Essence Magazine tweeted Demetria Lucas’ take on e. badu’s latest video for her cover of the Roberta Flack classic “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face.” Lucas basically expressed the same interpretative I have of it; to which I tried to explain to a few folks on Facebook the other night.
When I first viewed the video the other night I immediately liked it. Yes it may be a bit freakish and scare you at first glance, but stop. Take a moment to take it all in and listen to the lyrics. I knew this type of video would not be some people’s cup of tea. I knew that as I went forth and posted it on my Facebook wall. As others began posting the video on Twitter and Facebook, I saw more people cry foul and detest it and less people actually praising it. My own sister-in-law called it demonic, but while respecting her opinion I had to tell her that I wouldn’t be so quick to call it such. Like Lucas, I’m not exactly sure the exact concept Badu was going for, but I knew the presentation has something to do with the creation of life. My interpretation was more literal to the lyrics though;
The Glitter = The stars and the moon she see’s in the guy’s eyes.
The red syrup (blood) = her heart/love that commands his presence
The glaze (semen) = their joy aka their future children that would be shared for the whole world to see and live on as a legacy.
Lucas’ interpretation of the video amid the critics;
It’s a little out there, no doubt, but I can’t fall in line with those outrageous claims because 1) there’s an artistic merit (even if I can’t yet figure out exactly what this art is trying to “say”); and 2) this charge is leveled at Black women by many other Black women every single time one of us decides to disrobe. It doesn’t matter whether it’s for a cause or to make a statement or just to celebrate the Black female form in all its sun-kissed, melanin-infused glory. Instances of Black female nudity always devolve into conversations about sex, slavery, strippers, shame… oh, and Venus Hottentot. It’s as if our unclothed forms can’t be somehow “just” artistic and beautiful like everyone else’s. We always add baggage and “stuff” and make it extra-complicated. - Demetria Lucas
As I just told someone a few minutes ago that also loves the video:
I mean yeah it shocked me at first sighting, but I took it all in, listened to the lyrics and believed that was the concept Badu was going for… creation of life via love. I think what’s hard for a lot of folks to digest is, not even the nudity, but the fact that she bathed in substances that were like blood and semen. Something that’s done on the inside of our bodies during conception was shown point blank out front in the open. A lot of folks can’t wrap their minds around that…I suppose.
Still…I understand if e. badu’s latest art isn’t your thing. It’s cool. I just wish folks were a bit more open instead of instantly calling her out as crazy, demonic or as some have badly joked “trying to stay relevant.” Or at least offer a more constructive critique than just calling her negative buzz words.
This video is mild compared to others I’ve seen that have tried to pass as art, and tip on the line of perhaps being too far gone. I think the symbols presented in this video were symbols of life…very natural.
If it’s not your thing. Cool.
Tagged as: Erykah Badu. First Time I saw Your Face. Essence Magazine. Demetria Lucas.