An Exclusive Interview With ‘Tyrone’ of Erykah Badu Infamy

Illustration for article titled An Exclusive Interview With ‘Tyrone’ of Erykah Badu Infamy
Photo: Shutterstock

Following the highly successful Verzuz event featuring Erykah Badu and Jill Scott, a particularly interesting recurring convo arose about Erykah’s impromptu hit song, “Tyrone.” Namely, the fact that the song’s popularity also resulted in a particular negative association with the titular character. Now, the long-maligned Tyrone is finally setting the record straight, in his own words.


Though Zoom meetings are currently all the rage during the lockdown, Tyrone insisted that Entertainment Writer Tonja Renée Stidhum visit his dimly lit office (for the sake of hiding his identity) to conduct the interview since he didn’t trust Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype calls to conduct meetings. While she did initially hesitate, she eventually obliged since she’s serious about this investigative reporting shit. But, don’t worry, they were social distancing.

Hey, Tyrone. Thanks for speaking with me.

Now keep in mind, I’m fuckboy-adjacent, and I’m sensitive about my shit. But, let me start by saying that I’m going to actually follow Bro Code here. I’m not going to rat out my homeboy in order to save my reputation, which is already irreversibly damaged at this point, anyway. So, don’t ask me his name. I won’t say it.

Fair enough. How has life been for you ever since Erykah took that stage and essentially made a mark on pop culture?

Man, it’s been a living hell. My main problem used to be the fear of being associated as some white dude’s black friend or not getting a job I want because The Man saw “Tyrone” on a resume, but ever since that fateful night in 1997, I can’t even go on a date without someone being suspicious of my motives. My name is forever tarnished. But, I know people disregard lyrics all the time.

True. Look at Maxwell’s “Pretty Wings!”

Right? Folks think that song is romantic, but it’s really about fried chicken.

Uh, I don’t think that’s the discrepancy…anyway, moving on...on Saturday night, Erykah attempted to either play or perform her hit song, “Tyrone,” but she was mysteriously disconnected from the Instagram Live seconds before she started. Unnamed sources believe you may have had something to do with it. Would you like to go on record and comment on this matter?

I don’t even fuck with Instagram like that. My only vices are Newport 100s and velour tracksuits. Teddy [Riley] looked sharp as hell a few weeks ago.


Wait, how did you know about Teddy...I thought you just said…?

You want something to drink? I got some sparkling Kool-Aid in the fridge.

Huh? No, thank you. Now, while it is true that “Tyrone” is not Erykah’s fuckboy and is essentially someone who got struck by a stray bullet, it could be argued that the aforementioned Tyrone isn’t as innocent as he appears. Erykah did mention that she had to reach “down in [her] her purse to pay [his] way and [his] homeboy’s way and sometimes [his] cousin’s way.” Between James, Jim, Paul and you, is it valid to believe that you could be one of the homeboys that Erykah had to occasionally sponsor?

Look, I am not the nigga hanging on the passenger side of his best friend’s ride. Clearly, I have a car because I was the first one she thought of to retrieve her dude’s Playstation and shit.


Valid. Speaking of which, The Root’s Senior Writer Michael Harriot speculated that the reason why Erykah brought up your name is because you two were secretly having an affair. Can you please comment on that?

What?! That’s ridiculous. That is completely unfounded. I may have made a fresh comment after I saw the “Window Seat” music video, but literally everyone else did too. I’m tired of this slander!!!


OK, OK, let’s lighten the mood a bit. I happen to believe that Jill Scott was talking about savory grits when she sang the word, “griiiiiiiits” in her song, “The Way.” So, do you prefer savory or sugar grits?


This is a safe space.

Ha! There is no safe space. Safe spaces are an illusion created by friends who invite you out to brunch only to ambush you with their latest pyramid scheme.


Fair enough. I guess that didn’t lighten any moods, after all. Uh…you like Brazilian music?


Cool. And now the ultimate question: though the Erykah vs. Jill Verzuz was ultimately a bonding rather than a battle, in keeping up with the nature of the event’s name…who do you think won on Saturday night?

I can’t call it. Like I mentioned prior to this interview, I’m so traumatized by the turn of events, I can’t call anything. I don’t participate in any kind of calling, whether that be by phone, listening to Usher’s “You Don’t Have To Call” or—and this is the hardest of them all—booty calls. *shudder*


Yikes. Thanks so much for speaking with me! I have to call my Uber…mind if I stay inside before it arrives?

Sure, but you can’t use my phone, either.

The Root is continuing its investigation and we will provide updates as they develop. Please be advised that we have also received unconfirmed rumors and tips that Senior Editor Stephen Crockett, Jr. is actually Tyrone due to his pervasive defense of the titular character who he believes shouldn’t have to be in witness protection just for “being a supportive friend”—including, but not limited to, offering other examples of famous “Tyrones” such as A.C. Cowlings (OJ Simpson), Ellen Degeneres (George Bush) and Tommy (Martin Lawrence).

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.



Grits are gross. If the whole debate depends upon what you add to them to give them some sort of flavor on a spectrum that goes from savory to sweet, then you know you’re talking about flavorless mush.  “nonono you have to try it with jalapenos!”