Beyoncé Is Back to Female Empowerment on New Single "Grown Woman"

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
May 21 2013 1:10 AM

Beyoncé Is a “Grown Woman” on New Single

Beyoncé performs at the Super Bowl
Beyoncé's new single is her latest anthem of female empowerment.

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

To be a lead single from Beyoncé these days, you need four things: A syncopated, up-tempo beat, some stabs of brass or synths to go over it, a chorus of female shout-along voices (mostly Beyoncé’s), and a message of female empowerment.

It started with “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It),” off I Am… Sasha Fierce, it continued with “Run the World (Girls),” off 2011’s excellent 4, and now it continues once again, with “Grown Woman,” from her as-yet untitled forthcoming album. As you can hear below, the new song has hit the Web, and all Beyoncé forgot was the parenthetical.

Update, May 21, 2013: The song has been removed from SoundCloud. For the moment, at least, it still seems to be up on YouTube, or you can listen here.

The first thing you’ll notice is the piped-in crowd noise—which is probably unnecessary for someone whose hair appears to blow on its own—but soon the beat drops in, reportedly courtesy of Timbaland. It certainly sounds like his work, complete with the kind of a-cappella-style vocal percussion that’s all over his collaborations with Justin Timberlake, which it mashes up with an island rhythm that falls somewhere between sped-up reggaeton and a vogue beat. The song was reportedly written by The-Dream, and—though it features none of his signature repetitions of “ay ay” or “radio killa”—it’s certainly up to his usual high standard.

I’ll leave it to the all the women who are independent to debate the message—some may hear the same contradictions she’s embodied for years—but it’s worth noting that here Beyoncé flaunts her moneymaking as much her moneymaker: “’Cause I put it down like that/ And I’m making all these racks,” she sings, before getting to the Kelly Rowland-meets-Cartman chorus, “I’m a grown woman/ Do whatever I want.” Whatever your politics, or gender, by the time she harmonizes with herself on “If you’ve got a cute face/ And a booty so fat/ Go girl,” it’s irresistible.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer. 

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