This essay is kind of late.
Well 20 years late. Pardon my lateness but I was only 10 years old when this song was released. But even then, I knew this song was revolutionary.
I was at 80s/90s party in Brooklyn over the weekend and one of my favorite jams came on: Adina Howard’s ‘Freak Like Me.’ From the moment the beat dropped, I remembered how instrumental this song was in the 90s.
Released in 1995, My fondest memories of this song are riding in my mom’s red Chevy during Chicago’s notorious heat wave that killed hundreds that summer. I even bought Adina Howard’s debut album ‘Do you wanna ride?’ on tape. Remember those days?!
You can’t say this song didn’t influence today’s Black singers to be more bold and upfront with singing and expressing sexuality. Sure, there’s always been Janet Jackson and Madonna but ‘Freak Like Me‘ was different. Think Beyonce’s ‘Rocket‘ and Ciara’s ‘Ride‘ before she went celibate.
She’s was a woman upfront and unafraid of asking for what she wants. ‘Let me lay it on the line, I got a little freakiness inside and you know that the man has got to deal with it.’ Right from the jump, she’s letting you know what she wants and laying out her boundaries.
‘I don’t care what they say, I’m not about to pay nobody’s way. ‘ She’s not Erykah Badu. Bye Tyrone!
The video was even better. Adina picks up her homegirls in her drop top and they ride out to a party. But before they get there, they deal with street harassment from different cars of men. Watch as Adina pulls off on them at the 1:45 minute mark.
Adina had no problems expressing her desires to her potential partners either. ‘ Boy you’re moving kind of slow, you gotta keep it up now there ya go.’
Listen. I have been apart of too many conversations with women about being dissatisfied during sex. Sadly there are also women afraid of telling their partners that they’re not satisfied. Adina wasn’t one of them.
‘Freak like me‘ was revolutionary because folks weren’t used to a Black women being so bold and brazen about what she wanted in the bedroom. Adina put her pleasure above anything else and that was a revolutionary act. She encouraged other women to speak up for themselves and it was a hit! The song hit number 1 on the R&B charts and number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Some may not think of ‘Freak Like Me‘ as having a place in feminism. Adina herself may not think so. Hell, I’m pretty certain the ashy Larry contingent would even call it a ‘hoe anthem.’ But it was definitely an important moment for Black sexuality and I salute her. Adina Howard’s ‘T-shirt & panties‘ is also another classic but that’s a whole other essay.
Check out Adina Howard’s new music here.