Sunday Music: I’m Sorry Ms. Jackson

Sometimes a song can make you feel young and old all at once. OutKast just released a 20th Anniversary edition of Stankonia. I was in college when the album and its chart-dominating single, “Ms. Jackson,” was playing everywhere. It’s been a mental time-warp revisiting the whole record, but especially this track.

I remember, but I’m almost surprised by just how mature the song is. To go past the baby momma and focus on the baby momma’s momma was clever, but it’s the honesty about the struggles and frustrations of being a parent across generations in a divided household that’s brilliant. Life is messy. “Ms. Jackson” is a beautiful interpretation of that mess.

A small sample of the lyrics from the middle of the song that I’m even more impressed by now:

Me and yo’ daughter, got’s this thing going on
(We got a special kind of thing going on)
You say it’s puppy love
We say it’s full grown
Hope that we feel this, feel this way forever
You can plan a pretty picnic
But you can’t predict the weather, Ms. Jackson

Ten times out of nine, now if I’m lyin’ fine
The quickest muzzle throw it on my mouth and I’ll decline
King meets queen, then the puppy love thing, together dream
Bout that crib with the Goodyear swing
On the oak tree, I hope we feel like this forever
Forever, forever, ever, forever, ever?
Forever never seems that long until you’re grown
And notice that the day by day ruler can’t be too wrong
Ms. Jackson my intentions were good I wish I could
Become a magician to abracadabra all the sadder
Thoughts of me, thoughts of she, thoughts of he
Asking what happened to the feeling that her and me
Had, I pray so much about it need some knee, pads
It happened for a reason one can’t be, mad
So know this, know that everything’s cool
And yes I will be present on the first day of school, and graduation

I’m sorry Ms. Jackson (oh), I am for real
Never meant to make your daughter cry
I apologize a trillion times

Twenty years on, and this chorus is still so, so damn infectious. I’m sorry Ms. Jackson…

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