I remember marathoning Will Smith's '90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air for the first time last summer and feeling betrayed when a central character, Aunt Vivian, was replaced by another actress at the beginning of the show's fourth season. The new Aunt Viv was lighter skinned, and also lacked the original's energy, humor, and charisma. She was, frankly, boring. Recently, the conversation around the switch was stoked once again when Janet Hubert, the first actress to play Aunt Viv, made a video aimed at Smith regarding #OscarsSoWhite and bringing up her departure from the show. Theories about why Hubert left ranged from her "difficult" behavior on set to debates about colorism.
Berhana, an Atlanta artist whose music is an experiment in freeform R&B, draws on the Aunt Viv controversy for his new song "Janet." On first listen, it's easy to get lost in the track's upbeat and lush production, but when Berhana's sprawling vocals hit, there's a twinge of sadness as he contemplates his own fate: Wonder if you'll dismiss me, maybe light-skin Aunt Viv me.
Today, we're premiering the video to "Janet" in which Berhana rides his bike in a nondescript suburbia wearing nondescript clothes. He could be anyone anywhere at anytime. "I could go to Julliard, work on Broadway, get a lead role on an NBC sitcom, and none of that shit's gonna matter," he told The FADER via email. "At any point I can be dismissed as crazy and it's a fucking wrap."
Watch the video for "Janet" above and listen to his self-titled EP here.