While browsing You Tube over the weekend I came across the most amazing video of a 1971 Tina Turner performance with The Ikettes. I was not only struck by how amazing Ms. Tina and her all girl dance troop was, but judging from the some of the comments left, how controversial many of their performances were back then. Tina once spoke of how she and the Ikettes were banned from American television simply because they were sexy black women wearing mini-skirts. She also spoke of the slack she got for giving what was considered raunchy performances back at a time when women were still mostly conservative.
I could not help but juxtapose the negative attention Tina received 40 years ago with that many female artists get today. Both Beyonce and Rihanna have been criticized for their often crotch baring performances when in actually neither is doing anything new or unheard of. As a matter of fact, both admit to parodying artists who came before them. Rihanna has often cited Madonna as an influence on her, while Beyonce has cited Tina herself as her most major influence.
Likewise, long before Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and Nicki Minaj ever picked up a mic to spit their filthy lyrics, Okatown 357 were rapping about their juicy coochies driving men crazy.
Many of today’s most reviled and criticized female artists were influenced by women who came before them who were also reviled and criticized. Quite a few of those women went on to become respectable artists who are now seen as icons.
I say we should back off a little bit and let today’s divas do their thing and earn their stripes just as their predecessors did. Who knows, todays gimmick could very well be tomorrow’s legend.
FYI: Though I referred to The Ikettes as a dance troop, they were also performers in their own right who recorded albums and kept the crowd entertained while Tina was off stage.