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Miles Marshall Lewis: Badu Bares All for "Window Seat"
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Monday, March 29, 2010

Badu Bares All for "Window Seat"

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Erykah Badu bares her booty in the name of art? What have we here?

At the stroke of 3:33 on Saturday, débuted “Window Seat,” a clip for the midtempo first single to New Amerykah Pt.2: Return of the Ankh, out this week. Acknowledging its inspiration from “Matt and Kim” (more on them later) in its opening frame, director Kareem Johnson then begins “Window Seat” with Badu parking her Lincoln Continental on St. Patrick’s Day, somewhere near Dealey Plaza in Dallas: the infamous “grassy knoll” where JFK was assassinated.

We hear the famous KBOX live radio announcement from November 22, 1963, moments before President Kennedy was killed: “The president’s car is now turning onto Elm Street, and it will be only a matter of minutes before he arrives at the TradeMart. I was on Stemmons Freeway earlier, and even the freeway was jam-packed with spectators waiting their chance to see the president as he made his way toward the TradeMart.”

Badu pays her meter as the song begins, walking slowly but assuredly down the street. Then she starts to undress. First her shades, then her jacket, shoes, purple hoodie. Then she crosses the street and strips her shirt, revealing a black bra and an EVOLVING tattoo across her back. Then the pants go, Badu strolling in bra and panties. She’s thick, but she told you that. (See “Booty.”) Then the bra goes. Then, the panties. And Badu takes a few more strides completely naked, bystanders relatively tame about the whole thing. Then, a bang.

Badu falls to the ground, blue blood spilling out of her head spelling GROUPTHINK. For those of us a little slower on the uptake, we get this voiceover:

“They play it safe. Are quick to assassinate what they do not understand. They move in packs, ingesting more and more fear with every act of hate on one another. They feel most comfortable in groups, less guilt to swallow. They are us. This is what we have become. Afraid to respect the individual. A single person within a circumstance can move one to change, to love our Self, to evolve.”

Beat that, Lady Gaga! Twitter immediately blew up, followed by Facebook once “Window Seat” got uploaded to YouTube. Using Twitter herself—she’s @fatbellybella—Erykah vowed to follow the first 100 Twitter users with dope definitions of groupthink (first defined by journalist William H. Whyte in a 1952 Fortune magazine).

Less than an hour ago, Erykah started explaining herself a little. She told her kids what she was about to do before the shoot; discussed it with her moms; checked her panties before stripping off her sweats because she “didn’t remember what kind of undies i wore that day.”

But what does it all mean?

You tell me, I wanna hear from you.

To me, it’s not that heavy. I mean, what could it mean? We generally make these things deeper than they have to be. On my first viewing, I saw it as the death of selling ass as a way to sell units. (Lady Gaga gets a lil naked too in her (yes, fabulous) new video, “Telephone.”) Along with that, a healthy dose of food for thought about groupthink. Which is mob mentality. Which most of us know all about already, but might school the young’uns a little, once (if?) they get beyond the shock of Badu’s ass.

See for yourself:

Then, for extra credit, peep the excellent 2009 video clip that Erykah admitted “inspired” it, Matt & Kim’s “Lessons Learned”:


RBeezy at 12:58 AM on 03/29/10:

In my eyes Erykah lobbed a slow underhand over the fat part of the plate for her detractors. But like a horse with blinders on, they’re too rabid in their comments to realize that they’re the punchline.

It’s more comfortable to focus on the obvious – Badu’s rear, her seemingly “public” undressing, than to gather the clues that would make you ask why this video was created. Groupthink is the absence of individual thought. It allows for a ready answer to the questions we fear.

I view this video as a litmus test for the power of the person versus the collective.

And it’s a shoutout to Matt & Kim.

MML at 1:09 AM on 03/29/10:

i see the same, RBeezy. the whole moral of badu’s story reminds me of a speech sly stone gave once upon a time to the audience at woodstock, about not following the next man.

The Man From Kazakhstan at 10:23 AM on 03/29/10:

The “Evolving” tatoo made me think of a news article in today’s Spanish press. I shall translate the headline and the first paragraph:

Silvio Rodriguez demands changes in Cuba and a revision of “lots of things”

The Cuban artist, traditional defender of the Castro revolution, presented on Friday in La Habana his new record ‘Segunda Cita’ (“Second Date”)

Cuba needs a change. It is demanding “screaming for a revision of lots of things, lots of concepts, even institutions” acknowledged in La Habana singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez, one the the Cuban artists who has more vehemently defended Fidel Castro’s revolution.

Silvio presented on Friday “Second Date”, his newest CD, that cointains songs like “Become a Lady”,

its lyrics ask for “what was a duty must be free” and demands openly to go further from “the R of revolution”. “The evolution” must prevail,

said the singer during a press conference.

The full article in Spanish:

The Man From Kazakhstan at 10:33 AM on 03/29/10:

On a musical level, great song!

I can see her singing “Window Seat” while a man sings “Stay With Me” (written by Ragovoy/Weiss, best version by Lorraine Ellison) and then a friend / Greek chorus sings “Get It While You Can”(written by Ragovoy/Shuman, best version by Howard Tate).

MML at 2:58 PM on 03/29/10:

reminds me of a long-ago saul williams concert i saw in NYC many years ago. a fan screamed “revolution!” during a lull in the show. saul grabbed the microphone and yelled back, “evolution!”

The Man From Kazakhstan at 10:12 PM on 03/30/10:

OK, I have done my duty and bought the album.

Here is the link to the very cool poster for the official album release party.

Slavebfree at 10:11 AM on 04/26/10:

I so understand group think and “pack” behavior. I deal with its destructive energy every day. Pack attack’s work in packs of two, three and so on – and typically target those who are outside the pack. ie., non-whites and etc. Groupthinkers lack courage and support Groupthink violence and the Groupthink way of life. Groupthinkers enjoy the benefits of being born into the groupthink family. Dig my Vibe!

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