- Let’s Talk About Beyonce Specifically
- The Sample
- I Thought We Already Knew
- In the Beginning there was Destiny’s Child…
- Let’s Talk About Sexism
- Boys Will Be Boys?
- References and Footnotes
I already said my peace about what TD Jakes had to say about women in his viral sermon clip (
Before we dive in to the topic of sexism and how this relates to the criticism of Beyoncé’s latest song, I want to make one thing in particular clear: I do not listen to Beyoncé and this post is not absolving or excusing her from the accusations made against her.
Let’s Talk About Beyonce Specifically
In many instances, the complaint that came up was the fact that she sampled a gospel song. For those who are unaware, in order to sample a song you have to go through proper legal proceedings. It is not like quoting a person where you just slap some quotations on it and cite your sources at the end of the paper. In the music industry they have what is referred to as a master—essentially the original track. Whoever owns the master owns the song and must sign off on usage of the song. Sampling without this sign off opens the door for lawsuits.
There are two possibilities when it comes to the ownership of the sampled song: it is either owned by the gospel artist (Twinkie Clark), or it’s owned by her recording label at the time the song was created. From what I could find on the internet, she has belonged to several different labels, but they all appear to be specifically for gospel artists. This means that there is a high probably that she or the label signed off on Beyonce using the sample. I have a hunch that she signed off and knew exactly what would be done with it, especially since there is a video of her sister (and group mate of The Clark Sisters) essentially condoning it.
I Thought We Already Knew
Beyoncé’s name has been popping up in conversations about demonic celebrities since she literally claimed an alter ego performs for her and does things she cannot or would not do—she even contrasted this alter ego with “I Am”, the translation of the Hebrew name for the Most High. Most people I know are aware of the accusations that Beyoncé is possessed or part of the illuminati (or both) and either don’t care or have already left “the hive.” I was shocked that people were shocked; to me people reacting to this song is like someone reacting to Kirk Franklin releasing a gospel song.
That being said, everyone is on a journey and I realize that there are some who have never heard that something was amiss with Beyoncé (the whole industry, really) or didn’t get it until this album. So I understand the need to reiterate things that seem “old hat” to us “old folk.” However, going in to the first video (Allen Parr’s), I assumed it was common knowledge that Beyoncé’s music was far from wholesome. I clicked play because I thought simply “far from wholesome” had turned into “all hail Satan” in the chorus or something.
In the Beginning there was Destiny’s Child…
I grew up with Destiny’s Child—the girl group that launched Beyoncé’s career for those who missed that era. Destiny’s Child’s sophomore album The Writing’s On The Wall was released when I was in middle school, and I listened to the album on repeat. Most people know the hits like “Bills, Bills, Bills,” and “Say My Name,” but there was also a track on that album called “If You Leave.” The song is implicitly about an affair—it’s a man and a woman discussing leaving their respective significant others and running off together. In addition there is a song called “Stay” about a young girl deciding to have sex with her boyfriend for the first time. Did I mention each song on the album is strung together with a 10 Commandment-esque phrase like “Thou shalt say my name”?
Now, the songs released by Destiny’s Child were no where as explicit as the songs Beyoncé has released in her adulthood, but as a girl group they were marketed to teens and tweens. Beyonce was only 18 when the album was released and is listed as a producer on the album. I was 11 years old and knew every song word for word, and “Stay” was one my favorites (sonically, that is). It may not be explicit, but looking back, I can’t say that the lyrics of the album were wholesome, uplifting, or even what an 11 year old girl should be relating to. Yet, the outro to the album is “Amazing Grace.”
I say all this to say, Beyoncé was never wholesome and this idea of flirting between secular and sacred is not new for Beyoncé.
Let’s Talk About Sexism
So, why are people so worked up over Beyoncé now? Many of the videos that I saw popping up on YouTube seemed to be about one specific song based on their titles, but the video by Allen Parr dissects her whole album. We could argue that most people are concerned because Beyoncé is speaking to “Church Girls” and encouraging them to be wild and worldly. However, I remember not too long ago people were just as frenzied about WAP—another song I’ve never heard and don’t care to hear, but I’ve seen the lyrics to it because everyone and their mother couldn’t stop talking about how filthy it was.
Like I said in my disclaimer, I’m not defending these songs by any means. Yet, we need to talk about the fact that I have never heard anyone complain or shine a light on the lyrics sung (or rapped) by men. I don’t keep up with music trends anymore, so forgive me for sharing dated references, but I want to take a minute to highlight the lyrical content of the popular songs sung by male artists when I did follow the latest artists. (I’ll put them under toggles for those who would prefer not to read or be reminded of such language.)
Keep that p****, I want yo throat
Front that head 'fore you go
Wet yo' mouth 'fore you blow
Must get Becky 'fore I bow
You Miss Becky? Let me know
Licky, licky, I love that, bro
Head n****, that's 'fo sho
I'mma lock yo jaws 'fore I go
I make her feel right when it's wrong, like lying (Yeah) Man, she ain't never had a love like mine (Yeah) But man, I ain't never seen a a** like hers (Go!) That p**** in my mouth, had me lost for words (Go!)
When I hit 'em I make 'em say (Oh) Sex be my day (Job) I hit 'em in the back of my (car) Make 'em ride like a see (saw) I make 'em laugh and giggle Cuddle a little Suck on the nipple Lick the whip cream from the middle Girlfriend I never go (raw) I rip off panties and I pop off (bras) B.L.U.E.S.T.A. (R) Ask around the block how freaky we (are) I drink Red Bull so I keep stamina Rubbing your belly Busting your brains Whats my name (whats my name)
Put molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain't even know it
And she never seen a trick until she met my magic stick
Girl, I'm a pimp spit straight game, never no simp'
And after we did it she was walking with a limp
Bust it open, leave it wet, you know I leave it soakin'
Who next? I don't ever close, I stay open
I met her in the club, you know I was drunk
I asked her name and then I said: "I wanna f***"
And I'm YG and you know I f***
And she f***ed back like a little sl*t
And she fell in love, yeah and she felt stupid
Cause you know, I toot it and boot it
Other songs that pop into memory are “Buss It Wide Open” by Lil Kee, “Hot Tottie” by Usher ft. Jay Z, “Loyal” by Chris Brown… I could probably sit here all day and list out explicit songs by men.
Boys Will Be Boys?
While I can admit there are pastors who condemn whole genres of music because of such lyrics (that’s a whole ‘nother article), I have never seen the same kind of outrage or effort placed in talking about men’s lyrics. Growing up, when me and my friends were listening to this, I never heard a pastor stop and say “Now, young men, this is not how a man of God treats women” or “Young women, you are worth so much more than what these songs are describing.”
When Allen Parr discusses Beyoncé’s lyrics, he calls out blasphemy where she calls someone a god, but when “Hot Tottie” came out, there were no think pieces on the fact that her husband Jay-Z (who refers to himself as Jay Hov…as in Jehovah) calls himself a god. Presently, I’ve only seen one ministry tackle DJ Kahlid’s song “God Did,” which is outrageously blasphemous and features Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, John Legend, and Fridayy.
He talks about her “taking the Lord’s name in vain” because she uses the phrase g**d***, but there are two issues with this as an attack on her album. The first is that God is His title, not His name. Taking the Lord’s name is vain is so much more than “OMG” or the aforementioned phrase. Taking His name in vain is everything from misrepresenting God to improperly using His actual name. In X-Men: Apocalypse, there is a scene where Apocalypse says “I've been called many names over many lifetimes, Ra, Krishna, Yahweh” (in the trailer he says YHWH, God’s name, in the movie he uses Elohim, the Hebrew word meaning God). The character is committing blasphemy, but the writer and actor used YHWH’s name in vain. Again, I did not see pastors clamoring to get the message out that X-Men was a Satanic movie.
He critiques her song where she brags about being number one. Again, pardon the outdated references, but in school I remember rapping along with Ludacris in “Number One Spot” and Nelly in “#1.” No one spent energy complaining about this bravado and arrogance then. To be honest, you’d be hard pressed to find a Hip Hop artist that does not have a single song boasting, it’s definitely part of the culture. Eminem called himself a Rap god…
Mr. Parr says the lyrics are the raunchiest lyrics he’s ever heard, then proceeds to lyrics that sound very much like the ones I listed above. Honestly, many of the lyrics he points out are metaphors. Where was he when “Ignition” by R. Kelly came out? How is “Let me stick my key in your ignition” not raunchier than “I wanna go higher, can I sit on top of you?”
Going back to the sample. People were upset that she sampled a gospel song, but there are gospel songs sampled from secular music. The entire genre of gospel is an offshoot of what was popular at the time. Even the old hymns were popular tunes back in the day. I remember being in church once and them playing a song by a male Christian artist that sampled from a Hip Hop song. I could not concentrate on the new Christian lyrics because the beat triggered my memory of the vulgar rap lyrics. Why are we considering one acceptable and the other not? (Now there’s a whole history of believers thinking they can “Christianize” pagan and secular things that takes the answer to this question well past sexism, but it’s still something to think about.)
This is not an argument that because men do it so women should be able to do it—two wrongs don’t make a right. This is a calling out of the fact that there is a double standard. Why are we not equally enraged with male lyrics? The underlying message is that men can enjoy sex and speak vulgarly, but women can not. This is not the message of YHWH.
My problem isn’t that we’re criticizing Beyoncé—in fact, I agree with almost all the criticism. My problem is that the loudest voices in the church are only setting standards for women and only women are expected to uphold standards. Just think, the clip that went viral from TD Jake’s Father’s Day sermon is him telling women what’s wrong with them. I hope the rest of the sermon was him telling men how to help women.
The danger of this hypocrisy is that souls are at risk.
References and Footnotes
- The BEAT by Allen Parr. “MY REACTION to Beyonce’s New SATANIC Renaissance Album”. YouTube. August 4, 2022
- Midnight Cry Media. “Christians Attack Beyoncé's Church Girl... Are They Right?”. YouTube. August 30, 2022
- Takeout Media. “COGIC Bishop Wooden Goes OFF On Beyoncé, Twinkie Clark, The Clark Sisters Over “Church Girl” 🚨VIDEO”. YouTube. August 11, 2022
- OWN. “Beyoncé on Her Alter Ego, Sasha Fierce | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network”. YouTube. August 17, 2019
- Pretty Ricky. “Grind on Me”. Genius; visited August 2022
- Lil Wayne. “Lollipop”. Genius; visited August 2022
- Rocko. “U.O.E.N.O”. Genius; visited September 2022
- There are so many more; whether it’s sexually explicit or misgyny or just explicit for the sake of being explicit. I was able to find lists from other people if you are looking for more examples: “12 Songs With Lyrics That Are Actually Super Misogynistic,” “10 Most Sexual Raps By Male Artists the Became Hits”
- Plies. “Becky”. Genius; visited September 2022
- YG. “Toot It and Boot It”. Genius; visited September 2022
- 20th Century Studios. “X-Men: Apocalypse | Teaser Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX”. YouTube. December 11, 2015