“I See You”

Posted on April 26, 2011


The visuals are striking. The sun peeks through, accentuating melanin-laced derma of various hues. Colorful tones of jewelry and clothing add mesmerizing flavor to the aesthetic. In woman after woman, the strength, grace, and beauty of beings who embrace their natural winsomeness shines through as they enjoy the delights of life.

And then you catch the lyrics.


strong cheek bone from your lineage

not what the mainstream image is

natural hair is your heritage

but to see it without chemicals is rare as the pyramids

Once the simple piano tune joins the faint-echoed rhyme, it’s clear this is no ordinary song. And no ordinary music video.

I love this Dead Prez vid for many reasons. It’s an engaging tribute to Black women who love their natural beauty and decide against changing their hair texture despite the many social pulls to respond to the contrary. It beautifully paints the glamor and diversity of the African aesthetic that is rarely fully viewed in popular culture. The words of the song affirm all of us who dismiss any desire to cast conventional beauty in a fairer light than our own, in spite of the reality that that conventional beauty cannot be attained if we stick to the way our Creator designed us. In essence, the artists show what they utter at the beginning: “I see you.” And it’s magnificent to be seen.

I also adore the way the artists acknowledge that their attraction to natural Black women leads them to respond in a deeper manner than the impulse to sow oats. They want to know more about these women than simple derriere shape or brassiere size. Dead Prez declares that they want “intimate friendship / more than just hittin it.” They seek more than the absent-minded and rote images fed to them by the media. And they appreciate when they see this type of beauty in women.

Even though we don’t see you on the flat screen

ain’t no doubt about what you got in them genes

The instrumentals, vocals, lyricism, and cinematics in the song and video for “The Beauty Within” are simply refreshing. As a descendant of Africa who’s long since gone native, I’m delighted and encouraged.

To all the ladies in this body politic, “just keep doing you, baby.”

Posted in: Image, Music