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Updated: Aug 20, 2020

Janet: Berhana

Production: Sapphire Adizes

Album: berhana EP

“Almost the same but not quite -

Almost the same but not white”.

Homi Bhabha

If skin is a mask, then the on-beat keyboard chords that begin Janet are the perfect veils for Berhana’s wittily powerful racial satire that soon follows.

The track is disguised as every other neo-RnB song of the past few years – clean, not too challenging, and extremely listenable. Its content, though, goes beyond its shallower exterior, as Berhana touches on gradations of racism, and his own personal position in the diaspora. Focusing on Janet Hubert’s infamous replacement on The Fresh Prince by light-skinned actress Daphne Maxwell Reid, Berhana is content to comment without commentating, happy to dilute the more on-the-nose references – “wonder if you’ll dismiss me/maybe light-skin Aunt Viv me” – with more generic contemporary RnB filler – “Was thinking it’s time to dance, dance”.

As such, the track can blend into the background; musically similar to efforts by the Brockhampton’s of this world.

Well, almost the same – but not quite.


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