Perfectly fitting for America’s Black History Month, this song has so far been described as politically charged and its clear that there are some strong ‘Black Power’overtones.
The song has been a hit, especially for Black women(like myself) everywhere. It’s lyrically straight forward yet makes a bold and powerful statement in every possible way from the ‘hot sauce’ in Bey’s bag to Black girls rocking their beautiful big Fro’s all over the video.
This is more than just a song with a turnt beat, this is a movement to be reckoned with, keep reading to see me decode what yoncé is really trying to say…
Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess
Paparazzi, catch my fly, and my cocky fresh
I’m so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin’)
I’m so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces
My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole make a Texas bama
I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros
I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils
Earned all this money but they never take the country out me
I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag
‘Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess’ - The opening line of the chorus is very surprising, this is the first time that Beyoncé has addressed, in her music, the rumours that she and her husband Jay-Z belong to a secret society known as the illuminati. By describing it as ‘mess’we can be sure that Beyoncé is denying belonging to any shady group. The fact that Bey addresses these people that spread and believe these rumours as ‘haters’ she is highlighting the fact that many like to put all of her success down to her being in a society rather than giving her credit for her undeniable talent and relentless hard work, therefore these people are nothing more than jealous.
‘My daddy Alabama, Momma Louisiana. You mix that Negro and that Creole make a Texas Bama’ – Here Beyoncé gives us an insight into her background and heritage. Her father Matthew Knowles, is an African-American man hailing from Alabama and her mother Tina was born to a French-Canadian father who then eventually settled in Louisiana. It is worth noting that Alabama and Louisiana are both southern states, hence the down south theme running through her video.
In Louisiana, ‘Creole’ is used to describe french-speaking mixed race people.
Beyonce states that mixing her dads African American with her mothers mixed heritage makes a Texas Bama- ‘Bama’was once black slang for working class black people arriving North from the South. This may be a way of describing herself as a hardworking black woman from Texas who has made her way from the bottom to the top.
‘I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros’ – We all know that Beyoncé is also known as Queen Bey/Bee in this line she is talking about her ‘baby heir’ which of course would be the adorable Princess Blue Ivy. She is saying here that she likes her daughter to have her natural hair; ‘baby hair and afros’. In this line Beyoncé is once again addressing the‘haters’, there was a point where everyone was being incredibly disrespectful about Blue’s hair saying that she needs her hair doing, at one point someone even made a petition about Blue needing her hair combed. Bey was obviously aware of what was being said but this definitely shuts everyone up. Beyonce likes her daughters hair natural, thank you very much.
I love this line! There is nothing more pro-black, in my opinion, than people wearing and loving their natural hair with no apology and this is what this lyric alludes to, the innocence and beauty of natural hair.
‘I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils’- Here, not only is Beyoncé embracing yet another stereotypical black feature, she is also defending another family member; her husband Jay-Z. For the longest time, the size of Jay’s nose has been the subject of many unkind jokes, but guess what y’all; Queen B likes it!
Note; by saying ‘Jackson Five nostrils’ Bey is again alluding to the fact that natural is better, referring to the Jacksons when they were at more of an innocent state, with their beautiful yet natural features.
‘Earned all this money but they never take the country out me’- A very simple line, Beyoncé is letting all listeners know that despite how much money she has earned, she is still the same person, ‘never take the country out me’simply means that Beyoncé is still the same old country girl from Texas.
‘I got hot sauce in my bag, swag’- This is another way of telling us that she is still the same person by pointing to some very southern behaviour; carrying hot sauce in her bag.
I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it
I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it
I twirl on them haters, albino alligators
‘I stunt, yellow-bone it’ – To be ‘yellow-boned’means to be a light skinned black person with yellow rather than red undertones. In this lyric, Beyoncé makes it clear that she is proud to be a light skinned black woman, this may be another “so there” to people that claim that she bleaches her skin.
‘I dream it, I work it, I grind ’til I own it, I twirl on them haters, albino alligators’- Here Beyoncé is letting us know that she works and grinds hard until she owns the dream she has for her life. She also works so hard that she can own a $185,000 Hermès Birkin bag which is made of Albino crocodile skin. However, given the pro-black theme of the song, could ‘albino alligators’have another meaning? lets break it down, albinos are known to be white in appearance and alligator could be seen as something that is irrelevant or unimportant when you think of the saying ‘see you later alligator’, since this line follows ‘I twirl on them haters’, could she be referring to her haters as white people? And them not just being her haters but haters of her race too? Maybe I’m thinking too deep! But it may in fact be a double meaning.
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation, I slay
Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation
‘Okay, ladies, now lets get in formation, I slay’- With this lyric Beyoncé is showing female solidarity. She knows that she ‘slays’and wants all females to do the same, but not in a way where there is competition among us but where we are all working together on one accord. Yay girl power!
Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper
‘Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper’- The message here is simple, let your success do the talking. Beyoncé is always very gracious in the way that she is never seen responding to all the negativity that people throw at her, even when it was aimed at her ‘baby heir’, instead she continues to be successful leaving her haters to, well, hate. Here Beyoncé is giving some advice, at least she practices what she preaches!
These were some stand out lines from the song, but the real impactful part of the whole thing is DEFINITELY the video, it really got the message across. Let’s decode some key scenes.
In this scene we see Beyoncé sitting on top of a sinking police car in a very dominating manner, as she is a black woman, this gives the imagery of black people in America overcoming and maybe eventually even dominating police and their brutality against unarmed African-Americans. The fact that the car is sinking shows they will not survive the way they are going and justice will eventually come to pass.
2. Baby heir with baby hair
This is a great shot of the adorable Blue Ivy and two other little black beauties rocking their natural hair. This image is so important for young black girls to see, it always helps to see someone famous rock something you can identify with especially when we are constantly shown images of Eurocentric beauty.
3. All black everything
Here Beyoncé and four men stand wearing all black. this could be pointing toward the fact that everything about this song and video are black. Note; there are no white people in this video except the police. This really highlights the‘us and them’state that America is in right now.
4. Natural hair
In this scene Bey dancers all have afro styled hair, Queen B herself is even rocking a traditional black hairstyle, this song and video are very pro-natural, hopefully more people will follow suit and come to love rocking their own hair! This scene also represents female solidarity with everyone moving in ‘formation’.
5. Hands up
After dancing in front of the police, this hooded little black boy puts up his hands and the police quickly follow suit. This could be alluding to what I mentioned earlier; the roles being reversed, power been given back to the people and justice being served.
I must say that this type of song from Beyoncé has been a long time coming…But she came to SLAYon this one! America will undoubtedly remember Black History in 2016 .And finally in the words of Bey’, ladies lets SLAY, SLAY, SLAY ALL DAY!We are beautiful and powerful beings to be reckoned with NOW GO HARD!