Chew on This! Erykah Badu & 3lw’s Kiely Williams are selling Shock Value – Who’s Buying??

Sex sells; we all know this. Whether it is Beyonce popping her hips in a tight leotard, Usher grabbing a dancer’s buttocks in his latest video or Lady Gaga prancing around in a thong and not much else; skin, sex, simulation of sex and lust is everywhere in today’s entertainment industry. Being an adult, I have no gripes with these artists promoting their sexuality; there is nothing wrong with it, in essence. And since music is a form of art and entertainment, I believe it is important for Artists to be able to express themselves fully. The thing is, this is 2010 and the music industry is not as it was. Contemporary artists in the 90s like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion were able to sell tens of millions of albums without playing the sex card; they were more known for their classic voices. In today’s industry, talent is not enough. Even seasoned artists are finding it necessary to stir the pot of controversy to stay relevant.  It is not just enough to have a hit record – it has been a while since we have heard a really good hit record! Artists are finding they have to build a buzz, expose their personal life or downright act a fool to sell a record!

Two weeks ago, R&B’s rebel Erykah Badu released the video for her new single Window Seat from her new album, New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh. Watch the video:

First off, I like the song! It is mellow, easy listening with meaningful lyrics. As for the video I can get past Erykah stripping nude; I could care less, she looks good. But when I heard she actually filmed the video in broad daylight, walking nekkid past tourists and their families at the site of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, I was shocked. I thought she had filmed the video in front of a green screen. My first thought was, this is in bad taste. Erykah not only used her body, she used the lack of sense and common decency and disguised her actions as ‘Art’. In my opinion, I did not see what message I was supposed to learn from her being ‘shot’ in the end as she lay butt nekkid on the pavement in front of a crowd of white people. Later, the Dallas police charged Erykah with disorderly conduct. Of the incident, Erykah remarked,

My point was grossly misunderstood all over America. J.F.K. is one of my heroes, one of the nation’s heroes. John F. Kennedy was a revolutionary; he was not afraid to butt heads with America, and I was not afraid to show America my butt-naked truth.

Ummmm ok.

Window Seat peaked at #95 on the Billboard 100 in the US, #26 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs and #50 on the charts in Japan. #WhenHoeSh*tGoesWrong

You can read a more thorough explanation of Window Seat’s message here.

Barely a week after Erykah’s fiasco died down, Kiely Williams, former member of 3lw (whose biggest hit included No More *Baby I”mma Do Right) and Disney’s Cheetah Girls (where she experienced much success) also released a controversial video. Titled Spectacular, the small-budgeted video features Kiely doing the walk of shame after a night of ‘spectacular’ sex where she slept with a man she met while intoxicated the night before.

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In the video, Kiely dances provocatively in sparkly hot pants as she sings,

You can say what you want but
You can call me a slut but
What he did to me last night felt so good
I must have been on drugs
I hope he used a rubber
Or I’mma be in trouble

Ok Kiely. Did I mention she was a Disney star? Oh well, everyone has to ‘grow up’ sometime, right? What makes it better is after all the attention and feedback (mostly negative) Kiely received about the video and song, she decided to flip the script and release a statement:

kielyTV: “I am an actor and performer. I have been so since my first role in a television pilot at five years old. I played a character when I was a Cheetah Girl. I am playing a character in the music video for the song Spectacular, as I did in the Cheetah Girl movies. Young women across the country get intoxicated and have unprotected sex. That’s a fact. I recorded the song to bring attention to this frighteningly prevalent activity. It is absurd to infer or suggest that I am condoning this behavior.

Are Lady Gaga and Beyonce advocating murder with the Telephone video? Of, course not. Was Rihanna encouraging suicide with Russian Roulette? No. Was Madonna suggesting that young unmarried girls get pregnant with Papa Dont Preach? I don’t think so. Is Academy Award winner Monique a proponent of incest because of her portrayal of Mary in the movie Precious. Clearly, the answer is no.

I wrote Spectacular and made the video to bring attention to a serious womens health and safety issue. Please don’t shoot the messenger.”


Yes Kiely, maybe if you did a little PSA before or after the video explaining that you are just portraying a character (a la Jay-z did for his 99 Problems video where he was depicted being shot at) people would not have taken the video so seriously. And I know she is smoking something if she wants to compare herself to ANY of the people she mentioned in her statement. #WeDontBelieveYou

I think the main problem I have with both videos are the blatant attempts by each Artist to gain publicity because their music is not doing enough talking for them. You have to respect the hustle (or their PR group’s hustle) but I’m just not impressed and I’m NOT buying it either. Kiely: you may just be able to sell 15 extra albums, IF people remember you by the time your project drops. And to Erykah: your real fans could care less about the publicity; they just want to hear you sang.

-Lola B.

What do you guys think about both artists and their messages?


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow I had heard about Spectacular before but I didnt know it was that bad..singing, dancing, excuse for butt cheeks lawwwd.
    Kiely is right, I mean there are women who engage in this lifestyle and this song will probably become a big club banger for all of two months. I can already see the sorority girls forming sandwiches on the dancefloor- ugh.
    I didnt see anything wrong with Erykah’s video and I dont see anything wrong with public nudity. I mean I know here in Toronto there was a big controversy over women being allowed to go topless back in the 90s,and women who breastfeed to this day still have to struggle to find breastfeeding friendly places to feed their babies. It seems like the issue is with women exposing their bodies in public I dont know if a male artist would receieve as much heat as Miss Badu has. No one gets mad @ the Jackass boys and they stay naked in their flicks lol. Bottomline I’m comfortable with my nakedness and so is Erykah & So are newborn babies lol. She wasn’t performing any sex act out in public or anything so I have a hard time understanding why a lot of people are appauled. Her stripping off her clothes was symbolic of her stripping off society’s expectations (well at least thats how I interpret it), JFK got assasinated because of his “revolutionary” & liberal policies. I think if it were up to the general public Erykah would be stuck in the Baduizm days singing ON & ON repeatedly over 12 tracks. Her music/style is def an acquired taste.
    Great Topic..sorry for my long response!!! lol

    • I see your points and agree with your take on Badu’s strip show. Maybe I’m a bit of a prude, b/c I stil thought it was too much and solely for publicity…

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