The Grammy award-winning artist Lizzo released “GRRRLS”, the second single of her much anticipated sophomore album Special this past Friday, and it took all of two days before the “Juice” rapper was trending on social media with calls to action to take out a word from her song because of it’s offense to the disable community.
The uptempo bass-heavy song seems like the soundtrack to the pre-game session right before you and your b***s (Lizzo’s words, not mine). It’s a backdrop to the crazy club nights, where guys try to buy you drinks right before one of the girls in the pack gets that passive-aggressive text from her partner, ruining her night with angry pleas to come home early. The song is about being your authentic self with a bestie, but that’s not what some of Lizzo’s fans were upset about.
Here are the original lyrics and words that upset some of Lizzo’s fans, “Hold my bag/Do you see this s***? I’m a spazz.” Fans went to Twitter to ask Lizzo to remove the word spazz, as it’s considered an “ableist slur,” educating her on the word’s history in some communities.
Lizzo expressed her deepest apologies on Monday and immediately changed the lyrics, rereleasing a new version of the song without the word:
But it didn’t stop there. Some folks were split in the decision to abruptly change the word in the song especially with its meaning in different communities.
Some listeners weren’t offended by the use of the word, given its context and connection to African American Vernacular English. People who’ve grown up in more urban communities are used to the word meaning to lose control, typically over being angered at something or someone and possibly leading to a fight.
Others felt the hip hop goal post was being moved for Lizzo, citing other rappers using more highly offensive words in their lyrics like Cardi B using the word retard in her song “Shake It” feat. Cardi B, Dougie B & Bory300. Some thought the backlash to Lizzo may have been too harsh, primarily since Lizzo is widely known for being one of the least problematic rappers.
Maybe Lizzo isn’t being given the same pass as her more urban rap counterparts.
Lizzo is known to have a more pop audience with younger fans. Her music and brand are geared towards body acceptance and positivity. Because of this, Lizzo’s audience requires a certain social responsibility not to offend any minority group. If she were in a more hip
hop genre, the wild wild west of music genre where anything goes, maybe she wouldn’t have been moved to change the lyric, and maybe those fans wouldn’t have cared.
Does Lizzo being “held accountable” come at a cost to her connection to her culture? While the word has a derogatory lineage in specific communities, other communities have chosen to embrace the term. It’s associated with having to “get buck” with someone when they made you mad or being forced to defend yourself, which, according to some hip hop songs, is respected.