"B-tch bad, woman good." Sounds like the hook to a radio hit, right? But keep listening and you'll quickly notice that Lupe Fiasco is using that hook to catch a bigger fish -- a conversation on the confusion around the B-word.
I don't need to remind you that hip-hop invented this word, do I? Well, it's true. In the summer of 1977, a group of hip-hop artists held a secret meeting in New York City. Its purpose? To invent a five-word synonym for female dog. And b-tch was born. Two months later, the same group reconvened to coin the term "hoe." "N-gga" came six months after that.
Anyway, "B-tch Bad" is the second single from Food & Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album. In it, Lupe takes on the oft-misunderstood, casually confusing B-word. He takes on a didactic tone, purposefully delivering his lines in a clumsy manner (aka "dumbing down") to stress the mediocrity of the songs he's parodying. And it's all set to a generic drum pattern. Haha.
More importantly, though, Lupe is satirizing the attitudes associated with the word b-tch, a word which evolves in meaning depending on usage, user, and context. He's explaining -- as best as you could possibly explain in song format -- the confusing and sometimes destructive nature of the word.
The song starts with a simple story about a boy observing his mom's interaction with a rap song. He hears her call herself a "bad b-tch" and internalizes the word in a negative context. Worse still, he links it to the most significant female presence in his life, his mother. In the second verse, we meet a group of young girls watching YouTube to learn who to become "bad b-tches."
Same expression, different context.
The song ends with the boy from Verse 1 meeting one of the girls from Verse 2. Confusion ensues. "He caught in a reality, she caught in an illusion," Lupe raps. "Bad mean good to her, she really nice and smart/But bad mean bad to him, b-tch don't play your part/But b-tch still bad to her if you say it the wrong way/But she think she a b-tch, what a double entendre?"
This isn't a new conversation. Nothing is. And surely, it's a much more complex issue than Lupe is leading on. What counts, however, is that he's trying to engage hip-hop in an important conversation.
Assata Shakur once said, "hip-hop can be a very powerful weapon to help expand young people's political and social consciousness. But just as with any weapon, if you don't know how to use it, if you don't know where to point it, or what you're using it for, you can end up shooting yourself in the foot or killing your sisters or brothers." Lupe is pointing hip-hop in the right direction.
Food & Liquor II drops September 25.