Erykah Badu is the latest celebrity to descend upon a school with a surprise appearance. Eddie Vedder did it at his alma mater, and Beyoncé did it at her daughter’s school fundraiser. Ms. Badu dropped by a Newark high school cafeteria to surprise the students…most of whom appear to have no clue who she is. Apparently, Malcolm X Shabazz High School has a DJ that spins during lunch time. 90’s music aficionados believe it may be time he gives these kids a lesson on hit songs and chart-topping artists from the late 90s and the 2000s.
Badu’s visit was part of her collaboration with The Future Project, which is “a national movement to empower the next generation to build the future, one dream at a time.” Instead of giving a speech, Erykah hit the mic and gave an impromptu performance of her 1997 classic “On and On”. She snags a few bites of food off student’s trays as she wanders through the cafeteria singing.
Check out the moment in the clip below and see the faces of the disinterested kids, especially dude eating his lunch at the table onto which she leaps.
“On & On” is the first single from Badu’s 1997 debut album Baduizm. The song won Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 1998 Grammy Awards. Badu also gave the students a remix of Kanye West’s “Real Friends,” and she teased them with a taste of her forthcoming mixtape by playing some unreleased music from it.
The neo-soul singer recently provoked outrage on social media after suggesting young girls should be forced to wear “knee-length” skirts so as not to distract male teachers, Us magazine reports. She felt compelled to voice her opinion after reading a Newshub article, picked up by The Guardian, about a New Zealand school requiring girls to wear skirts that fall below their knees, so that, according to the deputy principal, they can “keep our girls safe, stop boys from getting ideas and create a good work environment for male staff.”
“There was an article ruling that high school girls lower their skirts so male teachers are not distracted. I agreed because I am aware we live in a sex I-driven society …” Badu wrote on Monday, April 11. “If I had a school I would make sure that the uniform skirt length was a nice knee-length … It is fair to everyone.”
Erykah explained how “Men and women both go thru cycles of arousal. Men automatically are attracted to women of child-bearing age.”
“It is everyone’s, male and female’s responsibility to protect young ladies,” she continued. “One way to protect youth is to remind them we are sexual in nature and as they grow and develop it is natural to attract men.”
Badu’s views seem to only apply to kids she didn’t give birth to, as she contradicted herself several tweets later by saying that her daughters, Puma, 11, and Mars, 7, should be able to “wear what they like, yet be aware.” She then stressed her original opinion and said, “We are sexual beings. We should consider everyone. Young girls are attractive. Some males are distracted.”
— Us Weekly (@usweekly) April 12, 2016
Many interpreted Badu’s comments as perpetuating rape culture. One social media user wrote, “Had to unfollow Erykah Badu for that nonsense she was tweeting. Don’t make young girls responsible for older men’s actions.”
“Good to see the rape culture and misogyny is alive and well in Erykah Badu’s heart,” added another. “Used to like you BYE.”
Erykah Badu is literally entrenching heteronormativity, rape culture and ignorance right now, sobering reminder that we are all problematic.
— Decolonially Queer (@nigeltpatel) April 12, 2016
Erykah Badu may have disheartened many with her statements, others weren’t so shocked by it. After all, this is the same woman who, while playing the host of the 2015 Soul Train Awards, introduced R. Kelly as her “brother,” insisting that he had “done more for the blacks than anyone,” despite court records and evidence that confirm he’s a predator of underage black girls.
[Image courtesy Matt Sayles/Invision/AP]