A recently resurfaced Beats by Dre commercial starring “In The Party” rapper Flo Milli hit the Twittersphere today and boy, do I have questions. But first, let’s get a little background on this commercial, shall we?
You see, back in November, 9to5Mac reported that Beats launched their Flex That campaign to promote their new Beats Flex headphones as well as their messages for racial equality. The headphones replaced BeatsX as the cheapest headphones sold under the brand, with the campaign featuring tennis champion Naomi Osaka, rapper and activist Cordae (also Osaka’s boyfriend), and “Beef FloMix” rapper Flo Milli showing off the new product. Per the official campaign description from Beats:
To promote its recently launched Beats Flex wireless earphones, Beats by Dr. Dre presents its new campaign FLEX THAT, made up of a series of vignettes—each starring influential Black, Gen Z talent who continue to take a stand against racial inequality while inspiring youth around the world to bravely challenge norms, push boundaries and celebrate their identities.
The campaign consists of three videos from Osaka, Cordae, and Flo Milli but it’s the latter that has garnered interesting reactions on social media. In the video, Flo Milli can be seen dancing in front of a Confederate statue to her song “May I?” While I have no problem with Flo Milli or the song, (get your coins, sis) I—and a whole gang of other folks—have a few questions about this particular commercial and concept.
- What exactly was the reasoning and intent? Yeah, yeah I know what the statement says. But seriously? I would like to know. I understand artistic expression through song and dance in defiance to oppressive forces has a long history within our community, buuuut. This commercial just isn’t giving off what they thought it was going to give. I hate to say it, but it honestly feels like another version of that Kendall Jenner x Pepsi commercial. (I know y’all remember that heinous spot.) And I really do hate that for everyone involved.
- The second question I have is why is this video just now hitting the internet two months after its original November launch? I’m always curious as to the timing of things, blame it on my inner skeptic. But seeing as how social media regularly circulates old things, I doubt there was some malicious intent behind it. However, it’s also worth noting that while Osaka and Cordae’s videos are still up on the Beats by Dre YouTube page, Flo Milli’s isn’t. In fact, if it weren’t for the above tweet, we wouldn’t even know that the video existed. Do with that what you will.
- My last and arguably most important question is: WTF does “flex that clapback” even mean? And who was responsible? You mean to tell me Jamal the Intern couldn’t swing on over to Beats on his lunch break and tell them to pump the brakes before going live with that slogan? Flex. That. Clapback? It sounds like something a white suburban freshman at an HBCU would say during a class icebreaker. It sounds like a low-budget t-shirt line every Karen, Becky, and Susan would wear to the PTA meeting. It sounds utterly and undeniably ridiculous.
I don’t ever want to hear or see this phrase ever again in my life—or this commercial. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go have a Pepsi and erase this video from my memory.