Necessary Fierceness

29 Mar

Its not my day to post but recent events caused me the catch the spirit and pick up the laptop.

If you haven’t heard, Erykah Badu released the video to her second song  off her 6th studio Album (Release party @ the crib tomorrow, feel free to roll through) New Amerykah Part II: Return of the Ankh.

*spoiler alert*

In the video, she gets naked. Actually, its not that simple.

A more accurate statement would be that she gets real vulnerable.

We know this not just because of what we see on screen but because of what she has been tweeting about for most of the month. Erykah lets us in to the must private pieces of herself. We witness her thought process, her checking in with friends, family, babies, and their daddies about what she is about to do. She’s not asking for permission but letting them know as people are bound to talk and not surprisingly, the web is already filled with people slinging hate her way.

Some folks say she copied Matt and Kim. She says that. She says that the video was inspired by what they did. And frankly what she did seems a lot more intentional and connected to what her relationship with the world is. Additionally, Erykah is reaching a completely different audience than Matt and Kim. One of her tweets led me to this response to the video by someone who is not a part of Matt and Kim’s demographic and was able to garner her own meaning from the video. I love that about Erykah. She reaches people where they are while simultaneusly creating  a horizontal loving line that pushes them a bit from where they are.

This album and the one before are incantations. She is using her magic to save her people and get folks to wake up and shake that load off that is groupthink and others expectations. She is being brave even when she’s petrified and creating the world she wants to see by daring her audience to push just as she has in her own town!

She’s f*cking fierce!

Read other praise by M dot and Summer M!

14 Responses to “Necessary Fierceness”

  1. summer of sam March 29, 2010 at 11:16 AM #

    moyab, love this. thanks for the shout out.

  2. crunktastic March 29, 2010 at 12:19 PM #

    I just watched the video today. Wow! She is really challenging us to think about our relationships to the larger world, and about our vulnerability. And it was such a breath of fresh air to see to a Black woman in a music video expose her body on her own terms for her own purposes. Do you think that this is a productive redirection of the gaze?

  3. L'Boogie March 29, 2010 at 3:29 PM #

    totally agree that fierceness is necessary and that erykah is tremendously fierce. but perhaps, despite and because of her celebrity (& hutzpah), it’s easy to isolate her as doing something we’re not yet capable/ready/available to do.

    and while everyone might not get nekkid in public, i think this video is a fabulous opportunity for folks (particularly those who appreciate it) to ask ourselves how we’re pushing and expanding beyond our own comfort zones.

    my beloved homeskillet christa bell’s new religion: Sheism (,

    her workshop Forty Days and Forty Nights: The Dicktox, a six-week transformational fast from external masculine systems,

    & her new performance piece “come commune” ( really inspire me to think about risks, vulnerability, creative expression and courage–especially when we don’t have 5 albums behind us or a multi-billion dollar record label with our back.

    don’t get me wrong i LOVELOVELOVE erykah, the new video and almost all of her music (“green eyes” and “me” get on my nerves) but i’m wondering how we can begin to shift from making it about her and actually begin to embody the message.

  4. susiemaye March 29, 2010 at 4:34 PM #

    Thanks for this, moyazb.

    Here’s an interesting mainstream media take on Badu’s video:

    As the comments at the end of that article suggest, some folks are not ready to dialogue about what her video might represent. I am glad that there are spaces, like this blog, where that can happen!

  5. Aisha Durham March 30, 2010 at 8:40 PM #

    Thanks Moya. You’re always on point!

    I posted this to FB earlier. Just wanted to share a thought about the video.

    *Uncovering Ownership*

    In disrobing, Badu uncovers truths about the “form” and “function” of the black woman’s body in the public sphere.

    She is nude on her terms. (So folks are pissed off.) She is naked within her own narrative. (So folks are still pissed off because they are unsure of how to “consume” her naked black female body outside of a framework of sexual commodification that is the staple of the misogynist hip hop dreamworld.)

    News accounts continue to emphasize the desecration of the JFK site (because her “deviant” black body has defiled a sacred site — as opposed to the actual assassin who murdered a president that created the site in the first place). Here, I suggest the performance actually asks us to re-member bodies. She re-members herself. She recalls herself. In a way, she calls attention to the body politic for black women. His dead body is unforgettable, yet US blackgirls who will walk the same city street tomorrow will be forgotten today. There are tourists checking out the JFK site. Who is checking up-in-on us? Whose bodies do we remember? What bodies are even “worth” memorializing? (And this is why I think the nods to “archival footage” and documentary style are dope in the video.)

    News accounts also highlight nudity in the public sphere. We don’t even have to go there. I am laughing to keep from screaming. What the public debate is “really” about is ownership — corporeal ownership. Badu takes ownership of her body and takes ownership for the ways “her” body is represented. And for any body who believes they can “own” her or have a piece of her — the physical, psychic, emotional, sexual, creative, intellectual, reproductive, gendered part of her — Badu says no: I’on me.

    You gotta love it. You gotta love Badu!

  6. moyazb March 31, 2010 at 9:45 AM #

    Erykah on 106 & Park totally dealing with the groupthink that is the mindset of co-hosts Rocsi and Terrence.

    I find it so interesting that people have such a reaction to her stripping and people really don’t know how to think about her act outside of a sexual connotation “damn E got a fat ass” as opposed to dealing with the statement she was trying to make.

  7. Straight Gangsterism April 6, 2010 at 8:56 PM #

    I think this was simply a successful attempt to make herself relevant again. Hopefully, her naked body will garner her some more sales. I know her last album sales weren’t cuttin it on Universal Motown.

    I applaud the sacrifices she makes for her art, but I’d call the police if she got naked in front of my kids.


  8. MB April 6, 2010 at 9:41 PM #


    I find it so interesting that people rush to equate her nudity with something lascivious and want to invoke “kids” as a way to justify condemning her actions.

    Check out what one kid had to say about it.

  9. Straight Gangsterism April 6, 2010 at 10:56 PM #

    Why would I care about what a 5 year-old thinks about the video? They don’t have the intellectual nor moral development to determine what’s appropriate or inappropriate. That’s why they are parented.

    I don’t need a reason to condemn her actions. I don’t want to condemn her in general. However, in this case I feel she was wrong.

    I totally see this as a successful marketing ploy. She’s now receiving more attention than she’s had in years. Plenty of artists use their bodies to sell records. That’s just part of the game. It’s just that Badu has been able to frame it as something intellectual.

    I’m not dismissing her discourse about “groupthink.” However, given that she is an intelligent woman, you cannot tell me that she didn’t see the financial rewards of taking her clothes off. She played this very well. Totally a win/win situation.

  10. MB April 7, 2010 at 7:08 AM #

    I thought you might care b/c this mythical child or even your literal children are imagined as being incapable of understanding things that they actually do.

    Why do you equate a 5 year old’s relationship to nudity, sometimes its cool sometimes its not, with a lack of intellect and moral development? What is it about nudity that seems immoral to you that would make you call the police? Also, since when are the police accountable arbiters of morality?

    I guess we will agree to disagree on the “wrong” that Erykah has committed. Would love to be proven wrong but I’ve yet to see how this has impacted CD/track sales in her favor. Maybe the billboard charts take a second to update but I don’t see her name at the top of any chart lists. She’s also made it clear that she and many other artists don’t make their money from CD sales anymore because folks get their music through a lot of different venues, many of which don’t involve the artists getting a cut.

    People sure are talking but I’ve yet to see how she’s benefited. More twitter friends? Does that equal record sales? Not yet apparently…

  11. Straight Gangsterism April 7, 2010 at 8:50 AM #

    You’re right. We’ll just agree to disagree on the issue of children.

    As far as its impact on sales, I’m gonna quote my homegirl:

    “What I’ve found to be more interesting than the video (and the album) is the discourse about it. It’s amazing, with this video E.Badu has everyone talking. Whether they are decrying her nakedness and guerilla video shooting tactics or praising her protruding posterior, everyone has an opinion. According to google, there are over 1,000+ news articles referencing the video. I can’t imagine the number of blogs (including this one) on the subject. And of course there is this entertaining post on Erykah Badu-affiliated site And then just in case I was living under a rock, @abc tweeted me about the video. I mean, damn. You can’t buy this kind of publicity” (

    Furthermore, according to Hits Daily Double, she’s sold 112,000 units in the week since the album’s release ( That’s already almost a 1/3 of what her last album sold.

    Smart business move…

  12. MB April 7, 2010 at 9:37 AM #

    Word. Thanks for the chart reference! I guess we will then just agree to disagree on whether money was the motive.


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