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When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong (Tevin Campbell Edition)

By Brian Richards | Social Media | August 20, 2018 |

By Brian Richards | Social Media | August 20, 2018 |


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Last week, legendary singer Aretha Franklin died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 76. Worldwide, many people were absolutely heartbroken. Many of those heartbroken people were members of Black Twitter, that section of Twitter responsible for multiple memes and hashtags that bring you joy and who will also find you and take flamethrowers to your entire existence if you’re a nosy and racist White person who’s foolish enough to call the police on any Black person who commits the unforgivable sin of living their lives and minding their business. One of the more popular and well-known members of Black Twitter is author/blogger/podcaster Luvvie Ajayi. During a conversation in which Black Twitter discussed which singers they’d want to see included in any upcoming award show tributes, there were several names tossed out: Patti LaBelle, Jill Scott, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson, Ledisi, and Fantasia. Luvvie shot down the suggestion that Patti LaBelle should sing at Aretha’s funeral, as the two of them were supposed to be the fiercest of rivals, though there’s still some debate as to whether this was true.

Then someone suggested that Tevin Campbell should take part in any upcoming tribute, which Luvvie scoffed at.

Now, if you were a fan of ’90s R&B, then you know many a song by Tevin Campbell, how both Quincy Jones and Prince recognized how immensely talented he was, and how that talent resulted in him being rather popular back in the day.

(This song, which was penned by Prince, gave us still-in-high-school Tevin singing the lyric, “I want to do you after school like some homework.” Which…I…mmm, OK, Tevin. It’s still less eyeroll-inducing than “We can do it ‘til we both wake up” from Color Me Badd’s “I Wanna Sex You Up,” but really, Tevin?!)

And let’s not forget that one episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air when Tevin (as R&B singer/teen heartthrob Little T) surprised Ashley at her birthday party and sang to her:

Apparently, there was also Tevin’s performance as *checks notes* Powerline from A Goofy Movie. I say “apparently” because I’ve never seen A Goofy Movie, I had no idea that Tevin Campbell had any involvement whatsoever with A Goofy Movie, and I’m now fully aware that I will get the same amount of judgmental looks about this that I did when I recently admitted on Twitter that I’ve never seen Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion and only just watched it for the first time ever last month:

He hasn’t released much material recently to keep people talking about him (he appeared in the Broadway musical Hairspray as Seaweed J. Stubbs in 2005, and his single, “Safer on The Ground”, was released on Apple Music in 2016), so you would think that Luvvie rolling her eyes at Tevin Campbell’s name being mentioned would just go unnoticed. Instead, Black Twitter became aware of her tweet and responded like so…

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…before coming together like Voltron and letting her know that any and all Tevin Campbell slander would not be tolerated on Beyoncรฉ’s Internet.

(It also didn’t help that the Nigerian-born Ajayi has developed a reputation for saying questionable things about Black Americans on Twitter while also using Twitter to achieve fame and recognition, and has found herself on the bad side of most of Black Twitter as a result, so this was pretty much the last straw for many. For further elaboration as to how and why she has gotten on Black Twitter’s bad side, Twitter’s search engine for any and all of those tweets is your friend.)

Once Luvvie noticed that her mentions were blowing up and that Campbell’s name was beginning to trend, she did a bit of backpedaling and explained that she wasn’t insulting Tevin’s singing ability, but that didn’t stop Black Twitter from sending many a side-eye in her direction.

There was so much noise about the shade being thrown at Tevin Campbell and all of the resulting clapbacks that even Missy Elliott took notice and offered her two cents. And when Missy Elliott herself is calling you out and saying that you fucked up, you know you done fucked up.

Naturally, this ended up getting the attention of Tevin Campbell himself, and he was touched by how hard Twitter was going on his behalf.

Even Sheriff Lamb from Veronica Mars is a Tevin Campbell fan. Who knew?

If there’s one thing that we’re reminded of all too often whenever a beloved celebrity dies, it’s that we should let them know how much they and their work are loved and appreciated while they are still alive so that they can experience it for themselves. There was no shortage of love and appreciation for Aretha Franklin (and not just because of her ability to masterfully throw shade at Taylor Swift with just four words), but losing her only made Twitter and the rest of the Internet work a little harder to spread that love to her and to many of the artists she inspired, to artists like Tevin Campbell, and to do so before their names become hashtags for tearful reasons.


This has been another episode of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.”



Brian Richards is a Staff Contributor. You can follow him on Twitter.



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