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Featured Politics

Badu’s Window Seat causes a storm


A couple of weeks ago we posted about Erykah Badu’s new album and linked to her newest video.  The video, for a track called Window Seat was a teeny bit more controversial than I expected.

In the video, Badu walks through downtown Dallas and strips her clothes off in slow motion.  Now, most people would figure that this was either a) Fake and done on a soundstage somewhere or b) Staffed with extras and cleared with the locals.  It was neither.

Badu just guerilla filmed this video, strolling through Dallas while stripping in public and eventually collapsing at the scene of JFK’s assassination.  A political statement, to be sure.

But let’s go through this step by step.  Start with the video itself:

Why do it at all?

NPR’s The Two Way writes that:

Badu, a Dallas native, tells the Morning News that Dealey Plaza was chosen intentionally because the video — for her song Window Seat — is about “the character assassination one would go through after showing his or her self completely.”

This is entirely possible, but it’s also a bit far-fetched in my mind.  Character assassination has definitely been occurring after this video, with lots of accusations and questions about why Badu would do such a thing.

The Nudity

This is probably the biggest thing on people’s minds.  Why would she get naked?  The Police apparently have begun an investigation after receiving complaints, and it’s possible that Badu will wind up with a fine.  Considering the video clearly shows kids in the immediate area, I understand why parents were concerned.  Nudity is not always a big deal, and some are making the argument that nudity has earned itself a bad rap.

NPR’s Tell Me More quotes TheRoot.com

And then there’s this interesting take from our friends at TheRoot.com, written by Natalie Hopkinson.

And here’s a perspective from one of our own, Tell Me More producer Jasmine Garsd:

“I think the issue here is that she’s chilling naked in a non-sexual way. People are so used to seeing over-sexualized, exploited women on TV so people freak out when they see a woman just naked, relaxing, with cellulite, some tummy (she looks great though) — ESPECIALLY a woman of color. You are supposed to be writhing next to 50 Cent all oiled up. You are supposed to be oversexed, having Nelly swipe a credit card in your butt. You are not supposed to just be naked, walking. It’s too humanizing. And even if you are not a woman of color, you are supposed to be Britney writhing half naked with a snake promising you are a virgin. How is this any less sexual than Beyonce’s new video with Gaga, or any rap video? If anything, it’s less exploitative.“

This is definitely an interesting take on the issue.  Part of me honestly does agree that it’s a bit less exploitative simply because it doesn’t sexualize the nudity.  Badu’s always been a bit unpredictable and also a bit of an exhibitionist.  At the same time, she’s not necessarily known as someone who uses her sex as a way to sell her albums in a way that many stars do today.  In this video, despite her being nude, you don’t get the sense that she’s sexing things up.

Instead, you get the feeling that she’s very comfortable in her own skin.  I honestly think I wouldn’t be nearly as intrigued by this video had it not been for the JFK link.

The JFK Link

Now, Badu quickly went on the defensive after accusations that she was disrespecting JFK.  On the Wanda Sykes Show, Badu made her passionate defence.  Pitchfork quotes her:

Talking to Sykes, Badu defended the video, claiming “that’s what performance art is about… I think my point was grossly misunderstood all over the United States of America.” She also said that she wasn’t doing it to disrespect Kennedy’s memory, calling him “one of my heroes” and “a revolutionary, a rebel.” She goes on to say that Kennedy was “not afraid to butt heads with America, and I was not afraid to show America my butt naked truth.”

You can see the video of her interview with Sykes on a BET blog here.

Like I was saying, I don’t think the video concerns me for anything except the faux shooting.  I’m not easily scandalized, and video otherwise is fine.  I get why people are concerned, but Badu is no stranger to controversy so I don’t think it’s unexpected.  After listening to her interview with Wanda Sykes, you can hear she genuinely does respect JFK and that she probably wasn’t trying to disrespect him.  Even so, I think the video would have been a legitimate hit and a more subtle message if she had done this minus the gunshot/collapse at the end.  Just my two cents.

I wonder if ?uestlove had any idea what he was getting himself into when he collaborated with her for this track.

Awareness Music

Blogger Takes On Popular Music Blogs

Earlier today, Pitchfork reported that Blogger, the venerable Google-owned blogging service, has shut down several music blogs, including Pop Tarts Suck Toasted, I Rock Cleveland, Living Ears and It’s a Rap (none of which I have admittedly ever visited).  Apparently, the free music offered on the blogs violated Blogger’s terms of services.  As of about 11 a.m. PST, attempts to visit the blogs returned one-line ‘Blog not found’ error messages.

The website The Daily Swarm has compiled several responses to the move, as well as a copy of an email sent from Blogger to I Rock Cleveland and the blogger’s reply.

Obviously, this story is still unfolding.  Whether or not it represents the opening salvos in a new crackdown on illegal music sharing remains to be seen, but hopefully it’s an aberration that won’t have any wider implications.


Desperate Man Blues

Pitchfork TV has a quick trailer about Desperate Man Blues.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s a documentary about Joe Bussard, one of the most prolific record collectors in recent memory.

This guy collected 25,000 records, mainly blues, folk and gospel.  In fact, he ran a record label that tried to reissue many of these old recordings.

He probably did more to preserve music than almost anyone I can think of.  It’s a pretty fascinating look at what drives someone to do that.  Check it out below, and do your best to find a copy of the full documentary.


OiNK Users arrested

In case you haven’t heard, OiNK was an “invite only” file sharing service that got to be pretty huge.  For many, this was the dream situation.  A closed network of users sharing high quality music.   These were mainly people who cared greatly about music,  and shared all kinds of rare and obscure bands.

But, when it boiled down to it, it was still piracy.  Or so the IFPI says.

Apparently six British former users of the site have been arrested for allegedly sharing music via the service.  They’re currently out on bail and awaiting charges.  It’s a pretty terrifying prospect I guess, and definitely a step up from the broad-scale suing of file sharers happening in the US.

Apparently this all went down in conjunction with the organized crmie office, and was a part of Operation Ark Royal.  Pretty scary stuff.

[Source: Pitchfork]


Common drops new album!

Ladies and gentlemen.  Boys and girls.  Hip hop heads and Puff Daddy fans.

Common, that illustrious, fantastic Chi-town rapper has announced that his new album Invincible Summer will be dropping on June 24th.  This announcement really came out of no where.  Pitchfork broke the news today.

Common hasn’t exactly been consistent the last few years, dropping some albums which were definitely better than others.  Be and Finding Forever were both pretty stellar but Electric Circus before that really…wasn’t.  I absolutely appreciate Common’s attempt to expand his horizons and explore new talents, so I was totally willing to give it all a listen.

Pitchfork is also saying that Kanye West did not produce this album.  I’m honestly not a huge Kanye fan, but I’ll be one of the first to admit that his beats are pretty catchy.  He’s got some semblance of a Timbaland-touch when it comes to making beats for other artists too.  Despite his overuse of samples of kids singing, he did a pretty decent job for Common so far.  Instead, Mr. DJ (of Outkast fame) and apparently the Neptunes will step up to the plate.

I’ve got to admit I’m pretty excited for this album to drop.

Those of you who loved Common’s acting in American Gangster, he’s got a job acting in the new Terminator movie (across from Christian Bale apparently).  This is also another good sign, and yet another thing that makes it seem like him and Andre Benjamin are having a life rivalry.   First they both date Erykah Badu, they both release award winning hip hop albums, and they both do their best to act in as many films as possible.

So far, though I love Andre, I think Common is winning.