“Brown skin, you know I love your brown skin. I can’t tell where yours begins, I can’t tell where mine ends.”
”I like a long-haired thick red bone, open up her legs then filet mignon that ….”
“When you come wrap them chocolate legs ’round me. Please baby, wrap them chocolate legs ’round me”
“She’s my, redbone girl. A bitter sweet, but she’s my world Coffee cream, thick and lean…”
“So all my redbones get on the floor, and all my yellow bones get on the floor, and all my brown bones get on the floor”
Most likely you’re familiar with at least one of the lyrics above. You’ve probably danced to a line or two when the song came on, and expectantly reveled in the fact that someone was singing a song about you and your skin tone. But in celebrating your lovely shade of brown, be it red, yellow, or tawny, did that mean you were simultaneously knocking those of a different hue?
That’s the criticism singers get whenever they make a song about black women and the many colors of the brown rainbow we come in. It’s one thing when we’re talking about Weezy, who is so far up the red bone tree I’m not even sure he realizes the women he’s been seen with as of late aren’t even light-skinned, they’re just straight up white. But even Eric Benet has felt the heat when he sang admiration for those of a lighter hue. He wasn’t talking about exotic yellow b****es like Wayne, although I’m sure it didn’t help to have him on the track, he was simply admiring his coffee cream, as opposed to the chocolate legs he was in between on the last song. But we all now how ill-received that effort was. Light-skin woman can’t get any shine when it comes to lyrics without an assumption that the songwriter admonishes those who are darker.
It’s not hard to understand. Light-skin women get enough shine as it is, right? Do we really need to shout them out in songs too? I imagine that’s how the criticism goes from those not in said light-bright group as they quickly turn the station to India Arie and think about their gorgeous brown skin against a man with a matching tan. And we know why these songs exist. If magazines, advertisements, television shows, and movies are going to keep acting like the only colors black women come in are honey and caramel, then dammit somebody coffee brown or mahogany is going to make sure somebody knows they love their skin and why. It’s all self-expression and it’s all love — as long as the object of desire has enough pigment to be celebrated.
For some reason we look at all of these songs as some sort of separator, and I’ll be honest when it comes to rap lyrics and what type of chick they want to pop it for a real ninja, there usually is some sort of preference being expressed. But when we’re just shouting out skin tones, color shades and the like as a part of who we are, what’s the problem? Everybody get’s their turn, again maybe not in some rap lyrics, but we can all think of a track where some artist wanted a woman just like us and we promptly shouted “heeyyyyy” to the beat. And if we’re being honest, do you really want to be hypersexualized as a light-skinned woman in a Kanye lyric? Trust me, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, especially when men in real life think it’s endearing to come up to you and profess their love for light-skin chicks like you’re supposed to be flattered. Get ya life, and some chocolate in it, preferably. But all jokes aside, we know the scales are tipped in the preference category, but there’s still plenty of love to go around and share. There’s a clear difference between derogatory and discriminatory lyrics about skin tone and if we can celebrate the lyrics that praise darker tones right, let’s also be cool with the songs that acknowledge the beauty (not the booty) of lighter tones as well. Plenty of artists have failed to do this correctly, but every now and again someone manages to get it right, sort of.
How do you feel about songs/lyrics on skin tone? Do you like them or prefer people find something else to sing about altogether?
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