Tag Archives: Erykah Badu

Monáe And Badu, Legendary Rebels

By Guest Contributor Andreana Clay; originally published at Queer Black Feminist

I’ve watched the video for Janelle Monáe’s new song, “Q.U.E.E.N “(featuring Erykah Badu), just under a  hundred times in the last 24 hours. Um, really. It’s on a loop. When I’m not watching it, I’ve been streaming it online, posting it online, and downloading the single. Then I spent a good 10 minutes telling my musical soulmate friend Holly about it this afternoon on the phone. This is all par for the course when I like a song and here’s why:

Like other feminists, songs like these by Black women stop me in my tracks and make me take notice (maybe you could tell that already). See, right now I’m standing in the BART station twerking as I type and wait for the train. Can’t help it. Serious. Believe, I’m twerking because the drums are so tight but, more so, because almost every single lyric makes my bones shake.

Even if it makes others uncomfortable.
(I will love who I am)

What I like most about the song are the questions that Monáe, who says she knows what it’s like to feel like the other, asks throughout the song; often starting with “Am I a freak?” As in,

Am I a freak for dancing round?
Am I a freak for getting down?
Am I a freak cause I love watching Mary?
I’m cutting up
So don’t cut me down 

Every once in a while she’ll give answers to her questions: “is it true that we’re all insane? (I just tell them no we ain’t and get down).” But mostly, she leaves it for us to decide. No matter the answer, I will always love freaks–like a real deep love–so just the question pulls me into the song. And not a freak as in, “Let your freak flag fly because nobody understands me,” Gaga-style; but more a freak in the sense of blending past and present, funk and protest, which many of us have long embodied.

Some have begun to speculate that this song may be about her (queer) sexuality, which may be true, and that’s ok. But, I’m more interested in the ways her freak status is about weaving in a politic that is specific to this generation, her generation, our (hip-hop) generation(s). This is most exemplified in the rap lyrics at the end of the song. Some surprise as in, ”I’m tired of Marvin asking me ‘What’s Going On;” while others challenge ”Categorize me, I defy every label;” and my favorite–as a Missouri girl with roots deep–stays grounded, ”Gimme me back my pyramid, I’m tryna free Kansas City.” Those lyrics, that (brown girl) insurgency explored through a simultaneous connection and refusal to be pinned down are indicative of the margins many of us have have been relegated to. Have celebrated in. Created alliances through. Where we’ve landed and where our true possibilities lie. As Lorde states, Monáe gives a nod to ”those of us who stand outside the circle of this society’s definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference.” Whether it’s because of our sexuality, our political stances, our backgrounds, or our hairstyle, what we have forged on our bodies and in our collaborations are the tools, the communities we depend on. Not throwing out one piece in favor of or deference to another.

And this is also evident in the sonic flow from Monáe to Badu without missing a beat. The change in pace and music refer back to Baduizm with lyrics that build on the themes of qwerk, solidarity, and what Shana Redmond refers to as “a sound/sight corpus of black feminist knowledges that take advantage of social movement methods” (Redmond 2011: 406) As Badu sings,

Shake til the break of dawn
Don’t mean a thing, so duh
I can’t take it no more
Baby, we in tuxedo groove
Monáe and E. Badu
Crazy in the black and white
We got the drums so tight
Baby, here comes the freedom song
Too strong we moving on
Dance ’til the break of dawn
Don’t mean a thing, so duh
I can’t take it no more
Baby, we in tuxedo groove
Monae and E. Badu
Crazy in the black and white
We got the drums so tight
Baby, here comes the freedom song
Too strong we moving on

Complete lyrics:http://www.directlyrics.com/janelle-monae-queen-lyrics.html

Um. Love.

Love. In particular, I love the displays of solidarity: the love of music, the tight drums. As much as I also love the difference in style, presentation, age, and cadence. And I especially love love love how it’s all brought back together by the unifying “the booty don’t lie.”Reminding us that this blend is the (Afro)future for Black girls in the margins.

So I ask and end with another Monáe question:

“Electric Ladies, will you sleep? Or will you preach?”

In the meantime, for your pleasure:

The Black Zooey Deschanel Play Offs

by Guest Contributors Eddie and Ralph

Eastern Conference: The Thuggish Seductress Dream Girl
Starting Line Up: Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown

Nicki MinajIf the notion is that Zooey Deschanel is an unreal amalgam of white male fantasies, female rappers like Nicki Minaj may offer that for Black males.

  • The sexy female rapper who can outshine her male counterparts in guest verses.
  • She’s as gully as she is sexy, equally comfortable talking about selling blow and blowjobs.
  • Embodies a unique sexuality that is emulated by other women. In Nicki Minaj it’s a hyper-sexuality compared to the childlike sexuality of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
  • The Nicki Minaj catsuit could be a parallel to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s lens-free horn-rimmed glasses.

Western Conference: The Multi Culti World Wanderer
Starting Line Up: Rashida Jones, Maya Rudolph, Rosario Dawson

Rosario in Sin CityIf the notion is that she speaks primarily to the fantasies of Black males who aren’t into mainstream standards much in the same way that Zooey Deschanel fulfills the fantasies of indie rock loving, comic book reading White males.

  • They can play many different ethnicities, playing the girlfriends of both White and Black actors without it raising an eyebrow.
  • That ability to float in and out of a specific racial identity offers both the actress and her Black male admirers access into worlds where they may not normally feel represented. Rashida Jones is one of the few black actresses currently on a Thursday NBC sitcom. Jones and Rudolph were the only two people of color in the Beastie Boys “Make Some Noise” video.

  • In “I Love You Man” Rashida Jones character is named “Zooey.”
  • Both Dawson and Jones write comic books. Occult Crimes Taskforce and Frenemy of the State
  • Rashida Jones’ dad is Quincy Jones. Maya Rudolph’s mom is Minnie Riperton. They may not play ukulele but they have the master tapes of some amazing stuff.

Continue reading

Quoted (Double Edition): Erykah Badu on Female Sexuality and Emotions

When Erykah Badu walked naked for 13 seconds (when the video was shot, she had the full song sped up to one minute and 32 seconds, then slowed back down in editing), it was for her art and not sexual consumption. It’s a stance she feels contributed to the outrage. “We’re just not fashioned for [nudity],” says Badu. “Especially the Black women, the ‘Hottentot Venus’ women, big-booty women, the large posterior, with no shoes on and a scarf on her head, you know that ain’t sexy.” [...]

“Society has a problem with female nudity when it is not . . . ”—Badu pauses to get her words together; she wants this point to be very clear—“. . . when it is not packaged for the consumption of male entertainment. Then it becomes confusing.” [...]

“To me it’s like traditional performance art like Yoko Ono, or Nina Simone. Research some of those women. They all seem to live by the same theme: Well-behaved women rarely make history. Even looking at people like Harriet Tubman and those types of women. When you have strong convictions about something you know what you already gonna do. I look at some other videos. I’m not naming names, because I don’t want that to be mentioned. There is the thing with sexuality. I’m naked for 13 seconds, and these people are naked the whole time and gyrating and saying come “lick on my lollipop,” and “suck on my cinnamon roll,” and, you know, suggesting sex. People are uncomfortable with sexuality that’s not for male consumption. Could be ‘cause I did it in public too. Do you think people would have been complaining if I had on high-heel shoes?”

— From the June/July Vibe Cover Profile of Erykah Badu

Arise: Earlier, you called performance your therapy. Is performance how you deal with pain?

Erykah Badu: I accept pain as part of growing. Everyone goes through it. And in the process of it, it’s unpleasant, but I’m still peaceful and happy. Continue reading

Musing on The Window Seat Video

by Guest Contributor Renina Jarmon (M.Dot), originally published at New Model Minority

Earlier today, I was on the phone with Bacon Grits, chit chatting, planning my outfit, my day, flirting, and he asked me I had seen the Window Seat video? I continued looking for my fuchsia leggings, turned it on, put him on speaker, and continued to chat. I sat down in front of the computer half way watching, listening, and then I noticed, “Erykah Badu is stripping?”

Then I tell him, wait, is she going to get naked?

He says, oh you haven’t seen it, wait until the end.

We both sat there quiet as I listened, and watched. Absorbed. Continue reading

Window Seat: Does Erykah Badu’s Booty Obscure Her Artistic Message?

by Guest Contributor Noorain Khan, originally published at Jezebel

*Video Slightly NSFW*

A People.com poll posted yesterday afternoon asks, “Did Erykah Badu Go Too Far in Naked New Video?” So far, almost 60% of respondents agree.

At the intersection of sexism, nudity, and art sits Badu’s latest artistic endeavor, the controversial music video for her first official single, Window Seat. And everyone’s been talking about it.

The video features Badu walking through Dallas’s historic Dealey Plaza, the site of the Kennedy assassination, while stripping down to nothing but a hat. The crowd of bystanders includes children. It ends with what appears to be Badu’s own assassination by gunshot, after she removes the last of her clothing.

The internet has been ablaze with wide-ranging reactions and commentary following the video’s debut last wekeend:

“It is not just about the nudity — it is also about where she decided to film this piece of junk….and then to include the gun shot….it was very disrespectful. … she did this with no regard for anyone else but herself.” – thm, posted on the Dallas Morning News site, March 30th

“I think Erykah Badu is brilliant. That video was the deepest, most sincere, undeniably real video I’ve ever seen. EVER.” –Tyeastia, posted on CNN.com March 31st

“Sorry. I appreciate the statement and the thought behind the video, and I’m also a huge Badu fan. That said, the nudity and subsequent mock assassination? With the children present? Sorry, I’m not feeling it.” –Shola Akinnuso, posted on The Root, March 30th

Badu’s video is undoubtedly an atom bomb of visual imagery. As an artist who has never shied away from articulating her consciousness-raising agenda through metaphor, the Window Seat video has prompted many to ask, does Erykah Badu’s booty obscure her artistic message? Continue reading