"All up on me screaming 'Yeah!'": in praise of Usher's ode to enthusiastic consent
peace up, A-Town down
Remember 2013? Everyone was legally required to write at least one thinkpiece about “Blurred Lines.” The government would fine you $1000 if you didn’t. It was a song you just had to have thoughts about. My own alma mater had an unfortunate dustup a full year after it came out when a girl got a DJ fired from a bar for playing that very popular song, which had gone to #1 on the charts in 25 countries including our own, because it was Bad.
That’s certainly going too far, but it is hard to defend a central thesis of “You’re giving me mixed messages but I know you wanna [what rhymes with hug] me so I’m gonna tell you what you’re feeling until you give in.” So we all had to talk about it! Apparently! What a bummer that whole conversation was — people saying you should lighten up and just have fun with a goofy dance song and others chiming in to point out that you shouldn’t encourage a mentality of ignoring women’s wishes and being a pushy asshole because that’s all tied into rape culture. It was exhausting. Wouldn’t it be fun if we could just get down on the dance floor to a sexy bop about picking up hotties that made it clear that those hotties were definitely into it?
Friends, that songs exists and you already love it.
God bless this crunk anthem of enthusiastic consent!
“Yeah!” is the anti-“Blurred Lines.” While Robin Thicke is in the club telling the woman he encounters that he knows she wants it and she must wanna get nasty, Usher is tuned into the actual signs he’s receiving. First shorty is checking up on him, then she begins spitting game in his ear. A great start. Does Usher take this as signal to push things further? No. He “decided to chill.” Right on, Mr. Raymond. He allows the conversation to get heavy until she leads him to the floor and says “Baby, let’s go.”
At this point both parties verbally confirm that they’re consenting: Usher told her, he said “Yeah!” and the next thing he knew, she was all up on him screaming “Yeah!” as well. What a model for modern love!
The situation gets more complicated in the second verse, when Usher begins to think it might be a good idea to take her home. She’s ready to leave the club and move to a new phase of the night. But he has to pause. She’s a certified 20 out of 10, but that’s not usually his style. If he takes this chance, just where’s it gonna lead? Usher thinks it through. The way she dances makes shorty all right with him… and the way she’s getting low — he’s like “yeah.” Does this shorty insist on going home here? She does not. Perhaps sensing his hesitation, she pumps the brakes on that plan. She asks for one more dance. And he’s like “yeah.” And soon they are back to screaming “Yeah!” all up on each other. They’re having a great time!
Ludacris comes in at this point, and I’ll admit he muddies the message a tad. Luda has a bad habit of missing the point of a song he’s on. For example, in Fergie’s “Glamorous,” she herself stresses that she’s still real and raw and down-to-earth despite her fame and fortune. “Gold and diamond rings / All them things don't mean a thing,” she assures us, promising to stay the same, and then Ludacris jumps in to yell that she deserves NOTHIN’ but all the finer things and ends his verse with the off-message threat “If you ain’t got no money, take your broke ass home!”
So for Ludacris to get on the mic here and say that he won’t stop until he gets these women in their birthday suits… that’s not ideal. He should stop if they don’t want to get into their birthday suits, or if they are unsure of whether they do or not. He needs to take a clue from his colleague Usher and decide to chill. But Ludacris does specify that the women he encounters are also on the prowl (for a sexual encounter) and that if he gives them the rhythm it will end with their clothes coming off, so I think we can infer from context clues that everyone involved is enjoying Ludacris and his flow that makes your booty go *clap.* And Luda knows that consent is sexy. Sure, he wants a lady in the street but a freak in the bed — who among us does not? — but note the way he ends the verse.
He wants such a lady who says “Yeah!” He wants a woman who’s DTF, enthusiastically so. Take this message to heart, young people of the world. Take it and rewind it back. Thank you to Usher, Ludacris, and Lil Jon — may your message of enthusiastic consent in the club reverberate through A-Town and beyond for years to come!