Music Analysis

11 November 2016

“Bitch Bad” is popular hip-hop song performed by Chicago native rapper, Lupe Fiasco. The song depicts the word bitch in the many forms that it is used in today’s urban society. The song starts with a dark weary synthesizer and a heavy deep 808 drum pattern that reflects the sound that is used in many of today’s popular club/party songs. The words to the song shine a stereotypical light on “bad bitches,” but there is a twist. Fiasco highlights 3 significant points which is the basis of the song, “Bitch bad, woman good, lady better” (Fiasco, Bitch Bad).

By producing this song, Lupe Fiasco points out the relevance and impact that the term has on modern day youth. Fiasco also wanted to make an attempt to steer people in the opposite direction from the normal stereotype of the well-known and overrated term ‘bad bitch. ’ As the first verse starts, Fiasco brings listeners into the world of a young male, around the age of 4 or 5 that picks up on the music his mother listens to that has references of women as being bad bitches. Fiasco describes how the mother sings to the song playing and her son is listening to her sing along to the lyrics.

Fiasco states the more the son hears his mother play this type of music, he develops a certain complex on how he views women that use the “bad bitch” phrase. By the son being such a tender age, he receives the song based on what he sees in his mother instead of the derogatory way the song is describing women. The young boy forms his own opinion of the bad bitch theory. His own mother, whom he looks up to and admires, calls herself a bad bitch, so he depicts the term “bad bitch” to be positive.

To him it resembles a strong, independent, respectful woman because this is how he sees his mother, as opposed to a woman that is weak, dependent and unstable. The hook to the song “Bitch Bad” illuminates the 3 categories of women: bitch, woman, and lady. “Bitch bad, woman good/ Lady better, they misunderstood/ (I’m killin’ these bitches)” (Fiasco, Bitch Bad). These lyrics are self-explanatory. This hook is saying that being called a bitch is a bad thing, being called a woman is better, but being called a lady is phenomenal.

Lupe Fiasco is trying to tell young girls, or young women, what they should be trying to aspire to be instead of trying to be what they see on the television screens or hear on the radio. More recently in urban society being a woman or a lady has lost its value. The message that Lupe Fiasco is trying to send out to the audience of this song is that being a bad bitch is not a positive look. In verse two of the song “Bad Bitch,” Fiasco breaks down how a young group of girls in their pre-teen stage listen to songs and watch music videos on the internet.

The videos are uncensored and because they know more about the internet than their parents, they don’t get parental consent. Children tend to know a lot more about modern day technology than their parents. This is how children such as the ones described in this verse, are able to watch uncensored items online. The young girls are at an age where they need a positive female role model, but instead they are influenced by the women they see in music videos.

These young girls receive a different persona of a bad bitch than the young boy in the first verse. Bad bitches to them are women that have sex appeal, skinny with big butts, and wear sexy and revealing clothing. As the song states “High heels, long hair, fat booty, slim… They don’t see a paid actress, just what makes a bad bitch” (Fiasco, Bitch Bad). The girls have this image in their heads, and without proper guidance, this is what they want to grow up to be.

The third verse begins by Fiasco stating that he is not trying to teach children to use the term “bitch” but as a psychological way to let listeners know that he is against the use of the word. This verse combines the first two and it continues with the observation of how small the world really is and the young boy from the first verse and one of the young girls from the second verse meet. Fiasco continues on to illustrate how the boy is viewing the girl in an insolent way based on how she is dressed, but she is saying it in a sexual way. His viewing of a bad bitch is not what the girl is showcasing. Sure enough, in this little world/The little boy meets one of those little girls/And he thinks she a bad bitch/And she thinks she a bad bitch/He thinks disrespectfully/She thinks of that sexually/She got the wrong idea/He don’t wanna fuck her/He thinks she’s bad at being a bitch/Like his mother” (Fiasco, Bitch Bad). She is flaunting her half-dressed body in front of him, yet he is telling her that his mother didn’t do things like that, and that is what he knows to be a bad bitch. The young man fostered his view on the term from what he saw in his mother, a respectful woman.

They young lady obtained her view from the flashy video girls she saw in music videos. The term ‘bad’ back in earlier years portrayed a woman who had her life together and was sexy in a respectful way. She was the woman that didn’t need assistance from the male counterpart. Black moguls in the rap/hip hop community, such as Dame Dash, Russell Simmons, Nicki Minaj, and Jay-Z have taken the word ‘bad’ and made the ‘bitch’ addition and spread it through the black culture. Now a female who has lower standards perceives that she’s a “bad bitch” because she is being uplifted by the black urban community.

Society today can take the term “bad bitch’ as being either good or bad. Marc Hogan, writer for Spin Magazine, stated “Clearly, something has changed in hop hop’s relationship with anti-woman slurs…and that’s ostensibly what Lupe Fiasco tries to address…” (Hogan). The perception of women slurs all depend on individual perceptions and how much impact social media has on an individual. This song released in August 2012. Upon its music video release, MTV did an interview with Lupe Fiasco. During this interview, Fiasco stated that he “just wanted to have a conversation,” (Fiasco, Interview).

Lupe also suggested that because there is no solidification to the term bad bitch, “…it’s definitely something that I think we should talk about because it’s so prevalent in our culture right now” (Fiasco, Interview). Lupe is trying to get the world to understand that a bad bitch is a double standard as stated in the lyrics “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” (Fiasco, Bitch Bad). Rob Markman stated that “Lupe Fiasco knows all too well the power of words. ” This is very true.

Fiasco’s music is well known in the hip hop industry for relaying some kind of message. Lupe Fiasco did precisely what he set out to do, spark a conversation and produce different point of views. “Depending on where you stand, the term “bad bitch” may have positive or negative connotations…” (Markman). Fiasco let the world know that is was more to being a ‘bad bitch’. What viewers see in music videos is only one perception. Needless to say, “…whether you consider “bitch” empowering or degrading, there is always something to ponder on” (Viera), and Lupe Fiasco definitely gave his listeners, and non-listeners, something to think about.

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