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Eric Benet Fights 'Redbone Girl,' 'Chocolate Legs' Skin Color Controversy w/ Tank Tops

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 31, 2012 11:41 AM
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Oh joy... I won't use up too many pixels on this, but I had to share, given the subject matter, and the fact that it's something that's polarized black people all over the world for a very long time now. 

The short story goes... Eric Benet released a new song called Redbone in which he expresses his love for a lighter-skinned black woman, which features a rap from Lil Wayne that says, "I like them light-skinned, lighter than a feather."

Of course controversy followed; and Benet defends himself, recently telling CBS that:

"In no way is ["Redbone Girl"] me professing my preference for any type of skin color ... it's just a songwriter talking about one experience."

And as The Hollywood Reported notes, he further points out the fact that he previously released a song called Chocolate Legs that didn't get nearly as much uproar, or any for that matter, from the black community.

He added that he feels...

"I think it's its own form of racism." 

And he seems to cherish all the conversation surrounding him and his Redbone Girl song, taking advantage of the opportunity and releasing 2 limited edition women's tank tops, each with the titles of each song: Redbone Girl and Chocolate Legs.

The question I suppose this then begs to be asked is, which one are you?

Available on his official site for the low, low price of just $19.95, you'll find them in black and white.

Who's buying what he's selling - and I'm not just talking about the tank tops.

And does he have a point when he says that there's a kind of double standard, as in, when he sings about "chocolate" women, he gets lots of love; but when he sings about "redbone" women, he gets mucho flak?

Watch his convo with CBS below:

Video -

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  • LadyMonthrae | August 3, 2012 9:22 AMReply

    Its his favor flavor and he should not be ashamed of whatever and however he choose. Its the same as the other songs like Brown Eyed girl by Van Morrison and Brown Skin by India Arie & etc. Its about what turns him on! EVERYTHING ISN'T FOR EVERYBODY. Just because he isn't decribing you in a song doesn't mean he has a problem with your skin tone. It simply a choice of description of a flavor of woman that prefers. We alwyas trying to find something to complain about when we are feeling left out. GET OUT YOUR FEELINGS!!! It's just a song.

  • Lavetta Cannon | August 1, 2012 1:50 PMReply

    Eric Benet is obviously a moron if he actually thinks we wouldn't be offended! It's the equivalent of a white guy singing about his love of "blonde women". Why? Because it would be redundant!!! Duh? White brunette women are bombarded with daily images of the superior beauty of blonde women - that's why there are so many bottle blondes! A song about "brown skin" or "chocolate legs" is celebrated because it breaks from the norm...that being said, as a dark-skinned woman, I'm tired of black people dividing ourselves along skin color. I, personally, think "all shades of black" is a beautiful thing to behold! I don't hate on light-skinned women because, honestly, they have a lot more idiotic black men to deal with than I do...and Eric Benet proves my point. Anyway, if he is so into "red-bones", why did he dog my girl Halle so bad?! She's the ideal red-bone, is she not? Anyway, peace and love to all my black people - dark, med, cocoa, and light:-)

  • Africameleon | August 1, 2012 2:40 AMReply

    Cue Spike Lee music number, "Gamma Rays vs Chocolate Girls 2012" !!!... When I heard about this 'controversy' the first thing I thought was, "So you're saying 'Chocolate Legs' doesn't include me?" For some reason, I didn't know that "Chocolate Legs" wasn't also about me - even though I'm about a Caramel 4.5 or 5ish. I'd rather listen to "Chocolate Legs" than "Red Bone Girl" anyway...

  • Kelea | August 1, 2012 11:37 PM

    Haha! I thought of Spike Lee too. Right? I thought "Chocolate Legs" just meant a brown girl, a black girl. Guess not. Redbone girl sounds ignorant, if he would have used something else like "cafe au lait" or whatever food/term they are using to describe light black women these days nobody would care.

  • ALM | July 31, 2012 10:52 PMReply

    I saw his tweets about the tank tops a day or two ago. I must admit that I am surprised to see the conversation on this website. I was more concerned about the fact that he did a track with Lil' Wayne than I was with the skin tone topic. Eric is one of those artists that usually keeps his music and music quality very pure. I have all of his cds except the latest release, "The One". "The One" is on my "to buy" list, so we'll see......

  • Mark and Darla | July 31, 2012 9:54 PMReply

    People will said or do anything to stay in the limelight or sell cds, Chris Brown showed his penis and keep acting a fool sell cds. Never heard "Chocolate Legs" went to youtube to listen, nothing special. Eric Bonet style and songs are boring, matter of fact r&b male for the past 12 years are boring they don't have it factor like michael, marvin, teddy, prince, rick, barry, smokey, luther, david ruffin, eddie kendrick, and the countless black male groups. So when people like Eric Bonet say statements they are doing to make sure people know they are alive.

  • bondgirl | July 31, 2012 8:54 PMReply

    No, he doesn't have a point. How are going to make a song about a specific type of woman, then when women who don't fit the type get mad, you cry racism? Don't like the heat, stop fragmenting black women. Chocolate skin is rarely edified, which is why people didn't get upset. It's a novelty like an Indian in a movie...why would you get so upset when you already know it's not going to be consistent? If you would like for women to stand together, then stop making distinctions. What about singing "black woman"? This fool knows what he's doing, seeing as he's contemplating making a song about Asians. LOL, nigre I hope you have a marketing budget big enough to go to Tokyo, because who's buying that single in the US unless it is a masterpiece!

  • Ava | July 31, 2012 8:49 PMReply

    Eric Benet bores me. He always has. The only time I found him mildly amusing is when he did that Poor Georgie duet with Faith Hill (and it was mostly Faith's vocals that made the song), other than that, he has never rated. Not even when he was with Halle or when he was supposedly a sex addict. I guess I must be on a low energy cycle because I can't even muster the interest in get upset about these cheap looking wife beaters that he's trying to unload. Do you think HSN will offer to showcase his tanks?

  • Laura | July 31, 2012 7:18 PMReply

    Lil' Wayne. Really. We are having conniptions over his music? Really? When has this hobgoblin's music ever been a pillar of artistic virtue? I always knew he was a cretin, but I totally wrote his monkey-ass off when he bragged about getting high off of cough syrup. My girlfriend said that Webster Dictionary has Lil Wayne picture listed next to the definition of A.I.D.S. Why are we arguing about his music? I tell you, Black folks (Africans, Caribbeans, North Americans, South Americans, and Europeans) love to fight each other over B.S.

  • Laura | July 31, 2012 7:46 PM

    And btw --for Lil' Wayne aficionado's-- when did redbone mean light-skinned? Light skin Black woman was always referred to as "high yalla". Seriously, I must have missed the memo. I was raised to believe that redbone was a recognition of having native american skin color coming through moderately light brown skin color. And a "redbone gal" is never hinkdy nor bougie. She's down to earth. *****Check out jazz vocalist's Cassandra Wilson's lyrics to "Redbone" --"Redbone gal got a problem she cut menfolk with a razor. Redbone gal got a problem she loves her God, she prays every night, she lives real hard")**** I guess I learned something new today. Whatever Lil Wayne touches, becomes diseased.

  • THE BLACK POLICE | July 31, 2012 4:13 PMReply


  • Melody | July 31, 2012 10:40 PM


  • AccidentalVisitor | July 31, 2012 3:31 PMReply

    I didn't even realize that Benet still had a career. :) The "color" thing amongst black people remains a sensitive topic, but Benet has a point if he did indeed write a song entitled "Chocolate Legs" in the past. I won't bother to visit his site to look at the pictures some have mentioned, but, really what's the big deal? Some guys never grow out of that stuff but as long as they aren't hurting society by collecting and posting lustful pictures of flesh then let them go ahead and do their thing. We already know Benet was a sex addict who couldn't remain faithful to Halle but as long as he isn't forcing himself upon other women he isn't committing any crime. To those who want to make it out to be an affront to black women because he, presumably, has explicit pictures of (I assume) half-naked black females on his site, well, go ahead and do so. But I will say if those pictures were of women of other races then many folks would have been crying about something else. Why the need to break it down to a "black" thing anyway? When white guys do the same thing with pictures of bikini blondes there is never any outcry about white men reducing white women to sex objects, instead it is referred to as "men" reducing "women" to sex objects. Only us folks are caught up with putting that adjective "black" in front, even for situations that are universal to all races. Men across the world objectify women often in the most shameful of ways. Is it shallow? Yes. People hook up for shallow reasons all the time, though. Women are guilty of that themselves on occasion. Not just salivating over the physical quality of certain men, but also for hungering over materialistic things such as how fat a guy's wallet is. Funny how a movie like "Magic Mike" is seen as "empowering" for female viewers because guys strip down for female customers, but put out such a movie today with female strippers performing for rowdy men and it may be looked upon as being exploitive. Getting back to Benet his music may suck (just my opinion), but why would his lyrics about redbone girls cause such an outcry when there is relative silence for black music out there that champions violence towards men and women?

  • bondgirl | July 31, 2012 9:20 PM

    @AV: When white guys do the same thing with pictures of bikini blondes, the outcry is men reducing women to sex objects w/o mention of color because white IS the default. Their world is through a WHITE LENS. They don't have to say it, because "white" is automatically implied. It's like saying someone is a human woman, it's redundant. Since this topic is universal (your words), then it makes it relevant. Personally, I think in this situation it would've hurt him more to ignore him and not give him any media attention. I find it odd that someone who screams about the black man not being the hero in every film, is suddenly telling women not to be so concerned with "color". I guess you're one of the guys who never grow out of that stuff, that you speak of. Also, there is an outcry over violence in music so if you haven't heard of any, I'd suggest you diversify your blog choices. Bossip & ESPN ain't gonna give you a comprehensive outlook on black concerns.

  • saadiyah | July 31, 2012 12:30 PMReply

    Can't stand any performer singing about women like they're objects. Stop reducing Black women to skin tones and body parts! Unfortunately these misogynistic goons will still have throngs of women (not the dark ones though!) vying to be their next baby momma. They won't get a cent or second from me!!!

  • BluTopaz | July 31, 2012 1:06 PM

    Agreed. On another site a photographer posted his pics of his homage to Black women. I saw nothing but body parts: butt shots galore, a breast here, closeup of lips (both kinds) there, sweat dripping, etc. Like a King magazine shoot done in black/white. There were so many women oooohing and aaaahing, so happy with 'this brotha loves us, doesn't he/it's so artistic/' comments. A bunch of thirsty females.

  • Melissa | July 31, 2012 12:23 PMReply

    Who? What? When? Where? (African woman who is always amused by Black Americans shooting themselves in the proverbial foot, speaking here). What in the hell is a redbone and chocolate legs? You know what, I won't even bother.

  • bondgirl | July 31, 2012 8:26 PM

    @Nadine: I haven't been around, so I don't know if there was an earlier incident but I noticed it too. No good can come of it.

  • bondgirl | July 31, 2012 8:24 PM

    @Melissa: I hope you're just as amused when pedophile polygamists like Akon do the same. Unlike Lil Wayne, Akon lost millions with Verizon. 2 can play that game, honey.

  • Nadine | July 31, 2012 1:47 PM

    Whoa. Haven't been on S&A for a minute. What is this separatist bullshit? So, now there is an openly anti-Black American (I'm assuming you meant to be anti-African American as even new citizens from the continent would be considered Black American) sentiment on this site, like, people are getting real crazy with this kind of talk? Is this really S&A?!?!?

  • Logic | July 31, 2012 1:24 PM

    Why am I not surprised that the pro-hispanic version of Uncle Ruckus is jumping on the shade black Americans brigade? I can't say anything in this thread that Paul Mooney hasn't already said, so I'll just drop this off right here:

  • BluTopaz | July 31, 2012 12:54 PM

    Not this insecure, ignorant ish again--ok I'll bite. No need to look up American slang, just check the stats of how many African women poison themselves with skin lighteners. Afterwards maybe you will figure out why it's Black American women who are facilitating the natural hair care movement, when so many of you would not be caught dead with the stuff growing out of your African scalps. Jeez Luis why do so many of you broads show up to show your behinds...

  • LeonRaymond | July 31, 2012 12:37 PM

    @MELISSA -Wow I agree with you 150% So much for Black American Culture , what's left of it !

  • Melissa | July 31, 2012 12:28 PM

    OK. Horrible sounding music as well! Just had a listen to that 'Lil Wayne' person. Gone are the days of Anita Baker, Donna Summer, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross... they were really revered here in Africa (not just by the youth but the adults as well). So much for Black American culture.

  • getthesenets | July 31, 2012 12:22 PMReply

    didn't buju banton have a similiar experience/backlash with "love me browning"?

    person from JA had to explain to me what the term meant and what the backlash was about because I thought browning meant exactly what it sounds like.

    Eric Benet is a talented guy but much like Brian McKnight, he feels has to coon it up to get attention in modern pop landscape.

    Haven't heard either song but the new song and the featured guest and subject's all contrived for controversy.

  • Vanessa Martinez | July 31, 2012 12:16 PMReply

    I'm a little torn on this issue. There's already a "redbone" overrepresentation in the media as exalted standards of beauty for Black women. That's one issue. The other being more of an issue of sexism and misogyny perhaps, as far the objectification of women is concerned. Why must a woman be diminished to a skin tone? Is this a love or fixation song about a girl's skin tone? If this is dedicated to someone he loves? If so, does he love her because of her skin tone, whatever that may be?? or for the person as a whole? Why must a whole song be dedicated to a skin tone? (well with the exception of "Brown Skin") On the other hand, he does have a point; when he released "Chocolate Legs", nobody really cared. But then, again, why are women just flavors and skin tones? sexist much? Because of that, I'm already turned off to this song. *shrug*

  • Vanessa Martinez | July 31, 2012 3:54 PM

    @AV I thought about that. I think I'm just overwhelmed, actually tired of all the sexually charged lyrics in R&B that lack artistic and creative quality. I think India Arie's "Brown Skin" is beautiful and I love D'Angelo's "Brown Sugar"; there's just a real problem with colorism in the black community that Eric Benet would rather not delve into; c'mon he loves the controversy and attention. Plus, I really don't care for Eric Benet or Lil' "I like a long hair thick redbone open up up her legs then filet mignon" (<-his lyrics) Wayne.

  • AccidentalVisitor | July 31, 2012 3:36 PM

    Vanessa, if a white musician wrote a song about a white gal and called it "Creamy Legs" wouldn't that be the same thing? The artist is simply trying to use a colorful (no pun intended) adjective to create a more sensuous image. And to be fair when it comes to celebrating a black lover or object of desire of either sex, musicians/poets of all stripes have resorted to the "chocolate" description for decades. Sometimes they may throw in a Brown Sugar.

  • Logic | July 31, 2012 12:04 PMReply

    Lil' Wayne, the color struck hobgoblin, now has an idiotic sidekick. May they both fade into irrelevancy.

  • Raynbliss | July 31, 2012 12:31 PM

    HA! Love, love, looove this comment.

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