You’ve got some explaining to do. Fresh off of your hit, “Pretty Girl Rock,” and your amazing Black Girls Rock! performance, where thousands of Black girls cheered you on, you decided to follow it up like this? What can I say, sis, other than WTF?
Let me back up a bit. Although I haven’t been the biggest fan of your music, I’ve been rooting for you. I knew you were a writer—penning hits for everyone from Britney Spears to Usher, and I respected you for that. I respected your hustle and your will to turn your dreams into reality. Anytime a woman comes into her own in a business that so readily aims to use up whatever talent she may have, I’m happy. I’m happy whenever you or Beyoncé, Chrisette, Jasmine or Janelle and any other woman shines. Please know that this critique comes out of love, not hate.
But this video is dangerous. We all know images are powerful, and, as a songwriter, you must know words have the ability to move people. And yet, knowing this, you decided to write a song that reinforces the notion that a woman’s power lies in her body alone.
Keri, I know you don’t need a history lesson. You must know that throughout our long and intricate history in this country, Black women’s bodies have been seen as little more than objects. We’ve been mistakenly viewed as oversexed, promiscuous beings unable to control our urges, or as chattel, only good for work and having babies. We were treated as things, females, rather than human beings who deserve respect. But times have changed. There have been movements for civil rights and women’s rights, and we’ve proved that we are equal to our male counterparts, and should be treated as such.
But then a song such as this comes along and I wonder how far we’ve really come.
Keri, I know sex sells, and I know the music business is very competitive, but there must be a better way to push units than this. Although your aim in the video seems to have been to come off as powerful, as owning your sexuality, I couldn’t help thinking how disempowering this video felt.
Not only do I want my six minutes and forty-two seconds back, but I also want an explanation. How can you, on one hand, inspire young girls, and, on the other sing, about having a “p*ussy that will keep [him] off the streets?” Word, Keri? What part of the game is that?
I understand bravado. I understand bragging, I understand owning your own sexual power, but affirming these types of hyper-sexual, hyper-masculine messages that claim that one’s sexual prowess can keep anyone from cheating or thugging, or is someone’s sole source of power, is extremely problematic. And, yes Keri, even dangerous.
I know you aren’t the only one to do it, sis. To sling sex to sell records, but that doesn’t make it right, does it? And honestly, I expected more from you. You are a songwriter, a producer, a singer, you could write your own ticket, and yet you choose to devolve to the lowest common denominator to sell records.
Keri, what does this video say about our ability as women to make our own way? What does it say about owning our own power? What is this video showing the legions of little girls who follow your every move? What do you want us to think about you, about us, when we watch this joint?
No, every song doesn’t has to be deep. Every jawn doesn’t have to make us discuss the meaning of life. However, while I get my groove on, I want to at least feel good. And, Keri, “The Way You Love Me” makes me feel anything but.
What do you think of Keri’s video & my open letter? Sound Off!
The views expressed in this commentary are solely the opinions of the writer, and not necessarily of CLUTCH.