B**** Bad, Woman Good, Lady Better: Lupe Fiasco Gets the Bad Beyotch Meme Right
By Tatianah Green
Chicago artist Lupe Fiasco has returned this summer to take on one of hip hop’s most controversial terms, but his new single “B**** Bad” is not the typical rap song we’ve been exposed to as of late.
One song that is you have probably heard blasted over the radio waves and Internet stations non-stop, “Ayy Ladies” by Lil Wayne’s artist Tyga featuring Travis Porter. The song’s hook and chorus calls the attention of “ladies” and then flips the script and proclaims “If you a top notch b**** let me hear you holler…” and then goes into misogynist instructions for the women who dance to this song. It’s one thing to be called “Miss Independent” (thanks Ne-Yo), and it’s another thing to be called a b****. But not just any b****, a top notch one at that because you make your own money and have your own car and home. I think Miss Independent had a better ring to it.
According to Urban Dictionary, a “bad b****” is a woman who is “Totally mentally gifted and usually also fine as hell” or “Beautiful and Determined.” On that same website, you remove “bad” and get an entirely different definition, perhaps the most popular being “a woman with a bad attitude; annoying and whining,” and the list goes on. Why in recent years is the title of b**** a good thing to be, especially a bad one? That I couldn’t tell you, but even female rappers like Nicki Minaj embrace the term openly in their music. It’s as if the music industry is selling a mentality that men and women are completely misunderstanding.
With kids and adults enjoying the summer weather in their cars, at parties, or listening at home, the question that comes to mind is what will come of those who listen to these types of lyrics? This is where Lupe’s new single comes in. Giving multiple scenarios, the lyricist with a reputation of going his own route and exposing societal ills in all categories, paints a picture of the long-term effects of children—both male and female—growing up listening to the aforementioned rap songs. In the first verse, Lupe describes what happens when a 4-year old boy listens to his mother sing along with a song claiming that she’s a bad b****.
“First he’s relating the word b**** with his mama, comma/And because she’s relating to herself, His most important source of help and mental health/ He may skew respect for dishonor” The chorus goes: “B**** bad, woman good, lady better, they misunderstood.”
In the second verse, he describes a scene of pre-teen girls watching rap videos online with that artist singing “All I want is a bad b****” in what seems all too similar too the sounds of rapper Drake, who has repeatedly sung and rapped about these kind of women. The girls see the video models’ image and that’s where the confusion comes in, according to Lupe.
“Now let’s say that they less concerned with him/And more with the video girl acquiescent to his whims/ Ah, the plot thickens/High heels, long hair, fat booty, slim/Reality check, I’m not trippin’/They don’t see a paid actress, just what makes a bad b****”
The philosophical rapper uses this song as what he refers to as a “psychological weapon” to open up the ears of those listening, especially women who have no choice but to try to block out these messages which the rap community seems all too keen on flooding the airwaves with. The illustration painted in the last verse is likely the most easily seen when we look at how black men and women relate to one another today. Lupe breaks down how these messages of what it is to be a “bad b****” cause a breakdown in relationships between men and women whose own definitions of the phrase influence the way they engage one another.
“He caught in the reality/she caught in the illusion…Bad mean good to her, She really nice and smart/But bad mean bad to him, B**** don’t play a part/But b**** still bad to her if he say it the wrong way/ But she think she a b****, what a double entendre.”
The lyrics are simple but expose the complication of the common trend of taking historically negative terms and trying to flip them into a term of endearment. Lupe Fiasco is known to speak his mind about the industry and society as a whole with songs like “Dumb it Down” and “Words I Never Said.” Now he’s trying to get listeners to think twice before they use the term “bad b****” again. Can this song garner the same popularity as the slew of songs out there that perpetuate the “bad b****” meme? We shall see.
Check out the song below. What do you think about Lupe’s message?
Tatianah Green is a writer and blogger from Chicago. Follow her on twitter at @tfortrendsetta
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