By James Webb
Before we mention the Jill Scott vs Erykah Badu battle, we need to clarify something.
I think we all had a great time down memory lane during the Babyface vs Teddy Riley battle on IG Live, thanks to Verzuz. It was obvious that Babyface had more hits, but Teddy Riley had more (no pun intended) jams. This made me think about a comparison legendary radio host Herb Kent brought up nearly ten years ago.
See, on Sundays Herb Kent would play songs back to back between two artists on Chicagoland radio. About 10 years ago, Herb Kent brought up a battle between Whitney Houston and Teena Marie.
Who do you prefer, Whitney Houston or Teena Marie in a battle? Herb Kent and myself said Teena Marie. I know you’re like nah nah that’s not even close! “I only know two Teena Marie songs”. (You know more) Whitney Houston is freakin Whitney Houston. Like THEE Whitney Houston? She has a masterpiece of a catalog, she is the bar vocally that many aspire to, and she is The Voice! This should be a blowout. Cool.
Now go and play Whitney Houston’s ten biggest hits back to back with Teena Marie’s biggest jams. You are going to feel that Teena Marie music just a little bit more. Which begs the question: “What gets played more often in rotation socially?”
Not to be compared to what gets played regularly on the radio, but when the culture links, are we playing hits or are we jamming? “Swag Surfin” wasn’t a hit, but no song brings about black unity like it. “I Will Always Love You” was written by Dolly Parton, but Whitney Houston remade it to be one of her biggest hits, Teena’s “Portuguese Love” might get a few more spins.
Which ultimately leads to this, a good friend of mine mentioned that Jill Scott and Erykah Badu don’t have many hits. Well, what’s a hit?
Grammy’s, record sales, and chart location are what makes hits. A certain song would have to cross cultures in order to ever make a hit. So, are we saying, a song isn’t at its musical paramount until people outside of the culture like it? Well then who is deciding what is great in our own culture?
We’ve always decided what was great for ourselves. This battle on May 9th between Jill Scott and Erykah Badu is a battle just for the culture and those who love it. No “hits” needed. This is about to be JAM after JAM which one can argue makes the battle exclusively for us. C’mon now, what other group of people is about to yell “GRIIIIIIIIIIIIIITS” in unison around the world? Who else understands being born under water with $3 and six dimes? Who else doesn’t know what that means but are still going to act like it because Badu said it?
The Jill Scott vs Erykah Badu battle will not only remind us of just how amazing these black women are, but will also remind us that the approval of others, will never decide how great we are.
Are you a hit? Because I love being one of the jams.