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.
Y'all keep talmbout Patti LaBelle should sing at Aretha's tribute.— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) August 16, 2018
Lemme state this loud and clear. THE PEOPLE I DO NOT LIKE OR TALK TO OR MESS WITH ARE NOT INVITED TO MY FUNERAL. I take grudges to the other side too. 😑😑😑
Then someone suggested that Tevin Campbell should take part in any upcoming tribute, which Luvvie scoffed at.
Someone suggested Tevin Campbell to sing at Aretha's tribute. Under what rock did they pull that name from?— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) August 16, 2018
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…
…before coming together like Voltron and letting her know that any and all Tevin Campbell slander would not be tolerated on Beyoncé’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.)
Smh. If you don’t know Tevin Campbell has the range…— roxane gay (@rgay) August 17, 2018
┏┓— Grade A Hoe, Not Lean (@DondaRex5) August 17, 2018
┃┃╱╲ In this
Tevin Campbell as a legend.
Tevin Campbell was good enough for Prince. Few co-signs matter in perpetuity. Prince’s does.— I'm Gary (@noyokono) August 17, 2018
Folks need to stick to the rivers and lakes that they're used to. Anyone who knows anything about R&B would never disrespect Tevin Campbell as a performer. FOH— Queen Killmonger (@sarahsosincere) August 17, 2018
I didn't think the love for Tevin Campbell was as strong as it was until Black Twitter clapped back at Luvvie in 3 part harmony accusing him of not having the range.— markchappelle (@markchappelle) August 17, 2018
Google is good and free, yet some of y’all STILL insist on being ignorant of music history.— Nicolette Carney (@Miss_NicciC) August 17, 2018
Make it make sense.
Even if you talk about his career not being as big, you have to acknowledge that homophobia was at the center of that. Ppl’s bigotry kept him from being the MAJOR star that he should’ve been. https://t.co/K8yQ3F32Dg— K12 Advocacy (@DrChaeEd) August 17, 2018
Do y’all ever get tired of down playing the greatness from black legends? Just because you missed out on their prime, what makes y’all feel like you’ve got authority to minimize their contributions to music? #TevinCampbell— Kevin Durant’s Troll Account (@Pistol__Eyes) August 17, 2018
About a year ago Tyler Perry hired/invited Tevin Campbell to sing at our wrap party. Chile, I dropped all my food and went up to the stage like…everybody was in awe and jammin’! A beautiful soul and voice. Still. pic.twitter.com/zf9EmBdbX9— Tika Sumpter (@iamtikasumpter) August 18, 2018
Because of Luvvie's stupid tweet, Tevin Campbell's streaming check is gonna be 4x this month. God really will make your enemies your footstool. Imagine having the spirit of a footstool, with the personality to match.— The Chronicles of Nunya (@EJtheCROOM) August 17, 2018
Someone had to be sacrificed to the Twitter Gods, so that Tevin Campbell could experience this day of support of love.— Danie Durst (@daniecal) August 17, 2018
The universe made its selection. pic.twitter.com/9ye27BEaWY
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.
Tevin Campbell is trending. Lawdt. I KNOW he can blow but I haven't heard his name in a while. People took my tweet and acted like I called his mama a sinner. I ain't say he can't sing. Folks added all this stuff to that one tweet. Chisos.— Awesomely Luvvie (@Luvvie) August 17, 2018
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.
I am truly touched by the love fans on twitter have for me. I love em all back!!!!— Tevin Campbell (@tevincampbelll) August 17, 2018
The only celebrity that made me nervous…each time I saw her I acted like a nervous fan. The first thing she would say to me was “How is your mom?” I literally studied every movement, every specific great thing she did with her voice. This queen was/is everything to me. 🙏🏾 pic.twitter.com/pKBg7V2Cps— Tevin Campbell (@tevincampbelll) August 18, 2018
Even Sheriff Lamb from Veronica Mars is a Tevin Campbell fan. Who knew?
This.— Michael Muhney (@michaelmuhney) August 18, 2018
I hope tomorrow will bring better you, better me. I know that we’ll show this world, we’ve got more we could be. So you should never give up on your hopes and your dreams. You gotta get up, get out, get into it, get it on to be strong.@tevincampbelll https://t.co/DRjQsffK6t
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.
The one good thing that came out of this Tevin mess is that he knows he’s really loved. I hope all of the people reaching out to him about opportunities follow thru.— Robert Glasper’s Beef Patty (@ChristineFox) August 18, 2018
I’m glad Tevin Campbell is on Twitter so he can read all these flowers y’all givin’ him, while he’s still here. He deserves.— stacia l. brown (@slb79) August 17, 2018
This has been another episode of “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong.”
Header Image Source: Getty