Often times, words that once seem offensive and oppressive are altered in meaning and used as a term of endearment. This is true for the word, Bitch. There has been so much controversy over the word, especially in the music industry. In 1994, Queen Latifah released the Grammy-Award winning single, “U.N.I.T.Y” in 1994 from her album, Black Reign. Her single spoke out against the disrespect of women in society, domestic violence and slurs against women in hip hop. In 1996, 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me album dropped, featuring the track, “Wonder Why They Call You” which is a response to C. Delores Tucker, a civil rights activist and politician who took a stance against rap music because of its misogynistic lyrics. During the same time, third wave feminism reclaimed the word bitch, making sure girls took the word and made it their own.
Since then, female rappers have released tracks such as Trina’s 2000 single, “Da Baddest Bytch”; “Queen Bitch” by Lil’ Kim; and Jackie O’s “Self Made Bitch.” Male rappers drop a single about “bitches” constantly. The singles “Bitches Ain’t Sh*t” by YG and “Rack City Bitch” by Tyga, are currently in rotation on local radio stations today.
Some women now claim they are a boss bitch. A good bitch. A real bitch. THAT bitch. The baddest bitch. Queen Bitch. A dope bitch. A gangsta bitch. And any other “bitch” that made them turn the word into a more endearing meaning. This is evident in some scripted series and reality shows such as Basketball Wives and Love & Hip Hop.
Women even created acronyms to justify the use of the word. Here’s one of 53 meanings for the word “Bitch”:
Most women will accept the word bitch coming from another woman as long as she doesn’t have an aggressive tone. But a lot of women will not accept the word Bitch from men. Lupe Fiasco recently released his latest single, “Bitch Bad” and addressed this very issue in some of the song’s lyrics: “He caught in a reality, she caught in an illusion Bad mean good to her, she really nice and smart But bad mean bad to him, bitch don’t play your part… But bitch still bad to her if you say it the WRONG way But she think she a bitch, what a double entendre.” Meaning she identifies herself as a “Bad Bitch” but only in the “right” context.
Lupe Fiasco wanted to start a “conversation” and he has definitely started a few, especially on social media. Some people claim he is “mansplaining” meaning he’s explaining the word in a patronizing manner. Some people, like myself, love the song and video (which you can watch below). He’s showing how children who are too young to comprehend the meaning of the word grow up in a “fruit of confusion.” Young men hear their strong, hard-working mother rhyme along with a rapper saying, “I’m a bad bitch…far above average” and ultimately relates the word Bitch to his mother. Young girls watch music videos that show scantily clad women who have rappers saying rhymes such as “bad bitches…that’s all I want and all I like in life is bad bitches.” Therefore, the young girl wants to be THAT bad bitch and would often times emulate the paid female “actress” in the video to get the attention from men who have the money, power and respect like the rapper. His video incorporates actors in Blackface which was prevalent in the 1830s to the early 1980s. Lupe Fiasco is illustrating how much has not changed because some rappers and video vixens are still subjects of White laughs and profit.
Some hip hop listeners are accustomed to hearing the word bitch in every song and now they have a problem with Lupe Fiasco trying to show the problem. Instead of attacking the rappers who constantly call women out of their name, the audience is faulting Lupe for starting a discussion that gets swept under the rug in the music industry. Will his record get as much radio airplay as songs constantly degrading women? Will his video get as many views as the videos with women wearing close to nothing? Wishful thinking would say yes, but reality says no because people rarely want to hear the truth.
“Bitch Bad” goes beyond women calling each other bitches or men calling women bitches. Lupe Fiasco is pointing out that children are misguided by what they see and what they hear. So I must agree with him…the audience is definitely “misunderstood.”
What do you think of Lupe Fiasco’s new song and video?