ALICIA KEYS is a superstar singer who has mostly kept her clothes on and gossip off. So what is she doing in this photo, dressed only in a peace sign?Kristof has been writing NYT columns for a long time. Recently, it’s starting to seem like he’s just trawling through my old postings looking for hot-button subjects that he can write something inane about that will generate a lot of comments without getting him in trouble with the Volunteer Auxiliary Thought Police.
Her answer has to do with the purpose of life. Last month, as she was sickened by grim news — from the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to the toll in Gaza and Syria — a friend of hers lobbed a provocative question about the meaning of our existence: Why are you here?
“Nobody had asked me that question before,” Keys recalled. It got her thinking about her mission in life, her legacy. She is one of the world’s best-known singers, but many of her songs have been about love or heartbreak. . She has 35 million fans on Facebook and almost 20 million followers on Twitter, but she wasn’t leveraging that audience for some broader purpose.
So she is now starting a We Are Here movement to channel her music and her fans to social justice causes, from stricter gun laws to criminal justice reform, from gay rights to global girls’ education.
“I want to gather an army,” Keys told me. She wants to galvanize that infantry of fans from feeling frustrated about the world to improving it.
Here’s a photo from a post of mine back in 2008 of Alicia Keys looking adorable in her Huey Newton leather coat, Eldridge Cleaver shades, and her own AK-47 gold pendant in the shape of the automatic rifle. An Associated Press article noted at the time:
There’s another side to Alicia Keys: conspiracy theorist. The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter tells Blender magazine: “‘Gangsta rap’ was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other. ‘Gangsta rap’ didn’t exist.”And yet, if Alicia Keys were 47-years-old, making the whole “AK-47? thing even more appropriate, theoretically-speaking, it would somehow be less cute.
Keys, 27, said she’s read several Black Panther autobiographies and wears a gold AK-47 pendant around her neck “to symbolize strength, power and killing ‘em dead,” according to an interview in the magazine’s May issue, on newsstands Tuesday.
Another of her theories: That the bicoastal feud between slain rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. was fueled “by the government and the media, to stop another great black leader from existing.”
Keys’ AK-47 jewelry came as a surprise to her [white] mother, who is quoted as telling Blender: “She wears what? That doesn’t sound like Alicia.”
Funny how that works.
In the meantime, AK, enjoy it while you’ve still got it.