Last Friday marked the 15th anniversary of OutKast’s Stankonia, the album that gave us an abundance of gifts from the "fair diamond out of dusty coals" of "B.O.B." to the "YKK on yo zipper" in "So Fresh, So Clean." The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 char, and won the duo a Grammy for Best Rap Album.
The most notorious song on the album is arguably the one that won OutKast a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group and was their first ever song to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 – "Ms. Jackson. "
But the real hero of "Ms. Jackson" is neither Big Boi nor Andre Benjamin. Benjamin wrote the song as an apology to his "baby mama’s….mama," Kolleen Maria Wright – the mother of Benjamin’s former partner Erykah Badu, and grandmother to the ex-couple’s son, Seven.
In an interview last week with Okayplayer, Wright – or as her grandchildren know her, Queeny – reflects on her daughter’s upbringing and the earliest hints of the musical genius she would become. “She was very, very precocious; always into something, always marched by the beat of a different drummer. Real funny. I didn’t know that it was talent. But I knew she was different. She was different but it was a good different.”
Wright reveals what it was like raising the talented troublemaker, as well as her devotion to allowing Badu the creative lifestyle that she knew her daughter needed. “There was no book, there was no anything. You just know people who have stars and who have raised stars, I guess will say the same thing, it is just something that you know. You see it and you’ll know it and the best thing to do is to nourish it, find out if this is really what they want to do and just stand behind them.”
And about her relationship with Benjamin? “Well first of all let’s clear the air. Let’s get this out of the way: I totally adore Andre Benjamin as a person. He is genuinely a great guy and for all genuinely great guys or gals or anybody who are good people I want them to do well and I want them to excel and I want them to have the best. So since it was Andre, and since I knew him, I was thrilled that he got the Grammy because he certainly deserved it.”
"Ms. Jackson" is Ms. Wright’s favorite song on the album, “Because I listen to that more than I did the rest of them!” When it came out, she played it over and over to make sure she wasn’t being insulted: “I didn’t know, because–with a lot of music during that time–I didn’t know where it was coming from, because that wasn’t my genre of music. After I listened to it and listened to it I said, Oh, this might not be too bad. This might be harmless; this might be apologetic, this may be okay. So when I felt that it wasn’t being an insult or disrespectful, then I kind of settled into it.”
"Let bygones be bygones" and catch the rest of the in-depth interview with the woman who raised Badu – The Queen of Neo Soul – over at Okayplayer.
Photos via Facebook/ Erykah Badu and Wikipedia
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