't...

I don't... I-I think...

I think there was a conversationwhen Eminem came out,

but I don't thinkhe transcends anything.

I think he'sone of the illest rappers

in the history of the game,and I think that's why

-we love and appreciate himas much as we do. -Right.

I think that he didn't shy awayfrom the fact that he was white,

and everyone sort of, you know,paid attention to that at first,

but clearly, that brotherhas got game, and...

VELEZ: No, I agree he has game,but I think he also had to adapt

to... to...not being a white guy.

RAMSEY: But I thinkpart of his appeal was, like,

wow, this white dude can rap!

But even... but even so, he'sowned everything that he is.

Like, he's, like... I'm...Forget that I'm white.

I'm broke. I'm poor.

-(laughter)-You know what I mean?

I have it...I have it just as bad

as anyone elsewho is broke and poor,

and-- very much like our show--

I've written my wayout of my circumstance.

-WILMORE: Right.-I've figured out what I do,

-and I'm going to capitalize onthat no matter what. -(cheering)

And I... and-and morethan anything else, like,

if we... Can we stopreducing artists to just this

-or just that?-Yeah.

Well, that's whatBeyoncé said herself,

you know, that she wanted to beregarded as more than that.

And it's not that even she wantsto be regarded as...

as something--she's just making a statement,

you know, in what she's doing.

And some people--uh, let me ask you a question.

Do you thinkBeyoncé's big enough

that she can actuallychange people's minds?

'Cause she's, like,she's on a level that is rare,

-where she is right now in termsof popularity. -Absolutely.

I think people love celebrities.

Look, we have a reality TV starrunning for president!

-WILMORE: Right.-People love celebrities.

-Yeah.-And so if Beyoncé says...

takes a stand on somethingand people are inspired by it,

I would rather have a celebrity

who's advocatingfor Black Lives Matter

rather than (bleep)on Mexicans and Muslims,

telling people that, you know,

that's what they should becaring about.

-(cheering, applause)-WILMORE: Right.

-Absolutely. -WILMORE:Do you think there's a risk

when an artist takes a...controversial stand?

-Hopefully.-Oh, yeah, yeah. Right, exactly.



I think... I think great art

is supposed to costthe artist something.

-Yeah.-It's coming from the artist.

You can't get that back.

-Mm-hmm. -It's gonnatake something from you,

but hopefully, the conversation,the dialogue, the change in...

-Yeah. -what is happeningwill fill you back up.

Or you take a break,you read a book,

you go sit in a quiet meadowsomewhere and you figure out

what the next statement thatyou want to make is, you know.

But it's our job as artists--it's a responsibility

to say somethingthat is gonna effect change,

at least start a conversation.

And if we can get pastthe point of,

well, she shouldn't bean activist,

she shouldn't be black,she shouldn't be this--

she should be everythingthat God made her to be.

Please, just be that.

-(cheering, applause)-All right. -Be that.

Couldn't have said it better.

All right, we'll be right backright after this.

-(cheering, applause)-Very well said.

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