This just in. Though bitches have been around since before the days of Delilah and Salome, they’ve recently evolved into a higher, more refined form. These creatures are reverentially known as bad bitches (canis femina superior).
Whether geneticists recognize this phenomenon or not, we’ve got Nicki Minaj self-describing as a “bad bitch…a cunt” down to “kick that ho, punt,” newcomer Azealia Banks serving notice that she’s a “bad bitch…that supply what your girlfriend can’t supply,” and Iggy Azalea proclaiming that she’s a “white girl [with] a team full of bad bitches.” Hell, Rick Ross has a bad bitch that resembles a tote filled with currency. (She’s a shapeshifter, too!) In short, there’s a lot of bad bitches runnin’ around. I wonder if all the hoes are scared that they’re gonna get crowded outta the market.
Enter Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad.” If you haven’t seen the video yet, check it out below.
The thrust of the song is that when “bitch” is used as a compliment, especially when combined with the contronym “bad,” it undermines emotional understanding between men and women. Seems pretty uncontroversial to me, but after reading a couple of articles where cats took Lupe to task on his position, especially this one, I had to speak on this a little bit.
In the aforementioned critique, Brandon Soderberg of SPIN goes the extra mile to tell us that this song and video are “moronic” attempts at preaching to the choir. According to him, we don’t need Lupe to inform us that bitch is bad and that lady is better, because hip-hop has sufficiently addressed that question and is already yawning. We’re on to “cunt” now, thanks to Azealia Banks. And besides, he writes, “does any female want to be called ‘a lady’?”
Soderberg’s argument that this song is evidence of Lupe’s severed connection with the heart of current rap music is patently laughable. I’ve already given multiple examples of the exact term “bad bitch” being (over)used by some of the most influential names in the genre, and if I’d had the chance to hit the strip club before writing this I would’ve been able to come back with like, a hot 97 more. No lie. I ain’t never told no lie, I ain’t never told no lie.
So, it’s Soderberg that seems out of touch. He points to Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” as an example of a track that “sensitively deconstructed” the use of the word “bitch,” but unless a sensitive deconstruction consists of using the word umpteen times, I don’t have a muthaeffin’ clue what he means. But, in the spirit of generosity, I’ll assume that he meant to reference Jay’s “Bitches & Sisters” off The Blueprint 2. “Unless you fucked a dude on his own merit and not the way he dribble a ball or draw lyrics you’re a BITCH!” Preach.
Anyway, Hova in fact does a great job of contrasting sisters and bitches there. And yes, others have broached the topic over the years, too. But what makes Lupe’s take interesting is the fact that he doesn’t explicitly tell us why being a bitch is bad, he shows us, via a nicely packaged fairy tale, that being a bitch must necessarily be a negative thing. No matter how much attractiveness, independence and self-determination being a “bad bitch” might imply on a good day, it’s still associated with vampiric women possessed by a thirst for cash and attention. That inherent dissonance is why the cats hollerin’ about bad bitches are the same ones screamin’ that they don’t love them.
When you tell a woman that a bad bitch essentially does all that a “basic” bitch does except maybe have sex with your homeys (unless you want her to do so, in which case she might be extra “bad”), you’re begging for a problem. So, y’all keep sending and accepting those mixed signals. Meanwhile, a generation of women are growing up believing that bad bitches are the shit…when they’re really just shitty.