The Analysis of a Grown Woman: I Got a Cute Face and my Booty’s so Fat

Beyonce’s “Grown Woman” had me jumping in my seat. My dancing juices overflowed until I was on my feet gyrating all over my office. Music that makes me dance and excites me to get work done is like a magical drug that cures all fatigue, depression, stress, worry. It is everything. Until I listen to the lyrics.

The problem with music like this is not the beat. This powerful drug gets into our subconscious, with all the subliminal and overt messages. I’m a grown woman too. But I can’t do whatever I want. I can do what I think is right.

The problem is that the content is so embarrassing. (See comments on lyrics below) The videos are embarrassing. I don’t think being a grown woman means that you can sleep with whomever you want and do it all night long. The hype about Beyonce sampling Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is especially embarrassing when juxtaposed with a song like “Grown Woman”. Adichie’s people seem to be happy about it. People are talking feminism, but I’m wondering if these people have ever seen Beyonce. She’s a business woman. And apparently, now a stripper as well.

“You really wanna know how I got it like that, cause I got a cute face and my booty’s so fat” How many young girls—women—think—subconsciously, albeit—that their “cute face” and “fat booty” should get them whatever they want. Thanks to all the great work by business women like Nicki Minaj and Beyonce.

The Ismael Kouyaté ( I originally thought it was Youssou N’dour ) sample means two things. African musicians are being rewarded financially for really being the backbone of the invention of music. Great. The insult though, of juxtaposing classic African music with lyrics like “cause I got a cute face and my booty’s so fat” makes me cringe. She just cheapened mbalax music and it doesn’t seem to matter because 90% of the people listening to her music are going to say “oh that’s hot” without having a clue what mbalax and Kouyaté’s predecessors like Youssou N’dour mean to African music and people. The constant sampling does not mean that African music has arrived, rather, it means that Beyonce has struck African gold. Nothing new in western industry… The west is doing what is has always done: making money off African gems.

Imagine my insult when a quick search revealed that most of the people who wrote about the song didn’t even name the African singer, the genre or anything of value. Referring to the sample this way, for example: “This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has flirted with Afrobeat. … and the funky vibe is revisited on ‘Grown Woman.’ Bey advances it by integrating African chants into the beat, making it one of her more interesting sonic offerings.” Phock yo funky vibe. It’s not a funky vibe. Phock yo “chants”. It’s called music. It’s a genre that has pleased millions of people for generations. Shut up.

I’m a bit relieved it wasn’t a sample from the legend himself. I was rather livid when I thought it was N’dour.

My thoughts on the lyrics below.

I remember being young and so brave
I knew what I needed
I was spending all my nights and days laid back day dreaming
Look at me – I’m a big girl now, said I’m gon’ do something
Told the world I would paint this town
But now bitches I run this

(Who exactly is yo “b*tch”? You’re a mother, homie, get yo life)

‘Cause I put it (down like that, down like that)
And I’m making (all these racks, all these racks)
And I’m moving (round like that, round like that)
when I do it (I don’t look back, don’t look back).

(You’ve arrived because you make a lot of money (racks)…and you have sexual prowess. Got it.)

I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want

(It would be great if she was saying I can be president if I want, I can heal if I want, I can own land if I want. But no, she’s saying…)

I can be bad if I want
I can do wrong if I want
I can live fast if I want
I can go slow all night long

I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want

.

.

.

I’m a grown woman
So I know how to ride it

( How bout we know how to read it…books that is…get degrees and sh!+)

I’m a grown woman
And I’m so erotic
I’m a grown woman
Look down, got you so excited
I’m a grown woman
Look at my body

It ain’t no fun
If a girl can’t have none.
You really wanna know how I got it like that
‘Cause I got a cute face
And my booty so fat

(Really, dude?)

Go girl (go girl)
She got that bomb (that bomb)
That girl can get whatever she wants.
Go girl (hey girl),
She got that tight (that tight).
Them boys,
They do whatever she like.

(The moral of the song: that girl who has that bomb p**** and is prepared to make money off it, can get whatever she wants. But I scratch my head at how she uses her bomb p**** to get whatever she wants, yet it’s still “tight”… Nevermind)

I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want.
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want.
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want.
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want.
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want.
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want.
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want.
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want
I’m a grown woman
I can do whatever I want

I pray that the mothers to young girls who are reading this will continue to teach their girls that they have arrived when they have fulfilled their purpose and been a blessing to the world they live in. Not when they can ride it erotically and make a lot of money doing it.

This guys sums up African samples in pop music pretty well:

“I think a lot of western artists have taken the idea and image of Africa and used it to sell their stuff. I think this does not reflect any real engagement with Africa, I don’t think that anyone comes away with a greater appreciation of Africa. In fact, I think this only reinforces stereotypes about Africa that so many of the artists that I’ve read about since I’ve worked here are trying to change. [They say] “I’m from the Congo, it’s not the land of lions, we’re a modern society where we make modern, cool music. It’s not drums and pyramids… it’s Electro Chaabi”. – Sam Backer, AfroPop

8 responses to “The Analysis of a Grown Woman: I Got a Cute Face and my Booty’s so Fat

  1. Excellent and much needed, the way in which this article opens the discussion to provide an often unheard perspective and understanding… We have to be honest about the implications that this type of music has on us as women of African descent. Even though we love it, we have to at the same time be clear about what that is telling us subconsciously; how it influences our thoughts and even behavior. Love the blue annotations, btw!

  2. “You really wanna know how I got it like that? Cause I got a cute face and my booty’s so phat….”

    I’m not sure why you cannot seem to separate the entertainer Beyonce from the mother and wife when you start metting out your judgements. As an entertainer Beyonce is just honestly admitting that her face and her other assets (pardon the pun) are what sells. Most other days people are arguing over whether she can sing or not. So, now when she admits it here come people like you calling her a stripper?! Really!? That’s what you get from that?

    No woman who ever thought she was cute or had a nice body ever tried to downplay it. I mean, women wear makeup, go work out, try to find the cutest clothes, and other things to look their best. Then when they don’t you (women) label then as depressed and sucicidal. Beyonce is an entertainer and entertainers are there to entertain (be that a singer or a stripper) and to provide for their family. There is nothing wrong with the lyrics of this song. If we can tell our daughters that they can grow up and be whatever they want, including the President of the United States, what happens when that is not what they want to be. Does it then revert to you will be whatever I want you to be?

    • I hear you. But, I actually love Beyonce’s voice. I listen to her music. I think this particular song is a downturn from what she’s capable of. I did mention that she is a business woman and I would never discount the GENIUS behind the visual album. I think there are classy ways to say most everything [even what assets sell], and in the past, she has often been able to do that. As a mother, I don’t think it’s possible to separate my work from my mothering–just me. I try to make sure that everything I do is something I can explain to my daughter later–with pride–and that I would be ok with her doing. But of course, to each her own. This is me simply expressing my disappointment, which I believe is still legal. If we tell our daughters they can be whatever they want, we should give them a wider array of options than being bad, doing wrong, living fast, and having slow sex. I thought it was important to interject this thinking into the foray of “Beyonce is a feminist” breaking news tickers.

  3. What a miserable loser you are. You’re either autistic or being willfully obtuse. It’s a fucking song for god’s sake not her life’s manifesto, you bloody idiot.

  4. I’m sorry but I must say completly disagree with your oppinion. You’re saying Beyoncé is suposed to be a bussiness woman but she’s now a stripper too. First of all, I thought that by 2014 the human race had evolved enough to know that a woman talking about her sex life on her songs pr dancing provocately is not something negative, it is not something bad, and it does not make a woman less valid or less worthy of respect. Feminism isn’t about creating an archetype of woman, it’s about acknowledging that ANY kind of behaviour unless it hurts people around you, is fucking okay.
    It is sad to me to read things like this, saying that Beyoncé isn’t a feminist icon and saying Zimamanda shouldn’t be okay with the video or the lyrics: on the “Flawless” speech she actually says “We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are”, and that’s exactly what you’re doing.
    Your whole “she’s teaching girls they only need to be pretty to be successful in life” point is WRONG: the lyrics are obviously an ironic statement, you only need to listen to the first song of the record, “Pretty Hurts”, where she sings about how being pretty may give you the approval of certain people, but for her “it’s the soul that needs the surgery”, what really matters is to be happy and beauty isn’t going to give you that.
    I hope I’ve proven my point, than you and sorry if there’s any spelling or grammar mistakes, english isn’t my first language.

  5. I think that the lyrics, “I can be bad if I want/ I can do wrong if I want” don’t literally mean, like, “I can break the law ’cause feminism”. I’m pretty sure Beyoncé is refuting the whore/Madonna binary, there. Also, your comment “How bout we know how to read it…books that is…get degrees and sh!+” as a response to “So I know how to ride it” totally suggests to me that you still can’t seem to fully accept that women can be sexual beings and it in no way should reflect poorly on them so long as it is consensual and safe. Beyoncé never said to burn textbooks, she’s just saying that women do not have to be like nuns in order to have power… which is what the patriarchy (you know, the one that has also been endorsing the virgin/whore mentality) has been trying to tell women is the only way to get ahead and stay ahead, while men can have many lovers and no one questions THEIR intellect, or how much they value education.

    • Thank you for your comments. Duly noted. My first thought is that I want to understand when we began to associate publicly sexual availability/activity with true sexual freedom or sexual individuality. Sexual freedom to me means to have the freedom to choose how you express your sexuality, but also your ownership of your person, your body, your sexual organs and finding pleasure in these. Does this mean that every woman who dresses provocatively is sexually active/promiscuous or that she knows where her G-spot is? If we act on a belief that we have to be more sexually available in order to secure a partner, does this mean we are truly free??? There is so much that can be said here (read sex victims’ thwarted expression) and on Beyonce… I fail to see what Beyonce is doing as sexual freedom, rather I see a sexual product for sale. A product that she can not own completely because she is a recording artist on a record label, aiming to sell the maximum number of records. We need to stop looking at Beyonce’s current behavior as a fully authentic expression of her personhood.

      My point about reading and getting degrees dealt with 1) the fact that all the options she gave in this song were things that could easily be given a negative connotation (note: “I can be bad if I want”) and 2) the fact that of course our sexual indulgences have absolutely no bearing on our ability to be scientists, doctorate holders, first ladies… I would have been perfectly unperturbed if the options included the sexual extreme and the intellectual extreme.

      She’s not just saying that women “do not have to be like nuns …to have power” she is endorsing the acquisition of power using sex. I disagree that patriarchy has taught women to only be like nuns in order to get ahead. Beyonce’s rewards are a perfect example.

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