Keke Palmer drops a dose of petty in Usher’s ‘Boyfriend’ video, and I’m here for it

Written by on August 17, 2023

(Screenshot via YouTube)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Now this is what trolling your ex to the nth degree really looks like. Keke Palmer done dropped a bomb on her now reportedly ex-boyfriend Darius Jackson in the form of a video with Usher for “Boyfriend” where Palmer looks sexy, flirty, lusty and free. She’s dancing with Usher and having fun with him in matching outfits and wearing his chain … I bet ol’ Jackson is in his feelings right now. He should be thinking about how badly he messed up. 

It all started when Palmer went to an Usher show in Las Vegas and ended up dancing onstage with him. That happens. That’s normal. It’s nothing a boyfriend/husband should be worried about. But after the show, Palmer’s boyfriend had something to say. Jackson, who was Palmer’s boyfriend and is still the father of her child, criticized Palmer on IG, writing, “It’s the outfit tho.. you a mom.”

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So let me get this straight — he’s slut-shaming and mom-shaming her and policing her clothes. And he’s doing all of this out in public to a public figure. Seriously? If the walls of their home could talk, you know they’d have a crazy story to tell about what happened after Palmer got home because Palmer and Jackson are now broken up and now Palmer is in Usher’s video doing all sorts of things Jackson would probably hate. It looks like she’s rubbing her freedom all up in his face, and I’m so here for it.

In Usher’s video, Palmer is sending a message to Jackson that he can’t control her, he can’t tell her what to do, he can’t stop her from doing whatever she wants. And she’s teasing the idea that maybe there is a connection between her and Usher because they spend a lot of time together in this video, and the spark between them is real. This is the craziest troll of an ex ever. Good for her. Jackson should probably go into the witness protection program and start life again under a new name because the one he’s got is mud.

As many have noted, it’s wildly audacious for Jackson to think that he could dictate what Palmer does or wears when the fact is that she was the breadwinner. That said, if Jackson was the breadwinner in their relationship it would still not be OK for him to think he could control her. But when she’s providing for their lifestyle, he should perhaps be — how to say this? — uh, extra respectful.

I see two major lessons in all of this. First, don’t try to control the woman you’re in a relationship with. You don’t want to be the voice of no in her life. She’s probably going to do what she wants anyway. Or she’ll do what you say and ultimately be unhappy about it. Either way, you’re going to lose because you’re the one holding her down. What she probably needs is more of a cheerleader, telling her she’s great, rather than someone telling her what she can’t do. 

The second major lesson I see here is that if you’re dating an artist of any sort, you better be careful. If you mess up, you will become fodder for their art. You will become a character in a novel or a movie or a music video or something, and you will look bad, and everyone will hear their side and not yours. It might have been fun being Palmer’s boyfriend when y’all were walking into big events together because she’s a star, but now that it’s over, and you’re getting dissed in front of all of Black America, it ain’t no fun. Just don’t tell your woman what she can’t do. Whether she’s famous or not, don’t be that guy.


Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s.” He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.

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