Beyoncé‘s new album Renaissance has been met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, but the acclaimed singer faced backlash from activists after Friday’s record-breaking release for a lyric deemed “ableist.”
On the song “Heat,” which Beyoncé co-wrote with Drake, she sings: “Spazzin’ on that ass, spazz on that ass.” The word “spaz” is a derogatory term for spastic diplegia, a form of cerebral palsy, which makes it difficult for people to control some muscles. It seems Queen Bey heard her critics as she will be tweaking the line.
“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” a rep for Beyoncé confirms to Variety.
So @Beyonce used the word ‘spaz’ in her new song Heated. 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 💔
— Hannah Diviney (@hannah_diviney) July 30, 2022
Beyoncé isn’t the only star who unintentionally used the ableist slur. Lizzo used the offensive word on her hit song “Grrrls” earlier this summer (“I’m a spaz / I’m about to knock somebody out”). Writer and disability advocate, Hannah Diviney, tweeted at Lizzo, explaining “your new song makes me pretty angry + sad.”
Hey @lizzo my disability Cerebral Palsy is literally classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in my legs) your new song makes me pretty angry + sad. ‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. Do better.
— Hannah Diviney (@hannah_diviney) June 12, 2022
The message went viral and Lizzo changed the lyric.
“Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat Black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I [understand] the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally),” she said in a statement.
The backlash didn’t slow down Beyoncé. Spotify announced on Friday that Renaissance is the most-streamed album in a single day by a female artist in 2022.