Celebrities have chimed in, critics have put their two cents in and even controversial commentator Rush Limbaugh has gone on a rant: and it’s all over Beyonce’s new tune “Bow Down/Been On,” which was released March 17 on her tumblr page. In the gritty new single, Beyonce un-apologetically proclaims her superiority within the music game by telling women, and particularly female haters that she is on a royal level, thus requiring them to bow at her presence.
Before getting into the technical aspects of this song, let’s run down the reasons why Bey has allegedly gone on a power trip. Beyonce is literally in a class by herself in terms of record sales, musical ability, and popularity. She’s been in the game for over 10 years, first with the chart topping female group Destiny’s Child, and then as a solo artist, and has managed to murder(in a metaphorical sense) every project she attaches her name to, ie, film, clothing, Superbowl, concerts, and the list goes on. And, lets not forget, she is married to one of the hottest hip hop artists on the planet, and her marriage has done nothing but enhance both her and Jay-Z’s fame and fortune. So, having conquered so many areas of showbiz, the question remains: does Beyonce have the right to overemphasize her diva-ish image by referring to females as “bitches?”
As a woman, my first thought is that no one deserves to be called that derogatory word, regardless of whether it comes from a man or woman. It’s enough that women have to be subjected to misogynistic lyricism within hip hop, but when that kind of lyrical criticism comes from women, it’s as if it gives male artists further incentive to continue using the term in their music. And just because Beyonce has reached mega superstar status, that does not give her the right to exercise poor judgement and arrogant behavior.
However, lets not forget that Beyonce is not the first woman to use the “B” word in a song. This issue within music has been going on for many years, from Lil Kim to Foxy Brown and has most recently been solidified by hip hop diva Nicki Minaj. There are plenty of songs in which she uses the word, so what makes Beyonce’s song any more controversial or inappropriate then Minaj’s many tunes, especially her song “Stupid Hoe,” which she distinctively dedicates to all her female haters, much like “Bow Down” does.
“Get it cracking like a bad back/Bitch talkin she the queen when she looking like a lab rat/I’m Angelina, you Jennifer/Come on bitch, you see where Brad at,” are just a few of the lines from “Stupid Hoe.” But, what makes it so bad is that people were more upset over the eccentric video rather than the song, which bluntly bashes all females who do not like Minaj. So again, what makes “Bow Down” so completely taboo?
If anything, “Bow Down” is a perfect example of hip hop’s unequivocal influence on R&B, both from a lyrical and instrumental standpoint. From its southern chopped and screwed style, made popular in Bey’s hometown of Houston to its hardcore word play, “Bow Down” is hip hop to the core.
Bey gravitates towards the braggadocio mechanisms that dominate the lyrical structure of hip hop. Boasting on herself while slamming her haters further showcases her relevance within the music industry and also demonstrates the controversy factor, which we all know is many hip hop artist’s main goal when selling records. Controversy equals relevance which equals more record sales. The outcome may not always be positive, but at least it gets people talking. And from the first day the record was released, “Bow Down” made some major noise on the blogsphere and had everyone giving their opinion about the song.
There are many more layers to this Beyonce issue, and they will continue to surface as time goes on, but at the end of the day, this song does not define Beyonce as an artist. And for those who follow her music, they know that she is much more talented than this song suggests. The song was not meant to showcase her musical prowess and I doubt if it will be on her next album.