The CoKo Cure
Vibe Magazine, February 2000

    Today's female R&B singers should call their movement the new ERA (equal reading anthems). Good hears them roar.
      by Karen R.

    Coko was in the early stages of recording her debut album, Hot Coko (RCA), when singing/songwriting team Trina & Tamara presented her with a song that would become her second single, "Trilfin'," featuring Eve. Here was a song about a man; he was fine, "sexy, tempting, caught my attention," Coko sings. "Knew he had me in a daze..."

As it goes, everything was beautiful with the brother -- until he opened his mouth. "The same old line that I already heard / Disappointed me right away." His game? Triflin'.

At press time, Coko had yet to hear TLC's "No Scrubs" or Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills," two of 1999's hottest R&B anthems that are being labled decidedly anti-male. But Beyoncé Knowles of Destiny's Child doesn't call her group feminists and says the don't hate men, although women in R&B have been sounding off lately. As it goes, it the heat of battle (particularly the one of the sexes), talk turns to shaky finances and bad weaves. But if you listen closely, you'll find that most times, there's no battle to be had. "Everybody thinks 'Triflin' is a male-bashing song, but it isn't," Coko says in her own defense. Wack game is just that; finances have precious little to do with it. "Ballers," she clarifies, "can be trifling too."

Beyoncé says her group received the same bristled response to "Bills, Bills, Bills" (from their album The Writing's On The Wall, Columbia, 1999). She maintains that "Scrubs" and "Bills" are two very different songs (they are); the shades of grey come when folks listen only to the choruses and not the verses. "All we're asking is for him to pay back the bills he's run up!" Beyoncé says.

. With "Bills," Destiny's Child are sending out a message for women to be independent, not codependent, Beyoncé says. Dont lose yourself taking care of the men, they warn, just help them out. The sentiments in these songs are age-old; what's changing is the language, which is getting very pointed. "Women are getting men in check and I think we are being very fair," Beyoncé says. If a guy does all the song says, then he deserves to be called trifling.

"Guys have been calling us outta our names for years, calling us bitches and gold diggers," Beyoncé continues. "But when women do it and the guy gets offened, it's a problem." She suggests everyone "stop having a guilty conscience and enjoy the music. A lot of the time the song is about specific people anyway."

Coko agrees that all the fuss is just hitting a sore spot. "Men have been talking about women all this time; now that it's women talking about men it's called 'male bashing.' Men have been saying it forever, 'If you're not a ho or a bitch, why are you offended?' Well, if you're not trifling or a scrub, why are you offended? It's entertainment," she says, with a hint of sarcasm in that alto. Then she says with a laugh, "Get over it."


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