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Did Beyonce Just Channel Lizzo With An Ableist Slur?

31 July 2022 | 2:45 pm | Staff Writer

"Guess I'll just keep telling the whole industry to do better until ableist slurs disappear from music"

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It's not just Kelis angry at Beyonce's new album 'Renaissance', with fans left scratching their heads as Queen B used the same derrogatory term on the record that Lizzo was called out for only last month. The track 'Heated', with lyrics contributed by Drake has been called out on social media for using the line 'Sp*zzin’ on that ass, sp*z on that ass" just six weeks after Lizzo was pressured into reissuing her song GRRLS to remove the term after social media backlash. 

With the internet debating whether the term has different meanings in different territories or whether common usage negates offence, the Lizzo furore was an opportunity for those in the disability community to speak out and make clear that words matter, with the term's origin referring to those with spastic paralysis or cerebral palsy. Lizzo quickly moved to amend the track, with all versions of the song across streaming platforms amended from "I'm a sp*z" to "hold me back". 

Lizzo explained the change, labeling the use of the term unintentional. 

“It has been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song GRRRLS," Lizzo stated in a statement. "Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I have had many hurtful words used against me so I understand the power words can have (whether intentionally, or in my case, unintentionally). This is the result of me listening and taking action. As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world."

It is hard to fathom that mere weeks after the incident, nobody on Beyonce's team flagged the term prior to the release of what was the year's most hotly anticipated albums. 

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Beyonce fan Zac Katz took to Twitter saying: "So very shortly after Lizzo humbly educated herself and changed the lyrics in Grrrls, Beyonce decided to move forward with using the same ableist slur in her song HEATED? Idk man. My love for Beyonce runs deep but…". Hannah Diveney, who fought for the Lizzo song change said "Feels like a slap in the face to me, the disabled community & the progress we tried to make with Lizzo.  Guess I'll just keep telling the whole industry to 'do better' until ableist slurs disappear from music"

Other fans have pointed out the double standard. If it's not OK for Lizzo, then it's not OK for Beyonce. 

'Renaissance' has already had a tough first few days at the office, with 'Milkshake' star Kelis criticising Beyonce on social media for not approaching her about sampling the hit song on the track 'Energy'. On an Instagram post, Kelis commented:

“My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all 3 parties involved is astounding. I heard about this the same way everyone else did. Nothing is ever as it seems , some of the people in this business have no soul or integrity and they have everyone fooled.” She later quipped, “it’s not a collab it’s theft.” Robin S, who's track 'Show Me Love' was also sampled on the album was also not alerted to the use, but as more conciliatory, thanking Beyonce for incorporating her track. 

At the time of publication, Beyonce has not responded to either criticism.