Sunday, February 13, 2011

Erykah Badu: a Commentary on a Commentary

'In the woods' = De La Soul's tastefully veiled phrase for gettin' it on. And a great song, vulgar in a completely old school way, like when they chant 'stick the bush...stick the bush...'

I was googling about Erykah Badu today and I found a fascinating, and hilarious, forum post about her somewhere. If you're not familiar, in a way you could say she's the undisputed queen of hip hop... She tours eight months out of every year and has collaborated with almost everybody. At the same time she has a mystical vibe which keeps everyone guessing, and a distinct hippie Lil Kim or Nicki Minaj, she's always changing her hair and wearing radical outfits, but she doesn't present herself as a sex kitten, exactly. She's more of a philosopher, an intellectual--she appeals more to people who smoke a lot of weed and read political books, and she doesn't get a lot of play in clubs.

In any case, she's also really gorgeous, and her beauty is not separable from her talent and the undeniable eccentricity which she's always displaying. She's been seriously involved with Common and Andre 3000 of Outkast, two of the biggest names in hip hop, and now she's with another rapper.

So the guy was arguing in his forum post that there's something about her sex, about having sex with her, that completely changes guys, and he based his findings on the music of Common and Andre 3000, pre- and post-Erykah. Here's the post:

is it just me or did Erykah Badu turn sexy?

Maybe I'm trippin, I didnt use to be all that attracted to her, but I saw her recently on some show or magazine or something and I remember being like, "I dont know what it is about her but I really would like to impregnate her"

maybe its that voodoo that she hit Common and Andre 3000 with that made them all crazy! She sees something she wants and then she transforms their preferences to include her look.

yep, Erykah wants me.

She has to have the bomb cooch! Think about it. The sheer exposure to it will change a Timb & hoody wearin emcee into a vegitarian, art fruit who refuses to wear anything that a black man should ever wear. Its wild! Not only that, but the badu-snatch affects musical output of whatever victim she chooses so much so that it should have a production credit:

"Between Me, You & Liberation" – 6:23

* Featuring Cee-Lo
* Produced by ?uestlove, James Poyser, Jay Dee, Pino Palladino, and Erykah Badu's Vagina


You really have to listen to their music to understand the change, and it is remarkable. But here's a visual cue:
Andre before, on the right:

Andre after:

This argument taps into all the male fantasies, and fears, about love: on the one hand, it will change you, on the other hand, it might sap you of all of your manhood, because all of your creativity will belong, ultimately, to the inspiration of the Earth Mother Vagina who you will worship for eternity. I would say that this sentence describes a straight man's greatest hope and greatest fear at the same time.

But then there's the whole question of the aristocracy of taste, as Pierre Bourdieu put it. How classy of a woman do you want? For some of the respondents to the post, Erykah Badu is, maybe, too classy, or too intellectual, and, therefore, crazy. For lots of men, you don't want a woman who is more avant garde than you, who is so creative that she can take a good rapper and turn him into a weirdo, who is, nonetheless, still a good rapper.

But if creativity isn't sexy, what is? If a woman is not creative, what's left? And if her creativity falls solely within the boundaries of the 'domestic'--cooking, cleaning, giving sexual favors--is she still creative? Is Erykah Badu sexually unique, like the post would imply, or is the change she solicits in her former lovers an effect of her philosophy, her music, or both at once?

What we are approaching is the limit-point of gender as the unity of opposites. These comforting and oppressive oppositions, between looks and personality, emotions and sexuality, aggressiveness and passiveness, which so predictably structure gender relations are beginning to unravel. It is no longer possible for a straight man, unless he is a complete fucking idiot, to look for looks alone in a woman, just as a woman can no longer be passive the whole way through.


  1. I disagree with your conclusion about any era we're reaching, but I think that's just a difference in belief systems.
    I've thought a lot about this subject and, being the ever petrified/controlling male that I am, I am trying to find a way to utilize the transformative power of 'love' while avoiding the 'losing one's mind' part. I'm trying to figure out how I can turn it so that love's effect on me is under my control. It seems unnatural and insincere, but I think that this is the most human way of doing it. In the same way our ancestors imitated a lion's claw and then improved on it as the multifaceted (and potentially creative rather than purely destructive) knife. It will be an inferior love until I have mastered it though.
    Thumbs up for hypnotic artist chicks.

  2. Nvm, I was just misunderstanding what you meant about the coming of an era. I rescind.

  3. yea I hear where ur comin from want to be careful about it

  4. Exactly... kinda. Literally, I want to be careful, full of care. I don't want to fall, I want to make a conscious affirmation by jumping. Everyone tells me that that takes away the magic or something. I don't really listen to them.