Two New Haven-born entrepreneurs passed the 100,000-view mark Wednesday—and sparked a national discussion on hip-hop’s portrayal of females—with a break-out video entitled “Walking White Women Through Yale.”
The entrepreneurs, Andre “Dre” Buchanan and Nadir Abdul-Salaam, welcomed the national attention and praise they’ve received this past week. But they said they don’t understand the “hating” some have directed at them over their portrayal of women in the video, which features Buchanan leading three women on leashes crawling through Yale’s campus and other New Haven haunts, including the tailgating at the annual Harvard-Yale football game.
The critics, they argued during an interview at Book Trader Cafe, are missing the video’s point: to riff on Yale and the cocaine trade; and to promote their growing Chapel Street recording and new-media marketing business, Ivy League Studios LLC. (The video appears above, as do portions of an interview with the pair.)
Buchanan: “There was no degrading intent. Like the women danced with us at the end of the video.”
Abdul-Salaam: “And those were not the only women in the video! We had a lot of women in the video.”
Buchanan: “Most of the women in the video weren’t on the leashes. They were giving us hugs, high fives. We were at the Yale-Harvard game … Everything felt good.”
Abdul-Salaam: “It’s just artistic expression. Especially if you listen to the song. You can get your own interpretation.”
Buchanan: “Snoop Dogg did the exact same thing at the VMA.”
Abdul-Salaam: “Parents put leashes on their children.”
Lots of people have indeed offered their interpretations of the “Walking White Women Through Yale,” which is proving a breakout hit for a duo who opened their business three years ago above Hull’s Art Supply & Framing between York and Park streets.
Buchanan (at left in above photo), a music producer who’s 27 years old, and Abdul-Salaam (at right), a serial entrepreneur who’s 32, originally featured a “no denim” boutique as a mainstay of the business. For a while they also hosted a barbershop and an event space. All along, they also produced videos for people, including music for unsigned rappers and web ads for local businesses. The recording/ production side of the business eventually crowded out the boutique side. (Abdul-Salaam’s brother Acquil, 37, is a third partner.)
All along, asserted Buchanan and Abdul-Salaam, they have made “positivity” a hallmark of their business, including avoiding degrading terms for women (i.e. “bitch” and “ho”).
Buchanan decided to come out in front of the camera to produce a new video that would get the company’s name out. The pair decided the video should use “shock value” to grab attention. Hence the leashes. They advertised and found three women interested in playing the main roles, Buchanan said. They paid the women $20 each per hour, according to Buchanan. He said one is an actress in New York; one an aspiring actress from Hartford; and one a local woman who participated “as a favor.” (He declined to name them.)
“The white girl is a metaphor in the urban society of cocaine,” Buchanan said. They extended the metaphor by playing on “Yale” and “yayo,” a nickname for cocaine.
Instead of selling or snorting cocaine, Buchanan and others in the video hand out and smell Ivy League Studios business cards. Throughout the video, the name of the business appears, along with contact information at the end.
“Instead of selling drugs,” Buchanan said, “we’re selling our business.”
Two days later, they posted it on a leading hip-hop site, World Star. Bam—they watched 7,000 viewers click on it in the first hour. The numbers kept climbing. Howard Stern devoted a section of his radio show to it. Calls started coming in for interviews; they so far have had 19 interviews scheduled with stations like WZMX Hot 93.7 and (Thursday morning) the show Star and Bucwild; and with hip-hop websites. MTV Jams called Thursday. Meanwhile, viewers called the contact number on the video to debate the merits with Buchanan. “I get hate messages all day,” he said. Some minds he changed, he said, during conversation.
And a torrid debate began on the World Star site. As of Thursday afternoon, the debate had attracted 1,814 comments. Some called the video out for sexism or racism; more appeared to be supportive—not just of the message, but of the music itself. Not to mention the crew’s considerable video chops.
• “From an artistic stand point I think the visual is BRILLIANT!! The entire production provokes conversation without actually implicating anything.Great use of contrast! As an Ivy League grad who also happens to be a white male, I didn’t find this to be offensive at all. Good work!”
• “TELL ME I DIDN’T FALL FOR AN UNSIGNED ARTIST TRICK SOLELY OFF THA FACT OF DEGRADING WHITE WOMEN?!”
• “this shit NOT cool, this dosent reflect well on us as a race. and these white women need to get some self respect. Ls all around on this one”
• “As a jewish woman on her way to college as a freshman I think this video is cool. I dig what they are doing. I wouldn’t walk but I do have friends that love doing stuff like this. I guess the suburbs are being exposed. Yale=Yayo=HILARIOUS. Why all the racist comments?”
So how does all that attention translate into dollars?
By attracting new customers. Buchanan and Abdul-Salaam said that, through “Walking White Women,” musicians have already contacted them to produce recordings or videos for or with them.
“Most guys who go viral, they’re artists,” Buchanan said. “We’re a business. We have a service.”
The video, they said, is “an ad.” However much people might disagree on the video’s portrayal of women, there’s no disagreement that the studio succeeded in getting its name out.
“We do shock value. We sat down and said, ‘What could create a conversation?’”
No debating that they succeeded on that score, as well.
Abdul-Salaam: “This is the most attention the city has ever gotten outside of Yale!”
Buchanan: “We’re big fans of Yale. We want to pop Yale. We want to make them very popular.”
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on August 13, 2014 5:05pm
How absolutely degrading to European American women and racist to European Americans in general!
Can you imagine the outrage of a European American man walking an African American woman on a leash while he intimates that she is his slave, who has to do cocaine in his navel in order to get it?
What a sick power trip this video conveys while glamorizing the use of cocaine and the sadistic power that some black drug dealers seek over white girls, even rich educated ones, who just need help to stop using drugs.
Why do you feel the need to have even elite white girls to be your slaves? I see absolutely no art here.
Timothy G. O’Rourke Jr. The Hill
posted by: robn on August 13, 2014 7:04pm
DFW on the difference between art and advertising, “An ad that pretends to be art is—at absolute best—like somebody who smiles warmly at you only because he wants something from you. This is dishonest, but what’s sinister is the cumulative effect that such dishonesty has on us: since it offers a perfect facsimile or simulacrum of goodwill without goodwill’s real spirit, it messes with our heads and eventually starts upping our defenses even in cases of genuine smiles and real art and true goodwill. It makes us feel confused and lonely and impotent and angry and scared. It causes despair.”
posted by: JustAnotherTaxPayer on August 13, 2014 7:15pm
Just an example of the type of people that are out and about. Whether on wants to call it art, or sensationalism to sell a person’s product, the bottom line is that there are people who find this articulate, or symbolic, of their perception of today’s society and culture. I guess the alternative culture of drug gang tribalism is reaching far more than anyone wants to accept. Keep pandering to this culture, and neglecting the inner cities, and eventually they will cross over into elected office, and find a way to legitimize their toxic behavior.
posted by: Gretchen Pritchard on August 13, 2014 7:41pm
“Parents put leashes on their children.”
With collars around their NECKS, and make them walk on ALL FOURS.
It’s “metaphors” and “art.” Right. Metaphors for WHAT, exactly?
Well, you’ve learned how to mouth the meaningless academic lingo, anyway, I’ll say that for you.
“We do shock value. We sat down and said, ‘What could create a conversation?’” Clearly, this objective has been met. Where is New Haven’s voice in this conversation? We are interested in hearing what New Haveners have to say. This video certainly encourages people to put on their “thinking” caps. In terms of Mr. Buchanan’s comment: “We’re big fans of Yale. We want to pop Yale. We want to make them very popular.” The interview would most likely have been better without this comment. On the other hand, revelations are often helpful.
posted by: Nashstreeter on August 13, 2014 11:15pm
So women on leashes are a symbol of cocaine addition? Frat boys on cocaine, tho mentioned, are not on leashes? Duh. Anybody on a leash is symbollically an animal, like say a dog. A female dog. A bitch. Who do they think they’re kidding?
And there’s a cocaine epidemic on the Yale campus? Sold to them by whom, exactly? Black guy rappers?
This is just self-promoting BS (we’ll make you a video just like this one!). Oh great. I have just the promo in mind: white girl dominatrixes chain up black guys to illustrate helpless degraded drug addicts in the ghetto. I can’t believe anyone is taking this [expletive] seriously.
What I have never been able to figure out is why women (white and black) are seen as so threatening to men (white and black). Still. To this day.
My personal mantra: Never forget how much they hate us.
posted by: Dean Moriarty on August 13, 2014 11:19pm
And this is not offensive how? Mr. ORourke is on point: “Can you imagine the outrage of a European American man walking an African American woman on a leash while he intimates that she is his slave”. If that were the case I have no doubt we would have Sharpton proselytizing on the Green. The New Haven community should abhor, reject and make clear that we should not tolerate ANY racism. And, that’s clearly what this is. But sad to say, I don’t see that happening. If the script were reversed and a white man was walking black women down the street on a leash to promote a commercial project there would be very loud outcries. I don’t hear them. And, NHI giving press to this inane stunt is just baffling. I was with NHI from the start, I’m beginning to reconsider.
posted by: Elm City Lifer on August 14, 2014 5:33am
Their hypocrisy is unbelievable and expected at the same time. I think its awesome that the 2 interviews were done on the same day. Maybe the girl on the leash is the photographer for the Yale Daily News. That’ll teach her!
His staccato delivery might be considered the opposite of ‘flow’ or rap cadence. The beat is weak too. Really the only thing they have going as entertainers is to be controversial. With so many talented artists in New Haven these two currently get the most outside attention, and for all the wrong reasons.
posted by: Theodora on August 14, 2014 6:32am
Get attention first, claim it as art second. These guys are not artists, they are, like a crying child, looking for attention.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on August 14, 2014 6:57am
So white women on a leash is the best metaphor these guys can come up with? In a culture in which rape is reportedly epidemic on college campuses and in the military, their lack of sensitivity to the violence against women that first requires that they be dehumanized is comparable to the racism that ends up with killing young black man who are walking home.
posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on August 14, 2014 7:46am
If this display os degrading, it’s degrading to ALL women. But it seems that the comments here are completely concerned about how this makes “European American” women look, as they are led around in leases by African American men. Leading one to reasonable conclude that some of the people making comments here woukd not be if the women in the video were African American and or the men European American.
Just as there has been little to no outcry from the White community over the plethora of shootings and killings of African American men across the country in recent months.
It’s interesing, and funny, how the outrage changes when the (believed) negative images hit close to home.
The Rev. Mr. Samuel T. Ross-Lee
posted by: elmcityresident on August 14, 2014 8:41am
SAY IT REV. SAMUEL T. ROSS SAY IT!!! we have been dehuminized for yearsssss BUT whenever something its your front door its a problem..these two guys have the right to artistic freedom to say what they want! Mind you i haven’t heard anyone complain about white women in the mainstream videos grinding all up on the drug dealing black man and again why do they have to be drug dealers???steroetypes smh..I have a young african american son and to cause you dont know him will call him a dealer but he works goes to school intellect probably higher than yours but unfortunately he’ll get stereotypes cause of his skin or way of dress and mr dean o’rourke white folks been walking us for years demeaning us for years we still do not REALLY have civil rights there broken everyday ” michael brown” for example but ya’ll will argue that too!
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on August 14, 2014 8:49am
Reverend, you do not believe that these images are negative?
Paradoxically, it is the most degrading to black drug dealers who feel so bad themselves that they think that powered cocaine is more glamorous than crack cocaine and that white girls are more glamorous than black girls and the conquest of the former is therefore more potent to their impotent sense of self worth.
It is inner-city black drug dealers who define powered cocaine as actually being female European Americans; they actually call it Marilyn, white girl, etc.
This is the construct as defined by them not by European Americans.
Timothy G. O’Rourke Jr. The Hill
posted by: Mary Brown on August 14, 2014 9:02am
That video is repulsive and I believe they are using controversy to gain attention. I don’t believe they are talented which is why they resort to such tactics. I feel it is not only degrading to white women but all women. Our young people are the ones watching these videos and it is time for “artists” to step up and represent our communities in a more positive light. They are also promoting drug use which is a major cause of shootings and murders, child neglect and poor education. WAKE UP and do something to help instead of contributing to the social ills of our society. You are either the solution or the problem!
posted by: Babz Rawls Ivy on August 14, 2014 9:34am
15 minutes will be up in about 2 minutes…. then they will go away. What they so laughingly called art will be used against us as an entire group of people. They have no idea the harm, the backlash and the mess they have created. All they want is fame…. fame without thought, without concern for who they represent. They come from this mess… it is generational… it is systemic. They can’t rise in thought or consciousness… how could they? If they think this is clever or funny or hot then you already know the level of ignorance you are dealing with. They ain’t Chuck D. They aren’t Paul Robeson and countless other real artist. So while I am annoyed… We all have to own some responsibility for producing boys who would degrade women…. We haven’t done enough to insist on their education and concern for humanity. No God fearing man worth anything would even think to portray women in this fashion. So while they will do their best in their limited ability to explain this mess… We know better.
posted by: TrumanStreetResident on August 14, 2014 9:35am
I saw the video, I heard the lyrics, I read the interview. I don’t get it ...“the video’s point: to riff on Yale and the cocaine trade; and to promote their growing Chapel Street recording and new-media marketing business”??? That’s not even vaguely apparent in this mess. And that’s what it is ... MESS. You see men - BLACK MEN who have women on leashes. Black or White women - doesn’t matter. You see Black Men holding leashes attached to a collar worn by women who are on their hands and knees !!! This is not artistic - it’s degrading. We’re supposed to be able to see that these two are selling their business and not cocaine? I can hardly understand ‘I got the frat boys doing blow off the table’ and ‘frat girls doing coke from my navel’!!!! This is not the way to promote your business.
posted by: Samuel T. Ross-Lee on August 14, 2014 11:22am
What an interesting, and quite typical, way to avoid taking responsibility for your myopic stance on this Timothy G. ORourke Jr. When White privilege perspective get called out, as I have done here, it generally digs in deeper, so self absorbed and impressed with itself that it can’t seem to come up for air long enough even to recognize the critique.
Perhaps you should direct your question to those who feel that negative actions (real or imagined) by one person or by one group in the African-American community is a reflection on “ALL” of us in the African-American community. A burden that is never put upon the “European American” community and one that is never embraced by the same.
I have two things to say. One these men don’t have any talent; I could not stand to listen to the annoying altered voice reciting meaningless words.
And two, @Timothy G. ORourke Jr., now you have an idea of how black people feel when we just think about what our ancestors had to endure in real life, not in some stupid music video.
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on August 14, 2014 11:59am
I really do understand what you mean, Reverend.
I do not believe that I am being nearsighted. However, I must confess that I do not see how your point about how white privilege is germane to the terms that were defined by the video.
I do feel concerned, however, that some people identify you with the sort in this video.
I, myself, stick to the axiom of Dr. King who stated that a particular person ought to be judged by the content of their character and as Forest Gump would say stupid is as stupid does.
I do hope that you see that the character of these individuals, and those who assent to the tragic tenets that are instilled by this particular sub-culture, are objectively wrong for so doing.
Timothy G. O’Rourke Jr. The Hill
posted by: Timothy G. ORourke Jr. on August 14, 2014 12:06pm
Mr. Gore, None of my ancestors enslaved African Americans. Slavery is objectively evil for all people and at all times.
Timothy O’Rourke Jr. The Hill
posted by: hair2stay on August 14, 2014 12:20pm
As an Afican Anmerican women I was initially offended by such a visual interpretation of art. As I looked deeper into the different comments and feedback I think this video is very impactful. No one says anything in regards to the black on black crime and the degrading images of black women in hip hop. It has become so common that when you do the opposite White America has a problem.
posted by: Noteworthy on August 14, 2014 12:44pm
1. Put me down as a hater. From the interviews to the video, nothing but tripe to trash. And that’s being kind.
2. This video is degrading to all women, every woman who has ever been or ever will be lead around by a man, any man. What we need are strong, intelligent, centered women who would most likely slap the shxx out of you for even suggesting they pose for such a video.
3. Spark a conversation? I just said my piece.
posted by: hair2stay on August 14, 2014 1:12pm
I read an article today in the New Haven Register in regards to a picture Yale Daily News posted in its paper for incoming freshman representing cultural diversity. White people did not have a problem showing a homeless African American beggar to represent the black people on Yale campus why can’t these young men depict White Yalies as drug addicts that they dominate? Im sure their is some truth to both images.
posted by: TheMadcap on August 14, 2014 1:27pm
Robin Thicke made a video that’s almost as degrading to women and he got a #1 song, go figure. But basically what hair2stay said.
posted by: newhavenhighlight on August 14, 2014 1:32pm
this was a great way to take initiative. This city gives zero opportunity for the urban youth. why haven’t i heard of a small business owner on Yale’s campus until now? imo is unacceptable. Yale does not want the citizens of new haven to come up. Who will wash the dishes? I think thats why he choose to go this route. These guys are the highlights of the city. To be able to maintain a company over the years at Yale is amazing. White people have leashed, killed and mentally manipulated minorities since the start of this country. To me this video put a lot into perspective. Songs is about drugs but he is selling business cards, absolutely genius. I seen 3 women on leashes and about 10 other women with all smiles
posted by: Dwightstreeter on August 14, 2014 3:01pm
Hair2stay wrote that” No one says anything in regards to the black on black crime and the degrading images of black women in hip hop. It has become so common that when you do the opposite White America has a problem.”
But in fact whites identified with African Americans when Trayvon Martin (We are all Trayvon Martin) was murdered, Amadou Dialou and countless others.
A white commenting on black on black crime invites accusations of exploiting an already bad situation.
Same thing re: women in hip hop.
The rampant sexism and debasement of everyone in music videos that are mainly bump and grind have exhausted comment.
The great leaders from the 60s and 70s are dead or tired. It looks like it’s up to regular folks like us to be the grown ups and show the young what mature, healthy adults, male and female, look like.
Instead we have abandoned that role to the media images that cater to the lowest common denominator in the name of making a buck, - I mean creating “art”.
We stand together on the important issues, maybe imperfectly, but together.
posted by: collegegrad on August 14, 2014 4:42pm
i am a college grad and i’m absolutely 100% on their side. black males and females get walked on leashes everyday by america and i don’t see you american conservatives protesting in our honor. but as soon as we do whats been done to us to you we get called all types of n words. i’m going start walking white women everyday now #WalkAWhiteWomenWednesdays anyone ?
posted by: FacChec on August 14, 2014 5:07pm
Hey listen, I think the video is a deadbeat form of artistry and the method used to grab attention apparently is working on this site by the reaction of commenter’s who see race and chained white women as the driving factor.
I think you all should take off the blinders, and look at the video once more in order to absorb the entire narrative of the story, I think the writing explains the pros and cons and the reasoning of the plot very well.
If you only listen to Buchanan and Abdul-Salaam, the businessmen, the reasoning behind the story comes across poorly.
They do point out, however, that the white female actors were solicited and paid $20 per/hr. Other white women and men at the Yale Harvard game allowed their photos to be taken for nothing and probably did not know the purpose of the recording.
As you can see, the film received a lot of cut and paste to form background scenes for the vocal music.
Over all I think the whole production is crap, but they are not trying to sell to people with adverse taste to their music or style.
If you want to really get pissed off about race, go see Django Unchained starring Jamie Foxx. In this film Django kills up a bunch of white people.
Its interesting how all this racially charged criticism is omitting the fact that everyone in this video were active participants. The white women were not manipulated to do this role. It looks like they were really acting like a dog. Feminist act as if women do not have the right to choose without being manipulated by men. Well I am Pro Choice. If they choose to do this I support it.
Lady Gaga had black men in chains and Miley cyrus degraded black women at an award show performance. no White outrage. LOL interesting.
Are White men upset because a black man is exhibiting domination over white women? Its the interracial thing right? The music is not that bad and the video is pretty interesting once you get past the controversy.
The outrage is how dare this black man empower himself! It would be ok if he degraded himself by exhibiting guns, sex and drugs but he used business cards and had fully dressed white women at his command. The Nerve (Sarcasm)