Like everyone else, I watched “The Throne” and eagerly anticipated the release of the collaborative album by Kanye West and Jay-Z. I found it to be a solid record, if not a classic. I’m at the point in my life where the consummate materialism and bragging about all the things they have that we never will is more annoying than inspirational, so that was a big factor in buoying my excitement. However, what bothered me the most about the whole album is a previously-released bonus cut called “That’s My Bitch.”
The debate over Hip-Hop and the ‘b’ word is old as the genre itself; in fact, it’s hardly even a discussion anymore. Women who will curse you out to the end of the Earth for calling them out their names in real life, will gladly sing “bitch” at the top of their lungs as if they had something in common with Too Short. The most common excuse was well-documented by Chris Rock: “He ain’t talking about me!” Meh. That argument loses steam when we know who one of the dudes is rapping about and, um, she’s one of the biggest stars in the world.
Kanye’s being Kanye on the track: mad at Amber Rose and sounding as bitter about women as always. Androgynous singer Elly Jackson of the group La Roux sings a boring, soulless pop hook which has become an odd staple in rap music. And then there’s Jay, waxing poetic about how fly Beyonce is and the lack of Black women who are celebrated for their beauty:
“Go harder than a n-gga for a n-gga go figure
Told me “keep my own money” if we ever did split up
How can somethin’ so gangsta be so pretty in pictures?
With jeans and a blazer and some Louboutin slippers
Uh, Picasso was alive he woulda made her
That’s right n-gga Mona Lisa can’t fade her
I mean Marilyn Monroe, she’s quite nice
But why all the pretty icons always all white
Back to my Beyonces
You deserve three stacks, word to Andre
Call Larry Gagosian, you belong in museums
You belong in vintage clothes watching the whole building
You belong with n-ggas who used to be known for dope dealing
You too dope for any of those civilians
Now, shoo n-gga, stop looking at her tits
Get ya own dog, ya heard
That’s my b-tch”
All that nice stuff and she doesn’t deserve better than “that’s my bitch?” Don’t get me wrong, I believe Jay has the utmost respect and admiration for Beyonce. And I think it’s cool that after years of sending subtle shout-outs her way, he very explicitly praises her this time around. That’s dope; let the youngins know it’s cool to love your wife. But why she gotta be his “bitch?”
Jay has long since been a trendsetter and his influence on youth culture is immeasurable. Please do recall the throwback jersey to button-up shirt transition of the early part of the decade and the virtual disappearance of Cristal after his boycott of the brand. This song isn’t gonna put ‘bitch’ in the mouth of people who weren’t saying it before, but imagine if he said ‘my lady’ or ‘my queen’ or simply ‘my woman’ instead? All these little wannabe rappers would be right behind him.
I doubt that Jay would have released such a song if Beyonce had a problem with it and if that language works for them, I realize that criticism becomes a bit more challenging. I’m just not with any dude using that sort of term for his woman and when your partner has been praised by First Lady Michelle Obama for being a role model for young women and even participated in a national campaign for the youth in conjunction with the White House…perhaps that sort of pet name should remain within the confines of the Knowles-Carter home.