My People, My People!
First, let me say, I unequivocally LOVE Ms. Badu. As an artist, as a poet, as a woman, I have mad respect and admiration for Ms. Erikah Badu also known as LowDown Loretta Brown also known as Sara Bellum also known as Maria Mexico also known as Medulla Oblongata also known as Analog Girl in a Digital World. I, do.
AND I think she made an artistic mistake with the controversial Window Seat video. Like so many of us artist with leanings towards the social-justice, greater consciousness, independent thinking side of things, we get great ideas. We’re able to connect to a bigger picture, contemplate the deeper meaning, the overall message, and oooooh, “just imagine the greater impact.” I get it. As a one time performing artist who has gotten butt naked on a stage for the sake of bringing an artistic message home, I understand fully the courage it takes to bare all in front of a crowd of peers and strangers alike. I get it. I can see how this whole artistic choice went from thought to action. Truly.
The problem is:It don’t have nothin’ to do with the damn song! Nothing. The song is about RELATIONSHIPS.
To have the blogosphere and social networking world’s light up in defense of a what really is just a poor artistic choice, completely baffles me. When I said, I didn’t get it, a friend of mine on facebook, also a Badu Lover, said:
“In a nutshell, when you walk the same path as previous revolutionaries and rid your self of negativity and worldly superfluities stripping down to your authentic self; someone, (evil) is going to TRY to assassinate you but the Spirit goes on regardless through rebirth or resurrection. Lyrics are self-explanatory.” ~Facebook comment
I’m like, yeah, okay, all of that is absolutely true but to say it’s true for that videowith this song requires an artistic leap of epic proportions to justify the choice. You can always make an artistic case for stripping down naked for pretty much anything but at Dealey Plaza? You’re gonna hafta work and I mean hard. And my friend is right, the lyrics ARE self explanatory. Having said that, there is not ONE lyric in the entire song that alludes to Kennedy, revolutionaries or even independent thinking. In fact, having listened to the album in it’s entirety, there is not ONE song on the whole album, New Amerykah Part two: Return of the Ankh, that isn’t about RELATIONSHIPS. Not one song is about revolution, politics, racism, assassination (neither political or nor character), triumphing the man, being for the people, or bringing social-justice change. None of that. RELATIONSHIPS. The whole album is about the complexity of relationships. Period.
Seriously, folks, the controversy isn’t about freedom of speech, character assassinations, group thinking, or the simultaneous fear, scorn & desire for the beauty of the Black Woman. It’s about, why the hell would you choose to shoot a video where you get butt naked at the JFK assassination site FOR A SONG THAT IS ABOUT: needing a break from life, of wanting to take some time, get away from the lover, the kids, the many people constantly clawing at you, of wanting to leave, not forever but just for right now, to get a little peace of mind. –cuz, that, my friends is what the song is actually about.
In an interview on the, Wanda Sykes Show, Ms. Badu expressed that she felt the song has been grossly misunderstood. I don’t think so. I think everyone clearly understands the song, it’s the video that has people beside themselves. Why? Because it doesn’t make sense. The song and the video do not match, they, for all intents and purposes are two separate art pieces. The minuscule correlations of poetry and old JFK soundbites at the beginning and end of the video do little to explain the choice to bare all at Dealey Plaza because again, the song itself is about RELATIONSHIPS.
So, you have to ask yourself, what’s really happening? Are people outraged or confused? Well, let’s be honest, this is America, so both are true, but the latter is on Badu. Her artistic choice didn’t pan out for this particular project –and she should just own that. In describing JFK as a respected revolutionary, Badu says, “he was not afraid to butt heads with America and I was not afraid to show America my butt naked truth.” That’s all well and good, except the song is about RELATIONSHIPS. Had she shot this exact same video for say, any number of the songs on the New Amerykah Pt One: 4th World War, the impact would have been incredible! It still would have caused controversy but for the right reasons and to a better end. The choice to do it here just falls flat. It reads slightly gratuitous but mostly unnecessary and out of place.
For now, the song has the controversy that will fuel sales but not the impact that I’m sure Ms. Badu was hoping to make. A shame because the song is HOT!