Beyoncé’s Renaissance finally arrived on Friday (July 29), with fans and critics greeting her seventh album with near-universal acclaim. However, not everyone celebrated the release, as some people found its lyrical content offensive.
The offensive lyric in question occurs on “Heated,” track eleven of the album. Beyoncé sings throughout the song using the ableist slur “spaz” multiple times in the track’s outro, where she begins a braggadocious rap-sung verse:
“Spazzin’ on that ass, spaz on that ass/Fan me quick, girl, I need my glass/Fan me off, my wrist goes click/Dimples on my hip, stretch marks on my tits/Drinkin’ my water, mindin’ my biz/Monday, I’m overrated, Tuesday, on my d**k,” Beyonce declares.
Though “Heated” quickly became a fan favorite, the backlash for Beyoncé’s use of the slur has prompted her team to respond to the ableist claims. According to Variety, Beyoncé’s team vowed they would alter the song’s lyrics.
“The word, not used intentionally in a harmful way, will be replaced,” a statement from Beyoncé’s team reads.
A similar incident happened to Lizzo back in June when she included the slur in her song “Grrrls.” Lizzo would ultimately change the song’s lyrics after receiving immense backlash from the disabled community.
“Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language,” she wrote in her initial apology. “As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally.)”
The disabled community has indicated that the term “spaz” is short for Spastic Diplegia Cerebral Palsy, and its use is acknowledged as a slur.
According to Genetic and Rare Diseases (GARD), Spastic Diplegia is a phenomenon, “a neurological condition that usually appears in infancy or early childhood, and permanently affects muscle control and coordination. Symptoms include increased muscle tone, which leads to spasticity (stiff or tight muscles and exaggerated reflexes) in the legs.”
The “Heated” controversy arrives on the heels of Kelis erupting on the singer on social media ahead of Renaissance’s release. Kelis claimed that Beyonce’s use of her “Milkshake” sample on “Energy” wasn’t a collaboration but “theft” because Beyonce’s team hadn’t reached out to her to use the track — a track in which she isn’t credited as a songwriter or producer.