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Erykah Badu's New Music Video Stirs Controversy
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Erykah Badu's New Music Video Stirs Controversy

Music News

Erykah Badu's New Music Video Stirs Controversy
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The singer Erykah Badu's newly released music video is causing a sensation and not just because of the music.

(Soundbite of song, "Window Seat")

Ms. ERYKAH BADU (Singer/Songwriter): (Singing) And a safe touch down...

NORRIS: In the five-minute video for the song "Window Seat," Badu slowly takes off all her clothes - all her clothes, while walking through the streets of Dallas. But not just any street. Badu parades through Dealey Plaza and feigns being shot near the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated.

Robert Wilonsky is a senior writer with the Dallas Observer. He's a big fan of Erykah Badu, and he joins us now.

Welcome to the program.

Mr. ROBERT WILONSKY (Senior Writer, Dallas Observer): Thanks for having me.

NORRIS: What have you learned about the making of that video?

Mr. WILONSKY: Well, we learned, she made it St. Patrick's Day weekend. We learned that she did it in one take with one cameraman. And we learned that a lot of people have a lot of things to say about a five-minute music video meant to promote an album that is coming out today.

NORRIS: And what kind of things are they saying?

Mr. WILONSKY: You know, it's been interesting here, especially given that she filmed this video at Dealey Plaza, obviously, the site of Kennedy assassination in November of 1963. That is very much the reason why she chose that particular site. As she has said in interviews since the video was released that she went down there because she figured that, well, she would be victim of her own character assassination following this video's release, and that certainly seem to be the case.

NORRIS: I understand city officials have now weighed in. Was this legal?

Mr. WILONSKY: Well, she did not do it with a permit. In fact, I'm not quite sure that I thought much of it until yesterday morning. We have a music blog at the Dallas Observer where our music editor posted the video and I had already seen it over the weekend and thought very interesting. This is the Erykah Badu I have known ever since she was Erykah Wright in the mid-'90s. I would think I was the first person to ever interview her shortly after she left her job at a Greenville Avenue coffee house.

But about 11 o'clock yesterday morning, city hall sent down a memo saying that this was not authorized and in fact because she was naked and the cops had stopped her, she would have in fact been arrested because this is illegal. And I think that's when people really started to raise their collective eyebrows, going, gosh, did Erykah break the law? Well, ostensibly, I guess she did. But she wasn't arrested and she is not going to be arrested now.

But we're simply going to sit here and talk about her for a few days and after that, we'll probably forget all about it.

NORRIS: At face, what was she trying to say?

Mr. WILONSKY: That's a good question, in as much as that we sit here and try to examine an artist's intentions when in fact all we can really examine at the end of the day is our reaction to them. What was she trying to say? I think she was trying to say something about revealing herself, about bearing her soul, about the response and reactions that her music provides and provokes in all of us.

But ultimately, whenever an artist does something this provocative, it simply reflects back upon us. The thing I like most about it is the fact that if nothing else for a few days, Dealey Plaza is no longer known as the place where John Kennedy was killed, but it's simply known as the place where Erykah Badu got naked.

NORRIS: And made art.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WILONSKY: And made art.

NORRIS: Is this the beginning of a trend? Are we going to be seeing a lot more of these kinds of videos?

Mr. WILONSKY: I hope. Is that wrong?

NORRIS: You know, it's your answer, embrace it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Window Seat")

NORRIS: Robert Wilonsky is a senior writer with the Dallas Observer. Mr. Wilonsky, thanks so much.

Mr. WILONSKY: My pleasure.

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