When Beyonce dropped her latest album ‘Renaissance’, little did she know that her instant acclaim would suddenly turn into immediate outrage within days as disability campaigners bashed her for using a derogatory word in one of her new songs.
In her new song, ‘Heated’ which was co-written by Canadian rapper Drake, features Beyonce singing the following lyric: “Spazzin’ on that ass, spaz on that ass.” The term ‘spaz’ is regarded as an offensive word used to demean people with cerebral palsy.
Who would have thought that a track titled “Heated” would get so much heat and backlash for an ableist slur that is considered so demeaning according to the UK-based disability charity Sense.
Well, the truth is, Beyonce isn’t the only singer who has come under attack for using the same term in their songs. Another music artist named Lizzo found herself in the same mess after she sang a lyric on the track “GRRRLS” on her latest album ‘Special’, released in June, featuring the line: “Hold my bag, bitch, hold my bag / Do you see this shit? I’m a spaz.”
Beyonce is re-recording her song Heated after facing criticism for ableist slur
After some much backlash, both singers have quickly responded to the criticism by announcing plans to re-release their songs without the insulting remark.
The term “spaz” has a long history in the American music industry, and it has been used a lot since it is not considered much as an insult in the US than it is in the UK or Australia.
In the UK, the term “has become an insult, used against disabled people, or anyone to imply stupidity or physical ineptness,” according to Sense. Meanwhile, in the US, the word is sometimes used to refer to losing physical control or simply acting ‘weird’ or ‘uncool’.
According to a statement released by Sense:
“We recognise that the word was not used intentionally by Beyoncé to cause harm. But words have power and can reinforce negative attitudes marginalised groups face. Beyoncé has a history of championing inclusivity, and we’re happy that she’s listened to feedback from disabled people and agreed to re-record the lyric that many find offensive.”— Sense
Aside from Lizzo and Beyonce, they aren’t the only music artists who have used the word in their songs. Nicki Minaj used the term in several of her songs, including 2008’s “Curious George” and her 2010 duet with Eminem “Dungeon Dragon”. The same can be said for Rihanna and Kanye West too.
With her new album out, and her song ‘Break My Soul,’ topping the world charts. Beyonce last month became the first woman in history to have 20 top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 as a solo artist, and 10 on the chart as a member of a group.