No one ever signs up in life to take a backseat through stardom. Nor do they intentionally aim their marker to always shoot to be number two. When you assume the position to make your ascent towards the top of the mountain of success, your dream should be to reach the summit, rather than continually linger around its base.

Yet in a world full of contenders there can only be one Queen of the crop. When you look around the playing field you see a whole lot of the same material, just noticeably executed on different levels of perfection. When examining the career of stars like Rihanna, Ciara and Ashanti, sure each woman has their own style of material, but their popularity only pales in comparison to one distinct entertainer, Beyonce’. Yes, these ladies should always opt to be themselves when it comes to the heart of their career, but when you compare them individually it only leads to one truth. No matter how hard anyone tries, you can’t beat B.

Or can you? Maybe they should take a lesson.

“The Beyonce’ Effect”, an endemic that’s been sweeping across the world long before the threat of H1N1 (Swine Flu). From a Single Man named Shane Mercado, winning our hearts on YouTube with his rendition of Single Ladies, to young children as early as 4 years old, piping out testimonies of being a Diva long before they’ve ever experienced puberty. One things for certain in an era impacted by influence, whether you love or hate Beyonce’, it seems the world just can’t get enough of emulating her.

Sure on the surface, she’s not the best role model, so before I continue just know that I am in no way promoting that idea. Well, sort of not. What I am doing is endorsing her formula for success, because whether we like it or not it’s what catapulted her to superstardom.

Rather than being just a singer, Beyonce’ is a full circle entertainer. She embodies all the qualities befit a superstar; the look, the sound, the confidence, the presence, the support and let’s face it, sheer determination. The age old argument circulating the thoughts and lips of a few of you reading this, is that rather than amassing real talent, the undeniable Queen of R&B is about as manufactured as a Barbie.

Whether it’s true or not, let’s not focus on that argument. Rather, let’s focus on her competition and examine why it’s Beyonce’ in the spotlight and how it could someday be them. You can’t catch the Beyonce’ Effect, you have to sign up and succumb to the growing epidemic. This wise fool once said, “If you want to be in the spotlight, then you better pay your energy bill.” So while I’m dropping a little wisdom and dusting off the couch for my next arrival, here are some tips for other well known artists who need to step up their game in order to beat B.

As most of you know, Ashanti holds the record of selling the most albums in a week for a Female R&B Artist debut. A well deserved honor befitting her genuine effort, I must say. And every now and then I still get a little Foolish from time to time, but when I’m feeling nostalgic I always begin to wonder; how could you palm the trophy in one hand and then let it dissipate into the emptiness of the other.

Apart from the Irv Gotti drama, I still think Ashanti could’ve done a lot better. Even after she ventured out, leaving behind her murderous past, I swore when she came back swinging that ax in The Way That I Love You, that Ash was finally ready to bring us a little rain and thunder. But as always, there was a break in the clouds, and instead of being drenched in her presence, she was gone… again.

I think Ashanti showed up to the race, but never really left her place marker in the starting block. Being in the top spot requires more than just a hesitant effort. If you want to be the center of attention then you’ve got to quit rocking from right to left and assume the position of a real contender. The girls got pipes, so that’s definitely not an argument cradling the corner of her present issue, but it takes more then just velvet vocals to sell out venues and make number one albums. A few tips for you Ashanti.

Get a Halo, and stop mixing your career with perceived or real gangsters.

Prior to the election, if the world had found out Barack Obama had a lengthy criminal record, whether reformed or not, do you think the world would have elected him our first black president? I doubt it. Sure, Beyonce’ is the center of attention in the Knowles household, but having her mother and father in every aspect of her career has painted a positive image for the whole world to see. The world loves the idea that our little darling is family oriented, enriched by her good values and holds a solid moral compass. That’s part of the reason why she’s so well received and appreciated by many. My suggestion: Stay FAR AWAY from Murder Inc. and revamp your image to look like Daddy’s Little Girl.

Along with the death of your career at Murder Inc., kill those vocal riffs you always do.

“Oh, Oh Baby…. Awww Awww boy.” Oh, oh please spare me! If every song on your album always sounds the same what’s going to make a person want to run out and cop the new CD? It’d be one thing if the “Oh Baby’s” were something you just couldn’t get enough of, but if I stumbled upon a genie in a bottle, I know one of my three wishes would be to rid the world of those painful ad-libs. My suggestion: Show some growth as an artist and stop being extremely predictable.

We love you Ci Ci, but what’s going on? You were right there at the top of your game, but instead of following the lead of Beyonce’ you’ve taken it a notch further and it seems you want to be Beyonce’.

The emergence of “Super C”.

Now, I never intended to suggest Ciara bring the world a new rendition of something that in my opinion, didn’t need any fixing. People liked Ciara for her somewhat originality. Sure she gets compared to artists like the late and forever phenomenal Aaliyah, but at this moment in the game she was in a league of her own. Ciara was doing her own thing. Then one day I woke up, and “Super C” had taken over and was now driving our perfectly shaped Ci Ci past the KFC and Popeye’s and had her slimming down like Kate Moss and igniting a modeling career. Yeah, it’s important to be healthy and I personally think she already was, but part of Ciara’s original appeal was her sexy curves and her proud attitude. It seems that rather than having an alter ego, she’s dealing with a bout with schizophrenia. Did someone say The Soloist Part II? Okay, okay, that was my attempt at being funny, but now onto a few suggestions for Ciara.

Put it in a serious effort at being yourself… again.

Ciara was palming the real possibility. She had what it takes to knock Queen B out of the top spot. If you remember, long before Beyonce’ dropped If I Were A Boy, Ciara was topping the charts with her banger Like A Boy. She had the Queen of Influence following her lead. She’s always had those supersonic beats we like and is always mixing it up with Missy Elliot and Timbaland. She was indeed marching to the beat of her own musical drum. Then all the sudden, should took us on a Fantasy Ride. Now the album itself shows incredible growth as an artist and is indeed one to bump to on any afternoon, but the new woman behind the mic is really what I’m referring to as far as my opinion on an unwelcome change. I’m glad to see sheer evolution, but what I loved about Ciara was that she was different from Beyonce’. Now that she’s emerged with a “Super C” to Beyonce’s “Sasha Fierce”, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two when I’m not looking directly at the TV Screen. My suggestion: Be yourself and stay original so you will always be thought of as an innovator rather than just another artist following suit. You can’t beat Beyonce’ if you’re trying to be Beyonce’. She’s got that perfected, so you should be the best at being yourself.

Stay in the picture.

Part of the reason why Beyonce’ is always in the spotlight, is because like most people gripe, she won’t ever seem to take a vacation from the entertainment industry and let other artists gain a little exposure. Smart girl. Now I don’t expect Ciara to put out an album every 5 minutes, because even Beyonce’ doesn’t do that magic trick. What Beyonce’ does do that Ciara needs to get under, is even when she’s not singing on the mic, she’s always working in some way to be at the forefront of the industry. We have the privilege of getting Beyonce the singer, Beyonce’ the clothing designer, Beyonce’ the actress, and Ms. Jay-Z. Everywhere you look, you’re reminded of the Diva. If Ciara wants to stay relevant, she needs to stay in the picture rather than disappearing from time to time. My suggestion: Get a TV Show, do a movie from time to time, and open up a restaurant in the heart of Hollywood. You can call it Super C’s House of Wontons. Just put in a little more energy at being in the mainstream.

Rihanna’s like looking at a picture housed in an art museum, the one cluttered with so much activity that it almost drowns out the hidden beauty. The one that you like, and aren’t afraid to admit it, but you always find yourself saying, “This is a nice painting, but there’s almost too much going on here.” Yeah, in a nut shell, that’s what Rihanna is like too me; a nice girl but continually collecting a whole lot of baggage that stands to threaten her career.

She had us hooked with Umbrella and her Cover Girl campaign, and was finally making major headway in her growing career. But being drenched in continual negativity is threatening to tear apart her amazing efforts at the seams. From the rumored affair with Jay Z, to the recent incident with Chris Brown, and now those nude photos that were surprisingly leaked to the internet. What’s next, we’ll find out she’s been lip syncing all her music just like Milli Vanilli? I don’t think I’m ready for such a shocker, but at the rate she’s going I expect to hear more about her drama rather than anything positive about her actual singing career. To beat Beyonce’, your career shouldn’t be overshadowed by a threshold of negativity. A couple suggestions if you will…

Don’t thrive on the drama.

I’m sure you guessed that this would be my first proposal, because just like me, you were thinking it too. Now I admit I don’t know Rihanna personally, and one of the recent incidents that she’s gone through, in my opinion, was of no fault of her own. But, and there is a “but”, she should put in a better effort to stop making negative headlines since the impact of the February incident. Who leaked the photos? Some suggest it was Rihanna herself, and with the trouble Chris Brown is already in, I wouldn’t assume he’s the one who did it. He’s already got 99 Problems. Take a lesson from Beyonce’, apart from being a bit raunchy at times in her music videos, Beyonce’ is as American as Apple Pie and Cheerios. Even the Obama’s love her wholesome image, which is probably why they chose her rather then Etta James (who has a lot of drama of her own) to sing At Last during their Inauguration Ball. If you want to beat B, you’ve got to stop getting your hands so dirty. My suggestion: Join the Peace Corp. or do something either than set fashion trends and continually encompass negativity.

Join the cast of Dancing With The Stars

None of you knew who Steve “The Woz” Wozniak was until he laced up his dancing shoes and gave it his best effort. Now he’s an American treasure, and likely considered the next Fred Astaire, Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but America love’s that show just as much as they love Beyonce’. If Rihanna wants to shed her bad girl image, she may need to start with a little tap dancing and then move on to the waltz. My suggestion: Dust off you dancing shoes and put down the revolver. Tattoos are okay, but what are you suggesting with the guns? More drama? On behalf of America, you and your career, I will be writing a query letter to the shows creator to find out how we can get you on the show for their 9th season. It’ll give your career an upright image and reshape our thinking and bring you right back to where you were as an entertainer, and once again closer to your chance of finally beating Beyonce’.

Consider an actual career in R&B music

To be a Pop Princess, or not to be, that is the question. I suggest not… A lot of people love Rihanna, but some of the sisters are still a bit hesitant to embrace her music because it lacks the components necessary to be considered R&B. We’ve got artists like Lady Gaga if we want to hear bubble gum songs like Poker Face, yet every time you turn around little Robyn Fenty is sending out an SOS through our radio airwaves.
My Suggestion: Mix it up a bit like Beyonce’ would. Even Jay Z understands the necessity of offering us the Best of Both Worlds. Sure, you can have your techno pop tracks on the CD, but every now and then I challenge you to work with producers like Jermaine Dupri or Brian Michael Cox. Maybe if your music was a little more soulful and less pop influenced you might find a reason to smile in your music videos from time to time, but as they say, “A smile is just a frown turned upside down.” Even still, if the Temptations can find “sunshine on a cloudy day” adding a little R&B to your catalog would make some of us really want to get under your Umbrella.

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