Beyoncé’s surprise album Lemonade left a lot to be unpacked. Even a line like, “He only want me when I’m not there/ He better call Becky with the good hair” is loaded with meaning. While there’s clearly a deeper commentary going on about society’s white ideal of beauty (see: Chris Rock’s Good Hair, “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros,” or modern day Lil’ Kim), most of the media has focused on identifying “Becky” herself. Iggy Azalea, however, doesn’t care who the name refers to; she just thinks it’s racist.
The Australian rapper has always had a rather nebulous relationship with race in America, but a recent series of tweets shows she may have missed the point of Bey’s “Sorry” line. Becky as a term generally refers to the concept of a “basic white girl,” though there can also be a connotation relating to oral sex; Azalea herself used it in the latter context on FKi’s “I Think She Ready”. Though it’s apparent Beyoncé was referring to a specific girl (or girls?) as she (they?) relates to the phenomenon of black men preferring white women to black women, Azalea argued that she was unjustly generalizing.
The Twitter spree started when Azalea was apparently called a Becky by another user (whose account is private and thus the original offending tweet can’t be seen). Azalea responded by demanding she never be referred to as a Becky, and when called out for using the word herself in her own lyrics, she replied:
And that’s when things started getting heated.
Though she initially tried to qualify her outrage, her later remarks do appear to speak in more general terms, ones which would include Beyoncé’s lyrics.
While Azalea has a point in that using any one name to generalize an entire race of people is inappropriate, that’s not exactly what’s happening with Becky. Becky is rarely — if ever — used to degrade an entire race, but is more precisely used to refer to a type of, yes, white person. Calling a black person George (or “Deshawn”) is entirely different than using the term Becky. And again, there’s the whole context in which Beyoncé uses it, which brings up greater questions of cultural concepts of beauty.
Fans tried to point some of this out to Azalea, but she stuck to her guns.
At the same time, while she clearly has a problem with the term on racial grounds, she says her remarks were more about the name being directed at her than how it was used in “Sorry”.