Iggy Azalea (left) and Beyoncé (right). (AP Photos)
It took just eight words for Beyoncé to unleash a tornado of controversy that has swept up all of pop culture since her surprise album “Lemonade” debuted April 23.
The HBO premiere of Beyoncé’s visual album “Lemonade” has drawn gushing acclaim and slack-jawed awe from critics and fans, alike, including many celebrities. But the album, with its saber-sharp lyrics on matters of infidelity, violent retribution, breakups and other relationship woes, has also stirred a claim of counter-racism.
The lyric at the center of the firestorm alludes to a woman with whom the album’s “he”—some speculate it’s Beyoncé’s husband, Jay-Z—has an affair: “He only want me when I’m not there / He better call Becky with the good hair.”
Along with conjectures about the real or fictional identity of “Becky,” the allusion has also drawn criticism from at least one other entertainer about the racial connotations.
“Don’t ever call me a Becky…. you would not be down if I started calling all Black men ‘deshawns,’” Australian rapper Iggy Azalea wrote in response to another Twitter user this week. “Generalizing ANY race by calling them one stereotypical name for said race I personally don’t think is very cool, the end.”
Many may remember “Becky” from Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back,” in which a White model offers the narrow-minded denigration: “Oh my god, Becky, look at her butt.”
But the name has other longstanding references in the American cultural lexicon through literature, movies and songs, according to a historical analysis by USA Today. The term “Becky” has come to mean a woman—usually White—who schemes her way to social success, usually through the performance of sex, particularly the act of fellatio.
“We all know ‘becky’ started because you all think white girls just go around slobbing on everyone’s d–k,” Azalea said in her comments.
She went on to say her objection was not meant to cast “shade” on Queen Bey.
“No I don’t think Beyoncé is racist nor do I think calling someone ‘BECKY’ is the same as a racial slur. I actually like her and the project,” the rapper wrote in response to some who questioned her motives. “BUT, no I don’t think it’s great to use stereotypical names to describe ANY race. I think we can all agree on that.”