Keeping up with this Beyoncé Themed Throwback Thursday, I'd like to share with y'all my initial reaction to the release and backlash of the original Flawless, her Bow Down/I Been On single, which received heavy criticisms after the queen's album, 4. Read through the full article below.
The Princess Motif
When I was little, I was a very prissy girl. I loved easter colors, wore tons of dresses (most of which had floral prints), and above all, swore up and down that I was a pretty pretty princess. I dreamed that one day a handsome, and fantastically rich, young man would sweep me off my feet, set me up in a mansion and we would live happily ever after. In terms of hobbies, most of my days were spent memorizing songs or trying to mimic dance routines from Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, TLC, and all the other black, female greats of the 90s. I know my mom used to sit back and think, “I wish she would spend as much time with her books as she does with them damn music videos” but she never tried to stop me.
As I got older, though, the Disney & R&B inspired fantasies that filled my mind faded, and I learned that everyone, especially women, were not granted the same opportunities to attain success. If I wanted to have my big house, my walk-in closet, and my horse-n-chariot, I would have to earn it. Furthermore, that prince would end up being just one of the many things life didn’t guarantee.
Today, I am 23, independent, and a Master’s Candidate without a single ring on my finger. It’s not the original blueprint, but it works for me right now, and I’m comfortable. Of course women don’t always accept this reality, and I would be lying if I said it was easy for me to accept it either. If ALL YOUR LIFE, you were fed this notion that there will be someone to take the rein and make all your dreams come true, you would be reluctant to think otherwise. And sometimes it’s easier to go along with the program instead of challenging the very systems that created these unrealistic notions in the first place.
The Carter Dynasty
With regard to Beyonce’s latest release, Bow Down/I Been On, it’s interesting to see how she simultaneously reinforces this system, but argues that there is little to no access to it. Meaning, although she is part of the reason why women aspire to be like her, she does not wish to share the throne. Check out verse 2:
I know when you were little girls
You dreamed of being in my world
Don't forget it, don't forget it
Respect that, bow down, bitches
Think about it like this. If everyone were rich, then no one would be rich. The same thing applies to Beyonce. If all of us were iconic queens, like Mrs. Carter, then none of us would be. And it’s not like Beyonce is new to this lifestyle either, so like us, she is reluctant to let go. Throughout the song, you can see how she was fed the same ideology we were, except hers was a reality. She’s “been on” since her youth, and has had access to things we could only pretend to have. Towards the end of the song she sings:
I remember my baby hair
With my dooky braids
In the parking lot
Shout out to Willie D
I was in that WIllie D video
When I was bout 14
Shoutout to Pimp C
You know we used to sneak and listen to that UGK
“Baby hair and dooky braids” suggests an access to style and fashion because although we all wanted hair extensions when we were little, our parents couldn’t afford to let us have them whenever we wanted to. Also, she mentions Frenchy’s Boudin, a brand of French sausage, which shines light on her privileged lifestyle. She wasn’t eating regular sausage links for breakfast, she was eating gourmet meats, like a princess.
Next, she refers to her appearance in a Willie D video, hinting at her success in the entertainment industry before her Destiny’s Child fame--another highlight of her privileged childhood. According to Allhiphop.com, the Houston rapper knew the young phenom when she was 10 years old and “never saw a 10-year old like that.”
Then she hints at how she used to "sneak" and listen to UGK as a kid, meaning hip-hop & rap weren't allowed in the house. This suggests a structured, strict upbringing, one in which her parents didn't encourage the "poison" of rap. Therefore, she had to hide her true musical influences despite her involvement with the industry itself. Finally, the tracks’ album cover confirms these allusions, as a young Bey, with her elegant pink gown, is surrounded by trophies and ribbons, adorned with a tiara atop her noble brow. If this isn’t the life of a future Queen, I don’t know what is.
Don’t Hate the Queen,