11:21pm PT by Shirley Halperin
Eric Benet Embraces Skin Color Controversy With 'Redbone Girl,' 'Chocolate Legs' Shirts
R&B star Eric Benet is no stranger to controversy -- remember that whole is-he-or-isn't-he-a-sex-addict thing? -- and he doesn't shy away from it either.
Case in point: the recent hubbub over the lyrics to his song "Redbone Girl," in which Benet croons, "Have you seen my chocolate dream ... Coffee cream, thick and lean" while featured guest Lil Wayne raps, "I like them light-skinned, lighter than a feather."
Some have taken issue with the track, which appears on his latest album The One (released in June), suggesting that the 45-year-old is declaring his preference for black women of lighter skin (he happens to be married to one, Prince's ex-wife Manuela Testolini).
Benet has defended his lyrical choices, recently telling CBS, "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 pointing out that he had previously released a song called "Chocolate Legs" that didn't get nearly as much "anger" or "how dare you" uproar -- or any for that matter. "I think it's its own form of racism," he said of what he perceives as a double standard.
It's a belief others share, as evidenced by the dozens of comments on popular blogs like TheBYF, and to drive the point home, Benet has issued two limited edition women's tank tops bearing the name of each song. Available on his official site for $19.95, they're available in black and white.
As for what Benet, who was previously married to Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry, will take away from the experience, he told CBS that "the fact that we're talking about it and that it's an issue makes me, for my next album, want to talk about an experience I had with an Asian girl." The essence of his message, he adds, is "the beauty of all, one at a time."
Watch a video clip of his interview below: