Rihanna performs onstage during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


Confession: I only half-watched the Super Bowl halftime show because I was working on Defender articles. But during one of my periodic glimpses at the Rihanna festivities, I noticed soul sister’s stomach. Then I saw someone on social media ask “Is Ri pregnant.” Reading that, I was ready to go off. I’m thinking, “She just had a baby. Why are folk trippin’?” Then, I started thinking about how the media bombards us with these unrealistic body images that blind us all to those everyday body types humans actually possess. So, I was ready to go all in about how Rihanna performing proudly with her realistic, grown-A woman body, was something we should celebrate. And that because Rihanna is Rihanna, maybe folk will stop trippin’ and holding entertainers and each other to unrealistic image standards. And the thing I was really going to go off on was how folk could look at this sister, and because she had a little “extra” around the belly, they’d just assume she was pregnant. Then I found out. She’s actually pregnant. So much for my tirade. Congrats, Ri.


Hip Hop is having a powerful moment during this year’s 50th anniversary of its founding–with the mind-blowing special Grammy’s performance, articles galore about the genre and the must-see documentary “Fight the Power: How Hip Hop Changed the World.” But, Blackfolk are also having another kind of moment; one that deserves just as much, if not more, attention. Recently, Trugoy the Dove aka Plug Two aka David Jude Jolicoeur of the legendary hip hop group De La Soul, made his transition into the ancestral realm. He was only 54 years old. Think about that. At a time when folk are saying 50 is the new 30, far too many Black men 50-ish and younger are dying. And no one seems to notice. Stephen “Twitch” Boss (40). Coolio (59). Kevin Samuels (57). Bernard Wright (58). Marion Barber III (38). Jak Knight (28). David A. Arnold (54). Jesse Powell (51). PnB Rock (30). Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson (50). Takeoff (28). Just like we can write rhymes, we can write a new health reality for our brothers. Let’s resolve to get our brothers (and all Blackfolk) more rest, more peace and more power, so we can end this manufactured cycle of far too early deaths.


Can we shout-out Houston’s under-appreciated arts scene? More specifically, can we show some love to one of Houston’s own who is doing it up big on the local, state, national and international stages? I’m talking about Reginald Adams, the artist with murals on the breakfast klub, Young Women’s College Prep, the famous “Juneteenth” mural in Galveston, and works at Discovery Green, Kashmere High School, IAH, and in cities and countries from here to Timbuktu. His latest work-in-progress at George Bush Intercontinental will open more international eyes to his brilliance. Let’s not let the world celebrate him while we ignore his genius. So, bruhman—here’s a well-deserved shout-out!

Aswad Walker

I'm originally from Cincinnati. I'm a husband and father to six children. I'm an associate pastor for the Shrine of Black Madonna (Houston). I am a lecturer (adjunct professor) in the University of Houston...