Beyoncé to re-record lyrics to a track on RENAISSANCE after backlash over ableist slur
Beyoncé to re-record ‘Heated’, after facing criticism from disability campaigners for including an ableist slur.
The song Heated, which was released on Friday along with her new album RENAISSANCE, contained a derogatory term which has often been used to degrade people with spastic cerebral palsy.
Spastic cerebral palsy is a developmental disorder caused by damage to the brain before birth, during delivery, or within the first few years of life. The condition prevents the normal development of motor function and results in stiff muscles which can make movement difficult or even impossible.
This type of cerebral palsy often makes simple tasks more challenging, such as walking or picking up small objects. Some children with spastic CP also develop co-occurring conditions as a result of their brain injury. Examples of these coexisting conditions include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.
Heated, co-written by Drake, uses a term twice towards the end of the song which, in many parts of the world, his considered highly-offensive to people living with the condition, with many agreeing its use in the context it has been enforces damaging stereotypes.
While others argue that the slur is considered to be less offensive in America, often being used to describe the sensation of “freaking out”.
Disability equality charity Scope described the Beyonce’s use of the term as “deeply offensive” and “appalling”, while disability advocate Hannah Divinely said the singer’s status as one of the most famous musicians in the world did not “excuse her use of ableist language”.
Writing for Guardian, Divinely said:
“It doesn’t excuse the fact that the teams of people involved in making this album somehow missed all the noise the disabled community made only six weeks ago when Lizzo did the same thing,” she wrote in the article, published before Beyoncé’s team confirmed the lyric would be removed.”
“It doesn’t explain how millions of people have already heard this album and yet aren’t raising the issue, except to make fun of or degrade the disabled community.”
Beyoncé’s publicist told BBC that the word, because of its different connotations in the US, was “not used intentionally in a harmful way”.
It “will be replaced in the lyrics”, they added.
The backlash comes just weeks after Lizzo faced criticism for using the same word in her track ‘GRRRLS’. The singer, who much like Beyoncé has a reputation for being a champion of equality, quickly apologised and re-recorded the song.
— FOLLOW @YITTY (@lizzo) June 13, 2022
Overall, RENAISSANCE has been incredibly well-received by fans and music critics alike.
Just days after it was released, Beyoncé occupied the top 9 spots on both the global and US Apple Music songs charts with tracks from the album and scored the biggest opening-day streams for an album by a female artist on global Spotify this year (43.25 million).
“I’M THAT GIRL” went straight to #1 on US Spotify with over 1.66 million streams, opening at #10 on the global chart, with over 3.882 million plays and the album is expected to debut at #1 in the US, becoming her seventh #1 album as a soloist, and the first album released by a woman this year to hit #1.
However this isn’t the first bit of controversy RENAISSANCE has courted, even in its infancy.
The day it was released, singer Kelis accused Beyoncé, along with Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo of The Neptunes, of thievery for sampling one of her biggest hits, Milkshake.
Kelis wrote on social media, “It’s not a collab it’s theft.” Read more about that, here.
In the UK, RENAISSANCE is currently outselling the rest of the top five combined. The lead single, Break My Soul, is also expected to top the charts.