Timing, as they say, is everything. Aretha Franklin went home to see the King last week and almost as soon as she passed, the discussions about who should (and shouldn’t) be involved in any tributes to and for the Queen started on the social medias. Discussions were started about who should play her in a biopic. Names were bandied about. I knew people loved them some Aretha, but folks took that love to new levels.
For instance, one Virginia man was shot in an argument over who should play Queen Re Re in her biopic, a casting choice that has already been made, by the way.
Read that again.
It’s that real in the field, folks. So as surprising as that was, I suppose it should come as no surprise that when Luvvie Ajayi—or Awesomely Luvvie, as most folks know her on the interwebs—let off a quick, lightwork tweet questioning Tevin Campbell being considered for a tribute to Aretha, folks had time. (Full disclosure: Luvvie is a friend of mine.) Again, timing is everything. Roundabouts 3:20 p.m. on Aug. 16, everybody was free.
Luvvie was dragged to high hell for an alleged suggestion that Tevin was unfitting for the tribute. Maybe she feels that way; she didn’t say that though. The tweet definitely implies that perhaps he is ill-fitted for any Aretha tributes and implies that perhaps Tevin wouldn’t be up for the challenge. It implies those things but doesn’t explicitly state any of them. But the ’nets gon’ ’net, and folks who clearly have been sitting in wait to let off some shots at Luvvie for any number of things—both legit and not—stayed low and kept firing. Folks had time.
And then a magical thing happened. Tevin Campbell, who in my imagination was sitting at home eating some Cheerios watching a Law & Order: SVU marathon like the rest of us, started trending on Twitter. And while we all were like “MAMA, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” at first, once it was confirmed he was alive and all was right with the world, the real work started.
Everybody started talking about how awesome a singer Tevin was (is?), and he was, precious Lord take my hand, he was an amazing vocalist. Folks were breaking out Tevin Campbell albums and celebrating his vocal stylings, artistry and musicianship. Aretha even took young Tevin up under her wing at some point and helped him along and Tevin dropped photos of the two of them together. Folks started championing the merits of “Can We Talk?” and trying to remember what exactly T.E.V.I.N. stood for.
I also discovered that his I’m Ready album—you know, the one with “Can We Talk?,” “I’m Ready,” and “Shhhh”—is not on streaming services and, what the fuck, yo? This is Tevin motherfucking Campbell here. Somebody needs to fix that. I’m ready to start that campaign.
Even the celebrities got in on the act. Wale clapped back. Ava DuVernay hopped in talking about trying to work Tevin Campbell into an episode of Queen Sugar. Which, I wish somebody would write me into an episode of Queen Sugar.
What we found out, off the strength of what on any other day would be an throwaway tweet, is just how much people loved and appreciated Tevin Campbell. I’ve been replaying his catalog since Friday, going back to the Quincy Jones Back on The Block album with his standout song, “Tomorrow.” We’ve been talking Tevin all weekend.
And Tevin, for his part, has been awesome about it. He’s been enjoying the love and responding to fans on Twitter and talking about new music. Hopefully, he can ride this wave into some ticket sales and album streams and see some financial gains.
But let’s recap this right quick. A week ago, Tevin Campbell was probably chilling somewhere working on new music watching reruns of Unsung hoping he still held a spot in the hearts of the population who once adored him. This week though, Tevin knows that folks not only still love him immensely, but aren’t going to let anybody slander his name; he was trending on Twitter and ended up having articles written about him left and right, to potentially being written into a popular television show in black America by one of black America’s favorite people in remembrance and appreciation for who he was, is and will be as an artist. He could probably do a quick intimate tour right now and sell that mother out instantly.
Yep, I think Tevin Campbell is having the best week ever and it hasn’t even been a week yet.