This interview was originally posted in May 2011. Stic.Man revealed that the video that we saw (and loved) was actually leaked.
The one you’re referring to that is floating around the web, is actually an unauthorized version of the video that we shot like a year ago. We decided to shelve it. My guy Shannon McCollum just shot a new video, which is amazing for that song.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with one half of the dynamic duo that is Dead Prez. Known for their revolutionary and political lyrics, I was still pleasantly surprised when I first heard ‘The Beauty Within’. A remix of B.o.B.’s ‘Nothing on You’, it was released on Mother’s Day 2010, and celebrates the beauty of black women, and *drum roll please* natural hair. I shared it a couple of weeks back and the response was unanimously positive. It made such an impact on our community, that I thought it only fitting to reach out to the artists with YOUR questions. Stic.Man, officially the realest, took some time out of his touring schedule to let me pick his brain.
SweetDrk1 asks, in a world full of lace fronts, what motivated you to dedicate the song to natural women?
So many things motivated this song. In essence, we were trying to give a salute, give support, and give energy to women who have self-love and confidence. It’s for the women who know that taking care of themselves naturally, only enhances their beauty. As opposed to buying into the culture of putting all types of chemicals in the hair, and doing a million different things trying to be something else… something other than what we are.
I grew up in a household with the lady that fixed the naps… very Madam CJ Walker like [Laughter]. Women came to her for their perms and relaxers and what not, she was a very popular cosmetologist in my hometown. So growing up, it wasn’t unusual for me to hear, ‘let me fix that kitchen’, or ‘that hair is a mess, let me do something to it’. As I grew and began learning about figures such as Malcolm X and our struggle in general, I became reflective about that whole process and way of thinking. Then one day, my niece came home from school in tears. She had a head full of healthy, natural hair that her mother kept in braids and twists. Unfortunately, because of her un-straightened hair, the kids in her class were picking on her. My mom told her, ‘don’t worry what they say, just believe in yourself’. I remember pulling my mom to the side and asking her, ‘where do you think she hears that stuff more… even more than at school? That’s what you say all day, that’s what her mom tells her all the time… come here, let me do something to that hair!‘ I told you that little story because that day, my mom and my sister went natural. And they’ve been natural ever since, and my niece is now 22! So I just been around it, and culturally, it’s a big deal for our sisters, and many women, to appreciate their beauty as they’re made by nature. So I wanted to support that.
Terra D: What kind of impact did you want this song to make?
That’s a good question. We created this song to support and motivate that sister who is dating somebody with the mentality I don’t like all that nappy short hair, or the sister who thinks the blond Beyonce wig is what beauty is. So the impact I want it to have is to show our women that all the brothers definitely don’t see it like that. I just want it to give encouragement and to say that the status quo is not everybody’s opinion, and what matters most is the way you feel on the inside.
I’m not trying to judge sisters who have relaxers or those who are into creative styles that may not be natural. I’m not trying to play one against the other. I feel like our community psychologically, has been traumatized, and made not to appreciate our skin, our culture, our hair, our body type, shapes, lips, noses, ass, you name it! We have to really take a step back and appreciate these things. So that you can say, ‘I’m me, and I’m unique, and I’m fresh, and I’m fly!’
JasmineA: Your interview with Nikki comes on the heels of the highly publicized Psychology Today article where the “scientific” conclusion is that Black women are less attractive than other races. What are your thoughts about that?
I missed that, but it sounds like bunk. I’m biased as a black man. To me there is no finer, more beautiful, more dynamic, more whole woman, than the African woman in all shapes and forms. I’m not saying it to be cliche, but Africa is the mother of all the women, of all the men. Attractiveness is definitely in the eye of the beholder. An Asian man probably thinks Asian women are most beautiful, while a White man prefers White women. I think when you talk about beauty in terms of symmetry, in terms of longevity; look at a black woman’s skin, features, and beauty over time… it’s hands down! I’m not trying to make it a racist thing, but White people don’t age well. There ain’t no way in the world [Laughter]… you can’t tell me that the Black woman isn’t the dopest being you’ve seen on the planet. But like I said, I’m biased. I was born from a black woman… I’m married to a black woman. I’m probably not the most objective person to answer this question.
JasmineA: Stic.Man, how did your wife receive the song the Beauty Within? Is she natural?
Is my wife natural? She is the epitome of that song. Totally. She even got me focusing on health. When I met her she was natural. She’s part Creole and her hair has a looser wave, it’s still kinky, but wavy. I remember her making it very, very clear to me, ‘you know this is not a relaxer.’ She was just really adamant… ‘I’m a black woman, I’m natural, I don’t eat this, I don’t eat that, I’m in the gym’. She’s a warrior with her natural self! She is now a holistic health counselor and has a website– nattral.com. She’s in full support of the song… even more than in support, she’s the inspiration for the song. Her, and sisters like her around the world.
TerraD: Do you have any advice for the men, to help continue to uplift black women?
We have to look at the women in our lives- our mates, our friends, our associates, mothers, aunts- as really our comrades. I always say teamwork makes the dream work. We have to see that when we tear each other down, it’s really just fear… it’s just that fake pimp, machismo stuff that we hide behind. It’s counterproductive, and we have to see ourselves as team members and give support and words. I think women respond well to words and complements, but respond even more so to seeing those actions of support. And the respect that’s shown when you speak highly of each other, when you keep your word, when you don’t try to think for a woman, that speaks volumes. We need to encourage our women to have their own voice and rather than trying to being their boss, be their teammate and encourage their development. As men we can do this. We can support, teach, listen… we can learn. Above all, we need to have that compassion for the mothers of our family. We have to see our mates as our sisters, and our friends, more than just our lovers.
CN: Tell us about the video!
It’s funny. The Beauty Within video, the one you’re referring to that is floating around the web, is actually an unauthorized version of the video that we shot like a year ago. We decided to shelve it. My guy Shannon McCollum just shot a new video, which is AMAZING for that song. So yeah, what you saw was some shots of some footage put together by another director… it wasn’t up to par, and without permission, it was released. It still has a good vibe to it, but it was definitely a violation on the internal [Laughter]. Shannon McCollum, an awesome photographer and videographer, just shot the official, and I’ll be sure to get that over to you when it’s available.
CN: What are you working on right now? Anything you want to share with the CN community?
I’d like for y’all to check out, ‘Baby Fat’ on my new album The Workout. It’s featuring my wife rapping for the first time. Also, a dope, dope, dope natural sister named Maimouna Youssef is singing the hook, and another really strong, revolutionary natural hair stylist and MC, named Ife Jie. They helped me out on that song which is dedicated to health and fitness. That particular song is to inspire and to salute women who have given birth to life and are trying to get their bodies back in shape, because they want to, not for society. So I would love to hear some feedback from the women of CurlyNikki on that record, and the album in general. You can check it out at Sticrbg.com.
Awesome! I have Afya's book The Vegan Soul Food Guide to the Galaxy. It's one of my favorite books right now. And that video makes me even more proud of being a black women. Such BEAUTIFUL women!
this video was nice but i like the other one much better. it seemed to have more of a storyline. And the lead lady in that video was FIERCE with her TWA.
Anon 11:48, you not the only one noticing the hairstyles, lol. I'm watching like wow she has so much hair, wow can't wait till my hair gets that long, wow my fro will never be that fluffy. Fab song & video!
I actually liked the first video better. Just saying. Lol. But nonetheless. S/O to them for making this lovely song.
So i'm going to be the superficial one….did you see all the HAIRSTYLES….holy smokes!!! There was one chick with the biggest afro I've seen in a while and she was working it…they all were! The vid is tutorial heaven!! I had to keep stopping to take snapshots of styles i want to try. LOL…Whoever can't see the beauty in a black natural woman is blind. Not a single person looked like her sisters….absolutely awesome!
Just heard the Baby Fat song on You Tube. Love it! Checking out the wifey's page now…
Awesome lyrics and beautiful women in that video…..shows the true beauty of being natural in all its variety. Hope it encourages more to go for it….
OMG so many beautiful woman I loved it. Wow, I am awestruck by the beauty. I saw me and my daughter in that vid, yes I did… 🙂
Love the new video, love, love, love it! Love seeing all those beautiful beautiful women and girls. It put a BIG smile on my face!
Great article, are you going to do one on Common? See the best and brightest in a new place, Twentyfortwelve. Check it out!! Great black webisodes, twenty every week for the next twelve weeks. youtube.com/twentyfortwelve
This was a brilliant post! LOVED THE SONG! seriously positive thoughts about natural hair really makes my day! And am also inspired to hit the gym! lol
Awesome interview Nikki!!! I loooooove this video! It's so refreshing to see such a positive image of black women being portrayed this way! It's definitely a start! Dead Prez is the "truth" literally!
I just downloaded "The Workout" album from iTunes, so motivational!
STIC!!!!! I'm a huge Dead Prez fan, even before the Dave C days. Love you guys and keep it up!
I met his wife in Atlanta too! Small world. She's absolutely beautiful and very talented.
Wonderful interview Nikki and Stic. I loved his responses and pray that Black men everywhere will feel like this one day.
Wow this was a awesome interview. WOW didnt know Afya was his wife!! I met her last month at the Hair show in atlanta. She was so nice. If you all like to crochet like I do then check out her two books Get your Crochet on. She has some really funky flyy designs.
Great interview! What a lovely couple and I shall definitely check out her site.
Glad to see SticMan thinks the way he does. Hopefully, he can help some others straighten out the noise in their heads.
I'm equally happy to hear of his wife's thoughts about fitness. I see far too few of us sweating it out and eating right!
BEST INTERVIEW YET NIKKI! STIC.MAN YOU ARE AN AMAZING MAN AND I KNOW YOUR WIFE APPRECIATES YOU. KEEP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING. I'M A FAN FOR LIFE!
I love the interview and I love the song !!! I also wanted to know who made the earrings from the video????
Well you've just gained a fan Stic Man. I never looked into anything about Dead Prez but you my #1 right now. Thank you for supporting black women. I was on a dating site recently and black men are asking sisters not to even bother contacting them and only checking that they want white women. It gets hard out here sometimes but thanks for reminding me that not all black men have forgotten about the black woman. Your wife is beautiful checking out her site now. Beautiful couple. Thanks CN for another wonderful interview!
I love Dead Prez and this just confirmed it. Stic.man is a good man and his wife is blessed. I wish more men thought like him.
Loved every minute of this one!
I see you Stic.Man! I'm even more of a fan after reading this. Love your response to the helping our men uplift us question, and Im feeling the Workout thing!
@ Anonymous 3:00
I really feel you on your point! haha, No shade to any one at all but it's true that people do pay attention to that!
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damn, best interview on CN ever…I love this so much…
Great interview! U know the first thing I wanted to do was take a look at his wife to see if he was practicing what he preached. lol I get tired of dudes who talk bout upliftng sisters in their songs then have a white woman on their arm. Now I'm not against interracial relationships, but don't come to me for your $, support, and publicity, then go home to Becky. To me, that just seems like a lie. <_< (just keeping it real 😉 )
I like her site and might try out some of those recipes. I like healthy but so far tofu has been nasty to me.
Big up Dead Prez! Thanks for doing what you do the way you do it.
Great interview Nikki. I'm going to check out his wife's blog right now!
Beautiful song and inspiring couple. Thanks Nikki for the interview!
I love Dead Prez! Thanks for the song Stic.Mand, I've been following you since the beginning. Your wife is beautiful.
Let the church say, AMEN! Great interview, I've always been a fan of Dead Prez but I have a new found love and respect for their solidarity to the women that represent them. I almost fell out of my chair when he gave such a poignant and hitting response to how men can uplift black women. Wish more thought that way.
A man after my heart! This was a great interview and proof that good Black men exist.
He was totally authentic, and so sweet! Best interview ever 🙂
I love this! I am a huge Dead Prez so I'm jealous you got to interview Stic.Man. Awesome interview!