R. Kelly: Pedophelia. Now yellowface?

I was flipping through the numerous cable channels, and came upon a cable access show that features hip/hop & rap videos (couldn't catch the damn name.) At first the volume was down, and then I saw all these African American ladies dry humping the floor of R. Kelly's "dojo gym" in kimonos that ended at the buttcrack. The video was for the song "Thoia Thoing". I was like, "Overt orientalism? This has got to be an old video." I turn it up to hear what he's rapping about, which I subconsciously blocked out of memory because with a chorus like,

"I got her singing
Thoia thoia thoia thoia thoing thoing
Thoia thoia thoia thoia thoing
She had me singing
Thoia thoia thoia thoia thoing thoing
Thoia thoia thoia thoia thoing",

there wasn't much to listen to. Oh shit! Then he breaks out into his nunchucks, and starts throwing them around. Badly. VERY badly. Goddess help us all. "Man," I thought in jest, "all this orientalizing video needs is some yellowface." And, wouldn't you know it, before my thoughts barely finished, 4 African American women appeared: dancing, with open black fans, wearing long kimonos, Japanese-style wigs, and... YES, yellowface. Complete with pancake makeup, red lipstick, and black dragonlady eye makeup.

"No fucking way!" was all I could say, as I sat, glued to this trainwreck of a video. Over the years, I've become intrigued as to why rap culture just so adores orientalist representations in their videos. Sometimes it would just be the artist stretching out on a table while Asian ladies pour libations on him and massage his back. Of course, they would always have those damn eating utensils in the hair. But I continue to tell myself that society, as a culture, is slowly moving forwards towards some kind of cultural respect. And I tell myself that as people of color, we are starting to sensitize ourselves towards proper representation of our fellow folks. And that this seemingly unending, excruciating exotification of the "Oriental" will stop being so popular in rap videos, disguising itself as "respect for our culture". Then this kind of crap slaps me in the face.

The video continues with ladies in kimonos and straightened hair, walking towards R. with drinks on a tray. As soon as they get to the steaming wooden hot tub, they let their kimonos fall onto the floor, revealing their bikinis. What a surprise. Now, I can appreciate a lovely lady in a bikini, as well as the talented and beautiful dancers, but what was it with this exoticizing bullshit, with R. Kelly displaying himself as some sort of misguided sensei in his track suit/karate gi combo, the yellowface, and fucked up modification of kimonos?

So, I went searching to find out how old this video is. And you know what I found? That it hasn't even been released yet! It hits stores 9/23/03!

More info can be found in the VH1 article R. Kelly Teaches Ladies Karate, Shows Off Japanese LeBron Jersey In New Clip. Make sure to read between the lines...

I don't know about you, but my life will be that much brighter without the perpetuated orientalism of R. Kelly in my cd & video/dvd stash come September.