Reflections: 'Badu Crosses A Line'


By now you have probably seen or at least heard of Erykah Badu’s controversial video for “Window Seat,” a song from her oddly titled album “New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh).”

In the video she walks down a downtown Dallas street and, step by step, takes off all of her clothes. At the point she is naked, she is “shot” by a sniper — in the same spot where John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
The nudity part doesn’t bother me a lot. After all, Badu thrives on  outrageousness, perhaps as much, or more, for shock value  as for art. Plus, there is nothing wrong with the human body, although there is a time and place for being without clothes, and walking down the street is not one of them.

What does bother me is the Kennedy imagery. It is in very poor taste, no matter what message is intended.

But people are talking and the media is covering, which is just what Badu wanted.

USHER said recently that due to marriage, fatherhood, etc., he had “lost a little of his edge,” which he promised to recapture on his new album.

“Raymond v Raymond” is a pretty good set, although not much different from previous albums. But there is plenty of excitement on uptempo songs like “Monster,” “So Many Girls” and, yes, “Lil Freak.”

Slowing down the pace, one has to assume that numbers like “Foolin’ Around” and “Papers” are at least partially connected to Usher’s much publicized failed marriage to Tameka Foster.

Indeed, “Raymond v Raymond” opens with the spoken words, “There’s three sides to every story. There’s one side, there’s the other, and then there’s the truth.”

to Fats Domino, one of the founding fathers of rock ’n’ roll, rhythm ’n’ blues and New Orleans soul. The legendary star recently celebrated his 82nd birthday — and he is still going strong, performing his biggest hits for appreciative audiences, including “Walking to New Orleans,” “Ain’t It a Shame” and the classic “Blueberry Hill.”

Speaking of legendary, “The T.A.M.I. Show,” a historic 1964 concert featuring an array of R&B, pop and rock stars, has been released on home video. It features Marvin Gaye, Lesley Gore, the Supremes, the Rolling Stones, the Miracles and more. (Smokey, unfortunately, is hoarse.)

But the amazing performance is that of James Brown.  It is without question one of the greatest live performances of all time. Brown said it was his best. The soul is raw and the showmanship is masterful.

You won’t believe your eyes and ears as Brown (very slim with a huge pompadour) and the exciting Famous Flames rip through early hits “Out of Sight,” “Prisoner of Love,” “Please Please Please” (including the classic cape routine) and “Night Train.” (This was before Brown crossed over into pop territory.)

Although there is much to enjoy in “The T.A.M.I. Show,” this performance alone makes it well worth its moderate cost.

JILL SCOTT probably expressed the feelings of many Black women when she recently said that it hurts to see “a together brother” with a Caucasian woman (“and their children”).

The word “betrayal” came up, although she also noted, “(We) understand that people of all races find genuine love in many places” and that “the world is full of options.” Still, it’s a reality that stings, she made clear.

That is all valid. However, people are going to be with the people of their choosing, and rightfully so. Being a human being is more important than being Black, White, Hispanic, etc.

Among the celebrities interracially wed or coupled are Seal, Taye Diggs, Robin Thicke, Halle Berry, Alfre Woodard, Cuba Gooding Jr., Iman (to David Bowie), Tiger Woods, George Lucas, Garcelle Beauvais, Robert De Niro, Eva Longoria (to Tony Parker) and Ice-T.

It’s not about society’s “acceptance.” It’s about living your life.

And kudos to Ricky Martin for acknowledging what was widely known in the industry anyway about his sexual orientation.  Bottom line: Who cares!

BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW…that Keith Sweat is a college graduate who once worked for Paine Webber as a commodities broker.

MEMORIES: “Make Me Yours” (Bettye Swann), “Part-Time Lover” (Stevie Wonder), “Always and Forever” (Heatwave), “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” (Billy Ocean), “Funkin’ For Jamaica (N.Y.)” (Tom Browne), “Sing a Simple Song” (Sly & the Family Stone), “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” (Frankie Valli), “Oh No Not My Baby” (Maxine Brown), “Computer Love” (Zapp), “Little Red Corvette” (Prince).

BLESSINGS to Evelyn Browne, Montez Miller, Jim Campbell, Ted Talbert, Frank Pettis, Robin Larkin, Milton Larkin, Franklin Mills, Carolyn Street, Norman Thrasher and Ernest Kelley.

WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Malcolm X: “I’m for truth, no matters who tells it.”

Let the music play!

(Steve Holsey can be reached at and PO Box 02843, Detroit, MI 48202.)


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