Erykah Badu has posted a provocative new video to accompany the song "Window Seat." Currently #28 on Billboard's R&B/hip-hop chart, it appears on her latest album New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh.
In the video, Badu walks around Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, her hometown and site of the November, 1963 shooting of President John F. Kennedy. Apparently filmed on St. Patrick's Day, onlookers watch as she slowly removes articles of clothing until a single shot rings out. Badu then falls down naked in the street, near the spot where the presidential motorcade was passing by on that fateful day.
It's an interesting piece of performance art. Gutsy, to say the least, and lucky, too, in that no cops showed up.
UPDATE: The Dallas Morning News reports that city officials say Badu broke the law by not securing a permit for the filming. The paper quotes from her Twitter account, where she feeds that she was making a statement against "groupthink," the "unwritten rule" that "i will not express my true opinion if it opposes those i love and fear." She adds: "i was petrified while shooting this video ... but liberation began to set in. i conquered many fears in that few moments." She said she was "too busy lookin for cops" to be embarrassed by her nudity. "i been naked all along in my words actions and deeds. thats the real vulnerable place."
She said she knew there were children nearby as she was stripping, and added, "i prayed they wouldnt b traumatized."
She also said that adults nearby were yelling at her, "THIS IS A PUBLIC PLACE : YOU OUGHTA BE ASHAMED : PUT YOUR CLOTHES ON : DAMN GIRL! etc."
UPDATE #2: Badu has now given an interview to her local daily. Highlights:
Q: To start, what can you tell me about the thought process behind the video for "Window Seat"?
EB: The song "Window Seat" is about liberating yourself from layers and layers of skin or demons that are a hindrance to your growth or freedom, or evolution. I wanted to do something that said just that, so I started to think about shedding, nudity, taking things off in a very artful way. I am from the theater, and this is just a part of expression to us, a part of art. And I saw a video by a group called Matt and Kim, and it was filmed in Times Square. And I thought it was the bravest, most liberating thing I've ever seen two people do. And I wanted to dedicate this contagious act of liberation and freedom to them. I hoped it would become something contagious that people would want to do in some way or another.
Q: And what was the thinking on the location and the Kennedy element to it?
A: Times Square is the most monumental place in New York, and when I was thinking of monumental places, the grassy knoll was the most monumental place in Dallas I could think of. I tied it in a way that compared that assassination to the character assassination one would go through after showing his or her self completely. That's exactly the action that I wanted to display.
Q: And I take it you knew that there would be a similar real-life reaction when the video was released?
A: Yeah. I knew that would happen, so as soon as the thought came to my mind, I decided to assassinate myself as a gesture. Because it was going to happen anyway. The video is a prediction of what is happening now.